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NJCruisers

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  1. Great news, you will be impressed they are very professional. I used one of their floatation belts with no shame!
  2. We went to Surfside beach afterwards. They are also on FB - there is another place down the beach called Reflections. We rented 2 chairs and an umbrella for $15. The beach is not as nice as Eagle, but it was fine for what we wanted. We went to Barefoot Aruba for dinner afterwards and I can't say enough good things about it.
  3. Also, Trikes Aruba has a Facebook page. I stalked that quite some time before I booked it!
  4. We just did the Trikes Aruba tour and really enjoyed it. I wrote a review of Freedom in the discussion board if you want to see my write up, I don't know how to link it. I have never done the other one so I can't comment on which is better.
  5. I don't recall seeing them, but maybe they were out a little later in the day?
  6. I just used them! I'm unsure of how to link to another post, but I just did a fell review of Freedom of the Seas Nov. 17th sailing. If you scroll down to St. Thomas (it was our last port) you will see the full review. I can't say enough good things about them.
  7. I am sure if you email them they will let you know. Ulf was very responsive to email messages and always got back to me in less than 24 hours.
  8. Rude people come in all nationalities unfortunately. Yes, announcements are in both languages but honestly the English versions seem like they are longer so I'm not sure why so many people feel the need to complain about that. With the exception being the the muster drill, both were about the same length. Several times we encountered people who clearly didn't speak English and they greeted us with a very friendly Buenos Noches! and we simply replied back in English Good night to you as well! and there were smiles all around. I'm sure as long as you do your research on where you want to go you will have an amazing cruise as well!
  9. So here's the wrap up of my recap... Finding the Royal Caribbean Blog was a Godsend! I could go on and on but if you’re already here you know how great of a community this is. I have to admit that I did go over to the dark side several times (CC). I found some useful information on the ports I was visiting. I saw some really terrible reviews of Freedom and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of them. One of the most critical things I read over and over again was that sailing from PR meant I was going to encounter very rude people. I won’t say we didn’t, but honestly the few that we did encounter weren’t all from PR. I’ve seen worse behavior at Disney World. I think there were 2 quinceanera’s being celebrated on board, and we only noticed them on the formal nights because of the beautiful dresses. Yes, the young girls were all over the place posing for photos, but they weren’t rude at all. Heck I was all over the place taking photos of the ship myself! I also want to mention there was a Salsa Group on board. They were a very large group. I noticed signs on some of the doors leading to our room right away and thought uh oh, this could get noisy. I have to say, they were having such a great time. They had some private events and yes certain lounges were very crowded but there was so much to do on board that we never felt cheated. They ranged in all ages and were very friendly. We chatted with some of them here and there throughout the cruise. Yes, Freedom is showing her age a bit & I knew going in she was scheduled for dry dock afterwards. We were in cabin #7400 and the hallway carpet was very badly stained. Not stains here and there, just really long dark spots from people constantly walking on them. It did not smell, only one night walking back to our room there was a strong chlorine smell along the hallway but it wasn’t near our room. No idea what that was about. The room decor was outdated, the coral and teal colors scream the 1990’s to me. Otherwise everything else in the room was great, even the bathroom. Plenty of storage space. Our room was at the very end of the ship and it was very quiet. We never heard any of our neighbors. Our room attendant was great. I swear he was a ninja. We really only saw him 2-3 times but our room was perfect and he took excellent care of us. We saw 2 other attendants in the hallway every day and they were both very friendly. I ended up getting the Voom package for 1 device & we shared it. It was $77 total. Even though our kids are technically adults, my mom is elderly and I wanted to make sure we could get in touch with each other if needed. It was nice to be able to share photos with them using the WhatsApp. My mom loves Instagram so I would add photos to my story at least once a day and she really enjoyed that. We did not use it to stream anything but we never had any problems with it. Totally worth it IMO. Ultimate Drink Package - Always a debate! I booked it for $47 pp during last year’s Black Friday sale. I figured I had plenty of time to cancel it and I honestly went back and forth for a while. In the end I kept it and I’m glad. With gratuity it was $776 making it approximately $55 per day, pp. I didn’t keep track of everything we drank, that wouldn’t have been much fun. I can say this: When we had breakfast in the MDR we took advantage of the fresh squeezed juice. Several mornings we had specialty iced coffees. Every time (not day, each time) we left the ship we each took 1 vitamin and 1 regular water to bring with us. Every night at dinner I had 2-3 glasses of wine and hubby had 2 drinks (perfect Manhattan’s which are pricey at home too). During the day when we were on the ship I enjoyed plenty different frozen drinks - I alternated with virgin versions here and there. Most days hubby stuck to beer in the afternoons and switched to Bourbon after dinner. I think I had maybe 2-3 soda’s during the week but not in the souvenir cups. We never used those. We enjoyed going to the different lounges and trying different drinks. Yes I know we can get any drink pretty much anywhere as long as the bartender has the ingredients, but it was fun bar hopping. There were a few drinks I didn’t like and some that I tried that I might not have if it wasn’t already paid for. Ending the night with a cordial was also a nice treat. I’d say we took at least a dozen bottles of water back to the room during the week as well. I like to think we did get our money’s worth, but we were totally happy with it so that’s that. MDR - I also went back and forth with trying specialty dining. With the exception of our one dinner in Aruba we ate there every night. My theory was that we had fabulous steak houses and Italian restaurants at home, there was bound to be something we would enjoy on the menu. In hindsight, I wish I had checked the menu on our Bonaire day. I ended up getting the steak again which was delicious, but honestly this girl was missing her macaroni! That probably would have been a good night to splurge and go to the Italian place. Oh well, now I know. I truly enjoyed being served every night and the waitstaff was just great. Windjammer - I know everyone loves this place, heck we enjoyed it last cruise too but I just didn’t enjoy it this trip. The 2 times we went it was jam packed and when we went for lunch the options were either something really heavy or salad. I don’t enjoy pre-cooked burgers so that wasn’t an option for me. I’m sure if you are a picky eater or don’t want to go to the MDR it’s probably just fine for dinner as there are so many options. Sorrento’s - I can’t believe I’m saying this either, but the pizza wasn’t terrible. Dare I say we kinda liked it! When hubby saw the pizza sign his eyes lit up and I told him don’t get excited, it probably sucks. He works in Brooklyn so he eats great pizza for lunch AT LEAST once a week. This place became our guilty pleasure. Several nights I brought some back to the Bull & Bear. We liked the veggie pizza the best but the cheese wasn’t bad either. Sabor - we only went here for the Guacamole class but we thought the food was fantastic. We would gladly have a meal here again if given the chance. The Promenade - depending on what they were selling sometimes it became quite crowded. What’s the deal with watches? It seemed like they were constantly selling them! I’m totally not a watch person so I didn’t pay too much attention. People seemed to be going crazy for the t-shirt sales too, none of them really appealed to me all that much though. I originally planned to get a Freedom of the Seas Spirit Jersey, but I didn’t like that the front was completely blank. I thought it should have an anchor or at least the RC logo in the upper left chest or something. I ended up with a super comfy hoodie instead. Also, I thought that balloon party was crazy. All the popped balloons all over the place, this from a company that doesn’t allow plastic straws? Weird. Spacious Ocean View Room - I thought it was great. The window was very big and we didn’t miss having a balcony. I would much rather use the money saved towards other things, such as the drink package or excursions. Also, we had to factor in the flight to PR. We could have afforded one, but I chose book this instead. We did agree that we could never do an interior room and probably wouldn’t want one overlooking the Promenade, just not our style. My “Something New Every Day” was just for me and just for fun. Pre Cruise PR: Mofongo - loved it Cruise Day: Escargot - hated them At Sea: Souffle - not a fan Aruba: Rode a motorcycle - loved it Curacao: Walked on a floating bridge - very cool Bonaire: Rode on a Catamaran & got to see a sea turtle while snorkeling - awesome At Sea: Baked Alaska - loved it St. Thomas: Conch Fritters - delicious I’m pretty sure I covered everything. I know I’ve said it several times but we absolutely loved this cruise. Although I don’t see us cruising every year, we definitely plan to go on another one in (hopefully) the next 2-3 years. Freedom didn’t have many reviews when I was looking so that’s the main reason I decided to write this. Also, I’m going to print it and keep it so I can look back on it some day. Thanks for reading and if you have any questions feel free to ask.
  10. Our flight was 3:13 so we pushed it a little, lol. I think we were there in about 20 minutes. We were there in plenty of time.
  11. Sunday - Nov 24th San Juan/Fly Home Can you believe they are making us leave this floating paradise? Our flight back to NJ was scheduled after 3pm & since I wanted to keep things as simple as possible I booked the San Juan On Your Own w/Airport Drop Off tour thru RC. The time on the tickets said 7:45 and the paper in our room said 7:15, so we were out the door by 7am, grabbed our last specialty iced coffee & croissants and headed over to the Star Lounge where we were checked in quickly and found a nice comfy seat. We played the hurry up and wait game and I’d say we were finally off the boat around 8am which wasn’t bad. All of the instructions they gave us were very clear, however once we found our luggage we just grabbed a porter and we were at the truck loading our luggage and on the tour bus in no time. The bus was air conditioned and our driver gave us a brief history lesson and pointed out things on the way. We were dropped off at Plaza de Colon around 8:30am and told that we would be picked up here precisely at 1pm and to be sure we weren’t late. We didn’t really have a plan except for making sure we stopped for lunch so we didn’t have to eat airport food. I wanted to walk around and take pictures but hubby is a big history buff so I figured we would probably end up at one of the forts which was a win for both of us. The streets were pretty much empty and I was snapping pictures like crazy as we made our way over to El Morro. We wanted to start there so we could work our way back to the meet up point. Judging by the timestamps on my phone, I took a photo of El Morro in the distance at 8:56 and we were inside by 9:09 - that was walking very leisurely with me snapping photos and taking Go-Pro video. We had a lot of fun exploring the entire fort & we watched the movie as well. The only part that was not fun was walking back up all those steps, and it had started to get really hot out. We opted not to walk around the bottom of the fort because we had already seen the view from high up, several times. We wanted to look around Old San Juan some more. We did walk over the grass and took a quick look at the Santa Maria Cemetery but we didn’t go in. That pic was taken at 10:44. There was a man selling ice (back home we call it Italian Ice, but as I’m typing this I’m not sure what to call it?) Anyway, the flavors were coconut, pineapple & mango so we got a scoop of all three and shared it - it hit the spot & we were ready to take on more of Old San Juan. I really wanted to see Calle Fortaleza. Our bus driver had already told us that the umbrellas had been taken down and replaced with the Puerto Rican Flag. We could tell we were getting closer because there was lots of music and you could just hear the excitement a few blocks away. I thought it was beautiful and glad we saw it. By this time it was around 11:30 and hubby said we should probably start looking for a place to eat & to keep in mind we were still on “Island Time” so it may take longer. I kept saying I didn’t want anything touristy, but wouldn’t you know it, as we were walking we literally stumbled upon Barrachina’s. Hubby said he was fine with walking some more to find a smaller, local spot but I pointed to the “historical” sign that stated this was the house Don Ramon created the Pina Colada & how could we not go in?!? Once we sat down we realized we were really hungry. We ordered a sampler platter for an appetizer, we each ordered a mofongo dish for lunch & of course Pina Colada’s. The drinks were delicious but we made a mistake with the food, the sampler platter for 2 could have easily fed 4. There was so much waste. Then when the meals came out they were huge! The restaurant wasn’t crowded so we took our time. The steak mofongo was amazing, it was so flavorful. I really enjoyed it. Hubby had joked that he anticipates me now searching Pinterest for mofongo recipes. If anyone has one I’d love to try it! We left Barrachina’s with full bellies and walked a little slower in and out of the local shops. We were at the meeting place by 12:45. It’s amazing how different it looks on the other side of the street from that statue. Fancy buildings and palm trees everywhere. I wish we had more time to walk down a few of those blocks and check them out. The bus pulled up a little before one and we left at exactly 1pm. Hubby said wow, they don’t mess around! I told him I hoped they did a head count and since everyone was accounted for we left. I don’t really know, but if you take the tour be sure to be back in plenty of time! We took a nice air conditioned ride back to the airport where our luggage was waiting for us. At first I didn’t see the guy watching it and I was a little nervous. We found it easily and made our way through the terminal. We were dropped off at D and Jet Blue was in A, but it didn’t take long to get there. We were through the agricultural check in no time. Security took about 40 minutes but once in our terminal we found seats easily. It was a sad moment going into the bathroom to change into my sweatpants knowing the trip was indeed over. Luckily since we had gone to bed so late the night before because of the luggage fiasco, we were up early, walked for hours and had eaten a full meal I was tired. I took my Xanax and waited for the boarding to begin. I’d like to say the flight home was uneventful, but we experienced a lot of turbulence, so much that the man next to my husband screamed at one point! I’m really glad I took that Xanax because I was able to go right back to sleep. We arrived in NJ safe and sound. It was SO COLD! Work wasn’t fun at all the next day. One more wrap up post to go!
  12. Saturday - Nov 23rd - St. Thomas After I first booked this cruise I became obsessed with watching YouTube videos that featured Freedom of the Seas, which led me to Griff and Alyssa’s channel. I loved the tour they took on St. Thomas with Sunfari but the only thing hubby asked for all trip was to take a taxi to Coki Beach. About 2 weeks before we sailed someone told him Coki wasn’t like it was 10 years ago so maybe we should do something else instead. I immediately reached out to Sunfari Jeep Tours to see if they had anything available. I’m a crazy planner and I thought their website was a bit vague but I reached out anyway because of the videos I had watched. They replied back to me that night letting me know they had availability for the All Day Beach and Jeep excursion. We emailed back and forth a bit but hubby was surprised when all I could tell him was that I wasn’t really sure what exactly we would be doing but it looked like it would be a fun day…. What an understatement, we had an AMAZING DAY. We met outside of Tickles Dockside Pub right outside of where the ship docks around 9am. We found it easily & were greeted by Lolly from Sunfari. We were the ONLY ONES. We were getting a private guide for the entire day, how cool was that? We chatted a bit about what we wanted to do and we told her basically we were looking to visit a few beaches, feed some fish, and eat a local meal, anything else we were open to suggestions. Since we mentioned Coki we started there even though it was rougher than usual because of the storm out at sea. We chatted the whole way there and before we knew it we were there. It was beautiful and brought back great memories. It wasn’t as calm as it was and we weren’t able to feed the fish like we had the last time, but we did see a bunch of them and enjoyed playing in the surf. Lolly stayed on the beach taking random pics and would check on us. Next stop was Sapphire Beach. Since she has a working relationship with local businesses she was able to take us to a private resort where we enjoyed snorkeling and feeding the fish. I had an unforgettable moment when a decent sized fish got caught up in the ruffle in the top of my bathing suit and almost ended up inside it! We stayed here much longer, it was so much fun. Our next stop was her favorite beach, Secret Harbour, again located at a resort. This was our last beach of the day and we really enjoyed it, especially knowing it was our last beach day. Once we had our fill, we were able to use the outdoor shower and change out of our bathing suits and get cleaned up some more in the rest rooms. She took us to enjoy the views by a place called Prime at Paradise Point. We were able to enjoy such an amazing view with no one else around. She also knew hubby was a beer fan, so we stopped at Rock City Brewing. By this time we were hungry and she had already told us earlier she knew exactly where she wanted to take us for lunch. When she said Jen’s Deli hubby wasn’t all that excited. I told him she hadn’t disappointed us yet and that I’m sure it’s nothing like the deli’s we have back home. Boy were we in for a treat! By this time Lolly had already proclaimed me a “sister from another mister” so I was surprised when she asked if it was okay if she sat with us. I told her there was no way she wasn’t sitting with us, that was crazy talk! We walked in and were immediately treated like family. Jen couldn’t have been more hospitable. We could have easily stayed there for hours eating, drinking and chatting with them. While I drank a rum bucket and hubby enjoyed the local brews, we were also treated to homemade Coquito. I wish she was able to ship it home because I would have placed an order in a heartbeat. Hubby enjoyed an oxtail meal and since I couldn’t decide on what I wanted, I had 2 appetizers instead - I chose the house specialty of Conch Fritters and also Coconut Shrimp. I almost licked the plates, everything was DELICIOUS. Homemade, local cooking at it's best. I can’t say enough good things about this place and Jen herself. You know you had a good time when there are hugs all around when you are leaving! Lolly wanted to take us to a place she called Mountain Top, it had even more great views and a souvenir shop (I had told her I wanted to hit at least one and she insisted this was THE place to go). If I hadn’t had a rum bucket I may have enjoyed one of their world-famous banana daiquiris but I was just too full. I didn’t mention it earlier, but driving around in that Jeep was so much fun. We went up and down lots of hills and it was a great way to travel. Also, David Geffen’s Yacht, The Rising Sun is kind of a big deal there, and we were able to see it several times. I googled it once we were back home, it only cost him about 300 million. Now I know why she insisted I take some photos - holy smokes!!! Our time to be back on the ship was 5pm but I like to get there about an hour before so around 4pm Lolly dropped us back off right at the ship. We did the Italian goodbye where it took us about a good 30 minutes to actually say goodbye, lol. You know how you just kind of click with someone? We had an absolute blast and St. Thomas ended up being one of our best days. Our last dinner was scheduled for 5:45 but we didn’t get there until after 6. Luckily we were still seated in the same section. Wouldn’t you know it, coconut shrimp were finally on the menu! I knew there was no way they could be better then Jen’s so I went with a Caesar salad and hubby had the shrimp cocktail. Dinner was prime rib for me and he went with fish and chips. Both delicious. I finished up with creme brulee and he had the royal cheese cake. I’m still mad at myself for the next part. We arrived at 80’s trivia as they were playing the first song. I didn’t realize we could have still gone up and grabbed a paper. We knew all 20, the team that won only knew 19. We didn’t go home with medals, but I know in my heart we won, lol. After that we attended Once Upon a Time, all in all I thought it was a good show. There are definitely some numbers I would cut but I enjoyed it and hubby tolerated it. We followed that up with Battle of the Sexes and went back to the Bull and the Bear for one last night. Since we aren’t experienced cruisers this is where we hit a snafu. We had the San Juan on your own with airport drop off scheduled the next morning. We weren’t sure what to do with our luggage. In hindsight I should have double checked this earlier. It was now after midnight, housekeeping was done for the night and the line for guest services was a mile long. Long story short, our luggage was put out around 2am.
  13. Thank you! I know it's long but I remember how I liked to read tons of stuff before my trip so I'm trying to be somewhat detailed. We didn't go to St. Marteen this trip.
  14. Friday - Nov 22nd at Sea It was nice not to wake up to an alarm this morning. We had breakfast in the MDR and since it was a bit crowded they didn’t have any tables for 2. We gladly made up a table for 6 with others behind us and had a nice leisurely breakfast. We walked around the ship and bit and then went back to the room so I could pack up what I could so it wouldn’t be so overwhelming the following night. I’m really glad we did this. I don’t normally fly for vacation so having to keep things to one checked bag each plus a carry on was a bit of a challenge, especially after all the extra stuff I had accumulated throughout the trip. Afterwards we ended up in the solarium and spent some time at the pool bar located in the pool. Just an all around relaxing afternoon. We thought the parrot statues were so cool, which brought us to the question once they amp the ship, if they don't use them what do they do with them? It was formal night, so again we both dressed up and headed down for dinner. Again, the lines for pictures were long and honestly since it was just the 2 of us we didn’t feel like waiting. Dinner was once again in the MDR and it was fun. I should mention that although we sat at different tables every night we did have the same waitstaff. By the 2nd night they knew our drink orders (Moscato for me, perfect Manhattan w/Bourbon for hubby) and we all had a lot of laughs throughout the week. We couldn’t decide on appetizers so we both ordered the Vidalia onion tart and the shrimp cocktail. The tart was more like a quiche and just okay, the shrimp were great and served ice cold. I ordered the lobster tail and hubby wanted the roast beef tenderloin but also a lobster tail, they ended up giving him 2 full dinners. I was surprised by the lobster, I wasn’t expecting much but it was served nice and hot and was very tender. It was so good that when she asked if I wanted another one I said yes. They brought me just the lobster tail and not the entire dinner like hubby received so it was perfect. For dessert hubby ordered the molten chocolate cake and I went with the classic baked Alaska. They also brought us one of the 50th Anniversary Cakes. We both thought the baked Alaska was the best. Since we were both so full we took the Anniversary cake back to the room and changed out of the formal clothes. Hubby indulged me and we went to Harry Potter Trivia which was fun. We went to see the comedy show and it was just okay. He had some funny bits but not someone I would want to see again. The one negative note was when he started with the politics. I don’t care what your view is but I go on vacation to forget that stuff. Luckily it didn’t last long because I was already looking at the hubby like - time to go! We enjoyed the Piano bar with Raul and at the end of the night we went to the Quest game show and had an absolute blast, we laughed so much.
  15. Thursday - Nov 21st Bonaire A new island for both of us. I originally planned on sleeping in a bit and having a nice sit down breakfast. We would go to the local craft market, back to the ship and then snorkeling. That was all turned around before we left when Woodwind moved our snorkeling excursion to early that morning. Luckily I found out before the cruise! I was a bit nervous because they wanted us there at 8:15 and we were only able to get off the ship at what I thought was 8am. The crew told us that no, we could not get off until 8:30. I originally thought it was my mistake, but judging by all the people (and my cruise compass) RC changed it. I messaged Woodwind because I was nervous but he assured me they were waiting for us. Sure enough, we had less than a 10 minute walk once off the ship and we weren’t even the last ones there. (They are located on the property of the Divi Flamingo Resort.) I cannot say enough good things about Woodwind. Ulf was very responsive to all of my emails beforehand and Dee and her crew were simply the best. Their catamaran was roomy enough for everyone (18 of us) & they had clean bathrooms. Dee gave a short talk about Bonaire and the reefs we would be visiting, we all boarded the catamaran and set sail. It was so nice and relaxing and we even went by our ship so it was cool to see her from another angle. We were offered beverages (water, punch, rum punch, beer) and the crew went around giving everyone their fins & masks. I was super impressed with how Dee took our glasses, looked at her thumb and gave us the perfect prescription masks. The equipment was super clean and we were all shown the proper way to use everything. As a novice snorkeler I was asked if I wanted to use a weighted belt and/or a pool noodle, I took both. There were 3 crew members that took out 3 different groups and a photographer. All were very friendly, knowledgeable and clearly enjoyed their jobs very much. They divided us by experience which was great. They made a brief stops to drop everyone off at different parts of the reef so we wouldn’t crowd each other. Ours was a group of 6. It was a drift type snorkeling trip and I have to say, having both the belt and the noodle I was able to do it very easily without much effort. We had Dee as our guide and she was great pointing out all kinds of things, many I would have never noticed on my own. We spent a good deal of time in the ocean (no watch or phone so I honestly have no idea how long) they circled back and gathered all of us up and we were off to our next stop. It was nice to sit and relax on the catamaran and just chat with everyone about what they saw. We were offered more drinks and a snack of local cookies & all of our masks were treated with more baby shampoo to avoid fogging. The second stop they switched guides so we had Rowan who was also a lot of fun. We were lucky enough to see a sea turtle and it was pretty awesome. We all kept our distance so we could watch him and not scare him off. The photographer got some great pics for us too. Just as I was starting to feel tired, Rowan told us it was almost time to start lining up because the boat would be back soon (it went to pick up the others). Once back on board, the crew collected all our gear and served us an AMAZING lunch. I couldn’t even tell you exactly what it was, but it was a local dish that had lo mein type noodles, chicken & vegetables - I’m totally not doing it justice but trust me, it was amazing. Between the flavors and after being in the ocean all morning we gobbled it all down. We were also offered cake for dessert and we really enjoyed the nice relaxing ride back to the resort. I should mention that during this time the photographer had us pass around an iPad with all of the photos he took and the cost was $40 for him to email them to us with a link that would be active for about a month. I knew this in advance and since he got some great shots I gladly ordered them. We took a nice leisurely walk back to the ship, showered and since we already had lunch we headed out to the Bonaire Arts and Crafts Cruise Market which is made up of all local vendors with crafts, food, drinks and music. We decided to walk a bit further into town and work our way back. We were rewarded with finding a local brewery and hubby enjoyed the ice cold beer on such a hot day. I enjoyed shopping in the market, but it was so hot so we sat on a bench in the shade, sat and relaxed a bit, having a drink and listening to the music, just kind of taking it all in. Once back on the ship we grabbed lounge chairs on the port side. I had a nice refreshing Lava Flow and since hubby fell asleep, I enjoyed the sail away. The salt mines looked incredible from a distance, I hope to visit them some day. Tonight’s dinner was kind of uneventful. Hubby had pork tacos and I had the onion soup for appetizers which were both good. I took the bread out of my soup because I wasn’t all that hungry. Nothing really appealed to me for dinner so I went with the NY Strip again and he had the Steak Diane - both cooked perfectly. Dessert was the warm donuts for me which were tasty and he had the apple pie ala mode which was more like an apple tart served with ice cream on the side. We couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful Bonaire was, the water was so blue, it looked fake. We spent the rest of the night going to the different bars and enjoying the entertainers, once again ended the night at the Bull & Bear.
  16. Wednesday - Nov 20th - Curacao Did I mention I’m a beach girl? I absolutely love the beach and it’s nearly impossible to make me leave. Although I have quick access here at home in NJ, our beaches are obviously nothing like the Caribbean. With that in mind, I booked a morning beach excursion thru RC from 9:15-1:15 which allowed my beach fix, then we were free to go explore Curacao on our own. We went to the Blue Bay Resort and it was beautiful. It included chairs and a bottle of water. (I purchased it at 27 pp) Since we had the drink package we already had water with us so we skipped it and scored an awesome spot. There were some rain clouds, and it drizzled a little bit but it didn’t ruin our beach day at all. We didn’t have snorkel gear but we were able to see some fish anyway. Hubby drank the local beer and I had to have a blue drink - when in Curacao right? We also ordered a small appetizer which held us over a bit. There were some iguanas around and they were cool to watch. I noticed they had a donation box for a “cat cafe”. After inquiring about it, one of the staff members showed me they have an area where they feed the local cats (they are all vetted & fixed). I love cats, so I of course I donated and a few of them even came out for us. It definitely passed the time because our tour bus was almost half an hour late picking us up. If I had another tour scheduled I would have been a nervous wreck. I had decided that we would walk around Punda,. Can you tell Hubby has no interest in planning at all? It was amazing to finally see the Queen Emma Bridge and that famous strip of buildings in person. I took a ton of pictures. I was on a mission to go to a store called Cornerstone. Google “Skadey Cat Curacao” and you will see it. I mentioned I love cats right? The artist there Melissa paints them and we had been messaging each other back and forth on Instagram. It was such a pleasure to meet her in person. I picked out my own Skadey Cat and she wrapped it with so much care. (I'm happy to say it survived our flight home.) We stayed a while chatting and it was really nice. Hubby really enjoyed the air conditioning as well. It was really hot out that day and we walked all over Punda, with me snapping pictures on my Iphone all day long. Eventually hubby said we both needed a break, so before heading back over the bridge we stopped at the Iguana Cafe where we enjoyed a drink and the nice cool breeze. The only thing that was somewhat annoying is that I’m not used to people smoking at restaurants and the group that sat down after us had a few cigar smokers, hence only one drink. Once back over the bridge we walked up the steps to the fort and took in the views from there one last time. We weren’t really interested in any of the shops or the bars there so we took a nice leisurely walk back to the ship and showered before dinner. We had a MTD reservation in the MDR. I had the Eggplant & Olive Tartare and hubby had the Seafood vol-au-vent. After tasting mine, hubby asked for his own eggplant appetizer. He said it was much better than his. He ordered Beef Stroganoff and I originally ordered the lasagne, but after I ordered it,I regretted it so I quickly changed it to the NY Strip. It was delicious, cooked perfect for me (medium rare) and we both enjoyed it. For dessert he had the Coconut Layer Cake which he said was just okay and I had the Creme Brulee which is a favorite of mine and did not disappoint. We ended up back in the Bull and Bear. We were having a great time but we were tired from the past 2 days and with an early morning planned we were in bed by 11ish. I think I've written enough for today, I'm not sure if anyone is actually reading this, but I'll add more after Thanksgiving. **Note - I have no idea why some of my pictures are facing the wrong way. They are fine on my computer but not on this blog.
  17. Tuesday - Nov 19th - Aruba We started the day with a simple continental breakfast. I really just wanted to save us the trip of having to go out and get coffee. I ordered hubby his usual oatmeal and I had a muffin. This was one of our longest days in port and we took full advantage of it. I booked a tour with Trikes Aruba and we absolutely loved it. We were picked up at the port with another couple from the ship, we drove to a hotel to pick up a small group and we all headed over to pick up the Trikes. Once there, payments were taken, waivers were signed, we were given a simple demo, test drive and we hit the road. You do not need a motorcycle license to drive them. We drove all over the island, and it was so much fun. I can’t wait to watch my Go Pro videos. We went to the lighthouse, drank straight out of coconuts and once finished they sliced it in half so you could eat the fresh coconut. There was a pretty cool bird hanging out there as well. The next stop was the Church which was peaceful as there weren’t many people there. After that we went to the Casibari Rock Formation. We were given more time here to climb up the rock, have lunch if you wanted and shop. We opted to climb the rock. The last stop wasn’t really much but it makes a nice picture, it was in front of the Aruba sign. It was cool to drive all over the island and see the different landscapes, from the cactus plants to the beach, to the local housing areas as well as the tourist spots. Our tour guide was a really nice guy, told us some stories and a little bit about each stop. If you are looking for a full blown historical tour, this isn’t it. It was perfect for us though. After the tour was over I asked our driver if he recommended a certain taxi or had a friend that could take us to Surfside Beach. He offered to take us there himself however we didn’t bring any of our beach stuff with us so we had to go back to the ship. We went to the Windjammer to have a small lunch and each had a salad. It was surprisingly packed for a port day and we were unimpressed. We grabbed a taxi right by the ship and off we went. I’ve been to Eagle Beach once before, and although it’s beautiful, that wasn’t what we were going for this trip. We wanted smaller and local and that’s why I had decided on Surfside Beach. I had also started following 2 of their beach bars on Facebook for some time so the decision was made to hang out at Surfside Beach Bar for the rest of the afternoon. The cost for 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella was $15. There were less than a dozen people there. It was cool watching the planes land, but it wasn’t obnoxious. I think we saw maybe 2 an hour. The water was calm and we could see our ship in the distance the whole time which was kinda cool. Hubby ordered a bucket of beers, I don’t recall the price but he said it was cheap. I only had one drink as I mainly stayed in the calm waters all afternoon. Pre-cruise I had been going back and forth with returning to the ship for dinner or going to a restaurant called Barefoot Aruba which was less than a 5 minute walk on the beach from where we would be. I made a reservation for 6:15 and I’m SO GLAD I did. There was an outdoor shower at the beach bar and we freshened up in the bathrooms which was quite comical. We walked down the beach and were blown away. It was even more beautiful with the sun starting to set. My pictures don’t even do it justice. After asking our waitress if she could take our picture, she not only took them at our table, but had us stand up with the beach behind us and took even more. For appetizers we ordered Goat Cheese Medallions (served on roasted bell peppers, with red onion chutney, served with pine nuts and balsamic syrup), Prosciutto & Melon (served with arugula, pine nuts and a pepper reduction). Hubby also ordered a Greek salad. The goat cheese dish was delicious but the show stopper was the Prosciutto & Melon. I’ve mentioned I’m from NY and I’m used to getting excellent Italian food. This was BY FAR the best prosciutto I’ve ever had in my life & the sauce was to die for. We were honestly shocked, we couldn’t believe how delicious it was. We savored it to the last bite. Hubby ate about half the salad but I didn’t have any. For dinner he ordered the Snapper Amsterdam which had a crust of Old Amsterdam cheese, zucchini, breadcrumbs with a white wine sauce. I had the Caribbean Grouper which was grilled and topped with a mango cream cheese. I ordered the mango sauce on the side and I’m glad I did because I mixed it in with my rice. I didn’t think to take pics but again, it was absolutely amazing. Hubby kept saying good call, good call, I’m so glad you didn’t cancel this reservation. It was hands down one of the best meals we’ve EVER had. We both agreed this would probably ruin the rest of the dinners we were going to have on the cruise, lol. I forgot to mention I drank my usual moscato and hubby had a bourbon drink. Even though we were full we decided to end the evening splitting a classic sorbet which was served with fresh fruit and strawberry syrup. The restaurant arranged for a taxi back that was allowed to go all the way down near the ship. We grabbed a night cap at the R bar and headed to bed. The heck with Coco Cay, THIS was the perfect day ?
  18. I love shellfish, and I do enjoy the tentacles on calamari so I really thought I was going to like them. It took me a bit to actually eat it, they were very chewy and I just couldn't stop thinking that I was eating a snail so I'm sure that didn't help! I do love mushrooms - I have to make a ton of stuffed ones tonight to bring to Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow ironically!
  19. Monday - Nov 18th - At Sea I didn’t want to just sit and hang by the pool all day, I wanted to enjoy the ship. Since we had gone to bed early the night before we were up and out early for breakfast in the MDR. We took our time eating, walked all over the ship and took a bunch of pictures. I love taking pictures & I wish I had brought my camera, unfortunately all I brought was my iPhone & my son’s older Gro Pro. We went to the Guacamole class at Sabor at 11am. In hindsight we never should have eaten breakfast. My husband laughed when I told him I booked this since I make a pretty good guac if I do say so myself. All of the ingredients were on the table and measured out for us so you could adjust them to your tastes along with a nice big bowl of chips. We had to stop ourselves from eating those because of the lunch they served. We were able to order off the menu, I had the pork tacos, I don’t remember what hubby had but neither of us could finish them. Delicious! They also showed us how to make 3 different kinds of margaritas. I used to bartend for years but I still thought it was good. The margaritas were delicious and they gave each of us 2 of them. The table next to us asked for more and were given them, we had the drink package so we didn’t feel we needed to ask for more. We were so full, but then of course they brought us a dessert sampler platter. I wish I had taken pics to share. We waddled out of there with full bellies and didn’t feel like doing much of anything at that point. We decided to just walk around the promenade and check out the shops. My daughter had asked us before the cruise to see if they had the RC Teddy Bears on board - she’s a graphic designer and her & her co-workers designed them. We were happy to see them in the Logo Shop and proudly took some pics! Afterwards we headed to the Bull & Bear Pub because there was supposed to be a beer tasting. I don’t drink beer at all but the hubby does & he was disappointed that they didn’t hold the event. When we asked the waitress after the time had clearly passed & there wasn’t anything going on, we were told it didn’t look like there was much interest so they weren’t doing it. He just ordered a beer and we took it to go. I thought they could have at least went around to each table to see if others were interested. We decided to go up to the deck and relax on a lounge chair to plan what to do next. Turns out that’s all we did, it was so nice and relaxing up there we ordered some drinks and called it a day. I'm attaching a picture of how calm the sea was. It was formal night, hubby insisted on bringing a suit so we got dressed up and headed out to the MDR. He now says this is the last time he’s going through the trouble of bringing it. We sent it out to be pressed and it was back in time but he ended up not wearing it after dinner all that long. Speaking of long, the lines for pictures were very long so we decided to wait until after dinner. Dinner in the MDR was as follows: Hubby had the beef carpaccio which he thought was just okay & I had the lobster bisque which wasn’t very good. We both decided on the seafood linguine for the main course and were disappointed. The pasta was very starchy and the sauce was bland. As Italians from NY (who have been in NJ for 20 years) we weren’t expecting it to be as good as we can get at home, but it just wasn’t good. For dessert I had the Grand Marnier souffle, believe it or not that was my something new, and again I didn’t like it. I think it was more a texture thing with me because the hubby tried it and said it was very good. He went with one of his favorites, carrot cake which he said was great. We tried to get our pictures taken after dinner and the lines were even longer. We took a selfie, went back to our room to change and headed to the Marquee show which I thought was pretty good. We ended our night in the Bull and Bear Pub. Brendan was very entertaining and our waitress Nelma was such a sweet lady.
  20. I should have mentioned that I do not fly often and I need to take Xanax in order to get on the plane. It works great for me, however it leaves me pretty tired for the next 24 hours, so after dinner I pretty much passed out. The bed was comfortable and the room was very clean. The only slight complaint was that the glass door to the balcony could have been cleaned a bit better. It wasn’t dirty, it was just the salty sea air that made it a bit cloudy. The few staff members we spoke with were very nice and helpful.I thought this hotel was perfect for pre-cruise and wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again. Sunday - Nov 17th - Embarkation Day Our plan was to wake up without an alarm and just “get there when we get there”. I slept till about 10am (thanks Xanax) and we checked out of the hotel at 11am. We scheduled an Uber, again it came really quick. She told us we had about an 8 minute ride to the ship but it only took about 5, we were there super quick, no traffic. I’ve only cruised RC once before and we are only Gold but our line was really short and we were on the ship in no time. This photo was time stamped 11:30 exactly. We walked around the ship taking it all in and sat down on lounge chairs and had drinks in our hands by 12:15. We were next to a family that cruises together several times a year and it was nice to sit and chat with them a bit. I want to say the announcement that the rooms were ready was around 2pm. Unfortunately this is the only picture I took of the room, cabin # 7400. We booked a spacious ocean view and honestly I think we would have been fine with a regular ocean view. My main reason for not booking a balcony was that I wanted us to be somewhat forced to get out and enjoy the ship. Our last cruise we were upgraded to 2 bedroom suite which had a balcony that held 4 lounge chairs and a table with 4 chairs, so I was a bit worried we would really miss it - and I can honestly say we didn’t. I pretty much spent the rest of the time before muster drill unpacking and organizing everything. I drive my husband crazy because I insist on keeping outfits together but he agrees it works out better in the long run because it’s easier to get ready later on. He just let me do my thing while he listened to the info on the television. I don’t think we will ever get the Wash Your Hands song out of our heads! I brought magnetic hooks with us and they were really useful. I didn’t bring anything else to organize the room. Since it was only the 2 of us the storage in the room was just fine, if anything we had extra space which was shocking. I did bring my own hair dryer and also my own shampoo/conditioner and I’m glad I did. Once I was finished it was almost time for the Muster Drill so off we went & once it actually started it went pretty quick. We had MTD scheduled for 5:45pm and we were there around 5:30. Today’s new thing to try was Escargots, I chewed about 3 times before I just swallowed it (if I had a paper napkin I definitely would have spit that sucker right out.) It wasn’t for me. Hubby tried it for the first time as well and wasn’t impressed. He thought the butter sauce was way too oily. We both had the prime rib for dinner, it was cooked perfectly and we really enjoyed it. I had the Key Lime pie for dessert and he had the chocolate cake. Both were tasty but nothing exceptional. We roamed around a bit afterwards, ended up in the Viking Crown Lounge and I’m embarrassed to say we just about made sail away. We were fighting to stay awake. I think we were in our room by 9:30pm that night. Totally lame, I know.
  21. We decided to walk down the block and eat at a small local place called Waikiki. It was perfect for what we were looking for, we shared the Chickpeas & Chorizo Casserole for an appetizer and we each had Mofongo for dinner (that was my new thing for today & it was delicious!). We were too full for dessert so we opted to get some ice cream later on from the hotel.
  22. This was trip was to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. We booked Freedom of the Seas for the Nov. 17th sailing based mostly on ports, the ship selection was secondary. We have only sailed with RC once before and it was on Adventure about 10 years ago. We bought the Ultimate Drink Package at $47 pp plus gratuities. We did not schedule any specialty dining with the exception of a class at Sabor for a sea day. I also decided I was going to try something new at least every day, be it food, a drink, or an experience of some sort and I’m happy to say I succeeded! Saturday - Nov. 16th We flew from a very cold NJ to a nice and warm San Juan and due to a radar issue in the Caribbean we were delayed a bit. We arrived around 5pm, grabbed our luggage and once outside the airport we scheduled an Uber pick up and waited less than 5 minutes. In about 10 minutes were arrived at the Condado Plaza. Our room was paid for with points from the Hilton Honors Program but I was given the option to upgrade during our online check in. For $11 we were given an Ocean View room instead of the Bay. Our room had a balcony which although we didn’t sit outside to enjoy it, it was nice to keep the curtains open along with the door and get the fresh ocean air inside for a bit. It’s not exactly a beach resort, there is a small public beach right off the pool and that was fine for us. We enjoyed a drink at the pool and it was nice to take off our shoes and just walk in the sand a bit before dinner.
  23. I found this group about a year ago when we booked our cruise. Tomorrow morning we leave for San Juan and then we'll be on Freedom of the Seas for the 11/17 sailing. Everyone has been so helpful with all of my questions & concerns and I really appreciate it. I'm not looking forward to the flight (I do not enjoy flying at all) but I'm so excited to go on this cruise! THANK YOU!!! ?
  24. I haven't cruised in about 10 years and last time we had our kids. We booked a junior suite and were upgraded to an amazing 2 bedroom suite with an amazing balcony to match. This time I opted for a Spacious Ocean View and I know I'll miss the balcony, but it's just the 2 of us. I got the Royal Up email, but I'm too much of a control freak to give up the room I selected. I am so excited for this cruise!
  25. Thanks for the replies everyone. I was just double checking! We'll enjoy breakfast at our hotel (or nearby) and head over. We are having colder than normal temperatures here in NJ this week, I cannot wait to get there!
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