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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. I also second that both ships are great. However, I think the layout of the Avenue Saloon is superior on Symphony.
  13. So you are abandoning Crystal Cruises because, if I understand what is going on, Crystal has a policy preventing someone who already booked a non-interline fare to later re-book with/price reduce to interline fare? I guess that's just your decision. However, before you permanently fire Crystal Cruises over this, you may want to contact them directly, to make sure that's actually their policy. Perhaps you have a completely honest TA, but I would think that some TAs would do everything to make sure his/her commission will not be reduced. I've had TAs like that, and they are no longer my TAs.
  14. Actually, I think you probably made the best decision, in terms of booking a cruise ship which is a "known quantity." I know I'm late to this conversation, but my advice to you is to pick your cruise on your availability, the itinerary, and the season, with the cruise line/the vessel simply as a tie breaker. Trying to compare two ship that have not sailed is not really helpful or informative. If you are comparing cruises with similar itineraries (London-Lisbon route), I personally would prefer early fall/late spring sailings instead of summer sailings. The temperature would be more comfortable and there will be smaller crowds. And in my opinion, many places are just much prettier in spring and fall.
  15. In the Fall of 2017, we did sail on the smallest cabin aboard Esprit. We were told on the phone when we were assigned that cabin, that bed is not queen size, and all of the cabins (at that time), including the smallest cabins, were furnished with king sized beds, despite what the website says. Our cabin, when we boarded, did have a king size bed. However, I would still ask the shoreside Yacht butler about your exact cabin if you have any questions.
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