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About Hlitner

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    New Cumberland,PA, USA
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    International travel (77 countries at last count(
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  1. The "issue" is the waiting time. And it is not only the S class or even Celebrity. But the S Class has those central elevators on opposite sides of the atrium which can be annoying if one side is not running properly. Personally it is not that big of a deal since DW and I routinely use the steps (although I don't like to climb 10 decks). But I have seen folks wait a long time, especially those with wheelchairs and scooters who need more room. Hank
  2. I noticed that Condor's administrator said that the airline has enough liquidity (thanks to a bailout by the EU) to get through the "winter." He also expressed optimism that the airline could find a new partner. One wonders what will happen if they do not find a partner (with deep pockets) by next spring. Will the EU continue to financially prop up the airline? Hard to say. Personally I prefer to avoid airlines in financial trouble. As iancal said, "Danger." Hank
  3. RCI and NCL can afford to put excellent entertainment on their Mega Ships that primarily are used for shorter cruises (generally 7 days). If somebody built a 20,000 passenger ship I suspect the entertainment would be even better. But if you look at the ultra luxury lines they all have one thing in common...the ships are NOT mega ships. In fact, on many of the lines there are fewer then 600 on their ships. I would love to experience the shows that RCI has on the Oasis Class...but no longer willing to go on a ship that does not even feel like a ship. We recently took a 21 day cruise on a ship with 400 passengers. Within 2 days we knew many passengers, the hostess at the Lido greeted us (and most others) by name, the bar tenders and bar waiters remembered our drink preferences, etc. And no, on a ship with 400 you are not going to get a Broadway show. On Viking, Oceania, Azamara and the other medium ship lines you are not going to get the type of entertainment you find on the Oasis Class. I do agree that the entertainment on Celebrity is not great. In fact, since LLP took over the line it has gone steadily downhill...partially because RCI/Celebrity took their productions in-house. Think of production shows on Celebrity. Most are pre-recorded (as in Karaoke) and I could hear the same music in my Living room although most of their music is not to my taste. And Celebrity is not alone as you see much of the same on Princess. HAL has now eliminated their Production Shows and nobody seems to know where they are heading. MSC uses a fixed cast of singers/dancers/acrobats who work every night to pre-recorded tracks. MSC's entertainment is all International which is to say there are no comedians (language barriers). That line is all about music. Some of us long time cruisers (we have been at it since the mid-70s) do not cruise for Broadway Shows or want to be on ships with 6000 souls. If I want Broadway I can drive to NYC. If I want Vegas I can fly there. When I cruise I want a ship, the sea. good service, and the atmosphere of a ship....not a mega resort. I also prefer to be on that ship for at least a month! But some of us cruise because we love to be on a ship, gaze at the sea, go to exciting places, etc. There is certainly a market for the mega ships, but you will not find DW and I on those vessels. You are not going to visit Greenland on the Oasis of the Seas. Those ships cannot even begin to cruise up the Garonne River into Bordeaux. You will not island hop across the South Pacific on that kind of ship....but yes, you will get a decent show ;). I just had a thought. Imagine trying to tender 6000 passenger ashore to a small island that can only handle 1 tender at a time. Princess just tried that in Nanortaiik, Greenland with 3000 passengers and it was a near disaster with many passengers giving up trying to get ashore (after waiting hours for a tender). And to make matters even worse, they are going to repeat that same folly next year! Hank
  4. It is interesting that this thread is only comparing X to RCI. There are certainly a few other cruise lines that should be in the mix, especially at the SS price point. Consider that a SS often goes for over $400 a day. Now compare that to the MSC's Yacht club which has been about $300 a passenger day which gets you an entire ship within a ship rather then just a dining room and Michaels. And we recently cruised on Seabourn for about $400 a day and that is truly all-inclusive with little things like all the good caviar you can eat I do think that the SS cabins make sense if one is determined to cruise on X....but otherwise we would sure look at other cruise lines. Hank
  5. I think they are in a race to the bottom. How many more cut-backs coupled with price increases will it take for them to get the message? I will admit to never having cruised on DCL (their cruise itineraries are too short) but we have been on all the other lines in the Large Ship category and about half in the medium ship category. Our only comment on the rankings are we think that Celebrity is over ranked! At one time (perhaps 5 years ago) we would have ranked X near the top. Hank
  6. Not to the best of our knowledge. As to AMEX, they really do not offer cancellation/interruption on most (if not all) their cards including the high end Platinum. We actually dumped our AMEX Platinum after we received our Chase card. It is rumored that AMEX will be adding some new trip benefits in January, but that is just the rumor mill and if it is happening we do not know the actual details. I have nothing but praise for the high end Chase card. But if they were to start cutting benefits we would certainly be looking at the other options within the industry. Hank
  7. I am not questioning your read of their language but simply telling you how it all worked when we filed what most would call a major claim. I assume (and this a big leap on my part) that GeoBlue is using language to avoid paying for things like outpatient "infusions" which is an issue with many policies. In our particular case, DW received IVs with a powerful sedative, IV antibiotics (while still in the procedure room), a script (filled by the Japanese hospital pharmacy) for oral antibiotics...all of which were reimbursed by GeoBlue with no issues. In fact, with tons of claim info (her treatment on an off the ship spanned about a week, the only item denied by GeoBlue was a big taxi fare to get DW from Yokohama to Narita. The irony about that taxi is that if we had allowed her to be transported by ambulance it would have cost over $1000 a would have been reimbursable under the Med evac section. But using a taxi to save the insurance company money (and call less attention to her case which might have discouraged the airline from the transport) backfired on us. Tis life. I spent over 35 years in the Medical Insurance industry (government) and was actually quite impressed with how GeoBlue handled our situation. We had fast access to a very professional medical case manager (this is usually a good thing) who even followed-up with a few phone calls after we had returned home. Our case was a bit unusual (I posted the details more then a year ago) and the insurer turned out to be reasonable (not always the case with insurance companies). Does this mean that everyone will get the level of service we received? Who knows since we can only speak to a single complex claim over a year ago. Speaking of them having a network, this is quite unique among travel insurers. We live in Mexico part of the year and there are actually network providers near to our home (fortunately we have never needed their services). I know that one of the Internal Medicine physicians has a terrific reputation (hope we never need her services). In the case of our Japanese Hospital, it was the largest major teaching hospital in Osaka and was not part of their network. While DW was still at the hospital I had telephoned GeoBlue (it is good to get medical insurers involved at an early stage) and they immediately told me that the hospital was not part of their network and wanted to know if I had the ability/means to pay the hospital. I have no idea what would have happened if we could not pay...since just like US Hospitals our last step on her discharge was to visit the accounting department :). Hank
  8. Will take you word for that one :). We have never cruised on DCL because we tend to take far longer itineraries. But with two young Grandchildren it could be in our future. Hank
  9. What you post is not true. GeoBlue does have some physicians/hospitals in their network who will often accept "assignment" which means you would not have to directly pay for their services (other then the $50 deductible). If you go to physicians or hospitals that are not part of their network you will generally have to settle all the bills yourself (it helps to have a very high credit limit on your credit cards) and later seek reimbursement from GeoBlue. What they pay is based on their so-called "usual and customary" amounts. But since many foreign hospitals and physicians are quite reasonable (when compared to charges in the USA) it is likely that Geoblue will cover most (if not all) of the cost. In our case, when DW needed emergency outpatient surgery in Japan, some prescription drugs, and thousands of dollars of other medical charges on a Princess ship....the policy paid everything and did it quite fast (about 2 weeks). Or course whether you get paid and how fast everything is settled depends a lot on you (the patient). You need to provide all the required forms and lots of detailed back-up that itemizes all the charges. Our claim submission was over an inch thick and took me hours to assemble...plus write a narrative which makes the claims examiner's life easier :). And Geoblue did reimburse all the costs for IVs, drugs, etc.. all of which occurred in a medical facility (Japanese hospital or the ship's Medical Center). It is said in the insurance industry that you do not know how good a policy is until you actually file a claim. In our case, after having Geoblue for several years, we finally had to file a serious claims and GeoBlue earned my respect. They also worked with us and paid for DW's Medical Evacuation (about a $10,000 charge) from Japan. We have long advised folks that encounter a situation that will result in filing a claim, to carefully document everything including conversations, phone calls, etc. Also seek the maximum amount of documentation from each medical provider before you leave the facility...as it can be difficult to later obtain documents (especially in foreign countries). If a facility offers to give you even more documentation but insists that you must pay a fee, you should generally pay the fee and get all that info. In our case, Princess Cruise Line's medical department did charge an extra fee (I think it was over $40) to print out the entire medical record. We paid that fee without question and it was later reimbursed by GeoBlue. Hank
  10. On Princess it can be pretty easy to have left over OBC. With that cruise line we can often get thousands of OBC since the line allows "stacking" of credits. We are soon off on another Princess cruise where we have about $1800 in OBC plus pre-paid gratuities. Since it is only a 25 day voyage we need to spend about $70 a day which should cover most of our drinks. On Princess we have actually returned from some cruises and received a refund check from the cruise line (many of our OBCs are refundable). On any Princess cruise I start out with $250 Stockholder credit and $250 Veterans Credit (we do not take short cruises). Our various cruises agencies usually kick-in about 10% of the cruise cost plus more and sometimes Princess has a promo where they toss in OBC. We do fine with OBCs on other lines, but Princess is generally the best. Hank
  11. If only that were true. There are no mass market MDRs that serve food we would buy in a restaurant. Some of the alternatives rise to a restaurant level but others would not get our business on land. Our favorite mass market alternative restaurant is Celebrity's Murano. Probably our least favorite is Celebrity's Tuscan. As to HAL's Pinnacle, we would not be willing to pay anything for that food/service on land if it were dinner. But the Pinnacle's lunch (when they have it) is darn good. As to Princess, their Crown Grill is better then the Pinnacle (on HAL) but still not quite up to restaurant quality. None of the Italian restaurants on any of the mass market lines is good, and would not get our business on land. Hank
  12. No way would we recommend any "wine tour" from Naples. It is just not a better wine district within Italy. What to do? We could list at least 50 things. If you want to leave town you could take the jetboat out to Capri, do to Pompeii, Herculanium, take a tour (preferable private in a small vehicle) to the Amalfi Coast, stay in Naples and have pizza, go to the Archaeological Museum, and there are many more options. And don't forget to try some gelato while in Italy. Hank
  13. There is no duty free in Civitavecchia. I used to go to a Carefour Express (about a 10 min walk from the old Fort) but it has been a long time since we shopped at that store. And they did not sell any wine in that mini-market that would have been worthy of a corkage fee. Also keep in mind that "duty free" shops often sell products for more money then places that are not duty free. Just because a shop qualified for selling duty-free merchandise does not mean they can't mark it up to prices that far exceed regular prices. We recently checked-out the so-called "Duty Free" booze prices on Princess and the products we checked (single malt scotch and decent cognac) actually cost about the same (or slightly) more then we pay in Pennsylvania where our booze has a 20% Johnstown Flood Tax plus 6% Sales Tax. I actually showed the shop manager the price (on my cell phone) and he just laughed and said that he did not set the prices. Hank
  14. When we have asked to have our mini swapped out for specific kinds of booze it has been hit/miss (which probably is another reason why we simply swap for coffee cards). What is interesting is that for an upcoming cruise we have a new kind of soft drink package that includes unlimited fountain soft drinks and also "virgin" bar drinks. When we booked the cruise (25 days) we were not even aware we were getting this package and even our cruise agent said she had no clue. Apparently it was some kind of minor promo at the time we booked. But my immediate reaction was, "wow" I can get Virgin Mary's at any bar for no cost. Hank
  15. As others have posted, it is in the coupon book that some folks get...depending on what promos were part of their specific booking. We used one of those coupons on the recent CB cruise to Greenland and expected the Crown Grill to be crowded (because we knew many had the coupon books). The restaurant was only about half full. The reality is that many folks do not want to go to an alternative restaurant on the first night of a cruise. Personally, we love to do the alternate restaurants that first night (on most cruises) since we always opt for open seating which is often a mess on that first night. While folks are dealing with the lines and the MDR issues, we are just relaxing with a wonderful meal in the Crown Grill (or other restaurants on different cruise lines). Hank
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