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CheckersMidwest

May 26-June 1 Freedom Review with LOTS pictures (AND Food Porn)

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We are a family of 4 - Me, my husband, 21 yr old son, and 16 yr old daughter. This was our 2nd cruise. This was the 6 day with port stops in Key West, Grand Cayman, and Jamaica.

 

We flew Delta into Ft Lauderdale on Saturday from Des Moines. We always fly out of Kansas City, but Des Moines had better/more times and was actually cheaper this time. (We live right in between the two, literally) We were slightly delayed due to storms & would miss our connection and were in the process of changing flights (re-routed through Detroit!) when the pilot announced he had a small 'window' and for everyone to board right away. We landed at 2:45.

 

A college friend of my husband's lives in Ft Lauderdale and picked us up at the airport. They took us to the Hard Rock area which we really enjoyed. The Seminole Indian (Native Americans....) tribe owns it. It is huge...full of shops, clubs, a huge casino, restaurants, etc. It was a great place to wander around. I didn't take my camera....

 

We arrived at the port at 10:30ish. ry%3D400 That first glimpse of the ship:

 

 

We had Faster to the Fun. We told the luggage porter that when we got out of the van and they directed us to a specific spot for our luggage. We walked inside, right up to the counter, and checked in VERY quickly. The waiting room was quite full already and a Carnival employee did a great job of entertaining everyone until it was time to board. We were given a Priority Boarding zone card.

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I think they started the boarding process at almost 11:30. We were on board by 11:45. We went straight to our cabins. We were in Verandah 8327 and 8331 - balcony. Our luggage arrived shortly afterward.

 

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We looked around the ship a bit and went to the buffet. We ate lunch and breakfast there every day. We ate at the Fish & Chips place a couple of times, dinner every night in the Main Dining Room at 6:00, and the Taste Bar once.

 

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Thanks for doing the review. We did the Freedom last October and we loved it!

I'd like to sail on Freedom again, and always enjoy reading all reviews, seeing all the pictures, and reading what others did on the excursions!

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Here are pictures around the ship:

 

The back pool and hot tubs with the retractable dome roof for when it rains. The pizza place is also here.

 

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The Basketball and Volleyball courts

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The Lido area

 

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The Victoria Lounge at the front

 

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The Casino. I didn't participate because I have BAD luck, but the guys did and were quite successful.

 

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The Specialty Coffee Shop. I bought a plate of 3 chocolate covered strawberries here for $2.50 multiple times !

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Edited by CheckersMidwest

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My daughter went to Club 02 a lot. We pre-registered online, printed the forms and took them with us to the Meet & Greet at 5:15. They have all the age groups meet at that time, there is an orientation type meeting but not really necessary for this age group. We handed in her papers, met the Counselor, and left.

 

They have their own daily schedule with Dance Dance Revolution tournaments, 3 on 3 basketball & knock out, fooseball, movie night, etc. She met several new friends and loved it.

 

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There wasn't anyone in Club 02 when we looked at it.....otherwise no one over age 17 is allowed in. We tested out the fooseball table on the way by.

 

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The 70's Disco is next door. We went a few times but on the 80's night....they still played 70's music. They did the same thing on the Paradise last year. I am definitely an 80's girl......they did NOT play 80's music. I requested a couple & they played them, then right back to the early 70's stuff. We enjoyed the quiet music played in the buffet area the most ! (It was 80's). I also think a country night might work for them - several singing country at Karaoke.

 

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Son & I busting a few practice moves.....

 

The International lounge at the back is where the Comedy Shows were and usually Karaoke.

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Edited by CheckersMidwest

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We had early dining at 6:00 in the Posh Dining room. We went to dinner every night.The first sea day and the Jamaica day were Formal nights. I saw people in suits, shirts & ties, long & short dresses, pant suits, etc. One gentleman wore shorts and a tank top and the Matrie' D quietly asked him at the door to change before entering.

 

We were seated at Booth #423. At first I was disappointed we weren't at a table with others. We really enjoyed that on our last cruise. I considered asking to be moved, but decided it was ok. During the day, we went our separate ways then met for dinner, so it was a nice to time to visit and plan. It also gave me the chance to take pictures of our food (Food Porn) that I probably wouldn't have done if others were sitting with us.

 

Our Head Waiter was Jaydi (pronounced A.D.) and was wonderful. He made sure things ran smoothly. He occasionally slipped an extra dessert or something on my son's plate.

 

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Creme' Brulee

 

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Warm Chocolate Melting Cake

 

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Before Sail Away, we played Mini golf. You check out the balls & clubs at the hut by the pool.

 

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At 12:30, the day we were in Jamaica, they had a Putting Competition. We returned from our excursion in time, so my husband played and WON a ship on a stick !!

 

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More buffet pictures

 

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Chess Game on the Lido Deck

 

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We went to all the shows in the Victoria Lounge. The Welcome Aboard show was kind of slow, but still good music and choreography. They have a live jazz band, keyboard, and guitarist. Our favorite show was the Beatles tribute - Ticket to Ride on the last night.

 

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Edited by CheckersMidwest

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LOVE reviews with pictures, esp. of ships that I probably won't sail on. Kind of makes me feel like I was there! Thanks for sharing your cruise with us. ;)

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For the most part, we had great weather ! It rained in Grand Cayman a bit (torrential about the time to re-board), sprinkled in Jamaica, and rained a few times at night. One evening, the captain said there were 18 foot waves. They even considered cancelling the main show. I get sea sick & took Bonine faithfully. I took it two days prior, then every day. Even with the rocking, I was fine. It did make me really tired about 3:30 and again around 8:30. I may try the patch next time.

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Window on the Promenade

 

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Serenity Area

 

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Waterslide

 

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The first evening, they had an alcohol tasting in front of the Fun shops.

 

 

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Memorial Day in Key West.

 

This was our first trip to Key West and we loved it. We did the City View Hop on Hop Off tour. I booked on their website and printed the tickets for $19.95 each. It was about $10 per person cheaper than booking through Carnival. I think I read too that kids under 12 are free ?! We walked across the street from the big red Customs' building to a t-shirt shop. In front of it in the doorway was a podium to check in and the first stop was across the street. Very easy. We got off at a few stops and rode on through on a few others. It was hot and would have been a lot of walking.

 

There was so much to do !

 

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Here is the Red Customs House (History museum) from the ship - the City View trolley is on the other side.

 

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My husband pretended to catch a big one....

 

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Loved all the statues around the History Musuem !

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We walked around Mallory Square and did a little shopping.

 

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Chickens everywhere...

 

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One of the stops along the way was at Fort Zachary & Higgs Beach. We walked on the beach but didn't swim. There was a big sign warning about Portugese Man O War jellyfish. :eek:

 

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My son is a Fisheries & Wildlife major (Marine Biology) so we stopped at the Key West Wildlife Center while by the Fort. It was a quick & hot walk through. Not great.

 

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We also stopped at the Southern Most point of the United States. People were lined up for blocks to take their picture in front of it. We walked down to it.....stood up on top of the concrete divider wall....waited for the people to change places & took a picture from up high. We didn't get to be IN the picture, but didn't have to wait in line either.

 

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Right next to this, they were selling coconuts, water, snow cones, & pina coladas.

 

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Back in the main part of town we stumbled across a Coyote Ugly. Loved that movie !

 

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Across the Street, I found the Open air margarita bar I was looking for. It was called the Flying Monkey and is next to Fogarty's.

 

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Raspberry was delicious ! (They have 1 non alcoholic one too)

 

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We ate lunch at the Conch Republic Seafood Company on stop #8. It was really good ! I wanted to get some Key Lime Pie at Kermits which is also at this stop, but by now we were full, hot and tired. Back to the ship.

 

Time for Dinner:

 

This was my husband's. I don't know what it was called but it had shrimp, scallops, calamari, a piece of salmon on top and the oysters. He said it was excellent !

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This was my son's. I think it was prime rib......maybe.

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Waiters danced....

 

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Strawberry Cheesecake

 

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Fig something....

 

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Tonight's Towel animal:

 

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Monday night....I bought a new camera at the photo shop on board. I had/have an Olympus 35 mm that took excellent pictures. I moved on to digital with a Kodak easy share several years ago. It quit unexpectedly right before vacation in 2010. I bought another one quickly and haven't liked it since. I looked at some bigger Nikons & Canons this past fall but didn't like how big they were for carrying around. I also don't need all the extra/different lenses. I just need one that takes good pictures and will let me zoom without being blurry.

 

I bought the Olympus for $199. It has a 26 zoom & takes really good pictures. I walked around the ship Tuesday morning and took pictures all over again . It has a 'cuisine' setting and really did a good job on the food pix too !

 

Here's a couple new pictures of the buffet area:

 

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This is the dessert station.

 

At noon on the first sea day is a cooking demonstration in the Steak house. I got there about 11:40 and sat in the front row. They give you a program with the recipes. The chefs prepare an appetizer, a main dish, and a dessert in front of you then pass around samples. It was fun and very tasty !

 

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Pictures of the food samples:

 

Mushroom cappacino soup

 

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Cesar Salad with homemade dressing and spices.

 

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Grilled rosemary chicken with a special secret recipe macaroni & cheese

 

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Tiramisu for dessert. (It was SO good)

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The dishes presented when purchased in the steak house are 'prettier'.....

 

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I called guest services on embarkation day. I stopped by the desk on the Key West day. Finally today...I left a post it note on the mirror for our room steward to open the partition between our two cabins. Done.

 

I did use the Guest Services a few times. The regular line was fairly long - 10+ people. I only waited behind one person in the FTTF line. A very nice perk.

 

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Hairy Chest contest:

 

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Lobby area:

 

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The photo area: I bought several this time. Small ones are $11.99 and 8x10 are $21.99. They have an incentive program....buy so many & get a tumbler free.....buy 10 and get a free flash drive. Add $9.99 to that & they'll put any 10 you've bought on the flash drive. I wish they'd make 5x7 instead and sell them a little cheaper. My daughter & her 02 friends took several and all would like to have bought more of them.

 

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The hallway/promenade past the Casino, dance club, 02, and the Piano Bar

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Piano Bar

 

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I went to the spa on Sea Days. The first day, they had a 'Mix & Match' special. You chose from the list. 2 treatments was $99 and 3 was $119.

 

On the last sea day, they had a "Drift Away" special that offered a neck/shoulder massage, scalp massage, ankle/foot massage, hot stones, mini facial & an exfoliation treatment. It was one hour and $119.

 

The offered specials for teens and men too.

 

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We used the Serenity area today, took more pictures, sat on the balcony, etc.

 

The comedy shows were good. They had about 4 shows on the 2 comedy nights. There were 2 family friendly and 2 adult shows. They were packed, so get there early for a seat.

 

Karaoke was fun too. I wish I could sing. I especially like the Superstar Karaoke where the live band plays your music. Some of the people were great !

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Tonight was formal night. I saw a lot of men in suits, a few tuxes, and a few collared shirts & ties. Women were in long & short dresses as well as pant suits, etc.

 

Alligator from the Didja Ever menu....

 

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stuffed mushrooms

 

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corn chowder with vegetables (really good)

 

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Lobster & tiger shrimp

 

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prime rib ?!

 

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more pix in the next post....

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Before bedtime, there was a message on our phone from guest services regarding Faster To The Fun and tendering in Grand Cayman. We checked in at the desk, then they immediately escorted us to the front of the line. Very quick.

 

It was cloudy and rained a little off and on. We had planned a beach day at Royal Palms in the morning, then shopping back at the port in the afternoon.

 

This pirate was serious ! LOL

 

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We walked across the immediate port area, through the shops, across that street, across a courtyard, and into the next street. There was an area of white vans parked and a sign about the public bus system. I asked them if this was the bus that took us to Royal Palms. They showed us to a bus, waited just a few minutes for it to fill with locals & we were off.

 

It is $2.50 each and takes about 15 mintues. The driver announced when we were suppose to get off, right out front. I'd planned exact bills/change for today to make it faster/easier when paying. I gave him a $10 for the 4 of us with a couple one's for a tip.

 

It was suppose to be $2 each to use the facilities at Royal Palms but there wasn't anyone there that early to give our money to. I asked the bar tender & he said the guard wasn't here yet so he guessed were were free.

 

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We got our lounge chairs ourselves. When I saw that man walking around tidying up & stuff, I paid him $5 per chair. The sign says $10 but their website says $5.

 

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The water was beautiful !

 

 

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My son buried my daughter then they dug this big hole.....

 

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The man to rent snorkel gear and floats, etc from didn't show up.

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We ate lunch at the royal Palms restaurant and it was really good. Prices are in Cayman dollars. I thought I understood the exchange rate, but did not. It looked reasonable at about $10 or so each. We had 2 mahi sandwhiches with fries, a mango shrimp wrap plate, conch fitters, 2 alcohol drinks and 2 sodas. It was $96 !!

 

Conch Fritters:

 

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Fresh caught Mahi sandwhich

 

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mango shrimp wrap:

 

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We were walking out to the street to catch a bus when the taxi drivers were hassling us. It would be $5 per person for them. We said no, it would be half price on the bus. What do you know? He lowered the price to match the bus.

 

We had time to shop for awhile around the port area. I've never been too impressed with the shopping in Grand Cayman. I guess it's great for jewelry.

 

Free Rum Punch while shopping in the jewelry store:

 

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We all met at the Green Parrott when it started raining really hard. We took the tender back. The line on the right for the Paradise was really long. Our line was shorter. They got everyone on the tenders quickly.

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Ready for dinner:

 

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So....hypothetically....if you were to buy a small bottle of rum.....use the tie string on your swim trunks to tie through the handle on the plastic bag & tuck in your swim trunks and pull your shirt down over it....you might get it through security back on the ship. Just sayin'

 

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We did the usual after dinner.....shows, comedy, karaoke, dancing, piano bar, casino, etc. Our daughter split from us right after dinner every night to go to 02. The had activities until late - usually midnight or 1:00.

 

Tomorrow: Jamaica

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Ocho Rios, Jamaica

 

My husband & I stayed at a Sandals in Ocho Rios in 1998 for our 10th anniversary. We knew then you weren't suppose to stray from the property or go without a group.

 

I booked our excursion through Carnival for this exact reason. However, there were security guards all over. They wandered inside where the straw market is, they were on the street outside the market....and walked you across the street. They were at the corner of the shops and all along the street through that area. I really felt like they were trying to make everyone feel safe.

 

We booked the 8:00 am River Rafting trip. Our driver told us we were the only ship in port all week and this was their slow time. The bus took us through the outer parts of Jamaica up into the mountain. We saw homes, people walking, children in their uniforms going to school, goats, etc. The driver was excellent to tell us what we were seeing.

 

We stopped at the main building to use the restroom (not one at the start of the river), pre order jerk chicken to have ready when we get back, be fitted for helmets, etc. It took another 5 minutes to the top.

 

They had the tubes ready for us along with the life jackets. The driver stayed with the bus and said to leave anything on the bus we wanted & he watched it. Some people rented lockers back at the main building.

 

We had 2 guides in our group that were very entertaining ! They took good care of everyone. If you got 'stuck' over by the side, they moved you, etc. There was a little girl in our group & they stayed with her in the rapid sections for extra safety. No one flipped over. The water was very clean & clear. My only complaint is that there were a lot of spiders. I am terrified of spiders.

 

It took 3.5 hours from start to finish & was our favorite thing on the entire cruise. At the end, they offered pictures they'd taken when you were in the rapids. I bought 15 photos for $40. They had packages that were $20 & $25 too. They burned them immediately on a CD. I printed them yesterday at WalMart with no problems and downloaded them onto this computer.

 

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More Jamaica:

 

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We returned to the port area at 11:30. My husband went back on board to do the Golf Tournament. He won a ship on a stick !!

 

The kids & I did some shopping. We thought the prices were good here. I bought '2-sided' reversible dolls for some little girls back home. I got vanilla and jerk sauce for my dad. When going back through the scanner at security, the guard felt the bottles & asked if it was alcohol & I said no....it was vanilla & sauce, he said Ok and didn't open it. The kids got $5 t shirts for their friends, bracelets, etc. I got a 'coach' purse for $30 and my son bought a Bob Marley wood carving of some sort.

 

We headed back about 1:20 from the straw market right by the ship. The line wasn't bad....and it was still 2:05 when we got on board. We were suppose to be on board by 2:00. We went to our cabins and this is what the line looked like then:

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Sail Away was delayed. The Cruise Director came on about an hour later, maybe, and announced there had been a medical emergency that their ship doctor's could not take care of it. They were waiting on an ambulance and helping the family get off the ship. We sailed just over 2 hours late. I felt so bad for that family ! I think Jamaica would be the worst place to get sick/hurt. I can only imagine how their medical system is.

 

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That is the night that the waves were 18 feet high. The ship was ROCKING. We really felt it at dinner at the back of the ship and again at the show. They considered cancelling the show but did it anyway.

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Time for dinner again. The night of Jamaica, they had a midnight Mexican buffet. I missed the announcements nor did I see it written on the fun times, etc. My son came in and told us, he knew I wouldn't want to miss it. They had different salsas, chimichangas, burritos, etc.

 

 

Salad:

 

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shrimp cocktail:

 

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Oysters Rockefeller

 

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lasagna as an appetizer

 

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Filet Mignon

 

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Raspberry something....

 

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We liked the piano bar. The actual bar around the piano was always full. We sat at the tables.

 

He seemed to know all the songs requested and sang one right after the other. He sang some funny 'pub' type songs too. People sang along when they knew the words, etc

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Here's the last of the food pictures....

 

Frog legs from the Didja Ever menu

 

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Excellent Crab cake

 

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Mushroom

 

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crusted shrimp

 

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chicken breast over bacon macaroni & cheese

 

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Prime rib ?!

 

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lime sherbert

 

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This was some kind of soufflé.....they poured a sauce over it right before you ate it. My husband said it was his favorite.

 

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Our head waiter was Jaydi. He was excellent. He knew all about the items on the menu. He called us each by name all week and made sure we had everything we needed.

 

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Our last towel animals....

 

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Very nice review! I had to laugh, when I saw that you flew out of Des Moines becasue it was cheaper than KC. We live in Des Moines and haven't been able to "afford" to fly out of Des Moines on our last 3 vacations! We have driven to KC, Omaha, and Minneapolis. How the heck did you get so lucky?! I'd love to actually fly out of my own town for a change! LOL

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Great review! Doing the same cruise in 77 days!!!!!

 

I assume you and your children found the port in Jamaica to be ok? We were going to the bobsledding excursion, but my DH is afraid of heights and cannot take the sky ride to the top. So we thought about hanging out in the port.

 

How was disembarkation with FTTF? We have a 16 hour drive and want to be off the ship first thing.

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Memorial Day in Key West.

 

This was our first trip to Key West and we loved it. We did the City View Hop on Hop Off tour. I booked on their website and printed the tickets for $19.95 each. It was about $10 per person cheaper than booking through Carnival. I think I read too that kids under 12 are free ?! We walked across the street from the big red Customs' building to a t-shirt shop. In front of it in the doorway was a podium to check in and the first stop was across the street. Very easy. We got off at a few stops and rode on through on a few others. It was hot and would have been a lot of walking.

 

There was so much to do !

 

 

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Here is the Red Customs House (History museum) from the ship - the City View trolley is on the other side.

 

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My husband pretended to catch a big one....

 

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Loved all the statues around the History Musuem !

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Great review. We're sailing the Breeze in August and will be driving down from NC. We're going to stay in Miami for 2 nights prior to our cruise and DH plans to visit Key West on the Friday before we cruise. Would you mind supplying the link that you used to book your Key West excursion? Our DS is 11 so it would be a treat if he can tour for free but $19.95/person is a pretty decent deal if not. I'm really looking forward to our cruise.

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I just looked at the Hop on Hop Off brochure and went to their website to double check.

 

Kids UP TO age 12 are free with a paying adult. :)

 

Walk up and buy ticket price : $21

Online price: $19

Carnival Shore Excursion price: $29 (kids still free)

 

city view trolleys dot com (they have several cities - just click Key West)

 

Pick up a brochure when you're checking in. It has the map with a list of what is at each stop. I just now noticed it had 2 different coupons we could have used along the side !!

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Great review..really like the idea of this ship with some traditional shows and a nice regular spa with more less fee usable things...and the itinerary..all sound great..thanks so much..Sarah

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Activities for the week:

 

Club 02:

 

Sunday: Orientation, Roll out, Party Patrol,Welcome Aboard Party 10:00 pm

 

Monday: Game time, Foosball, apples to apples, Just Dance Off, Crazy Colors party, Dodgeball, Movie Time: Touchback 11:00 pm

 

Tuesday: Wii bowling, wacky photo race, gamers haven, Ninja & B/S, Hip Hop dance class, Teen choice, Dance like MJ, DTI Party, Teen dance class with Circle C 3:30 pm

 

Wednesday: Tekken Tourney, Digital Race, Foosball tournament 4:00 pm, Teens vs. Director Xbox, The Pre-party, Deck party, Late night pig out

 

Thursday: Bean bag toss, FIFA tournament 9:00 pm, movies Touchback, The Lorax, & We Bought a Zoo, P-Bone, Fight Night video games, Sickest Shades of Grey, Dodgeball payback

 

Friday: Board games, Ride the slide, Karaoke Craziness, ERS or Slap Jack, Abracadabra with Circle C, Foosball challenge, Last Call, Tshirt exchange, Last Blast Pizza, Farewell party 9:30 pm

 

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Daytime Activities - just a sampling from the Fun Times

Sunday: Welcome aboard music on the lido, Gym & spa tours, Bean bag toss, Trivia, Key West shopping highlights show, Spa raffle, Martini tasting, Free texas hold em demo, Free liquor tasting, Latin music, super star live karaoke, Ballroom dance class, Heat/Pacers game on big screen, Game Show Mania, $500 bingo, Welcome Aboard Show in main lounge, Adult Comedy show, casino

 

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Monday: 80's trivia, Adult games night, DOOR DECORATING contest, Love & Marriage show, Michael Jackson trivia, Thriller dance class, tribute hour in the dance club, trivia, matinee movie on deck, scavenger hunt, sports trivia, Art seminar, free facial bar, laser tag, spa classes, karaoke, texas hold em, latin music, bingo,

 

Tuesday: The Big Easy show in the main lounge, Captain's celebration, Comedy club shows, Diamond & gemstone seminar, Fun Finds shopping show, Food & Wine pairing, Bingo, Murder Mystery, Live champaigne art auction, indoor cycling, yoga, Disney trivia, ping pong tournament, watch sale #1, scavenger hunt, ice carving demonstration, Master Mixology competition, Hairy chest competition, black jack tournament, karaoke, Country Line Dance Class, Tea time, pilates, 70's & 80's hour in disco,

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http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a3d822b3127ccef3126402b40900000030O01AauHLRm5cMge3nwc/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00208093498520130603175410412.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

 

Wednesday: Talent show, art sale, watch sale #2, Chef's table, Mega Deck Party, 60 seconds or less game, bingo, karaoke, trivia, and more (don't have the side schedule - sorry )

 

Thursday: Daily puzzle, tv trivia, mini golf tournament, decades trivia, match game, Matinee: Jailhouse Rock on lido, Pool games, ping pong, Latin music, Heat/pacers game, Bingo, Jump, jive, & Wail in main lounge, Comedy Club, Electric White night in dance club.

 

Friday: Ticket to Ride Beatles tribute show in Main Lounge, bingo, $10 tshirt sale, $10 watch set sale, Bella Perlina bracelet sale, Groove for St Jude, jazz with the showband, Adult game night, trivia, Mr & Mrs Freedom pageant, Towel Folding demo, ping pong, scavenger hunt, stretch class, latin music, comedy club, karaoke, Motown Showdown in lobby, Salsa dance class

 

http://im1.shutterfly.com/media/47a3d822b3127ccef313867f944900000030O01AauHLRm5cMge3nwc/cC/f%3D0/ls%3D00208093498520130603175555267.JPG/ps%3D50/r%3D0/rx%3D550/ry%3D400/

Edited by CheckersMidwest

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