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  1. 26 points
    I just want to say that it is so awesome to have found you guys! I feel like everyone here understands all of my questions and my general obsessing about my upcoming cruise! I am VERY excited about starting a new type of adventure (I'm most sure this will not be my only RC cruise already... lol)... Just sayin' thanks ... I found my 'herd'... 😄
  2. 21 points
    Who’s Going? The usual crew: Hubby, our 2 girls, D10 & D12 (a month shy of 11 &13), and myself. Flight Our plan is to fly from DTW to EWR two days before. Since it is our summer vacation and we are not pressed for time, we are taking an extra day to take our girls around Manhattan the day before the cruise. Pre-Cruise Stay I tossed around the idea of staying in Manhattan because the pre-cruise meet up is there but then we decided to book Embassy Suites again in Elizabeth, NJ. A few friends from our group cruise are also staying there. At the last minute, and by that, I mean only 3 weeks ago, it dawned on me that I overlooked a very important point. We booked a one-day tour with Viator for NYC that leaves from Times Square. I realized that going into NYC on a Wednesday morning from NJ would be a bit of a problem with rush hour. Not wanting to stress about being stuck in traffic or risk missing our tour, we went ahead, and canceled Embassy Suites and our stay now is at... the Intercontinental New York Times Square! We realize that this adds a bit more cost and travel time on embarkation morning, but our girls are so excited to stay in Manhattan and we are steps away from the pre-cruise meet up and our tour pick up point. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. Itinerary This 9-night sailing takes us to Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee. We have no real plans for this sailing other than relaxing. June was such a busy month for all of us. I am simply burnt out and looking forward to sitting and staring out at the open waters. In Bermuda, we booked the Bermuda Island Drive By Minibus Tour through Royal. In San Juan, we plan to walk around for a bit on our own. Lastly, for St. Maarten and Labadee, we may not even get off the ship. Hubby and I will be back at these same ports (minus Bermuda) in a few weeks on Symphony and it’s better to visit “That Yoda Guy” without the kids. Cabin We are booked in the exact same cabin category as last cruise. Formerly a Family Junior Suite (FJ), it has now been re-categorized as a J3. This cabin makes the most sense for our family as it has the pullman bed and 1 ½ bath. This time around, we grabbed one on Deck 8 instead of 9 in hopes that it might be slightly better for motion. Not sure if it will make much of a difference. See my 2018 live blog for pics of this cabin. Pre-Cruise thoughts - First Group Cruise! So excited! Need I say more?! - Because it is a Group Cruise and our kids have started venturing out on their own, we grabbed the VOOM for 3 devices plan this time. This way, we will be able to contact D12 anytime if needed, especially if we split up from them for group activities. - This is also my way of giving Anthem a second chance. As noted in my previous Anthem blog, there were two things I really did not enjoy about the previous cruise. One was that crowds did not flow well throughout the ship. The second was that I vowed to never sail from NJ again in the colder months as it was not enjoyable for us. We will see if sailing in July makes a difference. - Finally, my disclaimer is that this blog may not follow my usual style. I can’t even promise how “live” it will be this time around. And there will be many things I may not post to avoid being redundant from my last one. - Once again, in the spirit of a live blog, please do not hesitate to ask any questions. I will do my best to find out whatever I can for you. - When responding to a post with a series of pictures, please do not include the pictures in your reply. It just makes for easier scrolling. - Lastly, I will do my best to bring the cruise to you LIVE through Periscope – you can follow me @LoveToCruise2002.
  3. 20 points
    Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019 Anthem of the Seas the Reboot (aka Anthem, The Lite Edition). For those of you who have been around for a while, you know that we cruised Anthem back in 2018. For a more in-depth blog of Anthem, check out my blog from March 2018. This is going to be the “Lite Edition” for several reasons. I wasn’t even going to blog this cruise as I am not sure how much more I can add to it that would be different from my previous one or the ones that @twangster, @JLMoran, @SweetPea, or @TheHobbys have done. And…it’s my first Group Cruise! I might be just a tad busier than usual. However, the conclusion that I came to is that it would be irresponsible and inconsiderate of me to not blog it because it was the blogs and scopes from last year’s Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska GC that finally pushed me into booking this one. Again, the best part of live blogs is learning from each other and to pay it forward. Let’s back up the story a bit on how this cruise came about for us. I saw this GC as soon as @Matt announced it back in the Fall of 2017. The itinerary stood out right away for me as it was 9-night sailing that goes to Bermuda (we have never been). To make it even better, the dates for this GC landed on dates that were actually doable for me. However, during that time, I was more focused on securing my Symphony July 2019 booking and with both cruises in July, only weeks apart, I decided it wasn’t going to be possible for Anthem. In March 2018, we sailed Anthem, and I had very mixed feelings on that sailing with the ship itself. I usually enjoy most cruises we go on, but Anthem did not sit well with me. You can see my initial thoughts of Anthem in my previous Anthem blog. Fast forward to June 2018, the RC Blog gang went to Alaska, and it looked like so much fun that I truly wanted to try out a GC myself. Many of you know that I am teacher and my vacation dates are not flexible. To have the Anthem GC fall over our summer break was an opportunity that I felt I could not let pass. Booking this cruise was essentially embracing the true YOLO spirit. As far as our (I mean Hubby’s) bank account goes, booking this one and Symphony to sail in the same month was not wise and made for a very expensive April! On the bright side, this is going to be our shortest dry dock ever between cruises! This is the cruise that we probably should not have booked but could not turn it down for the reasons already listed and the best reason of all…Who can possibly turn down an opportunity to meet “Mr. YOLO Book It!” himself? True Greatness? Our Fearless Leader? Obviously not us! So here it goes…
  4. 20 points
    We had a chance to visit CocoCay on TH 6/27 off of the Mariner of the Seas. Summary - Amazing, outstanding, a true game-changer. - Flexible enough to meet the needs of everybody. - You can have a great time with excursions or without. - Thrill Park is great. If that is your thing. - Overall, highly recommended. Our group - 2 families with children (11, 8, 7 years old) - We booked the full day Thrill Park via Cruise Planner at $47/adult as well as the kid rate (I forgot the total). - 2nd RCCL trip (1st was Harmony) Our Day (Part 1: Thrill Park) - RC provided a map and a 1-page fact sheet the evening before. We felt very prepared. - Checked out towels and then met the gang for breakfast at 7:30am. - Left the boat at 8:30am. It was very fast. No towel check-out was provided at level 1. You will need to get towels in advance at the pool deck. - Trams were waiting on the pier to talk folks if desired. - Less than 5 min walk from the boat to the entrance to the island and the Thrill Park. Live music, dancers, etc. lots of energy. - Easy entry to the Thrill Park, use your sea pass. RCCL staff is onsite. - Locker to your right after entering the park (free). - We divided into two groups. One group went straight to the Devil's Tower. They rode it once and had a very small line. Within an hour of opening the wait time was 45-60- minutes. Key point: Plan ahead and arrive early. The other group secured lounger chairs under umbrellas (between the Devils Tower and the other Slide section) and headed over to the Sling Shot (the half pipe ride), Twister, and Racers. - Easy to find chairs. Lots available with lots of shade. - Easy to find beverage (adult) and water. - All the water slides are strong. Fun, thrilling, scaring, high energy, etc. - After the slides, we hit the wave pool. Recommended as well. Make sure you watch the young kids. The pool is crowded and life guards can see only so much. - We also spent time on the adventure pool. Both adults and kids were using the attraction. Lots of fun. - After about 2.5 hours on the Thrill Park we decided to go to Chill Island. One of the reasons was the wait on the Tower Slides was getting long and we saw storms in the distance and wanted to hedge our time. Out Day (Part 2: Chill Island). - Relaxing. Laid back. Really a different vibe and energy. - Rented snorkel equipment. My kids saw stingrays and fish. - After about 2 hours, headed to Chill Grill for lunch. Taco bar and grilled chicken wings were strong. We also liked the fact you can pour your own beer (w Seapass Card). Kids loved the ice cream. - BIG ISSUE: TONS of birds are seagulls are onsite at Chill Grill and are very aggressive. They are swarming on guests and attacking their plates while guests sat at picnic tables. I saw a bird swoop down and steal a chicken wing from a guest who was about to it eat. This needs to be fixed. Think the movie "The Birds". - Went to Oasis Lagoon for the rest of the day and drank our share of Miami Vice, Kracken and Diet Coke, and beer. The Pool bar is strong and the staff are fast. - The pool itself is very large and can accommodate a lot of folks. Loud music. Party atmosphere. - Some lighting delays throughout our day, but no biggie. - Took the tram home. General thoughts - Great time. Really strong move by RCCL. Disney will have to up its game. Huge contrast to other cruise private islands. - Easy to navigate and everything is pretty much 10 minutes away. Walk or Tram. - Totally different vibes between the water park and Chill Island. - Even though we only were at the water park for 2 hours, it was so fun we still feel as though we got our $$$ worth. - Staff was great. - The island and layout are such that the crowded feeling is likely to be minimized. - Easy to get food, adult beverages, water etc. Lockers are free. - We did not rent a cabana. They looked very nice. Our hesitation is that if you rent a cabana you may feel limited to stay in the cabana and consequently miss other areas of the island. We liked our approach of spending time at the water park, the beach, and the big pool. - Talked to a few officer types at the island and they shared that RCCL plans on building a hotel for guests on the island and back-to-back CocoCay stays will be offered in Jan 2020. - The day before we stopped at Nassau and stayed until 8:30pm. I really wish we could have stayed that long at CocoCay and shortened our time in Nassau. - The birds at Chill Grill are an issue. - Other guests we were talking too on the ship felt the same about the island - it is fantastic. - Have a high-level plan so you can make the most of the day. You don't have to plan every minute, but at least consider where you want "Home base" and what you want to do on the island in some order. Hit the waterpark early to avoid lines. Hope his helps. Have.a blast. Andy
  5. 19 points
    I wasn't sure I would live blog this trip but Empress is secret favorite of mine and she doesn't get much attention here in the live blogs. Empress is a small ship yet she doesn't feel small on board, as long as you pick the right cabin. In the wake of the abrupt Cuba changes fares have been very reasonable including Junior Suite rates. On a small ship the added space and balcony of a Junior Suite goes a long way to not feeling the size of the ship. The fact that cruising solo in a suite will net me triple Crown and Anchor points wasn't lost on me. That's a whopping 42 points for the price of a 7 night cruise in a balcony on an Oasis class ship. Since I'm flying to the ship I always prefer a B2B. If I'm coming all this way I might as well cruise twice. I thoroughly enjoyed my last Empress cruise so given the great last minute rates and affordable suites I couldn't pass up the opportunity to sail this little beauty again. Itinerary 1 - 6 nights Key West, Costa Maya, Cozumel Itinerary 2 - 8 nights Key West, Costa Maya, Belize, Cozumel, CocoCay I like to scuba dive so the opportunity to visit Belize again was appealing. This will also be my first trip to see the new Perfect Day additions. Cozumel is a perennial favorite as is Key West. Costa Maya is also an easy port to spend a day at. Put it all together and the answer computed to... YOLO, why not? I am going to take a more relaxed approach to blogging this one. It is after all a small ship and I've got two weeks to spread my posts over so I may not be as active on this one as I have on other cruises. Flying in the night before my plane takes off in a couple of hours. Time to finish packing and get moving.
  6. 18 points

    Super Cheap Deluxe Drink Package price

    I think everyone knew this was a pricing mistake from the moment it was spotted, especially if you have been following drink package prices. I bought it at the $18/day rate for a couple sailings knowing full well it was a mistake and very likely refunded. Like they say in the lotto business, cant win if you don't play!
  7. 17 points
    🎶 99 days til we go on the cruise! 99 days til we go! Sun goes down and comes back around, 98 days til we go on the cruise! 98 days til we go on the cruise! 98 days til we go! Sun goes down and comes back around, 97 days til we go on the cruise! 97 days til we go on the cruise! 97 days til we go! ... 🎶 😁
  8. 17 points
    Final Thoughts: Where do I begin...? Let’s start with the ship itself. While the weather was a huge improvement from March, I still do not care for Quantum class. It’s not for me. @Matt mentioned yesterday while recording the podcast that it is a big ship with a small ship feel, but yet smaller ships (Voyager and Freedom Class) never feel as crowded as Anthem. My dislikes from my previous Anthem blog still remain. The WJ is a madhouse. The Esplanade does not move crowds. And crowds do not disperse well throughout this ship. While YMMV for motion, both times that I have sailed this ship, I have had to take meds for every sea day. I take zero meds on all OA class sailings. We Will Rock You remains my favourite broadway show that Royal does. Very talented cast both times. I like Spectra but this time it was not Terry LaVell, it was someone else who played Spectra so I felt that something was lacking there. The Gift still remains a mystery. Bermuda is beautiful. We really hope to go back one day. This sailing we dined exclusively in CK for dinner. The menu is your regular 7 night menu across the fleet. They repeated the Night 1 & 2 menu to make up for the 9 night sailing. I have the menus on PDF on the “Dining” section of the message boards. It is the same as Harmony and the rest of the fleet. I will provide the link when I get home. I did learn that CK on Ovation runs a slightly different CK menu for now. The service in CK on Anthem far exceeds OA class. Food the is the same excellent quality. Each night we received multiple check ins from the Maître D’ and the Chef. Stand out service. What really made this sailing was the people. Last night, I was saying to @Matt that what he’s been saying for years is true. On a GC, you can do as much or as little as you want together. It is so much fun to walk around the ship and constantly run into people that you know. Sailing with the group also provided us with the opportunity to do things that we normally would not do on a cruise, like sit in the Pub or play Jenga...well I did not play, but Hubby did. The people on this sailing were fantastic. I cannot even put into words how much I enjoyed meeting everyone in person (finally) and sharing laughs, drinks, and time with them. Even more proud to support and be a part of the Royal Caribbean Blog community now. To the regulars here on the message boards, @Matt, @tiny260, @betatke1480, @CGTLH, @Michael Vitale, @l9dance, @josepena12, meeting you all in person was nothing short of awesome! You are all amazing people! And if you ever sail with @crzycatldy5 you want her on your team for the Crazy Quest! She rocks! If there are any other questions, feel free to ask. If not, thank you for following along. Sorry for not blogging as much this time. And I barely scoped, I left that up to @josepena12 so make sure to check out his scopes for coverage of the GC. Obviously @Matt provided lots of coverage as well @theRCLblog on periscope. Until next time...oh wait! That is in 14 days! 😃 This must be how @twangster feels 😆
  9. 17 points

    Amplified Schedule dates

    I took a few minutes to see when the upcoming dry docks are scheduled and this is what I found. With the below take into account some days will be taken up getting the ship to and from dry dock ports and to and from the USA - Europe region . Oasis of the Seas 2019 - It appears her final voyage before dry dock is a Western med that leaves 15th September 2019, dry dock seems to be 22nd September with her first voyage back over the pond being November 24th Voyager of the Seas 2019 It appears her final voyage before dry dock is Hong Kong to Singapore that leaves 3rd September 2019, dry dock seems to be 10th September till 21st October 2019 Allure of the seas 2020 - It appears her final voyage before dry dock is a transatlantic that leaves 1st March 2020, dry dock seems to be 13th march till 10th may. Explorer of the Seas 2020 - It appears her final voyage before dry dock is a Southern Caribbean that leaves 21st February 2020, dry dock seems to be 1st March till 7th may for her European season. Freedom of the Seas 2020 It appears her final voyage before dry dock is a Southern Caribbean that leaves 5th January 2020, dry dock seems to be 12th January till 8th March. Adventure of the Seas 2021 - The schedule are not out yet beyond April 2021 with no sign of dry dock in those first 4 months Liberty of the Seas 2021 - The schedule are not out yet beyond April 2021 with no sign of dry dock in those first 4 months
  10. 17 points

    Travel agent success story

    This is our first time using a travel agent, which I decided to do after listening to about 10 podcasts. 😂. Well, lo and behold she called me earlier this week. Our cruise went down almost $800!!!! Such awesome news and reinforced to me to always use a travel agent for cruises in the future!
  11. 16 points

    Rumor has it?

    I made Royal an offer they couldn't refuse.
  12. 15 points

    Your Future Vision for RCCL

    Overall I'm pretty pleased with Royal which is why I am here. This is how to make it better: Keep cruising affordable. Improve the website. Add free texting across the fleet using wifi based chat applications such as iMessage, WhatsApp or FB Messenger. More airlines offer this now for free. Time to allow it on ships. Stop trying to build chat into the Royal app and let people use what they use already. Royal talks about making vacation stress free, communicating with loved ones on board and at home makes vacations stress free. Migrate all ships to O3b Voom and leave the 1980 satellite technology where it belongs, in the past. Add technology to allow mirroring phones and tablets to cabin TVs Eliminate the Diamond happy hour binge drinking nightly event by removing it from the Diamond Lounge. This would solve the "How many Diamonds can you cram into a phone booth" effect in the lounge every night. Keep 3 drink coupons but expand the hours of use and quality of choices. Give Diamond members 30% off drink packages, move Diamond Plus to 40% off and Pinnacle to 50% off drink packages. Even at those rates there is still profit to be had. Currently many guests at these C&A levels don't buy drink packages or drinks at all, relying on the nightly happy hour for drinks. These changes would increase DX revenue and reduce happy hour costs, a combined win-win. Deal with chair hogs by actually enforcing the rules and do so consistently across the fleet Add USB outlets to all ships, add power outlets by the beds Clarify dining package rules. State exactly what is included, apply this consistently across the fleet Make all rules consistent and apply them consistently across the fleet. Be consistent with every thing across the fleet. Make Sea and Sky suite class available on all ships with consistent benefits across the fleet. Star class can remain exclusive to OA/QU. Smoke free casinos across the fleet. If Celebrity can do it, so can Royal.
  13. 15 points
    Last night of the cruise... 😢 4 rounds of farewell shots! What a great cruise! @Matt thank you again for this fantastic community that you have created! Cheers! Recap tomorrow. That’s all 😉
  14. 14 points

    Matt in top 10 - We call him #1

  15. 14 points

    Hi I'm Jane and I'm an overpacker!

    So I just got done reading @Whizbank live blog and she stated that she would pack lighter next time. I'm now sitting and looking at the suitcase I'm going to have trouble closing today. Ugh! So thought I'd share some things I'm going to do for the European cruise this summer (16 days in Barcelona and on the ship) as an accountability post lol. Please chime in with suggestions and encouragement lol. I know like the drink pkg we have beaten this to death, but hey, it's fun! 1. Royal has amazing storage in their rooms, both interior and outside.I have sailed 5 classes now and fit everything every time. Majesty had a dinky closet but a great big side table and window ledge. Others have hidden shelves, ottomans, other closets. Obviously the longer cruises are a bit more challenging which leads to.... 2. Rewear! I have favorites that I take on every cruise that I could totally wear over. Some things I will wash when I get home that I only wore once (or not at all) and they aren't even really dirty. I get if it's super hot you might have to selectively rewear, but I don't pack that way. 7 days, pack for 9 lol. Ugh! Do I need 2 formal dresses? Heck no. Is it ok if people are me in the same outfit twice... Absolutely. Do I need extra clothes not at all... That's where #3 comes in... 3. Laundry! I will freely admit I haven't used it in the ship and I won't risk any favorite clothes (I worry about too hot dryers). But I spend everywhere else...Porters, drink pkg, extra 2 dollars for my favorite 🍷 etc.... A bag of laundry will not kill me to pay for! And my bathing suits, etc, are wet when I came back...I can hand wash them in the shower. Now again, with how long everything takes to dry I am not bringing detergent and hanging everything... But a small stain is solvable by a quick rinse. 4. Packing cubes.... That was a long thread earlier. I personally love them but didn't use them correctly. I was in 3 different places pre-cruise, cruise and post-cruise. I should have packed the cubes that way rather than every time I wanted an outfit having to go through different ones. I could have put my pre-cruise two outfits in a bag with a bathing suit and pair of jammies and never opened the rest! 5. Shoes.... Sigh. I did do better this time. I wore my tennis shoes on the plane and once again, it wasn't necessary for me personally to have them. I will just wear my walking sandals on the plane too. I took my lighter weight sandals this time and didn't fuss with the 3 inch heals I would wear once or twice. I actually packed 2 pairs of flip flops in case one pair broke....omg WHY? Which leads to... 6. This next cruise no matter what I'm going with the Rick Steve's packing rule which I never do but am going to start! I love his travel blogs and YouTube videos and he says "always pack for the expected, not the unexpected". Ok...I'm a pack for the unexpected....my shoe might break, my phone cord might break, I might spill coffee on my 4 sweaters... All 4! All the unexpected back-ups come home unused and talking up space. I'm not traveling to the middle of Africa where I might have trouble getting something!!!! (If you are, you are probably better at packing than I am anyway and not reading this!). Next time I will truly try and follow this. Heck I will pack a $100 extra dollars just for things I might need to get and when I don't, take myself out to a nice Cafe somewhere! 7. Go with your history and your gut. Every trip I pack shorts "just in case I feel like wearing them" and workout clothes "just in case I want to work out". Ok...I've now been on 6 cruises. Not once have I put on shorts or tshirts (Im a sundress girl) and the only time I've set for in the fitness center is to take pics on day one. If I haven't used something at home (do I really want that dress) or on a ship, it is just not gonna get used here! 8. Compare with the other lovely people in your family. In March my family brilliantly brought 3 tubes of toothpaste. Seriously. We all packed our regular travel kits and we all have toothpaste. Oh well. Next time I'm going back to the family ziplocks...1 toothpaste and common shampoo, soap, etc. And I'm getting slightly better at judging amount we use. For example, I love using the bath & body works squirt soap better than the bars. They smell nice and I just like them. We don't need a whole bottle...I can bring a half-used one and then I have 2 more oz and space at the end of the trip! Same goes for shampoo, lotion, etc! 9. Suitcase stuffing. I'm a stuffer. If the suitcase is at 40 lbs and not full, I can stuff just one more extra dress or pair of shoes just in case. Nope. The problem is that it takes me forever to fit everything in at home. I don't have that time on the trip and what happens is I frantically stuff everything in and one day I'm gonna break the zipper. I have had to buy and check an extra suitcase at Disney before (ok...I could get into souvenir shopping here. I didn't buy the rum in Nassau because I knew I wouldn't have the space or weight lol). So next time, things will fit better at the start. I will do what you are supposed to... Pack and then unpack and take out a bunch you don't need! Because I don't need the stress at the end of the trip! So I've now spent time I should have been packing avoiding it but when I get home, this is what's I'm going to re-read before I pack!!!!!! Jane
  16. 14 points
    We are beyond excited! I think I read this blog every day for the last two months! Thanks @Matt !! The information here is priceless and the people are amazing! Tomorrow we board the Navigator of the Seas!! As Bart Scott said years ago... “Can’t Wait!!”
  17. 14 points

    Rumor has it?

    I heard that Royal has the best IT department. 😳😂
  18. 13 points

    CATS - the movie 😮

    No. No. No. They're creepy and not like original cast creepy. I see the trailer and just get creeped out. Also, this just reminds me of Barf from Space Balls.
  19. 13 points
    When I took my first cruise on Vision in March 2015, I could not have predicted that I would be sailing her again so quickly as my 7th cruise and my 3rd one this year!!! While I think this is the last hurrah for a while (we have rhapsody scheduled for next spring break, but the family wants some land trips to disney and london and my credit cards are screaming in agony lol), it is going to be an amazing trip. The set-up: 2 years ago ish, we started looking at Europe Itineraries. We were getting ready to turn 50 and had wanted to do Europe forever, but Disney kept getting in the way 🙂 As soon as the itineraries came out, we saw the 12 day on Vision. I truly wish that we were on a different ship in that I really wanted to try radiance class, but I enjoyed Vision as my first ship. We wanted to do something different though, and we looked at the ultra spacious family room. We only had 3 people traveling...more on that in a sec...and Sharla at MEI was able to grab 4032 for us. It has a separate little bunk room for our 16 year old and a large couch/seating area. There will be tons of storage and room to move around. I don't usually care about our space much, but this will be nice since the whole trip will be 16 days with our pre-cruise stay in barcelona. Those of you with teenagers know that some space will definitely be needed! We thought about a balcony, but because Vision is so small and older, the balcony rooms are a lot pricier than on some of the newer ships. In some ways I wish we'd tried jr suite...we'd have gotten 24 points!...but this trip is already a huge reach for us, so we will enjoy our different room with a big window and enjoy the ocean breezes on the outside decks! The travelers: Jane (mom2mybugs), Jeff (the husband who doesn't love cruising as much as I do but is really looking forward to the ports) and Madison (16, who is very much excited for Europe). In retrospect, we should have also booked our 22 year old and 20 year old on the cruise as well. 2 years ago, we figured they'd both be working, but Morgan is still finding her perfect post-college job and John just got back from a study abroad in Germany and can't find a 6 week job. I'm not sure we could have afforded to bring them with air-fare, excursions, etc, but booking them at the beginning would have given us the flexibility if it wanted them to come. I looked at adding them a few months ago, and the muster stations were full and the cost to put them in another room (even interior) was insane. So they will be staying with the 2 members of the family that I will be missing dreadfully (the 2 schnauzer puppies!) and basically keeping the house hopefully standing! Madison is usually a huge teen center kid...we hardly see her at all on the cruises because she meets people and ditches us immediately. We aren't expecting nearly as many teens on this trip as we see in the Caribbean on spring break cruises. However, she is not as stressed because the port days are so long and she is planning on lots of family time. I am hopeful that she will find a couple girls to hang with in the evenings and on the sea days, because Jeff and I are pretty boring and we'd also like a little us time! The itinerary: Amazing! July 24--Fly out of Chicago O'Hare at 630pm, arrive Barcelona at 9:50 July 25-28 Barcelona. We have a barcelona city card, a barcelona day tours 1/2 day tour (they will pick us up from the airport) and a segrada familia ticket. We will just roam around and eat/drink! We are staying at an airbnb very close to the segrada familia. It has a tiny balcony, 2 bathrooms and bedrooms and is out of the tourist area. We thought about staying near the ramblas, but really wanted to not exhaust ourselves before the trip. We can easily metro it looks like and we should be able to see a fair amount. We are still trying to decide if we will go to Tarragona (Roman Ruins), Sitges (beach town) or both on a day trip (train out by ourselves, or do a 100 euro tour)...I still can't decide. I don't want to race around, but i will regret not seeing the aquaduct and other ruins. I'm very worried about the heat in europe though...my daughter tends to drag/mope/get herself sick in heat and my husband isn't in great shape. We may just do the tour because it is easy and the van will be air conditioned. Oh yeah, and Jeff and I will celebrate our 29th anniversary on the 28th! July 29 Board Vision of the Seas early....yep...I'm one of the those people who are there before security opens! I am so excited! July 30 Cannes No tour scheduled. Either we will do the public crowded beach or take a taxi out to a more quiet location. Didn't want to spend a ton here since the other excursions are crazy expensive. July 31 Florence (well La Spezia). I know someday I will get back to Italy. After Paris it is a true bucket list trip. However, i am trying to tell myself that I will go back over and over. It is going to be hot, crowded and we are cruising into a port a fair distance from Florence, Rome and Athens. So we did all tours with Royal. We are skipping Pisa since time is limited, and just doing Florence. I really really wanted to buy an Uffizi ticket on my own but I can't quite figure out how much free time we have and I know that I wouldn't have more than a couple hours. I think we are better off just finding one of @Traveler's gelato places and relaxing. It will kill me...I'm a go/go/go hit every museum person but I'm trying to make my mantra "Pace/pace/pace!" Aug 1 Rome (again...not actually rome but far out). We did a tour that will get us into the vatican museum and st. peters and I will see the Sistine chapel along with a gazillion of my close personal friends. It will be packed. I will be heartbroken if things are too crowded or the pope closes something, but again, I'm telling myself nothing is a have to...I will be back!!! We will drive past the coliseum, but i traded that entry for the religious art! Aug 2 & 3 Sea days! Much needed relaxation in my happy place on my sky deck chair near the bar! I have my paperback books, my sunscreen and my chair clips! I am tempted to do the thriller dance class which i think would be fun, but might involve me getting off my deck chair or not getting one in time, so maybe not! Aug 4 Athens! I heard they closed the acropolis for 6 hours because of the extreme heat. I am hoping this doesn't happen while we are there, but they will find something for us to do. This is the port I'm the most worried about heat and water consumption. Hoping nobody gets heatstroke. Aug 5 Mykenos Jeff will celebrate his 51st birthday in Greece! Because he is a high school social studies teacher, one of my majors was history and Madison is looking at anthropology/archaeology as a potential college major, we are going to the ancient ruins in Delos. This will also be hot. Really Really hot. Hoping the fact that we are done by noon will help. This will be a very cool port stop though! Aug 6 Santorini This is the stop that originally i was really pumped about, and now I'm hoping we survive. There are 4 or 5 ships in port that day, so it will be crazy crazy crowded and hot. We are simply going to do a tour of Oia, walk around a bit, and then hit a cafe for some wine. I think this stop will be a take pictures and soak up atmosphere because I feel like it will be over-tourists. I don't think we will get back to Greece, and so I hope we can see what we want and enjoy whatever we are able to do. Aug 7 Sea day! I loved this itinerary because it gave me sea days to relax on a port intensive cruise. Again, Vision is a bitty ship, so I think we will enjoy some trivia, my deck chair will call my name and I will spend my $20 on the quarter game in the casino. Aug 8 Valetta, Malta We are doing the blue grotto and fishing village tour. It will be relaxing, we will see the beautiful caves and water, and I'm actually looking very forward to not having a lot of ships here. Apparently they filmed some of Game of Thrones here? Means nothing to me but since Jeff and my son have been binge watching the first few seasons this summer, he might recognize something! Aug 9 Last Sea Day. And that dreaded day of having to get packing! Ugh. I have never done a cruise over 7 days and I think it will be amazing. However, I will not be looking forward to going back to work (in education, August is gear up for the year time lol!). Aug 10 Back in Barcelona. We have a 355 flight so we had some options. We didn't want to hang at the airport all day so we considered the option to stay on the boat. I thought that would be pretty depressing...all these excited people just starting their trip and we would have to be going home. So we decided to do the montserrat trip and airport transfer. We had been trying to figure out montserrat earlier and decided it would be a fun last day activity and we wouldn't have to worry about the airport transfer or catching a cab. It says it is good for any flight after 3 and will get us to the airport by 1215. I will be stressed about getting through security but i know really we have plenty of time. Dining and Extras: We bought a 4 day dining pkg. I would have considered the udp, but there are only 3 specialty restaurants on vision, and we don't want to do them that much. We will go to giovannis on Jeff's bday, chops, izumi and I think chops a 2nd time. I've never gotten fish at chops, so i'm tempted to try it one time. Chops is a trickier restaurant for my vegetarian girl, but she can live on the sides!!! And the dessert!!! Jeff and I also are doing Chef's table again. We have done it twice before, and I know this is a repeat menu but I enjoy it a lot, and I'm hoping I get the world again for dessert! We are going my time dining this time, and expect that we will hit the windjammer a couple nights (esp. Rome and Athens) because we will be tired. We booked middlish times...630ish...because if madison does want to meet people, she can, but we didn't want to do too early. We are kinda getting tired of the scheduling specialty at 530 or 6 for her, so we might schedule stuff a bit later and tell them she is leaving. Then we can have dessert and coffee together. I haven't really checked out show times, etc., since the compasses out there have been pretty old. However, again, we can either try to get an earlier table at my time, or skip the dining room if there is something we really want to see. We are going team drink pkg as usual...it is close for jeff in terms of price, and i totally benefit. I also think we will be drinking a ton of water, so that will totally make up the difference, plus sending jeff for my morning latte! We snagged it on a sale for $48 and then upgraded to $57 for the voom. Voom will be spotty...vision is not known for its good internet...but i want to be able to check email and facebook message the kids back home. Plus, if we get signal, I will try and periscope for sure (I think I'm mom2mybugs there). I will also try to blog. I have to try and find the email that had the info on the picture compresser thing. So that is it....I'm doing a week long babysitting live-in job that pays for a lot of our plane tickets so i'm crazy busy until Sunday. Then its drs appointments, last minute pedicures and on our way wednesday!!!!! So can't wait to share my first experiences in these amazing ports. Jane
  20. 12 points
    No love for me. Deluxe bev pkg is still only $52 with BOGO50 / 25% off. C’mon Royal!! Where’s that intern with another $18 sale for all 2019 sailings?!?
  21. 12 points

    Freedom of the Seas Fatality?

    This is why many of us are voicing our thoughts in this thread. We all have compassion and feel terrible about the loss of life. If the family hadn't attacked the cruise line with such tenacity refusing to accept any blame or admit it was simply a terrible accident many of us would have remained silent and grieved with them.
  22. 12 points
    I think you still have your polite teacher hat on. Let me translate to vacation-speak...
  23. 12 points
    Day 3 - Bermuda Today marked our first time in Bermuda. Seeing that we have never visited the island before, we opted out of a beach excursion and decided to book a mini bus tour of the entire island. This tour is available through the cruise line or Viator. We opted to go with the cruise line directly. The cost was $89pp (Lowest at Black Friday) and it was well worth it. At 5 hours in length, the tour brings you literally around the entire island. Stops included Hamilton, St. George’s, and Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse. We lucked out in that our tour guide was very talkative, informative, and as he put it, “does not sugar coat anything”. I knew it would be a great tour as soon as he made that comment as I am the same way. Our tour did not feel particularly rushed. He even had time to let us get off at St. John’s beach for a bit (that was unplanned). We learned a lot about Bermuda today, the history of the island and their way of life in current day. I would most definitely recommend this to anyone visiting for the first time. It truly gives you a comprehensive, overall feel for the island. If we are fortunate to return, we now know which places we would want to focus in on. Attaching some pics from our day. 📸: Hubby St. George Square St. John Beach Gibb’s Hill Lighthouse View from the lighthouse Our lunch stop today was in St. George’s. There are several little shops and bakeries in that area. We ended up at a local sandwich shop called Temptations. Great little place and friendly service.
  24. 12 points
    Pub Crawl #shotsberg style
  25. 12 points
    I was this close to @Lovetocruise2002 having her first tequila shot. Alas, there’s always tomorrow.
  26. 12 points
    It’s cruise day!!! That’s all for now 😊
  27. 12 points
    Backtracking a bit a today was a busy day! I need a cruise from all this land vacation nonsense! 😂 I think I left off this morning with the Naked Cowboy. He was the first thing we saw after the tour started. But just in case you missed the earlier post, here are some that D12 caught on her camera 🤣 The Viator tour was hectic but very comprehensive. Money well spent as we saw tons of sights. However, if you ever plan to do this tour, be ready to move and walk. Here are pics from around the city. 📸: Mostly all Hubby and one D10. Times Square (last night) The Lulubot always can find a home base. Hornblower Cruises Junior Photographer in training: Her work. 📸: D10 9/11 Memorial Rushing to get back for the pizza meet up:
  28. 12 points

    What was your first cruise?

    U.S.S. Yosemite, 1974-1978.
  29. 12 points
  30. 11 points

    Anthem OTS July 13-18 Not so Live

    Didn't bring my laptop so I couldn't do a live blog and my sausage fingers don't work so well on my smart phone. The Anthem was FANTASTIC and so was Bermuda. For those of you who have cruised her, you know what I mean. The 270 was a mind blower! Twangster was on point when he recommended getting something for breakfast or lunch at the 270 Cafe and eating in the 270 and enjoy the view. By the way, the Kummelweck sandwiches in the 270 Cafe were to die for! We did the Silent Disco there one night and saw Spectra's Cabaret twice, what a show. I wanted to meet the tech guy that ran the show before it began (Cush) but he wasn't there yet. But I did meet his assistant. Nice young man who graduated form the University of Vermont this year and has only been on the job for 4 weeks. I asked him how he liked it and he almost broke his face smiling! We had a junior suite (our first time) and it was nice, especially with a full bathroom and a half bathroom. Junior Suites from now on! We had dinner in the MDR Grande and the Coastal Kitchen, breakfast in the Solarium and lunch in the 270 (did I mention those fantastic Kummelweck sandwiches?). The first night when the head waiter came to our table I asked why there weren't any savory bite briskets and she told us that the bakers on all the Royal ships don't do those anymore because a lot of people didn't eat them. But, she said i we would like some she would talk to the baker and viola, every night we had them, even in the CK! We had the key and it worked like magic. Talk about dirty looks when we disembarked on the 18th with the Key guide and cut in front of line! Oh well....Will we do the key again, absolutely. Only complaint we had was about the Solarium. Very hot, even on cruise days. Could not open any windows. Explanation was after the the storm the Anthem went through in 2016 Royal decided to keep the Solarium windows locked shut. Apparently the ship took on a lot of water during that storm though the open windows which caused a lot of flooding and damage. Well, now Royal has their own meteorologist and it would seem to me that he could warn the Anthem about an approaching storm with enough time for them to "batten the hatches". Oh yeah, we went to Vintages for a Margarita and were told they didn't have ANY Tequila left. Seems as though a group from the previous 9 day cruise consumed all they had. Wonder who that was? PS - This cruise pushed us over the 80 points and we are now Diamond level!!!!!
  31. 11 points
    It’s’ cruise day! Currently on the train from Anchorage to Seward. I had a detailed post from yesterday however, it wouldn’t let me post and I didn’t save my post. I realized because I wasn’t entering my email address. I think we were awake for almost 24 hours yesterday. Spent half the day traveling and half the day exploring the Anchorage area. The Crow Pass Trail to Crystal Lake was absolutely stunning. Took about 4 hours round trip. Took great photos and even saw a Dal Sheep. So excited for our day. The train ride is stunning so far. Doing a 6 hour wildlife cruise when we arrive in Seward and then starting our cruise. I will attempt to post photos on my phone. May need to wait till laptop access
  32. 11 points

    Your Future Vision for RCCL

    Better functioning website.
  33. 11 points

    Cruise Planner Sale July 15, 2019

    I suspect the intern is triple checking everything, potentially at their new job somewhere else.
  34. 11 points

    Royal Caribbean first ever aircraft?

    Got me!!!!. As my kids would say, don't I feel sheepish?!!!!
  35. 11 points

    B2B Cruises?

    The #1 problem solved is the fact that most cruises are too short. For someone who has to fly to a cruise a B2B saves airfare compared to taking two distinct cruises. B2B allows you to unpack and unwind. You don't need to take in every show because you can catch one on the next cruise. Cruises are great but if you try to do everything offered in one cruise you may end up exhausted and need a vacation from your vacation. Take Oasis class. It's hard to participate in everything offered during a 7 night cruise. More often than not you have to pick something but miss out on something else. When you go a B2B you can do some things on one cruise and different things on the next. Really enjoyed one show? See it again! B2B also lets you try different things in repeated ports while exposing you to new ports that are not common to both itineraries. One visit you can go to a beach and relax, the repeat visit you can go on an ATV or tubing in a cave or you can stay on the ship and enjoy the ship empty of most guests. B2B solves the FOMO issue while leaving even more time to relax. B2B also means one more week of not doing the dishes, cooking or cleaning. I have a B3B booked. Three cruises in a row on the same ship. B2B is cool, B3B is the next level.
  36. 11 points

    How Much Annual Leave Do You Get?

    I have all my weekends off and only have a "workday" every other Monday........I'm retired and volunteer at our local NC Aquarium every other Monday.
  37. 11 points
    2 weeks ago on Mariner playing the wheel of fortune machine with the gold spin. I hit a gold spin and it landed on 15 x multiplier and then the wheel of fortune hit $250 so it was a $250 x 15. $3,750.00. Fun night in the casino.
  38. 11 points
  39. 11 points
    I just noticed for my sailing it's usually 75.81 CAD a day and it was just posted for 23.94 a day (so we booked it). Will RC honour this if it was some sort of error on their end? Has anyone ever encountered something like this before?
  40. 11 points
    Support for the argument of arriving early...
  41. 11 points
    Happy 4th of July WJ style! Updated with action shot...
  42. 11 points
    Looks like they're honoring the drink package! I'm so happy I shared it and a lot of people got one heck of a deal! Cheers everyone!
  43. 11 points
    I guess what I'm having difficulty with us why people are so irate. They knew it was a mistake and they are infuriated that it won't be honored. I get that RC initially said they would, and that it's annoying....another reason for us to shake our heads at the IT department and how the different departments aren't talking. But I'm not going to stop cruising royal like some people are threatening. Good grief. This company was immensely fair over my Cuba trip and this drink thing doesn't remotely impact my experience on the ships. Wish people would get a little perspective. Jane
  44. 11 points
    Headed out for our mani/pedi and just got this message from a dear friend of mine who is trying to get together: Proof that even in real life the cruise addiction is evident 😂
  45. 11 points

    Melody of the Seas

    Well if it's on FB it must be true.
  46. 11 points

    What was your first cruise?

    My first cruise was a shakedown cruise on a brand new warship, USS Biddle (DLG/CG 34)
  47. 11 points
    Ok, finally finding a little time to hook up the keyboard to the iPad and update! Days 1 and 2 - pre cruise: We flew out of Terminal 2 at the Mpls/St Paul area on Wednesday afternoon - my husband is terrified of flying, but we had a very smooth flight and his drugs lasted almost long enough. We’ll have to get another dose into him before landing next time - landing is not his favorite part of the flight! We grabbed an Uber from SeaTac and scored a very entertaining Uber driver for the drive to our hotel. We stayed at The Inn at El Gaucho in Belltown on 1st Avenue. I’ll add some photos in a bit (they are on my phone, I have to add them separately). It was nothing short of wonderful. It’s a small, 17-room, boutique hotel with a very laid-back, friendly atmosphere. The only drawback that I could see is that if you cannot navigate two flights of stairs it’s not for you, as there is no elevator (there is a luggage elevator but it can hold no passengers. Even the staff just loads the luggage on and walks down the stairs to meet the elevator). The evening front desk maven is Lee (fondly known by those who stay frequently/live there as Mama Lee). She is a wealth of information, and extremely welcoming. Each night in the beautiful lobby they have complimentary wine, which we took full advantage of. We will likely not consider staying anywhere else when we visit Seattle again in the future. It was a reasonably close walk to Pike Place (4-5 blocks, but who’s counting after wine?) On Wednesday night (after some wine, of course) we walked 2 blocks away and had dinner at Kaarage Satsuma - Mr SpeedNoodles had Kaarage Chcken and Setsuna fries - I had ramen. Everything was pretty amazing, at a good price, and filling. We then walked down to The Crocodile (home of grunge) where we had tickets to see Har Mar Superstar. As a side note, Har Mar Superstar originated in the Twin Cities and performed in his home town of Owatonna a week before we sailed, which is very close to our house, but we decided to just see him in Seattle. Prom Queen opened for him, and she was fabulous. On Thursday we got up and walked down to Pike Place Market, had some breakfast, then walked down and jumped on an Argosy Locks Tour cruise. It leaves out of the area next to the big Ferris wheel, goes north and takes you through the locks and Lake Union. I highly recommend this tour as well - it was the second time we’ve done it and it’s always enjoyable and informative. We had some drinks and appetizers at Pike Brewery, did a little shopping (Metzger’s Maps, The Purple Store, and Robot Sloth were of particular interest to me), went back for happy hour and then just had dinner in the El Gaucho restaurant below the hotel, then turned in for the night. The Inn at El Gaucho : "Wine" lobby Kaarage Satsuma: Karaage Chicken: Ramen: Plate that I wanted to steal, but didn't.
  48. 10 points

    Freedom of the Seas Fatality?

    Michael Winkleman, a Miami-based attorney hired by Chloe’s family, said her grandfather put the girl on a ledge near a window in a children’s area, but was unaware that the window was open. "Essentially her grandfather lifts her up and puts her on a railing and where he thinks that there is glass there because it's clear, but it turns out there was no glass there," he said. "She goes to bang on the glass like she would have at one of those hockey rinks, and the next thing you know, she's gone." I just read this a few minutes ago and I don't buy it. The windows on the pool deck all have a blue tint to them and every one of the open windows has a noticeable breeze and ambient sounds coming through (even in port). Not to mention that even freshly cleaned windows are not perfectly clear. Also, putting a child that young on a railing is risking injury even if there were glass there. I'm heartbroken for the family and I can't even imagine the grandfather's feelings of guilt, but, I don't think this is Royal Caribbean's fault.
  49. 10 points
    Festive Drink of the Day, Firecracker
  50. 10 points
    Lava flow meet up: Scope: https://www.pscp.tv/w/b-5NvTF4TlFhYVJPT2V3UWJ8MVprSnpya1B3elJKds32MENmGXo_Mk8-YWRE6uMkEzudvixUcukQ2OBa4TdR https://www.pscp.tv/w/b-5N3TF4TlFhYVJPT2V3UWJ8MU9kS3J2UnJNZ3pLWFVKU8orwHrnNph3vXXPf2OHbj78KjmQhhmA2N5P0XGD
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