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Thanking my lucky STARS that cruising is back (a Symphony Star Class family blog)


Tiffeven
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Day 4: 

Today was the first port stop (St. Maarten), and Steven and I intended to go to Maho Beach.  Steven did his morning run around the track, and then I went to the gym where I noticed some of the crew were doing safety drills in the gym.  

After the gym, I headed back to the cabin for breakfast.  Again, they had set it up with a tablecloth.  I went with a healthier breakfast this morning and was enjoying my hummus and celery and fruit, when it started raining and the wind picked up.  The next thing you know our plates started flying off the table.  We gathered up everything as quickly as we could and brought it inside.  With the weather as bad as it was, we ruled out Maho Beach.  We called Sunil and asked for recommendations of things to do on the ship with the kids since the weather was so bad.  The only thing open that would interest them was Adventure Ocean and they were asking to go, so we got ready to leave.  Before we could leave, Sunil showed up to the room with a ship-wide scavenger hunt to entertain the kids.  They were already set on Adventure Ocean, so we headed there, but we plan on doing the scavenger hunt if we have time.  By the time we dropped them off, it had stopped raining so we decided to head to Maho Beach after all.  We got to the taxi, and the guy talked us out of going.  He said it was slower than usual and he recommended going a different day.  We were ok with this since we go back in November.  Later, we found out the real reason was most of the taxi drivers didn't want to go to Maho after the bad weather because they didn't want to get stuck.

We took a taxi from port to downtown.   We made the mistake of asking to go somewhere downtown that was where the locals shop and eat.  Next time, we'll stick to the touristy area, as what we saw was not what we expected from an island paradise.  Then, we got lost and wandered around until we eventually found the touristy area.  We did a little shopping, stopped for ice cream and ham croque monsieur, and then visited the yoda guy museum.  The price for the museum is $15 per person.  If you buy something or go through the museum he will take a picture with you otherwise you are out of lucky.  We decided we'd walk back to the ship instead of taking a taxi.  It was longer than it looked but not too bad, and we passed a cheese shop on the way, so we stopped and got some goat cheese for Sunil.  I asked on the Star Class facebook page before the trip for gift recommendations for Sunil, and someone mentioned that he liked goat cheese.  Turns out they were right.  He was super excited when we gave it to him.  He has been great, and we were very happy to get something for him as much as he has done to make our trip special.

Getting back on board was a breeze, there wasn't any crowds and you have to quickly pull down your mask when they scan your seapass card when getting back on the ship, so they can match the picture they have of you with your face.  While in St. Maartin, you have to wear a mask when entering stores or using public transportation but not outside.

Breakfast:

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Grandeur was beside us:

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Some of what we saw where we got dropped off (definitely not what we were expecting):

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A different view of the island:

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Ham Croque Monsieur from Happy Days Cafe in St. Maartin:

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Yoda guy museum:

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Steven and me:

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59 minutes ago, Jkaczano said:

I’m really surprised that the crew member would think it was ok to tell anyone that they needed to move - star class or not.  If that passenger wanted to sit with her party so badly, she should have gotten there when they did, or the whole party should move to where there is enough seats to accommodate them all.  Looks like there was plenty of room in the back. I hope Sunil educates her. 

I agree.  Even if we weren't Star Class, I would be offended if someone asked me to give up my seats for someone who barely made it to the show in time.  The people in the front rows are either ones who paid for the perk (Star Class or suites), earned it through being a loyal member (like Pinnacles getting to arrive at the theater earlier than most guests), or those who got to the theater early enough to get a good seat and then waited for the show.  Like you said, there was plenty of other empty seats, but some people just have some nerve.

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6 hours ago, Jkaczano said:

I’m really surprised that the crew member would think it was ok to tell anyone that they needed to move - star class or not.  If that passenger wanted to sit with her party so badly, she should have gotten there when they did, or the whole party should move to where there is enough seats to accommodate them all.  Looks like there was plenty of room in the back. I hope Sunil educates her. 

Came here to write the same. It's a very entitled thing to make other people move at their discomfort to make your own comfort. 

Star Class isn't new either so not sure why staff isn't aware. 

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I guess with all the new contracts they haven't had time to train them on SC. But also it really grinds my gears when entitled people expect others to honor their request. This is not the first blog I have read where people have disregarded the rules for shows. Also yeah most of those island are mad sketchy and the locals live like paupers.  

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Day 4 continued:

After getting back on the ship, we went to dinner at Jaime's Italian.  The service was great, but we were not fans of the food.  Giovannis on Allure was much better.  Sunil had arranged for Boodhoo to be our server, and he did a great job.  For my meal, I had the crispy squid, black truffle arancini, lamb chops scottaditto, and the classic tiramisu.  Steven had the posh fries and the baked lasagna.  We also shared the ultimate garlic bread, the funky fries, crispy polenta chips, and their famous meat plank.  The one part of the meal that I really enjoyed was the crispy squid.  I could have ate another plate of it as good as it was.  The rest of the food just wasn't our cup of tea, but I've heard other people say they enjoyed it, so don't let our review stop anyone from trying it as everyone's tastes are different.

After dinner, we met Sunil at Studio B for our ice skating session.  Sessions were 20 minutes long, and I'm not sure what the limit was but when we were skating, there was the 6 of us plus around 6 to 8 other people.  When ice skating, you have to wear a helmet, and they do have knee and elbow pads available but they are not required.  This was the kid's first time ice skating, and we spent the entire time helping the babies, so we had Sunil schedule us again for 8:30pm.  Sophia wanted to go to Adventure Ocean, so when we went back, it was just Steven, Christian, and me.  This time there was probably less than 10 people including us total.  On the way to Studio B, we noticed the new Pinnacle Club Lounge, and for those who are wondering, it is at Jazz on 4 (from 5pm-8pm) which is near the Diamond Club.

When we returned to the room, we decided we'd order room service.  We ordered steak quesadillas, hot chicken wings, and cheesecake.  Again, it was delicious.  In fact, this steak quesadilla may have even been better than the one the other day and I thought that one was great.

Jaime's Italian:

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New Pinnacle Club Lounge (from 5pm-8pm):

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Second towel animal of the cruise:

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Day 5:

Usually I message Sunil exactly what we want delivered for breakfast the next morning, but last night I told him the same thing as yesterday morning.  Of course, it was not exactly the same thing.  Steven didn't get his jalapenos in his eggs or his hot sauce on the side and I didn't get my celery (I dip it in hummus).  There was also a few other slight inconsistencies in the meal, but it was still good.  I think I will just stick to listing out our breakfast order each morning instead as that seems to work better.  

After breakfast, we dropped off the kids at Adventure Ocean and Royal Babies and Tots and headed into port.  St. Thomas was already much prettier than St. Maarten, and we were excited to get off the ship and explore.  We had three hours of Adventure Ocean scheduled, so we were limited on what we could do in port.  We still were undecided on Skyride to Paradise Point or Mountain Top, but the first person we saw selling excursions was a man selling Island Tours that including Mountain Top that was about two hours long, so we figured it was meant to be.  It was $25 per person, and it was informative and allowed us to see some pretty views of the island.  The last stop was Mountain Top.  We were only there for a short time, and between the view and the gift shop, I wish we could have spent more time there but it worked out since we were limited on time anyway.  After the tour, we headed back on the ship and getting back on board was a breeze with no lines which we appreciated since it had just started raining really hard.

While in St. Thomas, you are required to wear a mask even outside whether you are vaccinated or not.  I saw people getting told to pull up their masks multiple times.  They didn't say anything if you took it off for a quick picture, but anything longer than that, they would.  Overall, we really liked what we saw of St. Thomas, but there was a lot we didn't get to, so we look forward to coming back.

St. Thomas:

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Day 5 continued:

As I've mentioned before, we are calling this cruise a birthday cruise for the family.  It really isn't any of our birthdays, but the kids have all had birthday cruises canceled because of the shut-down and they have been upset about that, so we told them when we eventually get to cruise again, we'd have a birthday celebration cruise.  When we got back onboard, Sunil had left us a surprise.

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Day 5 continued:

Dinner tonight was at Wonderland.   It was our first time there, and it was a lot of fun.  We booked it for the experience not necessarily for the food.  The service was great, and the food wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.   It definitely was interesting and very different, but I did enjoy some of the food.  For the food alone, I doubt I'd book Wonderland; but between the food and the experience, I would go back.  I honestly couldn't tell you half of what we ate as we went with the server's recommendations.  At Wonderland, you choose an element or you let them pick and bring out the favorites or recommendations which ends up including foods from all of the elements.  They brought Steven's and my food out as they normally would and gave Steven extra sriracha when we told them the spicier the food the better for him.  For the kids, they left out any ingredients that would make it spicy.  We had the kids try a lot of the food, but they were not fans of Wonderland until they brought them cotton candy.  They also brought us an apple happy birthday cake and the kids got to blow out the candles.

We ran into @Traveler at dinner and then again at the casino after we dropped the kids off at Adventure Ocean.  After losing a little money, we were tired and decided to call it a night.

Wonderland:

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Us with @Traveler:

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7 hours ago, Traveler said:

Just for the record , this is not traveler , this is traveler after  two weeks of B2B and endless food 🙂

It was very nice meeting you again.

Haha! I feel you.  I stepped on the scale at the gym on Day 3 and was already up 7 lbs.  I can only imagine what it is now lol.  

It was also very nice seeing you guys again.  Have a great rest of the cruise!

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5 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

Haha! I feel you.  I stepped on the scale at the gym on Day 3 and was already up 7 lbs.  I can only imagine what it is now lol.

I would wager a LOT of that is water retention. The cruise ship food is good, a UDP can translate into a lot of calories, sure. But I found it all to be noticeably more salty than I'm used to cooking at home. Betting that after a week of eating that much added salt, anyone's weight would be spiking up some.

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2 hours ago, JLMoran said:

I would wager a LOT of that is water retention. The cruise ship food is good, a UDP can translate into a lot of calories, sure. But I found it all to be noticeably more salty than I'm used to cooking at home. Betting that after a week of eating that much added salt, anyone's weight would be spiking up some.

I do believe some of it is water retention, but most of it is weight gain.  I'm the same way at home.  It should not be scientifically possible to gain weight like I do, but atleast, I have almost two months to lose it before I pig out on the next cruise.

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Day 6:

Today is a mixed bag of emotions.  We are, of course, so happy to be on a cruise, but today is the last sea day and tomorrow is the last full day of the cruise, so we are starting to get the "cruise is almost over" blues.  I feel like there is so much still to do onboard.  It really is amazing how much there is to do on an Oasis Class ship.  We decided we'd use the first part of the day to try to do some activities that we haven't got to yet, so after breakfast, we set out to have some fun.

Christian wanted to do the zipline, so we headed there.  It was supposed to close at 11:45am, and Christian and I got there at 11:25am.  The height requirement is 52 inches, and he was plenty tall enough; but the weight requirement is 75 lbs and he was 74.2 lbs.  Steven showed up 2 minutes later and took him to get a water at the bar right near us to see if it would push him over the 75 lbs.  While I was getting my harness on for the zip line, I told them that Steven also was wanting to ride and Christian wanted to try to weigh himself again.  They told me they weren't taking anyone else,and this was at 11:34am which is 11 minutes before they were supposed to close.  I know I could have called Sunil, but figured I'd just mention it to him later.  The Ultimate Abyss is right near the zip line and it was another thing on our to-do list for the day, so Steven, Christian, and I all rode it.  It was slower than I expected after all the youtube videos I've seen, but I was told the humidity can affect the speed.  It was still fun though, and Christian rode it twice. 

We passed the pool deck at one point and were so surprised at what we saw.  We counted 33 people in one pool at the same time.  I guess they are loosening some of the restrictions.  In addition, almost all of the pool deck chairs were taken.  It almost felt like pre-Covid times seeing everyone out on the deck having a blast. 

We then went to Sugar Beach, before heading to our room for lunch delivery from Johnny Rockets and a surprise from Sunil.

Zip line and Ultimate Abyss:

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How has the experience been for you two youngest? Were scheduled for a Christmas cruise with our two (2&3) in the RLS on Anthem. They can barely tolerate the tests on land - Im having some serious reservations about having them tested 4 times for a 7 day cruise (3 days before, On board, and then day 3,6). This is also my wife and I's first cruise and I dont want to ruin our experience. 

 

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1 hour ago, CBlasek said:

How has the experience been for you two youngest? Were scheduled for a Christmas cruise with our two (2&3) in the RLS on Anthem. They can barely tolerate the tests on land - Im having some serious reservations about having them tested 4 times for a 7 day cruise (3 days before, On board, and then day 3,6). This is also my wife and I's first cruise and I dont want to ruin our experience. 

 

I was worried about the testing as well, but they have done great.  We only have had to do it three times though: three days before, at the terminal before boarding, and then on day 7 (tomorrow morning).  It is really fast so I would not let the testing alone be your determining factor.  After this experience, I am 100% doing my Star Class cruise in November.  I had contemplating doing this one with all of the restrictions and testing requirements, and I'm so glad I did.  We have had so much fun, and our genie, Sunil, has been amazing and has quickly resolved any issues we've had.  All of the kids have had a complete blast.  The older kids miss some of the stuff from before, but are still having a wonderful time.  The little ones are going to be so sad when they find out we have to get off the ship on Saturday as they are loving every minute of the cruise.  In fact, Kat (2 year old) keeps drawing us pictures of the cruise, and she always draws us her favorite things.

Honestly,  my recommendation would be to wait until the protocols for your sailing are released and decide then if you still want to cruise.  Even on this cruise, the rules are changing every day.  Many of them have gotten way more lax.  As I mentioned in my earlier blog posts, a few days ago, they were only allowing 5 people in the pool at a time, and then, today I passed the pool and there were 33 people in it (31 at another time, and there's a picture below of the third time we passed by).  Also, on day one, genies were not allowed to sign your kids in and out of Adventure Ocean,  but now with parent's permission, they can.  Things are constantly changing, and as annoying as the wait and see approach is, right now, it's for the best.

One of the times I walked past the pool today and it's much different than just a few day ago:

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Day 6 continued:

When we got back to the room, Sunil had a surprise waiting.  Right now, they are not allowed to do the cupcake decorating class, and he told me he had tried his best but they aren't allowing it, so he did the next best thing and brought us the stuff to do cupcake decorating.  The kids were so excited, and they had a lot of fun decorating and eating cupcakes.  This was not something we asked for.  It was just yet another thing Sunil did to make the trip special.  He also got Steven and me a ship model, but he went one step further and had it signed by the Captain.  The kids have already told us they want to request Sunil when we go back on Symphony in April and we are in complete agreement with them.

Cupcake decorating:

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