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Another cruise in the books! Our Royal Caribbean cruise recap

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Two years ago, I wrote a post after we took our first Royal Caribbean cruise, comparing it to Carnival. We do most of our cruises on Carnival, so it was nice to try another cruise line and compare the two. You can read that comparison here.

Here we are, two years later, and we just finished our second Royal Caribbean cruise this morning. This time, we booked a three night cruise, paying more than we usually do, so that it was on weekend where the kids had an extra day off of school (so they only had to miss one day), and so that we could go back to Coco Cay. On the last Royal Caribbean cruise we took, we went to Coco Cay, their private island, and we loved it. We had relaxed and snorkeled for 7  hours that day, and we were looking forward to doing that again this time. It was the reason we booked this cruise and was to be the main attraction. We usually pay around $1100-1200 to take a 4-5 night cruise on Carnival. This Royal cruise was three nights and was $1500, so we were paying $500 per night to be on that ship.

I'm sorry to say that we pulled up to where Coco Cay is, and then they announced that the waves/wind were too strong to tender us to the island, so they canceled the stop. To those of us on the ship it didn't seem bad, but they nixed it and that was that. They turned the boat around, slowed the speed, and made for home. The main attraction and reason we booked this cruise was gone, just like that! What a disappointment. I was talking to others on the ship and from what I hear, it happens a lot. One woman told me that she believes they cancel that stop more than they actually go there (and this was from her own experience as a seasoned Royal cruiser). All we got was a "sorry, stop canceled" bit and that was it. No credit to our account, no money off on booking a future trip, nothing. We paid for one thing, we didn't get it, and that's that! As it turns out, I just read that they broke ground in April 2017 on a pier at Coco Cay, so that tendering will not be necessary, and they can stop canceling the stop so much. Great, that's exactly what they need!

This was my 9th cruise (8th for the kids). I've been on Disney and Princess once, Carnival five times, and now Royal twice. I don't plan to take another cruise with Royal anytime in the near future. Disney and Princess are far better than Carnival and Royal. They are in a class of their own. However, they cost way more than Carnival and Royal, which puts them out of of my budget, because we usually cruise once a year. Between Carnival and Royal, I much prefer Carnival and will be sticking with them. They are a good value for the price and are family friendly. There's always something for our family to do on Carnival and we always have a great time. Royal, on the other hand, both times has seemed to lack good activities for us. I can only sit on the deck so long and read. I've only gotten bored on a cruise twice and both times it was with Royal.

The day they canceled our stop we perused the schedule of events to see if there was something for us to do. The planner listed a "soccer tournament," and my son was very excited and went to it. There were 10 kids that showed up to do it, and one adult. The staff said it was for adults only (it didn't say that on the planner), and the tournament was canceled because there was only one adult who wanted to participate. They cancel it, leaving 10 kids who wanted to take part in it, standing there. Why  not have it for the kids, as those are who is actually interested in such a thing? On Carnival, the kids always participate in the sports tournaments. My daughter likes to use the pool, but unfortunately the main one was closed for much of the cruise, because they said someone vomited in it. Luckily, they had it back open on the last day that our port call was canceled, and she was able to get some swim time in.

While the food is better on Royal than on Carnival, I still prefer Carnival. As a vegetarian family, Royal doesn't put much effort in to be vegetarian friendly. Carnival's food may not be all that tasty, but at least they label the "vegetarian" dishes as such at the buffet. This is something they sadly don't do on either Royal ship we have been on. On this Royal ship they had a Johnny Rockets. We paid the premium ($7 per person) to eat there, because we love Johnny Rockets' veggie burger (which I've written about on this site before), only to be served the same cruise ship veggie burger and fries we could have gotten for free on the deck. I'm not joking, because we had it on the deck, ordering it from the grill and it was the same thing. The restaurant looks like a Johnny Rockets, but the food was not their signature Streamliner veggie burger that I've eaten for many years, unfortunately. Carnival has better service, better entertainment, better prices, and I've yet to have a stop canceled while on one of their ships. 

The good thing is that there are multiple cruise lines. This way, there is something for everyone. We are all looking for something different in a cruise line, including ports, entertainment, budget, food, etc. While I am not a fan of Royal, many others are. While I like Carnival, others don't like it. While I loved Princess and Disney, it doesn't fit my budget to do it yearly, but it may for other people. There are numerous options for cruising and we all have to find what works best for us!

Ship review: We went on the Enchantment of the Seas for this cruise. The room was extremely cramped, with the kids bunk beds directly above us (kind of freaks me out). We were on the second floor near the front of the ship, where I would never stay again. In that area we had so much noise from what I'm assuming is the engine. It was loud! The faster the ship went the louder the noises were that filled the room all night long. The rest of the ship was nice. They had a great sports area that my son spent many hours in, playing basketball, soccer, and ping pong. They had a nice running track on deck 7, which we did use for our morning runs. One thing I did enjoy was watching a movie one evening out on the deck. The ship itself was nice. This cruise was to have two stops during its three nights. One to Freeport/Grand Bahama, and one to Coco Cay. At Freeport, we didn't choose to have a beach day, because we were supposed to have a beach day the next day in Coco Cay. So we took a taxi to the marketplace, where we walked around, including walking across the street to the free beach. Had we known Coco Cay would be canceled, we would taken a taxi to Taino Beach for the day. I wish Royal Caribbean would do away with the plastic straws and the plastic cups used for fruit and fruit smoothies in the buffet area. The plastic straws are used in large quantities and I saw many blowing around the ship. By switching to paper straws they would avoid any damage to ocean animals if the straws happen to blow overboard (and they will have a smaller environmental impact to begin with). The plastic cups for fruit salad and smoothies is a waste of plastic and silly, considering all the other dishes used are reusable. They should invest in reusable cups for the fruit salad and smoothies too, to be more environmentally friendly.

- Jacqueline

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Disclosure: Some posts may contain links that compensate me. Please read the disclosure.

Yellow Dog Eats restaurant in New Smyrna Beach - review

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Today, I met some of the ladies from a small women's business group I'm in and we decided to meet up at Yellow Dog Eats in New Smyrna Beach. The ladies there today were Maria, who does the Get Forked Friday column and Foundation 37 (among many other things), Becky, who owns Volusia Business Insurance, and Piros, who owns Marketing X-Rays.

This was my first time at Yellow Dog Eats, but ironically, someone not in that group within the last week had suggested I give it a try, because they say they are vegan friendly. The restaurant is located at 147 Canal Street in New Smyrna Beach. I like that area and always enjoy checking out the different restaurants there. This one is a small diner right on Canal that is nice, offering some booths, a couple of outdoor tables, and a bar with stools. 

I ordered the Jolly Green Giant, but I had it put on mutli-grain bread, instead of it being in a wrap as it's listed on the menu. I left the cheese off and added cucumber. I also ordered an unsweet tea. The sandwich was great! I loved it. Loaded with fresh veggies, including a spring mix, avocado, onions, asparagus, and sprouts. It is served with hummus and pita chips. The other ladies all ordered various dishes (not vegan), including a wrap, sandwich, soup, and salad. They all reported to me that they thought the food was great as well. Their iced tea is fresh brewed and it was also good. 

The atmosphere in Yellow Dog Eats is like a small bar style that is nice, bright with lots of nature light, and it's cheery. Overall, I liked the atmosphere, the service, and I thought the food was really good.

The one thing I didn't like about the restaurant is all the single use plastics/disposables they are using. While that's more understanding when someone is getting food to go, I don't think it's a great idea when you are dining in, as we were. The soup was in a styrofoam bowl, the drinks were served in plastic cups, and the hummus was also in a little plastic cup. Every dish was also served up with plastic cutlery (including my sandwich, which doesn't need any cutlery at all). All these plastics are harmful to the environment, so it would be great if they made a switch to re-usable bowls, cutlery, glasses, etc.  While I brought my plastic home to recycle what can be recycled (plastic cutlery is not recyclable and stays in the environment forever), I'm sure that 99% of diners going there probably don't do that. 

The disposable issue aside (which is something they could easily remedy), I liked this little diner. My bill was just over $12 before tip. I appreciate that they have food for both vegetarians/vegans and those who eat meat. I give everything but the over-use of disposables two thumbs up! If you are looking for a new place to try out, give Yellow Dog Eats a try!

- Jacqueline

Update: After posting this, an employee there informed me that they are recycling the plastics in the kitchen (she said they use the disposables because the kitchen is so small). I'm very glad to hear that! I'd still much rather they didn't use them all to begin with, but that helps a lot. However, plastic utensils and styrofoam are not recyclable in this area, so those are all still landfill-bound. However, I am happy they are making a recycling effort there with the plastics that can be recycled!

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Disclosure: Some posts may contain links that compensate me. Please read the disclosure.