MITSUGIRLYS FREEDOM OF THE SEAS REVIEW & PICTORIAL
Day 1: Flying to Puerto Rico
Time for a new review: Spring Break 2019!!!
We cruise the Freedom of the Seas out of Old San Juan this time (I just love cruising from here).
Our ports would be:
Leaving San Juan: April 21 8:30pm
Basseterre, St Kitts: April 22 9-6pm
St Johns, Antigua: April 23 8-5pm
Castries, St Lucia: April 24 9-6pm
Bridgetown, Barbados: April 25 8-7pm
Sea Day: April 26 All fricken day long
Philipsburg, St Maarten: April 27 8-6pm
San Juan Arrival: April 28 6am
This time around it would be myself, hubby and Sakari the Mermaid and Kendra's family (Billy, Brayden, Kambriah) and Billy's niece Shawna.
My last cruise in December is when I decided to "resurface" on the web with a new review of our cruise on Carnival's Horizon. So many things had happened in my family since that summer and things were very hectic in life.
Well....I have managed to FINALLY complete my bachelors degree (after dragging it out for years...we all know I plan school and "life" around my cruising lol) and I would consider this my "Graduation cruise". (Hey, any excuse used for a cruise is a good excuse right?). I was going out with a bang!
Since all of the "changes in life" before my last cruise (new grandbabies, youngest son buying a new house and moving out, schooling, selling one of our businesses, and some home remodeling) there have been a few more changes thrown our way. Our Christmas cruise...we (meaning my family and Kendra's) were set to cruise and Kendra's fiance got word that they didn't think his dad would make it to Christmas. The day we were to fly out, Billy pulled out of going on the cruise. His father did make it, but unfortunately, he passed away February 15th this year. Billy has not taken it well (his dad raised him and all of his siblings so they were very close). To make matters worse, Billy's best friend (along with another good friend and an acquaintance) were also killed in a vehicle accident the SAME DAY! It was a crazy day and he has been dealing with a lot. With all that behind him, he really needed this cruise. But wait...there's MORE! Like how can there possibly be more that can be put on this mans shoulders? Two weeks before the cruise, his Uncle passed away. Then his baby sister passed away the Friday before the cruise. 😞 Less than 2 months from his fathers and best friends death he was once again burying another family member. He was not only dealing with all the loss in his family, but also trying to arrange a funeral prior to leaving. I just feel so bad for him and we were also VERY close to his dad and best friend. It's been a living nightmare for all of us. We really needed this cruise and a break away from life in general.
I decided to pick a cruise that would have at least one new port we had never been to before. We absolutely loved cruising with Royal Caribbean last time and figured it was time to come back again for this cruise. Antigua is one port that I had never been to...so we booked.
Now originally we were going to go with an interior, especially since this is another port intensive cruise and we aren't the type to spend much time in our rooms anyhow. But we found the ocean views to be a great deal...then for some reason I took a look at an ULTRA SPACIOUS OCEAN VIEW, which happened to be located at the very front of the ship with 2 windows. Hmmm, it's my graduation celebration cruise right? Heck, why not? I was super excited and knew that any room bigger than any previous interior or balcony had to be awesome right? I booked and was super excited!!!
Kendra played it cheap and booked an interior for their group. Spring Break cruises are always a lot more expensive than other times and she didn't want the added expense...or at least that's what she thought at the time. lol
This will make my 23nd cruise, my husband's 21th cruise I think? After a while, things are starting to run together.
and Sakari's 20th cruise...??? I've lost track to tell you the truth.
This entire review was shot with my Olympus Tough TG2 & a few with the 620. I take my model 620 & 830 along with me for back up because you never know what might happen and I would be devastated if I was without a camera. A few years ago, we also purchased Sakari her own camera (the 620 model) and she uses hers as well (which she managed to crack the screen on it during school camp last year so it's strictly a "land" camera now).
When I first started doing reviews, I would carry a note pad and take notes during the cruise. Then that went to just taking a few notes about the day each night before bed. Then the world of technology convinced me to type notes into my phone during the day each day. This cruise....I DID NOTHING! Nothing at all. Oops. I enjoyed myself and hoped that I had taken enough pictures during the day to remind me of what we did. So forgive me if I have a few mess ups or forget things along the way. I'll do my best.
April 19: Friday
Flying to San Juan...one of my favorite ports to cruise out of. We always go down at least the day before...just in case of bloopers. This time, we decided to book 2 days ahead of time and enjoy at least 1 day in Puerto Rico (and also 1 day after the cruise).
We always fly with Southwest. Kendra, trying to be a cheap-o decided she would try something different and booked with Frontier this time around. Usually by the time the flights are booked and you have to pay for the multiple luggage charges (because Kendra packs for at least 3 weeks of vacation stuff, even though it's only a week + away from home), I find that it ends up being about the same. Also, other airlines don't give out the free drinks and snacks...hey, I can't pass up free drinks and snacks!
We had different flight times (hers left later than ours). We were to arrive in PR at 9pm that night. Kendra wasn't arriving until midnight. I knew we would be starving by the time we got there and wanted to arrive at a decent time to check in and be able to walk somewhere to eat dinner. Kendra...well, she was on her own with that one with such a late arrival.
We definitely like flying out later in the day. I don't feel as rushed and it gives us time for any last minute packing. Our flight left at 2: 55pm.
I always have to take a picture of us waiting on the shuttle at the airport...I think it has become tradition.
As you can tell, it was a cold and dreary day. Typical Ohio weather. Cold one day and hot the next. I couldn't wait to get out of this weather and into some heat!
On our way to the airport...
Our check-in was quick and simple and there was NO ONE in the security line. I don't think I have ever experienced this before. Things are starting out good! However, Kendra was not having as much luck. She got a notification that their flight had been delayed before they ever made it to the airport. I did hear them make an announcement that all flights had been cancelled to Orlando that day (which is where they were flying to). I have no idea what it was all about.
Our plane left on time and we were excited!
We did have one flight change, in Baltimore, and encountered no problems other than a 15 minute delay (which they said they were waiting on the crew to arrive). We were on our way to Puerto Rico!!! It was a long 4 hour flight there.
We sat by the wing (Sakari's favorite place to sit) and I noticed the plane had their logo flashing on the outside of the plane. I was on a mission to capture this red flash of advertisement...but it must have taken me a good 10 tries to time it right. Persistence paid off.
We had made it! Puerto Rico was all lit up and beautiful.
One thing different about this flight was that they now offer free instant imessaging. This meant that I could still communicate with the family and get updates on their flights. Well, Kendra was still having issues...their flight had been delayed and delayed and delayed again. I believe they ended up flying into another airport and then down. Remember they were supposed to arrive at midnight? Well, I could only imagine what time it would be now...
I just had to keep rubbing it in that she should have just paid a few extra bucks and booked with us like she was originally going to. Oops.
After collecting our luggage, we headed out of the terminal to catch a taxi to our place. Puerto Rico is organized and they have a line, with someone asking where you are going, and they give you a piece of paper with the pricing to hand to the taxi driver, and then get you a taxi. Super easy and no surprise charges.
Puerto Rico taxi's do charge $1 extra per bag...so if you travel like my daughter, Kendra, does...be prepared.
It was a $23 taxi ride to the Condado area where we were staying.
(More on where we stayed later).
We arrived and checked in to our place and immediately headed out in search of a place to eat.
Right on the corner from where we stayed at was a Chili's. Normally I like to eat someplace authentic to the area we are staying at...but at this point, we were too hungry to explore until finding that certain place and just stopped at the first place available.
(picture taken the following day in the daylight).
Hey, at least I decided I wasn't just going to eat a cheeseburger and instead opted for the quesadilla. It was super yummy and hit the spot.
After getting our bellies full, we decided to walk on down the street to see other options for eating for tomorrow. There really wasn't a lot of people out in the area...especially for a Friday night.
Updates from Kendra: they had finally left out of Columbus at some point after their 5:03pm flight delayed until 6:03pm, then went to 5:38pm and then to 7:15pm. I looked up the weather in Orlando and took a video of the weather app on my phone (which showed thunder and lighting and severe weather) to show her what was going on...only to get the response... "is that really showing you every time the lighting goes off? I didn't know our phones could do that". Good Lord...this child! Even Sakari knew better and laughed at her.
I got a text from her saying they were leaving on the plane now....but it was 9:13pm. Now that's what I call a delay! The next text was them landing in Orlando and racing to the next plane (which was scheduled to actually LEAVE 2 minutes after their plane had landed.....).
One thing I forgot to mention about Billy as well...in January, we had a huge snow fall and everything was covered. Well, he was walking in a parking lot and didn't realize there was a parking block under the snow (which looked like even ground at that point) and he stepped sideways on it, twisted his foot/ankle and broke it! He had to have surgery with plates and screws put in his foot/ankle/leg and has been rolling around on a knee scooter since surgery. Poor guy! But this comes with benefits when flying...you get on first. However, racing from one plane to the next, trying not to miss their flight, didn't go so well. They got off the plane and rushed him over to the next...but then sat around forever waiting on the old plane to bring his knee scooter to the new plane. They pulled out at 10:33pm and was finally headed to PR.
Meanwhile, we decided to head back to our place and relax for the rest of the night. At that point, I had no idea what time Kendra would be coming in and I was tired from the long flight. We ended up falling asleep before I ever heard from her again.
WHERE WE STAYED PRE-CRUISE.
Since we have stayed in the Old San Juan area several times, and explored a lot of that area, I decided I wanted to stay somewhere close to the beach this time.
I ended up booking an Airbnb place that I thought looked interesting and it was right on the beach. It also had a pool and I knew that would be a big hit with the kids. It was a condo community and several people rent these units out on Airbnb. It was much easier to find 2 places in there (one for us and one for Kendra) than trying to locate 2 houses that were close enough to each other for us to hang out together.
Like I said, I was on a celebration cruise...so I picked the "more expensive" place, which consisted of a 1 bedroom "mini" penthouse at the top floor with a view of paradise. Kendra booked just a regular studio room on the 12th floor.
You can find my full review and pictures of the place we stayed in here ------>
At the end of my condo review on the page (above) you will find a link to Kendra's condo as well, which was a little different from ours.
But here's just a few pictures.