Celebrity Eclipse - September 6, 2020

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  • Floridaholic
    Floridaholic December 11, 2019 11:26 pm
    On 12/7/2019 at 8:04 AM, martincath said:

    Answers inside your quote:

     

     

     

     

    Yes it was PorterGenie I meant. Thanks so much again. Your advice has been invaluable and have now got a shortlist of Toronto hotels. Next we will work on sightseeing.

    regards

    Ann

  • jpsykes
    jpsykes December 10, 2019 10:45 pm

    If you have an American Express card they are running an offer you can add to your card. If you spend $500 with Celebrity before Dec 31 then you give you a $100 credit to your account.  We will just go ahead and call and have $500 applied to our balance.

     

    We did not see the offer when logging on as we normally do but went to 

     

    https://global.americanexpress.com/login/en-US?noRedirect=true&DestPage=%2Foffers%2Fgroup%2FlBxR4dSLq58KjdoLHtQXAg%3D%3D%26v2

     

    then logged in. clicked on 'home' and a list of offers came up. We applied the Princess offer and have already used it and gotten the $100 credit applied by AMX. They also have offers on Regent and Oceania. 

     

    Offer only good one time per AMX card so I guess if you have 2 different cards then you use on each.

     

  • jpsykes
    jpsykes December 7, 2019 1:08 pm

    Martincath thank you so much for this information!!!!!

  • martincath
    martincath December 7, 2019 8:04 am

    Answers inside your quote:

    6 hours ago, Floridaholic said:

    Martincath thank you so much for this invaluable information.

    No worries.

     

    I am an ex travel agent but my company didn't do Canada and I don't know anyone who had been to Toronto. Funnily enough I had looked at a few hotels and had priced up the Bond Place hotel.

    It's been a staple in the 'relative bargain in a convenient place' category for years, including on some package holidays from the UK, so not surprised you found it already.

     

    Regarding food, both of us are well travelled so have tried most food and also realise nothing tastes like food in England but that's the fun in travelling but will take your comments on board.

    I wouldn't have mentioned anything if you weren't a Brit - T.O. in general has a great food scene, but there are enough folks of British descent that a lot of restos try to replicate the UK curryhouse experience and just don't do well at it. Actually-authentic Indian stuff, like Dosas and other South Indian food, sure - but just slopping some butter chicken in a metal bowl and calling it Balti, no thanks!!! Toronto has a strong claim to being the most multi-cultural city on the planet - you can get literally every spice and seasoning from every cuisine if you go to the right place (except some illegal stuff, like real haggis!) Example - my first day at work I was chatting with new colleagues, one of whom was Egyptian, and I mentioned enjoying their hibiscus tea but not being able to find the real stuff - boom, next day there was a sack on my desk as it turned out her uncle was the biggest importer of the stuff to Canada! I was constantly finding those sorts of connections from hairdressers, realtors, you name it - most immigrants are generally proud of being (insert country here)-Canadian and welcome others to come celebrate their holidays with them rather than trying to blend into one big 'melting pot' (of course politics gets in the way at times, and Canada certainly has it's share of racism, homophobia etc. but overall I really enjoyed how much every group let other folks join in their fun).

     

    I know that Toronto is not a known cruise port as such but thought fellow cruisers might have been so it was fortuitous that you read my post. I will send your info on to my friend and we can discuss our options. We have done waking tours and tours with locals in the last so are happy to do these and of course we wish to do Niagara Falls so that's ok next mission to plan that.

    Lots of day trip options - but if you don't mind driving on the wrong side of the road, a car rental is by far the best way (unless you also plan to hit the wineries around the Niagara area hard of course!) as well as the cheapest. We always preferred winter visits - no tourists and once it drops below freezing the whole area around the falls is like a giant ice sculpture park as water droplets freeze over the trees etc. - but just staying after dark, when the day tour buses have all left, the atmosphere changes even in summer. The lights are also pretty cool, especially when they're doing a show.

     

    In the case of Vancouver, how easy would it be to visit Whistler for the day?

    It's certainly easy, again you can book day trips but a car rental offers more flexibility (and it is a truly beautiful drive, and muhc less dangerous since the Olympics - they widened the road, altered the scarier corners, and better-secured the cliff faces so fewer rockfalls now too, and snow tires are not mandated in September). Ballpark 2 hours drive each way if you don't stop, but realistically allow 6 total return to account for stops at waterfalls, scenic viewpoints etc. Whistler itself has virtually nothing to do except outdoors stuff though - now that the big new art gallery opened they have two(!) historic/cultural things (the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is the other, and it's where I always recommend people have lunch as you can get First Nations food, usually including at least one game dish, for a really reasonable price). The peak-to-peak gondola is impressive if you can handle heights, but it's a town designed from the ground up to get you access to skiing, mountain biking, and hiking then feed you hefty portions of food to replenish those lost calories!

     

    We have 3 full days, plus we land about 10am to give us virtually another day and of course pre Cruise time and then a few hours after the Cruise so long as we can store luggage. I think I read you can leave your luggage at the Cruise Terminal and they will take it to the airport for you but need to double check that also.

    Unfortunately the luggage transfer service ended - PorterGenie operates here, so they can pick up your bags and take them anywhere but you need to book specific times to meet their van and it's a lot pricier than just stashing bags at the Pan Pacific bell desk above the pier, so I'd keep it simple and just do that on your last day.

     

    ~4 days in total is certainly enough to do a lot of Vancouver stuff, but whether taking one of those days for Whistler is the best use of your time depends very much on you and the kind of things you enjoy most. Some folks spend a day heading to Victoria, others Whistler; our first trip here we had a whole week, so did 5 full days in Vancouver and 1 each Whistler & Victoria and we ended up regretting the Victoria day - it was just too long despite us flying both ways, and the cheaper ferry & bus option makes it almost a 14 hour day from pickup to dropoff if you take a tour bus rather than driving yourself.

     

    Heading up the Sea to Sky was worth it to us though - we hadn't realised how much we missed mountains since moving to Toronto! Whistler itself was distinctly meh, at that point even the SLCC didn't exist so there was literally nothing remotely interesting in the village, but the scenery was outstanding especially on the first half of the trip - Shannon Falls and Britannia Mining Museum were the highlights for us. Assuming the Sea to Sky Gondola reopens as planned next year that's another popular thing on the road you could do, so it's easy to fill a whole day even if you don't actually spend time up in the mountains at Whistler.

     

    Maybe you'd prefer to spend a day out on the water though (whalewatching trips run 3 to 7 hours depending on company used, a water taxi to Bowen Island shows a very different community than the city despite being close enough that folks commute daily for work, a fishing trip on the ocean or Fraser river, and there's a multiplicity of watercraft rentals available from standup paddleboards and kayaks to speedboats and even a floating BBQ), or out on UBCs campus taking in the several outstanding gardens and museums, or doing a couple of foodie (or boozy!) tours in and around the city by foot/bike/bus.

     

    Frankly your biggest problem will be prioritizing among the ludicrous number of options, even if you spend your entire time just within the bounds of what you can walk or take transit to from the Y 😉

     

     

     

     

  • Floridaholic
    Floridaholic December 7, 2019 12:21 am
    2 hours ago, martincath said:

    Firstly, sorry, not actually joining you on the ship - this roll call popped on a Search and since it seems like you are lacking any locals to give insight, just chiming in with some info for you (I lived in Toronto for almost 9 years after leaving the UK and currently live in Vancouver) as you'll find virtually no Toronto info on CC due to the lack of cruising potential (a very, very small number of Great Lakes cruises visit, but pretty much anything west of Montreal gets virtually zero coverage here until you get all the way over to the West Coast).

     

    Now that there's a train to the airport, you can safely remain downtown in Toronto with no risk of ridiculous delays in a cab heading for your flight - and the price is good too. Airport hotels are frankly horrible - my wife still goes back to T.O. on business multiple times a year, and most of the hotels out around YYZ have b*gger-all going on near them and mediocre in-house restos even if they're decent 4* hotels. If you live in downtown Manchester you won't find the area around YYZ scary, but by Canadian standards it's pretty bad - one of the worst parts of the GTA for gangs, though they're usually way too busy selling drugs and fighting each other to worry about mugging a tourist 😉

     

    Downtown is definitely where you want to be even if it's a VERY early flight to YVR - a Domestic flight means you only have to show up an hour beforehand, not three, due to no Immigration requirements. If the flight is so early that the UP Express train isn't running then there won't be any traffic so a cab should be fast and not-too-pricey; however we always booked a towncar through Aerofleet as they operate fixed-price so you know exactly what you're spending and that the car will be nice - plus they're usually cheaper than metered cabs in Toronto traffic! Plug your hotel into their Rates page and you'll know precisely the fee, probably <$60 from most downtown hotels though.

     

    The best advice I can give about sightseeing in Toronto is to go sign up for a Greeter experience ASAP - this is a volunteer program that hooks your party up with a local to show you around, explain how transit works etc. Some guides specialize in some insanely niche topics - one lady I trained with only shows people around historic fire stations! - but most are focused on the neighbourhoods they live and/or work in. Totally free and the best way to get off the beaten path a little - but there's also plenty of guided bus tours, and if you're staying downtown you can probably find more than enough things to do within walking distance of your hotel to fill a couple of days. TripAdvisor is the best 'first cut' resource for what to do, read about the most popular attractions and see which ones sound like your sort of thing.

     

    Downtown you can find some relative bargain hotels just off the main streets - Bond Place and the Victoria spring to mind right in the core, and there are several around Jarvis & Carlton (Holiday Inn, Ramada Plaza) and also more in Chinatown around Dundas and Spadina (though these are a bit more run-down, older properties in the lowest brackets of the chains like Super 8). If you don't mind an actual hostel, there are some really nice ones in Kensington Market e.g. The Planet (which does have double & quad private rooms, as well as dorm beds). Some further-out neighbourhoods also have their perks, so especially if you were considering an AirBnB or similar you could look at Greektown (convenient by subway to downtown core, as well as having stellar Greek food - this is the third largest Greek city in the world after Melbourne and Athens!) and North York (again handy by subway, and until the 80s this was a separate city so also has a few nice spots of its own). Way out along Queen West there's another little pocket of cheap hotels - nearby hospital - but the Streetcar is much slower than the subway for getting into the core, though there are a lot of good dining options even far along Queen.

     

    If you have a few hotel/B&B locations in mind, I'm happy to chime in with a description of the vibe of the 'hood around each - just Quote me or use '@ martincath' (without a space) so that CC tells me there's a post to respond to. I haven't done much dining in T.O. in recent years, but I know the long-running staple restos and keep in touch with some foodie friends - as Brits I would suggest that you avoid curry (in Little India you will find good, authentic, actually-Indian regional cuisine but it's absolutely nothing like British curry so if that's what you expect you'll be consistently disappointed) but the average standard of West Indian food is one of Toronto's real strengths, there's lots of it around downtown, and some of the best places are really cheap. There's also some top-notch Malaysian, solid Chinese - though I'd suggest saving the latter for when you're in Vancouver as it's even better here - and plenty of gastropubs, seasonal menu fancy restos, steakhouses etc.

     

    I see that you've already booked the YWCA Hotel in Vancouver - good job, best deal in the city! For info about Vancouver there's a ton of info on the West Coast Departures, Canada/Pacific, Cali Coastal/PNW, and Alaska boards already so I won't take up any more of your reading time with assumptions - but if you have a niche question or Search isn't behaving feel free to ask me about Vancouver too.

    Martincath thank you so much for this invaluable information.

    I am an ex travel agent but my company didn't do Canada and I don't know anyone who had been to Toronto. Funnily enough I had looked at a few hotels and had priced up the Bond Place hotel. Regarding food, both of us are well travelled so have tried most food and also realise nothing tastes like food in England but that's the fun in travelling but will take your comments on board. 

    I know that Toronto is not a known cruise port as such but thought fellow cruisers might have been so it was fortuitous that you read my post. I will send your info on to my friend and we can discuss our options. We have done waking tours and tours with locals in the last so are happy to do these and of course we wish to do Niagara Falls so that's ok next mission to plan that.

    in the case of Vancouver, how easy would it be to visit Whistled for the day? We have 3 full days, plus we land about 10am to give us virtually another day and of course pre Cruise time and then a few hours after the Cruise so long as we can store luggage. I think I read you can leave your luggage at the Cruise Terminal and they will take it to the airport for you but need to double check that also.

    Thanks again and all the best

    regards

    Ann

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