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Monday, July 2, 2012


Aren't vacations lovely? The only problem is that you work your fanny off to be out of the office then on your return you're greeted by a mountain of email, phone messages and mail... So, if you've been wondering where in the world I was, that's the answer. Getting ready to go on vacation. Then, a week on the Freedom of the Seas with my family. Twelve of us. And, yes, we had an incredible time! Here's a look at our cruise...
Eldest brother, John P, met us at our hotel in Orlando.  He's on the right with other brother John - John M and Mom in the middle.
Set sail!  Good thing Connie packed our jackets!!!

We were hoping the rest of the cruise didn't look like this...

Ah, back from dinner the first night to find a towel pet.  Thanks Errol!!

 When the dining room is a LONG walk away, one gets creative.  Above you see the hot coffee cup being used to warm butter and below you see Connie using the non-business end of his fork to eat his yogurt.

Approaching Haiti - and Royal Caribbean's "private island," Labadee.

There's Labadee.  We actually got off the ship and found beach chairs under an almond tree.  RC has done a magnificent job of sprucing up their part of the island.

 Our favorite artwork on board was actually at the end of our corridor.  Overall, we were very disappointed with the artwork.  RC typically has wonderful things on display.  But, not on Freedom of the Seas.  The cranks work to move the cat and the elephant up and down.

This is as close as we got to land from the time we left Labadee until we arrived back in Cape Canaveral.  We're not shoppers and didn't sign up for any shore excursions and I had a huge project to work on for the office.  The good news was that I could look up from my laptop and see the ocean!

There was a LOT to do on board.  This is the miniature golf course.  We won't discuss how many strokes I lost by.  Suffice to say it was ugly.

Here's the H2O zone.  It's designed for kids.  The big kids put their suits on and ran through the water and had a grand time.

Yup.  You're right.  That's Connie on a boogie board on the flow rider.  He had a fantastic time!

Our favorite hangout on the ship.  The wine bar.  Shocking, I know.

We were all dressed up for the island dinner.  Prior to dinner there was a wine-tasting.  We took my nephew, Tom, niece, Samantha and her hubby, Chris.  They all learned a LOT.  We did too. 

One of the things Singh stressed was that wine is best with food.  At each wine tasting we had a lovely plate of food to enjoy with the wine.  He had us try foods that went well and some that didn't do so well.  His tips on what to drink with what and how the flavors vary were fantastic.

Our first tasting was moderately priced wines.  The second was dessert wines and ports.  And, the third was more high-end wines.  Here you have a sauvignon blanc, two chardonnays and two cabernet sauvignons from our first tasting.

Singh - not his real name but he said it's easier for folks to remember.  This man has forgotten more about wine that most people know.  I only wish he was here in Indy.  No, I take that back.  I'd be at a wine tasting every week and that'd be too expensive!

The food plate for our last tasting.

Our last tasting.  An unoaked Chardonnay, an oaked Chardonnay (both from Mer Soleil,) a Pinot Noir from La Crema (we LOVE that wine!!) and two Cabernet Sauvignons.

Rafael doing the last tasting.  Another guy who's forgotten more than most folks know about wine.

I finally got smart and started taking notes...

My niece and her hubby brought his daughter, Brooke, along.   We got to babysit for her one evening.  I discovered that she loves the hunt for the hidden items game called GardenScapes.  We spent a LOT of time playing that.  My sister-in-law, Pam, is downloading it so she can play it with Brooke.

We asked Errol to unlock the sliders between all of our balconies.  It was rather like being back in the sorority house except for the fact that there were guys who could see in your sliding glass door!  We all just wandered back and forth.

Freedom of the Seas has two fantastic hot tubs cantilevered 11 decks above the water.  FUN!

You knew I'd get around to the food, didn't you?  It was fabulous.  How they serve the number of meals they serve and have such great food is beyond me.  Here's Chef Eric, the executive chef on the ship.  If you bought one of their cookbooks, you got a galley tour.  I bought both and would highly recommed them to anyone.  We had many of the dishes in the cookbook.  Some of our favorites were a smoked fish tapenade, a braised lamb shank and a mahi-mahi tempura.

Here's a photo of the galley.  It was HUGE! 

Just one of the fruit/vegetable carvings.  Amazing.

Our waitress, Coleen.  She was the best we've ever had.  By the end of the first evening she knew all of our first names.  Not only did we change seats at the table every night and she still knew our names but when she saw us at breakfast or lunch in the Windjammer Cafe she knew our names.  Her hubby is a photographer on the ship.  They've been doing this for seven years and want to do three more then retire to the Philippines and start a small business.  She could work at any restaurant in the world and put the waiters/waitresses to shame!

So, that's the tour.  Now, I'm back to cooking...  But, first, it's off to the grocery store or dinner will be cheese and crackers


Lizzy said...

Welcome home, Kate and Connie!!! Wow, what a fun vacation...and of course, you found a wine tasting! Thanks for sharing your adventures :)

Chef Dennis said...

I have never taken a cruise, thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, it looks like you had an incredible time and enjoyed some delicious meals!