which in this case doesn’t mean Cheap & Awful (courtesy of Maus) as standing in for the store of those initials. Crown & Anchor instead, as the loyalty club of frequent Royal Caribbean cruisers.
I know that in the past I have mentioned in the past that transatlantic crossings seem to draw the frequent cruisers like flies. Traditionally it has been a combination of good prices and a lot of cruising days. More recently, it has been more about the number of days (and route) with a little less consideration to the price as it has steadily climbed. The only bargains seem to be available at the point that airfares to get to the origin or return to home skyrocket. It still is an option if one has frequent flyer miles to burn.
The rumor was that we had way too many senior cruisers board in Rotterdam to be augmented by more than 1200 boarding in Southampton with the final count being somewhere around 2400 – more than a third of the ship. The logistical challenges alone can be interesting. Where, for example do you hold your evening cocktail hour when there are that many people eligible? Celebrity had an easy answer – cancel the 1700-1900 canapé & drinks instead giving those eligible drink coupons. It does work and I didn’t hear all that much complaining from the sheep. Apparently Royal cruisers are not as kind. Even though they now have 3 drink coupons per night built into their sea pass cards (to be used at almost every lounge) it seems that there is an expectation of munchies to accompany those drinks. I mean really, what are the possibilities of going without food on a normal cruise such that snacks with drinks make a difference?
Anyway, the solution here was to hold the evening hour (which actually runs from 1700-2030) in multiple venues. There is the Diamond Lounge on Deck 4. It might hold a couple hundred packed in like sardines in a crunch. Then there is Blaze, a bar/club type atmosphere also on Deck 4 which probably can managed upwards of 300 and still be able to walk through the club. Dazzles (Deck 8/9) is a two tiered Disco venue and finally there is the Suites Lounge which is only available for the non-suite guests during the evening hours on this sailing. It is large, open, light and echoes to the point you can’t carry on a conversation. Rather than comfortable chairs, there are cafeteria like 4-tops and chairs. I am not impressed, but then no one asked me.
After attempting to find anyone I know for the last several evenings I decided it is easier to drop in, grab munchies, relax for a short while and take off. This preserves my sanity and hearing for important things like catching on on CME and knitting.