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About Me

  • Location
    The corn fields just south of the Windy City
  • Interests
    travel, family, gardening, rambling and blathering
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Premier, remember them?
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras

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  1. Get some sleep! We need you in good condition for the remainder of this voyage.
  2. Haha! That was never really my substance of choice. College at University of Illinois in the 1980's was all booze and way too much of it - it was a very heavy drinking campus. And while I get the joke, the waiters are NOT mentioning the $5 charge, just carrying these colorful juices around asking if you want one, then taking your S&S card. Not a very satisfying nickel bag, but if I'm being honest, I've had worse and it wasn't worth getting in a tizzy.
  3. One of those $5 juices on the brunch menu. I got one of the green ones and I agree with her assessment.
  4. I have seen several comments that they become available to set dining guests at 8:30 nightly, but considering they were often empty at 5:30 I think it’s worth walking up and asking. Did you take early dining to match travel companions or because it’s all that was available? Because sometimes you can change later as people cancel and so forth. Seems YTD is getting more popular all the time and it’s all I would ever choose anymore.
  5. As it happens, I took photos of this Chibang! Chocolate cake of which you speak showing the moistness but not quite lava cake ooze. I liked it as well.
  6. We are not picky eaters at all, and we are usually fine with whatever they put in front of us - however, remember on this ship, at least for the current time and unspecified future, Cucina, Chibang! and Pig and Anchor Smokehouse are all included as nightly dinner options for those with YTD. A lot of folks are just eating at those many / most evenings, especially if they have found themselves underwhelmed by the MDR in the past. In particular Cucina seems to be getting consistently positive reviews for the YTD crowd who wants a nice dinner without an upcharge. We only ate dinner in the MDR one time. Here's how our night time dining worked out: 1. Steakhouse (upcharge but on embark night this included a cheapo but okay bottle of wine) 2. Grazed after late SeaDay brunch, had things like Street Eats, Piazza Panini, JavaBlue grab item 3. Bonsai Sushi (5:30 pm, upcharge, was good but not tons of food) and Smokehouse 9:30 pm 4. Chibang! 5. MDR - had a tasty enough, large meaty portion of lasagna Bolognese. 6. Cucina 7. Cucina again I would mention, those locations might all be fairly busy on the first night or two of the cruise but in my experience they were less than full later on - surprisingly so, especially early when dinner service starts around 5:30. I believe there are longer waits at the popular times around 7 ish and the venues did gradually fill up a bit while we had our meals. This was the first cruise where we didn't have our dinner at least one night in the main buffet. This is partly due to my family maturing and no longer needing to be running on the go all day and more willing to just sit down and relax for a while, but also a factor of the many, many choices.
  7. Excellent summary. Your non-foody comment describes us as well. I agree with all your food deets. SeaDay Brunch steak and eggs continues to be a top food hack and always a good enough reason to visit the big dining room a couple days per cruise. Just a couple extra points - as you note, Cucina and Chibang! might need to stay comp permanently to manage dinner capacities - and though it was not your favorite this time around, the P&A Smokehouse is another in that category that is helping manage the nightly load. While none of these three venues are probably life-altering culinary experiences, they are all interesting options and provide unprecedented flexibility for included suppers making us feel spoiled for choice. We all see the megaship industry trends toward more and more upcharge dining and these 3 venues provide the extremely pleasant sensation of "getting away with something" to the guests. The perceived value on our end is through the roof, for experiences and food that are really not much more costly (if at all) to pull off for the cruise line than the MDR itself. As you kinda noted, the inclusion of these places may also encourage a few more people to put on a clean collared shirt at night rather than resorting to the Lido in sweaty t-shirt of the day attire. We only ate at the Smokehouse once, for "second dinner" on what I believe was our 2nd night aboard, in the last hour of service for the night, after taking our teen to Bonsai Sushi at 5:30 and getting less than ample quantity for an upcharge. Smokehouse is noisy as you note, and far from what a decent person might call "dining" at all. However, during some kind of break in the evening entertainment, it was a good "last chance" for nighttime vittles before the dreaded Dark Times. I don't think we were in there much longer than 30 minutes start to end and our meal was definitely okay for that purpose. To that point I wonder if the Lido will start to experience a big 9:30 nightly rush as cruisers get the hang of, well, the hangries on this ship and the fact that everyone has that little mini fridge in their rooms.
  8. Interesting question but it could really go either direction. With kids 12 and up now eligible for the vaccine for months, this coupled with the 5% exemption and pent up demand and pandemic weariness, we could have something close to full capacity during the school breaks as more people want to get back to the experiences they enjoyed in the past. Historically, winter holiday break is a very, very high demand time - and in particular the way the dates fall this year, that week between Christmas and New Year's could be massively high demand as it's likely to be the only one that pretty much all kids (Kindergarten up to college) have off in common, a factor when families are trying to coordinate multiple student schedules. On the other hand you still do have the opposite factors in place as well - vaccine hesitancy, fear of travel, irritation with masks or testing or other protocols making the experience "not worth it" for some segment of the usual audience. My crystal ball is telling me that Thanksgiving sailings will be only slightly heavier than the late summer sailings have been, sailings the week before Christmas (i.e. sailing December 18/19ish) will mostly not sell out but will end up being close to capacity due to heavy discounting and that the week between Christmas and New Year's (sailing December 25/26ish) will mostly sell out at the usual inflated prices as in past years but not very far in advance. I think a lot of people are still waiting to see but as the nights get longer and colder and, say, people with only high school and college students, realize they are running out of years to get the family together on these kinds of holiday trips, and meanwhile gradually more and more of them are getting vaxxed anyway due to work or school mandates, the math will start to fall into place. The low demand this fall has provided a useful dress rehearsal period as the various lines and individual ships come back into service and I am sure the goal for them is to be ready for higher demand at the turn of the year and then the hope that the 8ish weeks of spring break (roughly 15 Feb-15 Apr) maintain strong numbers and that next summer is approaching something like the old days with ships typically full at high season pricing.
  9. There are plenty of Grinches here on ol' Cruise Critic's boards year 'round, I'm afraid. And even the best of us have our Grinchy moments, if I'm being honest.
  10. This phenomenon is partly due to the service quality of the bartenders, but I submit it says more about your general awesomeness. In spite of my current phase of my life where I have a good management desk jockey sort of job in the corporate world, I did spend the obligatory years as a server in my younger days at various venues (a country club, a small-town mom and pop basic restaurant, Medieval Times) and it is truly a pleasure to serve kind people. They stand out as memorable as much as the troublemakers. If you are friendly and enjoy what you are being served (and I bet you didn't whine while drinking something with the loathesome anise / licorice flavor - you knocked it right back anyway with a smile and a demeanor of gratitude, didn't you?), you are handing de facto compliments to these folks on a job well done. A bartender's job is to make a drinker happy and obviously your demeanor is reinforcing and encouraging their daily mission. It doesn't matter if you are a heavy drinker or a light one, a frequent visitor or occasional. What stands out is pretty simply, are you a nice guest or a jerk? You mention you are adding grats on top of your package and that added to your attitude makes you a dream customer. And also, workers talk to each other about guests, and human nature is pretty simple everywhere. The whole sugar and vinegar equation, if you will. Karma. You reap what you sow. Well done, Virga. Nice review, nice person.
  11. No robes for us lowly Ruby Plus (okay not a thing - we are just standard red cards but a gal can dream).
  12. Do NOT tempt the fates with this thing. Yes to the soft spuds!
  13. There’s nowhere to pay for it either. That’s my point. All you get after 10 is free pizza. I think you can buy sushi but only until midnight: I’m saying keep a pay option open. I never made it to emerils but was often out after 10 and would have loved to. It’s not very expensive except for market price seafood options.
  14. Don't even get me started. I work in pharma and have to smh at the opiate crisis and especially the miserable Sacklers and their miserable legacy and the damage they have done to humanity, others' faith in humanity, our industry, and just the world in general. Overprescription is not cool either on behalf of the medical community. We can do better, why don't we just simply DO BETTER? And unfortunately there is a little more to the story in my case as opiate issues have been a problem for someone close to me in my life. Oh well, anyway, have a great cruise, looking forward to joining you and Jeff.
  15. As soon as you board and the Hub app gets going (we were delayed on that slightly at embark) you should be able to see all the menus for your cruise. Seems to me the Steakhouse did NOT sell out in advance, though I enjoyed having the free cheapo wine. . . but then again, turned out first night was also free filet night over at the Pig and Anchor Smokehouse which would have been good as well. I think you still get the wine on 2nd night but not sure. If so, and if I had to do it again, we'd do Smokehouse night one and Steakhouse night 2 for wine. Otherwise the only hope is a 6 night cruiser to spill the beans. . . even then, I don't know you could be certain the same menu would be omitted for all 6 nighters. Yes I hesitate to say the menus are identical across the fleet because I do believe there are some minor differences on certain ships. In general, however, once you've seen them on one ship you've got a pretty good idea of what you'll see on another.
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