Good Eats on Harmony of the Seas!

Harmony of the Seas is a huge ship, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. One of the things that comes with that size is a plethora of eating options. You can always stick to the included choices, like the main dining rooms or Windjamer buffet, but where’s the fun in that? We’ve come to enjoy trying some of the specialty options on ships, and this trip would be no exception. After evaluating our options before the cruise, we ended up booking two ahead of time, and spontaneously stopped at another for lunch the last day on board. So where all did we eat? Were we happy with our choices? Read on!

First stop, Wonderland! While I was excited to try something new, I admit to being a little concerned about my food options. I’m a very picky eater, and extremely picky when it comes to anything seafood. Picky like I generally don’t eat any. Our trip to Norway this past March was the first time I’d really eaten any fish in over 20 years, and while I did enjoy that, the items I was seeing on the Wonderland menu had me a bit concerned. Once again, the concerns were unfounded, as everything I had was excellent, even the seafood!

Once you’re seated, your waiter brings you menus, which is to say a picture frame with an empty menu and a paint brush. After dipping your brush in the “paint” (water), you slowly drag it across the blank paper, which in turn reveals your menu:

Once it’s fully visible, your waiter explains the process to you and begins to ask you questions around food preference. Once he or she has all the information they need, they tell you that they’ll use that to pick out items from the menu they think you will like the most. In my case, that was a lot of “trust me, I promise you’ll enjoy this”, and he wasn’t wrong! List of items we ate prior to dessert:

  • Buffalo Chicken Eggs
  • Shrimp Kataifi
  • Crispy Crab Cones
  • Sashimi of Red and White Tuna
  • Liquid Lobster
  • Terroir Beef
  • Berkshire Pork Belly

The only thing I didn’t eat, much to Jen’s delight, was the Sashimi. I’m definitely not a raw fish fan, so I let her have all of that, which she really enjoyed. Honestly, everything I listed above was amazing. My favorites were probably the buffalo chicken eggs and pork belly, but I’d eat it all again. Also, the presentation on a couple of things is pretty cool too, starting with buffalo chicken eggs:

Another nice thing about the food, you don’t end up stuffed before dessert. The only portions that were big were the pork and beef, but everything before it consisted of small enough portions to not fill us up.

After all of that was cleared away, the real fun began. Our waiter brought us two desserts:

  • Forbidden apple: Raspberry cremeux, brown butter crumble, yogurt ice cream
  • The World: Peanut butter ganache, Valrhona chocolate mousse, salted caramel ice cream

The first one was fine, presented as a sliced apple with filling inside, but was easily overshadowed by The World:

The video doesn’t even come close to doing it justice, but yes, that’s hot caramel being poured over the chocolate, which then melts around the peanut butter ganache. Awesome presentation, amazing taste. Frankly, I could have gone back every night for that alone!

We had an awesome time at Wonderland, enjoyed everything we ate, and had outstanding service start to finish. The only gripe, if you can call it that, is that we were never really given a chance to request a specific item or two off the menu, but that’s a pretty small issue and didn’t detract from the experience. If you get the chance, I’d highly recommend giving this place a try!

Next up, Izumi! We love a good Japanese steakhouse, and weren’t going to miss the opportunity to try one on Harmony. Going in to this, my gold standard for ship-board restaurants of this style was Teppanyaki aboard the Norwegian Escape, as we absolutely loved our meal there two years ago. Great food, great service, what more can you ask for?

From start to finish, the service in Izumi was excellent. Our waiter did an awesome job keeping up with the table, was fun to talk to, and even took slow-mo video of people while the chef was tossing food in our direction. The chef was excellent as well, putting on a fun show for us while cooking everything up perfectly. I went with the filet mignon, as I usually do, and every bite tasted amazing. Unlike many of the Japanese steakhouses in the US, they didn’t have what many refer to as Japanese ketchup (aka Yum Yum sauce), which was a bit disconcerting to me at first, as I admittedly love that stuff. No matter, once I started eating, I completely forgot about that due to how good everything tasted!

We left quite happy with this choice as well, another I’d highly recommend trying if you’re sailing Harmony!

Finally, Johnny Rockets! We’d eaten here on the Oasis last year, and while I love a good greasy burger, we’d gone in to this cruise not really planning to eat here this trip, mainly due to our schedule. That changed, however, when we realized that Boardwalk Balcony rooms include a credit for 4 meals here, so we figured why not! We did find it hard to carve out time with all of the stuff we had going on, but finally managed to squeeze it in for lunch on our last sea day. The downside of a conference at sea with set session schedules is that you suddenly have around 1000 agents heading to lunch at the same time, so we hurried over as soon as our general session got out and managed to get a table before the crowd hit!

My only gripe is that service here can be hit or miss. Our server was very friendly, but just seemed overworked a bit, so things like refills were a bit slow, but still, it’s Johnny Rockets at sea, and having a Rocket Double sitting in front of me, along with some tasty bacon cheese fries kept a smile on my face 🙂

We did indulge in shakes as well. We were originally going to split one, but were kindly reminded by our server that Crown and Anchor members have BOGO shake credits on their SeaPass cards, so why not get two! I was pretty glad we ended up finding time to get here, I do love a good Rocket Double, and it was a nice change of pace from the MDR’s lunch food, which is all we’d had time for up to that point.

That about covers our specialty restaurant adventures on the Harmony of the Seas. As you can tell, we have no regrets on any of it! Royal Caribbean’s food rarely disappoints!

 

Good Times on Harmony of the Seas!

Another year, another national conference in the books! As I’ve mentioned in the past, our parent company holds our national conference at sea each year, and we were fortunate to attend for the 3rd year in a row, with this one being the Halloween sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. Being that we were busy with sessions and other business-related events most of the week, we didn’t get to enjoy everything the ship has to offer, but it was still an awesome cruise nonetheless! If you happened to catch my Oasis of the Seas series last year, you might have noticed that I was a little disappointed in aspects of that sailing. Going in to this trip, that experience was forefront in my mind, but I’m happy to say that this trip exceeded my expectations in just about every area.

I’m still not a fan of the layout of the port itself, as we decided to park right at the ship and had to wait in a rather long line of cars to get in to the lot due to some pretty poor traffic management, but once we were in, everything else was cake. Embarkation went even faster than last time! Once we got past security, we headed up to the desk to check in. With no line, we got up there immediately and were checked in pretty quickly. Walking up to the waiting area, we found that they were already boarding, and had no wait here either. We basically walked in to the building, checked in, and headed right on to the ship. Start to finish, everything took maybe 15 minutes after we parked. It always amazes me how fast they are able to board a ship of this size!

Royal Caribbean set the bar really high all week in how they treated our group, and day 1 was no exception. They blocked off the Silk dining room for us to grab food after boarding, knowing that we needed to eat pretty quickly so we could drop our stuff in our rooms and head to our first general session. Frankly, they took good care of us all week, especially at the parties they hosted for us. Take the first night, for example. We were in the skating rink, Studio B, and they laid out an amazing spread of food, drink and ice sculptures!

They went all out on our Halloween party, too. I feel kinda bad for the rest of the passengers, as Royal closed the boardwalk that night for a few hours to host our party, and once again, it was well catered and an absolute blast. Oh, and yes, we brought our costumes! Frankly, I was surprised at how many people on the ship brought theirs, too. We walked through the promenade a few times after our party, and there were a lot of people dressed for the occasion! It was fun walking through in costume, too, we had a number of people stop us for pictures and selfies, which was really fun!

Royal also hosted a beach party on Labadee’s Adrenaline Beach for us too, which was awesome. Free Labadoozies, fun competitions, and beach time, what could be better? Oh, right, a trip down Dragons’ Breath Flight Line! That last one we paid for, but having done it on our Oasis trip, Jen and I both were excited to try it again! Last time we did this I had my GoPro with me and got some decent (but shaky) video, but this time around I had my new toy, a Garmin Virb 360. I like this footage a lot more than the GoPro, as you can use a VR headset or something simple like Google Cardboard to watch it in a VR-like mode and fully immerse yourself in it. Don’t have those? Well not to worry, you can still watch it on YouTube in a normal way and drag around the video to see it from every angle! It’s also now a featured video on one of the major VR platforms, Veer VR! Check it out, and be sure to move around and see all of the action around me, not just the forward view!

Moving on, let’s talk about our room. We again had a boardwalk balcony, which I wasn’t a huge fan of last time, as I found the balcony fairly useless outside of aqua shows, due to the boardwalk acting as a trap for the heat and humidity during the time of our sailing (mid-May). This time around we did find it more useful, as it wasn’t quite as hot outside on this sailing. I used it a few times, including once where I hung out there in my wolf mask for a little bit just to mess with people :). The room itself had plenty of space for us and was very comfortable, and this time around came with a couple of really nice boardwalk balcony amenities: The Royal Refreshment soda package, and a 4-person credit to Johnny Rockets. Those are definitely nice additions to the room category!

Moving on to the internet speed, I was pleasantly surprised. On last year’s sailing, I was pretty disappointed in the overall speed and reliability of the Voom offering, and wasn’t sure what to expect this time around, since they had given all conference attendees the fastest package, which meant that in addition to the regular passengers that would be using the internet, there were 1,000 for sure that had would be on it constantly too. Outside of a couple of small outages (WiFi hotspots totally disappeared from device view), it was pretty reliable and fairly quick. I also really like the unlimited packages, as I hate having to worry about the amount of time I use. It’s not so bad when uploading pictures, but when attempting to upload video, you have to hope things are moving quickly, otherwise you burn a bunch of time off your plan. Not on Voom, however! I ran a couple of speed tests during the week just to see how it looked, so here’s one taken around noon on a sea day, which should have represented a peak time:

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One of the other cool things we got to take advantage of on this sailing is their huge dry slide, the Ultimate Abyss. This was new to us, as Oasis doesn’t have it, and is exactly what it sounds like, a long dry slide at the back of the ship that starts on deck 16 and takes you down to the boardwalk on deck 6. We did this pretty early in the sailing, and while we enjoyed it, didn’t really feel the need to do it again. Note that you really do need to pay attention to their instructions, as you can easily turn the wrong way, lift a leg wrong, etc, and end up rubbing some skin off on the way down. I chatted with another agent that took some skin off one leg that way, and he’d seen a kid on the ship who had taken some skin off an arm by hitting the side on the way down. It’s fun, just follow their instructions and you’ll be fine! Since you’re not allowed to take GoPros on this (or the water slides, both of which were pretty disappointing) I don’t have any video, but here are a couple of pics of the Abyss instead. In the second one, you can see the two slides spiral down near the back of the ship:

Even though we were there for work, we did catch as many shows as possible. Frankly, Royal’s really stepped up their entertainment game over the years, and have some of the best shows available at sea in my opinion. We caught 1887, Columbus, The Fine Line, and Jen caught Grease, and every one of them were amazing. I really enjoyed Columbus and The Fine Line. The latter is one of the shows held in the Aqua Theater, and incorporates a lot more in the way of artsy visual elements than the traditional aqua show we’d seen on Oasis. I can’t recommend it enough!

Let’s end this by covering a few of the negatives I called out last year in my final Oasis post, as well as one or two other things called out in various posts from that sailing:

Windjammer: Maybe I’m completely mis-remembering the Oasis, but I swear that Harmony’s buffet area is bigger. We ate there a few times and it never felt as crowded as it did on Oasis. I do really like their buffet food too, some of the best of the lines we’ve sailed.

Coke Freestyle machines: I think we had an issue once all week. Last time they were constantly down/being repaired, but this time around we had no major issues with them.

Lack of water slides: We were a little disappointed last year that Oasis had none, but happy to see that had been rectified on Harmony. We both tried them after getting back on the ship in port one day and had a blast. They’ve got two slides dedicated to racing each other, which are pretty standard (but fast) waterslides, and then next to those is The Perfect Storm, a slide with several clear sections that ends up dumping you into a large bowl near the end. Fun stuff, I just wish they allowed you to take a GoPro to film it!

Overall, we had a really great week, and were treated very well by the Harmony’s crew. Next year’s conference is aboard the Norwegian Bliss out of Long Beach, and I have to say, Royal set a very high bar as a conference host, so I hope NCL was paying attention!

I do have one more post in this series covering the food we enjoyed aboard the Harmony, which I hope to have up in a few days. Thank you for following along!

Oasis of the Seas: Day 7, Our Final Sea Day :(

Our final day at sea couldn’t have started off better. Once again, clear blue skies and beautiful water were all we could see. We’ve been pretty lucky with the weather all week, and this last day on board was no different.

Once again, looking to avoid buffet crowds and enjoy a more relaxed environment, we headed to Park Café for breakfast. This little spot really is nice, and while it doesn’t offer the selection the Windjammer does, it’s a fine substitute if you’re not looking for a buffet.

This final day at sea was fairly relaxed, with no shows on our agenda. After breakfast, we headed in for a round of trivia, followed by a towel folding demonstration. We enjoy these, but this one was pretty short. I think they quickly made two animals and ended it, lasting only about 5 minutes. Not sure what the rush was, and the guests around us seemed as perplexed about the rush as we were.

Next up, we headed for the zipline. This is something we’d been meaning to do since day 1, but decided to wait to avoid the lines for signing waivers (since the electronic waiver system in the cabin wasn’t working). Note that to do the zipline, you at least have to have socks on. If you don’t have closed shoes (tennis shoes, basically), but have socks, they’ll loan you shoes, but if you show up without socks, you’re not getting on. We were all set, and after a short wait in line, took our turns flying across the boardwalk! While not quite as exciting as the zipline in Labadee (we should have done this one first J ), it was still a treat to see the boardwalk from directly above it.

After a quick lunch in the MDR, we headed to the comedy club for Captain’s Corner, where guests could ask Captain Rob anything they wanted. It was a very entertaining hour, as he’s very well spoken and quite funny at times. I highly recommend attending this on any ship, especially this one.

After the talk, we headed to the Schooner Bar for progressive trivia. We thought we were in a good position coming in to the 3rd and final round, and scored 19 out of 20 on this one, only to find out we’d actually tanked the first round and ended up not placing in the top 3. Oh well, we had fun regardless!

After trivia, Bayley changed into a bathing suit, and we headed up so she could try the FlowRider. It wasn’t all that busy mid-afternoon, and she got on after a short wait in line. She was glad she did it, but took a hard fall into the rear barrier, and didn’t want to give it another go due to the resulting headache. We also watched the FlowShow later in the afternoon, where the Flowrider staff shows off their skills. If you have the time, this is really fun to watch, just be sure that you stand a bit back if you don’t want to get wet!

At dinner, it was time to say good bye to our wait staff. I can’t say enough good things about Gerson and Rydon’s work this week with us at table 649. They were very friendly and attentive, and they’re definitely one of the best MDR teams we’ve had in a long time.

We didn’t really have a lot on tap in the evening, so after a quick picture with King Julien and a stroll around the ship, we headed to the Promenade for the DreamWorks “Move it, Move it” parade. Even getting there 15min prior, the best spot we could find was near the aft area of the promenade, which was a mistake. If you really want to attend this, stay forward of the Prmenade Café, or you’re not going to see much of what goes on, in part because of the smoke they pump in at the beginning. Puss n Boots comes down in the Rising Tide, but he’s at the forward section of it facing away from aft.

I spent a little time after that walking around various areas of the ship, including a trip up to the Flowrider area to catch the sunset. Really, really amazing view from up there.

The rest of the evening consisted of the TV and Movie trivia round, held in “On-Air”, which wasn’t even close to the size they needed due to the large crowd that showed up. It was fun, regardless, even though we got knocked out in round 1. After that, it was time to pack and put our suitcases out, sadly.

That pretty much covers our final day on the Oasis of the Seas. Over the next couple of days, I’ll get our thoughts on debark and overall impressions of this cruise up and published. Hope you’ve found all of this useful and entertaining, I know we enjoyed experiencing it!

Oasis of the Seas: Day 1 Recap!

Our first cruise on Royal Caribbean in 8 years has us on the Oasis of the Seas for 7 days, and I have just one thing to say:

(Donald Trump voice) This ship is huuuuuuuge.

Having never set foot on any Oasis class ship before (outside of a very short tour Jen got to do of this one last year), we really weren’t sure what to expect as far as boarding goes. Boy were we shocked. We arrived at the port right around 11am, and by 11:25 were onboard the ship. A ship this size obviously requires a set boarding procedure, and Royal delivers in that regard. Here’s pretty much how it went:

  • Arrive at the terminal
  • Proceed through security screening
  • Go through check-in. We had priority check-in, but didn’t need it. No line at all.
  • Follow the signs and staff directions to Gold seating, at which point they tell you where to sit (no empty seats for bags appear to be allowed, BTW)
  • Here we waited maybe 10min before they started boarding our section
  • Walk up the gangway and get on the ship.

Like I said, 25min start to finish. Easily the most efficient boarding procedure we’ve seen on any ship to date, and got us here in record time:

After boarding, we took a walk down the Royal Promenade and stopped to sign up for beverage packages. We got one soda-only, and one Royal Replenish. We’ll see if they end up being worth it, but one of the nice things about this ship is the presence of Coke Freestyle machines, so we can a variety of sodas. So far, the lines at them have been hit or miss. There are a couple on each side of Windjammer, and a couple down by Sorrentos, with those being the busiest so far.

Anyway, after purchasing the drink packages and walking around the boardwalk area, we headed up to Windjammer to get some lunch. Fortunately, we arrived just as it opened, and were the first people in. Shortly after, the place filled up, and they started queuing people outside, forcing them to wait until there were tables available, so take that as a tip, if you’re hungry, head there right away or you could end up waiting a while. The food itself was pretty good for buffet food, too.

After lunch we did some more exploring, heading to the pool and then down to Central Park before the rooms were ready. That was a mistake while carrying a bunch of heavy bags, as Central Park can get really humid due to the design (open-air, no wind at all). Fortunately, 1pm arrived pretty quick, and we headed to our room to drop our bags and relax. For this ship, we chose a boardwalk balcony on deck 12 at the back of the ship (12729), as the ability to watch the shows at the Aqua Theater sounded intriguing. The cabin itself is a bit tight, and I’m not sure how you could fit all of the stuff a full family of 4 might bring, as the 3 of us had a fun time trying to organize our stuff, but we made it work. Our cabin steward had put up the birthday decorations I’d ordered for Jen, too, so that was a nice surprise for her when we got to the cabin. Here are a few pics of it, along with the view you get of the boardwalk and Aqua Theater:

The rest of the afternoon pretty much consisted of more exploring and some unpacking. We had early seating at dinner, so we headed down at 6pm and were promptly seated. So far, MDR service is much better than the MDR on the Divina, a welcome change. The food was just as good as we remembered, with my prime rib being outstanding. Interestingly enough, I was also given a survey to fill out at the table on how my meat was. I’ve never seen that before, but was glad that they spot-check their work!

My only complaint about dinner was that something else I’d ordered, a birthday cake for Jen that was supposed to be delivered at dinner, wasn’t there. I spoke to the waiter about it afterward and he said he’d never gotten any notification about one, but that he’d take care of it and will have it there tonight. I’ve heard about Royal “forgetting” various items people pre-ordered recently, so was disappointed to experience this myself. It’d give me pause about ordering anything from their catalog for clients.

We’d set show reservations up well ahead of the cruise, but already had one change that impacted the first evening. We had been booked for Cats at 2:30pm on the first sea day, but that show got cancelled, so they moved us to the 8:45 show on boarding day. After dinner, we headed back to the room to change, and before leaving for Cats, hung out on our balcony a bit to watch the opening show in the Aqua Theater. Really cool stuff, and it’s awesome to be able to hang out in the room and watch stuff like this:

After that ended, we headed to Cats. I’ll preface all of this by saying that I’m not in to musicals. At all. There’s the rare exception every now and then, but this is not one of them. I can see why Royal’s having trouble keeping the theater filled for this, and it’s not because of the performers, they’re obviously talented, it’s 100% the play itself. I really don’t get the love-fest for it, and a lot of other people didn’t seem to either, as there were plenty of open seats at the start of the show, which only got worse over the course of the first act. At intermission, we left, as none of us could really take it anymore. I feel bad for the performers, as I’ve read that this isn’t a popular show on the Oasis. I can see why.

Our half-a-play over, Jen headed to the room while Bayley and I made one last pass of the ship. One thing that really stuck out, the Windjammer buffet closes at 9pm, so after that, your only free options appear to be Sorrentos and the café on 5. There are over 6000 passengers on the ship, but the main source of an evening snack closes at 9? Wow. Oh, and I should also mention that the pizza on Oasis doesn’t even come close to any of the 3 styles available on the MSC Divina. Sorrentos is more like me making pizza at home from scratch, and I think all of the pieces we tried were a bit undercooked. I’m really missing the Divina’s pizza right about now. Small issue though, we’re still on an awesome cruise ship, right?

That about covers day 1. More to come as our journey aboard the Oasis of the Seas continues!

Oh, and If you’re not following us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, you’re missing out on some great shots of the ship!

Choosing a Cruise

Now that I’m done with posts on our last cruise, I figured I’d walk through our selection process for choosing one. This is something that has evolved over the past few years as we’ve visited more ports, had more sea days, and really taken a look at what it is we like about cruising. Note that these are all subjective and obviously won’t be the same for everyone. We want to get the best bang for our buck and visit places we’ve never been, so we’re not really loyal to one line. We certainly don’t choose a cruise based on loyalty programs, as we like to get a taste of all lines and experience the different things they have to offer while enjoying our time together. So how do we choose? Going in order of importance:

 

Itinerary

This always comes first when we start looking. We weed out the vast majority of cruises in the first couple of days based on itinerary alone, and usually end up with 6-8 cruises that we spend the next few days applying other criteria to. While a cruise we select might go to one or two ports we’ve already been to, we’ve never repeated an entire itinerary. That’s not to say we won’t, and we certainly have a couple in mind we’d like to repeat, it’s just that we like to visit new ports whenever possible.

When reviewing itineraries, we also look at the number of sea days. All three of us enjoy those days at sea, as they provide plenty of time to unwind. The best itineraries in our eyes provide a good balance of sea days and ports, as we find having several ports back to back can make things run together and be tiring. Our favorite cruise to date provided an outstanding mix of ports and sea days, and that was our 2011 Thanksgiving cruise on the Carnival Freedom. That itinerary consisted of:

  • Leave Ft Lauderdale
  • Sea day
  • Cozumel, Mexico
  • Sea day
  • Limon, Costa Rica
  • Colon, Panama
  • Sea day
  • Sea day
  • Arrive Ft Lauderdale

Only having two back to back stops was great, and we loved having two sea days on the end to decompress. Having stops in Costa Rica and Panama was outstanding as well, we loved both stops as I hope I properly expressed in my reviews of both ports.

As another part of our itinerary hunt, we generally hit the “ports of call” forums on Cruise Critic to get an idea of what types of activities people do at a given stop, and to get an idea of what the port area is like.

 

Price

Once we have a few cruises on the list based on itinerary, we start to narrow that down by price. The list usually includes at least 2 or 3 cruise lines, as we don’t cruise for loyalty benefits, so we can usually knock it down further pretty quickly based on price. Now that’s not to say we’re always going with the cheapest cruise, it’s more about combining this with the next item, cabin selection. It just so happens that three of the four previous cruises we’ve done have been on Carnival, and it’s due in large part to what we could get in an itinerary and cabin selection within our budget.

 

Cabin Selection

This and price go hand in hand for us. I spend hours pouring over cabin options to try and get us in to the perfect cabin within our budget. I’m definitely not one who’s happy just booking and seeing where we our room is after we board, I do as much research as possible on a cabin before I book. I’ll go into more detail on cabin selection in a different post, but when we’re booking, I’ll be looking to get the best cabin I can within our price range, so if we decide we want to be in a particular section of the ship, like the upper few decks forward, for example, I narrow our list down further based on available cabins and pricing in that section of the ship. Honestly, this part has been a major factor in two of our past three Thanksgiving cruises not being on Royal Caribbean, as we’re not as fond of the layout of their upper decks. I’ll be sure to cover that in my cabin selection post as well.

 

On Board Activities

As part of our enjoyment of sea days, we like to make sure that the ships we’re looking at are active ones. We’ll spend a bunch of time reading through past reviews, as well as different forums for each line, to see what people have to say about the activities on board. I’ll admit that we did give this one less importance in booking the Summit to Bermuda, as our cruise line choices based on the dates we had available were slim, and there was no way I could have talked my wife and daughter in to sailing NCL again (a topic for another post :)). This last one aside, we’ve learned that the energy on a ship during the sea days is an important factor for us. Now, I do take my sources of information with a grain of salt, especially posts in cruise forums. It seems boards like those on Cruise Critic have turned in to a place where people either spend their time complaining about their chosen line’s loyalty program, or playing “fanboy” and bashing anybody who says anything bad about their line. The most time consuming part about going through reviews and forum posts is sifting through the noise to get to the truly objective reviews.

 

Past Reviews of the Itinerary and ship

This happens in conjunction with the previous item, as we spend a bunch of time reading those reviews and forum posts to see what people thought of the stops and the ship. I will say that this isn’t an exact science, and we do learn from our mistakes here. Our 2012 Thanksgiving cruise on the Carnival Legend was a perfect example, as the majority of the reviewers seemed to love the ship, and many had cruised multiple times specifically because of how much they liked it. I have to say, none of us agreed. It never seemed crowded, which was a plus, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to sail on it again unless it was a really solid itinerary.

 

I think that about covers it for us. People choose cruises for varying reasons, but my biggest tip here is to know what you want out of your time on board, and book the appropriate itinerary and cruise line accordingly. While I get the desire to be spontaneous, these things aren’t cheap, so I like to know what I’m getting myself in to before I drop the money on it. In cases like this last cruise where we really wanted to see Bermuda, we’ll adjust some of the other priorities accordingly, but for the most part I’ll stick to the criteria set forth above. Do you have additional things you look at? Feel free to add it in the comments to share with others!

As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, I’m fairly methodical when it comes to cabin selection, so my next post will give some insight into what I look for when choosing one.

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