August 24, 2016

The First Days On The Freedom

Saturday is the designated packing day, but that doesn't start until many other chores are completed. Cooking 15 pounds of bar-b-que for all the kids to share, giving the house a quick cleaning, and then just as I was starting to pack, repairing the aerator on the kitchen faucet. It probably has never been replaced, and when accidentally hit, shattered into many pieces. When the water was turned on it sprayed all over the kitchen. No waiting until my return to fix this. Fortunately a quick trip to Lowe's and an adequate, if not ideal, repair was made.

The trip to the port and the boarding process was uneventful. Once the baggage gorillas had my luggage it was basically a walk thru all the steps to board the ship. For the first time in several years all my replacement body parts didn't set off the metal detectors.

Schools have started in Florida, but not in some of the Northern states. I expected some kids on the ship, but not the number that are here. There were seven school buses parked in the cruise ship lot, potentially 350 kids, but only a small portion of the total number here.

Of course very few if any of the kids will be hanging out in my preferred areas, the Diamond Lounge, Schooner Bar, The Crown Lounge, called Olive and Twist on this ship, and the Concierge lounge. After a day the only effect of all the kids is occasionally having an empty elevator arrive with the buttons for all floors already pushed. Something I never did as a kid, but probably as where I grew up there were no elevators.

As always there are a handful of people I know from previous cruises. Even one of my neighbors, Charlie, is here. The truth is I see Charlie much more often on a cruise ship than I do at home in Clermont.

My first stop was to change my dining time from 8:00 PM to 5:30. There were no early dining slots available when I booked a few weeks ago. One of the benefits of being a frequent passenger, they will always find a way to accommodate such requests.

I will never cease to be amazed by the memory of the staff people. When our waiter came to the dining room table for the first time he started his conversation by saying " Mr Stephen, you already know all this but I need to tell the other guests at the table". "Mr Stephen" is almost always how guests are greeted. It has been 10 months since I have been on The Freedom, my memory was jogged, I do remember the waiter, but not sure on which ship or which cruise.

The seas are absolutely flat as we make our way to an Early arrival at Coco Cay, Royal's private island. The majority of the passengers go ashore to enjoy the beaches and a bar-b-que lunch prepared on the ship but served on the island. I find a quiet table in the Diamond lounge to write and work on some of my model train projects.

I have two 24 hour periods of free internet access, so will wait until later in the week to post to my blog. That's another way of saying I love all my readers, but not to the point of spending $17 a day so you could read this a day or two sooner. This also allows me to be a day or two behind, and you won't know the difference.

Last night's dinner and service in the dining room was excellent. Probably no need for the buffet on this cruise.

All the passengers reboard from their day on the island. A I clean up for cocktails and dinner the captain starts talking. It takes him 15 minutes to tell us that Fiona is forming and expected to bring heavy weather to St Martin and St Thomas, our next two ports of call. We are being diverted to Cozumel and Costa Maya instead.

This is what all the cruise lines do when bad weather is approaching, divert their course to calmer waters if at all possible. Of course there are all kinds of reactions among the passengers. Some just don't understand, some are very angry, many just take the news in stride and there are many like myself that just don't care. I'm here for the cruise not the destination, and probably won't get off the ship at all this week.

Formal night dinner is very good. There are some tuxedos, many jackets, and always those few that only own tee shirts.

I attend part of the production show with the singers and dancers. As near as I can remember it is exactly the same as last year and the years before that. Of course the individual cast members have changed several times.

A brief stop at the piano bar and then its lights out.

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