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Freedom of the Seas Jan 20th. - 7 day Southern Carribean


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Recap of Bonaire and Aruba. Part 2

With anticipation we pulled into Aruba for a 15 hour port of call.  After a room service breakfast we headed out early for a horseback riding adventure. Very efficiently we went from the Acadia theater to a van and was wisked away to a ranch on the Eastern side of the island. After a short but thorough briefing, I mounted Bacardi and 1 we hit the trail.  It was a blast going through Aruba's arid land scape with 20 foot high cactus.  We eventually made our way to the coast with us riding by the crashing surf as high as 20 feet.  Our stop was a beautiful beach before a ride back to the ranch. This was a five star excursion!

Back to the ship to eat and change and out we went on our own to find a beach. We took a taxi to Asanti beach which is way North in the hopes to get away from the tourists but even that was crowded. It was an Aruban holiday so that may have brought out a lot of local families. After a few hours in the sun we had to figure a way back to the ship. The taxi there was $29 at holiday rates so we contemplated public transportation but a small tour bus came by offering $5 rides to the cruise port so we hoped on. It was a tour in progress so we spent a relaxing 40 minutes learning about the island and going by all the local and tourist beaches.

Of all the Islands on this trip, Aruba is by far the biggest vacation spot. The hotel rooms alone dwarf the other stops by tenfold. That's good and bad depending on your preferred experience you want when you sail. 

All told it was 11 hours off the ship so we dragged ourselves into the windjammer for dinner. We are definitely MDR folk so we just treated it like that.  Bread and starters first, some conversation then the main course, then dessert. It was fun to set it up that way.

We finished the evening wearing our bathrobes to the jacuzzi and then reading in the solarium overlooking the lights of Aruba.

Honestly, we went to bed before the ship left and never heard or felt anything. 

Sea day today. Time to book our next cruise!







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Last sea day full of surprised!

Next  Cruise -  warm and windy today on deck so we eased into the day with a Windjammer breakfast and a mid morning visit to Next Cruise. We first booked our traditional January cruise on Allure to the Western Caribbean. It will be our second time on an Oasis class ship and our second back to the Western Caribbean. Then a wave of "that's a whole year away" came over us so we booked four nights to Cuba/Key West via Majesty. The ship and Cuba will both be new. Super excited!

The Art Auction - Say what? We have never stepped into that realm on the ship but with a newly Platinum award of extra raffle tickets in hand off we went. It was a learning experience but very enjoyable.  A glass of champagne, lots of action and also rather informative made it a fun two hours. Most importantly, we learned what art we liked and are coming home with two pieces.  Who knew!!

He last evening - A final MDR led to some time at Olive and Twist which took us to the last production show, Once Upon A Time.  This particular show maybe our favorite non Broadway production on the cruises we have been on. All this led to getting our luggage out with four minutes to spare before the 11pm deadline. 

We have a flight leaving at 6pm tomorrow so yesterday we booked a debarkation day excursion to the rain forest. It's a rather good deal considering we would have to pay for two Ubers and figure where to store our luggage for 10 hours!

Stay tuned for that bounus day recap. In the meantime here are some random thoughts. 

Leaving from San Juan is a weather treat! It's been between 80 and 82 for the entire 7 days. Lows around 75.  - The freestyle coke machines had no lines ever.  Maybe the cruisers were a different make up or the price increase to $10 a day has decreased demand. We stopped buying the soda package because of price. - talking soda machines, even without the chip mug, it was a great place to get water and ice fast. - This trip went fast, really fast. 




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Back to San Juan

As mentioned, we had a 6pm flight so a day ago we booked the rain Forrest tour with airport transfer. But first, one final meal at the MDR. The food was as good as ever and it was clear how much better breakfast is at the MDR. The French toast was twice as thick, soft and sprinkled with powder sugar. The omelettes were twice as fluffy and the hash browns considably better. 

After a stroll through the promonade to the star lounge for our wait to disembark. Yes there were some lines but getting the luggage and customs went smoothly. 

On to the bus for a 5 hour tour of the rain forest. As always, the tour guide makes or breaks the tour and we got a good one! Hector was informative and funny. The rain forest has rebounded well in just two years since it was heavily deforested from the hurricane. 

Our bags were at the curb as we arrived at the airport. It was a good transition day but no matter how you slice it.... We are no longer on the ship.  

Once back home I will post some final thoughts. Thanks for following along. It's a pleasure posting and I also find it a nice way to keep a journal. 






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@WAAAYTOOO After customs all 4 excursions with airport an transfer had their luggage loaded into a truck. (two San Juan tours, Bacardi factory, and the rain forest). That truck eventually was unpacked in a departure area of the  terminal that is no longer used. Two sides of the area was fenced in and there was a woman keeping watch over the bags. I do not know if she was a Royal Caribbean or excusurion employee. I assume that the bags were in the truck until shortly before the four tours arrived at the airport. 

Honestly, when pulling up to the curb we all had the same reaction of the bags just sitting there until we saw the employee there keeping an eye on them. 


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Final Thoughts

Having been now waiting in the airport for 8 hours, I feel that I have been reflecting enough for my final thoughts through my firsts. 😀 

My firsts

My first time to the ABC islands and they shined. Caruaco, Bonaire, and Aruba did not disappoint. All beautiful but different: Caruaco more urban, Bonaire small town feel and Aruba tourist and sandy. 

First time renting a car. Fun but more to think through. 

First time being Platinum.  Yes, we made sure to get the bathrobes and marvel at each other. As noted, wore them to the hot tubs at night. Yes, newbie loyal to Royal move bit who cares!

First time using a taxi and flagging down any ride back to the port. So as you see it took 5 or so cruises for us to break free of RC booked shore excursions

First time attending an art auction and buying art. Note that my intial post said we are not art auction folk... You just never know until you attend. It wound up being a highlight!

First post cruise excursion. Again, not planned and turned into a highlight. Also a good bargin cause of the transfer to the airport. 

First time booking two cruises at once. Blessed that we can do that. 

Talking about being blessed

You probably noted that I tend to use "we" in my posts.  I am blessed with the most amazing cruise partner for me and that makes these adventures that much more special. I know we have just begun to explore all the places we can go via Royal and I will look forward to every one of them!

One more

This community had really helped us plan out this trip. I know there is so much to track down for our next cruises such as Cuba, all inclusive resorts in Cozumel, etc.  I want to thank all who share their knowledge because it makes a difference! 

Next blog is Cuba in September unless a really good deal shows up 😉 YOLO




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15 minutes ago, Nay said:

We will be in Aruba end of Feb. Have booked a sunset cruise on catamaran, will have all day to go to beach. What else would you recommend to do?

Dont want to do an all day tour.


The sunset cruise sounds wonderful. As for beaches my one experience was taking a taxi to the furthest beach north of the ship trying to get away from the tourists. What happened is we ran into the local crowd on one of their holidays. I will post photos that include the name of the beach. It was beautiful but as you got away from the crowds there were some rocks to navigate to get into the ocean. A plus was you can walk to the famous light house.  

A shorter $15 taxi ride will get you to Eagle beach which has low rise hotels fronting it. It's large and sandy and looked great from the road. Just to the north of it is Palm Beach which has the high rise hotels, restaurants and nightlife on the strip. 

You may also want to post in the shore excursion area cause there is beach after beach in Aruba that all have a slightly different vibe. 

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3 hours ago, Nay said:

We will be in Aruba end of Feb. Have booked a sunset cruise on catamaran, will have all day to go to beach. What else would you recommend to do?

Dont want to do an all day tour.


We did exactly this and I have to say it was amazing!  We definitely went to the wrong beach in terms of crowds.  I know we went to eagle or palm (there was a big pier there) and it was so crowded we should have done the other.  However we got there early and had a front row spot...for an hour it was absolutely beautiful before the water was wall to wall people.  The catamaran was so much fun...I would absolutely do it again!  Jane

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This was so much fun to read! We were on the same cruise and also enjoyed the cruise immensely. I really liked reading about it from someone else's perspective. This was our first time on Freedom and we liked it a lot. The service was great and we enjoyed the entertainment as well. We missed the last production show but are getting back on Freedom in December so will catch it then. We really have no complaints for the week other than the liquid sunshine in St. Maarten! 

For anyone going to the ABC's and wanting to eat on the island....we HIGHLY recommend Perla Del Mar in Curacao for a delicious steak/seafood dinner on the water and West Deck in Aruba on the water. We did dinner at both restaurants this week and can't say enough about them. They are both about a 20 minute walk from the ship, depending on where you are docked. In Bonaire, we love going to Karel's Beach Bar about 10 mins from the ship for a beer and/or coffee over the water. I love the ABCs!! Can't wait to be back there on the NYE group cruise! ❤️ 

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  • 4 months later...

Enjoyed reading your great trip.. Will be on Freedom in a year.. Wife wanted to try a room on same deck you went on.. My question, How much movement did you feel while sleeping and enjoying the views in your room while sailing?  Thanks and sorry your Cuba trip's been changed.. hope you find the right one for you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Great job @Irieman !!! It's been a pleasure reading your live blog. We were at Freedom Of The Seas in 2017 and we loved her. Wonderful ship with a lot of excellent professional workers. It was a great time and when I have seen your images I have remembered the amazing moments lived aboard.

Keep doing it in your next cruises!!!

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  • 2 weeks later...

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