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

  1. 30 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!
  2. 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 !
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.😁😍
  7. 21 points
    Wrong cruise line?
  8. 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?
  9. 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 :)
  10. 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.
  11. 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 .....
  12. 17 points

    Guide to Chair Hogs

    Let’s add against the rules to that list...
  13. 16 points
    Sail away was timed perfectly with the Costa Rica sunset. Lots of small boats out tonight. The flight of the Pelicans.
  14. 16 points
    You're gonna have to bear with me because I am about to go overboard with Queen Mary pictures. I just love this old ship. Arriving later than expected once settled in my cabin I made my way to the Observation Bar for a drink and a bite to eat. Walking around the ship you feel a deep sense of history. Not a bad place to catch the end of game six of the World Series with the city lights of Long Beach across the bay.
  15. 16 points
    Itinerary for this 16 night cruise: Panama Canal, Eastbound. Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale. Day 1 - San Pedro (Los Angeles) Day 2 - At Sea Day 3 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Day 4 - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Day 5 - At Sea Day 6 - At Sea Day 7 - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala Day 8 - At Sea Day 9 - Puntarenas, Costa Rica Day 10 - At Sea Day 11 - Panama Canal Full Transit Day 12 - Colon, Panama Day 13 - Cartagena, Columbia Day 14 - At Sea Day 15 - Georgetown, Grand Cayman Day 16 - At Sea Day 17 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
  16. 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 .
  17. 16 points

    Super Mario is Super!

    Apparently it’s an 8,000 cruise point milestone for Mario onboard the Navigator!
  18. 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.
  19. 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!
  20. 15 points
    Cococay was so much fun. We just got back onboard for the day. We took lexi to the waterpark and got a cabana there, she loved it we stayed a little over 3 hours. The wave pool was her favorite but I really enjoyed the dueling demons slide and the sling shot. Then when we got back Luciano had a surprise waiting on us! He is so great. Now we are going to hang out at the pools and wait for a nice dinner at 150 Central Park.
  21. 15 points
    Royal nailed everything here. The sets and costumes were great. All of the actors and actresses did a good job. Singing and dancing was excellent. It appears to be updated and modern. As for condensing from the original, I know musicals are supposed to be about music and have songs but this entire show was song after song. There really was no in between the songs points which could have helped someone unfamiliar with the musical figure out what is going on. (Spoiler alert: a cat dies.) I had to Google it to make sure I wasn't missing something. I followed The Gift on Anthem better than this. I'd like to think that's on Andrew Lloyd Webber and not Royal though.
  22. 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.
  23. 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!!!
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. 15 points
    This is my crowning achievement!
  27. 14 points
    When the Panama Canal announced the project to expand the Panama Canal for larger ships it created a new trend in shipping. The neo or Post-Panamax standard was developed for super sized ships that couldn't fit through the original Panama Canal. The original Panama Canal can only handle ships built to the Panamax standard. When the new Panama Canal expansion project was announced ports around the Northern hemisphere all realized they needed to expand and grow to accommodate the new super sized cargo, container and tanker ships that would be looking for ports to drop their goods. This spawned a race among larger ports to be ready for the Post-Panamax vessels for if they didn't they would be forgotten and ignored by the shipping industry. This includes the Port of Miami who had to deal with their relatively narrow and shallow channel and harbor that ships use to reach the port docks. https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Navigation/Navigation-Projects/Miami-Harbor-Deepening/ The work to make the Port of Miami ready was completed in 2015 just nine months before the new Panama Canal locks opened for Post-Panamax vessel traffic. Had the Port not deepend the channel and harbor Oasis class ships would not be able to visit or home port in the Port of Miami. And so it is not inaccurate to say that we can all enjoy Oasis class ships home porting in the Port of Miami and the beautiful new Crown of Miami terminal because of the Panama Canal and specifically the neo-Panamax shipping standard that spawned from its recent expansion.
  28. 14 points
    Today I went to collect our passports from the Chines visa agents , finally we found few days were we are both at home and can leave the passport for few days (it takes up to four days to get the visa if you are not paying for expedite process) so I guess it’s a good opportunity to start this “I do not know how live it will be” blog. It’s a different cruise for sure , many first times for us , first time going to China , first time on Quantum class , first time cruise to Japan and firs time on a cruise that English is not the first language. I am sure we will have much more first times , but that’s what make us so excited. Why we choose this cruise ? well , apparently it was a childhood dream of my spouse to visit Japan and it will be her first time there , for me it will be the second time but the other time was quite a long time ago and was a business trip, also it’s a new ship , and a new class , do we really need other reasons ? So what is the plan : Two days in Shanghai – Some tour in the city , still did not choose one although I so a nice bicycle day trip which we might take. I already booked a nice hotel near one of the main square , the location is important as we wanted to be at the center to reduce traveling , as we are landing very early in the morning I guess we will store our suitcase in the hotel and start to tour the area. I thought to book the hotel a day earlier so we will get the room once we will arrive but as I know both of us , we will get to the room and go to sleep and miss important hours in the city 😊. On 1-October we will do our way to the port . Our itinerary : 01 OCT - SHANGHAI (BAOSHAN), CHINA 02 OCT - Cruising 03 OCT – OSAKA, Japan 04 OCT- OSAKA , Japan 04 OCT – Kobe Japan 05 OCT – Tokyo (Yokohama) , Japan 06 OCT – Cruising 07 OCT – Cruising 08 OCT - SHANGHAI (BAOSHAN), CHINA After we booked the tour I found out that 1-October is also what they call in China the Golden week , this is a mandatory vacation week in all China so we expecting to have many local families and not many foreigners on board. We might experience some traffic as many are traveling this week but I do not think its going to be showstopper. We choose this period as we also have some holidays and many bridge days between. Post the cruise we will go to the airport and fly to Singapore , we considered to stay some extra days in Chania but was not sure if we will have multi entrance visa or a single entry which mean that we will have to use transfer visa on the way back, at the end we got the multi until as long as the passport is not expired. We will be in Singapore for three nights at our favorite hotel in the world (or should I say our favorite swimming pool in the world), it will be good for some rest time although I might need to have a face to face meeting with one of our customers for few hours. From Singapore we will fly to Thailand to chill out , currently only Bangkok but we might fly to one of the islands , depends what the weather will be. So almost three week vacation before going back home. There are many difference is cruise out of China : 1. Activities cost money (north star ,Ifly , skypad, laser tag) I will give the prices later. 2. Food in the MDR is different – the menu is a picture menu with many Chinese flavor. 3. Instead of sea class , sky class and start class there is golden class and silver class. 4. In the golden glass there are not just suites but also balconies cabins with suite services. 5. No coastal kitchen but golden dinning room and maybe silver dining room (not sure yet). 6. The solarium is only for Golden and Silver class. 7. Golden class have access to some other dedicated places (again not sure about silver) , there are also elevators just for suites class. 8. Wonderland with Chinese menu. 9. Dining package is not offer before the cruise. 10. No Diamond lounge – only the 3 free drinks during happy hour. 11. Many first timer. 12. MDR late seating is 7 PM. I am sure I will find more differences , but difference are many time a good thing , it will push us from the comfort zone to experience new things. More to come.
  29. 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?
  30. 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.
  31. 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
  32. 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...
  33. 13 points

    Thank you all!

    I sail in 2 days!!! I'm flying tomorrow the day before sail date just in case anything happens I would have some buffer. (A tip given to me by this community) Just wanted to thank this entire community for answering all of my questions and concerns, providing tips/advice/suggestions which were all amazing I'm going to experience my very first flight and cruise ever in my life! Thanks to everyone here i'm going in well prepared from airport to ship dock! Grateful that this platform was created and the wonderful people who were able to gather and genuinely help each other out! See everyone next week and a happy new year!
  34. 13 points
    Courtesy of the Johnson and Johnson company.
  35. 13 points
    So I debated starting this, but I'm sitting in my hotel room in Miami, it's 10:45pm and I can't sleep. Why?? BECAUSE TOMORROW IS CRUISE DAY!!!! And here we go...I will try to keep this going as I'm spending the next 7 nights on Oasis of the Seas for my 2nd Thanksgiving in a row at sea. I managed to snag surf & stream VOOM for $11.99/day which I thought was reasonable enough, so I will be connected on the ship. Sprint also has cell service at the ports (Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas) which is included in my cell phone plan, so I won't be forced to disconnect at all. That means I can talk about, read about, and write about cruise stuff while I'm doing cruise stuff!!! Last year I spent Thanksgiving on Symphony of the Seas (which also left from Miami) as part of the Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise. It was my first group cruise and I got to meet so many awesome folks from the different social media channels involved with the group. I also spent that cruise in a category A1 room (Spacious 2-BR AquaTheater Suite with Large Balcony) which was absolutely my favorite cabin I've ever been in. Symphony was also my first Oasis class ship. It was Star Class and then combined with it also being the group cruise I felt like every single moment of that cruise was scheduled for me. This time around I feel like I'm slumming it in an oceanview balcony room. But I paid a pretty awesome price for it as a solo cruiser as they weren't charging the solo supplement. I originally had a CP double balcony room (cabin numbers ending in 229 and 629) but the price dropped so much after final payment (we're talking as low as $650 all-in solo with Diamond discount and FL resident discount) that the oceanview balconies ended up being cheaper than I had paid. My terrific MEI travel agent said they wouldn't give me any money back but she got me moved into an oceanview balcony at no extra cost, cabin 8594. So that means I'm by myself in the room, I get double points, and I get to make my own schedule, right? WRONG...my mother decided to invite herself along. Of course she's also after the extra points, so she went and booked her own cabin so I will have a little bit of space and solo-ness still.
  36. 13 points
    At least it didn’t come out the other end.........not that I know from personal experience or anything.......cough.........😳
  37. 13 points
    Drat. Now there are at least two that are better than me.
  38. 13 points
    Swung back by the room and noticed I now have a roommate. I better still get double points for this cruise, though. Good thing I have the ability to control the TV with my phone since he's a total remote hog.
  39. 13 points
    At the muster drill. Dan took our cards and had them scanned while I saved us 2 seats looking out over the Centrum.
  40. 13 points
    That's totally a napkin dispenser charging my phone while I BBQ it up.
  41. 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?!?
  42. 13 points
    I think you still have your polite teacher hat on. Let me translate to vacation-speak...
  43. 13 points
  44. 13 points
    Toss in a few night time shots of Adventure.
  45. 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.
  46. 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.
  47. 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.
  48. 12 points
    After dinner I ventured back out to try my hand at some night photography. I also ran to the CVS to pickup up supplies I neglected to pack. Paseo de la Princesa was still lit up in Christmas colors. Oasis started the Aqua show but her aft was out too far to get a good view of it from Anthem. Not long later she started away from the pier. Not long after it was our turn. Once out at sea Oasis was off our port side but too far for a decent picture. We share St. Maarten tomorrow she we'll sail together through the night.
  49. 12 points


    Agree 100%. I love cruising and always want friends or family to cruise with us. On a previous RCCL cruise, when I was the point man, there were only 2 aft balconies left and we needed 3. All 3 paid the same price, but my wife and I gave up the aft balcony and took one on the same floor right beside the 2 aft balconies (without discussing it with the other two couples). Seeing the looks on their faces and enjoying the conversation about their great balconies... especially when both parties realized what we had done for them, made any sense of missing out fade to a feeling of having really done a good thing. That was 2016, and they still talk about it. It was a small gesture that made an impact on the 6 people involved.
  50. 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.
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