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CruiseHabit Ric

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CruiseHabit Ric last won the day on September 20 2018

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  1. I got off the ship on Friday. I'm continuing to post here to recap my trip. I'd recommend checking out the same restaurant, but on an Oasis or Quantum class ship. Those menus should be the same for Jamie's Italian and Chops Grille. Here's a link to the Jamie's Italian menu on Anthem of the Seas: https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/menus/jamies-italian-dinner-menu-anthem-of-the-seas One difference between lunch and dinner is that the lamb scottadita is only served at dinner.
  2. @toober93 Sure. Take a forward elevator to Deck 11. There will be a sliding glass door on the port (left) side leading to a deck. Follow that deck around the the front of the ship, and you'll see the Peek-a-boo Bridge right at the front under a blue awning. There are a couple of steps down, but an elevator for a wheel chair is built into the starboard (right) side of the Peek-a-boo Bridge. I'm pretty sure a crew member has to operate it. For another semi-hidden area, take the promenade around Deck 4 to helipad at the front of the ship. The helipad is accessible to everyone and even has benches so you can enjoy the sun and wind. There are about 10 steps to get up to the deck. The sports deck was very quiet when I went by. That's one thing that I could have done better on this cruise is getting up to the sports deck. It's tough to see it from anywhere else on the ship, and the times weren't listed in the app, so it was a bit "out of sight, out of mind." I don't think there is drink service on the sports deck. The closest bar is the Sky Bar on Deck 12.
  3. The morning in Nassau started with breakfast in the Windjammer. The buffet was so full, the staff offered Jamie’s Italian, which has its entrance in the lobby of the Windjammer as a place to sit. I happened to run into the same couple I had met the day before, so we sat together for breakfast and had another great conversation. While we were sitting in Jamie’s looking out onto Nassau Harbour and the western tip of Paradise Island, someone spotted a waterspout (a tornado touching down over water) in the distance. Even the staff was moving up to the windows to get a better look. A few minutes after the waterspout dissipated, the Disney Dream joined us in port by backing up into the slot right next-door. After breakfast, I took a few minutes to walk around and take in views of Nassau. While I was walking around the ship, I found the Peek-a-boo Bridge. On the deck above the bridge, the Mariner features windows looking down from a covered deck area into the bridge. In the middle of the area, there is a table with a map of the bridge explaining the bridge positions and functions. There are also two monitors which show the ship’s current navigational information including speed, heading, where we’ve sailed since departing, and where we’re heading to next. Later in the day, I visited Playmakers with someone I had met at The Bamboo Room the evening before. I noticed in the corner of Playmakers, there was professional lighting equipment and a tripod for a video camera set up. While we were having drinks, the area was staged with food from Playmakers. Then, a cameraman came in and set up followed by Hugo the Cruise Director and his assistant Assata. The filmed some promotional videos for the shipboard tv channel, and thankfully, I was just out of frame. I went back to my room to take a nap, then woke up to get some food before setting out on the Sunset Harbour Cruise. Most ships visiting Nassau depart before sundown, but this cruise on Mariner of the Seas stayed in Nassau until midnight. This unusually longer time in port gave me the opportunity to do an excursion not normally offered. If you’d like to read more about the Sunset Harbour Cruise, I’ve written an Excursion Spotlight post on CruiseHabit.com. I booked this excursion through the Royal Caribbean Cruise Planner, but it's also possible to book excursions through outside companies. For more information on making that choice, you can check out this article on CruiseHabit.com. After the Sunset Harbour Cruise, I came back to ship and had dinner. I spent the evening visiting the venues around the ship, and listening to the live musicians. At some point, I returned to The Bamboo Room and tried the On The Run. This is best described as an adult Capri Sun. It’s served in a pouch with a straw. This pouch features a built-in handle — perfect for carrying around. I ended my night with a stop at Cafe Promenade to pickup a couple of slices of pizza and a sandwich to take back to my room. Once back in my room, I turned on the tv to see the broadcast that Hugo and Assata filmed earlier that day.
  4. @twangster That was my expectation, but when I got my tab for a $14 drink, there was a $13 discount on it, so the total was $1.18. Pleasant surprise.
  5. Checking in using the Royal Caribbean app has streamlined check-in for Mariner of the Seas. I was able to load my passport information and then use my iPhone’s camera to take a selfie for the ship’s records. I selected the time I expected to arrive at the port and the app produced a SetSail pass that could be scanned at the port. The new process looked good and it worked well. Around 10am on Monday, I departed from the CruiseHabit.com Global Headquarters (aka Billy and Larissa’s place) and drove to the port. This a drive I’ve made a few times now, but I still use Waze to get me there. Upon arrival, I promptly forgot the order of the letters in the alphabet, and even though Mariner of the Seas was at Terminal G, I drove to the Terminal A-D parking garage. Thankfully, Port Miami is one big loop. After a course correction of my own, I was able to get a parking spot, cross the street, drop of my checked baggage with the porter, and proceed through security. Once in the terminal, a Royal Caribbean agent noted the Gold status on my SetSail pass and directed me to the line for Gold members and fortunately, I was next to be checked in. After asking me a couple of public health questions, I got my SeaPass card and I walked right onto the ship. Easily the smoothest and quickest check-in process I’ve ever experienced. My first stop was of course the Windjammer, and of course, it was packed. After loading up a plate with some curries and chile con carne, I found a table with a young woman sitting alone and, with no other tables available, I asked if I could join her. I also got to meet her husband and learned they were on a vacation with the kids back at home. We had a great conversation (minor spoiler, I’ve run into both of them a few times on the cruise, and we have great conversations every time). Once the staterooms were available, I made my way down to Deck 2, where I’m staying in one of the four new single-occupancy staterooms. The staterooms are tucked away behind the Loyalty Ambassador’s desk, so there’s a feeling of being in a private space that no one else knows about. Having seen how small the interior staterooms on other lines can get, I was nervous. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. The bed is approximately full-size and the bathroom is a standard size bathroom for a cruise ship. Given the chance, I would book this cabin again without hesitation. After staying up so late catching up with Billy and Larissa the night before, I was pretty beat, so I decided to set an alarm for 3:30pm and get a nap in before muster. Once I was up and moving around, I did a walk around the Royal Promenade and got to compare the area to the one on Harmony of the Seas. I sought out Playmakers to get a drink and see what Royal Caribbean’s new concept was all about. At 5:45pm, I went down to the Main Dining Room for an early dinner. The waiter assigned to my table, Rowen from India, was great. As I was dining by myself, I didn’t want dinner to go on too long. He picked up on this and made sure my courses came out with very little time in between. I started with the crab cake and the mushroom soup (both hits), and then had the fried seafood mix. The fish and shrimp on the platter worked just fine, but the breading on the scallop didn’t stick — still an enjoyable dish. After dinner, I went to The Bamboo Room and ordered a Saturn Landing. The flavors in this drink were unexpected, but all worked well together. I think the ginger syrup and the allspice liquor were flavors I’d never tasted in a drink before, but they were a hit. I’ll probably get another one of those before the last night of the cruise.
  6. Some of my thoughts before getting on Mariner of the Seas: Connecticut Gots’ta’s Are Florida Must-Do’s I’m excited to see what Royal Caribbean has packed into a medium-size ship as part of the Royal Amplified initiative. There are six new things on Mariner that Matt would call his gots’ta’s, for me, they’re my must-do’s: Jamie’s Italian The Perfect Storm water slides Playmakers The Bamboo Room tiki bar LaserTag SkyPad Jamie’s Italian sits at the top of my list of memorable meals on Harmony of the Seas. My friends and I enjoyed it there so much, we made it a point to get a second dinner there during our 7-night cruise. On our first visit, I ordered the lamb scottadita. This dish was so good I had to share it with my friends. On our second visit, we all ordered the lamb scottadita. My plan is to go by Jamie’s Italian after the muster drill and see if they have any promotions for dining on the first evening of the cruise. Everything else on my must-do list is new to me and (maybe not the waterslides) new to Royal Caribbean. Some friends of mine who I recently caught up with at a wedding went on the first sailing of Symphony of the Seas in the Mediterranean. They told me about Playmakers on that ship, so I know a little bit of what to expect from a firsthand account, but it’s tough to say that it would be exactly the same in a different space. I’d expect this venue to get rolled out to most, if not all, the Royal Amplified ships from here on out. When I told a friend of mine, who I’ve gone on three cruises with, about the Bamboo Room, he texted me back “Just when you think a cruise can't get more laid back, they add a tiki bar.” I could not have said it any better. The menu for the Bamboo Room looks great with at least three drinks I’d like to try. Wanting to sample from the menu here convinced me to get a drink package. Truth be told, I needed no convincing, but if you’re on the fence, have a look at the menu here. There’s a list of $12 drinks, which would be covered by the package, and there’s a list of $14 drinks that would be a charge of $2, since the drink package covers drinks up to $12 on this ship ($13 on Quantum class and Oasis class ships [Matt, check me on that]). I haven’t played LaserTag since the 80’s most likely. I have to start telling myself now, “I’m just happy to be here. I’m just happy to be here.” I’ll probably last 3 minutes. Hey kids, this is why grandpa buys the travel insurance. I think the arena has fluorescent blacklight, so I’ll have to remember to wear dark colors and not stop by on my way to the glow party. When I read the description of the SkyPad, I don’t know what to think. Seeing a picture of the SkyPad does nothing to clear things up. I have no idea what to expect out of the SkyPad except that I will have tried out the SkyPad. What I do know about it is: trampoline, bungee cord, virtual reality (?). Sure. I’ll do this.
  7. Far too early in the morning on July 4th of this year, I was checking prices on cruises. Prices tend to drop when kids go back to school, so I searched for cruises out of Florida between the Friday after Labor Day and the end of September. One of the best rates that came up was a 4-night cruise on Mariner of the Seas out of Port Miami. I’ve followed the news on Mariner’s renovation and the other ships receiving upgrades as part of the Royal Amplified initiative. Seeing what Royal Caribbean had planned, I thought this could be a ship for me. My other requirement was getting a real bargain on the fare. It looked like I would be sailing solo, and I resigned myself to paying a 200% single supplement — that is, covering the price of double occupancy even if only one person sailed. In the case only one person sails, Royal Caribbean collects taxes and fees for only one person. To make sure I was seeing this rate, I would select 1 passenger when pricing out a sailing. Usually, I’d see the base fare for one person at the same as when priced for two people, but one time… I didn’t. The price was much lower. I found a rare solo cruiser cabin and there was no single supplement at all. I’m a big proponent of travel agents, but 4am on July 4th is not quite the time to get someone on the phone. I decided I needed to book this cruise directly through the Royal Caribbean site or else someone else would. My Crown & Anchor account already had my contact information, so all I had to enter was my credit card. Well, that didn’t work for some reason. After a couple of other hiccups, I decided to call a Royal Caribbean agent. This turned out to be the right move. A really friendly guy saw that the cabin I wanted had a reservation lock from a purchase in progress. I chuckled and told him that was probably me. I gave him the email address on my Crown & Anchor membership and he was able to confirm my contact information. He put me on hold for a little under a minute to talk to someone who could release the reservation lock and allow him to complete the booking over the phone. Before this time when I needed to book at 4am on July 4th, I had worked with the same travel agent on all but my first cruise. When you find a travel agent who is a good match for you, there are benefits. Over time, your agent will get to know your cruising preferences. At the same time, I’m glad to know that when I needed them at an odd hour, there was a Royal Caribbean agent there to help me make the booking I wanted. In my case, I was after final payment date, but if I hadn’t been, and I had not yet paid for the cruise in full, I would have been able to transfer the booking to my usual travel agent. I’ve noticed my Crown & Anchor membership already saved me time twice making this reservation. It occurs to me that even though we affectionately tease the Pre-Gold membership, in my case, even being Pre-Gold would have saved me time when I was on the phone with the Royal Caribbean agent. If you’ve taken a Royal Caribbean cruise and you haven’t signed up for a Crown & Anchor membership, it’s an easy recommendation. I can’t think of any downside. You might get a gift in the room. You’ll get some onboard offers loaded onto your Sea Pass card the next time you sail. I guess I’m also saying if you’re reading this blog because you think you might take a Royal Caribbean cruise, but you haven’t booked yet, go ahead and sign up for a Pre-Gold membership. (All of this is free.) You might find the emails to be another source of Royal Caribbean news. Celebrity Constellation and Disney Magic, both medium-size ships, have been my favorite experiences so far. When I cruised solo this past December, I was on the mega-ship Norwegian Epic. I’m curious to see how those two experiences come together cruising solo on the medium-size Mariner of the Seas. If you’d like, you can read my liveblog from the Norwegian Epic sailing. Follow along as I liveblog here this week. That drink package was paired with streaming internet access, so I’ll also be on Periscope. If staying connected is important t you I recommend checking out the below posts: Keeping in Touch on Ship and Shore & How to Stay in Touch with Someone on Your Royal Caribbean Cruise You can follow me @cruisehabitric and while you’re at it, follow the main account @cruisehabit where Billy covers sail-aways from Port Everglades and Port Miami. Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to track down some answers. I’ll be on Mariner of the Seas to Nassau and Coco Cay with one sea day starting Monday, September 17th.
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