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Everything posted by DunkelBierJay

  1. Who remembers this? Ironic that the namesake is the same...Freedom of the Seas in 2015. I sailed on her not long after this.
  2. I would never book Air2Sea directly. I would use a travel agent, and my MEI travel agent has been flawless when I used this option.
  3. Idea...consider issuing SeaPass cards at muster...the con of this is how do they staff that... Idea...open the muster stations right as boarding begins...it opened a full hour after I boarded my last cruise...have signage making it the first requirement once you board... Otherwise, it seems like this is a characteristic of return to cruising.
  4. Even if you don't notify Royal of this, and you are the only one who checks in, there will be a port taxes and fees refund put on account for the person who doesn't go. Otherwise, the charge remains for double occupancy with no changes.
  5. I might be wrong, but I think it has something to do with a deal Royal made with the government there after they kindly allowed docking of ships there during the shut down.
  6. a second cruise with the itinerary choices, in your shoes, I would do Oasis. Enchantment has the best pool bar in the fleet though...and Bermuda would be cool....
  7. I can only guess that no one has been on board Symphony to do a tour since Matt and the team started doing tours (Jenna, I think)...if you do the Harmony tour, it's virtually the same ship with only minor differences. I think the most significant is the set up of the Solarium.
  8. The Main Dining Room is more than sufficient, it's wonderful, however, I just got off Indy and have some thoughts. I had the unlimited dining package and only ate in the MDR for breakfast two mornings. I picked the UDP to see if I could handle all of that food. I was full all the time and even toward the end of a 4 nighter, I didn't want any more because I had a hard time enjoying it. So, on the last sea day, I skipped lunch and did Hibachi the last night in addition to the first night. Night 1 -- Ate at Hibachi early with sushi booked for late...I didn't do the sushi...I was just too full Night 2 -- Ate at Giovannis -- had lunch at the Snack Shack at Coco Cay after scuba diving Night 3 -- Ate at Chops (I was feeling it and only got one side and the small filet) -- had lunch at Margaritaville in Nassau (overpriced and over rated) Night 4 -- skipped lunch -- after enjoying Perfect Storm and the Flowrider several times to burn off calories for most of the day, I went back to Izumi Hibachi for one more meal...I was still feeling full If you are thinking about this as a first time cruiser, you may be a little ahead of the game amongst other first timers. My take...enjoy the MDR and get to know your waiters...this is one of the unknown pleasures of cruising...they take such good care of people...do this especially if you have Traditional Dining vs My Time Dining and do one night of specialty. Your kids may love Italian food, but the Hibachi experience with Royal Caribbean is head and shoulders above similar experiences on land -- minus any open flames. You can click on my sort of a live blog in my signature for more detail since it is the exact itinerary.
  9. It just means you show up around 1:30. The bonus here is that you likely would be able to go straight to your stateroom and drop your stuff. If you print your set sail pass and it says 11:00, there may be a glitch. I'd be interested in knowing if the same thing shows up in the set sail pass in the app -- it should. Show up then. If they don't let you into the terminal, since you're at Port Canaveral, I would walk to next door to Grills, grab a bite and toss a few till you can go back to check in. And the wellness check is no big deal, they just look at your docs and ask how you feel.
  10. I agree with the other commenters...I don't see any value with the Key if it is above the lowest I have seen it at $19.95. The other perks are nice if you take advantage of them. Other than that, the Key is window dressing.
  11. R Bar, Champagne Bar, Schooner Bar, Bar in Windjammer...I think it's called The Plaza Bar...if you don't see it, ask the bartender, they may be able to get a bottle if it's on board.
  12. One way to maximize space is pack about 50% of what you initially think you want to bring. It's a lot less schlepping that way too.
  13. It occurred to me that if there are posts or articles rating the VOOM quality on RCI ships, I haven't seen it. My experience has been that since VOOM has been rolled out, the quality varies by ship and what I have seen subjectively is this: Independence -- 9 out of 10 -- about like the quality I get at home Navigator -- 6 out of 10 Symphony -- 9 out of 10 Allure -- 8 out of 10 Brilliance -- 7 out of 10 I wonder what others' experiences have been.
  14. I've never heard of anyone grieving the missing of Nassau as a port stop....it might be worth seeing again when they finish the construction...otherwise...a big meh to that place.
  15. I don't make any changes. If I get it, I get it cause when I got it, I got it...this is why I get insurance for what the cruise line doesn't cover.
  16. I you stream from a laptop, you could probably use an HDMI cable to connect to the tv. VOOM quality varies by ship. I had a good experience with Surf and Stream in Indy last week.
  17. Thanks for the responses. After local quarry dives to get my C card reactivated, I did my first ocean dive in over ten years on Coco Cay last week. The dive was fine, however, we were towed to a buoy at the reef by a jet ski and submerged from there. Our profile was 35' for 48 minutes. While I had a computer, the spg was adequate because we trailed the instructor, Yumi the whole way, and at that depth, there is a lot more bottom time anyway. The biggest struggle was dealing with buoyancy since I have a lot more lbs on my frame now vs then. Yumi added weight to three of the four of us who were diving with him when we hit the shallow depths. The main thing I learned from this dive is that I have issues to work through including foot cramping, so I will be addressing booties and fins next. My old ones were constricting. The thing is, Yumi and the staff were great, and did everything equipment wise, much more than any dive master or instructor has ever done on any of my previous dives (about 50). I was a little disappointed because I still need to shake off the rust and get back into the flow of things. I also would have preferred a boat dive to a shore dive because coming back at Chill Island amidst the swimmers and snorkelers was a little strange. There has to be better reefs near there that are accessible by boat, and I would book every time I go there if that was the case. The way it's set up now, I don't think I would dive at Coco Cay again. We saw puffer fish, a few rays, a sea turtle, lots of yellow tail snapper, a parrot fish and an octopus near the beach. We also saw the plane engine, an anchor and some other man made stuff I don't recall. Getting back to the beach in the shallows was a pain in the butt because of the surge through the channel.
  18. To board as early as possible, you could get there a few minutes before 12:30 pm where the staff at the terminal will check for your set sail pass, vax card, negative test and passport. They will allow you to enter and go up the escalator where you will check in after running through security. Boarding may already be in progress, or you may need to wait a little bit. There will be an announcement and a mass exodus for the ship...just follow the crowd. Your SeaPass card will be next to your stateroom door on the room number, and you are good to go. You should have access to your stateroom by 1:00 pm or 1:30 pm. You can use the barcode on your set sail pass to make purchases at the bar if you like. None of the other shops will be open at that time.
  19. for me, compared to other dark rums, it has a little something extra in the taste...a spiciness, I would say
  20. My go-to is Woodford Reserve neat or with a mixer.
  21. Day 0 I live near Nashville, and usually fly out of there, but after checking commuter fares, I found a cheaper option through Silver Airways out of Huntsville, AL, so that's what I booked. I arrived at Orlando International at 6:30 pm, and after waiting for 45 minutes in the line for the car rental, I was on my way to the Country Inn and Suites in Coco Beach. I typically rent from one car rental brand that had an office on Astronaut Blvd, but it closed due to the pandemic, and it only left one other practical option, which I used. I made a stop for dinner at Grills before checking in. Day 1 After a good night's sleep, I returned my car to the rental office and walked ten minutes back to the Country Inn and Suites where I caught the shuttle to Port Canaveral. I originally booked that hotel because there is a walking path across the street that takes you into the port area. I chose not to walk because it was a cloudless sky, and I broke a sweat walking back to the hotel from the car rental office. My check-in time at the cruise terminal was 11:00 am, so I took the earliest shuttle, dropped my luggage with a porter and walked next door to Grills (again) for breakfast and a pre-cruise beer. I paid the bar tender at 10:50 and walked to the terminal. The check-in process was smooth. They screened you for all of the documentation including passport vaccination card, negative Covid test ( I took the emed antigen test) and boarding pass. I went through security quickly and checked in immediately. Just as I completed that process, they announced general boarding, and I was on board at 11:19 am. Including the walk from Grills, it took twenty-nine minutes. They had not started emuster, so I settled in for a beer at Playmakers while I waited. I completed emuster a little after noon and walked around the ship a bit. I had been on Freedom before, so everything was very familiar. I booked early dinner at Izumi, and it was wonderful. I had the beef tenderloin. Since I had the Unlimited Dining Package, I had another reservation for dinner at 9:00 pm, but I was still too full to consider more food, and passed on it. I was a little tired, so I went to my cabin and unpacked and went to bed so that I was rested for the next day. Day 2 I had a reservation for Scuba at 8:30 am at Coco Cay, so I got up to watch the sunrise and went to the Windjammer for breakfast. The scuba shack is on the beach near the souvenir stands to the left. The dive team did everything including setting up my buoyancy and breathing equipment as well as provided a 3 mm "shortie" westsuit which I was glad for because, some floating jellyfish stingers found their way to the exposed skin on my lower legs. I am still feeling it. They took us to the dive site by towing us to the reef with a jetski. Once we all had assembled, Jumi, the instructor/guide signaled for us to descend. We went down to 35' which is not very deep, but there were lots of fish and a fairly decent reef. He took us by a sunken anchor, propeller plane engine and several features along the reef. We saw a large sea turtle, several rays, a couple of puffer fish, a parrott fish, lots of yellow tail snappers and an octopus near the end of the dive surprisingly close to the beach where we emerged amidst snorkelers and people on rafts. I felt like the creature from the black lagoon emerging in the middle of them. The dive was fairly strenuous in that there was a lot of current which we had to fight in the shallows. That was fine, because it set me up for a great nap after lunch. For lunch, I had the crispy chicken sandwich marinara style and a chocolate chip cookie. I move to South Beach afterward, and commenced a blissful nap. By 2:00 pm, I got up and returned to the ship for another nap prior to trivia (I won it in geography -- yay!) and my dinner at Giovannis. I had the Veal Ossubuca, and it was ok, but not my kind of thing. I thought about ordering the steak I keep hearing about but didn't since I was booked at Chops the next day. Day 3 I slept in until about 7:50 am, and went to the Main Dining Room for breakfast as we approached Nassau. I had a nice conversation with an older couple at an adjacent table, and then I went out to take some pictures of the ships around us. We were docked by Mariner which was next to Enchantment. On the other side was a Carnival ship. A few weeks prior to the cruise, I booked a day pass at Margaritaville which recently opened next to the British Colonial Hilton. I had seen a cruise vlog that visited there, so I wanted to check it out for myself. I entered and walked around the hotel and grounds and then went to the 4th floor to the adult infinity pool. It provided a great view of the water and ships in port. I ordered a Kalik beer for $8 and a fish sandwich for $25. I noticed Junkanoo Beach next door was selling Kalik 3 for $10 while I was up there. There is no entry fee for that beach, so the next time I go to Nassau, that's where I will head. I am not sure I would do anything else in Nassau except maybe tour the chocolate factory and rum distillery. That port doesn't have a lot of appeal to me right now. Maybe when the construction, which cause a lot of people stress getting back into the port area is complete, that will change. Dinner was at Chops, and being a creature of habit, I had a small filet with the awesome mushroom soup and a glass of wine. I was still full from the fish sandwich earlier. Day 4 The last day of the cruise was at sea, so I went back to the Main Dining Room for breakfast and then went to the sports deck to watch the private flow rider lessons. I didn't have a desire to try the flow rider until that time, so when they opened it up for boogie boarding, I got in line. It was fun! I was able to get up to my knees and do some turns, and my confidence for doing more grew. I expect to take a lesson next time I have the opportunity, so I will see if I can stay on my feet one day. After a couple of flow rider sessions and a few trips down the Perfect Storm, I went back to my room, showered and grabbed a coffee while I talked to a fellow passenger who sat near me. I chose not to eat lunch so I could enjoy my final dinner at Izumi hibachi again that evening. I chose the NY steak and subbed the tiger shrimp. It was delicious as always. Day 5 Disembarking went as expected, however it seemed like a lot more people wanted to get off the ship early than I remember from previous cruises. It didn't take long once the line started moving, and I was walking to the GoPort shuttle bus within a few minutes after the seamless facial recognition customs check, which I think is a little creepy, but was glad to be done with it. I grabbed the last seat on the shuttle, and enjoyed the trip back to Orlando airport as the bus driver narrated the trip. He mentioned that the Brightline train service is scheduled to expand from Miami, Ft Lauderdale and West Palm all the way up to Orlando airport by late December, and that it was slightly ahead of schedule. After our last cruise, the 2019 President's Cruise on Symphony, we took the Brightline up to Ft Lauderdale from Miami, and were VERY impressed. I think the options this service will provide when the expansion in Orlando is done will take a lot of pressure off of the airports and provide more and better options to get to the three major cruise ports on the east coast. The service will eventually expand to Tampa. I am really looking forward to it. Ratings eMuster -- very easy and convenient. It was difficult to understand everything the crew member at my station was saying, however, and I think that is something that could be improved by making more consistent. I rate it 4 out of 5 Stateroom -- my second inside stateroom, and I really enjoyed it. It was located aft on deck 6 accessible from an unmarked door to the corridor next to the stairwell. There was a curtain in front of the bed which blocked out the light that made its way through a crack in the doorway. It was pitch black in there and made for great sleep. The light switch was right at my head in case I needed to get up during the night. 5 out of 5 (especially for a solo traveler) UDP -- too much food. I will only do up to three nights of specialty dining on future cruises. I missed the Main Dining Room experience (4 out of 5 -- too much food) Izumi Hibachi -- nights 1 and 4 -- I regret not getting sushi -- 5 out of 5 Giovanni's - night 2 -- did not love my menu selection -- great service -- 4 out of 5 Chops -- night 3 -- I usually go to Chops on RC cruises and always love it. Too full to enjoy the experience, so I rushed it. 4 out of 5 Stateroom Attendant -- the best stateroom attendant I have had on any cruise. Great guy, thorough, quick, willing to talk, but not too much (5 out of 5) Solo Cruising -- it was as expected. I missed cruising with my wife or one of my kids and pretty much stayed to myself most of the time. I did what I wanted when I wanted and didn't think anything of it. I would do it again, especially for the double C&A points (4 out of 5) Excursions -- In Coco Cay, SCUBA was fun, however, I would like for Royal to expand it to a two tank boat diving option. I was wiped out after dealing with the current at the end during the shallow part over the reef headed back to the beach. In Nassau, Margaritavile was ok. The food and beverage was expensive and not up to expectations. I am simply going to Junkanoo next time if I get off the ship. Coco Cay (4 out of 5); Nassau (3 out of 5 -- I won't do it again) Activities -- the flow rider and water slides were a blast. Independence Dunes for putt putt was fun, and I like the location at the front over the panoramic ocean view rooms. (5 out of 5) Entertainment -- I really enjoyed the Schooner Bar and various options in the Star lounge featuring the cast from Grease and the Independence of the Seas band/orchestra. Grease was presented "in concert" and was not the full production, which I was a little disappointed about. (4 out of 5) Pics This brought back memories. This couple was in my first ever stateroom on a Royal Caribbean cruise.
  22. I am a planner too...I like redirecting it to enjoyment and considering that when the time comes, will the planning cause everything to fall into place. When it does...I think, "cool"...I alleviated stress for everyone...when it doesn't, I don't beat myself up, I see what I can learn in the moment and try to enjoy a little spontaneity. It's vacation.
  23. Agree...I work with Brock at MEI and benefited from this on my sailing later this year when he contacted me about it. Saved about $200
  24. I know all of this can change on a dime, but I am wondering if we can expect an announcement from the FL ports soon...so far Miami, Everglades, Canaveral and Tampa have no announcements on their social media
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