Posts tagged cruise
Grandeur of the Seas

With my cruise to Cuba ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡บ behind me it is now time to add one more country to my list of visited countries, and possibly it will be the last addition for a while, Bermuda ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฒ. Itโ€™s a short cruise, only 5 nights, but Iโ€™m doing back to back this time round, with 9 nights to New England and Canada ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ (where Iโ€™m hoping to get some relief from the relentless tropical ๐ŸŒด Caribbean sun). 

The sailaway from Baltimore was a long one, but with a sunset at around 20:30, it meant we could enjoy the views around the Chesapeake Bay for quite some time. 

It was near sunset when I was sitting in the Centrum, watching the cruise director staff and guests participate in games, I glanced over at the windows to see many guests gathering to enjoy the final solar performance for the day. And what a spectacular sunset ๐ŸŒ… it was. 

Canโ€™t do this on  Quantum  or  Oasis  class

Canโ€™t do this on Quantum or Oasis class

The Grandeur of the Seas may be old, but like the other Vision class and Radiance class ships ๐Ÿ›ณ you can really take in the views from many places from within the ship. You know you are at sea. 

Another benefit of these smaller ships, within the first few hours of the cruise, I had found 4 staff whom I had met from different ships on previous cruises. And for me that is a true highlight. 

I was on the Harmony for 3 weeks when I finally ran into one of my favourite bar lasses from my time on the Explorer. I had no idea she was onboard, and I didnโ€™t see here again.  

The more I cruise, i increasingly find myself attracted to the smaller ships. And it concerns me that Royal Caribbean havenโ€™t  announced anything to replace Vision or Radiance class vessels. 

(My Majesty of the Seas post is written, I just need to proof read it some more and make those final touches before I can get it posted). 

The Worst Day on a Cruise. ๐Ÿ›ณ
Sail Away... Let's Dance! dance

Sail Away... Let's Dance! dance

There is something about cruising that engenders genuine excitement. Think kids at Christmas like! Your cruising friends start posting countdowns on Facebook and/or Twitter. There are a range of sites and apps which will do it for you. Why is cruising so exciting? Iโ€™d argue itโ€™s because the moment you get on board, you are on vacation. From this aspect itโ€™s different to any other holiday. Normally if you are going anywhere you have to fly โœˆ๏ธ , and flying sucks ๐Ÿ˜ž !  Dealing with airport security ๐Ÿšจ , immigration ๐Ÿ‘ฎ , leg space ๐Ÿ’บ, the monotony of sitting in an aluminium tube for hours on end, farting neighbours ๐Ÿ’จ, and very ordinary food ๐Ÿฅ˜ . Flying - no thanks!! Itโ€™s only benefit, it makes getting to where you are vacationing quickly ๐Ÿ›ซ ๐Ÿ›ฌ. 

But cruising ๐Ÿ›ณ is different. Yes, you have the security and immigration, but the moment you set foot on board your holiday has begun ๐Ÿ˜Š . The bars are open ๐Ÿป ๐Ÿท , there is entertainment ๐ŸŽถ ๐Ÿ’ƒ, the buffet ๐Ÿด is in full swing. And thereโ€™s the ship ๐Ÿšข to explore ๐Ÿ˜Ž!! A week or more (I do not understand short cruises) of no work, cooking, cleaning. Have you checked-in to the ship? Sure, but more importantly, you have checked-out of reality.

Normally in the late afternoon, early evening the ship will then make itโ€™s way from port, and you get to enjoy the sail away! Take in the views, with a drink ๐Ÿธ, party ๐ŸŽŠ. That evening when you head to bed, your stateroom attendant will prepared your room for the evening, and on your bed is the ships newsletter, The Cruise Compass, with all the information of what and where tomorrows events and activities are happening on the ship. 

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You will probably also come face to face with a towel creature. These delightful little art forms are a cruising staple. With monkeyโ€™s ๐Ÿ’ , bats๐Ÿฆ‡ , elephants ๐Ÿ˜ , dogs ๐Ÿ• , and many more, carefully constructed and placed on your bed ๐Ÿ›  welcoming you to your room for the night. (On a personal note, I now instruct my stateroom attendant not to bother with the creatures. My room just gets filled up with towel animals, it takes the attendants time, and creates extra laundry, and after 200 nights on board, I am pretty sure I have seen almost every variety of them at this time. But they are one of cruising little pleasures, so no judgement by me if you enjoy them). 

In addition to your towel critters, you may come back to your room to find chocolates, fruit, wine, certificates, tickets, or any other manner of things which are all designed to enhance your experience. Yes, it may just be a flyer for the spa, or a certificate to use in the casino. But they are all in aid of the cruise. But little do you suspect that lurking somewhere on the ship is your departure survey, and at some stage this nasty reminder that reality does exist will find its way to your room. It is included in the other paraphernalia on your bed. But departure is still many days away, and after you fill in the survey, this little break in reality continues.

And yet, the magic bubble just feels a little diminished, a little less sparkly for the intrusion into your reality free zone. Little do you suspect at this time, that the real threat to your cruise is just around the corner.

And then with 2-3 nights left you come back to your room to this...

๐Ÿ˜ญ Departure Luggage Tag Day, it sucks!

๐Ÿ˜ญ Departure Luggage Tag Day, it sucks!

And bubble the bursts. Reality is imminent. The departure forms, instructions and luggage tags. There is even a shift in the atmosphere on board. People who you may have only met in the elevator, with some passing joke on its stopping at every level, or the mystical express ride, the little old lady you have been talking to in the buffet almost every day, yet still donโ€™t know her name, and the pool bar fly you discuss the sea conditions with, the countdown to probably never meeting again has begun. Farewells are on the tip of your tongue, for you donโ€™t know when it is the last meeting. 

With the magic cruise bubble burst, your vacation is almost over. At least when you are flying, the vacation bursts at the airport. 

There is one exception - when you just can't wait to get off the ship. For whatever reason it is, a plethora of bad guests (there needs to be a collective noun for these people, I nominate โ€œa killjoyโ€), a GI outbreak, or perhaps you just havenโ€™t enjoyed it; these departure luggage tag days may just be the sweet relief you desire. 

Whatโ€™s your worse day on the cruise? Has departure luggage tag day ever give you sweet relief?

Food Glorious Food!

While my lot isn't nearly as tough as a 19th Century orphan, spending in excess of 180 days in the past 8 months on board Royal Caribbean has me empathising with Oliver and his fellow orphans. 

To put it frankly I am done with RCI's food (with some exceptions). Too salty, too fatty, too rich, and too boring! Every ship is the same, every menu is the same. A couple of cruises ago I purchased the deluxe food package, thinking have the specialty dining every night and for sea day lunches would help. But it just made things worse. 

With a few exceptions, I really don't like the specialty restaurants on board these ships. Izumi's is the worst Japanese food I think I have ever eaten. Giovanni's is uninspired Italian (is it Italian?), Chops (the steak house) is very good, but I can not eat there anymore, I need to give it a rest.

On board Ovation they have Wonderland, which is excellent. and Jaimie's Kitchen (another Italian? restaurant). The pasta is exceptional, the sauces are way too salty or rich. On some of the other ships like Allure they have Sabor, the Mexican restaurant. This is by far my favourite place to eat onboard, unfortunately it is only on some ships. 

Radiance had Samba, a Brazilian BBQ restaurant, which I quite liked, but it was just more meat; adding to my red meat intake didn't help anything. 

I know many of my readers will disagree with me about some restaurants. Especially Izumi's, as it seems to be very popular, but I lived in Japan for the best part of the first 2 decades 21st Century and I guess I want the real thing. My local sushi place in Hokkaido, with its $2-$4 plates of sushi, is way way way better than the extremely ordinary at best sushi in Izumi. 

The Deluxe food package was wasted as I ended up going to Chops every night. (NO MORE RED MEAT!)

Windjammer (RCI's buffet) is ok. I get to pick and choose from a variety of dishes, and it's casual dining on top (so no formal nights for me).  A spot of curry and rice, and/or some salad. I might mix in the occasional hamburger for variety. Breakfast is normally an omelette with veggies. 

The Promenade Cafe or Park Cafe or Sorrento's (depending on which ship your on) has all you can eat pizza, which is about 1 small slice/cruise (it's very very very ordinary pizza). The cafes also have cookies, the oatmeal raisin cookie is probably the best thing on board (although the Radiance's cookies were all very disappointing). 

As for skipping the dining room, the biggest problem with that, I don't get to have dinner with anybody. I am just that lonely sole in the Windjammer, who just has his dinner and leaves. 

When we hit port I am almost always off the ship to find a cafe or restaurant where I get to sample something different. Some Thai curry, or a kebab, a sandwich on sourdough, just anything different and more interesting than what's on board.

If you have ever wondered how most of the staff don't put on weight, and hopefully I will take some off, it's because we are all over the food. We eat just enough to get us through the day. 

Honestly as we get into the business end of my living back to back (almost) on cruises (15 down, 21 to go), I really don't know what I am going to do about food on board. It is clearly one of the biggest challenge's of living onboard. 

First Cruise for 2018 - Cruise 14 & 15 Radiance of the Seas
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The next big adventure is onboard the class namesake Radiance of the Seas. Last year I sailed on her slightly newer sister ship - the Serenade of the Seas. It's one of Royal Caribbeans smaller ships, but with over 2000 guests, she is still a big ship.

The Serenade is one of my favourite ships. There is a level of intimacy you just don't find on Royal Caribbeans larger floating villages. So I imagine Radiance will be its equal in this regard. But there are other factors to what makes a great cruise. I will just have to wait and see how this one shapes up.

Itinerary - CRUISE 15

  • Auckland ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • Bay of Islands ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • Tauranga ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Wellington ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • Akaroa ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • Port Chalmers (Dunedin) ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Melbourne ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Port Kembla ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
  • Newcastle ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
  • Sydney ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ

Itinerary - CRUISE 14

  • Sydney ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Noumea ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡จ
  • Mare Isle ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡จ
  • Lifou Isle ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡จ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Suva ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ
  • Lautoka ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ
  • ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Vav'U ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด
  • Nuku'Alofa ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด
  • ๐ŸŒŠ๐ŸŒŠ
  • Auckland ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ

Finally, one of the best rewards I can get.  ย 

Finally, one of the best rewards I can get.

ย 

Some big milestones on these cruises. I will reach 364 points. That means I get another milestone "brick" (an etched glass block). 

But the biggest reason to celebrate, and one that will have a rather large effect on all future cruises. At 340 points you gain access to "single supplement fare reduce to 150%" no more double fares for me ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿผ.

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