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  1. Thanks
    tdcackler reacted to spiralqueen in First Time Check In   
    I’ll let others tackle the first part of your question though I’m pretty sure the answer is you aren’t missing anything. But as to why you are seeing conflicting information about CAS, it’s because I believe Royal Caribbean changed the way they do it semi recently. It used to be that you could sign up for it before your first cruise and get a “pre-gold” status, but now they have it that everyone is automatically enrolled and there’s no place on their website to sign up beforehand. If you really wanted to, I suspect you could email the crown and anchor email and ask to sign up, but that’s unnecessary IMO. 
    From their FAQ (https://www.royalcaribbean.com/faq/questions/crown-anchor-society-loyalty-program-enrollment)
    “If you are a new guest, there is no need to sign up for Crown & Anchor Society. You will be automatically enrolled after you complete your first sailing with Royal Caribbean International (applies to US Residents). Membership benefits begin after you have completed at least one Royal Caribbean International cruise. “
  2. Like
    tdcackler reacted to twangster in Why You Need to Consider Travel Insurance... and other random musings   
    Yesterday I experienced a trip delay returning on a cruise and I thought it would make an interesting "lessons learned" post.
    My 4 night cruise on Brilliance of the Seas left Tampa on time and on schedule.  It was a great cruise with a group of friends and we all enjoyed it.  When we finished our day in Cozumel and re-boarded the ship none of us knew how mother nature had her own plans for our return to Tampa despite calm seas and smooth sailing.
    Fog.  Heavy fog.  
    To reach the pier in Tampa you need to pass under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  In 1980 during severe weather a freighter struct the original bridge sending a section of the bridge crashing into the bay killing 35 people.  As such, Tampa and it's pilots don't take chances when it comes to weather.
    We arrived to the Tampa pilot station six hours ahead of schedule in an attempt to beat the fog but the fog beat us, arriving earlier than forecast.
    Our attempt to beat the fog and arrive early didn't come without cost.  Running any boat, vessel, craft or ship at full speed consumes a massive amount of fuel compared to running at a nominal cruising speed.  Royal spent tens of thousands of dollars on fuel and it's an example how Royal does try to do the best thing for everyone involved even if it costs them significant sums of money.
    Waking up early on debark day I noted our speed was zero but we were still outside of Tampa Bay. Oh boy, here we go.  Up on deck 12 I could see several cargo and tanker ships hanging around with us in the fog.  Beyond the lights of the other ships you couldn't see much of anything.  Fog.
    The Captain informed us that the channel into the port was closed by the Coast Guard and we would need to wait until the channel opened and a pilot could come out to board the ship.  The initial estimate was a 2:30pm arrival at the pier.
    Not long after the Captain informed us that he just got word that another cruise ship got stuck in port the day before and couldn't leave due to the fog.  The channel through Tampa Bay is narrow and only one cruise ship can occupy it at a time, two ships cannot pass each other in the channel.  It takes 2 to 3 hours for a ship to transit the channel.  We had no choice but to wait for that ship to depart and clear the bay before could begin our entrance to the bay.  Estimated arrival now 5:30pm.  
    Lesson 1 - Don't book early flights.
    While sitting around an airport for a day doesn't sound that attractive you need to understand the risk that comes with booking an early flight.  Delays happens for a number of reasons most of which are no one's fault and unavoidable.  Weather delays happen, some ports like Tampa or Galveston are more likely to experience delays at certain times of the year.  Do some research before booking that flight.  Delays can occur for many reasons beyond weather.  
    In my case, I had booked a 6:30pm flight home because it was cheapest, like $175 cheaper than the 10:30am direct flight.  Over the weeks before the cruise I kept looking at that knowing I could pay the difference on Southwest and grab the earlier direct flight but if someone said to me "I'll give you $175 and all you need to do is stay at an airport for 8 hours" I'd take that deal every time.
    I knew I could get some work done using the free airport wifi so my plan was to get off the ship early and spend the day working from the airport knowing if there was a delay, I could be relaxed and not stressed out.  Not only did I save money but the later flight also saved me a bunch of stress during this experience.
    Lesson 2 - Travel Insurance.  This is a perfect example of how travel insurance needs to be high on anyone's list to consider. 
    Our group of about 70 included folks with travel insurance and some "self insured" as they put it.  Some people were out $400 or $500 per person to rebook next day airfare and they had to pay for a hotel and meals on top of that.  For a couple that can be over $1,000.  For a family of four that could be over $2,000.  Those with insurance will get some, if not all of that back.  Those without just lost a whole lot of money.
    However know your travel insurance coverage and limits.  My annual travel insurance policy was chosen primarily for medical coverage.  It has some trip interruption coverage but it doesn't have great reimbursement for delays of this nature.  
    Lesson 3 - If you have travel insurance, know how to use it.
    A lot of people in our group had insurance but had no idea what to do in the hour of need.  What is their phone number? What is the policy number?  What is covered and what isn't?  How much is covered?  Do you need pre-approval? What documentation is required?  The ship had letters pre-printed and available at guest services stating there was a weather delay and some insurance companies will need that documentation for a claim to proceed.  
    If you buy insurance that's great, but know what to do when you need to use it.
    Lesson 4 - They keep the food and beverages flowing.  
    No need to worry about your extra time on board, they have ample food for such events and lined up more activities to keep us busy.  Most people took it all in stride and rolled with it.  It was quite enjoyable, much like any sea day.
    Lesson 5 - Listen to announcements and pay attention. 
    On the last night of the cruise many people put their luggage tags on their bag and place them in the hallway.  Bags are collected by the crew and prepared to be offloaded once the ship reaches the pier.  It takes time for the pier personnel to offload thousands of bags.  There is a reason why bag tags have numbers and bags are offloaded in order so that numbers can be called only when those bags will be ready and waiting in the terminal.  
    During an event like this there a natural tendency to want to get off as soon as the ship arrives but cruise terminals cannot hold thousands of people waiting hours for luggage to be offloaded.  
    Of course what occurred once we did finally reach the pier?  Hundreds of guests ignored the announcements, made a stampede to exit during the "self assist" time and found themselves having to stand outside the terminal waiting for up to 2 hours for their luggage, with no where to sit and no food or water.  If they had listened to the announcements they could have been sitting comfortably on the ship with access to restrooms, food and beverages. Instead they made the self-assist process more chaotic and accomplished nothing but misery for themselves in the process. 
    Listen to the announcements, follow instructions.  
    Lesson 6 - You can't fight mother nature. 
    It's not the crew's fault, it's not the Captains fault, it's not the cruise line's fault. Don't be one of those people making an already difficult situation any worse.   Even if you are one of those people who choose to ignore the lessons above, at the end of the day becoming ugly or snarky with the crew or terminal employees accomplishes nothing.  Sit back, take a deep breathe and relax.  Life will go on and it will all work out in the end.  Put a smile on in the face of adversity.  Be kind to other's and don't get everyone else spun up.  Staying calm and friendly helps other's stay calm and friendly.  If you are stressed out, it will make your spouse and/or kids stressed out.  If you are calm and smiling through it, your loved ones will be more relaxed.  Do it for them.
    Lesson 7 - If you don't buy insurance you've only got yourself to blame.
    Accept the fact that you saved some money by not buying insurance.  You took a gamble and lost.  The money saved by not buying insurance may take a small bite out of your losses.  No cruise line can change factors beyond their control.  It's not their fault.  You took the chance and lost.  Accept responsibility and move on.  
    Me?  I got lucky.  A lot of factors combined to work out in my favor.  I had booked a later flight.  I have travel insurance.  I always use self-assist.  Customs was fast.  Taxi's were waiting.   TSA Pre lines had no wait.  Southwest did an amazing job getting my luggage on the plane checking in at 38 minutes before departure.  The stars aligned for me perfectly and I didn't need to make a claim against my insurance policy.  I was fortunate but in a small group of lucky guests.
  3. Like
    tdcackler reacted to tiny260 in Beverage pkg dropped for no reason!   
    If you look at  the little arrow next to the $52 in the Cruise Planner it says "this is your price including the discount", so they are already figuring BOGO, I think this is one of the worst ways they try and get you to buy, but they are still figuring the discount off of "On ship" pricing, so in Royal math they are giving you one at half price.
    The only reason I know is that I've been tracking pricing on Harmony for October, 19, and the price has not changed since the first of the year. Most of the people that are seeing the good discount above are within or right at the 90 day final payment.
  4. Like
    tdcackler reacted to jticarruthers in Beverage pkg dropped for no reason!   
    I don't think its a joke, I think its exactly the explanation.
  5. Like
    tdcackler reacted to twangster in Beverage pkg dropped for no reason!   
    If prices dropped they are trying to stimulate sales.  
    I like to joke we see it when the next interim payment is due on current ship being built.  If they need an influx of cash, put it on sale!
  6. Like
    tdcackler reacted to TommyP365 in Navigator Dry Dock   
    I'm psyched to be on newly amped Navigator in May! I might try to finally vlog a trip. This seems to be a proper excuse.
  7. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Traveler in Compare the KEY benefits to suites benefits   
    I know its not first discussion about the Key and  I guess its not the last one . 
    To help deciding  if the key program making  sense or not (at least for me) I created a table with all the benefits comparing  the key to the different suites .  I was not sure on one  or two items so please let me know if something need to be fixed here. hope its helpful.

  8. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Sweety in WOW Is Back !! Come & Get It!!   
    I just booked a three day cruise July 24-27, 2020.
  9. Haha
    tdcackler reacted to JasonL in WOW Is Back !! Come & Get It!!   
    Booking  nearly 800 days in advance is paying off for me 😂🤣
  10. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Matt in Communicating with group of 10 on board Symphony of the Seas   
    Great tips @Karen Powers
  11. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Karen Powers in Communicating with group of 10 on board Symphony of the Seas   
    We have sailed several times with large parties and have found the following works for us - maybe some of them will work for you - 
    In the past, we have taken walkie talkies, but they never worked - peeps forgot to keep them with them, etc. Plus, it can get expensive getting enough for a large group.
    We pick one central place that some of the adults will usually be hanging out - for us it was in a shaded area near a pool (and a bar).  We make sure that everyone knows exactly where the meeting place is - i.e. take everyone there the first day to show them - before you turn them loose to explore the ship.  We have also had a table near the ice cream machine in the past - kids instinctively seem to know how to always find that!!    We also generally take a few brightly colored towels that we hang over our chairs - while we are sitting in them of course - so they are visible from afar to those that forget the area..... 
    We assign everyone a "cruise buddy" - then, we instruct everyone to please make sure their cruise buddy knows where they are - generally. Cruise buddies do not have to stay together, only be aware of where each other generally are. This helped us immensely when we are walking around and see Johnny on the basketball court. He can tell us where Kevin is - and he tells us that he is over playing table tennis.  Kids are pretty good at keeping tabs on each other! 
    We try to eat as a group most nights - so we can all review each other's day and exchange experiences.  We do have a couple "off" nights - so our peeps can do as they please.
    We also try to pre-plan at least one night - including time and location - for the group as a whole to gather for a group picture.  Usually the first formal night.  We try to get it over as quickly and painless as possible - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. 
    We also use sticky pads - a lot. Everyone has a list of everyone's cabin numbers on them - we usually tuck it into the lanyards of the kids to keep them from losing them....  and then we regularly write notes and leave  them on our cabin doors saying where we are - such as - Mike is at the sports pool - 3pm.    We have seen others use those write on/ erase boards - but we have not used them ourselves.....  We also have a door decorating contest - so our cabins are easily visible for younger ones coming down the hallways. 
    We have also tried in the past to have a "check in" time for cruise days - just to make sure everyone is ok  - the problem we found with this is that sometimes a peep is in line for the flow rider at the time and doesn't want to lose their spot in line - for example.  We have since cut this out because it goes against the carefree aspect of being on a cruise.
    Before we leave for the cruise, we always have a group "meeting" - or maybe two - the first one - we discuss excursions and who wants to do what, and then, right before the cruise, we meet to discuss how to use the cabin lists, sticky notes, supper schedules, and anything else "last minute".  
    Hope these tips help you - or helps you create your own!! 
  12. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from Matt in Communicating with group of 10 on board Symphony of the Seas   
    For most carriers, you're looking at $.50 to send and maybe $0.05  to receive. Maybe up to $.50. You'll have to do the math to see if it is worth it and I would triple check my info with your carrier.
  13. Like
    tdcackler reacted to SpeedNoodles in What is that they are building in Port Miami?   
    It's -7 today, which is a 20 degree improvement on the "warming up" side - the dogs will stay out much longer - and the winds have died down.  We're supposed to have temps in the lower 40s on Sunday when I leave. So, a 70-80 degree temp shift in a matter of days.  Go home, Minnesota, you're drunk.
  14. Like
    tdcackler reacted to WannaCruise in For Fun - Do you Repeat Ships?   
    Touche!  Totally agree with your last comment. 👍
  15. Like
    tdcackler reacted to JohnK6404 in New to cruising   
    ... and I believe it cannot be used at the Starbucks.
  16. Like
    tdcackler reacted to coneyraven in Geocaching in ports   
    I love Geocaching also, to be honest, I never really thought about it when on a cruise, we've just been so busy, it never popped in my mind.  Would love to know.
  17. Haha
    tdcackler reacted to mom2mybugs in New promotion - Delux Bev $44   
    Yes but I already bought the drink PKG.  It needs to be $28 is 2 t-shirts in San Juan or almost a whole clamshell on labadee or a deposit on a celebrity cruise when they do a promo!!!   Jane
  18. Like
    tdcackler reacted to jcackler in Geocaching in ports   
    Our family enjoys geocaching both at home and when we travel. Does anyone have any experiences with Geocaches in ports?   Next month we will be stopping in Nassau and Labadee.  We weren't planning on getting off the ship in Nassau unless there is a cache worth finding. 
    Next year's port stops are Roatan, Costa Maya and Cozumel. 
  19. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Mrs. RoyalMoyal in Nassau-Torn between Blue Lagoon Beach Break or Enjoy the ship   
    Yes, two ships is a positive sign! Do whatever your heart tells you, it's your vacation, and it is OK to stay on the ship.  
  20. Like
    tdcackler got a reaction from ReyRod in Navigator Dry Dock   
    Correct, no Perfect Storm. 48 inches seems to be the standard at the new things at Coco Cay. And, 48 is the standard for most of the slides at my local water park. Summer before last they finally were tall enough at the end of the season (the last day in fact) to do the "Big Slides". They were happy. I imagine it will be the same on the Navigator.
  21. Like
    tdcackler reacted to CGTLH in Thin crust pizza from Sorrento's or room service?   
    Digging up a photo of the pizza from room service on Harmony back in May of 2018.
  22. Like
    tdcackler reacted to Fuzzywuzzy in Cancellation Beating   
    Jane I think your troll-dar has locked on to a target.
  23. Like
    tdcackler reacted to mom2mybugs in Cancellation Beating   
    It truly stinks when a family member becomes ill and you have to cancel a trip.  And my heart goes out to you that you had to go through this. 
    However, I have been through an a insurance nightmare.  Speaking as someone who didn't expect her daughter to get sick, whose insurance didn't cover her mental illness, who had to pay the entire trip anyway and fly home, I Still don't blame the insurance company or the cruise company and would still buy insurance next time.  Life happens.  I assumed nobody would get sick and still bought the insurance!  These companies are businesses and they have to operate as such.   
    I have to have a negative comment here.  Has anyone noticed that these types of rant posts are usually done by someone who has 0 posts and who never comes back?  Are they legit?  Again, sympathy to the poster if it's truly an accurate post and hope you buy insurance next time.  It makes a difference most of the time.  Also remember refundable deposits, cancel at any cost insurance, and be glad you at least got some money back.  Jane
  24. Like
    tdcackler reacted to LandstromCruise in First Live Blog! Symphony of the Seas - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Jan 5th-12th   
    Did a little picture taking on the boardwalk before it was time to get ready for dinner. 
    This I think is one of the best views on the ship
    I kept saying I wanted to ride the carousel and never did. I’m just a kid at heart 
    Johnny Rockets 
    If you need a sugar rush, this place will take care of it for you 
    We were going to zip line, but never got around to it before our zip line excursion in St Thomas. After that it seemed a little less exciting 
    Playmakers was packed for the football games. Other than that it seemed like you could get a seat there whenever you wanted. I was going to try it for lunch one day, but never got around to it. 
    Dinner tonight was also in the solarium. We weren’t overly impressed with the main dining room the first couple of nights so we decided to try something different. 
    Most of our group really enjoyed the dinner here. For me it wasn’t really my thing. The food was fine, I’m just more of a meat and potatoes kind of a guy. 
    After dinner we had reservations for Hiro. I was a little nervous about the show being cancelled as throughout the day we had some motion on the ship. After all the shows being cancelled on Harmony last year I really wanted to see this. It didn’t get cancelled and I thought the show was awesome. I didn’t get very many good pictures, but here are a few 

  25. Like
    tdcackler reacted to SpeedNoodles in First Live Blog! Symphony of the Seas - 7 Night Eastern Caribbean Jan 5th-12th   
    Love, love, love the big smile! Thanks for taking the time to blog - it's so much fun to follow!
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