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#1TravelMom

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  1. Yes, they met you at the port under a white canopy. They transport you by van directly to the marina. On the return, you can get dropped at the beach for an hour or two and then catch a taxi back OR they will return you to the pier area. In my opinion, the price for this excursion is one of the best values of all of the the excursions we've done. It just feels luxurious sailing on a catamaran. When you see the boats packed with people at the stingray sandbar, you will be so thankful you chose Stingray Saling!
  2. Agree, Rony is a great choice. We are booked with him for next month.
  3. Thanks. I thought they normally stay on Miami time. All of our previous Royal Caribbean Cruises did not change the clocks. I just wanted to make sure they haven't changed anything recently. We just needed to know specifically if the ship time changed. For example, if we want to meet a local friend at noon for lunch. That would make sense to us, but to them it is only going to be 10 am, too early for lunch.
  4. We will be on Symphony Of The Seas next month. We are trying to coordinate something in Roatan. I need to know if the ship stays on Miami time or switches to local time?
  5. I agree with crewsweeper. Look for a website that caters to those in wheelchairs. Much of Roatan is rustic and not easily accessible. It would be good to book with someone who has specific experience.
  6. He is very trustworthy. We have know him and toured with him for 10 years +/-. I'm sure he'd refund your money if the port was missed for some reason. He, as well as the other tour companies, rely on business from tourists to support their families. I doubt any would risk a bad review by not refunding your money. Rony is a great guy - I'm sure you will have a memorable day!
  7. Ronystours.com has a tour that would be great for this. I'm not sure if this could have been the tour you booked before. You can contact Rony in advance. If you let him know what you are bringing, he can have a certain number of children meet you and you can give the supplies directly to them. Or, if you have other things you'd like to do, he'd be glad to deliver them for you. He does a great job coordinating visits with children in his neighborhood. The children are just precious and they really appreciate anything that is given to them.
  8. Seaside is a very large ship - comparable(imho) to the newer ships on the mainstream cruise lines. They visit basically the same ports. As far as "American friendly" - this is how I interpret it. MSC uses this wording and considers these ships more geared towards the American market. They are an Italian line. Some feel they cater more to Europeans. I didn't see this and I don't even know how a cruiseline can "cater" to a specific group. Some people do not like that they do most announcements in several languages. This doesn't bother us one bit. On the other ships, I've read that the staff is not friendly. I don't think it's a matter of the not being friendly. I think, in general, from what I've read, they are trained to be seen and not heard. Interacting with passengers is not encouraged. This is sometimes mistaken for rudeness. We did not experience this whatsoever on the Seaside. Also, I believe these ships have a different dining room menu and larger buffet. I've read a lot of reviews where people make MSC sound DRAMATICALLY different than other lines. As far as the Seaside, we saw very little difference. We didn't encounter any rude people of any nationality. We are very easy going, not hard to please and make the best of every cruise. I find it hard to believe that our entire group of 18 loved it and it still get some terrible reviews here and there. I think some let one bad experience cloud their view of the entire ship/cruise. For example, one person had trouble with a drink package and stood in line for quite a while and had difficulty getting it resolved. I understand that this would be extremely frustrating. But, as soon as I had things resolved, I'd just move on and have a great time. Others may let this ruin the entire trip. Yacht Club is a different level of cabin and service. The rooms are in a different location with a private pool and restaurant. I think they also have a concierge and other services. We just don't feel the higher price is worth it, but clearly many people feel that it's a necessity. Everyone has different preferences.
  9. I have not done this. I haven't even heard of it. Sounds fun!
  10. We've always had great drivers with Rony. Sorry to hear that your experience was not "great".
  11. No other ships are similar. I actually don't have first-hand experience on the Meriviglia. I'm only saying it's comparable based on what the Seaside staff has told me. We liked the Seaside so much and asked several staff onboard if any other ships were going to be more "American friendly"(as they call it). They said the Meriviglia. From all I have read and have been told, the other ships are VERY different. We found more similarities than differences with MSC. The reviews had me so hesitant, but the price over Thanksgiving was amazing. The water park is awesome. Lots of pools. Plenty of activities. Incredible pizza(we liked all of the food). Our group of 18 struggled to think of anything we were not happy with. I really think MSC will be gaining a share of the US market once more people give it a try. I often read "Don't try MSC unless you can afford Yacht Club". We didn't pay the extra amount to be in the Yacht Club and we still had a fabulous time. Currently, we rate the Seaside just under the newer RCCL ships(we love those). But, for the price - MSC is absolutely a great value. I would consider it pretty even with the newer NCL ships.
  12. We have been to Honduras 10+ times. You can do all of the things listed in one day. Contact Rony and book a private driver for the day. South Shore Canopy and West Bay are very close. This is our favorite zipline and most spectacular snorkeling location. Walk right in from the beach. We've seen such a great variety of fish there including the largest parrotfish. Chocolate factory is not worth the time, imho. It's not really a "factory", but a shop where you can see how chocolate is made. You can try free samples. I personally wouldn't visit again, but it is between Manawakie and South Shore, so you could easily add it. It would probably add about 30-45 minutes to your day. 20 minutes to Manawakie 1 hour there 25-30 minutes to South Shore Zipline 1 hour there 5-10minutes to West Bay 2-3 hours there 25-30 minutes back to pier Totally doable. Sounds like a great day to me! We love all of these activities and have done them many times. Book with Rony. He is a great guide. He will make sure you have a great day. I wouldn't take a chance booking with anyone else. You could get assigned a new driver or someone that speaks little English. I've never read a bad comment about Rony. He's so friendly and knowledgeable. Your driver can make all the difference in your experience in Roatan - use the best!
  13. Of the ships you list, I'd recommend the Epic. We've been on that ship 3 or 4 times. Loved it. Bathrooms not an issue. I would never cruise out of NY in December. We've tried it in November and the weather really limits outdoor time. May work for some - but not us. We personally don't care for Celebrity. We've only done a few Celebrity and they've felt a little too formal for us. If you don't cruise a lot, I'd definitely chose a cruise that allow you to experience new islands. VOS is not one of our favorite ships, but the 11 nights and Panama make it sound interesting. We felt like there were not enough activities for some reason. But, that could totally just be our preferences. Just a suggestion. Have you considered MSC Seaside or Meriviglia? We just returned from our second sailing with a group of 18 (ages 10-55). We all loved it! The prices are very good. The ship is beautiful and we thought the service was excellent. Reviews for this ship are all over the place. I've read reviews about rude staff and inedible food. We totally disagree. This was our second trip on the Seaside and I would gladly book again. We've been on more than 60 cruises and the Seaside is probably top 5 for us. We thought the value for the price was great. I'd book the Seaside and use the extra savings for spectacular excursions.
  14. We've been on the Seaside twice. Loved it both times. We've done many cruises and rate it in our top five. We did not have Yacht Club cabins. I do not remember children or smoke being an issue and I'm very sensitive to smoke. Not sure about Bingo, but attended lots of trivia and it was only in English. We thought the food was very good. The ship is absolutely beautiful. There where lots of things for the kids to do. Shows are definitely different. More of a variety show each night. We enjoyed them. We will definitely go back to the Seaside or Meraviglia. These two ships are different from the other MSC ships - more similar to mainstream Cruise Lines.
  15. I respect that you disagree. However, we have done mission work in 20 countries in the past 25 years. I'm not saying that pencils and lollipops are going to solve major problems in third world countries. I do know for a fact that every school can always use pencils and erasers. Children in many countries get candy as a treat at Christmas only. This was a simple suggestion for someone who wants to make a small gesture. There are valid points in your articles that do not apply to us or cruise passengers in general. Cruise passengers are not spending thousands of dollars to visit a country, they simply are visiting for a day. We do not pay any organization for the privilege of volunteering. We spend only our own money - no fundraisers, church, or community support. Whether cruise or land, we consider our trips to be vacations with a purpose. We do 2-4 trips per year, so we have learned where our money is best spent. While some consider the best option is to donate money to charities that send it to be used in impoverished areas, we do not. Most organizations have a high percentage of administrative costs. Many governments and "middlemen" are corrupt and misappropriate the funds. We have seen it first hand. We know if we visit a country, our money goes exactly where it is needed. As for your statement that "this is for our enjoyment". You are correct. We do enjoy saving for months at a time so we can take gifts and supplies to help children and adults who are less fortunate. I drive a 9-year old car. My peach formica countertops and mauve sectional are from 1992 - I could go on and on. Perhaps I would enjoy a new car and updated kitchen, etc., but for now serving others when we travel is enjoyment for us. So, if you are accusing us of doing this "for our enjoyment" - we are certainly guilty. I wish more people would do this "for their enjoyment". It can also be said, that wealthy people(we are not in this category) just write a check and boast about sending money to make themselves look and feel charitable, with very little sacrifice. Giving time and showing people you actually care is what we prefer at home and abroad. Any charitable act in my opinion is better than doing nothing at all. We just love looking people in the eye and smiling. Their smiles, hugs, and often tears, are the best reward ever.
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