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  1. I have been reading all of the live blogs others are doing of their Star Class cruise and thought about attempting one, however, I didn’t want to be constantly on my phone blogging about the day’s events or answering questions so mine is going to be an “after the fact” blog! I am certainly not witty and it likely won’t be as funny or entertaining as others but hope to provide some information for anyone else looking for it. I will space the posts out so if people have specific questions I can answer them along the way. I am also currently going through all of my photos so future posts will hopefully have less content and more pictures! Booking We booked this cruise over a year ago. We always try to book early to secure a location we wanted and my SIL asked if we wanted to try Star class this trip since we are celebrating big anniversaries. The prices of the rooms weren’t that bad on Anthem compared to some of the other ships sailing in March. We booked and then sometime over the summer, my BIL’s parents and nieces decided to join us and they snagged the last Star Class suite on Deck 10. My Husband, his cousin and myself stayed in GLS 10324, my SIL, BIL and niece were in GLS 10724 and my BIL’s parents and their 2 grand kids were in GLS 10720. Prior to the Cruise About a month out we received the generic questionnaire about any special requests, who we would be cruising with and some other random questions. We were sailing with 10 of us in total in 3 Grand Loft Suites on Deck 10 and requested that we have the same Genie. We also requested what we wanted stocked in our room for drinks and snacks. A little over two weeks before the cruise, our Genie, Yen Lee reached out to us introducing herself. From what I have read about Yen, she will make anything we want happen but we shouldn’t expect any real surprises. That was completely fine with me because I am not one who likes surprises….I used to open my Christmas presents before Christmas and re-wrap them all again! We provided her a spreadsheet of where we wanted reservations for dinner for 4 of the nights and a list of what other things we wanted to do (iFly, Flow Rider, Cupcake Decorating, Rock Climbing, Galley/Bridge/Theater tours, North Star, etc.). We also asked that the two cabanas we had booked at Chill Island on Cococay be next to one another in the front row (specifically Cabana #4 and #5). After some back and forth emails between Yen, my SIL and myself, we got a final schedule around 5 days out with everything we wanted scheduled. She indicated she appreciated the spreadsheet as it made it easier for her to make our final schedule for the week. This is what she sent to us: One thing we had really wanted was to have a lunch set up in one of the suites on embarkation day to avoid all of the crowds. We know we could have eaten at Coastal Kitchen or any of the specialty restaurants but wanted something in our room. Within 24 hours Yen replied with menus we could order off of (Jaime’s and Chops) along with letting us know we could also order pizza. I have heard a lot of people were told they couldn’t set up lunch in the room on embarkation day but because we were her only suites, I think it made it easier for her to accommodate us.
  2. UPDATED 13 June 2020 At the request of Royal Caribbean, the Port of Galveston has agreed to delay the construction of Cruise Terminal 3 by one year. This allows Royal Caribbean to conserve cash due to the Coronavirus situation. Allure of the Seas was scheduled to sail from Galveston beginning 10 Nov 2021 but will move to Fort Lauderdale instead. Liberty of the Seas will remain in Galveston for the foreseeable future. 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 because Carnival will expand its Galveston fleet to four full-time ships in 2021. Cruise ships calling Galveston their home port include: Liberty of the Seas - 154,407 GT - 3,648 Passengers - 7 night sailings (Amplification postponed to a future date) Enchantment of the Seas - 82,910 GT - 2,284 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Repositions to San Juan Nov 2020) 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) Adventure of the Seas - 137,276 GT - 3,114 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 16 Nov 2020. Repositions to Copenhagen 21 Apr 2021. Returns to Galveston 13 Nov 2021.) Explorer of the Seas - 137,308 GT - 3,286 Passengers - 4-5 night sailings (Arrives 5 May 2021. Repositions to Miami 25 Oct 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 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, stay to the 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 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 and plenty of electric vehicle chargers. 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 (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. You may be able to get a nice rate on priceline.com using the Name Your Own Price tool (select "Galveston East - Harbor" and choose 4-Stars... there's only one hotel and you can name your own price until you get an acceptable offer). 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. 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." 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! 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 3 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. NEW! Texas Tail Distillery - 4116 Seawall - On-site distillery for whiskey, moonshine, 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! No food on site, but they will order tacos from the highly-rated Mr. Taco next door. The building has no curb appeal but the inside is nicely finished out. 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. NEW! 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 The terminal is open at 9:30 am for check-in. We have dropped off our bags with the porters as early as 8:40 am. First you go through security (there are two lines: one for suites and upper level Crown & Anchor members, and one line for everybody else. After going through security there is a large check-in area with plenty of lines and agents with iPads to quickly check you in. The waiting area includes clearly marked areas by Crown & Anchor status level. 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. 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. Try the Cruise Cam, Pier 23 Cam, Strand Cam, Marina Cam, Emerald Cam for some cool live video.
  3. Not a live blog but posting details of our Anthem of the Seas Star class experience under live blog section of the website. Come check it out if you have any questions about the ship or Star class on Anthem. I will be posting all 7 days of our experience! I figure in these times of no cruises some fun pictures will be an enjoyable distraction!
  4. We’re looking at cruises for 2021 and are considering a cruise on Anthem of the Seas. My son will be 2 1/2 on the sailing we’re looking at and may or may not be fully potty trained yet. I was curious how the H20 zone on Anthem compares with the Splash Away Bay baby zone. Also does anyone know if they have a play place where you can go with your toddler and let them run around and play? If there are any other things that would be good with a toddler on a cruise I’d love to hear suggestions. Thanks!
  5. Our first star class cruise on Anthem of the Seas is approaching quickly. Today marks 50 days to go. We completed our genie survey this morning. This will be our first time as a family on Royal Caribbean (the husband previously sailed as a child on RCI). We have sailed on DCL concierge twice, both times on the Magic, once in the Walt Suite. The rising prices of DCL concierge had caused me to look into other options, and it seems that the amenities provided to star class cruisers on RCI are far beyond what is offered on DCL… and for a better price! Our suite will include myself, the husband, and our 8 yr old son (who will be celebrating his 9th birthday onboard). My parents will also be joining us on the cruise, but will be in a separate cabin. Cruise Itinerary: 11 night Southern Caribbean (Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Kitts) from Cape Liberty, NJ on 1/27/2020. Stateroom: Owner’s Loft #8720 Shore Excursions: St. Maarten Beach Rendezvous. Catamaran Sail, Snorkel, and Beach Cruise in Antigua. 4x4 Island Safari & Beach in St. Kitts. All were booked online on the cruise planner with Royal Caribbean. Transportation: We are fortunate to live approximately 2 1/2 hours from the port, therefore will be arranging transportation for the entire family through Delaware Express. We have used them many times for airport transportation, and have found them to be very reliable. Bonus: We didn’t realize this when we booked the cruise, but the Super Bowl will be happening while we are onboard. Looking forward to finding out who our genie will be!
  6. So here goes. I am a planner by nature and not being able to plan everything myself is driving me crazy! I am going to trust the process and "attempt" to go with the flow but am hoping to get some more information. We cruise in a little over a month and I have read tons of blogs and searched the internet but I still have a few questions/clarifications: 1. If I send a schedule of dinner each night, along with other things we want to do/already have reserved, will the genie follow that or will they move things around? My concern is that the times we want to dine there won't be tables available for our group (10 people in 3 Star Class Suites) since we didn't book in advance and therefore, we won't get to eat where I want on the day I want. 2. I have heard Anthem tends to not allow lunch to be served in the suite on embarkation day. We can live with that but will they do snacks/appetizers for sail away at 3 PM that day? I have heard people say that if the restaurant isn't open that you want the food from then you can't. We were thinking of getting some sushi, tempura and spring rolls from Izumi. Alternatively, Brass and Bock is open so we could get appetizers delivered from there. 3. I know the Genie doesn't stock the room with wine but could they deliver a few glasses of wine or leave some gin in a glass to make gin and tonics? 4. With our total of 10 of us in 3 star class suites, we have asked for one genie thinking it would be less work for that genie since we will be doing mostly everything together. Does that make sense to others or would having (potentially) different genies be better? 5. Besides the few snacks we asked to be stocked in our room, I do want some snacks delivered to the room (sometimes) but I don't want wasted food. I was thinking of putting on my schedule I will be sending to the genie what days we wanted snacks delivered. Is that what others do? 6. Tipping at specialty restaurants. I know we aren't paying for any of the specialty restaurants but I usually tip $15-$20 for the two of us when we have gone to them on past cruises. There will be 10 of us at most meals so what is reasonable? Follow the same guideline we typically do? What about at breakfast or lunch at CK? Does anyone have any guidelines that are reasonable? Not trying to be cheap but we splurged for our 20th anniversary on this cruise and I want an idea of how much extra cash I need. 7. When we do in-suite dining (we want to order chops one night), do we just get in contact with our genie and tell them what we want and what time? Is that the same for ordering breakfast in the room too? 8. I know everyone tips their Genie differently and I have googled, Facebook stalked and searched and I still have no idea! It seems some people do $100 pp/day (which would be $2100 which is 40% of what we paid for our room so that is not happening)! I only foresee our Genie scheduling dinners for us and handling in-suite dining if we want. We already booked all excursions and shows. I was hoping $700 for the week was reasonable (the other two rooms would likely tip them the same so $2100 from the 3 rooms in total - I know I would be happy if I made $2100 in cash for a week!!). 9. I know we have to go to the Star Class Zone 6 drop off area. I was a little confused as to what to do when we get there. I know I don't give the bags to the pier porters so is there someone at the star class banner that will tell me who to give them to or should I go inside with them? Thank you in advance for any other tips or tricks to make this the most amazing trip ever!!! I know there are some experienced Star Class cruisers here so I look forward to hearing from the experts!
  7. Well, it's been almost a week now that we've been back from our B2B Star Class cruises on Anthem so if I'm going to do this blog I'd better do it while I can still remember stuff (#oldbrain).... Some of you may have noticed that I tend to be a bit "wordy" <cough, cough> so I'm going to try and keep my posts short(er). Unfortunately, I am the anti-Twangster so I have NO photos at all. That's just the way I roll....so not only will this blog be on the wordy side, but it will be bereft of photos - hince, the shorter, more readable options, hopefully.
  8. Have you used the Key on a recent Anthem sailing? What was your experience? I purchased it for two of us at $25.99. DH loves adventure and hates crowds and waiting, so I thought it would be worthwhile. Now we have a potential to Royal Up to a Junior Suite for about the same amount. That suite perks would eliminate some of the crowd factor (dinner at Coastal Kitchen, Suite seating at shows, etc.) Trying to decide if I should cancel the Key and try to Royal Up. Any thoughts?
  9. ' I'm doing the Single Digit dance now, baby, and we all know that's when the pregaming starts. 🤣 Hello! And welcome to Dipping our Toes in Royal Waters, Part Deux. Part Deux, you ask? Where is Part Un?! Briefly, Part Un was in August 2008, aboard Mariner of the Seas. We were in a Grand suite. We didn’t know why we booked a suite; there was no priority anything and practically no suite perks because the number of eligible Crown & Anchor members on that sailing who had the same access to the lounges completely overwhelmed the services and offerings as well as the concierge team. Not that I begrudge anyone their loyalty benefits but combining loyalty perks and suite perks into one pool just meant completely watered-down benefits for everyone. Lines were everywhere. Free drink? Wait in line. Want a seat in the lounge to eat your appies? Wait for a seat to open. Need something from the concierge? Carve about an hour out of your day to get help. It took me practically that long to ask the concierge to book us the single thing we wanted (Ice Show tickets). I should’ve just gone to Guest Services or wherever, but I was chatting with people in line. For forking out suite $$, it was completely unremarkable and unimpressive in every other way I won’t bore you further with here. (This is a fan site after all!) However, due to that completely lackluster cruise, we haven’t sailed with Royal since. In the interim, we became Platinum Plus on Norwegian (all Haven or suites), Platinum on Disney (all Concierge), and 3* Mariners on Holland America (all Neptune Suites). I don’t like to say we’re suite snobs, but rather we have “Super FOMO.” Fear of Missing Out. What is not available to us if we don’t book a suite?! What will we be missing out on?! Not that we are “do it all” peeps. But we like to know we can, if we want to. Most of the time we don’t want to, but what if we do? (This makes sense in my head.) Plus, the secret to a happy, successful marriage? Separate bathrooms. We don't share a bathroom at home. If we can help it, we don't like to share while on vacation either; hence our suite life propensity. Fast forward to mid-March 2019 when our original vacation plans fell through while still being locked in to a specific vacation week at work. We scrambled to find a substitute vacay. What to do, where to go? WHAT. TO. DO??! (Heaven forbid we stay home and work on the house. YOLO, baby!) We of course checked the Norwegian Escape Haven first (one of our faves). This ship is approximately the same size as Anthem of the Seas, departs from NYC, and spends 2 overnights in Bermuda. In other words, about as apples-to-apples on paper as you can get. The lowest priced (and rather small in comparison) Haven room was 2K$ more than SC on the Anthem. I’m crazy, but not that crazy. The Anthem for the same week had a single SC room left for the week we needed: one Grand Loft suite. I called my TA who immediately held the suite for me for 24-hours while the hubs and I chatted over our new last-minute vacation plans. Spoiler alert: we did not need 24 hours to decide. Stateroom nerd warning: before jumping any guns, I needed to know if we were going to be stuck with everyone’s last choice room. My crack whip research showed that Anthem 10324 is a great room and has no negative factors. In fact, we thought we were totally lucky to get it (last minute cancellation perhaps?). A quick review of Star Class Service Perks (which was the real game changer), and I was sold. It took the hubs a couple more hours to come around. But come around he did. Mariner OTS, bygones are bygones. We’re ready to come back to Royal! Let’s do this! Juicy Deets: Me (SweetPea) and the Hubs (Batman) sailing on the Anthem of the Seas, 4/27, Grand Loft Suite 10324 (SC), departing Cape Liberty, NJ for an overnight in Bermuda and then up to Boston for a full day before heading back to the armpit of my great state on 5/4. (NJ born & bred here. I’m allowed to say this. My accent only comes out when I’m annoyed, thankfully, though CA born & bred Batman argues differently. However, it’s not an accent; we all know Newark, NJ is pronounced “Nork.” End of. Do not argue this with me. I’m 100% right.) So, if you’ve indulged me this long (and God bless you for that), stick around for my quasi-live review from a born-again Royal to see if it measures up to our usual haunting grounds. Will it? I can hardly wait to see myself! Hopefully, I don’t get frustrated blogging from my phone (I'm not finding uploading and captioning pics here and inserting them between text intuitive at all. Any hints are appreciated. Not having any "preview post" functionality isn't helping me either. 🤪) If i figure it out, be forewarned: there may be an episode or five of PUI. For those unfamiliar with that term, that is Posting Under the Influence [of the drink package] … I should probably test the edit/delete functions of this message board first. After all, #TeamSuperFOMO’s motto is “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Who knows, at the rate I'm not figuring this out, you may just get random pictures with separate posts of me trying to explain them to you later. Out of order. What fun! Up next: submitting your DNA test results, current blood pressure and cholesterol levels, your Superhero and Soap Opera names, and the last time you cried at a movie to your Genie. And why you should never let Batman submit said Genie survey on your behalf. Stay tuned.
  10. It looks like Anthem of the Seas gets back into Southampton the 24th of April 2020, and doesn't sail again until the 15th of May 2020. Is it normal for a ship to take 3 weeks between sailing after a repositioning cruise? Just curious, I'm on the May 15th sailing and can only assume it takes 3 weeks to change over drink menus, crew, native UK supplies, and possibly quick refurb/maintenance/? Anybody have insight or opinion?
  11. Cruising with Greatness – Anthem Group Cruise – July 4-13, 2019 Anthem of the Seas the Reboot (aka Anthem, The Lite Edition). For those of you who have been around for a while, you know that we cruised Anthem back in 2018. For a more in-depth blog of Anthem, check out my blog from March 2018. This is going to be the “Lite Edition” for several reasons. I wasn’t even going to blog this cruise as I am not sure how much more I can add to it that would be different from my previous one or the ones that @twangster, @JLMoran, @SweetPea, or @TheHobbys have done. And…it’s my first Group Cruise! I might be just a tad busier than usual. However, the conclusion that I came to is that it would be irresponsible and inconsiderate of me to not blog it because it was the blogs and scopes from last year’s Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska GC that finally pushed me into booking this one. Again, the best part of live blogs is learning from each other and to pay it forward. Let’s back up the story a bit on how this cruise came about for us. I saw this GC as soon as @Matt announced it back in the Fall of 2017. The itinerary stood out right away for me as it was 9-night sailing that goes to Bermuda (we have never been). To make it even better, the dates for this GC landed on dates that were actually doable for me. However, during that time, I was more focused on securing my Symphony July 2019 booking and with both cruises in July, only weeks apart, I decided it wasn’t going to be possible for Anthem. In March 2018, we sailed Anthem, and I had very mixed feelings on that sailing with the ship itself. I usually enjoy most cruises we go on, but Anthem did not sit well with me. You can see my initial thoughts of Anthem in my previous Anthem blog. Fast forward to June 2018, the RC Blog gang went to Alaska, and it looked like so much fun that I truly wanted to try out a GC myself. Many of you know that I am teacher and my vacation dates are not flexible. To have the Anthem GC fall over our summer break was an opportunity that I felt I could not let pass. Booking this cruise was essentially embracing the true YOLO spirit. As far as our (I mean Hubby’s) bank account goes, booking this one and Symphony to sail in the same month was not wise and made for a very expensive April! On the bright side, this is going to be our shortest dry dock ever between cruises! This is the cruise that we probably should not have booked but could not turn it down for the reasons already listed and the best reason of all…Who can possibly turn down an opportunity to meet “Mr. YOLO Book It!” himself? True Greatness? Our Fearless Leader? Obviously not us! So here it goes…
  12. Hi everyone! First time poster but I've found everyone here so helpful! I have a question regarding the standard balcony cabins on Anthem of the Seas. I booked two connecting 6D balcony rooms on the Anthem for a Nov. sailing this year. We're a family of 4 with two littles under 5 and I got what was a great deal at the time on two rooms for the price of 1. However, with the current WOW sale and KSF, I can save a little over $1,000 if I give up a room and switch us all to just one regular balcony room instead of the two adjoined rooms. So my question is - would you do it if you were in my shoes? I guess I'd love opinions from veteran sailers since this will be our first ever cruise. Is one balcony room with two littles (one who will be in a pack n play) doable? $1000 is a good chunk of change we could save but I don't know how cramped we might all possibly be in just one room. The thought of a double balcony and two bathrooms is amazing but not for $1000 😩 . And apparently KSF doesn't work on two connecting rooms as the TA told me it would only apply to kids who stay with parents in a single room.
  13. Our first SC experience was in 2017 on the Oasis. I'm working up a small blog about our experience, so more to come on that. Our genie 'Allen' was amazing! Now, in 2019 we are going for our second SC experience on Anthem. This question comes more as to what we can bring as a thank-you gift. We did leave a really nice tip, but want to take it a bit further and bring something unique or cool. I feel bad that we didn't really have anything to give Allen in 2017, especially since on the last day he had gotten all of us a little nice gift. For me, a really nice new wallet - which I'm still using today. What, if anything, have other cruisers in the SC brought as a thank-you gift for their genies? What about thoughts on a price range of the gift?
  14. Is anyone going to be on this cruise? Im super excited. This will be our 9th cruise on RCL, 2nd time on the Anthem and 1st time to Bermuda which leaves May 4,2019. Did anyone win their bids for the Royal Up?
  15. We are going on the Anthem on May 4th. We received our royal upgrade offer to bid. Has anyone bid on an upgraded room? How much did you bid on the junior suite and was your bid accepted? Did you bid on any other rooms and if so, how much did you bid?
  16. We're going to be sailing on Anthem for the first time Nov 16-23, 2019. We are trying to connect with other folks on this same cruise. Anyone have any suggestions on how we can connect with other folks on our specific cruise? On our Dec 2018 cruise on Allure (1st time), we had created a Facebook group for the Allure sailing. We meet hundreds of new folks, we were able to arrange a cabin crawl for a group of people on our FB page, and made some life long friends. We're hoping to do the same on our Anthem cruise. Is anyone on the Anthem November 16, 2019 cruise? If you're on our cruise and want to join our FB group, cabin crawl, etc, our Facebook group name is Anthem of the Seas November 16, 2019 (no hyphen in the name). Hope to meet lots of new folks!
  17. I have been hearing lots of rumors and speculation about this, but wanted to know what you have heard. What are your opinions about which ship will prospectively replace Anthem of the Seas in Bayonne, NJ when she sails to the UK in 2020?
  18. Hi everyone, Just a question about using your sea pass to keep the power on in your stateroom. What is the consensus whether to leave the power on or remove the sea pass when leaving the stateroom? I'm not sure what to do. This is my first cruise with Royal. Thanks for any advise. Stuart
  19. My Cruise will be on November 17 - November 25 with Anthem of the Seas. I booked late so I cannot reserve i-fly and North star and also no dining package available to reserve online because of a holiday sailing. My questions are 1. Does Royal IQ apps work right away once I get onboard? So I can reserve i-fly and North Star. 2. Better to wait in line at Beleros to reserve i-fly and North Star or use Royal IQ apps. 3. Does any dining package offer during a holiday sailing? 4. For anyone that did yoga classes. Do they good and worth the money? I might have more question later but these what I can think of for now. Any suggestion for sailing Anthem OTC welcome because it is the first time I will be on her. TY in advance
  20. Hi everyone. My wife and I are going on the November 25th cruise to the Caribbean on Anthem and she has a question about the pool chairs. She has arthritis and has a hard time getting up from low chairs. Do they have regular sitting chairs rather than the lounge chairs? From any pictures I've seen all I see are lounge chairs. I also have a question about using the towels for shore excursions. I know you can get towels but is there a time limit to return before they charge you the $25.00. Can I keep them for as long as I need them so long as I return them within the same day? Thank you for any advise you can give me. Stuart
  21. Is Luggage Valet available at Cape Liberty to Newark airport? Seems like a great benefit that we have been unable to use so far since we are Florida Residents and drive to Florida ports.
  22. This thread is intended to be a Thank You to Michelle C. from MEI for her extraordinary work in making a dream come true for us ! If I haven't made it clear before, let me reassert now, that a good Travel Agent can make things happen that you just never thought you would be able to do ! These 2 cruises on Anthem, Feb 15-23 and Feb 23-3 March 2019 began as lowly inside stateroom casino comped rooms. All we would have had to pay was the taxes and gratuities and we could have been on our way for 16 days for nearly -0- cost. But Michelle immediately upgraded these inside rooms to balcony rooms for us for a very nominal amount (less than $100 each). She was able to find us a nice location on deck 12 where we could have the same room on both cruises, which is a nice touch...no need to change rooms. They remained that way for some weeks...until I asked Michelle to check and find out how much an upgrade to a JS would be for the first half of the B2B. She came back with a very reasonable upgrade charge, so we upgraded the first cruise to a JS on deck 13 and remained in the original balcony room for the second half of the B2B. Then one day I noticed that a Grand Loft Suite (GLS) had popped up on the first half of the cruise (there had been no Star Class suites available on either of these cruises when we first booked). Thinking that there was no WAY we could afford to upgrade AGAIN, AGAIN I asked Michelle to just call and ask. At this time I was on a biz trip (I think I was in Reno at the time !) so even with the time difference, she was so helpful. Sure enough, the price was very attractive, so I pulled the trigger and had her upgrade the first cruise from the JS to the GLS. YIPPEE !!! I was now going to be Star Class for the first half of the B2B. I was in heaven ! ...and wouldn't you know it...shortly after that, another GLS became available on the second half of the B2B and she once again worked her magic and we snagged that one, too !! ...both of these B2B Star Class cruises together were about half the cost of 1 SC cruise by itself ! They are different suites, so we will have to move from deck 8 to deck 10 on the turnaround but I'm hoping that we can keep the same Genie. I have no idea how something like that works. It will be our first B2B and now both of them will be in Star Class. Can it get any better than this ? While Michelle was certainly instrumental in getting all of this accomplished for us, I have to also give credit to the Club Royale people with whom she worked. ...but Michelle was dogged in her pursuit of this dream on our behalf. If she didn't like the price that one agent gave her, she would call back again and again until she got the price she thought we should get...until it was all done. I know I wore her out with all of the calling and rebooking that she was doing. But once again, she has come through for us and I am so very grateful. Great job, Michelle. Thank you !
  23. As of a few minutes ago, there is still a remarkable price glitch on the second of our B2B cruises on Anthem in Feb. 2019. The cruise for 23 Feb - 3 March (8 day) is showing the same inside price for inside, OV and OV balcony rooms - $918. Michelle (the miracle worker) managed to get our cruise repriced at this rate for only $40 TOTAL....so we were able to go from an inside room to an OV balcony for $40. This room was already a casino comp so this upgrade was incredible for us ! Even though the first half of the B2B did not have this price glitch, I went ahead and had her upgrade that one too so that we could stay in the same room for both parts of the B2B. Also, since this was a casino comp, we will now get cruise points for both segments. If we had remained in the "free" inside room, we would not have received any cruise points (casino comp rule) but by upgrading, we will. So...if anyone is already on this cruise and wants to upgrade from an inside or OV room to a balcony for next to nothing, I recommend you call or have your TA call immediately. I suspect this price is a glitch and when they catch it, it will be gone forever. Even if you are already in an OV balcony you should be able to have the price adjusted as long as it's showing this low price. See, sometimes Royal Caribbean's IT incompetence pays off !!
  24. OK, this is bugging me. I've been watching the winter "Southern" (c'mon Royal, no ABC islands = Eastern) Caribbean trips on Anthem since early last year, and I noticed something very small but odd: For 2018, all the offerings were 12 nights, 6 port stops For 2019, all the offerings are still 12 nights, 6 port stops But in 2020, this cruise is suddenly 11 nights and only 5 port stops Seems they took a day in Barbados off the itinerary for 2020. Anyone have any ideas why? I'm still seriously eyeing this trip as a 2020 50th birthday option (mainly because I have to seriously scale back the budget for that trip, and this is the only real option that will fit that bill), but why on earth would they randomly take Barbados off the port list? Especially when it was a solid two years until sailing at the time these were announced? I did a search and confirmed that Barbados completely escaped all of last year's hurricanes, so there's no damage to the island to recover from. I can't imagine the port there has changed as far as being able to accommodate Anthem; was it a tender port, and Anthem is no longer doing tenders? Web searches aren't showing anything, either as far as other news or announcements around Royal Caribbean and Barbados. I'm totally stumped over this, seems utterly random and I've never heard of Barbados being a bad place to visit by any measure. Why would Royal do this? Having that extra island in the list would have meant that taking this cruise would give me 3 new islands (Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados) plus 3 repeats (San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts), which would be really nice. Now it'll be 3 repeats (only two of which I actually want) and only 2 new places.
  25. Hi everyone! My husband and I are trying to decide which cruise to take this summer (July) and would love any help in the decision. The three choices: 1) Anthem OTS- 9 night Bermuda- only 1 day in Bermuda, then off to San Juan, St. Marteen, and Labadee. 2) Grandeur OTS- 9 night Bermuda- overnight in Bermuda, then off to Nassau and Cococay 3) Freedom OTS- 7 night Southern Caribbean- St. Marteen, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Johns, and Barbados. Other information: * We love Anthem, but will be doing the Bahamas itinerary in just a few weeks in April. *We haven't been to Bermuda or St. Lucia and both are appealing to us to visit. *I am not sure if we would regret not having more time in Bermuda on Grandeur if we went on Anthem. *I'm not sure if the Southern Caribbean itinerary will be unbearable weatherwise. We did Greece last year and Italy the year before and survived :) The Freedom itinerary has the most adventure of them all. *We are diamond members, but would likely be staying in a balcony for anthem and possible grandeur and a suite for Freedom. As you can see, I am quite conflicted! Any recommendations or feedback would be great. THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! :)
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