Monday, September 15, 2014

Sandals Royal Bahamian...part 2!

After having our delicious homemade breads, we moved along to the Windsor section of the resort.  Here we had a chance to look at some more of the room categories.  For those of you not familiar with how Sandals works, there are three choices of service.   The rooms could all look similar, but it's comes down to the service and the extra inclusions. You have your entry level, which includes everything you would expect!  Then there is Club Sandals.  Just a bit more - special check in, free wifi, room service, top-shelf liquor in the room.  Little perks like that and more.  Then go a bit further for Butler Service!  Now I know what you're thinking...we all think it - do I need a Butler?  Does anyone NEED a Butler?  But after seeing the Butlers and hearing how special they make the guests feel, I think everyone deserves that Butler!  It's YOUR vacation of a lifetime remember??? But seriously - your check in process is done in your room.  Your butler will have snacks for you in your room after you long, hard day at the pool or beach.  And no more looking for that perfect chair by the pool or the beach, just ask your Butler to set it up for you, they will ensure it is ready for you when you arrive!  You will have a cell phone to contact them any time!  Yup, Butler service all the way!

These are some pictures of some of the different rooms in the Windsor rooms.

This is the Windsor Honeymoon Hideaway Swim Up Crystal Lagoon Zen Butler Suite

Here is your Butler Set up - all of your instructions and your cell phone to contact your Butler.

After our quick trip in and out of the rooms....we had a tour through some of the restaurants.  We had a quick sampling of some of the food, which was a nice treat!

Every single person we met on staff could not have been more pleasant, or more fun! This gentleman worked at the pub - just part of his every night routine!

We had a little orientation about Sandals and their pairing with Beringer wines.

Before long, it was time to move on to lunch....and lunch would be on what I would feel is the highlight of Sandals Royal Bahamian.  They have their own offshore private island!  And that will be coming up next!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sandals & Beaches.....whew!

Ok...time to take a breath!  So, by now you all know what I love to do - travel.  And you know that as much as I love to travel, I also love to make sure that everyone else who loves to travel can also take the most amazing vacations too!  That's pretty much why I started this business, Getaways Done Your Way!  To help to customize unique vacations to make each vacation you want to take a trip of a lifetime!  I truly believe EVERY vacation should feel just like that....that it is AMAZING!  Well, the great thing about this is that the places that I want to take you to have these fantastic resorts, cruise lines, and tour operators who truly believe that in order to best explain a place to a client you have to see it first hand. Sure, you can read about a country, look at a resort on line, and talk to people who have been there...but until you experience at least some of the quality and the properties that are offered, it's not quite the same is it?

And this is just what the travel business calls FAMs...familiarization trips.  I am 100% honest in telling you that it is a working trip, but I am also telling you that it is a working trip that I love in every possible way!  Not everyone does.  After spending 3 days with nearly 200 travel agents, getting probably about 12 hours of sleep total during that three days, with the exception of short naps on the plane rides; walking and walking, extreme seemed that some of the agents had enough.  They felt that reading and looking online was quite enough for them.  But for me - I want to talk to the employees, I want to see the room categories, and I want to see if those pictures in the brochures and online are true to what the REAL resort actually looks like! you go!

These next couple of blog posts will be a bit different from my typical trip reviews...I'll go into a general overview of where we went and the differences of each of the properties this time instead of a detailed trip report.  

Our first stop was Sandals Royal Bahamian - the great thing about this resort is that it is just minutes from the airport!  

When you enter the property, the common areas are quite elegant!

First we went to the newest section, the Balmoral Building.  The rooms here were nice, and had a gorgeous view!

And how about this view while you work out on the treadmill?

The pool on this side of the resort is the "quiet" pool and it was very nice.  

Every day they have fresh baked breads, that are made in this little bread hut!

We had some samples, I had coconut bread!  Like bread with a little Easter egg inside!  YUM!

The water sports are all included here at Sandals - everything, including scuba!  Now, if you dive, you know what a great savings that is!  You can even get certified here on different levels (resort certified through the full course - of course the certification is for a fee) 

Next up, the other half of the resort, and the best feature......but right now - time to catch up on some much needed sleep!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Our Final Stop, a morning in NYC before heading home!

So - our last night ended and really, the final morning is always uneventful. I mentioned we decided to carry off our own luggage. It's just so much easier! We went to the buffet for breakfast and then went back to the cabin to pick up the luggage and just walk on off the ship. Always just so sad!

We had train tickets for around 2:00 pm, and it was early, around 9:00 or so. So, we went to Penn Station and found out we could store our bags for a really inexpensive rate! I think for 3 suitcases and 2 of our carry on bags it was like $30? Maybe less, maybe more. I know it was cheap and we didn't have to walk around the city with luggage or even backpacks!

So, off to Time's Square we went! I may have mentioned this, but Megan is a NYC nut! She loves everything about the city. She wants to live there when she's old enough. She wants to go to college there and she can navigate the subway as if she's been living there her entire life!

So - here we are waiting to get into Toys R Us....we played tourist for a day!

You can see how much Megan loves the city, and well, how much Alex just doesn't care so much!

 But put him in a toy store, and he's pretty happy!

Oh no, not the scary dinosaur!

And the Hulk has her now!

Is this even necessary?

After Toys R Us, we tried to get to the BIG comic book store, which I can't remember the name of right now, but wouldn't you know it wasn't opened yet! It was only 11:30 and it didn't open until 12:00! What a disappointment! 

So we walked to Bryant Park and hung out for a bit. 

Then we made our way back through Time's Square, grabbed lunch and took the subway to the train station to catch our train home....

Our trip had come to an end....I can say that while we were all a bit hesitant and not sure how we'd like the Breakaway after not loving the Epic as much as we wanted to last year, we could not have had a more amazing time! There will always be little things that are not amazing, but this was a wonderful trip! We prepared for it in the short time we had before going. We set our expectations and this trip went far beyond them, and Bermuda was way more than we could have imagined!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Our last day on the Breakaway!

Our cruise was winding down.  Here we are, our last day on board. I got up early and went out to my usual spot on deck. Grabbed a "to go" breakfast from the Uptown Cafe and went back to my chair to eat it. Some sort of egg breakfast sandwich I think. And I read. I met a lovely group of people who were sitting next to me and we spent a good deal of time talking about their time on the ship and what they had done and got to know one another. 

My goal for the day was to do the ropes course and I really wanted to do that big slide that has the drop! When the kids showed up, Megan and I went off to do the slide, and wouldn't you know it was closed! I knew I should have done it earlier in the week! I'm not sure why it was closed - it didn't seem windy or anything. So, I never got to do it. Bummer!

But I was determined to do the ropes course! And we know, I'm not the picture of fitness! So my kids thought there was NO way in the world their mother could do it! I was going to prove them wrong. How hard could it be after all - adults of all ages and shapes were up there! I generally don't have a fear of heights for the most part, so off we went!

I'll admit, once up there and getting ready to step out onto that tiny little bit of metal, I felt like changing my mind. But once I started walking around, I got my footing and it was a lot of fun! I didn't do the more challenging parts and stuck mainly to the stable metal parts, but I was proud to say I did it! And I did go out on the plank! Freaked me out a bit - I did look down...and sure you're harnessed in, but you know - no one is really watching up there and something can always go wrong! That's the mom in me I guess!

I think the picture you take on the plank, by pulling the rope is sort of lame because the perspective doesn't really show "you" over the water....and it's a horrible picture - but it's my proof that I was there!  You see how my foot is on that white square, well see in the picture of the "standard" person on the picture how far out over the water I really was!  Freaky!

And here are the kids on the zip line 

Oh my gosh...I almost totally forgot! Megan and I got a mother - daughter massage! The Breakaway is one of the only places I've ever seen a massage offered for someone as young as 12 years old. They have a "teen" menu of spa services and some are available for pre-teens, and the mother/daughter massage was one of the items available. She was SO excited for her first massage! It was a really nice end to a fantastic week!

I'll say, true to form as on my past NCL sailing, they are a bit over the top with the sales bit with the spa services. That just bugs me to no end. When I get a massage especially, I really don't need to end the relaxation trying to justify why I really don't need to purchase an endless supply of oils, lotions, potions and whatever not at over inflated costs. Not to mention being told that my skin, my muscles etc are in such bad shape that without their products, I could have serious problems. But we got out without buying anything...the massage was really pretty good and Megan loved the experience!

We decided to go to Moderno for dinner again. Since we had the Ultimate Dining Plan, we definitely didn't want to go to one of the Main Dining Room's and there was very limited availability anywhere. We began looking for where we'd eat starting Wednesday night and Moderno and Teppanyaki were the only restaurants with openings for Saturday night. I can't say how glad I was that we made our reservations for the other nights before we boarded! 

Gotta always love Spongebob!

Once again we thoroughly enjoyed our meal....we had an amazing cruise - we loved Bermuda and were definitely not quite ready to go home!

It was a relaxing day, and I'm sure somewhere along the line I went back to the cabin and did the dreaded packing! We were doing self walk off the next morning, so I didn't feel rushed to get the luggage out in the hall. 

I have a few things left to post on our overall trip, as well as our day in NYC before going home!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fireworks on the Breakaway and the 80s!

So, tonight was the fireworks! Pretty much the theme of the night was the "80s" Pretty fun if you're my age! So, around 10:30 up at Spice H20 they started the Awesome 80s Party. Basically a big 80s dance party with videos on the screen and the crew all decked out in 80s clothing. I'm not usually one who is much into the deck parties, but what the heck - fireworks were coming up, and 80s music - Megan and I went up and joined in the fun and really, we had a great time! 

We noticed about 10 minutes or so before the fireworks the kids from the teen club started to filter into the crowd. We saw Alex come in with a bunch of friends. He didn't see us, and that was probably just as well. He was having a good time with his new friends. They hung around through the fireworks and left shortly after.

Megan and I hung around for a pretty long time after the fireworks, during the 80s party and had a really good time. It was a concert like atmosphere. I have to say, it was a great time after leaving Bermuda. I loved the way they combined the whole event!

But tomorrow would be our last day, a sea day and always a day I have such mixed feelings during! The day of packing up and heading home.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Golfing in golf that is!

After our catamaran trip in the morning we still had a few hours before we'd set sail again, so we went back to the ship for lunch and then set out for some shopping and mini golf! When in Bermuda....right? Our original plan was to go to the beach right by the ship, but after spending the morning in the water, we decided to just get changed and skip the beach. 

And yes, if you read my European posts, you know that Alex had an issue with sunglasses! And not always his fault! So, we're on our last day in Bermuda and we're standing by the stairs getting ready to walk down to exit the ship and I'm not kidding the arm thing that goes over your ear - whatever you call it, on glasses just falls right off of his glasses! It was if it just jumped right off! No way right! So if you notice carefully in the next pictures, he's wearing glasses with no earpiece thing on one side! So yes, next stop in for glasses! But first....

For those not aware, right at the dockyard there's a beautiful mini golf course called Fun Golf! The holes are based on some of the most famous golf courses in Scotland, Bermuda and the US. And the setting with the ocean right behind you is amazing! It was perfect for us with just a few hours left before setting sail for NYC. 

Does it get any better than this view?  I really don't think so!

After golf, we checked out some of the shops, had a snow cone and yes, got Alex a new pair of sunglasses. I think it's become a vacation tradition now! And then we went to board the ship one last time before getting ready to set sail...

Just like in England...Bermuda is a British country after all!

The crew were singing as we walked back on board....we got the red carpet treatment for sure! Actually, there really was a red carpet...I just don't have a picture of it!

Some pictures as we start to leave....

We had dinner at Taste....not a huge fan of the main dining areas on the NCL ships so far. I don't think the variety of the food is great and the service has been below average. We had this experience last year when sailing on the Epic and we wanted to give it another try here and we had the same experience again tonight. This really reinforced just how glad we were that we decided to purchase the Ultimate Dining Plan! 

Up next - the 80s party and fireworks!