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About OceansOfTravels

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Annapolis, MD, USA
  • Interests
    Olympic History, Urban Development, Language Learning, Traveling
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    St. Maarten, Marseille or San Juan

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  1. Now that you mention bringing a floating lounger .... that may be the plan for my next MSC cruise 😉
  2. Hello! I'm excited that you started this thread, I will be on Explorer in January and I have a few questions 1) Can you ice skate in the rink, or is it only for shows? Like do they ever host open skating? If so, is there a cost associated with it, and what would I need to bring? (ie socks, shoes, etc) 2) Did you try any of the uncharge restaurants? Did you like them? 3) Any "secret decks" or "explorer hacks" that you found? I'm talking any special places to chill out, secret items at a coffee shop, or anything special 4) What were some of the typical activities offered on sea days? Were you happy with the amount to do onboard? I have four days at sea on this itinerary so I am wondering what will be in store for me. Thank you so much in advance for your help, I'm really excited to cruise the Explorer and make my return to Royal for the first time in many years!
  3. Hello, We will be in Aruba for the day in January. Since Aruba is both very touristy and very expensive, we have decided to use our day in Aruba to go to a beach bar/club, and maybe do some shopping in the town, and save our big excursion money for Curacao and Bonaire. What are everyone's favorite beach bars in Aruba? We are primarily leaning towards a bar on either Arashi, Eagle or Palm Beach, because we have read that we can take the bus to them from the ship, but if anyone has another bar that isn't on one of those three beaches that is worth the trip, let me know. We aren't looking for a hotel day pass because they are expensive, but we would prefer beach bars that have wifi, chairs/umbrellas to rent, and maybe food/drink nearby. Just a nice place to spend the day, as the photos of there beaches in Aruba look beautiful. Thank you in advance to anyone that helps, any suggestion is appreciated! 😄
  4. THANK YOU!!! This is amazing information, I am a big public transportation enthusiast so I enjoyed reading this, and definitely plan to employ a bust in one or both of these ports when I go in January depending on what we decide to do. While I have your attention, you mentioned Arashi Beach. I looked up pictures and it looks absolutely gorgeous! We have never been to Aruba, but given how it's A) very touristy and B) very expensive, we were just thinking of making this our beach day and finding us a nice beach club. Does Arashi have any beach clubs? We don't need advanced beach clubs, but we do enjoy when they have wifi and chairs/umbrellas to rent. It's also nice if they have drinks and food to buy as well. Does Arashi have these, and you do have a favorite? If not, do you know of any good ones? Thank you in advance for your help!
  5. This would make sense though and I always wondered why they weren't more vigilant about it. Martinique is an Overseas Collectivity of France, which basically just means it's like Puerto Rico to the USA, except with more rights and legal representation. Their official language is French, they use the Euro, and people born in Martinique can play for France in the Olympics and World Cup. The flight from Fort-de-France to Paris is domestic, and technically would not require a passport to complete. Therefore, you would be able to enter Metropolitan French territory without a passport, which is not only a problem for France, but for the entire EU and Schengen zone. I know it's dramatic, but it makes sense. This also is another reason why Martinique has fallen out of favor with the American lines and is not featured on many of the prominent sailings, especially with CCL, RCI and NCL. It's kind of a small price you have to pay if you want to visit Martinique, but I cannot blame them. This also shows you why European lines base their ships in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barbados and La Romana in the winter and do not call on St.Thomas and San Juan, because the US government requires everyone to have a passport with permission to enter the USA (if they're not from one of the areas where we have a 90 day grace period with no visa like Europe), and all must go through US Immigration, which occurs onboard. I think it's a fair trade off, and the French officials are not wrong for becoming stricter with this. I know the USA officials set up entire immigration procedures in the theaters and atriums of ships just trying to port in St.Thomas for the day that did not start in the USA, so I can't knock them for it.
  6. Empress is an amazing ship and I enjoyed my cruise on her very much (much more so for the price I paid, but still a great ship nonetheless 😁) The rooms are definitely small, I have an OV cabin on Deck 3. We had only two people, so no needs for bunk beds, but I do remember the shower being small. Nevertheless, not only was it a last minute vacation, but I am a huge Olympic enthusiast and artifact collector, and Rio 2016 started while I was onboard. so I have good memories of watching the Opening Ceremony while on the ship. While small, the crew definitely works to plan many fun activities, so you may not even be in the cabin for very long. All in all, not only would I sail on Empress again, but I would like to, considering she'll be cruising from NJ (so I can drive), and to the smaller ports in Bermuda like Hamilton and St.George because she can fit!
  7. If you want a nice place in Cozumel, Paradise Beach Club is an amazing beach club with all the facilities you could need - a pool, a spacious beach area, bathrooms, changing facilities, food/drink, and wifi - all for a $3 admission price. They just ask you to spend $10 while on the complex in food/drink, so you could easily do this with drinking. Taxi rate should be about $20 total. But, if even that is still a lot, you could still have a nice beach day in Roatan by taking a taxi to West Bay Beach ($25 roundtrip) and laying out towels. That is what my friend and I did on the Armonia earlier this summer when we went, because this was a nice cheap way to spend the day. And, since we were there from about 1PM-5PM, 4 hours was the perfect amount of time to just be laying on a towel and not have the towel get soaked/start to feel uncomfortable. Beware of Costa Maya though, aside from shopping at the cookie cutter stores or chilling at the pool area they made, there isn't a very "cheap" option (aside from maybe a beach day or a trip to the local city of Mahaual). I really don't like this port for that reason. Others have stated above about Key West's walkability and free bus for tourists that will take you to the tourist areas. Key West can be a great port for staying on a budget!
  8. They didn't for the FIFA Women's World Cup, and not because they didn't want to, but where were were sailing, there was no broadcast available. We were sailing through the Gulf of Mexico and no country in the area had qualified, so there wasn't a pressing need to get it on the TV channels (I was also cruising through Group stage, I heard they aired the final). So, if you're sailing through the Med, you may or may not have satellite service, as England and France adore Rugby and will be big teams to watch in the tournament. Best of luck to whoever your team is, I'll be cheering for the USA and their (inevitably short) campaign 😄
  9. I would say to keep your room if you don't like motion, you have an ideal location plus one of the retrofitted rooms with the newer balconies from the Evolutions upgrade. Moving to Deck 11 will decrease your balcony size and increase the amount of motion your experience. Have a good cruise!
  10. I'm not sure if Carnival has thought about it already, but refillable water bottle stations that don't involve any contact (like the kind you see in public buildings all over the place now) would be GREAT for ships.
  11. It should also be noted that you shouldn't really be filling up your water bottle at the drink stations on the Lido buffet. This can lead to cross contamination and the spreading of diseases, which can de detrimental on an enclosed ship. What crew members will tell you to do is either to drink water from the tap in your stateroom (I've done it on every ship I've ever been on and I've yet to have a problem), or fill up some smaller cups, and then pour them all into your water bottle. But reusable water bottles are most definitely allowed onboard, it's always the first thing I pack!
  12. Yep! Not only did I enjoy the food on the Armonia, but I enjoyed the food on all of my MSC cruises. Don't forget that food is a very subjective topic, so what I find to be "good" food, you may consider poor. To me, any food that I do not have to cook or clean up, and any food that magically replenishes itself, is good food 😄 So if you want a more advanced or critical view, I would take what I said with a grain of salt. But, I still stand by what I said in that the food on the Armonia was very good to me!
  13. Hello fellow Marylander! You are going to be docking in Coxed Hole, which is the regular cruise port on the island (Carnival Corp owns Mahogany Bay, which is a private destination). As for West Bay, the taxi will take about 20 minutes one way from the dock in Coxen Hole to the beach. We booked a cab right outside the terminal for $25 roundtrip, and we arranged a pick up time with the driver before getting out, and met him exactly where he dropped us off. We just laid our towels out on the beach and did not rent beach chairs. Stopped at a local bar for a mojito though!
  14. I love cruising during January (you can see my next cruise is in January). There aren't a lot of younger kids onboard, the prices are cheaper, and the islands and attractions are in full swing because it's in season. It's always just so nice to get away from the cold. It will be warm in Cozumel, definitely warm enough to go and enjoy a nice day at the beach or on a boat. I say book the cruise and get some time away!
  15. I don't think it took more than 5 minutes to be honest, it was the most lax immigration I've ever experienced. I walked into the theatre, presented my room key and my passport, and was out of there in no less than 5 minutes. However, we were all given zones/groups to head down to the theatre for immigration, so I would plan on talking to Guest Services to make sure that you are in the first group. If you have an excursion, I think they bring you all together, but I could be wrong about that. It should be noted that I am an American, and the American/Canadian/Green Card immigration (in the theatre) was exponentially faster than the immigration for all other Passport holders (in the aft restaurant). I made friends with a guy from Italy on this cruise, and he told me it took 40-60 minutes to get him and his friends all processed through immigration. So, if you aren't an American, I would either book a later tour, or try to ensure you are one of the absolute first to go through immigration.
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