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Re: Nicknames For Devalued Mileage Programs
Lol. Like clockwork.
Don't LOL my post! I can't feed my kids with LOL's or +1's. Press the 'Like' button!

April 06, 2019, 11:33:03 PM
Re: The funny/strange/interesting video thread...

April 10, 2019, 02:38:45 PM
Re: Fin Del Mundo - the unofficial DDF Exclusive TR Dec 10 - Day 1 - Departure from Ushuaia
We walked up the gangway to Deck 5 and entered the ship. We settled in the lounge while groups of 5-10 were called to the reception to check-in. Coffee & tea were setup on one side and on the other side there was a table with a “Kosher” plaque (but was empty ;-0.)

After a few minutes we were called & headed to the reception desk to do the check-in formalities. They scanned our passports (and then kept it for the duration of the cruise [in case of abandoning ship a crew member has the responsibility to grab the box with everyone’s passport]), took our pictures and gave us a cruise card (on the big ships the card serves as a room key, charge card & embarkation/disembarkation card, but as this was a small ship it was only used to go on & off the ship. For any charges such as the bar you just gave your room number). When I got the cards I asked “is this my room key?” and was then told the “open door policy” (which I mentioned above) but was offered physical keys which I took but never actually used them. No credit card was requested or a hold charged. We then went to our cabin to unpack (our luggage was already there).

About 1550, (from here forward I will write in 24hr time format as the ship was like that), the captain made an announcement on the PA, that in 10 minutes he will sound the "general alarm". It iis 7 short rings followed by 1 long one. And at that time everyone needs to grab their life-vests from the cabins and head to their “muster stations”. Everyone’s muster station is listed on the cruise card & on the room door map. The "muster drill" which is required under international maritime law. Since it was my first time on a cruise, this did give me a small shiver, more than watching the safety spiel about seat belts on an airplane. 10 minutes later the alarm sounded and we put on our life-vests, made some scary looking selfies and headed to our muster station. We settled comfortably, which was the forward library on deck 7 (2 flights up) and settled down on the couches there.

Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

After a few minutes the cruise director stood up in middle of the room and started his safety drusha and explained the safety protocol, the muster plan and alarms etc. He told us when we take a shower the door has to be closed as the sensors are very sensitive and the vapor from the shower can activate the silent alarm and the fire crew will come for a visit ”ladies please don’t do it too often…”. Then we put on the life-vests ”I promise you by the excursions we have more comfortable & glamorous vests”. We then headed out in single file - hand on the person in front - to the lifeboats ”hopefully the only time you will get to see these boats”.

The photographer was there to take pictures and then we were all dismissed, returned the vests to our cabin and headed to the bar for the welcome briefing.

Around 1630 everyone gathered in the bar lounge and the stewards were serving Champagne. For a few minutes all we can do was envy them, but it didn’t take long for the Kosher Wine to appear. Corks popped and the “L’chaim” kicked off.

At 1700 the lines were let go and the ship was on its way.

Gangway retrieved

Lines removed - Image Credit @moish

At this time the welcome briefing started by the “Hotel Manager” Romana Calvetti welcoming everyone.

She introduced the Captain who came down from the Bridge. He welcomed everyone with a glass of champagne in his hands saying “it’s not my glass, I’m on duty now so I just borrowed it from someone…no worries”, after he finished he gave back the microphone and returned the champagne from whoever he took it from and he went back to the Bridge.

Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

Next up was the “Cruise Director” Boris Wise who introduced himself & the rest of the “staff”.

Image Credit Jason Ransom/One Ocean Expeditions

His briefing was on safety, rules & guidelines for the cruise in general, and then the “daily briefing” (which followed everyday “tomorrow’s news - today”) which is about program planned for the next 24 hours. Given the antarctic environment & conditions, they have many plans, but rarely execute “Plan A or B”, but rather “Plan E or F”. He gave us a heads up about the drake “it’s coming” & now is the time to “put on the patch, take the pill, eat the brownie ;-)”.

We were shown a weather map forecasting the weather for the following day and the tomorrow’s schedule, and with that over we headed to dinner.

Ship's position around dinner time

Ship's position around dinner time

Dinner was served everyday both in the Bistro (Deck 6) buffet style, & in the dining room (Deck 4) restaurant style. We had our meals in the dining room with the starboard side tables reserved for us. For dinner this night was only a Main Course & Desert. Throughout the cruise the Kosher Group had complementary wine & soft drinks (vs the non-Kosher people had to pay for it).

After Dinner we headed down to the Presentation Room on Deck 2 where @Something Fishy & @Dan welcomed everyone onboard, briefed us on what our own program will be.

We had had a “meet & greet” where everyone introduced themselves to the other travelers.

We then davened Mincha &  Mariv, followed by the never ending debate when we should daven Sharcris (as one said “2 jews 4 opinions”).

note the “mechitza” on the right

Then I lounged around till I ended up on Deck 8 (which is the forward observation deck) and just took in the beautiful views of the ship exiting the Beagle Channel. 

Ship’s position (UTC 0300 11DEC19): 55į03'01.4"S, 65į35'34.9"W
Distance sailed (10DEC): 180 Miles
Times @Something Fishy bumped his head: at least 4 times

Timelapse from Day 1

April 19, 2019, 12:07:24 PM
Re: All flights into and out of HKG today cancelled due to protests


August 12, 2019, 11:15:23 AM
Stopover in Tokyo, Japan
I was going to china on a business trip and decided that it might be beneficial to extend my trip a few days. Unfortunately no flights were opening. Finally after weeks of checking a flight opened up with a stop in Narita, Japan. I hesitated at first but after realizing this was the only way I would be able to extend my trip I took the flight and adjusted my ticket. I arrived in NRT at around 8pm and I would suggest skipping the trains. Transferring and having to buy a new ticket at every transfer was annoying. Difficult and confusing. And if you do delay in buying your ticket the next train doesnít follow right after it could be 5 mins or 30 mins after!!!

Japan at first glance is a stale and boring city, but when you spend more time here you come to appreciate their cleanliness, culture, technological advances and simple way of life.

They are polite and friendly and will walk out of their way showing you directions.

I would recommend a map and paper. Google maps and a huge power bank.
Lay out before you go where you want to go.

I ended up transferring twice or three times and got tired and upset the first night I landed. I got out of the station and decided Iím ubering or walking the rest. Looking down at my phone I hear someone raise their voice and say HEY!!! In my direction. I look up and itís a friendly face I never met before. His name was David Leibowitz. And he was the high light of my night. Just another yud happy to see another. We chatted for a little and he briefed me on how heís in the Japanese Tuna Business!! How cool! Great video about his Japanese tuna I watched over dinner.
He tells me the sushi I ordered from the Chabad was surely his Tuna. And the Tuna was superb. I only wish I had bigger slabs of tuna like sashimi. He goes on to tell me thereís a lovely park on the corner, Happo-en. I proceed to go to the park but to my dismay it was closed. A girl comes over to explain to me I have to leave and come back tomorrow. I sadly explain to her how I came from America and cane all the way to Japan to see Happo-en Park and shortly after the gates open for my own private viewing of the park. Letís see any park in the whole USA open after they close!!!

I uber to the hotel Sheraton Miyako maybe under 2 mins!! I shouldíve walked!!
I check in and at first glance the hotel seems dark and outdated. I arrive at my room and was pleasantly surprised with my suite. It had a lovely Japanese feel without over doing it.

Sliding doors. Straight lines and circles and no angled lines. Lava tea set. Japanese toilet. Japanese soaking tub with bath tea salt. Mikimoto products and a Lovely seating area by the window.
I settled in and my food was waiting for me.
The food from Chabad was delicious. I only wish they had Kobe beef. And Japanese food not Israeli food. 

The next morning I prayed had a espresso and tea in my room and headed on the shuttle and then a train to Ginza but not before asking for a complimentary umbrella from hotel (with permission not to return it). I made my way to the Peninsula Hotel. Something about hotels. They ground me and set my barrings. I went to go see the 2 restaurants take some photos and take in the views of the imperial palace and surrounding most. Did some shopping and ended up buying some stuff from Uniqlo. Big disappointment it was made in china. Walked to the kimbuzo theatre which was a waste if your not going inside.

Headed back to Ginza station and made my way to Asakusa station, Nakamise Dori.  This place was a winner. Touristy yes. But thatís what weíre looking for!

Tea, chopsticks, spices, knifes, masks and kimono robe shops. They even have a umbrella with a samurai holder. Bought some stuff and Japanese Whisky and headed to Narita airport terminal 2.

Luckily I stocked up on Japanese whisky at a big department store a block away from Asakusa station. To my eyes disbelief there was 3 Yarden Kosher wines!!! 3!! The airport is on the sober side with a Limited selection of under 5 Japanese whiskies for under $100
And 5 above 2k. I headed to JAL lounge and booked my shower. To note: Massage service has been canceled And massage chairs were booked up in the main lounge. But the old massage rooms have chairs you can book they the shower lady and weíre empty! I think people donít know about them.

Whisky in the lounge had a few only memorable ones were bowmore 18 and balvenie 17 and no Japanese whisky!! Really! Shame on you JAL!

The shower was great with overhead and 6 directional sprays, Japanese Toilet and lovely shampoo and body wash.  Well done JAL.

Things I didnít get to see that I really wanted to but do to Day/Month may not work out.
1.   Sumo Wrestling (or morning practice matches)
2.   Fish Market
3.   Cherry Blossoms
4.   Kobe Beef
5.   Seeing Mt. Fuji
6.   Tea Ceremony
7.   Knife Lesson

Tokyo & other Japanese set movies
Tokyo Drift
Walk Donít Run
The last samurai
Karate kid 2
Kill Bill
You Only Live Twice
Lost in Translation
Black Rain
The Last Samurai

More Images

January 29, 2020, 03:52:23 PM