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With the discovery of Canadian, TX teen Thomas Brown's remains, what's next for the investigation? Open question about discovery of deceased teen, missing since 2016.

Note: As much as I’d love to write up all this information in my own original words, I work insanely long hours, so I’ve chosen to include transcripts of articles on the case with credit to the respective authors and sources. If this violates any rules, do what you must. Sources are provided at the bottom.
I understand this has been posted about recently, given the finding of Thomas’s remains. I’d like to get into it some more. This case is so strange to me.
Introduction to case
From Casefile podcase episode 85, Writing by Milly Raso
Midnight approached on Thanksgiving Eve, November 23rd, 2016. Penny Meek was up waiting for her son Tom Brown, who was due home any moment. Hours earlier, Tom had gone out to meet up with friends. The 18-year-old had a strict midnight curfew and was rarely late. If he was, he always got in touch to let his mother know. So far, she’d heard nothing.
But midnight ticked by, and there was no sign of Tom.
At 12:03 am, Tucker sent his brother a text asking where he was.
Tom didn’t reply.
Tucker and Penny sent Tom several more text messages, trying to locate him. But still, they received no response. This was unusual – Tom always responded to texts.
At 12:23 am, Penny tried to call Tom. But her call went straight to voicemail – his phone was off. Penny’s concern grew. Though Tom could be a joker and a goofball, he wasn’t the type to pull a prank like this. He was a well-behaved son, far from rebellious or disrespectful.
Getting into separate cars to cover more ground, Penny and Tom’s older brother Tucker went searching for Tom’s red coloured 2009 Dodge Durango SUV.
Penny and Tucker combed the entire town – checking local haunts and hangouts. Yet, there was no sign of Tom or his car. Though Canadian had more wealth and bustle than other townships in the semi-arid Panhandle region of Texas; it was still incredibly small and close-knit. The layout of the land was deeply ingrained within the residents who lived there. There is no way Tom had gotten lost.
So where was he…
A summary and timeline of the case from NBC New, written by Bianca Hiller
The day before Thanksgiving in 2016, Penny Kendall Meek was enjoying having her sons together at their Canadian, Texas home. Penny tells Dateline she remembers her youngest son, high school senior Thomas Brown, spending time with his older brother, Tucker, who was home from college for the holiday.
Around 6:00 p.m. that night, Penny says Thomas said he was going to go hang out with friends. He asked for her debit card for gas money before driving away.
“Generally, the kids would meet at one of the schools and they’d park their cars there and get into one car and just ride around,” Penny told Dateline. “That night, they met at the middle school and rode around.”
Penny says she texted Thomas shortly after he left the house, but wasn’t surprised when he didn’t reply because she figured he was driving. Friends who were with Thomas that night would later tell Penny they all arrived back at the middle school parking lot around 11:20 p.m.
“Then, [Thomas] went to Fronc’s Oil and Gas. There are just gas pumps there -- no attendants, no convenience store,” Penny said, adding that surveillance footage would later show him pumping gas into his car. “My card was swiped at about 11:28 p.m.”
Thomas’s curfew was midnight, leaving him plenty of time to make it home. As soon as midnight came and went with no sign of Thomas, Penny grew concerned.
“Thomas never missed curfew. He would even come home well before curfew, and then he and his friends would play video games,” Penny said. A few minutes after midnight, Penny asked Thomas’s brother Tucker to text Thomas to see where he was. According to Penny, the text was delivered to Thomas’s phone, but it was not read.
When 12:10 a.m. came and Thomas still hadn’t replied to Tucker’s text, Penny says she texted Thomas herself. Once again, the message was delivered but not read. Just five minutes later, Penny texted Thomas again. This time, Penny says the message was unable to be delivered, meaning Thomas’s phone was likely off.
“Initially, I thought maybe he had an accident,” Penny told Dateline. She and Tucker took off from the house in separate cars to search the roads, while her husband stayed at the house in case Thomas returned.
“I headed to some of the places I knew Thomas would have driven around. I checked some of his friends’ houses. But his car was not there,” Penny said. Around 2:00 a.m., Penny says she called the homes of the friends Thomas had hung out with that night. One friend did not answer her call, but the others had each made it home that night and were surprised to hear Thomas had not.
“I didn’t call 911 because my husband is a volunteer fireman, so he just gave me a number for the [sheriff’s office] dispatch,” Penny told Dateline. “It took about 45 minutes for the deputy to respond. He went out to look for Thomas.”
By 3:30 a.m., Penny tells Dateline, both she and her son Tucker had returned home from their separate searches. Shortly thereafter, Penny says a deputy from the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office arrived at their home. Since Tucker knew where Thomas’s girlfriend lived, he went in the patrol car with the deputy to search for a few hours. They arrived back home around 6:00 a.m. not having found Thomas or his car.
Unbeknownst to Penny, a couple of hours later -- after dawn -- one of Thomas’s friends went up in with her father in a helicopter to look for Thomas’s car. They spotted the car in a remote section of the Canadian, Texas suburbs, about four miles from Thomas’s home. But Thomas was nowhere to be seen.
The friend called the sheriff’s department who then notified Thomas’s parents of the update.
“It was found near where our sewage ponds are, which is not near anywhere he would have gone,” Penny told Dateline of the car’s location. Penny added that Thomas’s phone, laptop, backpack, and keys were all missing from the car, though the chargers were still there.
The Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office told Dateline that Thomas’s case was turned over to the Texas Attorney General Criminal Investigation Division in the beginning of 2018. The Texas Attorney General Criminal Investigation Division did not reply to Dateline’s repeated request for comment.
Shortly after Thomas’s disappearance, his family began working with private investigator Philip Klein. Penny says that in a search two months after Thomas disappeared, her son’s backpack was located about four miles from where his car had been found. About 10 months later, in a subsequent search, Thomas’s cellphone was also located. It was found five miles from where his backpack was, nine miles from the car. Unfortunately, finding Thomas’s belongings has not yet yielded any evidence of significance.
Thomas was in his senior year of high school when he disappeared.
“The first year Thomas was missing, we wanted to give a scholarship in his honor because he was not graduating with his class,” Penny told Dateline. “Our hope is to be able to raise enough money to be able to give the scholarship to a Canadian high school student every year, but also to be able to give scholarships throughout the [Texas] Panhandle.”
Penny added that while the scholarship is to honor Thomas, it’s also to give back to the people who have helped support her and her family throughout the past two years.
“I don’t have words to describe the support we have gotten throughout the panhandle,” she said. “I have received messages from people all over the world.”
Penny has also created a Facebook group called Moms 4 Tom, which is “a group of moms, friends, and community members dedicated to finding Thomas and bringing him home.”
“I just know there is no way that he would’ve left without telling me or his brother,” Penny said. “I think something happened, but I don’t know what it was. Not only do I deserve answers, but our community deserves answers because we don’t expect anything to happen in our rural community. I think that’s why the panhandle has been so supportive, because it’s bothersome.”
Thomas Brown is described as being 6’ tall and weighing 195 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black shirt, a black windbreaker with “OSU Cowboys” in orange letters on the left chest, blue jeans, and tennis shoes. If you have any information on Thomas’s case, please call the Texas Attorney General Criminal Investigation Division at 512-463-2100.
Regarding the release of information about the case, from acb 7 News
"Details have been few in the case of a missing Canadian teenager. Thomas Brown went missing 14 months ago on Thanksgiving 2016. Now his family's fight for answers may be leading to another dead end.
In October, Thomas Brown’s family filed a public records request with the Hemphill County Sheriff for information about the case. The request was sent to the attorney general for a decision about what could be released. The attorney general ruled the family could have the documents requested, but now the county is appealing that decision in a lawsuit, asking the attorney general to reconsider. Thomas' mom, Penny Meek, said she is not seeking sensitive information.
"I can't think there was really anything that would compromise the case,” said Meek.
Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis disagrees. He said the case is open and any information released could interfere with the investigation. He gave ABC 7 this statement:
“The Sheriff's Office foremost concern is maintaining the integrity of the case. We do understand the desire for knowledge and insight concerning this case, however; dissemination of certain facts and documents would only serve to impede the ongoing investigation and possible prosecution in the future.”
Meek’s requests include a log of volunteers that participated in searches, dates the Department of Public Service, the Texas Rangers and the FBI became involved in the investigation, any press releases about Thomas' case, names of deputies assigned to the case, disciplinary reports of personnel, the number of photographs and recordings made plus, most importantly, the classification of the case. She wants to know whether or not it is a criminal investigation.
"I know more about the Las Vegas shooter or the church shooter than I do my own son's case,” said Meek. “That is kind of frustrating because I am the mom."
She said the information would reveal what she most wants to know: If the investigation is progressing.
"It would be nice to have some assurances that they were getting leads or we're following up on things," said Meek.
The Hemphill County Attorney Kyle Miller said releasing any information could jeopardize justice. In a statement to ABC 7 he said:
"The entirety of the file contains information that, if made public, could compromise a criminal prosecution should one prove warranted. We have asked the Attorney General's Office for an opinion as to what, if anything, can be released to the public and what should remain confidential to ensure justice is served. This is simply the next step in the required process with the Attorney General's Office."
Thomas' mom said the lawsuit is another delay in getting the answers she wants.
"It's pretty disheartening and disappointing because at this point I just feel like we are playing political games and my son's life isn't a game,” said Meek.
There is no time table on when the attorney general will make a decision about if the documents will be released.
_________________________
In January of 2018, Sheriff Lewis officially requested assistance from the Attorney General’s office. A copy of the letter can be found here:
http://canadianrecord.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Thomas-Brown-Letter-from-SO-to-AG.jpg
From “The Canadian Record"
Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis has sent an appeal to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, requesting that it take over the investigation into the Thanksgiving 2016 disappearance of Thomas Brown, then a senior at Canadian High School.
Sheriff Lewis’ request, emailed to the AG’s Criminal Justice Division on Friday afternoon, is an apparent concession to a petition posted at change.org by Tom’s mother, Penny Meek, and promoted by the advocacy group, Moms4Tom.
“To leave no stone unturned and to bring to bear every resource the State of Texas has to solve the case of Thomas Brown,” the petition reads, “we respectfully request Hemphill County Attorney Kyle Miller and/or Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis to turn the investigation and subsequent prosecution if warranted over to the Texas Attorney General offices and let’s use our tax dollars to find Thomas rather than be an adversary of his family.”
The petition is directed to Hemphill County Attorney Kyle Miller, and has gathered 6,316 signatures since Thursday afternoon when it first appeared online.
In response, Lewis asked that the AG’s office “formally assume the responsibility for the investigation and/or prosecution” into what it terms a “missing person case.” He cites the family’s growing dissatisfaction with the results of his investigation, thus far, writing, “To that end, so that justice may be served for all concerned parties and Hemphill County, we ask [that] your office formally take the reins as the lead investigating agency for this matter.”
The petition drive follows several open records requests filed on October 2017 by Elgin attorney Rosanna Abrea—who represents Tom’s mother, Penny Meek—demanding that Sheriff Lewis release ten items of information compiled during its investigation of Tom’s disappearance.
County Attorney Miller challenged Abrea’s request, and sought an attorney general opinion on what, if anything, could be released to the public, and what should remain confidential. In requesting the opinion, Miller noted, “The entirety of the file contains information that, if made public, could compromise a criminal prosecution, should one prove warranted.”
In another online appeal, Moms4Tom asked the public to call the Attorney General’s office, urging them to grant the Public Information Request, and to reject the county’s appeal to keep the information private.
In a Dec. 20 response, Assistant Attorney General Kelly McWethy concluded that the information requested should be released. McWethy cited Miller’s failure to submit a copy of the specific information requested, or representative samples, labeled to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the documents. Without that documentation, he wrote, the information requested “is presumed to be public and therefore must be released, unless there is compelling reason to withhold the information from disclosure.
Hemphill County officials believe they do have reason. Amarillo attorney Matt Mazner has been retained by the Texas Association of Counties (TAC) to represent Hemphill County in seeking a declaratory judgment against the attorney general. Release of the requested information will have an adverse impact on the investigation, Mazner wrote. He cited Sheriff Lewis’ claim that disclosure of the documents would reveal individuals involved in the investigation, law enforcement methods used to obtain information, the identity of individuals who have provided information, and the various methods utilized by law enforcement agencies in assisting with the investigation.
That request by Hemphill County for injunctive relief from the attorney general’s ruling will now go before the Travis County District Court.
Meanwhile, amid all of this legal wrangling, Thomas Brown has not been seen or heard from since 11:20 pm on the night of Nov. 23, 2016. Since then, the Texas Rangers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have both assisted the Sheriff’s Office investigation into Brown’s disappearance. Shortly after Tom’s disappearance, his family retained the services of Klein Investigations & Consulting of Nederland, whose agents continue to investigate the case.

Summary of Documents Released to Family
Wednesday, 26 December, 2018
Hemphill County and the Texas Attorney General’s office have reached an Agreed Final Judgment in the Public Information Act lawsuit regarding the matter of Thomas Brown. The family of Thomas Brown had filed a public information request via attorney Rosanna L. Abreo with Hemphill County, requesting the following information:“1. Copies of all recordings, call sheets, incident reports, memorandums, text messages, and emails regarding Thomas Kelly Brown, a missing person from December 2, 2016 to present.2. Names or logs of all volunteers, employees, other agencies members, and professionals involved in the searches for missing person Thomas Kelly Brown from November 24, 2016 to the present.3. Dates of all contact with Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Ranger Division and Highway Patrol, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, specifically, all requests for assistance in the investigation of missing person, Thomas Kelly Brown. Please note identity of persons contacted, dates of contact and method of contact. 4. Use of force reports for Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office from January 1, 2016 to the present. 5. All training received by all Hemphill County Sheriff’s office personnel, currently and previously employed, since January 1, 2016 to present. Please list name of training class, where class was attended, and number of hours of training to TCOLE.6. Reports, memorandums, interoffice emails or other correspondences regarding commendations, and incidents of misconduct or disciplinary action of personnel currently or previously employed by the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office from August 1, 2016 to the present. 7. Copy of all public service reports, press releases, flyers, or announcements from Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office regarding missing person, Thomas Kelly Brown from November 24, 2016 to the present. 8. Names of all officers/deputies, current or former, assigned or who have actively assisted in the Thomas Kelly Brown investigation. Please state what their primary assignments are in the investigation. 9. The number of photographs and/or other electronic recordings taken from the scene where missing person, Thomas Kelly Brown’s vehicle was located. A copy of all photographs and/or other electronic recordings taken from the scene where missing person, Thomas Kelly Brown’s vehicle was located. 10. The official characterization or type of case designation by the Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office regarding the disappearance of Thomas Kelly Brown.” Hemphill County provided the requested materials regarding training and personnel, and asserted that disclosure of what amounted to its entire investigative file on Thomas Brown would adversely affect the ongoing investigation and subsequent prosecution of any criminal acts associated with the case, citing the exceptions from disclosure under Texas Government Code §552.108. After review of the file by the Attorney General’s office during litigation, the investigative material was agreed to be exempt from disclosure. The Agreed Final Judgment is quoted as follows:“1. The County may withhold information at issue, which consists of videos, photographs, phone records, digital voice recordings, radio calls, emails, and documents relating to Texas Attorney General Criminal Justice Division’s Thomas Brown Investigation, under Texas Government Code §555.108(a)(1).2. All court costs and attorney fees are taxes against parties incurring same;3. All relief not expressly granted is denied; and4. This Order disposes of all claims between the parties and is a final judgment.” The Judgment reflects the parties’ agreement as to a compelling reason to withhold the information under Texas Government Code §552.302. The County proved that release of the information would interfere with the Texas Attorney General’s Criminal Justice Division’s investigation of the disappearance of Thomas Brown. The order was signed by Lora Livingston, Judge of the 261st District Court in Travis County, Texas. The entire investigative file was provided to the Attorney General’s office and reviewed by their Administrative Law Division, and the investigation remains ongoing with the Attorney General’s Criminal Investigative Division, who took over the case at the request of Hemphill County.
Discovery of Remains, January 2019
Remains found near Lake Marvin Road (located near Lake Marvin, Hemphilll County) have been identified as missing high school senior Thomas brown who went missing the night of November 23, 2016 under puzzling circumstances. His remains were positively identified via dental records. The name of the individual who located his remains has not been released.
From News Channel 10 KFDA
By Cassie Stafford | January 16, 2019 at 7:31 PM CST - Updated January 17 at 2:56 PM
CANADIAN, TX (KFDA) - We are learning more on the discovery of Thomas Brown’s remains in Hemphill County.
NewsChannel10 spoke with the lead private investigator on the case, Philip Klein, who was hired by Brown’s family.
He said on January 9, a man was walking down a path near Lake Marvin Road when he noticed something, and called authorities immediately.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and the Texas Rangers responded and later confirmed through forensic testing it was the missing Canadian teen.
Original report, November 2016: Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office still searching for missing teen
During what Klein calls a phase one search last year, he said they had roughly 18 miles to cover plus an acre on either side of the road.
He added that the area where Thomas was found wasn’t missed, but had not yet been searched.
NewsChannel10 spoke with the lead private investigator on the case, Philip Klein, who was hired by Brown’s family.
He said on January 9, a man was walking down a path near Lake Marvin Road when he noticed something, and called authorities immediately.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office (OAG) and the Texas Rangers responded and later confirmed through forensic testing it was the missing Canadian teen.
Original report, November 2016: Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office still searching for missing teen
During what Klein calls a phase one search last year, he said they had roughly 18 miles to cover plus an acre on either side of the road.
He added that the area where Thomas was found wasn’t missed, but had not yet been searched.
“That area had been flown by helicopters... the south part of that area had been run by our guys, by trace sergeant and her dog,” said Klein. “They had run to the south side of that area but he had not gotten to the north side yet. So it wasn’t a matter of a missing by law enforcement or us at all, it was just a matter of that area hadn’t been searched.”
Klein wouldn’t comment on the condition of the remains found, however he said there’s no doubt this is an active homicide investigation.
“What will happen now is that the OAG and the Texas Rangers will continue their investigation and will continue to interview people and build evidence,” he said.
He said their team is very well focused right now and that they knew a body was out there all along.
“We’re going back over the evidence of the car, the shell casing... the blood that was in the car,” said Klein. “The actual timeline between 11:38 and 12:05 I think is very, very, very, very important.”
They’ve received questions as to whether or not there’s a killer among in the community of Canadian.
To that he says:
“Everybody can sleep well at night, but if I was a dad and I had kids out there in the community, I’d be like anything else.” said Klein. “Maybe I’m just too cynical being a 29-year-old investigator, but I’d sleep with one eye open right now. I would, until this thing is solved.”
Klein said he does not believe it was a pre-meditated homicide. The reward that was in place for Thomas' whereabouts is now geared toward information surrounding his death.
Klein stresses that locals steer clear of Lake Marvin Road as it could impede their investigation.
“It’s still an active working crime scene and we just don’t need people out there tromping around,” he said. “We know everyone loved Tom, we know the town is hurting, hell we know Hemphill County and North Texas is hurting. And we know people want to go put roses and flowers and markers out there honoring Tom but now isn’t the time to do that.”
He said the whole area of Lake Marvin Road probably needs to be look over again and that there are some persons of interest floating around.
“Do I think there will be an arrest in this? Oh eventually one day there will be, yes absolutely,” he said. “When? I don’t know.”
Some Discussion Points:
Unfortunately, I can’t find a new source from this information, but it has become part of the narrative and can be found in podcasts about this case, including Casefile and Unfound.
Prior to Thomas’s disappearance, the high school student had an encounter with Sheriff Lewis. In an unpleasant exchange, Lewis, not yet Sheriff at the time, approached Thomas and a friend in a public area and accused them of being up to something nefarious. This confused the young men, and Lewis ultimately demanded that Thomas get into his car where he continued to berate and curse at the teen. Thomas’s parents were called, which added to the confusion. While Lewis knew the family, he was not exceptionally close to them and it was strange that Thomas would be targeted in such as way as he was rarely if ever in trouble of any kind.
The incident stands out as being, if nothing else, peculiar, especially in hindsight.
During the early investigation into Thomas’s disappearance, Sheriff Lewis openly stated that he believed Thomas was alive. Contrary to Thomas’s record of calling to check in, being on time for curfews, and staying out of trouble, the implication is that Thomas left voluntarily. Unfortunately, this outlook is further refuted by the shell casing and blood evidence found in Thomas’s car.

and finally..... an article about investigators' perspectives early in the search
From a News Channel 10 KFDA Article:
May 5, 2017 at 2:40 AM CDT - Updated August 12 at 9:31 AM
CANADIAN, TX (KFDA) -
Hemphill County Sheriff Nathan Lewis believes missing teen Thomas Brown is still alive.
But as we enter the sixth month since his disappearance, private investigators aren't so sure.
Klein Investigations, a private firm hired by brown's family, said based on their searches, there's a 70% chance that Brown is dead.
Lewis said there's no evidence to back that up.
Both groups are continuing their investigations, and have some updates in the case they can share.
A cadaver dog was brought out by Klein Investigations to search for signs of Brown, and alerted investigators to the Lake Marvin area.
That location is where a different body was found nearly 20 years ago, but because they were not able to search the entire Lake Marvin area, investigators are focusing their efforts there.
"We did put the dog onto Thomas's automobile," said Philip Klein, lead investigator. "The dog hit on the automobile and the dog hit in the automobile."
What the dog found was a small trace of blood that Lewis said was small and looked like the result of a minor cut.
Brown's backpack and laptop that were found months ago proved to have no information that would help out this case.
His Facebook profile was deleted by Facebook after being hacked, but both parties said that will not hinder the investigation,.
Klein investigators covered 19 areas in and around Canadian during their most recent search, and said they're looking into five of those areas, and believe something "nefarious" happened to brown.
Lewis thinks otherwise.
"Everything that was put out there by Klein Investigations was speculations and theories," said Lewis. "This could have happened, this might have happened, we think this happens. That's not what we do here. We go off of evidence or lack of evidence."
Some of those theories are that someone dumped Brown's car and walked into the neighborhood nearby, or that his body is buried somewhere in the county.
Lewis said there is not evidence to back these theories up.
Private investigators focus on the civil side of the investigation, while law enforcement takes a prosecutory standpoint.
But both groups are working together and sharing resources to solve this case.
"I really don't care who finds him," said Lewis. "We just need to bring him home, or figure out exactly what happened."
Lewis and Klein and his investigators are looking into every tip they receive.
Points of Speculation, Closing Thoughts
As of January 2019, it is known that Thomas Brown is no longer alive, and while the date of his death is unknown to the public, it appears extremely likely that the Canadian, Texas teen met his end on the night of his disappearance in November of 2016.
I’ll avoid injecting TOO much of my personal opinion here, but my own wariness of Sheriff Lewis is likely already apparent.
  • Reluctance to release information is understandable and sensible, and it was my original impression that the Sheriff’s office likely had a good idea of what happened and were essentially stuck sitting on their hands until they had enough to act. Currently, it’s difficult to say, especially given the previous interaction between Thomas and Sheriff Lewis (if true). It raises questions, and the questions regarding why Thomas Brown died are many:
  • Is the conduct of Sheriff Lewis at all related to the young man’s death? Was it a homicide as Klein asserts? Was his death the result a suicide, and if so, were there simply no signs of a distressed mental state? Was his body truly at the location it was found the entire time?
  • Speculation, though unofficial, has even been posed as to whether the cell phone found in a search was in fact Thomas’s.
  • The surveillance video evidence in this case raises even more questions about the last night Thomas was known to be alive. Were vehicles captured on surveillance footage at the gas station around the time of Thomas stop for gas at all related to his disappearance? Some speculation includes the assertion that these are unmarked police cars, citing a glowing computer screen that can be seen though the vehicles’ windows.
  • More unofficial speculation has stated that Thomas may have been on the verge of coming out as gay, or had come out privately to some as gay. This his highly speculative and it is often pointed to that he made a switch from focusing on football to focusing on the performing arts. Whether this has any bearing on is disappearance and subsequent death is unknown.
As of the date of this posting, Thomas’s case is open.
Sources:
https://casefilepodcast.com/case-85-tom-brown/
http://canadianrecord.com/?p=7575
http://highplainsobserverperryton.com/agreement-reached-in-public-information-act-lawsuit-in-thomas-brown-disappe-p24786-334.htm
https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/missing-in-america/high-school-senior-thomas-brown-missing-texas-after-vanishing-over-n940381
https://abc7amarillo.com/news/local/a-timeline-of-events-in-the-case-of-thomas-brown
http://www.newschannel10.com/story/35349203/investigators-split-on-what-may-have-happened-to-thomas-brown/

EDIT: had a title in the wrong spot
EDIT 2: This edit is referencing a comment below made by a user. I don't know how users feel about having their name called out, but you can find the comment below. The reference is a recent suicide of a teacher following the discovery of Thomas body.
The following is a short article from the Canadian news paper:
"BREAKING NEWS The Hemphill County Sheriff’s Office reported late yesterday afternoon that Canadian Elementary School teacher Jeff Caseltine had died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A witness in the vicinity of the Hemphill County RV Park reported having seen an individual alone at campsite in the park, and then hearing a gunshot. He contacted HCSO. Law enforcement officers responded, secured the scene, found Caseltine's body and recovered a note. The family was notified. The death has been ruled as a suicide, pending an autopsy, which will be performed today in Lubbock."
Below is an obituary for the deceased teacher:
https://usobit.com/2019/01/jeff-caseltine-september-24-1964-january-21-2019/
Jeff’s Obituary Jeff Caseltine, 54, of Canadian passed away on Monday, January 21, 2019 in Canadian. Memorial services will be 10:00 AM Friday, January 25, 2019 at First Christian Church of Canadian with Matt Cook, pastor, officiating. Cremation and arrangements are under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors of Canadian. Jeff was born September 24, 1964 and was reared primarily in the suburbs of Austin, Texas, Jeff was a born performer. Be it his high school theater class at Lago Vista High, or karaoke at Buffalo Wild Wings, he was most at home while making people smile or laugh with his talents. Jeff joined the Navy in 1984 where he served until 1986 on the U.S.S. Vincennes. Throughout the eight years he spent post-military, he held many exciting jobs, including being KTSA’s leading radio man as Jeff the Kool Breeze. In 1994, Jeff fell in love with and married his wife Shannon in small town Booker, Texas. Jeff, Shannon, and 13-year-old step-son TJ packed their things in 1995 and hauled off to Stillwater, Oklahoma where Shannon would eventually become pregnant and give birth to their first child in 1996, a daughter named Sarah. A few years would pass before Shannon would become pregnant again in 1998 and give birth to their son, Michael. The Caseltine’s would call Stillwater home for the next nine years, where Jeff worked as a caretaker for Stillwater Group Homes, Inc., caring for adults with mental disabilities. However, Jeff was called to work as an aid for an autistic child at the elementary school his children attended in 2003. During his time there, it became clear to him that he wanted nothing more than to teach. He attended Oklahoma State University from 2004 until his departure from Stillwater in 2007 when he and his family moved to Abilene, Texas. In Abilene, Jeff continued his work as a caretaker for a man with cerebral palsy, attended school at McMurry University, and taught a fourth grade Sunday school class at Beltway Baptist Church. In 2012, Jeff attained a Bachelor of Science degree from McMurry University, with the intention of teaching young children. For three years after attaining his degree, Jeff worked for Sylvan Learning Center as the Regional Director of Education, but always desired teaching in a classroom setting. In 2015, a job for a Pre-kindergarten special education teacher became available in his sister-in-law’s hometown, Canadian, Texas. The Caseltine’s mulled it over, and eventually came to the decision that the ideas of both being closer to family and Jeff getting the opportunity to do what he loved made it an obvious choice. Survivors include his wife, Shannon of the home; 2 sons, Thomas Judd Maness and wife Reba Collins of San Antonio and Michael Caseltine of Canyon; a daughter, Sarah Caseltine of Bryan; 3 sisters-in-law, Terri Long and husband Tim of Edmond, Oklahoma, Denise Janko and husband Chris of Beaver, Oklahoma, LeeAnn Monty and husband Tyler “Max” of Canadian; his father, Dale Gray and wife Martha of Happy, Florida; his mother-in-law, Della Lawson of Canadian; and numerous nieces and nephews. Extended family Brenda Maness of Beaver and Cody Maness of Abilene. Read More
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Jeff Caseltine September 24 1964 January 21 2019.
Source: Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors of Canadian – Canadian, Texas – Canadian
Death notice for the town of: Canadian, state: Texas"
Not from Canadian Texas, so I can't comment with any validity on what the local gossip is, or what's a local speculation is. I'll connect a couple of dots that might be obvious.
His death closely followed the discovery of Thomas body.
He was a theater teacher, maybe Thomas theater teacher, I can't confirm that.
He left a note, which has not been released to my knowledge.
Also, it would be interesting to know which RV park they're referring to and whether it is near the lake where Thomas's remains were found.
Early on, Sheriff Lewis pushed " if you see something say something," and if my memory is correct, he stated he believed that people, or students, at Thomas's High School knew something.
Please keep in mind that this is only speculative, and that there is no official information stating that this man is connected. At this point, it's another interesting layer to an unsolved case that very well may be unrelated.
And I'm on mobile, so forgive my errors.
submitted by rebelbasestarfleet to UnresolvedMysteries

An experienced cruisers review of Anthem of the Seas (& the Quantum class in particular)

I'll preface my review with the fact that both my wife and I are experienced cruisers. Not the stodgy "We prefer Cunard!" types, but the sort who have sailed a variety of different classes, ages, and designs of ships, as well as multiple lines.
I'm sure some will disagree with my review, but again, unless you've sailed on Anthem I'd ask you to reserve judgement. I hope people don't feel the need to downvote my post simply because they disagree.
And keep in mind that a new/first time cruiser may have very well been "Blown away" by Anthem, but we were not...but then again, we compare every cruise to cruises of past, many (most) of which ranged from "Excellent" to "Blown away". This was not one of those cruises.
We are the last ones to complain while on a cruise (having dealt with others who did so in the past), but now having returned home with the experience complete, I'm compelled to write about the experience as a whole, including it's "Misses", of which on this particular cruise, there were many.
My wife and I went into this cruise with such excitement. A new class of ship (and just plain a mostly NEW ship) that we were looking forward to sailing on. And a visit to a port we hadn't actually been to before and had high expectations of enjoying - CoCoCay.
This is a long review. It is unabashedly mostly focused on the negatives because, well, there were more of then versus positives for both of us - take of that as you will, but we are not beginner cruisers, and frankly, we would simply *never* book another cruise on Anthem (or any Quantum class ship) ever again. For that matter, the whole experience with this ship, and Royal Caribbeans latest tactics to monetize seemingly everything physically possible has given us pause about even continuing to cruise with them despite our status level in their loyalty system.
Our check in / embarkation experience was spectacular - the new "pre approval" process (where you can do a lot of the check-in yourself at home) was a massive success, saving us time standing in lines as would otherwise be normal. From the time we walked into the terminal to the time we were headed towards the gangway was literally under 15 minutes, and we were aboard inside 20 minutes after stepping out of our Uber. If they're getting things ready to deal with the huge crowds of Oasis arriving soon, they've nailed it. Honestly, on past sailings on other lines in which we were in a suite (with the typical priority security and boarding lines that accompany that level of stateroom), our embarkation was so incredibly streamlined for this cruise that we were online in even less time than if we were in a suite on one of our past cruises. Excellent.
The ship itself is indeed new(er) and (mostly) in excellent repair. After sailing on Explorer, Grandeur, and Enchantment (all older ships in the RCI fleet) Anthem seemed new and fresh in comparison - we were excited to be aboard! I didn't expect it to quite live up to our past experiences of the Oasis class, but being one of RCI's new flagships, I had expected it to be close.
We got checked into our stateroom and met our ever-smiling stateroom attendant who was extremely friendly and anxious to help - he turned out to be of the bright spots on our cruise - a shining star - thank you Frederick!
I never count much of our experience on the first day aboard towards our overall review. People are lost. Staff are struggling to recover from the flip as well as adjust themselves to the new passengers. The buffets are typically jammed, and not all venues are up to speed. That's all to be expected. Any experienced cruiser knows embarkation day is not to be judged.
But, day 1 at sea was soon upon us and we headed for the solarium to enjoy our first day - after breakfast in the windjammer. Windjammers design was much better than the typical RCI buffet setup on it's older ships, so we were off to a good start, but after actually getting our first breakfast, we were a little underwhelmed - the much touted "new and improved" windjammer seemed understaffed, and a lot of food that should have been served hot...was, quite simply, not. But hey, we're on a cruise, relax...enjoy! It was just a one off I'm sure. Sadly, it was not. More on this later.
After breakfast we headed towards our favourite place on all RCI ships - the solarium. My first impression of the solarium was that it was pleasant, if not noisy - unfortunately the makeup of the passenger load on this trip seemed to include a lot of volume challenged individuals and the usual serenity of the Solarium was often difficult to find. Not RCI's fault, but this was indeed a very packed cruise with a noisy group it seemed. It is what it is - enjoy the cruise I kept remembering - little things don't wreck the overall experience.
Although my wife loves to sit and relax in a chair, read a book, and stare at the ocean, I often gravitate towards the pool and spas in the solarium. I was soon wondering who made the design choices of both - the spas were so incredibly shallow that when sitting on the seats the water was only 1/3 of the way up my chest - *many* others were commenting the same, especially those who were not first time cruisers like ourselves and had other ships to compare with. The only way I could actually get underwater up to my neck was to lay awkwardly with my knee jammed up against the hand rail to avoid sliding underwater, or to stretch out across the entire spa...and nobody wants someone else's feet that close to them. Sadly, the pool was not much more enjoyable - all 3 segments in the Solarium were only a few feet deep at most, and a new addition of a lifeguard who just stood there and persistently stared at passengers in the pool felt...odd. Others were clearly uncomfortable about it, and many commented that the clear glass at the edge of the different levels of the pools presented highly unflattering views of what few swimmers were actually in the pool to those in the pools below them, as well as other passengers walking by. Accordingly, I noticed that the "pools" (using the term loosely) were under utilized - empty or nearly empty most of the time, for that matter. Add into this whole situation the fact that the spas were so incredibly over chlorinated that it literally burned my noise when I was in them (and others were also commenting), by the end of the cruise I had only "Enjoyed" the spas three times for about 15 minutes each time. Usually I'd spend at least an hour or two a day relaxing in them. Disappointed.
However, the solarium became one of our Go-To places (as always) even though the towel-on-chair reservation brigade were in full force (as usual) with seemingly no crew enforcement of the issue. But when we found a chair we enjoyed it there.
Elsewhere on the ship I was left wondering about the design choices of various venues and common areas. The "Esplanade" as it's now called (Previously referred to as the Promenade on most other RCI ships with similar setups) was extremely crowded - especially so when the "Junk sales" (as much wife and I jokingly refer to them) were on in the middle of the space...which on Anthem, was basically ALWAYS. These sales have always frustrated me on every ship when they take place in an area of the ship that should be available for passenger enjoyment and free-flow of passengers from one venue to another, but on Anthem it was particularly annoying as it was seemingly non-stop, complete with the loud annoying announcements about "limited edition!!" or "one time sale!" this, that, and everything else. Want to get to the Patisserie for a coffee or a snack? Sorrentos for a slice of pizza? Or just want to actually get through the area from one end of the ship to the other to head to the Music Hall or another venue like the Schooner bar? Get ready to bump and grind shoulder to shoulder with others - I felt bad for anyone who was in a wheelchair or a scooter - it was simply unnavigable almost all waking hours and we soon started avoiding it like the plague, instead of enjoying it as another common area that should have been enjoyable. At least on other ships they pack up the sales during certain hours and the area is quiet, open, and enjoyable to sit and unwind for a few - on Anthem, it seemed like it was a constant cacophony all waking hours of the day. Another public area turned into what was effectively a big retail store, as if the actual stores on board weren't enough.
The "British pub" that is common aboard RCI ships was at one end of the Esplanade, but again, the design choice of installing "grids" instead of windows meant that sound bled both ways to and from the pub. When there was a crooner or some activity going on it bled into the Esplanade and Sorrentos. When you were in the pub trying to enjoy yourself, the annoying junk sale announcements (or just the high-volume crowds) bled over into the pub. You couldn't win in either venue.
Speaking of venues, we enjoyed most of them, but unfortunately getting to and from often required running a gamut of photographers that were frankly, by the end of the week, incredibly annoying. On one walk from 270 to the Esplanade we were approached not less than THREE times - once by the "tuba" art installation exiting 270, once more in the area between the elevators (where they had the customary "Fake sunset" photos backgrounds out in full force) and once more on our way down the staircase headed to the Esplanade for a slice of pizza after a show. Honestly, is RCI not able to pay the fuel bill unless they sell enough photos every cruise? That's what it started to feel like, we joked with others. Worse yet, while docked in Bermuda, whilst walking down the pier we were yelled at by another Royal Caribbean photographer after (unknowingly) walking in her shot while trying to get a similar one of our own. I'm usually the last person to get into a verbal altercation with anyone, but I must admit that I had a few polite yet firm words directed at the photographer about the situation about how it was both an accident that were were there to begin with (we genuinely did not see her standing there before apparently walking into her shot), and also reminding her that we are as entitled as anyone else to take a picture with us and the ship in the background even if we weren't paying RCI for the results. This REALLY bothered me for hours afterwards, way more than it should have, but the photographer barking "Sir please move you are in my photo, I'm just doing my job, please move, I need to take this photo, please move, I'm just doing my job" is stuck in my head still as I sit and type this.
So, the new "270" venue - RCI does have a hit on their hands with this style of venue close to the waterline on the stern, and with lots of glass - it reminded me of the Centrum on the vision class ships, but far better. The shows hosted there were hit and miss however - "Spectras Cabaret" left us scratching our heads a little as it was, frankly, just weird - no other way to explain it. We stayed up late one night specifically to attend the "Vistarama" which I mistakenly thought would include the use of the robotic television screens, something I had wanted to see in action. We were soon disappointed to learn that it was literally just 4 or 5 "scenic vistas" projected onto the 270 windows, a few of which (IE, the "Waterfalls") that were just cut and paste repeated/duplicated images across the windows. It was cool to see, sure, but after about 15 minutes, particularly when the images started repeating, the venue emptied out, complete with groans from others who also expected more. And why did they want until 10:30PM to start this when 270 had sat empty for hours before? Other shows in 270 were better, but none "blew us away" as has been common on other RCI ships. I did finally get to see the robotics in action during another show - impressive. Lastly, the AV crew on Anthem have to be deaf - I was left with no other explanation on why the volume levels of every single show we attended were set at ear-piercing levels that crossed the line so badly during one show that I had to literally change seats to get further away from the speakers. We're talking eardrum damaging levels, easily. Elderly people sitting near the speakers had their hands over their ears.
During downtimes between shows 270 was a serene and enjoyable venue to just sit and relax in one of the many comfortable chairs whilst watching the ships wake behind us. Until once again, as seemed to happen everywhere, the salespeople showed up (Diamonds.... art.... blah blah blah) and started barking on about their special deals over the PA system - serenity gone. Argh. All the passengers who were sitting and enjoying the amazing views and the quiet serenity packed up and left.
Being interested to check out the non-traditional dining venues on Anthem (a result of RCI's failed "Dynamic Dining" legacy that is no longer) we attended dinner in the MDR all but 2 nights of the cruise. Our experience ranged from "What we expected" to "What the heck?". On the high side, our service was prompt and professional. At the lowest spot, we were freshly seated at a table that was only partially set (half our utensils were missing), with no bread basket (which nobody even noticed until we asked for bread 15 minutes after being seated without anyone even acknowledging us up until that point) and the crew in the adjacent prep area seemed oblivious to the fact passengers were sitting nearby trying to enjoy an supposedly upscale dining experience, whilst they clanged and smashed plates, cutlery, and yelled at each other. Others (also experienced cruisers, we learned) sitting at tables nearby who we chatted up also expressed disappointment in the MDR whole experience thus far. Clearly the legacy dynamic-dining venue is not ideal for the now traditional dining service, and honestly, the small venues themselves left us yearning for the traditional MDR of other more traditional ships. I was not impressed in the whole setup honestly, although I can see how others who were on their first cruise and knew nothing else could find it quasi-upscale, however.
We attended dinner in the Windjammer for 2 nights, and breakfast every morning. The one trend that become evident was universal in short order was that food was NOT being held at appropriate temperatures. At several points I bit into food that was basically lukewarm (after supposedly being a hot item) that I worried about basic food-safety - how much longer would this food be able to sit at this temperature before someone might get sick? Breakfast, lunch, and dinner...it was a constant trend - at least 1 or 2 items that I'd have on my plate were NOT hot when I got to our table a short time later. Food temperatures aside, I was once again reasonably disappointed in the Windjammer despite the "new and improved" promises that the Quantum Class ships boasted - it seemed to be mostly the "same old same old" food choices for most meals short of dinner in which there was some minor rotation of new items. Lunch was equally underwhelming, although we typically ended up eating at other complementary food venues for lunch after the first few days aboard, most of which had superior food and service . Don't even get me started on the hockey-pucks that RCI tries to pass off as hamburgers across the ship - want an actually good burger? Get ready to shell out some money at Johnny Rockets. Speaking of which, Johnny Rockets seemed like a ghost-town most of the cruise - when will RCI drop the upcharge on this venue and make it a place that passengers can enjoy like Carnival does with "Guys Burgers", one of the more memorable (and ultra tasty!) memories our our past Carnival cruises. It seems silly that they continue to try to upcharge for a good hamburger on a cruise ship. Lobster or a premium steak in a specialty restaurant or upcharge in the MDR? Sure. A hamburger and fries?
Honestly?
What's next for upcharge restaurants - the hotdog stand in the SeaPlex onboard? I've always felt like being upcharged for a hamburger, despite the fact the surcharge is reasonably small, was nickle and diming passengers. It's a *hamburger*, not a steak.
On the topic of food, we were once again mostly disappointed in the coffee aboard. We are admittedly both coffee snobs - a good cup of coffee in the AM is essential, and once again, it seems that RCI can't manage to brew a consistent pot of coffee aboard any of their ships - some carafes had adequate strength coffee with a passable flavour, whilst others had what could only be described as "slightly browned water" with no taste. How it is that on one of the most technologically advanced ships afloat that they can't seem to make a consistent pot of coffee dumbfounds me - we were left wondering once again if this is just another tactic to get people to spend money for the upscale coffee offerings while onboard to get a few more dollars out of our pockets? For us, it worked - the onboard Starbucks was a bastion of actually enjoyable coffee. Another score for our experience with Carnival however - their standard coffee aboard was not only fairly consistently enjoyable, but actually consistent around the entire ship from pot to pot.

Our port days were a mix of mediocrity despite our excitement for CocoCay - given as how Labadee has always been one of our hands-down past favourites, we were both excited to see what CocoCay was all about.

Port Canaveral is far from a particularly desired port for us, especially when it's a truncated day to begin with since we didn't arrive until lunch. I opted to do the Kennedy Space Centre excursion which was actually fairly priced and well run. The excursion was excellent aside from the reality that we were only given basically 4-ish hours at KSU itself before the busses were departing back to the ship - not even remotely close to adequate, but I did manage to squeeze in a ton of things in that time window.

Nassau was, well....Nassau. It seems like the city has really cleaned itself up to some extent after the hurricane. We walked to and from the Queens Staircase from the ship, stopped in at McDonalds to have a drink and use the WiFi for a bit, and then returned to the ship. We had considered not even getting off the ship as we sometimes do in Nassau, but we wanted some exercise and amazingly enough hadn't actually seen the Queens Staircase during one of our many previous visits to the island, so it gave us something new to do.

CocoCay, well....I wanted so badly to enjoy it. The actual island is incredible - for anyone who's been to Labadee, it was similar, yet different - the inland beaches and fresh water pool was great, albeit COLD, which probably explained why there wasn't that many people in it. TONS of beach chairs and umbrellas setup when we arrived, and big cozy comfy hammocks squirrelled away here and there. We got off the ship, found the nearest beach, got a hammock and a chair, and started relaxing. It was awesome! Until it wasn't - about an hour later the winds shifted and the exhaust from the ship started to blow down onto the beach area - for anyone who's ever smelled the exhaust from a ships engine, it's rather acrid because of the heavy bunker oil the engines burn, coupled with it's sulphur content. I roused my wife and said we had to move as the smell was giving me a headache and irritating my throat and sinuses - she agreed it wasn't exactly pleasant either. We moved to a different part of the island outside the area the exhaust was fouling, found two idyllic hammocks under some palm trees, climbed in, and promptly went back to relaxing again. Until the winds shifted again an hour or two later, and you guessed it....ship exhaust blowing back at us again. My wife was sleeping, but I got up and boarded the tram and toured the entire facility hoping to find another place to escape the fumes, but had no luck. I returned to my wife, said that the stink was really bothering me again, and about an hour later (after grabbing some food) we were headed back to the ship, having spent maybe a total of 4 or 5 hours ashore. I'm left wondering if our experience was one of two things - an unfortunate day during which the prevailing winds were abnormal, resulting in the exhaust blowing a direction it wouldn't normally go...or an epic lack of planning on behalf of RCI not taking prevailing winds into consideration. But it would certainly weigh heavily on any willingness to visit CocoCay again. I was so incredibly bummed after this being the one port I was so excited to visit - our previous trips to Labadee have been amongst the most amazing times we've had on cruises.

Back on the topic of the ship.

Out stateroom was excellent - we really enjoyed the new look of the Quantum class ships, and the bathroom and shower setup were both nice. As we had a "Guarantee" balcony stateroom we ended up being directly below the pool deck, however either the engineering of this modern ship, or the layout of the deck above meant that we heard virtually nothing at all above us, which was great, and rather unexpected - I had packaged earplugs just in case, but never needed them. Some noise was evident from the overhang above our balcony, but it wasn't terrible. As mentioned earlier, our stateroom attendant was most excellent - the *only* crew member we ended up tipping extra to. On the downside, RCI decided to not clean the balconies until well into our cruise (in the latter half of our second port day) meaning that almost every hour we were actually able to enjoy sitting on our balcony (which wasn't many as the temperatures weren't exactly spectacular for much of the cruise) left us staring through a thick crust of salt. I was glad we ended up only paying $100 over and above our previously booked interior for our balcony guarantee, as otherwise I would have struggled to feel like we would have got our moneys worth, but no complaints in the grand scheme.

On the topic of the crew, we were again underwhelmed. Most food venues seemed chronically understaffed, particularly the windjammer - food stations were left unattended for periods of time (my wife was left standing for 4-5 minutes waiting for someone to cut some chicken for her at the carving table in the Windjammer during dinner one evening before eventually giving up), during some meal services food trays were empty in some areas (Breakfast was problematic in that regard), and tables were left dirty for extended periods of time - to the point where many passengers ended up stacking other peoples dirty dishes and such simply to get a place to sit. Many food venues had only 1 or 2 crew staffing large areas, leading to lineups. Again, we are not new cruisers, and this was *not* our experience on any other cruise with both RCI and Carnival - there was something seriously wrong on this particular cruise.

The crew themselves also seemed tired and disengaged. I get it, working on a cruise ship is far from easy. Passengers can be, and often are, jerks at worst, or sometimes needy and cantankerous at their best. The hours are long. But once again, we are not new cruisers, and the crew on Anthem in particular seemed just indifferent in many areas. It wasn't the rule (many were friendly, smiling, and enjoyable to engage with), but many others were, well...not so much.

We both try exceedingly hard while cruising to be the "non jerk" type of passengers when we vacation anywhere, cruising included - we go out of our way to be polite and pleasant to crew, staying patient and friendly, smiling, saying thanks whenever it's even slightly due, saying "Hello!" with a smile in the stateroom corridors and public places, and generally trying to avoid being a pain in the bum that the crew so often deals with, so honestly, it wasn't anything we were doing. But is this crew just burned out? Or is there poor management? Who knows. It did not live up to ANY of our previous experiences with Royal Caribbean, not even close.

Entertainment? Mixed feelings. My wife loved 2 of the broadway shows she attended. Spectras Cabaret was just bizarre however - some cool effects and such, but the whole underlying premise was tough to digest. The new "Crazy Quest" (replacing "The Quest" as it was called previously) was pretty much standard fare for RCI, nothing particularly new and exciting for anyone who's attended it 4 or 5 (or a million) times, aside from a new name.

I was left wondering what the heck was going on with the scheduling of many activities however, with long gaps in the evenings with little doing, only to have several activities squished so close together that passengers were left feeling that they could attend one or the other, but probably not both...if the wanted to get seats, anyways. Unlike many other ships were shows and such would be setup so that both early and late dining room seatings would have an opportunity to attend different shows at different times, on Anthem many shows were one time only, or worse yet, nearly overlapping.

Drink pricing? It's a good thing neither my wife nor I are big drinkers - the unlimited alcohol package has zero appeal to us, but on the one evening during a show in 270 when we each decided to enjoy a beverage, one beer for myself and a strawberry daiquiri for my wife was $27!? The Daquiri was of course little more than the standard fare premix blended with ice and the rum just poured over the top of it in a big pool. No effort to blend or mix it. Not even a tiny piece of fruit or anything to dress it up. The bartender seemed put out that he was being asked to even make it. Had to ask for a straw. I got back to my chair only to find out that the beer was mostly warm...but the show had started and I wasn't about to make 20 people in our aisle move twice for me to trudge back and exchange it.

Again, just more disappointment.

And lastly, the monetization has reached insane levels it seems.

Photographers...everywhere, and not all would take "No thanks" for an answer. Junk constantly on sale in the promenade plugging up foot traffic with it's customary loud annoying announcements. The broad selection of desert and snack items that you used to be able to enjoy as complementary in various venues across the ship are now gone, replaced by either cookies (oh, yay), or a small selection of slices of what were very clearly previously frozen cakes and such. But you can still buy some of the premium desert options at the Patisserie in the Promenade if you want, but be prepared to stand in a long line, and pay up for the privilege. We were hassled to book up-sell dining options during dinner in the Windjammer. The galley tour that was often free in the past on many other RCI ships was now an additional cost item for which we were also hassled to book during another meal.

It just seemed to go on and on. We tired of it. Seriously. It was ANNOYING.

On a positive note, the new Royal Caribbean app is excellent - we found it a useful tool for everything we could possibly need whilst on the ship, from booking dinner reservations to seeing the lineup of activities and such on the ship that day. It seemingly completely replaced the need for the printed "Cruise Compass" that is customarily delivered to you stateroom every night, but that still arrived regardless - it seemed like a waste of paper as we just tossed it most nights. I just wish that RCI would institute a messaging option through the app so that people could stay in touch with each other - I'd gladly have paid a few dollars for the privilege.

The disembarkation process at the conclusion of our cruise was quick and fast - we opted for the 7AM self-disembark which helped I'm sure. Lets not get started on the disaster that was our Uber trip back to our hotel (to retrieve our car), but that's another story, and certainly not RCI's fault. I'm seriously losing faith in Uber here. ;)
In the end, as my title suggests, we were quite frankly left completely underwhelmed with our cruise. I sit back now and ask myself if our expectations were just too high, or perhaps we were just so excited that even an average cruise would have seemed mediocre, but I genuinely feel that neither of those things came into play - it really just WAS an underwhelming cruise. Our excitement about the Quantum class ships is gone, and frankly, if this experience of ultra-monetization of everything possible points towards the future of what RCI is going to offer across their fleet, they will be seeing less of us, or we will simply go elsewhere completely - we are not the sort of cruisers who feel obligated to any sort of brand loyalty, and no, even the perks of our increasing Crown and Anchor status don't mater that much to us - Being able to sit in the Diamond Lounge or having reserved seats at a show in a special aisle doesn't cut it for us if - we are looking for an enjoyable overall experience.
Sadly, Anthem did not deliver.
submitted by PrivatePilot9 to Cruise

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