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  1. Love
    CruisinUngs reacted to twangster in Symphony OTS Live! - Transatlantic Oct. 28, 2018 "Coming to America"   
    I haven't really addressed our cruise director on this sailing - Bobby Brown.
    I have to say a CD doesn't make or break a cruise for me.  I like some more than others but it's not a deal breaker for me.  I had Bobby as a CD on Harmony (I think).  To be honest he didn't leave a great impression on that cruise.  
    However in the "always keep your mind open" department he has been better than I anticipated on this cruise.  I've actually watched the Morning Show more than I usually do. 
    One thing he added to this sailing was a unique special - "How Do You Maintain An Ice Skating Rink On A Cruise Ship?".  
    As a cruise geek this was really cool.  Ice cool.  Just kidding, but really informative.  
    We enter Studio B to see someone.. watering the ice.

    Joining Bobby in this presentation is Rubin, the stage manager who looks after Studio B.

    They discuss thing like where the dance floor used during "RED" or Laser tag is stored (hint, it's under the center section and it slides out from under the seats). That's different from other ship in different classes.
    As it turns out sailings like a 12 night transatlantic are an opportunity for some maintenance activities.  The ship has been in service for several months and while things like the ice surface could go on, once the ship enter routine seven night sailings it would be much more disruptive to perform certain essential maintenance including replacing the ice in Studio B later on, so they took advantage of this 12 night sailing to melt Studio B.  To. The. Floor.  They melted it down to the bare floor.  Like defrosting a freezer at home, once in a while it just has to be done.  
    They began melting it down right after (ok, during) the last ice skating show.  That took overnight, then they had to clean it all up and get ready to make new ice.
    They have since been building the ice up, millimeter by millimeter, by hand, watering each layer every 15 minutes or so, around the clock, since.  In fact as we listened to the presentation, the crew came out to repeat the watering process we saw when we first arrived.

    Then again.

    The water is special filtered water.  This will continue for the three days, around the clock, until the ice approximately 3.5 cm thick (1 1/2").  But that's not all.  
    If anyone follows Nick Weir, VP of Entertainment for Royal he has been touting how they have AMPED up the projection technology on Symphony over Harmony.  That in part starts in the ice.
    Within the ice is embedded a membrane that enhances the resolution of the surface as a projection technology.  That membrane was just replaced here on Symphony and you can see it now only because this new ice is crystal clear.
    At a distance you don't even see it.

    Zoom in closer and you do. 

    Symphony is the first to employ this projection surface embedded within the ice, not even Harmony has it.  Not yet.  
    Studio B has it's own mini-Zamboni used to dress the ice surface each day.

    The projection technology consists of six side mounted projectors that project onto this surface.

    Each projector costs around $100k.  Combining the six projectors, three port, three starboard into what appears to be a complete image requires precision.  The manufacturer is based in Japan and when they need to re-align them (it's a moving ship in seas, stuff moves) they need to fly the engineer in from Japan to align them occasionally.  
    Next they talk about drones.  Very interesting.  Forty eight drones with twelve spares on hand.   Very special technology because within Studio B there is no regular GPS signal like a consumer drone might use.  They have to create a reference 'cube' within Studio B for the drones to fly within.  That's where these black boxes hanging from the ceiling come in.

    There are several of them mounted around the perimeter of the ice.  Combined with some floor mounted reference points and two portable white cubes placed on the ice surface they create a 3D GPS-like environment for the drones to operate in.  Now that they told us this, I recall seeing two white cubes sitting in the middle of the ice floor at the start of the show '1977'.
    Before the show starts, while we are all waiting outside in line, the drones have to be checked to ensure they are happy with this reference cube.  If they aren't it has to be recalculated.  This is very new technology in use and with 48 drones operating in synchronicity, it's very precise.
    The drone batteries are very special and they can't be flown due to HazMat laws.  That means when they need new batteries, they'll need to be shipped to America now that Symphony is on her way to Miami.  
    As we listen on, two more crew come out to "grow" the ice.  Another few millimeters accomplished.

    It turns out these are two of the Ice Skating cast.  Even they get into the act.  It's a team effort, four times an hour, around the clock, for three days.
    You know how they don't seem to open the doors soon enough?  I certainly felt this on Adventure of the Seas recently when the Ice Skating show had long lines.  It turns they can't.  The room is temperature controlled and letting all that air conditioning out affects the ice surface.  They have to keep the doors closed as long as they can.  Lesson learned, be patient.  
    It was a very interesting presentation unlike others I've seen on a ship and I thank Bobby for putting it on.  It gives me a greater appreciation for the level of effort that Royal puts into their entertainment.
    One last note.  On the way out I saw these coins embedded in the ice.

    Seems to be a tradition for the current cast who just changed over.  The previous ice skating cast, their first contract complete, has just headed home for a short vacation.
  2. Haha
    CruisinUngs reacted to Sweety in LIVE - October 28 - November 9 - Barcelona to Miami - Bringing Symphony home   
    Between your blog and @twangster, my cruise budget has increased. I am now looking at working Summer school.
  3. Like
    CruisinUngs got a reaction from firebuck in Anthem of the Seas - Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau. 10/27-11/3   
    Great review!! Thanks for doing all of this. It was great to live vicariously through you.
  4. Love
    CruisinUngs reacted to firebuck in Anthem of the Seas - Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau. 10/27-11/3   
    Day 7
    Much of the morning was spent in the high-back chairs of the 270 lounge watching the gray skies and waiting for Cafe 270 to open so I could grab a final kummelweck sandwich.  While I was in getting my sandwich, my wife said that a fighter jet flew low and right across the aft of the ship.  Several other people were also commenting that they saw it fly by - guess I missed the air show!
    I met up with my Brother-in-law on the way to the rooms and we decided to head to the Schooner bar for awhile for some final day Johnnie Walker Double Blacks.  It's been our tradition to enjoy a glass of Blue label on the final night and have a cuban cigar that we find on a port of call, but none of the bars carry Blue Label any longer.  We asked the bartender why that was, and he explained that too many guests thought it was somehow included in the drink package, so they stopped stocking it in the bars.  I think in the past it was about a $20 upcharge per glass which wasn't horrible for Blue label.
    After a bit, I decided to head down to the casinos, and somehow I turned $20 into $45.  (I usually donate $20 to the slots and stop).

    * side note - this gentleman in the casino bar was the absolute fastest bartender I have seen.  He powered through people's orders like a champ.

    Tonight was dinner in Chops again, but we couldn't get reservations until 8:30. I decided to try the NY strip this time rather than the filet - I think I definitely prefer the filet.  The ladies got the filet, and G had the prime rib.  We all enjoyed our last meal onboard at chops. Dinner lasted until around 10:00 that night and we were running out of time.  G and I grabbed a glass of Double Black neat and headed off to the smoking area in deck 5 to continue our tradition.
    Coming back to the room, I found that my wife had most of our stuff packed (she's awesome like that).  We all opted to do the self carry option at 6:30 AM the next day.  And just like that, our 7 night cruise was coming to a close.
    Day 8
    We woke up around 5:45 AM and got ready and put the final items into the bags.  We headed down to deck 5 around 6:10 AM which was very shortly after the ship had docked.  There were already over 100 or so people queued up with lots more on the way.  By the time we cleared customs around 6:50, the line stretched all the way from the midship elevators down into 270 and back up again.  I think most people had the same idea!  There was also another departure line near the Royal Theater, but I'm not sure how long that was.
    Once we started moving, it went super fast.  Clearing customs was nothing but a camera that you stood in front of and if you were good to go, a green light would appear on the top.  We didn't even need to have our passports out, declaration forms... nothing.  I'm sure there were random spot checks, but I didn't see any.  Either way, I'm glad that this process has been even further streamlined.
    We met up with the others outside and headed out to the parking garage where we had no issues whatsoever getting out.  
    Including a stop at Wawa, we went from stepping foot off of the ship at close to 7:00AM to home at 9:30 AM - not bad at all!
    Now we are in dry dock until next year.  Right now we are really thinking about an Alaskan cruise and hoping for a good Black Friday sale.
    Thanks so much for reading my live(ish) blog!
  5. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Sweety in Anthem of the Seas - Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau. 10/27-11/3   
    Thank you for doing this blog. I will be on Anthem for New Years with my parents. Can't wait.
  6. Haha
    CruisinUngs reacted to rjac in Leave Expensive Purse at Home?   
    Well, judging by that ham hock fist you have and what it is probably attached to, WHO in their right ind is going to mess with you...with all due respect.
  7. Thanks
    CruisinUngs got a reaction from Jaymac Radio in Night Time Photos Oasis Of The Seas   
    Agree- like the golf ball one. 👍🏻
  8. Like
    CruisinUngs got a reaction from CHRIS WONG in Come Say Hello! I Work On Independence Of The Seas!   
    Read your online blog and it was great. Have a blast!
  9. Like
    CruisinUngs got a reaction from iluvwineandtravel in Come Say Hello! I Work On Independence Of The Seas!   
    Read your online blog and it was great. Have a blast!
  10. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to CHRIS WONG in Come Say Hello! I Work On Independence Of The Seas!   
    Hi cruisers!
    For those of you who don't know me - I'm Chris from Liverpool, and I work in the duty free shops onboard Independence Of The Seas!
    I'll be joining the ship on December 1st to start my new contract, and I'll be on the ship for at least 6 months! That means 5 months in the Caribbean, and 1 month in Europe!
    Let me know if any of you guys will be cruising on the ship, and do say hello if you see me in the shops. We should get a photo together!
    I plan to post content everyday on my social medias throughout this contract - so make sure to follow my ship life and see everything I get up to, both on and off the ship! I want to give you guys a true insight into what living/working on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship is really like.
    My Instagram is 'ChrisWongVlogs' and my Facebook page is also 'ChrisWongVlogs'
    Also, ask me any cruise related questions, and I will do my best to find the answers for you when I am onboard.
    I can't wait to meet some of you guys!

  11. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Thetechie in Classic soda + Voom   
    In the fine print "Offer is available for a limited time only. Packages cannot be shared and are not transferable. Offer includes Classic Soda Package and VOOM Surf and Stream Internet Package for one device. Terms of Beverage Package and Internet Package apply."
    Seems like that plan would work out great for you!
    I would buy it now, you can always cancel it up to 3 days before your cruise and get a full refund. No reason not to do it now!
  12. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to tiny260 in waiver   
    Double entry

  13. Haha
    CruisinUngs reacted to Salt Water Buckeye in Leave Expensive Purse at Home?   
    There's times when a purse of that nature is appropriate, this just isn't one of them.
    My wife & I went to a pre-season Cleveland Browns game against Philadelphia (we won 5-0!!!).  She brought her purse, but couldn't take it into the stadium.  We had to have it checked at a tent outside.  There was quite a lot of ladies in the same predicament.  The lady right behind us (Eagles fans) got so upset about paying the $10 fee, she told her husband to forget it, she was going to dump her purse in the trash &  get into the game.  My wife asked her if she could have the purse instead, which she was OK with & gave to her.  When Dianne checked out the price on line, the purse cost $144.  Throwing away $144 for $10.  With thinking like that, no wonder the Eagles lost!!!
    Have a great cruise!!!
  14. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to BermudaDice in Allure 16-23 Sept - Eastern Caribbean - Not-at-all-live blog   
    To wrap up, and in true @Matt blog style, I’ve noted some of my random thoughts below:
    Despite our efforts on our last sea day, we did not manage to tick everything off of our lists.  A few things we had already decided that we wouldn’t try.  We didn’t feel the need to spend extra on any specialty dining and we decided prior to the cruise that we would give Mama Mia and the ice shows a miss.  Most of the things I had planned to try but didn’t get round to revolved around food (and coincidentally, the Boardwalk).  Specifically we did not get round to trying the boardwalk donuts, the complimentary hot dogs, Sabor guacamole, or a Kummelweck.
      I’ve read that they make Oasis class ships easy to find your way around and I have to say I agree.  The neighbourhoods mean there are only a few locations to memorise and then everything else falls in to place.  Similarly I’ve read that the ship is designed to not feel crowded.  Again I would say they succeeded.  Admittedly I don’t know how full the ship was but finding a table at the WJ was only ever a minor inconvenience and we never struggled for a lounger even on sea days.  We only ever tended to be in the Solarium however while walking through the rest of the pool deck there were always loungers to be seen, even if they weren’t right by the pool.
      I find it interesting that on one of the largest ships in the world with however many thousand people you still seem to always run in to the same certain people.  Like the pudgy kid who walked around like he owned the place with his vest top and flat bill cap looking like the stereotypical school bully, the girl with long braids dyed bright red, and the loved up couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other and liked to sit in pools with their legs wrapped round each other.  Even though I understand that it’s just a form of confirmation bias – I initially noticed those people and therefore continue to spot them – I still find it interesting. 
      We both did enjoy having the drinks package however if we had to pay for it I doubt it would make sense. R doesn’t drink a whole lot.  For me even on sea days and really packing in the cocktails, I likely barely would have broken even.  I guess we will just always have to keep a look out for the deals where they include the package!
      We were in stateroom number 12680 which was aft.  I did put in a bit of thought when selecting a stateroom but since I had never been on an RCL ship let alone Allure specifically, I mostly just based it on checking what was on the decks above and below to avoid noise.  In hindsight the room choice was perfect.  Being aft it was at the right end of the ship for the WJ, Boardwalk and MDR.  The only place we went to often which was forward was the Solarium.  Also, 680 was only a few rooms along from the stairwell which meant no long walks along the corridor to/from the stairs. Being up on Deck 12 was also particularly good for quick stairs access to the WJ and pool deck.
      Speaking of the stairs, we made sure to almost always take them wherever we were going.  Aside from a very small number of exceptions the only time we took the elevators was after we got back from a day in port and we had to get from the gangway to Deck 12 after a long hot day.  R was good for regularly going to the gym on sea days, but for me the stairs were the key exercise throughout the week.  Unfortunately, despite the regular stair use including up to 10 decks at once, when I returned to work the stairs up to the fourth floor seemed no easier that they were before I left.
  15. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Neaxan in LIVE - October 28 - November 9 - Barcelona to Miami - Bringing Symphony home   
    Chops Grille
    The steak house is a classic on a cruise ship – at least I’ve never been on a cruise ship that didn’t have one. With all your positive reviews about this restaurant in mind, we were quite excited to get to try this one, especially with all the drama around it. Story in short: a lot of people started to see their Chops lunch fees credited back without any notice. Their lunch was cancelled due to a pinnacle take over of Chops for lunch.
    So let’s move on to the food: We started on Tuna Tartare for me and Charred Beef Carpaccio for hubby. Hubby was so gracious to additionally ordert he Jumbo Lump Crab Cake as he knew I was torn between it and the tartare. All three appetizers were exceptionally delicious, our favourite was the crab cake. You might remember that I already had crab cake in Hooked and the MDR – Chops‘ crab cake is by far the best one!

    As a second course, we both chose soup. I went with the Wild Mushroom Soup (very good, just nothing special), hubby went with the Lobster Bisque. Unfortunately this wasn’t his cup of tea at all (tasted too much like fish) – he should have stuck with his first idea, the Crispy Goat Cheese Salad.

    For entrees, hubby chose the Prime NY Strip Steak and I got the Petite Angus Filet Mignon. It’s a compromise for me as I’m not that much of a meat eater but I thought I shouldn’t go with fish in a steak house. Good choice, both meats were absolutely delicious! As sides we share Gruyère Cheese Tater Tots, Sauteée Mushrooms, Truffled French Fries and Salted Baked Potato – all very good and reasonably sized portions at last ☺️

    Highlight of the evening (as always?) was dessert. Hubby chose the New York Cheesecake – verdict: best Cheesecake on board so far. I got the Warm Chocolate Cake, this was again a dessert to die for!

    Overall verdict: our favourite restaurant up to now! On par with TUI’s steak house, maybe even a bit better. On our next cruise we’d likely do Chops twice – it just was that good! We were also very happy with our waiter Shadiek – Juan’s service was more personable, but his service fitted better in the more upscale atmosphere of Chops.
  16. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Neaxan in LIVE - October 28 - November 9 - Barcelona to Miami - Bringing Symphony home   
    Day 4 – Halloween
    Here it is, our first real Halloween – German ones don’t count as it is not really a thing. As we had so much food for dinner yesterday, we only needed a light breakfast at Park Café (is it evident that we like the venue?). We were up quite early (for us), so we made it to morning trivia in Schooner. Questions were all about Halloween, horror movies etc. – good for us. We won our first trivia and as it was only the two of us in the team, we got to win all the prizes. Guess I won’t need any more highlighters in the near or distant future 😂

    The next event on our list was pop choir class. Yeah, who’d have guessed? But I was in a choir at school and enjoyed so I thought why not. Admittingly, my voice was better before I wrecked it with years and years of Death Metal vocals – so no solo for me. To my utter surprise, hubby wanted to join in – learn something new about your spouse any day… We’re practising This is me from the Greatest Showman – no, didn’t know that one before. Session was only listening to the song a few times and getting some people to volunteer for solos.
    Lunch today was in Sorrento’s – I knew I had to try the pizza when I read all the comments about how bad it was. Our verdict: it’s not the best pizza we ever had, but it’s good comfort food. Next stop: visual trivia Horror movies – didn’t win. If everything had gone to plan, we’d have gone to the Hairspray matinee then – but it was postponed due to the ship’s motion. The good news: because of that we could do progressive trivia. We formed a team with two Brits, while they could help with the language, we we’re all stumped on some more US-based questions. Well, it’s for the fun anyway.
    Dinner was up next – quite early because we didn’t want to miss Halloween’s fun and games. We didn’t go in costume because we’d have been toothily challenged – no fun eating with vampire fangs. We'd reserved a table for 5.30 pm and even got our favourite waiter Baptiste. For starters, I took the Maryland Crab Cake that I already had in Hooked (only significant difference was the aioli mayonnaise – much better in Hooked), hubby chose Roasted Garlic Soup – just ok. For entrees I was torn between the Moroccan Spiced Ahi Tuna Steak and the Thai Chicken Breast. Baptiste warned me that the fish had a 50/50 chance of being overcooked, so I went with the safe option and was quite happy with it. Hubby chose Roasted Pork Chop and couldn’t complain either. Highlight of this dinner was my dessert, the Chocolate Molten Cake – that’s really one to die for. Hubby had No Sugar Added Pineapple Upside Down Cake – nothing to write home about. All in all, the food was better on our first visit, but service was much faster (although less personal). To be honest, the crew had much more to do on this occasion as the MDR was packed – last time it was noticeably less so. Overall verdict: food was significantly better last time and is now well below TUI Cruises – good thing we’ll have speciality dining mostly for the rest of the cruise (and yes, I can see Ultimate Dining Packages in our future).

    Being done in about an hour gave us more time to get in costume – make up took most of the time even if it didn’t look like it. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures due to the make up, so please visit the great Twangster’s blog for impressions. Our first stop was the Attic (Haunted House) – entertainment and cruise director’s staff really went all out on this one. Most enjoyable was the couple that was right behind us -  so much fun watching them react to everything. Next stop: Playmakers – I know… again… but we’re still trying out craft beers and they actually showed German soccer (hubby’s team). After they won, we just hung out at the Promenade and watched other dressed up crazies. For us it was quite strange that so many people took part in the parade – especially with sub par costumes – I promised hubby that next time we’ll also register for it even though I’ll have to practise make up first. I can report that our favourite won the costume contest – it was the Addams Family and they really were spot on. When the party on the promende ended, we had our first snack at Cafe Promenade and went to bed afterwards (after removing the make up of course 😁)..

    And because we’re not bots, here’s proof of our Halloween efforts:

    Side notes
    16k steps
    Yes, we’re fast becoming trivia addicts and we’re enjoying this cruise way too much – guess we’ll be back on Royal – not loyal to Royal because we’re way too focused on itineraries but I see us alternating between Royal and TUI. Or maybe switching to Royal completely once we’ve sailed all itinieraries on our bucket list (Norwegian Fjords, Alaska, Panama Canal, South America, Japan, Arctic – yes we know it’ll take us decades to cross them all off).
    No Hairspray, no Solarium, no pools 😥

    Drinks in the MDR have never been a problem – quite the contrary. You couldn’t finish a glass without being asked if you’d like another one.
    We love Halloween! Not a big surprise as we’re horror movie/novels types anyway.
    Funny little European observation: really don’t want to generalize here, but we’ve encountered quite a few „entitled“ Americans. Complaining about creaking in the cabin (well, it’s a ship and we have pitching and rolling…), having to stand in the rain in Barcelona for about one minute while staff checked your documents to allow you into the terminal, slow service in the MDR (believe me, it wasn’t that slow), room steward not personable enough, staff who are not completely fluent in English… From our standpoint, it’s really minor things we would never dream to complain about, but these people apparently love to give hell to the crew.
    Clocks changed tonight – 1 more hour of sleep is always welcome – gotta love westbound TAs!
    Limp Bizkit quote of the day: keep rolling rolling rolling, keep rolling rolling rolling
  17. Wow
    CruisinUngs reacted to Neaxan in LIVE - October 28 - November 9 - Barcelona to Miami - Bringing Symphony home   
    I saw some questions about ship motion in his highness' blog so instead of seizing the amazing bot's blog I'll give you my 2 cents on it.
    We're currently experiencing  a lot of motion - as in 4m (~14 feet) waves, all pools empty, postponing of Hairspray, solarium closed motion... our cabin is the first inside stateroom from the front on deck 8 so it's especially noticeable in here. Luckily, we don't mind - no sea sickness or anything up to now - hope it stays that way.
    The view from the running track (yes, you can get wet in the open spaces): 
  18. Like
  19. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to eaglesfaninfl in Happy Sailings   
    On Brilliance, November 22!!
  20. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to spiralqueen in Happy Sailings   
    I'm looking forward to reading it  since I will be there the sailing after you! 
  21. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Ray in Happy Sailings   
    On freedom on the 25th 🙂
  22. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to betatke1480 in Happy Sailings   
    I will also be on Enchantment 11/19.  Planning to do a live blog on the "side to side-ish".
  23. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to BobNoxious in Happy Sailings   
    BobNoxious on Freedom on Nov 4.    Happy Cruising everyone!!!!
  24. Like
    CruisinUngs reacted to Chitown Traveler in Happy Sailings   
    Sorry to invade this space, I'm on the Mariner of the seas on the 26th. 
  25. Sad
    CruisinUngs reacted to Expressman in Happy Sailings   
    somewhat depressing not seeing @Expressman on that list.  I have to do something about that.  Best wishes to those heading out, play a hand of Blackjack for me.
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