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Posts posted by LibertyBella

  1. I am wondering how the cruise ships that are calling in Halifax this week are doing, since the wildfires have created a state of emergency with evacuations, schools closed, etc. 


    The smoke will be arriving down here in Philly tomorrow, and we have been advised to limit outdoor activity.


    Who can ever predict Nature?



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  2. I have stated several times about the reality of travel and the challenges one may encounter, but obviously some prefer to stay mired in misery. 


    The wild and "poor-me" complaints on this thread make me laugh. 


    If you cannot "do tenders" so you are upset that you miss a port, too bad.  If you do not like the on-board entertainment, then read a book!


    If you saved up all your money to cruise but decided to go when it was cheaper but the weather was more risky because you did not research enough about the destination, too bad. If you think advertising is always true, take some classes in marketing.


    Nobody really cares about your personal issues and your poor decision-making.  We are here to share cruise expertise and make recommendations for more enjoyable experiences.


    Nothing in life is guaranteed.  However, whenever possible I am always planning my next cruise (no matter how many ports I missed on the last one.)!

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  3. I am willing to book a cruise one to two years in advance, but the last time I booked air as soon as it was available (almost a year out with miles), by the time the trip was about three or four months out the air had changed SO significantly (non-stop to connections, bad layovers), that I ended up canceling it and just paid cash.


    On my recent Viking river cruise (late March), we were scheduled from PHL to FRA to MUC, then BUD to FRA to PHL on Lufthansa roundtrip.  Well, about two months before departure, Lufthansa decided they were going to reduce some routes, and our return was one of them!  So we were put on Swissair  from BUD to ZRH, then sent to YYZ  (Toronto) on Air Canada, then returned to PHL from YYZ  also via AC. A much longer and more hectic travel day than what I had originally anticipated months out.


    Cruising in a few months from Rome to Athens, and I decided to splurge on the nonstops and NOT use miles because some of the mile amounts are outrageous for high season, and I don't want my luggage to go missing.  We are doing both pre-and post-city stays.  I actually booked this cruise almost three years ago, but we were all kicked off months in advance of departure two years ago, as the cruise underwent a whole ship charter! 


    Occasionally we will drive up to Newark to fly, but we also have to add in the parking cost, so the cost must be significantly better than PHL.  BTW, I happen to LOVE Spain, so I would never be able just to transit through--I would want to stay for a few days or a week at least!

  4. I had some GREAT offers for Europe cruises in August a few weeks ago, but the airfare is not a bargain.  Also, those cruises are port intensive, so a large excursion budget is required.  So I passed, reluctantly.

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  5. I visited Iceland the first time back in 1974, and I have gone again, and again, most recently this past November just to see the northern lights. 


    I have never been there on a cruise, because Iceland never WAS a big cruise port destination in previous decades, and knowing the changeable weather conditions, I would never even think of sailing there except in mid-June to mid-September, similar to Alaska. 


    People have to research their destinations and know when it is best to travel based on weather, or they have to be able to put up with risk.  Look at the Viking Sky Norway incident in March, 2019 (400+ passengers evacuated by helicopter!), or the Viking Polaris (rogue wave kills and injures) in the Antarctic just last year.


    Yet even if you prepare, sometimes freak accidents happen, like the Carnival Freedom fire in Grand Turk last year, or the Cunard Queen Mary cancelled transatlantic cruises just this month. In fact, the only cruise line I refused to cruise on was Costa after the captain tipped the Concordia over in 2012 because he was sailing too close to the shore (showing off.).


    I am SO looking forward to my Princess cruise leaving from Rome in a few weeks--there is no place I enjoy cruising more than the Greek islands.


    No cruise and no vacation is 100% safe or without risk. You can dwell on it and make yourself miserable, or just rise above it and plan the next trip.  I always say, "travel is an adventure!" 

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  6. Ahhh well, I say this again and again, if you want to act as your own travel agent, then take responsibility for what you do.  Trying to save money or make last-minute changes can often backfire if you do not understand how processes work. Yes, if you cannot be bothered to check on your reservation for months or even years, then you probably need a travel agent.


    How funny that you are embarrassed because you have inside cabins.  Just going on a cruise to Europe is a wonderful and special experience, and quite costly, so others should be happy that at least you are joining them. I doubt the children will care if they have a balcony or not.


    In our fifty years of cruising we have been in inside cabins many times and slept quite well!


    This is NOT a RC issue, as yes, Carnival and everyone else would probably charge more for those that change their reservations.  Hopefully you have learned a lesson, and will try to relax a bit and look forward to the cruise instead of lamenting that you are entitled to some type of refund.


    Bon voyage!

  7. 2 hours ago, lackcreativity said:



    I feel like such a cranky old lady when keep mentioning this, but I still can't forget the woman in her bathrobe and pj's seated in the World Cafe on our one post Covid cruise. That makes the "jeans in the Dining Room" debate such a non-issue! I can't help but believe that a well-trained, experienced staff member would have prevented that from happening. 



    I think overall cruisers are much more demanding, fussy, particular, and willing to flout convention.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, because lots of experience does allow for more knowledge, but it illustrates the struggles and clashes between those that prefer the traditional manners which everyone upheld, and those that want a more modern free-for-all approach. 


    Yes, on my recent Viking river cruise a gentleman (?) came down to breakfast in his pajamas--it was really a bit disgusting as the bottoms were just hanging around him--but at no time did I think to put responsibility on the crew to address this issue.  I believe that nowadays ship crew (on many cruise lines) are overwhelmed trying to do their duties, keep people happy, and cope with all the new challenges post-Covid.


    Should crew ever be rude to passengers?--absolutely not!  But do passengers do things that make crew frustrated and stressed?--all the time!  And naturally there are many passengers who may disgust other passengers. Examples for me: smoking, getting drunk, wearing pajamas at breakfast  (although I do not mind when children and teenagers do that), being overly loud and aggressive, etc.


    Has Viking gotten too big? Probably not yet, but they may have created expectations that were too high, by offering too much of a personalized, service-oriented response at the beginning for now which they no longer have the person-power, time, funds, or training ability.  None of this will stop me from sailing on them--my main complaints are having to pay so far in advance, and not being able to choose my shore excursions immediately. 


    But in the scheme of life, for me usually any cruise is better than no cruise!

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  8. I do not cruise solo, but DH is a scuba diver, so he goes off on his own in Nassau and I go by myself. 

    For me, Nassau was one of my favorite stops as it is quite busy and full of things to do.


    I have always thought of Nassau as quite safe.  I have gone around walking and shopping all over the main town, as well as taken quite a few tours by myself. Once my mother and I did the Atlantis tour and explored the whole complex.  If I were on a ship tour I would feel completely safe with the group and the guide!


    DH and I also booked the resort for a day at one of the local hotels and walked there.  


    I think everything suffered a bit due to Covid, but most places seem to be recovering.  


    I do know one crime increase was that tourists were being targeted for their gold jewelry (grab a necklace and run), but I am usually dressed very casual in the day while in Nassau.


    IMO Bermuda and Grand Cayman port areas are a bit safer than Nassau, but I am no longer as comfortable in Jamaica, and a few other places.

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  9. Clever marketing and innovative activities can work wonders.  There was a time when hardly anyone would travel to Iceland in the Winter--now with the push to see the Northern Lights and have an adventure, Iceland is booked non-stop.  The number of cruise ships going there is remarkable--even if, as just this past week on a Sky Princess cruise, the winds and waves prevented almost all port calls!


    Would I go on a Rhine cruise at an off-time?  Well, first comes Oktoberfest, then the festive Christkindlmarkts, and anymore people are 100% ready to celebrate the new year on a cruise.  But what about those Winter months when it is dark, gloomy, and cold?  It is rare that the Rhine freezes, so the ships would be operable, but what is the draw for the tourist?  


    I will add that my husband is a skier, so we always travel several times a year in the very cold, snowy weather, and the ski resorts have learned how to make themselves busy, cozy, popular and now quite costly oases of restaurants, shopping, bars and even nightclubs (après-ski). 


    I am sure some well-paid Viking public relations gurus can figure out how to make the off-season Rhine a go-to destination--maybe offer discounts for members of the European Union?  But we know Viking caters to many Americans, so there has to be more of a gimmick--singles' dating cruises?  Couples' vow renewal cruises?  The list is endless...

  10. I would agree that the medicine dosages are none of their business, but perhaps the wheelchair is a bit of a concern.  Those longships are mighty small, some of the aisles are narrow, and getting on and off the ship could be a challenge, especially if you are docked next to another ship and have to step over the sides.  A few times we had a rather long walk from the ship to the tour buses.


    I do not really think that a doctor's letter is necessary at all--how would the doctor know what kind of physical activity might be required on your cruise? Yes, maybe it is just to cover themselves for legal issues--I am assuming you have travel insurance.


    BTW, I took Jazzbeau's comments as quite clever, and 100% accurate.  Who cares where you booked the cruise from when you are in the middle of the ocean, or in a second world country having medical issues? (I would certainly have a preferred country choice for a hospital from my most recent Viking river cruise!)


    I hope you have a wonderful time and stay healthy!

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  11. 1 hour ago, FlyerTalker said:


    And that small backpack takes up the bin space that would otherwise be used for a full-sized carryon.


    So for your "hating to have anything by his feet", he helps to make some other passenger gate check their bag.


    Simple rule to follow - full sized carryons in the bin.  And if you have a bag that fits under the seat in front of you, put it there.  Unless your needs are so much more important than others.





    We PAY for our large bags to be checked all the time--we are not cheapskates who try to bring over-sized carry-ons on board for free like so many of the low-budget travelers today. 


    If my husband wants to put his small backpack in the bin, it easily fits on top of some of the other things people try to cram in there.


    And NO, small bags in the overhead NEVER make people gate check their bags once on board--that is usually done well before boarding, as the agents look at what people are trying to justify bringing on board as supposed carry-ons.


    Sorry, your silly logic wins no arguments with me.  I have been flying since the 1960's, and nowadays people treat the planes likes local city buses:  eating, fighting, screaming, painting their fingernails, etc., etc. Almost gone are the days of civility--poor airline staff having to put up with all this nonsense.

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  12. Why must it be under the seat?  Husband always takes a small backpack on international flights (and yes, we backpacked all over Europe with the large, professional backpacks when we were much younger), but he hates to have anything by his feet, so he always puts it in the overhead compartment. I always have a small carry-on bag smaller than a duffel, and a large purse, and I keep my purse at my feet.


    We just flew Icelandair in November, and they are VERY strict about sizes, and we were on Lufthansa and Swiss Air in March, with some smaller planes for connecting flights, so almost nothing at your feet. Heading to Rome in a few months on United, returning on AA from Athens, and we will have the same luggage with us again.

  13. I always say if you want to be your own travel agent, then you better take that responsibility to ACT as a TA.  That means checking everything all the time!!


    If you asked me for a $150.00 pp charge I would have to tell them to fire you, or tell the agency to swallow the cost due to the agent's (you)  incompetence.


    Doing low-budget flights can always be a risk, so one has to pay extra attention to arrangements and check and double-check!


    P.S. The word is WAIVE, not wave

  14. A few caveats based on experience--even if you score very low mileage seats far in advance, by the time the actual travel date comes closer, the flights may have changed and morphed so much (non-stop into multiple connections, changed times), that you will simply cancel them, and then buy better flights with cash.


    Also, be wary of connections within a foreign country--if one of the partner flights is cancelled or changed, you could potentially be stranded in that country as no other FF seats or flights may be available or affordable last minute (then you just have to buy a connecting flight on a completely different airline with cash and say, thank goodness for travel insurance that will reimburse that unexpected flight cost, and glad I have an extra credit card with unused credit.).

  15. I am a United FF, among other airlines, and I have always found them pretty good at accommodating my flight needs.


    However, I agree that booking through a third party is a big NO-NO--I am even uncomfortable booking my flights through Viking and Princess, which I have done this year for international travel.


    Right now international flights are at a premium--the airlines are selling well, and have no need to lower prices, or overly assist passengers, as so many are eager to fly.


    My goal is to ALWAYS fly direct, non-stop whenever possible, to avoid issues.  Yes, it may cost a bit more, but the convenience, faster travel time, and more limited chance of lost luggage reduces a lot of headaches.  I also make sure I have seat assignments on every flight, as it is harder to be removed from a flight once seats are confirmed.


    I will say I checked my flight reservations DAILY when Viking booked them, as I kept getting kicked out of my Lufthansa preassigned seat--definitely a system glitch problem on Viking's end, as I went into all the airline history, etc., and found they only prepaid for one assigned seat.  


    Because I am a FF, and I have airline accounts, I automatically check and double check all my reservations on the airline websites along with the cruise line flight info.  


    I am also flying to Italy in a few months to catch my Princess cruise out of Rome, and I am keeping my fingers crossed all goes well, although we are traveling four days early and three days post-cruise to build in a nice cushion.


    Hope you get this resolved, but things could be much, much worse.  I do have to say I somewhat dislike Frankfurt airport, but the old central part of Frankfurt is wonderful to visit!

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  16. So sorry on all these missed ports in beautiful and wild Iceland.


    There is a reason that cruise lines have low and high seasons.


    Ideal weather conditions are sometimes life and death critical in places like Iceland, the Baltic, Iceland, Alaska, the Antarctic, and so forth.  Yet the demand and the cost savings have been pushing cruise lines to offer trips during the more risky times of year.


    Nowadays even European River cruises are more or less year round--the travelers who miss their stops due to low water levels complain just as much.


    For myself, I am willing to budget to try to travel as much as possible during ideal weather conditions--which is not foolproof, but has more or less served me well.


    Poor captain.  He has to put safety first, but disgruntled passengers will make for a miserable experience. 


    I hope the cruise food and entertainment were enjoyable--there are some people who cruise without ever getting off at any port!

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  17. I am not sure why folks think that one cruise line is the perfect "fit," and will provide everything they think they want/need.


    I will say, having cruised fifty years on more than ten different cruise lines, that desires vary based on the moment. (BTW, I do not really care about all my status levels, as there are only so many free cocktails one can drink at one captain's party, and I rarely drink alcohol.)


    When I travel with my energetic nieces and nephews, then a child-friendly line like RC or NCL is perfect.  When husband and I want an interesting itinerary and a more sophisticated yet still big ship cruise experience, we veer toward Princess, Celebrity, and Holland America.  In our younger days we would jump on a Carnival cruise just to have some sea days in the sun.  We often love to "dress to impress," so for those cruises we just have to book Cunard and get out the tuxedo and ballgowns. We have found that Viking provides a consistent quality with a cordial ambience.


    I like the adults-only, small ship cruises, as the overall experience is, as they say, "country club casual," but we are still very active, and sometimes, we get a tiny bit bored after a few days if the ship is too small.


    I have 100% NEVER found a cruise ship dining experience as great as some of the wonderful land restaurants I have been to in my life and around the world, so I do not really rank cruise lines for dining.


    All I can say is it is amusing to read these threads comparing and contrasting cruise lines and trying to debate one over another--fifty years from now I hope all the lines are still going strong and our great-grandchildren still have the opportunity to cruise like we do(Maybe a cruise to the moon as well?). My only loyalty is to cruising.

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  18. I am NOT a casino player, and I have received a few offers from Carnival for those Europe cruises for less than $300.00.  OH, how I was tempted!  I even found RT airfare for $800.00 in August!!


    However, I am going to Italy on a Princess cruise in July that I booked two years ago, and the price has not gone down at all, so all my focus has been on finalizing (and paying for) all the details of that trip.


    Europe cruises usually require a lot of sometimes pricey shore excursions, so that is always another challenge.  Just this month I have also received a lot of great Holland America Europe offers.


    I am thinking that maybe next Summer I will just wait until the last minute to see if I can get the same great bargains they are offering this year.

  19. What a sweet and wonderful surprise! My siblings and I also bought my parents a surprise cruise for their 25th wedding anniversary, and it was something they never forgot.  Yes, we also bought them the cheapest cabin category, because any cruise, even in a small cabin, is better than no cruise at all! 


    Are you going to film the surprise announcement or take photos?  I will always remember my father's shocked but happy face. In those days people did not take photos like they do now. Your parents will be so excited, so please help them check off their to-do list.  That means packing a bit differently from a camping trip, so mom might want to try on some outfits for you.  I definitely agree they need a few professional photos taken onboard.  Some OBC is always nice, but it is great that you have prepaid the gratuities and purchased the protection plan. Everything else they buy is just a nice "extra."  They will have a relaxing and romantic getaway.


    Yes, you might have to wait a bit longer to get the car or go on a trip with friends, but life goes quickly, and making special family memories is precious. I will keep my fingers crossed that a family cruise will be on the radar in a few years. Your parents should be very proud that they raised such great children.

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  20. Many cruise reviewers (including Cruise Critic) think the only true remaining luxury cruise experience is Cunard Queen's Grill.  It most closely represents the traditional turn-of-the-century full-service ocean voyage.  Of course, tuxedos, ballgowns, and ballroom dancing are also part of the evening events, which many modern cruisers dislike.


    When I sail on Cunard I go mainly for the on-board experience--when I sail on any other line itinerary dominates my choice.  Viking offers a great product, but I agree it does not meet my definition of true luxury.  I also think the standardization across V. ships is a bit dull, but we are travelers who prefer to stay in castles and historic hotels when we travel on land. High quality reliability is great, but unique and gorgeous is much more memorable. 

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  21. Expectations and experiences differ among travelers.  I have a great L.A. Viking agent, one of the nicest cruise agents I have ever encountered, and I have been cruising fifty years on many, many lines. Yes, he is half my age, and not half as well traveled as I am, but he is very cordial.  But then again, I find almost all of my cruise agents to be nice, some more knowledgeable than others, of course.


    But I am also a low-demand customer--maybe because I know so much about cruising that I do not need a lot of assistance, nor have a lot of requirements. I am also very detail-oriented, and read all terms and conditions and study all the information far in advance. These days I can book almost everything online and avoid most human contact.


    I would never expect that Viking customer service would be 100% better than Carnival customer service.  Cruise line agents are not very well paid, some only work part-time, some work on commission, many work from home with barking dogs in the background, most do not know how to deal or address complicated situations, as they are just front-line. 


    I am actually surprised at the level of personalization Viking attempts, given the thousands and thousands of passengers that cruise on them these days. For me, travel is always an adventure, and if everything turns out perfectly, I consider myself lucky. 


    I am sorry that your recent experience did not go well, but I am not sure other pastures are really greener.  Best wishes for all your future cruises!

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  22. My ongoing advice is if you are going to act as your own travel agent, then you better be able to manage your cruise as well as a travel agent.  That means check on your reservation regularly, know and keep track of all dates, be prompt with payments, and ensure all information in your record is accurate and updated. There is no need for "reminder" emails if you have all the information at your fingertips. 

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