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emeraldcity

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About emeraldcity

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About Me

  • Location
    Ohio
  • Interests
    Travel,dancing,meeting people
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Hawaii!!!!!! <3

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  1. It sounds like Royal Caribbean is making the best possible decision. The protests are taking place a few scant blocks from the port. Given the nature of the protests today, if I was on a ship docking there tomorrow I wouldn't get off.
  2. I used to use the tactic of just calling back and getting someone else, and that usually worked by the time I had a made a third call. Last time, however, I simply kept quietly insisting to the rep that I wanted the price for a balcony cabin that was now on the web site and I was willing to pay the difference between my original inside booking and the now reduced price for the balcony … less my C&A balcony discount. The price should have come to about $1200 more for the cabin (23-day transpacific cruise). It was less than 2 weeks to sailing and they were deeply discounting the last few balconies. She kept saying she didn't see that price and was quoting me $8000+ for the upgrade. She told me the price I was seeing was for new booking only. I replied that I was on the RC website -- not a travel agency website -- and that was the price for that cabin … and I was willing to pay that price. I told her I could understand that she might not have access to that price, but someone in her office certainly did and I would be happy to wait on the phone while she found that person to assist us. There was a fair amount of back-and-forth discussion, but I kept quietly insisting that I'm sure there was a way to make me satisfied. The call took over and hour, including several chunks of time on hold while things were sorted out with someone higher up the chain, but she eventually came back with the upgrade at a price I was willing to pay (about $40 more than expected, but I wasn't going to quibble over that) and I was very happy with my balcony on that long cruise.
  3. I'm afraid I was terribly underwhelmed. Even if it was an included event (nothing is free) I wouldn't go again. The tables were long banquet style, not nice congenial round groupings and I wasn't impressed by the menu. The show itself was pretty cheesy, but if you had a few drinks before arriving, you'd probably be mellow enough to get into it.
  4. Can we at least agree that we should look for ways to "pay it forward" and hold the elevator door for someone who needs a bit of extra time to get to the elevator … or a bit of extra space for the scooter? Someday, it may be us. If we all commit to doing it once, I suspect the issue will resolve itself.
  5. Through the Canal I really didn't have high expectations for the experience of passing through the canal. I just anticipated that it would be somewhat like a sea day. Perhaps having low expectations was what enabled me to have a truly memorable experience. I woke up long before the sun was up and hurried up to the Observation lounge to watch the approach to the channel. Staff had set up four rows of folding chairs at the front of the lounge so that a larger number of passengers could have the opportunity to be comfortably seated for the part of the experience they would spend in this location. There were several padded loungers occupied by folks with blankets and pillows … obviously having staked out their claim the night before. It was still dark when we approached the point where the channel split into two. We went left and the ship behind us went right. The sun broke the horizon before we carefully edged into the first lock. I had plenty of time to change my vantage point to the aft to watch the locks close. For the locals, the closed locks meant that the road reopens, as each of the two lower gates apparently serve as one lane of a highway that connect the two sides of the country. We waved to some of the passing cars and a few of them honked their horns in response. The open area on the forward bow is generally a crew area, but the Bliss opened it up on deck 8 for passengers during the transit. I switched to this vantage point for a bit to get a different view for my pictures. There was an air of excitement as fellow passengers shared their observations of the process. As I recall it took about 2-1/2 hours to get through the locks and glide out into the lake. It was at that point that the early morning rush to see the start of the process was taking it's toll. I headed back to the bat cave to get a long nap. When I woke up, we'd passed through the lake and were making our way through the channel toward the locks on the Pacific side. My favorite viewpoint for much of this passage was on the side, watching the country slip by. However, once we neared the Culebra Cut I had to head back to the front of the Observation Lounge to marvel in the view and contemplate the vast amount of effort involved in having moved all that soil to allow to the canal to go through. The ship ahead of us was clearly smaller, so as we approached the point where the channel split in two, they went left and this time we went right … to the new locks. Then we had several hours to be eased into each succeeding lock and be lowered back to sea level. Clearly, it is one thing to read about the canal and the effort involved in making it a reality. It is another thing all together to pass through it and come to grips with the huge undertaking that this represented. How much was the toll? We heard several figures, but I'm going to believe the one that was given over the PA system by the representative of the Canal Authority who came on board for the narrative of the crossing … $889,624 USD.
  6. LOL. I'm one of those people who makes that race track "a bit tense" … don't let the gray hair fool you. I happily note I lapped several people when I tried it out. I probably would have spent more time on the track but the helmet was so tight fitting it was uncomfortable. I had the opportunity to visit the Miraflores locks before the new locks opened. It was quite the thing … people fill the grand stand and cheer when the ships go through the locks. What I'd really like to see is an itinerary that stops in Panama City after passing through the locks. It's a fascinating place, and they could easily do an overnight there and give people till 5:00 the next afternoon before they sail. I only regret on my previous visit that we only overnighted there, which didn't allow for enough time to see the ruins of the original town.
  7. The ports This cruise will go down in history as the one that experienced the most itinerary changes from the time I booked until the time I sailed. I believe there were four -- all of them involved a changing cast of characters featuring the Mexican Riviera. Frankly I didn't really care, since I'd never been to any of those ports, so I was pretty emotionally detached. I do admit to having some concern about the final line-up, which included Acapulco. The savvy members of the roll call quickly pointed out that the entire state of Guerrero (where Acapulco is located) was listed as a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) travel advisory security risk by the U.S. State Department. Of course, that's probably "Fake News", ... Right? Cartagena - Some serious development has gone into the passenger port facilities since my previous visit. Arriving passengers are deposited at the entrance to a tropical garden ruled by strutting peacocks and colorful parrots. Buried in the garden is a sizeable shop you have to negotiate through to get to the taxies. It was a flat fee of $20 to get to the old town, where we had booked a "free" walking tour. What should have been a short drive was a stop-and-go marathon, with more "stop" than "go". As a result, we arrived at the meeting point on time, but our tour had apparently departed. So we located another group peddling free tours and got the experience we had planned for anyway. It is an intriguing old city with plenty of stories to tell and we got the highlights of them during our two-hour tour. Street vendors circled on group fairly often and I swore when I retired I never needed to buy jewelry again, but there was that bracelet that caught my eye … and the price was right. I didn't even bargain because I figured a couple extra bucks probably meant a lot more to the vendor than they did to me. Since we had a 1:30 "All Aboard", we didn't linger in town after the tour, but I would have liked to have wondered a bit on my own, as it's similar in feeling to Old San Juan … and I love OSJ. Costa Rica - Tom's port guides says this is the most beautiful of the stops and you should really book an all-day tour here, but our next stop was Guatemala, where an all-day tour was really the only option and I really don't like all day tours. So I opted for half-day "Scenic Costa Rica" through NCL and cheated myself of the fantastic day that other members of my group enjoyed. So ... Don't do as I did: Do as I should have done. Scenic Costa Rica gave us a chance to see a bit of the interior, get treated to a group of native dancers and get a 30-minute stop at a store with great prices that deserved far more of my time than 30-minutes. It was an interesting day, but it could have been a fantastic one. Guatemala - We had booked a guided tour of Colonial Antigua with NCL and we received a notice with our tickets that there was a huge religious festival in town that day so we wouldn't be getting quite the same tour as originally planned. We boarded the bus and they apologized for the smoky conditions that prevented us from seeing the mountains from the coast. Having been brought up in a steel town, I made the mental connection that they probably had unregulated industrial emissions to deal with in this third world country. And you know what they say about people like me who make assumptions... Once we got closer to the "mountains" we found we were gazing at two smoking volcanoes. We even passed through an area under reconstruction after a lava flow had destroyed the town only a few months earlier. In Antigua, the original plan involved mini-buses to squire us around town, but due to the crowds that was impossible. We set off on foot on what would turn out to be the highlight of our trip. In a Latin American town of old stone buildings and cobblestone streets we joined a throng of local people who had come to this town from hours away for a special Easter procession. In multiple places, elaborate "carpets" made of flower petals and colored sand were laid out for the procession to walk through. The disturbed remnants were then swept away. There were other groups of tourists like us somewhere, but we never saw them till we joined up at a restaurant for lunch. The procession itself was very moving and the day was far better than it would have been had we just heard another tour guide talk about the history of various buildings. When we returned to the port, we had a chance to shop a bit at the port facilities. Here again, the port authorities have gone to a great deal of trouble to create a cruise port in the midst of the commercial one … a very attractive setting with a collection of shops selling beautiful, colorful wares. Acapulco - With that Level 4 advisory on my mind, I decided to stay close to the ship. Some members of our party headed off on a shore excursion with the highlight being the famous cliff divers. Meanwhile I wandered off the ship and checked out the nearby star-shaped fort. There was a very visible commando presence in and around the port area, so I was pretty certain I would be successful in returning to the ship in one piece. Acapulco is undeniably an incredibly enchanting port. Beautiful condos tumble down the slopes of the landmasses that surround the port area. How truly unfortunate that the crime issue is so strong that people are unable to visit comfortably. Mazatlán - We opted for a tour from Viator, booked months in advance. It took us to the old town, as well as the new town. The new town was amazing, while the old town didn't have the antiquity of our previous stops. The expanse of beach in Mazatlán was breathtaking and I would have enjoyed taking off my sandals and walking along the water's edge. There are cliff diver's in Mazatlán as well and our guide arranged for a diver to show off for us, after which we coughed up the expected tip. Cabo San Lucas - We had arranged another independent tour here and I am told it was fantastic. They got to see the sea arch as planned … then some whales showed up as well as some walruses, which was definitely not in the tour description. Then after the tour they went to a great Mexican place and got margaritas and nachos. Me? I was quarantined that day with my sick cabinmate. I had free room service and the pay-per-view movies were complimentary. So instead of whales, I watched Aquaman. Maybe some day, I'll go back and see that Sea Arch.
  8. I've cruised a wide variety of itineraries … I even cruised out of Panama … but I never did a Panama Canal transit. So when my friends booked the Bliss for the Panama Canal transit from Miami to LA, I happily joined them. I haven't racked up a lot of nautical miles with NCL, but I've enjoyed the ones I've done (OK, the Jade was a bit of a disappointment, but I still had a good time) so I had high expectations for this cruise. And it certainly lived up to those expectations. The Bliss is a beautiful ship … very well laid out. The Observation Lounge is an incredible venue … best lounge on any ship I've ever sailed on. Wonderful plush seating in appealing living room groupings all along both sides of the ship … with expansive glass for drinking in the passing view. It had the added plus of a bar for the thirsty, a light buffet for the hungry and live entertainment in the evenings. As the cruise progressed, the number of people who discovered it increased exponentially and it was a bit challenging to find an area to settle down with a book. The pool deck had plenty of available loungers in the sun for the sun-worshippers on this cruise, although the older demographic found it a bit challenging to find enough shaded seating on occasion. I suspect that a 7-day Caribbean cruise packed with sun worshippers would find this ship lacked enough pool deck, due to the space devoted to the race track. I found the race track to be great fun, although they didn't make a lot of money from me. In fact, I can't see that this is a big money maker, even if they ran it full-time. I believe there were three staff dedicated to and they had six cars on the track when I drove. That's $60 for ten minutes. They're only pulling in a few hundred dollars an hour. The bowling lanes stand a chance of turning a better profit because it's $6/game and it requires far less real estate, along with no staff. In any event, it was terribly novel to be racing at sea. They could add a bit of interest by clocking the cars so you'd have a way to challenge yourself on subsequent races ... just a thought ... The casino had an enclosed space for smokers. Although the smell drifted into the open part of the casino, it wasn't as overpowering as other ship casinos I've passed through when navigating the ship. The entertainment ranged from the fantastic (The Jersey Boys) to the mediocre (most headliners). I found the sight lines in the theater could have been improved if there was a more enhanced drop from one row to the next. I'm over average height and the head of the person in front of me always blocked part of the show … a particular issue for where the magician was standing during much of his show. I thought most of the comedians in the Comedy Club were very good. The lounge entertainers were all quite good in their particular genre, but the real stand-out was the Duo Rika. The cruise director and his team were among the very best I've sailed with. Silas was very visible around the ship during major events as well as extremely approachable and personable. They included a number of events I've never seen before, which added to the level of interest. Kudos to their continued use of the available venues to host events that kept people engaged. The food was very good. Main Dining Room fare was a step up from RCI ... although maybe I'm just too used to their menus and was ready for a change. The table service was professional, but I can't say it was hospitable. On RCI, the staff is hoping for a possible additional gratuity and it results in a warm, welcoming experience from the wait staff ... so I honestly missed that experience. Our cabin was OK, but it was so very "compact". This isn't the first time I'd booked an inside, but it was the first time I was quarantined in one -- which gives you lots of time to notice some deficiencies 🙂 . I'd come off the Mariner of the Seas the day before boarding the Bliss and I had an inside there as well. We didn't have nearly the problem finding space on the Mariner for all our stuff as we did on the Bliss. The bathroom was the only stand-out about it. It was a very nice size and had the biggest shower I've ever had on a ship (unless I booked a suite). I can understand that there wasn't enough space for a couch or even an armchair, but why, of why, didn't they provide some drawers to store stuff? There were a wide variety of venues for complimentary breakfasts ... my favorites were Margaritaville at Sea and the Observation Lounge. It beat dealing with the chaos of the Garden Cafe. And a special treat was the nice relaxing option of a complimentary sit-down option for lunch on boarding day, which is something you'll never find on RCI. Next up … The Ports
  9. I'm interested in an answer to this as well. I am going to be on the March 25th sailing of the Mariner and we've been guessing whether the planned stop at Coco Cay will actually take place.
  10. Thank you for taking the time to give this review. It is well written and very informative. I'm part of a group that met on the Brilliance spring TA some years ago and a number of us will be meeting in Miami in late March to do this 4-day cruise, so it was interesting to get someone's take on what to expect. You don't mention the evening shows, which is something we always try to schedule our evening around. Did you attend any? Special aside to Doreen: Bring games … we'll have to entertain ourselves … I think we can rise to the challenge.
  11. I thought the St. Lawrence Seaway would be the visual delight that we had cruising the inside passage to Alaska … it was a dud. As the earlier poster noted … it is wide so expect to treat the time like a sea day.
  12. We carried our luggage off, but customs was the delay. We didn't make it to the airport until 9:00.
  13. My information is going to be a bit dated, but we did the Chiva Party Bus in April 2012. Keep in mind that this is an open air bus in a very hot country. I struggled with the heat index. The emphasis is on music, booze and partying, but they did a very credible job of providing standard tour info. It was billed as multi-lingual and they did some English, but you will get more out of it if you speak Spanish. They chattered in Spanish for maybe 5 minutes, and they gave a quick 60 seconds in English. Spanish-speaking friends on the tour told us we missed a lot. Every row on the bus got an ice bucket, coke and a bottle of rum. We did the obligatory stop outside the fort and also a lakeside stop to dance and try to play some of the instruments ourselves. We spent quite a bit of time at a section of the old city wall, where we were able to shop in some shops that were built into the wall and then climb the wall for yet another opportunity to listen to music. The tour ran over. Long after I was expecting us to be heading back to the ship they were still partying atop the wall. I was so hot, I just wanted to be back on the ship.
  14. Sounds like you talked to someone who gave you the easy answer rather than checking with someone else who was better informed. There were about 400 people who left the Adventure on Day 12 at Port Canaveral, rather than continuing on to Ft. Lauderdale. This was the Snowbird Migration cruise this past October, which originated in Canada. I believe the people who made advance arrangements to do so had to pay about $60-65 each. And yes, a flight back to Kona the following day is an option, but you have to consider the aspect of a full morning lost taking transport to the airport, waiting for the flight, collecting baggage after the flight, etc. I'm sure you connect with someone at Royal who can be more accommodating than the past person you talked to.
  15. I was on Adventure in October and the staff hosted an escape room game in the main show lounge one day, so if you're looking to try out the experience, keep an eye on your cruise compass.
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