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IRMO12HD

Cruising for a Cause – Full Ship Charter, High Seas Rally (Brilliance of the Seas)

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High Seas Rally (30 November - 7 December 2019)

 

In case you ever wondered what a full ship charter is like – I’ll be chronicling this, our third High Seas Rally, and 2nd time on Brilliance of the Seas as a full ship charter.  A few quick notes.  This is a biker-oriented cruise, but with an awesome cause.  Many people don’t realize just how giving motorcyclists tend to be . . . whether it’s looking out for another rider on the road, swarming with support at funerals and memorials for military veterans and community heroes, or donating to a cause, bikers are super generous as a group.  This cruise’s whole purpose is to support dialysis patients.  In fact, each HSR cruise hosts at least 8-10 dialysis patients and their caregivers ON THE CRUISE!  Yes, these patients receive dialysis while on the Brilliance – and they and their caregiver pay $0.00 – yeah, nothing!  On the last cruise in 2017, in addition to hosting our dialysis guests, we raised over $700,000.00 for kidney dialysis.

With three days before we leave for Tampa, most of my prep work is done -- well, except for actually packing the suitcases! Because of the theme, and the nature of the cruise 'crewmembers,' our packing differs a bit from the standard cruise.  We'll have numerous fundraising opportunities while on board -- 50/50 raffles, Pirate Bingo, Treasured Chest, and numerous other raffles for prizes.   Our formal night will be in leathers (vests), and even our shore excursions will include many biker-friendly possibilities -- like Segways on Grand Cayman and scooters on Key West.  For me, one of the most awesome opportunities is getting to meet and talk with one of the 9-10 dialysis patients who are coming with us. 

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Went to breakfast at Chops this morning and while it was better than lunch yesterday, we still had some downright cold food. The potato wedges (not that great even when they’re hot) were stone gold. Almost refrigerator cold. The orange juice was, no doubt, from a concentrate.  We were never offered any sweet rolls even though they were sitting on a table 4 feet from us.  Maybe we were supposed to help ourselves. We did not leave hungry.  “It’ll make a turd”, one of Happy Dan’s favorite euphemisms.  

The service was also surprisingly sluggish which made no sense as we were 2 of 4 happy souls dining at the time.

I know I sound like a bitcher, which I’m actually not.. but I will admit that as I get older, my tolerance for poor service has taken a nose dive.  I will be in the “You kids get off my lawn !” Club very soon. Happy Dan is already a founding member.  
 

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I overheard the only other customers in the place, discussing with our waiter, the fact that the breakfast serving staff in Chops are not dedicated Chops servers, but rather staff from Izumi, Giovannis and Chops that rotate to cover this special breakfast.  I guess that makes sense. It also may explain the spotty service but it still sucks  

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🎶 Only Four More Days Until We Go On Brilliance!!  Only Four Short Days 'til We Cruise!!! 🎶

 

Two days before we leave for Tampa -- well, make that 1 good night's sleep, 1 day, and then a very short night's sleep before we catch our O'dark 30 flight.  I've been watching the weather reports pretty closely, but think we'll be all right getting from Eastern Washington to Western Washington, and then down to Western Florida . . .  Had a bunch of stuff to get done around the house today, and so my suitcase is still sitting on the bed waiting to be filled.  Another thing that needs to be filled . . . In looking at other Live Blogs, I realized that I haven't filled in too many details about our itinerary, so here goes!

  • Sailing:  November 30 – December 7, 2019, Brilliance of the Seas, 7 Night Western Caribbean cruise
  • Sailing with:   Me, my husband, and about 1780 of our new biker friends-to-be!
  • Flying from:  Pasco, Washington (yes, the state of Washington; 120 miles away from that city and university that Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t believe exists)!  
  • Pre-cruise hotel:  Marriott Waterside in Tampa (with about 1,000 of our new biker friends-to-be)

Itinerary:

Day 1 – Tampa
Day 2 – At Sea
Day 3 – Georgetown, Grand Cayman
Day 4 – Cozumel 
Day 5 – At Sea
Day 6 - - Key West, Florida
Day 7 – At Sea
Day 8 -- Tampa

Cabin:  Junior Suite – our first one!
Pre-purchases: We got a decent price on an internet package at $12/day and my husband and I will both have the Deluxe Beverage package.  We loved the Segway excursion in Grand Cayman so are repeating it.  In Cozumel, I’ll be exploring the Amazing River.  In Key West, we’ll just kind of party with everyone else; plus, we will participate in a gigantic T-shirt swap!  Oh, and I booked the Ship All-Access Tour for myself -- one of my cruise bucket list items, believe it or not!

First departure from an "ordinary" cruise -- we'll be greeted in line by raffle ticket sales for both cruises and 50/50 drawings.  These are the first examples of the fundraising that goes on during the High Seas Rally.  It's not unusual for the the first 50/50 drawing to involve thousands (yes, $x000.00s) of dollars to the winner (and therefore a like # of thousands to the dialysis fund).

 

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Eight hours until wheels leave the tarmac -- and my checklist is complete!

  • Packed
  • Got passport!
  • Household tasks complete
  • Uber scheduled
  • Got cash *

So all of these are pretty common checklist items (trust me, I didn't include the whole list -- I could be typing forever, and you'd fall asleep before you got through it!).  The reason I put a star by the last one is because I don't usually carry much cash (much to my husband's chagrin), but for this cruise, I will!

Remember those fundraising raffles?  They start the minute we start the boarding process -- and I want to be ready!  Here's a picture from the 2017 Pirate Bingo event; photo credit is to the HIGH SEAS RALLY'S T.V. CREW, and I found the picture at https://www.usatoday.com/picture-gallery/travel/cruises/2019/07/03/themed-cruises-wacky-time-at-sea-from-knitting-to-disco/1628552001/.  Yup, I didn't know that we made USA Today!  

I wish I had one of the 50/50 raffles -- those wads of cash are too big for most hands to hold!  Again, it's for a great cause -- and the interesting thing is, although the stories in the news focus on the parties and the <interesting> competitions during the Rally, the charitable functions are often overlooked.  It's not just the money raised that should get attention -- it's the impact that the rally has on people's lives.  This video from the 2013 High Seas Rally (on Freedom of the Seas, before the HSR moved to a full ship charter) shows that impact.  You can see it at 

 

 

Time to go to bed!

 

Biker Pirate Bingo_.jpg

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Wow, it's already Day 3!  How to summarize?

Day 1: 

Embarkation went smoothly, besides actually getting on the ship itself! We took the trolley (free!) From right outside the Marriott to Stop #7 -- Cumberland Ave -- right across the parking lot from Terminal 3.  Aside from one grumpy Xray operator, Security was effective and pleasant. From Marriott to check in was about 30 minutes total (including the obligatory group photo before entering the terminal.

Getting on the ship was a mess - not RCCL's fault -- lots of new cruisers, not a commanding voice on the PA system, and a lack of understanding of C&A boarding priorities.  

We made it though; grabbed table and chairs on the Pool Deck, and launched our drink packages.  And yes, I had a  Kummelweck!

Cabins were ready at 1 (we boarded about 11)  and we had our bags by 3 pm

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Day 1 - Embarkation (cont,

 

Enjoyed a sailaway party zs we pulled out of Port Tampa with a beautiful sunset just beginning to show a hint of its colors.

Ate in the MDR with friends, two of whom are HSR 'Virgins;' -- it's their first High Seas Rally, so they get to wear orange wristbands. Although it may sound like a stigma, it's really not -- it's kind of a license to make mistakes;-)

We had the first HSR Giveaway show of the cruise. Remember that fundraising aspect?  The first 50/50 drawing was worth $10,420.00!!  Between that and the other raffles going on that first Day, over $16,000.00 was raised for dialysis -- in just ONE day!

 

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3 minutes ago, IRMO12HD said:

Day 1 - Embarkation (cont,

 

Enjoyed a sailaway party zs we pulled out of Port Tampa with a beautiful sunset just beginning to show a hint of its colors.

Ate in the MDR with friends, two of whom are HSR 'Virgins;' -- it's their first High Seas Rally, so they get to wear orange wristbands. Although it may sound like a stigma, it's really not -- it's kind of a license to make mistakes;-)

We had the first HSR Giveaway show of the cruise. Remember that fundraising aspect?  The first 50/50 drawing was worth $10,420.00!!  Between that and the other raffles going on that first Day, over $16,000.00 was raised for dialysis -- in just ONE day!

 

That is so awesome. 

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Day2 - At Sea

Sheesh! Am I ever going to catch up??!!  It's really Day 4, so I'll give a quick review of Days 2 and 3, In my defense, I'm typing with my thumbs on my Samsung Tab A.

Day 2- woke up at 8:11; remembered I had volunteered to sell raffle tickets from 9-11. No time for coffee, let alone breakfast so I hastened to my post in the Centrum. Sold about 180 raffle tickets (pretty good odds -- 1 in 200 chance of winning $2000 at $20/ticket (did i mention how generous bikers can be?). Brunch in the WJ, dinner in the MDR.  Still waiting for crab cakes to appear on the menu.  No dice but there was lobster (or mzy e crawfish on steroids).  I tried to be good, and had one lobster tail and herb crusted salmon (really good!). Early shore excursion the next day so went to bed early.

 

Day 3

Oooffff!  5:45 came way too Early! 0645 (that's military for 6:45 am) show up time in the Pacifica Theater for our Segway tour on Grand Cayman, It was great, just like last time, and we got to ride on the beach ( I didn't know the can go through (shallow) water, but they can!  Walked around Georgetown looking for a new smaller SD card for my camera -- it's an older DSLR that doesn't like the 16GB card in it now -- but no dice, do I'm stuck with my phone (or this tablet) for now.  Dinner in the Windjammer -- including some awesome Caribbean meat pies -- and then an early night.  

 

 

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Wheshewww!  I know that's not a word, but it's what I'm feeling -- I definitely have a lot to learn about creating and completing a live blog!  Got home at 1 a.m.  Will update my not-so-live blog after a few hours of sleep -- with pictures!  To bed now, though.

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