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Bruin Steve

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  1. Athens Airport Taxi | Taxi – Minivan – Minibus info@athensairport.taxi TEL. 0030 694 164 94 64
  2. To circle back and follow up....since we are now in Athens and leave the hotel for the ship tomorrow. My wife prefers NOT to take a train or bus...She doesn't want to have to schlepp luggage on or off the vehicle or lift it onto a rack...prefers door-to-door personalized service...so out usual default is Uber, if not a taxi. I learned on these boards that, due to Greek law, Uber in Athens operates as little more than a taxi intermediary. So, I scanned the internet, checked websites such as tripadvisor for reviews and compared prices...as well as reviews/ratings. I learned there is a FIXED fare from the Airport to central Athens hotels of €38...But all taxis/car services don't necessarily abide by this. I saw several services quoting higher fares. From hotel to the pier in Piraeus, it's a free-for-all...prices vary widely. I ended up choosing to go with a company called Athens Airport Taxi. Good ratings on tripadvisor. and Emmy from the company was both prompt and responsive. Quoted me the standard €38 from the airport to the Hilton...and €23 from the Hilton to the pier...Same in reverse. Emailed reminders the day before the ride each time thus far. When we got to the airport, after going through passport control and collecting our luggage, the driver was waiting right by the exit door with a sign with our name on it, just as promised. No payment in advance was required, credit card to the driver at the end of each leg. So, it will end us costing us €122 total, Airport to Hilton, Hilton to ship, ship to Hilton, Hilton to Airport. Might have done it a bit cheaper with a bus or train...but this is far easier--door-to-door personalized service. And the company appears very dependable and honest.
  3. Well...it is a little "out of the way" in that it is not right in the Plaka...as many people desire to be right there. OTOH, the Plaka is extremely touristy and busy...and, for the most part is an endless mass of tourist gift shops selling the same junk and very touristy eateries. It is very close to the Acropolis though there are only so many ties you need to visit that. The Hilton is in a very different kind of neighborhood--sort of more "normal"...but it is not really that far of a walk away and is very close to a lot of museums and parks. We have no problem walking an easy mile to get to the Plaka if we want...but, I guess, some people do. Of course, if that is a problem, there are always taxis. As to the renovations, yes, they are happening right now...But, aside from the pool being currently closed and a few areas obviously under construction near the lobby, we'd hardly know it. Our room is absolutely quiet and unaffected and we don't really have need for the pool. The gym is open but with some covid-related occupancy restrictions, restaurant open as well...
  4. We are staying at the Athens Hilton RIGHT NOW...in preparation if leaving on Celebrity Apex Saturday on a B2B. We booked the Hilton largely because of the Pandemic. My wife trusted their Covid Protocols more than what she saw from many other smaller non-chain hotels. When we noted this on Cruise Critic, we received responses from many posters, some of them known Cruise Critic regulars, saying they wouldn't stay here...lots of reasons, many claiming it poorly located. I am VERY happy that I didn't listen... We've been here a couple of days now. Today, we decided to wander around Athens for a bit. The largest concern with the Hilton was "location". It is NOT right in the Plaka...which many seem to prefer...BUT, OTOH, it is NOT "terribly inconvenient" either. We walked first to Syntagma Square...From the Hilton, it is a FLAT straight walk of less than a mile, passing many parks and museums along the way...not difficult or time-consuming at all. Along the way, we picked up a contingent of the Presidential Guard and walked along with them--like right alongside--from the Guard offices to the Parliament Building...then watched the changing of the guard. Afterwards, we headed across the Square and down Nikis Street to the Jewish Museum for a visit, then continued down Kidathineon Street through the heart of the Plaka, then up Adrianou for a few blocks for more shopping, then wound up various streets to the base of the Acropolis, then back down Kidathineon to the major restaurant hub and had an all-too-touristy gyro lunch, wandered around a bit more then sat down for some Gelato. Wandered some more, then headed back to the Hilton. All along, we had it in mind that, if the walking got to be too much, we could grab a taxi back....but it never did...and the walk was very pleasant. We were also concerned that restaurants would be plentiful in the Plaka and much harder to find...and farther to walk...near the Hilton...and the costs would be higher. Nothing could be further from the truth. Restaurants in the Plaka were a bit touristy and somewhat overpriced for what they were...and all came with very aggressive salesmen waiting outside trying to rope you in. But, virtually adjacent to the Hilton, we found a small park sort of catty-corner from the Southeast corner of the Hilton called "Antinoros and Iofontos Park (Πάρκο Αντήνορος και Ιοφώντος)" which is lined with about 7 or 8 restaurants all with outdoor tables on the park...and, surprisingly, all reasonably priced. Last night, we had a traditional Greek dinner--Large Greek Salad to share, Pork Souvlaki for me, Chicken for my wife and a beer each...The owner brought out watermelon for dessert gratis...Very nice. Tonight, we were next door to that at "Oroscopo"...ordered a sizable individual pizza each--Coke for her and a 500 ml Fix Lager for me. They brought out , GRATIS, great bread with Olive Tapenade, then a cup of soup for each of us...again no charge...and, at the end of the meal--free dessert--some sort of custard-filled pastry. Everything was WONDERFUL...for 32 Euros TOTAL! Tomorrow, we have a full day tour set up to Delphi and the company is picking us up and dropping us off at the Hilton... We're leaving Friday open for now...and, Saturday, we have a taxi pre-arranged from the Hilton to the pier for 23 Euros... The Hilton room is wonderful--clean, very modern...Very comfortable King-size bed, great working air conditioning and a large balcony with two chairs and a table and a nice view from the 9th floor. And the room rate was LESS than any of the recommended hotels in the Plaka. I am VERY HAPPY we chose to stay here.
  5. If the Hyatt points are going to go to waste, then, by all means use them. On good breakfast choice a few blocks walk up pine from either Hyatt is this place: www.omeletteinnlbc.com We love the Doubletree San Pedro--stayed there before our last pre-pandemic cruise. There is only one restaurant nearby I'd recommend--the 22nd St. Landing: 22nd St. Landing Seafood Grill & Bar (22ndstlandingrestaurant.com) ...but the Doubletree will shuttle you for free to other San Pedro restaurants...
  6. Ian, Thanks for the report...It makes me look forward to this thing even more... We leave tonight and fly out VERY early tomorrow morning for Athens...and will join you Saturday for the first leg of our B2B!! I think our sky suite is laid out a little different than yours as we are on the port side right at the bump-out (#10191)... Can't wait to find out about surprise suite perks... See you next week!
  7. Are you merely getting in the night before your cruise? I guess I can see why you're looking at Long Beach--because of Hyatt Points? Otherwise, most of the reasons for staying in Long Beach when cruising out of San Pedro are that there is a bit more to do there--so, if you've got a couple of nights or at least a full day to spend, you can go to the Aquarium or the Queen Mary and spend some time in the shops, etc. But, you will have to take an Uber or taxi to get to the port in San Pedro--it's about 6-8 miles away across the harbor. No Hyatts in Pedro...but the Crowne Plaza is far more convenient when cruising out of Pedro... The two Hyatts are only about a block apart. The Hyatt Regency is larger and a bit more traditional--attached to the Convention Center, the Hyatt Centric is newer and trendier--in a retail and entertainment center. Both are excellent choices for Long Beach. Both are near a great many restaurants--very few of which are open for breakfast. For Dinner, you've got lots of choices. Bubba Gump, Chili's, Outback, Gladstone's (Seafood), Parker's Lighthouse (Seafood), Hooters, PF Chang, Q Smokehouse, Tokyo Wako, Yard House, Tequila Jack's ...all along the water...Islands, Auld Dubliner in the complex with the Hyatt Centric...lots more places heading up Pine--like King's Fish House...
  8. That won't work... (I am thinking the format has changed over the years and you are envisioning an older format). I am looking right now at the ones that arrived in the mail TODAY...and the printed ones. Printed ones are 11 inches--or 5.5 inches folded--fitting precisely into the plastic holder. The mailed ones are 13.5 inches long...so, you might think you could fold under an extra two and a half inches somewhere...BUT...there is no place to "write your name"...The name is preprinted lengthwise across the middle four inches...and, running alongside the name, is a bar code--which I assume they may be doing in preparation for some sort of sorting/locating system...fold in the middle and you lose this. Of course, right now, the printable ones don't have the bar code...but I'm thinking that could be changing soon enough. But, again, if you plan on using the plastic holders, there is absolutely no reason to order the mailed tags...much easier to just use the printable ones --which are properly sized for the holders.
  9. The purpose of the plastic holders is that, with the printed tags and without such holders, they tell you to fold the tags up in several directions, then to staple them together at certain points. In order to do this, you need access to a stapler--something most of us rarely carry when we pack for a cruise. And, after all that, the things are easy to tear or to have the staples pull out. So, by using the plastic holders, you don't need a stapler and they are difficult to detach from your luggage. A secondary effect is that, with most of them, the tag compartment is sealed with a ziploc type fastener so they're waterproof in case of rain. With the mailed sticky tags, they're a better quality paper than what comes out of your printer...and they are easy to pack away with your luggage and pull them out when it's time to board the ship , wrap them around the handle and tape together. I suppose you could fold them to the correct size and slide them into the plastic holders--but they are not sized the same--they are much longer and part would not be visible. And why bother with requesting mailed ones if you are only going to put them into the plastic? BTW, I received a set of tags in the mail today--BUT for my SECOND leg of the B2B!!! Totally unneeded as I will already be on the ship with my bags already in the suite...Maybe I will get the ones for the first leg before I leave this Sunday...If not, I've got the plastic sleeves and the printed ones ready...
  10. Maybe, like with us, the link kept popping up again, and got resubmitted? In any event, we haven't gotten any yet...and we leave Sunday...I've got the printed ones ready anyway...
  11. Yeah...elsewhere someone pointed out that this was likely in reference to the September Apex itineraries which still show Ashdod and Haifa. My App also now shows us arriving in Dubrovnik on Day 6...on the July 31 cruise...and shows it as a "Greece and Croatia" cruise. The website also now shows the Croatia itinerary...But the Cruise Planner still shows Limassol...and all of the shorexes are for Limassol. The August 7 still shows as Greece and Cyprus. All of the Limassol excursions still show for both. And everything on the website for August 7 still says Cyprus... It's a VERY SLOW process... ...and we leave home in less than six days!
  12. Another way to look at it is that they DON'T give you much of a break for NOT booking with the perks... Same on Princess...We booked a Majestic Princess cruise on their AI fare--got Gratuities, Unlimited Drinks, Unlimited WiFi, $50 in OBC and a free night in a specialty restaurant...all for an additional $30 per person per night over the no frills rate...SAME cabin. If you back out the gratuities (approx. $15 per night pp), the value of the Specialty Dinner (a little over approximately $4 per person per nigh, blended over the 7-night cruise) and the OBC (a little over $3.50 pp per night), that leaves about $7.50 per night for unlimited drinks and unlimited internet. You'd have to be crazy NOT to take that deal either...You could drink more than that with one drink a day or 3 Cokes... Still, some people book the no frills deal. Why? Who knows...I think the cruise lines only offer it that way because some people complain about being forced to buy the AI. It's like saying "We're charging $1500 pp for an AI cruise...Wait, you don't want the perks? Okay, special, just for YOU, $1475". If you THINK you're saving money, maybe it appeals to you. For me, I've got pretty high loyalty program status on both of these lines...yet, I still purchased most of my upcoming cruises AI. Only one I have that isn't is a "lift-and-shift" that I got no frills about two years back on an unbelievable rate. If Celebrity wanted to upgrade that to AI for me for under $7 a day, I'd grab it in a heartbeat!
  13. Personally, I still wouldn't stay near LAX for this situation...You may be busy the day of your tour...But, two different evenings, you are going to feel awfully stranded in the LAX area. My first choice, as always, would be Santa Monica--because in the evenings, you'd find plenty of restaurants and nightlife and, when not on your tour, several attractions you could walk to nearby. But, yes, it can be a bit pricey...but perhaps worth it. (Hotels near Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica Pier, Palisades Park) Second choice would be the Marina Del Rey/Venice Beach area--fairly close to LAX but lots more in the area (look at hotels near Washington Blvd. where it hits the Pacific Ocean/Venice Beach Boardwalk)...great area to walk around, lots of restaurants... Also, make sure the tour company you choose actually picks up and drops off at your chosen hotel... In the LA area, location is everything...
  14. WOW! Could they be returning to Israel? I would love it if that were the case... And, they've also changed the language on shorexes to account for any unvaccinated children under 12: While Ashore On-Your-Own Tours are permitted in Ashdod, Athens, Haifa, Santorini, Rhodes and Dubrovnik. Celebrity Cruises curated tours will be required in Mykonos. In ports where guests are permitted to go ashore independently, all vaccinated guests are permitted to go ashore on their own. All unvaccinated guests are required to take a Celebrity curated shore excursion to go ashore. Families with unvaccinated children are required to take a Celebrity curated tour to go ashore.
  15. We leave for the B2B late Sunday/EARLY morning Monday. The lack of mention of Cyprus and the inclusion of Dubrovnik on the Health Protocols page seems to strongly indicate that Cyprus is no longer on any of the upcoming Apex cruises...and Dubrovnik is. As to Mykonos, we originally booked that "Best of Mykonos" shorex for the August 7 leg...since we thought we were going to Haifa and Ashdod on July 31. That tour seems to be pretty all-inclusive as to what there is to see in Mykonos...and we've already been there a few times in the past. So, when they first added it to the July 31 cruise, and since we had lots of OBC to spend, we looked for something VERY different, so we booked the Cheesemaking shorex...seriously! I really hope they post the shorexes for Dubrovnik SOON...as we need to find two of them!
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