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Everything posted by JeffB

  1. Sure, Meclizine does not work for everybody and I've had conversations with neurologists who have told me, it's not very effective. Hell, a martini works great for me . Seriously though, the kind of symptoms described by the OP can be classified as a condition called Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV). It is a vary common complaint among seniors and there are reasons for it - usually none indicating a serious condition - hence, "benign" - beyond the scope of this answer. The standard of care for this condition when it becomes persistent is a referral to who I call the "dizzy doctor." Well, they are usually physical therapists or rehabilitation medicine specialists trained in evaluating your vertigo and treating it with positional exercises as has already been noted. I'd add to that posters comment that identifying exactly which maneuvers to perform requires a step-wise approach to identify exactly which one of your 6 semicircular canals (3 on each side of your head) is causing the erroneous signal to your cerebellum. Then, you'll be prescribed specific maneuvers to do at home.
  2. Those RCL staff (or it may be terminal staff using tablets that connect with RCL's on-board health screening system) will accept digital proof of your negative Rapid AG test. Digital test reports might contain a QR code that when it is scanned your test results and all the required details of it (test date, type test, test result, time of result, etc.) are downloaded to RCL's system. I can't speak in detail about this issue but QR codes can be squirrely meaning the scanning device and associated software may not be able to read the QR code. I know this is an issue between countries in Europe. I've not heard that it is an issue between testing labs/clinics that produce a digital QR code containing test results and cruise lines that scan them. But for that reason, I try to carry a hard copy. If, in your case you can't print out a hard copy from your phone try this: on your phone, download the digital report as a.jpg file (there will be some kind of app installed on your phone or your phones browser to do that. Then email that file to yourself. If you have access to a PC connected to a printer (e.g. at home or office) open your email and print the attachment. Voila. Another option: return to the test center at the airport and ask them to print a copy of the results ...... that may be your best bet as I get from your post that you're traveling and won't be around a PC connected to a printer. Also airports have business centers. You may be able to access one of these and get to a PC that's connected to a printer. I'd say the chances of your digital AG test result on your phone working fine are high with only a minimal risk that it won't. Go with what you're comparable with.
  3. Blood etoh levels (alcohol concentration in the blood) and the detection of the specific proteins associated with SARS2 infection (COVID) are not related in any way. Nor is a COVID test going to detect you are over the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle. Just in case you are worried about that.
  4. Good catch ...... even though the proctored AG tests (e.g. Abbott's Binax Now among others) are considered reliable indicators of a COVID infection if present, the data suggests that a trained health care provider administering the test and having it read by that trained provider is a step up in reliability form the process available through a proctored AG test. My take is that this is hair splitting but it is what it is. I can't speak for other areas but testing provided by clinics within a pharmacy in south FL are easily accessible, have competent nurse practitioners who administer rapid AG tests and read and record the test results. You'll walk out with a print copy of the test results that meet CDC and FL State authority's requirements for reporting results. I recommend the U of Miami clinics associated with Walgreens pharmacies. You can call U Miami clinics directly, talk to a human and schedule a rapid AG test at a Walgreens that works for you. Good luck. We've got this.
  5. Some facts on this phenomena: Your vestibular apparatus - the semicircular canals in your skull and on both sides of your head - send signals to your cerebellum at the base of your brain responsible for collating all of your sensory inputs to keep you upright. Perseveration is the term used to describe the continuance of input from your vestibular apparatus to the cerebellum even when you're not actually experiencing them (e.g., the rocking motion of the ship you were on yesterday and are off of it today). You can shortcut the sensation of continuing motion you're experiencing after debarkation by taking OTC Meclizine (Bonine). Preferred to Benadryl because Meclizine has less sedative affects than Benadryl or you can just wait it out.
  6. Packing like you suggest is a really good idea. In all our travels, we've not lost or had a bag delayed yet (knock on wood). My bags have taken a beating. Maybe 6 or so years ago I bought a set of Samsonite Soft Sided Spinner luggage. It's as light (the material has carbon fibers interwoven) as the hard sided stuff. It was expensive but aside from one of the zipper pulls coming off (easily replaced) it has held up remarkably well considering what beatings bags go through. I also prefer the durability of soft sided luggage. When the light weight, hard sided luggage first came out, I tried it and in about 6 months I had holes/tears in the sides. I 've found the low cost stuff you find all over that the frames break down and they just doesn't last but maybe a couple of years if you travel a lot on an annual basis. IOW, you get what you pay for. But thanks for that great packing tip. Never thought of it.
  7. I've heard members here complaining about RCL's IT Department. I'm pretty sure that Celebrity uses the same frame work for it's APP. I have a cruise departing Port Everglades aboard Equinox on December 10th. I uploaded photos of our CDC vaccination cards on Thursday of last week. After reading this thread and out of curiosity, I opened the Celebrity App. The message that said "validating your vaccination record" after I uploaded the photos is gone and replaced by a green "your all set." TBF, my cruise is just over two weeks away. It may be how quickly your vax record is "validated" is based on how far off your cruise is.
  8. I stand by my "screw RCL's" use of Optum although I regret the use of the term "screw." One can parse the numbers but the more reliable vendor of rapid at home AG tests offering the best value is probably not RCL's Optum. It may or may not be an accurate position to say RCL wanted to use the purchase of rapid AG tests via Optum as a revenue stream. That's becasue we have no idea, at least I don't, what the contractual arrangements are between RCL and Optum. But knowing what I know about corporations and RCL in general, they're not looking for the best deal for their guests but rather to optimize profit margins in a very difficult time to do that - IOW, anything helps. Ask yourself why would RCL offer one single vendor and set up a link at the RCL web site to that vendor instead of providing a list of the many vendors out there offering the Abbot Binax Now test kits if there wasn't some kind of contractual stipulation that RCL will derive some benefit ?
  9. That's exactly what this is about. It's not about increased numbers of guests needing more time. That's not a problem now, even with the requirement to arrive only at your scheduled arrival time and won't be a problem going forward. My take is, once you've boarded, who cares whether your departure time is at 4, 5, 6 or whatever. More over, what's driving how many guests can be accommodated is crew staffing. Many Asian crews have been vaccinated in their home country but not with the approved vaccines required for entry to the US. Sinopharm is popular in Asia but it's not approved in the US. I'm told that laid off crew in the South East Asian region, e.g. Thailand, Philippines, can't get AZ, Pfizer, Moderna or J&J vaccines because the Chinese demanded sole rights to distribute in delivery contracts. Apparently this is a pretty big problem for the lines - getting crew legally into the US. That's not going to end anytime soon. There are a lot of frustrated and laid off crew who are itching to get back to work and shipboard duty save for having been vaccinated with US approved vaccines. The processes, for example, to obtain waivers (seems sensible), bring crew in, administer appropriate vaccines, accomplish the quarantine and testing routines is complicated by politics and varying PH protocols in the countries involved. I'm told by experienced staff that what seems as the simplest solution - take the approved vaccines to the crew you want back - isn't going to happen because corporate is taking the position they won't do that. It's not a cost or logistics issue, it's conflicting medical standards between countries, vaccine politics and the costly red tape to get something like that off the ground.
  10. I heard back from both my tour guide in Barbados and the company I booked with (Tours by Locals) and the tour my guide runs is not "Government Approved." So, in most cases, it appears if you sailing Celebrity, Barbados can not be visited on your own. Ship Excursions only. Having said that, check with the line you are cruising with. This may not be applicable to all lines and keep checking. This is a fast moving ball game.
  11. Personally, I don't have a problem with not getting off in any Caribbean port while on a Caribbean itinerary cruise. Destinations are not the primary reason I cruise the Caribbean annd I do so frequently sometimes spur of th moment as I live about 15 minutes from Prot everglades - $10 Uber or Lyft ride. TBF to Celebrity (and probably RCL) when I took my first Caribbean cruise on Equinox the week after Edge became the first cruise ship to make a revenue sailing from Fort Lauderdale, I think there was only one port (Coz) we could explore on our own and that changed the day before we got there (could still cycle through the port stores just couldn't go out in town). The rest were ship sponsored excursions only. I booked two and they were surprisingly good - the largest one had 22 guests, the other 12. Quality guides and great tour. Besides that both of them were under $100pp - I think they were like $65. My advise, especially if you love to cruise and have been to Caribbean ports once is to roll with it. Things change day to day. If you think exploration of a port on your own is green-lighted and you book a private tour on your own and you subsequently learn things changed and that port is now restricted, cancel the private tour (most will offer full refunds) and take a look at what the Excursions Desk is offering or stay aboard and take in a movie.
  12. First, get the EMed proctored AG tests direct from EMed - the 6pk costs $150. I ordered mine on their web site and they were delivered in 3 days - no charge. You can pay to get them overnight. Download the Navica App to your phone. Abbot and EMed - the makers of the BInaxNow AG tests (both types - non-proctored and proctored) and the lab Abbot selected to officially result AG tests - have partnered with Navica to provide a means for you to present either a digital QR code or hard copy letter as proof of proctored AG testing. I've used them for boarding Celebrity Millennium out of Fort Lauderdale last week without any problems. IOW, no question they were acceptable proof of a negative test. Second, the expiration date on the test kit box (only one test in the proctored kit, two in the self test) has probably been extended. I don't have the link but if you Google expiration date extension for Abbot Binax Now test kits, you'll find a letter from Abbot (check to make sure it's the most recent letter, there are several) that shows the extended expiration date for the test kits by product number (also on the box). The ones I bought in July, had an expiration date in October but was extended until February 2022. I carried that letter with me when I boarded Millennium just in case. Didn't need it then but will carry it again in December when I board Equinox and in February, 2022 when I board Reflection. Also, besides your digital proof that will reside in the Navica App (easy to use) you'll get an email from EMed Labs that will have an attachment containing a letter that is a hard-copy of your test results with all the required information on it. Download it to your PC and print it. Carry that just incase your phone or internet connection poops out when someone is asking for your test results in the terminal on boarding. Finally, the Binax Now unproctored AG tests, although they can't be used for poof of COVID testing to board a cruise ship can be used, for example, as a screening tool for upcoming holiday gatherings with family or friends. It may sound like overkill to some but surveillance testing of attendees to large family gatherings, especially if there are vulnerable, at risk family members attending, is a good way to make sure you won't become one of those super-spreader events. Even if you can get some but not everyone to get the tests (in FL, I see plenty of them in CVS and Walgreens and are about $23 for two tests), its a good step in mitigating spread. Finally, screw RCL for charging more for these tests than you can get commercially and direct from EMed.
  13. Well, this is pretty simple. I will cancel my privately booked tour in Barbados if I need a PCR test within three days of entry to get outside the terminal and meet my tour guide. No big deal...... except my tour guide loses income and continues to struggle financially. What's frustrating is the differences among country's entrance requirements pertaining to the pandemic. Not just in the Caribbean, although it is particularly stupid in this small region, but just about anywhere on earth that might be considered a tourist destination. This isn't hard. If you're vaccinated and can prove it your risk of spreading SARS2 to Barbadian locals is so low that the benefits to the tourist trades by allowing visitors meeting specific vaccination requirements to enter outweighs any disadvantages or risks to the local health care system even though it may by record be unable to cope safely and within its resources with a serious outbreak. The Caribbean Islands have a health consortium that can review the data and establish uniform and sensible travel rules in the post pandemic period (where we actually are now) for it's membership. Why can I visit Tortola or Antigua virtually unrestricted but have to show proof that I'm not infected with SARS2 to visit Barbados. Insanity. OK, done with rant ..... but it made me feel better.
  14. After your post, knowing I have a 12n S. Caribbean cruise booked on Celebrity Reflection leaving 12/10/21 that ports in Barbados, I quickly looked for updates on the Celebrity web site. Lo and behold, an 11/16/21 release of updated health and safety protocols listed for ports Celebrity visits in the Caribbean was located. Yep, Barbados is one of the ports that guests cannot explore independently and instead are required to book Celebrity excursions. But wait there is one of these: ** by Barbados. In the footnotes it states that in Barbados guests can explore on their own if they booked tours that are "government approved." Fine, is the tour I just booked in Barbados "government approves"? Can I exit the cruise port terminal and pass through Barbadian immigration authorities to get to my tour guide and not show that I've had a negative PCR test within 3 days of our port call? If I want one on board Reflection, can I get one? What is the cost? I've emailed the company (Tours by Locals) I booked a tour with in Barbados and the tour guide to see what they know about this. I'll let everyone know. Interesting times. Remain flexible.
  15. Something else relevant to the OP's Yay or Nay question on infection control measures in the Windjammer and elsewhere aboard cruise ships is this. If the SARS2 pandemic has taught us anything it is the omnipresence of viral pathogens that can both kill humans or make them seriously ill requiring hospitalization and post hospital rehab. The world's capacity to defeat these threats with vaccines, medical management and pharmaceuticals is more than amazing. But these pathogens are out there and new ones for which humans have no immunity, as was the case with SARS2, and capable of brining human activity to a halt, will arise and spread causing the same kind of social and economic disaster that SARS2 did to a world that was completely nonchalant about the dangers of these viruses. It should be a wake-up call for everyone to take infection control and the kinds of good hygiene that help achieve adequate levels of control seriously. One poster recounted that she was in favor of keeping guests from touching utensils or food in buffet settings and leaving that to wait and serving staff. Why? Because she was witness to too many guests being careless or ignoring health measures, e.g., vigorous and correct hand washing, before entering congregate settings where food is being served. I though it great she admitted to not doing the 20 second hand washing thing like she should at times. I'm guilty of that too. But also, I've cruised 6 times in 5 months since the restart, have scrupulously followed good infection control procedures of my own and that of the ships I've sailed on and not once gotten a hint of a URI or intestinal disorder. It can be done. Do it.
  16. What would be telling is to see RCL's actual infectious disease cases where guests sought treatment in medical (sx to include diarrhea, cough, runny nose, sore throat etc) since the restart with Health and Safety Panel Recommendations in place. I'd say only about 20-30% of guests suffering with such sx actually go to medical so take the number that do and increase it by 70%. My guess is that cases of infectious disease on board, not including COVID, is astonishingly low compared to pre-pandemic times. Peoples mostly informed gut feelings seen here by the number of "nays" are expressing that the benefits of hand washing/sanitizing, reducing touching surfaces in eating venues as well as toilets, theaters, etc. far exceed any draw backs or inconveniences to guest and/or crew produced by these protocols. There are very likely objective data to support continuing them. One thing the pandemic has done is increased our sensitivity to the potential of spreading infectious diseases. Before SARS2 being germ sensitive and practicing good hygiene measures wasn't a part of too many cruisers and travelers daily routines while aboard ship; maybe after they got Norovirus or a terrible chest cold they did. But it most certainly is now, or at least the numbers of those practicing good hygiene measures has increased. I can't argue persuasively that 90% of the protocols in place to prevent the spread of SARS2 shouldn't be retained. Guests may not like the inconveniences of following good hygiene and infection control protocols. But to have corporate back-off of them in the face of the remarkable improvement they have probably achieved in shipboard infection control, including preventing outbreaks of COVID aboard ships, would be monumentally stupid.
  17. Some tips from a Celebrity Loyalist but I've cruised RCL plenty of times. Many similarities. (1) Book with a travel agent (TA). I've used Cruises-N-More, MEI, Delta Sky Miles Cruises and Costco Travel. A long time ago I used AAA Travel services. No preference other than I look for the best perks offered by the TA. They vary substantially. Being able to get in touch with them is important (MEI is particularly good for guiding newbies to make good choices) (2) Study the fares (or incessantly bug your TA) and make sure you're getting the cabin and extras that you want and no more. Celebrity is notorious for their conspicuous marketing strategies that while some of them are very good deals, they are all tailored to get more money out of your pocket up front. Buy a drink package in advance ..... IF, and only IF, you are going to consume beverages in sufficient amounts to equal or exceed the daily cost. That's a lot of booze, soft drinks, coffees and squeezed OJ for most people. Do your homework and your math but it's nice just to walk up to any bar and drink-up, get a bloody at breakfast or have different wines during lunch or dinner. Oh, a nice double expresso (usually included in your package) is nice after you had a glass or two of wine for lunch. Remember, you're going to feel like you have to optimize your package and it's easy to drink too much in a day. Hangovers will dampen your enjoyment of the following days activities after a night of drinking martinis. Ask me how I know this. (3) During the pandemic, I'd stick with the shore excursions being offered by the ship. You can book privately now but there are still COVID things going on in ports where a port call might get cancelled due to an increase in case numbers. Once you get some experience (and this pandemic stuff ends) you can branch out. Prices of excursion sponsored by the ship are pretty reasonable these days compared to privately arranged tours. (4) Pack wisely and don't go overboard on weight and or space. Google cruise packing tips. There's good stuff out there on the web. Shoes are hard!! Put some liquid soap in a pump dispenser in your checked bag. It's nice to have that in your cabin's head (that's, the correct term for a bathroom on board a ship). We've started bringing sticky/removable hangers that you can stick on the cabin walls. Hang caps, light jackets (AC makes hallways, and eateries cold) or most anything that won't go in your closet. Bring one of those light weight folding laundry baskets to keep your dirty undies under control. (5) Someone already listed this but it bears emphasis: know the testing protocols and document requirements for boarding. Insure you arrive at the cruise terminal with everything you need including boarding pass, passport, test results, proof of vaccination. Importantly, arrange all your documents so they are immediately at hand and you aren't fumbling around to find them. Make use of the Royal App. Never used it but Celebrity Cruises -an RCL co-brand - probably is identical to RCL's It is very cool and useful. A little janky but once you start using it, it works. You can do a lot of pre-boarding stuff, like upload a copy of your passport and vax card, and have this all digitally available on your phone. Beware though that hard copies should be carried in case your phone or internet connection poops out right when you enter the terminal and someone is asking for your boarding pass!!! (6) Do do one specialty restaurant but even though you might be enticed, the main dinning room complimentary food and table service is great. There will be deals during your cruise. For example, on Celebrity one or more of the specialty restaurants will offer lunch. Usually the same or slightly compacted menu at 1/2 price. Check it out and ask for discounts for dinner. The Food and Beverage Manger will offer these when demand is low and you'll only see that when bookings actually start happening on board. Ask away. All of us here love to talk about cruising.
  18. In general, you are correct and also that position is in keeping with CDC guidelines on testing asymptomatic people. However, I'd argue cruising is a different ball game than where your average joe on the street sits. For example, you're traveling to an EU port and you're flying in to that port 2d before your sail date. The country you're traveling to requires you to be vaccinated with proof and present a negative antigen test within 72h (PCR) or 48h (AG) of arrival. Do you want to risk the entire trip getting blown up because you tested positive on either an AG or PCR test taken within the window? You'll be in an avoidable scramble mode having to cancel airline tickets, transport and excursion booked privately if you arranged this and hotel reservations. Your cruise fare is protected and let's hope you had travel insurance to cover the other cancellation penalties you will incur. Do self tests for everyone in your traveling party a week before the start of the window period to avoid that circumstance. For cruises from US ports, maybe not getting tested in advance works for you. OK, IMO, if you're asymptomatic. If you have what you think might be COVID symptoms in the period leading up to the week before the testing window starts, I'd recommend self testing with a rapid antigen test at least 3d after symptoms appeared and again in 5-6d. But you're right this is a "to each his own" circumstance. A good idea if you're sweating this.
  19. For the type of screening tonyfsu21 appears to be doing, use a self test (e.g. Binax Now) a week before the start of the 2d antigen screening window. I'd not recommend doing a proctored test as, yes, at least for the Binax Now Proctored Tests we used, state health authorities and the CDC are notified of results....official labs like Emed which Abbot (Binax Now) uses in proctored testing is required by law to report results of testing to state PHA's and the CDC. What comes of that information I have no idea. If you test positive on the at home self screening AG test, schedule a PCR test within the 3d window period. If it's positive well, C'est La Vie, you're not going cruising and other guests on your cruise will thank you.
  20. I think you are asking two separate questions and I assume you are vaccinated: (1) What should we do if a person in a group traveling/sailing together tests positive before we leave home (outside the 2 or 3 day testing window)? (2) If I had contact with that person who tested positive in the period before we left home, what is the risk that I will test positive at some point on the cruise? Let's deal with question (2 ) first: Contact means inside of 3 meters (6 feet) for a prolonged period (around 15 minutes). If you don't meet those requirements, risk of exposure that results in a COVID infection occurring after you board and producing symptoms prompting a trip to medical where you might test positive and face COVID protocols on board your ship are very low - and I should emphasize if symptoms develop while sailing, be honest and go get tested. Can you spread SARS2 if you actually develop an asymptomatic infection yourself while on board? Theoretically yes but the risk is low and actually spreading virions sufficient to cause an infection in others through respirations is also low. If you're concerned about this, don a mask when you can't maintain social distancing (e.g., in an elevator). If you can wait until after 3d from contact with your traveling partner to get your pre boarding test and it's negative, I'd go ahead and board. Assessing your risk of exposure from contact with this person is key in your own personal risk assessment of developing an infection later and while on board. Back to question (1): If the positive test result for the person in question was from an antigen test, get a confirmatory PCR test in the 3d pre-boarding window if possible (depending on availability in the area you are getting tested in, 1d PCR results are available and usually covered - not always - by your health insurance); if it's negative that person should proceed with traveling/boarding- this isn't CDC guidelines but cruising is a different ball game. Use your head. If the PCR test produces a positive result, that person is definitely out. They'll get a full refund if they cancel before boarding. It get's trickier if the person, family members in the same household or traveling companions in the same stateroom tests negative on the confirmatory pre-boarding PCR test but has pre-boarding COVID symptoms (sore throat, cough, runny nose, fever or diarrhea). This is a worst case scenario. Everyone in your party should truthfully answer the yes/no questions on the health screening from. You'll be subject to additional screening measures (probably an antigen test in the terminal) or may be denied boarding - you'll get a full refund for being honest. Think about this from a safety and public health viewpoint. It's good for you and good for other guests on board.
  21. The CDC's apparent plan is to let the CSO become a recommendation after January 15th, 2022. I say this because Fain commented on this when he was asked what was RCL going to do with COVID protocols after the 15th if the CSO expires? His response amounted to, "nothing," reflecting the view that RCL, along with most of the cruise lines, have adopted the health and safety protocols contained in CLIA's Healthy Sail Plan and will continue these. The question came specifically in the context of questions for vaccination requirements to board for kids 5-11. His response was non-specific and my read on them was that kids older than 5 will at some point have to be vaccinated to board but it's going to be a while. Current protocols will continue for unvaxed kids. We've sailed 6 times since July and will have completed a 7th before the end of the year- a good 45d aboard. We've been aware of 5-8 guests testing positive on just one of those sailings (see below). We've complied with all health and safety protocols including a short masking requirement inside aboard a west bound Atlantic crossing on Apex from Barcelona. After we left our last port call in Teneriffe and all crew and guests testing negative, the indoor mask requirement was ended. We've felt COVID safer on cruise ships than any other venue were people might congregate indoors and outdoors. The masking requirement indoors on our Apex sailing was apparently precipitated by a small outbreak aboard Apex repositioning from Athens to Rome to Barcelona right before the crossing. We heard 5 guests tested positive after boarding in Rome - all EU citizens who were negative on boarding, developed symptoms, reported to medical and were subsequently tested positive. They were isolated and removed from the ship in Barcelona. Somewhere around 60 contacts, 2/3 crew, were quarantined, tested 2X in 10d and released. None of them tested positive. Apparently no one got seriously ill requiring hospitalization. IOW, my small sample size sailings are consistent with CDC numbers of some 450 COVID cases reported onboard cruise ships.... and, of course out of context and entirely misleading. By my count, during the the sailings I made over a 5 month period and among around 6000 other guests we experienced 5 positives none of which developed serious illness. That's a 0.00125 occurrence rate. I would imagine that rate is below any similar venues where people gathering there catch a cold (coronavirus). The point is that public health officials need to start recognizing the cost of significant restrictions and other precautions involving limiting mobility and social contact are not justified in environments where viral prevalence/infection rate, including breakthrough infections in the vaccinated population, is low (about 3%). I support vaccination requirements and, at this point, I believe they should only be mandated in indoor congregate gatherings for specific high risk age cohorts and/or people with certain medical conditions (epidemiologist now know at what age risks of serious COVID symptoms increases and what medical conditions predispose people to higher morbidity and mortality from exposure to SARS2). I also support wide spread surveillance testing to determine local prevalence rates and the need to implement or strike local mitigation measures and health protocols. We're entering a post pandemic phase of limited and controllable/manageable epidemic SARS2 infections. The need to shut things down or overly restrict access, mobility and social contact on a widespread basis should end (end the PHE at the national and state level) and citizens should be encouraged to return to normal activities while public health officials offer guidance on how to keep from getting sick from SARS2. Nothing new here but public reassurance and awareness will go a long way to reestablishing the public's confidence to return to normal activities of daily living.
  22. Last sea day on Millennium and for Cruisellama a review of Tuscan Specialty restaurant for lunch. First, there are twoTuscan lunch services on sea days. One is a compacted regular dinner menu at $25pp. Second is the sea food special that features Lobster Thermadore and Cococonut Shrimp. Branzino and a red snapper are on the menu too. That one is $40pp. I would call the specialty dining up-charge worth it for the Tuscan Sea Food special. We had the coconut shrimp and lobster thermadore - dishes prepared as we would not get them in local restaurants ashore. Started with bread basket with fresh basil and olive oil, baked scallops, very nice, and a watermelon and feta cheese salad - a Celebrity fave of mine. The main courses were shrimp and lobster prepared in a heavy sauce with lots of cream and butter. You cannot go wrong with those ingredients appropriately seasoned. The coconut shrimp had a distinct yet subtle coconut flavor. The lobster, more of a subtle mushroom flavored sauce. Both excellent. I paired my lobster thermadore with a Pinot Noir (Cherry Pie). My wife likes reds and is not particular; she had a cab with her coconut shrimp - Conundrum and if you're not familiar it is really good and a pretty good copy of the much more expensive Caymus wines. There were two sides served with the mains - au gratin potatoes and a baked cauliflower also in a cheese sauce. Dessert was an English Trifle (a cake/custard sort of thing) one banana one strawberry. Table service was attentive as is the case in the specialty restaurants where the guest to wait staff ratio is much better than in the mains. Never a dirty plate or empty glass. The food, service and presentation were of very high quality and worth the up-charge of $40. Now specifically to Cruisellema's observation. You are correct there are some Tuscan improvements/upgrades but these are not as extensive as elsewhere. Here they cut some corners. The area of the ship the Tuscan is in was formerly the Olympia. That was before all the classic cruise liner themed restaurants on the Century and Millennium class ships were eliminated in 2016 and replaced with Tuscan Grill. Not a popular change at all. The old area that contained the Olympia area was cut in half so the Tuscan is smaller and a bit more intimate. The ceiling of the Olympia remains. That's about all that's left of some of the beautifully displayed artifacts of this cruise ship of the golden age. So, the furniture is getting a bit worn ("tired") as Cruisellama noted. The entrance is upgraded and the Tuscan area has a much different design. It's fine and doesn't distract from the excellent dining experience for the Seafood themed Tuscan lunch. Can't speak for the dinner or other sea day Tuscan lunch experiences. I think in general, the Tuscan has not been particularly popular but no question Celebrity has tried. The seafood menu is an example and it is good.
  23. I did find the F&B manager and his assistant outside the entrance to the theater. When I asked (careful not to complain) about circulating bar staff I did not get the line, "we are trending to self service." In fact, they were very forthright about working out staffing issues as Celebrity gets back up to hosting ship's at capacity. There is no intention to not have circulating bar servers. In the interim wait staff are being instructed to ask if the guest would like a beverage from the bar. It seems that message may not be getting through to wait staff. Was told, "we will fix this" ..... and I got a bottle of Champagne in my room thanking us for letting them know. Classic Celebrity.
  24. We will eat lunch in Tuscan tomorrow. I'll report back after that. I'll try to track down the Food and Beverage manager and ask about the lack of circulating bar staff. In the Ocean View Cafe, there is a walk up wine and beer service. There were two bar staff (in sommelier uniforms). For other alcoholic beverages to be consumed in the Ocean View the Sunset bar was it. Except for that first day right after boarding, it was easy to get a beverage in either of those two bars.
  25. It's was and remains a beautiful ship. It sails from terminal 25 (at least it did for this sailing). If it continues to do so for your sailing, parking at the Palm Garage right across the street is a good value if you're on a 4d sailing. $15 per day amounts to $60 which is what Uber/Lyft cost from Coconut Creek area where we live. Drop your bags off first then U-Turn and head back to the Palm Garage on your right, get a ticket and find a place to park. There's construction going on within level 1 and it is closed off. We found a place on level 2. Palm Garage looked looked pretty full. Celebrity and Port Everglades have this check in thing down. I hope the scheduled arrival times continues. It really eases the crowds - we rarely book Concierge but did this time we did because it was cheaper than a balcony. We also booked a GTY cabin on the advice of my TA. Part of my CC was $50 pp incentive to do that. The cabin assignment was fine because the COVID era and health and safety protocols limit guests making plenty of cabins available. I did not know this but you get priority boarding by virtue of giving you the option of an 11:30 -12:00 arrival time (you also get priority departure - a QR code in your cabin scanned with your phone will take you to a web page to detail your departure preferences. 7:30 am was available - bags delivered to and picked up in terminal. Cabins aren't ready and Millennium doesn't have the same system as the Edge Class ships use where you can go straight to your cabin even if you board early. Sea Pass cards though are in an envelope on your cabin door. The check-in thing at a counter has been eliminated. It's all done with hand-held tablets as you go through the check-in process. Cabins were announced ready a little before 1pm. Concierge also gets you baggage priority. Our luggage was at our cabin when we got to it at 1pm. Your documents get checked several times. Check-in with the Celebrity App then print your boarding pass and test results. For us, it's easier to have paper copies even though they are also in digital form on our phones. I've found it frustrating to get your phone powered up after it shuts off automatically and locate the digital copies on your phone. YMMV. When you see other guests unprepared to present their boarding pass, passport and test results, fiddling around in their carry-on stuff or their phones, when you're prepared, you just walk right by them get through immigration and security checks and head to the gangway. Took us about 10 minutes from walking into the terminal to heading up the gangway. I think what made me think there were more guests aboard than there actually were was that the Ocean View Cafe and Sunset bar area, both all the way aft, were busy when we went there immediately after boarding. Not such that you couldn't get what you wanted to eat and drink easily, just a lot of people milling around with bags. My advice is to check everything with the porters curb side. Something else worth mentioning, short cruises over the weekends attract younger guests. Seems to me guests like the Everything Included packages. So, drinking starts right away and goes on all day every day. The pool bars (including Mast) are packed during the day. The Martini Bar is also mobbed from about 5pm until well after 9p. That there are less than 1000 guests makes me wonder how available service at a bar will be when Millennium class ships are full. We found two bars that were relatively calm and quiet - Rendevouz on deck 5 aft and the Sky Lounge on deck 11 all the way forward. Cellar Masters bar is the old Martini Bar, replaced with an Ice Bar, is adjacent to Sushi on 5. It's small so fills up fast. Also of note there is no bar servers right now wandering about and taking drink orders in the Ocean View Cafe or the Metropolitan. I suspect that's a staffing issue as have always seen them prior to COVID and they were plentiful on both Edge and Apex as well as Equinox all of which we've sailed aboard since July. There are some in the pool area I believe but we don't frequent the pool. Hope this stuff is helpful for those of you sailing on the Millennium the remainder of this year.
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