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    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    A quick comment on Japanese ports/immigration...
    We live in Japan. I love it, for the most part. HOWEVER, if there’s one thing the Japanese love it is structure. And rules. And procedure. And process. 
    That said, our trip into Okinawa warrants a special, separate post. So here we go.
    This is exactly the second time in all my cruising where booking a shore excursion through Royal has proven to be the VASTLY superior option. There are always benefits to it, but in Japan (when it’s your first Japanese port of the trip, at least) you gain at least two hours of shore time. That’s crazy!
    Japan requires a face-to-face immigration process, regardless of whether you will leave the ship or not. For us, as “reentry” guests, we met in Star Moment and were escorted to the area Japanese immigration had set up on the ship before anyone else. There were about 25 people who met this criteria, either Japanese citizens or residents of some kind. It still took nearly 30 minutes to get through. MisterZ called the process “the stupidest thing ever”, since we were planning to stay on the ship anyway. Oh, and we will have to go back at 5pm to do the departure process as well. Yay?
    For everyone else, there were three categories of guests. First, those on a Royal excursion, who got taken through immigration in their tour groups right away. Second, those who booked through a group travel agency deal — those people also got to go through early on, to head out on their excursions, although after the Royal excursions. Third, everyone who thought “on your own” was a good idea. Had we gone this route, our clearance time for Immigration was 12:45pm, after docking at 10:30am. Granted, we were the second to last group, but still... wow.
    tl;dr — always book an excursion through Royal for your first Japanese port on a cruise that includes Japan!
  2. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Cabin 7638 — Silver Junior Suite
    Here’s the cabin tour! I really like this one. We’ve been in Junior Suites on several other ships but this one seems very efficient in its use of space. 
    At the door:

    From the back corner:

    The TV/desk area:

    The tub side of the bathing room. There is a separate shower to the left of the photo. There is a completely separate toilet room as well, with another sink:

    The balcony. Dividers can be opened on either side if you’re traveling with others:

  3. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Cruise day! I’m up by 6am, looking at the foggy Hong Kong sunrise. MisterZ is NOT interested in getting up yet so I’ll take the time to talk about the itineraries. 
    Day 1 — depart Hong Kong Day 2 — at sea Day 3 — Okinawa, Japan  Day 4 — at sea Day 5 — Ilocos, Philippines  Day 6 — Subic Bay, Philippines  Day 7 — at sea Day 8 — HK turnaround Day 9 — at sea Day 10 — Danang, Vietnam Day 11 — at sea Day 12 — arrive Hong Kong This is our first back-to-back. This is also the first cruise we have been on where the ship was the focus; we usually cruise based completely on the ports. This is also the largest ship we’ve been on. Explorer was the biggest before this. Lots of firsts!
  4. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KristiZ in Spectrum of the Seas - 22DEC19 - Hong Kong B2B   
    Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! It’s FINALLY cruise time! 
    We are headed to Hong Kong to board Spectrum for a back-to-back, 7 days to Japan and Philippines and then 4 days to Vietnam.
    Our bags are packed:

    We fly from Tokyo, where we currently live, to Hong Kong today on Cathay Pacific. The flight is about 5 hours with a one hour time change. Cathay Pacific is generally a solid choice for flying around the region and the weather forecast is decent, so we should have a smooth day <knocks on all the wooden things>

    One 22” suitcase, one 24”, and a backpack. The only reason for the backpack is to hold MisterZ’s work laptop (boo!) and his Child (otherwise known as his camera — details on this later if I can cajole him into giving me some photos for this blog). 
    And we’re off!
  5. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in Emerald Recognition Pin?   
    I'd mention it to an officer.  Have you had the top tier yet?  Politely ask to speak to the hotel director or ask guest services to tell the HD to call you.  On Oasis class the HD has an executive assistant that handles a lot of the daily stuff as well.  Even they would be a good position to mention it to.
    If she is that way with you she is probably that way with other guests and there is an opportunity for some additional training or re-assignment into a more suitable position.  If enough people speak up they will listen and take it seriously.  
    Otherwise she will just go on like that and other guests will get the same treatment.  Don't wait until you are home, deal with it on board.  
  6. Like
    Ken23 reacted to TJ! in 19 days before my first cruise & flight ever!!!   
    Hello Everyone,
    I've been on this blog for several months now so i'm still considered fairly new to this community.
    This has been an absolutely blessing with all the helpful & kind members to the plethora of information!
    My cruise has finally come to fruition after a decade of day dreaming! I am 19 days away!
    I will be sailing on Symphony of the Seas with Ocean View Balcony 7 days. (I have never left California, flown an airline, or cruised before)
    I've bought my S/O a osmo pocket because she was inspired to be a travel vlogger after being inspired by all the youtube videos. (smh)
    We have a connecting flight from CA -> TX -> FL the night before the cruise and have a hotel booked for the night.
    Return flight is also connecting from FL -> AZ - > FL
    Sailing on the 4th.
    My Question:
    Is there any tips/advice/suggestions/warnings for my journey from land to sea? 
  7. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in An Amplified Agglomeration of Oasis Pictures - Post Amplification   
    A huge change for Oasis of the Seas is the addition of the Perfect Storm water slides.

    The entrance and stairs for all three slides is on deck 15 port side.


    The slides are a lot of fun and they've been open even on port days when there are no lines and you can slide and slide again.

  8. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in An Amplified Agglomeration of Oasis Pictures - Post Amplification   
    The reason I ventured into the arcade above was to find my way into the teen club, Social 298.
    Out of respect I waited until turn around day so as to avoid running into any teens or interfering with the use of their space.
    Honestly it took me a couple of laps around deck 15 aft to find the entrance.  Maybe that's a sign of my age but I eventually came across this mysterious door in the back of the arcade.

    They had the various monitors off so you don't get the full effect.

    Social 298 has its own outdoor space on the aft near the sports deck area.

    The outdoor space for Social 298 is in the middle between port and starboard near where you can sit and look over the boardwalk to the left in this picture.

    From the starboard side:

    It looks like a nice space to hangout but before I say anymore and cause eyerolls across the nation I'll quit here.
  9. Like
    Ken23 reacted to twangster in An Amplified Agglomeration of Oasis Pictures - Post Amplification   
    The new Diamond Club located on deck 4.

    The brand new lounge is fresh with modern decor.  It's actually a really nice venue.

    The club includes two workstations and a printer.  The new Oasis doesn't currently have an internet lounge or computer area in any public place on the ship.  For Diamond and above members this will be the place to print those boarding passes. 

    Water is available throughout the day.

    The popular specialty coffee maker is available in the new lounge.

    Like Harmony and Symphony, the Diamond Concierge has their desk near the entrance. 

  10. Like
    Ken23 reacted to FionaMG in Live-ish + RECAP. Thanksgiving Adventure on Adventure OTS, 23 Nov to 1 Dec 2019   
    My pleasure. Thanks for following. 😊
    The next one is going to to be from your end of the world, but not till spring 2021. We have to save up first because we want to spend a few days doing touristy stuff in New York before cruising.
  11. Like
    Ken23 reacted to DanielB in Great Mail Day!   
    Going on the Oasis on January 12th and got the following goodies in the mail from my MEI Travel Agent.  Thanks @StephanieH
    Water Bottle, Zipper pouch, pen and 2 luggage tags.
    Anyone looking for a great TA...her info is attached in the pic 🙂

  12. Like
    Ken23 reacted to amanuel2992 in Star Struck...Star Class on Allure 1/12/20   
    Hi my name is Amanda. My family and I are booked in the royal loft suite and my in laws have the owners pan in our upcoming allure sailing!!! 30 days!!! This is our 3rd Star class sailing but for  my parents this will be their first star class experience. I’m doing this semi live review because before our first star class cruise in March we searched all the boards for reviews on star class so we knew what to expect and I wanted to help others! So if anyone has any questions fire away and I’ll help anyway I can. I’m beyond excited to share this experience with my parents. They luckily have cruised  royal before with us, so I at-least know that they like cruising.
        Our first star class cruise was in March 2019 on Harmony in the Royal loft suite and we had Araceli as our genie  and she was by far amazing! She set the bar so high for genies. I honestly felt like I had it the jackpot of genies! She is wonderful with kids as our daughter is 5 and she made her trip so special. If your lucky enough to ever have her as your genie your in for a real treat.    Our second star class cruise was on Allure in September 2019 in the deck 8 Aqua 2 bedroom, our genies name was Agostina. We really did like her but as I said Araceli had set the bar extremely high and we now had an idea of how we expected star class to go. She did really well but I learned to just be very direct in what we wished to happen or what food we wanted sent to the room. Just be very clear on that and your trip will go really well. Our daughter Lexi loved her, she spent extra time making Lexi feel comfortable and kept doing little surprises for her to make our trip magical!      So for this cruise we have already filled out the pre cruise star class questionnaire and we just found out we have Luciano Santos!!! 
  13. Like
    Ken23 reacted to AshleyDillo in Cococay food   
    There's a plain crispy chicken sandwich and there's one dressed with a special aoili sauce.
    There's also a hidden menu option for a chicken parmesan sandwich..basically they service mozzarella sticks there that come with marinara for dipping..top the plain chicken sandwich with that and a couple of mozzarella sticks and voila..chicken parmesan sandwich.
  14. Like
    Ken23 reacted to FionaMG in Live-ish + RECAP. Thanksgiving Adventure on Adventure OTS, 23 Nov to 1 Dec 2019   
    Well the internet seems to be working much better now. Looks like they may actually have managed to fix it. Fingers crossed.
    Dinner tonight was very nice. The menu was presented like a rolled-up scroll, tied with a yellow ribbon. The wait staff were collecting them after taking the orders but I asked if I could keep it. 😁

    I started with the sweet potato and butternut squash soup, which was very good.

    The beef wellington was excellent, very tender and tasty. Luckily we ordered it done medium rare; I think if we had asked for medium well it would probably have been too dry.

    And for dessert, since I couldn't decide between the pumpkin pie and the pecan tart, I just asked for both! 😀 They were very good. It was just a pity I was too full to finish them!

  15. Like
  16. Like
    Ken23 reacted to FionaMG in Live-ish + RECAP. Thanksgiving Adventure on Adventure OTS, 23 Nov to 1 Dec 2019   
    It's fly to Miami day! 😆
    We are enjoying the hotel's included breakfast before walking over to the airport. It is a very good breakfast for a hotel of this category. There are hot items too and an espresso machine in addition to the filter coffee. 

  17. Like
    Ken23 reacted to FionaMG in Live-ish + RECAP. Thanksgiving Adventure on Adventure OTS, 23 Nov to 1 Dec 2019   
    In the words of the old John Denver song – “All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go”! I’m not quite standing outside the door yet though since we don’t set off until tomorrow afternoon.
    We (myself and DH Fernando) will be flying from our local airport – Faro, in the Algarve, which is mainland Portugal’s southernmost province – to Lisbon, where we will overnight at the Star Inn Lisbon Airport Hotel. We have stayed here twice before. It is less than a five-minute walk from the terminal and offers a very decent included breakfast. I would definitely recommend it as a good option if you just need a room for the night in Lisbon before an early flight.
    While this overnight is not strictly essential, it does mean we avoid the dreaded 3 am start to catch the 6 am feeder flight, which would then be followed by a 4-hour layover in Lisbon. Not a great start to a holiday and guaranteed to have us arriving in Miami utterly exhausted.
    On this particular occasion it will also give us the chance to go and see the Portuguese version of the musical Chicago, which is showing in Lisbon at the moment.
    Our flight to Miami International departs from Lisbon at 10.35 on Thursday morning, arriving stateside at 2.55 pm. We are flying on TAP, the Portuguese flag-carrier, who are operating the flight with one of their very new Airbus Neo aircraft, so that will be an interesting change from the much older and very tired airbuses they previously used for this route.
    On arrival we will try to Uber or Lyft to the Best Western Plus Oceanside Inn in Fort Lauderdale for a two-night pre-cruise stay. We have stayed here before too and find it to be a pleasant and reasonably-priced option within walking distance of just about everything you could need, as well as offering a very decent included breakfast. Yes, there’s a pattern here. We do prefer included breakfasts!
    We are hoping that the weather will cooperate and we will be able to spend the day on Friday riding the water taxi.
    Saturday the 23rd is Cruise Day. We are aiming to board at about 1 pm, just as the cabins open up. The morning will probably be spent relaxing by the hotel pool. For us, the hotel stay is part of our overall holiday and we prefer the comfort and convenience of boarding later, so we don’t feel that we are missing out by not getting to the port earlier.
    Our ports of call on the 8-night cruise are Labadee, San Juan Puerto Rico, St Thomas and St Maarten. We have booked one excursion through the ship – the 5-star island tour in St Thomas – and will be doing our own thing in the other three ports. We have also booked the 3-night speciality dining package so will be looking to eat twice in Giovanni’s and once in Chops. No Izumi for us as we don’t like sushi and Adventure does not have the hot rocks option.
    At the end of the cruise we will book an excursion with airport drop-off; we just haven’t decided which one yet. Again, the convenience is the deal-breaker for us.
    I will try and post at least once a day, including pics of the daily compass and menus, and I will be very happy to try and find the answer to any questions while we are on board, so feel free to ask.
    Oh, and one last very important note to close on for this evening… This will be our very first cruise as Diamond C&A members. Uber-excited would be an understatement.
  18. Like
    Ken23 reacted to KWofPerth in Ovation passengers caught up in volcanic eruption   
    For anyone considering a cruise to NZ, please please please don't let this tragic incident put you off. I have travelled New Zealand a few times and it is a magical place. I even experienced some earthquake aftershocks (late 2011) and this has not put me off revisiting in the future.
    The Kiwis are big of heart, with amazing natural landscapes and a brilliant culture. I look forward to my next trip there and showing my kids around.
  19. Like
    Ken23 reacted to F1guynz in Ovation passengers caught up in volcanic eruption   
    Due to the change itinerary RCI is giving passengers a refund of 1 day for their cruise fare.

  20. Sad
    Ken23 reacted to F1guynz in Ovation passengers caught up in volcanic eruption   
    The injured are currently in various hospitals around New Zealand. A number have severe burn injuries including inhalation burns requiring assisted breathing.
    It is expected that some of the people with the worst injuries will not survive.
    Authorities are also looking to move some of the victims back to Australia to be treated so they can be closer to their families.
    Last night New Zealand police took DNA samples from the cabins of the missing passengers to help identify the missing and injured.
    Included in the missing is a family of 4 from Sydney.
    6 confirmed dead 8 missing, presumed dead 30 are in hospital - 24 are in four regional burns units and the other six will be transferred as soon as possible 3 have been discharged The police on going onto White Island today to attempt to retrieve the bodies for identification purposes. Due to the injuries suffered it has been very difficult to identify the bodies and injured.
  21. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Momof4crazytocruise in Ovation passengers caught up in volcanic eruption   
    The thing about this is - I totally would have picked this excursion if I were on that itinerary. Volcanoes are fascinating. I've been up Kilimanjaro twice. It's still active, and there are steam vents. We were repeatedly reassured that it was safe, there was risk involved, but we accepted it. And I would do it again. Yellowstone is amazing. It could blow anytime. It is a risk we accept for adventure. That ship you're on is more at risk of sinking than odds of a volcano eruption during the short period of time you're viewing it. It's a risk, they knew it when they went, but the odds were highly in the direction of safer rather than not, when it comes down to such a short time of exposure. I also cannot predict when a car will crash into mine, or the airplane I am travelling in will crash. But I accept the risk because I cannot control the things I cannot control, and I won't let the fear of the unknown deprive me experiences. 
  22. Like
    Ken23 reacted to Jason12 in Oasis 8 dec trip report ** Semilive**   
    Bumped into @JetlaggedAgain and his wife quite shocked at the news because we meet in the plane and chatted,  today they were tucking into a Italian lunch both seemed in good spirits, I gave him some pointers on how to push a wheelchair as I’ve been doing it a long time and there’s a knack to it 😁
    all the best 
    ps I’ve still got more chocolates if it helps 😎
  23. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from JBC1 in Spectrum Silver Lounge   
    Looking forward to your posts...and ty in advance.  
  24. Like
    Ken23 got a reaction from KristiZ in Spectrum Silver Lounge   
    Looking forward to your posts...and ty in advance.  
  25. Like
    Ken23 reacted to BaikG in Spectrum Silver Lounge   
    The Golden Suite benefits are a lot better in reality than on paper. The concierges are almost like genies in certain contexts and they make sure that international (non-Chinese) guests get treated like royalty. For example, we were the only international Gold Suite guests during my sailing so we got private bridge tours and more. Also, Golden Dining is different to CK but is also better in some ways like the fact that you can get the filet every night (with foie gras) and the ambience is a lot better than where it usually is on Q class.
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