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Plan for the worst hope for the best Symphony September 4-18 21


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Yap , I will give it a try although almost forgotten how to write a cruise blog.

First why did I choose  this name ? I guess it's quite obvious no one really knows what will happen during this crazy times so it's hard to plan. What we are planning is to be as flexible as we can and have lots of plan B/C/D and even E if needed mainly to try and have fun with whatever will be. Regarding the name , I wanted to call it "cruise to the unknown" but that unfortunately already taken here (remember the days people were cruising and written blogs about it ?).

Why started now ? Two weeks looked like a good time to start and beside while writing this first post I am seating at one of my favorites beach near my home and what is better place to start writing a cruise blog if not here ?

What is the plan , in high level

1. Try avoiding cathing COVID-19 in the next few weeks . Take a c19 test 3 days before the cruise. 

2. Fly to Orlando (cheaper ticket than Miami)

3 Visit Universal park 

4 Drive to Miami and get on Symphony. Convincing the check in people to accept our vaccination paper (the vaccine card here is a pdf file which we need to print but it contains all the information RCL asking for) . Both of us already got the third  Pfizer booster shot this week so I hope no issues.

5. Do our first B2B , first time in grand suite.

6. Fly to the West coast to meet some family ( stopping in Vegas for few days)

7. Fly back home

More information to follow , for now going to seat back relax and enjoy the  breeze and sunset here

 

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4 hours ago, Traveler said:

3 Visit Universal park 

This would make me super nervous before getting on a ship for 2 weeks straight!  I'm almost 2 weeks within my sail date and I won't leave the house for anything other than work and to get groceries at this point. I'm not worried about getting really sick, but I'm worried about testing positive or catching it onboard and being sent home early.

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40 minutes ago, AshleyDillo said:

This would make me super nervous before getting on a ship for 2 weeks straight!  I'm almost 2 weeks within my sail date and I won't leave the house for anything other than work and to get groceries at this point. I'm not worried about getting really sick, but I'm worried about testing positive or catching it onboard and being sent home early.

You are right , 

This point we still considering if to take it and how to reduce the risks (using the early hours options from the hotel , using mask even if not requested , and limit the visit time).  Also waiting to see the results of the booster shot in preventing infection in the next two weeks as more and more data are coming.

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13 minutes ago, Traveler said:

You are right , 

This point we still considering if to take it and how to reduce the risks (using the early hours options from the hotel , using mask even if not requested , and limit the visit time).  Also waiting to see the results of the booster shot in preventing infection in the next two weeks as more and more data are coming.

True..be as safe as one can possibly be.  I would consider Universal better than an airplane since it is more open, but they also don't require masks at Universal.  It's a shame we even have to think about these possibilities.  

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Looking forward to reading your blog and will see you onboard on the second leg.  Like Ashley said, I am worried about the what ifs and thought about not going out in the weeks leading up to the cruise.  Of course, that stuck all of about 10 minutes, and we are going to Margaritaville Resort next week.  I couldn't wait the 20 days until the cruise, and needed to get away sooner.  #firstworldproblems.  Enjoy your trip.  The sail boat picture is gorgeous.

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Here is how it all started.

It was  duribg February 2020 what turned to be my last business trip (for now anyway). C19 was something in China with very few cases in north America and Europe (mainly Italy) but we knew it's coming (N Stark was warning us). I was "enjoying" Toronto February weather doing customer meetings during the day and searching the different stores for N95 masks during the evening trying not to freeze. 

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Nothing like cold weather to plan for the next cruise , we had already a cruise planned for April 2020, 11 days in the Mediterranean but I was already sceptic it will happen. After browsing the site I found an Oasis cruise from NJ during September. Did some calls and reserved it thinking by September the C19 will be already a fading memory, little I knew (well like most of us). 

Nothing like playing where is my car in  -20c

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Few month after and few cancelations I knew this cruise would take place  so I just did the L&S for next year. After few months more I checked if I still have my annual cruise from spending time (and contributing to RCL revenue)  in the ships casinos, I went to the site and to my surprise not just that I saw it was  there but also a list of many other offers. That was first time for me as until now I never got any offer and  when asking the RCL representative  for the reasonhe he  explained me that they can't have marketing offer for  someone not living in the US. Guess there was some good things about the C19 situation. I saw two offers for JS during September and jumped on it , calling RCL and asked to book our first B2B cruise. The representative checked it and told me sorry , no JS cabins left for this offer but he can book a balcony for us. I said ok let's do it and he started to work on it. After ten minutes he came back to me and said it's approved and he just need my CC  to book it, at that point the call was disconnected. I was freaking out , finally booked a B2B and now this ... I didn't give up and called again waiting 15 minutes more to get a new representative asking him to check if he can retrieve the reservation which was under process, he checked and didn't  found anything, told me that we need to start again. I gave him the offers numbers again asking him to check the JS availability, he came back to me saying no JS only balcony but do I want him to check for grand suite ? I said yes and after few minutes he told me that are available for both cruise and the extra cost will be 450  $ asking if I wanted it. I thought about and told him I need few days to think about it and I would call them back ....       No not really ? , I just couldn't say it faster "book it" ! Praying the call will not disconnected again, it wasn't ,  a YOLO moment and we had our first B2B booked .

 

 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Traveler said:

Convincing the check in people to accept our vaccination paper (the vaccine card here is a pdf file which we need to print but it contains all the information RCL asking for)

Yes!  Finally, @Traveler blogs are back!  

I will be following closely on how your check in goes with this point quoted above as our proof here is also a PDF file emailed to us.  Some vaccination centers were printing them for people but the papers all came in various sizes depending on the location you visited.

 

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3 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

will be following closely on how your check in goes with this point quoted above as our proof here is also a PDF file emailed to us.  Some vaccination centers were printing them for people but the papers all came in various sizes depending on the location you visited.

Per RCL page it should be fine  

 

"

Acceptable Proof of Vaccination

In order to present proof of vaccination for our cruises, the guest must show eligible documentation on boarding day at the terminal in the form of the vaccination record issued by either (1) the country’s health authority that administered the vaccination (e.g., U.S. CDC's Vaccination Record Card) (2) electronic vaccination records where country policy requires the use of electronic documentation via app or health agency site (e.g. UK NHS App, NHS Certificate, Israel Green Pass, EU Digital COVID Certificate), or (3) a letter from the guest's medical provider that administered the vaccination, which meets the following criteria: 

  • The Proof of Vaccination must include the name of the vaccinated person matching the registered cruise guest with date of birth (DoB), the dates of the completed vaccination cycle, the administering physical or medical services provider, and the manufacturer of the vaccine issued. 
  • The full vaccination cycle must be completed at least 14 days before your sail date (e.g., received the second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of J&J). 
  • The vaccine is recognized and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) and/or the World Health Organization (WHO)."

"

 

In that case the PDF is official from the health authority ..  I am going first to present the PDF , if that will not work  I will show them my electronic documentation from the app as they list the app we use here in one of the examples they gave.

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2 hours ago, Traveler said:

In that case the PDF is official from the health authority ..  I am going first to present the PDF , if that will not work  I will show them my electronic documentation from the app as they list the app we use here in one of the examples they gave.

We have no app.  Our PDF was just emailed to us.  Although we might have an app by the time my next cruise rolls around (December).  Either way, let me know how it goes.

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17 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

We have no app.

We were given a hard copy but can access our vaccination records through “My Health Records” app. Things may change with the vaccine passport expected early fall if it’s mandatory for travel outside Canada. 

As for a timeline, the passport will be ready to go “early this fall,” according to Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

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13 minutes ago, Jax said:

We were given a hard copy but can access our vaccination records through “My Health Records” app.

Everything is better in Alberta! lol

13 minutes ago, Jax said:

Things may change with the vaccine passport expected early fall if it’s mandatory for travel outside Canada. 

Exactly.  That's what I meant in my earlier post when I said it will likely be different by December.  I like that way better, more consistency.

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I am back , sorry for not updating before but crazy days , lots of work to finish before the vacation (no that I will not be connect and have to join some meetings but still ) and some uncertainties  during those crazy days.

Still not sure if all the starts will aligned and we will be able to board the cruise , hope no issues with flight  , C19 tests , hurricanes and other stuff , too many things so I decide not to think about it too much. On the other hand we still do all the required preparation , for example my spouse already prepared for the Caribbean:

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For the vacation prof I twit RCL asking regarding the PDF which is the only document we are getting here and here is the answer :

"Hi there. Digital or alternate copies aren't accepted unless it's the standard way of getting the vaccine proof for that country guests are in, so you'll be fine."  so I guess its also good answer for whoever travel from Canada to catch a US cruise.

You can imagine my feeling when getting the B2B new protocol email , why of course change it one week when we are finally going on our first B2B ?   , good that they fixed  it and sent another email quickly, 

Plans for the first cruise :

SAT 04 SEP MIAMI, FLORIDASUN 05 SEP CRUISING

MON 06 SEP COZUMEL, MEXICO - Stay on the ship as Mexico is in the red list of our health department 

07 SEP ROATAN, HONDURAS - Beach day , we love the clear water Rotan has .

WED 08 SEP PUERTO COSTA MAYA, MEXICO - Maybe tour in the port shops 

THU 09 SEP CRUISING

FRI 10 SEP PERFECT DAY COCOCAY, BAHAMAS - First time at COCOAY so planning to tour the it and  we also booked jet sky there. 

SAT 11 SEP MIAMI, FLORIDA

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Although it's our first time In GS we decided to try the royal up for almost all the possibilities (not biding on the Royal suite and Vila). Just saw that all my bids expired beside the pending crown loft suite , still full week to go. Anyway it encouraged me to bring up the bids on the second leg of the B2B , who knows, with all the cancelations maybe it's a good chance to try something else 

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Few minutes ago I got interesting email from RCI , in this email which they sent both of us they want us to schedule a PCR test for the 11-Sep cruise.
Now both of us vaccinated (anyway its not allowed to cruise to the Bahamas if not) and last time I have checked not me nor my spouse are in the age range of 2-12 YO , not that I mind to reduce few years of my current age.

I wonder if it is for the B2B (which i not making any  sense) or because they have not sent us the vaccine survey for this cruise so they  consider us not vaccinated  , can it be that Royal know about a secret son/daughter  we have which is less than 12 years old ? . I should check again if my spouse not going to surprise me during this cruise ?.

For sure , the Royal IT wants to make sure my life will be interesting.

Anyway , here is the email I got , at least it might help people that need it : 

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On 8/28/2021 at 11:50 AM, Traveler said:

I wonder if it is for the B2B (which i not making any  sense) or because they have not sent us the vaccine survey for this cruise so they  consider us not vaccinated  ,

I would reach out to Royal about the vaccination status request.  You should have gotten it by now.  We received ours on 8/22, but there was several people in the FB group for 9/11 that got theirs before we did.  The email auto-populated our reservation number and some of our information, but here is a link you can try since you haven't received the email yet.  https://www.royalcaribbean.com/resources/vaccination-form?fbclid=IwAR34Olq3iXf8UvBqAbM9W71a6YotygEY3sgYsyDjL6xTxAMVjI12mqFZRU8

 

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2 hours ago, Tiffeven said:

I would reach out to Royal about the vaccination status request.  You should have gotten it by now.  We received ours on 8/22, but there was several people in the FB group for 9/11 that got theirs before we did.  The email auto-populated our reservation number and some of our information, but here is a link you can try since you haven't received the email yet.  https://www.royalcaribbean.com/resources/vaccination-form?fbclid=IwAR34Olq3iXf8UvBqAbM9W71a6YotygEY3sgYsyDjL6xTxAMVjI12mqFZRU8

 

Thanks , I did got the survey for the 4-Sep leg so after got this email I went to the link and change the information for the 11-Sep one. Hope your it will do the trick.

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Preparations during C19 times .

Two days only until our journey starts here is the testing plans : 

1. First PCR test was done today - this is for the flight/US entry requirements  and we did it just incase the last minute test will not work , we done it in one of the local "CVC
 like" here , cost - 24$ , results in 36 hours.
Here,  PCR tests do not cost money but they are not valid for travel to avoid the load on the country  testing facilities  so you need to go use a private testing company for travel.
2. PCR test in the airport on the same day of the flight , this test we are doing to cover the 3 days rule of RCI , the cruise on Saturday and the test will be done on Wednesday. cost is  40$ for 4 hour result (12 $ for 14 hour results).
3. Antigen test in Orlando airport on Thursday , this is optional and cost 65$ , we consider to do it just incase for some reason RCI will refuse to accept an official PCR test from a foreign country. Maybe we will take it after we will land. alternate we might order the self testing kit to the hotel. During boarding I will first try to give them the Wednesday test just to check if they have any problem with it.

Beside the test we already purchase three month ago a travel insurance that includes C19 protection (including paying for hotel if we need to be quarantine) it cost almost twice than what we used to pay , but its crazy days and we want to cruise ? .

Now we just need all the tests will come negative. 

 

 

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First test results came out we are OK to go ? 

Already sent the results PDF to the airline and they clear us out. two more tests to go ...

Meanwhile got the concierge  letter and few points I  can see:

1. The soft drinks (beside tea and coffee) during the day  are suspended and available only during happy hours.
2. SKY class can come up to  1 hour before or after the check in time.
 

Here is the letter: 

"Dear Sky Class guests,

We are name Ken and Norman, and we can’t wait to welcome you onboard Symphony of the Seas on Saturday September 04th 2021. I hope you’re ready for a wonderful cruise vacation with us.

We’re delighted you’ll be joining us as we get back to our home at sea. Your health & safety are our top priority, so as we begin to set sail, we have new health protocols that are part of our healthy return to service. Please visit https://www.royalcaribbean.com/gbr/en/healthy-sail-center/before-you-board-your-cruise for more information on the preventive measures that we will be taking onboard to ensure you have a safe and healthy experience with us.

As we return to service, some benefits and services have been temporarily adjusted. To follow new health protocols and better manage the flow of guests in terminals, the check-in process will be different. All guests will be required to select an arrival time in advance via the Royal Caribbean app. However, Sky Suite guests can enjoy Flexible Arrival — a new program allowing the freedom to check in up to one hour before or after your scheduled check-in time while the terminal is open.

We recommend that you plan your days and make reservations for your dining, onboard activities, shore excursions and Vitality Spa services. You may do so using your Cruise Planner or Royal App. Please note that show reservations will be available for booking once onboard. If you require any assistance, we will be happy to help you.

Our desk is in the Suite Lounge, located on Deck 17 aft. My hours are: 8:00 am until 11:30 pm, and 4:30 pm until 8:00 pm. I am also reachable via email, or by dialing my phone from your Suite or any house phone.

As a Sky Suite guest, you have access to exclusive amenities and services, available just for you:

· The Concierge Lounge is for the exclusive benefit of our Suite guests, accessible with your Sky Class SeaPass card.

· Make sure to pack a smart casual outfit, as that’s our dress code in the lounge at all times.

· In the Lounge, coffee and tea are available throughout the day. Each evening, between 5:00 pm and 8:00 pm, hors d'oeuvres, petit fours and complimentary wine, spirits, beer, and soft drinks are available for our Suite guests.

· Guests under 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

· As a Sky Suite guest, you may enjoy the exclusive suites-only restaurant, Coastal Kitchen, for the hours of operation, please refer to the Cruise Compass or reach out to me for assistance. Reservations are required for dinner.

· Your suite is supplied with luxurious bath amenities, a Lavazza espresso coffee machine, comfortable bathrobes for your use onboard, and equipped with a luxurious pillow-top mattress, all for your comfort and enjoyment.

· Sky guests have access to complimentary VOOM Surf and Stream, for one device per person for the entire sailing. Detailed instructions on how to connect your device are attached to this email and will be in your suite upon arrival.

· Enjoy the exclusive Suite Sun Deck, on Deck 17 aft; lounge chairs are available to suite guests on a first come, first served basis.

· Sky guests receive early seating in our theaters up to 45 minutes prior to curtain. Reservations are available once you arrive onboard, which I will be happy to assist you with.

· To organize your Priority Departure, please meet with me to discuss details once onboard.

Thank you again and please let me know of any questions you may have.

 

Your Concierges.
Best Regards

"

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45 minutes ago, Traveler said:

Sky guests receive early seating in our theaters up to 45 minutes prior to curtain. Reservations are available once you arrive onboard, which I will be happy to assist you with.

I'm getting the impression walk-up for shows is no longer available for Sky class.

Always felt that was one of the better benefits for those that don't like to plan.

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The journey started OK , we board our flight to EWR on time  and went to sleep , few hours before the schedule arrival we got the message from the cockpit that Newark experiencing weather issues and our flight will land in DC instead. I already new we lost our connection flight so I purchased internet package and went online to reserve us a car ready to do the 15 hours ride if needed. After a while I saw Unites rebooked us to Orlando but they sent me via Chicago and my spouse on different flight that will bring her around 1 am to Orlando. After passing  immigration we went to a huge line for rebooking , have up on the line after 30 minutes as there was only one representative to deal with all the issues. We went to find another place less crowded finally we found a representative to talk to. Told her we are Ok to go to a nearby airport and she found us tickets to West Palm Beach, we grabbed them as they will bring us around 1Pm and we will be both on the same flight. Currently seating in United club waiting for the flight .

Whenever I started to be upset over the situation I reminded myself that we maybe had so e delays while other lost had their house flooded or even worse, lost their lives due to Ida

Another good example why never to book a flight on the same day of the cruise.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, Traveler said:

The journey started OK , we board our flight to EWR on time  and went to sleep , few hours before the schedule arrival we got the message from the cockpit that Newark experiencing weather issues and our flight will land in DC instead. I already new we lost our connection flight so I purchased internet package and went online to reserve us a car ready to do the 15 hours ride if needed. After a while I saw Unites rebooked us to Orlando but they sent me via Chicago and my spouse on different flight that will bring her around 1 am to Orlando. After passing  immigration we went to a huge line for rebooking , have up on the line after 30 minutes as there was only one representative to deal with all the issues. We went to find another place less crowded finally we found a representative to talk to. Told her we are Ok to go to a nearby airport and she found us tickets to West Palm Beach, we grabbed them as they will bring us around 1Pm and we will be both on the same flight. Currently seating in United club waiting for the flight .

Whenever I started to be upset over the situation I reminded myself that we maybe had so e delays while other lost had their house flooded or even worse, lost their lives due to Ida

Another good example why never to book a flight on the same day of the cruise.

 

 

Holy cow !  What a trip !  You are waaay more patient than I would have been with all of those complications.  Good luck on the last leg and have a wonderful cruise.  You definitely deserve it after all of this !

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Quick update , the flight to West Palm Beach went well and I successfully changed the rental car pick up location , the most complicated thing was to find where to print the new voucher. We drove to Orlando and arrived the hotel only 8 hors hours from the original time so we can't complain too much. We just got the alert to fill up the health survey so it really around the corner. Tomorrow we will use the jet lag factor and start early Journey to Miami.

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On 8/30/2021 at 11:36 AM, Traveler said:

Another part of the planning for the cruise.

This time preparation for Hooked ?

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This looks amazing and just as good or better than anything that I've gotten from Hooked. Did you create this dish? 

Also, would you mind sharing your Eastern Caribbean Cruise Compasses, please?

Wishing you smooth and safe travels from here on out! Hope you have a Wonderful time!!

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3 hours ago, Luv2Travel said:

This looks amazing and just as good or better than anything that I've gotten from Hooked. Did you create this dish? 

Also, would you mind sharing your Eastern Caribbean Cruise Compasses, please?

Wishing you smooth and safe travels from here on out! Hope you have a Wonderful time!!

The dish is ls in a local restaurant on the beach.

I will try to I share the full cruise compass at the end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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