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Russ Lomas

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Everything posted by Russ Lomas

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. They were absolutely fine with the printed PDF of our vaccination records. The agent seemed a bit confused when he first saw them (likely he had never seen any from Ontario before). He looked at the copy with the details of the 2nd dose and then asked about the 1st dose record because he had to record the date of the 1st dose down. That is when I pulled out the copy of the 1st dose to show him. I was just curious for others here if they would only request the copy of the 2nd dose or not.
  9. Prior to our cruise a week ago on the Odyssey, I was reading how all the passengers in the US were getting free COVID tests at pharmacies in the US, either through their insurance or paid for by the government. Up here in Canada, that was never an option. Even with multiple insurance plans, tests are not covered for us. The ones conducted by our government blank our much of the personal data on the results, so they are not good enough to use for travel purposes. Canadians must pay for their COVID tests for travel purposes. That said, currently the required rapid tests for travel purposes are easy to come by up here in Canada and you can get one for $40-$60 Canadian (about $30-$45 US) and get the results back in a couple of hours.
  10. That would have been horrible. We talked about if one of us tested positive, would we even be permitted to cruise. I do not know the answer to that. We decided that if one of us tested positive, we would have to cancel the cruise. RCCL has stated that if one of your party tests positive, your party can cancel and get a full refund. Our flights both down to FLL with Air Canada and back to DTW with Delta were both offering the option to cancel for a future credit. Our hotel stays in Florida were cancelable as well. We were tested on the Sunday and all tested negative, 3 days prior to our rapid test done just before boarding the plane to Florida, so we were pretty sure that nobody would test positive 3 days later, but we could not be 100% sure. It was nerve-wracking waiting for the results to come in.
  11. There is always a chance that the cruise could be cancelled. I felt the exact same way right up until we boarded the Odyssey just over a week ago. Now that I have returned from our (amazing) cruise, I feel 100% confident in how RCCL is managing their ships to eliminate/minimize the chance of getting COVID on the ship due to sailing with lower numbers, physical distancing, masking rules, sanitization, etc. I can almost guarantee your cruise will not be cancelled due to a COVID outbreak on the ship. Rules are constantly changing however, so restrictions will likely be somewhat different for your cruise than they are today. Have a wonderful and well-deserved vacation on the Ovation.
  12. I was REALLY worried about this as well. I will include the email I received from Mr. Bayley's office below to further alleviate your stress (agent name blanked out though). Hello Russ,Thank you for your patience. It’s my pleasure to assist you on behalf of our Executives. Please accept my sincerest apology for not responding sooner.I am sorry for any concern regarding the protocols for your cruise on the Odyssey of the Seas sailing on August 14, 2021. As long as both vaccines are from the same manufacturer, then the doses can be more than 42 days apart. You will be considered vaccinated.Russ, thank you again for having contacted the Executive Office of Royal Caribbean International. We look forward to welcoming you onboard soon.Sincerely,T****** G****Royal Guest Experience ManagementExecutive Team
  13. I am from Ontario and just disembarked the Odyssey two days ago. I have posted detailed info on vaccination documentation, and how thoroughly they checked it at the port, in a couple of other threads here under the Canadian Cruisers section. Check those out for detailed answers that you are looking for. (I just do not want to retype it all here again)
  14. I just wanted to let you and everyone else know that you do NOT need the watermarked copy of the vaccination from Ontario. We cruised last week with the regular printed copy of the PDF file that we received via email from the Ontario Government. I tried showing a copy of just the 2nd dose page and the agent said that he had to record the date of each dose, so he insisted on seeing the receipt for the 1st dose as well (which I had printed separately and took just in case they asked for it - which they did). He also looked very closely to ensure that I did not mix vaccines.
  15. DO NOT WORRY! You will be fine with doses more than 42 days apart as long as they were both Pfizer or Moderna. I had this same worry and expressed it here in a thread about a month ago. Lots of us wrote to Michael Bayley (CEO) and we received personal responses directly from his office saying we were fine to sail even if we were beyond the 42 days mentioned. I can confirm that this is true since all six of us in my family were vaccinated more than 42 days apart and we just returned from the Odyssey this past Sunday (it was amazing by the way). They looked VERY closely at our documentation for our vaccinations and recorded both the dates of both shots and the type of vaccine into their systems. They later checked our documents a 2nd time as we made the final clearance to board the ship (just in front of where the ship photographers try to take your boarding photo). You will not trick them by presenting questionable documentation, so do not even try. As long as you did not mix vaccines or use AZ, you will be clear to sail with RCCL. Hopefully, those who had mixed vaccines or got AZ will be cleared to sail soon, since that is many Canadians.
  16. Being just back from a cruise on the Odyssey last week, I wanted to share how the PCR testing worked for us personally on the ship that we used to fly home. I know that Don from Ottawa runs a travel Blog and he had a horrible time coming home from his Celebrity trip a week before we cruised since his test was lost and it took him another 5 days or so to make it home (flight cancellations for him as well). Our experience could not have gone any better. We went to Guest Services on day 7 of our 8 day cruise. We booked PCR tests with them for the six of us at 6 pm on the following (day 8 - our last full day of our cruise). At 5:55 pm we headed down to medical on deck 2. The door was closed, so I used the phone there and called them. They opened the door 2 minutes later. I was surprised how big the medical area on the Odyssey was once the door opened. 10 minutes later, all 6 of us were done our tests. It was the first time for 4 of the 6 of us getting a PCR test. It was nowhere near as bad as I had expected. We went to our dinner in the MDR at 6:45 pm and by the time we were back in our cabins at 8 pm, there were sealed envelopes sitting on our beds with the results in them. They provided a 2-page document that was very detailed compared to the test results I received back in Ontario from the government and the rapid test I paid for with Switch Health to board the ship. We were nervous opening them to see the results, but looking back, if they knew we were positive, they would have been tracking us down on the ship. When I had to fill in the ArriveCan app info to return to Canada, it asked what country the PCR test was performed in. I did not know how to answer, so I chose USA. When I presented the copies of our tests to the Canadian Border Agent when crossing the border to Canada the next day, he seemed very confused when I told him the test was done at sea and not actually in a country, and that was not an option on the ArriveCan app. I am guessing they had never seen a PCR test done at sea before. After a 5-minute chat with his supervisor, we were cleared and back in Canada. To any vaccinated Canadian considering going on a cruise in the near future with RCCL, here is my recommendation... GO!!! The only reason I would not recommend someone to go is if you are the type of person who cannot handle the stress of needing to know everything in advance. Rules changed constantly prior to the cruise, it was nerve-wracking waiting for the test results to come back prior to sailing, ports could be changed at a moment's notice, hurricane season is upon us (we were very lucky and avoided 3 tropical storms that occurred in our area during our 8-day cruise). Do not worry about masking rules. Do not worry about your safely while on the ship (EVERY time we touched our cabin door handle it was still wet from being wiped down). The crew were so excited to have all of us passengers back aboard, likely even more happy than we were to be aboard. Our ship was only 20% occupied. Crew outnumbered guests. Service was beyond what you could possibly imagine. The energy of everyone, passengers and crew, was sky-high.
  17. Ditto. We traveled to Fort Lauderdale on August 11th and sailed on the Odyssey on August 14th. We disembarked on August 22nd and flew home to London, Ontario today (the 23rd). Everything you said above is almost identical to what we encountered and did. We flew back to Detroit and I hired a taxi company to drive us across to Windsor. I do not know if UBER would count or not. They had to have a valid taxi license to be considered an essential service and permitted to drive us into Canada. I do not know what UBER drivers have as proof in that regard. One warning, our driver told the Canada Border agent that he was dropping us and then getting a bite to eat before heading back to the US. They denied him entry because he is only permitted to drop his passengers, NOTHING else, then return to the US. They permitted us to get out of the vehicle and walk about 100 yards to exit the border crossing area where I had arranged for a buddy to pick us up.
  18. I was one of those who got moved from the Independence to the Odyssey. RCCL did this change for us and we incurred no additional costs since they changed our ship on us. One thing that annoyed me was I had purchased the Refreshment package at a great deal on the Black Friday sale for use on the Independence. When RCCL moved my reservation, they refunded what I paid for my Refreshment package to my credit card and I had to repurchase the Refreshment package to use on the Odyssey cruise last week at a rate that was almost double per day. I had read on CruiseCritic a couple of people said I could call RCCL and request the difference in what I paid to my original cost in OBC to use on the ship. I did not bother to do that however. Well, when I boarded the Odyssey last week, RCCL had already issued a credit for the total difference in the package cost to my cabin in the form of an OBC. This was totally unexpected and not initiated by me at all. Well done RCCL. And by the way, the cruise on the Odyssey last week was INCREDIBLE!
  19. I do not think I will have data access to share info with you here before we return but if they have free wifi in the terminal when we board, I will try to post back here before we actually board the ship but after we clear check-in. As we all know from our calls to RCCL, you can call 3 times, talk to three different people and get three different answers. Even if the agent I get only looks at the 2nd dose sheet, it is not a guarantee a different agent would do things differently.
  20. Here is the test result I received with my given named blanked out by myself. I was surprised there was minimal personal info on it. Obviously the purpose is to just inform you of your test result and not to be used for any other purpose. We had this done to confirm we tested negative before visiting an old age home.
  21. If you are getting your test done on where we did switch health at Pearson airport, you actually have to leave the airport and go to a parking garage. They have a shuttle that takes you there and they are set up in the lobby of the parking garage inside to do the test. If you are getting your test done on where we did switch health at Pearson airport, you actually have to leave the airport and go to a parking garage. They have a shuttle that takes you there and they are set up in the lobby of the parking garage inside to do the test. You can then take the shuttle back to the airport terminal and by the time you get there you will likely have your results. Doing it this way for you though would be You can then take the shuttle back to the airport terminal and by the time you get there you will likely have your results. Doing it this way for you though would be Stressful. I would recommend getting your test done at Shoppers Drug Mart before heading to the airport if possible. It was not possible for us since we flew to Florida three days before our cruise
  22. Not really. It would make up for some of those days we lost due to cancellations. Now if they would only give loyalty credit (at double points of course) for those extra days we would be forced to “endure” on the ship…if it happened. One can always dream, right?
  23. I can confirm 100% that you CANNOT use a negative PCR test done by the government of Ontario to board your flight to the US. I had one done to visit my father in an old age home and uploaded it to Air Canada to see what happened. A couple if hours later I received an email saying it was rejected because my name was incorrect on the document. The government blanks out your surname on the document when you log in, so that is not acceptable to use. I had already known I would be required to pay for a rapid test a few days later to board my ship tomorrow, so I had that test done by Switch Health at the airport and Air Canada accepted that one when I submitted it.
  24. We paid for the rapid test at Switch Health at the Pearson airport at 5 am Wednesday and used it to board our Air Canada flight Wednesday morning and will be using the same test to board our cruise tomorrow morning.
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