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Familygoboston

Picture Imperfect: Live on Harmony

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Set Sail Info

 

This is the last Cruise New I will be posting. I have several others but they are specific to our group or the info has changed drastically since I wrote the newsletter. Specifically a cruise news that covered communication issues on the ship that had the catchy title of "Ill Communication" and featured a short article on the title and the Beastie Boys! With a photo of the Beasties on a beach. But since I wrote that one up Royal changed the app and the communication usage of the app. Meaning that a lot of what I wrote is now wrong and useless. 

 

Anyway, here is a newsletter dealing with getting your Set Sail passes online and walking new cruisers through the process step by step.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/x6rxlzd8i34mbki/Cruise News Harmony 2019 Set Sail Passes 2.pdf?dl=0

 

P.S.  I promise that and ACTUAL HARMONY REVIEW is soon to start! 

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On 5/29/2019 at 8:14 PM, RazorbackIslandGirl said:

Loving this review! Looking forward to another review from you both together. Following! Thanks for taking us along for the ride!

Aww thanks!! Great to see you here again too! Hope things are going well! 

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Well, we are still in Orlando, enjoyed a full day of MK yesterday and Hal a day of EPCOT and 1/2 a pool day today. The humidity picked up and it looks like BOOM 💥 a thunderstorm is about to break out any minute!! 

 

We meet the rest of the gang tomorrow. Flying in from MO, we will transfer to another hotel near the airport after a late afternoon in Hollywood Studios. 

Randy has a bus scheduled to take us all to port on Sunday. Im

akso expecting entertainerment. After 5 days a Disney the bar will be set high!! 

 

Below is a composite of our MK day and my excel spread sheet for our Harmony cruise! So you’ll know our itinerary and what nights we have shows planned. 

 

64E6238F-9580-44FD-BA29-BCEEB5D8B18D.jpeg

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Yeah, it's gross here.

 

Captain Bob!  Have you ever been on his excursion before?  We were with him in 2017, pre-hurricane.  One of my favorite excursions ever!

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It was good while it lasted 🤣 today was the first humid day. 

Randy planned Capt Bob. I’ve never done his tour but I can’t wait!  

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Familygoboston said:

Randy planned Capt Bob. I’ve never done his tour but I can’t wait!  

 

It's like five mini excursions in one.  If one part isn't your thing, no biggie, the next part will be.  Something for everyone.  We plan to do it again next time we do Eastern.  Nice guy (he's a New Yorker though, might wanna leave the NE sports gear in your cabin), as was his son who happened to captain our boat that day.

 

Gives me something else to look forward to in your trip report.

Edited by OCSC Mike

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, OCSC Mike said:

Yeah, it's gross here.

 

Captain Bob!  Have you ever been on his excursion before?  We were with him in 2017, pre-hurricane.  One of my favorite excursions ever!

 

I've done Captain Bob. It’s a great excursion. I did it in 2017 as well. It will be interesting to see the changes. One change is no restaurant stop for lunch. Which is too bad. That food was good and the guava berry colada was fantastic. 

Edited by rsharp83
spelling

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4 minutes ago, rsharp83 said:

It will be interesting to see the changes. One change is no restaurant stop for lunch. Which is too bad. That food was good and the guava berry colada was fantastic. 

 

I've read that.  Truly a shame what happened there.  The excursion will be great no matter what lunch is but getting freshly grilled (insert protein, I had fish) right on the beach with one of those coladas was just one of many great experiences.

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Building and Planning for a Group of Cruisers
We never exactly set out to be the group cruise organizers. It just happened that way. I’ve always been a vacation planner. When we did Disney World with a multi-family trip, I had daily itineraries broken down by the hour. They called it “Disney Boot Camp” at first. But by the end of the trip when we had done every ride in every park and seen all the shows and not died of exhaustion, they all appreciated the planning. When we went snow skiing, there was no laying around in bed. If you want to lay in bed, then stay home and do that! We are here to ski and that is what we are going to do, SKI! I’m not a vacation tyrant but I also always want to get the most bang for the buck. My vacation planning comes naturally. 


We use a lot of social media, especially Facebook. My wife is a Zumba instructor and she has a lot of presence on Facebook promoting her classes and her job at the Roller Skating Rink that her parents own and operate. B&J Skate Center in St. Joseph, MO. We started telling people that we were planning our next big cruise and if they were interested, they could join the private Facebook group page we set up. We had lots of interest. 


I did a newsletter outlining the basics of the trip. (The first Cruise News I posted here) Where we were sailing, the amenities of the ship, all the fun stuff we would do. I also made a short video of our last group cruise that was fun and showed everyone what it was like to go with our group. And we have an excellent travel agent that has been super helpful in getting all this arranged. I cannot say enough good stuff about our TA. He’s helped with every detail for all of the group and he’s a good guy to boot. 


In our group of 54 we have over 20 first time cruisers. They have lots of questions. Especially when it comes to dealing with the logistics of an Oasis Class ship. Step one if you really want to do groups is make sure you are ready to provide information. Lots of information. And you must provide that information in different ways. Some people read every word of every post and every newsletter. Others still weren’t sure what port we were sailing out of when they were booking their flights. You just have to roll with it and make sure that the big stuff gets taken care of and booked. 


And yes, there is a little hype to it all. Posting fun stuff, pictures, info, on a regular basis is vital. Also promoting conversation among the group is crucial. We have friendships being made over the last year between people who have never met each other and won’t meet until we sail. It’s fun to watch. 


Oasis class ships are especially daunting because of the amount of activity available at multiple times on multiple days in multiple venues. That’s the hardest part, trying to figure out the shows and dining and other events that you want to attend together. Especially for this particular sailing on June 2nd. Harmony has just changed ports and Cruise Directors (We now have Marc as the CD! Bing Bong). With all those changes we couldn’t use old cruise compasses as a 100% guide. New departure port, new port of call with Perfect Day and only one sailing that resembled ours which would occur just a couple of weeks before we sailed. 


Probably the most interesting thing we did was booking shows. When the schedule released Kathy and I did facetime video from our respective locales. We each had multiple RCCL accounts we could log into to book shows and link reservations. So, there we were, figuring out the schedule, and tying to make reservations for a bunch of people. The comedy club was the trickiest. Everyone (All adults that is) were going to go to the same comedy club show. We got everyone in but one person before the Royal website locked us out. If you are going to try and plan something like shows for a big group be prepared to work through the logistics of shows on Harmony or other Oasis class ships. 


Another planning note, dining. We mostly had early dining reserved for the MDR. But there was a breakaway faction that just couldn’t deal with being ready for dinner at 5:30. They are the ones that want to spend all their sun time up until the very last ray and then will need 2 hours to get dressed and ready for dinner. We were able to split our group up into an early and late MDR arrangement. There are 44 of us in the early seating. Our tables are near each other and we will be able to move around and change configurations each night. We were even able to arrange it so that Kathy and her husband could do My Time Dining on their own. They have enough cruises under their belts that they just use the MDR occasionally and on their own schedule. It looks like I will only have 2-3 nights in the MDR on this cruise. We have Wonderland, Jamie’s Italian and Solarium Bistro booked for dinners and will be doing at least one dinner in Wind Jammer on our late port night in St. Thomas. 

 

Logistics of a large group require large things. Most of us are flying from Kansas City on Saturday June 1 for the Sunday sailing. Lucky for us Southwest has lots of flights from KC to Orlando daily and several non-stops. We all booked our flights early with most of us on either a 6:10 am or 9:25 am non-stops. Then the 737 Max crashes happened, and planes got yanked out of service. The 9:25 flight got canceled and Southwest just moved our reservations around. Most people got moved to the 6:10 flight. But not everyone was so lucky, some got moved to flights that wouldn’t arrive in Orlando until almost midnight. It was a bit of a mess and one couple decided to fly Friday instead. When we were done rearranging things there were no seats left on any Southwest flight out of KC that would go to Orlando on Saturday the 1st.  Now SW is showing a few seats available, at nearly $600 each! No thanks. 


Another big thing we needed was a way to get to the cruise port from the Orlando airport hotel. We decided to get a hotel near the airport and gather there on Saturday. That way we could all (well most of us, we have a few driving to port) go together on Sunday to the ship. In the end we have a huge bus just for us. Pretty economical when you can fill the bus with just your peeps. $35 round trip. 


Large groups can be tons of fun. I always stress that the group can do as much or as little together as they want. It’s YOUR vacation. I’ll do the planning and logistics. I’ll make sure you have the opportunity to do great excursions (or not), see the shows (or not), plan your dining (actually you pretty much need to plan your dining – not really an or not option for some of that). So the countdown is on. We are under 48 hours from sail away. My flight leaves early. I’m getting up about 3 am. Harmony, here we come. 
 

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I just noticed you're eating dinner in the WJ several nights.  Please share anything and everything about that (cook-to-order stations, special desserts, if there are themed nights, etc). 

 

We became WJ people b/c my wife is so picky that when forced to eat in the MDR on family cruises she winds up with the standby menu caesar salad and grilled chicken almost every night.  I like to eat so buffets are fine by me and you can often find MDR items in the WJ.

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11 minutes ago, OCSC Mike said:

I just noticed you're eating dinner in the WJ several nights.  Please share anything and everything about that (cook-to-order stations, special desserts, if there are themed nights, etc). 

 

We became WJ people b/c my wife is so picky that when forced to eat in the MDR on family cruises she winds up with the standby menu caesar salad and grilled chicken almost every night.  I like to eat so buffets are fine by me and you can often find MDR items in the WJ.

We love eating dinner in the Windjammer. It has been a long time since we have eaten in the MDR.

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We are over the MDR too. A lot of Randy’s crew has early dining, and that’s nap time and sail away for us! 🤣

 

I’ll try to keep track of the “stations” in the WJ, but what’s published and what happens are 2 very diff things! Last cruise “Fisherman’s night “ was advertised and there was only one dish with broiled fish in the entire buffet. Not even a shrimp! 😳

Some nights we might just grab a pizza or shake at JR and call it a night. We eat a lot less as we get older er...more experienced at life! 🤣

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10 minutes ago, Familygoboston said:

We are over the MDR too. A lot of Randy’s crew has early dining, and that’s nap time and sail away for us! 🤣

 

I’ll try to keep track of the “stations” in the WJ, but what’s published and what happens are 2 very diff things! Last cruise “Fisherman’s night “ was advertised and there was only one dish with broiled fish in the entire buffet. Not even a shrimp! 😳

Some nights we might just grab a pizza or shake at JR and call it a night. We eat a lot less as we get older er...more experienced at life! 🤣

 

Anything you can & want to share would be great!  Our typical routine is to hit the Diamond Lounge on the early side & hang out there drinking until heading up to the WJ.  We used to eat at Giovanni’s the first night using First Night Done Right but since FNDR is gone & we’re not interested in Jamie’s it will probably be just WJ with one night in the Solarium (which will be followed by the WJ b/c my wife only goes there for me & it’s free).  Sensing a theme here b/t the free drinks & dining venues?  🙂  

 

We actually did eat in the MDR on lobster night in Alaska last June but it was a total fluke.  Radiance’s WJ had a theme each night and my wife was able to find something until they got to Indian night.  We saw it posted earlier that day so she left the DL right at 6:00 to see if there was anything non-Indian to eat.  She returned to the DL & I could tell from her face that the WJ was out.  Fortunately the DL concierge was able to get us a MTD reservation immediately & it just happened to be 2nd formal night so I got lobster.  It was also fortunate that Alaska cruises are even more casual than the Caribbean b/c we had nothing nicer than jeans.

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Picture Imperfect on Harmony

 

If you have ever read a review from familygoboston you know that Kathy is the writer and Jeff is the photographer. If you’ve ever read my reviews (rsharp83) you know I pretty much do both writing and photos. I’ll use other family members or friends’ pictures in my reviews, but I always edit them. Jeff has lots of camera equipment and gadgets and he spends a lot of time post-cruise choosing and editing the photos. His pics are typically fantastic looking. Both Kathy and I do a lot of note taking on the ship and then do an extensive write up post cruise. I typically spend the whole flight home working on notes for my review and getting my ideas and facts organized while it is all still fresh in my mind. I have never really done a “Live” review and we have never done a joint review, until now.

 

When we knew we would be reunited we talked about how to approach Cruise Critic. Kathy’s schedule is pretty hectic leading up to the trip and post trip she has a lot of things going on as well. My work schedule will be fairly intense when I return. A post cruise joint trip review would be difficult to pull off in a decent time frame. We also knew that with 50+ people and our long awaited vacation at hand we didn’t want to spend a bunch of time writing on board. No offense to anyone who does write a live review and does a ton of writing and answering questions, if that’s you then more power to you! We just didn’t want to go down that road.

 

The dilemma was, how do we do a joint live thing from the ship and still have all the time we needed with our friends. Could it be done? Well, we are about to find out.

 

Why Picture Imperfect?

 

Like I said before, photos are usually a big deal, especially for Jeff and Kathy. Those pictures he does are picture perfect. But what if we did it on the fly…fast and furious? What if we snap, take a quick look to make sure nothing horrible or x-rated is in the frame, and then just upload and go? Not much if any text or explanation, no long-written sequences other than getting it started. Just a photo stream of consciousness review featuring a large group of people on the second largest cruise ship in the world. These pictures won’t be perfect…if you want perfection look elsewhere or wait and see if we upload stuff after the fact. Our pictures may be imperfect this time around. But that’s ok with us…

 

If this works, if the wonky TapATalk app will work reasonably well, if our phone batteries don’t die constantly, if VOOM is vooming, if we have the time and the inclination; we will be snapping pics of the randomness of the Harmony. Those pics will wind up here, in mostly real time.

 

Don’t be offended if we don’t answer your questions or acknowledge every post. And we likely won’t be running off to hunt down a particular room or menu that someone wants a picture of…there are plenty of those reviews out there. Just enjoy the ride with us.

 

Imperfect as it may be…

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On 5/23/2019 at 2:42 PM, Familygoboston said:

Lol, if you are following a Familygoboston review, you can expect a lot of “off topic” parenthetical comments and digressions 😂 Especially when it comes to sports. The screen name is a double entendre 

Family (on the) Go

and

Go Boston (sports teams!) 

It’s not just the destination of the review, this was good, that was bad; with Randy and I writing it’s often about the journey! 😉

Love your reviews, and also, since digressions are allowed...#KEEPPOUNDING

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I appreciate everything you are doing. 

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Disney Springs. Daughter #1 did a Disney internship in college. She had to eat here. 

73A3EF96-E31B-495F-9639-61EF9F9318E6.jpeg

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We need to get this show on the road... I mean....the ocean.

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1 hour ago, Ocean Boy said:

We need to get this show on the road... I mean....the ocean.

Believe me, no one wants the ocean more than me! It’s 93 and 100% humidity!  It was under duress that we left our coastal home in Maine to go to FL. In June. 😳 But we ❤️ Randy and Amy that much!! We sail tomorrow!!! 

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Harmony, soon. But at least these are pictures of boats. 

 

 

38D57A59-CB6A-4C10-9E08-D4449505F72E.jpeg

803FF6DD-5EF3-4541-8247-DF1AB5442EA2.jpeg

DF4511BA-0371-4F94-8307-4CA7184AAE7A.jpeg

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Thanks for the info so far leading up to your Harmony cruise - very helpful for newbies!  If you have time, can you check if we can reuse our WOW bands.  We were on Allure about 5 years ago and kept the WOW bands but I noticed that it has the muster station on it from the last trip.  Not sure if we can reuse it or have to buy new ones.  Thanks in advance for all your help.  Have a great trip!

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Posted (edited)

Well the whole gang from MO is assembled at the pre cruise hotel at the Orlando airport  According to my sources (which is actually just me, lurking on social media) they are ordering out for pizza. This was probably a better choice than going to Primetime cafe in Hollywood Studios for shakes and onion rings followed immediately by Rockin Roller Coaster 🤢🤢🤢 (but we had a fast pass, we had to go, am I right?)

the wicked heat and humidity finally broke in spectacular Florida fashion with a gully washer while we Uber to the hotel. Cruising in June, really, Randy? June!? 

5D497AAB-19C5-4444-AA43-A34B4D70AAEA.jpeg

Edited by Familygoboston

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