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harryfat1

Cheapo dad's trip report on Freedom of the Seas

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I will bow to the gangplank that person walks on as that’s the ultimate planner!

 

Harry, I have someone you need to meet. You can share "ideas".;) I will not embarrass this fellow CCer, but we cruised with them this past November. Chris, it isn't you but if this individual happens to come along they will know it is about them.

 

Clothes are lined up in the closet to days of the week, all colour coridinated. Highlighter in the pool bag, and spread sheet on the cabin door etc. I hear rumour that they have similar sheets at home etc.

 

You two might have great intel to share. :D

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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.

 

 

I am enjoying your Trip Report. I will be sailing on the Freedom in Feb 2017. I also take a lot of pictures when I cruise, in this age of technology I take pictures of anything and everything because it is free pictures. By that I mean that it cost you nothing to take the pictures and it cost nothing to develop the pictures, so why not take a lot of pictures to remember your vacation. :D

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So I wish we could take credit for some of the nice pictures of the trip but the work is really done by the phones. We just push the big round button (dummies using smart phones).

 

 

Harry - Don't sell yourself short. The camera is only part of the equation. YOU still need to compose the shot. :)

 

I once saw a quote in a photography discussion board...saying to a photographer, "That's a great picture, you must have a nice camera" is like saying to a Chef, "That was a great meal, you must have a nice set of pots and pans".

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Hi Harry! I'm very excited for your trip report, we we on the freedom just before your trip, from December 10-18. I was looking for you and your family as we departed to tell you how much I enjoyed the Allure report and wish you a merry Christmas, but sadly did not spot you.

We took b2b cruises on Harmony and Freedom this December, both were equally fantastic for their own reasons. For example the harmony felt less crowded, but it was easier to get around the ship on freedom.

Your pics are stunning, you've got a great eye for photography. Looking forward to seeing the ship again from another perspective!

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

Hi,

 

Hope you had fun on your Freedom cruise. It’s nearly impossible to spot anyone in the terminal with all the people and the departing/arriving passengers are separated. Thanks for the effort to find us.

 

We were in our typical Hawaiian shirt for boarding, as you will see when I get to Day 1 of the report.

 

I can’t take all the credit for the pictures. My wife is the main photographer for the family so many of these pictures are from her – I stole them to upload on CC, Shhhh, don’t tell her that…

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Do you still have the email address to send the request? Thanks!

 

It's RCLDining@rccl.com.

 

On the Allure, I emailed them too early and they said they can't take any requests until about 50 before your sailing. This time, I emailed them around day 49.

 

Who's counting, right?

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Harry, I have someone you need to meet. You can share "ideas".;) I will not embarrass this fellow CCer, but we cruised with them this past November. Chris, it isn't you but if this individual happens to come along they will know it is about them.

 

Clothes are lined up in the closet to days of the week, all colour coridinated. Highlighter in the pool bag, and spread sheet on the cabin door etc. I hear rumour that they have similar sheets at home etc.

 

You two might have great intel to share. :D

 

Haha, I would be honored to meet the master planner. I'm not very organized. Really. My desk space is a mess and I mis-place many things.

 

I do all this planning because I can't think well on my feet on the fly with everyone depending on me to guide them so I try to have things planned ahead of time to reduce the real time vacation stress.

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I am enjoying your Trip Report. I will be sailing on the Freedom in Feb 2017. I also take a lot of pictures when I cruise, in this age of technology I take pictures of anything and everything because it is free pictures. By that I mean that it cost you nothing to take the pictures and it cost nothing to develop the pictures, so why not take a lot of pictures to remember your vacation. :D

 

Exactly. Especially with memory cards being dirt cheap now, you can spend $20 for a card and take thousands of pictures.

 

Another way to look at it is pictures are the cheapest souvenirs you can buy from your vacation.

 

Now the hard part for us is we have 4 cell phones and 4 cameras so when we get home and try to combine them into a slideshow to watch, that becomes A LOT of work. Then you say, well, maybe next vacation we should take less pictures. But we never do...

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Harry - Don't sell yourself short. The camera is only part of the equation. YOU still need to compose the shot. :)

 

I once saw a quote in a photography discussion board...saying to a photographer, "That's a great picture, you must have a nice camera" is like saying to a Chef, "That was a great meal, you must have a nice set of pots and pans".

 

Thanks for the compliment.

 

As I just posted, my wife is the main photographer of the house. She has the SLR and I don't get to use it much as it's her baby. I use the mega zoom bridge camera that has some fun features I think people will enjoy when I start posting those pictures.

 

Indoors the cell phones are just amazing in capturing the colors of the Promenade.

 

Anybody can take these pictures, just need to always have a phone or camera with you and whip it out constantly. I have a self timer in my head in that if I walked for more than 15 minutes without taking a picture, then it's time to do so.

 

It's like "saving" your files at work. If you don't remember the last time you saved your Excel or Word doc, then it's time to save it again.

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Another thing you can request info for is to know who will be performers for your cruise. This can be asked couple weeks prior to sailing so you can Google/YouTube the performers to see if their entertainment venue is what you like to hear. This is what I received from the ship:

 

 

 

Dear Harry:

 

Thank you for your email.

 

The Broadway-style Theater onboard the Freedom of the Seas is the place to go for entertainment onboard. Royal Caribbean Productions, our own in-house production company, brings together world-class talent to put on some incredible shows for your enjoyment. The theater is also where to go to enjoy our special guest performers. We bring a wide selection of the best talent, from well-known bands and vocalists to jugglers, magicians, standup comedians, and more.

 

The entertainment provided onboard is below.

 

12/18/2016 Ice Act: Kenneth Scott Smith

12/18/2016 Schooner Bar Entertainer: Andy Cruickshank

12/18/2016 Pub Guitarist: Julian Mayer

12/18/2016 Comedian: Lucas Bohn

12/19/2016 Production Show

12/20/2016 Magic Illusionist: Drew Thomas

12/21/2016 Headliner Group: Alley Cats

12/22/2016 Production Show

12/23/2016 Farewell Comedian: Ross Bennett

 

Check your Cruise Compass for the full entertainment schedule once you are onboard the ship.

 

Thank you for choosing Royal Caribbean International. We look forward to welcoming you aboard the Freedom of the Seas later this month.

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Hi Harry - what a great start to your review!

I was on the Freedom in November, and about 50 days out from sailing her again, so your amazing pictures and commentary are helping me relive the memories and look forward to creating new one's!

Following this thread for sure :D:D

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Why this cruise?

 

I am sure NOBODY cares on why we selected this sailing since everyone only care when they are cruising. But I am sure there are parents/family dads/moms who understand what I am about to say. Unless you have kids in year round school, your choice of non-summer sailings is pretty limited.

 

In our school district area, kids only have 2 weeks off during Christmas break and we all know the outrageous prices the cruise ship charges for sailing over Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Cheapo parents need not apply for those sailings.

 

That only leaves the week before Christmas as the only viable family cruising time. Two years ago, I had to pull the boys out of school for now week in order to sail on the Allure. But then they have to go back to school and take make up tests and homework afterward. Way to much disruption in their school life. Bad Bad dad.

 

This was one of the very few cruises that we can take and not really miss any school time (We pulled them put one day early, whatever) and not have to pay premium for Christmas Sailings. Only drawback is it’s only 6 days. Such is life.

 

Of course, the flip side is almost every kid and their cousin in US schools has the same week off and they have cheapo parents also and they booked this cruise looking for the same savings. As a result, the ship is packed to the rafters.

 

At the muster drill, they announced there are 4,416 passengers on our sailings. Given the standard double capacity of the Freedom is around 3,782, we are sailing at 117% of normal capacity. This is higher than the 105% fleet wide average sailing rate for 2015 as reported on their 10K. They also announced there were over 1,000 kids under age of 17 on the cruise – we contributed 2 to that number. But that makes the ship feels more crowded when it’s within 98% of the theoretical max of 4,500+.

 

Another way to look at it is that the ship is only 1,000 people less than the Oasis double occupancy of 5,400 but Freedom has less space to disburse the crowd.

 

Which you would expect given it’s the holidays and the big family gatherings are very common. In looking at the various pictures plastered on the walls at the Photo area, there are many groups/families of 10+. Our group of 6 is considered small by comparison. So if you don’t like kids and big family gatherings (pet peeve of mine is they have a big family stopping right at the choke point of any walk way to discuss what they want to do next – Move, people. Sit down and talk or move aside).

 

Here is the route/itinerary for the sailing. Never done a 6 day cruise before and don’t think I will ever again. Too short. But we have no choices as day 7 would have been Christmas day and they want to kick everyone off the ship on Christmas Eve so they can bring in the real big spenders for the Christmas cruise.

 

 

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Hi Harry - what a great start to your review!

I was on the Freedom in November, and about 50 days out from sailing her again, so your amazing pictures and commentary are helping me relive the memories and look forward to creating new one's!

Following this thread for sure :D:D

 

Hi,

 

Thank you for the compliment. Actually, I should thank you as well since I followed your thread as part of my cruise preparation. I should have "de-cloaked" and say thank you instead of lurking in the dark. Bad habit.

 

Hopefully these pictures will trigger some fond memory of your November cruise. I'll aim to finish this trip report before your next sailing in 50 days. :p

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Hi,

 

Thank you for the compliment. Actually, I should thank you as well since I followed your thread as part of my cruise preparation. I should have "de-cloaked" and say thank you instead of lurking in the dark. Bad habit.

 

Hopefully these pictures will trigger some fond memory of your November cruise. I'll aim to finish this trip report before your next sailing in 50 days. :p

 

That's great! Glad you liked the Live report - although my photography skills are not at the same level as yours.....AND I use a smart phone......:rolleyes::p

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..... What do you rate yourself? From my own self-assessment, I think I am in the 9+ column. In theory, anyone who is reading trip reports and researching these boards are at least a 6+ on the scale as if you are totally care free and play it by ear, why are you reading this? Just trying to perhaps improve your cruise by 0.03% with the extra knowledge?

 

I would be interested to hear some feedbacks from the community on what your self-assessment is.

 

Now for the cruise planning in reading the various cruise critics’ posts, how many hours are you spending here?

 

Hi Harry,

 

Since you promised -- speaking of quantity ....

 

I'd rate myself around 7, leaving something to be "played by the ear". Also, I don't know Excell...

 

I think that since I've discovered CC (5 years after "discovering" TripAdvisor), my cruising experience (also my "cheapo" one :)) has vastly improved.

 

Since I'm almost retired, and my only grandson is 3 months old and living far from us, I have time to spend on CC (at least 2 hours a day). I'm looking at those hours as a means to make money... Only 2 weeks ago, after reading about the latest sale of every 3rd night free, I've saved 400$ on a 13 days cruise !!! Also, someone on my roll call posted about savings on hotels in Porto Rico. Sent an email to my already booked hotel, and they adjusted the rate -- saved 52$. Earning money by reading CC.

 

I've discovered the "hump" cabins by reading here. Now, I'm booking, or trying to follow every day until one of those cabins becomes available, and grab it.

 

I could go on and on... when my upcoming cruise was chartered (what where the odds when u cruise once in a year???), I've asked CC for advice. Bob (Clarea) graciously advised not to cancel the booking until approached by RC. Got 200$ for waiting.

 

I enjoy also the humorous replies by Bella's father (John&LaLa), Andrew, Biker, Merion-Mom, etc. A good laugh is priceless :D

 

Since you mentioned quality over quantity I'll stop here, but for me -- reading those boards and trip reports is very rewarding -- financially and spiritually.

 

A very happy new year for everyone :)

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Exactly. Especially with memory cards being dirt cheap now, you can spend $20 for a card and take thousands of pictures.

 

Another way to look at it is pictures are the cheapest souvenirs you can buy from your vacation.

 

Now the hard part for us is we have 4 cell phones and 4 cameras so when we get home and try to combine them into a slideshow to watch, that becomes A LOT of work. Then you say, well, maybe next vacation we should take less pictures. But we never do...

 

 

I know how that can be. Over the last 10 years when we cruise that amount of pictures that we have taken has increase each time. On our last cruise on the Harmony of the Seas out of Barcelona there were 24 of us and we took a combine total of over 47,000 pictures, this was over a 8 day period. It took me a couple of months to pick out 2789 of the best and put in a slideshow with music for the family. The show was over 3hrs long, but everyone enjoyed the trip and the memories. Maybe on the next cruise I will take less pictures. :D

Edited by Dragonkeper

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  Given the standard double capacity of the Freedom is around 3,782, we are sailing at 117% of normal capacity. This is higher than the 105% fleet wide average sailing rate for 2015 as reported on their 10K.

You'd have to be a 9+ on anality scale to read RCI's 10K SEC filing.

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Thank you for your informative and witty review.* I have learned a couple things that I want to check on for my Feb 2017 Freedom cruise.* I had know idea that you could request where to sit at dinner.* I will have to check with my fellow cruisers to see what they would like.* My preference is by a window off in a corner away from the hustle and bustle.* Advance info on the entertainers is a also a great tip!* We are 37 days out so we should be able to get this info, right?

 

I am right there with you in regards to being cheapo/frugal, anal and an avid Excel user.* I started planning my upcoming cruise about 2 years ago complete with a spreadsheet comparing price per day per person per square foot of cabin space across several cruise lines for a 7-9 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise.* I wanted a junior suite if the price was within my budget as this trip is for our 20th anniversary.* I watched rates weekly for months until I found the 2/4/17 Freedom with an awesome deal.* I also tracked airline rates for several months prior to booking through Royal Caribbean.* Since we are flying instead of driving, I am now planning how little clothing to bring because I'd rather not pay baggage fees.

 

When we sailed on Jewel 10 years ago, they had the day of the week on the floor of one of the elevators.* We used that as a photo opportunity to organize pictures.* Does Freedom have that?

 

I look forward to redirect get the rest of your review as the next 37 days pass by,

 

Sharon

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Forums mobile app

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Thank you for your informative and witty review.* I have learned a couple things that I want to check on for my Feb 2017 Freedom cruise.* I had know idea that you could request where to sit at dinner.* I will have to check with my fellow cruisers to see what they would like.* My preference is by a window off in a corner away from the hustle and bustle.* Advance info on the entertainers is a also a great tip!* We are 37 days out so we should be able to get this info, right?

 

I am right there with you in regards to being cheapo/frugal, anal and an avid Excel user.* I started planning my upcoming cruise about 2 years ago complete with a spreadsheet comparing price per day per person per square foot of cabin space across several cruise lines for a 7-9 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise.* I wanted a junior suite if the price was within my budget as this trip is for our 20th anniversary.* I watched rates weekly for months until I found the 2/4/17 Freedom with an awesome deal.* I also tracked airline rates for several months prior to booking through Royal Caribbean.* Since we are flying instead of driving, I am now planning how little clothing to bring because I'd rather not pay baggage fees.

 

When we sailed on Jewel 10 years ago, they had the day of the week on the floor of one of the elevators.* We used that as a photo opportunity to organize pictures.* Does Freedom have that?

 

I look forward to redirect get the rest of your review as the next 37 days pass by,

 

Sharon

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Forums mobile app

Oops. I'm not sure how all the asterisks got in my post.

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Forums mobile app

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I know how that can be. Over the last 10 years when we cruise that amount of pictures that we have taken has increase each time. On our last cruise on the Harmony of the Seas out of Barcelona there were 24 of us and we took a combine total of over 47,000 pictures, this was over a 8 day period. It took me a couple of months to pick out 2789 of the best and put in a slideshow with music for the family. The show was over 3hrs long, but everyone enjoyed the trip and the memories. Maybe on the next cruise I will take less pictures. :D

 

Wow, 47,000 pictures. I bow to your cameras and hard drives.

 

So assume you took pictures 17 hours a day during the waking hours (we don’t want to know the pictures you take in your night time activity in your cabin, this is a family thread) X 8 day cruise = 136 hours. Take 47,000 divide by 136 waking hours on your cruise, that’s 345 pictures per hour or almost 6 pictures every minute.

 

Thus, in theory if you just walked across the RP in a 3 minute period, you would have averaged 18 pictures or if you ate dinner at MDR for 2 hours, you would have taken an average of 600+ pictures during dinner.

 

Impressive.

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You'd have to be a 9+ on anality scale to read RCI's 10K SEC filing.

 

Haha, anal as charged.

 

Although in my self-defense, I do want to point out that I am a shareholder of both Carnival and RCI stocks so I do read their annual info to see how well the companies are doing.

 

Also, I work in Finance department for corporate America and all public traded companies must prepare annual 10Ks, so I not only have to read them, I have to prepare and calculate the numbers that goes on the 10K in order to make a living to go on cruises.

 

So yeah, my job involves 10Ks and the various footnote disclosures. This is why I enjoy writing these trip reports. Much more fun than Excel spreadsheets.

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Thank you for your informative and witty review.* I have learned a couple things that I want to check on for my Feb 2017 Freedom cruise.* I had know idea that you could request where to sit at dinner.* I will have to check with my fellow cruisers to see what they would like.* My preference is by a window off in a corner away from the hustle and bustle.* Advance info on the entertainers is a also a great tip!* We are 37 days out so we should be able to get this info, right?

 

I am right there with you in regards to being cheapo/frugal, anal and an avid Excel user.* I started planning my upcoming cruise about 2 years ago complete with a spreadsheet comparing price per day per person per square foot of cabin space across several cruise lines for a 7-9 night Eastern Caribbean Cruise.* I wanted a junior suite if the price was within my budget as this trip is for our 20th anniversary.* I watched rates weekly for months until I found the 2/4/17 Freedom with an awesome deal.* I also tracked airline rates for several months prior to booking through Royal Caribbean.* Since we are flying instead of driving, I am now planning how little clothing to bring because I'd rather not pay baggage fees.

 

When we sailed on Jewel 10 years ago, they had the day of the week on the floor of one of the elevators.* We used that as a photo opportunity to organize pictures.* Does Freedom have that?

 

I look forward to redirect get the rest of your review as the next 37 days pass by,

 

Sharon

 

Sent from my SM-T530NU using Forums mobile app

 

Hi, Sharon,

 

Thank you for the kind words. Glad the info is helpful.

 

I’m not sure you can get entertainment info this far out. I was told they only have them few weeks out but the table assignment is within the 50 day window so you can certainly request that now.

 

Depending on your dining time, if it’s 8 PM in February, chances are it will be pitch black outside so there’s not much to see during dinner. We sat by railing but there’s no foot traffic to speak of as we were by the side and there’s a step down for the railing tables so it’s not part of the walk way for people to go in and out.

 

Yes, they still have the days of the week in the elevators. We also use them as a break for our dividers.

 

Let me know if you need anything else.

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Day Minus 2

 

I will keep the cruise lexicon in naming my report based on sailing days. One thing about cruises is that you don’t have days of the week concept – only day X of your cruise. Back in the real world, you track Mondays versus Friday when it comes to work life but on cruise, it’s based on “if it’s day 2, then it’s probably a formal night” concept.

 

So as part of the “make up“ for a shorter cruise, I opted for 2 nights pre cruise in FLL instead of the typical 1 night. Of course, it helps that the airfares are cheaper to fly out of SFO on Friday than Saturday such that I can have the hotel pays for itself in terms of lower airfare for 4 by flying out 1 day earlier. Oh, yeah, there’s that’s minor issue of having to take kids out of school 1 day early. Bad cheapo dad.

 

At any rate, in real world lingo, day minus 2 equals Thursday. Now for those of us, who are working stiffs, you know the joy and happiness of walking out of the door of your work area very Friday night with car keys in your hand and you are all happy that you have the weekend ahead of you. Now take that happiness feeling and multiply that by 3X when you are walking out of work/going on vacation/not coming back until after Christmas. That is pure happiness and excitement.

 

Now being a finance person, my thought is only if I can bottle this feeling and add it in a bottle of water and sell it for $2.50. I would make millions/billions. Who wouldn’t want to feel this happy daily and with all the natural ingredients compared to all the bad energy drinks with chemical and bad side effects out there? Pay $2.50 and get the happiness of going on a cruise in a bottle? Are you kidding me? I want a case of that! Cheapo dad is going to be rich and might even splurge and pay for Internet on the cruise – well, maybe not...

 

 

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Even though I booked this cruise over 12 months ago and you would think I have more than enough time to be ready. Nope. Always last minute packing and stuff to do that you can’t zip up the suitcase until the last day. My in-laws live about an hour away so my wife picked them up in the morning so they can spend the night with us as it’s easier to go to the airport from our house.

 

So by time I got home on Thursday night, the house was buzzing with excitement with last minute packing and us going through the packing list to make sure we didn’t forget anything important.

 

It was raining buckets the whole day with the biggest storm of the season hitting the bay area but it was supposed to be cleared the next day so I wasn’t too concerned but didn’t realized at the time, it would impact us somehow the next day.

 

 

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