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Everything posted by Ditchdoc

  1. Everyone has their priorities ... My and my wife's carry on is a book bag style back pack. It doubles as an on shore excursion bag for whatever adventure we take. Who know what my wife puts in hers ... lady stuff I guess. I carry documentation, keys, camera, and between the two back packs, two or three bottles of water each, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, meds if needed, a bathing suit if you plan on some pool time. I don't think you really need much else. Last cruise we also hand carried a wine tote. This is a small bag made specifically to hold two bottles of wine, corkscrew and a couple of glasses (plastic) if you like. After carrying it on board, we never opened one bottle and ended up carrying it back home. I doubt we will bother with the wine next time. Diamond status took care of about 95% of the alcohol consumption we care for. The other 5% is maybe a frozen drink by a pool during the day or a local beer in port. We do drink a lot of water. Carrying the limit of 12 bottles on board is a chore. Carrying 4-6 bottles between two people is not so bad. There are plenty of places around ship you can refill a travel cup with water. Empty plastic bottles can be refilled as well for excursions. I have seen some people with lightweight collapsible dolly's pulling around a case of water during boarding. That is still cumbersome to me. The over view goes something like this: About 10am is as early as you will board. Rooms open at 1 pm. That is only 3 hours. During that three hours you will probably have lunch. You will probably want to walk around the ship and sight see a bit including around the upper decks to take some pictures and so on. You just used up about 2 of those 3 hours. You may be tired of lugging those bags around and may want find a place to sit and people watch or sample a pool. By then the room will be open and with a little luck, your bag will be there waiting for you. Just how much do you really have to have for those three hours? How much do you really want to lug around. Carrying wine and water on board is the bulk of it.The odds of any of your bags being lost from port side to room are slim. I did have a mix up one time that made one bag late to the room, about 9 or 10 pm but that has been rare. As long as you don't have any contraband irons or power strips in your checked bags, you should be fine. Like I said ... everyone has their priorities. I like to balance my carry on some where between being ready to run a 5k and being a pack mule.
  2. I can't say I know how Anello feels about it. Many are saying he is devastated about it, as any rational person should be. But then, is any man that holds a child out an 11 story window rational? At first I felt sorry for him and his anguish is a suitable punishment. Now I am not so sure. Perhaps he should be trialed, convicted and spend the rest of his days in a PR prison. The man was apparently egregiously stupid.
  3. Up to twelve I think. it's hard.
  4. https://fox59.com/2020/01/17/royal-caribbean-says-video-unquestionably-proves-grandfather-knew-window-was-open-before-dropping-toddler/ In a nut shell: " Anello leans his upper-torso over the wooden railing and out of the window frame for approximately eight seconds. " " Anello stays in front of the open window, which was 11 decks high off the ground, while holding Chloe for approximately 34 seconds before she fell. " "Royal Caribbean says the “only reasonable conclusion from the video” is that Anello knew the window was open before lifting Chloe over the wooden rail and holding her out the open window for a “considerable period,” thus “recklessly endangering her life.” " To me .... 34 seconds is new ... and pretty dreadful.
  5. It might very well negate the need for life boats 🙂
  6. Central Park was nice. During the day it can be noisy between steel drum music and belly flop contests directly overhead.
  7. I think of my overall use of such devices. I have always been a 'techie', especially when it comes to electronics. I had video camcorders back in the days of VHS when the whole outfit took a small duffel bag to carry around and most new innovations since. I just checked my backup drive (a Terabyte plus these days) to find almost 100,000 photos and videos. I have had all kinds of grand ideas about editing and creating videos, slideshows and such. Most never happen. Probably my most notable collection of photos have been those I inherited or borrowed from family members, scanned, and created a collection of ancestors. Occasionally I browse a bit and say "Oh, I remember that!" We all have grand ideas that our photos and videos will be invaluable and we will be the next Sydney Pollock. Mostly, unless you do it for a living, all that expense and time lies in the digital nether somewhere and seldom if ever seen again. A few good photos are great mementos. A few might be 'print worthy' and end up framed on a wall somewhere or at least shared on FB or with friends. But honestly, I would seriously consider the value of spending hundreds of dollars on something that produces something that more often than not, is seldom if ever used. Phones have gotten where they produce very good photos for the average user and is probably all you will need.
  8. https://m.icruise.com/cabins/royal-caribbean-cruises-independence-of-the-seas-cabin-1102.html Kay this will help
  9. There are a number of companies that offer all inclusive cruises but Royal ain't one of them.
  10. Don't over think this. Just make sure you complete all the pre boarding on line. If you do that much and have all your documentation handy, boarding will go quickly no matter your room or Crown & Anchor status. Once boarding starts I don't think it's ever taken me more than maybe 10 minutes to board.
  11. The set sail is just the check in paperwork. If you have completed all the online check in (I think photos, passport info, CC info etc) and printed the set sail paper and/or downloaded the app which should the set sail info for everyone...that is all you need. When we boarded, we approached a lady I thought was going to direct us to one of the many check in lines. Instead, she scanned set sail pass, took our picture (facial recognition I think) and said we were done and could board. Check in too all of 30 seconds. We were on board early, about 10:30. Doors to the room hallways were closed until 1pm. At one, they opened, we walked to the room, our bags were at the open door to the room. The Seapass card you will use for the rest of the cruise is in the room for each person.
  12. Different strokes for different folks. I don't care much for water slides, candy stores or carousel rides. I like the connoisseur club where you have a a drink and a smoke a cigar. Not everyone is going to like what I like.
  13. RE the magnetic hooks. They do come in handy but deserve some caution. They are super strong. If two of them come close to each other and they connect (1) if any part of your body gets in between, they will pinch and potentially create blood blisters or tear skin and (2) good luck getting them apart without pliers/vise grips or something similar. The solution is obviously to use care in handling to keep them separated from each other. Next, find some kind of small, plastic container just large enough to hold one hook. I found some small containers in a hobby store with screw tops. Plastic Easter eggs might work. That kind of thing. The walls of the room are metal and these hooks are great for hanging all kinds of things like hats, light jackets and so on. I have a back pack book bag I use for carry on and for excursions etc. I placed a hook just above the room sofa and hung the pack from it while letting the bottom of the pack rest on the top of the sofa. Otherwise the weight of the bag would drag the hook down the wall. It made it really convenient to re-org as needed and helped keep the room neat.
  14. I do not like inconsiderate people. In a case like this I may have tolerated it once, maybe twice. Then I would have put on my pants and confronted them. Nothing weird or aggressive .. just an "OK guys, I know you are here to have a good time, but the next time you wake me up in the middle of the night, you, me and security are going to have a talk, so how bout showing some respect?" I'm a pretty big guy that lifts weights even if I am a bit over the hill and have a few years experience dealing with obnoxious people as a first responder. This usually produces results. If that is not your 'cup of tea' I would just call security directly. That is their job.
  15. I just got off a 7 day Harmony cruise. In the MDR, after I showed my Diamond status the first night, my waiters were very diligent and forgiving on cocktails. I'd ask for my "happy hour" drink (between 4:30 and 8pm) and they would provide it. They never counted it against the freebies on my card. Around ship at the various bars I got mixed results. I would again ask for a 'Happy Hour" drink and sometimes waiters would deduct from my 3 drinks sometimes not. Between the wife and I, I don't think we used all 6 drinks a single evening. The down side .... by the end of happy hour we were snookered and ready for bed 🙂
  16. Royal Math example .... "Cruise the Caribbean for a week, Kids sail free!. ONLY $629 based on double occupancy!" The family of five (Mom, Dad, 3 kids 12 and under) get excited. "All of us can go on a cruise for about $1258!!!" Then you find out no room other than some suite will hold five people or it takes two rooms. Then each person including "free" kids have to pay gratuities. Oops ... there is another $500+. Then each person including "free" kids have to pay taxes, fees, port expenses .... Oops ... there is another $1,000+ (paying taxes on 'free'?). Now the required room upgrade and every thing else amounts to $3,042.12+ with numerous said discounts. Well over twice the "hook" price. Then of course there is travel expenses etc to consider. Just doesn't seem fair for young families on a budget to get them excited only to have them find out they can't afford it.
  17. A number of tourist land marks damaged or destroyed Punta Ventana, was destroyed - this is a rocky point with a hole/opening/window. Much like an arch. It totally collapsed. Two other sites, Cueva Ventana and Ruinas del Faro, also suffered irreparable damage. Cueva Ventana is also known as Window Cave. I toured Window Cave just last week. I am not sure of the extent of the damage. Attached is one photo taken of the cave window view.
  18. Well, I do not want to discourage anyone. It was fun and this particular location was the 'main event' and it was packed. Pretty much every bar, by the pool and so on had their own countdown and celebration that I am sure was not as jammed packed. No doubt you could have found an area not as crowded and it would have been just as much fun.
  19. I don't think the solarium was ever completely packed. As always, there are 'choice' locations that can vary depending on individual tastes. Mostly there are lounge chairs, some groupings of sofa/chair combinations, a few with cushions. There were a few large chairs 'for two' with canopy overhead. The solarium is on at least three levels. The top level has a bar centrally located with covered, shade areas to each side with a combination of deck lounge and table/chairs for small groups that maybe want to play cards etc. The lower levels are partially shaded with an arching roof over head that is translucent, constructed in bands. If you look at a picture of the ship, the area above the bridge is it. This results in some direct sun and filtered shade across most of the solarium. What is choice or not is a personal preference but even on this sold out cruise I think you would have found a spot somewhere. I might also note the Solarium Bistro is located there and provides a nice lunch. In the past we ate almost all our breakfast and lunch meals in the Windjammer. This cruise we avoided it almost entirely. There are a half dozen places on the ship you can eat various meals with no surcharge. We tried most all of them and enjoyed the experience of not having to "fight for our food" in the Windjammer.
  20. Itinerary Initially, depart Port Canaveral, two days at sea, St Martian, San Juan PR, day at sea, CoCo Cay and Port Canaveral. Along the way, we were advised weather was an issue at CoCo Cay and it was dropped. Instead Port Canaveral, two days at sea, St Martian, San Juan PR, Labadee, day at sea and Port Canaveral. Cabin We had a balcony overlooking the interior Central Park. This was something new for us and it was OK. A few decks up were the pools and calypso music playing much of the day but in general it was quiet and serene. We miss seeing the ocean from our room as we are typically on an out side balcony. Truth be known, an empty ocean gets boring pretty quick but a balcony is nice at many ports and when land is in sight. On this trip we looked at trees and people strolling. We could not help but wonder how the all the plants faired when the ship repositioned or was subjected to cold weather. People The ship was full. About 6,500 guests. Of these is was said 2,000 were children (under 18 I assume). There were a LOT of teenagers and quite a few toddlers. This is the first cruise I have been on with this many kids. It was Christmas/New Year’s school break and that contributed. Royal has also redirected its marketing to entice a younger audience e.g. Parents with school age children as can be readily seen with the redesign of ships to include water slides, splash play areas and more to visibly attract a younger crowd. I personally like a more sedate experience free of screaming, yelling and crying children. At the same time, one cruise I was on a few years back was overwhelmed with wheelchairs and people using walkers. In either case, a high tolerance and consideration for crowds and lines is becoming the norm. If you take time to look around some of the nook and crannies on board, you can find areas more sedate. There is a running/walking track on deck 5 that is completely covered with occasional view of the ocean and lifeboats. One time around this uninterrupted track is about three quarters of a mile. There are also some alcoves with deck chairs and some stairways to a few out of the way spots seldom visited by most. Solarium Trying to find a quiet area is more difficult. The solarium is designated as above 16 only but this is often ignored. On Harmony the solarium is huge. Even so it was still crowded during peak times. Even though the solarium is large, the space is limited to deck chairs, a few tables and a couple of jacuzzies. There is no pool that is found on some of the older ships. New Years Celebration All over the ship there were activities. The primary party spot was on the Royal Promenade. Adjacent to the Schooner bar is a band stand/stage overlooking the promenade. This was the focal point. At first we claimed a seat in the Schooner Bar only to be told we had to leave due to a private function. Later we found out seats in the Schooner bar were being sold at $500 each for the New Years Calibration. A similar “private function” as held on the nearby Rising Tide Bar for $800 a seat. We moved a spot in front of one the shops and found a seat. We were there early and stayed there thorough midnight. The crowd grew and grew to the point of being a bit scary at times with people trying to hold their spot and other others trying to move about. I saw a couple of people fall or get jostled and end up on the deck. To their credit, those around backed up, gave them room and helped them up. No injuries noted. Just a bit scary. At midnight there was champagne and a balloon drop of hundreds if not thousands balloons suspended in nets at the ceiling. To one Royal waiter I give kudos for braving the crowd and trying to make sure as many as possible had a glass of bubbly at midnight, including ourselves. Food What a delight. Three decks adjacent to the three main dining levels are full of stainless-steel loaded kitchens. Pastry/deserts, a bread bakery, sauces, salads, entries, all have designated preparation spaces. No doubt much preparation/slicing and dicing is done in advance, many main dining room dishes are created to order. When you think of the guests and crew, about 60,000 meals are created each day. It is a true ‘food factory’ and I found the food quality to be average and better than many restaurants you may find around your hometown. The service was excellent. Occasionally there was an awkward delay in service but never a true inconvenience. Labadee and no CoCo Cay I didn’t particularly care one way or another. Its been a while since I visited CoCo Cay and I was interested in seeing the additions. Other than that, I have little interest in water parks and slides, etc. Labadee is a nice area. We got off the ship early and found us a nice shady spot at the edge of Nellies beach. We had a nice view of the water, shade and were some removed from the crowds, for about 45 minutes. As more and more people arrived, more chairs were set up around us as loud parents tried to keep excited kids corralled. I had hoped to read and nap. I did read a bit and to be honest, the kids and parents spent a lot of time in the water leaving the area relatively quiet at times. But so much for a “lazy” day on the beach. As Diamond members we are fortunate to have access to most all the alcohol we care to drink in the evenings and we seldom drink during the day. On Labadee we decided to indulge in a frozen cocktail. I had a Pinta Colada while my wife had a frozen Margarita. These were 8-ounce plastic cups, nothing special other than being frozen, they were $12 each. Our entire week on board we spent $87, most of which went to two bottles of Sheridan (a liquor not sold in the US and goes great as a toast or on deserts) and these two drinks. Pricing I know many have deeper pockets than I do and Royal certainly caters to those well off with art auctions, gambling, high end multi-level suits with a private conseriege, and private cabanas on private islands with prices that surge well into the thousands of dollars. At the same time there is a lot to be done for free and at “special occasion” prices. There are several shops that at various times tout “duty free”, 30%, 50% and 75% off. You can find a few good deals, especially on liquor. Watches, jewelry and such are generally so overpriced that even the deep discounts only bring them inline with what you can buy almost anywhere else. Occasionally some one does win big in the casino on board. Generally, the slot machine odds are set so low that the only real winner is Royal. US Customs in Port Canaveral No doubt this can vary and I am sure it does from time to time. When we disembarked we had our passports. We briefly stood in front of a camera that use facial recognition. Within about 3 seconds we were told to “pass”. That was it. We picked up our luggage and left. Other than what ever automated/scanning process may have taken place in the background, we did not talk to one individual. No one looked at our passport, no one asked what we bought, what we had in our bags or search one item. It was painless and fast. We were amazed. I had even grown a beard since my passport photo was taken. Apparently it was no problem.
  21. I'm thinking a couple of travel mugs and a couple of bottles of water to get started and wing it from there.
  22. It is a nice gym. Mostly Life Fitness and Hammer equipment. Treamills, stationary bikes, elliptical. Circuit machines, racks of dumbbells and benches, barbells and a squat rack. Floor exercise area.
  23. Prices are high. I'll stick to what's free and leave the rest to the elite that don't mind shelling out big bucks.
  24. We are doing eastern Caribbean on Harmony, same date. I am sure there will be NYE festivities ship wide. You could certainly be in one of the lounges. The major event will be a balloon drop on the boardwalk. I'm sure there will be a party poolside and maybe fireworks. There will be areas for everyone that will let your family celebrate in a way everyone will enjoy.
  25. If I filled 12 water bottles with vodka, do you think they would notice 😁
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