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Anthem 11/25/17 - 7+12 B2B


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I woke up early like a kid on Christmas morning... IT'S CRUISE DAY!

This will be a special cruise for me in more ways than one.  First it is a back-to-back, 7 nights followed by 12 nights.  This will be the longest I've stayed on one ship.  Second it will mark my transition from Emerald to Diamond.  Third I finally return to San Juan and St. Thomas on the 2nd leg of this cruise.  This is my first return since the hurricanes earlier this year closed many ports in the Eastern Caribbean.  Fourth it is my first time on a Quantum class ship and my first time departing from the general NYC area.

Cruise 1, seven nights - Depart Cape Liberty then a sea day, Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau and two sea days back to Bayonne.  My ocean view guarantee has netted me a cabin with a small balcony on deck 11 aft.

Cruise 2, twelve nights - Depart Cape Liberty followed by two sea days, San Juan, St. Thomas, Martinique, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts and three sea days back to Bayonne.  My inside guarantee has netted me a virtual balcony on deck 9 aft.

I booked these cruises solo less than 45 days out and don't mind switching cabins as it was expected booking on short notice.  This will be my first virtual balcony experience and being the geek that I am, I'm eager to try it!  I've booked a virtual balcony for the Royal Caribbean Blog Alaska group cruise in June.  This will be a good test run to see if that is going to work for me.  

I flew into Newark yesterday.  Spending a night in an airport hotel reminds me what great value cruising is.  A simple dinner with a few drinks plus gratuity was $53 and I've still got to find breakfast in the morning.  That's on top of the cost for the hotel room.  Having said that I always fly in the day before.  The cost of the hotel and meals are a form of insurance to ensure one way or another I'm going to be on that ship!

I'm tracking Anthem of the Seas using marinetraffic.com.  She is in New York's lower bay and just sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge as she makes her way towards Bayonne.  Time to re-pack my bags and get ready.

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Day 4 - San Juan, Scheduled Arrival 3pm  As we approached San Juan our sunny day ended and it became apparent we would have some liquid sunshine, emphasis on liquid, to contend with. We

I don't always live blog my cruises,   But when I do I live blog on RoyalCarribeanBlog.com.  Live from my balcony. Note to @Matt - need a full screen logo 🙂  

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Looking forward to this, @twangster! Hoping you have a great trip and a really fun B2B experience!

I'll be especially interested to hear your views of the second itinerary, and how it was having the 6 consecutive port days followed by 3 consecutive sea days in the second leg of this trip. @Matt read a letter on his podcast an episode or two back from a listener who did this exact Anthem itinerary and found himself exhausted after so many port days in a row, and then bored out of his gourd doing 3 consecutive sea days. As this is an itinerary I'm strongly considering for the more southern island destinations, I'm going to be very interested to see how you find the experience in comparison.

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3 hours ago, JLMoran said:

 @Matt read a letter on his podcast an episode or two back from a listener who did this exact Anthem itinerary and found himself exhausted after so many port days in a row, and then bored out of his gourd doing 3 consecutive sea days. As this is an itinerary I'm strongly considering for the more southern island destinations, I'm going to be very interested to see how you find the experience in comparison.

My two cents here...I really think you need to look at what type of cruiser you are (or your family).  There's a range in cruising type personalities, from people who are really active cruisers who constantly have to be seeing or doing something to some who could go on a cruise to nowhere and have a blast. Trick is to finding out what type you are and then picking the right itinerary. Personally, for my family and I, we are the laziest cruisers ever! Lol. 3 seas days sounds great!

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9 minutes ago, Sabrinaklai said:

My two cents here...I really think you need to look at what type of cruiser you are (or your family).  There's a range in cruising type personalities, from people who are really active cruisers who constantly have to be seeing or doing something to some who could go on a cruise to nowhere and have a blast. Trick is to finding out what type you are and then picking the right itinerary. Personally, for my family and I, we are the laziest cruisers ever! Lol. 3 seas days sounds great!

I agree with you here, but I already know myself well enough that even before I booked my first cruise, I knew I was never going to be a "the ship is the destination" kind of person. Cruising is a means to see places I can't normally go to, and I want to see as many as I can in the days I'm on that cruise. I do absolutely see the need for sea days, especially when I'm mobility limited and having a day off between ports is likely to be best for me so my feet can recuperate (although I do have to say that I "bounce back" a heck of a lot faster than I used to since I had the heel / ankle / shin fusions done several years ago).

I also know that I get bored really easily, which is where having three consecutive sea days could be a bit of a problem for me. The ship definitely has plenty to do onboard, but that final day will likely have to be spent entirely indoors since these trips only sail in late fall / winter, and I don't know how well the wife will like me sitting in the pub drinking the day away. 😉 

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Wow!  Quite a day and evening.  Lots to do and see, so lets start with the beginning. 

This is the cruise terminal viewed from the ship once on board.  It looks a lot bigger than it feels when you are waiting to get board. You can see cars lined up to snake around to the terminal here at 1:30pm.  There was none of this when I arrived at 10am, we drove right up in my Lyft ride, $23 with tip from a hotel near EWR (Newark) airport.

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Before I entered the terminal, I walked over to the Tier Drop Memorial right next to the terminal.  This is New Jersey's 911 memorial and it's right at the cruise terminal.

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As you can see, it is located right beside the cruise terminal, a short walk over after dropping off luggage.  That's Manhattan in the distance off the ship's bow.

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In my opinion, it's worth arriving a few minutes early to visit here.  It's hard to put into words why, but you probably can figure it out.  It's a five minute walk over from where I dropped my bags. 

Once through security, suites and higher frequent cruisers to the left, the rest of us, including me on this trip, to the right. 

The employees I ran into didn't seem to notice or care for C&A status, in you go, get in a line.  The white chairs are for some people, blue chairs seemed to be either for those who got their first or if you had status, or not, not really sure how they figured who goes where.  Looking at the SetSail passes around me, C&A status doesn't apply in Bayonne.

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The blue chair section, where I ended up since I was solo and someone took pity on me was arranged in section 1 through 10 (I was originally directed as Emerald into the general white chair section).  Section 1 of the blue chairs was B2B, Pinnacle, Diamond and D+, from there sections 2-10 were just sections 2-10.  Emerald meant nothing, I was just lucky to get into section 10 mixed with many different flavors of C&A and never sailed.  In other words, other than D/D+ get there early if you want to board early.  Gold/Platinum/Emerald mean nothing in Bayonne.

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Perhaps this was influenced by the delayed process to deal with continued cleaning in the wake of a recent Norovirus issue a few weeks earlier than this sailing.  A cruiser disembarking on this day had posted no issues they were aware of, so I believe the delayed boarding was due to on-going cleaning and due diligence just to make sure it went away.  They had sent an email warning everyone of delayed boarding, so no surprise here. Not a big deal, the ship wasn't going without us.

At 11:30am they rolled up the doors and starting allowing folks on.  By 12:15pm they made it to section 10 where I was.  

We had a great weather day.  It reminded me of boarding my Alaska cruise in June.  Warm in the sun, but cool in the shade.  Great views of Manhattan and Lady Liberty with a telephoto lens.  

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With the compressed boarding process and leaving as close to on time as possible, the regular venues were packed including long lines at cafe two70. 

I had made my way to guest services where I learned my Wow! band from Harmony was useless since I had a different muster station compared to Anthem.  I was in E1 while on Harmony and now I am E2 so my Wow! band could not be traded in. Have to buy another one.

Next I went to the Box Office on deck 4 temporarily set up in Boleros to make iFly and Northstar reservations.  Since I booked on short notice these were never available prior to boarding.

That complete, my next stop was specialty dining to arrange or modify my BOGO2 pre-cruise purchase.  I had selected an 8:30 dining slot and was assigned 7:30 on both nights.  That conflicted with plans so I changed both day 1 & day 2 dinners covered by the BOGO to times and restaurants I wanted.  

That complete now the masses were on board so I encountered long lines in many other food venues so I ended up in familiar territory.  The Dog House.

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Cabins were ready at 2pm, muster at 2:30pm.  Luggage was in the hallway when they opened cabin access at 2pm.

After muster (E1 and E2 are in two70), we departed.  Clouds have moved in, temperatures dropped, it felt like Alaska more and more, but still great views of NYC as we pulled out.

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Not long after we approached the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  It's worth being on deck 15 for this.

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I took some shots around the ship, but I'll wait to take better shots once we are in warmer waters.  Until then, here is Gigi and a sunset shot.

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Tonight we had a Journey cover band, DSB playing in the music hall.
 
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Music was good, but I'm not impressed by the acoustics in the music hall, especially on the second level.  
Walking past Boleros, I heard something very familiar.  It was the Royal Swedes playing.  I saw them on Freedom just last week, so I plopped down here for a while.

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After this to the Pub!  ...for some traditional pub type music.
 
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When I realized how late it was, I decided to call it a night.  One last shot before I wrap it up.  The crowds now gone, here is 'VIA'.
 
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Yes, this is a pretty ship.  I'm looking forward to 19 nights on Anthem.  More pictures to follow.  Now its time for bed.
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Thanks for terminal pics @twangster! Those are hard to come by. Just curious, around what time those pics were taken? It looks so crowded! Was there a separate entrance for suites? And did they have a sitting area with couches etc. for suites? And one last question that I have always been curious about, how long it it take to reach the Verrazano bridge after departure? Hope you have a restful two seas days, that first day looked like busy one!

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On 11/26/2017 at 6:32 AM, Sabrinaklai said:

Thanks for terminal pics @twangster! Those are hard to come by. Just curious, around what time those pics were taken? It looks so crowded! Was there a separate entrance for suites? And did they have a sitting area with couches etc. for suites? And one last question that I have always been curious about, how long it it take to reach the Verrazano bridge after departure? Hope you have a restful two seas days, that first day looked like busy one!

No separate entrance for suites that I saw.  Once through the metal detectors suites/top tier to the left, never sailed in the middle, C&A check in to the right.  There may have been a suite/top tier security line towards the left, I didn't go over there. It was hectic and confusing to say the least.  Our boarding was delayed for an enhanced cleaning effort.  I had received an email to this effect so I delayed my arrival a bit.  I left my hotel shortly after 10am, dropped off bags at 10:35am then walked over to the Tier Drop Memorial.  It was around 11am that I entered the terminal.  There were few lines and due to the confusion I ended up in the never sailed queue but there was no one in line but me. 

It's not a big terminal by any stretch.  The picture above from the ship is misleading, only a small section of the building for guests. The rest is for luggage and cargo.  It's NYC/Jersey.  A lot of people cutting lines, ignoring signs, just doing what ever.  The lady guarding the blue seats as each section was allowed to proceed to the ship said she hears all kinds of excuses and people trying to jump ahead.  She had to bark at a few people in the white seats.  She is local and wasn't shy about keeping people in their place.  Just wait she told me, disembarking is worse.

The delay for cleaning made it worse on this day, cutting an hour off the process and creating the extra chaos in the terminal.  Maybe.  I think.

Security was really interested in another guest's CPAP machine and an extension cord he had.  Meanwhile my 4 bottles of wine and extension cord went right through. I had 4 bottles since I am doing a B2B but they never said anything so I kept them all with me.  As I understand they are suppose to collect 2 and deliver them to my cabin on cruise #2.

It's nothing like terminal 18 in Port Everglades, but it's not bad, just a bit chaotic. 

Here is a panoramic:

 

Consider more than half of this total space is pre-security and the check in area.

Through the green area in the corner is the way to the ship but there is an escalator and stairs immediately through this area.  They have to meter traffic flow to avoid overloading the escalator and having too many people reach the top before the queue to get onto the gangway and to the ship has cleared.

It took about 20 minutes to reach the bridge.

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

 

It's NYC/Jersey.  A lot of people cutting lines, ignoring signs, just doing what ever.  The lady guarding the blue seats as each section was allowed to proceed to the ship said she hears all kinds of excuses and people trying to jump ahead.  She had to bark at a few people in the white seats.  She is local and wasn't shy about keeping people in their place.  Just wait she told me, disembarking is worse.

 

Oh my...makes me cringe looking at that panoramic and reading this lol. I might need to get into sky class for priority disembarkation .  Makes me nervous to keep that 10:30 am flight home too.  I'll be looking for your post on disembarkation for sure!

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Day 2 - Sea Day

Breakfast is the MDR today.  I sat with a nice couple from PA.  Service was a bit slow. My Eggs Benedict tasted fine, but one the egg was off the muffin and a dime sized spot of hollandaise sauce was under the egg where it sat on the plate.  It's like the Egg Benedict robot machine had a malfunction and went haywire.  Oh well, I managed to re-assemble it properly.

I had a talk with the loyalty ambassador this morning, Luara.  That's her name despite her badge that reads Laura.  She explained its a Brazilian name but everyone gets it wrong including RCI.  I was trying to get my Freedom points fixed as I didn't get my double for cruising solo.  I also asked if there were any way I could get Diamond for the 2nd leg of the B2B since technically this cruise, the 1st leg will cross the threshold.  She had to email corporate for that request.  They can't or don't do anything on the ship.   She promised to let me know.

The enhanced cleaning efforts kept the crew busy on day one.  The cup that comes with the drink package wasn't in my cabin, neither was my Voom code until late last night.  No water from the C&A society.  Luara explained they are running behind because of the cleaning efforts.

From here I explored the ship a bit. Deck 14 near the elevator bank has a glass floor section that looks straight down to deck 5.  Here it from deck 15:

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Here is the adult only Solarium.

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Anthem has an indoor pool which makes it great for the NYC market in the winter.  Likewise Ovation will be a perfect fit for Alaska in 2019 (sister ship).  This pool is family friendly. 

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Flowrider is aft with great views.

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I'll do more on Windjammer another day as i haven't eaten there yet.  Here is the WJ outdoor table section at the aft.

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Lastly the Sky Bar near the main outdoor pools.

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More to come.  Time for lunch, and a beverage.

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Last night I ate in Wonderland.  My 1st experience with Wonderland.  

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The menu is presented blank and you have to paint it with special water provided to view the menu.

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I had five or six appetizers (they are small) and the Branzino fish entree.

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Food was great, but with nothing but a shear curtain between me and the Esplanade right behind me, I couldn't hear my waiter Peter at times due to offers for discounted watches and jewelry sales coming soon booming over the speakers.  Don't miss it! It really took away from an otherwise nice dining experience.  My advice?  Do Wonderland on Harmony.

Back to today.  Great day at sea.  I checked out two70, the amazing venue at the aft of the ship. During the day there are great panoramic views aft.   

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Anthem still has outdoor promenade decks on each side of the ship where you can get out and feel the sea.  There are some small areas with chairs, smoking on one side of the ship, non-smoking on the other side.

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The Esplanade:

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Bionic bar:

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Esplanade from the other direction:

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I finally met the man, the myth, the legend... @Big Dawg Ron.  Where else but in the pub.  If you don't follow his Periscopes, you should. Note the bottle of Kraken in play.  @Matt should be proud.  He was wearing his Royal Caribbean Blog T-shirt too!

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The top tier event was in two70.  Note it was at 4:30pm and still daylight outside.  They have incredible projection technology that turns the windows seen in the above photos of two70 into projection screens.  The senior officers were presented to us.

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1,609 crew on board

1,099 Platinum

209 Emerald

340 Diamond and Diamond Plus

Top cruisers on this cruise has 1,370 C&A points if I wrote that down properly (free drinks at top tier).

Towards the end of the event they presented the current fleet sailing virtually behind us using projection technology.

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Note how the house lights track the mood of the projected scene.  Cool technology.

Then they added more ships including those retired from the fleet.  @Big Dawg Ron scoped it.  Check it out!  As they named each ship folks cheered if they had sailed on them.

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Formal night tonight.  Time to get ready.  I have Spectra's Caberet followed by Chops Grille.

Before I go, here is the elevator bank from deck 10:

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8 minutes ago, mom2mybugs said:

 I look forward to the next 2 weeks!   Jane

Wow, I haven't thought about that...over 2 weeks of a live blog...  Well, it'll give me something to do since I've already done all my cruise booking, lol.  However, @twangster, if you can't keep up for 19 days I'll understand, that's a long time to try and keep us landlockers entertained.  Have fun!!

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Spectra's Cabaret in two70 tonight.  This venue has the robotic displays combined with projection on the glass windows and many different stage elements that operate in a variety of combinations.  There is a lot of technology going on and it was interesting to see how they used it all during this show.

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There are a variety of musicians and bands on board that move around the ship.  Tonight was the guitar player Joyce from the "We Will Rock You" show in The VIA.

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The Journey cover band DSB was back in the music hall.

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Dreamworks characters made appearances and kids flocked to them for pictures.

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Dinner in Chops Grille.  Located next to the Schooner Bar Chops does have a glass door which does isolate sounds from the bar quite well unlike Wonderland right in the Esplanade or Jamie's Italian in The VIA.  Service was off a little but the fillet much better than on Freedom last week.  Overall a great experience and well worth the $30 BOGO2 I had used.  I noticed recently in the cruise planner before boarding that the price was $40 for the BOGO2.  I left a nice tip despite the slightly imperfect service.  

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After my 9pm dinner I went walking around the ship to burn off a handful of calories.  It's Sunday night and football was still playing on the outdoor screen.  

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While closed at this time of night, Northstar's prominent presence contributes to the ambiance of the pool deck at night.

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The indoor pools were also closed this late at night but they illuminate them to add to the vibe of Anthem at night.

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Then off to the Solarium which is very relaxing at night.  The main multi-level tiered pool was closed for cleaning but there were some hot tubs still open with guests enjoying them.

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There is a colorful swing in the Solarium.

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I think I like this Solarium the best of any ship I've sailed.

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Next a stop in Vintages before they closed for the night.

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Vintages and Jamie's Italian are located in The VIA and it's a wonderful use of geometric shapes and lighting.

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One last look at the elevator bank this time looking up before heading to bed.

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The Next Cruise desk announced a Grand Loft Suite tour for today.  Apparently there was a no-show, so me and 1/3 of the ship went for the tour this morning.  Cabin 10720.  

There was a recent photo tour of another Grand Loft Suite on Anthem

https://www.royalcaribbeanblog.com/2017/11/18/royal-caribbean-anthem-of-the-seas-grand-loft-suite-photo-tour

This is a corner cabin on deck 10 aft.  I think I like the loft suites on Oasis class more, but to each their own.

This cabin has three outdoor balconies. One aft, one lower balcony on starboard and another starboard balcony above it accessed from the 2nd level.

Two and half bathrooms.  Powder room downstairs, separate shower downstairs, bathroom upstairs with shower but no tub.

Great views aft.

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Main level aft balcony:

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Aft views:

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This is what you see when you 1st open the cabin door.  Straight ahead is the starboard balcony.  To the right is the main living area.  Stairs to the 2nd level:

The main level starboard balcony:

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Main level powder room.

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Main level shower:

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Upstairs starboard balcony.

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Master bathroom upstairs:

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I love decor but the Oasis CLS seem more open?  Hard to tell.  

The two photos (the one with the sitting area and the one with the little swing) after the one with the curtain blowing, where is that?  Is that all part of the same balcony?

Here I am asking away like I actually would have a chance to stay in one of these...lol....one can dream....

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1 hour ago, Sabrinaklai said:

I love decor but the Oasis CLS seem more open?  Hard to tell.  

The two photos (the one with the sitting area and the one with the little swing) after the one with the curtain blowing, where is that?  Is that all part of the same balcony?

Here I am asking away like I actually would have a chance to stay in one of these...lol....one can dream....

When you first walk in you immediately have the stairs but no full 2 story window greeting you.  I think that's why Oasis class loft suites seem more open.  From the entrance straight forward is the starboard balcony.  From the main entrance you turn right to enter the main living room.  

I've updated the photos after a 2nd trip back with fewer crowds. 

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Luara our Loyalty Ambassador just called.  They fixed my Freedom points and will manually update my status for the next cruise of this B2B to Diamond so that I will have standard Diamond benefits.  That's huge and much appreciated as the drink package for a 12 night cruise is kind of expensive, almost $800 with Voom.  I have my 4 bottles of wine I'm saving since I have the drink package on this 7 nighter so between Diamond nightly drinks and my 4 bottles of wine I am set.  I can always buy a frozen drink or beer mid-day and still come out way under the cost of the drink package. Thanks Royal! (and Luara).

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