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irishgal432

President's Cruise Star Class Review-3rd Times a Charm!

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We disembarked yesterday and am slowly recovering from the week long party. I was thinking about doing a live review, but could not compete with Rick and John and to be honest, I am old and have a hard time typing on my phone. :D

 

This was our 3rd President's Cruise. We booked this cruise on last years cruise and the only Star Class left was the A2, so we decided to book it with another couple that we met while cruising.

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Great. You need to be quick, something about read only on CC for a few days next week. It's in the stickies.

 

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

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Nov. 2, 2019 on the Symphony out of Miami. It is also the 50th birthday of Royal Caribbean and they are having a birthday bash celebration.

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I'm back!  I wanted to wait until CC came back as I thought that you would no longer be able to post on threads once it was shut down.

 

Back to the regularly scheduled review.

 

As I said before there were some great live reviews and photos from John and Rick.  A great thanks, as it does take time out of a vacation to do these.  I was thinking about how to review this sailing.  A President's Cruise is a relative new sailing and many posters here and on FB always ask what is different and what is it like.  I decided that it won't be a normal day by day, but rather a comparison to other Presidents Cruises as well as a comparison to other Star Class sailings.  

 

Three years ago, they announced the 1st President's Cruise.  It was rather low key without a lot of fanfare.  It was scheduled to depart on September 11, 2016.  I booked as it normally is a time when we sail and I like the Oasis class ships.  A few weeks later like all things Royal, they changed the date and price protected your room.  Come to find out later, they did not want to set sail and have a big celebration on September 11.  We booked and were ready to go!  We had booked a Grand Suite.  While waiting to board we met another couple from my hometown and my husband and the other gentleman were both in the same occupation.    We talked with them and other couples and they announced the 2nd Presidents cruise on Freedom on September 16, 2017 in the Mediterranean. We booked that one on board and flew into Barcelona the next year.  They had announced the 3rd one prior to that sailing and I booked again.  Since I had booked with the in the glory days before the non-refundable suite deposit went into effect, I was able to cancel the cruise and we decided to share the 2 bedroom AQ suite with our friends.

 

One year later we finally landed in Fort Lauderdale and headed to the port to embark on the 3rd President's Cruise which would be touted as better than all others.

 

In between the 2 President's Cruise I was able to sail in Star Class and knew what to expect and what level of service to receive.

 

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I know with the institution  of the Star Class, there were some growing pains,  even our genie said initially the staff and crew on board did not know the program. Many of the bugs and procedures have been worked out, but still varies from ship to ship.  

 

I will have to say Ft. Lauderdale has a pretty nice set up and I am sure Miami will also be nice when Symphony arrives. When we arrived at 10:30  the Uber driver took us all the way to the Star class banner that was near a luggage cart.  No confusion of where to go or what to do with our bags.  There was a separate porter that put the tags on and put all of the Star class bags on the same cart.  Off to check-in.  The whole process from curb to the escalator to was about 6 minutes.  We were told that our genie Araceli would meet us in the Star Class seating area.

 

On the 1st President's Cruise boarding was delayed as they were clearing the ship and they had a Caribbean band/dance team preforming for everyone.  I do not think boarding starting until about 11:45, the same with Barcelona, boarding was delayed a bit.  

 

No problem, this was a great time to catch up with our friends.  FLL had a great STAR class seating area with drinks and snacks until they call boarding or for you to wait for your genie to escort you on the ship.  We came up the escalators and saw Lisa who said Araceli was with another guest leaving and she would be here in a moment and to enjoy a seat. Seat?  What seat?  There was not a seat to be had.  This was pretty much an ongoing theme.  When I say there was not a seat to be had, there was one table.  It was standing room only with bags and people. Lisa was still there with guest and was apologetic about the situation, but as we were speaking to her, the B2B's came through and they were about to announce boarding.  Lisa said she would escort on board and we would meet up with Araceli.  Thanks Lisa.  They then announced boarding.  If anyone has ever been to a Black Friday the Day after Thanksgiving Sale when the doors opened this is what it looked like.  Every single person got up and bolted to the entrance.  Man, I thought the ship was going to leave without them the way they were moving.

 

In the past they had red carpet on the gangway going to the ship and red carpet on the steps leading up to the gangway in Barcelona.  They did not have it on the gangway but in the entrance to the ship.  Still lots of fresh flowers were scattered around the ship.  Very nice touches.  

 

We then boarded with Lisa and met our wonderful Araceli on the Promenade.  She told us our room wasn't quite ready as they were deep cleaning and she said she would take us to the suite lounge.  All of the genies have a magic elevator key. She got an empty elevator and used her key to whisk us all the way to 17.  Since all of us had been in Star class before we knew the routines, but since some of the details about the President's cruise were not finalized before, she did not send us a dining or show schedule ahead of time.  She wanted to review it with us.  We enter the Suite Lounge to find a seat and go over the schedule.  Seat? What seat?  We finally found one at the very end which was the last seat available.  As more people came in, they were all standing around.  As soon a someone got up, it was the finding the golden table at the Windjammer.  I am surprised a brawl did not start.  This was something that was very out of the ordinary on the past cruises on Oasis class.  It is normally a nice area to wait until rooms were ready that you could grad a drink and have some snacks.

 

I will have to say that the hor dourves and buffets were 1000% better than the past 2 President's Cruises.  They really stepped it up.  There were apps from several speciality restaurants as well as  fabulous breakfast buffet items.  Another thing they did was to bring in more bar servers.  I would assume they brought extra wait staff in for Coastal Kitchen, but we only ate breakfast there occasionally.  Service was excellent.  They were also supposed to have an additional concierge, but he had to leave due to a death in the family.

 

 

Edited by irishgal432

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27 minutes ago, irishgal432 said:

 

No problem, this was a great time to catch up with our friends.  FLL had a great STAR class seating area with drinks and snacks until they call boarding or for you to wait for your genie to escort you on the ship.  We came up the escalators and saw Lisa who said Araceli was with another guest leaving and she would be here in a moment and to enjoy a seat. Seat?  What seat?  There was not a seat to be had.  This was pretty much an ongoing theme.  When I say there was not a seat to be had, there was one table.  It was standing room only with bags and people. Lisa was still there with guest and was apologetic about the situation, but as we were speaking to her, the B2B's came through and they were about to announce boarding.  Lisa said she would escort on board and we would meet up with Araceli.  Thanks Lisa.  They then announced boarding.  If anyone has ever been to a Black Friday the Day after Thanksgiving Sale when the doors opened this is what it looked like.  Every single person got up and bolted to the entrance.  Man, I thought the ship was going to leave without them the way they were moving.

 

 

View from the B2B crossing. 😆 I recognize some.

20181020_100756.jpg

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Irishgal I’m looking forward to more. The President’s cruise seems interesting but I have a suspicion that the issues you bring forward, will be the same things that I would notice.

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32 minutes ago, John&LaLa said:

View from the B2B crossing. 😆 I recognize some.

20181020_100756.jpg

You guys must have just been passing.  Several of the people had gotten up to see their friends going by and to get ready to board.  There were way more people when we first got there.  We should have just sat in the Suite section where there was plenty of room to sit as a group.  Now that I think about it, what time was your B2B lunch?  Maybe that is why the SL was so crowded as well.  All of the B2B Suite and Pinnacles and the new batch of Suite and Pinnacles were in the lounge at the same time when first boarding.  We were not in there very long so it may have thinned out.

Edited by irishgal432

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We get to see Araceli and Sebastian this week, but we are not sailing Star.  We are going to catch up with them for a milkshake along the way. 

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Our room was ready.  We were in an A1 Aquatheater Suite.  Many people say it is a long way and inconvenient.  Although the CL and GS/OS are center in the ship and have easy access to the elevators. the A1 walk really wasn't bad except if you started in the front of the ship.

 

It was my birthday on boarding day and our Genie had our room decorated and had a card waiting.  Very nice touch since I did not even tell her it was my birthday.  In fact every time I got a drink or purchase the entire week the person would say Happy Birthday.  Kind of a nice touch.

 

Our room was deep cleaned.  It made me wonder what happened previously to have to be deep cleaned. lol  

 

We had our room stocked with soda, 2 types of water, 3 different beers, juices and a bottle of champagne.  My friend wanted bananas, coconut ranger cookies and chocolate covered strawberries delivered daily and 2 shots of Grey Goose.  

 

Wishes easily granted.  If you want something it magically appears, but be careful if you wish for something alot of it comes.

 

For anyone staying in this room, take a few moments each day to enjoy the balcony.  It was a little loud but not too bad with all of the Boardwalk activity.  There is also a side ocean view with a few chairs and ottomans that is a quiet respite.

 

Our luggage was delivered and we were unpacked by 12:00 and were ready to explore the ship.

 

In the past President's cruises, when boarding people were handed champagne, but I honestly cannot recall if this happened.  Someone during the week mentioned that it did not happen.

 

They also had a huge banner for Photo Ops with the Presidents Cruise Logo on the Promenade.  Fun little touches like that make the President's cruise special.

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33 minutes ago, A&L_Ont said:

Irishgal I’m looking forward to more. The President’s cruise seems interesting but I have a suspicion that the issues you bring forward, will be the same things that I would notice.

Not big issues, and absolutely no issues with our genie, just a lot of issue how RCCL handled some things.

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One of the nicest thing about cruising you meet so many people that you can reconnect with when cruising again.  The marketing material for this cruise read "Join us for the opportunity to embark on an epic voyage with Royal Caribbean President and CEO, Michael Bayley. As a member of the Crown & Anchor Society, you will enjoy special events and exclusive activities and gifts only available to our loyal members."    I missed the upper tier party so I do not have official counts of the numbers of  the individual tiers, hopefully someone can fill that in for me, but there were a lot of higher level D, D+ and P.  Basically if you have cruised before you more than likely run into someone you had cruised with before no matter the level.

 

This was certainly the case,  I saw so many people that I have cruised with before,  If was fun trying to remember what cruise. As a Star Class guest, one of the perks is the expert party planner.  We had met on past President's Cruises 2 couples who were also Star Class guests and had Araceli as their genie.  They had a sailaway party in their connecting Loft Suites.  It was one of the best sail away parties!  There were bartenders serving Oasis vineyard wine, fresh flowers and catered food, and a large cake.  Who popped in but the roaming piano guy to play a few of his favorites  It was a blast.  It all goes to show you the possibilities and wishes the genies can grant.  After the party we had arranged to have Hibachi with our friends we had met on previous President's Cruises, a few new friends Araceli.  As a Star class guest they normally hold the 7:30 time for the hibachi.  That is the perfect time!  We had both tables for our chef.  

 


 

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I do not want to get into a debate as on other threads about Pinnacle versus Suite Guests.  Pinnacles and Suite Guest are both in the same category.  Some nice, some not so nice, so lets leave it at that. 

 

On the past 2 President's Cruises, Pinnacle's had their own lounge and it was not an issue with over crowding. On Oasis it was in the CL on 10/11 on and the D+ and Diamonds had the bars on 4.  On the Freedom, the dark and dreary Concierge Lounge was for Suite guests, the Diamond Lounge became the Pinnacle lounge and the Viking Crown lounge became the Diamond Lounge.  Never any issue with seating, over crowdedness or loudness.  We were told in our correspondence with our genie as well as reading on different boards that there would be a seperate lounge for Pinnacles.  Rumor had it there were close to 300 Pinnacles on board.  The actual number was 239, which Micheal Bayley got wrong during the cook off challenge. lol

 

We got ready and went to the SL around 5:30 ish before Hibachi.  It was crazy!  There were four of us and there were a scattering of open seats for 1 person.  We paced around for a few minutes and then asked the concierge about where we could sit.  He then sat us down at one of the Coastal Kitchen tables. This did not change throughout the entire week.  We did find out later in the week that as Suite guest we could go to Dazzles as well.  We tried that as well, but felt out of place there.

 

We talked to several suite guests that felt the same way.  Several could not get reservations into Coastal Kitchen, as they did not reserve ahead of time before boarding.  Towards the end, they offered one couple specialty dining as they had reservations and could not be seated in Coastal Kitchen.  I have never been on a cruise where there were so many disgruntled suite guests.  Coastal Kitchen actually had one table open for Star class guests if they choose to eat there.  The last day I went to the host to see the menu and the manager asked me if I had reservations, I was about to say no and the host said, "They are Star Class."  I thought the manager was going to cry because he had to fit another table in.  I said thank you, but we will stay with our original reservations.

 

Who is to blame?  I blame Royal Miami and Royal Ship Execs that could not make a decision.  Granted it is a hard decision to make.  Upset our most loyal guests or upset our high dollar guests .    They were stuck between a rock and a hard place. 

 

The overcrowded suite lounge was the main reason for giving a lower rating on the cruise on my survey. Someone asked me "As Star Class you can go any where on the ship with your package, why do you want to be here?"  As a frequent cruiser, I love the SL on Oasis Class.  There are very few areas on the ship that you can watch the sunset with water views in air conditioning. It is my happy place!  At one point, I thought about having  Araceli put out Star Class reserved banners on seats.

 

Maybe it got better later in the evening but we had 6:30 reservations most nights, and the first hour in there was unacceptable.  

 

In the future they have to have a better plan for large amounts of Pinnacle, Diamond Plus and Diamonds.

 

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Something different about this cruise as compared to the other 2 was the absence of the executives in the SL.  In the past, they were always milling about talking with guests.  The one time we went to Dazzles, MB and some of his staff were talking with guests.  I am not sure if he was in the D lounge area as I did not get down there at all.

 

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2 hours ago, irishgal432 said:

You guys must have just been passing.  Several of the people had gotten up to see their friends going by and to get ready to board.  There were way more people when we first got there.  We should have just sat in the Suite section where there was plenty of room to sit as a group.  Now that I think about it, what time was your B2B lunch?  Maybe that is why the SL was so crowded as well.  All of the B2B Suite and Pinnacles and the new batch of Suite and Pinnacles were in the lounge at the same time when first boarding.  We were not in there very long so it may have thinned out.

It wasn't until at least noon.  So yes, we hung up in SL for a while. Crazy crowded.

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I will say that the President's Cruise is not like a normal cruise whether you are in a Star or Inside room.  Ken, Millie and her team had so many added events, surprises and venues the party never stopped.  They added a few additional events from the previous President's Cruise.  There was just so much to do. In fact, there was not a Suite party that is normally done during the sailing.  One thing that was a little different was the Visa sponsorship of parts of the cruise.

 

We got little gifts which included hats, sunglasses,  lip balm, battery powered fans, magnets, phone rings, key chains. 

 

I believe the Pinnacle received a copper Pineapple.

 

They had a separate loyalty parties for each level

 

Loyalists versus Royal Family Feud game where the Loyalist won, but have to say Jim Berra the Marketing exec was pretty good considering he has only been with Royal for a few years

 

Q and A with Millie and Micheal and the exec team standing by for answers.  They handled some tough questions

Captains corner with the Captain and The Royal Execs.

 

Fireworks on Labadee.  Amazing!  The first 2 Presidents Cruise had them, but it had rained and it wasn't good viewing and the second time they went off before scheduled time.  This time they went off without a hitch and it was very nice.  

 

The Food challenge.  Enough said.  It is an unscripted event and you never know what will be said.

 

They flew Simeon over from Barcelona just for the week.  He hosted the comedy show, family feud and was a guest judge for the food challenge.

 

A big balloon drop where they gave a way a few Symphony sailings.

 

They had the Wild boys 80's band for 3 shows.  Great!

 

They had a Journey cover band. Amazing!

 

Several schooner bar entertainers.

 

They had Billy Ocean in front of the Ocean on Labadee.  They built a large stage and had swan floats in the ocean and handed out (I think) Billy Ocean Potions.

 

As a Star Class guest we received private Galley and Bridge tours.  I will have to say they were one of the most informative ship tours I have been on. 

 

Which brings me to last but not least Visa Sponsored, Micheal Bolton.-Even some people who were not fans said he was actually entertaining.

 

I think this cruise became a logistical nightmare for entertainment.  The first cruise, you had to reserve a spot for Patti Labelle where she did 2 shows.  Everyone pretty much got to see her.

 

The second cruise the whole ship went to the bullfighting ring and saw flamenco dancers and the Gypsy Kings.  VISA card holders got a special VIP experience where we were bussed separately, went in a different entrance to the terrace level and got to meet the Gypsy Kings and received an autographed CD.

 

This time Micheal Bolton did one show and they only allowed D Dplus and Pinnacle into the theater and it was live streamed to other venues.  I think they said the theater held 1500 guests and there were 2000 guest eligible.  I am not sure if that is a record or not of having 30% Diamond and above guests.

 

Something different this year was the prevalence of Visa sponsored events.  You had to have the Royal Caribbean Visa.  If you did than it was noted on your seapass which allowed you entry into the parties they had.  They were very nice parties with plenty of great appetizers not the normal ones, special drink concoctions, and little give aways like lighted leis and flashing plastic martini glasses.  They also had a Visa sponsored hut just outside of the Billy Ocean stage. They were very well attended by guests, royal execs and officers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Milwaukee Eight said:

Did we meet?  You sure sound familiar?

 

Rory

Yes, I believe so.  Your name sounds familiar.  Does your wife/partner/so's name start with a D.  I don't want to say it on a public message board.  We met at the sailaway party and talked briefly and saw you a few more times around the ship.  I was the birthday girl! 

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Following with pleasure, even if I'm not "star class material", and thank you for taking the time.

 

Good thing u made it easy to read, by putting spaces between the paragraphs 😁

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