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bobroo

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Everything posted by bobroo

  1. You are worrying about nothing! My wife and I did a culturally enriching cruise a few years ago and we enjoyed it very much. Keep in mind a few things, Royal is structured around English. All employees must have a certain mastery to be employed. Ships announcements all will be in English first and then in other languages. The cruise compass, TV's, sea pass, and all those memos and paperwork that is left by the stateroom attendant on your bed will be in English. The concierges? Of course they are fluent English speakers! In all, the cruise as you are accustomed will not change. What will change might be some of the entertainment, menus in the MDR might be tweaked to favor the tastes of the largest nationality of passengers (don't worry all of your favorites and old standbys will still be there), music in the disco will be influenced ( but the same line dance songs that are played at every sail away will continue). I think you'll find the differences welcome and interesting. Except for the ships announcements, you'll be scratching your head how long and what is gone through just to tell the passengers that Bingo is about to begin in the theater in a half an hour.
  2. A little known Royal Caribbean "secret": After you collect your 9th crystal block and become Pinnacle......then you collect crystal obelisks at every 350 cruise points after 700.
  3. You also may be remembering when up to just a few years ago that suite guests and diamond and above were seated in their own area of the MDR. It usually was in a corner of one of the top floors. No name for it, just a section of the MDR. There would be a small podium with a staff member being the gatekeeper to keep the riff raff out. The menus and portions were different there. Lobster night was truly lobster night. Of course that's where the better waitstaff was before they earned a promotion to a Chops or Portofinos. Formal nights were elegant because everyone seated in those areas participated., IMO, those were the last days when the MDR was a grand experience and lived up to the tradition of using white table cloths. MDR today???......ahh, nobody wants to hear a grumpy old man complain about what used to be.....
  4. Water shoes or gym shoes that can be discarded after the ride are an absolute must. Sandels, Crocs, or other loose fitting foot ware probably won't work out so well. "Creek" is a much more accurate term than "river". The water is cool, but not freezing. Consider wearing something like a rash guard or long sleeved shirt for the trip. The life vest will also keep you pretty warm. The water is seldom deeper than chest deep anywhere along the trip. The bats are small and the headlights on the helmets are just enough to see them. I don't remember any total blackout areas along the route. I'm certain there were none. Beers are available for sale after the trip. Buy a couple extra for the bus ride back to the ship. The inner tubes are not from vehicles, they are much lighter weight than that. Everything you bring with you is going to get wet. This includes cameras, phones, wallets etc. These items types of items you bring along should have a way of being clipped off to you. Meaning; having a caribeaner that can be hooked to a belt loop and the lanyard to a waterproof camera is a really good idea. Leaving a towel, change of clothes, change of shoes, seapass, and a photo ID was plenty safe left on your seat in a backpack or beach bag on the bus. The walk from the bus to the creek was, I dunno if it was a mile; I don't think it was that long. It's along a trail in the jungle which is mostly gravel or mud. It's not a Tough Mudder, but being a rain forest you will walk in an occasional puddle.There were many stops along the way where the guide takes about specific trees or wildlife. Ther is some occasional faster current, not whitewater, not rapids, but rather swift fun. There are times during the float that are quiet, peaceful drifts through the rainforest. Listening to the jungle birds is wonderful and they don't know you are there.
  5. I L-O-V-E that we have a thread about a RC competitor, Club Med; simultaneous with a drug fueled orgy on Vision —started on Matt’s first day of a cruise. The timing couldn’t be better! FYI: the group Ottawan, has a greatest hits album available on iTunes. On it are “Hands Up” and “Crazy Music” There will be a test of how well you remember The Crazy Signs after you give them a listen. ;0)
  6. Dating myself here......but Club Med vacations in the middle and late 80's were a lot of fun. I miss those days.
  7. This looks like soooooo much fun! Every cruise director in the fleet should watch these videos. Get rid of the tired, boring 70's night and have events like this where people have fun and really enjoy themselves. A real vacation. Instead of passengers having to pretend they like the Village People and KC and the Sunshine Band songs; Turn the subs down low, make the girls wearing bikinis sit in a pile of glitter and let passengers get their moneys worth out of their drink package. I woud sooooo sign up for 7 nights of this!!!!
  8. The best airport in the world is Changi Airport in Singapore! Not only is it neat, clean and well organized. Not only is the security quick, easy and common sense. The washrooms are very, very clean and the washroom attendants are proud of their work. The terminals are spacious and there is plenty to do. Shopping????......ummmm.....Orlando ain't got nothing on Changi. It is everything an airport should be....and you might be lucky and the new, $2 billion terminal might be open. It is by all accounts really something. Unexpectedly being held up at the Changi Airport for a couple hours is defiantly not a problem....enjoy!
  9. FYI, assuming you travel with a spouse; there will only be one free bottle of wine for the two of you. That bottle of wine will be determined by who ever selected their preferences last. Despite how C and A gives a free welcome beverage since the time you were gold status and even though the C and A website allows each member to select their preferences; you are only getting one bottle per stateroom per voyage. This is true for the first "tier" of Diamond Plus. Perhaps when reaching one of the other two "tiers" of Diamond Plus C and A will cough up two bottles of wine??? I'm sure there is someone from the other higher "tiers" that can chime in.
  10. After years of cruising with Royal, I am a convinced that anytime you you tip and that receipt, envelope, or anything else that says "gratuity" and also has a Royal Caribbean logo on it--those funds are going into that ships general tip pool for all employees. That includes leaving a buck or two tip on a receipt for drinks. That bartender/server/room attendant does not individually receive those funds. That is true for the above pictured envelope. Cash to that guy or gal you want to thank? That goes entirely to that person you want to acknowledge. Case in point: want to know why that employee Waaaytoo described was afraid to touch that little blue envelope??? Because management is afraid an employee would stick it in their pocket and not put it into the collective fund and probably has given extreme warning to any employee thinking of not sharing that money. You don't need no stink'in envelope, there is nothing to hide. Be proud of your acknowledgment and carry some small bills in your pocket when you are onboard. Enjoy the smile you get in return for your couple bucks.
  11. If I had to guess, Trujillo, Honduras might be the go to alternate. There are other cruise ships that port there--but none often.
  12. I'm glad you brought this one up ADK, we haven't talked about it in a while. No matter what you might think, RCL wants their excursions watered down. They want all their excursions so that anyone can participate and make tour operators refrain from offering advanced, or faster pace, or more difficult excursions aimed for those who can ride a bike for more than a few miles, maybe are a runner, or otherwise are in reasonably good shape. Except for the St Kitts Volcano Hike! And for what reason this one is allowed to be so advanced we'll never know. A test of fortitude, stamina, and guts. Less than half who start will finish. My wife Susie trained on a Stair Master at her gym for 6 months in preparation and she completed it in 2014. Here are some pics (spoiler alert: the video is from the top of the climb....and the view is probably a lot less than you think you have should have earned.) Below is the Golden Ticket, the path and terrain in general what you climb, her shoe back onboard, and finally short video at the summit. DSCN1543.m4v DSCN1543.m4v
  13. "Fisherman's Catch" Night might be an more appropriate name. <wink,wink>
  14. The time your specific bus will drop you off at the airport will be determined by the the passenger who has the earliest flight. The driver will ask everyone their departure times before the excursion begins. Your luggage will be transported separately via straight trucks that transports everyone's luggage. The truck drops all the luggage in an area outside the terminal; it is generally covered by an overhang. Is it monitored??? Well, kind of.....
  15. Those pics are awesome DocLC! BTW for the record:Susie just reminded me, we were good cruising Americans we finished our lunch, the bottle of wine, and of course the profiteroles enough for four.
  16. You are thinking there might be a town in the south of France that is uninteresting, boring, or otherwise "meh"??? You think that may describe Marseilles? Boy are you in for a big surprise! If you chose to do nothing else, do yourself a favor and have lunch in downtown Marseilles; aim for the Ferris Wheel. There are seemingly 100 outdoor cafes there, the water is right across the street. We chose the Aix-en-Provence/Cassis/Marseilles excursion when we were there in '14. It was wonderful! We were allowed lunch on our own in Marseilles. Susie and I would enjoy taking that same excursion again and most likely will. But the best part of our day was lunch and specifically the dessert. Let me explain... Our bus dropped us off and gave us a two hour window. Two hours was not quite enough although we made it back in time (lunch in France may well take 2 hours, so leave time). Like I said there are many restaurants and there was no visual telling that one may be better than another; so I went with my go to: which one is the most ridiculous? We chose a place called Hippopotamus. We dined out side in the french sunshine. Enjoyed bottle of wine. Had our entrees (these things are served leisurely) and decided to have dessert probably because it was very much like eating in the MDR; we chose profiteroles. It took a while and I was seriously beginning to wonder and was trying to remember words from my high school French class to ask Did you forget about us? When our server brought our dessert, it was enough for four people--it was also made entirely from scratch--everything!--ice cream included. Heaven-on-earth! That one dessert put Hippo on my list of my favorite 10 restaurants of all time. Don't short Marseilles, there are reasons ships on European itineraries stop at the places they do, that's because they are good; real good. I can recommend the excursion we went on; but if you do nothing else, do yourself a favor and have lunch in Marseilles. Bon Appetite!
  17. Get back to us when you get back, I’d like to hear a second opinion.
  18. Here is how my diving excursion went in St Thomas last week: Our excursion met (8:30am) about 1/2 an hour after the ship docked just outside the gates of the pier. The excursion provider, Underwater Adventures; runs all the scuba, snorkeling, try-a-dive, scubability, and transports the open water students that are taking the Open Water class on your ship. I spoke with the owner Rob a bit when I was signing the hold harmless agreement. He claimed that he is the provider for all the cruise lines that port in St Thomas. I asked him if I could pay to use larger tanks ( aluminum 100's) and he replied "you could have if you would have told me yesterday, we load all our tanks at night. We've got two 72's for you." "Don't worry, I can dive for 75 minutes on a 72." Fortunately Rob turned away and had other passengers to sign his clip board. I bet I stared at that iron fence for 5 minutes asking myself "What have I gotten myself into?" "I remember this outfit from a snorkeling excursion about 4 year ago and the crew reminded me of characters in Jimmy Buffett songs from the late 70's" " Why do I care how long someone can dive on a tank of air, It's me that I'm concerned about", "72!???........that's 10% less than 80", and finally "what the hell is an aluminum 72? I've never heard of it......EVER. Great, $139 wasn't enough, so now the dive operator is going to short us on air." If my scuba bag was full of red flags instead of gear---it would have been empty---and little did I know I was soon to need more red flags. I'll continue.... Underwater Adventures picks everyone up close by near the pier, just a short walk away. So our herd made our way to their boat and got on. The boat was full and had members of ALL the fore mentioned groups. It was a quintessential cattle boat operation. UA had four employees onboard, all supposed certified Instructors. No, these are young kids running away from who knows what <cue old school Jimmy Buffett: Havana Daydream'in', Mañana, (and especially) Cowboy in the Jungle>. The gal who ran the scuba shop on the ship was also onboard and going to be the instructor for her 5 Open Water students. A quick Coast Guard briefing and we are off to......Buck Island. Buck Island is a 15-20 minute boat ride away. We arrive at Buck Island and there are already 4 boats moored to the 4 available mooring balls. One of them was another UA boat. There are easily 50 snorkelers in the water. There was no discerning of what snorkelers were in what group nor what boat they may have arrived on. They were scattered though out the site. While we were waiting for a boat to leave I though to myself "Why? Why would anybody want to put more people in the water here right now?" A few minutes pass and a boat leaves. In St. Thomas, it is perfectly acceptable to moor your boat in the middle of people snorkeling, if you go slow enough they will get out of your way once they realize the boat will just plow into them if they don't move. We tie off and then one of the crew realizes they forgot to put the drinking water on our boat. So, the lowest ranking crew member puts on a mask and fins and is dispatched to the other UA boat to get our water. Shortly she swam back with a milk jug about 3/4 full of water and put it into the cooler onboard. I was in a group of 12 certified divers and our dive master was Dave. (mental note: 13, we need 13 returning to the boat) The first dive was a reef they called Wye Reef just off the starboard side of the boat. We splashed. The max depth was 62', the water was 76 degrees and the vis was 80'. We saw a couple turtles, 3 black tipped reef sharks, and a few barracuda came close by. The dive starts out on this reef and it was healthy and I was impressed. Later the dive continues real close to Buck Island and there are these huge round boulders you have to swim around and those were really cool! The dive ends under the boat using the mooring line for accent. Make sure you reach and turn when you surface, you may have to fight off some snorkelers. Despite some buoyancy problems with a couple divers in our group and some time for weight checks at the beginning, I really liked this dive and at the end thought that despite a lot of concerns that dive was worth it. I might even sign up to do it again sometime. My time in the water was 41 minutes. I was the last out of the water and........I counted to 13 once onboard! (interesting: there was never a roll call after either dive) The surface interval was 1/2 an hour and dive #2 is the wreck called Cartanza Señora off the port side of the boat. It's 51' feet to the bottom, the deck 20' above that. I was glad to explore this wreck simply because of the memory of seeing it 4 years prior while snorkeling. At that time I though it was stupid and senseless to have people snorkel above wreck that was 30 some feet beneath them. Ok, I see a big black rectangle BIG DEAL. But now able to scuba around it was different. It was the view I wanted earlier. It was satisfying to be able to do that. Actually that made my day. This dive too lasted 40 some minutes. After we got all our passengers in the boat we headed back to Charlotte Amalie. The boat captain mentioned something about tipping and the recommended tip was 20% of the excursion price. <cough, cough WHAT????> They took a group picture of all of us for proof we all returned. I think we got back at 2:00 but I had plenty of time to drop my gear off in my cabin, hook up with my wife, and take a bus to Havensight. We wandered around a bit and had a sit down late lunch. We jumped in a taxi and made it back onboard with 45 minutes to spare. All in all, the dives themselves were good. Not spectacular but good experiences; I don't know any other dive sites in St Thomas to be that much better. The dive operator? I have a lot of concerns there. Much too loosey-goosey for my liking. Do I think other certified divers should take this excursion? Only if they are confident in their abilities and know beforehand that they are not getting two aluminum 80's, there are a whole bunch of people on the boat set out to do a bunch of different activities, and the crew may not always be paying attention to the things that they should.
  19. Just off Allure last week; it did not make a difference how many stairs I traipsed, lengthy walks on the jogging track, rock climbing, wave ridering, or asking my wife overnight how exponentially high her Fitbit recorded steps compared to her normal day.....our cruise was a glutenous indulgence of food and drink. We both still ended out a pound of weight gain per day. Bring sweatpants for the trip home.
  20. Great article Mono, Thanks for sharing!! Many people don't realize that all those other people that have the same muster station as you during the muster drill; that in case of an emergency-- will also be the occupants of the lifeboat that is above your head during that drill--again, in case of an emergency. There is a "seat" (or rather a space) inside the lifeboat for all 150 or 340 passengers. One of the crew members who is at your station during the drill will be operating the the lifeboat, the other couple crew members will be there to assist passengers. The lifeboats are rather roomy inside and ( a complete surprise to me) don't have the musty smell of a boat that has been under a tarp for a long period of time. Actually, they are kind of nice on the inside, have a (some what) padded seats and grab bars to hang on to, and have pretty powerful motors! Also, the crews lifeboats are those inflatable rafts. What I always question is the supposed system for children and their wrist bands. That--again in case of an emergency and a call to muster-- what is supposed to happen???? Ahhhh....I don't think so.....Nahhhh.....There is 100% chance that is NOT what happens.
  21. I am left to believe that Royal is leaving it up to the passengers themselves (and likely via a phone call to customer service) to repair all the broken C & A accounts. I think it's unreasonable for me to have to tell Royal my C & A number. I don't think I should have to tell them the reservation ID's for the cruises I've put deposits down on but are missing in my C & A account. I most certainly should not have to research every cruise I have taken and paid-in-full for so they appear in my (now empty) cruise history--that includes the one last week. Does anyone else feel this way?
  22. I dove there last week when I was on Allure. I'd be happy to tell you how it went. Allow me to find a little computer time to scribble down the events of that day. I promise I'll get back to you.
  23. To anyone who thought my post on February 21 was being too hard on Royal...... I told you so!
  24. One thing these photos reveal is that Harmony still has problems with those stupid plastic sheets above the Solarium. Warranty or no warranty, those things have got to go! C'mon Royal!
  25. I like these photos a lot but by comparison I am not suppose to take a picture of my wife while on the gangway boarding the ship because of......safety. <scratches head>
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