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Everything posted by cruisemom42

  1. There is a difference in saying that insurance companies don't cover a pandemic and saying that your preferred source of insurance does not cover it. People have to take responsibility for their own decisions. Either get the insurance (more expensive) and remove the stress, or do not get the insurance and deal with the consequences if they occur.
  2. There is always stress involved in travel, some of it due to the travel process, some of it due to other factors in our own lives (illness other than COVID, illness or injury to a family member requiring your care, hurricanes, blizzards, you name it). Seems to me that is what travel insurance is for. Should ships be in the business of guaranteeing that anything that keeps us from getting onboard a ship at the last minute is their problem? Cruise lines already offer a pretty good deal to mitigate the uncertainties of COVID. Most will give you an FCC if you cannot board due to COVID. And if you book air through them I assume that is covered also. Why should it be their responsibility to give you a cash refund -- they are not the ones who gave you COVID. I hear people bemoaning the restrictions now, after booking, but where was your thinking at when you originally booked? Every expert and his cousin has stated that AT THE RE-START OF TRAVEL things are going to be rocky for a while and that we should all anticipate CHANGE and ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS. Now is not the time for travel if you are not willing to keep up with the changes and are not a bit flexible. Edited to add: What I do agree with is that HAL needs to be clearer in their communications and make it easy for everyone to find the relevant information to help them make decisions about whether or not to cruise at this time. And to update those already booked when things change.
  3. I agree. I don't know about HAL numbers but I know Celebrity has been sailing at 50% or less. I believe they are more or less trying to follow the CDC guidelines (despite not being "required" to do so) in this. Although I have heard that some brands are exceeding 50%.
  4. At the end of the article there is a sentence that says "At this time, it’s unclear why there was an inconsistent message from cruise line employees." I feel that's a phrase that could almost be a tagline at this point, we hear it so often....
  5. Never understood the need to judge on this issue. For example, I live in a small town. I run certain errands nearly every Saturday afternoon and can make 4-5 stops in just over half an hour including the dry cleaner, drug store, local bakery and post office or UPS. Sometimes I am just driving across the street. It's not worth a) taking glasses off b) taking mask off c) laying mask down carefully to avoid contamination d) putting glasses back on e) driving 2 minutes f) taking glasses off again g) putting mask on while looking in mirror to be sure I haven't made my hair look funny h) putting glasses back on and i) getting out of car.
  6. I'm thinking about the OP's question in a larger sense. How will HAL survive in the long term? I've thought for a while now that most of the Carnival Corp stable of brands took a decision (or were encouraged from the top) to be reactive rather than proactive on the whole COVID issue. Whether that's because Carnival had deeper pockets or for some reason thought it better to have a low profile during the pandemic, they have seemed to be on their heels throughout this crisis. They were among some of the last brands to stop sailing, the longest to refund on canceled cruises, and the slowest to cancel upcoming cruises despite clear evidence that there was no way they could sail.... In addition, they did not participate in the "Healthy Sail Panel" which both RCCL and NCL were part of. Why not? And they seem to be less forthcoming with certain information on COVID status and how passengers/crew who test positive are managed. Rolling out COVID testing has been another snafu. There are times when it is a fair (not really good but fair) corporate strategy to be reactive rather than proactive. This does not strike me as one of those times. What's going on HAL?
  7. I managed to look up Celebrity's FAQ on current Travel Requirements but although they list most of their other frequent calls for this summer for Europe, Crete isn't listed. Travel Requirements for Cruise from Athens | Celebrity Cruises I assume you've already checked the roll call to see if anyone else has found out the answer?
  8. My company -- an international one based in Germany -- has banned all international travel for work since March 2020 without approval from the highest level executive in each country and demonstrated business case. Just a few days ago that was lifted but there are still requirements in place and it is not encouraged. Announced at the same time: any employee who travels internationally on their own PTO and who encounters a need to quarantine as a result of travel requirements would have to take additional PTO to account for those days -- not allowed to use a "work from home" option.
  9. In that case, probably the most interesting person I met on a cruise was a 90-year-young woman who was traveling solo on a Voyages to Antiquity cruise -- she was a frequent cruiser on the line. She had been in the US diplomatic corps for many years and in addition had done a lot of travel "back in the day" in areas where solo woman travelers were not exactly common -- for example, she had traveled the entire silk road on her own (e.g., not on a tour of any kind) and WITH her young son. She had so many interesting stories to tell, but she didn't just "grandstand"; she was also very good at drawing out others. I somehow was lucky enough to get seated with her and a table of 4 other solo women travelers in the MDR, and we all hit it off like a house on fire. After that, we convened every night and had some terrifically interesting discussions that don't normally fit the typical cruise dinner brief (international politics, finance, womens issues, etc.). While there were definitely varying political views around the table, it was never an impediment to our conversation. She was also very curious and active -- she was right there on some of the more strenuous tours of archaeological sites. Unfortunately at one site where the going was actually what I'd consider borderline dangerous (e.g., having to wade across an inlet by stepping on rocks at varying heights and distances in order to get to a site that was in danger of being submerged), she slipped and had such a bad fall that I truly thought she would not be able to continue the cruise. But two days later, and with a broken nose, she was back at our table. She definitely became one of several role models I've had over the years.
  10. I would say I am a cautious "go-er". I did not feel at all comfortable traveling pre-vaccination, and post-vaccination am still cautious but starting to resume some travel. I'm also a somewhat picky traveler. I have no real interest in US destinations at this point. (Before anyone leaps on this statement, I've done a lot of US travel already.) However, after 18 months and need to just "get away", DS and I booked a cruise to Alaska last month after the season unexpectedly materialized. We booked right before Delta variant really took off, and as the time got closer we debated whether or not to go, but we did and we both felt safe and had a good, relaxing time. The ratio of passengers to crew made service levels impressive and much like I remember from early days of cruising. Travel outside the US is still somewhat difficult due to all the back-and-forth changing requirements re: vaccination, quarantine, testing, etc. I did have two fall trips planned for fall that had been in place for some time: one cruise and one land trip. Both were canceled. I then looked at a river cruise in France but that has now been moved to a later date. So be it. I'm not going to go on a trip just to prove a point. When the opportunities align and meet my criteria, I'll be ready to go.
  11. Most cruise lines are providing any COVID testing needed by passengers for onward transit at the end of the cruise at no charge. It's part of the enticement to get cruisers back on board. Especially true in Europe, where most lines are also requiring a COVID test immediately prior to boarding (again provided by them and at no cost UNLIKE the cruise lines starting up out of the US). Re: your trip -- you've got some wonderful options. Like a kid in a candy shop, the tough part will be picking and choosing! One of the things that I love about travel planning is coming up with all these unanticipated opportunities.
  12. I think I was unclear. Not doubting your story. I've done the whole caravan thing too on my first cruise visit way back when. Just questioning whether the "safety in numbers" is really true, or does it make one more of a target? Eight buses with a police escort attracts a lot more attention than a single private car or small minibus. In the end, we all do what we feel comfortable doing. No sense doing a private tour if it is going to lead to worry and stress. But the things I've been able to see and do on a private tour and on my own in Egypt and in Israel are priceless to me and I never felt unsafe. Syria on the hand was a different story....
  13. Realistically, if you are spending the money to fly to Europe and take a cruise, would it be so hard to save enough in coming months to pay for a couple nights in a hotel in Venice? Your flights are same expense either way. Rooms can be had (not deluxe and not on the Grand Canal but well located) for around 200 euro. Most Italian hotels include breakfast. Venice is easy to self-tour with a guidebook. It doesn't have to break the bank. And from a cost perspective, you might as well get the most out of your expensive overseas flight by amortizing it with a few more days in Europe...
  14. But if the OPs can manage an easy trip by train to Florence, I'm sure RIL would be happy to meet them there and work with them on a wine tour....
  15. Is that really true, though? Or just a perception? I would imagine that a convoy of eight buses would make themselves a pretty conspicuous target, should anyone be looking to make a statement. Look what happened at the Bardo Museum in Tunis a few years back, or the Luxor debacle a few years before that....
  16. I've posted in another thread on this same topic -- Venice (and Italy) have played this game for years -- promising a major change/announcement and then walking it back. I'm not surprised that most cruise lines waited to find out if this year's announcement would "stick". I had a feeling early on that it would, based on the fact that it was backed not just by one but by several key ministers in the country's government -- but Italian politics can always surprise one. No time would be a good time to make this change, but perhaps the absence of ships during COVID fully brought home what a difference they make in the waterways and lagoon. And many of the cruise lines' schedules are in a shambles now anyway due to ships being in the wrong parts of the world and continued cancellations and re-jiggering of schedules. Might as well just add this to the mix. The bottom line is that this is a needed change. There are no great "other options" at this point. Such is life.
  17. Funny you should say that. There is an absolutely wonderful old (old in the "Old World" sense) bookstore near the Albergo del Senato. Mostly scholarly books and mostly not in English but so fascinating to browse through, just to see the illustrations, bindings, etc. It's called Libreria Antiquaria Borromini -- look them up on FB, they have a nice page with a number of photos. It's only about 5 minutes on foot from the hotel. (FYI, "libreria" in Italian means a book store and not a library as we know it...)
  18. I will drink tap water in most places -- family and friends have said in the past that my stomach must be cast iron -- however, there are a few times and places where it pays to exercise some caution. For one reason, if I have paid a lot of $$ for a much-anticipated and planned-for trip where I am only going to have, at best, a few days to several weeks to sightsee and soak up the atmosphere, I don't want to risk spending my time miserably clenching my stomach or looking for a loo. However, I am convinced that others have more delicate digestive systems than I do, and thus probably should be even more cautious. Case in point -- once a friend and I spent 3-4 days in Istanbul prior to boarding a cruise. She knows my attitude about local water in most places. For some reason we never had a conversation about it in Istanbul, which I'd consider a gray area with regard to water safety. I wasn't super careful, but I mostly drank bottled water. She drank mostly tap water (refilling her bottle). The day we boarded our ship she became miserably uncomfortable. Next day -- to the ship doctor for medication. I'm pretty sure the water did it. In visits to North Africa, we were advised not to drink local water, not to use ice and not to eat any fresh produce that was not appropriately washed (e.g., not washed in tap water). These are places where discretion is the better part of valor, as they say....
  19. On a side note, Rome has wonderful water BTW -- safe and no unpleasant taste. No reason not to drink it from the tap, or to fill up your bottle from one of the many free "drinking fountains" around the city. This type of fountain is referred to by locals as "Il nasone" or "the big nose" because of its shape... I go to Rome at least once a year and have never had any issues. I've even been out to aqueduct park and had water from one of the ancient aqueducts there, the Acqua Vergine. (I've read that some Romans go out there with large water containers to get all of their household drinking water because they say its taste is so pure....)
  20. I suggest you read some of the posts that @chengkp75 (who has reason for expertise in this area) has made over the years before deciding that the PVSA is an "antiquated law".
  21. Seems to me this is to be expected at this time. Many of those who choose to tour with groups do so because they don't necessarily want to task of doing all the research/keeping up with the requirements. Or they are inexperienced enough to worry that they will either miss some detail or will not be able to cope well if Plan A falls apart. It's just like using the subway in various cities -- the more experience you've had with doing it, the more you realize that the process is more or less the same everywhere, and you understand how to navigate, how to troubleshoot, how to find the US language option on the ticket machine, etc.... (Sometimes reading random posts on this and other boards, I rather tend to agree that some are better off NOT trying the DIY approach!)
  22. I emailed my TA last Friday about the price drop, it took him until yesterday to get it done, but I saved $550 on next year's 9-day Med cruise -- yay!!
  23. What is the current status with regard to wearing masks onboard for Caribbean cruises out of Florida? Not required for vaccinated passengers? Required in some settings?
  24. Thanks -- I wouldn't think so either, but don't want to make assumptions...
  25. I'd like to take advantage of the current good rates for fall Caribbean cruises after our wonderful experience in Alaska on Millennium. I would ideally plan to travel again with DS, but he is concerned that work deadlines during the period may prevent him from going with little advance notice. What happens if you book and pay for two persons, but one cannot make it? I understand (and would be fine) with paying the full 2-person fare -- since I'm usually a solo traveler I am used to it anyway. But what I wondered about were whether there are any extra penalties or fare changes that might be levied when that happens? For instance, I remember a discussion from years ago on another cruise line forum that someone could presumably have to pay for both the "phantom" passenger that couldn't travel PLUS the cruise line would re-fare you to a single traveler who was liable to pay 100% supplement -- resulting in basically having to pay 300%!
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