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Ergates The Ant

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Everything posted by Ergates The Ant

  1. I think staying in Bath would be more fun. It’s very walkable, with loads to see and do, and there are good transport links, train, local buses and longer distance coaches from right in the city centre. Bristol is more of a working city, with some rather seedy areas, and the sights are more spread out. Although the bus and coach station is in the city centre, Bristol Temple Meads rail station is a long walk, or a bus or taxi ride from the centre. Both cities have excellent theatres, worth checking what’s on while you are there. If there are specific places of interest you want to visit in Bristol, you could plan a day trip from Bath. You can get a direct train from Bath to Salisbury and take a dedicated bus tour from outside the station to Stonehenge, then look around Salisbury Cathedral. I lived just outside Bath for many years, and never tired of it, despite the crowds of tourists. Don’t miss the free guided tours every day from outside the Pump Rooms. I worked in Bristol for decades, but didn’t really enjoy visiting the city for leisure.
  2. We always use our Halifax clarity card for cruise accounts. Make sure they bill you in dollars, and you will pay no commission or extra charges, just the Halifax exchange rate which is much better than the cruise line. On one cruise, despite me specifying the account in dollars, they sent the final account to my cabin in pounds sterling. Trip to customer services and they sorted it back to dollars. ( obviously not on P and O, which is all in pounds!)
  3. The benefit of the coach is that the driver will put your cases in the luggage compartment and get them out when you arrive in Oxford. ( check how much baggage you can take though) The coach station is also nearer the centre of Oxford. Could be a lot easier than trying to stow bags on a busy train, while trying to find a vacant seat! And you will see a bit more scenery en route. Usually cheaper than the train, if a little longer, but you will definitely have a guaranteed seat, and these days, on board free Wi-fi. you will need to book in advance though to be sure of getting on.
  4. Once you decide to buy your train tickets, you will get the option to reserve seats on the train of your choice. Not a bad idea in case the train gets very busy. Also saves time trailing down the carriages looking for vacant seats that haven’t been booked by someone else! If you get a different train for any reason, your ticket will still be valid, you just won’t have a reserved seat. This doesn’t apply with an advance ticket which can only be used on the train it’s booked on.
  5. Best web site to use is www.nationalrail.co.uk ,should be no fees unless you are having tickets sent to you. I think at least one train company may charge a fee for you to pick up your ticket at a station ticket machine, but that company allows you to print or download your ticket to your phone. I worked out my own split ticket recently through this website, for a trip from Devon to Oxford via Basingstoke. Two tickets, one to Basingstoke from Devon, and another from Basingstoke to Oxford cost less than one through ticket. there is a possibility that there may be rail maintenance works planned for that Sunday. You should be able to check this on the website as well. That may be why there are fewer advance tickets available? Usually it’s just supply and demand, which could indicate that is going to be a busy day on the trains.
  6. Can’t believe the wording! If I’d received something like that, I’d be seriously wondering about where it had come from! Surely no self respecting company would allow such an unprofessionally worded email to be distributed with their name on. What sort of company image does this put forward to customers?
  7. Check with your airline advice. If they say allow 3 hours, arrive 3 hours before. If you get held up by queues at check in / bag drop, and then through security, and risk missing your plane, at least you didn’t contribute to the problem. Check your travel insurance, what does it cover for missed flights because of airport delays or delays en route caused by traffic, public transport failures etc. A lot depends on your financial circumstances. If you are happy to pay on-the -day prices for a later flight, assuming there are seats available on one, because you missed your booked one, then take your chances. I always plan to arrive at least three hours before any flight at Heathrow, especially transatlantic ones where there may be additional security checks. If the worst happens, I can at least prove that I followed the airlines advice and hopefully get rebooked onto a later flight. If the best happens, and I am through security smoothly and quickly, and managed to get my shoes on, and my belt back on before my trousers fall down, I can relax with a wander round the shops, or a snack. Ask your car service to allow you to arrive three hours before. They will also know local rat runs to avoid the inevitable traffic jams at that time of the morning. Good Luck
  8. It’s been said before, but non smoking tables in a casino with smoking tables is about as viable as offering a non peeing section of the swimming pool! For many non smokers, a smoking permitted casino is unusable. Given the small percentage of smokers on any ship, this means that the cruise line is offering a revenue producing facility to only a small minority of the passengers on board, and depriving the majority.That seems daft to me. And the provision of supposed non smoking nights in an otherwise smoking permitted casino is a waste of time. Most non smokers still have a working sense of smell, and short of replacing all the soft furnishings, drapes, carpet etc between sessions, the casino is still going to smell very unpleasant. If there was space available, two separate facilities could be offered, and could provide evidence to indicate whether non smokers gamble less than smokers, or not. Cant believe it myself, non smokers are likely to have more disposable income, not having an expensive addiction to service.
  9. Slightly off topic, but what are shoplifter pants?
  10. I certainly had the impression that in the USA, one is expected to tip anyway, even if the service is seemingly below par, because the employer hasn’t bothered to pay their staff properly, or take responsibility for the service provided in their establishment! and what defines good service anyway? In Europe, we expect our orders to be taken promptly, our food to arrive in a timely manner, any additional, reasonable, requests fulfilled, and our bill presented promptly when we are ready to pay. This is all provided for in the cost of the meal, and if there are any problems, I expect the manager to deal with it. I do not expect the wait staff to act like lifelong friends, to tell me sob stories about their financial situation, or to hover for a handout at the end of my meal. Frankly, such behaviour would probably put me off my food, and would certainly not be conducive to a relaxed and enjoyable experience. When in the USA, I tip 20% as this is what I am led to believe is expected. This is despite my embarrassment that I am supporting the demeaning and discriminatory treatment of lower paid employees, who should not be deprived of the same employment rights that ‘salaried’ staff enjoy
  11. Interesting and balanced discussion. A timely reminder to American tourists that what they consider to be generous tips, are what most of the world pay our service staff, included by law in the cost of restaurant meals, hotels etc. The shameful practice of withholding pay from the lowest paid workers, and then making up their pay in the form of ‘tips’, is no more civilised than throwing the coins on the floor for them to grovel for them, in my opinion. As far as I am aware, it is not usual practice in the USA to ‘tip’ staff who are paid a proper wage. In most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand, that is virtually anyone you will be dealing with. A tip, anywhere but the USA, is an extra and usually unexpected monetary thank you, for service above and beyond what you have already paid for, not part of the wages.
  12. This is truly shocking! Havent booked a cruise this year, and it looks like we probably won’t after all. Im sure we can find a better way to enjoy ourselves and spend our money, than by helping to support these crooks. And not only are they crooks but they are stupid ones as well! Did they not understand the meaning of probation? Just carried on regardless!
  13. Just a comment. Not all cruisers regard their cabin as just somewhere to sleep and change clothes. For us, it is somewhere to relax, escape from the crowds, watch a film on the tv, or just sit in peace and enjoy the sea views. A big reason for us always booking balcony cabins, to enjoy the view. We even leave the curtains open overnight, to wake with the daylight! We are unlikely to ever book an OV cabin, but the prospect of being downgraded to spending my holiday in a ‘cupboard’ with no window, would be my worst nightmare, and I would have been devastated. Some cruise to enjoy all the ship has to offer, some cruise for a convenient home from home, with windows! We are all different and have different requirements which we expect the cruise line to deliver.
  14. What a fun review! Really enjoyed it. Your daughter is a very bright little girl!
  15. Am I reading this correctly? The OP is being refunded the difference between the price of an interior cabin, and a guarantee oceanview? So RCI are expecting them to pay full price for a cabin they didn’t want, because they can’t or won’t provide what the OP paid for? I would be absolutely furious at such a derisory offer of compensation. OBC is only actually worth about a third of its on shore value, given the mark up on on-board prices, so RCI are getting away very lightly with failing to deliver what they contracted to do. What incentive is there for any cruise line to deliver to contract if there is no actual financial penalty if they fail to do so? The OP should be properly compensated with not only a substantial cash refund, meaning that they get the interior cabin at a bargain price, but also additional OBC, a complimentary speciality meal, and a bottle of bubbly as a minimum, as an apology for the substandard service they have experienced. And we should all expect that. Otherwise the agreement we enter into with cruise lines is worth nothing. In addition, any cruise line that offered me credit towards a future cruise, after messing up a booking, would be adding insult to injury. Worthless, unless you are prepared to risk even more expense on a product that let you down the first time!
  16. To answer the original question, Yes, we certainly check to see if smoking is allowed anywhere inside a cruise ship before booking. All indoor public areas in the UK are non smoking, so it is a bit of a shock to visit a ship’s casino and have to walk away because of the smell. If I am considering a ship where casino smoking is allowed, I certainly won’t be going into the casino, and will carefully check reports to see if other areas of the ship are affected by the smoke. Any hint of a problem and I won’t book that ship. i can’t understand how the cruise lines can get away with exposing casino staff to the known health hazards. Presumably by registering their ships in countries where they can avoid being sued by damaged employees and their families
  17. Two things I preferred on Celebrity, the smoke free interior, and Cafe Bacio. We do like to have a leisurely breakfast in the coffee shop, with decent espresso style coffees ( prepared to pay for them) and a choice of pastries. Celebrity was great for this. NCL Jade was terrible, the paid for coffee was mediocre and the only snacks available in the coffee area were a very limited selection of rather stale looking macaroons and chocolates, and there was a charge for those as well! We only went once, and spent less on that cruise than usual. Wouldnt go anywhere near a casino where any smoking is allowed at any time.
  18. Also loved Tallin. It was our favourite stop on our Baltic cruise. The architecture was almost fairytale like, and it was great to be able to walk from the ship into town. The people were friendly and helpful, and we were delighted to be able to buy locally made craft items for souvenirs. A wonderful cruise stop. We are from the UK, and found Tallin quite charming.
  19. Well, we stopped cruising with Princess after they were convicted and fined for disposing of polluting substances illegally and deliberately. Are there any ethical cruise lines out there that I could cruise with?
  20. Thanks for all the information on this thread. We took a cruise on Navigator of the Seas out of Southampton in 2018 and the casino was smoke free. It was our first RCI cruise and we really enjoyed it, and have been planning another with this line. However, this has made me think twice, unless I can guarantee being on a ship with a smoke free interior.
  21. For UK cruisers, worth noting that “tips” do not mean the same thing as they do in the US, and on US styled cruise ship culture. In the UK, also Europe, Australia etc, tips are a voluntary thank you for exceptional, above and beyond, service ON TOP OF the service staff actually having been paid properly. In the US, what are called tips are actually part of the staff wages, withheld, I understand, to ensure good service! if you leave the auto tips on, or pay them as added on to your on board account, you have paid the “tips” in the same way as US customers do. The “ tips” are also added onto any drinks bought on board, so no need to give extra cash, although I do note that many US cruisers do like to do this as a bribe for preferential service, a practice I find very wrong, as it implies that the rest of the customers will get a lesser service than they have paid for. It is then up to you entirely if you want to give any particular member of staff a little extra cash as a thank you, in the same way we might do in a restaurant in the UK. No obligation whatsoever. i would give room service a couple of dollars if I ever used it, which I haven’t, or if I had made a mess of my room, or asked the steward to do something above and beyond what might be expected. thats just for the ship.on land in the US, “tips” ie staff wages, aren’t fully covered in the cost of the food or service!
  22. One more point, in the UK, it is illegal not to include any compulsory charges in the cost of a purchase or service. This is one reason why the suggested gratuities cannot be described as mandatory, and have to be removable or else they would have to be included in the fare. This is part of laws intended to protect the consumer from incurring costs over and above what was advertised or described, by being misled. So it should come as no surprise that anyone other than an American would not automatically understand a tip or gratuity as being anything other than a little extra thank you, given freely and without obligation, for service above and beyond what was expected.
  23. The ship’s crew, like any employees, should be paid an appropriate wage, agreed in advance, and not dependant on the whims or generosity of their employers customers. Why would anyone object to having the crews wages included in the cost of the cruise? This is what happens in service industries throughout the civilised world. The US is the only nation I am aware of that has continued with an outdated and demeaning system that requires some of the lowest paid employees to ‘grovel’ for payment they should have been entitled to as part of their contract of employment. The cruise industry has seen fit to adopt this practice and needs to accept responsibility for the fact that this is not the norm for the rest of the world. i have never seen American cruise passengers tipping the guest services staff, or chasing the captain down a corridor with an envelope of cash. This is because they are properly remunerated, and in the UK, that includes everyone with a job! I am very insulted by those posters who label non- tippers as cheapskates, and reminding us all of how hard they work, but are not actively supporting having the crew’s pay fully included in the cruise fare. Why don’t they want the gratuities included? Oh yes, because it might cost them more! So who are the cheapskates?
  24. Good to know! Is it just Brits that make tea with freshly boiling water? One of our local Devon cafes recently tried to offer customers a pot of water of hot water and a teabag on the saucer, a la US style, and got a proper telling off from the customers! Can’t imagine trying to make a decent cuppa with water that has been transported by room service from the nearest kitchen, definitely off the boil!
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