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  I expect the furniture to look crisp and clean and not worn and outdated.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,