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Alaska (June 10 Sailing) Recap and Thoughts


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Hi all!

After having our flight home cancelled twice and spending two additional days in Seattle, we are back home.  Here is my report on the Alaskan cruise and the Ovation!

Embarkation

Our check in time was 11am and we showed up at 9:20 am to find at least 30 people in front of us.  After listening in on conversations, it was apparent that most of the people in front and back of us were not entirely prepared to check in.  Oh well, their loss.  Thanks to this Forum, we were prepared and when the gates opened, we were on the ship by 11:10 am.  Easy peezy.  MY SUGGESTION for easier boarding....just print everything and have them in order. Set Sail, vaccine records, covid test, just have physical documents ready.  Internet was intermittent and people trying to check in with screen shots were having trouble.

FOOD!

I start with food because that is our thing and the first thing we did other than making reservations was eating at the Windjammer!  Food was overall a 9 out of 10.  

Windjammer - only ate there for one lunch and 5 breakfasts.  Breakfast could use some variation but food was hot, looked good, and filled our tummies with overall joy.

Izumi's - ate lunch and dinner there.  Rolls were overwhelming.  Sashimi plate was excellent for cruise sushi!  Fried chicken appetizer was yummy. I though 2 times was enough for Izumi though.

Wonderland - food was overall imaginative, fun, and tasty.  Some stand out dishes included desserts and the liquid lobster.  Would not go more than once per cruise, but would definitely go every cruise.

Chops - Solid steakhouse.  Good wine selection.  Bone-in ribeye is outstanding.  Lobster bisque and mushroom soup were outstanding! Ate there twice.

Jaime's Italian - OUR FAVORITE.  I am a classically trained chef turned lawyer.  Fresh made pasta was exactly what sold us here!  The sauces were tasty and in the correct proportion to pasta unlike Americanized Italian places.  Funny, Jaime's is British-Italian, but the food here tasted closer to what we have eaten in Italy than most places.  Stand out dishes included Pavlova dessert, ALL pastas, Meat plank, and burrata cheese!

MDR - This is the only place where I experienced service issues but I will address those later.  Food was overall okay.  Above average.  Nothing stood out, nothing was bad.  Oh...order the Baked Alaska! Last time I had Baked Alaska and Cherries Jubilee was in 1984 LOL.

Room Service - prompt, hot, edible.  

Hot Dog Stand - good enough to satisfy cravings.

Sorrentos - Not bad at all.

Fish and Ships - fried to order and worth at least one trip.  By the way, I am not sure this works for all ships, but UDP worked here for fried lobster tails and premium items.

Cafe Two70 - Nice change of breakfast pace and quiet place to enjoy breakfast, enjoy incredible views, and play some card games or board games with the kids after breakfast.

La Patisserie - Not quite Starbucks, but got me going in the right direction every morning and every evening.

Solarium Bistro - It was okay.  I was happy.

DRINKS!

Since I watched many bartenders open new bottles of liquor and paid attention to them making my drinks, I can say that the drinks were not watered down, but not exactly super strong, except for limoncello!!!  Wine selections were nice considering this was a cruise ship.  Cocktails were tasty.  We loved the Bahama Mama and anything with KRAKEN! 

Service

Guest services lines were a little long at times.  I am always up at 4am and go to sleep at 11:00 pm so this was not an issue for me.  The ONLY issue we had was that the pre-purchased Arcade credits were not properly applied to our kids' sea passes and there is no way to figure out arcade balances other than stopping by Guest Services or manual computations.

Service at all specialty restaurants and bars was excellent.  MDR service wasn't bad.  It was slower than I would expect, but I am not one to eat in 45 minutes and run off.  A 90 minute full service meal is more than acceptable.

Ship Condition

Did I mention that the Princess Ruby ship in front of us was rust stained and looked dilapidated?  Ovation was immaculate!  Enough said.

Activities and Entertainment

Enjoyed all of the shows and trivia.  We did Flowrider, Ripcord, Bumper cars, Northstar....pretty much did everything.  I highly recommend Northstar at a port and not at sea.  We did it twice, once at port in Seattle and once at sea.  Nothing much to see at sea.  Ripcord by iFly was simply AMAZING.  Do it.  All ages.  Do it.

Internet

We had one surf and stream and one basic.  Get basic.  Either way, internet is slightly better than DSL from 2005.  

Complaints

A. Stupid people.

B. Dumb people.

C. Some public toilets did not flush automatically and were inconvenient when I forced my kids to poop outside the room in the public restrooms.

D. Nothing to do from 4am to 6am.  

E. Too much to do from 8am to 11pm.

F. Either Pixels has two different versions, or I fell asleep at the first one.  My friends showed me pictures of the second showing and it looked quite different than ours.

G. Make Solarium pools aged 25 plus please!  Too many teenagers and college kids.  It was gross.  Spent more time in the indoor pool with little kids and enjoyed it more.

HIGHLIGHTS, KEY TAKEWAYS and TIPS

1. Got to meet Chris Wong.  Nice guy.

2. Stop gambling while you are ahead.  I made out with winnings of about $370 from penny slots.  Not bad.

3. Take advantage of the trivia games in between activities and meals.  It is a waste of time to go back to your room for 30 minutes and come back out.

4. If you get the Food packages, RESERVE AS SOON AS YOU BOARD!  We saw too many people complain about wait lists because no reservations.

5. If you are unsure of the Deluxe Beverage Package....I drink one glass of wine or beer a month.  Period.  On the cruise, I had at least 4 cocktails, one beer, one glass of wine, and 3 specialty Americano or Lattes each day.  On top of that, I had one soda a day and took back 4 bottles of water to the room each day.  It is worth the money to get a package.

6. Find the secret spots early.  The outside seating at Windjammer ALWAYS had seating, and we spent breakfast there while the ship's back was turned facing Dawes Glacier.  Trust me.  Also, Deck 5 next the the Art Gallery, but aways from the smoking section...chairs facing the ocean and unusually warmer than most places on the ship considering its outside seating.  Grab a glass of wine from the Wine bar and sit here to relax.  Quiet and peaceful.

7. READ THIS ONE. Finding whales and other sea life....Watch the TV channel that tells you where you are and shows the ship's front camera.  While watching, you will often see streaks of water (wake) left behind by dolphins, orcas, or whale....then grab your binoculars and look outside, you will see them passing!  Great way to find sea life.

8. BIGGEST TIP FOR ALASKA RIGHT NOW! DO NOT OVER PACK.  We each had one carry one rolling suit case and a back pack.  Wore suits and dresses on formal nights.  You do not need all of that clothing.  You simply do not.  Pay $35 to have underwear and T-shirts washed.  Its cheaper than checking in suitcases on the plane.  Plus, our flights home were cancelled twice and we were lugging around our luggage alot of that time.  Thank God we packed light.  You do not need all of that clothing.  

HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND MATT for making this trip so amazing despite Covid, anxiety, the long wait, staffing shortages (which we experienced none), and despite raining the entire 13 days we were in Alaska or Seattle.  Thank you!

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Excellent feedback!!  We did this cruise last September and loved it too.

I do not drink but if I do it's a Rum something, why have I never tried Kraken Rum??  I have a cruise booked this September I will have to try this Rum you loved so much (and apparently everyone else)

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Excellent write up and pretty much almost how I remember Ovation when I sailed on her back in 2017....(there was one incident during one of the shows though that completely ruined the cruise for me though)

Back then you had to book for the NorthStar, not sure if that's still the case now....also, it was free back then

I'm not really much of a pool person (something about being self conscious about my body) so the pools being filled with teenagers didn't really bother me.

But also...Ovation is only 6 years old, Ruby Princess is almost 14 years old, so she's bound to show some wear and tear at some point...🤣🤣 

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3 hours ago, celticmermaid418 said:

thanks very helpful info.  Is lemoncello available everywhere or just in the specialty Italian restaurant?

I did not see limoncello anywhere except for Jaime's Italian.  To be fair, I did not see alot of things due to my constant state of slight inebriation.  

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Thanks so much for an insightful post -- Doing Quantum of the Seas July 25, and probably spending as much time studying and fantasying  as I will on the Trip -- appreciate everyone's input. Watching vblogs, checking packing videos, etc.  

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On 6/21/2022 at 10:26 AM, CruisingNewb said:

Hi all!

After having our flight home cancelled twice and spending two additional days in Seattle, we are back home.  Here is my report on the Alaskan cruise and the Ovation!

Embarkation

Our check in time was 11am and we showed up at 9:20 am to find at least 30 people in front of us.  After listening in on conversations, it was apparent that most of the people in front and back of us were not entirely prepared to check in.  Oh well, their loss.  Thanks to this Forum, we were prepared and when the gates opened, we were on the ship by 11:10 am.  Easy peezy.  MY SUGGESTION for easier boarding....just print everything and have them in order. Set Sail, vaccine records, covid test, just have physical documents ready.  Internet was intermittent and people trying to check in with screen shots were having trouble.

FOOD!

I start with food because that is our thing and the first thing we did other than making reservations was eating at the Windjammer!  Food was overall a 9 out of 10.  

Windjammer - only ate there for one lunch and 5 breakfasts.  Breakfast could use some variation but food was hot, looked good, and filled our tummies with overall joy.

Izumi's - ate lunch and dinner there.  Rolls were overwhelming.  Sashimi plate was excellent for cruise sushi!  Fried chicken appetizer was yummy. I though 2 times was enough for Izumi though.

Wonderland - food was overall imaginative, fun, and tasty.  Some stand out dishes included desserts and the liquid lobster.  Would not go more than once per cruise, but would definitely go every cruise.

Chops - Solid steakhouse.  Good wine selection.  Bone-in ribeye is outstanding.  Lobster bisque and mushroom soup were outstanding! Ate there twice.

Jaime's Italian - OUR FAVORITE.  I am a classically trained chef turned lawyer.  Fresh made pasta was exactly what sold us here!  The sauces were tasty and in the correct proportion to pasta unlike Americanized Italian places.  Funny, Jaime's is British-Italian, but the food here tasted closer to what we have eaten in Italy than most places.  Stand out dishes included Pavlova dessert, ALL pastas, Meat plank, and burrata cheese!

MDR - This is the only place where I experienced service issues but I will address those later.  Food was overall okay.  Above average.  Nothing stood out, nothing was bad.  Oh...order the Baked Alaska! Last time I had Baked Alaska and Cherries Jubilee was in 1984 LOL.

Room Service - prompt, hot, edible.  

Hot Dog Stand - good enough to satisfy cravings.

Sorrentos - Not bad at all.

Fish and Ships - fried to order and worth at least one trip.  By the way, I am not sure this works for all ships, but UDP worked here for fried lobster tails and premium items.

Cafe Two70 - Nice change of breakfast pace and quiet place to enjoy breakfast, enjoy incredible views, and play some card games or board games with the kids after breakfast.

La Patisserie - Not quite Starbucks, but got me going in the right direction every morning and every evening.

Solarium Bistro - It was okay.  I was happy.

DRINKS!

Since I watched many bartenders open new bottles of liquor and paid attention to them making my drinks, I can say that the drinks were not watered down, but not exactly super strong, except for limoncello!!!  Wine selections were nice considering this was a cruise ship.  Cocktails were tasty.  We loved the Bahama Mama and anything with KRAKEN! 

Service

Guest services lines were a little long at times.  I am always up at 4am and go to sleep at 11:00 pm so this was not an issue for me.  The ONLY issue we had was that the pre-purchased Arcade credits were not properly applied to our kids' sea passes and there is no way to figure out arcade balances other than stopping by Guest Services or manual computations.

Service at all specialty restaurants and bars was excellent.  MDR service wasn't bad.  It was slower than I would expect, but I am not one to eat in 45 minutes and run off.  A 90 minute full service meal is more than acceptable.

Ship Condition

Did I mention that the Princess Ruby ship in front of us was rust stained and looked dilapidated?  Ovation was immaculate!  Enough said.

Activities and Entertainment

Enjoyed all of the shows and trivia.  We did Flowrider, Ripcord, Bumper cars, Northstar....pretty much did everything.  I highly recommend Northstar at a port and not at sea.  We did it twice, once at port in Seattle and once at sea.  Nothing much to see at sea.  Ripcord by iFly was simply AMAZING.  Do it.  All ages.  Do it.

Internet

We had one surf and stream and one basic.  Get basic.  Either way, internet is slightly better than DSL from 2005.  

Complaints

A. Stupid people.

B. Dumb people.

C. Some public toilets did not flush automatically and were inconvenient when I forced my kids to poop outside the room in the public restrooms.

D. Nothing to do from 4am to 6am.  

E. Too much to do from 8am to 11pm.

F. Either Pixels has two different versions, or I fell asleep at the first one.  My friends showed me pictures of the second showing and it looked quite different than ours.

G. Make Solarium pools aged 25 plus please!  Too many teenagers and college kids.  It was gross.  Spent more time in the indoor pool with little kids and enjoyed it more.

HIGHLIGHTS, KEY TAKEWAYS and TIPS

1. Got to meet Chris Wong.  Nice guy.

2. Stop gambling while you are ahead.  I made out with winnings of about $370 from penny slots.  Not bad.

3. Take advantage of the trivia games in between activities and meals.  It is a waste of time to go back to your room for 30 minutes and come back out.

4. If you get the Food packages, RESERVE AS SOON AS YOU BOARD!  We saw too many people complain about wait lists because no reservations.

5. If you are unsure of the Deluxe Beverage Package....I drink one glass of wine or beer a month.  Period.  On the cruise, I had at least 4 cocktails, one beer, one glass of wine, and 3 specialty Americano or Lattes each day.  On top of that, I had one soda a day and took back 4 bottles of water to the room each day.  It is worth the money to get a package.

6. Find the secret spots early.  The outside seating at Windjammer ALWAYS had seating, and we spent breakfast there while the ship's back was turned facing Dawes Glacier.  Trust me.  Also, Deck 5 next the the Art Gallery, but aways from the smoking section...chairs facing the ocean and unusually warmer than most places on the ship considering its outside seating.  Grab a glass of wine from the Wine bar and sit here to relax.  Quiet and peaceful.

7. READ THIS ONE. Finding whales and other sea life....Watch the TV channel that tells you where you are and shows the ship's front camera.  While watching, you will often see streaks of water (wake) left behind by dolphins, orcas, or whale....then grab your binoculars and look outside, you will see them passing!  Great way to find sea life.

8. BIGGEST TIP FOR ALASKA RIGHT NOW! DO NOT OVER PACK.  We each had one carry one rolling suit case and a back pack.  Wore suits and dresses on formal nights.  You do not need all of that clothing.  You simply do not.  Pay $35 to have underwear and T-shirts washed.  Its cheaper than checking in suitcases on the plane.  Plus, our flights home were cancelled twice and we were lugging around our luggage alot of that time.  Thank God we packed light.  You do not need all of that clothing.  

HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND MATT for making this trip so amazing despite Covid, anxiety, the long wait, staffing shortages (which we experienced none), and despite raining the entire 13 days we were in Alaska or Seattle.  Thank you!

Great write up -- Now you are no longer a cruise newb!

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On 6/21/2022 at 10:26 AM, CruisingNewb said:

Hi all!

After having our flight home cancelled twice and spending two additional days in Seattle, we are back home.  Here is my report on the Alaskan cruise and the Ovation!

Embarkation

Our check in time was 11am and we showed up at 9:20 am to find at least 30 people in front of us.  After listening in on conversations, it was apparent that most of the people in front and back of us were not entirely prepared to check in.  Oh well, their loss.  Thanks to this Forum, we were prepared and when the gates opened, we were on the ship by 11:10 am.  Easy peezy.  MY SUGGESTION for easier boarding....just print everything and have them in order. Set Sail, vaccine records, covid test, just have physical documents ready.  Internet was intermittent and people trying to check in with screen shots were having trouble.

FOOD!

I start with food because that is our thing and the first thing we did other than making reservations was eating at the Windjammer!  Food was overall a 9 out of 10.  

Windjammer - only ate there for one lunch and 5 breakfasts.  Breakfast could use some variation but food was hot, looked good, and filled our tummies with overall joy.

Izumi's - ate lunch and dinner there.  Rolls were overwhelming.  Sashimi plate was excellent for cruise sushi!  Fried chicken appetizer was yummy. I though 2 times was enough for Izumi though.

Wonderland - food was overall imaginative, fun, and tasty.  Some stand out dishes included desserts and the liquid lobster.  Would not go more than once per cruise, but would definitely go every cruise.

Chops - Solid steakhouse.  Good wine selection.  Bone-in ribeye is outstanding.  Lobster bisque and mushroom soup were outstanding! Ate there twice.

Jaime's Italian - OUR FAVORITE.  I am a classically trained chef turned lawyer.  Fresh made pasta was exactly what sold us here!  The sauces were tasty and in the correct proportion to pasta unlike Americanized Italian places.  Funny, Jaime's is British-Italian, but the food here tasted closer to what we have eaten in Italy than most places.  Stand out dishes included Pavlova dessert, ALL pastas, Meat plank, and burrata cheese!

MDR - This is the only place where I experienced service issues but I will address those later.  Food was overall okay.  Above average.  Nothing stood out, nothing was bad.  Oh...order the Baked Alaska! Last time I had Baked Alaska and Cherries Jubilee was in 1984 LOL.

Room Service - prompt, hot, edible.  

Hot Dog Stand - good enough to satisfy cravings.

Sorrentos - Not bad at all.

Fish and Ships - fried to order and worth at least one trip.  By the way, I am not sure this works for all ships, but UDP worked here for fried lobster tails and premium items.

Cafe Two70 - Nice change of breakfast pace and quiet place to enjoy breakfast, enjoy incredible views, and play some card games or board games with the kids after breakfast.

La Patisserie - Not quite Starbucks, but got me going in the right direction every morning and every evening.

Solarium Bistro - It was okay.  I was happy.

DRINKS!

Since I watched many bartenders open new bottles of liquor and paid attention to them making my drinks, I can say that the drinks were not watered down, but not exactly super strong, except for limoncello!!!  Wine selections were nice considering this was a cruise ship.  Cocktails were tasty.  We loved the Bahama Mama and anything with KRAKEN! 

Service

Guest services lines were a little long at times.  I am always up at 4am and go to sleep at 11:00 pm so this was not an issue for me.  The ONLY issue we had was that the pre-purchased Arcade credits were not properly applied to our kids' sea passes and there is no way to figure out arcade balances other than stopping by Guest Services or manual computations.

Service at all specialty restaurants and bars was excellent.  MDR service wasn't bad.  It was slower than I would expect, but I am not one to eat in 45 minutes and run off.  A 90 minute full service meal is more than acceptable.

Ship Condition

Did I mention that the Princess Ruby ship in front of us was rust stained and looked dilapidated?  Ovation was immaculate!  Enough said.

Activities and Entertainment

Enjoyed all of the shows and trivia.  We did Flowrider, Ripcord, Bumper cars, Northstar....pretty much did everything.  I highly recommend Northstar at a port and not at sea.  We did it twice, once at port in Seattle and once at sea.  Nothing much to see at sea.  Ripcord by iFly was simply AMAZING.  Do it.  All ages.  Do it.

Internet

We had one surf and stream and one basic.  Get basic.  Either way, internet is slightly better than DSL from 2005.  

Complaints

A. Stupid people.

B. Dumb people.

C. Some public toilets did not flush automatically and were inconvenient when I forced my kids to poop outside the room in the public restrooms.

D. Nothing to do from 4am to 6am.  

E. Too much to do from 8am to 11pm.

F. Either Pixels has two different versions, or I fell asleep at the first one.  My friends showed me pictures of the second showing and it looked quite different than ours.

G. Make Solarium pools aged 25 plus please!  Too many teenagers and college kids.  It was gross.  Spent more time in the indoor pool with little kids and enjoyed it more.

HIGHLIGHTS, KEY TAKEWAYS and TIPS

1. Got to meet Chris Wong.  Nice guy.

2. Stop gambling while you are ahead.  I made out with winnings of about $370 from penny slots.  Not bad.

3. Take advantage of the trivia games in between activities and meals.  It is a waste of time to go back to your room for 30 minutes and come back out.

4. If you get the Food packages, RESERVE AS SOON AS YOU BOARD!  We saw too many people complain about wait lists because no reservations.

5. If you are unsure of the Deluxe Beverage Package....I drink one glass of wine or beer a month.  Period.  On the cruise, I had at least 4 cocktails, one beer, one glass of wine, and 3 specialty Americano or Lattes each day.  On top of that, I had one soda a day and took back 4 bottles of water to the room each day.  It is worth the money to get a package.

6. Find the secret spots early.  The outside seating at Windjammer ALWAYS had seating, and we spent breakfast there while the ship's back was turned facing Dawes Glacier.  Trust me.  Also, Deck 5 next the the Art Gallery, but aways from the smoking section...chairs facing the ocean and unusually warmer than most places on the ship considering its outside seating.  Grab a glass of wine from the Wine bar and sit here to relax.  Quiet and peaceful.

7. READ THIS ONE. Finding whales and other sea life....Watch the TV channel that tells you where you are and shows the ship's front camera.  While watching, you will often see streaks of water (wake) left behind by dolphins, orcas, or whale....then grab your binoculars and look outside, you will see them passing!  Great way to find sea life.

8. BIGGEST TIP FOR ALASKA RIGHT NOW! DO NOT OVER PACK.  We each had one carry one rolling suit case and a back pack.  Wore suits and dresses on formal nights.  You do not need all of that clothing.  You simply do not.  Pay $35 to have underwear and T-shirts washed.  Its cheaper than checking in suitcases on the plane.  Plus, our flights home were cancelled twice and we were lugging around our luggage alot of that time.  Thank God we packed light.  You do not need all of that clothing.  

HUGE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU AND MATT for making this trip so amazing despite Covid, anxiety, the long wait, staffing shortages (which we experienced none), and despite raining the entire 13 days we were in Alaska or Seattle.  Thank you!

Ya, but did you find any Ducks?

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On 6/21/2022 at 8:26 AM, CruisingNewb said:

Embarkation

Our check in time was 11am and we showed up at 9:20 am to find at least 30 people in front of us.

Thanks for this great write up! We are about to head out on the 6/24 sailing on the Ovation and this will be our first time on RC.  Sounds like the recommendation is to show up super early? (we also have an 11am slot)  Also - happy to do more reading on this forum (just recently discovered it).  Is there a specific area to learn more about the embarkation experience?

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11 hours ago, Tahoemom said:

Thanks for this great write up! We are about to head out on the 6/24 sailing on the Ovation and this will be our first time on RC.  Sounds like the recommendation is to show up super early? (we also have an 11am slot)  Also - happy to do more reading on this forum (just recently discovered it).  Is there a specific area to learn more about the embarkation experience?

Welcome to the forum. RCL is a great cruise line with great ships. Looks like you'll be boarding in less then 24 hrs. and I am sure you are excited! We board on July 1... so we'll probably be passing you at the pier!

If you browse around enough on here, you will find some reviews for people that have come and gone from the pier in Seattle. Usually they are just a part of an overall review. I have been looking for the same information, and find tidbits here and there. Youtube also has some vids as well. 

This will be my first time out of Seattle... but have done about 6 cruises with RCL out of Florida, and can tell you they have it down to a science on the east coast. From what I have read... the Seattle terminal is not as fluid as other terminals... but also not the worst. So my expectations are tempered a little bit but I'll be interested in seeing how it compares myself. 

If you get a chance to let us know how you thought embarkation went tomorrow, with any tips/tricks... that would be awesome! 

Enjoy your cruise and have a great time!  

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12 hours ago, Tahoemom said:

Thanks for this great write up! We are about to head out on the 6/24 sailing on the Ovation and this will be our first time on RC.  Sounds like the recommendation is to show up super early? (we also have an 11am slot)  Also - happy to do more reading on this forum (just recently discovered it).  Is there a specific area to learn more about the embarkation experience?

Oh my...hope you get to read my reply today....Please see below.

1 hour ago, vanelli56 said:

Welcome to the forum. RCL is a great cruise line with great ships. Looks like you'll be boarding in less then 24 hrs. and I am sure you are excited! We board on July 1... so we'll probably be passing you at the pier!

If you browse around enough on here, you will find some reviews for people that have come and gone from the pier in Seattle. Usually they are just a part of an overall review. I have been looking for the same information, and find tidbits here and there. Youtube also has some vids as well. 

This will be my first time out of Seattle... but have done about 6 cruises with RCL out of Florida, and can tell you they have it down to a science on the east coast. From what I have read... the Seattle terminal is not as fluid as other terminals... but also not the worst. So my expectations are tempered a little bit but I'll be interested in seeing how it compares myself. 

If you get a chance to let us know how you thought embarkation went tomorrow, with any tips/tricks... that would be awesome! 

Enjoy your cruise and have a great time!  

Here are some last minute tips:

1. Arrive early...at least 90 minutes prior to boarding time.  On embarkation day, we arrive around 9:15 but had to walk about 5 minutes from where our Uber driver dropped us off.  Our Uber driver knew some of the security and we got as close to the terminal as possible.  I wouldn't count on that being your case.  Arrive early.  On debarkation day, I could see that people started lining up at around the same time, 9:00 am.  We watched people line up from our balcony until time to debark.  By 9:15, when we were asked to leave the room, there were about 30 people in line.  This is in line with what we experience the week prior.

2. Have paper documents in hand.  Have them in order of persons in your party to be checked in.  Cascade passports, set sail tickets, and Covid Test results in order so that the staff can just check/scan everything easily.  Do not depend on smart devices.  Even screen shots are not reliable because there is virtually no place to charge while in line and some people ran out of juice.  The staff personally told me (at least two people) paper documents are faster.

3. Go get in line before you check in luggage.  Then, have one person take the luggage across the way to check them in.  Be prepared and have luggage tags properly affixed to the checked in luggage.

4. If you board with a party of family, make La Patisserie your home base while making reservations.  They have great seating and is close to Chops. See below.  

5. Dining - if you need to reserve dining, go directly to Chops.  Some posts here say any Specialty Restaurant can make all reservations.  NOT TRUE on Ovation.  Izumi host could not reserve anything but Izumi.  Chops host can do everything for you.  Write down days and times you get.  This is the FIRST THING you should do after boarding.  DO NOT GET DRINKS.  DO NOT GET FOOD.  MAKE DINING RESERVATIONS.  I say this because the wait list for Jaime's and Chops was a page long EVERY single day when we went.  Luckily for us, we had reservations.

6. Activity and Entertainment - Make these reservations next. Pixels requires a reservation.  Do this immediately.  Good show, great venue.  Packed. Reserve all port day (free) Northstar and iFly/Ripcord activities.  You only get one freebie but reserve them immediately.  Like I said before, Northstar on sea days was not as good as at a port.  We went on Northstar at port in Seattle for free.  We paid on the 6th day.  Sea day was nothing special on the Northstar.

7. Drinks - if you have drink packages, get your FreeStyle cups from the middle kiosk between La Patisserie and Sorrentos.  They have them in boxes.  No need to go to the bar to do this.  Then you can go and rinse them out at Sorrentos and have soda right away.

 

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23 hours ago, CruisingNewb said:

I did not see limoncello anywhere except for Jaime's Italian.  To be fair, I did not see alot of things due to my constant state of slight inebriation.  

I can attest that - at least on Vision and Rhapsody - it's available at RBar. It's kept in the fridge.

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8 minutes ago, Riley said:

I can attest that - at least on Vision and Rhapsody - it's available at RBar. It's kept in the fridge.

If you can remember seeing limoncello at RBar, this just means that you weren't drinking enough.  😆

Kidding.  That is good to know!  Something about limoncello that I just love!

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I would firmly disagree with people arriving more than 30min before their boarding time. This is why the lines, are what they are. If everyone has copies of documents and everything in order, then the check-in and boarding process will be a snap. There is a purpose to having staggered boarding times: someone with a 1pm boarding time shouldn't be there at 11:30 because they cause issues for people who will/should be boarding at that time. 

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1 hour ago, Ampurp85 said:

I would firmly disagree with people arriving more than 30min before their boarding time. This is why the lines, are what they are. If everyone has copies of documents and everything in order, then the check-in and boarding process will be a snap. There is a purpose to having staggered boarding times: someone with a 1pm boarding time shouldn't be there at 11:30 because they cause issues for people who will/should be boarding at that time. 

Not to be argumentative!  BUT, I've been cruising since circa 2005, not to long compared to some, I understand that, there has always been boarding times.  The boarding times were actual boarding times, times to get on the ship.  Not too many people payed attention to the boarding times, at least as it pertains to what time they arrived to the terminal.  All it meant, if you showed up early was that you sat in the terminal's waiting area(s) for a while longer until "YOUR BOARDING TIME WAS CALLED".  No big deal, just sit and wait and try to calm your excitement.  No long lines at the terminal entrance.

Today, a "BOARDING TIME" is actually an "ARRIVE AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE TERMINAL" time.  This was done, as far as I'm concerned, to create social distancing inside the terminal, but not at the entrance to the terminal.  People lined up for hundreds of yards, back to back, shoulder to shoulder, masked and unmasked, distanced and not distanced, waiting to be checked in (look at covid docs) at the terminal entrance before going to the kiosk to be checked in (and again to look at your covid docs) for your cruise.  NO, I believe it's not the problem of people showing up early, it's the cruise line/Port Authority not allowing utilization of the previously utilized waiting areas.  

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5 hours ago, Suite Snob said:

Not to be argumentative!  BUT, I've been cruising since circa 2005, not to long compared to some, I understand that, there has always been boarding times.  The boarding times were actual boarding times, times to get on the ship.  Not too many people payed attention to the boarding times, at least as it pertains to what time they arrived to the terminal.  All it meant, if you showed up early was that you sat in the terminal's waiting area(s) for a while longer until "YOUR BOARDING TIME WAS CALLED".  No big deal, just sit and wait and try to calm your excitement.  No long lines at the terminal entrance.

Today, a "BOARDING TIME" is actually an "ARRIVE AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE TERMINAL" time.  This was done, as far as I'm concerned, to create social distancing inside the terminal, but not at the entrance to the terminal.  People lined up for hundreds of yards, back to back, shoulder to shoulder, masked and unmasked, distanced and not distanced, waiting to be checked in (look at covid docs) at the terminal entrance before going to the kiosk to be checked in (and again to look at your covid docs) for your cruise.  NO, I believe it's not the problem of people showing up early, it's the cruise line/Port Authority not allowing utilization of the previously utilized waiting areas.  

You often mention how you only sail suites, so when you arrive it's a moot point as you have priority boarding. But for someone who has an 10:30/11 boarding time to have to wait behind people who have a 1pm or later time, is wrong. The only reason someone would need to arrive extra early is because people aren't following the rules. 

Ships have gotten bigger, so circa 2005 when they didn't really need check-in times, you could wait at the terminal for your "whatever-o-clock" boarding time. Now we have ships that hold 5000+ pax and waiting terminals that only seat a few hundred at a time. This leads to long and confusing lines, where people who might be in the right end up in the wrong. You now have people in the boarding room who don't board until 1 or 2, waiting to be called, instead of people who were 10:30 or 11am.

Hence why the stagger the check-in and assign boarding times. Pre-restart you didn't have to/want to enforce those assigned times because only two things were required, ID and setsail. Now you need that plus vax and negative test, which require human reading, so you need to have those readily available and stick to the assigned time. It is no different of if you have a doctor/dentist appoint at 2pm but show up at noon, on the off chance they will take you. Maybe they take you (under the belief that whatever you have going on is simple, it's not) but now the person who had an appointment at 12:30 has to wait and it screws up their day. 

 

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57 minutes ago, Ampurp85 said:

You often mention how you only sail suites, so when you arrive it's a moot point as you have priority boarding. But for someone who has an 10:30/11 boarding time to have to wait behind people who have a 1pm or later time, is wrong. The only reason someone would need to arrive extra early is because people aren't following the rules. 

Ships have gotten bigger, so circa 2005 when they didn't really need check-in times, you could wait at the terminal for your "whatever-o-clock" boarding time. Now we have ships that hold 5000+ pax and waiting terminals that only seat a few hundred at a time. This leads to long and confusing lines, where people who might be in the right end up in the wrong. You now have people in the boarding room who don't board until 1 or 2, waiting to be called, instead of people who were 10:30 or 11am.

Hence why the stagger the check-in and assign boarding times. Pre-restart you didn't have to/want to enforce those assigned times because only two things were required, ID and setsail. Now you need that plus vax and negative test, which require human reading, so you need to have those readily available and stick to the assigned time. It is no different of if you have a doctor/dentist appoint at 2pm but show up at noon, on the off chance they will take you. Maybe they take you (under the belief that whatever you have going on is simple, it's not) but now the person who had an appointment at 12:30 has to wait and it screws up their day. 

 

No, I never said "I only sail suites", I have experience cruising in non-suites, not much on Royal, but some, a lot on Brand X.  Royal is/has/and will continue to building new terminal that are more than capable of handling the Oasis Class ships and I betchya they were designed and funded pre-COVID.  Yes, not all the older ones can.  Pre-Pandemic, I never saw lines, at least no more than 10 -20 people, to get INTO the terminal, regardless of ship size.  People went in, checked in, and sat in the seating/waiting area.  If they would go back to actual BOADING TIMES like it used to be, The Cruise Line (Royal) can control things a lot better that what is going on now.  

My very first cruise on Royal was in a Grand Suite, on the Oasis.  If you are familiar with Port Everglades' Royal Terminal, you can see the entire seating area from the Suite waiting area.  It sure got full, but NO ONE was in line waiting to get in.  They started calling on the Suite guests to enter by suite status.  Obviously, being in a Grand Suite, we were Sky Class, not Star.  After we got on the ship, they started calling on the BOARDING TIMES to board.  No elderly was standing out in the heat, cold, rain, wind, whatever.  Again, NO, I don't think that people showing up early is the problem.  The problem is TERMINAL ARRIVAL TIMES.  One more obvious human thing is for people to show up early/late/not at all.  In this case, NO rule will ever stop people from showing up early for something that they have been waiting on for up to a couple of years to do, to something that they are so excited about (like me) that they just can't help themselves, and those that have to rely on other transportation methods that they can't control/have no control over.

When I saw the Youtube video that I posted in this forum a week or so ago, I couldn't help but to feel sorry for the elderly (of which I'm one but in good shape), the young kids, the moms trying to carry a baby and look out for the older kids, the disabled and the walking wounded (Those relying on canes, walkers etc etc.  The line was hundreds of yards long, NO DAMN EXCUSE, period.  My last cruise, yes I was Star Class, but that didn't stop me from seeing the line that stretched from the terminal back to where the drop-off overhang ended, at least a hundred to two hundred yard long.  

Look, I'm a rule follower as much or more than most.  I don't have a problem with actual "BOARDING TIMES".  What I have a problem with is false reasons or excuses for intentional or even unintentional results that didn't need to happen, because of policy.  

Edited by Suite Snob
Added: because of policy, at the end
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19 hours ago, Ampurp85 said:

I would firmly disagree with people arriving more than 30min before their boarding time. This is why the lines, are what they are. If everyone has copies of documents and everything in order, then the check-in and boarding process will be a snap. There is a purpose to having staggered boarding times: someone with a 1pm boarding time shouldn't be there at 11:30 because they cause issues for people who will/should be boarding at that time. 

Ah...Let me clarify....if you have a 11 am check in, get there early.  

As to your idea that boarding time are staggered for a reason, that is correct on a practical level.  But in order to achieve what you suggest, EVERYONE has to show up at their boarding times and no one can show up early.  

I do not mean to suggest that anyone boarding at 1 pm should show up at 11 am, but we all know that the 1 pm group does not all get on between 11 and 11:30.  There are ALWAYS those idiots who did not do their due diligence and are missing documents.  We cannot control that.  I think that those of us who are ready shoud be rewarded, hence show up a little early.

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@CruisingNewb I agree. If you are prepared and withing an acceptable time, show up 30 or so minutes early.

@Suite Snob I guess my issue is that it trickles down. Families with babies, the elderly, etc. who show up way before their scheduled boarding time on the basis that they will be allowed to sit in the terminal, but instead have to stand in the heat, don't elicit sympathy from me. Even if you have to check out of a hotel, you don't have to leave and stand in such heat. I will just say that arriving anything more than 30min before your scheduled time, be prepared to face the consequences. 

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great review !   and i highly agree on printing your docs out to board,   i was on Quantum of the Seas, mid May,  it was a log jam on people trying pull up docs on phone,  and our ship was  FANTASTIC  !

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3 hours ago, Ampurp85 said:

@CruisingNewb I agree. If you are prepared and withing an acceptable time, show up 30 or so minutes early.

@Suite Snob I guess my issue is that it trickles down. Families with babies, the elderly, etc. who show up way before their scheduled boarding time on the basis that they will be allowed to sit in the terminal, but instead have to stand in the heat, don't elicit sympathy from me. Even if you have to check out of a hotel, you don't have to leave and stand in such heat. I will just say that arriving anything more than 30min before your scheduled time, be prepared to face the consequences. 

And you are entitled to your own opinion.  I just happen to think that it is wrong and heartless.  And checkout time has nothing to do with transportation!  But, I'm done, out!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 6/23/2022 at 10:40 AM, CruisingNewb said:

 

6. Activity and Entertainment - Make these reservations next. Pixels requires a reservation.  Do this immediately.  Good show, great venue.  Packed. Reserve all port day (free) Northstar and iFly/Ripcord activities.  You only get one freebie but reserve them immediately.  Like I said before, Northstar on sea days was not as good as at a port.  We went on Northstar at port in Seattle for free.  We paid on the 6th day.  Sea day was nothing special on the Northstar.

 

Interesting.  When I was on Anthem back in April you had to be up by 8:00am on port days to book the free NorthStar.  I was told iFly was never free....I did not press that issue because I was not interested.  I'll keep in mind the need to book these for my Feb cruise on Anthem.  Thank you!

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10 hours ago, Pattycruise said:

Interesting.  When I was on Anthem back in April you had to be up by 8:00am on port days to book the free NorthStar.  I was told iFly was never free....I did not press that issue because I was not interested.  I'll keep in mind the need to book these for my Feb cruise on Anthem.  Thank you!

iFLY was so worth trying!  All ages.  Doesn't matter.  I did not want to try but my kids pressured me.  I am glad I did.  You don't have to do much while in there and I have never felt so free!  I have done bungee jumping.  Although it was exhilarating, the fear of something going wrong and dying detracted from my personal experience.  iFly doesn't give you that same fear.  Try it!

Also, Northstar was available to book immediately for us.  We did the free one on day one, so you may be correct that the free ones on port days need to be reserved that same day.

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