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About LandlockedCruiser01

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Chicago metro area
  • Interests
    Baseball, board games, swing dancing, general aviation
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Royal Dolphin Swim at Cozumel

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  1. 1. I've cruised solo 3 times. Your best bet is to put yourself in situations that prompts you to interact with others, where you'll meet like-minded people. The situations will vary. One time, I got adopted by two friends cruising together. Another time, I got adopted by my tablemates. Third time, I met people in the piano bar, who liked my karaoke-style singing and off-the-wall comments. 2. Yes. The formal night is on day 2, the day you dock in Key West. 3. For men on regular nights, jeans and a collared shirt is sufficient, although slacks are better. For men on formal nights, upgrade it dress pants, shirt, and tie (optional). For women, wear the equivalents; I know little about women's clothes, sorry. 4. If you're talking about Port of Miami, I had a decent experience in La Quinta Inn Miami Airport North. It had a comfortable room, free full breakfast, and a Colombian restaurant in walking distance. The neighborhood is pedestrian-friendly (which is hit-or-miss in most Florida cities), but kind of iffy safety-wise. I was fine as a 29-year-old man, but YMMV. 5. It looks like you're cruising to Key West and Cozumel, which was Imagination's old itinerary. The easier way to visit the Southernmost Point is to walk there; it's about 1.5 miles from the dock. When you get off the ship, find Whitehead Street, and walk south. Keep going until you see the famous marker. For additional tips, click on the Imagination review in my signature, and read through it.
  2. You got a Schrodinger's Statement there: it's both correct and incorrect, until you find out what kind of dolphin swim it is. In some dolphin swims, you stand in waist-deep water, and a dolphin swims up to you to be petted. Or it jumps out of the water over you, but you remain mostly stationary. In others, there's a lot of movement required on your part. You might tread water while a dolphin pushes you out of the water by your feet, letting you fall back in. Or you might hold on to its dorsal fin, while it tows you through the water. Or something else movement-heavy. Either way, it's on you to control your own movements, as not to pull a muscle or something. Now, those are the dolphin swims I'd suggest abstaining from if you have a weak back. Some companies refer to the former as a "dolphin encounter" and the latter as a "dolphin swim". Read the descriptions carefully, to know what you're getting into.
  3. Galveston strikes me as a solo-unfriendly port, regardless of the ships sailing out of it. Ground transportation between Houston airports (Intercontinental and Hobby) and Galveston hotels is very expensive, due to the long distance and lack of public transit I know of. Which leaves solos in need of renting a car or calling Uber by themselves, and paying a high price that would otherwise be shared among two or more people. Since you'll be driving to the ship, this wouldn't apply to you (the OP), but just saying. That said, you don't need a designated solo cabin, like NCL's Studio, to sail solo. I cruised in regular porthole cabins on Carnival, and just paid double. Expensive? Yeah, but about the same as a Studio cabin on NCL. What you want to focus on is the onboard atmosphere. Namely, how friendly and welcoming are other passengers, and to a lesser extent the crew, toward solos?
  4. It's not that Freestyle actively encourages cliques, it simply enables them, because it's optimized for groups of people who already know each other. It's not optimized for solos. NCL did some damage control with solo gatherings for Studio and other solo passengers. But it really should have kept the assigned dining option. It would let solos have predetermined dinner companions, rather than make them look like the new kid in the school cafeteria.
  5. That's not entirely correct. Your statement is true only on Journeys cruises. On regular cruises, the MDR is open for breakfast on port days and for brunch on sea days. That it. There hasn't been a true lunch in the MDR since 2014. (With a possible exception of port days when the ship arrives in the afternoon.)
  6. Basic Lipton hot tea is free (included). It tastes meh, but adequate for average Americans. Any nicer teas, which they call "Art of Tea Selections", is extra. I never checked closely, let alone ordered one, but they're probably equivalent to the Bigelow brand (which I drink at home). Either way, they're tea bags, not loose leaf. This is true at all meals, even tea time.
  7. I've been contemplating trying RCI, but this is just... wow! I can't believe a mass-market line is discouraging solos from booking, in a time when even US Customs (which normally has a very backward mindset) pretty much ignored me last time I dealt with them by myself. Basically, RCI became the way MSC and Costa used to be. Well, not entirely: they still show available cabins, they just make solo jump through an extra hoop. Perhaps their IT department wanted to save money by removing a part of the website programming. Oh well, no big loss. I don't like RCI's new ships---they're too big! And their older, smaller ships don't offer anything I'm interested in that I can't find on CCL, which served my solo cruising needs smashingly. Perhaps the repeated good social experiences I had on CCL, which are far outside the cruise line's control, are making me biased. Oh, and it's not too difficult to find solo rates without a mock booking: multiply the double occupancy price by 2.
  8. I couldn't agree more. It seems like in most US cities, especially those outside the East Coast and the Rust Belt, historic sites are something you visit tourist-style, and many locals seldom, if ever, spend time there. That is, there's a historic downtown or a district, and you go there to see it, while the rest of the city is a modern, bland sea of chains and parking lots. But in New Orleans, the city is the history, the history is the city. It's an inherent part of the city's fabric. Without history, it wouldn't be New Orleans; it would be Blandsville, Louisiana. I went to New Orleans several years ago. It's not a cheap place. Although, we stuck to touristy areas, since the city's safety reputation is kind of iffy. We ate most of our meals at the French Market, since it was warm enough to eat outside, despite it being December. We also got snacks and beer at convenience stores. It was cheaper than restaurants, but not as cheap as, say, McDonald's or cooking your own meals. All in all, we spent $40 per person per day on food. Given the huge selection at the French Market, that's where I'd suggest for you and your husband to eat. You can get crawfish ettouffe (sp?) over rice, and your husband can get a roast beef sandwich. Speaking of sandwiches, do try a muffaletta. It's deli meats with an oily, vinegary olive salad, on a flattened crusty bun. That's something all but the pickiest eaters can enjoy.
  9. Wow, that's pretty disconcerting! I've contemplated giving RCI a shot, but now I'm reconsidering. I don't care too much for specialty restaurants, but I do care about excursions. This is reminiscent of Costa and MSC covertly banning solos. What would happen if I entered a fake name to book, say, Wonderland? Would it let me, or do I need a booking number with each name? And can I fake that too? I've been talking negatively about NCL for not having assigning dining, but RCI is even worse here. Especially considering how calling a company is like pulling teeth, with 1-hour hold times and voice recognition systems that don't understand less than 100% perfect pronunciation.
  10. I think 3 solo cruises count as "experienced", so... There should be plenty of opportunities for you to meet new people. I met an incredibly fun group of friends in the piano bar at night. They liked my off-the-wall comments, so they adopted me, and the rest is history. There are also karaokes, trivia contests, and so on. I met them on the second night (the piano bar was closed the first night), so most of my cruise turned out to be being more fun than a barrel on monkeys. I must give props to the pianist. He did an awesome job creating a lively social atmosphere. You will have lonely moments even if you make new friends, so mentally prepare yourself. They're most likely to come up on embarkation night, after dinner and shows ended, but before you meet people to hang out informally with. You can preempt that by carefully reading through the activity newsletter, to find activities that have high odds of bringing people together. Or you can just call it a night early on the first night, to avoid putting yourself in a lonely situation in the first place. I wouldn't be able to help you much with dinner, since lack of assigned dining is the main reason I shy away from NCL. I don't care if I eat breakfast or lunch alone---those meals are "utilitarian" to an extent. But eating dinner alone feels lonely, because it's more of a social meal. Still, as Lois R pointed out, I believe the maitre d' on NCL gives you an option to share a table when you come to the MDR. Perhaps you'll find my Carnival Inspiration review useful. (It's really more of a travelogue than a review.) Read through it when you can. I touched heavily on the social aspects of my solo experience, like watching out for lonely moments, filling downtime, and meeting people. The only difference is that CCL does have assigned dining, which was a big lifesaver for me.
  11. The only West Coast ports I've been to are Catalina and Ensenada. In Catalina, I did a bus tour, where we saw Avalon from the mountaintop, and stopped at the Casino, which is actually a historic movie theater. In Ensenada, I visited La Bufadora, which is an oceanic blowhole, along with a number of other sights around the city. And I realize LA is SF's rival, but I had a great time in Long Beach the day before my cruise. It was my first time on the West Coast. I made it worth my while, and tried In-N-Out Burger for the first time. My review (link in signature) describes all those places.
  12. Set (assigned) dining times are important for me because I cruise solo. While eating breakfast or lunch alone is no big deal, eating dinner alone feels lonely. So I like having a guaranteed set of people to sit and compare the day's notes with. Even if I don't hang out with my tablemates outside of dinner, I do enjoy and appreciate their company. Otherwise, it feels like being the new kid in the school cafeteria. With anytime dining, it either feels lonely eating alone or get tedious from having to newly introduce myself every day.
  13. It looks like I'm younger than most solo cruisers. I'm 36 now, and I was 29 when I first started cruising solo. That just means I'm getting an early start on a really fun vacation type.
  14. OP, your question is really vague. What type of "best advice" are you looking for? Is it suggestions for itineraries to go on or sites to visit? Is it cabin selections, activity choices, and dining ideas? Or is it psychology-type advice, like coping skills for lonely moments? We're a friendly bunch here, but we also prefer to give specific advice, rather than shoot blindly.
  15. I generally avoid the "children on the dance floor" problem by going to the ship's nightclub, which is 18+. Whether I'm busting my own moves or dancing with a friendly lady, it's not a problem in the club, because everyone is close in height. As for dancing on the Lido deck, like the Cupid shuffle and the wobble, I realize it's an all-ages space, and adjust accordingly. Which means keeping my distance from kids to the best of my efforts, plain and simple. If I'm partner dancing, I also refrain from moves that take up a lot of space, like the cross-arm slide in swing, so I don't accidentally slam my dance partner into a kid. The few times I accidentally bumped into a kid, I apologized like I would to an adult, he/she said "it's OK", and all was quickly forgotten. That said, the kids dancing amongst the adults were usually at least elementary school-age, and therefore at least elbow-height. I never saw toddlers dancing alone amongst full-grown adults; they usually held their parent's hand. That's at least true on Carnival. Other lines may or may not have adults-only dance spaces.
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