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About nomadguy

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    Arizona Desert
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  1. where did you sail from - Southampton? If so, how was crossing the North sea in late fall?
  2. I sailed on the Diamond Princess in June 2019. (The iris and rhododendron were in bloom.) Our itinerary started and ended at Kobe. Ports included Kobe, Kochi, Matsuyama, Miyazaki, Kagoshima, Pusan (S.Korea), sailing through the Kanmon straits, and back to Kobe. (Full disclosure - This was our second trip to Japan; the first was a land tour with Collette featuring the gardens of Japan so my opinion is biased based on our previous trip.) It gets hot starting in June so ideally I would choose mid-April to May to visit and see the flowers in bloom, too. But typically that's not when the cruise ships sail there. I might also consider October/early November but would need to double check before committing during that time frame. We did have a little bit of motion when sailing through the Kanmon straits (mid-aft Baja deck, cabin 617) and just slight motion one day early in the cruise (don't recall which) but otherwise it was pretty calm. We enjoyed seeing the castles and the temples in Japan and did a ship excursion to a temple and then to the fish market and shopping area in S. Korea (b'c it was easier than trying to get there on our own). In Kagoshima we took the ship's excursion which went on a ferry over to the volcano and then saw a very nice Japanese style garden (but not the same quality as the National Gardens which we saw with Collette). Our guide that day was excellent. We felt the ship excursions were pretty expensive and noted that many had not booked excursions - assuming due to the expense but it could have been because the ship was 50% Japanese so they may have seen these places previously. (The S. Korean excursion was about 1/2 the price of the Japan port excursions by Princess.) One day it poured down rain - perhaps it was Miyazaki. We never left the ship as we didn't have a tour scheduled so we were glad we hadn't committed that day. Our tour in Kochi was cancelled (I suspect not enough English-speaking guests registered for it) so we went to the Manga museum and castle on our own. (I remember carrying an umbrella that day so I assume there was at least a threat of rain.) Almost at every port there were locals sending us off in style - drumming, dancing, etc. Really spectacular that they had such great warm greetings for us. (I think this may have been the first time Princess was in many of these ports but I'm not 100% sure of that fact.) My priorities for Japan would include include Tokyo and Kyoto - neither port stops. Closest port to Tokyo would be Yokohama and closest to Kyoto might be Kobe (but double check). In Tokyo, I would suggest seeing the National Gardens, temples, anime at Akihabara an IT nerd's dream, towers, Tsukiji fish market, castles, Asakusa - old town style as well as eating at a conveyor belt sushi place and looking for Kimonos and Yakatas. (We planned but missed Shibuya - to see that crazy scramble intersection seen in movies and Hachi the Dog - real story with movie starring Richard Gere.) We also took a day trip from Tokyo to Kamakura (see Buddha pix below) which was fascinating! Kyoto is a must see! (Geishas, Bamboo grove, National Gardens, temples, castles, Golden Pavilion. We took the bullet train from Kobe after our cruise ended over to Kyoto where we stayed two nights. (Then we took the bullet train back to Tokyo for two more nights before returning stateside.) I want to return. I loved visiting Japan. I'm sorry I cannot provide more specific information to answer your questions but this may give you a flavor for what we experienced. Feel free to DM me if there's anything else I might share.
  3. I tried to click on the photo and got a Malwarebytes warning that it contained a Trojan and not to proceed. So proceed with caution If opening that photo!
  4. Well, I used a lot of TAs but recently went with a BB TA. Downsides - limited hours of operation can only use Visa (I'm an AMEX loyalist as I receive airline status by charging everything to AMEX... which I'm kicking myself for having booked my next TWO cruises with BB) never get the same agent (or experience as some agents are much more helpful than others) would I do it again? Um, probably not. I'll still use a TA but one that accepts AMEX as well as Visa!
  5. The seas from Seattle that first sail-away day and the last day sailing back to Seattle on a 7-day round trip voyage were a little motion prone both times. Enough so that it gave me a headache (hint - seasickness coming on if I don't lay down). The teen had a headache and wasn't feeling fabulous on the outbound portion either. Not awful but just noticeable enough to warrant treatment. (Didn't notice it when sailing out of Vancouver; we will do that round trip again in summer 2020.)
  6. Aqua also gives you a bottle of champagne at embarkation (If you request it) and bottled water (I'm guessing 2 bottles)! As noted previously - I found these amenities as well for Aqua Class - "priority seating at Blu restaurant, Relaxation Room & access to The Sea thermal suite, personal spa concierge, expanded room service breakfast menu, personal training sessions, wellness consultations, and spa-inspired stateroom touches (Bossini shower panel, aromatherapy diffusers, pillow menus, daily deliveries of flavored tea and fresh fruit, bottle of sparkling wine, welcome bottled water)." I'm anxious to see their "pillow" menu!
  7. From the stuff I have read, there are various categories as mentioned above. Crystal IS NOT Premium - it is luxury which is one step above Premium. Please google the industry's standards for each as the posts above are not correct. I'm not positive about those in the Premium category but I "think" it is - Mass Market RCCL NCL Carnival etc. Premium Celebrity Princess HAL Luxury Azamara Viking etc.
  8. Determine your MUST DO/EXPERIENCE item (eg for us it was being up close to a glacier so we booked the boat to Tracy arm Fjord from the side of the ship). Then we filled in with other experiences - dog sled camp in Skagway and salmon fishing from Ketchikan. Next time our big excursion will be a helicopter to a glacier, then we we will fill in with almost free stuff like walking the towns of Skagway and Ketchikan - red light district, funicular to scenic overview, salmon ladders, that kind of touring.
  9. I agree! Glacier bay is a National park for a reason!!
  10. I can imagine a 5 year old would love the dog sledding and mushers camp experience. This kid was 15 and in heaven! The dry sled reminded me of Fred Flintstone car!
  11. I did Tracy arm Fjord from my Celebrity ship a few years ago. It was smooth sailing from there to Juneau. All protected waters. I was worried sick bc I am prone to chumming! 😖. I take all precautions with me. Have found Motion Eaze oil to be remarkable- and I've tried them all - OTC, Rx, cookies, pretzels, ginger, bands, you name it! My winning combo - Motion Eaze behind ears, Rx Relief Band watch (now on Amazon), Rx meclizine, and taking a nap if a headache starts as that's my first sign! Me at Tracy Arm 2017.
  12. IMO, Nikon makes the best glass for imperfect eyes! In the midrange price category. Leica, Swavorski for luxury. Understand sizes. 8x means the view will be 8x closer than the naked eye. 7x probably not strong enough for large expanses like Denali. 10x means you need to have steady hands or you will see the shaking movement through the glass. So you need to consider field of view, too. The wider the better in large areas - so you're not looking FOREVER trying to locate that elusive bear, etc. However, you compromise lightweight and bulk for a larger field of view. Anything is better than nothing, whether pocket binos like 8x21 or a pair of big 10x50. For a first pair, I recommend 8x 42 if you don't think they're too big. At 1.3#, the Monarch5 is easy to handle and Nikon's premium ED (Extra Low Dispersion) Glass provides a sharper, clearer and more brilliant field of view! This is important for those low light conditions - when animals are most active! I have had Bushnell, Tasco, Pentax, & off brands but by far the best are my Nikons. I own two pair of Nikons - 8x and 10x. In a moving school bus the 10x are difficult to keep steady but whenever strangers borrow my Nikon binos they are AMAZED at just how good and crisp and clear they are! Every time I get compliments on them! Nikon makes glass for cameras so I suspect that is why their glass is so good! (My glove box always has a pair of binos 8x21 - better than nothing and cheap!) Go to a store like Cabelas or sporting goods. Try a few pair for feel and weight. Ask to walk to door with them and focus on something across the parking lot. Itll give you a sense of what feels right for you to handle. Consider a hands free strap so they're easy to grab while hiking and don't bounce on your chest. Waterproof is a plus, especially if outdoors in a rain forest like SE Alaska. If budget allows, and pocket size isn't required, give the Nikon Monarch5 a good look and compare them to other midrange brands. Their glass is superior IMO. I never regret the investment I made in my Nikons for a snowmobile trip to Yellowstone. I use these binos often bc they're so easy. As I age, it's more difficult to see and these binos MAKE A DIFFERENCE for my aging eyes. The better the binos the more you will want to grab them! Low light conditions need good light grabbing binos with multi coated glass. For pockets, look for 8x and greater than 25s if possible. Good luck.
  13. from the scuttlebutt overheard on our minivan, that was the planned route for the others as well. Perhaps nobody had an early flight out but they did drop us off in Rome first! I'd recommend you get it in writing and take it with you so there is not a change of plans!
  14. I'm spending a couple of nights in Rome then coming to the port prior to our ship's sailing. We think we will stay at La Casa Sur B&B. We've been to Rome just last year and were charmed by what we saw going in/out of the port city of Civitavecchia so we want to feel like a local and spend our last night in Italy there this coming May 2020! Thanks for the links. These are the sites I have on my possible list in C town: 2nd century roman warehouses the Bramante Fortress the Walls by Pope Urban VIII the Lazzaretto Tower, the medieval Stronghold Papal Coats of Arms Vanvitelli Fountain The Church of the Star The Church of Saint Mary of the Prayer and Death (Rafael frescoes of the Vatican Private Rooms commissioned by Pope Julius II were discovered here) and the private apartment with fresco paintings by Raphael are kept here. (if we get lucky we could see them)
  15. I used Civitavecchia Shuttle Service from the ship to my hotel in Rome (Hotel Condotti); HOWEVER, I was surprised to learn that the shuttle was shared with pax going to FCO airport! Those poor folks had to ride along while the driver took me to downtown Rome and then make their way to the airport. I would not have been a happy camper if I was an airport pax on that shuttle taking the long route to the airport so you might want to ask if you'll be sharing with other destinations. I also used them from the airport to the port. I arranged with one other CC member so there were 2 pick up points and just the 3 of us on the way to the ship which was terrific. I had no complaints about the shared service other than surprised to see others in the mini van not going into Rome proper.
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