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Everything posted by MarkusB

  1. Hi, Most likely I did not pay attention, nonetheless I wanted to reach out to the community and see if they encountered the same issue. My wife and I booked a cruise in January 2022 whilst on the Allure using a sales rep from the "Next Cruise" for September 2022. We were told the double points promotion was still on. Because if this we booked a 9 day cruise in a Junior suite, which should yield 36 points (9 nights x 2 for Jr. Suite x 2 for promotion). The sales rep confirmed this. Unfortunately I don't have it in writing. After returning from our last cruise we noticed that we only got credit for 18 points, not for 36 as expected. I reached out to the Crown and Anchor support, but I haven't heard back from them. Anybody else having a similar experience? Markus
  2. We had an arrival time window from 11:30 am to noon. We arrived around 11:20am. We went right through (OK, we had also a Jr. Suite, not sure if that makes a difference). The boarding was quick for us, except that we had to go 3 rounds until they could ready our boarding passes. They had a technical issue with 2 readers. Markus
  3. Here a short summary of our latest cruise on the Adventure of the Seas. The good stuff first: · Ports of call were great: Boston, MA - Bar Harbor, ME - Portland, ME – Saint John, NB – Halifax, NS. Regardless of the colder and mostly rainy weather we enjoyed mostly self-guided tours. The Hop-on/Hop-off “Pink Bus” in Saint John was great and provided a good overview of the area. The final walk through the city was nice too. The 7-hour “Top 10 best of Halifax tour” was nice, but way too rainy and cold. We even had a leak in the bus dripping water on us due to the heavy rain. Tour guide was great, and we heard some really good stories. · Stateroom 6694: This was our first Junior Suite. The location was on deck 6 in the aft. Perfect for this cruise, because of the location the balcony was never too cold. The obstructed view did not bother us at all. · Staff: As always, the staff on Royal Caribbean ships are extremely friendly and helpful. We noticed a few novices, but they did their best and we felt always welcome. · Embarkation: Except for a small hic-up ad the port where they had issues checking us in, we were boarded within 30 minutes of arriving at the port at 11:30am. We could even access our stateroom around 12:45pm – Great! · Specialty Restaurants: We had the UDP and enjoyed the good select of food and hospitality of Chops, Giovanni’s, and Izumi. Here some not so good things: · Organization: This was one of the worst experience we had with Royal Caribbean. Not sure who was in charge, but that was a mess! o Tender in Bar Harbor: You had to get tickets (good idea), we where told our group could leave the ship approximately between 9:00 am and 9:30. Well, they were an hour late. The staging area was crowded. Some may believe COVID is over, but it was not pleasant sticking together like cattle. o Shore excursion staging for Halifax: Everybody had to go to the Lyric Theater around the same time. Get in line, all the way down to the stage, show their tickets, get a sticker (for the bus number), get all the way up and wait, and wait and wait. Until they got call. Again, more than 40 minutes delay for us. o Disembarkation: Same story as above, everybody cramped into Studio B (the Ice range, and of course it was cold). The overhead monitors were unreadable. We were supposed to leave the ship at 8:30am but ended up with roughly 50 minutes delay. · Headline shows: Some shows where not great at all. The Comedian Michelle Balan on the first night was really bad, we left ½ way through the show The show on the 2nd night didn’t impress either, the singers where off a few times. Dario’s “El Caucho” show was nice and the Ice show was good, too. We skipped the rest of the shows. · Windjammer Café: I am pretty sure the selection on the buffet in previous cruises was more divers, changed more often and catered to special dietary needs. There was absolutely no change on the breakfast buffet in 9 days I could see. The lunch had some varieties, but besides craving station it was always something like hamburger, cheeseburger, Hot dogs. There was a small selective change for dinner, but not much. On a different topic: When looking for transportation to the airport, stick with official taxis, Uber of Lyft. We walked past the lane towards the taxi signs and ended up in a small van with 9 people as a group taxi for $22 / person. Generally, not a bad idea, we had done this before in other places. This was not a good choice! The loaded the van full, I was in the back, the luggage constantly slipped towards the passengers, and I had to hold it back, so it did not hit anybody on the head. The driver wasn’t driving carefully (OK, we were in New Jersey you could argue), but he hit every pothole at full speed. Most unpleasant drive in a long time. My wife asked for a receipt – nope, asked for a transportation license – nope, we took photos of the drivers license and the license plate. This was reckless. Anyway, overall we enjoyed the cruise, but the next trip will be back into the Caribbean for some warmer weather. Markus
  4. You can only do this once you are connected to the ships WIFI via app or if you go any of the specialty dining restaurants. We did the latter and they booked all dinner places for the whole trip. As the cruise went on, we made a few adjustments - no big deal. I had assumed that the first night was already booked, but it wasn't. Markus
  5. It all goes down to personal preference. In any case, I would recommend to reserve restaurants for all nights in advance, and change them if needed thereafter. Also study the menus upfront to check what they offer and if those meet your dietary needs like vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto, low carb - you know you get the picture. Consider also the expected atmosphere and ambiance. As much as we liked the food in Izumi for Hibachi, it is always very loud and busy. Whist other restaurants are much quieter and maybe even not so crowed. From our recent experience on the Allure: 150 Central Park has the most sophisticated food, plus the lobster doesn't have an additional premium Chops - regular steakhouse food Giovanni - Italian, what do you expect. Good food, but might be challenging if you have dietary restrictions Samba Grill - not great - the meat does not compare to the other onboard restaurants or the Steakhouse grills you find ashore Hibachi & Izumi Sushi - nice, but as mentioned above, too loud and crowded Sabor - went their only for lunch, great food and massive portions On sea days we ate lunch in specialty restaurants where offered and on port days we had breakfast. You can restrain yourself for lunch, e.g, skip the desert. Also the portions in Central Park and Chops are not that large. So don't worry to much. Spoil yourself I hope that helps. Markus
  6. From my point of view the problem is the 2 day test prior to the cruise. If you take the test at home, than fly across the country with crowed planes and crowed airports there is a chance to catch it. I can't tell how reliable Antigen tests vs. PCR test. So there are a few holes in the process, so no surprises from me. Markus
  7. Hi, I wanted to share a few thoughts on our recent cruise from Ft. Lauderdale on the Allure of the Seas. We arrived 2 days prior to the Sailing in Ft. Lauderdale to have sufficient time for testing. The Abbott Self-tests worked great, but I had booked a Walgreens the following day as a backup. NB: On our way back home we met a couple in the Airport lounge, wanted to go on a cruise and were still waiting on their test results, more than 50 hours! So have a backup plan! The itinerary changed several times prior to and during the cruise. Antigua and Barbados got canceled a few weeks prior, San Juan the day before the travel, and St. Thomas denied entry because of Covid on board. Get used to it! Shore excursions got refunded within 24 hours, we also got refund some money for St. Thomas, also to our cruise account which you could spend on board, and the remaining balance gets refunded to your credit card. We got the money back within 48 hours of returning from the cruise. We visited all the specialty restaurants and enjoyed it very much. We had breakfast once in the Main Dining room. The tables are pretty close and that was the only place we didn't feel comfortable. Windjammer was also good for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. Some people still didn't get the message though. Food is being served by the crew. No need to point with your fingers into the food! Yup seen that a few times. The crew had to exchange the food container. Also, tables are marked as cleaned or need to be cleaned and blocked for social distancing. Doesn't help if people just move them around. Shore excursions were the "usual". If you have a back problem don't take the railway trip on St. Kitts - just saying. Onboard activities were great, some shows had short performances as crew members were sick, some not Covid related. So Mama Mia and the Aqua-show where only 1/2 the time. The "Adult Comedy" was bad and not funny at all. Just throwing out cuss words doesn't make it funny. The Magic Show was also subpar. Surprisingly funny was the Juggler. Great show! Overall most people were their masks and tried to keep social distancing. There were still some exceptions, and we overheard discussions from a few people complaining about the cruise. Shoutout to the crew who went above and beyond to make this a memorable experience. You may not be aware, but once they are on board they cannot leave the ship until their contract has ended. That means they are bound to the ship for 6 to 9 months. They all wear masks all the time, most of them double up on masks. That also means they can only get the bug from us, the passengers! We had already several cases on the 2nd day from the passengers and the crew! The Captain did not provide any numbers after the 2nd day. I think that needs improvement. I hope they find ways to test quick and reliable when entering the ship. We noticed in St. Marten that one ship following us but never docked. My wife did some research and it was confirmed by some crew members. All infected crew is isolated on the ship and will be transferred to the Rhapsody and the Vision for recovery. They are used as hospital ships. Infected passengers got disembarked in St. Marten in buses and were brought to the airport to be transported home. We have seen at least 100 people from the Allure and the Symphony at the dock. Embarkation and disembarkation had been a breeze and much simpler than the previous cruises. I hope they keep that. I would rather wait in my room, than in the main area. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and already booked the next cruise for New England later this year Markus
  8. My wife had the soda package and the unlimited dining package. #1 - You can get a drink at most bars with your Soda package, I was redirected only once to another bar. I think they prefer using Soda cans and bottles for individuals and payments. #2 - I had requested Club Soda at 3 different locations without issue. I also had a bottle of sparkling water almost every night for dinner at no cost. But I can't tell if that was because of the Soda or the dinner package. There is also Dasani Sparkling water (with lime or neutral taste) in the soda machines. Markus
  9. Check out CitizenM directly at the airport. I stayed there several times. It does not break the bank and is in walking distance to the terminal. Modern concept of self check in, small but functional and clean rooms. Some other hotels claim to be close to the airport, but it is still a 30 minute shuttle. This is 5 minutes walk!
  10. Took this photo at 8:30pm from the Allure. My wife counted about 40 people with luggage leaving the Symphony in the front of the ship. The guys in the white suits are in the back.
  11. On the Allure at the moment, all protocols in place. We feel safe and the crew goes above and beyond. So we just booked a New England Cruise the Fall 2022.
  12. All good here, boarding was a breeze. Has to change staterooms, took a while, but front desk was extremely helpful. Dinner at 150 Central Park was yummy. For those interested, the Brazilian Steakhouse will open after January 1st. Happy to be on board.
  13. No insights, just wild guesses - RCB inreasing the amount of people allowed on board and trying to get more peeps on the ship. Most likely the case. - Mass cancellations because of the new mask mandate? Nope, the cabins opened up before the mask mandate was made public. - Mass cancellations because of the current covid situation ramping up again? Also unlikely, cruisers are desperate to go. So individual cancellations: probably, also because of the itinerary changes. But no mass cancellations. I did a quick math a few weeks back and counted the open cabins, they had only added about 120 cabins, so we are talking about potentially 250 - 280 people more. Markus
  14. We got ours on Monday, just checking the expiration date. As far as I can see this, they are already expired Had anybody similar issues and how did you get this fixed?
  15. I called Royal Caribbean on Monday asking to book a shore excursion. The agent said they are still working on it, he can already see the. I asked for pricing, his system crashed. After 45 minutes on the phone he gave up, but he said he was told the excursions will be available on Friday. Well, at least I got today notice that the timing for the 2 shore excursions I had booked prior to that mess have changed in date and time. Well, there is hope. Just not for Black Friday / Cyber Monday pricing Markus
  16. Happens to me all season! The checkout for me is a hit and miss. The only way I can get it to work is from my iPad with Firefox (works 3 out of 5). I tried different windows computers, different browsers, clearing cache, private sessions, even VPN. It does not work for me. So give it a try with your ipad. Markus
  17. I called Royal Caribbean after I noticed the change of ports of our upcoming cruise. The agent said it would take 3 -4 days until the itinerary and the shore excursions are all updated. I guess there is a lot of work behind the scenes on this one and with the holidays it may even take longer. Somewhat disappointing as we may not be able to get the discounts for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but maybe we do. I check every day twice. Markus
  18. ... and how long will the decoration stay? We will board a cruise on 12/30. Markus
  19. I had the same issue on my booking for the Allure on December 30th. When I booked the cruise the option was there, them gone for several weeks, then it popped up for a day, but I wasn't able to book. Gone again, I booked 3 night dining, Then it showed up again or about 20 hours, I booked the UDP and canceled the 3-night after I had successfully booked. I don't know what it is the driver, but check the cruise planner daily. On a side note, you cannot book 2x 3-night packages. I tried online and through an agent. Keep looking. Markus
  20. Hi, I noticed a subtle difference in the description of the combined drink and internet packages. The "Deluxe Package and Voom" states: "this bundle includes both the Deluxe Beverage Package and the VOOM Surf + Stream - 1 Device Package. Whilst the classic Soda and Voom states "We are bundling our Classic Soda Package with VOOM® high-speed internet". So my question: what is included classic soda package: the basic internet as described as" VOOM SURF Internet Package" or does it include the "VOOM SURF + STREAM Internet Package"? Thanks Markus
  21. Hi, We had booked already shore excursions for our upcoming holiday cruise on the Allure of the Seas in December. Unfortunately 2 of our shore excursions got cancelled. My wife and I (we are in our late 50s) are debating: for St. Kitts between the Caribbean Scenic Railway Tour or the Brimstone Hill and Fairview Great House and for Barbados between Flavors of Barbados & Island Drive and Barbados Highlights Do you mind sharing your experience if you have done any of those? Thanks Markus
  22. Hi, To me it is not clear on how and why you get this on your Amex Card. My wife and I have in total 4 different American Express cards and only on one showed the offer. For me it was: spend $500, get $200 back - a no-brainer. The statement credit showed up 2 days after my purchase. I would check special offers on your cards after every billing cycle. What I have observed is that offers seem to change thereafter. Markus
  23. I would try calling a service agent, at least during these times. I don't think it was an issue prior to COVID to cancel first, and book immediately thereafter. Nowadays I am not so sure. A couple of days a go I added 3 shore excursions into my basket, took a while to add them all. As I was trying to pay, one was flagged as "sold out". If in doubt, call
  24. Hi, I had issues booking any shore excursions or dining packages through the cruise planner on the RCCI web site. I tried different browsers, laptops, cleared cache, etc. but these are the things happening to me: at the end of the checkout process when I finally submit the payment the system errors out I log into my RCCI account, and select the cruise planner and it routes to another RCCI page, where end up in another login screen and can't continue In 1 out of 5 tries I can finish my booking and checkout on my iPad Just wanted to know if I am the only one having that issue. On the positive side the RCCI agents on the phone are very helpful to book everything via phone. Markus
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