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Blue and Green

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  1. We used Kevin of Taxi Tours Edinburgh: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g186525-d10202091-Reviews-Taxi_Tours_Edinburgh-Edinburgh_Scotland.html We booked Kevin to pick us up at the dock in Edinburgh (South Queensferry), but he does tours outside of Edinburgh as well. He was a great guide, with many stories to tell and a warm, friendly personality. When we docked in Glasgow (Greenock), we used Discover Scotland--a small group tour in a van. This was also a fantastic port and great tour. We were picked up at the dock in Greenock, just outside the gate, and had a full day of touring which included Loch Lomond and the quaint village of Luss, the Trossachs National park, Stirling Castle (with a stop to photograph the “hairy coos”), and a stop in Glasgow. This was probably one of my favorite days. We never felt rushed, it was a great blend of tour with a group and time on our own. We opted out of the Tattoo this trip, and for us that was the best decision, but I know others view it as a "must do." If you are interested, here is the link to my review of the trip. I'm sure you will enjoy your trip; it's a great cruise! We are headed to Scandinavia this year, but the BI are hard to beat.
  2. Debit cards are considered less secure because they could expose your bank account information. For travel, we use a Capital One Visa that is not connected to any of our bank accounts as a debit card would be connected. Apple Pay, and Android Pay, are considered highly secure because they use sophisticated layers of security (tokenization and cryptograms?) and never expose your bank information. So I was wondering about using a debit card that is stored in the Apple Pay wallet.
  3. Before our last trip to Europe, I called my credit card company and we set up a PIN over the phone. I use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. What I found was most places had me sign anyway...that was the default set for the card. However, if it were a ticket vending machine or other it would allow me to use a PIN. This was for England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Scotland. This year we will use the same card for England, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium. We use our card for pretty much everything and then all the expense is in one place, and easy to monitor through the app on my phone. I do always have another back up card with me just in case there is a problem of some sort with the main, preferred card. This only happened once... in a taxi in London. In that case, I think the reader in the taxi was temperamental and just didn't like my card. For that small transaction, I had currency available to pay (GBP). Some may disagree, but before leaving I always order some currency for each country we visit so I have it available if needed. I know it is easy to use an ATM to get local currency, and we have done that on occasion, but why spend time when on vacation worrying about finding an ATM? It is much more convenient and stress free to have it with you.
  4. We have a chip credit card with a PIN, but it is still set for signature as the default. Most places in Europe have us sign. However, it will work at kiosks, etc., with a PIN. It is a card that does not charge for foreign transactions, and has an easy to use app on my phone so I can easily monitor everything. An alternative is to carry a debit card with you if needed for a chip-and-PIN-only situation. Less secure, but it will work. Does anyone here use their phone to pay in Europe? Like with Apple Pay?
  5. Like others, I pack Arm and Hammer pods in double Ziploc baggies and pack Mrs Meyer dryer sheets in the suitcases among the clothes--suitcases and clothes smell great. I dry some things in the dryer, but hang quite a bit in the stateroom to "line dry." I've done laundry twice during 10/12 day cruises (early in the cruise and late in the cruise) and never experienced running out of tokens. I suppose it could happen?
  6. We hired a taxi tour for the day in Edinburgh (from reviews on Trip Advisor). While more expensive, we thought it was worth the money as we were greeted right at the dock, and our driver gave a great commentary as he drove us all around Edinburgh, yet left us with time on our own at spots as well. We visited in August, during the festival, so he drove us to a lovely, less-crowded, restaurant for lunch. When we were ready to return to the ship, he drove us. This made it very easy for Mr. Blue who has some mobility issues. No hassle with shuttle times or train tickets.The crowds would have been a bit overwhelming to manage without the help of our driver.
  7. "your favorite port to walk and roam without a planned excursion your favorite castle tour your favorite/most helpful review/YouTube video/website that helped you plan for your cruise" Guernsey was my favorite port to walk and roam. It was a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning, there was a small street art fair and the town was lovely. Very easy to do. Some enjoy taking the bus around the island , but we were very happy with just wandering on foot. Favorite castle tour was Stirling castle. We used Discover Scotland tours (out of Glasgow/Greenock). This was one of my favorite tours of the cruise. It was a small bus/van tour, with Cameron as our guide. We visited Loch Lomond, Stirling castle, had lunch on our own in a charming little village, and still had time to stop for a little touring/shopping in Glasgow. https://discoverscotlandtours.com/ Easy to book online. These boards are filled with reviews for the British Isles Cruises, and they were very helpful to me in planning. I kept a Word document up on my laptop while browsing reviews. When I came across something that sounded helpful or interesting to me I would copy just the bit of the review that I found interesting, and paste it into my Word document under the specific city or port (London, Southampton, Guernsey, etc.). At first I felt like I was copying everything, but the more I read, the more I was able to discern what was going to be helpful and interesting to me. One surprise for us, and truly a highlight, was the beauty of Northern Ireland. I highly recommend hiring a driver to show you Belfast and the history of the Troubles, but also to take you out into the countryside. Gorgeous scenery, castle ruins, lunch at Bushmills Inn on the Causeway coast (originally a coaching inn in the 1600's) while a peat fire burns in the fireplace...something I will never forget. One more tip...if traveling from the States, arrive in London at least three days before your cruise if possible. We did, and were very grateful as we adjusted to the time difference before the cruise. The first few days of the cruise we could tell those passengers that had not yet adjusted to the time difference. They were dragging themselves through and sleeping on tours---missing out on a lot! We are going again soon and planning 5 days pre-cruise in London and vicinity. I agree completely that travel does not have to be perfect to be wonderful. Some of the best memories are from the little moments that come in "just being" in a place.
  8. Just a thought--three years ago we took the ship's tour from Le Havre to Paris even though many on these boards advised against it due to the commuting time on the bus, and "Paris deserves so much more time than the 5 or 6 hours you will have to visit in a day trip." I could say the same about London...we spent 5 days there before our last cruise, and plan several more days in London before our upcoming cruise. HOWEVER, we are so grateful we took the Paris tour--we spent time inside the Notre Dame cathedral, had lunch in a lovely bistro, saw the Eiffel tower, and other Parisian landmarks. If there is something you want to see, and you don't know if you will have another opportunity to visit London, then go on a day trip. I would recommend using the ship's transfer if you are concerned about getting back to your ship on time. Otherwise, we have been very happy with the service from Smiths for Airports, or West Quay cars as JB mentioned above. If you decide against London for a day trip, I would recommend not staying in Southampton. Rather, take a tour into the countryside and visit places like Canterbury, or Salisbury, or Stonehenge.
  9. We will be docking in Oceankaj (the further one)as well, arriving around 10am. Is it reasonable to think we can get a taxi there to take us to Nyhavn area for a canal cruise, then after that walk the Stroget to Tivoli? We thought we could get a taxi back to the dock in the evening. Because we travel with a manual wheelchair, we usually prefer a taxi over a bus. From what I can see on Google maps, it looks like a fairly level walk.
  10. I don’t mind sharing my experiences even if a question has been asked before, and I greatly appreciate the patience others have in answering my questions. I do try to use the search function first, but at times that leaves me with additional questions that may be unique to our travel needs/desires. Regarding the wrong answers or the “guessing,” there is nothing to prevent this from happening whether it is a sticky thread or a regular thread, right? I always read questions/answers, information, and reviews with my critical thinking cap on, whether posted on Cruise Critic or elsewhere. Anyway, just my opinion and perhaps not a popular one. The main down-side I see to the proposed thread is that these things seem to encourage the “Read the Thread” response to questions, which then in turn limits (perhaps by subtle intimidation) additional posts related to a topic outside of the increasingly unwieldly thread.
  11. Thank you so much for the detailed information, JB and Morgans! We did consider the Doubletree, but decided against it based on the reviews on Trip Advisor, which also mentioned the pre-cruise crowds. I love the idea of dining in the countryside rather than the city and appreciate the recommendations. It's good to know reception will help arrange a taxi. Some of our favorite memories from the last trip to the UK involve the smaller, out -of-the-way places we visited, whether by design or by accident, and the lovely people we met as a result. Looking at the Hilton website again, it seems the Ageas Bowl Hilton does offer a shuttle to the cruise port as well.
  12. Ugh. Not a fan. Just read through 6 pages and 140 replies on a thread that was updated for 2019, and still didn't find the information I was hoping to find. But when I did a search, I saw others referring posters to the thread. That was an updated thread for 2019 (Wonderful Copenhagen), but I would also be concerned about information being out-of date. The thing I like about this site is the activity on the boards and great responses to questions. 😊 If it turns into more and more sticky threads on topics, why not just read reviews elsewhere on the inter-webs? 😒
  13. We are in Southampton just one night before our cruise. A couple years ago we stayed at the Premier Inn by the West Quay Mall but this summer, since we have quite a few Hilton Points to use up, thought we would try the Hilton Ageas Bowl. I know it is some distance from the cruise ships, but we don't mind taking a taxi in the morning. However, I'm wondering if there are shops and/or restaurants closer to the Hilton for the evening before the cruise, or if taking a cab to the Mall or Waterfront is our best bet? Or is this a bad idea...and should we re-think staying closer to the waterfront? We will only be in Southampton from late Friday afternoon until we board on Saturday. Staying in a quieter spot is somewhat appealing to me. Thank you in advance for any thoughts you might have to add.
  14. Thank you both so much. It is assistance like this that makes it possible for us to keep traveling!
  15. Mr Blue and I are considering a day trip from our base in London (Aldwych, near Covent Garden) to Canterbury. While Mr Blue can easily transfer from the chair, and walk short distances or a few stairs if necessary, we travel with a manual, collapsible wheelchair. When in London, we use taxis or walk (I push the chair) as the hassle of figuring out whether an Underground Station is or is not easily accessible is not worth it to us at this point in our lives. It looks like we can do a day trip via train from Charing Cross Station to Canterbury, and then return to St Pancras International (all without transferring trains). I'm assuming these stations are wheelchair accessible. The following is not clear to me---Should we purchase tickets in advance or simply buy at the station the morning we want to travel? Are these reserved seats on trains or does everyone just take what is available? Will we be able to fold the wheelchair and easily store it somewhere on the train? We will go either on a Tuesday or Thursday in June... Thank you in advance for any assistance in planning!
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