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Cheapo dad's trip report on Freedom of the Seas


harryfat1
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On 6/16/2020 at 11:58 AM, dani negreanu said:

 

Did u actually eat this???😁

Oh, no way.  First of all, I couldn't afford western food in Tokyo.  Ate at the local eateries to save on cost.  Secondly, if I ate that, I would have been in a coma shortly afterwards. This was just from a store that sells just these replica food items.  

 

Japan is famous in having replica food in front of every restaurant so people know what they would be ordering.  This store just sells various fake food items to tourists or local restaurants. 

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On 6/16/2020 at 1:27 AM, harryfat1 said:

We haven't been on cruise for awhile ourselves.  In 2018, we went to Disneyworld.  In 2019, we spent 3 weeks in Japan and also visited the 2 Disney parks in Tokyo (Disneyland and Disney Sea).  Cheapo dad was in therapy for months after having to pay for the trip...😢

Great pictures as usual Harry, check your old e mail.

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On 6/18/2020 at 5:34 AM, harryfat1 said:

First of all, I couldn't afford western food in Tokyo.  Ate at the local eateries to save on cost. 

 

Looking at the ingredients (never been to Japan), seems like "ramen" to me...

 

I could easily eat one right now 😁

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On 6/19/2020 at 10:56 AM, dani negreanu said:

 

Looking at the ingredients (never been to Japan), seems like "ramen" to me...

 

I could easily eat one right now 😁

Japan is a great place to visit – I highly recommend it.  We were there for almost three weeks on the DIY trip as I’m too cheap to pay for a packaged tour.  As I have Google Nest display in the kitchen and it shows the various vacation pictures from our past trips and I realized we were in Japan exactly one year ago this week.

 

We rented two wifi hotspots for a month for Japan usage and just used our cell phones on the mobile network to guide us around the place.  Bought the 7 day Japan rail pass to go on the unlimited bullet train rides to various parts of Japan as well as multi day subway passes while in the big cities.  We dragged our luggage everywhere on our own on subways and trains. We were in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka/Hiroshima.

 

We got lost almost daily as Google map has limitations in Japan but that’s part of the fun of traveling overseas. Also used Google translate app on the phone to converse with locals as we don’t speak Japanese and not everyone speaks English.

Ramen shops on every street.  Only issue is the eateries have limited spaces and seldom can they fit a big family so we ended up eating more at food courts as that’s the only place that fits all of us.

 

I wouldn’t mind doing a cruise from Hong Kong going to Japan and visit there somewhere down the road.

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7 minutes ago, harryfat1 said:

I wouldn’t mind doing a cruise from Hong Kong going to Japan and visit there somewhere down the road.

 

As long as u get to visit Disney HK before/after the cruise 😁

 

The boys are already taller than you......🌷

 

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22 hours ago, AmyJA said:

Harry's back...sorta....

 

So how did you like Disney in Japan?  At least it was open when you went?  Can you imagine if you trip was this year????!!!!????

Hi, Amy,

 

Good to talk to you once again.

 

Many people rank the Japan Disneysea as the best Disney park in the world and I can see why.  It’s a really special place. Tokyo Disneyland is similar to other Disney parks worldwide but the other park, DisneySea, is truly something special with different rides and themes not seen anywhere else.

 

We were at the parks in early July 2019 as that was the last part of the 3 week Japan trip.  Actually we were there on July 4.  If it was July 4 back in the US, the Disney parks would be packed to the rim (pre Covid 19) but since to anyone out of US, July 4 is just another day.

 

Not even sure we can go to Japan right now as US citizens as we might be subjected to quarantine after we get off the plane. Disney parks will be totally different experience next couple years.  Not sure I will pay a high price to go now with the risk/reward not being there.

 

Stay safe in these uncertain times.  Here’s a selfie from yesterday wearing the mask that my wife made – of course, it has Disney theme on it.  Also few pics from Tokyo Disney parks…

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Hi Harry,

I enjoyed reading your review again, always entertaining and something to do in quarantine. 

 

You're a great family man, hope you get back to cruising. 

 

Stay safe. 

Donna

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Hi Harry! Thanks for coming back to update us and provide more of your great pictures! I enjoyed the Disney ones. 

My daughter-in-law has been to Japan twice and just loves it there. She was hoping to go again this year, but now that won't be happening. 

Stay well,  Heather

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On 1/9/2017 at 11:54 PM, harryfat1 said:

Nothing like trying to find two sets of people (tour people and friends) in an unknown area filled with hundreds of people. As much as cheapo dad doesn’t like to pay extra for ship board based tours, there’s something to be said about the simplicity of jus meeting at the ship and getting a priority sticker on your shirt to get off the ship early on the tender and never having to search for you guide.

 

 

 

I am loving this "mental vacation" of learning and laughing with this wonderful review. I've been driving my husband nuts by laughing at & then quoting some of your funniest lines, and your family seems so nice.

  *** As far as not having to search for your guide- We had a Carnival ship tour in Nassau that made me thankful to be a fast walker. The guide pretty much race-walked ahead and she was super tiny-so even with her "follow me suckers" flag, she was tough to keep up with. I tried to keep up and so did my large/tall husband.

  I was giggling because people behind us were saying "I don't know, Ethel, just follow the big guy and his wife".

   I guess I was an unpaid Sherpa- or just dressed badly enough for both of us to stand out for the rest of the tour crowd.

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On 6/22/2020 at 11:36 AM, vegas7df said:

Hi Harry,

I enjoyed reading your review again, always entertaining and something to do in quarantine. 

 

You're a great family man, hope you get back to cruising. 

 

Stay safe. 

Donna

Hi, Donna,

 

Thanks for the kind words. 

 

With everyone being busy, family vacation is the only time we can get everyone away from their phones/computers.  As with most teens, my kids look at their cell phones and laptops more than the rest of the world around them.  Only during vacations can we get their focus away from various social media or video games...

 

We miss cruising.  It's a fun and relaxing form of vacation.  You don't have to look for a place to eat daily or park the car or find fun things to do through Yelp.  Will be interesting to see what the cruise experience looks like after they start sailing again.  Doubtful we will cruise in 2020 as we will wait out to see how everything unfolds.

 

Harry  

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20 hours ago, JamesEM said:

Also enjoyed your review, thanks for posting, stay well.   Jim,

Hi, Jim,

 

I see you are still staying up late.  I can pretty much guess it's you posting when I received notification that someone has posted a comment late into the night in PST or really early in the morning EST. 

 

Hope you are doing well as I think of you & your family whenever I hear news like hurricane approaching Myrtle Beach since all national news uses MB as a reference point.

 

Harry

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12 hours ago, SenatorsFan said:

Hi Harry! Thanks for coming back to update us and provide more of your great pictures! I enjoyed the Disney ones. 

My daughter-in-law has been to Japan twice and just loves it there. She was hoping to go again this year, but now that won't be happening. 

Stay well,  Heather

Hi, Heather,

 

How are you?  Good to hear from you again.  

 

Besides Japan, we also visited some national parks in 2018 and 2019.  Looked at bunch of rocks as that's what you see in many of the west coast national parks.  I will need to sort through some of the pics from my phone to upload later on.

 

Harry

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7 minutes ago, harryfat1 said:

Hi, Heather,

How are you?  Good to hear from you again.  

 

Besides Japan, we also visited some national parks in 2018 and 2019.  Looked at bunch of rocks as that's what you see in many of the west coast national parks.  I will need to sort through some of the pics from my phone to upload later on.

 

Harry

I'm doing fine, thanks. We had an 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise booked on Serenade with my oldest son and daughter-in-law on March 23. Of course, that was cancelled. It would have been our first cruise on Royal and their third. We'll have to try again to cruise Royal;  maybe next year?

Bring on the rock pictures! 😀

Heather

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4 hours ago, harryfat1 said:

Hi, Jim,

 

I see you are still staying up late.  I can pretty much guess it's you posting when I received notification that someone has posted a comment late into the night in PST or really early in the morning EST. 

 

Hope you are doing well as I think of you & your family whenever I hear news like hurricane approaching Myrtle Beach since all national news uses MB as a reference point.

 

Harry

Harry: 

Doing well,  was on the Vision out of PR doing a B-2-B-2-B this March and was kicked off after the first week (grim), looking to book a B-2-B on the Oasis this Nov.  As for hurricane season, stocked the pantry, fired up the generator, and filled up my gasoline cans. 

Stay safe also, your your family looks great.

Jim, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Harry.  Do you have the itinerary from your National Park trips that you wouldn't mind sharing?  I just retired and since our grand 9 day Greek Isles/14 day Italy retirement trip was cancelled, we are thinking about a driving trip to tour some of the parks instead.  I've done a little research and there are a LOT of options besides the typical Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone trips.  As many here on CC have done, I'd be interested in learning from you.

 

Hope that you and your family are all safe and healthy.

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On ‎6‎/‎21‎/‎2020 at 2:51 PM, harryfat1 said:

Stay safe in these uncertain times.  Here’s a selfie from yesterday wearing the mask that my wife made – of course, it has Disney theme on it.  Also few pics from Tokyo Disney parks…

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Hey Harry.

 

Tell your wife I love the mask.

 

And thanks for the Disney pictures.

 

I know what you are saying on the visit to Disney parks but...….I have a DVC ressie in September that I rented. You know....use or lose. We are still a go as of today.  Monday I had to do the "reserve your park" thing. But as you know us people that are an**...ah...early planners. We have our spread sheets and know what park we want on what day. I know that others were on the site for hours and more and never got in.  I signed in and was done in less then 45 minutes.

 

Take care....

 

Amy

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15 hours ago, harryfat1 said:

Hi, Donna,

 

Thanks for the kind words. 

 

With everyone being busy, family vacation is the only time we can get everyone away from their phones/computers.  As with most teens, my kids look at their cell phones and laptops more than the rest of the world around them.  Only during vacations can we get their focus away from various social media or video games...

 

We miss cruising.  It's a fun and relaxing form of vacation.  You don't have to look for a place to eat daily or park the car or find fun things to do through Yelp.  Will be interesting to see what the cruise experience looks like after they start sailing again.  Doubtful we will cruise in 2020 as we will wait out to see how everything unfolds.

 

Harry  

I am so glad I kept this thread in my pinned column for responses! It's been really nice to read this thread again, and also hear that I'm not the only one with kid who are soo focused on phones/laptops, etc, until we all go on vacation. My kids are now 23, 21 and 18, but they still all love to vacation together with us. Someday that will change. We are cruise newbies, having only been on three, and just one with the kids, but I am also interested to see what cruising looks like in the coming years. 

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On 6/23/2020 at 8:00 PM, SenatorsFan said:

I'm doing fine, thanks. We had an 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise booked on Serenade with my oldest son and daughter-in-law on March 23. Of course, that was cancelled. It would have been our first cruise on Royal and their third. We'll have to try again to cruise Royal;  maybe next year?

Bring on the rock pictures! 😀

Heather

Haha, I figured if I just mentioned the word “rocks”, you would respond.  I'm surprised you have not sailed on Royal yet given you have been following along in my previous posts so I figured you to be a regular Royal cruiser.  Guess you would have been the "peasants" I was referring to in my previous posts.😜 

 

I think I posted some of our 2018 road trip pictures previously so I will skip those and share some 2019 ones here.  If I haven’t, I will share the older ones with Bob in another reply later.

 

So in December 2019, we went to southern CA/Vegas during the Christmas week to look at colleges as well as national parks.  We went to Joshua Tree and Death Valley.  While Joshua tree is nice for the special tree/rocks, Death Valley is something truly special. Bucket list for people into National Parks.  But only go there during non summer months as it averages 116 degrees in July.

 

Death Valley is also known for being the lowest point in North America is being 282 below sea level at the Badwater Basin region.  It also has a large sand dunes area where George Lucas filmed some of the scenes for the original Star Wars movie. For those interested, just Google "Star Wars Death Valley" or check YouTube, there will be many posts on connection between the movie and park.

 

As it turned out, we were stuck in a big snow storm going from Southern CA to Vegas as many of the freeways closed were for couple days and we had to drive all the way around Nevada just to get to Vegas.  But the benefit of the rain is we got the special sunset water reflection pictures.

 

I noticed that CC changed its upload interface in that now I can upload more than 6 pictures in a given post but I can’t individually add in comments each picture at the break point.  So I’ll just say that the beginning pictures are Joshua Tree NP, then Vegas and then Death Valley. 

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On 6/24/2020 at 12:11 AM, JamesEM said:

Harry: 

Doing well,  was on the Vision out of PR doing a B-2-B-2-B this March and was kicked off after the first week (grim), looking to book a B-2-B on the Oasis this Nov.  As for hurricane season, stocked the pantry, fired up the generator, and filled up my gasoline cans. 

Stay safe also, your your family looks great.

Jim, 

 

Hi, Jim,

 

Wow, got kicked off after only the first leg really sucks,  But I guess the flip side is you rather not be stuck on the ship like those passengers on the 2 Princess ships few months ago and can’t get home.  They docked the Grand Princess with the Covid 19 passengers in Bay Area 3 months ago as state of CA was scared of them carrying the virus.

 

We have been shelter in place at home for past 3 months.  Kids stopped going to school since mid March and my wife and I have been working remotely from home as well.  Looking forward to a vacation down the road.

 

Harry

 

 

 

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On 6/24/2020 at 6:00 AM, bobmacliberty said:

Hi Harry.  Do you have the itinerary from your National Park trips that you wouldn't mind sharing?  I just retired and since our grand 9 day Greek Isles/14 day Italy retirement trip was cancelled, we are thinking about a driving trip to tour some of the parks instead.  I've done a little research and there are a LOT of options besides the typical Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone trips.  As many here on CC have done, I'd be interested in learning from you.

 

Hope that you and your family are all safe and healthy.

Hey, Bob,

 

How goes?  Retired, eh?  I’ll still need you around to track things for my future cruise report whenever that may be.

 

Our road trip always starts from Bay Area to Vegas so in theory if you fly out, that can be your starting point or you can start from Salt Lake City and head south.  There are lots of places to see in the Utah/Arizona region.  We went in 2017 and 2018 and still haven’t seen them all.  But if you have the time and energy, you can spend few weeks going to each one. 

 

I’ll give you the itinerary for both trips and you can adjust them to fit your needs. Just use Google maps to see how much driving you are willing to do daily and map things out from there. I’ll just do 2017 trip in this post and 2018 in next as not to confuse the two.

 

2017: After arriving in Vegas, we stayed for two nights.  Attended the Cirque’s Beatles show at the Mirage.  Great show if you are a Beatles fan.

 

From Vegas, head north pass St. George and then eastward for Page, Arizona.  Spend the night there. Make reservation ahead of time to see Lower Antelope Canyon before 12 noon. After that, grab lunch and head for Horseshoe Bend just 15 minutes out. After that, drive to Kayenta, Arizona to spend the night there.  The town is super small in only 5K population but you need it as a jump off point for next day.

 

In the morning, drive north toward Monument Valley.  You need to reserve a slot with the local native tribe to join a tour as only they can take you to their private land.  This area is iconic as it gets.  Shows up in many movies.  We booked the 2 hour trip but they have shorter or longer tours, depending on what you want.

 

After the tour, continue to head north into Moab, Utah.  We stayed here for 2 nights renting a townhouse via VRBO.  A lot more space to roam around after hours in the van and cooking simple meal to eat in.  Not a big city by most standards but it’s one of the largest town in that part of the state.

 

Next day head for Arches National Park.  The hike to Arches is pretty intense.  Especially if you go in the summer like we did. Bring lots of cold water.  It’s well worth it as that’s the only way you can get to the Arch.  If the climb is not possible, you can see the arches from couple miles away at a parking lot but it’s not the same.  That’s the Arch I used for my CC picture.

 

After a day at Arches, go back to townhouse and rest. Next morning head northwest to go to Canyonlands NP.  It’s not as well known as Arches but it also has the iconic Arch picture that you see in many travel pictures – Windows uses it as a background picture.  Many people get there for the sunrise photo as you can see the sun peeking out in-between the gap of the arch if you get there super early.  Not being a morning person, I’ll pass.  So you get to see the mid morning picture instead.  No sunrise pic from me.  Go to YouTube or online for those professional pics.  Just Google Mesa Arch Sunrise and you will see tons of pics.

 

Do note that this NP is middle of nowhere.  Running water is scarce.  So bring your own bottled water.  Even the bathrooms inside the visitor area have no water or even toilet seats.  It’s a big old hold and you squat (don’t fall down…) and bring your own hand sanitizers as it has no running water.

 

After Canyonlands we did the loop to St. George on I-70 for the night and drove past Vegas and going home.  So if you follow all this on Google map, you will see we did a big outer loop of Utah parks in 2017. 

In the next post, I will describe what we did for 2018 to see the other Utah parks.

 

Edit: I will wrap up more 2017 pics tomorrow.  Have to go for now...

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Nice photos! You didn't stop in Lone Pine? You will have to check it out on your next SoCal trip. You can go through Yosemite, over Tioga Pass past Mono Lake, Bode, and Lone Pine has the Alabama Hills where they filmed "Tremors" with Kevin Bacon and on up to Whitney Portal and Mt. Whitney. I always love your travelogues and photos Harry. The Disney parks in Japan look fabulous! :classic_biggrin:

 

And BTW, I retired too! Just in time for a pandemic. :classic_biggrin: I am still helping neighbors on Nextdoor with their bug and plant questions though. I'm still a biologist. :classic_smile:

 

~Patti :classic_smile:

 

The photo in front of your house looks like either Alameda or the City. You have nearby neighbors. Beautiful house, one of the Victorian styled. 

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