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Everything posted by ThyriC

  1. SUCCESS! Through persuasion from mother in law and myself.... Hub's bringing his suit for formal night!! He was going to do a button down shirt and nice pants, but... I got jacket and tie and dress shoes from him!! I did promise him though that he only had to wear it for dinner and once dinner was over he could run back to the cabin to put on his jeans again.
  2. @CNA Jacksonville Its not that the TA will get you the best price initially, however some offer something like a small amount of onboard credit. Where I found their real value comes in, is the checking for price reductions as time goes by for your cruise. Sometimes the TA has a block of rooms reserved from Royal at a discount rate, and if they do, awesome! But in the case of the non block of rooms, they can reprice your cruise. So say you book initially and your TA got you a price that was 1000 dollars. You put down your refundable deposit and are all excited. 3 months later your TA working hard for you sees that your 1000 dollar cruise is now 800 dollars, and they get your cruise repriced at the lower rate. You just saved 200 dollars without lifting a finger. Cruise planner extras are a little different. Say you buy a drink package, and it comes out to be 60 dollars per person per day. You buy it because you're comfortable with that price. Well, you have an awesome TA who has been tracking cruise planner sales for you as well, and they tell you to check the cruise planner because there's a sale. Well you do as your awesome TA says, and that 60 dollar beverage package is now a 42 dollar beverage package, so you cancel your 60 dollar one and repurchase the 42 dollar one and a few days later the refund arrives for your 60 dollar one. Your amazing TA has saved you yet more money.
  3. The docking at St George is HUGE for Empress. St George in my opinion is the best part of Bermuda. That alone would drive my decision even if Summit and Empress were the same, which they're not. That said Summit is a very nice ship. So I think it really depends to me what you want out of this vacation. Is your trip about the ship? Or is it about the destination? Both? If its more than 50% about the destination, I'd go with Empress. If its more than 50% about the ship, I'd go with Summit.
  4. @coneyraven suuuuuure blame me. I mean I could see it, I'm such the troublemaker and all. She just couldnt bear to see me again. That or she threatened to leave because she knew I wasnt going to be in Baltimore anymore with my moving to South Carolina next year.
  5. Waaaytooo, Ilona has been wonderful to me thus far. Within 12 hours of receiving my reservation requests since I'm on the UDP, I'm booked in to my preferred times and she told me to book what I wanted and if my schedule didnt look like it was going to agree, she could always cancel. And the spa menu she sent is a real godsend, it was something I was curious about all of the offerings that werent on the cruise planner. Looks like they're back on schedule though coming back from the caribbean she might be dodging the remenants of Nestor just a little bit but it doesnt look like something that could cause delays, at this point Nestor's just a low. I dont know why I didnt follow Tampa's weather in the past far more than I have recently. That weather is so darned accurate and it shows the tropics. It showed that low coming off of Africa that was starting to spook me but they're like, naw, we got you, its not coming anywhere close, dont panic.
  6. Well I got my concierge email for Grandeur. It looks like my concierge is Ilona. Oh and @WAAAYTOOO I picked the Owners suite. I have a tendency when I get to rambling to not get the actual point. This was my letter in case anyone was curious what the letter looks like and what the perks on Grandeur are. Dear Suite Guests, Its my pleasure to welcome you onboard via e-mail the beautiful Grandeur of the Seas. We are honored that you have selected Royal Caribbean International for your cruise vacation. My name is Ilona Tsyhaniuk, your Suite Concierge onboard. I am available to assist you with any special requests you may have throughout your cruise vacation. My desk hours in the Concierge Club are daily from 8:00 am to 11:00 am and 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm. As a special VIP guest you are offered exclusive amenities and services not available to other guests onboard Grandeur of the Seas. For your convenience, here is a brief summary of those services: Access of the Concierge Club, located on Deck 11 just right beside the Viking Crown lounge. ( Using your GOLDEN sea pass card ). Upgraded amenities for the bathroom. Continental breakfast and special coffee served in the lounge daily from 7:00 am to 10:00 am Lunch on Boarding day in The Great Gatsby Dining Room Deck 4 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm Hors d’oeuvres, petit fours and complimentary bar setup served in the lounge every evening before and after dinner from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Daily menus displayed at the lounge and pre-ordering for your dinner wine. Full Dining Room room-service privilege (available when Dining Room is open times only) Reservations for our Specialty restaurant, sports activities, Shore excursion! Spa appointments. Arrangements for private parties. Spa Bathrobes for use onboard. Business services such as copies, statements and any print outs, boarding passes, etc... Reserved VIP seats for production shows.(Please show Cruise Director’s staffs your Gold Sea Pass card at the entrance). Exclusive Suite private breakfast at CHOPS GRILLE from Day 2 onwards at Deck 6 Aft 7:30 am to 9:30 am, Including departure morning (6:45 AM to 8:00 AM). The Concierge Club is a private area accessible on a 24-hour basis, with your golden suite key you will have access. For grand suite and above guests and the top tiers that have access to the lounge. The private lounge has been designated a smoke-free area. We respectfully request that guests observe a Smart Casual dress code when visiting the lounge (no swim or pool attire is allowed, footwear is required at all times). To ensure all our guests are able to enjoy this exclusive lounge we require that all guests 20 years and younger must be well behaved and accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times. Please come and visit me in the Concierge Club or contact me by dialing 4446 from any ship phone. If there is any way I can be of assistance to make your cruise vacation more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to ask. We hope you will have the vacation of a lifetime onboard the Grandeur of the Seas. Salon & Spa appointments, shore excursions and some of our other services often get sold out. Therefore, it is recommended that these be booked in advance either through the Royal Caribbean website at http://www.royalcaribbean.com/home.do or if you prefer, by emailing me and I will make the reservations for you. Once the reservations are made, I will send you an email confirming the details. If you have any further requests please do not hesitate to contact me.Please see the below menu for the SPA.If you have any dinning room request with regards to timing, location or if you are travelling with friends or family and would like to be seated together, please let me know via email at your earliest convenience. The 1st seating is at 5:30 pm and the 2nd seating is at 8 pm.Kind Regards,Ilona TsyhaniukSuite Concierge | Grandeur of the Seas®
  7. I start packing my packing cubes with stuff that isnt folded about 1 month out. So toiletries, electronics, cables, all that stuff. 2 weeks out the packing cubes with clothes that dont wrinkle or wrinkles come out easily (jeans, tshirts, undies, socks, shoes) get packed 1 week out, Formal attire and clothes that wrinkle but the wrinkles come out easily go in. Packing cubes also go into the suitcases at this point 2 days out. Final check against spreadsheet of clothing, toiletries, electronics. Medication is packed. Purse is checked. Cruise binder triple checked and I self email cruise documents just in case. I have two email accounts that I hold the cruise documents in. Copies are on my phone. Documents checked into the cruise binder and double checked that there are copies of the copies. 1 day out. One more check just in case. Likely last minute trip to the dollar store because I know despite all of this checking and spreadsheets, I forgot something.
  8. I'd take the forward one. Aft motion is a bit much for me but forward never has bugged me.
  9. Bring that Old Bay @coneyraven Old Bay isnt just a seasoning, its a lifestyle
  10. I wish I had known about the green apples and ginger seasickness remedy. I remember on my first cruise WAY back when, I stared out my porthole at the waves. Not at the horizon, at the waves. For HOURS. I got SOOO motion sick. I was given a shot from the ship's doctor that knocked me out for 5 hours, but I was SO much better afterwards. Now I was a teen at the time so I have no clue how much it cost my parents for the shot, but it was worth it, for me. And I learned my lesson the next cruise. I ate green apples and took a little crystalized ginger at the first sign of queasiness, and no sea sickness. I could stare at the waves without any issue. After that I started taking bonine or would get the patch from my doctor. The patch does make me a bit drowsy, but it works for me. Bonine for me is a bit hit or miss. Essentially I need something that knocks me out and then I'm good or the green apples and ginger. I wish they made a green apple and ginger smoothie for seasickness onboard, because there's something magical about that combination for me
  11. Hello Crew Member!! Thank you for all of your hard work. Every day, every moment, making those guests lives a bit brighter because of YOU
  12. I dont think hub and I will be in Baltimore anymore when she finally leaves Baltimore. But if there would be any reason to return, seeing Lady G off is a good reason. I might try to score a "business trip" to Baltimore when she returns home for the last time just to say goodbye
  13. I think a culturally enriching cruise would be GREAT! Especially since its culturally enriching. You're not going to be culturally enriched if you're not immersed in that culture. What I would suggest though, if you're sailing out of china, read up on the visas. DO A LOT OF READING ON THE VISAS. China isnt somewhere where you just take your passport and you're done. Same with reading up on Chinese culture norms. They're much different than the USA. And that's a good thing. Just realize, its their culture, their country. Also I'd recommend spending a week in China before your cruise (or after) because you're travelling all that way. Really get to know the local culture, local food, local people. Really get enriched. I'm adventurous when it comes to not speaking the local language. There's a lot of pointing that happens when you dont speak the local language. And pointing in a good way. Your mobile device is your best friend when it comes to your pointing game. Want a particular food? Bring it up on the phone and point! A good translation app helps a lot as well in understanding chinese characters.
  14. I think Delmarva will be fine even without a Vision class ship in it. New York is not that far away and opens up the megas to a market that historically has cruised small. Now is it a bit of a hike to get to New York from Baltimore? Without traffic about 4 hours. Not bad, but certainly not the 20-30 minute drive I'm accustomed to. But Delmarva has always had access to the big ships. They may also try to put a Radiance class ship into the Chesapeake. Now the thing is, Radiance will fit under the bridge, the problem comes with the basin in which the cruise ship has to turn around in. Supposedly that's not big enough, but I honestly doubt that. I also think Baltimore would be wise to think about their cruise port if Royal cannot fit a ship because of the basin size. Possibly lose cruising dollars to New York? The port of baltimore has been really tooting its horn about the size of container ships it can hold, so if it could fit a larger cruise ship, it may actually be a boon for Baltimore. Baltimore will never be able to hold a mega ship. The bridge is just too low. And raising the bridge is a crazy expensive option. Would it be awesome to one day see Harmony of the Seas cruising into Baltimore.... sure. But the amount of work it would take to bring an Oasis class into baltimore would be too much. I'd think instead, once Enchantment retires, they'd bring one of the Celebrity ships into Baltimore. Maybe one like Millennium. Or perhaps a new class of ship would be able to service the smaller ports. To serve Tampa, Cuba, Baltimore, etc.
  15. I'm also heartbroken to hear this about Lady G. But at least I have a chance to say goodbye to her. I guess my move to South Carolina was serendipity. When Lady G leaves Baltimore, so do I.
  16. Ok I guess I'll jinx myself like @Matt and start the live-ish blog early. So this cruise was many things to my husband and I. First, it was a yolo black friday sale and I had been eyeballing cruises to take my husband on for a while. He's not really the vacation-y type and I adore exploring and vacationing. I've been very comfortable travelling solo but I really wanted him to experience a cruise. He's a Marine so his idea of a cruise is hot bunking, doing fire fighting training onboard a carrier and being miserable while the Navy got him where he needed to go. Vacationing to me is at least 4 star hotels, gourmet meals, relaxation, spa visits, etc. We're like night and day when it comes to travelling. His last experience with "Thyri Style" travel was our honeymoon in the Poconos doing the whole champagne glass whirlpool thing. He needs to get out more. I adore cruising, I adore the water. I'm not married to any cruise line in particular but Royal does give us the option to sail out of Baltimore, which is a 20 minute drive from our house. So when the price was right on black friday, I asked hub, "can I book this PLEASE? I need a vacation, WE need a vacation" mega SWMBO guilt trip pouring on and he allowed it. 5 nights to Bermuda. But it has to be "Thyri style". So I debated for about 20 minutes between the Grand Suite and the Owners Suite. I knew I didnt want or need the Royal Suite because well, my logic is I dont play piano. The price difference wasnt too much, and the larger balcony just sealed the deal for me. So I booked it. Then I found this blog and these forums and learned about MEI travel. I was considering being my own travel agent for this but Pam Richter at MEI really has been a godsend. She sorted me out on a name discrepancy on our tickets and our travel documents. Hub's last name has a III at the end. That wasnt on our tickets. Pam to the rescue! She also helped us sort out travel insurance. I kind of was excited, relieved, and nervous at the same time. I've wanted to go on a cruise with hub for a very long time. I also must be the only woman on the planet who cant remember her anniversary to save her life. I realized at the time of this cruise, it would be 15 years of putting up with each other. Fast forward to tax time. I had expected my work bonus as well as my tax refund (YAY), and I just said the heck with it and paid off the cruise. I wanted it done, I wanted it to be "complete". I wasnt planning on changing cabins or ships. I knew I could get the time off of work because I always book my time off so far in advance before anyone else can take it. So now what else. I decided to completely splurge and do the "as close to all inclusive as you can get on a cruise" method. So there was a WOW sale that happened with a deal of $52 for the deluxe beverage package and the voom internet. Ok that was a no brainer, I wanted a beverage package anyways. I'm not a huge drinker, but I do like the convenience of being able to have that extra drink after dinner, or at a show, or a latte with breakfast. I also wanted that convenience of knowing that was all taken care of before the cruise. And the price was nice for both the drink package and the voom. Then I started looking at specialty dining. I knew I wanted to do that. I kind of like doing a "pre dinner" at a place like Izumi and then go to Chops or Giovanni's for the real dinner. Or have the option to go to the windjammer for pregame, go to Chops for the main course, and then maybe have dessert by room service. Again this was more about the flexibility than it was "getting the most" out of specialty dining. I'm sure my hub and I wont come close to making the ultimate dining package worth it, but its the flexibility for us. Also I can devour a lot of sushi. Ok with drinks and food taken care of. I pivoted to excursions. I really wanted to show hub the beauty of Bermuda, the history. And about 24 hours to do it in, it would be challenging but I'd use this as a teaser to go on more cruises. So I booked a snorkeling excursion and a glass bottom boat ride for our first day, and a history bus tour on the 2nd. Well unfortunately the history bus tour got cancelled, so our 2nd day has become a free day. Personally I want to explore more of the Dockyard this visit. I really REALLY wanted to go to St George but with all of the activities booked on day 1, it just wasnt going to happen. I figured that the first day it would give us something fun, and then something relaxing while really taking in the sights of Bermuda. I also decided to "treat yo self" and get a few things for the room as well. I got the anniversary decorations gift thing, I got a bottle of champagne, 2 beach towels, a tote bag, rum and coke, and some sodas. Since hub is a bit of a homebody, I didnt want him missing out if he didnt feel up to going out and about with me. I wanted things to be as absolutely smooth as possible for his first cruise. Excessive? Possibly. But that's just my kind of style. And that was it for the planning phase. Then it was 10 months of waiting. Stalking the cruise planner for better deals (except on the intern mistake day of course). Reading the blog, chatting with other cruisers. I was in full cruise planning mode and 10 months felt like forever. Now its 10 days and I'm starting a blog. I'll do my best depending on the Voom to post as many photos and details as I can. At 10 days out I have not heard from my concierge yet. But I'm expecting to hear from them in the next week to book dining reservations. I do tend to be a little cavalier with my dining on a ship though. So I just want to book Chops on the first day because hub desperately wants the seafood tower and I promised I'd get him one. We even say to each other now "seafood tower?" and give a thumbs up. I fear our little inside joke will happen onboard when we actually get it. But I'll do my best to share the suite life on a Vision class ship.
  17. I really like both types of ships, but for different reasons. The big ships I like for party type getaways to places like Coco Cay. Those I expect the slides and the amusement parks at sea. But on those I'm expecting more children, and more party music, and a lot less quiet. When I expect a party, I like to go big. But I do miss finding those little places to get some peace and quiet other than my room. But when I want to relax, I love the smaller ships. Its more intimate, it doesnt feel as rushed. No slides, no amusement parks, no party party party til you drop atmosphere. The pools tend to be a little more available. The dining rooms feel more intimate. The Windjammer doesnt feel so packed. But on a smaller ship, I do miss the broadway musicals and aquashows of the big ships. My end thought, enjoy what you enjoy. I can find enjoyment pretty much anywhere though.
  18. I love the ones from Ebags. I've gotten really good results from them. If you watch for their sales, you can get a set of 4 (which fit well in a large suitcase... about 25-28") regular ones for 20 dollars, and compression for about 30-35. Also keep an eye on cubes from Ebags on Amazon. I have a set that have handles on them (to act as carryons themselves just in case you have a lot of souvenirs. But I have had just wonderful results from Ebags in general. I STILL have my carryon I got from them of their house brand that's lasted for almost 15 years now as a softsider. No rips, tears, broken zipper. Nothing.
  19. Shelly Beach is very small but lovely. And not usually too horribly crowded like Horseshoe. There's also Tobacco Bay beach but I'm starting to fear that the more that beach gets recommended again and again on blogs and forums that its going to suffer from overcrowding. Honestly, there isnt a bad beach in Bermuda One thing I can recommend is find one of those tour guides that sets themselves up on the pier. For a very reasonable cost (FAR less than anything organized by Royal) you can pretty much get a private chauffeur and tour guide and they can give some great beach recommendations from a local.
  20. Settle down ocean, I'm in my final countdown. @WAAAYTOOO leave her in good shape for me!
  21. I use packing cubes and I LOVE them. Why? 1. Allows me to "pre pack" Pack a cube at a time and check it off of the list. DONE! 2. Compression. Compression cubes can allow you to pack more in a smaller bag (really awesome if you're going carryon only) Even non compression cubes can give you a degree of compression to cram more stuff in. 3. My set of cubes fits perfectly in my luggage. One set of cubes per side on my big luggage. I can color code my cubes (I've collected several sets of cubes over the years because they're all just so CUTE!) so I know what I'm unpacking. Why would I want to know what I'm unpacking? Completionism maybe? But more to say "ok this cube is makeup, this cube is hub's unmentionables, this cube is tshirts, etc etc" 4. To follow on 3. Keeps stuff in its place! So I'm not needing to dig around in the various pockets and crevases of my luggage for that eye pencil or mini perfume. Its in the cube! To answer your question. Does it save space? Compression cubes do. Regular cubes "can" but I wouldnt bank on it. But for me and my pre-packing game, I cant live without my cubes.
  22. I normally do $5 per bag for the porters. Usually I round up to a 20 just to be kind to them working so hard with my luggage. Also for luggage karma. I then keep some 5's for room service tips. Usually about 20-40 for that. I also keep a 20 to give on the last day to give to my favourite bartender, sometimes I add more from my seapass, but I like to give them cash because I know that money is going into their pocket. Then I bring 200 in larger bills. That's for taxis, port souvenirs, port bartender tips, etc. Also able to use at the casino. I never keep the full 200 on me though. More often than not I keep 100 with hub, and 100 with me. That way if one wallet is lost, the other wallet can cover. Then I bring a $50 that I put in a chinese lucky bag (its kind of my thing) with a small gift for my cabin steward. This year its a Snoopy charm necklace, a thank you letter, the cash, and a Maryland pin. That way if my cabin steward is a male, all I need to do is remove the snoopy necklace, and find something in Bermuda as a suitable man gift. So my grand total of cash to bring onboard is about $300. Then I also put $200 in my onboard spending account as cash rather than all of the holds on my debit card. Maybe more if I plan on visiting the spa or buying an excursion while onboard, normally I take care of that before though
  23. I would highly recommend going to a currency exchange in the US (possibly your bank knows of a good one) prior to sailing for cash. Check with your credit card company (or debit card if you choose to debit card) to see what their overseas transaction fees are. If no fees, great! If the fees are crazy, you may want/need more cash or travelers cheques. You can also withdraw cash onboard in usually USD, Euros, or Pounds but that's normally about it. What I would recommend is if your credit card has no international transaction fees, to keep small amounts of cash, and use the card for everything else. If your card does have fees then its time to run a budget for what you'd like to spend money on, and bring that in the local currency. If you need more you can always withdraw onboard, and then pay the fee.
  24. Enjoy your trip Brian! Even if you're a Pats fan hehe. Leave some rum in Bermuda for the rest of us!
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