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Everything posted by Mike_

  1. I saw take home tests at CVS... but I don't know how they work or how long they take. I am sure they are not instant like pregnancy tests. Amazon also offers such tests: FAST RESULTS WITH EXPRESS RETURN SHIPPING – Includes prepaid UPS next-day shipping to lab at no additional cost. Drop off your sample at UPS within 24 hours from collection. Receive results within 24 hours of your sample arriving at the lab. TRAVEL COMPLIANT – Meets requirements for testing when traveling within the US (except Hawaii), and when traveling from the US to many international locations. Test result documentation provided, download 'Product Documentation' below.
  2. Funnily enough, I was looking at an AOS repositioning cruise out of Galveston late April 2022. It looked like a good value, a nice long cruise, and included things and places I have never been before. 1. Repositioning Cruise. 2. Places like, Panama, Costa Rica, and Columbia. I miss cruising... convincing wife we won't be stranded or quarantined is difficult. 13 NIGHT Western Caribbean & The Americas LEAVING FROM: Galveston, Texas, onboard Adventure of the Seas VISITING: Galveston, Texas | Cruising | Cozumel, Mexico | Cruising | Puerto Limon, Costa Rica | Colon, Panama | Cartagena, Colombia | Cruising | George Town, Grand Cayman | Falmouth, Jamaica | Labadee, Haiti | Cruising | Cape Liberty, New Jersey
  3. Thar she blows! My wife and I have been wanting and waiting to go on Freedom for many years, but the heavens never quite aligned for us. Last week we were in San Juan leaving on an NCL cruise and as I took our traditional "first drink" photo, what photobombs me? Freedom! I have been chasing that elusive whale for many a voyage, and finally I have come in contact with her. I checked your "Events" page and saw that you had an upcoming cruise aboard her, so threw my harpoon and I am booking. See you soon! Mike_
  4. I noticed that the reviews were missing this week, which I assumed they removed to kill any "negative" reviews that were present. Hey, I'm a negative thinker. Instead I used cruisecritic and tripadvisor to zero in on good vs bad. Mike
  5. I leave the auto gratuities in place, because I think Royal has a better idea of how tips are distributed and who they should go to then I do. There is some percentage of how it's distributed that I saw on their tv channel. It's split with your steward and dining staff I think... and one other. I also tip my steward in cash, and my wait staff additionally on the last day/night of the cruise, not of these people provide extremely personal service to me, and it feels right to me. My first steward also told me he only gets paid for the rooms that are full... so if he has 12 rooms assigned, and only 10 are filled, then he's losing money. They work awlful hours too; my stewards always look like they never sleep a straight 8 hours. And my assistant waiter for dinner, was handing out juice at breakfast! P.S. I heard they pool their tips anyway, so even if you hand a direct cash tip, it goes into the pool. If they don't hand money to the pool they can be terminated for hiding money. That was on a Podcast interview... so not sure if that's the same on all cruise lines, but if it is, you're not gaining anything by removing the tips if you are just going to hand out the same exact money anyway. e.g. $12.95 x 2 x 7 days or however long your cruise is. I think... :)
  6. I don't have any problem washing my hands or using sanitizer. I wash my hand in the bathroom, I use the hand towel to open doors, I sanitize into a dining area, leaving a dining area, and sometimes when moving into a new location. It does not feel like an inconvenience to me at all, it's about keeping the ship and it's passengers as healthy as possible. If you think about it, in the buffet everyone is handling the same serving utensils. Wait staff are picking up glasses, cleaning dishes, bringing you drinks. It's general health and welfare. We all get shots and inoculations to ensure a healthier populace, same goes for washing hands. But the song gets stuck in my head!!!!!!!
  7. Oh my god, this song is sooooo stuck in my head still!
  8. ..and, any day on a cruise is a day not at work. ;) I'd take a cruise just about anywhere, from anywhere, anytime. I like them that much. :)
  9. I am not so sure of tipping either... at least my views are changing. On day one when we meet the attendant I introduce myself, ask for the extras I will need, such as extra pillows, ice in ice bucket, extra towels, etc. Then, when the cruise completes, I tip at the end. If he was great, and the room was exceptionally clean I will tip. I don't want to tip early because I don't want the attendant to think that's all they get, or that since they were tipped they can forget about me either. I have never had bad service, but I have had "great" service, and there is a difference. I changed my tipping procedures because I heard some things since my first cruise. On one podcast, not RCB, I heard the attendant, nor anyone on the ship, does not get to keep their tips. They are pooled amongst everyone, servers, on the cruise, and the employee can be terminated if they are found to hide their tips. This makes sense, as not every server has equal chances of tips. e.g bartenders and wait staff have best chances. Also, I heard from a steward, that they only get paid if the rooms are full. So for example, if only 10 rooms of his 12 assigned are full, he only gets paid from those full rooms. Also, the tips that we are charged on tip of our bills are supposed to be the "tip". I admit that $25 per day for room and waitress seems small, all your drinks include a tip charge. I also heard the best thing you can do for a staff member is to remember their name. Then when you complete the end of cruise critique, mention the great ones who served you in that critique. Their names are ver hard though, so I may ask to take photo instead... but that feels really creepy too. My two cents. Mike_
  10. On NCL they gave seasick meds out for free at Guest Services. I called down, they asked some questions, and went and retrieved it. I also heard you can ask your cabin steward and they will leave it in the room. They ask questions about allergies, pregnancy, etc. On RCCL, I do not know if they give it out for free, but I can't imagine why they would be different. I do not use them, so I can't speak to their effectiveness.
  11. Elle, I have found personally that I do not beat the cruise ships on drink packages. The package for two can cost me $800 for two people, and I usually end up spending under $500 on a 7-8 day cruise, and that's with $1 tip for each drink. If the cruise is port intensive, more than 3 in a 7-8 day cruise, I loose. I end up on an excursion, walking around town, drinking some in town, etc. If your not on the ship you are not drinking for free; except in Labadee where your drink package is extended to the island. I prefer better beers or foreign types, and they are cheaper than domestic on cruise ships. Guineess is $4 vs Bid light is $6.50. My wife drinks less than me, so you used to have to get the package for everyone in the stateroom; I don't think this is the case anymore. If it is, you loose. I just did a cruise with unlimited drink packages, and after three-four days of drink I was exhausted and had to take a liver nap. If my liver is napping, I loose. It's also hard to drink a lot of the fruity or creamier drinks, too filling. They are the more expensive drinks. e.g. $12+. Once on a RCL cruise I was able to buy five Coronas and a cooler full of ice with a bottle opener for $25. They brought the whole thing to me with a cup of limes. However, if you had the drink package they would only bring one beer at a time. So that is a pain as well. The good thing is you can have a mimosa for breakfast, wine at dinner, etc. and know ahead of time what your total costs are. However, there is always a special drink each day that is discounted, etc. so there are ways of saving and making your booze dollar go further. My first two cruises I paid cash, and beat the packages. The last cruise it was included as an incentive, I drank a lot, but I still don't think I beat them; I might have broke even. Good luck. Mike_
  12. Looks like fun! Free drinks? Did someone say free drinks? I think I heard free drinks. Who said free drinks?
  13. Well, I finally booked all the entertainment venues. I have not booked any excursions, but I am interested in doing something in Jamaica or Cozumel; not sure what yet. We decided to fly into Ft. Lauderdale two days early too, since it's a Sunday departure. So I plan on enjoying a few relaxing days before the party starts! Good luck to all, I am excited for vacation, and meeting everyone. Toot, toot! Mike_
  14. Okay, we're under 50 days until this group cruise and I am starting to get excited! The holidays are over, and I have not been on a ship in three months, and my palms are getting sweaty... Who is in on this cruise? What plans are you making? What excursions are interesting? Has anyone prebooked anything on the cruise yet, such as water theater show? I've never been to Jamaica or Haiti, so they are new ports to me. I was so excited, I booked another cruise in September. Ugh, this podcast/blog is supposed to be helping quench my addiction... I don't think it's helping. Good luck to all, fair winds and following seas! Mike_
  15. Matt, My initial feeling is that the smaller ships it feels like the center of the ships are where everything happens, and the elevators are located there. However, on these big ones the elevators are severely forward or aft, which always makes for a long walk. And, they appear less intimate. Just a feeling. Thanks, Mike_
  16. I feel like the Freedom of the Seas continually comes up in Podcast and comments as being a special ship... am I crazy or is it regarded as such? I am looking for future bookings and was thinking of giving this ship a try. Thanks, Mike_
  17. Matt, I am not sure I like these big ships yet, I will hold my judgement until we do Allure in February. My first two cruises were on smaller ships, Jewel and Vision, and I really like their sizes... I think. Very charming, lots to do, but the layout seems right to me. However, I have my eyes on that Freedom of the Seas... there are a lot of "love" comments on your Podcast about that one, I might have to give it a spin. :) Mike_
  18. And... the only way to limit those blues is the knowledge that you somehow talked your wife into booking another cruise while aboard. Crazy. I actually said to my wife the last day of our last cruise, "I think I am done with cruising for a while." The next day, I was already looking towards the next one. I am joining Cruisers Anonymous, this blog and podcasts are not helping.
  19. lol. I have started some strategies for eating less. First, I try to do sit-down breakfast if possible. e.g. MDR. Second, I try to eat only three meals a day, spaced 5 hours apart. Third, if I order two entres, because I can't decide, I only eat half of each. I know the above sounds crazy, but using it I have avoided that bloated feeling by day 5 when my pants stop fitting well. I wish I could eat Euorpean style. e.g. Coffee, scone. But I hate to miss a full meal :) Mike_
  20. Hello All, Just back from NCL Breakaway and the cruise turned out to be very good. Not to the level of RCCL, but still very nice. The stateroom may have been smaller, but I didn't notice. The balcony was smaller, but the showers were bigger than I was used to on RCCL. Instead of an enclosed circle, it was more rectangle; however the water leaked out the bottom of the door where a gap was( we had some heavy seas to Bermuda which I thought was really cool, but caused water to slosh around the bathroom sometimes). The food in the MDR was very good, as was the buffet. We ate at one specialty restaurant, the Italian one, and it was not up to MDR. I loved leaving out of NYC, as it was a train ride vs plane; I live near Philly. And, we had the unlimited drink package, which was offered free of charge, and this was nice. I don't think I could ever beat the ship at per drink vs ubp. I tried! I did like that the dress code was a lot more relaxed on NCL than RCCL. Dress up night was only one night, and they said if you don't feel like it, don't. We lucked out and beat the hurricanes. Weather was perfect until the last day, which was too windy to go topside. However, we had the ubp, so that was okay. Bermuda was great. Rented scooters, my wife took a spill, so next time I would rent a double and put her on back. We also bought a day pass for CoCo Reef, which included lunch, beach chairs, umbrellas, pool, etc. for $65pp. Thanks for all the advice offered above, I am glad that I continued with the cruise. Mike_ P.S. I got off this cruise and swore I was done with cruising for a long time. Then I got home, uploaded my photos and said, "I can't wait for the next one!" Five months. ;)
  21. I was wondering if everyone goes through these ups and downs during a cruise. For example: Day one, I am tired from the travel and relieved that I made it to the boat. Day five or six, I feel so stuffed that I can't wait until I am off it. Day seven, at night, I keep drinking and wondering the ship remorseful that I have to leave her the next day. I was on a cruise out of Tampa last year on Vision of the Seas, and that ship partied from the life boat drill until we docked. That was an excellent cruise, no downs, only ups! Mike_
  22. I sense the casino is a thing... ;) Yes, I booked on the Breakaway. I have actually been to Bermuda before, twice. I was stationed there for two short tours while in the Navy. I was young and poor then and found it boring. I am older now, but still poor, so we'll see how this goes. I plan on doing all my eating and drinking on the ship. I want to rent a scooter for three days and spend each day on a different beach and just taking it easy. If I remember correctly, Bermuda rolls up the sidewalks at 5:00 PM, so not much to do there at night anyway. I am interested in what it will be like with a ship in the same port for three straight days. Since I had never cruise before I tried better rooms on port intensive itineraries. I figured if I didn't like it I could get off. However, I am coming along in my thinking and enjoying the ships more, the excursions less. On the last cruise all the diamond clubbers were preaching the same, so it must be a learning experience. Thanks to all, can't wait until we start planning some things. P.S. I picked the 6:00 PM dining time, as that seems to be the hardest slot to get into. And, if dynamic dining comes our way or we can group up for some of the nights that would be great.
  23. Stephanie, I am excited about being on one of the newer and bigger ships, I have only completed two cruises so far, Jewel out of San Juan, South Caribbean, and Vision out of Tampa, for a Western Caribbean. I always avoided Haiti, but Matt's reverence for Labade (sp?) piqued my interest, so I am now excited about going there too. Before I always chose cruises based on destination, now I am a little more attracted to the ships themselves. However, I did see a Southern Caribbean cruise that did Grenada, and some additional islands like Aruba, which I thought would be new an interesting too. P.S. I also have one scheduled in September on Norwegian, from NYC to Bermuda. I wanted to see what the other lines were like before making a commitment. However, I really like RCCL, so why change? lol.
  24. Lol! Stephanie! Sorry I did not realize your secret identity. ;) Thank you very much, it was a pleasure and a breeze working with MEI today. They made everything super easy, answered all my questions, and provided great advice. Now the waiting begins :(.
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