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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

 

 

 

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YIPPEE !!!  Following with enthusiasm.

I am very interested to see how the Star Class service differs on your side of the ocean from our side of the ocean.

Congratulations on all of your big "firsts" !  We will be in a Grand Loft on Anthem in 15 days (also a first for us) !  Actually, we'll be in 2 GLS as this is a B2B cruise in 2 different GLS.

I'm surprised to hear that you could get a Star Class cruise at this point.  Has it been available all along or did it just pop up recently ???

Looking forward to all of the details.  I heard from my Genie exactly 30 days prior to our sailing.  I would expect about the same for you.

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Long story long, we just sold our boat last week, which freed up some cash for a spring break vacation.  We initially put a hold on a Grand Suite (last one left on the ship; deck 6) on this same cruise, but by happenchance I read somewhere that the balcony had a partially obstructed view, which probably explains why it was still in the inventory.  We then revisited the previously discarded idea of booking an Owner's Suite, but by the time we did that, all the OS's were gone.  Anyways, when I found out that RCI had changed up their Conceirge Class program over to this 3-tiered Royal Suites program, I started doing some reading about it, and then a Genie appeared and well, the rest, as they say, is history. 

We got the last Grand Loft Suite on the ship, (10324) which is completely aft - our balcony overlooks the ship's wake.  <insert swoon here>

I believe there are only four GL's on Ovation, so I consider myself lucky.

Your upcoming cruise will no doubt be amazing.....looking forward to hearing about it as it unfolds!

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Bish said:

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.

Did you get your pre-cruise survey yet?  We got that at 8 weeks out.  We sail March 10th.  Genie email arrived shortly after at 6 weeks out.  Surprised by that one as they usually come out at around 3-4 weeks.  So, it could be sooner than you think.  Exciting times!

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We haven't heard from RCI or that Genie yet.....and so of course, there's already been some handwringing and angsting about whether or not we should be making our dinner reservations and excursion bookings now, or do we wait.....??  This is in part why I decided I'd write about our experience and try to answer some of these questions for others that we ourselves are having right now!  That's not to say that this information isn't written here somewhere, I'm just not all that adept at finding it!

We are also from Canada.....we live  on Vancouver Island.....where we are dodging the Arctic freeze that seems to have taken hold across the entire continent practically!! A good time to run away on a cruise! Are you sailing on Ovation also?

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9 hours ago, Bish said:

We are also from Canada.....we live  on Vancouver Island.....where we are dodging the Arctic freeze that seems to have taken hold across the entire continent practically!! A good time to run away on a cruise! Are you sailing on Ovation also?

No.  Although my kids would love to because the DL concierge from our last cruise has moved to Ovation and they completely love her.  We sail Harmony on March 10th.  Our first time in Star class too.

From all that I have heard, the general consensus is let the Genie do all your show, dining reservations.  If there are shore excursions that you have your heart set on, book those on your own as they might sell out.  Also, you might be able to get some of them on sale in your cruise planner ahead of time. 

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Agreed.  Even though it's hard to do, just BELIEVE that the Genie will take care of everything.  Especially shows.  You have NOTHING to worry about there.

The ONLY thing that I did, proactively on my upcoming Anthem cruise(s) was to suggest (actually, I asked her opinion) that perhaps it might not be a bad idea to make lunch reservations for embarkation day at Chops since that's where all of the Key people will be going now.  On our previous cruises, we have almost ALWAYS been the only ones in the restaurant on embark day but now that the Key is including lunch at Chops, I am slightly concerned that maybe they will be very busy.  She simply wrote back and asked when we would like to eat.  So I'm guessing that she DID make reservations for us.

I don't even know if Ovation is doing the Key so it may not be anything for you to worry about.

Actually, I would think that anyone who has either Star Class OR an Ultimate Dining Package might want to think about the same thing and have either the Concierge or the Genie make reservations for them on the first day.  From things I have read, it seems as though they MAY be increasing the scope of the program as I have read from several people that they are now offering a choice between Chops and Giovanni's/Jaimie's which would seem to indicate to me that (1) the program is popular and (2) they may be expanding it beyond the max. 100 people that they originally planned.  All speculation.

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11 hours ago, Bish said:

excursion bookings now

 

1 hour ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

From all that I have heard, the general consensus is let the Genie do all your show, dining reservations.  If there are shore excursions that you have your heart set on, book those on your own as they might sell out.  Also, you might be able to get some of them on sale in your cruise planner ahead of time. 

My Genie told me to go ahead and make any shore excursions we wanted and that they would fit them in to the schedule, so as @Lovetocruise2002 , says if you have your heart set on an excursion, book it.

Again as @Lovetocruise2002 , and @WAAAYTOOO say trust your Genie and let them make your dinner and show reservations for you, if you have some specifics like Raye suggest, then extend those suggestions to the Genie, IE., do you want to eat in a specific restaurant for formal night, etc..

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Thanks all.  Appreciate the help with navigating the scope of Star Class and what I do now and what they do then.  We'll have to get on these excursions and get them booked this weekend.

Waaaytooo, I have never heard of "the key" nor have I come across that term in all the research I've done.....what does this refer to?

UPDATE:

We booked this cruise on Monday January 28th. Today, (5 days after booking) 48 days out, we received our Pre Cruise survey in an email from Royal Genie Services.  There is nothing personal about this email....it's essentially a SurveyMonkey.com questionnaire.  It includes questions such as "how do you prefer to be addressed?", "are you a night owl or a morning person?", "are you celebrating anything", "what would a perfect day look like to you?",  as well as food likes and dislikes, times you prefer to eat, as well as some interesting questions like "the hardest I ever laughed was......." And  " if you could only bring 3 things with you to a deserted island, what would they be?"

The questionnaire can also be forwarded to others in your travel party.  I am going to figure out how to fwd this to each of my 10 year olds so they can maximize their experience on this cruise as well.  

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The Key is a new program that allows people who are not in suites to purchase some specific amenities.  One of these amenities is lunch at Chops on embarkation day.  So, there could be as many as 100 people eating at Chops on boarding day.  In the past, we were often the only ones there but now there is a potential for it to be very crowded.  I just thought it made sense to make sure we could get in !  I'm not sure whether the Key is being promoted in Asia.  Many things in that market differ from those in the NA market.

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34 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

The Key is a new program that allows people who are not in suites to purchase some specific amenities.  One of these amenities is lunch at Chops on embarkation day.  So, there could be as many as 100 people eating at Chops on boarding day.  In the past, we were often the only ones there but now there is a potential for it to be very crowded.  I just thought it made sense to make sure we could get in !  I'm not sure whether the Key is being promoted in Asia.  Many things in that market differ from those in the NA market.

To add to that @Bish, you are not going to need The Key when sailing Star class.  I think what @WAAAYTOOO is saying is that the potential availability of The Key on your sailing might have an impact how busy it is at certain specialty restaurants on embarkation day.  Nothing that your Genie can't handle lol.

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On 2/1/2019 at 8:51 PM, Bish said:

we received our Pre Cruise survey in an email from Royal Genie Services.  There is nothing personal about this email....it's essentially a SurveyMonkey.com questionnaire. 

We weren't sure if they read the pre-cruise survey, but it is just another tool for them to get a glean of preferences and add a little Genie magic is possible.

They also have access to your onboard account.  One of our Genie gifts was a set of whiskey rocks which was cute as one member in our party @CGTLH tends to order Gentleman Jack and she probably noticed a trend there.  

The gifts go both ways...our Genie mentioned that she burned herself when she sat on her straightening iron 😜  My mother had a silicone sleeve that she uses for hers, so she gave that to the Genie and we all had a laugh about that.

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On our very first Star Class cruise, our Genie (Reyno) went waaay out of his way to research Dan's gift.  He later told us that he researched Dan's social media and discovered that Dan was a "militry" (in my best South African accent !) man.  Reyno's gift to Dan was an authentic, antique ship's compass in a beautiful bronze box.  Dan was so touched...and to make things worse, since it was our first SC cruise, and we didn't know to bring a gift, we had nothing to reciprocate. Luckily we were able to make up for it on our next SC cruise as Reyno was again our Genie.  Since I have NO social media footprint, his research was useless for me but he still gave me a lovely set of stemware.  So it's obvious that the Genie's really do try and make your cruise very special even to the point of doing personal online research.

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5 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

it's obvious that the Genie's really do try and make your cruise very special even to the point of doing personal online research.

On the one hand, that's really awesome that they go to those lengths. On the other hand, this is just another reason I'm glad I keep every one of my social media accounts locked to everyone except the people I've already friended, and only visible for friend requests to friends of theirs. 🙈

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Oh boy....thanks for the nudge on the "gift" situation with the genie....there's something I'd never have thought of in a million years.  Has anyone got suggestions as to what one might bring as a gift for a genie?  I'm guessing practicality might rule the day, given the confined space on a ship.....but please....I'm so totally open to suggestions. 

I'd not heard of "the Key" but did a quick search to see what it entails.....good information to have, thank you.

I had my kids write out their questionnaire answers in their very best handwriting and I will have to consolidate those and get them submitted by the end of the week.

Has anyone got any suggestions about dealing with the time difference in Sydney?  We are flying out of Vancouver, and the time difference is something like a kabillion hours.  I'm thinking we should try to give ourselves at minimum two days in Sydney before we get on the ship.  No sense arriving to the cruise half asleep and completely out of whack.  Anyone btdt?

Thanks!!

 

Kim

 

 

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5 hours ago, Bish said:

Oh boy....thanks for the nudge on the "gift" situation with the genie....there's something I'd never have thought of in a million years.  Has anyone got suggestions as to what one might bring as a gift for a genie?  I'm guessing practicality might rule the day, given the confined space on a ship.....but please....I'm so totally open to suggestions. 

Maybe bring something small and local from your hometown...it's definitely not expected.  We didn't plan on gifting anything but it just happened to be something we already had on hand to re-gift in that case.  We did that twice on Symphony.  Our room steward was admiring my brother's USB charging port and asked him where he got it.  We left it with him when we left and my brother ordered a new one on Amazon to be waiting for him when he got home.  

On Anthem we brought back food a couple time from ports and gave it to the Genie and room steward -- cannolis from Boston, doughnuts from Portland.  Just a simple little gesture and it wouldn't take up any room as they would eat it, share it or toss it.

Since you have children going, have the kids draw a picture for the Genie (if they are young) or write a letter thanking them!

Again, you're going to tip the Genie and room steward with cash, so anything else is really above and beyond that. 

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6 hours ago, Bish said:

Has anyone got any suggestions about dealing with the time difference in Sydney?

One trick I recently heard as a good way to deal with jet lag (actually reported on the nightly news) is to not eat for several hours before your flight or on your flight, basically fast, and only eat next when you've arrived at your destination and it's the dinner hour there. Something about having dinner at the new locale's regular time and following it up with sleep adjusts your body clock much more quickly.

Haven't had the chance to try this myself yet, so can't speak to its accuracy, and I certainly wouldn't give it any extra weight over other popular tricks just because it was discussed on the news. But, it's something to consider.

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7 hours ago, Bish said:

Has anyone got suggestions as to what one might bring as a gift for a genie?  I'm guessing practicality might rule the day, given the confined space on a ship.....but please....I'm so totally open to suggestions. 

As @AshleyDillo says, the suggestion we were given was to bring something from your local area if possible.

 

7 hours ago, Bish said:

Has anyone got any suggestions about dealing with the time difference in Sydney?  We are flying out of Vancouver, and the time difference is something like a kabillion hours.  I'm thinking we should try to give ourselves at minimum two days in Sydney before we get on the ship.  No sense arriving to the cruise half asleep and completely out of whack.  Anyone btdt?

The only reason I know anything about this is because I was looking at a 2020 cruise out of Sydney, we are in Oklahoma, so we were going to have to fly to Dallas, then from Dallas to LA and then LA to Sydney, LA to Sydney was around 15 hours so you should have about the same from Vancouver, you should be flying at night so that you can eat dinner and then watch a movie whatever and then go to sleep (Take a sleeping pill) they will change the lighting in the morning to wake you up and then serve you breakfast, if my calculation are correct you should arrive around mid day, this is the advice I was given to get over jet lag, as bad as you might want to go directly to your hotel and take a nap, the advice is to stay up, eat lunch, eat dinner and then go to bed at around what your normal time might be 10-11pm, get back to a somewhat normal routine.

Getting there a day or to early is the way to go as far as what I learned, the day you get there is one day, then plan another full day to sight see and then the next day is when you will board the ship.

The strangest thing I could never get my head around is that when flying west to Sydney or Asia, you will loose a full day because you fly over the International date line, so if you left home on a Monday (15 hour flight) you would not get to Sydney on Tuesday you would get  there on Wednesday, don't worry, you get the day back when you fly back East.

I was planning on using an experienced travel agent to help me out with all of this but never made it that far, my wife changed her mind and decided she wanted to go to the Mediterranean. 

Hope this helps.

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16 hours ago, Bish said:

Has anyone got any suggestions about dealing with the time difference in Sydney?

Things that works for me :

1. Sleep well before the flight , do not try to be tired to better sleep in the flight , it will not change
2. Do not consume Alcohol During the flight.
3. When landing , try to walk as much as you can under the Sun , the Sun light trick the body to reset its clock.
4. Go to sleep around 10 PM at local time.
5. I take from time to time melatonin 0.3 mg , but this is something you should discuss with your doctor first (although its dose not require prescription) 

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Things that have worked for me: 

1. Only have one glass of wine on the flight - one glass puts me right to sleep so it’s great for those long flights over night. 

2. Sleep on the plane

3. Stay awake until 9-10pm on the day you arrive. 

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