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dreamercruise

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    Princess

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  1. In terms of handling high altitude problem, many of people in my travel group brought prescription medication. Some people suffered side effects of the prescription meds. My husband and I brought over-the-counter ibuprofen (200mg per tablet) instead, and had no problems whatsoever. We took 2 tablets each time during meal times (B, L, D) and before bedtime. We started the meds the night before flying to Cusco from Lima, and continued with decreased dosage until we flew back to Lima from Titicaca. Note that Titicaca is at a higher altitude than Cusco, and that Machu Picchu is similar to Lima at a comfortable, normal level. You (and your doctor) need to decide for yourself what is appropriate for you. Definitely, do not go without any medication.
  2. I went to both by land tours at separate times this year. Had a fantastic time in both places. I did consider combining these land tours with cruises. From my research and experience, however, cruises and land tours do not mix weather-wise. (Examples are Africa Safari with South Africa cruise, Iguazu Falls with Antarctica cruise, and etc.). Hence, I decided to enjoy these areas in great weather by land only. There is no wrong time in the year for Galapagos, because you see various wildlife at different life stages throughout the year. Best is to go in the months: May, June, October, November, and December, to have least chance of rain. Just because you get wet anyway is no reason for an outing in the rain (can be dangerously in fact). I went in late May, and the weather was perfect and sea was calm. As for Machu Picchu, best time weather-wise is July and August. I went in early to mid July. Again, weather was near perfect. One small hiccup was a shower early in the morning before I hiked up Huayna Picchu. In spite of the early rainfall, I had no trouble doing this challenging hike. The ground was not slippery. Only con is the cloudy sky at the peak. I heard that a clear sky is a hit or miss anyway. One consolation is the perfect weather with clear blue sky and comfortable breeze on the previous day when we toured Machu Picchu. if you want to combine both places in one trip, I suggest to visit La Galapagos in mid June, followed by Machu Picchu in early July (assuming that you allow a few days for your body to get used to the high altitude when you first land in Cusco and then move on to Sacred Valley). lawgirl, we saw plenty of sea lions in ocean (while snorkeling and kayaking), at the beach, and at the docks. One unexpected highlight of the Galapagos cruise was seeing hundreds of hungry sharks feeding next to our yacht just before dinner when we docked in the ocean near Floreana Island at the end of the cruise. Best to be prepared with a video camera or iPhone to capture the thrilling action. Hard to imagine that these “little” guys (bigger than I of course) appeared so calm and mild swimming next to us when we were on the dinghy boat, kayak, and glass bottom boat in previous days. i can go on and on talking about my wonderful, luxurious Peru trip, but do not want to go off topic.
  3. Thanks for the info (letter) and advice, scubacruiserx2.
  4. Just to confirm - Does Concierge level suite indeed get air deviation fee waived?
  5. I read a review on this cruise by someone who took it in 2016, and want to take a similar cruise (preferably under 20 days). Do not find such a cruise on Silverseas website. Am I missing something? If not available, is a similar cruise offered by another cruiseline comparable to Silverseas?
  6. Wonder if there is age restriction for Princess’ Alaska cruisetour and tour activities? I would like to bring our grandson who will be 7 in 2020. i checked with Alaskantour.com (land tour only). The minimum age is 12 (a few months shy of 12 may be acceptable).
  7. Having a good pair of binoculars is important for wildlife viewing trips, so spending +/- $100 is OK with me. As a person who had never used binoculars, I did not need something fancy or professional. I was shopping for something mid price ($200-$400), and I ended up with Nikon Monach 5, 8x42. Why I chose it? Decent field of view (361’ vs the winner Athlon Midas’s awesome 426’), reasonable mid-range price (comparable retail price to Athlon Midas), light weight (1.3 lb vs Athlon Mida’s 1.56 lb), relatively small size with easy handling dimensions (5.7”x5.1”x2.2”), decent eye relief (especially for glasses wearers), bright field, rugged construction, and waterproof/fog proof body (important for Galapagos and Antarctica cruises). Found it at llbean.com with a US lifetime warranty. Got it for a great price from llbean with some promotion coupons (credit card application etc). Used it in my Galapagos cruise in May for viewing birds soaring overhead and from afar. It was an amazing feeling being able to see the details of the bird’s wings, claws, body and head constantly changing while in flight. I was able to spot flamingos feeding at a distance from hilltop. Looking forward to using my binoculars again in Manchu Picchu. Although I would like Athlon Midas for its great Field of View, I am happy with my Nikon Monach 5, especially for the discounted price. I chose 8x42 over 10x42, because I am a novice who does not have steady hands. Although my Nikon Monach 5 is relatively light (only 1.3 lb), anything would feel heavy after a long hike. To give my neck a break, I got myself Votex Optics Binocular Harness strap (from Amazon) to shift the weight from my neck to the larger area of my back. I did not feel the weight much, and my neck was very thankful.
  8. What activities did you do in those two visits? Please comment on how you like each? I shall have a day in Buenos Aires before cruise. Wonder what I can do that day and later when I revisit the place in future.
  9. Like you, we have been nervous and concerned about the possibility of our December cruise being cancelled. The fact that Scenic reimburses 100% cruise, hotel, and air (per our TA) helps minimize our anxiety. We do have a backup plan in case the launch is delayed till 2020: a winter land tour as replacement and rebooking the same scenic cruise in 2020-2021. Instead of booking hotel/air ourselves, we have Scenic arrange for us, because we do not want to pay non refundable penalty if Scenic cancels cruise. We just ticketed/paid for the air through Scenic. I think by asking us to buy air tickets 8 months in advance, Scenic must be confident about launching on time.
  10. Thanks a million for sharing experience. Per your information, I ordered Nikon Monach 5, 8x42 from Llbean as well. Since I have never used binoculars before, I think 8x42 is easier to handle for me. I have tried looking through Monach 7 8x42 for a few minutes, so I know what to expect from Monach 5. Of course, I shall need to spend time practicing with mine before my first trip. It is comforting to know that I shall be getting the real deal, with lifetime warranty, from Llbean. Besides, return (in case of problems) is easy, as the nearest Llbean is only half hour away. Although there is no discount promotion available now, I went ahead ordering a pair, as I have three trips coming up this year: La Galapagos cruise, Macau Picchu, Antarctica (plus South Georgia and Falklands). When browsing Llbean website, I found many items suitable for our three trips: merino wool midweight base layers (for Antarctica), light waterproof sandals (with closed toes and hiking traction sole) and long sleeve, linen shirts (for La Galapagos), leather/canvas crossbody bag and more long sleeve, cotton shirts/pants (for Manchu Picchu). Due to multiple item purchase, I applied for the LLbean MC to get a one-time, 15% discount for all items (except the sandals). The MC gives 4% bean dollars, which i shall make good use for many more future purchases. In summary, thanks to you, I got the right binoculars for myself and I found a good source for getting my travel needs.
  11. There are many online sellers including Amazon who sell Nikon binoculars with 1-year warranty (and at a lower price). I understand that Nikon sells products in US (US specification and quality) with a lifetime warranty. These products are in factory sealed, unopened box. Nikon also sells products outside of US, some with only 1-year warranty. Most online sellers sell these “grey market” products, and most often in opened box (can be returns). I would rather pay more to get the “real” thing (meaning best quality) and worry-free lifetime warranty. Question for you is if your pair of binoculars from LL Bean came in factory-sealed box with a lifetime, US warranty? if so, I would order from LL Bean. It’s online store seems to carry a lot of things I need.
  12. Thank you for your inputs. I also concluded to buy Nikon Monarch 5 from my online research. I am debating between 8x42 and 10x42, and am leaning towards 8x42 for larger FOV (Field of View) and less jitter at the expense of magnification strength. The fact that you got the 12x42 makes me wonder if I should get 10x42 instead. I shall definitely use the binoculars for bird watching in addition to viewing other relatively slower moving wildlife. i shall take your suggestion about visiting a sporting goods store. Unfortunately, the nearest authorized Nikon dealer shop is quite far from my home. My local Best Buy store does not have any stock for me to try out and compare in real life. I have to place an order to have the binoculars shipped to the store.
  13. Funny you mentioned checking off bucket list while still being agile. Same situation here. I am rushing to complete mine as well. La Galapagos (early summer), Machu Picchu (mid summer), Antarctica (Plus South Georgia and Falkland) planned this year. Hopefully, Hokkaido (UNESCO, in winter), and Arctic (plus Greenland, and ending in Reykjavik in July) next year. After that, we can take it easy with non-expedition cruising. One warning about the Angkor Wat temples - the itinerary was jam packed. On one day, we visited two temples (one in morning, and one in afternoon) and then went to an outdoor gala show in the evening. There was a lot to see, so was the walking and climbing. Normally, the exercise was no big deal to me. Yet, it was the hot and humid weather plus very bright sun (yes, even in early January) that took the toll for me. Adding to the long day was the extended night gala. It was a very, very long day. Early next morning, we got up in wee hours and went back to the temple to catch the sunrise. It was well worth it though.
  14. Nothing stands out in particular. They are all good., because We get to appreciate the nature, culture, customs, and lifestyle in Cambodia and Vietnam. We went with Scenic, which is all inclusive. We have daily excursions plus one free choice in some days. We visited fish farms, bird watching on a 2-person boat, monasteries for women and training monks, floating market, and fish/fruits/vegetable markets (to learn about the large varieties). Sometimes, We had performers on board for special shows in the evening. I normally do not care about shows (except Russian ballet or musical orchestra), but I would say these cultural shows were good. To me, the highlight of the trip was the land portion in Cambodia. Angkor Wat and various temple tours including sunrise tour were very worthwhile. We had eight or less people in our group in each excursion. As for food, I did not find meals in local restaurants much exciting. The one local restaurant we visited in Cambodia on our own pre-cruise via a Tuk-tuk ride had interesting local food. Both my husband and I enjoyed their special fish and squid dish very much. The food onboard Scenic Spirit, however, was excellent. We had our meals cooked to order. Everyday, the chef introduced different food (different themes and countries). In one of the late afternoon food (fruits) show, the chef showed us many different kinds of local Cambodia fruits. After we tasted a little of each kind, we were full. We did not do any land portion in Vietnam, because we visited Vietnam several times in previous ocean cruises. Thus, I cannot comment on Vietnam tours. However, from my previous experience, Hanoi and Halong Bay are a must-visit. I recommend taking a 3-day, 2-night cruise on Halong Bay.
  15. No need for specialty TA. Do your research from TripAdvisor. Book with a TA who gives you discounts or credit cashback. The amount of discounts or cashback depends on the cruiseline. I have not yet taken this cruise, so I do not know for sure that I can get cashback. However, I do get cashback from my TA for Viking, Silverseas, and scenic cruises. Mary Ann is a small yacht which accommodates 16 guests. Don’t know if the small group size is the reason for your interest.in Mary Ann. Not sure if price is also on your shopping list. Before I decided on booking directly with Metropolitan Touring (7-day/6-not on 48-passenger La Pinter), I explored Silverseas and Celebrity. If you add up all the extras such as flights between Baltra and Quito, Park entrance fee, Control card, 1-night hotel in Quito before next morning flight to Baltra, all airport transfers, and guided day tour of Quito, the price , after early bird promotions, is comparable among these operators (including Mary Ann). For stress-free travel, it is better to go with a one-stop service. If the Mary Ann Cruise starts and ends in Baltra Island, you need to arrange for air transportation to/from Quito or Quayaquil. In addition, you may need a one night hotel stay in Quito or Quayaquil. Sometimes, the cruise operator may offer a discount package that includes the extras. i know for sure that the island wild life guides for Silverseas and Metropoltan La Pinta are above grade (if not top notch). My experience has been that Luxury lines usually get more knowledgeable/experienced guides. This aspect is also important to me when choosing a tour/cruise.
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