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BeeeJay's Diff'rent Sort of Adventure: A vegas-free, but not gambling-free Trip

Discussion in 'Non-Vegas Trip Reports' started by BeeeJay, Oct 14, 2010.

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  1. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    As I will be without internet during the main portion of this trip, or will have limited time access, I am doing the trip report in Word and will post each day as completed, possibly posting the whole boat part upon return if the uploads are too slow.

    So below begins the official trip report, sorry for any repeated material. This part is meant to stand on its own
     
  2. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Introduction:

    After 27 Vegas trips in the last 30 months, a mailer from Harrah's convinced me it was possibly time to try something different. Well that and shivering in the shade on a windy 80 degree October day at Aria in Vegas, just knowing those pool-less winter trips cooped up in the smoky casinos were not going to do it this year.

    Thanks to the Harrah's Diamond Card 20% discount I was suckered in so to speak. They didn't jack the rack rate up at all, but in reality the comp covered maybe 5% more than the taxes. Lowering the price from $1,099 plus taxes and fees to $1,016.30 including taxes.

    I had decided on a 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise on new in 2010 and very large Norwegian Cruise Lines Epic. While most ships charge a solo passenger for double occupancy, The Epic has a special area of the ship designed for solo travelers with "studio cabins" that are very small and have a common living room and bar area accessible only to this group. The advantage of not paying double occupancy made this by far my cheapest option. Non-gourmet meals are included, drinks (a primary expense for most cruisers apparently) are not. Another advantage of the casino reservation is the inclusion of a "drink card" allowing free drinks in the casino.

    The overall cost of the trip, to get real specific, which I always appreciate people doing, is as follows:

    $1,016.30 CRUISE--quoted rate for the cruise was $1,099 less 20% plus taxes.
    $ 723.20 HOTEL--4 nights ppd at Palmer House South Beach with taxes, fees
    $ 384.40 AIR--AA roundtrip to Miami from ORD including 1st class upgrade out
    $ 177.00 ENTERTAINMENT--3 Shore Excursions during the cruise
    $ 222.07 ENTERTAINMENT--40 yd line, row 17 aisle ticket to Dolphins-Titans
    $ 122.75 ENTERTAINMNET--1 pretty low corner seat to Heat-Raptors

    $2,645.72 Total

    Plus I expect to have to spend at least $340 on cabs. As I mentioned, the casino invitation gets me some free drinks on the ship. I have budgeted another $2,000 for whatever comes up on the trip, eating in Miami, entertainment, gambling, the cabs, hot dog at games, but I'm taking $3K in travelers checks just in case.

    It's not cheap, but for 12 days with all those activities I think its a reasonable cost. It should be a lot of fun. And should it happen to snow in Chicago while I'm gone, the perceived value shall increase!
     
  3. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Day One: Thursday, November 4th, 2010 Chicago to Miami

    After about a month off work today I was forced out of bed at the innopportune hour of 6am so I could get the kids off to school and receive a subsequent ride from Mrs. BeeeJay to O Hare around 8:30am for my 10:30am flight.

    Man is it cold in the mornings in Chicago----must have been just above freezing and windy. Anyway the biggest challenge was retrieving a nerf bullet shot behind the bed while wearing my bathrobe. That was a none-too-pretty sight which involved basically dismantling the bed by the time all was said and done.

    Eventually I got the kids off to school and was dropped at ORD where I enjoyed the upgrades first class American Airlines check in and was quickly off to McD's for my traditional pre-flight Big Mac. But WAIT!!! it was too early for that menu so I had to stomach a breakfast biscuit. Oh Well. I'll Live. Or not, due to the high cholesterol.

    I sat and waited for my flight in the very sunny airport, knowing full well snow would probably fall at any minute:

    [​IMG]

    Finally before the weather could turn, my plane was at the gate:

    [​IMG]

    Boarding started early and I was on with a rush to grad my cheaply upgraded first class seat 6J. These seats are AWESOME and super fun to run the remotes. No real entertainment, but I bring my laptop so no biggie. Crazy legroom and controls for seats:

    [​IMG]

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    <embed width="600" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullscreen="true" allowNetworking="all" wmode="transparent" src="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf" flashvars="file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid781.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fyy93%2FBeeeeJay%2FMiamiandCaribbean%2FVIDEO0054.mp4">

    Got a nice view of O Hare on the way up, but none of downtown Chicago or the lake as we went south and over Indianapolis:

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    My focus shifted from the windos to the fantastic cocktail service followed:

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    and shortly thereafter to the warm nuts (thats what SHE said) and the very tasty Cheese Enchilada lunch offering with side salad and pita chips with an excellent red pepper hummus. I bypassed the warm coconut carmel cookie, but did not bypass additional vodka-soda deliveries!

    After a short fully reclined snooze for myself and my neighboring 4 year old who was the best seat-mate ever, I looked out to see: FLORIDA!

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    and then about a half hour later we were passing south beach, the cruise ships, and downtown Miami to land:

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    Upon landing the Bataan Death March from the nether-reaches of the MIA airport to baggage claim began. After what seemed like a journey into the center of the Congo, my heart grew only darker as I waited 30-40-50 minutes for the conveyer belt to present my baggage. Finally with all of us from the flight staring at each other with contempt born in impatience, yet somehow feeling like we all my end up as the cast of "Lost" waiting in purgatory for 4 years for our luggage, the belt clicked on. Ecstatic I wouldn't need to fight Sawyer for Kate's attention, I grabbed a cab for a $32 ride to south beach, which included a full dissertation on Hookers and Blow as effected in Miami by Obama's economic stimulus. It sounded like the cab driver was most stimulated by the increased availability of comely coeds previously manning long bankrupt call centers, now walking the streets.

    After slipping him $40 including an $8 tip for the effort with my two heavy bags and to fund his further research I was warmly welcomed in Encore Tower Suites invited guest style by the bellman and sweet smelling front desk girl at the Palmer House South Beach, a beautiful boutique Art Deco on Collins just across from the beach and in the heart of the action.

    Check in was quick and I was escorted to the room by the gentlemen who took my bags, only after getting 3 porn slapper cards from check in, offering various club entries and services:

    [​IMG]

    The room lights were pimp but required a rocket scientist to run, so after the bellman instructed me, I slipped him a fiver and got to work:

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    After quickly unpacking I broke in the kick-ass large shower and got cleaned up for my next trek. I was seeking a book I had just read an article about describing the corporate takeover of Budweiser by Inbev. Yeah real interesting light reading, I know.

    I started up that way towards the Lincoln Avenue pedestrian mall by about 6pm. Never even thought to take my camera for a quick bookstore trip. Something happened along the way and I never made it. I remember a Heinekein. Some sort of tapas. And in general a warm evening, the kind where an ice cold beer goes down way too easy. At some point I gave up on my book search and instead settled into the latin culture as best I could with a switchover to Coronas.

    Eventually I determined the bookstore was probably closed and I roamed the soft palates of dimly neon lit art deco buildings stumbling my way back to comfort and safety of the Palmer House South Beach. I never reached my goal of finding that book, but despite a drunken battle with the light switches, this evening, relaxation was FULLY achieved!
     
  4. YSinAppleton

    YSinAppleton Low-Roller

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    Love your report. I also enjoy cruising. Only have used Royal Caribbean though. May have to try a different line next time. Thanks for sharing your trip, enjoying the read.
     
  5. Tropicalgurl

    Tropicalgurl Newbie

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    BeeeJay

    U Rock!!! Luving your daily reports... I will be on the Epic Thanksgiving week.
    The only gambling I will be doing is the CC slot pull. I decided not to employ NCL for the week:nono:. I think my money will be more useful in the spa for the week:woohoo:. Will be purchasing a spa pass... I will be in a Studio also... Looking forward to reading more.
     
  6. sailor53

    sailor53 Tourist

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    Well this is different. The bride and I have been on a few cruises and I've always enjoyed them. This should be big fun and a break from the Vegas go..go..go.. action. Looking forward to the rest of your report!
     
  7. vegasmacker

    vegasmacker Canadian Ambassador for Sully's Bar

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    Hopefully this gets you well rested for December lol
     
    Gaggles Annual 40th Birthday Weekend
  8. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Day Two: Friday, November 5th, 2010 South Beach, Miami

    Ok what happened to this beautiful day?!?!?

    Well after a late night I was up off and on but unable to muster the strength or motivation to actually shower and leave the room until about noon when the old Homer Simpson gullet started to grumble. I spent part of the morning trying to figure out what time my cruise would be boarding as the ship was delayed, finally got that sorted this afternoon:

    "Because of strong winds, Norwegian Epic’s departure from Cozumel on Thursday, November 4 was delayed. The ship overnighted in Cozumel and departed at 8:30 am ET this morning as soon as the weather improved.

    Norwegian Epic’s arrival into Miami on Saturday, November 6 is estimated at 10 am ET instead of its regularly scheduled arrival time of 8 a.m. Because of this new arrival time, embarkation for guests sailing on the November 6 Eastern Caribbean voyage will begin at 3 pm and the ship is scheduled to set sail at 8 pm.

    Norwegian Cruise Line asks all embarking guests to delay their arrival to the Port of Miami tomorrow based on the new embarkation and departure time. We appreciate our guests understanding and cooperation."

    Luckily for me, the extremely nice and kick-ass Palmer House is allowing me a late 2pm check-out. No need for a wake-up call, I can count on the cat-calling construction workers next door to begin heckling the walk-of-shame hookers around 10am. It is literally hard to hear the TV in my room right now over the conversation outside. Good thing I've got the noise-cancelling bose headphones, they worked like a charm last night while the neighbors partied til dawn (when I assume they went to work on the construction site).

    Don't seem to see Epic anywhere on the "map" at the moment. The site says it hasn't checked in for 9 hrs+. But hey that is a lot better than Tiger Woods' yacht "Privacy":

    http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/shipdetails.aspx?MMSI=319164000


    It hasn't checked in since the last time Tiger check in with his WIFE! ;)

    So anyway after showering I headed out around noon seeking out the Burger King about 2 blocks away. I ALMOST missed the BK cause it was built in the same motif as all the other buildings and I have to say, this is the fanciest BK I've ever seen. It hadn't a limited and overpriced menu...more like a $10 menu rather than a $1 menu. I mean seriously, this place did let you do it "your way"....you order the meal and then instruct the guy who puts on the toppings from this bar right on the counter:

    [​IMG]

    It had the spicy angry onions and everything. The only downside was it was absolutely everyone in the stores first day and no one spoke English. Isn't the word "Ketchup" universal? Or at least on the day ONE training video?

    No worries, with the food prepped right in front of you its easy to get it right, and with a fancy dining veranda on a 70 degree day it was a beautiful thing.

    I pounded about 65% of this food, coincidently the same professor JNCVH's average hot chicks class grade before her visit during office hours and the inevitable "A".

    I then went in search of a book store so i could buy "His Fathers Son: An instructional guide to Gaggles from Earl Woods" and "Kingbuster: The story of how Mackers product embezzlement forced Anheiser-Busch to sell out to Inbev".

    I have to confess I walked like two miles and considered replacing reading with drinking as a hobby as I saw ZERO or in Miami, CERO bookstores/bilbiotechas and saw no one of the 10,000 people whose paths i crossed who remotely looked or sounded like they spoke english.

    Sidebar: what is the deal with thin, tan, well-dressed European men in pairs in south beach? yeah I saw like 10 hot chicks and they were Vegas-hot but the ratio was unreal. Now I have no issue with people living their lives however they want, ZERO issue with anyones choices, but I hope these fellows realize its gotta be rationed to maintain the species. South Beach needs to have at least one hetero relationship to hold the tax base. C'mon.

    Ok so back to my walk. I get to a place that says Books and Books. it was a cafe. with a rack of magazines. I left and walked another half marathon looking for a Barnes and Noble or whatever. No dice. Came back and saw a sign pointing to the back of the lot which I had just missed. Sorta like I JUST MISSED getting the delivery of these same books which came to my house about 4 hours after I left. Thanks for nuttin Amazon Free Shipping!!!

    Ok so anyway they didn't have my books and 10 waiters came into the bookstore just to use the restroom. The ladies were super nice though.

    After this debacle I decided I needed to hit CVS and buy a razor to fix up my Artis Gilmore shave. I did come across a few liquor stores and 57 tatoo parlors on the way to CVS:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Popped into the CVS where I picked up three 8-packs of diet dew cans. WTF is an 8-pack of cans? Then again the banks here say no hats or sunglasses allowed. I also got some water and sunscreen. The point of this purchase was all this crap will be coming at $6 a piece out of the minibar in my cabin if I don't take it with me. Also I am very sensitive to the bartenders on cruises not liking to refill peoples pops because they don't get tipped on it.

    About a half block later I realized that these blocks are Chicago size, the long way. I also decided I could skip my workout. It was about 6-8 blocks back to my hotel room with a case of beverages and some other crap. All while trying not to get pick pocketed by this artist who draws with his feet.

    Ok so I got all the goods back to the room, fell asleep for about 5 minutes and said "WTF!!!, I am in Miami and its 75 degrees out". I got off my ass and headed for the beach. Now what I had forgotten about was the recent infusion of Canadian investment into the south beach area. More specifically, mackers Lethbridge Fund.

    Fairly quickly I came across Macker's new South Beach Hotel:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A little known fact I read on "The Portley Fool" investment site is that Macker actually bought this hotel so he could put hidden cameras into all the beach towels:

    [​IMG]

    Ok that is enough Macker abuse. Macker you are my chosen guest in the Diamond Lounges next trip for taking all this abuse!

    Here are a few of the pics I took along my walk from 11th street thru 31st street on the beach:

    [​IMG]

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    Ok that is probably too many beach pictures, but after freezing in Chicago already this early in the fall I greatly appreciated even a 2-hour walk like this. They could have given out popsicles in ChiTown on Halloween and they wouldn't have melted.

    I decided to take the streets back from 14th and look for a sandwich I could save for later. Ended up seeing a place called La Sandwicheria just off Collins (AKA A1A Beachfront Avenue for you Vanilla Ice fans):

    [​IMG]

    The sandwiches were served on an outdoor bar by a friendly and hot chick. For $18 I got a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant with doritos and 2 Heinekein keg cans. Oh Hell Yeah that is a qualitAY meal. $4 tip for hotness.

    As I was bringing that back to the room after walking about 3 1/2 hours total for the day I came across a curious sign which caused me to chickety check my GPS to make sure I wasn't at 3131 Las Vegas Blvd:

    [​IMG]

    Hmmmm...odd resemblance don't you agree?

    Ok so back to the room for a phone call with the family after receiving a CUH-LASSSIC text from the wife (my facebook friends will recognize these). just to set it up my wife exagerates her pain a little and her cursing would make a sailor (maybe not a sailor53) blush. she isn't off the boat Irish but if you remember that crazy Irish dude from Braveheart, she is definitely a 100% blood decendant of that guy (not Mel Gibson). this guy:

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/zs8QKXtCN9w?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/zs8QKXtCN9w?fs=1&amp;hl=en_US" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>

    Ok so the text goes like this:

    "Your lucky to be gone. Up ALL night with Collin and Lauren down with the flu. They literally took turns throwing up all night. I slept for 15 minutes. I had to wash every single blanket in the house. A skunk dug a hole under the family room. You have to get bit to get rabies right? It can't come from the spray?"

    Granted this is the 4th or 5th straight year the kids have gotten the flu while I was on vacation. And apparently that skunk can smell me and is scared to come to the house when I'm home. Anywho this text gave me quite a chuckle as I walked down the beach.

    Well the plan was to workout and make it an early night to make sure I'm not puking tomorrow morning on those rough "Tomas" seas. But with my meeting with Gavin McLeod and the Iowa senator moved back to 3pm from noon I have a strong suspicion I'll be overtipping a couple of my favorite bartenders from last night. I should be alright I had a waterbed until 1999.

    I realize this is probably dragging on a bit, so I'll make the same apology I make with the ladies "Sorry about the length, and girth"
     
  9. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    That spa pass purchase is #1 on my itinerary after boarding tomorrow. Welcome to VMB and I am gonna try to set a good example of casino avoidance or is it considered EVASION :nono: if I'm on a Harrah's marketing offer? I would hate to be forced to walk the plank!
     
  10. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Day Three: Saturday, November 6th, 2010 Depart Miami on Norwegian Epic

    This will likely be the last posted update until I return from the ship. Given the cost of posting and uploading pics from the sea my obvious OCD internet addiction might end up costing me more than the cruise itself. I blame my parents for hugging me too much as a kid. :p

    I am going to maintain an ongoing detailed report in Word as I will have plenty of free time doing this thing solo. I find blowing a little time on the computer helps keep the public talking to myself to a minimum which is a good thing. I'll post the whole thing with pics and videos embedded upon my return.

    I ended up hitting a few non-club bars for a cocktails and caught the overtime loss at Boston by the Bulls last night. Great game! KG is a tool. You can tell Noah has been hitting the pipe as he didn't get in a fight with KG after tool slapped the ball out of his hands during a dead ball. That is an extremely unnecessary and inflamatory move.:grrr:

    I do love those new NBA commercials with the chinese dude from Hangover. He is funny as hell!:evillaugh

    Slept about 5 hours then somehow happen to wake up. Saw it was about 7am and decided I wanted to pop out to the beach and see the sunrise. As an added bonus I got to see my ship, Norwegian Epic coming into Miami.

    Here are some beach sunrise pics:

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    Arrival of Epic:

    [​IMG]

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    I decided I better grab some breakfast at BK but overshot on 9th street and got to see some high quality tee-shirts. I need to get that tractor one for sure, I can wear it when I go back to Nebraska. Or where it in Mandalay Bay next time P-Nut and Airball are trying to save me from "the hoes":

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Did I say yesterday how damn fancy this BK is? Sadly even the breakfast menu is quite limited. But Maura took great care of me. I did actually ask her if this store just opened and she said no. lol. She is a transfer though training all the employees. I recommend a day about ketchup and mustard.:peace:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I am starting to wonder if BK is also owned by the Apollo Investments as they seem to be cross-branding this subliminal degenerate gambler advertisement:

    [​IMG]

    Here is a video of the beach and the Epic coming in:

    <embed width="600" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullscreen="true" allowNetworking="all" wmode="transparent" src="http://static.photobucket.com/player.swf" flashvars="file=http%3A%2F%2Fvid781.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fyy93%2FBeeeeJay%2F020-1.mp4">

    I'm going back to sleep for a few hours then off to the ship. Will file the remaining reports upon my return. It will be long, probably boring, and overly detailed. I use these stories to put my kids to bed at night, if they are really bold that day. I can promise heavy drinking, mild to moderate to heavy degenerate gambling, buffet abuse of the highest order, and undoubtably numerous instances of unrestrained misbehavior tempting court action, personal liability, and if there is a god probably even a thunder bolt from the sky. :wink2: (not the norwegian sky, I'm traveling on Epic).

    Well again I guess the true measure of a good trip and trip report is a laser-like focus on fast food restaurants with pics that exist in everyone's hometown and that I can see mere blocks from my own house. Ok I live by Super Dawg and Burger King is a painfully distant and traffic-filled drive away. And they don't have a "Whopper Bar".

    So sue me for being a tasteless ******bag. :Þ At least I don't own a Fedora or any Ed Hardy shirts. On the downside I do wear sunglass inside a lot, much to JNCVH dismay, but that is due to medical reasons. Don't believe me? Seriously. Facebook buddies take a look at my oldest photo album The BEBGBBQ (Bad-Eye-Be-Gone-Bar-Bee-Que). And I do wear almost exclusively Tiger Woods clothing. Or as one client once told me in a meeting with about 10 people: "You only know those are Tiger Woods pants because he left them on the floor in your bedroom when he took them off last night". :poke: Damn that was a good burn.:cry:

    I would like to give one final shout out :wave: to the Jesse White Tumbling Team for staying, and practicing in the room above me this morning. :grrr: Mad props. I'm glad to see all my license plate sticker checks are going for a good cause!
     
  11. VegasDiva

    VegasDiva VIP Whale

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    Bon Voyage, BeeeJay Have a wonderful, restful, gambleful, fantabulous time

    Thanks for the pre-cruiseship updates and pics.....yes, even the Whopper Bar was unique :) lol @ those T-shirt pics......have seen those before, just have different cities on them :evillaugh

    Looking forward to the ramblings upon your return :) :kiss:
     
  12. Mycatspot

    Mycatspot I drink my breakfast and play in my PJ's.

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    Bon Voyage! This cold front will be gone when you return. Please enjoy your first drink aboard...there is nothing quite so good as that first sail away beverage...it means your vacation has begun. Good luck and have a great time! Meanwhile, I'm freezing my butt off and wondering if A) I still own gloves and B) if i can locate them before my son's football game starts...
     
    Cosmo Redemption Trip (Hide the Mimosas, Greg!)
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  13. sailor53

    sailor53 Tourist

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    Have a great time my friend. Cruises are awesome. Look forward to some great stories laced with buffoonery!
     
  14. Stacks O. Purple

    Stacks O. Purple Low-Roller

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    Can you keep a secret?

    Let's all just pray that he doesn't discover the fact he can charge up to $2,000 per day to his room from the casino! :ssst:
     
  15. DBear

    DBear VIP Bear

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    Like those photos along the beach of Epic coming into POM. I was on the ship in one of the starboard balcony cabins when that picture was taken. I wonder if they got all the salt rinsed away from the balconies and deck areas by the time you boarded. Those winds on the last day sure were wild and all that salt was still there on Saturday morning.
     
  16. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    Interesting that DBear was in Miami sailing two weeks ago, Beeejay sailed last week, and I will continue the VMB trend of Miami sailaways by going down this weekend. Although I won't be on Epic. My ship is Liberty of the Seas.
     
  17. DBear

    DBear VIP Bear

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    Have fun sailing Liberty OTS CK! I think Liberty is slightly bigger than Epic. I might be trying Royal Carribean for my next cruise next year...perhaps Allure OTS. Bigger is better!
     
  18. Coaster Kikky

    Coaster Kikky Tourist

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    Did you see the welcome Allure got today in Port Everglades? That ship and Oasis are so big they frighten me!! I'm wondering how I'll find Liberty. My first two cruises were on Adventure OTS and Serenade OTS. Adventure was the perfect size for me - Serenade maybe slightly on the small side. Anyway, I'm looking forward to a couple sea days, frozen drinks and watching people wipe out on the Flow Rider!
     
  19. Mycatspot

    Mycatspot I drink my breakfast and play in my PJ's.

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    My last cruise was on the Independence of the Seas, sister ship of the Liberty. We loved it! Had an aft cabin on Deck 10 and a panoramic view of the wake. The lines for the rock climbing wall were crazy, but if you just want to watch the fun, the Flow Rider is the place to be!
     
    Cosmo Redemption Trip (Hide the Mimosas, Greg!)
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  20. BackInVegas

    BackInVegas VIP Whale

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    40
    Carnival Splendor

    be thankful you were not on that ship.
     
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