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  1. 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 :)
  2. Allure of the Seas will sail from Galveston beginning 10 Nov 2021! Royal Caribbean will invest $100 million in the new Terminal 3, with construction starting in April 2020. The new terminal will have facial recognition technology for Customs and Border Protection operations. Galveston is the fourth busiest cruise port in the USA and the 11th busiest in the world. Royal Caribbean is not alone in expanding operations in Galveston, Carnival will expand its Galveston fleet to four full-time ships in 2021. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: Allure of the Seas - 225,300 GT - 5,484 Passengers- 7 night sailings (Arrives 10 Nov 2021) Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Royal Amplification believed 10 Jan to 21 Mar 2021. Repositions to Miami 31 Oct 2021) Enchantment of the Seas - 82,910 GT - 2,284 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Repositions to San Juan Nov 2020) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 16 Nov 2020. Repositions to Copenhagen 21 Apr 2021) Jewel of the Seas - 90,090 GT - 2,191 Passengers - 7-11 night sailings (Arrives from Rome 11 Dec 2020, apparently repositioning to Europe 22 Mar 2021) Carnival Vista - 133,500 GT - 3,934 Passengers Carnival Dream - 130,000 GT - 3,646 Passengers Carnival Freedom - 110,000 GT - 2,980 Passengers Carnival Radiance (Formerly Carnival Victory) - 101,500 GT - 2,984 Passengers (Arrives 14 May 2021) 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 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. Uber - Uber and other ride sharing companies now operate in 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 Sunday from 8 am until 1 pm, so you can drop off on the weekends as well as week days. 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 22nd street and turn left. Follow 22nd 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, stay to the left to bypass the Carnival Cruise drop-off area, then you will see that big familiar 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 Matt points out elsewhere on the message boards that if you just Google "Galveston cruise parking" you will see several parking options. I highly recommend researching on Google and then making a reservation on line with one of the parking companies, especially if you want an indoor or covered space as these sell out (especially now, with so many ships sailing from Galveston). Prepaying usually gets you about a 10% discount and a guaranteed parking space. Port Parking has several locations with indoor, outdoor, and indoor park & walk in historic industrial buildings. Located a few blocks from the terminal, they have shuttle busses to get you to the port, and they also have an indoor park & walk option. They also have electric vehicle chargers, including Tesla destination chargers. This has become my preferred parking choice due to the great service. I am personal friends with one of the partners in this venture and they are good folks who own other local businesses. The closest indoor option is also walkable to the ship: Galveston Park N Cruise. I have used them several times and they are very nice and helpful people. You can drop your bags and family at the pier and then go park your car and walk back to the ship. You can prepay for "official" Port of Galveston parking and receive a discount. The Port of Galveston offers covered, uncovered, and garage parking. I have parked at (or driven past) all of the private lots and the "official" lot and they are all fenced and gated. Some may be a little nicer than others but I would have no hesitation using any of them. Prices vary based on distance from the ship and whether the spaces are open, covered, or indoor. They are all only a short shuttle ride to the ship and some are walkable. Many of the private lots that provide shuttles now offer a discounted rate if you "park and walk" instead of riding the shuttle. We have done this a couple of times and enjoy walking a few blocks to the ship after dropping off our bags at the pier (if it's not too hot, humid, or raining of course). 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. 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 (now for a fee) and shuttle service at their sister property, the Hotel Galvez, when you stay at least one night (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. You may be able to get a nice rate on priceline.com using the Name Your Own Price tool. There are plenty of other hotels on the Island, many along the Seawall facing the Gulf of Mexico. Some provide transportation to the port or offer park & cruise options. 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. Galveston Dining Looking for a great dining experience in Galveston? 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). Most 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. 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." NEW! 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! I tried it for lunch in January and had great food, good service, and a wonderful view of the Port of Galveston from their covered outdoor deck. 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. 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 3 pm, closed Sunday). Gourmet sandwiches, salads, soups, Panini. Vegan options. Brews Brothers Brew Pub - 2404 Strand - Huge craft beer selection, creative American bar food, and soccer matches on the televisions. Order at the bar and they bring to your table. Very casual. You wouldn't expect it for a bar, but the food here is excellent. Burgers, fresh made chips, and daily/weekly specials. Much more quiet and way better food than the establishment next door with the loud music. Shark Shack - 2402 Strand - Casual seafood and burgers with a full bar and several local beers on tap. Stuttgarden Tavern - NO LONGER RECOMMENDED DUE TO A DECLINE IN SERVICE, SANITATION, AND YELP RATINGS Taquilo's - 2101 Post Office - cool corner Tex-Mex restaurant on artsy Post Office Street. Can be crowded but they don't take reservations, so arrive early on weekends, or try them for lunch. Gumbo Bar - 2105 Post Office - New Orleans flair, Gumbo, cioppino, seafood, po' boys, huge beer selection. After dinner, have dessert across the street at Hey Mikey's Ice Cream or Mod Coffeehouse (see below). Try their outside seating for nice street views - a great place to people watch! 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. 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. 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, etc. Embarkation Experience The terminal is open at 9:30 am for check-in. We have dropped off our bags as early as 8:40 am. First you go through security (there are two lines: one for Expedited Arrival if you qualified by checking in on the Royal Caribbean app, and one line for everybody else. After going through security there is a large check-in area with several lines and agents with iPads to quickly check you in. Boarding commences around 11:00 am (depending on when the ship is ready to accept guests) starting with Pinnacle Crown and Anchor members, then working their way down to Diamond Plus, Diamond, etc. Disembarkation Experience Self-assist disembarkation has become so popular that the lines to get off the ship for self-assist are very long! You may want to relax and have breakfast in the Main Dining Room and disembark the ship in a more leisurely fashion. 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 (this also applies if importing from another state, but that's difficult for the TABC to collect). 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. We stay legal and pay the $3.25 for our single bottle if we bring one back. I do not know if they do random luggage checks. Have a nice day and welcome home! 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. Try the Cruise Cam, Pier 23 Cam, Strand Cam, Marina Cam, Emerald Cam for some cool live video.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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... 🙂
  10. https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2019/07/11/royal-caribbean-announces-165-million-upgrades-and-enhancements-allure-of-the-seas
  11. 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! 😀
  12. 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!
  13. 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...
  14. Does anyone know if a Microsoft Book 2 with dimensions 13.5 X 10 inches fit in the cabin safe?
  15. 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!
  16. 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.
  17. 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!
  18. 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?
  19. 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!
  20. 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......
  21. 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!
  22. 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!
  23. I am making no promises. I have only my iPad so not really equipped to create a full cruise blog but I will do what I can without interrupting the groove of the cruise. I’m not much of a picture-taker and I don’t even know how to post a pic so probably won’t have photos unless I can figure that out. Today was travel day. Left DC at 5:30 AM. Wow. That is early ! ...but had an uneventful flight down. The air was very unsettled so it was a bumpy and turbulent ride but we made it. Since we are both status members with American Airlines, we always fly American. From DC, American does not fly nonstop to Fort Lauderdale so your choices are, nonstop to Miami or go through Charlotte. We chose to go through Charlotte this trip so we had 2 segments, but the flights were so close together that we basically got off the first leg and hustled to the gate for #2 with no time to spare. We are staying at the Residence Inn Airport and Cruiseport. While the hotel is very nice, there is absolutely nothing nearby unless you want Wendy’s or Dunkin Donuts and even with those, you would have to cross a busy highway to get over there. They do have a shuttle bus that picked us up from the airport and will take you to a couple of nearby restaurants or Publix market at no cost but that got old quickly. I don’t think I will stay here again. Dan used points for this room so at least the price was right. They only have a complimentary happy hour Mon-Wed so nothing for us there. There is a complimentary breakfast which we will check out tomorrow morning. There is shuttle service ($8 pp) from the hotel to the port so we are scheduled to leave here at 10 AM. The Genie is expecting us at 10:30 so we may be a bit early. We’re in for the night at this point. Very excited about boarding Allure in the morning ! We were on Allure over Thanksgiving last year but not in Star Class. This will be our first time in Star Class on any ship other than Harmony. It will be interesting to compare the service on the different ships. They’re calling for rain tomorrow so it might be a wet start. Our friend Jim flew in much later this afternoon and is staying elsewhere so we will not see him until after we board tomorrow. It’s always an adventure when you vacation with one or more of the Jim twins.
  24. I have downloaded the smartphone app prior to our cruise Apr 22 and it looks good. It has menus for the dining places including the MDR. It also has prices for extra charge items both prior to sailing and onboard. Does anyone have any experience using the latest version while on board?
  25. Hello Everyone, I recently cruised on Allure of the Seas in February and filmed a video of our trip. Please take a look and let me know your thoughts! We had a wonderful time and enjoyed perfect weather sailing the Western Caribbean! Thanks, Ryan
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