Tag: cruising

One Of My Favorite Things About Cruising

One Of My Favorite Things About Cruising

It’s no secret that I love taking cruises; this year, I’ll have taken 3 and have 3 on tap for next year as well.  I put together this little video which is a nice peaceful indication of one of my many favorite things about cruising: The view, and the relaxing ambience of spending time on my balcony while out at sea.

The only sound heard is the wind blowing, and the water rushing by below against the hull of the ship. It’s truly serene.

Check out this video, but be sure to wear a nice set of headphones and enjoy in a darkened quiet room. If you’re like me, it’ll take you there…

 

June 2017 Trip Photo Highlights

June 2017 Trip Photo Highlights

I definitely had a great time on this trip, but not just as a ship-going passenger. The photographer in me always loves the chance to snap a great photo, so here are some of my favorites from the whole journey.

I took most of these pictures, with the obvious exception of the ones of me which were taken by the photographers onboard the ship. Since I don’t often like to take the time to set up all of my studio gear and get all dressed up for a selfie, I enjoy taking the opportunity for a nice professionally-shot image like the ones I can get onboard.

I got some great shots of a few guys up on the Flowrider too. I got a chance to chat with them, and made sure to get their e-mails so I could send them the shots after I’d gotten home.

Enjoy these shots – there may be some repeats from the live blogs, but there may be some new ones you might not have seen. Either way, thank you all again so much for taking this trip with me, and I look forward to sharing more with you on my next trips!

 

Trip Day 4: First Sea Day – Cruise Day 2

Trip Day 4: First Sea Day – Cruise Day 2

One of my many favorite things about cruising is the sea days. It’s one of the times you get to enjoy the ship and all of its amenities, and believe me Anthem does not disappoint in any way.

I started out with a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer buffet, and then decided to walk around since I had some time to kill before my first planned event. I’m going to deviate for just a moment, and call out something totally new to me in the way of cruising: An App that Royal Caribbean calls Royal IQ.  For me being the “planner type” this app is a godsend. It’s not the greatest app, but it really helps. It’s in dire need of an update, but it does what it does nicely. It allows me to view the Cruise Compass from my phone, and add things to my calendar!  I’m definitely not the “get on the boat and figure it out type” – I need stuff planned in advance.  I even spoke to people who had missed out on certain activities because they didn’t plan in advance. As much as it sucks, for those who don’t like to plan, you may want to open your minds! Anyway, the moral of the story:  Royal IQ is great and I wish it was available on more ships. It seems to only be on Quantum class ships (Anthem, Ovation, Quantum of the Seas) and Harmony/Symphony of the Seas… but I’ll throw a party when they bring Wow Bands and Royal IQ to Majesty. It’s probably not going to happen, but one can dream, right?

So after breakfast I walked around and did a morning Periscope while looking out over the wake. I’m a firm believer in that the wake view truly is the best view:

I then spent some time checking out the Flowrider, which is something I’d been interested in trying but never got up the courage to do so when I was on Freedom last August. They were doing stand-up surfing, and most of the folks who were doing so were quite good. A few were obvious first-timers, but none with any overly hilarious wipeouts. I chatted with a few nice people there, which is another great benefit of cruising. It’s very easy to strike up a conversation with just about anyone. I mentioned thinking about trying it, and one of the guys encouraged me to do so. More on that later.

It had come time for my North Star experience, and this was really neat. The North Star is an observation pod that extends up about 300 feet above the top of the ship, and gives you panoramic views all around.

The experience was neat, but not something I feel the need to have to do again right away.

When the pod is fully raised, being so high up, the movement of the ship causes the capsule to shimmy quite a bit and it can feel strange. If you are prone to motion sickness, you may want to sit this one out, or ride it on a port day when the ship is docked. Plus, the ride only goes up for about 10 minutes then back down, and doesn’t lower down over the side of the ship. Royal had to cut the rides shorter since so many people wanted to do them. They took the ride length from 30 down to 10 minutes; I think it’d be interesting to be hanging off the side of the ship, that would be very cool. Perhaps some day they’ll offer different options for longer ride experiences.

After the North Star, I decided it was time to try the Flowrider.

Let me just say… I am glad that I did.

What a blast.

Granted, the bodyboarding is the easier of the two options (the other being stand-up surfing). I figured it best to start easy and go from there. After my flow riding experience, I headed to the pool and Solarium for a quick few dips, and had lunch in the Windjammer.

I then headed up to the pool area for the belly flop competition. Even though this is a standard activity on all of the cruises I’ve been on, it’s still fun to see how different cruise directors host the event. There are similarities, of course, but every single time it’s been different, all of them equally enjoyable in their own way. I’ll gladly ride the Flow Rider all day, but don’t think you’d ever catch me belly flopping, especially on purpose.

At this point I’d been outside for most of my day so far, so I wanted to get out of the sun for a bit and decided to partake in the “Battle of the Sexes Trivia” which, I’m told, is a toned down version of a more full-on game show of men vs. women. Evidently things had gotten fairly raunchy on past cruises, so they’ve turned it into a trivia event instead. It was still fun, and the ladies definitely had the dirtier minds on this cruise. Needless to say, while their minds were in the gutter, us gentlemen actually pulled through with the win, and we all received our obligatory Royal Caribbean gold medal.

This cruise marks my first as a Platinum level member in the Crown & Anchor Society, so I was invited to a special “Top Tier” event over in Two70, so I headed there right after trivia. I couldn’t miss this, since Two70 is one of my favorite rooms on the ship. If you are looking for a cruise, be sure to give Anthem (or any other Quantum class ship for that matter (Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, or Anthem of the Seas)) a good look, if nothing else for the experience of the entertainment in Two70. Trust me on this.

The Top Tier event included a cocktail hour with a little meet & greet with the captain and his officers. They also recognized the top cruisers on this particular voyage. There was a guy who looked to be around my age who had done, I believe, around 130 cruises with Royal so far.

Not 130 nights, 130 cruises. All I have to say, is “hashtag goals.”

In reality, I don’t know if I’ll ever take 130 cruises in my lifetime, because as I’m realizing it I don’t love the idea of cruising solo. Cruises are definitely better with at least one person along with you. I have absolutely no regrets about my current trip, and am having a fabulous time, but I now know from my firsthand experience that cruising definitely is better with friends.

After the top tier event, I realized I was running late for dinner and needed to get back to my room to get changed. Tonight’s dinner, was at Jamie’s Italian. It was delicious, and I really enjoyed it.  After a few quick professional photos taken, since tonight was formal night I was dressed up some of my new duds I had to take part, I headed to the Schooner Bar for some music trivia.  I met two sisters who were traveling together, and we did pretty well as a team scoring a 17/20.

I finished out my night by catching the headliner comedienne, Michele Balan. This was her first performance of the night, which on cruises is usually the “family friendly” version. I enjoyed her set, but it consisted mostly of humor about/geared toward middle-aged women. She didn’t say anything that got the crowd in a wild uproar, but she kept us chuckling for sure.  Her late night performance is coming up in about half an hour, but I don’t think I’m going to make it since I’m getting all the telltale signs that my body is saying “Dude, go to bed.”  I’m an early riser, and thus an early sleeper as well.

Tomorrow, we arrive in Bermuda, and I’m definitely excited to get off the ship and explore one of my favorite places which I haven’t visited in at least 15 years. We’re only in port for half a day, so I’m planning to make the most of the day.

On that note: So long 35, it’s been real.  Here’s to another year and new experiences. What better way to turn 36 than on a cruise visiting an island paradise?

Some Things Look Better On Paper :-)

Some Things Look Better On Paper :-)

When I plan trips, I always like leaving as early as possible on the departure day. This lets me get to my destination as early as possible, so I’ve got the full day to explore and enjoy it. I plan every trip the same way, and, like clockwork, I always second guess myself as the day approaches. I have those moments of thinking “What the heck was I thinking booking a flight out at 6:30am in the morning???”

I usually have these thoughts the day before, specifically the night before when I’m trying to go to bed at an ungodly early hour. I love to travel, and can barely contain my excitement before a big trip. I have yet to try the whole “staying up all night” approach, but since I can’t sleep on the plane (I’ve tried) I find myself trying to get even an hour or two of sleep before I leave.

Let’s take a look at this picture of the start of my itinerary; you can click on it to see a larger version:

 

 

I’m very granular when it comes to planning travel, because travel is supposed to be fun. I’d rather get as much planning done as possible in advance so I can just focus on enjoying it.  I use an app called TripIt for planning all of my travel, since it allows me to share my itineraries with family and friends. It’s extremely useful.

I’m due to drop off my car at 5:15am, which will give me enough time to get to the airport and through security. My flight doesn’t leave until 6:30am, but I’d rather be early than rush through and risk being late, or even worse, missing my plane entirely. Anyone who’s traveled through Austin-Bergstrom International Airport knows security lines can be hit or miss, regardless of the time of day.

Dropping off the car at 5:15am means I have to leave my apartment by about 4:30am or so. I should probably get up around 4:00am to have time to get a shower and quick bite in before I leave. This means that, to get enough sleep (I’m good with about 6 hours on an average night) I need to go to bed by 10pm. I can already say that’s not going to happen.

Maybe I’ll be in bed by 11:30pm, but probably be too excited to fall asleep. I may drift off to sleep by about 1, then be woken up by my alarm just 3 short hours later.

On the one hand… What was I thinking?

But on the other hand…and, I think, the bigger of the two proverbial “hands”:  I can’t wait, and I look forward to losing sleep at the expense of what looks to be a really fun upcoming trip.

I’ll be streaming live from Bermuda via Periscope, so be sure to download the app for iOS or Android and follow me on there (@iamjohnbamber).

I’ll be posting live blogs here as well, if you want to just see the current cruise postings you can do so at johnscruise.live or past cruise stuff at johnscruises.blog.

 

Trip Update

Trip Update

I’m sitting here writing this on my phone, sitting in the main theater on the Majesty of the Seas, while waiting for the next show to begin. 

To say this trip has been fun, or “a blast”, is just an understatement. It’s exactly what I’ve been needing as a little respite from reality. I’ve got some vlogs to edit, and while I was going to upload them daily that’s just a lot of work to do while on a vacation. I’ll take care of those when I get home.

I’m having an incredible time, and this tiny ship has easily become one of my new favorites. The captain said, in his address the other night, that the Majesty of the Seas isn’t the youngest or largest ship in the fleet but it’s got the biggest heart of any of the others out there. I couldn’t agree more.  

More to come later; it’s hard to believe tomorrow is the last full day of the trip, but I’ve got 2 more cruises in 2017, and 2 booked already for 2018. I love cruises and will take as many as I can.

YOLO!

 

 

 

Bahamas, Here I Come

Bahamas, Here I Come

I think it’s time for a cruise!

I’m super-excited to be embarking soon on the Majesty of the Seas, heading to the Bahamas on a 4-night cruise with one of my good friends, who has never been on a cruise before! Even though my first cruise was so many years ago, I still remember it like it was yesterday.

I remember walking on board the Horizon, a ship no longer in operation, setting sail to Bermuda for a week-long getaway. I remember this being one of my first moments being exposed to beautiful tropical weather, crystal clear blue and green waters, and white sandy beaches like nothing I’d ever seen.

I’d gone back to Bermuda a few more times, and even on the last cruise I took in August ’16 visited Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas called CoCoCay. We’ll be stopping there on this trip too, so that’ll be a nice day of doing…well…absolutely nothing. We’ll also be stopping at Nassau, the Bahamas’ capital city. I’ve never been there, but I’ve seen a number of videos about it and have a few ideas of some fun things to do.

Anyone have any suggestions on things to do in Nassau? Comment below!

Follow the blog for pictures, and feel free to comment on any suggestions of fun things to do in Nassau!