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Bruin Steve

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Everything posted by Bruin Steve

  1. Quite simply, Buying just the one-way with Air Canada directly AND USING my voucher would cost me MORE than buying through Celebrity Air in TWO directions. Sorry if I somehow confused you.
  2. I have a $250 voucher from Air Canada. I booked my flights for my cruises next August (August 5 RCCL Vision RT from Barcelona and August 19 Summit Reykjavik to Boston) through RCCL/Celebrity Choice Air...At least, so far two-thirds of it...I'll book Boston to LAX later. They put my on Air Canada LAX-TOR-BCN... I'm paying $984 pp... I COULD have booked the LAX-TOR-BCN directly with Air Canada...but it would have cost just over $1100 pp...So, a bit over $2200...but I could have used my voucher...So I would have only paid around $2000 for two...and, then, I'd have to buy the BCN-Reykjavik fares separately... But, instead, I may never use that voucher...but I have both of those legs for about the same price!!! I AM going to call Air Canada and ask if they'll let me use that voucher to pre-reserve seat assignments...
  3. I would check with your travel agent (if you have one) or directly with Celebrity. You may have inadvertantly missed the email (either accidently deleted it or it went to the Spam file)...But, if you have a Spring 2022 Asia cruise on Solstice, it was DEFINITELY canceled. If yours is in fall, however, then it would still be in place. OTOH, there are no longer ANY 14 night Japan cruises on the schedule...
  4. Yeah... that $3375 was outrageous. Never seen anything like it before and probably won't again. A lot of it had to do with the pandemic...Every time we had to move the dates forward, someone seemed to add OBC. We upgraded the cabin a couple of times and they probably should have just given us the exact new deal each time...but, since we were moving from an existing booking which had OBC, they honored that AND added the new OBC. IOW, we got lucky...
  5. $260 is NOT a lot of OBC. The $60 from the TA should be refundable (you get it credited to your credit card at the end of the cruise if unspent) and $200 can be gone in one shore excursion. On our recent B2B cruises on Celebrity Apex, we ended up with a combined $3,375 in OBC. Yes, unreal. It was a product of and original deal with a nice amount of OBC, then taking advantage of some promotions along the way, being "lifted and shifted" twice and having some issues with Guest Relations awarding us with more "for our troubles", a generous TA--who gave us $375, which, at least, was refundable--and upgrading to a suite along the way--which came with additional OBC. AND, our deal included the Premium Drink Package, unlimited streaming WiFi, and prepaid gratuities...and, because of our Elite Plus status, we got stuff like free laundry. And, on Celebrity, suite passengers get the best specialty restaurant on the ship for EVERY meal. Not many at sea days, so not a lot of time to waste in spa or gambling. We settled on doing ALL of our shore excursions through the cruise line and doing the very expensive ones everywhere. Bought a few things in the gift shops. Still fell a little short. For our upcoming Majestic Princess cruise, we have the included drink package, WiFi, gratuities and one free night in a specialty restaurant...Pus some OBC. We will agin, use it on some cruise line shore excursions.
  6. Having just taken back-to-back cruises last month on Celebrity Apex to Greece, I can tell you how silly that sort of requirement is. They actually did that in Mykonos--Shore excursions only. roblem is that in Mykonos, like MOST ports, they really cannot keep the shorex groups isolated. We were in Mykonos twice (B2B) and both shorexes took our group right through the middle of town and interacted with locals. You just can't clear everyone out of the port city and turn it into a ghost town. The reason to even visit many ports is to visit museums, churches, castles, wineries, business areas and shops. Full day tours require a break somewhere for a lunch in a restaurant likely open to the public as well. You simply cannot maintain a "bubble" around the passengers on a shore excursion. OTOH, for those Apex cruises, Celebrity DID test us at the pier at check-in and all went very smoothly--we had results in 15-20 minutes and right on the ship! EVERYONE over the age of 12 was required to be vaccinated. They tested us again the day before disembarkation each leg and positive tests were extremely rare (one was a child under 12. Perhaps they should not have allowed unvaccinated children. f I were the parent of a child under 12, I would not take them until vaccinated).
  7. They weren't when I checked--which was right after I got the email from Princess... There were lots of sites in their system, but most not doing tests with short turnarounds for travel. They may have added more since, but I've chosen to ignore that route... Either I'll do the Binax thing...or...I'll just go into Kaiser Permanente--my health care provider. I called them a few days ago and asked about it--and they said they can do it on a short turnaround for travel. I'll call a couple more times betwen now and the cruise and make sure that's the case...
  8. They recently canceled our March 2022 Solstice Japan cruise...And we lifted-and-shifted to April 2023... But, now, we have a huge hole in our cruising calendar...We're on Princess to Mexico October 30, 2021...and our next cruise after that is now August 2022--RCCL Vision in the Med and Summit to Iceland/Greenland. But that leaves about a ten month gap in our cruise calendar--far too long between cruises. That March 2022 Japan cruise would have fit nicely in that hole. I've looked at other cruises in March/April/May that would fit around our other commitments...but nothing really strikes us. So far, leding possibilities are 1) waiting until June and doing a Bermuda cruise on Summit that would fit after commitment to be in NY Memorial Day weekend...or 2) Doing a Pacific Coastal (not really exciting as we live here and can drive to most of the ports and/or have visited all often). It occurred to me that they now have the Solstice--that was supposed to be in Japan and needs to get to Seattle for the Alaska summer season--apparently doing nothing during that gap between now and May. Any idea what they will do with it? I can think of places I would put it...
  9. When Princess last changed the testing requirements, they sent me an email regarding my October cruise out of Los Angeles on Majestic Princess...and it included a line about "teaming up with Quest Diagnostics" to provide Covid testing. Great! I went to Quest Diagnostics' website to check out what they offered. Well...they had a number of testing sites. The closest one to my house was in Palmdale...about a 1-2 hour drive out of the city each way depending on traffic...The next closest site was in Corona...Yeah...even worse including a drive clear through the Los Angeles metro area from one end to the other... Anyone who knows Southern California knows that both of these locations are about as far away from the port as one can get before fading out into the desert. Seems no one at Princess actually vetted this firm before proudly announcing they had a partnership...Maybe they should look into a deal with someone with a facility within very close proximity to the ports they actualy sail out of? Lots of clinics and other facilities near LA Harbor...Set something up with someone there...and when we arrive, as we plan to, the day before, we'll just get the test then...Instead, we'll scramble for somthing near home that can take us on Thursday and promise us results before we sail Saturday...
  10. I've never stayed there, so this is second hand... The reviews on Google are 21% one-star, 50% three-star or less...That's not good... On TripAdvisor, 75 of 211 reviews are "terrible" and 33 more are "poor"...That's even worse. Read the reviews: TRAVELODGE BY WYNDHAM LONG BEACH CONVENTION CENTER $104 ($̶1̶3̶8̶) - Updated 2021 Prices & Motel Reviews - CA - Tripadvisor And, it's NOT a mile away from the terminal...it's about two and a half miles walk and over a bridge...I would not try to walk that with luggage... Again, if a hotel looks like a bargain, there's a reason...
  11. We are in a similar boat, so to speak...though, for us, our cruise is still 10 and a half months away... Since we know airfares tend to rise and flights fill up, we like to make our reservations 11 months early, when the flights first show up on the schedule...We also know that airlines tend to change their schedules often and often do things to mess with your flights. For our recent Apex Greece trip, they canceled our 9:00 am flight out of LAX and put us on a 6:00 am flight--meaning we had to leave home at 3:00 am to get to the airport. Once Air Berlin changed our flights home from Rome resulting in the new flights scheduled to arrive in Frankfurt and hour and a half AFTER our connecting flight departed! And, by the time we got that change, the only alternative was to leave Rome a day later (there is worse one could do than spend an extra night in Rome). But, here is what we have going on right now with Air2Sea: We received an email from them on September 5--14 days ago--whih informed us in vague terms that one of our flights has been canceled by the airline. The Email says, in part: "Unfortunately, airlines occasionally adjust flight schedules for operational reasons. We are currently assisting in rescheduling your travel plans and will be reaching out to you via phone or email as follows: Within 48 hours if you are traveling within 30 days. Within 7 days if you are traveling within 60 days. Within 7 – 14 days if you are traveling in 60 days or more." So, since our cruise is over 60 days out, one would expect that we would have heard from Air2Sea by TODAY. Of course, we haven't. I called...and the agent insisted, first, that it is 7-14 BUSINESS DAYS. Of course, as anyone can plainly see, it does NOT specify business days. If one writes a contract with a time frame in business days, one usually sticks to 5, 10, 15, etc--multiples of five. 7 and 14 are generally used for actual days--being multiples of weeks.As a long time corporate transactional attorney, I can tell you that no court of law would ever interpret this language a s"14 business days". So, here we are two weeks after my flight was canceled. I've checked my reservations on the Choice Air (Air2Sea) website...and it shows me with both legs getting TO the cruise...and only the second leg after--somehow magically moving us from Barcelona to Copenhagen without a flight. Plugging in my requirements into the choiceair.com site today produces only flights with fares increased by $720 per person and more...and, laughably, many of those options still show the canceled flight. When I go to the website of the airline which canceled the flight and input the parameters of the flight, instead of what I booked--a flight with one change and taking 7 hours--all of the current options involve 2 changes and 22 or more hours with layovers of at least 7-10 hours in one of the stops with the shortest being an arrival at 11:00 pm with the next flight at 6:00 am (imagin the choice of either sleeping in a terminal somewhere...or...having a flight arrive at 11, getting off the plane and to a hotel, checking in and getting just a few hours of "sleep" only to get up before the crack of dawn to return to the airport for that 6:00 am second of three legs!). Yes, there are other airlines that can do the trip with one change in under 8 hours...but those fares are rising while Air2Sea does nothing... So, I am waiting around now until Thursday (maybe--that's 14 "business days") for Air2Sea to present me with "options"...BTW, no one at Air2Sea has confirmed to me that those options will be REASONABLE or at the booked price. For all I know, the options they will give me are three legs and 26 hours OR a different airline at $1704 (or more) pp--rather than the $984 I originally booked at. The agent kept telling me that the airline, NOT Air2Sea, did this to me...and they are only there to TRY to help me. And, assuming all airlines cancel flights--and it could be at any time--does that mean that all Air2Sea bookings are WORTHLESS? Just another quick note--when the airline to Athens changed our flights to 6:00 am, there were other airlines with more convenient flight options, but ChoiceAir/Air2Sea told me that, since they had ticketed us on AA, we could ONLY switch to another AA flight. That does not bode well for this one.
  12. laurel, This is Athens...So the number of important sites to see are many...both in the city and nearby. Obviously, number one on everyone's list is the Acropolis and Parthenon. Also, visit the Acropolis Museum and the Ancient Agora. A walk through the Plaka is usually on the agenda (though, to be truthful, it's just a neverending bunch of tourist gift shops). For us, this time, we also visited the Jewish Museum (in the Plaka). Go see the Changing of the Guard at the Parliament Building on Syntagma Square. If you have a number of days, there are several day trips out of the city well worth your time. One visit, we hired a taxi tour company for a private tour to the Pelopenesse-- To Epidaurus, Mycenae and other incredible archeological sites--one of the best full day tours we've ever taken. This visit, we did a group tour with CHAT Tours to Delphi...with hotel pick-up and drop-off from and to the Hilton--definitely an interesting trip out of town. Another we've done in the past was a visit out to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon. Lots to see.
  13. Not Acrimonious at all...Just commenting that the poster was WRONG--not of opinion, but fact. That is NOT a distinction between the two. BOTH cruise lines treat shore excursions the same. BOTH, for the most parrt, meet on the ship and you get led to the bus. It is a distinction by port only...nd, in a few ports, both have you meet at the pier.
  14. This take is just plain NONSENSE... Both (or actually ALL) cruise lines are pretty much the same here...and it is port-specific... We've been on Princess ships where the shorexes in certain ports (Mexican Riviera) were "meet on the pier"...and most Celebrity ships we've been on, the shorexes meet in the Showroom. In fact, we just did B2Bs on Apex in the Med...and did shorexes for every port...and every one was "meet in the showroom" at a specific time. The shorex people there give you the numbered stickers and have you wait in a specific area of the room until they call your tour number and someone then leads you out to the bus... But, yes, for example, we've been to Ensenada on Princess, Carnival and NCL...and EVERY one of them had us meet our shorex ON THE DOCK...where the tour company has its people waiting with signs... It's pretty much standard for most cruise lines (We've been on ten different ones) and for most ports... Remember that the cruise lines themselves do NOT actually conduct the shorexes...They are done under contract with local providers in each port and almost ALL of the cruise lines use the SAME providers in each port. One problem with these sorts of comparison threads is that lots of posters have only anecdotal evidence from limited numbers of cruises--usually far fewer cruises on whichever line they claim is "worse"...
  15. There's a CVS at 8th and Gaffey and a Rite Aid at 5th and Gaffey...both about 4 blocks from the CP...
  16. And the Crowne Plaza San Pedro is only about three blocks from the pier...I have walked it before.
  17. I tried to present an alternative. Some bot within the Cruise Critic software won't let me...But, basically, the Rodeway is TERRIBLE...And you can stay in one of the best hotels in Long Beach for only about $51 added to your budget.
  18. You are planning on spending $205 between "hotel" (and I am using that term loosely here) and ground transportation. The hotel you are booked at is, to keep it as clean as possible, in one of the more questionable neighborhoods you could hope to find. It is Harbor City. There are a string of CHEAP hotels adjoiuning this one. Most people staying in these are NOT your typical tourists. Acros the street there is topless bar. Within a block, there is a sex shop and a couple of "massage parlors". You do have your choice of fast food restaurants. OTOH, it IS cheap. There is a reason. Let's say, instead, you choose to stay in Long Beach. Arbitrarily, I've picked out the Hyatt Centric at the Pike--a wonderful hotel in, possibly, the best location in Long Beach. I just looked up YOUR date. They have a Senior Rate and an AAA rate of $216...Depending on traffic/demand, an Uber from LAX will cost you $40-60... You might even take the free Passport shuttle to the pier in the morning, though in Uber froim there will cost mere pennies...So, basically, you can spend, say, around $266...or a mere $51 more than you'd spend staying in that cheap motel you've found... Is it not worth an extra $51 to be in a SAFE, PLEASANT, well-located hotel in a nice area with plenty surrounding it in the way of restaurants, shopping, etc...thatyou can actually walk in at NIGHT without fear? Or do you really need to save that $51 so much that you would rather stay some place few of us could even imagine staying--even for one night? And I didn't even search through most of the Long Beach deals. Try calling the Maya Doubletree and ask if they have a "Carnival Deal" (those usually go unadvertised). That would put you walking distance from the terminal. Or, try the Best Wester Convention Center (they have a rewards member book early and save non-refundable rate for $218)... Or, try Priceline...
  19. First off, I am Platinum on Princess, Elite Plus on Celebrity...My last cruise (actually back-to-back) was in a Sky Suite on Celebrity Apex four weeks ago...My next-to-last Princess cruise (Pre-pandemic) was in a "Club Class" Mini-Suite...I'll try to answer best I can, but realize many things are subjective and people's opinions can differ greatly. Food and Service: I have always been of the opinion that Celebrity's food, overall, is superior...but there is nothing objectionable about Princess's...I've enjoyed meals on both...That said, for SUITE restaurants, Princess comes nowhere close to Celebrity. Celebrity's Luminae is incredible...Princess' Club Class is really just a slightly enhanced menu within a cordoned off section of the MDR. Service in Luminae is outstanding...though service in Club Class is definitely a step up from Princess' MDR service--which I've always found a little bit lacking. Another note which needs comment: On Celebrity, we really enjoyed the Retreat Lounge--a bar reserved for Suite guests only where the service was without compare. Princess has nothing to compare. Also, Celebrity has great butlers for added service to your suite. Princess has nothing of the sort. Entertainment: It's all subjective and subject to personal taste...but, IMHO, Celebrity's "production shows" are superior, Princess GENERALLY gets the edge on comedians/magicians. But ANY cruise entertainment really depends on who they've booked and varies ship to ship and show to show. Where Celebrity does have a MAJOR edge is in the showroom itself. Celebrity ships' showrooms are ample for the number of guests onboard. Princess' are far too small--often seating less than one third of the ship's capacity. The result is that you have to show up WAY early to get a seat on Princess. On Celebrity, there never seems to be a problem with finding a seat for a show, no matter when you show up.. But, all in all, I never choose for any of those particular reasons...I'll go on either line if the itinerary, the dates and the pricing fits my needs and desires. Either will give you a nice cruise vacation.
  20. There really isn't any such thing as "a budget hotel with a port transfer"... And everyone's budget is different... Are you flying in to LAX? Not planning on any sightseeing--just fly in the day before the cruise? Okay...You are going to need, in some form or fashion, the following: --Ride from LAX to hotel... --hotel for one night... ...ride from hotel to cruise port. You CAN get rid of one of the two rides or another by staying either 1) Near LAX--most LAX hotels have free shuttles from the terminal to the hotel...But, there is really very little of interest near LAX...It is a drab industrial area...or 2) Very near the Carnival Terminal--from where you can walk or maybe squeeze onto the free city "Passport" shuttle. The Maya Doubletree and, arguably, the Residence Inn Downtown Long Beach are walking distance to the terminal... But, really, logically, one long Uber/Lyft ride or two rides splitting the difference really make little difference in cost. And, you MAY find a hotel with a shuttle to the port (like the Hotel Current clear on the other side of Long Beach)...but any "free" shuttle is really just blended into the hotel price...and your Uber from LAX to the Current will cost more than an Uber to, say, the Maya Doubletree... Really, the question should be "What is my TOTAL budget for hotel and ground transportation? It matters little how it's split up. Next, know that hotels here in SoCal are likely quite a bit pricier than back home in Oklahoma. If you see a "bargain" hotel, chances are there is something VERY wrong...Either it is an extremely substandard hotel, very poorly located--perhaps a high crime area, maybe very inconvenient...perhaps some place you will NOT feel safe or comfortable. If I were you, I would stick to highly recommended hotels in the Long Beach Convention Center area (Try the aforementioned Maya Doubletree and Residence Inn, the Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Centric at the Pike, the Renaissance, the Westin, the Hilton...Maybe the Best Western at the Convention Center (the one on 1st and Linden) or the Courtyard Marriott on 1st...Do NOT go out of this area or off this list. Plan on whatever it costs plus whatever it will take for an Uber from LAX and an Uber to the port. Just consider that part of your cost. There are lots of restaurants in ALL price ranges in this are, walking distance from any of these hotels. It is a safe area to walk around in, even at night...And you will be very close to the pier for the following morning. Good luck.
  21. Of course it's possible...And, most likely no problem... Just, if it were me, I like to reduce stress to a minimum...So, I still like to go in the day before. I am sailing out of San Pedro in October...and I am heading down to Pedro the day before and staying in a hotel...and I live an hour away...BY CAR!! Things can go wrong...especially with air travel nowadays... But, yes, highly likely you'll have little problem flying in the morning of your cruise...
  22. It would be a nice touch...and help to promote wearing them as well...and really not much of a cost to the cruise line...We were just on Celebrity Apex for B2B cruises and they put two envelopes in our suite, each with free mask inside--Celebrity logo in the corner...Silver with adjustable ear loops...For our second leg of the B2B, they put two more in our suite... It's kind of a clever promotion as well...People take them home and wear them, providing the cruise line with free advertising whenever you wear them...
  23. I received the notice early this morning regarding my October 30 Majestic Princess cruise out of Los Angeles. Figured, based on the notice, that I might as well check into "Quest Diagnostics"... So, I went to their website and registered... First thing I found out is that the closest testing centers they have to my home or to the Port of Los Angeles are either in Palmdale or Corona. Anyone who knows the LA area will find this laughable. For me, it would take a 90 mile round trip just to get tested. They've got nothing anywhere close to the port, to LAX or to where 90% of the population actually lives... Then, when you hit the end of the registration process, you can click on an ominous link and get this notice: Notice for California and Oregon residents Note: California and Oregon state laws require that lab results be held for 7 days before Quest can release them to MyQuest. This hold is in place so that your physician has the opportunity to discuss your lab test results with you prior to you receiving them in MyQuest. Additionally, some testing (such as HIV screenings) has additional delays in place so that your physician has the opportunity to discuss your results with you. 7 days??? That pretty much makes this thing completely worthless. How do you wait 7 days after testing to get you results and be able to present a negative result of a test taken within two days of sailing???
  24. Having just gotten off B2B cruises in a Sky Suite on Celebrity Apex, I can say, without question, NO... Celebrity has a gourmet restaurant, Luminae, reserved just for suite guests with a completely different menu than the MDR and with incredible levels of service. Princess has "Club Class"--a cordoned off section of the MDR with minor additions to the standard MDR menus...it's not close. OTOH, it IS better service than one gets in non-suite categories on Princess. Celebrity has a special lounge, the "Retreat", for suite guests...and a special pool deck as well...with, on Apex, a bar in each...princess has nothing like this. On Princess, you get all the standard traditional reasons for getting a suite--like bigger room and more space...but the amenities don't equal Celebrity's. Basically, don't try to compare...get a Princess suite if you want the suite and you think the price is worth it.
  25. Not all that drastic...More just a sign of our Pandemic times... We were on B2B cruises a couple of weeks back that started out as Barcelona to Rome and Rome to Venice...They morphed into Athens to Athens via Santorini, Rhodes and Israel followed by Athens to Athens via Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Cyprus...Then, with just a couple of weeks to go, they canceled the Israeli ports due to a Covid outbreak and it became that second Itinerary twice...and, finally less than a week to sailing and Cyprus got dropped and replaced with Dubrovnik... We just kept calling it "the Mystery Cruise"...and, by the time it went, we actually didn't really care where they stopped...We just wanted to cruise ANYWHERE. After a year and a half of no cruises, just being on the ship, eating, drinking, being entertained...having people pick up after us and getting to actually meet and talk to other human beings became far more important than the details of the itinerary--which, of course, now looked nothing like what we originally signed up for... And, you know what? IT WAS WONDERFUL!!!
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