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About Hlitner

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    30,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    New Cumberland,PA, USA
  • Interests
    International travel (77 countries at last count(
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  1. We have some good friends who have been traveling to Portugal for decades and always have a rental car. They are very savvy travelers and are careful. About 5 years ago, while driving to Madrid to catch a flight home, they stopped in a cute village for lunch and parked on the street near the restaurant. When they came out of the restaurant, after lunch, somebody had jimmied open their trunk (boot for you Brits) and stolen all of their luggage! Fortunately, they had their Passports and valuables with them but had lost nearly all their clothes. The only good news was that they were on their way home after a 6 week trip so the theft did not ruin their vacation. Bottom line is that folks really need to pay attention to their personal security. Unlike here in the USA, most of the crime is not violent, but the purse snatchers, pickpockets, and luggage thieves are very good at their craft. Many are Roma (gypsies) and the open borders of the EU have made it easy for them to move around the continent. Our own experiences with the Roma have been almost amusing, but travelers need to always be aware of their surroundings and use lots of common sense. Hank
  2. There is another issue when carrying lots of luggage. It is not a good idea to leave your car (even for a few minutes) with luggage in the vehicle...especially if it is visible to somebody looking through a window. Luggage theft is a real problem in France, Italy and other parts of Europe. In fact, it is sometimes so bad that we have had pensioners offer to watch our car if we park at a roadside rest stop and want to leave the car. DW and I usually make sure that one of us is always with the car if there is luggage inside. If you get the Peugeot you will likely need to pile some luggage on the back seat which means you absolutely should not leave the vehicle unguarded for even a few moments. I agree with Bennybear that Autoeurope (and their sister company Kemwel) will often have terrifc rental car deals and can also explain the leasing options (leasing a car in France can be a great idea if you need the car for 3 or more weeks). We have often found that with Autoeurope of Kemwel..we can get cars through Hertz or Europcar with zero deductibles. Hank
  3. Perhaps, but doubtful. We do not cruise to spend time in our cabin. We love being out and about, socializing, meeting new folks, etc. Even when we have had a small suite I am usually out of the cabin by 7am. If on a Princess ship you would normally find me hanging out at the International Cafe. On HAL I would often be in Explorations. Over more than 40 years of extensive cruising we have been blessed to meet so many interesting people, quite a few of which are still friends. I am definitely not anti-suite but the extra space is simply lost on us since we don't use it. I do have some fear that COVID-19 will cause many folks to stop socializing on cruises. Not only do we like being out of the cabin and being with other passengers in the various lounges but we also love to do open seating dining at large tables. If cruises become less social I imagine we will simply stop cruising and do more long driving trips in Europe. Hank
  4. Just a word about those huge suites. Yes, they look cool and we think it would be a lot of fun to be in a huge suite. That being said, a few years ago DW and I calculated that we generally spend about 3 waking hours a day in our cabin. It does not matter if we have small outside cabin or a larger balcony cabin. On average it is only about 3 hours a day. Even on long cruises with many sea days we will generally leave our cabin for breakfast and often not return until late afternoon when its time to shower and get ready for the evening. So when I run the numbers, depending on the ship and line the cost of a large suite is hundreds of dollars per waking hour! Once we are asleep the size of the cabin is not relevant. So rather then spend our money on the huge suites we have tended to spend our money on more and longer cruises. I would rather be on a 60 day cruise in a regular balcony cabin then a 20 day cruise in a large suite! That being said, if we had unlimited resources we would book the largest suite for at least 300 days a year :). Hank
  5. To be truly honest, we have seen some folks who were bored miserable on long cruises. That is why many have suggested that folks should gradually work their way up the really long cruises. DW and I are never bored because we are content to just sit in a deck chair with our Kindles. We love to read and also enjoy just sipping a cocktail or glass of wine and watching the sea. We know other fans of long cruises that spend a lot of their time playing Bridge or other games. But the person who bores easily might have a problem which is why they need to approach the long cruises with some caution. Hank
  6. Before you can even get to that cruise you would need to cross the border into the USA. I am starting to wonder if Canada and the USA will even have an open border by October? Hank
  7. I am not ready for "assisted living" which is almost as much a death sentence as many Long Term Care Facilities. That being said, we have visited a few senior living communities (including a huge Del Webb community) and saw much to like. That may also be in our future but we would hope it is just a home base for more of our travel adventures. We are not big users or "activities" but did enjoy the enhanced socialization we have seen at the senior communities. Hank
  8. Some States and countries think they can somehow isolate themselves from COVID-19. Time will tell if they are correct of if they are simply delaying things. I just saw on the news that 14 Hawaiian Air attendants tested positive today! Hawaii has done a great job minimizing virus cases, but so had some other States that have now become hot zones. This virus has spread to over 100 countries and keeps getting uglier by the day. So there is a question that many people choose not to face. What price are we willing to pay to save our economy? or, are we willing to destroy our entire economy in the name of COVID-19? In theory we could all live in our basements, avoid going out, and spend then next few years sheltering in place. But to make that work we would all need to shelter in place until their is a safe/effective vaccine which could take years or might not ever happen. Then what? I have not met anyone who has the answers to the tough questions. What we are now seeing in the USA is somewhat of a revolt where many folks (especially those under 40) have said, enough is enough, and they have chosen to live their lives and take their chances with COVID-19. Many think those folks are simply nutz or in denial. But maybe those of us who are very cautious are the ones in denial. Don't know. Hank
  9. I think you missed the point which is to these folks the ship is their home. In some ways its similar to full time RV'ers who spend nearly all their time living in their RVs at 2 or 3 camp grounds during the year. Some of these folks that we have befriended would tell you that most of their "best friends" are either dead or in nursing homes or have simply moved away to other parts of the country. Many retirees move to places like Florida or Arizona...but these folks simply move to ships. Hank
  10. Actually, there are a few well known folks who have just about lived on ships. There was a lady who lived aboard the QM2 for most of the year and a couple (well known by many cruisers) who spent about 11 months a year on the old Royal Princess. The couple on the Royal Princess told us that they only left the ship around Christmas/New Years to spend some time with their grandchildren. We have spent over 100 days a year on ships in a few years which would put us among the newbies on longer HAL cruises where many folks would cruise 200+ days a year. For some of these folks, the cruise ships are essentially their home and they have many friends among the crew, officers and even other passengers. I should have also mentioned The World which is actually a private luxury resident cruise ship. On that vessel folks actually buy their cabins (which are luxurious suites) which are more like condos then cruise ship cabins. They actually have their own kitchens although the ship does have its own high end restaurant. Some of the owners are aboard most of the year while others will spend only a few months in their sea-based home. It is possible for non-owners to rent a suite on that ship which are often suites that have owners who are not is residence and willing to rent them out to willing customers. Hank
  11. The first time we did a really long cruise it was a 62 day voyage on the relatively small Prinsendam. We were concerned that either DW or me would go crazy on such a long cruise made worse by being on a ship that had fewer than 600 passengers. The last night of the cruise I asked DW what she thought about long cruises and she quickly responded that she would be fine if we stayed on the Prinsendam for another 62 days :). We have met a couple of folks who cruise more than 300 days a year and they both told us that they quickly get tired of their days when not cruising. Go figure. Long cruises are not for everyone, but some of us do not get tired of being on a ship. Hank
  12. In the USA we have protection through the Fair Credit Billing Act (1974) and some additional laws and regulations that require credit card companies to give us "chargebacks" in the case of bankruptcies. So, in most cases a resident of the USA can recover all their payments (made on a major charge card) in the event of a bankruptcy. Our own experience has been that the money is generally credited back to one's account within a few days. So in our country, paying for insurance against bankruptcy might mean spending unnecessary money on insurance. We have never had a problem getting our money back with bankruptcies. When Regent Cruise lines when bankrupt, AMEX returned our money the same day. When Renaissance Cruise lines went under we also got our money back the same day. Most recently we filed a chargeback request to recover money lost when Flybe Airlines went bankrupt (this past March) and quickly got our money refunded. Hank
  13. I had put MSC into their own category because of their organizational structure. Although they do make some of their financial info public, they are not under the same disclosure obligations as the other 3 major cruise players. But MSC has very deep pockets and the family does not need to completely depend on the cruise industry to survive. In the case of CCL, RCI and Norwegian Holdings they are almost totally dependent on the cruise industry. All three of those companies have just about sold their soul to obtain necessary financing to get through this year. Even if they survive, the burden of high interest loans and some other related issues such as convertible stock will hang over their heads for many years. Hank
  14. Perhaps I am still a cruise newbie, but have somehow managed to spend more then 1200 days cruising over the past 40+ years on many cruise lines :). I have no clue as to whether cruise lines will survive COVID-19, but we still have 4 cruises (over 86 days) booked for the next year. While we are not optimistic that all of these cruises will happen we are still taking our chances with bookings. But if the cruise lines make cruising too complicated and difficult we would immediately stop booking cruises and simply do some extended driving trips in Europe. DW and I are avid travelers/cruisers but have learned, over a lifetime, to adjust to current circumstances and pricing. While it is easy to write a proposal of how future cruises should proceed, it is not so easy to convince potential customers to book cruises that involve lots of hassles. In order for any cruise line to survive they must be able to operate and also attract lots of customers. I am already starting to see an interesting trend here in the USA. Folks are starting to look at the travel situation and thinking that RV travel (within North America) might be the best option for the next few years. RV rentals are doing very well and RV sales are up. We have some friends who simply laughed at the latest EU restrictions and bought an expensive RV. The EU (and Asia) should be cognizant that they may drive away (for many years) many of the tourists/visitors who used to spend lots of money. The USA/Canada (and perhaps Mexico) is a huge area with plenty to attract travelers. There is even some talk about a future tax credit that could be implemented for the purpose of promoting domestic travel. I have been blessed to have traveled to over 120 countries and would love to continue that lifestyle. But we can quickly adjust and substitute domestic travel. Hank
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