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About OceansOfTravels

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Annapolis, MD, USA
  • Interests
    Olympic History, Urban Development, Language Learning, Traveling
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    St. Maarten, Marseille or San Juan

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  1. This is EXACTLY what I wanted to hear! I am going to write this down in our cruise plan right now, and that is how we'll spend the day in Aruba in January. Thank you so much for your help! 😄
  2. Yes I am! It's actually my first Royal cruise in ages, and I have never been to any of the ports, so I am very excited. Hopefully you do a little Q&A or something after Explorer because I'll likely have many questions. Really don't know what to expect so I'm both excited and nervous!
  3. I love that quote, it's so true! Looks like you're in for a great cruise, hopefully you come back and let us all know how it was
  4. Glad to see you're making the jump! I was super loyal to Carnival but I tried the Divina and I have been hooked ever since (even though I am cheating on MSC with Royal in January :D) One thing I will definitely say is a little different is the clientele. Maybe you're used to this with Royal if you've cruised them out of a homeport that is not in North America, but a large chunk of the ship, and on some sailings, even from the USA, even the majority, will not be American. So expect different cultural customs and vibes on the ship. For example, you're hear some music you haven't heard before in the clubs and from the onboard singers, you'll see some food on the buffet you don't eat often, and you're frequently hear languages like Spanish, Italian, German, French, and Chinese, both from passengers and from the announcements. If this doesn't bother you, or you have cruised outside of American waters before, then you should be fine. But many negative MSC reviews that I read seem to have this focus on a failed attempt to "Americanize" the ship, but why would they do that? They don't advertise themselves to be American, so don't expect that. However, I really love the diverse passenger base, and that's actually something that attracts me, so to each his own! As for the shade, MSC loungers often have the movable top so you can certainly shade your head and hair, while leaving your body exposed. This makes reading and preventing facial sunburn very easy. However, since the newer MSC ships are very long and have many open decks, you can likely find a completely covered sunbed - maybe just a little bit away from the pool itself. The loungers near the pool are typically full, and have no sort of shade/coverage, so if you're sensitive, you may want to migrate away from the pool. Don't worry, though, because MSC has showers up and down the decks, and hot tubs sometimes as well. I think (and hope) you will be pleasantly surprised with MSC, I really hope you enjoy it!
  5. I'd easily choose Divina. As others have stated, Victory will be a party ship. If that's not the vibe you're going for, you might as well just skip over it. Also, the Divina is such a classy vessel, as is much larger/newer, so you're going to get a much more luxe experience. I prefer the food on MSC over that of Carnival, but I do agree that Carnival tends to present more options away from the MDR and Lido. However, MSC is an international line so the food in the MDR and Buffet tends to be more varied. The cabins on Divina have been the largest cabins I've ever had while at sea. so while it is only a 3 day trip, I most certainly think it's worth it. You'll get to experience the new Ocean Cay, which could be a nice experience. Plus, Freeport needs to visitors and tourist $$ after the storm. Most definitely going with Divina here, hopefully you do as well!
  6. Enjoy your holiday! I love the Divina!
  7. Now that you mention bringing a floating lounger .... that may be the plan for my next MSC cruise 😉
  8. Hello! I'm excited that you started this thread, I will be on Explorer in January and I have a few questions 1) Can you ice skate in the rink, or is it only for shows? Like do they ever host open skating? If so, is there a cost associated with it, and what would I need to bring? (ie socks, shoes, etc) 2) Did you try any of the uncharge restaurants? Did you like them? 3) Any "secret decks" or "explorer hacks" that you found? I'm talking any special places to chill out, secret items at a coffee shop, or anything special 4) What were some of the typical activities offered on sea days? Were you happy with the amount to do onboard? I have four days at sea on this itinerary so I am wondering what will be in store for me. Thank you so much in advance for your help, I'm really excited to cruise the Explorer and make my return to Royal for the first time in many years!
  9. Hello, We will be in Aruba for the day in January. Since Aruba is both very touristy and very expensive, we have decided to use our day in Aruba to go to a beach bar/club, and maybe do some shopping in the town, and save our big excursion money for Curacao and Bonaire. What are everyone's favorite beach bars in Aruba? We are primarily leaning towards a bar on either Arashi, Eagle or Palm Beach, because we have read that we can take the bus to them from the ship, but if anyone has another bar that isn't on one of those three beaches that is worth the trip, let me know. We aren't looking for a hotel day pass because they are expensive, but we would prefer beach bars that have wifi, chairs/umbrellas to rent, and maybe food/drink nearby. Just a nice place to spend the day, as the photos of there beaches in Aruba look beautiful. Thank you in advance to anyone that helps, any suggestion is appreciated! 😄
  10. THANK YOU!!! This is amazing information, I am a big public transportation enthusiast so I enjoyed reading this, and definitely plan to employ a bust in one or both of these ports when I go in January depending on what we decide to do. While I have your attention, you mentioned Arashi Beach. I looked up pictures and it looks absolutely gorgeous! We have never been to Aruba, but given how it's A) very touristy and B) very expensive, we were just thinking of making this our beach day and finding us a nice beach club. Does Arashi have any beach clubs? We don't need advanced beach clubs, but we do enjoy when they have wifi and chairs/umbrellas to rent. It's also nice if they have drinks and food to buy as well. Does Arashi have these, and you do have a favorite? If not, do you know of any good ones? Thank you in advance for your help!
  11. This would make sense though and I always wondered why they weren't more vigilant about it. Martinique is an Overseas Collectivity of France, which basically just means it's like Puerto Rico to the USA, except with more rights and legal representation. Their official language is French, they use the Euro, and people born in Martinique can play for France in the Olympics and World Cup. The flight from Fort-de-France to Paris is domestic, and technically would not require a passport to complete. Therefore, you would be able to enter Metropolitan French territory without a passport, which is not only a problem for France, but for the entire EU and Schengen zone. I know it's dramatic, but it makes sense. This also is another reason why Martinique has fallen out of favor with the American lines and is not featured on many of the prominent sailings, especially with CCL, RCI and NCL. It's kind of a small price you have to pay if you want to visit Martinique, but I cannot blame them. This also shows you why European lines base their ships in Martinique, Guadeloupe, Barbados and La Romana in the winter and do not call on St.Thomas and San Juan, because the US government requires everyone to have a passport with permission to enter the USA (if they're not from one of the areas where we have a 90 day grace period with no visa like Europe), and all must go through US Immigration, which occurs onboard. I think it's a fair trade off, and the French officials are not wrong for becoming stricter with this. I know the USA officials set up entire immigration procedures in the theaters and atriums of ships just trying to port in St.Thomas for the day that did not start in the USA, so I can't knock them for it.
  12. Empress is an amazing ship and I enjoyed my cruise on her very much (much more so for the price I paid, but still a great ship nonetheless 😁) The rooms are definitely small, I have an OV cabin on Deck 3. We had only two people, so no needs for bunk beds, but I do remember the shower being small. Nevertheless, not only was it a last minute vacation, but I am a huge Olympic enthusiast and artifact collector, and Rio 2016 started while I was onboard. so I have good memories of watching the Opening Ceremony while on the ship. While small, the crew definitely works to plan many fun activities, so you may not even be in the cabin for very long. All in all, not only would I sail on Empress again, but I would like to, considering she'll be cruising from NJ (so I can drive), and to the smaller ports in Bermuda like Hamilton and St.George because she can fit!
  13. If you want a nice place in Cozumel, Paradise Beach Club is an amazing beach club with all the facilities you could need - a pool, a spacious beach area, bathrooms, changing facilities, food/drink, and wifi - all for a $3 admission price. They just ask you to spend $10 while on the complex in food/drink, so you could easily do this with drinking. Taxi rate should be about $20 total. But, if even that is still a lot, you could still have a nice beach day in Roatan by taking a taxi to West Bay Beach ($25 roundtrip) and laying out towels. That is what my friend and I did on the Armonia earlier this summer when we went, because this was a nice cheap way to spend the day. And, since we were there from about 1PM-5PM, 4 hours was the perfect amount of time to just be laying on a towel and not have the towel get soaked/start to feel uncomfortable. Beware of Costa Maya though, aside from shopping at the cookie cutter stores or chilling at the pool area they made, there isn't a very "cheap" option (aside from maybe a beach day or a trip to the local city of Mahaual). I really don't like this port for that reason. Others have stated above about Key West's walkability and free bus for tourists that will take you to the tourist areas. Key West can be a great port for staying on a budget!
  14. They didn't for the FIFA Women's World Cup, and not because they didn't want to, but where were were sailing, there was no broadcast available. We were sailing through the Gulf of Mexico and no country in the area had qualified, so there wasn't a pressing need to get it on the TV channels (I was also cruising through Group stage, I heard they aired the final). So, if you're sailing through the Med, you may or may not have satellite service, as England and France adore Rugby and will be big teams to watch in the tournament. Best of luck to whoever your team is, I'll be cheering for the USA and their (inevitably short) campaign 😄
  15. I would say to keep your room if you don't like motion, you have an ideal location plus one of the retrofitted rooms with the newer balconies from the Evolutions upgrade. Moving to Deck 11 will decrease your balcony size and increase the amount of motion your experience. Have a good cruise!
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