49 days and counting

Trip Start Apr 26, 2008
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Trip End May 14, 2008


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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Friday, March 7, 2008

So, now we are at 49 days and counting until we sail and there is so much still to do.  I am the kind of person who will run every days events through my head from breakfast in the morning till I eat my piece of chocolate on my bed at night. I need to know what we are going to do and what is our back up plan in case of an emergency (rain, fire, etc.). I guess you can say I get a little anal about these things and I drive my wife crazy as we plan out our trip well in advance. Yes, I know it is impossible to be able to plan for everything but can you really blame a guy for trying?
 
So, here is how I see things going on our trip:
 
We arrive in Miami on the date of sailing of April 26th at 9:47am and our ship leaves port at 4:00pm, a 6 hour time frame. However, homeland security requires that you board the ship at least 2 hours ahead of departure time, we are now down to 4 hours.. This is NOT an acceptable amount of time for me. What if the flight is delayed? (April, Phoenix to Miami, it shouldn't be but what if?) What if our luggage gets misplaced? What if... well, you get the point. I normally would fly in a day earlier in order to avoid any problems but we just could not get any more time off.  So, therefore, I see that my blog on the 27th detailing what happened on the 26th will either say how we ran through the airport like OJ Simpson in an AVIS commercial and made the ship at the last moment or the blog may read as the last line in this blog because we missed the sailing! :)
  
If all goes well, we will have boarded our ship, the Carnival "Freedom" and we probably headed directly to the Lido deck buffet to have lunch and prepare for our sailing. Carnival's "Freedom" is a new ship built in 2007, weighing in at 110,000 tons and holding a max of 2964 passengers and 1150 crew members, it is the pride of their fleet (that is until the sister ship, the Splendor comes out this year). Did I mention, it is sold out too? I guess it is not too hard to understand why. Carnival took notice that Trans-Atlantic sailings usually do not sell out, so they had a sale. We paid a cruise fare of $300.00 per person (plus port charges and taxes) for a 14 day sailing to 4 countries. A Great deal! They later hit us for a fuel charge per person of $70.00 but that will have to be a whole blog on its own since we are part of the lawsuit in Florida regarding that specific charge to passengers that had already paid for their cruise and were hit later with that charge. In any case, for that price and being on a new ship, all food and entertainment included and not to mention, the number 1 cruise director in the world on this ship as well.  Yes, the legendary John Heald (www.johnhealdsblog.com) is the cruise director on this ship. He was my cruise director back in 1991 when I went on the new "Ecstasy" at the time. He is very funny and really knows how to involve everyone in the daily activities on board the ship.
 
As you can imagine, we do have quite a few relaxing days at sea on this sailing, so Katty and I have already started picking out our books to bring along on this cruise. We also made a lot of friends on the message boards with other people sailing on our date to have planned activities on board the ship as well. Let me explain this. There is a wonderful website designed for cruise travel agents and people who love to cruise, where they can talk and share information with each other. For example, what to do in a port other than the excursions provided by the cruise line at an extra cost? Where are the laundry facilities on board the ship? Etc., etc... The website is www.cruisecritic.com and there is no cost to join. So, if you love to cruise, I highly recommend adding this site to your favorites.  Well, we made a lot of friends on this site and saved a lot of money as well (going as a group on excursions when we hit our ports of call). We also planned a lot of activities together on board the ship as well. For instance, we have the following:
 
1-      Mini-Golf Tournament ($1.00 per person /1st, 2nd, 3rd prizes)
2-      Meet and Mingle Party (free)
3-      Luncheon (free)
4-      Door prize at luncheon ($1.00 per person)
5-      Poker Crawl
6-      Slot Pull ($5.00 per person.. all winnings shared)
7-      Chinese Auction ($10.. max travel gift wrapped/ also called an Elephant gift)
 
The ship has a lot of great things to do as well. It has a basketball court, golf simulator, a giant movie screen by the main pool (12ft by 22ft) that will play movies, concerts and sporting events (basketball/hockey playoffs), water slide, mini-golf, 4 pools in total, fitness center, casino, several theatres with live performances, 22 bars and lounges, not to mention all the free food (from the main seating at breakfast, lunch and dinner, all day buffets, pool BBQ's, sushi bar, fried fish and chips bar, deli sandwich bar, 24 hour pizzeria, 24 hour room service, mid-night chocolate buffets/ midnight lobster buffets..etc., etc.). I think we will find a way to stay active. :)
 
Before I end for the day, I do have a few things to mention. Some items came in the mail this week for our cruise. The first and one of the more important items, Our Italian SIM card for my phone (TIM). This will allow me to avoid roaming charges while in Italy, Portugal and Spain and make calls to the US for only $0.50EUR and receive all FREE incoming calls as well. A great deal since roaming would have cost as much as $5.00USD per call. Also, I can receive calls onboard the Freedom as well. They accept service from either AT&T or T-Mobile. I have T-Mobile (HATE AT&T but that will have to be another blog J ). A new 8 GB SD card for my video camera which will allow me to shoot videos up to 16 hours before downloading to my computer. My new LINGO which translates into 12 languages, it also is a currency converter, a world time clock and a phone data bank as well.. Normally sells for $160.00 new, used on eBay was 30.00 included shipping cost as well. It works great. I found that if you do not want to get ripped off in a restaurant because you are a tourist, you will want to ask for the menu in their native tongue and not the one in English.. The prices will always be different. Now, with the lingo, I will know what I am ordering and pay the same prices as the natives. Also, take note, that European restaurants charge extra if you want to sit when you eat rather then stand at the bar, also, sitting outside costs more as well. I am already training Katty to eat while she stands... LOL.... OK, I am only kidding about that.
 
I am now tired of writing so Bye for now...
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