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Everything posted by jollyjones

  1. Thanks, that's just what I needed to know. Now I can renew as early as is convenient without feeling I'm losing months, especially since I don't live in the US and I'd need a good lead time if I were to be picked for an interview. Although the website now shows an option of 'interview on arrival' (or some such phrase) meaning you just walk into their office at a major airport when you arrive from an international flight and are seen without an appointment - they seem to be encouraging one to do that which would suit me fine. MIA even has (supposedly) a 24 hr office!
  2. Thanks for the tales along the way, just one last piece of info please - when it happens, can you post what tenders they use to take you ashore, and to which dock - presumably the Greenwich Pier just by the Cutty Sark? Since I'm embarking there later this year, hopefully getting there by RiverBus, the info will be very useful! PS Isn't it the Cup Final today? Starting imminently? I wonder if that affects who's working ...
  3. Just out of interest since I will need to renew my GE in due course, if you renew well in advance of your GE expiry date (can do it up to a year in advance according to the website), do you get five years from the date of your new approval or five years from the date of expiry of the old GE? Not a big deal, just wondering how early to do it - when I renewed my (UK) passport early, I got ten years from the date of expiry of the old passport so I didn't 'lose' the time from renewing early. And what's the GE renewal fee? Thanks.
  4. Colin departs on Jun 22nd, which is when I board. Not entirely unhappy about this as I found Colin's recent trivia to not be so much fun, will be OK to go back to Allan.
  5. Actually, my friend is not a regular cruiser and barely knows what ship she's on, I doubt she has any idea who the Captain was. Otherwise she's extremely intelligent, but doesn't do cruise minutiae.
  6. I am on the Wind on the Jun 22nd cruise and have no worries about it. I was on her for 20 days in April and 14 days in January so I know what I'm talking about. However, that will be my last cruise on her, not just because I don't do expedition cruising but mostly because, having sailed the Muse and the Spirit (pre- and post- stretch), I find the Wind just too small and lacking in dining choices, particularly since they don't change the menus as much as they used to. Eagerly awaiting the Moon! And the Arts Cafe on the Shadow!
  7. I will shortly be on a cruise that includes Norway and Denmark and am grateful to the info here that I can use debit cards for almost everything. I am also aware of the differences in tipping cultures on the different sides of the Atlantic. However, my question is - when I am on a ship's excursion I would normally tip the guide and driver in cash at the end, is that still the norm in Norway? Or is it considered that the fee for the excursion covers it? I have no problem getting krone from an ATM but since the cruise doesn't start in Norway, it might be tricky to find an ATM before boarding the tour bus at the first port of call.
  8. Thought so, wasn’t sure. Glad your arm’s sorted and oh yes, def ready for trivia!
  9. Well Spins, there’s always the other Moon TA heading out from your bit of the world in March 2021; I’m booked on that one too. BTW, are we on the same Whisper TA this September?
  10. I've bought this same TA on the Moon, paid in full - at under $350 per diem solo occupancy verandah it's a good price. I book early to get the best location suite within a category so I can go with a cheaper category; I pay in full for the 10% EBB - I have found SS to be prompt in refunding money for a cancellation or a price drop (yes, that does happen) so I don't feel it's an unacceptable gamble paying it all so early. The dates of the Shadow crossing a month later suit me better but I'm just finishing up 20 days on the Wind and have come to the conclusion that she's too small, I want to get back on the big girls. It's not so much the size, it's the lack of choice of eateries, and the claustrophobic main bar - I'm in the minority but I so much prefer Dolce Vita. (That's for trivia - I usually drink in Panorama). The Shadow may be better if they do put in an Arts cafe, we'll see. I'm doing the Moon TA the other way Nov 2020 (along with others ...) so I hope the Moon lives up to it's hype. PS It may be a small or non-existent contributor to sales, but I'd suspect people are psychologically less likely to cancel a fully paid cruise than one still requiring a hefty payment?
  11. Definitely not suffering xocolovophobia, today’s phobia in Colin’s trivia. And I got only two candy eggs, but made up for it with a chocolate bunny, chicken, and duck.
  12. OMG what a reputation to precede me! I too have noticed a relaxation of the dress code but we’re Caribbean so I’m not so surprised. At least it was relaxed last week on the infamous Cuba debacle (jeans in the MDR, least of our problems), it’s formal tonight and it’s quite dressy. Plenty of tuxedos; there’s one woman in a tight black off the shoulder long frock with a huge black and white striped frill around the top, looks like a flower vase out of the 1960s. Also long black gloves. Unbelievable that anyone still dresses that way.
  13. The problems were partly of my own making and partly of the itinerary - some of which were caused by SS and some by bad luck. I bought the cruise as a b2b W Carib and E Carib 18 months ahead of time. 6 months ahead of time SS changed the W Carib to Cuba - by then I had the plane tickets bought and multiple other arrangements made around this cruise and other trips so it would have been a major problem to cancel, nor could I change to another cruise because of timings. So I already felt a bit trapped before I started. First stop was an overnight at Santiago de Cuba where the dock had been damaged months before but not repaired so we were anchored ... rather too close to some sort of industrial plant belching out foul black smoke which smelt revolting. It was a 30 minute tender ride which I was unwilling to do - I find tendering very unpleasant even for a short ride, it's a claustrophobia type thing - so I felt trapped on the smelly ship for two days, didn't see anything of Santiago apart from the haze of pollution hanging over the town in the distance. Then we turned round and went back the way we'd come to Havana for a single day (8am - 5.30pm) stop. I, as had everyone, had signed the affidavit to say I'd do a person-to-person cultural thing to satisfy the US rules so I went on a qualifying SS tour supposedly a 'panoramic overview of Havana' (sounded good on paper) which turned out to be an endless drive around Havana's suburbs. The coach stopped and we got off periodically but it was difficult to concentrate on whatever we were supposed to be looking at because of the overwhelming clouds of black exhaust fumes from all the vehicles both old and new - no emission controls here! I felt I couldn't breathe for five hours and I have no respiratory problems. The old American cars were the worst culprits and they were everywhere but once you'd seen one you'd seen them all, they were of no interest to me. The tour should have had a health warning. Back at the ship, once I'd recovered from the exhaust fume headache and nausea, it was too late to go into Old Havana and wander around which was the only thing I actually wanted to do. It's a shame I didn't grasp until too late that all you have to do to satisfy the US is sign the affidavit - you don't have to actually do a person-to-person cultural thing (unless your conscience insists) - the Cubans couldn't care less what you do, I could have just gone wandering around Old Havana on my own all day with no problem. There should have been an overnight at Havana rather than Santiago. Then we had the joy of Nassau because you can't sail directly back to the US from Cuba and there's no good cruise ports in the Bahamas. Ugh, Nassau is such a dump, I gave up getting off the ship there many visits ago. But wait, there's more - our final stop was meant to be Bimini - I knew that'd be a long tender but I thought I'd stay on the ship, a 'sea day' at anchor in the ocean breezes would be OK. But at the last minute we were told that the sea might be making up a bit so the tender ride (which was 55 minutes) would be difficult so it was cancelled and instead we had two full days in Nassau docked with massive ships and thousands and thousands of cruise pax. So my Western Caribbean 9 day cruise turned into just one five hour drive around Havana's suburbs. PS The weather has been mostly glorious, and I am cruising, and I am optimistic about the Eastern Caribbean leg that we have just commenced so life is, on balance, very good. Just a shame about Cuba, I feel kinda cheated out of seeing what I wanted to see.
  14. And good riddance. I am on the Wind toward the end of a Cuba cruise and it is by far the worst cruise itinerary I’ve been on. The crew are as great as ever, but the rest has been problematic. Usually if something doesn’t go well, I take that as an excuse to do the cruise again in the future. I will never do this one again. Now I am worried about having two large and very obvious Cuba stamps in my passport - I transit frequently through the US, I just hope there won’t be problems with the CBP if things really tighten up.
  15. The TSA app (MyTSA) is useful to show you which security checkpoints have a pre-check lane that is open - there may not be many! And MIA is so much bigger than FLL, the walk to the gate may take ages. I never find the Skytrain to be much use because there are so few stations but it may help you. I wouldn't book a 9am flight, I think it'd be awfully tight and uncomfortable timing.
  16. Hope you enjoy it but I'll not be there to wave you off when you depart Bermuda on the 19th as I shall be back in Fort Lauderdale on the turnaround day for my b2b cruises on the Wind! PS make sure you're on deck for the sail in or out, it takes about an hour once you come through the reef and it's worth seeing.
  17. Sounds like a walk in shower with a shower seat could be your safest option. That works well for my very elderly father who has similar problems to yours.
  18. That's what SS keep saying but how's that going to work in practice? It's not just the ship, you need an experienced expedition crew to tackle the polar regions - the Antarctic (and presumably the Arctic) cruising seasons are short, what are they going to do while she's doing classic cruises? Not to mention that I bet it'll be 'classic' cruises at expedition prices ...
  19. And I'm already in Lauderdale, to board the Wind on Wednesday - who's going to wave me away?
  20. Ahhh ... the indescribable feeling of watching your favorite ship sail away without you ... Thank goodness I'm on the Wind on Wednesday for three weeks or I'd be desolate.
  21. Jimmy K told me that Moss has gone to the Expedition side because SS wants to improve the entertainment offerings there so Moss will develop the programme. PS And much as Colin enjoys and is good at his job, surely he must be wanting to retire soon?
  22. Hmmm ... I wonder if SS is finding itself a little depleted in CDs? Maybe some very new faces coming soon? PS I was also looking forward to Luke as a CD, will miss him. Hope his career flourishes.
  23. Hope you like expedition cruising then. After next summer the larger ladies will be your only choice for classic cruising. And, IMO, you seem to be limiting yourself - I love the new Spirit, like the Muse, and am eagerly looking forward to trying the Moon. The Whisper I find a bit meh - neither the choices of the Spirit nor the intimacy of the Wind.
  24. Well that'll show SS what happens when it stops CDs performing their shows! Altho' I suspect it's something more prosaic like a young up-and-coming ocean cruise line ...
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