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Showing content with the highest reputation since 07/18/2019 in all areas

  1. 28 points
    In the words as sung by Britney Spears... 🎵 Oops, I Did it Again 🎵 For those who are wondering what is he talking about? (or thinking I've enjoyed one too many happy hour drinks) I just finished 14 nights on this little beauty last week. You can read about that B2B experience here: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/14213-empress-b2b-14-nights-on-the-biggest-little-ship-july-2019/ Those cruises were great but they were Western Caribbean and this 8 night cruise is Eastern Caribbean including a stop at Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Royal hasn't visited the BVI very much in recent years so when I saw the BVI added to the itinerary in the wake of the Cuba cancellations I knew I had to do it. Icing on my cake comes courtesy of another visit to Perfect Day at CocoCay. Itinerary Miami Perfect Day at CocoCay Sea Day San Juan Tortola St Thomas Sea Day Sea Day Miami Our Perfect Day ends at 2pm so we can make it to San Juan for a 3pm arrival after a day at sea. We stay until midnight in San Juan so if all goes well I hope to get some evening and night pictures around San Juan. Sailing in a Junior Suite I have scored one of the most forward deck 9 JS cabins this time. I love this small ship and her big heart. It's a good thing I love this ship because this will be my fourth cruise on her. My Crown and Anchor points haven't been posted yet from my last cruise on her so with the "paint still wet", I'm heading back to the love of my life, or at least the love of my life right now. Because I'm flying I don't like taking just one cruise so with a night off the water in between, I'm doing a side-to-side over to Majesty right after this cruise. A few years ago I started dreaming about a tour of the small ships and this marks another step towards completing that goal. I think I set a record this time having packed my suitcase a full two days before the cruise. Basically I took my cruise clothes from the dryer and put them right back into my suitcase. " You see my problem is this I'm dreaming away Wishing that heroes, they truly exist I cry, watching the days Can't you see I'm a fool in so many ways But to lose all my senses That is just so typically me Oh baby, oh " Okay that doesn't make total sense but it's the only part of the lyrics that somewhat fit so I'm going with it.
  2. 25 points
    Cruise Summary Don't let the pictures fool you, Empress is not a large ship. Cabins from interior to suites are not as generous as they are on newer and larger ships. In some cases the pullman beds for 3rd and 4th guests that are flush into the ceiling on other ships are mounted externally to the walls. This is what cruising was like in the mid-80's when she was originally ordered by Admiral Cruises. Incidentally that is also how Royal Caribbean found themselves in possession of CocoCay - through the acquisition of Admiral Cruises. It is fitting to visit CocoCay while sailing Empress. On Empress you'll find a Royal Caribbean ship with all the core cruising essentials and more - a pool, hot tubs, kids splash area, a pool bar, a Viking Crown Lounge, a Windjammer, a Main Dining Room, Chops Grille, Schooner Bar, Boleros, Main Theater entertainment, Casino, game shows, trivia, rock climbing wall, pool deck activities, live music and dancing. When I booked these cruises I wasn't hesitant about booking B2B or 14 nights on Empress because I know and love this ship. What I should have done is booked B3B or B4B as some of others that I ran into daily had done. Did I miss a Diamond Lounge? Not really. The regular top Crown and Anchor members had our regular spot and we would see each other there nightly. We enjoyed our three free Diamond Happy Hour drinks. The bartenders took care of us. I still maintain that Chops Grille on Empress is the best Chops in the fleet. Large windows to the sea with great service and great food. Without question Boleros on Empress is the best in the fleet. There is no inherent motion simply because she is a small ship. Some nights I accidentally left my bathroom door open and it was never swinging or creaking in the night. With only 1,840 guests maximum it never feels crowded. Certain events were popular and well attended but not overly packed. Voom. Like any ship that uses the older satellite technology there are times when Voom struggles on Empress just like it does on other ships that use the old technology. I hope the IT Manager's request for an O3b upgrade comes through, that would make Empress the perfect ship. The new Empress itineraries that include small ship ports look outstanding. St George's and Hamilton? Montreal? Wow! Perfect Day - just wow! I'm glad to see the classic CocoCay beach experience remains with Chill Island but with new food and beverage additions. Oasis Lagoon is massive and really nice. The complimentary choices mean you don't have to spend a dime to have a Perfect Day but when you want to AMP up your vacation there are choices like Thrill Waterpark to do so. Captain Jack's and Skipper's Grill with their patios overlooking the Harbor Lagoon are places where you just want to hang out. The large paved pathway that circles CocoCay is friendly to accessible needs, much more so than CocoCay ever was before. Louis the Loyalty Ambassador once again took great care of me. With no Diamond Concierge Louis helped to fill that void. Julie our Hotel Director put it best. She is a small ship but she has the biggest heart plus you can get anywhere in 5 minutes or less. This is a huge benefit of small ship cruising. The majority of the crew report up through the Hotel Director and If these crew and the great service are a reflection of the Hotel Director then Julie has done an outstanding job on Empress. There is a part of me that wants to perpetuate a myth that everyone should avoid this ship. Only then will prices remain low and I can have her all to myself but that wouldn't be fair to the ship or her crew that make Empress not only the biggest little ship but the Royal ship with the biggest heart. I hoped you enjoyed following along and I thank you for viewing.
  3. 24 points
    With our fabulous dinner over around 10pm I was too full to retire so I changed into shorts and went for a walk outside on deck 6. Venturing forward we were sailing into some sea mist from the warm waters yet cooling air and there were some clouds in the sky but I also glimpsed what I thought was something I've photographed before in the night sky. So I went back to grab my camera and mini tripod. I've often sailed into the sunset but tonight we were sailing into the milky way. Capturing the milky way requires long exposures but on a moving ship in the ocean it took some playing around to find some settings that worked. With the 10 to 15 second exposures I was using I managed to catch some lighting in a distant storm on the horizon. The bow is dark at night so the bridge crew can keep watch. The long exposures captured enough light to make the bow look like it's illuminated but it isn't, that's just low levels of ambient light The sea mist, clouds and moving ship didn't make for the best astrophotography conditions but I'm pleased with the results. More lightning: On land the stars would be more precise and clear, that's the problem with shooting from a moving platform, but I'll take the results.
  4. 23 points
    📸: Royal Caribbean International “Whenever you are with me, life plays a beautiful symphony!” --- Avijeet Das For Hubby and I, there is no better way to spend quality couple time together than to go on a cruise. We started off that way on our honeymoon back in 2002 and we have tried to get away around this time every year to celebrate our anniversary. Symphony was on our radar almost two years ago. Being huge OA class fans and having sailed every Oasis class ship so far, sailing this one was a given. I booked this cruise knowing that this summer would be our first chance to sail it since she spent last summer in Europe. Even upon booking back in the Fall of 2017, prices were crazy for this ship. However, because of fixed vacation times, that is just something that we are used to. How did the title for this blog come about? Other than being fond of cruising and shopping, I also love music. Trained in classical music since I was a little girl, and with a ship named Symphony, I could not resist to draw parallels between this blog title and music. So why Symphony No. 17? Symphonies written by the same composer are often given a generic name that involves a number so that one can identify which piece it is by that composer. Playing on that thought, this is cruise #17 for us, and, as coincidence would have it, it is also our 17th anniversary on this sailing. Notice the theme? In addition, a Symphony is typically written in four movements. So there lies the logic behind the rest of this title. I expect that those will be our four experiences on Symphony this sailing. <Music geek off> Let’s begin…
  5. 22 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. 20 points
    This topic has been discussed a bit here of late and I thought I would share my experience today. As many of you know, I track pricing on my bookings. Many have asked lately what happens when a cabin is "sold out" and if it would still be eligible for a re-price? I have had very good luck with this situation in the past. You can see how I go about doing it here. Yesterday I noticed that the current August promo includes KSF up until December 2020. We have the Villa booked on Harmony with 5 kids on that reservation under the age of 12. That cabin is obviously "sold out" as there is only one of those on the ship and we have it. I did a mock booking yesterday morning and checked it against my records and there appeared to be a price drop on the suites overall with the KSF promo. Later in the day, I emailed my TA and heard back this morning. Saved an extra $1315 with KSF even with a "sold out" cabin. The reason why I am sharing this is not to say that this will always be the case, but it does pay off to check and ask.
  7. 19 points
    Symphony Final Thoughts What a perfect week this has been. So different from our last few sailings with our kids, this one was the other extreme. So relaxing, and an abundance of down time. It was just what we needed to recharge. This ship is amazing, it did not disappoint one bit! However, is it my favourite now? I don’t know. If there is a noticeable price difference between HM and SY, I would have a really hard to picking the more expensive one over the other. I find both ships to be so similar to the point where there honestly were times that I forgot which one I was on. The entertainment was the same caliber as the rest of her sisters. The one that stood out the most was Flight. Other than the drones, 1977 was quite comparable to 1887. We enjoyed Hiro more than The Fine Line just slightly because we preferred the music and choreography of Hiro. I did miss the spinning guy though. The Broadway production is subjective. I still think We Will Rock You is best. YMMV. As far as dining goes, I love El Loco Fresh. Way better than Mini Bites on HM but not enough to justify the cost difference of SY. Coastal Kitchen/Suite Lounge is identical to HM. This was probably our least favourite CK experience though thus far. There was nothing that went wrong but they did not do anything to exceed expectations either, like others have in the past. If I had to put my “teacher hat” on, I would say they were just average, both the crew in there and the quality of the food. Good, but did not go above and beyond what was expected. Like I mentioned before, there was also some inconsistencies the earlier nights with the quality of the food itself. We still enjoyed our time here but if I were to rank it among our other times, this would not be ranked as high. In my opinion, that honour goes to Anthem’s CK. Both times we were there, the crew and quality of the meals were spot on and outstanding. So to wrap it up, I loved Symphony because she’s OA class. My favourite? It’s whichever one that has the lower priced loft suite between HM and SY. 😉 Please continue to ask any questions that I haven’t answered. @tiny260 and his DW tell me that this is a good place to end it. In the theme of seventeens, this is Page 17. 😊
  8. 18 points
    Cabin There is a story here… As noted earlier, this sailing was expensive! Newest ship, summer sailing, just bad news all around for the bank account. We initially booked a Junior Suite with the plan to upgrade to a GS if the prices dropped below “ridiculous” level. Upon booking, the cost of the JS was more than we paid for a GS on Harmony in 2017. Before continuing, let me put in the disclaimer here that this cruise was booked in November 2017, before experiencing Star Class. After grabbing this booking, I noticed over time that the opportunities for people staying in a JS to get into Coastal Kitchen consistently was not promising, especially on Oasis class ships. Being #TeamCK, this was not sitting well with me at all. However, prices over time jumped from ridiculous to beyond ridiculous so there was no way I was going to get into Sky Class. To complicate things further, we booked the Anthem GC for the same month and that sailing was not much cheaper. Fast forward to March 2019, while sailing Harmony (in Star Class), our Genie arranged for a Next Cruise rep to meet with us in our suite. With the upgrade for Symphony constantly on my mind, I asked her to price out a GS for us…just for fun. Due to a slight price drop, $300 OBC from Next Cruise, some TA deals, some wheeling and dealing on my part with Hubby during a dinner at Chops, and a Hubby who spoils me constantly, we said YOLO once again and cancelled our original JS booking and re-booked with the GS. We had to cancel the original to get the $300 OBC but it was fine because the original was a refundable deposit. After returning home and feeling the star class blues, we began reflecting on our sailing in a loft suite. There were several conclusions that we drew. One was that it was such a unique experience, two was that we fell in love with being in that location. Translation…I was hooked! Where do we go from there? I gently hinted to Hubby that it is cruise #17 for us, we are celebrating our 17th anniversary, why not just top off the celebration and go back to Deck 17?!!! That was the only logical conclusion for me! The answer from Hubby was, “How much?” Followed by, “No way, I just let you book us into Sky Class and we just paid final payment for two cruises in July.” True to my Stubborn Canadian Scorpio nature, I monitored the price constantly. About 60 days prior to sailing, the L1 dropped in price significantly. The difference to upgrade was about $800. Forget RoyalUp! At $400pp, Hubby agreed, and the theme of this cruise is No. 17 all the way! Pre-Cruise thoughts - Really looking forward to sailing Symphony, not just because it’s OA class but because all the entertainment will be new for us. - This is our first time in an L1 (Ocean facing Crown Loft Suite). It will be interesting to compare the width of the cabin to the Star Loft. The configuration should be essentially the same. - Because of major food fatigue from our Star Class sailing, we decided to cancel our UDP this cruise so it will be Coastal Kitchen for most meals. Hubby is determined to do WJ recon… - 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.
  9. 17 points
    Walking back to the ship I just had to capture it with some water blur effect and the nearly full moon. It was too early to go back on board so with several hours until all aboard time I wanted to go back to Paseo de la Princesa. I always enjoy stops that include the ability to take pictures of the ship at night so I couldn't let the opportunity go to waste. Time to head back on board.
  10. 17 points
    Quick update. Uber to port had me there just before 10am. I took the opportunity to take some pictures of terminal G, I’ll post those soon. Boarding started at 10:45am. First on board. I ran into the Pinnacle doing a B4B who was with me on my B2B. Julie our Hotel Director saw me and came over to chat greeting me by name. There will be 12 pinnacles on this sailing. It’s also the last cruise of her current contract. Jorge the Guest Services Manager saw me and welcomed me back. Right now I’m sitting at the Schooner Bar where Wayan and Roland recognized me and welcomed me back. Just like that I feel like I’m home.
  11. 17 points
    Interesting story from the previous 8 night Eastern Caribbean Empress cruise. A guest on my Empress B2B last week had been on for a month and she told me this story. Empress has a 2pm departure from CocoCay in order to make San Juan a day after a sea day. On the last run of this route, several guests missed the ship in CocoCay. Apparently they didn't note the 2pm departure. In one case a couple were enjoying CocoCay. Oblivious to the ship's whistle the woman went to get something to eat while the man went to a bar for a drink. When he presented his Empress SeaPass card they informed he was about to miss the ship and whisked him away in a golf cart. Unsure where the woman had gone he got back on board, she missed the ship and it left (late now) towards San Juan. Once she figured out she missed the ship, they put her on Mariner and she was taken to Port Canaveral. She then had to make her own arrangements to get to San Juan which she did at her expense. The problem is San Juan had some civil unrest and Empress skipped San Juan as a result. So she missed the ship again. This time, since Royal cancelled the call on San Juan they paid for her hotel and airfare to Tortola. Tortola doesn't have an airport so she flew to a neighboring island and had to take a water taxi over to Tortola where she finally re-joined the cruise. From what was explained to me they stated the excursion they booked said it ended at 3pm so they thought they were good until 3pm. A total of five guests missed the ship at CocoCay. Unsure what happened to the rest other than being put on Mariner for the ride over to Port Canaveral. Lesson learned. Even at CocoCay, don't miss the ship! Side note - when Empress skipped San Juan they had already taken on the San Juan pilot when Miami decided they should skip San Juan. Because the pilot had already boarded they were on the hook for the ~$10k pilot fee. Hoping we don't skip San Juan but an overnight in Tortola does sound very tempting.
  12. 17 points
    I've been getting a number of questions about how I shot the Milky Way photos. I shot this using a full frame Sony A7III with a Sony 12-24mm lens. A crop sensor body that most people shoot wouldn't be able to get this wide. The A7III also has really good low light performance, night and day from my last full frame body, a Nikon D750. Also keep in mind I have a pretty good investment in gear. Body and lens for this shot are ~ $3,700. Not trying to brag but let's keep expectations real. A <$1k kit can shoot the Milky Way and produce some nice results but maybe not achieve the same results. Camera settings shown at the top, Lightroom adjustments below that. Using Adobe Lightroom I added a lot of clarity and adjusted other light levels and white balance. This is why I shoot in RAW. There is a lot of data captured in a RAW file that can be manipulated using software such as Lightroom. Shooting in JPEG would lose all this extra data and you would never be able to achieve these results. This is how JPEG produces a lower file size, it throws away all the extra sensor data it doesn't need for a JPEG picture. A RAW file is much bigger because it contains all the raw sensor data that was captured. Original picture as it was captured on the left, final picture on the right after adjustments in Lightroom. The one on the left is closer to what you see with the human eye. Between the two brightest stars you can sort of see a cloud like area with the human eye that is the center or heart of the Milky Way. Keep in mind I've been shooting the Milky Way for several years now so I've got some previous experience on land with a firm tripod. On land you have more control and can take longer exposures, up to around 25 seconds for this focal length. That allows you to lower ISO or make other adjustments for better results. I wanted to keep the exposure shorter because of the ship's movement. I use an app called PlanIt Pro. It has an AR feature where you can hold up your phone, adjust the time or date and it will show you where the Milky Way will be at that moment in the future. After we left Belize heading North to Cozumel I used this app to see when and where the Milky Way would be on Night 11. This tells me the MWC (Milky Way Center) will be visible between 8:43pm and 3:07am. At 12:16am the MWC will be as shown for the location we are at this moment in time. On land that works well, on a moving ship you don't always know where your position will be in six hours or the heading of the ship hours later so there is some guess work and extrapolation involved, but at least you know what direction to find it. With a full moon the results would have suffered a lot. I don't try to shoot the night sky on land most of the moon phase, it works best without moon light. New moon was perfectly timed for me, that's just luck. For Costa Maya it was July 31st. The MWC in the Northern Hemisphere is visible at night in summer months only, you can't shoot the Milky Way in the winter up here but you can down under. There is also a lot of luck involved. Based on the cloud cover after leaving Belize pictured above the Milky Way would not be visible. I got pretty lucky two nights in a row with the ship heading South towards the Milky Way, on the right phase of the moon, without major cloud cover. Costa Maya and Belize are close so the ship was only moving at ~8 knots. I don't always bring my A7 with me, that's why I have the RX100VI - for travel. I threw the A7 in my backpack at the last minute. I was in the right place at the right time with cloud cover that was in my favor on a slow moving ship with the right gear. It's pretty rare to get all that working in your favor on a cruise, on a ship with a public area that is dark. I may never get another opportunity like this.
  13. 17 points
    Dinner Night 1: Coastal Kitchen French Onion Soup Caesar Salad Crispy Pork Belly Filet Mignon Rigatoni Already full from the day, we just shared a cheesecake 😊
  14. 16 points

    Swim Dress Code

    Sigh. Not to be disrespectful to your opinion but this hard to read and my eyes just rolled to the back of my head. Everyone should wear a swimsuit in the pool, if they so choose...whatever they may weigh. I say this as someone who refuses to wear a bathing suit because I think I look awful. Honestly, I love seeing confidence in anyone, no matter their weight. My issues are mine alone and I would never impose them on anyone else. We should all be comfortable in our skin and not make people feel bad for how they look. Even bigger sigh.
  15. 16 points

    Ten Thousand Strong !

    Please join me in congratulating @Matt on this 25th day of July 2019 as the Royal Caribbean Blog message boards have reached 10,000 members. Woot! Woot! Fair winds, following seas and may the Kraken always be full in your cup! Happy cruising everyone!
  16. 16 points

    I've been diagnosed with PCE

    I was just diagnosed with PCE.. as of right now I’m unable to travel. The doctor said it may get better in the next 43 days, I have a follow up appointment on September 8th with Doctor HOTS . please help me through these trying times.. Pre Cruise Excitement is a disease lol
  17. 16 points

    He didn't say no!

    DH and I have been on 2 RC cruises, and we are taking our kids on their first in 39 days. We've been dry docked for almost 9 years, so I need to say that again...39 DAYS! I've been joking here and there since we booked (a long 9 months ago) that I'm going to book another cruise. He didn't unload the dishwasher like he said he would - I should book another cruise. Kids were in our bed all night because of nightmares - we should book another cruise. Know what will fix your cold honey? - another cruise! Etc. His mother's birthday is in February, and I've been saying we should pay for her to join us on one. You know make it a Christmas present or birthday present, and there just happens to be a 5 day on Enchantment in February that would be perfect for us. BUT, he hasn't wanted to book another until the kids go on their first, and we can be sure it's a good fit for them (DD is Autistic and has Generalized Anxiety Disorder). She's really excited though, and I'm ready to book them all! Well, I texted him some of the new sale prices today with, "I officially lost 20 pounds, guess what I want as a reward?". He responded, "Let's call Mom and talk about it when I get home"!!! I about fell out of my chair! I was thinking I would just go buy a new pair of pants! I guess now that we are getting close and he's also getting excited that it doesn't sound like such a bad idea. Wish me luck as I try add another sailing to our calendar tonight! 😄
  18. 16 points

    Ten Thousand Strong !

    Holy moly! I've often said numbers and stats are nice, but not the focus of what I'm trying to do. I'd rather have a community of 10 people who are supportive, helpful and fun than 10k people who do not talk. I think it's safe to say that we've retained a good balance of fun and knowledgeable folks here, while attaining a tremendous goal. The credit lays not with me, but with all of you. Seriously. These boards do not grow to 10,000 people just because of me. I can't answer every thread, start my live blog ridiculously early (*cough @Lovetocruise2002 *cough), share breaking news or comment for the umpeeth time if @twangster is indeed real. So many of you have been posting here for years, and others have recently joined and already feel like part of the family. It's been a tremendous journey so far and I am so thankful you are all here to share in it. A special thank you to the moderators, who help enforce the rules; to some special long-term members who help flag down spammers and alert me when @monorailmedic is being overly annoying; @WAAAYTOOO for answering all those casino threads that I know nothing about; the entire MEI Travel team for helping support our great community. There's no question the needle is moving in the right direction, and I thank you all once again for being part of this. One of the few regrets I have in the history of this site is not starting the message boards sooner, and today is a great example of why that is. Thanks all, and let's celebrate with a Kraken and diet coke while onboard a Royal Caribbean cruise!
  19. 15 points
    Hello!!!! Welcome to my semi-live blog! Background: My hubby and I have saved up our vacation time at work since early 2018(despite unexpected and serious medical issues) to be able to take a consecutive two week + 1 day trip. Yes...that extra day counts too!!! 😁 This trip will be myself, DH and our 9yo son. This is our son’s first trip w/o any of his other siblings. He is a huge fan of cruising just like good ‘ol mom and dad. The important stuff: First week we are on Navigator, second week we are on Allure! We fly out of Baltimore to Ft. Lauderdale tomorrow morning, then head to Miami. I feel like we’ve waited forever for this trip. Since March of 2018 to be exact. Our itinerary will be: 8/10 Miami (Intercontinental) 8/11 Miam 8/12 Board Navigator 8/13 Coco Cay 8/14 Nassau 8/15 Sea Day 8/16 Ft. Lauderdale (Renaissance) 8/17 Ft. Lauderdale 8/18 Board Allure 8/19 Sea Day 8/20 Sea Day 8/21 St. Maarten 8/22 Puerto Rico 8/23 Labadee 8/24 Sea Day 8/25 Hollywood (Margaritaville) 8/26 Fly home 😭 We have two excursions booked. We are doing a dolphin encounter at Blue Lagoon in the Bahamas and we are doing the Rain Forest Drive in Puerto Rico. Both excursions are through the ship this go round. This will be semi-live because to be honest...I can’t wait to not have phone service for a while. It’s been a rough year and we desperately need to disconnect. I’ll be live until I lose my phone service and will update on our land days and in Puerto Rico, etc.
  20. 15 points

    Security on the ship

    If I stated this b4 I am sorry. Security on the Adventure was amazing. 1. Towel station. A passenger saved 8 chairs at 7 a.m. By 9:30 a.m. their towels were returned, but their items were left by the chairs. The attendant said you broke the rule that is stated everywhere...30 mins. You now owe 200 bucks for the 8 towels because you didn't check them back in. They got testy, security was called and they were told that if they did not back down they would be escorted off tomorrow at 8 a.m. when we docked. They immediately backed down 2. My SIL looked very flush when she was walking on the pool deck. A security officer said to her sit down now. He went to the pool bar got her a bottle of water and watched her drink it. She was over heated. She wanted to leave them, and they said no, not unless she walked back to someone that was traveling with her. I was in the Solarium. They brought her back, and I said, no, I know her, she is very fair skin and what you think is flushed it really is sunburn starting to show. They stayed another 10 mins to watch over her. 3. At night 3 I went up to the blue moon bar, deck 14. I get on and find 3 kids, ages 8,10 and 12. The 10 yr old that day had to get 5 stitches at Horseshoe bay (grotto area) her shin is wrapped. I make small talk and ask how old are they. They told me. They were going to deck 5 Promenade, my cabin was on 7, but decided to go to 4 to Schooners. I told the bartender that there are 3 kids under 12 riding the elevator....I knew this also because they said that as soon as they hit 5 they were going to hit 11 (pool) 2-3 mins later security was at Schooners asking for descriptions of the kids. These are the balcony style elevators so you can see everyone. I ordered a bottle of water, went to the elevator and as mine was going up the security guard was coming down with the 3 kids. ~ I don't know if this was because of Freedom, but I remember thinking what kind of parent are you? Who lets an 8 yr old that just got stitches to wander a ship this size? The promenade staircase is marble. The pool deck even at that hr can still be slippery. Those handrails for a 10 yr old truly are an issue if they want to get a close up look at the sea when you are talking about being with other young kids. 4. Night 4 we were walking the deck and 4 18+ yo boys decided that this was the running track. They got nailed, and I watched security ask let me see your sea pass card. He said something on the walkie talkie. Next thing I knew was they were being escorted off the deck...my guess back to their parents cabin. I was really impressed with security, even though they made me go through the screener 3 times each time. I have a metal knee cap and a hip. I would tell them this before I entered. I'd beep, they send me back in again. It always ended the same way. Do you have a phone on you? NO. Do you have any jewelry on you? Yes, just my wedding and engagement ring. 3rd time...do you have any metal in your body? You mean my right knee and hip? Yes. Okay...go through
  21. 15 points
    My view of the not so little biggest ship from the biggest little ship: Cheers and Happy Anniversary!
  22. 15 points
    We are at the airport!!! Getting ready to board... The plane got in late but they insist they will board us quickly! We will see! Since I got 4.5 hours sleep last night I'm hoping I will sleep on the plane!!! Jane
  23. 15 points
    tiny blonde

    Freedom of the Seas Fatality?

    I totally agree that Grandpa used poor judgement resulting in a tragic mistake. But I don't think the family is necessarily trying to "strike it rich" - because I remember how I felt when tragedy struck my family, albeit under different circumstances. One of the early symptoms of grief is anger, and certainly this family has a lot to be angry about (Mom is angry at Dad for letting Grandpa take the baby over to the window, Dad is angry at Grandpa for lifting the baby up to the window, Grandpa is angry at himself for being responsible for the tragedy, Grandma is angry at Grandpa for causing the death of the baby, etc.) and when people are angry, they flail around looking for someone to blame. When my daughter was killed, I was angry at EVERYONE with whom I could find anything to be angry about, and her father was so angry he drove people away (a phenomenon you may have observed in other bereaved parents), but that was just a normal grief reaction that gave way, eventually, to the deep grief that comes when the energy provided by anger is spent. The only person I blame is the lawyer, who I think is the one trying to get rich by inventing this cockamamie story of it being a "kids area" and parading this family in front of the media. I don't hate lawyers, by any means. My dad was a lawyer, but he never chased an ambulance or a cruise ship or dragged his clients into the limelight. He honored the confidentiality of the lawyer/client relationship, that this lawyer apparently never heard of.
  24. 15 points
    Someone's hacked @twangster account. Where's all the drool-worthy photos? #NotMyTwangster
  25. 15 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.
  26. 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.
  27. 14 points
    My destination was sort of El Morro and anything I happen to see along the way so I just started walking up hill vaguely in that direction snapping a few pictures along the way. I walked past a church with open doors so I couldn't resist a photo. Eventually I reached the edge of the field in front of El Morro just in time for sunset. Behind me the lights along the road towards Castillo San Cristóbal caught my attention so I went that way. I wasn't really feeling the photography juices flowing so I had to figure something out. Maybe some long exposure light streaking photos would do the trick. This is why I love golden hour. Castillo San Cristóbal. With my camera doing a 30 second exposure I used the light on my phone to "paint" the area closest to me with light.
  28. 14 points
    Another hidden discovery is that Wow! bands can be used to access your cabin. Unfortunately when used in this fashion anyone on the ship can use your Wow! band to access your cabin. Okay, that's a lame joke but I was enjoying drinks at the Schooner Bar up to this point...
  29. 14 points
    I know, I know. I promised no more sunset pictures. I lied. What a way to end a wonderful day at sea.
  30. 14 points
    After dark I thought I'd walk off some of my dinner. There were a number of low clouds passing above us and it didn't look like a great night for the Milky Way again. Our direction towards Belize puts the Milky Way at the front of the ship but after Belize we'll start heading back North so this would be the last chance to take advantage of the dark bow to capture it. A passing storm in the distance caught my eye from deck 6 aft behind Boleros. It didn't look good for star gazing but I thought I'd try anyways so back to deck 6 forward. I settled in to let my eyes adjust and it seemed like it was opening up at times. In between passing clouds I managed to get some more Milky Way shots. Using lessons learned from the previous night I think they came out pretty good.
  31. 14 points
    Nice sunset tonight. Best place to take it in was deck 6 aft behind Boleros.
  32. 14 points
    Good Morning! It’s cruise day! ”Symphony starts when you walk together, feel the heartbeats, and understand the unspoken words.” — Amit Ray 17 years ago today we started this journey, after 17 years, we’re getting there ❤️
  33. 14 points
    One reason that I love the Intercontinental Miami is their Club level rooms which give you access to their Club Lounge. Happy Hour and Breakfast are complimentary here in the club lounge. The hours are 5-7pm and 7-11am. Here are the selections for Happy Hour tonight: Mini sliders Chicken Croquette Chicken Wings Specialty coffee Make your own cocktails My pre-dinner snack: The wings were so good I went back for seconds on those. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the time we actually headed out for dinner.
  34. 14 points
    Kids? What kids? I think we forgot to pack them. 😆
  35. 13 points
    So... My final take-aways. First of all, I focused this blog mostly on the trip and not necessarily the ship because it's something different. I really like vision. The crew, the cruise director, the activities director, my stateroom attendant...I have no complaints!! They were all amazing. I'm not a picky cruiser and vision was totally fine, especially for a port heavy itinerary. It truly never felt crowded except when chair hogs hit the decks. I felt like the ship was in good condition (yes a bit of rust here and there, but hey, that's me too lol) and the shower curtain doesn't bug me. That being said, we had some negatives as well. The music venues are very limited, the bars were limited and the activities are limited. For me, that was fine. My sea days involved myself and 5 novels! My husband, who had previously been on adventure, freedom and allure surprised me by saying he really prefers the bigger ships. He would rather sail on a bigger ship if we can get the same itineraries and trade the price difference by staying in an interior room. We are scheduled on rhapsody for next spring break...we got an amazing deal and great itinerary (including Belize and Roatan) but we may cancel and save up a bit... Especially if we decide to go to the UK next summer. Speaking of itineraries... Europe was mostly amazing!!! We did find that just like the Caribbean, there are better ports and that we are excursion people. A whole day of shopping won't work for us...we need something to do. Otherwise, you start seeing the same shops, just like in the Caribbean!! Long trips:. We found that 12 days was just awesome! But I was still sad to get off... The 2nd to last day is always gonna suck no matter how long your cruise is! Eating:. Unless there is lots of variety, we will probably decrease our specialty dining... It's just too much food. Same for the dining room...we will continue to do my time because we just don't want 2 hour dining every night. We enjoyed windjammer on those days we were tired and just wanted to relax, or had eaten big at port. Drink pkg:. The drink pkg even on 12 days was totally worth it. We went through at least 3 bottles of water every day, coffee every morning, 2 glasses of wine with dinner and at least 1 cocktail a day. Could we do without it, yes but for us it is really worth it and again, I'd be willing to go with a smaller room to afford it. It was pricy but it worked for us absolutely. Just FYI, the lowest price we ever saw was $48/day, and $57 with the internet 1 device each. The drink card never showed up on our 12 day cruise so people must have been purchasing enough drinks! Packing:. Ok... So I definitely did better this trip, but could have done a bit better. We managed 3 checked bags and 1 carry-on and didn't bring back a lot of souvenirs. I could have done better... The laundry bag was amazing and my stateroom attendant made me fill enough for two bags and charged for one. Nothing shrunk and next time I could easily pack fewer bathing suits and PJs and cover-ups. Still would worry about my dresses, but none of Jeff's nice polos shrank! So that is our trip. I'm so sad it's over...we have dreamed of this for a lifetime and planned it for almost 2 years. But we have memories to last us forever, amazing pictures and the knowledge that we will do what we can to continue traveling. Life is way too short not to try and travel, and for us it's a priority! Thanks for coming along on our voyage with us! Jane
  36. 13 points
    Here we go.....
  37. 13 points
    August 10, 2019 You know what that means? IT'S CRUISE DAY! Like a kid on Christmas morning it's 6am, I'm awake and ready to go. It looks like the C&A team has been busy putting presents in my account. Overnight my points from last week have posted, including the solo-in-a-suite gift. When cruising in hurricane season I always keep an eye on the tropics. While only early August this is a great thing to see. Tropical cyclone activity is not expected during the next 5 days. Looking at the MarineTraffic.com app I've caught Empress gliding past Symphony as she arrives into the Port of Miami this morning. I'm here. The ship is here. There are no tropical storms on the radar screen. Phew! Can you tell I'm bored with nothing to do? Tick tock. Tick tock. Is it time yet?
  38. 13 points

    2 Perfect Day Stops

    The majority of guests boarding Mariner have never been on a cruise before. Perfect Day is proving to be immensely popular for good reason. Combine the two and I can understand why they are trying this. If the feedback is positive they'll likely continue, if not they likely won't. The idea of two stops is appealing. That's taking me two cruises, one last week and another next week. Let's examine this concept that the new Perfect Day is a money grab compared to the old CocoCay. Thrill water park is a small section of the island. Beyond the water park the same excursions are available that always have been at CocoCay, except... Remember the old Aqua Park? $37 for one hour. That's it in the distance. Yep, that's what you got for one hour and $37 back in 2017. Remember the old slides from 2017? $26 for a day pass. Not included in the Aqua Park. Now for roughly the same price of the old aqua park and old slide you get an entire water park with wave pool and multiple slides that are incredible. Thrill water park is $62 in most of my upcoming stops at CocoCay. To me that represents pretty great value compared to the CocoCay of yesterday. BTW - see all those loungers in the top picture? Notice anything missing? The $20 umbrellas! Here is a Perfect Day picture from last week. Now, umbrellas all over the place and they are free! If you just want a relaxing beach day without spending a dime that describes 90% of Perfect Day including a free fresh water pool and now Perfect Day is so much nicer than the old CocoCay. If you want a water park, the price today has so much more value compared to the old Aqua park and inflatable slide of yesterday's CocoCay at the same price. Plus no more tendering! Come and go from the ship as much as you want. What's not to love about Perfect Day?
  39. 13 points
    Flight was hands down, the best Royal Caribbean original production. We have now seen 5 of them and where The Gift is on one end of the spectrum, Flight is at the other. The special effects and set designs are amazing! Royal has really outdone themselves with this one. Really impressive all around. We still found this cast a bit weak vocally, but the rest more than made up for it. I had high hopes for this show as I taught Grade 6 for a number of years and the History of Flight is in the Grade 6 curriculum. I have always enjoyed teaching that unit. I thought they did a wonderful job giving a nod to all the important figures who contributed to Flight. My favourite scene was probably the “In Memorial” scene and the one following with the Wright Bothers. Love the underlying theme in this production as well as this is the one thing, if only thing, I try to teach my students all year, Dare to Dream, Dare to Fly. 😊
  40. 13 points
    Today has been a simply relaxing day. We got off the ship for a bit so that Hubby could check out the buffet at Barefoot beach. He really enjoys it whenever we have access there. Labadee is so pretty, and natural. I really hope that they leave it instead of turning it into a theme park atmosphere like Coco Cay. Here are a few pics from our time out and about today. Not a fan of the heat and buffet myself, I came back to the ship to enjoy this again. Regarding Fast Track Boarding, the white flag was out today, no signage, and again, there was no difference which gangway people used. Oh well...lost cause. The rest of our afternoon was spent laying out on the balcony with drinks. There was a nice breeze, our balcony faced Labadee, I did some reading and Hubby napped. Perfect. 😊
  41. 13 points
    We are on board! We waited almost longer for the cab then we did too board the ship. We used the cabify app... No Uber here in Barcelona. The driver was a bit crazy because traffic here is fast and busy! I was stressing because this was the latest Ive ever gotten to the port. Didn't need to worry though!! We pulled right up to terminal B with no wait. No porter needed as we walked 10 feet to the cart where the nice porter loaded our luggage. We had expedited arrival but it wouldn't have mattered because nobody was there at 1045. We literally walked through security and on to the ship.. LESS than ten minutes!!! By 1105 I was making our dining reservations... Got everything we wanted including chops night 2 formal night 630. By 1115 had lava flow with kraken (well training bartender so first drink turned out to be a Miami vice actually) and eating in the windjammer! The windjammer want crowded and the food was typical fare... Food Temp was warm and everything seemed fresh. We were offered there STRONGEST Bahama Mama welcome drinks I've ever had! It's now 1245 and be we are in the solarium waiting for the room to be available! Book in hand I am relaxing!! Oh, and so excited... The solarium roof is OPEN!!!!!! Happy happy happy! More later! I will see how the voom is (can't tell if I'm still on data or voom) for periscoping. A lot of those may end up replays for people with the time change! Jane
  42. 13 points
    After JR, we ventured over to the C&A party. I was mainly there for the aqua acts (like I have seen on Harmony) but instead they had Simeon (the comedian) and the two guys on the high line. After that we decided to wander the ship, deck by deck just because we could. Totally enjoying the aimlessness of our day. In the Solarium, the drink of the day (Margarita Azul: Tequila, Blue Curacao, Triple Sec) caught my attention and I decided to try one. That is the beauty of TeamDX. While we wandered from deck to deck, I just wanted to point out that again, this ship does not feel crowded, even though it is a sea day. Plenty of space in the Solarium, pool deck, and suite sun deck. There are only small pockets where crowds were noticeable, for example, elevators and later at El Loco. Lunch brought us to El Loco Fresh. I really liked this place. Dare I even say that it was way better than Sabor? And it is complimentary! The only thing that I did not care for was the line to get in. We were there around 12:30pm and the line was all the way to the ice cream machine! I enjoyed the drink of the day so much that I grabbed another one to go with my lunch.
  43. 13 points
    Miami Sail Away The Crown and Anchor Loyalty Ambassador hosts a Diamond and up sail away behind Boleros on deck 6 outside. Since Empress doesn't have a Diamond Lounge this event is offered. Louis our LA is there to greet us It's a great covered location to take in the sail away from. Several officers drop by to greet guests. This included the Hotel Director, Revenue Manager, Marketing Manager and a few others I forget to note their positions. Oh that Miami traffic. You know it's bad when a cruise ship is going faster than the traffic. We passed Symphony of the Seas as we departed. The not so little, biggest ship as seen from the biggest, little ship. Cheers and Happy Anniversary to @Lovetocruise2002 and hubster who embarked Symphony today. You can read her live blog from Symphony here: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/14288-“symphony-no-17-celebration-relaxation-exploration-reflection”-–-072719-–-080319/ Miami beach was pretty popular today.
  44. 13 points
    We’re in Miami! All checked and waiting for complimentary Happy Hour 😁 I love this hotel. Nothing beats the Bay view rooms. This is the Club Intercontinental King room with Bay views.
  45. 13 points
    A somewhat "hidden" feature are the forward public decks on 7 & 8. The bow is open with no helipad. This area exists on all ships but for the most part we don't see it as it's covered with a helipad. The stairs are open and free to use. They lead to this open public deck 7 space. Note the staircase on the far left. Deck 7 view forward. Going up one more level to deck 8 you can see the bridge on deck 9. This also provides a nice view forward. Some people never find these public decks and they do have OV cabins that are right there so if you book a forward facing OV cabin be aware this space in front of your window is open to the public.
  46. 13 points
    If all goes well and the rules don't change it should be in 2020.
  47. 13 points
    Who’s Going? Finally, no kids! It’s just Hubby and I on this sailing. Flight Our plan is to fly from DTW to FLL the day before. Flights to FLL were almost $200 lower per person compared to flying to MIA. Even with the Uber/Lyft cost factored in, we still save by heading to FLL. Pre-Cruise Stay Those who know me can probably take a guess. If I’m staying in Miami… I love the Intercontinental Miami! There’s no other choice. They have one of the best club lounges around. That is one of the things I love most about this hotel other than the location. Complimentary Happy Hour drinks, appetizers, and breakfast are included. Combine that with spectacular bay views, Bayfront park next door, and Bayside Marketplace within walking distance, this property is one of our favourites. The only thing missing is our beloved La Bamba. Itinerary This 7 night sailing takes us to St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee. The plan for this cruise is 100% pure relaxation and the ship is our destination. We plan to visit “That Yoda Guy” in St. Maarten and we may not venture off the ship much aside from that. Without our kids, we don’t need to plan as much. With this being our first time on Symphony, we just want the opportunity to explore the ship itself.
  48. 13 points
  49. 13 points
    Sleep with one eye open!
  50. 13 points
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