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  1. Just got back today from our first cruise ever on Oasis of the Seas, and it was hands down THE BEST vacation we've taken. Thanks to Matt, all his videos I watched, and all the advice from everyone here, we were fully prepared for everything.
    25 points
  2. He had a high fever and started coughing. I brought tests from home. Tested him and self reported it to the cruise line. Wanted to do the right thing by reporting it and trying to make sure no one else got it from us.
    22 points
  3. Leroyr55

    Symphony of the seas

    Been on board this week. Heard there was around 5400 on board. Absolutely no complaints for this cruise. The crew have been fantastic and all meals in main dining and and one night in Hooked were great. Shows were Hiro,Flight,1977,Randy Cabral and two comedians. With that said this ship is back!
    15 points
  4. You don't have to look very far these days to see staffing shortages in many aspects of life. The hospital where my mother was had nursing shortages. Then when she finally got back to a nursing home they had support worker shortages. There are crew shortages with airlines leading to cancellations and delays. While in Vancouver we heard of crew shortages on the BC Ferry systems. You show up and no ferry today or they have a skeleton crew and the food venues are all closed for lengthy ferry rides. Amtrak has crew shortages. A bar I visit has employee shortages some days. It's everywhere so the only surprise is that people are surprised there are cruise crew shortages, like somehow cruise lines should be exempt from the shortages that are hitting so many businesses.
    14 points
  5. To be fair, these kinds of logistics issues (lack of staffing/supply chain failures) are lagging affectors and add to that, a COVID uptick (whether real or contrived) and you have a mess. It is extremely difficult (impossible ?) for Royal to make a timely adjustment to a ship that has already been pretty much sold out. Their only option would be to cancel existing reservations and NOBODY wants to be caught up in that ! Did Royal ramp up passenger density too quickly ? Probably. But it will take time to "fix" that and by then, who knows what the situation might be. Kind of a catch-22.
    14 points
  6. We are 5000 guests and 1200 staff. That ratio is not normal, right? Today was a great day. Labadee is amazing. Get up early enough to watch the approach and eventual docking. So beautiful. I got up to the top deck about 715 as the sun was finishing rising, and the looming mountains approached. It was so beautiful, laid out like that. I gorged at the Windjammer and had enough food to last for the whole day. I felt so guilty that I waddled around the deck five running track for a while, while I waited for the ship to clear and the gangway to open. I had a lot of company out there, including a lady with a walker who was chugging along with great spirit. I really admired that. Be aware there is a LOT of walking from ship to shore, and then to your chosen beach. There are trams to help out once you actually arrive, but getting from ship to shore is a walk. If you need assistance or a wheelchair or anything like that, make sure to arrange it beforehand. It’s not like Coco Cay, where there are trams to take you from the ship to the island. I’m almost positive I heard the cruise director announce there would be golf carts to help people down the pier, but I didn’t see a single one. There was a crush to get off the ship because we were told unexpectedly early that the gangway was open. I think everyone was anxious to get on the beach and grab a really good chair, but there were plenty of chairs to go around and of course a lot of people rented cabanas or things like that. The minute I got off the ship, I realized I left my phone in the room. So I had no way to take pictures without going all the way back up to the 12th floor and that just wasn’t going to happen. But I sure wish I had made the effort. It was a spectacular opportunity to take pictures of the ship. She looks gorgeous and huge, docked there against those bright blue waters. There are some photo ops at the entrance to Labadee as well. we had perfect weather and the beaches were photogenic and the water is just amazingly turquoise blue. Lots of different nooks and beaches to choose from. Watching people zip-line across the ocean on the dragons fire zip line experience was a lot of fun. I could’ve sat there all day. Every group that went by was just whooping and shouting with delight. Two young men that rode the elevator down with me flew by at one point, in the lying down superman position. They were whooping it up! I definitely recommend spending a little time on adrenaline Beach to watch them go. Keep in mind that it takes them a while to get through their safety training, so they won’t be zip lining the minute you get off the ship. I rode the Alpine coaster and it was a lot of fun. I almost wanted to stop the coaster in the middle of the ride and just look at it the views… Such an excellent view of the ship and the ocean. Here’s something I learned on the beach today. When I arrived at Nellie’s Beach, I was looking around to choose a beach chair. An attendant dressed in uniform with a name tag came over and asked me what kind of chair I wanted, shade or sun? He said, “you’re the boss today!” He led me to the perfect chair, dusted it off, and put the umbrella up. Then he stood there, clearly waiting for a tip. Fortunately I had brought a five dollar bill with me so I gave it to him, but that was a surprise because I’ve never been here before. I just assumed this was like Coco cay, where the staff come off the ship and do things on the island and then get back on the ship with you. The employees on the island seem to be independently employed or something like that and are very hungry for tips— and I got the feeling they were kind of competing with each other. There was a lot of eagerness to help people with simple things. I knew that once I started swimming, I wasn’t going to want to ride the alpine coaster, so I left my towels in the chair and went and did that three times in a row. So much fun and I recommend an all day pass. Sidenote, there was a pretty heavy smell of pot at the very top of the coaster where the employees sit around watching over things. And the attendant standing next to the track looked normal on my first trip, and seriously stoned by my third trip. No judgment here, just commenting. Speaking of that—I went up to the pool around 6 o’clock last night and as I passed by the smoking section, the smell of pot hung heavy in the air. I’m not sure if the employees don’t notice, don’t care, or if they’ve just been instructed to leave everybody alone. But that’s the first time I’ve seen pot smoked that blatantly on a cruise ship. Back to Labadee: I did not go to the market because I was afraid of being harassed. I ran into two ladies who had bought a small piece of art and said that they left because the harassment from the vendors was so aggressive they couldn’t take it. I strolled most of the island but I did not tackle the walking trails like I had planned. I pretty much withered in the heat and after a couple of hours I was ready to go. By the way, Nellie’s Beach is the perfect place if you have small kids, or if you want to just rent a beach mat and float around without being pulled out to sea or bumped into by snorkelers. I was back on the ship by lunchtime and lunch choices were quite limited. The main dining room was closed, Sorrento‘s did not open until one, and the solarium bistro is not open for lunch this whole cruise and the park café was closed for lunch today as well. And yes I did eat that giant breakfast, but I still wanted lunch so I had ice cream at Scoops. The pool was mostly empty until about 2 o’clock and the hot tubs, too! I went up there and swam for a while and hit the hot tub and had a great time. I went back to the room and cleaned up and then I had to work for a few hours. So I took my laptop to the library and all four chairs were filled. Then I took it to the card room and found a nice table and set up there. There were some people playing cards nearby and all of a sudden a woman started shouting at her husband to shut up, shut up, shut up. So I got up and left. Yikes. Tons of live music on the promenade tonight and all of it was so great. Observation: The champagne bar is always packed with silver-haired people. And no one else. There was karaoke tonight with an enthusiastic and supportive crowd, and then another comedian in the Amber theater. Side story about the karaoke: I was sitting next to a 70-ish year old couple who seem to be from New York. I grew up in New York and the husband of the couple looked like every dad of every friend I had growing up. He had the accent, the 70’s clothes, the aggressive edge to his voice, he snapped at his wife, the whole 9 yards. So somebody got up and announced they were going to sing “my way“ by Frank Sinatra. The man said “oh no“ and covered up his face. His wife patted his arm and said, “don’t.“ The man kept his face covered while the singer on stage worked his way through the song. When the singer got to the part “for what is a man, what has he got, without himself, he has not,” the guy choked out a sob. He grabbed a napkin and wiped his eyes and cried while his wife patted his arm. So that was that, and after karaoke, I walked around the promenade listening to all the various live music and there was quite a bit of it this evening. All of it’s so good. I tried a virgin Miami Vice and it was delightful! And I found a cruise duck, which is a thing now. All in all, a really wonderful day. I feel like Labadee is well worth a trip to come see.
    13 points
  7. Here you go:
    12 points
  8. Most likely, but, judging from the prices I've seen in the Cruise Planner the past few months, it's gonna depend on your own personal definition of "SALE".
    11 points
  9. I rarely post but as I am on an upcoming Ovation cruise, I wanted to weigh in. We have only sailed Star since the restart. Our first cruise was lackluster at best. Nothing comparable to a pre-covid Star (which we have also sailed) experience. We are a family of 3, not very needy in the request to Genie experience. What we dealt with was lost bags, poor service and slow wait times. Things everyone deals with. We don’t care about the opinion of folks that sail every week and defend RCL due to Covid. Bottom line up front…we don’t all sail every week. We save thousands, spend thousands to give our families an amazing experience. It is RCLs responsibility to provide customer satisfaction. I do not need to understand I dang thing about their bottom line. They fail…someone will buy their ships and I will still sail. They are a business. I will support the best value for my dollar. Having been disappointed in Star, I can only imagine the disappointment for folks that dont have genies. For all you defenders of this company, You need to look at what keeps the ship afloat. Customer Satisfaction. I am tired of old timers telling me I should lower expectations for the company. They have ended many Covid related programs that protect me. Not to mention, FCC is expiring and Royal spent many months taking those 90 day deposits in the outset. Defend as you will, I am Diamond Plus and ticked. Not about brand loyalty but burned up about old timers telling new folks to expect less. They shouldn’t. Food for thought, my upcoming Ovation cruise will cost 51 per night. Doesnt sound like much until you divide it by 365. That is right. My upcoming cruise, without added excursions, cost 51 per night for an entire year. You are damned right I expect a Royal experience. Us whales keep the fleet afloat.
    11 points
  10. My kids favorite memory of Coco is the first time we were there in a day bed on the old south beach (before the perfect day extravaganza)....it started raining and they were all like "What do we do now" as they watched all the people run out of the water, pack up their crap and leave......it wasn't a thunder storm, so I took them into the water....which was warm, and the chilly rain splashed on their faces while they swam.....20 minutes later it stopped, sun came out...and we were the only people around for the rest of the day.
    11 points
  11. Hi all, I'm going to try my hand at live blogging this trip. Who's going: Tim (Me) and Kelli (my wife of 17 years!) Cabin: 8330 A1: 2 bedbroom ATS We got our Genie questioner almost 60 days out on 4/13. I won't go over it as it has been covered countless times. We got our Genie email yesterday at 28 days out and our Genie will be Stepan! We responded right away and he already emailed us back this morning and seems like he will be a wonderful Genie! (This is our second star class experience with the first one being on Oasis in December of this past year) He did ask that we prebook Hibachi and Chef's table as he can't request until the day before. I know some have been disappoint by this, but we just went with it and did as requested. We are pretty easy going and this was our list of initial requests. Dining: We are travelling with just the two of us, so no worries about vaccination challenges. We are foodies and love everything so there is nothing we want to avoid I will leave it to you to arrange dinners as you think is best (we are morning people so we prefer earlier dining times), also we do want to do Chef’s table one evening if there is an early seating for that. Again, we will defer to you for everything, we are easy, the only thing we would prefer would be coastal Kitchen on night on after sail away. On Boarding day we would like to do Sabor for lunch Snacks: We love Charcuterie type items or just plain cheese/crackers/salami etc Sushi Fresh fruits Late night we’ve been known to eat pizza/ranger cookies etc lol Beverages: We would love to have Truly (Pineapple/wild berry) heavily stocked in the room fridge and cooler if possible We love Wine and Champagne (I know you can’t stock that, but just for reference. Also I know there is a boarding day bottle and for that we prefer thee Moet Champagne) Blue Moon (with oranges) Coke Zero/Diet Coke Club Soda Tons of water Sugar free red bull Coffee: We would like a standing order of 2 Starbucks Venti blonde/light roast with cream and equal Shows: We have no preference, so will leave with you We are traveling from Houston Texas and plan to fly in to Orlando the day before and stay at the courtyard in Coco Beach. This will be my first try at live blogging, so please bear with me. I will try to keep it entertaining as we like to have a lot of fun and enjoy being in the moment! Here's to hoping the next 27 days go quick
    10 points
  12. Today was a good day. It was also an extremely windy day. Last night the sound of the hangers in the closet swinging around and bumping into each other woke me up a few times, but I went right back to sleep and really didn’t care. (I did take the unused hangers out of the closet today though and laid them on the floor.) The ship has been rocking for a day and a half, the wind is fierce, and the ocean has lots of little whitecaps. I have heard that Aruba is windy and it looks like that will be the case. The ship is still rocking and quivering even now while I type this. Somehow the aqua show still went on and the balancing guys still did their balancing routine, although it was somewhat abbreviated from normal. it was a kind of fragmented day but a good one. I slept late and then went down to the promenade for a “fun fitness class.” I did this on Sunday as well and it was definitely fun and surprisingly challenging. Of course you’re doing your fitness class on the promenade which means the 40 or so people packed into the Cafe Promenade chairs sit back and stare and some even take out their phones and videotape while you’re doing grapevines and claps and squats and all that stuff. But at one point an adorable toddler came out of nowhere and joined in, randomly waving her arms around, and then her dad got into it as well and it was just too cute. I had a very late breakfast at Park Café just as they were closing. I had the Egg McMuffin Panini which we are not supposed to identify as an Egg McMuffin. I got a giant croissant and took it back to my room and stuck it in the refrigerator. I went up to the pool deck and the wind was blowing like crazy. Towels were clipped to chairs but still billowing and flapping in the wind. It was also overcast and I was not interested in swimming at that point. I went back to the room and was able to FaceTime my husband for about an hour and catch up with each other and that was terrific. I rested for a while, sat on the balcony and watched the Aqua theater people have a practice session, walked around the promenade some more, sat out on the boardwalk when the sun came out, and watched people ride the carousel. A bunch of families came racing through the boardwalk and they all had a piece of paper in their hands. There was some kind of organized scavenger hunt going on and part of the quest was to take a picture next to the carousel and a picture next to the hotdog place. I tried to join in a couple of trivia rounds, but apparently you need to get to the Schooner bar a good 30 minutes before trivia starts if you would like to have a chair or even if you would like to stand in the standing room only section and still be able to see and hear the game leader. I got there 15 minutes before it started and it was so packed that I was looking at standing pretty much out on the promenade by myself and straining to hear the questions being called out. I didn’t want to play trivia that bad so I gave up on it. I had dessert for lunch and then got to feeling a little bit lonely and disconnected. This seems to hit me on day three or four of my solo cruises, I am learning. A fleeting loneliness, I guess. I went up deck to the Flowrider to the boogie board section, and sat in the stands and watched everybody learning to use it. It was the perfect pick-me-up. That place was hopping with so much enthusiasm and excited faces and huge smiles and lots of laughter. I mean everyone there was in such high spirits and in a great mood. People would be so incredibly thrilled with themselves when they learned how to stand up on the boogie board on their knees. Every time someone wiped out and went flying they would laugh and laugh. There was lots of fist bumping and high-fiving each other among the riders as well. The families in the stands were taping on their phones and clapping and cheering. It was a really festive atmosphere, the most excited bunch I’ve ever seen around the Flowrider. I stayed an hour and a half soaking up the sun and watching all the good times and I felt much better after that. I went over to have a round of mini golf, but there was a backlog of people on the course and several groups of people sitting around waiting for their turn on the first hole, so I skipped it. At that point it was almost 4 and it’s become a tradition to head over to the Rising Tide bar around then. I get a club soda and ride the bar up and down while I catch up on emails and texts. The Internet signal is a lot better on the promenade than it is in my room. Just the same, I can’t upload pictures here on this page and I can’t send any video clips to my family, it just seems to be too much for the Internet to handle. Later I went back and the mini golf was mostly empty so I tried to play. But every time I set my ball on the ground, the wind would snatch it away and roll it all over the place before I could hit it. There was a lot of people playing ping-pong today, and some kind of really lively basketball competition among a bunch of different three-man teams on the sports deck. There was also a beanbag toss competition, the scavenger hunt, and most of the shops were open all day and evening. Side note: on the pool deck this afternoon, I saw a man with no shirt, tropical print swim shorts, heavy duty wool socks that came up to his knees, and super thick heavy military grade army boots on. There’s a story there somewhere. Did he forget to pack his flip-flops? Is it comfortable in this heat, walking around in those boots? We will never know. A quick nap and it was dinner time. I decided to get to the Windjammer right when it opened so I went up to get in line at 5:50. There was about 150 people in line in front of me with the same idea. But I got in and got a plate of healthy food and took it back to my room and ate on the balcony. I just wasn’t up to fighting the mob in the Windjammer for a table and it was hot and stuffy in there. A tip for new solo cruisers: if you’re going to eat at the buffet, bring a few objects with you to help secure your table. Here’s the thing when you’re by yourself—if you get up to go get seconds or get dessert, you will come back to your table to find it has been cleared and there are new people sitting there. Likewise if you get your drinks first, set those drinks on the table and then go to get your food, same thing. You’ll come back and the table will have been cleared and someone else will have claimed it. So bring a beach bag or a baseball cap or a few things like that, set them across the table, and if possible grab a minute with one of the nearby employees and let them know you’ll be right back, and you should be in good shape. Having those objects on the table indicates you haven’t left yet. The sun came out but the wind picked up even more to the point where the pools were just rippling like crazy and the lifeguard couldn’t keep his hat on. Whenever I was walking through a silent hallway I would hear the walls creaking. After dinner I went to karaoke. Great singing but the crowd was subdued compared to last night. There was a huge crowd of people that had to stand in the doorway to listen because all the chairs were filled up. One of the people performing was a lady I also saw do karaoke on my last solo cruise on the odyssey in March. Small world. After karaoke it was time for Jeff Tracta in the Amber theater. He was SUPER. Absolutely make reservations to go see him and make sure you stick to those reservations because he will sell out and you won’t be able to get in. I think he’s only doing two performances this whole cruise. Every seat in the Amber theater was taken. He’s a singer and actor but he does impressions so all of his act was impersonating different singers and actors and he was just so good. It sounds like nothing special the way I’m describing it, but it really was amazing. I didn’t really know what to expect and didn’t have high hopes but he was just terrific. Then it was time to scurry up to my balcony and eat the croissant I had saved, and watch the aqua show for I think the fourth time? If you’re a fan of the aqua show, a boardwalk balcony near the very end is a great idea. If you’re hoping to be sound asleep before 11 o’clock at night, then a boardwalk balcony is a terrible idea. When I came back to my room this evening, I had a note in my door. It says that they will be doing cleaning and maintenance on balconies starting at 9 AM in the morning so to make sure and keep our curtains closed for privacy. Tomorrow we are in Aruba from 8 AM to 10:30 PM so it will be a good long day and I’m sure people will maximize the opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting off the ship and seeing what I see. I made a request on day one with my room steward to have a printed copy of the daily compass brought to my room each day and that’s been happening, so that’s been great. There just seems to be better information on the printed copy, a more complete picture I guess, then scrolling to selections on your app. But they definitely want you to use that app. The mood on the ship today was high energy and good spirits. Fatigue has not set in yet for us 5000 folks. The high spirits may have had something to do with the fact that today, it seemed like everybody was drinking like there’s no tomorrow. I have a weird observation… And it’s probably just a misconception on my part, but it seems to me that they’re treating ice like it’s a rare commodity on this cruise. It’s hard to find plain old ice to put in your drinks. At the Windjammer, you do not have access to an ice machine like you do on other ships. You simply have access to the grab and go drinks which either don’t have ice in them or have only a few mostly melted shards of ice bobbing on the surface. so I miss not being able to have a glass full of ice and have a really *cold* drink. At the Rising Tide bar each day, I get a very small glass that’s only half full of ice and then a room temperature can of club soda to go with it. Naturally the ice melts almost instantly. One day I went up to the bartender and said could you put more ice in my glass, please? He tipped exactly 3 cubes into my glass with a big flourish, like he was doing something grand. Same experience at Starbucks. It’s a small thing, but I guess going eight days without access to an ice machine might be an issue for some people. I had my club soda at the poolside bar my first day and they were also very sparing with the ice cubes. Weird. on the Odyssey, there was an ice machine next to the water dispenser and you could fill up your cup or portable thermos whenever you want it. Not the case here. I realize these are incredibly trivial things to comment on, but I’m just sharing what’s happening here. anyway, looking forward to tomorrow and I plan on bringing my phone and taking pictures! Like I said, it was a little bit of an up-and-down all over the place kind of day, but it was still a really great day and the evening was just crammed with wonderful entertainment. That has absolutely been the highlight of the cruise so far, the great entertainment.
    10 points
  13. HeWhoWaits

    Staffing Issues Query

    We're all still dealing with changes to cruising that may not match our expectations, which are based on previous experiences without the restrictions required by our current world situation. I'm just happy to be getting onboard Ovation on Friday. If it's "not quite as good as my previous cruises" it will still be a cruise. If the experience is at the same percentage level vs. "normal" expectations as everything else in our lives, we will still have a great trip. It takes ten minutes to get a drink instead of seven? Okay. Fifteen minutes to get that late-night slice at Sorrento's rather than ten? So what? The drive-thru at Taco Bell last night took twenty minutes whereas it usually takes less than ten. That's the current reality we live with.
    10 points
  14. Matt

    Staffing Issues Query

    You wont find it here. Internal staffing strategies and management is not something you're going to find on a third party fan website. Referring to any of Royal Caribbean's job sites, you can see they are actively recruiting. Beyond that, we simply don't know and all we have is conjecture.
    10 points
  15. Arrived at the port at 11:15 and went straight to the 1230 line. Didn’t matter. They were shoveling people through as fast as they could in all lines. No one checked my time and I was on the ship by 1140 wandering around and checking everything out. Did muster drill right away, made show reservations as fast as I could… And they were already selling out… Then a quick lunch. As Matt has said many times in his videos, don’t go to the Windjammer on that first day, like I did! Unbelievably packed. Vitality spa Café was empty, solarium bistro was nearly empty, there are many other choices. Changed into my swimsuit and swam in all three pools. Two people in the first pool, four people in the second pool, absolutely no one else in the third pool. Swam for an hour, soaked in the hot tub alone, found a Casita on the sundeck, which was deserted, and looked out the ocean for a while, watching all the sailboats and windsurfers play. Rooms were ready at one but I didn’t come down till about 230. I have unpacked and organized the room, had a shower, and I’m headed back out for the Sail away party and more exploration . I have reservations for the aqua theater tonight. Found several documents in my room. Sharing these . I love my port-side boardwalk balcony cabin! Great views of people zip lining overhead, the aqua theater, the boardwalk area, the ocean and sky, and of course, people on their balconies across the way. Somebody somewhere gave a tip to bring some clothes pins or clips so that when you go to sleep at night you can pinch the curtains shut and they’ll stay shut in the room will stay dark. So glad I listened and brought along clips because they will definitely be needed. Internet on the Allure is pretty slow compared to Odyssey. Uploading photos is a drawn out process.
    10 points
  16. Today was a great day with an unexpected event added in. I booked my cruise a little bit late in the game, so by the time I got to “plan my cruise“, all of the shore excursions for Aruba were mostly sold out. What was left was overpriced trips in a motorcoach bus, which I did not want to do, or variations on touring the island and then spending a couple of hours at the beach. I’m not a beach person and definitely didn’t want to do any of those. So I ended up coming on the cruise with nothing planned for Aruba. We were allowed to get off the ship shortly after 8 o’clock this morning, so I was off by 8:15 and walking into town to just look around. For reference, from my door, out the ship, and to the edge of town at the end of the pier is .70 miles. Keep that in mind when planning your outing! It’s nearly a mile and a half just round-trip from ship to town. I walked around and looked around a little bit but it was all shops and not much else to see. I went into a souvenir shop and spent a while looking at things and buying a few things. Back at the pier, there were some merchants that had set up shop so I looked around their stands for a little bit. When I was done looking around I thought, I guess I’ll go back to the ship now. It was only 10 o’clock. I thought to myself, that’s it? That’s all I’m going do in Aruba? I felt annoyed with myself for not planning ahead and finding something, anything to help me explore the island a little better. I hadn’t felt comfortable approaching independent tour guides online because I’m traveling alone and I just, I don’t know, I just didn’t want to go with an independent guide based on something off TripAdvisor and nothing else. Just then I overheard a guy talking to two ladies standing next to me on the sidewalk. He was showing them a big colorful map and explaining where he would take them on the tour if he they wanted to join in. He pointed to a gigantic authentic military open-air truck nearby that was already half-filled with people, and said “that’s my truck, you hop in and I will take you all over the island and show you all of the main landmarks for $25.” They didn’t want to go but I told him I was interested. Seeing that the truck was already full of people and talking to the guy face-to-face somehow made all of the difference. I would not have booked a tour with anyone online with no knowledge of them for some reason, but logical or not, it felt right to go ahead and join this tour on the spot. The guy showed me the map and there were things on there I had wanted to see, such as the lighthouse and the natural bridge. I had exactly $35 cash left in my purse, (I did not take anything besides cash), so I hopped into the truck and within a few minutes, away we went! There were 12 of us, all of us off of the ship, and we were ready to have some fun. The guy cranked up some tunes and we blew through town and out into the heart of Aruba. The wind was so fierce I thought my face might be peeled off, but I got used to it after a while. The guys name is Edmond, and he didn’t have a name of his company on his truck or anything like that, but if you come to Aruba and look for him, look for the largest open air truck out of all the other open air trucks waiting by the pier (painted camouflage). He’s a former Marine and he is very proud of Aruba and happy to show it off. The tour lasted three hours. It is so great to do a tour like that in a huge vehicle like that with tires that are about 8 feet tall. Everywhere we went was off-road and we bumped and flew through the air and laughed and clung to our belonging so they wouldn’t fly away and yes, we ate dirt from off-road vehicles in front of us and we had our skin scoured by the wind, but we did not care. We laughed and listened to reggae tunes and got to know each other and had a big time. Eventually people asked me if I was traveling alone and they were both horrified and intrigued when I said that yes, I was. We saw the Gold Mill ruins, the lighthouse, the natural bridge, and several other things, but most of all, we saw the heart of Aruba, driving all over the back roads from one place to the other. That was by far the most interesting part of the whole day, was seeing the real true Aruba and how people live on the island. It’s nothing like I pictured. I had this idea Aruba would be one big shiny resort, brand-new and sparkling clean. That is not the case in the least. For one thing, Aruba is one big dust bowl, and most parts of it are either dirt or concrete or sand, rocks and scrubby areas, and lots and lots of big cactus. The majority of the beaches look like Mars. The homes are all one-level concrete rectangles, and you can see that the majority of people in Aruba don’t have a lot of money. Backyards are just dirt or concrete, there’s rubble everywhere, and everywhere we passed homes, there was quite a bit of evidence of cockfighting paraphernalia, such as rows and rows of cages in yards and such. I asked Edmond about it and he confirmed that yes, it’s all cockfighting, and no, it’s not legal here. But it’s so out in the open. I guess the authorities look the other way? Anyway, it was really interesting to see something behind the resorts and to see so many locals. Everywhere we stopped, there were local citizens out selling this or that. Lots of people were selling coconut water. They would take a coconut out of the truck, chop off an end and stick a straw in it. Every single person on the truck including Edmond bought one of those coconuts and sat around drinking the water and exclaming over how great it was. Finally one of the ladies asked me why I wasn’t going to get one. I just kept saying “I’m good, I’m fine “, but she was kind of aggressive about wanting me to get a coconut and join in. I finally said, “I don’t have enough cash. I have just enough cash for the tour and a tip for Edmond and that’s it. “ She immediately said, “I buy you one.“ Next thing I know, she was putting a giant coconut in my hand and had paid for it. How nice is that? It is so great to know that there are still kind hearted people out there who don’t want to see anyone left out. Edmond said that Aruba has an extremely low crime rate… Less than 4%. He said they are a mix of all different cultures and backgrounds and they are proud to say they all get along great and they love tourists. This is part of the reason why the official slogan for Aruba is “one happy island.“ The tour lasted three hours and was SO FUN and then I was dropped back at the ship. By this time I was completely coated in sweat and dirt and dust and my hair was a giant tumbleweed from being blown in the wind for three straight hours. I went back to the ship feeling so, so happy that I had more to remember about Aruba than a gift shop. And I was able to take lots of video from the truck as we drove around, so I can show my husband. He would’ve loved this, and the part he would love the most is seeing the homes and the “real life“ of Aruba. Back onboard, I had a long shower and then went down to the Promenade for a snack. it was 3 PM and I had not eaten anything all day. Sorrento’s was the most logical choice and I got in line behind a handful of people and guess what? There was exactly 2 slices of pepperoni left. There were two employees back there hustling like crazy to get more pies in the oven and it was just so sad. There was a lady standing around waiting for a vegetarian pie to come out of the oven and she told me, “these guys work their butts off every single day. Why is there only two of them? They need about five more people back here. They stay busy constantly.” I couldn’t agree more, and the same goes for café promenade. But I waited around for the pizza to come out of the oven and got a slice, and then I went over to the bar at On Air. I’ve only used three bars this cruise so far, but on air has the friendliest bartenders. I had them make me a virgin piña colada and then I sat on the promenade and had my (delicious) piña colada and pizza and caught up on texts. I stopped at Café Promenade for a cookie, and the person in line in front of me ordered several desserts and asked for two spoons and two forks. She ended up needing a bigger plate and I have to say, the employee behind the counter wasn’t exactly rude, but she was borderline rude. Not nearly the friendly attitude that I see everywhere on Royal under normal circumstances. But it was the kind of rude that seemed born of exhaustion, you know what I mean? And I’m sure there’s a lot of that going on right now. After that I spent some time in my room and talked to my husband on the phone a while, then I went to the wind jammer for dinner and loaded up on some good food. And I do mean “good”, not great. Not even the desserts. I took a little walk around boardwalk and discovered that the aqua theater people were having a rehearsal and lots of people had gathered around to watch. So I grabbed a chair and watched that for a long time and that was so interesting. I planned to go see the Ice Show again tonight (because it’s that good!) and then go to the love and marriage game show, which I was really looking forward to. But I am just too tired. And I have a tour tomorrow that leaves at 8:15! So I have put myself to bed. Right as I was getting into bed, I tried to open my safe to get my things out to prepare for tomorrow. I messed it up somehow and the safe started beeping and beeping and wouldn’t stop and it wouldn’t open. I had to call maintenance. They were here within 20 minutes and had it fixed with a turn of a key. Here’s an interesting thing. In the cruise compass for tomorrow under “today’s top deals,” they have a salon special. It’s a Keratin Express Blowout. The cruise compass says “call the spa to inquire about today’s special. “ I thought that sounded like something I might want to do, so I called the spa and asked about it. The lady said, “oh, we don’t do keratin blowouts. We don’t have the product.” I thought, “really? You might want to talk to the people who print the cruise compass.” But of course I didn’t say anything. But is that not a classic case of miscommunication? I know they have a template for these cruise compasses, but they edit it for each cruise because each daily compass has that day‘s weather and the time of sunrise and sunset and things like that. So they could’ve removed that keratin special if they wanted to. No big deal, but that spa is going to get a whole lot of phone calls tomorrow over nothing! anyway, that was my experience in Aruba. Tomorrow is Curaçao and I’m looking forward to it. I’m doing a guided tour of the Hato caves and a few other places. I’m sunburned and tired, but feel like I really had a great day and got a very good experience in the special port I have never been to! we are here until 1030, which is right now, so we should be leaving it any minute!
    9 points
  17. Only 2 days for me your 108 will pass in no time btw did i say its only 2 days for me
    8 points
  18. I’m on the ship also with my girlfriend here is a nice picture we took at Labadiee
    8 points
  19. @She Sails Away this on site on ship information is priceless, I really do appreciate it! I understand Royal is in business to make money, I totally get it. But I said this back in December while on the Odyssey sailing to no where, 8 nights of sailing as our covid numbers would not allow us off the ship in Port, they ramped capacity too fast, too soon. First sailing I was just thinking can we return early please? Staff would disappear as the week went on, it was tough to watch. I know Mr. Liberty is a numbers guy and I understand they must try to do right for the stock holders but at what cost moving forward? Our FCC sailings in June & July are most likely going to be the last for us in a while. I am almost 99% sure we are canceling our Thanksgiving 2022 as the cost seems it may not be justified. A little break to explore land vacations for us, just until we feel the cost is = to the experience. I'm not booking any new sailings moving forward, to many hoops in addition to inflated costs for a mediocre experience. This venue (unofficial RC blog) is such a great place to exchange real time information, I find it difficult to believe some of the "bloggers" on board videos etc. when due to the nature of what they do they receive "comped" sailings thus leaning positive no matter what. An experience for free is surely different from the experience that is paid for. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your sailing, glass half full is still the best way to move forward while on board , right?? Enjoy & cheers to you when you enjoy your next mock tail.
    8 points
  20. Well, I’m here in Fort Lauderdale at the hotel. From my window I can see a distant Celebrity cruise ship at the terminal but I can’t see much else. It looks like there might be other cruise ships further away. I have a great view of the airport and planes taking off! I got up at six this morning, tended to the cats, (who were very upset about the site of the suitcases), and then drove 100 miles to the ever-chaotic Atlanta airport. We had a mysterious hour long delay in taking off but here we are. Safe and sound. check out time tomorrow is at 11 and my boarding time is 12:30. I’ve had two stern emails from Royal Caribbean, reminding me not to show up before my designated time. But I don’t really see an option. Once I check out, I don’t feel comfortable sitting around the lobby and this is not a hotel where you can get out and walk around, especially with two suitcases. When I did my solo in March on Odyssey, I came to this same cruise terminal in Fort Lauderdale with the same situation. I flew in the same day and landed at 10 o’clock in the morning and my boarding time was not until 230. I planned to sit around the airport for a few hours but eventually I decided that was crazy and I just went ahead and took a cab over to the terminal. I walked up to an 11 AM line that was being filed into the building and showed the staff member there my boarding pass and she ushered me in. I told her twice, “I’m not supposed to board until 230. Is this ok?” She put a finger to her lips and said, “honey, I’m not checking your time so let’s just not say anything, OK?“ I was on board the ship and having lunch by noon! Wouldn’t it be lovely if that was the same case tomorrow? photos from home and the plane.
    8 points
  21. Tested this morning via the proctored iHealth tests. We are all negative. Woohoo!!!
    8 points
  22. JennyB

    😞 positive test

    I mean, I'd rather get it AFTER the cruise and not while ON the cruise. But please know I just prayed for you. That is all.
    7 points
  23. Relax your grip Keep your head down
    7 points
  24. My friends are sailing on the Allure 28 May, this sailing has essentially appeared sold out since we were watching it for a possible last minute trip. A few cabins here and there, they (our friends) are thinking about CWC cancelation due to 2 specific reasons. First, the crew shortage seems would be a negative aspect. Secondly, it appears this Memorial Day southern sailing is packed so the capacity at max while crew is suffering does not sound like an amazing vacation. Will the entertainment be effected? While things are static and we must expect the unexpected and be flexible, what is the minimum RCCL expect the passenger to accept per sailing when shelling out so much $$$ ? My gut check tells me missing this one seems like a probable blessing. Thank you so much @She Sails Away for your real trip report. I look forward to continuing this journey with you!
    7 points
  25. Matt

    Staffing Issues Query

    That's certainly my outlook. I truly believe they understand and see the problem, so at the very least this isn't a concern among guests that management hasn't gotten wind of yet. Piggy backing on what others have said, I hope for the best and will have to bring some extra patience for getting a drink, slice of pizza, or waiting for a show.
    7 points
  26. How is this possible? Icon is being constructed in a dry dock.
    7 points
  27. Well this takes us from 9 tests to 6. It’s an improvement but the US needs to drop it’s ridiculous testing requirement. We literally will walk off a ship that has been in the US ALL WEEK, go straight to Vancouver airport and we need a freakin test. Meanwhile you could drive from Seattle across the border, traisp all over Canada for 2 weeks, drive back across the border and no test required. Proof our government is totally dysfunctional
    7 points
  28. born & raised in Miami I can tell you that the weather forecast mean absolutely nothing down here this time of year. It says 50% chance of rain from May to September & chances are it might rain at some point in the day, almost every day but they don't tend to be complete washouts. As others have mentioned, on sea days the captain does his best to stay clear of storms, but have no control over port days. you're on vacation, don't let a little rain affect your day. The best thing about oasis class ships are all the different kinds of entertainment that they offer that aren't reliant on good weather. Happy Sailing!
    7 points
  29. Hi, everyone! First time blogging here but long time Royal Caribbean traveler. So excited to be back to cruising. My husband and I went on Freedom of the Seas in November after he spent a very long year recovering from Covid. I was on the Odyssey in March and had a wonderful time on my first solo cruise. Headed to the Allure on Saturday for an eight night trip to Aruba, Curaçao, and Labadee. First time visiting all of those ports. Third time on the Allure, although it’s been over 10 years since I was last there. My kids were little back then and we loved every minute of that cruise! They especially loved the rock climbing wall and Flowrider. My husband doesn’t want to take time off from work right now and he’s not an avid cruiser like I am, so I am embarking on some solo cruises this year. Let me just say this solo cruising thing is a weird paradox for me. I’m very introverted and can get a little uncomfortable in certain situations by myself, such as staying in a hotel room by myself or riding in a taxi cab alone. I mean it’s not that big of a deal, I would just rather not do those things by myself. I’m fine with solo cruising though, and I just love everything about being on these beautiful cruise ships and experiencing all they have to offer. Not to mention lying by the pool and looking out at the beautiful water and all of the lovely locations we visit. On my first solo cruise on the Odyssey a few months ago, we went to Cozumel and Costa Maya. I did not get off the ship. There was nothing there I really particularly wanted to see, and I spent both of those days by the pool watching movies and looking out at the people snorkeling on a beach nearby. It was lovely. I spent that cruise disconnecting and relaxing and really just enjoying the moment. Some solo cruisers are interested in meet and greets and making friends and connections. I wouldn’t call myself anti-social, but I’m not looking to find friends on this cruise or advertise that I’m traveling alone. I am just not that outgoing. I intend to go and enjoy the entertainment in the venues and my first time ever boardwalk balcony. I’m looking forward to being able to see the aqua theater from my balcony as well as people zip-lining overhead, and people walking around down below and riding the carousel and things like that. I consider myself an active person and I will be rock climbing, swimming, hitting the gym and the walking/running track, tracking down all of the small wonders, doing the scavenger hunts, things like that. I’m planning to get off the ship in all of the ports and explore. I have a paid excursion in Curacao to go see the caves and the historic district. I also have an all-day pass on the Alpine coaster on Labadee! I debated long and hard about doing the dragons fire zip lining experience, but decided I didn’t want to spend that much time tied up with that one event. But who knows, if there are spots still left at the last minute, I may change my mind! I took my Covid test this morning live on the phone with EMed and passed. Packing my bags now and full of excitement! Looking forward to great food, hopefully beautiful weather, new adventures, lots of photos and video (I’m breaking in a new GoPro!) relaxation, shows, and beautiful Allure of the Seas!
    6 points
  30. Katrina

    Helo pad

    THANK YOU MATT!!! I have heard you say more than once to go to the helo pad for the sail away. We did last weekend on Navigator of the Sea and yes the ship is beautifully redone, but the helo pad was by far one of the coolest sail aways that we have done thus far. So THANK YOU for all of your helpfull information. And we also took your advice on booking your room by the elevator. Yep, the next 3 cruises that we booked, our rooms are by the elevator. So much better. Loyal to Royal!! Thanks Matt...
    6 points
  31. Our pre-cruise day in Rome. Morning. With only one full day in Rome before the cruise I wanted to ensure we made the most of it, while also getting in the visit to the Colosseum. Having visited the Vatican on a previous trip, but never central Rome, and to avoid us simply wandering around aimlessly, I booked us on the "free" walking tour "Marvels of Rome" through Guru Walks: https://www.guruwalk.com/walks/37444-marvels-of-rome-walking-tour This gave us a decent overview of the monuments in the centre of Rome. The guide was not the one originally indicated (Colin) but his replacement (Paulo) was excellent, very knowledgeable and passionate about his subject. The only issue I had with the tour was that the group was far too big, over 50 people, which prevented any meaningful interaction with the guide. However, for the cost of the €20 tip at the end, it was fine. The tour was followed by lunch in a side street off the Piazza Navona that the guide pointed out to us at the end of the tour, after recommending we avoided eating on the square itself.
    6 points
  32. My wife and I have a cruise booked out of Barbados with two other couples. The two other husbands and I lived in the Southern Caribbean for two years on a church mission. We all lived on Barbados as well as the other ports on the itinerary. Yes it will be expensive to fly there, but it is worth it for us to take our wives back to the places that was such an important part of our lives nearly 20 years ago! We can hardly wait!
    6 points
  33. There we go. Royal knew of the staffing issue. So funny reading comments saying that we as the consumer should expect less and that somehow, we are out of touch with reality. Bottom line is that although Royal is a business and they need to be profitable, they went months at lesser capacity cruisers and provided for overall satisfaction. If satisfaction is the key to profit, full capacity is not the way to do it given the realities of covid, shortages of goods and services, etc. Go less capacity and provide strong service. I hope that things turn around soon. This post was never meant to be a downer post. I will, and encourage others to, still try to make this a positive experience and have fun.
    6 points
  34. One reason, the itinerary. You're going to different islands than you can elsewhere. So when you say "You can go to almost all of the same ports", almost is the key word. There's other ports. Variety is the spice of life.
    6 points
  35. TonyYOW

    Oasis Aqua 80

    Today, as I was told, was the first Aqua show with the new cast. They've been practicing all day today and then performed twice. It was amazing.
    6 points
  36. Sailing Star class in A1 two bedroom Aquatheater suite on Wonder of the seas, June 5, 2022. Sailing with my wife and another couple from San Diego. Both couples are celebrating 10 years of marriage. Sometimes it only feels like 10 minutes…..underwater. Additionally departure day is both ladies birthday. The lovely brides are celebrating an undeclared age. We have Israel as our Genie. Have sent him dining requests. Waiting for entertainment schedule for show planning. Booked an excursion through Royal for all ports. Flying nonstop San Francisco to Barcelona two days before sailing. Waiting for June protocols for Booster since over 270 days since second vaccine dose. Will all get booster if necessary to avoid hassle of extra testing. Looking forward to this trip. I made booking on release day in December 2020 when ship was Allure. Kept same room with ship transition in September 2021. I will effort to answer any questions and post photos and updates along the way. Cheers!
    6 points
  37. I received am email this afternoon from Royal with an updated policy on southbound / pre-cruise land tours. We no longer have to test before the land portion of our trip.
    6 points
  38. Onboard offer letters from Quantum May 2022 (Alaska). Gold Platinum Emerald Diamond Diamond Plus Pinnacle Youth
    6 points
  39. :::::::::::::::: erasing and going back underground ::::::::::::::::::
    6 points
  40. The best answer will be achieved by asking yourself the following question: "Which will Dad appreciate more?" Always go with the choice the honored guest would make if they were making the plans.
    6 points
  41. This! I think we all understand the troubles of staffing right now, but RC should match their ships capacity with their staffing. Increasing capacity in this circumstances it's totally unacceptable.
    6 points
  42. RC ramping up capacity beyond staffing is unacceptable. We’ve got four sailings booked and if our Ovation sailing is similar to our Navigator trip, we might have to cancel until the product matches the price.
    6 points
  43. Sharla

    MEI Travel

    Someone already answered but Certified Travel Counselor and Master Cruise Counselor. But thanks for reminding me, I never updated my signature here, I have the Certified Travel Industry Executive (CTIE) accreditation as well.
    6 points
  44. Editing this because i was wrong. 75 people and 50 staterooms.
    6 points
  45. No Solarium Bistro. No Northstar (broke down), Broke down elevators, cabin phone doesn't work, one dining room not open for dinner (I've been told, I don't eat in the MDR), No olives (at least the first night), No draft beer in the Pub, Poutine in the pub was French Fries and cheese sauce and I was told that's the way it is and always has been yet the menu says cheese curds and gravy which is what I actually wanted (yes, I know Poutine is supposed to be French Fries and gravy), no Pina Colada, laundry didn't make it back to the cabin when promised, had to go to Chops Grill in less than semi-formal clothing. Security in the Terminal almost confiscating my Drone saying they aren't allowed on the ship, finally a supervisor reversed the untrained individual and I got my Drone back. I'm sure there is several more things to report if I wasn't under the influence of massive amounts of adult beverage, I'd probably remember them all. None of this on its own is earth shattering. But, you add up all the little things and it really starts to frustrate. Well, no draft beer in the Pub is kinda earth shattering. I really don't like to be like this. I'm very loyal to Royal but this cruise and ship will go down as a big disappointment. This is my old Army buddy's first Royal cruise and I really talked it up to him and his wife, they've been Brand X cruisers. I'm trying to convert them. Not sure it's going to happen, now.
    6 points
  46. I’m so sad it’s my last night! There were two bars that had bartenders who would start making my drink of choice when they saw me coming (the Solarium and the Trellis)—and it only took $1 cash per drink on top of the DBP during the first couple of days. I will be sure to mention them by name in the post-cruise survey if I’m given the option. I feel like I could never parse any announcements over the intercom, which was frustrating—on this cruise in particular the announcements I cared about where Aqua80-related, and even though I was listening for them, tonight I wandered from the Schooner Bar into an unexpected full Aqua80 performance with almost a full house…I was honestly shocked they would even try high dives and the tightrope walker the night before Bayonne. (The tightrope walker was not, in fact, not able to make it across with the effortlessness he achieved on Wednesday; I left to get a Campfire Cookie at Playmakers after his first couple of attempts to stay upright, which made me feel bad.) I’m SO happy I made this trip, and I honestly think I’d rather come back on Oasis before experiencing a new ship: is that weird?
    6 points
  47. As we we’re completing the booking, the kids sail free discount was not taken off of either of two bookings. I called Royal Caribbean (and reached a person within 3 minutes). He didn’t know why the website was not taking off the discount. The agent couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, he gave great customer service. He helped us book each room and we got all our discounts including kids sail free. What I’m trying to say is you might want to check your booking to see if you are getting the kids sail free, seems like a glitch with the website.
    6 points
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