Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vacation. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Long Road


Tequesta, FL
August 22, 2023

Welcome to Hump Day!

Oh wait, that's right, I'm retired and I don't really celebrate hump days any more. Sadly. I always kind of enjoyed helping coworkers over the hump of the week. 

My mid-week is going to be filled with preparations for travel. The reservations have been made and we even selected the food we wanted on the plane. It has been a while since I flew on Alaska Airlines and they allow food to be ordered and paid for in advance. Since it is a six-hour flight right through the dinner hour, we need food. 

I will also be determining the future of Riordin. He spent the night in the animal hospital and is not doing well. They are trying a "Hail Mary" treatment for his asthma to bring him around, but I was told the chances were slim. He lost about 15 percent of his body weight while we were in New York last week and has stopped eating and drinking.

It could be a sad day by the time it ends. 

But, when I looked into his eyes yesterday before deciding upon the treatment option, I saw he still had fight in them. 

Regardless, tomorrow will begin a new adventure!

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

House Sale vs Impending Vacation

 The house sale process continues and I fear it will complicate our impending departure for a long-planned and much needed vacation.  

Princess Juliana Airport
Sint Maarten
July 5, 2017
Yes, we are headed for Sint Maarten on Friday. To say we are excited is an understatement. This trip has been planned for almost a year and we will be joining my sister Pennie and her husband on the trip, reviving a history of joint vacations with them. The island of Saint Martin hosts two countries, one Dutch and one French. We will likely visit them both during our stay as some of the most famous beaches in the Caribbean are located on the French side of the island. The Dutch side, however, is famous for Princess Juliana airport where the aircraft land right over the beach. Chris and I were there on July 5, 2017 as a stop on a cruise! Five years ago.

Pedro's Orient Beach Bar
Saint Martin
July 5, 2017
The house sale process is frustrating. We have had, as of this writing, 932 views and 48 saves on Zillow. No offers yet! And we are being very accommodating. Yesterday, we received 40 minutes advance notice of a showing. It came as I was in the middle of making my lunchtime sandwich. We packaged up the animals (yes, we have animals) and stray items around the house; making a quick exit. 

A new frustration is that the house seems to be working against us. On Saturday, during the open house, on of the ceiling light globes decided to crash to the floor. I replaced the whole unit. Yesterday, one of the less than two months old LED recessed light bulbs burned out in the kitchen just as we were leaving the house for the showing. I did not have another light an so we installed a light of a different color temperature while we bought the correct temperature light bulb during the showing.

So many things are being juggled. I might turn my phone and computer off next week just to regain some sense of sanity. But, I know that snorkeling in the warm Caribbean water will be fantastic.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Cold--Where is the Warmth?


The Last Palm Tree Image
Jupiter Island, Florida
October 10, 2020
Thirty degrees really makes a difference, especially when the difference is in the daily high. Saturday, Chris, Ethan, and I were on a Jupiter Island beach and the temperature was in the high 80's. We were warm and enjoyed the humidity associated with the daily rains that we were experiencing.

Yesterday, in Elkridge, the high temperature never got past 58 degrees at my house. It rained all day, and it was cold. I actually had to put long pants on to stay warm. It was a shock to my system. 

The last evening we spent in Florida we made our usual trip to the ocean to say good-bye. I have already written about the 360 degree sunset and the image of the palm tree was taken looking west into the sunset behind the clouds. It was a truly special evening and a special memory. Most importantly, it was warm. 

I am looking forward to this afternoon in Elkridge as the temperature is supposed to creep into the upper 70's. Hopefully the lawn will dry enough for me to mow. The falling leaves and the two-week uncut grass make for a messy looking yard. And of course, after they dry it is time to cut the ornamental grasses around the pool. Welcome back to all of the work required to maintain a home. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dawn South Carolina

The trip to return to Maryland is underway. Dawn finds us cruising I-95 about 20 miles into South Carolina. We know that the remnants of Hurricane Delta are waiting for us further north, but we are making our way home to Elkridge.

Departing was very sad. We finally lived in our condo for it to feel like home. A very comfortable home. I completed a number of small projects while we were there, but for the first time projects were not the reason for the trip.

We need to get our minds ready for autumn. There is a lot of work to do around our primary residence.

I will enjoy the memories of my first and only vacation of 2020.

— Bob Doan, somewhere on I-95 in South Carolina

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Sand, Beaches, and Dogs


The thing about going to the beach is the sand. It gets everywhere. I am not sure how it migrates into the places that it does, but it finds its way into the smallest crevices and requires thorough cleaning to remove when we return home. My truck is becoming morel ike a sandy beach than a truck. We bring the sand in on our feet and our bodies even though we try to wash it off. The sand clings to the chairs, the umbrella and the bags we carry on and off the beach.

Ethan and Finnegan
Jupiter Island Beach, Florida
October 6, 2020

I brought Makayla, my Keeshond, with us on this trip with the intention of introducing her to the ocean, but I have not wanted to deal with the amount of sand her curly fur will collect. Yet as the vacation winds down, sadly already I am more focused upon the vacation's ending than the activity of the day, I need to introduce the old dog to the ocean and the beach. And I need to be prepared to handle the sand that she will accumulate during her visit to the ocean.

Dogs have a special way of enjoying the beach. And I enjoy watching the dog enjoying the beach from my chair with my camera rolling. I find it especially humorous when Finnegan is startled by something and jumps straight up with all four feet.  

Ethan and Finnegan did get to play on the beach last evening as we celebrated Happy Hour. It was fun to watch the two of them run and play on the beach.

Another day.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, Florida 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Wash, Rinse, Repeat


Lefty Throwing the Football
Carlin Park, Jupiter, Florida
October 5, 2020

As I have written before, I do not know what to do with or how to characterize Tuesday. It is the day caught between the beginning and the middle of the week.

I was sitting on the beach last evening actually thinking about today and how my vacation would be over next Tuesday and I would be back at work. What a depressing thought. As I enter the last week of fun in the sun, my mind is already beginning to prepare for my return to the North and work and the grind of my daily life. 

Ethan Receiving the Football
Carlin Park, Jupiter, Florida
October 5, 2020

Yesterday was a great day for the beach. I got to play catch with my grandson who is visiting and we also splashed in the waves for a bit. The yellow flag was up and the waves were rough. There was a strong current and potential for undertow, so we were cautious. 

It was fun to be on the beach in the afternoon as the rain had cleared and the day brightened. Ethan was in school until 3 PM, so we didn't get to the beach until about 3:30 PM. But, it was fun nonetheless. Being able to be in school from anywhere in the world is a definite plus, if only the world were actually open. I saw a drone flying the beach and I realized that I have my drone and for some reason have not flown it so far on this trip. Perhaps today.

And so for Tuesday, I am hoping that it is a wash, rinse, repeat kind of day. The days remaining of my Florida escape are becoming numbered and we are already beginning to think too much about leaving.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Monday, September 28, 2020



Carlin Park Beach
Jupiter, Florida
September, 27, 2020

It is the ultimate measure of relaxation when my cell phone is being used only as a camera and I ignore the stream of texts and news that continue to arrive unabated. My mind focuses upon the clouds and the bed of sea shells in front of me as I listen to the waves sweep across the beach. 

Carlin Park, Jupiter, FL
September 27, 2020

Sitting under the colorful umbrella to help keep the damaging sun's rays from burning my skin while I look out to the east and consider the clouds. I enjoy the colors of the ocean mixing white, blue, and green and the pinks of the sun's fading rays reflecting in the clouds. The beach is anything but crowded and I can feel alone with my thoughts and of course the glass of wine in my hand.

It is fun to watch the shore birds play in the beach searching for food and rushing along the surf together or alone. 

Relax and watch the clouds as the pass. 

Another day in paradise? Not really, but close.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Physical Distancing at the Beach


Jupiter Island Beach
Jupiter, FL
September 2, 2020

The holiday weekend is upon us and it seems that lots of people are planning on heading to the beach. Frankly, in addition to doing some work at the condo I am also planning on heading to the beach.

I went to the beach twice yesterday, to two different Palm Beach County beaches. I did that after being greeted by the following headline: 

Coronavirus Florida: These beaches are open, closed for Labor Day holiday weekend

Fortunately, the beaches in my area are not closing for the weekend. 

Carlin Park Beach
Jupiter, Florida
September 2, 2020
On my two trips to the beach, the first being about 8:30 AM to Jupiter Island, I can report excellent physical distancing.

The beach at that hour was devoid of others and Chris and I had a great walk.

For our second trip to the beach, in the afternoon about 5:30 for Happy Hour, I waded into the ocean to get a shot of our spot on the beach. It, too, was almost deserted.  There is one interloper walking into the images, but other than than that our spot is not near any other beachgoers. 

The beaches have less people on them than the grocery store--which we have managed to visit only once! I like that trend. Beach three times and grocery store once. Maybe we can keep the ratio like that, or even better!

Beaches are great places to get away from the crowd!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tequesta, FL

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Coronavirus Canceled Vacation

Today is a day when the pandemic becomes real--too real, as it has affected our personal plans in a material and financial manner. 

Villa Near Lucca Italy
Note, it says Temporarily Closed
From Google Maps
Today is the day that Chris and I and five of our friends were supposed to fly to Rome, Italy, to begin a two-week vacation that would ultimately culminate on May 10 with our triumphal return to the US. 
We were leaving on a United Airlines flight departing Newark, NJ, this afternoon and arriving in Rome tomorrow morning. 

We had rented an apartment in Rome for a few days and then we were going to drive to Lucca, in Tuscany where we had a hilltop villa rented for almost two-weeks from which to base our travels through the region. In Rome we were going to do the big sites and also, of course, Vatican City. From Lucca we were going to Pisa, Florence, Sienna, Lucca, and so many other places. We were going to see art, the countryside, wineries, olive groves, the sea coast, and generally immersing ourselves in Italian culture and wine. Did I mention wine? 

Planning for this trip began during August of last year and the only thing we had not finalized were the rental cars. 

Getting refunds for the canceled trip has met with mixed results. 

We used Airbnb for the apartments in Rome. Refunds were a breeze.

We used VRBO for the villa in Lucca. Getting a refund has been a process and they still have not refunded our entire amount. Somehow they continue to keep about 14 percent of what we paid--and the entire villa was paid for in advance as required.

While we were on United Airlines for the flights and they agreed to refund our fare, the travel agency we used, ASAP, has been terrible and continues to sit of our refund. I have called them on multiple occasions and often get put on hold until the line goes dead. When I do get through, the agents promise action that never materializes. I am frustrated beyond belief at this process. 

So what have I learned for the future? I will not use VRBO--ever! And I will make my own travel arrangements with the airlines. As for travel insurance? No. Turns out travel insurance did not cover this event. 

Reschedule? Not yet. I am still evaluating the opportunities and of course, will the virus return next year to mess up future travel plans? Remember, the 1918 Spanish Flu actually lasted until 1920!

So, Chris and I continue ride out the stay-at-home order here in Maryland with only dreams for the lost Italian vacation. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Last Sunset

Sunset to the South Over the Beach
Jupiter Island Beach
Jupiter, Florida
November 18, 2019

Sunset to the East Over the Atlantic Ocean
Jupiter Island Beach
Jupiter, Florida
November 18, 2019
Last evening Chris and I continued our ritual of saying good-bye to the ocean. This is something that we do at the end of every trip as a way of recognizing the end of the vacation and fixing in our minds that last image of the ocean waves crashing on the beach. Last evening the surf was definitely strong and the ocean was angry. We have observed a lot of beach erosion during our visit. All of the beaches we visited have shown signs of erosion from the pounding of the surf. 

Jupiter Lighthouse Looking to the West
Intra-coastal Waterway
Jupiter Island Florida
November, 18 2019
Sunset to the West
Intra-coastal Waterway
Jupiter Island Florida
November, 18 2019 
But the real joy of last evening, as we visiting the ocean for one last time, was the spectacular sunset. It was one of those rare sunsets that fully encompassed the sky. We looked to the east across the ocean and we could see the reflections of the sunset in the clouds and looking to the south along the beach the sunset was also stunning. When we walked across Jupiter Island to stand on the Intra-coastal Waterway and face fully to the west, however, the sunset was awe-inspiring. It was a sunset to remember and I am very glad that I captured the memory of it in more than a few images. 

It will be a some months before I return to stand in the places where I stood last evening, but the memory of the last sunset will be with me for a while. The sunset was a true example of "raining fire in the sky" that John Denver sings of in his song Rocky Mountain High.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, Florida

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Rain, Cold, and Projects

Newly Illuminated Display Case in the Living Room
Tequesta, Florida
November, 9, 2019
The pace of projects around the house lessened, time coincident with rainy and colder weather that kept us indoors for most of the day. Chris and I did not make it to the beach due to the rain and cold. Let me define cold--low 70's.

Display Case
Tequesta, Florida
November, 9, 2019
We did manage one project as the puck lights arrived from Amazon enabling us to illuminate the display stands that we have. The project was fairly simple, but of course there were problems to over one. For instance, the cords were not long enough to complete the project in the manner that I had originally intended and so there has to be some improvisation. And then there was the matter of getting the appropriate black tape--black electrical tape just would not do the trick of holding and hiding the wires. 

Aside from that and a trip to Wal-mart to get essential household and kitchen items that we did not realize we needed until we actually tried living here, it was a sedate day. We did check out one thrift shop, but did not find any "must have" items.

In the end, it was a relaxing day. But also productive.

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Friday, November 8, 2019


Carlin Park Beach, Jupiter Florida
November 7, 2019
The beaches were crowded yesterday. Not with people, but with birds. 

A Flock  of Sanderlings (Sandpipers) on the Beach
Carlin Park Beach, Jupiter Florida
November 7, 2019

Chris and I walked the beach in the morning and later during the day went to enjoy the warm sun and relish in the waves crashing on the beach. It is November and we are enjoying time on the beach. And unlike some northern beaches, we are not wearing coats--we are actually more concerned about getting sunburned!

As we stroll the as yet uncrowded beaches, we are able to observe the wildlife. Soon, with the return of the snowbirds, these beaches will see a lot more people. During the afternoon yesterday as we sat on the Jupiter Island Beach, the birds seemed unconcerned by our presence and began to come within a few short feet of where we were. 

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Jupiter Island Beach, Jupiter Florida
November 7, 2019
Some of the birds are migrating and they are fun to watch. The semipalmated sandpipers were especially friendly even though we were not feeding them. 

Beach Trash
Carlin Park, Jupiter, Florida
November 7, 2019
Chris and I are not just visitors to the beach, but we are committed to trying to clean-up one small piece of the environment. Yesterday, we collected a lot of trash. I am wondering if it is trash from the Bahamas still washing up on the shore after the devastating hurricane earlier this year. We were amazed at the amount of trash washing up on the beach and all of it is a danger to the marine wildlife. Taking it out of the environment is something small that we can so. And yes, we have found a use for the plastic grocery bags. They make a great place to put the trash we are picking up and then depositing all of it in the appropriate receptacle. 

And off to start another day!

-- Bob Doan, Tequesta, FL

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

It has been a Week

Jupiter Lighthouse
January 28, 2019
It is hard to comprehend that it has been a week since I returned from South Florida. The weather here has ranged from bitter cold to unseasonably warm. I hope that we are on a warming trend, but I am a realist and know that it is only early February and Winter is just half over.

Chris and Finn on the Beach
January 28, 2019
I am reflecting fondly on the 10 days away from the cold. Although the weather in Florida was not idyllic, it was a very enjoyable trip nonetheless. Chris and I are looking forward to a return trip during the first days of Springtime. And, there should be many more visits to Florida in our future. 

I am, however, amazed at how quickly a week has passed since we departed Florida. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, January 26, 2019

What do you do on a Friday Evening in Florida?

Friends on the Intercostal Waterway Beach
Jupiter Island, Florida
January 25, 2019
Palm Trees at the Beach
January 25, 2019
What do you do on a Friday evening in Florida when it has been cool all day?

Go the the beach for Happy Hour, of course!

Yes, we had to wear jackets because the temperature was in the low 60s. And there was no thought of going in the water because the water was about 10 degrees warmer than the air and we would have developed hypothermia. But, sitting in the beach with friends enjoying the sun and waning rays of the afternoon sun is the perfect exclamation point to a great day. The beach was definitely not crowded as we were about the only crazies who ventured out--but it was worth the trip. 

Tequesta Trace from Above
Radio Flyer
January 25, 2019
The images were taken with my drone, Radio Flyer. It has become the ultimate selfie machine. 

Earlier in the day, as I was flying around the neighborhood where we are staying, I managed to get a really interesting Birdseye view image of the street. I am barely visible in the image, but I thought the patterns of the homes and the palms made an interesting visual.

I made a movie of the morning flight coming into the neighborhood. 

Friday was a great day and we started the evening with Happy Hour on the beach.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tequesta, Florida

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The Lighthouse

Jupiter Lighthouse
January 21, 2019
The lighthouse dominates the relatively flat landscape of Jupiter, Florida. It is the iconic symbol of the region and I always take a few images of it whenever I visit. 

I love the the lighthouse especially near sunset as the low, golden rays of the sun illuminate the red structure.

I have also been excited by the sky and the clouds as I have been vacationing this week. 

Chris and I actually got in 9 holes of golf yesterday. It was fun to be on the course, but the 40 mph gusts of wind certainly made the outing an adventure. A true adventure. Some of my best shots wound up getting carried into the bunkers by the wind. But, it was fun that my first golf outing of 2019 was with Chris in Florida!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tequesta, Florida

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Wind, surf, and birds

Little Blue Heron
Intercostal Waterway, Jupiter Island, Florida
January 22, 2019
Square Grouper, Jupiter, Florida
January 21, 2019
What a boring title for the blog this morning. I couldn't think of a better one, so I am going to go with it, for now.

While the weather has been breezy and cool, Chris and Have been throughly enjoying our mid-January (now possibly late-January) get away from the cold vacation.

I wish I could report that we have been playing golf every day, we haven't. Or that we have been on the beach all day every day, we haven't; but we are enjoying Florida as a place the snow hasn't covered. This morning's temperature was 72 degrees, but yet, because of the strong winds, it felt cool as we walked Finnegan around the neighborhood. 

But, we have been enjoying the birds of the shore along the beaches and waterways. 

Jupiter Island, Jupiter, Florida
January 20, 2019
Atlantic Ocean from Jupiter Island
January 22, 2019
The ocean has been very rough, it has an awesome beauty about it as the waves crash onto the beach. It is the Atlantic Ocean after all. 

The skies and the surf are beautiful.

They provide a rugged view of the solitary beach.

I am already beginning to feel the stress of the impending end of the vacation, although I am not sure what there is to do that I have not done? I have had my toes in the ocean and felt the warm sun on my face. I have been walking, despite the plantar fasciitis that I am struggling with in my right foot. 

We will see what today will bring to our South Florida adventure.

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tequesta, Florida 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Out of the Cold

Finnegan Saying Good-bye to Baltimore
January 19, 2019
OK, I just have to say it, I love Florida!

There, I got it out of my system. 

Finnegan in his Travel Kennel
January 19, 2019
Chris and I and Finnegan departed the snow-covered and cold Baltimore area yesterday for Florida. Yes, we are getting out of the region just before the next big storm.  

Finnegan was the hit of the day with so many people enjoying his antics as he was waiting to fly wearing his Aloha shirt. He was an extremely good dog in the airport and on the plane. 

We were a bit concerned about lines at the airport and arrived earlier than usual, but there were no lines because we took an afternoon flight. Since we made it through the check-in process so smoothly, we were able to spend some time at my favorite airport wine bar, Vino Volo. Nothing better than relaxing once on the other side of security with a glass of wine and a cheese plate. Perhaps the most impressive thing was that Vino Volo asked us if we wished to make a donation which would got to provide meals to the TSA and other airport federal workers who were not getting paid. We readily agreed. 

Even though our flight was delayed about 40 minutes, it was a good travel day. And I am in Florida. I walked Finnegan this morning without a coat! It was 70 degrees and felt fantastic. 

Good morning from Florida! Yes, it is raining, but it is a warm rain!

-- Bob Doan, writing from Tequesta, Florida

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Allure of the Seas - A Review

Allure of the Seas in Cozumel
August 29, 2018
Allure of the Seas is one of the largest ships afloat.  The Oasis class ranks fifth among the longest ships in the world (as a class) after some really large container ship and tankers. There are four ships in the Oasis class: Oasis, Allure, Harmony, and Symphony of the Seas.

Allure of the Seas in Casa Maya
August 31, 2018
We sailed on Oasis of the Seas last year and were excited about cruising on her sister ship, Allure of the Seas. It is a big ship that provides personalized amenities. Despite the number of passengers, we never felt crowded except when first boarding and then again at debarkation.

Allure of the Seas from a Beach in Casa Maya
August 31, 2018
The ship is a grand ship and we always felt comfortable. It is easy to navigate, well if you know fore from aft and port from starboard. There are effectively 16 decks that are easy to access. There are really 18 decks, but the top two are reserved for suites. The expensive suites.
Carousel on Allure of the Seas

The ship is full of entertainment possibilities and of course pool/deckside lounging. The adult area is fantastic and during our cruise we never had any problems finding deck chairs to lounge in, despite the size of the ship. The ship sports a Promenade Deck complete with shopping, food, and lounge opportunities. It has a large theater and we enjoyed a full production of Mama Mia, which was spectacular. There is a Boardwalk complete with carousel and also a Central Park with trees and walk ways. It is a diverse and exciting ship. In a seven night cruise I felt as if I was just earning the ship as the cruise ended.

My favorite spots on the ship were Vintages Wine Bar, the balcony of my stateroom, a deck chair in the Solarium, and singing in the piano bar with my family.

Allure of the Seas with Patrick and Tina in Roatan
August 30, 2018
The ratings:

Ratings note: I rated the boarding and debarkation process at Port Everglades under the Royal Caribbean blog I wrote yesterday.

Cabin and Cabin Service: A

  Chris and I had a balcony. I love balconies. It provides a window on the world. The cabin was clean, quiet, and comfortable.

Entertainment: A

  The shows and entertainment options were varied and provided a full range of opportunities. I most enjoyed Mama Mia, the Comedy Show, and the Texas Tenors.

Central Park on Deck 8 Looking Aft
Allure of the Seas
August 26, 2018
Dining in the Main Dining Hall: C

  The dining was good and solid. The food was well prepared and the servers were efficient and took special care of the boys. The major area for improvement: wine service at the table. The servers did not know the wines and as there were seven adults, it often got confusing when the servers could not remember who ordered which wine and even which red wine they had on the platter. On one occasion, I was served a white wine when I had ordered a red.

Embarkation and debarkation in ports: A

  A smooth operation. We never stood in a long line and towels and water were available in convenient locations either on the quay or in the ship.

Looking onto the Promenade Deck
Allure of the Seas
August 31, 2018
Shopping: B

  I don't go on a cruise to shop, but there were opportunities and the shopping on the Promenade Deck is available. There were generally lines in the one store in which I considered buying a souvenir item, and hence, I did not purchase anything.

Guest Services: A

 They were efficient even with long lines at the usual spots in the cruise. We had one small issue and they took care of it completely and without issue.

Sports Opportunities: A

  Everything is available. A running track, basketball, flow riders, and the fames zip line. I did not get to play miniature golf, although I had a club in my had at one point.

With the Grandsons on the Boardwalk
Allure of the Seas
Port Everglades
August 26, 2018
Ship Maintenance: A

  The ship appears as grand as it is and was well maintained. No areas were closed off for maintenance during the cruise. Even in the busiest places around the pools, the decks were clear and continuously maintained. 

Sailing Characteristics: A

  It is a big ship and it sails smooth. I noticed some gentle rocking only during high winds while in the dining rooms. The ship docks smoothly and I slept through the entire process at the end of the cruise in Port Everglades. 

The Crew: A

 All of the crew were fantastic. Our Cabin steward, our dining hall servers led the group, but every interaction we had with a crew member was professional and most all of them provided a time of day appropriate greeting. 

Allure of the Seas overall: A

  It is a great ship and crew. I highly recommend sailing on the ship and experiencing a BIG ship. It turns out to be much smaller than you believe. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Royal Caribbean Cruise Scorecard - A Review

It has been over a week since Chris's Retirement Cruise was completed and think it is time to do some critical reviews of the cruise and ports of call. I need to get these thoughts out for other travelers and to record what I remember about the various portions of the cruise.

The comments below relate to my experiences sailing with Royal Caribbean on Allure of the Seas from August 26 - September 2, 2018. the ship departed and returned to Port Everglades, Florida, near Ft Lauderdale.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Pre-Cruise Support - A

 Calling the cruise line is recommended if there are changes or when looking for pricing improvements. The agents on the phone are knowledgeable and helpful. Sometimes the process takes a long time, but in the end they worked to help us get the best deal. This was a complicated trip given that there were four cabins and family units involved. And there were changes. The agents handled the changes and were able to keep the cruise on track for everyone. I was a bit sad that given we were reserving four cabins that we were not offered an upgrade.

Boarding Process in Ft Lauderdale - A

  It was smooth and efficient. I think it took less than 20 minutes from when the taxi dropped us off with our luggage until we were on the ship and ready to cruise. The process was smooth and efficient. It really helped that we had completed all of our required paperwork beforehand. The addition of the picture submission during the pre-arrival registration process made the boarding process smoother.

Royal Caribbean Web Page 
Royal Caribbean Web Site - C

  The site is complex and not user friendly. It was easy to get lost in the site and not complete the proper forms. That written, the site is comprehensive and contains nearly everything to ensure a successful cruise. There are some things that the site does not make clear enough, especially the need to make reservations for shows on the Oasis-class ships. While there is no cost, the need for reservations for some activities needs to be clearer.

Smartphone App
Royal Caribbean Smartphone App - C

  The app has so much promise, but it just doesn't get the job done. I did not purchase wifi for the cruise, but the app was supposed to work despite that. It did have some basic functionality, but it did not display my daily activity and reservations and the ships activities differed from those actually provided.

Debarkation in Ft Lauderdale - F

  On September 2, 2018, this was a disaster. I am sure that there must have been a problem with the computers that Customs was using, but our projected departure time was delayed from 8:45 AM until 10:30 AM. The real problem was the lack of transparency in understanding the problem. The boards just continues to move the projected debarkation times back without explanation. I assess that Royal Caribbean may need to separate domestic from foreign travelers because once we actually got out of the lines and into the baggage and customs app it took only a few minutes to clear and be outside ready to head off to the airport. There apparently was a problem processing international returnees. Mind you, everyone got on the ship in Ft Lauderdale. How hard can it be?

Will I Sail with Royal Caribbean Again?

 Definitely! Overall the experience was great. I have sailed on three other cruise lines and from four other ports so I do have a small basis for comparison.


I will review the ship and each port of call during the next few days.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bring on the Towels

Towel Animal
Allure of the Seas
August 27, 2018
One of the things that both Chris and I look forward to when away on a cruise is the creativity of our cabin stewards with respect to the towel animals they create for our enjoyment.

Towel Animal
Allure of the Seas
August 29, 2018
On the big ships we have travelled, generally, the towel animals appear on the 2nd, 4th, and 6th days. We have been on other ships where they appear more frequently, but on the bigger ships we have been told that the number of extra towels that get used for animals is a significant drain on the supply.

This year we were surprised by the final of the three towel animals, it was a bat. We have never seen a bat in previous cruises. We thought the bat was very creative and cute. Almost cute enough to take home, but we didn't.

Towel Bat
Allure of the Seas
August, 31, 2018
It is funny the things that we begin to look forward to as cruises progress. Some people are all about the formal nights, or lobster feast, but I enjoy the towel animals and relaxing on the deck by the hot tub. Last year I visited a hot tub on three occasions--all on our cruise. This year's cruise saw me in the hot tub twice, and those will likely be my only forays into a hot tub for the year.

The towel animals provide some comic relief and also remind us of the pets we have left in the care of others while we are cruising the high seas. They provide a connection to the familiarity of home while we are away on a much appreciated vacation.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD
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