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Ken23

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  1. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Cez in Have to drive to Cape Liberty?   
    Thank you Ken !
    This is very useful info !
  2. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from FoxboroCruiser in Have to drive to Cape Liberty?   
    @Cez you might want to check out the Plugshare app or website. 
    If you do not mind parking away from the port, but close by, there are a few options around Newark Airport.  At one of the Hilton's by the airport, they have a few electrical outlets in their garage, and you can usually find online coupons for parking way under $10 per day.  And just take a 15-20 minute Uber to the port.  I have parked there for airport trip, and the place seems safe (but did not try and charge).
    Another possible option, if you want to park at the port, and are not in a huge rush after your cruise (and your car won't totally drain the battery during your cruise) is to go to the Liberty Science Center museum after your cruise.  This is a great stop if you have kids, to visit.  They have a bunch (maybe 12) free L2 J-1772's, but do have to pay for parking when there.  This is a great place for kids.
    If you drive a Tesla, there are a couple of Superchargers close to Cape Liberty.  There are two in Jersey City (one at a mall) about 9 miles north from the port.  As well as another Supercharger in Kearny, about 12 miles NW.
  3. Thanks
    Ken23 got a reaction from Cez in Have to drive to Cape Liberty?   
    @Cez you might want to check out the Plugshare app or website. 
    If you do not mind parking away from the port, but close by, there are a few options around Newark Airport.  At one of the Hilton's by the airport, they have a few electrical outlets in their garage, and you can usually find online coupons for parking way under $10 per day.  And just take a 15-20 minute Uber to the port.  I have parked there for airport trip, and the place seems safe (but did not try and charge).
    Another possible option, if you want to park at the port, and are not in a huge rush after your cruise (and your car won't totally drain the battery during your cruise) is to go to the Liberty Science Center museum after your cruise.  This is a great stop if you have kids, to visit.  They have a bunch (maybe 12) free L2 J-1772's, but do have to pay for parking when there.  This is a great place for kids.
    If you drive a Tesla, there are a couple of Superchargers close to Cape Liberty.  There are two in Jersey City (one at a mall) about 9 miles north from the port.  As well as another Supercharger in Kearny, about 12 miles NW.
  4. Like
    Ken23 reacted to mom2mybugs in Europe Here We Come! Vision of the Seas July 29,2019: 12 day Mediterranean/Greek Isles   
    Ok... While I wait the 20 mins for the teenager to make curfew I can update the day!!   We didn't get our luggage until after muster drill and sailaway so we couldn't really unpack.  Here are some pics:


    We did my time dining... The food was really pretty good... Best prime rib in a while!  I forgot to take pics until Madison reminded me I was the worst blogger ever... So I took dessert pics!  I even forgot to snap the menu!


    After dinner we came back and I unpacked.  It is incredible how much for we have!  We definitely could stay in this room with more kids.  Then we headed to the headline show.  It was a shadow show where they did hand s
    hadow shapes on the screen.  I didn't take my camera out early enough... It was actually really good, hokey as it sounds!  I missed pics of the animals but here are some singers!


    I can't remember all of them, but it was fun.  The people who come in late, walk down the middle aisles talk during the show, and basically are rude as heck just kill me!  Visions rows at least have tons of leg room so you can let all these people in and out several times!!  Argh.. 
    After the show we hit cafe latte-tudes and then schooner for the amaretto for the ☕ and then to bed.  
    Update on the teenager... She made it back 1 minute late and apparently meet a group of 7 high school girls who all speak English.  She is very happy and meeting everyone at 10 tomorrow after everyone's formal night!  Huge load off my mind.
       Tomorrow is Cannes.  The plan is to sleep in, eat, take the tender after the initial rush is all over, shop and then hit the public beach.  Looking forward to a very laid back day because many of our other excursions start before 7am!!
       Oh... And I forgot to ask for my robe!  Gotta do that tomorrow...I mean today!  Jane
  5. Like
    Ken23 reacted to mom2mybugs in Europe Here We Come! Vision of the Seas July 29,2019: 12 day Mediterranean/Greek Isles   
    Nope... We didn't hang in the schooner bar tonight!!   For @JLMoran and anyone keeping track, the drink count....hmmmm....I might have lost count.  Miami vice (that should have been a lava flow), insanely strong Bahama Mama, blue Hawaiian, at Germaine and champagne, 2 glasses of wine and 2 shots of amaretto.  Whoever (and I'm so sorry I can't remember) suggested white mocha coffee and adding amaretto... Amazing!!! So good.  Anyway team drink pkg made out today for sure.  In other news, on allure in March and majesty in June, a glass of Oberon Cabernet was 15.  It is $18/glass on this ship.  Crazy ridiculous :(. I will miss it!!!  Jane
     
  6. Like
    Ken23 reacted to FManke in Europe Here We Come! Vision of the Seas July 29,2019: 12 day Mediterranean/Greek Isles   
    Let's be honest....we all are! 
  7. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from jenna lee in Anthem of the seas 2020   
    @jenna lee, if you and your boyfriend would like to try something unique, and are a bit active (and a water sport), I highly recommend the America's Cup Racing Experience.  They have a bunch of real (retired) America's Cup racing yachts that they do a mock race, with guests like yourself helping crew the actual boats.  Real fun (and can be a bit of a workout depend on which station you are assigned).  I have done it twice now, including a few weeks ago, and had a great time (and the boat I helped crew won our race).
    I booked through Royal on the cruise planner, but I believe you can also book directly with them
  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    I've been getting a number of questions about how I shot the Milky Way photos.
    I shot this using a full frame Sony A7III with a Sony 12-24mm lens.   A crop sensor body that most people shoot wouldn't be able to get this wide.  The A7III also has really good low light performance, night and day from my last full frame body, a Nikon D750.
    Also keep in mind I have a pretty good investment in gear.  Body and lens for this shot are ~ $3,700.  Not trying to brag but let's keep expectations real.  A <$1k kit can shoot the Milky Way and produce some nice results but maybe not achieve the same results.
    Camera settings shown at the top, Lightroom adjustments below that.

    Using Adobe Lightroom I added a lot of clarity and adjusted other light levels and white balance.  This is why I shoot in RAW.  There is a lot of data captured in a RAW file that can be manipulated using software such as Lightroom.  Shooting in JPEG would lose all this extra data and you would never be able to achieve these results.  This is how JPEG produces a lower file size, it throws away all the extra sensor data it doesn't need for a JPEG picture.  A RAW file is much bigger because it contains all the raw sensor data that was captured.
    Original picture as it was captured on the left, final picture on the right after adjustments in Lightroom.

    The one on the left is closer to what you see with the human eye.  Between the two brightest stars you can sort of see a cloud like area with the human eye that is the center or heart of the Milky Way.
    Keep in mind I've been shooting the Milky Way for several years now so I've got some previous experience on land with a firm tripod.  On land you have more control and can take longer exposures, up to around 25 seconds for this focal length.  That allows you to lower ISO or make other adjustments for better results.  I wanted to keep the exposure shorter because of the ship's movement.
    I use an app called PlanIt Pro.  It has an AR feature where you can hold up your phone, adjust the time or date and it will show you where the Milky Way will be at that moment in the future.
    After we left Belize heading North to Cozumel I used this app to see when and where the Milky Way would be on Night 11.

    This tells me the MWC (Milky Way Center) will be visible between 8:43pm and 3:07am.  At 12:16am the MWC will be as shown for the location we are at this moment in time.  On land that works well, on a moving ship you don't always know where your position will be in six hours or the heading of the ship hours later so there is some guess work and extrapolation involved, but at least you know what direction to find it. 
    With a full moon the results would have suffered a lot.  I don't try to shoot the night sky on land most of the moon phase, it works best without moon light.  New moon was perfectly timed for me, that's just luck.   For Costa Maya it was July 31st. 
    The MWC in the Northern Hemisphere is visible at night in summer months only, you can't shoot the Milky Way in the winter up here but you can down under.
    There is also a lot of luck involved.  Based on the cloud cover after leaving Belize pictured above the Milky Way would not be visible.  I got pretty lucky two nights in a row with the ship heading South towards the Milky Way, on the right phase of the moon, without major cloud cover.  Costa Maya and Belize are close so the ship was only moving at ~8 knots.  
    I don't always bring my A7 with me, that's why I have the RX100VI - for travel.  I threw the A7 in my backpack at the last minute.
    I was in the right place at the right time with cloud cover that was in my favor on a slow moving ship with the right gear.  It's pretty rare to get all that working in your favor on a cruise, on a ship with a public area that is dark.  I may never get another opportunity like this. 
  9. Love
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    After dark I thought I'd walk off some of my dinner.  There were a number of low clouds passing above us and it didn't look like a great night for the Milky Way again.  Our direction towards Belize puts the Milky Way at the front of the ship but after Belize we'll start heading back North so this would be the last chance to take advantage of the dark bow to capture it.
    A passing storm in the distance caught my eye from deck 6 aft behind Boleros.

    It didn't look good for star gazing but I thought I'd try anyways so back to deck 6 forward.  I settled in to let my eyes adjust and it seemed like it was opening up at times.  In between passing clouds I managed to get some more Milky Way shots.  Using lessons learned from the previous night I think they came out pretty good. 


  10. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    Someone is getting famous 🙌👏Congrats! 

    Facebook too!

  11. Like
    Ken23 reacted to SpeedNoodles in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    It looks like you're sailing on the Starship Empress rather than Empress of the Seas!
  12. Love
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    With our fabulous dinner over around 10pm I was too full to retire so I changed into shorts and went for a walk outside on deck 6.  Venturing forward we were sailing into some sea mist from the warm waters yet cooling air and there were some clouds in the sky but I also glimpsed what I thought was something I've photographed before in the night sky.  So I went back to grab my camera and mini tripod.
    I've often sailed into the sunset but tonight we were sailing into the milky way.

    Capturing the milky way requires long exposures but on a moving ship in the ocean it took some playing around to find some settings that worked.  With the 10 to 15 second exposures I was using I managed to catch some lighting in a distant storm on the horizon.
    The bow is dark at night so the bridge crew can keep watch.  The long exposures captured enough light to make the bow look like it's illuminated but it isn't, that's just low levels of ambient light 

    The sea mist, clouds and moving ship didn't make for the best astrophotography conditions but I'm pleased with the results.  More lightning:

    On land the stars would be more precise and clear, that's the problem with shooting from a moving platform, but I'll take the results.
  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019   
    Earlier I mentioned an invitation to the Hotel Director's Table for dinner.  With only two Pinnacles on board I managed to make the cut.

    We met the Hotel Director Julie and Guest Services Manager Jorge where we enjoyed a beverage in the lounge by the Schooner Bar.  Shortly after we were led to the Captain's Table in the main dining room.

    Our menu for tonight:

    The meal was excellent and the conversation with fellow guests, Julie and Jorge was wonderful and engaging.  So much so that I forgot to take any more pictures.
    Julie and Jorge have a lot of experience and time with Royal Caribbean and it was very interesting to hear their stories from over the years.
    Jorge is the voice over the PA for many announcements such as "The ship has been cleared by local authorities and you are welcome to go ashore on deck....".  I also caught an announcement back on the day 1 of the 2nd leg that at the time made me go "hmmm".  Jorge will address the crew over the PA before general boarding starts but since I was a consecutive cruiser I caught the announcement.  Since Julie is from the UK Jorge specifically called out the number of UK guests coming on board and made another humorous related comment.  Tonight Jorge explained he does these little off the wall comments to make sure the crew is paying attention and engaged.  It's a long running thing he does every week and the crew will pay attention each week to what little quirky thing he'll throw in this time.  It's all in good fun and a great way to keep the crew happy and engaged. 
    Julie is the third female Hotel Director in the fleet and she has done an amazing job here on Empress.  Sitting next to her at dinner I asked about her rise to Hotel Director and being in this role as a female.  She is very proud of her accomplishment and clearly has earned it.   It's great to see Royal Caribbean advancing more women into senior positions.
    After an incredible dessert we were presented with a memento of the occasion. 


    Julie and Jorge are both nearing the end of the current contracts with just two more sailings to go, but they'll be coming back.
    The future of Empress was discussed and there will be an announcement very soon with some new and different itineraries for Empress.  She isn't going anywhere just yet and they are taking advantage of her small size to return to some more interesting destinations that larger ships can't visit.  Out of respect I won't say more but I'll be keeping an eye out for them very soon and I know I'll be booking more cruises on Empress.
    Wow!  What an amazing evening! Loyalty does have it's rewards.
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Matt in WEATHER -SAILING NEXT SATURDAY -PORT EVERGLADES   
    I believe so.
  15. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in “Symphony No. 17: Celebration, Relaxation, Exploration, Reflection” – 07/27/19 – 08/03/19   
    Dinner tonight back at CK.

    We started with a Caesar Salad which I did not bother to take a picture of. 
    Hubby got seared scallops as his appetizer.

    We both decided to do a Surf & Turf tonight.
    Butter Poached Lobster 

    Peppercorn Steak (from the classics menu).

    Dessert

    Baked Alaska

    And my two favourites...
    Coconut Tapioca 

    Chocolate Bar

    Apologies for the lighting in these pictures. It was quite dark tonight and CK has this blue light overhead which messes up the lighting in these food pics. 
    I will add to that tonight was the second formal night. Most people were more dressed up for this one rather than the first.  And then there was the guy in shorts and Crocs. And he even took his shoes off and put them up on a chair!!! 😒🙄 
    Tonight’s Poached Lobster was probably the best that I’ve had in any CK for this particular dish. Both in presentation and quality. 
    No real plans tonight. Off to wander and maybe sit in the Schooner Bar for a bit. I wanted to head to Central Park but it is still raining so that is out. Love & Marriage is also happening tonight. That is always fun. 
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    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in “Symphony No. 17: Celebration, Relaxation, Exploration, Reflection” – 07/27/19 – 08/03/19   
    Fast Track Boarding...Fail #2!
    One of the reasons I wanted to get off today was to check out Fast Track Boarding again. Today Royal got it correct in that the first gangway (coming back to the ship) was dedicated to Fast Track Boarding.  Here is the signage for it. 


    This was about all Royal got correct. 😒
    For research purposes, I asked the crew member at the podium how it works. If guests who qualify for Fast Track Boarding would by pass the lines coming back, or if guests who don’t qualify would have to use the other gangway? The crew member at the podium had no clue. I pointed to the sign and he said, “Oh that, that is nothing. It doesn’t mean anything.”  Ok, classic Royal. Let’s roll out something and not give everyone the memo. 
    Upon our return to the ship, the lines were quite long at the Fast Track Boarding gangway, obviously because this was now the first gangway.  We got in line and did not notice them re-directing anyone or giving anyone priority. After we got to the podium, we asked another crew member about the process. He too said, “Oh no, you just get into line with everyone else.”  So Fast Track was slow track today.
  21. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in “Symphony No. 17: Celebration, Relaxation, Exploration, Reflection” – 07/27/19 – 08/03/19   
    It’s that time of the night again 😊🍸

  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in “Symphony No. 17: Celebration, Relaxation, Exploration, Reflection” – 07/27/19 – 08/03/19   
    This is the ultimate definition of relaxation! 😆

  23. Like
    Ken23 reacted to CDunninTX in MEI Travel   
    We love Michelle too!! 2 more big 👍s !!
  24. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Bob_KY in MEI Travel   
    2 👍s for Michelle..  
  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Brobbins246 in MEI Travel   
    Thumbs up for Michelle at MEI
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