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amusea

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    http://exotic-sojourn.blogspot.com/ http://exotic-sojourn2.blogspot.com/

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  1. TravelCat2 Unfortunately many European airports including the big ones like FRA still use bus/tarmac/stairs rather than jetways for some of their flights which is a problem for me because I don't check bags - just a rollaboard and a backpack. Those stairs can be intimidating. And I agree that if the Middle East situation worsens as it continually threatens to do, booking with Regent would be the sensible thing to do in Feb. - at least the return flight from Dubai. I think flying Eastbound to BCN or another airport in Europe might still worth considering doing on our own since we have convinced good friends from Berlin to book our cruise and we will be meeting them in Europe several days in advance of the sailing date. Jay
  2. Ah yes. Taking the bus and then the long hike. Good luck.
  3. That's great that BA has upgraded the equipment to a 787 and it is the newer 900 series. I will have to store that info away in my memory bank in case my other requests are not available. May I ask you if the flight from LHR to BCN is also BA? Transferring terminals in LHR is always a mess. Jay
  4. Az2sea, Thanks for that information. It is strange that there is only one non-stop flight from LAX to BCN and that is on Norwegian Air Shuttle. We have used that airline once in their premium class and it was OK for a flight from Stockholm to Los Angeles but that was a daytime flight. I really do not want to use them for an overnight going eastbound because it is not a flatbed. Your Regent routing confirms my suspicions which is that the most obvious choice of routes is using the PHX-LHR route on BA and probably in an old 747. We have done that several times in Business but BA business class is so outdated and uncomfortable and if I have one airport I try to avoid in Europe it is Heathrow. Standing in line for the XRay machine and the complete searching of luggage was not a happy experience, nor was their lounge. Perhaps you will have a better experience than we have had in our few times using that route. I understand that BA's cuisine has been drastically improved. Although I will say that one time returning to PHX from LHR we had booked upstairs on the 747 to PHX and for some reason they wanted our seats so they bumped us to first class and that was a whole different kettle of fish. Did you deviate/customize and choose that route or was it the itinerary that Regent gave to you without the deviation? I am assuming that because the cruise is still five months away that you gave Regent that routing as a deviation. Since the flight to LAX is only an hour we will probably request SWISS via Zurich to BCN or AIR FRANCE via CDG (as long as it is on the 777 since the A380 does not have flat beds). I have always wondered why AA doesn't open up ORD/MAD/BCN or ORD/BCN which is a much nicer route. Anyhow, the return is what it is so the MIA/DFW/TUS is as good as it gets. It's a little nicer if the MIA to DFW is operated by one of two 767s from South America that is being shuttled back from MIA to DFW. They have about two 767s per day that have international flat bed business class in the front of the plane which makes the first leg to DFW actually pleasant. Enjoy your trans-Atlantic cruise. We love the sea days and that is always such a wonderful experience and of course Regent makes the whole affair fantastic. Jay in NW Tucson (near Ina and LaCholla)
  5. Thanks Rally Dave. I think I've got it! We would be submitting our list for flights starting and ending in LAX even though we live in Tucson since any flight from Tucson requires a transfer within the USA which I will try to avoid. Flights from Tucson to LAX are of short duration and not expensive so I would book those separately. The only hitch is that the return ticket would not be on a single PNR from Dubai to Tucson via LAX and we would have to wait until we reached LAX to book our flight back to Tucson since one cannot depend on a specific arrival time in LAX. I was almost sure that the cruise consultant on the Voyager told me that you had to deviate both ways and that you could not split and just use Regent one way. I think you are correct about that not being the case. I will certainly pose the question again before I submit a list. Jay
  6. Travel Cat, Thanks so much. Your post was very much appreciated. In my original post I had quoted excerpts about the FAA ruling regarding the new restriction of air space which I read online and which was also in this Weekend's Wall Street Journal. These were not my words but the response here seemed to indicate that I was expressing my opinion and that it was not correct, even though. according to the articles, Emirates was changing some of their flight planning because of the FAA ruling. Obviously the media is not always accurate but I felt this information was important to consider. When the 270 day mark arrives I have to decide if I want to accept the $3500 offer for making my own air arrangements. Since I want to spend time in the UAE after debarkation it will involve "customizing" if I decide to use Regent. I have done quite a few dummy bookings and I know, as of this date there is availability for Nov and Dec 2019 but of course that does not give any real indication of what will be available next year. I will not pay the high extra fee for the Emirates non-stop. I would really like to try Qatar which is so highly rated but I am not sure if Regent ever uses that airline. Am I correct that flights on the return almost always start from Dubai? . Yes, we are booked on the November 2020 Dubai cruise which I booked when on the Voyager last December. The fact that the 2019 Dubai cruise was sold out told me that it was not prudent to wait and I am glad that I booked when I did. Since you have used Regent customization before, may I ask you two questions? First, can you book customization one way and get a $1750. refund for the other way? And, there seems to be a continual conflict of information about the cost. Is it $175. pp round trip or $350. round trip? Again, thanks for your kind response. Jay
  7. Perhaps I have not made clear the premise of my post which was that it could become more difficult to find flights with FF miles to Barcelona and returning from UAE using LAX as a base because of the unsettled situation in the Middle East. I use LAX as my frame of reference because it is the closest international airport to TUS and it is by far the airport with which I have the most experience. I was basically trying to keep readers informed of what could become a major problem by the time November 2020 arrives. Since I travel for much of the year I realize how many other options are available as transfer points in Europe but when searching for flights using miles many of the ones you mention are rarely if ever available using One World or Star Alliance which have the most reasonable mileage awards as opposed to the Delta alliance. And flights using miles are becoming harder to book simply because the miles seem to be continually devalued. But my experience has been that the airports in Europe that I mentioned have turned out to be the most likely candidates from LAX. The one exception that I failed to mention might be Zurich which I used to fly on SWISS from LAX to South Africa using miles in Business through Zurich outbound and through Heathrow returning in First Class a few years ago. I was hoping to return from Doha using AA miles in Business on Qatar/BA which has been available with miles for many months as long as you are not exact about the date of departure. But what I was saying was that if the political situation in UAE continues to worsen, Dubai has a much safer and better selection of flights than Doha or Abu Dhabi and thus I would not risk using the other two airports - especially Abu Dhabi since Etihad has such a precarious financial condition at present and the choice of flights is minimal. Remember that we are talking about flights that are still a year and a half away. Of course I had investigated the flights to Doha from Dubai through either Oman or Kuwait which has been brought on by the feud with Qatar. It is an inconvenience but I think it is worth the cost and trouble once you have traveled that far. If you do not use the non-stop option from Dubai to LAX on Emirates which takes about 16 hours the other airlines that require a transfer tend to take 20 hours or more total flight time. Then I still like the CX option since I have found that airline to be quite dependable as well as very comfortable and the choice of layover times in HKG is a plus. The reason for this post was first and foremost to mention the situation in the Middle East that could create continual changes in the flight schedules. If there are no good flights available using FF miles next February when the decision will be made about using the Regent air or making my own flight arrangements, I will opt for the Regent deviated formula. I would not purchase non-refundable tickets from the UAE because there is always the possibility that the itinerary for the cruise in November 2020 would have to be changed if sailing to that area of the world becomes more dangerous. In conclusion, I would ask that you please do not use large bold print in your responses because it is interpreted as shouting and I find that very disrepectful. Perhaps my age (81) has made me less tolerant of other opinions but I hope not. I respect your opinions and I hope that you will respect mine. Thank you.
  8. It may be time to rethink my flights for the Barcelona to Dubai cruise in November 2020. Yesterday the FAA put new restrictions on airspace in the Gulf of Oman and other areas around the UAE which will affect the three major UAE airlines, Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. Here are a few excerpts from the article: United Airlines has suspended one of its flights and other airlines are re-routing planes to avoid the Gulf of Oman after Iran downed an American drone operating in the area. The skies above the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf are frequently traversed by commercial aircraft, and use of the airspace is especially heavy among aircraft bound for Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Airlines that operate flights in the region said Friday that they would adjust their operations. Emirates, which operates out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said in a statement that it had "taken precautionary measures including rerouting all flights away from areas of possible conflict." It remains to be seen how much the schedules and cost of flights from the UAE will be affected. I had decided to use FF miles for my flight to Barcelona and back from Dubai in November 2020 but now I am wondering if it would be more sensible to let Regent do the booking. I live in Tucson and flights from the western part of the USA to Barcelona require a change of planes except for one airline - Norwegian Air Shuttle which flies non-stop LAX to BCN. Otherwise you must choose from flights that require a change in Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Madrid, Frankfurt or Amsterdam. I was hoping to fly back from Doha on Qatar or from Abu Dhabi on Etihad but now I think it might be safer to stick with Dubai. Except for the non-stop Emirates flight to LAX or SEA the best choice seems to be the one-stop options on Cathay Pacific which can be flown with a quick transfer in Hong Kong or you can opt for the longer layover which allows you to go to a hotel near the airport for a good night's sleep before continuing on to LAX. This year the cost for Business Class on this Cathay route was just under $2000 which was a true bargain. For anyone thinking of using Phoenix as a base for Europe the small bit of good news is that Condor now flies a couple of times a week non-stop to Frankfurt and onward. We were able to get flights using AA FF miles flying to Amsterdam/Copenhagen next week for our Seabourn Norwegian Fjord cruise but there was nothing available on the return using FF miles so we have opted for Condor from Copenhagen to Frankfurt to Phoenix. The Business Class seats are not quite fully flat for this daytime flight but there is plenty of leg room and the service and food are comparable with US airlines for a much smaller cash outlay - Configuration is 2 + 2 + 2 on a refurbished 767. Condor is affiliated somehow with Luthansa so we can access the Lufthansa Business lounge in FRA and we will fly CPH to FRA in economy and then FRA to PHX in Business for a total of $1600. This new service may be of some help to folks who live in or near the Phoenix area. Since the similar Regent cruise this year on October 26 from Barcelona to Dubai might be affected by UAE flights I am monitoring that Roll Call to see what information becomes available. Jay
  9. It may be time to rethink my flights for the Barcelona to Dubai cruise in November 2020. Yesterday the FAA put new restrictions on airspace in the Gulf of Oman and other areas around the UAE which will affect the three major UAE airlines, Qatar, Etihad and Emirates. Here are a few excerpts from the article: United Airlines has suspended one of its flights and other airlines are re-routing planes to avoid the Gulf of Oman after Iran downed an American drone operating in the area. The skies above the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf are frequently traversed by commercial aircraft, and use of the airspace is especially heavy among aircraft bound for Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Airlines that operate flights in the region said Friday that they would adjust their operations. Emirates, which operates out of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, said in a statement that it had "taken precautionary measures including rerouting all flights away from areas of possible conflict." It remains to be seen how much the schedules and cost of flights from the UAE will be affected. I had decided to use FF miles for my flight to Barcelona and back from Dubai in November 2020 but now I am wondering if it would be more sensible to let Regent do the booking. I live in Tucson and flights from the western part of the USA to Barcelona require a change of planes except for one airline - Norwegian Air Shuttle which flies non-stop LAX to BCN. Otherwise you must choose from flights that require a change in Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle, Madrid, Frankfurt or Amsterdam. I was hoping to fly back from Doha on Qatar or from Abu Dhabi on Etihad but now I think it might be safer to stick with Dubai. Except for the non-stop Emirates flight to LAX or SEA the best choice seems to be the one-stop options on Cathay Pacific which can be flown with a quick transfer in Hong Kong or you can opt for the longer layover which allows you to go to a hotel near the airport for a good night's sleep before continuing on to LAX. This year the cost for Business Class on this Cathay route was just under $2000 which was a true bargain. For anyone thinking of using Phoenix as a base for Europe the small bit of good news is that Condor now flies a couple of times a week non-stop to Frankfurt and onward. We were able to get flights using AA FF miles flying to Amsterdam/Copenhagen next week for our Seabourn Norwegian Fjord cruise but there was nothing available on the return using FF miles so we have opted for Condor from Copenhagen to Frankfurt to Phoenix. The Business Class seats are not quite fully flat for this daytime flight but there is plenty of leg room and the service and food are comparable with US airlines for a much smaller cash outlay - Configuration is 2 + 2 + 2 on a refurbished 767. Condor is affiliated somehow with Luthansa so we can access the Lufthansa Business lounge in FRA and we will fly CPH to FRA in economy and then FRA to PHX in Business for a total of $1600. This new service may be of some help to folks who live in or near the Phoenix area. Since the similar Regent cruise this year on October 26 from Barcelona to Dubai might be affected by UAE flights I am monitoring that Roll Call to see what information becomes available. Jay
  10. Our experience on Hurtigruten was on the Trollfjord several years ago. It is a very unique experience in many ways. First, don't expect luxurious cabins. They are adequate and comfortable but small with narrow beds. Secondly, you had better like seafood, especially salmon. The luncheon buffets are plentiful but fish is usually the main feature. Dinner menus are fine and the food is very fresh but the selection is not expansive. Third, alcoholic drinks are very expensive as they are in Norway. We chose the Trollfjord because the ship was new and the front viewing area was very large with a huge glass area. Some of the older ships are less optimal for viewing the scenery. It could be that the security concerns have changed the incredibly casual attitude that was prevalent when we sailed. At that time the ship stopped several times both day and night to deliver goods since that is the main purpose of the ferries. If you wanted to get off at any stop there was no taking roll call. You just wandered off and it was your responsibility to be back before the ship departed. Quite amazing but there may be a more strict protocol now Since Norway is one of our very favorite countries, both for scenery and the Norwegian people, we loved this 12 day cruise. One highlight was entering the Trollfjord which is so narrow that from the railings on both port and starboard you can actually touch the walls which were dripping with water. Whether or not your ferry will be able to enter the fjord depends on weather, tides and other concerns so it is not guaranteed. Social events are few and far between. We did not notice any other gay passengers. The focus of the sailing is the scenery and these ferries make the best case for viewing Norway from the sea. We have also been on four cruises by larger cruise ship in the major Norwegian fjords and we never tire of their beauty so perhaps we are prejudiced. Jay and Al
  11. Hey Lana. I was on the 28 day HAL Eurodam cruise with you in March/April this year. I couldn't agree with you more. There were 2,000 passengers and that is just too many although in today's market that is considered a mid-sized ship. I only opt for HAL if there is a unique itinerary which was the case with the Eurodam in March since HAL has the only ship that sails to Polynesia round-trip from the USA. I think I would have a hard time being lured back to HAL again even though I booked a Neptune Suite just as you did. I had taken a 64 day cruise on the Amsterdam in 2007 and it was a totally different atmosphere. Great food, fabulous service and much more formal (twice a week) although I don't think that is necessarily an asset. And the ship only accommodated 1300 passengers. But I fear that sticking with smaller ships, especially Regent, guarantees a much better cruise as you can see by my future sailings below (Azamara, Crystal, Oceania and Regent). We were on the Mariner in 2002 when it first sailed. I am sure you will have wonderful time on the 2020 World Cruise!
  12. Unfortunately my friend had a very hard time finding any agency that specialized in cruises in Germany. I suggested that he use my agent but he did not want to use an agency outside Germany. He travels extensively around the world but his travel agency does not focus on cruise travel. Finally he did find a large German agency that specialized in cruises. Actually he was about to give up on his quest but using the YouTube video as a source things turned out well. He has been very happy with this cruise agency although it is not in his hometown. Since he is very proficient on the internet (he is a lawyer) and had searched for several weeks this was a very happy result for him. I also tried to search agencies in Europe and was surprised at the lack of specialized cruise agencies so it would have been even harder to search for an agent who had sailed on Regent. The whole thrust of European agencies seems to be on package tours and although he lives in the biggest city in Germany he could not find any cruise specialist there. So while your comments are valid for North America I don't think they necessarily apply to other countries which was the original inquiry. In any case, I was delighted with his find because he and another person will now be joining us next year on our Regent cruise to the Middle East and I was just trying to pass information about this successful search.
  13. When I am looking for an agent I find that it can be helpful to search the videos on YouTube for the cruise line and ship in which you are interested. My reasoning is that if there is an agency that is interested enough to invest time and money into a video they might make a good agency. Sometimes the video will be in a language other than English. I gave this advice to a friend who lives in Germany and he found a very good cruise agency in that country by using this system.
  14. I have been researching the options from my cruise ship Regent Explorer from Safaga to Luxor in November 2020. There is a 2017 vlog from a round the world cruiser which covers the Middle East. On days 126 and 127 of May there is a full narrative of his experience of a two day tour from cruise ship Oceania Insignia to Luxor using Ramasside. The review is extremely positive and the tour was booked privately, not with the cruise ship. Other parts of the Middle East are also covered including Petra and Jerusalem with many photos. I strongly suggest you use this vlog as a major reference: http://2totravelrtw180.blogspot.com/2017/05/ The reviews on Trip Advisor for Ramasside are also overwhelmingly excellent.
  15. I have been to the formal Sambadrome Carnaval in Rio twice. The first time was an offer from Cunard to sail from Miami to Rio and back with two nights of tickets and transport to the Sambadrome. It was such an amazing experience that I went again in 2008. There are many Samba Schools that compete each year but the dozen or so finalists get to parade in the Sambadrome. Each school can number over a thousand people. The schools must compose original music, songs, costumes, floats, etc and all are given points by the judging panel. The winner gets a special parade. The Carnaval is timed to the Christian calendar and it begins and it lasts about a week and always ends on Ash Wednesday. Many people who go to the Sambadrome have not researched the experience and are unprepared. The Sambadrome parade lasts two nights starting each night at dark - around 9 PM and ends the next morning around 6 AM as it gets light. It is exhausting but worth it. Words cannot describe but recent videos capture the excitement as well as the overwhelming visual and audial experience. Here are recent samples: Hold on to your hats.
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