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About amsred2

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  1. The addicting sights and sounds of the casino! Disclaimer: If you are a non-smoker, non-drinker, non-gambling non-heathen, then you might just want to skip to the next post. For those Geminis (people who are total heathens on cruise but normal on land) like me, read on and enjoy! We do spend a lot of time in the Casino on every cruise. For hubby it;s a great place to hang out at the bar and make friends (his bestie is usually the bartender). For me, it's my happy place, kind of like Disneyland. I can spend countless hours, and dollars, mindlessly plugging away at a slot machine, cigarette in one hand and frosty drink nearby. Hubby calls this my "zen zone". It's like all the world's troubles just melt away with those flashy lights and exciting bells. This casino is different than CCL's venues in that is is split directly in half between non-smoking and smoking. On CCL you might have one back of machines that is non-smoking but directly behind them is another where six people are happily puffing away. The divide is clear on RCL. I get that the foul smoky smell drifts all around the surrounding area which is still a nuisance for non-smokers, but at least you wont have a grizzly voiced, chain smoker wafting their cigarette around your chair and blowing smoke in your face. There are a variety and abundance of machines on both sides of this large Casino. There was seldom a time when I couldn't get on a machine I liked. However, if you are a table player, this casino seemed to be lacking options or maybe just seemed that way due to being split. The casino host was pretty non-existent. I had to seek her out to find out where I was on points. CCL's hosts usually roam the casino, talking to guests and explaining what will be happening throughout the week. Club Royale, the loyalty program on RCL, totally beats out Casinos at Sea run by carnival. It is clearly posted what you need for certain perks such as cashback, free drinks and free cruises. CCL post the points needed for drinks but getting other comps is a mystery more shrouded then the Roswell UFOs. On a side note: You could not charge your sail and sign to deposit money at the machines. I have not decided if this is a good thing or a bad. On one hand, you had to give up your machine to go get more cash. On the other, this may lead to less money spent since it's not just a simple pin entry to add more money without realizing how big your sail and sign bill is getting. The bartenders and service seemed to be comparable to the better experiences we have had on Carnival. Our experience with service is that it can change depending on the ship or even sailing date. We have gone on a rowdy weekend cruise with lousy service, then continued on the next sailing and had the most superb experience. I mentioned smoking in the Casino but I feel the need to add a bit about the smoking areas on RCL as, well, I'm not sure where to put this info in the rest of the review but feel that it's important to some people. It's a touchy subject and I think there is a hard line in the sand between non-smokers and smokers. but I feel this ship really nailed down how to please both sides. Besides splitting the Casino, they also split the upper decks. On CCL they have narrowed the smoking areas to tiny little corner spaces that too many people crowd into. These areas are uncomfortable, crowded and usually not conveniently located near anything. On the Allure, the smoking areas on deck 15 & 16 are pretty sectioned off from the rest of the decks and across the ship from the children's pool (smart). This assures that, unless you get lost and wind up there by accident, non-smokers can avoid these areas all-together. For those of us who like to watch the world go by with a dink and a smoke, there is spacious comfortable seating areas and great bartenders/waiters always cheerfully serving drinks while close enough to hear the sounds of the steel drums and every rendition of"Hot, Hot, Hot". Tallys; Overall Casino- This one is to close to call. Casinos are similar in what service they provide. CCL has better hosts and RCL has a clear cut loyalty program. Smoking Areas- RCL gets this one both from a smoker (better locations and more comfortable) and non-smoker standpoint (being able to mostly avoid these areas with some planning) Cruise Totals: CCL-7 : RCL-8 To tough to call-2 Next Up: Next time we take a scooter!
  2. Let them entertain me! We booked Ice Games, Mama Mia, Oceanaria, Blue Planet and one comedy show in advance. The Ice Games show blew us away. I didn't think it would be much more than a few fancy costumed actors skating around but they performed tricks, twists and jumps that I thought impossible on a small rink in the middle of the ocean. Blue Planet compares to many of the current CCL production shows with vibrant costumes, sets, costumes and dancing. It was a nice way to spend 45 minutes before dinner. What can I say about Mama Mia? Well I imagine it is a wonderful production of a Broadway show. However, I had made the mistake of watching the movie only a week before. Fifteen minutes into the show I started nodding off as it followed pretty much the same story as the movie and I already knew what was coming next and how it ended. Next time I go, I won't watch the movie at all so that I can give a better viewpoint/review of the production. There were hot and cold aspects of the comedy show. Having booked in advance, I liked not having to wait in a long line to get in, just hoping for a seat. The comedians were funny but ran the same set for each show. On CCl the comedians' acts change from night to night and we usually pop in for some laughs each evening. Also, the venue was quite small and crowded compared to CCL's and had limited (or none as we didn't see any servers) drink service. Oceanaria got canceled the first night and then the second and then each night after due to rough seas. RCL takes care of their divers and performers and we were not at all upset that they had to keep rescheduling. Finally, on the last night of the cruise they gave the performance of a lifetime. This one show was the absolute highlight of the cruise. The acrobatics, water dancing and diving (from a flabbergasting 17 meters high) made for the most unique show I have ever seen on land or sea. There were character parades and flash mobs and dance parties constantly occurring throughout the ship all week. We stopped to watch a couple times as they were well coordinated stunning productions, but the throngs of people at these events insured that we didn't stay for long. Pre-cruise I had pondered whether how I felt about booking/scheduling all my shows in advance. I still have a love/hate thing going on with this aspect of the cruise. We arrived before the 15 minute pre-show cutoff and got decent seats at all shows right away, but with there always seemed to be plenty of seats remaining for those that just showed up without reservations. Too many times on CCL cruises, I had planed to go to the shows but somehow got distracted and never made it. Having them planned and booked in advance somehow insured that I attended the shows instead of getting sidetracked by the addicting sights and sounds of the casino. Tallys; Overall quality of the shows- RCL +1 In days of old, CCL still had full live orchestras that magically appeared through the showroom floors filling the theater with a heavenly sound never rivaled by even the best surround sound system. If CCL still had the big live bands, this area would be a tie. "Canned" music vs, high flying/diving, acrobatics and ice dancing/spinning/flipping...not a tough one to call. Scheduling of the shows- RCL +1 I am going to give it to RCL after all. I reserve the right to change my mind on this after going on more RCL cruises Comedy- CCL really goes all out on the Comedy Club scene. The bar/venue is bigger and more featured as part of their entertainment line-up. +1 Cruise Totals: CCL-7 : RCL-7 To tough to call-1 NEXT UP: The addicting sights and sounds of the casino!
  3. We didn't exactly go hungry the rest of the time either. I had plans to check out all of the free eating venues on the ship. Believe me, there are plenty of free places on the ship and no one will ever go hungry. As seasoned cruisers, we've learned not to spend countless hours getting our "money's worth" in calories. In my research I had learned that we should experience Johnny Rockets earlier in the cruise before everyone learns of the free breakfast option. On day two it was already crowded. We crammed into the bar area and ordered an all-American breakfast of eggs, bacon and pancakes (and of course more fresh squeezed OJ). It took quite awhile for us to get our breakfast and, while it was decent, it was nothing to write home about. The crowding seemed to be the theme throughout the week. We never tried pizza or cafe promenade as every time we went there was a long line and didn't want to spend any more time in lines than we had to. We only tried the windjammer once and it was so crowded with inconsiderate and pushy people trying to heap every dish on their plate, that we decided to skip it the rest of the week. Also, while the stations they have set up for different style foods are nice, we felt it interrupted the line flow and made the area a bit overwhelming. We skipped the buffet the rest of the time. I mentioned the solarium buffet food being tasty on the first day so we did grab a bite there a couple times for breakfast. We tried the MDR once for lunch and once for breakfast. A beautifully arranged buffet is available or you could order off a limited menu. The lines were pretty long both times but we got through faster by agreeing to sit with others as we like to do anyway. Once seated, many table mates left to the buffet making for awkward conversation and disrupting the table's orders as the buffet-goers often wanted to add a menu selection also. I believe this is what led the service to be so slow. The buffet did indeed look appetizing but in lieu of my fantastic dinner experience I elected to order off the menu and take the waiter's suggestion. These waiters were not Anton! They fumbled with half hearted suggestions from the very limited menu as they scrambled to get everyone's order. It's not really RCLs fault but the grilled cheese with a pile of leeks inside just wasn't for me! I can't even remember what I had for the breakfast we went, but know it wan't anything special. The only place we could always get a quick bite, was Park Cafe. Most mornings we ended up getting a quick pre-fab breakfast sandwich, lattes and fresh OJ. Because they were included in the drink package, and it was so close to our cabin, I would go grab a latte and/or OJ every chance I could. They always had tasty roast beef sandwiches and soup which ended up asre my go-to most the week when the other places were crowded. I really missed the quick food options on Carnival. Greasy Guy's Burgers to soak up the alcohol overindulgence, Blue Iguana breakfast burritos and fresh lunchtime street tacos, fresh-made sandwiches and pizza are always close at hand on the Lido deck of a Carnival ship. While there were similar ( IMHO less tasty) options on the Allure, you had to hike a mile (not exaggerating) and fight the elevator mob to get to them. Lastly, I love Carnival's sea-day brunch menu. Steak and eggs, Huevos Rancheros, spicy tomato soup and caramel banana cream pie were just a few that I missed on this cruise. Also, whereas my experience with RCL so far beats CCL in dinner elegance and service, CCL's port-day breakfast and sea-day brunch appear to provide better options and service. Tallys; Quick eateries- CCL +1 (I realize that not everyone enjoys a greasy Guy's Burger...but I missed it.) Day time MDR- CCL +1 Cruise Totals: CCL-6 : RCL-5 To tough to call-1 NEXT UP: Let them entertain me!
  4. You are right...corrected. I lost track a little after being away a week.
  5. After reading my last post I have to make an adjustment to my tally. I liked the cheesecake a lot and somewhat enjoyed a couple other deserts on RCL. However, they made a sad attempt at a chocolate lava cake. I shouldn't have even bothered hoping that it would make up for missing my favorite all-time desert. Oh how I missed Carnivals Warm Chocolate Melting Cake!!! Tallys; Dining Room- RCL +2 (just have to give extra for our service) WCMC Carnival +1 Cruise Totals: CCL-4 : RCL-5 To tough to call-1
  6. Really feeling like ROYALTY: The dining experience! After our tour of the dining room, we were seated at a table for six. By this time, dinner service had been in full swing for twenty minutes, yet the table was empty. Well so much for meeting new lifelong friends. Our servers appeared immediately and introduced themselves as Anton (waiter) and Ajay (assistant). I explained that this was my first time on RCL and was looking for suggestions on what to eat. Anton recommended the mushroom soup, prime rib and Royal cheesecake for desert. I love prime rib but was a little hesitant as CCL rarely seems to get prime rib right, but I took Anton up on his suggestions anyway. I was surprised when only a few minutes later our appetizers appeared fresh and piping hot. I thought that maybe since we were so late being seated, that we should expect delays but our food arrived quickly, and hot, for every meal. As I was enjoying my super yummy soup and fresh crusty rolls, another headwaiter, Miriam, arrived and introduced himself. This really confused me as he didn't actually do any of the serving, ordering etc. We deduced that the headwaiters really just oversee each section acting as a kind of assistant Matre' d. The prim rib was exquisite and the cheesecake was divine. Gabriel, our tour guide from earlier, stopped by to see how we were doing and I was still raving about the delicious croquettes served alongside the beef. He vowed to have them made special for me every night! I thought "wow" he's not even technically on our team and he's going out of his way to take extra care of us. We noticed that no matter how busy they were, all staff would go out of their way to help out. The actual Matre' d, Gabriel and Miriam, and even other headwaiters, stopped by our table throughout the week to check on us. Whenever we had a request, they would attend to it themselves instead of pawning it off on one of the assistants. This would be the way it would go all week. Anton's recommendations for me were as if he pulled the ideas from my own mind. I only had one dish that wasn't to my liking and he cheerfully brought me a second item to drool over. Ajay never let our drink glasses get empty and was quick to fill any needs we had. I mentioned earlier about drink service in CCL's dining room being slow. I have to tell you that Ajay never let hubby's beer get empty. Hubby is hard to impress but this nearly floored him. On day three we were finally joined by two sisters (also first time on RCL) who were there to photograph a wedding and they were pleasant company for a few days. After witnessing the parade of people fulfilling our every need and checking on our well-being, they actually asked "Are you royalty or something? They seem to be treating us extra special." So you can guess who wins the dining room face-off. Dinner is almost always a highlight of any cruise we take and although we still enjoy CCL dining, this one is a no-brainier. Full diner service, elegant surroundings, royal treatment and really tasty food puts RCL as a clear front-runner. Tallys; Dining Room- RCL +2 (just have to give extra for our service Cruise Totals: CCL-2 : RCL-5 To tough to call-1 Next UP: We didn't exactly go hungry the rest of the time either.
  7. Hi Everyone who is still dragging along. After a grueling two weeks back at work, with only one day off, I finally have two blissful days of R&R in a row. Hopefully I can finish up my review as I plan on having two very relaxing, stay in my pajamas, relaxing on the couch, writing days. NEXT UP: Really feeling like ROYALTY: The dining experience!
  8. Around and around we go, where we stop we'll never know. Dinner time! One of the things I was looking forward to the most was trying new dinner options. I love some of the dishes on CCL but have literally tried everything and am getting a little bored with their menu. Except Warm Chocolate Melting Cake...I never get tired of that. I literally have WCMC every night and never even entertain other desert options. I have even been known to book a short cruise just to get my fix. While exploring the ship on day one, its our habit to go check out our seating assignment. We located our table and much to our chagrin, we were seated at a four-top with only one other couple. We really like sitting at the large tables and meeting new people. We have made some great memories with table mates and have had some duds. It's part of the "adbenture" and always a gamble. Although a bit disappointed, we resigned to the accommodations because you never know when you might meet your new best cruising buddies. We had late seating and arrived promptly at 8PM to the dining room. Having experienced really slow drink service on CCL, hubby ran to the Casino bar (conveniently right across from our assigned dining room) for a beer while I went in to meet our new table mates. I sat down across from our two new besties and they blankly stared at me and said "Habla Espanol?". Now I have nothing against anyone of Latino decent. As a matter of fact, if you have seen my embarkation day photos, you know I have a fondness for dark and handsome men. However, the only Spanish I speak is "Cervesa" and "Gracias" and said as much. Either they didn't understand me or they didn't think it was funny. I immediately thought this might make for some difficult, if not awkward conversation, and excused myself from the table. I grabbed hubby before he entered the dining room and approached the Matre D. I explained the awkward situation and that we would really like to be seated at a larger table anyhow. He kindly placed us at a new table, marked it on our set sail pass and called for an assistant to take us to our new table. Gabriel, who turned out to be a headwaiter, paraded us around the dining room looking for our new place. Around and around we went while a seemingly lost Gabriel followed his seating map. We circumnavigated the dining room three times before he finally returned to the Matre D to redirect him. Turns out, our new assignment was only a couple tables over from our original one. We sat and really hoped the other couple hadn't seen us or if they did, weren't offended that we moved. During our round-about we did get a good look at the dining room. The Grande Dining room is beautiful with dark Mahogany accents, elegant tables with full table settings and high back chairs. The full service and tablecloths make a more refined setting than the new(ish) American Table Dining on CCL. I have sailed a few rough seas where we had to "catch" our plates and cups due to CCL's lack of tablecloths . Also, I hate when they put the silverware, that I will be putting in my mouth, that they just wiped down with a [sometimes] not so clean cloth, directly on said table. While its easy to remedy and doesn't affect the way the food tastes, I like the extra touches that RCL puts into the dining experience. Points for keeping it classy Royal! We decided to totally forgo any specialty restaurants this trip to really give RCL main dining a chance and a fair comparison to CCL. I was however, impressed with the deals that were offered both pre-cruise and during the voyage. Much like the excursions and drink packages, RCL runs some pretty great sales in the months leading up to sail-away. Carnival never really offers any wiz-bang deals. RCL really wants to sell you their dining packages and I heard a lot of rumble about them intentionally declining their dining room quality in order to up the specialty dining revenue. We did not experience this at all. I found the food to be hot, well presented and tasty. About half the menu is the same every night and the other half changes daily. NEXT UP: Really feeling like ROYALTY: The dining experience!
  9. I think the elevator situation may have had more to do with the lack of courtesy by other passengers on this particular voyage but I dont (yet) have any other RCL trips to compare. As for the hot tubs...I actually just assumed the ones near the solarium were adults only as I never saw any kids in them...thankfully!
  10. It's more likely that Im just spoiled with 3 closets on CCL...we managed with the space provided. Though I'm sure it wasnt anywhere 5 feet of hanging space.
  11. Now a commercial break: An FYI: We were in cabin 7195 which is sandwiched between another smaller interior (I can't imagine the closet) and a promenade view interior. The deck plans show this room as being the same as the other interior with a bed against the wall. However, it's the same set up as an room with a view. I think we lucked out. Also, it was a great location with easy access to Promenade (down two), Boardwalk (down one) and Central Park (up one). The ability to avoid the [EVIL] elevators insured we spent a lot more time at these places than most of the ship (more on them later). We were nearest the forward elevators and it was easy to pop up the stairs for some fresh squeezed OJ and Latte at the Park Cafe. Public Service Announcement: If you are taking the aft elevators to deck seven, only take the ones that are on the same side of the ship as your room. We learned the hard way that there is no way to cross from port side to starboard at the back of the ship on this deck. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.
  12. Next Up: OH MY: I have to fit all this where? Even though it was tiny, I have to devote a whole page to our room. Every time I sail, I swear that I am going to pack lighter: "Just the necessities this time!" I really intended to stick to it as we weren't flying Southwest and had to pay extra for bags. I had the bright idea that we would share one big suitcase and just take our carry-ons. We did our "practice pack" about a week ahead of time and it quickly became clear that one just wouldn't do. I had hubby lug down a second large suitcase from the rafters and resigned to paying for the extra bag. Even though one suitcase wasn't enough, "just the necessities" only took up half of the second one. Once we figured out that we had more room, we decided that we just had to have more things: beach towels, that great pair of heals, a couple extra shirts for "options", books to read, light-up sneakers and snorkel gear. Our rooms were opened promptly at 1PM. We were very happy to see that our bags had already arrived and were waiting outside our door. It seems that most ships have started putting your Sea pass/Sail&Sign cards on your door. We had been using our paper boarding passes to get drinks and had no problems. Likewise, we had zero problems with our sea pass on our door. We entered and got a look at our digs for the week. On first impression: the room was very inviting. The calming blue hues and serene artwork were definitely more modern than we are used to on Carnival. We never care much about the cabin decor as we don't spend much time in our room but it was a welcome change. We have alternated our CCL cruises between ocean-view/balcony and inside cabins as a compromise. Hubby likes natural sunlight and feels safer in case of a power outage. At home, as a retiree, he usually wakes up sometime long after I'm at work. However, on a cruise in a room with sunlight, he seems to wake up at "oh my gawd it's early". I, on the other hand, need pitch dark for a restful slumber. My windows at home are blacked out and hubby says it's like a crypt. I wan't to sleep in on my vacation, so I like the crypt-like nature of the inside room. I won the "rock, paper, scissors" game and we got an inside. I have sailed all the classes of Carnival Ships inside cabins. Even though CCL claims they are all 185 SQ FT, they are not all equal but we've never felt to cramped. This cabin's size was comparable to the other inside cabins we've had on CCL. The bathroom was also about the same size as CCL: small. We loved the glass shower. CCL's cold shower curtain sticking to your butt was NOT MISSED! Total point to RCL! Unlike most CCL insides, this cabin had a couch and lots of plugs. Another point to RCL. It had the usual desk/vanity area, nightstands and cubby holes. RCL claims the cabin is 175 SQ FT and we were amazed that even with the missing 10 SQ FT, the room didn't feel crowded at all. That was until we looked in the "closet". You can barely call this thing a closet. There are several shelves and a safe on one side of the teeny, tiny not closet. On the other side there is about 2 feet of hanger space. Are you kidding me? My belongings from my two large, stuffed suitcases will not fit in here. I always guffawed at the people saying to bring all these fancy space-savers and over the door hangers as I never needed them before, even in the smallest CCL inside. That extra 10 SQ FT of closet space, that CCL provides, makes a HUGE difference. We ended up leaving our suitcases, with extra stuff in them, open under the bed so we could slide them out for easy access. Even though the bed was butted up against the not closet, it was extremely comfortable and even had a thick foam pad on it. As with CCL, I imagine this can be hit or miss depending on the ship/cabin. I also suspect that the extra pad was a carry-over request from the previous weeks' passengers. All-in-all it was a nice cabin and RCL gets points for a few things. However, the lack of closets might be a deal breaker. I have to give this point to CCL as I know I will never be able to stick to my mantra of "Just the necessities this time!" Hey, ten pairs of shoes are a necessity!!! Cruise Totals: CCL-3 : RCL-3 To tough to call-1 NEXT UP: Around and around we go, where we stop we'll never know. Dinner time!
  13. Next Up: To Elevator or Stairs: Battle between evil and EVIL! Drinks in hand, we decided to start exploring the ship. My goodness she is massive. We walked forward and aft on deck 16 and then the Lido deck. There is so much here to see and do that we were already overwhelmed. By the time we had transversed the entirety of the Lido, we were two drinks in and ready for a bite to eat. I had learned to avoid the main buffet (Windjammer) so we settled on the Solarium Bistro for a light lunch. The food there was a scaled down version of what was in the Windjammer and was tastier than what I have experienced on Carnival. We enjoyed our lunch along side a beautiful setting, a babbling brook, some nice shade and a stunning view of the surrounding area. The solarium is a really nice place and blissfully child free. However, I must add that the solarium buffet does allow children but they were well behaved. We ate here a couple times and it was pretty good for buffet food. The best part of the Solarium area, and maybe my favorite area of the ship, are the cantilevered hot tubs that hang from the side of the ship. They are super large, just the right temperature, close to the action, adults only and totally empty in the evenings. The best part, and massive points to RCL for, there are hot tubs open 24 hours a day. They close one half of the ships' tubs for cleanings and rotate port and starboard each night. After refueling with lunch and grabbing another frosty drink, it was announced that our rooms were ready. We went to the forward elevators to head to our room on deck 7. We watched several elevators go right by us, up and down, and then shrugged and decided to take the stairs to walk off lunch. We chalked up the elevator situation to first day crowds as it always is on other ships we've sailed on. That day we took a lot of stairs. Little did we know that this would be a theme throughout our cruise:To elevator or not to elevator. The elevators on the Allure are only forward and aft. This ship is so massive that you have a long trek just to get to an elevator. Once you get there, there are some that are all glass with a beautiful view as you ride to your destination. However, we had so many problems with theses rides from hell, that it became a running joke between hubby and I. First, like before, we constantly watched the glass elevators move up and down right past our floors. Then the wait for any elevator would feel like an eternity, especially when you needed to be at a scheduled show, dinner or had to pee. Lastly, the passengers on this cruise were extremely impolite and ungracious. They would pry bar their way into the (always) over-crowded elevators without and "excuse me" or "thank-you". They would refuse to move when you needed out (or to breath). They would rush over to an elevator and take the last spot even though you were patiently waiting there first. They would stand directly in front of the opening doors trapping the other passengers inside . We tried to take the [evil] stairs whenever we could, but the ship really is massive and after two days, my bad knee started to give out. From day three, there was no more option for me and we were forced to take the [EVIL] elevator. Oh how I wish I had brought my robo-knee (my brace which I hadn't needed in some time). I did have a slight fear of spending eight whole days...alone...with hubby. Not to worry! Every time we would start to get annoyed with each other, we would bag on the "elevator situation" and recite our witnessed "sardine can" antics. The discourtesies weren't only in the elevators. We had people push past us during shows without a "pardon me" or "gracias", cut in front of us in line and order loudly over us at the bars when we were already there getting drinks. Luckily, hubby and I are easy going people and didn't let any of this ruin our trip. I cant really blame RCL for it's passengers' behavior, but we hadn't ever experienced this kind of lack of courtesy on other voyages. Tallys; Buffet food Royal takes this- +1 Solarium/Adults only- Royal +1 Hot Tubs- TOTALY ROYAL - 24 Hours...need I say more. +1 Elevators- Even though not great either, Carnival wins hands-down based on the largest CCL ship (Dream) vs. Allure. I realize shes a much bigger ship and other RCL ships might be better but I can only go by my own ...really bad...experience. Cruise Totals: CCL-2 : RCL-3 To tough to call-1 Note: From this point on I am going to just be talking about points of interest and areas of the ship in no particular order. I would have to write a novel (as if I haven't already made a good start on one with this blog so far) to really describe our day-to-day events. Next Up: OH MY: I have to fit all this where?
  14. Next Up: First Impressions and Hair of the Dog! Disclaimer: Some of the opinions I will have in the coming pages may not sit well with everyone. I promised the good the bad and the ugly. I realize that a lot of things are not apples to apples but I intend an honest comparison of my own experiences of RCL and CCL. Remember these are my own opinions and everyone should seize the day and make their own impressions and memories. The usual jittery excitement began after about an hour as we started to see rows stand and make their way toward the shiny golden entryway. We waited. Then we waited some more. Finally, after about what seemed like a third of the terminal with priority boarding was gone, the [loud] bullhorn announced it was cattle class's turn. We just needed to get through the golden gateway and our vacation could really begin and I could get a drink to kill the Lumberjack! Wait! Stop for the usual photo op then onto paradise! Walk the long gangway and just around the next corner lies the bliss of a frosty cold concoction to help me hang on. Oh! Maybe just one more corner until I get my first glimpse of my new home. Several long hallways and corners later, in Florida heat/humidity, and we we had pretty much sweated enough to detox from the night before. After this long trek to board, I realized the enormity of the ship we were on! We walked into the blissful cool of the Promenade and were ready for the awe to set in. Honestly, it really didn't. Don't get me wrong, it really was beautiful and unlike anything I had seen on other ships. I think a couple things contributed the the lack of "wow" factor for me. a) I had watched every You-Tube video, google walk-through and scoured every CC post with millions of pictures. It was no surprise what I would see. My advice to newcomers: If you want to be surprised, don't peel back the wrapping and peek at your presents. b) We were so hot and yucky from sitting in the terminal, head-achy from the previous nights' antics and the kids' play-place, hungry and in much need of a drink-of-the-day. We wanted to put our deluxe drink package to use right away so we headed right for the Sky Bar on deck 16 to get some Hair of the Dog before starting our ships' exploration. The view was amazing and we finally felt that sense of awe as we looked down over the central park, across at the four pools and all the activity already taking place on the aft of the ship. Next Up: To Elevator or Stairs: Battle between evil and EVIL!
  15. A fuzzy embarkation day! We had scheduled the free shuttle to the port for 10am on embarkation day and wanted to take advantage of the free breakfast so our alarms were set for 8am. Usually I can't sleep before a cruise but again, we were surprised when I blinked and eight hours had gone by. Hubby couldn't believe that I hadn't jumped up and down on the bed to wake him before sunrise. However, this time the alarm was way to loud in proportion to the number of drinks I had consumed the night before. We dragged ourselves to breakfast for some light vittles and loads of coffee. Captain Morgan was greeting guests in a much to cheery way! Really, it was a nice touch that I would have appreciated if a tiny lumberjack with an ax wasn't picking away at my brain. Over the [very] loudspeaker, came the announcement that the shuttles would be leaving early for anyone that was ready so we gathered our luggage and set off for the port. A short ten minutes later, we were walking into the terminal. "Please don't make me remove my sunglasses" was all I could think at first. Then my hangover was almost forgotten as I was pleasantly greeted by a lady with an i-pad to check us in. Seriously, there was no line, no "I'm not sick" paperwork to fill out, no taking our photo. Point to RCL for being able to take care of this before leaving home. Being a newbie to RCL, I didn't get express check-in nor priority boarding, but was through the entire process and heading to the waiting area in about three minutes. Once in the waiting area I was less impressed. It was lined with rows and rows of chairs for the masses. Cattle class was seated in order of arrival and priority was sat in another area. I managed to get a look at the priority waiting area and it didn't seem like much to me. I nearly cried when we took our seats and found that right next to us was a children's play place. I think this would be a total win for people with small children anxiously waiting for their adventure. However, for us middle-aged party-going empty-nesters, it was torture!!! The next bit of torture was the attendants keeping everyone in order and up-to-date over their bull horns. Again, I probably would have appreciated this if not for that nagging Lumberjack. Is it a win for RCL over CCL? There are some terminals which really bite bullets and some that are great on CCL. I usually dread New Orleans embarkation but the last time I was in CCL's New Long Beach terminal, I was completely blown away (It helps that I am Platinum with them and might be biased). Cruise Tally: Ease of Check goes to RCL +1 Priority Lounge goes to CCL +1 Cattle Class area and Process - Can't make this call due to unfair bias of a) Lumberjack and b) having platinum advantage on CCL Next Up: First Impressions and Hair of the Dog!
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