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Everything posted by new_cruiser

  1. I replied above about the guide we used. If it leaves at 5 PM, you can board starting about 1 PM and probably should plan on being aboard by 4 PM.
  2. Based on a recommendation by sb44, we contacted Vincent Scott (phone is +50766547771 email vscott03@gmail.com) about transportation from Panama City to Colon. He picked us up from our hotel and drove us to Portobello to see the customs house (the Caribbean end of the route that the Spanish used for moving gold from the Pacific to the Caribbean through Panama), fortifications and church. There was some time left before we needed to be on the ship we took the car ferry to see the land side of the Gatun dam than back on the car ferry to Colon 2000 to board the ship. The price for the two of us was only slightly more than the Windstar transfer so we felt it was good value. We also did an evening walking tour of Casco Viejo with him the evening before. Vincent was excellent. He also does other tours so if there is something that interests you particularly such as visiting the canal visitor center, you could ask about that. For Sb44, he picked them up in Colon and did a tour of Panama City before dropping them at their hotel.
  3. I think they may not have understood the question. I doubt that they will pay for your transportation from Mexico back to the US. They may be talking about just the medical expenses. It is there in the response you received: "eligible expenses."
  4. When I broke my wrist in Thailand, I had to pay upfront for medical care (surgery plus 3 days hospital stay for IV antibiotics because it was an open fracture). I had primary coverage from my Medicare Advantage plan and secondary coverage from travel insurance, but I had to pay the hospital and file a claim for reimbursement. The initial charge was around $12,000 but some of that was refunded as the final bill came to about $11,000. Medicare plans aren't required to provide international emergency coverage - some do and some don't so as Flatbush Flyer says, you have to check with your plan. Mine (Kaiser Permante) does. I filed a claim when I got home and they sent a check covering all but the $500 hospital co-pay that I'd had to have paid if the injury was treated by them. I'd submitted all the documentation from the Thai hospital with the claim and insurance paid pretty promptly - within a few weeks. It's not just the immediate medical evacuation (i.e. from where you were injured to where you are treated) that travel insurance covers. It is also extra costs to travel home afterward: e.g.; new flights, sometimes increased travel costs (someone on a trip I was on had a knee replacement fail and their travel insurance paid for first class flights home to accommodate the injury), paying for someone to accompany you if medically necessary. None of these are covered by any medical insurance plan I've seen. In my case, I called United from the hospital to let them know I wouldn't be able to make my original flight and later called to rebook my flights. They nicely waived change fees and fare increases for the new flights. So my travel insurance provider got off pretty lightly.
  5. That is simply untrue. Studies show that Picardin & DEET are equally effective.
  6. Picardin and DEET are both effective insect repellents. The differences are: Picardin doesn't have any significant smell to humans so it doesn't need to have a strong scent to cover it up - DEET does hence products with annoying scents. Picardin doesn't feel greasy Picardin doesn't harm plastic, DEET can damage plastics so you have to be careful to keep it away from them when you apply. Picardin can be harder to find in the US because DEET is more well known. REI carries Sawyer products that use Picardin. I forgot to pack insect repellent for our Alaska trip but fortunately we started off in Vancouver and it was easy to find Picardin there.
  7. Depends on the store policy. If it was from Best Buy and within refund and exchange period, you can go to the store and get the difference under their price match guarantee policy. So if it was within the time when the TV was returnable, I would expect them to comply with their policy, just as I would expect Windstar to comply with their policy. Windstar policy is to make adjustments (fare reduction, upgrade or OBC) if their is a price drop up to 90 days in advance. When there is a drop less than 90 days before the cruise, I wouldn't expect a price adjustment.
  8. Windstar has a 90-day price assurance policy. I think that's pretty reasonable. Those who book last minute have to take the categories and cabin locations that are left. Prices might go up instead of dropping so waiting to book last minute only works when you are willing to take or leave the cruise depending on whether price goes up or down and leave other arrangements to the last minute too. Our Panama Canal and Costa Rica cruise last January had a last minute price drop too. We had already gotten fare reductions for a couple of price drops that occurred more than 90-days in advance. I didn't feel bad about not getting the last price reduction.
  9. "Will get wet" is a little strong. Of course your feet get wet in the process of landing but the rest of you might get wet. If the water is very rough or the zodiacs go at high speed you might get wet from the splashes. On our Panama-Costa Rica trip, the waves weren't high and the distance was short so the Zodiacs didn't go at a splashy high speed. My top and shorts didn't get wet. We wore water shoes, but plenty of other passengers went barefoot. The landing areas were sandy or very small pebbles, not rocky. Best is a closed water shoe or barefoot. The water shoes I brought were sandals - sometimes a lot of large sand / small pebbles washed into the sandals which isn't very comfortable. On the zodiacs in Alaska, it was often raining and we also sometimes had water splashing into the boat. Of course there we were wearing water-proof pants (which Windstar provides) and waterproof jackets/shells.
  10. Last year at some point my browser would only pull up the UK site even though I'm in the US and I noticed it doesn't have a specials page.
  11. I was on Star Clipper round trip out of Phuket - Southern Phuket Island. They have the no-solo-supplement on that and other Phuket itineraries now too. It seems like there are almost always no solo supplement offers on the specials page.
  12. I was on Star Clipper last April on one of the sailings with no solo supplement. It's not part of their regular pricing structure - it was a special that only applied to certain dates. Definitely the same price as the per person rate for two in a room at the time that I booked. There were a lot of solo passengers on the cruise.
  13. They do have some really tempting last minute deals right now. We did Panama and Costa Rica last year and are already booked for 14 days in January, but I'm tempted by one of the November San Juan itineraries.
  14. The best stop for spotting wildlife was Manuel Antonio Park. I did the Windstar tour. We split into two groups of around a dozen each with a guide. The guides were great at spotting wildlife. From Peurto Jimenez, you can go to Matapalo for a hike with a lot of bird spotting. We even saw a pair of Macaws mating. Isla Parida is the beach BBQ day. There is a short hike available there where you may spot some birds, but it's mostly a beach day.
  15. I also bring a small Euro plug adapter so that we can use both the Euro and US outlets. Electronics devices use a power supply to change line voltage (110 or 220 volts) to the lower voltage (e.g. 5 volts) to supply electronics. It's not a big deal to make a modern power supply efficiently work from both voltage ranges so almost all electronics (e.g. USB power outlets, laptop chargers, camera chargers, etc.) adjust automatically. Things that produce heat take more power and don't use a power supply. A typical hair dryer has wire coils with high resistance that change electrical energy to heat so it can't automatically adapt to using twice the power. A dual voltage hair dryer has two wire coils. In 110 volt mode, the power is applied to one coil for the low setting and two both coils in series for the high setting. When you move the switch to 220 volt mode, the switch changes the connections so the two coils are in series so each coil still has 110 volt drop across it and you only have the high heat setting.
  16. People should cover their mouths, but sneezing and coughing aren't necessarily due to having something catching. I have mild allergies (hay fever) and they sometimes cause sneezing. Sometimes when I've had a cold, coughing can persist long after the cold is gone because the air passages get sensitive and it takes a while to go away. Strong scents can bring on sneezing and sometimes even coughing for me - in elevators one may be trapped with those scents.
  17. That's not precisely true. At least some cruise lines have volume incentives for TAs that sell a lot of their cruises. It may be commission incentives or perks that they can pass on to clients. I deal with a TA I found on line through a site where you put in a request for a specific cruise & TAs can respond with their offer. We usually cruise on small ship lines & I don't know of any local TAs that do much of that business. I haven't had any problems in a foreign port that I needed TA help with, but I have had pre-cruise issues and the TA has been extremely responsive resolving them. E.g. the cruise line messed up our cabin assignment and the TA got that corrected (not back to the original but to one in the area we wanted). They also got the cruise line to compensate us with the laundry package. Also they've been responsive about getting us price drops. FWIW, the agency we are dealing with is brick & mortar somewhere, not one of the huge ones, but they belong to some consortium because one cruise some of the OBC came from the consortium. I guess that's a way smaller agencies can band together to get volume deals from the cruise lines.
  18. We have Kaiser Senior Advantage too. The 90-day mail order supply that they send for pills that I take once per day is 100 pills (I guess to allow you to be imperfect and sometimes drop a pill on the floor and discard it). Plus they allow refill a bit earlier than 90 days so it's never been a problem to have enough extra for a trip.
  19. That may be how they get the info for sending the summons for jury duty, but you have to be a citizen to be qualified to serve on a federal jury: https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service/juror-qualifications The same is true for California juries - I don't know about other states. https://www.courts.ca.gov/juryservice.htm When you get the a California jury duty summons, there is a form to send back if you don't qualify, have a reason that excuses you from service or need a change of dates. One of the reasons for not qualifying is not being a citizen. I agree that being a citizen doesn't mean you are a good or even a safe person. The ID just provides a (hopefully) hard to falsify way to verify that you are the person you say you are. After that, other measures such as checking against no-fly lists to see if the person with that identity is known to be a risk.
  20. I used to prefer Deck 1 on the sailing ships because it's fine saw no reason to pay more to be on Deck 2, but now that my knees are a bit older, I like the convenience of being on Deck 2. It's nice being one deck closer to dining and the open deck especially at the end of the day. While in theory there will be less motion on Deck 1 than Deck 2, it isn't enough of a difference to be noticeable to me.
  21. It isn't just juries. There are defendants and witnesses -people who may be compelled to be at the courthouse because they are involved in the case but might not have Real ID. At least anyone summoned for a jury should be a citizen and therefore at least able to get a real ID. Defendants and witnesses may not be citizens or legal residents and therefore not able to get a Real ID and they might not have a suitable ID from another country. Not sure how that's going to be handled.
  22. When they run you through alternative screening, that probably will include looking up your DMV record so once they've done that, they will know whether the missing license/ID was a Real-ID license/ID. However, thinking about Day 1 of the requirement - there will be people who flew out-of-state in Sept 2020 so they are out-of-state wanting to fly home on or after Oct 2020. Not sure how that will be handled. Do they have to take the train/bus to get home? My son lost his DL while away at college in another state so we checked and there is no way to even get a replacement license without showing up in person at the DMV. (He either found it and, if he hadn't, could have used his passport.) I hope that most students attending college out of state will realize that they need to get a real-ID license before they leave for school in Fall 2020 if they want to fly home.
  23. Apparently we don't know that yet. The news report I just read said she didn't have ID or a boarding pass when she was on the plane. We don't know if she had an ID and a boarding pass (or alternative) when she was screened. There are some alternatives to a boarding pass that can get you through TSA. E.g. you are standby on a flight so instead of a boarding pass you have something similar that says you are standby. I've had that when a canceled flight meant that I had to stay overnight someplace and try to get on another flight standby the next day. Parents (or other adults) escorting an "unescorted minor" to the gate so they can start their trip or picking up an unescorted minor at the gate. And of course all the airport workers who don't have boarding passes get in without one. I'm surprised that the person got on the plane without a boarding pass. I've boarded a lot of flights, dozens per year, and usually the gate staff is pretty good - you can't walk by them without scanning a boarding pass. I guess anything can happen once.
  24. I've never gone through them personally, but from what others have experienced, the alternative procedures are very time consuming. There has to be some way for a person to board if, for example, they are away from home and their wallet gets stolen so they have no ID, but in that case, the person can realize that they need to show up to the airport early for an extended procedure. If someone showed up without a RealID or passport because they didn't know that the old type of driver's license wasn't going to cut it anymore, they probably wouldn't have enough time to make their flight with the alternative process. From people who have been through it, I've heard it can take like an hour (off in a side interview room, not in the regular line). It can involve the kind of questions where some service supplies facts about you and you have to supply the answers (similar to verifying who you are for some kinds of on-line services). Basically, they go through alternative ways of verifying that you are who you say you are. It isn't something that any one with any sense would do just for the heck of it. Edited to add, I don't know if they'd even allow the alternative procedure to be used for someone who didn't bring the right ID because they hadn't gotten the right kind of license. That's not the same as the hardship reason of being away from home and having a lost/stolen ID.
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