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About mdjohn5

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  1. The laundry service is a great perk, but 100% agree with this comment. While HAL service is generally good overall, things always have a chance to go sidewise on you and the concierges are awesome about getting things worked out for you. I also like to just casually have my room key out when I am interacting with staff around the ship (bar tenders, the maiter d's, etc). The Neptune suite keys are yellow/gold vs the standard blue. I feel like when staff see the yellow room card, they tend to be willing to do a little extra for you....the again it could be all in my head...but I still do it :)
  2. mdjohn5

    Safe transportation options for 2 year old

    That sounds like an awesome trip! Unfortunately I can't offer a lot of port advice port. Of those, I have only been to St Martin, and that was pre-hurricane last year so things may have changed. However, for St Martin, they will have excursions that run up to Orient Beach that use motor coaches if you are not bringing the seats. Great Bay beach is right off Front Street where the main Philipsburg shopping is, If I remember right, the taxis that take you there are usualy just the open trucks with bench seating, so a car seat would not help anyways. If you are taking the seats, St. Martin is fairly easy to drive around on your own if you consider renting your own vehicle. We have spent a couple weeks there on land vacations with the kids. The roads can be narrow in spots but its all right side driving and other drivers are courteous. The good news is this is the hardest stage with the kids. Once they are old enough for booster seats, things get exponentially easier. When they are in that full car seat stage, the logistics just get tough and kind of limits what you can do. .....Still better than sitting at my desk at work though :)
  3. mdjohn5

    Safe transportation options for 2 year old

    What ports are you going to?
  4. mdjohn5

    Help selected another cruise line

    If you are a fan of Holland America's service, Royal Caribbean service levels might be an issue. We are 3 star on HAL and about a similar level on RC. The RC ships are awesome with a ton of activities, much more so than the HAL ships. There is a lot more active things to do around the ships...even the midsize ones have wave riders, skating rinks, climbing walls, and the casino / bars are more active, etc. However, our in our experience, the overall service is hit or miss. Its never bad...but sometimes it is outstanding and sometimes it is just ok. It can be such a wide swing in service levels that I have come to describe it as " frustratingly inconsistent". There will also be more families on RC ships. If your baseline is HAL, you might be in for a shock on the difference.
  5. mdjohn5

    debarkation taxi plan ?

    I am all for minimizing the stress, but I would recommend you stick together for debarkation. Going through customs together seems like a better plan than trying to explain why you split up and you are coming through with your kids but without your spouse. Plus you would then have to navigate 2 bags and 2 toddlers though the maze. Once you are all through, if you can find a nice place to hunker down for a while, and he can go get the car....I think would be a better plan. He would also know where to find you then as he comes back with the vehicle. just my 2cents..
  6. mdjohn5


    I have never dropped the stroller off with the porters, but I assume it would be fine. I would recommend that you fold it up as much as possible and attach the tag in an obvious spot. If its going to be an issue, the porters will tell you. I have always assumed just about anything with a tag will make it up to your cabin.
  7. mdjohn5

    Best Cruise tips/hacks/ideas for elementary aged kids

    not sure if you have boys, but you can get kid size tuxedos online fairly cheep if you shop around. They are awesome on formal nights and for pictures. We find that the buffet is really hard with the kids, trying to juggle food, etc. Use the MDR as much as possible. A lot of ships are moving to anytime dining, but if you can make reservations so you have he same wait staff every night, they can make a huge difference. Make sure you hit the kids club the first day. There is paperwork you need to fill out if you plan to use the club. Our kids are hit or miss on the clubs, sometimes they love it and sometimes they hate it....we never know which....
  8. mdjohn5

    Rent car at port or airport?

    I forgot to mention, if you do the bag drop at the ship before you return the car, make sure you have your passport handy. You get stopped at the entrance of the port and they want to see ids. The good part about the security stop that is they can direct you to your ship, the port is kind of big if you have never driven through it before.
  9. mdjohn5

    Rent car at port or airport?

    We have done Dollar Rental at FLL several times. We rent the car at the airport and they have a location right at the entrance to Port Lauderdale for returns. On departure day, I usually drive into the port with the rental car and drop the bags at the ship. We then swing back out and return the car. They have a shuttle that will take you to the ships, but I find it easier to navigate the shuttle busses if the bags are pre dropped and we just have our backpacks. The little shuttle busses can get cramped with luggage and people, so if you just have carry-ons you can usually get on the first shuttle regardless of how busy it is. I think a few of the other car rental companies have port locations, but Dollar is definitely the closest. Most of the car rental companies treat Florida as one big location, so you can rent in one and return at another without extra one-way fees that a normal one-way car rental would cost you.
  10. mdjohn5

    Best stroller for a cruise?

    When our kids used strollers, we picked up a $10 umbrella stroller at a garage sale, specifically for travel. It was not the most comfortable thing to use, but we only used it for travel, for a week at a time...its not a lifetime commitment. They fold down nice for storage in the cabin and we figured if we ever got into a spot where we had to abandon it...it was a $10 investment....
  11. mdjohn5

    Passports for Grand Turk

    As stated, you don't need passports for Grand Turk as a cruise ship passenger. If you are on a limited budget with kids, Grand Turk has a nice pool for kids that is inside the port area. I think its run by Margaretville. Its free to use the pool and the chairs, they will come around and sell you food / drinks but you are not required...in fact we have more problems flagging servers down than being harassed by them. The pool is relatively shallow with a zero entry side for real small kids. Its right there as you get off the ship and walk through the first set of shops. There is also a small beach there. Have a great time!
  12. mdjohn5

    Kids Menu in Specialty Restaurants

    Nailed it!
  13. mdjohn5

    Experience with infants on HAL

    If you happen to be stopping at Turks, they have a good pool right at the cruise port. Margaritaville, its fairly shallow, large and free to use the chairs. You also don't have to leave the port area which is nice with small kids. You can fill the inflatable with the actual pool water, takes a few trips with a bucket. Just don't put the water back in the pool when you are done, put it down a drain on the deck.
  14. mdjohn5

    Experience with infants on HAL

    Honestly, the HAL pools are not all that kid friendly anyways. They are not going to miss much. They are deep and there are no bells and whistles. Its much harder for the small kids on Royal or Norwegian where the pools are designed for kids. I have never done it myself, but some people will bring a small inflatable pool for babies to use. It can also double as a bathtub though if your cabin only has a shower.
  15. mdjohn5

    Kids Menu in Specialty Restaurants

    On NA last year we ate in the Pinnacle Grill with the kids. The kids ate off the standard kids menu (from the main dinning room) and we did not have to pay the surcharge for them. Make sure that is all straightened out when you make the reservation though so there are no surprises.