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  1. Like
    Ken23 reacted to bossdog421 in We Still Do – Vow Renewal on Harmony - 1/26/20 – 2/2/20   
    Semi live blog, we’ll see how that works out!
    10 days to go!!! Crown Loft Suite - Deck 17
    Day 1 - Port Canaveral 😊
    Day 2 - Sea Day – Ship stuff – formal night, main dining anniversary celebration planned by TA
    Day 3 - Sea Day
    Day 4 - St. Maarten (Anniversary Day!) – Island tour, vow renewal in our suite, Izumi Hibachi, After Party
    Day 5 - San Juan – Beach Day
    Day 6 – Sea Day
    Day 7 - Coco Cay – Overwater Cabana Booked!!!
    Day 8 - ☹
    This will be our second cruise and we will be celebrating out 10th Anniversary on this cruise. Myself, my wife and our 8 year old daughter are in a Crown Loft Suite, My sister in law and mother in law, and 2 other families that we are friends. 11 People total with 3 kids all 8 years old. Since we have the grandma on board so looks like we might have some good child care options for the kids! (not sure if grandma knows that yet though lol)
    We are flying out of Newark, NJ the day before into Orlando and staying at a hotel near the port. We used to live in Florida so we are very familiar with the areas. I only care about 1 thing at the port, I needs me a Cuban Sandwich. You just can’t get good Cuban food in Jersey.
    We put in a bid to Royal Up to a 2 bedroom aqua theater suite, that would catapult us into Star Class but I’m not going to get my hopes up too much on that! (but a guy can wish right?)
    Things I am most excited for to:
    ·         The 10 year celebration! We are planning to do a vow renewal. I wish some of my family was able to attend but it just wasn’t in the cards. My sister in law is going to host the service and it looks like we will be having it in our suite.
    ·         The overwater cabana! We booked an overwater cabana for our Perfect Day at Coco Cay. It looks like we will be one of the first to get to experience this. Expect lots of pictures! (They are supposed to be opening these up on Jan 31st and we are there Feb second… hope it’s ready in time!!)
    ·         Sailing with friends and family! This is going to be great. We should get lots of “adult time” with other people. Our last cruise was just the 3 of us on a Disney Cruise. It was our best family vacation ever but it’s going to be great to experience a cruise with friends on board.
    ·         The “suite life”! We were ruined years ago when we upgraded to a concierge experience on one of our vacations, now we can only travel like this. We take full advantage of the perks and it really does add to our enjoyment.
    I am an extreme over planner. Vacations are my jam. I have a bunch of activities already planned out. To make sure we see as much as possible I have been working on a scavenger hunt that will send us out in teams to take pictures of stuff and activities around the ship. I am very excited about this.
    So what are some must see things for Harmony? Let’s hear them!
    Now I just need to finish my vows…
    Here's the invite my wife made to send to everyone traveling with us.

  2. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in It’s not CK   
    I may have skimmed some here and there. 😜 LOL!
  3. Like
    Ken23 reacted to JLMoran in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    This has to be one of my favorites of all the... hundreds? More likely thousands of photos you've taken. I don't care that it's only January 21, this one has got to (a) get into Friday Photos at some point, and (b) be a finalist for Best Cruise Photo of 2020.
  4. Thanks
    Ken23 reacted to CGTLH in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Under breath grumblings...
    I personally think the drivers know of a glitch on how Uber calculates the tolls. From what I understand/read if a toll was going to be applied it should only been applied leaving New Jersey, Bayonne Bridge.
    Plus I'm not exactly sure how Uber does reimbursement to the drivers, toll is max $16. So I'm sure the drivers can pocket a bit if they get reimbursed the cash rate and only get charged the pass rate or plan rate.
  5. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Cruise Summary
    When ever I sail a Quantum class ship I'm reminded about how much I love this class of ship.  I was just on the newly amped Oasis and that is a great class of ship but there is something about Anthem and Ovation that is really appealing.  I prefer both the balcony and junior suites on these ships more than Oasis class.  The balcony cabin layout and bathroom is just about perfect on this class. 
    As it has happened to work out 80% of my 2020 cruises are on Quantum class and I'm okay with that. 
    On this trip I hardly used the pool deck and for the first time I didn't use North Star or iFly.  I don't know where the time went but other than walking through the Solarium a couple times I lived on the lower decks this cruise.   I'm not a sun worshiper so that plays into equation.   I may dig through some of my older Anthem picture galleries to post some pictures because the Solarium is one of the nicest in the fleet and the indoor pool area for families is perfect for this ship.  I wouldn't be doing her justice to not show them off.  
    I did walk through the SeaPlex with the goal of visioning how Playmakers will work on Odyssey when she arrives later this year.  I'm really looking forward to sailing on that ship with the evolution that has come with operating these ships for a number of years now.  I was disappointed when Spectrum went straight to Asia but was thrilled when Odyssey was placed in Florida for the end of this year.
    A lot has been said about Diamond Plus being restricted from the Concierge Lounge.  I seem to pick my sail dates with increased number of top elite so that is something I've experienced a number of times on both Anthem and Ovation.  I've got to say the expanded Diamond Lounge has always worked really well for me on both ships.  I met some new friends and saw a many of them night after night.  As a solo cruiser I love that the Music Hall bar is available for happy hour.  It's much easier to meet and talk with new friends at the bar seating compared to a table somewhere by myself.  For me losing access to the CL is a non-event.  
    The crew were amazing once again on Anthem.  I've sailed with Captain Srecko before and will always look forward to sailing with him again.   
    Coastal Kitchen once again was a star and a highlight of the cruise for me.  The night one filet is one of the best steaks in the fleet.
    I am really glad they occasionally do these longer itineraries on Anthem.  It's such a nice ship a 7 or 8 night is too short and the ports are more interesting on these longer runs.  Having to wear long pants on the first and last day in the middle of winter is trivial.
    Bayonne or Cape Liberty is a great home port.  With sub $20 rideshare transfers it's second only to Fort Lauderdale for fly-in convenience.  Facial recognition is a welcome update since my last Bayonne departure that makes the debarking process so easy.
    I'll post the specialty dining menus I have soon and I may go through some of my older Anthem pictures to find the best one to show off a few areas I missed this time around.
    Until then I hope you enjoyed following along and I thank you for viewing.  
  6. Haha
    Ken23 got a reaction from JLMoran in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Anybody from the July 4th Anthem group cruise see the 20 or so shot glasses on this table now?  Some things I can't unsee.
  7. Love
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Where has the time gone?
    As I get ready for my last visit to the Music Hall Diamond overflow happy hour, it's hard to pull myself away from this stunning final sunset.

    Just loving this deck 6 balcony.  Close to the water, stunning sunsets.  Should have booked a B2B.  I'm not ready to go home.

  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    The Pub.  

    Live music or the place to see some sports, the Brass & Bock is conveniently found in the center of the Royal Esplanade.

    Dan Davis from the UK was on board for this sailing.

  9. Haha
    Ken23 got a reaction from Lovetocruise2002 in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Anybody from the July 4th Anthem group cruise see the 20 or so shot glasses on this table now?  Some things I can't unsee.
  10. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    As morning turned to afternoon the sea conditions improved and there was less motion in the ocean.  The wind was still up and sea spray was still coating my balcony but it looked like a nice enough day out there.
    By early evening it was even better and we slowed down to a more economical cruising speed.
    For reference the temperature was 23°C or 73°F.  Not hot but also not humid, quit pleasant. 

    After a happy hour drink in the Music Hall overflow for the Diamond Lounge my new friend and I went to Coastal Kitchen for dinner.  Earlier I had asked the CK manager if it would be okay to bring someone who isn't eligible and since I was occupying a table for two by myself he had no problem allowing it.  The CK on Anthem is a much friendlier experience for JS guests compared to Oasis class CK as a JS guest.
     No dinner pictures when dining with friends.
  11. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Sail away party on the Helipad.
    I've always called it a Winch Pad because that's what the big letters on it say but when the Captain invites you to the Helipad, I'm going with his wording.  His ship, his rules.

    Like Oasis class, the Quantum class Helipad is not open to the public.  Oasis class has often held special sail away events for Suites and Pinnacles but they are much less common on Quantum class ships.

    The Hotel Director mentioned this was only the second time he has put on this event using the Helipad so it was truly special enjoying the sail away and a fabulous sunset from here.

    Loyalty pays.  #Loyal2Royal
  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Day 8 - St. Kitts
    Arriving in St. Kitts it seems my streak continues.  It always seem to rain in St. Kitts in the morning.
    The heavy rain even knocked Voom offline for a spell.  Fortunately these were isolated showers so 10 minutes later it was sunny.
    The new pier (in the distance) at St. Kitts is nearly complete.  In fact it looks complete but along the shore you can see signs of ongoing construction activity so it's got to be very close.

    Through the rain and morning mist I could a see a ship approaching but it seemed to have this large array above it.  In my morning haze I thought maybe it was a glitch in the matrix but my telephoto lens proved it be one of those small ships that can sail under wind power as well.

    Breakfast this morning at the café @ two70°

    This is a somewhat lesser known gem on Anthem both for breakfast and lunch and it's included. 

    Not going to lie.  I have a hard time not inserting "Mc" when ordering the Egg Muffin.  The salads are part of the lunch offering.

    Lunch sandwiches.  It's probably not good for me but the B & B is heavenly.  This is also where I get my Kümmelweck fix at lunch.

    The coffee bar has an additional charge.

  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Arriving back to my cabin I discovered an invitation to a sail away party.

    Having sailed in full suites on Oasis class I have enjoyed these events because like Quantum class the helipad is not open to the public. The only opportunity is visit the helipad is by invitation to an event.  Normally on Quantum class there is no suite sail away party on the helipad so this is indeed an uncommon and unexpected event.  
    I've always wanted to visit the Anthem helipad (winch pad) so I was hoping for good weather tomorrow.
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    On the way back up the coast we hugged the shore a little closer.  

    The tour also included a 30 minute swimming break.

    Waves and surf were up from the winds so we couldn't beach.  Instead they tied off at a buoy and we were given the choice to go swimming or start into the rum punch.  They wouldn't serve the punch before swimming for safety reasons but those who chose not to swim were given a head start on the punch.
    Noodles and/or life jackets were available for swimming for anyone who wanted them.

    Feeling good from the choice to not go swimming we gathered everyone back on board and continued back up the coast.

    Along the way we sailed past some beautiful beaches and resort areas.

    Back to the port area.

    Very enjoyable as a catamaran sailboat experience.  The crew were good and very friendly.  
    The catamaran featured separate mens and ladies facilities although small and a marine pump action toilet. The total tour length on the water was around 4 1/2 hours. No food offered but bottled water and some soda like ginger ale were available the whole tour while rum punch was only available after the swimming activity. No other adult beverages, just rum punch. Music was played during the tour and paused during the guide's announcements. The vessel was mostly under power with the aid of a partial jib for effect
  15. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    One of the things I did today was try the new Expedition 270 game in the Royal Caribbean app.

    It's an augmented reality game that uses your device's camera and motion sensors.  After finding the symbols found within the Two70° venue and scanning them in the game it presented a series of challenges.  In this one you control light that you aim through different gems to deflect the light to the next gem and so on until you use the light to destroy an object.  By moving your device and walking around the virtual mountain and I was able to send the light where it needed to go and complete this series of challenges

    At another station I had to shoot moving targets that floated around the room (virtually).

    By completing all four stations you collect all the masks and finish the game.

    One of the stations requires you to point your phone and move around a particular seating area in Two70°.  On my first attempt there was a couple sitting and reading right where I needed to point my phone.  It felt super awkward pointing my phone at them so I left to return later hoping the seats would be unoccupied (they were).
    Later on RCTV I watched the Captain's explanation of why we had to skip Antigua. 
    As we approached the channel the ship had to sail at at angle to compensate for the wind.  In open seas that isn't a problem.  In a narrow channel the ship can only use the channel in a straight line staying within the center of the channel.  With the ship at an angle due to the wind, we would use too much of the channel's width leaving no margin for safety.  Nearing the start of the channel the Captain made the call to abort so that is when we turned and our local pilot got off the ship.
    The Captain provided a great overview and detailed explanation of the situation.  I love that he took the time to keep us informed of why he had to make this unfortunate decision.

  16. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Day 6 - Antigua
    Or at least that was the plan...
    When I woke I noted an NCL ship sailing close but in the opposite direction.    If we are sailing into Antigua, why is that ship sailing away from Antigua?  Things that make you go hmmm.
    I went up for breakfast as we did a normal approach.  Sitting outdoors behind the WJ it was a beautiful morning.  Then we started to turn.  Then the wind that I wasn't aware of started coming across the outdoor seating area.  The wind was so strong it was blowing my almost empty glass of orange juice across the table.   Then my plate started to slide.  It was getting really windy.   We had been sailing directly into the wind so on the aft WJ seating area it had been completely sheltered.
    Finished with my breakfast I carried my stuff to a sheltered food cleaning station because if I left it on the table, it was going flying.
    St. John's is to the left in this picture, we had almost completed out turn back towards the sea.

    That little spec to the right near an island is the pilot boat that came back and retrieved the local pilot.  Yep, we were skipping Antigua today.

    The Captain came over the PA right at 8am to inform us it was too windy.  An NCL and a Princess ship both had skipped as well.  On to our next stop but at a more leisurely pace.  This was now another sea day.
    Originally my excursion was supposed to be a helicopter ride over to the Montserrat Volcano.  Several months ago that was cancelled due to the tour operator cancelling.  That was a moot point because in these winds it would have been cancelled anyways and now that we skipped Antigua it really wouldn't have mattered.
    None the less as we sailed South towards St. Lucia the Montserrat Volcano was on starboard. 

    We are quite far from the volcano but with my telephoto lens I was able to get a pretty good picture of it.

    You can really see the flows from the past several eruptions and where they reached the sea.

    Still active you can see how this island is growing taller with each eruption.

    Our CD advised us to refresh the app and that a new Cruise Compass would be distributed by noon.  New activities were planned.  Lot's to do.
    They set up a waffle station in the Esplanade with all the fixings.  

  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Curt From Canada in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Sorry for "quoting" the post.  The pictures are stunning.  This is the best excursion I have had in over 20 Caribbean Cruises.  Highly recommended, and I would love to hear from anyone who has a better record than 5-0.  
    If you want to win, there is a secret ... all contributions to the "Curt from Canada" Retirement Fund will be gratefully accepted.
    Curt from Canada 
  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Guess where dinner was.  Yep, Coastal Kitchen.

    I went for the French Onion Soup from the Classics menu.

    Braised Short Rib

    Bittersweet Chocolate Tart Praline

    Another great dinner and perfect sized portions.
  19. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Day 5 - St. Maarten
    Not a bad view to wake up to...

    Pilot boat approaching.

    I told a client I would sit in on a conference call for them.  I just didn't mention where I'd join the call from...

    As mentioned in the last post, we are sharing the pier with Oasis again today.

    Fortunately we pulled straight in so my port side balcony had a perfect view of Great Bay.

  20. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    After dinner I ventured back out to try my hand at some night photography.  I also ran to the CVS to pickup up supplies I neglected to pack. 

    Paseo de la Princesa was still lit up in Christmas colors.

    Oasis started the Aqua show but her aft was out too far to get a good view of it from Anthem.  Not long later she started away from the pier.

    Not long after it was our turn.

    Once out at sea Oasis was off our port side but too far for a decent picture.  We share St. Maarten tomorrow she we'll sail together through the night.
  21. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    San Juan Arrival
    I spy the funnels of a familiar ship in the distance.

    El Morro

    I always love sailing into San Juan on a beautiful day.

    A gate to the old walled city.

  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Calm seas today and a nice day to enjoy a balcony with no humidity.

    We changed time last night.

    Top tier event in the main theater starts with guitar music from a band member in the Royal orchestra.

    2782 total CAS
    988 Gold, 352 moving to Platinum
    520 Platinum, 175 moving to Emerald
    272 Emerald, 86 moving to Diamond
    598 Diamond, 35 moving to Diamond Plus
    354 Diamond Plus, 5 moving to Pinnacle
    50 Pinnacle
    A feature I really enjoy is the outdoor seating for the Windjammer.  I eat many meals out here.

  23. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Day 3 - Sea Day
    I'll use this lazy sea day to show the Esplanade.  As an early riser it's nice to find the Esplanade mostly empty of guests.  The Esplanade is similar in concept to the Promenade found on many previous Royal ships in the fleet as the heart of the ship.

    The Loyalty Ambassador's desk is beside guest services.

    The pub.  More on that later.

    The Esplanade has a dog leg around the pub heading forward to additional shops and the Music Hall.

  24. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Oasis Rising to the Stars Jan. 16, 2022   
    I know what you are thinking.  January 2022?  Did I read that right?
    In order to secure a great price on one of only two Star Class Ultimate Panoramic Suites on Oasis I booked this a couple of months ago when the itineraries where first released.  Within minutes of them going public I secured the 2nd of these two suites in the name of research and, well it seemed like a good excuse to book a cruise.
    That's nice and all but why start a blog now?
    I am so tired of @Matt beating up on my fellow Canadian @Lovetocruise2002 even though we all knew he has the record for starting a cruise blog the longest before any sailing in the history of these boards that I had to step in and take action.   So back off Matt!
    Seven hundred and twenty nine days.  
    Itinerary as it stands today includes Puerto Plata, DR, St Thomas USVI and San Juan Puerto Rico.  
    This may be my only 2020 update.  I'll do my best to update this blog at least once in 2021.  
    Until then, let it be known I hold the record for the longest pre-cruise early blogging award!
  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Anthem Jan. 5, 2020 11 Nights Southern Caribbean - RECAP   
    Night 1 continued...
    After dinner I wandered and found DSB in the Music Hall.  They are a Journey tribute band and very good.

    I've seen these guys before on Anthem and was pleased they would be back.

    It wasn't long before the audience was on the dance floor.

    Meanwhile in Boleros The Royal Swedes were also rocking it out.

    Getting late The VIA was empty.

    Aft or midship elevator bank. 

    Anthem really is a pretty ship.
    Enough for day 1, more to come...
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