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My First and Last Cruise


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I recently went on the Harmony of the Seas as my first cruise from June 26th - July 3rd. These are my personal thoughts and the reason for while I was well prepared with pre-paying for excursions, drink and dining package, as well as gratuities, I will probably never be on a RC cruise, or any cruise in the future, despite knowing exactly what I was getting into. I don't know if solo cruisers are treated different or maybe it's my passive nature, but I often felt ignored and overlooked, it felt more like I was an inconvenience than a guest on vacation.

No one tells you anything useful. I had tons of questions and it took 4 people to tell me how a dining package worked, only to be at the end of Day 2 and most of the specialty dinings were booked out. I wasn't even able to fully use the package by the end of the week (spoilers for later)

The escape room was closed due to covid, and it was advertised up until the cruise with no notifications it would be unavailable. It was a major reason I booked the Harmony.

(I already knew this) but the spa is a hard sell. Just got a relaxing massage? I won't let you leave until you buy 150$ worth of products. It's half off, but somehow you just spent 300$. I avoided the spa like the plague the whole week after that.

The crowds. Everyone's on vacation, so they will bump into you, block you, run you over, doesn't matter. I felt like an inconvenience and a ghost. You want to see a show? Show up an hour early (and just stand there) or you're not getting a good seat. The crew got out of your way but the guests did not care.

The food is overhyped. the Izumi package (non hibachi) was good. I didn't get to try Chops like I wanted (again spoilers for the end) but I did try Sabor and it was lackluster. My waiter made a point to explain to everyone else how the menu worked but conveniently left me out. He filled my water maybe once after it sat there empty for over 10 minutes. He then asked me to give him a good review on the survey. Sorrento's felt like a cafeteria line. I understand they had long lines all week but the guy working would always "what do you want?" then slap the pizza down and frisbee it to you yelling "hot plate!". I inconvenienced him by wanting a pizza that was in the oven so he just put my plate down on the counter and it sat there for 5 minutes while I waited. The grilled vegetables were freezing cold from the fridge. 

I got ignored at Johnny's. I came in for a milkshake and was standing by the doorway, only for the waiter to walk past me THREE TIMES to help the person behind me. Finally the 4th family noted I was standing there and he helped me. He went and handed everyone else their food and drinks but when my order came up he pointed at the counter and said "For you". Gee thanks.

I managed to get into a pool on Day 1 but after that it was shoulder to shoulder. No chairs as you'd expect despite half of them having people in them. The pools usually had spilled drinks in them that looked like vomit so I decided to find something else to do. Spent a lot of money in the arcades because in the "show up and have fun" game shows, the bars were so crowded you couldn't even get in. Water slides were very rarely open, I think they were in use for only 2 days. 

I nearly drowned on a discover scuba excursion. They miscounted how many people they were taking and put me in as one too many, only for me to be squished between two people waiting in the water where I couldn't kick to stay afloat and couldn't move my arms, I elected to get back on the boat instead of potentially drowning. 150$ down the drain. The excursion assumes you are an active snorkeler and have minimal experience with scuba gear, from what they were telling us (none of this was listed in the description).

The PoC's are not that great. We went to St Thomas and St Maarten. St Thomas was essentially a dock with shops on it, and St Maarten was fun (I went zip lining and met a really nice family who temporarily took me under their wing) but the rest of the time it was people heckling me to give them money for shady services. I'm sorry they are so reliant on tourism.

I also ended up getting harassed by some kids. I know I'm a full grown adult but I was in the arcade and a group of kids came up asking for my number. Laughing it off as kids being kids I said no. 30 seconds later another kid came up asking for my number. Realizing this was going to be a theme, "I said 1337, ask me again." in a "see what happens" tone. The first kid came up and said "getting asked for your number is a compliment, so why are you mad?" only to tell him I was tipsy and didn't want to be bothered. The next day another kid asked "are you tipsy today?" to which I responded no.

The entire week it felt like the crew I did interact with were more interested in just getting my food and drinks to me and hyper focused on their good reviews. My stateroom attendant didn't take no for an answer when I asked him to leave which was interesting because my room was very dusty and dirty. He was very polite though, albeit when he entered my stateroom and asked me about doing the muster drill on my phone, rather than saying "good job" or "well done" he wanted me to show him how I did it on my phone, standing in my stateroom doorway. There was one crew member in the On Air bar who actively smiled and called me by name, asking if I wanted another of a drink I had ordered on a previous day. He then wished me a happy birthday. He never once mentioned a survey or review.

I ended up getting Covid on the cruise. Despite washing my hands, using sanitizer at the elevators, and being overall actively healthy and clean (even wearing a mask when told I didn't have to). I later found out they were hiding the number of covid cases (and RC has been hiding this info as a company). I was in a group of 50+ people when I got off the cruise. There was only 1 nurse working that night so I sat in medical for 4 hours. I know for a fact 100+ people were positive because I heard them saying "there's another one, that makes 30" and that was early in the cruise.

I was told that I would be refunded for the day I missed in quarantine, and that since I was flying home, I had to book a hotel for the remaining days of up to 10 before flying home. I was told I would be reimbursed 250$ per night for hotel, 100$ per day for food, and up to 400$ for flight change fees. I was also told I could get room service, movies and internet and it would be reimbursed later.

I was then told when I got home that this was not true and it was only covered up to 5 days for hotel, and only up to a certain limit on flight change fees. I was then told to show the exact paper (as if they didn't believe me) and the paper that stated I was required to quarantine (this was a phone call, not a paper.) as no where it was stated I was required to quarantine up to 10 days to fly home.

So now I'm down 2500$ on food and hotel that I didn't need to pay because RC said they'd reimburse, and they have yet to confirm they will reimburse this.

Also want to mention I booked a studio room and still paid for 2 people, even though I was told 1000x over that I wouldn't have to pay the supplement fee.

So in total, I'm down 4500$ and I got to drink a handful of non alcoholic beverages while walking around a ship for 3 days, ate freezer pizza, had a traumatic scuba experience and was mislead by RC. On top of that, I missed 2 weeks of work and am on the brink of being fired due to having to take nearly an entire month off.

I am not one to complain but after spending 2 months of prep on this cruise and doing everything RCB told me to do, I had such a horrible experience that I doubt I will ever cruise again after this. I hope your experiences are better than mine.

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I know that perceptions can be very wrong, and maybe some of it was that. Or some people can feel slighted once, then everything turns into a slight.

However, after NOTHING but a post filled with complaints, you lost all credibility with the “I am not one to complain”. 

If you ever return, I’m sorry you had a bad cruise. 

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It sounds like your first cruise ever?  My first cruise I knew nothing of this discussion board or cruise critic.  I got off the ship and was angry because I’d saved for so long and didn’t have the experience I thought it should have been.  You cruised during Covid, which compounds those issues (like the cancelled escape room).  As a female who stands nearly 6ft tall and has done a fair number of solo cruises I’ve been overlooked by staff, I’ve had people just step in front of me on a line (no, they weren’t with the people in front of me) and other things that are just unfathomable because I really don’t think I’m that invisible.  It’s disheartening but don’t let it ruin your time.  instead of saying I’d never cruise again I decided to educate myself, by reading boards like this, and take it one step further, I share my experience and knowledge here and to people I meet onboard.  
I can’t help you with the post cruise Covid quarantine but I’ve no doubt you were told information that unfortunately you cannot prove.  I would reach out to corporate and not include your other disappointments, instead I would be writing about what’s most important, reimbursement for your hotel/food/expenses that they said would be covered, and include your receipts. Also, if you were quarantined in your room you are entitled to a prorated refund for each day in quarantine onboard.

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+1 for being well written. That's about it. Their first post is a long complaint. I suspect it's another person thinking this forum is in someway related to Royal Caribbean and they'll get some sort of compensation. 

Got COVID on the cruise. There is no proof of that. How long was the cruise and what day did symptoms appear. Could have been flight, work, grocery store, or yes, the cruise.

100+ have COVID because the poster "heard" employees saying "there's another one, that makes 30" and it was early on in the cruise. I want to see the posters mathematical equation that gets them to 100+ by the end of the cruise.

Okay, rant done, I have been missing from this site for a while and really have no place to play along being "mean" but really... After everything we all have endured personally during COVID-19 quarantine / lock down over the past 2 years: lost loved ones, watched our essential family and friends keep working and now with massive fatigue, our own mental health from it all, no vacations, etc ... even if the complaints are valid - are we really still here in life - complaining that Sorrento's pizza sucks? That people are inconsiderate? That lines suck? This makes my heart hurt. We need to appreciate more. 

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21 minutes ago, Pattycruise said:

I’ve had people just step in front of me on a line

Honestly, this happens to me a lot. Maybe it's because I am 5'3. Maybe it's because 9.5 out of 10 times I'll just shut my mouth. People on vacation and cruise ships are just rude. You're not invisible.

I even had a friend say, you need to stick up for yourself more. I don't disagree, but is it worth it at Cafe Promenade? "Excuse me, I was next, okay, I will have my 3rd ham & cheese sandwich" ... I just don't want to bring myself to that dark place to be that angry over it. Go ahead, everyone knows what you did, enjoy your sandwich 3 minutes before mine. 

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I am fully aware what this blog is and I am fully aware I mostly shared my complaints. I really was looking for both a way to vent and to compare to other's experiences. I did have fun in some parts, but I think my vision of a cruise vacation was skewed based on RCB's videos where I was expecting a 7 day adventure of fun in the sun and got a more theme park "please pay me" feel all week. I also left out a lot and kinda just hit key points as I had A LOT to cover.

A lot of it was my own hubris and not standing up for myself, I'll give it that.

>I missed 2 weeks of work because I had to quarantine from the 3rd until the 10th. I was still very sick when I got home and was out for another week. This wasn't RC's fault of course, I'm more upset I was mislead on how much they'd reimburse, but that's still being worked on.

>I said I was in a group of 50+ people sitting on the dock outside the ship at the end and I went on night 5, at which point I overheard I was #30, and there were 4 other people in the room with me who also had covid symptoms going after me. I know for a fact there were several groups like mine because we all got out at separate times and they gave us little number stickers to keep track of our groups.

>I suppose I had better expectations of food, so yeah, Sorrento's sucked in my experience. I'm not even a picky eater, just had higher expectations.

>The dining package in the app says "call guest services for instructions" or something like that and I couldn't find anything in the blog pertaining to this, at least not in the time frame before the cruise among other things I was researching.

>And lastly, I was trying to say "I am not one to complain" as in I am usually a pretty care free person, but I felt like the entire week just was a dumpster fire. Perhaps I didn't prepare myself like I thought I did. There's also a side of me (and I'm sure others can relate) that thinks "oh well I'm spending this money so it's not all bad."

I did meet some cool people, and met that family who went zip lining with me. Found 2 cruise ducks, saw the ventriloquist show as well as part of the fine line (that wasn't cancelled). Spent way too much money trying to claim a figurine in a crane game. Rode the ultimate abyss once and almost threw up, it was really fun. Bad did outweigh the good though. 

Also yes, I made this account solely to post my thoughts, and I figured the RCB would be the best and most relevant place to do it.

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It is amazing how different each individual's experiences are on a cruise. I was on the same cruise as a solo and had an absolute blast! Other than some major hiccups with the Kennedy Space Center excursion on the disembarkation day (not Royal's fault), it was nearly a perfect cruise for me. I interacted significantly with the dive shop people on board, as well as the St. Thomas dive operator and found them to be exceptionally competent and great.

The pools did get crowded at times, but I never had a problem getting into them and did not witness any spilled drinks that looked like vomit. The slides were open quite a bit, not just a couple days.

I ate at Izumi, Wonderland, 150 Central Park, Jamies, and Johnny Rockets as a solo and never felt like that affected my experience or treatment by the staff.

Getting into shows with a reservation, I showed up about 30 min early and never had an issue getting a decent seat for any of them.

I think the escape room closure and the hard sell in the spa are fairly well documented.

I never experienced the issue with the kids, but I did hear from multiple people about a small group of kids that were just absolutely terrible to other cruisers and were out of control, but it was only a couple of them.

At disembarkation there seemed to be a number of people getting off from the lower deck that I am assuming were the Covid positive people, but it did not seem like a lot of people and the setup on the pier did not seem to be that big. I know in the Facebook group there was a large number of people who tested positive upon returning home, but I think that seems to be standard across the board these days.

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This is a fan site and great for information so I'm not sure what hope to gather from this besides a vent session. I'm sorry you had such a crappy vacation. 

 

Part of being a traveler and especially for a solo traveler is to be flexible. It's no one else's responsibility to entertain you besides actual entertainment. I'm someone who moves between an introvert and an extrovert, depending on my mood or situation. I'm half horrified/half impressed when anyone on the crew makes it a point to remember my name. I know when I travel alone I have to manage my expectations. I count myself lucky when I meet people on a solo trip and get to share my time with them. I also know as a woman ANYWHERE I have to speak up for myself sometimes. If i'm not "seen" I make myself seen. I agree the spa people can be annoying but no one makes you buy anything. "No" - as many times as you need to say it. A lot of your issues could've been avoided if you spoke up for yourself. This is a life lesson - people will get away with what you let them. 

St Thomas is a beautiful island if you leave the dock - you may have not done an excursion to get the best out of your time there.

You booked Harmony mostly because of an escape room? 

Solo rooms are sometimes not worth the cost, you are not actually paying for two people but you are paying a lot. 

I'm sorry you got covid on your trip, 100% sucks. 

 

 

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I apologize for the insensitivity of some of the replies you received.  Most of us are better than that. But managing expectations is difficult, and the larger ships are a different experience from smaller ships.  I have found Johnny Rockets the least enjoyable eating venue, usually because it is so crowded.  You traveled in peak season, which is another factor that contributes to crowds.  All I can say is that cruise vacations, like large theme-park vacations, do require preparation to maximize your experience and minimize your misfortunes.  Better luck next time, wherever you choose to travel.  Also, you might want to look at tips from solo travelers.

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Your time is what you make of it - and if you say you had a poor experience, you have to assume some of that blame.

Saying things like "no one could tell me how the dining package worked" tells me that you weren't asking the right people.  Did you even look in your app?  I find that to be very self explanatory for booking shows and dining venues once on board.

Yes, pools are crowded.  Yes, chairs are hard to come by.  Did you try the solarium?  Did you wake up early to stake your claim on the chairs? (its all part of the game)

Cabin steward harassed you about muster?  It sounds like you didn't follow instructions, didn't watch the videos, and didn't check in at your station.  The cabin steward came to your room to ensure compliance per Coast Guard regulations.  The ship can't leave without muster being performed for all guest.  You should have been scolded, not praised for waiting to be tracked down for that.

Did you review the Cruise Compass paper that was left in your stateroom to tell you what was going on and when?  Yes, bars fill up on sea days for trivia and in the evenings for sing-alongs.  Theatres get busy (but your reserve a show so you get a seat) and if you want a good place to watch the show, arrive early.  But unless you are sitting behind a support column, you aren't really going to have a terrible seat.  Arriving early is part of the game...get a drink and talk to others.  Be a traveler, not a tourist.

St. Thomas cruise port - yeah, its a pier with some shops...about 1/3 of which are shuttered.  But you failed to mention whether you left the pier, hopped a taxi and explored.  If you took an excursion here and had a bad experience, did you talk to the excursion folks and inquire about a refund?

Unless there was a crew switch-over in 3 weeks on the Harmony, I find your comments hard to believe.  On the Jun 5-12 sailing, I found the staff to be friendly, courteous, and happy.  They often went out of their way to engage me.  Now maybe I have a bit more experience understanding the personalities that tend to be attached to folks that come from SE Asia and India from my decades of working with folks from that part of the globe, but they went out of their way to engage me.  Courtesy is a two-way street.  If you smile, say hello and ask how their day is, you become one of those people they engage with.  If you bark out your order and don't say "please" and "thank you", then you get what you give.  

As far as Sorrento's, I find the line to move fast, the pizza to be decent (for quick service on a cruise ship) and the staff to be as courteous as needed for slinging pizza to thousands of guests a day.  

All in all, sounds like you may be a little reserved in nature, perhaps a little shy.  Sounds like you had expectations of a all-inclusive, wait on you hand-and-foot experience that cruise lines like RCCL do not provide.  I would hate to cruise solo on my 1st cruise with no friends / family with me (as an experienced cruiser, solo might be alright [don't tell the wife 😄]), especially if I were not an outgoing person.

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Before you even booked the cruise you should've booked with a travel agent. At least they would've help you pick out a ship to your taste because why would you get on an oasis class ship if you don't like crowds. 

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13 hours ago, wordell1 said:

I love the part where he quarantines in a hotel for 10 days and missed 2 weeks of work.

If I was quarantined for 10 days,  I would miss exactly 2 weeks of work.  (Although not if the quarantine started while on vacation.  I didn't read  the post.  Frankly, if people get so wigged out at the "complaint" posts, I wish they'd just ignore them as they'd just sink lower in the feed and disappear, but since y'all dug it up from way down in the list the damage is already done, lol).

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@FluffyBumples

It sucks that your first cruise experience sucked. One suggestion I would say is do not write off cruising due to a single cruise experience. The cruise experience will vary from itinerary to itinerary, sailing to sailing, and ship to ship. Perhaps RCL was not the cruise line for you due to the variety of passengers you find onboard (I find this to be an advantage as I mainly travel with a multigenerational group). Maybe going with a more adult centric line eg celebrity or virgin voyages maybe more what you are looking for. Or go with a smaller cruise line that is even more exclusive such as regent or silver seas. Or if RCL is still something you want to to stick with maybe spend more time in the adult only are the solarium. I know that I learn something from every time I cruise and use it to help craft a better experience for the next sailing.  

I can definitely tell you that even if you were to go on the exact same cruise and the exact same time next year the experience will be different (could be better could be worse).  

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12 hours ago, Pattycruise said:

It sounds like your first cruise ever?  My first cruise I knew nothing of this discussion board or cruise critic.  I got off the ship and was angry because I’d saved for so long and didn’t have the experience I thought it should have been.  You cruised during Covid, which compounds those issues (like the cancelled escape room).  As a female who stands nearly 6ft tall and has done a fair number of solo cruises I’ve been overlooked by staff, I’ve had people just step in front of me on a line (no, they weren’t with the people in front of me) and other things that are just unfathomable because I really don’t think I’m that invisible.  It’s disheartening but don’t let it ruin your time.  instead of saying I’d never cruise again I decided to educate myself, by reading boards like this, and take it one step further, I share my experience and knowledge here and to people I meet onboard.  
I can’t help you with the post cruise Covid quarantine but I’ve no doubt you were told information that unfortunately you cannot prove.  I would reach out to corporate and not include your other disappointments, instead I would be writing about what’s most important, reimbursement for your hotel/food/expenses that they said would be covered, and include your receipts. Also, if you were quarantined in your room you are entitled to a prorated refund for each day in quarantine onboard.

@Pattycruise Thanks for trying to help the OP with your comments and suggestions. Class act. 

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Every cruise line is not for everyone. I don't know if the OP is "lying" but everyone perceives things differently. My first cruise was solo on NCL, I won it from a holiday raffle at work. It wasn't what I expected, and nobody was friendly, so I spent most of the cruise on deck reading books. The good thing about that cruise was all my stuff was paid for, so no need to figure anything out.  I didn't cruise again for years and when I did it was river cruises. I started back again in 2012 on CCL and after a few sailings, hated it and gave up. My first Ryal cruise was pretty horrible, but it was because of my travel companion, I wrote that experience off and did Royal my way and loved it.

I will say as a solo woman, who is mostly an introvert, I would be okay with being looked over. However, I am short, plus sized and have purple hair, so crew members always remember me. I have had people cut in front of me, invite me to dine/hang/swing with them, and ignored on a few occasions. I remind myself to be assertive. There are always misbehaved children about, doesn't matter if it is a cruise ship, hotel, or grocery store. I am an adult; I use assertive language and don't let them bother me. Everything needs to be put into perspective, I could sail Harmony six times in a row, and nothing would be the same. 

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5 hours ago, Cruisin and Boozin said:

This is a very confusing sentence.

The attendant didn’t clean her room well yet seemed reluctant to leave her alone. I was on a sailing in the fall where the stateroom attendant would walk in on the wife of a man/woman couple when she was alone.  No knock.  She didn’t lock her room when alone because her husband might come back as she showered or napped   She also walked in on the attendant in their room-he had not propped their door open, it was not “cleaning  time” Apparently the attendant was a bit of a  “ look see”, after the 3rd time the husband had a “talk” with the attendant and he never entered the cabin unless it was cleaning time and they were out.  For those who have not experienced this type of unwanted advances/implications/inappropriateness consider yourself lucky.  Some people feel they can pray on women, young people, heck even older people, men…and get away with it.  unless you’ve experienced it it’s easy to say “this doesn’t happen on a ship”.  

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8 hours ago, SpeedNoodles said:

If I was quarantined for 10 days,  I would miss exactly 2 weeks of work.  (Although not if the quarantine started while on vacation.  I didn't read  the post.  Frankly, if people get so wigged out at the "complaint" posts, I wish they'd just ignore them as they'd just sink lower in the feed and disappear, but since y'all dug it up from way down in the list the damage is already done, lol).

I really apologize if this was a legit post from the OP.  Recently, we are seeing a lot of complaint posts from new signups that seem a little over the top to those of us who cruise regularly.  This one seemed a lot over the top to me.

There is definitely such a thing as "trolls" who post on different message boards trying to get a rise out of people. 

Again, if this was a legitimate experience, then I apologize as I definitely think it should be OK to post negative experiences here.

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Cruise expectations can be tough, and all solo travel is hard when you do not make a conscientious decision to socialize. I find there are all types of vacationers on a cruise and have met people I would never know had existed outside my limited life. Some of our friendlier shipmates we have met at activities or scheduled meetings.

For so much to go wrong may be more of a state of mind, and that may pass. We know that we like value (i.e., we don't spend a lot and we feel better by that) so we politely decline the sales pitches. You may feel that with purchasing spa, meals or beverages, that you should have a better outcome or more attentionpaid to you.

Or, cruising may not be for you. 

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Take the COVID part out of it and it sounds like a "normal" (i.e. before pandemic) cruising experience. I started cruising this year. By Feb. of next year I would have been on 8 cruises if all goes well. I got COVID on an Alaska cruise and thankfully only had symptoms after I got home but had to cancel my next cruise because of it. The irony is I've enjoyed cruising because of the pandemic causing the ships to not be at full capacity. It's a completely different story when the ships are at full or near full capacity. I think I'd stay away so I'm trying to get as many cruises in until then. (Hopefully my next few cruises aren't going to be "normal" cruises but I know ships are starting to get close to full capacity if they aren't already.) It also helps that I've tried to be as cheap as possible so it meets my (lowered) expectation.  Picking the cheaper fares also probably means cruises that aren't full.

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On 7/17/2022 at 11:55 PM, sk8erguy1978 said:

+1 for being well written. That's about it. Their first post is a long complaint. I suspect it's another person thinking this forum is in someway related to Royal Caribbean and they'll get some sort of compensation. 

Got COVID on the cruise. There is no proof of that. How long was the cruise and what day did symptoms appear. Could have been flight, work, grocery store, or yes, the cruise.

100+ have COVID because the poster "heard" employees saying "there's another one, that makes 30" and it was early on in the cruise. I want to see the posters mathematical equation that gets them to 100+ by the end of the cruise.

Okay, rant done, I have been missing from this site for a while and really have no place to play along being "mean" but really... After everything we all have endured personally during COVID-19 quarantine / lock down over the past 2 years: lost loved ones, watched our essential family and friends keep working and now with massive fatigue, our own mental health from it all, no vacations, etc ... even if the complaints are valid - are we really still here in life - complaining that Sorrento's pizza sucks? That people are inconsiderate? That lines suck? This makes my heart hurt. We need to appreciate more. 

AMEN!!!

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