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About Moonarino

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  1. The limitation with B2B's (which I was almost desperate to try) is they don't offer the port choices we're getting on the 10-day Sky Princess cruise that we've booked for next fall (eastern Caribbean). With that cruise we're hitting 3 or 4 ports that we've never managed to get to in 13 cruises -- 6 different ports total, not including FLL embark/debark. The only other cruise that took us south of St Kitts (and out of the all-too-typical routes) was an 8-day southern Caribbean on Carnival Breeze. All I'm getting at is that itinerary is what finally drove me to book a Princess cruise. But of course the Med (and beyond) is a completely different thing. So many ports can be hit on a "short" 5-7 day cruise, starting in the middle or on either end -- there's no comparison.
  2. Following, thanks for doing this! Edit (hope you'll catch this): I've gotta ask, considering your screen name: How's the coffee? The complementary plus any gourmet offerings if you've tried them?
  3. Great finding this "live" report on Sky Princess! I booked us for a 10-day Caribbean on Sky for next November -- just days before departing for our 4th RCI cruise, LOL. (Disappointed again, even worse than last time. I'm done with RCCL.) Love the pics! Following . . . been thinking about trying Princess for years, shoulda done it a long time ago.
  4. I just noticed, with the kiddos I'm sure you'll be tipping more for stateroom(s) and dining. You might want to figure $100 plus. But do bear in mind, all of that tipping is optional, your choice, in consideration of the per-day Gratuities you'll get charged by default. I always tip extra for good service, in comparison to the really bad service we sometimes get. And a little extra advice, which others might agree or not: We always slip our room attendant maybe a $10 bill (for one stateroom) no later than Day 2, as incentive to do a good job. Usually by the end of the cruise we'll tip more.
  5. Some folks will say more (maybe a lot more), but for on-ship tips I get by just fine with about $60. That allows $20 for a decent room steward, $20-30 or so for MDR wait staff, and the rest for miscellaneous (drinks, etc), which isn't usually necessary because they automatically add an 18% gratuity for every drink you buy. YES cash for onshore. A lot of people will scream "paranoid" about this, but I've been hit twice with credit card fraud right after a cruise (one was definitely in Mexico, probably a cafe or pharmacy). My card company covered all the fraudulent charges, but it was a pain in the backside. Not to mention a little scary. Maybe you can trust using a credit card at one of the duty-free stores at port (like for larger purchases), but as for many of the shops outside the port area, I highly recommend cash only. For cafe lunches while onshore, you can typically expect prices about the same or maybe a little higher than at home.
  6. Wish I'd had one of those when I got stranded in Spain a few years ago. Lol... sheesh... Thanks from me too, sounds like a must-have from here forward.
  7. Re your last, yeah, that's why I appreciated those older "too-soft" mattresses. They were acceptable compensation for a less-than-optimum platform underneath. On top of chronic sciatica, I was recently informed of a compressed disc in my lumbar. Anticipating a week of back and hip pain from a too-hard mattress is very close to being enough to make me cancel the cruise. I seriously hope RCI does something about these mattresses before our cruise next fall. Acknowledging a problem is one thing, fixing it is another thing.
  8. Thanks for the review Badfinger, Breeze is my (our) #1 favorite ship and will give it another go in the near future. Only one cruise for us on Breeze and that was four years ago, so hopefully no "bordering on routine" for us yet. Same here! Compared to Miami, FLL or NOLA, Port Canaveral is just a hop and a skip for us.
  9. Moonarino

    Grand Turk

    Tram sounds cool. I missed that in all my excursion shopping. I think you can rent several types of personal transportation -- golfcarts as mentioned, also bicycles, jeeps (I think?) ... It's a small island, so no big worries about getting lost. Grand Turk can definitely be a fun/relaxing/do-nothing beach port, so if you can't find an excursion to your liking, I'm betting you'll enjoy the stop anyway. The cruise port: Some good maps (including downloadable PDFs) -- in the bottom map, note the snorkeling spots off the southern tip, very close to the Cruise "Center": https://www.visittci.com/grand-turk/maps
  10. Anybody who's paying more through a TA needs to find another TA. I've used 2 different online TAs and both times got the same or a better price than Carnival (or RCI) was quoting (total price incl. taxes and port fees), and on my latest booking I got a rate a few bucks cheaper (same exact room) plus an extra $50 OBC. That doesn't happen all that often -- I've shopped nearly a dozen other TAs -- but I think you're more likely to "get lucky" with independent TAs than dealing with any cruise line directly.
  11. The link, yeah. My 2012 car with stock GPS (with AM/FM/SAT bands) is "busy" enough, but the aftermarket radio I installed in my truck has 3 preset groups for XM. The button to change preset groups is a very small item on a very big GPS-size screen. I'm not knocking cellphone-use laws at all; I thoroughly agree with regulating use. Just saying there's also plenty else for drivers to get stupid about while flying 60-80 mph down a busy road. I'm sure everybody posting here knows exactly how busy I-95 can be, and in fact I've been rear-ended twice on that highway (during one of those unexpected traffic slowdowns) because the idiot behind me wasn't watching the road. You can't regulate stupidity, sad to say.
  12. That "large area" is usually well occupied. That "large area" on one side of one deck on a very large ship. Did you mean the "other" passengers? In case you haven't been informed correctly, the people who use that smoking area are paying passengers too.
  13. I more or less agree with that question too. I personally don't see how it's any more dangerous to answer a call (a quick sweep), hold the phone to your ear and talk, than it is to look away from the road to tune a 21st-century radio with a gazillion buttons or pushpads. But that's not illegal anywhere that I know of (and I've hit 41 of the 50 states). But on the other hand, I am infernally irritated when a driver in front of me in the far left lane can't keep his/her speed up -- completely out of mind as to the primary task at hand, "can't walk and chew gum at the same time". Texting while driving is just plain idiotic. That's one prohibition I wish would be enforced to the hilt.
  14. Chris, thanks so much for this and the blog. I've been thinking about trying Indy for years and finally booked a cruise for next year, so naturally your thread title caught my interest. Your reaching out on this board makes me a little nostalgic regarding my first cruise (Carnival Triumph 2008), where the crew ("from 65 countries") were extremely accessible and I made some great friends in a very short time. I guess it's changed a little since then, but that first cruise spoiled me -- to the point that my attitude toward cruising is "We're all in it together" (whether I'm on a crew-friendly ship or not). Ship's crew are people too! And great to know you don't expect any flak from your bosses for doing this. It's probably long odds that you'll still be on Indy when we cruise her late next year, but if you are, we'll definitely try to find you and say hello. Keep us posted, here or on the blog? I'll comment there too when I have a minute. PS/sidebar: Yeah, English ... and I daresay as a former ESL teacher, your fellow crew members who haven't mastered English ("the business language of the world") should be encouraged to learn it as well as they can, as fast as they can, because I'm 99.999% sure they have very little chance of ever getting meaningful promotions without being proficient in English.
  15. Thanks for the tip irishgal. We drive thru Georgia at least 2-3 times a year. We've had a no-texting law here in NC for 10 or more years, but it's not enforced nearly enough. Maybe it's a secondary offense here too, but it really, Really, REALLY needs to be primary, and it really needs to be strictly enforced.
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