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mking8288

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About mking8288

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    "Big Apple" NY
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    Travel
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, CCL, RCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Bermuda/Caribbean
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    https://www.dropbox.com/s/5nup7xtw3ell4g0/CruiseCritic%20Abstract%20-%20mking8288%20-%2011.2018A.doc

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  1. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Jean ... it was near HKIA but not too close, it was at Tung Chung (where there is the MTR Station, CityGate Outlet Mall w. the Novotel Hotel, and the NgongPing 360, cable car to the Giant/Big Budda ... Monastery. MTR Station(s) was vandalized and the local Police Station at TC was hit by multiple IED (petrol firebombed) to attempt to harass & set it on fire, etc. - I am not getting into graphic details, as it is not helpful ... folks are getting a generalized picture, go to your mainstream news media for the reporting. This morning, 3 of the MTR Stations including Tung Chung, remained closed due to damages - no services; and, limited/diverted train services on the East Light Rail & West Light Rail Line (outside Kowloon - serving N.T.) ... more changes affecting some of the bus routes/lines. Latest "live" overview: Tuesday morning, 9 am local time, HK - rail/subway line services being disrupted due to sabotage ... folks are be late going places. HK Airport/Lantau - for the time being, I am too concerned about getting to/from the airport and KTCT (Ocean Terminal is used mainly for smaller ships these days) with the ongoing "events" - especially during the day. Airport security & police are having success with access control lately, for now. There are plenty of taxis (metered fare + airport/bridge toll) these days and drivers will most definitely be helpful to go out their way to get you safely to/from your destinations ... make sure addresses are written/printed in Chinese with phone #, as not all of them are fluent in English [use the Google Translate, free app (iOS & Android) is great in off-line mode for the basics ... traditional Chinese or Cantonese, not Mandarin dialect when in HK] Perhaps, a bit of reassurance for those feeling uncomfortable ... please, try not to. There're some hope expressed that these "incidents" will ease by mid December, ahead of the holidays ... next month's cruise ship calendar is rather busy with multiple ships scheduled to visit HK - keeping eyes on posting my two cents and nickel's worth for thoughts. Macau/ferry - for those considering/making plans to take the fast ferry to/from Macau - there are more frequent ferries on HK island vs. those at the Kowloon piers, we've taken both - just a matter of which one is closer & more convenient and easiest to get to. The most you will have to wait is 30 to 60 minutes for the next available one, for a 1 hour hi-speed crossing. Buy the ferry tickets once you are inside the terminal (DIY kiosk or ticket windows) & check the posted schedule - easy, English spoken ... credit cards accepted. If you are carrying "excess" luggage over the free allowance, it's just a matter of paying an extra fee when ticketing. For those flying out of HKIA, airline check-in, ticketing/BP and luggage transfer - including ferry services from both Macau piers - are available and easy - see this link: https://www.hongkongairport.com/en/transport/mainland-connection/airline-check-in-at-prd-and-macao.page
  2. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    As FYI to provide multiple soures, link & info for all to plan and consider contingencies, especially those with very, near-term plans to be in HK ... while in transit, port visit, pre- and/or post-cruise. Flyertalk's Asia Forum on HK/Macau has multiple threads to read & stay current, there are "boots" on the ground in the trenches - some of the discussions are rather "emotional" & personal, as one can be expect. I don't post there often (different screen name / userid ...) - there are useful info & facts from multiple contributors, just exercise discretion of what is appropriate and perhaps not. What started out early this morning, local time in HK has been ongoing, all day & into - now - late night; and, calls to escalate higher/further tomorrow (Tuesday) - not a pretty picture. I am saddened, truly, watching these live streams with DW. Please travel & visit wisely and be smart, be very careful about where & how you are using digital devices with cameras & videos while in HK. https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hong-kong-macau/1974998-impacts-demonstrations-travel-47.html https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hong-kong-macau-436/
  3. Those over-stuffed 22" rollerboards and spinners will fit just fine thru most port's scanner for safety inspection as carry-on, they are generously sized. Unlike airport security screening, there are no gate dragons, I mean ... airline agents or contractors, with the "sizers" to see if a bag is compliant. Don't worry about being over 50 lbs. or 22.7 kg (44 lbs / 20 kg) - porters and/or security certainly not using scales to check. We sometimes use a Kirkand Signature 22" expandable rollerboard (by Costco) that can weight as much as 55 to 60 lbs. depending on content & it fit thru those x-ray scanners just fine, flown with it as carry-on on JetBlue for years (actually, size-wise closer to 23") Whatever you've read or seen, they are suggested or recommended guidelines and not strictly enforced. Just keep in mind, not all NCL ships have facilties to store your bags onboard if the staterooms are not ready and it's not fun to pull or haul them around into elevators and inside the buffet, etc. ... after going up the gangway's incline up to the ship's deck.
  4. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Sunday evening (10:27 pm local time in HK now) while it's 9:27 am EDT here in the Americas ... mass transit virtually shut down (scheduled MTR closing was 10 pm) and incidents everywhere. Monday, Nov. 11 - there is a call for a "Triple Strike" to paralyze HK entirely, to shut down the whole region. While it is safe to roam and walk carefuly by choosing wisely ... is this how one wish to sightsee on a visit - a place that some of us has not been to, a place that I have fond memories of and ... I dunno. We've been to places like Mexico with the military on armed patrol with AR-15's and other countries walking past cops with MP5's, not to mention being 10 city blocks from Ground Zero until the afternoon of 9/11 when it was time & safe to get out ... and gone back to Zone 3 a week later, to resume. Never Forget ! Enough comments over the 24 hours, more on this tonight/tomorrow - perhaps - as I am going to attend to some Roll Call matters on an upcoming cruise. For now, another snapshot of what's going on over in HK ... HK Int'l Airport is on the lower left of the map, Tung Chung is just east of HKIA, Macau and the Sea Bridge gateway is to the west of the Airport - all relatively safe & good.
  5. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    @SF (and others) Big Budda/NP 360 (cable car) is easily accessed from Tung Chung, one of the regular MTR station line stop serving Lantau - it's a 10 to 15 minutes bus/taxi or hotel shuttle to/from the airport. Novatel is part of the multi-story shopping/outlet mall, next to the MTR staion - an easy walk - served also by multiple bus lines to Kowloon (and HK island & N.T.) From these hotels, should conditions warrant - the best/easiest & direct way to get to/from the cruise terminal is by taxi - it will travel mostly on elevated highway and/or roadways, above city streets toward Kowloon Bay for KTCT ... metered taxi fare w. bridge toll and tips (10% will be very nice, as locals mainly leave "loose" change only) should run about/under $50 USD (payable in local currency or HKD ... not all of them take credit card, supposed to.) Typical taxi is good for 3 adults + 3 large pc. of luggage, bungee corded safely in the trunk + space for hand/carry-on luggage. From these hotels, hop over to Tung Chung's NP 360 for a cable car ride up to the Big Budda ... from there, buses will take you back to Tung Chung; or, head south to Tai O Fishing Village for the afternoon/evening dinner of fresh seafood. Or, simply plan for a 3/4 or full day at Tai O to explore if religion isn't a must to see those temple ... the bus trip from Tai O back to Tung Chung is about 1 hour, maybe a bit more - very scenic & nice, you get to see the rural, countryside w. cows roaming the roadways or in fields nearby. Another day or 3/4 day easily at DisneyLand and/or day trip to Macau. Other ideas - which I haven't look at lately ... to do small island hoppings ... Lamma Island is a favorite among expatriate living and/or working/retired to HK, taking up residency there - it's quiet and very safe. But, one has to get back to Central on the island to connect/switch to ferry services (fast & regular/slower ones) with frequent services. Same for the small but equally tranquil, scenic Cheung Chau island - near "Mui Wo" on the Lantau's NE, not far from Tung Chung - served by bus services. These are largely unchanged from decades ago when I first set foot upon them and remained explored by most travelers & visitors making a quick one thru HK ... perhaps, time to give it a push ... Meanwhile, here's 2 YT video link about how to get to Macau from HK ... both offer a scenic glimpse on this sea bridge link for this "Bay" region linking 3 different administrative zones ... there are numerous videos, just check them at your own pace a) from Tung Chung CityGate - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whYBITIHTpU b) from Mong Kok/Kowloon by taking the A21 Airporter Bus route - it is luggage friendly as long as yours isn't a jumbo 29" one, limited luggage racks on the lower level of the Double Decker (it's our favorite route to/from HKIA - inexpensive) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INMsssFuNV4
  6. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    @SF, @MightyQuin, @ryndam, @intr3pid ... and others Thanks & I hope you are finding these helpful and informative ... to help making smarter decisions and choices. NOT the kind of post and/or update that I like nor enjoy sharing, I hate and dislike doing this, knowing how this is affecting fellow CC'er vested plans to tour, cruise & see Asia, including HK in the near future. But I would not feel right nor sleep tightly knowing that what I am seeing, and to give fair warnings to be on the alert out of an abundance of precaution. Here's a graphical snapshot of hotspots all over HK about 10 hours ago ( 10 p.m. local time) on a live map ... not just the popular tourist area or along Nathan Road or Central/Wan Chai/Causeway Bay. More "gatherings" later today (Sunday) - a couple of hours from now. Lantau Island, where HKIA is located, is relatively safe, protected & guarded by airport security & local police, for now. For those thinking of rather not go to Macau for whatever reasons, there are 3 hotels near the airport - Regal AP, SkyCity Marriott and Novotel CityGate at Tung Chung - for consideration on where to stay ... in addition to the hotel at Disneyland at Sunny Bay. Their rates aren't going to be that much lower than usual and occupancy level - staying high. Go explore HK's scenic & beautiful countryside, NP 360 and the Big Budda, and Tai O Fishing Village on SW coast of Lantau at a leisurely pace, maybe a day at Disneyland (deals & specials are offered/coming ... to promote tourism & visits) If you stay at one of the Lantau hotels for 2 or 3 days before flying home or pre-cruise, a day trip via the Sea Bridge's bus services - should be easy to go to Macau & back - not to see the casinos or gamble, as good as seeing HK. BTW, aside from major dept. stores, shops, businesses & restaurants closing early - expect to see and plan for the waves of closing in the coming weeks and months, resulting from ... always check & reconfirm their business hours & closing time. Holiday celebrations & events are likely scaled back for obvious reasons.
  7. It's looks fine, still afloat in the calm Adriatic Sea doing 18 knots, 313 degrees heading.
  8. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    This weekend - visitors currently in HK should remain on high alert. On "their" sites - there's a call to target 17 different key shopping malls across the city from 3 p.m. local time, onward (key objectives: to disrupt & force stores, shops & restaurants and nearby businesses to pull down their security gates, fences & close up for the day) ... HK has 18 "districts" divided for geo-politcal-administrative purposes. While up to 3 million residents are said to be supporting these "movements" - what about the other 5 million residents ? Well, suffice to say - many would probably & possibly be doing some kind of "shelter in place" & stay put mode. In my "Incidents Command" or NICS days on the team with first responders - it would be considered a form of proactive or protective lock-down. Not very nice, IMHO. Go to Youtube & search using keywords - you should see live streaming news from assorted "channels" on the latest ... just a few hours from now ... it's mostly non-English and some of it graphic, please exercise care if you choose to watch. Protests, demonstrations, riots & other forms of public gatherings are not unique to H.K nor new to the rest of the world - please decide for yourself what is and is not, use critical thinking & choose wisely. Saturday evening, a large scale gathering will be held at Tamar Park, near/close to the Admiralty MTR Station - between Central & Wan Chai on the island side, starting at 6 p.m. There is a "possible" in/direct link with another event in Causeway Bay, near "SOGO" - a major department store/shopping centre in the afternoon. More things being called for next Monday ... about "Double Eleven" Again, safe travel & happy cruising ... (I trust that the cruiselines are doing their own due diligence for ships scheduled to be in H.K. in the coming weeks ... especially around the winter holidays)
  9. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    @SF - on our last 2 trip to/from Macau & HK, we used the fast hydro/turbojet ferries, since we're traveling light, our long-haul luggage in Kowloon both times (checked with the hotel, as we're returning) so it was easy ... with the next ferry leaving every 30 minutes (hourly services by 2 ferry operators, alternating from different piers/berths within the same terminal building w. on-the-spot ticketing windows & self-service kiosks). The Zhuhai Sea-Bridge wasn't completed then, and even now, it is new and said to be under-utilized means for visitors ... my main concern is transfer & handling of luggage, as clearing border control/custom - all passengers are responsible for taking their belonings & pieces of luggage thru the checkpoints themselves (although, I am sure they have luggage carts & other means of helping "mature" travelers in need of special assistance) I looked it up just now - here are some info, shoud be useful to see whether this is something you wanted to look into, explore & perhaps consider ... depending on events in the coming weeks. Costs via these dedicated bus or motorcoach services look very reasonable & inexpensive. https://thehkshopper.com/transportation/travelling-via-the-hk-zhuhai-macau-bridge https://www.nextstophongkong.com/travel-to-macau-via-hong-kong-zhuhai-macau-bridge/ https://www.onebus.hk/en/ Private transportation via 7 passengers van or sedan, apparently, available and can be pre-arranged & booked. This is probably a good option, all things consider, although very limited info written - I haven't look at TripAdvisor site to see or Flyertalk forum ... As for the question of what to see & do in Macau, besides all the casino & hotels on the new strip, you will feel like being in Las Vegas ... seriously, very impressed when we're there a few years ago then - even more so these days. One doesn't have to gamble, just visit & see, eat & be a tourist. Then, there are all the World Heritage sites, landmarks & historic places to see, many are easily walkable from one to the next ... the ruins of the Catholic Church (I believe that's what it's called, or something similar) along with the historic fortress/hilltop views, all part of its Portuguese colonial history. There is more than enough to see on a full day, without checking out the casino & all their places to see what to eat (world class cuisine from everywhere) - easily take 2 days. Plus, there are day trips via motorcoach into mainland China (without requiring a visa, I believe, as long as one is booked & using a licensed, approved travel agency/operator.) https://www.macaotourism.gov.mo/en/ Above is the official Macau gov't tourism site ... of course, go use CC's other site: TripAdvisor to take a good look.
  10. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    @SF - instead of changing your flights, you might want to look into spending time Macau after disembarkation. In addition to the hydrofoil fast ferry services between HK & Macau, there are now inter-city buses that do that via the newly opened (and under-utilized) sea-land-tunnel bridge that connect via Lantau Island via mainland China to Macau. I have not look at the logistics & how it work but it is doable. Ferry is convenient but not designed for visitors with lots of heavy luggage. SCMP is the local English-language source (also, Hong Kong Standard, another news daily) for the latest news & analysis, far more in-depth & neutral enough in being fair and balanced with reporting from different angles - to stay on top on matters. I am trying my best to not set off alarms for fellow CC'ers - still feeling upset to do this - and it is sad to watch & follow, a place that has a special place in our hearts, for many reasons. @MightyQuinn- great question and in short, thus far, that route has not been targeted nor successfully endangered (for lack of a better term) by the elements. It is safe for now. There is another call to jam & disrupt the airport on December 1st. (expiration of the current court injunction, I believe ...) Airside at HKIA, it is well guarded & protected, and armed HKP with MP5's are known to & seen patrolling - very little chance of being breached by these acts of civic disobedience. Lantau Island, where HKIA is situated, including Tung Chung MTR Station (NP 360 ... the giant Budda) and the Tsing Yi Island with the Tsing Ma Bridge connecting to N.T. & Kowloon (with the AE running) are easier for cops or riot police to guard, patrol and protect - and, road blocks has been set to screen public buses heading out to HKIA. Hence, the SkyPier to Macau connection is good for your April trip ... perhaps, you want to share your strategy & plans with "SF" above in case they want to have a Plan C ... Doing a sideline check (it's now Saturday morning, 13 hours ahead of EDT there) - HK Police has a high visibility presence on Tsing Yi Island - probably safeguarding possible attempts to disrupt air travelers go to/from the airport by all possible means. The next 2 months, probably will define the outlook for the first half of 2020, depending on how the HK-SAR government handles the unrest. What is going on now is far worst than the 1967 riot in H.K. then - and the British Army based there locally were called out, mobilized & patrolling city streets alongside with the local police. I hope & pray not. Next month, I've noted a Celebrity ship will be visiting ... for a longer stay in HK, plus the Westerdam will be back - will stay current with the "pulse" for folks here ... Just not liking what I am seeing in real time, raw & unedited - streaming live earlier as it unfolded. Be safe, be smart & happy cruising and travel.
  11. mking8288

    Is Hong Kong safe?

    Alert: Folks that might already be in HK for today's (Saturday) Westerdam sailing / turnaround, etc. - please exercise caution when going about while in town at HK, both island-side & Kowloon, etc. Airport Express services shut down early on Friday, multiple key MTR subway stations closed early, due to large scale public "events" - full & normal services this weekend in question. Please use & check the free MTR Mobile App, previously linked & if staying at a local hotel - tune to local news & ask the front desk before going out or making plans. Taxi is probably the best way to go, allow extra time to get anywhere this weekend - EXPECT riots/protests & demonstrations, etc. across the city. Riot police were out, Friday evening & continued patrolling the streets well past midnight, dispersing crowds - Nathan Road's MTR Stations (Mong Kok, Prince Edward & Yau Ma Tei) along with Causeway Bay were targeted. Saturday & Sunday, expect escalations across the public transport system (which frequently are close to/near MTR Stations) ... plus, other hotspots are not far from stations (along that MTR line) serving the nearby Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. MTR services scheduled to end no later than 10 pm, sooner as warranted and Airport Express being maintained between HK Station (island side) & the Airport (Lantau island only), bypassing & skipping Kowloon & Ching Ye. The Costa ship is calling @ Kat Tak C.T. overnight at HK later this month and special attention is advised, as it is on the day of local election.
  12. @p5woody - As a general rule for Specialty Dining, allow 90 minutes for a typical 4 to 5 course meal, especially at peak time ... you can do it - usually - in less time by telling your server to rush it, that you need to be out of there by a certain time. Plus, add 10 to 15 minutes to get to the theater for the show, doors open 30 minutes prior & seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis; as the reservation is only a "guarantee" that a seat is available & you won't end up waiting as standby to get in. Hence, I would book dinner for 5:30 pm - allowing 90 minutes (be done by 6:45 to 7 pm with 15 minutes to spare, make a restroom pit-stop, and sometimes do that long walk to the theater - go inside & find better seats, as those tend to fill up 10 - 15 minutes before curtains up.
  13. As far as noises coming from the elevator banks, it should NOT be a problem, you are 3+ doors away from the hallway openning ... and those aren't sheetrock insulation/partition walls - it does a good job of deflecting normal noises & conversation. Loudy & inconsiderate fellow cruisers can be anywhere on a ship's deck & location, especially if they happened to loiter and stand outside in the hallway, near your stateroom. P.S. Furthermore, the bed inside the stateroom isn't right next to the entrance/doorway ... now, what about partying folks next door and/or honeymooners being neighbors #wink #wink - spending plenty of time in their cabin. Talk about being awaken in the middle of the night, LOL.
  14. Plan for, traffic permitting, 30 - 45 minutes ride from 12th Avenue/curbside pickup to LGA terminal. There is really no waiting/staging area for Uber/Lyft or any other car service (Dial 7 or Carmel, which we recommend & use) to park; or, you will be charge extra for waiting time if you insist upon, by specifying a pickup time (the driver/vehicle will likely wait curbside at a nearby side street - get called to come over & will still take 5 to 10 minutes to work thru local traffic to the pickup spot). There is a little bit of room but not much - way too many elements external to the cruise, beyond NCL and/or even control of port. I am going to side with others that the best way to beat the clock is pack & travel light, do laundry on the ship and walk off the ship yourself, as a a seasoned NCL'er (from your profile) *** see one of our many disembarkation stories for NYC. Also, mega/+ ships tend to face more challenges maneuvering into the pier from the Hudson River due to strong currents & tidal changes, plus Bliss & ship captain probably new to docking in NYC. We came back on a nearly identical itinerary this January on the Escape - and, the ship was back from Cozomel super early (3 full sea days) & docked early, very - folks expected to walk off the ship by 7:15 to 7:30 a.m. Well, CBP had to greenlight & the ship wasn't cleared for various reasons. Express Walkoff off to a late start for self-assist with luggage. Even with Priorities, we waited in a lounge & didn't get called until 8:35 a.m. to skip ahead to exit. More backup off the gangway - near those double set of doors into the building for the "down" escalators to luggage. We hailed a porter to take our 3 bags to breeze thru CBP - out on 12th Avenue - 30 minutes for this stretch. Lines were short for waiting taxi, (didn't have to cross the wide street) got into ours around 9:20'ish - curbside dropped at our house just before 10 a.m. (past LGA airport) ... You might have less than 90 minutes to do TSA security, check-in & get to your airline's gate; whereas, the "official LGA airport advisory" is to allow extra time and plan to arrive at least 2 hours prior to departure time. Facial recognition now used by CBP at MCT is making the disembarkation faster & easier, according to others - and, there are post-cruise reports from others that they made it out quickly ... sitting inside the airport at 9:30 or 10 a.m. with time to spare. It's your choice to change the odds to your advantage.
  15. I see, fees-based values-added services, for our convenience, of course. Moving the goal posts for going "above and beyond" for those how we might voucher for the overworked "vacation heros".
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