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david,Mississauga

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About david,Mississauga

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Mississauga, Canada
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Transatlantic

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  1. The voyage starting 8 Sept. is still showing on the on-line Alaska 2020 brochure. It is the end of the planned Alaska season and is intended to depart Vancouver on the 8th arriving in Tokyo 28 nights later (voyage Q027A). It is no surprise that with the Alaska season cancelled, no such voyage is available for booking. I wonder where the QE will actually be on the 8th.
  2. This palaver about refunds makes me wonder why we tolerate paying long in advance for travel services. Yes, I know, that’s just the way it is and we really have no choice, but it was not always thus. Thinking back to my early days of travelling in the 1970s it was not customary to make full payment so long in advance. For my first Cunard booking we paid a small $50 pp deposit and the balance was due 60 days before the crossing. Airline bookings were made without deposit. I can’t recall when payment was made, but I do recall changes and cancellations were usually available at no charge up to a point. Until about 10 years ago, in Canada train reservations – even for expensive compartments on cross-country trips – were made without deposit and an “option date” was given when payment was to be made. Now, it is like booking a flight with full payment due immediately. (In fairness, VIA Rail cancellation penalties are very small compared to airlines.) Fortunately there are still some aspects of travel - other than very high full air fares - that do not require advance payment. With the rarest exception, I have not paid in advance for a hotel stay any more than I would pay for a chesterfield until it was delivered. When I am next able to travel on one of our favourite ships we may book close to the sailing date. I’m well aware of the benefits of booking early and we usually do so eight months to year or more in advance.
  3. If I could I would book a crossing or a cruise for next year. Because the Canadian government has two travel advisories with no expiry date, it would invalidate our annual travel insurance plan to even make a booking, let alone take a trip. There is also the concerns about safety and about coverage for issues dealing with the COVID-19. Our insurance company has made it clear that (unspecified) changes are coming on renewal in September. So I won't be booking anything for quite a while. We have not done a round trip crossing in the month of June but have taken two eastbound crossings: one in early June and one in late June. Although it was never hot (I prefer cool weather to heat) the weather was fine with very little rain. On one crossing we sat on our balcony in short-sleeved shirts some days. As you know the weather is unpredictable, but I don't worry about it. Since I posted this I have seen the comments by Photo Andy about spending. I agree entirely.
  4. That must have been the legendary Dennis Dawson. No-one who had the pleasure of being served by him would forget him. I last saw him on a QE2 crossing in 1988. We spent far more time in our reserved deck chairs than we normally would just to enjoy talking to him. According to a discussion site, Dennis passed away two years ago.
  5. Indeed, this was certainly not a day of Queen's weather. Although there were no large (official) firework displays this Victoria Day, countless dozens of unofficial firework displays have been set off. The mayor of Toronto requested that people not have firework displays because it might attract a crowd. Whether crowds formed or not I do not know as I have been watching some of the fireworks from my balcony. Given the cold, the wind and drizzle I doubt there are enough people out to constitute a crowd. God Save the Queen - Vive la Reine!
  6. As the mythical barrister Rumpole (of the Bailey) said: "There's no pleasure on earth that's worth sacrificing for the sake of an extra five years in the geriatric ward of the Sunset Old People's Home, Weston-Super-Mare."
  7. Indeed, as a Canadian I am concerned about future fares. Fortunately, in recent years Cunard has set fares in Canadian $ and they have usually been at an advantageous rate for us. For many years Cunard established the Canadian fares at 20% above the US fares which was a bargain. It is not easy for me to make an exact comparison between the US and Canadian fares, but when I get a brochure in the post with fares in US $ I can go on-line and get the Canadian equivalent. The last time I was able to make the comparison the difference was an average of 25% which is still a reasonably good deal. On some voyages the Canadian fares were only 10% more but on one voyage it was over 50%. Liner voyages have always been our favourite as opposed to cruises. Despite the bad publicity that cruise ships have had regarding the COVID-19, I think there may be an increased demand for crossings. I am more suspicious of flying than travelling by ship. Most ships – not just the Cunard vessels – have had no problem with the virus. Of course social distancing is impossible at all times on a ship, but it is impossible on a plane. I am not impressed by the promise that middle seats (or adjacent seats as Air Canada calls them on wide-body jets) will not be sold. With the “pitch” in economy having been reduced to an appalling 29 to 32 inches there will still be someone behind you at less than half the recommended distance. Sleeper seats or pods in the front cabin will be much safer, but the cost of these is usually beyond my budget. (Thank goodness for airline points!)
  8. It certainly is a profit centre. In the late 1980s our son was treated on Cunard's QE2. The bill for the doctor's visit and medication was US$10. Using the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator the current equivalent would be about $21. On a P&O ship in the early 1990s the bill for similar treatment was in £, but the equivalent of Can.$10. This would be $16.60 today. The last I heard was the current charge for a doctor's visit on Carnival-owned ships is US$90 plus medication, tests, etc. Perhaps it is just as well that modern ships don't have an operating theatre.
  9. Sorry, I should have elaborated more. Although coverage for pre-existing condions is common, not all insurance companies will accept everyone who applies. The more popular and reasonably-priced ones can be choosy. Depending on answers to the questionnaire, the applicant may be rejected. A friend who is in fairly good health found many insurers would not accept him because for a few years he took furosemide. Others will reject an applicant who takes six or more (and sometimes fewer) medications. It is common that people under 50 and sometimes 55 do not need to answer a questionnaire. We are fortunate to have an annual policy - medical, cancellation and trip interruption, lost luggage - with a guaranteed renewal without a questionnaire. The definition of stable can be tricky, but our policy is fairly straight-forward. As long as the pre-existing condition has not had new symptoms or a change in medication it is covered. There are a few other conditions, such as awaiting the outcome of a test. The cost of our policy almost doubled when we turned 70, but it is still reasonable.
  10. I don't know what travel insurance exclusions there are in other countries, but every policy I have puchased or looked at in Canada will cover pre-existing conditions with one qualification: stability. It varies by policy, but the period when the insured must be stable is 90 days at best and 180 days at worst. Of course, it is the insurer's definition of stable that counts, not one's doctor. Almost everyone I know who is over 65 has some health issue (high blood pressure being the most common) but most conditions are not too serious and are sufficiently stable for a holiday.
  11. In 1977 there was a burial of a passenger on board the RMS Windsor Castle of the Union-Castle Line between Cape Town and Southampton. The gentleman's wife had indicated to some passengers (not me) that he loved the sea and always wanted to be buried at sea. According to what we call "usually reliable sources" the private ceremony was held at dawn on a low deck at the stern. I suspected by 1977 burials at sea were rare. There were witnesses that the unfortunate gent collapsed and died on deck. What if there was suspicion of the cause of death - murder, poisoning - one must wonder? The deceased was English and the ship was registered in England.
  12. Departures were more civilised as well. Many of us will remember how quick and simple it was to board a ship - no security, no credit card to produce - just a quick passport check and the ticket was lifted and up the gangway we went. P&O usually had a brass band to play on shore during departure. On our early Cunard crossings there wasn't a brass band but traditional music was played on the tannoy. These days I wouldn't go near a "sailaway" with the rarest of exceptions. I enjoyed seeing another Royal Mail Ship in the photo: the RMS St. Helena.
  13. The early season Alaska cruises are back on the booking site - even for the month of June. This is absurd. Cunard knows full well that Canadian ports are closed to cruise ships until the 1st of July - and that is subject to extension. Is this another glitch, one might ask.
  14. Indeed, HAL has the nerve to say: "Holland America Line has made the difficult decision to delay the start of the Alaska, Europe, and Canada & New England cruise seasons through June 30, 2020." It was not a difficult decision. The decision was made for them a month ago. The date of the Canadian government's closure of cruise ports until the 1st of July is subject to review and I have read that the port of Seattle is closed until further notice. HAL has had the cheek to post Alaska and Canada/New England cruises for May and June on their booking site. They are still there this morning.
  15. We have done a B2B only once: a QM2 Québec-New York-Southampton voyage in 2017. We booked the segments separately because we needed two segments to reach Diamond status in the World Club. We chose two types of staterooms. We had read many comments that it would not be necessary to pack clothing that is on hangars. Our steward advised that the rules had changed and we would have to pack everything. He even asked his supervisor who confirmed that. It wasn’t a big problem and we didn’t have to put our cases out the night before arrival in N.Y. He told us to just leave them in the room when we got off the ship and they would be moved for us. Our flowers were also moved for us. The biggest nuisance was having to get off the ship, go through border control, through security and wait until the US officials gave us permission to re-board. The in-transit passengers who were not actually going anywhere were allowed to re-board ahead of the embarking passengers, which was appreciated. As has been said earlier, the new cards are issued in advance so we did not have to check-in for the second segment. We could have kept the same restaurant table but we asked to change. The other six at our table were all disembarking at New York and we moved to a table in another section of the restaurant which was presided over by our favourite assistant maitre d’.
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