Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carnival Freedom

DSC_0003 Last week we went on a fabulous cruise! I thought the service on the cruise was outstanding. Every time we saw crew and staff, they greeted us and smiled. If I needed something, I was quickly helped. I really enjoyed this cruise. Here is a run down on each day.

If you want to see the pictures, click HERE.

6/1/14 Day 1 Embarkation
We arrived at 10:30am which was the perfect time to get there. Traffic wasn’t heavy and we unloaded our luggage. The porter was unhappy with the tip we left and he let us know it too. We hugged my parents goodbye and headed to the entrance of the terminal. Then we heard Marge calling us to let us know that Don still had the car keys! Once we got in the door, we went straight through security and checked in. We did have to wait in the VIP Lounge for about 20 minutes but we enjoyed meeting new people.

Once on the ship, we went straight to our cabin and dropped our carry on stuff there. Next we headed to the Fish and Chips bar so we could have some bouillabaisse which my husband loves. Then after stopping for a soft serve ice cream cone, we continued to explore. About 2pm, we bought a bucket of beer at the Endless Bar in the aft of the ship. It was nice and quiet back there we enjoyed ourselves before we had to leave for the muster drill. After that, we sat out on the Lido deck and watched us to pull out of port and I’m glad we were under cover because a huge rain shower hit and everyone scattered like bugs! After we pulled out we went to hunt for our luggage since we still hadn’t gotten it. I stopped by the front desk and got a deck of cards and asked about our luggage. He said there was a room of untagged luggage nearby and when I went to look, there were our suitcases. We took them to our rooms and unpacked. By then it was time to prepare for dinner.

Our dinner table is a large round table for 11 people. Our dinner mates are Bob and Renee from FL, Cindy and Bob (my cruise critic friends) from FL, and Veronica and Eddie and their son Tommy (who has Aspergers) from FL. I think I will really enjoy have dinner with these new friends! I had the beef and barley soup and then the flat iron steak for dinner. Don had the shrimp cocktail and tilapia for dinner. For dessert I had the Black Forest Gateau (one of my favorites) and Don had the Crème Brule.

6/2/14 Day 2 At Sea
We had a lovely day at sea on Monday. I got up at 5am and played on my computer until it was time to wake up my husband. Then I had a veggie omelet while I waited for him to meet me on the Lido deck. Then about 90 minutes later we went to the dining room where I had steak and eggs for my real breakfast! At noon we went to a cooking demo which was fun and we were given samples of all the dishes made. We had mushroom cappuccino, spinach salad, chicken and macaroni and cheese, and then tiramisu. At 3pm we went to a tea where we had tea and scones. One of the table mates shared her recipe for Maryland crab cakes. At 4pm we met up with some of my cruise critic (online forum) friends. Then we sat on the deck and visited with another couple we met when we were getting on the ship. By then it was time to get ready for dinner where we had prime rib and lobster tails. After dinner we went to the show which we enjoyed. It was piano tunes from the great musicians like Billy Joel, Elton John etc. One point the show was stopped because of technical difficulties but about 10 minutes later it started back. After the show we went to comedy show so we didn’t get to bed until 1am! The comedian was John Knight and he was pretty funny!
I am really impressed with how customer service oriented the crew is. They are always saying hello when they pass by. If I need anything it is given quickly with a smile. I see a big change in the attitude of the staff and crew. I hope this is the new norm for the whole fleet and not just for this ship. This makes us want to cruise more often again.

6/3/14 At Sea
After breakfast in the dining room (I had steak and eggs again!), we walked on the track for 90 minutes. By then we went to meet up with my cruise critic friends but I didn’t recognize anyone. We walked around the ship for a while until lunch time. After lunch we went to the sauna and steam room. Next was arts and crafts where we made corded bracelets. It was not very organized because it didn’t seem like anyone was in charge. One guest just told me to get a packet of materials and read the directions. The crew member sitting on the side finally said she was just there to give it out but didn’t have any idea how to make the corded bracelets. So, we ended up taking our stuff and leaving. Then we had tea and decided after to take a short nap. Before dinner we went to the show featuring a juggler and then had dinner. It was a really pleasant day!

6/4/14 St. Maarten
We had a lovely day in St. Maarten on Wednesday. At 9am. we took the water ferry across to the beach and at first the captain had everyone get off at the first stop. Since we were the last ones off, I asked if he didn’t go to the second dock (closer to the beach area) and he said I could get on there on the way back. Then I told him that I wanted to go there now and he ended up taking us over there. Then we went to see our friend Suzette at the Caribbean Blend restaurant who ran out and hugged us! She told us to get our chairs and umbrellas from her brother Dwight. First we walked around town and went to the local supermarket. I bought some licorice candy there. When we got back to the beach, we got our chairs and umbrella from Dwight for $10 and a bucket of 5 beers for $10. We met 2 other couples who were on the Oasis to the Seas ship and spent the afternoon talking with them. About 4pm we headed back to the ship so we could get something to eat. We took a nap before dinner. After dinner we met up with my cruise critic friends at the Piano Bar and found out this was the only night it was closed!

6/5/14 St. Kitts
We got off the ship at 8am and walked around town until 11am. I bought some superglue to fix my sandal ($1) and a diet coke ($2). We also found the postcard lady and she gave me her card. The postcards were $1 each and she autographed each one. We bought a set to bring home and we mailed a set home. On the way back we bought some magnets made from calabash and hand painted by the artist (I took photos of her signing them). Then I bought a diet Pepsi for $2. We got back on the ship and the only thing open was the pizza place so we ate some pizza. Then we went to the sauna and the steam room. After that we tried the burrito bar which was a lot like Chipotle Grill where you build your own burrito. After a nap in the afternoon we watched the ship pull out of the port. Again, we were late pulling out but I’m not sure why. We did hear them call some names of people missing so maybe we were waiting on them. At 7pm we met our cruise critic friends in the Millennium atrium bar before dinner. After dinner we went to the show called Getaway Island which we didn’t think was so great. The show started off with technical difficulties and had to restart about 10 minutes later. Then we didn’t think the singing was that wonderful.

6/6/14 San Juan
We got off the ship at 7:30am and headed to the ferry at Pier 2 which was right beside the pier where our ship docked. We didn’t wait too long before it arrived (around 7:50) and it only cost us .50 per person for our short ride over to Catano. There were 2 other couples and 1 man from the ship on the ferry going to the same place. Then we got out of the pier and turned right until a cab driver asked us if we were going to Bacardi and he loaded us in the van to drive us there for $3 per person. We got there around 8:40am and we were on the first tour at 9am It was a great tour which was free plus they gave us 2 free drinks. We had no trouble getting a taxi back to the pier for $3 per person and then paid another .50 per person to take us back to Old San Juan. So, this whole excursion cost us $7 per person and the ship would have charged us $40 per person! We got there around 11:30 and walked around town. Don found his second hand shop again so we spent an hour in that shop. We got back to the ship around 1:15 and the line to get on the ship was horrendous! We finally got on at 1:39. I was starving so we headed up to lunch. We met the cruise critic group at the Red Frog Pub at 4pm and then we had the VIP reception at 4:30. Before dinner I gathered my laundry since it is free for us as Platinum members and my cabin steward collected it. We decided to walk around the ship before dinner and ended up visiting with our dinner mates until dinner time. After dinner we went to the magic show and I had a hard time keeping awake because he was so terrible and boring.

6/7/14 Grand Turk
We had a relaxing day in Grand Turk on Saturday. We got off the ship around 10am and walked along the beach past the rocky point to the right of the ship. Around there we saw tons of shells, especially conch shells. I swore I wouldn’t bring one home unless I found a perfectly intact one because I thought it was impossible to find one. Amazingly enough, I found one and had to lug that heavy shell around the island with me! We walked back along the sandy road and then looked in the shops. By then it was 11:30 and we decided to go back to the ship since it was lunch time. Don didn’t feel that great and it was so hot out. Finally I got to go to the Mongolian Wok since the lines were not long (I was the 3rd in line!). Then I wanted to sit outside in a lounge chair but it was so hot that I lasted about 5 minutes. Don had gone to the cabin to take a nap so I went back for a nap too. Around 4pm we went back to the Lido deck and got a burger and fries. Then we met up with my cruise critic pals at the Sports Bar. For dinner I had chateaubriand which was delicious! We had an early night and didn’t go to the show.

6/8/14 At Sea
We had a lazy day at sea. We went to brunch in the dining room and I had filet mignon and macaroni and cheese. We also used our drink coupons to get bloody marys which were delicious! At noon I met up with the cruise critic friends. At 3pm we went to the bingo game with our raffle tickets in hopes of winning a cruise but we didn’t win. At 3:30 I went to the arts and crafts but they were making the same things as the other day. Whenever we had time we packed our suitcases. It was sad to say goodbye to our new friends!

6/9/14 Debarkation
We went to breakfast at 6:30am and then met at our “Platinum Members meeting place” at 7:30. We were off the ship by 8:15. My parents picked us up by 8:45. Getting off the ship was fast and easy.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

1 comment:

Sioux said...

Pat--After reading your post, I feel like I've been on my first cruise. ;)

I guess I DON'T feel like I missed out on the magic show, some of the singing, and the non-crafty arts and crafts.

It sounds like you had a great trip. Now, you can rest and get back into your regular routine. (However, since you do so much, what IS routine for you?)

I'm late sending your book--will take it to the post office this afternoon. This summer I'm co-teaching Gateway Writing Project's Summer Institute (a National Writing Project site) so I'm working with teachers four days a week, from 9-3, and am worn out already--but worn out in a marvelous way. ;)