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Posts posted by terry&mike

  1. I just returned from taking a group of 29 clients on a Diamond Princess Southeast Asia & Japan cruise. Below is information from a web site I set up for the group, to provide them with information. Now that the trip is over, I wanted to pass this information along, in case it is of help to other travelers. 



    Visas: the ship will acquire a visa for you and charge your stateroom account $56 pp.

    Money: US Dollars widely accepted, please bring smaller bills.

    Average Temperatures in January: 66-77 degrees.

    Arrival: the ship will be docking in Chan May, approximately 1.5 hours from Da Nang or Hoi An.

    Seeing the Sites: the most interesting sites are in the charming town of Hoi An, or in vibrant Da Nang. There are many tour operators here who can put together special interest tours for you, the ship has several tours available to book, you can go it on your own, or join my small group tour below.

    Tour Option:

    Similar to my plan in Ho Chi Minh City, this is another port where I have planned a small group tour to make the best use of my time, due to the distance from where the ship is docked to the interesting sites. As in HCMC, I will again be using Xuan Le (pronounced Soon), for a full day tour that will begin with pickup at the dock, touring in Hoi An and Da Nang, and return to the dock at the end of the day. The highlight of this tour will be the ancient town of HoiAn, we can also visit Marble Mountain to see its brilliant caves and statues OR take a basket boat ride, as well as other interesting stops such as China Beach. 

  2. I just returned from taking a group of 29 clients on a Diamond Princess Southeast Asia & Japan cruise. Below is information from a web site I set up for the group, to provide them with information. Now that the trip is over, I wanted to pass this information along, in case it is of help to other travelers. 


    Visa: The ship will acquire a visa for you and charge your stateroom account $56 pp.

    Money: US Dollars widely accepted, please bring small bills.

    Average Temperatures in January: 70-81 degrees.

    Special Notes: Bargaining in acceptable and common. Beware of purse snatchers on scooters and pick pockets, especially in crowded places.

    Arrival: We will dock at Cau Da Port Pier. Just outside the port gates several vendors are set up offering a good place to buy souvenirs. There is also a small Oceanographic Museum near the dock. Take a taxi (make sure they use the meter) approximately 4 miles to beach area, or approximately 7 miles to city; ship may offer a shuttle service.

    (We were able to negotiate for a group of 6 to be taken from the port to the beach for $10 total, and then later from the beach back to the port with a different driver for $5 total.)

    Seeing the sites: Nha Trang is a popular seaside town. Visit the palm lined sea front with white sand beaches, small shops and food stalls and stroll around. Make your way to Cho Dam Market, the city's main market, a large 3 story building packed with food, housewares, and souvenir vendors. Po-Nagar, an ancient tower in Cham Towers temple, is nearby, just north by the river mouth. A great map is here: Nha Trang Map

    (A great seaside town. We took a walk on the boardwalk, had a fabulous lunch, enjoyed a few glasses of rose’ wine, and had very inexpensive spa treatments in one of the many places along the main beach road.)

    Or book a tour through the cruise line, or through a local tour operator. Feel free to ask others in the group to join you to help share tour costs.


  3. I just returned from taking a group of 29 clients on a Diamond Princess Southeast Asia & Japan cruise. Below is information from a web site I set up for the group, to provide them with information. Now that the trip is over, I wanted to pass this information along, in case it is of help to other travelers. 


    Visas: Visa needed for US citizens in Vietnam. Princess Cruises will handle this for you once on board for $56 per person; it appears you will no longer need to bring a passport size photo for each traveler.

    Money: U.S. Dollars widely accepted, please bring smaller bills. Tipping is a growing custom here, with about 10% being appreciated.

    Average Temperatures in January: 72-89 degrees.

    Arrival: The ship is actually docked in Phu My, approximately 1.5 hours from Ho Chi Minh City.

    Seeing the sights: You can make your way from Phu My to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) via a taxi at the port, or the cruise line will probably have a round trip shuttle option, or by purchasing a tour from the cruise line or from a local tour company. There are some public transportation options, including one by speedboat, but they are very time consuming and not as reliable, you'll want to ensure you do not miss returning to the ship in time.

    Tour Option:

    This is one of the few ports where I have organized a small group tour, given the distance of the port to the sights in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), for efficient use of time. I have paid a deposit and reserved Xuan Le, a highly rated and popular guide, for the day. He will pick us up at the port, give us a tour of several sights in HCMC including temples, markets, historic buildings, places of interest, and arrange a tri-shaw ride. He will return us to the port at the end of the day.

  4. I just returned from taking a group of 29 clients on a Diamond Princess Southeast Asia & Japan cruise. Below is information from a web site I set up for the group, to provide them with information. Now that the trip is over, I wanted to pass this information along, in case it is of help to other travelers. 


    Visa: No visa needed for US citizens.

    Money: Singapore Dollar SGD and credit cards accepted. Tipping is not usual practice.

    Average Temperatures in January: 77-86 degrees.

    Special Notes: No eating or drinking (including water) on public transport; no chewing gum.

    Arrival: There are several ways to get into the city from Changi Airport, including taxi, airport shuttle bus, MRT rail, and regular bus, they are all explained in detail here Airport Transfers. Given you may be tired from travel and dealing with luggage, a taxi may be your simplest option, running approximately $20-$40 usd (although USD not accepted) depending on time of day and destination; taxis in Singapore are metered and honest.

    Hotels: I am booked at the Pan Pacific Singapore. For an airport hotel, I can personally recommend the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

    Seeing the sites: you may want to use the "Visit Singapore Travel Guide" or "Citymapper" app to plan your time. If you like paper maps, Lonely Planet Singapore City Map is a good one and includes suggested walking routes. There is a popular Hop On/Hop Off bus in Singapore, and there are many organized tours for many different interests. Good sites for locating tour options are Tripadvisor, Tours by Locals, Viator, etc.

    For a great food tour to sample street food from several vendors, hire William from withlocals.com Personable and interesting.

    I plan to "DIY" here and see the city on foot, with the addition of an occasional subway ride. I have put together some walking routes below, and you are welcome to follow them on your own.

    Sun., 1/5, Day 1 Walk, approximately 4 miles, walk from hotel over Helix Bridge, to Gardens by the Bay (just walk around outside part for free, or do OCBC Skywalk for approx. $7, maybe visit Heritage Garden or Cooled Conservatories), view Marina Sands Hotel (possibly visit Shoppes here for free, or can go up to Skypark for about $17 usd, buying tickets in advance is better), view Merlion, past Fullerton Hotel, over Cavenaugh Bridge (oldest bridge), to Boat Quay, then to Yueh Hai Ching Temple. Can consider adding in Chinatown and Buddha Tooth Relic Temple if up to it.

    6:30p or after go to Lau Pa Sat/Telok Ayer Market to eat, order chicken rice, chicken & pork satay, “carrot cake” (carrot & radish dish), bring own napkins. View amazing light show at 7:45p & 8:45p from Supertree Grove. The view from the Lantern Bar on the roof of the Fullerton Bay Hotel is fabulous.

    Mon., 1/6, Day 2 Walk, approximately 3 miles, walk past Raffles Hotel, through Kampong Glam/Arab Street area, through Little India, and to Orchard Road area to window shop (maybe visit ION Orchard underground).

    Board Diamond Princess, between noon and 2p, sails at 4p; official Check In start time is scheduled for 12:30p. Should be docked at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, 61 Marina Coastal Dr., 5 minutes from downtown, access via metro or approx $19 usd taxi ride. Possibly ship could be moved to Singapore Cruise Center at Harbourfront Centre. Public transportation available to both piers, but taxi may be simplest.


  5. I wanted to post in regards to the driver/guide in Bali, Dewa - he is fantastic! I used him for a full day tour from Seminyak to the interior on January 2, and some clients of mine used him for a similar day tour a few days before me, and all of us were delighted. Dewa is a joy to spend the day with and he really enjoys showing you the best of Bali.  He is on WhatsApp at +6285238493089 and I believe his web site is https://dewadriverinbali.blogspot.com/  

    Highly recommend booking him well in advance. 

  6. 10 minutes ago, MissP22 said:

    We've been buying emergency evacuation per cruise from our TA & have often considered an annual policy like you mentioned. What are you paying per year for that coverage for 2 people?

    Also- Is the year based on when you start the policy or from Jan 1st to Dec 31st?

    We are paying $200 per year per couple for the Essential plan, you can get the upgraded plan, called Choice, with more coverage for $370 per year per couple. The rate may be age dependent though, so costs could differ. It does not go by calendar year, but by when you start the coverage. 

  7. We have an annual policy, it is a multi trip policy by Geoblue Trekker. Keep in mind that we are only interested in medical care or emergency evacuation.  If you are interested in covering trip loss expenses, then this is not for you. I don't buy insurance for things that I can afford to lose, but more things that can put a significant ding in my finances.  

  8. Some of the small luxury lines, such as Ponant, will use charters on occasion to more remote places, such as from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, or from Svalbard to Oslo, but major carrier cruise ships in the premium category line do not use charter flights any longer.

    I was not aware of the LAX to Tahiti flight last year with HAL. This reminds me of sailing Renaissance in Tahiti, before they went belly up several years ago, they had great deals on charter flights they ran between LAX and Papeete. I loved that service. 

  9. 12 hours ago, MoniMommy said:

    I purchased gold by the inch (royal Caribbean). We were told it was real gold. It made us break out. I spent les than 20 bucks for the 2 "gold" braclets. So I wasn't out much and really what could I expect. We are going on a Norwegian cruise, can I assume all of the "real gold" by the inch sold on cruise lines is fake?

    If you spend less than $20 for 2 gold bracelets, then yes, definitely, it is not true solid gold. I've never heard them tell anyone that gold overlay products they sell by the inch are solid 14k (or 18K, or whatever) on a ship. They are always very honest. They are selling a gold product, it is a gold overlay product.

  10. 14 hours ago, steelers36 said:

    Yes, but BA will not allow seat selection until ticketed (I phoned them last night about it).  This is true even with Premium Economy which I booked.  I booked the flight with AA (BA operating) and AA doesn't allow either - I believe because BA is restricting it.  With Prem Econ, I won't have to pay, but I would be willing to pay just to have the seat before ticketing.  Not much I can do. 


    Today was the first day I could book the actual return date we want.  AC/SQ prices are up today for some reason (probably cuz it's Monday).  I will keep checking.  I'd like to get all flights with seat selection.  AC doesn't normally allow this as they too charge for seat selection, but when booking Prem Econ with EZ-Air, the seat map is available to select from - prior to ticketing.


    Even once your flights are ticketed, I find that BA generally charges for seat selection, even in Business class. If you flight is an AA number but operated by BA, usually same case. 

  11. If you bought something, and the item was sold as non-refundable, it does not matter if you didn't take possession of it then, if it was not sized yet, if it had not been delivered yet. If you bought something that was non-refundable, you are not due a refund. The item is yours. Best to find a way to enjoy it.

  12. I had a client make a 10:35a out of FCO after disembarking a few months ago. They did self disembark, had limited luggage so they could move quickly, and had a car and driver arranged. They made the flight, but said they had little room to spare as the airport ate up a lot of their time standing in lines. They said the stress that morning was high and they probably would not attempt it again. 

  13. 31 minutes ago, waterbug123 said:


    In this situation, there is little to no need to tie your reservations together, since they are for completely different legs of trip.  And doing so doesn't really combine them into one; it simply means the agent puts a comment in the notes screen to indicate that you have another Delta ticket for your return, but no other agent would know that unless that happened to look at that screen.

    Two additional options are to do the entire trip as one reservation using a combination of miles and cash.  That's generally not the best redemption rate for miles, but if you want it all on one reservation it's an option.  To do this, you search for an award ticket, but at the payment option, look for the "miles + cash" option.  It lets you reduce the miles needed by using some cash.

    The other way to do it is if you have a Delta branded Amex card.  If so, do. search for a non-miles ticket, and at the payment option you'll see the opportunity for "Pay with miles" which means you can use some miles to reduce the cash cost of your ticket.

    Again, these options are not generally the best redemption rate for miles, and there's no particular need to have the outbound and return legs of your trip on the same reservation, but if you want to for some reason you could do it this way. 

    I think you misunderstood my post. I meant to buy a ticket for passenger 1 with miles for the entire route, from home to destination and return. And buy a ticket for passenger 2 with cash for the same thing. Then have them tied together. The reason to tie them together would be that if there were schedule changes on the route that required re-routing or other significant changes, then both passengers would be given the same new itinerary.

    Sorry if I wasn't clear. 

    She said she didn't have enough miles from home to destination, round trip for 2 passengers, but had enough miles from JFK to destination round trip for 2 passengers. Most likely this means she has enough miles from home to destination round trip for 1 passenger, and could purchase the ticket for passenger 2 with money. 

    Just an option for consideration.

  14. 4 minutes ago, Bo1953 said:

    t - Thank you for this, I was not aware of the progression in terms of river cruises.


    bon voyage

    Yes, the next day's port is Kinderdijk for Viking sailing from Amsterdam (Rhine Getaway, or Grand European), which is less than a 2 hour train journey from Amsterdam. Or if they were on one of the Tulip cruises, it stays docked in Amsterdam for day 2. 


    I only mention it as I had a client in the Fall headed to meet a river cruise, and they were delayed from New Orleans due to a bad storm. This was going to cause them to miss their connection for the international flight, so they decided to head home from the airport and called me to find out when they could reschedule their river cruise for another sailing as they didn't want to "have to spend the night in Houston" and miss a day of their trip. 

    After some back and forth with the cruise line, the airlines, and the clients, they were placed on flights the next morning and arrived a day late into the next stop on the itinerary, very close by.  They received compensation from their insurance company for travel delays. I think they would have been denied had they continued with their idea to scrap the entire journey. 

  15. I don't know the circumstances for your travel in regards to the storm and delays making you miss your connection, but in the case of a river cruise, generally guests continue to make their way on towards Europe and meet at the next stop. If it was Viking and your starting port was Amsterdam, your next port is just a short train ride away.

    I wonder if this has anything to do with the deny of claim, in that you chose to return home and file a loss for the entire trip, rather than continue on and arrive a day later, and file a loss for a partial claim. 

  16. One thing you may want to consider is that you use your miles to buy one ticket from your home all the way through on Delta, and you use cash to buy the other ticket from your home all the way through, on Delta, same itinerary. Then you have Delta tie the 2 reservations together. This way, you don't have to worry if a flight delay causes you to miss your connection, as it falls to Delta to get you to your final destination. 

  17. We are sailing Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles on the Pacific Princess in April, a segment of the world cruise. We have a port side balcony cabin, forward located. Very much looking forward to it. I visited Panama independently on a land trip in 2018 and visited the locks and the very good museum in Panama City, and really enjoyed it. 

  18. 18 hours ago, bmar808 said:

    I am sending your recs to them in a text right now! They may not listen to me so I'm hoping maybe they'll listen to others but even if they don't, I can say I at least provided the information. 

    I'm already hearing about my lack of compromise, which includes not only our flights but even the cruise excursions. 


    I have decided that we are doing what all the wise people here have suggested and booking what fits for husband & kids.  Thank you a million for your thoughts and input on the various aspects!!

    Hello, this is the downside of trying to put something together for a group. I feel your pain, and am sorry for it. I take a group, usually 12-26 people, on a trip somewhere at least once or twice a year. In 2020 it is a 3 week trip across Southeast Asia for 29 in January, and a land and river cruise in Portugal for 18 in October. It started out being a very small group of just our friends, and has grown to include some clients as well.

    Long ago, I found the best way to handle it is to book exactly what I want, and once I have myself booked, then I send out an email to the group to see if anyone would like to join us. I let them know our plans as to the booking, the air, possible excursions, etc, and make sure to put a note that they are welcome to join us on anything they like, or go their own way at any point, that it is their vacation, and to enjoy. 

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