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Brandis

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About Brandis

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Switzerland
  • Interests
    Disney, Travel, Cruises...
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Royal Caribbean, Disney, Holland America
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Castaway Cay

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  1. Just had a look at Polarsteps. It's a bit strange, if you stay several days in one place and then continue to the next one, it counts the days your were in one place as travel time between the two places. Also, it automatically assumes you travel by plane. There should be a setting where you can define the transportation type.
  2. My bad, I was just looking at the month, not really at the year above. Of course, 2021 is fully available... But in my list, there is only Europe, no selection for Mediterranean specifically. Anyways, it seems none of the Radiance class ships is doing any real Med cruises next year. ๐Ÿ˜ž
  3. As our cruise on Jewel for end of April just has been cancelled (after having the itinerary changed earlier this month from italian to spanish ports of call), I went to the RCL website and wanted to check if there were similiar cruises next year we could book instead. However, the latest departure dates in the search engine is only until April 2021 at the moment and no European departures are in there yet. When do they usually start putting in itineraries for Europe for the following year?
  4. Just been informed by RCL that our April 26 cruise on Jewel out of Barcelona has been cancelled. Not sure yet if we take the money back or keep the 125% FCC. We booked this cruise on our last cruise and got a special rate because of this. Do you think RCL will offer some kind of discount for rebooking?
  5. I prefer the rounded lines which don't cross over land and I always used the RCL itinerary maps, but it seems they have done away with those? Or are they just hidden and I missed them?
  6. I have some more photos of the cabin, mostly the bathroom and toilet. Unfortunately, it seems I forgot to take any photos of the balcony, as we didn't spend much time out there. Also, I didn't see the J1, assuming that is the suite towards the middle of the ship next to us? From the outside, this is where our cabin was located (red circle on the right, the one on the left was the identical cabin layout on the other side of the ship our friends stayed in: These are the additional photos from our cabin: We had friends staying also in an aft J4, just one floor up and one cabin further out, their layout was a bit different from ours as well. Not as long as ours, but more wide, as the bathroom and toilet were positioned differently. This is the J4 on the outside:
  7. We are visiting Villefranche in April, staying there from 9AM to 7PM. I was thinking of spending the morning walking around Villefranche and then meet a driver around noon who would get us to Grasse, where I plan on booking a perfume creation workshop, which takes approximately 2 hours. After that, we would like to drive to Eze, to have a look at the village there, probably another hour and a half to two hours. So I estimate we would need a driver for about 6 hours. Any recommendations? We need room for 6 adults.
  8. Iโ€˜m just one point away from D+. Does this get me anything on my next cruise after the first day when I become D+ or only on the cruise after when I board as D+ already?
  9. On our cruise, Nov. 27, no reservations were possible. It was first come, first served and always with a considerable wait. There was only an extra (and of course faster) line for Gold Suite guests and guests who bought Royal Advantage.
  10. Actually, "troubles" with Chinese immigration already started before our trip. We planned on using the 144h visa waiver entry, as we were in Shanghai for less than 144 hours both before and after our cruise. Two weeks before the cruise, there was a huge article in the newspaper that many passengers flying into Beijing and wanting to board Spectrum to Singapore were not allowed to enter the country and had to fly home. Apparently, it was mostly people with stamps from Turkey or arabian countries which were denied entry. So we scambled and went to get visas. Luckily, there is a Chinese visa center in our city and their turnaround time was only 4 days. Our friends had to fly last minute to Madrid, get express visas at additional costs which took 2 days. With that, we felt a bit more confident getting into China. ๐Ÿ™‚ Immigration at the airport still took around 90 min., but that wasn't too bad. Formalities getting on the ship wasn't too bad either, took maybe an hour. But then the crazyness started when we got back to Shanghai at the end of the cruise. Our planned disembarkation time, according to the luggage tags was 9AM, and I heard that the ship was supposed to be empty and ready for the new passengers by 10AM. However, we still sat in Jamies waiting to get out by 11AM and the line to get off the ship didn't move at all. We were among the last passengers getting of the ship at around 1PM... I was told by ship staff that the problem apparently was the International Trade Import Expo which was held in Shanghai at that time and the chinese president was visiting Shanghai as well so they ramped up security and immigration procedures. When we got out of the port building, the line waiting to get onboard was huge. Oh well, they inconvenienced mostly their own people as it was a 3-day cruise only and apparently no or almost no foreigners were booked on that cruise, according to our annoyed barkeeper at the Solarium bar. He said, for him it meant sitting around in the bar all day doing nothing. He also told us when the captain announced the numbers for european, american and australian passengers for the previous 2 7-day cruises, all the bar staff cheered since they knew they would be busier for those trips ๐Ÿ™‚ They were really happy when we kept them busy. Actually, by the time we got out of the terminal, the shuttle bus going to the metro station had stopped running. So we had to take Taxis, they were really cheap though, only 20 RMB max. Apparently, there is only one kind of taxi that is allowed to take foreigners, but they were all too small, taking 2 passengers max and only room for 1 bag. So the police commandeered some bigger taxis for us which could hold up to 3 passengers and all our luggage and made sure we understood that we shouldn't pay more than 20 RMB. After that, getting to Shanghai Disney Resort, where we stayed for the last 4 days of our trip, was a breeze.
  11. Japanese immigration actually wasn't that bad. Getting off the ship back in Shanghai was the real nightmare. Yes, the Silver Lounge next to Silver Dining doubles as the Diamond Lounge in the evening. Funny thing is, suite guests that were not Diamond yet sometimes were denied drinks from the bar, waiters said that it was for Diamond and higher only. However, that wasn't always enforced. Another funny thing, our friends brought their blue wristbands from the previous cruise and asked Guest Services to load their cabin keys onto them. Guest Services complied, but told them that since they didn't sell the wristbands on board and only gave the yellow bands to Gold Suite guests, they only had a Gold Suite profile they could upload to their bands and that they were not allowed to use their bands to enter the Gold Suite areas ๐Ÿ™‚ Matcha Kit Kat you can get in pretty much any convenience store. If you have time, go to a Don Quichote store, they have tons of different Kit Kat Flavours. The ones I got were: Sake, Black Tea, Apple Pie, Sweet Potato, Cherry Blossom.
  12. 8720 is indeed a single studio balcony cabin. Bed is a bit smaller, less storage room, but other than that, the cabin didn't feel small at all. Our aft Silver Junior Suite was amazing! The layout wasn't anything like what is shown on the RCL website. It was a lot bigger, probably 8 m long over 3m wide. Opening the door, we looked at the back wall of the toilet compartment, then on the left was the shower / bathroom, between that and the door, there was a unused area we put our shoes in. Then came the bed, the couch with 2 additional chairs and a small work desk next to the balcony. We were under the impression that we would have traditional dining, with fixed time and same table every night, but you had to wait in line every night at your assigned dining time and they would seat you wherever there was room. The menus had photos of every dish, which made the dining experience feel a bit cheap. Most of had steak the first night and it was OK, second night, we didn't like anything on the menu, so we went up to Windjammer. Pretty hard to find a table there, though. For the rest of the cruise, we had dinner at the Silver Dining room and enjoyed it a lot. The menu didn't change, but they had different things on the buffet every night, so it was easy to find something. The dining room is pretty small and was always nice and quiet. Very relaxing. We always had breakfast at Silver Dining as well. One thing I didn't like there was that they had no brown sugar for the oatmeal, they had bamboo sugar instead, which looks similiar but has a different taste. So I just grabbed a bunch of brown sugar bags from the coffee area and used those. :-) We were also very happy we had access to the Solarium, which is reserved for Suite guests. That area was also always very quiet and relaxing, a good place to get away from the hustle and bustle on the rest of the ship. Never a problem with saved chairs and towels didn't have to be checked out with the Seapass. I bought the Refreshment package, used it a few times per day at the Bionic bar but I probably got most of the value at the tea house. Loved the Osmanthus Red Velvet tea as well as the Cheese Teas. The usual Coke mug was included with the package, but I had no t much use for it. When I couldn't find the Coke Freestyle machine in the Windjammer and asked for it, I was told that they were in the Esplanade. Went down to the Coffee shop, they told me it was located at the Dog House in the Multiplex. There I saw where the machine would be, power and water outlets ready, but no machine. Sorrento's Pizza is next to Windjammer and usually the only place to get late snacks, some days, Windjammer had a limited snack offering as well. Unfortunately, they only had 3 kinds of Pizza, Vegetarian, Margeritha and Peperoni, I think and they didn't offer "Create your own Pizza". :-( Showgirls and Silk Road were good shows, unfortunately, I missed the second show in the Theatre, The Effectors, seems to be an amazing show, too bad they only showed it one night. It bugged me a bit that all the cakes, cookies etc. in the coffe shop and the tea house were charged for, no freebies on this ship... As for the itinerary, I felt the time in port was a bit short and always kind of late. Some of that was of course caused by the immigration formalities, but I wonder if port time could not have been optimized. In Kobe, our first stop, we didn't get out of the port building until about 3PM. from there we went to Kyoto, arriving there shortly before 5PM, which unfortunately is the time many temples close. So we didn't see as much as I wanted, but still got a bit of the flavour of the city. In Osaka, we arrived in the morning, but since the ship left pretty early that day, we had a cramped sightseeing program again. In Yokohama, there was a free shuttle which dropped you off at a metro station, but trip into Tokyo stil took almost an hour, again, the last bus back to the ship left kind of early, so we didn't have as much time as I would have liked. But we still enjoyed the visit and I'm sure it helped that I had been there before, so it was a bit easier finding our way around. At least, we had time for some great meals and I could take out 15 min. of our sightseeing program to buy some unique Kit Kat flavours at Mega Don Quichote in Shibuya. Which by the way was absolutely crazy, because of Halloween. But it was fun nontheless. IMG_6809.MOV
  13. We just disembarked Spectrum last Sunday after a 7 nights cruise to Japan. Got Silver Junior Suites for $1400 per Person, which I thought was an amazing deal, especially since the Silver category included more perks than what is normal for Junior Suites. Usually, they are suites only by name, without any suite perks like priority check-in, suite lounge, special suite restaurant etc. On Spectrum, we got all this and were actually really happy about it. We could use Silver dining for all our meals and while the menu didnโ€˜t change during the week, it contained mostly western items and there was also a buffet, which had new stuff on it every night. As the main dining room menu and the wait for s table didnโ€˜t appeal to us and Windjammer was too crowded as well, we had most of our meals there. Also, the Solarium was a suites only area as well to which we had access and it was a haven of serenity where it was alway possible to find some deckchairs next to each other without having to stake a claim early in the morning. We booked this cruise almost a year ago and in all that time, no sale for drinks packages showed up und our friends who bought the Deluxe Drink package were actually able to do so for only one person in the room, which normally is not possible. While there was an onboard offer of Buy 1, get the second at half price for the Deluxe package, the increased on-board price for the package actually negated any possible savings. To contrast, for our next Med cruise ehich we booked onboard Spectrum, I already received two mails regarding discounted Drinks packages, the first while we still were on Spectrum. I had the Refreshment package (also no pre-cruise discounts there). I think I got my moneyโ€˜s worth just with all the speciality teas I had at Leaf & Beans, which was frequented mostly by western passengers in my experience, not the asians RCL probably was hoping for (and for whom they replaced the pub with a tea house) ๐Ÿ™‚ It seems those mostly just used the (free) hot water dispensers in the Windjammer and at Sorrentoโ€˜s Pizza to refill their tea bottles.
  14. Read a very detailed review on another RC blog website and the experience seemed to have been mostly positive. Looking forward to our cruise starting Sun. in a week.
  15. I can second that I could get as many free shakes I wanted on Harmony. I had the Refreshment package. Would get a chocolate malt every night to take to the Aqua Theatre. By day 2, the staff waved me over to the bar when I walked in and almost had my shake ready by the time I sat down ๐Ÿ™‚ And when they ran my card it automatically changed the price to $0, so it is programmed in their system and seems to be an official thing. Not sure why it doesn't work on all the ships that have Johnny Rockets.
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