|View of the bridge where navigation of the ship is conducted by the captain and his crew.|
|Stone sculpture/artwork in hall near Cascades dining room.|
However long one my choose to travel, with our without homes, cars and belongings in their home country, many find traveling to be a life changing and enriching experience.
|Tender boats which are actually the ship's lifeboats were taking passengers to Benoa, Bali for sightseeing. After spending four months in Bali, we saw no point in getting off the ship today.|
"One more question for you. Which are your favorite booking sites? Vacations to Go? For cruises...VRBO for bookings (have you had any bad experiences with bookings?) Favorite Airlines (sometimes a necessary evil)? Any favorite ways to save money...ie Airline Miles plans etc."
For ease in reading our responses to each of Elaine's questions, we'll address each one separately as indicated below:
What are our favorite booking sites?
Long ago in 2012 when we built our site, we began using our favorite booking websites, some of which are listed as advertisers on our homepage. We selected these companies to fulfill our travel needs after considerable research as to: quality of service, pricing, response time, reliability of website, length of experience and user reviews.
Each company/website provides it's own unique service which continues to serve us well with few, if any, issues over these past almost five years since the onset of our bookings which we began long before we actually left the US. Please see our list below with details.
|Some passengers had booked outdoor activities on this rainy day in Bali.|
Hotels: Almost in every case, we use this link on our site to Hotels.com. With a rewards program that includes "one free night after spending 10 nights" this has worked well for us. Their pricing is highly competitive and we've been very happy with results. For our upcoming hotel stay in Minnesota for six weeks, they gave us an excellent corporate rate discount (based on long stay).
Vacation/Holiday Home Rentals: Since our first vacation rental booking in 2012, we've been primarily using this link on our site to HomeAway.com. On a few occasions we've used other sites such as VRBO.com but have found the most listing on HomeAway.
Their easy to use site seems to have better priced listings than many other such sites. Also, on HomeAway its possible to pay a deposit to hold the property whereas on AirBnB, which often includes shared rentals, (we're not interested in sharing a house), they require payment in full at time of booking for the entire rental period.
|Benoa, Bail as seen from the ship.|
How do save money using these sites? Simple, negotiate property owners/manager, if possible. If you have special circumstances such as only two people staying in large property or are requesting a long term stay (anything over two weeks), don't hesitate to ask for a discount. Best way to accomplish this? Suggest an alternate price for the entire period. Don't ask the seller to suggest a price unless you're willing to wonder if you could have booked it for even less.
Bad experience? Yes! Our first vacation home rental outside the US was a beach house in Belize. It didn't have regularly running water, no insect screens and was unlivable for us. We left in a week losing our first month's rent. The experience was awful considering it was our first international rental but we learned a lot. Luckily, we found another property (more expensive) but ultimately fabulous and enjoyed the remaining period of our stay. See this link to begin this story which continues over a period of several posts.
|Local tender awaiting passenger's boarding for tours.|
Do we use one particular airline? No, its not possible. We check this site for an airline's safety rating, and then choose those with the best ratings based on best times and prices suitable for our needs. Yes, we do sign up to become rewards members but based on our travels to date, we've yet to accumulate enough worthwhile points since we keep changing airlines.
|Close up of local tender boats taking passengers to the shore when the port of Benoa is too small to accommodate the ship.|
Saving money in general? We're always searching for ways to reduce our costs. Whether its the cost of a rental car, a trip to a farmers market or a hotel stay we never hesitate to kindly ask for an upgrade and/or a better price when the situation calls for it. Only you can use your best judgment. We choose diplomacy and kindness when asking and a high degree of gratefulness whether they've been able to comply or not. Coupons, discount codes, special promos are often available at the above websites and other which are readily found on a simple google search.
|The contraptions are "davits" described as: "Any of various crane-like devices used on a ship for supporting, raising and lowering boats and anchors on a ship."|
This morning, aboard the ship at 6 am, a Remembrance Day Sunrise Service (same a Veterans Day in the US) was held poolside. A few minutes ago at 11:00 am today on November 11, 2016, the entire ship observed a few moments of silence by ringing of the ship's bell at the beginning and end. Every person, including all staff and ourselves, stood and bowed our heads in respect for the fallen soldiers of World War I and other wars.
Please check back tomorrow on how we've saved on both costs and time in renting cars over these past four years.
Photo from one year ago today, November 11, 2015:
|The special clothing in this shop's window is often purchased for Diwali celebrations which was celebrating one year ago on this date. For more details, please click here.|