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About Me

  • Location
    San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Interests
    Travelling, politics, camping/fishing, knitting, sewing, taxes, mediation, reading, dancing, baking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    West Coast or Mediterranean

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  1. Ramon was one of our waiters too! Do you have Alberto as well? If so tell him Danielle Jonathan and Daphne from the last cruise (we had the little redheaded daughter) said "hi" and we miss them! Same for Giovanni. He called our daughter "Capelli Rossi". Giovanni makes the best "special" dishes. 🙂 Anyway, Alberto was the one who brought us the info on the wine package. The card still lists the silver. I took a picture of it. But Alberto explained that the Silver package was actually no longer available, and that they'd be coming out with something new soon (but there was no word when yet). He said the new program should have tiers, but for now only Gold was available. We didn't end up purchasing.
  2. We got on the Grand on 7/25. We arrived at the port at 10am. They didn't open the port for oncoming guests until 10:30 am. They did not start boarding until 11 am. So we had a little bit of a wait (but it was pleasant). Once boarding began, we were the second family on the ship. There were no lines that early either. 🙂
  3. My waiter in Club Class on the Grand last week specifically said the Silver package had been discontinued, and that at some point both packages are set to be replaced. Only the Gold was available. Weird that you're finding the Silver available on the sailing right after ours...
  4. Still never saw a blower. But on our very last night we finally witnessed a leak! We saw a single drip from the ceiling in the photo gallery area. No buckets or obvious wet spots. May have just started. Otherwise the ship appeared to be in very good shape from our experience.
  5. We had an escort on embarkation day, and they seemed a bit confused about the location of our cabin too. Even though we boarded on Deck 6, he took us in the elevator to deck 7. Our room wasn't ready yet anyway, but we did have to go back down to 6 for the MDR lunch. 🙂
  6. We just wrapped up our first cruise in a suite (Window Suite). It was amazing, and I definitely hope to do it again. But it's expensive, and we used a boatload of credit card points to pay for half of the cost. As much as I'd love to only sail suites, next time I expect will be in an Oceanview (probably obstructed) or maybe a balcony if we're feeling spendy. We can technically afford a suite on its own, but we prefer stretching our vacation dollars to take other trips too. My favorite perk was the suite breakfast, and that's going to dearly missed next time. Club Class was also great since we had a wonderful Head Waiter who made some really awesome specials. We enjoyed many of the other benefits too, but all stuff we can live without. That said, outside the exclusive breakfast, most of the other exclusive things were also available for elite passengers (and sometimes platinum, which we'll be on our next cruise). I like that we weren't segregated from the general passengers for most things. It's great to mingle with people without needing to concern yourself with status, or what kind of cabin you're in, etc. We talked with lots of people, and the kind of cabin we were staying in wasn't a topic of conversation. But I do think there's value to discussing it on here. All of the suite discussions helped me learn to maximize our experience. Plus I had no clue what the Window Suites were until I saw them discussed here. It's a special experience for most people, who only get to do it once or twice, and they should have access to the information on how to enjoy it fully. Likewise, I love reading experiences from people staying in other categories, and how they maximized their experience. I've learned about non-obstructed Obstructed Oceanview rooms. Or deeper Caribe balconies. Or how guarantees work. All things we've taken great advantage of. And I'm thankful to be able to learn from others!
  7. Very few passengers even know about the hallway to the Window Suites. We never saw anyone in that hall other than crew and other Window Suite guests. The door adjacent to the Guest Services desk is always closed, and is unmarked. It looks like it could be a crew door or something. A few times we popped out, and people looked at us oddly. We never saw the doors propped open. But I would imagine it would have been done either by a crew member or Window Suite guest. You can easily close it. And I heard of someone on a prior sailing that requested that it be kept closed by staff, because it had been propped open, and it was no longer an issue. Honestly, given our experience, I wouldn't worry about the smoke at all. You'll get worse if you're passing by or standing at the Guest Services desk.
  8. I tend to get devoured by mosquitoes too, more than most people. My daughter got one little bite, that went away quickly. I react heavily to bites, and it takes a couple of weeks for them to fully clear. My husband got no bites. And I didn't hear anyone else complain of bites. I only got bitten through my jeans (I'm guessing the weave was just loose enough for them to slip their mouth through, and they were tight jeans against the skin). No bites on exposed areas where I put the citronella oil they gave us. Mosquitoes can be an issue anywhere in Alaska, so don't let that deter you from doing this excursion. It was awesome, and I highly recommend it!
  9. Juneau was listed as a tender port prior to sailing (at least I definitely recall seeing that, though I spoke to many passengers who said they did not see that before the cruise). But I've tendered elsewhere before, and never experienced such a mess. We did have priority tender tickets, but A) it was all the same line, and since we had an early shore excursion the suite tickets wouldn't have garnered any priority over that. They only would have been useful if we were doing the port on our own. But having been through that, I won't book an independent excursion for a tender port that departs in the first hour or two of arriving. Especially if we're not in a suite. I hope you have an amazing time! We'll be that sad family of 3 being dragged off the ship kicking and screaming that we don't want to go home. 🙂
  10. We've used the tub twice. Neither time did we experience brown water from the faucet. My husband did note a little bit of "oily" brown film on top of the water the first time. But he thought it may have come from the bath salts. When we used the tub the second time there was nothing (but we didn't use the salts). As for smoke, it has not been much of an issue. There's a bit in the main hall between the casino and Snookers. But the fire door right in front of our stateroom door has been closed the entire time, and there's been little to no smell in the "secret hall" for the Window Suites, or in our room. My husband is super sensitive to smoke, and if anyone would complain it's him, and he hasn't been bothered by it. He did say he smelled it a tiny bit in our room on like the 2nd day, but not since. There's zero noise from the casino. Even the "secret hall" is totally quiet. The only noise we've experienced is one morning when someone with heels clomped along the Promenade at 7 am. Otherwise, we haven't even really noticed walkers or joggers up there (or at least it hasn't been enough to catch our attention).
  11. It is AMAZING... No. Wait. It's terrible. Horrible. Don't ever book it (unless I'm not going to be using it). Even though we have the smallest Window Suite (F301) it has been really great. We've seen inside the other Window Suites, and they do feel more spacious. But I have zero regrets booking this one (it was the only one left), and would totally do it again. We love the "secret passage" hallway, the smoke hasn't been too bad (and my husband is pretty sensitive to smoke), and there's an amazing amount of storage.
  12. I'm using it right now. 🙂 We're heading to Victoria. We only got the Surf package - so no streaming. The connection is fine enough for our needs. We have mostly been checking emails (including one with pictures that my husband needs to check periodically), Googling something, managing a couple bills, or (in my case) posting to Cruise Critic. 🙂 I have not bothered trying to post to social media (e.g. Facebook) or uploading pictures anywhere. There have been a few times where the wifi seemed to be down. But usually if I checked back a little later it was working again. Not sure whether it works in port since we switched to our cell service there.
  13. It's now Thursday, and the sea day before Victoria. We've had a lovely but busy last few days. Monday was Hubbard Glacier. The weather was clear and we got in nice and close. The boat excursion offered went out (we weren't on it) and it got right up on the glacier. I'll share pics later. The ship pulled in and spun around for a couple of hours before departing. We had dinner in Crown Grille that night, and it was excellent. Although we decided we like Sabatini's more (which I didn't expect, since my husband is a big steak guy). My daughter was being fussy about what she ate, and the waiter very kindly brought her some fried shrimp from the seabass dish, and fetched a Caesar salad from the MDR. It was sort of weird eating dinner in there with a bunch of people, since we've gotten used to our quiet suite breakfasts in there. 🙂 Next day was Haines. Again, perfect weather. And what a picturesque little town! This little collection of buildings nestled between a dramatic display of mountains on every side. I loved it from the moment we pulled in. The town is small and easily walkable, so we explored a bit before meeting our tour. We were the only ship here, so it didn't feel crowded either. I'm so glad we didn't opt for an excursion in Skagway. Instead we did the Kroeschel Wildlife Refuge. Awesome tour! Really quirky staff. I'm not sure how much was an act, and how much was just how weird they actually are. But I'd venture it's a little of both. Still, it was an awesome experience. The only downside is the mosquitoes (it's near "Mosquito Lake"). They gave us some citronella oil that worked a treat on our skin. But unfortunately for me those little buggers snacked on me 7 times through my jeans! There driver was also great, and gave us a ton of great information on the area on both the drive there/back. Ketchikan was yesterday. We arrived around 11:30 am. Before we docked we did the Escape Room. I won't spoil it, but everything you need is contained in a large trunk. We did it in the chapel room. Finished with a little more than 8 minutes to spare (you get 30 minutes). It was fun! We had nothing planned for Ketchikan, so just wandered around and explored. We had lunch at Annabelle's, and it was good, but nothing phenomenal. We also did the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and got my daughter a Junior Ranger patch. We also watched seals catching fish along Creek Street. There were salmon in the stream, but not going up the fish ladder yet. We also checked out the Yes/No game show, which was fun. We also saw the "Rollin Jay Moore" and "Ventriloquist Patrick Murray" combo show. Moore was funnier than Murray. More later... And lots of pictures to come!
  14. I am currently on the Grand. Formal nights are the second sea day (or third night), and the night before Victoria (which is a sea day). It's possible that the second formal night could be on Victoria night, as we had that the last time we did this itinerary, and I'm pretty sure I saw that on another set of Patters someone posted When we embarked I didn't see a wine table. I brought two bottles of wine in my carry on. Nobody said a word. My cabin steward brought me wine glasses, and I've been enjoying them in the cabin. The chapel is frequently open and available. The chairs have always been set up. There are a few times the room is in use. For instance, we signed up for the Escape Room, and they used the chapel for it. There were several sessions on Ketchikan day and the sea day right after. The "Friends of Dr. Bob and Bill W Meetings" also take place in the chapel every day. And there is maybe one or two other things in there on sea days (like a "How to Boost Your Metabolism" or "Secrets to a Flatter Stomach" seminar, or the "Princess Pop Choir" rehearsal). On Friday they had a "Jewish Sabbath Service" listed in there too, but it stated a volunteer would need to lead the service. There's also an "Interdenominational Church Service" on Sundays in the Vista Lounge at 9 am. This is conducted by the Entertainment Director. On all other days there is an unhosted "Bible Study" at 8 am in the One5 Lounge. Crab Shack was only offered once on this sailing. It was the night of Hubbard Glacier (scenic cruising day). It fills up fast, so make your reservations by calling the DINE line on embarkation day. We missed it this cruise, unfortunately. As for the ship's condition, I think this depends on how fussy you are. 🙂 She is showing her age, for sure. But we've found her to be quite lovely and would not hesitate to sail her again. There are some areas that need addressing (e.g. the sofas in the Explorers Lounge badly need replacing). But I see crew constantly painting, staining, cleaning, etc. to keep her looking good. And I have been looking, but still have yet to come across one leak or blower. The crew on this ship is phenomenal. Probably the best we've had. And the food on the whole has been excellent. I'm sad to be going home in 3 days!
  15. I saw a woman using one yesterday on the Grand. The crew member at the International Cafe didn't question it at all.
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