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createmem

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About createmem

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Omaha, NE
  • Interests
    Photography, Scrapbooking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Carribbean
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Caribbean

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  1. Yes, we reserved on board. Actually we forgot about the voucher until partway through the cruise and Chops called to remind us. We were able to get in on the night we could go and at a good time.
  2. Same on the hubby thing - unless I can get him tipsy enough. He tends to be a tired drunk so its a fine line between tispy enough to club dance and sleep! I am not sure if 150 Central park is on the voucher list, but I would always choose this place if you are a bit more foodie inclined. If you just like a solidly good meal, then I would choose Chops. Its a solid steakhouse and this is from a steak loving Nebraska girl who is quite steak picky. Chops is consistently good from ship to ship. I have never tried Giovanni's and have heard good things, but its never made our list of must tries on a cruise. We did try Izumi last year on Oasis and I thought it was just okay, Honestly, I think there we have a better hibachi restaurant here in Omaha. I felt the same way about Sabor when I tried it on Freedom. The Guacamole was super good but everything else was so so and I felt we have better restaurants locally for that. That Chops steakhouse would rival many of the great steakhouses in Omaha, Nebraska (partly because they do serve Omaha Steaks brand meat there.)
  3. And we enjoy weekend trips to KC! Love heading to the plaza at holiday time, and we really love going to Ikea! I assume with kids, you enjoy the zoo here. We really are proud of our Omaha zoo! I have done the Maho beach side trip twice with Bernards. They give you about an hour depending on schedule which I personally found to be just right. There is a sign in the bar that tells you which planes are expected to come in, times and size of aircraft. This last time we saw 2 large jets come in and several smaller planes. We also had 1 large Jet Blue jet leave as well as several smaller planes fly away. I think the fly away is incredible because they go straight into a mountain - you would think those larger planes wouldn't have enough runway to get up in time. I did do some research ahead of time and I think the cab fare from port to Maho is about $20. We had considered just doing that, but am so glad we didn't. The beach is overcrowded with no beach chairs so its really not about the beach there. Maho is the last stop before heading back to the port so you are there in the early to mid afternoon. Bring sunscreen! Surprisingly, this airport is busier than most would expect and there is a steady flow of traffic coming in and out. I think you will be pleased with the time there.
  4. I think Miami is one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful sailaway. I a, sure the Latin restaurant is open quite late. It was getting busier when we left at 830.
  5. I did forget, yes there were some small complaints about this trip. 1. Royals website really needs help. 10 days before my cruise I couldn't check in, and it took several days and several tries before I could. 2. We prebooked our massage on the cruise planner site, but when going to the spa they were quite confused about what we were to pay. They kept asking if we prepaid. So there must be a communication issue or lapse from that website to Royal's spa. 3. I hate the promenade area on these bigger ships. It reminds me of a high school hallway during passing period. No one walks with purpose (even if they have one) and it feels like way too many people almost all of the time. 4. Some might say this is a complaint, I didn't care, but this ship and week skewed older on the age demo. We are late 40's and we were significantly outnumbered by the 70 year old group this cruise. I love interacting with people of all ages, but we were certainly the youngest couple in the diamond lounge. It was nice that our main dining room table mates were in our age group though. 5. I miss finding venues and music for slow dancing. Everything skews much faster nowadays. Can you get a venue that plays some Bon Jovi, Journey and some old fashioned hair band ballads? Sorry 80's girl through and through, and I just want to slow dance with my hubby. 6. I forgot about Quest because this was the first we didn't go! That is the problem with not checking compasses. We always WIN Quest. Find us next time if you want to be on a winning team!
  6. Oh thank you for that. I almost didn't post that because I don't want to be lectury (yea I know thats not a word) ! Its sounds like my mom. I know everyone goes into a trip with different expectations. I guess since I planned so much (like so so so so much) for that Oasis cruise in 9/2017, and I felt so responsible for everyone else's happiness at the potential expense of my own, to have the trip totally be revamped on us at the last minute really wasn't the worst thing. It likely was a blessing for me. And really, I heard people on that Oasis ship complain about the changes and communication from Royal. Sure, I would have loved a heads up when the hurricane was coming that said - hey if Puerto Rico is destroyed by a hurricane we will change to this route, but why would they?! All I could think of was my guilt for taking this vacation that so many people dream of taking while people didn't have electricity and running water and food. Perhaps that helped shift my perspective! Enjoy your cruise on an amazing ship!
  7. Ok - Likely almost at the final installment! Sorry for the delay for those of you still following this! Friday, February 15th - we docked in Labadee. It was sprinkling rain a bit but we were okay with it. We didn't feel in a rush to get off the ship and had planned on a big enough breakfast to avoid eating lunch at Labadee. We had reserved the beach loungers for 2 so we knew we had places to sit. We had breakfast and then disembarked at about 10:30. As we were walking, the sprinkles of rain turned into a downpour. We were able to take shelter in the water activities shop, and wait out the rain. And the rain rain rain came down down down Bonus points for naming the song. After the rain stopped, we took the tram to our beach and got our lovely beach chairs. By this time the rain was stopped, and we were enjoying the sun, and our near perfect view. We didn't do much. We relaxed, read and ordered a drink. At about 3 we headed back to the ship. Hubby had booked us a couples massage at 4:30 and we wanted to eat! It turned out to be a beautiful day on the beach! After our massages we changed for formal night, and joined new friends in Diamond lounge for drinks. We had reservations for dinner at Chops that evening We do look good! I do still find a value to eating at the specialty restaurants and in the past we have done cruises where we only eat in the specialty dining or only in the dining room. I will say that I have never tried the windjammer for dinner and that probably makes me a bit of a snob. On a cruise, I prefer to order and have food brought to me. I can serve myself at home:) Chops continues to be a great quality restaurant, at a good value. I love the fried goat cheese salad. really I just LOVE the fried goat cheese This shrimp cocktail is definitely more substantial than the one served in the dining room. We each order the small filet, however our waiter felt that size was NOT an appropriate size for a man and also brought my husband the 9 oz filet. While he tried to eat it, by day 6, we were just too full of rich food and I really still wanted that pasta from chef's table! Hubby did the best he could, but left about 2 oz of steak on his plate. We both had ice cream for dessert because it seemed easier at this point. After dinner, we went to Vintages and enjoyed time with our favorite bar staff. Then we made it to bed by 11! Upon returning to our cabin, we were met with the most horrific site - those dreaded luggage tags that meant our time was almost up! We shared our thoughts on that. Hope you aren't easily offended! Our last full day was a sea day, and I intended to make the most of my day in the solarium in a chair. Hubby was up by 8:15 to secure our spots and I was there by 8:45. We ate in the solarium bistro and I spent my day reading my book. At this point in the cruise, hubby was accustomed to bringing us the roast beef sandwiches from the park cafe for lunch each day and today was no exception. Try them, they are quite delish. We did get packed by 4:30, and we try to keep that easy and don't like it to take a lot of our vacation time away. We napped and then headed for drinks. We met up with our canadian table mates for dinner and then went to Vintages to say farewell with drinks. The process the next morning was super easy. We were off the ship and in our shuttle to the airport by 9am. Smoothest customs ever! My takeaways from this cruise: Royal still does an amazing job with service. We noticed staff all over the ship greeting us, asking us about our day and spurring conversation. It was so common to have that happen that I mentioned I had noticed that to hubby by day 3 and he said the same. It might be a new training program as this was a distinct difference from our last cruise, or its possible that is how the allure captain runs his ship. It was a welcome addition and we felt well taken care of. Food quality in the main dining room has felt off in the last few cruises, and while I still don't feel its up to the 1996 par, it was better than 2017 on Oasis. Changes to the menu in 150 Central Park were wonderful and our other specialty meals were fabulous. Vintages is our favorite bar on the ship, but likely because we drink more wine than anything else. We loved the staff in Vintages and we loved talking to them all. Even the slightly political discussion was fun and not intended and we all learned things to take away. We are all far more alike than not, and I hope our new friends can find a safe homelife in their counties as they return. I encourage making friends on a cruise. We love meeting people and even with all the political drama in the USA (or other countries) you will likely find far more in common than not. We met a couple who didn't speak English very well but still sat with us for an hour of drinks to talk and get to know each other. We each gave suggestions on wines, apps to use on your iphone, traveling in the USA among other things. We met a couple who were originally from Omaha but now live in Arizona. We got tips on booking our next cruise and saving more money and we all agreed that we overpack and all do too much planning. About not using the compasses, for us it works. We have done all the shows in the past, and this time that wasn't a priority for us. We enjoyed each day as it came along. And yea maybe we missed out on something we would have enjoyed, but we did what we wanted and weren't beholden to a schedule. I like vacationing like that a bit better and will continue to not overplan and over book in the future. Now, I did make reservations for things ahead of time - just like all of you do - but we just sort of went with our flow. Also, tipping. I am a tipper. I believe in the old model of tipping on cruise ships and I do everything I can to help the staff I interact with daily know that I value them. Amounts vary based on income/budgets but I have never taken off the autogratuity and I miss tip envelopes. As I said before we tip $10-$15 in cash per night in the diamond lounge, and I did tip about $70 extra to staff like our cabin steward, and $50 to the waiter and assistant waiter. I always wrestle with is it enough or did I just insult the staff person with a crappy tip. I base the tip on my budget and the number of days. We tip in cash in the bars and on a specialty dining restaurant we usually tip the cost of one person - so for 150 central park it was $50, and for Chefs table it was $100. I know the ship employees work very hard to make me happy on a cruise. Also, I think cruising and the ship is about your attitude. I am in an Allure facebook group and I noticed a woman on about day 5 stating she was currently on the ship and how horrible it was. She stated her cabin balcony was filthy, with issues on her balcony glass, and that the diamond lounge windows were never cleaned. She also mentioned that the elevators were all broken and that Royal needed to get their act together. I thought before posting back, but could see that others were now posting how worried they were about choosing this ship and that maybe they should cancel and choose another ship. I believe in looking for the best. My balcony window wasn't perfect but the issue I noticed was from ocean and not anything that my steward could control unless he was out there cleaning the balcony every few hours. The diamond lounge windows did have a bit of a cloud in a portion of them, but I don't think cleaning was the issue. I think there might have been a seal issue or the cloud had to do with exposure to the salt air. Last, there was an issue with one elevator on one day that we noticed, but we did not see any issues all week. I did post back my opinion of the ship, and she felt I was wrong. Thats on her I guess. But I wanted to reassure others that their cruise would be fine. By the way, later that day, she removed her post. Choose the attitude you want to cruise with. I choose to have fun wherever I go, but thats my life. Life is too short in my opinion to not be happy! We are beach/pool people. We want to see water, thats why we cruise. We don't get that here in landlocked Omaha Nebraska. We love food and wine. Those are the things we keep coming back for, and will likely cruise again in 2 years. 2020 will probably be a land vacation - back to Bar Harbor to visit family and we have talked about a long weekend in Napa. That feels right to us. Thanks for following along, and I hope to meet all of you on a cruise or having a great day in life one day soon! Have a great next cruise, have fun with the planning but also live in the moment, because the moments go by too fast.
  8. It isn't in the dining room. you can smell it once you get into the foyer area by the elevators and it get worse as you near the bathroom. Now mind you - I feel I am sensitive to cigarette smoke smell, and hubby didn't think it was as bad as I did. We walked through the casino one night to get to the theater and it was ghastly! I felt like I was holding my breath the whole way, but it was faster to go that way.
  9. So Chef's Table.... The nice part about Chef's table on Allure is its location. It is on the 2nd floor of the Diamond Lounge, but they have you meet in the library. We had a great time at Chef's table on Oasis 18 months ago and were excited to do Chef's table again. The menu from Oasis to Allure in 18 months hadn't changed. But I thought it was delicious the first time and didn't mind eating that same amazing meal again. My question for those who have attended Chef's table - they offer 3 entrees, a branzino, steak and pasta. Based on my mood on Oasis, I ordered the pasta dish, but was told not to get it but to get the steak. So I did. I was determined that this time, I was only ordering that pasta dish - and that waiter could just suck it about the steak. I ordered the pasta, and he said, well get the steak because we will be bringing out a side of pasta for everyone. What is the point of having the pasta on the menu if you won't let anyone order it? If you like food and want to try some different wines, do the Chef's table. It is so worth expense. The attention to detail is flawless, the service is incredible and it is a wonderful way to get to know other guests. We had a very lively group at our Chef's table and everyone appeared to have a great time. It was also Valentine's Day (and our wedding anniversary) so it was a good way to spend the evening. You start Chef's table in the library on Deck 11 which just happens to be in the room next to the Diamond lounge. After everyone has gathered (for a bit of an awkward conversation) in the library, we were served a sparkling rose to start our evening. We were then led through a back door into the diamond lounge and up the stairs to the 2nd level. Place cards indicated where to sit at the chef's table. The sommelier/waiter introduced himself, and brought out the chef as well. I want this chandelier in my basement bar area. I think I can make it! Course number 1 - scallop ceviche with radish and quinoa Delicious. I would love to make this at home (but the way the chef described, its sounds like a lot of work) The second course was a tomato soup and I was talking with someone when it was served, and I forgot to take a picture. Lets just say it definitely wasn't this: 3rd course - Lobster salad with heart of palm. So good, but I would take a 2nd helping of the first course. Yes, the steak is good. Its a tenderloin so of course it would be. Yes it pairs well with the sauce and the potatoes etc but I didn't like the wine served here. It was a cabernet sauvignon that was just a bit too heavy for my taste. Then I did try the pinot that was to be served with the pasta and i liked that so much better. And I didn't take a photo of the pasta, because I ATE ALL OF IT. I really just want a full plate of that right now. The pasta is a super creamy papardelle - and I could just eat this every single day. Next our waiter brought out a surprise treat And then desert - which to be honest was a bit underwhelming. Can I just have more pasta? and with dessert - a tiramisu shot - now this was delicious and I could have this all the time: Now chef's table is not for those who want to pick at their food, and it also isn't for those who just want to sip. They serve you a full glass of wine with each course. Hubby is a red wine only guy, but he managed to suck down a couple of glasses of white. Couple this with our diamond lounge drink from earlier, and he was feeling quite loopy. Drunk some even might say. he kept saying we needed to go dancing because he had promised me a dance. So we went to dazzles on deck 8 to see who was playing there, and it was just not great. So we danced back to the cabin, and he had his first solid night of sleep! He didn't dance on the table, though in the past, he has been known to dance for $1 bills (he does keep his clothes on) Next up - a rainy morning in Labadee and all good things must come to an end.
  10. Ok - best intentions to get this wrapped up on Saturday went the way of the Omaha Blizzard and I spent the day catching up on tv shows from while we were gone. Watched Ant-Man and the Wasp so I am now officially ready for the next Marvel movie and then started Netflix with the Ted Bundy tapes - boy he was messed up. We got nearly 10 inches of snow from 3pm Saturday to midnight, 50 MPH winds and all I kept thinking was why didn't I do that back to back cruise. Money and vacation time were the answers that came from hubby. He is a bit of a party pooper. So I PROMISE to finish up the rest of the week soon. Maybe tonight. I have to get taxes going too - UGH I hate tax time. Have a warm day!
  11. I think Aqua Viv is closed as well. The restaurant we tried was a short 7 to 10 minute walk. There was a walgreens where the ship docked, you just head up that hill 2 blocks then head left. The restaurant had red umbrellas outside. The food was delish and prices were great!
  12. you do have time. We took a cab to the fort, and then walked around the fort for about 90 minutes. We then took a cab back to the cruise area and walked to a few shops and the restaurant we ate lunch at. If you had longer, I would say you could even walk to the forts but it is a bit of an uphill haul, and my knee can't do that anymore. Our next cruise might just be out of San Juan and we can build a few days at the beginning to spend more time there.
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