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Posts posted by TouchstoneFeste

  1. With careful searching and many grains of salt (read the reviews!), you might find some tours with "special access" - for example, before the official opening hours. We once joined up with a "sunrise at Stonehenge" tour because we thought that would be fun, and realized later that we'd be there before almost anyone else and that we had access to the inner ring of stones (not accessible to the general public). Another tour took us through the Vasari Gallery in Florence - again, not accessible to the general public.

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  2. Sugar-free drinks are available everywhere. Mostly you will see bottles, not cans. Two years ago right after the pandemic restart they actually ran out of bottled/canned but it was still available in the lounges from the "tap" (=fountain). This wasn't a problem on our most recent crossing.

  3. 15 minutes ago, Victoria2 said:

    We have seen the Ents staff help with tours and occasionally, being the staff member on a tour bus.

    That must have been on a very large bus, but at least you wouldn't lose them in a crowd at a tourist site.



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  4. 5 hours ago, gapiro said:

    As someone who is a professional musician, Cunard, and carnival in general, are VERY BEHIND with their demands on musicians. 
    All cruise lines are struggling to recruit musicians and in some ways that’s come as a good thing - some of the US based lines now offer musicians contracts with no additional duties and access to guest facilities, and with individual rooms. 
    Carnival don’t offer those things. Meanwhile UK cruise muso contracts are offering around the equivalent of a 25k ish salary which also hasn’t changed in probably a decade. That combined with being away from everyone you love for 6 months  at a time means you’re basically looking at very young (graduates) or retirees.  Most musicians in that respect would rather earn more money doing a day job and then work as a musician on land. 

    The result is that a lot of the ensembles are struggling - our last cruise the jazz band ensemble had members of the show orchestra covering it daily for example. 

    Curious ... what are "other duties"?


    Do the same conditions apply to the "headliners" (the lounge pianists and harpists)? I presume not to those who appear in the theater?


  5. Yes, it's the traditional "can I make my flight?" posting, this time from the port at Livorno to Pisa International (PSA). We'll be disembarking a small ship about 8am (per the cruise company) on a September Sunday and want to catch a 10:30am flight. I know the drive time to the airport is around 1/2 hour. So ....


    1) Is this remotely feasible?


    2) Are there reliable car services available? Would a taxi work? (The cruise line offers free transport, but we don't know when it would depart.)


    3) How manageable is PSA? If we get to the airport before 9am, do we have a chance of making it through the pre-boarding ritual in time?


    We can change to a different flight, but it would involve considerable inconvenience. Anyone with experience, your response is welcome.

  6. 10 hours ago, Cotswold Eagle said:

    I don’t think that is quite right. They left about 10% of the collection in the first few bays, as you say, but as far as I know there is no intention to bring back the rest before the whole library closes at the end of 2025 for redevelopment, including installation of environmental and fire protection systems.  

    I bow to your wisdom :)

  7. 7 hours ago, Pushpit said:

    Thursday 21 December 2023 morning update 10:00 hrs GMT-4

    Location: At sea, off Nova Scotia Cape Sable, Georges Bank,  41.9860, -65.8711

    17.6 knots, direction 237° 

    Force 9 - 10 winds SE, very rough seas.


    Just a quick update, but the captain has made a rare all-ship broadcast at 09:15 to say that the weather was at the top end, perhaps slightly worse, than the forecast. So he asked us all the take extra care moving around, particularly on stairwells and to also watch out for any items loose in the stateroom. And yes we are rolling around more than I have experienced before on QM2 (including the Hamburg storm earlier this year), and a few things have slid off table tops during the night. The ship's anemometer has also gone kaput and I don't suppose there's much appetite to get it repaired at the moment. Indoors, the rolling comes and goes a bit but there's quite a big movement to and fro every 5 seconds or so. We are about 100 statute miles south of Cape Sable on Nova Scotia. This is the peak of the storm, it should ease off with a calm, cold but sunny arrival expected into New York.


    I was in Sir Samuel's - and the seas were quite high and violent - when the early announcement chimes came, and several of us looked at each other with (mild) concern. When the captain announced the anemomenter had failed the woman at the next table and I just started laughing and I said, "Don't TELL us that!". Later, the captain's noon announcement mentioned the Pilgrim crossing and I said to a nearby women, "Imagine crossing this in a wooden 100-foot sailing ship". She said, "I'm Irish. We ROWED it."

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  8. 59 minutes ago, TouchstoneFeste said:

    The book removal is a temporary measure for cleaning. When we entered my wife said she wished we'd been around for the book sale. In fact, they've replaced books onto the first few shelves so you can get a good visual of what the library would look like full. Best thing we saw in Dublin.

    A good piece of advice I heard for the Library and Book of Kells is to get the earliest appointment you can (it opens at 9:30am) and zoom past the exhibition area to view the Book before that room gets crowded, continue on to the library proper, then double back to look over the exhibition (which is also excellent).

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  9. 11 hours ago, ontheweb said:

    Truly a shame. I guess this has changed since we were there on a British Isles cruise. (2014)..


    I would still think the Book of Kells would still be impressive.

    The book removal is a temporary measure for cleaning. When we entered my wife said she wished we'd been around for the book sale. In fact, they've replaced books onto the first few shelves so you can get a good visual of what the library would look like full. Best thing we saw in Dublin.

  10. Apparently we had the first "backstage tour" they've managed to give since the pandemic shutdown. VERY enjoyable. We were able visit the bridge, and got the chief engineer's take on the engine control room. The room has been completely refitted with new electronics. Speaking of which, I was amazed (after going through the bridge - which is heavily electronic and where the ship is normally driven by a joystick) to see the workings of the mooring deck, which is nearly completely driven by men with bulging muscles, heaving ropes and calling out "more slack" / "pull harder".

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  11. On 12/5/2023 at 5:37 AM, maggielou362 said:

    @jaypo63 a FOOD fight? 😮😲 Really? How disgusting.


    We belong to a group that has large multi-course feasts, and one tradition is a "Polite Food Fight". One table will send a bit of food of food to another table with a (verbal) message, like "Whatever celery they're giving you, it's too much." (Not always a rude comment, just a food pun.) The second table is obliged to respond. I've seen them go on for hours.

  12. There is an entire "sticky" thread on transfers between the airports and Southampton here in the British Isles/Western Europe Cruise Ports forum:

    As you can see, a predecessor thread was 34 pages long, so they just restarted it (but link to the original thread).


    There is a poster there who goes by "John Bull" who is particularly reliable.

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  13. I can't tease out from the advertising I've seen, but I suspect not. Illy ("our new pods") is claiming compatibility with Nespresso machines, but that doesn't mean it works the other way around. It isn't just a question of size and shape, with Nespresso at least. My home machine "reads" the capsule to determine how much water to process.


    I understand being hooked on your own brew, but maybe try to find Illy capsules in similar flavors?

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  14. 56 minutes ago, MrsPeel55 said:

    Hi guys, gonna pick your brains again, taken that your info and opinions made our first Cunard sailing be marvellous, and our next isn't until Christmas 24. We booked because we wanted to be on Queen Victoria again, don't want to fly, but there is soooooo much time until then, we are looking into booking something for 2024. Just saw they will have Coward's Brief Encounter at the Royal Court, which is kinda attractive to us.


    Would you book a first voyage? all opinions welcome 🙂

    Since what really made your first voyage marvelous was largely your delightful attitude, I suspect it would be a good choice.

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  15. 50 minutes ago, bluemarble said:

    @TouchstoneFeste, just to clarify, it has been several years since there has been a "login" link on the Cunard US website. We don't have that functionality here in the US to log in to what's called "My Account" to do things like view our voyage history which is available to those in the UK.


    There was a fairly recent website redesign which you have noticed where they have introduced a new banner with "My Cunard" now found under an "Account" menu item on the banner. As you say, it now takes a few more steps to actually get to the page to manage your booking on the US website since that link to "My Cunard" takes you to a page where you have to scroll down to find the link to "Visit My Cunard". I don't find that redesign particularly helpful. What I have done is bookmark a link to the "Welcome to My Cunard" page to allow access to that page to manage my booking with one click (without even having to start on the Cunard website in the first place).

    Good idea. Regarding the "login" link, I may have been remembering excursions to the GB-en site.

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