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Everything posted by IRMO12HD

  1. Ok, so maybe this will be a semi-Live Blog, at least for the first two days until I get the hang of it! First, some details about my Cruise Day morning: Part 1 — The Arrival and the Walk I got on the first shuttle — we left at 9:10 (about — after loading 8+ people and their luggage. I was the only one going to Terminal A, which happens to be the first stop, as the route cars/busses have to follow is a one-way loop. Got to the Terminal about 9:30 a.m. Found a porter right away (the folks in the white hats standing near the yellow carts to the right side of the terminal entrance). Turned my suitcase over to them and watched it go onto the cart — Mission 1 complete! Asked where the Key line would be, and was told it would be to the left of the Entrance doors. Happy Note #1: There are public restrooms available! To the left of the Entrance doors. Hooray! I can drink water on my walk! Having relinquished my suitcase to the (hopefully) tender mercies of the porters, I decided to go for a walk and get some pre-cruise steps in (plus, I was early!).
  2. My first time uploading pictures, so please excuse the lack of formatting. #1 Comfort Inn from the bus stop #2. Room 801 (802 and 803 are right next door and would have the same views, I believe). It was a nice room, right around the corner from the elevator and right next to the emergency exit stairs. Rate was $87+ tax; total was about $100. Pretty reasonable, especially given the free shuttle services and the breakfast — standard Comfort Inn fare, but had hot scrambled eggs and sausage, muffins, yogurt (including Chobani!), cereal, toast, and fresh fruit. #3. Adobo Pork Sandwich with Fries from Airport Liquors and Cafe ($14) #4. View from Room 801
  3. C-0! It’s Cruise Day! I made it to Miami yesterday right on time — about 10:45 a.m. While my suitcase was not the LAST one off the plane, it was also not in the first 40! Some MIA (Miami International Airport) tips: 1. If you’re catching a Hotel Shuttle, look for and trust the “hotel shuttle” signs in the baggage area. They know where you’re supposed to go even if you don’t! The hotel shuttle stop is across the first lane of traffic, and kind of hidden. 2. It’s a bit of a longish walk from the far gate — if you’re following a 7’0” tall person, do not necessarily try to keep pace with them! On the other hand, I did get to the Baggage Claim area really quickly I stayed at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Mokena Drive; it’s not the most exclusive area, but the shuttle worked out well, and I felt perfectly safe as a solo traveler. The desk staff was very helpful; I was all set to leave my suitcase with them and go exploring until my 3:00 check in time. Fortunately, when they asked me if I cared if I had one bed or two in the room, I replied that one was fine — and they gave me my room right away! I had a great room on the 8th floor (801) looking west so I could watch planes taking off, but the soundproofing works really well and there was little noise. I did use public transportation (bus) to go into town to a Target to get a replacement “bite valve” for my water bottle; it managed to fall off somewhere between my arrival and departure gates in Atlanta. Made my 9,000 steps goal for the day! Red-Eye Flight tip: find your afternoon/evening meal early (I recommend the Airport Liquor Store and Cafe on 36th Street — had an awesome pork sandwich with adobo chiles and French fries) and be prepared to go to bed early — I made it until 8:30 pm and that was it — lights out until 5:30 this morning! I decided to catch the early (9:00 a.m.) shuttle to the Cruise Port (another nice thing about Comfort Inn & Suites — they offer a free shuttle TO the Cruise Port). I know, I know, “don’t get there too early, you’ll just have to wait.” I don’t mind waiting, though — I’ll find a porter and get rid of my suitcase pronto, and then go find a spot to sit and read. I guess my only concern is whether there are any restroom facilities available to people waiting outside, but can always ration my water intake if there aren’t. I do have The Key, so my latest instructions from RCL were to make sure I am at the Terminal around 11:00; my arrival time on my Set Sail Pass is already 11:30, so either way I’ll have about a 2 hour wait. I don’t have the DBP on this first half of my S2S, so I’ll probably have one Sailaway drink — hmm, decisions, decisions! All for now; I’ll post more once I get on Freedom — solo!
  4. C-4 (Happy Thanksgiving!) I am a planner – to me, that’s ¼ - ½ the fun of a trip, so I began my travel and accommodation arrangements pretty early. Booked a RT flight on Delta with FF miles, and booked two different hotels for my pre-cruise stay. Both hotels were free cancellation, and I just pulled the plug on one of them. My choices were: Intercontinental Miami – Bay View Comfort Inn & Suites Miami Airport Can you guess which one I’m going to cancel? Hint: check out my caveats and the things I said I wanted to try. Now that I’m less than a week away, I also set up my Plans A, B, and C for COVID-19 Testing. Plan A: local drive through test at my local Walgreens the morning of my day of departure (November 27); Plan B: drive through test at a Walgreens 1 mile away from my pre-cruise hotel (although I may have to get an Uber to meet the Drive-Through requirement – I’m also thinking about finding a rent-a-scooter, in the hopes that the requirement is just for a "motorized vehicle." I wonder if a bicycle would count)? I've checked into using CVS, but don't really have a warm and fuzzy feeling about using the CVS Minute Clinics as I don’t understand how they work; Plan use one of my two RCL-sanctioned, Navica-supervised Binax AG Card tests. Since my flight(s) will include a red-eye, and I’ll arrive in the morning of the 28th, I’m going to spend the day exploring the city, to include the best routes and transportation options for the second part of my S2S. I’ve picked out a couple of possibilities for take-out dinner that I can bring back to the hotel room, and will plan for a pretty early night to make up for the sleep I didn’t get on the red-eye. Today is also packing day! I’m packing for two weeks, due to the S2S, but plan on doing a load of laundry on the intervening two days between ships. If I can’t get tested on the last day (disembarkation day) of the first cruise, then I’ll set up back-up testing plans for one of the two intervening days as well. Did you guess the Intercontinental? Nope! At $160 more than I'll be paying for the Comfort Inn and Suites, I just couldn't justify it (told you I was frugal!). Well, cost was part of it -- the other part is that the Comfort Inn & Suites has a free airport shuttle, AND a free shuttle TO the cruise port. I'll let you know how that does (or doesn't!) work out.
  5. You are so awesome, @PG Cruiser! Thanks again!
  6. Thank you so very much! Happy Thanksgiving -- hope your birthday was wonderful as well
  7. C-6 (Cruise minus 6 days) First, the obligatory background. I was first bitten by the cruise bug in 2013, when my husband and I joined about 1500 bikers on the High Seas Rally – a charity-driven biker cruise (well, we shared Freedom OTS with about 2000 other non-biker guests). The charity (and purpose) of the cruise was to raise money for kidney dialysis – and provide an opportunity for about 15 dialysis patients to experience cruising (and for many, their first vacation) while receiving dialysis on board – and completely free of charge! It was an amazing experience -- and the bite sank deep! Fast forward to April 1, 2019, when we were supposed to embark on our first Transatlantic on Oasis of the Seas – when (no fooling!) a crane fell on Oasis, shattering her aft and our aspirations of being on a megaship. Two years later, I made this new reservation on my first cruise ship – Freedom of the Seas! Cruise data: I first reserved this cruise through my TA in April 2021, because it fit in well with my goal of accomplishing a B2B or S2S this year. It has always been a solo cruise, and I made a concerted effort (with my TA) to search out price reductions through the months after the initial reservation. At his urging, I reserved an Interior cabin on the 8th deck, right around the “corner” from Central Park. In the end, I saved about $300 on my original booking by going to a non-refundable deposit; cost per night is about $82.00. Ship: Freedom of the Seas Cabin Type: Interior (8th Deck Forward) Cruise Length: 4 Nights Cruise Itinerary: Miami – At Sea – Nassau – PDCC – Miami Cruise Planner Purchases: The Key, Casino Lesson, Nassau Snorkeling, PDCC Beach Club Sooo. . . some caveats. I am unabashedly low maintenance. I don’t do makeup or hairstyling, and am most comfortable and relaxed in casual clothes. I drink water from the tap (have even drank water from a garden hose and lived to tell the tale – although I DON’T drink irrigation water (yech!), and always carry my water bottle empty through the TSA checkpoint and fill it up right away at the first water bottle filling station I can find. Therefore, I won’t be grabbing (or griping at the lack of) bottles of water onboard the ship. I also don’t get straws – maybe for slushies/Slurpees/smoothies, but for other drinks – not a chance. I do understand how the feeling of a paper straw decomposing between one’s lips is gross, and so may bring one or two plastic ones – or just drink my slushie/smoothie really fast. Since I don't have the DBP on this sailing, I will be picking and choosing my beverages with care; I am, as my DH is eager to point out, "frugal." Well, he says it a different way, but the point is the same! The reason I titled this blog “Simply Solo Freedom) is because this is what it is and what I am. As part of my milestone birthday this year, I wanted to: a) go on at least one cruise, b) cruise on a ship class I hadn’t been on before, c) stay in a cabin type I haven’t been in before, and d) try a solo cruise (my husband is not as fond of cruising as I am, and was very supportive of my trying it on my own). Since I couldn’t see just going on a 4-Night and calling it good after a 2500 mile flight, I added a fifth goal – try either a side-to-side or back-to-back series of cruises. The result: a solo cruise on Freedom, and following that, a cruise on Oasis – originally solo but my daughter said she’d like to try cruising. So this particular cruise is a simple solo cruise – with a few firsts in terms of things I’m trying (The Key, Casino lesson, Coco Beach Club) and a few goals for myself: maintain a live blog, figure out how to navigate Miami using public transportation, and enjoy the ship! What I will include in the blog: timelines and experiences; answers to the questions I’ve posed on different forums in the past; pictures of my interior cabin and its pros and cons; and experiences with the RoyalUp program, having put in two (minimum or near-minimum) bids for upgrades. Although this is a solo cruise. I hope you’ll enjoy the experience with me!
  8. @wordell1or @PG Cruiseror anyone else on Oasis for this cruise . . . Could you please post pictures of the Day 1 and Day 2 Cruise Compasses? Pretty Please? With whipped cream and a cherry on top?
  9. 2nd Question about Walgreens testing in Florida -- is it possible to walk through the Drive Through and get tested, or do you have to be in a vehicle?
  10. I would keep checking it. I was trying to purchase a second 3-Night Dining Package for my daughter, and it didn't show up for several weeks -- then one day (and just for one day!) it reappeared and I purchased it.
  11. An update of sorts . . . We're still working on replacing the CDC vaccination card through our local County Health Department, and we're hopeful that that will work out. In the meantime, I uploaded her Vaccination Report from her doctor's office in Check In (I had previously uploaded the WA Certificate) -- and after about three days, that now shows up as verified with the happy green checkmark! I'm hopeful that between the picture of her old vaccination card, the WA Certificate of Vaccination, and the Vaccination Report, she'll be fine. However, we'll continue to pursue the card replacement route as well.
  12. How bad were the delays? "Unplanned" sounds ominous . . .
  13. If you have a package (like Chops +1 or 3-Night), I believe that RCL will set your first reservation (which, I understand, you can change once you're onboard and find out when/where it is), and that you make the other reservation(s) once you're onboard. I don't know how that fits into the "minimum" message you received, unless it's simply "wait until you get aboard to make the other reservations" stated in "Royalese." If you're trying to book a package, maybe there aren't enough left for your entire party to purchase them?
  14. I'll be testing this out in 9 days on Freedom, and will report back! According to the (one!) RCL Rep I spoke to, the 25% discount will apply to already discounted specialty dining purchased onboard. We'll see
  15. So two days before sailing, right?
  16. I'm looking forward to your live blog, @spiralqueen! My daughter and I will be on your same itinerary, two weeks later (December 5), albeit in an interior room on the 8th Deck (but just around the corner from Central Park, so we can pretend we're in an NYC apartment ). If you have the time, could you possibly take a picture of the Entertainment schedule and post it? I'm trying to figure out which shows are when, and they don't show up on the app. Thanks in advance, and have a fantastic time!
  17. @AHollyS, @Ampurp85is correct; that's what my The Key email specifies. That said, when I asked an RCL Rep if the 25% discount would apply to already discounted prices onboard (like when they have a "special price" offer, he indicated that it would. I'll be able to report back in about 11 days!
  18. Good point! I didn't even think of checking Cruise Mapper to verify it -- smart move Thanks!
  19. @D AltI'm following this with interest as I'll be on Freedom in 11 days -- solo! I've never sailed out of Miami before; how did you know you were sailing out of Terminal G? I've checked my eDocs and my SetSail Pass, and can't see any indication of where Freedom will be. I'm assuming (hoping??) it's Terminal A -- but maybe not?
  20. Yup, that's what happened to me! #FingersCrossed! You're welcome
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