Following Hurricane Matthew - Winter 2017 travel blog


I'm beginning to wonder if somebody is trying to tell us something. When we checked into the hotel in Fort Lauderdale, we ended up in a handicapped room. No asked if we wanted or needed one. The room was large of course - large enough for a person to move around in a wheel chair. After living in the motor home where we have to doh-si-doh around each other, the space felt luxurious. The downside was the bathroom. In order to access the sink from a chair, there was absolutely no counter space. There's nothing I hate more than having to retrieve my tooth brush and cosmetics from the floor or the toilet top.

On the ship we are also in a handicapped room; this we knew ahead of time. It was advertised to us as a more spacious cabin. If a handicapped person needed it, they would move us to a nicer cabin for the same price. We went for it. Once again we have lots of floor space - what someone in a wheel chair or scooter would need. But the bathroom storage space is half of what a normal cabin has. The closet a special gizmo that flips out so you can hang your clothes while seated. This means that there is no area with enough full length space to hang a dress. Trade-offs. We hope we never have to reserve handicapped facilities on purpose, but it's good to know what it's all about.

When people contemplate booking a cruise, they often are afraid of the super large ships. They fear standing in lines and being overwhelmed by people. The Harmony of the Seas is the largest cruise ship afloat at the moment, capacity 6,400. We have sailed on her sisters, the Oasis and the Allure of the Seas, who are only inches smaller. Experience has taught us that Royal Caribbean has learned how to manage ever larger crowds a little at a time, as each class of ships they built grew ever bigger. Check in today was very smooth. Even the line for security was on a few people long. The key seemed to be having a check in facility that was spacious enough to have sufficient check in desks and staffing it accordingly.

Since we were allowed to board before the cabins were ready, the sitting and dining space got a bit crowded, but it was temporary. Because the basic floor plan is the same on all the RCL ships this size, even a navigationally impaired person such as myself, could easily find the best places to eat and linger since they were the same places we lingered on the Allure.

We often wonder when it is the optimal time to book a cruise and get the best price. We booked this one over year ago before the ship was even built and got a price less than half of what they have been charging lately for a similar cabin. We think we are in high season now, when people who live in the north are ready for winter to be over and make their escape. This is probably the best price we have ever had. We've heard that you can get good deals last minute, but when you have to fly to the cruise port, last minute air prices are usually prohibitive. It was nice not having to worry about that this time. Cruise lines often entice you to book your next cruise while you are still onboard. They allow you to book for a minimal reservation fee, but when it comes time to pay the rest, the price is pretty much the price you can get anywhere else. Sometimes they sweeten the pot with a little extra on board credit which is always nice to have.

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