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turtleclanscott last won the day on July 5 2015

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About turtleclanscott

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  1. Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. After all that, I YOLO Booked it. I decided this was the cruise I wanted to be on so I should just pay for it, even if it was slightly more than I wanted to pay. If anything, I'll watch for a deal to upgrade to a balcony.
  2. Hello, everyone. I'm usually one who books way out. (My only cruise booked is approaching 500 days away.) We're looking at taking a 4-night getaway cruise in March. We've found one that works well with our schedules, but it's a little more than what we were hoping to pay. Today is final payment date for this cruise. Generally, do prices drop once final payment passes if there are still rooms available? There seem to be lots of staterooms still available. Of course there are no guarantees, but what are your experiences with last minute cruise fare? Thoughts?
  3. I'm not sure about Budget, but I used Dollar and Thrifty previously at Port Miami. For both of them, there was a shuttle between the Port Miami and Miami airport Car Rental Center (even though I booked to Port Miami). It's not too far and they both were easy to use.
  4. Thanks for the reassurance. I'm usually one who arrives well before boarding, so not even being in Tampa until 11:15 makes me a bit nervous. We had originally booked the four-night cruise out of Port Canaveral which would have given us the ability to fly in earlier, but we couldn't resist the seven-night cruise. We're still trying to make it work where we can get to Tampa the night before, but right now it's not an option.
  5. We're a month out from our cruise, and now I'm a little worried about getting from the airport to the cruise. We're arriving the day of for the first time ever. (I know, we should get there before, but we haven't been able to make it work. But we do have trip insurance.) We are scheduled to arrive at TPA at 11:15 am. We are planning on taking a Lyft or Uber from the airport to the port. Is there anything we should be aware of in Tampa that might slow us down? Is there a better (cheaper or faster) way for a family of five to get there?
  6. We are looking for things that we can do within walking distance from the ship for our upcoming cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas. We're visiting Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya, and Roatan. In Cozumel, can you walk (safely) from the ship to the "downtown" area? Are there any beaches within walking distance at any of our ports? I know there's the pool area in Costa Maya, but I think we'd just stay on the ship to have pool time. We've been to these ports once before, but this time decided to go for the 7 night cruise and not do any excursions vs. the 4 night with excursions. Our daughters are older (11, 13, and 15), so if anyone has any good no or very low cost ideas, we'd appreciate it! We'd be okay staying on the ship and enjoying the pool and food. Any other thoughts or ideas?
  7. This is different then Little French Key. We went to Maya Key a few years ago and loved it. The boat picked us up on the pier where the ship was docked. The snorkeling was great. The beach is small (unless we missed another beach area hiding somewhere.) Lunch was very good. The kids loved interacting with the monkeys. We would definitely return!
  8. Thanks! That's more what I expected it to be.
  9. We are looking at purchasing the Photo Package for our upcoming 7-night Rhapsody of the Seas sailing. It's $159.99 through the cruise planner (which to start with is MUCH cheaper then what we paid in the past for packages on NCL or DCL.) Is this comparable or a better deal then purchasing it on the ship? Do they ever include it in Cruise Planner sales? Thanks in advance!
  10. I was able to get the Refreshment Package for $20/day for our Enchantment of the Seas cruise in March this morning.
  11. One more recommendation for Alaska cruisers... I was given The Alaska Cruise Handbook by Joe Upton. The book was good, but I really liked the included map. It showed details about the different places along the journey. I would get the latitude and longitude from the television then follow where we are on the map. (The map on TV is much too far to see anything!) the map shows things like "Humpback whales are often seen here." And then we saw whales! It was great to have!
  12. We were on the starboard side of Jewel, which would be my pick if we cruised again. We could see the shore for much of the north bound trip before we got to the inside passage. Once in Alaska, there is shore on both sides. Of course, on the way back, your away from the shore, but by this point in the cruise, we weren't looking out as much. As far as excursions, they are really expensive. In Juneau, we just got off the ship and went to the tramway. They have a special where you get the tram ticket and a shuttle bus to Mendenhall Glacier. We did that and enjoyed both. In Skagway, we didn't take the train! Instead, we booked a combination of two tours that we booked through Frontier Excursions. In the morning, we took the White Pass Summit & City tour which took us all the way to the Yukon (parallel to the train) stopping for pictures. It was a small bus, but our group of four were the only ones on the tour! In the afternoon, we took the Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float through their partner, Skagway Float Tours. Again, it was just our group, although Sam, our Guide, said 10 was the maximum for this trip. The hike was beautiful and the raft was relaxing! Sam did all the work! It really felt like we were in the wilderness of Alaska! When we booked the two tours as a Combo, it was $115. This is $5 cheaper than the train and I feel like we really experienced Alaska instead of just seeing it. I was nervous since I had never booked an excursion outside the cruise line, but we had plenty of time since Jewel left Skagway late. In Victoria, research it ahead of time. We decided to just go and see it, but that didn't work out too well. There's some sort of contract limiting who can be at the port. So we ended up having to by a bus shuttle ticket to downtown then figure out what to do from there. We ended up walking a lot!
  13. We're currently booked on the Disney Dream with the kids next June. Although, I think a return to Alaska will be soon after that. that might be another Royal Caribbean Cruise. I'd like to do the northbound trip next time.
  14. We flew on miles, so I'm not sure how it compares. We also flew into Vancouver (even though Jewel cruises out of Seattle.) We took the Amtrak Cascade from Vancouver to Seattle and loved it. The train goes right down the coast and offers some nice views. Then we flew home from Seattle/Tacoma. So, flying to Vancouver might be worth comparing if you can save enough to cover the train ticket!
  15. We just returned from our first Royal Caribbean cruise on Jewel of the Seas to Alaska. We had a great time and I wanted to share my thoughts with everyone. (I'm also curious if some things we experienced are the same on other Royal ships.) My only other cruise experience is on 4 Disney ships, but since this was our first cruise without the kids, so we thought we'd try Royal Caribbean. First of all, Jewel is a beautiful ship. As Matt mentioned on the podcast, there are windows everywhere! This was especially nice on an Alaska cruise, where there is always something to see. The entertainment was very mixed. When we went to the first Production show, Cities of Dream, I was worried for the week. It was bad. The show didn't make sense and the some of the performers struggled. We almost skipped the second Production show, West Side to Broadway. I'm really glad we didn't, because we really enjoyed it! The performers were much stronger and we liked most of the music selection. The music in the Centrum was not good. They had a duo singing that sang the same songs badly every night for the 7 night cruise. The entertainment highlight for me was the Jewel of the Seas Orchestra. The live band is the one thing that Disney doesn't have on their ships and it added a lot to the cruise. Our favorite thing on the ship was when the Orchestra performed big band in the Safari Club! It was such an intimate environment with amazingly talented performers! The dining experience was so great! The food quality was great! Our server, Ivan, was very friendly and helpful. We really like My Time Dining, but learned that we need to book the entire cruise when we board the ship so that we can keep the same wait staff each night. On our first night, we made reservations for 5:30 each evening (8:30 at home!) and were able to get the same table each evening. But a couple of days later we realized we needed to change our reservation time due to excursions getting back later. Unfortunately, at that time we couldn't get a table in Ivan's section. We still had good servers, but missed Ivan! (He came by and said hi anyway!) The Windjammer was better than the buffets on the Disney ships. The food was comparable, but there was more seating available! My biggest concern with Jewel of the Seas was the smell of cigarette smoke. It seemed to seep from the casino to all nearby areas. Maybe because it was cold outside, everyone was smoking inside. On embarkation day, we could smell cigarette smoke in our stateroom three decks below the casino. Fortunately, once the ship started moving, we didn't notice it again. My wife is very sensitive to smoke, so we were unable to enjoy the Champagne Bar, which was right outside the casino. The Champagne Bar was one of our favorite places on the Disney Fantasy and Dream, so this was very disappointing. I was hoping that the experience on Royal Caribbean would be good enough to convince my wife and I that we could take our family on Royal Caribbean for 7 nights next summer instead of our 4 night cruise we've booked on the Disney Dream. But my 9-year-old daughter has asthma and other respiratory problems, and I'm not comfortable having her around the smoke. On the Disney ships, the only smoking areas are outside and easily avoidable. The staff though out the ship was friendly! That's always a hallmark of Disney, and Royal Caribbean was just as good! The photography staff was fun! Despite Matt's advice, we missed eating at the Seaview Café! We had missed it on the first sea day, then ended up at the main dining room on Tracy Arm Fjord day for the Salad bar. I told my wife that we had to go to the Seaview Café on the final sea day. The final sea day had huge waves (the captain said 5-8 meters or 16-26 feet!) So they closed all the outdoor areas of the ship, including the ones that accessed the Seaview Café! We quickly discovered and loved the helipad! Especially for Tracy Arm Fjord, we could stand at the front of the ship and see everything! The stateroom was nice, but I don't understand the way it was laid out. When we arrived, we were disappointed to see the bed was underneath the window. We thought this was going to make it difficult for us to look out the window without crawling on the bed. We went to my brother-in-law and his wife's stateroom (next door, same category), and their bed was turned 90 degrees up against the side wall, leaving the area next to the window open. You could easily sit on the side of the bed and look out the window. Each room was designed to be in their configuration, since our room had the lamps and headboard mounted to the wall with the window and my brother-in-law's room had the lamps and headboard mounted to the side wall. So, I did the only logical thing and rearranged my room. (The stateroom attendant never said anything about it, so I wonder if I'm not the only one who's done this!) I was very glad when he vacuumed the carpet where the bed had been that evening! A couple other thoughts about the stateroom...the 90's called and they want their televisions back! And there's no clock in the room. I'd have bought a travel alarm clock in Juneau if I'd have seen one! We struggled thoughout the cruise with the time, since we were three hours difference and it was never dark outside. We'd wake up at 4:30 every morning, since it was 7:30 at home and bright outside. Having a clock would have let me see what time it was, turn over, and go back to sleep! My final thought on Jewel is how well if held the crowd. The ship was sold out, but it never felt crowded. Even when everyone was outside to see the glaciers, there was plenty of space. I don't recall ever thinking that it was crowded the entire cruise! Overall, we had a great time! We loved Alaska. I'd like to compare one of the newer Royal Caribbean ships.
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