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About shorefolks

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    Jersey Shore
  1. After quoting your experience to my TA, she suggested I call NCL myself. (I had held off calling because I was hoping she could get a more reliable answer.) I did call them and was quickly told that arrival time was 8:00 a.m. I replied with the history of the situation and was then put on hold. After some time, the agent came back and said it was 6:00 p.m. after all. Is that true? Who knows? By the way, our last scheduled cruise on NCL was cancelled after we had purchased the airfare. Somebody please tell me why I should have any confidence in this company.
  2. I've quoted your posting to my TA who today received an answer of 8:00 a.m. from NCL. At this point, I don't believe anybody and will probably cancel before final payment next month.
  3. Boarding in Singapore recently, we had three bottles for the two of us. There was no table set up yet, but the security agent (not a HAL employee) said we had to leave the third bottle for later delivery to our cabin. Although highly doubtful we would ever see it again, I had no choice. Two days into the cruise, we still did not have the wine. I inquired with Guest Services, and they apologized. The bottle was delivered later that day, and our account was charged for the corkage. This is the only port where I have encountered that procedure.
  4. This trip was a particular disappointment birding-wise. Air quality was abysmal throughout and even a Vietnamese tour guide said "There are no birds in Vietnam." Never before have I had a cruise of this length where port stops yielded not a single gull or tern. To make it worse, increasing severe bronchitis kept us from going ashore on two different days. Some birds of interest: Singapore: Common & crested myna, house crow Koh Samui: Little egret, Oriental turtle dove, Spotted dove, Striated heron, Black-naped oriole, Pacific swallow, White-throated kingfisher, black kite Bangkok: Little egret, Oriental turtle dove, Asian house martin, Fork-tailed swift, Peaceful dove, Milky stork, Large-billed crow, White-vented myna Sihanoukville: Pacific reef egret Nha Trang: Pacific swallow Da Nang: Sooty-headed bulbul Ha Long Bay: Black kite Sanya: Black kite Hong Kong: Black kite From the rail: Absolutely nothing. Not a seabird, nor a whale, a porpoise, or even a jellyfish. The few black kites in the last several ports acted in place of the missing gulls, scavenging dead fish.
  5. Thanks. I've been birding for a lot of years and on islands for about 35, since our Caribbean honeymoon. Two bits of advice: (1) Hire a professional guide for a session. In one day they will teach you volumes; (2) Never, ever be in a new area without sufficient guidebooks. The frustration will kill you. Obviously, there will be times when cruising when we have to make tough decisions on how much weight to carry, but I have regretted it whenever I cut back. Good birding.
  6. Some birds of interest: Lisbon, Portugal: Black-headed gull, Yellow-legged gull, Harris's hawk (Saw this bird of the American Southwest perched on the terminal building opposite the ship. What at first looked like a snake in its talons resolved itself into leather jesses. I later learned that there are over 70 falconers in Lisbon. Obviously, this bird was a bad investment by one of them.) Cadiz & Donaña NP, Spain: Black-headed gull, Yellow-legged gull, Grey heron, Eur. spoonbill, White stork, Greater flamingo, Greylag goose, Pochard, White-headed duck, Short-toed eagle, Common buzzard, Eur. kestrel, Crane, Purple swamphen, Eur. coot, Black-winged stilt, Eur. avocet, Common sandpiper, Green sandpiper, Slender-billed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, Eur. kingfisher, Lesser short-toed lark, Crested lark, Crag martin, Meadow pipit, White wagtail, Zitting cisticola, Cetti's warbler, Sardinian warbler, Chiffchaff, Stonechat, Black redstart, Great tit, Chaffinch, Eur. goldfinch, Magpie At Sea: Great shearwater Lanzarote, Canary Islands: Common raven, Berthelot's pipit, Sandwich tern, Cory's shearwater Tenerife, Canary Islands: Chiffchaff, Common blackbird, Plain swift, Blue chaffinch, Atlantic canary Cape Verde: Berthelot's pipit, Purple heron, Cream-colored courser, Common ringed plover, Whimbrel, Common greenshank, Cape Verde Swift, Grey-headed kingfisher, Black-crowned sparrow-lark, Greater hoopoe-lark, Blackcap, Brown-necked raven, Spanish sparrow, Iago sparrow, Common waxbill At Sea: Red-footed booby (including white and brown forms, as well as the brown form with white tail that is common in waters nearing Brazil), Masked booby, Magnificent Frigatebird Recife: Cocoi heron, Blue-chinned sapphire, Common tody-flycatcher, Great kiskadee, Social flycatcher, Southern house-wren, Rufous-bellied thrush Salvador: Masked water-tyrant, Tropical kingbird, White-winged swallow, White-rumped swallow, Chalk-browed mockingbird, Brown booby Cabo Frio: Neotropical cormorant, Brown booby, Kelp gull, Magnificent frigatebird
  7. Some years ago we went in search of Lindbergh's grave and found it in a church cemetery a bit beyond Hana. We later realized that we had gone beyond the rental-car "forbidden" line. The next day, we decided to retrace our steps and continue around the island. While the gravel road was not at all bad (and we were in a sedan), part of the road was a one-lane path around blind curves and over the water. Even though there was a short barrier at the edge of the road, it was one of those experiences that are better to have behind you than ahead. In that the sights were not all that interesting, I would advise against going beyond Lindbergh's grave site.
  8. Just a moment ago, the HAL Documentation Department confirmed to me (for the third time) that a visa is not necessary for U.S. passport holders on that cruise unless they have a connecting flight in mainland China on the way home from Hong Kong. We will get an e-mail to that effect 90 days before sailing and then again in two more follow-up messages. The fellow also said that Guest Relations should not be issuing these advisories, whether true or false, but should transfer passengers to Documentation. Part of the confusion stems from China changing (loosening) the restriction as recently as May. Citizens of 59 countries, including the U.S., do not now need a visa for Hainan Island. Where a visa would be needed is where the passenger returning home has a connecting flight in a mainland China city.
  9. On our first cruise with O, we and two friends booked concierge balconies. We then took an upgrade to a PH and were instantly sorry. Yes, the extra space was nice, but the room was laid out all wrong. The table at the foot of the bed proved to be a menace during nighttime wanderings and was quickly moved to near the sliding glass door. Worse, though, was the couch placement. It was set back so that there was no good view to the water. On the outside end, there was a useless small window set too high for convenient viewing. If you enjoy the sight of the water, this will be very annoying. We have sailed several times since then with O and have happily gone with concierge balconies each time.
  10. A corollary to this is that what you find dockside may not be worth the money or risk. On a South Pacific cruise we thought we might take one of the dockside snorkel tours we were told would be available- until we saw what was there. One look at the under-maintained, over-filled boat killed that idea. When you have grown up around boats, you know better than to take that chance.
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