1st time cruiser on a romantic match.com1st year anniversary
Hotel and travel to port& embarkation We did get much time to assess this hotel, as we would normally do but we received a very well organised and swift to locate you to your room service. Arrived at the Crowne Plaza late on the 20th March and found it pleasantly inviting as it was close to the airport, which had low air craft noise heard. We had a second floored room nearest the roadside and didn’t even hear the traffic flow either, maybe that’s because we travelled 23 hours. The room required a little up dating mainly in the bathroom and the room air freshened but what mattered was the bed, and it was comfortable to have a good night sleep, as we got to take a good size bed each. The hotel restaurant staff understood that you were a long travelling passenger and had a quick catered and affordable light snack foods service. They were very pleasant to welcome you, not like the CBP immigration officers at the patrol desks in the Orlando airport, which I feel was very robotically operated without the genuine welcome into the States. The CBP had a very annoying constant running video and did not have much consideration to seating for the less able and dead tired children in their parents arms. The queue system needs to be reviewed rather than letting everyone stand there for hours, after coming off long haul flights and especially when more than one flight comes in at once. The travel to port was filled with anticipation and fantastic excitement. The awaiting coach was well rotated and took us swiftly to the port. I eagerly wanted off the bus but you have to listen to the first of the mature RCC staff before heading into the terminal. Heeding this advice, to have all essential documentation to hand can help you through the long queue more efficiently. I was continually surprised to see that the staff remained as the mature age group of 50plus in attendance throughout the terminal. It sure did give it a warm friendlier feeling. Day 1. Sunday Started our cruise on the 21st of March after arriving a day earlier from Belfast. We had a journey that was via London Gatwick, connected to and flew with Virgin Airways. Virgin Air hostess attention was much more attentive than our returning flight, as this staff, were very hap hazard to serve you with lame memories to what you asked off them. To step on the Freedom, was literally that, Freedom for a caring special need mum that hadn’t had a holiday for years. The whole experience to be on the Freedom and to see, for the first time my new C&C thread made friends tied my stomach in knots and I also found it hard to adjust to meal times with sea legs. My tip here is definitely, be prepared, with travel sickness medication, as many resorted to seeking medical attention on board. It was reported to me, to get acupressure patches, cost you and don’t effectively work. Day two: at sea day but it rain and rained through a storm front with thunder and lightening right through the night until we arrived the next morning in Haiti. The first formal night made up for all of this, cause as I gracefully treaded everywhere on the ship, dressed in a gold gown with eyes on me to know my” Ladyship of Lochaber Scotland” was definitely noticed. Freedom comments about C&C Now I wish to get a few annoyances out of the way, • ABE the head entertainment manager, he was so cheesy and robotic. He was so aloof to his audience and didn’t have the decorum to be interactive to his actual new passengers. I was told by frequent cruising passengers, he has never changed his programmed event and activity format/routine. Begin a first timer I didn’t mind but it must be dead boring for the frequent/b2b passengers. It was dead obvious that he only picked on the ever winning, same old same old passengers, as they came over well rehearsed too in “the love and marriage and the quest shows”. I speak as an experienced holistic provider. • I experienced the hair salon and had fair cost for a pre Formal Blow dry. The beauty salon, in my opinion it could be offering different cost treatments, that are more affordable and encouraging you to attend. I felt for the first three days that everything was a hard squeeze to reach your pockets. • However if you wait midweek, “everything” and including all main mall stores start offerings of “Discounts galore”. • Soft drinks package, expect dilution of every drink you get, this offer does not include for the actual can taste strength, in any of the bars. • As we found like the many, the disappointment with the cruise review DVD. • Expect high cost for photographs and be sure to budget $20 per one and they do not offer discounts for large multiple purchases. • As for the review DVD is an 80% advertising marketing tool and doesn’t reflect truly your ending cruise memoirs. It is in my opinion a complete rip off for what they promise you, in their sales pitch, for your purchase at $30. All am left to say is,” shame on you RRCL; this is the perfect time to thank your well spending passengers”. • My main annoyance was not being knowledgeable, how to get show tickets and missed many of them. Only the frequent cruisers knew how and our new made friends could only guess what we wanted to see, so I was thankful to get to see the must see Ice show. • RCCL could do with an events stand within the main mall to distribute these show theatre tickets, and to inform us better. • Our on screen account was never available, that you had to go to the customer service for regular checks.
Port 1 Day3 Labadee Haiti. I had mixed feelings as I came to the new dock side. We were glad to feel the heat of the morning sun. I know I wasn’t the only one that had to say a prayer for the poor souls of this island before walking the beach. I was disappointed that there wasn’t the promised aid relief worker, that I could have received a gift aid too, as I had read on the Cruise critic previously. My first view was of the grand raw beauty of the mountains and the sun rise. The main beach strand, had a very man made feel about and getting closer to the beach it had a very slippy rocky and painful to walk, bear footed waters edge. Do bring with you a few dollars too, as you need to tip pay for the attendants to help you with the positioning of the sun loungers. If you go further along to your right, following the newly formed pathway, there is another coved beach, which has a more shelving walk to the waters edge near the old 1870 Bell tower ruins view point. This was definitely a more parent resting and children friendly area. This is where I found pleasant shade with a magnificent view and to have “not a care in the world” time! The area has been recently RRCL, well fitted for function buildings, restrooms and eating areas, with a gold card membership area nearby that has that exclusive touch. My main bug bear overall to this is that the area didn’t seem to have much shaded areas elsewhere, to get respite from the sun, that especially posed a problem if you were with children the experienced intense heat. I enjoyed the RCCL Dragons Head Zip lining excursion. It was value for money because of the attentiveness of the 100% safety and guiding staff, that sure wanted you, to enjoy the torpedo fast 600ft cable jungle drop along the beach front. It’s not for the faint hearted but it’s sure a good way to scream the cobwebs off you. Lunch on the beach, my oh my! You can only accept what an absolutely well organised impeccable service from your Freedom catering staff do for you, as they literally cook, that barbequed lunch, under such intense sun heat conditions. I was in the moving queue, in awe of admiration to their dedication to serve an ample tasty lunch. The Dragons head point is a fascinating geological point too and worth remembering this beach for it, as the waves trap air as it crashes in under the volcanic formed rock that makes you hear the roaring air come out from the holes in the rock.
Port 2 Day3 Ochos Rios Jamaica The Freedom dock sided to port. For me, it had been 18 years since visiting but my impression of the island, it’s only got worst. Be ready for the disorganised organisation feeling you get immediately as you want to get onward to your RCC organised tour. It’s worst for the booked independent tour operator pick- up in the main car park amongst the ciaos. You definitely need patients for this type of uncertainty. Be prepared for a high pressure “in your face” conning sales that Jamaican stall/shopkeepers get up too. They have a lot to learn in manners towards their main source of income. We had booked through Island Marketing .com and even though recommended I didn’t feel the operator Denton Prendergast was not good enough to extend this recommendation. He didn’t arrive on time and made it worse by giving lame excuses, causing us a very uneasy remaining follow through arrangement to the Dunn Falls and Tubing combo. This combo activity was just amazingly fantastic. I couldn’t wait to see the Dunn Falls again and this time it was very romantic to climb those glorious falls with a man I really love. The only advantage to this privately booked arrangement with Island marketing was we got a very unhurried experience and luckily enough had by- passed the organised tours. The fall guides are worth tipping, as they have your safety at heart and good to listen to there advice, to place you feet in the right place, as some of the falls, can be scary with the thundering white waters over slimy coated rocks. This is a word of valuable warning though. Do not trust anyone with your valuable belongings even if you are touring on any independent guided transporter, as they do request of your trust. Please heed this. I can report first hand, I witnessed an entire young family group, being left stranded in their swimwear with the dead realization of their hired van and driver had gone missing with all their trusted valuable belongings. Do keep minimal $ amounts on you if water activating in a water proof pouch...and only leave what you don’t value. We were prepared with the right foot wear and waterproof cameras. The shops are not worth the time, not unless you are a poor junk collector. In my opinion and I must say aloud the Jamaicans’ do not deserve this type of passenger’s tourism trade, not unless you are a very savvy traveller, to give them a run for their money.
Port 3 day 4 Grand Cayman. Get up early for this island, to get the best of the day. You’ll be stunned with the views as you are waiting to be tendered in. No worries here though, we were efficiently tendered in, that only took 15mins or so, on rotating 300 passenger a time tender boats. RCC had given a misleading itinerary, at time of booking and to that on board. They regrettably did not to inform us, of time change to this Port George destination, as there was a land two hour time change. RCCL, they had itinerary indicating fully tendered by 16.00hrs but we were actually only going to have to 15.00hrs to then start to tender back to board. I have to say I was a little disappointed, that this mistake, robbed us of hired jeep Island adventure exploring time. No wonder the elderly, inexperienced and the jet lagged, could miss the boat literally.Word of warning, this is the most expensive island, to try to get off and a long journey back to Miami and to not Port Canaveral. This is a sharp reminder to check and keep the ships’ time in mind. This island was so beautiful with a very old British colonial feel and it was so inviting to get quickly there as we saw sun rise light up the coastline. Avis was a fantastic prompt collection and drop off service that I highly recommend. As most cruisers wanted to venture along the seven mile beach stretch to get to HELL, I could not think more than to plan with the jeep, to explore to get to the most heavenly northern tip called Rum Bay. Believed it, did not let you down, as we got there, it is the most movie captured heavenly paradise beach. I loved, the very easy walking beach with such an unforgettable white boardwalk inviting you to stay, which I really wanted too. I will never forget the captured moments of this piece of heaven, as we enjoyed a tasty lunch with our new made Floridian friends that were with us. A little down side, was the weird currency exchange calculation from US$ to Cayman $. It was more confusing if you trying to convert back to a £sterling worth value. You also can be left with this currency as an unwanted currency not unless you want it as a not so heavy souvenir. I could have stayed or even considered banking my fortune here! Not?
Port 4 day 5 Mexico We were not sure what Cozumel town had to offer. Many cruise liners had docked and the portside had become very congested as we walked through the souvenir stalls area. We then saw mopeds for hire at $55.The mopeds were in good condition, fully taxed and filled with petrol for your journey around the 45km island. The operation guys were very pleasant to speak English and happy to inform you with maps, an emergency number and high way code rules. It helps, too. if you have speak pleasant exchanging Spanish and not that you wouldn’t return they keep your sea pass as a guarantee. Taxi hire to the main shopping forum, one way was 8$ or a long 20 minute walk, that’s if, you were fit enough after all the glorious served consumed food during your week. You would also not mind this walk one way in the early morning sun but in the late after noon with shopping, it was worthwhile cab ride. We did not necessarily want to shop right away, but considering our options, we thought the value of the mopeds had been the better, than the each quoted $100 amount for parasailing at portside. We had the best time allowance for this port as we had to 17.00 hours. So we did decide to scoot around the entire island, to our fantastic surprise that awaited us. Being a moped accident victim, years ago, you can bet I was nervous not knowing how to drive on the wrong side of the road, to me.As we started along the recommended road, it wasn’t long to realise there were parallel dual purpose one way road the whole way round the 45km island. To us British, it was like a hard shoulder road and the other for the local light traffic that we experienced. This off roadside gave you the chance to take it at your own pace and to be closest to the many if not constant beach , as the ocean views had us many times asking Why not?, to stop. We took a worth while stop at El Celedar,a Macau monument and lighthouse Punta sur point for a much needed and affordable refreshment. Mexico people are polite and did not hassle you as we had experienced elsewhere. We, by passed, all those that opted for the Mr Sancho’s style beach day stays, that seemed to me to be really costly. Our final stop had a very apt name as Paradise bay, with what I’ll remember most was the “aR ree baa!! tequila feeling” as I scooted freely along the road to get back into the town /shopping forum .The town forum region was a one way system so you needed your wits about you to get back on to the main to port road. I found the cost of everything very reasonable and if you do what we did, along the way, with the out backs shops, you’ll experience them costing less and really welcome you to trade with them.
Day 6 It was hard to believe we were near ending our cruise, as we tried against the wind of the seas to capture the last of sun on the upper desks and use of the hot tubs. If you have Irish fair skin, be careful, as you can burn easily, as I did and guaranteed myself a hot seat ride home. We tragically heard there was a falling accident around the decks of the poolside. Our ship had to stop off, at sea, to use the ambulance boat for their medical aid; it however did not delay our return to port the next day. The day finished with the Quest competition, as it is strip searching effort after the 80’s disco dancing on the ice skating arena floor. Day 7 Before I really had to go onward to the Gator lone cabbage a float tour at 6.45am, I had my last chance to have one long lasting recall to hear the echo moments of all our generated laughter from the main promenade mall. The most special time was the” free love man “70’s dress up night, as my partner and I made an exceptional effort that will have lasting memories as the mad heel dancing, Wonda and the ABBA blonde- thing in ridiculous translucent heeled boots that laughed until I cried. WE certainly know WHO! for sure, bettering the Abe’s entertainment crew’s effort that night and well before they made an appearance. The crowd that WE had was rocking and joining in our HI 5 conga that stretched the entire promenade mall. You can guess that I found it exceptionally hard to leave the Freedom and had a tearful goodbye to her and to my new founded friends.