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About janineallison

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Royal Caribbean, MSC
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  1. According to the FAQ, no. Q. Does the upgrade include any additional promotions? A. The upgrade does not include any additional promotions. However, you get to keep whichever promotions you already have. Q. What happens with the promotions I already have? A. You get to keep the promotions you already have. However, no additional promotions will be added to your reservation.
  2. Hey there! Just wondering if anyone here has successfully won a move up bid from an inside to a balcony and if so, what the minimum bid was and what you bid? We paid approx. $2200 CAD for our inside room on a Celebrity Equinox 7 day Caribbean cruise when we booked, with two perks ($300 OBC and drink package). We were selected for the Move Up process with our minimum bids being $65pp for an OV and $200pp for a balcony. I'm not sure of the number of OV rooms available because I'm not even sure I want one of those BUT there are over 100 balcony rooms available according to the Celebrity website. To book those now, the price would be $3600 CAD with three perks instead of two, therefore, bidding would be a better deal than simply calling and asking for an upgrade. We booked this cruise as a second cruise on our honeymoon (our second cruise, on Harmony of the Seas, was our original honeymoon cruise) and didn't want to spend a lot of money (considering it is a second cruise, hah!), hence why we booked an inside. Though at the time, balcony rooms were significantly more expensive. Now insides are more expensive than OV rooms and only slightly cheaper than a balcony. We have only ever sailed in balcony rooms but I am okay with an inside as I would rather take the $400+ and spend it on food, excursions, shopping, etc. However, my husband is of the mind set that he would rather spend the $400+ to have a balcony room. Because there are still over 100 rooms available, I'm wondering if the minimum bid will be likely to decrease or not. Obviously there is no way of knowing this, but I have been checking every day. It did go down to $195pp one day but has since gone back to $200. I don't really have any desire to go in an OV due to their location (lower levels) but as someone who has travelled in insides and OV rooms, do you think it's worth it to try and upgrade to that as well?
  3. Day 4: Grand Cayman Early Rise We were up at 7am on our fourth morning as we planned to go ashore in Grand Cayman and wanted an early tender. For those who haven’t traveled to Grand Cayman via cruise, there is no pier to accommodate the ships. Therefore, the cruise ships anchor offshore and you are transported in via a tender boat. This was our second time in Grand Cayman and I was insistent on hitting up Seven Mile Beach this trip. On our last trip, we simply explored Georgetown and had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. Georgetown is a nice port because it’s quite industrialized but also safe for walking around. We grabbed a quick breakfast in the buffet then headed near the sports bar to get our tender ticket. Anyone with an excursion booked through MSC will have a separate tender process (usually meeting at a set time) and Yacht Club members receive priority tendering. We were in group #13 and I think they were calling group #9-10 when we got in line. We didn’t have to wait very long and the entire process was relatively quick and easy. Initially, we were worried as we had heard nightmare stories of long wait times before we left, but we had no issues. Off To Seven Mile Beach After we arrived on land, we had no trouble finding someone advertising rides to Seven Mile Beach. We met another couple from South Carolina who were also planning to head in that direction and took a cab together. I believe the cab ride cost $4 per person and took about 5 minutes. Prior to our trip, I had researched many of the beach clubs on Seven Mile Beach. We decided to go to Royal Palms based on the reviews. The other couple was planning to go to the Ritz but opted to head to the Royal Palms with us. Royal Palms Beach Club We were some of the first people to arrive at the beach club and it was relatively deserted. There wasn’t a lot of shade so we grabbed two loungers that provided some shade. It cost $2 per person to enter the Royal Palms Beach Club, but the loungers cost $12 each. There is also an additional fee of $15 for an umbrella. View from our loungers We both ordered a drink, which cost extra of course. Jordan had a Beergarita ($14) and I had a Frosé ($10). The menu items looked delicious but we opted to save our money and skip lunch. Royal Palms Beach Club Menu My fancy frozen drink! The whole beach club was very clean, including the bathrooms. There is a small pool area and a gorgeous beach. The beach area isn’t huge but you can walk up and down in either direction. The water was really clear and warm so we spent a lot of time swimming there. We also went for a dip in the pool. Most people were at the beach and we had the pool to ourselves for the most part. It started to get really busy there around lunchtime and I was happy we arrived early. Living my best life! I will do a separate blog post specifically about the Royal Palms Beach Club in the future. Back On Board Around 2pm we decided to head back to the ship. We boarded a public bus this time – there are tons waiting outside the beach club. I think the cost was $2-3 per person. It was really warm and definitely not as nice as the cab ride. Once we got back on the ship, we had a late lunch at the buffet then showered and watched the sailaway from our balcony. We decided to have a drink at the Seaside Bar before heading to supper. I tried a Bloody Mary which I’ve never been a fan of in the past but it was quite good at this bar. Italian Night Menu Supper that night was Italian night and they had the dining room decorated in red, green and white. For supper Jordan had the Fried Calamari as a starter, while I chose the Eggplant Parmesan. Jordan had the Chicken Marsala for his main and I had the Risotto Mare e Monti. For dessert, Jordan had the Lemon Delight and I chose the Tiramisu. Jordan enjoyed his starter and main but wasn’t a big fan of the lemon dessert. I don’t think I totally finished anything on my plate that night. It wasn’t bad but not the best either! Fried Calamari Eggplant Parmesan Chicken Marsala Risotto Mare e Monti Lemon Delight Tiramisu White Party After supper, we went to Venchi then to the Shine Bar. On this night, they also had the White Party so most everyone was dressed in white. We watched the entertainment team perform in the lobby, then went up on deck to check out the real party. It seemed like a lot of fun but neither of us were in a partying mood. The crew members definitely tried to get everyone involved, though I thought they were a bit pushy at times. I feel like we would have been more inclined to dance and party if we had another couple with us! We got in bed that night and turned on the TV but alas, there was nothing on to watch. This was one minor issue we had with the Seaside. Granted, we don’t normally spend a lot of time watching TV on a cruise but the channel selections were very limited. There was maybe 6 english channels, one of which was sports and another which was kids.
  4. We’ve sailed on RC and NCL in the past and we had a comparable experience. The only downside of being Bella (for us) was the limited dining times. We had to decide between early which was 5:15/5:30pm or late, which I think was around 8pm. We opted for early but it wasn’t ideal, as we prefer to dine around 6:30pm when cruising. Otherwise, we had no complaints about the Bella experience!
  5. We visited the brewery during our last trip to Nassau. Not sure if you are into craft beer/breweries, but my boyfriend wants to head back there again on our next trip.
  6. Day 3: Ochos Rios, Jamaica Jamaica has some of the bluest water I've ever seen! Breakfast in the MDR We didn't book this cruise based on the itinerary. In fact, all of the cruises we've done so far have had a western itinerary. I have to book my holidays so far in advance and the week that I had chosen was, once again, a western itinerary sailing. Because of this, we really didn't care too much about rushing off the ship to explore the ports and decided to enjoy a leisurely breakfast in the main dining room. While waiting in line, we were asked if we would mind sharing a table with another group. While we were tempted to say yes, as we prefer to eat alone, we didn't want to sound rude. We ended up sharing a table with another couple from Florida. They were cruise agents checking out MSC for the first time. Apparently they had been told that this sailing was 65% North American, however, they were skeptical to believe it. For breakfast, I had a yummy smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. I had to assemble it myself, which worked for me as I don't like a lot of smoked salmon on my bagel. My only complaint was the lack of capers! Jordan had a waffle with strawberry syrup. It was nothing great and apparently "super sweet". Service that morning was decent, not the best but not bad! Margaritaville Ochos Rios Loved the South Beach pool, especially on port days! After breakfast we decided to lounge by the adults-only pool on deck 7. As it was our first port day, the ship was practically deserted and we had no difficulty finding loungers poolside. It was scorching hot that day and we also had no trouble finding loungers in the shade. The pool was cool and refreshing. While I didn't go for a swim, I appreciated that one could swim in the pool due to the 6ft depth. Unlike other cruises where people just stand in the pool and drink all day, this one was actually functional. Finally we decided to head ashore for some wifi and a snack. We hadn't intended to go to Margaritaville after a bad experience at the Falmouth location, but ended up wandering there anyway. The wifi was good, the drinks were cold (and yummy!) and we split a calamari for lunch. Now this was a yummy drink! The Ochos Rios Margaritaville has a small pool with a slide as well as a beach area. I would have liked to stayed and gone for a swim but we wasted a lot of time eating/browsing our phones so we decided to head back to the ship. View of the MSC Seaside from Margaritaville A fellow Canadian actually spotted my "Eh Team" shirt & asked where we are from! Back on Board Our view from the lunch buffet Once we got aboard, we were still a little hungry so we went to the buffet for hot dogs and salad. After lunch, we headed to Deck 16 and enjoyed a hot tub to ourselves, then found a lounger and read for a while. We then headed to Venchi for gelato before getting ready for supper that night. Buffet lunch What a view from the hot tub! Not Our Favourite Supper For supper, I had the Portobello au Gratin to start and Jordan had the Turkey Waldorf Salad. We both decided to order the Penne Pasta with Vodka for our main, despite the fact that neither of us are pasta lovers. It was okay, but we are definitely the worst people ever to review pasta. For dessert, I chose the Brownie Stack while Jordan had the Wild Berry Cobbler. Overall, this was one of my least favourite meals on the trip. The service that night was also poor, with a long wait for water and for our plates to be cleared. Portobello Au Gratin Turkey Waldorf Salad Penne Pasta with Vodka (we forgot to take a picture before we started eating, oops!) Chocolate Brownie Stack Wild Berry Cobbler After supper, I didn't feel too well. We headed back to the cabin where I curled up on the bed, took some pills, and had a little nap. The Wizard The perks of having an early supper is that you can have a nap afterwards & still have time to enjoy the evening! After I woke up, I was feeling much better so we headed down to the atrium for a drink. If I recall, I was drinking ginger ale that night! I wasn't seasick but obviously something that I ate that day didn't agree with me. We loved listening to the DJ in the atrium every night One thing I loved about the MSC Seaside was the chips! I'm a salty snacker but not a fan of nuts so I was all too happy to receive a little bowl of potato chips to munch on at night. The salt also seemed to help my stomach. We decided to check out the theatre show that night, titled The Wizard. I had read a lot about the shows on the MSC Seaside but I still wasn't entirely sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised. The show didn't really follow a storyline, it felt more like a variety show. However, the performers were very talented and it was fun to watch. It featured dancing, singing, aerobics, magic tricks and more. The Wizard After the show, we decided to grab a slice of pizza and relax on our balcony. That night, "The Proposal" was playing on TV so we watched a few minutes of that before falling asleep. Day 3 done and we are nearly halfway through our cruise!
  7. We originally booked with the free Drinks on Us package but then upgraded to the Classic drink package, so it was covered.
  8. Thanks for the review and condolences to you and your family. I chuckled as you are doing Harmony -> Equinox -> Seaside and we did the exact opposite (Equinox and Harmony will be B2B this November).
  9. Day 2.. Sea Day No Rockin’ or Rollin’ This was our first cruise where we haven’t traveled with another couple, therefore, our timeline was totally up to ourselves. First rule of order.. sleeping in! Normally our cruise buddies like to be up and in the dining room for 7am but let’s be real here, we are millennials and we like our sleep. One thing we noticed right away about this ship was the lack of motion. While we did have relatively calm seas, we still noticed less movement than on previous cruises with similar seas. Even while lying in bed or in the shower, two times that we normally feel the ship rocking, we didn’t feel a thing. Honestly, I was a little disappointed as the gentle rock helps me sleep! I may as well have been in a hotel. But if you’re someone who gets seasick easily, I’d recommend giving this ship a try. Day At Sea We headed to the buffet for breakfast, something that we’ve never done before on a cruise. I had heard great things about the breakfast pizza so of course I had to try it! I chose a piece with the least amount of egg (not a fan) and it definitely lived up to its expectation. Buffet breakfast with the must-try breakfast pizza On a sea day, the areas near the pools are more crowded than usual. It was definitely possible to get loungers relatively close to the pool area, however, they were in the direct sunlight. Both of us burn quite easily in the sun so we went off in search of some shaded loungers. We found a lovely quiet spot on deck 8. For those who like the quiet, take a right when you leave the sports bar and walk until you cannot go any further (spa area). It was close enough that we could walk to the sports bar for drinks, but isolated enough to nap and read. The bar service at the Sports Bar was slow, but it was quite busy in there at the time. The sports bar was great for anyone who actually likes sports. Lots of TVs and seating, including semi-private booths. I noticed that the sports bar also had wings on the menu, but for a cost (I believe it was around $5-6). I was expecting the “Purple Rain” drink to be purple! The Seashore restaurant was open for lunch from 12-1:30pm that day, however, we opted for the buffet again. You’ll quickly see a trend here – buffet for breakfast and lunch, MDR for supper. I am still shocked by this as Jordan is not normally a fan of buffets and avoids them on cruises. We also headed back to Venchi (another trend) where I tried the marocchino. Of all the drinks at Venchi, this one was my favourite. It is described as “espresso with cream between two layers of Venchi cocoa”. It was the perfect mixture of strong and sweet and the chocolate reminded me of Nutella. Before going back to our room, I picked up a “Frozen Toblerone” from the Seaside Bar. I had heard good things (I mean, the name itself makes it sound amazing!) but I’m not a fan of milk or milky alcohol products. I was pleasantly surprised and in fact, this was one of my favourite drinks on the ship! It wasn’t at all sickly sweet, nor was the alcohol too strong. A Surprise Gift Our travel agent, Leslie Ann, surprised us with chocolate covered strawberries, which were hand-delivered to our room. I don’t know if they were covered in Venchi chocolate (I mean, I’m assuming they are!), but they were so good. The strawberries themselves were also really fresh and juicy! They made the perfect afternoon treat! Chocolate covered strawberries from our awesome travel agent! Yummy! Elegant Night This was the elegant night at sea so we dressed up for supper in the dining room. As it was the elegant night, the regular items that appear on the menu every night (steak, chicken, etc) were not available. This was a downer as it meant we had less options to choose from. Luckily you could review the menu on the app beforehand, because I feel like some people would feel limited by the menu on elegant night. Elegant night menu I ordered the ceviche for my starter, which I thought was tasty albeit a bit too spicy for my liking. Jordan had the asparagus soup, which he said was “tasty”. We both had the beef tournedos for our main with potato, broccoli and tomato on the side. I had the chocolate lava cake for dessert (my favourite dessert on cruises but wasn’t as good as RC or NCL) and Jordan had the key lime pie, which I recall had an odd texture and he wasn’t a big fan. No pictures as neither of us remembered to take a phone with us! Gatsby Party After supper, we listened to music in the atrium for a while and watched the officer’s dance. The atrium was definitely our favourite place to hang out after supper. This night also happened to be Gatsby night. We headed to The Haven where we watched The Love Game (three couples participate for a prize). After that, it was transformed into a roaring 20’s Gatsby party. The music sounded fun but not our vibe, so we headed back to our cabin. When we got back to our cabin, we found an envelope containing photos that we had taken before supper. The envelope stated that if you wanted to keep the photos, a charge would be applied to your room (I believe it was around $25USD). If you didn’t want to keep the photos, you had to leave them out for your stateroom attendant to take on Day 3 (Grand Cayman). I didn’t like this tactic and I’m certain people who didn’t read the instructions were upset when they were charged for photos they may not have wanted. Overall, we had a great first day at sea. Keep watching for our day #3, which features our first port of call!
  10. While I've been posting these daily cruise diaries over on our blog, I figured I would post them here as well as it would allow better interaction. For reference, we are relatively new to cruising, we are in our late 20's/early 30's, we've previously cruised on Royal Caribbean (Independence of the Seas) and Norwegian (Escape). We loved Royal Caribbean and our experience on Norwegian was okay. We would do Norweigan again but it wouldn't be our first choice! My fiance really wanted to go on the Seaside and we hit an awesome deal last year that we couldn't pass up! One of my best friends had sailed on the Seaside last January and had a terrible time but I was hoping we would have better luck! Keep reading to find out.. 😀 ---------------------------------------------------- Getting to Port Miami from Fort Lauderdale After a solid 6 hours of sleep, we woke up ready to plant our feet on that cruise ship! While the hotel offered a paid breakfast buffet, my cheap self opted to eat a protein bar that I had packed in my carry on. Jordan wasn’t feeling the greatest so he skipped breakfast altogether. Before checking out, we decided to head outside and take a look at the pool area. It was much smaller than I had envisioned but lovely nonetheless! I dipped my feet into the pool while Jordan called home to check on our fur-baby. Quick poolside visit before the cruise We decided to try Uber for the first time to take us from Fort Lauderdale to the cruise port in Miami. It was super easy to use and only cost $33 US which is quite affordable, given the distance. We felt completely safe and we were able to tip and rate our driver through the app after he dropped us off. Embarkation We arrived at the Port of Miami around 11am and there was a decent line forming at security. Thankfully it was quite fast-moving despite the constant alarms and yelling from security personnel. Once we passed through security, we were able to immediately check in with MSC and head straight for the ship! On our other cruise experiences, we’ve been given a group number and have had to wait until our number was called. On MSC, we were able to walk right on. It was the smoothest and easiest embarkation process and we are onboard by 11:30am. Gotta love this view! Lunch With a View Walking into the main atrium on the ship was immediately mesmerizing. People were buzzing about everywhere and we needed to step away from the atrium and get our bearings. We decided to head to the buffet on deck 8 for lunch, then explore the ship. Normally we never eat at the buffet on cruise ships but as it was embarkation day, the buffet was the only option open for lunch. We picked up pizza (the first of many slices), ceasar salad, and I also had chips and guacamole, pasta, and one lone Brussel sprout. It took us a couple minutes to figure out the self-serve drink station (you need to swipe your card, then use the dispenser within the allotted time period) but it was smooth sailing after that (pun intended!). Immediately, we were impressed with the food! We had a lovely meal with the skyline of Miami in the background. Our beautiful lunch view on the MSC Seaside Lunch at the Marketplace Buffet Our Room on the MSC Seaside After lunch, we explored the ship to pass time until our room was ready. We took a tour of the spa, which we highly recommend doing! It’s a great way to see in person what the spa has to offer. After the tour, we decided that we wanted to go there for a day! Around 2pm, they made the announcement that rooms were ready and we headed to ours on the 10th floor. The room was comparable to other balcony rooms that we’ve had, though storage was limited. We will write a separate post on our room with more detail, including how we utilized our space! Early Dining Around 4pm, our suitcases arrived outside our door. We unpacked and proceeded to get ready for supper. As “Bella” guests, we had to choose between early dining (5:30pm-7:30pm) or late dining (7:30pm-9:30pm). We chose early and were given a dining time of 5:30pm. In hindsight, I wish we had chosen the later option, however, I didn’t want to be stuck dining at 9:30pm either. I think 7pm is the ideal dining time on cruises and we always felt a bit rushed with the 5:30pm time. We were assigned to the Seashore dining room on the 5th deck. There are two dining rooms – Seashore on the 5th and Ipanema on deck 6. While they were using the buffet for Bella guests earlier this year, they no longer do that and instead, offer three seatings for each meal now (5:15/5:30, 7:15/7:30, and 9:15/9:30). Seashore Dining Room The dining room was tasteful with a grey and burgundy color scheme. We were pleased to discover that we had been assigned a table to ourselves, however, there was approximately 2 inches between our table and the tables on either side of ours. That being said, you could easily talk amongst yourselves without overhearing your companions due to general chatter in the dining room. We had heard others complain of the noise level in the dining room due to the low ceilings, but we did not notice it to be any louder than normal. We had a lovely German couple sitting on one side of us whom we became acquainted with over the 7 day cruise. The table on the other side of us was empty every night. We were also introduced to our wait staff that night. Agus was our main server and Delilah took our drink orders. While I cannot remember the names of the head waiter and the assistant server, they were lovely as well. We both ordered the spring rolls with dipping sauce to start, followed by the NY strip steak. The spring rolls were tasty and the steak was delicious! Lots of flavour and good quality, tender meat. Our steaks were also cooked as ordered. Jordan ordered the apple crumble for dessert, which he thought was okay, and I ordered the passion fruit cheesecake which was delicious. Spring rolls NY Strip Steak Apple crumble Passion fruit cheesecake Sailaway The MSC Seaside is different from most cruises in that it doesn’t leave port until 7pm. This allows plenty of time for its European passengers to fly in that morning (which we don’t recommend!). As such, we ended up watching the ship sailaway from our balcony after supper as opposed to joining the party up on deck. Sailing out of Port Miami. Sunset over Miami during sailaway. Registering Credit Card Generally when you check in with a cruise line during embarkation, you provide your credit card information. With MSC, you have to register your credit card after you board the ship. They give you 48 hours to do so and have a few self-serve machines on the 5th and 6th decks. It was an easy process and took us only a couple of minutes to complete. We each registered a credit card to our own name, as opposed to just one for the room. Venchi and Movie at Sea After supper we headed to the chocolate bar, Venchi, for hot chocolate. Their hot chocolate is delicious but very rich! Jordan wasn’t a huge fan of his as it did have a dark chocolate undertone. Venchi Hot Chocolate We then headed up to the Miami Pool on the 16th floor for an outdoor movie showing. That night they were playing Beauty and the Beast so we settled in on lounge chairs and watched it. The only thing missing was popcorn! That concludes our first day on the Seaside! Feel free to ask questions & I'll try to answer as well as my memory will allow. Hope you enjoyed this post!
  11. We had a Bella experience and in our case that did not have a negative effect.
  12. There was a shampoo and body wash, no conditioner, I believe. There was definitely only two.
  13. Glad to hear this! Harmony of the Seas is our next cruise and my fiancé was actually worried he would be let down after the Seaside.
  14. If we had listened to all the reviews about the Seaside, we never would have gone. Instead, we booked it and decided to form our own opinions. Guess what? We loved it! Honestly, it was right up there with our Royal Caribbean cruise and we would book another MSC cruise in a heartbeat. It helped that we knew about some things beforehand (thanks to reading reviews!) but we went in there with an open mind and had a great experience. Though I don't know that there's any such thing as a bad cruise (in my opinion).
  15. Very few! A couple news channels, movie channels, kids channels and a few in non-english languages.
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