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“Into the Unknown” … Independence OTS (Holiday sailing) – 12/29/2018-1/3/2019

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“Into the Unknown” … Independence OTS (Holiday sailing) – 12/29/2018-1/3/2019

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Let me start by explaining this quote.  Stepping outside my comfort zone…this is the theme surrounding this cruise…

The Backstory

One evening, near the end of September, Hubby, the girls, and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating a bland dinner.  Tired and weary from lack of sleep, and the usual craziness of September (I’m a teacher), we looked at each other in silence.  Out of nowhere, Hubby tells us that he really wished we were eating at La Bamba, our favourite pre-cruise restaurant in Fort Lauderdale.  To the cruise junkie in me, that only meant one thing…YOLO moment! 

I half jokingly mentioned to him that we could eat there sooner if we went on a cruise out of Port Everglades.  Wait a minute…we are cruising out of Port Everglades…in March 2019!  That 6-month wait from Sept-March seemed almost unbearable at the time, so I gently proposed the idea of taking a cruise on my next available break, which is New Years.  We tossed around the idea of a short sailing over the holidays and it just so happen that Indy fit the bill.  Never sailed her before, so good for Hubby.  Kids loved the newly amped Mariner, so Indy should be similar.  And for myself, I’ll take any cruise, so Indy looked great!

Still not totally serious yet, I sent a quick email to my TA “just to price it out”.  First shocker…expensive!  Second shocker…. Suites…Sold Out.  I have never paid attention to holiday sailings in the past so this was new to me.  I have never priced out a cruise so close to sailing either.  We are usually the “book when itineraries get released” type.  Our choices for cabins (for 2 adults; 2 kids) were:  Interior, Oceanview, Balcony, no connecting rooms available. 

At that point, I told Hubby, “forget it”.  I even polled the Insiders and asked if they would cram 4 people in one of those cabins.  The suite snob in me was cringing at the thought, the kids were saying book it, and Hubby looked on in half amusement and half in fear for his bank account.  I tried to explain to them what sailing in one of those cabins would mean…one small washroom for all 4 of us, you can likely reach the sink while sitting on the toilet, telephone booth shower, must share a bed, small space.  All outside of our (my) comfort zone!

Here is where things took a surprising turn…Hubby was the one who said YOLO, we should book it.  Wait? What?! 

Those of you reading this who are rolling your eyes at this point should probably stop reading and stop following this blog.  It’s about to get worse.  Those of you who know me well and are not taking my slightly sarcastic, embrace the suite snob tone too seriously, or are curious or are amused, read on. 

Here was Hubby’s rationale for booking it: 

a)  We have never done a holiday sailing or sailed Freedom class.  Hubby is all for doing things that are new.

b)  He could tell that we, me especially, needed a getaway sooner rather than later.  If you read my previous blog, I mentioned that I am “Blessed by God and Spoiled by my Husband”.  This still holds true.

c)  The most ridiculous and logical reason…we are sailing Star Class on Harmony in 74 days.  Our kids have never sailed without a balcony in anything less than 300 square feet with at least 1 ½ bath.  It was time to “rough it” and “teach them a lesson” so that they could appreciate Star Class more when March rolls around.  I’m still laughing at this one!

d)  The most important (according to Hubby) and comical reason (according to me), and the reason for the quote choice above: It has been so long since we have sailed in a regular cabin.  Hubby hopes that we (he means me) might like it and we will no longer need to book suites in the future.  In turn, that will save him money.  If this is what Hubby needs to say, “YOLO and Book It!”, then so be it.

So, with that, we said YOLO, and booked ourselves on Indy for New Years.  In what?  Read on.

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Who’s Going?

The usual crew:  Hubby, our 2 girls, D10, D12, and myself.

Flight

Our plan is to fly from DTW to FLL the day before.  We booked through Air2Sea this time as it was about $140 cheaper (total) to do so.  In the end, I don’t think I will use Air2Sea again unless it is for a cruise outside of North America or unless I don’t plan on ever upgrading.  More on why later.

Pre-Cruise Stay

Once again, La Bamba dictates where we stay, so it’s back on 17th Street again.  Our usual, with kids, is Hyatt Place Convention Center but since we booked so late and it’s a holiday, that property was already sold out!  We grabbed a room at the Holiday Inn Express on 17th Street (red flag…2 star…out of comfort zone again) and the only thing that was left was a King bed room with a sofa bed.  We figured we’re already “roughing it” for the cruise so might as well “rough it” for the hotel as well.  This hotel recently underwent major renovations and a new addition was added to the hotel.  To our surprise, the week of Black Friday, they opened bookings for the new section, which included suites, and we were able to grab a suite for more space and more beds and at a lower price than we initially booked for.  Win-win.  Love those scenarios.  The suite snob in me was now a little less tense.  Fast forward to a week ago, I called to confirm my reservation, only to be told that while we still have a room, the suite section is not yet ready.  So back to roughing it.  They confirmed that I have at least 2 beds and they can throw in a cot.  Oh well, I am so desperate for a getaway at this point to really care.

Itinerary

This 5-night sailing brings us to Labadee, Haiti and Falmouth, Jamaica.  The ship is the destination for us, so we are likely staying on board the entire time.  We might take a walk around Labadee since D10 loves the beach, but we are also visiting these exact ports again in March so not too worried that we will miss much.

Cabin

We are booked in…gasp…an Oceanview cabin!  Booking this cruise 3 months out left us with little selection and crazy high prices.  Just to give you an idea how high, we booked Indy for next NYE too and the cost we are paying for our Panoramic suite (VP-full suite benefits) next year, is less than the cost of this year’s Oceanview.  Lesson learned here…. book early for holiday sailings.  Another thing I learned about holiday sailings is that the usual price drop after final payment doesn’t happen.  I’ve tracked the price on this sailing right up until this week and it has done nothing but increase over time, even after final payment.  Cabins also didn’t open after final payment either, meaning people are not changing their minds about their holiday sailings.  So, the wise @twangster and fellow Insiders were correct again, holiday sailings are an anomaly.

Pre-Cruise thoughts

-          This is our first time without a balcony since 2003!  The suite snob in me still has not come to terms with that.

 

-          This is our first time sailing Freedom class.  I have heard so many good things about this class of ship from so many of you that I am very excited to check it out for myself.

 

-          We are #TeamNoDrinkPackage on this one because we have kids with us, and because this is our first cruise as Diamond members with Diamond benefits.  We will see how this works out.

 

-          We have purchased our usual VOOM 2 Device plan again.

 

-          Dining mainly in the MDR again.  I did not love it on Mariner but for a short sailing it will be fine.  Anything is better cooking on my own.  We are trying Giovanni’s for one night.

 

-          This is our first time sailing over the holidays.  I’ve always been hesitant to travel over the holidays for various reasons so I’m outside my comfort zone on this one too. 

 

-          Once again, in the spirit of a live blog, please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  I will do my best to find out whatever I can for you.

 

-          When responding to a post with a series of pictures, please do not include the pictures in your reply.  It just makes for easier scrolling.

 

-          Lastly, I will do my best to bring the cruise to you LIVE through Periscope – you can follow me @LoveToCruise2002.

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42 minutes ago, Sweety said:

I Love Indy. Have an awesome time.

Thanks.  We are really looking forward to it.

15 minutes ago, Twangster Fan said:

@Lovetocruise2002 Have A Great Trip.  

Thanks!

8 minutes ago, Baked Alaska said:

Have fun! Will be following along. I will be interested in your adjustment to the non-suite life. 

Lol...I predict some bumps along the way...

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2 hours ago, ellcee said:

YAYYY!!!! Can't wait to read!

Thanks for following along again @ellcee😊

29 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Have fun "roughing it", @Lovetocruise2002! I'd take 5 days of that over work any time!

Exactly! That’s why we said YOLO!  And I may have a few tricks up my sleeve for “roughing it”. Stay tuned 😉

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@Lovetocruise2002 have an amazing trip!!! I loved freedom class, but haven't been on Oasis class yet (March here I come!).  I think the break will be awesome and you will go back to school in much better shape.  I just keep telling myself.... Spring break... Spring break... Spring break!  Anyway, can't wait to enjoy your trip with you!  Thanks for blogging!  Jane

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Have fun , Do not worry about the cabin , the main goal in a cruise is to be out of the cabin most of the times and enjoy the activities. with the one small bathroom issue  , first you get used to this small shower very fast, second , its always possible to spread the shower time and if needed , and if needed there are showers in the gym 🙂 

Wish you enjoyable cruise and happy new year. 

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7 hours ago, hisfuzziness said:

Just noticed this thread, my family of 4 will also be on this sailing, flying in 1 day early as well.  No internet onboard (big reason for cruising for me), so will catch up on the scopes afterwards.  

Have a great sailing as well!

7 hours ago, mom2mybugs said:

@Lovetocruise2002 have an amazing trip!!! I loved freedom class, but haven't been on Oasis class yet (March here I come!).  I think the break will be awesome and you will go back to school in much better shape.  I just keep telling myself.... Spring break... Spring break... Spring break!  Anyway, can't wait to enjoy your trip with you!  Thanks for blogging!  Jane

Thanks for following Jane!  As always, I blog as a way to give back.  I’ve enjoyed following other blogs and it’s a great interactive way to learn from each other.

6 hours ago, Sweety said:

I live in Chicago and going on a cruise in NJ soon.

We did that last March on Anthem. It was cold then lol.

5 hours ago, Auto said:

Have a great trip!

 

And although my wife doesn't know it, she hates you for inspiring my YOLO-book-it Christmas present to her and her sisters (but secretly loves you for it, too) 😂

Haha! That sounds like Hubby. He complains but then he loves the opportunity to get away once we are there. And tell your wife @Matt is responsible for “YOLO Book It” 😜

2 hours ago, Traveler said:

Have fun , Do not worry about the cabin , the main goal in a cruise is to be out of the cabin most of the times and enjoy the activities. with the one small bathroom issue  , first you get used to this small shower very fast, second , its always possible to spread the shower time and if needed , and if needed there are showers in gym.

Thank you for your words of encouragement @Traveler. I think we will avoid the gym showers though. It reminds me of a recent thread I read elsewhere where some allegedly not so nice things happened 😳 and I am a germaphobe 😆

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14 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

 

The Backstory

One evening, near the end of September, Hubby, the girls, and I were sitting at the kitchen table eating a bland dinner. 

 

WAIT...WHAT!!!  There's no need to fear...spice it up with 

24269_XXX_v1.jpg

While you're on your next port stop in Jamaica!! 😁

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1 hour ago, Mindybrite said:

I love following your blogs because we think alike!  My “hubby” said the other day to book the Mariner or Indy  for this weekend - I would have booked anyhing - but you are correct no one cancels holiday sailings.😢😢 Have a great time ! 

Thanks for following along @Mindybrite.  Insiders are all like minded.  That's what brings us all together 😉 Not sure if that is good or bad lol

1 hour ago, mworkman said:

WAIT...WHAT!!!  There's no need to fear...spice it up with 

While you're on your next port stop in Jamaica!! 😁

Truth be told, we eat bland on purpose at home.  We don't add salt to anything.  Trying to stay healthy.  When we're on vacation, there are no rules!

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