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CntPAcruiser

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  1. I am far more open about trying new and different foods than my husband, but he does use cruising as an opportunity to try new things he ordinarily wouldn't, and occasionally he finds something he really likes. He "hates" mushrooms, but a couple of cruises ago discovered Arancini on the appetizer menu one evening on Royal Caribbean. Their rice balls, bread and fried, are filled with a porcini mushroom filling, albeit not much, and he actually likes them in spite of that!
  2. For the ports on the list that I'm familiar with, Aruba is definitely tops for beaches, Eagle or Palm.
  3. I do like some cream cheese with smoked salmon, but I don't really go for the bagel. Royal Caribbean has a wonderful grainy dark bread that is usually sliced somewhat thinner, and it makes a perfect base for cream cheese, smoked salmon, and capers, for my taste, anyway.
  4. Just the other day I had to toss out the last of a bottle of crème de Cassis--it had turned from reddish to an almost brownish-green color and didn't smell so good. I guess I hadn't used any in quite some time! Now I have a fresh bottle and I'm all ready to make a Parisian Cocktail--equal parts of gin, dry vermouth and crème de Cassis.
  5. The thermal suite on Oasis is on a lower deck in the spa area, no outside views. I believe the ladies' locker room is closer than the men's, which is a bit down the hall. The thermal suite has a couple of heated ceramic lounges, which are very nice, a small sauna and steam room, and an aromatherapy room (basically another small steam room with scent). There are also two specialty showers with water/lighting effects for rainstorm, mist, etc. Because it is mixed-sex, bathing suits are required in the thermal suite. It's an attractive area, but a bit small, or it can feel that way if more than a few people are in there. It can get noisy, and sometimes people will monopolize one or the other of the facilities. You can check once you board if they have a single-use price. We paid for a two-person pass for a week when we sailed on Oasis. Spa slippers and robes, as well as towels, are provided, and there is a quiet room with flavored ice water. I suppose it would be something you could do at the same time as a mother/daughter thing, and it is relaxing if it's not crowded and noisy.
  6. My husband has lactose intolerance, and we typically request on the first night at dinner (MDR, regular late seating, pre-COVID) that he get berries or fruit, no cream, as his dessert every night, and they have always been accommodating. Otherwise, he usually just avoids things containing dairy on the regular menu. The one time we did make a special needs request, it caused more problems than it solved. For instance, he can have butter within limitations, but they wanted to give him special menu items without butter. Of course, others may have a more severe intolerance where that would be appropriate, but this is what works for him (because it's mainly the dessert items that are so dairy-heavy).
  7. It does vary a great deal depending on where you're going and how you sail there, seasonal conditions, plus the weather factors. So while you could run into higher/rougher seas anywhere, I do have to say that the ones I've been on that had the roughest were Western Caribbean. That could just have been the time of year, though.
  8. Curacao can be found in the US, but some people like to bring back a bottle of the "real" Curacao from the island, and you can get more than just blue. Also available are white, orange, red, and green, but they all taste the same. The Curacao "factory" also sells some flavored ones, including chocolate-orange. Some of the Dutch islands (Aruba/Bonaire/Curacao) also have Pisang Ambon, a green banana-ish liqueur that I've never seen anywhere but there.
  9. You can only fit a few people in the sauna and steam room. The aromatherapy room (basically another steam room) is a bit larger. But if you have more than eight or so people in the thermal suite area, it can get noisy if people are chatty. When we were cruising, there were no limits on how many people could be in there, but that may have changed with social distancing protocols, if they will be open and available at all.
  10. Several years ago we were on a back-to-back cruise for the week prior to and the week of Thanksgiving, and my husband's birthday fell within those dates. During the first cruise, when it wasn't his actual birthday, they brought a small cake or dessert to the table, can't remember which, and sang. On the second cruise, the night of his birthday happened to be a night the hotel director was entertaining at the captain's table, and our main waiter was also serving that table. So in addition to extra wine, we enjoyed the special dessert from the captain's table as well, but no singing (not that we minded).
  11. Ah, that was an assumption on my part. You think it is more like Crème de Cacao, then? Most I've seen are cream-type. A friend gave us an old bottle of Crème de Cacao, probably 30 years old, and it smelled ok, but it had settled out so I was concerned about tasting it.
  12. It doesn't seem very likely that the Dutch chocolate liqueur will have survived "many years," unfortunately. Certain wines and spirits are ok for aging, but cream liqueurs are not among them.
  13. Because of issues with transporting alcohol purchases back home and flying, we've rarely purchased bottles on cruises to bring back. And while I do like the original found on Curacao, I've found that Bols brand Curacao is an excellent substitute with much the same flavor. I just wish our states stores here in PA carried the orange as well as the blue. They may taste the same, but the blue color ruins the finished drink for the many non-tropical cocktails using orange Curacao. Mixing gin, sweet vermouth, and blue Curacao results in a rather muddy, unpleasant color. I suppose if desperate, I could close my eyes and drink.
  14. We have done several southern Caribbean cruises that have stopped on Curacao, and have been able to get some tasty, refreshing blended/frozen drinks made with Pisang Ambon, a type of green banana liqueur rarely found off the island. To compensate for this and make my own, I've used a combination of rum or coconut rum, creme de banane, Midori, and pineapple juice, sometimes with some lemon or lime juice to punch it up if necessary. This concoction ends up being similar in color and flavor to those we've enjoyed on Curacao.
  15. According to Royal's blog, they will only be technical drydocks for the four ships being worked on in Spain, and will not include the so-called amplification that has already ruined Freedom and Navigator. At least there's a short reprieve for a few of these ships. I hope we get the chance to sail on them before they excellent fitness center facilities are destroyed. Doesn't sound like steam/sauna facilities are open on most lines because of social distancing, from what I've seen here and there online.
  16. As I had mentioned above, baker's cheese is not curded and not grainy like most ricotta is. It is very smooth and can have a dry, almost chalky texture. It's nothing like cottage cheese and can be somewhat tricky to work with when making a cheese filling for pastries. I find it to be superior to using cream cheese as a filling for danish pastries, though.
  17. Likewise not my experience at all. Certainly there may have been times when it was quiet, but it would get busy at times as well, and there were almost always others in the steam/sauna. And to respond to DaveKathy above, correct, they had to postpone the major refurb of Explorer, so she has not been ruined yet. I suppose it's inevitable, though.
  18. My husband and I enjoy dressing in our tuxes for formal nights, with different ties and cummerbunds for each night, and we get lots of comments from other passengers (good ones, thankfully). And while it's nice to see other ladies and gents dressed up, we don't consider it a requirement—each to their own. There's no going back at this point to "the way cruising used to be," but the sad thing is, formal wear for formal nights seems like more of a costume than simply following the dress code. Correction, suggested attire.
  19. I also agree with using Native Choice to go to Chacchoben Ruins out of Costa Maya, but I think OP said they must use RCI excursions. Going to the Tulum ruins in Cozumel means a bumpy ferryboat ride (aka the vomit comet) out and back, an hour or so on the bus each way, and lots of walking to get a brief guided tour and some time to look around on your own and take pictures. It's a very long day, and usually this tour is the last group back on board at the end of the day. We were unlucky and had delays getting there, so our time at the ruins was cut short. The Chacchoben ruins out of Costa Maya likewise require a long bus/van ride to get there, but we found them more interesting than, if not as varied and large an overall complex as, the Tulum ruins. And there's no ferry ride. These ruins are more in the middle of the jungle, where Tulum's are at the coast.
  20. Thanks, again. Royal is gradually cutting me off from their ships and pushing me toward other lines that still have complimentary steam/sauna facilities. And no changing room or locker room for a fitness center? I don't want to have to schlepp back to my cabin all sweaty and gross-looking to shower and change. They'd better at least have a thermal suite, but Navigator, for example, does not. And even a thermal suite on their ships is a poor substitute for the nice sauna/steam facilities that were in the locker rooms before they started "amping" (I say "cramping") their ships.
  21. Actually, you are encouraged to use your 40% discount to purchase bottles of wine and share them with your fellow cruising, especially if I am on board....
  22. Most cheese fillings for danish and coffeecakes nowadays are made with a cream cheese type filling (and in most in-store bakeries, it is a premade product that comes from a bakery supplier). But the old-fashioned bakeries often used something called baker's cheese, which is similar to farmer's cheese. It is a fresh, soft, uncurded cheese with a light tang. Where I worked many years ago, we made the filling by adding sugar, cornstarch, egg yolks, butter, and vanilla to baker's cheese. It was also used in many old-fashioned cheesecake recipes.
  23. Thank you--that's a darned shame. The facilities on Freedom-class ships (and Voyager-class) were excellent. Are there even locker rooms at all? There aren't on Navigator since they butchered her and put in what I understand is a mess of a fitness room. The ceilings aren't even tall enough in some areas for certain equipment. At least Explorer and Adventure have been temporarily spared by the pandemic delays. Hopefully we'll get to sail on them before they, too, are ruined.
  24. Thanks for taking us along on your cruise. Could you please check out the fitness center and let us know what it's like now? As far as I can tell from the deck plans, they changed it with the last refurb. I'm wondering if they took out the nice locker rooms with the separate steam/sauna facilities--afraid they have, that seems to be the way they are going now. Pictures would be great if you have the time. Thank you!
  25. We were on Vision some years ago, and the sauna was not in the best of shape. I'm sure they've redone it by now with new benches. It's not as big as the saunas on Voyager-class ships, but not tiny either. The steam room is rather large and yet had plenty of steam to it. The wet area that has the sauna and steam room is separate from the locker area and toilet, and has a couple of showers with shower curtains and one or two sinks. There is also an odd set of showers opposite the other ones that are completely open and are some kind of "buddy shower." Rarely saw anyone using these. All in all, Vision has decent facilities.
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