Wednesday, August 31, 2016

George Town, Cayman Islands

Freedom Of The Seas, 
Day 5
George Town, Cayman Islands
Thursday, August 18, 2016

Our tour for this port of call was cancelled and the money we prepaid was credited to our sea pass account.   We had decided to just walk about the shops so we didn't rush to get up early.  We had our breakfast just after 10:15 then went to catch the ferry to shore.  The ship was tendered as there is no pier or whatever you call it.

The ship was tendered along side two Carnival Cruise Ships: Carnival Sensation, and Carnival Paradise so there were plenty of tourists ashore today!

Once ashore, we were a bit lost so we took a photos or two and started walking.  A guy approached us selling a tour of the island.  There were a bunch of other tour guides outside the gated port area selling the same tour, I suspect they were all the same company.  We seen a handful of folks going on the tour so we said sure why not.  Besides, there were three ships in port which meant many tourists.  Excursions not sold by the ship are located outside the port terminal whereby the ones sold by the ship are located inside.

 The tour cost us only $20. USD per person and we got to see some of the island.  We went to the town of Hell and also to see Dolphins.  We also got a lot of history about the island from our guide, Glen.  It was well worth the money.  We gave Glen a nice tip and took a photo with him at the end of the tour like we always do.

I wore shorts and a tank but also a long sleeve linen top to protect my shoulders, arms and neck from further sunburn.  The tour was almost two hours and we were inside a small tour bus mini van type of vehicle.  The air conditioning was a bit weak and the bus a bit worn on the inside but we had jokes and a great time with our co passengers.  We were nine tourists in that vehicle.  (photo below is husband with our tour guide Glen)

We took photos and video and boy was it hot and sunny!  I'm typing up these blogs daily on my iPad from a lawn chair on deck four while watching the soothing water out to sea!  I'll just post them online at a later date!  I just don't want to forget any fun details.  (update: I still have to get the videos posted to YouTube so when I do I'll just post a blog with them... sorry)

We had to be back on the ship by 15:00, the last ferry (or tender??) to the ship was at 15:15 and you snooze you lose, unless your excursion was booked through the ship, the ship will leave without you if you are late returning!

The ship left at 16:20 because it was waiting on two passengers. These passengers did not book their excursion through the ship but instead went out on their own.  Most likely they forgot the time difference (Grand Cayman is one hour behind Florida time and the ship uses Florida time that they refer to as "ship time") or the guests cell phones adjusted the time zone without their knowledge, or they just assumed the ship left at 17:30 like in most ports of call.  Either way, they were late so their passports were left ashore for them....when they finally find their way to the port and realize there is no ship waiting.  That's gotta hurt! Their luggage would be forwarded back to Florida, not sure but most likely at the end of the cruise, but they would have to arrange their own way back to Florida.

Wow. That's still gotta hurt.  Most folks just heading to the beach leave the ship wearing only their bathing suits and tiny cover ups.... imagine having to get to an airport or hotel or something...being stranded in a foreign place in only a bathing suit, flip flops and a skimpy cover up... ouch that's gotta hurt real bad.

Later, Husband took a nap out on deck four while the ship pulled off and I ......blogged and played candy crush off line though, no communicating with the outside world until we return home on Sunday night.  I did text my sisters at least once a day to let my mom know we were doing fine.

Our usual evening routine of dinner in the windjammer buffet, because the formality of dinner in the dining room defeated the casualness of a vacation in our opinion.  We took a stroll in the Promenade shops on deck five, then on deck 11 and deck 4 before watching the Olympic races from one of the bars that had large flat screen televisions! Then off to bed we went pretty early like old folks, missing all the night events but that was the purpose of this vacation, for the two of us to get plenty of rest.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Falmouth, Jamaica

Freedom Of The Seas, 
Day 4
Falmouth, Jamaica
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Our alarm woke us up early. We did our usual morning routine, and went for breakfast in the Windjammer buffet. Today we tried banana pancakes with syrup, fried plantain, tea and orange juice.  Since today's island was Jamaica, the buffet hosted a corner dedicated to Jamaican cuisine.  

After breakfast, we exited the ship and met up with our tour for $34 USD per person.  We booked the Heritage Walking Tour that was almost two hours long walking along the edge of Falmouth.  

Our guide told us some history of the islands and we were all too glad to skip the part about Christopher Columbus who discovered nothing since people already lived there! That'd be like me saying I discovered Jamaica because it was my first time going there.  Bad enough the dude changed the name of Haiti (according to our tour guide yesterday) so you know, stop talking about Columbus discovering things.

Anyway, we got some great photos, heard some history and then returned to the port to look for souvenirs for the family. 

We always take photos with our tour guides on every excursion we take on every cruise we went!  Makes for great memories. (photo below, me with out three tour guides)

Back on the ship, we watched pier runners (these are the folks who are running late and risk missing the ship!) two guys almost missed it but I think they had their tour booked through the ship because that's the only way it waits for you.

We had dinner in the buffet windjammer again; roast beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, peas and rice, curry goat, jerk chicken, jello, ice cream and oatmeal cookies.  And of course lemonade, water and tea.

We didn't see any shows yet this cruise.  We'd seen plenty on past cruises so we weren't to broke up over it.  We still hadn't run into Shrek and Fiona (they were on this cruise too.)  by the end of this day I was lobster red. Burnt shoulders, arms, my legs were tanned but not burned like my shoulders.  I used sunblock spf50 and still I'm suffering! Dude, that is wrong on so many levels.

We watched a bit of the movie on the big screen out by the pool but we didn't catch it from the beginning and it looked to be an interesting film so we walked around a bit then found our way to the NextCruise desk and booked another cruise but we aren't sure if we will go on it though.  Either way, we have about ten months to decide at cancel and get a full refund.  We booked it this way to get the free on board credit and a lower deposit rate with 30% off, and  because husband really liked the itinerary.  I'll blog that at a later date. 

It got late, we went to our room and watched some of the olympics then to bed.

note: the photos don't have a date stamp yet because I'm still in the process of taking care of that... I'm so slow this time around LOL.  

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Labadee, Haiti

Freedom Of The Seas, 
Day 3
Labadie, Haiti
Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Today we were in Labadie, Haiti, the private resort island owned by Royal Caribbean.  Our alarm went off early and we got up, did our morning routine and then got ready to disembark the ship.    I think the ship docked at 08:00 and we got off the ship near 09:00 after eating breakfast in the windjammer buffet (scrambled eggs, hash brown, fried potatoes, plain pancakes with syrup and English breakfast tea.)

This cruise, we prepaid our gratuities and booked/paid our excursions all in advance on line.  Basically, everything for this cruise was taken care of before we left home.  We brought money with us but chances are we won't spend it except to tip the excursion tour guides and to purchase souvenirs.

Our tour was the Discover Haiti Coastal Tour and was supposed to be at 10:30 but the ship notified us of a time change so it was at 13:00 instead which we were happy about too.  While we waited for our tour, we walked about the island, took some photos with our Canon DSLR camera and tried out our new selfie stick that had the ipod touch connected to it.  

We took some cute selfies and also at least eighty five photos of the inside of my bag because the selfie stick was on Bluetooth and kept snapping my iPod. Ha ha ha.   Oh my gosh I can't stop laughing.  This happened to us every single day!  Tons of photos of the inside of the bag, the floor, the wall, the sky, my hand! Ha! Ha! Ha!

Anyway, We got a couple of beach chairs under a tree and relaxed while watching folks do the zip line, or swim in the ocean.  I took some video too but haven't had time to post them to my YouTube channel yet... sorry. 

The ship had a bar-b-q on the island where we had lunch of burgers, hot dogs and fries.  I love that the ship serves beef hot dogs!  We bought a bottle of water for an arm and leg because we needed to keep hydrated.  A small bottle of water, I think the 500ml, was $3.65 USD.  Highway robbery in my opinion. 

When finally it was time to head to our tour, the guy in security directed us back to the ship like a genius so we had to come back around to get to the dock for our boat tour. I would have flipped if I missed it because there is no refund.

We paid, $54 USD per person for this tour through the Royal Caribbean excursions.  We pre paid our excursions on line a month before the cruise so we wouldn't have to wait in the excursion booking lines on the ship to make reservations.  Let me tell you, the lines were long for those who had to wait in them because there were only two employees taking care of the excursions and who wants to spend vacation time standing in line?

We boarded a catamaran that took us along the coastline where I took some video, and some photos.  We had seats on top in the shaded area but I still got burned even though I used sunscreen with SPF50.  The tour guide showed us a rock formation called mermaids rock.  He said some believe that mermaids come there so people leave food and rum for them to be in their good favour.  

We also passed by a sand bar where another tour was busy partying while some folks swam or snorkeled.  It looked pretty cool to see a shallow beach in the middle of the deep waters. (the above photo)

We passed plenty of local fishermen and a couple of kids in a row boat selling bananas.  I tried to give them five American dollars but we were still moving so I folded it up and tossed it to them.  The kids jumped from their boat into the water and got the cash and gave me the thumbs up to say thank you. 

Our tour continued along the shore while the guide pointed out spots on land and told us the local history of the places.  All in all, it was a beautiful tour and well worth the money.  Drinks were sold on the tour as were handicrafts.  We picked up a handicraft for a souvenir gift. 

When we went back aboard the cruise ship, we went to freshen up, then roamed the ship before dinner.  

After dinner we sat outside on deck four and watched the sun set and the stars emerge before going to grab a tea and heading to our room and calling it a night.

Yet again we went to bed by 22:00 thus missing the live night shows.  That's ok, we got to watch them on television, the cruise records them and airs them on the interactive televisions in the staterooms! ....and the cruise director Casey, was still a flop.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Fun Day At Sea

Freedom Of The Seas, 
Day 2
Fun Day At Sea
Monday, August 15, 2016

Today was a sea day.  We set the alarm on my iPod touch to wake us at 07:45. We woke up and did our daily routine which consisted of saying our prayers, using the toilet, taking a shower, brushing our teeth, husband shaved while I combed my hair, getting dressed and packing our backpack for the day, blah, blah, blah.

Didn't have to make the bed!  Yay!

We went to the Lido Deck for breakfast in the Windjammer Buffet.

Didn't have to cook!  Yay!

We had scrambled eggs, home-fried potatoes, turkey sausage, a pancake, orange juice, water and tea.

Didn't have to wash dishes! Yay!

After breakfast we toured the ship from top to bottom, end to end.  We took pictures and then we went to see a 3D movie in the Arcadia Theatre.  The 3D glasses were a bit uncomfortable for me as I wear prescription glasses but they did fit right over them.  Still, I found they gave me a headache.

The movie was a cartoon called "Home". It was so cute, we laughed a bit too.  We were going to go see an ice show but ten minutes of waiting WE FROZE because we were in shorts and tank tops.  For the ice theatre, we should have worn pants and long sleeve shirts!  Maybe we will will see one on Saturday. 

Yes, there is an ice skating rink inside called "Studio B" and it has free skating but you must wear pants because it's too cold and if you fall you may stick to the ice (I'm laughing at that visual), and socks for the skate rental obviously.

Lunch was in the windjammer buffet where we had a wide variety of food to choose from but we went with hamburgers, fries and mashed potatoes with gravy and a glass of lemonade.  There was plenty of food to make your own green salad, or cold cut sandwich, there was also seafood rice (brown rice with shrimp), pasta, fried chicken, and fish of some sort so the food in the buffet wasn't lacking!  For dessert we had jello but there was also a variety of cakes, mousse, cookies, tarts and ice cream.  Later in the afternoon we tried the soft serve ice milk from the sprinkles vending machine.  It wasn't all that because it was ice milk not ice cream....big difference to me.  It comes out of the machine slow and hard like frozen yogurt so you can't really twirl it nice on your cone. And it's frozen milk not cream so it melts fast and makes the cone soggy real fast.  There is a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop on deck 5 but it costs extra and I'm just not that desperate for ice cream!  My inner pipes hate ice cream anyway.  Every time I eat it my belly aches and I bloat (fear not because I travelled with Pepto Bismol tablets! )

We missed the belly flop competition at the pool because we were in the theatre but we watched it on the television later.  We didn't miss much because the cruise director had no jokes whatsoever! Sorry Casey but you flopped!

We had dinner at 18:00 in the buffet: mashed potatoes, grilled chicken breast, gravy, steamed rice and lemonade.  I had a tea afterward with dessert of blueberry pound cake and chocolate ice cream that my inner pipes hated.

After dinner we went to the online area and we sat to people watch.  We had a great view from deck eight down to deck five.  It was formal night, which we don't participate in, so we sat back and people watched.  Personally, we go on vacation to be laid back and chill.  Dressing up for dinner is a chore unless it's a family gathering, wedding or holiday, you know what I mean?  We prefer vacations where we can veg out, you know, "lay like broccoli".

It was a nice relaxing day but sort of busy since we rarely were able to catch the elevator and had to walk up and down the stairs all the time but it was good exercise considering how much food I ate and it's only day two! 

We went to our inside cabin on the eighth floor, showered, brushed our teeth, watched some of the Olympics on television then said our evening prayers and went to bed exhausted.

Slept like King Tut in that big comfy bed with soft pillows and the gentle sway of the ship. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Our Summer Vacation!

So finally husband and I got to take our vacation.  

We had initially purchased this seven day cruise over a year ago.  If memory serves me correct, we put the first deposit on this in May of 2015.  We purchased the flight tickets sometime in November.

Royal Caribbean 7 Night Western Caribbean Cruise.

Freedom Of The Seas 
Day 1
Orlando, Florida
Sunday, August 14, 2016

We started our day by getting up at 03:45 and had a quick breakfast.  Bill, the taxi driver who is also a member of our church, came to pick us up at 05:05 to drive us to the airport. We were so busy chatting him up on the drive that he missed his exit and almost got us lost in a golf course ha! ha!

Ok that's really not funny!  

We eventually made it to the airport and did the self check in using one of those computer things, which was somewhat user friendly, problem is it will still provide a boarding pass ticket even if no seat is selected or even available!  The kiosk prints our boarding pass and luggage tags once you pay the baggage fee then you just need to drop off your luggage and go.

One lady was in line at the baggage drop off with tons of luggage for her family but her husband was still at the kiosk doing the self check in! She was having a difficult time managing the luggage because she was waiting on her husband to help her thus she was holding up the line.  Folks got mad and walked around her.  We gave her the "not cool" look while everyone else just grumbled out loud to her.  We put our luggage through without having to pay over weight fees, that's because we weighed them at home first! Then off to the waiting area for the Air Canada flight.  The two pieces of check luggage cost $25 Canadian each bag.

When we got through to the waiting area of our plane, I was curious to check what seat we had because it wasn't saying a number like usual, just "GTE".  First I thought that meant the emergency exit seat, so I asked the lady at the desk and she said it was no seat and that they oversold the flight by five seats! She then asked would I accept $800 to fly later.

No way! Uh uh! Nope! Not going to happen!

We needed the flight now!

So instead of seats 12E & 12F like we actually purchased, we ended up with seat 43.  

Yup. Seats forty-friggen-three.

The very absolute last two seats at the back of the plane right beside the toilets and all the noisy crying kids.

Any further back and we'd have been on the tail of the plane!

I would say FML, but at least we were on the plane.  Count my blessings!!!

This is the only time we've ever reserved seats and ended up with something else.  Then again, this was the first time we've flown with Air Canada.  Our past flights were with American Airlines and Air France.

Basically, clearing customs and baggage check & pick up were quick and easy, it was the seating arrangements that sucked.  Air Canada you failed miserably.

Anyway, counting our blessings like I said.  

We arrived at Orlando Airport, got our luggage easily and found the Royal Caribbean shuttle that awaited us.  All in all getting off the plane took about ten minutes since we were the last passengers and getting our luggage took like two minutes after we caught the tram train to the baggage area of the airport.  We met up with the representatives from Royal Caribbean who were handling the shuttle service for which we prepaid and fifteen minutes later we boarded a large greyhound type of tour bus (our luggage, except carry on, were stored under the bus in the baggage areas) and we headed to the cruise terminal at Port Canaveral.  

Roughly 45 minutes later we pulled up to the cruise terminal.  The shuttle takes care of handing off the luggage to the porters so we just had to deal with our carry on.

The line in the cruise terminal was long...and I mean long! There were plenty of representatives behind the counters to assist folks so the line may have moved quickly for all I know.   We had priority check in because we checked in online a couple weeks ago so we just needed to set up our on board account with a credit card, have our photo taken for our sea pass cards and that was it. They had a priority line with two people in front of us.  Three minutes, tops, we were on our way onto the ship.... now if we had to wait in that very long line behind what looked like a hundred and fifty people, well, it may have been longer than three minutes.

It was almost 13:30 so we were able to get into our stateroom and drop off our carry on luggage and change into a pair of shorts since we wore jeans on the plane.  We went straight to the 11th floor and the windjammer buffet. Husband and I both ate an apple, some mashed potatoes and a strip of freshly cut roast beef along with some french fries, lemonade and water. 

The muster drill was at 15:45 when the ship was about to depart.  We went to our muster station, stood there for 15 minutes in the heat and humidity, were presented with the emergency info and life jacket procedure then were dismissed.  After that we went up to the Lido deck (deck 11) to watch the ship leave port.

Then we strolled around the ship for a tad longer ....

....and kept going to check our room to see if our bags arrived every so often. Only one did after two hours.

Luckily, we half pack, as in, half of my stuff and half of husbands stuff in one bag, and the other halves in the other bag.  See, if one bag gets lost, we will still both have a change of clothes!  Anyhow, the second bag arrived an hour or so after the first bag.   We unpacked, walked the ship some more then we went out to see the stars. 

The sky was breathtaking!

We went out onto the very top of the ship way out front. It was quite windy and quite dark too since the ship itself only has so many lights out there.

The night sky.......So beautiful.  So many stars, bright moon and a few puffy clouds with one giving off lightning like natural fireworks!  So very beautiful.

We went to bed after that, exhausted.  By then I think it was 21:30.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Self Promotion

  So recently, I've been working pretty hard on items to add to my shop.  I've cut out lots of plastic shapes and stitched on a few pieces of felt and some cross stitch as well.  I'm hoping to load all the finished items onto the shop within the next two or three weeks even though I will soon be going on vacation and having to close down my shop for a bit, at least I'll have the items loaded.

I've been getting some pretty nice sales considering I've only got a handful of items up there.  The good thing is, all my prices are listed in Canadian dollars so with the American exchange rate, any American buyer is getting a great deal!  I just enjoy stitching so I don't pad the price too much with "time it too to make", I just really need to charge for the supplies used.  Shipping costs are actual costs I get from Canada Post and since items are small, they fit into a padded envelope shipped via lettermail so no customs documents are necessary thus no extra customs costs will be incurred.   

Buy Canadian made items!!!!  CraftilySewn on Etsy Hand made in Canada!!!   

Ya, that's just me plugging my shop.