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BoomerSoonerCruisers

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About BoomerSoonerCruisers

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Oklahoma City, OK
  • Interests
    traveling, sports, lounging, and family time
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Carnival
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Roatan

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  1. Our cabin was small, maybe yours will be larger because it is for four people. We had the two twin beds converted to a king but there was not a sofa to convert to another bed. As long as you don't spend much time in the room and have some organization the four of you will be fine in the room. My SO took most of his showers in the gym. The casino is small but was large enough for us. We only spent an hour or so in there. When walking by it never looked crowded. Enjoy your cruise!
  2. I'm sorry, I didn't get pictures of the menus. There was a clothesline in our cabin.
  3. The food in the dining room was good. There were some dishes we enjoyed and others we weren't crazy about. The sea day brunch was excellent. We did not eat at the buffet for any of our meals. We also did not each sushi or seafood (I don't even remember seeing a seafood shack or other option) Guys Burgers - they were good, just as I have had on other ships. In previous cruises you order the type of burger you want, this cruise you went through the line and they handed you the plate with burgers and fries so you had to go over and add what you wanted from the topping bar. This created congestion and frustration as more people than usual swarmed around the topping bar. Blue Iguana - the breakfast burritos are usually one of my favorite meals on the cruise. This was not the case this time. I tried them two separate times and the eggs/sausage were not warm and lacked flavor. Deli - On the Freedom I fell in love with the meatball sandwich. I had two on this cruise, one was not put in the oven long enough and was still cold. The second time I asked them to leave it in oven longer and it was excellent. Room service - we ordered late night room service one night. We ordered the firecracker shrimp and chicken quesadilla, both were delicious and well worth the minimal charge. We agreed this was probably the best meal we had on board. Entertainment Erin was our Cruise Director and we enjoyed her personality and enthusiasm. Her trivia events were fun, especially Friends trivia. Playlist Productions: 88 Keys - we skipped this as we had seen it two other times. Studio VIP - was great, may be my favorite show so far. Amor Cubano - maybe because we were still mourning not getting to go to Cuba that this was one was just ok. It is a love story and the vocals were excellent, just no dancing. There were no costume changes and songs were sung by two performers while the others sat on stools and sung back up vocals. We went to one bingo event, it was typical. We went to karaoke a few times and the male host was a complete jerk, not like any staff we have ever encountered on a ship. The other time we went there was a different host and she was great. Our comedians in the comedy club were good. I believe their names were Marvin and Vince, I could be wrong. Andy the comedy club host was fantastic and is next in line for a cruise director job, he will make an excellent cruise director. I think we saw most of the shows. The band on board was amazing. We caught a few of their shows. Piano Bar Musician, Sam, was excellent at his job but again his personality was a little hard to get used to. He had a very dry sense of humor and didn't seem to care about the guest experience. I know its common for piano bar musicians to request tips but he seemed to mention it in between every song and refused to play one song because the tip attached to the request was not large enough. Again this didn't negatively affect my cruise, I enjoyed listening to him play and singing along with him I just ignored his banter between songs.
  4. I liked the balcony. I've never cruised in a cove balcony but I have a feeling it is bit similar to that. Our other balconies have been much higher up with a deck or life boat below. It was nice to be able to look down and feel so close to the water and not have to look out to see the water.
  5. We decided we prefer newer ships. Someone pointed out on our cruise the Sensation is almost 30 years old. Although updates have been made on the ship over the years it is still very dated. The outdated areas/décor do not bother me as much as the size/layout of the ship. Our cabin was very small compared to those we have sailed previously. We are both larger people so size of the cabin is important to us, we often book in suites if we are able. Due to the cost of the suites on this cruise we opted for a Balcony. Also although the Sensation holds less passengers/crew it felt very crowded in public areas. It was nice deciding to walk from the front to the back of the ship didn't feel like making a huge commitment every time.
  6. We just returned this past Saturday 6/22 from our 5 Day cruise on the Sensation. This was a cruise that was originally supposed to go to Cuba but the itinerary was changed to Grand Turk. We were in Cabin M126 (Balcony) Ports of Call: Nassau, Half Moon Key and Grant Turk
  7. DAY FIVE OCHO RIOS: I think Ocho Rios was the port everyone else in my family was looking forward to the most. We booked ahead with Chris Jamaica Tours. Communication was great as we exchanged few emails before our arrival setting up our itinerary for the day. The directions on how to find Chris' driver once we arrived in port could have been a little more clear but thankfully the others we encountered on our walk pointed us in the right direction. Once we arrived to our driver we quickly boarded the van and were on our way. The van appeared to be fairly new and had good A/C. Chris and I worked together ahead of our arrival to develop our itinerary or list of things we wanted to do. The first place on our list of things to do was to visit the Blue Hole. To our surprise when we arrived at the Blue Hole we drove right past it. Our driver informed us that there are two areas of the Blue Hole and we went to the one further up the road. The signs said Island Gully Falls, I do believe it is all connected and just two separate areas to enter. We paid our $15 entrance fee and were assigned a guide. Our guide was helpful but I felt as if he rushed us along, like the quicker we left the quicker he would be assigned to another group. The falls were absolutely beautiful and it was a bit crowded but nothing like Dunn's River Falls. We were able to jump off the falls and rocks at different heights. Surprisingly our parents (seniors and not in the greatest climbing shape) were able to enjoy this as well with the assistance from our guide. In addition to our guide we were assigned a photographer who followed us through the different areas snapping pictures of us. At the end of our time there our guide led us back to an area where our photographer had all of our photos pulled up to sell us a CD of all the photos for $60. I personally am not paying any money for pictures of me in a swimsuit so I was not interested. My mom and sister on the other hand can't turn down a picture no matter how horrible they are and the quality of these photos were not great. I felt the ones I took on my iPhone were just at good. They purchased the CD with all the photos for $50. Our next stop was river rafting with Calypso Rafting. I believe we were one of the first groups of the day to arrive at Calypso. We paid our admission $25 a person and were shown to the area where we were greeted by our guide. We were given our rafts and had a short walk to the entrance point into the White River. The White River was tree covered and just absolutely serene. I could have spent all day in that tube and on that river. Our guide was fantastic, he was helpful to keep us moving along and out of the brush on the side. He sang reggae as we made our way down the river. A few times throughout he mentioned that if we enjoyed our time we should show him by tipping him. He also made a point to tell both my mom and myself at different times that the other guides didn't want to take our group because we were only a group of six and they make more money off larger groups. Our guide gave us the opportunity to stop at a halfway point, he said at that point we could get out enjoy jerk chicken, drinks and purchase handmade goods. We chose to keep on going and not stop because when we got to the point we were the only people there besides the people that would have been trying to sell us things. There was also a photographer that followed us along the river and took our pictures. This time the pictures were a little better but I still have no interest of pictures of me in a swimsuit. Once we arrived at the end of the rafting tour there was a small shop to purchase souvenirs and your pictures. This time the photos were better priced, $30 for all of the photos emailed to us. No surprise here, my mom and sister purchased the photos. We were back in the van headed to what we thought was somewhere to eat lunch when our driver pulled into an parking lot of a building that was clearly a souvenir shop but not in a tourist area. I was a bit annoyed that we didn't ask to go souvenir shopping but yet we made a stop there. He of course gave us the option of going in, we weren't forced in. My mom and sister are souvenir junkies, me on the other hand am a minimalist so it's all junk to me. Before we went in, our driver told us that they will bargain and make deals. We went in and the shop was large and had a lot of options but we were followed around by staff, which annoys me, just let me look without tying to make deals. I did end up buying some jerk sauce and rum cake there while my family bought so much stuff I was worried we wouldn't all fit in the van, ok maybe not that much but I bet they had three or four bags full of stuff. I've heard of shops like this that offer the drivers and tour operators cuts if they bring tourists there, this felt like the case here. After shopping we went to an area up on a hill where we were able to take photos of the ship. The view was amazing. After our quick stop for pictures we were on our way to Scotchies for Jerk Chicken and a Red Stripe. The jerk chicken was so good, I've thought of it many times since our day in Jamaica. We invited our driver to have lunch with us. Our time at lunch he was able to share more about the culture and we were able to ask questions, this also occurred while driving but our questions were limited due to taking everything in. After lunch my sister decided that she was now a Jerk Chicken fan and was kicking herself for not buying any of the sauce previously when I did. Our driver took her to two different supermarkets so she could get some, he went in with her to make sure she got the right one. Our day in Jamaica was great and I recommend hiring a driver for the day. We likely could have experienced most of what we did on a cruise ship excursion but it wouldn't have been as personable. Our driver was so informative and pointed out landmarks and all sorts of points of interest. We drove by the Ocho Rios High School just as the morning session was ending and the afternoon session was beginning. The number of students was shocking and it was clear why not all the students attend at the same time. It was time to head back to the ship. Once back on board me and my niece headed to the pool while I'm not sure where the others were off to. We skipped dinner because of our late lunch at Scotchies, we would grab something from the Deli later in the evening. Tonight was the 88 Keys Playlist Production. The still experiencing technical difficulties so the performance was different than usual. We were still entertained and impressed with the performance. Carnival had brought in additional entertainment and tonight was a Variety Show by Edge. I skipped out on this show, I have no idea where I was but I'm guessing either the Casino or bed. My mom got called up as a participant in the show so later on the ship others would stop her and say hi. FINAL TWO SEA DAYS: We had made it to the final two sea days. My family was sad as they knew this meant we were nearing the end of the cruise. I was excited, as much as I enjoy cruising and family time I was ready to get home to my dog and boyfriend. Here is a list of some of the things we participated in during our last two sea days: -a lot of time in the pool or poolside, including the hairy chest competition which seemed a lot more PG than some others I've witnessed in fast almost everything on this cruise seemed more PG. -Build A Bear Workshops for the niece -We would try two different comedy shows over these sea days and each time we were too late to get a seat. Advise - if you want to go to a comedy show, go early! -Conzuela Ivy, another performer brought in to make up for the technical issues, she did not disappoint. She has one of the most beautiful voices I have ever head in person. She brought the stage to life with her personality and charisma. Look her up online. -80's Pop to the Max Playlist Production, sill having technical issues. The crew still put on a great show and I enjoyed rocking out to the 80s music. -Dr. Seuss Breakfast -Towel Folding - the niece and nephew enjoyed this on their last cruise and again enjoyed it. -Groove for St. Jude -80's Music Trivia -90's Music Trivia - this was so much fun. This occurred our last night and everyone was just really into it. For dinner on the last night we headed to our dining room at 6pm thinking we could get in and get out in time for Lip Sync Battle at 7:30pm. We had a 30 minutes wait and at that time I knew we would be pushing it to make it to LSB but I didn't mention it to the family because I was afraid they would just want to leave and get dinner on Lido. Our service this night was extremely slow. Partially because the table next to us sent a steak (the free flat iron steak) back three times and demanded our waiter's attention. I don't know where the asst waiter was but we wouldn't see him until our appetizers were delivered. Our service was so slow this evening, we were able to see the Farewell Song performance twice. I ordered the NY Strip from the steakhouse this night, it was cooked to perfection. Our waiter apologized numerous times for the slow service, we weren't bothered, we were on vacation and we didn't have to cook or clean up our meal. We missed LSB but nobody seemed to really care. DEBARKATION: We had packed the night before and decided to carry off our luggage. We woke up before arriving into Galveston and headed to Lido to grab breakfast. After breakfast it was back to the room to gather our belongings and head to the theater, the designated area for FTTF guests. We had a short wait in the theater until we were cleared by customs. Once it was our time to debark we were up and off the ship in no time. My stepdad and I were off to retrieve our vehicles from Park N Cruise while the rest of the family stayed with the luggage at Port. We were loaded up and leaving Galveston just before 9am. Overall our cruise was wonderful! Before the cruise my mom was insistent that this would be their one and only cruise, they agreed to it last year after the grandkids asked them. Needless to say they are now booked to go on the Vista next year for Spring Break.
  8. DAY FOUR GRAND CAYMAN: This was the port I was most excited about. We woke up and enjoyed breakfast on Lido while waiting for the tenders to get started. We had purchased FTTF so we received a letter in the room the night before explaining what we needed to do to catch a tender. After breakfast we headed to Atrium on deck 3 as instructed. Once we arrived down there, we had to wait about 15 minutes before we were directed to the dining room to wait a few more minutes before being guided to the tenders. Those who didn’t have priority tender were instructed to pick up their tender tickets at Alchemy Bar. The tender to shore is a very short ride, just a few minutes. Once we arrived we split up. I had book an excursion with Fat Fish Adventures and my parents hadn’t booked one but were planning on just doing some site seeing and heading back to the ship early. We met Fat Fish Adventures just a short walk from the tender, near the Hard Rock Café. We were driven in a van to the area they keep the jet skis. Our guide was Andres from Ocho Rios, he was excellent. We were assigned our jet skis and quickly hit the water. My sister and nephew rode one while my niece and I were on another. There was one other group of 4 on the tour with us. Andres encouraged us to take the jet skis off on our own as long as we stayed near the group. We rode through a mangrove area then headed to Stingray City. Andres caught our stingray. He did an excellent job making us feel comfortable with her. We were able to spend as much time in the area as we wanted. After leaving Stingray City we drove the jet skis a short distance and did some snorkeling. The snorkeling wasn’t great but anytime I’m in the ocean is better than sitting at work. After snorkeling we drove over to Starfish Island, we arrived just in time for a small rainstorm. It was time to head back to park our jet skis. This was probably one of the best excursions I have done. I’ve ridden jet skis in a lake before but never in the open ocean, it was an amazing experience. After our excursion we went back to the port area and did a little shopping. We were all a little hungry so decided to grab a bite to eat at Sharkeez before getting a tender. Once we arrived back on board, we caught up with the parents to see what they decided to do. They said they found someone offering tours to Hell and the turtle farm. They seemed to enjoy their day in Grand Cayman. Since we ate a late lunch, we weren’t planning on going to the dinning room, we snacked all night from the deli and buffet. Tonight, was the Hasbro game show and my niece and nephew just love it so this was not something we were going to miss. Later that evening I attended the Love & Marriage Show, its one of my favorites however this time I wasn’t sailing with my boyfriend and none of the adults in my party were interested so I went by myself, that was a little awkward, but I didn’t care. After the show it was back to the cabin for me, the others were already there and ready for bed.
  9. Our wait times on the other two nights we ate in the dining room were 20+. It made absolutely no sense as we could clearly see many open tables. Because of the wait we only ate in the dining room a total of 3 times this cruise.
  10. DAY THREE COZUMEL: We made reservations for Mr. Sanchos. The ship docked in Cozumel around 7am and the gangways opened shortly after. We went ashore about 8am. We did a little shopping in port before heading toward the cabs. The line for the cabs was extremely long but in true Cozumel fashion they quickly moved us through. We grabbed a van and all six of us were on our way to Mr. Sanchos. At Mr. Sanchos we were seated at a table near the beach. I quickly secured a beach chair where I planned to spend most of the day. I think my niece was in the water before we even sat our bags down. We had paid for them to use the inflatable water area but it was a bit far from our chairs so they didn’t spend much time over there, in fact I don’t believe my nephew went over at all. People come around to get you to book parasailing, scuba, snorkel and massages as well as sell you bracelets and other things. My sister had planned for her and the kids to parasail while in Cozumel but they would only allow doubles and none of them wanted to go with anyone else. So, my sister and niece did the parasailing. My nephew and I decided to snorkel, this was with Blue Reef Divers. We paid $42 a person. We were told this would last an hour with 50 minutes being in the water. I didn’t pay attention to the time but I don’t believe we were in the water anywhere near 50 minutes. My nephew had attempted snorkeling from shore before and didn’t do that well so I was a bit nervous taking him out and snorkeling from the boat but he did fine. The guide really helped him a lot so much that snorkeling was his favorite part of the trip. The food and drinks were wonderful at Mr. Sanchos but the service was extremely slow. Our server had another table to demanded much more of his attention than we did so the service we received was affected by this. We had a back on-board time of 2:30pm. We headed back to port just as it started pouring rain. Some of my group stayed in port to do some more shopping but me and the kiddos headed back to the ship in hopes of getting in a nap before having to get ready for our elegant night. This night was Playlist Productions: Heart of Soul, again with technical difficulties but the cast did an excellent job putting on the show still.
  11. OUR ITINERARY: Saturday March 16th – Galveston Sunday March 17th – At Sea Monday March 18th – Cozumel 7am-3pm Tuesday March 19th – Grand Cayman 9am-5pm Wednesday March 20th – Ocho Rios 8am-4pm Thursday March 21st – At Sea Friday March 22nd – At Sea Saturday March 23rd – Back in Galveston PRE-CRUISE PLANNING: I personally enjoy planning vacations, researching and planning as many details as possible but am laid back enough to not care if things don’t go exactly as planned. We purchased FTTF as soon as it was available. We also purchased the Pixels Plus package the few days it was available. All our excursions were planned months in advance. OUR SHIP: Carnival Freedom. We were the second cruise post dry dock. When we booked the cruise, we weren’t aware she would be going into dry dock. When the kids heard Water Works was being added they were thrilled. I had not cruised on the Freedom before, so the updates were all new to me. Some in our FB group were vocal about how disappointed they were in the upgrades, it’s almost as if they expected her to come out looking like the Horizon. I thought she looked great and was not at all disappointed in the upgrades or lack thereof for that matter. Updates that I noticed: Water Works, new flooring in some public areas, the lady’s bathroom on deck 5 aft had been updated, updated blow dryers in public restrooms, the Deli and Bonsai Sushi. STAFF: Simon London was our Cruise Director and was fantastic. I personally find the Cruise Directors and Fun Staff to be cheesy, but I know that is what is expected of them and most people really enjoy it. They did an excellent job of cheesing it up this cruise. I only saw our room steward twice, once on the first day and once in hallway about halfway through the cruise. As always, we had positive interactions with all the staff we encountered. TRAVEL DAY 1: We left OKC around 10am. Made a stop in Garland, TX to visit with my 93-year-old grandfather, it is such a blessing to spend any amount of time with that man. Left Garland headed for Houston. We were making excellent time until I said “Hey do you all wanna stop at Buc-ee’s?” in Maddisonville. It was as crowded as I have ever seen a Bucc-ee’s and this one is in such a poor location, I feel they completely underestimated the traffic. We sat for what was probably 30 minutes waiting to get out of the parking lot. Maddisonville needs to hire a traffic consultant and redesign that intersection, they should make Buc-ee’s pay for it. After hitting some traffic after a major wreck near Huntsville we finally arrived at our hotel in North Houston. All the hotels in Galveston were booked by the time I remembered we needed to find a room pre-cruise. I ended booking two rooms at the Best Western Plus Houston I-45 North, it met all our check marks. The hotel was only a few months old, so it was still clean and felt new. The staff at check-in were friendly. The AC worked great, it was near restaurants, we felt safe and had free breakfast. DAY 1 GALVESTON: We left our hotel around 9:30am to make our way to Port. I-45 South through downtown Houston was closed for the weekend for construction. Thank goodness for the Waze app for finding us a detour that really only added a few minutes to our trip. I was so excited I have no idea it was when we arrived to Port but I’m guessing it was around 10:30am. I drove my car and step-dad drove their truck. We dropped off the family and luggage at the port. We pre booked our parking with Galveston Park N Cruise for $208 for indoor parking for our two vehicles. We quickly parked the cars and walked the short walk back to the cruise terminal to meet back up with the family. Since we had purchased FTTF we were able to go right in. We brought on soda, in the past they had opened them to check the cans, this time they did not. Check in was smooth. The parents and sister set up their cash account, I prefer to put a credit card down and not have to worry about using cash. By the time we made our way over to the FTTF seating area it was almost full. We were some of the last ones to arrive in the area before boarding started. Boarding started with the one wedding party, followed by Diamond, Platinum and Suite Guests. Finally, it was time for FTTF to board. My mom is easily excited and hasn’t traveled much as an adult, I was anxiously waiting for her reaction to stepping on the ship for the first time and her reaction did not disappoint. We made our way to our cabins to drop off the soda and carryon bags. We booked 2259 and 2263, we had adjoining cabins. These cabins were right by the middle elevators, we loved the location. We didn’t notice any excessive noises coming from the elevator area. In my cabin was myself, my sister, nephew and niece. Mom and stepdad had a cabin to themselves. Our cabins were clean and in great shape, even though I don’t believe they received any special attention during the dry dock. They were the traditional Carnival Oceanview cabins, nothing special but we spend very little time in our cabin. I’ve cruised in suites, balconies and ocean views and enjoyed them all the same, to me if the cabin is clean and comfortable, I’m happy. Others complained of a strong sewage smell on Deck 2, I did not notice a smell at all. One day our toilets were down for about an hour while they were working on it, but it didn’t affect us at all because we were out of the room. Our shower was slow to drain but never got to the point it overflowed. After we dropped everything off in the cabin we headed up to Lido. Right after getting off the elevators and before entering the pool deck a staff person was there doing the sign ups for the Dr. Seuss breakfast. It was $5 per person, my sister and niece signed up for it the rest of us decided we would skip it. We then made our way to stand in line for Guy’s, my nephew had been telling my parents about Guy’s burgers for over a year, it lived up to the expectations. The line was long but moved quickly. It was cold and cloudy outside in Galveston so that put a bit of a damper on the moods on Lido deck. A few brave children had the suits on and were in the hot tub, but I didn’t notice any of them using the water slides. We walked around exploring the ship for a while. We agreed we were going to hang out in the room until the Muster Drill. Our Room Steward came in and introduced himself and gave us the child life jacket for my niece. We were in Muster Station E. All muster stations were on deck 4 outside. It went about like normal, waiting for people to show up. It was cold outside but a lady standing under an exhaust got hot and passed out. Once Muster was over, we headed to Lido for the Sail Away party, again the weather really put a damper on this. We had Anytime Dinning in the Chic Dining room. The first night we were able to walk right in to a table, this would not happen any other time on this cruise. I’m sorry I did not get any photos of menus. After dinner we went to the Welcome Aboard Show hosted by Simon and was treated to a preview of what to expect out of the Playlist Production shows. Me and the kids called it a night early on the first night, I believe the others went to the adult comedy show. To be continued………
  12. ABOUT US: Cruising this time was my mom, step-dad, sister, nephew (13), niece (10) and myself. We booked this cruise back in March of last year after returning from a 5 day out of Galveston. This was my mom and step-dad’s first cruise. We all live in the Oklahoma City metro area, so Galveston is a "short" 7-hour drive (if everything goes exactly as planned and the traffic cooperates) on our travel days.
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