Jump to content
Royal Caribbean Blog

Independence 12/21/17 9 Night Christmas


Recommended Posts

Day -3

A wise @Traveler once asked:

"To blog or not to blog this is the question."

I choose to blog.

With my adult kids out of state having their own plans I was left with the decision of how to spend the holidays this year.  It didn't take long for a cruise to come to mind.  As I looked over potential candidates it didn't look like I could find anything to fit my budget given that this would be the 3rd cruise this month.  However when I was on Freedom last month I saw a "Going, going, gone" promotion on Independence.   The dangers of combining a drink package and the NextCruise desk weren't obvious to me at the time and with my inhibitions in an altered state I booked it.   I know Indy will soon enter dry dock and she will receive was looks to be some very exciting upgrades but the price was right for this pre-dry dock holiday sailing so why not?  So instead of Christmas Home Alone,  I'll spend it with 4,000 of my new best friends.

Nine nights leaving from terminal 29 in Port Everglades.  Sea day, Labadee, San Juan, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Kitts and two sea days back to Fort Lauderdale.

I'm looking forward to returning to St. Maarten.  It's a been a while and with the impacts of recent hurricanes I want to contribute to the economy and help the island get back on its feet.  Doing the same in San Juan for the 2nd time this month will help San Juan as well.  

Using my $50 NextCruise OBC I've pre-booked some 'tour' excursions in San Juan, St. Maarten and Antigua.  Given 4 ports in a row I plan to use St. Kitts as a day to stay on the ship and relax.  After all I was just there last week and went scuba diving so a day to do nothing but hang out in an empty solarium sounds about right.  I'm not often a bus tour kind of guy but they are good way to explore an island and learn of potential things to do on another visit.

I'd been having some issues getting the C&A points from a recent cruise to post even more than two weeks after disembarking.  Without those points I would remain Emerald green and once you've tasted Diamond it isn't easy being green.  Despite numerous contacts with the C&A desk I wasn't making any progress but fortunately my agent made some calls and got it straightened out.  It seems somehow my booking number changed on my C&A account and it showed as being cancelled but she was able to prove to them I did in fact sail on that cruise.  Don't under estimate the value of a good travel agent even after your cruise is over.  Thank you Beth!

I'm really trying to pack light this trip.  I've often managed week long business trips using only a small carry on spinner but I've yet to cruise with the same efficiency.  Time to start packing and really cutting down on stuff I don't need.  As always I'm flying in the day before and spending a night in a Fort Lauderdale hotel.    Let the packing commence!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 89
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Phew!  Packing nearly complete.  I've done quite well.  Only 43 bags. Two less than I took on Anthem!

IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!!!! I woke early in my hotel and plotted how to kill some time.  I've decided to give @Matt a two-fer blog on this sailing.  Since the next Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise is

This is completely unacceptable.  We need to start a GoFundMe page immediately.  

Posted Images

1 hour ago, twangster said:

The dangers of combining a drink package and the NextCruise desk weren't obvious to me at the time and with my inhibitions in an altered state I booked it.   I know Indy will soon enter dry dock and she will receive was looks to be some very exciting upgrades but the price was right for this pre-dry dock holiday sailing so why not?  So instead of Christmas Home Alone,  I'll spend it with 4,000 of my new best friends.

It's like Santa came a week early! I get to read more live blogs and see more photos and cruise vicariously! Huzzah!!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Day -2

One thing about a holiday cruise I've discovered is that they don't discount Voom before sailing.  Voom Surf and Stream has remained at $17.99 per day even over black Friday and more recents sale events.

Given no discounts I'm better to wait until I'm on board and hope they offer the normal C&A on-board discounts for Voom.  I plan to do this cruise with basic Voom Surf and I may wait a few days into the cruise to purchase it.  Day 1 I can tether my Mac to my phone and if I skip day 2 I can try to tether my phone in Labadee since my T-Mobile plan does provide data there.  By waiting until mid-cruise I'll save a bunch on Voom.

Consequently I may appear absent on the day 2 sea day and I'll be light on photos at first but will try to go back and add some back in as internet connectivity permits.

Logging in this morning I found my C&A account missing 8 points since yesterday.  Apparently when they fixed my missing 7 night Anthem cruise it wiped out the correction for my Freedom cruise in November.  A quick call to the C&A desk and all is well again.  

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, twangster said:

Consequently I may appear absent on the day 2 sea day and I'll be light on photos at first but will try to go back and add some back in as internet connectivity permits.

This is completely unacceptable.  We need to start a GoFundMe page immediately.

 

:16_relieved:

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, twangster said:

Given no discounts I'm better to wait until I'm on board and hope they offer the normal C&A on-board discounts for Voom.

Historically, there has been higher pricing for premium sailings over holidays.  I'd still be surprised to see the full price charged, but it is what it is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Day -1

Live in the air from 29,000'!

Today I'm connecting through Atlanta.  For those that didn't see the news from a few days the Atlanta airport had an electrical fire which cut all power to the airport grounding flights and causing flight interuptions that rippled into the days following.  This is why I don't like to fly in the day of any cruise.  

The other reason for me to sneak in one more cruise this year was for the flights which will net me Platinum status on Delta next year instead of Gold.  Don't underestimate the value of airline loyalty - I'm flying free to at least 3 cruises next year including the Alaska Group Cruise and to Barcelona for Symphony.  With platinum this year I've always flown in comfort+ and about 25% of the time I was upgraded to first class for free.  Like with C&A loyalty pays even though benefits have changed over time on both.  Such is the way with loyalty programs.  .  

Another perk with TMobile (other than free international data in cruise ports) is free internet on domestic American & Delta flights.  Internet on planes makes Voom seem like a dream, even on the older ships.  

Trying a different hotel in Ft. Lauderdale this time.  Free airport shuttle and it's very close to the port so Lyft should be under $10 in the morning.  

So far I haven't received any communication about boarding delays so the plan is to check out of the hotel at 10am and head to the port.

Link to post
Share on other sites

IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!!!!

I woke early in my hotel and plotted how to kill some time.  I've decided to give @Matt a two-fer blog on this sailing.  Since the next Royal Caribbean Blog group cruise is to Alaska I'm going to post a recap blog on my Celebrity cruise this past summer.  Some of the ports are the same so hopefully that can give folks an idea what to expect.

With five hours to kill I started writing that blog.  Look for it soon(ish).  

At 10am I repacked my 43 bags.  For some reason I do this every time.  Despite knowing I need to change clothes in the hotel I never remember to pack the next's days clothes separately.  So I unpacked so I could change and re-packed.

I headed down and hailed a Lyft 5 ton truck for my 43 bags.  $8.  By 10:32 I was pulling up to the terminal. 

Today we are using terminal 18, not 29 as I was expecting.  As we entered the port I saw it on the sign board overhead.  It's awfully lonely in port today, no other cruise ships (it's Thursday).  We were handed a letter explaining a delayed boarding due to continuing cleaning efforts.  No big deal, I was expecting this.  We did score a $25 OBC from it as compensation on a card taped to my Emerald card.  Apparently cards are printed a long time before sailing so my Diamond status wasn't available to the folks in the terminal.  My C&A account is correct so I'm not anticipating any issues once the Loyalty Ambassador starts at 4pm.  At the check in counter they have sanitizing people rush up and wipe down the counter between guests.

@rjac - I checked the onboard Diamond guidebook and apparently it is okay to talk to other members.  Merry Christmas buddy!

Voom on board is $15.99 for Surf and $19.99 for Surf and Stream (holiday pricing).  Since they tagged me as Emerald I used my 15% Emerald discount which is actually a few bucks cheaper than the one day Diamond discount I was offered on Anthem.  This also came out cheaper by a few bucks compared to the pre-cruise pricing in the cruise planner.  With the unexpected $25 OBC it makes it even cheaper.  

I continued writing my Alaska blog in the terminal.  I'm sure I look like I was in vacation mode banging away on my laptop.  I had 'snuck' into the Diamond area upstairs by tail-gating a family.  At 11:52am I looked up and saw the suite guests nearly all on board.  A minute later they called Diamond. Not bad, $25 extra OBC and I still was on before noon.   

They handed us a glass of sparkling wine as we boarded.  Nice touch!

Windjammer was lightly occupied so I started on my food coma 'diet'.   We were able to serve ourselves.  Despite being on Freedom in November my Anthem lobotomy erased all knowledge of a Freedom class WJ.  Thankfully my aging memory started coming back to me. 

Heading out to the pool deck I saw some contractors taking measurements around the main pool area outside.  I'm thinking they are preparing for the upcoming dry dock so look for some changes to the hot tubs and under the outdoor screen if not the whole outdoor pool area.

Somehow as I went through security in the terminal I ripped my Caribbean shirt.  I didn't shave this morning.  I'm looking quite the homeless blogger part sitting on the pool deck writing this post with my ripped shirt.  Cabins are ready at 3pm so until then maybe I'll put out a cup and hope for donations.  

  

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, twangster said:

 

Heading out to the pool deck I saw some contractors taking measurements around the main pool area outside.  I'm thinking they are preparing for the upcoming dry dock so look for some changes to the hot tubs and under the outdoor screen if not the whole outdoor pool area.

  

You are such a super sleuth !  I guess I must just be completely oblivious to my surroundings (no ninja here) b/c I never notice things like this but your blogs are loaded with these little insider tidbits.  BRILLIANT !

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, twangster said:

Somehow as I went through security in the terminal I ripped my Caribbean shirt.  I didn't shave this morning.  I'm looking quite the homeless blogger part sitting on the pool deck writing this post with my ripped shirt.  Cabins are ready at 3pm so until then maybe I'll put out a cup and hope for donations.    

Hey...how's that GoFundMe page coming along ?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quick post after dinner while I'm in the main theater waiting for the Welcome Aboard show.  

Right after muster I was walking past the Loyalty desk and spotted Justin taking her position.  I quickly jumped in a seat and explained.   No problem, sticker applied and invitations to super secret Diamond events slid across the table.  She suggested I drop by the Diamond lounge to get a card for lounge access.  

Next stop, deck 14.  With an extra key provided I'm now in with the cool crowd.  

Some pictures coming later, after the show.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...