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EeyoreRN

FREEDOM AT LAST!! Semi-live Report 5/26-6/2

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Good evening, fellow cruise critics!

 

We leave tonight for San Juan!  This is us:

 

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Left to right is my 24-year-old daughter (Emma), myself (Dina), my hubby Peter (not making this trip sadly, kinda long story short, he can't miss work) and my 22-year-old son (Joey). This photo was taken last week at the Gateway National Park at the top of the famous arch. Joey and I are doing a pretty good job masking our horror and terror caused by the incredibly rickety tram ride to the top. We were in St. Louis because Joey just finished up earning his undergraduate degree out there, so we went to the commencement festivities. Of course every great graduate deserves a phenomenal present, and Joey earned this cruise! (See how I rationalized that😜?!)

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After much shopping around for airfare, we booked jetBlue non-stop from JFK to SJU.  Our flight was supposed to depart at 10:49 pm, but two texts from jetBlue later, we now have an estimated departure of 12:20 am.  We were just about to leave the house when the first text came.  This is great news actually, as the holiday weekend traffic is peaking right now and it will take a long time to get out there. Peter is driving us from our home an hour north of NYC, via northern Manhattan, where we will pick up Emma at her apartment.Screenshot_20190523-190343.thumb.png.866c624d9e931060b5045804e5e22d28.png

 

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So here's brief overview of what we will be experiencing over the next 10 days:

 

jetBlue RT JFK SJU

Condado Plaza Hilton in San Juan

Friday - Old San Juan 

Saturday -Tour with Ellis in San Juan

Sunday - embarkation lunch at Chops Grille

3 night dinner package

Deluxe Beverage Package x2 and DBP/surf/stream for 1 device

 

Itinerary:

Screenshot_20190523-185102.thumb.png.7baaeb28a43e611b934c556934b56c53.png

 

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Enjoy your cruise.  We are on the same cruise next May 2020.  Look forward to your review.

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Have fun!!! I would love to hear how the Condado Hilton is. Reviews online are not great.

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Looking forward to the review! We are leaving on the Freedom out of San Juan June 2.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk

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2 hours ago, tcmagnum said:

Following...Have a great trip...

Thanks so much and welcome!

 

2 hours ago, umpisoccer said:

Looking forward to your review.  We leave on June 23rd.

Thanks for following!  Hope you enjoy the review!

 

1 hour ago, leetompkins said:

Enjoy your cruise.  We are on the same cruise next May 2020.  Look forward to your review.

 

Enjoy the anticipation part.  We've been planning this one for almost a year.  Let me know if you have any specific questions.

 

55 minutes ago, BNL1213 said:

Have fun!!! I would love to hear how the Condado Hilton is. Reviews online are not great.

Yeah, I saw those reviews, eek! Will be sure to give a pretty detailed report about it.

 

51 minutes ago, SweFlo said:

Looking forward to the review! We are leaving on the Freedom out of San Juan June 2. emoji4.png

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
 

You must be so excited!  Wish we could stay aboard for that itinerary too!

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IMG_20190523_215048.thumb.jpg.972846a7bcc9639c087b1251c775d309.jpg

 

Cheers from JFK!  Security was a breeze and we have a few hours to kill before boarding our late flight.

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So we used a pirate name generator to discover our pirate names, you know, because when in the Caribbean, one uses a pirate name. I am Cap'n Helga Knock-knees.  Emma is Butt-Ugly Bette Scar.  Joey is Pirate Hank the Drunk. We are pleased with our pirate names.

 

And with that, we are getting ready to board the plane.  More from San Juan!

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This installment comes to you live from the 24-hour Denny's in the Condado Plaza Hilton!

 

The flight finally took off at around 1:15, about 2.5 hours late. 

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We were not in any hurry to get to Denny's, so we didn't mind the delay. The flight was full and though we were able to pack all our stuff in carry-ons, they made us check them at the gate (for free) as the overhead bins were already full when we boarded.  Again, no big deal, just had to wait a while for the bags. First photo from San Juan:IMG_20190524_045319.thumb.jpg.f1f82de90f5bbc94adecf695a7dea7b9.jpg

 

For those concerned about ground transport from the airport to your resort, wow!  It is so easy and convenient in this city!  And prices are regulated.  Follow the signs to ground transportation.

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Once you exit you will see a long line of taxis with a dispatcher. Just tell the dispatcher where you're going and he tells you the price and gives you a ticket to hand the driver.  We didn't wait at all (well it looked like our flight was the only arrival at 4:30 am, so ymmv). The drive to the Condado Plaza Hilton was about 15 minutes long and cost $24 plus tip for the 3 of us.

 

Our first impression of the hotel is that it's beautiful!  We stopped at the concierge to see if we could check in.  Too early, come back at 7.

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Posted (edited)

Following along.  Freedom OTS is one of my favorite ships and have traveled on her many times (alright only about 4 but.....).  You're all going to have so much fun.  Congrats to Joey on his graduation.  Can't wait to read more of your adventures!

 

Edited by Surfguyxxx

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What a sweet family!  Sage travels and enjoy your cruise.

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14 minutes ago, Surfguyxxx said:

Following along.  Freedom OTS is one of my favorite ships and have traveled on her many times (alright only about 4 but.....).  You're all going to have so much fun.  Congrats to Joey on his graduation.  Can't wait to read more of your adventures!

 

Thank you so much for your best wishes and positive vibes about Freedom.  This will be our first cruise on this class.

Just now, LuCruise said:

What a sweet family!  Sage travels and enjoy your cruise.

Aw, thanks so much!!  Will do!

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So many months ago I asked the question, what does one do after arriving in San Juan in the middle of the night?  Answer: Denny's!  Which is conveniently located in our hotel. It is open 24 hours and even serves alcohol from it's full bar all day and night.IMG_20190524_052145.thumb.jpg.71336292c6b10a8bc25f4c4ff61ceebc.jpg

 

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There was a prom in the hotel last night so the restaurant is really hopping the am!

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We would love to do a cruise out of SJ but it's soooo complicated and expensive to get to from this side of the pond. :classic_sad:

Looking forward to following your trip report. Have fun! :classic_smile:

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We are on Freedom this fall on a similar itinerary (St Maarten instead of St Thomas), and also staying at the Condado Plaza Hilton, so very much looking forward to your review.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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21 minutes ago, FionaMG said:

We would love to do a cruise out of SJ but it's soooo complicated and expensive to get to from this side of the pond. :classic_sad:

Looking forward to following your trip report. Have fun! :classic_smile:

Thanks for following, Fiona!  Yeah, I could imagine how expensive it must be to get here!  Our flights from NY were much pricier than I expected.  And the hotels here are expensive, too!  Thanks for following!

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3 minutes ago, Reginaldvanpelt said:

Sitting on the  Freedom ots promenade  right now drinking coffee. You’re gonna love this ship!

image.jpg

Ooh two of my favorite things, cruising and coffee! Can't wait!  You hear so many mixed reviews of Freedom, I look forward to assessing her myself.  Thanks for the positive vibes!

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36 minutes ago, EeyoreRN said:

Ooh two of my favorite things, cruising and coffee! Can't wait!  You hear so many mixed reviews of Freedom, I look forward to assessing her myself.  Thanks for the positive vibes!

We’re having a wonderful time! We haven’t experienced any of the negative things I read about leading up to the cruise. St. Martin tomorrow and then sadly, we’re done. It’s been a blast!

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So we sat down in the hopping Denny's around 5:30 am.  The hostess was very sweet and friendly and the server Fernando was too. They couldn't agree on where we should sit and you know we still had all of our bags (a carry-on plus a back pack each) so after we sat down and got all our stuff situated we were asked to move. Lol.  Nbd, 3 hale and hardy adults with a few small bags, right? But we're tired. Like, the kind of tired that makes your brain foggy, your mouth heavy and your bones shiver. I used to work the night shift, and it's that kind of tired I would feel after that final burst of adrenaline enabled me to drive safely home...and then see my bed. So. Tired. We're punchy and cranky from the tired.

 

Most of the breakfast was not good. What do you expect?  Idk, we don't have a local Denny's at home (if we go out to breakfast it's a diner or IHOP or occasionally Cracker Barrel). But I think I expected a good breakfast. Maybe we ordered wrong, you know, from the tired.

 

We ordered coffee, which was delivered in regular-sized Denny's coffee mugs but they were only about a quarter full with what tasted like espresso. Nothing wrong with that, it was actually the best thing about the breakfast, but not what I expected. Is this Puerto Rican coffee? This is not a rhetorical question, I would love to know. Had I been less tired I would have engaged Fernando in a conversation about that coffee. When he delivered the mugs I thought they were empty and we're waiting for a coffee pot.  Eventually realized the serving of coffee was there but so small.

 

For food, Joey was in the mood for the boneless chicken wings with Bleu cheese. They came out with no sauce. Well we think the menu didn't specify buffalo sauce but the photo certainly implied there would be some kind of sauce on there. Joey's fine but sauceless, boneless wings:IMG_20190524_060746.thumb.jpg.7c04a4fd1589a95f710be7e29ea3bc15.jpg

 

Emma has celiac disease and always appreciates when a restaurant serves gluten free bread products, so she ordered an egg breakfast with a gluten free English muffin. She was pleased with her choice.

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I have been eating virtually carb free for more than a year (except on vacation, and this vacation is no exception😜), so today was they day I couldn't decide between pancakes or hash browns with cheese. Joey convinced me I should get both and not to worry, he'd help.

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You can't tell from the photo, but the pancakes were hard on one side, like a poster board that has one solid side with that spongy foam the rest of the way through. They tasted fine, and again, I was thinking maybe this is a cultural thing? I mean, perhaps in Puerto Rico they like their pancakes a little crispy like we eat waffles?

 

But those hash browns with cheese!? Seriously, there is no excuse for why they couldn't simply melt the cheese over the top...or at least serve the hash browns hot so the cheese would melt. You know these days I really need to make my carbs count.  Bad idea I should have ordered an omlette. In this photo you can also appreciate the coffee mugs, which you now know are virtually empty.

 

The whole experience put us back about $48 with the tip, but the service was delightful and we killed time until 7 when we could check in for tonight. We won't be returning to Denny's, unless we are craving mimosas or shots of tequila at 5 am, not because it was bad or way overpriced, but because we are in San Juan, and who wants to go to Denny's in San Juan? Once it served it's purpose for us. Glad there was an open place and some warm smiles.

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Posted (edited)

We checked in at 7 am, but our room isn't ready yet. The staff here are all very welcoming and helpful. They took our bags and tagged them so we're not lugging them around.  Not that Emma or Joey  would be lugging anything at all.  While I was writing my thoughts on Denny's, this happened:

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I love the smell of the lobby. It reminds me of Disney's Polynesian Village resort. So far I have not noticed any musty smell (I have read about in reviews), only smells that are extremely pleasant and relaxing to me. The ocean, the pool, flowers....we shall see about the room.

 

Going to snap some photos around the place now.

 

Edited by EeyoreRN

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You must be our clones! We're also about an hour north of Manhattan, we're also going on the Freedom (in August at the end of the summer vacation), and we're also staying at the Condado Plaza beforehand! Really looking forward to hearing more about your trip... (Our kids are a bit younger though -- 15 and 12.)

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