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About jsn55

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    san francisco
  • Interests
    horses, water colour, books
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Other than American Cruise Lines which is horrid, I like 'em all.
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Western Europe

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  1. 'Cause it's interesting to learn things and exchange ideas.
  2. Exactly, Nita. I know that I can count on Carol 1000% if trouble arises that I can't deal with properly. Gotta remember that TAs who are cruise experts have access to LOTS of stuff that we don't. Yesterday, Carol's husband was in the hospital and the NCL sale was ending at 5pm my time. Everything about the cruise was perfect for us, and for once perks were offered that would really save us money. I knew I could book whatever and transfer the booking over to her agency. And she's already looking for a "better" cabin that wasn't available on NCL's web. Based on my one phone call to NCL when the guy couldn't even answer a simple question, nor did he give a rip, I'll take a little delay in communication any day. I'm an advocate on Chris Elliott's travel forums, so I'm probably aware of ten times more bad travel stuff that can happen than most travellers! In my mind it's the same thing as doing your own taxes vs a professional. Sure, I could do my taxes on my computer, but I'd much rather pay a pro ... in case of an IRS issue, I do NOT want to have to deal with them.
  3. Well, your TA must add value, and mine does. I never call anyone for anything (except the call I made to NCL yesterday which was infuriating). So emailing my TA with questions and having her come back to me within an hour or so suits me just fine. I do all my own research and my questions are usually minor. Here's a good example: We just sailed on Queen Victoria to Norway and she found a cabin at the same price of all the others that had 20 or 30 more square feet. Once she pointed it out, I could see it o the deck plans, but wouldn't have figured that out for myself.
  4. Most passengers would benefit by using a travel agent who is a cruise expert. They can find you just what you want and tell you the price in a way that is easily understood. Cruise lines pay TAs a nice commission, so it's to your benefit to use their "free" services to help plan a cruise. And TAs often come up with extra goodies. I had no idea how beneficial a TA could be until I met one and she's booked our last 5 cruises. The cost to me is nothing extra, the cruise line pays her agency a commission for my booking.
  5. Well, if you've called and looked online and are getting the same price ... what exactly are you looking for? I just called NCL about a smoking question on their Dawn. The guy didn't know where the areas were and had no interest in finding out. I couldn't believe it. He wasn't rude, he was just stupid.
  6. Thank you Fran! This is exactly what I was looking for. Merci beaucoup.
  7. As far as included shore excursions, I have to remind myself that an ocean cruise generally requires payment for most of them. A river cruise generally has an included SE every day, with options to pay for more. This makes a big difference when it comes to evaluating total costs of the different vacations. I'm still curious where Avalon has docked in Paris in the past, if anyone remembers the location.
  8. We stayed a week up at the Hilton on the hill close to Fisherman's Bastion; it's built into an ancient building. Loved it. The open-top tourist bus came right by, so we were able to go see all the sights and hop off whenever we wanted. I do a lot of research on trips. We ended up at Hiltons in Prague and Budapest because the language was not sticking in my mind at all, I couldn't remember details of hotels more than 2 minutes. I had avoided Hiltons for years because they are all so stark and ugly. But after experiencing the Hilton staff, we became hooked. Hilton has gotta have the best training program in the world.
  9. We're booked on this cruise in 2020. Can someone tell me the general area where Tapestry will be docked in Paris?
  10. We are booked with Viking for November. I am reading all kinds of conflicting info on the Emerald. She is referred to as "leaving the Viking fleet, recently refurbished, needs refurbishment, etc". If anyone has cruised on her in the last year or so, what is her condition? We sailed on a river ship who was changing ownership at the end of our cruise ... there were many unpleasant things and I'd like to avoid that experience. Many thanks for any input.
  11. "The book" lists all the cruises for the 3 queens. Cruise lines publish them every season. Except for Viking, of course, who publishes something three times a day as far as I can tell. I would have used Cunard's website while onboard, but I travel with a little laptop ... she doesn't like the internet much!
  12. It never makes any sense to me to stand in a line to do something I can take care of before boarding. Cunard really does seem to be technology challenged. Once you're booked, just signing into your account is beyond cumbersome. I didn't mind calling, but 3 calls from me and 3 from my travel agent got inaccurate information. Important things like drinks packages or airport transfers need to be bookable on line to avoid mistakes. If we cruise again with Cunard, I will wait until on board if my requests can't be done online. Annoying, but I'm not the type to beat my head against the wall, if they can't hire and train competent agents, I'll deal directly with the ship's personnel. We liked Victoria so much we would have booked another cruise while onboard. But their book uses small off-black print and yellow(!) for the headers. I could barely read it. Cunard doesn't seem to realize that their customers are mostly over 40 and would like to be able to read their book.
  13. You're reminding me about two other factors that tell me that Cunard is taking the route of the airlines in creating as much revenue as possible. Charging extra for the Coke to go with my rum? And the communication factor ... the worst I've ever seen. The drinks package was a joke, nobody knew WTH was going on. They forced me to call rather than buy it online, and that request was done backwards, we ended up with only one drinks package. Nobody on the ship could fix this, they ran me around in circles for almost 24 hours. I have a review in on our cruise that gives a couple of really awful examples. It strikes me that Cunard employees call center people who can't get a job anywhere else. They define clueless. But I'm willing to overlook all that because of the elegance and positive attributes of the other passengers. I understand that Cunard is in the business of making money ... fortunately the power of knowing what's going on allows a passenger to make the situation work. Is it against the rules for you to state what other cruise lines you like? Enjoy springtime in Minnesota!
  14. The drinks package we were offered was close to $1400 for two on a 10-day cruise. I couldn't agree more that Cunard is out for the money. They charge outrageous prices for shore excursions ($59 for a 2-hour walking tour of a small Norwegian town???), refuse to give you any meaningful port information in order to sell these excursions, strongly encourage (tell you it's required) you to pay the $138 drinks package for the first day ... and we didn't board until 5. Who would pay $69 for a glass of champagne and a couple glasses of wine with dinner? Once we boarded, I found out that you could buy the drinks package for the 9 days. Chiselers, I hate chiselers. HOWEVER, the absence of tattoos, loud voices, and people dressed like bums makes Cunard a favorite choice now that we've sailed on QV. Not to mention her elegance, which I reveled in every day. I appreciate everyone's input on the cost of alcohol in the UK. We live in San Francisco and are used to high prices, so I didn't take that into consideration. My favorite anecdote on this subject is looking to buy a bottle of wine in Flam. One market, no wine. No wine at all in Flam. I asked the clerk what he drank with dinner and he told me "milk". I grew up in northern Minnesota and drank milk with my meals until I was about 40 ... I've always credited that to my extremely good health. But milk can't come close to a nice Chardonnay with dinner.
  15. This comment is SO interesting. We fly into Heathrow on Virgin often, spend some time in England occasionally, and find the prices of everything MUCH higher than we're used to in San Francisco. So outside the major tourist areas, are there huge price differences? What would a glass of wine cost in your area?
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