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About Psoque

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Fishers, Indiana
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    travel, gardens, photography, entertaining
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    New Zealand

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  1. My understanding is that, in June, it would be very hot, possibly unbearably hot, in Greece. However, Esprit, is an excellent ship to visit some of the smaller, less visited locations in Greece.
  2. I have done Crystal Symphony, Esprit, and Mozart in the past few years and here's my impression. I thought the quality of the food on Esprit was a lot better, especially in the way they looked on the plate, as well as the taste, compared to what we have had on Symphony. The food on Mozart was also similar to that on Esprit. I think this is because the kitchen is dealing with much less passengers to cook for, so a more elaborate cooking and plating is possible. Also, we obviously received a lot more personal attention on Esprit, and also on Mozart to a certain extent compared on on Symphony, because we were just two out of 63 on Esprit or out of 180? on Mozart, compared to nearly 950 on Symphony. I think the Crystal style of customer service has been translated very well on smaller vessels, both at sea on Esprit, as well as on rivers on Mozart (and most likely on other vessels). However, neither Esprit or the river vessels travel the distance that Symphony/Serenity can take us, and that's something that sets the the Symphony/Serenity apart from the others, in my opinion, since we really love to cover large distances on a cruise. So in our case, we are trying to alternate between ocean and river cruises every year. Unfortunately, we don't occupy the proper income bracket to take an Esprit or Endeavor cruise anytime soon, though.
  3. I started cruising in my early thirties, and I just turned 50 this year. My first Crystal cruise (probably my first "upscale" cruise) was a 11 day Panama Canal cruise on Crystal Symphony when I was 36. On that cruise, we only met one adult person who was my age or younger (I'm sure there were a few more, but I managed to speak to just one of them.) It appears that as I continued to age, Crystal has become more "younger people welcoming," which I think is a great approach. The funny thing is, this trend with more shorter cruises, more relaxed attires, and more "comings and goings," did not negatively affect my on-board experience at all. In some ways, I like the changes Crystal is making. I suspect those minority of people who really find that the "shorter segment people" are affecting their cruise experience negatively ("less relaxing," "too busy," "rushed," etc.) are not happy mainly because things have changed, and sometimes change is hard to some of us.
  4. I've never done a cruise longer than 11 days on Crystal, and I've never done a Crystal cruise that was subsequently broken into a segment shorter than what I took. I have, however, been on a 7 day segment of a cruise that was also sold as a longer cruise. In my experience, it made no difference to me if our 7 day cruise was part of a much longer sailing. I have no idea how it "feel" to be on a longer cruise with people getting on/off every 5-7 days. I've read that some people (most likely a minority, I certain hope) who feel the comings/goings of people every 5-7 days during their longer cruise is disruptive in some way or another. I don't understand that sentiment. I am just using my imagination here, since I've never been on a cruise longer than 14 days, but if I were fortunate to be on a much longer cruise on Crystal with people coming/going during my stay on the ship, I would feel thankful for the opportunity to meet even more people than just the shipful I began the cruise with. Happy Holidays!
  5. We visit my family in Japan, usually once a year, so I have been reading about the newly created 50 arrival/departure slots at Haneda. Until now, most of the flights from US land in Haneda at really inconvenient times of the day (either really early in the morning or fairly late at night). Our ANA flight to Haneda (first time we are actually taking a flight to Haneda) this November lands there at 8:30 PM. It's OK for us, since we know where we are going, and we don't need to, say, get our Japan Rail Pass validated. If we had to do that, it would be really inconvenient. I'm looking forward to increased flights into Haneda. I'm also hoping that some, if not all, of these new slots will be utilized even beyond the summer of 2020. But my guess is that the airlines would have to drop some of the flights into one of the Tokyo airports after the Olympics are over. The big questions are: Would they continue to fly out of both airports? and Which airports will keep more flights? Another issue is that Narita, though located in a inconvenient location for those visiting Tokyo, serves as an important hub to/from other Asian airports. Delta is apparently abandoning Narita (at least for now) but flying all of their Tokyo flights out of Haneda starting mid 2020. American and United are still flying to Narita and Haneda. On a different note, I highly recommend those flying to Japan to try one of the two Japanese carriers. I have flown on both ANA and JAL, and they are, in my opinion, superior to American/Delta/United.
  6. As far as I know, the airlines are silent about how long they are going to continue to operate the increased flight frequencies beyond summer of 2020. I know that the Japanese government's official party line is to increase tourism to Japan (permanently, beyond the Olympics year), but as you know, airlines are not obligated to use all of the new slots, especially if the flights do not fly full after the Tokyo Olympics. I don't think we can predict what the airlines will do, but as we all know, airlines are constantly making changes to their schedules.
  7. From what I read, more slots were created by few methods, including relaxation of flight restrictions in the airspace above the US base near Haneda, introduction of a new flight path over populated areas in central Tokyo (Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Shinagawa areas), as well as scheduling of additional international arrivals/departures during the day (until recently most international arrivals/departures were restricted to either late evenings or early mornings).
  8. As I posted earlier on September 6, there will be 24 more flights to Haneda from US airports. Half of them will be operated by US airlines. The other 12 flights will be operated by either All Nippon Airways or Japan Airlines. And there will be about 26 more flights to Haneda from the rest of the world.
  9. The captain will be dressed in a huge turkey suit, mingling with the guests before dinner. The entire crew will be wearing brown hats with big brass buckles... Just kidding. But we have been on Crystal ships on Thanksgiving time, probably twice or more. We love to cruise during this time to escape the holiday madness. What we enjoyed most is the slow progressive addition of holiday decorations throughout the ship during that week.
  10. I think you should look into Hoshinoya hotel. I haven't been there yet, but I heard really nice things about it. If you are only going to be in Tokyo for a few days, this will definitely give you more of a traditional Japanese experience in a way that is more accessible to most of us here in the US.
  11. Beginning around of May of 2020, there will be a lot more flights to Haneda. As far as I know, there will be at least 50 more flights to Haneda, and 24 of them will be from US airports. What I don't know is if all of these new flights are already loaded into the reservation systems. Also, I have no idea how long would these new flights would remain in operation after the Tokyo Olympics. Also, it is worth noting that the Airport Limousine Bus (the orange bus) from both Narita and Haneda are a lot nicer than any bust I've ever taken in other countries. Also, in our experience, the bus driver/hotel people took very nice care of our luggage. As soon as we arrived at our pick-up area at Narita, we did not really handle our bags until we arrived at Conrad, where their bellhops took over. I'm not trying to encourage you to not get your own transfer sedan/taxi, but I really think the bus from the airport is very nice. I'm not sure where you are staying, but the bus stops at a lot of hotels of various price ranges. Personally, I highly prefer taking the bus vs. Narita Express train, unless the our schedule do not fit the bus schedule, or if the hotel we are coming from/going to is far from the bus stop. We also usually stay in hotel that the bus stops at/departs from. Also, nobody will help you with your luggage if you take Narita Express in contrast to the bus.
  12. I have no idea why Avalon has said to you that you "need" a PIN-enabled credit card. Are you sure that's what Avalaon said? Or did Avalon say that there might be a rare occasion a PIN-enabled credit card might be necessary. The fact is that, most vendors would take a non PIN-enabled credit card as long as they take credit cards. Only exception would be some of the automated vending machines, especially for public transit. I needed a PIN for buying a metro ticket from a machine at Amsterdam Airport. However, I could have also bought a ticket from a human-occupied kiosk there.
  13. Thanks for your numerous suggestions. We are still leaning toward starting the cruise in Basel because: -We would like to fly home as soon as the cruise is over -We would like to arrive at the city of embarkation at least 2 days in advance -We would like to spend more time in Basel -We don't need too much time in Amsterdam, since we have done most of the typical sights there already -The cruise will overnight in Amsterdam, so we will have time to see Amsterdam I guess we answered our own question.
  14. Hi. We recently did a 7 night Danube cruise on Crystal Mozart and had a great time. We are contemplating to do an another Crystal river cruise, perhaps in 2021. We think we would like to cruise on the Rhine next, probably in the fall (before the Christmas Market prices kick in). We are thinking about the 7 night Amsterdam to Basel, or the reverse. It appears the ports of calls are identical whether it is southbound or northbound. Has any of you done one or both of these cruises on the Rhine? Is there a not-so-obvious pros/cons of the southbound vs. northbound? Our initial thought is that we would prefer northbound because then we can spend a few days in Basel (where we have never been) before the cruise, and am hoping that there are more convenient flights out of Amsterdam (where we have done most of the typical sights before) if we want to fly home at the end of the cruise.
  15. No...Garam Dock is a little more than a few hundred feet from the Parliament. It's more like 6,500 feet from the Parliament. I think you are thinking about another dock.
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