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  1. I liked the breakfast/lunch selection better on Pride, as well as the stateroom size. My son also liked the waterslide. I didn’t care for the location and activities of the kids club (forward - behind the theater up steep steps), how some floors you were forced to go up or down a level to continue, the overly loud music at the main pool, and the evening theater entertainment. The piano singer was pretty popular though. I also liked how two of the three ports we stopped off were walk off to the beach with complimentary beach chairs. On Grandeur, we loved the staff. Did not run into one bad staff member, which says a lot. Known as the friendly ship, and it holds true. Like the longer length itineraries and low cost on Grandeur. Like the evening entertainment more, and my son liked Adventure Ocean on this ship. I think one of Royal’s major downfalls is their lack of variety for breakfast & lunch. Dinner is really subjective. Carnival did tend to be more down home cooking, while some of Royal’s might seem slightly gourmet. Both were fine.
  2. So one other question, on my next cruise, I’ll hit my 340th point. Of course this isn’t awarded until after the cruise. Can I book a NextCruise while onboard my next cruise and get the 150% supplement, or do I have to book at the normal 200% and have my travel agent reprice 10 days after we get home?
  3. Just something of note, on most RCI cruises between losing potential OBC (both thru cruise line promotions & travel agent offers), the $25 per person booking fee that most Interline agencies charge, and the minimal price difference between fares, we typically find it about break even and less hassle to go with the normal offers. Some other cruise lines seems to offer more substantial discounts regularly, but they also seem to be more expensive.
  4. I think that some ship’s Windjammer dinner service is better than others. Serenade (by and far the best) and Anthem come to mind. Serenade had cook to order chicken/fish/steak nightly, made to order crepes and dessert waffles, and typically one other chef station. Anthem had an Indian night that was out of this world, also with a chef station. But, the fleet, by and large could benefit from some variety for breakfast and lunch. Some examples for breakfast, ethnic choices (other than congee & English breakfast) to include Maduros (sweet plantains), Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles, Migas, and other varieties of dishes. Same thing for lunch, easy to do themes, bbq (pork & chicken bbq, ribs, etc) - how I miss the poolside BBQ on sea days, Round the World lunch? Just something other than the typical salad bar, pizza, hamburger/hot dog, fries, etc I really do think that if RCI increased their food cost slightly (as they did with their pizza), the results would be incredible. I should mention that Park Cafe on multiple days had pork for the normal Roast Beef sandwiches, and on a couple of days were out of the traditional hard rolls.
  5. My mom was in 7652, and either 7654 or 7656 also had issues. Seemed to be more some on the Caribbean days (lower speeds). As for the trivia, it seems that each staff member makes their own trivia on their own time.
  6. We chose to sail from Baltimore, as it was about 20 minutes from our house, and only required a $20 Uber ride to get to the port. It also allows me to work on both the day of sailing and day of return without taking a vacation day. In terms of price, (comparing with Jan 2020 cruises as well), the average price of a 7 night cruise out of FL/PR is about $700 plus tax pp for an inside room. The 12 night on Grandeur is about $100 more, but for 5 more nights. Also, you don’t need to pay for airfare (figure minimum $200 per person), hotel (minimum $100 per room), additional ground transport, and meals. We are sailing out of Florida in April, and the cheapest flights that we can find are over $400 per person, cheapest room is $150 with tax. The other nice thing was not having to worry about flight delays and/or cancellations due to weather, MX, ATC, or whatever other reason. With that said, we’ve sailed out of Florida two past two Januarys, and are sailing out of Florida next January as well. As for trivia, the party in question was confirmed by other B2Bers who were not playing (because they already heard the questions), as well as some of the staff (after they heard the B2Bers mention it). There were a couple of other trivia’s (mostly music or movies) where 20/20 scores were obtained by people doing the trivia for their first time.
  7. Just got back from the 12 night Caribbean sailing itinerary. Really enjoyed this ship and itinerary, and have the same itinerary booked for next year (and I believe we will be booking for 2021 as well). I’ll go over some of the positives and negatives, please feel free to ask any questions, and I’ll try to answer Positives: Incredible staff all around. Honestly didn’t run into one surly staff member. Seems like everyone remembered your name after one interaction (including stateroom attendants that were not your stateroom attendant (Ivan & Rowena), janitors (Richard), Windjammer greeters, etc). The entertainment staff was also great about doing a ton of activities, including some new activities that we have never seen before. Negatives: Seas both coming and going from Baltimore (the first two sea days and second to last sea day) were a bit rough, in excess of 10 foot seas. My son got seasick for the second time ever in over 20 cruises. Also, the rooms could use a bit of re-staining/tarnishing. Also, my mother had an aft junior suite balcony, and the ash/soot that others had mentioned was true and prominent on my mom’s balcony. For the Diamond Plus tours, they limited the galley & bridge tour to the first 30 to sign up. This is the first time I have seen this. Given how many D+ are on board, that quota seemed very low. This is also the first ship I have seen a # limit. Windjammer needed more variety for lunch/dinner and could have used a chef station (only in use sometimes). Embarkation: We seemed to arrive at peak time (1030-1100) and the queue for dropping off bags was probably about 10 minutes, security checkpoint and check in were each a similar amount of time. So not, as quick as Fort Lauderdale Oasis class, but pretty close. Rooms: (Other than the initial comments) The shower curtain issue didn’t seem to be as bad as I remembered it on my past sailing. We did bring the binder clips to hold the curtain down. We did request extra cushioning for the bed, which was promptly taken care of. Also asked for a bed squeak issue to be taken care of and that was also promptly taken care of. The TVs had been replaced with flat screens, which gave us a nice storage cubby (where the old large TV had been located). Room temperature and water temperature were both great. Our room was Deck 7 aft, only occasionally noise was from late night shows in the South Pacific Lounge, and was minimal. We were able to fall asleep with our sound machine on without issue. Fellow passengers: Mostly retirees, very few children (30 total on board from age 1-18). Theater shows & trivia were well attended. Poolside even on sea days was never crowded, was always able to grab a group of chairs. Some of the pool sports activities were skipped for lack of participation. There were many B2B cruisers, with some on since the Fall Shows: Didn’t attend most, but did see that Jamie Allan was on board. We saw him onboard Rhapsody in the Fall and were amazed. He also just completed a month of land based shows in Chicago. If he is ever on your ship, totally worth attending. The other shows we peeked in on seemed to be the normal smaller ship shows. Ports: Did basically a beach at every port. In St Croix, went to Rainbow Beach, about a 5 minute ride from the port. I believe it was $3 each way and that chairs/umbrella at the beach were $10 each. Food & drink were averagely priced and service was quick. Antigua, went to Darkwood Beach, about a 25 minute ride, and I believe about $30 each way for 4 people, and I think it was $20 for 3 chairs and umbrella. Food & drink again average price. On St Lucia, we did the 2 hr short sightseeing tour for $30 per person, with beach drop off at Reduit Beach (according to my co-worker from St Lucia, this is the best beach) and then ride back to port. I honestly wouldn’t recommend the 2 hour tour, was basically just up to a couple of viewpoints. If doing a tour, would recommend the 4 hour one, otherwise just go straight to beach. At Reduit Beach, chairs and umbrellas were negotiable, and we paid about $15 for pair of chairs & umbrella. Food and drink vendors were plentiful, and food/drink was cheap. Getting into/out of water had a drop off and was a bit rocky. Vendors were slightly aggressive, but a no thank you worked just fine. Side note, we ended up right next to the entertainment staff. On St Kitts, went to Carambola, $16 each way for 3 people (believe same fare for 4 people), and $10 each for chair/umbrella, and it was EMPTY. Was able to get a wave runner for way under advertised price, as we were their first client at 2PM. St Martin, just went to the downtown beach, which has been discussed at length. It was a buyers market for chairs/umbrellas as only 2 ships in (3rd ship came in mid-day). We did walk down the beach to Shipwreck Bar, and the beach at Carambola was much nicer. Thoughts: On a longer cruise, I do think that it would benefit the cruise line to offer different (lower) fees for the drink packages, internet packages, and specialty dinner cover charges. I think that they would get more overall business. The bars seemed quite quiet, as did the specialty restaurants. I considered getting a drink package prior to the cruise, but couldn’t justify the high price for the cruise. For our one night of specialty dining, we obtained a significant discount just for inquiring. Also, it really is time for the casino to go non smoking. The vast majority of the smokers were campers (not actively playing games). I would have played even more if it wasn’t so smoky in the casino. Ship staff: I know I briefly mentioned earlier, but wanted to mention again. During a dinner announcement, it was mentioned that Grandeur won the fleet award for 2018 for friendliest staff, and I have to 100% agree with this. Every single person I met was nice. I can’t recall any ship in the past like this. Francis in the Concierge Lounge is the standard I hold any other DL or CL host to. He somehow is able to anticipate your needs. When making a reservation for Chops for our party, he asked if the dinner was for an occasion. I mentioned it was someone’s b-day, and he did multiple things during the week to celebrate this. I have no idea if he would ever be interested, but I could see him being an amazing Genie. Our wait staff (Danny & Rahab) were amazing, we happened to be their only table during late seating. Out headwaiter was Sudhir. Upon learning that I liked Indian, he made sure to mention the nightly offerings. He even brought Lahsis to the table one night for everyone to try (I didn’t ask for the lahsis, he surprised us with them). Our assistant waiter & headwaiter informed us one night that they would be leaving early (our waiter was still present), as they received Dining Room Team of the cruise for last cruise, and were being treated to a meal at Giovanni’s. I was glad to see the crew get recognized for their service. Side note - This is the second cruise where cruisers on multiple B2Bs that knew all of the trivia questions decided to participate and get 20/20 on multiple trivia’s, where the next best score would be 5-10 points lower. It was fairly obvious to most, and there was a lot of grumbling about it by a lot of parties. Not sure why some people feel the need to show that they know all of the trivia questions because they heard them last week/month. There was a new trivia (the repeat offenders did not attend) and the high score was 6/20, with an average score of 4. Let me know if you have questions.
  8. Unfortunately, I can’t say that I am surprised. On my two recent cruises on ships with CLs instead of SLs, it was quite apparent who (some) of the D+ members were. Arriving 30 minutes before happy hour began, saving seats with purses, napkins, books, hats, etc. And staying the entire time. Obviously would put the coincierge into a predicament when suite passengers come to happy hour a little later and no seats to be found. Some were quite demanding as well, upset when the bartender and waiter took a couple of minutes for a drink refill due to being backlogged. Two of my most recent cruises were in full suites, and I can understand how new cruisers who chose to spend more money for listed benefits could be disappointed. Now, again, I am not saying all D+ members are like this, but I think that the chair hogging, etc from some definitely lead to this decision (if it holds true). In order to protect the coincierge, I won’t mention names, but a coincierge on one of my recent cruises, basically said word for word what I listed in the first paragraph while voicing his frustration with it.
  9. I would personally recommend one more day as a buffer just in case. This Summer our Brisbane to LA flight operated over 4 hours late due to fog, misconnecting almost everyone. We did make it to the East Coast same day, but only by sheer luck. We literally ran from customs to another terminal thru security and boarded a flight (last passengers on) and did the same thing in our connecting city.
  10. We did Seadream Yacht Club one time. It is drastically different that RCI in many areas (obviously). The most noted, as previously mentioned was little to no scheduled entertainment. Liars club seems to be a luxury staple. There was a piano bar where the seats were at the piano. The casino was 1 blackjack table I believe and maybe a few slots. The majority of the entertainment was happy hour / dinner driven. The huge difference was the service. Staff coming around with free mini massages poolside, cleaning your sunglasses, with small bites, etc. Drink orders were known by the first day. They knew if you liked a frozen drink by the pool, yet champagne before dinner. Room steward cleaned the room impeccably and dropped a gift every night. Mini-bar in room was included, as was room service. Everything other than some shore excursions, gambling, super premium alcohol, and spa treatments was included. For activities, this included: bike rental when on shore, hike with the captain or other officer when in port, golf simulator, sunbeds (including being able to sleep on deck in a private sun bed overnight), swimming off the back of the ship (including kayaks, sunfish sail boats, wave runner, and trampoline. The food was much nicer than on Royal, which is to be expected. In the morning and afternoon, meals were served on the outside deck via buffet. Servers would take your plate to the table for you. Dinner was generally in the dining room, although a couple of nights it was also outside. The happy hour immediately prior was sometimes in the lounge and sometimes poolside. On the last full day, they typically do their beach bbq day. They rent a land facility and fully cater a beach day. The “photo” opportunity is champagne & caviar (I don’t understand how people like this) served in the ocean on a surfboard, typically by staff in full uniform. I did like how the smaller ship was able to hit smaller ports, and even overnight in some ports. I also liked how this line didn’t have “formal” nights. The typical nighttime outfits were khakis and a short sleeve collared shirt for men and a sundress of some type for women.
  11. Sorry, meant more for the points per night, which in turn is revenue driven. The mega suites get 9x the amount of points that an inside or oceanview gets versus on RCI’s current program, JS and up gets double.
  12. We were talking about this at the end of our last cruise. Given how much more Star & Sky Class Suites are (compared to suites on other ships), as well as different benefits being offered for each, I think we will see a change over to a Celebrity based loyalty system. Maybe even additional points for spending on board (1 point per $500 or $1000?) I really hope the roll out is a little bit later for purely selfish reasons, but I think that the change is coming sooner rather than later.
  13. The week prior they had crab claws as well (could have sworn they were stone crab claws), I was shocked.
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