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  1. I literally can't take it... 45 days out and I can barely wait to have our first Star Class experience. I know, I know, 45 days - why blog now? Why so early? I have to vent some of this energy, and I've seen some other blogs start a smidge early which has assuaged my angst about jumping the gun! I'm inspired by some great writers on this blog (fellow Canadians included!), so thank you for some great reviews providing inspiration. A little about our crew. Hailing from beautiful (albeit very wet lately) Vancouver, BC it'll be me (Alison), my DH and 2 boys (ages 9 and 11). We've been on 7 cruises to date, most recently in a 2BR Grand Suite on a 9 night Anthem Bermuda/Caribbean out of NJ, a 1BR Grand suite on Oasis 7 night Eastern Caribbean, and a Boardwalk Balcony also on Oasis 7 night Eastern Caribbean. We booked this cruise December 2018 wile on Oasis... but it wasn't in a star class - that came about 7 months later. We are sailing with one of my best friends and her two boys (ages 6 and 12). They've never been on a cruise and I cannot wait to "sea" and Oasis-class ship for the first time again through their eyes. Plus they get star class on their first experience - it's doing to be a doozie! We initially booked this cruise in a CLS last December when we were on Oasis for our family. We then convinced our friends to come along and they booked an ocean view balcony about a month later. We had a bit of trepidation about travelling with peeps who weren't in a suite as the suite lounge and CK are both a big part of our cruises when we're in a suite. Afternoon reading and drinks in the suite lounge is a real treat for us and we love it. Fast forward to July of 2019 and DH noticed a 2BR Aquatheatre suite is available on the website. It was right after the itinerary change was announced (lost St. Kitts to San Juan - mega bummer) - so we inquired with our travel agent. There was a definite price increase, but when weighed against all the Star benefits we decided to bite the bullet and we merged everyone into one room. None of the kids know - and it's been the hardest secret to keep. I have said to my boys a few times "wouldn't it be fun if we were all in the same room - maybe we can have the other boys over for a sleepover one night... too bad they're not on the same deck as us... etc." I can't wait to board and all go to the same room - hopefully they're half as excited as I am. We've also had angst about travelling Dec 8 rather than waiting for the Christmas school break. Not because we are worried about them missing a week of school (I know - we're terrible parents!), but because both boys play hockey and my youngest son is the sole goalie on his team. Ugh. We obviously didn't know he'd be the lone "tender" on his team when we booked or we may not have, but c'est la vie. Luckily I'm co-managing the team and will attempt to reschedule any games for before we go or after we get back. My husband also plays on a senior men's team as their lone goaltender - so hopefully we can find backups or reschedule games for him too. Having said that, I will be ready for a break come December, it's been a literal gong show this season managing three players and getting everyone to games, practices, and development sessions, and we're only a month in! Feeling like I've let some energy go ... will update as the nerves and excitement to build.
  2. Looking forward to live Blogging my first RC cruise on Harmony next week. Countdown has now reached 7 days. Now if this week of work would just fly by.
  3. Far too early in the morning on July 4th of this year, I was checking prices on cruises. Prices tend to drop when kids go back to school, so I searched for cruises out of Florida between the Friday after Labor Day and the end of September. One of the best rates that came up was a 4-night cruise on Mariner of the Seas out of Port Miami. I’ve followed the news on Mariner’s renovation and the other ships receiving upgrades as part of the Royal Amplified initiative. Seeing what Royal Caribbean had planned, I thought this could be a ship for me. My other requirement was getting a real bargain on the fare. It looked like I would be sailing solo, and I resigned myself to paying a 200% single supplement — that is, covering the price of double occupancy even if only one person sailed. In the case only one person sails, Royal Caribbean collects taxes and fees for only one person. To make sure I was seeing this rate, I would select 1 passenger when pricing out a sailing. Usually, I’d see the base fare for one person at the same as when priced for two people, but one time… I didn’t. The price was much lower. I found a rare solo cruiser cabin and there was no single supplement at all. I’m a big proponent of travel agents, but 4am on July 4th is not quite the time to get someone on the phone. I decided I needed to book this cruise directly through the Royal Caribbean site or else someone else would. My Crown & Anchor account already had my contact information, so all I had to enter was my credit card. Well, that didn’t work for some reason. After a couple of other hiccups, I decided to call a Royal Caribbean agent. This turned out to be the right move. A really friendly guy saw that the cabin I wanted had a reservation lock from a purchase in progress. I chuckled and told him that was probably me. I gave him the email address on my Crown & Anchor membership and he was able to confirm my contact information. He put me on hold for a little under a minute to talk to someone who could release the reservation lock and allow him to complete the booking over the phone. Before this time when I needed to book at 4am on July 4th, I had worked with the same travel agent on all but my first cruise. When you find a travel agent who is a good match for you, there are benefits. Over time, your agent will get to know your cruising preferences. At the same time, I’m glad to know that when I needed them at an odd hour, there was a Royal Caribbean agent there to help me make the booking I wanted. In my case, I was after final payment date, but if I hadn’t been, and I had not yet paid for the cruise in full, I would have been able to transfer the booking to my usual travel agent. I’ve noticed my Crown & Anchor membership already saved me time twice making this reservation. It occurs to me that even though we affectionately tease the Pre-Gold membership, in my case, even being Pre-Gold would have saved me time when I was on the phone with the Royal Caribbean agent. If you’ve taken a Royal Caribbean cruise and you haven’t signed up for a Crown & Anchor membership, it’s an easy recommendation. I can’t think of any downside. You might get a gift in the room. You’ll get some onboard offers loaded onto your Sea Pass card the next time you sail. I guess I’m also saying if you’re reading this blog because you think you might take a Royal Caribbean cruise, but you haven’t booked yet, go ahead and sign up for a Pre-Gold membership. (All of this is free.) You might find the emails to be another source of Royal Caribbean news. Celebrity Constellation and Disney Magic, both medium-size ships, have been my favorite experiences so far. When I cruised solo this past December, I was on the mega-ship Norwegian Epic. I’m curious to see how those two experiences come together cruising solo on the medium-size Mariner of the Seas. If you’d like, you can read my liveblog from the Norwegian Epic sailing. Follow along as I liveblog here this week. That drink package was paired with streaming internet access, so I’ll also be on Periscope. If staying connected is important t you I recommend checking out the below posts: Keeping in Touch on Ship and Shore & How to Stay in Touch with Someone on Your Royal Caribbean Cruise You can follow me @cruisehabitric and while you’re at it, follow the main account @cruisehabit where Billy covers sail-aways from Port Everglades and Port Miami. Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to track down some answers. I’ll be on Mariner of the Seas to Nassau and Coco Cay with one sea day starting Monday, September 17th.
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