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Everything posted by drrich2

  1. Yes, and until Florida and Alaska really started turning up the political heat, the CDC wasn't doing that. The cruise lines were basically begging for realistic, practicable guidelines to restart cruising, and the CDC appeared to be giving them the brush off. And that was well after vaccines had become available in the U.S. Even if the CDC had said 'Okay, cruising is only okay with 100% vaccination rates and do a test cruise first,' prior to all that, at least it would've been something. So with some of us, the CDC bears the stigma of their obstructionism, which undermines what good faith/trust we might've otherwise regarded them with. I think it a fair statement that, for Florida, Alaska and the cruise industry, getting those options out of the CDC was, as they say, 'Like pulling teeth.'
  2. Not only did mine show back up yesterday, but I booked VOOM Surf + Stream since, IIRC, it looked a couple bucks cheaper per day than what I'd seen offered before. Richard.
  3. Thanks for posting about this. It's got potential to be an important precedent. Some 'thought leader' types have predicted a pandemic for years, and sadly it's likely this sort of thing will happen again at some point in the future. The vast amount of economic damage to the cruise industry (I've read 20 billion dollars for 2020, and lines selling off a number of ships) will take a long time to recoup. I don't know what financing arrangements the lines worked out to stay afloat (yep, had to go there...). And they should be okay...this time. So, what happens if we have another pandemic in 5 years? Short-term shutdowns may make sense, and early on did here. But when Disney World and other recreational public venues have been open quite awhile, and thousands go in and out daily without even being tested for the virus...maybe we need some limits on the CDC's power. Not a total absence of it, but some curtailment. Whichever way this goes, the precedent it may set is a big deal.
  4. From what I've seen over time, there seems to almost always be a sale going on, albeit not always the same one. 30% off all guests, 60% off 2nd guest, kids sail free...they mix it up a bit. Depending on how many of you are going and whether any are kids, it may be worthwhile waiting for a sale that matches your group demographics.
  5. It's back just now...in Chrome. 'Plan My Cruise' shows me a stalled out screen, and says it's unavailable, but at least the cruise itself is in the system.
  6. Our one cruise for 2022 isn't showing up; Safari, and since seeing this thread and trying, Firefox and Chrome, all 3 didn't work. Thanks for starting this thread, by the way. Good to know it's not just me effected. Richard.
  7. Assuming that drinks package includes alcohol, that may not be as 'fair' as it seems at first. Years ago, I learned that when comparing computers (say, a Mac to a PC), if you take one rather specialized one already sold as a package, and you take a different one from a competitor and pick a range of custom choices trying to match the first, the first computer has the advantage. And so it is here. I imagine 'included drinks' looks like a real 'win' for some people. Neither I nor our school age child drink alcohol, and my wife might have a very few margaritas on a week-long cruise. To me, an included drink package with alcohol is worse than useless...I'm subsidizing other peoples' alcohol use. On the other hand, I drink a lot of diet soda and love free-style machines. Included soda package sounds nice to me...but do people who don't drink soda want to share to cost of my 'habit?' At least lines who don't bundle drinks packages with alcohol give us a choice. Those who do are basically telling me 'You'll buy alcohol whether you drink it or not.' Judging from package prices, alcohol is pricy.
  8. I voted 'yes,' as I don't have a specific plan to do it but I am open to it. We've flown down to Puerto Rico to catch a cruise before; I'm open to regarding Nassau-based cruises the same way. I'd rather cruise out of Fort Lauderdale or Miami, but hey...any Royal big ship cruise in a pandemic, you know?
  9. This needs to happen. Cruising is way too dependent on the U.S. home port market and the CDC is too grossly risk-avoidant without adequately addressing other concerns. If this were about minimum restrictions in the face of pandemic risks, authorizing 50% capacity, vaccinated passenger and crew only, 'cruises to nowhere' (with a Jones' Act temporary exemption, etc...) could've been done. There's legitimate epidemiology-based restriction in the face of a pandemic...and there's draconian neglect toward a large industry hemorrhaging vast amounts of money. Diversifying home ports, even if it's simply having the capability to do so rapidly, needs to happen. It's my understanding some 'thought leaders' believe pandemics are likely to happen periodically over the years. The cruise industry is saddled with enormous additional debt and reduced fleets; what happens if someone eats the wrong undercooked bat, squirrel or whatever in 5 or 10 years? COVID-19 is a sign of things likely to come. The cruise industry needs a work-around for cruising around the CDC. I'm delighted to see this unfolding.
  10. Down the road that may well be. I question how likely that is to be in place by July, for example. While different states are prioritizing groups a bit differently, front-line healthcare workers and nursing home residences are high priority, as as advanced elderly and those with high risk medical conditions. While prisoners aren't the most sympathy-garnering group, considering their environment they are high risk. Looking at vaccine supplies and projected approvals (today in a professional e-mail read Astrazena/Oxford's is likely to get U.S. approval in April 2021), and I don't think vaccine trials with kids have started yet? At least not that I've heard. A t.v. article from Dec. 28 I'll post some snippets from: “There are roughly 250 million Americans who are 18 years and older. According to Stack, there will be potentially enough doses of the two vaccines to immunize around 50 million Americans by March 1. Therefore, around 1 in 7 people in the country will have access to the vaccine between now and March.” That's anticipated to have access, not will have completed it. From there I imagine roll out will continue to ramp up strongly, but cruises where every adult has been vaccinated against COVID-19 are a long way off.
  11. From what I'm hearing on You Tube, odds of cruising restarting in March aren't good, but there's an outside chance it can. We already know that in the near-term future, cruises over 7 days are a no-go. Ships have to be in U.S. waters, become eligible to do test cruises, get CDC approval...and so...whenever cruising 'really' resumes, April, May, June, etc...I'm curious as to which ships will likely go as schedule. The other big issue is whether RCI will cancel and reschedule ships, or 'trade ships' (bring another in to do the itinerary), for cruises currently scheduled even if cruising restarts before they're due. We have an early July Symphony of the Seas cruise booked out of Florida. From what I recall, some think whenever cruising resumes in the U.S., it's probably start out in Florida. A massive Oasis-class ship may allow for some social distancing, and carry enough passengers at reduced capacity to hopefully turn some modest profit? So, what are you guys thinking about the cruise schedule past the point things begin restarting? Do you think the odds are better... 1.) Oasis-class > smaller ships? Any particular size class best (or worst) positioned? 2.) Do you think they'll keep to the current schedule as much as possible (which I think, to minimize disruption), or do considerably shuffling (e.g.: your cruise is on a different ship, same port, hopefully same days)? 3.) Do you think ships based out of some ports (even within Florida) are more likely to restart before others? Miami, Fort Lauderdale, etc...? 4.) How much itinerary disruption do you anticipate? In my case, we're planning Costa Maya, Cozumel, Roatan and CocoCay. Mexico's been pretty accommodating to U.S. tourists. Wonder what the Roatan odds are? There's been such a focus on when cruising will restart; I'm curious about how it'll restart when transitioning back. Thanks for your thoughts.
  12. I hope so...I'm booked on Symphony of the Seas in July. I, too, have hopes for the vaccine. But here's a 'wrench in the gears...' The approved vaccines haven't had clinical trials with children, last I checked (which was recently). One of them is for people 18 and older, the other for 16 and older. Even if a lot of adults are vaccinated by then, I imagine most children won't be. And the Oasis-class ships are family ships, catering to families with children. Then there's the question of what 'social distancing' will mean for use of pools, Splash-a-Way Bay and topside 'water park' setups for ships that have those, etc... And whether ships will automatically return to port if someone tests + during the cruise. With over 5,000 passengers on board... I really want this cruise to happen. I'm concerned about the long-term effects of the vast financial hemorrhaging by the cruise industry. And I think cruising needs to restart with some tolerance for risks (looking at you, CDC...as with schools, movie theaters, Walmart, restaurants, etc...).
  13. That's an enormous over-generalization. First off, there's a huge facility rate discrepancy between children and the elderly. Secondly, comorbid medical conditions such as diabetes can substantially raise risk. Thirdly, if you're young, healthy and lucky, that's nice...but not so much for the elder in line at the grocery store you spread it to when you don't even know you're sick. And infectiousness is present before symptom onset in many people. Men are higher risk, obese people are higher risk, elders are higher risk, there's a lot going on here. Some survivors have chronic symptoms for an extended time. Some have evidence of heart inflammation or serious lung damage. If we hired a sociopathic insurance actuary to review the evidence and run the numbers in terms of risk of serious harm or death from a vaccine vs. COVID-19 itself, I expect the risks of catching COVID-19 and suffering substantial harm far outweighs the risks of getting the vaccine. I work in health care and get lots of medical organization e-mails. So, for reasons that aren't driven simply by what the President said, mainstream media, whichever political aisle one sits on, etc...I want to get the COVID-19 vaccine as fast as I can without running over anybody.
  14. I just compiled on info. on the vaccine situation into a post on another forum, thinking in terms of a land trip to Bonaire. Since it may be useful here, I'll also paste that here: I don’t know how closely you guys follow the vaccine-development effort; Pfizer has submitted an application for emergency use authorization for an mRNA vaccine and hopefully we’ll have it soon; it needs to be stored at -70 degrees C (-94 degrees F), which is a big problem for storage and transportation; it's 2 shots, 21 days apart. Moderna also has a mRNA candidate up and coming, and its cold-requirement isn’t as extreme. But StatNews.com has an article at Bill Gates worries about dysfunctional Covid-19 vaccine distribution - STAT with some info. I haven’t seen making the news that’s potentially a big deal next year. If Gates’ hopes work out well, 2 of the more conventional vaccines may produce much higher antibody levels (which isn’t the end-all, be-all; I’ve read elsewhere even without high antibody levels, once you’ve had it, t-cells may retain the ‘memory’ and provide effective immunity). That said, higher antibody levels sound like a good thing! He said the vaccines likely to reach the market a bit after the initial shots could have advantages. While Pfizer and Moderna have been the first companies to report early, encouraging results in late-stage clinical trials of their mRNA vaccines, Gates said the levels of antibodies elicited are much higher in more conventional vaccines being developed by Novavax and Johnson & Johnson; AstraZeneca’s comes in a little below the mRNA ones. Gates also said the cold-chain requirements and the cost of scaling up mRNA vaccine production “is not as attractive” as the other approaches.“The fact that Novavax and J&J are above Pfizer makes us very hopeful that in the first quarter [of 2021] those vaccines will get approved and those we can make in many hundreds of millions per month in these developing world factories.”So there's a lot going on in the vaccine development sphere. From some notes I've been keeping as of Nov. 19, Dr. Fauci estimated health care and other essential workers can get a vaccine by late Dec. or Jan., and healthy general public people will have it available from April to July. On the other hand, per the New York Times, Nov. 18 he said Dec., Jan. and Feb. are going to be terribly painful months, but he doesn't think Americans are going to change their behavior. So if anyone's looking at vaccine prospects to inform trip planning to Bonaire or elsewhere, that's the current situation as best I've gleaned.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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!
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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...
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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!
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