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About bbwex

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Sailing, scuba diving, photography
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  1. I agree with the comments by chengkp75, but the soot is inside from what I can gather. Unless the slider was open just as some soot was coming down, it is a bit of a mystery. It is possible that they were cleaning the cabin and had the slider open at an inopportune moment and some soot blew in. Still, it would have been on the chairs and table as well if that were the case.
  2. Seasickness is a fairly lengthy subject, but let's look at several things. If you do not get motion sick in other circumstances, you could still get seasick for a day or two, but you would be less likely to be someone to suffer more than a little. That being said, and though I have taken some flak for saying this, the latest thinking is that seasickness is primarily caused by a conflict between the eye and the inner ear. If you are down below or anywhere where you cannot see the horizon, and therefore the fact that you are moving, the eye will tell the brain that you are not moving and the inner ear will say that you are moving. And before people start to yell, some people still get seasick, but the conflict theory is the most current. To avoid the conflict, stay on deck and watch the ocean go by. The fresh air will help as well, but if you must go below, try to stay in a place where you can look out a window and see the horizon. Obviously they don't have windows in the bathrooms, but minimize the time you are away from where you can see the horizon. Although it is going to seem counter-intuitive, you want to eat at normal mealtimes. An empty stomach is not helpful. That being said, I would not over eat or eat a lot of greasy foods, but do have something in your stomach. In most cases (yes, I know, not all cases!!), seasickness will pass in a few hours or a day. DW always gets a little discomfort for the first day, but then is fine. Most people (yes, I know not ALL people) will adjust to the life of motion in a day or two at the most. A large cruise ship does not have anything like the motion of a small boat if you have been out fishing or something of that sort. However, the ocean is a whole lot bigger than any ship man has created, and every ship moves with the seas to some degree. If the seas are fairly calm, you might not even realize that you are moving, but if the seas pick up, the ship is going to move. How much any ship moves in a given sea state is exceptionally complicated, as there are many factors that get involved. There could be situations where a larger ship moves a bit more than a smaller ship due to some of those factors, none of which I will bore you with here. There are some things you can do to lessen some of the movement. If your cabin is closer to the middle going from the bow to the stern, known as "amidships," then you will move the least when the ship is pitching -- the bow and stern are going up an down. Think of it like a seesaw -- the movement is less and less the further you are towards the center, with almost nothing in the dead center. The more common motion, however, is rolling which is a side-to-side gentle rolling motion. To be in the center, you should have a cabin in the middle going from side to side, but that would put you in an interior cabin where you cannot see the horizon. Not a good idea! You would be somewhat better off in a lower cabin, as the arc of motion is shorter. They used to say stay as low as you can go. That gets us into some of the complicating factors I mentioned earlier. The Center of Motion on some of the modern, very high ships is not as low as it used to be. But still staying away from the highest decks is a slight advantage. The first thing I would say is to not talk yourself into a problem. There is a psychological component as well. If you keep worrying about getting seasick, you might just talk yourself into it. If you have not had motion sickness in a car, bus, etc., then don't worry. As I said, even if you sense a little at first, it will likely pass. At sea once, I had a young officer on my team who go seasick as we left the dock. The motion was not noticeable at all unless you looked at the buildings on the shore and they were moving. In that case, he had talked himself into being sick. Staying away from actual medicines, some people do quite well with ginger to ease any nausea. Ginger can be found in ginger snaps, ginger ale (if it has real ginger in it) and there are ginger pills available in a drug store. There are the seabands that have been mentioned, and these help some people. The next step would be an OTC drug such as Dramamine or Bonine. All of these should be started before the ship sails, preferably the day before. Not so much the ginger, as this can be started closer to when the ship departs. As with any medicine, check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if Dramamine or Bonine would interfere with any meds you might be on. There is the last resort -- the scopolamine transdermal patch. While a lot of people want to start here as it is the "best" thing. That is really not the case. It is a very strong drug, and should be used as a last resort when you have tried other options and nothing has worked. There are a whole bunch of side-effects, some mild, some not so mild, and this should only be after a discussion with your physician (this requires a prescription), and for those that are thinking about it, try it on dry land first to see how you react to it. I hope this has helped at least a little.
  3. While a Baltic cruise is a good choice, you really cannot rule out a trip around Italy or parts of the Med either. Another option would be a river cruise. They carry bikes for those that want to ride in each port, and there are tours and you can do self-walking tours in most places. Depending on the number of younger people, the bike availability on a river cruise might be of interest. On a regular cruise, with such a large group, you could easily do two different tours in each or many of the ports. I would strongly suggest that you do private tours as the younger members of the group will most likely get tired of bus tours that go no faster than the slowest member of the tour group. You can find many private tour options in most of the ports around Europe, and there will be some more adventurous and some less. Go on the Ports of Call section and look at some different port groupings and see what there is to do.
  4. Well, this is typically the time of year when Venice is semi-flooded at high tide. They have platforms that they set up to walk around some of the squares at high tide. My guess is that they will be fine once the November tides subside. It is a matter of time until Venice has to really deal with not only cruise ships but the fact that the city is slowly sinking. That is a ways off, though ultimately they have the problem of rising sea levels as well, but that too is likely decades in the future before it is a critical issue. They should likely start to deal with these in a realtime manner soon however. Only the U.S. seems to want to wait until we are beyond the tipping point before we do anything!
  5. We only opted to dine in one night, and though our butler had tried to do many things for us, we had been very non-demanding. When we did order, we did get some things from Polo and a couple of items from Red Ginger. Though they are two different kitchens, we were not told we could not do it, and our butler did not say anything. Perhaps he was not busy that night.
  6. We have been below the Terrace Cafe, though it was on an R ship, and there was no noise that I noticed, though I was concerned before we were aboard.
  7. As far as putting a suitcase under the bed, we have done it both ways depending on the ship. On one we left the suitcases open and the top flopped back and it went under the bed. On another we lifted the corner of the bed as suggested above, and put the suitcase closed under the bed. It was more a matter of getting past the frame.
  8. I think POSH was from the trips from England to India in the old days.
  9. I concur with the three days in St. Petersburg's being a requirement. We sailed with Oceania on Regatta (one of the R-class ships) and we were able to sail up the river and dock right across the river from the Hermitage. The larger ships have to stay out at the industrial docks, or at least did in 2009, and that is further away from everything and not as pretty of an area. We enjoyed Talinn, but it did not offer a whole lot to see. Helsinki was really nice for a day. A long stop at Rostock or Warnemunde which will allow a trip to Berlin would be important as well.
  10. We have done this twice, both times with grandchildren a bit younger, and we were taking them on Disney cruises. In both cases, we did not tell them where we were going, and when we got on the plane we still did not tell them. In one case we went to Disney World for one night first, but we told our older granddaughter that we were only there for one night and then going and staying in a cabin. With the other grandchildren, we stayed at Disney World for several days first, and then had a limo take us to the ship, and we didn't say a word until we got next to the ship. This might not work as well with older children, as they will need to pack and plan for the trip. You could do what many of the others have suggested, or you could just put a copy of the first page of the trip documents in an envelope and let them open them, presumably simultaneously. It's a nice surprise, and I am not sure that there is any bad way of doing it.
  11. I have to agree with Ride-The-Waves. Rather than thanking me, I too would feel better if the person did something for vets in need, or military members who are serving, i.e. USO, etc. I did what I thought I should do, and am proud of what I did. Lots of men and women who served and are serving can use some help
  12. You might post the initial question on the roll call for your cruise -- see the Roll Call section -- and then be talking with people who are going to be on your cruise.
  13. Both mine and DW's came within a week. DW did not have to go for an interview, but I did. In both cases, after whatever process they gave us, the cards came very quickly. I will note that they usually decide within a couple of days whether you have to go for an interview for renewal, and when they post the message in your PayGov account, or whatever it was for Global Entry, you have about 24 hours to react otherwise they make you start all over and pay all over. I was actually late, but the system still allowed me to make an appointment about 24 hours after the first 24 hours had expired. We did ours in the late spring, but the timing was very quick. I have not heard from any of our friends who have it that renewals are taking an inordinate amount of time. I know that they are hard to contact, but with this much time, I would do something to make sure that all is in order.
  14. There was an article in the "New York Times" today (10/24/19) that discussed how to avoid being overcharged when using your credit cards overseas. While the article focused a bit on India, the trick is common outside the U.S. Hotels, restaurants and others, though hotels and restaurants are prime "perpetrators" of a trick where they tell you that they will charge you (a U.S. citizen, but likely similarly for Canadian citizens, and potentially any other nationality) in U.S. dollars rather than the local currency. They might tell you that they are doing you a favor. In reality, they are overcharging you since they will charge anywhere from 3 - 8% more for the exchange than you would have paid if they had charged you in their local currency. Visa and Mastercharge will do the conversion automatically when posting the item to your account using wholesale exchange rates rather than the inflated rates you will be charged if you ask a foreign hotel, restaurant or store to charge you in U.S. currency. According to Visa and Mastercharge rules, they are required to ask you if you want to be charged in your home currency, and give you the option, but many are attempting to do it automatically. They might be correct that the machine they are using does it automatically, but if you demand the right to charge in local currency, they will be able to do it though sometimes they will have to use a different machine that is not programmed to charge you in your home currency. You do have the right to be charged in local currency. Foreign banks and third-party processors are sometimes part of the "scam" and share in the extra charges with the establishment where you ran your card. Amex users do not have this concern, as Amex charges are automatically done in local currency and converted by Amex.
  15. Someone else posted a bunch of pictures since the refurb, and the link to their pictures is https://flic.kr/s/aHsmG4GxEc
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