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  1. UPDATED 28 September 2021 (updated prices in the parking comparison spreadsheet) Construction of Royal Caribbean's new Cruise Terminal is in progress, with completion planned in time for the arrival of Allure of the Seas on 13 Nov 2022. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 11th busiest in the world. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: (this is a fluid situation and dates may not be accurate) Independence of the Seas - 154,407 GT, 3,858 Passengers - 7 night sailings, followed by 4-5 night sailings (Beginning 15 Aug 2021. Repositions to Port Canaveral 29 Oct 2021.) Allure of the Seas - 225,282 GT - 5,484 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Arrives 13 Nov 2022 from Ft. Lauderdale) Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Resumes 3 Oct 2021. Repositions to Fort Lauderdale on 30 Oct 2022) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 29 Oct 2021. Repositions to Cape Liberty 29 Apr 2022. Returns to Galveston 27 Oct 2022.) Grandeur of the Seas - 73,817 GT - 1,992 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 4 May 2022 and repositions to Miami 2 Nov 2022) Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers Carnival Breeze - 130,000 GT - 3,690 Passengers Disney Wonder - Nov/Dec/Jan holiday sailings each year Cruise Terminal 1, which serves mainly Carnival, is the largest single-berth cruise facility in the world at over 257,000 square feet. Cruise Terminal 2 which currently serves Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Disney, was expanded in 2017 to accommodate larger (Freedom Class) cruise ships. Planning & Tourist Info You can't beat this website for information on everything that is happening in Galveston: www.galveston.com Transportation Fly into HOU (Houston Hobby Airport) if you can. It's much closer to Galveston than IAH (Bush Intercontinental Airport) and you won't have the Houston traffic to deal with. Tip: HOU is a large hub for Southwest Airlines. They often don't show up on the travel booking sites so you need to book at www.southwest.com. You can't beat their "bags fly free" policy and "no change fees". Here are some options for getting to Galveston from the airport: Galveston Limo - provides very affordable shared rides from the two Houston airports with either their scheduled service (8 trips per day) or you can arrange a private car. Currently the pricing for the scheduled service from Hobby Airport to Galveston is $25/person one way if you book online. Owned by a local family of good folks. Galveston Express - Their pricing starts at $30/person each way. Lyft and Uber - Lyft and Uber now operate in Galveston. Lyft has a contract with the Port of Galveston to bring passengers to and from the cruise terminals. Uber has chosen not to sign a contract with the Port, but can still operate in other areas of Galveston. Enterprise Rent A Car - Enterprise is the only rental car company on the island. You should be able to rent from Enterprise at the airport and drop it off on the Island. The Island location is open on Saturday, and before cruises shut down it was also open on Sunday, so you can drop off on the weekends as well as weekdays. Check with Enterprise directly for updated hours and shuttle arrangements. Arriving By Car I-45 is undergoing several phases of construction that will continue through 2022 and beyond. TxDOT is widening I-45 all the way to Galveston Island. I-45 south ends on Galveston Island. When arriving on the island, if you turn off at the "Cruise Terminal" exit (Harborside Drive) you will hit a traffic back-up as you approach the cruise terminals. To avoid this traffic jam, as you drive down I-45 and arrive on the Island, continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends and follow these directions: Continue straight on Broadway as the interstate ends. Continue to 23rd street and turn left. Follow 23rd and it will dead end at the entrance to the cruise terminals. This route will avoid the lengthy backup on Harborside Drive. As you enter the Cruise Terminal area, turn left to bypass the Carnival Cruise drop-off area, then you will see your Royal Caribbean ship at Terminal 2. Drop your luggage with the porters, and then proceed to your parking location. It is highly recommended that you drop your luggage at the terminal before parking. This prevents you from lugging all of those suitcases on and off of a shuttle bus. Parking If you search "Galveston cruise parking" you will see plenty of parking options. I highly recommend making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor or garage space as these will sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you a 5-10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Things to consider in addition to price: Elevation - heavy rains can quickly flood the streets of Galveston, and not just during a hurricane. Leaving your car in an elevated spot will provide peace of mind against flooding if an unexpected storm comes in. Walk or Shuttle? - most parking lots have shuttle service, but some offer "park & walk" for a discount (shuttle companies have to pay a fee to the Port of Galveston for each trip). Walking to and from the terminal avoids waiting on crowded shuttles and can be an enjoyable stroll if the weather is nice. But heat, humidity, and rain can make the savings of a few dollars seem insignificant. I like to drop off the family and luggage at the terminal, then go park the car and walk back to the terminal, but occasionally I have to wait for the rain to pass or put up with a hot/humid walk. Garage, Inside, or Outdoor Lot? - outdoor surface lots are cheaper, but your car is exposed to the south Texas sun and weather. A building provides better protection and security. The parking garage provides protection, security, and gets you elevated and safe from almost any flooding. Discounts & Loyalty - there are extra savings if you sign up for these programs online and reserve after your account is tagged with the applicable discount. You can combine loyalty and one discount but you can't have multiple discounts. Security - all parking is at least fenced and gated. The buildings are enclosed and locked. Some facilities have security cameras. The Port of Galveston claims that the Port Police patrol their lots 24/7 which you won't find at the private parking lots. Electric Vehicle Charging - more and more lots are offering EV chargers. If you drive an EV like I do, you will appreciate having your car fully charged when you disembark. This perk is currently free at all parking facilities where it is offered. Remember that even a 110 volt plug will fully charge your car over the course of several days. Here is my comparison of some of the parking options. I have parked at all of these except Falstaff. Hotels There are a couple of hotels near the port and the historic Strand District in Galveston. It's a great idea to arrive a day or two early and enjoy the island ambiance. The Harbor House is very convenient to the ship and to many nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. Caution: Our room had a smell of mildew when we stayed here in May 2021, so if that bothers you I'd suggest choosing another hotel. The Tremont House is also very walkable to the Strand, the Port and nice restaurants, museums, and shopping. This is my preferred pre-cruise hotel. They offer cruise parking (for a fee) which includes shuttle service to the ships at their sister property, the Hotel Galvez, when you stay at least one night at either hotel (call to confirm details). The Tremont House is located in a beautiful historic building. The Tremont's rooftop bar has wonderful views of the island and port area. The lobby bar has live jazz on most Friday and Saturday nights. There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico. Hotels providing transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options can be found here. Call the hotel that you are interested in to confirm that they provide cruise parking. Galveston has a wide range of hotel prices depending on day of week (weekends obviously much higher), whether there are major events happening, and the season (summer is the busy season here). Booking hotels during Mardi Gras (February), Lone Star Biker Rally (early November), Art Walk (every 6 weeks) and other major events will be much more expensive. Some hotels have a 2 night minimum on weekends. Galveston Dining (And A Few Drinking Establishments) Please avoid the tourist traps and chain restaurants that will leave you disappointed. Eat at these locally owned restaurants that use locally sourced, fresh food, including fresh Gulf seafood right from the docks in Galveston. All restaurants are casual dress unless noted, and all are family friendly (even most of the bars). Many serve craft beer on tap from Galveston Island Brewing. My only connection to these places is that I have personally eaten at them multiple times and I love them all! Rudy and Paco - 2028 Post Office St (21st and Post Office) - Arguably the best restaurant on the island. Wonderful food with a South and Central American flair. Best service on the island. A little expensive but worth it. We like going for lunch because it's very affordable (lunch served weekdays only). No shorts allowed at dinner. Reservations suggested and are a must on weekends or when The 1890 Grand Theater has an event. Riondo's Ristorante - 2328 Strand (24th and Strand) - Our favorite Italian restaurant on the island, and they also serve great seafood and steak. Beautiful historic building built in 1895 in the Strand Historic District. "Farm to Fork" sourcing and they make their own pasta. Tell them you "want a table in the vault." Katie's Seafood House - 2000 Wharf Road (On the water, adjacent to the Port of Galveston) - This new restaurant opened in mid-2019 and is the only restaurant in Galveston that catches their own seafood! Great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. Cafe at the Tremont House - 2300 Ships Mechanic Row (Mechanic Street) - Beautiful historic hotel built in 1879 near the Strand Historic District. Enter the main entrance, up a few stairs, and the cafe is just off the lobby to the right. Nice salads, flatbread pizzas, Panini served in a casual atmosphere. Most weekend evenings there is live jazz in the lobby, which is why we go here (in addition to the good food and casual, historic atmosphere). There is a beautiful bar at the opposite end of the lobby with several Galveston Brewing options on tap. Before or after dinner, take the elevator to the top floor, turn left, and walk to the end of the hall to the rooftop bar to cap off the experience. Eatcetera - 408 25th Street - Lunch only (until 4 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. Vegan and gluten free options available. Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers (try the "Mission From God"), fresh made chips (try them with Buffalo Sauce & Bleu Cheese), local fish tacos, salads, etc. Texas Tail Distillery - New larger location at 2416 Post Office - On-site distillery for whiskey and vodka. Try the honey whiskey and other infusions. Friendly staff, fun place to try crafted drinks with local liquor, or try them all with a flight of shots! New: food is now served on site! Blvd. Seafood - 28th and Seawall - One of the best seafood restaurants on the island. There isn't a lot of curb appeal outside but the inside is very nice. The food and service are both quite good and the seafood is all local. The red snapper is amazing and always comes fresh from Katie's Seafood Market. Grotto Italian - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Classic Italian restaurant featuring delicious veal, chicken, seafood, pizza, and house made pastas. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we tried it again in February 2020 and are convinced it's a great option. Blake's Bistro - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Great burgers, gumbo, seafood. Overlooks the resort pool and the Gulf of Mexico. This one breaks my rule of avoiding the Landrys restaurant chain, but we gave it several tries in February 2020 and added it to the list. The Cove Poolside Bar - 5222 Seawall (In the San Luis Resort) - Beautiful outdoor poolside bar with a swim-up bar too, all overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. The pool is heated so expect swimmers even in cool weather. Great place to people watch and enjoy a drink with one of the most picturesque views of the Gulf of Mexico on the island. Gypsy Joynt - 2711 Market Street - Funky family-run spot with great comfort food. Excellent pizza, burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc. Breads/buns baked fresh multiple times per day. Casual, funky atmosphere. A little off the beaten path but definitely one of my favorite casual places for lunch or dinner. Maceo's Spice & Import Company - 2706 Market Street - Excellent muffaletta's, sandwiches. Simple menu to eat in or carry out in this little spice shop across the street from Gypsy Joynt. Hey Mikey's Ice Cream - 2120 Post Office Street - Ice cream is made in the store. Unique treats like Ice Cream Nachos (share with a friend) and traditional favorites. You gotta' go here! Note: this place is owned by a nice island family. It is sometimes closed over the winter holidays. Mod Coffeehouse - 2126 Post Office Street - comfortable with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music many weekend evenings. Coffee, tea, espresso, latte, home baked goods. Jimmy's On The Pier - 9001 Seawall - On the 2nd story above the fishing pier (enter the souvenir shop, exit to the left, and up the stairs). Very casual with great views of the seawall and Gulf. Owner has their own farm and livestock for a true "farm to table" concept; other items locally sourced. Fish tacos, burgers, seafood, local beer, full bar, etc. Mama Teresa's Flying Pizza and Italian - 416 21st Street - This is the place for pizza. They also have nice Italian dishes. Convenient to the Post Office Street Arts District for a nice after-dinner stroll. Embarkation Experience Protocols will be changing regularly until we get through the Covid craziness, but here is what we experienced in late August, 2021. Check-in times are being enforced. We had the 1st check-in time at 1:00 pm and were allowed some flexibility. They allowed Pinnacles and Suites into the terminal around 12:15 pm. The 1:00 pm people (first check-in time) were admitted around 12:30 pm. People with later check-in times were lined up outside in organized lines marked with the later check-in times. Once inside, there are several lines. Lines to the left are for vaccinated passengers. If you have unvaccinated passengers in your group (i.e. kids) they direct you to a special line all the way to the right. The purpose of the first checkpoint is to make sure you have 1) proof of vaccination 2) proof of negative Covid test 3) passport or other citizenship documents 4) boarding pass The next checkpoint is the scan for weapons/liquor. Your carry-on luggage goes through the scanner and you walk through the metal detector. If they discover liquor or prohibited items, there is a table right behind security where those items are dealt with. If you have an unvaccinated child that needs their pre-boarding Covid test, that happens next. Following this, you walk into the next room where you do the actual cruise check-in. There are quite a few check-in stations and this process takes quite a bit longer that pre-pandemic. This is where they take a photo of your vaccination card, verify your negative Covid test, check your passport or other citizenship documents, issue your wrist band showing you are vaccinated, and take your photo if you failed to upload it before the cruise. We observed that if you had completed all the online checkin steps, had your documents in hand and ready, and generally had your act together then things went much quicker. After checking in, you take the escalator or elevator upstairs to the waiting area. With the check-in times being spaced out and enforced, there isn't much waiting. You will likely move directly toward the ship. The final checkpoint is completed in the upstairs waiting area where they scan your SetSail Pass and check your proof of vaccination for the third time. After this you walk to the gangway and directly to the ship! Disembarkation Experience After having your SeaPass Card scanned, you disembark the ship, walk down the enclosed gangway, and walk down several long ramps to get to the ground floor. Just inside the luggage hall is the new facial recognition area that replaces your discussion with a Customs and Border Protection officer. You are directed to remove your facemask, look toward the facial scanner, and immediately (if all is well) you are cleared to proceed. It was interesting to see about a dozen CBP and police officers behind this area just observing the process. This is an incredible improvement to the old system of waiting for a face-to-face discussion with a CBP officer and it was a big time saver. The next step is to claim your luggage and proceed to the terminal exit. Just before exiting the terminal you will be asked by a State Agent whether you are bringing back alcohol or cigarettes (see the next section for details). Bringing Back Liquor & Cigarettes If you sail from the Port of Galveston, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) has agents sitting at a table after you clear Immigration. They will ask you if you are bringing back any alcohol or cigarettes. If so, you will need to pay the state tax for importing them into the state, whether they are purchased in the ship's duty free store or in a foreign port of call. Although Texas state tax is due, these items are still exempt of any Federal duty. The law limits personal importation by an adult to once every 30 days with limits of 1 gallon of distilled spirits, 3 gallons of wine, and 288 ounces of malt beverages (24 12-ounce containers). Tax due for a 750ml bottle of wine is $3.25, for a 750ml bottle of distilled spirits is $3.50. These rates include a $3.00 "administrative fee". Cigarette tax is $1.50/pack or $15.00/carton. Other tax rates are available online. You can pay with a credit card and they will give you a receipt and a sticker to place on the bottle. Failure to pay the tax and obtain the appropriate stamp will subject violators to a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000 and/or a jail term of up to one year. Galveston Webcams Galveston has some great webcams. If you want to see what the cruise port looks like, or if your friends and family want to watch you sail away on Royal Caribbean via several live full-motion HD video cameras, go here (they have a pretty big following when ships are arriving and departing the port). There are several Carnival ships here as well, and they often block the view of the Royal Caribbean ships when they are alongside the dock. Cruise ships can be seen on the Cruise Cam, Strand Cam, Marina Cam, and Emerald Cam.
  2. This cruise has been through some changes - first we lost a day off the front and then our course was altered a bit also (we now will be in the following ports - Betamas, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. We are just thrilled that we will be back on the ship. We will be doing a side to side, our cruise the week before will be on the Symphony. Hopefully this cruise will bring new friends and a great time for everyone! ”Lynn” and Eric CHARLOTTE AMALIE, ST. THOMAS PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN
  3. https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2019/07/11/royal-caribbean-announces-165-million-upgrades-and-enhancements-allure-of-the-seas
  4. Well my husband has been after me about blogging our trip, so here goes. He claims that he will be helping me blog, but I'll believe it when I see it. Atleast at this moment he is sitting next to me looking at the screen and not reddit for once. A little background on us: I'm Tiffany, and he's Steven. Our circus consists of four kids who are nine, seven, one, and eight months. Steven retired from the Army last year, and I'm a stay at home mom. We knew we wanted more time to be able to cruise, so we decided to take a stab at homeschooling this year. So far so good, and to make it even better, it is significantly cheaper cruising when it's not over school break. Our cruise plans: We were originally on the Allure of the Seas September 1st cruise that got shortened by three days due to Dorian. We stuck with the cruise, and had an amazing time and got a nice future cruise credit since we were in a 2 bedroom aquatheater suite. It was so great, in fact, that we had to do a "grounding cruise" in a non-Star class cabin to bring us back down to Earth. Guess it didn't work, because here we are doing another Star class cruise on November 17th. The ship and cabin: Allure of the Seas 10730 (2 bedroom aquatheater suite) We would have loved to be back in the deck 8 aquatheater suite, but since it's a last minute booking for a family of six, we were lucky to find this one open. We will try to keep this as live as possible but with four kids and star class food coma, no promises.
  5. We just got an email informing us that our August 15th sailing out of Port Canaveral has been changed. Like, really changed. Only one destination is the same (Perfect Day). The reason given was due to "port availability". This is our first cruise and we actually don't mind the changes so much, but I am worried that this is the first step before cancellation. Or...could it be that they really hope to sail and have planned stops based on what they can realistically deliver. Is this a normal practice outside of Covid19 times? I know everything would be speculation at this point, but I would appreciate any insights.
  6. I've read about a number of RC ships in port for vaccinations for the crewmembers, but haven't heard anything about Allure. Since we're due to board on Aug 1, I'd love to start hearing some positive news.
  7. Hi Everyone, Looking to make a reservation on Harmony. As much as I would love an ocean view balcony, its not in the budget. :angry: :( Has anyone stayed in boardwalk or central park balconies? Advantages? Dislikes? Recommendations? Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks! Mel :)
  8. Hello! My family and I will be onboard Allure of the Seas Holiday Sailing taking off from Fort Lauderdale on 12/22. Anyone else going to be onboard? There will be 6 of us adults plus one under 2. The more the merrier!
  9. After a VERY hectic few months, it's almost time for our very first Caribbean cruise sailing on Allure Of The Seas over Christmas. Itinerary 22/12 - Embark at Fort Lauderdale 23/12 - Sea Day 24/12 - Sea Day 25/12 - St Maarten (hopefully ?) 26/12 - San Juan 27/12 - Sea Day 28/12 - Coco Cay 29/12 - Disembark at Fort Lauderdale The Crew Me, husband (both Brits) & our USA-dwelling British & Canadian friends all in our late 30s to mid 40s. For us, it's our 5th cruise - 3rd on RC having done the Med on Navigator and Independence. For our friends, it's their very first cruise and we've told them they'll love it. I hope we were right! We chose this sailing to fit in with my holidays from school (I'm a primary school teacher) and because I really wanted to try an Oasis Class ship. Pre-Cruise We've driven down to Heathrow airport from our home in the Midlands this afternoon and are spending the night at the Radisson Edwardian Blu. We stayed here earlier this year and were really impressed so we booked again. They do a deal where you get a hotel stay and parking and it's just a short Uber ride to the terminal in the morning. They have a funky bar with great cocktails and a couple of restaurants. Tonight we're trying the Indian restaurant. We're flying into Miami tomorrow (after original direct flights to FLL were cancelled and we had to rebook at extra cost or face going via Chicago or somewhere in Texas!) and staying at Pestana Beach hotel in South Beach. Our friends fly in to FLL from Detroit in the morning, are renting a car and picking us up from MIA when we arrive in the afternoon. We've got no firm plans ( we've all been REALLY busy, plus we thought we weren't going to be able to go at all when our TA went bust!) but we're hoping to see the Everglades and do an Art Deco architecture tour.
  10. I am considering purchasing the Deluxe drink package on my upcoming cruise on Allure of the Seas. I know I'll enjoy some alcoholic drinks but I am also a coffee fanatic and enjoy my espresso based drinks so this package may be perfect for me. I know Starbucks is not included in the premium coffee but what is included? And where is that premium coffee found on the ship? I apologize if this question has been asked! This is my first cruise! Thank you for all your help!
  11. Thought I'd mention this. Needed some cash so stopped by the casino cage to ask where the atm is. There's a sign there (I'll post a pic as soon as I go back to the casino) that says Allure no longer does cash advance from the cage. Now you get cash from the table or slot machine. There's no fee I'm aware of as when I took some cash it showed up as a normal charge from Royal. Don't know if it's available on other ships but you might visit the casino cage and inquire.
  12. Sailing on AOS the end of Janaury and just got the dreaded broken propulsion email. I am a super optimistic guy who loves sailing once or twice a year but this is the second port switch to Nassau in a month. First rerouted from Havana on Majesty and now we won't make Roatan so back to Nassau. I am sure we will have a great time but Roatan was going to be a highlight. Seems like Nassau is the Bermunda Triangle of cruise changes.
  13. I’m curious what others think as I got to wondering today about the following: We are on Allure now (14-21 July 2019). Originally we where supposed to go to St Thomas, USVIs, which I was really looking forward to visiting. We received an email a while ago about the change of port to Puerto Rico. While on the ship, we were monitoring the protests and other RC ships that skipped PR. We were a bit surprised to wake up this AM and find ourselves there docked at pier 3. We received a phone call around 0745 ship’s time stating that our Food Tour of Old San Juan was canceled - no further explanation given, but surely it must have had something to do with the ongoing unrest in PR. Additionally, we talked to others on the ship today who got off and walked around the city this AM but we’re never told there was an issue until they were already out of the port, by one of the local shops. That seems a bit negligent on RC’s part, but not the point of my question... This leads me to wonder - why did RC make us go to PR in the 1st place? I know very little about these big ships, but I can read a map and the difference between USVI and PR seems to be about 65 NMs. Seems like we have time to make the next port of call. We’ve been making 18-19 knts both SE & NW over the water and I think I read somewhere normal cruise for Allure is 20 knts. Even at 22 knts, the difference in time between the two islands and Nassau seems relatively small. Additionally, why take us to port at all with the already on going protest which are projected to get bigger..? I’m just curious if anyone else thinks we were routed to PR for other reasons yet told it was due to propulsion issues on the ship? I have no doubt there is an issue as I’ve read about the potential need for early dry-dock - but is that issue really the reason for an itinerary change that seems so small of a distance over such a period of time... Maybe I’ve had one too many sea days and I’m all wet... ?
  14. I apologize in advance for being a slacker on my first blog attempt! I’ll start off with the abbreviated synopsis... I have a new found admiration for all of the live bloggers out there! ? We have been so busy these last couple of days! I’m also trying to be respectful of our traveling friends that do not necessarily share the same level of enthusiasm for blogs, etc., as we do! Cruise Details: Allure of the Seas, 7-night, Western Caribbean itinerary (Labadee-Haiti, Falmouth-Jamaica & Cozumel-Mexico) Out of Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale 5/19/19 - 5/26/19 Cabin Details & Cruise Planner Stuff: Central Park Balcony (Deck 11... Port side of ship) Purchased the Key Selected My Time Dining Purchased the Deluxe Beverage Package Purchased Labadee Over the Water Cabana (Nellie’s Beach) Purchased admission to the Prohibition Party Miscellaneous Stuff: Flight on Southwest Airlines out of Islip/MacArthur Airport on Long Island (NY) on 5/18/19 to Ft. Lauderdale Airport Traveling with good friends from the Orlando, FL area in adjacent cabins... they decided to drive to Ft. Lauderdale Our first experience on an Oasis class ship (our traveling friends were on Oasis 2 years ago) I think that’s it for the synopsis... I apologize if I’m all over the place going forward. We’re having an amazing time and it’s only the first full day! Will be working on catching up to today... we have to start to get ready for our first formal evening shortly! ?
  15. Now that it is officially single digits until sail away, I figure it is not unreasonable for me to get this live blog started! (though I AM endlessly amused by the people who have recently started their posts far in advance of their sailings. *cough @StayFrosty @Lovetocruise2002 @Matt cough*) I will be transparent in that, since this is my first live blog, I can't guarantee I will be able to stay on top of it the way I might like, but I will be doing my level best to share with all of you for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I have gotten so much out of other's live blogs and genuinely want to give back to this community in any way I might be able to. But it isn't ALL altruistic. I think, if I'm able to stay on top of a live blog, it will make a great memory in a bottle of my trip to allow me to revisit wistfully on extra stressful days. I think I will start with a bit of background organized in a format that I'm shamelessly stealing from one of @Lovetocruise2002's blogs. Pre-cruise report: Sailing: May 12-19, 2019, Allure of the Seas, 7 Night Eastern Caribbean cruise Sailing with: Me (32), and my parents (not my age to tell) Flying from: PHL to FLL on Southwest and returning on American (boo baggage fees, yay nonstop flights at reasonable times) Pre-cruise hotel: Ended up with Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Cruise-Airport (the one on 17th Street) We cycled through many different hotels before we ended up with this one. Like the sane person I am, I would check on hotel prices about once every 2 weeks starting 8 months in advance and if I saw a great price at a hotel that looked convenient or interesting I booked it just to guarantee the price. At one point I had 4 hotels booked at the same time. You may be starting to get the impression that I take as much enjoyment from planning my vacation as actually taking it. You would be correct. And thank you kindly for enabling that! Other hotels that were considered and discarded: Drift Hotel - liked that it was close to the beach, disliked that it didn't seem to have as many amenities as other hotels, such as having someone there to hold our luggage if we got there far before check-in. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport/Cruise - liked that it had 2 queen beds (not doubles) for a good price. Disliked that it didn't seem very walkable Hampton Inn Ft. Lauderdale Airport North Cruise Port - this was the #1 hotel until the price recently came down for the Holiday Inn on 17th Street. I liked that it had the normal things like a free airport shuttle, concierge, pool, but it also was across a smaller side street from a shopping center that has restaurants, a Big Lot & a liquor store where my dad could grab some wine. But you just can't beat the convenience (from what I hear) of hotels in that 17th Street strip so while this hotel was walkable...the Holiday Inn Express won out. The itinerary is as follows: Day 1 – Fort Lauderdale Day 2 and 3 – At Sea Day 4 – Basseterre, St. Kitt's Day 5 – Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas San Juan, PR Day 6 – At Sea Day 7 – Nassau, Bahamas Day 8 – Fort Lauderdale We have booked a third party excursion on St. Kitt's through Thenford Grey. I've heard good things about him on here and elsewhere so I'm excited for this tour. We were originally slated for St. Thomas as a stop, but as many of you have probably already seen, Allure is having some propulsion issues and we will now be stopping in San Juan. There are many people in my sailing's FB group who are devastated by this news. While I respect that reaction, I don't want to start letting negativity seep into my vacation before it has even started. So goodbye trip to Secret Sands beach we had through Royal and hello to last minute research into self guided walking tours through San Juan. I'm actually legit excited about this change as I would prefer getting to know the history and culture of a place than simply laying around on the beach all day. And that FOOD. So time to dust off my super rusty 14 year old spanish lessons and go with the flow. WEPA! And for Nassau, we have been before and my parents have no desire to get off the off again. With a ship like Allure to explore and relax on instead, I will not be arguing with that. Cabin: We have a hump balcony Junior Suite on the 8th floor. Very much looking forward to "having" to walk through Central Park to get back to the room. ~*~WOE~*~ Pre-purchases: Besides the excursions which I covered above, we will be trying out The Key (I see it as a great little upgrade to Sea Class) and my mother and I have the refreshment package. I’ve been sober coming up on 2 years now and I love that the refreshment package lets me get mocktails and interesting non-alcoholic drinks so I never feel like I’m missing out, feel out of place around a bar, or have the temptation to grab that tasty looking boozey beverage. Since my mom doesn’t drink either, my dad then gets the 2 bottle of wine allotment to himself and will supplement that with the occasional beer here and there. Nowhere enough to warrant a drink package for himself. The last time we were on a cruise, he would decant half of his bottle of wine into an empty (clear) water bottle from the room. The moment he proceeded to do this with his bottle of red as well was the moment I was mentally buying him a portable wine tumbler for this trip. None of the crew members said anything, but seeing him walk into the MDR with a clear water bottle full of dark red wine was not our proudest hour. Though if you asked him, he would quip that Jesus paid him a visit and turned that water into wine. *facepalm* Random Pre-cruise thoughts: I am going to take as many pictures as I can remember to, though it’s not ingrained. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like me to check out or take pictures of for you. I am open to requests. I will make sure to detail how easy or difficult it was for me to get reservations in Coastal Kitchen as a Junior Suite. That is something that seems to have very mixed results so I’m curious how it will work out. Ideally we would have reservations there every night except for the night we have Giovanni’s reserved. If all goes according to plan, I shall be running a completely unofficial and entirely arbitrary “Allure’s Best Steak” competition since I plan to have steak in Chops (Key lunch), Coastal Kitchen, Giovanni’s, and the MDR (Key breakfast). I will be sure to let you know my thoughts. I will also make sure to note how I am liking the Key since that’s such a new feature and it seems to vary wildly from ship to ship. I have reached the point in trip antsyness where I’m overthinking my packing and buying unnecessary things from Amazon to help. Because buying a toiletry bag is the most important thing in the world right now! I promise future posts will have more pictures!
  16. I'm SOOOO excited! After a rather lengthy hiatus from these boards (which I didn't think anyone would notice but the eagle-eyed @JLMoran did!) I'm back and looking forward to not one but TWO cruises ? Having 2 cruises booked has been a dream since I joined these boards and fell in love with cruising in 2016 and saw just how many cruises some of you take. Also, having 2 cruises in the space of one year was another RC blog-inspired #cruisegoal of mine! (I'm blaming you @Matt and @twangster !). We have a 2 week Med cruise booked for August on P&O's Azura and have just this morning booked Allure for Christmas with a pre- & post-cruise stay in Miami's South Beach where we'll be staying for NYE! I'm a little sad that our summer cruise won't be on RC but I'm looking forward to experiencing a British brand and I'm soooo excited to try an Oasis class ship. When I first cruised on Navigator in 2016, I loved the look of the Oasis class from people's posts on here but didn't think I'd ever get on one. Now I'm going to be! We'll also be introducing 2 of our friends to cruising on Allure. Although I've tried to explain, I don't think they've got any idea how big she is. I can't wait to see their faces when they see her for the first time! On both cruises we've got an ocean view balcony (large balcony on Azura; Deck 10 on Allure) and I'll be Live-ish blogging and periscoping from both. Now, just 108 days to wait until the first cruise...
  17. Does anyone know if a Microsoft Book 2 with dimensions 13.5 X 10 inches fit in the cabin safe?
  18. Hello all! I will be attempting to live blog as much as I can from Allure of the Seas, March 3rd Sailing to the Western Caribbean. I am going with my husband Ken and our 5 year old daughter to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We picked Allure because it was recommended as a great kids program and I liked the itinerary, I wanted to go back to Cozumel. It's a first cruise for my family and my 3rd, though it has been 11 years since my last cruise on Navigator OTS in March 2008. She looked very different than she does today! Before that I was on 2 different Carnival cruises for which I did very little planning but times have changed. For 11 months I have pored over posts, obsessively listened to Matt's podcast, and have packed with Sheri on CTTV multiple times. My nails are done, our bags are packed (though I will be repacking them tonight because I have way too much stuff) and our plane boarding passes and set sail passes are printed. Getting there: We are flying out of NJ tomorrow morning to FLL and then going to take a detour to visit a friend in Coral Springs. Then we will head to Miami tomorrow night and try to get some sleep! I fully intend for us to be at the port by 10:30 AM on Sunday and one of the first on the ship to explore and attempt my first public periscope (please bear with me if you are following me!) The itinerary: Western Caribbean: Nassau-We will stay on the ship, which probably won't be as empty as we would like Cozumel-Beach day at El Cozumelino Roatan- Private tour with Victor Bodden tours because I want us to be on our own schedule and stay as long or as short as we want to. We are planning on seeing monkeys and sloths, then some lunch at a local place and snorkeling off of West Bay Beach. Costa Maya-We will spend the day at Maya Chan beach where we will renew our vows and enjoy some relaxation time. Still back and forth on whether or not we'll leave our LO on the ship for this one (she told us she wants to stay on the ship) but that will likely be a game day decision. The room and board: We are in stateroom 10602 large balcony room. We did bid on a Jr Suite and Crown suite through RoyalUp but I do not have my hopes up that it will come through, the ship has been sold out for several weeks and we didn't bid much. It would be a nice treat though. We got the deluxe drink package for $44 per day and the Key which we scored at $19.99 and I felt that was well worth it. We are looking forward to Chops for lunch on embarkation day. We do plan to eat in the MDR, but have a reservation at 150 Central Park and I plan to reserve Chef's table on board when we figure out what day is best. We may add something else but I enjoy the traditional dining and my husband thinks that sounds good too, getting to know the waiter, table mates, etc. We love craft IPAs but not expecting to find much of that on board, so it will be morning bloody marys and poolside margaritas. Any other favorite drink suggestions welcome. I heard @Twangster order a frozen lemonade with grey goose on periscope today so I'll have to try that, sounded delicious! Oh and I almost forgot, we are celebrating my husband's birthday while we're there as well which falls on Mardi Gras this year. Our daughter is very excited about Adventure Ocean and keeps telling us how she can eat dinner with us and then they'll take her to go the "kid's club". I can only hope she likes it as much as she thinks she will. So much to look forward to and I look forward to sharing it with you all!
  19. I am SO excited for my family's very first cruise ever this July (7-14) on the Allure. My mother- and father-in-law (avid RC cruisers) are treating my family of three (me, husband, and son who will be 3 weeks shy of 6) and my brother-in-law's family (husband, wife, 13 and 15 year old boys) to the cruise and are helping us with transportation there. We will be responsible for all extras (excursions, premium dining, tips, etc.). I am having difficulty navigating the shore options available to us and haven't been able to find any sites that review the options. Ideally, I would like to take our son with us when in port because this will be his first international experience. We don't *really* love the beach and are definitely foodie-friendly (but not alcohol; we just don't drink it) and can definitely do walking tours but maybe not hikes. What are your thoughts on the available options? Of course, I will take any additional tips or tricks for making our first cruise a successful one! I don't expect us to do any premium dining, but I would be interested to hear in what extras are really worth it. We also enjoy dancing, music, comedy, art, watching sports, and of course, travel.
  20. So I officially have all my entertainment booked for my May Allure sailing as well as great prices on my excursions, drink packages, and The Key. Backup MTD reservations are done in case I can’t get into Coastal Kitchen one of the nights. I’m trying to figure out if there will be any additional activities released closer to the sailing that I would need to stalk the CP for or if I should move on to price stalking for my next cruise. The activities currently listed are private flowrider sessions, guac class, cupcake class, sushi class, wine tasting, all access tour, and bottomless brunch. Can anyone with a closer Allure sailing peek at their CP and let me know if I have the complete list at this point? Thanks in advance!
  21. I'm looking to book a cruise next year, and two that interest me are either on Freedom of the Seas, or Allure of the Seas. Allure is a bit more expensive, but it's on a larger ship. I'm wondering if it is worth the extra money to be on it?
  22. Please help me with any general information on the teen club on board. My son is 12 and quite shy at first. He is on the spectrum as well (Asperger’s). Is there any periodic supervision in these clubs? Sorry for the stupid question...Oh yeah, if anyone has a link to a teen compass, that would be extremely helpful and appreciated! Thank y’all so much!
  23. Woke up this morning to do the check in for my Allure of the Seas cruise that departs in 90 days only to see the dreaded message of" We are unable to update your information at this time. Please try again later. I really wanted to make sure I get tickets to the play "Mama Mia" as well as do my regular check in. On Liberty of the Seas you just had to show up but for this ship you need to reserve tickets. Does anyone know how you go about doing that through the Royal website? I hope it's back up and working at some point today......
  24. We are considering moving from an interior cabin to a Central Park VIEW room on Oasis. These aren't the ones with balconies, but are only on deck 9 with a window. To me they are similar to Royal Promenade View cabins on a Voyager Class ship. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/545005992390235584/?lp=true Has anyone stayed in these? Is there any noise from the restaurant or kitchen below? Any noise from Central Park? I have read conflicting reports with some saying the ambient restaurant music can be heard and runs 24 hrs, and others say no noise. I greatly appreciate it, and if you can report on any specific cabins you have stayed in that would be awesome. We are specifically considering 9231/9233. Thank you!
  25. Shamelessly promoting my favourite class of ship again. I came across this video tonight and really wanted to share it. @Matt has some great blog posts comparing the 4 ships but this video was so well put together and gives a great comprehensive visual. Whether you are a first timer or you've sailed all 4, it's still worth a look, especially if you are deciding between them as I find many people are. Also, there are some really good shots of the new features on Symphony, including food shots from Playmakers and Hooked. It's 20min long and there is an ad in the middle but have a look. Can't wait for my next Oasis class sailing!
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