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Everything posted by fshagan

  1. My father didn't speak German. He talked about a nice German woman (about his mother's age) who gave the men hot water for shaving. There was a lot of pantomime and English and German words passed back and forth. My dad figured out "wasser" was pretty close to "water" but thought the nice woman was saying "ice water" (perhaps she was saying heißes Wasser?) She finally just made some hot water and gave it to them. He said the Germans were easier to understand than the Brits (he could never understand their accent). To be fair to our Brit cousins, they couldn't understand his mid-western, Missouri accent either. When I asked him how they got past that "language" barrier, he said they got a Canadian to help. That seems too on the nose to be true, but he swore it was. He identified with the old saying that "The Americans and the British are two people separated by a common language". My father in law also talked about an Austrian or German woman the men called "mamma" that was nice to them. He could understand German (his grandparents spoke only German), and even say a few words.
  2. Thanks for the guidance, and reassurance. Having someone local really does help. Both our fathers were infantry men on the front lines. Most of the stories told to us were about the people, and the beauty of the countryside. They had similar stories, but didn't talk much about fighting battles or things like that. I only know about the path they took into Germany from my research, done after they both were gone. We often visit museums when abroad, so thanks very much for that link to the Peace Museum.
  3. This is a potentially sensitive topic, and I want to be sensitive to the people we are visiting. Both my wife and I had fathers who were infantrymen in WWII, and part of the reason for the trip is to see the areas our fathers talked about. One is Remagen, and the crossing by allied troops there. We are intending to be discreet about it and not mention the stories. We will be on Viva cruises that have very few Americans (60/40 German to UK, Australian, etc. passengers). How discreet should we be in seeking out sites?
  4. Disney shows the all-in price, for two people in a cabin, including taxes and port fees. None of that "per person, double occupancy" scam stuff.
  5. Thanks for the link to the German website. Google Chrome is able to translate it so I have a better idea of the resources it covers.
  6. About 49 million Americans self identify as fully German or have partial German ancestry, making Germans the largest self-reported ancestry group in the USA. But I think that's actually a low estimate because many don't identify as German. The first and second world wars suppressed a lot of the enthusiasm for our American parents and grandparents to claim German heritage, so a lot of Americans are surprised when they do genealogy. The most common mistake is that they are Dutch or English, based on where ships departed ... but the largest single migration in the 1700s was from the Palatinate. Even Jamestown in the 1600s had German immigrants along with the English. Thanks for those tips! A quick search showed only the Astor biography in English, but I'll keep an eye out for other English translations. We plan to do a land-based "roots trip" vacation in the future to see some of the places where we believe our ancestors originated.
  7. No, we're Americans. We found Viva and a few other lines we had not heard of before on YouTube. One YouTube creator we follow moved to Germany a few years back, and he went on Viva's Tiara and liked it. We decided we wanted to go on either the Viva One or Viva Two. We decided on the cruise dates based on when we could get good business class fares. We also looked at others, like Nicko but decided Viva was probably a better fit. Like most Americans, we have German ancestors and we've always wanted to visit. This will give us a taste of Germany for later visits (I hope) and allow us to meet people from Europe on-board instead of just our fellow Americans and Canadians.
  8. We booked a Basel to Amsterdam cruise on Viva Cruises on the Viva One starting 17 Sep. It's our first river cruise so we are really looking forward to it! Hoping the water levels stay good all summer until then.
  9. The $2,000 coverage is for the non-refundable fare costs, basically the fare price. Your port fees and taxes, prepaid gratuities / service charges, etc. will be refunded by NCL if you cancel regardless of why you cancel. Look at your NCL price breakdown ... we find about half of our payment to NCL is refundable (we pre-pay the onboard service charges). Take a look at the non-refundable costs and you can then determine if you need additional insurance. Also, it may be cheaper to contact Allianz and see if they can provide a rider with more than $2000 coverage. Also, Medicare Supplemental Plans C, D, F, G, M, & N cover 80% of emergency care costs in foreign countries, with a lifetime maximum of $50,000 for my Plan G. It is a reimbursement type plan, and doesn't cover things like repatriation of remains, medical evacuation, etc. We always buy travel medical even though we have that coverage. But it's good to know that coverage exists.
  10. Would it be comparable to missing cruising in Glacier Bay on an Alaskan cruise then?
  11. While inconvenient, this isn't as huge a deal in Hawai'i. Americans don't need a passport and inter-island flights are inexpensive. You still don't want to miss the boat, but it's not nearly as bad as it would be in a foreign country.
  12. I actually couldn't remember so I did a quick Google search. In my mind, a dime bag usually got you about an eighth or 3.5 grams, but Google said one gram. But I may have been confused by the other measurement we used, a "lid" (the amount that would fill the lid of a Prince Albert tobacco tin).
  13. Good lord! That's a lot of cannabis! I'm trying to remember, but when "dealing" was set at more than an ounce, the cops told us (my big brothers anyway) that if you can hold all the loose weed in two hands cupped together that would weigh about an ounce. 158 pounds would be 2,528 ounces.
  14. 100 "bags"? What kind of a measurement is that? They are supposed to quote a weight in kilos, and tell us how much the street value is which is always a LOT more than what you would pay. At least, that's what my older brothers told me. "Dime bags" are the closest I can think of, but I don't think anyone has used that measurement since the 1970s. My older brothers told me they only contained about a gram or so and you could roll a joint with it but not much more, they said. 100 "dime bags" would be about 100 grams, about 3.5 ounces. That is still a lot for two people according to my older brothers. Over the "personal use" limit the old laws had (my older brothers said this too). I mean, that just what my older brothers said.
  15. If you're talking about cash tips they are extra and not put in the tip pool, and NCL allows their employees to receive cash tips. They are not penalized for getting cash tips. This response has a former NCL engineer explain exactly how the service charge money is given to employees through their paycheck. Not the percentage of the money or amounts given to each position, but how paying or not paying the DSC (or OSC) can affect the crew. But that applies to the service fee and not any cash tips you hand out. I'm linking this to try and be helpful. I believe the poster because I had a job with almost this exact, per-pay period adjustment to wages based on certain company indicators. NCL could easily do this with DSC / OSC.
  16. Yes, it was common in the late 60s and through the 70s and 80s when I was traveling for work. I still tip housekeeping most of the time, especially on a multi-day stay.
  17. That sounds about right. Our first cruise was on Disney in 2000 and they had the envelope system. You had recommended amounts per day per position tipped. I don't recall how many envelopes, but I recall the dining staff having four or five envelopes. Then you had two envelopes for the cabin stewards. So you had at least six envelopes for six different people. The assistant cabin steward envelope had a recommended tip of .50 per person per day .... so, .50 x 2 x 7 .... and you put the $7 in that envelope. Then you went to next envelope, and it was 1.50 pppd, so 1.50 x 2 x 7, and you put $21 in that envelope. Repeat for each remaining envelope. (These amounts are just for illustration; I can't recall the actual amounts). We started with NCL in 2010 so the DSC was in place then. And I thought it was absolutely brilliant. No more envelopes! Everyone must be estatic!
  18. That is all you need to do. There is no need or expectation to tip anything extra.
  19. I researched this before the pandemic when I was still in the tax game, so it may have changed by now. But American employees on cruise ships have withholding on their paychecks and have to file their tax return every year. Same as most working people in this country. The United States taxes all income earned world-wide. It's based on your "tax home", not the location where you earn it. Some other countries only tax income earned within their borders. This tax scheme is based on where you earn, not where your "tax home" is. I believe the UK and the Philippines are two of the countries that don't tax income earned outside of their countries.
  20. You can stop worrying and do like most of us do - pay the DSC and enjoy your cruise! The DSC takes care of all the people you need to worry about if you are just a regular cruiser. Bar bills, spa bills, etc automatically add the tip at the time of purchase. NCL says in their FAQ that the suite concierge, suite butler, and youth program staff are not part of the tip pool, so you would tip them separately if you use them.
  21. Sorry you had such a bad experience, and on what many would consider a true "bucket list" cruise! On that type of cruise, where the ports are everything, the short port times and bungled tendering would be the most frustrating to me. NCL has some ridiculously short port times on some itineraries, and there's no excuse for the horrible time tendering.
  22. No, we haven't experienced improved service for the higher daily service charge. But we haven't seen the problems reported frequently on forums for all the lines we follow. So we've been lucky. That being said, I don't care how they divide up the fare price. I compare cruises often and sometimes NCL is cheaper overall when you calculate the total cost. And that's what I focus on when choosing a cruise, regardless of the line. If it will cost me $5,000 total to go on a 7 day cruise with a line that has $12 service charges, but NCL has a similar cruise that will cost me $4,500 with their $20 service charge, then I choose NCL. If port fees and taxes are lower on another line, but the overall total cost is cheaper on NCL, then I will choose NCL. I don't even think of what the service charges, port fees and taxes are; I look at the total price. (Price is just one of my criteria, and I don't always go on the cheapest cruise - but I never consider how the total price is composed. I simply don't care.)
  23. It's the same water, but the water at the buffet is carbon filtered. That removes the chlorine taste. NCL uses chlorine to sanitize the water just like many municipalities. My town does not, and uses a "less stinky" sanitation method. I can taste the chlorine in the tap water. Water from the buffet tastes pretty good. You can also let the water from the tap "sit out" for a few hours and let the chlorine degrade naturally. (I still like the carbon filtered water from the buffet better than this solution).
  24. Because of earlier issues with the anytime style dining on the Infinity before the pandemic, we were hesitant to try Celebrity again. But we just took a cruise on the Apex, sister ship to the Edge, last month and we were pleasantly surprised. We never had to wait longer than 5 minutes to be seated, no matter when we went to dinner. That was typically around 8 after the first show, but twice we went earlier with the same fast service. The four dining rooms are close to each other; two on one deck and two right below. You can peak over the rail of the nice staircase leading down the lower two to see if they have a line. We just picked the one with the smallest line (and once or twice 3 of them didn't have any lines).
  25. Rates are higher for tourists too. My daughter lived in Ireland and when we visited, and planned to stay a few nights in Kilkenny, her "local" price was about half what I was quoted as an American just minutes before.
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