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    Gastonia, NC
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    Reading, baking, traveling
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  1. N Statendam - 26-Dec-21 - 7 day Western Caribbean My husband & I are booked on the Nieuw Statendam for NYE. My parents are joining us, and we've invited my husband's family as well. Cruises are the best type of vacation with extended families. It's not our first HAL cruise, but it will be for our families. My parents have sailed on Carnival, Norwegian, & Viking. I think they'll really enjoy Holland.
  2. Caribbean
  3. They just renamed it. It's now the Billboard Onboard venue. The dueling pianos is quite entertaining.
  4. Based on what you like, I would recommend Celebrity over Holland. However, Holland is a great option over holiday or other busy weeks. The holiday cruises on HAL tend to have multi-generational groups, and the additional younger people onboard make for a fun cruise. I think the nightlife does still close down fairly early, but we find it works for us. We're in our 30's but we don't need to stay up super late every night. We enjoy meeting other guests at the bars and listening to the live music. Plus Holland has really good food and service.
  5. Does anyone know if both passengers in the cabin are required to upgrade? I'm more of a wine drinker than my husband, and I would enjoy having the upgrade to the Elite beverage package. We currently have the signature package with the Have It All promotion.
  6. As of this morning, reports state that the roads are clear and the locals are cleaning up the streets. Hopefully it stays calm. Definitely check local news before heading over to the French side if you visit in the next several weeks. I'm keeping my hopes up that we'll get to visit our favorite places on the French side next week (although I have a few spots on the Dutch side picked out as a back-up plan).
  7. I've seen people snorkeling at Happy Bay and at Orient Bay by the old Club Orient resort. To access Happy Bay, you'll park at Friar's Bay (two restaurants with chairs to rent), then hike about 10 minutes. There are no facilities on Happy Bay. On Orient Bay beach, you'll find many restaurants and bars. By the old Club Orient resort, there's a bar/grill, Perch Lite, and plenty of chairs to rent. Both of these beach areas will have nude sunbathers FYI, but the main portion of Orient is not nude.
  8. The protests are on the French side of the island. As of this morning, most of the roads had re-opened. The protesters had built barricades blocking the main road in several areas, but the police were able to clear most of the roads last night. This is a very fluid situation and changes by the day (or hour). Typically these type of protests in France last for a few days, then the police steps up their presence and the government works to a resolution. I would not worry about your port stop unless it's in the next week. We'll be there on 12/24 on the Celebrity Reflection. Since we vacation to St. Martin regularly, we have rented a car and planned to spend our day on the French side. Right now, I am paying close attention to the news on the island. If the roads aren't clear by 12/24, we'll stay on the Dutch side of the island, which does not have any protesters. Luckily, for those who would like to avoid the French side of the island, Philipsburg has a great beach and lots of shopping very close to the cruise port. The airport beach, Maho, is also on the Dutch side. There are also two zip-lines and many boating excursions right by the cruise port.
  9. We will be in St. Thomas on 12/23/19, and there will be 3 ships at Havensight, 2 at Crown Bay, and 1 at Cruz Bay (13,000+ passengers). We've only been to St. Thomas twice before, once for our wedding (so we didn't see any other part of the island) and last December. On our last visit we took the open air bus/taxi to Magens Bay, and we did not enjoy it at all. The beach was insanely crowded, like towel to towel with other people, even at the far end. We like beaches that aren't super crowded, but still have a bar, restaurant, or snack cart & restroom facilities. We're a couple in our 30's (no kids, no mobility issues). We're docking at Crown Bay. Which beach would you recommend in St. Thomas? Or should we go to St. John via taxi/ferry/taxi or book an excursion (not into snorkeling or driving tours)? We were originally thinking we'd do St. John, but the cruise ship "St. John on Your Own" excursion only has 2 hours actually in St. John. This is the only port stop of our cruise where I have no clue what to do.
  10. Celebrity does not offer dining packages or discounts on certain holiday cruises. We sailed on the Reflection last year for Christmas and are booked on it again for this Christmas. If you see the dining trio option, buy it! It's occasionally offered during a sale. It's definitely the best deal you'll get on specialty dining on these cruises. I'm happy to see that they at least are offering special menus to somewhat justify the crazy price increases. Last year the menus were normal but the prices were increased. It was weird, especially since we did cruises on both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so we had a recent comparison. On a normal/non-holiday cruise, we typically do specialty dining every night that we aren't in port, so we always buy the packages. For this Christmas cruise, we have the trio package and a reservation at Le Petit Chef, so that will cover 3 nights (we plan to use the package on Lawn Club Grill and Tuscan Grille). We'll do the 5-course menu with wine pairings at Murano if it's available and we're in port late in San Juan, so we'll only have 2 nights in the MDR or pay full price for the Porch and Sushi on Five.
  11. We were on the Reflection for Christmas in 2018. I used battery-powered LED string lights and magnetic hooks to decorate inside our cabin.
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