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Showing content with the highest reputation since 08/07/2013 in Posts

  1. 36 points
    Dinner tonite at 150 Central Park. Joyce took a pic for us
  2. 34 points
    Galveston Steve

    Carolyn Kraft

    I’m on Enchantment of the Seas right now as well. I have a different perspective. Tuesday afternoon a 600 foot tanker ran into an 80 foot fishing boat at the entrance to the Houston-Galveston Ship Channel. 1 person confirmed dead, 1 person in the hospital. The Coast Guard abandoned the search for two other missing crew members today and they are presumed dead. The crew of the Pappy’s Pride fishing boat and their families are having a horrible week, much worse than I ever hope you or I have. I’m happy to be enjoying time on a cruise ship with my family this week. Due to this tragedy there has been NO ship traffic in or out of the ports of Houston, Galveston, or Texas City since Tuesday afternoon. The economic impact of shutting down tanker and other ship traffic in this area is staggering. After Enchantment waited offshore all day, the Coast Guard was gracious enough to allow her into port Wednesday afternoon as she passed within yards of the wreckage site at a very slow speed while the responders were still securing the wrecked vessel, controlling the environmental damage, and searching for two missing human beings. After waiting all last night and all day today, Enchantment was escorted out of port this afternoon in heavy fog with two pilot boats off our bow to ensure we safely traversed the fog. I was deeply moved as we passed the crash site at a very slow speed so as not to disturb the small fleet of boats and the crane platform that were continuing the recovery operation in the channel. Enchantment of the Seas was the ONLY ship allowed to come in or out of the area since Tuesday afternoon. Then Carnival Dream was finally allowed in this evening after she waited offshore all day. As of this moment the area remains closed to all other ship traffic. Only a few small service boats have been allowed in the area. Royal Caribbean provided text and email updates about every two hours yesterday as we waited to learn when we could board. Enchantment’s captain provided several updates last night after we boarded, and several more updates throughout the day today. There was little information that they could provide because they had no control over the weather or the tragic situation in the Galveston Jetties, but they checked in with us regularly to let us know they were communicating with authorities and trying to get us underway. They also did not offer false hope or speculation because they knew the situation was fluid and telling us one thing and then changing their story would have drawn much criticism. We’re now underway to Cozumel and I’ve been having a great time, all things considered. I’ve used my cell phone as a tool to find out as much as I could about what was happening with our situation, much of which is spelled out above. May God bless the crew of Pappy’s Pride and their families. May those who perished Rest In Peace.
  3. 33 points

    Freedom of the Seas Fatality?

    I wonder if grandpa has ever come back to his car in a snow storm and found his car full of snow because he didn't know his window was open? Probably has a wicked air conditioning bill in the summer when the windows in the house are open. Drive through restaurants must be a PITA for him. Is the window open or not? So confusing. Is he a Mac IT professional because Windows seems to give him a lot of trouble.
  4. 33 points

    The Key - my experience last week

    Since it seems to come up a lot, and although Twangster's detailed blog is far superior, I thought there may be one or two who might be curious about a recent experience. I purchased it for my 4-night Mariner of the Seas cruise to Nassau/Coco Cay. I was a solo traveler and I had a $25 onboard credit, so the price came to $55. Between Voom and lunch on embarkation day, I'd already gotten my value, so it was really a no-brainer purchase for me. Embarkation: They called The Key people with the Pinnacle/Diamond/Diamond Plus members when they opened up the doors. I suspect they just threw us in with them because it was so early and there were very few people in the terminal yet. Delivery of carry on luggage to stateroom: A few of us wandered around trying to figure out where to drop off our carry on luggage when we first boarded - they were a little behind and didn't have a sign on the theatre door, or anyone in the theatre to take the bags yet. In about 10 minutes we all figured it out (all 5 of us at that point) and someone did show up to start the process. Unfortunately that person hadn't been provided with any luggage tags, so anyone who hadn't tagged their luggage had to wait a little while - I had my luggage tag on my one rolling carry on. They also had business cards with Voom codes on it - but none of them matched the names of anyone who was there, so staff was confused. In the end they just gave us a card for whoever (sorry Adam Davis, or whoever's I had), and we were on our way. I assume they managed to work it out in the end, but it was never an issue for me. Lunch at Chops - was a nice treat! Reserved seating section at shows - I only went to the comedy show really late on Embarkation day and on the last night. There was a section roped off for The Key next to either higher C&A or suite folks - it really didn't matter at this show because there was really hardly anyone in the theatre. The first night I sat in The Key section, the last night I sat somewhere else - it didn't matter. But this is Mariner, not a Quantum or Oasis class ship, so I imagine it would make a difference on one of those ships. Reserved times for Flow Rider/Rock Climbing Wall/Sky Pad/Perfect Storm - they had at least 2 hours set aside during the week for each activity. They weren't at the most convenient hours, but, at least on my sailing, it wasn't necessary for a separate time - there was never a line at any of those activities - I never saw more than a few people in line for any of them and most of the time nobody was using them. Apparently this was a "sit by the pool and drink" cruise for folks. On the 2nd day, I happened to stop by my cabin to pick something up and someone knocked on my door and delivered a fruit plate that was complimentary for The Key people. That was unexpected. Priority tender - We only tendered at CoCo Cay - I went down to get on the tender about an hour after we anchored and there was a line (not a ridiculous line, but a line as you'd expect there to be). There was no staff along the line at all to ask about The Key benefit, and I'm just not the type to walk past a bunch of people who are waiting to also get on the tender to get in front of them, so I just got on with everyone else. I was able to get on the tender right away anyway, probably because I wasn't trying to get on the first tender of the day, so it was just fine with me. I could have been more assertive, but that's just not me. And the ending result would have been exactly the same in this case. Disembarkation Day - it was nice to have a quiet, unrushed breakfast in the MDR. It was the only time I'd sat with other people during a meal - almost the only time I'd spoken to any other people all week (I did talk to the iguana and the chickens on CoCo Cay earlier, that's a whole different story #retiredzookeeper) and I did enjoy that. After breakfast, I ran back up to my room, grabbed my carry on, and went down to Deck 4, where there happened to be a staff member manning the line. I asked him about The Key disembarkation, and he personally escorted me to the gangway past a long line, which was REALLY nice. I liked the program, and it was defnintely worth it on a short sailing. I was getting Voom anyway, and there were just enough things that I was going to enjoy along the way that it made it worth it to me. I very much doubt that I'll get it on my Ovation sailing to Alaska in June - I will be going with my husband, who has no interest in Voom, and we will be meeting up with old friends, who will not have The Key, so we won't be taking advantage of reserved seating with shows and special times for activities since they won't be able to partake with us during those times. We'll evaluate it again on our Symphony sailing in Feb 2020 - things may have changed with the program, or the hubs may decide he wants internet access, so we'll see then. Hope this helps someone out there!
  5. 31 points

    Feeling Discouraged....

    Ok, first, if you're reading a forum where people are shaming other people, leave that forum. That's unnecessary. We don't do that here. There's no reason for you to feel badly about a cruise like that. $50 is plenty because it truly is on top of what is expected. If you WANT to leave more, that's fine - if you want to leave less, there's nothing wrong with that either. I've left less, I've left more, depending on my particular room steward.
  6. 31 points
    I know what you are thinking. January 2022? Did I read that right? In order to secure a great price on one of only two Star Class Ultimate Panoramic Suites on Oasis I booked this a couple of months ago when the itineraries where first released. Within minutes of them going public I secured the 2nd of these two suites in the name of research and, well it seemed like a good excuse to book a cruise. That's nice and all but why start a blog now? I am so tired of @Matt beating up on my fellow Canadian @Lovetocruise2002 even though we all knew he has the record for starting a cruise blog the longest before any sailing in the history of these boards that I had to step in and take action. So back off Matt! Seven hundred and twenty nine days. Itinerary as it stands today includes Puerto Plata, DR, St Thomas USVI and San Juan Puerto Rico. This may be my only 2020 update. I'll do my best to update this blog at least once in 2021. Until then, let it be known I hold the record for the longest pre-cruise early blogging award!
  7. 31 points

    Lurkers Unite!

    Hi everyone! I pride myself on being very social when I meet people in person, but online, I’m a certified lurker 🤣. I read the message boards, take notes 🤓, and have learned so much from everyone on this blog (thanks @Matt for this awesome platform) but I rarely make a post or comment. Maybe it’s because everyone has already said what I was thinking (and y’all don’t need to see my “ditto” response 😂)... Maybe it’s because I can’t come up with any interesting new questions or topics that are worth posting 🤔... Maybe it’s because I’m afraid that my post will be the equivalent of the kid sitting alone at the lunch table in a crowded middle school cafeteria 😢😬... Soooooooo... This post is dedicated to all of the lurkers out there just like me! Say hi, hit like, or drop a comment of your choosing below! Or don’t. 😁 You are still loved and welcomed here!
  8. 30 points
    ISince we are docked at the downtown pier, we decided to go out into town for a while. Beside us is docked NCL Breakaway. Out in the bay, offshore, is the NCL Escape. She is tendering her peeps ashore with lifeboats. Glad I’m not on Escape ! We walked down to the Plaza and decided to have a couple of beers and some chips and pico de gallo. This was the first alcohol that either of us have had the entire cruise ! The cold Coronas tasted pretty good. More about this, later. At some point, Dan mentioned something about maybe getting a cheap massage. Oh yeah....that sounded like a GREAT idea. After finishing our beers and chips, we asked our waiter if there was anywhere close where we could get a massage. It seemed we were in luck ! No more than 20 paces down the side street was a spa. The decision was made. If the price was right, we were getting massages. Trust me, this is no foo foo spa. It’s a hole-in-the-wall place but the price seemed right. $70 each for a 90 minute massage. Done. They put us in a “room” for 2. I put “room” in quotations because it is really just 1 big room with curtains to separate the “private” areas. Good enough for us. I will just say up front that this was one of the best massages I have ever had. Most masseuses hurt me. I guess I’m just a wimp but the whole “deep tissue” thing is about as far from enjoyable as I can get. But this lovely lady’s touch was perfect. You start out on your belly, of course, and I was really settling in...enjoying every stroke. She did my back, neck and shoulders. Heaven. Then she moved to my legs....and trouble began to brew. Here’s where the forewarning from the beer and chips photo comes back into play. As if, by some awesome force of nature and gravity combined, the moment she started pushing “up” (towards my torso) on my legs, the beer bubbles began to be pushed up from my belly. Had I been standing, I would simply let out a diminutive “burp” and all would have been fine....but I was laying on my stomach and those beer bubbles were trapped between my stomach and my throat. I tried to maneuver in a way that would allow them to escape, but nopesville. They just kept accumulating in a most unpleasant location, soon to be joined by some chips and salsa (thank you, hiatal hyneria). It was both horrifying and hilarious at the same time. I thought the legwork would never end. Finally, after what seemed like hours, she whispered “turn over on your back, please”. As soon as I moved, the loudest, most manly, horrific belch came roaring out. It was so loud I’m sure they heard it across the street. Dan said “are you ok ?” I was so relieved. I just muttered “yes, I’m fine”. The moral of this story is NEVER drink a beer before having a massage !
  9. 29 points
    Hi everyone, For 6 months, I was working in the shops onboard Independence Of The Seas. I actually got the opportunity to meet some of you guys, and I just wanted say thank you for saying hello! I actually made some YouTube vlogs of my experience during this contract, and wanted to share it with you guys. I'm trying to show what being a Royal Caribbean crew member is like, and I think a lot of you guys will find this very interesting! In this first vlog, I show you the sign-on process. Me, walking on to the ship as a new crew member - followed by a ship tour. https://youtu.be/TwY2wMDjpBk I'm have begun my next contract onboard Mariner Of The Seas for 7 months, starting my new role as a Casino Host. I hope to meet more of you soon, and ask me any questions you may have about being a crew member! Please SUBSCRIBE to my channel as well. One day, I hope to vlog for Royal Caribbean full time! www.youtube.com/ChristopherWongVLOGS Chris
  10. 29 points
    Odyssey October 2021 Italy/Greece. 9 nights with overnight in Athens. Will spend a few days in Rome before cruise. So Excited! This itinerary has been on my radar for a few years. Each year we cruise to celebrate another year cancer free. This cruise will be the 5 year mark. I was given a 15% chance to make it 5 years. I have every intention of making this cruise. Stage 4B endometrial cancer. I also have Lynch Syndrome which is a hereditary cancer gene that puts me at risk for another 12 cancers. So looking forward to living life to the fullest!
  11. 29 points

    I'm all packed and so excited

    I needed to share my joy with someone so here seems like the place. We leave Sunday on the Allure just hubby and I to celebrate 25 years of marriage then on the 27th we board the Empress with our three children for a family cruise. I'm so freaking excited even though we just cruised in December. I cannot wait to be without the kids for a vacation and I'm also excited for Cuba.
  12. 29 points

    Missed the Boat!

    I think this thread has served a purpose. Cruisers old and new have learned the ship will actually leave without you when you don't return in time. Of the 6,000 on board, 5,998 made it back. I was on a cruise two weeks ago and I saw 60 - 80 people slowly walking up the pier well past all aboard time. None were in a hurry. One drunk girl lay on the concrete pier and rested (or passed out) . I had to check my watch thinking I was an hour off. I wasn't. Crew were waving to them to hurry up. The bridge blew the ship's horn. People are way too cavalier and just assume the world revolves around them. I tire at the muster drill waiting for the stragglers to show up. I tire on an excursion waiting for people who show up late. Hopefully this video will serve to educate everyone that a ship will leave without you. It is your responsibility to be on time. The cruise community has a name for these types of people. "Pier Runners" and it transcends all cruise lines. This is about personal accountability and yes, two ships full of passengers will make fun of you when you miss the ship. Lesson learned - don't be late.
  13. 28 points

    Guide to Chair Hogs

    I like to help the greater cruise community. I find a chair for myself that is available. Then as I have observed an area for a while, I move chair hog stuff and return to my chair. Some innocent person comes along and starts using the now empty chair. Chair hog returns and confronts innocent person who can honestly claim they didn't do it, the chair was unused. Walking to breakfast if I notice a series of hogged chairs that are still hogged when I return from breakfast I grab the towel and drop it off somewhere. Chair is freed up. I consider it a community service.
  14. 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.
  15. 28 points

    What's Still Missing?

    Chairs that automatically dump off people's towels when they haven't been used in 30 mins!!! 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂
  16. 27 points
    Cell phones. My travel agency, while waiting on hold to reprice a cruise offered this piece of advice. Change your screen saver or lock screen image to be your SetSail Pass or something the cruise line can use to identify you. That super cool wallpaper that comes with your phone looks great but with a device locked no one from the ship can figure out who owns the most recent lost cell phone. By using an image on your lock screen that the cruise line can reference if you lose your phone on board you stand a much better chance of getting it returned. Makes sense. When you get home put it back to that super cool default lock screen image but while on board consider something that works to help you getting repatriated with your lost device.
  17. 26 points
    I can't start into the actual cruise until I mention the Queen Mary. As a cruise geek this is the ultimate way to kick off any cruise. The Queen Mary is an ocean liner that began service in 1936. She was built with one mission in mind - sailing the North Atlantic between Southampton and New York. Before the days of airplanes flying between the continents there was only one way to make the journey - by sea. She isn't a cruise ship exactly, she just had two destinations repeated week after week. However you can see where many of the things we have come to enjoy on modern cruise ships have evolved from the days of ocean liners. The Queen Mary ended service in 1967 and was sailed for the last time to the harbor in Long Beach California. The City of Long Beach bought the Queen Mary outbidding a Chinese scrapyard and so the QM lives on now as a museum and hotel. I've stayed here before since Carnival sails from Long Beach right next door, within walking distance of the QM. On this occasion I booked a Deluxe King room for $129 per night plus local taxes. This is pretty competitive with local hotels so given the opportunity to stay on this historic old ship I'll do it every time. The QM isn't a small ship. In dimensions she approaches Voyager class and she was too big for the Panama Canal the day she was built. This cabin was considered first class in the day but the decor is more modern compared to what a guest in 1936 would have experienced. While not a suite it was a large step up above third class. In 1936 a one way first class fare was $1,074. As a means to conserve limited fresh water supplies, guests could choose hot salt water, cold salt water, hot fresh water or cold fresh water. Those aren't functional today, the modern shower control above and to the left controls the water now. Several vents that double as thermostats. Want it warmer? Slide to left. Want cool air? Slide to the right. These are not operational today, modern thermostats are used but it's cool to see how guests would have warmed their cabins in the cold North Atlantic. Working portholes! No balconies on ships in those days, these portholes were a luxury. The flat panel TV's were added during a renovation to meet modern expectations for a hotel room.
  18. 26 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.
  19. 26 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.
  20. 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'... 😄
  21. 25 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
  22. 25 points


    You're lucky i'm not in charge, i would ban smoking indoors (to include the casino) and make the only place for smoking, in the aft (designated section) upper decks. If you get caught smoking in a non-authorized location, you would be dropped off at the next port. I'm surprised that Royal Caribbean hasn't been sued yet, by an employee that has been diagnosed with cancer from second hand smoke due to improper ventilation in the casinos.
  23. 25 points

    Best Eleven Days

    I was on the recent extended Empress cruise (due to Dorian), it was my first cruise, and I just wanted to say that was the best consecutive eleven days I've ever experienced, and I'm an old guy that's seen a lot. I'm a huge Royal Caribbean fan now, can't imagine riding with anyone else from here on out. I don't know if it's appropriate but I'm posting a sunset photo taken the night before arriving back in Miami.
  24. 25 points
    I for one have stopped trying to promote the cruise industry and agree wholeheartedly with everything they said. The last thing I need is more people to book cruises (driving up the cost for me). It's terrible out there folks. The sea was 90' yesterday (away from the Promenade deck). I hear that 99% of all cruise ships got stranded (away from a boring existence) yesterday. Everyone on board is sick (of being on land). I went missing (and none of my clients know I'm on a ship). There were 75 mph winds (for anyone driving on the interstate with their hands out the window in Florida). Yep, it's not a life for the faint of heart. Avoid cruising (so I can book cheaper cruises). If they don't want to go, please don't try to correct them.
  25. 25 points
    I pop over to that "other" site every now and then. Was just checking it out during lunch today and it never ceases to amaze as to how ugly it gets over there. I see so many people (even mods) who just get salty and vile with people posting simple questions. My wife was laughing at me the last time i was reading over there because i let it get under my skin way more than it should, if at all. So many trolls as well. @Matt it really makes me appreciate all of your hard work that has gone into this place, not to mention the great attitudes of everyone here. Thanks again everyone! My time spent here makes me really enjoy cruising much more than I ever intended. I always log off knowing more than I started out and generally have a good laugh as well. Cheers!
  26. 24 points
    Ovation of the Seas, 11 Nights departing from Sydney Australia to New Zealand For many years I avoided Alaska cruises on the premise that bikinis are better than parkas. Then I finally did an Alaskan cruise. Just wow! Why did I wait so long? That experience got me looking even farther from home and I realized the same could be said for Australia and New Zealand. Learning from Alaska I decided to just do it. YOLO! I've always wanted to visit both Australia and New Zealand so hopefully this will be a rehearsal for more cruising down under. Practice makes perfect. This is me doing my single digit dance. It's a long flight to Australia, I take off early one day and land two days later. Somehow it ended up being 2 days and a few hours to get there with a connection. Fortunately it takes less than 6 hours to fly home. Strong tailwinds I guess. With the time change it's already well into tomorrow there. I can never keep that straight. All I know is that this cruise is costing me two days of my life just to get there so I have high expectations. This is an 11 night cruise but weather permitting we'll have one day sailing through Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds. With the three sounds all on day 9 the itinerary looks longer than it is. Here's hoping for good weather. Just one tender port so that's a plus. I tendered on Ovation in Hawaii so that doesn't concern me. With the time change it seems that Sydney always celebrates New Years Eve before North America so on that basis I'll get to watch the Super Bowl a day before you folks in North America. I'll post the outcome here, get ready to place your bets. Super Bowl Monday here we come. The game starts mid-morning so there may be some day drinking involved. At least it's on a sea day. Flying into Sydney two days prior and staying downtown my plan is to take the train into the city and sleep for the rest of the day. Other plans include the Sydney Bridge Climb and a tour of the Sydney Opera House after which I'll either crash hard or have some gas left in the tank to explore a little bit more. If I have time I may try to find Alice. Maybe I'll get up early (or be up already) to watch Ovation come into port. My bags are packed, I'm ready to go... 'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane...
  27. 24 points
    Well, actually we’ll fly on down, but you get the idea. Warnings/Disclaimers: This blog is the sole opinions and thoughts of just the old guy who is writing it. It doesn't reflect the thoughts, opinions, clarity, good sense or tact possessed by those sailing with me. And to be clear, I don’t have the sense of humor, literary skills, or good judgement of most of you who post these live blogs. But I'm going to do it anyway. I guess I can be labeled as a “lurker” on this site. I read it daily but have made only a few comments. So today I take the plunge and become one of you by just jumping in the deep end with a live blog! Two weeks from today I will be in the air traveling from Palm Springs, California to Miami to begin our next Star Class adventure. In 2017 we sailed on the Oasis in a crown loft suite and thought we had found the ultimate way to cruise. But no, there was more to discover! In 2018 we booked another crown loft, this time on the Allure. A month or so later while checking for a price reduction I stumbled across something called the.Royal loft Suite! After watching a quick YouTube video of that suite I quickly booked it. YOLO as someone on this blog always says. We sailed in July with Dave Mac as our Genie and there was no turning back. In May of 2019 we cruised in the RLS on the Harmony with the amazing, wonderful Ariceli who I think has spoiled us for life! As I said, there’s no turning back now so two weeks from tomorrow we will be in the RLS on the “new” Oasis and will have Allan as our Genie. If this blog goes as planned you will see and hear much about each of us and what we will be doing during the week. So let me introduce our merry band of sailors: Stacy, my bride and partner. I many times refer to her as Pollyanna, which is defined as “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.” Defines her to a T. She sees the good in everything and everyone. Poor thing. My Pollyanna uses those traits everyday as she toils as an RN, or BSN to be accurate, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs. She is our cruise planner, specializing in the culinary aspects of the Star Class experience. As she takes her break from those 12 hour shifts at the hospital she will be seen around the ship with a permanent smile on her face and a blended Love Connection drink in her hand. I expect she will pop in on this blog and provide you with some of her excessive cheerfulness! Shari who I refer to as Polyanna2. Yeah, no kidding. Another one. Stacy’s identical twin sister. The Oasis is a big ship but I’m not sure there’s room enough for this goodness! She and her family have cruised with us the last three trips but this time she will leave them behind at jobs and school while she gets a well deserved week of relaxation. Shari is the 24/7 caregiver for her mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. That’s a task where that Pollyanna thing coms in pretty handy. I expect the twins to be side by side everyday and although they act and talk alike you can tell them apart by their hands. Shari’s will be holding a Bud Light! Daughter Taylor, almost 21. Young T, as I call her, is a preschool teacher with with a gaggle of I think 3 year olds. Can you imagine? A classroom full of germ carrying, tantrum throwing, runny nosed 3 year olds and Taylor is too young to drink! T is the calm, chill one in the group. She gets that from me. You will find her sleeping late, spending lazy days in the sun and with one of two things in her hand. Her Starbucks or a virgin Pina Colada. I told our Genie that I think T holds the Harmony record for most virgin Pina Coladas consumed in one week! We might also find her in the casino which she discovered last year. Daughter Kaitlyn, 30 something. The party girl of the bunch. She is also a nurse like her mom. But she is in the other Intensive Care Unit – the one for adults. Same hospital as her mom. On December 19th Katie received her Doctorate of Nurse Practioner degree which we will be celebrating on the cruise. So now she has more letters behind her name: Dr. Taylor, RN, BSN, DNP, EIEIO. I asked the Genie for time in the engine room for this one because she can talk and drink like a seasoned sailor! You’ll recognize her by her flaming red hair the the gin and tonic in her hand. Or a Margarita. Or a vodka and soda. Or…well you get the idea. Rounding our our group is yours truly, Jim. The quiet one of the group. I will usually be found on that massive balcony at our suite, on the quiet suite sun deck or in the suite lounge. With a Jack Daniels and sprite in one hand and a camera in the other. My plan is to try and share as much here in words and photos as I can. I have enjoyed and learned so much from reading others blogs here so I hope to return that favor. I’m sure much of the blog will deal with Star Class aspects as I try to justify why we spend a bazillion dollars every year to do this! I will be doing Genie recon for those sailing after us and will certainly try to answer questions anyone has once we board. We plan on eating everywhere except the Chef’s Table this year. We’ll even work in the MDR for a breakfast or lunch and a couple of trips to the Jammer. I think we will do all of the shows. Even Cats. Yep, I’m gonna do it. I’ll spend the afternoon in the suite lounge slamming the Jack and sprites and then go experience the feline extravaganza! We have no plans for Cozumel or Falmouth. Just maybe a little shopping and back on the ship. We are looking forward to Labadee which we all love. A relaxing day on the suite beach. In the lead up to our sail day I plan to share more about our travel plans, our night in Miami, our previous experiences with RC and how we survive the Miami airport as we disembark on Super Bowl Sunday. I might have to involve Jack in breakfast plans that morning! I know its somewhat early to post but I’m hoping we can all share and get to know each other by our sail date. It’s not too early by Matt or Sabrina’s standards but it is early! So come along for the ride with this crazy bunch as we embark on our 3rd Star Class adventure. It’s a long way from my first sailing on the Song of Norway.
  28. 24 points

    Feeling Discouraged....

    $50 is very generous. Whoever said that the daily grats don’t get the room attendants doesn’t know what he** they’re talking about. They most certainly do. Ignore that forum. Someone is just trying to make themselves look like big spenders. That kind are usually making up for some personal shortcoming.
  29. 23 points

    Wanted to thank everyone

    For being so helpful and nonjudgmental even when asking a lot of questions! This forum is very helpful for cruises! I will recommend it to everyone!
  30. 23 points
    Danielle OG

    Thank you

    Hi everyone, I am leaving on my very first cruise tomorrow (starting the drive today) and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to Matt, and everyone else here! I feel so confident going into this cruise. Between these message boards and Matt's live videos, I had all of my questions answered. This community is so positive and it just makes me that much more excited for my vacation! So again, thank you so much and happy cruising to you all 🙂
  31. 23 points
    Day 1 IT'S CRUISE DAY!!! But first, more Queen Mary pictures in daylight. The Queen Mary was a fast ship. Faster than today's cruise ships of this size or larger. She routinely cruised at over 28 knots and during sea trials she reached just over 32 knots. This enclosed promenade deck would have been popular on those cold North Atlantic winter crossings. The Verandah Grill towards the aft of the ship was an extra cost restaurant. In other words the concept of specialty dining started decades before modern cruise lines embraced the idea. During World War II the Queen Mary was put into service as a troop carrier bringing troops back and forth between the US. and Britain. She was painted grey and earned the name the Grey Ghost. Her top speeds allowed her to elude german u-boats. On one crossing she carried a staggering 15,740 service personnel with a crew of 943 for a total of 16,683 souls on board. That remains the highest count ever carried by any vessel, a record that is unlikely to ever be broken. During this time they removed all the fine china and crystal and converted every square inch to the goal of maximizing space for the troops. Gone were the cabin class 1st class accommodations, it was all about squeezing troops on board. During the war when she was a troop carrier he was fitted with anti aircraft guns. A lego model has been constructed and is on display in a room called the shipyard. Sir Winston Churchill would routinely sail her during the war to coordinate efforts with the allies. In this photo he is sitting by this very fireplace. How about these lifeboats? The bridge: The Captain's quarters have been preserved in their original condition. She even had a fitness center back in the day with modern exercise equipment. If you ever get the chance I highly recommend a stay on the Queen Mary.
  32. 23 points
    Wow, the ship really wants to make amends over this. I got a call from the Windjammer Manager about 20 minutes ago. Got another apology and thank-you for reporting the issue at Guest Services so they had the formal record. Was told not only are they going to speaking to the supplier, but also their own QC team that picks up the shipments. After this, I was asked to confirm our table in the MDR, and then offered complementary specialty dining in any venue of our choice. Initially asked if we wanted it tonight, but we already had all of our plans timed out around MDR schedule so I asked if it could be a different night. Was told no problem, and that he’d send his business card so I could call him after I had a chance to talk with Cathy and figure out which night and venue. It arrived about 10 minutes later, attached to this: Say what you want about Royal; when they are politely notified about a matter like this, with zero histrionics and no demands or even requests for compensation, they seriously go out of their way to let you know it’s being treated with all seriousness, and that you are part of that treatment.
  33. 23 points

    Every Activity on Every Ship - Listed

    So, a while ago, while roaming the internet, I stumbled across this awesome list of which activities were on which ships throughout the Royal Caribbean fleet. It was perfect! Maybe I lost it, maybe it was taken down, but I couldn't find it any longer. So I set out to make my own. After going through every deck of every Royal Caribbean ship's deck plans, I noted everything I could find onboard. Bars, dining, entertainment, I listed it all. Here is the result: View in full screen I find it incredibly useful and I thought that I'd put it here because you all might like to use it too. I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think. Disclaimers: This is my own creation and all information used is from https://www.royalcaribbean.com/cruise-ships/deck-plans (unless otherwise referenced) Therefore, there may be certain inaccuracies because of either certain things missing on the deck plans, or me missing something out If this is the case, please feel free to let me know and I will update it to reflect these. As said, I have not been on all these ships so do not have first hand experience for all these venues and activities, so please do let me know of any errors I may have made. It is quite large so it may take a moment to load, and you will need to zoom out. I intend to update it as new ships debut, or as ships get refurbished/amplified so it is hopefully always an up to date reference point. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy!
  34. 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…
  35. 23 points

    New way to count down to cruise day

    🎶 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! ... 🎶 😁
  36. 23 points

    This is SO awesome had to share...

    This was posted somewhere on Cruise Critic. Not sure where it came from but it's awesome!! It's drink packages explained and for those that "already know this stuff" it's noted that any changes to the RCCL Drink policies are noted in red in the article. This document ALSO contains Harmony's Bar Menu and Drink Listing WITH prices!! LAST BUT NOT LEAST...the last 4 pages documents the names of special drinks and how they are made so you can make them at home for yourself OR you will know what to order on your next cruise. I love this pdf and wanted to share with you all. Enjoy!!! Cruise News Harmony 2019 Drinking.pdf
  37. 23 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
  38. 22 points
    I promised Sabrina that I would do this, so here goes. First: I am the worst live blogger EVER since I hate to take pix. I DO realize that long, text review/live blogs are less effective b/c nobody wants to sit and read line after line of text. I hate it myself ! So I am going to TRY and be brief-er than usual and TRY and incorporate photos, which are 2 things I am not very good at (brevity and photography). Who: Dan and I (Raye) What: S2S cruises on Brilliance and Oasis. Where: Tampa then Miami When: 24 - 30 Nov (Brilliance out of Tampa) then 1 - 8 December (Oasis out of Miami) Why: Because we can...and this will be our first S2S At home, writing this but leaving for the airport (DCA) at 2PM. Uber, cost $81.56. We have to have an XL due to luggage. Honestly, it's not that far to the airport. We live about 20 miles south of DC so it's not more than 15-17 miles to the airport. Kinda high, IMO but still cheaper than parking the car in Long Term Parking for 15 days. We will pass some time at the American Airlines Admiral's Club prior to boarding and then fly First Class to Tampa. Flight is at 5:00, arriving TPA at ~7:30PM. Will Uber from airport to the hotel (Tampa Marriott Water Street); used rewards points for the hotel. We could have used airline miles for the air but we're saving those reward points for a yet-to-be scheduled Alaska trip !! One piece of luggage still missing as it is awaiting inevitable forgotten, last-minute items. So looking forward to Brilliance. #1, we have never sailed on Brilliance before and #2, it has been many years since we sailed on a Radiance class ship. PS. I am already having fits with just 1 pic. I don't know how the rest of you do it !! More, later from the Admiral's Club !!
  39. 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.
  40. 22 points
    Update on the noise issue. The noise had become so obnoxious that I finally felt compelled to contact Joyce, our Genie, and complain. It was non-stop all day, every day. If it wasn’t the band, it was the DJ or some incessant babbling from a contest or whatever. I asked that we be allowed to speak with the Hotel Director. So now we have another example of how a Genie really can make things happen. Within minutes, Joyce was here and personally witnessed the unacceptable noise coming from the band and pool deck. She had the Cruise Director on the phone and they both agreed that the noise level was unacceptable. Since the Cruise Director (Bobby Brown, in this case) “owns” the entertainment venues, he was the one to affect the problem. He walked all the way from the Flow Rider area up to the pool children’s splash zone area (while on the phone with Joyce) to see if they could determine which speakers were the culprits. As we had suspected, it was the ones by the new Lime&Coconut bar. He adjusted them somehow and BOOM - problem solved ! Joyce said that if the problem resumes, just let her know immediately. We will drop the request to speak to the HD unless the problem resumes. Yes, you can still faintly hear the music (most notably the bass), but this is a cruise ship ! There’s going to be music. It’s no worse (now) than it is in the ATS. I’m satisfied.
  41. 22 points
    However, on a positive note, we just got back from seeing Phoenix, and I cannot say enough GOOD things about that show. They were really good. I would go back and see them again in a minute. I am not as impressed with the Music Hall on Oasis as I was with the one on Anthem, but they did the best they could with the space they had. It’s a sight more useful now than it was as Dazzles. Also, a huge bit of news, Dan and I finally met the Twangbot. He seemed very real. Almost human-like. A very advanced bot, indeed. He sat with us at the concert. It was quite an honor for us.😁😍
  42. 22 points
    I got off the elevator and decided that the least I could do was help guide him all the way to the act of this ship to Windjammer. I asked him if he minded me walking with him to the Windjammer and he took my arm and we trekked all the way across the pool deck. He told me he had paid extra to have a wheelchair and assistance but that someone complained about it? I didn't really quite understand the story and didn't really ask for clarification. He said he took a 16 day cruise and he's going to Africa in April. Pretty amazing travels he has done. We got to the Windjammer where I asked the greeter if he minded helping my new friend. The greeter was amazing and he took his arm and started asking him what he was wanting to eat and helped him to the handwashing station. I didn't think to catch his name tag but as soon as my room service is delivered I am popping back over to Windjammer to get his name so I can fill out a WOW comment card for him.
  43. 22 points
    Hello All, we just got back from a 5-day Bermuda cruise on the Anthem of the Seas and I wanted to share my "lessons learned" as a "pay it forward" for all the great forum members who provided advice to me for several questions I posted. We are a 4 person family (42M, 39F, 13M, and 10F) and we had 2 balcony rooms booked on Deck 13 forward. I hope I can help some newbie cruisers with the info below! 1. Do Show Up Early on Embarkation Day: Our ship was schedule to leave from Bayonne, NJ cruise port at 4:30pm. Coming from NH, we drove to Danbury, CT the night before and stayed at a hotel (Did you know Ethan Allen owns a hotel?). That put us about 1.5 hours from the port. We got there right at 10:30am when the terminal opened and there was already a good number of cars in front of us. I dropped off the family and our bags and the porters quickly put our checked bags on the carts. I parked the car in the garage, met up with the family and headed inside to check-in. Check-in was painless, and we were literally stepping onto the ship at 11am exactly. They told us our rooms would not be ready until 1:30pm, so we mainly stayed in the outdoor pool until we could drop off our bags. We hit Windjammers at 1pm and they announced that all rooms were ready at 1:15pm. 2. Windjammers is great, but watch out for peak times if you hate crowds: As you probably know by now, Windjammers is a (extremely large) buffet that serves breakfast and lunch. I think 99% of all passengers can easily find several things they like on their diverse and plentiful buffet stations (vegetarian, vegan and GF too). However, it can get VERY crowded at peak times. One of those peak times is lunch on embarkation day. I think it was the only place open for that meal since not all passengers had boarded yet. While we were able to get our food fairly easily. finding an open table was tough! You really just need to hang out near a family that looks like they are wrapping up and pounce as soon as they get up. Hail one of the Windjammers employees to clean the table for you. The only times I would say Windjammers wasn't moderately to severely crowded was during lunch on the 2 days in port. 3. Prepare to be STUFFED: RCL should just partner with medication companies that have drugs for blood pressure, cholesterol, etc... cause I can guarantee you will come back at least 5 lbs heavier. We purchased a 3-night specialty dining package and got an extra night free from our Cruise travel agent (CruiseOne). We ate at Izumi (2 times), Wonderland, and Jamie's Italian. If you like sushi, Izumi is wonderful! At Izumi, you get a $35 credit per person... so we had $140 to use each night. We got at least 6 specialty rolls, a few makimono rolls and the sushi deluxe and easily stayed under. I think we had everything on the menu after the 2 visits. Wonderland is almost a dinner and a show... the dinner IS your show! Here, you don't order... they just bring you just about everything on the menu. It was pretty amazing. Jamies was great as well... they bring you samples of all their apps (charcuterie, fried rice & cheese balls, calamari, cheeses, olives, etc..) and then you choose a main and a dessert. I got the truffle noodles and they were amazing! We only ate at the main dining room once and it was OK. My wife's fish (Barramundi) was a little "fishy", but my fish (can't remember the name) was good. The shrimp cocktail were very small... but the birthday cake (RCL is celebrating 50 years) and the cheese cake was very good. FYI, all the specialty dining and main dining room have kids menus. I highly recommend visiting Solarium Bistro for breakfast (also a buffet, but much smaller than Windjammers... but WAY less crowded). You'll find all the common staples for breakfast. Café 270 is great for lunch and dinner/late night snacks (only certain nights is it open). Great paninis on pita bread, wraps, salads and dessert. Sorrento's pizza was great for late night craving, but they also serve breakfast (no, not pizza... mostly breakfast sandwiches). Room Service for breakfast is free as long as you order from the "Continental Breakfast" section. All other times its a flat $7.95 per order (regardless of how much you order... so ahead, get one of everything if you like... it will still cost $7.95 total) 4. To deluxe beverage package, or not to deluxe beverage package... that is the question: I was on the fence on this one up until a week before the cruise. I do like to drink, but I try to stay clear of everything with sugar. I'm not a big wine drinker, so just bringing 4 bottles on board with me was not that enticing. I pulled the trigger and paid the $50/day. My wife doesn't drink, but I was in a stateroom with my son... so I only had to pay for me. I knew from other posts that knowing that the drinks average about $10-13... just having 5 would be my break even point. Yeah, I ended up get my money's worth and then some. No, I didn't go on a bender and forget most of the hours of my cruise and end up naked in the engine room! It really wasn't that hard. They have mimosa and bloody mary carts setup for breakfast. Sir, would you like a Mimosa... why, yes please! Can I make you a spicy bloody mary with bacon and horseradish? Of course. How about a vodka, club soda and extra lime while you hang out by the pool? Sure! Can I get you a Jack and Diet Coke while you wait for the show to start? Yes please! As long as you pace yourself, be sure to eat and stay hydrated, stay away from sugar drinks (I never once ordered a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri, which were so prevalent I couldn't open my eyes without seeing someone having one), and keep any minor "overindulging" until after dinner (so you can sleep it off), take some precautionary Advil or Tylenol before bed... you'll do fine. Never had an signs of a hangover (mostly from following the rules above). I probably averaged 8-12 drinks/day. I know that sounds like a lot (and probably is according to my doctor!), but I did find that their drinks are a little "light" compared to your average bar. They do jigger pour every drink which means you are only getting 1.5 oz of booze per drink. Sometimes they would pour a little more. They also tend to give you a tall glass for your standard "spirit & mixer". So, if you order a "rum & coke" you are getting 1 shot of rum... and then like 10oz of coke. Of course, they are doing this to get you to take longer and therefore, order less drinks. Be sure to ask for a lowball glass. I also got my money's worth by ordering a few Patron Reposados tequila (which are like over $15/shot in most bars). Be sure to ask for a bottle of water with each drink. Even if you don't want it now, you can put it in your fridge and bring ashore when you visit a beach or go shopping. 5. Bring your Cruise Compass with you wherever you go!: The Cruise compass is a printout brochure of the next day's open times, activities, shows, etc.. You stateroom attendant will put it in your room every late afternoon. Review it, highlight it, and do some planning. I was kinda disappointed to see that RCL hasn't created a digital version of this yet. They do have the iQ app, but it only shows you your dinner reservations and the shows that require reservations. I'm hoping they enhance this soon as it could be a real value-add to their guests. We attended some great trivia sessions, info sessions on the ship and Bermuda pier and shopping, listened to some great small musical groups, super funny comedians, and attended some great onboard shopping sales. While it's great that RCL offers so much to do everyday, the hardest thing was making the schedule work! Many times we came up with a plan, only to realize we couldn't do it because we had a dinner or show reservation that conflicted. We found compromises and made it work the best we could. We definitely weren't disappointed or had any FOMO! 6. You kids will love the Adventure Ocean Club or the Teens Club: Both of our kids were excited about the kids and teens club. For those under 13, parents needs to check the kids in and out (for the kids 10-12, you can give consent to allow them to check themselves out). There is a morning, afternoon, and night programs they can join... all are included. The only exception is after 10pm its $7/hr per child (very reasonable) and they can stay until 1am. The counselors are excellent and they do fun and educational activities with the kids. The Teens club is free to come and go and my son made a some friends and they often went swimming and played in the Seaplex together. 7. Make your show reservations in advance for the ones you can... and make the other activity and dining reservations as soon as you get on board!: I made reservations for "The Gift" and "We will Rock you" a few weeks in advance on the RCL website. The only thing I couldn't make reservations for in advance for shows was "Spectra", but I was able on the second day of the cruise. We also made all of our dining reservations as soon as we got onboard. On the second day, we tried to make reservations for the iFly (indoor skydiving) but they were already booked up for the whole cruise! :( Lesson learned! Also, if you are like me and like to sit up front at the shows... show up about 30-40 mins early and you will have your pick of any seat you wish. They have waiters taking drink orders and usually have popcorn and snacks/candy available for purchase... so the waiting isn't so bad. We had front row middle for "We will Rock you" and it was awesome! Spectra was a great cabaret style show, but I think they had some technical difficulties with their vistavision (these are the 19 projectors that can make the 270 degree backdrop appear as just about anything you can imagine!) The robots with the flatscreens were working fine and are amazing! 8. Bermuda is great, but not a lot to do in the port: This doesn't mean we didn't have fun! We took people's advice and waited until the 2nd day to go to the famous "Horseshoe Bay Beach". Luckily, it was overcast and a little showery on the first day, and the second day was mostly sunny and 83 degrees! Of course, many other guests followed the same plan. Anyways, on the first day we decided to stay in the port area (Royal Navy Dockyard, aka King's Wharf) and check out the shops. We went to the clocktower mall and explored the shops. We also went into the "Diamonds International" store which was heavily marketed by the Anthem's Shopping Director (Paige). While seeing all the very beautiful jewelry and rare gemstones is great, the customer service is horrible if you aren't looking to spend a few thousand dollars. After seeing pieces that were $5k-$20k, I asked one of them what is the cheapest jewelry they had for sale... she said they had an earring set that was $1000. When I said you are still way above what I'm looking to spend... she didn't say "I'm so sorry, we don't have anything under that pricepoint".... Nope, she just turned around and walked away. How f'n rude! We ended up finding a much better service at a jeweler in the clocktower mall and my wife got a great sterling silver ring made with a stone made from the pink famous sands for a much more reasonable price. After about 2 hours, we pretty much saw everything in the port area. We went back on the ship (which can take about 10-15 mins as you have to go thru security), had some lunch, and then put our bathing suits on an went swimming at Calico Jacks. This is the black pirate ship that is literally the first thing you reach after getting off the dock area. It's a bar/grill that has its own swimming area. There's no beach... they have a ladder into the water and have plenty of foam noodles you can borrow so you can just float and relax. They also have a plank on the second level that you can jump or dive off of... as well as a giant inflatable slide. Unfortunately, they don't keep the slide wet... so almost everyone came to a halt before hitting the end of the slide. They charge $10/pp to get a wristband to use their water access. Rum swizzles were $10. We also checked out the "Frog & Onion Pub" for a quick snack and a "Frog Grog" and bought some swag. The second day we took a shuttle to Horseshoe Bay Beach. I wouldn't recommend paying the $35/pp shore excursion to the beach through RCL. They have public shuttles for $7/pp that are continuously headed to the beach. It's about a 20-25 min beautiful drive. Our driver the way out to the beach was great, he pointed out all the landmarks and gave details about the homes, resorts and golf courses. You can rent loungers, beach chairs, umbrellas and tents at the beach... but they are a little pricey. We got 2 loungers and it cost $44. They do have guys who will drag your lounges/chairs to wherever you want, but be sure to give them a tip (we gave him $5). The water was stunningly beautiful. Perfect temp! Some pretty good waves due to the weather over the past day, but nothing too bad. The grotto area to the right as you enter the beach was really neat. I would recommend water shoes/socks as it can be a little rocky in that area. While you aren't supposed to climb up the massive rock cliffs... there were dozens on the top of the bigger ones. Some of the smaller ones teens were jumping into the water. There is a bar/grill at the beach, but the prices are a little inflated (Burger & Fries for about $12). Recommend bringing waters with you... and if you can, pack some snacks (Café 270 will pack food to go). Be sure to leave the beach by 3pm to ensure you get back with enough time for any "unexpected" happenings. The shuttle drivers guarantee that if you get on one of their shuttles at 4pm... they will get you on the ship without issue, but I'm not willing to play with those odds! 9. Adults can take naps too! With shows/activities often scheduled to 1am, I strongly recommend trying to find a time for a quick siesta in the late afternoon before dinner. It will keep you fully charged to enjoy the nighttime events! Also, try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night if you can. No reason to go to Windjammers at 6am just because it's open! 10. Be sure to keep an eye on your account! Your Seapass card can be used to purchase ANYTHING on board.. and I mean anything! Be sure to keep an eye on your account (you can use the iQ app, but send you an email at the end of the cruise). You'll automatically be charged for gratuities $14.50/pp per day, but you'll also see all your other charges. Remember, things add up quick! 11. Keep an eye out for flash sales and good buys on the ship: I ended up buying my wife and gorgeous diamond tennis bracelet on the ship. It is stunning, very sparkly and she was smitten as soon as she saw it. The regular price was $195, but we ended up getting it for $99 during a sale. OK, of course at that price.. it's not a lot of diamonds, but lemme tell you.. it really sparkles and she has already gotten tons of compliments on it. They also have 2 for $20 T-shirts which make a great souvenir. They also have duty/tax free booze for purchase, but coming from NH where liquor is state-controlled, the prices were already comparable. If you buy bottles on the ship, they hold it until you disembark (except on the last full day, where you can take it to your room). 12. Most importantly, have fun!: It's your vacation! Try something new... or stick to your favorite activities... it's all up to you! I hope this has helped you. Please feel free to leave feedback and any questions that I might be able to help with. If I can't, I'm sure another forum user will!
  44. 22 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.
  45. 22 points
  46. 22 points
    Yesterday I experienced a trip delay returning on a cruise and I thought it would make an interesting "lessons learned" post. My 4 night cruise on Brilliance of the Seas left Tampa on time and on schedule. It was a great cruise with a group of friends and we all enjoyed it. When we finished our day in Cozumel and re-boarded the ship none of us knew how mother nature had her own plans for our return to Tampa despite calm seas and smooth sailing. Fog. Heavy fog. To reach the pier in Tampa you need to pass under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. In 1980 during severe weather a freighter struct the original bridge sending a section of the bridge crashing into the bay killing 35 people. As such, Tampa and it's pilots don't take chances when it comes to weather. We arrived to the Tampa pilot station six hours ahead of schedule in an attempt to beat the fog but the fog beat us, arriving earlier than forecast. Our attempt to beat the fog and arrive early didn't come without cost. Running any boat, vessel, craft or ship at full speed consumes a massive amount of fuel compared to running at a nominal cruising speed. Royal spent tens of thousands of dollars on fuel and it's an example how Royal does try to do the best thing for everyone involved even if it costs them significant sums of money. Waking up early on debark day I noted our speed was zero but we were still outside of Tampa Bay. Oh boy, here we go. Up on deck 12 I could see several cargo and tanker ships hanging around with us in the fog. Beyond the lights of the other ships you couldn't see much of anything. Fog. The Captain informed us that the channel into the port was closed by the Coast Guard and we would need to wait until the channel opened and a pilot could come out to board the ship. The initial estimate was a 2:30pm arrival at the pier. Not long after the Captain informed us that he just got word that another cruise ship got stuck in port the day before and couldn't leave due to the fog. The channel through Tampa Bay is narrow and only one cruise ship can occupy it at a time, two ships cannot pass each other in the channel. It takes 2 to 3 hours for a ship to transit the channel. We had no choice but to wait for that ship to depart and clear the bay before could begin our entrance to the bay. Estimated arrival now 5:30pm. Lesson 1 - Don't book early flights. While sitting around an airport for a day doesn't sound that attractive you need to understand the risk that comes with booking an early flight. Delays happens for a number of reasons most of which are no one's fault and unavoidable. Weather delays happen, some ports like Tampa or Galveston are more likely to experience delays at certain times of the year. Do some research before booking that flight. Delays can occur for many reasons beyond weather. In my case, I had booked a 6:30pm flight home because it was cheapest, like $175 cheaper than the 10:30am direct flight. Over the weeks before the cruise I kept looking at that knowing I could pay the difference on Southwest and grab the earlier direct flight but if someone said to me "I'll give you $175 and all you need to do is stay at an airport for 8 hours" I'd take that deal every time. I knew I could get some work done using the free airport wifi so my plan was to get off the ship early and spend the day working from the airport knowing if there was a delay, I could be relaxed and not stressed out. Not only did I save money but the later flight also saved me a bunch of stress during this experience. Lesson 2 - Travel Insurance. This is a perfect example of how travel insurance needs to be high on anyone's list to consider. Our group of about 70 included folks with travel insurance and some "self insured" as they put it. Some people were out $400 or $500 per person to rebook next day airfare and they had to pay for a hotel and meals on top of that. For a couple that can be over $1,000. For a family of four that could be over $2,000. Those with insurance will get some, if not all of that back. Those without just lost a whole lot of money. However know your travel insurance coverage and limits. My annual travel insurance policy was chosen primarily for medical coverage. It has some trip interruption coverage but it doesn't have great reimbursement for delays of this nature. Lesson 3 - If you have travel insurance, know how to use it. A lot of people in our group had insurance but had no idea what to do in the hour of need. What is their phone number? What is the policy number? What is covered and what isn't? How much is covered? Do you need pre-approval? What documentation is required? The ship had letters pre-printed and available at guest services stating there was a weather delay and some insurance companies will need that documentation for a claim to proceed. If you buy insurance that's great, but know what to do when you need to use it. Lesson 4 - They keep the food and beverages flowing. No need to worry about your extra time on board, they have ample food for such events and lined up more activities to keep us busy. Most people took it all in stride and rolled with it. It was quite enjoyable, much like any sea day. Lesson 5 - Listen to announcements and pay attention. On the last night of the cruise many people put their luggage tags on their bag and place them in the hallway. Bags are collected by the crew and prepared to be offloaded once the ship reaches the pier. It takes time for the pier personnel to offload thousands of bags. There is a reason why bag tags have numbers and bags are offloaded in order so that numbers can be called only when those bags will be ready and waiting in the terminal. During an event like this there a natural tendency to want to get off as soon as the ship arrives but cruise terminals cannot hold thousands of people waiting hours for luggage to be offloaded. Of course what occurred once we did finally reach the pier? Hundreds of guests ignored the announcements, made a stampede to exit during the "self assist" time and found themselves having to stand outside the terminal waiting for up to 2 hours for their luggage, with no where to sit and no food or water. If they had listened to the announcements they could have been sitting comfortably on the ship with access to restrooms, food and beverages. Instead they made the self-assist process more chaotic and accomplished nothing but misery for themselves in the process. Listen to the announcements, follow instructions. Lesson 6 - You can't fight mother nature. It's not the crew's fault, it's not the Captains fault, it's not the cruise line's fault. Don't be one of those people making an already difficult situation any worse. Even if you are one of those people who choose to ignore the lessons above, at the end of the day becoming ugly or snarky with the crew or terminal employees accomplishes nothing. Sit back, take a deep breathe and relax. Life will go on and it will all work out in the end. Put a smile on in the face of adversity. Be kind to other's and don't get everyone else spun up. Staying calm and friendly helps other's stay calm and friendly. If you are stressed out, it will make your spouse and/or kids stressed out. If you are calm and smiling through it, your loved ones will be more relaxed. Do it for them. Lesson 7 - If you don't buy insurance you've only got yourself to blame. Accept the fact that you saved some money by not buying insurance. You took a gamble and lost. The money saved by not buying insurance may take a small bite out of your losses. No cruise line can change factors beyond their control. It's not their fault. You took the chance and lost. Accept responsibility and move on. Me? I got lucky. A lot of factors combined to work out in my favor. I had booked a later flight. I have travel insurance. I always use self-assist. Customs was fast. Taxi's were waiting. TSA Pre lines had no wait. Southwest did an amazing job getting my luggage on the plane checking in at 38 minutes before departure. The stars aligned for me perfectly and I didn't need to make a claim against my insurance policy. I was fortunate but in a small group of lucky guests.
  47. 21 points
    Cruise Summary This cruise was a pretty fantastic experience overall. New Zealand is pretty amazing and every port was very welcoming. Sydney was a great city to start from. A couple of days pre-cruise to adjust to local time was perfect. In general terms I haven't found the time changes to be that hard on the system on either end. The long flight helps the transition. I was able to use credit cards in most cases so there wasn't a need for a lot of cash. Third time on Ovation. I'm very comfortable with Quantum class and it was a good fit for this cruise and the environmentals around New Zealand. Tendering wasn't an issue, they seem to have this down to a science on Ovation. In fact they did a better job tendering on Ovation than Vision did on a recent cruise with a tender port. I booked this cruise for the ports of New Zealand yet the time in Fiordland was the highlight of the cruise. This was a photo intensive cruise. Picture stats: 4,828 pictures taken, 870 posted. I hope you enjoyed following along and I thank you for viewing. PS - some menu pictures coming soon.
  48. 21 points
    Hi! I'm Kim! You may know me from my Enchantment of the Seas trip report 2 years ago. We're baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Me: 47, cruised with Royal Caribbean 2 years ago for the first time and Disney 15 years ago. I love warm weather and palm trees. Mom: old enough to be my mother, cruised with Royal Caribbean 2 years ago for the first time. She also loves warm weather and palm trees. We both love to eat. She's gluten-free, I'm gluten-full. We get along very well. We are Basic. We have no Star, Pinnacle, or Diamond statuses going for us. We are our own Genies. We have matching t-shirts that say "Resting Beach Face." We accept every photo op. We lose money on bingo and gambling. All of those things that experienced cruisers laugh at and wonder who they're aimed for? Us! They're aimed for us! Our story: we took our first cruise 2 years ago because Mom had a medically crummy summer and I wanted her to look forward to something once she put in the necessary PT work. We had THE BEST TIME and at least once a week every week since she mentioned taking another cruise. Mom: Let's take another cruise! Me: We could do that. Or we could go back to Virginia Beach! Or find a nice place in Florida... Mom: But then we'll have to go out and FIND food instead of just walking to a restaurant and having all the food we want. Don't you remember just grabbing the bag of chips from that stand? And there's no Solarium. And just the hotel is more money than the entire cruise and that's WITHOUT food and... I created a monster who wants to be able to grab a bag of Sun Chips and walk away. She wanted to take the same exact cruise again, because this time since she's back to 100% and won't have to use a cane. She's even going to the gym now. I know, right? I also know who'll be lugging our suitcases. But our beloved Enchantment of the Seas moved to Galveston and the Navigator's 5-day doesn't include Key West. Mom: I don't want a smaller boat than Enchantment, though! Me, looking at Navigator photos: I...don't think that will be a problem. And here we are, booked on Navigator and headed to Nassau (day 2), CocoCay (day 3) and a day at sea (day 4). What we are keeping the same: Same ocean-view room. We were barely in it last time and I think that we'd really waste money on a larger room. Same VOOM 2-device surf and stream package. Still not booking an excursion in Nassau; we're using a map I found online to create our own walking tour with a goal to be back on the ship for lunchtime. I might purchase a bottle of rum to bring home. Still not booking fancy dining - we were completely happy with MDR and Windjammer last time and I'm excited to add free tacos to our lineup. Can't forget the free chips. Still not buying beverage packages - even when it goes to buy one, get one 50% off, neither of us can sustain the pace to make it break even. And we don't mind regular coffee. What we are doing differently: I kind of fibbed about the lack of STATUS. Because we are Crown & Anchor GOLD LEVEL, baybeeeeeee! ha-HA! We'll be strolling down deck 3 with our four points like this: (Which is why we'll never be let into fancy lounges.) I bought lanyards from an Etsy shop to replace the "Bristol Meyers Squib" medical conference ones we had before. They befit our GOLD status. My husband is my favorite person but NOT a tropical-loving guy so he is staying behind with my beloved dogs and retinol. He will be driving us to the airport. We are flying directly into Miami the night before to spare me the agita I had last time when we almost missed the plane in Philadelphia. I'll disclose the hotel once we've checked out because I'm paranoid. We are not buying Evian water to be delivered to the cabin - 12 1-liter bottles = WAY too much water. Instead, I'm going to pick up a 6-pack of bottles in Miami to carry on and satisfy Mom's bottled water demands. I'm sure the complimentary C&A Gold status sherpa will help us. (disclaimer: there is no sherpa) I was raised on NJ tap water, so my body has evolved its own high-end filtering system. I pre-rented a floating mat at CocoCay. But with the construction on CocoCay's South Beach we don't have the opportunity to rent a lounger for the day. For just 2 of us, dropping hundreds of dollars on a daybed or cabana isn't cost-effective. I'm very concerned about snagging seats with an umbrella. Even though the map shows little umbrellas all over, I don't want us to scorch. I have feelings about CocoCay. It's just ... we had the perfect day there 2 years ago before it became capital-letter Perfect Day. We're not doing the waterpark and my brother would kill me in my sleep if I hooked Mom up to a zipline. I just hope Royal Caribbean remembered that some people's perfect day entails just lying on the beach under an umbrella, drinking and eating. Other than weather, norovirus, airplane crashes, the softening of my jawline, and the ship catching on fire at sea, this is what I'm worried about. I am often wrong, so I'm hoping my wrongness streak continues. Goals: Flush myself down the Riptide slide. It looks to be 25 seconds long. I can do that. As long as I keep my mouth shut (tall order) I won't drown. Try a Lava Flow. Have a FANTASTIC time. All that's left is the packing, folks.
  49. 21 points
    I can't get that song out of my head. You know, the song by Van Halen? Even though it has nothing to do with the Panama Canal. I thought about titling this "The cruise that almost wasn't". Let me explain. My plan was to fly in the day before and stay on the Queen Mary. I was almost as excited about the Queen Mary (now a hotel in Long Beach, CA) as I was about the Panama Canal. Good ole mother nature had a surprise for me. Snow! Lots of it. At 5am I opened Lyft and Uber to compare prices and... no cars available. Rut Roh. Let's try again. Nope. Hmmm. A little bit of panic was starting to set it. A 3rd time. Ding! A car is on the way. I went out to my usual pick up spot in the falling snow. I wasn't going to let the driver get cold feet and bolt. By the time he arrived I had an inch of snow on my suitcase. It had snowed the day before but this is Denver so no shocker. However at this early hour the snow on top of the black ice from yesterday's melt made for very treacherous driving conditions. Cars were in ditches, accidents were seen all over. It was early in the season so people new to snow were learning the hard way how not to drive in the snow. It took almost 75 minutes for the normal 30 minute ride to the airport. My driver kept asking "Do you want to go back?. No flights leaving today". Then a text from Southwest - "SWA Flight 750 is cancelled". Odd, the inbound flight was on time, my plane was landing in Denver but the ongoing leg to California was cancelled. I wasn't about to miss my cruise, onward to the airport, even if I had to sleep there tonight I was determined to make it out of Denver on the first flight that I could. Southwest wanted to rebook me on the next flight out scheduled at noon that was delayed until 5pm. By this time I was at the airport. Delta had a 9:15am flight to Salt Lake. I stopped by the Delta ticket counter and asked if the 9:15am was actually going. Yep. Book it. On the spot I booked a one way to Long Beach on Delta. I've played this game with Southwest before and they tend to eventually cancel everything so I put my faith in Delta and for $500 I was on my way. Or so I thought. At the gate I discovered our flight and cabin crew were missing. They had overnighted in local hotels but they were stuck in the now worse traffic and accidents heading to the airport. We were delayed. Eventually they made it and we boarded. With 3 inches of snow on the plane we had to de-ice. Another delay. Finally we took off 75 minutes late. Late enough that I would miss my connection in Salt Lake. So much for getting into Long Beach in the afternoon. I was rebooked on a 5pm flight from Salt Lake to Long Beach. Salt Lake also had light snowfall. I heard the pilots talking as the plane boarded in Salt Lake - "We're de-icing". Another delay. After a 14 hour travel day I made it to the Queen Mary in California. Phew.
  50. 21 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…
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