Are they getting bigger or smaller?

Ships that is!  A listing of the new ships coming on stream for 2016 is an interesting read.  In the past few years the trend was the bigger the better.  Back in 2010 the Oasis class of ship by Royal Caribbean boasted a capacity of up to 6296 passengers.   That’s just slightly less than the population of Banff or Innisfail.  Imagine!

Well I don’t have to imagine actually. I was on one of the inaugural sailings of the Oasis and you know – it wasn’t that bad!  For someone who doesn’t like crowds (me) I found that the ship was very well planned with smaller spaces throughout.  The problem is to me it doesn’t feel like being on the sea.

So what’s the smallest cruise ship you can go on?  No – I am not talking about this?

There’s no place to put the champagne!
THIS is what I mean by a small cruise ship.  And oh did I tell you it is all inclusive.  Yes Darling!

The Tere Moana is owned by Paul Gauguin Cruises and hosts just 98 people.  Imagine that – like having your own private yacht or being a guest of Jackie O.  Those were the days!

Other smaller cruise ships are those included in the expedition class such as the Stella Australis based in Patagonia.  This is a small ship equipped for exploration but still offers all the little luxuries on board.

And remember – it’s not all about what happens on the ship (although hopefully it stays there) – it’s about what happens when you are off the ship…. as in ….
Swimming with the rays

Being prepared

And having fun on those shore excursions

It’s all out there waiting for you folks – BIG and small…

Why you wouldn’t go to Honolulu

Well – here’s the reason.  If you booked a flight from Toronto to Honolulu with a plane change in Vancouver it might be cheaper than a regular Toronto Vancouver ticket so you actually wouldn’t want to go to Honolulu.  You would just get off the plane in Vancouver.

Does this really work?  Apparently so – according to a report by Global News.

So what does this mean?  Well you certainly wouldn’t be able to check any luggage on the flight.  It would also mean that your seat from Vancouver to Honolulu would remain unsold.  Or would it?  Don’t airlines routinely over-sell? If you don’t have a seat reserved on a scheduled flight you run the risk of being bumped in favour of those last minute full fare folks.  So maybe nobody is feeling sorry for the airlines.

So how to find these “hidden fares”?  Difficult really – bit of a gamble and you would need lots of time on your hands to search out numerous itineraries and then do fare comparisons.  Voila!  Along comes an app!

They are currently doing battle in the courts with United Airlines.  These airfares have become a big big hassle.  Many travel agents today won’t do air only requests.  First of all the airlines don’t pay any commission and most fliers feel that they don’t want to pay a service fee – unless you are working on a very complex itinerary – then a travel agent will be you new BFF.

In the meantime if you think Skiplagged is doing a great job then you can contribute to their legal action at this link

Me?  I am just going to cough up and pay so I can check my bags all the way to my final destination.

Just Go.

Lesley Keyter:

Now this girl has the right idea –
Go Helen Go!
Run Forrest Run!

Originally posted on tripstravel:

This is pathetic. I have not posted anything here in THREE YEARS! What does that tell you about my life, hey? Not many adventures have happened since Greece in 2011 (pause for a quick reminiscent daydream).

So Helen, why now? What’s going on? Let me tell you! Because honestly, I am bursting. I’m pretty sure I’ve told everyone at work, even people I don’t talk too very often. It’s been a very long time that I’ve wanted to take this trip, but it will finally be happening. Come March 2016 (yes, a whole year away) I will finally be going to INDIA!

Those of you who have already visited India will know that there are only two reactions you get from people, upon sharing with them your upcoming travel plans.

Reaction #1: ”That’s amazing! I’m so jealous. You’re going to have a great time!”

Awww, so lovely and sweet and…

View original 368 more words

When you feel like a good whine…

Sorry – I actually meant wine!  I just returned from Bordeaux in France and there is nothing to whine about with this destination.  Just a wonderful week of wine tasting, food tasting, wine and food pairing and much more.  The area is just full of the cutest chateaux surrounded by vineyards.
Over this time of year of course the weather is not the most brilliant – that would be the only whine I could think of.  The benefit was however that nowhere was crowded as you can see from this photo taken in Bergerac.  Pack for the weather, remember good boots and a great raincoat.  My best friend was my Tilley waterproof hat which went everywhere with me.

Seeing this part of the world was easy on a river cruise.  I travelled with Uniworld and it was interesting for me to sail on them as I have in the past sailed on Viking and AMAWaterways and have been on board Avalon.  There is a river cruise company out there to suit every need and every budget.  It’s just a question of speaking to an expert.

The area is very quaint and abounds with lots of cute bed and breakfasts like this one.

Or you can do it in style as I did (and there is no whine here, believe me) with Uniworld River Cruises in this beautiful stateroom.  Oh my goodness the linens on these beds were amazing – so soft.
The staff were so helpful and a major part of my enjoyment on this cruise was the fact that gratuities are included so obviously the staff are well paid and not chasing you all the time just for a tip.  They were gracious and knowledgeable – especially when it  came to the area, the wine, the food and top class hospitality.

The best thing ever about doing a river cruise is that you get into your room and unpack and then cruise the countryside with beautiful views from your window.

And if you don’t feel like wine you can always go cognac tasting.  This area of France is where you find Cognac and only brandies produced in this part are allowed to be called Cognac.  We made the trip out to Remy Martin and did some sampling –

This was just before I knocked over my glass.  Oh my goodness – how embarrassing.   They were very gracious however – especially after I bought a rather expensive bottle of Remy Martin XO.  Every wonder what those initials mean – VS, VSOP and XO.  Quite simple really – Very Superior, Very Superior Production and Extra Old.  Not quite what I expected – I thought that they would stand for some throat gargling French word.

So my only whine ……umm – actually nothing to whine about.  I had a wonderful time and now I am home and as Dorothy said “There’s no place like home”.

He’s got baggage…

a rather big suitcase and guess who is inside it?  His wife.  What???

Yes they were travelling by train from Moscow to Nice.  That’s 47 hours of train travel.  A long long time to be in a suitcase.   As they entered Poland the border guards inspected the case  and they were totally taken aback to find a 30 year old woman inside.  And why I hear you ask.  Not to save the money on the train fare.  Nope.  She didn’t have a passport.  What she didn’t know was that she didn’t need a passport to enter Poland.   Oh well – there’s one born every minute.

Then there’s the lady who decided to have a few puffs on a US domestic flight while waiting for take off.  Quite brazen she was and then when the flight attendant asked her what the heck she was doing she blamed the guy sitting next to her.  Of course these days nothing is private so the whole incident was filmed by a fellow passenger.
Check it out here

And finally the tip of the week – how to avoid those excess luggage charges.  Just do what these lads did when they found they would have to pay $130 in excess luggage.  They just opened their bags and put on layers and layers of extra clothes, shoes tucked  into waistbands, several hats.
The flyers. Picture: Stou Sandalski

But…. it might have backfired on them because the flight attendant accompanied them to the door of the aircraft to make sure they wore all of these clothes the whole way home.  I feel uncomfortable just thinking about it!

The ultimate whine…..

…….every two minutes, every waking hour, every day – for a month!

ohareThe new runway at O’Hare has some people over-worked up. The Chicago Department of Information reports that in one month last year, one obsessive with no life lodged 11,155 complaints about O’Hare Airport noise. Assuming that he or she was awake and at home for 14 hours every single day, that makes one complaint EVERY TWO MINUTES – for a month. That has to be some sort of record particularly if you consider that airport-noise complaints can only be lodged by phone or by completing an online form with 6 fields! Now that Mr or Ms Griper have been dutifully ignored, here’s hoping they can go back to something marginally normal like moaning to family or, failing that – go feed the cat!nala catnip

And – even worse, they’re not the only grumblers – there are another 24 nutters. Could be the beginning of a Whine Club with new runway obsessions– look out YYC!

For all the gory details go to this link –

So let’s take a look at complaining and how to do this effectively.  Perhaps the Chicago resident thought that the “drip treatment” would elicit results and maybe it will.  The airport authorities would probably do anything to stop the dripping.

Other people use humour in their complaint.  I find this the most effective – how about this sample from a complaint letter to Liat – the Caribbean airline.

“Dear LIAT,

May I say how considerate it is of you to enable your passengers such an in-depth and thorough tour of the Caribbean.

Most other airlines I have travelled on would simply wish to take me from point A to B in rather a hurry. I was intrigued that we were allowed to stop at not a lowly one or two but a magnificent six airports yesterday. And who wants to fly on the same airplane the entire time? We got to change and refuel every step of the way!

I particularly enjoyed sampling the security scanners at each and every airport. I find it preposterous that people imagine them all to be the same. And as for being patted down by a variety of islanders, well, I feel as if I’ve been hugged by most of the Caribbean already.

I also found it unique that this was all done on “island time,” because I do like to have time to absorb the atmosphere of the various departure lounges. As for our arrival, well, who wants to have to take a ferry at the end of all that flying anyway? I’m glad the boat was long gone by the time we arrived into Tortola last night — and that all those noisy bars and restaurants were closed.

So thank you, LIAT. I now truly understand why you are “The Caribbean Airline.”

Love that one!  But here is the best I have seen…  sent to the railway in Anglia UK

Charge for checked bags backfires on airlines and passengers

Well I have had some fun with this in the past on this blog – people trying to take oversized bags as carry on which is a great inconvenience to fellow passengers.  This weekend stories in the media abound about the chaos at airports caused by passengers trying to take as much as possible as carry on, possibly wanting to avoid the checked bag fees.  This has caused delayed flights, lost luggage and other headaches for many travellers.

The problem is airlines do not have enough staff to check every piece of carry on luggage so this is left to the passenger to self check – which obviously nobody is going to do.  It’s really just human nature.  We will continue to push the boundaries and see how much we can get away with before we will actually follow the rules.  Even Saturday Night Live has had fun with this one.

Has the checked baggage fee been worth it for the airlines?  One wonders.  They have gone to extreme lengths to increase their profits.  Air Canada has recently cut commissions to travel agents down to ZIP and yet recently announced that they have had one of their most profitable years!  Mmmm – so poor travel agents make no money on flights and poor passengers pay for checked baggage and poor ticket agents get abuse over late flights.  Makes for happy times for sure!