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iancal

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Everything posted by iancal

  1. It seems fairly clear to me that HAL is abandoning the smaller ship market. Other vendors have acquired some of HALs older, smaller ships and have been busy refurbishing them up to an acceptable standard. HAL continues to move away from this niche by launching much larger ships. I suspect that the smaller ship market may be taken over by new entry niche players and by premium/luxury cruise lines. It seems to me that in the past HAL has been struggling with what they want to be. It shows in their disjointed marketing. Their fleet decisions appear to be indicating where they are going.
  2. This, IMHO, is much, much more than simply convincing cruisers to 'age' into HA. There is a new generation of older cruisers coming along. Early retirees, people who expect more and see attributes like excellent internet as a basic standard, not a plus. Their idea of entertainment will not be third or fourth run movies. They will have far less vendor loyalty and will be far more apt to shop and compare. This is a different group. If HAL is expecting them to come simply because of a past reputation then I believe that will be a serious marketing failure. We are in out late 60's. We enjoy HAL but to be frank HAL is not doing a great deal, other than perhaps some itineraries, to attract our cruise dollars.
  3. I get the very basic, lightest pair. On my second pair now even though the first is fine. Sometime they are all that I wear for weeks. We have seen people who like to get all 'kitted' up as if they were going up the Amazon when in reality it is a cruise with a post cruise in FLL.
  4. I believe that if HAL is to survive they will have to become a little more forward looking. Or perhaps a lot more forward looking. They need to be where the puck is going, not where it is now, or where it has been. And gain substantially more focus on defining their target market and making any changes necessary to attract that market.....for longer than six months at a time. Who knows, post covid the market may have changed from what it was two years ago.
  5. I went into a 'travel shop' to look at shirts last year. I could not believe the prices, let alone the patter that the clerk was giving me. Two of my best ever travel shirts for the last five years we picked up at Costco for $12 or so each. Easy care, fast dry, no iron, no crease. Lots of hand washing. They are still like new. The clerk at the travel store was telling me that since I go with carry on only his easy care $45. shirts were what I really needed for a successful trip. Yah, right. OTOH, I am more that willing to pay a premium price for a pair of Teva sandals that fit me like a glove, are as light as a feather, and can withstand salt water without falling apart.
  6. Like others, the very last place that I want to be tested is at the pier, waiting to board my ship. Don't mind the test but there seems no point to our leaving home unless we are 'good to go' I want to be tested at home. Before I make the flight to reach my embarkation city. Before I spend the time, the money on hotels, meals, transport. Before we pack. The very last thing I want is to take the chance of a negative pier test and then have to fly home. All that money and time wasted. Not to mention the frustration. We do not subscribe to the view that HAL should look after us cradle to grave so to speak. We view getting a covid test as our responsibility. Much like having a passport or the requisite visas.
  7. Agree. We booked Thailand on a whim one winter and found ourselves in Bangkok nine days later. We always enjoy a fews days in Bangkok. We invariably see or go somewhere that we have not seen on prior trips. Liked Thailand/Vietnam/Malaysia so much we spent the next five winters there. The flights are a killer but a small price to pay for 2 months or so of wonderful experiences. And it is on top of our list for our next post covid winter trip.
  8. We printed off our so called temporary proof of vovid vaccination (ALberta) today. The chinziest thing I have ever seen. Anyone with the most basic computer skills (even me) could download it or scan it, , change the name at the top, and print. Voila....a vax certificate. I can only assume that the download version is just as easy to alter. Hopefully the Province will get on with it. Or simply get something from another Province that has done it or is close to completing the QR version.
  9. No to cruising. Yes to independent international travel when we feel the time is right and only then to certain countries.
  10. There is a bank in ATH that gives reasonably good rates. We keep our currency from one trip to another. We are fortunate...we have several FX stores in our city that provide much better FX rates that does our bank or auto club. Plus...they tend stock a much better selection of bill denominations.
  11. I would only be interested in mine/ours. Not that we would ever consider doing this. Yes, we have the knowledge, well DW certainly has the knowledge. As do many others in the health care spectrum. Any any missing knowledge would be available via a very quick google lookup. Paper is a problem It is the reason why many countries scan our passport and get on online version of our documents, our photo, and where we have been. Not just examining the passport other than to match it with the electronic record. In addition to the digital passport check, we have visited a number of countries where our digital finger prints have been taken. And one or countries have also done this when we exited the country.
  12. Human intervention??? I could get our yellow vaccine passports out and write in three or four vaccinations in about one minute flat. Complete with a few initial scribbles beside the date. Who would be any the wiser? Very fast, very easy....absolutely no skill needed. Just a pen.
  13. Except that they are not secure. We both have them, and have had them for the past 45 years. All of the entries are handwritten. Some have a stamp beside them, others do not. Really, today I could very easily make a few entries in our current yellow vaccine passports to the effect that we have had covid and other vaccinations. Clearly no more secure that drug store flimsies that we have seen from the US but I do expect that at some stage more secure docs will be issues. In Alberta we are getting one that we print off the AHS website. My guess that my grandson has the computer skills to alter that doc, and print. It is a problem.
  14. I started at 18. A friend and I bought an old VW van, converted it, and drove across Canada and the US for the summer. Did the same in Europe after our first year or so of work post university. We have been travelling ever since. Daughter has no inclination. . Strictly upmarket AI's and resorts for her. Son is opposite. Lots of travel, including hiking through the 'stans' on his own a few years ago. Everyone is different. I am fortunate. I married a women who had hardly been out of her small Canadian home town. I have dragged her, mostly willingly, to so many out of the way places. Six star, no star, cruise ships, longtail boats. Hiking and camping in the Rockies, Washington, and down the west coast to high end AI's luxury cruse ships...you name it. It is all good. It made us realize a long time ago that experiences were far more important to us than things. And that we are all different but all the same. It is why I retired early. One of the most challenging....getting down to the point where we could travel with carry on only. It was a bank VP and his spouse that caused it. Met them in a Florence laundromat 18 or so years ago.. They had been doing it for 3 months throughout Europe by train. If they could do it, we could, and so we did. We find spontaneous travel very easy, especially after a business career of very structured travel. We don't sweat the small stuff, accept people as they are, go with the flow, live and let live, and don't forget to smile. And we never talk about religion, politcs, or sex to strangers unless it is to ask how their country works.. And never assume that how we do things at home is the right way or how everyone else should do it. So far, so good.
  15. We changed our life to make extended travel/cruising easier Bought a smaller home, lock and leave, in an HOA community. No indoor plants or pets. No yard work, no snow removal issues. Moved everything possible to email. DW changed her hair to easy care. Now, we either of us buy clothing the first question is how will it travel, is it light weight, easy care, and can it be layered with what we already have. Are those shoes or sandals ultra comfortable and ultra light. Is that carry on roller light weight. Does it have good zippers, good wheels...etc etc. The one thing we learned was that when it comes to travel products, etc. price and/or name brands are definitely not the only indicator of quality/value.
  16. Nine years ago we did five weeks Nov/Dec. A week of safari, a week touring, and two weeks self drive. Gave us the bug. We have wanted to go back every since. Beaches in South Africa were wonderful however we want to go further north to Kenya and Tanzania. It is such a long way for us that we would only consider doing it for a 2-3 month trip. Got all the various shots and most are still current so we may as well go.
  17. We have only done two cruises on Carnival. We very much enjoyed both. Service, food, cabin were all comparable to what we have had on some other mass market lines. Both were late booking cruises. One Mexican Riviera, the other Caribbean. Both during the March break season. We did take time to select our ship carefully and the date. As recall our Mexican Riv. trip started on a Tuesday and Wednesday and was 8 days. Sorry...do drunks in the halls, at the pools, or anywhere that we saw contrary to what some report. Both cruises were very good. Bottom line...we would definitely select Carnival again if the ship and the price were right. No different than we would select the other mass market lines....Princess, HAL, etc. Pre covid they all of these mass market lines seemed to have one or two ships in their respective fleets that we would never consider.. And let's face it, consistency is hardly one of the attributes of any mass market cruise line these days.
  18. Calgary, and Alberta, currently have one of the worst covid situations in North America. Alberta is under a Health Emergency as of this evening. Indoor dining will apparently cease on Oct 20. Masks mandatory, social distancing, work at home etc, etc. Public health authorities anticipate that the situation will get worse before it gets better. It is our own doing. Precautions were greatly relaxed in July with dismal results. Far too many unvaccinated people. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/kenney-shandro-hinshaw-update-covid-19-1.6177210
  19. Aegean Air offers their customers a covid test booking system. No idea how it works. I did look at one of the two labs that they use in Athens. Several locations in Athens and in suburbs such as Glyfada. Not certain if it is worth the high price of their domestic flights. You can buy usually buy the same seat on the same flight from Olympic for 30-50 percent less cost. Locals buy Olympic. They are typically code shares.
  20. We like both and would go on either at the drop of a hat. Depending on the ship of course. The challenge we see is that the only constant on any ship, other than decor and great service, is inconsistency. Especially in the food and entertainment areas. I realize that there some cruise line snobs and some cruise line devotees who really do feel that their choice of cruise line loyalty has to be the best. We certainly do not feel way. We have been on a number of cruise lines from Carnival to Crystal. They have all been great cruise. And we enjoy the differences between ships, between cruise lines.
  21. We went there on a whim seven years ago. Sitting in our rental condo, middle of Jan, looking over the golf course. Blowing snow, ice, cold weather, lousy driving. Who needs that when there are other options. Saw an add for a flight to Bangkok. Booked that very morning, flew 8 or nine days later. Picked up a Lonely Planet book and made some tentative plans. Just like that. Three months of sun, sand, touring, and wonderful local food. This is a place where carry on really is a necessity if you want to use local travel...ferry, vans, long tail boats, etc to travel from one place to another. We liked it so much (even though DW was hesitant to go at first) we returned for five more winters. Travelled from top to bottom. Added on trips to Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Australia. Plus some last minute cruises from Oz. The flight is a killer for us. 22 hours going, 18 returning. We plan to do one more winter. Greece and the southern Med is far easier for us. 10 hours is a comparative snap. We are retired. Why stay home?? When this covid business is over we want to spend a winter in Africa. Beach time, touring time, and safari time.
  22. Naxos is one of our favourites. We very much prefer it to it's neighbour Paros. If we make it this October Naxos will be on the list. Milos and Folegrandros are at the top of our list and will be part of a tentative Oct. itinerary. It is a good time to go to Santorini....far fewer cruisers will make for much, much better daytime experiences. Always check on your ferries in the morning of the day of departure. Not unusual in our experience for some changes or delays. We seldom book ferries more than a day in advance but this is because we keep a very open schedule. Retired, so no need to watch the days. One thing different for us is we need a molecular PCR test to get back into Canada. Lots of places to arrange this in Athens....plus the Greek Gov't has put a limit on how much labs can charge. Very smart move. Because there are only two of us and carry on only our practice is to exit ATH terminal and jump on the local bus to Piraeus. If you need currency exchange, we passed through ATH in Oct 2020. There is a bank in the terminal that offers quite good exchange rates. Far better than we would get by buying euros at home. If we go we will pay more but fly directly from Canada to Athens. Normally we would route home through somewhere like London or Paris and grab a few extra days of sight seeing. I am very envious. We have not booked anything and do not plan to until a few days after deciding. Fares seem to be constant. I expect that you will find that you are treated very well. Business has been challenging and places will be very welcoming. We were there during the economic downturn/credit crisis as few years ago. On some islands, and on the mainland, it was like old home week. Not unusual for restaurants to bring out desserts, unannounced, after dinner or a complementary after dinner drink. We have travelled extensively. Greece and Thailand are among our favorites. Not just the food and the people. We simply find it so easy to travel in these countries-transportation, accommodation...everything.
  23. Since retiring our ferry hopping trips have far outnumbered our cruises. Good luck to you. We have done numerous Greek Island hopping trips often ending up in Crete for a week or two. We have never had an issue with accommodation. We tend to very spontaneous. If we like a place/an island we stay for longer. If not might only stay for a day or two. This has always worked out well for us. Our last trip pre covid was three weeks in the Ionian Islands. One of our best trips. One thing about the Greek ferry system is that the routes are often divided into island groupings. Flexibility, and going with the flow is a necessity. We have done this type of ferry tourism/island hopping in Croatia and over muliple winters in Thailand/Malaysia. We have found the key for 'ferry tripping' is to pack light, carry on only. What has surprised us over the last few years? Seems to be more and more retirees like us AND young parents with infants doing the exact same! It was challenging enough for us to get down to carry on only....don't know how parents with infants manage it. Have a wonderful trip, make lots of memories. And start thinking about your next trip.
  24. HAL, Princess, Carnival, NCL, RCI, Crystal, Celebrity Each and every one was a good cruise. Too many ferries in Europe and Asia to even remember or to list.
  25. Our experienc...it always depends on demand. And routing. Pre covid, post retirement we did one flight to Euope each fall and one flight to SE Asia in Jan/Feb. Our best return fares over that period? For Europe it was the last one booked three weeks out. The fare was the same when I checked three days out. For Asia (Bangkok) the best fare over five or six trips was booked 8-10 days out. I believe the right answer is watch the fares. Decide what is a good fare/routing. When it hits, book it. We do exactly the same for late booking cruises. We realize that IF we wait, hoping to get the absolute lowest fare possible chances are we will not be going anywhere! There will always be people on the plane or the ship that paid more us and less than us.
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