Jump to content


  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


Everything posted by donolog

  1. This is a little bit like asking which wine is best. Ask five people that like wine what their favourite wine is and you'll get five different answers, and I suspect the same for cruising. But for me personally, if flights weren't an issue, my preference would be a southern itinerary out of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Old San Juan is a very cool place to spend a day or two pre- or post-cruise. I'd prefer Freedom Adventure over Jewel because it has a few extras like the FlowRider, but I wouldn't hesitate to cruise Jewel again. Of course if some people wanted to do Walt Disney World or Universal Studios (i.e. Harry Potter World), then Orlando might make more sense. If New York City appeals to the crowd, then cruising out of Cape Liberty (which is right around the corner from the Statue of Liberty) on Anthem might offer the greatest amount of overall awesomeness for the group as a whole, but would require a 9 to 12 day cruise to get farther than the Bahamas. Given you've got folks coming from different directions, the cost and convenience of the flights for everyone involved might tilt the scales to one cruise over another. You might want to begin on Google Flights and compare how the flights will look for various ports of departure. Also consider whether or not the amenities of an Oasis or Quantum Class ship are make or break to your party. Not sure that helps, but I'm sure it will be great whatever you choose.
  2. Last couple of cruises I have booked the Next Cruise onboard. I have paid a $100 deposit, but then get a $100 OBC for the current cruise, so it's pretty much like booking without a deposit and then getting $100 off the next cruise (because I would have otherwise had to pay that $100 to my bar bill on the current cruise).
  3. My wife and daughter did this together on Liberty earlier this year. The online booking was wonky for us and they apparently haven't fixed the problem. My daughter was 10 and I think they did the "kids class" and had lots of fun. If I'm remembering correctly, Cruise Planner on the website wouldn't let us book our daughter for either of the classes because she was too old for one and too young for the other. When my wife called to sort it out, I think they said the kids class was supposed to be 5 and over, not under. I'd call them regardless to make sure you get the right one. They did two cupcakes each, and decorated them with icing and other edible extras to turn them into things like a frog or a lion (click for image). Ends up being a couple of expensive cupcakes for sure, but they had fun and it was a memorable experience -- no regrets on doing it, but once will probably be enough. I don't think there would be any issue with you observing without paying -- I poked my head in while it was going on.
  4. Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical machine.
  5. Couple of points to add: The MDR has a daily special on bottles of wine where select bottles are discounted by 20% ... there's usually at least one white and one red each day. They might not match the varietal or price range you want, but I've had good luck getting something I want. (And of course if you don't finish the bottle they'll keep it for next night). If you bring your allowed two bottles on board, they'll serve it to you in the MDR, but you can also keep it in your room to drink at other times. Personally I enjoy having a glass of wine on the balcony in the afternoon. Don't forget your gold status will get you a pair of two-for-one drink offers (i.e. four drinks for the price of two) -- plus a pair of 10% off single drink offers. On my last cruise we used a 2-for-1 on a couple of $18 glasses of wine in Vintages ... not bad. On my last cruise we had wine with dinner every night, usually a glass of wine in the afternoon, I had a drink at the show every night, and a few drinks here and there -- I think we average $25pp/day not including the cost of the two bottles I brought onboard at the beginning of the cruise.
  6. That's always been my experience too (although in my case both parents and the child have Canadian passports), but I would always be cautious about suggesting the experience would be the same for everyone in the same situation. As a confident yet polite, clean-cut, middle-aged guy with his family, customs goes really smooth for me -- in a way it might not for a young guy with long hair, tattoos, and is nervous or has a bit of attitude. The customs agents might make less assumptions with him. So individual results may vary for reasons beyond the names on the passport or birth certificate. The other thing is they might be questioning it without you realizing. They might be observing the body language of the kids and how they interact with their parents, and they will ask the kids questions in a way the sounds like they're just being friendly, but is actually a bona fide question to help them figure out if there's anything they should be concerned about. How the kids are acting can be a lot more revealing than a piece of paperwork that could have been forged.
  7. "Old San Juan" is the second oldest European settlement in the "New World" (oldest in a US Territory) and it has been well preserved. A great place to just walk around to take in the architecture or eat at one of the great restaurants. This article by Jeff Stamer is oriented around great places to take photos, but could also be used as a basis for a self-guided walking tour of Old San Juan (it includes a map). Castillo San Felipe Del Morro (a.k.a. El Morro) is the old citadel/fort and is a highlight along with its counterpart Castillo de san Cristobal. I think there's also a (free?) trolley that runs between some of the historic sites.
  8. The Cruise Director is essentially the senior manager on the ship that is responsible for the guests having a good time by planning and providing events, activities and entertainment onboard the ship.
  9. Definitely not weird, plenty of people do it. But I agree with DocLC about San Juan. Don't need to book an excursion, just walk around Old San Juan -- should be fine on your own. If you have a National Parks Pass, bring it as it will get you into the old forts. I've been there twice and still look forward to having a walk around next cruise.
  10. That depends on what and how much they drink. DocLC listed the complimentary drinks in the prior post -- will that cut it? Or are they going to be drinking a bunch of cokes (or other pop) every day? We generally avoid carbonated soft drinks in my family and so apart from a virgin pina colada as a poolside treat for my daughter (and maybe a second one if we go to the evening show) we do fine with the complimentary drinks available in the restaurants.
  11. WAAAYTOOO do you know if your CR perks port over to Celebrity and Azamara like C&A perks?
  12. It's funny because when UkuleleCruiser first posted this I asked myself the same question, but then figured it would be for much the same reason he explained. I would add that it could be useful to grab a beverage to take with you when you're heading ashore. Personally, I don't bring my own mug because I'm fine with the size and spillage risk, so when leaving the Windjammer or passing by the Park Cafe I'll often grab a coffee in a standard porcelain mug provided and take it wherever I'm off to next. Once done the mug doesn't have to be returned to where you got it, you can leave it in your room or other places around the ship and it will be collected and find it's way home after cleaning. Park Cafe also has disposable cups with lids, but personally I avoid those unless I'm taking it ashore.
  13. I agree with that if someone would otherwise be paying for those things anyway. I like all of those things, and if I had a package I'd get them and when factoring in their cost I'd "break even" on the package a lot quicker. However, if I didn't have the package I'd also be happy with the complimentary alternatives available (e.g. brewed coffee, glasses of ice water, orange juice from concentrate, etc.), and I wouldn't otherwise pay the price for the premium offerings.
  14. The main blog just made a good post that helps sorting this out: http://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2016/11/30/royal-caribbean-drink-package-right-you I would start with the last paragraph of the post: "At a minimum, the unlimited alcohol package requires around a half dozen drinks per day, every day to be a good value for you. Reading this, you will have instantly thought to yourself, "That is a lot of drinking" or "That is not really that much" and that is when you know if the packages in general may be a good choice for you."
  15. Whether or not the cruise line has to withhold tax on winnings might be a different issue than whether or not those winnings are taxable earnings that need to be reported when filing a tax return. I don't know for sure, but I suspect the IRS in the United States would consider winnings taxable whether they're won in Vegas, at-sea, in Canada, or wherever in the world. Otherwise I would expect Canadian casinos (that do not withhold tax on significant winnings because gambling winnings are not taxable in Canada) to be more popular with Americans. Hopefully someone reading this will have definite knowledge on this and can clarify.
  16. And then he can say "I married into Diamond Status" :)
  17. Tanya -- your original post said you were planning to cruise in 2018 -- did you mean 2017? If it is 2018 it might be a little early to book right now as prices might come down closer to the date. D
  18. But if you have an above average sized stomach you're golden. :P
  19. While there may be a number of logistical issues (such as fuel supply) to address, I can't see how it would make sense for RCCL to offer a regular itinerary that includes Cuba unless the citizens of the United States (and RCCL) can be confident they can travel as tourists to Cuba without issue. When the Obama administration began thawing the diplomatic ice between the two countries, I think RCCL began preparing to capitalize on the opportunities a more open US-Cuba relationship would afford should that come to fruition. However, the lifting of the embargo and opening up bona fide tourist visits is beyond the scope of the President's authority and requires Congressional approval. Maybe things look different on the ground in the USA, but I have seen nothing to indicate there's any Presidential or Congressional appetite for continuing the diplomatic course Obama has begun with Cuba -- in fact, if anything a reversion to earlier ways seems more likely. That said, if there's one thing I've learned from watching this last election ... anything's possible no matter how unimaginable.
  20. I don't have experience with hotels in FLL but having just taken a quick look on Trivago I have to agree with WhiteSoxFan that the pricing seems very high. Are you set on a particular itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale? Perhaps consider one out of Orlando/Port Canaveral, where hotel rates seem to be a lot more reasonable (from my very brief search). It might also provide an opportunity to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios if that's of interest (certainly is for my daughter). I am also planning a cruise in March 2018 with my daughter who is 10 now but will be 12 then. We have done several RCCL cruises with her over the past few years, and she loves it and always has plenty of things to do that she finds interesting. If I were to ask her, I think the list of top things would be: Going to the Adventure Ocean and hanging out with other kids her age The pool Flowrider Climbing wall Mini-golf Shore excursions, especially when they include snorkelling Cupcake decorating class Bingo Going to the evening and ice shows Shrimp cocktail appetizer in the main dining room Lobster dinner in the main dining room In general, the newer ships have more things to offer kids this age -- especially the Quantum, Oasis, and Freedom class ships -- but to be honest, for the her the main thing is the pool and Adventure Ocean, and everything else is just icing on the cake with some ships having more icing than others.
  21. As far as I know they all have bingo -- certainly every one that I have been on has. It's primarily cash prizes that are awarded for each game at each session. On the final game of a particular session there may be a bonus if you get bingo before a pre-determined amount of numbers being called, and if that bonus isn't won it is carried forward to the bonus of the next session (which can lead to a pretty big bonus prize if it's carried forward a few times). The t-shirt I mentioned might have actually been part of a bundle (e.g. play five sets of numbers and get a free t-shirt), although I do remember my daughter was awarded a "Ringo-Bingo" stuffed toy as a side prize or something, but the big show is all about the cash. The final bingo of a cruise might be a bit bigger (especially if it's a sea-day), and I seem to remember something like a "free cruise" prize being up for grabs, but I might be getting mixed up with a blackjack tournament.
  22. Won a t-shirt at Bingo ... does that count? :) I haven't played much in the Casino, but on the last cruise won $100 on the Casino Daily Lotto and came in third in a Blackjack tournament -- don't remember winning much more than that.
  23. Based on prior comments from WAAAYTOOO I believe the answer is yes. The only catch is when you get cash in the casino from your on-board account, I believe they have a service charge of something like 2%-3%. So you would get $100 cash in the casino, but $103 would be charged to your on-board account. This provides a loophole that effectively allows you to cash out your on-board credit, and for this reason some cruise lines don't allow casino charges to apply against on-board credits, but I'm pretty sure that in a previous post, WAAAYTOOO said she has done this ... but with the caveat the cruise line could always change their policy on this (or enforce it if there is already one in place).
  24. Just about anything you buy once on-board will go on your Sea-Pass. Think of it like a credit card, where you get the statement at the end of the cruise with all of your charges and you have to pay the balance owing before you leave the ship. The on-board credit will show up on this final statement to reduce the amount due, e.g. if you have $400 in charges on things like dinners, spa treatments, merchandise, etc., the $300 credit will reduce the amount owing to $100, and this is what will be charged to your pre-arranged credit card unless you go to the purser's desk to arrange an alternate payment method. If your total charges are $200, you won't owe anything after the credit (but don't expect a refund of the unused credit). Anything you purchase through the cruise planner prior to the cruise (e.g. drink packages, shore excursions, etc.) will be charge to your credit card at the time of purchase so they will not show up as an on-board charge and therefore you cannot use your on-board credit to pay for them. However, drinks (including drink packages) and excursions you purchase while onboard will be an on-board charge to which you can apply your credit. So why pre-purchase? You might be able to get a better deal on a drink package pre-cruise, and the shore excursions you want might already be full if you wait until onboard. As firegal2539 says, you shouldn't have any trouble burning through $300 on-board.
  25. While I can't speak to Casino Royale Club or other casino specific loyalty programs, there are a few general points about the casino that may (or may not) be helpful. Every night of your cruise, the cabin attendant will leave in your state room the "Cruise Compass", which is a sheet of paper listing highlights and a schedule of what's happening on board the next day. Take a few minutes to look through the list of things going on to find out what interests you (having a highlighter pen is helpful for this). I can think of four casino-related things to keep an eye out for on this: the hours the casino will be open free learn-to-play events (probably less useful to experienced casino-goers) casino tournaments (e.g. blackjack, hold 'em, slots, etc.) drink promotions (e.g. $1 mimosas between 11:00-noon) Apart from slots and table games, the casino also holds a daily (sometimes twice-daily) lottery. You buy a ticket at the casino window during the day and they draw a winner later that night (mrs donolog won $100 on our last cruise!). The other major gambling-related activity onboard is bingo -- there will be several sessions over the cruise, but they are usually held in a lounge and not the casino (check the Cruise Compass for time and location). This last point will only be useful if and when you do a second cruise, where you will also get a few gambling perks in your Crown & Anchor Gold Level on-board offers such as: 20% off a casino tournament (but it will likely exclude hold 'em tourneys) one free spin to win one free jackpot card when you purchase a bingo package None of these are earth-shattering but as they say "it beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick".
  • Create New...