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Everything posted by shepp

  1. Never heard about a campaign. They never contacted me. Did they you?
  2. Vallarta Adventures also books its dolphin activities online, where you can - unsurprisingly - pay a lot less than you would to Princess for doing exactly the same thing. Unfortunately, their exclusivity clause means that if they know you're on Princess, they won't take your money. I guess you could lie to them and say you're staying at a hotel. Better yet, book through Princess and try PCL's price match guarantee. I always wanted to do the dolphin swim but my animal-rights husband nixed the idea. Oh well, he has compensatory virtues.
  3. The new Condé Nast Traveler Readers' Choice Awards are out and, rather surprisingly, in the large ship (2500 to 4000 pax) category Princess is number 2, behind Disney but comfortably ahead of perennial favorite Celebrity (at #6). In the medium ship category PCL lags behind bunch of luxury lines and Disney but still outranks Azamara, RCI, HAL and X. Yeah, it's just a popularity contest and CN Traveler appeals to a niche market, but it's still nice to see. After all, in Cruise Critic polls Princess often trails Carnival and NCL and Celebrity gets all the glory. Looks like the Royal class is a hit. I do wonder why X didn't score well: gone down in quality? Or maybe the folks in Santa Clarita bought votes? (Just kidding.) Anyway, congrats to you all for being such discerning travelers.
  4. Point taken. The OP referred to "the Captain's Circle cocktail party," which I took to be different from "the Platinum/Elite Lounge." On the other hand, I've never/next to never had my card checked for entry to the lounge.
  5. Actually, I did win the champers once; it was, as I recall, at least better than the swill they give as a trivia prize. I've been on several cruises where a friend was one of the three Most Traveled, and it's fun to see them recognized. But even they get blasé after multiple awards. And the last Captain's Circle party was where we found out that there would be a replacement for the Grand home-ported in San Francisco, which I guess was worth the trip to the Vista Lounge.
  6. They've never checked my cruise card, but they always take each individual's invitation at the door. (I don't know how that works for most married couples, as my husband and I have different surnames and each get an invite.) I don't even know if "He's my husband" would get someone without an invite through, though I can't realistically imagine it wouldn't. Still, I can't imagine anyone would be so desperate for a free drink and mediocre hors d'oeuvres that they'd try and sleaze in.
  7. Past pax: On previous cruises up the Amazon, was the wi-fi at least acceptable most of the way? Worth getting the cruise-long package, or just a waste of money?
  8. Thing is, that kind of rental wouldn't come cheap. A Budget rental from the Embarcadero office returned to SFO would be around two hundred bucks for the day, and that doesn't include gas or the cost and considerable hassle of finding parking. For that kind of money they could Uber everywhere, grab a taxi to the airport, and still have cash left over. (And not have to deal with driving around the City at rush hour.) If they wanted to spend time in Golden Gate Park and drive to the Bridge, even to Sausalito, a rental might make good sense. But if they want to see Chinatown, the Wharf, the Cable Car, and other tourist hotspots, less so. I just checked the Pier 39 Welcome Center and it unfortunately closes at 7. They'd have to pick up checked luggage by then.
  9. I will say that if you've never done the Chef's Table, you're missing out.
  10. I stand corrected. The only thing I wonder about is whether the local provider has an exclusivity deal with Princess, or whether it's possible to book when you're arriving on Princess. On my upcoming Amazon cruise, I booked a tour with an operator who'll book HAL pax but passengers on most other lines have to book the very same tour through the ship. (For, I assume, more money.) Both times I was at ISP I booked ship's tours, so didn't do research on independent options.
  11. I'd beg to differ here. I totally support the port making money for the tribe. But at most ports, you can shop around and use locally owned operations for a variety of excursions and activities. At ISP, there's a virtual monopoly. Pretty much you book through excursions through the ship or not at all. So in fact maybe 20% of the dollars you spent on your excursion actually went straight into the corporate coffers in Santa Clarita. And if you don't want to spring for a Princess excursion, there's little you can do in port. Second time I was there, I did the ridiculously expensive zip line as a special treat, then felt ripped off. No one is forced to shop at Diamonds International, anywhere. But at ISP, your options are limited.
  12. That plan has, of course, precisely nothing to do with socialism. Not even in SoCal.
  13. That would still leave the OP with many hours to kill at SFO. And Sausalito is nice enough, but not what people think of when they imagine San Francisco. (OK, you do see the Bridge, but that route puts you on the bus through boring neighborhoods for a large proportion of the time.) A better plan might be to store their luggage at the nearby (Uber-able) Pier 39 welcome center (not sure about the hours), then either grab a HOHO bus to show them around or get a Muni bus pass for the day. Grab a taxi to a museum or two. Or they could just hang around the tourist stuff at the Wharf. Then pick up the bags and a take a SuperShuttle, rideshare, or BART to SFO. It does require some coordination and a bit of effort, but that's what I'd do if I had a day to kill and had never been here before.
  14. I can't even figure out how that would work. AFAIK, standard gratuities are pooled, then paid out. It's not like ATD waiters get paid based on how many people they serve.
  15. Hmmm. Most cruises don't stop at Haines, but when were there we rented a car, easily drove to a little dam where the salmon got backed up, and the bears were right there across the road, chomping away. I assume that's a seasonal thing. Maybe other people have better suggestions?
  16. Many of the downtown agencies have very restricted hours, though, and are often a lot pricier than the airport locations. Plus, using a downtown agency means you have to get downtown in the first place. Assuming the OP is heading out as soon as they arrive and can handle their luggage, picking the car up at the airport, dropping it back there, and BARTing to the Embarcadero is the most cost-effective route and not at all difficult.
  17. Maybe you've been lucky? Maybe more people feel like they can afford cruising now? The way the stock market is going, maybe more cabins will become available soon?
  18. I've booked an inside on an Antarctica cruise a full 15 months from now. As of today, insides are completely sold out. Takeaway: lower-priced options on desirable cruises go fast.
  19. Might one inquire why Icy Straight Point is important to you? I've been on five Alaska cruises, including two that stopped there, and IMO compared to other ports it's just meh. It's a place specially created for cruise tourists; unless you go on the utterly overpriced zipline or take a pricey ship's excursion, there's nothing there, really, except a pleasant walking path and a reconstructed cannery. Anyway, as many of us are only too eager to tell you, the Coral is nicer than the butchered Island, especially if you have an inside and are dependent on the ship's public outdoor viewing spots. And as far as "unfair": Princess is a business. Businesses aren't fair, especially to those they stand to profit least from.
  20. Indeed. I'm fortunate to have first-rate medical insurance that covers me fully while abroad, so my circumstance is rather different. One thing that's happened, though, is that that same HMO used to cover medical evacuation but post-Medicare-age no longer does. Should I have an unlikely crisis, I'm not sure what effect the "preexisting" clause would have on evacuation coverage.The real joker in the pack is this lookback stipulation: "or has symptoms causing a person to seek diagnosis, care or treatment." Like I said. my condition is very stable, but if I'd called my symptom management nurse and asked for advice on, say, dealing with increased pain, would the insurer then be able to refuse payment? Every time I research travel insurance, I get a headache. Hey, maybe I shouldn't say that in public?
  21. shepp


    Princess also used to put their Alfredo in parmesan bowls and offer decent trivia prizes. Oh, for a time machine.... We have no idea what the poster paid for the inside. Assuming we're talking about the December 7th sailing, current rate for the cheapest inside is $698 pp, for the cheapest balcony $1198 (and we have no idea which balcony cabin was on offer). So that's a difference of at least 500 bucks, or twice what the upsell offer was. Essentially, it's "pay for an upgrade to an OV and you get a balcony." Is it the greatest upsell offer ever? No. Is it outrageous? Most of us would say no. (Especially since the poster had already expressed an interest in buying an upgrade to OV.) The first time I sailed a TA on the Royal, I got a comp upgrade from inside to balcony. The second, I was offered an inside-to-balcony for $300, which I jumped on. Would I rather have gotten another freebie? Sure. But then, I still miss the parmesan bowls, too.
  22. That's one nice thing about Princess Vacation Protection: The 100% cancel for any reason dealie. I'm dealing with stage IV cancer, and right now I'm in great shape and very stable, on the same meds I've been on for over a year. But I'm never sure how I'm going to be feeling as cruise time approaches. CFAR gives me protection if I just don't feel up to it. (Also, PVP rates aren't linked to age, which matters to those of us, ahem, getting up in years.) I'm going on a HAL cruise in two weeks, and took their cruise line insurance for pretty much the same reason, but though their cancel-for-any-reason clause pays off in cash, their premium version only repays 90% of the fare.
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