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twangster

Empress 8 Night Eastern Caribbean 🎵 ​​​​​​​Oops, I Booked it Again 🎵

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@twangster So i have been obsessing over your pics of White Bay beach at Jost Van Dyke and I see the excursion that RCI has with Empress and it got me wondering, I am on Freedom next year  and it stops at Crown Bay and St. Thomas. Any chance they would have excursions from Crown Bay to JVD and White Bay?

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Day 8 - Sea Day

 

Miami tomorrow and the dreaded debark.

 

With a layer of cloud on the horizon this morning I could the full sun without burning my retinas.  

 

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Our progress...

 

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Crystal block cruise! 

 

With my own little Empress sailing on the Seas I have another memento of this fabulous cruise.

 

6xk3lNz.jpg

 

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3 minutes ago, Swank Pad G said:

@twangster So i have been obsessing over your pics of White Bay beach at Jost Van Dyke and I see the excursion that RCI has with Empress and it got me wondering, I am on Freedom next year  and it stops at Crown Bay and St. Thomas. Any chance they would have excursions from Crown Bay to JVD and White Bay?

 

It's hard to do in a day from St Thomas with enough buffer to be safe, depending on times in port.  When I visited Jost Van Dyke from St Thomas in the past, arriving back by boat from the BVI we had to stop in St John's to clear US Customs.    This adds time and length to the boat ride back.  It may be possible though privately.  

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1 minute ago, twangster said:

 

It's hard to do in a day from St Thomas with enough buffer to be safe, depending on times in port.  When I visited Jost Van Dyke from St Thomas in the past, arriving back by boat from the BVI we had to stop in St John's to clear US Customs.    This adds time and length to the boat ride back.  It may be possible though privately.  

Yes that is what I was afraid of, too much time. I would rather not risk it and give me an excuse to sail on Empress to Tortola and do it that way. Thank you for your advise!

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12 minutes ago, Swank Pad G said:

@twangster So i have been obsessing over your pics of White Bay beach at Jost Van Dyke and I see the excursion that RCI has with Empress and it got me wondering, I am on Freedom next year  and it stops at Crown Bay and St. Thomas. Any chance they would have excursions from Crown Bay to JVD and White Bay?

 

 

I think it can be done, but I really don't think you would have enough time, what are your port times in St. Thomas

 

https://www.bestofbvi.com/info/bviferry_stt_jost.htm

 

..

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Posted (edited)

Contact this company with date and times you are in St. Thomas and see if it's doable................Allow time to get from  your ship to Red Hook for the pickup and time for returning from Red Hook back your ship for sail-away.

http://www.foxyscharters.com/water-taxi/

 

..

 

Edited by Jimbo

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@Jimbo Thanks I will look into that possibility! I need to experience the "Soggy Dollar Bar."

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Meal with an Officer

 

Today there we so many attending MWAO today that they had to use the MDR.  

 

YAqWYMk.jpg

 

Our officer was from Shore Excursions.

 

Typically around 60% of shore excursions are booked in the cruise planner versus on board.  Still, that's 40% that book on board usually at full price.

 

On the Western Caribbean itineraries Costa Maya will often see the highest shore excursion sales.  It's very popular for excursions.

 

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Cuba excursions were a lot of work for the ShoreEx team.  There was a lot of record keeping and paperwork that went along with meeting the US OFAC regulations.  Our officer was on vacation when Cuba became off limits.  Coming back to this ship after the itineraries changed she doesn't miss the paperwork aspect of Cuban excursions.

 

Sometimes crew can participate in an excursion but the vendor that operates the excursion has to agree.  

 

Someone at my table used a dirty word at lunch.  PACKING.  Something I should start thinking about.  

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For the person who asked about USB ports in standard cabins I'll be boarding tomorrow and have a thread.  I'm in an inside cabin and will be sure to report on this issue.

 

 

 

Roy

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

 

I would.  I enjoy sitting on the couch and seeing a forward view with no balcony divider.  As I write this there is deck noise above me, scraping chairs as people move around but I never hear it at night, only during the day.  At times I think people must have ants in their pants because the chair scraping lasts for seconds that seems like minutes at times but it doesn't really bother me.  

 

If that deck noise will bother you, don't book this cabin.

 

 

Thank you for you honest and open comments.

 

We are currently booked into 9600 for both legs of our B2B.  The 21-day voyage only has 3 sea days therefore most guests will be off the ship, including us.  The other 3 days will find us on deck...maybe even making noise with the chairs....and one of this couple does have “ants in their pants”.  If we were to change cabins it would be to one parallel to the pool deck bar with the “thump, thump, thump” during deck parties which would include us.

 

Thanks again.  I am looking forward to you next review.  Maybe our paths will cross at sea someday...we are on at least 6 Royal ships a year.

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Hope you can help us solve the mystery a pinnacle who has been on the empress for many back-to-back several months at a time said that they cordoned off part of the Viking Crown Lounge each evening for the diamond and Above lounge. They were given unlimited drinks in that area.

 

I have also been been told that you are only entitled to three drinks on your seapass card during the happy hour times because there is no room for a lounge. What was your experience on your recent cruise on the empress.

 

I hope it is the unlimited drinks during the happy hour time as that is what the upper tier levels get on all of the other Royal ships. Frankly, I am tired of hearing that they have no staff and no room on this ship. If they have no room, then they should give unlimited drinks at any of the bars during the happy hour times.  Then they would not need additional staff as they claim to be the issue. I know they have a get together the first evening as I was one of the people  that championed that  event  as we were on the third cruise on the empress when it came into town way back when. Corporate in Miami insisted that they had a lounge  and we went back and forth and they finally decided to have the first night event so that diamond diamond Plus and pinnacle's could get together and socialize and meet each other. Looking forward to your reply.

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On 8/13/2019 at 12:03 PM, twangster said:

I chatted with Julie about the lack of a Diamond event.  Internally the Crown and Anchor department carries the financial burden of Diamond Happy Hour in their budget center.  They've looked at different ideas but some of it comes down to staffing.  Empress isn't staffed to host a Diamond event.  At a minimum it takes 3 crew to host and serve a dedicated happy hour event and with fewer crew on Empress that would mean pulling crew from elsewhere causing another area to be understaffed every night.  

 

It's not a decision the Hotel Director can make exclusively since C&A pays for it.  They are always considering ideas and I let her know it is one of the more popular discussion points amongst Diamond and higher cruisers who consider Empress when booking a cruise.  She was curious if I thought cruisers just wanted a meeting place to see other Diamond members or if the happy hour drinks were the issue.  I suggested that the drinks beyond the 3 happy hour 'coupons' were more of a point of contention.  

 

I'm not sure anything will come of it but it's nice to know they are aware of how us cruisers feel and they aren't just standing on policy but are thinking about our concerns. 

Above is his conversation with the HD about the Diamond event

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

On the Western Caribbean itineraries Costa Maya will often see the highest shore excursion sales.  It's very popular for excursions.


I imagine that's because it's a relatively new cruise port without much in the way of established "First World" civilization compared to the resort-filled islands of the Caribbean. 

 

It's much harder to find a do-it-yourself excursion in Mahahual versus someplace like Cozumel or Aruba that have been well-established in the tourism trade for generations. 

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1 hour ago, travelwide said:

Hope you can help us solve the mystery a pinnacle who has been on the empress for many back-to-back several months at a time said that they cordoned off part of the Viking Crown Lounge each evening for the diamond and Above lounge. They were given unlimited drinks in that area.

 

I have also been been told that you are only entitled to three drinks on your seapass card during the happy hour times because there is no room for a lounge. What was your experience on your recent cruise on the empress.

 

I hope it is the unlimited drinks during the happy hour time as that is what the upper tier levels get on all of the other Royal ships. Frankly, I am tired of hearing that they have no staff and no room on this ship. If they have no room, then they should give unlimited drinks at any of the bars during the happy hour times.  Then they would not need additional staff as they claim to be the issue. I know they have a get together the first evening as I was one of the people  that championed that  event  as we were on the third cruise on the empress when it came into town way back when. Corporate in Miami insisted that they had a lounge  and we went back and forth and they finally decided to have the first night event so that diamond diamond Plus and pinnacle's could get together and socialize and meet each other. Looking forward to your reply.

 

May I suggest you email:

 

crownandanchor@rccl.com

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The Crown & Anchor people 3 years ago insisted that it had a lounge. And it did not. They have no idea what is going on on that ship. I am trying to find out from someone who was recently on the ship what and how they are handling the Diamond Lounge happy hour event.

 

I went round in circles with them where they insisted it had the event just like every other ship has and it did not. And they still insisted it had the event and it did not. I found that out firsthand when I got on it.

 

Anyone who has been recently on the ship let me know how they are handling this event.

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The way to solve the problem of not needing three bartenders to handle the event is to allow the diamond and above to use their card at any bar to get the drinks from the specific menu that they have on all of the other ships. This would be used during the 3 and a half hours that the normal Diamond event is held. 

 

 they would not have to have additional bartenders to handle the event.

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Day 8 Evening

 

The last night...  sigh.

 

I spotted an alligator chasing a sea turtle.

 

y9IQKHA.jpg

 

Fortunately it was a bread alligator in the Windjammer which have proven to be quite harmless.

 

The last night on Empress is not a formal night but on these cruises it has consistently been "lobster" night in the MDR.  No lobster in the WJ but there were a few other seafood goodies to be found in the WJ this evening.

 

jsEwxVU.jpg

 

grZrDSt.jpg

 

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Tonight as we make our way through the Bahamas we are sailing away into the sunset.


DGxwyRW.jpg

 

The very spot I took a Milky Way photo from on my last Empress cruise.

 

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In the distance on the hazy horizon I saw an outline of a ship coming our way but several miles off.

 

HZZspU8.jpg

 

That's Navigator of the Seas on her way to Nassau tomorrow.

 

LAxZUcn.jpg

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Tonight in the theater was the Royal Caribbean production called on board simply "Three".  

 

That's short for Three Sequins and Feathers.

 

It's not to be missed especially on this night when it's the last performance of the current cast before they leave the ship tomorrow. 

 

Next cruise "Three" will continue but it will be performed by a new cast who have been on board for several weeks getting ready. 

 

I have some photos in my last Empress thread.  It's a really good show, quite high on my list of ship shows.  At the end CC our Cruise Director brought out many of the crew who have made this cruise such a great experience.

 

yaMxCSa.jpg

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I really enjoyed your reviews of the Empress. My dh and I are leaving for the port shortly. We were on the Empress in June and enjoyed it so much we are headed back today!

 

Safe travels home.

Mary

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Posted (edited)

Day 9 - Miami

 

Miami is a nice city to sail into in the darkness and I always enjoy sailing from here.

 

dtvgtdV.jpg

 

5a0iwL1.jpg

 

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The bridge engaged the warp drive and our approach grew faster.  Not really, just playing around with a long exposure picture.

 

j9rCzMI.jpg

 

gHhYfpt.jpg

 

PBXpxOe.jpg

 

It has the makings of a beautiful day.

 

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The Crown of Miami Royal Caribbean Terminal A.

 

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Our Staff Captain is handling our arrival today under the watchful eye of the Captain. 

 

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Terminal G

 

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With an ever so gentle touch to the pier we are there.

 

Total cruise distance 2,135 nautical miles.

 

IHq7fJV.jpg

 

Edited by twangster

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

Day 9 - Miami

 

Miami is a nice city to sail into in the darkness and I always enjoy sailing from here.

 

dtvgtdV.jpg

 

5a0iwL1.jpg

 

tnSbX6k.jpg

 

The bridge engaged the warp drive and our approach grew faster.  Not really, just playing around with a long exposure picture.

 

j9rCzMI.jpg

 

gHhYfpt.jpg

 

PBXpxOe.jpg

 

It has the makings of a beautiful day.

 

64sB9Bh.jpg

 

The Crown of Miami Royal Caribbean Terminal A.

 

2Vm5b9B.jpg

 

4dDto2x.jpg

 

Sgch2uM.jpg

 

Our Staff Captain is handling our arrival today under the watchful eye of the Captain. 

 

pcLjXNU.jpg

 

Terminal G

 

jraCNyc.jpg

 

ywma5Tz.jpg

 

With an ever so gentle touch to the pier we are there.

 

Total cruise distance 2,135 nautical miles.

 

IHq7fJV.jpg

 

I would assume the guy in the blue shirt is from the Port of Miami which came aboard as you enter the Miami area?

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Another great review Twangster!  I like the warp drive pictures. You have me excited to get more creative with my future cruise photography.

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20 minutes ago, Jimbo said:

I would assume the guy in the blue shirt is from the Port of Miami which came aboard as you enter the Miami area?

 

I assume that is the port pilot.  Typical pilot clothing from what I've seen.

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Posted (edited)

Debark

 

I was in no hurry today so I took my time, enjoyed a last WJ breakfast and finished packing the last few items in my cabin.  I'm renting a car today which I'll return in the morning but I wanted to keep it to a 24 hour rental to avoid hourly charges for going past 24 hours.  My desired time to turn it in tomorrow drove my required pickup time today which I targeted 9:30am to 10am for.

 

My JS came with luggage tag #1 but I planned to carry off my own bags.

 

I wanted to be get out of my cabin so James my cabin attendant could sanitize and ready it for the next guests so I planned to sit around the Schooner Bar area until 9am-ish.  Consequently I was out of my cabin well before 8am.

Early to the pier they called self-assist starting at 7:30am a full 30 minutes early.  I stayed in the Schooner Bar to kill some time.

 

The self-assist line eventually made it through the theater, through the Centrum and into the Schooner Bar where I was working on my morning pictures I posted above.  

 

Several management team greeted me as they passed by doing their morning turn-around day thing.

 

Talking with Jorge our GSM the day before he had stated they typically have to wait until all guests are off before departing crew leaving the ship at contract end can leave.  Not wanting to extend that for them I headed off just before 9am.  

 

Carrying my own luggage I left somewhere around luggage tag 14 being called.  That's normally 9:15am on the departure letter so they were still running ahead of schedule.

 

Still routing through the theater and out onto the terminal bridge from deck 5 I followed the line a little but further than self-assist normally go since I was in the luggage tag crowd who had to reach the carousels to retrieve their bags.  Past luggage and onto customs there were none today, we simply walked outside.  Apparently CBP had really cleared the ship when they cleared the ship to debark.

 

I had a short wait for the Hertz car rental shuttle.  While waiting I saw car rental shuttles for Payless, Avis and Budget (sharing one shuttle bus) and National, Alamo and Enterprise (sharing a different shuttle bus).  My pickup location was the 2nd Street HLE office for Hertz downtown Miami.  Some of the other rental bus customers go to the Miami airport to get their cars.  I'm using weekend points from my Hertz loyalty program so my rental is costing me a whopping $2.16.

 

My rental only had a 1/2 tank of gas so I had to go back in and get my contract fixed to reflect that but even with that I was on my way and at my Fort Lauderdale hotel by 10am.  My luck continued, they had a room ready despite being very early for check in. 

 

No real plans today, maybe some pool time at my hotel.  Maybe I'll run out and buy two bottles of wine although I not sure I really need it with a nightly Diamond event on Majesty starting tomorrow night.  

Edited by twangster

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