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About drrich2

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  1. There are a couple of problems inherent to this. 1.) Science doesn't give the right answer, it just informs policy. Science doesn't give us the moral value of a human life or a healthy economy. It also doesn't always provide the clear guidance we might with. Absent impractical scientific research like a large study with multiple cruises under proposed guidelines and follow up testing for case incidence and 'super spreader' events, if any...we're reduced to asking some scientists (many of whom have probably never been on a cruise and just read about them) to make a guess. That kind of guessing isn't good enough for drug approvals. My point is, science and scientists don't always provide a clear right answer; they provide some data (often speculative) about the options. 2.) Old adage - where you stand on an issue depends on where you sit. The top infectious disease experts and the CDC basically function to mitigate and prevent the spread of serious infectious disease. That is their priority. That is an important consideration...but it is not the only important consideration. If I said Trump will take the advice of economists and business experts, imagine what alarm bells would go off in your minds. Well, a perspective and resultant policy informed solely to professional disease prevention people can be just as bad. We need both, not one or the other. Yes, I recently read an estimated 16 trillion dollars, triple the impact of the great recession. This in a nation with a staggeringly immense national debt and horrendous annual spending deficits...before the pandemic hit. Where we already read of the plight of Millennials due to the economic hit of the great recession. Many service sector workers such as restaurant staff (and owners!) lost their jobs (and businesses!), and there's growing alarm at how job loss selectively impacts women (I suspect childcare without in-person school is a big factor). If (and that's a big 'if') a vaccine is approved this year, it'll likely be well into 2021 before there's widespread immunization, the success rate won't be perfect, and people will still be asked to wear masks and socially distance for months to come, judging from what Dr. Fauci has said before. If cruising can't resume till the most conservative 'nobody can get sick' set are satisfied, the mainstream industry whose product we know and love may be driven bankrupt. Get the word out so people can make informed decisions and the industry put prudent protocol measures in place...then let the public decide for themselves. P.S.: And let's be clear, politics and clout are a big part of this. If the survival of Carnival, Royal Caribbean and NCL were replaced with Amazon, Wal-mart and Microsoft, the CDC would suddenly decide the science could allow reopening.
  2. Age is not 'just a number.' While the rate and extent of progressive debilitation varies widely, it's worth considering your senior travelers' cognitive and physical endurance. They don't need to do everything, and having a good range of entertainment and dining potentially appealing to a very broad demographic is a wonderful benefit of Oasis-class ships. Listening to the kids talking about how much fun they're having will add to the seniors' enjoyment. Cognitively, if they've 'slowed down' or gotten a smidge 'senile,' you may need to review the day's options and break it down into a simplified menu of choices (rather than just hand them a daily schedule to figure out). Having to schedule show times and speciality restaurants and work around excursion times can be a drag. Physically, a much larger ship does mean longer walks to get around, but not hugely so. If their rooms are near elevators that's a help. Unfortunately, the MDR and buffet tend to be at the back of the ship and the theater for shows in the front, so wherever they are, there will be some walking. Those not using scooters can start early and take breaks. When I move through the ship, I like to pass through Central Park of the Royal Promenade. Royal's big ships have a pretty easy-to-navigate layout. From memory, the high points: 1.) Deck 5 - Royal Promenade. Like a quaint Main Street in a walkable small city. Shops and places to eat. 2.) Deck 7 - read of ship, the Boardwalk. Outdoor 'neighborhood' with a carousel, restaurants and shops, the the AquaTheater where impressive diving shows are done. Fun for all ages. 3.) Deck 8 - Central Park. Surprisingly lush, uncrowded planted space to stroll through leisurely, usually uncrowded, open to the sky. 1 - 3 Are good for leisurely strolls or sitting around chatting and people watching. 4.) Lower front of ship - main theaters for evening shows. 5.) Rear of ship - Deck 16 or so main buffet, lower decks main dining rooms. 6.) Deck 14, front - Adventure Ocean - the kids' club area. 7.) Deck 15/16 or so - the outdoor topside pool/hot tub/lounge chairs/bars area. Where you get soft serve frozen yogurt on a cone. Often with a kid's water 'park' type entertainment area. Apologies if I got a deck wrong. If you learn that 'mini-guide,' I think you'll expand from it to understand an Oasis-class ship layout nicely.
  3. It's time to let those who want to cruise, cruise. If the cruising shutdown remains in effect until the most risk-average are satisfied, there won't be a cruise industry. If a vaccine is approved this year in the U.S. (no guarantee), large scale roll out will take months. We already tolerate large-scale congregations (hello, Black Lives Matter protests!) elsewhere in the U.S. 'Safe' is relative. Wait for cruising to be 'safe,' and you will never go. There will always be risk. Choose your threshold and make your personal decision while respecting the liberty of others to do the same.
  4. Thank you. I did some checking on a summer 2021 Symphony reservation, cancelled and rebooked a 100 print or digital photo package (saving about $15 I think) and went ahead and booked a Voom Surf & Stream - 4 device internet package at around 65% off IIRC, which is probably about the best price I'll get a crack at. Thanks again!
  5. Curious about that...have you looked at the estimated percentage risks of serious (possibly lasting) debilitation or death from COVID-19 for you (gender, age group, medical comorbid conditions if any, etc...)? This virus is something that you are fairly likely to eventually get exposed to. Now, considering how low risk a vaccine has to be even for liability reasons (e.g.: the drug company doesn't want to be driven into bankruptcy by lawsuits), have you somehow deduced that the expected vaccine is quite likely more dangerous to you than COVID-19? Sounds like something interesting math.
  6. From what I've read of the anticipated and hoped for vaccine, be mindful it will likely be a 2 shot series and may turn out to be something people get 'boosters' of over time, and it's not likely to be 100% effective. We shouldn't assume everyone it works on is incapable of spreading the virus. One expert was concerned once a vaccine is out, some people will ditch other precautions (e.g.: masks and social distancing), when he wants both. What if masks and social distancing practices prevent more spread than the vaccine does? Then people relying solely on the vaccine, though it work, might cause an uptick in cases. A vaccine approved will take an extended time to roll out in widespread fashion, and not everyone will agree to it once finally available. My point is, the vaccine (if we get one in a timely fashion) will be a 'shades of gray' affair, far from a 'cure all,' and will not make cruising fully 'safe' and care free. Cruising may not 'snap back to tomorrow' just because everyone has a paper saying they got the shot.
  7. A range of factors are in play. Whenever you get a diverse grouping of people, in terms of education, career, income level, what they value, background, cultural norms, etc..., you will see people run afoul of each other's sensibilities. It's not an issue of right/wrong, more a matter of how you react to seeing people say or do what sounds ridiculous to you. Imagine how a homeless person might react to seeing someone walk out of a country club, blow his nose in a $20 bill and toss it in the trash. I book inside staterooms (had a Jr. Suit honeymoon, had a balcony a couple other times) and always fly coach (had 1st class once years ago). Spending double the cruise cost for a bit larger room, bathtub and balcony (yes, double cruise points, too) Jr. Suite sounds nuts to me. And any talk of 'Star Suites' makes me want to roll my eyes and think 'must be nice to have money to burn' (or 'are you nuts if you don't, and still spend that much on such a thing?). But if I discuss this with my wife at a table at a restaurant, perhaps our server listening in is a single mother working hard for a bit above subsistence living, and as she walks away she rolls her eyes and thinks 'must be nice.' One person's splurge is another's ridiculous extravagance. People should not be rude or insulting to each other, jealousy is called the green-eyed monster and covetousness made the 10 Commandments for reason, and your point is well-taken. But diverse people mixed together will react in their minds to what they see others doing, and occasionally, a little of that reaction leaks out.
  8. I've done Curacao, St. Croix, Cozumel and Bonaire (scuba diving was a factor in my choices). I linked you trip reports in case it's of interest. The St. Croix scene has changed a bit since due to hurricanes. Enjoyed them all. Decide if you need a lot of 'cruise ship excursion' type offerings, or like a laid back, quaint island you can drive and saunter around, whether you need sandy beach or to entertain kids, etc...
  9. Pretty frugal. Wife & I did a Junior Suite our honeymoon, and we've done balcony before. My approach: 1.) Fly coach, preferably on Southwest with 2 free bags/person if possible. 2.) Inside stateroom. Ain't paying a few hundred for a window when I can stare at the ocean for free up top, several hundred for a balcony (ditto; the wind in my hair's free up top, too) or a Junior Suite (over double the cost for the cruise!). Have paid a little extra for promenade inside staterooms so wife and kid could people watch. 3.) Neither I nor the 7-year old drink alcohol; wife might have 2 booze drinks or so the whole week. We get the soda package...and I milk those freestyle machines hard. 4.) We do ship excursions, and see/experience things we otherwise wouldn't in a nicely packaged trip with capable handlers. Worth the money. 5.) We do souvenirs - nothing majorly over the top, but we collect magnets, keychains and thimbles for the kid, and occasionally a carved wooden figurine or similar. 6.) We do some speciality dining. Really good food, diversify the experience, I like to show my wife some extra special things. The kid could care less. 7.) Our child loves the arcade. I do not love paying for it, but as we're blessed with the means, I load her up some gaming money. 8.) Yes, we did one of those 'build a bear' things, and waste money in the Boardwalk candy store. We've also done Johnny Rockets before...as wife liked it, I didn't see the point. 9.) We do the unlimited digital (have added prints before but seldom use) photo package and I aim to harass almost every photographer we see. So I aim to avoid blowing several hundred + on things like sitting on a balcony, and to avoid 'death by a thousand cuts' hemorrhaging money too freely, but we enjoy ourselves.
  10. I don't know, though I'd like to. I'm posting to mention on a prior cruise, we took an excursion that morning, and staff got us and our luggage off the ship and to the tour bus early, and the bus dropped us off at the airport. It wasn't was easy and convenient as Luggage Valet, and you need your flight departure time and excursion restrictions to line up, but this might still be worth your while. We did an Everglades airboat tour, and visited a place with an alligator show as part of it. Also makes one more memory for your vacation.
  11. Agreed; people have to look at what offerings they use and compare against price and alternatives. I see the alcoholic drink packages on Royal Caribbean cruises are pretty expensive; I assume that cost is averaged out and baked into the Sandal's price. We have a little girl, so we got some use out of Adventure Ocean. Not much gym, no fitness classes, did use the pools (again, mostly due to the kid). I'm not knocking A.I. I have been put off by prices (despite the seemingly constant 'big sales' on their websites) at Sandals and Beaches compared to cruises, but I'm glad our little crew plus my mother-in-law got to enjoy a week at Sunscapes Resort Curacao. It may be one of those things worth trying at least once to see for yourself how you like it. There are actually people out there who don't like cruising!
  12. Many years ago, in a lab experiment for a class, I had to do this; take a swab (like a very large Q-trip), insert it through a nostril all the way back till it hit the back of my throat (to collect a sample for growing some bacteria in a Petri dish). When the swab hit the back (my nasopharynx), it triggered a pretty potent hit of nausea. I'm guessing this also happens when people get a nasopharyngeal swap to test for COVID-19? In other news, for people who don't drink alcohol, Sandals might be less appealing since in effect you're paying for it whether you drink it or not?
  13. People with kids may like to know about Beaches, which is basically a similar setup that allows and entertains kids. Fewer locations. Never stayed at a Sandals. Did enjoy Sunscapes Resort Curacao. Land-based offers more opportunity to experience and get to know a specific destination, but that requires getting off the reservation, so to speak. On Curacao, I scuba dove with Ocean Encounters, the kids' club took our daughter to the Sea Aquarium and we went as a family another day, we did an ATV excursion, spent some time in the capital, stopped at Mambo Beach...it was nice. Also enjoyed an 8-day 'week' on St. Croix, which was not A.I. But I think cruising (I'm an inside state room cheapie) would've been less expensive than either. Richard.
  14. On the issue of shut down duration in America, many businesses and the broader society have a situation a bit analogous to the cruise industry's. The U.S. already had an immense national debt I don't think any of us expect to ever get paid. It had enormous annual spending deficits rapidly escalating the debt, with no expectation of fiscal responsibility to stop escalating the debt in sight. We were likely nearing the end of an uncommonly long bull market with expectations of a recession soon by some...and that's all before COVID-9 hit. Business shutdowns and closures, widespread unemployment, a federal government already terribly 'in the hole' sending out hordes of stimulus checks, huge drops in tax revenues for cities trying to figure out how to fund services (you know, schools, police, pensions, etc...?). People delaying getting health care for problems, routine vaccinations, screenings for cancer and such...there's expected to be a body count from that. I've seen in other online discussions a sense people who want to hasten opening back up are portrayed as ignorant (e.g.: don't understand how serious it is, don't think it'll happen to them) or 'selfish' (e.g.: not in a high-risk group so figure it won't be too bad, and if they spread it and hurt or kill others, too bad). That's not always accurate. There are a range of views on when and how opening back up should take place. Beyond the cruise industry, I question how long shut downs and related restrictions can go on if we don't get a vaccine. Much of the United States is 'voting with its feet' and opening back up...with a cost in illness and lives. Whichever side of the issue (or whatever shade of gray) each of us favors, this is a hard matter for all. And the consequences (e.g.: health, economic, social disruption) run deep.
  15. I don't think it'll be after 2021. Not sure how they'd survive. Of course, it's not all up to them, but here's the thing... There is a limit to how much 'lock down' and social distancing the American people will tolerate before many decide to get back to living, and some will get hurt or die. That's not as callous as it sounds. First off, though much of human history, people didn't have the luxury of doing big shut downs. You got the crop in or you starved, hunted or didn't eat, etc... It's a sign of how blessed we are that we could shut down so much to flatten the curve, spreading out severe cases to aid hospitals and other care givers in dealing with the sick, and giving researchers time to learn more - such as what helps and what doesn't, that proneness to form blood clots and 'cytokine storm' immune system overreaction are factors, etc... And we're still hoping for a good vaccine soon. But we'll only wait so long. At some point, more and more people (and the political will they generate) will build to 'take back' what we've lost. And there will be a jump in cases and increased deaths if it comes to that (as in the news lately). I hope we get a good vaccine and things don't have to get so dire. But I don't see the American people retaining their current willingness to comply with pandemic-related restrictions clear through next year. Even with bankruptcy, can Royal and Carnival survive no cruising till 2022? I'm guessing resumption Spring 2021.
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