FlowRider videos and story….Cruise ending in two days…Final cruise expenses coming soon…

FlowRider video #1.
FlowRider video #2.

A few days ago, we chatted with another passenger, also a Tom, in the Diamond Club lounge while we were preparing the day’s post.  In speaking with Tom, he shared that he belongs to a group of men who meet on sea days from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm to participate in one of the ship’s most exciting activities, the FlowRider.

 Eric, Darrell and Paul, members of the FlowRider Society determined to surf on a windy and cold day at sea.  Tom was finished for the day and thus, I missed his photo.

Fascinated that men over 40 had become avid and expert FlowRider participants, an activity definitely geared toward youth and/or the fit and coordinated sports enthusiast, we were thrilled to prepare a story on these FlowRider adventurers.

It’s imperative to stay within the white Royal Caribbean logo on the blue platform to avoid risk of injury from hitting the sides.

From Royal Caribbean’s site:

“Perhaps no onboard activity is as synonymous with Royal Caribbean as the surf simulator known as the FlowRider.
When Royal Caribbean started adding FlowRiders to its cruise ships, it generated a lot of buzz and ever since then, the company has been working to add FlowRiders to more and more ships in its fleet.
If you want to give surfing a shot on your next cruise, here is what you need to know about this popular surf simulator. (Continued below).
I wish I could take credit for this photo of FlowRider Tom, taken by a professional photographer aboard Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.  What a fabulous shot of Tom in his mastery of this difficult and challenging sport!

The FlowRider is a simulator that sends water a very high speed across a small area that mimics what it is like to surf on the ocean.

FlowRiders were first created as a business on land and have partnered with Royal Caribbean to offer guests cruising the chance to try it out there.  The FlowRider supports two surfing styles: stand up traditional surfing and boogie boarding.
Royal Caribbean has added FlowRiders to more of its ships recently and here is the list of ships that offer a FlowRider:
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Liberty of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Oasis of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Allure of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Harmony of the Seas (two FlowRiders)
  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Navigator of the Seas
  • Voyager of the Seas
  • Explorer of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
Guests participating in the FlowRider, for example, must be at least 52″/132 cm tall to use the bodyboard and 58″/147 cm tall to use the flowboard.   Absolutely no footwear allowed, no goggles and no go-pro cams are allowed.”
Paul was on-a-roll.
Use of the fluoride is included in the cruise fare, although there are additional charges for personalized training.  However, staff is available at no charge to assist the passenger in getting started and in becoming familiar with safety procedures.  More of the details of this popular activity may be found at the above link.
Every so often the surfer will restart from the side of the FlowRider.
As a result of the enthusiasm over being RC FlowRider participants, there’s even a Facebook page named Royal Caribbean FlowRider Society, which may be found at this link.  Who knew?
Paul back at it again.
After chatting with passenger Tom, he suggested we join their group to watch one of his group activities on this particular ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.  From that, I was excited to take photos and videos we could share with our worldwide readers.
A good rider such as these has the option to maneuver their way back to the top based on the pressure placed on their feet on the board.
Had it not been so bitter cold, I’d have stayed outside longer to chat with the group, but I was only wearing a hooded sweatshirt and workout clothes and staying longer wasn’t an option. 
Even with the short length of the FlowRider, an experienced surfer can last on the surf for an extended period.
Paul at the end of his great run.
We commend the brave FlowRiders for their acquired skill and persistence in mastering what appears to be a difficult sport requiring considerable coordination, balance and fitness, especially when the participants aren’t necessarily youngsters.
Eric had an excellent run staying on his feet for quite some time.
In no time at all I dashed back indoors anxious to share what I’d witnessed with my Tom about these athletic “surfers” on Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider.  He was glad he’d stayed indoors in the warm comfort of our cabin.
Inevitably, each rider takes a stumble from time to time.
Hmm… In four days we’ll be boarding the ship to Alaska.  I wonder what the weather will be like while we’re there…
Happy day to all our worldwide readers.  Thanks to each and every one of YOU who’ve followed along with us on this lengthy cruise!
 Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2016:
We did a double take in Bali when we saw these two young guys walking their inner tube type boats along the beach.  Later, we saw them fishing from these tiny watercraft.  For more details, please click here.

No WiFi all morning…Late posting…Cruising along…Immigration issues at the port…

The Promenade deck is a favorite of ours. It’s comparable to a long street in the ship with bars, dining establishments, and shops. Great people watching!

It’s almost 5:00 pm, and the first time today, we’ve been able to get online except for a few instances on our phones. It’s been frustrating, to say the least. No doubt, it’s due to the vast number of passengers of this ship using their phones and iPads.

We’d hope to get today’s post uploaded close to our usual time but based on the 3,825 passengers on this ship, the connection is and will continue to be sketchy, to say the least.

Our standard balcony cabin is small, but we’re fine with it.

We expected a little more after paying over US $500 for the VOOM high-speed unlimited WiFi for two devices for this 24-night cruise. However, there’s no point in bringing it up to customer service since it’s clearly outlined that the ship’s service may be unavailable at times.

Besides that inconvenience, we are doing FABULOUS! Although the ship, Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas, is old and a little dated (built-in 2000, refurbished in 2015) its in good condition with all the amenities a passenger could expect for this cruise line. 

Our toilet seat had a huge crack in it.  Last night they replaced it upon our request.  The bathroom is tiny with little storage space, but we make it work.

Yesterday’s boarding process was relatively easy except for one not-so-surprising glitch…immigration. With copies of all of our bridging visa documents on hand, we still got whisked away to be “reviewed” in a separate area. 

The agent mistrusted what appeared on the computer and refused to look at our documents. Weird. However, neither of us panicked when we were certain we had the correct documentation. Instead, we waited for over 30 minutes while the agent satisfied her curiosity that her superiors in Sydney had, in fact, done the documents correctly.

I offered the name of the supervisor in Sydney suggestion she contacts her for confirmation. But, instead, she plodded along, trying to read the laws while we waited to ensure it had been done correctly. 

View of the Sydney Opera House from our balcony before sailing away.

Finally, she let us board the ship, reminding us we’d have trouble if we wanted to get back into Australia at any time in the future. But, of course, with no plans to return, we weren’t worried.

Back on track, we boarded the ship to warm welcomes from staff, glasses of champagne (we declined) and a short waiting period until our cabin was ready.

In no time at all, our bags were delivered to our door, except for Tom’s suitcase containing two power strips (referred to as “power boards” in Australia). Later in the evening, he had to go to security to retrieve his bag after the power boards were confiscated. Unfortunately, they aren’t allowed to be used on ships. So instead, we’re supplied with extension cords.

I started shooting a few photos before we made a mess unpacking our bags.

Most passengers don’t have everything they own in their cabin, like us, and don’t have power boards in their possession. Yet, for our lifestyle, we need them and our adapters in our possession everywhere we travel. So we have to way to “leave them at home.” 

Once we unpacked, neatly folding and hanging our clothes, we began to feel settled and comfortable.  As Diamond Club members, we’re provided with free drinks in the Star Lounge each evening. Usually, this runs from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm, but last night’s muster drill at 5:00 pm caused the happy hour to be from 6:15 pm until 9:00 pm.

Alas, we had so much fun, the time slipped away, and suddenly, it was almost 9:00 pm. By the time we made it to the dining room, it was closed. Immediately, we took the elevator to the buffet, the Windjammer Cafe, only to discover it was also closed. 

Most likely, this was the last of many photos we’ll have taken of the Sydney Opera House. Goodbye Sydney. Aside from a few glitches, it was grand.

Then, we headed back to our cabin to order room service only to find there wasn’t a single item on the menu that I could eat. Since I haven’t been able to digest raw vegetables these past months, salads were out of the question. The remaining options were sandwiches and wraps. Not good.

Tom refused to order anything with me being able to eat, which was entirely unnecessary as far as I was concerned. Who misses the first night’s dinner on a cruise?  Isn’t food what cruises are always about for many passengers? 

The perception that cruises have food available 24 hours a day is not necessarily true. Sure, there was food, but nothing either of us wanted to eat. We laughed. Only us! Fun over food!  We went to bed without a morsel after eating a few bites of cheese back in Fairlight before we left for the cruise terminal. 

Tonight, if we stay at the Star Lounge until happy hour ends, at least we’ll make it to the dining room well before the 9:00 pm closing.  Since we always select “My Time Dining,” we can eat anytime we want before the 9:00 pm closing.

Surprisingly, we weren’t starved this morning but, we each had a good breakfast in the main dining room. The head maitre’d met with me to review my food list and fully understood my restrictions. My usual meal consists of fish, chicken, beef or pork (no sauce), and two sides of non-starchy vegetables. It’s not filling, but the hunger abates in no time at all.

This afternoon when we couldn’t get online to post. So instead, we went to the main theatre, The Palace, to see the movie, “La La Land.” What a fabulous movie! If you haven’t seen it, we couldn’t recommend it more.

Now, we have to get ready for “formal night” with another upcoming happy hour and tonight…dinner in the main dining room.

Cruising is fun, and we’re not missing a beat. Today at noon, we experienced our first one-hour time change. After that, there will seven one-hour time changes plus one entire day. Ha!

Have a wonderful day or evening wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2016:
The signal is too weak to post the one year ago photo.  We’ll add it tomorrow if we can.  Thanks for your patience.