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  1. Thanks
    Ken23 got a reaction from Peter2 in In-room speakers/announcements?   
    Or send each announcement to all staterooms on the in room telephone voice mail systems.  This likely could easily be implemented on all ships quickly (IF anyone from RC is reading this.)  To add to this, could also add it to the phone app for people to listen to them in a quiet place.
  2. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in An Amplified Agglomeration of Oasis Pictures - Post Amplification   
    Rather doing yet another trip blog since there have been a couple of really good ones already, I'm just going to do a photo dump in this thread to showcase the newly amplified Oasis of the Seas.
    I've got a couple of weeks of photo ops to gather my collection of pictures so over the next little while I'll update this post with different areas around the ship.  I may bounce around a little but that's just the drink package effect.
    Without further delay, here is the new Oasis of the Seas fresh off a $165M makeover.

  3. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Queenbeecruises in Wish upon a STAR class cruise 11/30/19 - 12/7/19   
    Good morning.  I am a little late o review day 1 because I had a little too much fun Saturday night!  I was chocolatly wasted on Chocolate martinis!  Boy, did I pay the price.  
    Embarkation was so smooth.  We arrived about 10:45 and took us about 15 minutes to find a parking spot.  We found the Star Class banner pretty easily.  We were whisked away inside the lounge while we waited for our luggage to go through security.  Everyone made a bathroom break and then Lisa took us away.  I told her we have been on several Oasis Class ships so no tour was necessary.  She mentioned our room was ready so off we went.  This ROOM is amazing.  If anyone is thinking about securing the Villa, do think...just do it!!  I will post some pictures soon of the Suite.  Once inside the suite Lisa went over our schedule and some ins and outs.  We got all of our phones set up on voom.  

    It was time for lunch at Jamie’s.  This one was a huge surprise.  I am a big fan of Giovanni’s so it had big shoes to fill.  It was quite tasty.  We tried the meat plank, aranaci, Calamari, the garlic bread and shrimp.  Star Class food coma is commencing.  For mains we had the salmon, smaller pasta portions, lasagna, and my dad had chicken.  ALL of it was exceptional.  Somehow we managed to have room for dessert.  So she made us a dessert plank.  We left and most of us took a nap!  

  4. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to betatke1480 in Wish upon a STAR class cruise 11/30/19 - 12/7/19   
    I can't imagine anyone doing this... 😂
  5. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Queenbeecruises in Wish upon a STAR class cruise 11/30/19 - 12/7/19   
    Hey all!!!  So we are officially at 33 days!!!  My family is getting so excited.  We are frantically trying to potty train my daughter, which is giving me some major stress.  She doesn’t understand that she has to be potty trained to go in the kids club!!  But in the end, she is trying really hard. 
    On another note, we ordered the kids some luggage and they arrived last night.  Here is Axel and Emily

  6. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Queenbeecruises in Wish upon a STAR class cruise 11/30/19 - 12/7/19   
    Hi all.  It's Melissa here.  I am going to try and do something that I have always wanted to do...A Live Blog of our Symphony of the Seas cruise.  Let me first introduce myself.  If you watch Below Deck on Bravo then you will understand that I am the primary!  AHHHHHH.  I love being in charge...lol.  Joining me will be my wonderful husband, Axel (6) and Emily (3), my parents, my grandmother, and rounding out my motley crew is my brother.  You can probably tell by the name of my blog that we are a family that loves Disney.  But a close second would be Royal Caribbean.  We will be lavishly living it up in the Villa Suite on November 30, 2019.  I know what you are thinking...why start a blog so early?  I guess I am just too dang excited not to get my thoughts down.  My hope that you all enjoy yourself while reading this, and it may help future cruisers. 
  7. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to SpeedNoodles in Navigator - 911 hits the High Seas (Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2019)   
    . Oops. Error post. Post-dinner-alcohol post. Nothing here to see, folks, move along, now. Don't make me use my dispatcher voice. 
  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to SpeedNoodles in Navigator - 911 hits the High Seas (Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2019)   
    We had a full first day, with my traveling companions being quite impressed with the ship. We managed to hit one trip down the Blaster slide - tons of fun, only a 15-minute wait, and probably only the second water slide I've ever been on in my life #lame. After Muster, we headed straight to the helipad, and waited. And waited. And waited. Apparently one of the ships that was supposed to leave before us had been delayed, and we were 5th in line to go. After watching a few bypass us, it just became too chilly and windy to wait it out (not to mention it was getting dark.  We grabbed a snack from Cafe Promenade, a drink from the pub, and headed up to watch sail away from the protection of our balcony. 

    We had reservations in the MDR for 9:15, so we went down to see if we could get into the ice show. 
    When I mentioned going to the ice show I received a positive, yet lukewarm, response. We sat in The Key section (really nice seats). I'd seen the ice show on Mariner, which I liked, but this one was so much better. Color my friends impressed - they were amazed (and I was so happy that they were having so much fun). 
    Dinner in the MDR was very good. It's fun when you tell a new cruiser that they can have anything they want, and much as they want. While I'm having fun, most of my fun is coming from watching my friends become hooked on cruising. 
    They were beat after dinner, but far be it from me to miss the 70s Disco Inferno Party on the Promenade (really the only time I like that space).  While I'm typically a pretty shy person, all bets are off on a cruise and I have no problems dancing with other passengers and crew, so I had an absolute blast. I had to be obnoxious and had to get my photo taken with the "cop" from the "Village People" for my cohorts. 

  9. Like
    Ken23 reacted to SpeedNoodles in Navigator - 911 hits the High Seas (Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2019)   
    They found us a plane! We will be boarding soon. Not really too bad of a wait. It took me less than 5 minutes from curb to the end of security, and the TSA agent was keen on my shirt. 

  10. Like
    Ken23 reacted to SpeedNoodles in Navigator - 911 hits the High Seas (Dec 2 - Dec 6, 2019)   
    Ok, my attempt at blogging my Ovation cruise was a colossal failure (I'm just going to blame the bad internet connection, because why not?), but I'm going to give it another crack.  Not that there haven't been a thousand Navigator blogs.  I'll do my best to attempt to make it remotely interesting.
    This time I will not be sailing with Mr. SpeedNoodles - instead I will be sailing with a coworker and a retired coworker - two of my bestest buds. We are (and/or were) 911 Police/Fire/EMT dispatchers from the cold, snowy state of Minnesota.   My retired compadre (Kris) has been on one cruise previously (7 nights to the Western Caribbean on Rhapsody, last Feb) and my other friend (Tiffany) has never been on a cruise. Ever.  Her biggest fear is getting seasick, but she's pretty excited about it nonetheless. It will also be her first time away from her two little girls, so she'll probably have mixed feelings.
    I work overnights (aka "dog shift"), so I left work at 7am this morning, after working through a snowstorm, during which I brushed the snow off of my little car no less than 3 times throughout the night. I was burned years ago when I didn't check on my Chevy Equinox overnight during a storm and I couldn't find my car for over 24 hours.  The driver's side mirror was all that anyone could find the next day. I'm not retiring in Minnesota, if anyone is keeping track.

    So as of this morning at 7am, I'm officially ON VACATION!!!!!  So excited.  We will be celebrating not only  just time hanging out together but the birthdays of my two partners in crime, and my recent promotion to Floor Supervisor at work (which won't actually go into effect until April, but who's counting).  We are all #TeamDX.  As a birthday gift to my friends and to spoil them a bit I purchased The Key at an acceptable price.  We booked a corner aft balcony (under the Windjammer, but I don't anticipate a great deal of grief with this location) - huge balcony and I'm not sure I'll ever get Tiff out of one of those lounge chairs back there.  She says she's just planning to sleep there. Time will tell.
    In Nassau we will be going to the British Colonial Hilton for a beach day (I don't do "sit around on the beach" well, but they say the use of their kayaks, etc, is included, so I'll keep busy) and spending a little time exploring the port, which I didn't do when I was there last Feb.  At Coco Cay we have an Oasis Lagoon Cabana booked (I found it at the awesome price of $319, and harassed them into doing it - I'm not sure I'll ever again find such a deal!), and Tiff and I have reservations for the helium balloon, but we'll see if weather cooperates.   #highwindsfollowmeeverywhere    My friends have both had a great deal of stress over the last few years, and they are looking forward to relaxing, so whatever they want to do goes.
    So I have 3 days to try to stop thinking about work, try to settle into vacation mode, and pack! Our flight leaves on Sunday morning, and we will be staying at the Kimpton Epic Hotel in Miami, very close to the Intercontinental (great deal obtained through HotWire).
    More to come soon! (Seriously, I promise).
  11. Like
    Ken23 reacted to NJCruisers in NJCruisers Freedom of the Seas Nov 17th Recap   
    So here's the wrap up of my recap...
    Finding the Royal Caribbean Blog was a Godsend!  I could go on and on but if you’re already here you know how great of a community this is.  I have to admit that I did go over to the dark side several times (CC). I found some useful information on the ports I was visiting.  
    I saw some really terrible reviews of Freedom and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of them.  One of the most critical things I read over and over again was that sailing from PR meant I was going to encounter very rude people.  I won’t say we didn’t, but honestly the few that we did encounter weren’t all from PR.  I’ve seen worse behavior at Disney World.  I think there were 2 quinceanera’s being celebrated on board, and we only noticed them on the formal nights because of the beautiful dresses.  Yes, the young girls were all over the place posing for photos, but they weren’t rude at all. Heck I was all over the place taking photos of the ship myself! 
    I also want to mention there was a Salsa Group on board.  They were a very large group.  I noticed signs on some of the doors leading to our room right away and thought uh oh, this could get noisy.  I have to say, they were having such a great time.  They had some private events and yes certain lounges were very crowded but there was so much to do on board that we never felt cheated.  They ranged in all ages and were very friendly.  We chatted with some of them here and there throughout the cruise. 
    Yes, Freedom is showing her age a bit & I knew going in she was scheduled for dry dock afterwards. We were in cabin #7400 and the hallway carpet was very badly stained.  Not stains here and there, just really long dark spots from people constantly walking on them.  It did not smell, only one night walking back to our room there was a strong chlorine smell along the hallway but it wasn’t near our room. No idea what that was about.
    The room decor was outdated, the coral and teal colors scream the 1990’s to me. Otherwise everything else in the room was great, even the bathroom.  Plenty of storage space. Our room was at the very end of the ship and it was very quiet.  We never heard any of our neighbors.
    Our room attendant was great.  I swear he was a ninja.  We really only saw him 2-3 times but our room was perfect and he took excellent care of us. We saw 2 other attendants in the hallway every day and they were both very friendly.
    I ended up getting the Voom package for 1 device & we shared it.  It was $77 total. Even though our kids are technically adults, my mom is elderly and I wanted to make sure we could get in touch with each other if needed.  It was nice to be able to share photos with them using the WhatsApp.  My mom loves Instagram so I would add photos to my story at least once a day and she really enjoyed that.  We did not use it to stream anything but we never had any problems with it. Totally worth it IMO.
    Ultimate Drink Package - Always a debate!  I booked it for $47 pp during last year’s Black Friday sale.  I figured I had plenty of time to cancel it and I honestly went back and forth for a while.  In the end I kept it and I’m glad.  With gratuity it was $776 making it approximately $55 per day, pp. I didn’t keep track of everything we drank, that wouldn’t have been much fun.  I can say this: When we had breakfast in the MDR we took advantage of the fresh squeezed juice.  Several mornings we had specialty iced coffees. Every time (not day, each time) we left the ship we each took 1 vitamin and 1 regular water to bring with us.  Every night at dinner I had 2-3 glasses of wine and hubby had 2 drinks (perfect Manhattan’s which are pricey at home too).  During the day when we were on the ship I enjoyed plenty different frozen drinks - I alternated with virgin versions here and there.  Most days hubby stuck to beer in the afternoons and switched to Bourbon after dinner. I think I had maybe 2-3 soda’s during the week but not in the souvenir cups.  We never used those. We enjoyed going to the different lounges and trying different drinks.  Yes I know we can get any drink pretty much anywhere as long as the bartender has the ingredients, but it was fun bar hopping.  There were a few drinks I didn’t like and some that I tried that I might not have if it wasn’t already paid for.  Ending the night with a cordial was also a nice treat. I’d say we took at least a dozen bottles of water back to the room during the week as well. I like to think we did get our money’s worth, but we were totally happy with it so that’s that. 
    MDR - I also went back and forth with trying specialty dining.  With the exception of our one dinner in Aruba we ate there every night.  My theory was that we had fabulous steak houses and Italian restaurants at home, there was bound to be something we would enjoy on the menu.  In hindsight, I wish I had checked the menu on our Bonaire day.  I ended up getting the steak again which was delicious, but honestly this girl was missing her macaroni!  That probably would have been a good night to splurge and go to the Italian place.  Oh well, now I know.  I truly enjoyed being served every night and the waitstaff was just great.  
    Windjammer - I know everyone loves this place, heck we enjoyed it last cruise too but I just didn’t enjoy it this trip.  The 2 times we went it was jam packed and when we went for lunch the options were either something really heavy or salad.  I don’t enjoy pre-cooked burgers so that wasn’t an option for me.  I’m sure if you are a picky eater or don’t want to go to the MDR it’s probably just fine for dinner as there are so many options.
    Sorrento’s - I can’t believe I’m saying this either, but the pizza wasn’t terrible.  Dare I say we kinda liked it!  When hubby saw the pizza sign his eyes lit up and I told him don’t get excited, it probably sucks.  He works in Brooklyn so he eats great pizza for lunch AT LEAST once a week.  This place became our guilty pleasure.  Several nights I brought some back to the Bull & Bear.  We liked the veggie pizza the best but the cheese wasn’t bad either.  
    Sabor - we only went here for the Guacamole class but we thought the food was fantastic.  We would gladly have a meal here again if given the chance.
    The Promenade - depending on what they were selling sometimes it became quite crowded.  What’s the deal with watches?  It seemed like they were constantly selling them! I’m totally not a watch person so I didn’t pay too much attention.  People seemed to be going crazy for the t-shirt sales too, none of them really appealed to me all that much though.  I originally planned to get a Freedom of the Seas Spirit Jersey, but I didn’t like that the front was completely blank.  I thought it should have an anchor or at least the RC logo in the upper left chest or something.  I ended up with a super comfy hoodie instead. Also, I thought that balloon party was crazy. All the popped balloons all over the place, this from a company that doesn’t allow plastic straws? Weird.
    Spacious Ocean View Room -  I thought it was great.  The window was very big and we didn’t miss having a balcony.  I would much rather use the money saved towards other things, such as the drink package or excursions.  Also, we had to factor in the flight to PR. We could have afforded one, but I chose book this instead.  We did agree that we could never do an interior room and probably wouldn’t want one overlooking the Promenade, just not our style. 
    My “Something New Every Day” was just for me and just for fun.  
    Pre Cruise PR:  Mofongo - loved it
    Cruise Day: Escargot - hated them
    At Sea: Souffle - not a fan
    Aruba: Rode a motorcycle - loved it
    Curacao: Walked on a floating bridge - very cool
    Bonaire: Rode on a Catamaran & got to see a sea turtle while snorkeling - awesome
    At Sea: Baked Alaska - loved it
    St. Thomas: Conch Fritters - delicious
    I’m pretty sure I covered everything.  I know I’ve said it several times but we absolutely loved this cruise. Although I don’t see us cruising every year, we definitely plan to go on another one in (hopefully) the next 2-3 years.  
    Freedom didn’t have many reviews when I was looking so that’s the main reason I decided to write this.  Also, I’m going to print it and keep it so I can look back on it some day.  
    Thanks for reading and if you have any questions feel free to ask.  

  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Mulligan in Royal Caribbean Newbie   
    So after 20+ cruises on Carnival my wife and I go on our first Royal cruise this weekend.  Doing Harmony and from what I have seen via videos and read on this site I believe Royal will most likely be out carrier of choice going forward.  It will be interesting having a gold card vs our normal platinum but I guess we have to start somewhere.  I also want to shout out to Matt as this is a fabulous site with a tremendous group of people who share their knowledge freely and willingly.  
  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to WAAAYTOOO in Thanksgiving Side to Side: Brilliance to Oasis   
    Update on the noise issue.
    The noise had become so obnoxious that I finally felt compelled to contact Joyce, our Genie, and complain.  It was non-stop all day, every day.  If it wasn’t the band, it was the DJ or some incessant babbling from a contest or whatever.  I asked that we be allowed to speak with the Hotel Director.
    So now we have another example of how a Genie really can make things happen. Within minutes, Joyce was here and personally witnessed the unacceptable noise coming from the band and pool deck.  She had the Cruise Director on the phone and they both agreed that the noise level was unacceptable.  Since the Cruise Director (Bobby Brown, in this case) “owns” the entertainment venues, he was the one to affect the problem.  He walked all the way from the Flow Rider area up to the pool children’s splash zone area (while on the phone with Joyce)  to see if they could determine which speakers were the culprits. As we had suspected, it was the ones by the new Lime&Coconut bar.  He adjusted them somehow and BOOM - problem solved !
    Joyce said that if the problem resumes, just let her know immediately.  We will drop the request to speak to the HD unless the problem resumes.
    Yes, you can still faintly hear the music (most notably the bass), but this is a cruise ship !  There’s going to be music.  It’s no worse (now) than it is in the ATS.  I’m satisfied.  
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in SOLOasis redubbed YOLOasis Thanksgiving of the Seas Nov24, 2019 - Dec1, 2019   
    Again..thanks for following along and keeping me going with your feedback!  
    Up next is the Royal Caribbean Blog Freedom Group Cruise.

    I will NOT be blogging this one for my sake and to protect the anonymity of all parties involved.
  15. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in SOLOasis redubbed YOLOasis Thanksgiving of the Seas Nov24, 2019 - Dec1, 2019   
    Oasis is NOT a new ship.  She has been spruced up but it's still like buying a used car from the new car dealership.  They've cleaned her up real nice, but the old body is still there.  It doesn't detract from my overall experience at all, but it didn't feel as modern everywhere as Symphony did.  However, having been on all four Oasis class ships now this one comes in 2nd place for me.  Symphony is still my number 1.  She was my first, and you always remember your first.  But the AMPlification was executed pretty well overall.  They integrated some new technhology into the ship which was nice.  I've never gotten so much use out of a WOW band before this cruise.  
    As for sailing without the drink package, I found it really easy on this sailing to get by without the drink package.  I wasn't with a raucous group of cruisers calling for shots hourly.  I don't sit in the sun or really drink fruity drinks.  I was fine with waiting until 4:30 when the Diamond Lounge opened to have a couple of drinks.  If I wouldn't have had the free drinks, I likely would have used the high drink prices as an excuse to not drink at all.  Having the 3 Diamond drinks on my card, the Diamond BOGO deal, and access to the Diamond Lounge is the perfect combination for me when I'm not on a social cruise.  I don't dare go on a RCL Blog group cruise without a package, though.  I know how that will end up!  😂
  16. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in SOLOasis redubbed YOLOasis Thanksgiving of the Seas Nov24, 2019 - Dec1, 2019   
    I left off at Playmakers where I gave up on my team making any sort of an effort on a comeback and also gave up on finishing the wings.  For anyone who typically orders on the spicier end of the spectrum, the Major League wings had a nice little burn to them.  Huge improvement in the buffalo sauces there than what they consider "buffalo" sauce on the room service wings.  Buffalo sauce should not ever be anything other than spicy and vinegary.  It should never be sweet.  Not an opinion, but a FACT.  But the wings were very good and came out very hot.  Because they are breaded they tend to get soggy as they cool off.  Star Class goals is unbreaded wings.  I have made a note of it.
    I wandered off to get my packing done.  I conveniently told my mother to just pack the laundry she had slipped into her free Diamond bag so I didn't have to wake her to get it back.  My carryon size suitcase was bursting at the seams already, so it was the least she could do.  I congratulated myself as I packed as I had nearly worn everything that I brought with me.  I had to stick to a carryon because my flight to the cruise was booked on a fare that didn't include free luggage.  They gate checked it for free anyways, though.  Suckers.
    I went to the late night comedy show where it was funny but it was also the same typical make fun of cruise ship passengers and crew jokes that are at most of these.  If you don't cruise all the time, it will be absolutely hilarious.  The best parts are when they pick on folks in the first few rows.  If you sit in a front row at a comedy show, you are just asking for it.  I visited the casino after that hoping my friend ROOM CHARGE was back and available on the slot machines, but alas no such luck.  My favorite slot, the Redemption Machine, was out of order anyways.  I decided to spend my allocated gambling budget to see how many Casino Royale points I could earn from $100 but I chickened out when I was up $90 and left ahead.  I was never down more than $25 and ended cashing out at $190 and earned 22 points.
    I came home with a little bit more cash than I had charged to my onboard account, so all my additional dining tips were covered by the OBC I received from my TA and Royal and my gambling winnings.  So thanks for all the Delta points for this sailing, Royal Caribbean!  
  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Noonstar in Quantum of the Seas Singapore   
    I am on board! My genie, Eva is super efficient and she is Great.

  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to NJCruisers in NJCruisers Freedom of the Seas Nov 17th Recap   
    Saturday - Nov 23rd - St. Thomas
    After I first booked this cruise I became obsessed with watching YouTube videos that featured Freedom of the Seas,  which led me to Griff and Alyssa’s channel. I loved the tour they took on St. Thomas with Sunfari but the only thing hubby asked for all trip was to take a taxi to Coki Beach.  
    About 2 weeks before we sailed someone told him Coki wasn’t like it was 10 years ago so maybe we should do something else instead. I immediately reached out to Sunfari Jeep Tours to see if they had anything available.  I’m a crazy planner and I thought their website was a bit vague but I reached out anyway because of the videos I had watched.  
    They replied back to me that night letting me know they had availability for the All Day Beach and Jeep excursion. We emailed back and forth a bit but hubby was surprised when all I could tell him was that I wasn’t really sure what exactly we would be doing but it looked like it would be a fun day…. What an understatement, we had an AMAZING DAY.
    We met outside of Tickles Dockside Pub right outside of where the ship docks around 9am.  We found it easily & were greeted by Lolly from Sunfari. We were the ONLY ONES. We were getting a private guide for the entire day, how cool was that?  
    We chatted a bit about what we wanted to do and we told her basically we were looking to visit a few beaches, feed some fish, and eat a local meal, anything else we were open to suggestions.  
    Since we mentioned Coki we started there even though it was rougher than usual because of the storm out at sea. We chatted the whole way there and before we knew it we were there. 
    It was beautiful and brought back great memories. It wasn’t as calm as it was and we weren’t able to feed the fish like we had the last time, but we did see a bunch of them and enjoyed playing in the surf.  Lolly stayed on the beach taking random pics and would check on us. 
    Next stop was Sapphire Beach. Since she has a working relationship with local businesses she was able to take us to a private resort where we enjoyed snorkeling and feeding the fish.  I had an unforgettable moment when a decent sized fish got caught up in the ruffle in the top of my bathing suit and almost ended up inside it! We stayed here much longer, it was so much fun.
    Our next stop was her favorite beach, Secret Harbour, again located at a resort.  This was our last beach of the day and we really enjoyed it, especially knowing it was our last beach day. 
    Once we had our fill, we were able to use the outdoor shower and change out of our bathing suits and get cleaned up some more in the rest rooms. 
    She took us to enjoy the views by a place called Prime at Paradise Point.  We were able to enjoy such an amazing view with no one else around.  She also knew hubby was a beer fan, so we stopped at Rock City Brewing.  
    By this time we were hungry and she had already told us earlier she knew exactly where she wanted to take us for lunch.  When she said Jen’s Deli hubby wasn’t all that excited. I told him she hadn’t disappointed us yet and that I’m sure it’s nothing like the deli’s we have back home.  
    Boy were we in for a treat!  By this time Lolly had already proclaimed me a “sister from another mister” so I was surprised when she asked if it was okay if she sat with us.  I told her there was no way she wasn’t sitting with us, that was crazy talk!  We walked in and were immediately treated like family.  Jen couldn’t have been more hospitable.  We could have easily stayed there for hours eating, drinking and chatting with them.  
    While I drank a rum bucket and hubby enjoyed the local brews, we were also treated to homemade Coquito. I wish she was able to ship it home because I would have placed an order in a heartbeat.  Hubby enjoyed an oxtail meal and since I couldn’t decide on what I wanted, I had 2 appetizers instead - I chose the house specialty of Conch Fritters and also Coconut Shrimp. I almost licked the plates, everything was DELICIOUS.  Homemade, local cooking at it's best. I can’t say enough good things about this place and Jen herself.  You know you had a good time when there are hugs all around when you are leaving! 
    Lolly wanted to take us to a place she called Mountain Top, it had even more great views and a souvenir shop (I had told her I wanted to hit at least one and she insisted this was THE place to go).  If I hadn’t had a rum bucket I may have enjoyed one of their world-famous banana daiquiris but I was just too full.
    I didn’t mention it earlier, but driving around in that Jeep was so much fun.  We went up and down lots of hills and it was a great way to travel.  Also, David Geffen’s Yacht, The Rising Sun is kind of a big deal there, and we were able to see it several times.  I googled it once we were back home, it only cost him about 300 million.  Now I know why she insisted I take some photos - holy smokes!!!
    Our time to be back on the ship was 5pm but I like to get there about an hour before so around 4pm Lolly dropped us back off right at the ship.  We did the Italian goodbye where it took us about a good 30 minutes to actually say goodbye, lol.  You know how you just kind of click with someone?  We had an absolute blast and St. Thomas ended up being one of our best days.
    Our last dinner was scheduled for 5:45 but we didn’t get there until after 6.  Luckily we were still seated in the same section.  Wouldn’t you know it, coconut shrimp were finally on the menu!  I knew there was no way they could be better then Jen’s so I went with a Caesar salad and hubby had the shrimp cocktail.  Dinner was prime rib for me and he went with fish and chips.  Both delicious.  I finished up with creme brulee and he had the royal cheese cake.  
    I’m still mad at myself for the next part.  We arrived at 80’s trivia as they were playing the first song.  I didn’t realize we could have still gone up and grabbed a paper.  We knew all 20, the team that won only knew 19.  We didn’t go home with medals, but I know in my heart we won, lol. 
    After that we attended Once Upon a Time, all in all I thought it was a good show.  There are definitely some numbers I would cut but I enjoyed it and hubby tolerated it.  We followed that up with Battle of the Sexes and went back to the Bull and the Bear for one last night.  
    Since we aren’t experienced cruisers this is where we hit a snafu.  We had the San Juan on your own with airport drop off scheduled the next morning. We weren’t sure what to do with our luggage.  In hindsight I should have double checked this earlier.  It was now after midnight, housekeeping was done for the night and the line for guest services was a mile long.  Long story short, our luggage was put out around 2am. 

  19. Like
    Ken23 reacted to NJCruisers in NJCruisers Freedom of the Seas Nov 17th Recap   
    Tuesday - Nov 19th - Aruba
    We started the day with a simple continental breakfast.  I really just wanted to save us the trip of having to go out and get coffee.  I ordered hubby his usual oatmeal and I had a muffin. 
    This was one of our longest days in port and we took full advantage of it.  I booked a tour with Trikes Aruba and we absolutely loved it.  We were picked up at the port with another couple from the ship, we drove to a hotel to pick up a small group and we all headed over to pick up the Trikes.  Once there, payments were taken, waivers were signed, we were given a simple demo, test drive and we hit the road.  You do not need a motorcycle license to drive them.
    We drove all over the island, and it was so much fun.  I can’t wait to watch my Go Pro videos.  We went to the lighthouse, drank straight out of coconuts and once finished they sliced it in half so you could eat the fresh coconut.  There was a pretty cool bird hanging out there as well.  The next stop was the Church which was peaceful as there weren’t many people there.  
    After that we went to the Casibari Rock Formation.  We were given more time here to climb up the rock, have lunch if you wanted and shop.  We opted to climb the rock.  
    The last stop wasn’t really much but it makes a nice picture, it was in front of the Aruba sign. It was cool to drive all over the island and see the different landscapes, from the cactus plants to the beach, to the local housing areas as well as the tourist spots.  Our tour guide was a really nice guy, told us some stories and a little bit about each stop.  If you are looking for a full blown historical tour, this isn’t it.  It was perfect for us though.  
    After the tour was over I asked our driver if he recommended a certain taxi or had a friend that could take us to Surfside Beach. He offered to take us there himself however we didn’t bring any of our beach stuff with us so we had to go back to the ship.  We went to the Windjammer to have a small lunch and each had a salad.  It was surprisingly packed for a port day and we were unimpressed. We grabbed a taxi right by the ship and off we went.
    I’ve been to Eagle Beach once before, and although it’s beautiful, that wasn’t what we were going for this trip.  We wanted smaller and local and that’s why I had decided on Surfside Beach.  I had also started following 2 of their beach bars on Facebook for some time so the decision was made to hang out at Surfside Beach Bar for the rest of the afternoon.  The cost for 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella was $15.  There were less than a dozen people there.  It was cool watching the planes land, but it wasn’t obnoxious.  I think we saw maybe 2 an hour. The water was calm and we could see our ship in the distance the whole time which was kinda cool.  Hubby ordered a bucket of beers, I don’t recall the price but he said it was cheap.  I only had one drink as I mainly stayed in the calm waters all afternoon.
    Pre-cruise I had been going back and forth with returning to the ship for dinner or going to a restaurant called Barefoot Aruba which was less than a 5 minute walk on the beach from where we would be.  I made a reservation for 6:15 and I’m SO GLAD I did.  
    There was an outdoor shower at the beach bar and we freshened up in the bathrooms which was quite comical.  We walked down the beach and were blown away.  It was even more beautiful with the sun starting to set.  My pictures don’t even do it justice.  After asking our waitress if she could take our picture, she not only took them at our table, but had us stand up with the beach behind us and took even more.  
    For appetizers we ordered Goat Cheese Medallions (served on roasted bell peppers, with red onion chutney, served with pine nuts and balsamic syrup), Prosciutto & Melon (served with arugula, pine nuts and a pepper reduction). Hubby also ordered a Greek salad.  The goat cheese dish was delicious but the show stopper was the Prosciutto & Melon.  I’ve mentioned I’m from NY and I’m used to getting excellent Italian food.  This was BY FAR the best prosciutto I’ve ever had in my life & the sauce was to die for. We were honestly shocked, we couldn’t believe how delicious it was.  We savored it to the last bite.  Hubby ate about half the salad but I didn’t have any.  

    For dinner he ordered the Snapper Amsterdam which had a crust of Old Amsterdam cheese, zucchini, breadcrumbs with a white wine sauce. I had the Caribbean Grouper which was grilled and topped with a mango cream cheese.  I ordered the mango sauce on the side and I’m glad I did because I mixed it in with my rice. I didn’t think to take pics but again, it was absolutely amazing. Hubby kept saying good call, good call, I’m so glad you didn’t cancel this reservation.  It was hands down one of the best meals we’ve EVER had.  We both agreed this would probably ruin the rest of the dinners we were going to have on the cruise, lol.  I forgot to mention I drank my usual moscato and hubby had a bourbon drink. Even though we were full we decided to end the evening splitting a classic sorbet which was served with fresh fruit and strawberry syrup. 
    The restaurant arranged for a taxi back that was allowed to go all the way down near the ship.  We grabbed a night cap at the R bar and headed to bed.  
    The heck with Coco Cay, THIS was the perfect day 😍


  20. Love
    Ken23 reacted to WAAAYTOOO in Thanksgiving Side to Side: Brilliance to Oasis   
    People often ask what the Genie can do for you and the answers are usually pretty much the same - reservations and personal seating being the norm.  I thought of something while Dan and  I were having dinner at Giovannis tonite. We out outside. The weather was so amazing. We were marveling at how mature and lush the Central Park garden has become. We then began to recall a special event that we had on our second SC cruise and I thought I would mention it to everyone. 
    Those of you who have been reading my blogs for a while will probably be hearing this for a second time. If so, I apologize. 
    A couple of years ago we were in an ATS on Harmony. We somehow managed to sail in between hurricanes. There had been cancellations and rerouting everywhere the weeks prior but we managed to get ours in just before another one popped up. As a result of all of the standing water from the storms there was a horrific mosquito problem on board. We could not even go out on our balcony without being attacked. It was really bad.  Of course, we called our Genie (Reyno) and he had the pest control guy come up to help us out.
    We laughed when he showed up at the door with a spray can. There were literally millions of mosquitoes everywhere.  To paraphrase the famous line from Jaws “Dude, you’re going to need a bigger can”.  He immediately saw that his can was not up to the task and later we got a technician with a pump sprayer which took care of the problem easily. 
    Well, it turned out that the guy who had shown up with the spray can in the beginning was Laszlo ( I used to remember his last name but it has escaped me for the moment), the head Botanist for Royal Caribbean and the creator and godfather of the Central Park gardens. He has personally designed and implemented every Central Park garden since Oasis.  It seems that the “side job” of the ship’s botanist is that of pest control which is how we got him up at our suite in the first place !   
    Later in the day, Reyno asked us if we would like to have a personal tour of the CP garden with Laszlo.  To be completely honest, at first I thought that might be a little lame but boy was I wrong. It was one of the most enjoyable tours I’ve ever taken. Laszlo LOVES his job and he loves to share his passion. He spent a very long time with us and told us so many little secrets about the plants, the challenges of having a live garden on board a cruise ship, how the plants are watered, why certain plants are chosen, etc. It was fascinating.  
    So, the point of this whole story is to let you know that with Star Class, such personalized tours are extremely possible. I’m sure Laszlo is probably on Symphony since that’s the latest O class deployment but there is certainly someone of Laszlo’s equivalent on every O class ship.  I know that they offer garden tours from time-to-time on the different O class ships but they generally will not be to the level that you will get with a private tour and your Genie can make that happen 

  21. Love
    Ken23 reacted to Sweety in Thanksgiving Side to Side: Brilliance to Oasis   
    When we are in Falmouth, my family visits. I get a chance to see nieces, nephews and cousins. The young people like coming to see me. TeTe always have something from the States to give them. 
  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to WAAAYTOOO in Thanksgiving Side to Side: Brilliance to Oasis   
    Just to prove that we DO leave our fortress from time-to-time, I managed to get some shots of the newly decorated Promenade. 


  23. Like
    Ken23 reacted to WAAAYTOOO in Thanksgiving Side to Side: Brilliance to Oasis   
    However, on a positive note, we just got back from seeing Phoenix, and I cannot say enough GOOD things about that show. They were really good.  I would go back and see them again in a minute.  I am not as impressed with the Music Hall on Oasis as I was with the one on Anthem, but they did the best they could with the space they had.  It’s a sight more useful now than it was as Dazzles.
    Also, a huge bit of news, Dan and I finally met the Twangbot.  He seemed very real.  Almost human-like.  A very advanced bot, indeed.  He sat with us at the concert.  It was quite an honor for us.😁😍
  24. Like
    Ken23 reacted to IRMO12HD in Cruising for a Cause – Full Ship Charter, High Seas Rally (Brilliance of the Seas)   
    Day 1 - Embarkation (cont,
    Enjoyed a sailaway party zs we pulled out of Port Tampa with a beautiful sunset just beginning to show a hint of its colors.
    Ate in the MDR with friends, two of whom are HSR 'Virgins;' -- it's their first High Seas Rally, so they get to wear orange wristbands. Although it may sound like a stigma, it's really not -- it's kind of a license to make mistakes;-)
    We had the first HSR Giveaway show of the cruise. Remember that fundraising aspect?  The first 50/50 drawing was worth $10,420.00!!  Between that and the other raffles going on that first Day, over $16,000.00 was raised for dialysis -- in just ONE day!
  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to IRMO12HD in Cruising for a Cause – Full Ship Charter, High Seas Rally (Brilliance of the Seas)   
    “Formal” = leather

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