Cruisin Onboard the Freedom of the Seas

Ready to set sail for a week of fun onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship!

IMG_4739

IMG_4841

Ice Skating at Sea – early in the week the rink is reserved for ice shows and performances, then they open it guests for open skate sessions. When we arrived the ice hadn’t been smoothed over with the zamboni in a while, so there were quite a few gashes in the ice. We made a few laps around for the experience, then left to avoid a mid-vaca mishap.

IMG_4902

IMG_3987

IMG_3986

Late night strolls on the ship – Royal Caribbean always has such beautifully decorated ships and late night is the easiest time to really capture the beauty and detail of the ship. All is quite, except the pizza spot which stays open until the wee hours in case you need a late night snack. We stopped here many nights to refuel after dancing all night on the ship.

IMG_5055

IMG_5006

IMG_5005

IMG_5004

Wine Bar

IMG_5003

Irish Pub

IMG_4997

IMG_4993

Dinner in the dinning room – my favorite spot to eat for lunch and dinner, and the one structured thing I like to have during my cruise vacation. My server knows my name, exactly what I want, and even caters to my vegetarian needs. I had some amazing vegetarian Indian food a few nights during the trip, and its always fun to see the chefs and servers sing and dance.

IMG_5084

IMG_4979

IMG_4971

Parties on the pool deck – the place to be when you embark the ship, during your at sea days, and as you sail away from your port call. A few times though there were some pool deck faux pas, i.e. playing golf on the big screen and no music in the middle of the day….no bueno.

IMG_4765

IMG_4757

IMG_3891

IMG_8291

Dancing the Night Away at Sea – there are parties and live music happening every night on the ship. My favorite event of the cruise was the Silent Dance Party. It was so much more fun than we all expected!

IMG_5068

IMG_5072

IMG_5077

IMG_5076

IMG_5073

IMG_5058

When you need to getaway from it all – Take a moment for a midday nap or just to have some “me” time, escape to your room and enjoy a glass of wine. And who can resist a towel animal :) I came back to the room one night to a lovely surprise of sweet treats and wine from the cruise staff. Thanks again!

IMG_8318

IMG_4962

IMG_8300

Have you ever take a cruise vacation before? What’s your favorite cruise line?

Wishing you safe and happy travels! -xo AGT

Advertisements

Behind the Scenes – Freedom of the Seas

One of the most important parts of a cruise vacation is the food then of course there’s the drink packages, onboard entertainment, and a working cooling and sanitation system close behind. Onboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas there are 14 kitchens, 156 Chefs, 88 Greeter staff, and 9 members of Management – all working to ensure that over 20,000 – 30,000 meals get prepared each day.

IMG_5084

Dharmesh Badani, the head supervisor for our dinning room was kind enough to set us up with a private behind the scenes tour so that we can see where the magic happens before the food makes it to our table. So, Saturday morning the girls and I met with one of the executive chefs.

IMG_5100

The first thing I noticed upon entering the kitchen area is how clean and organized everything was, and chef informed us that the ship had is last health inspection on August 25, 2013 and they scored a 97 out 100 which outstanding. Often times scores are reduced due to human error when you are working with new crew members each voyage, so the amount of training that is involved in ensuring all of the proper safe precautions are taken is extensive.

IMG_5086

IMG_5095

Nothing leaves the kitchen without being inspected. Dinner is reviewed and taste tested everyday for quality and flavor, and any changes needed are made prior to the main dinner seating at 6pm.

IMG_5097

Those yummy rolls and breads that they bring out before your appetizers, they make about 30,000 of those daily. Holy Carbs! The chefs do have some assistance in speeding up the process though. We watched as the sourdough was kneaded, spread out, and placed in a machine to form the rolls – ready to go into the oven in a matter of minutes!

IMG_5087

IMG_5090

IMG_5091

IMG_5092

We watched as lunch service was going on and diner service was being prepped, and everything ran smoothly and flawlessly. It was awesome to see everything that goes into ensuring that you have an excellent dinner while onboard. I had a few nights where  there wasn’t anything particular that I liked on the menu, so they were willing to prepare me something to my liking and I had a vegetarian Indian meal on two separate nights. And I was pleasantly surprised to see a vegetarian meatball entree and a sweet and sour vegetarian chicken entree on the menu towards the end of the cruise. As a pescatarian I like to have options and I don’t want to eat just carbs for dinner.

IMG_5096

IMG_5098

IMG_5099

One of my favorite things about meal time on a cruise is the opportunity to try to try new foods. Just watch out and make sure you don’t gain the “cruise ship 5” :) Do you like dinning on a cruise ship? Did you try anything new?

Happy Cruising and Safe Travels! -xo AGT

Cruising To Your Next Adventure

Cruising is like going on the ultimate, worry-free adventure – aside from the mishaps that have made the news recently. A floating resort – As soon as you embark the ship your adventure begins – exploring the ship and learning the layout of your home away from home, trying new cuisines, and meeting new people. By the time you’ve boarded the cruise everything has been taken care of with the exception of alcohol (some cruise lines offer drink packages) and excursions (if you’ve chosen to wait).I just booked my 6th cruise adventure to celebrate my besties b-day, and this time we’re exploring Jamaica, Haiti, Grand Cayman, and Mexico by way of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas.

The Freedom of the Seas – 1,112 feet in length, is a whole lot of ship and I am so excited that we have 7 nights to explore it all! Ice skating, a movie theater, rock climbing, and 4-pools (including an adults only retreat).

How to Choose Your Cruise Adventure:

Where do you want your cruise to depart from? – I don’t get sea sick, but after the roller coaster ride I had on the Atlantic a couple of years ago leaving out of the Port of Baltimore I typically fly South and cruise out of Florida. NYC is a large cruise port though, with 3 cruise ship terminals (Manhattan, New Jersey, and Brooklyn).

Where do you want to go? Alaska, Caribbean, Europe, Canada, Australia?

How long do you want cruise? 3night, 5nights, 7night, 14nights?

What cruise line do you want to use? Does it matter? – So far I’ve cruised with Royal Caribbean and Carnival and Royal Caribbean is by far my favorite. I have heard good things from friends that have cruised with Celebrity and Princess Cruise Lines though.

IMG_0301

Now you’re ready to book! How do you find great cruise deals?

Cruise Line Websites (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian, etc…)

Vacations To Go

Priceline

Expedia

Travelocity

SATO Vacations

USAA (for military members)

 Tip: Additional discounts are given based on state residency, age, and military service – always inquire

IMG_0103

Short Vs. Long Cruises – My only advice here is always check the amenities available on your cruise ship – you don’t want to choose a long cruise that has a number of “At Sea” days and not enough to keep you entertained. I’ve gone on 3-night, 5-night, and 7-night cruises before and I enjoy the 5-7 nighters the best. I’m not sure if I’m ready to embark on a 14-night cruise adventure just yet, but there’s an Australia, New Zealand, Fiji cruise that is calling my name.

To Go for the Balcony or Not? – Now,I have gotten a balcony room before – at the urging of my Mother who wanted to have more space, and it was nice to relax on the balcony while pulling in and out of port, but I wouldn’t say that it’s absolutely necessary. I actually enjoy relaxing on the deck, watching the sunset as we pull away, and napping. I typically just go with an inside room since I don’t spend much time in my room. Plus it’s cheaper, so that means more money to explore with.

A Cruise…..To Nowhere?  –  Still on my list of things to do – I think it would be awesome for both the seasoned cruiser that wants to get underway and have a good time and the cruisin newbie who wants to test the waters. Ships leave port, cruise offshore for 1-2 nights, then pull back into port. You get all the luxuries of being on a cruise vaca – music, food, bars, shows, comedy, casino, and other ship amenities minus the port calls and excursions.

Cruise Myth Busters:

The Cruise Ship 15 5- Either make your way to the well-equipment gym each day, dance your butt off at the club each night, or choose not to over indulge at dinner. Trust me they know how to feed you on a cruise ship, so over-indulging is very easy to do. It seems like there is ALWAYS food around and at dinner they will let you try anything you want on the menu.

IMG_0227

Booking Your Excursions through the Cruise Line is Best – Not always the case. Often times local guides will give you a better rate for your money than the cruise line. That $90 paddleboarding adventure, may only cost you $40 and is equally safe and fun.

IMG_0270

Tip: Want to read reviews about your ship, meet people who will be cruising with you, read reviews on excursions to help narrow down your choices? Visit Cruise Critic.

Happy Cruising!

IMG_0185

Until Next Time! -xo AGT