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About amandaepperson21

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Cumming, Ga.
  • Interests
    Travel, adventure, boating
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Noncommital - no cheapies tho
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Western Caribbean

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  1. You know, I never thought about taking laundry on shore lol. I know it sounds absolutely insane, but if this trip had been with our whole family of 5 + our nanny, I would’ve been in trouble. My husband isn’t as tidy as I am. There would occasionally be trash left in the floor. Like a wristband, cup cover, etc.. Just small stuff. Also other lines do touch your personal items. Sand in the bed - this itinerary was very port heavy. 5 stops + San Juan home port. Lots of beach days. Lots of coming back and crashing for 3 hours, not always bothering to shower first lol.
  2. Just back from our first RCI cruise. Freedom of the seas out of San Juan (with the key). We aren’t brand loyalists. We’ve cruised on Princess, MSC, Costa, Carnival and now RCI. After hearing people rave for years about how much better it is than other lines, I had certain expectations. But in all honesty, our experience was just okay. Heres a quick list of the better/not as good experiences we had: Better: 1. They didn’t care if we brought back on large quantities soda or juice from port - like two full size bottles of juice or a 2L of Pepsi. 2. Actual lifeguards at all pools. I’ve never seen this on a ship before. 3. Kids life vests available at the pools. Major plus!! We didn’t bring our kids this time, but we always have to bring their life vests. 4. The layout of the ship is soooo awesome. Everything is together and easy to find. Plenty of elevators. It didn’t feel like a huge ship. 5. VERY food allergy friendly!! I was not cross contaminated once! Someone at my table couldn’t have gluten. They presented her with the next days menu each night so that it could be cooked separately. They also gave her GF bread each night. And there’s a GF buffet section. Never seen this before. Excellent. I’m cross contaminated with my allergen almost every time I dine out, but was not on the ship. 6. Embarkation with The Key was crazy fast. We brought our bags to lunch in the MDR and our room was ready when we were done. 7. Self disembark was a snap. 8. No mystery smells, even on deck 1. Almost every ship I’ve been on has an area with a weird smell lol. Not as good: 1. The food. We ate in the dining room all but one night. The food was okay. Desserts were VERY meh. Creme brûlée top layer was liquid, not that normal hard shell. I only took 1-2 bites of dessert every night because it was just meh. Sometimes even gross. Entrees were meh to okay. Escargot was fantastic though. Dining room breakfast was limited and meh. Buffet has more options, but they were again meh. Only 2-3 foods on the whole cruise made me say, “Wow this is so good!” I ordered steak twice and it was over cooked both times. 2. Restaurant service was slow. We were often the last ones out of the place. Long waits for drink refills. Long waits between courses. During our Chops key lunch, the service was just plain ridiculous. We had our appetizer before the appropriate server even came by to take our drink order. On that note, our Chops meal was of quality I’d expect in the main dining room - just okay. I’m a steak connoisseur and was not impressed. It was also over-cooked. 3. WiFi in our cabin was a joke. We own a business and check in daily. I’d much rather do this from my room than a public space. Unlimited WiFi was the biggest reason we purchased the key. 3. Cabin steward bombed. Sand in our sheets most nights due to her not changing them. I kept stacking our dirty room glasses so they’d be swapped out - she just rinsed them in the sink and put them back. I know because they still had lipstick on them. Minimal tidying. 4. Cabin was not great. You could see the dips in the mattresses when the bed was made. It was so hard my hips and shoulders hurt in the morning (side sleeper). No bath robe. Refrigerator didn’t work. Shower head was possessed. The bath towels were good though. 5. Towel exchange stinks. Cabin stewards swapped them out on every other cruise I’ve been on. Ours just folded the soggy things and stacked them in the floor. The towels themselves were pretty sad and desperately need to be replaced. All of them. 6. Lots of nickel and diming. Room service is usually free + tip on cruises, but not on this one. The bar mixed drinks were expensive compared to other ships. $9-10 including gratuity for the daily drink special, which is usually cheaper. Also the daily drinks didn’t come in cute souvenir cups or anything. I don’t mind paying extra (hello I purchased The Key) but the extras on this ship were priced higher than most. 7. Limited hours for ice skating and flow rider. Long lines when it was open. The Key only had one designated hour each for these on our one sea day. 8. NO LAUNDRY. WHAAAAT!? This ship departs from San Juan PR, which means most people arrive the day before the cruise, aren’t hauling massive amounts of luggage (which I am guilty of when we drive to FL for cruises) and might be staying a day or more after the cruise. Lots of laundry. Why on God’s green earth are there not at least a few guest laundry facilities on the ship??? Oh but of course you can pay $$$ to have your laundry done lol. We did this trip with one carry on and one personal item because I had planned to do laundry on the ship. After numerous cruises, I’ve never been on a ship that doesn’t have a laundry facility for passengers. 9. Limited food options without paying extra. IMO there’s no reason Johnny rockets shouldn’t be included in the cruise fare. I mean, burgers are on the buffet. Maybe charge for shakes. Other ships we’ve sailed offer more than MDR, pizza/cafe and buffet. That’s all that’s included on Freedom. Others have at least 1-2 options that were premium on this ship. MSC Divina has an American style sports bar with full menu and a burger/brat/dawg place beside the pool. At the Divina pizza place by the pool, they’d cook whatever pizza you wanted on the spot - you didn’t have to pick from whatever 3 were in the warmer. All these are included in cruise fare. There were a lot of other things where I’ve had better experiences elsewhere. Like medical, they didn’t call to check on me after my visit (unrelated to the ship) the way Princess did when my daughter broke her arm (and they called once or twice daily!). Slow drink service at the pools. We were booted from the pool for having a drink but two other people holding the exact same cup weren’t. Nightclub didn’t open until 11pm or later each night. Smoking section beside main pool (should be by adult pool at best). The ship is going to dry dock soon and it is definitely needed. No nightly chocolates on the pillows (smh even Carnival does this). Little touches. This post is not to dog RCI because we did very much enjoy our cruise!! I’m just wondering if this is the norm for this line. Thus far, MSC has been our favorite (and they are expanding their Caribbean itineraries). If our experience with RCI is par for the course, IMO it’s not worth the premium rate.
  3. We are in San Juan about to hop on Freedom. We paid for the key. It’s 9 am and we are ready to be on board lol. Boarding officially begins at 12:30. What is the earliest we could expect to get on, considering we have “the key”? Also, what is security like for bringing on your own bags (instead of leaving them with porters)? I assume we still have to go through the whole bag xray hoopla, right? Thanks!
  4. We sailed MSC Divina Spring Break 2017 and I REALLY wanna cruise Seaside next year. I have cruised with Carnival, Princess, Costa and MSC. Thus far of 7 cruises, Divina was my absolute favorite. Maybe it depends on where you sail from. We sailed from Miami. Going on my first RCI in a few weeks, so we'll see if MSC remains my # 1. 1. The ship is just stunning. 2. Kids sail "free" is a major bonus. My kids really enjoyed the kids program. Everyone is whining about unattended kids ... we didn't really experience this. There's an adults only pool. If you don't like kids, well there ya go. 3. The service was awesome. My son and I have food allergies. Mine is potentially deadly. I didn't die, nor was I made to feel like an inconvenience at any point. They were more than accommodating. 4. The nightly party scene was perfect. FUN but not 4 day Carnival Booze Cruise fun LOL! Classy fun. The music was awesome everywhere we went. They definitely realized that half the passengers would be American and made sure we stayed entertained. The shows were really good too. Having been on two European cruise lines (MSC and Costa), I felt a lot less snubbed for being an American on MSC LOL.
  5. We are sailing Freedom on 9/15. Cruise planner says 6:00 am arrival. I called RCI and was told debarkation begins 60-90 minutes after arrival, so 7:00-7:30 am. We have The Key so we should be able to get off pretty quickly. The key supposedly has "choice" disembarkation. Not sure if choice = priority. Google Maps says the airport is 15-30 mins from the port. My flight leaves at 10:09 am. No checked bags, just carry ons. I feel like I have enough time so long as we aren't dragging our feet. What do you think? I chose this flight because all the other options will put us getting home super late. IF we don't make it, we can change flights and just pay the difference, so it's not the end of the world. I'm just wondering what everyone else's experience was getting to the airport. Thanks!
  6. DO SEASIDE! I'm dying to go on Seaside. I went on Divina a couple of years ago an honestly it was the most beautiful ship I've been on (and I've been on a bunch). I liked MSC overall way better than Carnival too (been on 2 Carnival cruises, including one 7 day on a similar class ship as Divina).
  7. I'm 7 months post-op sleeve. Taking my first post-op cruise in 2 months. I dine out a lot. Like it's kind of ridiculous. I have learned to avoid appetizers. Too easy to fill up before the good stuff arrives. When we eat in the main dining room, I won't get one of every course. I'll also tell my waiter on our first night that I'm fine with having our food brought out at an accelerated pace if it's something they can do. The biggest thing I hate isn't the food I can't eat. It's the sitting there waiting while everyone else continues to eat long after I've had my fill LOL. I use the timer on my phone to pace myself between drinking and eating. I have found that if I have an empty stomach, I can drink as soon as 10-15 minutes before a meal and it be gone from my stomach. Most surgeons say no drinking 30-60 minutes prior to eating, but the purpose of that rule is so your stomach is empty and so that food doesn't easily wash out with the liquid. Through trial and error, I've found 15 minutes to be my sweet spot. Most importantly: lean steak IS healthy lol. Also lobster tail with a little butter. Seafood in general. I'm allergic to chicken so I eat a lot of steak and seafood. I don't usually do protein shakes. If you do, you can get a little baby formula powder travel case type thing (or two) and pre-portion out some scoops. Bring a yeti style cup for keeping your water cold all day.
  8. Sooooo to answer the original question lol.... Craziest thing I saw was two families - FAMILIES - go ALL OUT royal rumble on the Lido deck. It was on MSC Divina (about half European/non-English speaking), and none of them spoke English while they were screaming at each other, so I have no idea what it was about. I don't think they knew each other though. They had a verbal exchange earlier in the cruise. Four of them were carted off the ship in handcuffs at the next port.
  9. We’re sailing Freedom OTS on 9/15 from San Juan. I read that in the event of a hurricane, RC May reroute the cruise from an eastern Caribbean itinerary to western. If that were to happen, would they change the departure port? I’m about to book my airfare and hotel for the night before. Wondering how safe it is to book non-refundable lol. Especially on the airfare. September is the peak of hurricane season. One would hope PR will catch a break after its recent bettering, but I want to be prepared. We’ve only sailed from Florida thus far.
  10. One of the times we went to Cozumel, we had a long port day. We rented a car, went to the “back side” of the island, ate at this little (amazing) place called Mezcalitos where they had free beach hammocks, went to the back beach, drove to Carlos & Charley’s, did a couple of other things but I wasn’t the driver and the trips kind of blend together lol. Anyway, it was fun. The island isn’t huge so getting lost isn’t easy.
  11. Calico Jacks is the cruise ship passenger dumping ground. Depending on how many ships are in port, it will be crowded to very crowded.
  12. Depends on how you pack them. I’ll give you the 411. I’m not here to impress anyone with my sanctity 😒. 1- Don’t put them in the same luggage as your wine. 2- Put them vertically along the sides of your luggage. 3- Put each one in its own freezer bag for obvious reasons. 4- Pack less than you think you need because seriously you’re not going to be going back and forth to your cabin to make a drink every single time you want one.
  13. I have never cruised alone, but I love traveling alone. I imagine if I cruised alone it would be no different than my pursuits in solo land travels. I don’t solo travel to meet people, make friends, etc.. I solo travel for peace, relaxation, parasympathetic activities, meditation, etc.. I’ve been on 5 cruises and never really made friends with anyone. I go with my family. I’m not there to make friends. And if I went alone, I wouldnt be there to make friends. I’d want to be left alone. Otherwise it would defeat the entire purpose of going alone. But when I travel alone, I seek out cottages far off the beaten path so as to avoid human contact as much as possible, so a cruise definitely wouldn’t be my choice.
  14. I see that I can bring more than 2 bottles of wine for a charge of $15 each. But how do you bring it on? Say I wanted to bring on a case of 12. How do they charge me? My on-board account? And do I just bring the bottle to dinner with us and have them pop the cork and serve it? How does one carry a bottle of wine (or two ;p) to the main dining room without looking tacky :')??
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