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Everything posted by bobroo

  1. But the cost of opening a bank account is terrible! ;0)
  2. FYI, my wife and I feel the exact same way you do; these vacations have gotten more and more expensive, the more we travel and the more we read about the travels of others--it becomes more and more apparent that #%^@ happens--and &^@# is likely to happen to us the more often we continue to do this. So just two weeks ago I did a little audit and a compilation of our insurance as it may relate to travel. I found a number of surprises. Three things; by comparison our annual travel policy was a much cheaper and offered more extensive coverage than what Royal would offer on a trip by trip basis through their carrier (Arc Insurance)--the annual policy was a no brainer. I was surprised to find that not only do we have the annual policy but we were also covered by two credit cards (Our United Club Card has annual travel insurance included and is the BEST deal for our situation by far--even better than the annual policy!!!), and what is meant by travel? Our annual policy carrier responded "Travel is 50 miles away from your primary residence" Whoa! That describes me 5-6 days a week. Trip cancellation for any reason is a big benefit and you have described a pretty hefty cost for both trips. In my case (I looked in our Travel Insurance file folder, the one stop shop for all things relating to a travel problem <hint, hint>) I am in fact covered to that extent with the above mentioned credit card, and the annual policy is only at $3k. But that being said, I am looking at this travel insurance thing not as someone else is responsible in case something bad happens but rather, in case something bad happens I might have some recourse when I get home. And the more we travel, the more we see opportunities for "bad" to happen--"bad" not as complete catastrophes (a heart attack, ship hits an iceberg, pirates board and raid our ship) but "bad" as in a lost bag, missed flight, catching a norovirus, or in my case being drunk and doing something stupid on the dance floor that sends me down to the 2nd floor medical office. Thats where I find the importance of travel insurance. Again, I've never made a claim and if I have to I know it will be a difficult, patience testing process,
  3. Not to distract from your direct question Toodle68 (I don't have any experience with a claim), but allow me to throw this out there; as a blanket statement all here who vacation a couple or more times a year: An annual travel policy is CHEAP! and all RCBlog readers should probably have one.
  4. <exhales> OK, after three days of wanting to respond to this I think I can calmly get this down and not sound like a raging lunatic. JLMoran is exactly correct, this is hardly a Oh Wow! deal for the employees and poor policy by RCL; although I believe for some different reasons than JL has written. Nope.....I'm still ranting. Lemme give it some more time.
  5. Yes, the Super Bowl is shown in the big theater and Royal does a great job catering the event--and likely the only time they allow food there. The times I've been onboard it seems the crowd was 50/50 for each team which adds to the fun even if you don't care for football. It will be the US broadcast. On the other hand, the commercials are not shown; all you see is a blank screen during the intervals. It is unknown why Royal purposefully does this. Likewise, the Academy Awards are made available. I've never seen them shown in the theater but they are shown in the sports bar and in the pub. Many, many people will be there watching and wishing the did not have dinner reservations.
  6. Let's put it this way, I am absolutely sure every Royal ship has a safety team with a contingency plan it executes if/when an excursion turns into a disaster. I am sure once the two ships involved found out it about the incident, their plan was executed. It would go something like this: I am sure ship representatives are sent close to the scene, everyone is repeatedly asked if they would like medical attention, that group of passengers will remain as a group of passengers and brought through port security and since presumably they lost their sea passes their identities checked via the photo they took of you boarding the ship and the manifest of those who paid for the excursion, sea passes are re-issued; while still together as a group I would bet $1,000,000 that they are briefed what happens next i.e.: they will get to place free phone calls from the member services desk to family members or to get new credit cards issued, they will be given complimentary internet access for the remainder of the trip to further get their life back together, they will be offered some type of credit at the stores on board to replace some flip flops or beachwear or whatever, of course the cost of the excursion is immediately refunded. I am sure each passenger gives a narrative to their experience and a list of personal items lost. That list and the estimated grand total of the loss will be refunded by Royal with out looking twice at it. I'm guessing corporate will issue a check very shortly once you arrive home. Royal will notify your home county's customs of the event and I am sure the skids are well greased so that affected passengers can get through security and board their planes. Royal does know your flight #'s and copied your passport when you checked in on boarding day. I will not accept that these post incident/contingency plan things did not happen or at least a very close scenario. I have sailed on way too many voyages not to know this is the way the deal goes down. Then along comes the Bozo tweeting that somehow he wasn't advised of all this. Somehow he is unaware of what to do next. Somehow he still continues to be a victim. And, perhaps most importantly, without his voyage not even being over; somehow the whole cruise experience was ruined and therefore he is expecting compensation. Like, Royal owes him for an event that has not even occurred yet. And don't even get me started on how many layers of insurance for Bozos valuables can come into play here...that is a very long list. You can certainly bet local divers are looking for that wreck. Very likely not to recover wallets that have $50 in them or other personal belongings but rather to keep that garbage off their reef. The leeward side of Cozumel is very well taken care of, you will never ever find trash there. Sorry about the rant guys and girls, but the tweeting thing really gets under my skin.
  7. http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article193612034.html As a scuba diver and having dove Cozumel many times I am surprised but really that surprised something like this occurred in San Miguel. In the same breath I would also say the amount of actual danger that likely occurred was probably insignificant. These divers all have had training, plenty of floatation devices, and know how to float in the water for a few minutes. The areas a Royal scuba excursion would likely go would have many,many other dive operators operating their boats very close by (picture a boat having difficulty at the Swim with the Rays location in Grand Cayman). I absolutely know that these dive operators all have radios they use frequently and they all know each other quite well. But the guy who who tweeted he was looking for compensation.......As a diver, as a Crown and Anchor member, as a Loyal to Royal fan, and as a RCL stockholder.....I want to punch this guy in the nose. What he tweeted/said is wrong on so many levels. Is this guy typical of my fellow passengers when we sail? 'Cause if it is, we gotta find a different way to vacation.
  8. How could the answer NOT be Southampton??? <scratches head>
  9. Defiantly balcony or above for Hawaii if you are sailing with me! Couple reasons; one, you are going to have 5-6 sea days. Two, balcony or suite rooms are going to be larger. Having more storage for the longer cruise and more livable space. Three, I have no idea what Hawaii does to get all the good sunsets, but they certainly seem to happen on a nearly daily (or should I say--evening) basis. A note to all reading this: take notice of my previous comment, Cyndicrusier, and JLMoran's: We have all listed unique, different, and a wide variety of things we have done in Hawaii. Unlike Caribbean destinations where one zipline or swim with dolphins or catamaran sail excursion is a very similar experience no matter what port you do it at; Hawaii offers many different experiences at each port of call.
  10. 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!!!
  11. 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.
  12. 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."
  13. 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
  14. 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???
  15. 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.
  16. 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!
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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..
  20. HEY! HEY! HEY! I'm from the Northwest 'burbs and any RCL sailings out of Chicago--the line starts in back of me! ;0)
  21. 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?
  22. 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.
  23. 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?
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
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