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TravelerThom

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About TravelerThom

  • Rank
    5,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    VA, MD & FL
  • Interests
    History, Travel, Exotic locations
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Galapagos

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  1. TravelerThom

    solo traveller to europe

    There are two direct-sale (ie they do not sell through travel agents) companies that offer more to solos than most companies. Vantage Travel actually has a few solo cabins that will hold only one person - generally priced at more than half of a double, but considerably less than the often 200% charge levied on solos. Most low solo supplements are offered on cruises that are not selling well, but Vantage’s solo cabins are on every sailing. Grand Circle Cruise Line usually offers a match service. You pay the normal half of double price and agree to accept a roommate of your same gender. That is the price you pay even if they do not find a roommate for you. Obviously some roommates work out better than others, but river cruises generally have self-selected to people of reasonably similar interests. Disclosure: I have sailed with both companies, but not as a single.
  2. TravelerThom

    Going to Vietnam, how long to clear customs

    When landing in Germany on the way to Rome, you clear Schengen Area IMMIGRATION. Germany, Italy, most (BUT NOT ALL) of the EU, along with some additional countries are in Schengen. CUSTOMS are actually cleared in Rome via a Red Door / Green Door system. If you land in Germany in transit to a non-Schengen country you do not encounter either immigration or customs.
  3. While Cuba (unlike most of the Caribbean) does require that cruise passengers must have a passport for entry, the US State Department says that Cuba merely requires that the passport “Must be valid at time of entry”. No mention of a six month or any other delayed expiration requirement. On what are you basing the requirement for six months or longer passport validity for travel to Cuba?
  4. TravelerThom

    Avalon for Galapagos?

    Unless you are traveling with your own group of 16, I’ll support Jazzbeau comments on the advantages of a larger boat (disclosure: I have sailed on the Celebrity Xpedition, and have travelled in both Ecuador and Peru multiple times [mostly DIY]). Unless you have time constraints I’d take at least a week in the Galápagos and similarly at least a week in the Peruvian highlands. Doing Machu Picchu in a quickie trip without allowing time for altitude acclimation is really not doing the area justice. A nice itinerary would be to stop in Arequipa at 7700 feet above sea level and acclimate while enjoying that lovely town and Colca Canyon before proceeding to Cuzco (11000’), Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Then an extension to Lake Titicaca and the floating islands is interesting. (Actually if traveling by land Titicaca is a convenient stop over point between Arequipa and Cuzco.) Note that if you are not going to Amazonia none of the other major tourist areas in Ecuador (Galápagos, Quito, Otavalo, Cloud Forest, etc) or Peru (MP, Cuzco, Titicaca, Arequipa, Nazca, Lima, etc) have malaria or yellow fever.
  5. TravelerThom

    How far from port to Cologne Old Town?

    I have had port stops in Cologne on 3 separate river cruises (none of them with AMA). All 3 times less than a 10 minute WALK from the Cathedral. YMMV.
  6. TravelerThom

    river cruise from Amsterdam to Giurgiu/Rousse

    Viking lists 10 cruises from Amsterdam to Giurgiu in 2020, and another 10 cruises going in the opposite direction. Wikipedia describes Giurgiu as “situated amid mud flats and marshes”; sounds lovely.
  7. TravelerThom

    river cruise from Amsterdam to Giurgiu/Rousse

    Scenic, Emerald, Avalon and UniWorld all list Amsterdam to Bucharest River cruise tours for 2019. There may be others.
  8. TravelerThom

    Ocean Cruise Lines Cancel Amsterdam Calls Over Tourist Tax

    No, not as I read it. The report that CMV “will replace most of its scheduled Amsterdam calls” is not complatable with your claim that “other lines have not stated one way or the other what their plans are.” Note that CMV “will replace”, not a claim that they are “thinking about” it. IMO Cruise Critic properly used the used the plural “Lines” in their title referring to both CMV amd MSC cancelling/ dropping/ replacing Amsterdam calls despite your assertion to the contrary.
  9. TravelerThom

    Ocean Cruise Lines Cancel Amsterdam Calls Over Tourist Tax

    Apparently I’m not reading the same article that you are. Has the article been changed since you read it? The first paragraph that that I see is: ”Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) today revealed it will replace most of its scheduled Amsterdam calls following the introduction of a controversial new tourist tax that will apply to all cruisers stopping over (not those who start or end their cruise) in the city.” CMV and MSC do equal “Lines” (plural) in my book.
  10. TravelerThom

    Trip Mate Insurance paid for early medical termination

    to Dr. JP: You win the best laugh of the morning award 😂
  11. TravelerThom

    Customs

    It will be very difficult to convince me that making me once again surrender my suitcase, submit to another security screening and waiting at yet another luggage carousel 👎 is more convenient than just walking out the door and going home. IMO the designer of CVG was an idiot. Apparentlly ATL used to have a similar system, but ditched it when the Jackson International Terminal opened in 2012.
  12. TravelerThom

    Toll roads in France and Spain

    A couple of questions to make sure I’m on the same page... Did you have to enter your PIN? Is your PIN 4 digits? Did they give you a receipt? Many US rental cars have EZ Pass (or similar) transponders which are then billed to you by the rental car company. Do you see any sign of that option? Someone had reported that French Autoroutes only accepted cards issued in France. Perhaps this varies by which company is in charge of that Autoroute. THANKS Thom
  13. TravelerThom

    Customs

    Really? While I have cleared Customs in ATL, I have never terminated an international trip there so I suppose you may be corrected. But I have cleared Customs and terminated in a number of airports (IAD, BWI, PHL, EWR, JFK, LAX etc) and I’ve always been able to walk out of those international arrival areas with my baggage.
  14. TravelerThom

    Customs

    You are more accurate than I am. I could quibble over the word “territory”; in US usage (and I see you are from the UK) territories are not considered an integral part of the home country, while AIUI the 9 EU Outermost Regions (OMRs) are considered integral parts of the home country, are considered to be in the EU, but (most, all?) are not in the EUCU. The EU also recognizes a number (22?) of “Overseas Counties and Territories” which are part of or belong to EU counties but are not considered to be in the EU. Add to this a number of areas that are not in the EU but are in the EUCU and I will quickly admit I know just enough to get confused.
  15. TravelerThom

    Best way to purchase EUROs

    Let me start by saying who I am (retired physicist who travels less than some, but more than most) and what I am not (banker, currency trader, economist, etc). Let me also state that I understand the concept of “loss leader” and that sometimes by necessity or by choice businesses sell at a loss. So anything is possible. Smart consumers avail themselves these loss leaders; I know I do. Interbank exchange rates are not fixed and will change by the second depending on supply and demand, but for major currency transactions they rarely vary by more than 0.01 (1%) over the course of a day, and more typically less than 0.002 (0.2%) per day. I tend to use XEcurrency.com mid-rate (the mid point between buy and sell bids) quote as a reasonable approximation of interbank exchange rate. For yesterday I can get their mid-rate quote for every 10 minutes and I can get their end of day mid-rate quote for at least the last 5 years. I’m not saying XE is the best out there, just that it is what I’m familiar with. I do not have an account with XE; this info is available at no cost to anyone with internet access. I have on occasion used my no foreign transaction fee Schwab debt card within the same hour I have charged something on a no foreign transaction fee credit card and the exchange rates were very close with no clear winner (sometimes ATM was better in the 3rd or 4th digit, sometimes the credit card, but remember the interbank exchange rate is always changing). Then I compared these exchange rates to the XE mid-rate open and close, and on average I was being charged 0.5% (or a little less) for the service. If someone is willing to post 1) the quantity of “no-fee, no mark-up” foreign currency received, 2) the total amount they paid and 3) the date of sale (should be the day they were debited) I can look up the mid-rate open and close for that date. Unless it was an unusually volatile day the exchange rate should be approximately within that range. For practical purposes I’d consider that “proof” one way or the other. If there are Credit Unions or others out there offering genuine no fee, no mark-up foreign currency I’ll try to use that myself, and thank you for teaching me a better way to do things.
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