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aheape1979

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About aheape1979

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    South Carolina, USA
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Princess, Disney

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  1. Everyone hold tight.... I will be posting information about which businesses/tours have been amazing to work with...and some that haven't. No need for those of you planning a future trip to risk getting stuck with poor customer service too!
  2. After much deliberation, we have decided to cancel our June 9 sailing. Our pre-cruise hotel has closed through June 14, and I just don't see things calming down enough for international travel by then. We have a backup date for July 27, but I have begun to seriously doubt that any cruises will be sailing by then either. Oh well, we just have to trust that everything happens for a reason, and if need be, we will wait and cruise in 2021!
  3. “Hope is the thing with feathersThat perches in the soulAnd sings the tune without the wordsAnd never stops at all.”― Emily Dickinson Finding Positivity in the Unknown There is so much unknown right now with the Corona virus, including whether ships will even be sailing in June. I haven't cancelled tours, hotel reservations, dining plans, or air yet. There will be time for that later. I probably won't begin that process until we are about 30 days out. I hope all of you following this thread are staying healthy, practicing safe social distancing, and loving your friends/neighbors who may need you. I work in the healthcare industry, specifically skilled nursing facilities. Please don't forget your elderly family and friends. Send a positive message, picture your kids have drawn, or encouraging verse to #CaringCards or email to CaringCards@PruittHealth.com. (This is a skilled nursing facility chain in the southeastern United States.) Or, do something like this locally where you live. We will get through this together!
  4. I'm still planning on going in June, but I also have a room booked in July on the Regal just in case cruises aren't sailing by June. Overkill? Probably...but it makes me much happier to have a backup plan!
  5. “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide The new Princess Plus program! When we originally booked, we had the basic fare. As time passed, we were able to upgrade that with free gratuities and an OBC. When Princess announced its all-inclusive deals a few months ago, we looked at the cost, but determined that it wasn’t worth it for us. THEN, Princess Plus was announced. Of course, I had to compare prices. Here are the extras I was already purchasing: Internet- $75 for one device (but we could really use two!) Coffee Cards- around $75 for two (We love GOOD coffee!) Soda- Canned soda package- $12 (ginger ale for if DH gets hiccups), PLUS two per day for DH out of pocket $5 per day: $60. We thought about stopping and getting some on the way in but having to lug those on board would be tough. Bottled water to take on excursions- around $15 for 2 packages Neither of us are heavy drinkers (I may have a glass of wine with dinner and a cocktail per day. Ok…3 max including wine). DH may have one per day. Let’s average 3 per day…at least $20 plus gratuities…let’s round to $25. Total for it all: $537 Then, a great CC’er posted this online: S o, to upgrade to the unlimited drinks and wifi (we already had gratuities), it was $600. In my mind…that’s a no-brainer for $60 extra…because: We can have up to 4 devices on wifi (this means we can Facetime or Skype with the kids on wifi, not having to pay our $10 per day Verizon upcharge for international!) If I want to have a second coffee, or 2 different glasses of wine with my dinner courses, no problem! If I want to try a new wine or cocktail, I can do it without fearing that I won’t like it and will be wasting my money. I may want champagne for our anniversary, but I won’t feel bad if I get one and don’t like it. Plus…I don’t have to worry about how much I’m spending onboard, other than at the spa. Has anyone else done the upgrade to Princess Plus?
  6. I have the magnetic hooks, but haven't gotten a clothesline yet. Thanks for the advice.
  7. Thanks for the input! We are supposed to take some time in Cobh too. We are taking a small group tour (paid for), so I'm glad it includes Cobh. We live in a small town, so I love the charm of them!
  8. “They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” ~Tom Bodett The 3-month mark is here! In just 3 short months, we plan to sail on our BI cruise! We are still booked, and Easy Air is still set up. I’m hopeful that the Covid-19 crazy will have calmed down by then. We are both in our 40s, with no major health issues to deter us. My hope is that a month from now, we will see that the incidence numbers have settled/turned downward, and people will not be afraid to travel again. So many people’s livelihood depends on the tourism or cruise industries, and I would hate to see people out of work for longer than absolutely necessary. But their safety is paramount, and I want those people to be healthy too. So for now, I have all 3 things to be truly happy on this trip…my amazing DH of almost 20 years, a great itinerary to plan for, and a hope that we will all be healthy and traveling in 3 months!
  9. A few latex gloves and Imodium are in my first aid/medicine kit too. Good ideas.
  10. “I've got gadgets and gizmos aplenty.I've got whozits and whatzits galore. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty.” ~Ariel Another Amazon Box? I admit it…I may have a problem! When going away for almost 3 weeks, I want to be prepared! I want to be organized! I don’t want to have to spend $10 for a package of bandaids. When we went to Hawaii a few years ago, I did the same thing. We used almost everything and didn’t have to make any crazy purchases while we were there. A cruise environment (especially in another country) makes me want to be sure I have what we need! Here are some of my purchases (or items I already had) that should come in handy on this trip. (I have no financial or advertising interest here…just showing you what I have!) Health: Medical grade sanitizing wipes, bandages, homeopathic cold and flu medicine, and Rhinease (I often get nosebleeds after flying and when in dry environments). Bags: Reusable shopping bag on a carabiner clip for my backpack, waterproof bag, the bags that came with my Tieks- great for putting shoes in to make sure you don’t dirty up your suitcase, a laundry bag (we will have to do laundry at some point), and a foldable duffle bag that is heavy duty (to act as an extra checked bag if needed.) Travel gadgets: Bag bungee (if you’ve ever carried a tote bag with your suitcase, you know what this is for! Plus, I think I will need it when we self-disembark!), Bose noise cancelling headphones (I’ve owned these for around 5 years, and they are lifesavers!), collapsible water bottle, luggage scale (to make sure we get right to that 70 pound limit!), and travel compression socks (I found these at TJ Maxx). For the cruise cabin: Hanging shoe organizer (over the door), motion activated night light, non-surge power outlet, and a travel alarm clock For tech: Power bank for phones/tablets, gear ties (we use these around our cords), and a case that organizes all of our cords, but folds up compactly For packing: (I found these all at TJ Max on clearance!) 2 sets of compression bags and an inflatable bottle pouch (to bring home French wine, Scotch, or something awesome like that What are your favorite travel accessories?
  11. “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” ~Charles de Gaulle Another Day, Another Booking! France is a country I have always wanted to visit. We threw around the idea of taking a Eurostar train and day trip to Paris from London. In the end, we decided that there is plenty to see/do in London and spending multiple hours on a train wouldn’t be the best use of our time. Our next big decision was what to do during our day docked in Le Havre. After a great deal of research and contemplation, we decided to book our own transportation to/from Honfleur, and to spend the day enjoying the market, restaurants, and sights. I found a vendor with great reviews online, and have booked a private car round trip, with 3 hours of free time in Honfleur (for less than the excursion cost!) This was our last day of excursions to plan for the trip, so I’m excited to hit this milestone!
  12. Thanks for asking. Here's the email they sent: "However, I must now inform you that this tour’s itinerary has been revised since you made your booking. The (Small Group) Shore Tour from Cork, Blarney Castle & Kinsale is changed to the Shore Tour from Cork, Blarney Castle & Jameson Distillery. The starting times and pickup locations for this tour are the same." I notice that it is the same online as well. Maybe this is a change for our date only, but I would ask if this would alter your decision one way or the other. Happy sails!
  13. “Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” ~Peter Pan Two for Tea Choosing where to have tea in London is like choosing how to eat your grits here in SC. There are a million opinions, but in the end you do what works best for you! After extensive searches, reading multiple reviews from bloggers, and comparing price/menus, we chose Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. Reservations opened this week for the dates of our trip, and I made ours today! Every reservation makes me exponentially more excited for this trip. (We are hoping COVID-19 calms down and goes away before then!)
  14. Bill, that's a great perspective. Thanks for joining in the discussion!
  15. “It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.” ~John Steinbeck Our Pre-Cruise Home…St. Ermin’s Hotel When choosing our pre-cruise hotel in London, we knew we would stay in the Marriott portfolio because of my status and the points I wanted to spend. The more difficult decision was exactly which hotel to choose. There were so many great places to choose from (54 to be exact), but a few full service hotels stood out: JW Marriott Grosvenor House, Wellesley Knightsbridge, St. Pancras Renaissance, London Marriott Park Lane, Le Meridien Picadilly, and St. Ermin’s. We eventually narrowed down to 2: St. Pancras Renaissance (which is supposed to have the best Marriott lounge in the world), and St. Ermin’s (which is more of a boutique-style property.) In the end, St. Ermin’s won out. They recently completed a renovation project, were centrally located to many of the sights we plan to visit, and they have a really neat courtyard of honeybee hives. It is a smaller property (around 400 total rooms or suites) and the photos make it feel very similar to some of our favorite properties in Charleston, SC. This little taste of home is what we want to come back to at the end of a day playing tourist. (We sure hope the photos do it justice.) I reached out to St. Ermin’s to gather some additional information/history about the hotel, and they were gracious and speedy in their reply. If that’s any indication of what their customer service is like, we made the right choice of hotel. Some of the history is very interesting! “During the 1930s the hotel and the next building were used by officers of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) located close by. The likes of Ian Fleming, Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Laurence Grand, H. Montgomery Hyde and Eric Maschwitz were all known to have worked from the building and throughout the Second World War, it operated as a convenient annex by SIS surrounded by other secret organizations. In addition, the hotel’s Caxton Bar was used regularly by SIS, MI5 and Naval Intelligence Division case officers to meet their agents. Eventual defector Guy Burgess frequently met his Russian counterpart in the bar to hand over top-secret government files. In 1940, Churchill, asked a group of individuals that were later to become the SOE, to “set Europe ablaze” and they initially housed themselves over an entire floor of the hotel.” This will be where we rest our minds, bodies, and souls for 5 nights! Special thanks to Jenna and St. Ermin’s for the historical information!
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