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02MAY2023-Changes and Hotels

Ahoy! Only 188 days left!

Our vessel is currently in "Wet Dock," which means she's not sailing and is having some refit done. Word is this is very minor stuff - paint, maybe some new furniture, but nothing that will alter the deck plans. She'll be back on the seas this weekend.

By now, you should have:

  1. Booked your air travel.

  2. Checked to make sure your passport expires AFTER May of 2024.

If you haven't, the sooner the better! Let me know if you need help.

Since COVID, a lot has changed in the cruising world, and as this is our first time on Royal Caribbean in many years, I thought I'd write a note about what changes there have been.

Everything below is subject to change:

  • Housekeeping is only once a day now. You pick morning or evening.

  • Lifeboat drills are done on your phone, with a check in at your muster station. Very quick and easy.

  • Internet has been upgraded to Starlink. It should be very fast (for a ship). But it's not included, and there are two tiers. The cheaper tier blocks a lot of common sites. More info.

  • The Royal Caribbean app will allow folks to text chat with each other without an Internet package while on board. You will want to get it.

  • Royal Caribbean is not as inclusive as Celebrity, and you'll notice some differences. Room service has more fees, dinner in the Main Dining Room has special items available for an upcharge, and certain dishes are "one-per-customer."

  • We're dining at 5:30PM, and dining times have been shortened. This means we won't be able to linger at the dinner table as we have in the past, but... we'll be done early enough to invade a bar or show or whatever. I'll be modifying the table items that I provide to accommodate.

  • This is an older ship, and though not small, she's a bit smaller than the Solstice Class we've been on for the last several cruises. That said, Serenade of the Seas is a favorite among frequent cruisers for her yacht-like feel and lack of crowds. We've never been on a ship like this before.

I'll be on the cruise right before this one to reconnoiter and learn as much as I can. I'll be sure to report back. :) HOTELS: With all cruises, I recommend folks fly in the day before and spend the night in a hotel. This allows space for problems with flights, weather etc. You CAN fly in the same day as the cruise so long as you land by Noon ET, but it's a bit riskier. Besides, why not treat Miami as a port? I will be staying at this hotel. I don't have group rates or anything, but I think this is a good choice for many of you. Staybridge Suites Miami International Airport, an IHG Hotel I chose this hotel because:

  1. It has an airport shuttle

  2. It includes breakfast

  3. Every room is a suite

  4. It's close to the airport

  5. It has a bar and lots of space to hang out

  6. At $181 a night including taxes, it's a good value

There are TONS of hotels in Miami, but they're cheaper near the airport than near the ship. AND - you're likely to have time to kill the morning before the cruise, so getting to the ship on time is not a problem. It's about 20 minutes away. NOTE: Miami has a lot of funky hotels in weird places with weird policies. Some have shared bathrooms, no front desk, etc. Make sure you do your research especially if it seems like a very good deal. I'm happy to help. LOTS more emails coming as the trip draws closer, including some survey questions for you. As always, please let me know if you have any concerns or questions! I'm looking forward to greeting you all. Jeff

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