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Orange Crush

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Everything posted by Orange Crush

  1. Here's what I tested and my results on the Majesty over Christmas: WindScribe Subscription VPN using Strong Swan Client on Android: Wouldn't connect at all. I didn't test this thoroughly, but it did not work with the default settings from Windscribe. I'll try some other servers and protocols on Allure in March. Chrome Remote Desktop to home PC: Worked perfectly. A little laggy, but understandable with satellite. Still perfectly usable. Connecting to work via Citrix Receiver: Also worked perfectly WiFi calling on T-mobile w/ Android phone and Verizon w/ an iPhone 7+. Both worked perfectly. My office does have an actual VPN, but I was unable to test that. Everything I needed to work remotely from the ship worked, however.
  2. When I've compared cruise fares across multiple sites, I've rarely found any big price differences (all else equal). It's usually only a few dollars difference if at all. The differences tend to come in the perks--OBC, beverage packages, gift cards to other things, etc. Price matching is easy, I bet they don't match goodies though!
  3. We're going on another cruise in March and I just realized we'll be crossing in to the Atlantic time zone for two of the stops. What does that mean for departure and arrival times listed on the itinerary? For example, it says we're leaving St. Thomas at 7pm; is that 7pm Eastern, or 7pm Atlantic (local time)?
  4. Day Two, Part Two: We headed back to our cabins to get ready for dinner, tonight was formal night. Towel animal alert! We didn’t really dress up that much, more “Sunday Dinner” than formal and that was fine. Some people dressed to the nines, others took it more casual. We took a group photo on the way in and then we were seated for dinner. MIL & FIL just got Caesar salads. Other Half got the Cantaloupe and Honeydew w/ Midori Yogurt and I got the bay scallop gratin and the Vignole salad. Other Half liked the fruit, but hated the yogurt. My scallops were fine, but nothing to go crazy over. They were bay scallops in butter in a funny pan. It was like a small hub cap with five dents and a scallop was in each dent. I really enjoyed the Vignole salad, though. They were a little heavy handed on the dressing, but it didn’t make anything soggy. I thought the mint might make it bitter, but it wasn’t at all. It all worked together really well. For entrees, MIL & FIL both got the strip steak. I went with the beef tenderloin and Other Half got the Corvina Fillet. Other Half didn’t care at all for the corvina. It was described as similar to Chilean Sea Bass, but had a fairly strong fishy taste. It may have just been overcooked or not fresh enough, but Other Half was done with it at that point. To their credit, the wait staff seemed positively beside themselves that he didn’t like his meal and were offering him all sort of suggestions on other items he might try, even things off the menu. The head waiter even came by. They really demonstrated they’d bend over backwards to make us all happy. Other Half still didn’t want anything else and just ordered a couple of desserts. For the record, my beef tenderloin was absolutely amazing and MIL & FIL were both happy with their steaks. For dessert, I had the New York cheesecake and everyone else had ice cream or sherbert. Plus a chocolate sensation, because we are adults and we can make these kinds of decisions. After dinner, MIL checked out some of the onboard shopping and bought a nice beach bag for tomorrow. We went back topside and walked around outside for a little while and then back to the Theatre for the Headliner Show. The Headliner was Kevin Johnson, a ventriloquist and his “fine Feathered Friends” Clyde & Matilda. FIL looooooooooves puppet shows, and this did not disappoint. He was pretty funny all around, somewhat reminiscent of Jeff Dunham, just a bit cleaner. This was the early show, so it’s entirely possible he kept it tamer than he does for the later show. Afterwards, we gathered around the Centrum for the Royal Caribbean singers & dancers to sing Christmas Carols with members of the orchestra. It was nice, but a bit short. So far, Christmas has been just barely there, so it was nice to see some overt Christmas stuff going on. We finished up the night with a little casino time and more piano in the Schooner bar until we went back out on deck to watch the ship pull away from Nassau. FIL wanted ice cream, but the pool deck machines had been closed down for the night, so we went to get slices of pizza from Sorrentos instead. That was . . . um . . .well . . . that deserves its own thread.. It was bad. Comically bad. MIL & FIL headed to bed and we weren’t far behind.
  5. I don't know what the full length of the building is all for, but when we were waiting for our excursion, we lined up along the yellow wall and they lead us around to the dock to board the boat. Afterwards when the buses dropped us off, we came back to the pier through the terminal inside where they checked photo-IDs. I think it's basically the Bahamian customs and port terminal.
  6. Frozen, microwaveable pizza they sell at gas stations still beats Sorrentos and that's about as mass produced as it gets. There has to be more to it than that. I must understand this! You mention Indy's pizza being different and somehow more horrible, so maybe that's a clue? Majesty's my only Sorrentos experience so far. I'm sailing on the Allure this coming March. I will try the Sorrentos there and report back. For science.
  7. Oh, I'm exactly the same way. I heard the bad reviews online and I couldn't quite believe it myself. No pizza can be that bad! It was. I had to try multiple slices of different kinds on different days because I still didn't completely believe it. Same result. Every time.
  8. Day Two, Part One We slept in almost 8am, which is astonishing for us as we’re usually pretty early risers, but we also don’t usually sleep in a pitch-dark room. We got ready and headed up to the main dining room for breakfast and were seated by 8:45. We were seated at a ten-top with a family of three and an older couple, all of whom were friendly and had a nice conversation. We ordered off the menu, it looked like there was a buffet area set up, but we didn’t go over to check it out. After breakfast we went up topside to watch the ship pull in to Nassau. We were early and arrived a little after 11. The cruise director decided to postpone the belly flop competition until the sea day so we could maximize our time in Nassau. We decided to do the Discover Nassau Land & Sea tour. There was a bit of a wait after getting off the ship for the tour operator to corral us towards the tour boat, but once we were aboard, we got underway fairly quickly. The boat was a comfortably sized catamaran with ample seating for everybody, unlimited rum punch (and plain punch for the kiddies or those who prefer a non-alcoholic option), and the crew was very friendly and accommodating. Our guide, Chris, was very energetic and entertaining and pointed out many of the houses of the rich and famous and we saw lots of different kinds of fish over the side of the boat down in the crystal-clear water. We had a few minutes of excitement when the tour guide announced that two of the passengers intended for this tour had accidentally boarded the snorkeling boat instead. They decided to meet in the middle of the water and have the guests jump over from the other boat! If you’ve seen how they drive boats in the Bahamas, you’ll understand why this was exciting. We matched speed, pulled up alongside, threw some ropes to the other boat while they crew held us together and the guide had the two guests step off the snorkeling boat and on to ours. Nobody fell in the water and everybody clapped as we went on our merry way. At the end of the boat tour, we pulled back in to the docks to board tour busses for the other portion of the tour. This took us into town and narrated about what we were seeing. We stopped for a few minutes at the queen’s staircase and then went over the bridge to Paradise island to Atlantis. There was an interesting sculpture at the entrance to the casino at Atlantis. It reminded me of the Iron Thrown from Game of Thrones, except made out of ice instead of swords. After walking around there a few minutes, we went back on the bus back to the ship. To be perfectly honest, I would’ve just as much skipped the bus tour and walked around on our own. The boat tour was a lot of fun, but I don’t think the bus tour was worth the time. We boarded the ship again and hung out on deck a little while before dinner. We also had ice cream from the pool deck before dinner because we are adults and we can make those kind of decisions!
  9. I noticed jerk chicken wings on the lunch buffet on the Majesty. I liked the seasoning on them, it seemed they were baked instead of fried though and the skin didn't crisp up, but I don't usually expect "crisp" on a buffet anyway. The heat level seemed mild to me, although I eat a lot of spicy food so my perceptions can be a bit skewed.
  10. As I complete the "live" blog of my recent Christmas cruise on the Majesty at a glacial pace, there's something I really need to talk with other cruisers about. Let me start by saying that I am FAR from a pizza snob. While I've enjoyed some excellent pizza in my time, and I frequently make my own cast iron pan pizzas from scratch, I still appreciate a slice from a national chain, the mall, Cici's or even Digiorno's and Red Barron. I was a firm believer that there's no such thing as bad pizza. Just good pizza and better pizza. I was wrong. Sorrento's is bad pizza. What in gods name do they DO to it? They appear to be using pre-made crusts with a normal-looking sauce and shredded mozzarella. The toppings are kinda skimpy, but that's not a big deal. The problem is that it's got a texture I can only describe as gluey as all hell. Like Elmer's school glue. The crust crisps up reasonably well on the bottom and edges, the cheese browns on the top, but there's something going terribly wrong at the crust-sauce-cheese interface. The entire mass stuck to the roofs of our mouths and left an unpleasant film on our teeth and tongues. I tried multiple different kinds across different days to see if it was just a particular variety to rule out a bad batch, strange customized recipe or something that's been sitting out too long. It was consistently gluey and terrible. An especially well-done pie, fresh out of the oven was only marginally better. It was still noticeably gluey. Soggy elementary school cafeteria pizza is superior to this. I'm just baffled how the pizza can miss the mark so much. Are they using artificial cheese or some peculiar ingredient? Pizza isn't a complex food and doesn't require any ingredients they don't already carry for their otherwise excellent bakery and galley operations. How can it possibly be this bad?
  11. The combo deal (Deluxe Beverage and VOOM) I got on my Majesty sailing was surf and stream. They weren't advertising "surf" at all aboard the ship. I think they're phasing it out.
  12. I think it was listed as $19.99 onboard the Majesty for Surf & Stream. I booked it in advance as part of the drink package. My upcoming March Allure sailing has it listed on the cruise planner at $15.99 and I paid $14.29 during a sale.
  13. I too got a slip of paper with the code when they gave me my Sea Pass at the terminal.
  14. Does anyone have any idea of the amount or percentages of who gets what? I'm curious how many people are getting paid for face-to-face services vs how much of it goes to folks who are generally unseen like laundry, cooks, etc.
  15. My holiday sailing on the Majesty had it on sale as low as $14.99 by itself and $15.99 with the soda package. I got it with the drink package combo for $54.99. There's some sort of arcane math behind when and how they decide to discount things onboard.
  16. We disembarked yesterday, picked up the doggies from their retreat & spa and are getting back to life where we have to cook and clean for ourselves again... Now, let's catch up on this blogging thing! Day One, Part Three: We decided to check out the Port Shopping show in the Chorus Line theatre. Not really my area of interest, but MIL wanted to check it out, and they were giving away freebies. It was a husband-and-wife team advertising some of the Nassau shops and they gave away some nice goodies ranging from t-shirts, earings, to spa certificates and even a free Wifi certificate for the rest of the cruise (!!). MIL won some actually nice earrings. Random observation--on the backs of the seats in the theaters is a long banister-thing with some almost keyhole-shaped cutouts. I assume it's intended for drinks, and they just no longer use the right sized glasses. Any ideas? (see pic) We headed back to the cabins to drop off the stuff we won and our excursion tickets (Nassau Land & Sea tour) had arrived along with a letter about the Beach Bungalow I booked for Day 3 at Coco Cay. Now, this part annoyed me--we had to visit the shore excursions desk to pick our Bungalow by 7:30pm and submit our lunch selections. I didn't find this out until 3pm, despite having booked the Bungalow *months* ago. I know the state of Royal Caribbean technology can leave something to be desired so maybe picking a bungalow at booking time isn't reasonable, but that should've been addressed way earlier. No time to deal with this just now, since it was almost time for the muster drill. The drill itself was surprisingly quick and painless. Vastly better executed than what we experienced on the Carnival Liberty in October. I managed to pick two cabins assigned to different muster stations, so we had to separate for the drill and then met back at the room to look at the Beach Bungalow menu and get that sorted out. So we decided what we wanted to order for lunch and then had to wait in a long and slow-moving line at the excursions desk. Half the bungalows were already taken by then, all the ones closest to the water were full. I picked #35, second row, closest to the bar. Lesson learned. If you book a beach bungalow: go directly to the excursions desk as soon as you board to pick the one you want. We had a little bit of time before dinner and explored some more of the ship. We stopped for a couple of drinks in the Schooner bar and I noticed that the bartender accidentally charged me and I had to point out I had a drink package to get them to reverse it out. No biggie, but I made a note to make sure I mentioned I had a drink package before handing over my card and to make sure I double-check my seapass statements. We headed back to deck 12 to watch the sun set and land recede off into the distance. Our luggage had arrived in our staterooms so we were able to put on shoes & pants for dinner and then head up. I saw plenty of people in shorts and flip-flops, so I can confirm they're very lenient about dress code on the first day since people might not have their luggage yet. I'm pretty sure they'd let anybody in as long as they had I shirt and weren't dripping wet. We were quickly seated at our table and met our waiter Glenn and his assistant Denis. We all started with some Caesar Salads and a couple orders of shrimp cocktail. The first shrimp plate came with a sweet red almost barbecue-esque sauce, rather than the usual cocktail sauce, so we ordered the second one without sauce. For entrees, Other Half got the Seafood Spaghetti, FIL the Prime Rib, MIL the Chicken Breast and I went with the Steak & Spinach Salad. After ordering, it dawned on me that I just ordered a salad and another salad, but whatever, best get my leafy greens in now! Everyone enjoyed their entrees. In my experience, steak on a steak salad is usually terrible--overcooked, dry and tough--but mine was cooked a perfect medium-rare. FIL's prime rib looked especially good. For dessert, FIL ordered the blueberry crumble, MIL & I got the Moist Almond Chocolate Cake and Other Half got the Chocolate Sensation. The Chocolate Sensation was the clear winner. The blueberry crumble with ice cream looked good & FIL liked it. The Moist Almond cake was just weird. It seemed to be made out of coarsely ground almonds held together with cocoa and sugar. We ate a few bites and were done with it. Better to save the room for ice cream! After dinner, we went to the theatre to check out the "Boogie Wonderland" stage show. Dinner ran late, so we didn't get there until 7:40 or so and the show started at 7:30. We stood on the balcony to watch the rest of the show. My phone battery was nearly dead, so I dropped it off at the room to charge (no more pictures ) MIL & FIL went to bed and the two of us headed back to the Schooner Bar for the piano player. At around 10:30, a dance party started in the Centrum with the performers from the show decked out in full 70s and 80s attire along with Bobby the cruise director. This was an absolute blast and the energy and excitement of everyone was infectious. People would go into the glass elevators and dance all the way down. Afterwards, exhausted from a long day, we too went to bed.
  17. Quick Update, Santa and his elves just arrived to give presents to the children aboard the Majesty. Also, Merry Christmas everyone!
  18. I'm doing a terrible job at the "live" part of live blogging, but the others are napping, so I've got some time for updates! Day One, Part Two Got aboard just after 10:45 and checked out some of the decorations in the Centrum: I also followed the advice of the fine folks here by heading straight to our dining room and checking out our assigned table. It was a 4-top window seat, so I got exactly what I was hoping for! We headed up to the pool bar and got the special drink of the day, a Tropical Sands. It was a good starter, seemed similar to a Bahama Mama, but much too sweet for me to have more than one. We walked back to the Windjammer for lunch and I remembered a second piece of advice I learned from this blog: There is a second virtually identical buffet in the "back" section of the Windjammer. Nobody knows about it on boarding day, so you can have your own private secret buffet with no lines and tons of open tables if you just walk on past the first one. People eventually figure it out once the first section's tables fill up, but there's a nice chunk of time until that happens. Great spread on the buffet. After eating we headed to some lounge chairs in the sun on deck 12 to wait for the rooms to be ready. MIL is prone to dizziness and motion sickness, so we went with interior cabins on deck 3, as close as possible to the center of the ship. We then headed to our rooms and dropped off our carryons and checked out the cruise compass to decide what would be next...
  19. Day One, Part One We left the house around 830 this morning, dropped the doggies off at their retreat and spa for the weekend and proceeded to Port Canaveral. We parked at the port, which cost $85... oof! But no fussing with shuttles and easier for MIL and FIL. We dropped our bags off right to the porters. The people in front of us had a lot of bags didn't pre-tag them so it took a while for the porter to handwrite their tags. Always print your tags yourself, we dropped ours off to the second porter who walked over and we were on our way. We proceeded through security into the port and were fully checked in by 10:30. Being early had its benefits and crowds were still pretty sparse. Boarding began fifteen minutes later.
  20. We saw Cher at Monte Carlo and I totally gorged myself on the brunch buffet at Paris (with unlimited mimosas, naturally) when I was over there in May of this year. Highly recommend both. Found a groupon at the last minute for the brunch buffet, do a search, it might still be good.
  21. I can't believe it's nearly here, but we will be heading out on Majesty of the Seas out of Port Canaveral tomorrow for a 4-night trip to Nassau, Coco Cay and back; spending Christmas Day at sea! I have the VOOM package, so I'll try to live-blog as much as I can without getting yelled at, but I may have to keep it quick and fill in more details from home . . . So, a little background on how this trip came to be might be in order. If you've seen Christmas with the Kranks, we're basically living the set-up to the movie. My other half's mother (I'm calling her MIL from this point forward, not technically accurate yet, but let's roll with it) throws a huuuuuuuuge Christmas Eve party in upstate New York. We live near Orlando and went up last Christmas. We spent a few days before in NYC, it was my first time in the city and AWESOME, then took the train to his parents on Christmas-Eve-Eve. MIL was up into the wee hours making cookies and snacks and all sorts of stuff for the big party. She slept all of maybe 3 hours, got up at 7am, made breakfast for everybody and then went right back to party prep. I played Sous Chef and helped her with all the prep work for the rest of the day until people started showing up for the party. People came and went, everyone had a wonderful time, cleaned up the bulk of the mess and we all turned in for bed around two or three in the morning. Up again at 7am, MIL made breakfast for everybody (again) and on her way to pour herself a cup of coffee, promptly collapsed on the floor. We all rushed over to her, called 911 and started to assess what happened (I strongly recommend that everyone take the Red Cross first aid and CPR training, it could save a loved one's life). She was conscious, but dazed and disoriented and weak. The paramedics came to take MIL to the ER, FIL rode along in the ambulance. I followed in one of their cars w/ Other Half. So we spent Christmas Day in the ER, and the next few days back and forth between the hospital. Long story short, MIL is fine but also the proud owner of a brand new pacemaker and we decided that we would be removing her from any sort of Christmas exhaustion, by force if necessary. And we could think of no better way to forcibly remove her from throwing Christmas parties than a cruise to the Bahamas. MIL & FIL arrived a few days ago, and we'll finish packing up tonight and heading down to the port tomorrow morning!
  22. To share the ship's satellite connection with the shore? It seems like it would make more sense for that to work the other way around--connecting the ship to the island's service provider--whatever they're using. Labadee's communications can't go completely dark when they don't happen to have a ship in port, so they have to have their own independent communications infrastructure regardless. Haiti's infrastructure is pretty rough, so I have no idea if a hard line is even available or if it's all on satellite. As for extending whatever they have out for guest use, well, it would take more than just a few APs. It has to have enough bandwidth and capacity for guests from multiple ships at once, that's not a negligible expense. Royal *could* spring for it, but how much more revenue will that get them? I can't imagine many people who bough wifi packages on the ship are going to pay more for a few hours on land, so Royal's either gotta give it away or realize only a tiny number of guests would be willing to pay more. It might have a small effect on the number of people who buy wifi packages or overall guest satisfaction, but it's tricky to tie that back to the cost of deployment. I would not be surprised if Royal already ran those numbers and determined it wouldn't be worthwhile.
  23. Why are they so secretive about how the points system works? Fear of people gaming the system?
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