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About Catlover54

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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    science, history, oceans, wine, fine dining, people-watching, politics, plinking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Seabourn, Hapag-Lloyd

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  1. Mrs. Waldo, thank you for sharing your atypical experience, as so many post elsewhere that they never declare anything and never have trouble. It seems pill testing of vitamins in ziplocks stamped with what they are in the hand luggage of benign appearing luxury cruisers is a bit extreme. I am not clear how having smaller containers ( vitamins are sold in big and even bigger containers in U.S. to help make them cheap) should reassure customs, as criminals could just put whatever they are smuggling into containers labeled Multivitamins, unless every pill is tested no matter what the label says. I suspect a lot of this is security theatre, as with much of what the TSA in America does beyond just having pax walk through the metal detector and nudiscope. But I will keep this in mind and mull it over more.. Maybe I can have the doctor add in the letter that due to my difficulty lifting a lot of weight and hauling bulky volumes, she instructed me to take just small amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals and uncontrolled meds, in ziplocks, in my carryon ( which is what I always do for Europe except for the controlled substances which I leave in their labeled bottles primarily for American customs to see if they want on my return). I had no trouble with my ziplocks last time to Australia a few years ago when I was ignorant on the rules, even when the dogs disinterestedly went by my carryon with all misc. medications and supplements in it, but no one stopped me, so I was apparently just lucky. It was much easier when I was young and and healthy and did not need to carry any meds at all. 😟
  2. This link deals with prescription controlled substances a bit more. It is not what the OP has but some, e.g., people with cancer, severe pain, and/or insomnia, or those taking prescription testosterone ( schedule III controlled in U.S.) may be interested. On the one hand the link recommends a letter from the doctor for a list of meds and dosing, or the prescription, on the other it states they want meds even for personal use in their original bottles for easy ID. Three month limit on supply is allowed, which will cover most cruisers. Other au.gov links even list concerns about some common vitamins, e.g., vitamin D may or may not be declared, depending on the dose. Sudafed ( with ephedrine) is also of concern, for those bringing in cold or allergy meds ( likely because people can use it to brew meth). https://www.odc.gov.au/travellers I plan to cover all bases as my cruise will start and end in Australia and with all my medical issues, I need my meds to be able to make it. I will have a detailed doctor letter listing all meds, prescribed and over the counter, and will keep controlled substances in original containers. I will risk putting other boring meds like BP pills and vitamins divided up into little medication ziplocks with labels as the link does not specifically say we need to bring in our big mail order pharmacy bottles that have more air volume than medication. I will also say “yes” if they ask about drugs without the adjective “illegal” preceding it. I think the letter will likely be all they want to see and will waive me through once they see who I am personally, and that all is declared, but will allow extra time on arrival just in case. I will also print out the relevant online section, But I won’t bring breath mints, which I saw confiscated from an octogenarian couple when entering Melbourne cruise port a few years ago.
  3. Luxury to me is about having a lot of space to comfortably sit, and to enjoy the sea away from noisy crowds if not in the mood for chatter. It is also about being able to avoid standing in big lines. A redundancy in service personnel facilitates this. I particularly love the luxury of having someone at reception on a cruise or at a hotel immediately answer and speak politely and helpfully when I call with a question or about an issue.
  4. DH brings one black suit. I bring one dark “formal” outfit that fits in and is comfortable but makes no fashion statement. We blend into the environment. No one notices or cares if we wear the same thing twice or thrice because there are so many other people like us blending into the environment. We have too many electronics and health related products to drag along with us that take up valuable space, so even if in business class with its 70lb per case limit we are loaded with other things as we still need to potentially be able to drag our own luggage if things go wrong. SB does a good job ironing and touching up dress clothing so that is not a barrier if you want to bring finicky clothing. But I love seeing the ladies ( usually younger than me) in beautiful outfits, some so beautiful I wish they would wear them on a second night! It is like looking at works of art, part of the joy of traveling.
  5. I am curious as to why the countries that require six months’ extra validity on passports have those rules in the first place. Was there a problem in the past with foreign visitors’ travel plans getting delayed many months past expiration dates? I’ve heard of and experienced major flight delays, but six months ???
  6. Are the new water bottles glass? How big are they? Are plastic water bottles for or on excursions, or at the pool, still available?
  7. Thank you for your balanced review. It sounds like the Odyssey I remember from a few months ago, though with more things broken.
  8. Congratulations, Lois, on booking your first post-retirement cruise! Though I always enjoyed the physical and emotional healing effects of cruising, hanging over the head was always concern about having to return to work post-cruise. The first cruise I took after my recent retirement felt much different — I did not have the dread of having to return to work right after, and just visited friends in the area instead! So much more relaxing. You will have a blast.
  9. Beejay, based on your description, I am glad we will not be connecting through Sydney ( at least not this trip), just flying in, and out. I am equally embarrassed about so many U.S. airports ( though fortunately not by my local San Francisco airport) , especially the many surly airport and TSA personnel. But at least you got to sit ( unlike in St. Martin at Christmas, when people were on the floors or standing for hours due to flight delays and lack of chairs). First world problems, I know, but it is good to know what one is getting into. My fantasy for long-haul trips is to be put to sleep and then just wake up ensconced in soft pillows in the arrival port hotel destination 🙂
  10. I appreciate all the responses from people in the know about SYD. If I were alone, ( I am now retired) I would spend at least another week in and around Sydney post-cruise , based on what I have read and heard about it, and not just the few days pre-cruise we have planned. But DH wants to get back to work asap post cruise ( that will help pay for more cruises 🙂). I decided to opt for a discounted business class airfare purchase through the cruiseline, ( SB) which warrants they will not book flights with unrealistic departure times, or they pay for the reroute. And to minimize risk of lines causing us to miss our flight, in addition to certainty on being able to use priority lines for business class on luggage checkin and for security, we will plan to get to the airport at least three hours ahead of time ( preferably more, if the ship allows us to get off) . DH is keen to try to plan for a disembarkation day flight so in case something goes wrong that day, our plan B will be an overnight with a cruiseline guaranteed business class reroute the next day, and not risk another day’s delay if something goes wrong with the Monday plane even if we are there. The worst thing about cruising is getting there and coming back, as many of you know all too well. I envy Europeans, who are a one or two hour flight from many interesting cruiseports and a lot of history. From where we are, it is always a long haul no matter what direction we go to cruise except to Alaska ( four trips) and to Mexico ( two trips, which was one too many). I look forward to visiting Sydney and other intriguing Australian ports.
  11. Thanks to all, very helpful ( and belated apologies for all my typos in my first post, which tell me one should not post anything at all after spending the evening in a jazz club ) 😳 I took the plunge on a San Francisco to and from Australia business class roundtrip through SB. My TA claims they said we will be able to earn FF miles ( hope they are right, not the end of world if wrong) . Internet showed the fare SB offered was $1600 per person less than an advance purchase discounted business fare on the airline we typically use for a non-stop, though the fare is nonrefundable once purchased. We will be getting into town a few days early pre-cruise, so will be on our own then. Likely SB will offer an early group bus we can use to get to the airport on time on disembarkation day for a 1 PM flight ( unclear right now), if not, we will just have to reserve a “wagon” at extra cost to haul us plus our abundant luggage on time ( I like to be very early for international flights — a few days ago I arrived at Frankfurt airport three hours prior to flight departure and with all the lines due to broken computers on top of the usual delays, just barely made my flight home). I will post back if something goes wrong with this SB airfare plan. Usually we use miles and/or just buy tickets, but the costs to Australia in either cash or miles are much bigger than just flying to Europe where there are more choices, and more options if something goes wrong, as it often does these days.
  12. This question is for people who know lovely Sydney and its possibly not so lovely airport well. We are planning a cruise in March which starts and ends in Sydney and goes only to Australian ports. We will be flying from San Francisco, hopefully nonstop, to and from Sydney ( arriving around 9 am on a weekday and departing for home at 1pm). I want to time the day of our booked return flights, and our class of airline service, based on trying to limit major hassles getting to the airport ( traffic, lack of cabs) as well as likely airport lines and delays. I have read some nasty reviews about the Sydney airport and its personnel ( link below), so have some concerns ( limited seating, dirty toilets, lines, hostile staff) , but do not know if they are exaggerated. Though neither of us need a wheelchair, my health issues make long lines of standing hard to handle and I also like to have plenty of time to get to my gate ( and sit, and use the toilets) in peace and without anxiety before a 14 hour flight. https://www.airlinequality.com/airport-reviews/sydney-airport/page/1/ We have a choice of leaving directly from our cruiseship the day of departure with a cruise provided group bus ( unknown time, unknown dock) or taxi or car, to make a 1pm flight either that day on a Sunday, (possibly a busy airport day) , or overnighting somewhere and doing the same 1 pm flight on the next day, a Monday, a workday ( so there would presumably be more AM street traffic). We are not fit enough to take the train, and we will have heavy bags. We have a choice of doing our return flight in premium economy ( our preference for price) or forking up a lot extra to avoid the worst line risks at SYD that could cause us to miss our 1pm return flight. 1. What do you locals think about a Sunday vs. Monday departure? Would we likely actually risk more delays on Monday morning? 2. Does anyone who has flown Premium Economy know if you reliably get into priority security lines, or if you share with Economy, and/or if Sunday or Monday would be more likely to have longer security lines? 3. Any other comments about the airport? We will be staying in Sydney for 4-5 days before our cruise, our first time. Thanks in advance.
  13. I have never used them. Has anyone had problems with it? Can you get credit for Airlinw miles with the rdiscounted fares they book? Are you assured the flight of your choice in advance? Any other benefjts besides slightly lower price?
  14. One possibility is just to dedicate a deeper closet drawer to his plus her shoes. We take three large suitcases between us and still have room for clothes if we use all shelves, the drawers in both the nightstands, and drawers under the desk, so a drawer could in theory be spared for shoes. If you get different colored shoe bags for different pairs ( and remember what color bag corresponds to which pair, or have a coding on your iphone if you have not memorized it yet), they will be easy to find. Thank you SLSD for using shoe bags! Closed unventilated closets also tend to absorb shoe odors, so it is nice to have them bagged if kept in there, or on shelves. We never bring enough shoes to create a problem ( usually 3-4 pairs per person depending on the cruise) , but I noted you could also get a few pairs discretely tucked in behind the far end of the sofa near the drapes if needed. Or under the desk, if you never actually sit at the desk. Compared with mainstream lines, storage space is huge on luxury lines even in base cabins. Some mainstream cruiser who store bags under their beds have written they keep shoes or other stuff stored in a bag, like a pullout drawer.
  15. MS Sommelier, I can certainly empathise with your situation and frustration, having had my Hanseatic nature trip cancelled short notice in the spring due to the ship not being ready on time. There was poor communication on emails when that happened. Though I personally have zero interest in visiting Cuba for various reasons, I know that people who had their trips cancelled or itineraries altered after big buildups about going there have been very disappointed due to the sudden policy change. You should have had clear and early communication from HL about what was going on. Your husband is German, and you also speak German, so the issue was thus likely not related to bias against non-German speakers, and rather was something they needed to rapidly deal with and which they handled it poorly. I just returned from a short MS Europa cruise I had booked without a TA and everything went very smoothly from on-line booking to finish, including phone calls I made to help with some unusual issues I had. Lately email responses have become less reliable than previously, but phone calls have gone better ( obviously not for you). There is a lot of staff turnover from one position to the next. However, I have also had bad booking related customer service from SB, SS, and Regent, initially very surprising, but it is what they can get away with. 😟
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