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Caribbean Chris

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About Caribbean Chris

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Osprey, Florida

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  1. We’re all different in our preferences. We booked a Neptune Suite, cruised in the Caribbean in April, enjoyed Club Orange dining room, received our 100 day medallion, and loved the Nieuw Statendam. The Music Walk was great. Would cruise the ship again anytime. (Preferred it to Celebrity Solstice class ships, and the N Stat was vastly more comfortable in every way than the Celebrity Edge which we cruised in January on same itinerary.)
  2. Sounds like a winner! Everybody really has to do their math for lower fare vs more stuff included. (And it helps to use a travel agency that shows the net fare right up front as a choice, which makes it easy to compare.) For example, we often skip deals including a beverage package because I know the average dollar amount we spend per day for drinks & wine on board. It’s easy to multiply by the number of days and know what our bar tab will be without a package. Almost always cheaper bottom line to go with the lower fare. But as in your example, pcur, we also changed an upcoming 18-day cruise booking to pay more because the offer included free gratuities. Bottom line came out much better.
  3. Yes, and I remember that Royal Caribbean provided a Mercy Evacuation Ship for anyone who wanted to leave the U.S. Virgin islands for Miami. One of my St. Croix friends took it since it was the only way out, to get up to the states in time to make an international flight for a business trip. He emailed photos of all the numerous pet dogs that were on board! Another ex-St. Croix friend and I were talking at lunch about whether that’s going to happen for Bahamians, as non-US Citizens. I sure hope the legalities can be worked out. The devastation appears so profound on some of the islands, surely evacuation of the population is necessary, and there may not be space and resources on the other islands for thousands of people to be sheltered long term.
  4. We are so lucky in Florida. The SW coast where we live got nothing but early forecasts had it coming directly toward us. That cat. 5 devastation could have hit Miami. Very close. It is just heartbreaking to see the videos from The Bahamas. Amazing they can open the port of Nassau - maybe some cruise ships can deliver supplies - I read that RCCL is donating $1 million.
  5. Yikes! We encountered some feral dogs twice in St. Maarten, though they seemed harmless. You really have to keep an eye out going ashore.
  6. Linda & Halo, I feel for you with the dilemma of relatives + service dogs. My sister-in-law really did not want my dog in the beach house she and my brother owned (for a traditional family gathering at that beach dating back 40+ years) but grudgingly allowed me to have the dog come inside at times. She considered her beach house to be “no dogs allowed” for rentals, and did not want any dog, period, in complete denial about the fact that such policies would not apply to renters with service dogs. Naturally, I did not argue and tried to go with the flow even though my dog was undoubtedly cleaner than her assorted renters’ kids were. We slept in our RV at a campground and rented a car to go back and forth while my other siblings stayed in oceanfront bedrooms. The gathering gradually fell by the wayside, my brother is gone, and the house is now for sale. It’s frankly a relief to not have to go there any more where my dog is not welcome, but it still pains me when I think about it.
  7. I enjoyed Vistas more than the Constellation. HAL Zuiderdam in 2016 was a winner on staff & service as always, on the spacious between dining tables, and on the quality of a Signature Suite (8039] we booked. Big balcony, good view, two sinks in a more modern bathroom. (Of course, there are no real benefit perks like a lounge to a Signature Suite on HAL, it’s mostly the extra space.) The main pluses for Constellation in late 2014 to me were the the adults-only Solarium with free, large, salt water Thalassotherapy pool with water jets, and the service in the Murano (later changed to Qsine) and Tuscan Grille surcharge restaurants. But the Sky Suite had a view of machinery, a dated bathroom with dark yellow marble which didn’t appeal to me, and the anytime dining was crowded and often disorganized - I recall standing around waiting despite having reservations. The game-changer for Celebrity’s Sky Suites on all their ships was that they created Luminae dining rooms in 2015 for all suite passengers, along with the Michael’s Club suite lounge with concierge and bartender serving complimentary beverages. They are adding a suite retreat sun area and modernizing decor during the 2020 dry dock. So we’re looking forward to returning to check it out (and will still have a view of machinery down below.😃). I agree that Veendam could have a hard time competing out of Tampa.
  8. I hope HAL will include some longer itineraries. I love driving an hour & sailing under the SS Bridge, and I love HAL, but like many people, want more choices than a 7-day. We pounced, as did our local pals, on the Constellation when the TPA itineraries came out a couple of weeks ago offering exceptionally good Sky Suite prices by recent Celebrity standards with all the premium amenities included. We found a perfect April 2021 10-day date for two birthdays to celebrate on board, and our friends plan to stay on for the crossing to Barcelona. A bonus is that the 2000+ passenger Constellation will be coming out of dry dock with fresh decor when it starts the TPA route in 2020. X must have had a good response because what’s left of the sky suites have seen big price jumps.
  9. Those old party poopers! I remember back in the 1980s when a Princess Cruises’ head waiter was cooking something like bananas foster tableside and an unfortunate woman’s hair caught on fire. That and similar episodes seemed to put a damper on that practice, although Celebrity still does flambé lobster in their Murano restaurants. No doubt it’s done aboard other lines’ ships, too.
  10. There has been talk about dredging for a pier on Cayman for decades, with strong local opposition. I’ll be amazed if it ever happens.
  11. I completely agree with you both about not getting off in ports that make it an expensive hassle just for a few hours. (But I admit it’s easier for me to skip ports we visited on earlier cruises or during the years we lived in the Caribbean. It’s understandable that people want to see these islands.) For Grand Cayman, often ships can’t tender due to high seas. On our last cruise, the Captain gave up, cancelled the port call, and sailed away at 10 a.m. Imagine how aggravating that would be if you had had blood tests and paid fees.
  12. On our past few cruises stopping in Mexican ports in the Caribbean (most recent was in April), I had my vet (must be Aphis accredited) use this “Option B” template form(Cindy’s photo above) pasted on her letterhead because it does NOT have to be endorsed by an APHIS service center. I avoid that hassle and expense as much as possible https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/pet-travel/by-country/pettravel-mexico The vet also issues the usual basic form 7001 which has a section 8 on the right “Pertinent vaccinations, treatment and testing history” for Rabies etc.. For every trip, we include on there the most recent date my dog had her ectoparasite (K9 Advantix) treatment including scientific name, and endoparasite treatment (Heartguard Plus) with same (see photo). No worming needed. The Mexican officials who came on board were fine with these two papers every time.
  13. That sounds like so much fun! The Nieuw Statendam is a wonderful ship for it, IMHO - love the Music Walk. We were on a Royal Viking Line ship decades ago for Christmas and NY Eve, and I’ve been thinking lately that it’s past time to do it again.
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