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Posts posted by LibertyBella

  1. Gosh, I cannot even fathom saying you want to go to Athens, yet you have no idea what to see in Greece, and hubby is less than interested. 


    I live and breathe ancient archaeology, and cruising in the Greek islands is just about my favorite experience in the world, although cruising down the Nile would be right up there with Greece!  Thank goodness my husband (working on 40 years married soon), allows me to plan all trips to everywhere and happily accompanies me, as most of the time we like the same things (history, history, and a bit of nature and adventure).


    We also budget significantly for all our shore excursions as well as pre- and post-hotel stays in the countries from where we cruise. Yes, those busy port cruises can be quite costly and quite exhausting if one gets off at each stop and does a full day tour (as we do). Because we are so rarely in our cabin, we never need a suite--we usually splurge a bit more on the hotels in the cities.


    Perhaps planning a 30th anniversary cruise that features non-stop European port calls is not the best romantic anniversary decision for the two of you, especially if you seem to be going just to go versus knowing what you want to see and why.  If you like Italy, then just do an Italy tour.


    At least you have a year or more to plan--I am leaving for Rome (Colosseum, Forum, Hadrian's Villa, Pantheon),  in less than three weeks, cruising on Princess to Athens (Acropolis, Delphi, Mycenae) with stops in Naples (Pompeii), Crete (Knossos), Mykonos (Delos), Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Istanbul (Topkapi Palace, Basilica Cistern, Hagia Sophia) , ALL places I have been before, but I can always return again and again.


    P.S. In parentheses are all the ancient sites we will visit--as well as many more modern famous sites.

    • Like 1
  2. Gosh, I rarely see people complain about potentially having to go out and shop for a new dress. In my book, any reason is a great excuse to go to the shopping mall! (Yes, I even bought a new dress for my nephew's high school graduation party, but the event was quite casual as compared to a cruise night.)


    I have also NEVER worn the same formal dress two consecutive times on a single cruise.  I pack for all my photo opportunities, so every night is different and special.  We also have clothes specific to the climate of the cruise--heavier and darker in colder places or Winter cruises, lighter and brighter in warmer weather cruises or Summer.


    Not sure what the big complaint is about white and gold night--you can wear gold, or white, or both, or neither.  I, for one, love sparkle, and I have all of those colors already, as well as silver, copper, etc. We also cruise on Cunard and they have fun theme nights as well, although husband has it easier as the tuxedo works every time. He just changes his bowtie.


    I am bringing a beautiful new gown with me on the Enchanted Princess next month, and I am taking it in my carry-on so there will be no risk of loss in my luggage. I love that dress and I cannot wait to wear it!


     My main packing challenge is limiting my shoe choices in the suitcase!



    • Like 3
  3. How do I find a good travel agent?  


    I don't--I find a decent agency that provides me with the extra benefits that are a nice bonus, but I depend on them for the minimum, and expect them to be available to do the dirty work like holding on the phone for hours with a cruise line if needed. 


    I have spoken to many nice individuals working at cruise lines, but since I have been cruising for fifty years, many agents have come and gone, or sadly, passed away.


    I think I expect/need less from a travel agent because a long time ago I WAS a travel agent--and I worked with so many terrific agents who trained me so well that the skills have served me for decades. (Yes, I was trained on the TWA flight computers back in the dark ages, then moved to AA SABRE)


    It seems to me that since the Internet appeared and people moved to the do-it-yourself mode, travel agents lost prestige and professionalism, and many became simple hourly paid employees. (The same for the cruise agents.) There is a LOT to learn about the travel industry, and it can take years to fully understand all the areas and components, even for full-time agents.


    There are so many cruisers on this website complaining all the time about issues that are frequently their own fault, because they do not understand all the intricacies and constant monitoring required to ensure a wonderful trip. There are many people who really need skilled travel agents, but they do not even know it!


    I would say if you are serious about creating a long-term relationship with someone highly qualified, conduct an interview of an agency/agent--find out their experiences, their expertise, the agency specialties and services, etc., etc.. The most highly respected travel agents have certifications after their names, such as CTC.  See if there is a match with your personality and if you feel comfortable. You could even ask them if they have client references that they could share.


    Cruises are usually a great money stream for most agencies, and they should be happy to work with you more or less free of charge.  

    • Thanks 1
  4. I think this issue needs to be addressed by the travel agency.  Unfortunately, you are caught in the middle, but the agency's reputation is on the line, and they need to prove that they followed all of Viking's rules.


    I would pay the $200.00 now just to ensure your cruise is safeguarded, but then the agency needs to ask for a formal review and investigation, and perhaps even seek a legal perspective, so that they will not be accused of committing fraud.


    I would hope you would then either receive refunds or OBC.  


    I am sorry you are angry with Viking, but there are some other issues here that need to be reviewed at a higher level. The Viking manager also has a boss, and a legal department, and they can make some final decisions above his ruling.


    If indeed your agency IS committing fraud, then you should ask THEM to pay the $200.00 each as they created the situation. Your recourse then becomes small claims court and a search for a new travel agency.


    Hopefully you will have a wonderful cruise--we did the Viking Danube Waltz this past March, and it was wonderful to see all the historic cities like Vienna and Budapest, and learn all about the Habsburg empire.

    • Like 4
  5. I have not cruised out of Quebec, but I have been to Canada multiple times as husband is a skier. There is nothing like flying in to quaint little Quebec when it is full of snow and ice, and the old city is quite historic and very lovely.  However, flights are always connections so we have to review schedules (via Toronto, or Quebec, or NY, or Detroit, etc.). We have also taken trains many times up to Canada via Montreal, then rented cars, but we no longer haul the skis.  Quebec is a smaller destination, and flights are more limited.


    Yes, you can probably board late at night, but who wants to?  Is there a reason why you want to lose almost one complete day of your cruise?  Can't you leave the day before and then overnight somewhere (maybe even the airport) so you can board the ship early the first day of the cruise? The glorious hotel Chateau Frontenac is worth the trip to Quebec in itself just to stay there a few days! You should most definitely try to arrive the night before--being October makes no difference. 


    I have responded to many other threads on CC regarding flights, so please know that EZAir only does what you tell it to! "Putting your faith in EZAir" is futile and a misplaced hope.  You have to do some flight research on your own, and you make decisions that you think are the best, but you must be realistic.  You are flying across the continent, and even the best-made plans need back-ups.

    Best wishes and have a great cruise!


    • Thanks 1
  6. Well, I also like to have a bit of cash with me, and if you are in some places that are not quite as technologically modern, then it can be a lifesaver.


    On my recent river cruise in March we had a crazy short layover in Frankfurt airport, and because I had Euros I could buy a soda from a kiosk and drink it on the run.


    At the great market in Budapest they even told me if I had dollars they would be VERY happy to accept them and give me a better price (I paid in Euros). 


    Euro coins are needed in many places for the bathrooms! 


    Finally, I will be stopping in Istanbul this Summer, and I know that some credit card transactions can be a bit risky there, so I will keep my card in my purse and use cash while in the bazaar.

    • Like 2
  7. Wow--San Francisco to Rome with no advance home port days?!  I live in Philly, on the East coast, and I would not even attempt that.  We are traveling to cruise from Rome in July, and I built in four advance days. 


    I 100% agree the main job of cruise flights should be to provide what you ask for--your dates, your itinerary.  If I cannot build in advance days then that is MY problem, not the cruise line!


    I have been burned a few times by airlines on international cruises, so my knowledge come from brutal experience. Thank goodness I have never missed a cruise or had to board late, but I have lost hotel nights, been thoroughly and a bit terribly rerouted on flights, and had luggage missing for days (all on many different cruise lines, including Viking, Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America).


    The only fault here is parents who did not put their foot down and insist son arrive a day or two early.    I always say even better than travel insurance sometimes is an emergency credit card. I also always check out all flight routes myself BEFORE I talk to a cruise agent.


    Thank goodness he had the two of you to "rescue" him.  Husband and I have been traveling independently all over the world since we were barely out of our teens, so we always plan for the worst but hope for the best, and can only rely on ourselves. 

    RC is not my top cruise line, but I would not hesitate to book them for any cruise, including Greece, one of our favorite voyage locations! Hopefully once on board, he--and you--had a great time.

    • Like 5
  8. Wow!  I really think you all need a cruise.  Please do not cancel for the family!  You are celebrating her milestone, and you should just continue with all the planning.  Boyfriends may come and go throughout her life, and she is probably too young to settle down with one guy right now, anyway.


    Well, one of my nieces and her boyfriend just broke up (she is much older than your daughter), and they bought a house together, so a vacation is a much smaller issue in the scheme of life. 


    You can read some other threads and some of them say if one of the passengers is a no-show, then the price doesn't change, but if you cancel or name change, the price could change. I am not an expert on this issue, however, so I would recommend much more research.


    Is your daughter going on to higher education?  I am sure she will find many great boyfriend opportunities there!


    I hope you all get to cruise together!  Best wishes!



    • Like 1
  9. I am a hot weather person, I love to sit on the beach and bake, and my absolute favorite cruise in the world is the Greek Islands (in Summer!).  I will spend whatever it costs on the longest, most comprehensive shore excursions that visit ancient ruins and museums for the day.


    My DH is a cold weather fan, played ice hockey in school and even to this day is an avid skier.  He will vacation to any mountain, anywhere, as long as it is in the Winter.

    So we compromise--some vacations in the cold, some in the heat!


    Yet cruising is its own unique experience, and I think less about the weather and more about what one should see and do.  However, there is definitely a high season and a low season for many areas.


    I think Alaska cruises are marvelous, and yes, we splurged on excursions, including taking a helicopter to the glacier and hiking with crampon boots. Okay, so I had to bring the coat, gloves, and hats, and it was definitely not bikini weather, but watching eagles in flight, and searching the shores for moose and bears is completely mesmerizing.  Also, the scenery is truly majestic and memorable.


    Should you go?  Most definitely!  Will it be as cheap as a Caribbean getaway?  Probably not, but now that my husband is scuba certified, he spends hundreds of dollars on those water excursions, so I just have to build excursion costs into all our cruises.


    Alaska cruises are sometimes priced very competitively, so what you save on the cruise cost can be budgeted for excursions. 


    I hope you decide to add this great destination to your bucket list.

  10. Dogs have remarkable senses of smell.


    There are cadaver dogs that find skeletons of revolutionary soldiers (more than two hundred years old!), there are service dogs that smell the chemical changes in the brain for stress and illness, as well as cancer, Covid, etc., and even regular dogs when smelling cake can identify and separate each individual ingredient of the cake with their noses!


    If drugs stink to us, just imagine how easy they are for dogs to smell, even from far away.  


    I have seen on some other threads that Carnival has been increasing the use of drug-sniffing dogs, and they even use dog checks for Greyhound bus passengers.


    Well, there are some countries that administer much, much worse than just a fine (check out the rules in the Philippines, etc.), so hopefully the cruiser learned a hard but important lesson.

    • Like 2
  11. In the past I never prepaid gratuities, but now with all the constant increases I am getting more focused on this issue. 


    I have an upcoming Princess cruise with gratuities listed at the old rate, and I made sure to prepay them. 


    I took another cruise line to Europe in March, and if you prepaid, you paid in dollars, but if you waited to pay on the ship, you had to pay in Euros (more costly)!


    Yes, the price might go up on the ship, because you will probably be charged the current gratuities rate, but I hope you have cruise cash to pay everything and also enjoy some extras!

    • Like 1
  12. PLEASE post a photo of your new gown! 


    I am following this fun thread and I would like to see what you purchased. 


    I have many cruise evening gowns, but not one would really work for a formal wedding--just too many sequins.  I would not want to compete with the bride (ha ha).  


    Have a wonderful time!

  13. You have SO MUCH time that you should not less yourself get overly stressed out yet.


    I had a similar experience with Viking Air just this year--they changed my great return flights from Budapest a month or two ahead due to the fact that the airline (Lufthansa) decided the pilots were overworked and so reduced some flights. We ended up flying Air Canada (?) BUD to Zurich then to Toronto and then finally to Philly, three connections on three busy, long, uncomfortable flights way out of the way (four countries in one day).  


    Many years ago I booked a Princess flight and the local domestic flight was cancelled AT THE LAST MINUTE, making me miss the international flight to Copenhagen! I had to overnight in Chicago (yuck) and then screamed at Princess on the phone until they got me to Europe. Thank goodness I had built in three days in advance at a hotel before the cruise. Thank goodness I also had travel insurance. By the way, the luggage showed up a day later.


    I am not sure what the issue is with a very early flight, but, anymore I look at flights as something to endure to get to the real trip, in this case, a cruise. 


    The one thing I really like about EZ Air besides the cheaper prices is that I was able to select my own flights.  I would do a quick search to see what else might appeal to you/work with your schedule, so at least you can provide them a bit of guidance.  Maybe even go a day earlier if that will be possible, so there is no pressure.


    Hang in there, it will work out. Have a great trip!



    • Like 1
  14. I hate it when there is a short window to get back from an excursion to go to dinner, but we will usually plan on being fifteen minutes late maximum at the restaurant if we really have to!


    The worst was two years ago when it was formal night on Cunard QM2 for 4th of July--our excursion return was more than an hour late!  We ran to the cabin, ripped off our clothes, threw on the gown and tuxedo, and even stopped for a formal photo before dinner.


    We cut it super close (fifteen-twenty minutes late) as the waiters were taking orders, but that was the way the day went.  At least we had a reserved spot every night so there was not an issue with "losing" the reservation.


    We would never pass up eating in the dining room (no buffet dinners), and we try to change if at all possible.  But yes, on a more casual cruise where I thought I might be late for dinner, I would go directly there, but perhaps wear something a bit nicer during the day.

    • Thanks 1
  15. We love to cruise out of New York--so convenient not to have to worry about airline flights.  We also go up to New York often just for sightseeing and fun activities.  I like the East side of Manhattan for hotels --very walkable and lots of shopping.  With two days in advance, you can enjoy the city and then take a taxi or an Uber to your port. 


    I will say you might want to check with Princess to see if they have blocked space in a hotel and will sell a package that includes transfers.  That might not be the cheapest, but probably the most efficient.  Enjoy!

  16. Been cruising for fifty years now, and specialty restaurants did not exist in those days--you were either first class (as in Cunard Queen's Grill) or in the same class/restaurant with everybody else.


    Yet I do think the introduction of those restaurants is a clever idea--they offer diversity in dining choices, tastes, are often more intimate, and with more focused service.  We have eaten in a few, and have no real praise or complaints one way or another--most of our most memorable meals in life have been on the land, and we cruise for the cruise experience, not really for the food. 


    In the scheme of cruise life, the restaurant charge is minimal as compared to spa services, photo packages, multiple excursions, drink packages, jewelry shop purchases, etc.

    • Like 3
  17. When I booked my EZ Air I was able to request my seats immediately at that time (although NOT on AC).


    I am a FF member of the airlines that I am using, so I immediately logged in to each flight and made sure that my seats were confirmed.


    I am not clear about your $200.00 charge--is that price per seat, or for a group of seats?  I agree, the price seems to be outrageous--almost like a class upgrade rather than a seat assignment.


    Are you working with a travel agent?  Perhaps if you call them they can assist with the seat assignment issue. 


    I would never wait until the last minute for a seat assignment, as those without seats could be the first to get bumped!



  18. I'm sailing on the Enchanted Princess in a few months, and I purchased my gold dress almost a year in advance!  Husband will not bring his tuxedo--he only wears it on Cunard, but we definitely dress to impress on all cruises! (This is the photo from the store website--NOT me!)





    • Like 6
  19. Congrats to you on your first Cunard cruise!  I have sailed on many other lines as well, but always come back to Cunard for the traditions and "royal" treatment.


    We enjoy dressing up (and we take a lot of formal photos), and the ballroom dancing is just beautiful.  We also love the refinement and sense of history on board Cunard ships.


    I am also a Spain fanatic, so I think you will have a wonderful time visiting that country as well. 


    I think your gold gown will be great--if you want to accentuate it with red shoes or red lipstick, or something else, you will be perfect!


    I am going to Italy in a few months and I will just caution not to overload yourself, as there is too much to see and do. It would probably be better to go to either Florence or Pisa, but not do both unless you truly have the stamina and energy to rush around and just see snapshots of the cities.


    Enjoy all your advance planning and have a terrific cruise!

    • Like 2
  20. Decorum seems to be disappearing in the public sphere as many young people feel it is their "right" to do what they please and have fun, and parents are weak at discipline.  There are posters on the Cruise Critic website who complain that the cruise lines do not offer enough activities for teens, but they do not seem to even know how to help their children learn how to behave.


    Well, I live here in Philly, and many, many families from PA, NY, and NJ enjoy beach vacations, sometimes for weeks or months in the Summer.


    Let's just say many parents also seem to think that their somewhat spoiled children are "safe," and can be on their own doing whatever until very late at night (!).


    In response to many, many "rowdy" teens (vandalism, assaults, weapons, drugs, fights, shoplifting, drinking), emergency meetings were just held and a lot of family-friendly beach towns are/have: banned alcohol sales, set earlier curfews, banned backpacks in the evening, closed the beaches early in the evening, closed bathrooms, etc.


    I also have to say we just had an unfortunate weekend event in our city of hundreds of young people doing illegal street racing and closing down some of our major roads. There was a fatal police shooting of an 18 year old who was participating in this activity.


    I have not really ever experienced any issues on any of my cruises, but I do tend to book a bit longer or more exotic itineraries which may not be as popular with families with children.  There are many posters who book Viking or other similar cruise lines because they want to avoid children!

    • Like 3
  21. In the past I have walked alone by myself in Nassau, and I have taken multiple excursions, and I always felt safe.


    I have also been to different parts of Mexico independently and had no problems.


    But, I think that crime and violence has become worse everywhere.  Poverty is really evident in many areas of the Caribbean, and I suppose tourists are easy targets.


    I live in a big city in the USA, and I no longer go alone to the downtown area at night, either.


    I will say that I would definitely NOT go alone in Jamaica.  I had friends that were offered drugs for sale there a long time ago, and the situation has only gone downhill from there, and I have other friends who were robbed of their wedding jewelry while on their honeymoon. The worst was when I bought a Frommers guidebook, and it stated that one of their writers was missing in Jamaica!


    I have gone on excursions in Jamaica, and overall felt safe, and would probably go again, but I do not make it a priority to return.  I much prefer other ports like Bermuda, Grand Cayman, private islands, etc., where crime is not such a worry.

    • Like 2
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