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Everything posted by WanderingBrit

  1. You're assuming that the intestinal distress was the result of onboard sanitation failings, rather than the varied array of food consumed ashore ....
  2. At the end of July we rolled up at 11:35am with no one ahead of us and walked straight on after a quick ID check 😎
  3. Absolutely standard - even when I'm able to print boarding passes they still say "Doc Check" somewhere on them.
  4. I saw that a new Cast had joined Valiant, do we know how long their contracts typically last? Trying to determine if they'll still be aboard on the February 10th sailing next year - I'm guessing probably not.
  5. If they were a traditional shore-based establishment, no soap in the bathrooms would get them shut down.
  6. Yes, it appears so. Eligible Loyalty Programs | Virgin Voyages
  7. We value the no children, largely inclusive, aspects of Viking and will be trying Virgin Voyages in February for a different take - with a little more emphasis on entertainment and onboard activities. We're also looking for a more dining diversity than Viking offers, and more casual settings. Don't know yet how it will go!
  8. I'll give you my tips, but this is very much a personal thing. I'm originally from the UK but have now lived in the US slightly more years than I lived there. For the last 20 years we've traveled to Aberdeen in Scotland at least once each year as we have a flat about an hour drive from there. Look for a flight leaving the US as late in the evening as possible. From O'Hare there are 2 BA flights during busier months, one between 5-6pm and one around 9-10pm - we always go for the later flight. Have dinner before boarding, and as soon as you're allowed to kick back do so, mask on and ear plugs in, and try to get as much sleep as you can. We always give ourselves 2 1/2 hours for our connection in Heathrow at an absolute minimum, I'd suggest the same at whichever airport you first land before connecting to Barcelona. We've learned that In T5 (which is where our BA flights all center around) there are subterranean walkways that you can take instead of the transit train to get from one concourse to another, we use that to walk as briskly as possible so as to convince ourselves we're awake even though our bodies think it's 4am. Once at Aberdeen I still need to drive a stick shift on the other side of narrow Scottish roads for an hour, and I'm usually holding up pretty well but my wife (11 years younger) is fading fast! At our final destination we try to get outside - hopefully in sunshine if it's available. Walk around as much as we can trying to kick start our body clocks to the change. The goal is to stay awake until 9/10pm that first night. DO NOT NAP. We take Melatonin with us as it's a controlled substance in many countries and cannot be purchased OTC, and I find it helps. Take as directed when going to bed. Usually the first night goes pretty well as you're exhausted from not enough sleep the night before. Assuming you wake any time after 5am, get up and get going! Your body clock will want you to sleep, but you need to get moving and get some sunlight. I'm an early morning guy anyway, so this plays to my preferences. Be as active as you can be during daylight hours, and avoid the temptation to sleep in after 7am or so - you're just prolonging the adjustment. Have a 1 hour nap around 2pm on your first full day if you want, but don't let it be any longer than that. Stay well hydrated, and perhaps be modest with alcohol that first day. Rinse and repeat! I would never arrive the day of departure for a cruise, just asking for trouble as unreliable as flying has become. I'd prefer to tack days on to the beginning rather than the end, as those days are helping me adjust to the time shift and providing a buffer for travel issues. Kevin
  9. I would only take flights from a cruise line if they were free, and I didn't care about the flight itinerary. Cruise lines contract with specific carriers only, and with low cost as the primary goal. You may find yourself making more connections, with less convenient departure times, than if you were given your own choice. If I lacked confidence making these arrangements for myself, I would find someone working in the field who could make those arrangements for me. Here's a relevant video from a chap I like and trust that describes what can go wrong when the cruise line arranges your flights. I recommend watching it through YouTube in order that you can read the notes accompanying it.
  10. And be sure to click the YouTube link in the video so you see the review in the YouTube site, as that way you can read the accompanying notes with each "Where's Walter" video, plenty of extra information about how to get the most from a VV sailing. 😇
  11. I flew SWA 2514 from MSP to MDW last Thursday, but that aircraft and flight number then continued to PHL. At the gate Flight 2514 is shown as having Chicago as the destination, then the display changes and it shows 2514 with Philadelphia as the destination.
  12. I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but I don't believe Virgin has sailed to these ports before and so it won't be possible for anyone to have had first had experience with these excursions yet.
  13. You may purchase an airport transfer from Viking for $49 per person, even if you don't buy the flight from them, providing you depart on the last day of the cruise. There's a Transfer request form you complete and email to them, then the details will appear on your updated invoice - I don't know if the form is different for UK passengers than it for US, but attached what we used. We did this for our last Viking cruise, and I felt it was worth the cost. Porters loaded our luggage from the cruise terminal to a bus for us, when we arrived at the airport we waited aboard the bus until all the bags were loaded on luggage carts attended by another porter. We disembarked the bus and the porter pushed our bags to the checkin desk, where they left us - all provided by Viking as part of the transfer. Disclaimer: this was for Bergen, where things are likely more smoothly handled than Miami. Transfer-Request-Form_2020.pdf
  14. Every aspect of travel is simpler, cleaner, and overall more pleasant in Norway than almost anywhere in the US. Our last cruise had us flying Bergen - Copenhagen, Copenhagen - Reykjavik, Reykjavik to Chicago. After polite, considerate staff and terminals with hardwood floors and Scandinavian decor, arriving in O'Hare felt like we'd landed in Afghanistan after a terrorist attack.
  15. I've only used Viking Air once, but in that case it was as has been described: we could find our booking using the 6 character reservation code on the Airline site, but it wasn't until around 55-60 days that it was actually ticketed - meaning Viking paid the airline for it. At that point I could make changes to the seat, and even upgrade directly with the airline.
  16. @raphael360 Try watching the YouTube video "Virgin Voyages Cruise Review: Scarlet Lady A Big Surprise!", as Walter provides a great perspective on VV. Read the intro/comments associated with that video for information relevant to your quest 🙂
  17. Orion the first time, Jupiter the second time. In The World Cafe (buffet) you're not limited to what you see - tell them what you'd like and they'll do their best to accommodate you - especially if it's just a variation of what they're already serving.
  18. Our specific experience was that allergies were treated very seriously, a "largely vegetarian" preference was not.
  19. I think we've established that this isn't a case of a "Solid Reputation" not being earned, but you having uninformed expectations related to European aircraft configurations.
  20. Champagne is now covered on the SS package, two glasses and you're ahead financially on any given day. We struck up a relationship with one of the Head Waiters, and would take his recommendations from the "by the glass" list - provided nice variety at meals without committing to a bottle. Try a glass and if you don't care for it, just ask for something else. We also found that, especially at the Aquavit Terrace bar, a G&T was always a double once it was established that you were on the SS package. A certain efficiency to that. It also empowered me to try cocktails I'd never ordered before simply because I didn't fear wasting money on something I didn't like.
  21. Two experiences: On our first cruise my wife indicated that she was Vegetarian and also had other restrictions, and a member of staff tracked us down every day to discuss options. On the second cruise she indicated "Mostly Vegetarian" and it appeared to have no impact at all. We found World Cafe to be the most successful venue for us, for all meals, for a variety of reasons: It's easy to choose what to put on your plate The Chef's - any with colored piping on their jacket - are readily accessible and will make something specifically for you, just ask. We had an entirely custom Indian meal served by one of the Chefs simply because we'd been discussing challenges getting Methi leaves and poor quality of Icelandic Cilantro. The noodle station by the Aquavit terrace has a menu binder and will cheerfully make just about any Asian stir fry dish you ask for There's always Pizza It was quieter and calmer than The Restaurant, and service was much faster 😉 The Pool Grill serves an excellent Impossible Burger, Chefs Table is extremely accommodating and always has good Vegetarian alternatives. We have an upcoming cruise on Virgin and I'm expecting things to be even easier, because their menus are already very "preference aware".
  22. On our most recent sailing what was being served in Chef's Table was not what was listed on the app, but then the Officer's display board also listed the wrong Executive Chef for the entirety of the cruise. Also, contrary to collective wisdom, there were no open slots for Chef's Table once onboard unless we were OK sharing a table.
  23. Bearing in mind how frequently we hear questions around dress code - "I know it says no Jeans, but will they actually refuse us entry?" - one has to assume that there are plenty of entitled travelers who might well complain if asked to turn it down. It's a tough situation; as a guest my dinner should not be negatively impacted either by another guest's boorish behavior, or the socially uncomfortable need to ask them to do something about it - either directly or via the staff. I had commented elsewhere that I didn't like the noise level in The Restaurant, or being bellowed at from two tables away by someone who felt they just had to strike up a conversation with strangers (us). Plenty of responses suggested that people didn't know why I'd go on a cruise if I wasn't interested in random conversations over meals with strangers, so clearly expectations are not aligned.
  24. This thread should be titled "Is it true that European aircraft are configured differently to US Domestic" We've been flying BA almost exclusively for the last 20 years, simply because there's no easier way to get from a US city to our Scottish home near Aberdeen. They also have a great rewards program that lets us get 2 business class tickets using only the miles for 1 each year when we spend enough on our BA Visa card. Most of the issues we've encountered have been related to Heathrow, not BA. There have been a frustrating number of flight cancellations and associated re-bookings, especially in the past 3 years, and the T5 connection experience always fills me with dread. When connecting at T5 - unless from a UK domestic flight - passengers must travel through at least security screening, and sometimes immigration also depending on the onward destination. In truth this always seems worse than it ends up being, especially if you have "Fast Track" as a result of being a Club World passenger. Keep your eyes open for the Fast Track signs, expect to go through security screening and remember you're not in America. Liquids go in a smaller bag than they do for the TSA and there's no pre-check. We're always seated in one of the 3 T5 lounges in under 45 minutes from arrival, more typically 25, and we once landed at T3, transferred to T5, and were in the lounge right at 60 minutes. Unless arriving from a UK domestic flight do not accept a connection time of less than 2hrs 30mins for simple peace of mind at Heathrow T5. Use extra time to relax in one of the lounges. To get the circulation flowing after being still on a long flight, considering walking from concourse to concourse instead of taking the shuttle train using one of the little known tunnels. Club World, especially in the newly remodeled Club Suites, is a great travel experience. I'm 6'3" and easily lie flat on the bed. There's privacy with the door shut, the crew are outstanding, and the food is excellent.
  25. It seems entirely likely that your luggage will be transported to the hotel, and left with the porters there. Leaving luggage when arriving before check-in or departing after check-out is entirely routine with all hotels I've stayed at, and not something I would see as an incremental risk.
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