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Odyssey of the Seas, 2/12/22-2/20/22... Please! No Covid Whammies!


JohnK6404
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Hello everyone!

OK, this is a first for me! Starting the “live” blog one week before we set sail!  🤣

Odyssey will be our first experience on a Quantum/Quantum Ultra class ship. We had booked Anthem several years ago, since she’s in our backyard, but unfortunately had to cancel due to unexpected circumstances. We booked this cruise very early on back in May of 2020 for both the ship and the southern Caribbean itinerary. This will be our first visit to Aruba and Curacao, and we can’t wait! We’re a little bummed that Grand Cayman was swapped out for Nassau, but we’ll survive and will certainly make the best of it… any day on a cruise is a great day!

We’re once again sailing with our good friends from Florida. They sailed with us on Allure back in May of 2019 and we had an amazing time. Unfortunately, it’s looking more and more likely that our friend’s husband will not be able to make this cruise and she will likely be flying solo in her cabin. Nice side note… our friend won her RoyalUp bid and was moved from an interior cabin to an Ocean View balcony cabin this past week! Winning bid for her was $230 ($115/person). Thankfully, she was relocated just one deck below us and just two cabins further aft on the same side of the ship! Plus since our cruise qualifies for the double C&A point promo, and she will likely be solo, she should be receiving 4x the usual points for this sailing (32 points)!

My wife and I both contracted Covid during the first week of January right after the holidays. We’re both vaccinated and boosted. Thankfully, neither of us had serious symptoms. We both just had lingering/annoying symptoms that lasted about two weeks (sinus headache, minor fatigue, etc.). We’re both feeling great now and have both tested negative since. We're hoping we got Covid out of the way! Just praying the test that really counts comes back negative! 

We decided to skip the PCR test at CVS or at the local urgent care this time based on all the advice both from here on the forum and from family/friends in the medical field (due to testing positive last month). Also, we’re not in the mood (or have the luxury since we're flying down) to have to wait very long for the results of a PCR test under the circumstances!

We decided to order the online proctored rapid antigen Covid tests from Optum and will give that a shot this time. A huge thank you to @Matt and @SpeedNoodles for posting the two excellent videos outlining the entire testing procedure including what not to do! Fingers crossed tightly!

 

Time for some trip details…

Cruise Details:  

  • Odyssey of the Seas, 8-night, Southern Caribbean itinerary (Nassau, Curacao & Aruba)
  • Out of Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale
  • 2/12/22-2/20/22

Cabin Details & Cruise Planner Stuff:

  • Ocean View balcony (Deck 10 Aft, Starboard side; Basically, below the climbing wall toward the cat sculpture)
  • Purchased the Key ($19.99)… Yes we did again, LOL! I'll provide our feelings on value on this sailing.
  • Selected My Time Dining
  • Reservations made for Chef’s Table for Valentine’s Day
  • Reservations made for Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar
  • Purchased the Deluxe Beverage Package
  • Purchased “Snorkel with Stingrays and Shark Feeding” excursion in Curacao
  • Purchased “Half Day Off Road Adventure” excursion in Aruba

Miscellaneous Stuff:

  • Flight on Southwest Airlines out of Islip/MacArthur Airport (ISP) on Long Island (NY) early on FRI (2/11/22) morning to Orlando (MCO). Our friends live outside Orlando and have rented a car. We’re driving directly from the airport to Ft. Lauderdale that same day together.
  • (UPDATED)  Staying FRI evening at the Fairfield Inn & Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport-Cruise Port (our first time here): LINK
  • Our current plan is to use the shuttle service from the hotel to the port on SAT morning. We booked the 11:00-11:30 boarding period so we could board with our friends (originally grabbed the 10:30 slot, but they did not complete check-in until the following morning and missed out).

 

I think that’s it for the synopsis... now we just need to pack and pray! We will be taking our Covid tests on Thursday... 

*** Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to post pictures of something you are interested in... I'll do my best to keep up!  😎

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Soooo close!  😎

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.... and YES!  We all tested negative!  Woo hoo!    🥳

 

Time to finish packing... the dogs are probably not thrilled that they are heading to my sister's house tonight for the next 11 days!

"Are you serious? Leaving us again!" - Jake

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"Enough of this cruising stuff!" - Bella

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Absolutely love Long Island/MacArthur (ISP) Airport. Literally 5-10 minutes from our home. We park in a resident parking lot. Small, clean, and modern airport. Quick and easy to get through security. Dread it when we need to go to LaGuardia, JFK or Newark.


Lining up to board! Getting there!

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So, last evening we stayed at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. Definitely a bare bones hotel with a good location. From our room we could see the Hard Rock Cafe Hotel & Casino in the distance. If you want a bed and a basic complimentary breakfast it will do nicely. 

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Day 1:  Embarkation Day

For some strange reason, the first shuttle to the port left at 10:45am which was a little too close to our 11:00am check-in window. Instead, we just took an Uber which cost about the same for the the three of us (our friend’s husband was not able to join us this time).

We arrived at the port a little before 10:30am. Checked the bags at the curb and headed to the terminal. Since we had the Key, they led us to another entrance just to the right of the main entrance where folks were lining up based on their check-in times. For some reason, they did not seem to care about our check-in window and just let us in! As we entered the terminal we could see people were still disembarking the ship. Our line was pretty short and the main line snaked around to our left.

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After a brief delay we went through security, completed the second checkpoint (check-in and negative Covid test verification, etc.), and then into the Key waiting area of the terminal right next to the suite folks. Only 15 minutes or so from entering the terminal to the boarding waiting area. Glad we did not have to wait for the 11:00am check-in and wait on that long, snaking line!

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There was another short delay which gave us the opportunity to start and complete most of the muster/safety drill. Suite folks lined up to board and we followed immediately behind them. I can say the Key was very helpful this time as we actually boarded the ship before our scheduled check-in window.

We headed right to the MDR to check-in with the Key desk and drop off our carry-ons for delivery to our cabin. We then stayed for our embarkation day Chops Grille menu lunch. We were all pleasantly surprised how well it turned out in the MDR. Since we had the Key lunch actually in Chops back in 2019 on Allure, we did not know what to expect this time around.

Everything was excellent!

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Excellent way to start the cruise!

Heading to bed now before my wife kills me (it’s 1:16am)!

I’ll wrap up embarkation day tomorrow!

Goodnight!

 

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Day 1:  Embarkation Day (Cont.)

During lunch we started reviewing the Royal app and the entertainment schedule. As mentioned in recent blogs, no reservations were required for any of the shows in the Royal Theater or Two70. The only show that required a reservation was The Book (Two70).

What really annoyed us was that none of the major productions in the Royal Theater were on the entertainment schedule for this cruise. I spoke to a couple of crew members in Two70 and at Guest Services later that evening and they explained that the contracts of the original cast of both Showgirls! and The Effectors has ended and the new cast in in rehearsals still. They did not know know when these productions would be back on the regular schedule. I did notice there is some abbreviated “Special Preview” of The Effectors on the final evening of the cruise. I doubt we’ll be able to catch it.

After we wandered around a bit and then headed to our cabin to unpack. Our carry-ons were in the cabin awaiting us. Here are some random shots we took before sail away.

Elevator tower (aft) artwork…

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Two70…

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Solarium pool and one of the hot tubs… love the multi-tiered pools! Also love the two double hot tubs. Without a doubt, the tiered pool and double hot tubs on Odyssey/Quantum class are much nicer than those on Oasis class! Smaller, but nicer solarium IMHO for the water lovers. More pics to come.

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That playful cat!

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Aft main pool…

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Forward pool… generally less crowded so far…

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The Regal Princess, Celebrity Reflection, and Celebrity Apex were among the ships in port…

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We stayed on the glass walkway that wraps around the Sky Pad and extends over the ship… freaky if you have a fear of heights…

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Goodbye Ft. Lauderdale!

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Day 1:  Embarkation Day (Cont.)

We had 6:30pm My Time reservations in the MDR. Tonight was Prime Rib night, but since we all had the Filet for lunch, we opted for the Herb-Crusted Salmon. We all had the Maryland Style Crab Cake… very tasty, but don’t expect the real deal with huge chunks of crab.  I had the French Onion soup and the ladies had the Wild Mushroom soup. For dessert I had the Creme Brulee and the ladies had the Royal Cheesecake and the Apple Blossom A La Mode.

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Later that evening, we went to see the 10:15pm showing of The Book in Two70. Since we have the Key for this sailing, we were told to arrive 45 minutes before show time for the choice of seats. They formed 2 lines… one line for Pinnacle, Diamond Plus, suite guests, and folks with the Key. The other was for general admission (Diamond on down).

We were actually first on line. The crew member recommended siting upstairs in the first row in the center of the venue. Good choice! 

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The performers and production quality of this show was top notch, but we all felt it lacked something… continuity. Some of the other Royal-created productions we’ve seen in the past seemed confusing as well for the same reason. It’s seems like they create individual routines (chapters in The Book) and stitch them together hoping it will make sense. It is definitely worth seeing… form you own opinion as I have heard many people love it.

That concluded the evening for my wife and our friend and they hit the sack.

Here is a copy of the entertainment guide and Cruise Compass for Day 1:

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Day 2:  Nassau (cont.)

We woke up early this morning in Nassau to the Carnival Conquest and the British Colonial Hilton off the starboard side…

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A busy day in Nassau as the Celebrity Reflection (starboard) and Celebrity Apex (port) followed us from Ft. Lauderdale…

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… and Indy (port) joined us as well!

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We decided not to get off the ship today and headed to the Windjammer for breakfast. After breakfast we headed to the solarium and used the hot tubs. The pool water was on the chilly side, so us lightweights didn’t last very long and went back to the hot tubs! We met this lady in the solarium… very friendly…

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The ladies had booked a massage in the spa, so I took the opportunity to explore the ship some more…

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OK… time to call it a night! 

 

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Day 2:  Nassau (cont.)

When the ladies returned from their massages, we went to El Loco Fresh for lunch and then back to the solarium for a bit.

We had dinner once again in the MDR. Just a reminder that if you have a special diet or special requests to tell your waiter. My wife requested low sodium this time (elevated BP) so they bring over the menu for the next evening and you make your selections. They will then prepare your meal accordingly when you come the following evening.

We also requested the famous “savory bites” for the remaining evenings in the MDR. I cannot remember if we’ve had these before, but everyone seems to love these little rolls!

Here is the Day 2 MDR menu:

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Some pics of the entrance into the MDR… cool video walls!

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The ladies had the Seafood Puff Pastry and the Shrimp Cocktail. I had the Baked Potato Soup and the Shrimp Cocktail as well. Wow, forgot how tiny these shrimp are compared to the specialty dining restaurants like Chops!

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Not the best MDR menu this evening… we all elected to have the Beef Stroganoff. Just an FYI… not the creamy kind you are likely familiar with. It was tasty, just not memorable.

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For dessert, two of us had the Bananas Foster and the other had the Traditional English Trifle. We all enjoyed the dessert!

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We had no interest in watching the Super Bowl… I know, blasphemy!

I’m a huge hockey and baseball fan. If the Jets could ever field a decent team and make the playoffs again, then I’d be interested! They showed the game in Two70 and the Forward pool on the big screen. Additionally, they showed it in Playmakers, but there was a $50 cover charge which included food, etc (not sure of all details).

We explored the interior of the ship some more and visited Boleros to listen to a couple of bands (not just Latin bands) and then called it a night.

This guy treated us when we got back to our cabin…

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Day 3:  Sea Day (Valentine’s Day)

Last evening before we hit the sack, I went to Guest Services for the passenger count. They mentioned the pre-cruise count was as high as 3,300 at one point… they looked it up and confirmed that the total official count for this cruise is 2,724.

 

Here is the Cruise Compass for today:

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My wife and I went to the Windjammer (Solarium Bistro does not offer breakfast like on Oasis class). We headed to the solarium a little before 10:00am to eventually meet up with our friend.

The place was empty on a sea day! It did pick up late morning into the afternoon. It looks like my wife is being boiled alive, LOL!

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We set up shop right up front… very relaxing view!

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For lunch, we went to the Windjammer… retrained ourselves as we have Chef’s Table tonight and we did not want to destroy our appetite! This will be our first Chef’s Table experience. Tonight is also the first formal night of this sailing.

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OK, time for me to relax for a few and get ready for dinner tonight!

 

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Day 3:  Sea Day (Valentine’s Day - Cont.)

Wow! What a great experience we all had at Chef’s Table! Just remember it will take a good 3+ hours or so to complete all 6 courses!

3:30 from the time we met at the Schooner Bar (6:15pm) outside of Chops to the time we left Chops (9:45pm). The Chef’s Table room is in the back of Chops Grille. Because our friend’s husband could not make it, there were 9 of us in total.

Here’s a bad pic of the group… my wife’s eyes are closed of course! Waiting for the last party of two to arrive… this is that awkward moment when you do not know the group you are about to spend 3 plus hours with!

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We had an awesome group to dine with and all had a blast! The constant flow of wine helped! LOL! It was everyone’s first Chef’s Table experience.

Menu… 6 courses paired with wines!

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The various wines to be served during our meal…

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Our Chef…

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Our waiter…

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Course One:  Scallop Carpaccio… just OK was the consensus. I’ll take broiled or seared whole scallops any day.

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Course Two:  Smoked Tomato Soup… amazing… liked by all. 

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Course Three:  Maine Lobster Salad… also liked by all.

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Course Four:  Roasted Branzino… liked by all. Our first time eating Branzino. Skin separated very easily from the filet. Very tasty as prepared.

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Course Five:  Grilled Filet Mignon… loved by all. Not the best Filet we’ve had with Royal (Coco Beach Club is currently our favorite over Chef’s Table, 150 Central Park, and Chops Grille), but still tender and delicious!

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Course Six/Dessert:  The World… loved by all… our first time since we have not dined in Wonderland yet. Paired with a Salted Caramel Expresso Martini.

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Screen grab from video I took… one day I’ll figure out how to post videos!

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After almost 3.5 hours of drinking and eating we were all wiped out and headed back to our cabin for the night. Definitely an experience we will book again possibly for our Wonder sailing.

Tonight’s surprise waiting in our cabin…

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I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!

Have a great night everyone!

 

 

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Day 4:  Sea Day

Good morning!

Thankfully, we awoke from our food & wine coma!

Getting ready now to have breakfast this morning in the MDR. We like to fit that in once or twice during the cruise.

Not sure what the plans are today, but I’m sure it will include more pool and hot tub time!

 

Here is today’s Cruise Compass:

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Thank you, John.  You are an excellent live blogger !  I am not a fan of tomato soup but I absolutely love the smoked tomato soup from the Chef's Table.  That was a very handsome group for the CT last night.  While I  am not great with small talk and meeting new people I always seem to have a great time at the CT.  As you say, the free-flowing wine most likely helps !

I love it when I read, "Not sure what the plans are today...".  That's how you know someone is truly on vacation !!  Good for you.

 

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4 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Thank you, John.  You are an excellent live blogger !  I am not a fan of tomato soup but I absolutely love the smoked tomato soup from the Chef's Table.  That was a very handsome group for the CT last night.  While I  am not great with small talk and meeting new people I always seem to have a great time at the CT.  As you say, the free-flowing wine most likely helps !

I love it when I read, "Not sure what the plans are today...".  That's how you know someone is truly on vacation !!  Good for you.

 

Thanks Raye! You are too kind! I try my best to share and hope it either helps someone or raises their excitement level!

You, and so many others, on this forum have been so kind and have been invaluable resources for all of us! 😀

I love to plan, but sometimes you have to just relax and wing it!

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Day 4:  Sea Day (cont.)

We had breakfast in the MDR this morning. Service was excellent as usual. We were seated next to the window. Choppy seas today.

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MDR breakfast menu…

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Since we all have the DBP, we ordered fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream!

My wife and I started with the Granola Parfait.

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Two of us had The Classic Benedict and my wife had the Omelet Your Way with spinach and mushrooms…

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The Captain came on early today to notify us that today will be windy. As I write this post, the wind speed has fluctuated between 21-26 m/s (or 47-58 mph)!

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After breakfast we headed to the Solarium, but due to the late start and windy conditions it was full. We headed to the Forward pool (partially covered as structure and the North Star crane rest above), but it was freezing! We settled in by the Aft main pool which was warmer since it remains fully in the sun.

For lunch, we headed to Playmakers in the SeaPlex for lunch.

Here is the menu:

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We shared the Chicken Tenders… very good! Not the frozen stuff you generally find elsewhere. We did not eat the fries since all of the sandwiches come with the Playmakers fries.

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My wife had the Truffle Burger…

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Our friend had the Chicken Sandwich…

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I had the Playmakers Burger…

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My wife has been dreaming of the Campfire Cookie since she first had it on Oasis last OCT…

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We enjoyed all of the food. I’ll have to come back at some point to try the wings and nachos!

The ladies went back to the Solarium and I headed back to the cabin to relax for a bit!

 

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Day 4:  Sea Day (cont.)

Some random shots of Playmakers and the SeaPlex while we ate lunch this afternoon. Have to come back for bumper cars!

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MDR once again for dinner this evening… menu:

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We got our warm, fresh savory bites! Tasty!

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My wife had the Roasted Tomato Soup and Shrimp Cocktail while our friend had the Caesar Salad. I went with the Asian-Style Pork Tacos and the French Onion Soup. The pork tacos were very tasty this time… I had them on Allure back in 2019 and was not impressed. I’m glad I gave these another shot!

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We all had the Steak Diane with a side of Garlic Tiger Shrimp. We thought the Steak Diane was just okay, but the Garlic Tiger Shrimp was tasty. Another dish I had in Allure (Tiger Shrimp) and was not too impressed:

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We all finished with the Tiramisu… also very tasty. Not Giovanni’s tasty, but we enjoyed it!

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After dinner we made out way to the Royal Theater. We joined the “special” line for early entrance with the Pinnacle, Diamond Plus and suite guests since we have the Key. Although we would have had no problem getting decent seats on this sailing, we were happy to be able to sit exactly where we wanted to… dead center just a few rows back. Of course, there was someone tall sitting a couple of rows in front of me, LOL!

The show tonight was “Tap Factory”… synopsis from Royal: “TAP FACTORY is an explosive high octane show that merges percussion, acrobatics, hip hop, music, urban tap dance and comedy.”

We all enjoyed it… dare I say more than The Book! The crowd was cheering throughout and gave the cast a standing ovation. Here are a bunch of shots from the show:

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Headed back to our cabin as tomorrow is a long port day (Curaçao)… this guy was waiting tonight:

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Have a good night everyone!

 

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