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Mikeb1892

Random questions from a newbie...

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Upfront info: wife and I cruising on Anthem from NJ.  Either in a Junior or Grand Suite. Moody likely 7 or 8 day Florida and Bahamas. 

 

1. What other costs will I have in addition to the total price the website shows me (assuming we do NOT buy any items including food and beverages that are an extra cost)?

2. Can we bring a fan that plugs in with a regular power cord (for white noise)?

3. Can we bring a power extension cord? 

4. We both use Galaxy Note 8's through Verizon for cell phones. What are our options for talking to our kids (12 y/o with a cell phone and 6 y/o) who will be staying with my technology hindered parents?

5. I will have my laptop and may need to VPN in to work. Is this possible, and what is the best method (Wifi vs direct network cable vs cell hotspot vs ?)?

6. What other questions should I have? 

 

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10 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

1. What other costs will I have in addition to the total price the website shows me (assuming we do NOT buy any items including food and beverages that are an extra cost)?

based on your other questions, it sounds like you'll need to get a Voom package for at least one device for internet access

10 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

2. Can we bring a fan that plugs in with a regular power cord (for white noise)?

We were able to get a floor fan from the room steward but I'd ask right away.  If you don't see him/her, call housekeeping.

10 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

4. We both use Galaxy Note 8's through Verizon for cell phones. What are our options for talking to our kids (12 y/o with a cell phone and 6 y/o) who will be staying with my technology hindered parents?

Whats App worked well for us

10 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

5. I will have my laptop and may need to VPN in to work. Is this possible, and what is the best method (Wifi vs direct network cable vs cell hotspot vs ?)?

Voom package.  

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The website will start by showing you the cruise fare only price ... once you get done with the website it will be showing you the price including taxes and fees. You have the option of prepaying gratuities at that point as well but not sure how that gets presented (I haven't booked through the website in a long time). Gratuities will be roughly $15 per person per day, so $15*2*7 would be $210. The only other costs you HAVE to pay are the costs of getting to and from the cruise.

Items you may want to pay for: VOOM (onboard internet), Shore Excursions(through ship or privately), Specialty Restaurants(individually or package deals), Alcoholic beverages (ala carte or all you can drink package), Photos (individually or package), Gambling in Casino (unless you always win in which case no need to budget for the cost), souvenirs ... think that's most of the options.

We bring one or two small fans on every cruise for the combination of white noise and air movement. They are mostly plastic, I think they are about 9" fans and got them from bestbuy for about $6-$8 each, both run off of standard electric current (side note, plugging them in while in Europe is entertaining but short lived ... they don't have a voltage converter so they run at about double speed for roughly one minute before burning out ... one of us knew what was going to happen, the other one didn't believe me).

You can bring power cords/extensions, you may or may not be allowed to keep it with you to use on board though. There are lots of posts on the types of devices that are generally more acceptable, etc. but we have had a small power/extension cord that has made it on all but 2 of our 20+ cruises, more recently we have been using one of the USB charge blocks (looks like a laptop adapter but has several usb outlets that you can plug all your devices into) and those seem to go on no problem.

You can use the onboard cell connections (check with Verizon for the costs, its similar to international roaming but if you just want to send a text a day it might be easiest), you can sign up for the onboard Wi-Fi service (VOOM) which will give you essentially a "free" data connection for your phones.

For VPN you would definitely need the VOOM package, I have never tried setting up VPN but have heard mixed results from various people so be prepared for (possibly) some frustrations.

 

 

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Welcome to the message boards, @Mikeb1892! Going to answer your questions in reverse order, since the answers kind of build on each other.

11 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

5. I will have my laptop and may need to VPN in to work. Is this possible, and what is the best method (Wifi vs direct network cable vs cell hotspot vs ?)?

@jticarruthers covered the key points with this, but can you tell us what VPN client you use? As already noted by jti, people here have had mixed results and the more technically knowledgable members have figured out that the problem generally comes down to which VPN client is being used, and how that client connects over wi-fi to the work network. Knowing your VPN client will help us answer this question more definitively.

11 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

4. We both use Galaxy Note 8's through Verizon for cell phones. What are our options for talking to our kids (12 y/o with a cell phone and 6 y/o) who will be staying with my technology hindered parents?

WhatsApp, as already recommended by @mbk999, is definitely a great choice for communicating with those who have smart phones. Using it will require having a VOOM package so all the devices have a wi-fi connection. You may also want to consider bringing a couple of small magnet-mount white boards and dry erase markers to put on the cabin doors as a low-tech way to keep in touch with the parents and your youngest, or just a pack of Post-It notes if messages will be really short.

Regarding VOOM -- It sounds like you have a total of four devices (three smart phones and your work laptop), so you could buy one 4-device VOOM package and share the code with your wife and one son. The 4-device packages tend to be pretty reasonable, especially if you catch a good sale on Cruise Planner. There's no need for each individual person to get a plan for their device, as Royal has no problem with a passenger sharing the code with others; if more than the allowed number of devices try to connect, either the last one will be denied until a connected device logs off, or the last will connect while one of the other devices gets kicked off.

Also, don't buy VOOM on-board. It will be much more expensive if you aren't at least Diamond in the Crown & Anchor program, and Royal offers promos on VOOM through Cruise Planner often enough that you should have no problem getting it for a good price ahead of sail date.

12 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

1. What other costs will I have in addition to the total price the website shows me (assuming we do NOT buy any items including food and beverages that are an extra cost)?

Besides VOOM and the gratuities that @jticarruthers mentioned, you don't have to buy anything else. If you don't want to go into a particular port (this is kind of common for Nassau), you're free to stay on the ship and enjoy its amentities. Even if you do go into port, you're not required to buy any shore excursions. You can find a nearby beach or a place like a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville to just relax and hang out, in which case your only out of pocket expenses will be for any taxi or bus fare if it's not in walking distance, plus any food and drink you decide to buy.

You should allocate a decent amount of small or medium bills for tips to give various individuals:

  • The porters who load your luggage onto the ship and also haul it off when you disembark typically get $1-$2 per suitcase / bag they load for you; it's worth the money, they work hard and when disembarking, using a porter gets you access to a typically much shorter customs line that speeds you to the curb
  • If you decide to go on any shore excursions, those often (but not always) have a tip component as well that you're asked to pay at the end of the excursion, based on your satisfaction with their job and the overall experience. Again, a couple dollars per person is customary if you're happy with the experience, more if you think they did a stellar job.
  • If you think you'll be buying any alcoholic beverages on board, a tip is auto-included in the final price of each drink but the bartenders always appreciate an extra dollar passed to them along with your SeaPass card (and if you frequent the same bar, they'll often remember you and your preferred drinks, and/or give you a stronger pour without asking)
  • And finally on the tip front, you have the option (but not at all mandatory) to give an extra cash tip to your room steward and waiter/assistant waiter if you think they did an excellent job and deserve something on top of the automatic gratuities you're charged daily (and which are distributed not just to those individuals, but all the other staff associated with your room and places like the Windjammer). These extra tips are given through WOW envelopes you can get from Guest Services, and you'll usually have one envelope left in your cabin a couple nights before you disembark.

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Don’t forget to check the box for refundable cruise fare.  It will add a little at the end of your pricing, but give you some flexibility.  You don’t have to prepay gratuities, you can wait until inboard and have it charged to your account then. 

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7 hours ago, JLMoran said:

 

WhatsApp, as already recommended by @mbk999, is definitely a great choice for communicating with those who have smart phones. Using it will require having a VOOM package so all the devices have a wi-fi connection. You may also want to consider bringing a couple of small magnet-mount white boards and dry erase markers to put on the cabin doors as a low-tech way to keep in touch with the parents and your youngest, or just a pack of Post-It notes if messages will be really short.

 

My apologies for the confusion on this.  Our boys will not be traveling with us on the ship.  We are wondering how we'll stay in contact with them while we are sailing and they are home.  If possible, we'd prefer to actually call them as opposed to texting or video chatting.  

 

7 hours ago, jticarruthers said:

You can use the onboard cell connections (check with Verizon for the costs, its similar to international roaming but if you just want to send a text a day it might be easiest), you can sign up for the onboard Wi-Fi service (VOOM) which will give you essentially a "free" data connection for your phones.

Does Anthem have cell service when it is out of port?  If so is it available anywhere on the ship or only in certain areas?

 

7 hours ago, JLMoran said:

 

As already noted by jti, people here have had mixed results and the more technically knowledgable members have figured out that the problem generally comes down to which VPN client is being used, and how that client connects over wi-fi to the work network. Knowing your VPN client will help us answer this question more definitively.

I don't believe there is a VPN client?  Once I have an internet connection, I click on my network icon on my task bar, the network sidebar opens, and there is an option for VPN.  I click that and click connect, and then it connects directly to my corporate server.  I apologize for my ignorance on this, but hopefully I've answered this question?

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12 minutes ago, Mikeb1892 said:

My apologies for the confusion on this.  Our boys will not be traveling with us on the ship.  We are wondering how we'll stay in contact with them while we are sailing and they are home.  If possible, we'd prefer to actually call them as opposed to texting or video chatting.  

Don't know if this answer will help you but we have VOOM surf and stream on Oasis and were able to use our cell phones at sea to make calls.  LOL i was talking to our TA booking another cruise, our TA asked where we were because the call was crystal clear..She was shocked when i told here were on Oasis and just off the coast of Haiti.

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17 minutes ago, Mikeb1892 said:

Our boys will not be traveling with us on the ship.  We are wondering how we'll stay in contact with them while we are sailing and they are home.  If possible, we'd prefer to actually call them as opposed to texting or video chatting.  

When we cruise without our kids, we still use Whatsapp or Facetime to chat with them (while connected to VOOM).  You can do audio calls on both of those instead of video calls.  My daughter (who uses apple) also likes to use Google Hangouts to communicate with my husband (who owns an android).  That app allows for texting, audio and video chats as well.  What no one has mentioned yet is that if you book a GS on Anthem, you would get VOOM complimentary.  Another reason YOLO and book that GS!

 

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3 hours ago, Mikeb1892 said:

If possible, we'd prefer to actually call them as opposed to texting or video chatting.  

I was on the Anthem last April. My husband does not travel with me, and I call him every day. I bought the voom package. I was able to call him every day. The WiFi was very spotty with my iPhone, and it dropped the call often, but I did call. I also FaceTimed him a couple of times.

 

Once , the WiFi was so annoying I used minutes at sea.

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