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John Bull

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About John Bull

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    10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Lee-on-the-Solent, England
  • Interests
    vintage & classic vehicles
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Voyages of Discovery
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Simple geometry tells us that In bad-tempered seas, mid-ships is much more stable than the extremities (the see-saw effect). But for reasons I've never been able to fathom-out, the stern is much more stable than the bow. No doubt the professionals will join this thread and explain - and I still won't understand Noise? Just because Carnival aren't currently releasing to two-somes cabins with extra berths doesn't mean that you'll end up with a three-some next door - they're simply keeping their options open. And I think I'm right in saying that they can't fill every berth, because that would be over-loading the ship (insufficient lifeboat places, etc). Those "too-many berths" simply give them greater flexibility if more families want inside cabins or more balcony cabins etc. To avoid noise it's best to check the deck-plans (easy to find on the web). A cabin sandwich (cabins above & below you) is almost-always quieter neighbours than a casino, dining room, kitchen, late-night bar, theatre, etc. And try to avoid being on the route to a bar or casino.. Be wary of a cabin under an open deck - the scraping of sun-loungers being dragged out, or the pounding feet of early-morning joggers. Or a cabin over or adjacent to machinery. Including the anchors, which can be a useful but noisy early-morning alarm clock But elevators - even on the other side of the wall behind your bed - tend not to be noisy with either machinery or passengers. At either end of the ship you'll be close to some amenities and a very long walk to others. Sometmes at the very stern there are stairs to other decks, very handy. But if not, it can be a long walk from your cabin to the dining room directly above or below you. On the information that you've given I say stick where you are. Just MHO as always JB
  2. Hi, and welcome to Cruise Critic, I'll second Jo's post. Under 6 weeks before sailing is pretty late to be booking a cruise. Late late booking of air tends to be expensive, whereas late late booking of cruises tends to be cheap. On long-haul destinations the two tend to balance each-other out, but there are usually great bargains in P&O and especially Marella fly-cruises direct to the Caribbean (no Florida airport, you fly direct to the Caribbean departure port, and no sea-days heading to the Caribbean). Because they use chartered aircraft there's no late-booking premium as is usual with scheduled flights, because only their passengers are on those flights. Lots of other advantages with fly/cruises too, like super-easy transfers, and the run of the ship on the last day until your (usually mid-afternoon) transfer is called for your return to the UK. Direct regional flights from the UK too, though that might not be an advantage with a late booking, because the flight from your nearest airport may be fully-booked. P&O and Marella ships may not be your cup-of-tea, but will certainly give you the best bang for your buck. And I think you'll be dismayed by prices on small ships, which tend to be luxury - and super-expensive. Added to that, the proportion of single cabins on cruise ships is low - so they sell-out early. And the single supplement is usually a doubling of the price - you pay the same price as two people for a double cabin -sometimes more, because that's one less passenger to spend money on drinks, casino, excursions, etc which is where cruise lines make their money. P & O's Azura and Ventura are both large (but have adults-only areas), a couple of their smaller (but still around 2,000 passengers) ships are adults-only. And Marella ships are mainly around 1500 - 2000 passengers, but Celebration and Spirit are smaller. A few Marella cruises are adults-only. Even on smaller ships and with lots of kids, you can find bars and decks and such with a bit of peace & quiet A glance around the web for Feb. sailings shows me Marella 8-nights Caribbean from under £1,000 and P&O 14-nights from around £1350. Those prices include air-fares and transfers but excluding single supplement. Also check out Fred Olsen and Cruise&Maritime, they too often offer direct fly-cruises though I don't know if they have anything in the Caribbean in Feb. Their ships are quite old but don't attract kids and are small and friendly. And inexpensive - especially compared to other small ships All those Brit ships sail the eastern Caribbean, which you (and I) prefer, and are port-intensive. Most US ships sail the west (I don't rate it) or south (some super ports) and with fewer ports / more sea-days. The Caribbean is popular with families, but avoid half-term week(s) (for US ships avoid "Spring Break") and there'll be very few kids. Term-time dates also tend to be cheaper. If your name is Bill Gates, ignore this post and Jo's post.. But if the cost is as important to you as it is for most folk, do consider those fly-cruises. And be prepared to be flexible on some of your criteria I suggest you phone and speak to a couple of cruise-specialist travel agents. We can't name agents on Cruise Critic, but just google something like "cruise agents UK" You'll get more out of a couple of phone calls than simply surfing the web. Good luck JB
  3. I'd be inclined to give them a bell Perhaps starting off with "I don't have access to a debit card. Where do send my cheque?" or "My travel insurance is provided by my credit card supplier". Or if you don't fancy that call and your bank account can stand the cost without that 5 to 8 weeks' credit, just pay by debit card - since you paid the deposit by credit card your full fares are covered as per the posts above. And since it's one of the major on-line cruise specialists, presumably you're safe because they're members of ABTA. Are they? JB
  4. Good chap. So pleased that you've repented, what. Awfully good show, old bean. Dunkirk Spirit and all that Brigadier Bull
  5. Does a whale count? Even if it turns out to be a submarine? Something that I'll never live down, and which prompted my partner to send me to Specsavers. JB
  6. For us it's not the time that's important with set ("traditional") dining. It's our table being there and waiting for us, the same table-mates & the same waiters. You actually get to know your table-mates, with none of the endless round of introductions and immediately-forgotten names that you get on "anytime" shared tables. We've often ended up exploring ashore with table-mates, and still correspond with some. "Same table mates" can backfire if they're not our type, but we've been lucky, and in any case if it doesn't work out you can ask the Maitre D' to change your table - that happens a fair bit after the first night. Clashing with entertainment is rare, since the production shows are twice-nightly to co-incide. Late sitting rather than early sitting. few kids or very elderly, and the staff don't need to rush us out to make way for the next sitting. But 5.00 pm ??????????? Helfire, we're often only just back on board from a port-of-call !!! "Anytime" has its pros & cons too. We're happy to share so haven't had a long wait, even at busy times. Yes, there's the lottery of who to share with. We learned a long time back to say "yes, if the speak English" when asked if we were prepared to share. And we'll slide away from the line to peruse the menu in fine detail, then join the line further back if we don't like the look of folk in line near us Fine if you want to meet lots of folk, tho it does come with that repetitive small-talk. And it's just the one night with any we don't gel with And on many occasions we've gelled so well with folk we've been thrown together with, that we've arranged to meet up before dinner on subsequent evenings & go to the dining room as a foursome / sixsome, etc. We did that on one Royal Caribbean cruise and ended up as a very convivial table of eight - same table, same waiters, same time each evening, just like a hand-picked group on traditional dining. JB ps Shame on you, Darren, you're a traitor to your country. . I believe that on sea-days, taking late-afternoon tea and cake is a requirement in P & O's terms & conditions .
  7. Hi Ray, Not suggesting that you're as dumb as me when using websites*, but are you sure the option wasn't there via a different icon on the page, or on a totally different page? Or can you phone the agent to check this out? JB *Actually I guess it's kinda obvious that I am
  8. The Overlord tour from Le Havre picks up from the pier at 8am, and according to the SNCF timetable the first train from Paris arrives Le Havre station at 8.54am. So even with a degree of latitude on Overlord's start time, the OP wouldn't make it from Paris that morning, and would need to overnight at the port. And that's where the tour from Bayeux, which meets the train from Paris that morning, has the advantage. The 06.57 from Paris Saint Lazare arrives Bayeux 09.17, and that Overland tour is scheduled for 09.30 from the station. And since it's specifically for folk on that train, if the train is late the van will wait. Plus, as you rightly say, Le Havre is remote from the D-Day beaches & sights - somewhere around an hour to an hour and a half travel time compared to just 10 - 15 minutes from Bayeux. The problem with the tour from Bayeux is that it ends in Bayeux at 6pm, waaaasy too late for the sailing time. So instead of a hotel in Le Havre before the tour, the OP would need a hotel in Bayeux after the tour. And yes, whereas the tour from Le Havre means travel time at the end of the last day in Paris, from Bayeux it would mean losing the whole of that day in Paris. Plus transportation from Bayeux to the ship, though as per my post that could incorporate further D-Day sights - perhaps a one-way car rental, or perhaps a car plus driver. Navigation, traffic & parking are pretty easy and there's plenty of annotation and staff at the sights. One potential snag - Overlord's website says that the 09.30 tour from Bayeux station only operates mondays thu frdays. Very much a case of personal preference cos there are pros & cons with both. But Overlord does book-out pretty quickly, so don't delay - or availability will make the choice for you. JB
  9. John Bull

    Vietnam visa

    Fees have varied, so even the cost to a passenger visiting today doesn't mean it'll be the same when you go. But RCI's fee has consistently been under $10, so if you're wondering whether to fix your own tourist visa it'll probably cost more. Best to allow RCI to do the honours. The one fee covers all Vietnamese ports. But unlike a tourist visa it's only good for arriving & departing on the ship - and I'm fairly sure that it's no good if you choose to spend a night in a hotel ashore. It's a flat fee, makes no odds whether you go ashore independently or on a ship's tour. Which makes me wonder about your comment re Celebrity ships Are you sure about that? Same circumstances? JB
  10. How strange, never come across that before. I'd be interested to know the name of that TA. Since naming TAs on Cruise Critic is a no-no, perhaps you could at least say whether it's a UK agency and whether it's a well-known one or perhaps a small local one. And are they members of ABTA or IATA (which have compensation schemes) ? Under UK law they definitely can't charge for using a card. But I don't think there's anything illegal about declining to accept payment by card If they accept card for a deposit, it's beyond my ken whether they have the right to then decline the balance by card without that being declared before they accept the deposit. It's time to dig out a powerful magnifying-glass and go thro' the small-print For the security of your money, Mic's law down-under seems to be the same as in the UK. I don't know the minimum payment by credit card (somewhere around £100) but if a proportion of a purchase is by credit card then the card issuer is liable to compensate for the entire purchase if things go belly-up. There are terms - for instance it must all be for the actual purchase, not a subsequent add-on. Details widely available on the web. We've booked a safari in Tanzania direct with a (well-reviewed operator). We leave in a couple of weeks time whoopee . Everyone in Tanzania charges anywhere between 3% and 6% for paying with plastic - that's debit cards as well as credit cards. That was made clear by the safari operator from the outset, long before any payment. So we paid the deposit by credit card, and the bulk by bank transfer. Before fixing the bank transfer we double-checked with our card issuer and Visa, and both confirmed that we were covered. It saved us about £150 in card fees, altho the bank transfer cost a £20 fee. JB
  11. Ahh, yes, just found that post. Memories play tricks, mixing-up places & prices & such, especially for those who travel a lot. And methinks on-the-web has been on too may cruises. Take it from me, that $59 was for a simple direct transfer from ship to Heathrow. Or the clerk handling their booking was looking at the wrong list when charging. JB
  12. Admission to Stonehenge (included in the transfer) accounts for about $25 of the $80 difference. Plus an extra 35 miles / 50 minutes travelling, and about 90 minutes waiting time at Stonehenge. International Friends' transfer via Stonehenge (only available in the opposite direction) costs about $122, not a lot less than Princess altho their price is from either central London (good value) or Heathrow (not such good value). Princess' direct transfer has been at $59 or thereabouts for a number of years - is it now due for an increase? And that $59 transfer has always been better value than other cruise lines - even some years ago, RCI's price was over $100. I've accused Princess of gouging elsewhere, but they've been very good value for their direct Heathrow transfers, and that perhaps exaggerates the price difference via Stonehenge. JB
  13. We DIY in appropriate places, fix up on the day where appropriate, fix up privately in advance where appropriate, and rarely a ship's tour when time is limited, or local transportation unreliable, or very occasionally when it's Hobson's Choice. But Cruise Critic members aren't a typical cross-section of cruisers - we're generally more weighted against ships' excursions than the average cruiser. JB .
  14. Hi Diane, Probably best to do what most folks do - using ship's tour, or private tour, or vans at the pier, start with a van tour of the Upper Rock reserve. The standard tour, which lasts about 1hr 45 mins, takes you to an overlook at the southern end, at the Jewish monument, where you can see across the Straits to Morocco (photostop only). Then high on the Rock to St Michael's cave - about 20 minutes there. Those who don't want to go in the cave, or can't (steps & one part with poor headroom, but fine for those with tolerable mobility), can stay outside for the panoramic western views over the Bay of Algeciras & Atlantic. Then the upper Apes Den, near the summit. The road is narrow and with no parking area - your van joins the back of the line and you walk up the line of up to a dozen vehicles to the den. The apes roam freely, they're not aggressive but they are a bunch of thieves so watch your hats, cameras, snacks, etc. Again great westerly views, and climb a dozen steps at the den for easterly views over the Mediterranean - tho' sometimes this is obscured by clouds which roll up the vertical eastern face. You re-join your vehicle when it gets to the front of the line. 20 minutes is about average. Anyone unhappy to mix it with the apes can stay in the van and still see the apes - they climb over the vehicles (I wish I had the windshield wiper concession for Gibraltar ) Then on to the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels and dioramas (not to be confused with the WW2 tunnels) for about 20 minutes. Great northerly views from the top of the sheer northern face, looking down on the airport, the border, and the Spanish mainland. Then back down the Rock past the WW2 tunnels and the Moorish Castle to the town. Most folk choose to bail out at Casemates Square at the norther end of pedestrianised Main Street for the town's pubs, bars, cafes, shops, duty-frees, and minor sights like the Governor's House and the little Trafalgar Cemetery (those who died at Trafalgar were buried at sea, those who subsequently died of their injuries in Gib are buried here). For those who choose to bale out at Casemates Square, the walk back to the ship takes 20/25 minutes. Gib has been running this format for years, they've got it off to a tee and the time-scale suits the vast majority of visitors.. That's the standard tour, and it costs around £22/€25 per person, and includes all entrance fees. But since you are a group of 8 (the ideal number) it makes sense to pre-book a private tour. That will probably save you a few shillings, more importantly it keeps your group together as one unit and allows you to customise - for instance adding Levant Battery, or the WW2 Tunnels (allow 1 hour+), or the 100-ton gun, or a sea-level circumnavigation of the Rock at sea-level - Europa Point, the road tunnel under the water reservoirs and Caleta Bay on the eastern shore, & the Jewish cemetery & airport area (about 20-to 30 minutes). Just bear in mind that due to the steep and narrow roads & sharp bends on the Upper Rock there's limits how much you can customise that route . Check out this website http://www.gibraltartaxiassociation.com/ Or contact John Lopez of Gibraltar Rock Tours at info@gibraltar-rock-tours.com. There's the alternative of the cablecar to the summit. But there are difficulties..... - The lower cablecar station is a 35/45 minute walk or taxi from the cruise pier. - After about 9.30am, when the coachloads of day-trippers start to arrive from the resort towns of the Spanish Costa Del Sol and Costa de la Luz, there are often long lines for the cablecar. - The cablecar service is suspended (awful pun intended ) in moderately high winds - The summit is tolerably handy for the upper apes' den, but it's a bit of a hike to St Michael's Cave and a longer hike in the opposite direction to the Great Siege Tunnels - from which it's easier to walk down to the town rather than return to the top cablecar station. The cablecar suits those who enjoy walking and who want total freedom to do their own thing in their own time-scale. Whatever you fix up, do allow time at the end for folk to explore the town. JB
  15. John Bull

    Vietnam visa

    Hi, Anne, Whilst Clo's point that visa info should come from the country involved is correct, this is an easy one - and you've already figured it. As a Brit passport-holder you won't need a Vietnam visa for your cruise. Therefore Celebrity shouldn't - and probably won't - issue you with a ship's Vietnam visa (strictly-speaking it's actually a landing card) or charge you. If they do, simply stop by at the purser's office ("Guest Relations") with your passports and they'll remove the charge. Happy sailings JB
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