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Everything posted by twangster

  1. I woke up early like a kid on Christmas morning... IT'S CRUISE DAY! This will be a special cruise for me in more ways than one. First it is a back-to-back, 7 nights followed by 12 nights. This will be the longest I've stayed on one ship. Second it will mark my transition from Emerald to Diamond. Third I finally return to San Juan and St. Thomas on the 2nd leg of this cruise. This is my first return since the hurricanes earlier this year closed many ports in the Eastern Caribbean. Fourth it is my first time on a Quantum class ship and my first time departing from the general NYC area. Cruise 1, seven nights - Depart Cape Liberty then a sea day, Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau and two sea days back to Bayonne. My ocean view guarantee has netted me a cabin with a small balcony on deck 11 aft. Cruise 2, twelve nights - Depart Cape Liberty followed by two sea days, San Juan, St. Thomas, Martinique, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts and three sea days back to Bayonne. My inside guarantee has netted me a virtual balcony on deck 9 aft. I booked these cruises solo less than 45 days out and don't mind switching cabins as it was expected booking on short notice. This will be my first virtual balcony experience and being the geek that I am, I'm eager to try it! I've booked a virtual balcony for the Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska group cruise in June. This will be a good test run to see if that is going to work for me. I flew into Newark yesterday. Spending a night in an airport hotel reminds me what great value cruising is. A simple dinner with a few drinks plus gratuity was $53 and I've still got to find breakfast in the morning. That's on top of the cost for the hotel room. Having said that I always fly in the day before. The cost of the hotel and meals are a form of insurance to ensure one way or another I'm going to be on that ship! I'm tracking Anthem of the Seas using marinetraffic.com. She is in New York's lower bay and just sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as she makes her way towards Bayonne. Time to re-pack my bags and get ready.
  2. Hardly... If I have to get on a plane, I might as well do more than 7 days. Plus 7 days is just too short.
  3. Thanks all. Looks like I've puzzled together a 3 ship itinerary all out of Miami. Hop off, hop on. Maybe book it on board next week.
  4. Thanks @Boston Babe ! I'm sure it was isolated. Just spot the suite line and a make a bee line for it like you know what you're doing :)
  5. Agreed. When I needed to reach out to Captain Club they were very responsive, thorough and knowledgable. The only negative thing I have to say resulted from a terminal experience checking in for my Sky Suite. The 'guardian of the lines' wouldn't let me use the suite/elite+ line because my sail pass said 'Preview' Captains Club. I wasn't Platinum back then and my C&A Gold did nothing for me on X. So despite booking a sky suite and there was no one in that queue, she wanted me in the general line. I think this was an isolated incident from a terminal employee who was programmed to look at the Captains Club status only because priority boarding is supposed to be a sky suite benefit.
  6. Personally It's another thing I really like about RCCL. Recognition across brands. On Carnival Corporation brands (Carnival, Princess, Holland, etc) they do not recognize or acknowledge loyalty at all. You could be super special total top elite on Carnival but if you sail Princess you are treated like a newbie who has never sailed before.
  7. Side note - when I first sailed X I didn't have a Captains Club # so one was created for me. After sailing and waiting two weeks my account never accumulated points. Apparently the system had generated a Captains Club # for me based on me being a C&A member and that is where my X points went. They merged the two X accounts for me, the one I knew and the phantom one I never knew. All is well now.
  8. It's more "recognition" of your status on the other line than a "transfer". As @Orange Crush states, each account is unique and you don't accumulate nights in one when cruising on the other. To gain points in C&A you must sail RCI. To gain points in Captains Club, you must sail X. Having achieved 'Emerald' on RCI if I sail X they treat me as if I have achieved their 'Select' level despite the fact that I am only 'Classic' based on 112 points I've earned by sailing X. . Once I achieve 'Diamond' (next week woohoo!) I'll be recognized and treated as if I had achieved 'Elite' but until I sail X again, my Captains Club point total remains at 112.
  9. Thanks for your detailed comparison. Royal has really hit a home run with the Oasis class ships. I recently sailed Freedom (my 1st Freedom class experience) and completely understand what you mean by the promenade seeming like the hub of the ship. I think Royal puts a lot of thought into the design (and decor) of their ships creating not just a single atrium but many areas each of which is unique and special. I believe the concept of neighborhoods on Oasis class grew from this foundation that started on the many ships before them. The shear size of Oasis class has let them realize it to its full potential and create the distinct neighborhoods. Each ship has been innovative when released but an evolution of what has worked well in the past. I feel like NCL ships vary wildly like they are trying to get it right with each new ship but never quite nail it like RCI has. If you liked the check in process and ability to upload your photo ahead of time on Harmony just wait until Royal moves forward with their new mobile check in process they just announced. It looks even better and promises to be faster.
  10. I'm seeing dates for Majesty in Oct' 18 and beyond. Seems like a gap Feb-Oct 2018. Oddly, an agency website shows it is bookable in March -June 2018 still but only one 3 and one 4 day each month. Maybe they didn't get the memo. It's letting me book May '18 cruises on her. FEMA contract? I know the Carnival contract for a ship at St. Croix to house relief workers ends towards the end of January. Majesty replacing here? Total WAG. Strange that the agency API is still allowing bookings. The plot thickens...
  11. Considering some near B2B type bookings combining various FL based ports of embarkation. For example, sailing from Port Everglades then sailing from Port Canaveral then Tampa, etc. Miami to Ft Lauderdale is easy. Are there shuttle services between Canaveral or Tampa from South Florida? When I lived in the Carolinas we would often drive to FL so I'm familiar with state and still have my SunPass transponder but am looking for other modes of transportation around Florida I may not be thinking of. I'll be flying in this time. i would love to avoid a hotel stay, hop off one ship then board the next ship later the same day. Thanks!
  12. I think the reserved times are outside of normal open to the public times. Here are (were) the open times from Allure in May at Falmouth just as an example: By 3:30pm most folks are back on but 5-6:30pm folks maybe be getting into dinner mode and traffic may be lighter. Boogie boarding 9-11am would most likely be the best times on this port day. Boogie boarding has a 52" height requirement and waivers must be signed. Suggest doing so before cruise or early in cruise as they close the waiver desk ~1hr before the flow rider times end above.
  13. YW! Just tell your husband ... twangster made me do it, it's his fault
  14. It is, but on Oasis Class ships, Star Class Suite guests have a priority line. They can ride it over and over again preventing anyone else from riding it. They paid for Star Class which comes with this privilege.
  15. On the Millennium class there are two sky suites that are unique. They are next to the Penthouse Suites and are decorated the same since they have an adjoining door and make the Penthouse suite function like a two bedroom suite when extra "penthouse" capacity is needed. I scored one of these on the Millennium. Very nice Sky Suite that is penthouse-like. Wonder if Solstice class have the same concept. I'm sure you know that your Emerald status will be recognized by Celebrity. You'll receive "Select" benefits while on Celebrity but your nights won't contribute to C&A points.
  16. Like a grand suite versus a loft suite on Oasis/Quantum class. Celebrity suite isn't two levels so its not a perfect comparison, but the perks are the same, just a bigger room and a bigger price tag.
  17. Pull down a cruise compass from a past cruiser and verify open times. They are not open all day typically. It's a good strategy though, using a port day will tend to see less flow riders. Star class suites have priority access and I've seen a suite full of kids hog a flow rider on one occasion. There were some grumpy cruisers over it but they paid for it (or their parents did).
  18. The good news is that even without priority boarding, the RCI boarding process doesn't seem to be as chaotic as Carnival. I've sailed Carnival more times than I have RCI and before switching to RCI in 2016 I endured some absolute chaos boarding Carnival at times. So much so they created their FTTF program to sell you a way around it. I've never felt the need for that on RCI. It can vary by port as not all terminals are created equally, but RCI built the cruise terminal in Ft Lauderdale with Oasis class ships in mind and they took time to look at how to board 6,000 guests without chaos. They are doing the same in Miami with a new terminal there and they will begin rolling out even more boarding enhancements with the mobile check in functionality of their new app coming in 2018. Cabins are typically ready at 1pm for all guests, suites down to inside cabins. Sometimes though they are able to open cabin access earlier. Star Class suites is the exception.
  19. Welcome to the weirdness of RCI IT and the website mysteries. I often can't use safari to look at cruises while planning them unless I clear the cache on a regular basis. Recently Safari worked except for the last step in making any purchase in the cruise panner, then it didn't allow me to submit payment - the final click did nothing. Chrome worked to submit payment so I used it to make all cruise planner purchases. When I went to check in and print my setsail pass, I couldn't check the box to acknowledge the cruise contract using Chrome, but I could in Safari, but then it wouldn't print from safari so I had to switch back to Chrome to print my setsail pass having now agreed to the contract (using safari) it now worked to print (in chrome). It's become... "What am I doing today? Oh yeah, use this browser". The website is one of my only negative customer experiences I have with RCI.
  20. Welcome to RoyalCaribbeanBlog.com! Are you in a suite? What ship and what port? If you've never sailed with RCI and are not staying in a suite you won't have any priority boarding.
  21. I'll be live blogging from Anthem 11/25. Look for in the Message Boards in the Live Blogs section. I have MTD and I've already made my reservations when I'm not in specialty restaurants. I was just on Freedom and had my own table in the MTD each night (no shared tables).
  22. I did a GS on Harmony on deck 6. It was on starboard so not exactly the same, but I heard nothing from the promenade and at times promenade noise is going to be louder than most Schooner Bar noise. Piano's aren't that loud :) I really like the location, so convenient to everything.
  23. Cruise Summary An important question after any cruise is... "Would you sail this ship again?". YES! I enjoyed my time on the Freedom of the Seas and would not hesitate to sail her again. Wait staff in the restaurants were great. Food in the Windjammer and the My Time Dining room was very good. Cabin service awesome. Everything was clean As for the ship layout and features I can see why so many like this class of ship. I really like having open access to the helipad and the solarium pool being uncovered. I'm glad I had the opportunity to try both the Voom Surf as well as Surf and Stream. I had several hour or two hour wifi phone calls using the basic Surf. During heavy rain it slowed down, a phenomenon called rain-fade that affects all satellite reception even on land so its not perfect or just like at home, but heck I'm in the middle of an ocean. The O3b satellite system makes a big difference and I'm hoping ships like Mariner or Independence entering dry dock next year will receive this upgrade. The comedians were very funny without resorting to excessive profanity that some comedians use in lieu of not being that funny. Some of the entertainers left mid-cruise while others replaced them. It was nice to have new faces and new shows. There is always risk booking a 'guarantee' cabin. When I saw a deck 10 cabin assigned I was curious if pool deck noise would be an issue. I am happy to report it was not. One of the crew is approaching the end of their contract term and had been assigned another ship for his next engagement. He requested staying on Freedom and was approved. He also told me he is trying to get an extension on his current term. Obviously the crew like the Freedom of the Seas as well. I can't think of a single negative crew experience anywhere on the ship. Freedom is not a brand new ship and after sailing on Harmony a few weeks ago you do need to maintain perspective and research the ship. By doing so expectations were met and overall I'm very happy with the experience. Money well spent. The only problem - it was too short. I had almost made it into a B2B but work intervened. Having sailed Freedom I'll keep an eye on her in the spring for short term deals. Liberty is high on my list for her water slides and I've booked Independence so hopefully soon I can complete the Freedom class trilogy.
  24. Disembarkation I had an early flight so I wanted to be off early and did the self-assist disembarkation. The line by the doors on deck 4 near Boleros began queueing at 5am. The ship was already tied up at the pier. You have two options for self-assist, line up near Schooner Bar or line up near Boleros. At the forward Schooner Bar door to the outside deck it's farther from the gangway so they allow you to queue up outside. At the Boleros end they require you to wait inside. You don't have to do self-assist, standard disembarkation for guests who put luggage out the night before works as normal and luggage valet is offered in Port Everglades. I've done luggage valet on Harmony in Port Everglades and it works great. Put your luggage out the night before and you never see or touch it again until baggage claim in your home airport. You have to have a later flight though, after 11am I think. Suite and Pinnacle were escorted past us, including Super Mario who explained customs always wants to see him as they suspect he is laundering money :). There was some sort of delay, supposedly someone's credit card had an issue and immigration wouldn't begin until it was cleared up. So we waited, and waited. It was becoming quite stuffy inside and this morning was cool by Florida standards so all of us longed to be waiting outside. If it was hot and humid we would be glad to inside. Breakfast options start at 6am for a continental breakfast at cafe promenade or 6:30am for WJ, so I planned to grab something at the airport. At 6:50am they allowed us to disembark. I was in a cab heading to the airport by 7:05am, bag checked and through security at my gate by 7:25am. My 8:45am flight will start boarding at 8:15am. Since I have elite status with my airline I can push my luck knowing I can get something later if needed, otherwise I wouldn't book an early flight like this. With that it's time to exit the Delta Skyclub and head to my gate. I'll work on a summary on the plane and post that later.
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