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One of the many pools on deck 12 (of 15 total) on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Image by Bonnie Fink.

One of the many pools on deck 12 (of 15 total) on Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas. Image by Bonnie Fink.

Yesterday, we boarded Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We're on board for a 14 day Atlantic Crossing with a destination of Southampton, England. From there we'll stay on board for another 14 days as we tour the Mediterranean with stops in Barcelona, Gibraltar, Rome, and a few others. We'll post more on that later.

For now, we thought it might be fun to post a few images of the ship. We're docked in Nassau, Bahamas at the moment. Well, to be truthful, we just left the Bahamas about fifteen minutes ago. In the gallery below, you'll first see a few pictures of Fort Larderdale. Then you'll see the ship with a few images of Nassau mixed in. All of these images were shot with our phones. (read more...)

Old water wheel at Disney's Port Orleans Resort. This waterwheel sits at the food court near the main lobby. Image by Don Fink.

Old water wheel at Disney's Port Orleans Resort. This waterwheel sits at the food court near the main lobby. Image by Don Fink.

Today we started another vacation. And as with many of our vacations, we're spending the night at one of our favorite Disney hotels, Disney's Port Orleans, Riverside. We've stayed at this hotel many times before and even posted a story about it on Mouseplanet.com here.

Today, our check in at Disney's Port Orleans is worth noting. Disney has a process where you can electronically check in without visiting the front desk, and today it worked that way for us. For our check in, we received a text message from Disney telling us that our room was ready, and giving us our room number. We  already had a Magic Band associated with our account, and when the room was made ready it was associated with that room number. All we had to do was make our way to the room and walk in. No stopping by the front desk, no nothing. Tomorrow when we leave, we'll just get up, load our stuff in the car, and leave. Easy Peasy. (read more...)

Deck 15 is where the outdoor action is aboard the Allure of the Seas. There are two pools with an open canyon looking down into Central park on Deck 8. Image by Donald Fink

Deck 15 is where the outdoor action is aboard the Allure of the Seas. There are two pools in this area with an open canyon looking down into Central park on Deck 8. Image by Donald Fink

We’re in the Caribbean aboard the Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas. This is the biggest ship we’ve sailed, and probably the largest cruise ship afloat. This week, we’re traveling from the Fort Lauderdale Port Everglades, to Haiti, jamaica, Cozumel, and back. We’ll have three “sea days”.

It’s been a couple of years since we’ve been aboard a Royal Caribbean ship, and we’ve almost forgotten how different it is compared to some of the other cruise lines we’ve tried. The service is great and the ship is full of Wow factor.

Join us again in the next few days and we’ll have a complete description of this great ship with as many pictures as we think you can stand.

There are four pools aboard the Caribbean Princess. All are on Deck Fifteen, as are most of the outdoor activities.

There are four pools aboard the Caribbean Princess. All are on Deck Fifteen, as are most of the outdoor activities.

Last week we made a quick five day Caribbean cruise on the Princess's "Caribbean Princess". We left Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, November 29th and sailed to Nassau in the Bahamas. From there we made a stop at Princess Cays located about fifty miles east of Nassau, then back to Fort Lauderdale. There were two "at sea" days on this cruise. (read more...)

Norwegian Epic docked in St. Marten. Image by Donald Fink

Norwegian Epic docked in St. Marten. Image by Donald Fink

Over the years, we've made eleven cruises on various ships and cruise lines. From that experience we've always maintained that “we never met a cruise ship we didn't like”. We've been on Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, and lately our last three cruises were on various Norwegian Cruise Line ships, the latest being the Norwegian Epic. The Epic is the largest ship we've sailed on, but it's a far cry from the best, at least in our estimation.

This last adventure was an Atlantic crossing. As you may know, many of the ships will switch from a European base to a Caribbean base throughout the year. They typically cruise the Mediterranean or Baltic in the summer, for example, then switch to the Caribbean in the winter. Cruise lines, of course, don't like to drive around in empty ships, so they sell crossings when these ships leave one market for another. This year we caught the Epic as it left Barcelona and made its way to Miami to begin the winter season in the Caribbean. (read more...)