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The Symphony, The Key, Two Teens, And Me!


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20 hours ago, Grenouille21 said:

Being an introvert or extrovert is more about how you recharge yourself. Think of your phone (or your Walkman, if you're one of those people). When it isn't plugged in, the battery is slowly draining. It works just fine until it gets down to 10-15%, then it starts sending out warnings. "Plug me in!!" The phone (Walkman) is you. Your battery is slowly draining when you are away from whatever it is that charges you. You manage just fine, until you've been away from your charging situation too long. For me, an introvert, I charge when I am not interacting with people. If people keep trying to talk to me when I am trying to recharge it makes me angry and resentful. I want be left alone, not because I hate them, but because I need a break. I need to not have to answer questions or interact. I need to process and think and be alone with my thoughts, again not because I am being dramatic or can't deal with your crap, I just need that time. I can't explain it because it just is that way. Extroverts, I guess, are the opposite. I would imagine after being left alone for a while, an extrovert needs to interact with someone in order to recharge.  
 

I can 100% relate to this.  I also have a teenage daughter that doesn't quite understand my special needs.  (BTW apologies to anyone reading if I didn't post this correctly)

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4 hours ago, kendevjay said:

I can 100% relate to this.  I also have a teenage daughter that doesn't quite understand my special needs.  (BTW apologies to anyone reading if I didn't post this correctly)

 

It seems like extroverted behavior is the "norm" in society, and so it does feel like having a special need when you are different from what you are supposed to be.  I have been accused of "pouting" or "sulking" when really I am just recharging, and thinking about something completely benign like what color nail polish to try out next.  

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Day 4 continued
 
Before we got back on the ship, we wanted to do some shopping.  DD wanted to buy something to wear for dinner, as she had only brought t-shirts and jeans, and a dream.  So we explored some of the shops.  We had reservations at the Escape room at 4:00pm, and we had to be there exactly at 4 or we would lose our spot.  It was probably 3:30 and I kept telling DD that we had to get back on the ship, we had reservations, etc. but she was absolutely set on buying a "nice" shirt or dress.  
 
They really did not have anything good in the shops but she kept pulling out shirts and asking to buy them.  I made her try them on and all of them were awful.  She really likes the off the shoulder look, but doesn't understand that wearing an off the shoulder top means you have to adjust other things you are wearing.  So I kept saying no to everything she tried.  Or she would pull our some crocheted half top thing that was actually just a bunch of holes held together with yarn and that was a big no as well.  
 
The woman in the shop kept trying to convince me that whatever top DD was trying on looked great on her.  "It looks seeeeeeeexxxxxy!" she said.  That was exactly the wrong thing to say to convince a mother to buy ANYTHING for her 15 year old daughter, and I pretty much told her that.  So we left.  I think I bought a magnet or something.
 
We were definitely cutting it close on time, and we had to drop our bags at the room.  I really needed a bathroom stop (sorry for the TMI but it is important to the story) so I told the kids to run up to the room, drop their bags, and run up to Deck 14 to tell them we were there and that I was coming.  It was probably exactly 4 at this point, and I figured we would have a few minutes grace period especially if they were just waiting for me. I told them to go ahead and do it without me if needed, but to GO UP THERE ASAP.  It seems like that would be a pretty easy thing to do, but nope.  
 
I got up to the room and the kids were still in the room.  DS was in the room and DD was in the bathroom sobbing.  I asked what was going on and apparently they had some huge knock down physical fight in the 5 minutes it took to get up to the room.  I knew this meant that we had lost our chance at the Escape Room because there was no way they would wait if none of us were there.  I told them exactly how much this was costing me, and not to follow me, and that I was done with their nonsense, and I ran up to Deck 14 to see if at least I could still go.  
 
But the door was closed, and there was no way to get in.  We had missed it.  
 
The kids were texting me all kinds of "I'm sorry" messages, well DD was, DS just asked me if the stones in one of my rings were real (really, where on earth did that come from and NO that was like a $10 ring from Amazon).  
 
I went to Guest Services and explained that we had been late coming back and missed our Escape Room time, and was there any possibility of rescheduling or possibly getting a refund.  I figured there was no hope of either one, but it couldn't hurt to ask.  I was told the Activities manager would call me later.  Again I figured there was no way anything would come of this and was bummed but OK with it.  
 
I wandered around a bit, making DD and DS stew a bit (or so I thought).  I went to the Solarium for sail away and took some photos.  
 

I finally went up to the room after maybe 45 minutes and both of them were asleep.  Whatever.  I took some photos of sail away from the balcony.

 
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Then I decided to go to the Solarium to get better photos.  Obviously this is when the special helipad access was happening, most likely for suite or top tier guests.
 
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The Solarium had become my favorite place to be for sunset, so I went there every night.  Most people had left, the chairs were almost all empty, and you could watch the sunset no matter where it was (relative to the ship, I mean, obviously it was always in the west) because you are at the front of the ship.  Other people had the same idea, but not as many as you'd think.  Sometimes I wore my bathing suit and sat in the pool with a glass of Prosecco, reading, sometimes I just took photos.  
 
Before going back to the room that evening I took some more photos, which I think I shared earlier, of the pool deck at night.  
 
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I actually have dinner photos, yay!  I am sure I had the Casear salad again.  Then I ordered the Steak Diane, and the Mushroom Risotto.  The steak was good, the risotto was ok.  
 
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DD or DS had the Chicken Parmigiana
 
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And for dessert we all had the Warm Chocolate Cookie and it was amazing.
 
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Tonight was the 80's party on the Promenade, so DD and I tried to get our spot to watch everyone.  Turns out more people had the same idea, but we managed to get a good view for a while.  
 
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But we had bigger and better plans for the evening.  We had reservations for Hiro.  Now, if you have been reading along, you have noticed a pattern with me and reservations.  I was determined NOT to be late to this one.  DS was at the Teen Club but I told him he had to come to the show.  DD and I went EARLY (for us) and of course the place was almost full.
 
The Key:  When we got to the Aqua Theater, they scanned us for reservations.  I mentioned that we had The Key and she sort of pointed to where we should go.  There was another woman, farther down, standing next to a whole row that was empty.  I asked if this was the section for The Key, and she said yes.  You guys, the whole row was empty.  It was the middle section, kind of toward the back but not technically IN the back, and it was all open.  We flashed our wristbands and took our seats right smack in the middle of the row. This was a GREAT location, amazing seats, and definitely a worthwhile perk of having The Key.  
 
I started texting DS and telling him he had better hurry because any second she was going to open up the row to the masses.  There was a long standby line, and I knew it was only a matter of time before they were let in.  
 
It was tight, but he made it just before they opened up the row, and oddly enough the row never really filled up.  I think it was still closed off on the side where the standby line was (left) but open on the other side?  I don't know.  
 
Anyway, it was time for Hiro.  Hiro is like Cirque Du Soleil meets the high dive team.  No, it is better than that.  By far.  I am not really a Cirque Du Soleil person but I am definitely a Hiro person now!  Once again they knocked it out of the park.  This show was amazing.  I cannot believe they can dive from such heights into such a small pool.  It reminded me of those cartoons where the guy dives into a cup of water.  That is basically what this show is. Or part of it, anyway.  
 
I don't want to spoil it, so I'll just share 2 videos and some photos.
 
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[MEDIA=vimeo]327405894[/MEDIA]
 
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I wish this guy were doing a cannonball, because that would be amazing, but I am pretty sure it was a flip.
 
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Just see all the shows.  All of them.  
 
After Hiro I think DS went back to the club for a bit, and DD and I wandered.  I don't think I've talked about these yet.  It is like a giant iPad, and they are on every floor.  They are fully interactive, and you can search for info, find activities, see what's going on and where, etc.  Just tap the "Main Menu" button on the bottom and it takes you to a screen where you can search for anything and everything.  Really cool!
 
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It had been a LONG day, and we would be waking up in St. Thomas tomorrow.  This guy was waiting in our room.  
 
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We hadn't got a new breakfast ordering thing to hang on the door, and I stopped in at guest services to ask about it.  They said they would have housekeeping bring one up to us.  OR maybe they said to call housekeeping?  Its blurry now.  At any rate, housekeeping came and delivered like 12 breakfast menus.  I thought about filling out all of them and hanging them on all the doors on our end of the hallway but I figured they might not appreciate that.  Plus how am I supposed to know what everyone wants for breakfast?  
 
We decided to try the pancakes this time, since the eggs etc. were a disappointment.  It is pretty difficult to mess up pancakes, right?
Edited by Grenouille21
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You really had quite the adventure with Royston! We toured St Kitts with Thenford Grey. His van had windows, and AC that actually worked! Also, there was no off reading! Even Thenford couldn’t do anything about the very narrow, winding roads, though! 😱  Those roads were even more exciting when we encountered a vehicle trying to go in the opposite direction! The drivers had a system of communicating with each other using horn signals so they knew who would be passing through the really narrow parts first. We saw a number of the same things you did, and enjoyed our tour with Thenford very much.

 

I can’t wait to hear more of your adventures!

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On 3/29/2019 at 4:24 AM, Grenouille21 said:
Day 4!  St. Kitts!  Solid ground!
 
It had been windy, but the sea had been fairly calm.  We had started out wearing Sea Bands, the motion sickness bracelets, but we had taken them off by day 2 since we didn't really need them.  We would later, but at this point we didn't.  Nevertheless, we were glad to see land and get off the ship for a bit.
 
Before I forget again:
 
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So, knowing we had to be up and out early to get to our tour guide, I ordered us breakfast to the room.  There is a free a la carte continental breakfast option, with pastries, fruit, coffee, toast, etc.  You can add on options like eggs, bacon sausage, pancakes, etc. for $7.95 flat fee.  So we went for it and got some toast, doughnuts, eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc.  No photos, sorry.  It wasn't good.  The hash browns were too salty, the eggs were not salty enough.  The bacon was ok.  And I am pretty sure there was the requisite grilled tomato, so there's that.  
 
So we cobbled together enough to keep us satisfied for a while, and headed off the ship.  
 
When I booked this cruise I wasn't sure what to do in St. Kitts.  I knew we enjoyed snorkeling, but we were planning to do that in St. Thomas, and it didn't seem like that was as much of a thing in St. Kitts.  I asked DD (back at home, long ago) what excursions she had liked on our other cruises, and she said she liked driving around and seeing the place that we were visiting.  So I looked into it, and it looked like there were some tour options that would work.  I did my research on CC, and Trip Advisor, and found 2 tour companies that were run by locals, who would take you around in a smaller group and show you THEIR island.  
 
The first one I read about was Royston, the other was Thenford Grey.  I ended up with Royston, not sure why, but it was a great choice.  I am sure Thenford would have been great, too, but I think I hadn't heard of them yet and had already reached out to Royston.  After a few quick emails, we had set it up.  I would pay when we were done with the tour.  So far it was just the 3 of us.  I posted about it in our cruise group, and another mom said she would be interested in going.  Her son was about the same age as DS, and had similar interests, so we thought it would be a good idea.  She also had a 3 year old, and was traveling with her mom, sister, and sister's family (husband and young daughter).  She wasn't sure who would be joining us initially, but in the end everyone joined and we had a full van.
 
Now, when I was reading the reviews, the same words kept standing out to me.  Words like "rustic" or "rugged" or "off the beaten path" or "Royston are you sure this is a road".  I had read that his vehicle was a van where the glass had been removed from the windows.  One reviewer said something like "If you are expecting an air conditioned tour bus, this is not the tour for you."  They were right!  But all of the reviews were glowingly positive, and the photos on the website and Trip Advisor were stunning, so I felt like we would be fine. 
 
When I told my kids about our plans, I was trying to describe the vehicle, so they wouldn't be surprised.  
 
What I said was: "It's a van with no windows."
 
What I meant was: "The glass has been removed from the windows."
 
What they heard was: "We are all going to be murdered." 
 
So after a bit more explaining, they were on board.  But every time I mentioned the tour I kept talking about the van with no windows and they were like "Mom stop talking about that it sounds so shady" but I couldn't stop.  
 
First look at St. Kitts from the balcony!
 
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I really love waking up and throwing open the curtains (and watching my kids writhe in horror from the sun like vampires) and seeing where we are.  
 
So when you order breakfast, you choose a time window for it to arrive. Little did I know they call you before they show up, so it is like a bonus wake up call.  I was already awake, but was like the third alarm for the kids (1.  the actual alarm on my phone, 2. me opening the curtains and saying "Oh look, we're here!  Look at that!", 3. the phone ringing so loudly in the room).  
 
We ate out on the balcony, at least I did, and the kids ate in bed because they really didn't want to leave their beds.
 
Eventually they rallied and we got up and got out.
 
I did have a few moments of self-doubt here and there.  What do I really know about this Royston?  How did I know he didn't write all those reviews himself?  Were we actually going to be murdered?  But I shut those thoughts aside and decided it was probably going to be fine.
 
Always have to take photos of the ship so we know where we parked it and we can find it later on.  No?  
 
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So when we got off the ship I quickly realized I had no idea where to go.  At all.  None.  
 
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I thought somehow Royston would be in the port with a sign, or something, like the airport drivers, but of course that was ridiculous.  So what to do, what to do.  
 
There were lots of guys asking if people wanted tours, wanted taxis, etc.  So I approached one of the louder and more confident guys and said "Hi we're supposed to meet Royston, do you know where he is?"  I figured it was a small island, probably everyone in the tour business knows each other.  Well score one for Mom instinct because he was like "Oh yeah, Royston.  He'll be over there, outside the port, on that side."  
 
And there he was.  With the murder van.  And the other family we would be touring with.  Who we hadn't met yet, and somehow had more people than they had said.  Royston was a little off guard about having so many people but the younger kids mostly sat on laps so it worked out.  We sat in the second row behind Royston and whoever was in the passenger seat at the time.  
 
Moms, get this: I DID NOT SIT IN THE MIDDLE AND MY KIDS (mostly) DID NOT FIGHT!!!!  I was the one paying for this tour (for my kids and I, not the other family), I was the one who wanted the photos, I was sitting next to the dang window.  It was a Christmas miracle.  
 
So we got into the murder van and headed out.  We drove through downtown Basseterre.
 
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And then we went out of the city and off to the hills.  There are 3 volcanoes on the island.  One of them is still active, and is smoking.  The last time it erupted was 1500 years ago.  We asked if it was going to erupt again and Royston kind of shrugged and was like "I don't know, maybe?" and we were all satisfied with that reply.
 
We were driving down the road, all normal, like any other tour vehicle, and then suddenly Royston jerked the wheel and turned off the road onto this dirt path that was maybe as wide as the van and going up at about a 45 degree angle.  "Aha" I thought, this is where the "Royston are you sure this is a road" comment came from on Trip Advisor.  We went up and up, through the branches, bouncing around, swaying side to side, bumping through holes, up and up until the brush cleared from one side and we had a stunning view of the end of the island.  And also a sheer drop that was about 12 inches from the tires (maybe less but I want to believe there was a foot of road there).  We kept going up, and eventually came to a clearing and Royston asked if we wanted to get out.  YES we wanted to get out!  At least I did.  There was enough space to walk around, and here the drop wasn't so sheer.  There was a gentle slope, and a ledge, and another slope... it was fine.  That's what I told myself anyway.  But it was worth it for this. 
 
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We piled back into the murder van and made our way down the "is this really a road" road.  Oh by the way DD would not get out of the car and she was terrified for most of the ascent and descent.  She had been in the window seat so she and DS switched so he was at the window.  Seemed to work out better for them.  
 
So this is the one thing I didn't like about St. Kitts.  Ok not the monkey, but what I'll show in a bit.  There were wild monkeys all over the island.  Royston said they had come over on ships (with humans, not on their own, although THAT would be a GREAT story).  Apparently the monkeys would climb the mast of the ship and they would get really excited when they saw land.  Probably because they had been trapped on a ship with humans for weeks or months and that isn't really the monkey's natural habitat, is it.  
 
So we started seeing the monkeys all over.  And chickens.  And roosters.  And chicken nuggets (baby chicks, duh).  
 
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I'll circle back to the monkeys in a bit.  
 
We kept driving, and stopped at this cemetery.
 
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Then, we got to the water, and a dock/pier, and Royston just drove right out onto the pier.  "Ok", I thought to myself, "We might not be murdered, but this IS where we will die."  I mean he was like 6 inches from driving off the pier, for sure.  I don't want to think about it.  I just looked out and admired the view.  
 
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First we thought this guy was a statue.  Then everyone thought he was spear fishing.  But it turns out he was measuring the ground levels or something for something that was being built.  
 
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I mean can you see how close we were to the edge?
 
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There were huge fish down there, and I consoled myself with the knowledge that the water wasn't that deep and if we fell in it would be pretty easy to get out of the van, what with the lack of glass in the windows.  
 
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Then we drove into a residential area and this is what I was talking about with being sad.  We stopped at this house, where this monkey was in this little chicken wire cage on the side of the house.  He was also chained to the house.  Royston gave us bananas to feed him, and petted him and loved on him, but it still made me sad.  I kept trying to ask questions like "But does it get to come out of the cage?" and "Does it get to go in the house, or go anywhere else?" but I don't think I got any real answers.  I probably don't want to know anyway.  
 
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Royston also drove us past his house.  His dad has a shop in front of the house, and he has an amazing view of the Caribbean Sea (I stupidly called it "The Ocean" so I felt dumb for the next 30 minutes or so).  He also took our lunch order and asked if we wanted fish or chicken.  Almost all of us wanted chicken.  We had no idea what that meant, because that was the extent of the lunch order.  "Fish or chicken". Would there be something served with the fish or chicken?  Were these sandwiches we were talking about?  It was very mysterious.  
 
We made a bathroom stop, which seemed to be a random bathroom in the yard of someone's house?  And Royston was friends with the guy of course.  I want to say that's where he got our lunch but that can't be right.  I don't want that to be right.  
 
We got out and saw some dogs, and at least one of them was chained.  I really just hate seeing this. I hate it.  We petted the puppies and then I realized they probably had fleas or worse so we washed/wiped our hands before getting back in the murder van.  
 
We drove out to this site, which is apparently an archeological dream come true as it has petroglyphs from the 1600s and they just recently discovered a whole rum distillery that they never knew was there.  We did not get out and explore, we just drove through.  There is a train that takes people around the island, but Royston said it just goes around the outside, not really inside the island.  Obviously these are not the tracks for that train.  That would be a death train for sure.  There were remains of the aqueduct, etc. all around.  I do wish we could have explored. 
 
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We drove around some more.  
 
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That monkey breaks my heart. It looks like it has to stand on its water bowl as the only option to standing on chicken wire. Very hard to see.

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2 minutes ago, blueridgemama said:

 

That monkey breaks my heart. It looks like it has to stand on its water bowl as the only option to standing on chicken wire. Very hard to see.

 

I am so sorry for not editing the pictures and content of my last post. I know it is annoying and drives people crazy when they have to scroll through a long previous post. I actually do not know how to edit out stuff and just pick and choose the picture or content that I want to comment on. I guess I need a tutorial or lesson😊 Again I am sorry.

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3 hours ago, blueridgemama said:

 

I guess I need a tutorial or lesson😊 Again I am sorry.

The site does not make it easy because the only option it gives you is "Quote" which puts the entire post into your reply. But you can select whatever you want to get rid of in that quoted section, and then hit "cut" or "delete" depending on what device you are using (i.e., phone or keyboard). That lets you isolate the sentence or picture you want to comment on, as I did above.

 

Just be sure to click outside the quote box to type your comment. Or go to the menu and choose a different color--both methods alert readers that these words are from you, not the quoted poster.

 

@blueridgemama, if you want to just directly reply without quoting, I have not tried it on my desktop PC and keyboard. My phone lets me do it by typing @ and then start typing the user name. Many possibilities will crop up after a second, but keep typing the name. Eventually you will see the one you want. Click on it, it inserts the name in a colored box (as it did yours right here), and puts your curson into the next space where you can start typing. (I assume PCs and tablets are similar.)

 

When you quote or use a username, that person gets an alert if they have chosen that option.

 

Hope this helps.

Edited by mayleeman
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OP- your daughter and my 14 yo daughter would be the friends complaining about the teen club. In 2017 when then 12, DD tried the teen club and didn’t stay long. Yes, the other girls were like 16 and much too old, buy my DD didn’t really give it a try. Flash forward to this summer. I’m insisting that the 14 yo and my other DD 12 go to teen club that first night. I told my 14 yo about your daughter’s feelings on teen club and she agreed with your daughter! 😊

 

I too too need my alone time. 🤞🏻That I can bribe her to go with activities like trivia or just dance!

 

Enjoying your review!

 

 

 

 

Edited by Max and Ruby
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HIRO was definitely my favorite show!  I’m so glad you got to see it and that the key seats paid off.  

 

Fantastic night pictures!

 

I am sorry to hear about the escape room miss.  I can’t tell you how many times I am running late for things because of every scenario imaginable with my teenagers. I can relate completely. I’m glad you got some much needed mom relaxing time in the Solarium.

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21 minutes ago, er345 said:

I am sorry to hear about the escape room miss.  I can’t tell you how many times I am running late for things because of every scenario imaginable with my teenagers. I can relate completely. I’m glad you got some much needed mom relaxing time in the Solarium.

Agreed, I am so sorry - I think all parents have had those moments - more than once certainly too.  I hope you got a refund or just kept holding it over their heads!

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5 hours ago, blueridgemama said:

 

That monkey breaks my heart. It looks like it has to stand on its water bowl as the only option to standing on chicken wire. Very hard to see.

 

It really was so sad.  I hate seeing things like that.  Unfortunately it wasn't the last time we would see sad animal things.

 

1 hour ago, Max and Ruby said:

OP- your daughter and my 14 yo daughter would be the friends complaining about the teen club. In 2017 when then 12, DD tried the teen club and didn’t stay long. Yes, the other girls were like 16 and much too old, buy my DD didn’t really give it a try. Flash forward to this summer. I’m insisting that the 14 yo and my other DD 12 go to teen club that first night. I told my 14 yo about your daughter’s feelings on teen club and she agreed with your daughter! 😊

 

I too too need my alone time. 🤞🏻That I can bribe her to go with activities like trivia or just dance!

 

Enjoying your review!

 

Thanks!  They should open separate Teen Clubs on cruises for kids who don't like the Teen Club.  I don't know what they would do there, maybe just complain about everything that is happening in the real club and/or complain about their parents forcing them to go there?  I bet it would be popular.

 

48 minutes ago, er345 said:

HIRO was definitely my favorite show!  I’m so glad you got to see it and that the key seats paid off.  

 

Fantastic night pictures!

 

I am sorry to hear about the escape room miss.  I can’t tell you how many times I am running late for things because of every scenario imaginable with my teenagers. I can relate completely. I’m glad you got some much needed mom relaxing time in the Solarium.

 

Thanks!  It was a great show!

 

I thought we would be past the stage of missing things because the kids can't get their act together, or have a tantrum as we are leaving the house, or did not do ANYTHING until I was ready and then had like 15 things to do that they could have done but instead they were just scrolling through Instagram.  Ok maybe the last one is unique to teens, but still, I thought we would be able to leave a place on time by now.  

 

26 minutes ago, ShillyShally said:

Agreed, I am so sorry - I think all parents have had those moments - more than once certainly too.  I hope you got a refund or just kept holding it over their heads!

 

I forgot to provide closure on that.  I will add that to the next segment.  I keep forgetting things, because I am relying on my photos to remind me of what happened.  But of course I do not have photos of things like my kids fighting (but OMG I really should do that next time!) or how the Escape Room was resolved.  When we were in Alaska I kept typing quick notes in an email draft on my phone, so I would remember things.  I really should have done that this time.  Next time!  

Edited by Grenouille21
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17 hours ago, Grenouille21 said:

they had some huge knock down physical fight in the 5 minutes it took to get up to the room.

At least they held together in van, in front of other people. 😀.  

 

I have threatened one one of my children that I was going to video their tantrum and send it to their teacher.  

 

Your review is very entertaining. You are doing a great job.

 

 

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3 hours ago, VPIcruiser said:

At least they held together in van, in front of other people. 😀.  

 

I have threatened one one of my children that I was going to video their tantrum and send it to their teacher.  

 

Your review is very entertaining. You are doing a great job.

 

 

 

I have threatened to record their bickering and post it on all of their social media.  I'm so mean!  

 

1 hour ago, MandyMommyof2 said:

Enjoying your review! Can't wait to read more. 🙂

 

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, Grenouille21 said:

 

I have threatened to record their bickering and post it on all of their social media.  I'm so mean!  

 

 

My brother and I bickered a lot and my mom thought that she could stop us by jumping in and trying to record us to embarrass us, I guess. Her doing so could stop the fight, but only because we ganged up on her by ridiculing her refereeing attempts. One time we bought her a whistle and tried, but couldn't find, to get her a striped shirt.

 

We were little sh---s!

 

Glad you have retained your sense of humor!

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1 hour ago, mayleeman said:

 

My brother and I bickered a lot and my mom thought that she could stop us by jumping in and trying to record us to embarrass us, I guess. Her doing so could stop the fight, but only because we ganged up on her by ridiculing her refereeing attempts. One time we bought her a whistle and tried, but couldn't find, to get her a striped shirt.

 

We were little sh---s!

 

Glad you have retained your sense of humor!

 

Don't ever talk to my kids!  I don't want them getting ideas!!! 😉

 

My brother and I fought.  This is totally karma.  But then again, they're going to get it some day too.  😛

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Day 5!  St. Thomas!
 
As I was replying, I realized I hadn't included a few important details.  I'll add them in above, but I'll include them here as well.  
 
When I had returned to the room after talking to Guest Services, the phone rang.  It was the Activities Manager, calling about the Escape Room.  I explained again that we had come back from our excursion late and we were rushing but did not make it on time, and was there any chance we could reschedule or possibly get a refund.  She said there were no spots left (so if you want to do the Escape Room book it in advance or as soon as possible on the ship because this is very popular, apparently) but she would gladly give us a refund.  I thought that was a great example of excellent customer service, and I thanked her over and over.  She really did not have to do that, we missed our reservation, but maybe the fact that I was polite and apologetic helped?  When I was at Guest Services I heard some other people really giving the GS person hell over something that was not remotely under their control (they were unhappy that their excursion left later than planned and that lunch on the excursion was served late).  They must see the worst of people in Guest Services.  They would see worse from me later, though it was over something that was more within their control.
 
So on to day 5.  There is something else I forgot to include but will in a moment, as it is both about The Key and exiting the ship in port.  
 
But first, Compasses!
 
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We had to wake up earlier today, as we were supposed to meet on the pier at 8:15 for our excursion.  We had booked the Buck Island snorkel through Royal.  This was the only excursion I had booked through RCI, actually.  FYI, if you book excursions through Royal in Cruise Planner, keep checking the price.  This excursion dropped in price during one of the "sales", so I cancelled and rebooked at the new price.  
 
I woke up with the alarm and checked out where we were.  Hello, St. Thomas!
 
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We got our call that breakfast was on the way, so I roused the teens and before we knew it, breakfast had arrived.  I set up my plate on the balcony, and I think maybe DS joined me but probably DD ate in her bed again.  
 
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You will all be happy to know that the pancakes were much better than the eggs etc. from the day before.  I forgot to order butter. You had to order butter and syrup separately, silly me I only ordered the syrup.  We finished eating and headed off the ship.  Don't forget the Sea Pass cards!
 
Now here's what I forgot to mention yesterday, and one of the other things I had been discussing at Guest Services on Day 4.
 
The Key:  When reading the benefits of The Key, it sounds like you get priority debarkation at all ports of call.  The wording, however, is quite nebulous, and inconsistent.  Let's review, from the Key letter in our room, the confirmation email I received from RCI, and Royal's own website:
 
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So it sounds like Key guests get priority when leaving the ship in ports of call, no?  Now, I don't especially care about this, but since it is a listed benefit I wanted to try it, especially in St. Kitts when there was a massive herd of people exiting all at once.  I looked everywhere and could not see any priority line, or any sign for where we were supposed to go, nor had it been communicated how the "priority" would work.  Never saw a line or anything for debarking in a port of call.  I have heard it is only for tender ports, but doesn't the wording sound like it is for all ports?  
 
So when I was talking to Guest Services about the Escape Room, I also asked about this, not in a "WHERE WAS MY PRIORITY DEBARKATION" way, but in a "Hey, I was looking and I didn't see it, could you let me know how to get this priority debarkation?"  Well the guy said "Oh no, that's only when the cruise is over."  I said "No, it is at ports, see this email from Royal Caribbean?"  "Oh no, that is only for tendering ports."  Well I pushed back a little and said "But it doesn't say that, it says 'ports of call'".  Well he made some phone calls and apologized and said we would have priority debarkation if I just said something to the crew members as we were leaving.  But there were no crew members anywhere except as you are actually exiting the ship.  Like at the doorway, checking your Sea Pass card.  At which point there is no need for priority because you are 4 steps away from exiting the ship.  So it never happened.  This was not a benefit to us at all but we pretty much did not need it as it never took long to get off the ship.  
 
So I looked for the priority debarkation again when we were leaving St. Thomas, just to see if I had missed it during the mass exodus in St. Kitts, and did not see anything.  But it didn't matter because there were no masses leaving this time.  
 
Welcome to St. Thomas!
 
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We found the people holding signs for our excursion, and lined up.  There were 2 excursions lined up here, and we then split into 2 lines.  
 
We boarded the catamaran and headed out to Buck Island.  We would be visiting 2 sites: one where we might see turtles, one where we would see a shipwreck.  When we sailed on DCL we visited Grand Cayman and snorkeled over a shipwreck, and it was really cool.  So this sounded really cool, too!
 
It took 20-30 minutes to get over there, and we were sitting in the shaded part of the catamaran because I had this weird sunburn.  Does anyone else get that?  I feel like when I look at other people sunning themselves they are 100% evenly tan, and I look like a patchwork quilt.  I had sunburn in lines on my upper arms up to my shoulders, plus like one blotch near my wrist, and my chest was 100% red, my knees were sunburned, I had blotches of sunburn on my back... why does this happen to me?  I swear I use sunscreen and reapply often!
 
We have our own snorkel masks.  I really do not like the snorkel thing that goes in my mouth.  Not only for sanitary reasons, but just because.  It always gets misaligned with the mask, there is so much adjusting, etc.  And I just don't like having it in my mouth.  
 
So we use these:
 
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I do not work for the company or anything like that.  It has just changed snorkeling for us.  Nothing in your mouth, full view of the water, etc.  I really like these masks!
 
Mask in action:
 
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I think the first place we went was the shipwreck.  I could be wrong. It doesn't really matter, right?  So there were 2 "guides" but one seemed to be more in charge than the other.  Once we got to the spot, he was all business.  They had been handing out masks, fins, and vests, and everyone was getting ready, and it seemed like everyone else was ready WAY faster than we were (you probably guessed that would happen).  My fins were a bit too big, so remember to try them on as soon as they give them to you, because when I asked for a new pair I was told "Hmmm, that seems to be the most popular size, I don't think we have any left!"  
 
Well she searched high and low and found... one.  Meanwhile the 2 guides had divided people up into groups and my kids were already out snorkeling and I had no idea which group they were in.  Some people were already coming back up, mostly kids who for one reason or another were already done.  Luckily one of them was wearing the fins I needed, so she handed them off to me and I hurried up and got out there.  
 
The good thing about us wearing our own masks is it is VERY easy to spot my kids.  And we all go our separate ways, then come back together, then swim away, etc.  So it is nice to be able to look up and make sure I can still spot them.  When everyone has the same snorkel that is not as easy.
 
My snorkel photos stink.  the only time I can get good under water photos is when it is really sunny and really shallow.  It was neither of those things.  Well it was kind of sunny, but it wasn't shallow.  The photos look dark, because of whatever setting I was using on this camera.  Ugh I don't like these.  So here.  (Imagine me dumping a pile of photos in your lap and stomping off.)
 
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The shipwreck was actually really cool.  At one point there was a barracuda but I don't think I got any photos of it.  I think that was right when I joined the group.
 
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So the one guide, the one who seemed more in charge, dove down to the ship, which completely freaked me out because it was far down there!!!  So naturally I did what anyone would do, I took photos.
 
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I don't know what he was doing down there.  Maybe just showing off.  After I took this photo I swam away because I couldn't take it anymore.  I'm that person who, when I see someone on TV who is under water, I hold my breath as though *I* am also under water.  It makes me crazy.
 
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It was cool, but there weren't many fish.  We did see some as we came back to the catamaran.  
 
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We called these "Baby Narwahls"
 
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Then we were all called back into the catamaran so we could go look for turtles.  This time I had all of my equipment, so while I waited for others to get in the water, I was mostly with the group this time.  
 
It wasn't long before someone spotted turtles.
 
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We left them to go explore some.  The guy dove down again, but this time he had a purpose.
 
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He was picking up a conch shell that turned out to have a hermit crab in it and fire coral on the outside.  
 
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We saw some striped fish.
 
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There was a blue fish that was really pretty.  DD and I followed it around for a while.  It looks like everything else in this photo.  Can anyone recommend a good under water camera?  I need a new one.  
 
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I guess this one is OK, but it is just coral.  But you can tell it was shallower here, which is why this turned out better.
 
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There were other fish, but it wasn't terribly exciting.
 
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DS spotted a stingray, so I went over to see that.
 
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At some point the guy dove down again. This time maybe he was just showing off, but it was actually cool so I'll allow it.  
 
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Once everyone was back on the catamaran they hoisted the sails and poured the rum punch and we sailed back to the pier.  This took a while longer than the way out there, and DD and DS were still sitting under the catamaran roof so they were kind of inside.  I had gone out to take photos, and stayed there.  I went back to check on them and DS had his eyes closed and said he was feeling super seasick.  I told him to have a soda and come out on deck and look at the horizon.  I know soda helps me a lot when I am feeling nauseated, and fresh air and looking at the horizon help me when I am feeling seasick.  Sitting inside and closing your eyes is just about the worst thing you can do when you feel seasick.  So I got him a Sprite and dragged him out.  oh and I had him press on the pressure point that is supposed to help with seasickness, where the Sea Bands press.  I have no idea what DD did in there the rest of the time.  DS and I stood on deck watching us slowly sail back to St. Thomas.  He did start to feel a lot better before we got back, so some combo of all of my wacky home remedies must have helped.
 
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You can see another cruise ship here, and there was another one behind it.  NCL and Princess were there, but this isn't where we were docked.  We were in another port, and we were the only ones there. 
 
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And then finally, FINALLY, we saw our ship.
 
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We got off the catamaran and explored the shops nearby.  I had promised DD another attempt at finding dinner clothes that weren't "seeeeeeeeeeexxxxxxxxy" and we had plenty of time to explore.  
 
I had posted some thoughts about the excursion, but I feel bad.  I'm going to ask my kids what they thought of it.  I think I had different expectations.  
 
So as we were walking from the catamaran to the shops, DS (who was now a lot less green than he had been on the boat) pointed out an iguana.  I wish I could think of a good caption for this.  
 
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Then we saw more iguanas.
 
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This was in with the shops and restaurants.
 
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We looked around a bit, and... DD found a dress!  It was beachy, but not "seeeeeeeeeeeeexxxxxxxxxy" and we both liked it.  It looked a bit like a shapeless sack, but DD said it would be fine with a belt, and she was right.  Hooray!  We bought a few more souvenirs and headed back to the ship.
 
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Not sure where we ate, probably pizza?  Then we went back to the room to change and figure out the rest of the day.  I sat out on the balcony and watched these pirate ships blast each other with cannons.
 
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Then one of them sailed off to search for treasure, or something.
 
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St. Thomas is really a pretty place.  I'd love to visit again!  
 
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DS went to the Flowrider
 
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Then DS went to the club, and I think DD stayed in the room.  I went to the Solarium to sit in the pool and then watch the sunset.  
 
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I took an obscene number of photos of the sunset, which was less than spectacular, which means I was eavesdropping on someone's conversation and pretending to be smitten with the (lame) sunset.  I won't subject you to all of the photos, and I won't share the conversation.  It wasn't gossipy, just interesting.  They were talking about traveling, and different places, and music, and education.  
 
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I texted DS to come back to the room and headed there myself.  DS texted me that there was alcohol "there".  At first I thought he meant in the club, and I was alarmed.  But no, he meant in our stateroom.
 
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It was from Guest Services, from the guy I had spoken to about the priority debarkation in port and the Escape Room.  It was very kind of him to do this.  I really wasn't asking for anything or expecting anything.  After our cruise I received an email asking for thoughts on our experience, and I made sure to mention his name when asked for any crew members who had done anything to make our vacation better.  He was very nice, and again it was so nice of him to do this.

 

Edited by Grenouille21
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Look forward to your added updates...daily!!  If I've learned 1 thing from your escapades...it doesn't appear "The Key" is a worthwhile investment...... not at $20/pp/day! 

Edited by lcpagejr
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Grenouille21:  Did you get to review the Key with Royal Caribbean Customer Service to tell them what worked and what they need to improve on? It is great to read about the Key benefits on these boards but RCI really needs to hear from Key users like you. Thank you for your great review and photos.

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7 hours ago, siempredescalzo said:

@Grenouille21 this continues to be a FANTASTIC review! I’ve been reading about how hard it is to get underwater pictures. I don’t have any camera recommendations because I only just got one myself for my May sailing, but which camera are you currently using for underwater shots?

 

Thanks!  I am not sure what camera it is.  I am downstairs and it is upstairs and I am feeling lazy.  But I will check when I do my next update.  

 

5 hours ago, lcpagejr said:

Look forward to your added updates...daily!!  If I've learned 1 thing from your escapades...it doesn't appear "The Key" is a worthwhile investment...... not at $20/pp/day! 

 

I agree.  The way we experienced it, it was not worthwhile.  I am hoping that others had different experiences.

 

5 hours ago, blueridgemama said:

Grenouille21:  Did you get to review the Key with Royal Caribbean Customer Service to tell them what worked and what they need to improve on? It is great to read about the Key benefits on these boards but RCI really needs to hear from Key users like you. Thank you for your great review and photos.

 

I haven't, but I want to.  I am not sure how best to communicate this to them.

 

Once when we were in the room the phone rang, and DD answered it since it was next to her bed.  All I heard on her end was "Yeah... no... yeah... no it's fine... OK... Bye" and I was like "Did whoever that was not want to talk to me?" and apparently they had been calling about The Key and checking if we had any questions or concerns.  I was like "Of ALL the things that is the ONE thing I DO have concerns about!" but she couldn't recall who had called so I couldn't call them back.  I couldn't believe she didn't hand me the phone.  

 

Side note: neither of my kids reacts when our landline or the phone in a hotel rings.  And they have no idea how to answer the phone when it is ringing for someone else (because who would be calling them on our landline or in a hotel?).  But this ONE time, when I really would have liked to talk to someone, although it was on day 2 or something so I hadn't fully formed an opinion and was still keeping an open mind.

 

1 hour ago, tcmagnum said:

When we were snorkeling in the Cook Islands I used my iphone 6s in my waterproof case and pictures turned out amazing.  Maybe an option.   

 

I'll have to try that.  All of the photos here (except the snorkel ones) were taken with my phone, so I know it takes good photos.  I am scared of ruining it of course.  Hmmm, will experiment.  I have a while before I need an under water camera again.

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