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Pet Nit Noy

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  1. Comments like "it still snows in winter" reveal confusion about climate and weather. Here's a link to a Scientific American article which defines the difference between climate and weather. It further examines whether or not freak storms -- both hurricanes and snow -- are the result of global warming, are indicators of a climate in transition, or are simply year to year weather variations and tell us nothing about climate change. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/earthtalks-global-warming-harsher-winter/ I'm sure anyone who is interested in facts, can find more sites to clarify misconceptions about cold winters.
  2. Here's a report from Florida beaches today. From the Herald Tribune 2/11/19 (Sarasota, FL) newspaper: "The Sarasota City Commission is considering banning single-use plastic straws citywide and polystyrene in public places, such as city buildings, events, sidewalks and on properties in which private entities lease space from the city. If the commission ultimately decides to prohibit either plastic product, the move would follow in the footsteps of other cities enacting similar bans of straws or polystyrene, including St. Petersburg, Sanibel, Fort Myers, Hollywood, Surfside, Coral Gables and Miami Beach ....According to local data cited by city officials, 17,049 bottle caps, 6,649 straws and stirrers, 6,192 plastic bags and 1,562 foam take-out containers were collected from local beaches from 2013 to 2017. The figures for the same time period also show 70,424 cigarette butts and 2,113 plastic lids were also collected from area coastlines. The problem with plastics is they don’t biodegrade in a marine environment, officials said. While plastics do break into smaller pieces, in the process, they become toxic and poison wildlife and water." For the full article: https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20190210/sarasota-considers-ban-on-plastic-straws
  3. You haven't mentioned your itinerary. If the cruise will take you through known areas of turbulent water (e.g. the South China Sea or sailing around Cape Horn) I'd recommend you book Deck 7.
  4. The notion of the top tour providers is a tricky one. Anyone reading the Northern Europe/Baltic Port of Call board long enough will learn that there have been times when the top tour providers proved to be less flexible than the next tier of well-regarded but popular tour companies. The top providers know they will book up their tours by doing nothing more than exactly what they've been doing -- providing a reliable and memorable visit to St Petersburg. However, if you're traveling with children or someone with limited stamina/mobility, you'll want to investigate companies like Best Guides or White Nights. These have a reputation of being willing to be somewhat more willing to do slight customization. Even for able bodied cruisers who are making their first visit to St. Petersburg and want to do the standard itinerary, there are slight differences among tour companies. Some include shopping time. Some include a sit down lunch from a set menu. Some include a light, on-the-go lunch. Some visit Peterhof via bus both ways; others visit via a combination of bus and hydrfoil. Some itineraries include a bit more exposure to the life lived by ordinary St. Petersburg citizens. Some companies are better with children. If cruisers read the Port of Call board, contact several licensed tour providers, and carefully explain any unique needs and concerns, everyone ought to end up with a fantastic visit to St. Petersburg.
  5. Lots of exaggeration here. Each private tour company has a slightly different interpretation of what you have posted and even different tour guides within the same company interpret the rules slightly differently. Fact: Many private tour companies will allow clients to have independent time that varies from 30 minutes in a limited diameter away from a central meet-up point. Some allow as much as 3-4 hours of independent time. (Princess even sells an excursions titled something along the lines of Nevsky Prospekt on your Own.) The take away message is that cruisers need to make their needs and expectations known when you deal with any private tour company. OP, since you have some concerns about stairs or stamina in the Hermitage, look for a tour that meets your needs. Alla offers a tour titled "Comfort Tour" but the well-regarded companies. (TJ Tours, SPB, White Nights, etc.) typically have an existing easy-pace tour.
  6. Can you be specific? The sample menu on the web site still shows the Jacques Pepin Signature dishes. Of these, the filet and the salmon always are served with sauces on the side. The roast chicken is served in its own roasting juices. Of the remaining entrees on the menu, only the snapper mentions a cream sauce. The other sauces -- for the duck and the prime rib -- aren't cream sauces either. So how did your experience differ from the sample menu (link below)? https://www.oceaniacruises.com/Documents/Menus/13391/Grand-Dining-Dinner-Menu.pdf/
  7. I hate when the version on the plate bears minimal resemblance to the classic version. If I order Veal Picatta, it is precisely because I want veal with white wine and a generous squeeze of lemon. I may prefer more lemon than a particular chef typically uses or I may prefer a version that adds more/fewer capers or leaves in thin slices of lemon, but the essential flavor is veal and lemon. If a chef wants to serve a version that strays far enough from the accepted classic, then call it Chef's Piccata, or even Veal "Piccata." (I'd react to seeing a quotation marks name as "Whoops! Better inquire precisely what the chef means.) But if the menu states Veal Piccata and some surprise rendition arrives at the table I'm left with the unfortunate choice of eating something I didn't want or throwing off the pace of my meal while I wait for a waiter to bring a replacement dish. Pinotlover, by any chance, did you ask the chef why he kept the standard name if he wasn't going to make the standard recipe? If so, what was his answer?
  8. Here's a link to a post I wrote about a person in your same situation: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=49195324&postcount=7 It contains the information you need to put on do-it-yourself tags. Yes, you can wait until you arrive at the pier and get a tag, but I prefer to have a home-made tag already attached.
  9. If you look at the list on the left hand side of the page, you'll see the many cruises this same travel agency has booked on Oceania. That represents a lot of clout. No fun to be on the wrong end of Oceania's decision, but that list certainly makes clear the cruise line's priorities.
  10. If this is your first European trip and you have no money you've been saving, ask your local bank to exchange no more than $100 into Euro. Then, use the ATM in the various countries you'll be visiting. Do not exchange all the money you think you'll need prior to your departure. Foreign ATM machines have gotten more user friendly and can read the country of origin of the card. That means you will be offered prompts in English on the screen regardless of the language where you're visiting. If you hope to become a reasonably regular European traveler, I suggest you come home from your November cruise with about 50 Euro, Put the money away safely until your next trip where Euros will be needed and you'll never have to ask this question again. When your stored cache of money runs out, you'll simply head to the nearest cash machine and get more Euros.
  11. The Bay of Fundy, where St. John is located has the highest tides in the world. If that intrigues you, there are lots of things to do. Schedule a visit to the Reversing Falls. http://new-brunswick.net/Saint_John/reversingfalls/reversing.html When we visited many, many decades ago, the Irving Pulp and Paper mill was allowed to dump its pulp waste into the water. Environmentally tragic, but easy to track the reversal of the river flow by watching the pulp. The Irving Mill is still there and still operating, but I don't think they're allowed dump pulp. Still, they regularly make the news for visually blighting the landscape with their smokestacks and the occasional accidental discharge of "something." At low tide, we walked on the ocean floor, among the high rock structures that haven't been eroded by the tides of the Bay of Fundy. We did this at Hopewell Rocks farther up the Bay of Fundy from St. John, but, perhaps, someone has done this closer to St. John. Here's a link to a tides table for St. John https://www.tide-forecast.com/locations/Saint-John-New-Brunswick/tides/latest
  12. Relax! CC participants will make up a very low percentage of your fellow cruisers. The highest estimate on a single cruise is 10%, and that is probably a very generous estimate. (Oceania won't host CC meet and greet parties at the beginning of the cruise which ought to give you a sense of the low numbers.) These boards for all the cruise lines are wonderful resources for factual information. Once a thread strays into opinion territory, the conversations inevitably turn fractious.
  13. It's a charming but true anecdote that a 14-year old's estimate was the beginning of the interest in bans on plastic straws, but the issue has been taken up by university researchers. Sorry to burst your bubble about Antitifa clowns being the source of the estimate, but here's the reality, "So he called straw manufacturers himself, asking what they estimated to be the straw market in the United States per day." Here's a link to the child's original estimate and updates on his estimate: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/18/anti-straw-movement-based-unverified-statistic-500-million-day/750563002/ Here are a few links to articles about university scientists involvement with the issue: https://phys.org/news/2018-04-science-amount-straws-plastic-pollution.html https://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2018-04-20/science-says-amount-of-straws-plastic-pollution-is-huge
  14. I've edited your reply to use US $$$ instead of pounds since that is the topic of the thread. No need to confuse the issue about a third currency, pounds. This is what you wrote in post #20: If you are using a credit card always select "pay in your home currency" not local. LHT28 and I took issue with that post. This post contradicts your earlier recommendation.
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