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BNL1213

Freedom of the seas review 6-23 to 6-30

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Hello all! I was on CC for weeks (ok, months!) prior to our cruise getting as much detail as I could about our southern carribean cruise, so I thought I’d give a detailed review for those traveling on FOS soon. For now, this will just be extremely text heavy and then I’ll come back on tomorrow to add photos!

 

This trip was just me and my 16 yo son, so I’ll also get into the teen scene on the ship.

 

Friday, June 23

We departed Boston on a mid afternoon flight nonstop to San Juan, which was so quick and easy, I wouldn’t book any other way to San Juan, if I’m lucky enough to go back! SJU is a small easy airport to navigate, we got our luggage quickly and went outside to get a taxi. They have a great system where you just walk up to a taxi desk, tell them your hotel, get a slip of paper with your rate on it and then they put you right into a cab. No waiting, no confusion. 

 

We arrived at our hotel in about 15-20 minutes, which was the Hilton Condado Plaza. I will quickly go through my overall thoughts and impressions of the hotel:

 

Pros:

very pretty lobby

great front desk people at check in 

amazing pool area with swim up bar

very pretty grounds with lawn games

spectacular views

excellent waitstaff in Cafe Caribe restaurant

reasonably priced, paid approx $250 per night

 

Cons:

Room needs serious update and deep clean, tiled floor that felt greasy

rooms are cleaned every other day, which meant we checked in Friday and checked out Sunday, so our room was never cleaned during our stay

Dirty balcony with old furniture

deluxe room “with view” was only a view of a dirty rooftop

very very very expensive food that was really basic quality - most expensive dinner and breakfast we paid all week. More detail below.

dennys is mediocre service and very high prices

largely empty under-utilized spaces, bars that were closed all weekend that couldve been cool little spots to hang out

overall impression was that it was very understaffed, but with some attention/renovation could be a fantastic place to stay. I didn’t see this as still being in hurricane recovery, I saw this as neglect and staffing issues.

 

It was around 8pm by the time we arrived and checked in and we were starving so we quickly dropped our bags and headed to Cafe Caribe. The staff there was great and so friendly. They sat us by the window, and although it was dark at this point we could see the waves crashing below. The restaurant had a full, good size bar and a ton of tables but was actually surprisingly empty. I thought there would be more people there since the hotel was sold out.

I ordered a glass of cava and checked out the menu which was a pretty good mix of American and Puerto Rican dishes. We stuck with a simple meal.... mozzarella sticks, chicken fajitas and fettuccini Alfredo. Everything was good, typical, a little boring...but we ordered boring so I wasn’t surprised. My shock was when the bill showed up. Wowzah! $85 with tip. I will say again though, that the service there was great. There were not many people there so we got a ton of attention. So overall I didn’t mind the high price. Was just surprised....

 

After dinner, we explored the resort a bit, and then swung back into Cafe Caribe and ordered a little ice cream from the counter there. They had quite a few flavors and toppings! So we ate our ice cream and called it a night.

 

Saturday June 22nd

Woke up early and walked outside to Starbucks (next door to hotel) for coffee. We decided we would just hang out by pool until early afternoon, then go to Old San Juan to explore the forts. But first, we had a big breakfast at the Denny’s on-site, to get filled up for the day and then later we would just go for an early dinner in OSJ. We both ordered the ham, egg and cheese sandwich and a drink. Paid about $50. Again, a bit shocked at the price, especially for breakfast, but the food was ok. Decided at this point though, that I was done with eating at the resort.

 

We arrived at pool around 10. Again, it’s a great pool area. They had about 5 umbrellas in the pool area and all were taken, being held with clothes/towels. I asked if it was possible to get an umbrella at our chairs but was told no. Oh well. We hung out for a while, enjoying the pool. It was HOT, so lots of swimming and sun blocking. The swim up bar opened at 11. Great frozen drinks that were not skimpy on the booze! Very relaxing time there, a highlight of our stay! We were going to split our time between pool and the little beach, but when i went to check out the beach it was wall to wall people and umbrellas! So we just decided to stay put. I guess we left the pool around 2pm, changed, and took an Uber to Castillo San Felipe del Morro. It was a very quick ride, maybe 10-15 mins, and probably would’ve been less but we sat in some traffic pulling up to the fort. Cost was around $8.

 

We wandered around the fort checking out each level. The views were spectacular! It was really breezy which helped with the heat. We even ran into a huge iguana just sunning himself on one of the walls of the fort!  We then walked to Castillo San Cristobel, which is about a 15 minute walk, and did the same wandering around there. This fort had a lot inside to check out, like dungeons and tunnels. Very cool!

 

Overall, I would say we spent about 45min - 1 hour at each spot and that was REALLY taking our time and taking a ton of photos. 

 

From there we we walked to La Fortaleza street to check out the umbrellas. There was a lot going on there and it was crowded, almost had a festival feel to it. But not too crowded that we didn’t get to enjoy and take pics. We then walked to Cortes Chocobar for dinner. It was absolutely outstanding and half the cost of what we paid at the resort. Great service, great food. Omg the milkshakes......we left there so full!

 

After dinner we headed back to resort. Wandered around again since it was Saturday night. Not a lot going on inside here, so weird. Pool area was active with families swimming. We decided to chill out in the room because we had an early Sunday morning rainforest tour and then of course boarding our ship!!! 

 

I think from here on out, I’ll make each day it’s own post. So Sunday is below!

 

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A great start keep it coming. sailed on Freedom of the Seas before and will be nice to see how she is doing now.

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Looking forward to hearing more

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Sunday, June 23

 

We had scheduled a rainforest tour to take prior to boarding our cruise, so we could see just a little more of San Juan. And wow, was I glad we did! Months ago, I had reached out to Tour with Ellis to book, but he was going to be on vacation while we were there so he referred me to Albeny Medina, who was very good at communicating all of our choices and narrowing down exactly what we wanted to do. We chose the 4 hour rainforest tour for $65 per person. 

 

We woke around 8am and ran to Starbucks to grab some coffee and pastries. Our pick up was scheduled for 9am right in front of the hotel. I checked us out and left our luggage for the day with the porter, (who was also the front desk clerk, checking people in and out, so there was a bit of wait for this) who gave us a ticket and let us know we could come back anytime to get it. No time limit.

 

As we waited, I got a call from Benny. He was a little difficult to understand but what I could gather was that he said he was on his way, and just a few minutes away.  Shortly after, a gorgeous big black Mercedes van pulled up. A gentleman named Martin got out and introduced himself and told us we were going with him. This made me a little nervous and I asked where Benny was, as we had been in quite a bit of contact and he never mentioned he wouldn’t be doing our tour, plus i don’t believe he mentioned it on the phone a few minutes ago. Again, that could’ve been me not understanding his accent. Martin assured me he would take very good care of us. So we hopped in and off we went to another hotel to pick up two more people who would be joining us for the tour. Martin was born in New York but is Puerto Rican and has lived there since he was a kid. Being from Boston, we gave him a little  lip about NY sports team and he gave it right back to us. At this point, I knew we would have a fun day. 

 

So we picked up two women and were soon zooming down the highway towards El Yunque National rainforest. I would say the ride was 30+ minutes. Martin did a great job explaining the views and various vegetation along the way, and once in the rainforest, he said how it has been since the hurricane and what is still in recovery.  The roads were especially damaged but still driveable just bumpy. Our first stop was Yokahu observation tower. Martin hopped out and immediately took our phone and started taking photos of us in front of the tower. He knew where to have us stand to get the best shots! We climbed the tower while he waited below. I thought the climb would be worse than it was, but it was not too difficult at all. We stopped a few times on the way up to take photos out the little windows. There was a great breeze blowing in through the windows too, which helped keep it cool. The view up top was so gorgeous. Rainforest all around us and the ocean off in the distance. It was so worth the quick climb! We took a ton of photos and made our way back down. Martin explained a little about the area and tower. We took some more photos and then headed to La Coca Falls. It was a beautiful waterfall that you could climb up some rocks to get some better views. Now this climb was a little more treacherous and I was glad we had worn our Keens. You need to be in decent shape to climb the rocks, to be able to pull yourself up and keep steady. From far below, Marin took pics of us high on the rocks near the top of the waterfall. Climbing back down was even more treacherous and I actually climbed down on my butt a few times which made it way easier. Again, the view and waterfall was very much worth it. This was probably about an hour here between both stops.

 

Our next stop was a river/pool area named Las Damas in the mameyes river. This area seemed to be really popular with the locals, as there were a lot of families there with picnics on the banks. We played around in the deep pool areas of the river and climbed on the rocks. Again so happy we wore keens since it was really rocky. Martin held onto our phones and continually snapped photos of us playing around. He used some of the rocks to make different color pastes and drew clay “tattoos” on us. He had clean fresh towels for us to use and dry off, handed us bottles of water without us asking....Honest to god, he was one of the best tour guides of our trip. It was like hanging out with a friend all day. A friend that waited on you hand and foot!

 

When we were done there, maybe an hour or so, he asked us what we wanted to do for lunch and if we were interested in trying some authentic Puerto Rican food. Ummmm YES! So he drove us to this little road side hut that had all sorts of empanadas they were making onsite, plus all this fresh fruit you could buy, and smoothies they would make to order. They had a lot of bbq, meats,etc. My normally very picky son got a crab empanada with some white rice and fried plantains. And inhaled it. Except the plantains which he handed over to me (yay!). I got bbq wings, spare ribs and rice/beans. We both got fresh fruit smoothies. This lunch was absolutely outstanding. We got a ton of food and I think spent less than $20 for both of us. We sat eating and chatting. I was trying some different hot sauces with my rice. Oof, some were literally fire in my mouth! It was a great day so far! But sadly our tour was coming to an end. Martin dropped us back at the hotel soon after  at exactly 1pm and we said our goodbyes. I am still in disarray with unpacking but will definitely come across his contact info for anyone who wants to book and will post here. I can’t highly recommend him enough!

 

We quickly grabbed our bags from the porter and ordered an Uber. I will say that Uber’s in San Juan are so easy and fast. You need to be ready to go when you order because we found that each Uber was maybe a 2 minute wait. If that....

 

anyway, into the Uber we go.... and this is where I really started to bounce in my seat with excitement because two minutes into the ride i spotted my ship! We were there in five minutes and into the mayhem of boarding. We quickly found our baggage drop line which was according to deck #. The line moved quickly and we dropped and went to check in.

 

I need to back up here and give a small complaint about Royals website. I was completely unable to print my sail pass online. I called them numerous times to fix it, and they assured me it would be ready to print the next day, only to have it be the same thing day after day, phone call after phone call. I had completely finished every tiny check in detail so i know that wasn’t the issue, i was just never able to click the link to print our passes, it was always grayed out. I had a feeling this may hold us up for a bit in the boarding process and boy it sure did. So before we entered the terminal, I had to get a temporary boarding slip. Then when we got to the counter we had to fill out and redo all the check in paperwork again. They also tried to tell me I had a $260 balance that needed to be paid. I, of course knew this was not the case, and didn’t want to sign anything that agreed to that balance. I couldn’t board the ship unless i signed off on it but they wouldn’t charge me right away, they directed me to go to the customer service deck to straighten out. It wasn’t a great start because I was so annoyed, since all of this I know was their website issues wasting my time. A LOT of time.  My son was super helpful here because i was pissed and he just kept it in perspective that it’s not the customer service persons fault, it was a website issue that they have no control over. Thank god he kept me in check because I’d say it took us more than two hours to get through this whole process and get it straightened out. A lot of standing in lines..... telling and retelling my issue. If i was pissed that whole time it would’ve ruined the start to my trip so i just tried to be reeeeaaalllllly patient. I luckily was finally helped by the manager at the service desk and she wouldn’t give up until she figured out what caused the charge. We finally narrowed it down based on the amount of the charge. Come to find out, I had originally booked and paid for the Key, then realized about a month before our sail date that it was probably a waste of money so cancelled it and just booked the voom internet for two devices for $130. So saving myself approx $130, which was credited back to my credit card within a few days of cancellation. Well, I guess royal still wanted me to pay for that key. So it showed I owed that full amount. Once we figured it out, she was able to clear the charge and we were finally on our way. Let the vacation begin!

 

We made our way first to our room to drop our stuff and get me a much needed drink! We checked out our room and balcony. I had never booked a balcony room before and had booked a guarantee at a great price, which ended up being on the 6th deck, starboard side between midship and forward. I found out our cabin # about a month prior. It was just a standard sized room but i was so excited to see what a good size the balcony actually was. It was a great sized room for the two of us! When we got there our beds were already separated and everything we needed was there like all of our excursion tickets were in an envelope, our drink cups, and the invitation to the CC meet and greet, (which we missed, ooops). I had pre-booked the deluxe beverage package just a couple of weeks before the trip after swearing for months I would just pay per drink since I couldn’t imagine spending more than the $47 per day, especially being off the ship so much every day. Well needless to say, I was sooooooooo glad I did and definitely surpassed that amount by far every day between multiple glasses of sparkling wine, frozen cocktails, coffee, shakes, and a ton of bottled water. My son just got the basic soda package and was happy. The soda station near us by Sorrentos pizza was out of coke and sprite for the entire week, which was weird. But he made do with all the other options they had.

 

As we were checking out the promenade they had folks there getting passengers signed up for dining packages. They talked me into doing the chefs table on Thursday night. My son had no interest in joining and I thought it would be a good time to do our own thing for dinner since we would maybe be sick of each other by then! They wrote out a slip for my reservation and told me someone would call to confirm the reservation within a day or two. 

 

We we wandered around the ship some more and ended up on the sports deck playing mini golf and ping pong for a while. My son was in awe of the sports deck. We quickly went and got him registered for the teen club so he could join the activities on the sports deck when he wanted to.

 

i think it was probably around 6pm by now and I wanted to go shower and get ready for our My Time Dining at 7:45. We were still in our rainforest hiking clothes so were ready to get cleaned up!  We we met our room attendant Muhammad on our way back who was a complete doll. 

 

Once we we were getting ready I quickly realized that sharing a small room and bathroom with my teenson will cause some privacy issues. So I wrote this long note to Muhammad explaining our issue and begged for two bathrobes even though i knew only longtime loyal royals got those and this was our first time on a royal ship. I also attached to $20 to the note and crossed my fingers.

 

We left the room and headed to dinner. Our my time dining room,was on deck 3, so we headed that way and encountered a huuuuge line to get in. Even though our reservation was at 7:45, we probably got seated around 8. So not terribly late. We got a great spot by the windows and two of the best waiters (Franco and Eldon) on the ship that we had every night all week. We ordered everything at one time, appetizers, main course and dessert. Everything came out timely and quickly. I had ordered a glass of prosecco as soon as I sat down and when it was delivered (quickly) I immediately ordered another, which showed up just as i was finishing my first ( they are small glasses, don’t judge!). I then ordered a third halfway through my dinner course and it showed up shortly there after. Eldon kept up this three prosecco pattern for the rest of the week and brought double cokes for my son as soon as we sat down every night too! Anyway, dinner was pleasantly surprising! The food quality was great! I was so happy! We set sail while we ate which was exciting to watch us go by the forts! We were on our way!

 

We wandered the ship after dinner for a while. My son decided to go up to play basketball and I went back to the room to read since it had been a long day. I fell asleep for a bit and my son came back around 11:30 talking about the pick up 3 on 3 game he played at the courts and met some kids! Great start to our trip.... we went to sleep knowing we’d be pulling into St Thomas the next day and had some fun stuff planned.  

 

Im going to take a break and will pick this back up later today, I need to start some laundry. I hope you don’t mind all the details and the blah blah blah. Feel free to ask any questions!

 

 

 

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Loving your review - thank you for taking the time to write it!

We have a southern cruise booked on Freedom...but sadly it's not until October 2020. We've sailed eastern on Freedom twice in the past, it's our favorite ship to date. Looking forward to reading the rest of your review!

 

Terri

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Thank you for reviewing your Freedom cruise! We are cruising her next June and I am already researching pre-cruise hotels, etc. in San Juan and excursions for the ports.  We sailed Freedom once before and she became our favorite ship (have been on Majesty, Jewel, Oasis also).  My son graduates from high school next year so this is his graduation present - returning to our favorite ship for new ports!

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We'll be on the July 28 sailing. We'll be flying in a day ahead so we'll be in SJ early.

 

What time did you embark the ship on the day of sailing? Was that a good choice? Would you recommend any particular times between 12:30 -7:00 p.m.?

 

TIA. Looking forward to your review.

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6 hours ago, Racer70 said:

 ...

What time did you embark the ship on the day of sailing? Was that a good choice? Would you recommend any particular times between 12:30 -7:00 p.m.? ....

 

If you board at 2pm, the staterooms will be open and there will be a much smaller crowd at Windjammer.

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We were also on the same sailing of Freedom and stayed two pre cruise nights at Hilton Condado Plaza.  Had a group of 13 so we had a total of four rooms at the hotel on the 8th floor.  All ocean view rooms.  I agree with the prices of food as we also ate at Dennys for breakfast Sarurday morning and for 13 of us had a bill, with gratuities, of nearly $200.  

 

We did, however, get lucky with our rooms and views.  All of us loved the rooms and did not have any issues with cleanliness. I agree that it would be nice if housekeeping would make stops to do some basic things every day, like emptying trash.  

 

The views from our rooms was fantastic.   This is a video from the room I was in, room 838.  

 

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On 7/1/2019 at 10:29 AM, dagadget said:

A great start keep it coming. sailed on Freedom of the Seas before and will be nice to see how she is doing now.

 

Thanks!  She's a beauty for her age.  

 

On 7/1/2019 at 11:34 AM, hrmkr said:

Looking forward to hearing more

 

Thanks for joining!

 

On 7/1/2019 at 1:07 PM, JustUs275 said:

Loving your review - thank you for taking the time to write it!

We have a southern cruise booked on Freedom...but sadly it's not until October 2020. We've sailed eastern on Freedom twice in the past, it's our favorite ship to date. Looking forward to reading the rest of your review!

 

Terri

 

You will have a blast!  

 

23 hours ago, palmettostatecruiser said:

Thank you for reviewing your Freedom cruise! We are cruising her next June and I am already researching pre-cruise hotels, etc. in San Juan and excursions for the ports.  We sailed Freedom once before and she became our favorite ship (have been on Majesty, Jewel, Oasis also).  My son graduates from high school next year so this is his graduation present - returning to our favorite ship for new ports!

 

I will go through all of our excursions and what I would've done differently.  One thing I would've done is booked a hotel in San Juan in Isla Verde on the beach.  We spent all of Sunday post-cruise at that beach.  Beautiful!!!

 

13 hours ago, Racer70 said:

We'll be on the July 28 sailing. We'll be flying in a day ahead so we'll be in SJ early.

 

What time did you embark the ship on the day of sailing? Was that a good choice? Would you recommend any particular times between 12:30 -7:00 p.m.?

 

TIA. Looking forward to your review.

 

It depends on what you want to do in San Juan prior to boarding.  I loved doing the rainforest tour prior to getting on the ship because it was so nice to see that part of San Juan and since the ship wasn't leaving until the evening, it worked for the schedule.  I believe the crowds boarding dissipate as the afternoon wears on.  

 

5 hours ago, mchin said:

We were also on the same sailing of Freedom and stayed two pre cruise nights at Hilton Condado Plaza.  Had a group of 13 so we had a total of four rooms at the hotel on the 8th floor.  All ocean view rooms.  I agree with the prices of food as we also ate at Dennys for breakfast Sarurday morning and for 13 of us had a bill, with gratuities, of nearly $200.  

 

We did, however, get lucky with our rooms and views.  All of us loved the rooms and did not have any issues with cleanliness. I agree that it would be nice if housekeeping would make stops to do some basic things every day, like emptying trash.  

 

The views from our rooms was fantastic.   This is a video from the room I was in, room 838.  

 

Wow!  that is a gorgeous view!  I wish we had that!  I hope you enjoyed your cruise.  We loved it so much.

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Posted (edited)

 

Here are some photos from around San Juan. Please let me know if there are any issues seeing them. I don't have much experience with adding photos here:

Castillo San Felipe del Morro and San Cristobal

IMG_0576.jpg.a79eb43b8ef799d2d8074f4faef68e0b.jpgIMG_0583.jpg.09ebddc4f689d3b232bb36a304b685d5.jpgIMG_0592.jpg.99a0b6dc52925605575083c2a45ee42b.jpgIMG_0577.jpg.8eb520208dfa904afe3dbcb728707fe2.jpgIMG_0598.jpg.0487a601babe83a2fd0c461c3ccc6329.jpgIMG_0600.jpg.ee7907c291c195b1f3295adfccbc949c.jpgIMG_0599.jpg.0d4af2c349e0fae2a83831ea9c751d0d.jpg

 

Fortaleza 

IMG_0604.jpg.44af6e57e81d8804a394a1d4fbb0b918.jpg

 

Corte Chocobar

 

IMG_0609.jpg.87265b09f719d988ddf856586d5edbf7.jpgIMG_0606.jpg.081976dbbd9f65d411a4c6815548e329.jpgIMG_0608.jpg.b0b65f0f8e6b5df7861858ba94d95759.jpg

Edited by BNL1213

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Posted (edited)

The ship!

IMG_0643.jpg.fbc174e28bb7726622eb157856bc0024.jpg

Got tagged for alcohol in his luggage, but it was actually my hairdryer! lol 

IMG_0647.jpg.59bc801bb8f5ed873555ed228f79f1cb.jpg

mini golf

58301261844__D9BF8DB0-D6A2-4EC1-8C9E-2E5863F38953.JPG.7cc52bfb5dc2aac70f08098218219006.JPG

Main dining room menu night 1

58302746176__BB8F5779-D2D0-4F83-8293-5C46FDD4FE51.JPG.4f8c15d42fcc39bbc7bd4c0d9b58964e.JPG

 

 

 

Edited by BNL1213

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Monday June 24 - St. Thomas

I woke around 6am very excited for our first port!  I had booked us on the ship excursion Champagne Catamaran Sail and Snorkel to St John/Honeymoon Beach today and was really looking forward to it!  I had wanted to go to St. John but was pretty intimidated about taking ferry's and taxi's so thought this would be a nice easy way to see a bit of Honeymoon beach and St John from the water.

 

So as I said, I woke at 6am and snuck downstairs to the promenade to grab a latte.  They had coffee set up for self serve but the specialty ones weren't available until 6:30, so I went back to the room and got our stuff organized for the day and went back to get my coffee after 6:30.  I went down every morning between 6:30 and 7 and never stood in line or had any delay getting my specialty coffee.  And we were only one deck above the promenade so it was so easy to just run down there every morning.

 

I got back to our cabin and went out on the balcony to enjoy my coffee and watch us pull into port.  My view from my balcony in port:

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According to my excursion ticket, we needed to meet on the dock at 8:15 for our 8:30 start.  So I woke up DS to get him going so we could grab breakfast at the buffet before heading ashore.  This turned out to be the only morning we did this because it was kind of crowded in there and we felt really rushed and then afterwards really full.  

 

So at 8:15 we stood in line to get off the boat and went out the gates (towards the blue house in the pic above), and there were people there holding placards with the excursion name on it.  We found ours and stood there until our driver loaded us onto the bus.  We were on the bus and going at exactly 8:30 so there really is no wiggle room.  You definitely need to be on time or you will get left behind.

 

The bus took us to a boatyard where we met our catamaran.  I would be remiss not to mention that this bus ride was like being on a roller coaster..... fast, sharp turns, up big hills, then speeding down big hills.   OMG, I was holding onto the seat  in front of me for dear life!!! I never truly felt like we were going to crash, just the roads are curvy and hilly.  It was fun though.

 

We arrived at the catamaran, which was gorgeous.  The crew welcomed us, and had us all take off our shoes on the dock.  They kept them in a bucket on board.  DS and I grabbed a good spot at the front near the railing so we could watch all of St. Thomas as we sailed by.

 

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It took about 45 minutes to get to St. John.  We anchored a ways off the beach and got our snorkel gear and were able to walk down a ladder into the water.  We saw so many fish and turtles here.  There was a reef we followed to a certain point.  The current got a little strong to turn around and swim back to the boat so we were able to walk out of the water and walk along the beach on the powdery white sand, then get back into the water at the end and follow the current back to the boat.  We snorkeled for about an hour and a half, I would say.  There was a crew member in a dingy who would pick people up from the beach and take them back to the catamaran, or vice versa, if they got tired and didn't want to snorkel anymore.  They also rode around in the dingy looking for turtles and calling us who were nearby, over to see.  So great!

 

IMG_0670.jpg.439f21d92b9848ada5f24a3561157fdb.jpg

 

The party really starts when we headed back towards St. Thomas.  They serve rum punch and champagne as well as some crackers and cheese.  They introduced us to the Rum-mosa, which was like a mimosa but with rum punch instead of oj.  As you can imagine, it packed a punch!  The crew took very good care of us, topping off drinks, entertaining us.  They were outstanding at their job....multi-tasking at it's finest since they were sailing the boat, serving the drinks and just being general entertainers and talking to all the guests.  They had a variety of t-shirts for sale and took credit cards for purchase, so that made things easy!

 

We were dropped back at the dock around 12:30, I guess and then back on the bus.  The ride back didn't seem as bad, but that could be thanks to the rum-mosa's!  

 

We explored the port area for a bit when we got back, and did some shopping, took some photos etc.

 

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After a while we got back on board and were pretty hungry so decided to go check out Johnny Rockets.  was great for a mid day snack since our dinner wasn't for another 5 hours.  Plus I think we worked up a good hunger from all that snorkeling! 

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After lunch I went and hung out in the Solarium while DS went to explore the rest of the ship for a bit.  I loved the solarium.  It was the only spot on the ship that had padded chairs.  It didn't have the loud craziness of the main pool but was consistently busy.  I always managed to find a chair or two.  There were a lot of waiters walking around taking drink orders, but if I didn't manage to grab a waiter, I just walked up to the bar in the Solarium and ordered from them. DS is 16 so he was allowed in to hang with me as well.  I thought it was 18+ but all of the signs said 16+.  So that worked out great for us!

 

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I spent a couple of hours there reading my book and finally went back to the room around 6, to get ready for our 7:30pm My Time dinner reservation.  When I returned to the room, there was two folded bathrobes for us on the beds.  Muhammed came through for us!!  I was so thankful that I went out to find him down the hall to thank him.  He was just the nicest person.  OMG, I miss him!

 

So after showering and using our robes to get ready, we headed to the dining room.  No line at all, we just walked up to the desk, checked in, and were brought right to our table.  Seamless!  And again, the meal and service was outstanding.  I can't remember what I got for an appetizer this night, but I ordered the mushroom risotto for dinner and skipped dessert because I was going to explode at this point.  SO MUCH FOOD.  DS got the Chicken Parm for his meal and this dark chocolate cookie/brownie bake for dessert with ice cream.  You can see from the look on his face how good it was.

 

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After dinner, we wandered around the ship for a bit.  DS went back to the room to change and went to the sports deck to play basketball.  I did a little casino/drink stops along the way, eventually making it back to the room around 11 and discovered we got our first towel animal !

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So cute!  

 

So that was our day in St. Thomas.  Next up is Tuesday in St. Kitts!! 

 

 

 

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Such a helpful review. We are looking forward to visiting San Juan, we love exploring historical areas - I think we will skip Denny's tho! The catamaran sailing looks like so much fun! We don't snorkel (we've tried...let's just leave it at that! lol), so can you just do beach time instead of snorkeling? Looking forward to your St Kitts review, that's a new port for us :-)

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17 hours ago, JustUs275 said:

Such a helpful review. We are looking forward to visiting San Juan, we love exploring historical areas - I think we will skip Denny's tho! The catamaran sailing looks like so much fun! We don't snorkel (we've tried...let's just leave it at that! lol), so can you just do beach time instead of snorkeling? Looking forward to your St Kitts review, that's a new port for us :-)

 Thanks!  Yes, you can do whatever you want..... hang out on the catamaran, ask for the dingy to take you over to the beach.  No obligation to snorkel at all.  I actually wished I spent a little more time sitting on that beach taking it all in.  You will really enjoy it!

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Tuesday, June 25 - St. Kitts

 

I woke up early once again to grab a coffee and sit on my balcony while watching us pull into St Kitts.  Today we had booked a zipline tour through Royal.  I made sure I got the first time slot at 8:30am so that we could be back to the ship before noon, because I wanted to just hop right into a taxi and go to the Carambola Beach Club for a 12noon reservation we made.  Our reservation included two chairs and an umbrella (cost $30).  

 

So we got ourselves organized and headed to Studio B as directed on our excursion tickets.  We got signed in and given a sticker with our number on it, then took a seat to wait for our group to be called.  We then followed a guide with a placard off the ship to a point in the shopping area on the dock (below).

 

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Once everyone was lined up, they put us on a bus and off we went to the Wingfield Estate.  The estate was a former sugar plantation and had some interesting sites around the grounds to check out. 

 

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There were some wild monkeys swinging around the trees, which were really cool.  Once we got into the check-in room, we had to fill out some paperwork, get weighed (eek!!!), and we could pay $3 for a locker to hold our stuff.  It was at this point that we decided to lock up our phones because I was too nervous I would drop mine, so we unfortunately didn't get any pics actually ziplining.  I guess I wanted to hold on with both hands lol!  But I will still describe the process.....So after check in, we got into our gear and they did a mini test run that was about 30 feet long so you were comfortable how to sit in the harness, hold on, and what to do when it came to stopping at the end of the line. 

 

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Once everyone went through it all, we were loaded into the back of a pickup truck.  A little nerve wracking, that we were to just sit in the back to be driven up the hills, so I actually chose to sit inside in the back seat.  Which is hilarious that it was actually THAT PART that I was scared of, since I was about to fly down a thousand foot zipline thousands of feet off the ground for my first time ever.  

 

Anyway, We got to the top of the first line.  I was a little nervous stepping onto the platform for the first time, but the guides were fantastic and when they got me hooked up and feeling very safe, off I went!  I loved it!!  The view was spectacular!  

 

We continued onto about 5 more lines and ended up back down right where we started, at this little hut.

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We waited for everyone else to finish up and took off/turned in our equipment.  I was thinking about getting a fresh fruit smoothie from the stand they had there when my son came up and said, "there's a guy over there with a baby monkey".  Now, I had one rule for us on this vacation and that was Do.Not.Hold.A.Monkey!!!  These monkey owners are swindlers for cash!  They will ask you if you want to hold the lil baby monkey who is just adorable, you will snap a couple of photos of yourself with this cute little baby monkey that looks at you like you're his long lost mom, and boom!! you suddenly owe their handler $10.  So that was one of my main rules.  So like the good son he is, he IMMEDIATLELY said no when the handler asked if he wanted to hold the monkey.  Good job my son!  But then, it went down hill...... the handler looked at me and the baby monkey looked at me and I was asked if I wanted to hold him.... I looked in that baby's eyes and said immediately "OMG YESSSSSS, hand him over!!!"  And DS just stood there shaking his head, mumbling, "we had ONE rule...."  So anyway, here are $20 worth of monkey pics:

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After begrudgingly handing over my monkey cash, we got loaded up into the van and brought back to the port, arriving at exactly 11:30.  We had our suits and towels packed into our backpacks so we were able to hop right into a cab and head to Carambola.  Our cab driver pulled over at one overlook so I could get this photo.  Such a great shot of both the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

 

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We arrived at Carambola, checked in and paid our balance and were given bracelets.  We were told to find a beach attendant who will escort us to our chairs.  When we walked out onto the beach, I realized this may not have been the best idea for the second half of our day.  It was a complete and utter MOB SCENE.  There were people, chairs, umbrellas everywhere.  We managed to find two empty wooden chairs with an umbrella. The chairs had no pads on them so the attendant ran off to find us some pads.  And then we never saw him again.  So we managed to find two different chairs that didn't require pads with an umbrella and just set up there.  We were set probably 3 or 4 rows back from the water.  But there were so many people we couldn't even SEE the water. Just walls of people and umbrellas.  ugh.  I didn't even take any photos here because I actually didn't see anything photo worthy.  But we figured we would sit, relax, read and were actually pretty hungry at this point.   So I looked around for the Beach Server  hoping to get a couple of drinks and a lunch menu.  I noticed all the way down the beach that there was ONE very very busy beach server covering all of this crowd.  So I quickly decided to head inside and try and order from the bar. Side note:  You must wear shoes on the sand.  it is like walking on hot coals.  Probably because of the type of volcanic sand it is, I would assume.  It was the only beach we visited that was like that where we couldn't walk barefoot.

 

Anyway, I went inside to order from the bar.  They had menus laid out across the bar, which was a good size.  There were about 4 bartenders.  When I tried to place my order I was told to order my to-go lunch from the hostess stand.  Which I thought was weird because I saw others ordering right from the bartender.  So over to the hostess stand I went, and put in my order for a wrap sandwich and a small pizza.  When I offered my credit card to pay, they sent me back to the bar to pay for it.....okaaaayy, back to the bar.  I explained to a different bartender that I needed to pay him for my lunch that I ordered at the hostess stand, where I was sent from the other bartender.  Even he was confused by why I was going back and forth.  But we got it sorted out and they told me it would be out in 10 minutes.  Rather than walk all the way back across fire to my beach chair, I decided to stay at the bar and have a drink while I waited.  Another mistake because our simple little lunch wasn't ready for 45 minutes, but they told me it would be out any minute every 10 minutes, so I just kept waiting.  Ugh!  I finally got our lunch, grabbed a couple more drinks for us and made my way back to my chair where we sat and ate.  We then relaxed a bit, made our way into the water for a bit and just chilled there for a couple of hours.  At one point, I had ordered another drink from the beach server when he happened to walk by, but he unfortunately never came back with it.   I wasn't really surprised, since I had no idea how he was keeping up with all of these people's orders alone!  

 

So after a while, we decided we would probably enjoy ourselves a little more back on the ship.  We packed up our things and asked the front desk where to get a cab.  She quickly called someone over to help us and he walked us out to a waiting van.  And off we went back to our ship.

 

I totally regret wasting my afternoon there and wished I had found something else to do.  But there are worse days than being on a crowded beach in the Caribbean.  

 

Once back onboard, we relaxed in our room and on our balcony.  IMG_0740.jpg.2aee9a9abbb2cf267d4dc48bbed38f4a.jpg

 

We were parked very closely to the Disney ship, which was fun when they left the port since the ship's horn plays all the disney songs as it pulls out.  And then aaaahhhh, I get my view back!

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I went off ship for a while and did some shopping in the port, which had a ton of stores to wander around in.  When I got back on, we got ready for dinner and once again had a delicious meal!  This is the only photo I took that night, so I have no idea what we ate or even what we did for the evening. 

 

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Kind of a weird day overall.  We agreed that the ziplining was probably the best excursion we've done, but St. Kitt's turned out to be our least favorite stop.  Oh well.

 

More to come, since tomorrow was a FAVORITE -- Antigua!!!  

 

 

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Following along, thinking about booking this cruise.

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Posted (edited)

Not sure anyone is still reading this, but I need to hurry it through since my memories are starting to get a little hazy....

 

Wednesday June 26 - Antigua

Spent another early morning on the balcony sipping coffee and watching us pull into port. 

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We had a late morning excursion booked, so we had a very lazy morning.  I let DS sleep in a bit and I went to the dining room to have breakfast.  It seemed to me that the dining room in the morning is a little more chaotic than at dinner.  There is also a buffet set up in the middle of the room.  When I first arrived, I needed to wait a bit to be seated and then they tried to seat me with a couple, which I really did not want to do.  I have a little social anxiety as it is, without having to eat at the same table as the third wheel.  So once I was seated (alone), I ordered some eggs benedict, which arrived within two minutes and appeared that the waiter maybe just got from the buffet set up in the center of the room.  So, I guess I don't really understand the point of the dining room breakfast if it's not cooked to order.  But whatever, it was good and served its purpose.  

 

We had a shore excursion that was scheduled for 11:45am, so we needed to meet on the dock at 11:15. Today's excursion was the Snorkel and Kayak Eco adventure.  I got back to my room, woke DS and starting packing our day trip bag.  We were able to grab some coffee and muffins for him and were getting off the ship around 11.  We were led to a spot right on the pier between our ship and the Disney Fantasy.  We waited a little bit for a leader to walk us to the vans that would take us to this estate/home where our tour began.  When we arrived, we walked through this beautiful garden along a stone walkway at, what appeared to be, someone's home.  We were then led out to a dock and were loaded onto three small boats.  Our boat drivers explained some of the area and vegetation and told us about the mangroves where we would be kayaking.  We then arrived a small dock that had a bunch of kayaks. 

 

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Most of the kayaks were 2 person, but they had some single kayaks as well.  It was very easy to get in the kayaks, as the guides helped you in and held it steady.  DS wanted to be the lead kayaker, so he sat in the back and mostly instructed me when he needed me to paddle each side.  Surprisingly we worked very well together!  But we noticed that was not the case with some other people.....there were definitely some arguments going on around us as we paddled and I may have seen one woman whack her husband with an actual paddle when he didn't know his right from his left!!!  lol.....

The guides took us all around this small island, making stops along the way to explain the area and the life that grew/swam there.  He would pull up starfish and sea cucumbers for all of us to hold and pass around.  It was so interesting and fun!  The complicated parts were usually trying to get in and out of the crowded kayak circle while the guide was speaking and explaining things.  everyone would laughingly bang into each other or drift along into the edges, but we all managed to get where we needed to go.  I think this excursion would be great if you had kayaking experience, but may be a little bit challenging if you hadn't ever done it before.  I would say we kayaked for at least an hour, maybe a bit more.  I definitely felt the sun on my legs and was glad I OVER sunblocked, because we would have roasted if we hadn't.  

 

After kayaking was over, they brought us back to the dock where we were again, held steady while able to climb up a ladder onto the dock.  We then boarded our little speedboats and made our way to a tiny beach.  Once we docked, they told us we could climb the hill to an overlook or stay on the beach and swim, relax.  DS and I chose to stay on the beach, swim and do a little exploring.  The water was so beautiful and the sand was like baby powder.

 

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They had a little tent set up right on the beach where they sold drinks and other souvenirs.  Once we relaxed and swam for a bit, they had us choose our snorkel equipment and loaded those of us who wanted to snorkel back on a boat and brought us to the snorkel spot.  It was only about a 5 minute boat ride.  We were able to just jump right off the boat into the water.  Even though it was a little wavy the snorkeling was sooooo gorgeous! there were stingrays and tons of fish, and even some little jelly fish that didn't really have tentacles, which I believe is what stings.  I had issues with my mask when I first went in the water.  After I tried and tried to make it work for me, I realized it was actually broken where the seam met the glass so I had to trade it out for another one.  Once I got that all settled I only had a few minutes to get adjusted and finish up snorkeling.  So I felt like I didn't get a good amount of time there, which i was so bummed about since there was so much to see.  DS saw a TON of things he hadn't seen before so I was super happy about that.

 

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LOOK AT THAT WATER!!

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Once we were done snorkeling, we went back to the little beach to pick everyone up and made our way back to the home base where we started from.  When we got off the boats, we were greeted by the home owners who let us know that there was rum punch and some homemade (still warm!) banana bread for us, and facilities to use/change. 

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We were able to sit and relax for a bit in some chairs in the shade.  Take a look at this crazy caterpiller we saw:

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We only had a few minutes here before they let us know that they were loading up the vans to return us to the port.  The ride back was a little hot, as there wasn't much AC in the van, but it was only about a 30 minute ride, so we survived.  Once back, we quickly boarded as the ship was leaving at 5 and it was just about 4:30 at this time.  

 

Once we got onboard, I went to guest services to check to see if my reservation was booked for Chef's table, since I had never heard back nor got any type of confirmation.  Guest services told me I definitely didn't show a reservation on my account and then tried to get me in on any of the days they were having Chef's table.  They let me know that unfortunately they were all sold out, so I was out of luck.  Ugh, I was so upset since it was really the only specialty meal I planned to have.  But, again, what can you do?  I just thanked them for their time and went along with my day.  Not going to spoil my day, that's for sure! As I was heading back to our cabin, I decided that maybe we could get ourselves a reservation at one of the specialty restaurants that night since I wasn't spending the money on Chef's Table.  I checked with DS when I got back to the room and we agreed on Giovanni's table.  So I called the reservation line from the cabin and got us booked at Giovanni's for 8:15pm.  YAY!  And this meant, we had plenty of time to relax beforehand!  So up to the Solarium I went....

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I hung out, read my book and enjoyed my daquiri for a couple of hours.  DS was in and out, doing his own thing.  After a while, we went back to the room to get ready.  

 

I had a glass of wine on the balcony and watched the sun set..

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I mean seriously..... I am so spoiled by having a balcony now.  

 

So we were ready early and decided to head to Giovanni's at 8.  They seated us immediately.  The restaurant was not very busy and our waiter only had our table and another table of about 5 people.  Once we were seated, he came over and gave us menus and then we sat.   and sat................ and sat.  No drink order, no water, nothing.  About 20 minutes later, he came back and I ordered a glass of wine and DS ordered a soda.  again, it took FOREVER to get them.  When he finally returned with our drinks, we immediately placed our order and I ordered another glass of wine.  Which I timed well because it took forever to come.  As a starter I got the beef carpaccio and DS got the steamed mussels.  Both were delicious.  Next up was the crab ravioli for DS and the Fettucini Carbonara for me.  I actually got a photo of mine!

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It was so good, I am still thinking about it.  For our main course, I got the Osso Bucco and DS got a second pasta as his meal, the gnocchi.  And yay me, I got photos of those too!

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Each course took a long time in between, which was fine.  We weren't in any huge rush, but it was definitely slower than we had been used to in the dining room.  Once our main courses came out, I had ordered another glass of wine and that one just never showed up.  By the time we were finished eating, we were both so full we were going to bust, plus I was a bit annoyed at how our server was just not very attentive.  When he came by finally to offer dessert, I declined and told him just to bring us the check and not worry about the glass of wine I never received.  Of course, the bill came to around $80, which was worth it for food quality without a doubt.  But the service?  Ugh, not worth it!!!  So I was kind of bummed about the experience.  But we went onto have a fun night wandering around the ship, checking out the different events.  While DS played basketball for a bit, I went to Olive and Twist, had that last glass of wine and watched the beginnings of a honeymooners party that was starting in there.  Then DS texted and we made our way back to the cabin.  Another cutie was waiting for us:

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Thanks for reading!  Next up is Thursday in St. Lucia, another spectacular day!

Edited by BNL1213

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20 hours ago, sunnyNP said:

We're leaving for this cruise next week.  So excited to hear the rest of your story!  

 

20 hours ago, renza said:

Yrs she disappeared. Hopefully we can get the final. 

Hello! I will post my St Lucia update tomorrow. Sorry, wasn’t sure I still had anyone reading! 😀

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