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DunkelBierJay last won the day on June 17 2018

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About DunkelBierJay

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  • Birthday 11/28/1964

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  1. If I screw up and miss the ship, I don't want to rely on others or an embassy/consulate for documentation I need to get me home. I always have my passport book in my possession while in a foreign country, no exceptions. I have a passport card, but it is no good for air travel if I need it.
  2. My favorite part of Empress by far is the open deck aft of Boleros on deck 6. I always felt connected to the sea on board, and I had an inside cabin.
  3. I have only been to Labadee once. Prior to that I heard a lot of similar experiences and decided to avoid it. It makes the vendors in Nassau and Coco Cay seem like a delight to bargain with. I would make it a comment on the post cruise survey and indicate that Royal should coach them in proper behavior not only to passengers for to be kind to animals despite what their culture does to make it seem ok to them. I think they are their own worst enemy, and lose a lot of chances to earn more money because of it.
  4. Avoid Barracchina...it's a tourist trap and the pina coladas are not up to billing...my experience, anyway
  5. While I haven't cruise in September (yet), I will cruise anytime, anywhere for any reason knowing that RC will change itineraries to avoid dangerous weather. James Van Fleet is the man.
  6. Not necessarily. It never hurts to have a backup, but it's unlikely you would need it. There will be a link in the online check in process to print out the set sail pass. Note that if you do that, you may need to reload the pass on the app. If that's the case, it will be greyed out on the app.
  7. I geek out watching trip report YouTube videos...one of my favorite vloggers just posted a report on Brightline, and I thought I would post it here in case anyone is interested. My experience is pretty much what he had. At the end of the video, he mentioned that he had to check his bag. We did not have to do that.
  8. This is interesting...when I asked for our Platinum pins on a past sailing, the loyalty ambassador gave them to me no questions asked.
  9. Correct, Playmakers is an extra charge. I guess there is a small risk for that, however, your SeaPass cards will be in a small sealed envelop on your door. Make sure you check your account daily, and you will have to sign for any charges on board as well as write your full stateroom number. SeaPass Cards only have a partial room number on it.If you have any doubts, getting a new SeaPass card at Guest Services issued is no big deal. Security is great on these ships, and if anyone uses your card they can be tracked easiy. I'm hoping our phones with the app will be the next upgrade for room entry and charges. Still, I am a huge Wow Band fan.
  10. Getting there and Tipping Yes, every time I have sailed regardless of the port, a porter has been at the car by the trunk and takes care of everything -- they are easily identifiable and very friendly in my experience. I will tip about $10 as they get my bags on their cart...worth every penny as it frees you up to find the entrance door and finalize your ride share or taxi. It will probably seem very chaotic the first time, but it is actually very orderly. Every time, I am shocked at how fast it happens. I always arrive between 10 am and 10:30 am regardless of the time the email Royal sends me says. I am usually on board no later than 11. The terminal that Symphony sails from at Miami is extremely efficient. First timers may have to wait a little, but it won't be long at all. Other Fun Stuff One thing to do is have your passport and set sail pass (paper or app) cued up and ready to go in one hand and the tip in the other as you get out of the ride share or taxi. It can feel a little like jumping into a fast running river. Before you know it, you are walking onto the Royal Promenade with your jaw dropping at how awe inspiring that ship is. Head to Central Park for lunch at Park Cafe, deck 15 starboard mid-ship for El Loco Fresh for Mexican, The Windjammer for the buffet (probably will be the most crowded unless you are among the first on board) or Cafe Promenade for sandwiches if you are already hungry. Oh yeah, Playmakers on the Boardwalk will be open too...it's an extra charge. Jaimies or Chops in Central Park will be open as well. Relax and breathe at lunch...YOU'RE ON BOARD -- after all that travel, you are on vacation! I get excited reliving it as I write this! Before you know it, it will be 1:00 pm, and you can get to your stateroom to unpack, unwind and get your bearings. I like a nap because I never sleep the night before. Learn which direction is forward, aft, port (left side) and starboard (right side), find out where your muster station is...you may meet your stateroom attendant later in the afternoon. If you have traditional dining, you can go see where your table is in the dining room. If you are My Time, it doesn't matter. You can make reservations or not for My Time, that doesn't really matter either. One thing I like when I do with My Time is set a reservation time each night and ask to be seated at the same table. You get to know the waitstaff as well as other passengers who sit nearby every night...one of my favorite parts of cruising! Symphony is MONSTROUS, but it is easy to learn your way around if you know forward and aft. If you want a WOW band (highly recommended), go to Boleros on the Royal Promenade right as you board. There is a short line, and they are $5 each. You won't have to carry your Seapass card everywhere on board if you have one (btw, your SeaPass will be on a slot at the door number to your room -- take it ashore each time). It's a great souvenir, and you can use it on other ships that have them. Right after that, if you pre-purchased specialty dining, get your reservation times in by going to one of the specialty restaurants. If you like hibachi, and haven't done so already, see if there are any times available in the cruise planner (it sells out fast). The experience is a step up from any shoreside hibachi I have done. That's more than you asked for...sorry if I got carried away. PS...there is a secret platform on Deck 7 port side accessible from the stateroom corridor or steps stage left on deck 6 and is a fun place to watch a show in the Aqua Theater. PPS...my favorite place for breakfast is the Solarium Cafe...it takes a couple days for people to discover it, but it is like a small Windjammer, and the setting is fantastic.
  11. Journey from land to sea...Uber/Lyft is the best way to get to the terminal at Port Miami. Even if you are staying in downtown Miami, it is way too far and virtually impossible to walk. Port Miami is HUGE, and the ships will be lined up from one end to the other. Use a porter to check in your luggage and tip a couple bucks a bag. Make sure your luggage tags are visible. You can print them when you are checked in. If you don't have them, no biggie, it doesn't take long for the porter to get some printed for you. Go to the terminal fairly early so that you can get on board, have lunch and explore before your cabin is available around 1:00 pm. The Norwegian terminal next door is under construction. This will delay getting to the RC terminal a little, but it moves fairly swiftly. The hard part is sitting in stopped traffic and Symphony is right next to you!
  12. Look for the cart or hand truck...look em in the eye...give them a nice tip...say thanks...have a great time...
  13. I think excursion operators and the cruise line should exert reasonable care. I think the move is sensitive to the situation and makes sense on a lot of levels. I don't see it as any kind of an admission of liability...it's just reasonable care. If I want to go to a volcano, I would simply use a third party.
  14. I was a geologist and have a degree in it focusing on sedimetary terrains and structures...active volcanoes (which generate igneous rocks) are everywhere, as are fault zones. Nothing is predictable despite the various signs people encounter. If Old Faithful were any sign...we can't predict when the Yellowstone caldera will erupt, but one day, untold destruction in North America will result and affect the entire world. It is the largest super volcano in the world, and an explosive eruption, yes, will happen, & will change everything. It last erupted 1-2 million years ago. Who knows when it's due? Geologic time is very, very long, and the odds of being caught in an eruption are more miniscule than getting Norwalk virus on a cruise ship when you wash hands regularly and sanitize. Would I walk around Whakatane, Yellowstone, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, Mt Hood, Kilauea, Krakatoa, Pinatubo, Montserrat or any other active volcano with steam coming out? Yep. If it goes, it will be quick. May those who perished in NZ rest in peace.
  15. I recently used this service from Miami to Fort Lauderdale, and it was FANTASTIC. The terminal and trains are modern and clean. You can purchase tix using an app or in the terminal. There are two classes, Smart and Select. Select is about $31 and Smart is $16. We chose Select, and we received lounge access with free snacks and beverages as well as a cabin attendant on the train with free refreshments. I was disappointed the trip only took 30 minutes or so. The standard of service is similar to what you can experience in Europe, and I hope to see it expand beyond West Palm and Orlando...can I say Nashville? We had a long wait for our flight from FLL, so we just hung out in the Brightline terminal for a few hours before going to the airport. It is much better than flying. I highly recommend it. You can taxi or ride-share inexpensively from Port Everglades or Port Miami, and still pay less between the two cities using the train.
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