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John Bull

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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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2,642 profile views
  1. Yep, very disparaging about snowflakes & virtue-signallers. But it's got nothing to do with sovereignty. I've got my views & you've got yours, Harry. But I'm not gonna get drawn into a political debate on these pages. Happy sailings JB 🙂
  2. That's a news story that passed me by. The threat has been a minor news item, so the media clearly aren't taking it seriously at the moment. But it's national, not specifically Southampton, and the current driver-shortage grief is at Felixtowe - which would be the main target. TBH, we've got enough problems with driver shortages, protesters blocking motorways, Covid, vaccine conspiracy theorists, panic buyers, and snowflakes & virtue-signallers, and what we don't need is unions taking advantage.😡 There are currently no freight or container ships lying at anchorages off Southampton, nor is there any logjam at Southampton's container port. The container port has a separate port entrance so road transport unions will not be interested in cruise terminals or ships - and a large proportion of containers off-loaded at Southampton go straight onto trains in the port. US cruise ships - including the Queens - are replenished in the States, so they're not dependent on UK trucks. Can't totally reassure you about your cruise, but I doubt that road transport unions will affect it. 🙂 JB 🙂
  3. Definitely not within the Walled City, it's dead in the evenings. The Jewish city centre is known for its nightlife. JB 🙂
  4. It's not about Christmas, and it's not about UK ports. French fishermen (surpise, surprise 🙄) are threatening a blockade of FRENCH Channel ports like Boulogne, Calais, Dunkirk, mebbe Le Havre & Dieppe, and the French end of the Channel tunnel to disrupt Xmas supplies to the UK. And that might happen as early as the end of this week. It'll not affect cruise ships (but may mean re-jigging any cruises with planned port-of-call at Le Havre) nor supplies arriving by freighter. So enjoy your Cunard cruise - and spare a thought to the rest of us left behind & possibly turkey-less at Christmas 😏 JB 🙂
  5. Excellent self-drive road tour suggestion by Marazul. 🙂 I've mapped it out with the help of Mr Google - perhaps Marazul can check that I got it right. https://goo.gl/maps/bWhBVPNc7VQLc1Fh8 BTW, since Villefranche is a tender port, it's likely to take 90 minutes+ to disembark, and passengers will need to be back at the tender quay one hour before scheduled sailing. So a 9-hour stop will give you only 6 hours - and up to an hour less for wiggle-time if you stray out of Villefranche. But that route takes less than two hours, so plenty of time for stops & photo-opportunities, and a wander round unexciting but very attractive & laid-back Villefranche at the end. JB 🙂
  6. Depends which day-of-the-week - for travel from Southampton (note spelling) to LHR, saturdays & sundays are a dream year-round. On weekdays traffic is congested on the M3 - especially on a monday when weekly commuters return to London. By private transfer 90 minutes is plenty at the weekend, 2 hours would be the bare minimum that I'd allow on a weekday. Fixed rate for a pre-booked private transfer is £80 to £100 for a sedan (pre-pandemic). Ignore cruise lines' quoted "arrival times" of around 5 - 5.30am, they won't be able to disembark passengers before about 7am. For most ships, unassisted disembarkation starts around 7am and standard disembarkation in tranches from 7.30am to around 9 - 9.30am. If you are allocated a disembarkation time later than ideal you can ask at guest relations for an earlier disembarkation slot, citing your onward travel arrngements.- I've never heard of any request being refused. Disembarkation is usually pretty smooth at Southampton, normally a max of 30 minutes from gangway to terminal exit, and less for those disembarking early. So a pre-booked private transfer for 7.15am (unassisted disembarkation) or 7.45am for standard disembarkation. Every minute before 8am is usually worth two after 8am. So the earliest you can be at LHR is 9.30am on weekends, 10.15am weekdays. Don't pay too much attention to airport's recommendation to arrive 3 hrs 🙄 before flight time - they're allowing for folk misjudging travel time or getting lost en-route, and providing more business for shopping outlets that pay high airport rents . Two hours before flight time provides an excellent cushion, 90 minutes should be enough, 60 minutes is a very risky minimum. So a flight as early as 11.30 by private transfer if all your ducks are in line and the gods are on your side. For their transfer buses, cruise lines recommend flights from 12.30 or 1pm. The first buses leave the cruise terminal at about 8am. Each bus (except the last one) is allocated to a single airport terminal. There's no sensible rail option for So'ton to LHR - it involves train to central London & train or taxi or tube or bus back out from there, or train to an intermediate station (Woking or Reading) and a RailAir bus from there. Train + RailAir takes a minmimum of 2 hours, via central London takes forever. And whereas train is usually good value, it's not for that journey at that time of day. (But the train is an excellent option for flights out of LGW) On National Express' current coach (bus) timetable the earliest suitable bus would be 10.30am, gets to LHR at 12.15 and costs £15 pp. Pre-booking strongly advised). Southampton coach station is a 5 - 10 minute (£6 to £10) taxi ride from any cruise terminal & there's a taxi rank at the terminals. Sometimes there's a line for taxis but it moves quickly and won't foul up plans to catch the 10.30 bus. These timings allow a sensible margin for delays. They don't allow for extraordinary events (late ship arrival, motorway totally blocked by a big accident etc) - if you want to allow for all eventualities an extra couple of hours or even a couple of days might not be long enough 🙄 But if you have a choice of same-day flight times it's always best to book the latest one. JB 🙂
  7. Yep, I frequently suffer from the same dicotemy. And I usually say the hell with the grief. 🙃 Bournemouth airport to station is about 6 miles, 20 minutes. Much the same as Southampton airport to central station and the sort of distance where the savings from pre-booking vs taxi from the rank is quite marginal. I'll hazard a guess at £18 vs £22. Plus £3 airport charge for pick-up. Nat Express from station to So'ton coach station takes a very acceptable 50 minutes. It costs £6.50 pp, so for two the total cost would be in the order of £33. But frequency is approx every 3 hours. So I'd say the hell with the grief. Yes, little provincial airports like BOH and SOU are a dream compared to the zoos. We've flown from both - very laid-back, no long queues for everything, and treated like human-beings.. But arrivals at LHR and LGW aren't too bad. I reckon BOH and pre-booked taxi all the way Or LHR/LGW and public transport. But not my problem 😜 😏 JB 🙂
  8. Port Royal's £75 is on the high side, but "without any traffic congestion" suggests that's for a taxi from the rank. Better value pre-booked, but still around the £55+ mark. But £50 to £75 is good enough for a ball-park figure. Bus from airport to B'mouth rail station plus rail fare to So'ton is about £17 per person. And the 45 minutes for just the convoluted bus route from airport to station takes longer than an entire taxi ride from airport to Southampton 🙄 Yes, Southampton to LHR is about 2 hrs by Nat Express, or to LGW it's 2 hrs by train (no direct train service on Sundays, when Nat Express is a better option). Flight time from Faro is about 3 hours - travel to airport plus airport formalities can take just as long, so I don't see the extra hour-and-a-bit to fly from Gatwick as worth worrying about - and as you know there's far better frequency, and probably lower airfares. One add-on. A couple of weeks back we considered a short-notice break in the Algarve. There were direct flights (BA ?) from Southampton airport to Fare but the latest flights were in late Sept / early Oct. At a guess this is probably a seasonal route - it might be worth asking BA. JB 🙂
  9. First, do check your ship's hours in port - Cherbourg is only a half-day on many cruise itineraries. Bus services in Normandy are limited & infrequent, and of no use for visting the D-Day sights. Ditto trains. So you have four basic options: - Pre-book a ship's tour. I'd recommend this if your visit is only half-day - Pre-book an independent tour, either private or group tour (Overlord have been mentioned a number of times, they have an excellent reputation but there are other specialists). Guides are experts, and smaller groups than ships' tours mean you get more personal attention, including answers to specific questions. Also no waiting around while a full-size coach loads & unloads, and large groups move at the speed of the slowest. Be aware that independent tours book-out very very early. To be honest, Overlord's itinerary would be too basic for me - just Omaha / American cemetery and Ste Mere-Eglise. Certainly in-depth, but my own preference for a 9.5-hour tour would include more stops. - Pre-book a rented car. This iwill be significantly cheaper than the other options - especially if you're a foursome or you can get together with others, for instance via your cruise RollCall. Driving is easy, a mix of the main A13 divided highway and country lanes, no town driving. You can set and vary your own timetable (make Ste Mere-Eglise your last stop, by the N13 it's only about 35 minutes from Cherbourg, so you can trim or expand your time there, depending on your time available). Uncrowded roads, though a little slow along the coastal lanes. Plenty of free parking at the sights. Downside is that you don't have a guide, but a little advance research makes a big difference, and there's plenty of written information and English-speaking staff at the sights. - Pre- book a car & driver. Same advantages as a rented car, more expensive of course but without the responsibilities. No guide, but drivers usually know a few tidbits. Just stress that you need a driver with good English. If using a rented car or car+driver, here's a suggested itinerary. Total drive-time 3 hours American Cemetery, ovelooking Omaha Beach. Worth 2.5 hrs Omaha Beach. Worth a slow drive + photostops, 20 minutes Pointe du Hoc. Worth 30 minutes German war cemetery, La Cambe. Not included in tours, but it's en-route & well worth a 10 minute stop - the comparison with the American Cemetery is stark !! Utah museum and beach. Worth at least an hour. Ste Mere-Eglise. Excellent airborne museum worth an hour, and a dummy of a paratrooper hanging from the church roof (he survived). Make Ste Mere-Eglise your last stop, it's the closest sight to Cherbourg (about 35 minutes via the N13), so you can trim or expand your time there, depending on your time available Thjat's a total of 8.5 hours, so you'll want to decide in advance whether to trim that itinerary or to trim your time here or there to suit, or to miss a sight or two if you fall badly behind the clock. https://goo.gl/maps/EQq5SZCQLCzBxUCq8 JB 🙂
  10. Something we considered a few years back from London to Denver with IcelandAir. Our research showed Iceland to be surprisingly expensive - not a big deal for about 3 days, but then we came to the conclusion that Denver wasn't the best start point for an extensive road-trip - no rental soft-tops 🙄, so we flew to Vegas. Still gave us a lot of road-time in Colorado (Rocky Mountain Road, etc) and the UK isn't a million miles from Iceland JB 🙂
  11. Yes, it's more scenic from a boat - equally-important it's much more relaxing on a boat, and the harbours are the hearts of the villages. It'll be slower - and much much slower by ferry due to the queuing & waiting time, so those planning to independently use ferries should expect only one, mebbe two, ferry trips. If your boat tour is from one of the 5 villages and includes only the boat portion you'll need to get there from La Spezia. Most folk use the Cinque Terre train. A day-ticket is reasonably inexpensive (about €16 IIRC) and the trains are frequent. But they're packed, consequently the train travel isn't enjoyable - and since most of the travel between villages is in tunnels it's not scenic. But it's only a few minutes between villages. We've not driven the villages - and I recommend others not to either. I understand that the roads between villages are traffic-free and they're probably scenic, but most roads in the villages are restricted to badge-holders (mainly locals). Google "ZTL Driving Zones". Parking is also very very limited except for very early arrivals. All of that of course applies to self-drive rentals - not the same problem with local tour operators, but either you'll simply be dropped at each village or you'll have both a guide and a driver. The villages are over-crowded, difficult or lucky to get a seat in a cafe or restaurant. That also applies early or late in the season, week-days as well as week-ends. And it doesn't depend on the number of cruise ships in port - cruisers are only a tiny proportion of the visitors. TBH the over-crowding (mid-week, October) spoilt it for us. That was by using the Cinque Terre train from La Spezia (or Genoa) and the welcome relief of one ferry trip between villages. I think you're very wise to pre-book a private or small-group excursion with a local operator - I recommend by boat, but even by road is way better than DIY for this trip. JB 🙂
  12. After a period of minimal timetables due to lockdowns etc, the normal timetable has returned, including mostly-hourly services from London Victoria, Heathrow & Gatwick to Southampton. Yes, most one-way fares between Southampton and London Victoria are still £5 (they compete with the railways), from Heathrow it's £15 (no direct train service, hence no real competition) https://book.nationalexpress.com/ JB 🙂
  13. Yes, that's one of the unknowns. Another is whether passports are scanned - at airports they're scanned in front of you, on cruise ships they may be collected by the crew for immigration to go thro them at leisure. Will they be scanned at that time? That's another of the unknowns. Hence, stick to the rules. JB 🙂
  14. Then from the day you arrive in the first Schengen port to the day you depart the last Schengen port. My passport frequently not stamped - but I've not travelled to Europe since Brexit JB 🙂
  15. You got me all excited there 🙃 Then I saw the date - 2023 😐 Sadly, too far out for us. Besides, if you have to pay in full with booking think of all the interest you'll lose - almost £3 by my reckoning 😉 JB 🙂
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