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wrp96

Brilliance of the Seas Review 2/24/06 10-night Panama Canal

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I will post this in parts. This is also posted on my "Examining the Bars on the Brilliance of the Seas" thread (http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=299889) - with my live posts from the ship.

 

 

Brilliance of the Seas, 10-night Panama Canal

February 24th, 2006

 

This is my 5th cruise, all on Royal Caribbean, my first as a Platinum C&A member. This cruise was my way of recovering from taking the bar exam. I had originally planned on going on Adventure this week but I switched to this longer when my cruising partner backed out because in addition to letting me visit Aruba I get to see the Panama Canal.

 

Pre-cruise: I booked directly through RCCL. The website wouldn’t let me book a guarantee stateroom as a single, but when I called they let me book the guarantee which I consider wonderful customer service. I booked custom air as well, and had the flights I wanted in minutes at no extra charge. I couldn’t fly out the day before (due to the aforementioned bar exam), so I took the earliest flight possible.

 

I spent the Monday through Thursday before the cruise at a local hotel while I took the bar exam, then took a cab to the airport from the hotel at 4am to catch my flight.

 

Day One: Embarkation Day

 

Had 5:30 am flight out of Little Rock, so had to be at the airport at 4 am, plus I got singled out for extra security (oh, joy, oh, joy!). Got to DFW early, but had to wait for somebody to park us at the gate, but then again for somebody to pull up the jetbridge, so actually late. Get to MIA early, but gate has a plane there, no other gate to use. Wait, wait, wait. At time actually supposed to get there, captain announces there is an issue with a passenger on the plane that is at our gate. 15 minutes after we are supposed to arrive, we are given another gate, which is as far from baggage claim as you can be. Get to baggage claim, wait over an hour for bags, after being moved from carousel to carousel. RCI transfers though worked perfectly. We had to wait maybe 15 minutes to leave. Bags come on separate bus so no issue with do we tip the porters or not.

 

Get on board, it is around 2:30. Head straight for spa to make spa appointments. Line is long and wait 30 minutes. If you know you want to make appointments, do this first and then take the spa tour otherwise you will end up behind an even longer line. Desparately need massage immediately and they fit me in that day for a facial and massage! Manicure can’t work in until after formal night (disadvantage of flying in same day). By time finished with spa, WJ is closed, don’t have time to get first drink before mustard drill. After muster drill, head to cabin to drop of jacket and head immediately back to spa for relaxation. Bags are just now being dropped off. Don’t have time to worry as don’t want to miss my facial/massage. Both are wonderful. I give into the product sale – worth it for me as I have tried every other product with no results. Time for Welcome show, but I go to Champagne bar for first drink instead.

 

Head to dinner, placed at table for 4 on 2nd level, nobody else shows up. Dinner wonderful (cod, smoked salmon tapenade, tuscan tomato soup, ivory chocolate fondue), waitstaff wonderful (Yasmin, Melissa). Table for 10 across the way only has one couple we get to talking as our staterooms are close, agree that if nobody shows up tomorrow we will sit together. Also, talk to table next to me, where both couples just happen to have Arkansas connections (one is from Arkansas, another lived there for several years). We may combine tables tomorrow at the recommendation of our waiter.

 

Head to Colony Club for “Where in the World Am I” trivia. Get there late so can’t play, but enjoy watching (sorry, I’m a geography geek). Meet nice couple from just north of London, England. Good dance band. Try out the bar there, make a friend from Boston who drags me onto floor to dance, and then to Schooner Bar. Try out Schooner Bar which is even livelier. Make male friend from Illinois who just happens to have a sister who just took the Illinois Bar (family is relaxing together). We make tentative plans to party in Aruba together. Piano man, Anselmo (or Yanni as we all call him) is singing great classic songs (Piano Man, Brown Eyed Girl, etc.).

 

Have Inside Stateroom 3137. Laid out well, plenty of room. Shower has curtain instead of glass door (I usually have a couple of drinks before I get that close to someone, but oh, well, I’m on a cruise). One note: can hear the occasional slight noise from whatever is below (distant knocking noises, some ringing noises, etc). I sleep with ear plugs so no issue for me, but might be a problem for some.

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Day Two: Day at Sea

Woke up around 11am to discover that my toilet wouldn’t flush. Grabbed my stateroom attendant who quickly fixed it (thanks Ricardo!). Got dressed and set off on two missions. Switch my Grand Cayman excursion to an earlier time, and then to the spa to book another massage for the afternoon in Grand Cayman (reason for switching excursion to earlier). With both setup, I headed to the dining room for lunch. Once again greeted with smiles all around – a very common thing on this ship. The room is light and airy at lunch with all those windows and soft colored woods. They seated me at large table by the window and gave me my choice of seats. For a moment there, I thought it was going to be a repeat of the previous night but the table quickly filled. Talk was of cruising and then of the honeymooner. Much joking was made about watching out if you made rude comments because you might follow his path.

Headed up to the Crown and Anchor Lounge to book my two cruises. Just as he finished booking the first one (3 night girls getaway on the Monarch), the computers went down. He took the information for my 2nd one (8-night Mustard of the Seas cruise on Jewel of the Seas) and called me back later so I didn’t have to wait. The 2nd one is more involved as I actually already have a reservation for a particular stateroom, but what RCI Miami told me was correct (there is a first for everything, I know). I will be able to keep my deposit and exact room I booked before I got on the ship, and just transfer them to the new reservation I made on the ship in order to get my onboard booking credit – and I didn’t have to make a new deposit.

Went to the wine tasting. We tried 3 whites, 3 reds. I only liked 2 of them, but I am picky. They only provided cheese and crackers with the tasting, which was a problem for me since I don’t eat cheese. Other ships I’ve been on had some fruit with it as well. The experience wasn’t ruined by it though. One note: they are changing over the wine lists for the entire fleet by the end of March. They were out of some wines, including wines on the wine and dine list, so if you purchase Wine and Dine thinking you will drink a specific wine, check to make sure they have it before purchasing the package.

Went to the Captain’s Welcome Aboard reception held in the Colony Club. Champagne, Yellowbirds, and Fruit Punch were provided and a couple hors’durves. Band was very good and it was lovely to watch all the couples dancing. Captain was funny and telling jokes.

Tonight is the first formal night. Went into dinner and had no tablemates again (if you aren’t going to eat in the dining room, inform the maitre’d please!). The people at the table next to me pulled my table over to join theirs and we had a great time. Tonight was filet of beef, lobster bisque, shrimp cocktail, and escargot, and grand marnier soufflé.

Headed back to the Schooner Bar and joined Ed and his sister and all my other new friends. There was a great guy at the piano singing and we all sang and drank along. Erik the bartender is from the Philippines and is a hoot. He mixed me up a drink he called Grape Koolaid. It was good, but dangerous. We all shut down the bar.

Headed back to the room, I discovered why I almost always take my heels off as I leave the dining room and walk around barefooted. I tripped at the top of the stairs and took a header down a flight. I am a little bruised and banged up, but other than my pride I’m not seriously injured, although my glasses are in sad shape (I will be visiting an optometrist when I get home). Note: USE THE HANDRAILS!

Day 3: Sea Day

Woke up and headed to the Windjammer for some fruit for breakfast which I ate outside on the back of the ship. Absolutely lovely watching the wake as you drink your orange juice. Then headed to the spa for a manicure. Wonderful job, she even avoided the bruise on my hand (from the aforementioned stair accident). My skin is now baby soft. Went to the Shops and bought a watch from a very new crew member. This is his very first cruise and he was experiencing bad seasickness. I just happened to have some Ginger Altoids with me (Thanks, Cruise Critic!) and gave him some, which seemed to help him. Headed to the dining room for lunch. For the crème brulee lovers out there, they had coconut crème brulee at lunch today.

Then headed to the pool. Found a chair on deck 12 overlooking the main pool. I liked it up there because I could see and hear everything but it wasn’t as busy. It is very windy today and they’ve tied down all the chairs so they don’t blow away. Did some reading and sunbathing and then watched the Men’s Sex Legs contest – didn’t get down fast enough to be a judge. I decided to leave when they started the horse racing, and just as I turned my back to get up, one of the jockeys started having a seizure. It was very scary. I decided not to stay and watch so I headed to the solarium hot tub. Solarium pool is empty today because of the rocking on the ship. Lounged in the hot tub and met some more wonderful people. All the passengers and crew are friendly and fascinating. Everyone seems to have a constant smile on their face.

Went to the Windjammer for a snack. Enjoyed my hot dog with mustard in the sitting area on the back of the ship. I am enthralled by the wake. Went back to the room to treat my cuts, bruises, and sunburn (missed a spot even with the spray sunscreen).

This evening is smart casual night and Italian fare. I have antipasti, roasted garlic soup, chicken marsala and warm chocolate cake. Also available was garlic shrimp and braised lamb, plus tiramisu. Our assistant waiter, Melissa, was under the weather so our headwaiter served as assistant waiter. One of my adopted tablemates is very particular about what she eats and they have been wonderful about accommodating her. They tell her the food the night before and let her choose and prepare them the way she can have it. She asked for plain vegetables to go with her food and they brought her a platter of broccoli, asparagus, and carrots so we all got wonderful lightly steamed vegetables with our meal.

Went to bed early for Aruba.

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Day 4: Aruba

Arrived at Aruba before 7am. I was up and went to breakfast in the dining room to get ready for my snorkel excursion. Off the ship quickly and on our way to the Aruba Sail and Snorkel by 9am. We walked to the end of the pier where our Catamaran picked us up. There were 18 passengers plus crew. Other boats we saw had a lot more passengers. The boat is in good shape even if the paint is faded. The boat has a water slide off the back of it. They provided juice and soft drinks as we went out to the snorkel sites. We stopped first near the shore near the lighthouse to snorkel. Coral was mostly brown with a little yellow and other colors, but it was alive. We saw tons of fish, including some eels. Some people of the boat gave up snorkeling and had a diving contest off the side of the boat. We then went offshore a little ways to the wreck of the Antilla. The seas were rougher so it was harder to snorkel. The depth is around 60 feet. It was cloudy so it was hard to see (but the color of the water was beautiful). I kept seeing something that looked like jellyfish, but then I realized it was the bubbles coming from the divers below us. On the way back to the ship we sailed very close to the shore line as we enjoyed our unlimited rum punches.

Afterwards walked into town (a whole block) and went shopping. Found T-shirts at Del Sol for two teenage boys and cute little wacky souvenirs on the street. Had to make sure to finish shopping by 2pm as all the shops were closing for the Carnaval Parade. Had lunch at Iguana Joes. Yummy food, if you like fish try their Mahi-Mahi entrée which is in a creole sauce. Yummy. Wonderful crème brulee as well. Plus a drink called a Banana Bye-Bye (similar to a BBC). Walked through town but decided a nap was calling me so went back to the ship.

Had dinner in the WJ as my next tour left before late seating. Tonight was Caribbean Night in the dining room. Dress tonight was casual/Caribbean. Walked off the ship to a dark terminal. Apparently, the terminal had a power failure. Saw the Kukoo Kunuku drive up. The Kukoo Kunuku is absolutely wonderful. If you are any kind of drinker or partier or just jolly good person this is the excursion for you. It is an open air, colorful bus, that plays music. You are handed maracas as you board and you sing and play as you drive between 5 different bars, each one with a different feel. You get a “free” drink at each. The free drink is small but if you pay $5 you can get a mug that holds 3 times as much and only requires $2 extra to fill at each place. Well worth it. The ride between bars alone was worth the excursion. The first bar was Chasers. We were the only people there. There was music playing and dancing. Depending on how you look at it, I unfortunately had a wardrobe malfunction before we were even at the first bar 5 minutes. One of my straps popped off. Lots of helpful gentleman offered to help me with it, but I managed to catch it. And so I tucked both taps into my bra, and suddenly my cute flowery sun top became a low cut strapless top. I was the hit of the evening. The next bar was Grammy’s a karaoke bar. Only a couple of people got to sing but still fun nonetheless. The 3rd bar was UWannaBeer! I danced on top of the bar, so did several guys and there was clothing coming off – on the part of the guys. I’d already given everybody enough of a show. This was the best stop of the evening. The 4th bar I don’t know the name of but boy do they pour strong drinks. I ordered a rum punch. They did 3 long pours (think several seconds long) of rum with a splash of juice. Whoa! I couldn’t finish it but graciously gave it to one of my brand new friends. The last bar was Carlos and Charlies. Beautiful Harley’s upfront, place was packed and smoky. After the fun of the last bars, C&C wasn’t as fun since it was so packed and there wasn’t any music playing (they were having a tequila drinking contest). So we (me and several of my new drinking buddies) headed back to the ship for the Caribbean Pool Party. Good food – they roasted an entire hog, head and all. I thought about calling the Hogs right there (hey, I’m from Arkansas). A small group of us (the 5 youngest people on the ship – or at the very least at the pool party) decided to go play minigolf. Heck, I played better this time drunk, than I have during the day sober. As we played, we finally set sail – 15 minutes early. As a conclusion to the evening, headed up to 13 to the disco for one last drink and observed the rotating bar. It was kind of weird because if you are watching you don’t realize it rotates, but if you don’t pay attention and look up, the bar’s suddenly moved.

Day 5: Sea Day

Wake up late and head to the dining room for lunch. Seas are as calm as they can be, and it is hot! Head to the pool and arrive for the belly flop contest. Find a chair by the pool to lay on. Get in the hot tub to help my knee. There are kids in the hot tubs but they are behaving and not bothering anyone. I tried the pool but it was lukewarm due to the heat. So I laid out and read. A couple of the kids in the hot tub started splashing each other. When they splashed me, I became the grumpy adult and told them to stop. They decided to get out of the hot tub (which they were too young to be in anyways but that’s another story).

Went to the Seaview Café for a snack. The menu is paninis, pizza, and pasta. This menu was very limiting for me as everything has cheese or cream in it and most of the items they couldn’t leave the cheese off of. Still my ham and tomato panini was wonderful.

Went down to Promenade deck to read outside and explore the helicopter deck, in order to plan for tomorrow in the Canal.

C&A repeaters party was before dinner this evening. They held two separate parties – one for each seating. The captain talked about the new ships and the problems with the overcrowding in the Caribbean and they are looking for new itineraries and new ports. Dinner was lightly attended. I ate salmon off the everyday menu. Our waitress noticed that my tablemates like to get out of the dining room early and so has been very accommodating. Plus we continue to get a bowlful of steamed vegetables. Had an after dinner drink in the Schooner Bar and went to see the Battle of the Sexes but got really tired before it even started so went to bed for our early morning.

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Day 6: Panama Canal

 

Entered the Canal around 6:45am. I was up and on the helicopter pad by 5:30 but was beaten to the punch by at least 25 people. Those of us in the bow were able to see the approach to the locks, see the locomotives hook up (and then one of the locomotives loose the cables). There are 3 locks at Gatun Lake and it took over 2 hours to go through them. We were joined in the locks by the Zaandam. Once we entered Gatun Lake, I left the boat by tender to take the Panama Canal by Ferry Tour. Only people on ships tours were allowed to leave the boat in Gatun Lake. The tour started with a bus ride to Gamboa to pick up the ferry. We got to see lots of beautiful foliage plus a three-toed sloth and howler monkeys. Picked up the ferry at Gamboa just north of where the Chagris River enters the canal. We were provided lunch (a turkey sandwich and a muffin) plus all the water and coke we could drink – and were encouraged to constantly drink. The view was breathtaking as we got to see the navigational systems, small boats and large ships, and all three sets of locks. It was very hot – so hot somebody got sick and had to be taken off by ambulance once we were in the 3rd set of locks – they didn’t stay in the shade and didn’t drink enough water. You could even see where the fresh canal water changed over to the salty Pacific Ocean Water. On the drive back, our guide showed us a cashew – very different than what we see in stores. We were the last tour back on the ship.

 

Tonight was Casual night in the Dining Room.

 

Day 7: Costa Rica

 

This was the port I wasn’t as excited to see. But boy was I wrong. There were at least two other ships in port with us (HAL’s Zaandam, and a Celebrity ship – not sure which one, I think Galaxy, but it came in as we left). As we waited for our tours, we were given a lecture on not taking any food off the ship including coffee and tea, and they were searching bags for forbidden items.

 

I signed up for Tabacon Hot Springs and Mount Arenal Volcano. It was a very long tour – almost 12 hours, but worth every minute. We were the first tour off the ship. We were met on the pier by our guide who took us to our nice air conditioned bus for our 3-1/2 hour drive to Arenal. On the way we saw banana plantations, pineapple plantations, casaba plants, ornamental ferns, sloths, howler monkeys, and more of the Costa Rican countryside than any other tour. While 3-1/2 hours sounds long it went very fast. As we approached the Arenal area the volcano was surrounded by clouds – about 85% of visitors don’t get to see the volcano.

 

We got to the Tabacon Resort and we’re given a locker key and a towel. We had a little over an hour to take advantage of the pools. There are several hot springs pools. Some are hotter than others, some cooler. Some have calmer water, some have swiftly moving water. Some are near the main resort, others are more secluded. But you could go into any and all. Plus there were several cold water pools. After we took advantage of the pools, we were provided a buffet with salads, fruit, rice, beans, meat, and desert, plus juices and bottled water. As we left the resort, the clouds parted and we became one of the lucky few that get to see Mount Arenal volcano. We were the last ones back to the ship. In fact, they held the ship for us. As we drove up to the pier, they waved our bus down the pier to the gangway and as we unloaded they were waving at us to go faster.

 

Tonight was Quest. This was absolutely great. The CD called some Quests I hadn’t heard before. I played with several first timers who were great fun.

 

Day 8: Day at Sea

 

Started the day off with a wonderful facial. My face hasn’t been this clear in years. Then read a book on the promenade deck and lunch in the dining room. After lunch headed to the pool, which was my downfall. Very few deck chairs available – chair hogs out in force – but the pool deck staff was using little orange stickys to mark the times of occupancy. I applied sunscreen when I first got there, but forgot to reapply after getting in the pool. I am now a walking advertisement for why you should always use high SPF sunblock. Watched the Owner’s Cup Horse Race won by Apple Pie.

 

Tonight was formal night in the dining room, and lobster and prime rib night. Lobster was moist and not overcooked. Tonight was also my tablemates 44th wedding anniversary and they ordered the cake. It was a vanilla cake with a raspberry filling, very moist and wonderful. After dinner was Love and Marriage which I missed because I was drinking in the Schooner Bar prepping to sing in Karaoke Idol which I had promised several people I would do so they could hear me sing. Headed to Colony Club for Karaoke Idol where I was one of only 3 people to sign up, so I ended up in the finals.

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Day 9: Georgetown, Grand Cayman

Early morning arrival. Predicted weather was scattered showers – was sunny with few clouds in contrast to my first visit where it poured rain. We used the ship’s boats as tenders. We were the only ship in Grand Cayman that day. Did the Rays and Reef Combo through RCI. Good excursion. We took a bus to catch the boat which was a two story power boat. We went to Stingray City first and were one of the first boats to arrive, just at feeding time. This was very fun although a lot of people are wimps. Water is a perfectly clear light aqua green at Stingray City but not very far from there it changes to a deep dark blue. We then took the boat a few hundred yards to Coral Gardens on the edge of the Cayman Barrier Reef. Lots of coral, in different colors, tons of fish, saw 2 eel and 2 nurse sharks. Snorkeling was challenging though as you were constantly being bracketed by waves hitting the reef. Very beautiful.

Went back to the ship for my 2nd massage, didn’t have to wait for a tender at all. I was supposed to have a seaweed wrap, but due to the severity of my sunburn it became a treat the sunburn wrap with a little bit of seaweed. It helped the burn greatly and they gave me something to constantly keep on it, plus a lecture on keeping out of the sun.

Had drinks in the Schooner Bar compliments of some of my new friends then headed to dinner. After dinner went back to the Schooner Bar for shots with bartenders Eric (from Philippines) and T (from Italy), the best bartenders on the ship.

Day 10: Sea Day – Last Day at Sea

In the morning, got up and went and played Cash Prize Bingo, used my free card I got for doing Karaoke Idol. Didn’t win, although I was standing at the end of each game only needing one number more. This is why I don’t gamble, I’m always close but no cigar.

Went to the Platinum and Diamond lunch in the Dining Room. Was seated at a table with Jim Rankins, the human resources manager. We were able to ask him many questions and he asked us a lot as well, trying to find out what us repeaters wanted. It was nice to have the feedback going both ways.

I spent part of the afternoon packing and the other part of the afternoon relaxing in the Schooner Bar (I was banned from going outside in the sun). My lovely stateroom attendant, Ricardo, helped me with my bags so I wouldn’t hurt myself further.

Went to the dining room for my last evening on ship. Will definitely miss Yasmine, our waiter, and Melissa, our assistant waiters. They were absolutely wonderful.

After dinner it was time for me to head to the Pacifica Theater for Karaoke Idol Finals. I managed to catch the end of the early seating’s show. After hearing the singers, I was sorry I had missed some of the shows previously as they were very good. I didn’t win Karaoke Idol but had a great time.

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Day 11: Disembarkation Day

Disembarking was scheduled to start around 7:15am with the express group, and I was in the 4th color scheduled to be called Grey. Woke up and went to breakfast in the Dining Room at 6:30. After breakfast, I planned to grab my bags from my stateroom and go up to the Starquest Disco to the Platinum/Diamond lounge. This didn’t happen. They called the express group around 6:45 and my color was called by 7:15. There was a long line for immigration though, although I was through a lot quicker than other people around me who were traveling on foreign passports or birth certificates.

When I got down to the carousels I grabbed a porter and then we waited for our bags. We had gotten off so quickly our bags weren’t there yet. By about 8:30 we had both my bags and left the terminal. I had RCI transfers but they directed me to American Airlines check-in first so I didn’t have to do it at the airport. Because I had a porter I got to go to the head of the line, ahead of the about 50 people waiting in line. When they realized I was by myself, they let me stay with my bags and they went and got my tickets for me. When they saw I was limping, they recommended I get wheelchair assistance at the airport.

When I got to the airport, I had to wait for 3 hours in a small area for a wheelchair. MIA does not have enough wheelchairs for the number of people who travel through there each day, and they don’t have moving sidewalks or carts for use and there are long walks to gates. In the time I waited I could’ve walked to the gate, but I decided to wait because I didn’t want to risk somebody jarring my knee. As it was, they took me to the front of the line at security, but since I could walk through it made it easier. If I had stayed in the chair I would’ve had to go through extra security. Definitely allow yourself extra time at MIA to get around even if you are healthy as there are long walks between gates and security and baggage claim.

I asked, and the gate agent let me board the plane with the first class cabin so I could sit down and get out of everybody’s way (and get my knee out of the way as well). I had a moment of panic when somebody asked to take the aisle seat in front of me because they thought they had the stomach flu and needed to be able to get to the bathroom quickly. Thankfully, they found her a seat in the back near the restroom. In Dallas, I was able to walk between the gates as both my gates were next to the Skylink, but American let me get on board the plane early there as well and got me seat at the front of the regional jet. The flight attendant even put my carryon up with hers so I could have the area underneath the seat to stretch out my leg.

Various comments:

This is the most beautiful ship I’ve seen. There are very few places on this ship that you cannot see outside from. I had an inside stateroom on deck 3 and could be looking outside at the ocean in less than a minute. There is beautiful wood and soft (not necessarily pale) colours all over the ship. I liked the art work as well, although some people weren’t as happy. My favorite places were the Solarium, very airy, lots of foliage, etc. and the Schooner Bar, darker woods, lots of places to sit, beautiful open view to the outside. I never felt crowded anywhere on this ship.

There was lots of chair hogging, but the deck patrol was using stickers to mark times and would send people’s stuff to the lost and found after 30 minutes.

This is a very friendly ship. If you have an issue, just talk to someone and they try to fix it. Everyone has a smile on their face and a “How are you doing?” or Good Morning/Good Afternoon.

Will try to post photos either tomorrow, or after I get back from Serenade. I took a full montage of photos on the Panama Canal by Ferry tour.

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Question? Are in Aruba 2 days or 1 day on this itinerary? It looks like you arrive at 7:00 AM and leave at 1:00AM BUT I called royal Caribbean and was told you are in aruba for 2 days? Which is it?

Thanks!

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Great review Wrona!

 

 

Funny coincidence,,,my friends are sailing on the BOS in August to the Med. and they told me there room number today and guess what it is yours. I almost just fell over when I read your review.

 

 

Did you take any pictures of the room I would love to show them, ( they are not computer literate)

 

Sue

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Answering questions:

 

You are in Aruba for 1 day leaving at 1am the next day. So basically the Tuesday is a Sea Day.

 

I don't remember if I took any pictures of the room. When I get my photos back I'll make sure to post any, if I did. I do have to say that this was a great room. Not much traffic except for crew members. Not much movement. I promise I left the room in great shape for your friends.

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HI Wrona - Thanks for the review...I forgot that was the cruise you were on. While we were on the Radiance last week we booked the 11 day Panama Canal on the Brilliance for this week next year...so reading your review was really helpful. I'm a little disappointed that we won't have access to those great onion rings in the Seaview...but I'm sure we'll live. ;)

The same thing happened to us with the table assignment. We asked for a table of 8...they gave us a table of 4 next to the service area. We asked to move and they put us at a table of 12. However, Jeff and I were the only ones at it the first night. The next night we were joined by a couple with a 7 week old baby. They only lasted a few minutes before they had to leave. After the 4th day they finally agreed to put 2 more people at the table. The 6th night they moved a table of 6 to join us. Since there were other people originally assigned to the table who never showed up they didn't want to make any changes any sooner.

 

P.S. How was the bar exam? When will you get your results?

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I am currently trying to put the nastiness of the bar exam out of my mind. I have two cruises to go before I get my results (i.e. the end of this month).

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I am currently trying to put the nastiness of the bar exam out of my mind. I have two cruises to go before I get my results (i.e. the end of this month).

 

That's not so bad...we had to wait 5 months in New York. I think it's kind of like childbirth...when you pass you forget about the pain. And it is more of a relief if you pass then actual exhiliration. I'm sure you did fine and it will all become a mere memory that can easily be wiped out by three cruises!!!!:D

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Thanks for such a great review. We will be the first group out in November after they return from Europe.

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Wrona, you have been in my thoughts !! Please let us know when you get your letter announcing that you have passed the bar !! We can all mentally celebrate with you !!

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Great review. We are thinking of Panama next February on the Brilliance.

A question, were there many kids on board? I'm asking because we have two, 11 and 15.

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Any idea which specific Sting Ray City tour you took? There are two or three and none mention a trip to the Coral Reef for some additional snorkeling. I've been thinking of switching to one of the local companies because of this but it sounds like you did both.

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It was through RCI and it was the Rays and Reefs Combo. I took the earliest time as I wanted a massage. This actually was a good time, as we were one of the first boats out there and the stingrays hadn't been fed in several hours so they were very active.

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Great review, Wrona! :) Glad you had such a great time... you definitely deserve it! We're doing the 11 night on BOS in December, I really appreciate all the detail you shared.

 

 

 

....... I actually already have a reservation for a particular stateroom, but what RCI Miami told me was correct (there is a first for everything, I know). I will be able to keep my deposit and exact room I booked before I got on the ship, and just transfer them to the new reservation I made on the ship in order to get my onboard booking credit – and I didn’t have to make a new deposit.

 

 

Great tip! Can you do this with any cruise you have booked that doesn't already have an onboard credit? Do you get to keep the price from when you made the reservation or do you pay the current price? We have 3 cruises booked that we don't have an onboard credit for.... we haven't made final payment on any of them.... 2 were booked in the past couple of weeks, so the price will probably still be the same when I go on my next cruise in a couple of weeks. The other one though, is our Alaska cruise and the price now is WAAAAY higher than it was when we booked.

 

Thanks a bunch!

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Wrona-

 

Thanks for the very detailed trip report. I look forward to your posts from your upcoming Serenade cruise.

 

Live it up!!

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On the Brilliance next week... from your notes I'm trying to decide if mentioning your name to the Shooner bar staff will be a good thing or not... :D

 

I've lived vicariously through your posts and hope to have as much fun as you (I'll pass on the sunburn and other various injuries if you don't mind). I'll look for the claw marks from where they dragged you off the ship.

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