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twangster

​​​​​​​Empress 8 Night Eastern Caribbean 🎵​​​​​​​ Oops, I Booked it Again 🎵​​​​​​​

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12 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Did I mention that I want to cruise like @twangster?!  So jealous. Remember the lowly Diamonds when you make Pinnacle. At your cruising rate, that should be soon 😆

I want to cruise like both of you. We are lowly Platinum and will be 20 points from Diamond once our trips end in two weeks. 20 points away 😭😭😭

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My flight was supposed to be early but with storms in the South Florida area they had us slow down and we landed on time.  Woohoo, my suitcase was the very first bag on the carousel.  

With ample time to spare I took the Tri-Rail from FLL airport down to MIA airport.  I was just going to sit in my hotel room anyways so I figured I'd take the slower but cheaper way to my hotel.  From MIA I picked up the free hotel shuttle to my hotel.

My Tri-Rail timing was pretty good.  A short wait for the bus to the train station.  The train pulled up as I bought my ticket at the station.  

Total cost $3.75.  Uber/Lyft were both just under $50.  

Safely in my hotel near MIA airport I used my savings to pay for a hotel dinner and drinks which make on board ship prices seem like a bargain.

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7 minutes ago, twangster said:

My flight was supposed to be early but with storms in the South Florida area they had us slow down and we landed on time.  Woohoo, my suitcase was the very first bag on the carousel.  

With ample time to spare I took the Tri-Rail from FLL airport down to MIA airport.  I was just going to sit in my hotel room anyways so I figured I'd take the slower but cheaper way to my hotel.  From MIA I picked up the free hotel shuttle to my hotel.

My Tri-Rail timing was pretty good.  A short wait for the bus to the train station.  The train pulled up as I bought my ticket at the station.  

Total cost $3.75.  Uber/Lyft were both just under $50.  

Safely in my hotel near MIA airport I used my savings to pay for a hotel dinner and drinks which make on board ship prices seem like a bargain.

We're flying into FLL in December, to get on Oasis in Miami.  We were planning on staying the night in Ft. Lauderdale & hitting up one of our fav restaurants on LasOlas then making our way to Miami in the morning.  Loving the Tri-Rail idea instead of the Uber/Lyft, but we'd have the additional costs of back and forth to the airports.  Hmmmm.  It may be an idea for the trip back to FLL after the cruise, where we want to end up at the airport.  Decisions, decisions.  

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August 10, 2019

You know what that means?

IT'S CRUISE DAY!

Like a kid on Christmas morning it's 6am, I'm awake and ready to go.  It looks like the C&A team has been busy putting presents in my account.  Overnight my points from last week have posted, including the solo-in-a-suite gift.

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When cruising in hurricane season I always keep an eye on the tropics.  While only early August this is a great thing to see.  Tropical cyclone activity is not expected during the next 5 days.

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Looking at the MarineTraffic.com app I've caught Empress gliding past Symphony as she arrives into the Port of Miami this morning.

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I'm here.  The ship is here.  There are no tropical storms on the radar screen.  Phew!

Can you tell I'm bored with nothing to do?  Tick tock.  Tick tock.  Is it time yet?

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Good morning!  It's time again!  When you posted at the end of the last one that it was a few weeks until the next cruise, I swear those weeks have flown by.  Looking forward to hearing from you about this cruise as well!  

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Since I nearly went overboard with pictures of Empress in my previous live blog I'm going to skip all the basics about Empress in my pictures this time around.  Take a look in my previous thread if you want to see the ship (link included in first post).

If you do reply to posts with pictures please take the time to remove the pictures in your reply to keep this thread a lot easier to read. 

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I'm so jeoulous of you...but in a good way of course. 😉 That's so awesome you'll be on her again!...but with a different itinerary!

Have an amazing cruise!

P.S. - What site do you use for hurricane watches?  We'll be on Navigator in 2 weeks and crossing my fingers and toes that weather is calm and no disruptions.

 

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3 minutes ago, WannaCruise said:

I'm so jeoulous of you...but in a good way of course. 😉 That's so awesome you'll be on her again!...but with a different itinerary!

Have an amazing cruise!

P.S. - What site do you use for hurricane watches?  We'll be on Navigator in 2 weeks and crossing my fingers and toes that weather is calm and no disruptions.

 

Thanks!

I have an app called "Hurricane" that I use but it draws many of it's graphics from the National Hurricane Center offered ny NOAA.  nhc.noaa.gov

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@twangster  I am sorry if this has already been covered many times over, but searching this RCB has not helped me.  Did you get double C&A point for your Empress Junior Suite (either J3 or J4 cats)?  I am looking at next year's June 22 sailing.  Thanks!

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10 minutes ago, YOLO said:

@twangster  I am sorry if this has already been covered many times over, but searching this RCB has not helped me.  Did you get double C&A point for your Empress Junior Suite (either J3 or J4 cats)?  I am looking at next year's June 22 sailing.  Thanks!

Actually I received triple points because I was solo in a Junior Suite.  When not occupied by a solo guest a Junior Suite would give you double points.  

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Quick update.  

Uber to port had me there just before 10am.  I took the opportunity to take some pictures of terminal G, I’ll post those soon.  

Boarding started at 10:45am.  First on board.  I ran into the Pinnacle doing a B4B who was with me on my B2B.  Julie our Hotel Director saw me and came over to chat greeting me by name.  There will be 12 pinnacles on this sailing.  It’s also the last cruise of her current contract.  Jorge the Guest Services Manager saw me and welcomed me back.  

Right now I’m sitting at the Schooner Bar where Wayan and Roland recognized me and welcomed me back.   

Just like that I feel like I’m home.   

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On 8/9/2019 at 4:06 PM, twangster said:

Plans for this Cruise

Only one excursion booked so far.  A day trip to Jost Van Dyke in the BVI from Tortola.

I'm happy to read another awesome Twangster blog also.  I'm intrigued/interested to get some updates on BVI/Tortola.  I hope you have time to get pics of the port/town and your overview of the island.  Your excursion sounds great too.  We haven't been to BVI in over 5 years.  It would be interesting to get your perspective always on the changes and hopefully void of lingering hurricane damage since you were last there.  Happy cruising!  Michelle

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Day 1 Embarkation

A first glimpse of Empress at Terminal G from my Uber.

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Terminal G

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The entrance to the building normally has some signage but in this early hour you had to know where to go.

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Terminal G check in area.

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Suites and Pinnacles have a small waiting lounge.

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Boarding started at 10:45am.  

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Woohoo!  I am officially on a cruise!

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Welcome aboard cake.

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Up on deck 11 I noted they were working on the satellite antennas.

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The nature of the internet interruptions I experienced on the last cruise had the feeling of maybe an amplifier or LNB overheating and failing before coming back into service.  I'm hoping this new component might help.

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Who knew two full grown men could fit into the dome?  They were contractors on the ship for the day.

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In this Miami heat it's got to be hot in there.

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Guilford the Inventory Manager came through for me.  On my last cruise he promised there would be Guinness and it was there waiting for me.

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Some of the other beers available.

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Some of the wines available.

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Empress has a Coffee Shop near the entrance within Boleros.

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Cabin Tour!

As we waited for cabins to become available at 1:30pm I was waiting in the elevator lobby near my cabin.  As the hall door was opened by crew moving luggage, James my new cabin attendant spotted me.  He was servicing the block of cabins right beside my last cabin so he recognized me.  He waved me through telling me my cabin was ready.  Nice touch.

Junior Suite 9600 Starboard.

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This JS is the reverse layout from my last JS.

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Pretty much identical with the same "efficient" bathroom and shower.

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Walk in closet.

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I waited until we had left the port to take balcony pictures.  This cabin is the most forward JS on deck 9 so the balcony doesn't have a divider on the forward side.  You do lose a small corner and the elevator lobby can see this balcony but the forward view is better.

The better sea views can also be enjoyed when sitting on the sofa inside the cabin.

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The pool deck above narrows so the overhang is slightly smaller.  The view aft.

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The view down.

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Something I forgot to mention in my last Empress thread are the USB outlets.  They are found on the bottom of the lights on each side of the bed.  It's a great hidden feature.

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It's really nice having USB outlets on both sides of the bed.

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Another hidden discovery is that Wow! bands can be used to access your cabin.

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Unfortunately when used in this fashion anyone on the ship can use your Wow! band to access your cabin.

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Okay, that's a lame joke but I was enjoying drinks at the Schooner Bar up to this point...

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Crown and Anchor sail away party deck 6 aft, Diamond and higher.

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I ran into the IT Manager and asked him if his O3b upgrade came through.  Nope.  The contractors I saw working are doing some routine maintenance replacing some components with a goal to improve reception when one set of antennas is blocked.  That's an issue at CocoCay with other larger ships beside us - they block one set of satellite antennas.  

We talked about Voom and I learned a few new things.  Empress shares transponders with a few other ships.  Navigator and Mariner use the same transponder.  Other groups of ships share different transponders.  For this legacy satellite system a different satellite covers the Western Caribbean compared to the Eastern Caribbean.  We'll use the same satellite for the entirety of this cruise.  On the last cruise in the Western Caribbean we switched satellites during the cruise.  

In terms of rain fade he pointed out something I should have thought of.  What goes up must come down.  Speedcast and O3b have their primary earth station in Miami.  Our data traffic comes down in Miami as a gateway to reach the internet.  If Miami is encountering bad weather like a line of strong thunderstorms that can impact every ships Voom even if the ships are in sunny skies a thousand miles away.  It was obvious when he said it but I had never thought about it.

The bridge has some data feeds that use a different satellite platform but if the Captain wants to stream Netflix in his cabin that uses the same Voom the rest of us use.

With the darkening skies over Miami as we pulled out I wonder if some ship somewhere is experiencing a Voom slow down.

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Rain moving in.  Time to move to the Schooner Bar.

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Dinner at Chops

I was offered a window table but they were pretty busy so I chose one row back so someone else can enjoy the windows this time.  Still a great view.

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Bread of course.

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Wedge Salad.

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Beef Carpaccio. 

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The 16 oz. bone in.  Yum.

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The sundae again.

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