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About rsharp83

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    St. Joseph Missouri
  • Interests
    Snow skiing, water skiing, SeaDoo, boating,basketball.

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  1. Thanks for a very informative review with some good humor. Will be sailing Glory in January 2020. First cruise on Carnival. We are typically Royal cruisers. But this cruise is part of a Dairy Queen convention so Carnival it is. Looking forward to the Alchemy bar, I may need to purchase a drink package.
  2. I have changed my advice on flying Typically, when people ask, “When do we need to fly to the port?” my response has always been, fly in at least one day before sailing. Well, I am changing that advice for my groups from now on. It is no longer safe to say, “The day before we sail.” We had a family of 5 on our trip. Mom and dad have cruised before with our group. Dad flies for a living. He escorts prisoners who are being taken back for warrants. He flies all the time and he flies with a gun. He has been trying to rack up enough air miles to cover the airfare for all his family to go on the cruise. Which means he waited until late in the game to book his travel. I don’t know for sure if he did this because no other flights were available or because he had to work on Friday, but he booked late flights out of Kansas City to Orlando. Their original arrival time in Orlando was midnight. We started getting texts from his wife while we were all eating pizza in the hotel lobby. “Flight delayed, flight delayed again, and again.” Finally, way late in the evening they got out of KC and made it to Dallas (no they weren’t on Southwest). In Dallas they were told that they were going nowhere. Lots of storms and the airport crews had apparently gone home or at least were not doing baggage. They retreated to a hotel. Dad was working to get an alternate flight, but nothing was available. There were storms all over the Midwest and everything was booked. They got on standby for a 5 am flight that would get them to Orlando with out much time to spare. It then became apparent to me that there was no way they were getting 5 people off standby and onto a plane. They missed sail away. Now they were stuck. The first possible day to meet Harmony was on day 4, St. Thomas. Unless they could parachute into Coco Cay. They spent 3 lovely days in Dallas and then flew to St. Thomas on Wednesday. The met the ship late in the afternoon. I saw mom later that evening at dinner. I said how are you doing? She replied. “I’m 5 drinks in.” And the airline lost one of their bags back in Dallas and they never got it before leaving for St. Thomas! From now on a am amending my advice to all my groups. My new mantra: Never fly day of cruise. Get a flight before 10 am if possible. Don’t fly out late in the day and never take the last available flight. Take a non-stop if possible. If you cannot get out early afternoon, then go an extra day before. With all the weather and other flying issues now, you just have to go earlier than before. Missing over half the cruise to save a few bucks on flights is no savings at all.
  3. As always – Captain Bob Delivers And why I try to avoid ship sponsored excursions In 2015 I took my first cruise and we booked Capt Bob, AKA: Soualiga Destinations. When we arrived at the dock Bob met us and said that conditions were very rough that day and there were big swells and high winds. He told us that he would take us out if we wished but it wouldn’t be a good experience. He refunded our money that day. He helped us make other arrangements in SMX. And he said that he’d rather take a loss of revenue that day than to give us a poor experience. He said when you come back to the island, I’d be happy if you gave us another opportunity. That sold me on Bob Cass and his operation. This was our second time on the tour. And we brought a lot of first-time cruisers as well as some experienced cruisers that hadn’t done this excursion. We had an entire boat of 24 people. I started talking to Bob almost a year ahead of our trip because I wanted to get a full boat of our people. He’s always responsive and provides good information. For those of you that cruise and do excursions I want to emphasize the differences between a private tour operator like Capt Bob and the cruise line sponsored excursions. Many people are too afraid to book private operators and only use cruise line providers. That’s unfortunate. We did a boat and snorkel tour the day before in St. Thomas. We booked it through the cruise line because we had a very strange port docking time (noon) and most of the private operators leave well ahead of that time-frame. So, I bit the bullet and booked an excursion for 25 people. They crammed (or tried to cram, because 3 people walked off before the tour began) 130 people on to their boat. People were standing, sitting on coolers or sitting on the edge of benches to try and make room. It was not a pleasant experience. It’s a cattle call tour. And 3 staff members to service 130 people. One crew member for every 43 people on board. Music was blaring so loudly you couldn’t even talk. The 2 places we went were fine but getting around in that boat was awful. Contrast that experience with Capt Bob the next day. Several boats went out on his tour. 20 or so people in each boat. Personalized service and interaction from the moment we arrived at the dock. Bob’s son was running the boats that day, Bob was watching from his office on the port camera. We did our sign-in and wavier stuff and then we were escorted by our 2 crew members to a beautiful and fully shaded boat. I commented that I’d never seen a boat like it and that’s because Bob had it custom built for his tours. It was the best excursion craft I’ve ever been on. I’ve been on quite a few. Notice Bob is running a 1 to 12 crew/passenger ratio. That’s the service level you want on a tour. We made numerous stops for snorkeling, swimming, visiting beaches and seeing the airplanes at Maho Beach fly right over us. We did a full circumnavigation of St. Maarten because the water was fairly calm that day. Every aspect of Bob’s tour is well planned and executed. You literally couldn’t be a better tour operation. Less than 20 minutes into the tour my first timers that had also done the St. Thomas tour came up to me and said, “OK, I understand why you were not happy with the tour yesterday. This tour is completely the opposite experience. This is fantastic!” The beaches and water that day were unbelievable. The water was crystal clear, like a post card. Everyone who went on this tour – even the very experienced cruisers – said it was a great tour. One of, if not the best tour they had ever been on. I am headed back to SMX in 2020, It’s highly likely we will be back on tour with Soualiga Destinations and Capt Bob. Cruise line passengers, skip the cattle call and book this tour. You won’t regret it.
  4. The first part of this story I shared was a group of us running through EPCOT in a downpour. Here's the rest of the story... We got to the bus and entered looking like drowned rats. But everyone else was some bit of wet as well, maybe not as wet as we were. The bus to Coronado Springs was uneventful. After we got off the bus it got more interesting. We had never been to our rooms. And if you've ever seen Coronado Springs you know that it is HUGE. There are 1,920 rooms set around a 14 acre lake. The buildings are 3 story with exterior walkways. More rooms are being built in a large tower that should be open later this year. There are 3 villages around the lake and getting from A to Z requires a hike. sometimes a long hike. Note: They just opened a new bridge across the lake that cuts down on some of the walking. It is so new that it isn't yet on the maps at the resort. So. in brief the resort is very spread out and getting to the main hub is a pretty good walk. The pods of rooms are in a village and in that village are (I think) 17 buildings that look very much the same. At night in the rain and lightening, they look exactly the same. After exiting the bus the next job was finding our building. that wasn't too hard. However, finding our rooms was a bit trickier. First of all there is only ONE elevator in each building. it took forever to find the elevator because we didn't know better. The bellhops don't even use the elevators! We eventually found the elevator. And when we started up it shook and made a loud noise that scared us all! But by this time we were on the verge of collapse anyway. The trek to find our rooms was another adventure. Things are marked everywhere but it is a maze the first couple of times you do it. And again, night and storming conditions didn't help. We got into our rooms and of course our luggage is not there. Used to be Disney would bring your bags and leave them in your room so when you returned from your Magical day your luggage was there to greet you. Not anymore. Probably for liability reasons. We all called the bell service desk. Only to be told that all luggage delivery had been suspended until further notice because of the storm. We were told that we could come get our luggage at the main building. We had no clothes and we were soaking wet. We started the journey to the luggage. Lucky for me I only made it half way before I got a call from one of the other people in our group. They were with all the luggage in the main building and the all clear had been given by whatever benevolent Disney being does those sorts of proclamations. We headed back to the room to await luggage. The others dragged their luggage back to their rooms. My wife said, "I have to get out of these clothes and into a shower. When they show up just tell me so I don't walk out of the bathroom at an inappropriate time." Our bags eventually arrived, being lugged by one of the managers! They were so overwhelmed that she was delivering bags. That's Disney service, they really do try to go the extra mile. And she couldn't even accept my tip.
  5. Yes. We were caught in the monsoon at Epcot. More specifically the French pavilion. That’s about as far away from the exit as you can get. We we were trapped under a small crepe cart with a minimal awning smashed up against a trash can. Then an we made a run for it... We were soaked to the bone.
  6. Debarkation was super fast. Less than 30 minutes from room to parking. Walk off. Of our our private shuttle isn’t here yet. Most depressing picture. But we have a day at EPCOT today. A way to fight off post cruise depression.
  7. Solarium Bistro was a great dining experience. On par with other specialty restaurants without the add on price! Just give it a try. There is food there for everyone.
  8. Kathy. It’s not just soccer, they’ve shown a TON of cricket. Just so excited for cricket. Also NBA Finals in the On Air bar.
  9. The Abyss = OUCH Since the flow rider was out I decided to get my Abyss ride done. It was open, there was no line, and I could maybe get a few rides in before a crowd formed. I walked over and the guy said, “I’m sorry sir but this a private session. You’ll need to come back at 10:30.” Grrrrrrrr. I killed time. I showed back up. He gave my my slide mat. I entered the fish mouth. It is a bit of a trick to get going. You need to scoot forward and that can be awkward. But mission accomplished and I was sliding into the Abyss! Picking up speed quickly and here comes the first turn...WHAM. Maybe I wasn’t leaning back enough or maybe that’s just what happens. I don’t know exactly. What I do know is that all of a sudden the side of my head is smashed against the slide and I can feel the skin burning off my face. (That’s probably a bit dramatic, but my skin was definitely in a losing battle with the Abyss). I got repositioned and got my face off of the slide. I managed not to smack the slide again. The speed was pretty intense and I could feel the dizziness coming on. Then it was over. More scooting to get out. And I’m up and wooziness took over. My head hurt and there was a little blood on my head. Abyss 1, Randy 0. Several others from our group tried the Abyss. They all had similar tales of banging into the slide with shoulders and knees. I’ve done it once. Probably won’t do it again.
  10. Flow Rider = FAIL I am a vet of the flow rider. Now, that doesn’t mean I’m a GOOD flow rider vet, it just means I can stand up and ride a bit before I wipeout. (Note to those following closely, I’ve never lost any clothing on the flow rider). Friday morning the compass said flow rider open 9 am to 6 pm. That’s all. No breakdown of any sessions that were for this or that group only. So I dragged myself out of bed while my wife was still zzzzzzzzzz, and quietly left the cabin. I was prepared! I had my long sleeve UV protection T-shirt from Adventure Antigua. Minimal other stuff. I had pre-signed waivers. I was mentally prepared to get my big 30 second ride done. I arrived early, others did as well. Finally, they opened up check in. I was given a white wristband. Wait, “I’m doing stand up not boogie board,” I said. The reply was, “New Royal policy, everyone has to do the boogie board first.” *****? I told him that I’ve done several cruises and I am an experienced flow rider. (Note. My phone tried to predict my next word as I typed that sentence. It predicted AWESOME as in, I am an awesome flow rider. My phone lies.) No way around it, I must start on the boogie board. I took my white band and lined up. Then the flow rider crew said, “All suite and Key members line up here.” Huh? Yep, a private hour for the beautiful people. I can’t get my boogie boarding clearance for another hour. Grrrrrr. Meanwhile, on the stand up side it was Experts Only. So I was screwed both ways. I had had to be at our Group Photo in the solarium at 11:15 latest. No way I can get through boogie board, getting a new black band, and waiting in the stand up line in time. Since I am the organizer of this whole trip, I felt I probably needed to be in the picture. So, I gave up on the flow rider. It’ll be my first non flow rider cruise. I don’t like the new policy. I’d not heard anything about it. I’m wondering what other people have experienced. I don’t understand why the compass and app aren’t listing the specific sessions on the flow rider. They always have in the past. The flow rider rider was out. But I had another thing I could do...
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