Showing posts from July, 2016

My Best Passenger - Aidan

This isn't about cruising, but it is about someone very special to me.  I first met Aidan about a month ago when he rode my bus.  He then got on again a few weeks later and after discussing things with him and his nurse we arranged to have Aidan tour the Poco Transit Depot.

Today was hands down the best day of my career. Aidan who is 10 - will be 11 on Oct 8, he made sure to advise me of this, rode my bus. He met me for my 159 at Braid then rode all the way to the bus depot. 

Once there the staff in the front office welcomed him. He was given all kinds of fun stuff. 

Then the maintenance supervisor Chuck showed him the maintenance yard where the buses get fixed. We then walked thru the depot and introduced him to quite a few drivers, some who knew him. He was sure in his element.

He talked about wanting to work here someday. Said he could empty the fair boxes as a job, or work with computers. I told him he definately could do anything.

I then had to get to Coquitlam for my second piece…

Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie Turns 5

August 1st marks 5 years for my facebook fan page: Cruising Princess Cruiseline with Vickie. 

With just over 3,200 followers, 67% are women 33% men, and from 44 different countries. 

When I started this page five years ago I knew I loved talking cruises, and couldn't find anything dedicated to just Princess. I was tired of the sites that made people feel victimized or attacked for asking a simple question. I wanted to create a respectful place where people from all over the world could share their experiences and ask questions. 

I wanted to share my experiences with others to help them with their cruise related travels. I thought maybe 100 people would follow, and those would be mainly friends/family. I had no idea where this page would go, what it could turn into, and who would follow. 

But I have enjoyed doing it and am pleased so many others have helped contribute. It is always fun to check in each day and hear from many of you. I am touched by the lovely comments and they truly ke…

Planning Our Stay In Florence

After spending a few days in Genoa with our friends we will take the bus to Florence.  Federico highly recommended Flixbus.  For a very minimal cost we can travel from Genoa to Florence for 10 E total for the two of us and in three hours.

We have booked an Air BnB.for Florence - here is a link to the residence we have booked for only $83 Canadian a night.  If you haven't tried an Air BnB I highly recommend it. It is so easy and much cheaper than most hotels.  Plus you can get the entire place and really mix with the locals.  We like to also buy a few breakfast items and save money by eating breakfast at home. If you are interested in trying it out click this link and you will get $30 off your first booking.

So back to the apartment.  We are there for three nights.  It is centrally located and we can easily walk there from the train/bus station and to most sites.  In fact it is only one block from the great restaurant we went to last year, so you can be sure we will be back.  

Our pla…

Peter Rayner's 7 Day Scandinavian Cruise

Peter once again wrote a great review of his 7 day Scandinavian Cruise from Southampton on Emerald Princess in July 2016


Although the drive to the port is only 2 hours away, we have been caught out before by problems with traffic so we always stay at a budget hotel the night before. Travelodge is our preferred choice because they offer a decent bed with no frills at a very low price.

We chose to park away from the port and take a shuttle bus in. It is about a 20 minute journey and is less convenient than port parking, but much cheaper. We prefer to spend the money we save on the ship and so do not mind the slight inconvenience.

The baggage handlers are right there at the kerbside when we get off, placing luggage on the conveyor belt. Unlike in the US, nobody seems to be tipping them. I, however, decide to give the handler a tip because it is what I would have done automatically in Fort Lauderdale. Good job too, because the handler spots that I have dropped my luggage at the w…

Upgraded to Balcony for the Same Price

We are staying on the Royal and doing a cruise in the Caribbean.  When we booked it was $499 for an inside. Then it dropped to $399.  

Our friends who live in Florida were looking at booking too. When they did book they got a residency rate of $399 but for a BY Balcony.  

After discussing with our travel agent, she informed us if our friends shared the deal with us - through the Princess site - Called Share the Savings - we could also get this deal.

Larry quickly filled out the info and sent it off and Connie at Best Price Cruises took care of the rest.  

We are now in a Obstructed Balcony from an inside for the exact same price.

So I learned something new - sharing a great deal is possible under the right circumstances.  Also staying on top of price changes and what your friends have booked is key. Talk to them, get information and then find out if it can be applied to your booking.  It never hurts to ask.

Insides Come Available At Great Price

Remember when I wrote about wanting to book an inside for our Trans Atlantic on the Royal but it looked like Princess had locked them out.  Here is a link to that blog.

Well yesterday they opened up those insides.  

You see when a ship has a lot of cabins left relatively close to sailing. Princess is going to try and sell the balconies first. They will offer upsells to those in insides to balconies for a nominal fee, then once they have sold some balconies they will open up the available insides.

Because of the Ship Mate App I have that notifies me (for free) when there is a price drop. I got an email saying insides were lower. That meant insides were once again available.

The price just couldn't be beat either.  An IE sideways inside for $850. This means a $500 per person savings from our balcony to this inside.  

Although I would love the balcony I don't really need it and right  now I need the savings more.  That $1,000 will go far towards other things.  Plus on a Trans Altantic…

How To Pre Order All Your Italy Tickets To Major Sites

One tip I learned from Rick Steves that has been priceless is:  

Pre reserve your all your tickets to the major sites in Florence, Rome, Venice and others large cities.  This allows you to skip the line (which can be quite long during prime season).  

There are many booking sites out there that will reserve tickets for you (I call them brokers) and add an additional fee to secure these tickets. But by going directly with the establishment you cut out the middle man and save money.  

Here is an example for exactly the same ticket for Florence's Uffizi Gallery Tickets with skip the line:

Viator - 28 EurosMusement - 20 EurosFlorence Museum - 24.50 EurosItaly Tickets - 26.50 Euros
But directly with the Museums Site - 16.50 Euros 

What I really dislike is it is hard to determine what is the official site and what isn't.  Those brokers make their sites look VERY official.  

Last year we pre reserved for the Colosseum/Forum in Rome, Vatican Museum, Doge's Palace in Venice.  

Flights Booked Part Deux

Option three won out.  So many of you were right.  The 20 hours is long but it will give us time to rest up and try to adjust to the time change.
So we are booked on the Westjet flight leaving Vancouver at 1830 arriving in London at 1147 the next day.  For a $20 added fee we were able to reserve our seats too. The one pain was they had a cheap price for one $390, but when you search for two the price jumped up.  We therefore booked one of us on the cheaper fare. Then booked the other at the higher price $487. And because we reserved seats we are sitting together.
We then booked the British Airways flight for 15 £ each plus taxes and fees which ended up making it a total cost of 42 £ each.  Wow what a steal!

So cost breakdown is as follows:

Westjet flight: $487 for one, $390 for the other total:  $877 CanadianBritish Airways flight:  42 £ each or $141 Canadian totalOld flights were $1420 new flights are $1018 (but we do need to pay for a hotel/food).  That is $781 US for both of us to fl…

What Flight Would You Pick

As per my previous blog I have to rebook flights to Genoa.

I have two options - help me pick - all prices in Canadian also we have a 9 hour time change:

option 1: $731 a 1321 flight (Air Transat) Vancouver to London then 2.5 hours layover then flight to Genoa arriving at 1225 pm. But to do this flight I will have to take some time off work Fri (lose pay) to catch flight and VERY long routing. 

option 2: $524 a 1830 flight (Westjet) Vancouver to London then 2.38 hours then flight to Paris, 4 hour layover, arriving in Genoa at 22:20  - no loss of pay but long day.

option 3: $466 a 1830 flight (Westjet) Vancouver to London then 20 hour layover (but for around $100 we can get hotel at airport and rest up) next day catch 8 am flight to Genoa 

What would you pick?

Darn Flight Changes Throw a Monkey Wrench Into Everything

Well, like I always say I hate air travel and airlines.  And yesterday only reinforced my theory.

After work I went in looking at the option for reserving our seats on our Air Transat Flight to Rome.

As I scanned the seat map, comparing seats with flight guru seat recommendations I noticed something was off.  

At the bottom of the page it showed the flight with one stop in London.  Hmmm our flight is suppose to be direct to Rome from Vancouver.  After further investigation and checking travel search sites I see our flight to Rome has changed.  It now leaves earlier from Vancouver and arrives in Rome an hour later.  This makes our 2.5 hour layover in Rome with enough time to get to our 1420 flight just enough, but now it is down to a 1 and a half hour layover and that is NOT enough time to clear customs, get bags and get to new flight.

So I get on the phone with the agency we booked our flights with - Kiwi - and they are not aware of the change and will look into it.

After hanging up with t…