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About FionaMG

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    The Land of Custard Tarts

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  1. Third time lucky, as they say. Fingers crossed for you.
  2. Aiming for Panama Canal late November / early December 2022 to celebrate a landmark anniversary. DH sailed through it a number of times way back when he worked on the old Sitmar line but I have never been. (Closest was @twangster's live review, which was simply jaw-dropping.)
  3. What a lovely gift! C&A points go the person cruising irrespective of who paid.
  4. Somebody just posted this link over on CC. https://www.healthygateways.eu/Portals/0/plcdocs/EU_HEALTHY_GATEWAYS_COVID-19_RESTARTING_CRUISES.pdf?ver=2020-07-01-115942-557 It's a bit long-winded but then anything and everything that comes from the EU is.
  5. My pleasure. It was fun to relive the experience especially given the current climate. :D
  6. Only have the weekend off but we spent this afternoon on our local beach and then went out for dinner afterwards. Note that the pic of the beach is from last month on our first outing after lockdown was eased but it's the same beach. 😄 It feels good to be able to do some (almost) normal stuff.
  7. Just replied to your PM Miguel
  8. @MiguelB, you can definitely use MEI. I'm in Portugal too and currently have a booking with them. However, if you made your booking in Portugal you won't be able to transfer it to MEI because Portuguese bookings are not made direct with Royal, they go through the local representative Melair, which is itself a travel agency. I think they might also not be able to handle bookings made in euro currency. ( @AnnetteJackson would you be able to clarify on this point at all?) Apart from that there is also a time limit of 60 days after you book to be able to transfer it to a travel agent. However, for the future, you can use the form on this page to be assigned a MEI travel agent or you can contact one directly using their e-mail addresses. Just look for the threads about MEI and you will usually find recommendations with contact details. ETA: point about currency already clarified by @WAAAYTOOO while I was writing my answer.
  9. @rshov, here are a couple of other suggestions for you. Marseille: I do like the city and if you prefer not to venture farther afield there are a few things you might like to do. First of all, know that the ship does not dock right in town. There is (or at least used to be) a free bus service from just outside the port gates but to be honest, there are loads of taxis and the last time we were there it was about 20 euros each way in a taxi. There are marshalls organising the queue so it's not a free-for-all like you find at some ports. If you take a taxi, you want to tell the driver to take you to the Vieux Port (which means Old Port) and you will be dropped at the taxi rank there, which is nicely central and from which you have several options. There is a free walking tour from the top end of the Vieux Port which my daughter has done and said was very good. No pre-booking was required for this pre-Covid and there were normally two separate daily tours, one in English and one in Spanish. However, at the moment you do have to pre-book and there appears to be only one bilingual tour. Anyway, you can browse their website here: https://marseillefreewalkingtour.com/marseille-free-tour/ Right by where the taxi would drop you is the terminus of the Petit Train (Little Train), which covers several routes. The one we did takes you around the port area and up to the Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica on a hilltop overlooking the city. This is not a HoHo service. Everybody has to get off at the Basilica and then you catch another train to complete the circuit. Tickets for the train can be bought from one of the agents working the queue. I can't remember how much it cost us but it wasn't expensive and it was an enjoyable trip. Here's the Petit Train website: http://petit-train-marseille.com/en/home-7/ Unfortunately the Basilica's website is not working at the moment but you can look it up on Google and you'll get hits from the big travel sites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, etc. If you enjoy museums, MUCEM (Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean) is also very close to the Vieux Port. They are currently closed, again because of Covid, but you can see their website here: https://www.mucem.org/en/your-visit I don't know if you know, but Marseille is famous for its soap (savon de Marseille) and there is a soap factory/museum (Musée du Savon) on the opposite side of the Vieux Port from where the petit train departs. Unfortunately, the website appears to be only in French, but here is the link to it anyway because it has a short video of the museum on the site: https://www.savon-de-marseille-licorne.com/le-musee-du-savon-de-marseille-vieux-port-de-marseille My daughter visited this too. There are three options: just visit the factory shop - no charge, pay only for what you buy; visit the museum - entry fee includes a bar of soap; visit the museum and the factory - entry fee includes your own personalised soap (you can see them doing this in the video). Here's a photo of my daughter's: So that's it for Marseille. On now to the other port I have a recommendation for and that's La Spezia. Yes, you could go to Florence from here but it's a long way. You'll be spending ages on a bus and when you get there you won't have time to even scratch the surface, let alone do the city justice so, unless you're really enthusiastic about architecture and history and know you won't get another chance to visit, I would recommend giving it a miss. La Spezia is the gateway to Cinque Terre: https://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/en/ and Cinque Terre is unmissable. If you're reasonably mobile you can skip the expensive cruise line excursions and do it yourself by train. You can walk from the port to the train station in about 20 minutes. Inside the train station there is a dedicated Cinque Terre ticket office with very helpful English-speaking staff. They will sell you the train tickets and give you a free map and timetable. There are reduced fares for (if I remember right) 65 years and up. You can also buy souvenirs or a little guide book like the one in my pic. You must validate your ticket by sticking it into one of the yellow machines on the platform and then you're good to go. It works a bit like a HoHo bus; you can get on and off the train at the different stations along the route, spend some time in each village and get back on the train again at the end. We have done this twice. The first time we got off the ship quite late so we didn't make it to the last village, Monterosso. The second time we used a different strategy. We visited the first village, Riomaggiore, which had been our favourite on the previous trip, and then went all the way to Monterosso, where we spent a bit longer and had a tasty panini lunch at a beachside restaurant. If you enjoy beaches and think you might want to spend some time there, it might be worth sticking a towel in your bag and wearing a bathing costume under your clothes. Doing this had an additional benefit. The trains get quite busy in the afternoon with people making their way back to La Spezia. Since Monterosso is the last of the five villages, it's the first one on the way back, so we got seats on the train. From the second village onwards, it was standing room only. That said, the total journey time is only about half an hour. Anyway, apologies for the length of this post, but I wanted to give you plenty of information in the hope that it would help you in your planning. Feel free to ask any questions; if I know the answers, I'll be happy to respond.
  10. Has the US relaxed its ban on EU travellers entering the States? If not, I could see a "tit for tat" situation arising, although I would hope that is just me being overly cynical.
  11. Ours is the exact same cruise and exact same week next year but a different ship (was Allure, now Harmony) so I'm putting the difference in the taxes and fees down to increases made by one or more of the ports or some such bureaucratic thing. Anyway, it was a small and perfectly acceptable price to pay to lock in the amazing rate we had and which I would have been gutted to lose. If we had just moved rather than L&S-ing (which we could have done since we booked with refundable deposit) it would have cost almost double the price, so we are grateful that L&S came along.
  12. In some cases it can actually be hundreds of dollars. I've seen a couple of posts, one on here I think and one or two over on CC who mention the taxes and fees being in the 300-dollar range. I actually checked what ours would be by doing a mock booking before asking our TA to go ahead with the switch (shout out to @michelle from MEI who has been great despite not having made a penny out of our booking yet and now postponed till next year!). Ours was a straight switch to the exact same cruise next year. I believe the people who reported a big jump in the taxes and fees may have been changing to itineraries with different ports and/or on different ships, which I think may influence the amount. Final payment date moves along with the booking, so around 90 days before the new sailing date and will be shown on your new confirmation.
  13. Except for the additional $9.99 per person taxes and fees the price for our new cruise after L&S-ing was exactly the same as the old one, down to the last penny.
  14. Unfortunately this is not worth fighting as it clearly states in the T&Cs that the fees and taxes do not lift and shift and that the applicable ones are those for the new cruise. It's something that ideally you need to check before finalising the switch. Sometimes it works in your favour and the price goes down and other times the opposite happens and it goes up. 😞
  15. I thought so too, especially on one of the big ships where there is so much to do on board. Maybe one day... 😄
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