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twangster

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

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Day 3 - Midday

Pool deck is popular.

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Carving demonstration in the Centrum.

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Trivia in the Schooner Bar.  That's Brittney our Sports Deck Manager.  Her parents were on for the 2nd leg of my B2B last cruise. 

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Beer sale!  

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It's views like this I really appreciate on Empress.  The deck 6 Centrum doors to the outdoor deck that wraps around the ship.  The sea feels like it's right there.

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4 hours ago, twangster said:

Because I am a certified scuba diver I have more expensive gear I use to snorkel.  

The biggest thing with any snorkel equipment is finding a mask that fits the face.  Nothing is more aggravating than having water trickling in constantly while snorkelling.  Each face is different so there is no one answer to what is best.

I would also add that facial hair, especially mustaches below the nose will be troublesome if you want a good seal.  

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Day 3 continued...

Forgot to post the rainbow at sea this morning.

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Lots of sargassum at sea.  They don't call this the Sargasso Sea for no reason.  That's the Atlantic for you.  This is the source of that stuff that lands on beaches like Florida and Costa Maya.

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Top Tier at 5pm in Boleros.

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730 total Crown and Anchor members.  That's up quite a bit from the last sailing.

412 Gold 130 Platinum, 49 Emerald, 91 Diamond, 36 Diamond Plus, 12 Pinnacle

944 new to Royal this cruise.

Main theater show tonight is a new act that wasn't on my previous B2B.  Replacing the hypnotist we have The Dangerous Comedy of Wilde and James.  Juggling three knives on a unicycle. Yep, that just happened.

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Captain's address.  Guest cout 1,674.  Top speed for Empress is 19 knots and we are running at that speed today.  The Captain announced we should have an extra hour in San Juan.  With a scheduled arrival at 3pm we should be at the pier and ready to go closer to 2pm.

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Saw this as I walked through the smoke free casino.

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@JLMoran asked me if they ever have a piano player in the MDR during dinner.  

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I was fortunate enough to be picked for the Hotel Director's Table once again.  I learned that it's not always just the top elite that get invited based on numbers.  The Captain or Hotel Director has the ability to choose. 

Once again Jorge our Guest Services Manager joined us.  This is the last cruise for Julie our Hotel Director and Jorge as well.  While Julie goes home for 2 months Jorge is heading to Majesty for a few months.   

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Some of my tablemates tonight were the pier runners at CocoCay.  Long story.  The ship called one of their emergency contacts when they were late.  Another step in the protocol I didn't know about.

I asked Julie about the previous Eastern cruise when guests were left at CocoCay.  She confirmed there were 3 guests involved and they all made their way to San Juan at their expense.  They contacted Mariner first and confirmed they had space before leaving the guests.  When the decision to skip San Juan due to civil unrest was made it was Jorge who contacted the port agent to make arrangements to get the guests over to the BVI at Royal's expense. 

I asked about the process when a guest misses the ship.  Multiple security wearing body cameras enter their cabin.  They document everything on camera.  They will open the safe and look for passports, wallet, credit cards and money.  Money is counted very visibly on camera.  They collect it all and put it in a bag.  If they see diapers in a cabin of missing guests they'll grab some of those too.  Everything is put in a bag and readied to be handed off to the local port agent.  

She said when a guest does make it at the last second (pier runner) it's very sobering for them to see their stuff in a sealed bag when they realize how close they came to missing the ship.  If a guest does miss the ship they hand the sealed package to the port agent who later gives it to the guest.  In the case of the last cruise and missing CocoCay guests the sealed packages were left with Mariner's security team.

Julie is very personable and it was interesting to hear more stories from her lengthy time at sea starting as a revenue manager.  She shared a picture a friend (crew) on Mariner took using a drone showing Empress and Mariner at the pier in CocoCay.  She airdropped the photo to me so I airdropped the Milky Way photo from my Empress Western cruise the week before back to her.  Since the drone photo isn't my picture I'm not going to share it here but it's a pretty cool picture. 

Some of my table mates will be on a Navigator B2B I have coming up.  Another will be on a Vision Panama cruise coming up with me.   Last cruise a table mate at the HD Table will be on an Oasis B3B with me later this year.  You meet so many nice people at these events and I greatly appreciate the invitation. 

Once again we were presented with a memento of our dinner experience.

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Loyalty does pay.

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2 hours ago, twangster said:

I was fortunate enough to be picked for the Hotel Director's Table once again.  I learned that it's not always just the top elite that get invited based on numbers.  The Captain or Hotel Director has the ability to choose. 

Out of curiosity, other than you, were the rest Pinnacle?

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9 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Out of curiosity, other than you, were the rest Pinnacle?

Another gentleman is doing a B4B and has C&A points in the high 200s.  He was beside me at meal with an officer in the last cruise.

That itself is unique.  Meal with an officer should kick in at 340.  He was surprised he was invited.

Empress treats C&A guests very well.  

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12 minutes ago, twangster said:

Another gentleman is doing a B4B and has C&A points in the high 200s.  He was beside me at meal with an officer in the last cruise.

That itself is unique.  Meal with an officer should kick in at 340.  He was surprised he was invited.

Empress treats C&A guests very well.  

Might be from the B4B 🙂

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I chatted with Julie about the lack of a Diamond event.  Internally the Crown and Anchor department carries the financial burden of Diamond Happy Hour in their budget center.  They've looked at different ideas but some of it comes down to staffing.  Empress isn't staffed to host a Diamond event.  At a minimum it takes 3 crew to host and serve a dedicated happy hour event and with fewer crew on Empress that would mean pulling crew from elsewhere causing another area to be understaffed every night.  

It's not a decision the Hotel Director can make exclusively since C&A pays for it.  They are always considering ideas and I let her know it is one of the more popular discussion points amongst Diamond and higher cruisers who consider Empress when booking a cruise.  She was curious if I thought cruisers just wanted a meeting place to see other Diamond members or if the happy hour drinks were the issue.  I suggested that the drinks beyond the 3 happy hour 'coupons' were more of a point of contention.  

I'm not sure anything will come of it but it's nice to know they are aware of how us cruisers feel and they aren't just standing on policy but are thinking about our concerns. 

Next cruise will have 18 Pinnacles.  With 12 Pinnacles on this cruise that is high for Empress (last July to Cuba there were no Pinnacles on board).  Next cruise should be interesting.

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2 hours ago, Susie said:

Might be from the B4B 🙂

I think they have a no-whiners policy.  If you are a cranky guest, you are at guest services complaining the pillowcase is too white or trying to get something for free, you might not get invited.

On a small ship it's easier for guests to get to know the management team.  The reverse is also true, the management team gets to know the guests.

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Voom update.

Day 3 Voom was pretty good all day.  

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I used day 3 as a work day and spent a lot of time on calls and using WebEx. 

Day 4 Voom still holding up.  First thing in the morning.

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Several conference calls with perfect voice calls for hours.  

Day 4 afternoon after arriving in San Juan mid afternoon.

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Fingers crossed the on/off Voom was fixed by the maintenance I saw on boarding day.

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

I asked Julie about the previous Eastern cruise when guests were left at CocoCay.

I'm just curious having not been to CocoCay.  It's an island with no airport correct or does it have one, so if you miss the ship and there isn't another one there then what? I guess you swim and use the bungalow !  LOL

Love following this. 

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11 minutes ago, Boston Babe said:

I'm just curious having not been to CocoCay.  It's an island with no airport correct or does it have one, so if you miss the ship and there isn't another one there then what? I guess you swim and use the bungalow !  LOL

Love following this. 

CocoCay has an employee population of a few hundred living on the island.  With only one ship in port it would be impossible to miss the ship.  The full time employee residents would spot you and run you the ship.

The Empress run to the Eastern Caribbean is unique because it has to leave at 3pm to make San Juan on time.  If they left at 5pm with the other ship it wouldn't be an issue because all guests would be back on board their ships and any stragglers would be immediately obvious.  

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8 hours ago, twangster said:

Some of my tablemates tonight were the pier runners at CocoCay.  Long story.  The ship called one of their emergency contacts when they were late.  Another step in the protocol I didn't know about.

I asked Julie about the previous Eastern cruise when guests were left at CocoCay.  She confirmed there were 3 guests involved and they all made their way to San Juan at their expense.  They contacted Mariner first and confirmed they had space before leaving the guests.  When the decision to skip San Juan due to civil unrest was made it was Jorge who contacted the port agent to make arrangements to get the guests over to the BVI at Royal's expense. 

I asked about the process when a guest misses the ship.  Multiple security wearing body cameras enter their cabin.  They document everything on camera.  They will open the safe and look for passports, wallet, credit cards and money.  Money is counted very visibly on camera.  They collect it all and put it in a bag.  If they see diapers in a cabin of missing guests they'll grab some of those too.  Everything is put in a bag and readied to be handed off to the local port agent.  

She said when a guest does make it at the last second (pier runner) it's very sobering for them to see their stuff in a sealed bag when they realize how close they came to missing the ship.  If a guest does miss the ship they hand the sealed package to the port agent who later gives it to the guest.  In the case of the last cruise and missing CocoCay guests the sealed packages were left with Mariner's security team.

 

Oh boy..do I forsee a passport in safe vs carry ashore debate coming up?  LOL 

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

CocoCay has an employee population of a few hundred living on the island.  With only one ship in port it would be impossible to miss the ship.  The full time employee residents would spot you and run you the ship.

The Empress run to the Eastern Caribbean is unique because it has to leave at 3pm to make San Juan on time.  If they left at 5pm with the other ship it wouldn't be an issue because all guests would be back on board their ships and any stragglers would be immediately obvious.  

You have had such amazing experiences at these "special dinners" and learned an abundance of interesting RC knowledge!  I'm so happy for you!  A huge thanks for sharing "all" of this with us!  As my Grandma would say that you, Twangster, have a kind heart for taking so much of your time to share with us!  And your pics are definitely one of a kind, too!   Michelle

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Drink sale of the day, half off Margaritas!

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My plan for this visit to San Juan was some photos during golden hour after sunset so I waited for the WJ to open at 6pm and had some dinner before venturing off.

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Walking up hill I found a view that included Empress in the distance.

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My destination was sort of El Morro and anything I happen to see along the way so I just started walking up hill vaguely in that direction snapping a few pictures along the way.

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I walked past a church with open doors so I couldn't resist a photo.

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Eventually I reached the edge of the field in front of El Morro just in time for sunset.

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Behind me the lights along the road towards Castillo San Cristóbal caught my attention so I went that way.

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I wasn't really feeling the photography juices flowing so I had to figure something out. 

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Maybe some long exposure light streaking photos would do the trick.

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This is why I love golden hour.

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Castillo San Cristóbal.  With my camera doing a 30 second exposure I used the light on my phone to "paint" the area closest to me with light.  

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Walking back to the ship I just had to capture it with some water blur effect and the nearly full moon.

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It was too early to go back on board so with several hours until all aboard time I wanted to go back to Paseo de la Princesa.

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I always enjoy stops that include the ability to take pictures of the ship at night so I couldn't let the opportunity go to waste.

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Time to head back on board.

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