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Everything posted by new_cruiser

  1. I've not had that happen. On a recent trip, I was traveling with my granddaughter. I went through the regular line to stay with her and it wasn't questioned.
  2. I was able to schedule my global entry interview appointment at Chicago when I had a trip there. If you will be traveling to any place doing global entry interviews, you can check for appointments there. I've also seen the signs when arriving at SFO on an international flight saying you can do a drop-in interview on arrival so that's another option. When my husband had his global entry interview, appointments at SFO were several months out. He checked other nearby (within an hour or so flying time) airports and found Las Vegas had good availability. So he booked cheap round trip flights to fit the appointment and did a day-trip to Las Vegas for the interview. Without traffic, we are around a 2 hour drive to SFO but traffic often makes the trip much longer so it didn't even take much more time than he would have had to allow if he'd had an appointment at SFO. On cheap Southwest Airlines flights, it didn't even add much cost compared to the round trip mileage cost of driving to SFO.
  3. I'd do the cruise out of San Juan. Most week long cruises out of Florida start on a Saturday or Sunday so they are synchronized hitting the Caribbean ports mid-week on the same day as a bunch of other ships making for very crowded ports. Fewer ships leave from San Juan and usually they visit the common ports at the start or end of the cruise. For example, the Fascination itinerary is in St. Thomas on day 2, a Monday, when the port should be less crowded.
  4. I travel with a waterproof breathable rain shell just about always.
  5. The regular cabins on Wind Surf are smaller than the regular (almost all) cabins on the motor yachts. Wind Surf has a bunch of suite cabins which as Ski Mom said, are double size cabins so they are 376 square feet. The regular motor yacht cabins are 277 square feet. They are reducing the number of suites on Wind Surf after the renovation, but the new deck plan still shows 18 of them.
  6. It is kind of a moot point anyway if you want a full transit. Wind Surf has one upcoming partial transit. It doesn't have any full transits scheduled. But there are two sizes of sail yachts. The motor yachts are currently 9975 tons; Wind Surf is 14,745 tons so that sail yacht is larger than the motor yachts. Even after the stretch, I expect Wind Surf will be larger than the motor yachts.
  7. I forgot - also a couple of European to US plug converters. The line we usually travel on has some outlets in pairs one with a US plug and one with a European plug (two round prongs) so having the converters doubles the available outlets. Most modern electronics operate from 110 or 220 so you just need something that converts the outlet shape. https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AZ9BIKG
  8. I use my phone and would never bother to take a clock. It can be wise to go into the clock settings on the phone and disable automatic date and time settings. Sometimes on a cruise ship, it picks up a time other than the local time. For example, I have had it pick up UTC (apparently the on board network was providing that as the network time). So, I manually update the time for time zone changes and don't let it use network time on cruise ships. I'd recommend a two port USB wall charger. Something like this one with plug prongs that fold in for compact packing and that outputs at least 2 Amps per port for fast charging: https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07RGPVNWM/ref=emc_b_5_t Also two external batteries with at least 10000 mAh each (that's 10 Ah, but the ratings usually show the units as mAh). Each one will provide at least a couple of phone recharges or one tablet recharge. Having two provides one for using during the day and charging at night and one plugged into the phone on the nightstand at night and charging during the day in case there is no outlet near the nightstand. (Note, if flying to your port, these are required to be in carry on, not checked luggage.) https://smile.amazon.com/Anker-PowerCore-Ultra-Compact-High-Speed-Technology/dp/B0194WDVHI I never use built in charging ports because they often are disappointing. They can be older providing lower power outlet so they charge things very slowly or even can't keep up with the power draw of newer devices. Or not well maintained. Plus there is always the security concern about whether they might try to access data on the device. So I prefer to use a wall charger I bring to provide USB outlets.
  9. It has been a few years since Star Legend has done a trans-Atlantic crossing as the last couple of years it has wintered in Asia and summered in Alaska. I did a trans-Pacific on it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Very relaxing and casual. There were more crew aboard than passengers for the crossing. We had a lecturer who had also been on the Asian cruises. He gave two lectures per day most days on Asian history, culture and art (starting with Japan because we started in Japan and had 3 port calls there before the crossing). We also had some of the expedition naturalists on board getting ready for the Alaska cruises so they looked for wild life and gave some talks. There was trivia each day with prizes for the best teams at the end of the cruise. There is a library of DVDs you can check out for viewing in your cabin. The crossing was in May and fairly far to the North compared to the Atlantic crossings - so the weather was mostly cloudy and cool. I'd been warned ahead of time that the seas might be rough, but we lucked out and had really smooth sailing. I stayed on for the first Alaska cruise. There were around 30 people who did the crossing plus that cruise and it was particularly nice to have that base of friends from the crossing on the Alaska cruise.
  10. I've sometimes booked directly with Windstar but more recently through a TA. With the TA, it is similar to what milepig described. I send an email asking what she can do for me on a certain cruise (either asking about a specific category or asking for prices in more than one category). She gets back to me with a quote. Sometimes I ask about a couple of itineraries if we haven't decided yet. Her offer usually includes some OBC. I've found booking directly with Windstar and booking through a TA about as easy. My reasons for usually using a travel agent are: when something has gone wrong with the booking Windstar seems more responsive to the TA and the TA we use usually provides OBC so it is a slightly better deal than the direct booking. One cruise we had booked directly with Windstar just at the time they were changing their booking system. Because of some glitch involved in the change over, the cabin assignment changed to one we considered less desirable. We had no luck with trying to get Windstar to do something about that, but we transferred the booking to a TA. The TA got Windstar to at least through in some OBC to compensate us for their issues.
  11. Only some are on sale. When I go to cruise finder and click Hot Deals, it shows 147 results (compared to 625 for all). My Star Collector (I think the same one Ski Mom is on) isn't on sale. Both of the individual segments of it are on sale, but the current Star Collector price is about 85-90"% of the sum of the two sale prices so the Star Collector is a better deal than the individual segment pricing. I also check each week but this hasn't gone below or even gotten close the the price when I booked in January (which was almost $1000 less than the current price for the category we booked). Of the prior 3 Windstar cruises we took in 2017 to 2019, our 2017 only went up and the other two had significant price drops covered by the price assurance policy. Captivating Caribbean looks like it will be like the 2017 cruise we took.
  12. The only time I've had issues with waiting for tables on Windstar was the first Alaska cruise - it was May, coldish and often drizzling so everyone wanted to be inside on the Veranda & there aren't that many inside tables. They had Amphora open as an alternative for breakfast & lunch due to the weather, but people often preferred to be on Veranda with a view of the scenery. I'm hoping that they will address the issue in the stretch of the triplets. I've not seen a wait for tables on warm weather cruises. Often, I just want a light lunch on board if I don't eat ashore. One or two of the little sandwiches in Yacht Club fill the bill.
  13. I was told that they need a minimum of 10. I'd be interested in someone who does smaller trips - we will be there on a 300 passenger ship (Windstar Wind Surf) so might not make the minimum.
  14. They weren't bad. I did wear mosquito repellent when in the rain forest. I was just there in June and mosquito's were worse then but in January I didn't see any. I use a Picardin based repellent by Sawyer. It is as effective as DEET but not greasy, doesn't smell (at least to humans) and doesn't harm plastics.
  15. We did the same itinerary January 2019. In that case it was on Wind Star - the didn't do the 10-day on the motor yacht last season. Most of the ports are wet landings. There is one port (Bahai Drake, IIRC) where they tender to a dock most of the time though if the tide is very low it can be a wet landing as the water gets to shallow to get to the dock. We used the dock the day we were there. Balboa and Quepos were tender to a dock. All the wet landings were on sandy beaches in shallow water. For a wet landing, it is helpful to have dive booties, water shoes or sandals. We had sandals and sometimes a lot of sand or little rocks washed into the sandals during the process so if I did it again I'd take water shoes or dive booties. Some people just went bare foot - the beaches are either sand or very small pebbles so that works. The wet landings aren't hard to do. If we were doing anything other than hanging out at a beach, we would take walking shoes to change into and something to dry our feet. We loved going through the canal. My favorite excursion was the Manuel Antonio National Park Nature Walk. We saw monkeys, sloths, blue morph butterflies, iguana, basilisk lizards, tent bats and other animals.
  16. Our cruise started in Colon, Panama so we had a similar issue but in the other direction. 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. Vincent was excellent. You probably could do something similar in reverse. 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. Windstar doesn't show it as an excursion on their website, but they usually have a transfer to the hotel they use in Panama City (just a ride there, no site seeing stops on the way). It's mainly for people who have booked the pre- or post-cruise hotel through them but others can take it too. I called Windstar to get the price and confirm which hotel it was running from. The price for the transfer for 2 people was a bit less than what we paid Vincent, but it didn't include any touring and we would have had to pay for a taxi from the Windstar hotel to our hotel.
  17. Yes, when the hospital said I could travel home, the travel insurance had a form for them to fill out. The insurance sent an email from their medical review checking that I wasn't in a full hard cast for the flight. If it was, they said it should have an opening cut to allow for swelling. Years ago, I did fly on a business trip with a full cast a few days after the injury. It was okay though there was some swelling. But that was a minor break with only a little soft tissue damage. Minor enough that I walked on it a day before going to the doctor.
  18. I haven't read all the responses yet, but here's my take. It's based on current experience - I broke my wrist on a cruise bin Thailand in April. It was an open fracture so I had emergency surgery in Thailand. I'm currently finishing a land trip in Costa Rica that was planned before the break. I got my cast off about a week before leaving and just started rehab. The hand and wrist are still pretty disabled due to lack of strength and range of motion. It is my dominant hand, but most one hand things, I could do with the other hand - sometimes awkwardly and usually more slowly. It's the two hand things that are hard to impossible. Videos on line can help with some like how to tie shoes with one hand. There is also still pain some of the time and sometimes it's hard to find a comfortable position to sleep. At home, I was sleeping in a recliner at times. Strange beds & pillows don't help. If this is a bucket list Alaska cruise, I'd cancel and rebook later when the wrist is recovered. There will be a lot of activities you have to skip with a cast. Even with the cast off, but weak hand, I've had to skip some this trip. If it's one of many Alaska trips you'll take, then you might go & just chill and enjoy the scenery and time with friends/family. Another consideration - it's a long recovery process - time in the cast and then months of rehab and healing to get pain free and full function back. Do you want to delay that by delaying the surgery?
  19. I'm not sure of the meaning of "home port." Is it just that cruises embark & debark there or is more implied? One way itineraries between Balboa and Miami could provide full transits on a 7-day itinerary which might be attractive to those who can't get away for the longer full transits. The ships that currently sail out of Colon are ~200 passengers or less. The transit cost for cruise ships is based on passenger count (or maybe capacity). IIRC, the charge for Wind Star was around $35K, so one free transit wouldn't make much difference to canal revenue.
  20. What your TA said doesn't make sense. A "fare reduction" is lowering your price. There was a price drop on our Jan 2018 Panama Canal & Costa Rica between 120 and 90 days and they reduced our fare. The fare dropped some more less than 90 days out but only some categories were available. I didn't mind not getting those drops. We had a cabin where we wanted.
  21. Current price assurance policy is 90 days. It's been that for a while. I think 90 days is pretty reasonable. I have gotten fare reductions for significant amounts - > $1000 - under the policy. Once when the price had gone down such that a balcony would cost a bit less than my prior ocean view fare, I asked my TA to check on upgrading, but the remaining ones were too far forward or aft (part of the cruise was an ocean crossing). So I agree with Host J. Also, I've seen times where the price only goes up.
  22. No problem, I'd meant to include that. I'm on the Costa Rica trip now so I don't have the exact number, but it was around $11,000. This is a very good hospital in Costa Rica for pre-surgery tests, surgery & 3 nights in the hospital. Medicare parts A, B & D don't cover outside the US (other than some exceptions for an emergency in the US where the closest care is in Canada). Some Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans cover international emergency medical care. Mine does and paid the whole bill except for a $500 co-pays (same co-pays as if they had provided the care). "Medicare and You", which you can download from www.medicare.gov , is a good place to start researching your Medicare coverage options, but I think you have to look into each plan to check about international coverage. It wasn't even in the coverage summary for my plan. I verified it by checking online & calling the plan's customer service line.
  23. I'd never go off-ship without some type of government ID. If not my passport, I at least have my driver's license, global entry card or my passport card (not valid for flying internationally but still a valid government ID). I guess you aren't the only one who carries no ID because when we were in Portugal, the guy before me in line at a ticket booth was very put out that they wouldn't give him the senior discount ticket without ID showing his birth date. He did look over 80, but policy at that site was no senior discount without ID. Having an ID can be useful even in cases where it isn't essential. Japan is one of the few countries that requires carrying a passport when you go ashore on port calls. At least that's what the guidance says. When I was there on a Windstar cruise with 3 port calls in Alaska before crossing to Alaska, I don't recall my passport being checked on leaving or returning to the ship.
  24. That's not exactly true. There are small ship cruises that are entirely in Alaska; e.g.: UnCruise, Alaska Dream, Lindblad. No mainstream line cruises begin and end in Alaska. They have one way cruises from Alaska (Seward or Whittier) to Vancouver or vice versa - not Alaska to Seattle or SF because that would be a PVSA issue. Alaska cruises out of Seattle or SF are round trip or occasionally one-way to/from Vancouver.
  25. My TA does that for me. When I see a price drop during the Price assurance time, I drop her an email & she takes care of it. Plus, I get OBC from the TA.
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