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Back 2 Back Star Class Cruises - The Short Version


WAAAYTOOO
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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.

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Why B2B Star Class cruises ?

Why not ?

Ok...try again.  HOW B2B Star Class cruises ?

As Prime Club Royale members, Dan and I each get a "free" annual cruise.  Since we had never done a B2B before, I decided (Dan never decides ANYthing having to do with cruising...he is a tagalong) that this is the time/way to do it.  So I booked 2 consecutive inside rooms on Anthem for 15-23 Feb and 23 Feb - 3 Mar.  Wait a minute !  I'm a suite snob !  How can I be expected to cruise in an inside room ?  So I upgraded these cruises to Ocean view balcony rooms (careful to make sure that I found a stateroom that was available for both cruises....so we wouldn't have to change rooms, right ? Ha !  Pure folly !)...then to Junior Suites...then to J1 JS with large balcony.  By now, we have moved WELL past the option of remaining in the same room on both cruises.  All of these upgrades occurred over a period of about 6 months AND I often upgraded one and then a few days later, upgraded another and on and on and on....  If any of you EVER had a question about whether or not Michelle Cunningham is a Saint...wonder no longer.  With EACH and EVERY upgrade, she calmly and patiently complied with my schizophrenic requests and each time she was always entirely successful in getting me EXACTLY what I asked for.

Side note1:  When you book a "free" casino cruise (whether it is one of your annual cruises or some other type of free casino offer) you must pay the entire balance at the time that you book the cruise.

Now it begins to occur to me....why not upgrade ALL the way ?  Do I dare ?  ....then, somewhere in my very noisy mind I hear, "YOLO BOOK IT".  Of COURSE, there is not a SC room that is available on both cruises, so I went in, knowing that we would have to switch suites.  Small price to pay.  F* it.  Done.  15-23 Feb Grand Loft Suite 8724.  On 23 Feb - 3 Mar GLS 10720.

Side note2:  This was quite a learning experience for both me and Michelle.  Neither of us really realized how relatively affordable it is to upgrade a "free" casino comp cruise.  I think this is why I was so emboldened to keep upgrading.  In the end, after all of the changes and upgrades, I was able to go from 2 inside cabins to 2 SC suites for around $7500.   Now, that's still a lot of money...not sayin' it ain't....but for 2, SC 8 day cruises, that is a STEAL.  So for those of you who are [at least] Prime Club Royale members, this is the way to do it, if you have ever considered booking Star Class.  The upgrades - even when you start from an inside room - are as cheap as you're ever going to get them.

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4 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Wait a minute !  I'm a suite snob !  How can I be expected to cruise in an inside room ?  So I upgraded these cruises to Ocean view balcony rooms (careful to make sure that I found a stateroom that was available for both cruises....so we wouldn't have to change rooms, right ? Ha !  Pure folly !)...then to Junior Suites...then to J1 JS with large balcony.  By now, we have moved WELL past the option of remaining in the same room on both cruises. 

 

4 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Now it begins to occur to me....why not upgrade ALL the way ?  Do I dare ?  ....then, somewhere in my very noisy mind I hear, "YOLO BOOK IT".

?? Raye, I cannot wait to cruise with you!  Suite snobs unite! lol

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And here I thought I was the super shopper.  Dang you really worked those upgrades!  That's AWESOME!  If I had the opportunity to have a B2B in star class?  Oh HECK YAH I'd yolo book it.  I'd figure out my credit card hades later, I'd book the heck out of it.  

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15 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

I was able to go from 2 inside cabins to 2 SC suites for around $7500.  

That's not bad at all!  I was playing around with SC bookings and was able to get pricing as low as $10K for 4 people with the current website sale.  If you can find enough people to tolerate in one of those 8 person rooms, SC becomes really affordable when you consider it includes the gratuity, dining and drink packages.  You just need the flexibility to sail the off season, of course.  

If you're going to gamble anyways, might as well take advantage of the casino "loyalty" programs.  I never understood those that refused to participate in those at land-based casinos.  I wouldn't drop a dime in a casino without getting points for something.

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36 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

That's not bad at all!  I was playing around with SC bookings and was able to get pricing as low as $10K for 4 people with the current website sale.  If you can find enough people to tolerate in one of those 8 person rooms, SC becomes really affordable when you consider it includes the gratuity, dining and drink packages.  You just need the flexibility to sail the off season, of course.  

Check Allure for spring 2021!  Those SC prices have been quiet good.  We got an A2 for less than $9K for 4 of us.

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First Contact -

Exactly 60 days prior to our sail date, I got the SC questionnaire.  I'm sure the SC planners hate me but I only answer a few questions on this stupid questionnaire - the ones that I know will affect me directly.  I always give them our "preferred" names (my real name is Ramona but I have been Raye all my life...and I prefer to be called Raye.  Daniel is, of course, Dan) and I tell them what kinds of drinks we like in our suite and that we are night owls and like to sleep in but I don't answer the inane questions like, "what famous person in history would you like to have dinner with" or whatever it asks...  I just leave those (and there are a few of them !) blank.

So, I completed as much of questionnaire as I ever do and submitted it.

Then, exactly 4 weeks prior to the sail date I got our first communication directly from our future Royal Genie, Yen Lee.  This is when it starts to get "real".  Once you are communicating with your Genie, you start to get really excited b/c you know you are NOW planning your cruise.

First thing....I wanted to know whether or not we would have the same Genie on both legs of our B2B.  Genies rotate the rooms that they service PLUS we were changing rooms so I wanted to make sure that we had the same person.  She wrote back promptly to let me know that "it would be her honor to serve as our Royal Genie on both of our legs".  YIPPEE !!!!

This/these cruises were our 5th and 6th Star Class cruises so we had a bit of experience to draw upon.  We knew what things had worked and what things were - meh.  I made a few specific requests of Yen:

1.  We wanted our luggage to remain with us throughout the boarding process.  On EVERY one of our previous SC cruises our bags had separated from us at security and it was ages before they made their way to our suite AND they were always left downstairs.  I wanted to make sure that our bags were there when we arrived AND that we had someone to take them up the stairs for us.

2.  On all of our previous SC cruises there were constant interruptions - phone ringing - people knocking at the door - deliveries - questions - invitations....nonstop - particularly the first couple of days.  I asked if Yen would please try and curtail/manage the interruptions so that we didn't have to jump up every 5 minutes to answer a door or phone.  This single issue is the main reason that Dan has never particularly cared for Star Class.  Of course, I realize that the Genie doesn't control 90% of this but I just threw that one out there to see if there was anything that could be done.

3.  I asked for reservations at Chops on embarkation day.  In the past, this has never been a problem.  Oftentimes, we were the only ones in the restaurant and had the place nearly to ourselves.  BUT I knew that They Key had been implemented recently and that Chops would probably be a madhouse.  I was right.

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2 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

2.  On all of our previous SC cruises there were constant interruptions - phone ringing - people knocking at the door - deliveries - questions - invitations....nonstop - particularly the first couple of days.  I asked if Yen would please try and curtail/manage the interruptions so that we didn't have to jump up every 5 minutes to answer a door or phone.  This single issue is the main reason that Dan has never particularly cared for Star Class.  Of course, I realize that the Genie doesn't control 90% of this but I just threw that one out there to see if there was anything that could be done.

This is the one thing I wished I could have changed, I like quite and solitude, I'm in a mad house work environment everyday, I don't need it on my cruise.

But my Wife loved it, she is the social butterfly, Charlie, bless his heart was trying to find a happy medium between us, he did a really fantastic job.

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YIPPEE !!!  Embarkation Day !!

Do as I say, not as I do. 

Since this cruise embarked on a Friday, we chose to fly in on embarkation day to save a day of leave.  Now, this is a very bad plan for a couple of reasons:

1.  Anything can happen

2.  It's NJ in February, For God's sake !

3.  Anything can happen.

But the cruise gods were with us and everything went swimmingly.  The limo picked us up at home at 5:30 AM, dropped us at DCA by 6:15 and our plane left right on time at 7:55 AM. We arrived in Newark at 9:13 AM.  Because of this being a rather high risk plan (flying in on sail day), I had purchased EVERYTHING through Royal Caribbean - airfare (Air2Sea) and RT transport between the airport and the ship.  Normally, we never do ANY of this but given the potential for utter catastrophe with nearly every aspect of this embarkation day plan, I thought it best to try and put as much onus on RC as I possibly could.  Once we were on the ground in Newark and had our bags with us, my anxiety level fell to a reasonably sane level and I was beginning to believe that we really would make it !  Our transport to the pier turned out to be a small van vs a big bus, which was a relief.  There were only a couple of others sharing the van.  Soon we were on our way.

Sidebar:  It had been my intention to keep the whole "Star Class" thing a secret from Dan right up until we got to the ship.  #1, I wasn't sure he would actually be happy about it and #2, I wanted to surprise him.  I began to run the whole boarding day choreography in my head.... 

 < ....and we get to the port and the bus starts unloading our luggage and the teamsters start grabbing bags and throwing them on their carts....WAIT !!!!  We have to go to the purple Star Class banners WITH our luggage !!!...I am screaming "No, WAIT....DON'T TAKE OUR BAGS".  Dan looks as me as if I am from Planet Zero.  Now I have to hurriedly tell him that we are STAR CLASS and we have to keep our bags with us.  He curses me and starts running after the Teamsters...>  Reh-Roh

So about a week prior to the cruise, I felt it best to let him know that we were going to be Star Class to avoid a TOTAL Charlie Foxtrot at the terminal.  Had we been arriving in a taxi or Uber, I would have just instructed the driver to drop us off at the Purple banners....but with the whole bus scenario (which turned out to be a van scenario), the risk was just too great for a colossal F-UP.  It turns out he was VERY happy and he was glad I told him ahead of time.  Chasing after Teamsters to try and retrieve your bags once they have them in their possession is not a great way to start the cruise... 

So we made arrangements with the van driver (in the form of a $20 pre-tip) to please keep our bags separate from the others so that we could keep them with us.  He did NOT understand why we wanted this but the $20 convinced him to go along with us.  All was well with embarkation SO FAR.

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53 minutes ago, tiny260 said:

This is the one thing I wished I could have changed, I like quite and solitude, I'm in a mad house work environment everyday, I don't need it on my cruise.

But my Wife loved it, she is the social butterfly, Charlie, bless his heart was trying to find a happy medium between us, he did a really fantastic job.

I'm recalling a picture that was sent to me in January of a happy wife and a bar cart, and in the distance was you on the balcony, not looking too impressed. ?

26 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Well, you'll have to wait until I get to that part of the story...but I will give you a hint.  Yen is apparently a genius and obviously controls EVERYTHING on the ship.

Raye, you have no pictures, but your story telling is cracking me up!  I love this!

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We're here....we're here !!!

So the van driver dropped us off - as far away from the purple Star Class signs as you can possibly get....and of course, we were caught in the crossfire of those who were disembarking and looking for rides and those, like ourselves, who were just coming on....and the teamsters were all trying desperately to get us to give them our luggage (looking for tips, no doubt).  But we made our way through the maze to the purple Star Class signs - finally.

The Star Class "greeter" instructed us to turn our luggage over to the Star Class porters.  Nope.  We were waiting for Yen...who showed up almost immediately.  Yen told us to ignore the greeter, that she had everything ready for us.  She already had a porter with a cart waiting for us.  The porter loaded up the cart and we all began to proceed through security.  I have already told the story a couple of times so make it brief this time...but just as promised, our luggage never left our side, even to the point of it being put through the regular carry-on luggage scanner.  Yen took my request QUITE literally.  Best embarkation EVER.

They were not yet boarding the ship, so she asked us to have a seat (after introductions and a brief chat) in what I guess must be the Suites and Pinnacles' waiting area.  It was hard to tell, really.  So we sat down and waited maybe 15 minutes.  We saw the other 2 Genies with their charges but surprisingly, we were never introduced to either of the other 2 Genies the entire 2 weeks.  Yen reappeared and we all proceeded through a side entrance (nobody else was boarding through this entrance) and we proceeded to a private elevator.  So it seems that the porter that we had (at this point) was a terminal porter who was not permitted to board the ship.  We had a very short delay while a porter FROM the ship came out and continued the trip with us and our luggage up a private gangway and onto the ship.  Yen told us that our suite was not quite ready yet, but that we would go there first anyway to drop off the luggage and then we could go and wait wherever we wanted for her.  So off we went to the suite.  You can imagine how difficult it was for all of us, bobbing through the onboarding traffic with a full porter's cart, weaving in and out of people with luggage in tow.  We made it onto an elevation and the ship's porter brought our luggage in and took it upstairs for us.  Yen gave us the standard welcome aboard briefing (we had been through this a number of times so we knew what to expect).  By now it was after 11:30 but not quite noon, so we decided that we would just go to Chops and do lunch.  Honestly, I don't think they were really ready for us but Yen escorted us in and they seated us immediately.  It was nice and quite....for about 15 minutes until The Key horde hit.  I'm kidding...it wasn't bad at all.  It was busy - no doubt...but we had a wonderful lunch and then went back to the suite to settle in.

YIPPEE !!  We made it !

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15 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

They were not yet boarding the ship, so she asked us to have a seat (after introductions and a brief chat) in what I guess must be the Suites and Pinnacles' waiting area.  It was hard to tell, really.

13 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

I agree...the suites waiting area at Cape Liberty is not that impressive....

Second this. I may have only been in a "lowly" Junior Suite, but we still were in that area during boarding and I was underwhelmed by it.

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Day 9 - Turnaround Day

I know, I know....I'm sorta skipping all of the stuff from Day 1 - Day 8 - for now.

When we got back to Bayonne, at the end of the first leg of our B2B, we needed to get off to conduct some business.  It was somewhat unfortunate that we had to do that, b/c we did not get to really enjoy the traditional B2B perks but ya' gotta do whacha gotta do.  From what I understand, the B2B'ers met at the Diamond Lounge (Deck 4) and were processed there, making it unnecessary for them to even get off the ship.  That would have been really nice.  Then, they were apparently treated to a private lunch somewhere.  That probably wouldn't have been anything we would have done anyway, as we could eat in any specialty restaurant (that was open, of course), but we missed the special luncheon too.

Yen had asked us prior to turnaround day if we needed her to help us disembark (we had told her that we were getting off, briefly) and we told her that we would appreciate an escort to the suites CBP desk so she took us straight down past all of the lines of people getting off the ship (where she left us), we showed our passports (they questioned us about having no luggage !!) and went straight out, grabbed an Uber, conducted our business and came directly back to the terminal.  Yen had given us our new Sea Pass cards before we disembarked so all we had to do was show our cards and we proceeded straight back onto the ship.  I think we were back in plenty of time and had we decided we wanted to join the other B2B'ers I'm sure we could have but we just decided to do our own thing for lunch.

As I have discussed in another thread, we decided that we would do Jamie's for lunch this time as there had been such a big crowd at Chops on our first embarkation day.  As <bad> luck would have it, by embarkation day #2, they had expanded The Key to include lunch at either Chops OR Jamie's, so now we had the Key crowd to contend with AGAIN. It was fine though...we didn't leave hungry (I was never hungry for 17 days, in case you were wondering).  As soon as we got back on the ship safely, we called Yen to let her know that we were back and she was relieved to know that we had made it back.

Changing suites:  Since I was not able to get the same suite for both legs of the B2B we had to change rooms.  We had to pack up everything that was not hanging in a closet, into our suitcases and leave everything upstairs.  Our stateroom attendant, Brian (who was EXCELLENT, BTW...more about him later), moved everything for us from 8724 to 10720, which was to be our new home for the next 8 days.  It seems that Brian (8724) and Jesus (10720) had sailed together on other ships before...and were quite good friends, so it was really a super easy transition.  Jesus took our things upstairs for us and we quickly and easily (there are complications here that I will discuss later) unpacked and settled into our new home.

And with that, we were on our way to another 8 day adventure back to the Bahamas.

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Day 17 - TurnAWAY Day

As wonderful as it had been, our 16 day adventure finally came to an end.  We really hated saying goodbye to Yen who had been our constant companion for the past 2+ weeks.  Dan and I had remarked on previous SC cruises that the Genie's had some kind of special power (is that really such a big surprise ?!)  b/c they can find you no matter WHERE you are on the ship.  After a while we realized that they knew where you were based on where your Sea Pass card has last been swiped...so some of their mystique waned a bit, but they are REALLY good at tracking you down !  Tip: If you want or need to hide from your Genie, do NOT swipe your Sea Pass card !  They WILL find you !

We packed the night before but left everything in the suite.  We had already made arrangements with Yen to have breakfast delivered the last morning (7 AM) and then she came to the suite to fetch us around 7:45 AM.  Again we had a porter with a cart who loaded up our things and escorted us onto an employee elevator and straight past everyone in line, directly to the suites CBP kiosk where there was no one else in line ahead of us.  It was basically a reverse of embarkation sans the security scan and the porters' trade-off.  I don't think the Teamsters were very happy when they saw a ship's employee carrying our things but we ignored them.

We went through Customs a second time - this time with luggage and off we went.  The bus to the airport was steps away and we were at the airport well in advance of our 12:59 PM departure.

One of the last conversations I had with Yen was my asking her if she had ever had B2B Star Class cruisers before (I had been dying to know).  She said it is very rare but that she had a B2B once before us. 

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So now for the good stuff ! The days in between coming and going.

The Genie.  Yen Lee is from Malaysia (not China, as I had first assumed...you know what they say about assume...).  She is a little whisp of a thing...probably 75 pounds, tops and she has a "bop".  Bop is really the only name I have for the cute little half curtsey, half bow that she does when she walks up to you.  It's kind of a knee bend, bouncy thing.  So cute.  She is ALL business.  Personable ?  After you to get to know her (and she gets to know you)....yes.  At first we were a little concerned b/c she is very formal.  After a while she will laugh with you but it took a while to see that first smile.  Efficient ?  Hell, yes.  I think the rest of the crew is scared of her.  Nah...not really.  I don't think...  Everyone knows her though and she can quite literally do anything.

Of course, she did the usual and expected things: made (and changed) our dining reservations, saved our seats for performances, escorted us on and off the ship when asked or needed, arranged a party for us in our suite, made sure we had anything we asked for (food, drinks, etc.) in our suite.  But a good Genie will go beyond that.  Here are a couple of things that Yen did for us that really MADE our cruise.

In our pre-arrival email exchanges I had mentioned that Dan loves Modelo Negro beer and asked her to please have some in our suite, on ice with some fresh lime.  She wrote back and apologized...saying that the Anthem no longer stocked Modelo Negro.  No big deal, I told her.  Corona will do just fine.  Thank you.  So when we came on board, we had a whole bunch of Corona on ice with fresh lime all ready to go.  Dan was in heaven.  About day 5, Yen came to our suite with a tote bag over her shoulder.  This was somewhat unusual as she only came to our suite, unannounced, maybe 2 times in 17 days.  We were happy to see her (as we always were) and she started pulling Modelo Negro bottles out of the tote and she kept pulling out more and more and more bottles until we finally had about a dozen bottles of Modelo Negro that she had "found" somewhere - only God knows where. It was just such a sweet and over-the-top kind of thing to do. I couldn't believe that she even remembered that from 1 email weeks before we even boarded.  Dan was now truly in love with her.

...and regarding the special abilities of Genies.  You may recall that I had made kind of a big deal about how busy it had always been on our previous SC cruises - the deliveries, door bells ringing, phones ringing constantly.  I have no idea HOW she did it but that phone never rang ONCE and the door bell never rang ONCE for about the first 4 days of our cruise.  For all I know, she was standing guard out there and threatening anyone coming close to our suite but however she did it, it was a major miracle.  I will say that, as time went by, we started getting a few visitors and calls but it was NEVER like we had it on previous cruises where they were coming and going at all hours.  She definitely had performed some kind of intercession for us.  It was wonderful.

The other very special interdiction that Yen did for us was during our first stop at Port Canaveral. As we were sailing towards the port (wee hours of the morning.  I recall looking at my iPad and it said 1:50 AM) the Captain came over the all hands comm and told us that passengers had reported seeing someone go over the side.  He sounded very distressed.  He asked that if anyone in your party could not be accounted for, to please call 911 and report them missing.  No more comms on the subject - for now.  Once we docked at PC, we got up, got off the ship for a while in Port Canaveral (Terminal J...way the F* on the other side of the port...in fact, we used a Carnival terminal.  Ugh...whatever).  When we got back to the terminal, it was slam packed full of people.  Some people were in wet bathing suits.  It turns out that they had never been able to get a reliable head count so they made EVERYone disembark, including crew so that they could account for everyone.  In the end, there were no pax or crew missing so it turned out to be a false alarm...but they had to be able to verify that with the Coast Guard AND the local police, who were now involved and flittering around going on and off the ship in packs.  Tempers were beginning to flare and mobs of people were jamming what would soon be the entrance back onto the ship.  I sent a text to Yen saying, "come save us".  Maybe 5 minutes later, I saw her beautiful little self coming down the escalator and I knew we were going to be ok !  (joke).  She shoved her way through the madness at the entrance (BTW, I saw her shove that little body through more than one traffic jam !  She may have been pint sized but she had the determination of a 340 pound linebacker !) Dan whistled and got her attention and she drug our asses back through that mass of people, up the escalators and back onto the ship.

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4 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Did Araceli send you The Loop app ?  TBH, that one time is the only time I have ever used The Loop for any of our SC cruises but I was damn glad I had it when we needed it.

No. No mention of the loop app. There was a discussion about this on FB. Seems like many Genies are doing away with the loop.

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4 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

No. No mention of the loop app. There was a discussion about this on FB. Seems like many Genies are doing away with the loop.

That doesn't surprise me.  The Loop is fairly useless (until it isn't....as we found out !) b/c the Genie has to be at a computer to receive the message.  I had assumed that Yen was not going to use The Loop until we did receive it at the very last minute before we left for the cruise.  In retrospect, I was very damn glad that I had it on my cell phone when I had to use it to contact her on the ship.

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8724

This is a Grand Loft Suite and it was our home for the first leg of our B2B.  It is generally equivalent to the Star Loft Suite on the Oasis class ships but I will say (having stayed in both now) that the SLS on the O class ships is just a tad all-around larger than the GLS on the Q class.  I loved this room though...it was spacious, had the loft bedroom with lots of storage, double closets, big dressing table, queen sized bed with Duxiana mattress (heavenly !!!!).  The suite has 2 nice, big bathrooms with walk-in showers (1 upstairs and 1 downstairs).  There is a nice dining table inside with 4 chairs (PLENTY of room for a nice sit-down meal) and a reasonably large table out on the balcony for outside dining (only 2 dining style chairs outside though).  I think the balcony on the O class SLS is also a bit larger (particularly the version that looks "aft" on the O class ships).  The balcony on 8724 has 2 loungers, 2 regular chairs with footstools and of course the table and 2 chairs for dining.   It is very nice but not particularly expansive.  Certainly big enough for the 2 of us !  There are floor-to-ceiling windows which gives a very impressive view of the fantail and the wake from anywhere in the suite and provided LOTS of natural light.  We were very, very, very comfortable in this suite.

You can control the lighting for the entire suite from wall control panels both upstairs and downstairs, which was nice. Unfortunately, you could only open the big drapes (downstairs) from a control panel downstairs.  So when we were upstairs (most notably in the morning) you could not open the big drapes from upstairs which was kind of a nuisance.  There are also a set of heavy drapes that will close off the bedroom from the downstairs view.  I suspect this is particularly nice when you have folks living/sleeping downstairs.  We never used them as it made the bedroom loft seem much smaller and closed-in.

There were only 2 "negatives" to this suite, both of which were quickly forgiven, as it is such a lovely room.  #1, it is directly above 270...so there is most definitely bleed-through noise/music from the venue below.  We were almost never in our room in the evenings so it wasn't a particular problem for us but my guess is that on evenings when they had performances in 270 (most notably, Spectra), I imagine it was quite loud. #2 is the same issue that I have with the Aqua Theater Suites on the O class ships.  It's a long walk all the way aft to get to your room.  This is an unfortunate and unavoidable issue for ships with big suites on the fantail.  They are on the fantail.  It's a long F'N way back there !

As I mentioned before, we had lots of beverages waiting for us, which remained stocked throughout the cruise.  The "beverage guy" - named Chris, came by twice a day to make sure we had all of the water, sodas, beer or whatever else we wanted/needed.  We are not big wine drinkers so we did not have any wine in our suite but if we HAD wanted wine, it would have been at an additional charge.  They will not deliver liquor to your suite with the single exception of the packages that they offer on all of the cruises.  We never had any liquor brought to our suite.  Why would we ?  We could go into any bar or restaurant and get any kind of drink that we wanted at any time.  As I have made mention of previously, there were always some kind of treat being delivered...some of them were a function of being in a suite, some were a function of being Star Class, some of them were a function of being D+ and some of them came from the Casino so I never really knew the original of much of what was being delivered...but truly, most of it went to waste.  We never eat most of what is delivered to our room on ANY cruise.

We had several meals in our suite, mostly in the form of breakfast.  This is my FAVORITE meal to eat in...b/c I don't have to get dressed and run to the restaurant before it closes.  On my first few SC cruises I was always very hesitant to ask my Genie to order my food for me.  It seemed like such a ridiculous waste of the Genie's time to place my room service order.  HOWEVER, after trying to do it myself and getting NO ANSWER on the room service number enough times, I decided that I had better get over that little phobia and let the Genie do their job.  So, we had a pretty much standing order for breakfast most mornings and they were always prompt (sometimes early, AAMoF) and it worked very well.  Only once, in this suite, did we have dinner delivered.  Never lunch. We had no "standing" orders for any kind of recurring food delivery (outside of breakfast) and I went to Starbucks and got my own damn cappuccinos in the morning.

I've mentioned Brian (Jamaica), our primary room attendant.  We had 2 attendants, but TBH, I never even learned the name for #2.  Brian was a big personality !  He was funny, engaging, very very helpful and just a really fun guy. I know EXACTLY how he got to be a room attendant for the biggest suites - he is just a natural at it.  We seemed to see him everywhere.  I think he is very popular among the crew, for obvious reasons and he was everpresent.  He was always making jokes about having a party in our suite when we weren't there (and it would have been a-ok with us if he had !).  We enjoyed him so much.

One of the really lesser-known but SOOO important amenities for being Star Class is that you can have your laundry done as often as you want.  They will do it twice a day if you want.  Since this was a 16 day cruise for us and we knew we could have our laundry done, we packed light....and it was really nice.  We used the laundry option more on these cruises than we ever did on any of our other SC cruises. Mostly b/c we truly NEEDED to and also just b/c we could !  One day, I had intended to get our laundry together to send out so I had placed the laundry bag on top of our collapsible hamper that was sitting out in the bedroom upstairs (there was nowhere for us to put the laundry basket inside a closet which is another indication that this room is just a LITTLE bit smaller than the other big suites on the O class).  Ship happened and I never got around to putting the dirty clothes into the laundry bag.  We left the suite for whatever thing we were doing and when we got back, we noticed that Brian had taken everything out of the laundry basket, put it in to the laundry bag and sent it off to the laundry.  WOW.  Now THAT is special service !

Next to the Star Loft Suite on Allure and Harmony, this Grand Loft Suite (8724) on Anthem is our favorite Star Class Suite.  I highly recommend this particular room to anyone.

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10720

This is also a Grand Loft Suite and was our home for the second leg of our B2B.  So here comes the bad news - the only real disappointment of our entire journey.  It was absolutely 1/3 the size of 8724 despite being the same suite category.  It was small, cramped, had almost no storage and closet space (Dan and I weren't even able to put all of our clothes into the 1 tiny closet in the bedroom, upstairs), had a tiny little dressing table behind the bed.  The downstairs bathroom was "split" with the toilet and a sink on one side and a walk-in shower and a sink on the other side.  The upstairs bathroom was, at best, 1/2 the size of the one in 8724.  The balcony was tiny although there were 3 of them.  There was a small balcony with a hanging "teardrop" chair upstairs, the main balcony and a small side balcony downstairs. Trust me, these useless 2 additional balconies did not make up for the other shortfalls of this suite.

IMO, this suite should  NOT even be in the Star Class category.  It is, at BEST, a Crown Loft Suite size...probably even smaller than most CLS.  I let it be known - loud and clear - about our disappointment with this suite in the post cruise comments and have so far gotten 2 phone calls from RCI in response.  This would be a fine Sky Class room but it is NOT up to Star Class standards and if this room was my only Star Class experience, I would be sorely disappointed with Star Class.

The reason that this room is so small is a simple matter of geometry and had I been thinking objectively about this, I should have realized that this room would be significantly smaller. It is the same reason that the ATS on the O class are biggest on deck 8 and get progressively smaller as they go up.  The matter is made worse by the fact that this suite is on the corner and is "cut off" by the curvature of the ship.  I understand WHY it is smaller, I just don't accept that it is good enough.

All of that aside, we continued to have a lovely cruise.  When Yen visited us in 10720 I could see that she could see our disappointment and did her best to cheer us up.  She certainly realizes that this suite is subpar for Star Class.  She calls it "cozy".  We laughed.  We continued with our established schedules from the previous week.  We had breakfast in the room many mornings and we had 1 meal in our suite (on the last night of the cruise - Dan's favorite, lamb shank !!!).

The good news...there was no noise bleed whatsoever in this suite so we were far enough away from 270 to avoid that noise.  It's still a long walk back there, though.  No relief there.

Our room attendant was Jesus and was great.  He is no Brian, but we truly appreciated his service and consideration.  Jesus was, by FAR the most talented towel animal artist that we have ever had.  His creatures were AMAZING.  He mentioned that he started the whole towel animal program with Royal Caribbean back in the 1990's, so he has been doing this for a while !  He was a lovely, lovely attendant and I am so happy that he was ours.

If you are going to be cruising in Star Class on any of the Q ships, I cannot recommend this suite.  Avoid it.  It should be downgraded from a Star Class suite. Period.

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25 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

10720

Agree so much with your comments about the corner Grands. Happened to tour one when on Anthem back in 2017 and had many of the same options about it. I know many clamor over the idea having the three balconies but so much space seems to be wasted. The entryway is about a third of the space the room has. Moving to the living room they tried to cram all the furniture into a smaller space.

No wonder why it was being offered as a BINGO prize.

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45 minutes ago, twangster said:

You mean this cabin 10720?

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/boards/index.php?/topic/5068-anthem-112517-712-b2b/&do=findComment&comment=49992

Behind the artwork in the living room I wrote with a sharpie "twangster wuz here".  Did you see it?

Wow....you make it look waaay better than it really is !

I can’t believe that a bot of your stature would be caught deactivated in a dump like that !

??

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What did we do on the ship ?

So I had a bit of a break as I was on a biz trip last week but I have one more installment to complete this very short cruise blog. ?

We were on B2B cruises on Anthem with almost identical itineraries.  The only difference between the 2 was that on the first leg we went to Nassau first and Coco Cay second and on the second leg we went to Coco Cay first and Nassau second.  Our other stop was at Port Canaveral.  I will make the descriptions of what we did at our ports of call very simple.  Other than getting off at Port Canaveral to conduct some quick business, I did not leave the ship. Dan got off briefly on the first leg at Coco Cay but that was it.  Nothing to see here...

While on the ship, we thoroughly enjoyed the shows, specialty dining, dining in our suites and of course, the casino.  We skipped many of the headliner shows, only seeing 2 comedians and a juggling/magic act which was pretty lame.  We saw The Gift once.  Once was enough.  Also pretty lame.  But we LOVED We Will Rock You.  We went to see that twice - once on each leg. The first time Yen sat us right up front, which is where Dan usually wants to be.  The second time I asked her to move us back some and I enjoyed that location much more than being right up front.  I think Dan still prefers to be up front.  We each got what we wanted.  Always a good thing.

There were 2 tribute bands - 1 on each of the legs.  The first one was a Journey Tribute band (can't remember their name) and we saw them at 270.  I thought they were ok but I wasn't overly impressed. I was in a constant panic that the lead singer was going to lose his trou.  They were so low and so loose that every time he would hop about, he would have to grab them to keep them from going to his ankles.  He once jumped from the floor to an raised area on the stage and I thought it was all over for sure.  He barely caught them in time !  The second tribute band was Wanted, which was a Bon Jovi cover band.  I enjoyed that one much more, which is odd b/c I am much more of a Journey fan than I am a BJ fan but I just thought the second show was better.  We saw that show in the Music Hall.  Of course, Yen reserved prime viewing seats for us for both of these events (recalling that she was hesitant to do so at the Music Hall, but did anyway, in the end).

We went to see the Spectra Cabaret twice (once on each leg).  That was a very interesting and different kind of show.  We thoroughly enjoyed it.  We really liked 270, period.  I think it is a GREAT venue and we liked going there during the day, at night and during shows.

We ate at every specialty restaurant except for Wonderland, which we detest.  Next time, however, I AM going to get one of those World things !!!  The food was consistently good at Chops and when I finally found something that I really liked at Jamie's (mushroom fettuccine) I enjoyed going there, too.  It shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone that I enjoyed the mushroom fettuccine....it is nothing more than a thickened version of the cream of mushroom soup, poured over fettuccine noodles.  LOL  It is good though !  I also liked Jamie's tiramisu.  I think it is much better than Giovanni's...and it is the ONLY thing that I think Jamie's does better than Giovanni's.  One really cold and rainy day on our way back on the final leg, I wanted Johnny Rocket's but since the JR on Anthem is a store front only it was much too cold to eat there.  So we ordered our food and then asked Yen to have it delivered to our suite - which she did, joyfully.  I visited Starbuck's every day in the AM before they divested themselves of the yummy chocolate croissants and even had Dan drinking hot chocolate with me there before the end. Neither of us are coffee drinkers but I do enjoy a good cappuccino.  I even broke "the cappuccino rule" and had one after 10:00AM a few times.  I found out, from my many trips to Italy over the years, that it is considered very bad form (especially for MEN !) to drink cappuccino after 10AM. Who cares.  I'm not Italian !  We ate at Izumi a LOT b/c that is probably  Dan's fave restaurant.  I will say....after 16 days of eating at the same 4-5 restaurants, it was getting a bit tiresome.  I never thought I would say that out loud...but I do think it's true.  We never went to the MDR but we did go to the WJ twice (both times for lunch) !  We had room service most mornings for breakfast and had room service for dinner a couple of times.  On the last night, Dan had the lamb shank and I had a Maine lobster - delivered to the suite.  It was kind of like a "last supper".  Very somber affair....

We did the bumper cars once on the first leg.  Once was enough for them.  Yen took us to the front of the line, we got in, bounced around for a while and got out.  'Nuff said.  We did North Star 3 times.  Once in the open ocean (boring), once in Port Canaveral (better) and once in Coco Cay, which was the best, IMO.  We really enjoyed going up in the NS.  I am really not that brave and I thought I might be afraid but it was so smooth that you hardly even notice that it's rising.  The last time we caused something of a stir, I guess.  I didn't know this until it was over but apparently they were running a bit behind schedule and there were some people who had been waiting over 30 minutes for their "reserved" ride on NS.  Of course, Yen just walked us up to the front and put us on the next evolution and apparently there were some who were not too happy about that.  I had no idea.  I certainly wouldn't have minded waiting if I had known that they had been waiting for a while.  Dan did not do the iFly even though he is a very experienced sky diver.  I don't know why he didn't do it...he just didn't.  Maybe it's for the same reason that he had no interest in doing the flight simulator in Nassau.  I guess once you do the "real thing" a simulator just doesn't do it for ya.  Whatevs...

As a gift, Yen gave us a sushi making class on the last day.  We didn't have the heart to tell her that we had already done this once on Grandeur so we went.  I was much better at it the second time than I was the first time so maybe doing a second time wasn't a complete waste of time !  I absolutely hate that dried seaweed (YUK!) so I decided that this time I was NOT going to use it.  My rolls were a bit - um - flaccid - because of the lack of the seaweed wrap but they sure tasted better !

The casino was the casino.  Not much more to say there.  The staff was very good...we made good friends with all of the pit bosses and a few of the dealers.  We lost money - as we always do but much less than normal, especially considering that it was a 16 day mega gambling spree. These were the final 2 casino events for this casino year.  We will not be on another cruise until after the new casino year starts on 1 April.  We both qualified for Prime several cruises back but never even came close to qualifying for the next higher tier, which is Signature.

It was a great B2B Star Class cruise.  We enjoyed it so much that we are doing nearly the exact same itinerary next year.  We are starting 1 week earlier than we did this year but will still be doing 2 Grand Loft Suites on 2 consecutive weeks in February 2020.  YIPPEE !!!!

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Glad that you had a great time on Anthem, especially since it was your first time on her! Really glad that you enjoyed We Will Rock You and Spectra; for me, these are what define Anthem, especially Spectra. And totally agree about Two70 -- that space is fantastic.

Very curious why you didn't try out CK any night since that's included with your SC level. I know you said in earlier posts that you're really not a fan, but I would have thought that if you were getting tired of the specialty dining venues that CK would have been at least a half-decent fallback option.

Fingers crossed that after 16 straight days of gambling you finally crossed the line from Prime to Signature!

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On 3/16/2019 at 6:19 PM, JLMoran said:

Very curious why you didn't try out CK any night since that's included with your SC level. I know you said in earlier posts that you're really not a fan, but I would have thought that if you were getting tired of the specialty dining venues that CK would have been at least a half-decent fallback option

I guess I left that out !  We did eat at CK -twice. It was the first night on both legs - filet night.  I really don’t mind the CK.  I guess when you get specialty restaurants complimentary, you just tend to visit those first.  Quite honestly, I kinda forget about the CK as a dinner spot since we almost exclusively use it primarily for breakfast. You’re right, of course.  It certainly is a good option as their menu changes nightly rather than being static. 

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