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The Old Man and the Sea - Allured back to Star Class


Rags1
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Ok, sing with me now to the tune of “Sea Cruise”:

            Old Man COVID’s been stealing my cruise,

            There’s no use sittin’ and a-singing’ the blues

            So be my guest, you got nothin’ to lose

            Won’t you let me take you on a STAR cruise?

            Allure, Allure baby

            Allure, Allure baby

            Allure, Allure baby

            Won’t you let me take you on a STAR cruise?

 

                        Feel free to hum that little tune as you follow along!

 

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Earnest Hemingway wrote “Why do old men wake so early?  Is it to have one longer day?”  When this old man is at sea, and in Star Class, the answer is hell YES!  Let’s enjoy every minute.   This year’s spewing of my thoughts will cover our 4th Star Class adventure and this year we will return to the scene of the crime where it all began – the Royal Loft Suite aboard the Allure. Feels like we’re going back home!  We began this nonsense of spending the annual budget of a small city for Star Class back in 2018. And as someone on this site likes to say, it’s been wash, rinse, repeat ever since!  2019 brought the RL on Harmony followed by the same room on Oasis in 2020. I know the Symphony should have been next in line but that would have required a 2nd city’s budget. So we’ll rough it again on the Allure. This replaces a cruise scheduled for last August on Oasis to celebrate the 21st birthday of the youngest of our litter. Which was replaced with a late celebration last November on the Harmony, which obviously didn’t happen either. . Poor kid is already 22 but we will still be celebrating!  

 

   There will be 11 of us taking the journey this year. Most of the group have been on one or more of the last three: my bride and an awesome nurse Stacy, our 21st birthday party deprived preschool teacher Taylor, the red headed hurricane DNP Dr. Kaitlyn, my bride’s twin sister and food connoisseur Shari, brother-in-law school district management suit Mike, their oldest son and quietest guy on the ship Caleb, and family friend and all around fun guy Cody. Now even when you add me, the Old Guy, into the mix that’s still only 8 people and I said 11, right?  Right. We will be joined by 3 new members of our cruising crazies. Our oldest daughter, her husband and our 16 month old granddaughter.  They have asked to remain nameless and faceless in this blog and I  will of course respect their wishes. One of them might be in the Witness Protection Program or something, who knows. But they’re part of the crew and I know they will do things that deserve, or demand, mention in this saga so I have to come up with something to call them. I know I can refer to people as like DD, for darling daughter, but that’s, well, so Disney. I’ll come up with something. I worked in the Nixon White House and the name Deep Throat comes to mind. That person did a lot. Said a lot. But never showed his face or gave his name. Might work. They could be DT1, DT2, and little DT or LDT.  We will occupy the Royal Loft, the adjoining Crown Loft and an ocean facing Crown Loft on the starboard side. 

 

   This group isn’t nearly organized enough to have any real plans for the week. Except food and drink.  I’ve already explained to our wonderful Genie that she just needs to throw food and booze at this group and her mission is complete. Set the food and booze on a table. Slide it under the door. Hell,  hang it down over the balcony by a rope and they’ll snag it in mid-air. They are a food crew. From the early morning Starbucks to the 2am pizza feeding frenzy. Food. Booze. It’s an awesome thing to watch!  I joke, but not too much. We will, as a family,  discuss dinner and entertainment plans when we gather this Sunday to welcome Dr. Katie’s new boyfriend for dinner. But that’s another blog – a well trained musician and great singer who can’t play a Willie Nelson Song. Blasphemy. Anyway, I think the group agrees that we will have dinner at Coastal Kitchen, Chops, Izumi, 150, Giovanni’s, and Chef’s Table. I may not do Chef’s Table. I’ve been polite and done it twice with the food zombies but it’s just not my thing. First, my entire expertise with wine was swigging some Mad Dog 20/20 back in the early 70’s. That doesn’t pair well with anything. And while listening to the Chef explain, in excruciating detail, the ingredients, preparation and presentation of something that looks like it’s already been eaten once, I’m thinking about tossing some chicken, onion soup mix and a little heavy cream in the crock pot. Guess I’m just too low class for that event. I think we’ve decided to have embarkation day lunch at Sabors simply because of the location. While most dine, one or two of us can grab some guacamole and go out and entertain and chase LDT. The other meals for breakfast and lunch will be decided later. A couple of these travelers probably won’t be sober enough for breakfast. Maybe even lunch!  I see some breakfasts out on the amazing balcony. We’ve enjoyed that in the previous cruises. 

 

   The entire group loves the entertainment and will I’m sure see all of the shows. Most of us are especially looking forward to Mama Mia again. 

 

   Very few plans for the ports yet. We’ll probably discuss that Sunday as well. The birthday girl wants to see the Yoda Guy in St Maarten so that will probably happen. We did spend part of LDT’s college fund for an over the water cabana at the Coco Beach Club. I’m already picturing the lobster sandwich being sent down the slide into the waiting mouth of someone treading water. 

 

   We received our Star Class survey thing 53 days out. I only really remember a couple of questions. One was something about if Elon Musk invited our party on a spaceflight and we could each bring one personal item, what would the item be?  My answer was that,  as a guy who who had the great fortune to work for a few years supporting the U.S. space program, I wouldn’t fly on anything built by the low bidder. But I’m sure for the others it would be food. The other was the old question about which 3 people living or dead that I would invite to dinner.  My answer was “Prince, Madonna and Aracelli. Yeah, THAT Aracelli. Because I wanna know why they only need one name and I need two.  But let’s get real, that ain’t happening. So how about just coffee with Marc Walker so I can ask him how that Carvana thing works?”  (Some will probably google Marc Walker now!). We received the email from our Genie, Romina, at the 29 day mark.  I can tell after trading emails that she is efficient, professional and has a great sense of humor. I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know her. I’ve warned her about the family. Poor thing. 

 

   Like many of you this cruise is a special return to a ship and a vacation. Our last was in January of 2020. During the shutdown most of us continued to work. Our Doc Kaitlyn spent most of it as an RN in the COVID ICU. My bride, Nurse Ratchet, worked the entire time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The preschool teacher taught preschool. The school administrator figured out how to do it remotely. Everyone adapted and trudged on. DT1 adapted to the zoom method of her work and managed having a baby during a pandemic.   I promise this is probably the only time that I will be serious in this entire blog. But the crazy folks I’m cruising with, like many of you, are looking forward to this cruise more than they ever  have. It’s been a long road.  

 

   So I invite you to follow along with us as we prepare for an amazing vacation. As you have surmised by now, I’m not a serious, detail oriented kind of writer. Actually I’m not a writer at all!  But my hope is to, while maybe being entertaining and informing, document our trip as a memory for the family. When I wrote last year’s blog I didn’t realize that I was creating something we would read again to remind us of special memories. But it turned out to be our online scrapbook that we visit now and then. 

 

   Thanks Matt for providing the platform for us to share.

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Details, details…

 

The Old Man will head to the sea early on the morning just 23 days from now, which is the day before the cruise. We’ll fly from Palm Springs, California, at  610 am, change planes in Dallas and arrive in Orlando at 419 pm. Last sailing from Port Canaveral we used Go Port Canaveral for lodging and transportation and it worked great so we’re doing that again. They will fetch us from the airport and deliver us to the Orlando Hampton Inn. Star Class has not yet been activated! They include a free breakfast so there’s that. On cruise morning they transport us to the port. When we return they will provide transportation back to the airport. Plans for the evening in Orlando will be a casual meal a couple of drinks and a good nights sleep.

 

   We have made very few preparations up to this point. I have closely followed information supplied on this site about how the return to cruising is going. Most of the family are members of several FB groups. Now and then I also peruse the other site where everyone is really, seriously a cruise CRITIC. The most valuable information has come from the Live Blogs here and the many FB postings on the Insider’s page. 

 

   For our pre-cruise COVID test everyone will be using the at home proctored test from EMed. Nurse Ratchet ordered them a couple of weeks ago and they arrived in less than 24 hours. There will be NO group swabbing but everyone plans on doing the deed on Friday morning.  I’m just happy these are the less invasive tests. I had the one at a hospital several months ago where they shoved it up my nose almost to my Crown and Anchor!  On pre-COVID-19 cruises the Nurse carries over the counter meds for anything that might come along. I can’t wait to see her medical bag this year!

 

   As I’ve said, we received the Star Class survey 53 days before the cruise. I think Stacy and the Doc filled theirs out, not sure about the others. I’m not convinced anyone read them the last 3 years.  But it begins to make us realize it’s getting closer. Fun to receive the email! 

 

   We heard from Genie Romina at 29 days. She and I have communicated with emails several times already. As I said before she has been very responsive and I can tell we share a sense of humor. We have mainly just shared pleasantries and jokes so far. She has provided all of the basic information and instructions and is awaiting the “wish list” from Nurse Ratchet. I did request that she confirm an issue with the cabana. I had read somewhere, I think by some guy named Matt, that although the limit is 8 you can add 2 additional people for an extra fee.  She quickly confirmed that Matt had told her the same thing!  Actually she confirmed with the Excursion Manager that you can add two people for a fee of $50 per person. The Nurse will send our requests to her after our family gathering on Sunday. Our initial requests will be pretty basic. Which items to stock in the coolers, morning Starbucks for those who never served in the military and just regular coffee for me. We will celebrate Taylor’s birthday one day so will ask for something special for her. We will celebrate Mike’s birthday which is actually in October. I don’t know which day his birthday is. That’s why Old Men like me have amazing spouses like the Nurse. She wakes me each day saying things like “take your pills, text Mike it’s his birthday and you need hay for the goat.”  Works well. We will probably request drinks and snacks for the balcony on embarkation day. We’ll tell Romina the places we want to eat and ask her to suggest a schedule that makes dining work with the entertainment.  Everyone in the crown lofts have both the unlimited dining and the drink packages so it’s easy when we gather as a group. I’m already very confident that we’re in good hands. In fact, I think we even have backup Genie coverage. I wrote in the blog last year that one evening I wanted to see the second headliner show.  But I let Jack Daniels email our Genie Allan Fajardo to make the request. Jack sent the email to the wrong ship!  If that were to happen this year Allan is on the Oasis so he will realize it’s Jack and could just ask Romina to save me!  Awesome!  

 

   

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4 hours ago, twangster said:

So if I am doing the math properly... this is the Oct. 17 Allure sailing?

If so, maybe I'll see you on board.  🙂  

It is. And holy crap!  We get to sail with @twangster??  Maybe see you on board?  Oh no. There has to be a plan for me to meet the great one!  I shall ask the genie to prepare for royalty!  How exciting. Would love to meet you. 

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4 hours ago, Rags1 said:

It is. And holy crap!  We get to sail with @twangster??  Maybe see you on board?  Oh no. There has to be a plan for me to meet the great one!  I shall ask the genie to prepare for royalty!  How exciting. Would love to meet you. 

Prepare to be underwhelmed.  May your Star experience be so much greater   

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We are in the process of booking 15 for a dual graduation on Allure.  Right now we have planned the Royal Loft and 2 Aquatheaters.  My one sister is a cheapskate and doesnt want to pay the price so she is opting for a balcony.  Hey, thats okay she doesn't need to be with us at dinner now. So win win!  Looking forward on how you will wrangle everyones wishes because that is where I am having some anxiety.

 

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4 hours ago, MLH said:

We are in the process of booking 15 for a dual graduation on Allure.  Right now we have planned the Royal Loft and 2 Aquatheaters.  My one sister is a cheapskate and doesnt want to pay the price so she is opting for a balcony.  Hey, thats okay she doesn't need to be with us at dinner now. So win win!  Looking forward on how you will wrangle everyones wishes because that is where I am having some anxiety.

 

The last two years everyone in our party was Star so no issues. The first year it was six of us in Star and four in balcony rooms. I made it clear to the genie that we understood the rules and expected that he would only support the six of us.  I specifically asked that on embarkation day we wait and board with the four family in the other rooms. We were told no, that they would board with us and that’s what happened. Our entire family dined and went to the shows together all week as a group and we appreciated the genie including everyone, although we didn’t ask. The family not in a Star room all had dining and drink packages which eliminates some issues. We are approaching this year the same way.  We don’t expect any “wishes” will be requested except for the 6 of us in the RLS. That being said, I will have no problem ordering up food and drink in the suite for everyone. That seems to be acceptable. 

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12 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Of course your sister can stillest with you !  She can either pay for her meals or purchase the Unlimited Dining Plan.  She just won’t get a genie services or a beautiful suite.  You get what you pay for !

True, but she wont pay for the dining package, lol  I keep telling her that it is not that much more and you get all of the perks, I personally think she will regret it.  

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1 hour ago, MLH said:

True, but she wont pay for the dining package, lol  I keep telling her that it is not that much more and you get all of the perks, I personally think she will regret it.  

Your sister sounds like my brother.  😁 We have the UDP booked for our next cruise, and are looking forward to it.  
 

Enjoying your blog so far! 👍🏼

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