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Bruin Steve

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About Bruin Steve

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    Calabasas, CA, USA

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  1. Celebrity advertises a "Best Price Guaranty" which reads: "Celebrity Cruises Best Price Guarantee Our Celebrity Best Price Guarantee ensures that you will enjoy the lowest advertised rate on your cruise fare and your preferred promotional offer. If a lower cruise fare or different promotional offer advertised to the general public is found and your booking meets certain requirements, you may request to have that savings or promotion applied to your booking (savings options vary by whether the request is submitted before or after the final payment due date). For a request submitted on or before the due date of final payment, the following applies: Request for a Lower Cruise Fare: Celebrity will reduce cruise fare to available prevailing cruise fare. If full payment has been made, a refund will be issued..." it goes on to talk about perks and such, then the policy if it comes AFTER final payment due date... Well...The fares on my July 8 12 night British Isles cruise on Reflection dropped. Several people on my Roll Call were able to get some sizable price adjustments. I called my travel agent last week--but was told that, since there were no vacancies in my category, we couldn't get that adjustment--but to watch the pricing..and, if a vacancy ion my category popped up at a lower price, we'd call back and grab it. So, Monday night, I'm checking the website...and my category shows up with a vacancy--literally across the ship from my cabin. But, of course, my TA is long gone for the day. Tuesday morning, first thing, I get up and check the website again...and it is still there...and at a price which would put $500 back in my pocket. I call my TA immediately...and she calls Celebrity while I am put on hold. By the time the Celebrity agent joins us both on the line and starts "looking for the rate", the rate is gone...Cabin is still available, BUT IT HAS GONE UP IN PRICE WHILE I WAS ON HOLD!...Seriously!!! I had looked it up on the website while talking to my TA...and now, 15 minutes later, I started over again and this time found only the higher fare! Celebrity raised the fare DURING our call...and now refused to honor the "Best Price Guaranty"... So, I wrote an email to Celebrity and just received this stock email answer: "Dear __________: Thank you for contacting Celebrity Cruises in regards to your upcoming sailing aboard the Celebrity Reflection. Please know that as an Elite Plus member of our Captain's Club we value your loyal patronage and also understand your disappointment that cruise fares have gone down since you booked your stateroom. As you know, booking early is worthwhile for a variety of reasons, including the ability to select your preferred room location and arrange flights in advance. As a company, our goal is for every sailing to depart as close to capacity as possible. Therefore, as the sailing date grows nearer, remaining unsold inventory is occasionally listed at a reduced rate. Additionally, rates do fluctuate and booking agents do not have control over the rates that are produced as these are set by revenue and are based on numerous factors. I greatly apologize for the disappointment that you were unable to secure this rate that you saw online." I guess Celebrity has created themselves a loophole so as to never be liable to make good on that guaranty. And, of course, once again, by now, that category cabin is no longer available...
  2. If a hotel has vacancies for that night prior, they will gladly sell you a room--at full price--and you, likely, won't even get that much use out of it... The real question is how you plan on getting to Seward. It is a fairly long drive. Many choose to take the train--but that leaves very early in the morning--You might have just enough time to take a taxi from the airport directly to the Anchorage train station. But, it's fairly costly and you might be too sleepy to enjoy it... The less costly way is to take one of the bus/van/tour providers... Our last two Alaska cruises, we took, the first time, Seward Bus Co. They picked us up at our hotel (they'll pick up at the airport as well) at 9:00 am and took us in a van with a small group to the ship with a stop at the wildlife preserve on the way--cost about $70 pp (admission to wildlife preserve included). https://www.sewardbuslines.net/ This last time, we took a bus from ACT Bus Lines: https://alaskacruisetransfer.com/ Cost $53 pp (with internet discount). They also picked us up at our hotel around 9:00 am (and made a couple of other stops at another hotel and at the airport) and drove us directly to the ship. Even if your flight is scheduled to get in at 4:45 am, there can often be delays...plus you've got to collect your luggage and then get a ride to your hotel...lucky if you are there by 6:00 am. I would just plan on heading to a restaurant at the airport for a slow breakfast...then use one of the bus/van services to get you to the ship in Seward. Doesn't make much sense to try to book a hotel.
  3. Taking the train from San Diego (Station in Downtown San Diego--about two blocks from the cruise pier) to San Pedro (they route you to Los Angeles Union Station and a bus down to San Pedro from there) costs around $50 per person...booked sufficiently in advance. https://tickets.amtrak.com/itd/amtrak San Diego to Santa Ana is less than $30 per person...and an Uber from Santa Ana to the Cruise Terminal in San Pedro would cost around $38-51...and saves a little time...and avoids Downtown LA...So that makes pretty good sense...and the Uber could take you right to the Cruise Terminal or your choice of San Pedro hotels... Uber fare from San Diego Airport to San Pedro is estimated at $184-242, depending on traffic and other things...(plus a tip).
  4. Andrew, There are several Enterprise Rent-a-Car locations in Long Beach...it is a big city with a population over half a million. But, assuming you are talking about the Downtown Long Beach location (rather than the one in East Long Beach or those up by the airport--which is quite a distance from the pier), then the closest hotel is the Renaissance--which like Enterprise, is on Ocean Avenue, just the next block east...But the Hyatt Regency, the Hyatt Centric at the Pike and the Westin are all also within only about three short blocks from Enterprise...And the Maya Doubletree and Residence Inn Downtown can be reached easily from there using the FREE Passport shuttle... I do think Santa Monica is a great place to stay as there is lots to do there and it is a great tourist atmosphere. As to all of the talk of late on this thread about Torrance, let me explain to those folks that staying in Torrance gives you an entirely different sort of trip. I actually like Torrance--for some things--like if you don't want a real vacation experience, just need a place to park yourself for the night and the hotels on the West Side are too expensive for you and the ones in Long Beach are all booked (like on Grand Prix weekend). But, other than that, know that Torrance has some drawbacks. First, though it is about midway between LAX and the Harbor, it is not particularly close to anything tourists want to see...And the area is relatively boring--picture 1950s suburbia built around a large shopping mall. Assuming you have a car rental, you are going to have to figure you'll be in your car to go anywhere...otherwise, you're hanging out at a suburban mall and eating at chain restaurants. Staying in Long Beach, you have the convenience of being near your ship and you have a few attractions--like the Aquarium and the Queen Mary...and the area is set up to be attractive to tourism. Staying in Santa Monica, you have what most people think of as the Los Angeles experience--an attractive beach with a great p[ark on the cliffs overlooking it...with great sunsets...The carnival-like attractions of the Santa Monica Pier...the Third Street Promenade--a pedestrian only with interesting shopping and street entertainment of all sorts...and more interesting restaurants...plus you are close to some very unique attractions such as the Venice Boardwalk...and not too far from Beverly Hills, the Getty Museums and other interesting sights... It all depends on what someone wants for their vacation...Do you want to really enjoy those days? Or just have a pleasant experience and some things to do and ultimate convenience? Or do you just want a place to crash and kill time? It is all up to everyone individually--we all have our own standards and criteria...
  5. First realize that there is zero free street parking. In Los Angeles, virtually all street parking is restricted...and it is a local joke: Most streets have signage like this: There's no way to park anywhere and feel safe for an hour, let alone the length of a cruise... Also, there is no real long term private lot anywhere in the area that will rent you a space for the length of a cruise. So, your choices are either the World Cruise Center lot or a "Stay and Cruise" deal from one of the hotels... So, if you're not staying at least a night pre-cruise, just bite the bullet and pay the freight...it's at least very convenient... As to the amount of parking? No problem...it's a very big lot...
  6. No...it is not automatic. You have to go to the link at the top of the roll call page and click on "register for a Connections Party" (or something like that)...and input your name, reservation number , ship and sail date...and have 25 from your roll call do the same...
  7. First, the airports-- LAX is 20 miles from San Pedro, LGB 16 miles, John Wayne about 34 and Burbank 36...Ontario is 60... The main trade off is that LAX is the FOURTH busiest airport in the WORLD...with over 87 million visitors annually (2018 figures)...Many people are intimidated...Though we've never had any great problems --and we fly in and out all the time--many are in fear of Check-in and security lines. The bigger problem is connections--not a problem if you are just flying in and out. The other airports are much smaller and easier to navigate... But, the other trade-offs come in terms of availability and times of flights and prices. You can get a flight to and from LAX from almost anywhere in the world and at many times of the day...The selection at other airports is limited. The main reason to fly in or out of John Wayne would be if you are spending time pre- or post-cruise in Orange County (ie Disneyland). Similarly, the reason to use Burbank would be if you want to spend time pre- or post-cruise in Hollywood/Universal City...(Very little good reason to fly in or out of Ontario--unless maybe you have relatives in the Inland Empire)... With multiple nights to stay in the LA area pre- or post-cruise, my absolute best recommendation is Santa Monica--somewhere near the Santa Monica Pier and Third Street Promenade...Very nice upscale area, lots to see and do in the immediate area--walking distance...close to other West Side attractions (Venice Boardwalk, Getty Museums, Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills) ...Hub for the HOHO bus tour and other tour companies all pick up at Santa Monica hotels...Some first class hotels: Loews, Marriott LeMarigot, Fairmont Miramar, Shutters at the Beach...and some fairly decent ones--Wyndham, Huntley House, Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inn, Doubletree...even some budget hotels (budget, of course is relative) like the CarMar...Yes, to some Santa Monica will seem a bit pricey...but, this is LA--it's an expensive town...And this area is well worth it... For a slightly lower price, look at nearby Marina Del Rey... There are some other nice areas in which to stay--IF you will have a rental car. Public transportation options are not good. Many areas of LA where you will see cheap hotel bargains are VERY undesirable...So ask here first. Good luck...
  8. I MIGHT pay that if the upsell were to a SUITE...or even to a mini-suite...But all you would be getting there is having your cabin moved a few doors down! It's the SAME cabin... Of course, I, basically, just took a similar deal...in a way... We booked a BD cabin on Emerald Princess--for a 3-night cruise--much shorter... Princess offered to move us to a suite for $289 per person...We wouldn't mind having a suite--but, on a three night cruise, that almost doubles our fare...and how much time would we actually spend in that suite? Then Princess offered us a move to a mini-suite for $99 per person...We thought about it...But, we figured we'd be trading in our larger Caribe Deck Balcony for a sitting area in our cabin for $66 per night...Turned it down... Then, Princess dropped the price on our cabin category and we were able to get a refund of $54...but it was a major hassle...Since we booked through a travel agent, we had to get them to make the call...and I felt really guilty...Their commission on this short cruise was so small already--and now they had to spend more time on it... Then, Princess dropped the fares yet again...I called Princess directly...and plead with them to deal with me directly because I did not want to bother the TA any more...I said "If I don't ask for a price drop, but rather an upgrade-so it would NOT lower their commission, I am sure they won't care". I volunteered that I would pay them another $100 to be moved to a Club Class mini-suite. It should not have been that hard to understand my logic: First, the cruise is less than six weeks away and over half of those Club Class minis remain unsold. I was already paying more than those who booked the lower category balconies, yet the earlier upsell offer went out to ALL balcony bookings...and with the latest price drop, I was already paying almost $100 more than the cost of the lowest balconies. Based on how slowly this cruise is selling...and on how few appear to be taking them up on the upsell offers, they likely won't sell out those Club Class minis...and, in this way, they would actually squeeze out another $100. Princess' response? They offered to move me to a regular mini-suite for $49...I said I was only interested in the Club Class for the dining experience and the included mini-bottles of wine--not the regular mini...and turned it down... Eventually, we agreed for them to move me from my BD Caribe deck balcony to a B1 Caribe deck "Premium" balcony...pretty much the same cabin but exactly at midship...which is where I am as of now... And since, the fares have gone up slightly again...Of course, with so much still unsold, I'm expecting them to go down again...and up...and down...But, when we adjusted this deal, my BD was selling for $33 pp less than I paid...So, basically, I spent $22 per night for that BD to B1 upsell!
  9. I should know this, but don't... On most of my Princess cruises, I've booked a balcony cabin...But I've never seen a reason to pay more for a "premium" balcony... So, on my upcoming cruise, as usual for me, I booked a Category "BD"- C626...on Emerald Princess... But, for various reasons this time, I've now "upgraded" slightly to a "B1"--C422... My assumption, always, has been that these two cabins are, basically, identical--with the only difference being that C422 is just down the hall from C626--at midship rather than toward the aft... Of course, Princess seems to make a major distinction between the two--calling one a "Balcony" and the other a "Premium Balcony"... Of course, just three cabins midship from C626 comes the start of those "Premium Balconies"... SO...the big question here is: Other than a very minor difference in location (same deck, just down the hall) is there ANY OTHER DIFFERENCE between that BD Balcony and the B1 PREMIUM Balcony? Thanks...
  10. I don't know if I can post the info for the tour guide I will be using --because, under Cruise Critic rules, I can't recommend a guide if I haven't yet taken the tour myself...We got his info from someone on our roll call and checked him out--he has 70 reviews on tripadvisor.com--49 in English, 21 in Spanish and every one of them ranked him as "Excellent"...and, we've been very impressed so far with the communications...But, unfortunately, I cannot direct you to him...(Here's a hint: Try googling "privatetours netherlands"...a little scanning of whatever comes up will likely draw you to him--or you may find other recommended guides...That and check on Cruise Critic's sister site, Tripadvisor.com). I can recommend the guide we used on our last visit to Amsterdam: https://www.thedutchtraveladvisor.com/ This guy was VERY organized and very good...Took a group of 12 of us from a port stop in Rotterdam...Arranged minibus, canal boat (narrating the trip for us), skip-the-line tickets for Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House and a private showing of a canal house, split the group at one point, per our request, to two smaller groups--one visiting Rijksmuseum, the other visiting the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum--with a separate guide...brought on yet another guide for the canal house and a walk through the Red Light District...and everything worked like clockwork... Good luck...
  11. I am not entirely sure of the methods, but I've never had a suitcase delivered to my cabin wet...even when embarking in the rain... But, since I am tired of reading hundreds of posts on why they removed a chair from my cabin, I thought it might be a good time to jump on the second question here. I have a list... I wrote this several years ago, so some of it may be a bit dated...And, just a note: I have seen my list published elsewhere around the internet--without attribution, of course...but with my unique wording and writing style...But here goes--my standard packing list for a seven night cruise: standard packing list ************************************************* For a seven night cruise: Men: One small carry-on size rolling bag. 7 pairs undershorts 5 pairs socks (Don't need them for at-sea days) 4 T-Shirts (we'll pick up a few more as souvenirs along the way) 1 pair shorts (They're good for at least a week)... 1 pair long pants (only because they make you wear them in the dining room) 1 pair shoes 1 Swim suit NO Suit or Tuxedo (Rent it on the ship so you don't have to schlep it all the way there and back) Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Razor Camera Women: One large suitcase for Casual clothes One Large Suitcase for Formal clothes One large duffle bag for shoes One suitcase for toiletries, cosmetics, creams, shampoo/conditioners, lotions, etc. One suitcase for purses, accessories, grooming equipment, travel irons, steamers, etc. One carry-on with hairbrushes, vitamins, pain relievers and other prescriptions, cosmetics that they forgot to put in the suitcase, last minute items needed past packing of other suitcases. One purse the size of a suitcase filled with all the usual junk: lipstick, chewing gum, mints, keys that she can't even remember what they go to and don't need on the cruise anyway, photos of the kids, credit cards for every department store and shop known to man, even ones no longer in business, gym membership card she never uses, hair pins, loose change, old candy wrappers, mints from the restaurant she ate at a month and a half ago, that bag of peanuts from the flight in on Southwest...and so on ad infinitum... Specifics: 14 panties (one pair each day plus one for evening) 20 hose or pantyhose (accounts for 7 evenings as at least half or more will run while putting them on) 7 casual skirts and/or Bermuda shorts (something that covers the knees and most of the imagined cellulite) 7 casual blouses or tops...actually, make that 14 as most "outfits" require a top covered by a blouse hanging over it) [NOTE: One can never be seen wearing the SAME outfit TWICE!!] 7 pairs of "casual" shoes...as each "outfit" must be particularly coordinated with the precisely perfect pair of shoes 5 dressier skirts and/or pairs of slightly dressy slacks for casual evenings 4 formal gowns (Yes, I know that there are only two formal nights, but one won't look exactly right and she'll need to put it back and wear something else...and a second won't fit right anymore by the end of the cruise) 5 more pair of slightly dressy shoes...and... 4 pairs of "formal" shoes (again, each "outfit" must be coordinated with the proper shoes) [NOTE: All formal gowns and formal shoes MUST be purchased special for the cruise. God forbid someone on the cruise MAY have been at your niece Jessica's wedding in June and has already seen you in that gown!!] Assorted (meaning at least 10 of each) belts, scarves, etc. A woman needs to "accessorize"... 14 purses (again, must match the "outfit") At least 70 assorted pieces of Jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pins, rings) of various types from diamonds down to cheap costume jewelry (again, the accessories must complement the particular outfit being worn) 6 swimsuits, though she'll never actually make it up to the pool deck...besides, "I can't be seen in public in a swimsuit" 6 "cover-ups"...just in case she braves wearing a swimsuit... Toothbrush Toothpaste Deodorant Eye Shadow Eyeliner Blush Foundation Lipstick Lip Gloss Eyebrow pencil Nail polish (At least 4 or 5 shades of each variety of make-up) Make-up remover Moisturizer Face cream Cold Cream Anti-wrinkle cream Body lotion Cotton Balls Q-Tips Razor Shaving Cream Tweezers Hairbrush (at least three varieties) Suntan lotion Sunscreen "Feminine Products" (though most often the item forgotten or not packed enough...just so YOU will have to go running around the streets of Puerto Vallarta or Cabo San Lucas looking for drug stores and trying to explain this to a clerk who only speaks Spanish) Hairdryer (even though they supply them on the ship--it's a reflex motion...but the excuse is "I don't like theirs") Curling iron Iron (even though the ship says they're forbidden..."I NEED it") Steamer Sewing Kit (like she's going to actually sew) Eyeglasses Sunglasses Contact Lenses Contact Lens solution Advil Midol Dramamine Pepto Bismol Tums Rolaids Campo-Phenique Pepcid Metamucil Any other possible medication for any other real or imagined malady which MAY arise during the course of the cruise--which they obviously don't sell anywhere but here at home... Hair dye (just in case the roots start showing during the cruise) And, this is just off the top of my head...I KNOW I'm leaving off lots of stuff... It's a good thing airlines allow you two fifty pound each pieces of luggage plus a carry on each... ...(Or they used to...maybe now with a small fee!) All of YOUR stuff can go in your carry-on, while hers MAY neatly fit into four pieces of luggage plus her carry-on... Even with the extensive packing, know that there are simply things not accounted for which now MUST be acquired in port...Besides, some of these ports are just great "shopping towns" ...After all, how important are a bunch of old churches and museums when each port has so many nice stores?
  12. We are on the Emerald April 15... We were offered Traditional dining as...Early 5:00 pm, Late 7:15 pm!!!
  13. It’s fairly easy... Download the app on your smart phone. Fill out the registration including your credit card info. Then, when you want to call a car, you just click on the Uber app and type in where you want to go. The app uses GPS to find your location and gives you some choices and prices—the standard is “UberX” (XL is for a large vehicle, Black is a fancy car, others are shared rides). Click on UberX and it will show you your driver’s name, type of car and license plate...and give you a map showing his/her present location and an estimate of how far away he/she is. When he/she gets there, you jump in and go. After the ride, Uber automatically charges your card on file and sends an email...and gives you the option to add a tip.
  14. Okay...I'll bite... First cruise ship I ever set foot on was the Princess Patricia... ...1965. I was 11. It was sort of impressive. I didn't quite get it though. Love Boat show wouldn't come around for another 11 years. Yeah, you took a boat to Mexico. Takes a week. We usually just drove across the border to Tijuana for a day trip. Flash forward to 1989. My first cruise as an adult. Premier Cruise Lines Big Red Boat Atlantic. Disney's cruise line before Disney Cruise Lines. I'd be more impressed...but we had a 3 year old and a 5 year old in tow...and had just taken a red-eye in from LAX (first cruise-didn't know better), rented a car and drove from Orlando. Everyone was worn out and bleary-eyed. We got on board and took a nap. Luggage wasn't delivered to our cabin until after dinner. Not a day I like to remember.
  15. In the past, I would have taken a shuttle...or a car service like execucar or a limo...But lately, I've been using Uber --I plan on using Uber when I get off the Emerald Princess and have to get home (an hour from the port) next month...The rates are very reasonable, they seem to get there within a few minutes every time, you don't wait for them to fill up a van and you don't make any other stops...It's all very easy... And, a 1:15 flight out of SNA will not be too early...
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