Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Bad Reviews? What's a cruiser to do?

I've been tracking the reviews on Adventure of the Seas.  We are set to cruise her in February 2016.  I wanted to try the Allure of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's largest ship in the fleet.  (Until Quantum of the Seas rolls out in November.)  I've cruised Adventure's sister ship, Explorer of the Seas, in 2004 and 2005 and loved her. So what's the problem?  

Adventure was second behind Voyager when the premiered.  She is a steel hulled ship with no glass balconies.  That's one issue for me.  My biggest complaint from what I read?  She's looking dated.  When I pay good, hard-earned money to cruise, I expect certain luxuries.  I don't expect to find grayed, fringed towels and sheets.  I expect the furniture to look crisp and clean and not worn and outdated.  The carpet should be clean and not worn in places.  The summation - Adventure needs a true dry-dock overhaul.

Royal Caribbean took her out of service for a quick retrofit this winter.  She hasn't had a real dry-dock overhaul in years.  It's showing. They did put on a new pool deck, updated touch screen technology, and put in a specialty restaurant, Giovanni's Table.  (Italian...a plus!)  That's all good and well, but she needs a total facelift.  

At what point does Royal Caribbean listen to their cruisers?  There are many complaints, MANY complaints.  I am really concerned about cruising this ship.  My friends picked the itinerary and so picked this ship for the southern Caribbean.  I'm excited to see the ports of call on this trip, just wish I could be excited for the ship.  

You have to understand me for a moment.  I cruise by the SHIP, not the ports of call.  The ship is the destination and I could care less if I got off in port.  Seriously.  So what's a cruiser to do?  I will continue to monitor the reviews and keep an ear out for dry-dock talk.  I don't want to disappoint our friends, but if Adventure of the Seas doesn't improve, I may have to cancel this cruise and book on another ship.

Happy (or is it?) Cruising,

Monday, July 14, 2014

So you want to cruise?

As an avid cruiser....(cough...cruise addict) I enjoy helping the cruise world newbies.  There's nothing better than sharing my love (cough...cough...addiction) of cruising with someone.  I can get quite animated (cough...obnoxiously excited) talking about different cruise lines, cruise ships and ports.

It all depends on what you're looking for.  Do you want to get your feet wet by taking a short cruise?  Are you looking for a certain destination or do you want to go all out on a luxury cruise line?

Getting the best results is all about knowing what you want, and just as important, having realistic expectations.  Don't expect perfection, although I have had perfect cruises; and don't expect doom and gloom either.  

One of the most amazing questions that I hear is the worry of getting a)sick, b) stranded in the ocean, or c) gaining weight.  Let's address those issues.

There is the possibility of getting sick anywhere you go.  The Novovirus is not exclusive to cruise ships.  It can happen wherever people gather in large numbers, however, a ship IS a closely-contained unit.  That's why you will find hand-sanitizing stations all over the ship, especially in the dining room.

Getting stranded...I dream of getting stranded as long as there is water, food and air conditioning.  Not the kind of Carnival Cruise Line fame with people being stranded with no toilets, not enough food, etc.  That wouldn't be fun.  The chances of getting stranded are so minimal it's laughable.  Any time you travel you have the chance of getting stranded, but really, what are the odds?  Not very high in my estimation.

Gaining weight.  Now this is has a higher probability of happening.  The food...oh the food!  Not to mention the empty calories in alcoholic drinks.  I recommend losing 5 pounds prior to the cruise.  Then is you gain ten, it's not really that bad.

If you don't cruise for fear that "something" could happen, you will not experience the sheer joy of it.  Cruising isn't for everyone but count me in.  The best times in my life, I've had on the sea.

Happy cruising,

Monday Dreaming...Christmas Cruises

It's Monday, and I'm working.  Ok, apparently I'm writing this and not really working but I'm caught up.

One of my cruise dreams, of which are many, is to take a Christmas cruise. I have many reasons why this would be ideal.

  • The cruise itself would be the gift, therefore, I wouldn't have to go through the hassle of Christmas shopping for our immediate family at least. (And...you could buy them someone on the ship or give money.)
  • Taking the whole family, 3 adult kids, 2 spouses and 3 grands plus hubby and I would really be a dream come true for me.
  • There is something magical about a Christmas decorated ship.  I have seen many pictures and it's just stunning.  
  • I hear the Captain says that something has been sighted and Santa and his sleigh comes by boat to visit all the children and children-at-heart.  (SQUEEE!)
  • Not having to put up a Christmas tree, etc. would be heavenly.
  • Leaving the snow and cold behind is wonderful any time of the year, but at Christmas it would be so magical!
 I could go on and on.  I want this so bad.  I just pray someday we can afford it!!  Santa, did you hear that?  My most important Christmas wish is to see you, in the Caribbean, on a cruise ship.  

Happy cruising...er...dreaming,

From www.cruisemates.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Drydock or Retrofit?

When a ship needs a facelift, she goes into either dry-dock for an extensive makeover or will have a retrofit which is basically a quick fix.

According to www.shipcruise.org, it takes 3 years to build a ship but only 3 weeks to a month for an overhaul. For the cruise line, it's a great chance to update technology, make some cosmetic changes or add new restaurants and shops.  You can imagine the revenue loss during that time but the rewards will be greater when the public cruises on the "new and improved" cruise ship.

So what's a retrofit? It's a refurbishment basically.  Like some cruise ships, they may have cut out a portion of the hull and installed ready made balcony cabins.  This is true on older ships especially when there were few balconies on board. They may add something that is on newer ships but lacking on older ships, like the adult-only Solarium pool. It's a great way to appeal to the cruise audience without having to pay for a huge dry-dock bill.  Time is money.

Adventure of the Seas, of Royal Caribbean's voyager class, recently went into a retrofit.  They added some features found on their Freedom and Oasis class of ships.  Giovanni's table, a fee for use restaurant, was added along with new technology.  Flat screens replaced the older clunky models of televisions, and some old carpeting was replaced.  The pool deck was redone as well as adding a large outdoor movie screen.  She was out of commission for about a month and a half.  Not bad when you consider the many customers she will lure in.

There are things I wish would have been changed.  I would have moved the concierge lounge.  It's currently a windowless closet of a room. Oasis concierge lounges have windows and an indoor-outdoor seating. I would have liked to see the furniture replaced as they are outdated and getting worn.  

However, beggars can't be choosy and I'll enjoy the upgrades on our Adventure cruise in 2016.

Happy Cruising,

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Amazing acts of kindness on every cruise!

I'm a "glass is half full" kind of cruiser.  Because of that trait, I tend to have an amazing time on a cruise.  I know there are those who haven't enjoyed it or have had really horrid things happen to them. (Clothes stolen?  Another story to come!)

The biggest complaint I hear is about the food.  I'm not a foodie and I'm not picky.  

  • The chef cooks for me, that's top-notch in my book.  
  • A waiter wants to BRING the food to me.
  • After my meal the waiter will clean up, bring me dessert and others will wash the thousands of dishes?

Of course there are better meals than others, and not everyone will like what's on the menu.  Know this, you can choose from something that's not on the menu (ask your server) or even from the kids menu if you want something light.  Just because you don't see it doesn't mean it's not available.   

Are you a big eater?  Ask for another meal, another lobster tail, or another steak.  Still hungry?  There are many other food options before and after dinner.

My favorite?  Going to the Royal Promenade and getting a couple ranger cookies (yum!) and milk to take back to the my personal balcony.  Heaven!  

Even better, order room service!  You can get warm chocolate chip cookies and milk.  Happy, Happy!

Remember, not all cruises are the same nor are all cruise lines.  Take the best of what you experienced and forget the bad.  Keep our "picky" sides at home and just relax and enjoy your cruise!

Happy Cruising, Mary

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle of Cruising

Every once in a while you find someone that booked a guarantee cabin (meaning that cabin category or above) but then something weird happens and the person finds out there actually in a lower class than what they booked. 

To me this falls into the "Bermuda triangle of  weird cruise happenings " that happens not very often, but certainly once in a while.

This person was complaining about it on the Cruise Critic boards for Royal Caribbean.  She should've gotten at least a Junior suite if not higher because of her guarantee booking.

The week before the cruise she finds out she is in the balcony state room which is below her booking and makes no sense.  

While this isn't exactly bait and switch, it certainly leaves one to wonder how in the heck did this happen?

Because of the new customer service center that is not housed in the US, there have been all kinds of problems regarding bookings. Is this the norm? Absolutely not. Can it happen? Absolutely so. 

Luckily for this cruiser, she was able to get a large onboard credit on her account to compensate for the mistake and she ended up having a wonderful cruise!

The moral of the story? Double check your booking, call the cruise line if you're not sure, double check your account online and leave nothing to chance.  

By the way, if they can't correct the mistake make sure that you get some kind of compensation, call Travelers United, they will fight on your behalf or call the cruise line corporate office.

Happy Cruising,

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cruise Addicts Read On...

Not sure if most of you would understand this extremely frustrating feeling?

These are my address tags for my suitcases.  It's completely true.  I will do almost anything to cruise. (Hey!  Keep it clean now...)  Sometimes I get this OVERWHELMING desire to cruise.  I can't seem to help it.  After the number of cruises I've been on, (14 with one booked)  you'd think that I would have gotten it out of my system, right?  I'm afraid that's not true.  Today, I've spent the morning trying to price a 5 night cruise for either early December or March of 2015.  Now I know that I can't go...but it's just that I have such a yearning to go.  Like an addict, the need to cruise is so overwhelming that while my brain ticks off the many to-do lists for my home, my heart only sees one thing, a future cruise.  

I'm sure I drive my hubby insane with it.  Patient man, that one!  He loves to cruise but not in the obsessive way that I do.  Here's my office at work for example.

I truly have a sickness...I'm a cruising addict. I have to send myself to cruisers anonymous.  Hi, my name is Mary and I'm an addict!

Happy Cruising!