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Zendeck

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Everything posted by Zendeck

  1. Manatees in Miami Port - so awesome...there were 3 of them and one appeared to be a baby attached the Mom
  2. Sorry I have no idea how to post.....these are so big but I'm tired and want to finish up. 2 Bedroom Aqua Theatre Room
  3. Kids Clubs Sorry but DCL clubs blow RCI clubs away. Size and creativity etc. Not a surprise really, but we were all really disappointed in the kids clubs in comparison to the Disney ones. My 15 yr old still had a blast making friends. My 11 year old would not go to his club and this was shocking, he’s been going to the cruise clubs since he was 5. I think the issue was that his age group was 9-11 (and because he has 2 older brothers, he acts older too so the other kids seemed young to him). ...he went one night and begged me to come get him. This has never happened and although I had great plans to enjoy the adult life on Symphony,,,,,we pretty much had our 11 year old with us every night. Favorite place My husband and I absolutely love Central Park. It is true what everyone says about not feeling like you are on a cruise ship and that there are 6,000 people with you,,,,,,,,,,,when in Central Park in the evening, it is romantic and wonderful. Favorite moment Watching my kids initial reactions to the wonderful Aqua Theatre room and deck,,,,priceless and keeping their happy expressions with me for a very long time!
  4. Yes thank you. I have followed a few of your reviews and feel like I know you and your family a bit. I also thought of you/your family when our Genie brought us into the corner suite on 17....I believe you stayed there in your last review and that suite is just amazing!!!! I really enjoy your reviews and .............how bout those Bruins?
  5. Excursions: I usually pre-book using Trip-Advisor and this time I also used Cruise Critic port reviews for some ideas. We are a very active family (much to my dismay) but I have strategically learned to book activities located at beach clubs so it’s a win/win for parents and kids. During our last 6 cruises we’ve done pretty much every activity however there were 2 owes’ies for this trip,,,,,I owed my youngest a chance to Parasail and to ride the bigger slides at Atlantis (at age 5 and 6 he was turned down at the top!) He was too young when we previously did those excursions. Keeping that in mind, I chose the following: St. Kitts (was a first for us) – I had read great things about Carambola Beach Club and I read on Trip Advisor to reserve online to avoid issues. So I reserved 4 chairs for 11:00 a.m. I also reserved Parasailing located at that same beach through St. Kitts Watersports at noon. It was perfectly convenient and the 2 guys that took us out were fantastic! After our parasailing adventure, the boys then spent hours snorkeling over in the cove (of which I had read was great). It was true, they saw barracuda, squid’s, and tons of colorful fish! All while my pasty Irish skin got burned on my peaceful beach chair. It was a perfect day! We had cabbed it each way and had a nice lunch on the beach. St. Thomas – We had done the turtle snorkeling the last time at St. Thomas and last year we had upgraded to Snuba in Cozumel so we tried it again on St. Thomas. We did not elect the Ship Snuba excursion at Coral rather we did a private one and greatly enjoyed it. VI Scuba Excursions. We cabbed it each way. Nassau – It killed me to have to do Atlantis given the short time frame we would be in Nassau. But I promised my youngest to do those water slides that he previously could not do so we were going to make this happen. When we originally booked the cruise, we were going to be at Nassau for a full day. So I booked a room at the Comfort Suites across from Atlantis so I could get the 4 passes at a cheaper rate. However, when RCL went and changed the Nassau hours and the Atlantis excursion changed to a half day price, I compared to my rate and it still ended up being a viable option,,,I think my price was still slightly under the ship’s half day price,,,,and I liked the idea of us cabbing on our own vs. the ship excursion shuttle that would certainly take longer each way. From reading the boards, I did see that we had more time at the park so I’m glad I stuck with my plan. I would recommend all the above excursions and can provide more information if anyone would like details.
  6. Shows and Food: There are so many reviews on these topics so unlike my other details, I promise to keep this one brief. The Shows were of Broadway Caliber, entertaining, touching and I was amazed at the overall talent. There was one women performer who performed solos in both Hairspray and Flight and her voice was OUTSTANDING! We also loved HIRO and watched from our balcony a few times. We dined in the specialty restaurants each night and they were good, but not great. We live and work in a metropolitan city with great restaurants, so we don’t have high expectations for dining on cruise ships. However, this is where I will say that Disney servers were better RCL specialty. We didn’t realize it at the time, but after we got home, we discussed how at the end of the week, we felt like we went to 7 different restaurants and did not get to know any of our servers. On DCL we learned about our server’s children back home and they learned a bit about our lives. I’m thinking that we would have experienced this in the Main Dining room at RCL but we did not at all in the specialty restaurants. Funny story, for those that diet pre-cruise and go months and months eating salads and water…………my husband and I recall our favorite meal was our Nacho’s and beer at Playmakers!!!!! That’s not to say the filet at Chops was not wonderful, or the Pasta was not perfectly prepared at Jaimie’s…..you know exactly what we are saying here,,,, we deprived ourselves and needed Nachos!! LOL
  7. Overall STAR / Genie Experience: I’ll start by saying we absolutely LOVED the STAR class perks and prestige. We obviously enjoyed having a Genie too and she was fantastic. However, honestly, we are not a family that needs the sort of service that the Genie’s provide,,,,it was a bit strange for us. We spoke to another STAR family and they said you get used to it,,,,but unless we win future Royal Up Bid’s…..this was a one and done experience for us. That said, I’ll share our experience for those that may be interested. STAR Class gets special service from the moment you step foot at the port. You tell the luggage guys that you are STAR and they bring your luggage with you over to the special STAR podium / entrance. They took us up on a special elevator with the luggage and we entered the special lounge (I assume the lounge was for Suite people too but I can’t be sure, it was only us and another STAR family). They had us sit, gave us drinks and snacks and did all the check in duties while we sat on the couches. Our Genie came and brought us onto the ship immediately. I’ve read that there were delays that day due to port sanitation procedures, but we went straight onto the ship early and up to the 8th floor Aqua Theatre 2 bedroom suite. Now at the risk of sounding sappy, my eyes filled up with tears as did my boys and maybe even my hubby. We really were in shock at the size of the room and it was the balcony that had us all in happy tears. I even took a moment to myself to walk away and Thank God because I felt the need to say a little prayer and thank someone for this incredible gift that we had received. We met our room attendant and he was like family from day 1. He and our Genie explained the process that they would keep the refrigerator fully stocked (DC / me, Sprite / middle guy, lemonade / youngest, and lots of beer for Dad). Champagne was on ice at all times and choc covered strawberries, charcuterie boards, chips and salsa/guac, cookies and milk for the boys,,,,,and you get the picture,,,,the room was always stocked! The boys were in heaven having their own room AND having WI-FI. I did not love this perk. We never paid for wi-fi on DCL and I loved that the boys were actually ‘present’ for the week. This week, I did find that they were in touch with friends from home and I didn’t appreciate hearing things like these friends are doing this or that at the mall or movies etc. ………….really? you are in a STAR Suite cruising to tropical islands with a GENIE!!! Anyway, obviously if WI-FI is free with suite level, I’ll take it, but I wouldn’t pay for it because it’s better without! GENIE’s schedule all your specialty dining and show up at the beginning of your dinner each night. They schedule all of your shows and reserve the best seats and actually hold them until you get there and then they get the server to bring a quick drink. They also schedule and/or bring the kids to the activities that have long lines and get them priority access (Lazer tag, surfing, ziplining, escape room, rock climbing, bridge tours, galley tours, etc.). I could write a case study on the treatment received WITH and without flashing the STAR Class Purple Card. I loved it but was disturbed by it at the same time. GENIE’s will also assist with excursions, but I had all of them booked (much to the dismay of my GENIE). But she helped us hail cabs as we were off to our excursions! LOL. We kept in touch through ‘Messenger’ and we pretty much were self-sufficient, but I do confess a night that I messaged her requesting that she send a hot dog and fries to my youngest who was watching a movie out on our deck while hubby and I were at the pub. See…it does change you!!! Finally, on the last day, the GENIE escorts you off the ship after a wonderful breakfast. Ours actually showed us some of the other high end rooms that were being cleaned …all I can say is AMAZING. I’m happy to answer any questions on this. I recommend you research and get comfortable with it prior to experiencing it. I think we finally felt comfortable asking for things by the last night! LOL
  8. I used a travel agent.....just found it online,,,,same price as RCL but gave us a nice onboard credit. Had done the same approach over the years with DCL.
  9. Refund and Tipping: After I calmed down and began to breathe again upon notification that I had won the Bid to Star Class 2 bedroom suite, my fiscal instincts kicked in and I realized that I wasn’t sure if it was too late to cancel and get refunds. (again something I learned on the boards!) I went into My Planner and I began canceling my purchases made pre-cruise (adult drink pkg’s, kids refreshment pkg’s, and BOGO). Much to my surprise it was letting me do so and I received refund confirmation messages. I even ended up getting a refund for the Sushi class which I didn’t request a refund for because I didn’t think the class would be included as STAR but it was removed from my final charges on the ship at the end of the week (Genie magic maybe?). One point of interest to share, and risking invoking heated debates,,,,but best to tell all to help others be more prepare than I......I did request a refund on the daily mandatory Tips so I could allocate my tips differently due to Genie and specialty restaurants. What's unique about STAR class is that gratuities are included. I suppose that is because normally the price of such a room warrants the ‘gratuities included’ policy and I’ll assume that STAR class also can afford to still pay fabulous tips. My Genie was not sure and said that is the one perk that we don't receive with the upgrade. So before I could even remind myself that this was a blessed gift and I have no right to challenge anything because it was sort of free........I asked her to chat with management because I felt it was double dipping. (I know even I am thinking how ungrateful I sounded!) LOL. But it was double dipping if I paid the mandatory for dining room AND paid Genie AND Specialty etc. My thought process at the end of the week was that of course I would pay the tip for the Genie (we went with advice on CC @ 100 per head so 400) and we paid our room attendant 200 – I think that I should have paid more in retrospect...he truly was amazing. We also paid 40 each night for specialty dining (figured about 20% per meal?). So in total we were at just about 900 in total for tips. Given that the mandatory for our family would have been just under 500, I felt that both formats of tipping was double dipping and I really wanted our Genie to get the funds vs. the main dining room of which we never stepped into. Well, I am grateful that our Genie was able to remove the mandatory 500 so we then were able to tip her the 400 directly and our room attendant 200 and our specialty servers and bartenders directly so approx. total of 900. Honestly I don’t think RCL has considered this yet with the bids involving a STAR class upgrade. Tipping is so stressful, I like for them to just take it out of my account and then we feel good about paying a bit more for special service. This upgrade and not having researched Genie tipping was stressful to figure out appropriate tipping!
  10. So many 1st for our family: RCL, Symphony (4/13-4/20/19), Miami, Aqua Theatre Suite, Last minute bid up to Star level with Genie! We are a family of 5, Mom and Dad that both work stressful full time jobs in order to take our 3 boys (18, 15, 11) on wonderful vacations each year. This was the year of many 1st!** For the past 6 years we have cruised on Disney Cruise Lines-DCL out of Port Canaveral and we absolutely loved cruising as a family but last year we all agreed it was time for something new. The only negative 1st is that my oldest would not be traveling with us on the Symphony this year, but hopefully he will be able to make it next year for our Mediterranean cruise on Allure. The remaining 1st are all positive………. **I became a cruise critic stalker and learned everything I could about the RCL way (thank you and you know who you all are!). **I booked the Symphony of the Seas last April 2018 for April 2019 school vacation. **I booked Suite class,,,,never could afford it on DCL and my husband was not completely sold on the 6,000 friends that we would be sailing with so I figured Suite level would give us the option of hanging with less friends should it be too much for him. **I booked the one bedroom Aqua Theatre Suite,,,,I’m thinking that folks don’t want others to know how awesome those suites are because I didn’t read many positive reviews……FYI- they are awesome unless you don’t like lounging out on a huge deck that provides both privacy and entertainment? Last but by no means not least,,,,,,,,**I did this crazy ‘bid up’ thing that everyone was chatting about on the boards….what the heck, I want to play,,,,,but it won’t happen for us, we are the family that misses ships due to Noreaster’s shutting down the whole Northeast, or misses flights due to having liquid medicine for a 5 year old that needed packed ice but the ice was melted from the ships fridge so now appeared to be something that could be used to make a bomb which caused us to get delayed in a very special security line, or has a kid that breaks bones prior to family vacations (the collarbone was the most challenging vacation!)…..real stuff here folks! Anyway, we always manage around these obstacles and we’ve got great character 😉 because of them. My point being that when **I received the email on Thursday prior to our cruise departure on Saturday that we were being upgraded to the 2 bedroom Aqua Theatre -Star Level Suite that includes a bleeping Genie……I seriously couldn’t stop the giddiness and had to try to maintain some level of professionalism for the remainder of that work day! Seriously folks, remember we are newbies here, I spent the last year taking tips from you all on purchasing drink pkg on Black Friday (check),,,,,,purchasing BOGO so we could experience the fine dining (check),,,,,,,,,,booking Coastal Kitchen every night with my Concierge just in case because it’s easier to cancel if we don’t want it (check),,,,,,,,booking all the shows as soon as possible (check),,,,,,,,,,,booking this great sushi making class that got great reviews on the CC boards (check),,,,,,,,,,,and well I didn’t use you all for excursions as I did learn a thing or two from the Disney Boards over the years so I had all my private excursions booked too! So now I have a Genie that I know very little about and I have to do some quick maneuvering to see if I actually can get a refund on my purchases that if I understood correctly are now INCLUDED!
  11. I highly recommend the 'goportcanaveral.com' transportation. The prior 6 years of doing DCL, we have used private transportation from Hyatt Hotel at MCO (liked but expensive), rented a car and dropped off near port and shuttle over (only did the years we were coming from Disney parks prior to cruise) and DCL bus right from airport (easy peasy but expensive). The final year we hit the jackpot with the 'goportcanaveral' bus. Ironically it is parked right next to the DCL bus and just as nice but so much cheaper. I think they also provide a ride and stay option too....my co-worker recently did that approach and recommends. Have fun!!!
  12. Completely agree.... earlier arrival makes sense. sorry I didn’t get to meet you as a fellow new englander! Did the meet and greet happen? I missed if it did.
  13. Well.... originally my approach was a great deal when we had a full day at Nassau.... but when the itinerary changed to a half day my value decreased ...however knowing from experience the value of grabbing a quick cab on our own.... I kept my deal. We book a room at comfort suites and check in and out at the same time. It is much cheaper than the full day ship excursion. Only works with 4... in the past we were 5 and did the Disney ship excursion and overpaid. I considered canceling my rate when RC changed to the half day price but my pkg was still just below the ship excursion rate and we could cab on our terms. As I indicated, we had to do for my youngest to do slides that he was previously to little for so we had to do Atlantis one last time. I would not recommend the Atlantis excursion to anyone as it is being sold now as a half day..... the park is to big and crowded for such a short day. I still don’t fully get why symphony’s timeslot at Nassau is only 10:30-3:30.
  14. The tipping process is very confusing with specialty dining.....we tipped $40 for our family of 4 each night. We didn’t know what the rules were and felt that seemed right.
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