Posted April 6th, 2018, 07:10 AM
I would like to thank you for having set up this thread. Your information has been bang on. We have customized our vacation with some of the excursions you did and in other cases have gone our own way which was exactly what information we needed.
Word of mouth information helps provide confidence that we are making good decisions. Without your help I would not have questioned some of the advice I have seen on other threads. Namely researching the Visa issue needs to be done by each individual as the cost depends on your nationality and seems to be constantly changing.
Some prices are increasing. Indochina has indicated their prices have gone up across the board as of January 1st 2017. If doing the Ha Long Bay cruise there are two things one needs to remember:
1. You may have an additional port usage fee however you would have this fee no matter what you were doing for the day. The point being that one should add this to their budget.
2. The cost of the visa is important due to the fact that you need a visa that will permit you to stay overnight if you are taking the overnight Ha Long Bay tour. This price changes dramatically whether or not you are American. At this moment it seems that for non-Americans that the best game in town price wise it Celebrity. I contacted them on the weekend and they will help with obtaining a Visa that will permit an overnight stay. We are told you do not have to be going on a Celebrity overnight excursion to get this visa. (This was verified twice). I am Canadian and this is what is working best for us at the moment.
The main thing with all information it is important to do your own personal verification.
The other huge variable is the cost of airline flights. I was lucky as I met an Australian travel agent a number of years ago who has guided me on flights internal to South East Asia. She was able to give me advice on one flight, Hong Kong to Siem Reap to keep looking as the prices I found were in her opinion overpriced. In the end she was correct. I dug a little more and found a cheaper flight.
Finally for flights from Canada to the cruise, I looked for two months, I found the itinerary I wanted in terms of the airline and connections however for the flights I wanted were not opening up the economy seating. I was patient and in the end used another website that provides a booking service at a nominal fee. In the end I save hundreds and go exactly the flights I wanted at the economy rates that on other sites were not showing as open. Know your prices and be persistent. All this being said I know at some point the prices might drop or go up however I had to have my flights from Canada to Singapore and Hong Kong to Canada in place so that I could plan around the rest of the vacation.
Capt Ron, I again want to thank you for your time. You have saved me a load of time. You have been a gentleman by providing your time and advice. I will pay this forward and am paying this forward by helping others out where I can. I will post how things work out when I return in January 2018 (we leave November 30, 2017 and return January 1st 2018)
Jon I’m assuming you are back. I would love to hear updated info and recommendations. We have this booked for 2020 so am just starting to copy/paste/take notes and dig in on the research for tours.
Can you share your experiences and suggestions? Thanks!!!
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Carnival Sensation (1995), RC Monarch (1997), Grand Princess (1998), HA Amsterdam (1999), Golden Princess (2000), Celebrity Summitt (2002), Celebrity Constellation (2004), Carnival Conquest (2005), Sapphire Princess (2006), HA Zuiderdam (2006), HA Statendam (2007), Carnival Valor (2008), Grand Princess (2009), HA Westerdam (2010), NCL Pride of America (2010), RC Liberty (2010), RC Allure (2011), RC Allure (2012), Carnival Sensation (2012), RC Allure (2012), RC Freedom (2012), RC Liberty (2013), RC Navigator (2013), RC Oasis (2013), RC Liberty (2014), RC Oasis (2014), Carnival Breeze (4-15), RC Allure (6-15), RC Oasis (12-15). RC Harmony Inaugural Cruise (5-16), RC Liberty (12-16), RC Serenade (5017), RC Allure (12-17). Future Cruises: Symphony (12-18)