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Here We Go Again! - Allure of the Seas - Sept 25-Oct 1, 2022 - Star Class


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Here we go again...

Our last blog left off with a promise that our first star class cruise would not be our last.  We’re making good on that promise!  This will be number two, and we have two more already on the books.  I promise that this won’t be ending any time soon.  When I start talking about cruises now, my hubby’s first question is if it’s Star Class (he’s just as hooked as I am).  🤣

Partners in crime on this cruise: 

  • Hubby & I (Tim & Kathy)
  • Our youngest daughter (who was on our first star class cruise with us) and her best friend/our honorary daughter (Kenzie & Kayla)
  • Mother-in-law and her youngest sister (Mom & Aunt Cindy) 

Ship:  Allure of the Seas

Cabin:  2 Bedroom Aquatheater Suite – deck 9 – Star Class!

Dates:  September 25 – October 1

Ports:  Sailing RT from Ft Lauderdale (FLL) to Roatan, Costa Maya, & Cozumel

Booked Excursions: 

  • Roatan, Honduras:  Splitting up the group - Some on the All-in-One Tour & some on the Turquoise Bay All Inclusive Horseback & Beach Break 
  • Costa Maya, Mexico:  Chacchoben Ruins Exclusive Drive (all of us)
  • Cozumel, Mexico:  Splitting up again - Some doing the All Inclusive VIP Dolphin Encounter & others enjoying the Chankanaab Day Pass with Lunch & Drinks

Pre-cruise Hotels:  We’re sporting Holiday Inn this trip both in town the night before our flights out, and again in FLL the night before the cruise.

Flying:  Five of us are flying in the day before from Oregon and one is coming from New Jersey (fingers crossed that we all make it on time with our luggage – which is now a thing we think about after @Lovetocruise2002's experience last Spring)

Travel Insurance:  Absolutely!!  We got policy quotes and picked the best one for us through Insuremytrip.com (in case you were curious)

This is a special trip for our family and all about memories and celebrations:  

  1. Our 30th Wedding Anniversary (the original reason for this booking);
  2. Mom’s birthday;
  3. Kenzie's birthday;
  4. Kayla's birthday; and most importantly
  5. We want to give mom the vacation of a lifetime!

I know…nothing special for Cindy listed above. Don’t worry - I’m sure we’ll come up with something before we cruise.  
 

Kenzie cruised with us last November on Anthem in a star class suite (her third cruise ever and now wants nothing to do with normal cabins). Mom and Aunt Cindy have both cruised a few times before, but it’s been at least 15 years, and they were nothing like this. Kayla has never cruised, but she heard all about our last one and was experiencing some serious FOMO.  We're so excited to share this cruise with our family!

A little history about our family...

  • Tim and I:  We're pretty chill individuals, but we know how to throw a bash, and we're all about making special moments happen around us.  
  • Kenzie, Kayla, and Cindy:  All three could stay up for a month straight talking non-stop, and still have more to say.  🤪
  • Cindy has a thousand family stories to tell and keeps us in stitches all the time
  • Mom is the ultimate caregiver!  She's been caring for everyone in her life (sisters, kids, husbands) for as long as she can remember, and it's hard for her to be pampered.  We're going to make sure she is taken care of!!

A little history about this cruise booking…

This cruise was originally booked on Symphony in the same cabin type.  We booked it in the middle of the shutdown and we thought we had gotten a really good deal.  Royal said, “hold my beer”, and last Fall, they redeployed Wonder’s inaugural year sailings during the Summer of 2022, kicked Allure out of Europe, and opened up Allure sailings from FLL.  Someone in our Star Class Facebook thread shared that she got a great deal and I had to look.  The difference was almost $5K and it was a no brainer.  Even though the itinerary was different, and it was one night less on an older ship, we had to follow the savings and we jumped ship (pun intended).  🤣

Allure was supposed to be amplified in 2020, but due to the shutdown, it was only in drydock for regularly scheduled maintenance at that time.  Because of the delay, this ship still has the Champagne Bar (instead of the Bionic Bar), Sabor Mexican Restaurant (instead of BBQ, I think ??), no Perfect Storm water slides, and no Ultimate Abyss (dry slides).  I don’t know if they intend to change Giovani’s during the amplification, but we’re pretty happy it’s still on the ship because none of us really liked Jamie’s on Anthem.  Oh!  And Mom’s all-time favorite musical is Mamma Mia!, which is the show on Allure, so that couldn’t have worked out better!

We’re two months out and planning has fully commenced!  The things we’re looking forward to most are the food (of course), the aqua-theater balcony, the Dux mattress!!!!! (Kenzie is very jealous because she heard ALL about it last time), walks with Mom, drinking without being the designated driver, some great excursions, and making AMAZING memories together!

I hope this blog is entertaining for you because I know we're going to have some very entertaining experiences! 😍🤩

“Memories are the STARS that Brighten Our Dreams”  ~Sharon Repp

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59 Days to go!  🥳

The admin for our Facebook Roll Call group keeps us counting down daily, so I never have to go far to wonder how many more days until we go on this amazing adventure!  He wonders some days if anyone would miss it - I DEFINITELY WOULD!!

Yesterday, I woke up to one of my favorite emails!  Waiting for me in my inbox was the Royal Star Class Questionnaire!  

If you've never gotten one of these before, they ask all kinds of obscure questions to get to know you to learn how they can make your vacation extra special.  Some believe they never make it to the genies, but I'm an optimist and love to put time into them.  I've been polling the family members, and it's been fun learning new things about them!

No, the below pic is not our room on this trip - but it will be in 2024 when we have the Royal Loft Suite on The Harmony booked!!  Yes, I have a countdown for that one going already!

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On 7/29/2022 at 8:39 AM, Brenna said:

We almost joined this one as well but opted for the 8 Night on Explorer to be on for our actual anniversary! Have fun! 

Thank you!  Happy upcoming anniversary to you!  In your signature, it shows you were on Allure before the shutdown.  Any thoughts about her or tips you'd like to pass along?

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50 DAYS TO GO!!!

The family interviews have been completed and the Star Class Questionnaire has been sent in!  Now onto the shopping!

I decided to get corny this trip and I've ordered some matching t-shirts for a few occasions...cue the eye rolling from our (almost) 26 year old.  🤣🤣  YOLO right?  Why not make it memorable!

We got cute Cruise Squad 2022 t-shirts for embarkation, and we decided it would be fun to have the genie arrange a bar crawl for our group beginning in the wine bar.  I got t-shirts for all of the gals in their favorite colors that say "Wine Drinking Team", and Tim is getting one that reads "Warning, the girls are drinking again".  LOL. 

Since each person is celebrating something on this cruise, we have a schedule for each person's day and I had to get something for each to commemorate the special occasion.  For those celebrating birthdays (Mom, Kenzie, & Kayla) each will wear a birthday tiara on their day; for Tim & I celebrating our anniversary, we have matching t-shirts, and we found something for Cindy to celebrate!  She and her husband have decided to separate (it's been a long time coming), so we're celebrating her new found freedom.  While I would normally be sad for someone experiencing a separation, I can honestly say that we think it's for the best.  In honor of Cindy's celebration, we got her a t-shirt reads "I'M NOT WITH STUPID ANYMORE!".  And of course, she gets a tiara to go with it! 🤣

Talking through our last star class cruise, Kenzie and I decided it would have been nice to have something to hand out to those who make our cruise memorable (on top of cash, of course).  We are making up little goodie bags to take with us.  We got little anchor stickers that will be stuck to the bottom of Hershey Kisses, and cute little draw string bags with anchors on them to hold the kisses.  We also got little mini tip envelopes to leave for the servers at the different dining venues.  Last time Kenzie and I made thank you cards - which was a lot of work - and when on the cruise I wished I had had more.  This time I'm buying a box of cute little cruise themed thank you cards.  

In the next couple of weeks, we're all going shopping for cruise wear and making sure everyone has something sparkly for formal nights.  Well, okay, maybe Tim won't end up with sparkles...or will he.  😉

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Luggage Worries

After @Lovetocruise2002's luggage fiasco last Spring and now watching this morning's La Lido Loca video, I'm a bit worried about our luggage arriving with us in Fort Lauderdale.  We weren't able to secure non-stop flights from home to FLL, so we have a connection (which always adds risk), and we will HAVE to check bags because there is no way I can cruise for a week with only a carryon!  

I'm thinking of getting some Apple Airtags for our bags.  Anyone have thoughts on this or other things we could do?  Would love to know what others think/feel about luggage arriving with you and on time these days and what ideas you all have come up with.

😟😟

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12 hours ago, CravingaCruise said:

I'm thinking of getting some Apple Airtags for our bags.  Anyone have thoughts on this or other things we could do?  Would love to know what others think/feel about luggage arriving with you and on time these days and what ideas you all have come up with.

I think @Jaxused apple air tags on her last cruise back in December.

I personally have not bothered with Apple air tags because we fly Delta and I find their baggage tracking to be really good. Even during our lost luggage fiasco in March, I was always able to track my bags through the Delta app. They just never made it to where we were but I knew where they were lol

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On 8/7/2022 at 8:27 PM, CravingaCruise said:

I'm thinking of getting some Apple Airtags for our bags.  Anyone have thoughts on this or other things we could do?

I used apple air tags for the first time last December and thought they worked great. They won’t prevent your bags from being lost but they may assist in locating them faster if they are.  Our Canadian airline carrier doesn’t provide access to luggage tracking like other airlines do so for me it was worth having the AirTags.  

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13 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

They just never made it to where we were but I knew where they were lol

LOL!  That could almost be more painful since I remember the bags went on quite a journey as Delta & your genie attempted to get them to you.

1 hour ago, Jax said:

Our Canadian airline carrier doesn’t provide access to luggage tracking like other airlines do so for me it was worth having the AirTags.

Thank you!  I'm not sure how much I trust the airline tracking them since we've experienced them not being scanned before...only one time...but I'm finding myself less trusting these days since I'm seeing lost luggage in the news more and more.  

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9 hours ago, Yesiamthere6 said:

We were on the allure this past February on the 8th floor two bedroom aqua suite, and just loved it!!  We have a grand loft booked this coming February on the Anthem, and a 8th floor two bedroom aqua suite in 2024 on the harmony.  What month are you all going to be on the Harmony in 2024?

We'll be on Harmony April 14-21, 2024.  Sounds like we're following similar paths through the ships!  🙂  I just need to get Symphony and Wonder booked and that will complete our Oasis class tour - then we'll do it again.  It's definitely my favorite class of ships!  The aft view on Anthem was pretty awesome though!!  I'm sure you will love it!!

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We’ll be on Allure for the 9/11 sailing in one of the deck 8 2br aquatheaters.  Our 6 day sailing does Perfect Day instead of Roatan but we do go to Costa Maya and Cozumel.  It was a VERY good price. It will be interesting to see how your trip compares.

Ironically, we also have Harmony (star) booked for late January 2024.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

A month to go...

We leave a couple of days early to ensure we won't have any flight mishaps that could thwart our carefully planned out adventure!  I'm in full-on "what will I wear" mode!  We just went on a cruise last November, so you'd think this wouldn't be so challenging...but...here we go again!  Ha!  I think that saying is so fitting for this cruise!  I crack myself up! 🤣

We've given up on the diet and have resorted to "it is what it is" at this point.  Maybe for our next cruise in February!  Who are we kidding - cruises don't seem to be our motivator for losing weight.  We love food way too much - which is a good thing since we're going to be star class!  

Mom and Aunt Cindy are patiently awaiting a list from me to help them plan their packing, and I feel like I have writer's block.  I have a huge spreadsheet of everything you could think of for a cruise, but trying to slim it down to share with others with whom we're traveling is hard!  Do any of you have a list you like to share with your extended travelers (you know, the ones you don't already do the packing for)?  If you do and could share, I would be so grateful!!

I broke down and ordered Apple tags for our luggage.  I just couldn't help myself.  Kenzie got some too, so providing we all don't go over eight checked bags, we should be all set. Of course, on our last cruise our shoes got a bag all to themselves.  I think we're going to have to do some cross-packing this time as the paranoia has kicked in over luggage being sent to Cincinnati instead of FLL.  While the Apple tags won't prevent the luggage gremlins from taking over, at least they will keep us informed as to where they've tried to hide them.

OMG!  Aunt Cindy was over the other day and I wanted her to try on her t-shirt to make sure it fit.  I then casually showed her the tiara she gets to wear with it on her special night and she want all 'Amy Farrah Fowler' on me!  If you're not familiar, here's the clip to watch...

 This cruise is going to be sooooo much fun!!

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THE GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE!

We have been assigned Royal Genie Jay for our upcoming sailing!  Jay is already proving to be the perfect communicator for me as I am quite detail-oriented...and love smiley faces - which he adds to everything!  🙂 

I sent him a pretty detailed email with nuggets of info about our family, our preferred dining time & venues, along with the celebrations, excursions, and other misc things we've reserved for our trip.  We're leaving the show schedule to him to manage except for seeing Mamma Mia! the first night it's available just in case we want to sneak a second showing in while on board for Mom.

I have full confidence that he is a fantastic match for our family and will ensure we have a fantastic trip!  We heard he collects magnets so we have some special places from up in our neck of the woods that are a bit touristy and could yield some good magnets.  I'm hopeful he hasn't received them yet - which is always a risk. 

We were also thinking of getting some monogrammed M&Ms for him.  🙂  Just no special language translations this time.  We tried that last time and mis-translated a word.  The saying ended up reading "Royal Genie - Shocking!".  At least she thought it was funny!  This is now a running joke in our home.  Shocking! 🤣

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4 hours ago, CravingaCruise said:

THE GENIE IS OUT OF THE BOTTLE!

We have been assigned Royal Genie Jay for our upcoming sailing!  Jay is already proving to be the perfect communicator for me as I am quite detail-oriented...and love smiley faces - which he adds to everything!  🙂 

I sent him a pretty detailed email with nuggets of info about our family, our preferred dining time & venues, along with the celebrations, excursions, and other misc things we've reserved for our trip.  We're leaving the show schedule to him to manage except for seeing Mamma Mia! the first night it's available just in case we want to sneak a second showing in while on board for Mom.

I have full confidence that he is a fantastic match for our family and will ensure we have a fantastic trip!  We heard he collects magnets so we have some special places from up in our neck of the woods that are a bit touristy and could yield some good magnets.  I'm hopeful he hasn't received them yet - which is always a risk. 

We were also thinking of getting some monogrammed M&Ms for him.  🙂  Just no special language translations this time.  We tried that last time and mis-translated a word.  The saying ended up reading "Royal Genie - Shocking!".  At least she thought it was funny!  This is now a running joke in our home.  Shocking! 🤣

We will be sailing with Jay this Saturday. The communication to this point has been great. Looking forward to meeting him!

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On 8/29/2022 at 8:56 PM, Rags1 said:

We will be sailing with Jay this Saturday. The communication to this point has been great. Looking forward to meeting him!

Hope you have a fantastic time!  If you learn any fabulous tidbits about him along the way I’m all ears!  I’m in gift mode now so any info is helpful!  Bon voyage!

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On 9/3/2022 at 11:19 AM, Lovetocruise2002 said:

From what I have heard, you are in for a real treat!

That makes me so happy!  His communication so far has been superb!  I'm kind of a control freak and will usually organize the snot out of everything, but I'm trying really hard to control myself this time.  I've given Jay some special requests and some great information about the family, but I'm totally leaving the magic to him.  It's a level of trust to which I'm definitely learning to rise.  😊  In the end, I know everyone is going to have a fabulous time, so I really have nothing to worry about.  

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  • 2 weeks later...

11 DAYS UNTIL OUR VACATION BEGINS!!

I keep seeing a cute cartoon on FB that says "I'm sick of waking up and not being on a cruise!"  That's so me right now!!  I think my official diagnosis is "cruise brain". 

I have 8 work days left and some big deliverables before I can officially shut off the brain for our vacation.  I might struggle a bit!

Our craft project for this cruise was different than the thank you cards we made last time.  Since Kenzie wasn't here, I talked Tim into helping me with the project (he's such a good sport).  We got a bunch of Hershey Kisses and put little cruise stickers on the bottom, and then created little goodie bags.  We're going to hang little thank you notes on each of them.  We also stamped some mini tip envelopes with thank you messages.  Some pics are below.

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Last weekend the girls all went shopping (minus Kayla since she's on the other side of the country - but we still got her something) and made sure we had everything we need for the cruise - plus a few extras.  We swung by to pick up Mom and she tried on things from her closet.  She has the cutest blue dress that we decided was going to be for our semi-formal night.  We decided we all needed to have blue to match her, so that was our goal for the day.  I haven't been shopping in person in years!!  Honestly, I didn't really enjoy it that much.  I have really crossed over to technology - the pandemic secured that, I'm sure.  I came home from our girls' trip and ordered a bunch of things on Amazon.  🤣🤣

Next stage - PACKING!  I got a jump start on the staging last weekend, but now I've kicked into full gear.  My living room has piles all over it and the list is being checked off!

Pray for me that I can hold off the cruise brain at least a few more days while I get some work done!!

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I've never been much of a shopper but now I am a shopping recluse.  I haven't been inside a department store in....well, a very, very long time.  I too am technology-spoiled.  I don't even go to the grocery store anymore.  Between Amazon Prime, Instacart and teleworking, I am a total hermit...and I LIKE it !

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On 9/3/2022 at 11:19 AM, Lovetocruise2002 said:

From what I have heard, you are in for a real treat!

That’s an understatement!  @CravingaCruise, in my email to Jay before the trip i just said that it’s not the the things we might ask for that make the experience amazing, but it’s the unexpected surprises. He certainly did not disappoint!  I just posted this morning that I had problems on board with my IPad so will finish my “Live Blog” as a review now that I’m home. But I’ll share this to give you an idea of his creativity. MO5AIC was our headliner show. I saw them 5 years ago on the Oasis. Our family saw their first show on night 2 and then I returned for the late show. Jay and I both think they are an amazingly talented group. On night 7 we had dinner planned in the suite.  When Jay arrived with the food I asked him if he was feeding all of deck 17??  Then the doorbell rings and MO5AIC arrives for dinner. Later Jay said he just felt the group and our family would be a good match for the evening. We had a long wonderful dinner filled with stories and great laughs. And then, armed with drinks, they joked, laughed and performed in the suite for over two hours, including singing Happy Birthday to our youngest and Don’t Stop Believing for Stacy and her new restaurant.  It was an amazing night of fun because Jay thought we were a good match. You’re in good hands, trust me. 

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9 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

I am a total hermit...and I LIKE it !

Same!!  Hubby has to practically drag me out of the home these days.  🤣

 

8 hours ago, Rags1 said:

You’re in good hands, trust me. 

WOW!!!!!  What an amazing treat! 

 

I'm trying so hard not to expect anything at all on this trip because I know that whatever he does will be wonderful.  We're so looking forward to some good R&R and family time.  Anything beyond that will be a bonus and I know Mom, Aunt Cindy, and Kayla will be starry eyed over the new experience!  🥰  Us too, but it's always fun to share with others!!

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4 Days Until We Leave!!

After reading about @Rags1's mic-drop experience, I couldn't even think about writing.  It just didn't feel right!  They must still be riding the high from that trip!  Well done, Genie Jay!  

Okay, here we go...again...LOL!  That saying is so useful!  🤣

Cruise brain completely hit me today!!!  I sat in front of spreadsheets and PowerPoints all day today and had such a hard time concentrating!!  3 more workdays for me and then I can check out for a week!  The great thing is that my boss is out the same week as me so that should eliminate some of the emails I will return to.

Cruise packing has fully commenced and we spent the weekend staging all of our stuff to throw into the bags after our final load of laundry has been completed.  Speaking of laundry, I washed all of the group t-shirts yesterday and dried them on a cool setting, hoping not to make doll clothes out of them.  It's hard to tell without the bodies in them to know if I succeeded!  We'll find out this weekend!  If you see pics of our group and someone is missing a matching t-shirt, you know I goofed!  🤭

I have to say that if you're on the fence about using packing cubes, let me tell you how much I love them! I only started using these about a year ago and I'm obsessed with them now.  At first it was because I was trying to maximize space in a carry on and personal bag for a five week trip - it worked!  I start with the KonMari fold, then roll my items.  I can get about 8 t-shirts into one classic slim e-bags cube with that method.  I get about the same number of my hubby's polos into a classic small e-bags cube without any rolling.  At first I wasn't sure what to do with the super large cubes (that came in a set), but this time I found a use!!  I have about 75 little misc things that are on my list for the cruise (i.e., first aid kit, sewing kit, towel clips, etc), that would otherwise be loose in my bags.  Not this time!  I got all of them into one large and three medium cubes.  Packing once everything is in the bags is so easy, and if TSA decides to open my luggage, they'll all go back in place pretty easily!  I'm a happy camper today!

I've printed all of our documents as back up copies, and I'm waiting on my color cartridge to arrive via Amazon to print my luggage tags.  At some point this week, we'll make a trip to Kohl's to return the unwanted Amazon items obtained during my last phase.  The last time we went, we took our little rolling cart because it was too much to carry!  🤣🤣

Hubby is our in-home chef and he's on the "eat all of the perishable foods" kick this week, which means no square meals but all kinds of mismatches of things.  I've been dying for a good steak!  Other than cruising, we maybe have red meat a couple of times a year.  I'm so ready for the red meat marathon to begin!

steak GIF

I caught up on my cruise vlogs last night after packing all weekend and found out that our very own @Matt is going to be on this cruise!  Matt - You seem like a fun guy!  If we happen to cross paths, we'd love to buy you a drink!

4 more sleeps!!

 

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15 hours ago, CravingaCruise said:

I have to say that if you're on the fence about using packing cubes, let me tell you how much I love them! I only started using these about a year ago and I'm obsessed with them now.  At first it was because I was trying to maximize space in a carry on and personal bag for a five week trip - it worked!  I start with the KonMari fold, then roll my items.  I can get about 8 t-shirts into one classic slim e-bags cube with that method.  I get about the same number of my hubby's polos into a classic small e-bags cube without any rolling.  At first I wasn't sure what to do with the super large cubes (that came in a set), but this time I found a use!!  I have about 75 little misc things that are on my list for the cruise (i.e., first aid kit, sewing kit, towel clips, etc), that would otherwise be loose in my bags.  Not this time!  I got all of them into one large and three medium cubes.  Packing once everything is in the bags is so easy, and if TSA decides to open my luggage, they'll all go back in place pretty easily!  I'm a happy camper today!

I used packing cubes for the first time for our last cruise and - wow - love them. Got different colors for myself and my husband, which also helped with cross packing (I hate cross packing, but understand the need these days.) I also could not figure out what to do with the super large ones, so will try your solution! Everything came out of the packing cubes so neatly - I think fewer wrinkles than in a regular pack even. I got mostly regular packing cubes and one set of compression packing cubes for the bulkier stuff. Thanks for the ideas and have a great cruise!

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