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Everything posted by Temeculaguy

  1. Oh no, we just booked anthem for a transatlantic next year, I hope they get it together by then since some of it may just be a staffing attitude or protocol related issue. I purposefully started with older ships to avoid letdowns (Radiance, Adventure, Liberty and Navigator) before moving on to quantum class on Anthem, then continue, avoiding Wonder until the last. I also planned the room class to rise from suite guarantee to owners suite to do the same. Truth is we loved them all despite the pandemic placing them out of order due to lift and shifts and the grand suite ended up our sweet spot so that is what we booked on Anthem. Last thing I wanted to read was this especially since some of our relatives who are regular RC cruisers said Anthem was their favorite ship. But as others have stated, it still beats working! We had fantastically friendly staff on Adventure and Liberty, best we've found on any cruise line pre-pandemic. Many have not been allowed to go ashore in most ports and many accepted demotions (ie. busboys were formerly lead waiters) in order to stay employed so the lifting of restrictions should improve crew morale but since our experience with RCL thus far has been fantastic, I'm only hoping for equal service when in fact it might be better. But I employ a secret weapon, call it an ugly american thing but I slip the waiter a $20 bill each night at the MDR or the specialty restaurants at the beginning of the meal, it's a fraction of the tip I'm expected to give for a comparable meal at home with inferior service and I know they are earning less on these limited capacity sailings. I also tip a dollar or two a drink even with the DBX, I request a receipt I can sign so I can tip if i don't have cash on me but prefer to tip in cash as they don't have to share cash tips, just keep it discreet or palm it with a handshake. Other cruise lines always provide a tip opportunity receipt, I noticed royal rarely does without a specific request. A lesson I learned from all inclusive land resorts, only drawback is the odd look I get at my bank when I ask for a few hundred dollars in 1's and 5's before the trip. Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton and Jackson have an incredible influence on service, and will make you friends on both on land and sea anywhere in the world.
  2. We went in January and broke with our conventional wisdom of staying near the port and stayed in downtown Houston (pre and post cruise). Hilton americas and downtown embassy suites and took a private shuttle at 1030 am for a noon check in and were early (Sunday had no traffic). Downtown Houston was neat and you could walk everywhere. Friends had told us Galveston in winter wasn't great and not walker friendly or transport friendly since it only needs ubers/taxi's one or two day a week it's not a robust industry, but their experiences were pre-pandemic. We enjoyed it with one exception, our return to the hotel was unknowingly during the houston marathon and our hotel was the finish line so the streets were blocked off for about two blocks in all direction. Our driver dropped us as close as he could get us and we all had to take our luggage a few blocks through a crowd, but it's a funny story now. Some of our group cam in more than one day ahead and some stayed more than a night after so it was more about entertainment, dining and things to do than proximity for us as we faced flight disruptions and cancellations due to the Omicron peak. None of which will apply to you.
  3. It was included on Liberty last month, I think once a ship is "amplified" it may go away and become a free standing starbucks and not included, which seems a little silly. Adventure's cafe promenade had pizza , breakfast mcmuffins and lots of food, the one on liberty was pretty much just a starbucks with some pastries but it was mostly dedicated to coffee. Yet both say cafe promenade so its included. but liberty has sorrentos for pizza in a separate shop.
  4. All cruises have a formal night, usually once on a 3-5 day cruise and twice on a 7+. How formal can vary wildly, my brother and I own tuxedos and wear them on the first formal night but we are the outliers, Most men wear a suit and ties seem to be 50/50. At the same token I saw a woman in yoga pants that same night, but she was an outlier as well. To each their own, in her defense they were lululemon yoga pants so at least they were fancy yoga pants!
  5. First off if you are cruising in the next few months, I'd get a refund on the key regardless of if you get upgraded. Other than over Christmas, most ships are at a fraction of capacity right now, there are no lines. If your cruise is this summer or to Alaska, then it may very well feel like pre pandemic crowds so you have to make a decision. As far as the beverage package, if you aren't diamond and if your upgrade isn't to star class, it barely factors into the DBX. Grand and Owners suites only get you free drinks for an hour or two before dinner in the suite lounge, the rest of the time you are paying. If two drinks between 5 and 7pm are going to swing the math then maybe the DBX isn't for you either way. I had an OS and an GS and the suite lounge happy hour was only about 4 drinks total all week because it only works in a specific place for a short time. The free 4-5 drinks for diamond available anytime, anywhere and every day makes the math different but has no relationship to your room because diamond has a similar lounge. Unless I'm wrong, but I went to the cappachino machine in the suite lounge quite a few times and there was no staff or alcoholic drinks to be had outside of happy hour.
  6. We were on Liberty in January and I hate the stress of trying to make flights so I booked a later flight and stayed onboard until the bitter end which was 9:30ish. Our car service was scheduled for 10 and we made our way out of the room at 930, with so few passengers onboard we were off and and picked up our luggage by 9:45 (ours were the last pieces of luggage in our designated area so they were easy to find). MDR and the buffet breakfast had a deadline like Patty mentioned but we grabbed starbucks and something like fruit or a pastry, went back to the room and had that while we finalized packing. They called our section but that doesn't mean you have to go, it means you can go. We left with the last group. You don't need to ask for a late exit, our last two cruises we were given the earliest exits because of our suites had priority but we left with the final stragglers. I wouldn't have your ride come much after 10, by 1030 or 11 people will be arriving to board and most ports have limited seating or amenities for those waiting. 10 was perfect, it was nearly empty by then, we ate at the airport later since we had time to kill once there. Adjust my experience with regards to your kids and their feeding schedule, my wife has never eaten breakfast on a cruise or any vacation on any day, let alone the final day. Her idea of vacation is sleeping through breakfast so the 0830 coffee and the 930 walkout is a struggle as it is.
  7. the first cruises out of the Bahamas that didn't touch US soil and avoided the CDC had those adhesive waterproof paper wristbands that never line up correctly and stick to your skin. I was happy to see the slip knot satin ones on our next cruise. Mine was loose enough that I guess I could have gotten it off but I didn't, the beverage package helped me to not care or notice I had it on.
  8. 5 weeks ago it was Amit C. As far as drinks, they brought them to you and they were very quick. Since I had the drink package I wouldn't know if they were free. For some reason the Kendall Jackson Cab was out at most places onboard and it was our favorite by the glass cab o their menu. They always seemed to have it or could find it up there so we started just going there to meet the other couples in our group before dinner just for the wine hookup! First world problems.
  9. Carnival now counts it in lieu of testing but only for 90 days. The CDC recently released Delta data from California and New York showing natural immunity was more protective against the Delta variant for hospitalizations than any brand of vaccine. It's their study so they should consider it, hopefully soon. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7104e1.htm I'm not being political and the CDC isn't hiding it, it's just not getting a lot of media attention. The link is the cdc website and this is their summary on their website: During May–November 2021, case and hospitalization rates were highest among persons who were unvaccinated without a previous diagnosis. Before Delta became the predominant variant in June, case rates were higher among persons who survived a previous infection than persons who were vaccinated alone. By early October, persons who survived a previous infection had lower case rates than persons who were vaccinated alone.
  10. Casinos track the spending habits of gamblers to the point that it is it's own science. That science still shows smokers are more valuable than non smokers, when that changes, so will their rules. I think flavorless, low vapor ecigs could solve the problem with the limited distance between smoking and non smoking sections, since it eliminates the smell, the drift and the second hand issues 50 feet away. But the smokers aren't there yet, especially the high rollers from foreign countries that have higher smoking rates and often much higher bets. I'll bet Royal already has the casino revenue per person from the cruises before the smoking ban and during and those numbers are the reason smoking is back regardless of some people's personal experiences or anecdotal observations. I don't like the musicals and shows, I would prefer they did something else with all that space, time and money but it turns out I'm not in the majority so part of my fare goes to something I don't enjoy. But I'm not mad about it, I understand that a private business caters to their guests, they pivot when it makes them more money or gets them more guests, not less money and guests and they certainly don't make all their decisions based on exactly what I want, they do what works for them.
  11. Carnival is now accepting proof of positive and recovery within 90 days in lieu of pre-cruise testing. In a way both things are happening, I expect royal to announce something soon. I did notice on their healthy sail section it looks like Feb 15th will be the end of the masks everywhere and back to vaccinated areas only for no masks. Under "do I need to wear a mask" in the faq, it's much more bold on ther website where it says departing through February 14th masks in vaccinated areas. Not sure of they just left that there when they extended it but in their extension they didn't mention it. That is 6 days away so I guess we will see soon. Masks are NOT required to be worn: In open-air areas of the ship, unless you are in a crowded setting In the pool or any activity where they may become wet At venues designated for vaccinated guests only, such as select bars, lounges, restaurants, shows and Casino Royale. NOTE: For cruises departing through February 14, 2022, masks must be worn in vaccinated-only venues. In your stateroom when you are with your traveling party While visiting our private destinations, unless you are in a crowded setting By any guest under the age of 2
  12. I think it may be happening sooner than later. many of the last remaining states with mandates, I believe 9 in all announced today plans to roll them back. Here in California, with some of the strictest rules throughout the pandemic we are throwing in the towel February 15th, no more masks in all but hospitals and mass transit, no testing needed to visit in hospitals or nursing homes or mega events and more rollbacks to come including schools but no date announced today on that. While it isn't the center of the universe, it is about 1/8 of the US population. With New Jersey rolling back soon it almost covers all the states with cruise ports since Texas and Florida are mandate free. I think Royal will trail behind but stay near what is happening on land. I have a mid March cruise and hoping to at least go back to pre-omicron protocols of vaccinated areas and pretty much just wearing them in hallways and elevators and most people barely following those rules. But I've had 3 shots and got covid three weeks ago so I will be particularly crabby about wearing a mask since I am statistically the lowest possible candidate to spread or catch it no matter what study you look at. I think the odds of me catching or spreading it are near the same as winning the powerball since I have three modernas and an omicron circulating in me. I caught it a week after getting off a cruise, tested negative every day for a week after and none of the other couples we traveled with caught it and we were maskless together at meals, outside and on excursions and in cabs. I got it wearing a mask back home, probably at a store or at work, following all of the rules which to me seem silly since it didn't protect me but no matter, it was just like a cold.
  13. I agree, I guess my point is on oasis and quantum class ships they throw in free voom with suites above a junior suite and the beverage package and specialty dining with the highest classes of suites on those same ships but it's not "free" it is priced in. We had a grand suite and an owners suite on non quantum/oasis ships and have the same rooms on a quantum in the future. I remember the salesman onboard telling me we will get "free" internet and coastal kitchen access that didn't have before. But it's not really free because the same room costs much more on those ships, granted they are newer ships and have more things but it's not "free" it is "included." Build a "free" coco cay beach club for suites and they will more than likely raise the price of the suite accordingly. The current set up gives you the option.
  14. If they provide it for suite guests they would increase the price of the suites accordingly. Some classes of ships throw in additional things for suite guests but the suites cost more vs the class that doesn't throw those things in. I've written before that I think they should quadruple the number of cabana's and cut the price in half, they would net nearly twice the $$. We went here during the restart and had two days on coco cay. We bought a land based beach club cabana one day and an over water cabana the other day. They were selling them at half price due to the low volume and I believed it was a value if you had 6-8 people. We had already planned on buying our way into the beach club for about 100 a day each. We had only 6 people so the difference was like $125 per couple to get the land based and $200 per couple for the floating. While there weren't 8 loungers (I think there was 4) there was also a sectional couch, a table with 4 chairs and a hammock think over the water, plus people went it pools, the ocean, there was never a problem because nobody sat in a lounger all day but that was our group, yours might be different. At full price I doubt we'd do the cabana but we would go back to the beach club, but we will miss those cabanas at that price they were very enjoyable.
  15. $80 a day seems high, all three of our 7 day cruises were in the low 50's and a 3 day was low 60's. On 4 different ships from 4 different ports all in 2021 and 2022. We drink mostly red wine and the last two cruises our fav was about $12 or $13. We tried some more expensive one and just paid the difference between the $13 allowance and the cost but we preferred the included one. 4 glasses is $52 and we never had only 4 in 24 hours so it worked for us, sometimes it worked out very well on sea days. If we were beer drinkers I would probably just pay a la carte, but then again the last two cruises we were on the Starbucks was included (adventure and liberty), plus we had sodas, juice, etc. So it was really just the $30 more than the non alcoholic beverage package, covered that with 3 glasses at dinner. The main reason we choose the package is because I'd rather not worry about it and I like paying for it well ahead of time. I've cruised without it and my bill was much, much higher but everyone is different. We have an 11 day transatlantic in 2023 and will be diamond for the first time. I'm prime so I get free drinks in the casino. I may choose to not buy it if they still give you 4 drinks a day for diamond because the break even changes to 8-9 a day not including the casino, that probably won't pencil out but I'll wait and see the daily price and there a lot of sea days and an indoor pool on anthem that beckons for us to have a few a day just in the pool no matter the weather.
  16. I hope someone posts afterwards about your experience, gives tips and tells about the weather as we just booked the same cruise for May 2023. We were on a cruise two weeks ago and booked via next cruise without much research. It's such a rare cruise there wasn't a lot of reviews or videos, but the dates worked perfectly for us.
  17. Liberty 01/09 was 1300, was told by staff the following cruise leaving on 01/16 was going to be 600.
  18. Going on Liberty Sunday, leaving for the airport in the morning, this is going to be a nail biter! Worst case scenario they cancel after we land, we rent a car and spend some time in Texas until we either get an earlier flight back or our scheduled one happens. I like Texas. Might need to buy some warmer clothes as we are mostly packed for the Caribbean. Oh well, the wife likes shopping for clothes, I like BBQ, worse things happen to people every day.
  19. how did you end up in quarantine? were you sick and took a test on the ship or were tested as part of contract tracing. I have a few thousand employees and the unvaccinated are tested weekly. They regularly test positive on the antigen test especially when they have a cold and this last week half those who test positive with rapid tests then test negative with pcr tests. I really don't want to get sent to a quarantine deck for an asymptomatic false positive. I don't anticipate a test at all onboard. Or are you a staff member? I also am curious how your wife tested out of quarantine so quickly, all reports so far is a positive in the same cabin sends the whole room home at the next port. Plus those with covid tend to test positive on both tests beyond recovery of symptoms, hence the new guidance that after 5 days from onset your are likely not contagious. It's all so preplexing.
  20. Lattitud 33 in El Valle de Guagalupe at El Cielo winery (20 miles outside of of Ensenada). While the port has some of Anthony Bourdain's favorites, local So cal folks who regularly take the short cruises to Ensenada realize quickly the port has limited offerings. 20 miles North East is the wine region of El Valle De Guadalupe and it's foodie scene, worth the excursion or chartering a driver. Lattitud 33 is ranked 5th on tripadvisor, so that means I have 4 more to try. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g150770-d5598013-Reviews-Latitud_32-Ensenada_Ensenada_Municipality_Baja_California.html Always a wait but the peacocks that wander the property and the fresh bread bakery will distract you during your wait. 0FA252B7-ED80-4960-8F1C-B2DAF96E0C43.heic
  21. Someone posted on the passenger count thread for Liberty that left yesterday was 2100. I guess that is about 50% (3,798 double occupancy, 4,960 maximum occupancy). I think the 9th should be a bit lower as school breaks will be mostly over.
  22. Amen sister! We have an owners suite starting Sunday but not bringing any kids so I am just hoping we don't get tested as part of contract tracing and be asymptomatically moved. If god forbid one of us felt a cold coming on I'd rather just stay in my room and order MDR room service. We've already lifted and shifted once, I want that room and got a steal on it while the world was panicking.
  23. It will be interesting to see the capacity percentage with the combination of airline issues, testing scarcity and CDC propaganda. We went on Adventure in August at 25% capacity and it was awesome and safe at the same time, never saw a line for anything and rarely waited for or shared an elevator. Hoping they go back to vaccinated areas without masks but realize that is not likely, still going however. Triple vaxed with Moderna and since the weather should be ideal will hang outside most of the time, heard they moved music outside at night. We wore masks on Adventure getting from place to place and it's no big deal, we rarely go to shows and if the casino is all masks I'll save a few grand. Mexico has already said they will not deny ships for any reason and that's 2 of the 3 ports, been to Mexico 5 times during pandemic and we were fine, wife got montezuma's once but no covid in Cabo, PV or Cozumel and hardly saw masks other than moving to places indoors. Speaking of heavy cancellations, our Adventure cruise we got 2 days at coco cay and an over water cabana and a beach club cabana both for half off, two of the best vacation days of my life, fortune favors the brave.
  24. We have liberty in Jan 22 and radiance in alaska in Ausust at 53, but a 3 day on navigator out of LA in march for 63. Shorter cruises seem to have higher numbers. we usually get the internet and DBX because that combo sometimes saves a few bucks a day. All of it worth it in my opinion, we are picky red wine drinkers and for the three day cruise we have adult children and their spouses on my tab so it prevents surprises. It also prevents my wife from adopting random bachelorette parties and me finding 1500 bar tabs the next day and having to have those difficult conversations about philanthropy and tax deductions for donations that she never seems to fully grasp. She's a wonderful woman, I'd hate to have to repeat that experience, unfortunately the IRS doesn't recognize broke bachelorettes as an actual charity.
  25. I hope it is not true, I assume they will move the live music outdoors. If the casino is all masked then it almost makes no difference to me. I won't spend much time there but that will save me 2k, I'll just sit outside with my brothers and smoke cigars and drink instead. I want to go to shows but truth be told we make it to one show every 5 cruises. As long as my test comes back negative I'm going, cancelling now means the terrorists win.
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