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Ken23

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  1. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Go right ahead!  The more that start early, the more attention it takes off me.  Isn't that right @Matt? lol
  2. Love
    Ken23 reacted to Rags1 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Well, actually we’ll fly on down, but you get the idea.
    Warnings/Disclaimers:  This blog is the sole opinions and thoughts of just the old guy who is writing it.  It doesn't reflect the thoughts, opinions, clarity, good sense or tact possessed by those sailing with me.  And to be clear, I don’t have the sense of humor, literary skills, or good judgement of most of you who post these live blogs.  But I'm going to do it anyway.  I guess I can be labeled as a “lurker” on this site.  I read it daily but have made only a few comments.  So today I take the plunge and become one of you by just jumping in the deep end with a live blog! 
    Two weeks from today I will be in the air traveling from Palm Springs, California to Miami to begin our next Star Class adventure.  In 2017 we sailed on the Oasis in a crown loft suite and thought we had found the ultimate way to cruise.  But no, there was more to discover!  In 2018 we booked another crown loft, this time on the Allure.  A month or so later while checking for a price reduction I stumbled across something called the.Royal loft Suite!  After watching a quick YouTube video of that suite I quickly booked it.  YOLO as someone on this blog always says.  We sailed in July with Dave Mac as our Genie and there was no turning back.  In May of 2019 we cruised in the RLS on the Harmony with the amazing, wonderful Ariceli who I think has spoiled us for life!  As I said, there’s no turning back now so two weeks from tomorrow we will be in the RLS on the “new” Oasis and will have Allan as our Genie.  
    If this blog goes as planned you will see and hear much about each of us and what we will be doing during the week. So let me introduce our merry band of sailors:
    Stacy, my bride and partner.  I many times refer to her as Pollyanna, which is defined as “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.”  Defines her to a T.  She sees the good in everything and everyone.  Poor thing. My Pollyanna uses those traits everyday as she toils as an RN, or BSN to be accurate, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.  She is our cruise planner, specializing in the culinary aspects of the Star Class experience.  As she takes her break from those 12 hour shifts at the hospital she will be seen around the ship with a permanent smile on her face and a blended Love Connection drink in her hand.  I expect she will pop in on this blog and provide you with some of her excessive cheerfulness!
    Shari who I refer to as Polyanna2.  Yeah, no kidding.  Another one.  Stacy’s identical twin sister.  The Oasis is a big ship but I’m not sure there’s room enough for this goodness!  She and her family have cruised with us the last three trips but this time she will leave them behind at jobs and school while she gets a well deserved week of relaxation. Shari is the 24/7 caregiver for her mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. That’s a task where that Pollyanna thing coms in pretty handy.  I expect the twins to be side by side everyday and although they act and talk alike you can tell them apart by their hands.  Shari’s will be holding a Bud Light!
    Daughter Taylor, almost 21. Young T, as I call her, is a preschool teacher with with a gaggle of I think 3 year olds.  Can you imagine?  A classroom full of germ carrying, tantrum throwing, runny nosed 3 year olds and Taylor is too young to drink!  T is the calm, chill one in the group.  She gets that from me.  You will find her sleeping late, spending lazy days in the sun and with one of two things in her hand.  Her Starbucks or a virgin Pina Colada.  I told our Genie that I think T holds the Harmony record for most virgin Pina Coladas consumed in one week!  We might also find her in the casino which she discovered last year. 
    Daughter Kaitlyn, 30 something.  The party girl of the bunch. She is also a nurse like her mom. But she is in the other Intensive Care Unit – the one for adults.  Same hospital as her mom.  On December 19th Katie received her Doctorate of Nurse Practioner degree which we will be celebrating on the cruise.  So now she has more letters behind her name:  Dr. Taylor, RN, BSN, DNP, EIEIO. I asked the Genie for time in the engine room for this one because she can talk and drink like a seasoned sailor!  You’ll recognize her by her flaming red hair the the gin and tonic in her hand.  Or a Margarita. Or a vodka and soda.  Or…well you get the idea. 
    Rounding our our group is yours truly, Jim. The quiet one of the group.  I will usually be found on that massive balcony at our suite, on the quiet suite sun deck or in the suite lounge.  With a Jack Daniels and sprite in one hand and a camera in the other. My plan is to try and share as much here in words and photos as I can.  I have enjoyed and learned so much from reading others blogs here so I hope to return that favor.  I’m sure much of the blog will deal with Star Class aspects as I try to justify why we spend a bazillion dollars every year to do this!  I will be doing Genie recon for those sailing after us and will certainly try to answer questions anyone has once we board.  We plan on eating everywhere except the Chef’s Table this year. We’ll even work in the MDR for a breakfast or lunch and a couple of trips to the Jammer.  I think we will do all of the shows. Even Cats.  Yep, I’m gonna do it.  I’ll spend the afternoon in the suite lounge slamming the Jack and sprites and then go experience the feline extravaganza!  We have no plans for Cozumel or Falmouth. Just maybe a little shopping and back on the ship.  We are looking forward to Labadee which we all love.  A relaxing day on the suite beach.  
    In the lead up to our sail day I plan to share more about our travel plans, our night in Miami, our previous experiences with RC and how we survive the Miami airport as we disembark on Super Bowl Sunday.  I might have to involve Jack in breakfast plans that morning!  I know its somewhat early to post but I’m hoping we can all share and get to know each other by our sail date. It’s not too early by Matt or Sabrina’s standards but it is early!
    So come along for the ride with this crazy bunch as we embark on our 3rd Star Class adventure. It’s a long way from my first sailing on the Song of Norway.
  3. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AnnetteJackson in RCB Group Cruise 2020 Questions?   
    Hey - as I sit at SeaTac right now!
    Group cruises - I wish we could post all the group events when we start out the gate, but because the numbers in the group change, we cannot lock in some of our items with the ship until after final payment.  Matt did give a link to group events as an example, but we try to have a meet up each day.  We never want to force anyone to eat dinner at a certain time so we try to avoid meal times.  We use an app for those that are on wifi so that we can give you changes and reminders about group events, but for those that are not on wifi, I will make sure you have a printed schedule as well as notecards along the cruise  so you have reminders of items and locations.
    Groups - the people are the best!
    Excursions - I always say book what you want to do just in case.  Make sure you can cancel if you decided to do a group excursion with us - but always your choice.  For an example, we have not announced the Group Shore Excursion for NYE on Freedom yet.  It can take several weeks after everyone makes final to lock some of the events in place.... but trust me... we try to make it fun for everyone!
  4. Haha
    Ken23 reacted to cookingyo in RCB Group Cruise 2020 Questions?   
    RCBlog group cruises are fun.  There are a lot of adult activities, we sometimes have cake, we definitely have booze, we also play Jenga and do shots, and try to get the pub singer to hate us.  And as an added bonus you get to hang with the Cookingyo family.  Well worth the price of admission to a group cruise. 🤣🤣🤣
     
  5. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from ellcee in Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise New Year's 2020 onboard Freedom of the Seas   
    It's getting real now.   Some from the group are already arriving into San Juan.
    See ya all on Saturday.
  6. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Day 6 — Subic Bay
    Another morning, another tasty breakfast at Silver dining. We docked in Subic, Philippines, at a former US Naval base that had been returned to the Philippine government after the catastrophic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991. Even though this was a docking port instead of tendering, we still chose a Royal excursion. Mostly because all the close-in stuff to do involves duty free shopping and that’s just not our thing.

    We chose the Puning Hot Spring and Jungle Adventure tour. Turned out to be a slightly misleading name, and the whole thing was not so much disorganized as badly communicated, but we enjoyed it anyway. Also, we ended up back to the ship late. Oops, again.
    The welcome show:

    Scenes in the town of Angeles on our way up to the hot spring:


    Our transport part of the way:

    Jungle:


    Dinner in the MDR, which was lobster night (lobster for MisterZ, Stir-Fried Beef for me):


    After two full days of touring we were a bit tired, so our evening was low key and we turned in early.
  7. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Ilocos pt. 2
    As promised, real photos!
    Laoag Cathedral (St William’s Cathedral), built 1612:


    Sinking Bell Tower, built 1612, sinks 1” per year:

    Ilocos Norte Capital building, dressed for Christmas:

    Moto-taxis, hold 2 passengers in the side car and one sitting side-saddle behind the driver:

    Paoay Church, built 1694:


    The only shot we got of the inside:

    Because wedding!

     
  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    @Sweety, this one is for you! No red velvet cake so far, but this red velvet cheesecake sure was good! Dining room night 6

     
  9. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Sichuan Red
    We wanted to try the specialty restaurant Sichuan Red during this trip, since it is currently only found on Spectrum. It makes sense a ship built for China would have a Chinese restaurant, particularly Sichuan cuisine (southern and spicy). It was $35 per person, with a few upsale menu items. The $35 included a cold appetizer, a hot entree, a soup, and either a side dish or a dessert. However, there were a number of substitutions you could make, like the broccoli entree instead of a side dish. The server was patient in explaining our options. Also, if you bought an upcharge item, it came in addition to all the other food. It ended up be one metric crap-ton of food (that’s a specific technical measurement on this side of the world 😉 ).
    It was fantastic! If you don’t like at least a bit of spicy, this restaurant is not for you. But if you can handle it, everything we ate was amazing! If you get a chance, eat here for sure!


    Sour & Spicy Soup:

    Not even all the food we had. From top right — fruit appetizer (in case the pickles were too spicy), Chinese Lettuce Leaves with Sesame Paste Dipping Sauce, Green Pepper Chicken, Assorted Pickles, Sour & Spicy Soup, Mapo Tofu, Wok-Fried Chicken with Chilis, and Crispy Fried Sea Scallops (center, $25 upcharge). Not pictured: white rice, Sichuan Spicy Noodles, Stir-Fried Garlic Broccoli

    Spectrum does not currently offer any dining packages, FYI
  10. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from AshleyDillo in Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise New Year's 2020 onboard Freedom of the Seas   
    It's getting real now.   Some from the group are already arriving into San Juan.
    See ya all on Saturday.
  11. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from iluvwineandtravel in Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise New Year's 2020 onboard Freedom of the Seas   
    It's getting real now.   Some from the group are already arriving into San Juan.
    See ya all on Saturday.
  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Iluv4n6 in Looking Forward to ABCs Next Week   
    Hi -- Wife and I are excited to visit the ABC islands next week as part of the Freedom group cruise.  Based on the helpful info on these boards, we're planning:
    Curacao - RC Fascinating Curacao excursion -  hope we can get up on 1/1 for the 11:15 AM curacao tasting tour, LOL.  Hit Mambo beach area and group event.
    Aruba - Head up to the Eagle beach area--no formal excursion.  Group event in the evening.
    Bonaire - RC Mangrove and Beach excursion - looking forward to seeing lots of exotic (for us) sea birds and especially flamingos.  
    Besides the ABCs:
    St Martin - Taxi up to the French side and probably hang out at Grand Case beach.  Will also want to see how Orient Beach area might be recovering some.  We've visited this great island a couple times previously and will see about heading up to the French side along the east shore instead of the longer loop through Maho Beach/airport area.
    Also looking forward to meeting other bloggers!
     
  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to iluvwineandtravel in Royal Caribbean Blog Group Cruise New Year's 2020 onboard Freedom of the Seas   
    Hi All,
    I am sure others will blog about this one, but I thought I would join along.  My track record tells me that it probably won't be quite live, but I will capture my experiences and catch up on the plane ride home from San Juan if nothing else!
    I have had this cruise booked for more than 2 years now after the RCL blog cruise was first announced.  Despite this being our 30th cruise or so, this is our first time on Freedom Class.  We initially booked a balcony cabin, and then I downgraded to an inside cabin to save money.  We are the type of cruisers who enjoy a balcony, but it depends on the price difference in the cost.  We are perfectly happy in an inside cabin, even in Alaska which is one of our favorite itineraries.  I ended up doing royal up and getting upgraded back to an aft corner balcony a few months ago and we are thrilled with that!!!  I also went back and forth on the drink package with this being a group cruise, but after weighing the pros and cons and decided to forgo the package and just depend on diamond drinks, my two bottles of wine,  drinking in port on this very port intensive itinerary, and we are going to do Chef's table on new year's eve.   
    We are typically my time dining people, but because we are with the group and in port late many days, we switched he second seating to sit with the group.   That said, we also have a 3 night dining package so will likely only be eating in the main dining room 2 or 3 nights this cruise which is unusual for us.   
    Here are the plans so far:
    We fly from Cincinnati/Norther KY airport very early saturday morning and arrive in San Juan in mid afternoon.  We will be staying at the Hyatt house ( using hyatt points).   After checking into the hotel, we will venture into old San Juan have some food and drinks and then meed up with the group.  
    Embarkation is later than normal on Sunday.  We will eat breakfast at the hotel, and then we are are heading to Bacardi for the Mixology tour.  Our status with Hyatt house gives us a late 2pm check out, so we will head back mid afternoon and then head towards Freedom.   The welcome aboard party is at 4:30, muster at 7pm, and then we have a 8pm seating with our 3 night dining package. 
    Here is the proposed itinerary for the rest of the week journey. 

     
     
     
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Pima1988 in Royal Up Bid   
    +1000 times in agreement.
    We actually don't even do the gty unless there is a huge price variance.  However, because we book sooooo far out, we have never seen a real variance.  Maybe a couple of hundred, thus we opt to pick our cabin, I would rather spend that money on a cabin I choose than have them place me in a cabin under the WJ.
  15. Like
    Ken23 reacted to WannaCruise in Adventure - Dec 15th - Review of 6 Night   
    Evening Production Shows
    One of my favorite things about cruising is going to dinner and a show each night.  One thing that differs on Voyager class vs Oasis class is that is is not an issue getting a good seat.  First, there was no reserved seating in the main level, which meant those seats were available.  (Reserved seating must have been the on the balcony).  Also, you could arrive close to show time and still get a close seat (although we always arrived 20-30 minutes early).
    The first night had only one showing of the Welcome Aboard show.  This is also the first time you see the cruise director (Drew Devine).  The show had a small ballroom dance act, but then they had the headliner comedian come out for a bit for the family show  Later in the evening, he did the adult comedy show.  He was quite good.
    I was surprised that on a 6 night cruise, there was only one production show called Can't Stop the Rock.  I find the Royal produced shows a bit cheesy, but still enjoyable.  The Royal singers and dancers are very talented.  Funny enough, I don't remember much about this show (so guess it wasn't that memorable), but there were songs that I recognized and still enjoyed it at the time.

    Adventure has an Ice Show called Cool Art Hot Ice (or something like that).  The ice shows are always great, but I'll say that if I were to rate all the ones that I've seen, this one would probably be on the lower end. It wasn't bad and the skaters were impressive, but it didn't stand out like the others I've seen (Mariner's is fun, Navigator and Symphony have the drones and neat effects, Independence has the different years through the decades, Allure has Monopoly theme).  But for anyone going, I still say don't miss it.
    Another night, they had an Elton John impersonator.  He was really good and it was like we were seeing a live Elton John concert. He had the look, the dress,  the moves, and the voice.  Pretty cool!  
    On the second last night, they had a hypnotist where brave volunteers from the audience went on stage to be hypnotized.  The group started with about 35 people, and by the end, they were down to about 10-12 who were following along with the act.  Don't know if the thing was real or not, but I will say that it was hilarious.  And I bow to those brave people who didn't mind making a fool of themselves.
    The last night was the Farewell show, and again, they had a different comedian that ran most of the show.  And later, he also did an adult show.  He was quite funny.
    You never know the headliners you will get, but I think we were pretty lucky as they were all really enjoyable and fun.
  16. Like
    Ken23 reacted to WannaCruise in Adventure - Dec 15th - Review of 6 Night   
    Embarkation
    Adventure was parked at terminal 29 at Port Everglades.  We passed the lovely Allure on the way, but still felt the "wow" feeling when we we saw Adventure....that feeling when you see the ship waiting for you for the first time.  Our last two cruises were at the new terminal at Miami and this one was much more plain looking, but everything was still pretty quick and smooth.  Even though we had a suite booked, they told us to wait in our C&A section.  But then they started boarding at 10:30am and so we were one of the first groups called and we were on the ship by 10:40am.  Not bad!
  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Second sighting of the Stowaway Piano Player! First was crammed in an alcove outside the Royal Theater two nights ago, picture not possible. Here he’s in front of the lower level of the Music Hall. He’s quite good!

     
  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Northstar costs money on sailings out of China. We decided to use some of our OBC to book the extended trip — $40 per person. We’ve not been on a ship with a Northstar before so we were looking forward to it. The day was beautiful, too!


    Here you can see The Balcony, a Gold suite exclusive sun deck (center) and the observation area over the bridge wings (off the Solarium):

    A crew member hamming it up for us 😉

     
  19. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Squeeeeeeeeee! Our first block! 

  20. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Okinawa
    We are not going ashore today, since we live in Japan and have been to Okinawa, However, I know people are interested in the port, so here are some photos from our last trip here. These (after the first shot, anyway) are taken on a Sony RX-10 III for those whore are interested. Also, all of these shots are from places easily accessible from a Royal shore excursion.
    Port:

    Naha:

    Fukushuen Garden:



    Shurijo Castle (before it burned down, under reconstruction currently):

    Gyokusendo Cave:

    A Muscovy Duck, which you can find all over the place as an invasive species:

    A fun restaurant sign in Naha:

     
  21. Love
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    It might be the three stoutly-poured Royal Margaritas talking,  but I have to take a moment to say...
    I am having the BEST day!

    First, on the ship when everyone else is on shore — always amazing!
    Second, this is the BEST SITE! Thank you @Matt and everyone else who makes this forum a fun, safe place to indulge in my cruise obsession!
    Having so much fun doing this blog!
  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    About power outlets and HDMI ports, since these are regular topics of discussion!
    In our Silver Junior Suite, we have the following power outlets.
    On the desk:

    Under the TV:
    By the right side of the bed:

    In the bathing room and again in the toilet room:

    For the TV, if you have small hands, you can access the HDMI and USB ports on the back of the TV. You’ll still need to bring a universal remote to change the input:

     
     
  23. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in Beverages - Spiked Seltzer on board?   
    I always start my cruises with the best intentions..vodka, soda with lime..but eventually I give in to the allure of the frozen drinks and then it's all downhill from there..might as well indulge in all the good food onboard as well, too! 😂
    But my fridge at home is all spiked seltzer..a variety of brands representing whichever was on sale recently or available at my local close-out store.
    It is becoming more and more popular and more and more companies are coming out with versions of it.  I can also find it one variety at least on tap at a lot of my usual taphouses now.
  24. Like
    Ken23 reacted to monctonguy in D lounge   
    Don't change it anytime soon please!!!!!..I will be about 2 cruises(7 nighters) away from Diamond after 2020..quite a feat considering I have only done once a 7 night cruise..most of my cruises have been 4 nighter's...taking awhile but I want my Diamond perks!!
  25. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Thanks for you Live Blog @KristiZ.  I am on Spectrum in JS in March, and am curious with all the differences.  
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