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About MarkWiltonM

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Wilton Manors, Florida
  • Interests
    Tennis, dogs, cooking, reading
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    HAL and Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. As I said, to each his own. We may be quite atypical cruisers. We don't drink alcohol, gamble, or swim on cruise ships. We don't use the thermal suite and we rarely use the spa services. I would never step foot in a communal hot tub, and we find the shows in the theater amateurish on all cruise lines. What does that leave? Food is the primary aspect of cruising for us along with the ability to relax and read books while enjoying the ocean. And a little card-playing. Most of all, we like the daily change of scenery you get with a cruise and the fact that we have no responsibilities while on board except to enjoy ourselves.
  2. Buffets, whether self-serve or "cafeteria-style" with staff serving (a la Holland-America) are one of the main reasons many people cruise. They won't go away. I get bored with the dining rooms after a few days (bored with the food and the slow pace of service) and end up eating in the buffet most of the time. To each his own, of course.
  3. The last safety/muster drill we did on Silhouette in February was horrible. The safety/video portion was done in the Ensemble Lounge and more than half of the assembled crowd were in locations in this long, narrow space where we could see neither the video or any of the crew. Everyone was complaining. Our cruises on HAL Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam in 2018 and 2019 had already implemented the in-cabin viewing portion of the safety/muster drill. Everyone went to their staterooms to watch the video on their television sets and then we assembled briefly at our muster stations. There were crew members in the halls to direct us to the correct route for the muster station. It was not done on a staggered schedule as being proposed by Royal Caribbean but it felt less crowded because there weren't thousands of people piling out of the same location in a common area but were instead coming from our staterooms. It was much better overall than any other cruises we've been on.
  4. The last two dinners we had in Murano, on Equinox and Silhouette, were not worth the money IMO. And certainly not as good as we can get in most restaurants on land. The menu hasn't been updated in years and the quality of service has deteriorated as well. The servers seemed very harried and distracted.
  5. Is there a way to delete my post after it is posted?
  6. I am afraid I agree with you. As much as I love cruising, I'm not going to cruise again if the only way it can be safely done also takes the fun out of it. At home here in South Florida, I adhere vigilantly to social distancing and mask wearing. I only go to grocery stores very early and as seldom as possible. I havn't been in a restaurant in months (except to pick up takeout), etc. It's not fun but it's necessary. Although I feel I have no choice in my daily life except to adhere to guidelines to protect myself and my family, if I can't do the things I most enjoy about cruising (which is to escape the daily grind and be carefree for a couple of weeks at a time) I won't cruise until the pandemic passes. I hope the cruise lines are around then. I have cruises booked for April 2021, November 2021, and January 2022. I think it's very unlikely there will be an widely available effective vaccine in time for next April, and possibly not before the other two as well.
  7. I was on Silhouette in March and there was a Breitling store. And a dedicated Cartier watch store as well.
  8. We mostly sail Solstice-class ships on Celebrity, but we also like the new HAL Pinnacle-class ships, in particular because of the food in the buffet, which is better than on Celebrity, and because of the Crow's Nest, which is a favorite of most HAL cruisers. It's equivalent to the Sky Observation Lounge on Celebrity, but the lounge on Celebrity is routinely off limits in the evenings because of special events (such as Happy Hour for Captain's Club members; we don't drink alcohol so this is of no benefit to us). The Crow's Nest, which has a nice coffee bar that Sky Observation Lounge lacks, is always open as far as I know. When they have private parties or events they tend to restrict them to a portion of the Crow's Nest but don't close it entirely. HAL was ahead of the pandemic in eliminating self-service in the buffet, which works great. I can't speak to entertainment in the theaters because we find shows lacking on all cruise ships and rarely go, but in general the rotating musicians on Celebrity in the atrium and pool, etc., tend to be better than the musicians on HAL, except that we like the classical quintet that performs on Lincoln Center Stage. We don't go to the casino but we do have to pass by it and the smoke is the grossest thing about HAL. The staterooms and the service are comparable on both lines, but the new HAL ships have notably excellent water pressure in the large showers. I have recently looked at HAL pricing and the Pinnacle-class ships are a bit more expensive than Celebrity's Solstice-class ships, and HAL is not as generous with perks. HAL's new Pinnacle class ships may be comparable in price to Celebrity's new Edge class ships, but I'm not sure.
  9. I don't see any information on this vaccine being proved safe and effective. AstaZeneca just started enrolling subjects in a combined Phase 2/3 trial on May 22. I find it extremely unlikely (impossible) that they have results. The news today is that they have decided to ramp up production before they know if the vaccine works.
  10. I also miss planning my cruises. I miss the excitement of embarkation day. I miss getting on the ship and then not having to make any decisions except for what fun, effortless thing we want to do next. I miss not having to cook, clean, and walk the dog (even though I love and miss the dog when I'm on a cruise). I miss being at sea, on the water. I miss waking up early on port days to watch the ship come into the harbor. I miss watching people go crazy over "flash sales" of silly junk (what fun!). I miss walking by the Park West art gallery and marveling at the prices for such incredibly bad art (especially compared to the high-quality art by well-known contemporary artists that Celebrity owns and is displayed on the Solstice-class ships). I especially miss Cafe al Bacio--the best coffee and service anywhere. I miss looking at all the food in the buffet and figuring out what I want to eat--even if I'm disappointed by half of it. Who cares? We're on a cruise! (I do not miss the food in the main dining room or the specialty restaurants. We are eating much better food at home!)
  11. I don't think an extra day of deep cleaning at port is likely to help. The primary transmission route of of influenza viruses, coronaviruses, rhinoviruses, etc., is through the air (sneezing, coughing, or even talking). Extra cleaning of the ship may help reduce fomite transmission (contact with objects) but that isn't going to help once people board the ship and fail to wash their hands and/or use hand sanitizer and begin shaking hands, sharing utensils in buffets, touching elevator buttons, using handrails, etc. Of course, shaking hands and sharing utensils (in buffets) are unlikely to happen when cruising resumes. I think people will be much more careful with elevator buttons and handrails as well. I am an expert now at pushing elevator buttons with my elbow, and opening doors with the bottom of my shirt, etc. For those who need to use handrails on stairs, etc., bring gloves!
  12. We consider ourselves foodies and frequently dine out on land. But I don't think any of Celebrity's specialty restaurants are worth a visit. We never had a decent meal at Tuscan Grille even though the menu sounds good. We mildly enjoyed Murano for a few years and then got bored with it. It has had the same, now rather tired, menu for years, but it's the best of the bunch. We had a surprisingly good dinner once at Qsine, but that has turned into the gimmicky Le Petit Chef, which I wouldn't go to even if it was available at no extra cost. On the Silhouette this past February/March, we had very slow service and ho-hum food at Murano, an all-but-inedible meal at the Lawn Club Grill and horrible service (even though the alfresco atmosphere is nice), and a fair-to-middling lunch at The Porch (also alfresco and good service because no one else was there!). Can't speak to the quality of the food at Luminae because I don't book suites. It's not that the food is better in the main dining room or the buffet. But the quality of the food and service at the specialty restaurants is not high enough enough to motivate me to go there any more, even if there wasn't an additional fee.
  13. There can be less privacy, especially if you get a cabin right where the hump begins. This is generally only an issue when you are are near the railing of your veranda. Because of the extra depth, you have more room overall that is private to relax in your deck chairs. I used to always book these but lately I've been booking regular verandahs that are closer to where I want to be on the ship. I don't really miss the slight increase in space, and I value privacy. As pointed out, wind can also be an issue as pointed out if your angle faces forward.
  14. If Celebrity turns its buffet into a dining room with menu service, we will be unlikely to ever sail with Celebrity again. We love the convenience and variety of the buffet. We usually go to the main dining room for a few nights for dinner and then get bored with it, or disappointed with the food, and start having dinner (as well as breakfast and lunch) in the buffet. Not everything in the buffet is good, but we can always find something we like. Not so with a set menu. The buffet is especially appealing at night because so few people are there.
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