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Everything posted by new_cruiser

  1. Just a heads up - My husband and I each received a letter from Windstar to verify their records of our past cruises. The form states the number of cruises and number of days they found in their records and has a place for you to enter corrected amounts and details. This is to prepare for rolling out an enhanced loyalty program, something that John Delaney said they plan to announce by the end of the year. In our case, the numbers they sent reflected our recent cruises (2017 through 2019) but didn't include cruises from 2004 and 2005; so if you are a long time customer, you may ne
  2. You can find info on plans in your area at medicare.gov including prices. https://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/#/?lang=en Also, there is a program called SHIP where volunteers provide free counseling to help seniors with choosing plans. https://www.seniorsresourceguide.com/directories/National/SHIP/ Right now they may be very busy because of open enrollment for next year's plans so it might be easier in January.
  3. Whether Medicare Advantage is good depends on the particular Medicare Advantage plan. By "regular Medicare," I assume you mean a Medigap plan (aka Medicare Supplement plan) plus a Medicare Part D plan for drugs. We were covered by Kaiser before starting Medicare and were happy with it so we chose a Kaiser Medicare Advantage plan. We've been happy with the doctors and treatment there. We like that they have all the records electronic so all the doctors have the full record of all tests and treatments to work from. They pretty much let the doctors make treatment decisions without ha
  4. You didn't ask, but the following might be helpful. You probably already know that in general there is a penalty of higher Medicare Part B premiums in most cases if you sign up after you are 65, but you can delay starting Part B if you are covered by a employee medical plan (it has to be one you or your spouse get as an active employee; retiree and Cobra plans don't count). While you are covered and up to 8 months after coverage ends, you have a Special Enrollment Period to sign up without a late enrollment penalty. We delayed signing up for Medicare while I was covere
  5. Perhaps you bunched up so much travel that you need a break from it. From your description, it sounds like you've averaged around one trip a month. After you take a break, you might find that you are interested in traveling again. My desire to travel has remained about constant since I retired a year and a half ago, but I'm only planning 2 or 3 trips a year of around two weeks to a month long. I'd like to start adding in some shorter local trips.
  6. According to cruisemapper, she's pretty well on her way from Europe to the Caribbean. I doubt that they'd go so far for a shake down cruise so I expect she is on her way. Guesstimating, it looks like she'll make it to Colon on time. https://www.cruisemapper.com/?imo=8420878
  7. Windstar has an open bridge policy - meaning that the bridge is open to visiting most of the time at sea. It isn't open when going into and out of port and might be closed if there is some tricky situation (weather or navigation) such that they need to minimize distraction. When the bridge is open, you just go to the door and go in; no tour or prior arrangement needed. On the trans-Pacific cruise, there were sometimes activities on the bridge such as rope tying class or an explanation of navigation. Star Clippers also has an open bridge policy and you can even get a chance to take
  8. The hospital that treated me in Thailand provided all the documentation in English. I didn't have to insist - they provided a package with all the medical records and expense details including a disk with the X-rays as part of the normal check out process. Perhaps they are very professional on the documentation because of experience with medical tourism. We have had out of area emergency treatment twice. Once for my husband in the US and the broken wrist in Thailand for me. In both case, our provider handled reimbursement very smoothly. We sent the claim in with the documentation
  9. 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.
  10. 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
  11. 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."
  12. 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
  13. That is simply untrue. Studies show that Picardin & DEET are equally effective.
  14. 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 fortunat
  15. 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.
  16. 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 adva
  17. "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
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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 ener
  24. 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.
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