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

  1. 20 points
    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!
  2. 20 points


    6 days into our first ever cruise and we have booked our next with plans for 2 more before we go on that one. Addicted!! Thanks to everybody for helping us make this leap! Nikkoo
  3. 20 points
    Wrong cruise line?
  4. 20 points

    2018 - A Cruise Year in Review

    Fourteen cruises marks the most I've cruised in any single year so I thought I take a second to put it down in a post. I started 2018 as a relatively new Diamond member in the Crown and Anchor Society and finished just over the halfway mark to Pinnacle. Anthem -> Liberty -> Serenade -> Adventure -> Explorer -> Empress -> Radiance -> Mariner -> Enchantment -> Adventure -> Symphony -> Serenade -> Oasis -> Navigator The scary part is I missed a cruise when my daughter graduated from the Air Force or it would have been fifteen. Oh well, well worth it. Of all these cruises I think Navigator to the ABC islands was my best cruise, in no small part due to the ABC islands and my cruise mate (step daughter and scuba diving buddy). Other notable 2018 cruise events for me First Transatlantic (Symphony) First Canada/New England (Adventure) First ABC island cruise First visit/cruise to Cuba First Diamond Plus cruise (Adventure repositioning San Juan to Bayonne) First Radiance class experience First Voyager class experience Completed the Oasis class challenge (sailing all Oasis Class) Completed the Freedom class challenge (sailing all Freedom class) Completed the Empress class challenge (easy one here) My longest single cruise (Adventure 13 night Snowbird Migration) Paid for a cruise in full and didn't show up (cruise #15 above) Sailed six different classes of ship in a single year (would have been seven classes if not for the missed cruise) First time on a FlowRider Five Crystal Blocks First year not sailing in a full suite Sailed on a ship every month of the year First RoyalCaribbeanBlog Group Cruise!!!! What was your most notable cruise moment of 2018?
  5. 19 points
    I’ve seen posts about buying small models of cruise ships and what not, so for the purpose of entertainment, how much for this model I made of Oasis? Let’s start at $50 :)
  6. 19 points
    “I Dream of Genie” – Star Class - Harmony of the Seas – 03/10/19-03/17/19 Dreams…that is how many things begin; that is how this adventure began. But with every dream that comes true, there is always a journey. Here is our journey, almost 3 years in the making. Note: Pulling a @JLMoran here, it’s long winded lol. Back in May 2016, I read with keen interest, a blog post by @Matt that Royal was rolling out a new suite class program. The concept of Star Class intrigued me, but at the time, I knew that it was beyond our reach. However, dreams have no limits, and one can look but not touch. You all know that I am a shopaholic right? 😂 As the program rolled out, I read reviews, followed blogs, looked on in wonder and envy as I watched the Genies do their thing on Allure in 2016 and later on Harmony in 2017. This was pretty much me on those sailings... In February 2017, I came across a blog by @WAAAYTOOO. I believe it was her first time in Star Class and she had Reyno as her Genie. After that, I knew, without a doubt that this was something that I needed to try. The big question was how? The answer is that I really don’t know how I would have this opportunity without the help of some dear friends along the way, right here in the message boards. Somewhere between February 2017 and January 2018, I read a post by @tiny260 that really was the first glimmer of hope that Star Class could be a reality for us. @tiny260 basically posted that he had recently booked a good deal in Star Class by scouring the calendar week by week. There were only two problems with that idea: I did not have much time to go through each sailing, week by week and ship by ship, and there are only several times in the year that I can sail due to work. So, I set aside Tiny’s idea but made a point to remember his tip. In January 2018, call it God’s will, or good things come to those who wait, or fate, @WAAAYTOOO started a thread in the “Rumours and News” section here about a special STAR savings discount of $1000. I was also off work last year which meant I had all day to look. So, taking @tiny260's tip I went about an all-day effort to find something that would fit our schedule. Trouble was that my schedule was only flexible until September 2018 and I already had bookings for 2018 that I did not want to cancel. This is the point in the journey where sometimes intercession occurs, and you cannot logically explain what follows. During my search that day, I stumbled upon a sailing on Harmony (which I expected to be the highest price second to Symphony) for March 10, 2019. This worked out perfectly since this would be our March break, I would be off work, and Harmony is my favourite ship. For reasons that I cannot explain, this was also one of the lower priced sailings for a Star class cabin (compared to OA/AL/SY). How did I know that? Because up until this point, I had been tracking the prices on Star Class cabins and reading posts on the price that others were paying. Another example of how it pays to do your research. This low price, combined with the additional $1000 STAR discount, made it a no-brainer. I put a hold on it even before I had a chance to run it by Hubby. There are many that I have heard say, “Why would someone want to spend so much on a cabin?” or, “I would take more cruises over such an expensive one any day.” Here are my thoughts on that. We have taken enough cruises to know what we like. We are cabin and balcony people. We do spend time in our cabin, so to us, a nice cabin is important and worth it. My work schedule limits us to certain times of the year that we can cruise. Instead of taking our money and spreading it over a bunch of cruises (which we can’t do any way), we are putting it all into one. It all works out the same. Our original booking was for a Guarantee Star Class cabin. The code on the booking was A2-GTY. This was new to me and I did not even know such a category existed. I ran it by @WAAAYTOOO and a few others and figured that we had nothing to lose as the bare minimum would be an A2 on Deck 10. Hubby got home that evening and, after some persuasion and promises to curb the Lulu shopping, he suggested that if we were going to splurge on Star Class then we might as well go big and go to Deck 17, the “gated community” as some call it, and really live out that “WOW factor”. Ever since our inaugural sailing on Oasis, Deck 17 was always a wish of ours. I warned him that Star Class on Deck 17 could be quite a jump in price. Still curious, we called late that evening and inquired about what it would cost to upgrade. It was $100 extra (total). Done. No brainer. Again, an anomaly that I cannot explain. Since our original booking in January, I have re-priced our sold-out cabin 3 times for a total savings of almost $3000 less than what we originally booked for. The cost was many hours of tracking, but it paid off. We already had a great deal to begin with and it just got sweeter along the way. As we get ready for this grand adventure into Star Class, I must take the time to thank @WAAAYTOOO, @Mindybrite, @tiny260, @CGTLH, and @constable145. Your insight, advice, and blogs have been more valuable than you know. Words cannot express my appreciation. Finally, @Matt, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thank you for creating this amazing community of people (enablers) who helped in making this a true possibility. I often say to my own girls, and my students, that we should never be afraid or give up in the pursuit of our dreams. Dreams can come true, this being the perfect example. So, without further delay, come take this journey with us, I would want it no other way.
  7. 18 points
    Ok you guys, I'm SO excited. Mr. SpeedNoodles and I have not been on a vacation for 10 years (yes, you read that correctly). We've had time off from work, hauling the hounds to dog shows, but those are work. Lots of fun, but lots of work. This year is our 25th wedding wedding anniversary, his 50th birthday, we found a hound(s)/house sitter, and we are READY TO GO!!! I'll focus this blog mostly on the ship, since there's no way my photos of the scenery will do any justice of it, and Twangster did a superb job on his. Hats off to him - they were absolutely incredible! I don't know that I'll be able to post daily, but I intend to do the best that I can. We will have 36 hours in Seattle before we get on the ship, so we're super excited about that! Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick .....
  8. 16 points

    How to sound like an alcoholic....

    We end up doing a Pub Crawl, Poker Run ...... All participants put in $5. At every bar, not only do you have a drink, you draw a card ...... at the last bar, you find out who has the best poker hand - that person wins the cash ..... I was fortunate enough to win two years ago w/ 3 Kings ... Nice .
  9. 16 points

    Super Mario is Super!

    Apparently it’s an 8,000 cruise point milestone for Mario onboard the Navigator!
  10. 16 points
    With that our tribe begins to appear unified and equal. Each is wearing a common tribal outfit. I've seen all of the aqua theater shows and this is my favorite. It's high energy with lots of action, plenty of diving and incredible aerial work. It's more artistic in places and uses technology to highlight the incredible performance of the cast which itself is outstanding. The aerial components are incredible and add a lot to the show. Be aware though, when they get wet by dipping into the water they do drip onto the audience below, all over the theater.
  11. 16 points

    Why I am Officially Loyal to Royal

    A few people have asked to hear about my thoughts so here it is.. although this isn’t really a live blog but we just got off the other day A little background on me... I went on my first cruise in 2004 on Navigator of the Seas, and then in 2006 it was Mariner of the Seas. I went on these in my early 20s. Flash forward about 10 years, now in my early (almost mid) 30s and have an 8 year old son. I was a single mother for some time and cruising wasn’t even something that crossed my mind. I worked my a$$ off to provide a wonderful life for my son, and 4 years ago I met a great man who is also a great father to my son. I was now finally in a much better financial situation and in early 2016 we were ready to book our first family vacation!!! After doing some research I was debating between Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Considering I took a 10 year hiatus from cruising, I felt like everything was brand new again. We ended up booking Harmony of the Seas for November 2016. At the time, I didn’t even know Harmony was a brand new ship and that we were booked on her first 7 day Caribbean sailing!! Talk about a steeler cruise to reintroduce myself to cruising!! I started googling and more googling until I stumbled upon Royal Caribbean Blog! After I had booked our Harmony sailing, but prior to actually sailing, a friend mentioned wanting to book a cruise for 2017. I was in!! They were celebrating their 10 year anniversary and only request was they didn’t want to visit Jamaica (bad experience on honeymoon). Since we were sailing an eastern itinerary in 2016, and all the western itineraries I could find for the time period we were looking at and leaving out of Florida, they all had a stop in Jamaica. My friends found an interesting itinerary on the NCL Getaway. It came with their “perks” of the unlimited beverage package and 3 nights specialty dinning. In the meantime, more people joined the group and I was out numbered in the vote to go RCI. I said, what the hell, let’s do it! You don’t know if like something until you try it, right? Well flash forward again to November 2017... and I tried it, and know if I like it or not! I am going to do a comparison by category comparing my Harmony sailing to my Getaway sailing. Now, I know this isn’t exactly comparing apples to apples since Harmony was brand new, and larger. But Getaway is only a few years old, and still holds well over 4,000 passengers I feel they close enough to form my opinions. Pre Boarding/Cruise Planner - Prior to sailing on Harmony, Royal’s cruise planner drove me nuts. Several different glitches, and it that it never worked properly on my phone. I hate having to get my laptop out! But, I was able to browse and book Shore excursions right away, they ran several different sales and everything was easy to find. NCL - I couldn’t even view most excursions until about 120 days out. I am a HUGE type A personality planner and this drove me nuts! I don’t book most excursions through the ship so this wasn’t a huge deal except for the fact that I wanted to book a Beach Villa on their brand new private island in Belize called Harvest Caye (more on this later). So, needless to say I was checking on a weekly basis and finally around the end of July (we were sailing in November) I was finally able to book the Villa. I found the website lacking and a little hard to navigate, and I was unable to link our dining between our different reservations. Because of this, and the timing of them releasing their Shore excursions, Royal wins for pre cruise planning. RCI 1 NCL 0 Embarkation - We were lucky to be one of the first sailings on Harmony, which you entered your credit card info, uploaded your picture etc all ahead of time. It is my understanding not all RCI ships are this way, so I’m not going to take that into account, although I definitely liked that better. Embarkation was fairly simple on both, fast and effecient. On NCL we were traveling with my elderly grandmother who needed wheelchair assistance, we were one of the first people on the ship! This also happened to me on my first two sailings with Royal (my grandfather was with us), moral of the story, if anyone in your party can justify a wheelchair, take advantage! Lol. Overall embarkation is a tie with very little issues on both RCI 2 NCL 0 First impressions on board - Royal ships are just gorgeous!! I have not sailed on one without a Promenade and I really missed it! That giddy feeling when you first walk on board was missing. We boarded NCL on deck 7, and got to see the stairwell.. talk about underwhelming. Luckily my TA had given me a heads up so at least I was prepared RCI 3 NCL 0 Staterooms - We had a standard balcony room on Harmony. It was my first time on a balcony and I was officially hooked! We are a family of 3, so 2 adults and a child. We had more than enough storage and closet space, including room for my 15 pairs of shoes (don’t judge). NCL, because my grandmother was traveling with us, we had connecting staterooms. One a Family Mini Suite and the other an Angled Balcony Room. The balcony room was their standard balcony room, but our balcony was where the ship “jutted” out, giving more room. We had planned on opening the divider for one large balcony. Well, “they don’t allow it for safety reasons” a quote from our room steward. My question, why was the ship built with opening dividers if it’s a safety issue and they aren’t allowed to open them? Major disappointment number 1. We were warned the balconies were going to be tiny, but were not cocnerned as we thought we would have one long one. I am an average height woman at about 5’6”. When I sat in ththere chair that was all the way back, my knees touched the glass on the standard balcony of the mini suite. Slightly more room on the angled balcony, but because of th angle we could only look forward not aft.. without hanging over the edge with someone hanging onto you so you don’t fall. No thank you! Bathrooms in both balcony rooms were fairly similar in size. The Family Mini Suite is a glorified balcony with a larger bathroom. It is NOT similar to a Junior Suite on RCI. It did come with a full bathtub with a double sink which was nice. The only closet in the room is very close to the couch and you had to shimmy in sideways to get in. I definitely did not have room for 12 pairs of shoes (I tried to pack lighter this year). Decor was only meh.. Royal wins for staterooms hands down RCI 4 NCL 0 Food (the best part!) - I was actually disappointed with the overall food on Harmony. I was used to the old style cruising of one specialty restaurant and set dining time with the same waiter each night. Traditional dining was booked so we had to go with My Time Dinning. We ate in the dining room 3 times and 4 Specialty (Chops, 150 CP, Jamie’s and Wonderland). All our specialty dining was amazing, main dining room not so much, including service. One night the food was just disgusting. And another night our server left much to be desired. NCL has 3 main dining rooms, they have named theirselves “Freestyle cruising”. At first I thought I wouldn’t like this. I like traditional cruise dining, I enjoyed getting to know your waiter and your table mates, I enjoyed formal nights. When else as an adult do you have an excuse to get all fancy?? We decided well in advance we would be doing our own formal night. To our surprise, many people did the same! You would see eveverything from evening gowns to shirts and tanks and no one judged. I even wore shorts and sandals one night and I loved it! The food, I didn’t have one bad meal, including complimentary. There is a pub type place called O’Sheehans that is complimentary, we are not big buffet people so this is where we ate most lunches. Everything was at minimum average and at best, delicious! There is also a Margaritaville onboard (for a charge) because of the fact they had so many choices for complimentary dining and literally didn’t have one bad meal, topped with the relaxed dress code, NCL wins this one. I’m even going to give them 1.5 points since I am combining dinning and dress code.. it really was nice being able to go casual without any glaring eyes RCI 4 NCL 1.5 Kids Club - I should start with saying, my son has slight special needs being diagnosed ADHD with ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) basically, he does whatever he wants and doesn’t care about consequences. He was borderline on the spectrum with Aspergers, but was just under the line. I didn’t know at the time, but RCI is endorsed by the Austism Research Institute and even has sailings Autism of the Seas. I was so nervous about dropping him off and having behavioral issues. He had so much fun there!! Everything was structured and organized, what he thrives from. He wanted to be at the kids club any moment he could. He was just as excited to try the NCL kids club. NCL was much smaller, but I had expected that knowing Harmonys was the newest and best with a science, art and theater room. 2 out of the first 3 days we had behavioral issues. Now, I know more than anyone that my son can be a handful, and he defiantly did wrong, I felt the staff on RCI was just better trained to accommodate “non mainstream” children like himself, and were able to see certain behavior be triggered and able to redirect prior to meltdowns. We took 2 days off from the club then went back for short time periods and with a track phone. He still had fun! RCI 5 NCL 1.5 Ship Activities/Overall layout - Harmony was so easy to navigate, it didn’t matter it is the largest cruise ship in the world. I never got lost once, things made sense. The neighborhood concept is amazing and makes you feel comfortable and at home. I enjoy having the promenade and almost a “central main location” the hub of the ship sort of speak. I never had that feeling on NCL, it always felt like something was missing. The Atrium was just not the same, I am not sure if I would feel the same on a RCI ship with an atrium instead of a promenade. I may need to stick to Voyager Class or above! The casino was in the middle of the main deck and we had to walk through with children to get to the main dining room and if it wasn’t for all the smoke I probably wouldn’t care. There is no mid bank of elevators, only forward and aft. You have to walk outside to get to ththe buffet... did I mention it was downporuing in Honduras?? I was warned ahead of time the pool was tiny, and it was. There is only one main pool, and it’s adults only. There is a glorified hot tub squeezed between the slides and the splash area that they called the “kids pool”. Because it’s in th middle, there is no wherno for chairs. Since I am one of the parents that watches their child, unless I wanted to go in I had to sit on the side. They should have planned better and thought of parents. The splash area looked good for small children, but did not interest my 8 year old. We was luckily tall enough to do some sides this year which was a plus, although we only did them once. Mini was gold was average for a ship, but the sports complex area was impressive overall. The ropes course and plank over th edge was pretty sick, in addition to the bungee trampoline for anyone under 90lbs. The sports complex is really the good thing I have to say about the ship RCI 6 NCL 1.5 Private Islands - I have only been to CocoCay, not Labadee but I need to make it happen. I loved CocoCay, water was beautiful and it was so relaxing. Loved everything was included like the ship. Tendering is a downside although that is now changing! I was so excited for Harvest Caye in Belize. They just built it and it looked amazing. As time went on I found out it wasn’t your typical private island and everything was run by locals not the ship, so nothing was included. After some time I became ok with the idea that it wasn’t truly a private island, instead just another port stop. There were some people on board who hadn’t done their research and were not pleased which is understandable. It is also why you do a little research first. The island landscaping and water was beyond beautiful. I felt like we were on a pacific island. We had the last villa on the beach so it was nice and private and service was amazing. I defiantly enjoyed my day there more than CocaCay but I think the villa had something to do with that.. I will totally be looking into one for the 2019 GC. Since to me it’s not truly a “Private Island” I’m giving NCL .5 points, making the total RCI 6 NCL 2 As you can see by the scores, it wasn’t all bad. I found the ship not as family friendly as Royal Caribbean, and if you are traveling without children you may have a very different experience, and until the last day I was thinking I would maybe sail them again, just as an adults only cruise, until... I was looking over my bill the last sea day and noticed a $300 charge from the Tempanyaki night. My sons birthday was one night on board and 9 of us went to dinner there. 6 of us had the specialty dinning package and I was paying for the other 3.. I promise you it’s not $100 per person. I went to guest services to correct and she insisted we used all the nights and that’s why we were charged. After arguing for 20 mins and a few phone calls, she finally figured out that they not only charged me for all 9 but thwas dining was applied that night. Now, to issue the refund she had to get the manager of that restaurant to do it, she couldn’t. We waited abou 15 mins and he argued with us and didn’t even understand the receipt from HIS restaurant. It clearly said “9 @ $29.95” then the service charge the and the total (around $310). He was an asshat (can I say that on here?) and said I was “wrong” and he needed a calculator. Needless to say I got my refund. Did I mention I am an accountant? The last night of the cruise we went to get our pictures. My mother and I split a 30 print package for $250 prior to sailing. There was a special onboard for that price plus a USB of all the images. We asked a girl if ours had that and she said yes. We went to order our prints and another asshat (I can say that, right?) said it was $20 extra. He called the girl over and proceeded to argue with her, she was insisting it did and he did not. She ended up apologizing saying she was mistaken and it doesn’t come with ours since we bought ahead of time. So basically they penalize you for buying ahead even though the falsely advertised you were saving money booking ahead. More importantly the horrible customer service from Jovan in the photo studio who not only argued with me but also very rudely with a coworker right in front of us. Over a $20 USB after spending $250 on pictures!!! I walked out of there with my free USB and someone who will only be sailing RCI from now on!! Did I mention my son and grandmother who shared a room both left with rashes? They decided to check for any infestation on disembarkation day I feel like I may have rambled there at points and also probably forgot to touch on something so if you have any questions please feel free to ask!
  12. 15 points
    tiny blonde

    Freedom of the Seas Fatality?

    I totally agree that Grandpa used poor judgement resulting in a tragic mistake. But I don't think the family is necessarily trying to "strike it rich" - because I remember how I felt when tragedy struck my family, albeit under different circumstances. One of the early symptoms of grief is anger, and certainly this family has a lot to be angry about (Mom is angry at Dad for letting Grandpa take the baby over to the window, Dad is angry at Grandpa for lifting the baby up to the window, Grandpa is angry at himself for being responsible for the tragedy, Grandma is angry at Grandpa for causing the death of the baby, etc.) and when people are angry, they flail around looking for someone to blame. When my daughter was killed, I was angry at EVERYONE with whom I could find anything to be angry about, and her father was so angry he drove people away (a phenomenon you may have observed in other bereaved parents), but that was just a normal grief reaction that gave way, eventually, to the deep grief that comes when the energy provided by anger is spent. The only person I blame is the lawyer, who I think is the one trying to get rich by inventing this cockamamie story of it being a "kids area" and parading this family in front of the media. I don't hate lawyers, by any means. My dad was a lawyer, but he never chased an ambulance or a cruise ship or dragged his clients into the limelight. He honored the confidentiality of the lawyer/client relationship, that this lawyer apparently never heard of.
  13. 15 points
    Just got off Harmony on a brand new itinerary: Port Canaveral, CocoCay (2nd time this ship visits here), Cozumel, Roatan (first time for Harmony), & Costa Maya Here are a few stray observations I had: 1) I did NOT purchase Voom, but discovered that if I simply connected to the Harmony-Guest wifi (for the app updates and schedules), I was easily able to send/receive iMessages to anyone, including those back at home! 2) The Stowaway Piano Man was on this sailing. I had the privilege of riding the elevator with him! 3) First time Harmony visited Roatan. The captain changed our arrival / departure times. Roatan local time was 2 hours earlier that ship time (that remained on Eastern time). Original ship scheduled time was 8AM - 5PM (ship time). New schedule was 9:30AM - 6:30PM (ship time). Evidently, the local vendors didn't want to be there at 6AM (their local time / 8AM ship time) to open up shops, so the captain delayed the arrival / departure time. 4) Got WOW bands for everyone in our group. They worked extremely well, and could be used anywhere on the ship in lieu of a seapass card. They also worked for entry into Thrill Waterpark on CocoCay. Every station on the ship had portable readers that read either your WOW band or your seapass card. This worked for everything from towel checkout to shops to entry into reserved shows & events. You still needed your seapass card for getting off the ship, and for entry in the ports back onto the ship. 5) The Soda cups for the freestyle machines were the same old-style ones I've seen before. I did see a few of the new ones (with straw and looped carry handle), but didn't know where they came from. I had a boardwalk balcony cabin, so got complementary soda cups. Even those that were for sale on board (with various drink packages) were only the original style ones... 6) There seemed to be professional photographers on the ship most every night, and not just formal dining nights. I didn't recall seeing this many days with photographers and various backgrounds on prior cruises. 7) Did the escape room (and made it out with 5 1/2 minutes to spare!). This event was extremely popular. Spoke with someone in guest services, and they said the escape room was completely booked within two days (all days and all sessions) of it becoming available to book on the cruise planner. Glad I booked it as soon as I saw it available! 8 ) CocoCay - Two things: A) Plan on doing the "highest" waterslide and the slingshot ride as soon as you can. With the volume of people on Harmony, the lines were extremely long (2+ hour wait for these two rides) past about 10AM. The lines finally shortened closer to about 3:30PM to 4PM. B) The lockers in Thrill Waterpark were complementary to use. Cost was included in the Thrill Waterpark ticket purchase. You just found a open / available locker, put our stuff in, and locked it. We could then open it and access our stuff, and simply re-lock it as needed. I have no idea if lockers outside of Thrill Waterpark were complementary or not... 9) Cruise Director, Marc, was excellent!!! Overall, we had an awesome cruise!!!
  14. 15 points
    The selfie @twangster took of himself as he soared through the air dangling from one of the drones was amazing. It's a shame you and @Matt missed it since you skipped the photos. I can't believe they took a volunteer from the audience for that role. Shows a lot of natural athletic ability, obviously.
  15. 15 points
    Day 4 - St Thomas There is no easy way to put this, this post will be photo intensive. Sorry @Matt, in the immortal words of Roy Sheider's character in Jaws... "We're going to need a bigger boat". I met with a friend and former co-worker before the excursion. He reports the majority of residents on St Thomas have power back but other luxuries like cable TV are still a work in progress. Residents on St John are still getting there. Many areas have power but more remote areas are still without. Despite that people are settling back into a routine. My excursion today - St John's "All Inclusive" Beach & Snorkel To clear up a commonly heard misconception, all inclusive refers to ferry + taxi + park admission + snorkel gear. Nothing else. No water, food or anything else. A few pictures around Crown Bay to start us off: Our greeting committee: Our chariot (ferry) to St Johns. We cruised along the Southern coast of St Thomas and from a distance much looked normal but you could see many of these coastal buildings took it hard during the storm and they are a work in progress. Twenty fives minutes later we approached Cruz Bay in St Johns. We loaded into our taxi's to begin our way to Trunk Bay. Our first glimpse at Trunk Bay. After a 15 minute drive we arrived at the Virgin Islands National Park - Trunk Bay. Restrooms and showers faired well during the storm: Some things like the concessions are not open yet. Chairs are available for rent. Snorkel gear included in the excursion was available near the beach. There is a snorkel trail underwater. The beach is gorgeous with sugar like sand. The snorkel course is to the left of the island with marker buoys in the water. I set my stuff in the sand and donned my snorkel gear. Lots of Sea Urchins. You do not want to step on one. If you look closely you'll see lots of minnows. This complete and about an hour later we boarded our taxi. Our driver stopped at several viewing spots so we could take pictures. That's the British Virgin Isles in the distance. Jumbie Beach This is the Caneel Bay Resort. Like most hotels it's closed pending restoration. Back on our ferry and heading to St Thomas they offered beer for $5 (brewed in Portland, ME). I managed to talk to a few locals this trip. Most hotels remains closed with no word when they might reopen. Building material and labor are hard to come by to fix them. While some hotels have opened, tourism is swayed towards cruise ships at the moment. While island life is settling into a new normal, the storm's effects continue. For example, rain inundated many homes. Appliances not physically damaged are beginning to rust and break down just now from water damage, even if minor at the time. The storms that keep on giving. Those that had the money built with concrete and faired better than those with older homes. They didn't escape unscathed though, even the concrete began to saturate from the days of rain before, during and after both storms which amounted to weeks of rain. The concrete in some cases withstood the wind but leaked water from saturation. I was glad to make it over to St Johns and just as happy to see life moving forward. It's a process but the tens of thousands of dollars each cruise ships brings are very welcome. With hotels shut many are out of work but they very much appreciate each ship and the jobs that are created from the cruise industry.
  16. 15 points
    This is my crowning achievement!
  17. 14 points

    2 Perfect Day Stops

    The majority of guests boarding Mariner have never been on a cruise before. Perfect Day is proving to be immensely popular for good reason. Combine the two and I can understand why they are trying this. If the feedback is positive they'll likely continue, if not they likely won't. The idea of two stops is appealing. That's taking me two cruises, one last week and another next week. Let's examine this concept that the new Perfect Day is a money grab compared to the old CocoCay. Thrill water park is a small section of the island. Beyond the water park the same excursions are available that always have been at CocoCay, except... Remember the old Aqua Park? $37 for one hour. That's it in the distance. Yep, that's what you got for one hour and $37 back in 2017. Remember the old slides from 2017? $26 for a day pass. Not included in the Aqua Park. Now for roughly the same price of the old aqua park and old slide you get an entire water park with wave pool and multiple slides that are incredible. Thrill water park is $62 in most of my upcoming stops at CocoCay. To me that represents pretty great value compared to the CocoCay of yesterday. BTW - see all those loungers in the top picture? Notice anything missing? The $20 umbrellas! Here is a Perfect Day picture from last week. Now, umbrellas all over the place and they are free! If you just want a relaxing beach day without spending a dime that describes 90% of Perfect Day including a free fresh water pool and now Perfect Day is so much nicer than the old CocoCay. If you want a water park, the price today has so much more value compared to the old Aqua park and inflatable slide of yesterday's CocoCay at the same price. Plus no more tendering! Come and go from the ship as much as you want. What's not to love about Perfect Day?
  18. 14 points
    One reason that I love the Intercontinental Miami is their Club level rooms which give you access to their Club Lounge. Happy Hour and Breakfast are complimentary here in the club lounge. The hours are 5-7pm and 7-11am. Here are the selections for Happy Hour tonight: Mini sliders Chicken Croquette Chicken Wings Specialty coffee Make your own cocktails My pre-dinner snack: The wings were so good I went back for seconds on those. Needless to say, we were stuffed by the time we actually headed out for dinner.
  19. 14 points

    I had to share this

    Back when I blogged my first cruise on Freedom last year, I had posted a couple of pictures I'd taken of some art my younger daughter had drawn / painted while we were staying in the hotel pre-cruise. Here's the photo again, for those who hadn't seen... What a difference a year of high school can make! This was Kara's final project for the year in year in her Freshman Drawing and Painting class: Hand drawn, hand colored, all her own work and effort. I cannot begin to say how proud I am of her, and I can't begin to imagine the career and life she'll have ahead of her as an artist. Yes, she already has determined that being an artist is her career choice; she wants to major in illustration in college, but may double major in photography after taking photography 1 this year as well, and discovering that even with her benign tremor she is able to compensate well enough to take photos that have gotten her repeated praise from her teacher in that class as well, along with winning many "picture of the week" contests in her class and having some of her photos showcased at gallery events the school has held. #seriouslyproudpapa
  20. 14 points
    We all know how awesome it is to live vicariously through others who are on a Royal Caribbean cruise while we are not. Not only can we "be there" and experience what they are experiencing right in that moment but live broadcasts from various ships are also a great way to research a ship and ask questions of someone who is standing on the ship that you are thinking about booking. Many thanks to RCPeriscopers.live and especially @CruisingKat(Kathy) for maintaining a list of scopers and which ships they will be on. You can find those lists both in the RCPeriscopers.live Facebook group but also right here on RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/forum/10-periscope-peeps/ This brings me to the point of this post. If you have ever enjoyed watching someone broadcast live from a ship, have you considered trying it on your next Royal Caribbean cruise? It's easier than you think. Here are some tips and tricks for anyone thinking about scoping from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. 1. You Need an Internet Connection to Broadcast Fortunately Royal Caribbean offer pretty decent internet plans for purchase while cruising called Voom. Surf and Stream will work best for scoping. Depending on your cellular plan you can scope using cellular data but be aware of charges or plan limitations your cell provider will impose for consuming large amounts of cellular data. Many cruisers have coverage included for their embarkation port and often using cellular to scope sail away works well if you will be within your data plan limits to avoid extra charges. 2. Not all Voom is Created Equally. Some ships are easier to scope from. These tend to be Oasis, Quantum and Freedom class ships. Broadcasting from other ships is possible but sometimes it doesn't work quite the same. On any given ship the Wi-Fi on board can also vary. Much like in your home where there can be weak Wi-Fi spots like in a garage or on the back patio, there can be weak Wi-Fi spots on ships. With all the metal walls and structure to a ship providing strong Wi-Fi everywhere can be a challenge especially outdoors such as on helipads and around pool decks. Geographic location can play a factor as well. Alaska is so far North that satellite coverage can be poor at many times. Other regions can also have less satellite coverage. The Caribbean has so many ships that often satellite coverage provides a better Voom experience there. Weather and rain clouds can impact the Voom experience. Satellites are way up in the sky and if a heavy rain cloud is over the ship the signal can be degrade temporarily causing a Voom slow down. Bottom line - internet on a moving ship in the middle of the ocean isn't perfect and it can impact your ability to broadcast on Periscope. Having said, Voom works pretty well most of the time. 3. Be Indiana Jones Chances are you are not be feeling sea sick on your cruise but your viewers will be if you aren't cautious about how your hold and move your device while broadcasting. Whipping your phone around wildly, up, down, left, right can be quite unpleasant to watch. Avoid sharp, wild movements and try to remember your viewer as you are walking around or moving your device to show your viewers something of interest. Just like Indiana Jones carefully moving that precious monument, be slow and fluid with your camera movements. 4. Mic Drops Are In, Phone Drops Not So Much Holding your phone at arms length to scope can be tiring. Make use of railings to support your elbows to avoid arm fatigue for longer scopes. In a previous post I offered how a cheap wrist strap can avoid the death grip phenomena when holding your phone over a railing: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5801-phone-case-wrist-strap-hack/&tab=comments#comment-61116 5. Can You Hear Me Now? The best audio results occur when using an external microphone plugged into your device. At the moment Periscope doesn't support bluetooth devices so you need to plug in a wired headset/microphone or use the built in microphone on your device. Periscope assumes that if you are holding your phone pointing it at something interesting that is where the sound should be coming from. However when you want to talk and respond to viewers you are probably standing behind your phone pointing it away from you. In this case your voice isn't coming from where you have pointed your phone. When using the built in microphone on your device you'll likely need to bring your phone very close to your mouth if you want your voice to be heard while speaking. If you were having a phone call would you hold your phone at arms length and expect to be heard? Probably not. To overcome this a wired microphone is best. You can clip the microphone to your shirt and then the microphone will always be close to your voice regardless where you are pointing your phone. The wired headset that likely came with your phone can also be used to save the expense of buying a microphone just for scoping. Much like you might do when on a phone call, place the earbud in one ear and the microphone will likely be in an ideal spot to pick up your voice because that is how a wired headset was intended to be used. You won't hear anything when broadcasting but you will be heard. 6. Wind in Your Sails is Great, But Not on Your Microphone Often the very things we want to show the world are outside. On a ship, moving or not, any wind bristling over your microphone will make it difficult to hear your voice. The solution? - Enter your pet hamster. For some time now Hollywood has employed furry microphone covers as a mean to eliminate wind noise when shooting movies outside. We are not Hollywood producers shooting a movie but we can leverage the same concept for scoping just on a smaller scale. Many wired microphones come with furry covers for this purpose and with a furry covered microphone clipped to your shirt, many people have jokingly observed it is like having a pet hamster with you. An alternative for scopers on a budget is an inexpensive furry cover designed for a lapel microphone wrapped around the microphone on the wired headset that may have come with your phone. This is much smaller than a pet hamster and a guest on a snorkel excursion noted that I have a caterpillar on my headset so that is what I call my version. I detailed how to do so in this post: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/6243-my-caterpillar-factory-headset-mic-hack-for-wind-noise/&tab=comments#comment-67138 Bonus - people will just assume you are on Facetime with your grandmother as you walk around the ship. Okay that's all well and good for basics, but how do you broadcast using Periscope? If you have watched any scopes I'm going to assume you have the Periscope app on your device already. That same app is all you need to broadcast. 7. How to Broadcast On Apple devices the middle icon below is how you begin to get ready to broadcast. Tapping on this icon brings to to the screen to get ready to "Go Live!" But wait... 8. Practice Makes Perfect You've never scoped before and you'd like to get the hang of it without the world seeing you in your pajamas. Good idea and we thank you for that. I know that big red button is hard to resist, but before mashing that "Go Live" button you can create a private group that no one but those that you invite can see. Note at the top it says "Public" but has a drop down type arrow. Tap that before hitting "Go Live" Now you can create a group and restrict who will even know that you are about to scope your practice session. I've called my practice group "justme". You can call it what ever you desire. You have to add at least one other member but you can delete them later before you start to Go Live. They will get a notice that you have added them to a group so pick a friend or family member but in the end they can't do anything with that notice so you are safe adding just about anyone that you will soon delete from your group. After tapping Add Members you will see this: Find a friend and tap the circle beside their name. Tap "Done" and now your group has two members, you and your victim friend. Tap create to create this new group. Once created you can edit the group and delete your friend by swiping left on their name. Now your group just has you as the only member. Tapping Done returns you to the screen to get ready to go live. Notice now it says the name of the group at the top instead of saying "Public". At this point you can Go Live safely knowing no one will see you in your pajamas. 9. OMG, How Do I End This Thing? To end a broadcast place your finger in the middle of the screen and swipe in the down direction. The "Stop Broadcast" button will appear. Tap it. At this point the broadcast is over and you can tap the X to return to the main screen of the app. 10. Ready to Scope to the World? Use a Creative Title ...and don't forget to use the hashtag #rcperiscopers You can add long titles. On a cruise you might include the ship name, event and/or port. Help yourself to be found by being descriptive. 11. If at First You Don't Succeed... Periscope can be fussy about the quality of the internet connection, particularly the ping time. Bandwidth is great, but for Periscope ping is king. You could be suffering from poor satellite coverage or poor Wi-Fi where you are standing. Try moving somewhere else on the ship and try again. This happened often on a recent Alaska cruise. 12. Don't Forget To Say It Welcome everyone to the broadcast, say something informative that builds on your description and if you want interaction, keep the dialogue going. "Just boarded Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas here in Seattle and we are getting ready to sail away. Our itinerary includes stop at..." Many people can't join live for whatever reason so welcome the replay viewers too. Give honorable mention to those that deserve it: "To watch more periscopes like this from ships across the Royal Caribbean fleet make sure you check out RCPeriscopers.live" "For anything you could possibly ever want to know about cruising on Royal Caribbean make sure you visit RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com" Many people like to come up with their signature ending such as the famous Ken Jarvis ending: "You know how we end these things, RK Sister...BOOM". 13. End on Something Interesting The last few seconds of video typically become the thumbnail for your scope A thumbnail of your feet or left thumb is okay, but an interesting thumbnail will garner more attention. 14. Keep it Clean You lens that is. Let's face it, phone camera lens are a magnet for fingerprints. I carry a microfiber cleaning cloth with me and clean my lens often. It makes for a much better visual. 15. Keeping it Wide I often use a wide angle lens snapped onto my phone for a wider angle of view. Completely optional but sometimes bigger is better. 16. Test Wi-Fi Coverage Before Your Walk-About Using the private group practice broadcast method above, I'll often do a quick test scope walking around the pool deck or through the promenade to see how the wi-fi coverage is. If it's going to break up and freeze after I've walked 10 feet, there is little sense in scoping it. 17. Periscope is Awesome, But... Periscope can be quite finicky. On some ships it is nearly impossible to watch a live scope from another user yet you can broadcast without any issues - weird. That's just Periscope being Periscope. Don't assume just because you can't watch live broadcasts that you can't broadcast yourself. For whatever reason many times you can watch the replay once it's over even if you could never join when they were live. When I'm on board and can't join a live scope, sometimes I can lurk and listen without joining. On the app's main page without tapping the broadcast to join it, tap the little speaker icon for that broadcast. You won't be seen as joining the broadcast but you will hear everything Matt is saying about BigSoberRon. 18. Switching Things Up Want to switch cameras or you've accidentally changed to the selfie camera? Double tap the screen to switch to the other camera. 19. Watch and Learn Young Grasshopper Learn from the pros. Watch scopes from folks like: @theRCLBlog @kcjarvis @CruisingKat @mpoole3 @BigDawgRonAZ @cookingyo @CruiseHabit Have a tip or trick of your own? Add it below. *********************************************** EDIT - Thought of a couple more... 20. Always Have a Backup Plan Did I mention Periscope can be fussy? If the moment is truly scope worthy and Periscope isn't cooperating you can try FaceBook Live within the Royal Caribbean Periscopers group. Sometimes Facebook Live isn't as fussy as Periscope can be but this shouldn't become your primary broadcast tool. After all it's RCPeriscopers.live 21. Scope Like No One is Watching Just because no one is watching you live doesn't mean they won't see the replay. Alaska is four hours off Eastern time. Europe, Australia, Hawaii, Asia? Royal Caribbean ships travel the world and the ship you are on may be on its way to a different region in a few months. People not on a cruise ship often have real jobs in the middle of the day. Not everyone can stop everything or pull the car to the shoulder of the road to watch your scope. Just because people don't set an alarm clock to wake up for your scope doesn't mean it won't have entertainment value later, from the casino bar, on Explorer, at 2am in some time zone. #RCLBlogGroupCruise #KrakenThief #OMGIHaveSignal!
  21. 14 points
    With a 6pm dinner I still had time to venture outside before we departed Havana. By this time the surface of the sun was no longer 250' from us and it had 'cooled' down. I use that terminology loosely. The humidity had dropped from 3,000% to 2,999%. The Captain no longer used Kelvin to measure the outside temperature. With my core temperature down and with an acceptable margin from boiling point I went up top to catch sail away. Four names were announced over the PA system. Yep... pier runners! This is not the port I'd pick to be late back to the ship. Looking down from deck 11 I watched as they walked back onto the ship at least 15 minutes late. Ok, they haven't benefited from a shower and time in A/C to cool down so I'll cut them some slack for walking. Soon enough the sun was beginning to set. In better light compared to this morning here once again is the Christ of Havana. Fully backed out we started making our way forward out of the harbor. Some locals fishing on the pier to right waved and wished us bon voyage. One last look at Del Morro basking in golden hour this time. The upper decks were quite busy. Everyone wanted to capture one last look at Cuba as we sailed away from her. It was a beautiful evening and everyone was enjoying it. With the sun getting lower the Pool Bar caught my eye. It's time. I had the perfect drink in mind. A Kraken Lava Flow. No drink package but it was worth every penny. What a day. After this it was time to head down to my balcony to do some blogging...
  22. 13 points
    Cabin Another story here…. After our Anthem of the Seas cruise in 2018, my wife, now unashamedly, is a suite snob. Frankly, I whole heartedly support this as well. So, when we booked this cruise, we booked a grand suite. The price was decent, done. The Owners suites were more than what we wanted to spend, and the 1 Royal Suite was WAY more. After the cruise was booked, I kept an eye on prices, made some adjustments here or there and the waiting game began. We thought, who knows, maybe we can try to see what could happen with a Royal Up bid A few months ago, while doing a routine price check, I see a 2br grand suite is now available. A quick phone call to Royal, and we are now sailing in a 2br grand suite for about the same price as what we booked the cruise for originally. A few weeks ago, we did get the Royal Up email. We had the option for an Owners Suite or the Royal Suite. We bid on the Royal Suite, but I’m not going to hold my breath since looking now, all the suites are sold out. Pre-Cruise Like I said, we are flying in a few days early. Friday 9/20 we are flying into FLL. Southwest flights were much cheaper and had more convenient times than flying to MIA. So, the plan is we will rent a car to use for the couple days prior to be able to explore around etc without a ton of Uber/Lyft charges. Embarkation day I will drop the family off at the port around 10, bring the car back to MIA and take the enterprise shuttle back to the port. I looked at dropping off at other locations near the port, but this was the most cost effective. We are staying at the Gates Hotel South Beach. We picked this hotel due to its proximity to south beach and Heather wanted direct beach access without having to pay a super-premium price. She is a Hilton member through her job, so that also narrows the choices. This hotel also includes its own area for chairs and other activities too on the beach. Post Cruise This is where it also gets fun. After disembarkation, we will be taking the shuttle to MIA for another rental car which we will drive to Orlando with. Friday evening, we have tickets to Magic Kingdom for Mickey’s No So Spooky Halloween Party. Heather is a huge Disney fan and is really looking forward to this. Much to my dismay, she has us all wearing Hocus Pocus themed shirts for that night….yay… Saturday, we have tickets to Universal Studios. Gotta check out the new Hagrid Ride…. And again, we have matching themed shirts. At least this time, they are Hogwarts/Harry Potter ones. Sunday, we head home. The Surprise Like I said earlier, this whole trip will be a surprise for the kids. The plan to make this work is that we will be packing in secret. We will drop the kids off at school on Friday, then load up the car. We will pick the kids up at dismissal at school and go straight to the airport. At this point, We will let them in on a little bit of the surprise, which will be we are just going to Florida and will be on the beach. On cruise day, we will pack up the car and say we are headed to another hotel, but not tell them that the hotel is the cruise ship. This is going to be so much fun. I plan on writing about our experiences at Disney and Universal as well so grab the popcorn and wine, its going to be a wild ride and thanks for following along!
  23. 13 points

    Cruise Planner Sale July 15, 2019

    No love for me. Deluxe bev pkg is still only $52 with BOGO50 / 25% off. C’mon Royal!! Where’s that intern with another $18 sale for all 2019 sailings?!?
  24. 13 points
    I think you still have your polite teacher hat on. Let me translate to vacation-speak...
  25. 13 points
    I am here now on Adventure of the Seas. Left out of Port Bayonne/Cape Liberty yesterday. When they scanned our carry ons at security, they saw our three cases of soda and told us that only one was permitted per stateroom, and they took two away. Bummer! Yes, we knew the policy, but a lot of others on the boards said to give it a try, so we did. (Please do not judge😀). The ship is ROCKING like crazy! We are heading now to Bermuda and it has been nonstop back and forth. Never needed Dramamine in our lives, and everyone that we know is taking it! CONSTANT MOTION! Thank God we packed it! Food is great, easy to find lots of great food! Great mix of people here, all ages. We were told there are currently 200 children on board. My son is 15 and went to the teen meet and greet last night and already has a pack of friends now to run around with. We have a dry erase board on our stateroom door and someone keeps drawing naked genitalia on it?????? My hubby is mad about that, but it is kind of funny to me😂😂😂😂😂 I am open to any questions anyone has about the Adventure of the Seas. May take me a day or two to reply, since I am having so much fun!
  26. 13 points
    All I can afford is my C&A cookies heated up using the hair dryer that comes with my interior cabin. Does that count?
  27. 13 points

    Oasis Class #6 !!!!

  28. 13 points
    Toss in a few night time shots of Adventure.
  29. 13 points
    Captain's Corner Given the large numbers of C&A Top Tier they figured this would be well attended and moved it into the main theater. Captain Rob has a unique and dry sense of humor. It was used extensively during this session much to the crowd's delight. Just as he was about to begin, some guests in the crowd broke out in "Happy Birthday to you...". Apparently today is his birthday. Symphony has a number of innovations including a slightly different hull shape that along with the air lubrication system (and other changes) make her 25% more efficient than Oasis. According to Captain Rob if you could see both ships in dry dock side by side the differences in the hull would be pretty apparent. Captain's Rob first ship (at Royal) was Grandeur. He was a Bering Sea fishing captain before joining Royal. Moving to Royal he accepted a pay cut and joined as a junior bridge officer. He worked up through the ranks to eventualy become a Captain again here at Royal. There are currently two Masters for Symphony, Captain Rob and Captain Rick. They work a 10 week on/off cycle. They keep in touch with each other at all times and let each other know what's going on around the ship. According to U.S. Health Department code that the ship follows even in international waters, any food that is once placed out for consumption but not used is destroyed and run through the waste management process. It is not, despite rumors, fed to the crew or used the next day. The little deviation we did last night was due to cleaning out the ship's economizers in the stacks. They need to be cleaned periodically and the zig zag course was executed as part of the cleaning process according to Captain Rob. Captain Rob is not aware of any four sisters meet up. He thinks it may happen, but at some future point. He was on Oasis during the planning of the three sisters and that planning started months before it occurred. As he offered "Photoshop works really well and is a whole lot cheaper". An enjoyable session with the Master of the vessel.
  30. 13 points
    I know, they won't let me bring my emotional support alligator on the air plane anymore. He used to fit under the seat but I guess since he's 8 feet now the over head was the only place.
  31. 13 points

    Cancelled Cruise Update

    We are so glad that we could jump in and try to help you out. It does take some time to talk to all areas at the cruise line, and sometimes it doesn't work out this well, but so glad we could could help keep your spring break plans in place. Im sure once the kids see the new ship and the changes they will be excited and then all the new changes on Cocoa Cay. I know many times people will ask Matt or our agents, "why should I use a Travel Agent" its these situations where you need a few other people in your corner to fight for you - and we are happy to do that for all our clients.
  32. 13 points
    So I did one periscope but my cruises are about absolute relaxation! So no voom, no live blog and not a ton of pics. But I had an amazing time with my husband and 15 year old daughter (who I pretty much only saw 1 day lol). I had not been on a cruise until 2015. We did 3 cruises in 2 years and then we hit Disney (the other obsession!) I can't even describe how much I missed being on a ship. This was the 2nd time on freedom. I did like the cruise terminal at port Canaveral better than port Everglades but embarkation was super easy... under 40 minutes for sure and drinking my first lava flow (with kraken rum) by 11! We had an ocean view... plenty big enough for the 3 of us. Our stateroom attendant suzanna was wonderful and we loved our 4 towel animals! The 6 days was too short (Joe took my extra day for his 8 day. Freedom alternates 6 and 8 day cruises right now) but we still hit 3 ports... grand Cayman, Costa maya and cozumel. The biggest disappointment of the trip was that it was so windy in grand cayman that they canceled all excursions to stingrays city. I was very bummed but we still got to swim with lucky the dolphin and buy lots of pics! In Costa maya my husband did one of the ruins while my daughter and I shopped and enjoyed the one day we could get near the pool (chair hugs were awful and i sure wish rc would enforce their policy). In cozumel we went to nachi. Since there were a ton of ships in port I'm glad we went. We got in so early we beat all the employees... got a beautiful beach spot! We enjoyed it... the food was excellent! Speaking of food, we ate...a ton! Sabor was excellent (service not great though) and I loved the tuna tacos and the guac. I tried all 3 margaritas (goes love the drink pkg) and liked the cucumber jalapeno the best. Chops was so good (and the service great) that we took the 25%off and went back the next night. The my time dining was mixed.... the service was fast (almost too fast) but the tables for 2 were right on top of each other and the food was good, but not amazing. I'm glad we tried my time but not sure we will do it again. And then....CHEFS TABLE! the chef was amazing, the wine was amazing, the food was amazing and the dessert (the world from wonderland) was ever moist AMAZING thing I've ever eaten or watched!! This was our 2nd chefs table and we will definitely do it again. RC lost money on my drink pkg for sure. Most days I parked myself on my sky deck chair with my book... read, eat, drink, repeat. We also had a mocha or latte every morning, wine with dinner (loved the bartender at vintages... she never steered us wrong and one of her suggestions was served at chefs table) and after dinner drinks. My daughter was probably a wash in terms of cost...we got her the refreshment pkg and she was over a few days, probably underused more but it was nice to have it paid for before the cruise. The ship never felt crowded and traffic flow was great. It's really a perfect size... not too big and not too small. For what I do (loaf in a chair and try to thaw) it works well. I'd love to try oasis class for the dining and the shows... someday lol! Precruise we stayed at the Hilton marina. We had an amazing corner balcony that had views of the intercoastal waterway as well as the port. Their pool area was a perfect way to unwind precruise! We ate at cheesecake factory on Las olas and that was fun. Post cruise we stayed at the W hotel and got upgraded to a 2 bedroom suite...amazing! I could sit on the balcony staring at the ocean and the waterway!. Both were absolute splurges but we decided to yolo book them! And so now I'm over 400 days till my next ocean cruise. I thought about a 5 night navigator next spring break but we really need to save for our summer 2019 cruise...12 night Mediterranean/ Greek isles out of Barcelona on vision of the seas. It will be the trip of a lifetime and with 8 ports we will spend a 5 night cruise amount just on excursions. We also have Paris this summer to link forward to (we have never been to Europe and will be going on a viking river cruise!) Both are very different from our Caribbean cruising! So that is my freedom trip. I wanted to share more since I love reading everyone else's blogs but I was too busy reading and being lazy! Let me know if you have any questions! Jane
  33. 13 points
    Embarkation Day recap... We checked out of the hotel about 10:20 and hailed a Lyft. The experience was not nearly as smooth this time; the first assigned driver mysteriously changed the ride to “in progress” without ever showing up, and I had to cancel that one and hail another (thankfully with no penalty applied). The second driver we got showed up earlier than predicted, but clearly didn’t know the area fully as he was blindly following Lyft’s GPS directions and I could see it was taking him in a crazy route compared to where the port was. It eventually got us there, and we made our way to Terminal 29, the very last one in the port. As we made our way through, we passed Harmony of the Seas, Carnival Conquest, and HAL Nieuw Amsterdam. It was indeed a busy day in the port! We arrived about 11:10, and there was already a good line of cars forming for drop-off. We checked our bags with a porter and I tipped $10 for our 8 bags (four big suitcases and four carry-ons that we wanted to check, while keeping the essentials in our backpacks and handbags). I was openly gawking at the ship and the sheer size of her, now that I could see her up close. I kind of pissed off the port workers as I failed to quickly follow their directions to GTFO and go into security, and just stood there for a minute debating whether to take a picture (I didn’t). From there we quickly went through security, and ship check-in was relatively fast as well comparing to other times I’ve seen reported here. We boarded Freedom around 11:50, so a 40 minute turnaround. Considering the large crowd already there when we arrived, and the time I “wasted” ogling her from outside the terminal building, I’d consider that pretty good. Sadly, our t-shirts advertising our 20th anniversary got us no love from any attendants, and we had to take the “no status” line. Here’s a shot of the crowd at the checkin counter, plus a panoramic showing it wasn’t actually that crowded. We boarded on deck 4, and went straight to the gym and spa so my wife could find out about those unlimited classes. Unfortunately, this resulted in us getting the guided spa tour, which none of us wanted but we got roped into as we didn’t see the way into the gym that bypassed the spa. We realized afterward that we should have gotten off at deck 11 instead of 12. My wife ended up not signing on to the unlimited classes in the gym, deciding she’ll be fine just using the complimentary equipment. But she did sign up for the free pampering session they had on offer, and the girls signed up for the teen version (though they might skip it). After this, we went outside to the pool deck, and had our first split up of the day, with the girls wandering off to explore the ship. I got right down to business, and sat down in a lounger in the shade with my first beverage — a lava flow! It was good, at least when the rum wasn’t settled to the bottom and overwhelming the flavor. My wife stayed with me and had a taste, agreed it was good. We got up and explored the rest of the deck, enjoying the view of the surrounding area. I had a moment looking over the railing where it really hit me that I was on a cruise ship, about to embark on a helluva trip, and I laughed out loud. This is what I was looking at. From the other side of the ship, we could see Harmony and Carnival Conquest, sharing the port with us. We made our way to the Promenade, and once again I had to take a few moments to just absorb it all and realize I was somewhere I’d only seen in pictures up to this point. Where to start?!? But, it was 1:10 and the announcement came out that rooms were now open. So, off we went to see what our balcony rooms were like. In two words, very nice! We were a little nervous when we saw how narrow the door was, but breathed a sigh of relief when we walked in and saw the actual space. No photos right now, my wife was adamant that I not do a photo tour set the second we got in. And happy wife does indeed equal happy life! She did not, however, say anything about taking photos of our view, so I give you one fisheye and one telephoto pic that sums it up. Our luggage arrived not long after, around 1:30. Most of it... Oddly, we got every piece except my wife’s carry-on; maybe because it was more like a very large handbag than a suitcase? That didn’t show up until a little after muster. Before muster, after unpacking our luggage, my wife and I went to the MDR to see where our table was and if we got the really big table we’d hoped for. We didn’t, but from what I could see there really weren’t any apart from a half dozen in the center. Our table is on Deck 3, #356, located to the right of the central staircase. We left the MDR and wandered around deck 4, making our way to Studio B and the ice rink. It is cold in there! By the time we were done taking in the MDR and ice rink, it was about time for muster. Muster itself was uneventful, but a little surprising. I was sure we were going to be outside, so I had all of us put on sunscreen... and then we had muster in the Star Lounge! It was over pretty quickly, and then D14 and I got Down to our post-muster goal — a margarita for me to have with sailaway, and a mocktail for her. She went back to the room to enjoy sailaway from her balcony (favorite spot #4, per @Matt, IIRC), and I made my way to the helicopter deck (favorite spot #1) by way of the “secret path” through the Star Lounge. Here I did my first ever Periscope, which was... well, let’s say I have a lot to learn on this front. 😅 I really enjoyed sailaway. The weather at this point was perfect, not too much sun, comfortable temperature, and a refreshing breeze blowing in. Once we cleared the channel and got into the open ocean, I took a few pics of the receding coastline and the helipad. I made my way all the way aft to take in the view of the wake. Doing that walk really made clear how long the ship is! But it was worth it, as I caught this view that was absolutely striking. After this, I met up with everyone back at the cabin. We got changed for dinner, then saw the welcome aboard show. I got my second margarita of the day before the show started. We got to meet our cruise director, Drew. He was very funny and engaging, so this bodes well; I found out later from the staff at Vintages that he just transferred (from Liberty?) last week. As for the main acts, there was a pair of artistic dancers who opened up the show and were really impressive, with good choreography and some jaw dropping moves. After them was a comedian who was hit and miss for me, mostly because of some his subject matter that has become a sensitive subject for me. No photos as photography was not allowed and we were sitting in the back of the theater. After that, we had our 8 PM dinner (not 8:30 as I’d originally posted) in the MDR. Menus are the same as posted earlier by @LetsTryThisPlace in his live blog, so I didn’t take pictures. Also didn’t take pics of our food as I was too engaged with the family and our table mates, a mother and son from Michigan who happen to know @mpoole3 and have cruised with him a couple times! Small world, indeed! I tried the escargot, not expecting to like them, and was very pleasantly surprised! D14 had asked to try one if I liked them, so I passed over the plate. I have to quote her here, because it kind of sums up my own experience: ”I’m kind of nervous about this...” ::eats the piece, and a moment later her face simultaneously lights up and gets confused:: “This is wrong, why does this taste so good?!?” She said she’d have it for sure tomorrow, assuming it’s offered. The rest of our meals were very good. In addition to the escargot, I had the wild mushroom soup, the horseradish crusted salmon, and creme brûlée for dessert. My wife had the Caesar salad, spaghetti bolognese, and royal chocolate cake. D14 had the crispy calamari, prime rib, and hazelnut chocolate. And D17 had the French onion soup, salmon, and fruit for dessert. D14 and I both got a cappuccino with our dessert, which is why I’m posting a novella at 1 AM instead of sleeping; lesson learned! After dinner, I went to the pub and spent some time listening to guitar player James Brown from Canada for a while, while I enjoyed a Paulaner Salvator double bock. I Periscoped some of his set before my battery got too low, and my wife joined me after a while. We tried to go back to the helipad to see the stars, but the moon is full and the wind from the bow so strong that we couldn’t even make it all the way up there! We decided to call it a day and went back to our cabin, where I started working on this. She fell asleep about midnight, but I was still wired and decided to finish this post. So there you have it! Future posts may be broken up more or they may also be novellas, but that’s the writer in me for you. I hope I conveyed how amazing this first day was for all of us, me especially. Just want to wrap up with a couple items: - Drink package tally: 1 lava flow, 2 reposado margaritas, 1 cappuccino, and 1 craft beer; I think I got my money’s worth today, given the $43/night rate I paid. - I stopped in the casino briefly and spoke with the gent at the craps table; minimum is $5 all day, and you get single odds for that bet, however if you bet $25 you get double odds; betting $50 gives you 3x/4x/5x odds, depending on what number you rolled. So serious craps players can actually get Vegas casino level odds on their pass line play.
  34. 12 points

    Perfect Day Love

    I have yet to be to Perfect Day at CocoCay but this pic is my desktop background. I have high hopes of the time we get to spend on the island. I invite others who have been there to share their favorite memories there here. I hope this doesn't sound too corny.
  35. 12 points
    Our tour was very nice. Plenty of time to see things and get out of the very nice van. Here are some highlights:. Park guell:  I apologize in advance...I'm taking most pics on my camera but trying to do some for here on my phone. I had beautiful pics of the buildings with the columns in the back. I also have some amazing pics of the tile work close up. The pics here don't do it justice! Give yourself at least an hour here... We only had an hour and we'd have liked at least another half hour or so. Jane
  36. 12 points
    Backtracking a bit a today was a busy day! I need a cruise from all this land vacation nonsense! 😂 I think I left off this morning with the Naked Cowboy. He was the first thing we saw after the tour started. But just in case you missed the earlier post, here are some that D12 caught on her camera 🤣 The Viator tour was hectic but very comprehensive. Money well spent as we saw tons of sights. However, if you ever plan to do this tour, be ready to move and walk. Here are pics from around the city. 📸: Mostly all Hubby and one D10. Times Square (last night) The Lulubot always can find a home base. Hornblower Cruises Junior Photographer in training: Her work. 📸: D10 9/11 Memorial Rushing to get back for the pizza meet up:
  37. 12 points
    Day 2 Seas are much calmer - the skies are much clearer. Here's my @twangster style balcony pic of the day I'm going to get dressed and grab some coffee - we've got NorthStar booked today at 11:30... looking forward to it! Dinner tonight will be in Chops, and we also reserved "The Gift" a bit later tonight.
  38. 12 points
    I cruised Explorer in June. We ate in the MDR almost every night, never had any issues with the food. They ran out of food? I've never heard of such a thing. I met people this morning while waiting to board Mariner who were on that same cruise and they didn't mention any issues. It's unfortunate you got sick from another guest. I've heard of people refusing to give up their cruise because they were sick and they boarded any ways. Getting sick happens on land as well. As a frequent business traveler I can't count the number of times I've gotten sick after flying domestically within the U.S. They only quarantine when it's appropriate. Not going to the doctor for fear of quarantine puts other guests at risk. If you've both gotten this sick you've likely infected someone else. Imagine how they feel.
  39. 12 points
    I bought a Rolex a couple of years ago. They are quite affordable but I hardly wear it and it's a bit bulky. It was $36 on the streets of San Juan. Still not sure what all the fuss is about.
  40. 12 points

    My So Called Live Blog on Harmony

    Cruise compass out of order since one wouldn’t post initially. We made it on the ship easily. Shuttle from hotel was 10:30, we were on ship by 11:30. It could’ve been quicker but we had to wait for people. Braved Windjammer for lunch. Got to my room. On third drink. Drink package already worth it.
  41. 12 points

    Royal vs NCL -- I'm feeling tempted

    It never hurts to consider other options. My only NCL experience is so long ago it's not relevant any longer. When I've looked at NCL in the past, before becoming Loyal2Royal, my research led me to a couple of conclusions. By and large the experience is more similar than not. The devil is in the details. Free at sea isn't really free, it's bundled into the cost. Any time I narrowed it down to a specific ship and sailing then compared costs the age old proven rule came to light - nothing in life is free. That's for me and my purchasing habits. I'm sure for some people the bundles work out for them. Once in a while you can find a deal that is an outlier. It seems people point to these like they are rule but any time I priced out an exact sail date it was never one of those outliers. Mini-suites in my research led me to conclude it's just a slightly bigger balcony cabin. Not really a suite and shouldn't be compared to a JS on Royal. When looking at NCL there are great variations from ship to ship. You really need to focus on one ship and reviews for that ship. While Royal's fleet has evolved and you can clearly see that evolution from class to class, NCL ships are more random. In some cases they acquired a ship when another company went broke mid-construction so they started with someone else's design and adapted it to NCL on the fly. They've also experimented more in design so it isn't an evolution so much as "... and now for something completely different" . There is nothing wrong with that, but those experiments haven't always worked out so well. Turns out there is a reason no other cruise line tried some of them. NCL internet packages don't work for me. There are many people who love to completely disconnect when cruising. For those people the internet plans on any line are irrelevant. I could never work from an NCL ship like I can on Royal. Like the ship design, internet across the NCL fleet is wildly different from one ship to the next. The newer ships have decent internet but the older ships have really bad internet. 250 free minutes of really bad internet is just really bad. They've simply made no attempt to modernize internet across the fleet like Royal did in 2013. As far as loyalty programs, for my needs Royal is still tops but that is what I look for in a loyalty program. I've sailed five lines. I suppose had I never tried any other line I'd be further ahead compared to where I am now but I am where I am. In the end it hasn't stunted my advancement in C&A that much. Competition is a good thing. It keep Royal in check. Please sail other lines. Every time someone doesn't book Royal it lowers demand and causes Royal to lower prices (or keep them from increasing). That's a good thing and I thank you for taking one for the team. A cruise is what you make it. If someone gave me a free cruise on NCL's worst ship I'd still have a great time and not because it was free, rather because I don't do bad cruises.
  42. 12 points
    Breakfast in the Windjammer. Gotta love that view. One thing about my cabin. My door is at the entrance to the elevator lobby. Noise hasn't been an issue, sometimes I heard loud people walking down the hall but you'll hear that in any cabin. The thing is this. There is this creepy dummy on display and every time I open my cabin door it is the first thing I see. Last night his head turned as I walked past. Okay, maybe that was Kraken.
  43. 11 points
    I wonder if it is the same Youtuber who got most of the facts and projections wrong when Oasis was damaged in the crane incident. Some bloggers and vloggers will do anything to get clicks and followers, even make stuff up. Fortunately here on royalcaribbeanblog.com @Matt sticks with known and confirmed information, not speculation. If you want reliable information you'll find it right here https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/
  44. 11 points

    Swim Dress Code

    I've not seen it with my own eyes but I often talk to the crew and hear interesting stories. Bartenders who work the pool bar see a lot. When Freedom came back from Europe in 2017 she had an area marked for topless sunbathing. Sadly did not see any participants. Maybe all my camera gear scared them away.
  45. 11 points
    It’s’ cruise day! Currently on the train from Anchorage to Seward. I had a detailed post from yesterday however, it wouldn’t let me post and I didn’t save my post. I realized because I wasn’t entering my email address. I think we were awake for almost 24 hours yesterday. Spent half the day traveling and half the day exploring the Anchorage area. The Crow Pass Trail to Crystal Lake was absolutely stunning. Took about 4 hours round trip. Took great photos and even saw a Dal Sheep. So excited for our day. The train ride is stunning so far. Doing a 6 hour wildlife cruise when we arrive in Seward and then starting our cruise. I will attempt to post photos on my phone. May need to wait till laptop access
  46. 11 points
    BREAKING NEWS! We interrupt your obsessive reading about cruises to bring you this important report. We are no longer in “Guarantee” limbo. We have been assigned a spacious ocean view balcony on desk 8 starboard rear. More news as it becomes available. We now take you back to your regular cruise programming.
  47. 11 points
    Day 6 - Hubbard Glacier Our progress at 4:22am: I was hoping for a sunrise and managed to get a glimpse of a sunrise through the breaking cloud cover. Our destination began to appear in the distance. It was pretty windy at this point but seas were pretty calm. Here at 7:30am the Solarium was still pretty empty. Some guests secured a front row seat. You can't see it here but it was pretty windy. The glass panels did a great job deflecting the wind but allowed me to stick my camera through the space between. Weather like this isn't unusual here. I've seen it be like this and clear up later so I wasn't too concerned about the high winds and drizzle. The shops had set up on the pool deck selling hats, gloves, jackets and stuffed animals. As we got closer the winds died down so they were able to run the North Star through a test cycle. This allows them to validate winds at elevation and ensure the ride is ready for guests. Something you don't see very often is the North Star going over the sides of the ship, at least not here in North America. This is part of the new North Star Alaska Experience that is a paid option. At this point it's 8:50am and we've entered Disenchantment Bay. Click here for more details on the North Star Alaskan Experience.
  48. 11 points

    Favorite Cruise Hack/ Tip

    Sorry, but the reason I never talk about it is because I feel, in my not-so-humble opinion, to be at best an unsolicited sales offer and at worst a border-line racket. The shopping seminar is more about which stores have paid RC to advertise as stores to go to, rather than an educational overview of which areas of the city/island truly represent a good place for value or deals. Any store that is mentioned in these seminars have paid to be mentioned. Moreover, there is often a kick back for sales referred. Not to mention that "little hook up" is a ploy to get you into the store. If you want to learn about the port you are visiting and/or the best areas to shop, I recommend utilizing the internet and getting recommendations from other cruisers who have gone to these places.
  49. 11 points
    It is finally embarkation day. We started off at Biscuit Bitch a block over from the Moore Inn. I'm a simple gal so I got a Buttered Up Biscuit with maple peanut butter. It was pretty filling. We took an Uber to the cruise port. I had a code for a free first ride but didn't see anywhere to add the code. The ride was $10 plus tip. We chose to walk from the drop off point to the ship. It wasn't far. We checked out the Windjammer for lunch. We then went to the lava flow meet up where the bartender clearly did not anticipate making so many of the frozen Kraken drinks. He suspected correctly that a Caribbean cruiser was to blame. After muster we went to the spa raffle. Unfortunately a lot of people showed up and we did not win any prizes. The sail away party was a good time where we got to meet more group cruisers. It was fun today to see all the familiar shirts around the ship. It makes it feel like you have many friends. We got a little taste of the entertainment at the comedian's show. On the way out of the theater we stopped to listen to the piano player and stayed to see if our skills at music trivia were up to par. I should have jumped on a team. I knew the "hard one". It has been a other exhausting day. Thank goodness for a sea day tomorrow.
  50. 11 points
    Day4 Today port was La Spezia. We slept late today until 8:30 am as we have not booked any tour.From all our stops in Italy La Spezia is my favorite one as it’s a nice small city which you can tour around without any issues. To go to the port gate, you must take a shuttle bus as ship passengers are not allowed to walk inside the port. Las Spezia is also the gate to Pisa (45 minutes ride) and Florence (90 minutes ride) .If you never been to Florence I would highly recommend to take a tour to this renascence city with many amazing sites to visit.Pisa on the other hand have only one attraction, and yes it is the leaning tower of Pisa , you come , you take the photo (with thousands of other people) you pose as if you support the tower and create a face book picture exactly like million people before you 😊 So I would go to Pisa only on the way to Florence. Another excellent option would be visiting Cinque Terre , its actually villages that are built on the cliff , they are very colorful and best view from the sea side although visiting one of them over the land is very nice.You can always take the tour from the ship but if you want to save some money you can find some tours operator in the port (There are many vendors inside the port building).The train station is 15-20 minutes from the port. The best way to save money (for sure if you have 4 people in your group) will be to rent a car and drive were ever you want, for example you can drive to one of the small towns near by, park outside (parking available on the road side using parking tickets machines, make sure you bring enough euro coins) , please note some of the villages/towns are not allow cars inside. or even travel to Pisa (many parking near by). If you choose to rent a car please note , most of the cars that are offered in Italy (and in many other Europe countries) has manual transmission , the automatic one are the more luxurious cars. Car rental with insurance (automatic transmission) will cost around 100$ per day. There are several rental cars in the city , I think the nearest one is the Avis which is 15 minute walk from the shuttle dropped. I used this option last time I visit this port (We were group of four), I rented the car few month ahead, took the shuttle , walked to the renting facilities and picked the car (do not expect to see US car renting like facilities , its actually travel agency with cars parked on the street). Once I picked the car I returned to the port to pick the rest of the group, It was quite easy. For sure it will be helpful if you will have access to Waze or other navigating application. If you just want to stay around the town you can walk and enjoy the seaside some parks and local restaurants There are many shopping option around (usually small shops) , remember shops can be closed between 1:30 PM To 3 or 4 PM for siesta time. . There is also a mall in walking distance (1 mile from the shuttle drop). We walked in the city for a while and at the end we went to the mall to complete some of the must things in Italy : Eat a pizza, drink espresso, eat a pasta and eat authentic Italian ice cream. There were many shops which offered mid session discounts ,My spouse bought some shoes and some T-shirts while I went to the supermarket (the local Walmart) and bought some aged balsamic vinegar and wine. We eat a wired combo of pizza which come with soft drink and espresso then went back to the ship (walking). I love to be on the ship during port day , excellent time to relax and use the different facilities, its also a good option to take some pictures. For dinner, we choose this time the WJ. They had a lovely chocolate fountain, but I should have complained to someone that they located it in front of the window which facing the sun, it is bad for taking pictures, how inconsiderateness of them. Later we went to sea the new ice show 1877, we came 10 minutes before and found some front seat , I must say they excel themselves , it was amazing , the effects is something out of the world although the level of skating was less than other shows over the different ships , maybe they need to run it for a while. Here some pictures from the show , for better quality you will need to wait for @twangster Trans Atlantic cruise in October \ \ Some observations: Internet is fast all around the ship, We have only 5100 people on board which can explain how there are always tables available in the WJ (tip , try to go to the middle of the WJ) The break room is not available yet. The CD is Michelle , BB is on the ship but he is not doing the morning show or most of the activities . The ship looks really well maintained and not showing her age at all
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