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Allure of the Seas: May 14-22, Solo, Boardwalk Balcony


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Today was a good day. It was also an extremely windy day. Last night the sound of the hangers in the closet swinging around and bumping into each other woke me up a few times, but I went right back to sleep and really didn’t care. (I did take the unused hangers out of the closet today though and laid them on the floor.) The ship has been rocking for a day and a half, the wind is fierce, and the ocean has lots of little whitecaps. I have heard that Aruba is windy and it looks like that will be the case. The ship is still rocking and quivering even now while I type this. Somehow the aqua show still went on and the balancing guys still did their balancing routine, although it was somewhat abbreviated from normal.

 

it was a kind of fragmented day but a good one. I slept late and then went down to the promenade for a “fun fitness class.” I did this on Sunday as well and it was definitely fun and surprisingly challenging. Of course you’re doing your fitness class on the promenade which means the 40 or so people packed into the Cafe Promenade chairs sit back and stare and some even take out their phones and videotape while you’re doing grapevines and claps and squats and all that stuff. But at one point an adorable toddler came out of nowhere and joined in, randomly waving her arms around, and then her dad got into it as well and it was just too cute.

I had a very late breakfast at Park Café just as they were closing. I had the Egg McMuffin Panini which we are not supposed to identify as an Egg McMuffin. I got a giant croissant and took it back to my room and stuck it in the refrigerator. I went up to the pool deck and the wind was blowing like crazy. Towels were clipped to chairs but still billowing and flapping in the wind. It was also overcast and I was not interested in swimming at that point. I went back to the room and was able to FaceTime my husband for about an hour and catch up with each other and that was terrific.  
 

I rested for a while, sat on the balcony and watched the Aqua theater people have a practice session, walked around the promenade some more, sat out on the boardwalk when the sun came out, and watched people ride the carousel. A bunch of families came racing through the boardwalk and they all had a piece of paper in their hands. There was some kind of organized scavenger hunt going on and part of the quest was to take a picture next to the carousel and a picture next to the hotdog place.

I tried to join in a couple of trivia rounds, but apparently you need to get to the Schooner bar a good 30 minutes before trivia starts if you would like to have a chair or even if you would like to stand in the standing room only section and still be able to see and hear the game leader. I got there 15 minutes before it started and it was so packed that I was looking at standing pretty much out on the promenade by myself and straining to hear the questions being called out. I didn’t want to play trivia that bad so I gave up on it. 
 

I had dessert for lunch and then got to feeling a little bit lonely and disconnected. This seems to hit me on day three or four of my solo cruises, I am learning. A fleeting loneliness, I guess. I went up deck to the Flowrider to the boogie board section, and sat in the stands and watched everybody learning to use it. It was the perfect pick-me-up. That place was hopping with so much enthusiasm and excited faces and huge smiles and lots of laughter. I mean everyone there was in such high spirits and in a great mood. People would be so incredibly thrilled with themselves when they learned how to stand up on the boogie board on their knees. Every time someone wiped out and went flying they would laugh and laugh. There was lots of fist bumping and high-fiving each other among the riders as well. The families in the stands were taping on their phones and clapping and cheering. It was a really festive atmosphere, the most excited bunch I’ve ever seen around the Flowrider. I stayed an hour and a half soaking up the sun and watching all the good times and I felt much better after that. 
 

I went over to have a round of mini golf, but there was a backlog of people on the course and several groups of people sitting around waiting for their turn on the first hole, so I skipped it. At that point it was almost 4 and it’s become a tradition to head over to the Rising Tide bar around then. I get a club soda and ride the bar up and down while I catch up on emails and texts. The Internet signal is a lot better on the promenade than it is in my room. Just the same, I can’t upload pictures here on this page and I can’t send any video clips to my family, it just seems to be too much for the Internet to handle.


Later I went back and the mini golf was mostly empty so I tried to play. But every time I set my ball on the ground, the wind would snatch it away and roll it all over the place before I could hit it. 
 

There was a lot of people playing ping-pong today, and some kind of really lively basketball competition among a bunch of different three-man teams on the sports deck. There was also a beanbag toss competition, the scavenger hunt, and most of the shops were open all day and evening.

 

Side note: on the pool deck this afternoon, I saw a man with no shirt, tropical print swim shorts, heavy duty wool socks that came up to his knees, and super thick heavy military grade army boots on. There’s a story there somewhere. Did he forget to pack his flip-flops? Is it comfortable in this heat, walking around in those boots?  We will never know.

 

A quick nap and it was dinner time. I decided to get to the Windjammer right when it opened so I went up to get in line at 5:50. There was about 150 people in line in front of me with the same idea. But I got in and got a plate of healthy food and took it back to my room and ate on the balcony. I just wasn’t up to fighting the mob in the Windjammer for a table and it was hot and stuffy in there. 

A tip for new solo cruisers: if you’re going to eat at the buffet, bring a few objects with you to help secure your table. Here’s the thing when you’re by yourself—if you get up to go get seconds or get dessert, you will come back to your table to find it has been cleared and there are new people sitting there. Likewise if you get your drinks first, set those drinks on the table and then go to get your food, same thing. You’ll come back and the table will have been cleared and someone else will have claimed it. So bring a beach bag or a baseball cap or a few things like that, set them across the table, and if possible grab a minute with one of the nearby employees and let them know you’ll be right back, and you should be in good shape. Having those objects on the table indicates you haven’t left yet.
 

The sun came out but the wind picked up even more to the point where the pools were just rippling like crazy and the lifeguard couldn’t keep his hat on. Whenever I was walking through a silent hallway I would hear the walls creaking. 
 

After dinner I went to karaoke. Great singing but the crowd was subdued compared to last night. There was a huge crowd of people that had to stand in the doorway to listen because all the chairs were filled up.  One of the people performing was a lady I also saw do karaoke on my last solo cruise on the odyssey in March. Small world.
 

After karaoke it was time for Jeff Tracta in the Amber theater. He was SUPER. Absolutely make reservations to go see him and make sure you stick to those reservations because he will sell out and you won’t be able to get in. I think he’s only doing two performances this whole cruise. Every seat in the Amber theater was taken.

He’s a singer and actor but he does impressions so all of his act was impersonating different singers and actors and he was just so good. It sounds like nothing special the way I’m describing it, but it really was amazing. I didn’t really know what to expect and didn’t have high hopes but he was just terrific. 
 

Then it was time to scurry up to my balcony and eat the croissant I had saved, and watch the aqua show for I think the fourth time? If you’re a fan of the aqua show, a boardwalk balcony near the very end is a great idea. If you’re hoping to be sound asleep before 11 o’clock at night, then a boardwalk balcony is a terrible idea.

 

When I came back to my room this evening, I had a note in my door. It says that they will be doing cleaning and maintenance on balconies starting at 9 AM in the morning so to make sure and keep our curtains closed for privacy.

 

Tomorrow we are in Aruba from 8 AM to 10:30 PM so it will be a good long day and I’m sure people will maximize the opportunity. I’m looking forward to getting off the ship and seeing what I see.

I made a request on day one with my room steward to have a printed copy of the daily compass brought to my room each day and that’s been happening, so that’s been great. There just seems to be better information on the printed copy, a more complete picture I guess, then scrolling to selections on your app. But they definitely want you to use that app. 
 

The mood on the ship today was high energy and good spirits. Fatigue has not set in yet for us 5000 folks. The high spirits may have had something to do with the fact that today, it seemed like everybody was drinking like there’s no tomorrow.

 

I have a weird observation… And it’s probably just a misconception on my part, but it seems to me that they’re treating ice like it’s a rare commodity on this cruise. It’s hard to find plain old ice to put in your drinks. At the Windjammer, you do not have access to an ice machine like you do on other ships. You simply have access to the grab and go drinks which either don’t have ice in them or have only a few mostly melted shards of ice bobbing on the surface. 

so I miss not being able to have a glass full of ice and have a really *cold* drink. At the Rising Tide bar each day, I get a very small glass that’s only half full of ice and then a room temperature can of club soda to go with it. Naturally the ice melts almost instantly. One day I went up to the bartender and said could you put more ice in my glass, please? He tipped exactly 3 cubes into my glass with a big flourish, like he was doing something grand. Same experience at Starbucks. It’s a small thing, but I guess going eight days without access to an ice machine might be an issue for some people. I had my club soda at the poolside bar my first day and they were also very sparing with the ice cubes. Weird. on the Odyssey, there was an ice machine next to the water dispenser and you could fill up your cup or portable thermos whenever you want it. Not the case here. 

I realize these are incredibly trivial things to comment on, but I’m just sharing what’s happening here.

anyway, looking forward to tomorrow and I plan on bringing my phone and taking pictures! Like I said, it was a little bit of an up-and-down all over the place kind of day, but it was still a really great day and the evening was just crammed with wonderful entertainment. That has absolutely been the highlight of the cruise so far, the great entertainment.

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Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts on your Allure experience! My wife and I were on the ship last week May 8 to 14 and had similar experiences. It was very crowded but we found ways to have our own space at times. I found that depending on the time of day you could get easy access to food / drink / activities if you timed it right (off-peak hours I'll call it). I am curious how the covid situation has been on the ship, as sadly by day 5 I had contracted it and once we returned home so did my wife. We hand sanitized constantly and were semi-liberal with mask wearing, which probably caused me to get it (either during the theatre showing of mama mia, or during the my time dining with long lines and big crowds). Suffice it to say we had an all around great vacation and can't wait to do royal again, though next time we may opt to spend a little more for a newer ship. 

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Today was a great day with an unexpected event added in.

 

I booked my cruise a little bit late in the game, so by the time I got to “plan my cruise“, all of the shore excursions for Aruba were mostly sold out. What was left was overpriced trips in a motorcoach bus, which I did not want to do, or variations on touring the island and then spending a couple of hours at the beach. I’m not a beach person and definitely didn’t want to do any of those. So I ended up coming on the cruise with nothing planned for Aruba.

We were allowed to get off the ship shortly after 8 o’clock this morning, so I was off by 8:15 and walking into town to just look around. For reference, from my door, out the ship, and to the edge of town at the end of the pier is .70 miles. Keep that in mind when planning your outing! It’s nearly a mile and a half just round-trip from ship to town.

 

I walked around and looked around a little bit but it was all shops and not much else to see. I went into a souvenir shop and spent a while looking at things and buying a few things. Back at the pier, there were some merchants that had set up shop so I looked around their stands for a little bit. When I was done looking around I thought, I guess I’ll go back to the ship now. It was only 10 o’clock. I thought to myself, that’s it? That’s all I’m going do in Aruba? I felt annoyed with myself for not planning ahead and finding something, anything to help me explore the island a little better. I hadn’t felt comfortable approaching independent tour guides online because I’m traveling alone and I just, I don’t know, I just didn’t want to go with an independent guide based on something off TripAdvisor and nothing else. 
 

Just then I overheard a guy talking to two ladies standing next to me on the sidewalk. He was showing them a big colorful map and explaining where he would take them on the tour if he they wanted to join in. He pointed to a gigantic authentic military open-air truck nearby that was already half-filled with people, and said “that’s my truck, you hop in and I will take you all over the island and show you all of the main landmarks for $25.” 
 

They didn’t want to go but I told him I was interested. Seeing that the truck was already full of people and talking to the guy face-to-face somehow made all of the difference. I would not have booked a tour with anyone online with no knowledge of them for some reason, but logical or not, it felt right to go ahead and join this tour on the spot.  
 

The guy showed me the map and there were things on there I had wanted to see, such as the lighthouse and the natural bridge. I had exactly $35 cash left in my purse, (I did not take anything besides cash), so I hopped into the truck and within a few minutes, away we went! There were 12 of us, all of us off of the ship, and we were ready to have some fun. The guy cranked up some tunes and we blew through town and out into the heart of Aruba. The wind was so fierce I thought my face might be peeled off, but I got used to it after a while.

 

The guys name is Edmond, and he didn’t have a name of his company on his truck or anything like that, but if you come to Aruba and look for him, look for the largest open air truck out of all the other open air trucks waiting by the pier (painted camouflage). He’s a former Marine and he is very proud of Aruba and happy to show it off. 
 

The tour lasted three hours. It is so great to do a tour like that in a huge vehicle like that with tires that are about 8 feet tall. Everywhere we went was off-road and we bumped and flew through the air and laughed and clung to our belonging so they wouldn’t fly away and yes, we ate dirt from off-road vehicles in front of us and we had our skin scoured by the wind, but we did not care. We laughed and listened to reggae tunes and got to know each other and had a big time. Eventually people asked me if I was traveling alone and they were both horrified and intrigued when I said that yes, I was.

We saw the Gold Mill ruins, the lighthouse, the natural bridge, and several other things, but most of all, we saw the heart of Aruba, driving all over the back roads from one place to the other. That was by far the most interesting part of the whole day, was seeing the real true Aruba and how people live on the island. It’s nothing like I pictured. I had this idea Aruba would be one big shiny resort, brand-new and sparkling clean. That is not the case in the least. For one thing, Aruba is one big dust bowl, and most parts of it are either dirt or concrete or sand, rocks and scrubby areas, and lots and lots of big cactus. The majority of the beaches look like Mars. The homes are all one-level concrete rectangles, and you can see that the majority of people in Aruba don’t have a lot of money. Backyards are just dirt or concrete, there’s rubble everywhere, and everywhere we passed homes, there was quite a bit of evidence of cockfighting paraphernalia, such as rows and rows of cages in yards and such. I asked Edmond about it and he confirmed that yes, it’s all cockfighting, and no, it’s not legal here. But it’s so out in the open. I guess the authorities look the other way? 
 

Anyway, it was really interesting to see something behind the resorts and to see so many locals. Everywhere we stopped, there were local citizens out selling this or that. Lots of people were selling coconut water. They would take a coconut out of the truck, chop off an end and stick a straw in it. Every single person on the truck including Edmond bought one of those coconuts and sat around drinking the water and exclaming over how great it was. Finally one of the ladies asked me why I wasn’t going to get one. I just kept saying “I’m good, I’m fine “, but she was kind of aggressive about wanting me to get a coconut and join in. I finally said, “I don’t have enough cash. I have just enough cash for the tour and a tip for Edmond and that’s it. “ She immediately said, “I buy you one.“ Next thing I know, she was putting  a giant coconut in my hand and had paid for it. How nice is that? It is so great to know that there are still kind hearted people out there who don’t want to see anyone left out. 

 

Edmond said that Aruba has an extremely low crime rate… Less than 4%. He said they are a mix of all different cultures and backgrounds and they are proud to say they all get along great and they love tourists. This is part of the reason why the official slogan for Aruba is “one happy island.“

 

The tour lasted three hours and was SO FUN and then I was dropped back at the ship. By this time I was completely coated in sweat and dirt and dust and my hair was a giant tumbleweed from being blown in the wind for three straight hours. I went back to the ship feeling so, so happy that I had more to remember about Aruba than a gift shop. And I was able to take lots of video from the truck as we drove around, so I can show my husband. He would’ve loved this, and the part he would love the most is seeing the homes and the “real life“ of Aruba.

Back onboard,  I had a long shower and then went down to the Promenade for a snack.  it was 3 PM and I had not eaten anything all day.

 

Sorrento’s was the most logical choice and I got in line behind a handful of people and guess what? There was exactly 2 slices of pepperoni left. There were two employees back there hustling like crazy to get more pies in the oven and it was just so sad. There was a lady standing around waiting for a vegetarian pie to come out of the oven and she told me, “these guys work their butts off every single day. Why is there only two of them? They need about five more people back here. They stay busy constantly.”

 

I couldn’t agree more, and the same goes for café promenade. But I waited around for the pizza to come out of the oven and got a slice, and then I went over to the bar at On Air. I’ve only used three bars this cruise so far, but on air has the friendliest  bartenders. I had them make me a virgin piña colada and then I sat on the promenade and had my (delicious) piña colada and pizza and caught up on texts. 
I stopped at Café Promenade for a cookie, and the person in line in front of me ordered several desserts and asked for two spoons and two forks. She ended up needing a bigger plate and I have to say, the employee behind the counter wasn’t exactly rude, but she was borderline rude. Not nearly the friendly attitude that I see everywhere on Royal under normal circumstances. But it was the kind of rude that seemed born of exhaustion, you know what I mean? And I’m sure there’s a lot of that going on right now.

 

After that I spent some time in my room and talked to my husband on the phone a while, then I went to the wind jammer for dinner and loaded up on some good food. And I do mean “good”, not great. Not even the desserts. I took a little walk around boardwalk and discovered that the aqua theater people were having a rehearsal and lots of people had gathered around to watch. So I grabbed a chair and watched that for a long time and that was so interesting.

 

I planned to go see the Ice Show again tonight (because it’s that good!) and then go to the love and marriage game show, which I was really looking forward to. But I am just too tired. And I have a tour tomorrow that leaves at 8:15! So I have put myself to bed.
 

Right as I was getting into bed, I tried to open my safe to get my things out to prepare for tomorrow. I messed it up somehow and the safe started beeping and beeping and wouldn’t stop and it wouldn’t open. I had to call maintenance. They were here within 20 minutes and had it fixed with a turn of a key.

 

Here’s an interesting thing. In the cruise compass for tomorrow under “today’s top deals,” they have a salon special. It’s a Keratin Express Blowout. The cruise compass says “call the spa to inquire about today’s special. “ I thought that sounded like something I might want to  do, so I called the spa and asked about it. The lady said, “oh, we don’t do keratin blowouts. We don’t have the product.”

 

I thought, “really? You might want to talk to the people who print the cruise compass.” But of course I didn’t say anything. But is that not a classic case of miscommunication? I know they have a template for these cruise compasses, but they edit it for each cruise because each daily compass has that day‘s weather and the time of sunrise and sunset and things like that. So they could’ve removed that keratin special if they wanted to. No big deal, but that spa is going to get a whole lot of phone calls tomorrow over nothing!

 

anyway, that was my experience in Aruba. Tomorrow is Curaçao and I’m looking forward to it. I’m doing a guided tour of the Hato caves and a few other places. I’m sunburned and tired, but feel like I really had a great day and got a very good experience in the special port I have never been to! 

we are here until 1030, which is right now, so we should be leaving it any minute!

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5 hours ago, GunnerGuy said:

Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts on your Allure experience! My wife and I were on the ship last week May 8 to 14 and had similar experiences. It was very crowded but we found ways to have our own space at times. I found that depending on the time of day you could get easy access to food / drink / activities if you timed it right (off-peak hours I'll call it). I am curious how the covid situation has been on the ship, as sadly by day 5 I had contracted it and once we returned home so did my wife. We hand sanitized constantly and were semi-liberal with mask wearing, which probably caused me to get it (either during the theatre showing of mama mia, or during the my time dining with long lines and big crowds). Suffice it to say we had an all around great vacation and can't wait to do royal again, though next time we may opt to spend a little more for a newer ship. 

I’m so sorry you caught Covid! Not a surprise though… It just seems like we should all pretty much expect it these days. especially with the ships at full capacity, it’s just not possible to keep even a little bit of distance from each other anymore. Like tonight when I was standing in line for the wind jammer, the guy behind me absolutely had to stand on my heels every second, as though he would get to the food faster if he did that. I would take a little step forward and he would take one right with me and still be standing on my heels. I didn’t want to crowd the lady in front of me, as she was wearing a mask and obviously trying to be careful. 
I plan on testing the day after I get home and then testing several days later. I hope you’re feeling well and that you guys don’t get  ill. Thank you for reading and for commenting. I hope you guys get well soon.

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14 hours ago, GunnerGuy said:

Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts on your Allure experience! My wife and I were on the ship last week May 8 to 14 and had similar experiences. It was very crowded but we found ways to have our own space at times. I found that depending on the time of day you could get easy access to food / drink / activities if you timed it right (off-peak hours I'll call it). I am curious how the covid situation has been on the ship, as sadly by day 5 I had contracted it and once we returned home so did my wife. We hand sanitized constantly and were semi-liberal with mask wearing, which probably caused me to get it (either during the theatre showing of mama mia, or during the my time dining with long lines and big crowds). Suffice it to say we had an all around great vacation and can't wait to do royal again, though next time we may opt to spend a little more for a newer ship. 

Were  you able to quarantine in your room or did they move you to the COVID rooms?  So sorry you ended up I’ll…and your wife!  Hope everyone is doing well now.

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We docked in Curaçao early this morning. From the ship, it looked like such a colorful town, and it is. For those of you who have been here, you know what I mean. The buildings are all painted bright colors with white trim and it looks so pretty!

My tour group met at the dock at 8:15. I had booked a tour called Hato Caves and City Center. 

This is how it was supposed to go: we meet at the pier and we climb onto a bus. We are driven to the caves and we view the caves. Then we are driven back to the ship and deposited at the pier, or if we want we can be dropped off in town for shopping and then we walk back to the ship from there on our own.

Apparently there weren’t enough buses to go around today because everything changed. Instead of getting onto a bus, the guide led us for quite a long walk into town. This was a huge problem for some of the people in the group who had not planned on doing any walking. I mean we had several people in the group who really couldn’t walk, and had planned on riding the bus from the pier to the caves and then back to the pier again.  And it was hot already, which made it worse for those struggling. There was quite a bit of grumbling and complaining and the guide got defensive and snappish. She said don’t blame her, it wasn’t her fault. It just all started off kind of badly. So we were off to a rocky start, but just the same, we shambled into town in a straggled out group and the guide did her best to kill 20 minutes talking about a few different buildings. You could see how proud she was of Curaçao and pretty soon people warmed up and the group got a more friendly vibe to it. Eventually the bus arrived and it was a fairly quick drive to the caves. 

The caves were very interesting. There was a terrible awkward moment though because the guide (a different one), explained to us that we were not allowed to take pictures inside. So we’re walking around the caves and looking at everything and he’s explaining what we’re looking at, and there’s two guys next to me taking pictures. One has his phone without a flash and the other one is using a GoPro and of course the guide did not notice.

 

A fellow cave guide came bustling over to the group and spoke to our guide in a different language and she was angry. The guide looked shocked and betrayed and turned to those two men and asked “did you take pictures?“ Both of them denied it. The other guide said, “HELLO. I SAW YOU.” At which point the guys apologized.

I wanted to crawl in a hole out of embarrassment for those guys, doing the one thing our elderly guide had asked us not to do. Why? Why ignore instructions? 

We pressed on with the tour and there was a pretty big group of us. The caves were really interesting and the guide had quite a lot to say about the different features and rooms within the caves. Occasionally we saw small bats flitting around.  At the very end we were led into the largest chamber of all and we were allowed to take pictures in there so we all took a few minutes to pose and pass cameras back-and-forth for pictures.

When we finished with our cave tour, we all looked around for our guide, but she had disappeared. Our bus was not there either, it was off picking up some other group. Like I said, they didn’t have enough buses to go around today so they were splitting the load between different groups. But about 10 minutes later it showed up and our guide was on the bus and the air-conditioning felt great. Half of us elected to be dropped in town for shopping and the rest rode the bus back to the ship. I bought a few things, took some pictures, and was back on the ship by noon.

 

Sorrento‘s didn’t open until one and the Park Café was crowded, so I grabbed some sandwiches and cookies at Café Promenade and something at Starbucks and ate on the promenade. I have really spent so much time there this week, it’s turned out to be my favorite spot on this ship.

 

Sidenote: the ice thing again. I ordered a Frappuccino at Starbucks and they did not use enough ice. What is going on? Consequently, it was a little thin and not cold enough.

 

After lunch, I really hit a wall. I’ve been averaging 8 miles a day according to my watch, and I just ran out of gas today. I went to my room and laid around for about four hours, watching TV and sleeping. I also talked to my husband on the phone a couple of times. I’ve been waiting on some news from home and it was good news! So that was a good thing.
 

I got back up and had some caffeine late in the afternoon, made a couple of laps around the ship, and then found the perfect spot to watch sail away.

 

Here’s a question. Why do people cut it down to the absolute wire to return to the ship? We were all warned be back on the ship by 530. At 5:25 the final clumps of people began to drift in, in segments. A family came first, around 5:28 came another couple, at 5:30 came another couple and then at 5:35 came the final couple. And none of them were in a hurry. I don’t get it. I would be in an panic to cut it that close or be five minutes late. It was very kind of the captain not to takeoff without them.

 

The minute those guys boarded we were off. The captain said we were going to travel at a high rate of speed in order to make it back to Florida by early Sunday morning. His definition of a high rate of speed is 20 knots per hour, and I have no clue what that means in terms of speed. He warned us that the ship might be rocking tonight and it is. I have a tote bag hanging from a hook on the wall and it is swinging around and the hangers in the closet are bumping.

 

Dinner at the wind jammer and then I watched the ice-skating show for the third time. Yes, it’s that good! I noticed that the ice-skating people and the aqua theater people perform constantly, but Mamma Mia is only doing three performances, and Jeff Tracta did two.

 

After the ice-skating show I was able to get in and see Jeff’s second show and it was so good. He really is amazing.

 

Then it was time for the big giant event of the evening… The 70s disco party on the promenade! The place was absolutely jammed, I think almost all of the 5000 people on the ship were in the promenade at one time. The crew dressed up in 70s costumes and performed very energetic and choreographed 70s dance numbers to all kinds of different songs and the crowd was going wild. I was right in the middle of it, crushed among the masses, and thinking to myself, “we’re all going to test positive for Covid in a few days.“ But I was waving my arms around and dancing with the best of them. Yes, I chose to take the risk. But I feel like I chose to take a risk just by coming on the cruise, and after a week of being in the jammed Windjammer, the jammed elevators, the busy stairwells, the busy bars, the jampacked theaters, and a couple of tours, I don’t see the point in suddenly deciding I need to social distance. It’s too late. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I’m vaccinated and I’ve had Covid and I have high hopes that if I were to pick it up again, it wouldn’t be bad.  My feeling is, if I was very afraid of catching Covid, the last thing I would do is travel.
 

Anyway—then it was into bed where I plan to stay for a long time. Sleeping late tomorrow for sure. We’re looking at two days at sea to wrap up our cruise and I’m ready to do some serious relaxing.

 

When I came back to my room this evening, I was struck by how incredibly warm the hallway is in this one little last section where I am. My room is is warm tonight, not terribly so, but considerably warmer than I would like it.

 

Today I noticed my room steward was wearing wet knee-high rain galoshes. He said the stewards are responsible for hosing off the balconies each week. I had a note that yesterday they would be washing off the boardwalk balconies and to make sure to keep the curtains closed, but I had no idea the room stewards did it. They seem to do everything!

 

lots of organized events tomorrow, and most of them are active. There’s Flowrider competitions, basketball competitions, a hole in one at the mini golf course competition, things like that. Tons of trivia as well and more entertainment in the evening. Another full day! 
 

this morning when I was waiting around for my tour to start, the lady behind me struck up a conversation and asked “are you on your own?“ She looked immediately intrigued when I said that yes, I was traveling alone. She’s a travel agent and we chatted about it and she commented on how she didn’t like the fact that even when you travel alone, you still have to pay nearly the full price of two people. 
 

Obviously, I don’t like it either, but I understand. If I take up a cabin with just myself, it’s a cabin they could fill with two people, and two people would spend quite a bit more on drinks and dining and spa treatments than just one person, I guess. And if you could get a cabin for half price all to yourself, why in the world wouldn’t people do that all the time and eat up all of the cabins and leave the ship without enough to go around for couples, right? But it would be nice if Royal Caribbean could find someway to make some allowances or perks for solo travelers at some point. I know a few ships have a few solo cabins, but they are awfully scarce. 

 

wishful thinking, I guess! But maybe at some point they’ll look at it. 

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Speaking of COVID …  I have really been enjoying your blog, SSA in anticipation of our 50th Anniversary sailing on Allure on 5/28. Well, that plan crashed & burned today when I tested positive. Attended a 1st birthday party for my youngest granddaughter last weekend apparently along with someone who infected several of us. We will reschedule something when we have a chance to talk to our TA. Oh well … when life gives you lemons …

Thnx again for your wonderfully honest and insitefull writing. Enjoy your last couple of sea days,SSA.

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On 5/18/2022 at 6:48 PM, She Sails Away said:

Today was a great day with an unexpected event added in.

...

I walked around and looked around a little bit but it was all shops and not much else to see. I went into a souvenir shop and spent a while looking at things and buying a few things. Back at the pier, there were some merchants that had set up shop so I looked around their stands for a little bit. When I was done looking around I thought, I guess I’ll go back to the ship now. It was only 10 o’clock. I thought to myself, that’s it? That’s all I’m going do in Aruba? I felt annoyed with myself for not planning ahead and finding something, anything to help me explore the island a little better. I hadn’t felt comfortable approaching independent tour guides online because I’m traveling alone and I just, I don’t know, I just didn’t want to go with an independent guide based on something off TripAdvisor and nothing else. 
 

Just then I overheard a guy talking to two ladies standing next to me on the sidewalk. He was showing them a big colorful map and explaining where he would take them on the tour if he they wanted to join in. He pointed to a gigantic authentic military open-air truck nearby that was already half-filled with people, and said “that’s my truck, you hop in and I will take you all over the island and show you all of the main landmarks for $25.” 
 

They didn’t want to go but I told him I was interested. Seeing that the truck was already full of people and talking to the guy face-to-face somehow made all of the difference. I would not have booked a tour with anyone online with no knowledge of them for some reason, but logical or not, it felt right to go ahead and join this tour on the spot.  
 

The guy showed me the map and there were things on there I had wanted to see, such as the lighthouse and the natural bridge. I had exactly $35 cash left in my purse, (I did not take anything besides cash), so I hopped into the truck and within a few minutes, away we went! There were 12 of us, all of us off of the ship, and we were ready to have some fun. The guy cranked up some tunes and we blew through town and out into the heart of Aruba. The wind was so fierce I thought my face might be peeled off, but I got used to it after a while.

 

The guys name is Edmond, and he didn’t have a name of his company on his truck or anything like that, but if you come to Aruba and look for him, look for the largest open air truck out of all the other open air trucks waiting by the pier (painted camouflage). He’s a former Marine and he is very proud of Aruba and happy to show it off. 
 

The tour lasted three hours. It is so great to do a tour like that in a huge vehicle like that with tires that are about 8 feet tall. Everywhere we went was off-road and we bumped and flew through the air and laughed and clung to our belonging so they wouldn’t fly away and yes, we ate dirt from off-road vehicles in front of us and we had our skin scoured by the wind, but we did not care. We laughed and listened to reggae tunes and got to know each other and had a big time. Eventually people asked me if I was traveling alone and they were both horrified and intrigued when I said that yes, I was.

We saw the Gold Mill ruins, the lighthouse, the natural bridge, and several other things, but most of all, we saw the heart of Aruba, driving all over the back roads from one place to the other. That was by far the most interesting part of the whole day, was seeing the real true Aruba and how people live on the island. It’s nothing like I pictured. I had this idea Aruba would be one big shiny resort, brand-new and sparkling clean. That is not the case in the least. For one thing, Aruba is one big dust bowl, and most parts of it are either dirt or concrete or sand, rocks and scrubby areas, and lots and lots of big cactus. The majority of the beaches look like Mars. The homes are all one-level concrete rectangles, and you can see that the majority of people in Aruba don’t have a lot of money. Backyards are just dirt or concrete, there’s rubble everywhere, and everywhere we passed homes, there was quite a bit of evidence of cockfighting paraphernalia, such as rows and rows of cages in yards and such. I asked Edmond about it and he confirmed that yes, it’s all cockfighting, and no, it’s not legal here. But it’s so out in the open. I guess the authorities look the other way? 
 

Anyway, it was really interesting to see something behind the resorts and to see so many locals. Everywhere we stopped, there were local citizens out selling this or that. Lots of people were selling coconut water. They would take a coconut out of the truck, chop off an end and stick a straw in it. Every single person on the truck including Edmond bought one of those coconuts and sat around drinking the water and exclaming over how great it was. Finally one of the ladies asked me why I wasn’t going to get one. I just kept saying “I’m good, I’m fine “, but she was kind of aggressive about wanting me to get a coconut and join in. I finally said, “I don’t have enough cash. I have just enough cash for the tour and a tip for Edmond and that’s it. “ She immediately said, “I buy you one.“ Next thing I know, she was putting  a giant coconut in my hand and had paid for it. How nice is that? It is so great to know that there are still kind hearted people out there who don’t want to see anyone left out. 

 

Edmond said that Aruba has an extremely low crime rate… Less than 4%. He said they are a mix of all different cultures and backgrounds and they are proud to say they all get along great and they love tourists. This is part of the reason why the official slogan for Aruba is “one happy island.“

 

The tour lasted three hours and was SO FUN and then I was dropped back at the ship. By this time I was completely coated in sweat and dirt and dust and my hair was a giant tumbleweed from being blown in the wind for three straight hours. I went back to the ship feeling so, so happy that I had more to remember about Aruba than a gift shop. And I was able to take lots of video from the truck as we drove around, so I can show my husband. He would’ve loved this, and the part he would love the most is seeing the homes and the “real life“ of Aruba.

 

 

anyway, that was my experience in Aruba. Tomorrow is Curaçao and I’m looking forward to it. I’m doing a guided tour of the Hato caves and a few other places. I’m sunburned and tired, but feel like I really had a great day and got a very good experience in the special port I have never been to! 

we are here until 1030, which is right now, so we should be leaving it any minute!

@She Sails Away, this account epitomizes the "brave" part of solo cruising to me!  I could tell from your story that serendipity played a large part, as it often does (i.e., feeling bad that you hadn't planned anything, overhearing the gentleman (Edmond)'s conversation about his tour, seeing that there were other people already on the truck, having just the right amount of $ in your wallet).  However, it did take courage to make the leap onto the tour, and I'm so glad you did!  Thank you for sharing your story -- it was inspirational to me, as that's something I wrestled with on my solo cruises -- trying to do different things, but doing them safely and within reasonable bounds of my comfort level.

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@She Sails Away I'm following this thread and when I see my notification I look forward to what you have written. The excitement, the good and bad is really a great read. I feel like I'm there with you, I'm enjoying it so much and love your attitude about it all..  I second the gratitude for your honest and insightful comments......

@Hoebo123 oh no, I'm so sorry! Im a big if its meant to be the universe works kind of person, 5/28 seems like its going to be crazy for multiple reasons. Take good care and feel better soon, I'm sure the replacement sailing will be even better! 

 

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5 hours ago, Hoebo123 said:

Speaking of COVID …  I have really been enjoying your blog, SSA in anticipation of our 50th Anniversary sailing on Allure on 5/28. Well, that plan crashed & burned today when I tested positive. Attended a 1st birthday party for my youngest granddaughter last weekend apparently along with someone who infected several of us. We will reschedule something when we have a chance to talk to our TA. Oh well … when life gives you lemons …

Thnx again for your wonderfully honest and insitefull writing. Enjoy your last couple of sea days,SSA.

Oh no! So sorry. I know you were really looking forward to that sailing. I hope that you are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and you recover soon. And I hope when you do sail, you’ll blog and keep us updated on how you guys are doing and how things go. So sorry!

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On 5/17/2022 at 1:08 PM, Neesa said:

@She Sails Away this on site on ship  information is priceless, I really do appreciate it!  I understand Royal is in business to make money, I totally get it.  But I said this back in December while on the Odyssey sailing to no where, 8 nights of sailing as our covid numbers would not allow us off the ship in Port, they ramped capacity too fast, too soon. First sailing I was just thinking can we return early please? Staff would disappear as the week went on, it was tough to watch.

I know Mr. Liberty is a numbers guy and I understand they must try to do right for the stock holders but at what cost moving forward?  Our FCC sailings in June & July are most likely going to be the last for us in a while. I am almost 99% sure we are canceling our Thanksgiving 2022 as the cost seems it may not be justified. A little break to explore land vacations for us, just until we feel the cost is = to the experience. I'm not booking any new sailings moving forward, to many hoops in addition to inflated costs for a mediocre experience. 

This venue (unofficial RC blog) is such a great place to exchange real time information, I find it difficult to believe some of the "bloggers" on board videos etc. when due to the nature of what they do they receive "comped" sailings thus leaning positive no matter what. An experience for free is surely different from the experience that is paid for. 

Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your sailing, glass half full is still the best way to move forward while on board , right?? Enjoy & cheers to you when you enjoy your next mock tail. 

animated series dance GIF by Oggy and the Cockroaches

 

Sailing to nowhere? That sounds awful. How did they make that announcement? How did the passengers take it? Did they offer any kind of compensation?

 

thank you for your kind words and following along with me on the blog!

 

I agree with you about this website being a gem. And I agree with you about video bloggers… I follow many and some of them, although I very much enjoy them, are always so positive and cheerful… You have to wonder if that’s 100% true. You know? I mean any form of travel, cruise or not, is going to have those less than perfect moments, like the food is not good or the shower’s not hot or what have you.  We don’t hear those “real” things. La Lido Loco did a five minute video about this Covid-on-board topic and got a bazillion comments on YouTube, most of them people sharing their horror stories. We don’t have many places to share info like that, and it seems like essential information to help people make informed choices about their travel plans. 

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@She Sails Away the sailing to nowhere did not start out that way! 8 Night southern in December, the ship was packed. I remember blogging about the fact our room steward told us they were at 100% minus of course the cabins set aside for "sick people" & people on here verbally assaulting me saying "that's not possible, no way.  The steward is lying," mind you the bloggers who responded were not on the ship with us, thus my appreciation for "real reports" like yours!

So we did go to CoCo Cay on Sunday, boarded Saturday and the private island on Sunday. But even then we felt something was off. Another ship also was on the Island & the people overwhelmed the staff. But I digress, we sailed down to the beautiful Curacao and the Captain made an announcement, the Island is having a meeting, our Covid numbers are being discussed. Almost every hour he updated us, our excursion time had come and gone we were docked at the Port staring at the beauty, but alas we were not allowed to disembark. This was after about 4 hours, fast forward Aruba would not let us in either. 

We sailed back and then in circles until we were scheduled to return, the one time I was really ready to leave a ship. The Odyssey was beautiful but staff were dropping like flies, one day our cabin steward was a sweaty mess you could see he was ill, no thank you. Please get well and I declined service the rest of the sailing. We were Sky class & CK was slow due to limited servers and the suite concierge disappeared after night 2. 

We did our best to make the best out of what we had and Royal did give us 50% of the fare we paid in FCC and the excursions were refunded in a very timely manner. I said it then, Royal was now in the position of only hurting themselves if they were not careful. As an aside I did hear a couple talk about just creating their antigen test results from taking a previous negative test and changing the dates to avoid the test again, smh we as passengers do have a responsibility to to abide by the protocols, but I also place blame on Royal for ramping up capacity way too fast. 

We are still happily sailing in June & July to use our FCC's and are fully aware of our responsibilities and exposure, we will be careful & enjoy but as I said before taking a break for a minute, some land exploring is now in order. The picture you just posted of Curacao, that is all we saw on that sailing 🙂 

I love that you are positive and making the most of it!

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I have really enjoyed this blog I think you have been extremely honest in a balanced kind of way weighing out the good and bad.  As others have said, we all know that this has not been the best couple of years for cruising and we as consumers have to weigh the Return On Investment for a vacation.

When it gets too hard to justify the money spent fewer people will book cruises and the lines will respond. But, RCL is still 45 Billion in the hole right now and they have to take that into consideration on ship occupation. I'd hate to be the CEO and CFO right now. Awesome blog I'll miss it when you're done.

 

 

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Today was a great day that seems long and varied when I look back on it. I planned to sleep late but woke up super early and was just done sleeping. I went up to the pool deck at 8 AM and every single nice chair on the immediate pool deck was covered in towels and there was barely a person in sight. Don’t you love that?

Normally when I cruise I spend a lot of time by the pool but that hasn’t happened since that long swim on day one on this cruise for a couple of reasons. One is that the pools are jammed since we’re at full capacity. The second is that I saw some shockingly vulgar behavior on pool deck on day two (ladies in thongs grinding on each other, grinding on statues, giving their boyfriends full on lap dances and no reaction from the crew or lifeguard in any way.) No thanks!

So I’ve re-discovered the promenade this week and really spent quite a bit of time there and really enjoyed every minute of it. It is just a great place to catch various live music all day long and into the evening, sit in a comfy chair, find snacks, or just read a book.

 

But anyway—I figured the pool would be empty that early in the morning so I went up and swam for an hour, and then I joined in a 9 AM water aerobics class. I didn’t have high hopes… I associate water aerobics with standing around, flapping your arms and gabbing.

 

But this was so much FUN! The crew member that led the class was hysterical and he had us all smiling and laughing and whooping and raising our arms over our head on cue, and things like that. It was not your typical water aerobics class. We even formed a giant circle, put our arms around each other’s  shoulders and did a sort of Ethel Merman Olympic Synchronized Swimming floating thing, with half of us spinning the circle clockwise and the other half kicking their legs in the middle of the circle, making foam. It would’ve looked amazing from a drone shot.

 

I felt in high spirits after that, and went and got breakfast at the solarium bistro for the first time. There was a line of people waiting for their turn at the buffet and there were no plates available. After a few minutes, someone brought in fresh plates and I eventually worked my way through the line. It was quite a challenge to find a table even though one employee was clearing them as fast as he could. Several people were standing around bewildered with plates of food in their hands, searching for a table. Anybody with more than four people in their party was out of luck and had to sit at separate tables if they were lucky enough to find them.  Somehow I found one and ate (food so-so), then I went back to the pool and found a good chair (up on the sundeck since all the pool chairs were taken), ordered a  Redbull, and just lay there an hour, reading my book. Eventually I swam a little bit more and then it worked out that it was nearly time for the Men’s international bellyflop contest.

 

The last time I was on the ship, which was many many years ago, they did this event in the aqua theater. Now they just do it in the pool so there was quite a crowd but as I was in the pool already, I was able to just sit on the ledge of the pool and have a front row seat. They had eight contestants.

 

So. First contestant is an elderly man who is clearly drunk. First thing he does is get up, turn his back to the audience, pull his swim shorts down and bend over. 

 

One of those things you can’t unsee. We were all blindsided and shrieked. Then he pulled his pants up and looked at the cruise director (who looked stunned), and then he did it again! Corey put his microphone down and just stared into space for a minute, as though now he had seen it all. He told the guy to get in the water “before anything else came off.” 

So the guys all did their belly flops and they were all really good. The grand prize went to a teenage boy.

at this point it was 1 o’clock and I had been by the pool for five hours. That was enough sun for me. I showered and went down to the promenade for a snack and a napkin folding class. The class was one of those oddball things you try because you’re on a cruise ship, not something you would ever care about doing in real life. Well at least not me, anyway. But the cruise staff guy, Felix, made it very fun and funny. I had a virgin Miami Vice while learning how to make a flower napkin and it was all a good slice of ship life.

There was a gap there with nothing I really wanted to do so I hung out in my room for a while. I went back downstairs at 4:30 for a Latin dance class. Huge mass of people participated. Promenade was packed. It started out great— it was a 30 minute class and we spent the first five minutes or so learning how to do a dance move. Then it turned out the whole rest of the class was directed at couples. The guy leading the class was Felix, the same guy that did the napkin folding. He told everybody to get their partner for the next steps. 
 

I started sidling sideways to ease myself out of the group and into the lane of traffic where people were flowing back-and-forth. I was just going to leave quietly. Then Felix said he didn’t have a partner and he needed someone so he could demonstrate the dance moves. He asked if there was anyone in the crowd that didn’t have a partner.  I raised my hand and he said “come on up here, señorita!“ So I ended up being Felix’s dance partner for the rest of the class and it was actually fun.

 

in normal life, I am not a dancer and I don’t call attention to myself and I just don’t do things like this. But this is one of those disconnected cruise ship type things you do in the moment and you just enjoy it and it seems completely natural. You know what I mean?

 

so we all had a really great time and we were cha-cha-ing all over the place by the time the class was over and Felix was twirling me all around the promenade.

Something happened during the dance lesson. A lengthy announcement was made over the loudspeaker, and we could not hear or understand a word of it, even though Felix paused the music and paused the class. No clue what was said, but as the class was ending, large groups of security offers in uniform came hurrying through the promenade. I ended up in the elevator with them when the class was over, and figured out enough to know that they were looking for someone who had been reported missing. they had a printed out picture of the woman and someone told me that her friends had reported her missing.

I felt kind of sick to my stomach at the thought that maybe somebody had fallen off the cruise ship, which is straight where my mind went. I told myself that it was far more likely this person was drunk and passed out in a restroom somewhere or was taking a nap in some obscure corner of the ship and was unaware people were searching for her. I held my breath for a while, waiting to see if the ship turned around or begin searching the sea, and that never happened and there were no other announcements made and the security officers disappeared. So I’m hoping that everything worked out just fine and the lady was found safe and sound. 

At 530, I watched a teen competition at the Flowrider. The competition was to see how many spins each kid could make in 90 seconds. I really enjoyed that and the kids were so earnest and so into it. The same teenage boy that won the bellyflop contest also won this one!

Then: Stood in line at the Windjammer waiting for it to open for dinner, and the line got longer and longer behind me as we waited. had to be at least 50 people behind me.  Just moments before it opened, a couple wandered in, stared at the line in disgust, and then as it finally started moving, they just slid in behind me, blatantly cutting the line. The husband said to his wife, “just get in here.”

The people behind me were very busy having an animated conversation, and either they didn’t notice, or they decided to let it go, which was very nice of them if that’s the case. I was super annoyed on their behalf. The attitude of a husband was, “this line is ridiculous and it’s ridiculous to expect me to stand in it, so I’m just going to cut the line and make things convenient for ME.” I can’t imagine doing something like that, and I really wonder what the response would’ve been if they had been called out on their actions. The guy seemed to be spoiling for a fight. I mean it’s day seven of an eight day cruise, has he not noticed that there are long lines at the Windjammer at this point? Did he not expect to have to wait in one? Clearly not.

As annoyed as I was about the situation, I wasn’t going to turn around and try to enforce any rules or start a fight, I was a little afraid of what might happen. You just don’t know with people these days. It’s like those people hogging the pool chairs… Like, who gets up at 7:30 in the morning and claims a prime chair with a towel, and then goes back to bed? People do it all the time and I guess in their minds, it makes perfect sense.

 

These are issues that are so childish, but I guess after a week at see you really get invested in these kind of ethical dilemmas.

 

After dinner it was my turn to go see Mamma Mia. I have to admit this is not my favorite show. I’ve seen it twice before, both times on this ship, and it’s just not my thing. I’m not a big fan of ABBA and to me the musical is like watching three hours of karaoke.

It’s three hours long and started at 8:15, and by 10 I was starting to nod off in my chair like an old person. But since I got up so early, at that point I was looking at having been up for 16 hours. I got up and left and came to bed and I’m really glad I did. I really need to spend some time just resting in my room tomorrow or I’m going to go home exhausted!

tomorrow makes day eight of the cruise and I’ve never been on a cruise this long before. Most I have done as a week. I’m booked to do a transAtlantic in the fall which would end up being 16 nights away from home. So I told myself imagine if this cruise was doubled, how would you feel? Would you be really ready to get off the ship and go home or would you be up for another eight days? I’m not entirely sure. Of course the transatlantic would be an entirely different experience on a different ship (the Wonder,) but that’s a very long time to solo. I’m going to give that some time and thought. 
 

it’s funny how my solo status has come up so often in this week. It’s like someone said at the beginning of the blog, opportunities just present themselves to tell people I’m traveling alone. The reactions have ranged from shocked to intrigued to impressed to envious. When I took that tour in Aruba, a man in the tour asked me if I was traveling alone and when I said yes, it clearly wasn’t the answer he was expecting, and his eyes got wide and I think I saw a lightbulb go on his head, as though he just suddenly realized that solo cruising is a life option, and this information had rocked his world. He started talking about how he might do solo cruises in the future, as his wife works and he’s retired and has more time to travel than she does. 
 

you wouldn’t think you’d find yourself talking to people about such things, especially being an introvert like I am under normal circumstances. But it’s come up pretty much every day. And that’s been fine, it’s been fun to talk to people about it. But one thing everybody says immediately is, “how’s that, cruising by yourself?“ I don’t have a clever or commercial-like answer for this question other than the truth which is, “great.“ Or, “good.“ I know that’s not the enthusiastic or long or thoughtful answer people are searching for, but what is there to say? Everybody has different experiences with everything they do, especially travel. I think solo cruising is fun, and I don’t have tons more to say about it than that right there on the spot. It works for me depending on the cruise and I choose my cruises carefully. This is only my second solo cruise and I feel like they both have been a success, and by that I mean a really nice vacation.

In any case, that wrap things up for today and tomorrow is our last day! Relaxation is going to be the name of the game tomorrow for sure!

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On 5/19/2022 at 7:28 AM, PPPJJ-GCVAB said:

Were  you able to quarantine in your room or did they move you to the COVID rooms?  So sorry you ended up I’ll…and your wife!  Hope everyone is doing well now.

We're from Canada, out of fear of being stuck on the ship in an enclosed stateroom (rather than our balcony cabin) and being stuck thereafter in the US we did not disclose. We kept to ourselves for the rest of the trip and ate only in our room. We left at times during the day for the attendant to make up the room and only went to the outdoor places away from other. Obviously not the protocol thing to do but it was our judgement call and we tried to not impact anyone else. Kept our masks on basically for the rest of the cruise haha...

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On 5/18/2022 at 10:20 PM, She Sails Away said:

I’m so sorry you caught Covid! Not a surprise though… It just seems like we should all pretty much expect it these days. especially with the ships at full capacity, it’s just not possible to keep even a little bit of distance from each other anymore. Like tonight when I was standing in line for the wind jammer, the guy behind me absolutely had to stand on my heels every second, as though he would get to the food faster if he did that. I would take a little step forward and he would take one right with me and still be standing on my heels. I didn’t want to crowd the lady in front of me, as she was wearing a mask and obviously trying to be careful. 
I plan on testing the day after I get home and then testing several days later. I hope you’re feeling well and that you guys don’t get  ill. Thank you for reading and for commenting. I hope you guys get well soon.

Thanks for the well wishes! We're fine for the most part now, just lingering symptoms, nothing serious...testing negative. Glad to hear your experience is going well up to this point 🙂

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17 hours ago, She Sails Away said:

tomorrow makes day eight of the cruise and I’ve never been on a cruise this long before. Most I have done as a week. I’m booked to do a transAtlantic in the fall which would end up being 16 nights away from home. So I told myself imagine if this cruise was doubled, how would you feel? Would you be really ready to get off the ship and go home or would you be up for another eight days? I’m not entirely sure. Of course the transatlantic would be an entirely different experience on a different ship (the Wonder,) but that’s a very long time to solo. I’m going to give that some time and thought. 

Our experience on the Symphony TA was that 12 nights were way too short to experience all the things we wanted to try on board. Bearing in mind that the Symphony TA only had two ports (Malaga and Port Canaveral) and the Wonder TA will have 5 (Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Malaga, Cartagena, Nassau), I'm sure even 14 nights will feel like no time at all.

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1 hour ago, Neaxan said:

Our experience on the Symphony TA was that 12 nights were way too short to experience all the things we wanted to try on board. Bearing in mind that the Symphony TA only had two ports (Malaga and Port Canaveral) and the Wonder TA will have 5 (Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Malaga, Cartagena, Nassau), I'm sure even 14 nights will feel like no time at all.

Thanks! Good to know.  I feel like that’s a very real possibility… I have no doubt I would be entertained and happy with the ship for that long. I just meant it’s an awfully long time to be away from my husband. We’ve been married 15 years and I don’t think we’ve ever spent two weeks apart! Still really want to experience a transAtlantic, though. I’m going to give it some thought.

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Last day of the cruise today! After all the planning, it’s over! 

 

Today was all about taking it easy. I woke up sore from swimming so much yesterday and pretty tired. I developed an earache later in the day, probably from getting water in my ear from swimming, (I have a messed-up ear), and I didn’t feel great because of it all afternoon, so I stayed in my room quite a bit. It’s OK though. I needed that, and besides, I wasn’t missing anything important. I’ve made it to all the shows and did all the events I wanted to this week. 

 

I slept late and then went to the solarium bistro for breakfast. It was completely packed and there was not a table to be had. I was picking up on an edgy, irritable vibe from the crowd and people were super vigilant and snippy about other people stepping in a food line in front of them, even by accident, just to grab a piece of bread or something. I wasn’t going to fight for some eggs, so I went over to the vitality spa café where there was no one in line. I got a protein shake and it was delicious. It was also $10. 😬

 

Then, I actually made it to the Schooner bar for trivia early enough to get a seat. I had a little table with two seats all to myself. A lady with a walker came in and asked me if the second chair was being used and I told her no and she sat down with me. We chatted and got to know each other. She asked if I was traveling alone… Funny how often that comes up… And I said yes. She shared that she is traveling with friends, and I gather they all have their separate cabins, and she couldn’t find them this morning. As hard as it was for her to get around with her walker, she listed the places she had gone looking for them, and she had been all over and up and down that huge ship. apparently none of them had bought Internet so they couldn’t text each other. She said something like, “I might as well be cruising on my own.“ It sounded like her friends weren’t as attentive as she was hoping.  She asked me about cruising alone and if I liked it, and said she would like to try it herself but she didn’t know if she could manage, with her walker and all. 
 

I was reflecting on how easy that is to happen, to come on a cruise with other people and all have such high hopes for all this fun, and then the realities of communicating and miscommunication set in and it can lead to disappointment. It just seems so important to be able to talk to each other ahead of time about what to expect. The last time my husband and I cruised together, before I even booked the cruise he made it very clear that he would spend the cruise napping and laying around and if I wasn’t OK with that, there was no point in booking the cruise because he wanted us to be on the same page. We were, I totally got it and knew how he would like to spend his time, so we came onto the cruise understanding how our days would unfold and understanding we would do several things without each other. And we had a nice week. And afterwards we talked about how maybe he just doesn’t like cruising all that much and maybe I do, and he was the one to encourage me to do some solo cruising.

 

in any case, Pat and I got to know each other and play trivia, then we took a short break, where Pat went and made a lap around the promenade to search for her friends, and then we played brain teaser trivia with everybody else in the Schooner bar.

 

I came back to the room and sat out on the balcony a long time watching people zip line. It’s the last day of the cruise and whereas the zip line has been somewhat sporadically used all week, that changed today. Everyone  who wanted to try it lined up and people went one after the other for hours. Same with the rock climbing wall… It has barely been used this whole cruise but everybody was on it today. And as is typical for the final day of a cruise, there was a very huge line at guest services all day long and an equally long line at Next Cruise all day long. And Next Cruise has  only had two employees in it this whole time, and they have been overwhelmed. 
 

I believe I mentioned a few days ago that Sorrento‘s only had two people behind the counter all week and they were 100% overwhelmed. There was always a very long line, every table taken, and they were frequently out of pizza for a few minutes at a time while waiting for new pies to come out of the oven. Well the day we went to Curaçao, I was walking by Sorrento‘s and there were six staff members lined up in a sort of military formation, with their hands behind their back, facing another staff member who seem to be delivering instructions on how the day would go. And then all six of those people got behind the counter  and Sorrento‘s was really under control for that one day. 

 

That was good to see, because those poor guys back there worked absolutely nonstop and I’m sure they dealt with angry glares all day long as well. They need to find a way to staff more people at Café Promenade because the same situation is happening over there and not everybody is polite about having to wait a few minutes for their turn.

Some of the shops have never open this week, which I have to assume is a staffing issue, and two of the biggest shops on the promenade have had one employee in them the entire time. There is one person running the entire gift shop, the one with all the T-shirts and hats and such. That seems crazy. Another thing I saw happen as the week went on is this: staff members dressed in sort of officers clothes, with bars on the shoulders and all, filling in as needed on the promenade in shops, pop-up watch sales on the promenade in the middle, even in Starbucks. I get the feeling that an all hands on deck policy was reached at some point this week to deal with everybody.


Here’s something else I realized today: the very first night of the cruise, I had reservations to see the aqua theater show, from the actual theater instead of my balcony. And one of the acts was a very strong man descending over the audience on a swing, dangling from a wire, and there was a woman in his lap, and while they were dangling over the audience, they did all these elaborate maneuvers that were feats of strength and agility and of course very dangerous, because neither of them were safety clipped to anything. And I remember this couple being in the act from the last two times I was on the ship, as well.

 

Those two were in the show the first night and then disappeared for the remainder of the week. The aqua show was performed multiple, multiple times, I think maybe six or eight times. I can understand if one night the wind was blowing too hard or something, but for them to be gone for the whole rest of the week? Naturally I am wondering if one or both of them tested positive for Covid and had to be removed.

 

The Covid thing also got real this afternoon when I was walking down the hallway and two employees came out of an elevator right in front of me. They were medical staff, dressed in scrubs, wearing masks and gloves, and they were carrying bags and paraphernalia that were very clearly Covid tests. They went down the hallway of deck eight where there are only cabins and nothing else. So obviously, they were going to someone’s room to test them. I thought, those poor passengers, they made it all the way to the final evening and now here they are having to deal with this.

 

For dinner, I went down to Scoops and got a gigantic waffle cone sundae, which I highly recommend. 
One last lap around the ship and I came across another cruise duck, which I decided to keep and take home.

I spent the rest of the evening packing my bags and preparing to leave early in the morning. On TV, on the entertainment channel, they broadcast a video of the 70s dance party the other night, so I watched that. I was surprised to see myself in the conga line going around the promenade. I looked so happy! 
 

so my second solo cruises in the books. I am definitely ready to go home… I miss my husband and I need to get back home and take my phone off airplane mode and get very busy catching up on lots of work and things like that. But I’m really glad I came and had a great time. And I learned more about myself and solo cruising and what to expect moving forward. I will most certainly be solo cruising again… I have a long one booked for the fall but I’m not sure if I will keep that reservation or not. I might be best sticking to week-long cruises by myself. I’m going to give it some thought. In any case, I have happy memories of Labadee, Aruba, Curaçao, the whole 9 yards. The Allure is not the most up-to-date of the oasis ships, that’s for sure, and I do feel the ship is understaffed  and has a few areas that need some work, such as temperature control, staffing, and most definitely Internet. And I feel like they need to find some way to make the food better. But overall, this is such a luxury ship and it is just an incredible experience to be walking around and looking at all the various venues here and all the things to do and reminding yourself that you’re floating in the middle of the ocean. 
 

back to reality tomorrow and that’s always jarring, but it’s time. I plan to Covid test Monday morning, wait about five days and then test again, before I go visit my elderly parents. I work from home, so I don’t see myself being around very many people next week so that should work out well. 

 

thanks so much for those who read along and commented. I’m going to miss blogging with you guys! I look forward to reading all of your blogs and all about your adventures to come.

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@She Sails Away thanks for taking us along.  Your blog seems pure and authentic. I got all the feels almost like being there.  You shared the realist  experiences like people standing on your heels in line, becoming Felix’s partner, your whooping, waving, making the best of everything… and all things cruising during Covid.  I love your writing style, your calm perspective of highs and lows; the little things that make the big picture.  
“After all the planning, it’s over”… but personal growth and self gratification are lifetime endeavors. Continue to find joy in the journey!  Safe travels. 

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Thank you for this blog. We just booked this sailing for September 17 and I feel more informed about what to expect, assuming Covid and staffing issues remain the same.  Question: looking at return flight times and wonder if a 10:45 or 11:30 flight time is doable from Fort Lauderdale airport or should I book later flight? Thanks again.

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1 hour ago, Gwen likes to travel said:

Thank you for this blog. We just booked this sailing for September 17 and I feel more informed about what to expect, assuming Covid and staffing issues remain the same.  Question: looking at return flight times and wonder if a 10:45 or 11:30 flight time is doable from Fort Lauderdale airport or should I book later flight? Thanks again.

I think both are doable.  The airport is only 1-2 miles away.  If you take your own luggage, 1045 is fine.  THe last time we were there, we waited for our luggage and were at the airport by 9:15.   As long as there's no hiccup with customs or staff shortage at the port, should be okay.

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5 hours ago, Gwen likes to travel said:

Thank you for this blog. We just booked this sailing for September 17 and I feel more informed about what to expect, assuming Covid and staffing issues remain the same.  Question: looking at return flight times and wonder if a 10:45 or 11:30 flight time is doable from Fort Lauderdale airport or should I book later flight? Thanks again.

Thank you so much!

Either time should be fine, just get to the airport early. One time I waited over an hour to “drop off” my pre-paid bag, but today I got through in about 20 minutes. The airport itself is a ten minute cab ride away, and it’s very small. But it feels understaffed and disoriented, so you never know if it will a quick trip to the gate or a longish one. But a 1045 time is realistic, especially if you’re off the ship by 715 or 730. 

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MBK999 Thanks for the info.

On 5/22/2022 at 3:25 PM, mbk999 said:

I think both are doable.  The airport is only 1-2 miles away.  If you take your own luggage, 1045 is fine.  THe last time we were there, we waited for our luggage and were at the airport by 9:15.   As long as there's no hiccup with customs or staff shortage at the port, should be okay.

 

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Quick update to this blog. I got home Sunday night and as a precaution, tested Monday morning and was negative. Have kept to myself this week and was planning to retest on Friday just to make sure I was in the clear. Woke up this morning with symptoms and tested. I tested positive.

i’m not upset, I’m not worried, and I am most definitely not surprised. Thank you, 70s disco dance party! 😊

my symptoms are a little bit more than sniffles, but I had original Covid pre-vaccination days, and this is absolutely nothing compared to that. So far a minor inconvenience. My husband tested negative. Curious if anyone else on the ship has picked it up so I put a post out there. Anyway, the realities of cruising right now… We take the risk. I would go back and do it all over again, it was that enjoyable.

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