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JEFF OUT OF CONTACT First piece of business is that I'm leaving on a trip and may not have Internet for an extended period of time. Between now and American Thanksgiving, November 24, my Dad Joe Wagg will be available if there are any issues. He's at absocruise@gmail.com. I'll be heading to South America and Antarctica. If you'd like to follow my adventure, here's the link. DRINK PACKAGES

Royal has listed drink packages and some excursions for you to book. We'll address excursions later, but drink packages need some attention.

Unless you are a Diamond member or above, this cruise does not include drinks. You can always get standard coffee, tea, iced tea and usually some form of punch at meals, but sodas, specialty coffees, bottled water and alcohol are all charged per drink. Prices are similar to what you'd find in a bar in a major city. There are a number of drink packages available, and you can access them by logging in to RoyalCaribbean.com and click on the Manage My Cruise menu item. Bottom line: the alcoholic beverage package which includes top shelf drinks will cost $2,246.16 per cabin. This includes gratuity. Both people in the cabin have to sign up per Royal policies. Solo travelers pay $1123.08, of course, This is what's included: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/media-assets/pmc/content/dam/menus/en/3222/3222.pdf

This is a 20% discount over the normal price, and if you're committed to a drink package, this is the best deal you're going to find. To my way of thinking, for a 14 day cruise you'll save money if you just order drinks as you'd like them. On longer cruises, the average number of drinks consumed per day goes down, and you'll not have access to this plan when you're in port, so you'd have to pay for drinks there anyway. However, there is a psychological element to "not having to worry about it" and just ordering what you want with no slips or running tally. I get that, and that might make the package worth it for you. Other packages that might be of interest: The $9 per day soda package is probably worth it if you're a heavy soda drinker, and it can be booked for just one person, not the whole cabin. This is a 30% discount. The specialty coffee packages may also be worth it, and there's a new specialty coffee card that gives you 15 drinks for about $2.50 a piece. Also, on boarding day, guests may bring onboard two (2) 750 ml bottles of personal wine or champagne per stateroom in their carry-on luggage. This is meant to be consumed in your stateroom, but no one's going to stop you from filling a glass and heading to the bar. Have a look at the packages, and let me know if you have any questions. This is the cheapest time to buy any of them, but there's no rush: it's likely this offer will be available for months.

I hope everyone is hale and hearty, and looking forward to our grand adventure next year! ~ Jeff Wagg

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Hello everyone! Why not take that time to do some things that can start your trip TODAY!

1) Read About the Canal

There are MANY books about the canal from many different perspectives. One can consider it from an engineering point of view, for historical or political point of view, or considering the ecology of the area. Here's a list sorted by Amazon:


https://amzn.to/3Vt6dph 2) Learn Some Spanish You won't need to speak Spanish to enjoy this cruise—at all—but it can be fun to learn a bit of the local language. Spanish is spoken Miami, Cozumel, Cartagena, Costa Rica and Mexico, so you'll have a chance to practice! Many of us on the cruise use Duolingo. If you need a Duolingo buddy, let me know! No tienes que ser un experto para aprender mucho. And it's free! https://www.duolingo.com/

3) Read Caribbean by James Michener This is an old book now, and written by someone firmly mired in the mid-20th century, but it's a great narrative history of much of the region we'll be traveling in. No, it's not scholarly, but it's a great tale, and includes such things as Sir Francis Drake visiting our port, Huatulco, and an imagination of what life was like before Columbus in 1310. If you like pirate stories, you'll love this. Various formats available: https://amzn.to/3Cw5Am3

4) Familiarize yourself with Merlin.

This crossing will be a great chance to add to your life list as we'll be far at sea and potentially be in rainforests and mountains on two different continents! Merlin, by Cornell is the premier bird identification app, and its new "ID bird by Sound" feature is amazing. Just leave your phone on and it will tell you what birds are communicating near you. You'll need to download the proper "paks" for the region, and some are quite large, so learning how to use this app now is a great idea. Oh, and it's free too! https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/

5) Start thinking about excursions It's early yet, but it doesn't hurt to think about what you're going to do on shore. MOST (not all) of you will be getting some sort of cabin credit which can help offset the costs of excursions sold by the cruise line, but at this point, don't limit yourself. Imagine what you'd like to do, and see if you can do it! Some things you'll have the chance to do:

  • Ride an airboat and look for alligators (Miami)

  • SCUBA and Snorkeling (many places)

  • Ziplines (Costa Rica)

  • Close encounters with Dolphins/Manatees (Cozumel)

  • Swim with Stingrays (Grand Cayman)

  • Climb a mud volcano (Cartagena)

  • Visit a 16th century Mexican village and coffee plantation (Huatulco)

  • See La Brea Tarpits (LA)

We'll talk a lot more about things to do as we get closer, but dreaming is best when started early! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Tempus fugit! Jeff 802-734-0662

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Updated: Nov 5

… or at least they should be. I’ll update this as we go on and get more questions.

  1. Will I get seasick? Probably not, but there are no guarantees. We will be sailing in normally calm seas, but everyone has a different level of sensitivity to seasickness. The good news is that there are effective over the counter and prescription treatments that can ease any discomfort. Talk to your doctor before you board. An anecdote: Jeff is prone to motion-sickness and has been on many dozens of cruises. He's only had seasickness once, and just for a couple of hours (during a hurricane!)

  2. I have a dietary concern. What should I do? The ship will bend over backwards to meet your needs. Just let them know what you need, and they'll provide. Sugar-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are available, as well as allergen-free meals.

  3. What currencies do I need? Unless you'd like to collect some local currency, there's really no need to have anything other than US currency, and you'll be able to use credit cards for nearly everything. It's not uncommon for change to be given in the local currency, which is nice for collecting.

  4. How are bags dealt with? It's a bit like the airport, but not as difficult. When you arrive at the pier, people will be there to take your bag either at the curb or just inside the terminal. The bags will be delivered to your room by 7PM. It's advisable to carry on anything you'll need for the night, including clothes to wear at dinner.

  5. Are their restrictions of what I can bring on board? Yes, and some are a bit odd. You are not allowed to bring beverages on board, especially alcoholic beverages, with the exception of 2 sealed bottle of wines. You are also not allowed to bring irons, steamers, extension cords or anything with an open flames. Drones also have restrictions. For a complete list, click here.

  6. I use a CPAP. Is that OK? Yes. Your stateroom attendant will make sure you have the appropriate water for your unit. It's a good idea to let Jeff know if you need one, so he can add a note to your account.

  7. Can I bring a wheelchair or scooter? Yes, that's a common thing. If you'd like a rent a motorized scooter on board, that's also possible. Here's one company who can help with that: https://scootaround.com/en/cruise-scooter-rentals

  8. Are there US-style plugs? There are US-style plugs in each cabin on the desk, but there aren't many. The ship is being refit before our cruise, and they MIGHT add USB ports by the beds, but they probably won't be there. Bringing a power bank that you can charge during the day can be helpful. Also, there are many European-style plugs on board, which you can use with an inexpensive adapter like this one. Note: this DOESN'T change the voltage. It's meant for computer and phone chargers that can adapt to International voltage.

  9. How do I get to the ship/airport? Lyft/Uber or a Taxi will have no problem getting you to the ship. Just let them know that you want to go to the Miami cruise port, and that you're sailing on Serenade of the Seas. You may need to show your passport while you pass through the vehicle checkpoint.

  10. What do I do about flights? It's too early to book flights now, but when the time comes, Jeff will send a reminder. You can book airfare on your own, or through the cruise line. Lately, the cruise lines have been offering discounts, and if you do book through them, they take responsibility for making sure your flight gets you to the ship. If you do want to book your own flights, try to arrive the night before or no later than 11AM on the day of sailing (Nov 7). Your return flight should be after Noon on the day we arrive (Nov 21).

  11. Can I bring my own drinks? Each cabin can bring a total of two 750ml bottles of wine or champagne during initial boarding. No sodas, beer, or hard liquor. Any other beverages purchased on shore and brought aboard will be stored by the ship and returned to you on the last day. Looking for another answer? Email Jeff and let him know! jeff@wagg.com





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