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A 25 Year Odyssey (November 15, 2021)


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After reading many wonderful cruise blogs on this site, I decided to be a follower and write my own. With me being too excited about this vacation, I need more people to talk about it. So, let’s go!

Parties Involved: My best friend, Kiesha & I (Ashley Joy)

Ship: Odyssey of the Seas

Cabin: Virtual Balcony

Dates: Monday, November 15 - Saturday, November 20

Ports: CocoCay & Labadee (at least, it is still on the itinerary)

Reason: Celebrating 25 years of friendship, but do you really need a reason to cruise?!

Cruise History: Kiesha did a Royal Caribbean cruise about a decade ago in a Balcony I went on a Symphony in April 2019 in a Virtual Balcony, which works with my irrational fear of heights and losing objects overboard. It was my only cruise to date, but I left addicted!!!!!

Backstory: This trip has been a long time coming. I would always say, “Kiesha, we hardly ever vacation together.” When we met our freshman year of college, we used to take trips all the time. As real adults, we have gone on a couple of long weekend adventures.

This past June, I had just returned from vacation and was needing another vacation (why is it always like that?!) so, I was researching the Royal Caribbean website. Luck would have it, I found a:
✅ great cruise itinerary
✅ set of dates that would work
✅ decent price
✅ new ship
✅ my favorite type of cabin

I asked Kiesha to join me. She only had one question, “is it Royal Caribbean?” I said, “is there any other cruise line?” The next day I reached out to Caroline at MEI.

Now, we only have 50 days to go! I told you I am too excited to not have anyone to regularly talk about this trip. 🙂

To keep things interesting, my doctor and I decided this a great time to have surgery. In about ten days, it will be operation day. The cruise will be six weeks into a seven week recovery plan. I am thankful that my doctor believes my only underlying issue will be tiredness.

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I got great news from my TA today! The cabin’s fare has dropped over $500 since the June booking. We are getting it refunded to our original method of payment. No OBC to try to spend. We already had $450. With almost $1,000, we would have had to get a dining package. I am not sure my pants would be able to sustain that!

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On 9/29/2021 at 9:43 AM, jbmakingmemories said:

My wife and I will also be on this sailing. It's her first ever cruise and my first on RC! To say we're excited would be an understatement.

Thanks so much for doing the live blog! It's something I would really struggle with doing in the middle of my trip.

Hopefully, I will see you onboard! 🚢🎉

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Originally, we checked in on August 17 by submitting our pre-cruise documents. On September 7, the port check-in times opened. I got us a noon time slot. We were then “unchecked-in”. Yesterday was our second check-in date. We did not have to do anything. All of our information was still in the system. The check-in time is still noon. Woot!

Due to COVID restrictions, I have to do a pre-surgery quarantine on Monday and Tuesday. That means yesterday was also my last day in the office until after the cruise and US Thanksgiving.

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Pre-Cruise Planning

Travel: We are flying from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, November 14.

Drinks: Kiesha has the Refreshment Package. I have the Soda Package. We are allocating for a few cocktails during the cruise.

Dining: No package, because I NEED to be able to fit into my pants! We are going to utilize all of the pre-paid options with maybe one specialty dining adventure. Kiesha eats almost everything. I have been a vegetarian for over 15 years. I am excited to try out the vegan offerings in the MDR.

Internet: We both have Surf & Stream.

Excursions & Activities: With my surgery recovery, I will not be able to do really strenuous activities. At port, we are going to do beach/pool days. On the ship, I will assess things daily.

In June, I did the Pearl Harbor VR experience in Hawaii. It was amazing! Since then, I have been searching for more virtual opportunities, especially those in a non-somber environment. Zone Zero is a MUST DO!

Overall, I am excited to have this great location to continue my recovery and have some QT with Kiesha!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today is officially 30 days to go!


Since my last update, I:
✅ ordered & received my proctored COVID tests
✅ used some OBC for Teppanyaki dinner reservation
✅ uploaded my vaccination card images to the app
✅ had a successful surgery
✅ spent my first week of recovery joining live streams of my favorite YouTube cruisers, unless it interferes with nap time 😴 
✅ had cruise document become available, including luggage tags
❓ still deciding if I want to order custom shirts and magnets for us to wear and decorate our door

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6 hours ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

Wow.  You whizzed right by that whole surgery thing !

So glad to hear that it went well and you are recovering comfortably.  That will make the cruise that much more special !

Thank you! The cruise has been a nice distraction from the surgery and recovery.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/17/2021 at 10:56 PM, Ampurp85 said:

I am glad your surgery went well

I got magnets and matching shirts for my cruise. I know its cheesy but I like custom and/or matching shirts for vacations.

Thank you! I opted to not get the magnets and shirts. Kiesha and I will just have to do another vacation to experience the matchy matchy! 😂

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  • 2 weeks later...
5 hours ago, wannabecruiseexpert said:

I was just thinking about this blog and hoping recovery is going great!

😄 Recovery is overall going well! I am just quite dizzy, which I believe is a side effect of the anesthesia. Unfortunately, this is NOT the side effect you want to have when you are about to get on a ship. 🥴

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I cannot believe it is only five days to go! I can confirm the scientific theory that the days before a cruise are the absolute longest days EEEEEEVVVVVEEEEERRRRR!

Today, I received a double dose of cruise updates:
1. Earlier embarkation time slots became available. I was able to grab Kiesha and I an 11:00 AM. One hour earlier than before.
2. When the Royal Up bid email came out about five weeks ago, I secretly placed a bid for an ocean view balcony. If I won, I thought it would be a nice surprise for Kiesha. Well, my bid was accepted! We will be living that balcony life! Let me rephrase, Kiesha will be living that balcony life. I will be scared to get anywhere near the edge. 
My plan is to not tell Kiesha until we get to the cabin or she notices the room description in the app. Unfortunately, I am known as the girl who cannot keep her own secrets. It is really quite pitiful. Wish me luck! 😂

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One more day! One more day!

What a week it has been? I finally started driving again. With my surgery, that can be a painful task. The more I do it, the better I will feel and the quicker I will heal. I am back on the streets of Atlanta getting a pedicure, hair cut and picking up last minute items.

Yesterday, I took the online COVID test. After I received my negative result, I walked around the house acting like a guy on Maury who received a negative paternity test.

fathers day dance GIF by The Maury Show

Now, I have finished packing. I am waiting for Kiesha so, my fiancée can take us to the airport.


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It is officially cruise day!

Kiesha and I revived in Fort Lauderdale around 6:30 last night. We had a weird Uber driver who Kiesha though was going to kidnap us! 😢 He kept missing his turns and took us on a longe route to get to our hotel. We were not kidnapped and are safe.

After the scare, we arrived at the Fairfield Fort Lauderdale Downton/Las Olas. Check in was quick and easy. Our room was very nice. Originally, I had us booked at the Fairfield Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port. Earlier this week, I checked the rates and I found this hotel for less than the one near the port. The guy at the registration even commented on how great a rate I obtained.

For dinner, we had an uneventful Uber ride to @Lovetocruise2002’s family favorite, La Bamba! I had the cheese enchiladas and fried ice creams. Kiesha had the steak tacos and flan. Everything was oh so good!

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Here’s Kiesha exclaiming how much she enjoyed the dinner!


We had another uneventful Uber back to the hotel. After both us wasting time on TikTok, we called it a night.

Today, I woke up around 5:45 AM, many attempted to go back to sleep, finally got up around 7:30 AM and got ready. We are now waiting for  10:30 AM to arrive so we can leave for our 11:00 AM embarkation.

Next stop: Odyssey of the Seas

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As I always say, embarkation day is the best day! Actually, I have never said that until now. If you want to use that phrase, please credit me. 😄

Overall, check-In was smooth and quick. It took about 30 minutes from curb to ship. In the moment, I was so excited (and hungry) that it seemed to last forever!!!!!

Once on board, we beelined it to the Windjammer. After searching for all of the potential vegetarian goodness, I decided on a falafel wrap. I am waiting to place my order when I hear the voice of my Monday evening, the voice of an angeI… 😂 I cannot even type this without cracking up laughing. 😂 I heard @Matt. I glanced over and sure enough it was him. I introduced myself. We chatted a bit.

During lunch, Kiesha and I tasked ourselves to reserve our shows and activities. Kiesha was able to reserve the shows. I was having issues where the app kept saying I wasn’t connected to ship WiFi and WiFi was saying there was no internet connection. I sensed a visit to internet services was in my future. More on that later… After lunch, I was immediately ready for afternoon snack so we went to Sorrento’s for pizza. While getting the snack, it was announced rooms were ready.

This was the moment for which I had been waiting: Kiesha’s balcony reveal! I had her go into the room first. She immediately walks toward the window and says this virtual looks so real. I laugh and tell her it is real. I upgraded us to a balcony! She was so excited! I was so happy to gift my best friend with her best cruise life! I am excited that I kept my own secret.

We completed the e-muster viewing portion. Kiesha napped. I went to resolve my internet issues. Long story short, I have iPhone running ios 15.1. My Private Relay was on. When I turned it off, it started working properly.

When I returned, we went to our muster station and played Bumper Cars. We stopped by Cafe Promenade/Sorrento’s for a pre-dinner snack. We went back to the room to unpack.

It was then time for dinner. We did MDR My Time Dining. I had a salad, polenta cakes, key lime pie and apple blossom. Kiesha had crab cake, prime rib and chocolate hazelnut cake. It was good…not great but good.

After dinner, we watched a comedian and the 270 Experience! OMG, the 270 Experience is AMAZING! To see all of the capabilities that this venue has is WOW!

Upon heading back to the room, I spotted Matt and a bot! Over libations, we had a great talk about life, cruising, etc. Matt and I had drinks. The bot pretended because it could mess up his circuitry.

Today is CoCo Cay!

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Kiesha and I had very different starts to our day! She went to the 7:00 AM complimentary stretching class, then breakfast. I just had breakfast. 😋

We ready to debark at 9:30 AM.  How amazing is CoCo Cay! Kiesha and I had so much relaxing fun! We hung out at Oasis Lagoon on the morning (sun was warm and the water was cold). We had lunch at Chill Beach. We ended the day at Harbor Beach.

Upon return to the ship, we napped and had pre-dinner snack of Sorrento’s. Then it was dinner. I had the zucchini fritter, tofu tacos, lemon tartlet and mud pie. Kiesha had the shrimp ceviche, short ribs, cheesecake and crème brûlée.


After dinner, we saw Showgirls! It was so good! I danced in my seat for 45 minutes. After the show, we were exhausted. I went to hang out in the solarium and almost fell asleep. Kiesha was supposed to meet me but she fell asleep in the room. #old

Today is Nassau.

Best of the Day: Showgirls

Not So Best of the Day: The ship was having satellite issues which caused Voom to be down about half of the day.

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Day 3 was Nassau. We shared the port with Carnival Legend, Norwegian Gem, Disney Magic and Celebrity Millennium. As I always say, you know cruising is back when so many major lines have ships in the same port! Once again, I have never said that until now. 😄 

Kiesha started the day with an excursion: Essential Nassau Sights & Flavors. She had a great time except all the restaurants and shops were closed. The people of Nassau really missed out because Kiesha could have single-handedly recovered their economy.

As has become my trend, I started my day eating. I had first breakfast in the Solarium and second breakfast in the Windjammer. I participated in Visual TV Trivia and got 16 out of 20. After trivia, it was time for lunch.

We had a large Bahamian congregation on board, including the Prime Minister. For lunch, the Windjammer was Caribbean themed. I ate then I had to go find Kiesha. I found her resting in our cabin. I asked her if she had eaten. She had not so I told her all about the Caribbean food, which she absolutely loves. Kiesha enjoyed the Windjammer’s selection and said everything was on point.

After lunch, it was nap time until we got ready for formal night. For dinner, it was back to the Main Dining Room. I had the vegan tortilla soup, vegan spaghetti “bolognese” and apple blossom. Kiesha had the calamari, stuffed portobello mushroom and the crème brûlée.



The night’s entertainment was a double act: The Book in 270 and Tap Factory in the Royal Theater. Both shows were great! Both casts were very talented!

After the shows, we called it an early night.

Today is CoCo Cay: The Remix.

Best of the Day: Cheese omelette at the Solarium

Not So Best of the Day: People not wearing masks during a show open for everyone. People dropping their status level for benefits. The staff knows how to read and can see your level on your SeaPass card. It appears you cannot read because you are sitting in unavailable seating.

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