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Russ Lomas

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  1. How long until you flight/cruise. If it is before final payment of the cruise still, you are entitled to a full refund of the flight costs (even though the majority of people have not paid this prior to final payment, so if that is the case, you would just cancel the air portion with no penalty).
  2. I am just curious why the UK announced they will not be vaccinating 12-15 year olds. Are they referring to vaccinating them with AZ? Canada has been vaccinating 12+ with Pfizer since April. Likely will be an even younger age bracket vaccinated in a couple of months as well with Pfizer here.
  3. Same areas as normal for ships (though I admit my knowledge of these areas are not likely as good as one who seeks them out). Part of the casino permits smoking. Also, the port side of the pool deck also permits smoking (the main reason we always try to walk or sit on the starboard side of the pool deck).
  4. That has been the pattern for the past 4-5 sailings. Please let us know how many passengers were on your sailing when you know and that will confirm that this pattern appears to be continuing. Enjoy the ghost ship. It feels very odd at first, but you get used to it after a couple of days.
  5. Only issue I had with them was when I was reaching out to touch deck 13 with a towel in my hand and the towel's proximity to the buttons selected every odd numbered floor beneath the 13...11, 9, 7, 5, 3
  6. You will have an awesome time. The number of passengers on board will be far below capacity (probably about 1/3). If you are on the 8-day sailing, you will have even less passengers than on the 6-day one. I will see them at the Flowrider then. If you are doing standup surfing, you have to stand tall and unweight the board and not carve hard over the seams or the board will catch terribly. The other thing I found to work was to try to have the board more perpendicular to the seam. If you have it close to parallel to the seam, more of your board will catch at the same time and you are more likely to be knocked off balance. I am sure I will see them both in March. See you on the 12th. We loved having just 6 of us on the Odyssey two weeks ago, but having a large group is great too so you are always running into people you know around the ship. I have learned though to not try to keep a large group together. Each individual small group should do their own things and if they align with others in the party, that is great, but to wait for 30 people to disembark the ship at once, or do an activity, will just cause frustration waiting because waiting for a large group like that will always have some late or some who forget things.
  7. Thanks. I loved how different the ship felt to all the other RCCL ships that I have been accustomed to. I am looking forward to sailing on the Odyssey again in March to see how it "feels" with more passengers on board. I have a big group of family and friends going March 12, 2022 (I lost count when we got over 60). Come join us.
  8. I booked it last Black Friday for $19.90 Canadian (or about $16 US at the time) for a cruise this past summer. I paid $30 Canadian (about $25 US) for it for this past cruise we were on a couple of weeks ago on the Odyssey. I probably had enough to cover the costs of it, but I did not save much over purchasing the drinks individually. It tells me that if I get it for less than that amount for our upcoming March cruise, I will consider it, but at anything over that, I will probably pass as well.
  9. I am not the one to ask. The only thing I can guarantee you about me and a casino is that I never come out ahead, so I have learned to stay out and leave gambling to those who are more skilled or luckier than I am. My only foray into the casino this entire trip was for one purpose, to say "Hi" to Chris and get the photo snapped to send back to a friend back home that asked me to take a photo with him. I am a non-smoker and the one time I went through the casino to reach the Music Hall, I vowed the smoke bothered me enough that I would not step foot in the Casino again.
  10. It does not have anything to do with pricing of the 8-day cruises. We sailed on her a couple of weeks ago with only 970 passengers on board. We were transferred over (along with many other passengers) from the Indy when she was moved to Texas. RCCL opened up our sailing and other summer sailings on the Odyssey (quite expensive as you mentioned and I agree since I paid about 1/5 the price they were asking for our cruise). RCCL closed off the summer cruises for sale and proclaimed them "sold out" not due to regular capacity, but due to meeting their pre-determined load capacities for safety and to comply with the CDC recommendations. Our in-laws wanted to go on the cruise with us but they kept checking back on the "sold out" cruise and it was not made available for purchase at any time during the months of July and August. I am sure others would have booked it as well if it had been up for sale. I also talked to a few senior crew members and they said that the CDC has placed more restrictive limits on passenger numbers permitted on cruises over 8 days in length. I had not heard this (though it would not surprise me since the CDC originally banned sailings over 7 days in length). I think that if you continue to monitor the number of passengers on the Odyssey you will notice the pattern of double the number of people on the 6 day sailings as the 8 day sailings. This has been the pattern thus far. What you say is true. Another thing I believe RCCL is doing is proving to the world (and particularly the CDC) that they can run a safe cruising experience and the cruise industry itself does not need to be demonized. By continually bringing more and more ships back on line and having no COVID outbreaks on their ships that have now been sailing successfully for 3 months in the Caribbean, RCCL is probably hoping both public perception and the CDC realize that cruising is as safe (or safer) than being on land under current protocols.
  11. We had an absolutely amazing time on the cruise. It sometimes feels strange reading from people in CruiseCritic or on Vlogs and then meeting them in person. Kind of like this chap I met on the cruise in the photo below. Best wishes on your continued Vlogging.
  12. Too bad we will just miss you. Add the 8-day and make it a B2B and we can say hello personally. If not, be sure not to break her before we board. Have a great cruise. Congratulations. Nothing like Central Park on the Oasis class ships pop out as a great background for photos on the Odyssey for a classy photo. Lots of great fun locations for some candid shots (playing the giant chess game, bouncing on SkyPad, in a bumber car, etc.) Maybe the massive LED wall art piece when you enter the MDR. The glass chandelier that hangs from deck 5 down to the dining room below would be neat but I think the railing behind you would get in the way of the perfect photo. If nothing is going on in Two70 lounge in the way of shows, that would be a nice place in the evening for a quiet drink. The Solarium is an amazing quiet place in the evening, but the bar there closes at 9 pm, so it is BYOB. Giovanni's Wine Bar would be nice too, but I never saw a single person in there our entire cruise. Many of these photos were taken in the middle of the day. Normally to get photos like this, I need to get up at 6 am to get them without people in them. I like showing the business of the cruise areas in my photos with lots of people as well, but there were so few people on the ship our cruise (970), the photos would have looked even stranger with only a few people in them.
  13. If you are on the March 12 sailing (which you may very well be since that is the Ontario March break week if Ford does not decide to delay it again), then we will see you on the Odyssey then. I have a group of about 60 of us booked for that sailing.
  14. Cabins. We stayed in three interior cabins on deck 11. Our cabin steward, August, was great (as they all are). We rarely spend much time in our cabins, so we prefer to spend our money on other activities during our cruise. The inside cabins were relatively spacious for two people in my mind. Someone else on Facebook thought they were too small though. The cabin was well laid out. The bed was comfortable but a bit too firm for my liking. There are two small closets, one on either side of the bed. We found them adequate for our clothing. Above the bed are two doors that fold up that you could store a lot of things in if you needed extra space, but they would not be that functional to access them. I also loved the USB charger in the side of the telephone beside the bed. I love interior cabins for how dark they are. I always sleep better on the ship than anywhere on land. One thing I did not like that I could not turn off (and neither Guest Services and housekeeping were unaware of this until I asked them about it), the light in your cabin just inside the main entrance does not turn off 100% when you turn out the lights. It remains on like a large 6" nightlight in the ceiling. Although this is likely done as a safety feature, I missed the total blackness of the interior cabin. The bathroom is nicely done. We liked the swinging shower door as opposed to the usual sliding one. The ladies also liked the bar in the shower to shave their legs.
  15. Now to where you find me much of my cruise...the Flowrider. The activities staff were all outstanding. Special callout to Sai and Mark for making the week so great. Being a brand new wave, I expected it to be the best of any on any of their ships. NOT!! In fact, in my opinion it is by far the worst wave I have rode. It is one of the new inflatable waves that they say are much safer. The problem lies in the fact that there are three large seams on the TOP of the wave surface (one in the middle and one just outside of each side of the crown and anchor emblem). For bodyboarding, these do not affect the ride much at all, but for stand up surfing they are horrible. Currently, only advanced riders can do stand up surfing due to crew not being permitted to hold your hand to teach you. Even advanced surfers will have trouble getting knocked off balance every time they cross one of these seams. It really makes stand up surfing much less enjoyable and much more dangerous. Once RCCL opens up stand up surfing to beginner riders again, these ridges are going knock people down so quickly that they will become very frustrated with it. As the week progressed, I got more used to methods to traverse the middle ridge, but it was still far less enjoyable than other wave surfaces.
  16. The sports deck is where I spend a huge amount of my cruise when onboard. iFly was great. The instructors there were excellent. Skypad was fun (though I found the straps around the bottom of my legs left me sore and were uncomfortable while doing the activity) - I actually had more fun doing Skypad without the VR goggles on. Surprisingly, your legs and forearms actually get tired and sore from jumping. I did not appreciate that they weigh you prior to jumping to see how many bands they need to attach to you. I did not mind this the first time, but later in the week after I had removed my band and had to get reweighed, they added an extra yellow band to my weight requirement. Thanks RCCL! Two years without cruising and I managed to lose a good amount of weight, but 6 days into my cruise I had regained 9 pounds of it. The rock climbing wall is nowhere near as high as on the Oasis class ships, nor as difficult. My daughter climbed all the routes set up on her first attempt the first day and did not revisit it all week, even though she usually spends many days here. Around the deck you will see deck games like soccer pool, shuffle board, giant chess, Twister free for playing. The running track is actually quite good on this ship. The bow of the ship actually offers an up and down hill parts which I found unique. It is also nice that it is a proper loop whereas some ships they have blocked off a portion of the loop to add more cabins.
  17. Two70 is an amazing space. The cafe there offers great breakfast and lunch options. This is where you get your amazing hot roast beef sandwiches you find at the Central Park Cafe on Oasis class ships. A wide assortment of wraps, bagel sandwiches, english muffin sandwiches, etc. are grilled fresh for you. You can also find another specialty coffee place here like in Cafe Promenade on other ships. The views offered in Two70 are incredible. In the evenings, the space turns into an entertainment masterpiece with 7.1 surround sound, incredible high definition screens, robotic synchronized screens, and live performers. We loved the performance of The Book (though we still do not really understand what the "story" was). The 270 experience is great to see prior to seeing The Book to see examples of what can be done in the space with the technology. I have to add that I did not take photos of the main show lounge, but Showgirls, Past, Present, and Future was far better than I had expected as well.
  18. I loved the colour tones RCCL has used on this ship. They look so much more muted and modern than older ships. Artwork is fabulous as always. The main dining room is different than what I am used to on other class ships because it is only 2 levels (unvaccinated eat on the 2nd level while vaccinated and MTD is on the 1st level). The 3rd level is the thruway from the Esplanade to Two70. Areas like the art gallery, Next Cruise desk, Giovanni's, and a watch store line this thruway. Giovanni's looked great but it was always empty during our cruise whenever we passed it.
  19. Our teens enjoyed the facilities of the teen club. There were not many teens/children on board for our cruise, so it always seemed empty. Most of the time my kids would go to meet people there and then take off and hang around the ship with them. They just used the area as a meeting place. They all said the crew working there though were great. One thing I kept trying to photograph was outdoor deck the teens have that overlooks the entire pool deck. It looked amazing from below, but you cannot access the door to this area if you are not a teen. I guess they encode teen's room cards so that only those cards can be used to access this area.
  20. The Seaplex is a great area. With an indoor sports court, no longer will those ping pong balls be flying 150 feet below into the ocean. Also used for indoor pickleball, basketball, zumba classes, bumper cars, etc, it is a great space. This is the only area of the ship where I found masks to be somewhat of an annoyance. Walking through the hallways and Esplanade with a mask did not bother me, but playing sports wearing a mask is something I would not bother to do. Roller skating and laser tag are not offered at this time due to the pandemic, but RCCL was offering free turns in their VR experience called Zone Zero. We were one of the first 40 people they told us ever to experience Zone Zero. We can also (unfortunately) say, we were the first people that Zone Zero ever broke down on. They handled it like champs and invited us back any other evening of the cruise to try it again (we did and it was beyond my expectations). Bumper cars are great, but my neck told me the next day that maybe I should avoid them for the rest of the cruise (along with a bruise on my knee - the metal where you step into the cars is not padded, so lesson learned, do not rest your leg against this when riding or you will end up with bruised legs). They offer bumper cars many times during the week and do this to different genres of music. Why they have to wreck "good" 80's tunes by mixing it and playing bad covers of songs though is beyond me. Playmakers was basically empty all week. The view from the windows on this level was amazing. Lots of great spaces to sit and hang out. Pool, darts, table shuffleboard (good luck with this on a moving ship) - more break than any curling ice you have ever witnessed), and foosball (although one piece already had his feet broken off on the 3rd cruise) were all free.
  21. I found the food in the Windjammer to be much improved. Normally I avoid eating in the Windjammer, but this cruise, I found myself there most days for breakfast and lunch (still closed at dinner time due to low occupancy on the ship). I personally loved how the crew serves you now and I hope they keep this up after the return to normal). Less wasted food and less people touching the food and utensils. Crew were swarming you as you sat down to offer you beverages and clean your used dishes. Instead of lots of pre-cooked food sitting under heat lamps, they have gone to cooking food at the stations, thus making it more fresh. Daily pasta and stir-fry stations are available. They added things like a crepe station one day and a fondue station another day. There were fresh baked breads just to the left as you entered. Next to that a station with 5 flavours of hard ice cream (in addition to the soft serve on the pool deck) with sundae toppings available. Next to that was the coffee station similar to what is in Cafe Promenade on most ships (Cafe Promenade on the Odyssey was really lacking serving only coffee and a few finger foods). Tucked to the left a bit more was a bar area that also served fresh squeezed OJ every morning (for a fee). There were also bakery stations on either side of the Windjammer. Their donuts were actually much improved. The lemon meringue were the best by far. The back half of the Windjammer was unused all week. Even with only every 2nd table occupied in the front half, there was always a ton of empty tables available. The Windjammer seems huge compared to other ships.
  22. The solarium on the Odyssey was by far my favourite of any RCCL ship. I never found it as hot as on the Oasis class ships. There were a ton of seating options on multiple tiers. A series of small tiered pools flowing from one level to another level, along with 4 hot tubs made this area my favourite. It was always peaceful and quiet and in the evening they had quiet music piped in the area.
  23. Waking up at 9 am on on a sea day, heading to the pool deck around 10 am and getting 5 chairs together on the front row by the pool with ease? That was a daily occurrence. I did not think I would like the colourful new stylings of the pool deck, but I actually prefer them to the ones on most RCCL ships. With two pools on the main pool deck, I can see them being very busy on sea days when at full capacity, but for our cruise, this was not the case. Four hot tubs surrounded the pools, one beside each pool and one deck above each pool overlooking it through an infinity wall. Very nice. The pool with the Northstar above it always seemed to offer shade for a good portion of the pool and the loungers surrounding it. The photos below were not taken on sea days and not taken during dinner hours. Most were taken around 4-5 pm on sea days. As for those neat looking round chairs, they were free (not like the cabanas around the pool you have to rent) and there were lots of them around deck 15.
  24. We were lucky enough to clear all the hurdles to sail on the Odyssey of the Seas for 8 glorious nights on August 14, 2021. As Canadians, we had extra hurdles to clear with entry into the US, re-entry into Canada, rapid testing to enter the US, PCR testing (thanks RCCL for doing this for free for us on our last evening of the cruise - great experience - 10 minutes for the 6 of us and printed results on our beds within 2 hours for our flight home to Canada). Other than the hurdles we had to clear to board the ship and all of the stress about whether we would be permitted to board the ship or not with ever-changing protocols, this cruise was absolutely fantastic. The crew were heads and shoulders beyond the best crew we have had the pleasure of sailing with. They were just as glad to be working and seeing us as we were to finally be seeing them once again. There were only 969 other passengers aboard the ship with me this time around, a far cry short of the 5,498 passengers she can hold at full capacity. The experience was surreal with so few guests. Although I missed having more passengers on board to make the ship atmosphere more vibrant, it was great to experience the ship this empty (and I cannot say enough positive things about RCCL and how safe we felt cruising with them). This was our first experience on a Quantum-class ship, so the layout took us a few days to get used to after previous cruises on Oasis, Freedom, and Navigator class ships. While I liked the Royal Esplanade, it always seemed dead (so few passenger aboard). Shops were empty, bars were relatively empty, specialty dining venues seemed empty as well.
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