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  1. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to Matt in Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019   
    I was this close to @Lovetocruise2002 having her first tequila shot.  Alas, there’s always tomorrow. 
  2. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Skid in Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019   
    Welcome to NJ. Don't judge by the turnpike. There are some really nice towns here despite what @WAAAYTOOO thinks!
  3. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019   
    Who’s Going?
    The usual crew:  Hubby, our 2 girls, D10 & D12 (a month shy of 11 &13), and myself.
    Our plan is to fly from DTW to EWR two days before.  Since it is our summer vacation and we are not pressed for time, we are taking an extra day to take our girls around Manhattan the day before the cruise.
    Pre-Cruise Stay
    I tossed around the idea of staying in Manhattan because the pre-cruise meet up is there but then we decided to book Embassy Suites again in Elizabeth, NJ.  A few friends from our group cruise are also staying there.  At the last minute, and by that, I mean only 3 weeks ago, it dawned on me that I overlooked a very important point.  We booked a one-day tour with Viator for NYC that leaves from Times Square.  I realized that going into NYC on a Wednesday morning from NJ would be a bit of a problem with rush hour.  Not wanting to stress about being stuck in traffic or risk missing our tour, we went ahead, and canceled Embassy Suites and our stay now is at... 

    the Intercontinental New York Times Square! 
    We realize that this adds a bit more cost and travel time on embarkation morning, but our girls are so excited to stay in Manhattan and we are steps away from the pre-cruise meet up and our tour pick up point.  The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
    This 9-night sailing takes us to Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan, and Labadee.  We have no real plans for this sailing other than relaxing.  June was such a busy month for all of us.  I am simply burnt out and looking forward to sitting and staring out at the open waters. 
    In Bermuda, we booked the Bermuda Island Drive By Minibus Tour through Royal.  In San Juan, we plan to walk around for a bit on our own.  Lastly, for St. Maarten and Labadee, we may not even get off the ship.  Hubby and I will be back at these same ports (minus Bermuda) in a few weeks on Symphony and it’s better to visit “That Yoda Guy” without the kids.
    We are booked in the exact same cabin category as last cruise.  Formerly a Family Junior Suite (FJ), it has now been re-categorized as a J3.  This cabin makes the most sense for our family as it has the pullman bed and 1 ½ bath.  This time around, we grabbed one on Deck 8 instead of 9 in hopes that it might be slightly better for motion.  Not sure if it will make much of a difference.  See my 2018 live blog for pics of this cabin. 
    Pre-Cruise thoughts
    -    First Group Cruise!  So excited!  Need I say more?!
    -    Because it is a Group Cruise and our kids have started venturing out on their own, we grabbed the VOOM for 3 devices plan this time.  This way, we will be able to contact D12 anytime if needed, especially if we split up from them for group activities.
    -    This is also my way of giving Anthem a second chance.  As noted in my previous Anthem blog, there were two things I really did not enjoy about the previous cruise.  One was that crowds did not flow well throughout the ship.  The second was that I vowed to never sail from NJ again in the colder months as it was not enjoyable for us.  We will see if sailing in July makes a difference.
    -    Finally, my disclaimer is that this blog may not follow my usual style.  I can’t even promise how “live” it will be this time around.  And there will be many things I may not post to avoid being redundant from my last one.

    -    Once again, in the spirit of a live blog, please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  I will do my best to find out whatever I can for you.

    -    When responding to a post with a series of pictures, please do not include the pictures in your reply.  It just makes for easier scrolling.

    -    Lastly, I will do my best to bring the cruise to you LIVE through Periscope – you can follow me @LoveToCruise2002.
  4. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019   
    Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019
    Anthem of the Seas the Reboot (aka Anthem, The Lite Edition).

    For those of you who have been around for a while, you know that we cruised Anthem back in 2018.  For a more in-depth blog of Anthem, check out my blog from March 2018.
    This is going to be the “Lite Edition” for several reasons.  I wasn’t even going to blog this cruise as I am not sure how much more I can add to it that would be different from my previous one or the ones that @twangster, @JLMoran, @SweetPea, or @TheHobbys have done.  And…it’s my first Group Cruise!  I might be just a tad busier than usual.  However, the conclusion that I came to is that it would be irresponsible and inconsiderate of me to not blog it because it was the blogs and scopes from last year’s Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska GC that finally pushed me into booking this one.  Again, the best part of live blogs is learning from each other and to pay it forward.
    Let’s back up the story a bit on how this cruise came about for us.  I saw this GC as soon as @Matt announced it back in the Fall of 2017.  The itinerary stood out right away for me as it was 9-night sailing that goes to Bermuda (we have never been).  To make it even better, the dates for this GC landed on dates that were actually doable for me.  However, during that time, I was more focused on securing my Symphony July 2019 booking and with both cruises in July, only weeks apart, I decided it wasn’t going to be possible for Anthem. 
    In March 2018, we sailed Anthem, and I had very mixed feelings on that sailing with the ship itself.  I usually enjoy most cruises we go on, but Anthem did not sit well with me.  You can see my initial thoughts of Anthem in my previous Anthem blog. 
    Fast forward to June 2018, the RC Blog gang went to Alaska, and it looked like so much fun that I truly wanted to try out a GC myself.  Many of you know that I am teacher and my vacation dates are not flexible.  To have the Anthem GC fall over our summer break was an opportunity that I felt I could not let pass.
    Booking this cruise was essentially embracing the true YOLO spirit.  As far as our (I mean Hubby’s) bank account goes, booking this one and Symphony to sail in the same month was not wise and made for a very expensive April!  On the bright side, this is going to be our shortest dry dock ever between cruises!  This is the cruise that we probably should not have booked but could not turn it down for the reasons already listed and the best reason of all…Who can possibly turn down an opportunity to meet “Mr. YOLO Book It!” himself?  True Greatness?  Our Fearless Leader? Obviously not us!  So here it goes…
  5. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Kwevans in No passport. How bad will it be?   
    We are back from our cruise and I wanted to give an update on how it went traveling with birth certificates....
    I was NEVER asked for my marriage license (although I had it and was prepared if so)!!  Traveling with our birth certificates didn’t seem to increase any wait time compared to traveling with our passports. However, I will go with a passport next time for peace of mind in case of a medical emergency, etc. 
    and for what it worth, our cruise was amazing and we want to go back RIGHT NOW!  Totally addicted to cruising!!
  6. Like
    Ken23 reacted to RCIfan1912 in Thank you Matt! Just booked Oasis!   
    Just presented the fake or mock tickets to my wife and son. All are very excited. Its cruise mode for the next 315 days. Anthem this Sept and then Oasis May 10, 2020. Showed my wife the room just now and she really like it like I did. I think its gonna be a fun room.
  7. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Danielle OG in Thank you Matt! Just booked Oasis!   
    I, too, am afraid of flying which is why I booked a cruise in the first place. I wanted to be able to see the Bahamas without ever stepping foot onto a plane! And now I will for the first time ever in November ?
  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to RCIfan1912 in Thank you Matt! Just booked Oasis!   
    I just wanted to say thank you to Matt for pointing me to a great travel agent, MEI is just great to work with. I had a hell of a time finding a good TA and these guys were excellent, John and Melissa both were amazing. Booked Oasis from NJ to Florida/Bahamas May 10 2020. We booked a very unique room, Central Park interior view. We wanted to do a bit less expensive on this one and this was perfect. Great price and natural sun light from the window, plus peaceful views of Central Park. So I am super happy, gonna surprise my wife and our son tomorrow with the template tickets I saw on here. So again thank you Matt and I'm very excited about sailing Oasis.
  9. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from levy1980 in Swapping Rooms   
    You might try seeing if a Youtube review of your room has been done.  Go to Youtube, and in the search box put the ship name and cabin number.  You might get lucky and someone has done a walk through video of your cabin.
  10. Like
    Ken23 reacted to mom2mybugs in Majesty of the seas Havana-no-no-no Graduation Cruise June 15-June 19   
    Update day -1 of trip!!!!
    For the first time in my cruise history I have not packed a single item yet!  Ugh.  Usually i stay up super late the night before charging things, clearing pics off my phone etc, but life has totally gotten away from me this week with work and my silly ankle.  I'm working today until 4 and then I am on vacation for 10 days!!!!!
    My ankle is still not great.  Maybe the silver invisible lining if no Cuba is that this cruise will have less walking.  9 days post sprain the ankle is still swollen.  Oh well...pool deck and adult beverage here I come.  We will just Uber everywhere in fort Lauderdale.
    My girls are packed and ready to go.  I haven't told them I've ordered matching tshirts, water bottles and totes for the treppagirlsvacay!  I also have bought a ton of pamper items (face masks, lotions, chocolate) that I will pack in the tote bags.  Good thing kids only graduate every 4 years because I'm spending a ton of money... Though not as much as I spent on college lol!
    So that is where we are at!  We leave tomorrow and I will start taking pics soon I promise!  Jane
  11. Thanks
    Ken23 got a reaction from wsyrob in St. Maarten and St. Thomas next week....nothing excites us...any ideas?   
    They have a bunch of different boats (something like 3-5), with each one being unique.
    Either when you check in, or when you get on the boat, they will make "assignments" for all.  You can tell them you want a easy one, or nothing (or in charge of the cooler, handing out water, ect).  
    When I went, I asked for a easy station, and every few (maybe 5) minutes, me and another person was instructed to spin this crank for maybe 20-30 seconds.  Not bad at all.
    Have fun.
  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to mom2mybugs in Majesty of the seas Havana-no-no-no Graduation Cruise June 15-June 19   
    Another trip... My first one as Platinum.  No I will never make diamond and I don't really get anything for Platinum other than requesting the cool robe which I will do on the next cruise lol.....
    The Basics:  First time on Majesty of the seas.  The Crew:  Myself, my 22 year old daughter Morgan and my 16 year old Madison.  Dad stays home to work and pay for the girls trip!  The Itinerary:  Fly into fort Lauderdale 2 days early, relax, eat and drink, get in ship and go to key West (first time), sea day (relax and drink), nassau and then fort Lauderdale for 3 days (relax, eat and drink.. sense a pattern lol?)
    We booked this cruise as a total yolo.  I was home in April feeling very guilty about not going to my daughter's last mom's weekend at University of Illinois.  I started thinking, ok, we'd have spent a bit, let's travel instead after she graduates for a little 3 day weekend.  Which turned into, hey let's travel 4 or 5 days.  Which turned into hey, we can take a cruise!!!  The 16 year old was all over the itinerary (let's go to Europe etc) but the 22 year old was exhausted finishing her final design project in material science engineering and said she would go anywhere if she could get the drink pkg and sleep!   I was looking at 5-7 day cruises and an amazingly long cheap celebrity cruise (which now I wished I'd booked but I will get there!!!) and then happened on Cuba!  We could go to Cuba!!!!!!   My husband was such a good sport (history teacher who would be teaching summer school and not going) and said go!  So we booked it in April.  I've never YOLO booked a cruise like that.  Within 2 days we had airfare and a hotel and airbnbs and were ready to go as long as Morgan passed all her classes lol.
       2 days later the announcement came about the change in Cuban policy.  Worried but cautiously optimistic we continued to get excited.  The May escalation day came and went.  Our biggest worry was if they would ever assign us our guarantee cabin!  
       And then June came.  First of all, I sprain my ankle.  Badly.  It's not broken but can I walk in Havana?  Doesn't matter...we have an all day fun classic car tour!  But it didn't matter.  We were devastated when it was announced that travel would be banned to Cuba.  We were cautiously hopefully that we would be grandfathered in but that was not to be.   So now what?  We had booked majesty only because of Cuba.  I obviously like smaller and older ships ok...our first cruise was on vision in 2015 and we will be sailing it again after trips on other classes... But I'd have done a 7 day on a bigger ship.  So I looked at our options.  None.  We would pay double to cruise another ship at the same time.  We do have cancel at any cost insurance but my last dealings with Allianz and insurance were heartbreaking at best and we lost 10000.  I just couldn't face that again even if we could find other dates in the future that could work (which we couldn't... The college grad has to get a real job sometime lol).  
       So we were optimistic again... Maybe we would finally get to see cococay (since we couldn't tender on our trip in 2016).  Nope....Nassau.  The lemons keep flying.  But we are making lemonade!  Girls were just happy to be going on a trip, I'm happy that I will finally finish school next week, maybe it won't rain in Florida, this trip is gonna rock!!!! Any cruise is an amazing cruise!  So we booked a specialty make your own sushi class, get an excursion in Nassau and think about packing!!
      So we leave in 6 days!  I will update as we go.  Unlike @TheHobbys if I lay out my suitcases, my Schnauzer will eat everything in the suitcase so I will have to pack and close.  That will be today and tomorrow's project since I work all day Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday!  We will get hair cuts and pedicures and look forward to our first kraken lava flow on the ship!!!   I'm looking forward to an amazing 8 days with my girls, wondering if we can all go 4 days without voom...we are gonna try!... and for the first time getting on a cruise less than 6 months after the last one!  Jane
  13. Thanks
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in MDR? My time Dining? Confused   
    Silks, Grande & American Icon are all considered the Main Dining Room.  They all serve the same menu, just one is on Deck 3, one Deck 4, and one Deck 5.  One of them will be reserved for My Time Dining and the other two are typically for the set dining times.
    Eating in any of the main dining rooms is included in the price of the cruise.  They will serve breakfast and lunch in the main dining rooms sometimes as well which is included.
    The buffet is included and will be open for breakfast lunch and dinner.  It's called Windjammer and will be on Deck 16.
    Park Cafe is included.  It's located in Central Park and will offer breakfast and lunch.
    Johnny Rockets is included for breakfast only (you pay for lunch and dinner).  It is located on the Boardwalk.
    Doghouse is included and usually open lunch hours til around 6pm on the Boardwalk.
    Wipeout Cafe is located up on the pool deck and will have breakfast and lunch available and is included.
    Solarium Bistro is in the Solarium area and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner which is included.  Dinner usually requires reservations.
    Sorrentos Pizza and Promenade Cafe are on the Promenade and have near 24-hour service and are included.
    Vitality Cafe which will be located near the gym/spa area..they have fresh juices and smoothies which are included in the drink package  as long as you don't add the protein powder option to them.  They also have some light bite, fresh food items as well which will be complimentary.  The Cruise Compass will show ($) next to the Vitality Cafe, but that just indicates there is a charge for the juice/smoothies without a package.
    -- In the cruise planner you should be able to reserve American Icon (I think that's the MTD MDR) and Solarium Bistro for dinner.
  14. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to JennyB in DOH! What did you forget to pack?   
    me.  you forgot me.
  15. Love
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Give Me Liberty, or ...not. An Insurance Claim Live Blog   
    Update:  Money received, my epic insurance experience is over.  
    My remaining 2019 cruises have insurance from another carrier purchased on a per cruise basis (no annual policy).   I still have some coverage from Allianz.
    I still believe in insurance for the unexpected.  
    Biggest lesson learned - don't fly in the day of the cruise.  That wasn't an option this time and I thought it would be okay given a short flight to Houston.  What could go wrong?   The best outcome would have been to take the cruise, so fly in the day before.
  16. Wow
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Give Me Liberty, or ...not. An Insurance Claim Live Blog   
    Status Update:
    It's been a while since I updated the thread and it's been an interesting journey.  I've been on a cruise recently with limited communication so that delayed working through this process.
    It took numerous attempts to escalate.  Escalation and appeal is by email only - they don't let you talk to a person in this process.
    This is going to get lengthy but I want to you to see how this unfolded and how their claims process works.
    A couple weeks ago I received a voicemail from someone at Allianz in response to my email appeal.  They left an extension number and "direct" phone number. I've made numerous attempts to call that number prior to cruising. 
    One occasion the contact center that answered informed me that their computers were down and they can't transfer calls when computers are down.  On another occasion the contact center repeated past information about my claim being denied and refused to transfer me.  On another occasion they stated they need more information and had sent me an email (didn't get it but got have received other emails from them with my denial status).  I checked spam filters and junk mail and made sure their domain was whitelisted.  They couldn't tell me what additional information was required.  "I'm sorry we can't tell you that on the phone, it has to be sent to you in an email".  Three attempts to have the email sent and resent were unsuccessful despite numerous emails about being denied.  
    On my eighth attempt to return the phone call from the voicemail, I convinced the contact center agent to transfer me to the extension provided.  Phew.  A human answered.
    My claim of trip cancellation was changed to trip interruption because they could find no proof that my airline had incurred "24 hours of cessation of services".  I informed her I was documenting this for an internet forum and asked very specifically what does "cessation of services" mean?  Basically the airline has to stop flying.  All flights, anywhere.  I asked her to clarify specifically with Southwest Airlines.  Do you mean that every single flight that Southwest flies anywhere has to be grounded for 24 hours for cessation of services to be satisfied?  Her response, correct.  The Airline has to cease operations.  If one Southwest plane takes off anywhere completely unrelated to me getting to Houston then cessation of services has not been satisfied.  They use FlightStats are a data source and had documented in my claim that Southwest did not cease operations.  
    But wait.  I checked my policy and no where is cessation of services mentioned for this coverage.   It's because of the date of the incident she said, side stepping my comment.  Had I got sick on April 5th and cancelled then it would be Trip Cancelation but because it occurred on April 7th it's Trip Interruption.  My policy doesn't state anything related to date of cancellation.  No where does it state a number of hours or days before a cruise or trip for a claim to be cancellation versus interruption. We went down this rabbit hole several times until I asked her to read to me where in my policy is a date qualification noted.
    She stated I would have been covered if I flew to Cozumel and boarded the ship side stepping my request.  Coverage would have been up to $250.  I told her Southwest doesn't fly to Cozumel.  My airline couldn't get me there.  She then went back to cessation of services.  I repeated that's not in my policy as a qualifying condition (it is for car rental coverage in a different section, but not for trip cancellation or trip interruption).  Then she went back to trip interruption however since I didn't try to fly to Cozumel, I'm not covered.  I repeated I couldn't fly to Cozumel because Southwest doesn't fly there and asked her why isn't this trip cancellation?
    I pointed out that as soon as Southwest cancelled my flight on that day I called their claims department and was informed I am covered and was advised to file trip cancellation.  She stated she didn't know why I was given this incorrect information.  
    Then she stated: Oh look, here is something in your policy that I overlooked.  "Non-refundable payments and deposits.  Payments and deposits you made before your trip was canceled, less any published refunds you’re entitled to receive."
    At this point she started looking at my receipts and confirming I paid an additional amount for transportation services (Houston to Galveston shuttle).  "This is my fault, I missed that section of your policy".
    The words I had been waiting to hear...   "Okay, I am going to process the full amount of the cruise fare and shuttle less the port fees and taxes as indicated by Royal Caribbean".
    I have some thoughts on this experience but I'll leave it up to you to decide if you think they were hoping with enough road blocks, unrelated terminology and verbiage that isn't in my policy that I might just give up and go away.   
  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to TheHobbys in Anthem of the Seas, June 6, 9-night Bermuda (OL-8720 SC)   
    We do, but he prefer's bbq sauce - lol

  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Razerbkfan in Diamond Plus   
    Let me get my disqualifications out there first.  I'm a lowly Platinum member with RCL and we've only been regularly cruising for about 10 years.  Part of the reason our club status isn't higher is because we have cruised on other lines.  I still feel like Royal's loyalty program is very good.  Compared to other programs like frequent flyer for an airline it is not time limited.  You simply continue to accrue points as you cruise even if it takes you years to get to the next level.  There are shortcuts to the top if you want to spend the money to get there.  Nobody guarantees that benefits won't change but I think their system is pretty straightforward as to what you can expect at each level.  Maybe because we're still newby's we don't have as high of expectations.  We enjoy the little "welcome back" statements from the staff when we join the line to board or the loyalty reception that we now get to attend.  Ok the drinks are watered down at the event but we're still pinching ourselves that we're on a cruise.  As far as food and service 20 years ago that isn't in our minds as we felt that the cost of a cruise was beyond our reach back then.  While we have cruised others so technically we have loyalty points with them we continue to look at Royal first because we think their ships are newer and better, price is fair compared to other vacations we might take and generally we love the people on a cruise.  I think this is a little like reading after cruise reviews. You read about someone's terrible experience on a cruise you were just on and had the time of your life.  Any you wonder were we really on the same ship?
  19. Thanks
    Ken23 reacted to jticarruthers in The 10 drinks package   
    99% certain the card has to be used on the cruise it is purchased on, never purchased one to be sure though.
    The card is a "last ditch" sales tool they use mid-cruise to try and pump up the alcohol sales if they are down, so they try not to use it unless they have to. Would be surprised if they would bring it out early on request but you never know if you dont ask.
  20. Thanks
    Ken23 reacted to Matt in The 10 drinks package   
    Yes, I have. There's no flexibility with getting it early. Until it gets advertised onboard, it's not for sale and most of the time the bar staff have no clue if it will appear or not.
    You cannot use it on another sailing.
  21. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Traveler in Anyone booked on Spectrum?   
    We booked the Spectrum of the seas from China on the 7 days  "best of Japan" cruise , Planning to have a live blog while cruising and even start it much earlier as there are many new different things when cruising from China.
  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Pima1988 in cruise just shortened   
    That is true.  I have sailed out on Anthem and they only clear the bottom of Verrazano by about 30 feet, so that actually makes more sense to me when you add in the fact that they also had a medical emergency and had to divert to Boston, which already caused a delay issue.  Now add in the tides to come back into port, and flip the ship, and than sail away, that impo is probably why the delay.
    I recall us sailing out at 4 and they said that it was a must due to the tides.
    I doubt it is a berth issue since Adventure sailed away on Friday, thus, no other berthing issue at Cape Liberty.
  23. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Pima1988 in Discount Cruise Option Dicussion   
    I don't mind the WJ for breakfast or lunch, but dinner I want to sit down and relax with a glass of wine.  Dinner taking 90 mins has never been an issue for me.  On this cruise we are traveling with my SIL, she is anti-buffet, so every meal will be in the MDR or specialty restaurants.  She is like you @WAAAYTOOO if I told her buffet only it would be a no go for her. 
  24. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from SpeedNoodles in Labadee and Coco Cay ... on the same itinerary? How often?   
    How about a 8 nighter?
    Empress OTS
    April 4, 2020 going to 
    Miami, Florida • Key West, Florida • Havana, Cuba* • Cruising • Labadee, Haiti • Cruising • Perfect Day At Cococay • Miami, Florida
    without Key West, on Majesty OTS
    5 nights - January 25, 2020 or March 7, 2020 or April 4, 2020
    Fort Lauderdale, Florida • Cruising • Labadee, Haiti • Cruising • Perfect Day At Cococay • Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to tonyfsu21 in Super Mario is Super!   
    Apparently it’s an 8,000 cruise point milestone for Mario onboard the Navigator!

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