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Traveling Mike

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  1. I just got off a TA Cruise and the Specialty Dinning was over filled every night. A full night is 60 seats, and they were running 80 to 90 seats. If you did not book your dinners the first day you did not get a reservation. I am guessing they are wanting to sell the packages so they will keep every night over full. I expect them to start forcing dinner times of 5:30 pm to be able to use a table two times a night.
  2. I just went through a similar thing with my son. He cruised from the age of 8 though 18 then we stopped while we paid for his college. In July he did his first cruise at the age of 24 as an adult. Cruising as an adult is way different than as a kid. What I had to learn was to give him options then do my thing. I wanted to take him to everything and have him experience everything with me but after 2 days I figured out that was not working. I ended up letting him know what I was doing and giving him the option to do it with me or not. I would let him know I am doing breakfast in the windjammer and then hitting the hot tub. I am doing bumper cars at 10 am and doing waive runner at 11:30 am. He would join me or not and I ended up doing my thing, some of the time with him and some without him. Every day we did dinner together then the shows in the evening because that is something we both liked all the time.
  3. Make sure you do the cash pull on a slot machine. If you do it at a table, they charge a 5% fee. The slot machines there is not a fee and they do not know how much you played before cashing it in. The only risky part is self-control. Can you control the urge to pull the handle and get rich.
  4. The only time I have not gotten a price drop is when there were no more cabins in my category.
  5. I know this is not the question, but I used both. The app is better for watching when it opens up and getting the first boarding time. The website is better for being able to see and type my information. The app is better for scanning my passport and taking my picture. The website is better for seeing everything at one time. The app is better for see that everything is checked off. So.... my answer is both
  6. The one with the link I supplied was multiple rooms. When I was there, I had one room and another group of young people had the other 5 rooms. I liked this place because it is separate than the owner's house. It was just a bedroom, two shared bathrooms, a setting room and a kitchenette. The only issue was it was on the second floor and you had to carry your luggage up the stairs.
  7. Most of the time I have found Airbnb people willing to work with you. The one I used in Fort Lauderdale picked me up at the airport and then took me to the port the next day for a small fee. I have had ones let me come to the house early before check-in and hang out and watch TV until the room was ready. You never know what they are willing to do until you ask.
  8. Everyone has an opinion. What you need is way different that what others need. I do all my own research and booking and I just need a travel agent to give me extra money on my cruise. You might need someone to find what you want and explain everything to you. What your question should have been is how do I find a travel agent that can help me ?????
  9. its not a hotel and you have to carry your bags up some stairs but it is the right price for a good bed and shower. I stayed at this AirBnB and it was half way from the airport and port. I just took a Uber to the room and one to the port. Was much less than the $300 they wanted for a hotel room in February. Airbnb: Vacation Rentals, Cabins, Beach Houses, Unique Homes & Experiences
  10. One last thing I want to leave you with. The only real issue I had on the trip was I got real tired of hearing people complain. Our cruise has over 300 Pinnacle cruisers and the most of the rest was Diamond and Diamond plus. The ship had a couple of meetings with the staff warning them how picky the cruisers on this cruise were going to be. Most of the people on the cruise were great but there was enough that were not that you got tired of hearing it. I was told that the ship had to leave about 350 staff in Copenhagen because the USA would not give them a work visa. All the ships are short staffed to start with. All the staff was working their hardest to make a great cruise for us. I seen the glass half full and appreciate everything they did. Please, going forward do not be the glass half empty person and only see what you did not get on your cruise. Thank you for following, Mike
  11. Traveling Solo There are lots of people that wonder what is like traveling solo. This was a different trip so I thought I would share some of my thoughts. Planning: It was really nice to be able to pick what I want to do and not worry about what anyone else wants to do. When I got to Prague and Copenhagen I changed my plans while out on the town because how I felt changed. Things I wanted to do changed. I did not have to compromise with anyone, I was traveling solo. Flying into a strange country alone: This was a challenge. I had no one to ask what they thought. I had to trust my own judgment and figure it out on my own. I also had to be secure enough to ask other people for directions or how things worked. Traveling on an European Train for the first time: This was a challenge even if there was someone. This was a very uncomfortable adventure and I am not sure if it would have been better or worse with someone else with me. Not speaking the language and the process was so different I was uncomfortable for most of the adventure. Now that it is done it would be much easier the next time. The biggest issue with being solo is you have strangers setting next or right in front of you. On the ship: my favorite saying is a solo traveler is only alone if they want to be. This cruise I was getting tired of people and wanted more alone time. Now to be fair with you I need to remind you I was in charge of some of the Cruise Critic / Face Book activities. That is over 600 people. I did the Sail-a-Way Meet and Greet, the Group Dinners at Chops, Giovanni and Izumi, and the Poker Pub Crawl on three different days. On top of that I helped on two different private shore excursions that was 100 people and 80 people. With all this organizing I meet lots of people and was never alone. I had to find time for "Me Time".
  12. More Internet Issues I will be so glad when all the RCL Ships are upgraded to SpaceX Starlink. I was going to update and finish my blog on my flight home but there were so many issues I did not feel like messing with it. For some reason setting in an airport for 6 hours two different times make you want to do nothing. Flight Home I walked off the ship with my bags and figured out it would take me 1 hour to get off the ship and through customs. Then I figured it would take me 1 hour to get to the airport. My flight was at 11:50 am so I needed to be at the airport by 10:00 am. With those calculations I had to be out of my cabin no later than 8:00 am. Well.... I left the cabin at 7:00 am because I was awake. I went to the cafe and ask if I could get a egg and bacon muffin without the muffin. They brought me the most beautiful over medium eggs with 3 slices of bacon. Best breakfast I had in 3 weeks. I was heading off the ship by 7:15 am. I did not stop much on the way out. Customs took about 45 seconds. I was in my Uber by 7:30 am. There was no traffic and I was at the airport by 7:50 am. So... I got to set 4 hours for my flight. My flight from Boston to Phoenix was uneventful except for the fact the person in a full plane did not show up. We got to spread out and watch movies. When we landed in Phoenix I found out my 3 hour layover was delayed by 2 hours because there was not flight staff. Then the plane coming in for us was delayed and my 5:45 pm flight soon became a 8:20 pm flight. Not fun waiting almost 6 hours for your connection. I did eventually get to Fresno by 10:00 pm. I was setting outside the Fresno Air Terminal (FAT) when my son pulled up with our two dogs in the car. Those two dogs made me feel loved. They were running in circles in the car and barking up a storm. Once I got in the car they were not sure if they should continue to run in circles or jump on my lap. It is true, Man's Best Friend....
  13. Sea days Now I am in the last leg of my cruise. This morning I got up, checked my cloths, and washed out a couple of shirts. I bring Tide Pods with me to allow me to wash a few things if I need to. Then I figured out what I needed for my last 4 days. Then everything else got packed in the suitcase. When Sunday morning comes there will be nothing to do but grab my bags and leave. I am glad I have these sea days. They should be relaxing but I am ready to go home. These vacations are great but there is nothing like home.
  14. Greenland We spent two days in Greenland. We were scheduled to go to 2 ports then the cruise one of the fjords but we were told because of the weather we had to skip Nuuk. The first day we went to a small town of 300 people called Qaqortoq. We had to park out in the Bay and tender in to the town. It was very foggy and it took forever to get people off the ship. After I got off the tender I stopped and looked around. Left was downhill and right was uphill. I figured I was fresh and would go uphill. Walking around the town I quickly figured out this was not your typical tourist stop. There was not much for tourists other than their local museum. At the top of the hill I ended up going through their local grocery store. The items in the store was Pretty much what You'd expect to see in the United states. It was also your small town typical store that had everything from hardware to groceries. I made my way down through the streets to the couple of shops that were down by the Bay. They had a fish market that was a little bit different. This fish market had well, seals, fish, and seagulls. Yes seagulls that they butcher for you. There was a little cafe that pretty much everybody of the ship was piled into to get sodas and beers. I read reviews that they had really good hamburgers and French fries but the line was so long I decided I'd just go back to the ship and eat. The next day we spent the entire morning selling up one of the fiords. Of fiord is pretty much a big deep river that goes inland. At the very end of it was a very large iceberg that the melting feeds the water of the fiord. The night before I went to bed early so I got up about 5:00 in the morning and by 7:00 o'clock I had me in nice comfortable round bed in the adults area. I was able to stretch out lay down on the pillows play some music on my cell phone and watch the scenery go by. It was beautiful scenery but a little different than I expected. I expected a lot more snow and ice and icebergs than what we've seen. No don't get me wrong it's beautiful scenery just not what I expected. And along the way there was one village that housed 100 people. I kind of wondered how do they live there this seems strange that out in the middle of this nowhere these hundred people live. Over all Greenland was a beautiful place but it's also one of those places that I've been there, seen that, been there... I am done Long, deep fjords
  15. Reykjavik our second day in Reykjavik we did a tour called the golden circle. I was expecting southern Iceland to be just like northern Iceland and all volcanic rock. It turned out the scenery was a lot nicer. It was rolling hills with some color from small vegetation. That don't get me wrong it still was all volcanic rock. Nice thing about doing this multiple days later is this I'm just telling you about what I can remember. Our first stop was a waterfall that went down the river it had this big gigantic waterfall nothing spectacular. Second stop was geysers; If you've been to Yellowstone you looked at these and said oh these aren't anything. If you haven't been to Yellowstone you looked at them and said oh man this is amazing. Our next stop was at a tomato farm and I'll get to into that in a minute in detail. And our last stop was actually a pretty cool volcanic area that this pathway was cut actually created down through the volcanic rock. The actual highlight of the trip was the tomato farm which sounds strange. The people that own the farm came up with the idea when they were 17 years old. They ended up going to college and one of them studied to become a horse farmer and the other one studied to be a tomato farmer. When they graduated they found this farm that had been shut down for a few years and got it very cheap. Well they started raising Icelandic horses. And they also started growing tomatoes in greenhouses. Now years later they export 2000 pounds of tomatoes a day to the market and raise and train horses that are exported all over the world. The horses are special because they have two extra gates; Away they trot or run. They do it in a way that the rider does not go up or down he could stay steady. They showed us an example by the man carrying a beer in his hand while his horse trotted around the track. It was actually pretty impressive. The tomatoes are grown in a greenhouse and the base of the plant is in of barks that is like 6 inches by 6 inches right then the vines are trained to go over and then up to the ceiling. The last part of our tour was lunch. This was the best freshest tomato soup I've ever had. And they had tons of fresh baked bread to go with it. Needless to say my diet went out the door and I had seconds of everything.
  16. Internet For any of you trying to follow my blog I am very sorry, the Internet has been too bad to use since we left Iceland. Part of the time even text messages wouldn't go through. I can't wait for the new Elon Musk satellite system to be installed in all the Royal Caribbean ships. I am sorry Unfortunately I had a friend that took something I mentioned personally. These are just my thoughts and experiences to share with you. They are not meant to make anybody upset. My feelings are just my feelings; They're not right they're not wrong they're just what I see, feal and observe. Please don't take them personally. And if you disagree let me know educate me; I am always open to discussions. Now to catch up What did the daddy tomato do when the baby tomato was walking too slow down the street? He smacked him on the head and told him Ketchup.
  17. Reykjavik Iceland – Blue Lagoon I’ve been debating on how much to tell you about this trip. The first part of this trip it’s not very pleasant but I thought about it and you’re here to hear about my experiences so I’m going to let you know about the bad part as well as the good part. Feel free to skip the bad part. The bad part... One of the people from our Facebook group arranged a trip to the blue lagoon for everybody. We had 100 people traveling on two 57 passenger busses. When we got to the parking lot I was assigned the lead on bus 1 and she took bus 2. After we got everyone loaded, she was on bus 1 double checking our lists and someone from bus 2 came over and told us there was a medical emergency. I went to bus 2 to find out there was a man having a heart attack. I got the bus drivers to call for an ambulance and I went back to bus 1 to ask for a doctor or nurse. Right away 2 nurses jumped up and went to help. I was busy trying to contact the ship to let them know of the issue. When I want back to bus 1 I had some people on the front of the bus asking why we were not leaving. I told them we had a medical emergency, and they did not care. I was told, “This is my vacation, and it should not be affected by someone else problems. That is the other bus and not ours.”. I told her it did affect our bus because people on our bus was trying to save a life. We got everyone off the bus 2 that we could, and the ambulance showed up. I informed the ambulance crew what was going on and they went to work. At that point I got the husbands off my bus to stay with their wives and loaded my bus with everyone I could fit. At that point we left for the Blue Lagoon. One note: When we got to the Blue Lagoon the people had realized what they had done and apologized. Just remember we are all the same big family. Now the good part… On our bus was a guide to help us with the Blue Lagoon. He contacted the Blue Lagoon and let them know of our issues. They were great and told us we would get the full two hours there no matter when we showed up. When we got there, it was a large lava field. They have cut out pathways and the lagoon in the lava field. We had to go upstairs and take a shower with no cloths on. It was funny to see people in their 50’s and 60’s waiting for the private showers when there were ones without doors open. I jumped in the one that was open and took my shower. Then you put on your bathing suit, go downstairs, and jump in the lagoon. The water was blue and has a fog on top from the light rain hitting the hot water. It was fantastic. After getting our free drink (not much selection) we found our way over to the far end of the pool to get our face mask. It was a white paste that you put on your face and neck to open and clean all the pores. After about one hour in the pool everyone was looking at the clock and trying to figure out how long they could stay and still make the bus. I stayed as long as I could; 15 minutes to get out, shower, get dressed and get to the bus. I know I was pushing it but I was really enjoying the experience. If you ever find you way to Iceland, make sure you do the Blue Lagoon. If it is raining or snowing don’t worry. It just makes it a better experience.
  18. Solo is the way to cruise. You are in full control of your vacation. On a cruise ship you are only alone when you want to be.
  19. Akureyri (Northern Iceland) We made our first stop in Iceland. I went on a tour set up by one of the people in our Facebook group. We ended up touring all the highlights of northern Iceland. What I figured out is Iceland is one big volcanic rock. There's not very many people on the entire country, 380,000. That is less people than an average American city. By the end of our tour we were like... I don't want to get off the bus it's just more lava rocks. Our last stop was neat. It was the crevice and the earth that separates the American plate with the European plate. This is what causes all the earthquakes and volcanoes; where the earth separates. Everybody else was standing at the end of the crevice to take their pictures, I decided I wanted to stand over the crevice with one foot on each side... it was only 30 or 40 foot down.
  20. Meals on the ship Rather than talk about or show you pictures of all my meals, which is kind of boring, I just give you the highlights of what I'm doing. Breakfast: I am sleeping past breakfast Lunch: every lunch so far I've ended up doing the same thing; I'm having lunch at Chops. I order the hamburger Patty without the bun and all the fixings. I get a different side dish every day. The hamburger Patty is really thick and juicy and it tastes great. Then I rotate through different side dishes depending on my mood of the day. Dinner: I have dinner with a couple of my friends every evening. All three of us have the unlimited dining package so we just rotate the specialty restaurants. So far at Chops each time I've had the 16 oz bone in rib eye with sauteed mushrooms. At Giovanni's I've been having the pasta of the day for an appetizer and then their filet for my main dish. At the Japanese restaurant I ended up having three different small dishes; pot stickers, tempura chicken, and tempura shrimp. note: last night we had our first of three group dinners. I organized a group about 25 of us to have dinner at specialty restaurants together. Last night was Chops. We are separated into two different groups, an early dinner and a late dinner. It was a lot of fun meeting new people and enjoying dinner together. I ended up visiting with both groups.
  21. The blue nose ceremony on the second day we had a ceremony for crossing into the Arctic Circle. The idea is to take a plunge into the icy cold water to ask for passage of the gods. In our ceremony one of the ship's officers was plunged into the pool. Everybody else was sprinkled with ice water. After being sprinkled with ice water you got the blue nose applied to you. In reality it was just good claim fund. I chose not to wear a coat or sweater where I could experience the ceremony in the cold. They had music drinks and everybody had a good time.
  22. I'm sorry I probably should have explain the poker pub crawl. I try to do these on a lot of my cruises that have to see days. It's actually more of a social event than anything. On our first C day we had 64 people that paid $5 each to be part of the poker pub crawl. We had another 10 people that came along but did not want to play the poker part of it. At the first bar everybody throws $5 into the pot and pulls one poker card while they're waiting they get them a drink alcohol non alcohol it doesn't matter. I started out by talking in the crowd explaining the rules and then I had them look around and see somebody they didn't know and introduce themselves. When everybody was ready we all moseyed on over to the second pub. At the second bar everybody pulled a second poker card. They refreshed their drinks. And then I asked the crowd different questions to get everybody familiar with each other. Like, is there any buddy that has never cruised before. What was the longest time that somebody first cruised; somebody's first cruise was 1972. We then continued this process till we were at our fifth and final bar. There they pulled their 5th and final card; I let them exchange one card if they wanted. And then we started checking to see who had the highest cards and the lowest cards. The person with the highest hand made $110. The person with the lowest worst hand made $90. And the person with the second highest hand made $70. That is a poker pub crawl.
  23. Day three our first Sea day We ended up a pretty good day today. I had a good 8 hours sleep before getting up and going and having lunch at chops grill. I just got a hamburger Patty and some macaroni and cheese but the hamburger Patty at chops grill is not just a hamburger Patty it is really good. I had the poker pub crawl that started at 2:00 o’clock and I had 15 decks of cards that I had to mark before we could start. We had 120 people signed up for the poker pub crawl. A normal crowd for it is 30 people. We ended up with 65 people because the cruise ship put progressive trivia at the same time as our cabin crawl. We ended up moving from place to place and having a fantastic time. Luckily for me I had my friend Cory Jo that helped me with the poker pub crawl. It was a lot of work for me I ended up sweating up a storm but I think everybody had a great time. After we were done at the poker pub crawl I went back to the room and got just a little bit of rest and cleaned up for dinner. We had dinner at Izumo which is a Japanese restaurant. I was kind of surprised that it was a fantastic dinner. After dinner my two friends went back to the room to rest before the show and I knew not to because they ended up staying in the room sleeping and I went to the show alone. The show was a Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons pretend group. I gave the group A5 out of 10 for their performance. But I gave him 10 out of 10 for sleep ability. I say in the beginning of the show and the end of the show and slept pretty good through the middle. I ended the night in a game the naughty quiz. I played with two new friends from England, and we actually did pretty well. The premise of the game is they gave you 20 questions that if you just listen to him, you think that nasty answers. But the real answer isn’t too bad. An example is Arnold Schwarzenegger has a very big one Brad Pitt has a very small one and Madonna doesn’t have one at all. Of course, the answer is the last name. I get to watch a little bit of Northern Lights before going to sleep. They’re not very good because all you see is some light in this guy and it’s not until you take a picture that different colors come out. Hopefully they’ll get better before the trip is over. Tomorrow’s another sea day and we have the cabin crawl; Talk to you then bye
  24. it is easier with Unlimited Dining. You have very good food to pick from so you can be picky about what you eat. The example is at lunch today I want to Chops and got a Hamburger Patty and Mac-n-Cheese. The Hamburger Patty is thick and has lots of flavor. At dinner for Chops I do not have bread and appetizer and just have the steak and mushrooms or a vegetable. When it come to desert, I will have it but only if it is worth the calories.
  25. Day 2 Norway I had a fabulous night sleep. This was one of the first nights I was able to sleep over 8 hours straight. I woke up and I joined some of my friends for lunch. I was able to ask for just chicken salad without the rest of the sandwich. After what I considered a reasonable lunch, I headed out for my excursion in Kristiansand Norway. When we got out to the meeting place, it was so disorganized. There was a couple of buses and people everywhere. I ended up grabbing the person in charge and explaining to her that everybody was confused at what they were trying to do. Then that person actually thought about it and explained what was was going on. Then the people moved where they needed to be. I was in the last group and we found out that the bus company sent our bus to the wrong place. After about a 20 minute wait a different bus showed up. The bus took us for a 20 minute drive to a town called lillistand. This is a quaint little village that we got to wander around for about 25 minutes. We should have gotten an hour there but because the fiascos with getting organized and waiting for the bus we lost 35 minutes. We then hopped on the bus and drove all the way back to where we started to get on the boat. At first it looked like it would not be a very nice boat trip. It was an older rundown boat that was packed with people. After we got out of the port it ended up being a pretty decent ride and we got to see the Norwegian coast. After little nap it was dinner time and we ended up eating at the chops grill. The chops grill is an upscale restaurant that we get because I have the unlimited dining plan. Without that dining planned it is priced at $60. I ended up having a 16 oz bone in rib eye and sauteed mushrooms. I was a very good boy and held to my diet no bread no appetizer and no dessert and no wine. After dinner is a little bit late getting about 10:00 o'clock but we ended up going to a show "finish that line". They split the room in two and they would play a song and stop it. Then people from the audience had to run up to the stage and finish singing the line to the song. It was so much fun that we went 15 minutes past the scheduled ending time. We capped the night off with the Casino. Earlier in the day I started with $40 and I had a ticket for $50 ($10 up). I played on penny slot machine for about an hour and walked away with a $40 ticket so I was $10 down for the evening but even for the cruise. I got back in my room by midnight and only had to toss and turn for 2 hours before getting to sleep. It is now 10 am on day three and getting ready for my Poker Pub Crawl. I will let you know about that late tonight.
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