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Everything posted by bobroo

  1. Royal Caribbean's Hawaii cruises are well worth taking. Many passengers do them year, after year, after year. (Once you've gone, you'll know why) I would strongly encourage all here who are Loyal to Royal to book a room. After my wife and I went last year; I came home with a much, much different idea of what of our fellow state of Hawaii really is. I learned that it is as diverse in nature as it is ethnically. Once you get off the island of Oahu, Hawaii is stunningly beautiful around every corner. The trip really added something to the history of our cruising experience. But, while you are in Honolulu, yes, you should visit Pearl Harbor. It's a National Park. Whether you go with a private tour operator, take a bus, or take a cab; I don't think it will make a lot of difference. My wife and I got on an early morning private bus and did a self guided tour. The National Park Service does an excellent job providing an interactive, museum-like experience explaining the events leading up to and what occurred on Dec 7 (much like the good job the National Park Service does at the book depository in Dallas--another two thumbs up by Susie and I). Then there is the US Navy boat ride to the Arizona (and really a free boat ride on a US Navy vessel). No matter how you feel about war or what side you were on, the Arizona memorial is a very somber place. You will never forget it. It does step on your vacation buzz but in the same breath I would say Susie and I are better people because we went there. A definite "must do." I should not be breaking any news when I say Hawaii is a very expensive place for tourists. You should accept this before you pack your luggage. Are there ways to save money? Certainly! However, would I travel all that way and miss out on a quintessential Hawaiian luau? Time on a beach overhearing the conversations of surfer kids who live in Honolulu? A sunset dinner cruise while overnighting on Maui? Walking barefoot on an emerald and black sand beach on Hilo? Miss seeing the Waimea Canyon while on Kauai? Or, not buying at least one drink in Mick Fleetwood's bar on Maui? NO WAY!!!
  2. Pelican cases, and there are other similar manufacturers; is widely available and about the same price as other decent luggage. The downside is that they are heavy. Pelican has come out with a line of luggage. When I was considering my purchase the Pelican luggage line at the time was way overpriced compared to its waterproof and crushproof cousins.
  3. I went the indestructible route about 4 years ago by using empty Pelican cases as luggage and haven't looked back since. I've made some modifications such as the permanent nameplates and swivel wheels. The two larger ones (shown) do stow under RCL beds. This pic is from a couple years and they by no means look this nice today. I often kid my wife, "If we are in a plane crash; I don't know about the black box, but I'm sure they will find my luggage." And during muster drills "If we hit an iceberg I ain't wearing no life jacket, I'm just going to hug one of my suitcases and wait for the Coast Guard."
  4. Caution: Different ships have different rules. Meaning: we all are led to believe that one coffee drink = 1 punch. On some ships if you order a large/venti drink your card will get punched twice. RCL will give a song and dance that those larger drinks are 2 shots of expresso and therefore your card gets punched twice. Doing some quick math, you'll find by ordering the larger size drinks and being double punched' this is no bargain compared to the posted prices. Buyer beware
  5. I spend more time ( literally many hours more) selecting what shops I am going to dive with for a given upcoming cruise compared to the time I spent researching any given cruise before we put a deposit down. Am I the only one???
  6. Just getting off Adventure, here is a pic of the port at St Marteen as we could see it from the ship last Monday. Ill start another thread with our experience and some more pics when I have some sit down time in front of my computer at home. Zooming in, frequent cruisers might recognize a couple familiar landmarks.
  7. The best excursion my wife and I ever took was through RCL in Rome. We went to the Coliseum, wandered a bit through the streets of Rome, had lunch, and went to the Vatican. What an incredible day! There are not enough words to describe the Vatican. It is really, really something to see no matter your faith, heritage, or upbringing. Unbelievable! Our tour arrived back at the ship 45 minutes late. We were not the last RCL excursion to arrive, there was another that pulled up after we were onboard. In Naples my wife and I hiked up Mt Vesuvius and visited Pompeii. Another incredible day as I look back on it I can't believe all those memories happened on O-N-E day. Afterwards we went into Naples for a pizza dinner in the birthplace of pizza. While there we also saw those flocks of birds, starlings I think. Crazy! Just like every YouTube video you have seen. And that show was free! Florence, home of the Renaissance. There is just so much to see downtown....I don't think you can make a bad decision. Seeing Michelangelo's David in person was special. There is a small sandwich shop at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio bridge that has incredible food. So incredible it was at that point I realized some things and made it very clear to me about Italy and food. I hope during your trip you can find a ham sandwich that turns your head around and changes the way you think about life and food....if not a ham sandwich just about any gelato shop you find in Italy may very well do the same thing. In Marseilles we took another RCL excursion going to two Cote de Azure towns, the Notre Dame of Marseille, and lunch on our own. I was pretty churched-out seeing Marseilles Notre Dame; once you have seen the Vatican everything else pales in comparison. The two towns were really neat and really showed what life was like in the south of France. Having just been in Italy; it was easy to see the difference between Italy and France. Coincidentally one town had a farmers market going on. I learned quite a few more things about culture and food; building on what I've learned in Italy. Lunch on our own in Marseilles; the bus stopped near the famous Ferris Wheel downtown. There have got to be a hundred cafes to choose from. So many it's difficult to pick one. I chose a place called Hippopotamus, just for the silly name. So...lunch at an outdoor cafe seaside in the south of France, a bottle of wine, sunshine, and we were blown away by our dessert ('cause the French eat dessert); the profiteroles! OMG! We were wondering why it took so long; it was because they were made from scratch! Absolutely delicious! And made Hippopotamus one of my most very favorite restaurants in the world. Here is a question you should be asking: What is the difference between RCL excursions that have nearly the same description -- other than the $100 per person additional cost? Is it a printing error? They are the same right? They go to the same exact places and do the same things.... Well, there are differences. In the restaurants they take you to. Not everything is written in RCL descriptions. The really good guides...are on the more expensive tours. In Rome the expensive tours get two guides--because they are necessary to keep the group together it's so busy at the touristy places. Listen, a dollar is a dollar. And not that there aren't good values with other companies or other options. Sometimes it pays to take the high road. For me, Rome was one of those times and I am thankful I did. Even at the $300 per person it cost us, I got good value out of every dollar. I would do the same thing all over again. It is after all, a vacation. My wife and I have taken expensive excursions and we have had $5 Euro ham sandwiches; both have changed the way we think about things. It's not necessary to follow in my exact footsteps there are plenty of awesome things at all these ports. I mention what I've done as an example. I hope during your European journey you stumble upon something that changes the way you think about life. It could be a building, a famous piece of art, a conversation with a local, a bucket list item, or a great meal at a random restaurant. No matter what you chose at any of your ports, there is something fascinating and potentially life changing around every corner. Mix it up with a little of an organized tour and a little discovery on your own. I vote you start with the closest gelato shop!
  8. Del Sol is "in the compound" and I absolutely warrantee that store or the attached Cariloha in NOT going to be closed while there are thousands of potential customers at their doorstep. Your private hammock shop....you have money you want to spend?....they won't be closed either. Promise.
  9. The actual journey is not but 15 minutes. You (likely) may have to wait in line (pre and post) so your results may vary. FUN FACT: Royal uses 2 of the ships lifeboats for the tendering! I gotta admit there have been many muster drills I asked myself how can all these people in my muster station fit on that tiny boat above us? And, I bet a million dollars that boat above us smells, well....like a nasty, unused boat. WRONG! The boats hold 150 people fairly comfortably, no unpleasant odor, and they do have a car radio in them so there was a local radio station playing for our Hawaii trip last September. The boats ran throughout the night. That being said, one of our all time Top 10 if not Top 5 excursions we have ever taken was the Maui Sunset Dinner Cruise. You would be a fool to miss the opportunity. The food was good but the view.......WOW! The companies that offer these dinner cruises are right at the pier the tender docks at. Easy peasy. If you are a vintage rock n' roll fan I would highly recommend stopping by Mick Fleetwood's place, Fleetwoods. Yeah, Mick Fleetwood owns a bar on Maui! And since he lives on the island, by all accounts; frequents the place often! It's a classy joint and fills up fast so you'll likely need a reservation to dine but my wife caved to my obsession and we just had drinks at the bar. Those drinks were Maui priced (about $15 a piece) but to have a drink named after a Harry Nilsson song in Mick Fleetwoods bar....I might as well have been in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. No Mick Fleetwood sighting on my visit, but in no way did it take away from an awesome experience.
  10. Hint: Cruises purposely have extended time in ports for two reasons A) You are supposed to have dinner onshore B) The lights of the city will be beautiful when you leave Another hint: Naples is the birthplace of pizza and home to those delicious San Marzano tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil around Mt Vesuvius..
  11. HEY! HEY! HEY! I'm from the Northwest 'burbs and any RCL sailings out of Chicago--the line starts in back of me! ;0)
  12. Know what makes a lot of sense to me? Intentionally leave the last row of seats in coach on every large aircraft---EMPTY! Just don't sell 'em. They will always be there for flight crew emergencies, people who missed their previous flights, people who require multiple seats, and people who have a lot of money and need to fly immediately. What could be so hard?
  13. Any change in any federal legislation takes a lot of money and effort. But the way things are in Washington today, changing the PVSA/ Jones Act would happen a lot faster than the time for cruise lines to implement the new opportunities. The imaginary itineraries I've brought up would take a few years till sailings might begin.
  14. What we (the hopelessly addicted cruising community and cruise lines) would benefit from are the loosening of requirements such as mandatorily going to a foreign port, issues of beginning a cruise in one US city and ending in another US city, and a lot of customs nonsense. What the opportunity here is that companies like Royal could offer US only itineraries, cruises on the Great Lakes, and "cruises to nowhere"; definitely opening up other revenue streams. Convenient for us US residents but attractive to foreign travelers as well. Who wouldn't want to take a Gulf Coast cruise from say Galveston to Tampa? A cruise on the Great Lakes? A ride on the Eastern Seaboard? A couple nights on a ship to "get outta Dodge" for the weekend that leaves out of LA, New York, Cleveland, Chicago, Norfolk, or Charleston. Sailing out and making a U-turn and coming right back?
  15. While the White House is currently obsessed with deregulating government and/or business for the sake of grabbing headlines. And, while there is seemingly no price tag too high for Royal to put something into it's shopping cart. PLEASE Royal take this unique point in time and get together with the other cruise companies do all of yourselves a favor by either repealing or amending the Jones Act. The sooner the better.
  16. A couple more things to consider why you would NOT be wasting food. One, the MDR is not a scratch kitchen. They already planned on and prepared X amount of portions of your chosen entre' long before you arrived for dinner. Second, all the unused food gets fed to the fishes in the middle of the night. So don't be bashful about ordering in the MDR.
  17. This is a great question JL. I don't think the ships operate any differently than they do for a caribbean cruise. The crew still has their 9 month contracts, the entertainers still have contracts and jump from boat to boat, and the menu in the MDR is the same week after week after week. What is different are the passengers. They are not looking for "entertain me" or "feed me free food I would not normally eat for dinner" or "give me opportunities onboard like ice skating or rock climbing or an escape room" like you and I enjoy on our brief one week stay onboard. These passengers are playing a different game, just like the ones that spend long spans of time RCL ships; particularly Adventure in the Winter time. (they like Adventure because it goes to five different ports each week). If I could categorize these passengers I would say (IF...you could categorize them): A) they are retired and have wealth B) spending long time aboard is equal to the expense of owning an expensive condo in Florida C) they have been cruising for many, many, many years. Like 30 or 40 years. D) they never buy drink packages but will buy internet. E) They have a travel agent and play the credit card for miles or points game just like the rest of us. i hope sometime you make time to talk to a Pinnacle and above member. Their stories are entertaining and enlightening and might change they way you think about our favorite way to vacation.
  18. Jerel you are breaking my heart! Let me explain.... A couple weeks ago on Harmony I was walking on the pool deck on a sea day at about 10am. Quite frankly I have never seen so many towels and so few people at the pool. And then I saw the biggest chair hog in the history of Royal. This person had taken three towels and put them lengthwise across 9 lounge chairs. A gross showing of chair hoggyness. As I stood there trying to figure the audacity a person would have to do that, a pool attendant was close by so I called him over. I told him "ummmm, are we doing anything about people reserving pool chairs today?" He said " If a guest isn't at there chair in a half an hour we remove them." Staring at about 20' of obviously reserved chairs "if you don't remove those towels, I am going to take those towels and throw them out that window, this is stupid.".....and I was serious. The pool attendant removed the towels and there was applause when I continued walking across the pool deck. While in the elevator I thought after doing my good deed for the day "Gee, I wonder if somebody is going to get charged $75 for reserving pool chairs because they didn't get credit for reurning the towels? GOOD! I hope so!" ......and now you tell me this and it makes sense. <shakes head>
  19. During the Top Tier I spoke withe the hotel director about the the solarium issues. He gave me a sort of a corporate non-answer but did indicate that they are well aware or the awning problems. I hope they can over time implement a permanent solution while Harmony is in port for a few hours once a week. Regarding the water slides, In addition to having water on the pool deck you would walk around if you had dress shoes on they have caused significant damage to Central Park. In the area where the slides are cantilevered over the park, the leaking chlorinated water killed a bed of plants. During our windy voyage water was picked up in the air and brought down into Central Park. It defoliated one tree and a big swath of one wall installation. You could see the dramatic difference from one day to the next. So much for Splash Zone.
  20. I was on the same voyage of Harmony and there are a few notable design problems that I was really,really surprised that have been allowed to continue. The water slides are a leaky, hemoraging mess and should be shut down. Good intentions but terrible execution. I'd like to meet the design team of the solarium. I'm not sure what they were thinking. The perforated awning enclosures whistle horribally on sea days. Many times it's not the serene, "mindful" place as intended. And then there's the obvious plastic flawed awnings. The same ones torn apart on the maiden transatlantic voyage. Several were destroyed on our trip as well. Know what a loose blue tarp sounds like on truck going down an expressway? The solarium had that going on too. But I'm really not sure how many design people bought into the idea that stretched clear plastic would last the whatever expected useful life Harmony has. For reals???
  21. In addition there is definatly a 30 seat movie theater in the Adventure Ocean area. There could also be a larger movie theater; I dunno. It is that big of a ship.
  22. Currently on Harmony, Susie and I went back to Next Cruise and booked a Symphony sailing for Feb 9, 2019. You know you have a bad cruising addiction when you are on first name basis with everyone at Next Cruise. They know us better than our stateroom attendant.
  23. I'm on Harmony now. There are 64 movies on demand, Netflix style. The selection is all over the place and there is somthing for everyone; trust me. There is also free tv which seems to have attractive kids programming in addition to what we have all seen before in different languages and different subjects like news, sports, movies etc. The movies are $12 each for us common folk; likely free for suite guests.
  24. My wife Susie really enjoyed the bike ride excursion she did through the ship while we were there last. Like you, I was in the water. We both hooked up in the afternoon and enjoyed clean, unspoiled Kralendijk. We've been to just about every port RCL stops at in the Caribbean; Bonaire is a top 3 favorite of ours. Just because it is clean, organized, and civilized and unlike all the other Caribbean ports. Just discussing it, of our all-time favorite Caribbean ports--none have a Diamonds International. Co-incidence?
  25. I know details are sketchy and we likely will never find out what really happened, but that being said, There are more than enough life jackets for every passenger in their stateroom. There are extra life jackets in those white fiberglass containers along the wall during the muster drill. And each lifeboat has 150 life jackets on board. You mean to tell me all of those are out of date??? I hope RCL takes the "bad" life jackets and brings them to Syria, there are many people there who would be happy to have one whether the strobe light works or not.
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