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


Ray
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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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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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First pic of my home for the next week, i was sitting in the back of uber amazed at the sight before me.

Even my wife was amazed, in fact her exact words were  " ive never seen anything so big" 

Thanks dear!! Even the uber driver is sniggering while looking in her mirror 

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So its just after 7 am somewhere in the caribbean, first night done, wife found not only her sea legs but also her sea voice sitting in schooner bar signing along to the piano player.

Theres no real words to explain how yesterday went,  most of you will know what mean when i say every step you take you encounter or learn something new.

Wasnt keen on windjammer but thats more down to the fact im not keen on buffet style meals, ok for breakfast but not actual evening meal. 

Room is an oceanview stateroom on 9th deck, cant complain, spacious and clean

Today is St Kitts nothing planned will just see where our feet takes us 

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Edited by Ray
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On 11/26/2018 at 6:25 AM, Ray said:

First pic of my home for the next week, i was sitting in the back of uber amazed at the sight before me.

Even my wife was amazed, in fact her exact words were  " ive never seen anything so big" 

Thanks dear!! Even the uber driver is sniggering while looking in her mirror 

 

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After the previous nights fun we docked in St Kitts, for some strange reason my wife decided against having breakfast, she believes it must have been the pizza at 1am that made her unwell, nothing to do with the 7 or 8 alcoholic drinks she consumed.

St Kitts

Nothing planned so we just walked about the port and enjoyed the sight of a Puerto Rican invasion of st kitts. Ive read elsewhere on other forums how some people will no longer sail out of san juan due to the fact the ship is full of Latinos whos only objective is to have fun. What an entrance they made to this beautiful island, lead by a small band the marched off the ship singing songs and carrying their national flag. 

Found out the best cure for a hangover is retail therapy, its amazing how quickly my wife recovered will looking at perfumes and jewellery. 

Back on ship had a walk about to parts we hadnt been to yet, a game of golf which my wife won ( she cheated but i let her off) was followed by a trip to johnny Rockets. After all the talk about Johnny Rockets milkshakesi had to try them out. Ok i now understsnd why everyone raves about them.

Another late night in various bars but pleased to say my wife decided to leave her singing voice in stateroom.

Antigua

Up early, breakfast and off ship

Decided to have a beach day, taxi to valley church beach $8 pp each way if sharing. $5 per chair $10 for an umbrella, $4 or $5 a beer, free wifi 

Great beach to just relax only downside was that beach is made of shell not sand which can be sore on feet. Water itself drops very steeply its either up to your knees or over your head, no inbetween so care is needed.

Had read about Pams massage on beach so went to beach hut and booked half hour session, $55 per couple and worth every penny. 

Taxi came back after our 4hrs as agreed and we headed back to port for more shopping.

Dinner was MDR for 1st time cant fault the food or service.

Evening was spent at ice show, few bars and karaoke just taking in all the different sights and experiences. 

As we walked along the promade heading back to room my wife stopped outside one of the outlets and completely shocked me! The sign above the entrance said " Next Cruise" and my wifes only words were " should be book our next cruise now?" 

Told her we would wait and plan! Im not in the YOLO group yet lol

St Lucia next nothing planned 

 

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1 hour ago, Ray said:

Found out the best cure for a hangover is retail therapy, its amazing how quickly my wife recovered will looking at perfumes and jewellery. 

I should not laugh because it is the worst to be not well while on vacation, however, I love the sarcasm here. ?

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34 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

I should not laugh because it is the worst to be not well while on vacation, however, I love the sarcasm here. ?

You should laugh, life is far to short to worry about things. 

What may appear as sarcasm is in fact just a weird sense of humour, nothing i say here i wouldnt say to my wifes face but she gives as good as she gets which is why we have been together 23 wonderful years. 

Admittedly the best times have been when shes sleeping that way shes not nipping my ear lol 

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Another day in a new country, today it was St Lucia and as we had nothing planned we decided just to stay at port and explore ship more.

Every port of call has the same shop outlets as the previous so it amazes me that my wife always finds something to buy. 

Took in the Marquee show which was decent enough, then it happened..... the clock hit midnight and my age no longer had a 4 at the start of it ?

How do you celebrate your 50th birthday on a cruiseship? For me it was to hit Olive & Twist nightclub and party the night away. Walking ( ok staggering ) through the promande at 4am the ship seemed to be rocking more than usual. 

4hrs sleep and it was up for a day in Barbados. Slow walk round dockside before heading to our booked excursion the Atlantis Submarine Experience. 

50 minutes under water diving to a depth of 144ft, cant remember what i paid but it was worth every penny.

Back at dockside my wife decided a new ring was needed!! Not sure why as she has more rings than fingers as it is. However for an easy life and lighter bank balance i relented.

Dinner in MDR was good as it has been each night, waiting staff decided tonight was the night to mention their review and to give them good marks. I askws them to bring me another steak and i would consider it! 2nd steak wasnt as nice as the first. 

 

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Not a big gambler in any way,  $3 stake on slots resulted in $27 profit, following evening took $10 of the $27 from previous night and didnt do to bad 

 

Gave my wife half of winnings to treat herself in onboard spa, she wasnt impressed with the service. She got some sort of manicure and in her own words had to do most of it herself.

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Today is our first and only sea day and to be honest the rest is needed, now understand why so many of you prefer the sea days. 

Almost 8am and sitting in smoking area near pool, a rough guess over 50% of the chairs have already been claimed, towels and other items just left on them with very few people actually here.

This one was here at 6am and has not returned, it did cross my mind how funny it would be if the last page vanished ?

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