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


Tiffeven
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On 9/17/2021 at 1:08 AM, Ampurp85 said:

The look so cute but I bet that sugar high....whoo!

Happy Pumped Up GIF by AT&T

Thank you and oh yes!  They were pretty wired after all that icing.

On 9/17/2021 at 9:35 AM, WAAAYTOOO said:

Wow how awesome !  What a great Genie.  The kids look like they had a BALL !

They did.  Sunil was absolutely amazing.  Despite all the restriction, he still found a way to make the trip special for all of us.

On 9/17/2021 at 10:23 AM, Marlena said:

This makes my heart smile! They take such good care of their guests and make the kids feel so special.

Yes, they do!  Royal definitely chooses the best of the best when selecting their genies.  It is incredible how they make each guest feel so special and make each experience so unique.

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Day 6 continued:

After decorating cupcakes, the kids went to Adventure Ocean and Royal Babies and Tots to burn out some energy while Steven and I rode the flowrider and all of the waterslide onboard.  The flowrider was a lot busier than it had been.  There were probably 20 people in line and another 15 or so watching when we got there. We asked the guy on one side of the flowrider where he wants us to stand or sit for Star Class priority, and he said we have to get in line with everyone else.  Of course, we knew this wasn't true, so we found a different employee who we knew was familiar with Star Class.  He said the other guy doesn't usually work there and is only there for Covid protocols.  He then went and spoke to the guy running the flowrider.  Before, they were doing 3 guests, 1 star class, 3 guests, 1 star class, etc.  This time they did 4 guests and then both Steven and me.  I guess they switch it up based on who is running the flowrider and how busy they are.  We also rode each of the waterslides.  The two enclosed waterslides called The Perfect Storm were ok.  They were pretty hot and muggy inside and not very fast.  The Supercell waterslide was our favorite on the ship, so we rode it twice.  The lines for the waterslides were way shorter than we expected especially for a sea day.  On some of the slides, there was no line at all and the longest waterslide line had maybe 3 people in it.  It seemed like the majority of people on the pool deck, were either lounging or in the pool.  Again, we didn't notice any limits for the amount of people in the pool.  We finally had a chance to try El Loco Fresh.  It was pretty standard.  If we didn't have all the specialty restaurants included, we would have probably spent more time there, but it really didn't compare to specialty dining or even the room service steak quesadillas.   It was good just not great.

El Loco Fresh:

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Day 6 continued:

We picked up the kids and asked both of the older two if they wanted to go ride the waterslides, but they opted for pizza and video games instead, so Sunil had pizza, fries, and fruit delivered to the room for them.  I really don't know what they are going to do when they get home and can't have pizza for every meal.  

Steven and I had 150 Central Park reservations for the evening.  We always try to do 150 as our date night restaurant, so we brought the kids back to Adventure Ocean and Royal Babies and Tots after a few hours.  They were excited to be back.  We met Sunil at 150 Central Park where we had a nice conversation.   Our server was very nice, but it was  much different than the other restaurants.  At the other restaurants, we had our main server taking care of us, plus other servers, and the restaurant managers would come by numerous times asking if everything was to our liking during the meals.  We even had the Mad Hatter at Wonderland serving us food and continually bringing the kids cotton candy.  At 150, our server took care of us but we really didn't have any one else stopping by the table.  We did enjoy having everyone fawn all over us at the other restaurants especially since they kept the kids occupied, but it was kind of nice having a quiet meal since the kids weren't there.  

For our meal, I had ceasar salad, seared honey glazed scallops, roasted spiced pumpkin bisque, and lobster thermidor.  Steven had ceasar salad, crispy Berkshire pork belly, and pan-seared veal medallions.  We have always really enjoyed the food at 150, and this trip was no different.  It was delicious, and we ate so much that we didn't have room for dessert.  The presentation of the food was beautiful as well.  We even pulled up a picture to compare the presentation from when we were on Allure; and while it was delicious at both, Symphony definitely wins on presentation.

On the way to get the kids, I realized we hadn't had Baked Alaska on this trip, so I messaged Sunil and asked for some to be delivered after we picked up the kids.

After picking up the kids, we returned to our room to find a towel animal surprise.  We always keep all of the towel animals, so that we have a towel animal menagerie at the end of the trip.  After the first towel animal, I put it on the desk in the master bedroom, but the next day, the room attendant took it even though it was set to the side.  I was going to ask him not to take any more, but our paths didn't cross.  We had one towel animal (our 2nd towel animal) and were getting off in port.  I was still unable to find him, so I called Sunil and asked him if he could let him know not to take the towel animal that we like to have a zoo at the end of the trip.  Sunil made sure we had our zoo, because we returned to the room to find...

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Sunil also called soon after we arrived to the room and asked if we were ready for our baked Alaska, which was yummy as always and a good end to the day.

150 Central Park:

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Baked Alaska:

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Day 7:

In the first few days of the cruise, we received a letter that we need to register for the kid's rapid antigen test for day 7.  We registered all of the kid's for the 8:30am appointment and were planning on having breakfast in our room at 9am before getting off the ship in Coco Cay.  What we didn't realize was how long the line would be.  We assumed 8:30am meant an 8:30am appointment, but the line was the longest one I have seen the entire trip.  I'm not sure about other times, but it seemed like 8am-9am was very busy.  One reason for this is we were supposed to get to Coco Cay at 10am, and kids are not allowed off the ship until they get their negative result.  It was only supposed to take about an hour for results, but we didn't get our email until almost three hours later.  It worked out ok for us though, because Steven and I were planning on getting off the ship in Coco Cay without the kids first so that we could ride the big waterslides, and then going back to get them and taking them to the waterpark.  I feel bad for anyone who was planning on taking their kids off the ship first thing though.  Keep this in mind when planning your testing.  If you are going into port and want to get off the ship early on day 7, I recommend planning your testing earlier than 8am.

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Day 7 continued:

Sunil told us to meet him in the suite lounge at 10:20am.  The genies had all of their guests do this, and then we priority elevatored down and pretty much got off the ship immediately.  There was one genie at the top elevator, one at bottom elevator,  and one right outside.  It was very quick and worked well since they could priority the elevator back and forth to get Star Class families without having to worry about it stopping on any other floor between.  Sunil said this is the first time they've done it this way, and because it worked so well, they would probably stick with it.

Coco Cay:

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Day 7 continued:

After walking down the pier, you go left to go to Coco Beach Club or straight for Thrill Waterpark.  As we were walking down the pier, we realized we had forgot our cabana tickets, but figured we'd keep going anyway.  We walked up to the entrance, they scanned our seapasses, and voila we were inside no tickets required.  We walked up to the cabana concierge, gave them our room number, and then they escorted us to our cabana and gave us a bracelet.  Sunil had reserved cabana 45, and told us this is the one they recommended when he asked for the best one.  It was in a perfect location in the waterpark.  It was right at the bottom of daredevil peak (the tallest slide) and convenient to everything in the waterpark.  It had two loungers outside, a couch and chair inside, a cooler area for water, six water bottles, a place to charge your phone, a Bluetooth speaker, a safe, and six towels.  You also have a cabana attendant who brings you drinks and food from Snack Shack.  Snack Shack is complimentary.  If you have a drink package, it is covered here.  If not, you pay for any alcohol like you would on the ship.  We decided we'd order mozzarella sticks, a cabana burger, a cabana chicken sandwich, a funnel cake, a coco loco, a tropical mango water, and a diet coke.  There were birds and a family of chickens that kept walking through the cabana and landing on the table, and the cabana attendant told us to let her know when we were done with the food, so she could take it without the wildlife getting to it.  There was a button on the table that we would press anytime we needed the cabana attendant.

Headed to Thrill Waterpark:

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The Cabana:

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Cabana menu from Snack Shack and our food:

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Day 7 continued:

After sampling the food, we set out to ride the waterslides.  We were successfully able to ride every waterslide in the park, spend some time in the wave pool, and do the pool obstacle course thing in less than two hours.  The reduced capacity definitely came in handy today.  Several of the slides had no line, and the longest line, which was for The Slingshot, took about 10 minutes.  Even Daredevil's Peak was almost no wait (maybe 3 people in front of us).  We had so much fun at the waterpark and wish the ship was in port longer.  Daredevil's peak was very fast and a lot of fun.  Screeching serpent or should we call it the wedgie maker (the blue slide that is open and pretty much straight down) was Steven's favorite.  All of the slides were so much fun, and we really enjoyed our time there. 

It was time to go get the kids so they could enjoy Perfect Day as well.  When we got back on the ship, Sunil had pizza delivered to the room, so the kids could snack while they switched to swim clothes.  He also had a very long and fun conversation with us.  It was nice being able to joke and get to know him a little bit better.

We only had a little time left at Coco Cay, so we asked Christian what he wanted to do, and he rode two of the smaller waterslides before him and I headed to Daredevil's Peak.  He also rode Steven's favorite waterslide, and of the four, he agreed with Dad and said his favorite was the Screeching Serpent.  We also took the kids to the wave pool.  The wave pool was very nice.  A nice touch was it had water sprayers that kids could turn and play with but if they turned them away from the wave pool they lost pressure and turned off, so kids couldn't spray people walking by.  Christian, Nyssa, and Kat played on the obstacle course in the pool for a bit.  Then, we headed to Splashaway Bay, so the babies  and Sophia could play and slide on the smaller slides.  They were just shutting down the waterslides at Splashaway Bay when we got there, but they were nice enough to let the babies and another toddler each slide once before shutting down.  We started to head back to the ship, and when we were walking through Captain Jack's, the entertainer started singing Baby Shark.  It was really cute and he also joked with us about having five more kids, which was quickly shot down by Steven and me.  Then, we passed belly dancers who Nyssa decided to try to dance with.  They all played along and danced with her.  It really was a Perfect Day, and out of our three trips to Coco Cay, this was the best one yet.

Truly a Perfect Day at Coco Cay:

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Day 7 continued:

Now that the fun of Coco Cay was over, we knew we had to get to packing.  We decided after a day in the sun and with a long evening of packing ahead of us, dining in the room would be the right call for our last evening.  We had Izumi delivered.  We order a couple different variations of hibachi, the truffled creamy lobster tempura roll, miso soup, mango, chocolate, and strawberry mochi, and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream.  The food arrived with the meats and vegetables as we ordered and a giant plate of fried rice.  It was very good, and the sushi roll had a nice little spicy kick to it, but we were so full that we couldn't finish all of it.  We took the kids to Adventure Ocean for their last evening, but the babies did not want to go to Royal Babies and Tots when they saw their favorite staff members were not working.  Instead of going to the casino like we planned, we took the babies to the carousel and we were happy we did.  Their favorite Royal Babies and Tots staff members, Edel and Sylen, were working there.  They were so good with the babies, and the girls loved them and that's saying a lot since Kat never goes to anyone except Mommy and Daddy.  On one of the days we picked the girls up, Sylen was on the floor with the girls laughing and playing.  She had no idea we were observing her, but Kat and Nyssa were laughing so hard and it was very clear how much Sylen cared about the children she was taking caring of.  I just wish we could take Sylen and Edel on every cruise with us.

We rode the carousel a whole bunch of times and went for ice cream at sugar beach.  On the way to get Christian and Sophia from Adventure Ocean, I asked Sunil if it was possible to get Baked Alaska again, and after calling around, he told me they didn't have any made, so I asked for guacamole and chips for Steven and me and ice cream for the kids.  After it was delivered,  Nyssa and Kat ended up eating almost all of the guacamole and wanted more, so I messaged Sunil.  He told me Playmakers had already closed, but he got us some anyway.  While we snacked on our chips and guacamole, we finished our packing and called it a night.

Sugar Beach, the carousel, and Nyssa and Kat's favorite Royal Babies and Tots staff members:

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Disembarkation:

Today was the day we had been dreading.  When I woke up, I opened the curtains to see Miami.  We tried to drag leaving out as long as possible and told Sunil we wanted to be the last ones he escorted off the ship.  Room service does not make deliveries on disembarkation day, but Sunil made sure we got our normal breakfast and Starbucks delivered to our room.  He showed up to our room at 9:15am like we had arranged.  With him, was a porter to get our luggage.  It took about 15 to 20 minutes to get from our suite to our car.  Disembarkation was very smooth and we didn't have any issues.  

 

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Final thoughts:

This trip has been absolutely amazing.  It was off to a rough start, but wow, it ended as one of our favorite cruises.  We worried about how cruising would be with all of the new Covid restrictions and if we would walk around with a scarlet letter on our heads bringing kids too young to be vaccinated on a cruise.  We were totally wrong.  Everybody on the ship was very nice and some even smiled, laughed, and played with the kids, especially the youngest two.  We didn't get a single rude comment or look from other passengers about cruising with kids.  The staff seemed so happy to be back at sea and were very accommodating. 

There were obviously things we missed like the Quest, Love and Marriage, World's Sexiest Man Competition,  and the Belly Flop Competition.  We also wish we could have done laser tag and the escape room, but there is so much to do even without those that it was still an amazing trip.  One thing I missed was the interaction that we usually get with our room attendant.  I don't think this was his fault though, as there are so many new rules they must abide by such as not going into the room when the guests are there.  It made the experience less personal with him even though he seemed like a nice guy.  The vaccinated only and everybody shows were also an annoyance at times when the everybody show ended up playing too late for kids.  Hairspray was phenomenal, but Steven commented that the minimal seating detracted from the ambience (there was less people to laugh and clap at key moments in the performance).   We also did not like having the Windjammer closed for dinner, but we were always so full anyway.  We only made one stop at the Windjammer this cruise, and we actually perferred how it is now with them serving you food.  It's nice not to have to worry about people touching all the food with their hands plus the food seemed fresher perhaps due to smaller portions being brought out at a time.  Sunil picked out all of our servers at the specialty restaurants and he did a fantastic job because all of the servers we had were wonderful (with the exception of the guy at Playmakers, but Sunil did not choose him).

We continually saw the Covid restrictions being modified.  Room service went from not being allowed in your room to allowed in if you go into a different room and then finally to closer to what it used to be like all within a one week period.  We watched a limit of five in a pool be modified to no limit.  The genies went from not being able to pick up your kids from Adventure Ocean to being able to.  Initially, we were told they were not doing the 2 for $20 t-shirts sale on this cruise because it puts people in too close of proximity to each other, but on day 6, the t-shirt sale happened.  Cruising is slowly returning to normal, and we watched this transition happen every day.

I would be remiss to end this without taking about Sunil.  If you are lucky enough to get him as your genie, you are in for a treat.  He truly made this trip unique.  He went above and beyond and became like family to us.  The kids are already talking about requesting him as our genie when we go on Symphony in April, which we are definitely going to do.  For anyone wondering, he goes home on November 27th, and then he is going back to Symphony in January. 

Lastly, thank you to everyone who followed along.  I hope this helped show what the current state of cruising is.  Happy cruising and best of luck to everyone!

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Aulayan said:

I have loved this blog! Thank you so much for posting. It's been so full of information that I've been surprised you've had time to write it up AND do things on the ship.

Thank you!  I'll be honest, there was many a night I stayed awake while Steven fell asleep, but I did enjoy blogging the trip and hope it helped answer some of the questions that others have.  Steven did catch a picture of me blogging on the balcony one day.

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51 minutes ago, DJsMrs said:

I'm SO impressed that you're cruising, with 4 monkeys and a husband, during covid and have written such a great blog!   I'm super grateful as we look forward to travelling in December with one kiddo that can't be vaxxed yet.   You've allayed a lot of my concerns.   Thanks!!!

Thank you.  I'm glad that I was able to help ease some of your concerns.  Enjoy your cruise and your time with family!

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50 minutes ago, janetmojo said:

I just spend part of my afternoon reading and enjoying your blog and precious photos of your family!!  We are just hubby and I but have our fingers crossed for a Royal Up before our Odyssey cruise on Sunday to Star Class!  Love everything about what you wrote-thanks for keeping it real!

Thank you!  Best of luck on your Royal Up. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.  Happy cruising!

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@Tiffeven, Dang it! I forgot to get together with you two on the Sept 11th cruise. It was my B4B week 4, 2nd in Star Class, also with Sunil. You were in our FB group as well, right?

From your balcony picture, you were on Deck 8. I know, because I had the same Starboard wake view from Deck 10. I mentioned on FB about climbing down the rock wall, or lower a bedsheet to visit (pic below). It was the same Star Class stateroom we had with Sunil for Aug 29th. Thank you, @WAAAYTOOO for educating me on how valuable Star Class benefits. I had a winning Royal Up bid from Grand Suite for Sept 11th.

I held a balcony watch party of HIRO the night it was moved back because of the weather. I hope we didn't bother you.

Your cute kids, I remember seeing them onboard. Adults all blended together, but so few kids stood out. I even remember seeing them on Boardwalk. If I had been watching on this blog spot, I would have recognized you and Steve, then said hello. In fact, your musical stair picture looks so much like the kids I saw on one occasion making the notes ring. And maybe we were in the elevator a couple of times.

You likely saw my wife and I several times on the days we wore our matching shirts.

And tell Steve I know what he meant about the restroom murals. I laughed every time. In fact, a few times I dropped inunoccupied just to take pictures of the wall murals. Below is another.

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20 hours ago, LifesEz said:

@Tiffeven, Dang it! I forgot to get together with you two on the Sept 11th cruise. It was my B4B week 4, 2nd in Star Class, also with Sunil. You were in our FB group as well, right?

From your balcony picture, you were on Deck 8. I know, because I had the same Starboard wake view from Deck 10. I mentioned on FB about climbing down the rock wall, or lower a bedsheet to visit (pic below). It was the same Star Class stateroom we had with Sunil for Aug 29th. Thank you, @WAAAYTOOO for educating me on how valuable Star Class benefits. I had a winning Royal Up bid from Grand Suite for Sept 11th.

I held a balcony watch party of HIRO the night it was moved back because of the weather. I hope we didn't bother you.

Your cute kids, I remember seeing them onboard. Adults all blended together, but so few kids stood out. I even remember seeing them on Boardwalk. If I had been watching on this blog spot, I would have recognized you and Steve, then said hello. In fact, your musical stair picture looks so much like the kids I saw on one occasion making the notes ring. And maybe we were in the elevator a couple of times.

You likely saw my wife and I several times on the days we wore our matching shirts.

And tell Steve I know what he meant about the restroom murals. I laughed every time. In fact, a few times I dropped inunoccupied just to take pictures of the wall murals. Below is another.

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Oh yes!  I totally forgot to say hi.  We were on deck 9, and @Travelergot Royaled Up to the deck 8 below us.  I guess we had the whole side.  I wish I would have thought about that while we were onboard.  This cruise just felt so busy that I feel like I hardly had time to stop and think.  I think it is because we were trying to make up for all the missed cruises.  When we go on our Oasis B2B in November, we plan on being a lot lazier.  I love the matching outfits.  I'm pretty certain we saw you onboard in passing several times.  I just didn't know who it was at the time.  I hope you enjoyed your B4B.  That sounds so incredible.  On debarkation day, it always feels like we didn't have enough time to do half the stuff we wanted.  I'm just thankful we have another cruise to look forward to.  In fact, it was perfect.  The day we got home from this cruise, we got the Star Class questionnaire for the next.  Also, you did not disturb us at all.  Sorry, if our circus disturbed you at any point haha.

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19 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

Oh yes!  I totally forgot to say hi.  We were on deck 9, and @Travelergot Royaled Up to the deck 8 below us.  I guess we had the whole side.  I wish I would have thought about that while we were onboard.  This cruise just felt so busy that I feel like I hardly had time to stop and think.  I think it is because we were trying to make up for all the missed cruises.  When we go on our Oasis B2B in November, we plan on being a lot lazier.  I love the matching outfits.  I'm pretty certain we saw you onboard in passing several times.  I just didn't know who it was at the time.  I hope you enjoyed your B4B.  That sounds so incredible.  On debarkation day, it always feels like we didn't have enough time to do half the stuff we wanted.  I'm just thankful we have another cruise to look forward to.  In fact, it was perfect.  The day we got home from this cruise, we got the Star Class questionnaire for the next.  Also, you did not disturb us at all.  Sorry, if our circus disturbed you at any point haha.

Wow, yes we could have had a great time. Robert Roth from our FB Group was on Deck 8 Port Side Aqua A1 the week before and did the B2B, so we could have really loaded up just with us Star Class.

Well, next time I will keep a better eye on whose on and in the RB, FB, and Cruise Critic boards with us. Though after 4 weeks, we were never without friends because the so many of the staff were first name basis friends.

Like the time I was waiting for the wife, sitting next to the Voom Station, and saw someone who looked familiar at a distance. It was when you know them, but they are not at their station, and you can't place the face to a location. So I just smiled and looked away. But Priya of Guest Services passed on her way back to her station and said, "Hello, Mr. Powers." They had the advantage. Where ever I was on the ship, I was in the place they expected to see me.

Your family did not bother us. But that corner was great. We were sitting in the Solarium Hot Tub on the rain day and the other 2 couples happen to be neighbors just above us and a room forward, 11 730 & 11 732, with us 10 734. None of us knew the other couple or their room, so it became a very small world.

The 11 732 passengers said they were dancing all night to the songs from Jeff Tracta and hoped they didn't keep us awake. They didn't, and the head of our bed was the adjoining wall, a deck below. It seemed to be extra quiet in those Star Class, even with HIRO. We would hear the show in our room, but not to the level of disturbing.

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