Trip Coach: April 4, 2006

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Cruisestar.com travel expert Pat Webb answered your questions on cruising

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Hi, thanks for joining me. I'm ready to answer your questions.
 
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New York City, NY: What is the best cruise for senior single male?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Carnival to the Caribbean.
Patrick D Webb
CEO
GalaxSea Cruises/CruiseStar.com Inc
3088 W Temple Ave
Pomona CA 91766
800-662-5450
www.CruiseStar.com
Email: Pat@CruiseStar.com
Member ASTA, CLIA.
California Certification 1012894-40

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Broken Arrow, OK: We are traveling in Europe in May and early June. We have been waiting for a last minute deal, preferably on the Golden Princess, for May 22. The offers at this time are still a bit pricy. Are there ways of pricing cruises even in late April for May dates? Thank you.

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Currently the Golden Princess is sold out for the May 22 sailing. You can check our live booking engine at our web site for any last minute deals. One that I think is a bargain is the Carnival Liberty out of Rome. Reduced rates on the air are running $649 to $899. Terrific bargain for Europe. 
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Bellmore, NY: Hi! We are a group of 10-12 with a Mediterranean cruise planned for October.We have included several pre cruise days in Istanbul, Turkey. We need to purchase travel insurance. We all paid our initial cruise deposit several months ago so we understand that there would now be a 90-180 day window on pre-existing medical conditions. What exactly does this mean? Does this mean that 90 days prior to purchasing insurance there could not be any new diagnosis of a problemthat could cause cancellation of your trip? If, for example, you have been taking medication to control blood pressure for years....but there has been no major change in the last 90 days...is that still considered "pre-existing"???? Also...who falls into this pre-existing condition? Does it only apply to the actual travelers or does it also carry over to any family members not traveling?

Since we will be very far from home, medical and medical evacuation are very important. Is your medical insurance primary or secondary? How much medical and medical evacuation coverage do you recommend? Which policy do you suggest we purchase? We are ready to purchase and we are comparing Travelex to CSA Insurance. Travelex limits are higher and we are all familiar with the company. However, CSA waives this pre-existing window if the policy is purchased prior to final trip payment. That is a major concern at this time. Hope you can clear these matters up. Kindly, Karen & Martin, Myra & Charles

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: What you are refering to is the "look back window" that the insurance company will look at to see if your condition was stable "prior" to the period you mentioned. My experience has been that Travel Guard is the easiest to work with on this issue. If you want to call our office, one of our staff will work up a quote for you.

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Dana Point, CA: I'm 51 years old, single and prefer to travel alone. There seems to be an extremely small number of single cabins available and, when booking a cruise, I do not want to sign up for a roommate. What is the best way to be informed of cruises that either have no single supplements or have single supplements less than 100% (and preferably 50% or less?)

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: In the mass market Carnival offers the best deal for singles. Book a category 1A and you will get a terrific rate. They only have a few of these staterooms on each ship, so it is best to book early. 

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Des Moines, IA: My husband and I have never been on a cruise because he is prone to motion sickness. He has gotten motion sicknes from snorkeling as well. Flying does not seem to be a problem. He has purchased one of those electronic wrist bands, but we are afraid to try a cruise, because if he can't tolerate it, it would be a miserable trip. Do you think there is any way to be sure that he could safely try cruising?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: I find that even the most "sensitive" do well on the new, large ships with this issue. Try a three day cruise from Florida or California and see how it goes. I don't think you will have a problem if you tolerate flying. 

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Pittsburgh, PA: I will be travelling with a tour on the Tran Siberian Railway thru Asia 9/6-9/29/2006 with a final stop in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg is so close to Helsinki and Stockholm, I would like to book a short (4 or 5 day) Scandinavian cruise to hit the highlights of those cities. Is there anything out there? What are my options, if any? Thanks!

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Bergen Lines might work for you. They offer short segments.

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Gainesville, FL: My wife and I were lucky enough to be invited with a group for a free 4 day Seabourn cruise leaving later this week from and returning to St Thomas, USVI. It stops in St Martin & Virgin Gorda. Can you recommend any must see or do activities for this brief itinerary? We're not looking for anything too adventurous, as relaxation is the focus of this mini-vacation. Thanks.

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Take a taxi to Orient Bay in St. Martin. Amazing!

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Long Beach, CA: My husband, 3 year old son and I are going on a Cruise on Carnival in Nov. this year. I have planned our trips at each place the ship stops. How can I make sure we'll have the most possible fun we can when we're on the ship?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Depends on what your interests and expectations are. My experience is that the 3 year old will enjoy hanging around pool deck on the ship better than the excursions. Save your money and take him to the beach in Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. 

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Oakton, VA: We would like to visit the Galapagos but would like to leave any US East Coast port and cruise all the way to the Galapaos. Does anyone offer that? 2 passengers, mainly Fall and Spring. If you could suggest anything, that would be most welcome. Thank you - Carrie

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: I don't know of any cruise line that offers what you are asking for.

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Ann Arbor, Michigan: Hi Pat. My wife (Patti!) and I are beginning to do the research & planning for a 1st time ever, probably 1 time only, family cruise: 11 people, all 50+, three 80+. We definitely want to cruise from CA RT to HI, this Fall. We want the cruise and island visits to be enjoyable, relaxing + memorable. PLUS Patti & I are footing the bill! From my search, so far, it looks like the the most likely prospect is 15 days aboard Holland America's 'Zaandam'. Any particular DO's or DON'Ts ? or cautions ?? Thanks, John

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Princess and Celebrity also offer a 14/15 night cruise frm the West Coast. Princess tends to sometime have better rates than Holland. My only advice is to book very early. These longer cruises tend to sell out very early. This is particularly a problem for a group since you will have different needs for staterooms. Balcony and Suites sell out first. Give us a call and our staff will work through the options for you. 

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LAX: I want to fly to the east coast & find the cheapest ship to sail to Europe. My final destination is Croatia, then we want to take a ship from Split to Dubrovnik. Then we want to take a ship back to the States from anywhere in Europe, inexpensively. Thank you, Betty

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Sorry...I don't know of any transatlantic cruises that will end in Croatia. If you want to call us, we will try to work out a possible itinerary for you. 

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Port Washington, NY: Pat- We are a group of active seniors and seasoned world travelers who seek delux style with reasonable prices. Currently, we are planning to take a cruise trip to Visit St. Petersberg and Moscow during late August or early Septmeber (to avoid crowded vacationers). What would you recommend in terms of timing, type of ships (local, European or American operators)? And types of itinerary (two weeks or less)?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: I would recommend that you stick with one of the major US based cruise lines like Princess or Holland America. However, these cruises tend to be pricy. The last ships usually visit St. Petersburg mid August.
We do represent European cruise lines as well. BUT...the on board experience can be very different from your expectations. You need to talk to an expert on this before you proceed. 

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Healdsburg, CA: What is the best cruise line (quality, fun, stops & food) for a couple in their fifties (56 & 53...but very young attitudes) for going to Alaska? We would want to depart from SF, Seattle or Vancouver. What is recommended for extra things to do on the cruise (glacier helicopter ride, bear wathcing, etc.) and where do you get the best prices? Regards, Mike & Foxine

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: You might try either the Sun or Dawn Princess from Seattle. Excellent value. Good passenger mix. Stay away from the May and September departures. (Older passenger mix on these departures.)
In my opinion the "must do" excursions would be the Mendenhal Glacier in Juneau and the White Pass Rail Road in Skagway.

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San Jose, CA: Hi Pat. We recently booked a first time ever 7 day RCL Med trip for Oct 2006. Can you please give us some tips on buying and selecting excursions? What are the pros and cons of getting a good deal on purchasing the best value from the cruise line or from independent excursion tours? Also where can I search online for those independent excursion tours for the various ports we will be visiting? Thanks for your kind consideration. -Michael

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: If this is your first time to the Med, I would stick with the cruise line shore excursions. No surprises and you pretty much get what you pay for in this market.

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Crestview, Florida: My husband and I are planning a trip with a couple with two children. We are trying to decide whether to take a cruise (not a Disney cruise) or fly. Would the cruise be better because there would possibly be more things for the kids to do?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: You did not mention how old the kids are, but I think the kids will enjoy the cruise more than a land based vacation. Both Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean offer excellent programs for kids on board. 

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Los Angeles, CA: I am very interested in booking a cruise to celebrate my 35th birthday on Sept. 13. I have never taken a cruise before, so I was wondering what is the difference between the different cruise lines and if it's better to take an interior or exterior cabin. What other things should a first-time cruiser know? I would like to take a 7 day cruise to Mexico with my boyfriend (romantic getaway, perhaps) and am flexible on the dates. Thank you!

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: I would recommend the Carnival Pride from Los Angeles. Carnival attracts a young crowd and the ship is both casual and fun. Call our office and one of our staff will be happy to set this up for you. 

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Washington, DC: I am trying to plan a dream trip to view the July 11, 2010 total solar eclipse on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Peru. I have been told by other elipse chasers that there are already cruises and hotels booked for this time and area. I have scoured the web and not found any that are booking past '08 or maybe '09. In know that this is far in advance, but considering the small size and remoteness of the location, and the magnitude of the event, I'm afraid that the few ways to get there and stay there will be gone before I hear about them. Do you have any leads? Cruising would be a great way to go! Thanks!

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Frequently cruise lines will offer Eclipse Cruises. I don't know of any lines that have published schedules beyond mid 2007.

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New York City, NY: What is the best cruise for a single?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Carnival to the Caribbean or Mexico. 

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St. Louis, MO: What do cruise lines consider when giving upgrades? Price paid? Past cruiser? or is it random?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: I am assuming you are asking about "free upgrades" vs the type you pay for? Usually the criteria for the freebe upgrades are 1) what you paid 2) past passenger status 3) the agent that you booked through. Some agents that do a lot of business with select lines can "request" upgrades.

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Charlotte, NC: I will be going on Costa cruise lines next month. I've been on 'americanized' lines like Royal Caribbean before. Are there any differences I should expect in service and cost on board, etc.? -Chari

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: If you are taking Costa to the Caribbean the only difference you will find is that you will have more Europeans on board and usually more smokers. 

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Greensboro, GA: We will be in Greece from Aug 30 to Sept 13. We would like to do a cruise of the Greek Isles. The only line we can find that does this is Louis but the reviews are horrible. Are there any other suggestions? Is there anything that leaves from another port besides Greece that permits embarking at alternate ports?

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Unfortunately Louis is the only operator that can operate from Athens. (Greek shipping laws.) The only other option is to fly to Venice and originate your cruise to the Greek Isles from there.

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Defiance, OH: When is the best time of the year to travel to Alaska? Also, what is the best way to see Alaska, cruise or land? We have never been there before and everyone says it's beautiful. Thank You, Ann

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: The answer to your question depends on what you feel "best" is. By "best"...are you looking for the best price? If so, try a cruise in early to mid May or late September. If "best" for you is weather, try late June. Most of the southern part of Alaska is only accessable by sea. There are no roads from the lower 48 to this part of the world. This makes an Inside Passage cruise really the only way to see this part of Alaska.

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Cleveland OH: Are there any cruises that stop in Cuba? I have dual citizenship and could use my other passport to visit Cuba but I don't want to go directly there. A port call at Havana would suit me fine.

Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: There are a few Europe based operators that have offered cruise to Cuba in the past. I understand that the Cuban government put a stop to these recently.

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Pat Webb, Cruisestar.com: Thank you for all of your excellent questions. Have a great vacation!

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