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SeeingTheWorldBySea

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  1. Woah the villa suite nice. I'd love to hear about it and see some pictures of you're willing to share. Enjoy it!
  2. Well one thing to point out is that the tips were based on service to 6 or 8 people. The biggest one which was the stateroom steward was for 6 people occupying 2 cabins. So if you break it down a bit and say that the $17.50 per person per day is split among how ever many crew whether it be 10 or 100 it comes out to mere cents. Even the $120 we gave only breaks down to about $2.50 per person per day extra. I can't even buy a morning coffee for that amount. I am not advocating for more tipping or saying one thing is right over another. When my husband and I first started cruising we didn't tip extra then it became maybe $30 more at the end of the week. Now we always travel as a group of 6 so I tend to be a bit more generous. I too sometimes worry about looking cheap but the reality is you're never going to see the crew again so who cares if they think you are cheap or generous. Do what you want to do.
  3. Hi Cruisegus- yes have Mrs.Cruisegus take something for sure before going on the Cosol tour- it is long day of up and down the hills. We too love the Southern Caribbean itineraries and have been a few times ourselves. My husband and I did a B2B out of San Juan in 2010 when he came back from a deployment and it was amazing. I really feel like we could have easily stayed on board another week this time too. I recall seeing the Calabaza catamaran alongside of us (Silvermoon) at a few of the stops. The first stop was to get view of some turtles. We got one lazy one that was munching something off the bottom. If you can tell from the picture this stop was a little "crowded". We weren't close to the other boats but we weren't alone either. A couple in our group chased our lazy turtle away (even though we were all told not to get to close) when he finally came to the surface so we only got a quick glimpse. I'd say we spent about 20 minutes here. The next stop was literally a few hundred feet away and this stop was longer. Again we weren't alone but it wasn't too crowded. I stayed behind just off the back of the catamaran because the kids wanted to get in the water. I was so pleased to see my 16 month old in her life vest (that I brought from home) in the Caribbean Sea! It was so cool. My husband and father went over to the shipwrecks and said they saw a ton of cool fish. From there we sailed a bit down the coast before heading back in the other direction to anchor off the shore near Sandy Lane where we had lunch and then was given about an hour to swim. We swam to shore which was actually challenging because of the currant so we didn't stay long. Getting back was much easier. After each romp in the water we were offered fresh warm water to rinse off with. We were back by 2pm- so 5 hours in total. Sailing with Silvermoon was great and we are totally going again in the future. If you go on their website a chat thingy will pop up and you can ask them questions. I did the chat a few times before booking since it is pricey I wanted to make the right choice. Calabaza gets great reviews as well so I don't think you can go wrong with a private catamaran as opposed to the ones with larger groups. As for the tipping everything was for the group of 8 except the $120 we gave to Max our room steward. That was for the GS and connecting balcony room. I am not sure what if any my aunts gave- and they were probably the most work for Max so they should have lol. Have a wonderful cruise- safe travels. Have a coconut cookie from the cafe for me-I totally wish i filled a ziplock full of them before departing.
  4. Thank you for reading! Thank you reading my review! I booked through Scooter Snorkeling Antigua. The owner is Damon and he goes by Skylork here on CC. His email address is info@skylork.com. He set me us with his cousin Stanley who took us around. Thank you for reading, I am glad you enjoyed it and made it through all my words. Freedom is a great ship. So happy you enjoyed my review. I will get the compasses and the inserts posted soon. Thank you for taking the time to read my review. It was thorough and I still feel like i could say more! As for your question, I did not pre-pay the gratuities but just had them post to my onboard account. I did not make changes to the amounts so it was $17.50 a day for my husband and I and $14.50 a day for each kid. I gave extra here and there because I really feel like the crew works incredibly hard and when you talk to them they talk about their babies back home it pulls at my heart strings. One crew member we met in windjammer has a 6 month old back home that she skypes with each day. I couldn't imagine. So maybe a few extra bucks here and there and they could take a tour off to enjoy their families. IDK.
  5. I can look at the planners tonight and let you know. I do know the windjammer catered to the masses most evenings and I am not sure if it was a theme night or not but on the last night mostly everyone had their Christmas pajamas on in the promenade.
  6. On departure morning we went to Chop’s around 7:30 and then headed to the suite waiting area for 8:45. Our flight wasn’t until 1:40 so we weren’t in a rush. Again, another reason to book a suite. Separate waiting area, escorted by the concierge off the ship, luggage in terminal waiting all by itself, separate line at customs. We got out and through customs in minutes. Again, I booked with Go Puerto Rico Shutttle and we found them right away. The porter we had this time waited with us while the shuttle came around to get closer. I gave him $35 because he was held up a little bit. I could see he was anxious to get back in the game. The ride back to the airport was $95 and we tipped him $30. The porter we had at the airport was wonderful. The luggage has to go through USDA inspection before it can be brought to the ticket counter. This is pretty dumb since after it goes though the xray machine you then take possession of it again, meaning if you had anything you wanted to take back like a coconut you could always add it after it’s been screened. It’s not like TSA where you don’t see the bag again until you get to your destination. Yes, they put a sticker on the bag but that’s not enough. I feel like it needs to be more secure to make sense. The porter then helped us get all of our luggage tags on the bags and right up to the agent. He was with us for a while because I had to weigh some of the bags and add in our toiletries from the night before. I gave him $45 because we took so much of his time. Our flight was delayed an hour so we spend quite a bit of time in the san Juan airport. Bring your wallet as food is expensive. 2 burgers, a chicken tender, and 1 drink= $38. A few more random thoughts: Really the grand suite is the way to go if you can afford the extra money. I didn’t use the concierge lounge but everyone else did and it seemed really nice. The space in the stateroom alone to me is worth it. The shower is spacious but the sprayer tends to soak everything in its path. Be prepared to wipe down the granite seat area of all your toiletries will be swimming away. Also on Allure I brought an inflatable tub for the baby to bathe in. It didn’t fit well in this tub. Thankfully I had a cheap shower mat so they wouldn’t slip and slide. One morning we ordered room service breakfast by putting the card out. I got a call saying it was on the way right when I requested it for. We didn’t order much, a fruit plate, yogurt, bagel, scrambled eggs. I tipped the guy $10. Another time my husband ordered plain pasta, a burger and fries for the 3 year old who slept through lunch. Again $10 tip. Room service was much speedier than on Allure. One morning they called my parents room asking if they ordered and they said no. I saw it on the bill but it fell off. I’m guessing it was just a mistake in the room number. My 16 month old kept to her early mornings like she does at home and was up most days at 5:30. My husband and I would take turns getting her out of the room and down to the café to get some milk and stroll around the ship. If your kids are milk lovers like mine they will find the milk on the ship “weird”. The carton stuff must be powdered milk because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated once it is refrigerated or opened. The only place to find decent milk is in the café out of the pump like you’d make coffee. So each morning we would go there. This was the only time I really wandered around the ship. It wasn’t until day 5 that I found the rock climbing wall and the putt putt (never to be visited again). Max our room attendant got sick on day 5 and we didn’t see him again until the morning we were leaving. His helpers- one of while I’m pretty sure was his girlfriend- were both friendly but our rooms were late getting cleaned up. I tend to do most of the pre work for the stewards (ie- put all trash in one bag, pull up the bed linens, pile up all the towels) so they are in and out quick. We gave Max $120 at the end of the week. I’d like to think he shared it. This was our second Royal cruise and both times we had the refreshment package. For me I’m going to say I won’t get it again. I don’t drink soda, I can only have so many specialty coffees in one day, and getting bottled water was kind of a pain. If you ordered a drink you could get 1 small bottle of water. If not, then 2 small ones. I want a big bottle so I don’t have to keep coming back. Plus this was very port heavy so we weren’t on the ship often. I probably went to the freestyle machine 10 times and every time I got peach vitamin water. For me I realized the package is a waste. It’s only 1 week. I don’t need anything other than what is included. Overall impressions of the ship- comparing it to Oasis class on Allure in March I can say I liked Allure better. I really enjoyed the “neighborhoods” especially the boardwalk area at night for the kids. I would travel on Freedom again, after refit of course, but for the ports and not so much the ship. I am not sure what areas will be upgraded in refit but I can hope they get new carpets from top to bottom, and the tile in windjammer needs to be replaced. I saw lots of comments on CC before we sailed that other vacationers were rude, congregating in areas, loud, etc. I can say that I never saw any of this. There was some impromptu marching band that would pop up every now and then, and there were quite a few quinceaneras (the dresses were beautiful) celebrated this week that would draw larger crowds, but overall we didn’t notice anything out of the norm. Everyone was respectful and if there was a language barrier the person just smiled and didn’t reply. We had a ding dong dash on the first day but I was right on it and I caught the kid and called him out in front of his parents. He never did it again. If you are in a suite you can turn the doorbell off using the switch behind the door. We were in line at the next cruise office getting some info on Northern European and Transatlantic voyages. We saw a nice 15 day transatlantic that included Greenland for Sept 2020 but all the suites are sold out already. It was tempting to book something because of the reduced deposits but we passed. Nothing in the works right now. as we are relocating to Texas in the next few months. Can’t wait! Is anyone still here after all of this? I have the compasses from every day with the inserts if anyone wants to see them I can post them. Let me know.
  7. Saturday, Day 6, St. Maarten- This was a make your own adventure day. My mom and aunts did who knows what but they stayed on the ship all day. No wait, they got off so my aunt could buy a carton of cigarettes. Me, husband, kids, and dad took the water taxi to the beach right across from the ship. It was $6 each for the adults (had a coupon for $1 off each) roundtrip. Once at the dock of the beach a guy on the left grabbed our attention and escorted us to some nice chairs by the water. He said the SMX was his restaurant and we could go there for the bathroom, WiFi, whatever we needed. We never did but appreciated the offer. 2 chairs and an umbrella was $20. The kids played in the sand and the water for a few hours before we headed back to the ship. I gave the beach toys to one of the girls working the chairs as I didn’t want to lug them home. I will say it was a very nice beach but I was getting tired of the people trying to sell stuff. No, I don’t want a sarong, or a hat, or braids, or a massage, for the 20th time. My husband said there were hardly any fish or coral in the water. Perhaps still churned up from the hurricane? When we got back to the port we got some macaroons (pricey morels at 2 bucks each) and went back on board. After dropping our stuff in the room and bathing the kids, we went up to meet the rest of our group at Johnny Rockets. They had already eaten but we stayed and did our best at stuffing our faces. I tried to eat so much because I knew it was one price. I was stuffed sick afterwards. It was $11 each and milkshakes were part of the package. I gave the server and extra $10. Dinner tonight was at Sabor. Can I just say the guacamole is amazing? We don’t like heat so we got it mild and my 16 month old went nuts over it. My 3.5 year old didn’t eat anything besides a churro. I had the barbacoa tacos and I was pleased to see it was not face meat but instead short rib. They were delicious. The rest of the evening was spent finishing packing and setting the bags out.
  8. Friday was an at sea day and the day flew by. My husband went to the gym for a few hours and when he got back we went to the galley tour which was an invite for suite guests only. We have done galley tours because but it’s always amazing to see all the food prepped in mass quantities. The head chef that was giving us the tour kept mentioning how everything has a time stamp and if it is out for a period of time, as soon as the time stamp expires it gets thrown out. Lots of waste. I did notice most chefs had gloves on but some didn’t. After the tour I got my husband, kids, and dad settled by the pool. There were no seats anywhere. Not even one. Chair hogs maybe but it was a sea day so that is expected. From there I went with my mom and aunts to the main dining room for tutti salad for lunch and off to the art auction. Tutti salad is always fun but I guess I never noticed before that they don’t wipe the bowls or the cutters off before the next salad is made. Thankfully I am not allergic to anything but if anyone is they really need to speak up. I was grossed out a little but tried to ignore it. The person in front of me had salmon and the whole time I ate mine I kept thinking I tasted salmon. My mom and I stayed the whole auction and the piece I was there for was literally they last one. They did it in a mystery of 6 pieces. I was pleased with the price and can’t want to hang my newest piece. And the best part- my mom bought it for me. Thanks mom, you’re the best. Some people spent big bucks there. I recall a $12k and an $8+k bid on various pieces. Dinner this evening was main dining room because it was lobster night. I don’t eat seafood but I most others at my table had it. They did the part about thanking the servers, etc. I gave our servers $60 since we wouldn’t see them again on the last night.
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