Jump to content
mn1111

My very old (with good reason) FOS western review

Recommended Posts

I have wanted to write a review of our family cruise last year on Freedom of the Seas and prior to going on the trip had fully intended to as soon as we got back. However, two days after our return home, my brother Michael who was on the trip with us died suddenly in tragic work accident and it was just too painful to even think about writing it. I don’t know why, but for some reason, I feel the need to write this now (maybe because I am doing the exact same ship and itinerary on the 27th). So please be understanding with me for writing a 1yr+ old review.

 

We spent a few days at Universal before the cruise so I will review that also. Robin took most of pictures with my then new Canon D20 lifeproof camera, which did the trick for what we wanted it for. She's not the best photographer, but if left to me we would only have about a half dozen pictures for the whole trip. We don't have much food porn or ship shots as most of what she took are standard family oriented vacation pics, but we do have some decent shots of the excursions we did on the islands.

 

Initially it was going to just be my brother Michael, his daughter Willow and myself on this trip. I had never done a cruise out of Florida before, preferring to sail out of San Juan as I’m not so crazy about sea days and two of them could be big trouble for me as I tend to spend too much time in the casino. However, in August 2012 Royal Caribbean had no ship sailing from San Juan, so after much contemplation we decided on FOS. We had thought about doing the Carnival ship which had a great itinerary, but I really wanted my niece to experience all the RCI big ship bells & whistles.

 

After we booked, I invited my cousin Robin and her family to join us and to my surprise she accepted (I had been trying to get her to go on a trip for years and had never been successful). Once Robin accepted, my cousin Maryanne and her family decided to join as well so we ended up with a total group of 12, which included the three of us, Robin and her husband Peter along with two of their youngest boys (14&16) and cousin Maryanne, husband Ian and their 3 boys (12-16).

 

Robins family along with my brother, Willow and I flew down on Thursday night and stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel at Universal Studios. Maryanne’s family would fly down Friday night and stay at the same hotel with us. We live in CT and had great direct flights out of White Plains, NY to Orlando which made the plane part of the trip stress free. All the kids were so excited especially the Jones boys (Robins sons) as they had never really traveled anywhere before.

 

Christian & William on their first plane ride, Robin sitting behind them!

 

PlaneRide.jpg

 

 

Upon arriving in Orlando we had arranged for Limocar Orlando to pick us up and take us to the hotel. As promised they were ready and waiting for us in the baggage pick up area. I remember like it was yesterday, how excited the kids were to get their vacation started!

 

 

A few shots of the limo ride to the hotel...

 

FOSVac_005.jpg

 

 

 

 

FOSVac_006.jpg

 

I know this a cruise board, but I want to take a minute to offer a few tips to anyone considering staying at Universal pre or post cruise. I did a lot of research and found significant savings by having one of us purchase an annual pass as it gives a big discount at any of the on-site hotels as well as 10% off of all other purchases (food, gift shop etc.). So the $280 I paid for the annual pass, saved over $800 on the hotel stay for two rooms over three nights and two rooms for one night at the end of the cruise, plus at least another $150 in food and other purchase savings (even if I didn’t buy the annual pass, I still would have had to buy myself a 3 day park pass for about $150 anyway). You can also renew the pass for $160 once it expires, which I just did for our upcoming trip. I picked up everyone else’s tickets from Costco who offered a 3 day park to park pass for a little less than $150 each. The nice thing about the Costco tickets is if you don’t use all three days, the remaining days stay valid for a few years (unlike the tickets purchased at the park which expire in 14 days after the first use). They aren’t offering them right now as far as I know, but hopefully they get them again soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anyway, we arrived at the hotel without incident at about 9:30PM. The kids went to the pool and the adults went and ordered food before the restaurants closed and bought it out to the pool for everyone to share. The next morning after a hearty breakfast at the buffet off to the park we went.

 

 

WillowBkfst.jpg

 

 

 

CWBkfst.jpg

 

 

 

 

A few Universal Pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Universal.jpg

 

Universal1.jpg

We stopped at a little oyster stand, where Michael bought Willow a pearl that she picked from an oyster and helped her pick out a setting for it. It was very cute to watch as he was really into it.

 

PearlUniv.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking forward to the rest of your review, the Freedom is a great ship.

 

Sorry for your loss and have a great cruise on the 27th.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After walking around and riding the rides we had lunch at Finnegan’s which was pretty decent especially the grouper.

 

Michael & Willow at Finnegans

MWFinnegans.jpg

 

 

Christian & William at Finnegans (notice the cool fish tank in the background along with Robins finger!)

 

WCFinn.jpg

 

We then finished the park and went to the pool for the rest of the night waiting for the Nixons (my cousin Maryanne’s family) to arrive and had dinner outside at the pool restaurant.

 

RPPool.jpg

 

PoolDinner.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking forward to the rest of your review, the Freedom is a great ship.

 

Sorry for your loss and have a great cruise on the 27th.

 

 

Thanks so much for the kind thoughts! Keep your expectations low on this review though as I have never written one before and a lot of details have slipped my mind. I'm trying to figure out how to make the pictures a little smaller as I think they are annoyingly too large.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The next morning we all met at 7:00AM to take advantage of the early opening hour at Islands of Adventure for hotel guests to get a head start on Harry Potter world before it got too crowded (except for one of the Nixon boys who doesn’t like rides, so his parents took him to Gatorworld). The nice thing about staying on-site is the unlimited express passes they give you. We really didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes to get onto anything (and it was pretty busy with some lines having a 90 minute wait time), but the Harry Potter ride is one of the few that doesn’t take the express pass which is why we took advantage of the early hour. After finishing up that section, we had breakfast at the Three Broomsticks in the Harry Potter area. The food was cafeteria style and very mediocre, but it was really neat inside and Willow loved hearing Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom so it was worth it.

 

 

Three Broomsticks Breakfast

 

Broomsticks.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

We finished up the park (see pictures below)

 

 

 

HPWorld.jpg

 

 

 

 

KidsatIOA.jpg

 

 

The kids had a lot of fun with this fountain as it talked and interacted with people around it.

 

 

Fountain.jpg

 

 

We left the park early and hung out at the pool for a while before dinner. They had a lot of games and entertainment at the pool for the kids so they had a lot of fun. Tonight the 7 of us had dinner at the Palm which is at the Hard Rock Hotel (the Nixon’s decided to eat elsewhere at City Walk) I used to take clients there in the city when I was at Xerox at least once a week and it was always one of my favorite places. They were running the summer lobster promo, so some of us spilt a few 6 pound lobsters. Dinner was excellent and definitely the best meal of the trip!

 

For some reason, Robin and Willow were fascinated by the bathroom at the Palm and spent an awful amount time in there fussing about (I think there are about a dozen photos of it, but I'll only include two).

 

 

PalmBR.jpg

 

 

 

PalmBR1.jpg

 

 

After dinner Robin & I went to see the cinematic spectacular in the park and Michael took the kids to play miniature golf. We decided to make it an early night as Sami from Limocar was picking us up first thing in the morning to take us to the ship!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Morning came and it was finally cruise day!! But our excitement was short lived because as we were getting ready for the limo to pick us up, we did a double check of our paperwork and noticed that Willow’s birth certificate was missing (she & Michael didn’t have passports). I called home and had the aide who was watching my mother go next door to my brother’s place to check if it was there and sure enough there it was. I made three calls to the RCCL main number and was told all three times that a faxed copy would not be acceptable.

 

While freaking out and in-between heart palpitations, I quickly checked jetblues flight schedule and saw that there was a 10:40AM flight from Westchester to Orlando landing at 1:00PM. I called my neighbor and begged her to fly the birth certificate down to us as it was now 8:45AM and we are about 50 minutes away from that airport, she agreed (God bless her). We also decided to take the limo drive to the port with the cousins and have Sami the limo driver meet my neighbor at the airport and bring the BC back to us there. My poor niece was a nervous wreck the whole ride and was doing her best to hold back the tears and smile along with everyone else as she was the one who pulled it out of my brothers case to look at it and forgot to put it back, so she was taking it very hard (my heart really broke for her).

Since we now had 12 people in the car, they gave us some kind of super stretch along with a trailer in the back to carry all the luggage.

LimoToShip.jpg

 

Well, it turns out it was all for nothing because as soon as we got to the port, we told one of the porters our predicament and he said that it happens a lot and that a faxed copy is OK. At first I didn't believe him, but he called over a few others and they confirmed it also along with the guy that checks your ID as you go in the door. Thankfully, I had the aide make a copy before she sent my neighbor off with it, and had her fax it over to the port so my niece was able to board with her cousins. I really wish the people at the RCCI number knew about this as it would of saved me a lot of money and frustration and my poor neighbor who was sitting on a plane at that moment a big inconvenience ( I do have great neighbors though). After all the planning and anticipation we are finally on board!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be on the freedom on the 27th as well. Looking forward to your review.

 

So sorry for your loss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be on the freedom on the 27th as well. Looking forward to your review.

 

So sorry for your loss.

 

Sorry double post.

Edited by vrock

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My heart goes out to you as you write this review and re-live the moments!

 

I am enjoying hearing about how you were able to get so many people together!:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cruise Day One

 

Michael, Willow and I were the only ones in our group who had cruised before. When the rest of our party first got on the ship, they really did a double take as Freedom is truly impressive. We went up to the Windjammer and OMG it was packed and almost impossible to find seats. I thought we would be able to eat in one of the specialty restaurants for lunch because we were in a suite, but it wasn’t open for some reason. I’m not sure if that is always the case on embarkation day or if they had something special going on at that particular time. I guess I’ll find out on the 27th. After lunch, we went to check out our rooms on the 10th floor. We had cabins 1260, 1264 & 1268 which are forward right under the solarium hot tubs. The rooms were very quiet, but we were hoping that the balcony sliders could be opened up between our cabins. We actually had someone come up from the ship that offered to open them up for us (we didn’t even have to request it) and he was as surprised as we were that there are no sliders on these particular cabins. It was disappointing, but not too big of a deal.

 

Before long, our cabin steward Wyan came by and introduced himself to us. He was excellent and provided exceptional friendly service all week long. I hung out in the cabin for a while and the kids went off to explore the ship. After muster we went to the concierge lounge and met Rahul our concierge who was wonderful. Apparently Willow and Brendan (my cousin Maryanne’s oldest son) had already been in there and introduced themselves so they were already becoming well known (typical for those two and not a surprise for those of us who know them). Upon returning to the cabin, it turned out that the earlier stress had finally gotten to Willow and she was running a low grade fever and was wiped out, so she and Michael stayed in and ordered room service for dinner. The rest of us went to dinner in the MDR and met our wait staff. I don’t remember their names, but service was definitely not great the first night, but it got a lot better by night two and by the end of the week they really had it down. After dinner we went our separate ways, with me going straight to the casino where I lost a bunch of money. I went up to the room at some point to stay with Willow so Michael could hit the casino for a while and wander the ship.

 

Day 2-Sea Day

 

Not much to tell about day 2. I remember having breakfast and lunch in the MDR and getting brutalized in the casino. Willow was still a bit under the weather, but hung out with the boys doing the flowrider, rock-climbing and the other typical cruise things. The rule for her was she was not to go anywhere on the ship alone without one or more of her cousins with her and we needed to know where she was at all times. They were really very protective of her and at one point circled her and declared that anyone who wanted to get to her would have to go through them first (it was really sweet). I remember all the kids being really good about letting us know where they were and what they were doing. By the end of the day, poor Willow developed some kind of weird blister on her tongue that was driving her crazy and was quite painful. We all had dinner together that night except for Ian who did not want to dress for formal night, so he ordered room service. After dinner I went to the casino again and lost more money and went up to the room so Michael could go out. This became our routine for the rest of the cruise.

 

Below are a few random pictures from the first two days. It looks like Robin saw some sort of parade in the promenade on day 2.

 

Promenade.jpg

 

Parade.jpg

 

 

Parade1.jpg

 

View_001.jpg

 

DRoom.jpg

 

 

Maryanne and her three boys, Brendan, Brian & Blake on formal night. We call them the B boys!

 

MAFormal.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We will be on the freedom on the 27th as well. Looking forward to your review.

 

So sorry for your loss.

 

Thanks, it is a great ship. Hopefully we'll see you at the meet & mingle. I missed my last one because of what happened with the drama with Willow and whole birth certificate thing. Hoping nothing similar happens this trip and I can actually make this one.

 

Neda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My heart goes out to you as you write this review and re-live the moments!

 

I am enjoying hearing about how you were able to get so many people together!:)

 

Thanks,

 

This is actually pretty hard to write, but I know I'll regret it if I don't. We had a great group, no drama at all (except for my niece when she thought her cousins weren't paying enough attention to her). For some reason, I'm pretty good at talking people into taking vacations that they wouldn't normally consider. We all had a great time together.

 

Neda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3-Labadee

 

We finally arrived in Labadee, I was excited, because I love port days especially ones with blue water!

 

View of Labadee from the ship.

LABDocked.jpg

 

I had contacted Rahul before the cruise started and booked two over water cabanas. We met him at the concierge lounge in the morning and had breakfast there before he escorted us down. He has this special elevator key that skips all the floors. I kept teasing him that I wanted that key and would pay big bucks for it! Once outside, we got on a little shuttle that took us right over to barefoot beach club where the cabanas are. Ours were in a great location and included cold bottled water, floatie mats and towels. I think snorkeling gear was included, but we had our own so we didn't need them. Below are pictures of the cabanas we had.

 

 

LABCab.jpg

 

Front view from the water

 

LabCab3.jpg

 

 

Outside on the deck

 

LABCab1.jpg

 

Inside view

 

LabCab2.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you spend anytime in the casino there is a good chance we will run into one another while we are leaving our nightly donation: )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Labadee-Continued

 

We were attended to by a wonderful cabana attendant who kept the drinks coming all day long. We splashed around in the water for a while and the kids went snorkeling off the beach. I also tried snorkeling for a bit, but while the water was clear enough in some spots, there really wasn't too much to see.

 

Michael & Willow on their floaty mats

LabMWFloat.jpg

 

Blake playing in the water-this part of the beach wasn't too rocky

LABBlake.jpg

 

Maryanne hamming it up for the camera-notice the rocky bottom

LABMA1.jpg

 

 

William snorkeling

LABWilSnork.jpg

Edited by mn1111

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you spend anytime in the casino there is a good chance we will run into one another while we are leaving our nightly donation: )

 

Probably, but I'm going to try and behave a little better this time. What do you play?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A little before lunch, Michael & Peter took three of the kids on the coaster thing that they have. My little adrenaline junky Willow had her heart set on the zip line, but she was about an inch too short so she had to settle for the coaster. When they got back she declared that while it was pretty, the ride was kind of lame (you wouldn't catch me on that thing for a million dollars though).

 

Christian getting ready to go down

LABGCChris.jpg

 

Brian on his way down

LABGC.jpg

 

Michael & Willow riding down the hill

 

 

LABGCMW.jpg

 

 

After lunch we got to enjoy the water a bit before heading back to the ship. I brought a wheeled carry on suitcase with us to grab some towels to bring back to the ship so we wouldn't have to worry about signing them out (I think I got about 15 of them). Going back to the ship, there was a huge line to go through security, one of the guards saw the suitcase and asked if we needed any help (he was looking to make some tips). I jokingly told him sure, if he could get us past the line. Before I could say another word, he grabbed my bag and quickly started heading for the building and right to the front of the line. We really had no choice, but to follow him and try not to look at anybody that we were passing.

 

I'm done for now, and have to be up in a few hours. I'll try to finish tomorrow night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am enjoying your review. I would have freaked :eek: about the birth certificate. I'm glad it all worked out. It looks like your family had a great time and now you have some wonderful memories. I'm sorry about your brother.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am enjoying your review. I would have freaked :eek: about the birth certificate. I'm glad it all worked out. It looks like your family had a great time and now you have some wonderful memories. I'm sorry about your brother.

 

It was definitely pretty harrowing. My brother and I were more worried about Willow as she internalizes a lot and we didn't want her beating herself up too much (she was feeling pretty guilty about all of the extra money it cost to fly Elise down and the limo to make the extra run). I told her worst case, the three of us would do something else. I did a quick check of some other options like key largo, Puerto Rico or St Thomas just in case we couldn't get on the ship.

 

Once we confirmed my neighbor Elise made the flight, I wasn't too worried though (she ended up cutting the security line at the airport to make the flight just as they were closing the gate). It was just so unnecessary though as customer service really should of known what was common knowledge and what looked to be standard procedure at the port. In hindsight, I should of called the port directly, but didn't think of it at that moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So sorry for your loss. This review was so endearing. You did your brother Michael proud. The pictures and necklace will be cherished by Willow for life. Loved reading how the boys were protective of her! Gorgeous family. Thanks.

Edited by evelyn51

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So sorry for your loss. This review was so endearing. You did your brother Michael proud. The pictures and necklace will be cherished by Willow for life. Loved reading how the boys were protective of her! Gorgeous family. Thanks.

 

Thanks so much for your kind words and thoughts! I definitely was blessed with a large close family and thank God for them everyday. It's kind of funny because at one point, Willow was getting annoyed at all the pictures Robin was taking and complained to me saying that the worst thing I did was to give her control over the camera! Afterwards we both agreed, that we were both glad we had all those pictures.

 

I'm working on the rest of the review now and trying to get the photos smaller, hopefully it will all be done by tomorrow, but I'll have more up within and hour or two.

 

Neda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking the time to do this review - you are doing a great job. It sounds like you have a lovely family and I am sorry it is now a little smaller, but glad to know that Willow has such wonderful people in her life. The best to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am so sorry for your loss.

 

I love the way your family sticks together.

 

I am looking forward to the rest of your review as I am on the same ship doing the same itinerary next May.

 

I still haven't recuperated from the scare of the missing birth certificate. I think that's every cruiser's nightmare.

 

Boy oh boy what a nice neighbor you have!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3 Continued-

 

 

Upon returning to the ship, we watched sail away from the balcony, futzed around, got showered and dressed etc and met up at the concierge lounge. The kids decided they wanted to eat by themselves at the windjammer, we OK'd it with strict instructions that they better behave themselves (though we weren’t too worried as they are good kids and we all knew that Willow would of given them right up if there were any shenanigans going on) . Willow still had problems with her tongue and was having trouble eating. We were starting to get a bit worried, but decided to wait another day to see if it got any better. After dinner in the dining room we all split up with me going to the casino and losing again. I hung out with Michael in there for a while and he won, so at least one of us had good luck! We decided to call it an early night as we had a busy day planned for Jamaica the next day (well semi early as it was about midnight before I went up).

 

 

Just wanted to stop here for a bit and give my thoughts about Labadee before I go onto to Jamaica. I think the cabanas were definitely worth it, as it was really nice to have a home base for the day along with the attentive service from the attendant. The labadoozies were excellent! I ordered mine with half rum and still got a buzz from it (I’m such a lightweight when it comes to alcohol though).

 

 

The “upgraded” lunch was nothing to write home about, but it was OK and some of the sides were pretty good. My only issue for the day was the long line to get the food which for most of the time was at least a half hour wait. I waited until the end when the line died down and by then they had run out of a lot of things. They bill this whole Barefoot beach club/ cabana thing as a premium experience (and charge accordingly) and in my opinion a line like that is unacceptable (unless it was just an off day and not the norm). They really need to open up another buffet station and at least have two lines going or have food service delivered to your beach chair or cabana if you have one. Personally, I would rather have the regular lunch with no line vs the upgraded one with lines, but that’s just my preference for whatever it’s worth. We were the only ship in port and I could only imagine what it would be like with two ships there (the word people soup comes to mind).

 

 

The beach itself was really nice, very scenic and the water calm and clear. At one point it got pretty crowded in the water with a very large group of kids being really loud and boisterous. Willow and I were floating around on a mat and after about 15 minutes of being surrounded by them, I had enough and decided to take matters into my own hands. I whispered to Willow to stay there and I would be right back and not to take seriously what I was going to tell her. I then swam off with my snorkel mask and upon returning said so everyone could hear, for her to swim out with me to check out the cool shark I just saw over there. Within 10 seconds the whole group made a bee line for the beach, but I felt badly when one little girl started crying, so in an effort to calm her down a bit, I told her it was just a baby shark and wouldn’t hurt her, but she wasn’t having any of it. Anyway, it did quiet down considerably after that, but I had to sit through a 15 minute lecture from Willow about it not being nice to make little kids cry etc. (she never lets me get away with anything).

 

 

Overall, our whole group really enjoyed the day at Labadee and felt it was a perfect beach day.

 

 

Next up Jamaica!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for taking the time to do this review - you are doing a great job. It sounds like you have a lovely family and I am sorry it is now a little smaller, but glad to know that Willow has such wonderful people in her life. The best to you.

 

Thanks so much!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am so sorry for your loss.

 

I love the way your family sticks together.

 

I am looking forward to the rest of your review as I am on the same ship doing the same itinerary next May.

 

I still haven't recuperated from the scare of the missing birth certificate. I think that's every cruiser's nightmare.

 

Boy oh boy what a nice neighbor you have!!

 

Thanks for the nice comments! My neighbors are awesome especially Elise! We actually woke her up from a sound sleep and she didn't even have time to brush her teeth or anything before she had to go. To this day, she never found out that we ended up not needing the hard copy (I just didn't have the heart to tell her).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm very sorry for your loss. Thank you for the review! We are on FOS in January and are counting down the days :)

 

It's a beautiful ship with lots to do, you should have a great time! Just don't be stupid in the casino like I was though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you are incredibly brave for writing this review, I am glad you had a great time. My thoughts are with you and your family.

God bless

 

Kind regards

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 4-Jamaica

 

This was our first visit to Jamaica as they don’t sail there on a southern Caribbean itinerary. We had almost booked a land vacation in Port Antonio years ago, but for some reason ended up doing something else and I’ve always wanted to visit ever since. Being that Jamaica is the only lush island on this itinerary, we wanted to experience a bit of the interior that had a fresh water feature for part of the day and spend the rest of the day on the beach. Willow also wanted to go parasailing and because it wouldn’t work with our plans the next two days, this was the only day we could try to squeeze it in.

 

I really wanted to charter a helicopter to take us over to Port Antonio, but it cost over $4,000 which immediately put that idea out of the question (I’ve been known to do some crazy things in the past, but this was over the top even for me), however it gave Michael another thing to tease me about, which made him happy so it was worth the phone call. Initially we looked at Mayfield falls because it would be quiet and private, but it was a 2 hour drive each way which wouldn’t leave us much beach time. We ended up booking a private tour with Trevor Hudlin who had very good reviews on Trip Advisor. He talked me into a river tubing thing on the Bueno River (against my better judgment) and could only find parasailing in Montego Bay so we decided on Doctors Caves beach. I knew the beach would be crowded based on reviews, but it looked so nice I figured we would give it a try.

 

Anyway, we got up in the morning and had breakfast at the Windjammer. I don’t know why, but for the some reason having to pay $2.00 or whatever it is for a small glass of fresh squeezed orange juice really annoys me, so we brought a small plastic squeezer (I don’t know the official name of it), grabbed some oranges from the buffet and made our own. Michael and I devised a plan to have the kids earn their keep, by squeezing extra glasses and have them try to sell them for $1.00 each, but we couldn’t get a single one of those spoiled kids to get on-board with the plan (Willow didn't even bother saying no, she just gave us the look that ended the conversation right there)!

 

After breakfast we hooked up with Rahul in the lounge and he escorted us down to the ramp with his special key. There were only seven of us going today as the Nixon’s weren’t crazy with the idea about going river tubing. We were supposed to be the only ship in port that day, so imagine our surprise when we saw this docked next to us!

 

JamAll1.jpg

 

 

Apparently there was some storm activity on the eastern route so Allure switched over to a western itinerary. So we now had 6,000+ extra people on the island unexpectedly which made the port a bit crowded, but it wasn't as bad as I would have imagined.

 

We found Trevor easily enough and were please to see a really nice air conditioned bus/van that could seat about 20 people for the 7 of us. Our first stop was tubing on the Bueno River which was about a 15 minute scenic drive from the port.

 

View from van crossing over the bridge to the start of the river

JamRiv1.jpg

 

 

When we first booked this, it was a relatively new operation and not too many people knew about it, so the trip advisor reviews and pictures showed a nice quiet river with very few people attending. By the time we got there, it became much more popular so that, along with the Allure showing up unexpectedly created a very large crowd at the river. On top of that, there was some sort of backlog with the river flow, so we had to wait almost a half an hour for there to be enough water flowing to go down as more and more people showed up.

 

Thankfully, I had arranged and paid extra for us to be able to go down as a single group (instead of a caravan of up to 30 people), but even so, there were a few congested spots along the way. There was also a bit of a misunderstanding when I booked. They offered a few different options to go down the river, which included river boarding, tubing, rafting and kayaking. I didn’t realize that you had to specify ahead of time which method you wanted, so we all had to go down with tubes instead of being able to mix it up as a few of us wanted to river board, but we made the best of it. We finally suited up, got situated in the tubes and off we went.

 

Michael & Willow in their tubing gear ready to go

JamRiv2.jpg

 

View of the river ahead of us

JamRiv3.jpg

 

 

There were some minor rapids going down and we all had to hold onto each others tubes as the river guide led around obstacles.

 

JamRiv4.jpg

 

 

JamRiv5.jpg

 

 

I'll continue this on a new post....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your review is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are blessed with a beautiful family and amazing friends!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think you are incredibly brave for writing this review, I am glad you had a great time. My thoughts are with you and your family.

God bless

 

Kind regards

Ian

 

Thanks so much Ian! We definitely had a great time, and probably would have where ever we went because of the great company.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Your review is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. You are blessed with a beautiful family and amazing friends!

 

Thanks! I'm going to try to finish up Jamaica and Grand Cayman tonight (it's taking longer than I thought). It won't be until later though as Willow's mom lets me pick her up on Thursdays to take her to Robins house for her piano lesson and out to dinner afterwards.

 

Neda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us. I can not begin to imaging the pain of losing your brother. I am very close with mine. We travel together all the time. It is wonderful that you can still have contact with your niece. I hope your next rip is awesome. And I feel ya on those casino losses. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We continued down the river for a while and came to a spot where you can get off and swing into the river on a rope. It was quite busy in that spot, so I stayed in my tube, but everyone else in our party gave it a try.

 

Willow swinging off the rope

JamRiv6.jpg

 

 

Christian taking his turn

JamRiv7.jpg

 

Eventually the river slowed down and right before the river met the sea, they picked us up in boats (or towed us, I don't remember) and took us over to a beach, where Trevor was waiting for us with the van.

 

Beach area where they took us to.

JamRiv8.jpg

 

There was a section where they had picnic tables and a stand with drinks and snacks. It looked like they had a barbeque going as well that smelled pretty good. There were a bunch of local guys hanging around that I'm pretty sure worked for the outfit who tried to sell us drugs. Needless to say, Michael stuck to Willow like glue the whole time and didn't let her out of his sight. While everyone was drying off and rinsing their feet, I tried to stealthily smoke a cigarette (if Willow sees me smoking, she runs up next to me and starts hacking and coughing away until I put it out). Out of nowhere at least 6 or 7 "workers" came over asking for cigarettes and asking me all kinds of questions. I gave them some as they were friendly enough and didn't mean any harm, but immediately got in the van as I couldn't wait to get out of there. Soon enough we were on our way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our next stop was Doctors Cave beach in Montego Bay which was about a 40 minute drive from the river tubing. We asked Trevor to please stop at a fruit stand on the way to get some of those delicious little tropical bananas. We found one about midway and picked up a few things and Trevor turned us onto jackfruit which none of us ever had before. It was really delicious and apparently Jamaica is the only Caribbean island where it is commonly available. I'm definitely going to look for it again on my next trip.

 

Before long we arrived at the beach and as expected, it was packed but really beautiful. Trevor paid the entrance fees for us which included chairs and umbrellas if we needed them. The only place that had enough room for all of us was in the back near the guy jerking chicken under some trees that provided some nice shade which was fine with me. The people that worked there were busy, but very nice and were helpful in setting up our chairs. Michael and Willow went off with Trevor to meet up with the parasailing boat and the rest of us settled in on the beach (the boys chickened out and decided not to parasail, not that I blame them).

 

There was a Carnival ship ported in Montego Bay and a lot of them were on this beach. I must say, the carnival towels were much much nicer than our tattered old Royal Caribbean ones. Every single one of them looked brand new and nice and fluffy. Royal Caribbean should be embarrassed to let people in public see towels from their nice new ships go out in that condition. But I guess if they are going to pinch pennies, I would rather it be there than in the food department.

 

Below are a few pictures of the beach taken later in the afternoon after a lot of the carnival cruisers went back to their ship. Please note, the photos do not do this beach justice, it was much nicer in person.

 

JamBch1.jpg

 

 

 

JamBch2.jpg

 

 

Where they made the jerk chicken

JamBch3.jpg

 

We hung out on the beach for a while and played in the water. When Michael & Willow got back we had a really great jerk chicken lunch at the beach restaurant. Willow's tongue was still bothering her and she was only able to have about two bites of the spicy chicken before she gave up because of the pain. We took a closer look at it and sure enough she had big white blistery looking things down one side of it, so it was going to be the doctor for her as soon as we got back to the ship.

 

Micheal went hunting for some Blue Mountain coffee with Peter in the shops on the street (he loved really good coffee) and the rest of us hung on the beach for a while longer and did some snorkeling. The water here was crystal clear and really amazing and is rumored to have some sort of healing properties.

 

All too soon we had to head back to the port which only took about 25 minutes. We got back about 45 minutes before all aboard so we said goodbye to Trevor and I visited some shops while Michael took Willow to see the doctor on the ship. I bought a few tee shirts, 15 cartons of cigarettes and a bottle of 25 year old Appleton Estate rum to thank Elise for flying the birth certificate down as they don't sell that bottle in the states. I know she likes tequila as well, but figured I would pick that up in Cozumel.

 

Picture of the port in Falmouth with the Allure in the background

JamPort.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are doing a great job with great photos. I can't imagine the pain of losing a brother and applaude your desire to write this review with photos of him included.

 

We will be on this cruise with you in a week...ish. It's good to see that other kids were on the ship. Since school is in session we never know what to expect, being the horrible parents we are taking our kid out for a week.

 

Do you remember if they had any trick or treating for the kids? I have seen adult costume parades, but my daughter is a little sad missing Halloween (she has gone out with the same friend since she was 1) and was hoping they would have stands set up to trick or treat.

 

Thank you again and I look forward to meeting you at M&M...as long as I don't forget to go. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us. I can not begin to imaging the pain of losing your brother. I am very close with mine. We travel together all the time. It is wonderful that you can still have contact with your niece. I hope your next rip is awesome. And I feel ya on those casino losses. :D

 

Thanks for the kind thoughts. It is a very big loss, we were extremely close and he lived in the condo next door to mine (we shared a wall) so I saw him several times a day and miss him terribly. I'm just grateful that my life was so blessed by having him in it for 47 years. I figure, I'll see him again soon enough.

 

Yeah, the casino was brutal. This was the only trip I took that I lost heavily every day (actually I think one night I broke even), but it is my own fault. I just can't stay off of those video slot machines, they are like heroin to me. If I could stick with blackjack & craps, it wouldn't be nearly as bad. Before they changed the slot machines over to video, I never paid any attention to them and would often leave both land & cruise vacations with more than I went with. Hopefully, this trip won't be as bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Explore the Night. Sweepstakes - Enter now for a chance to win win a free cruise for two with Azamara Club Cruises!
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Community Contests
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×