Ray

First Timers Cruising For Dummies Guide..FOTS 25/11/2018

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Firstly let me thank all on this site for the knowledge they have shared, being a new cruiser i didnt know what to expect but the information and friendliness shared on this site has made me less worried about things.

For me this upcoming cruise has been a long time coming, in fact over 20 years, it's a bucket list item that i thought i would never be able to tick off! I have dragged my wife to some strange cities and countries around the world, be it on vacation or for work but one thing i could never do was get her to go on a cruise due to her dislike ( thats an understatement ) of water. However this year as this trip is for my 50th birthday she had to relent 🙂 hopefully this cruise is the first of many!

We fly British Airways (BA)from a very cold and wet North East of Scotland on Thursday, heading to New York via Heathrow with a 7hr layover in JFK before boarding our Delta flight down to Peurto Rico for a 2 day stay before our cruise. I booked both of these flights as soon as i was able to (11 months out) and i have watched prices daily, BA has never dropped, Delta i could have saved a little ($100) if i waited one month. Since then prices have risen so it was a good idea to ignore my wifes advice to wait until 2 or 3 months out.

The hotel of choice having read good reports on it was the Sheraton in Old San Juan, right opposite the cruise port or so i thought! Thanks to info on here i found out that RC leave from another terminal, that along with the fact my wife saw a photo of a hotel with a beach with hammocks on it where we could just chill on our first day sipping cocktails  after a long flight, i decided a change was needed, booked the Courtyard by Marriot Isla Verde ( yes the one with hammocks) as soon as dates appeared available and since then i was watched the prices rocket, so again good idea to book as soon as you can.

The cruise itself was booked through a UK travel agent, i didnt have a clue which one to use but noticed one was giving you a price match, $100 OBC and free drinks package and 6 bottles of red wine if you booked through them, the wine was the deciding factor and i must admit they tasted nice. Room is an oceanview on deck 9, i wanted a balcony but had to compromise as my wife wasn't keen on a balcony on first cruise.

For UK cruisers i used trivago to look for best deal on hotel, skyscanner for flights and just searched for best deal on cruise, i then went onto  TOP CASHBACK and used that as a link to BA, Booking.com and company for insurance and have ended up with a £200 payback which is extra money to spend on holiday

ONBOARD

Voom purchased for my wife using OBC so she can keep in touch with family back home

As i got drinks package FOC, theres no point adding up bar bill to see if i break even, also the fact as im scottish the batterey would probably run out an calculator from over use😂😂

Schedule 

Thursday 22nd Aberdeen to Newyork 

Friday 23rd New York to Peurto Rico : 2 night stay

CRUISE ITERNERARY

BASSETERRE, ST KITTS & NEVIS 

ST. JOHNS, ANTIGUA 

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA 

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS 

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN

Back to San Juan

SJU TO JFK

As we just like to wing it and decide what we want to do when we wake up or sober up lol, the only things we have planned are Bernards tours in St Maarten and Atlantis Submarine in Barbados ( another bucket list item so i had to bribe my wife for this one) 

After the cruise we head back to the big apple and heres where the bribery kicks in, a 2 night stay in the Grand Hyatt in NYC taking in the xmas lights etc, ice skating in Bryant Park even though i've never skated in my life( just as well i have idiots abroad travel insurance)  some Xmas shopping at Jersey gardens, however my wife wants to visit Tiffany's for her present 😞 and just when i thought everything was done and i could relax without having to spend anymore more money, John Legend announces a tour where his only New York date corresponds with our time there and knowing full well what my wifes reaction would be if we get there and she see's advertisements for his concert, its easier for me to have a quiet life if i just open my wallet and purchase 2 tickets

All packed and counting down the days 🙂 

 

Ray 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, twangster said:

Sounds all great and well planned.  Following...

Enjoy your cruise!

Spreadsheets been working overtime 😉 

Thanks 🙂 sure we will enjoy

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2 hours ago, Sweety said:

Following. Have an awesome time. John Legend is going to be great with his new Christmas CD. Loving your blog and sense of humor.

Saw him in MSG last year and yeah he was great, which is why i knew i would live to regret it if i didnt get her a ticket for this trip 

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2 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

You are going to have a great time!  Great choice of ship/itinerary too for your first cruise!

Thanks 🙂

TBH ship & Itinerary were booked before i joined this blog, Caribbean was a bucket list item for reasons mentioned on " why do you cruise thread" 😉 Having read various posts i guess i got lucky with my selection  

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Was just on Freedom in October, did the St Thomas, Curacao, Aruba and St Kitts itinerary. Even though Freedom hasn't been AMPED, she is a very well maintained ship and only slightly showing her age. If you do the specialty dinning, try Giovanni's and order the filet, a side note, no matter what you see on the menu, ask the waiter for the pasta of the day and you can't go wrong, whatever it is.

Following and have a great cruise.

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Aberdeen International Airport check in area lol without doubt the worst Airport i have travelled through. 

For those waiting to get through to deparatures you may if you are lucky get one of the ten seats available for waiting public ( thats not a joke), area contains 1 bar, 1 cafe and 2 shops which are the same. 

Once through customs into departure are its not any better, 1 bar, duty free, 2 luggage shops and 1 everyday shop with snacks etc 

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On 11/22/2018 at 8:33 AM, Ray said:

2 luggage shops

Ummm, if someone needs to buy luggage when they're already at the airport then I kind of feel like they're doing it wrong. 😁

20 hours ago, Ray said:

1st drink of the day ( not sure what day it is though lol ) 

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Have a blast! Remember, no matter where you are, it's 5 o'clock somewhere! 😂

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Lying in bed shattered from a day of sightseeing and extreme shopping!  Honestly shopping with your wife when black friday sales are on should come with a government health warning, its not only bad for your bank balance but also your health being dragged into the same shop numerous times because they cant make their mind up. 

Took Uber from hotel in isla verde to old san juan at 8am cost for uber was $10 which is half the price of normal taxi, got back to hotel at 7pm 

Was strange walking about seeing sights for the first time but knowing about them from previous blogs. 

People were so friendly and helpful, food was delicious,  definitely a place i would revisit

cruise day tomorrow so my wife is sleeping after our tiring day, being a smoker last thing i do at night is go down and outside hotel when i want a smoke, problem is i have to walk past bar each time i do so im now on 12 pints a day

Tomorrow i finally get to experience everything i have read about, like a child at xmas dont think i will get much sleep tonight 

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