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JulieMcCoy

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  1. We attended the first night of our Jan. 13, 2019, cruise, and all went as scheduled.
  2. You don't need to take your passport at most Caribbean ports - just ship's card and driver's license. Whether I'm at the beach or the ship's pool, I get a chair close to the water (easier to do when you just need one chair), and keep an eye on my chair while I'm in the water. No, I probably couldn't hop out fast enough to tackle a thief, but it feels safe enough to me. At the ship's pool, the only valuable I have is my phone, which I use to take photos, and it is password-protected. At the beach, I also have ID, a credit card, and small amount of cash. Not enough to worry about securing.
  3. I have cruised solo once, on Carnival, and cruised on Royal Caribbean's Allure in January with my adult daughter. I loved both cruises! I can't think of anything I would have done differently on my January cruise if I had been solo. As a solo cruiser it's easier to find a deck chair by the pool for one person than for two or more. Likewise for a seat in a crowded theater or comedy club. On my solo cruise, I asked for a large table and was seated with three couples and another solo traveler, and I enjoyed our dinner conversations. However, on the first night, I was prepared in case I ended up at a table by myself - I synced my iPad with my phone and discreetly put the phone in my purse so I could read my book if I was dining alone. P.S. RCI allows you to bring one bottle of wine per passenger on board with you the first day in your carry-on bag.
  4. If you work with an experienced tour operator, they will know the ship's schedule and make sure you get back in time; watch out for differences, if any, in ship's time vs. local time. For our recent excursion with Captain Bob in St. Maarten, I was confused about times until I had an email conversation with Capt. Bob, and then I felt confident that he would get us back to the ship on time (and that was for an all-day boat tour far from the cruise pier). My experience in most ports has been that, if you are near the cruise pier, you walk to the taxi area, tell them how many people you have, and they arrange your ride. Regarding a food tour, we did one in San Juan last month, and it would have been appropriate and fun for kids who are willing to try new foods. We had one alcoholic beverage, but a non-alcoholic option was available. We got to see local sights in between stops - fun for everyone. At one stop, we were served the pre-cooked ingredients for a local dish and used a mortar and pestle to finish the preparation - hands-on fun. I think food tours can be fun for the whole family!
  5. On our Allure trip in January, the beverage package was not on our set sail pass. However, it was linked in our account, and we easily ordered drinks (at no charge) before we could get our "real" cards from our room.
  6. Yes, the ship is the destination! Research your Bahamas port(s), and you will find plenty to do that you will enjoy. Frequent cruisers become jaded about any port they have been to frequently. We stay on the ship now in Nassau because we have been there many times. But on previous stops in Nassau, we have enjoyed a beautiful beach with waves, shopping, and tours of historic sites.
  7. They used our preloaded pics for our Jan. 13 Allure cruise from Miami. Very easy. We watched a nearby family having photos taken - took them much longer than for us.
  8. I can't speak to the Princess photo package, but adding to what Skleeb said, I ended up with a surprising number of photos on my own camera when I cruised solo. When I wanted a photo of myself in front of a landmark or whatever, I looked for a group of people who wanted a photo and offered to take a photo of their entire group if they would then take a photo of me. 22-day Med cruise sounds awesome! One thing to think about would be how much of your time will be spent on shore, where ship's photographers will not be present.
  9. I suggest avoiding ships that offer a lot of specialty-dining venues. I just traveled on RCI's Allure of the Seas, which is a very large ship with five or so specialty restaurants, in addition to the main dining room. Because so many people spend several nights dining in the specialty restaurants, tables during traditional seating in the main dining room often have empty seats. My daughter and I had asked to be seated at a large table so we could enjoy the company of others as well, but two seats were empty each night at our table for six.
  10. I'm late to this party, but I'm glad you chose the Disney cruise! I have cruised solo once (on Carnival) and loved it, and I have cruised four times on Disney and loved it every time. My family has always been big into Disney, but my daughter was already a teenager the first time we cruised, and our last Disney cruise totaled nine adults, no kids. Things I love about Disney cruises: -DCL does a great job of keeping the adults-only areas adults-only. Our pool time was spent with zero kids in view. -DCL has that same Disney can-do service attitude. -Entertainment is better quality than on other mass-market lines I've been on (although you'd better like Disney!). I had my choice of things to do during the day without watching a hairy-chest contest. Quest (which I believe originated on Royal Caribbean) was most definitely an adult-only event, and quite hilarious. -Love DCL's themed restaurants and rotational dining. -If you're going to Castaway Cay, it's a wonderful private island, with an adults-only beach if you would like that option. Enjoy your trip!
  11. People on Cruise Critic were very helpful in answering my questions before last week’s cruise, so I’m posting a brief recap (sorry, no pics) in case the info will be helpful to someone else. My 31-year-old daughter and I were on the Jan. 13 Allure of the Seas cruise from Miami, traveling to St. Maarten, San Juan and Labadee. We figured out that this was our eighth cruise – we’ve done four Disney cruises, one previous RCI cruise together, one Carnival cruise together, and she did another RCI cruise while I did another Carnival one. Precruise: We flew into Fort Lauderdale (much cheaper airfare) and took an Uber to Miami. Spent the precruise evening in Wynwood, checking out Wynwood Walls graffiti art, craft cocktails at Beaker & Gray, and then outdoor drinks and food truck food at Wynwood Yard (which is moving this spring to a new location). Great atmosphere for enjoying nice Miami weather. Embarkation: Super easy, thanks to the staff with the iPads – no waiting in line at counters. The photos we submitted online were accepted – woo hoo! We were onboard shortly after 11. Stateroom: We had an outside-view stateroom, #9503 on deck 9, starboard. Nice big window, plenty of storage space, although my daughter’s shoes did overflow the closet. Our air conditioning worked very well, and we never even turned it to max. Dinners: We ate all our dinners in the main dining room and were pleased with most meals. LOVED the warm chocolate cookie and ice cream dessert, which was more like a lava cake and very filling. Great opportunity for my daughter to try escargot at no risk, and she liked it. All our pre-cruise paperwork showed our requested late seating for dinner, but our seapass cards indicated my-time dining. After the first night, they were able to switch us to late seating, and we dined with a very nice couple each night after that. Our table was on Deck 4, the same as the casino. The restaurant itself did not smell of smoke from the casino, but the outside waiting area did. Other meals: Embarkation day was the only time we ate in the Windjammer. Our stateroom was forward, and we hung out by the main or beach pool during sea days, so I tended to eat breakfast/lunch in the solarium or Park Café. We had room-service coffee most mornings and continental breakfast on a few. We loved Sorrento’s pizza – nice and cheesy! On the last morning, we had a late flight and opted for the Promenade Café, which stayed open the latest; we were disappointed by the menu of coffee and a just a few pastries. Pools: We never had a problem finding two lounge chairs mid-morning, although sometimes we were farther from the pool than others. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the main pool was freshwater. Lots of people in the pools; we laughed at the signs stating the capacity, since way more people than that were usually in the water. We had fabulous sunny weather on the three sea days. I love hot tubs but only went in twice; the temperatures were more lukewarm than hot. Entertainment: We loved Mama Mia (got the Boleros bartender to fill my RCI-provided mug with rum and Coke so I had enough to last until intermission, then popped back out to Boleros for a refill and got back before the second half started). Impressed by Oceanaria (very windy; glad we had sweaters). Enjoyed the comedians. Quest – a fun time, as always. Other evenings after dinner, we went to karaoke several times (yeah, we are the gutless lurkers, enjoying the efforts of others who are brave or talented enough to sing). One night (the night of the warm chocolate cookie, I think) we were too full and tired and went to bed after dinner. Drinks: We had the deluxe beverage package, and it was definitely worthwhile for us (we paid $42 per person per day plus gratuity; I think I booked, canceled and rebooked three or four times as the price changed), considering alcoholic drinks spread throughout the day as well as bottled water and an occasional soda. We usually tipped an extra dollar a drink in cash when we ordered; we found servers to be attentive and rarely had to sign a paper slip. After the first night, our assistant waiter at dinner always brought us each a second glass of wine when the first one was getting low – no prompting needed. I appreciated this since on my last cruise, on Carnival, I never was able to get a second glass with dinner. We never were asked to sign paper slips at dinner, so I made sure to tip extra, based on all those glasses of wine, on the last night (in addition to the auto gratuities). On our last night, our tablemates generously ordered a bottle of wine for the table, and we appreciated the opportunity to try a wine that was only available by the bottle. Bars: We had at least one drink in most of the bars on the ship (hmmm, what does this say about us?). Enjoyed martinis (chocolate martini, mmmm) at the Champagne Bar, drinks during trivia at the Schooner Bar (we knew it as the bar that we tended to leave by those odd back stairs that go down to deck 5), drinks during karaoke at On Air, sitting outdoors in the evening without wind at the Central Park bars (loved the atmosphere of Central Park), margaritas and mojitos at Sabor, etc. We brought a travel cribbage set and often played while having drinks before dinner. We “rode” the Rising Tide Bar once – cute gimmick. The large group: There had been some Cruise Critic discussion ahead of time about the large group (a Jewish music festival) that had reportedly booked about a fourth of the staterooms and whether this might disrupt our onboard experience. I did not notice any disruption or lack of venues available for us non-group cruisers. The Wipe Out Café served kosher but was open to everyone, and I enjoyed my kosher French fries. One night, two of the festival’s professional singers sang Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during karaoke, and their voices were amazing – a nice bonus for those of us who were not attending the festival. Ports: In St. Maarten, we took a speedboat tour with Captain Bob (Souaglia tours, see my review https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2626289-loved-captain-bobs-boat-tour/?tab=comments#comment-56610055) and loved it! It was great to see a lot of the island without being in a van, plus fun snorkeling. In San Juan, we did a food tour with Flavors of San Juan – also a fun way to see some of the sights of Old San Juan while enjoying lots of local dishes. We were very full by the time we got back on the ship (but that didn’t stop us from getting those kosher fries and a few beers while we watched flowrider activity). At Labadee, we weren’t sure where to go, so we told a chair attendant we wanted loungers in the sun and he carried them over for us. We enjoyed having more space – loungers are VERY close together around the ship’s pools. I don’t know which beach we were at, but the water was wonderful, with a sandy bottom. The zipline went above us. Disembarkation: Also pretty easy, especially the facial recognition processing – no need to get out our passports. There was a separate line for people with birth certificates; not sure how things went over there. Outside of Terminal A, it was difficult getting through the mob of people down to where SAS Transportation was picking us up. Too many people were standing wherever they wanted, without leaving room for others to walk down the sidewalk. Be conscious of what’s going on around you! And now we’re back home, in the snow…sigh. Good memories!
  12. I was on the Allure last week and did not notice a difference (and I was pleasantly surprised to see lots of people in nice formal attire). Since I had brought one dressy outfit with slacks and one dress, I chose to wear the dress on the second formal night, when my legs had more color from the sun!
  13. Carolina Girl 99, it was just water, soda and beer, so plan on some rum punch after your get back!
  14. We did Captain Bob's speedboat tour (Souaglia Tours) on the day our cruise ship was in St. Maarten - loved it! Email communication in advance of the trip was easy to confirm times and other info. Short walk from ship to dock - easy to find. The boat was fast and fun, and we traveled most of the way around the island. We stopped twice to snorkel (turtles! fish!) and three times at beaches to swim, float with a drink in hand or wander the sand. We also cruised through the marina where some of the world's largest yachts were anchored, and ended up off Maho Beach, timed so we saw several planes land over our heads. Lunch and drinks were provided on the boat.I had looked through all the cruise line's excursions and wasn't excited by any of them. Then I found Captain Bob's tour! After reading reviews and emailing with Captain Bob, I felt confident that his people would make sure we got back to the ship in time - and we did, with plenty of time to spare. There were people on our boat from at least two ships, as well as people on land vacations, and our captain (Bob's son) knew everyone's schedules.We had loads of fun, with music playing and plenty of joking, but I could tell that safety was important to these guys as well. They were patient with the kids and other folks who needed extra help with snorkel gear or anything else. I highly recommend Captain Bob's tours!
  15. Hmmm, sounds like my best bet may be to carry a drink in with me and then be pleasantly surprised if we also can take advantage of service while seated.
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