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  1. 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.
  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!
  6. 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...
  7. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Rags1 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Here is where we are at one week out:
    Dinners:  In order it will be Coastal Kitchen to have a filet for @Lovetocruise2002, 150, Giovannis, Izumi Hibachi, Chops, 150, and Chops.  
    Entertainment:  Allan sent us the schedule from this week and our week should be close to the same.  He also indicated that the schedule  was changed 3 times this week.  So at this point I’m not sure of that schedule each night.
    Sail Away:  We requested some shrimp cocktails, chips and dip, etc which is not problem.
    We have a reserved time on Thursday, I think, in the Escape Room.  I will do the bridge tour, alone, on the last day.  We have requested a backstage tour and Allan is looking into that.  Since Stacy and Kaitlyn are nurses they have also requested a tour of the medical facility.  No answer on that yet.  
    And @Pookie, I did include in my last email that i was curious about the M&M thing since we had them the last two years.  The response was , “The M&M and other branded snacks were never included since the program started in May 2016.”  And there you have it.  
    One week from tonight I will be posting from whatever hotel I’m booked into in Miami!! 
  8. Love
    Ken23 got a reaction from NewRCcruiser in Rough waters/port cancellations?!   
    As others have said, Royal does not want to cancel any port (or Coco Cay) stop, but the safety of the passengers, crew and ship is a priority with Royal.
    To get a good idea of anything brewing weather wise for a upcoming cruise, I like to watch/follow the Facebook page of Royal's Meteorologist.  His public page is "Chief Meteorologist James Van Fleet".   He usually posts a few days ahead of any upcoming storms or issues they are watching.
    Safe travels, and have a great cruise.
  9. Thanks
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Wifi is not included with any of the Golden Suites on Spectrum. Yes, there is a reserved seating section for the shows. You just have to get there more than 10 minutes prior -- at 10 minutes they release the seats for anyone to use.
  10. Thanks
    Ken23 got a reaction from KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Kristi, thanks for this great live blog and all the pictures.
    It is getting me more and more excited for my upcoming March Spectrum "Best of Japan" cruise.
    I have a Jr. Suite booked, but put in a Royal Up bid for a Grand Suite and another full suite.
    Two questions about your Grand Suite...
    Did that include Zoom wifi?  Does the full (Grand) suite include the reserved seating to all the major shows?  (No reservation needed?)
  11. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Final Thoughts
    Now that we've been back a few days, I have just a couple of random thoughts to add, in no particular order:
     - We have always enjoyed the smaller ships and have been afraid the bigger ships would be too crowded. We were wrong! Spectrum is well designed and absorbed the crowds easily. Of course, if you want to get to the sale tables in the middle of the esplanade, it will be crowded, but that happens on any ship. Going forward we won't shy away from the larger ships!
     - I was surprised how much better the same recipe was when it was prepared in the Gold dining area. Makes me think there might be something to the whole #TeamCK thing 😉 
     - I loved the Asian flavor of the ship! Granted, I've lived in the region for nearly 6 years, but please please don't let the fear of the "culturally enriching" cruise stop you from exploring the area. And all signs point to Royal investing more and more in the region
     - I found it odd there was no drink of the day
     - There were lots of people from lots of different countries on both our sailings, particularly large family groups. Talking with some of the crew, it seems that people are using this ship for family reunion trips more than in other areas. One Indian extended family of 35, some of them hadn't seen each other in 10 or more years. It was fun to see 
     - This was our first back-to-back. LOVED it, all except the drill 😛 It's a small price to pay, though, and at least we got a terrific lunch out of the deal!
    I think that's it. Please let me know if you have questions -- I'm happy to answer!
  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Final Photos
    We’re home now and I see I have some photos languishing in my blog file. Here are some odds and ends!
    Art — there’s a ton of art on this ship. I had grand plans to get in each elevator to check out the unique art in each one, but it didn’t happen. The styles are fun and different, too. Here’s a tiny example:

    MDR (since I somehow failed to post any photos of it):



    Bean & Leaf:

    The Esplanade:

    Next Cruise:

    Shore Excursion desk:

    La Patisserie:

    Photos area:

    There were several unique shops as well. Like the Overseas Pharmacy (huge!):

    And the JClinic (DNA test, anyone??):

  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Day 12 - The End
    We got up early enough to ensure we could have one last breakfast at Gold dining and then headed off the ship about 8:45am. By this time they had called all the numbers already. Since the ship is so large, though, there will still quite a few people in the various stages of disembarkation. Interestingly, we did not have to do anything for Hong Kong Immigration — we already had our return paper in our passports when we picked them up yesterday. The port was holding people inside the building and releasing them in batches out to the curb/taxi/bus/shuttle area. Part of this was how big Spectrum is, and part was due to construction. All told, the process took us 30 minutes from gangway to sitting in our taxi.
    About 40 minutes later we were again waiting in line, this time to prove we had legit business in the airport before they would let us in the front door. This added security is due to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. It didn’t take us long, less than 10 minutes. Then off to drop our bags and head to the lounge. 
    We just finished our survey for the first cruise of the trip. Sigh! Always a little bittersweet! I will jot down a few random thoughts after we get home tonight. Thanks for following along!
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Day 11 - At Sea, pt 1
    Our last full day! Nooooo! Lots of plans though, in order to enjoy it to the fullest.
    We started at Gold dining for breakfast. This was actually our first time here at breakfast. How did that happen?? It was lovely and leisurely and tasty. The menu:

    Waffles with a side of bacon:

    Eggs Benedict:

    Next we tried again for our Skypad VR experience. Sadly, the weather was not cooperating so we ended up canceling completely. Guess I’ll have to book another cruise to try it out!
    After that we headed to Two70 to check out the VR experience they have set up in that space. There are 4 games you can play; 3 were doable and the 4th was too twitchy for our patience. Fun though! I like to see Royal pushing the tech envelope.
    Lunch was The Hot Pot, the other Spectrum-only specialty restaurant. Interestingly, on our first cruise it wasn’t open for lunch at all, only dinner. On this leg it was open both sea days. Lucky for us!

    The restaurant is in the back of the Windjammer with lots of lovely windows:

    The menu:

    They bring you both the meat and the seafood plate for each person, and then there are a few upcharge items. Then you go to the buffet to pick out your veggies and noodles:

    You choose from three broths (up to two choices per pot with a divider). One (tomato) is not spicy, the green pepper one is decently spicy, and the spicy beef is quite hot! The server girl was hesitant to let us order the beef one, until we told her we lived in Japan — “oh, you’ll be ok then!” She wasn’t kidding though! I tried it a bit and that was enough (cooked all my stuff on the green pepper side); MisterZ thought it was great. You then cook your foods at your leisure, using various dipping sauces you choose or blend at the buffet. It is a very social meal, perfect for big groups. They also had desserts and fruit on the buffet, but we were too stuffed to even look at them. 
    We were the only westerners in the place, but it was packed. I was pleased that Royal didn’t try to westernize this experience — it was way more fun as an authentic Shabu-Shabu restaurant.
    After lunch we did the wine tasting at Vintages. I had booked it ahead and was glad I did — they turned away a number of people because they were full. The sommelier was Chinese and he did a great job. He was obviously used to answering newbie questions and was very patient and encouraging. The wines were nicely chosen too.

  15. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    The Effectors
    The second unique show to Spectrum is The Effectors. It plays in the Royal Theater for two shows on one night each cruise. Although it’s also a bit light on plot, it has a fun comic book vibe. It’s easy to see the good guys from the bad guys and the special effects are FANTASTIC. It’s a must-see if you end up sailing on this ship. We missed it our first leg (again due to high seas), but used our magic gold SeaPass cards to score perfect seats on Day 10.
    Hard to photograph due to the low light, here’s a tiny sample of what you’ll see:

  16. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    We are not big gamblers (I am currently the proud owner of 7 whole club points!), but I would be remiss in talking about a ship for the Asian market without at least a little about the casino. It’s a big one!
    Table games as far as the eye can see! Many of the tables were for Baccarat. Lowest limits I saw were $5:

    Lots of slots as well, all digital. Many of them would do a variety of denominations, from one penny to one dollar. There were 4 sections this same size:

    The ship regularly offers free intro to gaming sessions, almost every night.
    There’s also a VIP Casino space on a totally different deck. I wasn’t ever able to get a peek inside, much less grab a photo. Rumor has it the price of entry is a minimum $10,000. Also, apparently you can have all your meals and drinks in there, in case you never want to leave!
  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    The Silk Road
    This is one of two unique shows on Spectrum. It’s done in Two70, twice per night, every 2-3 nights on the cruise. That means if you’re on a short cruise you have less than a 50% chance of seeing it 😞 (Two70 holds about 350 people per showing, the ship holds around 5000.) One perk we didn’t even realize WAS a perk is that the Diamond concierge will book you for one of the showings on your trip. Unfortunately you’re unlikely to be able to change it, as the bookings fill up immediately (there is no advance booking). There is a standby line for each show but your chances are still slim. The first week of our trip, we were booked the last night, last show. The day we had rough seas. So no show for us!
    Fortunately the magic gold SeaPass we have now got us in without a reservation to whatever show we wanted. Whew!
    @Traveler, you asked for a plot synopsis. Um... yeah 😉 Here’s what we got: “The future Mrs. Marco Polo from the East, and Marco Polo from the West, adventure down the Silk Road and see lots of sights and dangers before they finally meet.” I will say that after we saw it we read the bit Royal has in the app about it, which starts with “many ages ago, Zeus, the king of all the gods, sent two eagles...” What?? I’m sticking with my interpretation! Haha! 
    Regardless, it’s a terrific show and everyone should see it if they get a chance at all! I would see it again in a heartbeat, because there is A LOT going on the whole time and I’m certain I missed some great stuff. 
    Here are the best pics we could come up with:

  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Rest of Day 8 - Turn Around
    After our terrific lunch, MisterZ retired to the cabin for a nap and I went to the spa for a scrub. It’s a really nice space:

    The secret side door from the Gold area:

    The relaxation room:

    A treatment room:

    Here’s one sail away picture from foggy, uncooperative Hong Kong:

    For dinner we went to Gold dining for the first time. It was fantastic! MisterZ had Dover Sole and I had Spicy Beef Brisket. Our waiter said they have their own totally separate kitchen and absolutely everything is made to order, even the Caesar salad:

    It seems the menu may not change every night, but there is a lot of variety. 
    After dinner we went to see Silk Road, which deserves its own post!
  19. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Cabin tour
    After lunch our cabin was finished. Here’s the tour of cabin 13132:

    From the door:

    From the back looking toward the door:

    Looking into the bedroom:

    From the back of the bedroom, looking at the desk and bathroom door:

    The bathroom, with Jack and Jill doors (one from the main area and one from the bedroom). There is a second sink on the right of this shot:

    The balcony:

    And of course, the pillow menu!

  20. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Day 7 - At Sea
    This morning MisterZ was feeling exceptionally loungy, so I went to CafeTwo70 to grab some breakfast items. They were very tasty! Apparently we should have gone here sooner in the trip 🙂 
    Seas were rough today. We were sailing through the tail end of a typhoon. Personally I’ve seen worse, but the crew who hadn’t been on smaller ships were saying this was the worst they’d been through. There were sick sacks available in the stairwells, but they didn’t seem much used, fortunately.
    Today we had our Entertainment Tour from our Diamond status. I was really looking forward to seeing the differences with the older ships; we had most recently done one of these tours on Explorer. We started with about 30 minutes of discussion with the Theater stage manager and the dance supervisor. This was particularly fun because the Stage Manager’s mother was on the tour too, on her first cruise. She was very proud of her son — it was cute!
    The Theater holds about 2200 guests:

    Props and costumes:

    Backstage fun:

    The biggest surprise for me was how similar it all was to Explorer. While there were some tech advances, like the spotlight tracking devices, the dressing rooms and storage places were all the same (just a bit bigger). The Theater has 29 singers and dancers, and Two70 and the Music Hall have their own totally separate teams. If you get a chance to do this tour, jump on it on any ship. So interesting!
    Immediately following the tour was our consecutive cruiser meeting. There were about 160 back-to-backers on this cruise. Cruise staff told us what to expect the next day, and how to handle things if we were planning to go ashore or not. It was very helpful.
    Next we went to our favorite lounge chairs in the Silver area. For lunch, strictly for research purposes, I fetched pizza from Sorrentos:

    It was perfectly reasonable — not amazing but very edible 😉 How’s that for failing to add to the raging pizza debate on this site??
    Dinner in the MDR for our last night with our waitstaff:

    Also, we just squeaked in to the 50 year thing, this being the end of 2019. The cake was surprisingly delicious!

    We had intended to see both Silk Road and The Effectors tonight, but both were canceled due to high seas. DO NOT LEAVE SHOWS UNTIL THE END OF YOUR TRIP! In our case, we knew we had the next sailing to catch them so while disappointed, we were not crushed.
    This is one of my new favorite cruise sights, a hallway full of bags that does not include mine:

    Hahahahaha! Bye, poor suckers that have to go back to the Real World! (Too mean? #sorrynotsorry)
  21. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    There is a function in the app that turns your phone into an X-ray at one spot on the ship. In the forward stair landing between deck 11 and 12 is this artwork:

    Point your phone at the picture and you can see into the bridge, live. I think Symphony has this same option. It was interesting, and you can see crew moving in and out of the shot.
  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise New Year's 2020 onboard Freedom of the Seas   
    Mmmm...food at Raices.

  23. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to Matt in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    I would never start a live blog as early as @Lovetocruise2002 does! She's out of control!
  24. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Rags1 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Some odds and ends:
    Travel:  We will be flying from Palm Springs, California to Miami on American Airlines with a change of planes in Dallas.  We’ll leave out here at 630am and arrive in Miami at 630pm. Flying in on the day before the cruise.  Staying in a two bedroom suite somewhere in Miami.  Nurse Ratchet made all of the travel plans so I’ll just follow her there.  Ill let you know when I get there! No plans yet for the night in Miami that I know of.  I’m fairly certain it will include food and cocktails!  
    Genie Requests:  He is working on ideas to celebrate the twins December birthday and the Doctor’s recent graduation.  I think this year we will enjoy the sail away for our deck so I think we will ask for some food and a drink or two for that.  If we follow our cruising habits we will have a few breakfasts and afternoon snacks, also on the balcony. We enjoy the front row seating at the shows, morning Starbucks, laundry and the escort off the ship. Not requesting a cabana at Labadee.  We’ll request time in the Escape Room. Hopefully the helipad sail away from Labadee. We’re pretty laid back.
    Food:  We’re waiting for Allan’s suggested schedule but I’m certain we’ll do Chops, Giovanni’s, 150, Izumi, CK on filet night and then go back to whatever was best. Lunches are pretty much played by ear.  I think most breakfast’s will be either on the balcony or in CK.  We definitely hit Portside BBQ and El Loco Fresh. I have said on each of the last three cruises that I was going to try the Dog House and didn’t. I’m going to do it this time!  I’m sure there will be sushi and pizza in the mix somewhere!
    Side Note.  I’m seeing that Mario Salcedo, or Super Mario is now onboard the Oasis.  It would be fun to chat with him I think.  But then again, I’m pretty impressed I know the manger of our local hardware store.
    The meme is for @teddy to keep that song playing in your head!
    More to come….

  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Rags1 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Barbecue?  That’s food, right??  I should have put more info in the introduction to this thing!  The short answer to your question is yes, we will be trying the barbecue. The expanded answer is that there are two distinct types of people in our family:  One that lives to eat and the other that eats to live!  ALL food on the ship will be sampled by some!  Although I’m not considered a “foodie” in this crew, I did tell the Genie I can easily be bought with the mushroom soup and apple pie.  Cheap date. 
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