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sbalax
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All--

I've posted on the International Forum but thought I'd post here, too. We are doing a cruise next month from Singapore to Dubai. We have chosen to do an extravagantly expensive shore excursion from Cochin, our first port in India, to Delhi and then Agra for the Taj. Transport to Agra is on the Shatabdi Express. From all I'v read, this should be a good experience. Return to Delhi is by coach.

We rejoin the ship in Goa and then call in Mumbai before heading to Muscat and Dubai where we join a second cruise for Suez, Haifa, Cyprus, and Turkey.

Frank in dark and cool SBA

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smitty195
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Wow!!!! That sounds incredible.

Can I have your permission to copy/paste your message into a PRIVATE email to a friend who is Indian and is from there? He will know all of these areas I'm sure. I'd like him to read it and then see if anything jumps out at him regarding info you should know. Can i do that or would you rather not? (He is highly trustworthy---an executive with Nasa).

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sbalax
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Sure. It's going to be a whirlwind trip, though.
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sbalax
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We are back from our B2B cruises which were both excellent. The first was on Celebrity Century, which has now left the Celebrity Fleet, from Singapore to Dubai. (1800 pax and definitely has the feel of a ship not a Vegas Hotel.) The second was on Azamara Quest Dubai to Istanbul. (750 pax and feels like some wealthy person's yacht -- especially in the Suite we upgraded to for only $398.00 at the last minute.)

The destinations were all incredible but the highlights have to be the Taj Mahal and Topkapi Palace.

We rode the Shatabdi Express from New Delhi to Agra. We were in Air Con First -- 2-3 seating. It was comfortable enough and the morning tea and breakfast were good. We had "real" breakfast at the Mughal Sheraton in Agra before heading to the Red Fort and the Taj.

For the airline buffs out there we flew home in Business Class non-stop from IST (Istanbul's Ataturk International) to SFO. We were on a nearly new 777-300ER and the service and catering were superb -- like some of remember from the '60's and '70's.

Frank in sunny and warm SBA

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Gilbert B Norman
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Frank, whose metal was that 300ER you flew on. If UA, which side; Maureen's or yours?

BTW, next Thu, I fly ORD-JFK on Jet Blue, as my final destimation is Brooklyn. United does not have any nonstops on that route. I've already confessed to the above noted lady who has granted me absolution. Now I confess to you.

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sbalax
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Gil--

I think you'll like Jet Blue. Travel without guilt.

I guess I'm still a bit jet lagged -- we DID circumnavigate the globe in 38 days -- and forgot to mention that we were on Turkish Airlines. They just started the non-stop to San Francisco in April. I think that's why we were able to get the J class seats for only 80,000 miles each.

We sent pictures of the service to a friend who used to be in charge of Dining Services at Continental. His response was, "Why, it's what we did 40 years ago!" They had 17 flight attendants including two dedicated "Sky Chefs" who only cooked.

Frank in sunny and warm SBA

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Gilbert B Norman
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Seventeen Attendants, what kind of bureaucracy is Turkish Airlines, Frank?

How many are there on a private sector overseas 777 flight? Ten, maybe. The FAA only requires 1 for each 50 pax, but I guess the additional are for IFS - and from my first hand observations last Summer, I'd dare say four of 'em were for guess which side of the curtain.

"Featherbedding" has become a non-term in both the private railroad, Amtrak included in this instance, and airline industries. It seems like the word has yet to spread to the foreign flagged state owned segment of the industry. On that note, neighbors took a trip to the South Sea Islands on Fiji Airways. She told me their IFS in Economy was about what she experienced on her few occasions flying First. Also said the aircraft that I later learned was an A330, had 2-4-2 configuration, or Same as United Business Class.

Actually, I got an earlier endorsement of Jet Blue, last February when flying to MIA and the United flight left two hours late (first was "we need an aircraft; and when that showed up "we still need one Attendant"; and when a young girl - obviously a reserve - showed up, they just ran out of excuses), some guy in line near me said "Jet Blue; that is better choice than this clown alley; a Baggage Handler that they hire today would be a smarter CEO than Smisek" (more on United's CEO). My response to him was "then why do you fly 'em?"; "a million miles is why".

Well, I guess obsession with miles closes all arguments.

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Geoff Mayo
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Frank, I'm jealous! So much I wished I'd done when I was young, single, and flush with cash - though, to be fair, I have done five continents (of the 7 continent model), a couple of hundred flights, most of which were international or not in my home country, and seen much more than many of my friends.

Now I'm middle-aged, married, with kids, and no money!

--------------------
Geoff M.

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sbalax
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Geoff--

I consider myself very fortunate, indeed, to have these adventures. As I travel I see far too many people who waited too long to do this sort of thing. I'm approaching my mid-70's and intend to keep on keeping on as long as possible.

Gil--

I believe Turkish is a tad more than 50% publicly held.

Frank in sunny but cool SBA

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Gilbert B Norman
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From In Flight Jet Blue 906 ORD-JFK

Gotta say, this airline ain't bad. The WiFi is comp.

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sojourner
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Frank, what a fantastic trip.

Mr Norman: Everyone I now who flies likes Jet Blue.

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sbalax
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Sojourner--

It was indeed a fantastic experience. We are, however, already planning another "Grand Adventure" for next year. We will fly to Hong Kong and then cruise to Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia (Bali), three ports in Australia before leaving the ship for 9 days in Australia when we reach Sydney. (Probably trains to Melbourne and Adelaide.) We'll finish off with another ship from Sydney to New Zealand and French Polynesia before we disembark in HNL and fly home. Two months, total. Anyone want to rent a two bedroom, one bath view apartment in SBA??

Gil--

I assume you made it home safely. Getting to/from JFK has always been a bit of a problem. In October we need to get from the Newark Cruise Port (AKA Cape Liberty) to Manhattan and dread the thought of what it will cost. Any suggestions from you Easterners?

Frank in sunny and mild SBA

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DonNadeau
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Turkish Airlines consistently wins top awards (often +1) in service, food, etc. -- in economy too.

Maybe the others need the focus on caring for their passengers that provides 17 attendants!

The very best cruise ships & hotels have extraordinarily close passenger/staff ratios. You can't rival these on an airplane anywhere near current prices but 17 on an airline that flies mostly internationally doesn't seem outrageous.

Thank you for these updates. Fascinating.

--------------------
@DonNadeau

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Gilbert B Norman
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Well, I'm back, and Jet Blue's Embraer E-190 on the return did not have in-flight WiFi, but it had 2-2 seating throughout the aircraft. There was a girl first next to me who wanted my seat so she could flightsee. I also wanted the same seat to which I was assigned so I could flightsee. There were a few open seats aft and the Attendant let her have one. She was happy and I had an open seat next to me - great for my Times reading (and an open table for my mid flight picker uppers).

Now regarding the return airport transfer, I was happy to be Duke Ellington and "take the A Train". It worked perfectly from my hotel at 4th Ave & 86 in Brooklyn to a transfer from R to A at Jay St, thence to AirTrain at Howard Beach. Time 1.5hr, cost $7.75. Sure beat $70 and 1.25 in a taxicab. I did the taxicab at my Niece's suggestion so we could have had a kid free hour together. Because of the traffic on the Belt, it was just time to walk from Gregory Hotel to her oldest kid's school and pick her up, then walk to their apartment.

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yukon11
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I've never, ever taken a cruise ship. However, friends of mine have convinced me to take a Snake/Columbia River cruise on the "Queen of the West", American Cruise Lines. It will be the summer of 2016.

http://www.americancruiselines.com/cruises/alaska-and-pacific-northwest/columbia-and-snake-rivers-cruise

We board the paddlewheeler in Clarkston, WA and wind up in Portland, OR. I think it will be historically interesting as it tends to follow the path of Lewis and Clark. Has anyone ever taken this cruise?

Richard

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sojourner
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Frank, It all sounds wonderful, and I am so envious. I used to have dreams about visitng the Taj Mahal (and Angkor Wat too, they showed in in some TV ad and it haunted me) but I never will, except vicariously. Are you taking the train in Australia?

Have a wonderful time!

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sbalax
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Sojourner--

We are still working on our plans for the 9 days in Australia between cruises. I'd like to take at least one train -- probably from Sydney to Melbourne. Our friends in Adelaide are trying to convince us to spend more time there than to try to make it Tasmania. Decisions....

Frank in sunny and warm SBA

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sbalax
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Yukon--

I like the sound of the cruise you are doing. We are planning on doing more like that once the ability/desire to do long air travel to get to cruises becomes less attractive. I have heard some very good things about this itinerary.

Frank in sunny and warm SBA

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HopefulRailUser
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Yukon, I have taken this cruise. It was round trip Portland. Loved it, very scenic, very relaxing. You will enjoy it.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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yukon11
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Thanks for the information, Frank and Vicki. I think the cruise will be a lot of fun.

I was a concerned about feeling a bit confined or cooped up...ie either on the boat or on a guided tour at one of the stops. However, the cruise people say that there will be plenty of time to walk around, visit towns and restaurants, once the boat docks.

We embark in Clarkston, WA. I don't know, for sure, how we will get there. I believe there is a flight from Spokane to Lewiston, MT, which is only about 5 min. from Clarkston. I hope there might be a flight from either Seattle or Portland to Lewiston, but not sure.

Richard

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DonNadeau
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Hi Yukon,

Look into the options that American Cruise Lines offers to get you to Clarkson. Let it be responsible unless its price is outrageous.

If you make these arrangements on your own, please arrive the day ahead. Within reason, American may delay departure if a flight it has booked will be arriving late with a lot of its passengers. On the other hand, if you book on your own, you'll probably be out of luck if you don't reach the dock on time.

"Out of luck" means your entire cruise payment will have gone up in smoke, unless you somehow find a way to reach its next port of call on your own.

--------------------
@DonNadeau

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Gilbert B Norman
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Lewiston ID, vice Lewistown MT
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yukon11
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Mr. Norman - Thanks for the correction. Yes, Lewiston, Idaho.

Don-There's a dedicated bus shuttle from Spokane to Clarkston, if you stay at the Spokane hotel designated by American Cruise Lines. However, I don't think we want a 2 hr. bus trip.

There is a Portland to Lewiston flight, with a stop in Boise, Idaho. We make take that one. We will be staying at the Lewiston Red Lion, which will shuttle us to the boat in Clarkston the next morning. Our flights and hotel will be booked through a local travel agent, here in Santa Rosa.

Richard

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DonNadeau
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Sounds good. Thank you. You are well protected.

Know that I bring up these safety tips fairly often here, but believe that all too many travel problems are caused by poor planning--itinerary planning that depends on everything going smoothly. That's not the travel environment we live in.

--------------------
@DonNadeau

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Vincent206
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Lewiston/Clarkston is served by Horizon Air from Boise (1 daily flight) and Seattle (2 daily flights).
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yukon11
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Thanks, Vincent. I think Seattle to Lewiston might be the best bet.

Richard

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palmland
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Richard, just to add to your anticipation, here is a hazy photo I took early one morning from our bedroom on the Portland EB. Looks like your ship.

Having taken a couple small ship adventures, you made a great choice. We liked them because: it's easy to meet interesting passengers; just walk off and on at port, no waiting; you feel like you're on a large yacht rather than a floating hotel. On our ship, because it was so small, the captain took a couple diversions as the passengers had seen wildlife both on shore and in the sea.

 -

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yukon11
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I think it may well be the "Queen of the West":

 -

The Empire Builder needs to do a better job cleaning the windows. I will be on #28 headed east and #27 headed back to Portland this July. Also, I would like to get a photo of the EB from the boat next summer.

Richard

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