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  1. We are counting down until our first star class cruise on Anthem of the Seas. We are new to Royal Caribbean; previous DCL concierge cruises so we can’t wait to experience Royal Caribbean. I really enjoy following along on as many star class blogs as I can and thought it may be fun to give it a try! So, I am Jacquie and my husband Lindsay and 14 year old son Reyd are counting down (34 days). We are from Calgary, Alberta. 🇨🇦 So what made us pick Royal Caribbean....honestly New York was on our bucket list and we love to cruise so we thought why not! Once we narrowed it down to New York, the royal genie and visit to Coco Cay helped us choose Royal Caribbean. So far the experience has been good. The one notable difference is DCL offered a dedicated team to deal with Pre Cruise needs/questions for their concierge guests 120 days out which I really liked. I haven’t been super impressed with Royal’s main customer service team but I am hopeful that the Genie will make up for any shortfalls! We received the royal genie questionnaire 45 days out followed by our luggage tags a couple days later. From what I have read I should be hearing from our genie soon. Cruise Itinerary: 8 nights with stops in Port Canaveral, Coco Cay and Nassau. Stateroom: Grand loft suite #10320 Shore Excursions: Reserved Chill Island Cabana at Coco Cay back in January. Had hoped to get an overwater cabana but opening was delayed to January 2020. 🙁 Cruise Planner: With the Royal Genie, there is not much to plan but I have ordered the unlimited photo package. Will finalize specialty dining, entertainment and on-board activities with our genie. Thinking about reserving the thermal suite but have read mixed reviews. Any feedback on Anthem’s thermal package would be appreciated! We always reserved this on DCL so will likely book it on Anthem. Flights: Flying direct from Calgary to JFK a couple days before our cruise. Pre Cruise we are staying in lower Manhattan as we want to visit the 911 Memorial. Post cruise we are staying at Central Park. I am in the process of finalizing transportation to Cruise terminal and would be interested to hear any recommendations on reliable limo companies. We do not pack light so an SUV will be needed! The Four Seasons Downtown uses Empire CLS Transportation but I am pretty sure I can arrange something for cheaper. Planning to arrive at cruise terminal around 10:30am. Royal Genie Questionnaire: Have read mixed reviews on whether the genie uses the information provided but I am keeping an open mind. We had fun completing it and have no expectations. I have attached a copy of the questionnaire for those that are interested. Royal Up : Received a Royal Up offer email about a month ago for the Royal loft suite. I put in a lower end bid and expect it to be declined which I am totally fine with. We really don’t need the additional space but the hot tub would be nice. Well I think that’s all for now. Look forward to answering any of your questions and having you follow along!
  2. I promised Sabrina that I would do this, so here goes. First: I am the worst live blogger EVER since I hate to take pix. I DO realize that long, text review/live blogs are less effective b/c nobody wants to sit and read line after line of text. I hate it myself ! So I am going to TRY and be brief-er than usual and TRY and incorporate photos, which are 2 things I am not very good at (brevity and photography). Who: Dan and I (Raye) What: S2S cruises on Brilliance and Oasis. Where: Tampa then Miami When: 24 - 30 Nov (Brilliance out of Tampa) then 1 - 8 December (Oasis out of Miami) Why: Because we can...and this will be our first S2S At home, writing this but leaving for the airport (DCA) at 2PM. Uber, cost $81.56. We have to have an XL due to luggage. Honestly, it's not that far to the airport. We live about 20 miles south of DC so it's not more than 15-17 miles to the airport. Kinda high, IMO but still cheaper than parking the car in Long Term Parking for 15 days. We will pass some time at the American Airlines Admiral's Club prior to boarding and then fly First Class to Tampa. Flight is at 5:00, arriving TPA at ~7:30PM. Will Uber from airport to the hotel (Tampa Marriott Water Street); used rewards points for the hotel. We could have used airline miles for the air but we're saving those reward points for a yet-to-be scheduled Alaska trip !! One piece of luggage still missing as it is awaiting inevitable forgotten, last-minute items. So looking forward to Brilliance. #1, we have never sailed on Brilliance before and #2, it has been many years since we sailed on a Radiance class ship. PS. I am already having fits with just 1 pic. I don't know how the rest of you do it !! More, later from the Admiral's Club !!
  3. 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!
  4. ' 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Getting this party started early because I am just way too excited! Can you tell? 😂 Here goes....
  7. 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.
  8. I just received a Royal Up bid possibility for our sailing in a few weeks. As of now we are in an Owners Suite with a minimal bid in for a 2 Bedroom Aqua (really would prefer 2 bathrooms) but nothing was available at time of booking. My question is two fold, does anyone know the stateroom numbers of the Star Loft Suites so I can see their location and your thoughts if you have stayed there? ie part balcony in proximity to the basketball court etc. The minimum bid requested is $1300.00 so even if we bid that my CC gets hit for $2600.00 if we "win" Planning on staying low key so we will be in stateroom a great deal. Your thoughts would be so appreciated, what would you do? Thanks a bunch Sailing Harmony
  9. Greetings fellow travelers! First time at blogging, first time on Ovation, first time in a Grand Loft, first time in a "star class", and I've never had a genie before, so this cruise brings lots of new and exciting adventures for me and my family! Our cruise is 9 nights, March 21-31, 2019, starting and ending in Sydney; 5 days at sea, 3 ports of call (Mystery Island, Vila, and Noumea). We are a family of four.....two exhausted middle age parents (pumpkin is 55, I'm 50) who apparently, at the age of 39, thought it would be a brilliant idea to start a family....so our twins are now 10. As a family we've done 3 previous cruises, all on RCI; we've enjoyed staying in the family suite, the owner's suite, and the grand suite. This spring break, we decided to drop the bomb on this cruise and stay in a Grand Loft Suite. We booked the cruise a few days ago. I am starting this blog early enough that I can share the details of when this "genie" reaches out to us, and how having this perk touches the pre-cruise stage. And then, of course, there will be the blow-by-blow stuff once we actually get to Sydney. I tried to do my due diligence before booking this suite, by reading all I could about Star Class, but I found there was a paucity of actual reviews and so by writing this blog, I hope to give fellow cruisers another source of information on the benefits of both the Suite, and the whole Star Class, genie thing. So I'll update this blog as things start to happen. Cheers!! Kim
  10. I have been planning a cruise with my friend and her sister since January. We are sailing on symphony of the seas October 12 2019. We were originally booked in the star loft suite 1722. An Aqua Theatre 2 bedroom opened up and we discussed how it might be beneficial for us to have the separate bedrooms for privacy and the sister would be more comfortable in a bed. I personally also love the wake view and we were interested in seeing the shows from our balcony. Now I’m reading some reviews about noise, the 17th floor having more of a “wow” feeling and that the aqua theatres are sub par to the Star loft with the view of the shows being “outside of all the action and too high up”. Can anyone give some insight on if we made the right decision?
  11. We have an upcoming cruise on Harmony in late August and are staying star class. First time on RCCL (we have sailed DCL) and first time on Western Caribbean itinerary. It’s just me and my 9 year old son. He doesn’t like the beach but loves swimming in pools. I love lying around getting served frozen drinks. We will be getting off at coco cay and at Costa maya (to zip line.). I’ve considered getting a resort day pass in Cozumel but am also considering just staying on the ship in both Cozumel and Roatan. It seems kind of silly to disembark to go somewhere to pay for food, drink and pools when we have all of that already on board. But does the ship really empty out on port days and/or if we stayed onboard for 2/4 port days will we regret it? I’m also super concerned about safety - as we will be traveling without my husband. So any advice? Is using the ship’s pools on a port day with less people and enjoying our star class perks just as good as snagging a day pass for a resort? Thanks for any advice!
  12. We have an upcoming cruise on the Harmony in star class - our first non DCL Cruise - and have lots of obc. Can obc be used for tips for Our genie, servers in specialty restaurants, and/or the casino? Also as specialty dining and coastal kitchen is included should we budget tips for servers there and if so, how much do people normally leave at specialty restaurants or at CK? Thanks for any advice!
  13. 4:45 am alarm goes off. 5:00, maybe 5:20, stumble to coffee. 5:30 am blink and look at computer to figure out where I left off the prior day with work. Oh, that alarm – yeah, that’s my damn body alarm. When you wake up early (way early) and do a ton of reading about cruise stuff, you realize that writing up your own personal experience from start to finish is a cool way to document your vacation. Reading all the blogs tends to get you excited. You start thinking, yeah, cool, I can do this. No problem. Oh yeah, it was my sister that was the English major (#InsertExplicit). That just means I hope she never finds this thing. My grammar probably isn’t that good, but it’s communicable. Countdown started a long time ago, but now we are exactly 2-weeks from boarding. Let’s push the rewind button and see how we got here. April 2016, after taking a financial break from cruising (our last cruise was 2012 #ugh) to ‘fund’ our home renovations and finish our Master’s degree, we realized it was time to take a real vacation and celebrate a few things. One of our big celebrations was wanted to take the kids, my mother-in-law (MiL) and sister-in-law (SiL) on their first ever cruise. My SiL turned 50 and my MiL turned 70 – sshhh – ok, so those are big milestones, #meh, they won’t care. We needed a cruise that would accommodate all of us for a reasonable price. Many spreadsheets later and seeing as how we would ‘split’ the MiL’s cruise fare with my SiL, we landed on the Oasis of the Seas, A1-8330 Aquatheater Suite w/ Balcony. It was the 7-night Eastern Caribbean on May 28, 2017. Oh yeah, and it was our first time to experience Star Class (SC). #Ruined While on the 2017 cruise, there was a lot of discussion about when / where / how / etc would we do the next cruise. Well, we didn’t sign up on Oasis in 2017 for the next one because we just hadn’t figured out all the logistics. Maybe I’ll try and remember to write up something about that cruise later, but for now … need to fast forward a few months to the current cruise. There were months of research, discussion, pricing and justification before we finally landed on something. Let’s play from here. In January 2018 we confirmed the cruise ship, route and room. #MonthlyPaymentsStarted During all of our researching and planning, we laid out plans for the next 6 years of cruising vacations. This includes starting plans for the kid’s graduation cruises, one in 2023 to Italy and one in 2025 to Ireland. Plus, SC cruises in 2020 and 2021. We'll probably have to skip 2022 and 2024 to accommodate a 2-week vacation / cruise in 2023 and the other in 2025. More on those later. One of our cruise goals is to try all the new ships coming out for RCL. We prefer the larger ships with all the cool activities and shows. Finding the 9-night Bermuda cruise on Anthem was an awesome find. While we are still working for #TheMan, our vacation and cruise budget limits us to about one cruise a year. We booked the Owner’s Loft Suite 8720, which falls into the Star Class. I can blame the kids for wanting to only cruise in SC now. #Damnit #BadDad Oh, and since we found the Coastal Kitchen, we are now ‘required’ to book something that gives us access. #Spoiled Planning for this cruise is pretty much a weekly discussion over the weekend mornings while drinking coffee and scanning cruise ‘stuff’. Travel arrangements We booked our flight on 12/12/18 (about 25 weeks out) on Southwest. Flight on 5/5/19 and returning on 5/15/19. Since we are in Nashville, Southwest is our preferred carrier. Over the past few years, I’ve flown for work and we have taken a couple of Vegas trips, all on Southwest. So, those points FINALLY paid off. Rather than paying close to $1200+ to fly all four of us up to Newark, NJ, we paid about $50. I cashed in all my points for me and kids. There was almost enough left to pickup my DW’s ticket (I’m guessing this acronym means Dear Wife 😊 ) so, we paid the transfer fee to have her points transferred to my account to give me enough to get her ‘freeish’ ticket. Thus the $50ish buck was for the transfer and taxes. Not bad, fly all four of us roundtrip for $50ish 😊 #KeepCasinoBudget When cruising, we always fly in the night before just to make sure if there are any travel issues there is time to deal with it before getting on the cruise. I give credit to my dad for teaching me this. I’ve been cruising since early 2000’s and have always made sure to fly in the day before. Plus, we can start our vacation a day early. My better half did a lot of research on hotels around the port Bayonne in NY. She found a nice hotel, forget what it was, but really wanted to stay in something a little nicer. We talked about the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the Hudson, but it was about $300 more for the night than what she originally booked. She really wanted to stay there because it looked really cool and is right across from the NY skyline. I felt bad because that really wasn’t in our budget. But wait, lookie what I found. We have some ‘cash-back’ rewards on one of our credit cards. Let’s us that to upgrade to the Hyatt and use our rewards to pay the difference. Done. Booked. Confirmed on March 5th. We’ll get to the hotel earlier enough that we are planning to go see the 911 Memorial and take the ferry over to the statue. Was hoping to be able to see the statue from the North Star as we left, but after a few postings and great information, that doesn’t seem to be an option. The only other pre-cruise travel stuff we did was book a spot to drop the car off. More than likely, we’ll grab us an Uber to get around everywhere else and to take us to the port on the morning of our cruise. Right now, we are planning to leave the hotel about 9:30 to give us an hour or so to make sure we are at the port and in the right spot by the Star Class to meet Yen. I’m the type of person that wants to be early to almost everything – I would rather wait than to have someone waiting for us to show up. #IsThatOCD We got our first RoyalUp email on April 26, about 6 weeks before our cruise date. This was the first time we ever received one of these. We talked about attempting to upgrade, but couldn’t justify an additional $2400 IF we sent in the lowest bid of $1200 pp. I mean, we ‘could’ have swung it but that would have taken away from our casino budget – yeah, we quickly shot it down. Now, if we could have bid maybe $500-$750/pp – that we would have considered a little more. Just to note, they would only charge us for the first two guests – so, technically, it was like upgrading with the kids sail free. Yeah, only way kids sail free is if we put them to work on the ship cleaning dishes or something. They are 12 and 14 now, so I’m SURE that would go over just peachy. Anyway, I guess we didn’t pay enough for this SC cruise so RCL was trying to get us to pay a little more. I’m not going to post what we paid but let’s just say I booked this thing about 16 months prior so I could make monthly budgeted payments. Yes – we actually have a cruise budget 😊. We did reprice a few times over the course of time that saved us a little extra. A second email to upgrade came in about 2 weeks later on 5/7/19. I guess the second one was meant for @Lovetocruise2002, since she’s never gotten one. Lol Evidently, they wanted us to upgrade to the Royal Loft Suite which looks amazing, but, hey, we are happy to stay where we are at. There weren’t any other suites included with this email. Side note. We got the RCL credit card a long time ago on one of our past cruises. Yeah, the perks aren’t as good as other cards, but we designate this card for pretty much cruise only related stuff. Over the years, we obtained some of those MyCruise Points that we were able to use for some nice OBC. #BonusCasinoFunds We get double points by putting the cruise payments on this card, which can add up to some decent OBC. Plus, it keeps our cruise finances separate from our normal daily financials. Star Class Notes Our first welcome aboard email from the SC came in on 4/13/19. What’s this, about 8ish weeks or so before our cruise. It was just a generic welcome to the royal genie program where you can fill out a questionnaire. On 5/8/19 we got our first email from Yen Lee, our genie for this cruise. We are excited to have her and have heard great things, especially from @WAAAYTOOO. Here’s a snippet from her initial email: “Once I hear back from you, I’ll reach out again to confirm all the exciting details. From this point on, any questions or requests can be sent my way. I’m looking forward to seeing you onboard soon Please allow me to provide you with directions to the STAR Class arrival area and guarantee a VIP boarding. Kindly be advised that your drop-off point at Cape Liberty Cruise Terminal will be Zone 6. There is a large purple banner, which says Star Class, at the location. Please do not get off at any other zone. Once at Zone 6, kindly identify yourself as a Star Class guest and the assigned pier staff will ensure that your luggage is loaded onto a cart and will be sent directly to the suite while you go through the check-in and security screening process. Due to the nature of the Star Class program, you would understand the services and amenities listed in this email are exclusive and limited to guests residing in these suites. We appreciate your understanding when it comes to the exclusivity of these privileges. I would like to offer you Expedited Boarding services and I would also like to give you my undivided attention. May I suggest arriving at the terminal at 10:30 AM? I have 3 Star Class Families in total and I want to personally escort you inside the Ship. “ We are not the type of family to require a ton of assistance or demands on things, as we want to do all of our own planning and organization. But when cruising SC we allow some of our obsessive planning nature to be done by our genie. After coming up with a list of ‘must-do’ activities on the boat, we sent that over to Yen to allow her to plan the best times. Being in SC does have its perks – two of the main ones we enjoy is the ability to have someone help make sure we can enjoy ALL/ANY activity on board. This is really something that the kids enjoy. The second is the up-front reserved seating for all the shows. Of course, there a lot more benefits, but we can elaborate on those later. Over the past few weeks, we have been communicating with Yen to have her send us the dinner menus for the Coastal Kitchen #teamCK and the other specialty restaurants. I have 11 PDF files of these, so might load those in a follow-up to this opening blog. These will include Izumie, Jamie’s, Chops and Wonderland. We asked for the cruise planner, but haven’t gotten it at this time. Now being two weeks out, this weekend is dedicated to cruise shopping. We all need a few new things for the cruise like some new clothing, shoes and other misc. items. Our new suitcases came in last week, so those are setup in the living room to get ready to start packing. My DW wouldn’t really allow us to start packing any earlier. We don’t have a spare bedroom for a staging area, so have to use the living room. Oh well. Cruise Planner Being in SC, we pretty much get most everything available in the CP, with the exception of the excursions and a few other items (the photo package comes to mind). We did a lot of discussion around the excursions and talked with the kids to see what they wanted to do. For the most part, they just want to swim / snorkel the entire time. Paying some of the prices for the excursions was something we had a hard time justifying. On a prior cruise, my DW and I did a kayak, hike and snorkel excursion in St. Maarten but was pretty disappointed. Paying a few hundred for that excursion didn’t help us want to pay for another one, when we could potentially just walk somewhere and snorkel or walk and tour on our own. However, in 2017, we (all 6 of us, including my 70 yr old mother in law) did the Loterie Farm Zipline. Now, that was well worth the cost. So much so, that we booked it again for this cruise. This is our only purchased excursion in the CP. They did get hit really hard by the hurricane later in 2017, but from their recent pictures looks like they have rebuilt. We are happy to support them by taking this tour again. I’m going to pause for now but will pick up later as we get a little closer. I will also be attempting to do a few live periscopes as @CruisingHobby with #rcperiscopers and will also post more here during the cruise.
  14. 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.
  15. 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?
  16. We just booked a Grand Loft Suite on Anthem and get the Star Class suite perks. What have others asked for from their Genie? I heard about bar cart service daily - is that on Anthem too? Will they stock your room with beer and hard alcohol so I don't have a long walk to get a drink?
  17. Hello I currently have booked a 1 bed room aqua theatre suite on Symphony of the seas but I just found out for the same price I can get a grand panoramic suite on Allure of the seas. I would like to experience star class but there are currently available on the date of my sailing. 1. Is there a drastic difference between the symphony of the seas and allure of the seas and which room should I choose.
  18. 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.
  19. I am going on Oasis of the Seas on May 13th and booked Star Class room 1720. Has anyone sailed in this room or cruised Star Class on Oasis and if so do you have any tips or any important information that could be useful. Thanks have a great day!
  20. Greetings all. I'm writing to you from my pre-cruise hotel listening to the dulcet tones of airbuses and boeings flying overhead as I await the arrival of the Anthem tomorrow morning. Travelling with me is my wife, 3 year old daughter and a friend of ours who has NEVER CRUISED BEFORE. We are staying in a grand loft suite (I feel she may be screwed for any subsequent cruise if she likes...) I'll do my best to post here daily but copious amounts of watered down American beer (if you can call it that) may get in the way. Feel free to ask any questions. I'll do my best to answer them. Oh. Before I forget.. The Lids store located within the Jersey Garden mall had paw patrol hats on for 50% off. I know you'll sleep better knowing that. Cheers.
  21. For those of you who have had the pleasure of experiencing the Royal Genie service, what kind of requests did you make from your Genie. What kind of requests (if any) did you have to pay extra for on top of your cruise fare? Just trying to get an idea of what to expect from a Genie and what experiences (if any) I would have to expect to receive from them for an extra cost. I don't mind paying for things, I'm just curious what I would be paying a "price" versus a "gratuity" for.
  22. This morning, when I checked the prices on my cruises, I noticed a new discount that I have never seen before. The Sky Loft (soon to be renamed Star Loft) on Harmony is showing a $1000 discount that they have called a "Star Savings". The sailing where I saw this is 17 Feb 2019 on Harmony. This is currently the only Star Class suite available for this sailing. As a rule, the Sky/Star Loft suites are priced slightly higher than the 2 BR Aqua Theater Suites but the price on the Sky Loft Suite is significantly lower than what we paid for the 2 BR ATS A1. Granted, the ATS that we have booked is a fully refundable deposit while the Sky Loft is non-refundable, but it still seems to be a good price ($13K for everything) on this suite, especially with the additional $1000 off.
  23. Guess what folks! I'm back again ready to provide another quality LIVEish. This time around I'll be on the Anthem of the Seas. This will be my first time on a Quantum class ship. For those that want to get an idea of what I'll be posting look back at my last journey on board Harmony of the Seas back in May of 2017. Also, keep an eye on Twitter/Periscope for any material not posted here. Twitter/Periscope: @CGTLH For those that made it this far, I'll be reaching for the "Star"s on this voyage.
  24. Title says it all. I'm on the Harmony in pretty much 2 sleeps. My first time in a Star Class suite. I'll do my best to take pictures of the daily literature they drop off. If you have any questions, let me know..I'll do my best to check in daily.After that, I'll compile a lengthy review.
  25. A group of friends and I just booked the Royal Loft Suite on Anthem for a 9-night Bermuda and Caribbean sailing next summer! I just had to share my excitement with someone(s)!!! Has anyone stayed in this suite before? Any tips? Tricks? Creative requests for the Genie??
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