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StayFrosty

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  1. It’s getting dark in here. It must be the shade that Twangster is throwing!
  2. They are trying to slow down the complete toristification of Venice. The permanent population is declining as more people put their apartments and homes on AirBnB year round. Add to that more and more tours and cruises and you can see why they want to try the slow the hoards. Other attractions can limit numbers by increasing prices or limiting ticket sales but it is a lot harder to do for a whole city.
  3. The toll is $4. I think the savings in time and headache is worth it.
  4. I packed perfectly for my last cruise. Only one shirt wasn’t worn. Just a carry-on sized roller (or at least it used to be carry-on sizes, did the airlines shrink that) and a backpack. Now this was only for 5 days but I could do 7 easy. I used the same setup for 18 day in Europe though we did do laundry once.
  5. Day 4 - Sea Day Two words: sleeping in. Coco Cay and the sun had drained us, so some rest was in order. Sleeping in means breakfast at the Windjammer. It was like all Windjammer breakfasts, fine. Matt always says that sea days lead to boring blog posts but that was not the case for us. First up was the FlowRider! Now I have never done this so I was curious if my middle-aged body could do it. Don’t be like me, however, and sign your waiver before getting in line. Oops. They start you of laying down and that was fine because I did a lot of boogie boarding in my youth. Then they have you kneel then one knee one foot. Getting that foot in their was a challenge. It was a ton of fun. Or least it was until an older woman on the other side slammed into the inflatable divider which pushed it into me (maybe I contributed a little). I didn’t make it. l but wiping out was almost as fun as the “surfing.” They said I could try the standing surfing at the next session but I wasn’t about to push my luck. We tried waiting in line for the mat racer slide again but everything got shut down because of lightning in the distance. Lunch snack at El Loco Fresh it is. After a quick bite, the lightning had moved away and we succeeded in riding the mat racer. This time I even managed to not slam my shoulder into the last turn. Win for me. We spend the next couple of hours chilling in the solarium pool with a series of frozen margaritas. Lightning once again chased us away. I stopped by the dance recital put on by the youth dance group who was on the cruise. They were very entertaining. They were also very well behaved on the trip and, as someone who has led groups like his on a cruise, that is no small feat. Prior to our dinner we played a little trivia where we lost by a few points. Dinner was awesome! I know some people don’t like Jamie’s Italian but we had a wonderful experience. The food was delicious. We had the prawns and bruschetta was appetizers and I would order both again. For our main course I had the chicken with some sort of olive caper stuff on it and the penne pasta dish. Both were perfect. My wife had two small pasta dishes which she also enjoyed. Dessert was great too (with a little limoncello). We caught the end of “Showgirls” the song and dance production. It was fine but I think we would have enjoyed the first half more. My wife decided to turn in around 10 and I hit the casino. Even with the limited odds and other weirdness of Royal’s craps table I doubled my money. So good night. One last shot from the evening. Tomorrow we are off the boat.
  6. Day 3 - Perfect Day at Coco Cay We may be in the minority but we are main dining room breakfast people. Windjammer is okay but we like the more laid back atmosphere of the main dining room. We loved Coco Cay before the renovations. We liked the deserted island feel and we would always go around to the south side of the island to what used to be called Barefoot Beach. Hardly anyone would be out there and we mostly had the beach to ourselves. That being said, we do generally like the changes that they made. What is amazing is how similar it is to the early renderings they were using in the advertising. We were joined by a rerouted Majesty of the Seas. We started out heading to South Beach in an attempt to recreated our favorite part of the old Coco Cay. For the record as of the last week of June, no construction was happing on South Beach. We found a spot and swam in the water. There were a few more people than before but mostly a similar experience as before. We got a few drinks at the floating bar. They were playing lots of loud rap music that was entirely profane language and sexual language. This combined with the bar tenders general unpleasantness, kept us away from there the rest of the day. We had lunch at Chill Grill (with a stop at the snack shack for s crispy chicken sandwich). Royal has really upped their game with food on the island. They still had the regular island barbecue menu but with addition items like sandwiches, tacos, and ice cream. Other than the seagulls it was a very good experience. We then migrated to the Oasis Lagoon. It is a very nice pool and the soft bottom is great. There were a lot of people there and it handled the crowds well. The bar was busy but we had no problems getting a few drinks. Be warned that in the summer the water is rather warm. Around 3pm storms started to approach and they cleared the pools and beaches. We decided to back to the ship and about halfway there the heavens opened up. Rather than wait in large lines to get onto the ship in the pouring rain, we sought shelter at Captain Jacks. It eventually cleared and we swam for about an hour at chill island with only two other couples on the beach. We returned to the ship, cleaned up and headed to the main dining room. I tried escargot for the first time and enjoyed it and the lamb was very good. My wife and I had trouble figuring out the best way to eat the tiger shrimp. After dinner we took a stroll around the pramande deck where we unfortunately discovered that the entire port side is smoking and boy were people using it. We then saw the magician who was pretty good. We tried to go to Karaoke but third song catalog is terrible. So terrible that that they often had other music playing because no one could find a song that they wanted to sing. We ended up at the Schooner Bar for Piano Entertainment with David. Incredibly funny! He is increasingly talented, had everyone involved and got lots of people singing. I got to sing a song which was awesome. Around midnight we made our way to bed. Sea Day tomorrow!
  7. Day 2 - Nassau I did not carry my phone for much of the day so As a result I do not have as many pictures. Sorry. I woke up to a view of Majesty of the Seas outside my balcony window. We sailed on Majesty back in December of 2015. It ended up being a full house house as Carnival Liberty and Ecstasy along with Disney Dream were in port as well. Wow does Ecstasy look old! My wife was up early for a massage. She loved it. Her masseuse is married to the bar manager on board. They had previous been on Majesty. My wife commented that we had not felt any motion on Navigator compared to Enchantment and Majesty and the masseuse said that if you can sail on Majesty, you can sail on anything! A quick breakfast in the Windjammer and I was off to Nassau. I went to the 737 flight sim that Matt and Twangster have recommended. It is a 15 min walk from the terminal. It was a fantastic experience. I young man who is studying to be a airline pilot guided me through the experience. I have played flight simulators on my computer since I was in elementary school but I was not prepared for how involved this was. It really challenges my ability to multitask. I’d go to flip a switch and next thing you know the nose of the plane was 10 degrees higher. Oops. I did a take off, loop around and landing at a few airports: St. Maarten, Harrisburg PA (closest to home), La Guardia, and finally a landing in Toronto. My best landing was Harrisburg. I almost rand out of runway at La Guardia, even the attendant was shocked I didn’t put it in the east river! The landing at Toronto was dicey because of high winds. I can’t believe I didn’t crash. Pretty sure if I had real passengers in the back, the air sickness bags would have gotten a work out. After a quick stop a store for my wife, we spent the rest of the day on the ship. We did the water slides. Both are really fun. The stairs where you wait can get very hot. The mat racer was very fast. I wiped out a little on the last curve. Someone did get stuck on the water coaster and the life guards had to get them. Only took a minute and we were back to the races. We spent the remaining afternoon in one of the daybeds in the Solarium with drinks and a couple of good books. We got some snacks from El Loco Fresh which were pretty good and you can’t beat the convenience. Dinner in the main dining room was a little less hectic. The beef tenderloin was fantastic though the mashed potatoes were a little dry. Next up was the Escape Room. Wow, what a fun experience. We had four people not show up which shocked me as they had paid for it. There were six of us and we had a great time. We worked well together which really helped. I won’t ruin any of the puzzles but the production values were very high compared to some other escape rooms I have done. We made it out with 37 seconds to spare! We round out the night with watching Captain Marvel on the pool deck with some drinks from the Lime and the Coconut and snacks from Cafe Promenade. Found some comfy chairs and relaxed. Finally back to the room around 10 to get a good nights sleep to prepare for Coco Cay! Random thoughts: I wish Cafe Promenade has breakfast sandwiches. I wish there were more late night food options. They need better airflow in the stairs to the water slides.
  8. Day 1 After a quick breakfast at the hotel (perfectly fine for an included breakfast), we grabbed an Uber and jumped on the nearby I-95 towards Miami. Now in theory, I am against tolled express lanes. They take up valuable space essentially for those who can afford it rather than providing capacity for everybody (I also think all highways should be tolled, but that is a whole other issue). However, in this instance they are the best thing ever. We bypassed a great deal of traffic by using the express lanes from Ft Lauderdale to Miami. Wow, Royal Caribbean has really stepped up their check-in game! We made it up the escalator and took the mandatory propeller photo. A rep retook our pictures because apparently I suck at taking pictures, a quick security check with no line and we were in the waiting room. Twenty minutes later they started boarding. Oddly, they are using two gangways but everyone was only heading for the forward gangway. Being that I hate lines, we went right for the rear gangway and were on board before you knew it. Next came the grand tour. We saw everything. I may have got a little sun on the back of my neck in the process. We made a pit stop at the upper level of the Lime and the Coconut, got some drinks, then hung out in the shade near the bar. The band that was playing was killing it. Lunch in the Windjammer was the usual fare. I finally got some Royal Caribbean curry and it was pretty good. Rooms opened at 1pm and let me tell you, the space difference between an interior/ocean view and a spacious ocean view balcony is noticeable. I love the space and the balcony is nice too. Unfortunately there was a note that my flight simulator excursion was canceled due to lack of participation. I was very angry. They closed cruise planner purchases a couple of days ago, they could have emailed me but no, I am only getting word in the 11th hour. I was about to go down to guest services and give them a piece of my mind (a big deal because I only have a few pieces left) but I calmed down and called the sim people directly and booked it myself. Problem solved no thanks to Royal. After settling in we hit up the sun deck to ironically find some shade while read and drank Watermelon-Ritas. Normally I wouldn’t mention muster but there was a guy complaining the whole time about how stupid it was and why should he have to do this after paying all this money and so forth. I was about 3-5 comments away from saying something but I kept it to myself. Sail away on the helipad. We saw some dolphins then went to prepare for dinner. This is where things started to go wrong. I signed up for the early seating of traditional dining. We like traditional because we like to have the same waiter and get to know the other people at our table. The problem was that there was no dining info on our Sea Pass cards. The dining room informed us that the early seating was full and we had MyTime dining. He claimed the early seating was full by the time I booked, however the website let me book it and the app said I had early seating as well. I was very unhappy. You expect one thing and at the last minute are substituted something else for the second time in a day can lead to some negative feelings. Since there seemed to be no way around it, we made reservations for 6:00. I can now say with authority that I do not like MyTime dining. It felt hectic, I barely got to speak with our waiter and we were seated by ourselves. Well, at least I can say that I tried it. The rest of the evening was the ice show, music, and drinks. The ice show was better then I expected, the were very good. They mostly had trouble landing the big jumps and I suspect that the ice conditions may have played a factor. There was a funk band playing in the Royal Promanade. There were fantastic and played one of my favorites by Trombone Shorty. We ended the night with drinks in the Bamboo Room. I tried many of the drink, though I could not tell you which (a sign of a good night). The bar tenders were fun, poured unexpected shots (which of course I drank) and made for a fun evening. We also struck up some good conversation with some of the other passengers at the bar. I set an alarm on my watch to wake me up at 2:30 to see if I could see the Falcon Heavy launch from Cape Canaveral. Well, apparently my watch was on do not disturb and I woke up an hour too late. Not a big deal since at the distance we were at it would have just looked like a star traveling across the sky. Random Thoughts: Here is the plug layout in the room. Here is the most modern houseboat I have ever seen during sail away. Great day and off to Nassau!
  9. Day -1 After being delayed, then less delayed, then not delayed we made our way from BWI to FLL. You are used to seeing pictures form Grandeur blogs going under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Here is one going over. Don’t forget the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel along with the shipyards and naval base. We are staying at the Comfort Suites south of the airport right next to 95. I didn’t include a photo because it looks like any other recently renovated hotel. Lots of space with a big shower and no tub. There is a large pull out couch and a separate sitting area (though that last bit might be because we are on the corner). Breakfast included. We’ll see what that looks like in the morning... We ate dinner across the street at Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine. It appears to be a local chain. Food was good and the portions were big. I don’t remember what our dishes were called by but mine was a breaded flat steak with ham, mozzarella and some kind of sauce. Rice, beans and plantains were also included. My wife had a great chicken dish. The sangria was decent as well. We then waddled ourselves back to the hotel where my wife rolled her ankle a little in a pothole that was filled with water. She is fine but put some ice on it just in case. Navigator in the morning!
  10. Update. I asked Southwest on Twitter and they said it was due to an “upline mechanical issue”. Now I see they switched planes and we are on time again.
  11. It’s vacation day! And you know what that means? It means everything is going off the rails. My daughter, who will be staying with the inlaws, might be coming down with a cold and I wake up to find that my 5pm flight to FLL is delayed by two hours. Not sure why, the incoming flight is still listed as coming in on time. Maybe they are shuffling airplanes. Who knows, but now we are not getting in until 10:30pm. Not thrilled, but that’s why we fly down the day before, right? Question: knowing that my flight is delay by two hours, do you think I am safe delaying my departure to the airport as well?
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