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bobroo

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Everything posted by bobroo

  1. "Fisherman's Catch" Night might be an more appropriate name. <wink,wink>
  2. 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.....
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. Get back to us when you get back, I’d like to hear a second opinion.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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?
  10. 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.
  11. To anyone who thought my post on February 21 was being too hard on Royal...... I told you so!
  12. 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!
  13. 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>
  14. DocLC is exactly right. Debarkation is the easiest you will ever see. The slowdown may be at the airport. Balcelona has a wonderful airport; it is done right.
  15. Oh yeah, the Eastland disaster! Very, very strange incident. Not to hijack Rjac's thread, (and all ya' alls just got a few more days to get me those Boca Clips) but what if Gary, In had a compound like Falmouth? What if we dusted off the coal dust and iron ore off a pier in Sandusky? I think we all know the Apostle Islands are beautiful. Summerfest in Milwaukee happens right on the lakefront (and that had better be an overnight stop 'cause nobody leaves there sober). Boy, what if certain cruises coincided with MLB games in Toronto, Detroit, Cleveland? I think sailings like this would be extremely popular and provide economic stimulus to places that could really use it. Maybe it's Azamara, maybe it's a new company? Maybe the staff on board is paid a living wage???? Whoa
  16. The "Sailing the Great Lakes" comes from a couple different ideas. One, sailing the Great Lakes was a very popular thing to do 100 year ago. Two, these type of offerings would make cruising a possibility to many new customers located in the Midwest. But mostly three, with less and less available port space on the Caribbean, it would give RCL a new angle and new revenue stream. I'm certain RCL has chosen not to go there, there name after all is Royal Caribbean. But have you noticed how many companies now sail the Mississippi? The Columbia River? Chesapeake Bay? I predict those become big revenue generators for Carnival and others in years to come. Having an old Monarch of the Seas or Empress located in Lake Michigan during the summer is only me being selfish. Lake Michigan is actually quite shallow once you get close to land, surprisingly shallow. I never even gave width a thought.
  17. I think this is a great idea to use RCL fans to participate in company development in exchange for some kummelweck sandwiches. I'd like to see more openings of this type of interaction. Good job RCL! <pat on the back> From there my opinion goes downhill fast and that is just because of years of RCL IT disappointment. I have lost all faith that Royal cares one iota about a users online experience. Royal has dragged their feet for years in making their land based, ships online, or passengers communications anywhere in the same decade as the ship sails. For that matter, the computer terminals used at Guest Services (and each ships separate internal computer system) still run on that neon green blinking hyphen....DOS. I know IT is expensive. I know it's difficult for companies to keep their systems running, much less updated. And all this IT stuff, at least on the surface, all it does is take away from earnings. On the other hand it's 2018. It shouldn't be a confusing story whether a mother can text her teenage daughter while onboard. A potential customer should NEVER find that the website is down. And for Christ Sake, can more than one person be in a reservation???? Particularly when you call and one of them is a Royal employee who works in customer service? <face palm> Over the years Royal has made me feel this way. Royal has shown me they will finance billion dollar ship after billion dollar ship. They will spend some $300 million dollars to make their own private pair in Miami that is a mere 200' longer than the one they already use. In the meantime, they use the same crummy pictures to illustrate excursions, I have to "pretend to make a booking" just to find out what a cruise will cost me--with ever increasing key strokes, and the wait for my cruise points to post is how long??? I gave up a long time ago. It's a nice thought that Royal (or who ever their contractor is) would go through a usability test or show care and concern to make their system better; even a refresh. But to be honest, that is giving them too much credit; I think this is a test to see if having several people do the same thing causes the whole system to become unstable. Or, does the system give out the same pricing if two different users ask simultaneously. I'd guess they are they are trying to accomplish much, much simpler tasks. I hope I am wrong and a positive surprise would be more than welcome. <gets off soapbox, walks quietly away>
  18. Cool beans! I'll add you to the list of RCBloggers who would strongly support a RCL ship deployed in Lake Michigan during the summer.
  19. Thank You Twangster! In two easy to read posts you have concisely cleared up what the Crown and Anchor Facebook group goes on and on and on about......and on and on.... Thanks! I always enjoy reading all of your posts.
  20. No, when I see something like this about to go on, I pick up my drink and head to another bar. If you don't like what you are watching--change the channel. The 25% off coupon is really a way of punishing the captain. I'm certain whenever one of those coupons is redeemed, that $ of discount is applied against that captains profitability on his/her next sailing. And therefore that captains bonus for that voyage is decreased. Cruel, but that's how maritime employment works.
  21. If we were to get a 25% off coupon for a future cruise--I wish this would happen on every cruise my wife and I are on. That would save me $750 or better a cruise. Just Say'n.....
  22. I am on Allure about a month ahead of you; the March 4 sailing. If you send me your Boca Clips I'll save you some seats by the pool! ;0)
  23. My wife and I are covered best by the travel protection given by credit card we have (incidentally the one we receive all our airline miles on). We also have an annual travel policy-- which the premium is a lot less than you might imagine and you won't have to vacation much before getting an annual policy to be a no brainer. I'm guessing at the bottom of the list is our health coverage and our homeowners. 'Cause in some cases those can come into play. Comparing the above to what Royal offers? No, we have a much better deal and for us it's worth the effort to look elsewhere. Do any of these travel policies actually pay out? Well, I've never made a claim. To be truthful, there is not a lot of fine print to them; they are rather broad (red flag). But in the same breath it has become very apparent to us just how close we have missed hurricanes, outbreaks of norovirus, heard of misfortunes of other passengers while onboard, or other mishaps we have found out about on ships or at ports in which we just narrowly missed. Everyone knows airlines can get real poopie when the weather gets bad. At some point...... So in summary, I think all veteran RCL Blog members will tell you it's well worthwhile to cover your butt--somehow/someway. And if you are away from home a couple weeks or more a year it's worth researching benefits and costs of different products or avenues. Also worth noting, my perspective with this whole insurance thing is that if something does happen; my view is that I hope I will have some recourse when I get home--maybe. All this insurance is by no means a guarantee and my expectations for recovery are low. I just don't think insurance companies have a lot of integrity when it comes to writing checks.
  24. It can not be emphasize enough how true this statement is! Particularly the "ruining forever" part. Let me add Sabrinaklai, that you will be at about the perfect time in your cruising career to get a room like this. I mean appreciation for the things that go beyond the additional living space. You'll have enough cruising history to know the difference of the details. The benefits of having a gold sea pass. How to "use" a concierge. Maybe most of all; the really, really good room attendant. Afterwards you'll have a different perspective of cruising. One of an elder that is experienced and well rounded. It's gonna look good on ya" ! I think you've made a great choice
  25. Ohhh I missed that! Thanks for sharing!
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