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dr martini

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Everything posted by dr martini

  1. Yes, technically you can. but it’s going to be a pain. Why chance traffic or an accident or something god forbid happen and you miss the boat. You already paid for a day of vacation, why not enjoy it? Just stop and get the items you need on the way to the ship. Wouldn’t that work instead?
  2. This is really good (as usual from you Twang) brings a whole new way to look at things. Thank you!
  3. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I must say that it's funny to me, the number of people worried about the number of people on this particular island versus the dozens or even hundreds of other caribbean islands that have four to six cruise ships tied up on any given day, to say nothing of the hotels, resorts, rental homes and other visitors that could potentially add up to 25,000 souls or more. For example, I love some of the as yet not hugely developed islands like St. Kitts where there will regularly be an oasis class, another middle sized from another line and a luxury style anchored offshore. There's not exactly a lot of infrastructure or a whole lot of thrills to seek on that island and yet the only place that feels crowded is right next to the ship. I think almost everyone here who's been can tell you how busy St. Thomas feels most of the year. Royal caribbean has made a huge investment, they are continually expanding what there is to do and see on their ships and on Cococay, I don't have a problem with it at all and have never seen anyone comment that it looks busy, in fact I've only seen people comment with surprise at how sparse and laid back it still feels.
  4. I was on symphony last year during spring break the middle of March for a family cruise with a group of a dozen of us including my wife, some other in-laws and outlaws from toddler aged niece and nephews to my folks in their mid 50's and chose spring break because a couple members work in education and could only go that week. We have all cruised the voyager class together several times, two of those cruises were also on previous spring breaks and at the end of the day, Royal Caribbean bills itself as a family cruise for all, so spring break with kids is kind of right in their wheel house. To try and help answer your questions- yes, it was nuts in certain areas at certain times, but it sounds like you already know that based what you're asking. Keep doing what you're doing to research now and you'll be fine. After day 1 it settles in a LOT, everybody gets settled into their routines and nooks and crannies, there are a lot of great little spots, obviously it's a huge ship and that helps disperse the crowds and certain places like central park and the solarium remain quiet (during the day, at least-it would be great if they actually enforced adults only in the solarium or kids playing with elevator buttons, but now I sound twice my age haha, expect a lot of that, take the stairs, expect teens and tweens everywhere at night, kids in all the hot tubs all the time, it just is what it is). Also use the the tricks Matt and others here mention a lot, consider staying on board during part or all of a port day if you want more of the ship to yourselves. Most of us only ducked into Nassau for lunch, and then came back onboard around 1pm and had a blast with low lines on flowrider and slides etc the rest of the day. Great time. The pool deck is huge and we could always find a spot to set up some kind of home base that everyone could rotate around and off of. Solarium was the best of any ship I've ever been on but the bar was always slammed, make friends with a bartender or roaming waiter/waitress, we always kept a little cash with us to tip. But just prepare yourself for day 1-Embarkation was a madhouse, the promenade and both sets of elevators were busy with long waits basically all afternoon and evening through the end of first night dinner service, shows were full, specialty dining was booked, all of that was annoying, yes moreso than voyager class, but it's more people, still manageable. Fortunately we had booked the main things we wanted ahead of time for dining, shows, connecting rooms, bev pkg, etc and had zero issues. Main dining room experience honestly was fine, it was not as high end as voyager class 10 years ago before the upscale dining craze, but it was still fine. Staff was awesome all around, room was ready when we got onboard before noon, cabin steward was great, many bartenders remembered us....they must send the best and brightest staff to the newest biggest ships. We had a great time, but....there was always a long line of a dozen or more at guest services and it didn't look fun....barring bad luck or misfortune I would try not to be those people. And your usual crop of people who are simply mad that the sun came up again, as you'll have anywhere, anytime not just on a cruise. Oh well. Sucks to be them. We found the pub was a good little hideout in the afternoon for trivia or with guitar player at night as was schooner bar and their piano player (it's really an odd placement above and at the end of the promenade, seems like an afterthought on Oasis class considering how much we love its more featured placement on Voyager class) hooks for lunch was a great spot with incredible view and great food, central park cafe was the best breakfast and lunch spot (easily the lowest line among 'free' food spots), next easiest was probably el loco fresh, avoid the buffets on day one and on sea days, windjammer and solarium cafe both were slammed (like standing room only) from 11am-2pm those days. After 1 or 2pm Bionic bar usually had a crowd and moved kind of slow, not sure I understand the draw there, our predinner cocktail meeting spot was Bolero's which was almost always completely empty before kicking up for a night full of dancing, etc. The night club was a big hit and also packed most nights, esp the headphone silent dance party. Nightclub themed party on the ice arena was a cool setup too. Hairspray and water shows a must, it's actually really easy to catch the aqua shows at the back without any seat or reservation, you can see pretty good from a lot of places along the back of the ship, grab a drink from playmakers, walk around freely along the boardwalk enjoying the night. Dazzles was a gorgeous space and the band was good when we stopped in a couple evenings, but it is small and filled up fast, just didn't feel utilized very well, I'm not sure what else was ever hosted there. 150 central park was one of the best meals of my life, the wine bar was not great mostly due to an annoying bartender who just wanted to talk Eastern European politics (the only time I have ever encountered that on RC) and poor value (we all had deluxe bev pkg but most wine across the ship is by the bottle and $$$), but we loved the stationary red bar in the middle of central park (not the moving up and down elevator bar, which seemed like a waste of space, wasn't open much, kind of gimmicky like bionic imo). Overall we were very happy with our cruise, so many great things about Symphony, honestly we all agreed 7 nights on her for our first Oasis class cruise was not enough to see and do it all, just gonna have to return. Overall I wouldn't particularly choose any class of ship or any line on spring break; if it was just me and the wife we would prefer to save the money and go when there are fewer kids around, but when it's the only option to vacation with the full family and if you like them (ha) YOLO and you'll still have a great time, there are a lot of ways to deal with avoiding the crowds and on the bright side there will be a lot of kids for your kids to meet and mingle with!
  5. Full ship charters are a huge undertaking and would be booked and set years ahead of time, just as much work as Royal setting their own itineraries. I would say zero chance of a full ship being chartered in less than 90 days. Most charters are smaller groups (still could be hundreds of people, but not the whole ship) and they could be on any cruise, anywhere, anytime.
  6. interesting yea this morning symphony is at Terminal A and navigator (usually out of terminal A on Mondays) is further up the row https://www.portmiamiwebcam.com/
  7. Was surprised to see that my ship was sold out a week or more ago for Feb sailings, just checked online for my Navigator cruise leaving in 10 days and, well....
  8. Haha yep. It's always been like this in business, maybe sticks out more here because this is a new category and a new kind of experience. Supply and Demand. Kids want the waterpark. RC wants to maximize profits and also has a limited capacity for the rides. I feel the same way about the cabanas and the new beach club. To me, it's highway robbery for one 6 hour experience but some people clearly have a lot of money and want the status, they want to be seen and want to be pampered. It's like anything else, there are plenty of cars that can drive you from point A to point B, watches that can tell time and hand bags that can hold your personal items; just happen to be some out there with a different logo and a few extra zeroes at the end of their price tag. Companies wouldn't keep making them if they didn't sell.
  9. Everything above is good info, yes all beer and most name brand liquor you can think of (captain, jack, bacardi, titos) is covered as a standard cocktail (old fashioned, manhattan) or with a simple mixer (aka with coke, sprite or soda water and a slice of lime, basic pina colada and other drinks that are put with a premix from a bottle or carton etc), but many top shelf pours and 'signature' cocktails that take a lot of work to mix several liquors and ingredients together (often found in specialty restaurants or newer bars like the bamboo room or wonderland) will run above the $13.00 amount and you will be charged the difference (so a $2 charge for a $15 cocktail). Also keep in mind not every bar has the full stock of everything so it might not be a big problem for you. By very top shelf they mean liquor like 'aged' or 'reserve' versions of the main liquors (Maker's Mark Select, Jameson 18 year, Johnny walker upper color labels, Mount Gay 1703, Patron Extra etc)and most of the fine wine by the bottle (think $50-60 liquor store bottles or $100+ bottles in restaurants). There are also drink specials each day where a drink of the day may be a custom creation type cocktail run at a lower price, check your cruise planner and there will be signs around the bars, on the pool deck they usually carry around a tray of them ready to go. The bars should have a menu with pricing available if you'd like to browse and keep in mind if you have the deluxe bev package you should always specify a name brand when asking for a cocktail otherwise they will bump you down to whatever cheap well version they have (so asking for a tito's and cranberry with a lime instead of just saying vodka cranberry where you will get the generic stuff). It's not all bad, it's just business and I give them credit, some bartenders will ask your preference, especially early on in the cruise. That's a great part of exploring the ship, finding the bars you like with selection you're looking for and staff that learns your face, your preferences, I always toss a little cash for that special touch. You will receive a receipt with your card back that has an optional gratuity line that can be charged as well if you aren't carrying cash. Wine is more tricky and honestly not a great value on the deluxe bev package, probably because most people don't know a whole lot about wine and the people who do are absolutely bonkers about it haha. There are always a few reds and a few whites available by the glass for the drink package, but honestly it pales in comparison to the liquor and beer selection and can be very disappointing. There will be a menu with country of origin and descriptions for some basics, but most of the wine list and especially any top label like a Caymus Cabarnet would be a price listed as a charge for the whole bottle.
  10. I worked for a long time at the ground level in hospitality and retail; I’m now in management and these kind of complaints are so tiresome. No one wants to hear you rant and rave about one thing (which is why I agree with Matt’s analysis of most short amateur reviews of anything online-they’re useless). If you’re a loyal customer who has a valid point and if you bring it up in an email or in person on the cruise in a respectable way I’m 1000% sure management would find a way to comp you something, literally anything, some kind of credit, a drink or specialty dining coupon, a discount on the laundry service, anything to stop the complaining and try to send you away happy. Cruise ships have huge commercial laundry facilities that they’re already paying to operate everyday that run at a scale much more efficiently than any set of personal household size machines on upper decks that obviously weren’t getting used enough to justify taking up space that could be used to sell cabins and/or compensate for the headache of people complaining that they weren’t on the right floor, complaints about other guests hogging the machines and leaving their laundry about, theft, messes, breakdown/repairs...and on and on. Most hotels don’t have self laundry anymore for the same reasons.
  11. In the interest of relaxation, the best use of your time as well as the stated comfort and safety reasons I would echo those saying stay on cozumel. Especially with a 3 and 5 year old, way too much time in cramped quarters on the ferry and bus when you could be free to roam cozumel and head back to the ship at your convenience (not to mention that many here would tell you a half full ship while in port is much easier to get around and do all the things you want to do). I would save tulum or any other longer bus ride day trip for a different vacation when you have a week long stay in Cancun or elsewhere along the coast.
  12. To follow up to these questions, does Royal send you an email or any notification on when your room finally gets assigned? Or do you keep checking online and one day it just appears?
  13. Symphony also has a uniquely larger solarium than the rest of the oasis class and is the newer ship overall (I realize oasis was just reamped but still nearly 10 years older and they can't do everything in the dry dock) so full rooms, artwork, public spaces, tech, everything will be just a bit fresher and cleaner, plus symphony leaves from terminal A in miami (where I would rather stay, more to see and do that FLL). I'm just another guy offering his two cents, but all things truly being equal I would go with symphony out of miami, in fact I would pay 10% more to go that route.
  14. signed up for this last year on symphony with my wife, my sister and her husband in the wine bar in central park but it was cancelled as not enough other people had signed up for our time slot. the manager of that location did not ask about helping us sign up for another spot, offering another special, talking about anything else...he just said it's cancelled, you will be refunded, have a nice day. was not impressed, one of the very few low lights of that trip.
  15. Booked a GTY balcony for Navigator 4 day on 2-10-20 back in early Sept of 2019. Deck 8 and Muster B07 showed up a couple weeks ago, but still no room assignment. Just over 20 days out now. Will let you know when room becomes final.
  16. Yes the drink package works inside the restaurant, but in my experience they price most of their custom cocktails and wine bottles above what the drink package allowance will cover, so they still find a way to get you.
  17. Yes the Amped Navigator has Azumi hibachi grill and sushi up in the viking crown area on deck 14. As far as Adventure goes, it was just given one of the last more standard type 'refurbishmensts' in 2016 (link to RCblog post on Adventure's refurb) before the RC Amped program, current fleet guide says she will be Amped in 2021. (Fleet Guide link here, super handy document)
  18. Champagne is wine, so stop at a liquor store (or walgreens, depending on the state etc) bring a bottle or two onboard with you as your allowed in stateroom wine, chill them in the fridge overnight then just order orange juice on your breakfast card and, voila, start your day off with a nice little taste of vacation. Done it several times. Careful opening that cork!
  19. I think this thread has a pretty good handle on the relevant business aspects. I mean, if it's not broke don't fix it. If those small ships are still selling well (and they are) then RC will keep them around. In a way they offer a lot of great cruising to the brand new cruisers (a simple three night to key west and the bahamas) as well as the older, maybe more affluent experienced cruise who wants exotic, remote ports for a 12 nighter. After having been on symphony during peak spring break, I would be very ready to be on a small ship adults only cruise. The number of people and kids was evident everywhere around you, 24/7 nonstop, but that's why we and a lot of family groups like us pick those ships, so we all can do our own thing in whichever way we choose. If anything, that's Royal's only weakness. Trying to be too many things, trying to be everything to everyone, which of course is impossible. Hence, the variety of the fleet. To me, the sweet spot for amenities and space is still the voyager class, looking very forward to seeing the amped navigator, would like to try the quantum. The smaller ships have very loyal followings, they are free to visit a lot of smaller islands and more secluded ports, do long or odd itineraries that clearly the market will not bear for the big ships where most families are still led by working age folks and can't or don't want to take 12 days off. I see a ton of value in being on a small ship where a higher level of service is easier to maintain consistently and you're with like minded cruisers. Some would say family friendly is RC's strong suit, some would say they prefer not to be around the kids gone wild all day everyday and with this fleet, you can find what you like.
  20. That's great, didn't realize that was offered to upper suite folks! One of these days I'll try that all out....important to have goals right? Thanks for the info
  21. Seeing this offered as well for my Feb Navigator sailing, but to me for a short cruise not worth the extra dollars. Agree with others that it depends what you like. We're young to middle aged active cruisers, I don't like to over plan my day, I don't want a bunch of reservations out there and I certainly don't want to stand in line at guest services on this short sailing at all, for any reason, period. We always take late seating dining in the main dining room, in my experience the main dining room gets a lot of criticism it frankly doesn't deserve from all angles. Some people think it's way too formal and structured and other people don't think it's formal or good enough, it's been put in a really tough spot over the years. I think the food is perfectly fine. It's not wonderland every night, but it's fine. On our full week on Symphony earlier this year we planned ahead with reservations before sailing for hooked seafood, which was fine food but not amazing and slow service- not worth the upcharge and 150 central park which was amazing and worth every penny but very quiet and intimate, in my opinion if we did unlimited dining every night I would miss the company of our group and the fun stories of what did you do today, etc. For me, if we end up at playmakers or johnny rocket's then great, so be it and we'll just pay a couple bucks. But there are so many other great options for cruising, the added on boutique type restaurants are really for longer cruises with more time to plan things out. I want my 4 day to be a quick easy getaway, ultimate drink package, morning simple room service, then pool time, el loco fresh (which was awesome on symphony and is getting great reviews on navigator) relax, late seating Main dining room because I don't want to have to go down and get ready for dinner at 3:30 pm or just do buffet for dinner, cafe promenade is always there for late night snack or simple lunch and all of these are included, but that's just me. It's still free enterprise, you can spend as much money as you want and RC will certainly take it....
  22. Correct. I think royalup has worked very well to fix sorting demand for stateroom by category. Royal often has more "guaranteed balcony" staterooms fares sold than actual balcony staterooms available (or pick another category, I'm just using this for an illustration). Thus, the royalup emails get sent out a few weeks before your sailing and then depending on bids and status they reward the folks who were in balconies the chance to bid up the most to get into the junior suites, which are kind of an in between category that on many ships doesn't offer the whole high end experience. (You can also see that they've added a lot of these in the corners for front of the ships in each Amplified dry dock) Also lets high status customers or people already in the junior suites slide up to any unsold high end suites, etc etc. Just a good all around tool for Royal to sort everyone into a cabin they are happy with. Maybe they don't get the initial big up charge they wanted for some suites or other categories in the first place, but they do get a lot of valuable data on pricing demand, category breakdown, and customer trends moving forward. Hence, you almost never see last minute deals on suites or ocean view, they simply royal up and get more money from existing customers booked on that cruise, then blow out the cheap inside rooms in the bottom of the ship. It's obviously working very well for them. Anymore it's all about that big data and we are just the guinea pigs haha
  23. Agree with Ashely, just use a travel agent. Not only will they reprice (sometimes for a modest fee, but that can probably be more than paid for by your overall savings) they will almost surely be able to get you some onboard credit dollars as a perk just for using them, we've always done that to great success. Have cruised many times with groups from 6-30+ of us with my big family on Royal and princess, cannot stress the use of a good travel agent enough. They get paid commission by the cruise line, not us the cruisers and can answer all of the questions you have.
  24. Paying $60 per day one device voom and deluxe drink pkg on navigator 4 night in February 2020 and that's about the same as symphony was this past March.
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