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tdcackler

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  1. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from ellcee in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    The burger was even better. 😁
  2. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from Jax in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  3. Like
    tdcackler reacted to coneyraven in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Yes, there IS Old Bay Beer





  4. Like
    tdcackler reacted to FManke in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Haha! Of course it would. You'd put Old Bay on Old Bay! 🤣
  5. Like
    tdcackler reacted to coneyraven in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    We need to get Guy Fieri to that joint to feature it on Triple D --- as others have said, those fries look incredible .... a little vinegar & Old Bay would make 'em like we're "down-y O-shen"
  6. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Lovetocruise2002 in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Those fries look awesome! lol
  7. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from KathyC in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  8. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from melmar02 in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  9. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from twangster in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  10. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from JohnK6404 in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    The burger was even better. 😁
  11. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from JLMoran in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  12. Love
    tdcackler got a reaction from Lovetocruise2002 in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    The burger was even better. 😁
  13. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from Rose City Cruiser in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  14. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from Guy Gadwa in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  15. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from JLMoran in Give me Liberty annnd an $18 DX Package? I'll Take it! Liberty of the Seas Feb 16-23 Western Caribbean   
    We just got off the Liberty this past Sunday. You will have a GREAT time - the ship is amazing and the crew is better. Seriously, we left some fun for you! 🙂
  16. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from coneyraven in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  17. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from WannaCruise in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  18. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from Baked Alaska in Give me Liberty annnd an $18 DX Package? I'll Take it! Liberty of the Seas Feb 16-23 Western Caribbean   
    We just got off the Liberty this past Sunday. You will have a GREAT time - the ship is amazing and the crew is better. Seriously, we left some fun for you! 🙂
  19. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from KristiZ in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  20. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from JohnK6404 in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  21. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from spiralqueen in Finally! We Sail With Royal! (A not live report)   
    Preamble
    Some of you know that we have tried to sail with Royal twice before. First, we were booked on the Adventure of the Seas out of San Juan when our sailing was cancelled due to an unscheduled dry dock. We tried to rebook with RC, but we weren't able to work something out with them when we wanted to go. We sailed on NCL and while we had a decent time, NCL didn't win us over. So, when we found a good deal on a sailing on the Navigator of the Seas for February '19, we figured we'd give RC a shot. That was supposed to be her first sailing after her amplification and, if you remember, it was cancelled a week out because she wasn't ready. Scrambling at the last minute because we needed to get away last winter, we found a sailing on Carnival out of New Orleans at the last minute. I went in not expecting much, but surprisingly, we had a great time on Carnival. So much so that my wife and I agreed if we only sailed on Carnival again, we'd be happy. In fact, we had already booked this trip prior to the last cancellation and afterwards, I was tempted to cancel on Royal - you know, because I'm mean spirited like that.
    We kept the sailing and on February 2nd we finally boarded a Royal ship - the Liberty of the Seas to be exact. Full Spoiler Alert - we had a great time! I share that because I want you to know where I am coming from if I mention something I didn't care for or would change (it isn't much). In fact, I won't go as far as to say we are Royal exclusive, but we are Royal preferred. I'd sail on other lines again (and we've now sailed on the four major ones in the US Market [Disney, NCL, Carival and Royal]) but we'll look to Royal first. So much so that we've already booked our next cruise on the Symphony of the Seas for next January (shhh, that's a secret from our boys). I know at times I've been critical of RC on these boards, but I have to say that once we finally got onboard, the crew and the ship absolutely blew me away!
    Pertinent Information
    Crew: Myself, my better half (Julie) and my boys (George and Lucas [and yes, that is because I love Star Wars!]). Also joining us were my father-in-law and his wife (we all get along great - dad remarried after mom passed a few years ago and I have no idea what the correct term for your father-in-law's second wife that doesn't sound stupid. Loved having them along!)
    Ship: Liberty of the Seas
    Dates: February 2nd to 9th
    Itinerary: Galveston - Sea Day - Sea Day - Roatan - Costa Maya - Cozumel - Sea Day - Sad Day (aka get off the boat day).
    Other Notes: We're eating in the MDR (more on that) and Julie and I scored the $18 UBP mistake. 
    Day One - Driving to Galveston - Friday, January 31st
    As a family of four, flights can be pricey. Thus, whenever possible, we'll drive to vacation. If we can get there in two days drive, then it's load up the family truckster and head out. We got the boys off to school and began the ritual pre-vacation cleaning. I love coming home to a clean house after vacation so we make sure and allocate time to do it just before we leave. Julie had been sick for a few days and I didn't want to get denied boarding, so I sent her to the doctor (yay antibiotics) and I had one last work obligation to go to (as a pastor, I had to make a quick hospital visit to pray with someone). Got back and loaded up the car, ate the last of the leftovers for lunch and went to get the boys from school.

    The plan was to leave home from just south of Des Moines, IA, and drive to Muskogee, OK. Google says it is about 7 hours so we hoped to be there by 8-ish after picking the boys up from school at 1 pm. We actually arrived a little after 9 pm with a stop for dinner in a little town in Missouri where I had the most amazing burger I've had in some time.
           
    Made it the Comfort Inn or Suites or something ... we usually stay at a Choice Hotel because it includes a decent breakfast and they aren't horribly expensive. After a fitful night of sleep, we were up and at it early ... but that will have to wait for my next post.
  22. Like
    tdcackler reacted to GregD in Give me Liberty annnd an $18 DX Package? I'll Take it! Liberty of the Seas Feb 16-23 Western Caribbean   
    Sorry for the hiatus, its been a crazy few days, so lets get caught up. Many have seen my I hate kids post about my daughter getting the flu. I am happy to report that after banishing Typhoid Marry to New Jersey with her mother for a cheer leading competition, she has recovered fully and the rest of us have remained healthy. The rest of the time has been busy with the usual pre-cruise preparations. 
    Lets get back to the fun stuff.
    Flights:
    So living in upstate New York, February weather is unpredictable, and usually sucks so when it came time to book flights we knew way ahead of time that we were flying in a day early to lessen any impact of travel delays. We started tracking prices as soon as schedules were released. We knew that prices will be higher since its a vacation week here in NY. Ultimately we chose to book flights through the Air2Sea program, and so far we have been pleased. We also like the security that if there are issues, RC will work for you to get you to the port/ship and that we wont have to worry about that.
    Here are some observations, and how our experience went. When looking at prices we were surprised that Air2Sea had really good prices. We fly with Southwest mainly and the ticket package with Air2Sea was $1000 cheaper than Southwest, so that was a big plus. Since there are 5 of us we are using the shuttle provided by RC as well. We didn't want to have to split up ubers etc to get to the port. We figured this would be a less stress way to get to the port. When I called and booked everything we are flying on United out of Albany and landing at George Bush. I know Hobby is closer, but beggars cant be choosers here, and with having a pre-booked shuttle I don't have to stress too much about the drive etc.
    Note this, because it affects what happened next, when you book with Air2Sea the cost of the flights gets added to your cruise reservation, and gets paid at final payment date.
    We booked the flights and were all set, and the waiting game began, and this is where it got interesting. A few days after booking the flights, I got an email that there was an itinerary change. Looked at the email and couldn't really find what changed at the time. But then I noticed that our seat assignments were gone. I thought to myself, well that no good. I really don't want to be separated from the kids on the flights (as peaceful as that does sound though). I called up Air2Sea and was told that they couldn't do anything and to call United since it was on their end. I call up United and was told that since the flights weren't actually paid for yet, just held since we were before final payment date, they couldn't do anything about the seats yet. He said once they were paid for I could call back. Okay, no big deal, and that promptly got flushed from my brain as life happened.
    I suddenly remembered that conversation a few weeks back and thought crap, this call could be interesting at this point. I pull up the app to get my flight numbers etc for the phone call, and I see we now have seat assignments back. I thought to myself, well this is good news, but look at the numbers closer and see that they are for 5 middle seats one behind each other. Well those aren't great, so I still call United to see if they can at least put us in the same rows etc.
    Thankfully I had a great agent on the phone. He listened to my story, did some tapping on his keyboard and told me yes, he saw where the itinerary changed and said it was an aircraft change. He said that since the change was their fault, he not only could put us all together, he moved us all to the Economy Premium seats which offer more space etc. He also waived the fee too which would have been about $500. I was just hoping for seats together in the same area. I will gladly take the free upgrade.
    So long story short, we have one of the first flights out of Albany, with a brief 1.5 hour layover in Newark, and then on to Houston. Hopefully Newark behaves itself and we have no hiccups there. I have been on flights were that 1.5 hours were spent sitting on a taxiway waiting to get to the gate.....
    I all goes smoothly we should be in Houston at 1:30pm.
  23. Like
    tdcackler reacted to GregD in Give me Liberty annnd an $18 DX Package? I'll Take it! Liberty of the Seas Feb 16-23 Western Caribbean   
    So, as we get another day closer, we are starting to organize our clothes and get the final shopping out of the way. We have our outfits set for formal night. What do you all think?
  24. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Rags1 in As Garth Brooks said, “Think I’ll Slip On Down To The O-Asis” - Jan 26th - Star Class   
    Well, actually we’ll fly on down, but you get the idea.
    Warnings/Disclaimers:  This blog is the sole opinions and thoughts of just the old guy who is writing it.  It doesn't reflect the thoughts, opinions, clarity, good sense or tact possessed by those sailing with me.  And to be clear, I don’t have the sense of humor, literary skills, or good judgement of most of you who post these live blogs.  But I'm going to do it anyway.  I guess I can be labeled as a “lurker” on this site.  I read it daily but have made only a few comments.  So today I take the plunge and become one of you by just jumping in the deep end with a live blog! 
    Two weeks from today I will be in the air traveling from Palm Springs, California to Miami to begin our next Star Class adventure.  In 2017 we sailed on the Oasis in a crown loft suite and thought we had found the ultimate way to cruise.  But no, there was more to discover!  In 2018 we booked another crown loft, this time on the Allure.  A month or so later while checking for a price reduction I stumbled across something called the.Royal loft Suite!  After watching a quick YouTube video of that suite I quickly booked it.  YOLO as someone on this blog always says.  We sailed in July with Dave Mac as our Genie and there was no turning back.  In May of 2019 we cruised in the RLS on the Harmony with the amazing, wonderful Ariceli who I think has spoiled us for life!  As I said, there’s no turning back now so two weeks from tomorrow we will be in the RLS on the “new” Oasis and will have Allan as our Genie.  
    If this blog goes as planned you will see and hear much about each of us and what we will be doing during the week. So let me introduce our merry band of sailors:
    Stacy, my bride and partner.  I many times refer to her as Pollyanna, which is defined as “an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.”  Defines her to a T.  She sees the good in everything and everyone.  Poor thing. My Pollyanna uses those traits everyday as she toils as an RN, or BSN to be accurate, in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Desert Hospital in Palm Springs.  She is our cruise planner, specializing in the culinary aspects of the Star Class experience.  As she takes her break from those 12 hour shifts at the hospital she will be seen around the ship with a permanent smile on her face and a blended Love Connection drink in her hand.  I expect she will pop in on this blog and provide you with some of her excessive cheerfulness!
    Shari who I refer to as Polyanna2.  Yeah, no kidding.  Another one.  Stacy’s identical twin sister.  The Oasis is a big ship but I’m not sure there’s room enough for this goodness!  She and her family have cruised with us the last three trips but this time she will leave them behind at jobs and school while she gets a well deserved week of relaxation. Shari is the 24/7 caregiver for her mother-in-law who suffers from dementia. That’s a task where that Pollyanna thing coms in pretty handy.  I expect the twins to be side by side everyday and although they act and talk alike you can tell them apart by their hands.  Shari’s will be holding a Bud Light!
    Daughter Taylor, almost 21. Young T, as I call her, is a preschool teacher with with a gaggle of I think 3 year olds.  Can you imagine?  A classroom full of germ carrying, tantrum throwing, runny nosed 3 year olds and Taylor is too young to drink!  T is the calm, chill one in the group.  She gets that from me.  You will find her sleeping late, spending lazy days in the sun and with one of two things in her hand.  Her Starbucks or a virgin Pina Colada.  I told our Genie that I think T holds the Harmony record for most virgin Pina Coladas consumed in one week!  We might also find her in the casino which she discovered last year. 
    Daughter Kaitlyn, 30 something.  The party girl of the bunch. She is also a nurse like her mom. But she is in the other Intensive Care Unit – the one for adults.  Same hospital as her mom.  On December 19th Katie received her Doctorate of Nurse Practioner degree which we will be celebrating on the cruise.  So now she has more letters behind her name:  Dr. Taylor, RN, BSN, DNP, EIEIO. I asked the Genie for time in the engine room for this one because she can talk and drink like a seasoned sailor!  You’ll recognize her by her flaming red hair the the gin and tonic in her hand.  Or a Margarita. Or a vodka and soda.  Or…well you get the idea. 
    Rounding our our group is yours truly, Jim. The quiet one of the group.  I will usually be found on that massive balcony at our suite, on the quiet suite sun deck or in the suite lounge.  With a Jack Daniels and sprite in one hand and a camera in the other. My plan is to try and share as much here in words and photos as I can.  I have enjoyed and learned so much from reading others blogs here so I hope to return that favor.  I’m sure much of the blog will deal with Star Class aspects as I try to justify why we spend a bazillion dollars every year to do this!  I will be doing Genie recon for those sailing after us and will certainly try to answer questions anyone has once we board.  We plan on eating everywhere except the Chef’s Table this year. We’ll even work in the MDR for a breakfast or lunch and a couple of trips to the Jammer.  I think we will do all of the shows. Even Cats.  Yep, I’m gonna do it.  I’ll spend the afternoon in the suite lounge slamming the Jack and sprites and then go experience the feline extravaganza!  We have no plans for Cozumel or Falmouth. Just maybe a little shopping and back on the ship.  We are looking forward to Labadee which we all love.  A relaxing day on the suite beach.  
    In the lead up to our sail day I plan to share more about our travel plans, our night in Miami, our previous experiences with RC and how we survive the Miami airport as we disembark on Super Bowl Sunday.  I might have to involve Jack in breakfast plans that morning!  I know its somewhat early to post but I’m hoping we can all share and get to know each other by our sail date. It’s not too early by Matt or Sabrina’s standards but it is early!
    So come along for the ride with this crazy bunch as we embark on our 3rd Star Class adventure. It’s a long way from my first sailing on the Song of Norway.
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    tdcackler reacted to ashonthesea in A Cruise of Firsts! - Empress of the Seas Recap - 12/30/19 to 01/03/20   
    Day Two - New Year's Eve Festivities
    After hanging out on the sun deck to watch sail away and the little bit of sunset, I popped back down to my stateroom to quickly rinse off from the day's humid walking. When I had taken a shower the first time, I couldn't figure out why the water got so hot, despite adjusting the knob down as low as I could without turning the shower off. This time around, I realized there was actually a second dial, to the right of the one in the center, that controlled the temperature. The one I had been using was just for pressure, so I thought I'd include a photo for anyone else new to cruising.

    The dial my hand is holding in the photo controls the water temperature. The dial in the center is just for water pressure.

    I also found a flyer was left in the stateroom of all the activities going onboard the ship in celebration of New Year's Eve. 
    I don't think Empress typically has formal nights, but as it was a holiday celebration, it was noted on the flyer and cruise compass as a "dress to impress" formal night. After my hop in the shower, I got a nice dress on (not a cocktail dress, but nicer than a sundress), and had a look around the ship to see what all was going on so far. The Centrum had quickly been set up for the balloon drop and DJ party.

    Some reservation only seating for the party could be found on decks seven and eight.
    I stopped by the Windjammer to see if they had any offerings for NYE, but it looked to be pretty standard. There were many staff at the entrances wearing crowns and hats clapping and wishing people a Happy New Year though. I knew that I would be eating in the MDR tonight, but I saw a delicious looking little cheesecake bite that was calling to me, so I had to try one.

    Standard cheesecake, but so good. These were by the kid's section, on the side where the bar stool sitting area is.
    I headed to the Royal Theater for the 7:00pm showing of Bailamos. I again sat on the right hand side, but in the upper balcony level this time. A decent view, but the railings do obstruct the view slightly. The show was wonderful, and I definitely recommend anyone sailing on Empress to check it out. The dancers and singers are all very talented! The show ended just in time for me to make it to my 8:30pm seating in the MDR.
    The tables in the MDR tonight had some streamer/confetti type decorations on top, as well as some NYE hats, crowns, and blowers.

    Even the menus got a little bit of decoration.

    Menu for New Year's Eve Dinner
    Tonight I had the beef tartare, the oven-roasted turkey, and the spice cake. I'd never had beef tartare before, but I did know it was a raw dish. I tried a majority of it, but it's not my favorite. The turkey and spice cake were both very good. My table mates were a little more talkative this evening. The solo traveler had purchased a $15/day Voom package earlier in order to text family, and said that it was working, but was extremely slow. This complaint was echoed by the family as well, so I'm glad I ended up not purchasing the package.

    Spice cake for dessert
    With dinner over, I went back to my room for a quick power nap. I'm usually asleep by 10:30pm, so I figured I could use the extra energy to make it midnight. In the room waiting for me was tomorrow's cruise compass, and a towel friend! It made my smile, it caught me by surprise. I was also happy to get a map of Coco Cay, so I could start making a plan for my Perfect Day.

    A frog? Or crab? Maybe both.
    With my catnap finished, I made my way back out, ready to take on the NYE celebration! Live music was happening everywhere, and the Centrum was starting to get people waiting right at the ropes to get choice spots for the balloon drop.

    Some folks waiting for the DJ party to start at 10:45pm. 1hr and 30 minutes until midnight!
    After checking out the music in the Schooner Bar and Boleros, I went up to the pool deck. I decided I'd ring in the new year up there, as I expected the centrum to get pretty crowded (which it did). Mass Effect was playing great music, once again. I also took this time to try out the hammocks, which had always been occupied when I'd go by them in the day. The clouds had cleared up, so the hammocks made great spots for stargazing. I'm not super familiar with astronomy, but I was able to clearly see Orion's belt. It was very beautiful, and I was happy to be starting 2020 this way.

    Dancing our way into 2020. Was glad that it wasn't as crowded up here.

    A look down at the balloons ready to be dropped from the windows of deck eleven. 
    The giant screen by the pool had been turned into a countdown clock. When I saw it reach 45 minutes to go, I made my way over to the pool bar to grab a drink. While I waited for my drink, I took a look at the rest of the menu. I remembered someone on here asking if there were ciders and non-alcoholic beverages served, so I snapped a couple pics of the Empress' offerings on both.

    Cider, Gluten-free beer, and non-alcoholic beer available on Empress.

    More non-alcoholic beverages available on Empress.
    With my Sparkling Sombrero in hand, I was ready to ring in the new year. Mass Effect played right up until the minute mark, and then everyone got ready for the countdown. It was a great celebration, and although I went to bed a little while after midnight, I understand that multiple parties went on until 3:00am or so. If you really like to party and go all out for NYE, I'd definitely recommend celebrating it on a cruise!

    Cheers to 2020!
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