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twangster

Empress B2B 14 nights On The Biggest Little Ship July 2019

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Stepping out from the Centrum onto deck 6 outside I discovered a sunset.  I've been pretty fortunate with sunsets and sunrises on these two cruises.

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The Celebrity Equinox sailing away into the sunset.

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A Celebrity silhouette of Equinox.

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Cheers!

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Did I mention Empress offers great views of the sea?

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The bartenders rotate bars every two weeks.  Nicholae took great care of me at the Schooner Bar last week, now he's posted to the pool bar.  

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Chill mode enabled.

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1 minute ago, twangster said:

Stepping out from the Centrum onto deck 6 outside I discovered a sunset.  I've been pretty fortunate with sunsets and sunrises on these two cruises.

0vDsHkC.jpg

The Celebrity Equinox sailing away into the sunset.

QIALvLI.jpg

wRYqdn2.jpg

5hLDm9h.jpg

A Celebrity silhouette of Equinox.

cOyJhMI.jpg

Cheers!

8jRgCIi.jpg

Did I mention Empress offers great views of the sea?

pCHjl3a.jpg

h6dQHUi.jpg

F2S2DMr.jpg

NwTRSuo.jpg

The bartenders rotate bars every two weeks.  Nicholae took great care of me at the Schooner Bar last week, now he's posted to the pool bar.  

Izgnzpp.jpg

Chill mode enabled.

isyd41P.jpg

The big ships have a lot of great amenities and activities, but they can't hold a candle to the views of the ocean like the smaller ships. There is a real connection with the sea on the smaller ships.

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The guests on this cruise have been pretty quick to find the late night Windjammer spread.  At 10:30pm when it opened there was a line not unlike a lunch time crowd.  With the doors open the line stretches from the food past the hand washing stations and into the elevator lobby.


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It's pretty busy in here.  Hopefully Royal can see the demand here on Empress and expand beyond the basic Burgers and Hot Dogs offered on some ships.  The more complete Windjammer selections here on Empress have been pretty popular.

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The late night pool parties continue on this cruise. 

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20 hours ago, twangster said:

Day 8, Cruise 2 Day 2 - Approaching Key West

I went to bed early and woke early, in time to catch the sunrise.  A sliver of a moon was high above us.

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Excellent photos! Do you use a tripod for these sunrise shots?

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36 minutes ago, vancouverdude said:

Excellent photos! Do you use a tripod for these sunrise shots?

Nope, just my "I shouldn't have had that last drink last night" shaky hands.  

Set exposure to at least 1/60 second and let camera take ISO where ever then clean up the noise in Lightroom.  

My cameras have image stabilization so that helps in low light.

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Day 9 - Sea Day

Another beautiful sunrise but enough sun pictures.  Flat seas.

I bought Voom this morning saving $40 from day 1.

Voom has been sporadic today.

Pretty good at first 

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Then it completely went out for a few minutes.  Then it came back but slower.

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It's like we switched to a different satellite or something.  

Our position this morning.

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All day Voom has been hit and miss.  Normal at times, then gone.  

Basic texting has worked okay and at times I was able to sneak a phone call in here and there then at times those failed miserably.

Can't wait until we reach land tomorrow for some super fast Mexican internet.  If this keeps up I'll be tethering my laptop to my phone while in port.

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Stray observation...

I noted one of my Crown and Anchor wines had a corkage sticker applied to it.  This would be to indicate that this bottle would not have the corkage fee applied should I bring it to the dining room.  The same wine from last cruise did not have this sticker.

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Crown and Anchor Top Tier Event in Boleros at 5pm.

The Empress orchestra played while we waited for the event to begin followed by some dancing by the championship Ballroom couple Annamaria and Alessio.

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The Captain spoke and among other things informed us there were 501 Crown and Anchor members on this sailing.

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The management team was presented and each did a brief introduction.

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Crown and Anchor breakdown:

330 Gold, 76 Platinum, 23 Emerald, 53 Diamond, 17 Diamond Plus, 2 Pinnacle.

With a total guest count of 1,799 this sailing that means there are 1,298 new to Royal cruisers on board.

Finally one of the main theater cast sang while members of the orchestra played.

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Returning from the last cruise was the comedian and hypnotist John Moyer in the main theater.  More guests briefly lost their belly buttons.

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Tonight was formal night and the Captain's address took place in the Centrum.

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Earlier I mentioned an invitation to the Hotel Director's Table for dinner.  With only two Pinnacles on board I managed to make the cut.

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We met the Hotel Director Julie and Guest Services Manager Jorge where we enjoyed a beverage in the lounge by the Schooner Bar.  Shortly after we were led to the Captain's Table in the main dining room.

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Our menu for tonight:

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The meal was excellent and the conversation with fellow guests, Julie and Jorge was wonderful and engaging.  So much so that I forgot to take any more pictures.

Julie and Jorge have a lot of experience and time with Royal Caribbean and it was very interesting to hear their stories from over the years.

Jorge is the voice over the PA for many announcements such as "The ship has been cleared by local authorities and you are welcome to go ashore on deck....".  I also caught an announcement back on the day 1 of the 2nd leg that at the time made me go "hmmm".  Jorge will address the crew over the PA before general boarding starts but since I was a consecutive cruiser I caught the announcement.  Since Julie is from the UK Jorge specifically called out the number of UK guests coming on board and made another humorous related comment.  Tonight Jorge explained he does these little off the wall comments to make sure the crew is paying attention and engaged.  It's a long running thing he does every week and the crew will pay attention each week to what little quirky thing he'll throw in this time.  It's all in good fun and a great way to keep the crew happy and engaged. 

Julie is the third female Hotel Director in the fleet and she has done an amazing job here on Empress.  Sitting next to her at dinner I asked about her rise to Hotel Director and being in this role as a female.  She is very proud of her accomplishment and clearly has earned it.   It's great to see Royal Caribbean advancing more women into senior positions.

After an incredible dessert we were presented with a memento of the occasion. 

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Julie and Jorge are both nearing the end of the current contracts with just two more sailings to go, but they'll be coming back.

The future of Empress was discussed and there will be an announcement very soon with some new and different itineraries for Empress.  She isn't going anywhere just yet and they are taking advantage of her small size to return to some more interesting destinations that larger ships can't visit.  Out of respect I won't say more but I'll be keeping an eye out for them very soon and I know I'll be booking more cruises on Empress.

Wow!  What an amazing evening! Loyalty does have it's rewards.

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43 minutes ago, twangster said:

I noted one of my Crown and Anchor wines had a corkage sticker applied to it.  This would be to indicate that this bottle would not have the corkage fee applied should I bring it to the dining room.  The same wine from last cruise did not have this sticker.

First I've ever seen of something like this

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With our fabulous dinner over around 10pm I was too full to retire so I changed into shorts and went for a walk outside on deck 6.  Venturing forward we were sailing into some sea mist from the warm waters yet cooling air and there were some clouds in the sky but I also glimpsed what I thought was something I've photographed before in the night sky.  So I went back to grab my camera and mini tripod.

I've often sailed into the sunset but tonight we were sailing into the milky way.

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Capturing the milky way requires long exposures but on a moving ship in the ocean it took some playing around to find some settings that worked.  With the 10 to 15 second exposures I was using I managed to catch some lighting in a distant storm on the horizon.

The bow is dark at night so the bridge crew can keep watch.  The long exposures captured enough light to make the bow look like it's illuminated but it isn't, that's just low levels of ambient light 

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The sea mist, clouds and moving ship didn't make for the best astrophotography conditions but I'm pleased with the results.  More lightning:

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On land the stars would be more precise and clear, that's the problem with shooting from a moving platform, but I'll take the results.

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9 minutes ago, twangster said:

I've often sailed into the sunset but tonight we were sailing into the milky way.

 

Incredible! Was it this visible with the naked eye? We have forward facing rooms on Harmony next month and I'm hoping we get some nights like that, but even with the forward lights dimmed, I'm expecting too much light pollution.

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2 minutes ago, joshvc said:

Incredible! Was it this visible with the naked eye? We have forward facing rooms on Harmony next month and I'm hoping we get some nights like that, but even with the forward lights dimmed, I'm expecting too much light pollution.

As I sat on a public forward facing deck looking out into the night sky while sipping a scotch I could make out passing wisps of clouds above us.  Over time I realized one "cloud" wasn't moving and was constant.  That's when it dawned on me it might be the milky way.  I have an app that shows the position of the milky way and other celestial objects.  Sure enough, the app confirmed it was the milky way.  

Empress has forward public decks that are ideal for this since the bow is always dark at night so the bridge can see better.  That will be more of a challenge on Harmony.  Sometimes small ships are better :12_slight_smile:

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1 minute ago, JLMoran said:

Stunning! Was this the RX100 on the mini tripod, or the A III?

A7III

Full frame with ultra wide angle lens are the best for astrophotography.  

If weather holds I may try again depending on ship heading.  I'll think about giving the RX100 a shot.

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Loving this blog..able to see all the picture too for some reason..yeah!!!

 

I really hope to get on Empress....she looks like a nice and clean ship. Reminds me of my first cruise ever on Monarch in a way.

 

Very impressed too with the late nite food option..perhaps Royal is getting better at this.

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31 minutes ago, monctonguy said:

Loving this blog..able to see all the picture too for some reason..yeah!!!

 

I really hope to get on Empress....she looks like a nice and clean ship. Reminds me of my first cruise ever on Monarch in a way.

 

Very impressed too with the late nite food option..perhaps Royal is getting better at this.

She's coming to Montreal, will execute a couple cruises from there, Quebec City too.  While not at your backdoor, at least they are sailing from the right country :) 

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