Freedom Sails…Day4

Well, its Wednesday.  Mid way through our trip.  For me it always seems that the beginning of the week goes by slowly, I feel like I have all the time in the world to enjoy the ship, then Wednesday comes and suddenly I realize that this amazing trip is more than halfway over!  Wait, what happened??  Maybe I can go to the “Future Cruise” sales team and see if I can just stay on!  Coincidentally, I did go visit the future cruise folks, but sadly, not for next week but for next year.

So we are in Falmouth, Jamaica today.  This is a port that Royal Caribbean built in conjunction with the Jamaican government in order for Royal’s big girls (Oasis and Allure) to be able to dock.  The last time we were here, OD and I did Horseback Ride & Swim with Chukka Tours and that was AWESOME!! Got to check “horseback riding in the ocean” off my bucket list!  We had also spent a few minutes walking around “old” Falmouth, outside the gates of the port area.  I say a few minutes, because from the moment we left the gates until the moment we rushed back in, the local were all over us to buy stuff.  Tours, hair braiding, coconuts, ganja, all sorts of stuff.  It was a bit unnerving so we decided to stay within the confines of the port or on an excursion.  Parts of Jamaica are terribly poor and I totally understand why the locals act this way, but it was a bit much for me at that point.

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So this time, we are only getting off the ship to find a Jamaican soccer jersey and then back on-board to enjoy the Splash Zone/Juice Bar while the rest of the passengers all got off and did their thing!  As it turns out, we did make one more stop at Margaritaville…I mean, ya gotta do that.  Its the Senor Frogs of this port.  So we found our Jamaican National Team soccer jersey, shopped for cute stuff for KT and then GM and M headed back to the ship while OD, KT, P and I headed for the first bar we could find at Jimmy Buffet’s fine establishment.

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I ordered a Havanas and Bananas (special thanks to Gwen Stefani for ensuring I sing every time I spell the word banana!!).  It was good, but no match for the awesome banana drinks that were to come later.  We wondered around a bit while we drank and then headed back to the ship…why pay for drinks when you can drink for free on board!!  We did stop to watch a random performance of this guy doing some crazy dance with fire.  It was already 7 billion degrees outside, I have no idea how he could stand to be near fire, and in fact, we left because it was just too hot to watch!

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On our way back to the ship, we stopped by the Customs House to see if we could get our passports stamped.  Apparently Jamaica has a rule that you have to be on the island for more than 24 hours in order to earn a stamp, sigh.  Other than that, returning to the ship was uneventful and we headed up to the Windjammer to meet up with GM and M and get some lunch.  With food in our tummies and a mostly empty ship, we made our way to the pool deck to let T and KT play in the H2O Zone while we relaxed at the Juice Bar with our favvie bartenders, Sirjohn and Sanjay until it was time to get ready for dinner.

One thing I need to remember when I cruise is exactly how much food they throw at you at all times.  It is nearly impossible to go anywhere and not be confronted with some little nibbley thing.  We stopped at the Champagne Bar a little earlier than usual pre-dinner to see Erwina and she handed us a plate of hors d’oeuvres to go along with our martini’s du jour.

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They were cute little pre-dinner snacks, that we certainly didn’t need, but none the less enjoyed.  So off to dinner we went.  Norbert and his assistant had finally gotten into the swing of things with us and we had a wonderful dinner.  I have to say here that while our service was not the greatest on the first night, by tonight we were back up to the service we had come to expect from the dining room on our previous cruises.  This was our first time doing My Time Dining and we were a bit skeptical after our first meal on Monday, but they more than made up for it by the end of the week.

After dinner, OD and I headed to the Headliner show, a Bon Jovi tribute band.  OD is a huge Bon Jovi fan so we were hoping for the best with this.  Final verdict:  They were pretty darn good!  They did all the songs you would expect to hear from a tribute band and had great energy throughout the show.  OD really enjoyed and was overall happy with the show!

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So after the show, OD headed up to the teen club where he had met a group of friends and I headed to the casino to meet M and P and to once again donate to Royal Caribbean’s new ship fund.  Up tomorrow…The best excursion I have had to date in Grand Cayman.

 

 

 

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Alluring Travel on the Open Sea…II

Trying to do a “quick” tour of the Allure of the Seas, is really an impossibility.  This is the largest ship on the water right now, getting around takes some planning…and comfortable shoes!  One of the new “wow” features of this class of ship is the boardwalk.  The back of the ship is open to the sea.  Its a pretty cool concept.  I decided to book a boardwalk balcony cabin since it is only available on this class.  It is also a cheaper option to booking a standard balcony, but you can still get that balcony feel.

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I really liked the boardwalk balcony cabins.  For this trip, we booked 2 adjoining cabins so that we could have the two bathrooms.  Really not a huge issue, since it is three guys and me, but something we really like to have.  On the exterior balconies, if you have adjoining cabins, the divider on the balcony can be removed to make one big balcony.  This is the same on the boardwalk balconies, our stateroom attendant was able to do that with no problem when we requested it. Depending on where your cabin was, you could see the ocean as well as the activity going on at the boardwalk.  We were towards the aft of the ship and had a fantastic view of both the boardwalk and the ocean. If I were ever going on this type of ship, I would certainly book there again.

Certain floors had a “secret” public balcony where there were lounge chairs and such and from there you could see everything going on in the Aqua Theater as well.  Every morning, I would get some coffee and go sit on the aft balcony, there was never anyone else out there.

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This is your view from that balcony:

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The Aqua Theater is another cool new concept on this ship.  It hosts things like a diving show and the ever popular Belly Flop Contest.  They can also cover the aqua part of this and it becomes a regular theater venue with large screens so everyone can see what is going on. It also hosted one of the dreaded muster drills, which was nice for those folks that had that station, with all the seating, it eliminates that wonderful tradition of standing crammed next to people you have never met to listen to a recorded safety briefing.

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The boardwalk has many cool features and new restaurants. There is a hot dog stand with a bunch of different choices of styles and toppings, a donut house that supplies your donut fix all day long, a Johnny Rockets, and a Mexican style restaurant called Rita’s Cantina.  I never ate here, but it looked like most folks were enjoying it, especially the margaritas if the crazies dancing on the patio in giant sombreros are any way to judge!  That may be due to the fact that if you purchased their meal package, THREE margaritas were included!  I am allergic to tequila, I break out in pregnancy, so I never touch the stuff anymore!

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Also on the boardwalk is a real, working carousel.  There is no charge to ride so the “kids” can ride over and over if they want!  There was rarely a line, so it was never any problem getting on.

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Some other highlights of the boardwalk are the Pets at Sea, the candy store, and the Ice Cream Scoop Shop.  On some days, they have a boardwalk party where they have face painting, balloon animals, popcorn, cotton candy, and all sorts of other cute games and activities for kids and kids at heart.

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The diving show in the AquaTheater is nothing short of spectacular.  Think Cirque du Soliel in water.  If you take the ship’s “All Access” tour, you will get the behind the scenes of what it takes to produce a high dive show while on a moving ship on a moving ocean.  It really is a marvel.  I did not take any pictures of the show because they ask you not to…not that I am usually one for following rules, especially if it involves getting a good picture, but I certainly did not want any sort of flash from my camera to be the cause of any diving mishaps.

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Royal Caribbean has partnered with Dreamworks so there are multiple references around the ship.  I thought it was a pretty good balance of being visible, but not in your face.  If you had no interest or have kids that are nervous around huge, walking animals then you could certainly go the whole cruise avoiding them.  However, if your kids are like mine and have to meet every character they come across, there are plenty of opportunities to do that as well.  There is a Dreamworks character parade, a meet the characters breakfast with a chocolate theme (my kids really liked this!), and various other “meet & greets” around at different times.

That’s all I’ve got for the Boardwalk on the Allure, but that is only one of SEVEN different neighborhoods on this mega-ship.  I will try and finish this up pretty soon, because in a few weeks, I am leaving for my next cruise on the Freedom of the Seas!

Bon Voyage!!