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Everything posted by BrianB

  1. Love Jaime’s on the Anthem! Meat plank, lasagna, tagliatelle bolognese...my favs! Always consistent. Did Giovanni’s on the Allure. Loved it also. Please don’t make me choose!!😎
  2. My Diamond Plus status secret is cruising solo. Getting two points per night adds up quick. I have eight cruises completed and just reached Diamond after my cruise in May. So the first time I was able to enjoy the benefits on board was this past b2b in Sept-Oct. The Diamond Lounge on the Anthem is very nice...and Federico, the concierge, helped me with some reservations. I will be Diamond Plus in two months after my December cruise. I love cruising (obviously🤣) and agree that the cruise itself is the main reward. The benefits are appreciated and the C&A program is a very nice way to recognize loyalty. I’m already at the top level (over 700 points) at another cruise line and I can honestly tell you that the C&A benefits are far and away much, much better! Loyalty programs will always go through periods of tweaking and adjusting...hopefully for the better. But my goal is to enjoy my cruise...whichever one I happen to be on...and, when I’m back on land, to count the days until my next cruise. I am thankful that I’m fortunate enough to be able to do what I do. Thank you for this blog because you can never know enough, or learn enough, about cruising without friends sharing their insight and experiences. Happy cruising!
  3. I've discovered the policy can change from sailing to sailing. Sometimes it may depend on how many crew members need to see CBP whether they come aboard or not. If they don't, then b2b'ers would need to disembark. Or, as posted, if CBP has enough officers on duty that day. Plus, there's always the unpredictably factor. Luckily for us, it's the onboard check...at least for now. We'll see what happens when we get back to Bayonne Saturday. Fingers crossed!
  4. Hi, and thanks for the replies. I'm aboard now and just learned how b2b's are handled on the Anthem at Cape Liberty in Bayonne NJ... Because I was unable to book the same cabin, I have to pack up all my clothes that I keep in the drawers...plus, of course all my bathroom stuff. My room attendant will take care of the clothes hanging in the closet, moving them on the hangers. He will also move my suitcase when the other room is empty. I, and every other b2b'er must report to the Diamond Lounge on deck 4 on turnaround day where we must show our passports to CBP and then we will be checked in. That's it! We don't have to disembark. We don't have to go to guest services. It's all done in the Diamond lounge. We are then free to wander about the ship until our cabins are ready (except those fortunate enough not to have to change cabins). This procedure is specifically for Port Liberty in Bayonne. I know other ports may have other procedures that may differ somewhat. I think this is another good reason to start a 'Port Specific' information forum...as has been mentioned in a previous posting. I have lots of info on Cape Liberty. Happy cruising!
  5. I leave tomorrow on the Anthem from Cape Liberty for a nine day cruise to New England and Canada. I then stay aboard for a back to back for a five day to Bermuda. This will be my first b2b aboard the Anthem. Does anyone have any information on the process aboard the Anthem at Cape Liberty? I was unfortunately unable to book the same cabin so I have to move to another nearby cabin. Do I pack everything and leave my bag in the cabin taking only my carry-on and valuables? Or do I pack everything but the clothes hanging in the closet? Do I need to leave the ship to pass through customs or is there a place onboard where we b2b’ers meet with CBP officers and show our passports? I’m sure this will all be spelled out completely when I receive my letter in the cabin, and I apologize for posting this so close to sailing...but I know I’ll get the best insight and opinions of the process by the experts here on this blog. I tried searching the forums but apparently wasn’t doing it right as I couldn’t find any past posts. Thank you! Happy cruising!
  6. I, too, noticed the ‘Buy One, Get One’ free items don’t seem beneficial to solo cruisers. Maybe there is a discount applied to the first purchase...like the specialty restaurant...if you tell them you are solo.
  7. I can’t imagine the company making such a huge infrastructure investment without taking into consideration the high probability of a direct hit by a major hurricane. In the event of a direct, or indirect, hit...I’m sure many of the structures will sustain damage...as will many of the areas susceptible to the tidal surges accompanying the storm. There is plenty of historical data to guide their storm damage assessment and recovery planning. The island has been transformed into a very popular and hugely successful money-making project and they will work quickly to bring it back to full operating status as soon as possible. We just need to keep in mind the local Bahamians who do the work on the island and hope that they, and their families, remain safe and secure.
  8. I can’t imagine the company making such a huge infrastructure investment without taking into consideration the high probability of a direct hit by a major hurricane. I’m sure many of the structures will sustain damage...as will many of the areas susceptible to the tidal surges accompanying the storm. There is plenty of historical data to guide their storm damage assessment and recovery planning. The island has been transformed into a hugely successful money-making project and they will work as quickly as possible to bring it back to full operating status as soon as possible. We just need to keep in mind the local Bahamians who do the work on the island and hope that they, and their families, remain safe and secure.
  9. Bayonne is convenient for me and, being retired...I’ve found that the best way to spend winter in New Jersey is not being in New Jersey. I love cruising out of the Hudson in winter. A day and a half or so and I’m switching from a heavy coat to wearing t-shirts and flip flops. And...most important...I don’t get sad coming back knowing I’m leaving in another week! I love cruising!😎
  10. Anthem Sept 26, 2019 Anthem Oct 5, 2019 (b2b) Allure Oct 20, 2019 Anthem Nov 2, 2019 Anthem Dec 8, 2019 Anthem Jan 27, 2020 Anthem Feb 15, 2020 Anthem Feb 23, 2020 (b2b) Anthem Mar 22, 2020 Adventure Apr 5, 2020 Oasis May 17, 2020 Adventure Sept 10, 2020 Adventure Sept 19, 2020 (b2b) Oasis Oct 4, 2020 Thank you!
  11. I have more than one cruise booked. Should I post one at a time or just list them? Thanks! **see below signature. LOL!
  12. I’m booked on the Allure for a 7 day in October and have neither received an email nor seen any change in my cruise planner. I guess the ports are close enough that speed is not an issue. I’m solo, retired and cruise frequently so this will just add a little excitement to my sailing. I feel sorry for those with families on vacation who have booked way in advance and have been eagerly anticipating their cruise...anxiety and nerves must be affected. Reservations, hotels, flights, etc. I hope the only inconvenience is the port schedule changes and that everything else goes perfectly for everyone.
  13. It will most likely be very cold and windy...I have found that dressing in layers on the first day is the best way to go, especially if you want to spend some time outdoors, like at sailaway. A warm coat, hat and gloves are a good idea, just remember you have to store them afterward. And you’ll most likely need them upon your return. Usually the weather tends to moderate once you’re rounding Cape Hatteras and enter into the Gulf Stream. The Anthem has one thing the other class ships don’t...the Solarium is completely enclosed. There are no openings between the roof glass panels that let the wind in (and warmth out!). So sitting in the pools or hot tubs, sipping on a sailaway beverage, in a warm, comfortable area with those huge glass windows looking out onto the windy, icy Hudson River is a treat! Even the enclosed family pool is a nice area...just try to stay away from the doors to the outside pool area, as passengers keep coming in and out.
  14. I haven’t noticed any charging ports...but I never went above the second level.
  15. I’m doing a B2B on the Anthem. Sept 26 to Canada/New England, then Oct 5 to Bermuda...dual season packing😜. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the same cabin. Does anyone have any experience with moving from one cabin to another on a B2B. I’m interested in what’s the best way to make the move. I guess I’ll have to pack everything and then leave the bags in my room for the steward to deliver them to the new room...any tips? Plus, I assume I’ll have to go the guest services on embarkation day to check in and get my new room card...thanks for any info!
  16. I have done this tour on the Anthem. The reserved seating for the excursion is in the second row, center. The third and fourth row center is the reserved seating for the Key. Upon arriving at the theater, you hand your excursion ticket to the cruise staff member standing by row 2. The excursion includes a specialty drink. After the show, you wait until everyone else has left the theater and then you are escorted back stage, behind the curtain. The cast is there and you will have a lot of time to talk with them, ask questions, take photos. Then they will all pose with each passenger for a group photo which they take with your camera/smartphone (in other words...no ship photographer for a fee). As you leave, you get a large photo of the cast signed by all of them. It was a very interesting, pleasant experience but you must decide if it is worth the price to you. Happy cruising!
  17. I have used the stock OBC many times and in the past, any OBC given during booking would be subtracted from the $100 stock benefit. For instance, I received $50 for booking a balcony on a 7 night cruise and the stock benefit was reduced to $50. I have not yet applied for the benefit since the change in June. I’ll find out on my Sept booking when I email my shareholder benefit request form. Investment-wise, I have been happy with the performance of the stock over time. Also...In addition to the OBC benefit, the stock also pays dividends...which some other cruise lines do not. As always with any stock, future performance can not be predicted by past performance and any investment can result in loss of principal. Happy cruising!
  18. I always use the parking garage. The only advice is to arrive early as the traffic lines will back up as the day goes on. The port has a huge amount of employees out directing traffic. They will hold up traffic in order to keep the front of the terminal moving along safely...cars dropping off and cars picking up...pedestrians crossing. After you pull up and drop off your checked bags to the porter, pull around the bend and into the parking garage. A machine will issue a parking ticket and the gate will go up. An attendant will hand you the ticket and tell you where to park. Other attendants will direct you up the ramp. I try to park on the second level (the first available) so that I won’t have to wait in line for the one and only elevator on disembarkation day. It’s quicker for me to walk up one flight (luckily I can carry my bags up). Park and take your keys. MAKE SURE YOU TAKE THE PARKING TICKET WITH YOU! Do NOT leave it in the car. You’ll need it to pay before you go back to your car. On disembarking...after you pass through customs and leave the terminal (to the right) you will see the pay machines right by the entrance to the parking terminal. There will be attendants standing there to help. Some machines only take cash, so make sure you don’t waste time standing in a cash only line if you’re paying with a credit card. The attendant will show you how to put your parking ticket in and then your credit card. The machine will issue you a parking stub which you will need to get out of the lot, and a receipt. Don’t forget your credit card. When you drive down the ramp to the exit, you will need to insert the parking stub into the machine which will raise the barrier. Again, there will be an attendant there to help. Then...you’re on your way! This is probably more specific information than you need...but it pretty much covers all! Enjoy your cruise!
  19. The letter seems to indicate that the 30+ itineraries affected include ships other than the Allure (overall). Due to the Allure being forced to change ports and times, it’s resulting in other ships being bumped in order not to overcrowd the port. That’s good planning!
  20. The vast majority of my cruising is solo and I love it! There is always the opportunity to make new friends and to talk with new and interesting people every day from all parts of the country and even the world. Being on vacation on a cruise ship, people tend to be more open with a great attitude and happy to engage with fellow cruise members whether at a bar, the theater, dinner, on excursions or any other venue. I have learned a lot about cruising and visiting various ports from fellow cruisers and have also shared my experiences with others. Cruising solo does not mean cruising alone. Enjoy your solo cruise and be prepared to love it so much that you will be booking again and again!
  21. Does doing away with the non-combinable restriction mean I won’t lose some of the benefit due to receiving a bonus while booking? In other words, when I book a balcony and receive a $75 bonus, my Shareholder Benefit is reduced to $25. (Total $100). My request for Shareholder Benefit has never been denied...just reduced as indicated above. Applying for it is easy...just print out the request form, fill in the info, and email the form and a copy of your current brokerage account page (black out your account number) showing 100 or more shares of Royal Caribbean stock. Just don’t procrastinate...submit it within the acceptance window. Easy peasy. Also, as mentioned above...Royal Caribbean stock pays dividends. And the cruising industry as a whole does not appear to be slowing down anytime soon. As with all such investments...risk is a factor. Happy cruising!
  22. See my prior post on this thread where I explained everything and how it worked. Also, the other posters have the same info. Happy cruising!
  23. Hello! Update on the Key. Cruised again on the Anthem from Bayonne on April 13th and had The Key. My experience was the same as I posted above. Everyone at the terminal and aboard the ship was aware of the program and there was no confusion or misunderstanding. Everything went as expected. This time, when we arrived back in Bayonne, I took advantage of the Choice Disembarkation. I do the self-walkoff so I had my luggage with me. I chose not to eat breakfast and went directly to the Shore Excursions desk as directed in the letter which was delivered to my cabin the day before. There, I showed my Seapass card with the Key logo to the crew member and took a seat. This is directly across from the disembarkation area. As soon as the ship was cleared, I was directed to scan my card and exit. I was the first one off the ship and breezed through the terminal. For me...well worth it! Happy cruising!
  24. Hi! Just got back yesterday from my Anthem cruise. We sailed from Port Liberty in Bayonne NJ... First...I purchased the Key because it made sense for me. I travel solo so I only had to pay for me. The price was $19.99 per day so considering that I would have purchased the Voom stream package anyway, it was a no-brainer. Upon arriving in Port Liberty...I was directed to a special security line and then the check in kiosk with the Key logo above it. The same security and check in as the upper loyalty levels. After checking in, I was seated in the second row along with the upper loyalty level folks...directly behind the passengers requiring assistance. My trip through the terminal went smooth, as all of the port employees knew about the Key and where to direct me. Upon boarding the ship, i went right to the theater and dropped off my carry-on. I was given a list describing the amenities that come with the Key and a wrist band that identified me as a Key member. Later, when I got to my cabin, I found my bag was stored out of sight in the closet which I thought was a nice touch. On the Anthem, lunch was available in Chops Grille or Jaime Oliver’s. I went to Chops and had a fantastic lunch. There were plenty of empty tables available and the service was typical Chops...perfect. When I received my SeaPass card at my cabin, the Key emblem was on the bottom and I removed my Key wrist band. There was a welcome envelope which contained the schedule with the Key access times for the Rock Climbing Wall, Flow Rider, Northstar and iFly...and my access code for the Voom WiFi. I also received information for disembarkation at Port Canaveral, Coco Cay and Nassau. On day two, I received a complimentary fruit plate in my cabin with a card from the Key program, welcoming me aboard. When I went to the shows (We Will Rock You and The Gift were great!) in the theater...I was directed to reserved Key seating in the third and fourth row center. Excellent seats! Manned by ship personnel to ensure only Key members could sit there. At ten minutes prior to the show, just as the stand by line was admitted, the rows were opened so that any available seats could be filled. In each port...we went to the lower level of the Music Hall and as soon as the ship was cleared by the local authorities, we disembarked. I was late getting to the Music Hall in Port Canaveral. When I got there, I was immediately escorted by a crew member holding up a paddle with the Key emblem on it, past the long line of passengers waiting to disembark, and directly to the security desk at the gangway. On the day before arriving back at Port Liberty, I received an envelope with the Key luggage tags and disembarkation information. This included a sit down breakfast in the MDR and then escort off the ship. After breakfast, we were to go to the Shore Excursion desk which was directly across from the gangway, and then right to the head of the line. I did not take advantage of this perk as I was with others who did not have the Key. We came down early for self walk-off and found ourselves near the head of the line. My conclusions...for me, the purchase of the Key made perfect sense, especially since I needed the WiFi anyway. Being solo, I did not have to pay for more than one as I would have had to do if there were others in my cabin. The VIP treatment at the pier, boarding, carry-on drop off, lunch, theater seating and disembarkation arrangements was very nice and convenient. Although I did not take advantage of the reserved times for the activities, I did see other Key members using them. I was impressed that every employee at Port Liberty...and every ship’s crew member I interacted with...was aware of the Key and the access that came with it. There was no confusion or misunderstanding. All in all it was a very impressive, pleasant and smooth experience and I will definitely do it again. Happy sailings!
  25. I purchased The Key for my cruise on the Anthem out of Cape Liberty NJ on Sunday (March 30, 2019). The price was $19.99 a day and I travel solo so that works very well for me...especially with the Voom WiFi. As far as I can tell, there is nothing on my Set Sail Pass that shows I have purchased The Key so I’ll be sure to bring my email confirmation with me. I’ll definitely report back with my Key experience onboard the Anthem. Happy sailings!
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