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About pjhootch

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  1. We love the southern itinerary, but do not want to do it on the Fascination again. I miss the Dive in Movies on deck and other things from the bigger ships. We went a few times when Victory was in San Juan and it was great. My favorite ship. I like the medium size ships best.
  2. No one will stop you and it will be fine. Do not worry or feel self conscious. Just enjoy the meal.
  3. There is always yogurt available at breakfast and on the breakfast room service menu- and it is the sweet type, so most children like it.
  4. Congrats OP. Ignore the nasty attitudes here and enjoy the offer. They are not too common anymore.
  5. I grab a salad plate and wander from one spot to another adding items that are not at the salad bar, but are at other spots on the Lido deck. For the new cruisers like OP who are trying to figure out what the food offerings are and where they are located- each ship is going to vary a little bit. On all the ships the buffet is free and open at breakfast, lunch and dinner, with closed times in between meals. All ships have a pizza place that is free and open 24 hours. The lines get long at night when it is the only game in town besides room service menu for a charge. Most people seem to like the pizza- me included. Every ship has another free area like a deli where you can get sandwiches. Location varies, hours vary. Ships with Guys Burger's and Blue Iguana near the main pool (most of them I think at this point) offer that free but the hours are limited. At the Buffet you can always get coffee/basic hot tea/lemonade- 24 hours a day. Also soft serve ice cream and sometimes frozen yogurt. Some ships (maybe all now) have a coffee shop with limited hours, that for a fee, serves fancy coffees (think starbucks) and pastries , milkshakes and cakes- nothing here is free. If you get the Cheers package it includes the coffees at the Coffee ship and milkshakes too. Many ships have a steak house which is about $38 per person (does not include tip), reservation only. The bigger ships and newly renovated ships have additional upcharge restaurants or food locations. Some have a seafood counter with a charge per item. Some have a sushi place with a charge per item. There are the ships that have the pasta bar free at lunch that change to a $15 per person charge at dinner. Some ships have Guy's Pig and Anchor barbque that are free at lunch (I think-) but not at dinner. The printed Fun Times in your cabin will help you figure out where all the food is and what food incurs an extra charge. We've been cruising for quite a while now and every now and then will eat in the steakhouse just to try something different. We have had a coffee here or there, especially on departure mornings when Lido is a pain. Overall, you can cruise and have a wide variety of food without paying any $$ beyond your original fare, and not feel like you are missing anything at all.
  6. I think it may depend on the ship and the season. On the fascination in February there was a lot of pineapple and watermelon with the other melons, but not a lot of citrus. Berries are not as local as the melons and citrus and do not have much of a shelf life so that may be an issue.
  7. Jimbo, We do not consider sitting through dinner a hassle, but I have seen lots of people describe it that way because they do not like how long it takes or waiting in line (which I really have not experienced, even with YTD- except on elegant night). Many people just seem to be more comfortable with the buffet experience for dinner. Not us- we love eating in the MDR. We sometimes will opt for the buffet if there is a movie on deck we really want to catch and we have a set time dining that interferes. The movies are usually our night time entertainment so we found YTD works best for us. You are correct the dress code isn't very strict. My husband always wears slacks, a dress shirt and a tie, and on elegant night I wear something with dress slacks and a nice blouse with a jacket. We never go into the dining room in shorts and t-shirts, even if it is allowed by the dress code. On our last cruise in February we were on the Fascination which has only 1 sea day, and one of our elegant nights was on a port day near the end of the cruise and we were BEAT. I had been fighting a cold the whole cruise and after a day in the ocean and sun- I literally could not find the energy to change out of my t-shirt. 🙂 So we ate at the buffet, and the prime rib was EXCELLENT. I didn't really mean to post in a way that made the food sound terrible. It is just buffet food, and fresher than most buffets I have eaten at. The best food available without an upcharge is the MDR and my husband, I and our grown up kids all enjoy it quite a lot. We are leaving again next Friday on Horizon for the first time and are looking forward to dinners already!
  8. Buffet is like a Golden Corral. At dinner it has many of the same items as the MDR except they are sitting out under the lights longer and sometimes meat gets dry or tough and veggies get soggy and mushy. The food tastes more bland to me than in the MDR- but I am one of those people that doesn't use much salt and is kind of fussy about food consistency. MDR is not perfect, but we prefer it most of the time. Buffet is good if you are in a hurry or just cannot handle any more rich, heavy food and want to pick and choose lighter fare without having to refuse the bread, dessert and all the other tempting things that might be on the menu! You won't get the lobster at the Buffet, but they do serve prime rib without the hassles of sitting through dinner. It is kind of hit or miss in both the buffet and MDR to be honest. The last couple of cruises we had great prime rib in the MDR, but we also had great prime rib at the Fascination buffet a month ago on a formal night we were just too exhausted to dress up for. 🙂
  9. We are going on this cruise April 6th also. Keep checking the excursions to see if there is another Monkey excursion added. Sometimes they will add additional tours if something sells out. Also, people can cancel with a refund at this point, so it pays to check back since people do change their mind about excursions this close to sailing. La Romana does not do much for me as a port, so we booked a dune buggy excursion to occupy ourselves this time. Grand Turk there is no need for an excursion if you like to hang out at the beach. Walk down the beach from the pier and rent a couple of beach chairs from a local- out of the crowds. The chairs near the pier with the green umbrellas are free but crammed in all together. You can rent a golf car or scooters off the pier and drive around the little island. Aruba is a great port. You can walk around off the ship and there are restaurants and shops and taxis if you want one. There are some great swimming beaches but you need to cab it to those. I like to go to the Donkey rescue farm by cab- and then to the beach. I have done the Carnival excursion that takes you on a tour by bus and then drops you at the beach for an hour or two and that was okay to get a feel for what the island is like. There is no need to spend all your time on a bus though since there is so much to do near the port. Curacao is new for us so we booked a snorkeling excursion through the ship this time. After that is over we are going to find a place to eat dinner- but we haven't made any decisions yet about where.
  10. Grand Cayman is a great port if you want to be IN the water that week. Generally the water is still pretty warm and comfortable there at that time of year. It is a beautiful port with all kinds of things to do. You can find a place for all your family to get a taxi and enjoy the day- without needing to spend $$ on a ship excursion. My own personal favorite "cheap" place to go is Calico Jacks. Beach bar with decent bar food- - picnic tables in the shade and a gorgeous beach. It is right next to a public beach so you have plenty of room in the water, bathrooms, food- shade- drinks... what more could one need? Cozumel is a good stop if people like to walk around and shop or find a restaurant, or do an organized excursion or all inclusive beach day. There are a couple of nice beaches where you do not need to do an all inclusive thing but the cab fare can get you! Make sure you know what your cab fare is going to be before you get in. If you want to be in the water there it is usually warm enough that week. It may not be as pretty or warm as Grand Cayman- but it can be a really good beach day there. Amber Cove is kind of a bust of a port in my opinion if you want an authentic experience. BUT- if your extended family just wants to hang out together in nice weather by a bar and pool- it is right there at the port and no cab fare or excursion required. Easy to get to without a hassle or much walking. Little zip line for kids, swim up bar and free lounge chairs for grown ups... Grand Turk is a nice little island with a beautiful beach. The water can be unpredictable temperature wise. I always go in but sometimes it is chilly in December. Kids won't care. There is a margaritaville right off the ship if you want that experience, or there is a beach with free beach chairs if just off the pier. If you want to be less crowded you can walk further down the beach and rent chairs from a local and buy drinks from them as well. No need to book an excursion here, although there are some if that is what you want to do.
  11. Fascination is a small ship and never really seems crowded or too busy. The elevators are quick and Deck 5 is not a big deal, although not necessarily close to anything except other rooms. We were on deck 6 three weeks ago and found it very convenient with the elevators rarely busy. The promenade is deck 9 and Lido is 10, dining rooms are on 8. Deck 3 is where you embark and disembark for port days and also where medical office hides.
  12. Not unique. It is fleet wide. People have been reporting being given this choice for quite a while now but we had not encountered it as a definite once a day option until we were on the Fascination three weeks ago and the implication by the steward's question clearly suggests you are supposed to choose either morning or evening. However, people do report that if you ask for twice a day service the stewards will accommodate you. I have discovered I am fine with once a day service in the evening, since I like to sleep in sometimes.
  13. No one likes getting yelled at- BUT the green umbrellas are all crammed together and not by the water. Any other umbrellas and there will be yelling. I really like Grand Turk. It has a good beach and is always relaxing. The best thing to do is walk further down the beach until the chairs thin out and then rent chairs and umbrellas from one of the groups of locals that has coolers of beer and makes drinks. It is not free but neither is it expensive. Definitely worth it to be out of the crowds under the green umbrellas but you also do not have to go all the way down to Jack's Shack. Happy medium.
  14. When my husband and I are on a Premier cruise, we both get the drinks on us card but he does not get any free play. I truly cannot remember- but I believe he did get gifts in the room. Definitely no free play for him though.
  15. Depending on what you drink, it is cheaper to order a "double" than a single serving drink. A double costs $3 more than a single drink.
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