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harryfat1

Cheapo dad's trip report on Freedom of the Seas

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Greetings! This is my trip report from our family’s vacation on the Freedom of the Seas cruise to the Western Caribbean from December 18 – 24, 2016. I called this posting “trip report” instead of “cruise review” because in my opinion I am not qualified to do a professional review. This is just a summary of what our family experienced during our vacation time – Days of our lives, so to speak.

 

Keep in mind when I say “trip” report and not “cruise” report. Meaning you will be taken along for a ride for the entire trip process, not just the cruise portion. It’s the mailmen version of the vacation report, stopping off at each and every point, no matter how minor, I will talk about it. So skip sections that don’t interest you.

 

Background – We are an extended family of 6 on this cruise consisting of my wife, 2 boys, myself and my in-laws. For this trip, we are also joined by my wife’s high school friend and her extended family of 10 on various port excursions so it was a very large group. We live in California so we had to fly across the country for this cruise. My wife and I are both CPA’s (aka bean counters – we have very boring dinner time conversations) so I will probably have more numbers related discussion than most people care to read.

 

Bias – Everyone has bias on their preferences when it comes to cruises & life in general. The key is to identify the bias and discount the bias versus fact. Two year ago, I wrote a lengthy trip report on the Allure as that was the best cruise we had as a family. So you know we like the big ships, the bigger the better. You will see that bias in my report. That’s just our preference, but certainly will not be everyone’s preference so discount it anyway you deem necessary.

 

In following the same format as my previous report, I will throw in some random pictures from the cruise which I think are the highlights of the trip during the next few introductory posts – eye candy, if you will. Being a dork that I am, I am debating in throwing in a picture or two from my other vacations just to see who is actually paying attention – Hey, what is Cabo picture doing on a western Caribbean cruise? We’ll play the kids’ game of “what doesn’t fit into this trip report?”

 

 

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To borrow a phrase from the Capitol One TV ad – what is in your cruise? To me, a cruise vacation is the ultimate buffet of vacations. There are many ways to enjoy a cruise vacation and just like eating a buffet, people will have different experiences even on the same sailing. Just a matter of personal preference on how you approach your cruise.

 

For us, our preferences on a cruise are based on the 3 E’s:

 

  • Entertainment
  • Experience a new ship/port
  • Enrichment (not so much in Caribbean cruises but on Alaska cruise, the naturalist on board can educate you on many items

 

Notice that “relaxation” is not on the list. Being cheap, I want to maximize my dollar value when I go on vacation. I didn’t spend thousands of dollar and sat hours on a plane just to relax on a vacation. I can relax and sleep for free in front of TV on the weekend. I vacation to see and experience different things. So that’s the bias of this trip report.

 

If you read my previous report, you will know we take a lot of pictures on vacation. It’s from something I read awhile back which has become my motto – the most expensive picture on the vacation is the one that you didn’t take. Basically the thought is you have spent a lot of money/time/effort to get to wherever your vacation spots are and you don’t want to go home and think – dang, I should have taken a picture ZZZ while I was on vacation. Even if you can go back later on, at the extra cost, the lighting/mood/people will be different and you may never be able to recreate the exact same atmosphere so when in doubt, take the picture.

 

 

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These next two are for you, Ken

 

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Typically sequels suck. That’s because the writer/artist/film maker just repeats the original idea in the sequel and just adds couple twists here and there as they have no new creative ideas. So with that in mind, this report will likely suck as well as I am just repeating/plagiarizing my own work in the sequel – wonder if I can sue myself for 50% of the money I made from the previous trip report?

 

Having said that, I will promise everyone that you will get what you paid for in reading my trip report. Like all great “As seen on TV” Infomercials where they say you will get your money back if not 100% satisfied, I will do the same. If at any time you are dissatisfied with this trip report, you can get your money back from the annual membership subscription you paid to Cruise Critic. Just email them and they will gladly refund your fees.

 

I can see one guy now yelling across the kitchen to his wife – “Honey, this trip report sucks. Where is our credit card bill? I want to email Cruise Critic and demand they refund at least 2 months of our subscription for having to read such lousy trip report”

 

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So it should come as no surprise to anyone that as cheapo dad, I have opted out of all the additional add on features such as (just to name a few of the popular items that RCI tried very very hard to sell to me):

 

 

  • Specialty Dining
  • Drink Packages
  • Internet Access

 

If you are looking for a trip report containing these items, sorry, I didn’t experience them.

 

What I will include are some tips to pass along the newbie cruisers from the mistakes I made as I don’t cruise often enough to know everything.

 

Also being a finance person, I will talk numbers all day and night. So be aware of that as we move forward.

 

 

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Freedom is my favorite ship! I was on October 9 - November 4, before they moved to Ft Lauderdale. Interested in seeing any major differences after the move. Loving the photos! :D Please tell what dish is in post 8 third photo.....making me very hungry!

Edited by cruising grandma

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Two year ago, I wrote a lengthy trip report on the Allure as that was the best cruise we had as a family. So you know we like the big ships, the bigger the better.

 

I remember that report well. I tend to enjoy all reviews and noting the author's perspective helps. We never cruise with kids, but I enjoy reading experiences like yours. I hope to return to Freedom some day in her newer home, so I'm looking forward to reading. Thanks for taking the time.

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Thanks to all for the compliments. Very happy to be cruising again after a two year hiatus. Looking forward to share our cruise experience with everyone going forward.

 

Do note these are the better pics I found in the pile. So do lower expectations going forward. Or another way to look at it is you think these pictures suck, well, have no fear, they get worst from here on. :p

 

Have to go to work and make a living to pay off this cruise and pay for the next one. Will upload more tonight.

 

Cheers!

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Stunning photos! Now I want to sail on the Freedom. Royal might be on the top of my favorite cruise line list (in my very limited experience).

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Yay, Cheapo dad is back! Can't wait to read the rest.

 

We're going on Allure for spring break and I always reference back to your review!

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Oh yah...have been waiting for your report (via recent comments added to your "Cheapo Allure Report") so was so happy to see the link there.

 

I loved your last report...so funny, witty, and I can relate to, let's just call it "saving money". ;) And I highly doubt that this sequel will suck...lol... typical Harry humor. I love it.

 

Can't wait to read more...Thanks for reporting back.

Edited by LuCruise

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Hi, I just found this review and I really love reading people's review of their vacations! I love your pictures too. Since I have never read any of your previous trip reports (plan on going back to read them now though) I will just ask....do you ever label your pictures as to where or what they are? I haven't seen a lot of places, but when I look at your pictures, I would love to know where it is or what it is. Looking forward to reading more! Thank you!

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Hi Harry,

 

So glad you and your extended family enjoyed cruising on Freedom. It seems a very nice and elegant ship.

 

Waiting with the popcorn for the sequels :) Thanks.

 

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, with lots of cruising in the future.

 

Dani

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So it should come as no surprise to anyone that as cheapo dad, I have opted out of all the additional add on features such as (just to name a few of the popular items that RCI tried very very hard to sell to me):

 

 

  • Specialty Dining
  • Drink Packages
  • Internet Access

 

If you are looking for a trip report containing these items, sorry, I didn’t experience them.

 

What I will include are some tips to pass along the newbie cruisers from the mistakes I made as I don’t cruise often enough to know everything.

 

Also being a finance person, I will talk numbers all day and night. So be aware of that as we move forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Harry all I can say is thank you, great pics, great report.....K.O.:)

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Yay! Another Cheapo Dad trip report. I enjoyed your last one. This will be interesting since I will be doing the Eastern Caribbean on Freedom in March.

I am also of the "bean counter" persuasion but am semi-retired and spending my children's inheritance. I do love the way you write. I'd like to learn more about the ship and you take beautiful pictures Harry. I don't buy trinkets, I take pictures. That is my cheapo move.

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