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jkgourmet

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About jkgourmet

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    Raleigh, NC USA

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  1. Yes. One in Tokyo for two days. First day he was good (not great). Second day, different part of Tokyo, he was bad. He was unfamiliar with that area of the city. We had a GREAT volunteer guide in Busan. Not thru any organization. I found him on facebook. We have another in Yokohama. In Kyoto, We hired a paid guide for a tour in Kyoto thru ToursByLocals. Quite good, but her accent was very strong. The night before, we did a foodie tour in Goon thru Magical Tours. OUTSTANDING. Very recommended. All the volunteers guided have been great at email correspondence before our trip.
  2. Yes everyone goes thru even if they stay on the ship. The same was true when we hit our first port in S Korea, but that was painless - MUCH MUCH quicker. No, Celebrity was not helpful. Biggest issue to me was the lack of warning about the amount of time it takes. Yes excursion groups went first, but they had equal delays.
  3. Yesterday we were in Busan, S Korea. Today we docked at Hakodate, Japan. Celebrity announced that all passengers had to go thru a face to face immigration for Japan - again. They started disembarking between 8:45am and 9:00am. We were broken into groups by celebrity. We were group #12. We were not off the ship until 12:30pm. Our friends in group #14 followed at 1:10pm. Japanese immigration had at least 12 agents working to get 2500+ passengers thru the process. I was told that this same thing happens whenever a ship ports in another country then enters a port in japan. I ONLY know that this happened to us in hakodate. Celebrity announced the immigration requirement the night before indicating that there would be delays. No mention a four hour delay. It's a shame. We had a goodwill guide (volunteer) waiting for us - arranged for 10:30am. We had to email her our apologies. It's a nice city, and we are disappointed. I realize the Japanese government has to follow their procedures. I DO wish Celebrity had advised us about this - both well in advance and the extent of delay.
  4. It really really varies. Sometimes within 72 hours of booking. Other times a week before.
  5. Currently on the millennium on day #10. No power outages. (Unfortunately, The tv selections still suck and the reception is irregular. But the water pressure in the shower is excellent.)
  6. We like Tuscan. But the answer is Murano. We're on the millenium as I write this and miss it. So much that we will avoid sailing on another X ship without it (or a similar restaurant).
  7. Re:#1. Going to most points in Tokyo from HND is roughly 25-30 minutes. From NRT roughly 45-55 minutes. I don't agree that it's significant enough to spend any extra money to choose one or the other. From YOKOHAMA, NRT is about one hour more than HND. Re: #4. Those prices shown on the Viator site become WAY higher when you actually go to book. Sort of like cars; the advertised cheap prices aren't really there.
  8. Public transportation in Tokyo is excellent, efficient, comfortable and cheap. Taking a cruise transfer is a big waste of money. Select a hotel that is on the Airport Limosine drop off points - it's a bus that will take you door to door to your hotel from Haneda. Or take one of several trains - many will not require a transfer. Same thing from Tokyo to the ship in Yokohama. Train to Yokohama station, quick taxi ride to ship. Our friends did this last week. Haneda to the door if their hotel on the airport limousine bus. Cost was maybe $22 each. Cost of cab would be about S150 USD. We did NRT to Ueno by train, then a quick taxi to our hotel in Asakusa (beautiful area). Fun, cheap and easy. Cost including taxi was about $20 each. A taxi would have been over $200usd. BTW - regular taxis will fit 4 with no luggage. Got 3 people - 3 carry on bags only. Anything larger and your getting two taxis.
  9. Correction: the ships are not concerned about MRSA. It's ecoli. People rarely die from infections related to ecoli. Most people die (or suffer loss of limbs if they get the 'flesh eating bacteria' type of MRSA. Trust me - if MRSA were an issue on cruise ships, the entire industry would disappear.
  10. The do not call list was worthless from the start. They exempted politicians - allowing themselves to make solicitation calls to get votes.
  11. Is this a late April fools joke?
  12. Dude, even IF Celebrity reads this, they have no way of knowing your name or how to contact you. WTH did we all do 15 years ago when internet wasn't available? I think we cruised and had a better time.
  13. Really try to see the kilmarrin Gaol. Really interesting and well done tour.
  14. I'm well aware that hand washing is better than Purel - when its done PROPERLY. But people aren't doing to at all. In a crowded situation like a cruise ship, Purel would ABSOLUTELY be better than nothing. As for avoiding the buffet, not everybody can use Blu or Luminae. For some meals, the buffet is our only choice. There's absolutely nothing at the entrance of any other restaurant on the ship. I know there's no tongs in the MDR, but we all don't share stuff at those tables: pass the butter and brad rolls, please. THEORETICALLY, soap and warm water is a better solution. But even with very few passengers using the troughs, there are lines. And people won't wait on a line if they don't have to. In multiple visits to or thru the buffet, I've seen exactly ONE staff person at the door directing people. That a how I found out about the troughs in the first place. They are well hidden. At least put the dispensers back, and let passengers have the choice. Prediction: expect to see higher numbers of noro outbreaks on ships.
  15. Arrived on the Millennium yesterday, dumped the bags, and headed up to the OV buffet. Looked for the Purel sprayer person. None. Looked for the DIY Peel dispenser. None. I asked a staff person who pointed to a fairly hidden area with four sinks. 24 hours later, I've seen damned few people using those sinks. I suspect many passengers don't even know they exist. Those that do are there for maybe 15 seconds. (What happened to save the oceans? For each person that actually washes their handsb at least one paper towel is added to trash.) There are still a few Purel machines around the ship. Not many, and at least one was empty. They do still have a staff person squirting when you get back on the ship. But nobody at the entrance to the MDR. I'm absolutely not a germophobe. I eat at street stalls in Thailand and taco stands in Mexico. But this is the very first time that I'm concerned about getting 'cruise ship cooties'. Was this part of the Edgification? Whoever approved that probably forgot to check with the Chief Medical Officer.
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