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Everything posted by Mum2Mercury

  1. Why not go with two connecting balconies instead of the suite? It'd get you two bathrooms and more privacy than the everyone-in-the-suite concpet.
  2. Not the answer you want, but if the tour is full-full-full, I'd walk away and make another choice. I wouldn't want to be part of a tour in which literally every bus seat is full or people are jammed shoulder-to-shoulder on a little boat. Options: - Look for a similar activity through a private vendor. You'll be part of a much smaller group and will have a better experience. - Choose something entirely different. Most islands offer a variety of activities. - Skip the excursion altogether and just enjoy a walk around the port area.
  3. I've never encountered a rude cabin steward, but -- if I'd had this experience -- I'd go to Guest Services, make a complaint about him specifically, and I'd pull his tips. I'd wait in that last-day line to make it happen. I'd write a letter using his name once I was back home. No excuse for that. This used to be my #1 complaint about cruising, but the ships seem to be working to fix the Chair Hog problem. I really appreciate it. So you had some hints about his 'tude before that last day. Not okay. Yes, I'm not willing to "let this one go" either. What you didn't say -- and we can't let slide -- is that they raised the cost of service while reducing the amount of service. I see the problem. You sailed in July. Summer has always been too hot, too crowded and too expensive for my tastes.
  4. Maybe I've missed it, but I've tried -- really tried -- to find lower prices with TAs. Tried over the course of a couple years, tried with multiple agents, and I kept coming up empty. So I quit trying. In addition to sailing in the fall, when prices are low, we tend to sail in inexpensive cabins. I think that too may make a difference in our failure to find travel agent gold. I've found something similar with Disney: People say, "Rent DVC points, and you can save thousands on your room!" Yeah, but only if you were going to rent an expensive room in the first place, and only if you compare to the rack room price. If you were going to stay in a basic room and spend all your time in the parks, you're not going to save by renting points.
  5. I hear what you're saying, but I'd argue: - The TA may or may not look for those lower prices for you (which would mean lower comissions for them). No one's ever going to care about your wallet like you yourself will. - I've searched for those "free stuff" deals, and I've come up empty. - I've been cruising for a while, and I know the product /what I want. If we were talking about a different vacation, I'd agree.
  6. Now that we're retired, we do care about "the deal" more than we did in the past: - We're no longer required to find that week that works with his job, my job and the school schedule -- so moving up or down a week to save money is easy. - We can cruise more often, so we're not so fussy about having "the cabin". We choose to cruise more often instead.
  7. You say "most" connecting rooms are sold out -- are the remaining connecting rooms unacceptable? What about considering a different week, when more connecting rooms might be available? The interior room could literally be on another floor. I would not want my children sleeping in a room more than an interior door away from me.
  8. In addition to pre-paid gratuities, you probably want to bring a handful of small bills, which would be useful for: - Tips for staff who go "above and beyond". - Tips for the porters when you drop off your luggage -- I give $2 for a small bag /$3 for a medium bag. No, you don't have to do this, but my luggage has always beat me to the room. Coincidence? - Tips for room service. - Tips for excursion tour guides. I personally make up an envelope for every island stop. On the outside I write our tour company's name, contact info, meeting place, etc. Inside I place any money we owe for the excursion, tip money, and any extras we anticipate needing -- a taxi ride, a meal, whatever. This means everything in my wallet is "spendable". Drinks: - Know that if you spend nothing, you won't go thirsty. You can always get water, tea, lemonade and sometimes fruit punch without cost. Also hot tea and plain coffee. - You're allowed to bring on 12 non-alcoholic drinks + 1 bottle of wine. If you bring 1-2 canned drinks back from island stops, no one cares. - Note that every drink you purchase includes 18% mandatory tip. If you want to tip "above and beyond", go ahead -- but don't feel obligated. - If you do plan to purchase a drink package, definitely buy ahead of time. One of the few absolutes is that drink packages always cost more once you're on the ship. - Consider making your own drink package. Cocktails run about $14-15, beer $8-9, and soda $3.50. Figure up what you're likely to spend and purchase that amount of On Board Credit for yourself ... voila! Your own "right sized" drink package. Kids in the 3+ age group pay nothing for the Kids' Club. Younger kids just get babysitting, and it's $10/hour. Dining: - Know that if you spend nothing, you won't go hungry. At the minimum, you'll be able to eat in the MDR and the Windjammer Buffet; depending upon your ship, you may have other (no cost) eating options: Park Cafe, Promenade Cafe, El Loco Fresh, Sorrentos, etc. - Study your phone app OR ask for a paper Compass at Guest Services. They'll both spell out what food venues are open when (and which ones are no-cost). The spa is incredibly expensive ... think $100 for a manicure or $250 for a massage. You can see the prices now in your phone app or under "Plan My Cruise" online. You can see ship-offered excursions in those same places. You can find private excursions (smaller groups, superior service, lower prices) online. This board is a good place to start. Other things you might not've considered: - Do you already have whatever citizenship documents you'll need to board? - Do you need to board any pets? That's a pretty big bill for us. - If you're driving, you'll have to pay to park your car. That's a pretty significant cost. - Do you intend to play Bingo or Casino games? - Do you anticipate using the laundry service?
  9. Two thoughts on accomplishing what you need: - If you're failing on the app, move to your computer. Or vice-versa. - Once -- only once -- my check-in didn't open on the assigned day. Not just for me but for everyone. The next day it opened at midnight. That, I believe, was just a glitch, but I don't like anything messing with my check-in!
  10. I read something on the internet just a day or two ago -- and you know they can't put it on the internet if it isn't true! -- about "Sushi grade" fish: I always thought that meant higher-quality fish, but the article said it actually means "previously frozen". The article also emphasized that -- as several people here said -- essentially all fish you buy at the grocery store has been frozen, which means "Sushi grade" actually has no meaning. Advertisers are tricky people! We almost always go with a Guarantee, and we usually end up on Deck 6 -- so that backs up what you're saying: People are paying for those higher-deck cabins and leaving Deck 6 for us. FYI: It's become our favorite deck. Yes, some people complain about the "nickel and diming" onboard, and perhaps those are the people who dislike /are ashamed of saying "NO" when asked to buy something. Personally, I like paying for just what I actually want. Yeah, I move more on vacation, and that makes all the difference. Yeah, I grew up watching Love Boat on the 13" B&W TV, and I saw cruising as a super high-class, expensive vacation that a person could MAYBE do once or twice in a lifetime -- probably never for a poor farm girl like me. Teenaged me never would've believed I'd be able to go a couple times each year.
  11. Three is a good age for a new cruiser. About the Kids' Clubs: - Below three, Royal offers only babysitting for a per-hour fee. - Three and above can go to Ocean Adventure (also called The Kids' Club). They have very good programing. You'll be able to see the times for the various activities on your phone app. Things I remember: science experiments, a trip to mini-golf, a PJ party, movies. They even take the kids to the buffet for dinner, if you take them at the right time. - Kids three + pay NO FEE for the Kids' Club. - Know that you have to go in on Embarkation Day and "register" your daughter. Once that's done, you'll be able to drop her off whenever you please. You don't need to run as soon as you set foot on the ship, but you should do this as quickly as convenient. About milk and other food: - They'll have milk (no cost) in the buffet at breakfast but not at lunch or dinner. In the MDR the waiter might bring her (no cost) milk at lunch or dinner. - I've always seen cartons of milk (and not being a milk-drinker, I don't pay close attention), but some people have been saying lately they've seen self-serve dispensers. If they have cartons, you can bring a few back from the buffet /keep them in your in-room cooler (or you might bring a wide-mouth water bottle so you could self-serve yourself a good portion). You can also pick up fruit or cheese /crackers from the buffet to keep in your room. Or doughnuts and cookies, if you're a nicer mom than I am. - When the buffet (called The Windjammer) is open, you can just walk in and carry out whatever you please. - If you're really concerned, you could bring shelf-stable "juice boxes" of milk with you. - I've seen high chairs in both the MDR and the buffet -- I've not seen booster seats. - You probably enjoy a multi-course meal more than your toddler does. Dinner in the MDR is about 60 - 75 minutes (for dinner ... breakfast or lunch is more like 30 - 40 minutes), which can feel like an eternity to a child. Consider alternating meals between the MDR and the buffet. - You can see menus on your phone app now. - No, I've not seen child-sized utensils. If this is a make-or-break thing for your daughter, I'd suggest buying a pack of Dollar Store (theirs are quite small) plastic spoons and forks. If she still uses bibs, consider a pack of disposables. Also consider a pack of those disposable plastic stick-down table-covers (if you think you'll eat at the poolside tables). - Bring some small quiet toys. We personally don't do electronics at the table. When my girls were small, we used to "practice" ordering cruise food before the trip -- an appetizer, a drink, an entree and a dessert. They thought it was great fun. Other thoughts: - Definitely bring a stroller. I think most people would say, "Bring a small umbrella stroller", and it would be best for around the ship -- but I'm going the other direction: Unless you're in the smallest of small cabins, with a three-year old I'd bring the big stroller. She'll be able to walk around the ship, and you can carry a single child -- but off the ship you'll appreciate having the stroller that'll roll over uneven surfaces more easily. - Know that you won't have access to a washer/dryer. Though I myself pack light, I'd pack plenty of extra clothes for a toddler.
  12. I think I'm being repetitive here, but my thoughts: - We always book directly through the cruise line, as we never seem to find these great deals other people describe through travel agents. I think this may be because we cruise only in the fall, which is already the lowest-priced time of year /less motivation for the travel agents to offer financial incentives. - The big reason we book through the cruise line is that -- as someone said above -- I like to be in control of my reservation. I check my prices a couple times each week -- I actually enjoy seeking the lowest price, but only you know whether you'd enjoy that or see it as a chore -- and I don't mind calling in to ask for a "price match". My husband and I see even a $10 drop as "a win", and we do a little dance. - Some people say they hate calling the cruise line /hate waiting on hold. If you call early or late (they're open something like 7:00 am - 11:00 pm) you'll get through to a human being quickly. - Since you're looking at a 2025 date, your cruise will absolutely go up/down in price. I'd say go ahead and book, and you should assume that the price you pay is the highest you could pay in the end. Hope for a price drop. - I'm thinking you're new to cruising? Know this: Once you're onboard, you can schedule your next cruise -- they have a whole office dedicated to that topic -- or you can make a downpayment on an unspecified week. If you do this, the cruise line gives you a bit of OBC (On Board Credit), which pretty much equals what your travel agent's offering. Personally, I like to get the next-cruise certificate, so I'm ready to reserve if a low-price pops up online.
  13. That's both good and bad. Some of us -- especially those of us who've already "mastered" cruise basics -- want to optimize our boarding, our excursions, etc. But some people see that as "too much" and just want to go with the flow. I can't say people in the second category are wrong. Yes, as I "think back", I have trouble remembering HOW I learned the things I learned. Certainly some of it was personal experience on the ships, but I know I read as much as possible before that first cruise. I think the title of this thread -- terrified, panic-stricken -- may be too strong, but I do see that someone just coming into "this world" has a learning curve ahead of him/her.
  14. I agree. We've been cruising since 2003 (with a 7-8 year break while we were paying college tuition, then dealing with Covid), and I'm not sure it was any "easier" back then -- but we had "less" to dig through. I'm trying to remember, How did I learn "what to do" before that first cruise? I know I read everything in the cruise documents. I talked to people I knew. Maybe I read some things online, but I'm sure we didn't have multiple cruise message boards and multiple cruise blogs -- to say nothing of You Tube videos and Pinterest. I think back then I read more actual, official materials from the cruise line /less opinion from experienced cruisers. Was that better or worse? We had less to know then: - We didn't yet need time slots for check in. - We didn't yet need reservations for shows. - Traditional dining in the MDR was the only game in town, and we only chose Early or Late -- no varying appointments. - I know we went to a specialty restaurant on that first cruise (they were called adults-only restaurants back then), and I know I couldn't make the reservation until we were on the ship. - On my first cruise I wasn't aware that independent excursions were "a thing". I don't remember how I knew about ship-based excursions, but I did sign us up for one on our first-ever cruise. This "vacation complication" isn't just a cruise thing. Disney is also more complex than it was decades ago -- tickets come with dates, you need (or needed?) appointments for the various parks, and they offer multiple (very expensive) "special experiences" within the parks. Flying is also much more complicated than it was decades ago.
  15. Nah, several problems with this thought: - As you say, tap water varies in quality from area to area, making a comparison difficult. - The ship's water is purified, not really "tap water" that comes from the ground like it does at home. It'd be more accurate to say what comes out of the tap onboard is like the big vat of water a company uses to fill commercial water bottles. - A better comparison would be bottled water vs. ship's water.
  16. Yes, you can order multiples. I've ordered multiple appetizers just a couple months ago. Whether they'll arrive all at once or individually seems to be random -- but asking politely for your preference never hurts.
  17. Ice water is always available in the buffet. Just pick up a glass. Water onboard is purified and tastes good. Just bring a refillable bottle (preferably with a wide-mouth lid, as it's easier to fill) and forget about hauling heavy bottles with you. Depending upon which cruise line you're using, you may or may not be able to bring water bottles with you.
  18. Several options ... they aren't gift cards, but neither do they require smart phones. - Ask her booking number, call the Royal info number and book a Refreshment Package for her. This'll give her unlimited non-alcoholic beverages for the whole cruise. - Consider how many drinks she's likely to drink -- it's safe to assume $7-8 for non-alcoholic mocktails. Call the Royal info number and purchase her X amount in On Board Credit. - Give her X amount in cash and tell her to hand it over to the people at Guest Services. It'll be credited towards her final expenses. (Didn't mean that to sound like it's for her funeral.)
  19. Oh, yes, we experienced this in Cozumel last fall. We left the ship in lovely weather, but we returned to the ship soaked to the bone, and -- after changing clothes -- we went to Windjammer for a snack and took the most magnificent pictures of the storm clouds off in the horizon. Well, that's kinda true of any beach. Agree!
  20. I'm with you. First because the cabanas are just so expensive, and I don't see a lot of value in them. Second because you can't know what the weather'll be like.
  21. As much as I like Coco Cay, if it were chilly and rainy, I'd stay on the ship.
  22. They must have a very small quantity of rooms left. Have you considered other room types? I've personally never seen the appeal of OceanVIew -- it lacks the low price of Inside, and it lacks the obvious positives of a balcony. I see OceanView as the red-headed stepchild of the cruising family. For that price, I'd expect something nicer than an OceanView. Yeah, we went on a holiday once (happened to be Thanksgiving), and we're done with that. The price was high, and the ship was crowded. They're trying to squeeze out a few more dollars with Royal Up. Its to their financial advantage to wait until the last couple weeks.
  23. Two thoughts: - Don't forget to add 18% mandatory tip to the cost of the drink package. - Know that when you order the drink package, you'll need to pay for it (in full) THAT DAY. That is, it isn't added to the cost of your cruise to be paid off a month or two ahead of time.
  24. I've made dining reservations more than a year in advance. Shows and entertainment don't appear as early. Are show reservations NEEDED? Maybe, maybe not. We only cruise in the fall, when crowds are smaller, and we've never been unable to get a seat. Might not be the same in June. Reservations are more important for smaller shows (comedy show, for example) and on larger ships.
  25. Note that Royal Caribbean is the company. Crown & Anchor is one office within the company. Whoever Molly is, she has a boss at Royal Caribbean. You have my sympathy because we are never going to Nassau again. Never. But you don't have a valid complaint; as other people have stated, the company is within its rights to opt for another island, if they believe it's safer for whatever reason.
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