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Everything posted by new_cruiser

  1. new_cruiser

    Spanish Serenade

    I agree with Red about the Picasso tour. On our cruise (same sailing as Red), we docked in Seville. The captain told us that they were probably not going to continue Seville as a port because of the channel being reduced by silting. When I looked, the future itineraries we're using Cadiz instead.
  2. new_cruiser


    Yes, we are on for 14 days too. We will have to arrange to meet. That seemed to be one of the nicer parts of the 54-day Wind Surf journey. Now that we are retired, the 14-day length works out well for us. We got both the Yacht Club 5% off and the additional 5% off for Welcome Home (I recalled the wrong name when I called it Welcome Back - booked within 60 days of disembarking from a "qualifying"? cruise). I've done the repricing twice since they started the $50 re-booking fee. They charged us $50 per person, but they also added $50 of OBC per person so it doesn't really cost you $50 if you would have used the that amount on board anyway. We had $200 of OBC (2 people * 2 re-pricings * $50). If you do the repricing, be sure to check your room number afterwards. They accidentally changed our room assignment due to the cancel/re-book process. I didn't notice it until a month or so later and by that time, we couldn't get our original room back. They were able to change us to the room next to the one we had booked and our TA got them to throw in free laundry so that worked out okay for us. When we did Spanish Serenade on Star Legend, our cruise never had a price drop. It only went up. One of the Winds was doing Spanish Serenade departing 2 days before our departure and the price on that one did go down. (There was a Tauck tour group on our sailing so that may have helped it book up fully enough to never have a price drop.) I kept seeing the other departure on the sale page, but we had a time constraint so we couldn't make the start date for that cruise. I hope your sister is able to get a price decrease on it.
  3. new_cruiser


    Neither of those suggested reasons make sense. The port charges are part of "additional taxes" and aren't included in the cruise fares that I'm comparing. For the 7-day Treasures of the Greek Isles cruises, additional taxes are $196 and for the 7-day Windward Ways and Tabago Cays they are $150 - a pretty negligible difference. For Jewels of the Windward Islands, it is a bit lower - $112 but still a pretty small part of the whole cost. Many of the European cruises don't cover much distance and would be similar to Caribbean cruises in distance covered. Treasures of the Greek Isles fares are some of the highest and that itinerary is pretty compact. Currently $4599 for Cat B. Windward Ways and Tabago Cays in the Caribbean covers a lot larger distance but the fare is less than half the Greek cruise - $2199 for Cat B. The 14-day Star Collector that includes Jewels of the Windward Islands and Windward Ways and Tabago Cays is $3499. Also, Windstar has a greater percentage price difference between it's Caribbean cruises and it's European cruises than some other lines. Star Clippers for instance has much less of a difference which leads to the situation that I mentioned. Star Clipper fares in the Med are much lower than Windstar's, but in the Caribbean it is the reverse. Presumably, any difference in costs between the two regions would affect both of the cruise lines so that can't explain Windstar's pricing. I think the answer is more about what the market will bear. Several of the 2019 Greek Isles cruises say "Call for Availability" so they appear to be getting bookings at that price. On the other hand, the Caribbean cruises
  4. new_cruiser


    We might be on the same sailing! We booked Wind Surf 1/18/20 14 days. The price is up around $300 pp on that one from when we booked last month. Are you on that one or on Star Legend? We booked right after we got back from Costa Rica to get the Welcome Back discount. It's the first time we've been able to use that. I wonder if the extra 5% off is retained in a price adjustment.
  5. new_cruiser

    Miffed about Power strips and towels

    I use my own USB power block rather than the provided USB ports in hotel rooms, planes, etc. for a different reason. I know that my power block is a good recent one that will provide enough current to charge my devices in the time I expect. There is usually know way of knowing the output capacity of the built in ports. They are often inferior and occasionally I've run into ones won't even provide enough power for modern higher consumption devices to maintain charge. In addition to the power block, I bring along an external battery such as the ones made by Anker. I can charge that during the day and use it on the nightstand at night to provide power for my phone. I have another external battery for taking along in case I need extra power during the day that I charge at night.
  6. new_cruiser


    The price assurance policy has always, as far as I've seen, said that if you choose to get a price reduction, you lose any inclusions that went with the old price and receive any that go with the new price. That seems fair to me. The price reduction we took saved us far more than the OBC that we gave up to do it. We do get a good amount of OBC from our travel agent on Windstar cruises - enough on the last couple that we didn't have much of a bill at the end. Prices seem to have shot up really high on some of their cruises (e.g. the European ones) while on others have stayed relatively reasonable (e.g. Caribbean and Panama Costa Rica). I've booked a Star Clipper cruise for Thailand in April as I've wanted to try them for a long time. I also looked at them for the cruise we want to do next January in the Caribbean and they cost way more than Windstar there. On the other hand, for a Med cruise such as Greek Isles, Star Clipper fares are way less than Windstar. I book if the price is something I'm willing to pay and then I watch for sales to get the price adjusted under the price adjustment policy. Then I don't have to wait to book air. On my Pacific crossing/Alaska cruise & our Panama/Costa Rica cruise, there were significant price drops that we received. On the latter, there was some further price reduction after the end of the price adjustment, but I didn't feel bad about missing those - the ship was already pretty full at that point so some categories were sold out and I expect not much room selection if you waited to book that late. The price on our 2017 Med cruise never went on sale. I was surprised to find that several people we talked to on our last cruise didn't know that there was a price assurance policy and didn't check for a price drop.
  7. new_cruiser


    Perhaps it depends on whether the port allows it. Last summer in Alaska, I don't recall even seeing a tent. Certainly no drinks & water station there. But on the kayak expeditions, the safety boat distributed hot cocoa & cookies which was very nice. This January, in Panama & Costa Rica, there was iced tea and cold water set up in most ports (sometimes in a shaded area with a table already there & sometimes under a Windstar tent).
  8. new_cruiser

    Help! No passport, no birth certificate!

    In California, anyone can get an "certified informational copy" of a birth certificate, but to get a "certified authorized copy" one must have one of a list of relationships to the person. Parent, grandparent, spouse, child and grandchild are on that list as are various kinds of attorney, court or law enforcement roles. An informational copy is, I expect, enough for genealogy work.
  9. new_cruiser

    Single use plastic on Windstar

    We had a deck BBQ and glass water bottles refilled daily on the crossing from Japan to Alaska. The glass bottles were replaced with refillable ones when we got to Alaska.
  10. new_cruiser

    Just booked Panama and Costa Rica on 2nd March!

    The flights departing late enough on the day of arrival would either get us back to Northern California really late (after midnight) or be red-eyes. Therefore, we booked a flight leaving early the next morning. I booked a room at one of the airport hotels (Courtyard by Marriott). We used the Windstar tour transfer that included a coffee plantation and and ox cart factory with a drop off at the airport. The hotel has a free airport shuttle so my plan was to use that to get from the airport to the hotel. When they asked us for our flight information on board, I just told them that we were staying in an airport hotel for a departure the next day. It wasn't any issue. I don't see why it would be any different if one was just doing the transfer without the tour. As it turned out, the rest of the people on our tour were being dropped off at the Windstar hotel in San Jose. We were the only 2 with airport drop-off so they kindly dropped us off at our hotel instead.
  11. new_cruiser

    Star Pride - bad? Single traveling

    Mostly, the proposed plans sound pretty positive. I like that they will be replacing the engines and generators with new, more energy-efficient ones and will pick up a bit of speed. Increased deck space and a new dining option will be nice. New tenders will be good as the existing ones are showing their age and on our Alaska Star Legend cruise, the sky light dripped on rainy days. ~ 300 passengers is still an acceptable small ship size. It's about what Wind Surf carries and that ship is quite pleasant. The one thing I'm concerned about is the capacity of the Yacht Club. On cold weather cruises, especially scenic cruising days, the Yacht Club already can get pretty crowded with the current ~200 passengers. The descriptions don't mention anything that clearly will add additional inside viewing space for those cold weather cruises. I hope they have some plan for increasing the inside viewing lounge space.
  12. new_cruiser

    Windstar Beverage Prices November 2017

    The policy used to say (around a year ago) that you could bring wine on at port stops. It changed at some point and now only allows bringing the two (or 3) per cabin at the beginning.
  13. new_cruiser

    Spanish Serenade

    Windstar "strenuous" is usually not all that strenuous. They tend to over rate the amount of effort required (perhaps because they don't want people to sign up for something and then find that it is too hard for them). It doesn't mean that it is mountain climbing. I agree with CruiseOrLand about reading the descriptions carefully - that will help with knowing about the rare times that "strenuous" really means strenuous. "Moderate" generally means that there are little if any stairs and walking is short distances and flat - very easy stuff. On our Alaska cruise, an excursion with a 1/2 mile nature walk (nearly flat wide trail with lots of stops for the guide to point out plants and tell us about them), was graded as "moderate to strenuous." Some people were dissatisfied that it was too easy - they had expected more of a real hike but the description did say it was a 1/2 mile nature walk - read the description. I didn't find the Alhambra Tour to be strenuous (we booked a private guide, but the path through is pretty much the same for everyone). At the time, I was mid-60's and not incredibly fit though not disabled in any way. One note about the description of the Windstar Alhambra Tour. It says: " An additional delight is the opportunity to experience a traditional Spanish-style lunch at Ruta Del Veleta restaurant." I took "opportunity" to mean that the lunch wasn't included, just that you would have time for it if you wanted. It actually is included. Because of the distance and length of this tour, I'd recommend taking the Windstar one. The Alhambra was a highlight of the cruise for us. We had to scramble with our private arrangements when our port stop in Almeria was cancelled due to weather and the ship stayed in Malaga an extra day instead.
  14. new_cruiser

    Star Pride - bad? Single traveling

    I think they have usually done the dry docks near Lisbon so if there is a gap in the schedule at Lisbon, it's pretty likely for a dry dock.
  15. new_cruiser

    Convincing people to cruise

    I meant to put a link in: https://www.starclippers.com/us-dom/specials/asia-bogo.html It isn't an unpublished price through an agent. It's on Star Clippers US website under Specials. I'm not sure why, but I had trouble getting the US website to open and kept getting the British website the other day if I just typed in www.starclippers.com and I didn't know what to put in to force the US site (/us-dom). Sounds like that's what's happening for you. The British website doesn't have a specials page that I could find. They have a similar sale for some Bali sailings. They only show the specials on a separate page, they don't show them on the page with the cruise details. I guess they are willing to have people buy it at full price that don't consult the specials? Or, giving the benefit of the doubt, there are other specials you can choose if you pay full price (currently there is a 3-day complementary land package or air credit). For $835 you can get a Cat 5 instead of a Cat 6 and some of those are outside and regular beds, not bunk. Or $935 for Cat 4. I'm going on one of the Phuket sailings under the no solo supplement sale. The BOGO sale doesn't do me any good as my husband isn't interested in this trip, but if I like it, another time he may come along.
  16. new_cruiser

    Convincing people to cruise

    Sometimes one can find a good deal on a small ship cruise - though not to places quite as exotic as the Arctic or Antarctic. Star Clipper currently has some departures for island hopping round trips out of Phuket, Thailand for half price. 7 nights for $700 pp (for the whole cruise, not per day) for the lowest cabin category, or ~$1000 for a mid-range category.
  17. new_cruiser

    Convincing people to cruise

    None of that would appeal to me as a reason to take a cruise. I don't particularly desire non-stop activity and when I want activity, I have no problem finding it on any type of vacation that I take. I've not had trouble getting my food needs met on any travel (and I'd rather have nice amounts of really good food than an abundance of calorie heavy so-so food). The couple of times I've cruised on a large ship, I've enjoyed the evening entertainment, but I can take it or leave it - it doesn't make the vacation for me. Mostly, I like to cruise on small ships (~300 or fewer passengers) that don't bombard me with noise, that don't have lines, that have quality food, that get into small interesting ports and have plenty of places to relax on board. You might think about what types of things they like rather than what appeals to you about cruising. But even if they find something in cruising that they like, it might not be the kind of cruise that you like to take. Perhaps they might like to take a Panama Canal cruise to see that piece of history/technology. But perhaps the typical Panama Canal trip has too many sea days to interest them for a first cruise. There are small ship Panama Canal cruises that go from Panama to Costa Rica so that there are ports most days.
  18. new_cruiser

    International Flights and layovers

    Apparently, an "8" followed immediately by a ")" gets converted to 😎. "(terminal 7 or 😎" was supposed to be parenthesis around "terminal 7 or 8"
  19. new_cruiser

    International Flights and layovers

    If you change planes coming back to the US from overseas, you will have to go through immigration, collect your checked bags (if any) from the carousel, go through customs after which you drop your checked bags onto the conveyor and then back through security. Even with Global Entry, I like to have 2 hours for that (though in some more compact airports I will shave it a bit tighter). I don't know of any US airports that have in-transit areas that allow you to stay behind security. In Europe and Asia, many airports do have in portions (where you go between international flights without ever officially entering the country). In the EU, transferring from a flight coming into the EU to another flight going within the EU (e.g. coming into Munich from the US to get a flight going to Italy), you go through immigration and customs without picking up your checked bags so I've done that without going through security again. (Frankfurt airport is kind of unpredictable on whether you go through security again - sometimes going from one gate area to another you come to a place where you have to go through security other times you transfer without hitting a security line.) I've flown internationally for work a lot too. I'm often comfortable with 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the airport - more for Frankfurt because it's huge and often a zoo. I'd go longer if it's a route without many options for getting an alternate flight if you miss your connection. Also, I like longer (even for a domestic transfer) if coming in on a short flight on a small plane though it sounds like that doesn't apply to the OP's routes. When there are airport capacity issues, they often will delay those. E.g. San Francisco in some visibility conditions can't handle it's full load and they will delay the flights coming from the West Coast where they can hold planes on the ground instead of having planes circle in the air. I've had the same happen when I had a flight from Dulles to Newark to connect to an international flight. Terminals the International terminal and terminals 4 through 8 in LAX have behind security connections. So you can go between those without going through security if you arrive domestically. https://www.flylax.com/en/inter-terminal-connections I've done that to go from United (terminal 7 or 😎 to the international terminal. It is a long walk and kind of meandering as in some places it is toward the front of the concourse and some places it is mid-concourse, underground some places and above ground others. There is no people mover option. But if you want transport, the choice is to go out of security to get the between terminal shuttle bus that goes through the very heavy terminal traffic around the U shaped terminal road. IMO, if you are able-bodied, the long walk is preferable. LAX has 9 terminals (eight numbered ones plus the international one). LAX is one of my least favorite airports for transferring - especially between airlines but even within United the gates are quite spread out. Bottom line: Even if you allow for longer connections, stuff can happen. Internationally, I'd rather fly in at least a couple of days ahead if at all possible.
  20. new_cruiser

    Locks tour from Colon Panama pier

    The Mira Flores Visitor Center has a museum about the locks (both old and new). The Agua Clara Visitor Center doesn't have a museum. It does have a short movie and there is a restaurant. If you want to see a ship go through a lock, you may need to spend quite a while there. Since the ship will be huge, it moves very very slowly into the lock. There may or may not be a ship going through while you are at the lock. (Does anyone know of a place on-line to check for what's scheduled to go through?) We were there long enough to see a ship move into the lock, but had to leave before it really started to empty.
  21. new_cruiser

    What's wrong with this cruise?

    Yup, that's right. Japan doesn't do DST. Japan is 16 or 17 hours ahead of California time, but I find it easier to subtract 8 hours and add a day to figure it out in my head.
  22. new_cruiser

    What's wrong with this cruise?

    When I crossed the date line going east, the cruise was marked as 13 days which matched the number of calendar days. The day that we had twice meant that we really had 14 nights during the cruise (but some of the days were 23 hour days due to the clock changes). It looks like they are doing the same thing but since the cruise is going the West, you lose a day crossing the date line and there will be one less actual night/day than calendar day (but time changes make some of the days 25 hours). The line I was on did the same thing on the crossing the other way. (Like many lines, the line I was cruising doesn't count the first day in the days of the cruise, e.g. if a cruise started on the 2nd and ended on the 9th, they call it a 7-day cruise, not 8-days. A 7-day cruise has seven nights. This seems to be common in the cruise industry though land vacations usually do it the other way where the starting day is Day 1 and a 7-day tour has 6 nights. I've even seen at least one cruise line that counts days for its Alaska cruises in the usual cruise way, but it's Alaska cruise-tours the land way. The cruise line above seems to be using the land convention for counting the days and makes it clear by also including the night.)
  23. new_cruiser

    Question on Gloves

    I wore wool fingerless mitten gloves for kayaking and other outings in Alaska. Waterproof gloves might be ideal, but I have short fingers and have never been able to find ones that fit my hands without having about half a finger of the glove past where my finger ends. That makes them too awkward to use. Wool is elastic enough to fit my hand more comfortably. It shed most of the water and retains heat even if it gets a bit wet so my hands never felt cold. I was cruising in May. It was cold and, despite May being statistically drier, we had rain most days. Mine are like this: https://www.amazon.com/Adorrable-Fingerless-Crochet-Convertible-Knitted/dp/B01N2WGNOG/ref=sr_1_1?s=apparel&srs=15605860011&ie=UTF8&qid=1549055991&sr=1-1&nodeID=7141123011&psd=1 I've had a couple of pairs of supposedly touchscreen compatible gloves (not Sensatec but a different brand). They work great when they are new, but apparently the conductive elements that make them work break down. They stopped working in less than a season. Reviews of various brands on line had similar complaints so I've given up on them. Fingerless mitten gloves (convertible gloves) have a mitten top that flips over the fingers and can be flipped back to use fingertips on a touch screen. If you go the wool route, you might want to take two pairs. There were a couple of times when mind hadn't dried out enough and I had to hit them with the hair drier for a bit.
  24. new_cruiser

    Cruise ideas for 56 yr old newly widowed female

    Condolences on your loss. I don't have specific advice for you because I usually cruise on small ships, but there is a board here dedicated to solo cruising: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/279-solo-cruisers/ It even has a thread where people post solo bargains. While one often has to pay double or nearly double the double occupancy rate to cruise solo, there are sometimes specials where the solo supplement is reduced or waived entirely. Often these are last minute deals to fill the ship but sometimes there are ones farther out. There are also some ships with single person rooms.
  25. new_cruiser

    Differences between a cruise in Asia and the Caribbean

    People haven't said much about the weather differences. Asia is a pretty large area. Some parts are in the tropics like much of the Caribbean but other areas are in the subtropics or temperate regions. I did a spring time cruise with Windstar with several ports in Japan going north from Yokohama before crossing to Alaska. In this case, all the Japan ports were located in towns and it was easy to get to the tourist areas in town on your own if you didn't want to do an excursion. The weather was fairly cool, often overcast. It was more like cruising in Europe or New England / Canada or even Alaska. It isn't a trip for relaxing on beaches and playing in the water - too cold for that. It is about seeing interesting sites (e.g. Goryokaku Fort), nature (volcanoes, national parks) and different cultures. It was much more similar to the spring time cruise we did from Lisbon to Barcelona (too early in the year for sunning on the beach even in the ports with beaches). On Windstar, the passenger mix was pretty much the same as my other Windstar cruises - mostly US, Canada, UK and Australians. I've booked a cruise out of Phuket on Star Clipper in April. This is a small ship and doesn't need an official port. I expect that will be more like a Caribbean cruise. Most of the stops are small islands. This is a trip for enjoying the beaches and playing in the water. They don't need a formal port, I expect many of the stops to be wet landings where you go from the tender into shallow water at the beach.