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About NorthernLite

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
  • Interests
    Traveling, history and disabled rights
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Azamara, Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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372 profile views
  1. Thanks for the explanation uktog and Riocca. I did know about the Global Refund and lines should include that during the noon Captain's message instead of letting the CD hog the mic. 😉
  2. When we first started cruising within and to Europe the VAT only was applied by Barcelona. Once a ship left their waters no one else added VAT. Maybe the change hit a few years later when the cruise companies would try to arrange a break from the EU by stopping in Israel, Turkey or even Tunisia and then reentering the EU? I readily admit I am totally at a loss with Euros but had no problems living in southern Germany and later Rome calculating about 6 different currencies and juggling borders at 2am on trains. Do any other EU departure ports now impose a VAT other than Spain? I know about 10 years back we did a transatlantic from the US to Harwich that stopped in 2 northern Spanish towns and no VAT was added onboard for drinks or specialty restaurants while in those ports. Just curious about how the other EU ports now handle this.
  3. Having had to ship our last dog, an 18 month old golden retriever, from Berlin to Baltimore-Washington by way of Atlanta I know there is a pressurized and temperature controlled area in passenger jets. The problem for pets is the heat or a/c only gets turned on when the plane takes off and overheating deaths were the cause of why most airlines now restrict pets to under the seat or service dogs. And now, the reason for shipping her, scares the beegesus out of me for any dog in that hold. My wheelchair, stripped of arm rests, foot rests and gel cushion, has been mangled by other gate checked luggage on a regular basis by American based carriers. It appears other countries' airlines know how much some of them cost both to fix and to be left "legless" as Senator Duckworth put it after her powerchair was pretty much destroyed recently. As far as make up exploding in the regular hold that must be a rare occurance as the military ships 500 pounds of cargo by plane for military families to survive on until their remaining belongings arrive by ship and train. I have never heard of anything exploding although it is possible I guess for something in the main hold to freeze and break. I just keep everything but my brushes and travel make up mirror in my wheelchair back pack or my small personal item with my medications and eReader. BTW, the TSA has now added tablets to iPad and laptops that need to be removed for scanning.
  4. Nordski, I agree with you that this cruise with the original itinerary would make a wonderful annual repositioning cruise with one exception. We knew that we would be hit by the VAT tax while in Spanish waters but one, how did Spain stretch that all the way to Greenwich; and two, would a stop in The Channel Islands cut that off since I believe those are a tax haven outside even London's reach. Does anyone know?
  5. SKP, I guess that is about as accessible as any small ship can get! I'm not sure I would try the zodiacs unless they were the RIB versions but this is very reassuring for when we talk to SB and start booking flights. Silver, thank you for finding the small print. We are just home from an Azamara cruise that went from Barcelona to Greenwich with the highlight being at the D-Day beaches during the 75th anniversary. The downside to debarking in Greenwich was that ship's many tiny steps gangway combined with rain and low tide to the local tendering platform. That descent was way too steep for me to want to repeat it whether a Captain OK'd it or not. But with an itinerary that includes 3 of our big bucket list items on it I just want to know what is truly reasonably doable if weather, tides and the land side are agreeable. Thank you both!
  6. We have been on Crystal Serenity and the tendering area is not accessible by wheelchair. The path to the tenders is an inner walkway that is both narrow and once to the tenders they are the pod type meant to be self righting after immersion. I had no problems with Holland America on the Amsterdam and except for a monsoon in Kotor would have been fine on the Rotterdam as both ships bring the tenders up to the davits on deck five and open the railing for those who must stay in their chair to get around. Then they lower the tender to deck 2 to collect any other passengers ready then. On the return we reversed the process. The doorway into the tenders is just one step down and level enough to easily hold manual wheelchairs. I am not exactly planning on heading out in the Horn area but am planning on seeing anything and everything possible going north and into the Amazon. Thought I would ask here before talking to SB about this. We are booked but let's just say that after Crystal and the 2016 Northwest Passage I am leery of being told what I want to hear by the excursions department. I should have known when they said Nome, Bar Harbor and Newport were tenders and that they would not be a problem for a non-walking, non-standing person. There were several "are you sure" as I have seen Bar Harbor and Newport many times from a cruise ship and they are not accessible due to tides or port side issues. How a company that only had 2 ships could get something so wrong is beyond me. So now I want things like pictures, names of excursion staff, etc before final payment for any trip that even vaguely might have problems within the company's ability to control like knowing if tenders are accessible.
  7. Is the tender area accessible to a fulltime wheelchair user? And on Qwest are the tenders accessible? I realize the port side area may not be accessible and, of course, weather can cause problems. We are booked on 57 days starting late in February from San Antonio, Chile and ending in Miami. No, I have absolutely no plans to get on any zodiac. Thanks
  8. The Azamara Journey was also there for the 75th. They actually started off having shore excursions for the 6th before I am sure the French, Americans and Brits organizing the ceremonies introduced them to the facts of life and the stickers for each zone the coaches would need. We had found an accessible small van with a French driver and an Ex-Pat Brit available for the 5th well before the rest of my fellow passengers were aware of the security on the 6th. We had always wanted to go as my husband's Father was there on Day 2 arranging Mulberry boats and was the expert on the ground to keep the supplies moving. So he and his brother were both hyped for our tour of Omaha, a slightly off road and wet field trail up to the tops of the Utah cliffs where we had a decent but damp view of the entire landings area, a stop in Saint Marie sur Eglise and after lunch the very somber walk/roll at our pace through the American Cemetery. Our guide did point out where Teddy Roosevelt's son was buried and spoke about the 4 women also buried there. We had heard rumors of a funeral that day of old remains found that were to be interned also. When all of us who had ever served went to attention as the first notes of Taps played I realized that this was probably true. Even the workers placing flags stopped and stood for the duration. This was to be the last planned large anniversary celebration. The military members from many countries and wearing everything from their current fatigues to WW2 dress greens wondered around all the places in the area that had a place in freeing Europe from the Fascists. Even the nurses in dress greens from that era had their hair and make up done in 1944 fashion, my Mother in Law served in the India-Burma area and looked just like so many did on the 5th. The smaller roads were filled with restored Willie's jeeps to duce and a halves plus the weapons of the era were all over. It was an amazing day for the 4 of us and yes, kleenex were a necessity.
  9. We were on the Journey during its first year with Azamara. There was a small ramp on the port (smoking) side down to the dance floor and a single lit step on the starboard side. The Quest in 2016 had the reverse set up. The problem with having both sides ramped were/was the difference of less than 2" on the placement of wooden columns you would have to get through to reach the ramp on the opposite side of the ships if they were installed. I was not too thrilled to be back in the balcony stateroom we had back in the early fall of 2007 (?) but now called a suite with an appropriate rise in price. We had loved that repositioning cruise and afterwards my review took an hour to type up. They had gotten everything about that cabin right for any fulltime wheelchair user. It was well put together and beautifully decorated to boot. Who decided to remove the ability to turn all the cabin lights on from the center area of the headboard should be taken out and shot. I use a manual wheelchair when traveling that has a rigid but normal size frame and on this past cruise I rudely found out on day 1 that the faucet over the vanity is both too high and tilted, the faucet, to send water right down any long sleeved top when washing my hands. We were in 6057 and the shower needs all the grab bars replaced. They have been broken and glued back together. The staff remains great but I do miss the full wheel of Parmaggano and leg of prosciutto that was actually used at the back area of the buffet area and the huge trays of lobsters and filets we had up in what is now part of The Patio area. I agree that the original itinerary would make an excellent repositioning cruise on a recurring basis. I am speaking of the original schedule. But getting off that ship at that angle in Greenwich in the rain was scary as hell! I trust the housekeeping staff and pool butlers who get the job and we tip them every time their help is needed. But the angle we went down in the rain was well above their job description that day. The Journey, unlike The Quest has exits and entrances on the 4th and 5th decks plus tendering from deck 3. The authority for the Greenwich tendering facility will get a suggestion from us about limiting the angle of descent that passengers leaving any ship, especially those with mobility problems, can be subjected too. The 3 who helped me were great and made sure they had their footing before moving me down another step. But even then their eyes and mine were wide and looking for a brake or something because twice we almost flipped. We are glad we booked an expert guide and driver for the 5th well before shore excursions came out. I understand several people booked a ship's tour on the 6th. Seeing all the different coaches out on the 5th along the beaches and the Cemetery also put closed to the idea that cruise ships cannot find lift equipped coaches. Does no one at RCCL know that the EU has equality for the disabled in their Constitution!? And Debbie like you we both, especially me, wanted to see the Tall Ships up close. About all we got in that steady rain was the security staff both on land and sea do their thing from our nice dry cabin. We did get to see some of the Seine on leaving. The Journey was apparently a huge draw to waving pensioners and many kids along with several dogs whose primary job is to bark at passing boats and ships. I so wished they had kept that a daytime passage.
  10. We just returned from a Barcelona to Greenwich cruise followed by a week in London. We had an overnight in Lisbon again and we managed to get the same private guide as before. The weather was much better and we headed out to Sintra and soon had to discuss options because the palace was closed for a state occasion. Our guide spooked at his phone a bit and we were off again. We visited the furthest west point in Continental Europe and went through a forested area recovering from a drought fire several years before. Our guide was a volunteer fire spotter in the area as a teen. Then off to a long lunch out in a small beach side town that was delicious! Fresh grilled sardines, grilled octopus and garlicky little clams and huge salads washed down with vino verde. This was more driving then our previous tour due to anot approaching holiday. From how crowded the beaches were mile after mile it appeared the holiday had started. And Lisbon and the beaches north of it have wheelchair accessible to both sand and, when reserved, beach chairs that go into the water. There are mats that get you down to the sand area. I learned about MyWay 2 days before we left Lisbon the last time. I told our guide we had booked to take us to the airport too and he said no problem. He helped load up a trolley with our luggage and got us to the phone. He did not abandon us until he saw the MyWay staff member head our way. They have a lot of accessible and new vans to help get those who are flying from a gate without a jet way get to the elevating lifts and Yes! people actually trained to lift and understand balance issues and they also drive the lift trucks. I have yet to meet one person truly trained to do a 2 person lift of a passenger who cannot walk at all in any American airport. Maybe ask your hotel Concierge for help on any future trips with booking this terrific service.
  11. Now you tell me? 🙂 Ulta also now carries most Clinique and MAC products.
  12. Same here with much of Clinique. I use their foundation and the Drastically Different Moisturizer and when not sunny out just dark spot corrector. For flying a drop of BIY added to the moisturizer is fine for me. I found Lancome and Stila's tinted moisturizers to not be moist enough. That and Neutrogena lip gloss because planes are so drying.
  13. I normally stay away from shimmery near my eyes but the neutral is Naked Lunch Frost and actually does brighten instead of highlighting any tiny wrinkles. The peachy look is Fashion's Field Day Frost. This one can double as a light blush. I still use Moon's Reflection in the veuve pearl fashion lightly on the outer eye or as a light liner but the Naked Lunch is great for the inner eye area. I am just hoping for warm and dry! Wisconsin has been just chilly and sodden this spring.
  14. I try to stay minimalist on trips and so my make up and medicine and Nook go in my small item Vera Bradley bag. My brush set I toss into a checked bag last thing along with my make up mirror (wheelchair user and theirsee are never where I can use it). Flights to and from I have discovered Magic! Clinique now sells actual tint in a BIY (Blend It Yourself) very tiny plastic squeeze bottle. You find your tint then a few drops can be added to moisturizer or color corrector and mixed on the back of your hand then just apply liberally. I have tried many tinted moisturizers and none seem moist enough so this is perfect for me. You can also add it to sunscreen. I save foundation for evenings and I get compliments about being younger than I am. I also just found 2 new MAC eye shadows for summer and one easily doubles as a tiny bit of blush which I normally do not wear. What I pack going in checked baggage are make off remover towelettes and just leave any I do not use onboard. As long as you close the pouch anD then turn it over so weight keeps it sealed a 24 pack stays damp for a full 24 day B2B like we do most Januarys. This next trip starts in Barcelona and end a week after we hit Greenwich 14 days later so I will bring a long a few single samplers for those last few nights. I need to get in my beauty sleep as we head to Chicago tomorrow for a relaxed night before a late flight to Spain on Friday and we board the Journey on Tuesday.
  15. The tags arrived today and we drive to Chicago tomorrow for Friday's flight to Barcelona. We have ID on and in every bag we take but have had those printable tags ripped off toof often to print any more. This is vacation and chasing luggage is not part of it. We have also run across one cruise where the hotel we were staying at could not print the tags at all. This is one of the few areas where I prefer wasting their heavier and self-adhesive paper than our basic printer grade sheets. Last night with the pup for awhile but countdown to vacation has begun!
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