Amazon Prime Day and more

by July

Are you looking for deals on Amazon Prime Day?

Though Prime Day is technically Tuesday, July 11, this year, it officially begins at 9 p.m. ET on Monday, July 10.

Let’s share Prime Day deals in the comments to this post today and tomorrow.  Also share good buys from other retailers and post your consumer questions.

ALSO:  Send in post topics because otherwise we’ll be seeing lots of open threads.

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112 thoughts on “Amazon Prime Day and more

  1. I just opened a snail mail offer for 2 for 1 Viking Cruises, and airfare included! Okay, I’ve got to look at the fine print but I’m eyeing St. Petersburg to Moscow cruise. Maybe our resident Viking expert can sound in today.

    These packages are for 2018 and I’ve never planned a trip that far in advance. But after this year’s hassles in trip planning I should do it. Especially because now I have the Chase Sapphire card that offers trip cancellation insurance included as a benefit. But I have to read the fine print on that, too. I discovered one such policy that only kicked in after 50% of the cancelled trip costs were incurred. So if you were delayed a day or two you would receive no benefit.

  2. Usually I ignore it, but this year my mom has decided that she is getting DH a “wine thief” for his birthday — basically, a needle that allows you to take a sample from a bottle through the cork (i.e., without removing the cork), and then the hole closes back up so you can keep storing the wine if it’s not ready to drink yet. They are sort of ridiculously expensive for an unnecessary gadget, but DH is also freaking impossible to buy for (because he buys himself just about everything he wants before anyone else has a chance to), so maybe if we can get her a cheap deal it would be worth a flyer.

    Meanwhile, I took kids to beach with my mom this weekend, and we came back yesterday to discover that DH had used his free time to download an app that allows him to track his wine — and then spent hours setting it up with all of the wine identified by location (so I can find it) and type (e.g., he labeled some “cooking” so I would know which ones to grab when I need one to cook with). So, you know, maybe she’s not too far off on that gift after all. :-)

  3. I am not looking for anything to buy from Amazon or anyone else today, or hardly ever. Because I’m not a ‘shopping as sport’ person. I realize certain things need to be bought as when preparing to send a kid off for his freshman year in college or when I notice the collars of my work shirts are showing their age. But browsing just because there’s a sale at a store/site I buy from frequently enough, no thanks.

  4. Fred, maybe I’m showing myself to be very much a consumerist (is there such a term?) but I always have a running list of things to buy. Usually not urgently needed now but for example on my list right now are silicone cooking utensils, water-proof cell phone case, and a Kindle case. In some or even many cases I end up never buying some of this stuff, because only some of it is stuff I really need or want.

  5. I usually ignore as well. But, a post came through my FB feed with some things that were coming up as deals. One is the FIRE tablet for $33. I am going to look into that one today. My phone plan currently has an ipad, which I use, but not the same way I initially thought I would. I feel like the cost is greater than the convenience mainly because of the device cost. (When I got it, it was a weird promotion that actually lowered my bill.) I do use some cellular data, so I am trying to figure out how that all works together.

    A friend really wants an echo or dot. I think some of you have one/both – any recommedations?

  6. I’m doing the hard work of skimming the deals so you don’t have to.

    Totebag friendly deal #1: Little House boxed set. Every home needs one of those!

    (Spoiler: I scanned the home deals and there doesn’t appear to be anything you can’t find in the crappy deep clearance section of bed bath and beyond.)

  7. Hit send too soon. The same friend told me that if you have things on your wish list or recently searched for, Amazon will push those things to the top when you log on. True?

  8. July,
    keeping a list of things to keep an eye out for as replacements, or in LfB’s mom’s case, a b’day gift, is different. Maybe because I’m still on island time (but probably not…) I’m not planning to browse for anything. The only thing(s) I know I need to buy/order are some new dress shirts for DS1 since he said he needs some new ones and his b’day is next week.

  9. I fill my amazon cart all week long and then hit order on Friday or Saturday. It has completely replaced 85% of all errands I run. Our local grocery store now delivers as well, and I’ve done that 3 times. Soooo worth the service charge.

  10. It’s one family members birthday tomorrow so they think it’s just awesome that it was also chosen to be Prime Day. Some years their birthday was celebrated by using up leftover July 4th fireworks – so what if they were born a week too late.

  11. I’m not planning on buying anything on Amazon now, but I am doing general shopping for DS1’s apartment for college. Yesterday, I got bath mats, shower curtain, and toaster oven. It’s fun to shop for basics again!

    I thought this was a deal at BBB: Black and Decker basic toaster oven marked town to $20. With $5 off coupon, $15 + tax.

  12. Nice, Houston! Did DS1 have a choice of dorm or apartment?

    Does BBB still accept their expired 20% off coupons? I used to save them up when I shopped there more.

    I have both an Echo regular and a dot. I like them both, but I don’t use them for much beyond music and radio stations. I bought the dot to link up with my house sound system and my mini speaker.

  13. I have the little dot and it’s great. I mostly just use it to listen to music so i can have dance parties in my room. the happiness i felt when Taylor Swift put her music online was amazing.

    and i just realized i need 2 things. a blender and a heating pad. so if you see those please flag

  14. I hate BBB because of their stupid coupons but had to go there for a friend and can attest that the store will accept coupons from 2012 that my friend had stashed in her car.

  15. Topic:

    What are your investments: index funds, bonds, individual stocks, timber land, oil and gas leases, gold, diamonds, farm land, etc?

    What percentage of your net worth do they represent?

  16. BBB newer coupons say 20/10, so only worth 10 percent when they expire. I just have a box they go in. When I know I am heading there to shop, I take the box (index card size). If the box is getting really full, I offer coupons to others in line. Last time I maxed out my coupons, I could use 5 per transaction. I went through and DP went through – 10 coupons used.

  17. Please excuse the early posting of an off topic item, but I did not think that this would derail the updates on Amazon prime day.

    We are back, and here is the report in three parts.

    Norway is a lovely trip, especially for frequent travelers who are looking for a new and somewhat self-contained destination. It can of course be combined with another country or two, but would not be my choice for a first time or infrequent international traveler other than one on a “roots” mission. (Not enough variety in landscape or cultural activity). Travel can be by boat focusing on the coasts, by train all the way up with side trips, or as the Europeans do, by what they refer to as a caravan (ranges from what in the US is a pop up camper to a smallish RV – Mooshi can describe more exactly).

    Norway is one of the richest countries in the world today, because of its small population and oil development money. It has a major sovereign wealth fund, which invests all over the world. Its fund has prefunded and then some health and pension obligations for every Norwegian alive today, including babies. Island archipelagos such as Lofoten have doctors and hospitals and heli airlifts to the nearest full service hospital. There is usually a nurse in every village (and the term “city” starts at pop 5 000, but some tourist or remote spots are so designated at lower year round pop.) The prices are outrageous, even higher than in the UK.

    The big cities have an increasingly diverse population, and Oslo (which welcomed Mideast workers to develop the oil fields in the 70s and beyond, but did not expect them to settle and become Norwegians) is 8 percent Muslim. The other significant immigrant group is from Poland. There has been no particular focus on admitting refugees, as was done in Sweden. Still, the population is mostly Lutheran and from old stock. The Royal Family is all Norwegian, with commoner brides and husbands for the past 50 years, and much beloved. All Norwegians, including the octogenarian Queen, are avid hikers and skiiers and cyclists practically from birth. This applies to both to the skinny ones who look like they are made of beef jerky and the fat ones who look like they couldn’t walk a mile.

    The country is very far north. Take a look at a map – it is basically open to the North Atlantic, and gets full benefit of the Gulf Stream that keeps the ports open year round for fishing. Bergen is the latitude of Anchorage and the Sheltland islands just north of the Scottish mainland. So its climate is not as harsh as one might expect.

    One unexpected (to me) item of interest was the brutality of the Nazi assault on nominally neutral Norway. I don’t know whether it was a legacy of the Hanseatic league, where the Germans looked at Norway as a de facto colonial outpost for exploitation of natural resources, or merely Hitler’s certainty that the invasion from Britain would come via Norway. The King refused to capitulate, the resistance movement was legendary, and nobody likes the Germans to this day.

    There was a lot of Viking culture and emphasis throughout the trip. I went to a couple of exhibits and watched lectures, but did not immerse myself in all that. Personal preference.

  18. We started in Oslo, with a quick city tour and recovery from jet lag, and took a 7 hour train ride over the mountains to Bergen. It was pouring there. Bergen is a tourist, fishing and educational center. Most of the city was destroyed during WWII by a massive harbor explosion on a Nazi-impounded Dutch ship carrying explosives. Not sabotage, just careless use of welding equipment to do a repair. We heard a concert at the Grieg summer house. Very good. Then it was off to Geiranger Fjord, a major scenic attraction. The weather was misty, obscuring the best photo ops, but the main weirdness at that stop was the afternoon arrival of a massive cruise ship, 4500 passengers, that entirely overwhelmed the mountain roads with at least 50 sightseeing busses on hairpin turns.

    The next day was Molde, where I went to a marble quarry with a cave river. In Norway, just as in the UK, private individuals can own open land. In this case a mountain under a farmstead. There is a famous road with curving bridges connecting nearby islands called the Atlantic road – often featured in performance car commercials. This is where we spent the afternoon looking over the harbor from the back deck of someone DH met playing bridge online.

    We then crossed the Arctic Circle (sea day) and arrived in Tromsø where I went sea kayaking. I luckily found a lady who owns a kayak (lake only) to partner and we managed well. DH rode the cable car up for a marvelous view. The ship picked up some fabulous freshly caught sea bass for dinner. Then on to Honningsvåg, 71 degrees north latitude, the most northerly point in Europe, with reindeer and Sami (fka Lapp, a term with pejorative origins no longer in use) culture. Then a long trip to Lofoten archipelago, where I went for a hike. It was drizzly, but doable.

    We left Norway for the Scandianvian/Scots island groups of Shetland, first, and then Orkney. I could certainly go back to those. I can see the appeal of a cruise around the British isles. Lots of Viking stuff, of course, but on both there are well preserved ruins, both pre Christian era Pictish brochs and more amazing Neolithic villages preserved in the sand. Also significant World War I and even more so WW II history. The Orkney excursion was my favorite of the whole trip. We made a short stop in Edinburgh, which is a lovely cultured and not all that big city but was absolutely overwhelming in its noise and dirt and traffic after almost two weeks in clean and sparsely populated areas. In London we did not go into the city at all – spent the morning in Greenwich (as is often the case In UK, the actual preserved historical site and exhibits and even the planetarium were underwhelming, but worth it), and took a regular ferry boat down to Westminster and back just for the fun of it. Too noisy, though.

  19. July–we went on a Viking river cruise in Germany last month. It was wonderful and we are already planning our next cruise on Viking.
    Our group of friends ranged in age from 55-65 and we were on the younger end. However, most of the older passengers were very active and mobile. Food and service both very good.
    We didn’t have as much free time in some ports as I might have liked, but some of that was our own doing–we signed up for optional tours when we might otherwise have been free to wander on our own.

  20. Rhett – including retirement assets (401k, 403b, etc)?

    Those most of all. In a similar vein I’ve heard mumblings about the danger of index funds – they say it’s a new asset class and every new asset class eventually blows up. What are the risks? How concerned are you?

  21. Now for the commentary on the travel itself. Everything was uneventful. We use a hired car to the airport and taxi back at the end. We flew Saga (Business) Class on Icelandic (big sit up seats) – we had paid for Economy comfort which is sufficient IMHO but we were upgraded by Viking, I guess. Trips were 5 hours more or less from Boston, 3 hours to Europe. The time between planes in Keflavik is short, and DH is a poor walker, so we just sat in the gate area, which is like a big bus station even at midnight. Viking arranged for transfers at all times, and also the train to Bergen from Oslo.

    We loved cruising as an activity, as I reported before. 900 passengers but it didn’t feel like tht many. Booked another cruise over New Years in the western Mediterranean. We were very happy to have paid for the next to top level stateroom and booked the same area on the next trip. We saw the top of the line explorer suite and for us it is overkill. Some might like the tv over the bathtub with an ocean view window. Main perks of our “jr suite” (curtain between bed and sitting area) room were sufficient space and privacy to enjoy staying in the room, free laundry service (big perk), great location on the ship, and the ability to book the better dining rooms. Priority on shore excursions was not needed, nor the free minibar for next time since we will buy beverage package. I over patronized the spa, but it was my first time. Did almost no shopping to make up for it. Food was terrific, and we each gained only two pounds. Live entertainment was disappointing, to say the least, but the interactive TV (where every lecture appears within a couple of hours) meant you could mingle or sit in your room as you wished. We found more and more interesting and active travelers under 60s as the time progressed, but we are not the type to want to make new friends and/or future travel companions.

    Our weather was terrific. One day of real rain, one day of significant drizzle, a couple of days where the photography was impeded for an hour or two by fog or minor drizzle. But lots of sunshine and pleasant temps in a region where overcast and clammy is the norm. DH wasn’t up to much walking, but we had planned around that. We got along really well, and needed the time away together. I think having DD in the house (it is coming up on a year) has affected us in ways we did not realize until going away, and is probably why we are doing so much traveling in a short time.

    Now at home it is laundry and grocery day. I have a tedious financial project for my volunteer org to complete over the next two weeks, and we are going to NYC for four days this weekend. I did cancel two appointments today and tomorrow, and discovered I will miss a meeting because of the NY trip (I had recorded it incorrectly in my calendar, so I feel no guilt, just carelessness). I haven’t yet checked my accounts to see what the market has been doing the past three weeks, so I may regret some of my future travel commitments, but only for a few minutes until I remember that I am in fact very “well to do”.

    @July – River cruising is different – much smaller boat, more intimate. I think that Viking has special guarantees for the Russia cruises because people get nervous. You need to go online and read all the fine print, but the guy on the phone will go over it all. If you have a travel agent, it won’t cost you any more and usually the travel agent throws in an incentive to get your business – often prepaid onboard gratuities (they add x dollars per day per person so that you don’t have to tip anyone but your cabin attendant, and that is at your discretion – they get a share of the pooled tips too). The “free air” is usually during shoulder season, but it is dynamic pricing – if the boats aren’t filling up they have deals all the time. We booked the Mediterranean cruise only 6 mos in advance, not 18 mos. Cabins in the center of the river cruise boats were suggested to us by experienced travelers. The top of the line “explorer” suite was discouraged for reasons of engine noise, but I don’t think you were planning on that one.

  22. Meme, sounds like an excellent trip. I just wish I could get my husband back on a boat. We went on a brief boat ride in the Hudson for a bat mitzvah in June. I loved it, but he didn’t even like that, and he really didn’t like the Disney cruise.

    As for Amazon, I have mixed feelings. I had to send some water shoes to camp last week that I forgot to pack. Amazon missed the promised delivery day, and no water shoes in time for the rafting trip. It was just one day, but it was too late for the trip. There are other times when I love to shop at Amazon because certain B & M stores are just a hassle and I can never find what I need in stock.

    I try to support local business because sometimes you really need in person help, or you need the item right away. For last minute camp shopping, I had one day with my DD for a few things that I forgot to pack. I appreciated that I could go to Dicks, JoAnns, Target and several other stores to get the item right away. My concern is that these stores will disappear, and sometimes you really do need stuff the same day.

    I shop at BBB because those coupons never expire. I used a ton of those coupons in June for all of my camp toiletries and other stuff. I had the $5 off $15, 20% off on item, and I layered with some manufacturers coupons for sunscreen. The only place that they won’t let you use an expired coupon is Buy Buy baby. The reason that I like to go to their stores is that the item is often sometimes cheaper than Amazon with a coupon. If something is wrong, they take it back right away. I don’t have to haul some huge box back to UPS or the post office. They are pretty good about returns (in my experience) and I generally find that they are the same price as Amazon so it is always cheaper with 20% off.

  23. he really didn’t like the Disney cruise.

    What were his objections? I’ve never heard a bad word from anyone so it’s interesting to someone who didn’t like it.

  24. Meme – I love your trip reports.

    Rhett – maybe Lauren’s DH would more prefer a cruise like Viking vs. Disney. I would too and I am hoping that in a few years I can take DD, although we may not be quite in the target age ranges.

  25. One final comment. Sometimes the Viking provided excursions, “included” or extra cost, are not quite what you had in mind. Our next door neighbors on the ship wanted both neolithic and WWII while the official Orkney choice was one or the other. They just hired a private tour guide for the day and saw exactly that. That is something we will look at for the next cruise.

  26. I usually ignore the hyped up limited time sales like Prime Day. I don’t even keep those CVS coupons that they stuff at you when you buy something, because they always expire too fast for me to use and I don’t need to add to the paper clutter in the house. However, my daughter asked for a new Kindle Paperwhite because hers was a hand me down that broke 6 months ago, and she has decided she wants to read Harry Potter after seeing the movie. She often avoids dense reading, so I don’t want to discourage her. Anyway, I think Amazon always puts its Kindles on sale when they do these events so I will check to see if I can snag one on sale

  27. We completed our summer trip to London and Paris. We stayed in apartments and had a great time. We saw the typical sites, and I had a great time traveling on Eurorail through the Chunnel. Now that we are back, we are thinking about Yosemite for next summer. We have never been, and it will be a good way to do something local and inexpensive.

    The Viking cruises look amazing, but that will have to wait until 2019.

  28. Interesting that you bring up the WWII history of Norway. My middle kid and I were just having a discussion about that very thing – why Belgium fell so fast but Norway fought on. I pointed out that geography is destiny, and Belgium, like Poland is geographically indefensible.

    I’ve always wanted to go to Norway. And I think the only way to really see the fjords is by boat, which is too bad because my husband gets really seasick and will not go near a boat.

  29. I just got back from Bologna, as many of you are aware. It was a work trip, but I went out drinking everynight with a passle of Swedes n’ Dutch.

  30. What are your investments?: index funds, bonds, individual stocks, timber land, oil and gas leases, gold, diamonds, farm land, etc?

    Because you asked, I had to think about it. In terms of invested cash, 401k/IRA/taxable account, it’s about 40/40/20 index funds/actively managed funds/individual stocks. Overall expense ratio for the index/other mutual funds is about 0.40% (some are Vanguard at .04%, some higher). All essentially liquid assets, cash could be realized in ~3days.

    But we (mostly DW) also have shared interests in real estate and a profitable business + our own home’s equity + liquid assets held in trust that together are worth ~2x what our invested cash is.

    Including everything it’s roughly
    13% Index Funds
    20% Active Funds
    8% individual stocks
    32% Real estate (excluding REIT Index)
    28% Business interests
    – 40% liquid / 60% fairly illiquid

  31. I love talking about travel here, and then I get a little panicky because there are so many places I want to go…how will I ever get it all in…

    We are going out west this summer, and Iceland next summer. In 2019 we think we are going to take 2 weeks off, which we’ve never done at the same time, and go somewhere further afield.

  32. For those who have been to Australia – Moxie, Scarlett, and I think someone else recently though blanking on who – is 2 weeks enough, if traveling from east coast? Or is that really a trip to do when you have even longer?

  33. Our portfolio is 98% indexed stocks and bonds. The remaining 2% is business interests/individual stocks/cash.

  34. Let’s say 75% vanguard stock index funds, 5% vanguard bond index funds, and 20% home equity.

  35. Lark – I went when I was much younger for 6 weeks and I felt I left a lot of things undone. I was mostly in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Tasmania. No Ayers Rock, Darwin, Great Barrier Reef, West Coast/Perth. Two weeks, given travel time, would probably leave you feeling shortchanged. 3 would be better, but real life may not support that.

  36. Lark,
    It depends upon what you want to see, what time of year, how many little people in your family, etc. Australia is about the size of the US (but with nothing much to see in the vast middle), and it takes time to get from one city/region to the other. You can also count on losing at least a day to jet lag recovery, so I would say at least two weeks.

    For example, we’ve been twice, but didn’t make it to Ayers Rock (now Uluru) either time because that would have sucked up two days of our trip. Queensland (rain forest and Great Barrier Reef) will also take at least two days. Sydney and Melbourne are both wonderful cities, but if you want to visit both places you probably won’t have much time to do anything else.

    OTOH, you can see a lot in 2 weeks if you pick one of the major cities as a base, with day trips and maybe one long weekend in the outback or the rain forest or mountains. Or New Zealand….

  37. I didn’t lovelovelove our Disney cruise. It was fine, and our first cruise that we did with kids old enough to abandon for hours on end. I thought the childcare was a bit unenthusiastic and reliant on screens (not surprising, but I have heard better stories from friends on lines that didn’t have 100+ kids at a time in the care area.) There was surprisingly little to do on board (no lectures, “behind the scenes” tours, few classes/workshops). There was a ton of exclusive Star Wars content (take picture with characters!, take picture with other characters!! eat star wars themed food), but I had a hard time getting excited about that. I’m pretty Disney neutral – it was cool to see Moana at see, but not worth the premium.

    I doubt we will do another Disney Cruise.

  38. I feel like we should have a separate topic on investments and asset allocation. I think we could talk for a while about that! :)

    Prime Day – I don’t plan to buy anything special, but I might look to see if they have a cheap computer for #1 child.

    Meme – love the trip reports!

  39. Meme, thank you for the trip report. It sounds like a wonderful excursion.

    My only cruise experience left me disappointed. Norwegian Caribbean. In theory I like the floating hotel idea, but in practice I felt bored and stuck on a ship. The activities on board had little or no interest to me. I don’t do spas and I don’t gamble, We attended comedy and musical shows that were all right. We had some fun at karaoke and the trivia game. Some of the other activities I can’t remember (IIRC they had a napkin folding workshop, or maybe I dreamed that!) (Maybe it’s NOT the activities but ME that’s boring!) The snorkeling and other outings were fine.

    I think maybe a Viking cruise visiting Europe might be different. I’ll take a look at itineraries, but I suspect I would like a cruise that stays a couple of days at one spot. But with the pricing I’m seeing, I might be tempted to visit some spots I’ve never been. OTOH, for a fraction of those prices one of my relatives is leaving next week to visit Paris, Marseilles, Avignon, and other spots in southern France. His itinerary sounds amazing.

  40. I know a lot of people who love doing cruises. For many of them, it seems to be a way to arrange a vacation that includes an entire extended family, from grandparents down to little kids. That makes sense to me. But the two reasons why I would be unlikely to do a cruise, at least until the point when I am a grandparent and want to vacation with all the kids and grandkids, is 1) the best part of a trip is going out at night and eating local food – or perhaps shopping in the market and then making a nice meal in the apartment or campsite. and 2) going running or biking at any time, perhaps early or late, and seeing the sights while getting some exercise. Being cooped up in an onboard fitness center just isn’t the same.

    I guess I could see doing a one or two day cruise to see something, like the Norwegian fjords, that are best seen by boat. Years ago we did a one day boat trip through some Greek islands, and it was quite entertaining.

  41. MM — Yes. You pointed out some restrictions I felt when cruising, including checking out local restaurants and staying a bit later in town.

  42. Hmm, I thought Rhett meant funds, not asset allocation. Our funds are VTSAX, two American international funds through my 401(k), Price small-cap value for my Roth, and whatever DH has in Fidelity and Schwab for his 401(k)/rollover IRA, respectively (likely index + growth, maybe a few individual stocks). Oh, and I have some money in Olstein.

    Asset allocation: I’d say 20-25% real estate, but I don’t count that because I don’t plan to sell. Cash right now is probably 10-15% — higher than I thought because DH apparently has never done anything with his incentive options for the past, oh, two years. The rest is in the various funds mentioned above.

    I think the idea that mutual funds are an asset class is rather stupid. Mutual funds are just buckets that hold other asset classes, from stocks to bonds to cash to RE to, presumably, precious metals and/or derivatives thereof. However, I would say that they have a little more risky than directly holding the asset yourself in a crash, because your performance is partly based on the whims of others. If you hold a share of stock directly, you can choose to buy or sell in a crash; OTOH, if you hold a share in a mutual fund, you may decide to hold on in a crash, but if everyone else panics and sells, the fund will be forced to sell the stocks it holds at a reduced price, and so you will end up taking a loss anyway proportional to the number of people who decide to sell and lock in their losses. I realized this in one of the earlier crashes, when I held on, but the next report from the fund indicated that they had had to sell a bunch of assets low anyway, due to the large number of redemption requests. At the time, there wasn’t anything I could do about it, but now with all the ETFs, I really have no excuse for not switching my new investments over.

  43. We really loved Disney. That wasn’t the issue on the cruise. He didn’t like the movement of the ship.

  44. Investments:

    90% real estate
    5% equipment
    5 % vanguard index funds/target

    I don’t really think of the house as an investment. Apparently I really need to diversify.

  45. “My only cruise experience left me disappointed.”

    I had the opposite experience: we got unexpectedly upgraded to a suite on the “special people” floor, and so we had priority exit at the ports of call (which was tremendous given the size of the line), a bottle of champagne waiting for us in our suite, and something like $500 in shipboard credit. I knew I’d never luck into the same deal again, and I also knew I’d never pay for all those extras, so we’ve never gone back. :-)

    In reality, though, I tend to think more like Mooshi — it was really swank and luxe, it was a great way to relax when we could only take off a long weekend for a 3-day trip (and it was just the two of us), and since we were visiting Generic Caribbean Beaches, there wasn’t a lot of culture or food to miss. But I generally prefer to go more interesting places with fewer people, less structure, and better food.

    @July: was that trip in 1973? That carpet, ugh!

  46. My parents did the Moscow-St. Petersburg cruise a few years ago.They loved it and highly recommend it. They spent a few extra days before and after the cruise so they could see more museums. The highlights for this particular cruise were the excursions. One involved visiting a local couple at their Communist era apartment building where they were served homemade vodka and sweet treats, and spoke about their life and upbringing. The building was a communal building, each floor had one kitchen that all apartments shared. My dad was fascinated by the exposed electrical wiring and complete lack of safety concerns.

  47. Mooshi – I think a one way train trip (internal flight the other direction) would be the way to go for your family. You can get off and on. Stop for a couple of days where there is a fjord excursion available (I know they do them out of Bergen, even). Another stop for hiking. Another for cycling. No need to go farther north than Tromsø or even that far north if it doesn’t suit you. There is a lot of stuff to do in the most southern part of the country that we didn’t even consider, and that would tie in with a Danish trip as well.

    What surprised me about this trip, and I think having a stateroom of sufficient size was key, was the ease of just being together and not forced into group meals or prescribed activities. That is the main issue I have with Road Scholar or other organized land trips, and why I only want them to be short interludes in a longer vacation. We are two people of very different activity levels spending our days quite a bit apart. Aboard ship, it was the string of tête a tête evenings, perhaps with one hour of live entertainment, that made it really special. Also the ability to eat as little or as much as one wanted, pretty much at any time of day or evening.

  48. I am home waiting for a locksmith and I have the luxury of watching TV during the day. I am watching the Nadal Muller match. It is great tennis. tied 10-11 in the fifth set

  49. So based on asset allocation, our liquid investments are (or more accurately, were, last August…I have not updated in detail)

    Equities/Fixed/Cash 81%/17%/2%

    The Equities by Industry:
    HiTech 13%
    Consumer Services 10%
    Financial 34%
    Health 9%
    Industrials 10%
    Telecom & Utilities 4%
    Consumer Goods 10%
    Oil, Gas, Natural Resources 8%
    Other 2%

  50. L – I just bought this to replace my iPad. I am happier with something with an attached keyboard. I’ve had it about 2 months and am quite satisfied. With 2 years of protection, it came in under $200. It doesn’t have a lot of functionality when not connected to the internet, but it does everything I need it to do when I am away from my desktop. (You have to be comfortable with the Google suite of apps). https://www.amazon.com/Chromebook-C202SA-YS02-Ruggedized-Resistant-Celeron/dp/B01DBGVB7K

  51. I like cruises because the planning is mostly taken care of and I, as the family trip planner, can relax. Our London/Paris trip was great, but it took a lot of time and work to plan.

  52. Ada – thanks. She does have a Chromebook but DH thinks she needs more capability than internet/Google docs (I’m not so sure!).

  53. I think the idea that mutual funds are an asset class is rather stupid.

    Not mutual funds, index funds.

  54. L – DS1 bought a Lenovo 15.6″ laptop at Best Buy last month for <$300. Since we have multi-unit subscriptions for Microsoft Office and Norton he just downloaded both of those onto his machine at $0 incremental cost.

  55. Lark – We had 5 weeks and did Sydney, Uluru, Port Douglass, Darwin and the Kakadoo forest, Perth, Monkey Mia, Kangaroo Island, the Great Ocean Road and Melbourne. Like someone else said it is the size of the US so the getting around takes time. That said, flying there is NOT like flying here, so much nicer, almost no lines and really friendly people. I think we had a total of like 7 flights during our time there which I dreaded but my goodness they run nice airlines and airports. If you have two weeks, maybe just do like Kangaroo Island which I adored and then drive the Great Ocean Road and check out Melbourne and Phillip Island. Or you could do a Sydney/Cairns Darwin/Uluru thing. I’d think about WHAT you are exactly going to see and then think about how much time that would take in the US including the travel time. Also you don’t really want to drive at night there because the kangaroos are an absolute menace. For Sydney, I’d say 3 days max (if you can do the sleepover at hte Taronga zoo – nice tents, unparalleled view of the city and Opera House at night and private zoo tour – not just for kids. I think tent 8 was the best tent) I’d budget 2-3 in Melbourne and pop out to Phillip Island to see the penguins – amazing. Perth is ok, Darwin is eh, but the eco lodge we stayed at outside of Darwin is exquisite – just breathtaking, wonderful experience. Hope that helps. But do go. It is a beautiful and amazing country with lovely, lovely people!

  56. Like LfB said about mutual funds, I don’t see index funds as an asset class. I have an index fund of REITs (too insignificant to mention in my rough estimates above), but the asset class is real estate, not “index funds.” Same for the bond index funds.

  57. Austin, we bought DD a Fire tablet for about $35 for Xmas a couple years ago.

    She likes it a lot, mostly for watching videos. She does most of that with her school-issue macbook, but the Fire gets a lot of use during the summers when she does not have the macbook.

    Hard to go wrong for that price.

  58. Because the stocks at the top continue to get more and more money as more investors buy into index funds it continues to drive these stocks higher without regard to value.

    Look at how much of a given index is made up of Apple and Alphabet. The risk would be that you think you own 500 stocks but the nature of index funds means the stocks at the top could continue to rise in their weighting in a viscous cycle. The same would be true within each sector index fund.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/seekingalpha.com/amp/article/4077202-danger-index-funds

  59. Lark – We did 4 weeks – Melbourne, Adelade, Alice Springs/Ayers Rock (climbed it), Cobber Pedy (where they mine opal), Brisbane, Lady Elliott Island (great barrier reef) and Sydney. Original plan was to drive the Brisbane to Sydney leg, but due to some travel companion issues, that had to be cut out. Spent a bit longer in Sydney than planned, so took added a day trip to the Blue Mountains.

    The biggest eye opener was an overlay similar to this. On the link, you need to scroll down a bit.

    https://petergrantfineart.wordpress.com/2010/06/21/the-size-of-australia-vs-usa/

  60. Mooshi, I just saw this:

    https://www.amazon.com/Search-Results-for-Refurbished-Kindle-E-readers/b/ref=amb_link_3?ie=UTF8&node=8759467011&pd_rd_r=PBDM4X4E2D9N7SRF03AA&pd_rd_w=5QkSg&pd_rd_wg=soJ8D&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=merchandised-search-leftnav&pf_rd_r=PBDM4X4E2D9N7SRF03AA&pf_rd_r=PBDM4X4E2D9N7SRF03AA&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=2fb89430-8097-4a77-b41e-775452828924&pf_rd_p=2fb89430-8097-4a77-b41e-775452828924&pf_rd_i=8497978011

    Refurbished Paperwhites are on sale.

    I’ve had good success recently buying some refurbished stuff (camcorder, camera, macbook). I believe Mémé was looking at refurbished cameras, which is one reason I’m interested in how her camera worked for her on her trip.

    I’ve never used a paperwhite, but I use my regular Kindle Fire mostly for reading, and it’s been fine for that. Being able to adjust the brightness and font size allow my aging eyes to read it just about anywhere.

    I’ve also used it a little to watch videos, and with an HDMI cable it allows me to watch videos, mostly family videos (kids’ performances, family travel) on the bigscreen. When I tried Amazon Prime, I also used it to facilitate viewing of Prime content on the big screen.

    For $33, it might be worth a shot to see if it works as a reader for your DD.

  61. July,

    I don’t you want to include the Seeking Alpha article on index funds in the asset post that might be good.

  62. “Cash right now is probably 10-15%”

    Given how soon your DD will be in college, you probably want to keep a good amount in cash.

    With one about to start and another in HS, we have quite a bit in cash, including CDs. I think the first payment is due soon.

  63. “we are thinking about Yosemite for next summer. “

    How will you get there?

    Given where you live, I would suggest considering a Griswold-type Vacation, across TX, NM, AZ, then through CA. Lots to see and do along the way.

    Whether you fly or drive, I suggest you do more than just Yosemite.

    BTW, now would be the time to start planning. Find out how far in advance you can make reservations, especially for campgrounds and lodging within Yosemite and any National Parks.

  64. “The risk would be that you think you own 500 stocks but the nature of index funds means the stocks at the top could continue to rise in their weighting in a viscous cycle. The same would be true within each sector index fund.”

    Hmm. I guess that’s a fair point, IF you are limiting your analysis to the S&P 500 or specific sector index funds. But it’s really no different than focusing on growth stocks, momentum, high-dividend stocks, or any other sector — whatever sector is in favor at the moment tends to get overweighted and bid up, and then things ultimately re-set themselves. Doesn’t mean that there is no inherent value; it’s just a question of the relationship between inherent value and current price. Like anything else.

    This is also why I am in a total stock market index fund, not just S&P 500 or specific sectors, and why I also have separate international funds.

  65. This is also why I am in a total stock market index fund

    It’s still subject to the weighting risk, it’s baked into the nature of an index fund.

    What options would there be to reduce the weighting risk? I assume some % in individual stocks?

  66. “What options would there be to reduce the weighting risk?”

    Diversification among various indices?

  67. @RhettL Honestly, I think the risk lessens the more that index funds proliferate. Maybe a decade ago, when you could basically choose a S&P index fund, sure — I even remember newspaper articles about people trying to play the stock “bump” from guessing which stock would be named to the index next.

    But now the indexes slice and dice the market as much as the actively-managed funds do. Think the S&P500 index overweights large-cap growth stocks? Change to a total stock market index based on the Russell 2000 or the Wilshire 5000. Think that is still too large-cap? Balance it out with a small-cap value index fund. Think it’s too American-focused? Buy an international index. Etc. etc. etc.

    So the more index funds exist, the more ability you have to tailor your particular basket o’ funds to your own preferred allocation to offset any worries about overweighting from the smaller indexes. Added bonus is that the more indexes and index funds exist, the less of a “bump” you are likely have from being included in any particular index (or the less of a fall you get from being dropped).

  68. When Meme mentioned Shetland islands, I have “seen” the landscape in the detective series Shetland. I quite liked the series.
    I have been for some parts of my life an armchair traveller through the books I read – I never thought I’d see any of the places I have seen so far. Sometimes the in laws ask if I have been to a place before, nope just read about it.

    Any recommendations on serials ?

  69. The tl;dr version of that is that, yes, there are many things that I worry about that may affect the value of my portfolio. And while the index weighting may be somewhere on that list, it is very, very far down.

  70. Isn’t the biggest risk in a bubble because the stocks in an index fund are overvalued even more than those that are not in an index fund? Maybe this is what Rhett is saying. So, you should hold some individual stocks that aren’t in an index?

  71. @Kate — right, that’s exactly what he’s saying. I just don’t worry much about it.

  72. Diversification among various indices

    Each indice has the same issue with self reinforcing weighting.

  73. And while the index weighting may be somewhere on that list, it is very, very far down.

    Then it’s exactly the kind of black swan event that ends badly for almost everyone.

  74. We need an index that drops a stock when the price to book value gets above X. That could probably be a hedge against a regular index.

  75. Or maybe it’s just something to keep an eye on. Right now Microsoft, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet are almost 10% of the S&P. If that starts to surge even higher that could be indicative of a problem.

    Keep in mind how a bubble forms – the price rises and more people pile in, which makes the prices rise even higher, which makes even more people pile in… until it pops. Are we sure that can’t happen to index funds?

  76. Eh, not sure about the Black Swan. Because for starters, people have been paying attention to this since indexes started sprouting — I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that an index is a sure-fire, can’t-lose investing approach like they said about CDOs. And I would be very, very surprised if some very smart quants were not already out there tracking the delta between the stocks on the index and comparable stocks that aren’t on the index, and short-selling/etc. when those figures get out of whack.

    But also because of what Kate said: people are slicing and dicing indexes all different ways, because they see that’s where the money is. So you can have an index that covers “non-indexed but comparable” stocks. You can have an index that uses some automatic triggers to mitigate the risks. The market is finding its own solutions to these sorts of issues.

    Honestly, I think the bigger risk in a crash is what I wrote about above: what if everyone sells at once, and the managers have to liquidate at rock-bottom prices? Then the folks who stay in see their share prices drop, and they sell, and it spirals worse very quickly. IOW, it could exacerbate the losses for the buy-and-hold investor, and if it hits something like the Vanguard indexes, that impact might itself be big enough to exacerbate the market drop.

    My own hedge, btw, is to put my extra money in actively-managed small- and mid-cap value funds that buy based on underlying fundamentals. I am always leery of momentum-type investing and emotional market swings, so I rely on some guys who are hard balance-sheet guys to offset a little bit of that risk.

  77. Lark, I might recommend talking to a travel agent to plan your trip. We had an exceptional one who was over there who can really help you map everything out and pick good places and thigns for you. Its a big place.

  78. I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that an index is a sure-fire, can’t-lose investing approach like they said about CDOs.

    That’s basically the entire pitch. Until that article I’d never heard anything about the systemic risk posed by index funds. I’d heard complaints about corporate governance and other things but nothing about systemic risk.

    I do like your midcap actively managed hedging strategy – I think I might start doing that.

  79. “Each indice has the same issue with self reinforcing weighting.”

    But they’re not necessarily the same stocks.

  80. Finn – no. But in an overheated market, they all have this risk. So, probably not best to have everything in an index fund. And definitely not in one index fund.

  81. FB post from a friend says it isn’t just Prime day–it’s also free slurpy day at 7/11 and free food at Chik fil A. What a great country!

    Grace, you have a handful of topics from me.

  82. Lark – we only did Sydney, and were there for one week. It was the perfect amount of time to explore Sydney, including the downtime for jet lag. We would have gone down to Melbourne if we had had extra days. DS came over from NZ for the last two days, so we did do a bit of repeat walking around with him.

    In New Zealand, DS recommended Wellington over Auckland or Christchurch.

    If you want restaurant recommendations for Sydney I am happy to supply them. We went to some fabulous restaurants, and some really fun bars in the basements of old buildings.

  83. He labeled some “cooking” so I would know which ones to grab when I need one to cook with
    I recently heard about a divorce in which the husband got the couple’s substantial wine collection. Before he could pick it up, the wife removed all the labels.

  84. Fred, I thought of you recently as I ordered 5 Soft Surroundings items for $100. You just mentioned shopping as sport. I’ve heard some fashion afficionadoes telling each other to have a good hunt at Nordstroms as its annual sale kicks off in a couple days. It’s the same thing.

  85. “BBB newer coupons say 20/10, so only worth 10 percent when they expire. I just have a box they go in. When I know I am heading there to shop, I take the box (index card size).”

    You don’t have email on your phone?

  86. I didn’t realize Viking had optional shore excursions. That must be why their competitor, Tauk, advertises that everything’s included. The longest boat ride I’ve ever been on was not a cruise. It was a ferry from Venice to Athens. Going through the Strait of Corinth was awesome at any price (maybe that was in the return trip, Piraeus to Brindisi, im not sure). My cabin mate and i hung out in Athens for a few days after we arrived. I can see wanting to sail from port to port, spending a little bit of time in each, enough to run to the market as Mooshi describes and see major sites, whether by ferry or cruise, and using the trip as a way to decide with port of call to go back to for a longer visit.

  87. On Viking there is always an included bus tour at each port, and a good map, and a free shuttle into the town from the pier, although on these remote area cruises the town isn’t very much to see. There are also many optional extra price tours as well. I am sure Tauck has optional tours as well.

  88. Rhett — Since some folks started discussing here I wasn’t sure if your asset suggestion was for a new post but now I see that it is. I will put it in the queue. Thanks!

    S&M — I searched but could not find your unused topic submissions. I’m sorry I seemed to have missed them. Could you re-send?

    On another note, when I selected my new handle I missed that there would be one month during the year in which searching for my comments and mentions would be tedious. :)

  89. Don’t forget it’s Prime Day plus free slurped at 7-11 plus National Fried Chicken Day at Chik Fil A.

  90. Thanks to previous discussions here, I ordered some packing cubes as part of Prime Day. A brief amount of research revealed that I am not getting any fantastic deal, but it’s been on my list for a while, so when I saw them pop up this seemed like as good of an excuse as any to go ahead and order them.

  91. We just spent WAAY too much on Prime Day…

    But, I got a snowsuit for DS1 (who will pass it down to DS2) for $17 (these things can run $70+ so I’m happy); a shirt for me for $17; a gift for my mom ($20); packing cubes for $15 (meh deal); and the kicker… something DH has wanted for years – it retails at $600 but we got it for $285 (with tax) and my mom and I are splitting it for DH’s bday.

    We almost purchased another car seat, but it was only 20% off and I really don’t want to buy it yet…

  92. Meme, nope, there are very few choices on Tauck trips, although there may be a couple of hours on your own once or twice a trip. I think the point is that you have hired someone you trust to take the weight of decision-making off you. The river tours also do not connect to bus tours very often at all–the river is the transportation, they dock in town and walk. If a bus is used, it is to get somewhere for an activity/walking tour, not the sort of “if you look to your left, you’ll see the famous….” bus tour thing at all. Here is one example–one day with two fully-planned option, and one day with a big hill they won’t force you to climb if you can’t.
    http://www.tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/central-and-eastern-europe-tours/rhine-river-cruise-ran-2018.aspx?tabPage=Itinerary
    Welcome to Budapest
    Your Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise starts at 4:00 PM in Budapest. A transfer is included from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport or Budapest Keleti Railway Station directly to your riverboat, docked right in the heart…

    Both sides of Budapest on the Danube
    Standing on opposite banks of the Danube, Budapest’s two distinct sections – Buda and Pest – were once independent cities that were linked together in the mid-19th century by the construction of the Chain Bridge to become…

    Bratislava & a Grand Evening in Vienna
    An ancient city with a modern pulse, Slovakia’s dynamic capital is home to an Old Town brimming with life – and devoid of cars – along with one of the youngest populations of any city in Europe today. Our local expert shares insider…

    Schönbrunn Palace or the Hofburg
    Wake up in Vienna, evoking quintessential images of Old World Europe. Sightseeing today includes your choice of guided visits to the Habsburgs’ illustrious Schönbrunn Palace, an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural…

    Discover the Wachau Valley & Melk Abbey
    Go ashore in Dürnstein this morning for an orientation walk, with an optional hike up to the hilltop ruins of Kuenringerburg – the castle where England’s King Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades….

    Baroque in Passau & cruising the Danube
    After crossing the border from Austria to Germany, dock in the Bavarian town of Passau on the Danube and Inn rivers, whose history dates back to the days of the Roman empire. A walking tour reveals the Baroque treasures of this lovely riverside town,…

    Regensburg, a Mix of Old and New
    With its roots as a Roman encampment on the Danube, the quintessential Bavarian town of Regensburg is home to more than 1,400 original historic buildings. Walking here is a delight and is the only way to view the sights up-close. A local guide will…

    Main-Danube Canal & historic Nürnberg
    Today, your Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise negotiates the Main-Danube Canal, which ultimately links the North Sea with the Black Sea; learn about the canal’s history from a local expert during your transit. The idea goes back as far as Charlemagne,…

    A walking tour of Bamberg’s Old Town
    Perched atop seven hills, Bamberg is home to a magnificent, four-towered Romanesque cathedral from the 13th century; see it, along with more of this charming medieval city’s unique architecture and colorful gardens, during a walking tour…

    Würzburg or Rothenburg & a wine tasting
    Arrive this morning in charming Würzburg; you have two choices of sightseeing today. Accompanied by a local guide, explore Würzburg – see the ornate Alte Mainbrücke, a bridge over the River Main, and visit the town’s…

    Pleasures of a day cruising the Main…
    It is no wonder that river cruising was the favored pastime of royalty throughout the centuries… and you’ll revel in the experience on a full day cruise along the picturesque Main. Fortified towns with towering cathedrals dot the lush landscapes…

    Rüdesheim for musical magic & more
    Relax and enjoy your riverboat’s amenities as you cruise along the Main River, as it transforms into the Rhine River, to the wine-making town of Rüdesheim, part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches…

    Köln, a.k.a. Cologne
    First up today – a morning visit to Köln (Cologne). Originally founded by the Romans, it is one of the oldest settlements in Germany. Visit the great Gothic cathedral, Kölner Dom, with a local guide then spend some time exploring as…

    Canal cruise, art & more in Amsterdam
    Amsterdam… the name itself conjures up images of the Dutch capital’s myriad cultural treasures, from gabled houses, markets and cafés to awe-inspiring museums housing a treasure trove of world-famous art – and it’s all yours…

    Journey home

  93. Meme, what/where are you talking about when you say “although on these remote area cruises the town isn’t very much to see”?

  94. You claim that they have optional extras, they claim that they don’t.

    Tauck Homepage : Tauck Small Ship Cruises: Tauck Small Ship Cruising:: Distinctively Inclusive

    Enjoy the Impossible. Made Effortless.
    Leave it to us. We’ll handle every detail of your journey so you can totally immerse in our intimate cruising experience, sunrise to sunset. Logistics are removed… so your time is maximized and you can truly enjoy all that every destination you visit has to offer. Our shore excursions are unlike any others, combining our 90+ years of award-winning travel experience with unique, exclusive destination experiences ashore you couldn’t have on your own.

    One Upfront Price… With Just About Every Travel Expense Included
    With Tauck, your fare is your passport. For one upfront price, you’ll enjoy world-class hotels, exquisite meals and drinks, jaw-dropping excursions, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences on distinctively inclusive cruises. This is a truly seamless journey, where all the details seem to magically fall into place. This is all-inclusive, for those who refuse to settle.
    Unlike other cruise companies, we include privately guided shore excursions that take you inside the destination – both on and off “the beaten path” – like no one else does.
    When you travel with us, you’ll never wonder whose turn it is to pick up the check at dinner, how much to tip, or whether you booked the right hotel room. There are no options sold, no hidden costs and no compromises on quality. Just pure exploration, with nothing to take you out of the moment.

    See What’s Included…
    Tauck Small Ship Cruises
    Tauck’s signature land sightseeing on our private shore excursions offers you insights not available on your own – for Tauck guests only
    Inclusive cruise fare – no extra charges for meals or shore excursions
    All gratuities to the Tauck Director, ship staff, drivers, local guides and local experts are included – Tauck handles the tipping for you
    Hotel accommodations handpicked for location, service and style; airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
    Most meals, bar and restaurant beverages, including house wines and spirits, throughout the day aboard ship – waterside dining at its best!
    Sightseeing with local experts and exclusive cultural entertainment events add an insider’s perspective
    Port charges, all taxes, luggage handling and more, all included!

    And What’s Not…
    No options are sold
    No sales pitches are made
    No fuel surcharges applied
    The price you pay upfront is your final price

  95. Oops–two choice–Schoenbrunn or Hofburg and Würzburg or Rothenburg. But still nothing like handing you a map and an ad for a bus tour.

  96. S&M – I am sure you are entirely right about Tauck since your parents have taken them. If it sounded like I was contradicting you I am sorry. Both in the past and right now I tried to drill down into the Tauck website to figure how much is included in the base price but no dice, I would have to discuss the details with a Tauck counselor. The lowest price cited on the front page for the worst stateroom that tour is 6590. Whether there are additional discounts I can’t tell, see above. Whether unlimited alcohol is included, or tips to the onboard staff, I can’t tell, see above. If there are very few options and the days are fully “curated” for the entire group it would explain why Tauck tours seem to be 50% more expensive than other providers for various destinations. When they say inclusive they seem to mean our way or the highway, but it appears to be very high brow and high end.

    The equivalent Viking tour starts at 4000, and when they say inclusive they mean that they offer one organized option without extra charge for you at every port, and no extra charge for the better dining room or room service or house wine and beer. (apparently some cruise lines offer no options or land tours and charge extra for every little thing) And Viking ain’t exactly chopped liver. I looked over the bills I received in addition to the base price for my cruise. Approximate cost per person for two weeks, mandatory shipboard gratuities were 200. The liquor package is about 200. There was an included tour each day and a free bus into the town if it is not walking distance. And many wonderful options for every different type of traveler, ranging from 50 dollars for bus ride to a remote scenic spot and a guided 6 mile hike to 900 for a scenic plane flight.

    DH and I needed the option to do different things almost every day. He can’t walk more than a few hundred feet without a rest. Even standard old people’s walking tours are too much for him. He does best with a 2 to 4 hour tour and a nap. I wanted physical exercise and sometimes went with him on the bus tour and then something else in the afternoon. And we cherished all of our private time as a couple – we never had to eat with any one else and had the option of eating pretty much any time we wanted to. (On a river cruise there are probably set dining times, at least for dinner, and more enforced collegiality, although we blew off dinner at one stop on our Columbia river cruise and ate onshore).

    The dock areas in smaller ocean ship destinations may offer not much more than a tourist shop, although in the Orkney Islands the grannies had a concession right by the ship where they sold homemade foods, craft and knitted items. It was like going to a rural church bazaar and I had the local contact and a lot of fun selecting items for gifts. And the time to listen closely and understand the Scottish accent. For Edinburgh the dock is a commercial site miles from the city. London dock is in Greenwich, were we did spend the day much as you would wandering around with no organized activity. We loved visiting with a local resident all afternoon in Molde, Norway. And we love a paper map no matter where we go, even via bus.

  97. I tried to drill down into the Tauck website to figure how much is included in the base price but no dice, I would have to discuss the details with a Tauck counselor. The lowest price cited on the front page for the worst stateroom that tour is 6590. Whether there are additional discounts I can’t tell, see above.
    Per their website, there is a discount for single rooms, which I gather you would not be inretested in. What makes you think there would be additional discounts?

    Whether unlimited alcohol is included, or tips to the onboard staff, I can’t tell, see above.

    Are you asking me? I already pasted in the answer directly from their website:

    Inclusive cruise fare – no extra charges for meals or shore excursions
    Most meals, bar and restaurant beverages, including house wines and spirits, throughout the day aboard ship – waterside dining at its best!

    I don’t understand why you continue to argue.

    If there are very few options and the days are fully “curated” for the entire group it would explain why Tauck tours seem to be 50% more expensive than other providers for various destinations. When they say inclusive they seem to mean our way or the highway, but it appears to be very high brow and high end.

    Yes, precisely. Again, not sure if you’re asking me, or why you would if you actually read what I pasted in earlier

    Tauck’s signature land sightseeing on our private shore excursions offers you insights not available on your own – for Tauck guests only
    Inclusive cruise fare – no extra charges for meals or shore excursions
    All gratuities to the Tauck Director, ship staff, drivers, local guides and local experts are included – Tauck handles the tipping for you
    Hotel accommodations handpicked for location, service and style; airport transfers upon arrival and departure as noted

  98. About the lowest prices available/additional discounts:

    Single price in Category 1 is the same as the double price – no single supplement, which means savings of up to 50% for solo travelers!
    Solo Travelers also enjoy Savings of $1000 per cabin in Category 4 and 5 on the May 5, July 28, August 25 and October 20 departures.
    Cruise price per person includes cruise fare, most meals, port charges, wine with dinner aboard ship, shore ex­cur­sions, applicable fuel surcharges, and gratuities to Tauck Directors, Tauck Cruise Director, ship staff, local guides & drivers, as well as on all included meals.
    Unlimited complimentary beverages aboard ship now include regional wine, beer and premium spirits in addition to specialty coffee, water and soft drinks.

    http://m.tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/central-and-eastern-europe-tours/rhine-river-cruise-ran-2018.aspx?tabPage=Itinerary

    The site uses dentical language for every cruise.

  99. Meme, given what you’ve said about your husband, if you are considering one of these cruises with him, you will want to go to the very bottom of the itinerary and click on “before you go” and then on “health and safety”. Here are excerpts from that section for this trip:

    While a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam is very relaxing and the pace leisurely, to enjoy this cruise, you should be in good health and able to walk reasonable distances, often over unpaved and uneven surfaces. Some of the most memorable sightseeing can only be accomplished on foot. There is a moderate to significant amount of walking during our excursions, often along the cobblestone streets on the hills along the rivers; for the most part, however, the amount of walking you do is at your discretion.
    Your riverboat has four decks: Sun, Diamond, Ruby and Emerald. The elevator runs between the Diamond Deck and the Dining room, which includes stops at the Lounge and the Ruby Deck. There is no chair lift between any of the decks.
    Because you will be cruising on a river and not on the open sea, you are never far from land and, therefore, there is no doctor on board the riverboat. In case of emergency we can easily dock the boat and call for an ambulance or medical assistance.
    PLEASE NOTE: We regret that this Tauck itinerary cannot accommodate wheelchairs or motorized scooters. Likewise, we regret that we’re unable to provide individual assistance to guests with walking difficulties or other personal needs. The responsibility of the Tauck Director who accompanies your trip is to ensure that the larger group enjoys a relaxing and informative journey, and he or she cannot be relied upon to provide ongoing individual assistance to any one guest. Guests requiring such individualized assistance must be accompanied by an able-bodied companion who can provide it.

    If you have a medical condition that might limit your participation in activities, please consult your physician for pre-departure health advice and notify us as soon as possible, if you have not already done so. We will advise your Tauck Director accordingly.

    http://m.tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/central-and-eastern-europe-tours/rhine-river-cruise-ran-2018.aspx?tabPage=Itinerary

    There are US outlets on the ship, so using his c-pap would not be a problem, but there may be too much exertion for him. You are quite correct that they are “our way or the highway” about the “curated” experiences, and that quite a few are high end. If you are interested in doing one of their cruises, either now or at a future point when you are more willing to have someone else make decisions for you, then you might want to look into their family excursions, like the river cruise through France. I have no direct experience, but comparing itineraries, many activities appear both on the family tours and the “regular” tours, but the dates are different, so families would be on the boat with other families. http://m.tauck.com/family-travel/family-vacation-destinations

  100. I’d find guides and tours more important in tiny villages and rural areas than in famous cities. My parents had a guided tour of a famous monestary in Budapest, but I knew to go there in 89, because it appears in so many guide books about the area. In a small fishing village, I’d find it very awkward to ask someone to tell me about how they earn their living or the history and legends of their place. http://m.tauck.com/tours/europe-tours/scandinavia-travel/norway-cruise-nfe-2018.aspx

    This reminds me of recent comments about being uneasy incities, a claim my dad will also make. I simply don’t understand this. I find people in cities will leave you the hell alone as you go about your daily business, whatever that will be, but are there, closeby, and pitch in when a need arises, whether it’s as simple as lifting your bag down from a subway car or much more complicated. In rural areas, its the opposite–much more concern about other people’s business, but willingness to help only when they feel some sort of commonality and bond. Otherwise, screw you, they’ll go back home–which is much further away and puts you out of sight, out of mind; in a way that’s hardly possible in the city. In the city; everyone belongs because no one has to. In rural places and small towns, membership doesn’t just have to be struggled for, but also maintained through ongoing allegiance and commonality. Iow, in a city, people will help you out. In NYC; the biggest, baddest Apple of all, we asked a guy at a deli near the financial district if we could share his table. He moved his newspaper and proceeded to (apparently) enjoy chatting with my 10 year old about what he was looking forward to on our trip. I’d like to hear about a time that anyone in a small town was willing to share their table with a stranger and gave up their lunch time to talk with a kid they’d never seen before and never would see again.

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