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About Quigley10

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  1. To the OP - there's also the option to not in the MDR every night, if nothing works for your boyfriend some nights. We came back from the Celebrity Century a few months ago. Many of their main dishes were a bit fancy for my tastes, and we found that the late seating in Alaska was a bit too late for us Floridians! We ate 4 of our dinners in their cafe - comparable to RCCL's Windjammer - and never felt that we lost something by doing so. The cafe's buffet gave us the flexibility to eat meals when we wanted that happily met our tastes and cravings. :) (For the record, we've been religious about eating dinner in the MDR on every other cruise that we've taken....go figure!) :p
  2. Off-topic, but our favorite is the guava lava flow. Any lava flow is good, but we had a few guava lava flows on the Freedom last year and... :D Give me a guava lava flow any day!!!
  3. We were on the Freedom last summer, when it docked in Ocho Rios. We did get off the ship for an hour to walk around the pier and hit a few of the shops, but otherwise decided to stay on the ship. This was completely the opposite of our norm for other ports - we typically get off early and stay off for as long as we can! As previous posters have suggested, the Flowrider is a great option. It is open for a few hours while in port that day, and the line was drastically lower than what we saw the rest of the week. We honestly used the rest of the day as a pool day. The pool deck was empty--we had our pick of lounge chairs--and my husband and I even spent a great deal of time in the H2O Zone. (Fun even without kids!) Had lunch in the Windjammer, which was much quieter than sea days. :) The one thing to keep in mind is that the typical amenities you have on a sea day will not be available in full. For me, the biggest disappointment was that we couldn't ice skate that day. I am a figure skater and regularly attended the Freedom's public sessions, but the rink was closed while we were in port in Ocho Rios...in all honesty, there may not have been enough interested guests to make it worth their while. At the very least, the pools will be open all day as will the Flowrider for part of the day.
  4. Good luck!! We were in the same boat as you - booked the Freedom's Christmas cruise this year in April, and early was full. We called back a few times, and lucked into a Certified Vacation Planner who worked his magic and got us switched to early. He said he had connections in dining: no idea what he did, but it worked. I hope it works for you, too!
  5. We agree with Putterdude. We did our first independent excursion last year on the Freedom of the Seas - a sailboat stingray/snorkeling trip in Grand Cayman. There were maybe 40 people on our boat versus 200 in the ship's tours to stingray city, and we loved it so much that we booked all independent excursions in Alaska earlier this summer - whale watch in ISP, Mendenhall Glacier Trek in Juneau, and Orcas Cove Kayaking in Ketchikan. The latter two tours were utterly amazing, in no small part due to the fact that it was just my husband and me with the guide - no one else had booked them. These were memories to last a lifetime. If the schedule were tight or the port was less than ideal, we would book ship tours. We're headed back on the Freedom this December and are doing the same independent tour in GC but will be on a ship's tour in Jamaica. It's all a matter of what you feel comfortable with. At the very least, I do recommend looking for the companies that are highly recommended here and on Trip Advisor. Good luck!
  6. Yeah, it is fairly unavoidable from the Promenade. That being said, on our W Caribbean cruise last year, it took us a few days to figure out when it was open. It never seemed to be open at first, which I suppose could be a good thing? :)
  7. Having been on 4 RCI cruises, including the Monarch, and three Carnival cruises, including two of the Paradise's twins, I'd say go with the Monarch and enjoy it. The ship is a bit smaller that RCI's other ships, but it's still in good shape. Despite its being a shorter cruise, RCI still does a nice job with entertainment. The food on our 3-night was as good as what we've had on our longer cruises. The ship still had the typical parties, events and activities, including formal night, the belly flop competition, hairy legs competition, showtimes in the theater, etc. We just scaled our expectations back from what we'd expect on the Freedom or the other immense ships. I don't doubt that Carnival will also offer these activities on the Paradise, though. Given that we prefer the decor, atmosphere, personality and clientele of RCI to Carnival, we'd be apt to take the Monarch over the Paradise. However, for a three-night, you really can't go wrong with either!
  8. Freedom of the Seas, Christmas cruise (12/23), Western itinerary. Loved last summer's cruise so much that we rebooked for the same ship, same itinerary and same stateroom!
  9. Very true...the 8' tall elephants guarding one of the Fascination's lounges would agree with you on being out there!! Also the nutty "Diamonds are Forever" lounge, and the neon everything. :p
  10. 1) Hiking on Mendenhall Glacier by ourselves - just us and the guide. (We used Above and Beyond Alaska.) 2) Kayaking in Ketchikan. 3) Sailing the Inside Passage. 4) My husband's participation in the Polar Bear Plunge. 5) Private salmon picnic on a boat near Ketchikan. 6) MDR brunch while at Hubbard Glacier, since the glacier itself was fogged in. 7) Sitting on the sunny aft deck with a blanket, watching the mountains pass by. 8) Riding a lifeboat to Icy Strait Point. 9) Giving bunny ears to Palin cut-outs in Juneau's stores. 10) Cold weather!!! (Hey, we're Floridians...)
  11. Yes and no. We found the service on Carnival be a bit hit or miss, particularly our last cruise - the waiter on the Carnival Freedom in '09 pretty much forgot our table at the MDR all week. We didn't get to know any of the cruise staff, whereas we have on RCI cruises. The buffet food is perhaps a tad better on Carnival, although very similar. Not always impressed with the MDR food. Carnival does have the "Warm Chocolate Melting Cake" on the dessert menu every night. Try it, but don't look at the recipe before you do so...it requires a stunning amount of butter! Carnival's ships are a bit brighter in decor - we had a bright orange room on the Fascination 13 years ago that I can still vividly recall. The centrum on the ships like Sensation is a good size, and typically seems very Vegas-esque. The entertainment is also pretty decent. Smoking has been much more prominent on Carnival than RCI, which is an issue for us. The pool area on the Fantasy-class ships is somewhat similar to the Monarch or Majesty, aside from the waterside. There's a large emphasis on partying on the Carnival ships we've experienced. While we've found RCI to be a better fit for us, we would certainly take advantage of the free trip, as you have. We wouldn't hesitate to travel on Carnival again should the price be right!
  12. Hi Bubble! We have, and we've also just joined the Roll Call. Looking forward to it! Love the screen name, by the way. :)
  13. I have no reason to doubt what Andy is saying...Celebrity took their rules seriously on our cruise last month. All I have to say is: "WAY TO GO, CELEBRITY!!" :p
  14. Thanks, Sailing. Have a wonderful time on your cruise on the FOS next month! :o
  15. And consider flying out a day after you arrive, or at least on a late flight. The Freedom of the Seas arrived in Port Canaveral this past Sunday at nearly noon instead of 6 AM - it caused a lot of missed flights! We went on the Celebrity Century last month and were very pleased with the food - definitely a notch up from RCCL or Carnival. However, the ship wasn't quite as exciting activity-wise. We prefer the entertainment and activities of RCI or Carnival. I'm not sure when you're planning on traveling. If it's this year, think about whether smoke is a factor. Celebrity has more restrictive smoking policies than the other lines, with Carnival/Princess among the most lenient until this December. We're non-smokers who very much appreciated Celebrity's restrictive policies.
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