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40yearcruiser

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Everything posted by 40yearcruiser

  1. Thanks for the information on how the "Crew Appreciation" is being used. Very thought provoking. We have never removed the autotips but may consider it and try the individual tipping, which we always did when we started cruising almost 50 years ago. We don't do the Plus package so this is an option for us.
  2. Thanks for the Australian tip information. I find it interesting that if we pay onboard the crew appreciation will be converted to the AUD equivalent of the US amount, but the onboard credit is not converted from US to AUD equivalent. For example, we will have $600 in OBC which on a ship using US currency is worth the full $600 but in AUD, at the present exchange rate quoted in OANDA, is equivalent to less than US $400 since there is no conversion. Since we will be on the ship 13-days the gratuities will be $416 US for the two of us, so when converted to AUD at today's rate will be $639, more than our $600 OBC. I have never paid gratuities in advance unless part of a promotion so will see how it all works out. It isn't that we can't afford the additional cost, we wouldn't be traveling to the other side of the world if we couldn't, but it's just the feeling that we are being ripped off by Princess (or Carnival Corp) by not applying the conversion both ways. Just a heads up for non-Aussies, the above is only an issue if you are both embarking and debarking in Australian ports. If either the embark or debark is not in Australia the ship currency will be US. We have done both an arrival into Australia from an outside port and a departure from Australia to a foreign port on Princess ships and didn't have this issue.
  3. Since we are on the topic of tips, I would like some clarification from those from the USA who have cruised on Princess in Australia. We are booked on a 13-day cruise roundtrip from Sydney. We see that the onboard currency will be in AUD. Since we booked the cruise in the US, will our Crew Appreciation be included in the fare as it is for those booking this cruise in Australia? If it is not included (as I expect) will it be charged in AUD or in US currency? We did not buy the Plus package because we rarely drink alcohol and it didn't make sense for us. It's confusing when you book in one currency but the onboard is another currency.
  4. If you don't absolutely have to see London you might consider spending the day in Southampton. There are a number of historic sites (Bargate, old town walls, Tudor House, ect.) within walking distance of the port. We spent a couple of days there pre-cruise and enjoyed the town. Another fun thing we did was take the ferry to Hythe which is an island across the bay from the port. The New Forest National Park is on the island and you can buy a ticket for the HOHO bus around the park at the ferry ticket office; the ferry is free with the bus ticket. If you are lucky you'll see the wild horses that inhabit the park. If any of this appeals to you do an internet search for what to do in Southampton for lots of suggestions.
  5. I assume the visa application steps worked for you. The Cruise Critic message boards have been very helpful for me in the past so I'm glad to be able to help others too. Enjoy your time in Jeddah! Linda
  6. Guess what! I happened to think that the info might be in the Roll Call for our cruise and Voila! I had posted the steps there. Here is what worked for us: On the visa platform screen that pops up select Visitors. On the next screen select the far right window on the first row for Request for a visa from Saudi representations abroad. On the next screen click on Registration under the captcha to enter your email and select a password (you will need this for all the visas you are requesting). They will send you an email with a link to activate the account. Sign in with the email you registered. Click on Add a new application and you're ready to enter your information. For the visa type, scroll down the list and select Transit. For the Transport Mode select By Sea. Enter your personal information (and upload a photo) and when you've finished click Save. If all goes well it should return to the dashboard and issue you an application number. From the dashboard you can choose the link to Pay and also to print the application. I was only prompted to pay once for each visa. Be sure to print it so you will have a record of the application number and proof that you completed an application. Hope this still works.
  7. miss.scribbles: I am trying to remember all the steps to apply for the visa. I've looked through my files from when we were preparing for the trip but unfortunately didn't copy down the instructions. I went to the website and tried to recreate how I applied but could only get so far because I couldn't remember the login I used. Have you registered an account yet? In case you haven't already done it these are the steps to get that far: Website is visa.mofa.gov..sa When the website loads click on the Visitors Service box On the next screen click on Visa application from Saudi Representative Abroad On the left panel, Entry of Individual visitors to Saudi Arabia click on the Registration (near the bottom of the box) to set up a login. After you have created the login go back to this page and enter your login info. This is where I get stuck because I can't find my notes with the login I used. Unfortunately I can't remember how I got to the specific area for the Entry by Sea application. If I find any further information in the stack of travel info I've accumulated I'll post it. It was much less expensive than a traditional visa. Hopefully someone else saved the instructions since the link on the MSC website no longer works. We got a notice that it was approved but the actual link to the visa arrived in our email about 4 days before our arrival at Jeddah. MSC set up a printing area and we just took the email on our phone and they scanned the QR code and printed the visa for us. We were in Jeddah in April. We took an excursion from the ship because we weren't sure just what to expect. We did an excursion that went to the Corniche and to Al Balad (the old town). We were there during Ramadan so a lot of things were closed. I don't remember that MSC offered a shuttle to Al Balad. Good luck getting your visa!
  8. We spent 18 days on the World Europa repositioning cruise in March/April. If you are looking for the WOW factor, the Europa has it. The ship is stunning with a variety of venues. We thought the shows in both the theater and Panorama Lounge were very good. You have to reserve them in advance and the reservation windows open the day before the performance. You can book each show only once, although we found that if you wish to see a show a second time just show up at the venue 10-15 minutes before the performance and if the theater isn't full they will let you in (or at least they did on our sailing.) Since you are from the US you need to be prepared that all the announcements are in multiple languages. We found that the food was good but nothing outstanding. One irritation was that throughout the cruise the crew was continually pushing the specialty restaurant packages. I could understand this the first couple of days but it continued throughout the cruise and became quite annoying. The internet service was spotty, which seems to be the norm on Med cruises. On a short cruise it won't be as much a factor as on a long one, but there is no library and very few spaces to just sit and read or listen to music. I, personally, also prefer the itinerary on the Splendida but I understand the lure of a brand new ship. Whichever you decide should be a great cruise.
  9. We will be embarking in Dubai on World Europa March 25. We have been assigned a check-in time of 5 pm (the ship overnights). My dilemma is that our hotel checkout time is noon. I tried calling MSC to ask if we could change to an earlier check-in and was told that they could not change it. My question for those who have embarked in Dubai is how closely do they monitor whether you are within your assigned check-in window?
  10. Before you give up or book a cabin for 2 with the intention of canceling one, I'd call again and hope to get a rep that's more helpful. If you get a "no" try a couple more times to get someone else and if still no luck choose another date or another cruiseline. I've also found that when a certain category is listed as sold out on the website if I wait a few days and try again sometimes it will open up and I can book. Good luck!
  11. Thanks for the info. Unfortunately our cruise is still listed as Grand Voyage so I guess we'll have to figure out where to get the test. I've been searching the internet and emailing possible testing sites but not having much luck getting info. We are leaving on Thurs. to take a transatlantic cruise to Spain then will fly to Dubai from Barcelona. I had hoped to have this all set up before we leave.
  12. Mr. Vago, my upcoming cruise on MSC World Europa embarking from Dubai on March 25 is now showing as a POS cruise on my login rather than a Grand Voyage. Does this change the requirement for a Covid test 48 hours before departure since all other cruises out of Dubai no longer have this test required? I have tried calling the US office for an answer but nobody seems to have any idea what the current requirements are. I have tried to find an email address for customer service on your US website, since I can't get an answer over the phone, but have been unable to find any email addresses on the site. Grand Voyages go to many parts of the world and a "one size fits all" requirement makes no sense. No other cruises out of Dubai and none of the ports we visit have a Covid test requirement, so why hasn't this been updated? MSC needs to send a clarification email to all passengers on the POS cruises to advise whether a test is now required. It is very difficult to find a testing site in a foreign country as most have now been closed down so an email suggesting testing sites (or better yet offering testing at the port) if the Covid test is required for a specific itinerary would be good customer service. PLEASE look into this as soon as possible.
  13. Has anyone found anything different from MSC about the testing requirements for POS cruises from Dubai? Their website hasn't been updated lately and when I called their representative had no idea what the current requirements were. I have been trying to send an email to customer service, but can't find an email address anywhere on the website and any email address I've tried bounces back as nondelivered. I guess they don't want to be bothered with customer concerns. None of the other cruises out of Dubai and none of the ports we visit require the Covid test so I don't understand why the requirement for all "Grand Voyages" if that is what it is still considered to be. If anybody has been able to find out if the test is still required for the POS cruises please post. It's hard to find a testing site in Dubai anymore.
  14. I am stressing out trying to find a place to get a covid test in Dubai. I was hoping that by now that requirement would be cancelled since none of the ports on our itinerary are requiring a test. We are leaving in 2 days on a transatlantic cruise on Princess to Barcelona so I'm trying to decide what to do about this. We will fly from there to Dubai and arrive within the 48 hour window for getting a Covid test. Since our flight arrives in Dubai in the middle of the night we are staying at the Holiday Inn Express at the airport (they have a 24-hr shuttle). I have emailed them to ask if they know where we can get the test near the hotel (the airport is no longer testing), but haven't received a response. I called MSC today and although the rep tried to get some information for me I found out nothing. Does anyone know if we can get a test at the port? What are the rest of you doing?
  15. The website I used to apply for the SA visa was listed on the MSC website for the USA. I don't know why it wouldn't also work for Canada. The web address is https://visa.mofa.gov.sa I'll try to remember the sequence of steps to complete it. On the visa platform screen that pops up select Visitors. On the next screen select the far right window on the first row for Request for a visa from Saudi representations abroad. On the next screen click on Registration under the captcha to enter your email and select a password (you will need this for all the visas you are requesting). They will send you an email with a link to activate the account. Sign in with the email you registered. Click on Add a new application and you're ready to enter your information. For the visa type, scroll down the list and select Transit. For the Transport Mode select By Sea. Enter your personal information (and upload a photo) and when you've finished click Save. If all goes well it should return to the dashboard and issue you an application number. From the dashboard you can choose the link to Pay and also to print the application. I was only prompted to pay once for each visa. Be sure to print it so you will have a record of the application number and proof that you completed an application. I have not heard anything more from the applications so don't know when we will get the visas. Hope this helps, and good luck with it.
  16. I just finished the applications for the Saudi visa. The first one (mine) took 4 tries before it finally saved it--on the first 3 just as I was ready to save it would close up the app and I would have to start all over again. Very frustrating. However, when I did the one for my husband it went right through. I guess all that practice paid off! It only asked for one payment of $10.50 for each of us. It never said anything about insurance. Will I get an email later asking for additional payments?
  17. I just applied for the tourist visa for Saudi Arabia. Now just to wait for it to be approved. Use the website http://visa.mofa.gov.sa You first have to register with an email and password. When it asks for the type of visa, scroll down until it says Tourist. For mode of entry select By Sea. If you follow the instructions given on the MSC website (see my post above) it helps a lot. It took me more than one try to get the first one to save but in the end the applications were accepted. You pay by credit card--the application fee is $10.50 each. It never asked me for any other payments or to choose insurance, so I don't know if this is because we are from the US or if there was a glitch. Maybe they will send an email for more money after the application is received. Time will tell. By the way, the MSC website says if you do not leave the ship you will not need a visa for Saudi Arabia.
  18. Thanks for the information. We prefer to travel local when possible rather than take a tour so are looking for alternatives. Is it logical to assume that it will not be difficult to get a taxi from place to place? We were hoping to be able to take a local bus as we are not fond of the HOHOs.
  19. Since our flight into Dubai arrives at 3:15 am (on March 24) we have opted to stay at the Holiday Inn Express at the airport which offers a 24 hr shuttle service from airport to hotel. We will be staying there the short night after we arrive and the next night as well before we embark on our cruise ship which won't leave until the next evening. The hotel offers a free shuttle in the daytime to the Festival City Mall, Dubai Mall, Souk Al Marfa, and Al Mamzar Beach Park. What do you recommend from those choices? We will have another day in Dubai after we get on the ship. We were in Dubai a few years ago on a cruise stop and went to the Dubai Mall and up to the deck of Burj Kalifa so want to do something different this year. We realize that we will be arriving at the beginning of Ramadan so don't know how that will affect our choices. Any advice is welcome!
  20. Thank you for the reply. Is it walkable from Port Rashid to the metro station? If not, are taxis or shuttles available between the port and metro station and back? We will be embarking the MSC World Europa in Dubai and overnighting there after embarkation and will want to do some sightseeing on the day we have in port.
  21. I just checked my reservation on the website and our Grand Voyage on March 25 from Dubai to Genoa on World Europa is also now POS (whatever that means). I am also hoping that the Covid test requirement will be dropped before our cruise and the change to POS designation is our notice that it has been changed. I'll be watching the MSC website to see if anything is updated on their Health page.
  22. Also, is there a bus stop near the cruise port terminal for a bus that can take us to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque?
  23. What were most of the women wearing on formal night? Long formal gown, short cocktail dress, slacks and dressy blouse, regular everyday clothes???? I don't want to be too over- or under-dressed.
  24. If anyone has been to Dubai cruise port recently please post any information and experiences you have had about the port and how to access various sites around the city without taking a ship excursion. Also, which terminal does MSC use when docked overnight?
  25. Has anyone had experience with boarding in Dubai? We have been assigned a 5 pm boarding time (the ship overnights in port and leaves the next day). Our problem is that we have to be out of our hotel by noon on boarding day. I am definitely not waiting 5 hours to check our luggage and get checked in. We don't cruise until late March so wonder what the chances are that the boarding time will change, and if it really matters what time we've been assigned.
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