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About kingoftheicedragons

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    Cool Cruiser

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    lego, land and ocean cruises
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  1. I don't like how this was phrased as quality versus quantity. I will say that I want as many options as possible. And to be honest with you, if I'm presented with five choices, all of which sound sort of boring, I'm already going to be disappointed, regardless of how good the food is. And, if I'm disappointed with my choices to begin with, I'm not going to have a favorable opinion, no matter how good the food is, I'm not going to leave going, "oh that was the best boring food I ever had." Just not going to happen. So in essence, if someone asked me how the food was after I got back from the cruise, my response would be "it was good, I guess." On the other hand, if I have food that I'm excited about--give me eight choices, and there is food that sounds interesting and different, and maybe three things that I think sounds good, I'm going to be happy about it, and that happiness/excitement is going to carry over onto my perception of the taste and quality of the food. If one of the things I choose one night isn't the greatest despite sounding good, chances of that happening every night is slim. Then when I get back and talk about the food, and think about the food following the cruise, I'm going to be much more upbeat about it, and talking up the food as one of my favorite parts of the cruise.
  2. I booked a 7-night cruise on Empress of the Seas as my first Royal Caribbean cruise, and I have some questions about things that I've found online about the ship and wonder if they are still true. I realize that Empress of the Seas is RCI's smallest ship and won't give me a full experience of what it's like to sail on Royal Caribbean. As someone said in another post on here, I believe, "they do things a bit different on Empress" from the rest of the line. When I did a search on the forum, the results don't come back chronologically, making it difficult to find the most recent posts on the ship. So here goes, 1) Does the 7-night cruise have a formal night? I saw articles that said no formal nights, but was that for all cruises, or just the shorter ones? 2) What about theme nights? I've seen people say that theme nights are pretty hit-or-miss on Royal Caribbean, but any experience with this on Empress/ 3) Brunch bloody mary's and mimosas, are these every day? Are they only in the MDR or can you get them at Windjammer as well? 4) Since the ship only has the MDR, Windjammer, and Chops, is the pizza part of Windjammer? 5) If Windjammer closes at 9, does that mean that there would be no food available after 9 unless we did room service? 6) What about drinks--I've heard some ships don't have the lemonade and tea available, does Empress? And is that also in Windjammer, so after 9 pm, you don't have access to drinks? I'm sure I have other questions, but can't think of them right now. Any other info you can provide on Empress of the Seas is appreciated as well. Thanks.
  3. You still aren't giving us a lot to go off of, so here are what I think a generic first time cruiser might enjoy (allowing both some beach/water sport days and some more cultural days): Carnival Breeze out of Port Canaveral (Cocoa Beach, fly into Orlando): Amber Cove, St. Thomas, San Juan, Grand Turk Carnival Horizon out of Miami (8 day, more expensive than other cruises): Grand Turk, San Juan, St. Kitts, St. Maarten But without knowing more about what you like, it's tough to come up with a good option for you. My first cruise was to Ocho Rios, Costa Maya, and Grand Cayman. I loved it, but I don't know if I would recommend that to a generic first time cruiser. Likewise, I don't know if I would recommend Belize or Roatan to a first timer, but many people love these ports (myself included).
  4. I was just looking at cruises out of Florida and trying to find an itinerary that I would be happy with. While I ended up booking on Royal Caribbean, all of their cruises out of Florida were more expensive than Carnival. All of Carnival's cruises were priced at under $600 for a 7-night cruise. Royal was more than that. I went with Royal because I had been on essentially all of Carnival's Caribbean itineraries and wanted something different so was willing to pay a little more. Keep in mind, we always book in the 9-12 month out time frame. If you're looking for something outside of the window that we book in, prices between the two lines may differ and yes, RCI may be cheaper at other times.
  5. I am generally a Carnival cruiser who has now booked RC for the first time. I looked at Royal's loyalty perks, they don't seem that much different from Carnival's. In fact, there was at least one perk on Carnival that I enjoy--the free laundry--that I didn't see listed in Royal's. I am glad you mentioned the clientele. I have been on 12 Carnival cruises of various lengths from 4 days up to 13 days. I am not someone who likes to "party and get drunk" nor have I really noticed this behavior on Carnival cruises. I think this is a stereotype that people who have never sailed on Carnival use for a variety of reasons.
  6. If you're a new cruiser, I have to say, there is probably no bad destination in the Caribbean for you. There are some ports that are better than others, and some ports, people are just plain tired of. I agree with others that at least something else to go off of would be helpful. What's your comfort level in the areas that you want to go to? Do you want to feel like you could be in the United States but not be? Or do you want to get a sense of life in a third world country? You will find both extremes in the Caribbean, and everything in between. Do you want a relaxing vacation or do you want to be doing things? Are you more into beaches and water sports, or more into cultural immersion (as much as you can get on a cruise) and history? People can give you their favorite islands and ships, but they might be for you. Do you want a large ship with lots of amenities? Or a smaller, more intimate ship? Do you want the newest features on the ships? As a new cruiser, there is a lot to keep in mind, which is why almost anything would be fine for you since it will all be new.
  7. First off, I don't cruise for perks. I cruise because I like to cruise, and I cruise Carnival because I'm generally happy with them, and to an extent, because I'm familiar with the cruises and it's easiest to stay with a line that I'm familiar with. But, I just booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean, and just for fun, I thought I'd look at their loyalty perks. I've heard from people that Carnival has terrible perks compared to other lines. I honestly have to say, Carnival's perks look to be almost identical, and even a little better than Royal Caribbean's. At Platinum (30 points), you get Priority check-in (don't see how it's priority if everyone who has sailed with them at least once before will get this). private lounge (that again, it seems almost everyone gets) lapel pin signature top tier event. They do have an emerald level between platinum and diamond, but let's jump to Diamond, which is the level that I would be at if I had started with RCI instead of Carnival. Private lounge at embarkation...it doesn't mention priority check-in for this level, but considering every other level below it has it, I don't think you'd lose it. top tier event lapel pin a bottle of water and snacks a milestone gift for every 140 points (so I wouldn't even be at that level yet) chef's amenity nightly event with complimentary drinks. Diamond lounge on select ships. Once you get up to 175 points, you get some other good choices, like the ability to pick a bonus gift on cruises longer than 3 nights, etc. So to me, it seems like it takes a lot longer to accrue perks on Royal Caribbean, and really very few are all that dissimilar to Carnival's. So I'm curious as to why people say that Carnival has terrible loyalty perks.
  8. Thanks, this helps. I hadn't paid attention to the ship when I was looking at the itinerary, because honestly, I'm still at the point where I consider itinerary, price, and schedule before the ship. I went back and looked, and it looks like it is the Rotterdam that does the itinerary that we're considering.
  9. Thank you all for your input. I have enjoyed all of your opinions. I think we are currently leaning more towards our other option (a RC cruise that includes Cuba) currently. I don't care about pool parties that much, or late night entertainment...we usually are in bed by 10 or 11 anyway. But maybe I should say more of what we enjoy on the cruises thus far and if they would be available to us on HAL... Nightly main theatre shows Comedy club karaoke piano bar finding a small band performing music from the 60s to the 90s movies on deck (and if so, what type of movies are they)
  10. If you were considering a cruise to either Guatemala or Cuba, which would you choose and why?
  11. I'm on my phone and can't find the search forum feature. I am looking at an itenary on HAL that includes the Guatemala stop. I normally cruise Carnival and Norwegian a couple of times. What type of differences can I expect to find between these lines and HAL? We are in our 40s and my dw is concerned there may not be much to do on the ship.
  12. They did seem to do self-assist differently in Long Beach than I was used to as well. As a Platinum, we were told to go to the Black Pearl dining room by 7:30 or something like that. On our way there, they actually started calling self-assist by deck (starting with the top and bottom of the ship) before that time. We were told once we made it to the dining room that we could just disembark, but even though we were platinum, there were some who weren't platinum that were able to get off the ship before us.
  13. So excited for you. I love port intensive cruises.
  14. We just got off of the Splendor a couple of weeks ago. We stayed on Lido deck, so I can't comment specifically on the rooms and areas that you are looking at. I would probably, in general, avoid an area that is over the casino. The arcade is open 24/7 as it is on other ships, but is definitely going to be a lot quieter than the casino. When it comes to sound, I would avoid being the atrium on any deck. The music and activities held in the atrium bar on deck 3 was fairly loud--a lot of times they would have the music trivia party there in the evenings, which are fun but it was still quite loud at the atrium on Lido. In fact, I don't know if this was done by the employees or people sailing, but the doors that separate the cabin area from the open atrium area (you know, the ones that are closed when you first board with the signs telling you not to enter because your cabins aren't ready) were closed every night to keep the sound away from the cabins. As we walked down the hall away from the atrium, we could still hear the music almost all the way to our cabin at the front of the ship.
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