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Now that it is officially single digits until sail away, I figure it is not unreasonable for me to get this live blog started! (though I AM endlessly amused by the people who have recently started their posts far in advance of their sailings. *cough @StayFrosty @Lovetocruise2002 @Matt cough*) I will be transparent in that, since this is my first live blog, I can't guarantee I will be able to stay on top of it the way I might like, but I will be doing my level best to share with all of you for multiple reasons. First and foremost, I have gotten so much out of other's live blogs and genuinely want to give back to this community in any way I might be able to. But it isn't ALL altruistic. I think, if I'm able to stay on top of a live blog, it will make a great memory in a bottle of my trip to allow me to revisit wistfully on extra stressful days. I think I will start with a bit of background organized in a format that I'm shamelessly stealing from one of @Lovetocruise2002's blogs. Pre-cruise report: Sailing: May 12-19, 2019, Allure of the Seas, 7 Night Eastern Caribbean cruise Sailing with: Me (32), and my parents (not my age to tell) Flying from: PHL to FLL on Southwest and returning on American (boo baggage fees, yay nonstop flights at reasonable times) Pre-cruise hotel: Ended up with Holiday Inn Express Ft. Lauderdale Cruise-Airport (the one on 17th Street) We cycled through many different hotels before we ended up with this one. Like the sane person I am, I would check on hotel prices about once every 2 weeks starting 8 months in advance and if I saw a great price at a hotel that looked convenient or interesting I booked it just to guarantee the price. At one point I had 4 hotels booked at the same time. You may be starting to get the impression that I take as much enjoyment from planning my vacation as actually taking it. You would be correct. And thank you kindly for enabling that! Other hotels that were considered and discarded: Drift Hotel - liked that it was close to the beach, disliked that it didn't seem to have as many amenities as other hotels, such as having someone there to hold our luggage if we got there far before check-in. Holiday Inn Express & Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport/Cruise - liked that it had 2 queen beds (not doubles) for a good price. Disliked that it didn't seem very walkable Hampton Inn Ft. Lauderdale Airport North Cruise Port - this was the #1 hotel until the price recently came down for the Holiday Inn on 17th Street. I liked that it had the normal things like a free airport shuttle, concierge, pool, but it also was across a smaller side street from a shopping center that has restaurants, a Big Lot & a liquor store where my dad could grab some wine. But you just can't beat the convenience (from what I hear) of hotels in that 17th Street strip so while this hotel was walkable...the Holiday Inn Express won out. The itinerary is as follows: Day 1 – Fort Lauderdale Day 2 and 3 – At Sea Day 4 – Basseterre, St. Kitt's Day 5 – Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas San Juan, PR Day 6 – At Sea Day 7 – Nassau, Bahamas Day 8 – Fort Lauderdale We have booked a third party excursion on St. Kitt's through Thenford Grey. I've heard good things about him on here and elsewhere so I'm excited for this tour. We were originally slated for St. Thomas as a stop, but as many of you have probably already seen, Allure is having some propulsion issues and we will now be stopping in San Juan. There are many people in my sailing's FB group who are devastated by this news. While I respect that reaction, I don't want to start letting negativity seep into my vacation before it has even started. So goodbye trip to Secret Sands beach we had through Royal and hello to last minute research into self guided walking tours through San Juan. I'm actually legit excited about this change as I would prefer getting to know the history and culture of a place than simply laying around on the beach all day. And that FOOD. So time to dust off my super rusty 14 year old spanish lessons and go with the flow. WEPA! And for Nassau, we have been before and my parents have no desire to get off the off again. With a ship like Allure to explore and relax on instead, I will not be arguing with that. Cabin: We have a hump balcony Junior Suite on the 8th floor. Very much looking forward to "having" to walk through Central Park to get back to the room. ~*~WOE~*~ Pre-purchases: Besides the excursions which I covered above, we will be trying out The Key (I see it as a great little upgrade to Sea Class) and my mother and I have the refreshment package. I’ve been sober coming up on 2 years now and I love that the refreshment package lets me get mocktails and interesting non-alcoholic drinks so I never feel like I’m missing out, feel out of place around a bar, or have the temptation to grab that tasty looking boozey beverage. Since my mom doesn’t drink either, my dad then gets the 2 bottle of wine allotment to himself and will supplement that with the occasional beer here and there. Nowhere enough to warrant a drink package for himself. The last time we were on a cruise, he would decant half of his bottle of wine into an empty (clear) water bottle from the room. The moment he proceeded to do this with his bottle of red as well was the moment I was mentally buying him a portable wine tumbler for this trip. None of the crew members said anything, but seeing him walk into the MDR with a clear water bottle full of dark red wine was not our proudest hour. Though if you asked him, he would quip that Jesus paid him a visit and turned that water into wine. *facepalm* Random Pre-cruise thoughts: I am going to take as many pictures as I can remember to, though it’s not ingrained. Please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like me to check out or take pictures of for you. I am open to requests. I will make sure to detail how easy or difficult it was for me to get reservations in Coastal Kitchen as a Junior Suite. That is something that seems to have very mixed results so I’m curious how it will work out. Ideally we would have reservations there every night except for the night we have Giovanni’s reserved. If all goes according to plan, I shall be running a completely unofficial and entirely arbitrary “Allure’s Best Steak” competition since I plan to have steak in Chops (Key lunch), Coastal Kitchen, Giovanni’s, and the MDR (Key breakfast). I will be sure to let you know my thoughts. I will also make sure to note how I am liking the Key since that’s such a new feature and it seems to vary wildly from ship to ship. I have reached the point in trip antsyness where I’m overthinking my packing and buying unnecessary things from Amazon to help. Because buying a toiletry bag is the most important thing in the world right now! I promise future posts will have more pictures!
Today marks 25 day until we set sail! Traveling with my wife and daughters (10 & 14), my mom & dad, my wife's mom & dad, and my bother & sister in laws with their son (21). We are driving in from Indianapolis. We are leaving here on Friday March 15th. We plan to be in Ft Lauderdale early enough to watch the ships leaving port on Saturday from the beach. We did this on our last cruise and it was a lot of fun. The rest of our family are flying in later Saturday night. Some highlights of our plans; We have booked the Guacamole class at Sabor for day 2. We have my father in law booked to take the behind the scenes ship tour on day 3. We also have booked Escape The Rubicon for day 6. We have also booked the Bottomless Brunch and Galley Tour on day 7.We have also made reservations for all our onboard entertainment. In St. Maarten we have booked the famous Leo Brown as our driver for the day. We have a couple places we know we want to see like Maho to watch the planes land but, for the most part we want Leo to show us the must sees! San Juan we have booked Old San Juan Food Tour. By Flavors of San Juan. We are very much looking forward to this. On our last cruise we did a culinary tour in Falmouth that was amazing so we are hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Everything I have read about this tour makes me think we are in for a treat (or 5 or 6). Our plan for Labadee is to get off the ship early, enjoy a few Labadoozys, a little shopping and then get back on the ship for lunch and to enjoy the ship with fewer people on board.
Title says it all. I'm on the Harmony in pretty much 2 sleeps. My first time in a Star Class suite. I'll do my best to take pictures of the daily literature they drop off. If you have any questions, let me know..I'll do my best to check in daily.After that, I'll compile a lengthy review.
So I'm 290 days out from my Eastern Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas, and I see that the beverage packages are now available for me to buy on the Cruise Planner. Since I just missed the last Sip and Stream offering, and I've got so much time before embarkation day, I'm gong to bide my time and keep an eye out for either a 20-30% off sale or another Sip and Stream offer. Maybe around 4th of July week? This is kind of nuts, I'm still a little over 9 months away from my trip! At the rate things are coming up on the Cruise Planner, I'll have all of our excursions, drink packages, and internet booked and paid off at least six months ahead of time. At that point I'll just be making the monthly cruise fare payments until final payment in December.