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Sekhmet

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Everything posted by Sekhmet

  1. Thanks again for all the information, and giving us a flavour of the cruise; we're looking forward even more to our October trip.
  2. We had to call Saga yesterday about our October cruise, and took the opportunity to ask about tests. The lady who answered was very helpful, and said we would have a Lateral Flow Test (LTF) in the car park before boarding, and another test (presumably LTF again) in the final 72 hours of the trip, after which the ship would assist with filling in the Passenger Locator Forms, if required. Finally, and this ties up with Silverbike's useful information, a sample will be taken on disembarkation day and sent away for analysis. The laboratory then send the results back to Saga, who will contact anyone who unfortunately had a positive result. She said this counts as the mandatory test which has to be taken within 48 hours of entering the UK, maybe because our last two days are at sea and the powers that be have accepted this as effectively being back home. All in all, it does sound to be well organised and as trouble-free as possible.
  3. African Safari Club (now defunct) Azamara Celebrity Cunard Clarkson Holidays (now defunct) Fred. Olsen Galapagos Tourism (now defunct) Holland America Marella (Thomson) MSC Noble Caledonian Norwegian Oceania P&O Australia P&O UK Princess Regent Seven Seas Voyages of Discovery (now defunct) Saga Cruises and Hurtigruten booked Plus a number of river cruise lines, and a few ferries.
  4. Good point, and that thought had occurred to us - maybe Saga give us that information on board as well. Whatever, when it gets nearer to the time, we'll ask the question of both Saga and our travel agent. Plus, now that Saga have restarted non-UK cruises, if there are any CruiseCritic members on board, perhaps they could post the answer, please?
  5. We are sailing in October and have also received a letter with some details - ref the tests as above, our letter states "We will take care of all the necessary arrangements for you to take both of these tests and instructions will be provided on board. All testing costs are included in your cruise fare." That sounds like we don't have to do anything (other than keep healthy!), and Saga will take care of the organising, which is good news and good customer service, we think.
  6. Been reading this with interest. For those who prefer a watch but haven't one, should you find yourself in the Turkish port of Kusadasi (the start point to visit Ephesus), you might like to try the emporium for high class timepieces being advertised here?
  7. Good to see this, as it's about the same time we started cruising. Another change we remember as well as the formal nights and fixed dining times was being offered a choice of a smoking or non-smoking table allocation in the restaurant! Galaxy was launched in 1996 (and we sailed with her in 2001 to the Baltic) and sold to the new cruise line TUI in 2009 to become the wonderfully named "Mein Schiff". She was transferred within the TUI Group to Marella (ex-Thomson) in 2018 and renamed "Explorer". We were lucky enough to fit in a Canaries cruise on board just before lockdown in February last year, and she still looked very smart. We can also remember Amanda Reid during her Cunard days, probably around 2013. One other thing struck us, particularly in the first show, was that how nervous Jane Mc Donald was compared to the perpetual extrovert of her later shows.
  8. Interesting to see that two (small) American operators have followed suit in making vaccinations mandatory: "American Queen Steamboat Company and its sister company Victory Cruise Lines will become the first North American cruise operators to require all passengers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for setting sail, beginning July 1, 2021." Quoted from article on CruiseCritic
  9. We have had this happen to us once on a Celebrity Galaxy cruise to the Baltic and St Petersburg - here's the reason: On 2 June 2001, while departing Amsterdam in the Netherlands for a two-week cruise the Galaxy touched bottom on an outskirt of Forteiland at Ijmuiden due to heavy northwesterly squalls, resulting in major damage to the port side propeller. The ship returned to the Port of Amsterdam for inspection and disembarkation of the passengers. The cruise had to be cancelled as the Galaxy went into drydock at Blohm + Voss in Hamburg, Germany. There it was discovered that all four blades of the port side propeller would have to be replaced; however the ship only carried two spare blades on board. To solve the problem two extra propeller blades carried on board Galaxy's sister ship MV Mercury were flown from the Caribbean to Hamburg and installed on the Galaxy. Following repairs the ship re-entered service on 16 June 2001. Celebrity were excellent - staff were flown in, first from the UK then from Florida to arrange repatriation, hotels, other onward travel etc. We were easy, just needing flights back to Birmingham, but many of the US passengers were staying in Europe for extended periods, and the Line organised for them to be accommodated and transported to catch up with their future plans. We were all refunded the cost of the cruise, and given another, free 14-night cruise - we used ours to rebook onto the first come-back cruise mentioned above which meant we did get our Baltic trip that year. Because we were the only passengers from the so-called "Propeller Cruise" to venture back straight away, we got a bit of VIP treatment, including an invitation to dine at the Captain's Table.
  10. We're quite comfortable with this. As has been mentioned in other threads, mandatory vaccination against certain diseases in certain countries isn't unusual; Yellow Fever being the one that immediately springs to mind, which we've had at least three times over the years for travel in Africa and South America, and our vaccination record and certificates are kept with our passports, health cards etc. Whenever we are planning to travel somewhere more out of the way, we seek the advice of our Surgery Practice Nurse who matches our itinerary against the current health recommendations, and we tend to follow that advice.
  11. I can confirm this - we have had a Saga cruise booked for quite a long time, which is due to sail in October this year, and have just had a letter spelling out the details. A specific point is made that exemption from receiving the vaccine, as well as choosing not to be vaccinated will both mean not being allowed to cruise with Saga. They also say that, in order to allow guests time to be fully vaccinated, their return to service had been pushed back from 3rd April to May/June. The UK vaccination programme should mean that most eligible people will have been offered the vaccine by then.
  12. I can confirm this - we have had a Saga cruise booked for quite a long time, which is due to sail in October this year, and have just had a letter spelling out the details. A specific point is made that exemption from receiving the vaccine, as well as choosing not to be vaccinated will both mean not being allowed to cruise with Saga. They also say that, in order to allow guests time to be fully vaccinated, their return to service had been pushed back from 3rd April to May/June. The UK vaccination programme should mean that most eligible people will have been offered the vaccine by then.
  13. As a general rule in Europe from the UK, little other than a passport is needed, although as the post-Brexit arrangements evolve, things may change. I'd suggest using the Foreign Office website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice as a starting point. If you've not seen it before, it lists over 200 countries and territories, and each includes a section on entry requirements, health, safety and so on. Currently, there are also the temporary (hopefully) COVID rules. Cruise brochures and your travel agent, if you've used one, should also offer useful information. Hope this helps.
  14. JB, This brings back memories of a similar route about 10 years ago, but also including Sochi. It does have the hallmarks of the now-defunct Voyages of Discovery - was that the line? It was our first visit to Istanbul, and covered many of the sights you listed, except the Topkapi Palace. The reason being that, on the day we were there, the Government had closed the Palace to tourists in order to make a promotional film to attract more tourists! Pure irony! However, we did get to see the Palace on a subsequent visit.
  15. This is also what we saw last year en route from New Zealand to Fiji. We were awakened about 7am (first light) by an arriving helicopter which hovered above the landing pad. We watched on TV via the bow camera as a crew member and stretcher were lowered to collect a passenger and then winched back up. The passenger's spouse stayed on board for two more days until we reached Fiji and she could get back to New Zealand. We learned later that we had turned around about 4am to sail back towards the Bay of Islands in order to meet the helicopter at the earliest opportunity, around a 75 mile each way detour for the ship. We understood later from the officers that the passenger was recovering.
  16. Our first two cruises were in 1996, the year of our Silver Wedding celebrations. The first was a short trip out of Mombasa to Zanzibar, Comoros and Madagascar as part of an East Africa trip organised by the African Safari Club. The ship was the 5000t, 200 passenger "Royal Star". Later that year we took our first trip to the Caribbean and our first cruise on a big ship - Norwegian's "Seaward". Well, it was big then at 42,000t and with 1,500 passengers! A back-to-back visiting both the Western and Southern parts. For our Golden Wedding in January 2021, we booked another Caribbean cruise, this time on Celebrity's "Reflection", aiming to visit many of the same islands we had been to 25 years earlier. For obvious reasons, this isn't going to happen, so we plan to start looking for a belated Golden cruise when circumstances permit.
  17. I'm sure JB will come up with lots of useful information as usual, but meanwhile you might like to look at the Heritage Railway Association website www.heritagerailways.com The site includes a map with links to the individual railways, museums, tramways etc. The Mid-Hants "Watercress" line is probably the nearest to Southampton, and the Swanage isn't too far. Unfortunately, the railway on which I am a volunteer, the Severn Valley Railway, is a little too far away for your brother-in-law to make it there and back in a day. Hope this helps.
  18. Does this mean other bands may be similarly disadvantaged? Do we have to get used to the heavy metal band BD/ED? Or the Norwegian pop band B-ib? And the reggae band from Birmingham - VC51?
  19. Just spotted this in a different thread (courtesy of sparks1093 of Vermont), and thought it fitted well here. "I just told our suitcases that we aren't going on vacation this year. Now I have emotional baggage."
  20. Agreed, need to test out plans if possible before moving forward. For example, I am a volunteer on a heritage steam railway which we are planning to reopen to the public in August, so next week we are running three trains a day using only railway staff as passengers to find out if the safety plans are robust, and alter them if not. Seems sensible?
  21. I was sent a picture yesterday, with the title "One for the Girls". It showed a personnel man interviewing a young lady for a job. He said to her "I'm looking for someone who can do the work of at least three men!", and she replied "Oh, what a disappointment - I was looking for a full time job".
  22. We've been lucky enough to have made over 40 cruises across 18 different lines, with Berlitz star ratings from 2 to 4+ (some of these are no longer sailing), and for us, we also consider the combination of both itinerary and ship. For example, our California to Hawaii and back trip had eight sea days, so the ship itself and its facilities were important, and we chose Cunard for this one. On the other hand, for a Mediterranean cruise with a different port almost every day, the ship is a lot less important, so itinerary would be the main factor and we've been happy with ships rated towards the lower end of the scale. Like LHT above, if we are asked about a line, we describe it as best we can and pick out certain key features which we think our friends may not be happy with e.g. if they don't like formal, avoid Cunard, if they want a quiet trip round the Med, avoid MSC in summer, and so on.
  23. Even if it's not actually changing to a connecting flight - it may be different now, but in 2014 we flew from Paris to Papeete with Air France, with a stop in Los Angeles, presumably for refuelling. We all had to leave the aircraft and spent the next two hours being processed before reboarding for the second leg to Papeete, same aircraft, same flight number, although we were allowed to leave all our luggage and personal possessions on board. I did wonder at the time why such a big airport as Los Angeles didn't have what we would call an international transit lounge where passengers could all be quarantined during the stopover?
  24. I read that it started off as a result of conversations between Johnson and Macron, but the European Commission (or similar) decreed that it would not be allowable during the transition period to single out France for 'special treatment', and such an exemption would have to apply to all 27 EU countries.
  25. Some data from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for 2018: 9% aged 12 and under 6% 13 - 19 9% 20 - 29 11% 30 - 39 15% 40 - 49 18% 50 - 59 19% 60 - 69 14% the over 70s Golden Oldies. Hope this helps.
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