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Freedom OTS 11/11/17 8 Nights, Modified Western Caribbean


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Let's see, so far I've cost @Sweety a new lens and @Sabrinaklai a new cruise.  Not bad for a few days work...  

Cruise Tip # 1307 - Take a photo on your phone of the ship contact information for each port found on the back of the Cruise Compass before leaving the ship.  It changes at each port and lists the clo

Breakfast today was in the MDR on deck 3, Leonardo's Dining Room. A Canadian couple from Vancouver told us a Cozumel story at breakfast.  They went scuba diving in Cozumel booked directly as

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Day 3 - Grand Cayman

I once dated a girl who had Celiac Disease and I know people often ask about gluten free options, so I took some pictures in the WJ breakfast today.

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I enjoyed some fresh squeezed OJ this morning

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Let's get some generic items out of the way.  Here are some menus from various venues.

café promenade:

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Chops:

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Johnny Rockets:

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Pub:

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The Vitality Spa fitness schedule:

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And Emerald offers loaded on the SeaPass card:

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It was raining as we pulled into Grand Cayman today.  I was going to do the helicopter fly past Seven Mile Beach but cancelled due to rain.

Grand Cayman is a tender port and they were using both fore and aft for loading them this morning.  With the rain the early bird tenders didn't seem to be full, several departed with room for more guests. 

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For the scuba divers or those looking to become scuba certified, Freedom has a PADI Five Star dive shop on board. 

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Yesterday I saw some folks working on their scuba certification in the Solarium:

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Time to get geeky.

</geek on>

I noted on day one that Voom had just over 200ms of latency.  I was expecting closer to 500ms like I had on Grandeur.  Could it be?  Yes!  Freedom is using O3b Medium Earth Orbiting satellites.  I wanted to get away from the US mainland before confirming but can report Voom is consistently around 210-220ms of latency.  Speeds on Freedom are not as fast as Harmony where I was getting a whopping 23Mb down and 11Mb up.   

I need to get some work done and since its raining this has become a work day for me.  I waited until today to buy the on-board Surf package for my laptop.  I need to make some calls on my phone and need my laptop in a GoTo meeting so by waiting until day 3 the Surf only package was $66 for the rest of the cruise with my emerald discount.  It was $88 on day 1 so I saved $22 by waiting until Monday to buy it on board but now I have it all week.

Before sailing I bought the Voom & Deluxe package so now I have both 'Surf' plus 'Surf and Stream' to play with.

Surf is definitely slower compared to Surf and Stream.

Sitting at anchor in Grand Cayman I've done some speed tests.

Surf on iPhone:

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And Surf and Stream on iPhone:

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I couldn't get my Slingbox to work from home, but streaming Amazon Prime video is working fine on my phone using Surf and Stream.  

I have noted my devices are connecting to the 2.4Ghz radios despite 5Ghz being available.  On Harmony they were doing "Band Select" to suppress 2.4Ghz beacons resulting in 5Ghz connections.  This seems to be absent on Freedom.  

With my phone connected using Surf, I can use the Pandora app to listen to music.  

I've bought the internet on all 10 Carnival cruises I've done and none have come close to my Voom experiences on the RCI ships I've sailed.  

I'm going to try some wifi calls on Surf this week to see if I truly need Surf and Stream to do wifi calling.  With TMobile my iPhone can do wifi calls.  Latency is so important and I'm very happy to see Freedom using O3b for the lower latency that comes with MEO vs. Geostationary satellites.

And now back to our regular live blog...

</geek off>

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

Pub:

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Thanks for this photo! I've had the Paulaner Salvator Double Bock. Really good beer, glad to see they have that in the pub. Assuming it's still on offer when my cruise comes around at the end of March, I think that will be my signature brew onboard; with Guinness, Bass, and Blue Moon as alternates depending on what I'm eating or how buzzed I've gotten off the Double Bock.

Is the Guinness and Bass Ale offered on tap in the pub? Would love to have a proper Black & Tan again, haven't been able to enjoy one of those in at least a decade.

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17 hours ago, rjac said:

So, when are we all going?:27_sunglasses:

 

16 hours ago, Sabrinaklai said:

When @Matt organizes a GC during the summer lol. Then I'm in!

 

24 minutes ago, tiny260 said:

Concur with @Sabrinaklai , has to be summer time for my wife and I also for the same reason.

Already have Freedom booked out of San Juan in October of 2018, that is Fall break for schools in Oklahoma for those wondering about my above comment. 

So @Matt this is a sign for a GC for summer 2019? 

Better decide soon, @KathyC needs to know so she can start planning.  If she keeps searching around her computer might catch on fire again! 🤣

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On 11/13/2017 at 10:46 AM, JLMoran said:

Is the Guinness and Bass Ale offered on tap in the pub? Would love to have a proper Black & Tan again, haven't been able to enjoy one of those in at least a decade.

Sadly no.  Tap selection pretty weak.  Heineken / Heineken Light / Strongbow

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Cheers!

Too many of these and I'll be singing at Karaoke.  

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I'm quite pleased with wifi calling on Freedom.  I've had two long phone calls today, the last one almost 2 hours and except for a few moments it worked just like at home.  That was with the basic Surf plan.  Cell phones aren't perfect back home so no one noticed.  I presented in my Goto meeting (using Surf and Stream) and although some said it was laggy, in the end it worked out. I looked up and we had set sail an hour earlier.  

Quick stop at Vintages before heading to the MDR.  

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Stopped by Vintages pre-dinner for a glass of wine.  I like the selection of wines better on Freedom over Harmony.

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Dinner was in the MDR, food was fine but the wait staff were a bit overwhelmed.  Not a big deal, it's not like I was going anywhere.  At 5:30 pm I wasn't expecting them to be hopping like they would be in prime time.  Menu from MDR tonight:

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Top tier event tonight was in Studio B with none other than Super Mario!  The international skaters did a special show for the top tier to the music of Queen, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Prince and others.  Well done!  A new Pinnacle couple was crowned tonight as well.

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Mario was presented yet another certificate and he did a short 2 minute but well delivered talk about his views of RCI and why he is Loyal 2 Royal.  They didn't announce his C&A count but it's got to be approaching if not over 7,100 by now.  The Captain mentioned of the 4,069 on board 2,319 are C&A members.  Us emerald were in the minority with something around 170 compared to 1,101 gold and 400+ diamond.  If I heard correctly ~20 Pinnacle are on board.  

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In other news, I checked my upcoming Anthem booking that is a longggg 6 days after this Freedom cruise and my Oceanview Guarantee has finally posted my stateroom assignment.  Scored an upgrade to a balcony on deck 11.  Woohoo!  This will be my diamond cruise - the cruise after which I turn from an emerald green to shiny diamond!

Thanks for the upgrade Royal Caribbean!

But I'll save more Anthem talk for another Live Blog...stay tuned, don't change that channel.  

One last thought - no deck noise from the pool deck so far this cruise despite being on deck 10 right under it.  Sleeping like the baby that I am.  

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I should have mentioned the Royal Swedes last night in the Star Lounge.  Great cover band.  Tonight the Star Lounge had 'Finish That Lyric Game Show'  - very fun!  A bit later was a street party in the Royal Promenade, bring on the 70's.  Quite the party, the Promenade was packed.  Lots of fun, everyone had a smile on their face. 

What a fun ship!

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That area by Boleros on deck 4 is very interesting and it draws me in every time I walk near it.

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I love blown glass and this area has it on many different walls in and around Boleros.

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7 hours ago, twangster said:

Stopped by Vintages pre-dinner for a glass of wine.  I like the selection of wines better on Freedom over Harmony.

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Red wine selection does look pretty decent. Malbec, Shiraz, and Zinfandel are all varieties I've learned I like. I assume Toscana is not the same as Chianti, even if both are from Tuscany, but I'll definitely try that out in the hope it's similar. Definitely looking forward to trying these out and seeing which one(s) becomes my dinner standard.

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10 hours ago, twangster said:

In other news, I checked my upcoming Anthem booking that is a longggg 6 days after this Freedom cruise and my Oceanview Guarantee has finally posted my stateroom assignment.  Scored an upgrade to a balcony on deck 11.  Woohoo!  This will be my diamond cruise - the cruise after which I turn from an emerald green to shiny diamond!

Thanks for the upgrade Royal Caribbean!

But I'll save more Anthem talk for another Live Blog...stay tuned, don't change that channel.  

 

Awesome news about the upgrade!  Can't wait to see the pics and blog from Anthem since we're going too in a few months.  Do you get to keep the balcony cabin for both legs of your B2B?

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5 minutes ago, Sabrinaklai said:

 Do you get to keep the balcony cabin for both legs of your B2B?

No, I'm switching to an Inside with Virtual Balcony.  I want to try a VB as that is what I've booked for the Alaska Group Cruise and I'd like to validate that is going to work for me.  I don't mind moving cabins, 19 nights in one cabin is okay, but I like to try different things.

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