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About drrich2

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    Recreational Scuba Diving
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  1. Been on Adventure and Allure 3 times each. It's a good ship; both are. Adventure has the water slides and Splash-away Bay. On Voyager class, I miss Central Park, Boardwalk, the Aquatheater dive show and the sheer number of specialty restaurants vs. Oasis class. But I like that Voyager class can dock in many more ports, opening up a great range of itinerary options. I would not call it 'meh.' I did find it felt a tad more, em, 'tranquil' compared to Allure (mainly speaking of the vibe I got off the Royal Promenade); so I think bigger and newer did translate to a bit more 'energy' on the Allure. Look at your cost difference and the ports on offer. Now, ask yourself how big of a deal the Aquatheater show, Central Park and Boardwalk ambiance and specialty restaurant options matter to you. Pay more, get more. Or not.
  2. Glad you've had a good time. Adventure of the Seas is a good ship; wife and I have been on it 3 times, our daughter 2 of those, and it was the 1st ship for all of us (honeymoon for wife & I, then started kiddo on it), so it's not sentimental attachment. Never head of an 11-day cruise option on it; that's really nice. Wouldn't work for us in Sept. with our girl in school. Interested to see what you think of the port stops on that itinerary; we've only done it for Southern Caribbean itineraries. The one cruise we did to the north east, a Caribbean cruise out of Newark, NJ aboard Explorer of the Seas, there was rough weather and my sea sickness-prone wife probably wouldn't go for that again. That said, how are sea conditions? You guys feeling any 'motion of the ocean?' And how's the pizza on the Royal Promenade? That was a downer when I was last aboard, IIRC.
  3. If you give someone something (e.g.: inherited Diamond status as a minor), then take it away, that's going to create ill will and 'push' young cruisers to other brands. 1st Off, many 'legal' adults (18 years old) are still in high school, and/or 'functional children' (e.g.: economically dependent on parents, who likely paid for their cruise). Suddenly telling them after years of diamond lounge access they can't go isn't the way to get loyalty. My wife and I were 1 7-day cruise away from hitting Diamond level. Our little girl has been on 6 7-day cruises; she's whatever 42 points gets you (we're interior stateroom folks). The knowledge that we're advancing toward diamond level encourages me to keep booking Royal, despite the temptation to go sample NCL or Carnival's products. The idea we can set our daughter up as 'diamond for life' is that much more incentive. Absent the loyalty programs, there are enough similarities amongst lines many people 'line jump' back and forth as it is. Maintaining goodwill in the current loyalty program arrangement sounds like good business sense for Royal. Richard.
  4. Love it! Wife & I have a strong-willed 6-year old. We're 'practicality-minded.' That said, did you try a specialty restaurant? Granted your MDR experience should've been better, but I've enjoyed the specialty restaurants on some ship - really good. It is a bummer when encountering someone whose, how shall I say this, 'hospitality performance could use some work?' That said, I know many of these people come from places that, by American standards, are poor. Parents are on multi-month assignments and don't get to see their kids, hours are often long, I doubt the pay is great (witness they take care to hit at least one foreign port to comply with the Jones Act and avoid falling under American minimum wage law, etc...), and yet this is presumably the best opportunity they can get. And, from what I see and hear on ships and on this forum, they are driven by management to get excellent scores. One MDR waiter years ago said with Royal Caribbean, 'good enough' is good for nothing! So, between hard working conditions, stressful family separation, pay I assume could be better, and dealing with the public (where is that not a trial?), I'm surprised at how well they do. I keep imagining the crew breaking out into an acrobatic dance number to the tune of that old, old song, 'So Happy Together,' but I'm not holding my breath. Not a criticism of your review. I just empathize with people caught between a rock and a hard place (until someone gets on my nerves, of course. That's different. I can't explain why, but it is). You did a good, thorough review.
  5. True they don't hit tender ports. Even with non-tender, I think the pier-side area has to be deeper to accommodate Oasis-class. They can hit a pretty good range of islands and when one starts out cruising it's not such a big deal, but after a few if you're after 'new' islands/ports, then it's time to drop down in size to something with more port options. Then again, if you've hit enough islands that the ports don't matter quite as much and the ship/cruise itself is more important, may be time to back to Oasis-class. Which is what we've been doing recently. Richard.
  6. Skipping through the video, I see slides, so I take it they're being added, so the effect may be somewhat like sibling ship Liberty of the Seas? Wife and I plus 2 more cruised Liberty years ago, before it had the slides. It was a really nice ship, Voyager-class on steroids, but I thinking about it I miss Central Park and the Board Walk from Oasis-class. Then again, I figure Freedom-class can hit some ports Oasis-class can't. For families with kids, adding the slides (Splash-a-Way Bay?) would be a plus, and might help mitigate the absence of the Board Walk somewhat. I like Southern Caribbean itineraries. Richard
  7. There's a port talk or some such on board the ship where you can get a free golden-looking charm bracelet. Each port where there's a Diamonds International, you walk in, show the bracelet and can receive a free charm that's specific to that port (e.g.: often an island). Since I got home, I turned to eBay. From separate vendors, I bought the ship charm (and it came with raffle tickets and a port shopping flyer thing, so I'm pretty sure it's the one I would've gotten if I'd attended that talk onboard), and one for Puerto Rico (the little coqui frog). So our kid is not charm-deficient. It's a marketing gimmick, of course, but a way to collect distinctive mementos. Speaking of which, having a kid, we try to get some in each distant trip we take. My grandmother collected thimbles, and I took that on and collect them, but thimbles aren't universally available and while metal ones are durable, porcelain ones aren't. I also buy destination-specific magnets. And I've started buying destination keychains. They're small, usually available in a variety and prices are tolerable, they're durable, easy to carry and can be useful if you're so inclined.
  8. On 7-23-19, I got an e-mail fro Southwest that included a 'Check In' yellow button and beside that said "Please note you will only be able to check in within 24 hours prior to your scheduled departure." Within 24 hours of anticipated departure, I logged on this way and checked in. Despite having Early Bird. We flew to Ft. Lauderdale Saturday July 27th, and boarded the ship Sunday July 28th. On our return, I never got an e-mail like that. I don't know how it typically works; we've been blessed to cruise about once per year and not always where Luggage Valet was a workable option. But I thought the discrepancy was interesting.
  9. Not really. There was a parade called Anchors Aweigh, basically some story about fighting groups, which had different costumes, etc... No 'name brand' characters, but it was still fun, and our kid grabbed a wad of confetti from the ground afterward.
  10. If your kids have never had a dolphin encounter excursion, it's pretty magical at times. We did one that also included visiting the adjacent Turtle Farm (this was in Grand Cayman). Plan to pay the extra money for digital photos of the experience; they can come in handy. Richard.
  11. I flew Southwest and used Luggage Valet on our Allure cruise ending Aug. 4th. I use 'early bird' to get a group A boarding assignment to make sure there are overhead bin spaces for our carryons. And decent seat selection. 1.) Before trip, I got the usual Southwest e-mail in advance letting me know I could check-in online in advance. 2.) Signed up for Luggage Valet 1st day it was offered, which was quite early in the cruise. 3.) Was told it'd be the last day before arrival before I got confirmation; worse, it was late into the evening. But it basically worked. 4.) Onboard, having Internet service via Royal, I did not get an advance e-mail from Southwest reminding me check in online starting 24 hours before departure of the plane, got my boarding passes from Luggage Valet, as I didn't check-in online for the return, and our boarding group was still group A (albeit farther back in group A). Just in case it helps.
  12. Our Allure cruise ended 8-4-19; one of the digital file versions of what would probably be an 8x10 type portrait shot (also bought the prints but don't want to dig through the pile) is loaded into Apple Photos shows a resolution of 2400 x 3000 and a JPEG file size of 2.8 megabytes. I think went to one of the 'port shot' pics the photographers take when you get off the ship, in this case of our little girl beside an old style ship steering wheel (whatever they call that) in Labadee, that in the past I think were used to make the 5x7 prints? It, too, shows resolution 2400 x 3000 and a JPEG file size of 2.9 megabytes this time. I use these photos, amongst others, in an annual Blurb 'family book,' the large landscape 11 x 13 inch format. If I try to have one of these pics fill the entire page, Blurb warns me the resolution is too low and recommends a fix. I let Blurb do an auto-fix; it shrinks it down a bit, but not a whole lot. Just in case any of that is helpful. Richard.
  13. Interesting. I purchased the same package for our 2 iPhones, 1 iPad Mini 5 and a MacBook laptop in an Allure of the Seas cruise just over a week ago and had no issues. But on one of our prior cruises, I did have issues with devices cutting out between active use periods (I don't recall which of Royal's ships, or just what year). I wonder whether any other lines offer a wifi experience of similar quality, and if not, why not? Glad you have a very good cruise!
  14. Glad you had a great time! I've been off it a week, so I guess I was on the week after you. Impressions on some things vary - as far as kid friendly, I heard God's name taken in vain 3 times, 1 'bastard' and 1 'ass' early in Mamma Mia and we left. Blue Planet was indeed a musical production, but enough athletic 'running around' to keep our daughter happy, and the prop.s/costumes kept it interesting. And I was surprised how much we enjoyed Labadee! Did you have a good view of the Aqua Theater show Ocean Aria from your Boardwalk balcony stateroom? I imagine that'd be a treat; we watched it, then our daughter and I saw it again. We were interior stateroom - yeah, cost is a thing!
  15. Enjoyed your review! Adventure was my wife & my first cruise, on our honeymoon back in '06, a Southern Caribbean trip. Never did your itinerary, though sailed out of Newark once (on the same class Explorer of the Seas, rough weather, my motion sickness-prone wife had a lot of trouble going down & back up the east cost to get to the Caribbean). On Royal's ships we can usually find Fruit Loops; I mention that as we've got a little kid now. It was true on Allure of the Seas just recently. Good catch, and there's more. If you've got a kid under 42 inches tall, even by a little (say, 41") who is potty trained, they won't let that kid in the splash area, despite being potty trained, without a swim diaper, and the ship's swim diapers may not fit a kid that big, plus you won't likely have thought to bring any that would. Been there, done that. In another thread it's been claimed that at some point in the past a bunch of ship towels could be seen 'abandoned' at some shore excursion after the people left, IIRC. I, too, don't like life 'under the gun' - return that towel or $20 apiece! - but yes, I think it's necessary. Have any other ships you've cruises had good Internet? For us, it's a big deal (kid with access to You Tube via iPad mini & head phones is a game changer for eating a specialty restaurants & in the MDR, plus handy to text each other on iPhones). You will like it a lot. Central Park looks like a gimmick but really adds to the experience, and the Boardwalk is fun! The Aqua Theater diving shows are really nice, especially the high dives at the end. It does limit your available ports, though. I wish someone at Royal would give us this! From what I've read in the 'RCL vs...' threads, Disney is a class act but you pay a big premium over RCL for that. Maybe not 'apples to apples.' Evidently for you there's extra value worth that premium - what are the key advantages for you? Princess seems to have a rep. for being one of the mainstream lines like RCL, but less flashy, sporty activities (e.g.: flow rider), a bit of a classy vibe (with that name, how could they not?) and better pizza. I haven't tried them. What do you prefer about Princess over RCL? Do your 9 & 13 year old kids prefer Princess? Richard.
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