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Everything posted by coastcat

  1. Seattle: Nasal swab, fairly shallow so no brain poking. We were held in the waiting area until our results were ready, which was about 25 minutes for me.
  2. Hey, next door neighbor! I was in E425, the obstructed balcony with a total lack of obstruction:
  3. If you enjoy Chinese food, don’t forget about Harmony! The couple next to me had followed the recommendations of Camilla, our wonderful server, so I also put my selections in her hands. I’m picky about Asian food in general and Chinese cuisine in particular. Although only one dish was true to its origin (Sichuan chicken appetizer) and the rest were adapted to an American palate… the food was insanely good. I’ve now been twice and might return tonight since nothing on the MDR menu is more appealing. How the heck are chefs in a ship galley getting a decent wok hei that elevates a simple egg white fried rice into something so complex? Are cinnamon sugar doughnuts a Princess signature? I saw chocolate frosted doughnuts twice (once with dried coconut, ugh) but otherwise it’s been all cinnamon sugar all the time. Luckily that’s one of my favorite varieties and I may or may not eaten a full dozen of them so far. Sadly, I must agree with @starboardcruiser regarding the Lotus Spa staff. A bit off-putting. I did enjoy the therapy pool but not the feeling that the staff would rather not be bothered.
  4. Wonderful news - all passengers and crew are now known to be safe. Turning back around to head to Glacier Bay.
  5. And now we’ve been directed to our muster stations. Lots of sleepy folks in the dining room with me, standing by for further directions.
  6. Oh my… first announcement from the bridge at about 12:25am: man overboard. Second announcement just now: they’re re-assessing the situation as it might be a false alarm. They’re turning the ship around. For now, stay put, but we may be asked to go to our muster station (presumably for head count).
  7. When I was on Encore (August 7), all solo activities were in place. We had daily meetings hosted by the effervescent Brenda, group dinners, and the usual snacks & beverages available 24/7 in the Studio Lounge. Honestly, except for the requirement to wear masks in ports, the protocol changes were unnoticeable.
  8. Sometimes a first date works out 🙂, sometimes it doesn’t 😐. Such is the cruise life!
  9. It’s a shame because there are some things about Princess which are definitely superior to NCL - coffee quality, bed comfort, MDR food, and the Ocean Medallion wearable tech top the list. Oh well.
  10. The breakfast buffet was a big improvement in terms of variety and was quite busy as people fuel up for the Juneau port stop. I might disembark to do a little shopping but this is my fourth time sailing into Juneau. I’m thinking Enclave therapy pool instead. I am currently trying to eat a flavorless, underbaked almond croissant accompanied by a cup of boiling hot water, a lid, and a tea bag (which is what I was handed at the International Cafe when I asked for tea). Breakfast was not great either. Thank goodness I have cold pizza in the fridge. Princess pizza is very good! Between that and the noodle bar, I certainly won’t go hungry. You know, it’s only day 3 of my first Princess cruise but it might be my last. I’m enjoying many elements of the ship but as a whole it’s not working for me. It’s very classic and traditional, and I’m not. Never say never, though. It could just be the Alaska passenger mix so I may give Princess another try on a different ship and itinerary.
  11. It always just depends, doesn’t it? I tried Onda - fabulous bread, even more fabulous appetizers (octopus)… and a badly overcooked fish entree. Looked pretty, was inedible. I’d still book Onda on my next Encore or Spirit cruise, though. The bread was served with an eggplant dip. I ate the entire bowl. I don’t like eggplant. That’s how good it was. Right now I’m on Majestic Princess. If this ship comes anywhere near Encore, I’d be sorely tempted to make a beeline to the NCL ship. It’s day 3 of my first Princess cruise and it’s already clear that it’s not a good fit for my style. Also, they only serve one kind of mojito here.
  12. I booked the Enclave pass about 6 weeks before sailing but it has been available for much longer. I don’t know about spa services, though.
  13. Not that I want to get into comparisons but… wow. So I was on the first return sailing of NCL Encore, which was at about the same capacity as this Majestic sailing. I ate most of my meals at the buffet on NCL (TBH, it tends to be better than their MDR). Despite the ship being at lowered capacity, the food options at all meals was its usual breadth of variety. I had embarkation day lunch at the Princess buffet and just returned from formal night dinner there (because I don’t do formal). Is… is this normal? At both meals there were maybe six different proteins plus various side dishes and accompaniments. Some grab & go salads and sides. When I finally found the breads, I only saw a couple different types of rolls. Nice variety of desserts though. Is this typical or is Princess keeping it simple while the passenger numbers are lower than usual? (I mean, the food is pretty good, but sparse)
  14. The Enclave thermal suite is open all day - I think it’s 8am to 10pm. I took a tour yesterday since I bought the pass online. No time limit, no reservations required. The locker room is open for use, too. The thermal suite is smaller than what I’m used to on NCL ships, with just a handful of tiled loungers and no other relaxation space, but the hydro pool is large & looks delightful.
  15. Much applause to Princess for their embarkation process. I arrived at 10:50 and was onboard by 11:15 or so. This is my first time on Princess and the Ocean Medallion experience alone could easily draw me back. I’m so used to handing over a card for swiping everything and… nope! The Medallion app, not so much. As a solo, I will note that every restaurant host and server has said “just one?” They’ve been gracious and efficient otherwise but that phrase starts things on a negative note. Bouncy seas last night! Feels calmer this morning but maybe it’s just that the Bonine has kicked in.
  16. I’m in E425 right this moment! Don’t worry @Bruin Steve, I’ll take good care of the cabin. The balcony is angled so it’s deeper than the regular balconies. You could easily put a lounger in the deepest part. Hmm, I wonder if my room steward could do that? Photo of E425 balcony Privacy from above is definitely not an issue. Unless you’re sitting on the balcony railing - and don’t do that!!! - you aren’t visible from the Skywalk. And I am never looking straight down through the Skywalk glass floor again, good grief, that was terrifying.
  17. Before final payment, yes, I've kept the booking reference but changed the cruise attached to it. The deposit stayed with the booking so I didn't have to pay a second time and wait for a refund of the original one. You are way past final payment date if the cruise is in three weeks. Cancellation policy kicks in. Ask if there's any way to expedite the FCC posting since you want to apply it right away.
  18. The topic came up in the RC forum. A lot of those hefty solo discounts evaporated overnight. No supplement on my Navigator cruises on Thursday or Friday, 200% on Saturday. Just one of those pricing things.
  19. Same here. We've both been working from home, not going out much... a little breathing room is welcome. Starting tomorrow he gets another week of Domino's pizza & loud movies while I get a week of ocean sunrises & uninterrupted reading.
  20. That's the fun (?!?) of being a solo cruiser. You're always on the hunt for slashed pricing. My next cruise after the Navigator b2b is on Celebrity Edge. They had priced one late January sailing with a super low single supplement (115%) on most cabins. Oddly enough, most of the people on our roll call are also solos, go figure... lol
  21. Thank goodness I didn't wait. I had been booked on a 4-day Navigator cruise (December 6) preceded by a 3-day Carnival Radiance one. Carnival cancelled last Thursday and I immediately had my TA book me onto the December 3 Navigator sailing - same balcony cabin, same amazing solo rate. That rate is gone today...
  22. FWIW, NCL is already performing antigen tests at the pier (mandatory for everyone, no extra charge). They've contracted with a vendor (Eurofins) to run the testing facility, although that requires a nearby space suitable for processing a few thousand cruisers in a relatively short window. For the first cruise out of Seattle, we got tested at the hotel across the street; since then they've added at least one more site to spread the crowds out. The test administered is the BinaxNOW nasal swab. You are required to select an arrival time (1/2 hour increments) and are strongly encouraged to pre-register with Eurofins to speed up the process. This worked fine in downtown Seattle where there are suitable spaces right next to Pier 66 (which has its own conference space as well). This would be more challenging at Pier 91 from which Carnival and most of the other cruise lines sail as it's a small embarkation facility in a light industrial area. My TA just forwarded an announcement from Royal Caribbean stating that passengers will be able to order proctored at-home test kits through a link on their site. I'm assuming they've made an arrangement for customers to purchase BinaxNOW or Ellume tests. That will be much more convenient, but the notice didn't mention if the cruise line is subsidizing any of the costs.
  23. Oh darn. From my original slate of 2021 booked cruises, the sole survivor after the summer cancellations was the December 3 sailing of the refreshed Carnival Radiance. Well, it won't be ready in time and that cruise was just cancelled. Luckily, Royal Caribbean is following the same sailing schedule out of LA as Radiance so I'm now booked on the December 3 sailing of Navigator of the Seas (3-day) as well as the previously-booked December 6 one (4-day). Since these sailings have no single supplement (!!!), I'm getting 7 nights in a mid-ship balcony for about $800 plus taxes/port fees.
  24. Studio cabins are not eligible for the Upgrade Advantage program. You can (usually) buy your way directly into an upgrade from any cabin, including Studios. I was booked in a Studio for Bliss's October cruise, then bought my way into a balcony because prices dropped. They dropped again after final payment. Although I was then eligible to bid, the minimum for a Club Balcony was $125 pp (so, $250 for solos). Instead I paid $58 more and bought my way into one. So always check the current pricing. It may be cheaper to upgrade directly than to bid.
  25. Check how your HSA is set up. I too forgot to use my card when ordering from Optum, but my HSA allows me to submit online for reimbursement of eligible expenses. I did so and they debited the HSA account for the appropriate amount and did a direct deposit to my checking account for the same amount. And I'm also thankful for this thread as it's been so helpful! I've just done my PCR swab collection at CVS for a Sunday cruise; the BinaxNOW packs are in the cupboard, just in case...
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