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About RockHoundTX

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Austin, TX
  • Interests
    Wood-working, gem and mineral collecting
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Carnival, Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Grand Cayman

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  1. I asked my wife. She said the steam room was only in the Spa and not attached to the gym/bathroom like it is on the Liberty.
  2. My wife loves going to the gym and steam room as well. Based on sailings last year, steam room on the Quantum class has a cost (but gym is open until 1AM). Compare that to the Liberty class where they are free (but gym closes at 11PM). Just our personal experience (but seen RCL change policies on things week-to-week so always have to ask).
  3. Been on the Liberty quite a few times (about 9 I think). Usually try to drop off the wife/kids and then park the car around 10:30-10:45. Line at that time takes anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 minutes depending on how quickly they are getting people through (or 2 hours for the one time that the computers broke down. aaaaugh). Most times get on the ship between 11:15 - 11:30 via the priority pre-board (add about 20-30 minutes if you don't have any status). I think they do periodic Coast Guard inspections but have never had one on Embark day (but did hear them say they were having one on one of the days we were leaving the ship). Sounds like this delays everything by about an hour. If it were me, I would still try to park about the same time (10:30-11:00). Most of the local parking spots don't like if you get there too much earlier than that since it interferes with the folks leaving. Worst case scenario is that you make it through security and just have to sit in the embarkation area for an extra hour. If they delay boarding until noon, then you can expect to be onboard between 12:30-1PM assuming you are not D+ or Key.
  4. Actually, I would be VERY surprised if there are only 100k cases in the US by this summer. It is basic math. For any given area (South Korea, Iran, Italy, Germany, US, etc.), the number of cases doubles at an average of every 4-5 days (easy enough to Google this since lots of website tracking the numbers from WHO and CDC). In the beginning, both China and Singapore also followed this trend but seem to have slowed it down due to draconian measures that likely would not work in the US. While it would be easy to point to China and say "but China only had 80k cases and they completely stopped it", if you read Chinese and are following non-filtered posts from China, it is easy to speculate that China likely under-reported its numbers by up to 10x (and they have absolutely NOT stopped it). Based on a doubling every 5 days (or even 7 days), you easily have 100k+ cases by May here in the US. There are also estimates from many leading "Education Health Experts" (Harvard, Hong Kong University, etc.) that 40%-80% of the world population could contract the virus within the next 18 months. With a population of 330 million in the US, that equates to 132 million cases (just not all at once) even at the lower estimate. R0 (the average number of people each person infects) varies from 2.6 to 6.7 depending on which scientific paper you read (and which outbreak is being examined by that paper). As a comparison, the common flu tends to have an R0 of 1.2 - 1.3 This is not social media hype, just basic math based on the numbers as provided by WHO, CDC, etc.. Of course, the R0 and doubling rates may change based on the actions taken by the government, but given the current statistical trend, things will likely get much worse before they get better. Most people just don't understand the power of compound doubling (goes back to the old question, "Would you rather have $1M now or $.01 that doubles every day for a month?" ). Safe travels.
  5. As previously mentioned, 300 seems to be the norm. However, I have seen other weights listed (I think it was either 250 or 275). Not sure why there was a difference. Regardless, there is no problem with 190. The size of the Pullman (and getting up and down) will be more an issue than weight.
  6. If I understand correctly, lets use the example of normally there would be $100 in a pool that goes to 10 people (so $10 each). Let's say on the next cruise there is only $90 in that pool since someone did not pay automatic gratuities. It is assumed that the cabin steward/waiter/what-ever of the person removed the automatic gratuities was paid by hand. Thus, the $90 is spread across 9 people (each still getting $10) and the one person is skipped. If that one person that was skipped was given a $20, then he is happy. However if he was given $0, then he somehow has to prove he was given $0 so that the pool is re-allocated (now everyone gets $9). That all being said, my personal belief based on my observations is that there is a list of people that have paid gratuities as of the last day of the cruise. If a person is on that list, then the cabin steward keeps the tip. If the person is not on the list, then the cabin steward is forced to turn in the money and it goes into the shared pool.
  7. To add another wrinkle to the discussion, here is a nearly direct quote from the MDR waiter on a recent 7-day cruise: "You will be getting a survey once we get pack to port. We hope our service was great and you give us a 10. Just realize that if you don't give us a 10, then both myself and my assistant waiter will be taking a pay-cut.". I couldn't believe that I heard him actually say that so asked him to repeat. He said the exact same thing again. On pretty much every cruise we get the "please give us a 10" speech but this was the first time to hear the "we take a pay-cut if you don't" part. Based on this, it seems like the amount paid to waitstaff via the credit-card paid gratuities (pre or post) is variable based on survey performance. That then brings up the question of "so where does the money go if it does not go to your waitstaff?". Is it re-pooled and goes to waitstaff that does get a 10? Goes to a larger pool for everyone? RCI keeps it? Just don't know.
  8. Yep. Exactly. Also, in the unlikely even that someone does ask the question "Are your parents aboard?", the correct response should be "I have appropriate supervision as per the GCP" (assuming you actually do have an adult on board that could be contacted) and then just walk away 😉 I doubt there would be many RCI employees that would push the issue at that point (assuming they even knew the wording the GCP to begin with).
  9. Yes. This is exactly the situation. You can leave your 10YO on the ship in AO but the 15YO has to be off the ship if the parents are. This is exactly why I found it so odd as well and made sure that this is truly what the policy meant (asked this exact question many times). What I posted in the origin post was the exact cut-n-paste from the e-mail from the office of the AVP of RCI Guest Services. While there is no problem with an "approved signer" such as yourself signing a child out on Sea days, I don't think you are technically allowed to sign them out on a Port day (but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen all the time). Funny enough, during the call with the RCI Director of Guest Services (reports directly to the AVP?), she originally categorically stated that "No minor is allowed to stay on the ship if under 18 without parents". She then gave the exact excuse of "What happens if you miss the ship if your kids are in AO?". I then told her I was absolutely certain she was wrong about this. She stated that she had been with RCI corporate for 9 years, had cruised several times with her minor daughter, and knew the rules. About 10 minutes later in the conversation she read me the exact policy where it CLEARLY stated that it is was acceptable for those from the age of 3-11 to be in AO when the parents on on-shore. She paused for a second and then stated "Oh. It looks like you are right.". So here is an example of a long-time RCI employee that absolutely should have known the rules that didn't. As for those that have stated that it is irresponsible for parents to leave those under 18 on-board because they are too immature, I find that very sad. I was in college living on my own when I was 17 (and had no problem driving half-way across the country by myself when I was 16). My wife left home to attend school across the country from her parents when she was 14. My son will be a sophomore in college next year, so if I can't trust him by now then there is a problem 😉 That being said, the point of my post was not to debate specific to my kids. I just wanted to pass on my experience so that others hopefully won't be shocked if they find themselves in the same situation.
  10. Yes, you are correct: now I know. As does everyone else reading this post. While my posts probably came across more as a rant, it truly was meant to educate other parents with Teens (or kids that will soon become Teens) who assumed, as I did, that it was A-OK for a Teen to be onboard without a parent (but with other supervision). At the very least, it provides a concrete answer from RCI on a question that regularly pops up here on CC (especially given that the standard CC answer to the question no longer seems to be correct). I am sure that more than a few parents (or grand-parents) will find my post relevant to their situation and decision making process. On this last cruise I believe there were 143 Teens on the ship and guess there is double to triple that during the Summer or on holidays. As such, this does potentially effect a lot of cruisers. Even though my kids are only 1 booked cruise short of Diamond on RCI at this point, I expect the next couple of cruises we book will be back with Carnival. Of course, what I would really like to see is RCI match Carnival's policy (I generally do like RCI ships more than Carnival). I would have no problem signing an indemnification form for my Teen just as I do for my pre-Teen. However, the only way that will happen is if RCI realizes they are losing business due to their current policy. I am sure they don't care about losing my business (or the small group of friends with Teens that we usually cruise with), but if they realized that this was materially hitting their bottom line, then they may look into it (but not holding my breath on that).
  11. I mentioned my daughter strictly as an example. You would think that if they would let a 10YO go back onboard without parents (and we were a little shocked when RCI Security at the tender said it was perfectly OK) then you would think a Teen was also OK. On that particular trip she went to the Windjammer to get a bite to eat and then checked herself into AO with no problems. Being that this was already her 5th or 6th time on this particular ship (and we had numerous adult friends that we were sailing with that were already on the ship), I had absolutely no qualms about her going back alone. Once she checks herself into AO, myself or my wife has to check her out on port days (perfectly understandable). At other ports with a pier, their were numerous times where my son and daughter re-boarded together with no problems (usually with a friendly wave to us from the Security staff). It was the selective enforcement of a policy that I truly thought we were in compliance with that irked me the most. My understanding (as well as many on this forum) was that grandparent/relative, adult friend, and/or Teen Club = "appropriate supervision". My guess is that there were somewhere in the neighborhood of about 30 Teens without parents at every port. Just in my son's group of friends, he did a quick poll afterwards and at least 6 of them were in the same situation (parents in port while they were on the ship). As for the interaction, it was somewhat as you described. When he went to check on his sister he was asked if the parents were back on-board yet. Of course he said "No. Don't think so. Why?" (he had no reason to lie and fully thought he was following policy). At this point the AO Staff gave him the ultimatum of "you can either sign yourself into AO or I will call Guest Services and Security to deal with you." Somewhat in shock as to the situation and not wanting to deal with Security, he begrudgingly agreed. They then put all his information on a separate form for those in AO that did not have parental consent (there were 2 other smaller kids in AO whose parents were on an excursion but had not been officially signed into AO via the parental consent form). To answer someone else's question, Yes, it is possible for kids to be in AO that were never signed up for AO (but I am sure this is something that RCI truly likes to avoid given the liability but since they actually had a form for this, it must be common). When I asked Guest Services why he was forced to sign himself into AO versus going back to the Teen Room to hang out, I was basically told "if he hurt himself, we could not provide medical care unless he signed himself in". I then asked "so if he trips over an 8YO in AO and breaks his arm, how are you going to provide medical treatment since there is no indemnification form for a Teen?", I just got a blank stare and a comment of "not sure. Had not thought of that.". I think that is truly the policy gap versus other cruise-lines (i.e., Carnival has indemnification forms for those up to 17 while on RCI it only goes up to 11).
  12. It completely depends on the ship. In my experience, the older/smaller ships had more pull-downs while the newer ships (Ovation of the Seas) rely on a pull-out/sofa-bed. In either case, be mindful of the size of your kids since the sofa-beds are a little small and the pull-downs have a weight limit.
  13. Yes, this has been viewed as acceptable in the past. Not sure that this a "new rule" as much as a re-interpretation by RCI Legal of an old rule. In the past, the general consensus of' "appropriate supervision" meant either being active in Youth Program or having a grand-parent/relative/other responsible adult being on-board. This no longer is the case based on my discussions with RCI over the last 2 weeks. Now "appropriate supervision" is specific to Parent or Legal Guardian. As for other cruise-lines, I can only speak for Carnival where it is explicitly stated that it is acceptable: "Leaving Children On Board While in Port If parent/guardian decide to leave their children in the care of the Youth Staff while in port, they can! "
  14. Yes, there have been several threads in the past where folks here specifically said it was perfectly acceptable. I had even talked to Security on a previous sailing where they said it was perfectly OK for my 10YO daughter to board a tender by her-self so she could return to the ship (she took the tender and then checked herself into Adventure Ocean). Since everyone at RCI had a different opinion of what the "policy" actually was, I wanted to get a definitive answer. It seems everyone had a different definition of "appropriate supervision". I took this all the way up to the AVP of Guest Services at RCI and that is where the above quote came from. the incident happened on Liberty of the Seas but this applies to all US sailings.
  15. Contrary to what has been stated many times on this board, Teens (12-17) are NOT allowed to remain on-board on port days without a Parent or Legal Guardian. Here is the exact wording I received today from RCI Corporate Guest Services: "Children from ages 3 – 11 years old will need to be signed into Adventure Ocean if the parents or legal guardians will be off the ship at the port of call. On the other hand, minors from 12 – 17 years old may not be left onboard without a parent or legal guardian. This applies to all ships under the Royal Caribbean International lines sailing within the United States." With over a dozen cruises under my belt with the family, I "thought" I knew the rules. Imagine the surprise when both my wife and myself were "red carded" coming back on the ship after an excursion and told "to immediately talk to Guest Services and Security". My Teen son had been verbally threatened by a Youth Program member and forced to sign himself into Adventure Ocean. Needless to say he was pretty mortified especially when his teen peers (whose parents were also not onboard) teased him for the rest of the cruise for "being put in jail" . Had he been acting up? Nope. Causing problems? Nope. Before going to Windjammer with the rest of the Teens, he merely walked from the Teen Room to Adventure Ocean to make sure that his little sister was OK and see if she needed anything (something he had done numerous times before since this was a B2B cruise and the 7th 7-day cruise on this particular ship). Since he was very well know by the Youth Staff, it seems one of the staff wanted to make a name for herself by "enforcing policy" as she understood it. Basically as the old saying goes, "No good deed goes unpunished" especially on RCI. I then spent the next 2 days on-board and then 2 weeks afterwards trying to figure out "why" this incident occurred and what rule/policy had been violated. About half the staff/officers I talked to onboard were just as surprised as I was relative to what happened. The comment "yeah. Teens on-board without parents is normal. No problem with that." or some variation was said multiple times. Some staff/customer service mentioned "policy" but not a single one could actually show me the policy. Ultimately, I was able to determine that it came down to the interpretation of the wording "appropriate supervision" in the Guest Conduct Policy. Being that my son was active in the Teen Club and we also had multiple adult friends onboard if something came up, I could not imagine that being anything other than "appropriate supervision". So asking the explicit question "so, you are saying that a 17 year old college student is not allowed to be on-board if their parents or legal guardian are on a port excursion?" and the definitive answer is now "Yes. While we won't randomly go looking for kids to ask them if their parents are onboard, if we do find out they are unsupervised, they will be detained.". As has already been discussed many times on this board (and confirmed on my calls), Legal Guardian does not mean grandparents, friends, etc. RCI basically has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy so while the chance of your Teen being "detained" is somewhat small, it can happen (as my wife and I unfortunately found out). If you are someone like us that try our best to follow the rules, then evidently RCI really does not want your business. I can't think of many activities LESS enjoyable than shopping with a disgruntled Teen who would rather be hanging out with his/her friends. The whole point as to why we have taken so many cruises is that we can all "do our own thing": my wife and I like to shop, my son likes to hang out with other Teens playing video games or dodge ball, and my daughter likes Adventure Ocean (but about to be a Teen as well). Now that it is no longer acceptable by RCI, I guess we will have to re-evaluate our vacation options. While I would have thought that RCI would truly want repeat Family Cruisers like us, guess that is not really the case.
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