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Ride-The-Waves

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  1. Stalker: The issue on this thread is "Have I "outgrown" cruising? Or am I just done with Royal Caribbean?" Some cruise lines are implementing a "new normal" which includes, but not limited to: higher prices, reduced selection, fewer crew, longer lines, reduced responsiveness, and increased passenger DIY. The reason, of course, is the monetary losses experienced during the COVID-19 stand down. Some cruise lines are trying to recoup those monies by cutting back on quality and services while increasing prices and using "marketing" to obfuscate the lowering of quality instead of improving passenger experiences hoping that slide will not be that noticeable. The OP has a very valid point worthy of intelligent discussion. AsI mentioned in my post above, I have sailed with many different cruise lines and spent many years at sea. I also know, learned at an early age, to treat others with dignity and respect.
  2. For cruisers, which I believe it the intent of this thread, Barcelona may be the worst. Have watched two crimes in Barcelona, one upstairs in a restaurant where the perp grabbed a bag and ran downstairs...and tumbled yje last 6 steps... Victim got the bag back. Only place I have lost a wallet was in Paris near the Eiffel tower - not pay attention standing in line to buy water for the bus ride back to the ship. The perps (Roma) charged a $2 phone call to a credit card. Have watched people being beaten by police in Jerusalem - horrible. BL: If you don't feel safe and the hair on the back of your neck is standing up, don't go there. Always be aware of your situation and surroundings. Walk with determination. We have traveled the world and visited all 7 continents (penguins in Antarctica were non threatening). You can be robbed/assaulted just about anywhere. I once drove about 5 miles off the Interstate in central Louisiana - not the place I wanted to be and quickly u-turned back to civilization. Traveled extensively in eastern Europe during the "Communist" era and never felt threatened.
  3. Hooray! The COVID-19 pandemic is over... At least according to NCL. Saying that, spouse and I got the latest booster (our third) and flu vaccinations on Wednesday! We will wear masks and practice social distancing as much as possible on our upcoming cruise...😝
  4. Thank you for your excellent observations and straight forward discussion. Spouse and I are booked on Odyssey October 2023 at the urging of friends and we are concerned. While D+ on RCI we have not sailed with them in many years do to exactly what you have so well mentioned: poor food, poor service, too many people stuffed into too small spaces, too noisy MDR, etc.. Since COVID we have sailed with Princess, Celebrity and looking forward to this Fall sailing with Oceania. Princess, an eastbound TA was horrible and we were in a full suite. Same issues as with your cruise and add in poor staff (officers) who appeared to be totally unconcerned. Recently back from a wonderful cruise (central Med) on Celebrity Reflection which embodied all of the positives of cruising. Looking forward to our first experience on Oceania despite their convoluted pricing/tours. Our first "modern" cruise some 20 years ago was on an RCI ship. Good time, good cruise, good food and great staff. Prior to that I crossed the North Atlantic about a dozen times on the venerable ocean liners, to include the old Queens, SS United States and America, Constitution, and several Holland America ships. Add in 30 years in the US Navy... The latest Princess experience (we have sailed with them many times before this - but never again) turned us off cruising. We went ahead with the booked cruise on Reflection which brought us back. Reading many of the posts here on CC it is clear that there is a "new normal" post COVID which embodies higher pricing, more nickel and dimeing, less and poorer service, and a care-less attitude by officers on selected cruise lines. I seriously doubt that any of this will be corrected by the time we are scheduled to sail on Odyssey in October and will embark with this on mind, expecting the worst. Maybe, like OP, it is time to reconsider. We have sailed/visited all 7 continents, safaried across Africa, travel China, lived in eastern Europe during its Communist period, and speak several languages. Spouse says she wants to visit Ulan Baatar - not sure about that...
  5. Royal appears to be practicing a "New Normal" for cruising: "cheap" fares and horrendously expenses "extras." Which is okay by me since we don't use the "extras" to include the now overpriced beverage packages to go along with the overpriced specialty restaurants. Maybe Royal is hoping people don't notice and once on board just buy and buy thinking they are getting a deal. We plan on not doing that. We don't need, or want, $15 water downed drinks or $70 dinners. Do want a nice cruise without the hassle.
  6. Dining, if you can call it that on a Royal ship, is simply sustenance. The MDR is a total disaster with cold food and poor selections. Specialty restaurants are horribly overpriced for what is offered, to include the ambiance (sic). The best dinner selections may be at the buffets. Paying extra at $70/meal is simply ludicrous and price gouging by Royal. It is interesting that some cruisers actually believe in Royal's specially offerings. Ugh! We will be cruising with friends who are Royal aficionados late in 2023 and will take most of our meals in the buffet. This November we are cruising with Oceania where special restaurants are included in the price, in addition to being a venue that offers great ambiance and service, and food. The difference is similar to sitting in the back of airplane, "cattle car" as a former stewardess (1970) offered, or up front in first class. Everything Royal does is "cattle car" to include over stuffing their ships with cabins/people. NOT a vacation!
  7. From Celebrity's website: A masterpiece in engineering, Celebrity Edge’s construction shifted the traditional ship layout from an exoskeleton layout to an outward-facing endoskeleton design, allowing the creation of staterooms with Infinite Verandas, which not only provide breathtaking views of the ocean but are 23% larger than Celebrity’s current veranda staterooms.
  8. Booked in advance. Studied tours of Ireland offered by tour agencies, added in places we wanted to visit, booked the car and flights, and headed off to adventure. The total trip was 13 days with stops in Kilkenny, Waterford, Killarney (from where we drove the Dingle Peninsula) and Galway (stayed in a castle) stopping at the Cliffs of Moher. Three nights in Dublin. It was easy to do, the people were friendly and looking to help, wonderful taverns. Flew Aer Lingus.
  9. Several years ago we drove Ireland, renting a car at Dublin airport, added an Ireland GPS map to an older device, and circumnavigated the country clockwise. Planned the route carefully with each hotel stop for two nights enabling a local day excursion in between. This enabled us to route to places one would never see on a tour and especially on a ship's excursion, ate in local pubs (best Sheppard's pie in Waterford and Galway), watched a rally for hurling in Kilkenny, visited the many castle ruins, stopped when we wanted, etc. Last three days in Dublin after returning the car to the airport. Fabulous trip. Beautiful clear weather except for the last day in Dublin (early September). It was easy to drive the right-hand car along highways (well marked) and roads only as wide as the car itself. Watch out for the sheep!
  10. From today's NY Times: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a new recommendation on Thursday that asymptomatic people who are using coronavirus antigen tests take at least three tests, each spaced 48 hours apart, to reduce the odds of missing an infection. People who have Covid-19 symptoms should take at least two tests, 48 hours apart, according to the agency. The new guidelines come as the highly transmissible BA.5 subvariant of Omicron continues to spread, and after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its recommendation for routine surveillance testing in most circumstances. Many people have reported that at-home tests failed to detect their infections, but studies have generally shown that rapid antigen tests are as good at detecting Omicron as they were at detecting Delta, the previous variant of concern. The new recommendations are “very grounded in science,” said Dr. Michael Mina, a former Harvard epidemiologist who is now the chief science officer for eMed, which sells at-home tests. “Sometimes it takes the virus two days to grow to a detectable level and sometimes it takes six days to grow.” This is likely a prime reason cruise lines are seeing infections on board. A single pre-boarding test the day before isn't enough to identify those who are infected on embarkation. And now cruise lines are eliminating testing. Sounds scary to me. We still plan to cruise in November but will seriously practice "social distancing" and wear masks on board. Everyone should.
  11. Another two today even after emploring them to stop. This must be expensive... It also is an indicator of how well Oceania listens to passengers...or doesn't listen them. Obviously, corporate doesn't care...
  12. Russell, the pharmacist on "Two and a Half Men," was always ready to provide prescription meds via contact with Dr Gupta in Sri Lanka.
  13. One can avoid crowds on ships and be selective where you go and eat. Just back from a European cruise and we stayed away from the MDR, ate in specialty restaurants, ate in the buffet, did not attend events in the theater, etc. Did join in a couple of ship and private shore excursions. Stayed safe as far as we know (fully vaxxed and boosted). At home one cannot control who is in a store or restaurant with you. Here in Florida COVID officially doesn't;t exists and few, if any, wear masks. "Social" distancing is about the only thing that works - along with masks. I expect this will become the new norm. Cruise lines are still hurting, still operating with reduced crews and reduced amenities. It will be years before they are back to any sense of pre-pandemic normal. In the meantime they will raise prices while encouraging more to cruise. Tough.
  14. Do it yourself. Booking a great hotel in Prague is easy and local tours are excellent. Then take the train between the cities. Fun, easy and comfortable.
  15. Agree with OP's thesis regarding ship size. Restarted cruising some 20-plus years ago ("cruised" on ocean liners in the 1950s) on Celebrity Millennium class and RCI's Radiance ships, both around 2,000 pax. Good ships and near perfect size to really enjoy the sea and ports. Have also tried the behemoths (Oasis class) and have no intention of ever embarking on one again. Too big, too crowded and too impersonal. Have edged up to Celebrity Solstice class and last cruise on Reflection (3,000 pax) was excellent and far better than Princess Royal class (3,500 pax) and a significant improvement over their earlier offerings of ships built in the 2000s which feel very cramped. We have also cruised many times on Azamara's R-class ships and find them very comfortable. Much of the cruising experience comes from the crews. Last Princess experience on Sky Princess was horrible and can be directly attributed to crew management on leadership, both corporate and on board. Last Celebrity experience on Reflection was wonderful, and again, some of that was the ship design itself but mostly relatable to crew. Cruising with Azamara before they were sold off from RCCL, was like "coming home" again. Smaller ships and attentive crews. In selecting a ship I take past experiences (never again on Princess), ship size and passenger/volume ratios. Thus, a ship like Reflection can feel spacious and uncrowded and similar to an R-class, while Oasis can feel stuffed and oppressive.
  16. Makes me wonder if people complained as much when ocean liners with no balconies converted to cruise ships with balconies and IVs. Change is not easy for many. The E class is purposely structured/designed to accommodate IVs.
  17. Have done this once before. The link says to give them 8 weeks to make the change. 8 WEEKS!
  18. Received another glossy brochure today. Goes straight to the recycle bin after removing my address. Have requested Oceania to stop inundating us with brochures to no avail. Its like they are a used car lot begging people to "buy here, pay here:" the worst and sleaziest used car brokerage. PLEASE STOP! Spouse and I have sailed the world and we know what we like and where we want to travel. Inundating us with brochures is not only costly, adding to the overall expense of sailing with Oceania, it is polluting the environment, contributing to planet warming, and generally unsanitary. PLEASE STOP!
  19. Celebrity makes it sound like you have to sue the app. You don't. Use the app if you want to be tracked and harassed by Celebrity.
  20. Tried Edge once and will never sail on an E-class again. Horrible ship. Dark and foreboding. Dangerous stairs. Corridors that go nowhere. Really a poorly designed and ugly ship. And what is with that forrest of black trees from the planet Trappist IVb? Really really overpriced shops.
  21. We flew back to the US on 4 July, booked through Flights by Celebrity. It wasn't until about 5 weeks prior to that flight that FBC confirmed the return (FCO-MCO) half of our flights. Even then, one week later we were contacted directly by Celebrity HQs in Miami to explain that the flights selected did not meet Celebrity's requirements for time between arrival Civitavecchia and departure FCO. They did offer and confirm a good Business Class option and that flight, on America via PHL, was on time and very comfortable. Since you are schedule to fly more than 6 weeks from now suggest call FBC as well as email them requesting they provide finalized ticketing.routing. It will work and the cost benefit was worth it. Do be warned: even with Business Class the check-in, immigration and security processing at FCO it took over one hour and a half. To make sure we arrived FCO with plenty of time before flight (which was on-time) we arranged for private transfer via Rome Cabs which as perfect.
  22. Doing our first Oceania cruise in November and looking forward to the ship. So far the Oceania experience has been less than positive. It also appears that many things on O are simply designed to "nickel and dime" you from your money. The incomprehensible shore excursion program being one. Another the "deviation" fee for air travel. Third the over the top cost of booking business class air through Oceania. None of these are passenger friendly. We have sailed with Azamara and enjoy the "R" class ships - perfect size for our needs. We have also sailed the larger ships and Celebrity's Solstice class offers a lot for the value. Despise the behemoths (Oasis) and the Celebrity Edge class abominations. To sail O this Fall have booked air separately from O, international business class at almost half the cost O wanted. Currently working shore excursions since the alternatives offered by O with convoluted pricing just don't make sense. I'm sure we will enjoy the cruise itself once embarked and underway. Great itinerary and what appears to be a wonderful ship. But in this case, getting there with O is NOT half the fun. Azamara had (pre-pandemic) a wonderful feeling of "returning home" on embarkation. Not getting the same sense from O...
  23. All the whining about flying is truly amazing. Its as if no one has even flown before. Never been impacted by weather. Its only a very tiny percentage of airline passengers who have been displaced. Airlines are doing a good job getting passengers to destinations on time. No doubt about it. And, its simple logic that you fly in to an international destination a day or more early to make a cruise connection (or a business meeting or other scheduled event). Have been flying internationally since prop-jobs across the Pond. Weather, mechanicals, etc, all can impact air travel. Don't complain - practice good travel protocols.
  24. Just back from a cruise in the Med. Flying home on American we were issued "Pre-Check" hard copy tickets for use in Philly (which is becoming American's east coast hub). However, in Philly after rechecking bags the "Pre-check" line was closed. I asked the TSA rep why since we pay for pre-check screening. Answer: "because its closed." Second time this has happened at PHL.
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