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Posts posted by LibertyBella

  1. Perhaps you can access Macy's in the USA.  Frequently they have great sales, so the prices can be very reasonable!  My husband has a pair of black patent shoes from Macy's, although I also bought him a pair from Jimmy Choo (but they are a bit on the heavy side).  Best wishes-- I am sure you will look very dapper!



    https://www.macys.com/shop/featured/mens black patent dress shoes?cm_kws_ac=mens patent dress

  2. One time we were in the DR, and we rode horses on the beach in the late evening (moonlight ride).  I would hate to be the person walking on the beach early next morning!


    Many of the US beaches have strict laws against animals on the beaches, but I am not so sure that same level of care (and beach cleaning) is enforced in other countries.


    I think those water shoes should be mandatory for certain beach locations!

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  3. I come from a cruising family, and we have been on multiple cruises (diverse lines), with multiple generations and family configurations.


    When one of the cruisers is a parent without a partner, we the children and grandchildren try to semi-coordinate daytime activities together. On sea days, we might meet for breakfast with him/her, go to an arts and crafts event, or the art auction, etc.  We almost always try to eat together at dinner, but sometimes the couples might want to try a specialty restaurant and rotate turns with the parent choosing to either go to the specialty or the regular with rest of the group.


    On shore days, depending on the fitness of the parent, and if he/she wants to even get off, if there is an easy excursion (glass bottom boat), one person might go with the parent, while others go off and do something more athletic (bike ride). It does help to review the excursions list in advance of the cruise and discuss some options.


    The great thing about most cruises is that they are very relaxing, and it is quite easy to talk to others and make friends.  Sometimes the ships even offer special events for singles.  There are always activities like card games, or trivia, or bingo, where you can just attend without knowing anyone and start a conversation. 


    I cruised by myself several times when I was in my very young twenties, and I went to the nightclub, and met a lot of new friends that way!  Even sitting at a bar will probably allow you to talk with others. Have a GREAT time, and do not worry!

  4. 2 hours ago, FlyerTalker said:


    And of course you know that the cruise price is inflated to cover that "free" air.


    Just as it is inflated to cover the "free" shore excursions in each port.


    Just as Regent, Silversea, Seabourn and Crystal include "free booze".







    Cruise costs fluctuate depending upon market conditions (time of year, popularity, etc., etc.)  In my many decades of cruising I have been offered lots of extreme bargains. For example, just this year Carnival offered me a 10 day British Isles cruise in August for only $200.00 (NOT casino), and even though I found RT air to LHR for only $800.00, I decided not to go because my first decision about cruising is NOT based on price (but it was tempting)! 


    For me, itinerary is always the first priority (where do we want to go in a particular year, what is still remaining on the destination bucket list), and scheduling to match our work calendar is second.  We have dogs, and we must reserve their boarding months in advance as well.  Because we love to sightsee, sometimes we spend more on excursions than on the cost of the cruise!


    I always know my cruise cost per person per night, and I compare prices across diverse cruise lines and other possible travel dates. Guess what--I rarely drink alcohol, and never eat seafood, but DH does enjoy both, so he can have my share of drinks and lobster.  I also thoroughly research all destinations, and shore excursion possibilities and costs.


    Finally, I  collect FF miles and hotel and cruise credit card points, so yes, sometimes we do travel "free."  Yes, buying all that dog food constantly means that sometimes I can go away without spending anything.


    P.S. As youths, we traveled all over Europe with backpacks, sleeping bags and a tent for months with a train pass, and a $10.00 day budget.  We even went all the way to Egypt and spent weeks there (cheap hotels cost only about $1.50 pp in Luxor, but the toilets were just holes in the ground). Nowadays we like a little more luxury.



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  5. Unfortunately, some of the fires in Greece were actually caused by arsonists, and arrests have been made.  All those who are suffering, or who have perished are in my thoughts.


    We cruised in Greece last month, and had a post-stay in Athens.  We took a day trip to Delphi, and the fires came up almost to the highway.  We saw the black plumes of smoke for miles. 


    The fires seem to be in the more remote areas outside of the city, with lots of forests.  The strong winds also make the fires move rapidly.


    Yes, it is very sad to see all of the tragedies happening this year, and so much of it is unpredictable.  I certainly understand that when one plans a vacation, sometimes years in advance, it is challenging to have to try to deal with emergencies.  Unfortunately, I think you will need to follow some of the news yourself for your specific destinations.  I am sure cruise lines do not want to lose customers, so they may make deviations in the itineraries instead of canceling. Make sure you have travel insurance, and check to see what is potentially included and what is not.  Best wishes!

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  6. On 9/12/2022 at 5:39 PM, HUNKY said:

    Viking just seems to be getting in line with other cruise lines. I know Princess allows you to choose your flights online and you can choose to arrive early or depart a few days later.  At no additional cost.


    I cruised on both Princess and Viking this year and used air with both of them.  There is a significant difference between the air process, especially if you receive "free" air on Viking. We rarely upgrade our flights to business, as we can more or less handle the economy area as long as we have decent seats (two together, or two aisles.)


    Princess does allow you to choose all your own flights, any carriers, and you may be paying less through the cruise line rather than booking directly with the airline due to their group purchase, but it is not free.  For example, my open-jaw flight Phila-Rome-Athens-Phila was $2000.00 RT pp using nonstop airlines, with luggage an extra cost. (This was for July, the height of the season.)  With Princess (they have a nice flight search engine function), I was able to connect in Newark (PHL-EWR-FCO/ATH-PHL), and lower the price to $1650.00 RT with seats selected, and luggage included. 


    I used UA & AA, major carriers with which I have frequent flyer memberships.  I reserved four months in advance and asked to be ticketed approximately three months in advance.  Because I had pre-and post-city stays, no transfers were included. All flights were great --no problems.  Let me say, that if I wanted to go as cheaply as possible, I could have booked connections in Ireland and brought the price down to $1200.00 RT.  But the connections could be risky, and the airline had a reputation for losing luggage. As much as possible I prefer nonstop international flights (and my clothes are too nice to lose!).


    With Viking (we traveled Phila to Munich/Budapest to Phila); the free air meant they controlled the process.  At no time did I ever know the exact "price" of the tickets.  They selected the carriers, all the flights, and then when the original return was cancelled by the airline, put us on a very LONG multi-connection four country return with diverse carriers. Although the luggage was included, I had issues with the seat selections from the beginning, and had to keep reinstating my seats daily on MVJ.   I was concerned about FF miles for these partner airlines, and I made a point of ensuring I would receive credit directly with the airline desk staff while traveling. My husband, who did not have a FF # on one airline until after the trip, was not able to receive retroactive FF credit because his ticket numbers were not recognized (probably some kind of bulk purchase.)


    Okay, we put up with all the hectic Viking flights, the running around in the airports for connections, the battle over seats,  etc., because we did not have to spend one extra cent above our cruise fare to travel internationally.   We also had Viking transfers, which were excellent (and free).


    Would we fly free Viking air again?  Absolutely, eyes wide open, knowing that we could possibly even carry on luggage (as long gowns, tuxedos, and high heels are not required like other cruise lines we use), packing our patience, and being ready for constant change.  Of course, departure airport and destination, and time of year of travel also play a role.


    If the Viking cruise were my one and only trip, or if my health was not the best, or if budget did not have an impact, then certainly I would splurge and pay extra for better flights and confirmed seats.  However, not having to spend any extra for air is certainly a very nice incentive!











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  7. Yes, I received this survey today, and I completed it.  Having sailed other cruise lines besides Cunard, I found it a bit of a pain trying to look up some of my membership stats for the others to share with Cunard. Not sure why they wanted to know all that--just trying to get more info about each of us!


    I like loyalty programs, but I am not a fanatic, so I am sure that my opinions will not change much of what is offered (never once have I done laundry on a cruise ship, nor do I ever have any intention of doing so, as usually my cruises are not so long that I have to rewear outfits.).


    However, it was fun to see all of the potential benefit ideas!



  8. Hmm, I just tried to have my 2024 cruise repriced for this sale (also here in the US), and I was told I have to completely cancel and rebook to take advantage of the savings, and I will lose some of my OBC, get a new reservation number, as well as have to pay a NEW deposit and have my old deposit refunded (??!).


    Overall it will probably be worth it financially, but it is a hassle to go through the whole process. I definitely do not want to lose my cabin!


    My TA said Cunard is trying to better keep track of re-pricings and money movements, so that is why they are starting this more complex process, rather than just a quick refare as in the past.  Yes, they probably want to attract new cruisers, but we veteran cruisers might even consider adding another leg to our journeys with such a good price--if I can tolerate trying to go through all the extra paperwork.

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  9. Well, if you think you will not be returning to Spain, I would recommend extending your trip pre-cruise and then definitely going to Madrid for at least three-four days (fly in to Madrid), so you can see a bit of the city (city overview tour, Royal Palace, Prado Museum), and do one or two bus day trips (Toledo & Segovia first/then perhaps Avila & Salamanca), so you will have more of a taste of the country. Then head to Barcelona (by high speed train) for one (or two) day(s) pre-cruise.  Overall Spain is not extremely expensive, although Viking always selects high-cost hotels for their extensions.  


    You do have a LOT of sea days on your cruise, so it seems they are crossing the Atlantic VERY slowly.

    For us, we prefer more port time than sea time, because we are avid sightseers. 

  10. Gosh, 2025 is such a long way off. At least they are giving you a lot of advance notice!  I have gone through many similar experiences throughout my travel life, and I have always been able to find some kind of substitute somewhere--different date, different country, different itinerary as needed.


    Saying you will never cruise Carnival again is just an over-the-top response.  Yes, you are disappointed, but it is not heart-breaking. Just take the refund and do something else.  Travel is always an adventure, and that is part of the fun!


    P.S. I am STILL waiting to take my China river cruise, which I booked back in 2019.  Due to Covid and political issues, the cruises have never restarted.  I used my deposit money to go to Iceland instead.

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  11. I agree with the advice to pass on the visit with family member and see how husband feels.  You also need to see if the doctor can determine exactly what the issue might be!


    One time on a business trip I had food poisoning, and I was extremely ill for a day and a half with similar symptoms. However, it passed and then I was basically fine, just recovering.  


    Nowadays with so many diseases and viruses floating around, one can never be completely sure.  


    Best wishes to you, and hopes for a speedy and full recovery for your husband!



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  12. Well, I am a person who has studied, worked, and traveled extensively in Spain, and on my upcoming cruise (Rome to Barcelona) I am definitely NOT going to Madrid, only because the temptation to see and do more would be overwhelming!


    Yes, Barcelona is very nice, and touring the Gothic quarter, La Rambla, the museums, and all the Gaudi creations will definitely use up two of your days.  With an extra day I would head to Montserrat and/or Girona on a day trip.


    Barcelona is about two-three hours from Madrid on the train, but in many ways it is a bit isolated since it sits somewhat alone on the northeastern coast. However, once in Madrid one can make a circle of great historic cities to visit all nearby, which I would not be able to resist!  Of course I could spend two days just touring in the capital, but I could not leave without going to Toledo, or Avila, or Segovia, or Salamanca, and then I would want to go south to Sevilla and Granada, and maybe see Cordoba.  By that time more than a week has passed, and I still will not want to leave. (I have been to all of those places multiple times and even have favorite hotels, etc., but they are wonderful to see again and again.)


    If you have never been to Spain before, you will find so much to see in Madrid and surroundings that two days is almost not worth the bother.  So I agree with all above--just stay in Barcelona!

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  13. I only saw this once when I was on the NCL Hawaii cruise.  They had us surfing in the ocean, and then riding a turtle in the ocean, which we did not see at all until the final product, so we were not completely sure why they had us standing certain ways.  However, the photos were very fun!



  14. I have been on multiple cruises everywhere, and I take lots of photos, and NEVER have I seen a backdrop for a formal photo with any type of flag. (Sometimes there might be a flag on the casual port arrival photos you take quickly when getting off the ship for an excursion.)


    Usually the formal photo backdrops will be colors with designs, or a beach scene, a sunset, a chandelier, steps, a garden, paving stones, etc., etc., all very neutral!  We always used to like the background of the Titanic central staircase, but we do not see that one much anymore.


    I will say some of my favorite backgrounds are those that are "live" on the ship--the bottom of the staircase, the balcony at the top of the staircase, the central area next to a vase of flowers, etc.


    So I like to choose my outfits to match my destination (and sometimes the cruise might have a theme night).  I will wear heavier, darker clothes in colder climates, and brighter, lighter clothes in warmer climates.  I am a person who loves sparkles and sequins, so usually one of my dresses looks like that as well.  We do not like some of the poses (I tell my husband no more hand in pocket!), but we try to take as many photos as possible with different backdrops, so we can choose our favorites at the end.

    Have a wonderful time!

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    I am a dog owner, and I can understand that dogs can scare people because they are full of energy, run, jump, and make many noises.  My boy dog even gets on MY nerves--he is over fifty pounds, and still wants to be a lap dog! Your wife may have had a bad experience with a dog in the past and it is stuck in her mind (My grandmother was like that with cats, until I let her play with some of my kittens, and then she mentally and physically relaxed.).


    However, your wife should have no worries about drug detector dogs. Those are highly trained animals, and are on leashes at all times with their handlers.  There is no reason for your wife to be afraid because the dogs will completely (and professionally) ignore her, unless, of course, she has drugs on her person or in her bags.

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  16. So far this year I have sailed on both Viking (Germany and Hungary) and Princess (Italy and Greece) and used open jaw air from both cruise lines. Viking return flights were pretty terrible (three connections, three countries), the flights I chose with Princess were all non-stop. However, Viking gave me "free" air and I paid almost full-price for Princess air.


    I think the difference between air purchased from Viking versus Princess, for example, is that Viking more or less controls the itinerary, because they are offering you such a competitive low price or "free" air, and they get low contracted space.  They will charge you more if you want to select your own flights, or if you have preferred carriers.


    With Princess I selected my own itinerary, and I received a slight discount from what the airlines were offering as compared to if I were to book the flights on my own. We did both pre-and post-cruise stays, so we used taxis and shuttles with Princess. With Viking we arrived and departed according to the cruise dates (yes, crazy, but our work schedule was tight), and the bus transfers were wonderful.


    It was fun to see all the combinations that the computers come up with as they search for bargain flights, so I suppose that AI has some kind of role in calculating costs and arranging schedules. It can be a bit overwhelming to search through the many flights and costs, so I can see why cruise passengers become frustrated. I do not necessarily think the cruise air agents are experts, or 100% focused on giving the passenger the best flights; instead, their role is to get you there but make sure the cruise company is still making a profit (or not taking a loss).


    Air travel these days is a bit on the crazy side--even the airline staff do not always know what is happening--whenever possible splurge for non-stops if the flights are complex, or just pack your patience and be prepared for adventure! Purchase travel insurance, and bring a back-up credit card.


    Yes, I would use Viking Air again if it were free or dirt-cheap, but if there are not savings I would book my own flights to have more priority and more control.


    BTW, I just booked a Cunard cruise so I am going to check out their current air program--I remember when Cunard used to offer transatlantic return air for a small up-charge on the Concorde (which sadly, I never took as I was too cheap.)




    • Like 1
  17. Well, how much are you willing to spend?  Husband and I frequently use the company Resort for A Day to find a great resort hotel/beach experience when none of the cruise offerings interest us, but you might be better off financially seeing what the cruise line is offering for a beach excursion. 


    Additionally, we have also gone to Atlantis several times, which is a phenomenal place to visit, but it is very big, and very expensive, and would probably be a bit overwhelming for your young children.


    I also found these websites regarding free beaches (none of which we have ever used, so I cannot provide any personal feedback):






    Have a wonderful holiday!

  18. We are long-time cruisers and love to explore our ships and learn the lay-out. Yes, DH prefers paper maps, but I like to go by memory!


    The only places we found a bit obscure to get to on QM2 were the library (deck 8, behind the book store) and the disco (G32, Deck 3, behind the Queen's Room). 


    It can be a bit confusing as well walking around trying to find the Illuminations theater where the planetarium is located, but don't miss the show!

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  19. Well, since the cruise is not until April, I guess you have a bit of time to have everything checked out and reviewed.  Cunard has always provided excellent service to me, but I try to be patient and calm as I know there are always priority situations that can arise in the world of travel, and life. (One time I was on hold with Cunard for an hour or more, but I know they are trying their best, so I am always nice.)


    I mean, I live here in Philly, and Bruce Springsteen is supposed to give a big concert here tonight, and he just cancelled a few hours in advance!!  Think of all the poor ticket holders falling all over themselves ---43,000 tonight and the next (tomorrow is also cancelled!). He is ill, so who knows when they will reschedule, and one ticket cost as much as $5000.00!



  20. Well, I never wait until I get on the ship to buy excursions--I purchase them all in advance, and I use different credit cards as needed/desired to do so.


    This Summer I did not provide a CC # in advance of my Princess cruise as almost all was prepaid--I was very surprised when I was checking in that nobody asked me for a CC# anyway.  Well, it turns out they cancelled one of my expensive prepaid shore excursions, so I ended up with a lot of OBC.


    I do not think waiting until she boards will cause any major delays, so do not worry. 

  21. And as much as I respect my vets, and I have used many over the past six decades, they all have various levels of expertise, experience, and knowledge. IMO the average vet would not be able to provide much feedback on the QM2 cruise kennel experience.  Past travelers would be an excellent source of feedback. (I would never expect someone who just purchased a puppy from a breeder to NOT be in contact with a veterinarian!)


    In extreme medical cases I always use veterinary specialist practices, where each veterinarian is board certified in a different area, and all can consult together as a team to determine the best practices toward ideal outcomes.  Here in Philly we have one of the top veterinary hospitals in the country--the University of Pennsylvania, and even they struggle with how to treat certain cases (yes, I go all out for my pets).


    And as I tried to discuss a little in my previous point, there can be a difference between being physically fit to travel versus emotionally/mentally fit.  The owner needs to decide if the pet can handle the cage experience, and being with strange people, and noisy dogs.  (One of my cats will stop eating if she is in a cage for any length of time--she is quite shy, and hides from everybody but me and my husband, but is now 16 years old and healthy!)

  22. I have and have had many pets, and I have traveled with them and boarded them in the kennel at all ages, from babies to seniors (dogs, cats, parakeets).  I have not, however, taken my dogs on a cruise, although our very good friends just took their adult dog to and from Europe on the QM2, and our other good friends take their adult dog with them on the plane to their second home in France every Summer--he is small, and rides under the seat.  Many dogs become excellent travelers! (One of my dogs used to jump into the car with glee when he knew we were going on a ride.)


    Younger animals are usually a bit more flexible with different arrangements, but they could become shy or scared if they are left alone too much. Does the dog sleep apart from you or with you?  Has he been socialized to other people?  Does he know how to get along with other dogs?  Does he get stressed easily?  Also, when I board my pets, I know there are veterinarians right there at the facility to treat them should any serious health problems arise (even a change in food can bring on problems).  I know you can visit your dog every day on the QM2, but only you know if he would become lonely or depressed.


    I suppose the flag for me in your question is that you used the word "fragile,"--what do you mean by that? 


    I have a Persian cat, she is very, very, tiny, five pounds full grown, just a ball of fluff.  As a kitten I also considered her a bit fragile because she was so, so small, and her nose is a little pushed up, and her eyes stick out a little bit.  She went on a long car ride from the breeder to our home (six hours), and I held her in my arms the entire time (she was crying so woefully in the car), and ever since then I never take her anywhere except to the vet for her check-ups.  She sleeps on our bed and sits right next to my pillow in the morning, and licks my face to wake-me up.  She is now nine years old, and extremely healthy, but for me the risk is too great to ever let her out of our house (even a hawk could scoop her up!), much less travel with her.


    Your comfort level for the situation is also important as dogs react strongly to our emotions.  

    Yes, it is important to be thoughtful and careful about our animal companions, because we are all they have.  Best wishes, and I hope both of you enjoy the cruise!



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