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  1. Like much of mask policy and all the cleaning protocols, it gives the appearance of safety without actually following science of transmission. Transmission happens in indoor spaces over an extended period of time in areas with poor ventilation, which excludes elevators and shops or walking around the ship. The only viable spots for spread would be dining rooms, since people are there for over an hour, yet Princess has evidently made no attempts to ensure that all tables are at least 6 feet apart, that people aren't sitting close to people they don't know, or that they have enough staff to expedite dining. All the lines are using protocols based on 2020 understanding of science--nobody is in the hospital with Covid from touching tongs or a handrail. Anyhow, I understand they're trying to assure people and the CDC while trying to recover lost revenue, but it would be much easier of all the Carnival brands took the NCL approach--100% vaccinated, no exceptions, no masks unless you want to, enjoy your vacation. In any case, I'm leaving on Majestic tomorrow and will just use common sense and deal with the rules, asking for a distanced table in the dining room and going where I feel comfortable--hopefully nobody is trying to enforce mask wear in the Hollywood covered pool or Conservatory. I also found that I feel much safer after getting my booster shot this week, whereas on my last cruise I felt more exposed and angry and judgmental over masks. The most important part for me is showing respect for crew members by covering up when I'm talking to them and not making them have to ask me to cover my nose, as I saw happen often on my last cruise.
  2. If you have a smaller iphone, like my SE, the screen to choose the time has a glitch, since it doesn't show the confirm button. I was frustrated by it for weeks, until I finally put the app on my ipad, and then I was able to confirm a time.
  3. I'll be on the Majestic this weekend, but I had similar pleasant surprise on the Ovation of the Seas last month, with 1700 passengers: 1. No hall noise or congestion from stewards or room service. I was slightly creeped out because I went 7 days without seeing or hearing another passenger in my hallway. 2. Dining flexibility--easy to move between restaurants until you find servers and tables that you like. 3. No lines or seat-saver/deck chair hog issues. 4. Quick and easy embarkation/disembarkation and getting on and off ships in ports--I imagine Cabo tendering will be much easier. 5. No buffet hordes, except on disembarkation morning, meaning no hunting for tables and no feeding frenzy lines. Really looking forward to an uncrowded atrium, too, since it can be difficult to find a table just to have a coffee or watch a performance. 6. Biggest bummer--you can't see crew member faces and smiles. All crew on Royal wore Smile Buttons, showing their face smiling, I hope Princess does something similar.
  4. I really enjoyed being able to take my mask off for shows and other 'vaccinated only' venues on a Royal cruise, and mask-wearing isn't required at all on Celebrity and NCL. I wish everyone didn't have to pay on Princess because they want to give religious/medical exemptions to vaccination. On the other hand, I found myself too worried about masking on my last cruise and judging others for uncovered noses or no mask at all, instead of just enjoying my vacation, so I'll try to just not worry about it on the Majestic on Saturday, especially since I got my booster this week. Warm Mexican weather means I can also spend lots of time outside and not having to worry about masking. I also look on the protocol plus side that I'm on ships now with low occupancy and have found some great deals for solo passengers, with so many choosing to cancel/delay. I've found that a combination of Walgreen's/emed home tests removed the worry about the testing requirement too.
  5. If upgrades were easy and dependable, then people wouldn't have an incentive to pay more up front for the room they actually want, or for the upgrade bidding and offers programs many lines use. Low occupancy would actually make it less desirable for them to give free upgrades, because they're already short on revenue--it would be like allowing people on a low-occupancy flight to rush to first class. It also makes the CS desk the first day more of a nightmare for those who have a legitimate issue, along with all the people who run to the front desk to deal with dining or wifi/app issues. I admit, though, it would be interesting to see someone slip a $20 to a cruise ship agent to ask for an upgrade, or even better, to hand over their Medallion with a wink and say they could take $20 off for themselves.
  6. I prefer to stay in Long Beach the day before a cruise. There’s more to do, including biking or walking the beach, with more lodging and dining options. If I’m on a 4-night cruise I often stay in Long Beach an extra day too.
  7. Sailing under the Golden Gate is memorable, although going under Lion’s Gate Bridge is more fun, with bicyclists and walkers stopping to wave. SF charges some steep port fees, though.
  8. If you have a Walgreen’s, they do free antigen tests, results in an hour or so. They schedule 2 days out, so I got online this morning to schedule a Thursday test. Ordering a 3-pack of home tests from Optum is my backup. If you fly into LAX, they offer antigen tests for $80 at the airport, and rapid PCR for more money—the LAX website shows where and how to schedule. So those are 3 options to avoid boarding delays and stress from port testing, or issues if you test positive, including mandatory quarantine. The Norwegian Bliss will be sailing out of San Pedro in a few weeks, and they’ll need plenty of testing infrastructure for their free port testing for all passengers, with 100% passenger vaccination and zero mask requirements on board. Navigator of the Seas will also be sailing twice a week from San Pedro starting in Nov. and will offer port testing, so if a Princess ship sails on the same day as other ships it could make testing even more chaotic.
  9. Nice review, but the mention of tables crammed together is making me stressed over my Majestic Mexico trip next weekend. I was on Ovation of the Seas a few weeks ago, and after several lunches and dinners being crammed next to other people at 2-seat tables, feeling unsafe and uncomfortable, I finally started asking for a physically distanced table. I would never let anyone seat me that close to another table in a restaurant or bar, and it's ridiculous to make people distance and wear masks in a line or elevator where they'll be around someone for a few minutes, but then cram them within reaching distance for over an hour without a mask, with talking and open mouths eating and drinking, with chatty people wanting to engage other tables in conversation. The lines talk about safety, but they still do things that no restaurant on land would do, like offer to seat strangers together or have tables with no distance. Nobody has ever caught Covid from a handrail, so all the crew relentlessly wiping things down is just hygiene theater, but there have been many superspreader events in restaurants, so that's exactly where distancing, ventilation, and quick service is important. I was hoping that the Princess dine anywhere concept would extend to the HAL ability to order from the MDR menu as room service, but that doesn't seem to be an option--it looks like just a way to push drinks and specialty dining delivery, while adding more complexity to the app. I was also hoping for some good buffet Indian food, which was great on Royal and NCL, and is a nightly option in the MDR on Carnival. Fortunately, though, I love ramen and Princess pizza, so the noodle bar and Alfredo's will be seeing me a lot.
  10. I was on Ovation last month. I kept getting seated at 2-seat tables next to each other, which made me feel unsafe and uncomfortable, I went to a different dining room and asked for a physically distanced table, and when I found one and servers I liked, I booked it for the rest of the cruise for dinner. For breakfast and lunch, I found the easiest way to ensure distance and privacy was to go the Everyone dining room on deck 3, which had tables blocked off and very few people, so I great service and a table next to the window with nice sea views. So, the lesson is just to ask and then ask to change if you're not satisfied. If you have set dining, I'd go in on the first day and ask to see your table and then ask for something different if it's not acceptable.
  11. LGB is a small airport, so there's not enough constant demand to fill a shuttle bus. Most larger airlines and cross-continental ones fly into LAX. Carnival has a shuttle from LGB, but their terminal is closer and they have more frequent year-round sailings. LAX used to have shuttle buses then went to downtown Long Beach for $10, but not for now, so I would call RC to ask to use their shuttle bus out of LAX or look for a shuttle van company, since it avoids having to go to an offsite location to catch an Uber or Lyft. If you're traveling light and are mobile, it's possible to get Long Beach on light rail and from there to San Pedro by bus, and there's a Long Beach bus that goes to LGB.
  12. I'd be careful with that and just list the second dose. The card shows the 3rd dose on the back, so they can look at the port if they want and deal with the confusion. The problem with inputting the 3rd dose on the app is that it could trigger unnecessary problems, since the port people and app are probably designed to look for a 14-day space between final dose and cruise.
  13. Things are changing all the time. I canceled cruises and if you mentioned the magic 'protocols' word, you'll get a full refund. If you call now, just when they announced the extension, then you'll spend a lot of time on hold. That's why in the current situation it would make a lot of sense of find a local TA who can do all the stressful parts for you, including repricing cruises. As for testing, if you don't want to stress over it, just order proctored home tests from Optum or Emed, and you can do it at any point before boarding. I use a triple system of local antigen test before leaving, home proctored test, and airport/urgent care test in the port city. I canceled many cruises and fumed and ranted over testing and masking protocols, and my anxiety level was off the charts when I went on my first cruise a few weeks ago to Alaska, and I let myself get stressed on board over the masking practices of others, but in the end I had a great time on a beautiful ship (Ovation) and was really happy to be back on the seas again and traveling. I only regret now that I got angry and scared and cancelled a $250 7-night Panorama sailing, since I'll likely never see such a good deal again for a solo.
  14. There simply isn't enough passenger traffic from LGB or SNA to make transfers viable, and it would create a lot of delay and stress waiting to fill a bus, as well as on disembarkation morning. I've actually taken a public bus from San Pedro to downtown Long Beach, and another bus from Long Beach to LGB.
  15. You get 10% off multiple times. The 50% off is for the first two drinks. I used mine on Ovation last week for 20 oz glasses of Newcastle Brown Ale at the pool bar for half-off $7.99. I usually go with Grolsch, since the resealable top means I can take it anywhere and keep unfinished bottles in a minibar. I also did microbrewery visits in Skagway and Juneau. I wish Royal would up their beer game, especially given the amazing District Brew House on newer NCL ships, with 24 beers on tap and 50 or so in bottles.
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