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Worldtraveler 4727

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Posts posted by Worldtraveler 4727


  1. 13 hours ago, Globaliser said:

     

    From memory, I think that getting out at Russell Square involves some steps, and then lifts (elevators) to street level. Sorry, I have been there a handful of times over the last year but paid very little attention to this. It is not listed as a step-free station on the TfL website so I think this supports my recollection.

     

     

    Piccadilly Line from Russell Square (including the caveat above about steps) to Green Park, change to Victoria Line to Victoria, walk to Victoria coach station. I am not sure how many step-free exits there now are at Victoria; IIRC the first one was at Cardinal Place, which is even further from the coach station than the front of Victoria station - a good 10 minutes' walk with luggage, I should think.

     

    Thank you for the added information!


  2. 14 hours ago, John Bull said:

    Worldtraveller -

     

    Heathrow to Russell Square you have two main options.

    - there's a direct tube train (Piccadilly line) from Heathrow which takes about 40 minutes and costs about £7pp. It starts at Heathrow so you'd have no problem getting seats together, with your luggage around you - but mon thru fri this will be commuter time and the carriage will get more and more crowded as you get toward central London so with luggage it will be no fun. 

    - Probably better to pre-book a fixed-price private transfer. Book a suitable-size vehicle. A standard-size sedan should cost about £45 to £50, I don't know the premium for a larger vehicle.

     

    I don't know Uber, but their estimates can be very inaccurate and vary wildly because the fares depend on time taken as well as distance.

    A black cab hailed at the rank outside the airport terminal door is by far the most expensive way to travel.

    They're convenient for short hops in the city centre, but Heathrow to Russell Square is about 16 miles. 

     

    Russell Square to Victoria coach station is almost 3 miles.

    There's no direct tube train, and it needs a Londoner to tell you where is easiest to change tube trains and whether it's viable with luggage.

     

    For either of those journeys by tube it'd be helpful if you could give us some idea how mobile you are and the amount of luggage.

     

    A black cab hailed in the street will cost you up to (?)£20(?) to Victoria Coach Station,  but four plus significant luggage will probably need two cabs - again, a Londoner can help.

    Or a pre-booked "private hire" taxi would be cheaper - the folk through whom you have arranged the apartment, or neighbours etc should be able to suggest an operator. "Pre-booked" means phoning mebbe an hour ahead, not months ahead. 

     

    Note that the National Express luggage allowance is TWO x 44lb bags plus hand-luggage per passenger.

    Bags aren't weighed as a matter of course (this isn't an airline) unless blatantly excessive, and I don't think you'll have any grief.

    The driver loads and unloads your luggage.

     

    Pre-booked seats are a fairly new feature. They'd ensure you're seated together and £3 is a small premium. Avoid seats at the rear - altho the bathroom is at the back it's not a problem on that length of journey, but seats behind the rear axle (the last 3 or 4 rows) tend to be a bit bouncy.

     

    There's a small taxi rank at Southampton coach station, and local taxi drivers tend to swing by looking for trade.

    Yes, with luggage you'll almost-certainly need two taxis although a variety of vehicles are used. If only one is available the driver can radio for another or, because the distance is small, can be asked to come back

    All Southampton taxis are white, with prominent illuminated taxi signs on the roof.

    They're metered, and they don't refuse a fare because it's a short journey - it's a condition of their licence and they're used to short hops.

     

    JB :classic_smile:

     

      

     

    Thanks for all the information, John.

    Actually, the woman from whom we are renting suggested Yellow CarsTaxi & Mini Cab as a way to get to Victoria Coach Station from the Russell Sq area. I cannot find any information/reviews on them. Can you -- or anyone else-- give me any info on them: reliability? cost? etc

    TIA

    Kathy

     

     


  3. Has anyone used their iPhone with an American AT&T plan in London? I can use my phone with WiFi anywhere, but if I want to call an Uber from Heathrow, I am afraid that WiFi will not reach/be available as we exit the airport and make our way to the Short Stay Car Park, where the Uber stand is. 

    Need to buy an international plan?? Doesn't really seem worth it for the VERY short time I'd use it....

     


  4. 10 hours ago, John Bull said:

     

    Agreed, G. My estimation is nearest point to nearest point - though the coach station is tolerably compact.

    But the same applies (with interest) when talking about cruise berths or especially airport terminals - sometimes I feel like the walk to a boarding gate is halfway to the destination airport!! 

     

    JB :classic_smile:

     

    John,

    While we are on the subject of transportation, can you tell me the best (most efficient/cost effective) way of getting from Heathrow to central London (Russell Square area). We will arrive about 6am. I have looked at the options of taxis, Uber, the Tube, the bus, and a private car and am dizzy. 🤕 I could use a bit of advice.

    TIA


  5. 15 hours ago, John Bull said:

    Victoria train station and coach station are a few hundred yards apart along Buckingham Palace Road, a level walk that'll take about  3 or 4 minutes.

    There's also a tube station at  Victoria rail station.

    I would sincerely hope that Princess said Victoria Coach Station, because that's most definitely where they always pick-up.

     

    From that same coach station you can alternatively book a scheduled bus direct to Southampton operated by https://www.nationalexpress.com/en 

    Similar vehicles, but guaranteed to have a bathroom & wifi.

    Cost under £10 per person, but add a max of £10 for a taxi from Southampton coach station to your ship.

     

    I believe the Princess  transfer fare is somewhere around $60 pp, so significantly more expensive.

    That said, the Princess fare is far more reasonable than the likes of RCI, who even a few years ago were charging over $100.:classic_ohmy:

    And some folk feel more reassured by that journey being the responsibility of the cruise line.

     

    If your hotel isn't in the Victoria area, come back here with its name & address - there may be easier ways to get to Southampton

     

    JB :classic_smile:

     

    John, 

    We are 4 adults considering the National Express Bus from Victoria Coach Station to Southampton in August.

    The apartment we are renting is in the Russell Square area. I think we'd need a short taxi ride to Victoria Coach Station. 

    Can you give us a few more details regarding your experience with the bus, please? 

    I read on their website that they allow suitcases up to 44#. Since we are allowed 50# or so, is that an issue?

    Also, I read that you can pay 3 pounds more to reserve your seat. Did you do that?

    Was the bus full/crowded?

    How easy is it to place your luggage in the bus hold and retrieve it? 

    When you arrived at Southampton, how plentiful were the taxis to the port? For 4 adults with luggage, would we need 2?

    Any and all advice you can give us regarding your experience with the bus from central London to Southampton would be greatly appreciated. 

    TIA!

     

     

     


  6. I RARELY book any excursions through the ship. 

    A woman on our roll call has booked a bus through Clyde Coast Tourism. The bus will hold 34 people and will take us from Glasgow, the port, to the places mentioned above, and then back to the ship after the Tattoo at a cost of 60 GBP per person**. In addition, a lovely woman by the name of Catriona Stevenson answers all inquiries very quickly at Clyde Coast Tourism, and as an added service of theirs, purchased the Tattoo tickets for us when they became available. Catriona is a dream to work with. We paid for the bus and then the Tattoo tickets directly with Catriona. If you would like to contact her, you can tell her that you would like to hear about the same tour that "Virginia's group" booked for this year's stop in Glasgow (Greenock), which is the port from which we will travel to see the sites and then attend the Tattoo in Edinburgh on August 10, 2019.

    **The cost of the bus does not include the Tattoo tickets nor entrance fee to Stirling castle.

    I hope that answers your questions?


  7. Thank you for your reply.

    I've been reading awful reviews of the bus 

    https://www.reviews.co.uk/company-reviews/store/national-express

    And it is really making me nervous. 74% of the 80+ reviews give them the lowest rating -- just one star. That is worrisome. I guess I'll go back to concentrating on a private car that is less than or about $120 for 4 people since the Princess transfer from Victoria Coach is $59pp.


  8. 17 hours ago, geoherb said:

    We went with National Express this past September (but from Victoria Station). It was around $16 for the two of us. The pier in Southampton is walking distance if you can do it.

     

    I have looked into this coach bus option. It certainly is cheaper than anything else.

    I understand that the basic price only includes two medium-sized suitcases of no more than 44 lbs. Did you find them to be strict in that weight policy?

    I also see where you can reserve a seat with more leg room (for more money, of course.) How far in advance did you book the bus tickets? Was it a full bus?

    TIA!


  9. 22 hours ago, Turtles06 said:

     

    Last year, they wouldn't quote a price until it was within six months of the service.  If you are in that that time frame, simply send them an email and ask for a quote (and ask your other question at the same time).  That's how I've always done it; very simple.   They are prompt in responding.  (Even if it's outside the six months, ask them anyway and see what they say.)

     

    BTW, last fall, they were charging £120.00 plus an £11.50 congestion fee for a transfer from central London to Southampton for two people total.  Those prices certainly could be different now (and may vary based on your hotel location), but should give you a ballpark.

     

    Please keep one thing in mind: Smiths is based in Southampton, so you may want to use a London-based car service for the transfer FROM London to Southampton (and use Smiths in the other direction).  We used Blackberry Cars last fall, and were happy with them.

     

    Thank you. That was very helpful.


  10. Can anyone tell me who has used Smith's (in particular because of their good rating) what is the charge from central London to Southampton? 

    Also, does anyone know if Smith's has a bit of a discounted price if you use them "round trip" from central London to Southampton and then again at the end of the cruise from Southampton to Heathrow?

    TIA!


  11. 1 hour ago, jagoffee said:

     

     

    Worldtraveler,

    Thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience.  Also a thank you to Caribill for the 2012 version.

     

    We are doing the 5 day version of this tour on June 17, 2019 starting in Anchorage.  Sort of a shorter, reverse tour. We are an extended family.  Grandparents (us), our daughter, our son-in-law, and our grandkids (13 and 11).  Of course the Grandkids are the real reason for the trip.

     

    We are spending two nights each at the Princess Mt. McKinley and Delani Lodges.

     I have excursions booked on the full days at each location.  My question relates to the shorter arrival days.  One each around noon or so.  I noticed the Activity sheet that you provided for each lodge.  There are some good activities that we could do on those days arrival days.  My current plan is not to book any excursions on those days and just wing it.  I think exploring the area and taking advantage of some of the activities would be worthwhile.

     

    What is your opinion of that plan?

    I thank you again for you excellent report.  Without the photos of the activity sheets, I would have probably just booked another excursion.

     

    P.S.

    I see  you reside in Wisconsin.  Our daughter resides in West Bend and we live in Northern IL.  Where do you live In Wisconsin?

     

    I am so very pleased that my Alaskan Trip Report is still helping people make plans for their adventures in that awesome state!

     

    I completely understand your question and dilemma. As a parent and a grandparent, the ideal is maintaining a balance between activities and a bit of down time for everyone. And of course, all kids are different, so I think you have to ask yourself whether the kids, (and their parents, you'd your husband?) are hikers. If so, no problem at either place! Plenty of places to hike and explore. 

     

    At Denali, there are not only trails, but other activities such as the dog sled demo by the National Park Rangers (great show, and you can get very up close and personal with the dogs), but besides that, visitors have several options of activities across the street to choose from. These are private (non-Princess) activities. If you look at page 1 again of my report, entry #17, you will see a photo of the complex, and you can also see across the road what I am referring to--the private tour operators. I believe these links below will take you to the listing of these tour operators. You can look at each, email them and ask if reservations in mid-June are required, or if you can decide once you are there. 

     

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionsNear-g11914881-d277993-Denali_Princess_Wilderness_Lodge-McKinley_Village_Denali_National_Park_and_Preserve_Alaska.html

     

    https://www.denalioutdoorcenter.com

     

    McKinley is MUCH more remote than Denali. Again, there are trail hikes, free Nature Talks, free lectures (like Todd Huston), and of course, the Treehouse to see. However, if you need to be busier than that, you'd have to look into a Princess-operated excursion.

     

    You asked my opinion of what I thought of your plan to wing it those two, half days. I, personally, would not overbook myself or the kids. Denali has much more to chose from, and I don't think you need to worry about finding enough to do. Don't forget that a lot of time will be eaten up by the time you get to the lodge, get settled in your rooms, and have lunch.

    As for McKinley, if the kids know in advance that their two half days will be filled with arriving at the lodge, getting settled, having some lunch and then taking in a few trails, I'd leave it at that. They have a full day of activity to look forward to the next day. But you certainly know your children and grandchildren best. If you are all happy to spend a couple hours on the back deck of McKinley playing cards (etc) and watching for "the mountain to come out," then by all means, use your two half days to relax a bit and take in the gorgeous scenery and hope you are among the lucky 30% who get to see the mountain. But if the kids are going to be restless and unhappy, well then, book them up.

     

    I wish you clear skies, moderate temps, an abundance of animal sightings, and the making of some grand family memories! 

     

     


  12. 29 minutes ago, georgiacat said:

    It seems that you are on a similar itinerary to what we did last year.  I loved our tour from Greenock with Clyde Coast Tours to Edinburgh for the Tattoo and greatly enjoyed the show, I did not enjoy our Edinburgh day.  That is one of the two days on our cruise that I would have done something differently.  Several reasons:  mostly too crowded (I hate crowds), rainy, was not satisfied with my "shopping".  On hindsight, I would have scheduled a tour (as you are doing), probably outside of Edinburgh.  This is what I posted in my notes (not published) about our day in Edinburgh:

     

    Had breakfast in the Horizon Court.  The weather was again raining slightly; we used umbrellas in Edinburgh for a short time before lunch.

     

    We took the tender to shore and caught the shuttle bus to the center of town about 10 am.  It was 20 pounds each which included trip in and return from town and the Hop On/Hop Off bus.   The shuttle delivered us to St. Andrews Square, and the driver showed us where to walk to catch the Hop On/Hop Off bus.

     

    We got off at the Castle stop.  I had prepurchased tickets with the Historic Scotland Pass, so we went right into the Castle.  We used the restroom and had lunch (pizza) at the café.

     

    We stood in line for the Crown Jewels, just a crown, scepter, and sword, not as much as England’s.  The road up into the castle was very steep and wet with the rain.  It was wet and windy with steep cobble stone paths in the castle.  We walked through the area where the Tattoo had performed before.

     

    We shopped a little, asking in several stores, but could not find any St. Andrews golf stuff.

     

    We went in St. Giles Cathedral where we had met our guide the other night.  It was lovely.

     

    We caught the Hop On/Hop Off bus back to St. Andrews Square where we caught the shuttle to the 4 pm tender back to the ship.

     

    Be sure to dress for the weather:  rain, wind and chilly

     

    So glad to hear you enjoyed the Tattoo. It is pricey. I am hoping for decent weather that day. Good weather makes such a difference when touring. And thanks for the confirmation regarding finding a small tour for Edinburgh. I am conversing back and forth with a tour guide, and so far we are considering a two hour walking tour of Edinburgh and then driving outside the city to some of the picturesque fishing villages and then up to St Andrews for a bit of a photo op (husband is a big golfer). 


  13. 9 minutes ago, silversneakers said:

    Just a further note, Edinburgh is extremely crowded during the Tattoo and they usually have the Fringe Festival during the same time. We attended the Tattoo last year and opted to spend the night in Edinburgh after the Tattoo and thus were able to enjoy another day (walking) before heading back to the ship. We opted for a private tour the day of the Tattoo and we found it helpful as they know the "ins and outs" of traffic patterns during this hectic time.

     

    Our ship leaves Greenock port at 2am, so staying in the city that night is not an option, but we will dock in Edinburgh a few days later. Realizing the value of a private tour is why we are pursuing that option and asking for recommendations.


  14. 13 hours ago, cruisequeen4ever said:

    Edinburgh is easy to DIY, not saying a tour isn’t good, just letting you know in case you’re interested. You can easily take the X99 bus direct from the tender port to/from Edinburgh for about 6 pounds each. We had originally planned on taking a taxi, but we waited a long time, and none came to the port. The X99 drops you off at the square by Harvey Nichols. From there, you can grab a taxi or Uber to the Royal Mile where you can tour Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, and all the other main sites. It’s best to be dropped off at the top of the hill where Edinburgh Castle is and make your way downhill to Holyrood. Along the walk are tons of cashmere shops, cafes, and Harry Potter places of significance. At the end, we took an Uber back to the square to catch the return bus. Hope that helps!

     

    Thank you for mentioning this option.


  15. 17 hours ago, georgiacat said:

    We did a long tour day with Clyde Coast Tours from Greenock to Edinburgh.  We saw the evening show of the Tattoo, but it included other sites along the way.  Check their website; I believe they have several tours.  I thought they were the best tour operators of all that we did.  We really enjoyed that day, not just the Tattoo part.

     

    We are taking this same tour from Greenock. I am very happy to hear you had a great time!

    The itinerary says we will get to Edinburgh about 4 - 5 pm and have time to find dinner before the Tattoo. I have read that Edinburgh is mobbed and it is difficult to find a place to eat. Can you tell me about your experience with that? Someone suggested we get reservations somewhere. I don't think we are looking for anything too fancy, just a good meal. 


  16. 17 hours ago, Quartzsite Cruiser said:

    We have been to Edinburgh several times and have done a few tours, but through the ship so I cannot recommend a private tour company.

     

    Nearby is the Falkirk Wheel which is used to raise and lower boats from one canal to another instead of usong a lock system.  It is difficult to discribe, but you could check it out on line.  In the same area are the statues of the Kelpies, which are mythical sea creatures.

     

    Another interesting place close to the port is St. Andrews and the Old Course.  It was interesting even though we are not golfers.  

     

    Have you considered a stop to see the Britannia?  We got there by bus from Waverly Stsation in Edinburgh.

     

    Whatever you do, you will enjoy Edinburgh and the area.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

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