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About EeyoreRN

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Hiking, travel, books, puzzles, Disney, family time
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    Best itinerary that matches my travel window
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  1. Haha that is funny! Small ship! 😉 Yeah I guess it could be the power. My initial thought was because it was Sunday?
  2. I'm sooooo sorry I missed the slot pull and the meet and mingle!! Hope they were fun! I also want to go back. It was incredible, right?!
  3. May 26, sail away We went up to the 12th deck for sail away at about 8:25, and starboard side railing was lined with people, no place for the 3 of us to squeeze in...so we went forward and up the stairs to deck 13 where there was plenty of railing space, except we had to climb over the lounge chairs which seemed tightly spaced and stacked. In the process I found a pretty ring under a chair and held on to it to bring to guest services. I hope it found it's rightful home. Sail away from San Juan was so pretty, but there were only a few lights on around the forts. It was already full dark out and we couldn't see as much as we would have liked. After turning in the ring and having the previously described conversation with guest services and Rama about dining, we headed to the Arcadia Theatre for the main event, the Welcome Aboard Comedy Show with comedian Tom Foss. There were also some "guest entertainers," aerialists Jimmy and Anna. There we also "met" our cruise director, Patricio. He is great with just the right amount of enthusiasm. We enjoyed the show a lot, especially the aerialists, and while I can't remember the comedian specifically, I know we laughed a lot. Not sure if it was the talent of Tom Foss or the all-day drinking, or simply being giddy from finally being on the ship? I'm sorry to say this is the only photo I took that night. I guess we grabbed some drinks at the sky bar to enjoy for sail away and I'm pretty sure this is Emma's dark and stormy. You'd probably rather see our view of the forts, lol. I didn't even try to capture it, I thought it would be too dark. Wishing now I had tried. Oh well...next time!😄
  4. Great choice! You will have a blast! Thanks for reading. Thank you and thanks for reading. Lol yeah I thought so, thanks. You're so welcome! Thanks for reading! Lucky!! Thanks for reading!
  5. Yes, I know. I think it is so sad that Hilton has continued to let this beautiful hotel suffer so long. They should fix it!
  6. May 26 continue Giovanni's Table A festive dance was going on with the staff in the Windjammer. They were in the fun party mode whenever we went in there, with funky glasses and silly hats. So cut, we loved this. Our server was Henry and he is an extremely attentive and expert server. He got off on the wrong foot with Joey and made Joey nervous because he didn't understand the family style nature of how things would be served. Joey was worried he wouldn't get the pasta he wanted when Henry said don't worry I've got you covered. All was more than resolved in the end! I took a photo of this so I must have thought it was cool, but for the life of me I can't figure out what it is since there's no context. The outside of the menu, maybe? A tile in the floor? Anyone please feel free to explain. One page of the menu, the rice, pasta and mains. You are allowed to have as many as you want of most sections of the menu except the mare e terre section. You can only choose one from there. A toast to Embarkation day with prosecco, and Henry made sure our glasses were never empty! Bread service included delicious roasted garlic, olive oil and olives. Emma had to ask for GF bread, which eventually came and was the same bread that was on the lunch buffet. We shared the meat and cheese plank And for personal starters I got the mussels in white wine (delicious), Joey chose the pork belly (least favorite dish of the night, a little rubbery and more Asian BBQ spices than Italian. It wasn't bad, just not to our liking. Emma went with the mozzarella and tomato with pesto, which was not noted as GF on the menu and we were utterly confused as to why. We thought maybe it's served with bread on the plate and when we asked Henry to clarify he said it was because of the pesto. Pesto? I've never made pesto with any glutenful ingredients, but when Henry showed up a few minutes later with the dish, we asked him to reconfirm with the chef that this was GF pesto and safe for Emma to consume. He confirmed it was fine, and so she went for it and it turned out, it was fine and also very good. She loves pesto! Next I believe our mains and pastas all came out at the same time. Forgive me, but this was more than 2 weeks ago now and I was several proseccos in by then, which was entirely Henry's fault. Granted, it wasn't his fault I had started drinking at 11:30 and pretty much continued all day. But anyway, the man came through in a big way when he showed up with a plate of GF carbonara, glutenful carbonara (so, so good), gnocchi with gorgonzola (omg, delectable) and even threw in some mushroom risotto (which was great, reminded us of the mushroom soup we had at lunch...but way too much food!). Wait, that's just the family-style side dishes. I haven't even told you yet about the mains! Emma ordered grilled shrimp, I got fillet mignon and Joey opted for veal ossobuco. We were all exceptionally pleased and so full! GF carbonara Glutenful carbonara Henry somehow served the pasta up with one hand, using the two utensils almost like chopsticks. And didn't make a mess! It was pretty impressive. Gnocchi, one of the winning dishes Risotto Grilled shrimp Filet Ossobuco We were ridiculously full but who can say no to dessert? It's vacation. So Emma went with what I believe was her only option, the pana cotta. I wasn't intrigued by anything else so I got the same. Joey, I have recently come to learn, is a big fan of tiramisu. So when he saw the big tray of it he couldn't resist. We also ordered a round of cappuccinos. Pana cotta, very meh. Consistency more like white jello. Actually it's a good thing it wasn't delicious, it was not needed! Tiramisu, Joey loved it And that wraps up our wonderful first dinner on Freedom. Great food, great service. I was considering cancelling dinner at Chops on our last night to come back to Giovanni's. We had almost a week to mull it over. But in the meantime, it was time to head up to the upper decks for sail away.
  7. May 26 continued Of course, the day 1 Compass was in the room when we arrived and available everywhere about the ship. Here it is again CC Day 1 0526001 (1).pdf We spent some time enjoying the balcony and perusing the day 1 compass and thinking about the rest of the day. Decided to go get some drinks and lounge chairs on deck 12 and enjoy the partially sunny skies and breeze. Looking down at the Solarium Not too sure exactly where we were here Plenty of lounge chairs today on deck 12 Went back to the room to freshen up before muster at 5:45 and dinner at 6:30. Our bags had been delivered and look what Emma brought! We found our muster station right on time and to avoid the crowds flocking to the elevators afterward, we headed forward and up to the helipad to watch the Fascination sail away. That ship has sailed! Time for our dinner at Giovanni's Table.
  8. Lucky duck!! Enjoy your cruise! Thanks for this. I was trying to do it on line and it kept saying unavailable. I just thought I was supposed to do it onboard. It ddn't occur to me I needed to call.
  9. Can you please explain how this is done? I never could figure it out before boarding. Thanks!
  10. May 26 continued So I left off the narrative with us running to the room to check out the balcony, which we loved. I did mention that the room is a 5D category. It's a bit on the small side for 3 adults we thought. It wasn't a problem because we spent our time on the balcony, even in the rain, as it was covered. The only issue was that the 3rd berth pulls down from the ceiling over the bed, and according to Joey, it is not comfortable. I can't believe I never took a picture of it. The couch is just a little loveseat, definitely not big enough for an adult to sleep on. Better sleeping was done on the balcony lounges than on that pull down cot. Really comfy king with loveseat in the background. Television and desk across from the loveseat Bathroom...old design but clean. Tube shower got very hot and had great pressure. Never a problem with the toilet. They were replacing mirrors one by one on our deck and that's a good thing, they need replacing
  11. I want to back track just a bit to say a few words about dining arrangements (this is not about food or restaurants specifically)...this is a long post, but if you're interested in dining arrangements on Freedom of the Seas, it might be worth a read for you. When I booked the reservation for the cruise a little less than a year out, I mentioned to my TA that we wanted My Time Dining. When I was switching rooms around 8 months out, I noticed that my confirmation said early seating on it, so I asked Bruno to switch us to My Time Dining. He said no problem, done. When we checked in and received our Sea Pass cards, they said 6pm and a table #, which I understood was traditional dining. No offense to anyone, but we did not want traditional dining. We didn't want to sit with other travelers for dinner. While we enjoy socializing in many other venues, we all agree that dinner is not the place. To each their own, but please understand this is not our thing. So when we were leaving Chops after a very satisfying lunch, already a few drinks into our DBP (you get the picture, nothin' gonna make us unhappy now), we stopped at the podium to "fix" dining for the week. Anyway, we needed to make our reservations for our 3-night dinner package. We consider ourselves pretty flexible, not too concerned about timing as long as it's not too early (after 6) or too late that we would miss the main shows. Ideally, we wanted to make it to the MDR during formal nights, and do our 3 nights of specialty dining on nights 1 and 7, and then either 3, 4, or 5. So Angelica the hostess and/or manager at the desk at Chops easily made our specialty reservations for 6:30 for night 1 at Giovanni's Table, night 3 at Sabor, and night 7 at Chops. Then I explained to her our early dinner assignment and that we wanted My Time Dining instead, and I asked her if I could make reservations for a 3 person table in the dining room for nights 2, 4, 5 and 6. Any three person table, any time but preferably later than 6 and earlier than 8. She said she couldn't reserve us a table; our options were either show up at our assigned table no later than 6:30, or go the podium on deck 3 when we want dinner and they would do their best to accommodate us, no guarantee. Oh no! Not good! We went to customer service later in the evening after sail-away (I had found a piece of jewelry and wanted to turn it in) and the agent there how to fix this dining no-reservation situation. She said the only thing to do is to speak with the dining room manager Rama after 9am the next day. After a little pleading and seeing how distressed we were about this, she sent us down to Rama who met us at the podium on 4 and explained that My Time Dining was overbooked. They can accommodate 2K but had 2.2K signed up and the first night the line for MTD had reached back to Studio B. So he explained we could come and ask for him at 6:30 and he would find us seats in the traditional dining room at a table forfeited by guests who are no-shows. This worked out well for us, and we were always seated within a few minutes of showing up, and always got what we needed in terms of space and food. However, I feel that service was a little sacrificed by this arrangement. Since our servers were there for traditional dining, they had their usual customers and usual routines, and we often felt like interlopers in their sections. We'd show up looking for drinks and appetizers when they were already getting the mains and even desserts out for their other tables. And while we believe they tried their best not to make us feel bad, we sensed that they were a bit hassled by our presence. They didn't offer second rounds of drinks or coffee with dessert in most cases, for example, because we were bordering on too late and they had to get us out to clean the section for the next group. One night every table got a birthday cake in honor of RCI's 50th birthday, but we didn't get one. The little things like that not worth complaining about at the time, but wondering if there was a way we could have done better. I will do my best as the review goes on to try to remember the details of our meals, but I hope this info gives you somewhat of an idea about how things went with arrangements. IDK how I could have fixed it. I guess I should have been more persistent prior to the cruise about the My Time Dining confirmation? Or maybe just crossed our fingers and gone to MTD section when we were ready? I would love your thoughts and advice if you have any to offer. I would like our MDR experiences to be stellar next time around on FOS!
  12. May 26, Embarkation Day continued When we finished our lunch it was right around 1:30, and the announcement was made that our cabins were ready. We headed straight down to Deck 7, starboard, corner aft # 7408. We couldn't wait to get into our room! It was worth the long walk. For those who do not know, the corner aft cabins on Freedom Class ships have unbelievably large balconies, but are sold for the price of 5D category, because they are considered "obstructed view." I did not initially book this cabin, but booked a 5D port-side unobstructed ocean view balcony. I later learned about these corner afts in my research here on CC, and decided to find out if there was one available on our sailing. To find out the availability, I went to Royal Caribbean UK site, which offers a much more comprehensive list of available cabins than the US site. The cabin directly above it was available, as was this one, and initially I thought I wanted to one above it because it would be less obstructed. So I called my TA and had us switched to cabin 8410. Later, in looking at pictures, I realized that cabin 8410 has only a single door with an upper window pane, as opposed to full wall to ceiling double slider. I thought we'd prefer the sliders, so I called the TA and again switched us, this time to room 7408. TA Bruno was concerned about this switch, double-ensuring that I was aware that the view is "obstructed." I told him yes I am well aware, and I REALLY want this balcony. So, done! No additional cost. To clarify, this was all done well before our final payment date, when changes were still flexible. And FYI, these rooms are technically for 3 persons, and can only be booked for parties of 3, unless, I've read, very close to sail date if still available. I have read of many people booking a phantom 3rd passenger and making that passenger a no-show (yes eating the cost of the 3rd passenger) just to get this balcony. We LOVED our balcony! Lookin' back at ya, you wonderful ol' Condado Plaza! And I could see that church with which I'm still obsessed from here too, through the porthole!
  13. May 26, Lunch at Chops The menu is very limited compared to the dinner menu. Our waitress Victoria was wonderful and brought out some glutenful bread right away. I say these because even though it was acknowledged at every single meal that Emma is GF, very few servers really went out of their way to accommodate. The ones who do will bring separate bread and butter without even a request. I know if Emma had asked for it, she would have received, but she figured there would be enough food over the course of the week, so she didn't ask. Even though Chops is situated in just a few rooms off the side of the Windjammer, it is beautiful and tranquil inside. Our table was probably the worst in the room, against the wall close to the bus station and doors to the kitchen, but it was still nice and we didn't even notice any bustle. My perfect view Emma and Joey were thrilled to learn that their favorite wine, Beringer White Zinfandel, is available the ship. I was happy to see Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc. A toast to Freedom! For appetizers we each ordered shrimp cocktail, and Joey and I both got the mushroom soup. The shrimp were plump and much bigger than those we'd see in MDR. The mushroom soup was earthy and rich and one of the best dishes of the cruise. For my main, I ordered the grilled branzino and it was delicious, but very high in calcium 😜 (lots of little bones). If this doesn't bother you, I highly recommend it. The lime served with it was dried out, probably a leftover from the previous week. Emma ordered filet mignon. She said it was much better than it looked. It looks pretty pathetic in this photo, please don't judge this book by its cover! Joey went with a burger, but forgot to take a photo before he dug in, so if you're squeamish about partially eaten food photos, I apologize in advance. Try closing your eyes and scrolling down now... He said it was very good, though done more well than he likes. Victoria told him they only do well burgers, so he ordered knowing what he was getting. This was much better than the Windjammer burgers he'd eat later in the cruise, so in his opinion, worth the upcharge. For sides, we ordered macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and asparagus. Victoria confirmed for Emma that she could have the mashed potatoes and the asparagus, but not the macaroni and cheese... "Because there are bread crumbs on top." Uh ok...not because of the semolina flour in the elbow macaroni? Are sure sure it's not because of the seasoning? Lol. Notice the glutenful bread crumbs atop the delicious mac and cheese. The potatoes were good. We never got our asparagus, but we were full anyway, so didn't bother to remind Victoria. For dessert, I ordered the NY cheesecake and Joey ordered the warm chocolate cake. Then Victoria turned to Emma and asked her what she would like. So Emma said "there's nothing on the menu I can eat." Which reminded Victoria of the GF problem, and she said "oh right I will check with the chef." She served up a gorgeous creme brulee, which Emma loved and appreciated. The cheesecake was one of the best cheesecakes I've had. Rich and creamy, perfect NY Style, how I like it. And the berries on top were plump, juicy and fresh, in contrast with the lime that came with the fish. Stellar! Joey loved the chocolate cake and we would see more iterations of this same cake later in the week, which was just fine with us. Too bad they don't make this flourless. Emma's GF creme brulee We enjoyed Chops lunch on embarkation and feel we got a pretty good bargain. I love avoiding the buffet in general and this was a nice treat. We would absolutely do this again!
  14. Welcome aboard! You are sooooo lucky to be doing this back-to-back itinerary, I'm sure your vacation will be magnificent! I can't wait to go back on Freedom. I would do the exact same itinerary again or the opposite. I was also so worried about the ship and its passengers, and while I do not intend to invalidate the reviews, and I'm sure those experiences were real, I just wanted to provide a different perspective and say we experienced none of that on our sailing. Happy planning!!
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