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About ValleyCruiser

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Mission Hills, CA
  • Interests
    Travel,Computers,Sporting Events
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL; Royal Caribbean
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  1. Yes, I am just off this sailing as well, and a number of activities were closed. However, on the first visit to Coco Cay, the MDR was open for lunch, but closed on the port day in Nassau and the second visit to Coco Cay. There was one specialty restaurant open each day for lunch the entire cruise: Chops Grille on embarkation day for those that had The Key as well as other guests, Jamie's Italian on the first stop at Coco Cay, Chops again in Nassau, and Izumi the second day at Coco Cay.
  2. I am the one currently writing the live Mariner review right now that was referenced by the OP, and we were notified of the change to 2 days at Coco Cay after final payment was made, about 5 to 6 weeks prior to our sailing, and I was not allowed to change to anything else. They stated it was a cruise "enhancement" and I was out of luck. We could have canceled the cruise and re-booked something else, but I had already made travel arrangements for the rest of our trip so stayed with this itinerary. We just got off the ship this morning, and the sailing was definitely fun; however, I did miss the sea day. I let Royal know that I would have preferred they made the change for those who hadn't already passed the final payment deadline, that way folks could have switched to other itineraries if preferred without such drastic consequences.
  3. On Wednesday, Day 3 of our cruise, we were due to dock in Nassau, Bahamas around 8:00 a.m., and get clearance to go ashore at 8:30. As usual, with our pre-teens dragging their feet, we were running behind. I wanted to go ashore as early as possible so our self-guided walk from the pier to the Queen's Staircase, which I had visited before, wouldn't be during the hottest portion of the day. I also intended to do a little shopping to help the local economy since the Bahamas were hit really hard when Dorian passed through a few weeks ago. Being that we were running behind, our decision the previous day to get breakfast in the MDR on Deck 3 seemed like a sound one. We got to the MDR about 10 minutes before they closed the doors at 9:30 a.m. They had a sign upon entering that pointed patrons to either the "A La Carte" section or the "Buffet" section. We chose the "A La Carte" section, understanding that while we could order certain foods hot, the majority of the items available would be on the buffet which had been set up in the middle of the room. We were seated quickly, a waiter brought us our choice of juice, among the choices apple or orange, already poured in these tiny glasses, and another waiter took our order of eggs made to order, either Eggs Benedict or Omelets. Everything else was at the buffet: assorted pastries, toast, parfaits, fruit, assorted yogurts, cereals, including granola, pancakes or French toast with syrup, along with fruit and whipped cream topping at another station, as well as other hot items served buffet-style like bacon, sausage, corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, pre-made cheese omelets, and hash browns. In perusing the menu it appeared that if we had gotten there earlier there additional items we could have had made to order, including pancakes and French toast. Either way, we got our orders in and I again ordered Eggs Benedict. Overall, the buffet items were decent, but I prefer my breakfasts customized, the way I like them, and the Eggs Benedict in the MDR seemed a bit too bland for my tastes, and like they weren't made with precision and possible as part of a batch along with other diners. I don't know this to be true, I'm just stating how I felt about them. I then decided I would probably give Chops Grille another chance for breakfast and chalked DW's experience the previous day to a one-time issue. I did like the selection in the MDR, though, and here is a menu of what was available.
  4. Here is a pic of the little dog our suite attendant set out for us upon returning to our suite at the end of Day 2. The children have always enjoyed the towel animals we've had left in our staterooms whenever we've cruised, and this cruise was no different. They were always excited to see what was created.
  5. Yep, I was notified earlier in the thread. CC always comes through! We should've asked ahead of time.
  6. As previously mentioned, the extra time taken to get DD's hair ready for "Wear Your Best" night--which replaces formal night supposedly, but there were still a majority of cruisers in very nice attire in the MDR, including us--caused us to be late for picture-taking and just rush to the MDR by our seating time. I miss the old days of cruising when lobster often would be included at no upcharge, at least on some lines we've sailed, but the menu still had some really good options so I was definitely looking forward to the meal! The Asian Style Pork Tacos were outstanding both DW and I agreed, and I had just that appetizer as I decided I would create my own "Surf and Turf" dining experience. I ordered the full Garlic Tiger Shrimp meal but enhanced it with the New York Stip Steak with only the steak and vegetables. Both were outstanding; the shrimp was full of great flavor and the steak was juicy and melt-in-your-mouth good with the accompanying sauce. Mmmmm! I was getting close to full by this time but went ahead and ordered the Mini Donuts for dessert, along with the Apple Pie a la Mode I had promised myself the day before. I really shouldn't have ordered the donuts; the menu stated they'd be "mini beignets", which sold me as I love a good beignet, but they were more like your average bar donut from the grocery store bakery, not even as good as your average donut shop. To complicate matters, I don't know how the wait staff were aware, but they brought out a cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to me without me or anyone in my family telling them my birthday was approaching. I guess they have a list or something somewhere. Anyway, after my complete and utter embarrassment at being the center of attention for even 1 minute, I got over it and consumed the pie and took the cake to go. It was chocolate and I figured it would be delicious as a late night snack! Jing was outstanding during this meal, even going so far as to remove the shell from the shrimp for DS and DD, and even assisted me when she saw I was not doing a great job, either.
  7. For breakfast our first full day aboard we went to Chops Grille for breakfast. The thing I liked best about the experience was that I felt the service was a bit faster than in the MDR. However, DW felt that her Eggs Benedict was a little too crisp ("like it was done in a steakhouse," said she) and DS didn't like the syrup they used for his pancakes; I don't know where he got to be such a food critic suddenly! Anyway, we made the decision that we'd try the MDR for breakfast the next day. For lunch, DS and I went back to the Suite Lounge, which by the way was a great venue to catch up on email and sit in a quiet place. DS liked the snacks and things there, and always came with me went I decided to go there. Later in the day, I had a Coney Dog (#1) from the Boardwalk Dog House with grilled onions, mayo, mustard, and relish, along with a side of potato salad. That worked for me as hungry as I was. This food venue was aft of the main pools on the port side of the ship.
  8. Yes, we did try the MDR for breakfast yesterday, so I will get to that in a bit.
  9. Thanks for the kind words! You should definitely love this ship, she's still quite beautiful. Yes, and really it works quite well, especially if you have the Royal app, since the SetSail passes are on them. I had everyone who is mobile in my family (all of us except DS) on the app and their SetSail passes loaded, although we really didn't need them. I also had the paper copies in the bag I carried on with me. I hate to say it, but I can conceive a day in the somewhat near future where they may not even produce SeaPass cards for everyone. I mean aren't they already experimenting with the Room Unlock feature on a couple of the newer ships or something like that? It could eventually be similar to the airlines where a great number of passengers, possibly even the majority, just use their mobile devices to show the barcode and scan. The technology is definitely available to do that to get on and off the ship already.
  10. Thanks, both of you! That is great info regarding the hair dryer. DW was under the impression she couldn't bring it and I didn't check. As to the luggage tags, I now know better. The Amazon tags sound like a good solution so will have to look into that.
  11. The next day was our first stop at Perfect Day at Coco Cay, and according to our Concierge, Sukriti, this was the first sailing for the ship stopping at the private island twice in one sailing. We had originally planned this as our sea day before Royal made the itinerary change, so we opted to stay on board and relax, first in the Suite Lounge, and then in the ship arcade and at the waterslides. DD had a bit of time in the ship's main pools open to everyone, but didn't like it as she prefers freshwater pools to saltwater. We discovered a bit of an issue later that day in our stateroom. DD has very long African-American hair, which she inherited from her mother, but also very thick, curly, and easily tangled African-American hair, which she inherited from me. The result is long, beautiful, think African-American hair that is NOT strait and is a handful to tame! Unfortunately, the weak hair dryer in the suite was unable to do much for DD's hair, and DW took over 2 hours trying to get it back to a manageable state, and spent the next few hours lamenting that we weren't able to bring our own, much more powerful, hair dryer onboard! Royal, y'all need to change this policy or at least make an exception for those of us who need it! LOL! Anyway, we didn't go to the private island, but had a nice relaxing day aboard. I did get a shot of the island from the ship, though.
  12. We did have a bit of an issue with our luggage that first day, as when we got to our room after the suite lunch four of our five bags were already there, and we figured the last one, my carry-on, would be arriving within the normal time frame. However, it was not there by the time we were leaving for the ice show, and our suite attendant thought he had found it, but it was actually a bag designated for the suite opposite ours on the port side of the ship. The bag was still not there when we got back from the Welcome Aboard show, and I was beginning to wonder if it had been lost, or worse, had never made it out of our driver's vehicle when unloading at the terminal. I went to Guest Services on deck 5 to see if they had any idea of where it might be, and after describing the bag it turned out they had it right there waiting to be claimed. Turns out the luggage tag had fallen off. Moral of the story for me was that when I print the luggage tags in the future, I will not only fold and staple them and put take on the ends, but will fully wrap the entire thing in shipping tape to semi-laminate the tags, so the paper will have a much harder time tearing off. Still, I was happy to have my luggage. Crisis averted!
  13. We went to the Welcome Aboard show in the Royal Theater after dinner, again sitting in the section reserved for suite and loyalty guests, and that was the first time we saw our cruise director, Dan. He had a few corny jokes interspersed with a few announcements, then gave way to the comedian for the evening. The comedian was a giant African-American man, his name escapes me, and his routine was funny enough, much of which I could relate to, but he had DW in stitches. She laughed nearly the whole show, although I don't think everyone was getting his humor. Anyway, after the show it took us quite a few minutes to get an elevator to our room so we had to resort to the old trick of taking the elevator down and then back up to our suite on Deck 10. I've been on smaller ships that have 3 banks of elevators so it's a bit surprising that a ship this size only has 2.
  14. After the ice show we went to dinner in the MDR, table number 529 in the balcony on Deck 5. Our waiter, actually waitress, has been Jing, a lovely 24-year-old young woman from China, who is on her fourth contract and should around for at least two more, she says. She has been very attentive to us this cruise and has picked up our eating preferences seamlessly, even mentioning last night that she thought I didn't like a dish because I wasn't attacking it with gusto like the two previous evenings! The truth of the matter was that I was so relaxed from my massage earlier in the afternoon that I wasn't able to move any muscles in my body quickly for the remainder of the day. But more on that later. Our assistant waiter is a 27-year-old from India, and his name is Lum, for short (I can't spell or pronounce his full name). He's a real character, and has been keeping us stocked with water, bread, and any additional drinks for which we've asked, whether the complimenary lemonade or apple juice, or the virgin strawberry daiquiri DW ordered on night 2 from the bar. When DW offered a sip to our DD he teased DD that the drink would make her tipsy, much to her chagrin! He's been great at keeping the kids entertained and even suggested a couple of brain teasers for them last night. The first evening, for our appetizers there were Shrimp Cocktails all around (DW and DS had multiples), DD had the Escargot, and I had the Crab Cakes (very good) and French Onion Soup (it was good but I've had better). For our main courses DW had the spaghetti, DD had the Fish, Seafood & Mash, DS didn't see anything that appealed to him from the adult menu so got some Fish and Chips customized by our waitress, and I had the Prime Rib (which was good), and the Scallops and Fried Shrimp from the Fish, Seafood & Mash entree, sans the fish. For dessert, DS had ice cream (vanilla is his favorite), and I had the Key Lime Pie (not sweet or tart enough for me but was good), and DD and I both had the No Sugar Added Blueberry Pear Cobbler (much better than the pie to my surprise!). However, the highlight to me was the Apple Pie a la Mode DW had, which had a nice crust and very soft, ripe and sweet apples. Reminder to self to order that the remainder of the cruise along with the other desserts that catch my eye! Here is the MDR menu from night 1, along with a few pics of my favorite dishes.
  15. We went to the early showing of "Ice Under the Big Top", the ice skating show in Studio B, before our late seating dinner. We did sit in one of the reserved sections for suite guests, and I was a little surprised that instead of being front and center of the rink, they were more at an angle on both sides of the rink. However, they were decent seats and it was nice that they were available even though we got there only 10 minutes before the show. We really enjoyed the show, and the skating by the performers is pretty spectacular, especially considering the ship is moving. They are certainly more daring than I! For one of the female skaters to allow her partner to sling her around from her legs with her face mere inches from the ice is something I would be afraid to try, especially if the ship hit a big swell and threw their timing off! But they did awesome! Here are a couple of photos from the performance.
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