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About iancal

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  1. iancal

    Why book direct and then transfer?

    We do not bother booking direct with any cruise line. We use an on line TA exclusively. Great service, great unbiased competitive information, and great pricing. An email to two, a quick phone call, and it is done.
  2. When we got our land visa for Vietnam there were two charges. The first was the actual cost of the 30 day Visa. The second was a service charge levied by the Vietnamese consulate to process the visa. This surprised us. Plus, we were told that the s/c could vary but location of the consulate or embassy.
  3. Who cares if the cook is offended? his/her job is to prepare your meal to your taste. It it is not....send it back. If no one send a bad meal back to the kitchen they will not get the hint that something is amiss. We are long past those days of not sending poorly prepared, nondescript, or tasteless food that we have paid for straight baclto the kitchen. That includes cruise line food. I sent a steak back on Celebrity. Cooked just fine but tough as an old boot. The M.D. came over and mumbled something. I told him that he was welcome to chew on it but that I had no intention of doing so. It was replaced. DW did the same with some sort of mystery fish on HAL that was not even close to the menu description. Supposed to be sole. We were not certain if it was catfish, sunfish, or goldfish.
  4. iancal

    Suggestions for packing without wrinkling

    Easy care, light weight fabrics. We fill our case but we do not overpack. We buy clothes specifically for travel. We are very light packers.
  5. iancal

    DIY Transportation Rhodes Port to Lindos

    Several years ago. On a land trip, we simply took the local bus.
  6. iancal

    Come Comparisons with MSC Yacht Club

    It is not just MSC that I was referring too. There appearsto us to be significant cost/benefit comparisons and differences between the mass market cruise lines when we look ar the real value (to us) of upgrading over and above the real estate. Then, when we compare those from a value perspective (our value) to a an actual premium line there is a entirely different perspective. We only consider tangible benefits...not the fluff that some lcruise lines push when selling the u/g’s. 4000 people? Not much different that visiting many popular ports when there are four, five ships in port is it? Our last cruise ship visit to The Eastern Med convinced us to give up cruising in favor of independent land trips in this area. .
  7. iancal

    Come Comparisons with MSC Yacht Club

    I started looking at cruise line premium options over and above our standard balcony. This included some of the premium lines. Seems to me that once you get above this the differences in additional deliverables vs additional cost between some cruise lines is rather astounding. It is an entirely new analysis that challenged some of our pre conceived notions. Yacht club is just one example. Real deliverables, not simply the priority boarding, ‘free water’ or some of the other no cost rather useless benefits that cruise lines like to hail as upgrade benefits or loyal customer perks.
  8. iancal

    Street food Singapore, Malayasia, Thailand

    It is quite amazing at some of the night markets. Often the beer is sold by the person who takes care of the tables. We might order three dishes from two or three different stalls. Always the same...they say go and sit down, we will bring it to you. And they always do, no matter how crowded it seems. We like the bbq pork and chicken. We don’t bother with the mysteries meat that looks like wieners though.
  9. iancal

    Last minute cruise fares

    It is definitely possible to get late booking prices on good ships during popular times. We have done two ten day late booking cruises over Christmas. One.Celebrity, the other NCL. Both times we scored well placed balcony cabins. You just never know.
  10. iancal

    HAL vs other cruise lines

    We like HAL but we do not have blinders on either. It is one reason why we never book directly with any cruise line. We appreciate straight goods and customer feedback from our TA. Cruise line CSR’s are hardly going to recommend that we don’t book a dog of a ship or one where certain cabin area is referred to by on board staff as ‘the flood zone’.
  11. iancal

    Last minute cruise fares

    We typically book inside the final payment window. We have seen prices increase and decrease in this window. Like others have mentioned, establish a buy price and act without delay if it hits. We typically follow last minute pricing on two or three ships that we like. The first price that hits our number is the ship we book. It pays to be flexible. We are not so flexible inasmuch as we want an unabsructed balcony cabin. This increases our challenge however we usually manage to score. We also follow air pricing at the same time if required. Our TA will have the cabin placed on courtesy hold for a few hours while we finalize air. It works for us. We rend to be very spontaneous travelers. We have booked anywhere from 60 days out to 3 days out. It is simply a supply/demand algorithm for the cruise lines.
  12. iancal

    Street food Singapore, Malayasia, Thailand

    We have eaten street food in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam over five separate winter vacations. Not China though. We had street food a few nights ago in Ranong, Thailand. It was excellent! Neither of us has ever been ill. The one time we were ill it was from eating western style food in a western restaurant in Phuket.
  13. iancal

    HAL vs other cruise lines

    It is fairly straightforward to avoid dry dock screw ups. We simply do not book ships that are just going into or coming out of dry dock on any cruise line. Same for inaugural cruises where the cruise lines seem to use revenue passengers to subsidize all those complementary cabins for PR, corporate, and media types as well as close off many venues for their exclusive use. We do not book a ship without first checking out the historical on line reviews. We also ask our TA about comments back to her. Plus, we tend to avoid the older ships that have fewer optional dining venues Or a history of customer issues. These are far mor important to us than the logo on the funnel.
  14. iancal

    HAL vs other cruise lines

    We want a ship where the cabin HVAC is in good working order, the plumbing works with no mouldy smells from previous plumbing leaks that were not properly remediated or on a ship where the cruise line thinks that it is fine to minimize dry dock time and do repairs/upgrades whilst revenue passengers are on board. We find everything else......food, service, entertainment, crew so variable with and between the mass market cruise lines. Now, we spend more time comparing ships than we do cruise lines. They all seem to be migrating to the lowest common denominator. We can just as easily have a wonderful cruise on any of them as we can a mediocre. We do not believe that any one of the mass market lines is that much better than the others. Different perhaps, but not appreciably better.
  15. We are currently using a Home Trust Preferred Visa card. All currencies are calculated at the Visa exchange rate, ie NO 2.5 percent uplift. Customer service, the few times that we have called is good. The card is free. It provides one percent cash back plus emergency automobile road service. We also use the card for ATM cash advances when travelling outside Canada by maintaining a credit balance. We did not renew our auto club membership. We have verified US, Australian, and currently THai purchases. They all come a cross with no uplift. We gave up our US dollar credit card in favour of one that we can use internationally. The original cards has the PINs hard wired. Now I believe that they can be changed on line. We spend anywhere from three or more months outside of Canada or the US. We often purchase travel arrangements in those other currencies while at home. This card has been a good replacement for our discontinued Marriott Visa card and is much better than our previous CIBC US dollar Visa card. When we took a hard look at what our bank was really charging for foreign currency purchases and ATM withdrawals it was much closer to 3 percent than it was to 2.5 percent, sometimes even more for ATM withdrawals.