Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I spent this July 4th holiday onboard the beautiful, Freedom of the Seas! The Royal Caribbean ship sails out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Since I live in Orlando, it was a short drive to the Port. We actually arrived later than we normally would for embarkation, about 1pm. The terminal was packed. It took about 30 minutes from the time we got through security until we were onboard the ship. Embarkation itself, was smooth and we had no complaints.
Since we arrived after 1pm our stateroom was ready when we boarded. We stayed in an E2 balcony cabin on deck 6. Cabin 6626 to be exact.
We had lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. The food was very good. We pre-registered my son for the Adventure Ocean club. This was our biggest complaint of the cruise, through no fault of the staff. We have sailed on Princess with my 4 year old many times and he was used to the large kids' club onboard those ships. Princess' newest fleet offers a mini-rock wall in the kids' club, a climbing gym, about 6 computers, play areas, large flat screen tv and an oustide big wheel track. My son walked into the Freedom of the Seas club and was not happy to see only a boat with a slide, a lego table and small tv with a couch. The staff was wonderful, but Spencer didn't enjoy the kid's club very much.
We chose late traditional dining and were seated in the Leonardo Dining Room on deck 3. I was happy with the food, desserts and after dinner drinks that were offered nightly.
Our waiter Raj was fantastic and a true professional.
We sailed to Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Coco Cay was the only washout. We did some quick shopping on St. Thomas and spent the day on the beach on St. Maarten.
For those looking for a cheap day on the beach, take the ferry over to the shopping area ($6 round trip) and walk to the white umbrellas to the right. The Holland House offers 2 chairs, umbrella and 5 iced cold drinks for only $15. We also rented a jet ski for $55. St. Maarten is my favorite island. The waters are so clear and I love the landscape.
Back on the ship, we passed on the shows, but did try the Flow Rider and rock wall. Make sure to wear shorts over your bathing suits ladies, the current is VERY strong. The sports deck has plenty of activities including mini-golf, basketball and ping pong.
Overall, this was a wonderful cruise. However, be warned that Royal Caribbean no longer offers chocolates on your bed at night (much to the disappointment of my 4 year old) and ice is only offered in the afternoon, unless you ask for more. I would definately sail this ship again!
For videos of my trip, go to my YouTube page, http://www.youtube.com/user/becktours.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
I spent most of my childhood summers on Sanibel Island, Florida. My parents were school teachers in Indiana and had summers off, so we would always drive down to Sanibel for a couple of weeks each year. I still have a fondness for Sanibel and wanted to share that with my children. Last month my husband and I packed up the car, kids and drove the three and a half hours down to Sanibel. We spent a week at the Sundial Beach Resort. When I booked the resort I asked for a first floor room near the main building. When I checked in there were no first floor rooms still available. At first I was not happy, but this turned out to be a blessing. When I saw our second floor condo I was very happy. We had an amazing ocean front condo. Had I been on the first floor all of the bushes would have blocked most of the ocean view. We chose the 2 bedroom condo. The master bedroom had a king sized bed and the second bedroom had two twin beds. There was also two family living areas which offered two pull out couches. The rooms were clean and there was daily maid service. We ate in the hotel's restaurant the first night and had a wonderful meal. I had the tuna steak and it was perfect. The kids' meals were all to their liking (chicken fingers & hot dogs). There are many wonderful restaurants on Sanibel Island, but we were too tired from packing, unpacking and driving to venture out for the night. The Sundial Beach Resort has 5 pools. We were in building K which is next to the main pool. The pool was huge and had a slide for the kids or kids at heart. We spent more time in the pool than on the beach. The resort does offer beach chairs and umbrellas. The beach is small, but nice. Plenty of great shells to collect. You can also rent bicycles by the day or week. We rented bikes for the entire week and rode most every night down to the Dairy Queen for dessert. Overall, I was very pleased with the resort. It was very family friendly. There was an arcade, a kids' club and daily planned activities. I look forward to our next family vacation to Sanibel and the Sundial Beach Resort.