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About Catlover54

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    Cool Cruiser

About Me

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  • Interests
    science, history, oceans, wine, fine dining, people-watching, politics, plinking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Seabourn, Hapag-Lloyd

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  1. Beejay, based on your description, I am glad we will not be connecting through Sydney ( at least not this trip), just flying in, and out. I am equally embarrassed about so many U.S. airports ( though fortunately not by my local San Francisco airport) , especially the many surly airport and TSA personnel. But at least you got to sit ( unlike in St. Martin at Christmas, when people were on the floors or standing for hours due to flight delays and lack of chairs). First world problems, I know, but it is good to know what one is getting into. My fantasy for long-haul trips is to be put to sleep and then just wake up ensconced in soft pillows in the arrival port hotel destination 🙂
  2. I appreciate all the responses from people in the know about SYD. If I were alone, ( I am now retired) I would spend at least another week in and around Sydney post-cruise , based on what I have read and heard about it, and not just the few days pre-cruise we have planned. But DH wants to get back to work asap post cruise ( that will help pay for more cruises 🙂). I decided to opt for a discounted business class airfare purchase through the cruiseline, ( SB) which warrants they will not book flights with unrealistic departure times, or they pay for the reroute. And to minimize risk of lines causing us to miss our flight, in addition to certainty on being able to use priority lines for business class on luggage checkin and for security, we will plan to get to the airport at least three hours ahead of time ( preferably more, if the ship allows us to get off) . DH is keen to try to plan for a disembarkation day flight so in case something goes wrong that day, our plan B will be an overnight with a cruiseline guaranteed business class reroute the next day, and not risk another day’s delay if something goes wrong with the Monday plane even if we are there. The worst thing about cruising is getting there and coming back, as many of you know all too well. I envy Europeans, who are a one or two hour flight from many interesting cruiseports and a lot of history. From where we are, it is always a long haul no matter what direction we go to cruise except to Alaska ( four trips) and to Mexico ( two trips, which was one too many). I look forward to visiting Sydney and other intriguing Australian ports.
  3. Thanks to all, very helpful ( and belated apologies for all my typos in my first post, which tell me one should not post anything at all after spending the evening in a jazz club ) 😳 I took the plunge on a San Francisco to and from Australia business class roundtrip through SB. My TA claims they said we will be able to earn FF miles ( hope they are right, not the end of world if wrong) . Internet showed the fare SB offered was $1600 per person less than an advance purchase discounted business fare on the airline we typically use for a non-stop, though the fare is nonrefundable once purchased. We will be getting into town a few days early pre-cruise, so will be on our own then. Likely SB will offer an early group bus we can use to get to the airport on time on disembarkation day for a 1 PM flight ( unclear right now), if not, we will just have to reserve a “wagon” at extra cost to haul us plus our abundant luggage on time ( I like to be very early for international flights — a few days ago I arrived at Frankfurt airport three hours prior to flight departure and with all the lines due to broken computers on top of the usual delays, just barely made my flight home). I will post back if something goes wrong with this SB airfare plan. Usually we use miles and/or just buy tickets, but the costs to Australia in either cash or miles are much bigger than just flying to Europe where there are more choices, and more options if something goes wrong, as it often does these days.
  4. This question is for people who know lovely Sydney and its possibly not so lovely airport well. We are planning a cruise in March which starts and ends in Sydney and goes only to Australian ports. We will be flying from San Francisco, hopefully nonstop, to and from Sydney ( arriving around 9 am on a weekday and departing for home at 1pm). I want to time the day of our booked return flights, and our class of airline service, based on trying to limit major hassles getting to the airport ( traffic, lack of cabs) as well as likely airport lines and delays. I have read some nasty reviews about the Sydney airport and its personnel ( link below), so have some concerns ( limited seating, dirty toilets, lines, hostile staff) , but do not know if they are exaggerated. Though neither of us need a wheelchair, my health issues make long lines of standing hard to handle and I also like to have plenty of time to get to my gate ( and sit, and use the toilets) in peace and without anxiety before a 14 hour flight. https://www.airlinequality.com/airport-reviews/sydney-airport/page/1/ We have a choice of leaving directly from our cruiseship the day of departure with a cruise provided group bus ( unknown time, unknown dock) or taxi or car, to make a 1pm flight either that day on a Sunday, (possibly a busy airport day) , or overnighting somewhere and doing the same 1 pm flight on the next day, a Monday, a workday ( so there would presumably be more AM street traffic). We are not fit enough to take the train, and we will have heavy bags. We have a choice of doing our return flight in premium economy ( our preference for price) or forking up a lot extra to avoid the worst line risks at SYD that could cause us to miss our 1pm return flight. 1. What do you locals think about a Sunday vs. Monday departure? Would we likely actually risk more delays on Monday morning? 2. Does anyone who has flown Premium Economy know if you reliably get into priority security lines, or if you share with Economy, and/or if Sunday or Monday would be more likely to have longer security lines? 3. Any other comments about the airport? We will be staying in Sydney for 4-5 days before our cruise, our first time. Thanks in advance.
  5. I have never used them. Has anyone had problems with it? Can you get credit for Airlinw miles with the rdiscounted fares they book? Are you assured the flight of your choice in advance? Any other benefjts besides slightly lower price?
  6. One possibility is just to dedicate a deeper closet drawer to his plus her shoes. We take three large suitcases between us and still have room for clothes if we use all shelves, the drawers in both the nightstands, and drawers under the desk, so a drawer could in theory be spared for shoes. If you get different colored shoe bags for different pairs ( and remember what color bag corresponds to which pair, or have a coding on your iphone if you have not memorized it yet), they will be easy to find. Thank you SLSD for using shoe bags! Closed unventilated closets also tend to absorb shoe odors, so it is nice to have them bagged if kept in there, or on shelves. We never bring enough shoes to create a problem ( usually 3-4 pairs per person depending on the cruise) , but I noted you could also get a few pairs discretely tucked in behind the far end of the sofa near the drapes if needed. Or under the desk, if you never actually sit at the desk. Compared with mainstream lines, storage space is huge on luxury lines even in base cabins. Some mainstream cruiser who store bags under their beds have written they keep shoes or other stuff stored in a bag, like a pullout drawer.
  7. MS Sommelier, I can certainly empathise with your situation and frustration, having had my Hanseatic nature trip cancelled short notice in the spring due to the ship not being ready on time. There was poor communication on emails when that happened. Though I personally have zero interest in visiting Cuba for various reasons, I know that people who had their trips cancelled or itineraries altered after big buildups about going there have been very disappointed due to the sudden policy change. You should have had clear and early communication from HL about what was going on. Your husband is German, and you also speak German, so the issue was thus likely not related to bias against non-German speakers, and rather was something they needed to rapidly deal with and which they handled it poorly. I just returned from a short MS Europa cruise I had booked without a TA and everything went very smoothly from on-line booking to finish, including phone calls I made to help with some unusual issues I had. Lately email responses have become less reliable than previously, but phone calls have gone better ( obviously not for you). There is a lot of staff turnover from one position to the next. However, I have also had bad booking related customer service from SB, SS, and Regent, initially very surprising, but it is what they can get away with. 😟
  8. I am pretty sure I used to be able to see available suites for cruises I was considering. Now I cannot figure out how to find them. Did SB eliminate the feature?
  9. While on the MS Europa, I personally pre-booked interest in a new “Vorschau’ cruise, in a Category IV solo cabin for the 2022 Ocean Sun Festival, no prices yet. It is 12 days, Teneriffe to Bilbao, starts May 15, 2022. I only knew about it as I had gotten email from HL that the Vorschau was available online to look at right before I boarded, I had been off CC a while. It was news to the cruise booker, who knew nothing of it, so I showed it to him online. I am home now and will work to scan the other cruises on the Vorschau to including Europa 2 to try and get pre-bookings in. I was previously successful getting solo Category IV ( I like balconies) Ocean Sun Festival bookings for 2016, 2018, 2020, 2021, and we will see if 2022 comes through with the 3% on-board booking discount plus the 5% early booking. MS Europa may be easier to book than Europa 2, as the latter is the latest and greatest and international, but Europa has been full each time I was on. Category IV is also likely easier.
  10. I was on a short, four-day cruise on the sister ship MS Europa Saturday September 14-18, ( food and service excellent) after visiting friends there, which started in Hamburg as part of Hamburg Cruise Days. A caravan of 12 cruise ships and surroundings illuminated the waters, including fireworks. We passed the Europa 2 in drydock ( photo below) and its crew tooted hello at us, we tooted back. Meanwhile earlier on shore environmentalists carried fake coffins and sprayed fake blood in Hamburg, protesting cruising, saying cruisers are poisoning the earth and accelerating extinction. I suspect that the push by cruise lines for “environmentally sensitive” cruising is not enough for the leaders. https://www.en24.news/2019/09/extinction-rebellion-testing-civil-disobedience-protests-against-cruise-days.html
  11. The big bottles now in the rooms appear too big for excursions. Glass options like VOSS suggested are too heavy, though I love Voss sparkling, as I already have enough trouble dealing with weight, and glass is a hazard if I fall. For years we routinely bring a few of our own empty small plastic bottles designed for carbonated beverages from home that we then refill on the ship or at hotels from larger screwtops, be they glass or plastic, still or sparkling, or from coke or other soda cans if we want soda, depending on what we want, which can be washed in our rooms by us on our own terms. The screwtops are strong and reusable many many times. The light bottles fit in the elastic sections of purse and waist or backpack. Of course if plastic bottles are totally outlawed by the world everywhere (including China and India, but good luck with enforcement there) only those who have a stash like the one below will be able to use this suggested option of simply minimizing rather than eliminating use of plastic. Given recent trends we will hoard a few more in the right size and shape. Here are my last few trip’s plastic 330 cc Badoit bottle and plastic 500cc Pelligrino bottles, they will accompany me on my next trip too.
  12. First choice is the first SB cruise Next is the next SB cruise Not that anyone on this board would be biased! 🙂
  13. Happy upcoming birthday, Jackie! August 15 is special to me, as it was also my deceased mother’s birthday, and is Assumption day. I think of her and all the unpleasant things she went through in her days, especially before coming to U.S., and how she made it possible for me to live a much better life. Now that I know it is also the birthday of a vocal CC contributor, I will also have to think of Cruise Critic and luxury cruising! I had almost booked a Scenic cruise for a celebration, but would have been very disappointed, given all was cancelled and massively delayed, and from what I have read, the disappointed customers were not handled very nicely. But once it has settled in and if there are good reviews, I may reconsider sailing her ( even if I never make it onto their submarine).
  14. As with other medical problems that come up on cruises, the cruise doctor would contact a dentist in the next port for you, if not an emergency. Of course, you never know where you will be or the quality of the dentists there, especially on a weekend ( just like the quality of doctors on a ship varies). Prevention is best: fix anything you can fix while still home, and use discretion chewing nuts while on the cruise. My dentist knows I cruise and has been pushing for me to replace a half split crown prophylactically because it could split all the way through any time. But she has been saying this for years. Meanwhile, I chew nuts on the other side. Now that I am retired, it is on my “to do” list, as I want to do longer voyages.
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