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Bill S

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Everything posted by Bill S

  1. We both had the Key (again) on Liberty last month. Even at $20, it just really isn't worth it. Sorry, but it's not.
  2. We have a NCL trip planned for August, Iceland to London via Norway. Keeping our fingers crossed.
  3. This opinion keeps coming up. Mostly because when talking to cruise ship officers, they always say "The Captain is always in command", which while mostly factual, isn't when it comes to the use of harbor pilots. We have friends who are harbor pilots in Texas. Maritime law on this is well established. The pilot is is command of navigation. He/she gives the orders. The Captain/crew may either obey those orders, or dismiss the pilot. But he/she would then have to get another pilot on board, before moving again. In the US, most states have very small liability clauses. In Texas, the most one can sue a pilot for, is $1000. Sounds insane, but if the line could sue the pilots, then the cost of hiring pilots (which is already expensive) would go out of sight. In this case, it's likely that the pilot will lose his/her license, unless it is documented that his orders weren't followed. As well, the Captain's career is likely over. My uncle, a US Navy Commander, was forced to retire after his ship caught fire, while he was on leave (vacation).
  4. As others have said, buy and bring your own gear. We spent probably 60 days in the last 12 months, snorkeling. Good brand is Cressi, they aren't expensive (less than $100 for the set), but way better than the really cheap stuff. Once you own your own, you will never go back. Don't buy/bring "travel fins". They are just so bad, almost worthless. If you are at all uncertain of the water, OR if you are snorkeling where they require snorkelers to wear life jackets (Mexico), buy an inexpensive snorkeling vest from Amazon. It can be inflated if you need the help, but uninflated you can easily dive down. Baby shampoo (NOT shampoo and wash, just plain shampoo). Best thing ever for fogging face mask.
  5. Um. NO. Not even maybe. It's NO. I HATE Abba, and Meryl Streep is my cousin (same last name)- not a single movie of hers I like. But thanks, we are looking at booking on Allure.
  6. Huh. Really? That seems to conflict directly with my conversations with Harbor Pilots in Texas that I know. And with established Maritime Law, and Pilotage Regulations in the US. "The legal rights and responsibilities of the harbor pilot's action in navigating vessels are well settled. The pilot has primary control of the navigation of the vessel, and the crew must obey any pilot order. The pilot is empowered to issue steering directions and to set the course and speed of the ship and the time, place, and manner of anchoring it. The captain is in command of the ship except for navigation purposes. The captain can properly assume command over the ship when the pilot is obviously incompetent or intoxicated.? Note, the emphasis is mine: The captain is NOT in command for navigation purposes. I will grant you, that the Captain retains command for everything except navigation. Which is what the entire discussion is about. Is the captain still in charge of whether or not the pool deck is open during pilot navigation? Sure. Not the pilot's concern.
  7. Thanks, Matt. Allure is coming to Galveston. I'm just not wild about the thought of a huge ship. This blog might help that...
  8. OK, I'll be specific. My wife had a Maitai. The rum was like turpentine. I had a "bourbon and diet". The bourbon was not good. I don't recall the label, but it wasn't one I'd heard of. I didn't drink it. I DO like the idea of a bloody mary. Vodka is hard to screw up in a mixed drink. I stuck with beer and micheladas while in Texas waters.
  9. Hmm. To us, these ships are to dang big. We don't like the giant ones, at all.
  10. I am a sailor. And we have 2 friends that are harbor pilots. In the US, command of a ship transfers to the harbor pilot. They make all of the decisions. That's why they are there, and that's why they are so expensive (staggeringly...). If the average passenger weighs 200 pounds, that's about 400 tons. The ship is around 170,000 tons. Passenger weight is insignificant.
  11. We were on Liberty 2 weeks ago. The "Texas" selections were just terrible. Almost undrinkable. Beer selections were OK, the wine was so bad it was funny. Our cruise got in early (5pm on Saturday) because of a medical emergency. Fortunately, we'd brought 2 bottles of wine onboard for friends doing a B2B, and we had that for her birthday dinner.
  12. Our family physician gave us new ones. They were able to look up our vaccine info.
  13. It was NOT available on Liberty a week ago.
  14. I'll agree with Chris. The App kinda stinks. We had so many problems with it on a cruise on Liberty that we got off of a week ago.
  15. Yes, we had a good time. We really did. 2nd best cruise (of 5). But not even close to a cruise we did on Liberty of the Seas exactly 2 years ago. Liberty, is tired. There were many, many instances of “deferred maintenance”, especially when it came to anything electrical and/or technology. The WiFi was very VERY spotty. Again, we’d been on this same ship before. I am still working, and I need very limited bandwidth. Just a few pages of PDF docs. Sometimes it was hours between being able to access email. We had “The Key”, which included streaming WiFi. We laughed about that. There was no way anyone could stream with that WiFi. TV was the same way. RC claimed it was due to poor satellite coverage, but again, it wasn’t like this before. Not that it’s a big deal, however this was during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and news was more important. Under sail, southbound, no TV. Northbound, it was better, but spotty. The large screen on the pool deck did not work, it has not worked in a long time, and it’s not expected to be repaired or replaced anytime soon. That’s what we were told. Ship computer systems were also glitchy/down often. We had multiple reservations for dinners and shows, and they couldn’t fix them. Which means some folks might have been denied something because we had multiples. Disembarking on the last day (we were about 50-60% full) was hours for some people, because the terminals kept going down. On board, we got used to giving our cabin number, rather than our cards, because that’s how they charged drinks (we were on the Deluxe Beverage Package – only about ½ of the drinks hit our folio). The crew did a good job of covering for this, but you could tell they were frustrated at times. Drink dispensers were hit and miss. We noticed a LOT of large mixer bottles in bars, as often the dispenser didn’t work well. When asking for a “Diet Coke”, much of the time we were offered a can or they poured from a large bottle, instead of fountain drink. We noticed flickering lights in hallways, and friends on deck 7 couldn’t use one of the elevators, as it refused to stop on 7! The cabins are well worn. Decent and clean, but it’s past time to refurb them. Boarding: Piece of cake. Really, very quick, very easy. Easier with the Key, but it really didn’t make any difference. The Key: Um. Don’t bother. We bought at $20/pp/day. It includes high speed WiFi. But realistically, only one of us needed it (you can switch back and forth to devices). The Key got us a nice lunch on boarding day, and a nice breakfast on departure. Our departure still took nearly an hour. We DID use room service for a couple of breakfasts, only because it was there. We wouldn’t have bothered if we had to pay $7.50. Special seats for shows? They were empty anyway. And for the Ice Show, it didn’t help us at all. Shows: The comic was great. Guy from Canada. Really, I’d pay to see him. Ice show was good. Nothing about the rest of the entertainment was notable. In particular, the Cruise Director was just so-so. We had Cory Rogers on our RC cruise 2 years ago, he looked and sounded like Drew Carey. He was SO GOOD, we’d book a cruise just to have him again. He was everywhere during the cruise. This time, we only saw our cruise director at the shows. And he wasn’t good or funny. Food: I couldn’t believe that the Windjammer could get worse, but it did. I mean just terrible. Thank you for Sorrento’s Pizza, which is very good. I just don’t understand the appeal. Main Dining Room: Generally, very good. For the most part, better than last time. The only miss is the escargot. Our friends asked about it, and the chef and the head waiter came to see us. Next night, it was still the same. They are using something sweet on it. Service was just plain outstanding. Better than any other cruise we’ve had. Fantastic. Chops and Giovanni’s were both excellent. But service was better in the Main Dining Room. Room Service: Food was OK, service was SLOW. Almost an hour late one morning, making us miss something we wanted to do. Final note: There are some menu items you might be used to, that aren’t there. They just haven’t been able to source some items in enough quantity to provide them. Safety: Excellent. We were the first cruise not requiring face masks, which was wonderful. For us. The crew? Not so much. They still had to be double masked. This makes no sense. As well, they aren’t permitted to go ashore. Just cruel. The ship was spotless. Worn, but spotless. Bars: Some better than others. Most were much less friendly than last time. Like asking for a drink was putting them out. The exception was the R Bar, where Xavier and his crew went to the extreme for customers. They were so good, by the end of the week, we just migrated there. Pool bars, Pub, and Schooner Bars were just plain ambivalent. Texas Beverages: Ugh. It was particularly bad this time. There was a medical emergency (kid with a seizure), and we went full-steam back to Galveston. Pilot boarded at 5pm, which is more than 12 hours early. Once the pilot boards, it’s back to Texas Beverages. We had dinner at Chops. Fortunately, we’d taken 2 bottles of wine aboard for friends, since they were staying another week. We had them for dinner. The on-board choices were just plain horrible. RC App: Really? This thing still sucks. It could be SO MUCH better. For instance, the app says we could book Ice Show reservations from it, but no one could get it to work. Part of the problem could be the WiFi issues. Many, many people complained about it. On Board Jewelry Store: All I can say is “be careful”. My wife tried on some Effy pieces, and their “very best deal” was almost 3X what Macy’s sells it for! Also be aware that some of the gemstones have been enhanced. When we were looking at a watch, they touted their “price guarantee”. When I found a cheaper price, they said “oh, that company isn’t an authorized dealer, so we can’t price match”. So I asked how sure he was. “100%”. “OK, so if it IS actually an authorized dealer, will you sell me the watch for 50% off?” “No”. What? How dumb do you think I am? If you are so sure they aren’t… Anyway, just be aware that they are experts in selling, and most of us aren’t. Excursions: We did Mr. Santos in Cozumel, and wouldn’t do it again. For Roatan, we booked Roatan 5 Stars for a snorkel tour. We’ve been snorkeling all over the world, and sometimes at great expense. By far, the best snorkeling excursion we’ve ever done. Great folks. They split us up and put us with our own guide, for a more challenging part of the reef. Royal Up: Yeah, we won’t try this again. Yes, we know it’s “hit or miss”, but we put some substantial bids in, and didn’t hear until late on departure day that we didn’t get them. It's such a disappointment when you don't get them. IF we do a bid again, we will pull it 2 days before departure. In conclusion: Yes, we’d still choose RC as our company of choice. Mostly based upon our last cruise, not this one But still, except for some of the bar staff, everyone tried SO HARD while we were there, to overcome the onboard issues. Really, RC should be proud of their staff. We really like Liberty because it's a smaller ship.
  16. We were on Liberty last week. Ice shows were the only ones requiring a reservation. And the in-app reservation didn't work. Had to call. Then, we had 6 reservations for 2 different shows... Who knows. The show was good - and I hate ice skating. We did notice that they didn't use the country the skaters were from, this time...
  17. We were on Liberty last week. They had a special with "The Key" for $20/day, that included Surf and Stream. I thought that was a great deal. Except that internet just sucks on Liberty. We were on this ship exactly 2 years ago, and had no problems. Technical issues onboard, not just internet, were prevalent. Maybe that's why it was $20. There is NO WAY anyone could stream. You were lucky to get email and browse.
  18. Seriously? I went on it on Liberty last week. My wife and friends made me do it. I'm in my 60s. Everyone was giving me tips. My wife knew, but no one else did. I grew up in a beach community, and surfed a bit as a kid, but pretty much went to body surfing for the last 40 years. I told everyone the truth: "This is my first time". I had zero problems. Even on my knees. I got a lot of "DUDE!"s. But I just didn't get the appeal. Real waves are just so much better.
  19. For folks unfamiliar with what things are like offshore, here's a GREAT website: www.passageweather.com. It's free. It's designed for sailors to make long distance ocean passages. You can "animate" it and see what the next week or so will look like, anywhere in the world. For those of us in the US, wave heights are in meters.
  20. April is generally pretty good. Most of the northers are gone by then. One should understand that the Gulf of Mexico is the nastiest piece of temperate water on the planet. Shallow water = short wave periods. So, what you wouldn't even care about in the Atlantic or Pacific, with much longer wave periods, in the Gulf it gets downright unpleasant. 2-3 meter waves at 5 seconds sucks. We are sailors in South Texas - we have our 47 foot (15 meter) sailboat near Corpus Christi. All of that being said: These ships are huge. Unless there's a storm, you should barely feel even 3m waves.
  21. Liberty of the Seas, Feb 27 - March 6. Around 2200. That's about 60%. This week is the first week of spring break. We were told that kids jumped from around 200 on ours to 750 in one week.
  22. We were on Liberty last week. Screen not fixed, not likely to be fixed. We were on Liberty exactly 2 years before (2nd to last cruise before Covid). I'm putting together a doc on our trip. I can tell you we had many similar issues onboard. Same ship, but it really wasn't the same ship. We had a really good time, but carp, some of this should have been fixed by now. WiFi was terrible. Even for the crew. Cards wouldn't scan "can I have your cabin number?". We had the drink package, but I bet almost half of our drinks never hit our folio. Yesterday morning, their systems kept going down for disembarking in Galveston. It took us almost an hour, and we had the "Key". Others reported it took over 2 hours to get off the ship. Ship needs a good refurbishment.
  23. As an employer for many years, and a manager for many years before, this is GREAT advice. I've never turned someone down, nor has it ever affected the "hire/don't hire" decision. People do have lives outside of work. I've even made exceptions for paid, when it wasn't earned yet.
  24. This really was a pain for us, last week. Even on a ship 50% full, it was difficult to get good reservation times. My advice is that soon after you get on board, head for Chops. Make your reservations there, for all 3 nights. The other restaurants aren't as difficult to get into, and we found it was easy to change a Chops reservation to another specialty restaurant, very easily.
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