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John Bull

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About John Bull

  • Rank
    10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Lee-on-the-Solent, England
  • Interests
    vintage & classic vehicles
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Voyages of Discovery
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. John Bull

    Which Caribbean?

    Only if your ship departs an American port such as mainland USA or San Juan in Puerto Rico, or calls at an American port such as St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Normally PandO and the other Brit ships don't. But an ESTA is no big deal (unless you have a dark history ), takes a few minutes on-line and only costs about $15 (do it on the OFFICIAL US gov website). JB
  2. John Bull

    non usa buying from usa travel agents

    True. And port fees are included too. But those things simply don't account for the HUGE price differences that we,ve seen. We Brits get ripped off, but that's nothing compared to the way Aussies get screwed. We've booked thro US t/a's in the past and benefitted from the big big price differences, and the price-drops (not available in the U.K.) and the deposit refunds (also not available in the U.K. - deposits are non-refundable from the moment they're paid). We always paid by cc because that replicates the refund security of U.K. t/a's if the t/a goes belly-up. In recent years the poor exchange rate for sterling has negated much of the price difference, and nowadays we do just as well by booking very late, and usually with a UK cruise line JB
  3. John Bull

    How to reply to a person's post

    Yep, that's about it. You can't delete a post. Within that 20 min period you can edit a post by deleting all that you've posted and replace it with "deleted" or "sorry, wrong thread" or "oops, my bad" or some such. after that editing period the only way a post can be deleted is by asking the moderators - click on "report this post" top right of the past, and take it from there. JB
  4. John Bull

    Which Caribbean?

    Heed Jocap's post. Except for "Tortilla", which should read Tortola (Jo will probably blame the silly auto-correct for that ). P&O and Marello and Fred Olsen (my preference would be P&O) offer fly-cruises which can't be beaten on price, which fly direct from regional airports (everyone on the plane is on your cruise), with oh-so-easy transfers (you hand over your checked luggage at your UK airport and you don't see it again til it appears outside your cabin, you don't even go into the airport terminal at Barbados / St Lucia - you walk 20 yards from plane to transfer bus, so much better than fighting your way through US immigration, the baggage carousel etc), you stay aboard until your home bound flight is called rather than being unceremoniously thrown off the ship at 9am. All very civilised. Ship's currency is sterling (no currency exchange fees), no automatic "gratuities" added, and lower on- board prices generally. Then there are the ports. The southern Caribbean is good, IMHO the western Caribbean not so good. But for a Brit the eastern Caribbean is ideal. Lots of colonial history. British, and probably French and Dutch, perhaps Spanish, depending on your itinerary. Very easy to DIY, the usual routine is to disembark around 9.30, negotiate a tour with the minibus drivers at the port - agree price in US Dollars, broad itinerary, broad timescale, before you board and pay when you get back, it's the norm. You'll be sharing with like-minded folk from your ship. Cost will be about a quarter of what the ship charges for the same itinerary but is for transport only - no food or drink included. Drivers at the port are friendly, reliable & trustworthy, they know their island and they know the importance of your "back on board time". Take your beach stuff with you and ask the driver to drop you off at the end of the tour at a beach near the ship. If it's not walkable he can arrange a time to come back for you, or suggest alternatives such as a water-bus. Caribbean with PandO was my first cruising experience, and I highly recommend it. JB
  5. John Bull

    If you had to choose? Hanoi or Halong Bay cruise?

    Junk cruise. At least a four hour cruise, ideally six hours. Overnite cruises used to be difficult because they go out at 11am and return at 10am, timed to suit folk based in Hanoi. But I think they've latched onto how that doesn't fit in with cruisers' schedules so hopefully better prospects nowadays JB
  6. The usual offering is Salisbury (historic little city with amazing cathedral) plus Stonehenge. You can do the same independently using the train to Salisbury (half-hourly service, 35 minute journey, about £11 return) then Stonehenge Tour bus from Salisbury to Stonehenge (buy your Stonehenge tickets from the bus driver, no need for "timed" admission) - tour bus round trip to Stonehenge takes about an hour, plus such time as you want at Stonehenge (60 to 90 minutes is normal), then such time as you have to spare in Salisbury before the train back to Southampton. Do check your back-on-board time to be sure you have time to do it independently. Or take the train to Winchester (about 15 mins). Another historic city with a very old cathedral. Southampton isn't a tourist city but there's enough to keep a visitor occupied for a day. In the walled city (close to most cruise terminals) the Medieval Merchant's House and some nice pubs. Or at the top end of the city centre, Sea City museum, which majors on Titanic. Sorry, no links - I'm travelling and relying on an old and recalcitrant I-Pad, so google those options. BTW only one h in Southampton JB
  7. Despite your numbers, the Nationl Express bus might till be the cheapest option, but it's worth checking out a private transfer. Private-hire regulations are much easier with vehicles which carry 8 passengers or less, and a lot of operators use 12-16 seat size vans (we call them minibuses) but with luggage space instead of seats at the back, so your group size is ideal for two vans. Sorry, can't help with recommendations for operators in London. JB
  8. John Bull

    Laundry in Southampton

    There's a new Premier Inn ( a renovation of an older hotel) just a couple of minutes from the launderette in Grosvenor Place. Premier Inn is a very well -respected national chain (another Premier Inn, Premier Inn West Quay, close to Hol Inn, is very popular with cruisers.) But it's not convenient to City Cruise Terminal, and Hol Inn (or Premier Inn West Quay) are ideal - you'll also meet up with other cruisers at those properties. JB
  9. Premier Inn is a well-respected national budget chain, and at around £100 per night you're getting very good value for that location JB
  10. Brexit is about the UKs relationships with its neighbours, particularly trade and the right to living and working in the various countries. I don't see that Brexit will have much impact on travel by non-Europeans on vacation. Unlike almost all of mainland Europe, the UK and Ireland have never been members of the Schengen open-borders convention, a convention which means there's no passport checks etc between member countries. But everone goes through a passport check when they travel between the UK and mainland Europe, or between Ireland and mainland Europe. That'always been the case. The UK and Ireland have their own mini-version of Schengen, whereby travel between the two is border-free and passport-free. Finding a way of keeping that Ireland / UK border open has been a major stumbling block in the Brexit negotiations, since the U.K. Is leaving but Ireland isn't. It's the one area which may affect your travel, but only in the form of standard border controls between Ireland and the U.K. Schengen countries rely on each-other to maintain their external borders. The UK and Ireland rely on each-other to maintain their external borders. Schengen has made travel through Europe very easy and regulation-free. But it has also opened mainland Europe to unrestricted internal travel by refugees, economic migrants and terrorists. The UK and Ireland have been much more successful in countering those problems. There!s talk of Brits requiring visas to visit EU countries and vice-versa. But there's also talk of Americans etc requiring visas or the equivalent of ESTAs. Thats mebbe for the future. But I really don't think that Brexit will impact visitors JB
  11. From London Heathrow , coach (bus) service of www.national express.com is cheap, reliable, comfortable and simple. You are strongly advised to pre-book, Tripmaven's booking for 3 hours after touchdown was perhaps a little pessimistic, 2 hours should be comfortable - but (for journeys from airports only) if you're early or late you can switch to an earlier or later bus than the one that you booked. You need to know your Heathrow terminal - for terms 2 and 3 you book from Heathrow central bus station, a 10 to 15 min walk, or from term 4 and term 5 the bus picks up on the concourse outside both of those terminals. Your destination is Southampton coach station, a £5 to £10 taxi ride from any cruise terminal. Journey time 2hrs 15 mins Its possible to travel by train but there's no direct route, you go into central London's Paddington station and cross central London to Waterloo station, or you take. RailAir bus link to either Woking or Reading for a direct train to Southampton central. Expensive and complicated, but frequent and no requirement to pre-book so a good Plan B if your other arrangements fall apart. A pre-booked private transfer e.g. Www.smithsforairports.com or www.westuaycars.com or www.aquacars.co.uk should cost somewhere south of £100. Journey time about 90 mins. Most ships offer coach transfers on sailing day. Anywhere from 60USD to 100USD Similar for travel from London Gatwick airport, but add about 10% to cost and times. From Gatwick there's also a good direct hourly train service. JB
  12. John Bull

    Newbie booked 1st P&O Cruise to the Med

    I don't know Kotor, but the other ports are easy to DIY. Valetta you port right in town. You might want to take a bus or taxi to the old town of Mdina. Beware if you want to take a boat trip to the blue grotto the weather and seas have to be perfect, so I suggest you don't pre-book. Venice. from the cruise berths walk to the "people-mover" which takes you to a piazza. On the other side of the piazza take the vaporetto (water bus) down the Grand Canal to the Rialto Bridge, then walk thro St Marks Square to the insignificant but historic Bridge of Sighs. P and O will probably offer you the option of a boat-shuttle between ship and St Marks Square. This goes down the main shipping channel, not the Grand Canal, and is probably poorer value but is also a pleasant way to travel. If your ship overnites take the opportunity to walk the streets in the evening, after the day-visitors have gone - a totally different atmosphere And don't miss the sailway down the guidecca channel past st Marks Square, one of the best sailaways in the world. Split is very easy to DIY. Ship will be berthed 10 to 20 min waterfront walk from the Diocletian's Palace, the centrepiece of the original small walled city. Bear in mind the currency is the kuna. credit cards widely accepted, euros too in some outlets, but best to have a little local jingle in your pocket. Youve joined your RollCall on cruise Critic, PandO also have their own version. But we Brits aren't into RollCalls like our American cousins, so you might find three response disappointing Oceana is my size of ship, about 2000 pax. And PandO is a good choice for a Brit first-timer. Have a good one JB
  13. John Bull

    castles in europe

    There are castles fairly convenient to almost all ports in the U.K. Plenty of castles in other parts of Europe, but I'm not familiar with too many near seaports. For instance a high proportion of those in Germany are inland or along the Rhine Valley. The Loire Valley has more chateaux than you can shake a stick at, tho they're more stately homes than "castles". But you'll find a few castles on most European itineraries. can I suggest you short-list a few cruises based on other factors, then check out convenient castles - including listing those ports on this thread. JB
  14. John Bull

    Naples- Herculanaem and Amalfi Coast

    Herculaneum is easy by train - the Circumvesuviana line - get off at Ercolano Scavi. But the Amalfi coast is next-to impossible by public transport on a port-of-call day because the hourly bus service from Sorrento is grossly over-subscribed. You my have to stand in line for over an hour - for the bus after the one that fills from the line ahead of you. No fun outbound, but could be disastrous for your return to the ship on time. JB
  15. John Bull

    Best why to get to Monte Carlo

    Train is quick, easy and inexpensive. IIRC service is half-hourly. Although it's more relaxed than evenings, the casino has a dress code in the afternoons. JB