Sail Date: July 2005
We sailed  Majesty last year for the first time with a 100% rating from us.  We decided to go back with the Freedom, it has everything.  However,  some of the excursions are a complete rip off.  DO NOT TAKE the Hell, shopping, Turtle ... Read More
We sailed  Majesty last year for the first time with a 100% rating from us.  We decided to go back with the Freedom, it has everything.  However,  some of the excursions are a complete rip off.  DO NOT TAKE the Hell, shopping, Turtle farm and Sting ray trip in Grand Caymen.  It is HELL, you are held prisoner as if on a route march and you can not shop or eat.The food was well below average on the fine dining ot seated service.  The first two nights the food was cold, bland with little choice.  Twice on the first formal night my wife asked for a steak cooked rare.  Twice it came back medium.  The waiters response was well, that's how it is.  I spoke with the head waiter.  Wait it gets better.  This waiter, then traced down our cabin number and came to our state room asking to come in.  Talk about a scary and dangerous situation for a female on her own, which could happenWe spoke to guest service, the usual, write it down and we will get back to you.  Did they ?  NO, not once during the cruise or since our return.   The general impression I got from a number of staff was they were not really interested.  This is a shame because many went out of there way to entertain.  The Cruise director Richard was outstanding.  Pool bar staff great.  Wind Jammer for dining excellent.  Wave runner etc was first class.  Pools and splash zone for kids outstanding.    There are enought negatives on our experience to make us to a complete U-turn on last year and not re-book.  In particular because of the poor quailty of the seated dining with we enjoy and really want our children to experience this kind of service, food and table manors.  We feel it is good for them.  We lost all that.  And the guy coming to out room was potentially dangerous,  Coupled with no respince.  Royal C handled it badly Read Less
Sail Date: April 2006
Freedom of the Seas  Maiden Voyage 04/25/06-04/26/06  Hamburg to Oslo Royal Caribbean International invited me to the first sailing of the Freedom of the Seas from Hamburg to Oslo on 04/25/06  04/26/06. While this was not the official ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas  Maiden Voyage 04/25/06-04/26/06  Hamburg to Oslo Royal Caribbean International invited me to the first sailing of the Freedom of the Seas from Hamburg to Oslo on 04/25/06  04/26/06. While this was not the official maiden Voyage as the ship will be christened on 05/12/06 in New York it was indeed the real maiden Voyage as it was the very first time Freedom of the Seas set sail with passengers onboard. The Freedom of the Seas arrived from the shipyard in Turku, Finland at Hamburg on 04/17/06. At this time she was to be drydocked at Bloom & Voss shipyard Dock Elbe 17 for some last things to be done. Next to some final repairs and finishings she got her final paint done while in there. On Saturday 04/22/06 Freedom of the Seas left the dry dock at 11:00pm. She sailed out on the River Elbe for some Sea trials. After getting mixed information on the Internet about when Freedom of the Seas will be back in Hamburg I decided to arrive in Hamburg earlier then planned. Just a couple of minutes after I arrived at the Hamburg dockside Freedom of the Seas got visible in the dust. It was a great moment as it was the first time I saw the biggest cruise ship on earth. It was a great sight to see her passing by on her way to the cruise terminal. Many people watched this scene though many had been surprised as most thought she wouldn´t be back until Monday morning. The Freedom of the Seas sailed straight to the Cruise terminal to dock there. In front of the Hamburg Cruise Center a stage and a large video wall had been already set up as well as many tents with food and beverages. A big party is planned for Monday. On this sunny Sunday many people used the opportunity to get a view of the new ship and soon the area around the Hamburg Cruise Center was crowded. Of course nobody was allowed near the ship and to get to the cruise terminal you had to pass several security check-points. Not for us today as we are on the list for Tuesday only. I spent the two nights until the cruise at the Hotel Hafen Hamburg from where I had great views of the Hamburg Harbour and the now empty dock Elbe 17 where Freedom of the Seas sat for a week to be finished. On Monday morning the party at the Cruise terminal started at 07:00am. There was a life report in the TV about the Freedom of the Seas. After having some breakfast I arrived at the cruise terminal. At this early time not too many people had found their way here, especially as the weather wasn´t that good. It was cold and foggy. Anyway later in the day it brightened up and the sun came out. Weather got warm and sunny. A local radio station had performances on the stage throughout the day and there has been life music and reports from the ship too. TV had several reports throughout the day too. There was a tent with TA´s advertising cruises too and RCCL threw tons of their brochures out to the people. It got really crowded and all the people have been in an aaawwwhhhhhh. As the weather improved so much I decided to do a harbour cruise which took me out to the Freedom of course too. In the evening the party kept going and the highlight was a big firework above the Freedom of the Seas. It was the real highlight of the day and a great sight. A couple of hours and I will board the Freedom. On Tuesday 04/25/06 the alarm clock got off early to not miss the ship. I arrived at the Terminal around 07:30am. Check-in was just about to start though boarding didn´t start for another 45 minutes. Once onboard it was announced that cabins wouldn´t be ready until 11:00am. Anyway I proceeded to my cabin and dropped off my luggage. As the cabin stewards were still preparing the cabins this was the perfect time to explore the ship and get a view of some cabins that would not be open for viewing later. All in all this gave me the chance to get pics from 23 different cabins. At 10:00am sharp the Freedom set sail towards Oslo. Onboard about 600 invited Crown & Anchor members Platinum and above. A few celebrities and about 500 workers from the shipyard and other contractors to do some final works. Royal Caribbean has been very generous with this invitation. Not only the cruise was for free but they also included all food and beverages. It was open bar for everybody. Even things like Ben & Jerry´s, speciality coffee´s and the Internet have been for free. Only place to spend money onboard the casino and the shops. Of course most of the day was spent with exploring every part of the ship and there was a tight schedule to follow too. Royal Caribbean had set up an Ice Show, a Crown & Anchor Cocktail Party, Parade on the Royal Promenade, Show in the Theatre and of course Dinner in the Dining Room. The Ice Show was simply amazing and incredible. I would rate it among the best shows I´ve seen on a ship. Especially one scene was impressing where an actress changed her costume during one scene at least 10-15 times on the open ice. The show in the Theatre was good but nothing to write too much about. It was the usual Broadway musical type show like we all have seen on many ships. I had not seen a parade so far as this was my first time on such a big ship (Radiance class my biggest so far). It was nice too but I wasn´t too impressed by this either. Nothing I really need. A few facts about Freedom of the Seas: Occupancy: 4324 Full guest Occupancy 3634 Double Guest Occupancy 1400 Crew members on board Staterooms: 1817 Total 1084 Oceanview 842 Balcony Cabins 733 Inside Cabins 172 Promenade View cabins 1 Presidential Suite for a max of 14 guests on 1215 Sqft. 32 Handicapped rooms 30 Lifeboats with a capacity of 150 each 78 Life rafts Capacity of venues onboard: 2143 Dining Room 100 Portofino 104 Chops Grille 224 Jade 84 Johnny Rockets 500 Windjammer 335 Viking Crown Lounge 112 Schooner Bar 1281 Arcadia Theatre 218 The Crypt 894 Studio B 447 Casino 45 Skylight Chapel 368 Conference Center 222 Adventure Ocean Ship´s statistics: 158000 GRT Length: 1112 ft. / 339 m Width: 184 ft. / 56 m Draft: 28ft. / 8,5 m Cruising Speed: 21,6 Knots There are several amazing features on the Freedom of the Seas. Some of them are a first in the cruise industry others have been on ships already, especially on Voyager class. Though I´ve not been on a Voyager class so far, so many of them have been new to me. Please not that all my comments are based on my cruise experience so far on Radiance class and Vision class ships and my comparisons are made to them and not to Voyager class. Deck 2: On this deck you can find the Conference Center. Unfortunately I have not been able to make any pics here as they were in use. I think they did some plannings in there because while walking past one of the rooms I could get a quick glimpse in one of them with large deck plan print outs on the wall saying Genesis class. Deck 3: On deck 3 the main entrance to the Arcadia Theatre can be found. The Theatre is nice set up and you have a pretty good view from everywhere. From here you can also enter the lower level of the Nightclub the Crypt. Here the lower level has the Dance Floor. From the aft. Centrum area you can enter the Studio B / Ice rink through the Karaoke Bar On Air Club. To me it was truly amazing to have the Ice rink onboard a ship and see this fantastic Ice Show. In the Centrum area you can find the RCTV, where you can watch the crew programming all the TV channels and doing the video stuff. This is also the place for the Art Gallery. Towards the back you enter the Leonardo´s Dining Room. This was during our cruise the only used level of the dining room for Dinner the first day and Lunch on the second day. It was one seating and find yourself a table. Deck 4: On deck four you find the second level of the Dining Room Isaac Dining Room. The Centrum area features the Bolero´s Bar. Right next to the Bolero´s is the Photo Shop and Gallery located. The Photo Gallery has direct access through a stairway to the Royal Promenade. There are computer stations set up where you can use your seapass card to review and order portraits taken of you. These have not been in use but I assume that whenever you get some portraits taken they link those to your seapass and won´t print them unless you order them at one of those digital stations. If it is like this I´d say good idea as not so many pics will be wasted. Hopefully this would make the pics a little cheaper too. I know not likely. The casino takes a good portion of the deck and has lot´s of slot machines and table games. Again there are stairs to the Royal promenade. Walking towards the front of the ship you find the Schooner Bar and the upper level of The Crypt as well as the upper level of the Arcadia Theatre. Deck 5: In the back you have the upper level of the Dining Room Galileo Dining Room. The aft. Centrum area hostess the Guest Relations Desk and the Explorations desk on one Side and the Champagne Bar on the other side. From here you enter the amazing Royal promenade. I´ve never seen something like this. It gives you the feeling of going out to town with the shops, street cafes, Bars, Ice cream Shop, etc. With the many shops, it´s length and 4 stories height it is just like being in a mall. Towards the front you find the Pharao´s Palace Lounge and the Connoisseur Club (Cigar Lounge). Deck 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: These decks are almost only cabin decks. With the Business Center (Deck 6), the Library (Deck 7), Royal Caribbean online (Deck 8) and the Concierge Club (Deck 10). The cabins are comparable to the cabins most of us know on other ships in the fleet. Things to mention about the cabins are that all showers have the round shaped doors instead of the shower curtains. I appreciated this very much as it gives you more room in the shower without the curtain sticking to you and having the bathroom floor flooded. Another thing to mention is the new bedding. There are nine inch spring mattresses with 2 inch thick micro fiber pillow tops. 220-thread-count long-staple cotton-blend sheets. Duvet with cotton-blend sheets. Colored bed scarves at the end of the beds. The beds are very comfortable! One last thing about Balconies. The balcony dividers are sliding doors. They are locked and I don´t know if it will be allowed to open them but it is technically possible and a triangular shaped key would be needed to open them. On Deck 6 there are two special cabins to mention. Presidential Suite  #6414 This suite sleeps up to 14 people. It has a large master bedroom with two beds a spacious area with a comfortable chair, closets, vanity area and a bathroom like in a GS with bathtub. This bedroom has direct access to the balcony and there is a small hallway to reach the Living room and the other bedrooms. The second bedroom sleeping two people is a lot smaller with a bathroom like the first one and direct access to the Living room and the balcony. The third and fourth bedrooms sleep four people each with upper bunks. These are inside rooms and with four people in them very tight. Both have a bathroom like standard rooms with a shower. There is a small hallway with vanity for these rooms and closets. The living room has a sofa sleeping the last two people if fully occupied and a dining table. With 14 people in there I would say the living room is way crowded. The balcony is very large and has a huge hot tub. However it´s only half way covered and the not covered part is not private as the balconies from above look down on this part. Also the balconies of the cabins next to the Suite can -while standing at the railing- oversee the dividers and look onto the Presidential Suites balcony. In front of the Balcony there is a huge steel platform and at the end of the ship there is some steel superstructure. It´s an amazing suite of course but I can´t imagine staying there with 14 people in it. With 8 People it would be OK but not a single more for me. The second Sweet on deck 6 to mention is the Ben & Jerry´s Sweet (Cabin 6305 Promenade View). No this Is not a Joke and I´m not spelling wrong. This cabin has two cows from the Ben & Jerry´s display right in front of their Promenade window and as the guests in this room have to look at the cows butts they receive free Ben & Jerry´s Ice cream during the cruise. All cabins have quite good storage space. The JS have a true walk-in closet that is a real separate room with a regular door (like the bathroom door). All cabins have fridges. The one in my cabin seemed to be pretty cold. The safes are in the closets and are the kind to be operated with a four digit code. I couldn´t enter the Concierge Lounge on Deck 10 as it was not in use yet. Deck 11: At the aft. of the ship Chops Grille, Portofino, Jade and Windjammer are located. The Windjammer is set up with food Islands to avoid the long lines like on the Radiance class ships. I was a little surprised about the fact that the Windjammer only holds 500 people on a ship this big. I guess it will get quite crowded when the ship is full. There is the new H2O Zone onboard which is a completely from the Main and Sports Pool separated area on the pool deck. It´s designated to families and has lot´s of water spray grounds, water falls and a family swimming pool. Anyway, as it´s often discussed all areas in this H2O Zone, including the wading pool areas are strictly for potty trained children and no diapers / swim diapers are allowed. This is according to signs at the pool. In this area there will be a bar with healthy fruit drinks named Squeeze. This was not completed yet. Next to this area there are two pools, separated by a wall from the H2O Zone. These are the Main Pool and the Sports Pool. There is a Pool bar of course and one deck up the Sky Bar. To me it seemed because of the separation to the H2O Zone the Main Pool area is not too spacious. Towards the front the loungers are set up on several levels like a terrace. This gives everybody a nice view of the pools. In this area there is a Ice cream machine too. Going further forward one reaches the Solarium which is an open air pool with a quieter atmosphere and it´s a little more enclosed while still open air. Here are those two overhanging Whirlpools. They are covered with a roof and enclosed with glass, though they are not totally inside. The Solarium poll was not filed on this cruise and still some work was going on in this area. The pool as some seats at one end under a bridge overspanning the pool. I´m not sure if this is going to be a swim up bar. It was said so but on the other side there was no bar like set up so far. Of course there is a Solarium bar too. Stepping further forward you reach the shipshape center. Right at the entrance you are facing the boxing equipment and the boxing ring. Towards the large front windows there are all the treadmills. This area has a men´s and woman´s changing room with sauna and steam room. There is a direct connection to the Day Spa which is above the Shipshape Center. Deck 12: Deck 12 features next to the Jogging track and many loungers the Adventure Ocean area. You can find some pics in the Phototour. The Area was not in business yet and some work was still going on there. Of course Johnny Rockets is located here too, but it wasn´t open yet too. Deck 13: In the front you can find the St. Tropez deck on deck 13. But the main attraction here is the Sports Deck. Here you can find a full size Basketball court, Mini golf, a Golf simulator and of course the biggest Rock climbing wall on the high seas. This can only be topped by the Flowrider. A five foot wave is created by 35000 gallons of water rushing through at 30mph. It was spectacular to watch the surfers riding the wave. For your refreshment there is the wipe out bar. Deck 14: Here you can find another signature spot on Royal Caribbean ships, the Viking Crown lounge. The main lounge up here with a small stage and a dance floor is the Olive or Twist. There are two smaller rooms the Cloud Nine and Seven hearts game room. There is also the Diamond Club a nice private lounge overseeing the ocean for all Diamond Crown and Anchor members. Definitely the nicer spot than the Concierge lounge. Deck 15: This deck is only accessible from the Viking Crown lounge and hosts the Skylight chapel. As you can see from my description I was amazed by this gorgeous ship and I felt very lucky to be part of this maiden voyage. I would have missed something if I wouldn´t have seen this ship, though I´m not sure if I would like to sail on the ship. I´m a little concerned how the ship will feel when full. On this cruise we had maybe around 1000 guests onboard probably less than that. Even then on the last day most seats in the bars and lounges have been occupied while waiting for debarkation. What will happen when 3-4 times more people are onboard? Another thing that I missed was the ship feeling and the view of the Ocean. On Vision and Radiance class you have these huge glass walls with great ocean views from soo many spots. We had to leave the Freedom in Oslo on 04/26/06 after a just too short time again. We arrived in Oslo around 02:00pm. Unfortunately the weather was not too good so we couldn´t enjoy the sailing into Oslo like it could have been. Anyway on the second day of the cruise we had some more time to enjoy the ship. From 11:30am lunch was served in the Dining Room in open seating again. Debarkation went painless and RCCL had set up busses to bring us to the train station. From there it was a 20 minute train ride to the Airport. I hope I have covered most important details, anyway I´m happy to answer any questions you may have. See my pics and contact information at http://www.gwall.de Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS - NAMING CEREMONY On May 11, 2006, I was lucky enough to sail on Royal Caribbeans newest ship Freedom of the Seas. This special one-night sailing was to celebrate the new ship,name it and christen it. The day ... Read More
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS - NAMING CEREMONY On May 11, 2006, I was lucky enough to sail on Royal Caribbeans newest ship Freedom of the Seas. This special one-night sailing was to celebrate the new ship,name it and christen it. The day began with a trip to Cape Liberty and our first look at this mammoth vessel. It is almost overwhelming when you see the gigantic hull of this ship. After a speedy and efficient check in we were ushered onto the ship. At check-in we were given a Special Event program and the key to our stateroom. When we entered Freedom, we were met with what seemed like a crew of very happy workers and handed a flute of champagne with welcome aboard smiles. We quickly found our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on deck 8. The first thing you notice about this cabin is the new linens that Royal Caribbean has adopted. The linens are white and dark green and the bed is decorated with various size pillows in the same colors. The look is crisp, clean and inviting. The white sheets are embroidered with the Royal Caribbean emblem which gives the cabin an upscale look. The cabin is nicely appointed with plenty of drawer space and the closets are roomy -- One point that struck me as new is that the lifejackets have their own little cubby inside the closet and therefore, they are not in the way when you are organizing your clothing in the closet. The closet also has a safe that is easy to use and there is a small refrigerator adjacent to the dressing table. Since the weather was threatening, our first order of business was to check out the outdoor facilities. We made our way to the new Flow Rider where you can surf on a wave simulator. It was easy to find since there are signs pointing the way to Deck 13 Aft. This newest addition to the RC ships is a marvel. Smaller than I anticipated it to be, but nonetheless something to behold. It was being demonstrated by professional sufers and there is a seating area around it so you can sit and watch all the action. As I understand, some of the specifics, it is an engineering feat of accomplishment to get this equipment onto a ship (let alone at the back of a ship) when the weight of it is so immense. The professionals seemed to be doing just fine and after watching them take a few rides and get wiped out a few times&we headed down to the children's pool area known as the H2O Zone. The H2O Zone s a pool specifically built for children and families. The sculptures and fountains that are built around and into this area are a joy to see. They bring a smile to your face&and every child is going to love playing in this area. Families can spend quality time together enjoying this special area. The rock climbing wall that was initially seen on the Voyager class ships has now been improved upon and is bigger and has more trails than every before -- we noticed quite a few enthusiastic climbers as we strolled by. There is also a Full Basketball Court and a 9-hole miniature golf course. After burning up so much energy watching other people exercise, we made our way to Lido Deck and entered the Windjammer Cafe for some lunch. The usual buffet fare is served here and we didnt notice anything that merits special attention, the food was nicely arranged and the staff is helpful and friendly. We spent most of the afternoon strolling through the ship and taking photos of the public rooms. The bars and Clubs are all decorated nicely and the Casino is large with plenty of room. One of the unique areas of the ship is a club named the Crypt. It looks as if it is a Egyptian temple and it serves as a disco and bar in the evenings. The Promenade has all the usual shops as well as the new addition of a barber shop (and shoeshine area). Ben and Jerry's was my next stop -- Cherry Garcia for me as I strolled along and admired this tastefully decorated area. The Promenade is now 10 feet wider than the ones found on the Voyager class ships, and for some reason,,,it now feels just right. We were treated to a 5 oclock Ice Show at Studio B on Deck 3. Well worth seeing -- The costumes and music are astounding and it is truly remarkable that these skaters can do jumps and lifts on such a small surface of ice. This ice rink has limited seating but I would suggest that you try to get to one of these performances -- it is extremely entertaining and fun for the whole family. Dinner was open seating at 7 oclock and a black tie event. The dining room is three tiered and boasts a magnificent chandelier and staircase. Dinner started with white asparagus appetizer, followed by Vietnamese Fish soup, choice of Orange Roughy or Loin of Lamb. The entrees were served with wine and the entire meal was elegant and unique. The dessert was a chocolate mouse topped with a chocolate surfer on a white chocolate surfboard. Truly a work of art. We were given beautifully printed souvenir menus. After dinner it was off to the three leveled Arcadia Theatre. The curtain on the stage is so beautiful that I spent my first few minutes just looking at it and wondering how much it weighed. It looks like a work of art with its bright colors and sequins. We found ourselves seated directly behind former Yankee outfielder Dave Winfield and right down the row from former Lakers Star Magic Johnson. Many passengers had their pictures taken with them and they were very kind and accommodating to everyone. Tonight was the official naming ceremony and we were introduced to the Godmother of Freedom Katherine Louise Calder. This lovely woman was chosen by the viewers of the Today Show. In my opinion they made a wonderful choice. Mrs. Calder has been foster mother to over 400 developmentally disabled and medically fragile infants and children. She is from the State of Oregon and has received numerous awards for her work with children and the Foster Parent Program. She was ushered in by the New York Police Department Society Pipes and Drums and the whole atmosphere in the theatre was one of Pomp and Circumstance. After a short blessing and an address by Richard Fain (CEO of RCCL). We were treated to a concert by Al Jerreau. Mr. Jerreau is the recipient of 5 Grammy Awards and is one of the finest Jazz artists in the business. After the naming Ceremony we made our way back to our cabin where we stood on the Balcony of our stateroom and watched a wonderful firework display with the Statue of Liberty as the backdrop. The evening ended with a parade down the Promenade by the RCCL dancers and singers. This parade especially appeals to the young set and if they can stay up late enough to see it, it is truly a fun event. Friday morning began early when the members of the Today show showed up to start filming their show from the ship. We spent 3 hours following them from place to place and being part of the audience. It was fun to be up close and personal with the people we usually only see from the screen in our living room. At about 9:00 AM Katherine Louise Calder cut the ribbon for the christening of the ship and a bottle of champagne was broken over the hull and just like that. the ship officially became Freedom of the Seas. Barry Manilow was on board today and provided a private concert for about 150 people. Large screens were set up around the ship so passengers were able to enjoy the concert from all over the ship. Much singing and dancing was seen and heard along the Grand Promenade. The Today show wrapped up at about 10 AM and it was time to get ready to say goodbye to the glorious Freedom on the Seas. We were all invited to a brunch at the buffet and asked to wait to debark in any of the many available lounges. At about 11:45 we were cleared to leave the vessel. As I look back at the time I spent on this ship I am truly awed by the size and elegance of this ship. There is truly so much for families of every size to enjoy. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful ceremony and it is something that I will always remember. I hope to be able to cruise on this ship in the near future and I believe the Freedom Class of ships will be a big hit for Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
After a series of inaugural short sailings from New York, Freedom of the Seas was scheduled for a series of two-day and one day sailings from Boston before heading to Miami later in the week. My wife and I were fortunate to be invited as ... Read More
After a series of inaugural short sailings from New York, Freedom of the Seas was scheduled for a series of two-day and one day sailings from Boston before heading to Miami later in the week. My wife and I were fortunate to be invited as part of a group to attend one of these complimentary sailings, as were many RCCL Crown & Anchor Society Diamond Plus members. Flying into Boston Logan airport we were met by the RCCL representative and directed to shuttle buses starting at 10:15am. We arrived at the Black Falcon Terminal, were issued numbers and provided seating until our group number was called for check in. The lines moved quickly with plenty of check-in staff. Our bags were x-rayed and we pulled our own wheeled luggage aboard. We were in our cabin before 11:30. We were assigned cabin 6453, an inside category L cabin, 152 sq ft. The new upgraded bedding on Freedom of the Seas is sensational! The only problem is that when the new, larger beds are made up as a queen, you cannot walk around to the side of the bed. It is that tight. Oceanview and above should be all right, as the cabins are larger. The cabin had two Pullman bunks in the ceiling, and for four people there would be inadequate storage. There was one closet which did have three shelves and the safe. The vanity had 6 small drawers, and there were small storage areas behind the mirror but the spaces were too small to be of much use. There was a small refrigerator even in this small inside cabin. The bathroom was not large, but the shower had a solid revolving door which kept the floor dry. No toiletries are provided except soap. All cabins feature flat screen TVs with a variety of programming, movies, CNN and ESPN. After lunch in the Windjammer Cafe, we spent several hours touring and photographing the ship. It was my second time on a Voyager class ship, and it made getting around easier, knowing where to look for things, as the layout is similar across the class, just larger on Freedom. The weather was rainy most of the weekend, in port and at sea, but we headed topside in a short break in the rain to see the Flowrider. Staff in wetsuits were demonstrating boogie boarding and short boarding. The rockwall is immense, and in addition to the basic, high wall, there is also a free standing column. The wall/column face the sports court, a nearly full sized basketball court. The H2O Zone provides ample space for children to play in the water fountains. We did note that the spa pool is outdoors. There is no pool area covered and available for use in case of rainy weather. Johnny Rockets Diner is popular, but was reported by other passengers to have a 1 hr 45 min wait. The Fuel and Teen and Arcade areas are also near Johnny Rockets, with a large number of very elaborate arcade games, and areas for teens to hang out. Adventure Ocean area for younger children is in the same area. Miniature golf and the golf simulator are on the same area aft. The signature Viking Crown lounge is above, overlooking the pools, and contains a bar called Olive or Twist, and a musical performance area. With only two bartenders it was understaffed when crowded. Except for the main dining rooms, dining areas are all in the same area, on Deck 11, the pool deck. Windjammer Cafe offers burger mania, pasta, and general hot buffet items, as well as dessert islands. At breakfast they offer omelets and eggs to order. The beverages are dispensed by staff, so passengers are not helping themselves to coffee, tea, ice water, and iced tea or juices. They are pre-poured by the staff. Forward of the Windjammer is a section called Jade, featuring cafeteria lines for salads and Asian foods. Portofino, the specialty Italian restaurant, and Chops, the specialty seafood and steaks restaurant, are located on the starboard and port side, respectively, forward of the other areas. Each have many window tables, and are subdivided into two seating areas to provide a more intimate feeling than in a large restaurant. The next area we visited was the Promenade, which runs nearly the entire length of Deck 5. On the forward end is Pharaohs Palace, which features a rock and roll band in a club atmosphere. The Promenade can best be described as a large indoor mall, featuring among other things the fashion, logo, jewelry and fragrance and general stores. Features include Sorrentos Italian deli with pizza until 3am, sandwiches, and Italian deli items. The Bull and Bear Pub features a dart room and a guitar entertainer at night, and Vintages is a wine bar which offers wines by the glass as well as wine flights. Both offer seating inside and outside on the Promenade. Ben and Jerrys ice cream is a popular shop and is next door to A Clean Shave, an old fashioned barber shop. Cafe Promenade offers Seattles Finest coffees and tables inside and on the Promenade itself to people watch. At the after end is the Pursers Desk/Guest Relations, and across the way is the cozy Champagne Bar. The main dining rooms are at the aft end of decks 3, 4, and 5. It is actually one huge dining room with three levels and the center open with a huge crystal chandelier. Deck 3 is Leonardo Dining Room, and has a red upholstery theme. Deck 4 is Isaac (Newton) dining room with a blue theme, and Deck 5 is Galileo dining room with a white theme. We ate in Galileos both nights with members of our group. Service is good. The food was good, not excellent, as was presentation, likely the consequence of serving 4,000 people. Beef tenderloin was offered both nights, no lobster. The menu had 4 selections to choose from among the appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees. Dessert the first night offered a crème Brule which came with no caramelized crust. Cherries Jubilee were among the offerings the second night. Each also offered low-fat items. Always available were Caesar salad, salmon, and sirloin steak. Deck 4 contains the RCCL trademark Schooner Bar, which is really too small for the crowd the evening entertainer attracts. Overflow crowd actually blocks the passage way. The entrance to the two deck disco, The Crypt, is located here. A white dEcor with black light gives it atmosphere. The casino is mid ships. It is large with many tables and slots, but narrow aisles and a bar in the middle make is a bit crowded to navigate. Aft of the casino is the photo gallery and Boleros, a bar which features Latin music, a small dance floor, and Latin drinks, such as Mojitos. Forward on Decks 2 and 3 is located the Arcadia Theatre. Seating on the main floor is excellent with great sight lines. The balconies feature some columns which do block the view for some seats. The sailing featured two shows: "Once Upon a Time" and "Marquee". Both were two of the best shows I've ever seen on board a ship. The six talented singers were Broadway quality, in my opinion. From deck 3 aft you enter Studio B, the location of an auditorium sized conference center where the ice rink is located, on deck 2. For conferences the ice is covered with flooring. The ice show was spectacular, with a Russian couple doing more instant, magical, on-ice costume changes than I could count. Deck 3 also features On Air Club, a Karaoke club. Despite the large number of passengers, near 4,000, it never seemed crowded to me, we had no trouble finding seating in Windjammer, and check-in/debarkation went smoothly. The ship will begin 7 night Western Caribbean sailings from Miami this month, visiting Labadee, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. When her sister ship, Liberty of the Seas, joins the fleet in April 2007, the two ships will alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. A final note for those who might consider a cruise from Boston: We had about a 4 ½ hour wait between arriving back at Logan Airport and our afternoon flight home. Asking at the MassPort information desk, we were advised we could catch a free shuttle bus, 33, outside on the second island which takes us to the station for the Blue Line elevated/subway train. Ticket machines accept cash or debit/credit cards and the fare is $1.25 per person. We boarded the Inbound train, rode two stations to the Aquarium stop, and walked about 2 blocks to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. These are festival marketplaces with shops and food stalls, especially featuring chowda. After lunch and viewing street performers, we took the train back and the free shuttle to the airport for our check-in for the flight. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Freedom of the Seas May 19-21, 2006 Cruise to nowhere from Boston I am very excited and honored that I was invited to sail on this magnificent ship for a 2-day preview cruise for travel agents. We flew into Boston a day early from ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas May 19-21, 2006 Cruise to nowhere from Boston I am very excited and honored that I was invited to sail on this magnificent ship for a 2-day preview cruise for travel agents. We flew into Boston a day early from Texas. We stayed at the Sheraton Boston at the Prudential center. This hotel was in a good location and it was easy to get around. On sailing day, we took a taxi to the Black Falcon Pier. I believe it was around $20 or so. I think the new slogan for Royal Caribbean should be Its way more than a week! in addition to Its way more than a cruise! First impressions. Seeing this ship up close is amazing. She is astounding. I love the way this ship curves in the structure with the balconies and the outside railings outside the dining rooms and the whirlpools that overhang! Email me if you would like to see some photos. Once onboard, the dramatic Royal Promenade is the central gathering place. For anyone who has been on a Voyager class ship this area is similar but longer and wider and has more shops. The pizza place was really great and had at least 3 different kinds of pizza, antipasto salad, Caesar salad, fruit cups, deserts and a bar. It was a great hang out to eat and people watch. They have given Ben and Jerrys their own spot on the Promenade too, with a few tables and the Seattles Best is just across the way and has lots of seating as well. There are several shops in this area too. They were not all open on our cruise. We did enjoy the logo shop, and the new Get out there shop, the cosmetic and perfume shop and a separate jewelry store. A note about the Royal Promenade, we found that this was a quicker way to get across the ship. Our cabin was in the forward of the ship and we found that if we walked across the Promenade and then took the forward elevators, that is was much quicker than walking down the long hallways to our cabin like we did when we first boarded the ship. Our cabin was a D2 cabin 8532. It was really a great size cabin with a huge balcony. The new beds are really great. They were firm, yet had a comfortable pillow top. The ends of the beds are curved&. I am not sure why. The new bedding was nice, but I found that the new duvets were very heavy. We sailed from Boston where it was chilly and they still seamed heavy. My bed was next to the balcony doors and when the heavy duvet would brush against the drapes it would cause them to open and let light into the room. I think that when the beds are together then it is a little farther away from the door. I am just wondering if the heavy duvet will be way too much for the Caribbean. The towels in the bathroom were super soft and white and fluffy&.very nice, although the cabin steward said it is harder to make towel animals out of them since they are not very stiff&.lol&..but he still managed some great ones for us! A lobster and an armadillo! I was surprised that only one side of the bathroom mirror opened for storage and there was minimum storage below the sink. The shower doors were circular and there is still no place to shave your legs -- except outside the shower. Why cant the cruise lines ever give us ladies a shelf or bench in the shower in a standard stateroom? The closet space was plenty for 2 people. It also had several shelves. I was happy to see that the safe is the type where you set your own combo rather than slide a credit card and of course it is free. The room also had a small refrigerator. Our room had a full size couch that did not open up and a small table. There was a desk with 6 drawers and a few extra shelves and both sides of the mirror opened up. There is a hair dryer provided. The balcony on our cabin was huge! It was very deep and had two chairs and a table. It could easily fit lay down chairs when you are sailing in better weather than I was. Dining: We managed to try as many different venues as possible and open on our 2-day sailing. As I mentioned before the pizza on the Promenade was great. The Ben and Jerrys as tasty as ever. Seattles best as strong as ever. Johnny Rockets as hopping as ever! The malts, burgers, onion rings, etc& cant be beat! The buffet area in the Windjammer was big and had many offerings for breakfast and lunch. I also enjoyed the Jade oriental area of the buffet. The soups were very good. Now for the dining room, it is magnificent as far as the appearance and service. What I am disappointed in is that the menus on this ship are nothing new&. I sailed on Rhapsody and Splendour in the past year and saw the same menu. I think Royal Caribbean needs to think out the box and come up with a new Freedom of choice menu or something for this new and exciting ship. It seems very uninventive to offer the same ole menu. How about some of the new Organic salads or pastas instead of eggplant and duck? Entertainment: We had a couple of Broadway type shows on our sailings and I popped in for a few minutes. It is hard to do it all on a 2 day cruise. We did make sure to go to the ice show since I remembered from sailing on Voyager class that it is excellent. This ship did not disappoint. Be sure not to miss the ice show, it was great and received a standing ovation. Many bars and clubs will also feature live entertainment. Spa and health club: This area is huge and very popular. They had many work out machines and of course the new boxing ring! We enjoyed sometime in the ladies locker room that has a rather large sauna and steam room available with no charge. The new surfing Flowrider is pretty amazing to watch, which is what I am sure the majority of guests will do&.LOL. Good thing the Wipe Out bar and shop is close by. They are also offering a juice bar called Squeeze which had all sorts of protein powder drinks for sale. I tried the Fat Burner with raspberry flavoring and it was quite good! It sells for about $3.50. Casino: Didnt have much time for this. I was happy to see that it looked like they have at least 3 roulette tables and fancy new posts by them to tell you what numbers have hit and what the odds are for red and black etc&. Childrens area and arcade: All of this area was awesome. Since we did not have any kids on our sailing, the areas were not in use. They are well divided by age and they offer a program in conjunction with Crayola that looked like a lot of fun. The teens have their own disco and an area called The living room. The arcade had many, many games and 3 full size air hockey tables that were lit up with neon. COOL! Johnny Rockets is right next to the teen area. Feel free to email me at C2Cmarci@yahoo.com if you have any questions about this ship or if you need help to plan your cruise vacation. Get Out There! Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
This was a promotional 2 night cruise to nowhere to get to know the ship. I live in Florida and drove with friends to the port of Miami about 2 hours before embarkation. We both had balcony staterooms on the ninth and sixth decks, 9276 ... Read More
This was a promotional 2 night cruise to nowhere to get to know the ship. I live in Florida and drove with friends to the port of Miami about 2 hours before embarkation. We both had balcony staterooms on the ninth and sixth decks, 9276 and 6282. Both rooms the same and very nice. The beds were great! Embarkation was a breeze and we lunched at the Windjammer Cafe. Great variety of foods and handled the crowd fairly well! We ate in 1 of 3 dining rooms, the Leonardo, very beautiful, breakfast service was very slow but my Eggs Benedict we worth the wait. Dining service was very good and the food was typical mass market cruise food with the exception of the Escargot one night. They were excellent! The specialty dining rooms were only open to look at and view the menus. The ship has a great Promenade deck with sidewalk cafes. The had a parade down this Promenade that was lots of fun! The shops had very little variety of items. There were only maybe 5 kids on this ship and it was a very welcome change. I could not imagine cruising on this ship with the number of kids it could hold! The Flowrider was fun to watch, and the overhanging hot tubs were fabulous, but would be packed with kids and adults would have a hard time getting near either of them on a regular cruise. My favorite dance place was The Crypt and The Champagne Bar was a nice before dinner place to go for a drink. I did not go to any of the shows. Over all this ship was very fabulous and was glad to have been included in the trip, but I personally would not book this ship just because the amount of kids that would be on it uncontrolled. I think this is a perfect ship for families with kids, but not for anyone who is trying to have a nice relaxing cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
I knew this new ship was going to cause "FREEDOM FRENZY" :-) I am a CLIA Certified MCC. (Master Cruise Counselor) While on a Royal Caribbean Seminar at Sea, each person on our winning Team WON a stateroom on the Freedom of the ... Read More
I knew this new ship was going to cause "FREEDOM FRENZY" :-) I am a CLIA Certified MCC. (Master Cruise Counselor) While on a Royal Caribbean Seminar at Sea, each person on our winning Team WON a stateroom on the Freedom of the Seas as our Reward! WOW! AND we could take our spouse or whoever else we wanted! I was thrilled to be able to take my honey! We are Diamond Members with Royal Caribbean and are booked on the Sept 24th sailing so we were REALLY excited to check out 'OUR SHIP'! We live 20 minutes out of Boston so we drove our car in. RCCL had complementary Event Parking for us. From the parking lot they shuttled us over to the Black Falcon Pier. (3 minutes?) I LOVE cruising out of Boston as they always have dozens of people there to check people in! After showing our ID's we were given out SeaPass Cards which were inside a nice 3-D Pocket folder. The cards were marked Inaugural Celebration 2006. We were appointed an Aft Inside Stateroom on Deck 9. We were onboard early. They announced that the Staterooms were not ready but we were invited to explore the ship. So we immediately headed up to Deck 5 to see The Promenade. We walked across the lighted walkway that we had seen so many time on the RCCL website! To our right was the Guest RElations Desk, to our left the elegant Champagne Bar. Our first stop was up ahead on our left, the Cafe Promenade for a chance to get our bearings and grab a quick bite, but first I walked our to Guest Relations to get a copy of the 'Compass' to see what was going on for the Days Events. There were not many people on board yet so I walked around and got a few photos of the barber shop, A Clean Shave (there was already someone getting a cut!) and Ben N Jerry's. We walked the promenade taking photos of the pubs and headed up one deck(6) to check out the Schooner Bar, then the Crypt, the Gothic two level Dance Club. Continuing on Deck 6 we approached the Casino. IT IS HUGE! I was really surprised as I had not heard a word about it's size! A BIG SURPRISE! Lots of machines, pennies and up. Plenty of Tables, Roulette and one Craps. We continued to the Photo Shop and learned about the new way to get your photos. At certain times during the cruise, say you wanted your portrait taken .... they swipe your SeaPass Card. The next day, you go to the photo shop, swipe your card and ANY of your photos will come up on their computer for you to see, IF you had it swiped before it was taken. Very Cool! Next on to Boleros. I met Adrianne. We told him we'd be back 'cause we 'heard about him on Cruise Critic! And that he has a wonderful reputation already! :-) We took a peek at the Dining room....WOW! Beautiful! Then grabbed the elevator UP to Deck 8 to see if we could locate the stateroom we'll be in in September. We choose this location as it is near the internet cafe, Royal Caribbean Online. It has a nice open feeling and a small seating area that overlooks the promenade. (Good idea as it will help pass the time for someone who's waiting for you... when your checking your emails.;-) Next UP to Deck 11, The Pool Deck, we HAD to see Whirlpool that jets out over the sea! WOW! We were surprised to see how spacious the whirlpools were! Got a great photo with the first man in! Heading towards the pools we decided time to have a Welcome Aboard Cocktail at the Pool Bar. I belive I had a Dirty Banana? It was delicious! (Did I mention everything was FREE!) We left a nice gratuity. With drinks in hand we walked across the 'bridge' between the two pools (sports pool on the left, main pool on the right and then two hot tubs also on the right.) It is AWESOME! WOW! I am not a pool person but I can become one real quick as one of the pools is wading shallow. We continued to walk towards midship to see the H2O Zone. When we walked around the corner (there's a big wall separating the two pool areas) I literally exclaimed WOW!!!!! IT IS AWESOME!!!!!! AWESOME!!!! There are plenty of chairs of all types available... in the shade, in the sun, in the line of the fine spray that may blow your way. NICE! Real Nice! Next is Squeeze, a Juice Bar. Fresh and Friendly. Checked out Chops and Portfinos and walked through the Windjammer Cafe. All pretty much the same as the larger Voyager Class ships. We walked back past the pool area and took the stairs near the Pool Bar UP to Deck 12. We walked the upper deck noticing there is a jogging track that is about 1/3 the length of the ship. That'll make a nice walk in the mornings working towards collecting those ShipShape Dollars! Next was all the Young people's area...Adventure Ocean, FUEL(A soda bar that has internet access available too) Looks like a place I'd enjoy. :-) No Adults allowed. :-( Johnny Rocket's is on the other ship of the ship offering hot dogs, burgers, etc and ONION RINGS!!!! YUM!!! We HAD to SEE THE FLOW RIDER!!!!!!!! Only One More Deck UP... I thought the Flow Rider was going to be a Gimmick, a fun gimmick. IT IS SO MUCH MORE! FUN!!!!! We did not get to do it (we can't swim anyway) they had Demonstrations going on every 1/2 hour. BUT the surfers were enjoying it SO much they just kept DOING IT!! THEY are LOVING their JOB!!!! It was mesmerizing and SO FUN to watch! It's Exciting! It's addicting to WATCH! I know where I'll be much of the time when we cruise in September.... WATCHING people WIPE OUT!!!! FUN!!!! Wicked FUN!!! I think we will even DO IT! It isn't deep, what is there to lose? LOL except maybe your bathing suit top. :-) LOL Be careful. FUN. Big KUDOS RCCL! Plenty of seating and tall horizontal surf boards off to the side so you can stand and eat and drink and enjoy, in the sun. Fun! Next to the Flowrider is the Mini Golf then the Basketball Court and Rock Climbing wall. A very active deck in deed. OK..... where's the "Diamond Club" we've been hearing about? UP one deck to Deck 14. Located up near Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge high atop the ship. It was not open. It is what used to be the Ninth Hole. I'm sure it will be real nice when it's open. Great View! It was time to head down to our stateroom as dragging our carry on around was, well, becoming a drag. We headed back up to the Promenade, Deck 5 and bumped into our neighbors who were invited guests. They wanted to have a cocktail so ...... we took them to SCHOONER BAR! They have never been on a cruise but he was in the Navy a WWII Veteran. They had a meeting to attend so we headed down for a slice of Pizza at Sorrentos. :-) We headed back to our stateroom. We had an inside stateroom which had a BIG ROUND mirror on the wall, over the bed directly across from you as you entered. A small sofa (small) and mini coffee table, a vanity and plenty of storage. (But please know we are used to the 'smallness' of stateroom living.) There was a refridge and hair dryer but nothing more than wrapped soap. No Shower cap etc. There was a soap dispenser in shower. The TOWELS thou.... Oh! The Towels! They were SO THICK and SO SOFT I thought for sure they would not be absorbent...They WERE! They WERE AWESOME!!! Now the bed. We BOTH did an Ahhhhh......when we laid down. Unbelievably comfortable. Thick 9" mattresses with pillow tops. Sheets ... smooth and crisp and yet soft. WHITE and embroidered with the RCCL logo in satin thread. PILLOWS!!! Lots of pillows! The bedding and the sleep was delicious. Our bed was made into a queen configuration which doesn't leave much room to get over to the night table or phone. If you wanted more room and didn't mind not sleeping together, have them make it into two twin beds and it would double your walking space.(You can meet in the middle between the two beds. ;-) hee hee We got changed and headed down to the dining room for dinner. It was open seating. The service was great! To my surprise they had the Best of Everything on the Menu.... so I had the escargot, salad and beef. The meat could melt in your mouth and the escargot....as expected. :-) They served our choice of wine again complimentary. Dinner was wonderful, again Great Service. The weather was very nice all day. The two days prior were pretty rainy and yucky, so we were lucking out. All of a sudden my hubby pointed out the sky, it was white on the bottom and a thick darkness that looked like a 7 and white caps in the water like I've never seen before while at sea! We were fine... we headed to check out the casino as we were now far enough out for it to open, but FIRST we have to go see Adrianne at Boleros. Boleros was hopping. Adrianne was everything I heard he was.... very entertaining. He WILL become a Freedom of the Sesa attraction! We look forward to seeing him and his bar mates again. We had a Mojito and headed to the Casino. I made a small donation and had fun trying to figure out HOW to play the machines. It was a long day but now we were off to see the SHOW in the main theater. We sat way up high in the balcony. There was plenty of room everywhere but that's where we choose to be. The Cruise Director Ken Rush introduced the show and the lights went down. It NEVER fails, It doesn't matter WHAT show I am at...... When the lights go down, and the music is playing ... I nod off. A sleepy comfortable NOD. (Like how some people NOD OFF when they are 'watching' a a ball game?) Same thing....comfy nod. What i DID see of the show was very good. After the show we headed to bed, never did get back to The Crypt, but we will. It was a long day., but FUN! I thought the Freedom was going to be Too Big...She's Not! Where you 'feel' the largness of the ship is in the public areas, The Ship Shape Center, The Casino, the Adventure Ocean, the Pool Deck, the H2O Zone. She's very similar to the Voyager (ie: Voyager Class) which made it very easy for us to navigate. Great ship. Not too big. Didn't "SEEM' like there were that many people on the same ship. We only had the one day, did what we could and Can't WAIT to get back onboard on September 24th with my Cruise Critic Pals! Bon Voyage! Did I mention the bedding? :-) Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Just returned from the magnificent Freedom of the Seas. WOW! WOW! WOW! You never need to get off the ship....of course, this was a cruise to nowhere so we couldn't, but who would want to anyway. This ship has everything. Great ... Read More
Just returned from the magnificent Freedom of the Seas. WOW! WOW! WOW! You never need to get off the ship....of course, this was a cruise to nowhere so we couldn't, but who would want to anyway. This ship has everything. Great service, nice cabins, and good food. Entertainment was awesome. Something for everyone to do and see. We actually tried to stay up for the entire 3 days so we could experience everything. We arrived at Miami airport on Monday around 12:30. Our flight was actually a half hour early. RCCL met us at baggage claim and transported us to ship. Embarkation was quick and easy. Smiling faces, glad to see us all around the ship. When we arrived at our cabin someone else was in there so we had to go to guest relations, which was a bit crazy with people trying to upgrade their cabins. They kept our luggage and told us to go have lunch and come back in an hour and they'd have everything straightened out. When we came back, our cabin was changed from a beautiful Promenade cabin on Deck 8 to an inside cabin on Deck 10 which was very, very small. A little sad about that, but hey...what can you do? Set out to explore from Deck 15 to Deck 12 and found wonderful places to eat and drink. Then to Deck 11 for even more fun with pool and solarium and surfing and on and on. This is a great ship for kids and families and singles and couples looking for relaxation. There are so many things to do that it never seems crowded even in the restaurants. We absolutely loved this ship and plan on changing our Mariner of the Seas August cruise to a Freedom of the Seas cruise. Questions....just ask. We'd be happy to try and answer them. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
When I worked in the architectural field years ago, the projects I worked on grew larger and larger until I found myself standing in a 47,000 square foot home. Bigger is only better if there is a lot of human scale intimate thinking on the ... Read More
When I worked in the architectural field years ago, the projects I worked on grew larger and larger until I found myself standing in a 47,000 square foot home. Bigger is only better if there is a lot of human scale intimate thinking on the drawing board backed up by great talent. What I found onboard Freedom of the Seas, was exactly the kind of design talent with the customer centric thought that is required to not only take my breath away, but to make me feel the excitement of a young child with the privileges of an adult! How can only a few words get a rope around this experience? Talk about indulgent! Imagine lying in your luxurious bed (the first ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet with upgraded plush mattresses and linens) and ordering complimentary room service with your remote control on your flat screen TV! That's only where your morning starts in any size cabin. The wide corridors give you plenty of room to walk to elevators that take you to something wonderful on all of 15 Decks. The heart of the ship is the Royal Promenade, a three football field long "mall" of shops, restaurants, coffee shops and pizzerias that entice you at every turn. Sorrento's pizza parlor (complimentary) has not only cheese pizza's, but gourmet pies like Seafood Pizza topped with shrimp, calamari & muscles. The Fitness Center made even me want to exercise! Treadmills & bicycles had individual flat screen TV's. Unbelievable! One of the strangely comforting storefronts was an old fashioned barber shop where guys could purchase a shave. It made me wonder how many men have ever had the opportunity to have that wonderful indulgence. There it is, right onboard, along with a shoe shine chair. The ship also has a special Freedom Day Spa Menu exclusively for men that includes services for a fee like Ionithermie Algae Detox, Miracle Micro Dermabrasion, Exotic Lime & Ginger Salt Glow and hot stones therapy message. Teeth Whitening also available for all! The Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Parlor has your favorite flavors for a nominal fee. Regular Ice cream is free on the 11th Deck. The cows derriere on top of the Ben & Jerry's storefront face a promenade cabin. If you should be so lucky to book this "Ben & Jerry's Sweet" you get free ice cream for the whole week just because of the view! The Flow Rider was for all of us to feel adventurous again! Many cruisers past their prime were able to get on the boogies boards and have a ball. Don't forget to wear either one piece bathing suits or suits with strong draw strings! The powerful waves have their own agenda. I am saving that experience for my next trip onboard which will be the Inaugural Halloween Cruise this October 29th with my group. Also, for my next trip will be a night out at the Crypt nightclub (same great design as all other Voyager class ships), Ice Show I had no time to attend, & a ride on the HARLEY DAVIDSON MACHINE AND A TRIP IN A FERRARI IN THE VIDEO ARCADE....KIDS MOVE OVER!!! The Ice Skating Rink was well groomed. The Rock Climbing, with it's increased height, was formidable. (Don't forget to bring socks, climbing and climbing shoes provided free of charge) The full basketball court was ready for action. The 9 Hole Miniature Golf Course was sweet and ready for it's contestants. Exquisite Art surrounded each venue. The casino had bells and whistles and beautiful "20's" style sculptures on the walls. The blown glass in one of the lounges was Dale Chihuly quality and I had to look hard to make sure it was not done by the master. Beautiful! The rest will just have to be a surprise when you get onboard! The Royal Caribbean staff works very hard to make your vacation as perfect as possible and starts the day off with chaise lounges waiting for you to put down the complimentary beach towels in your cabin. The Living Room was a clubhouse for teens that made me make a wish to go back in time. They also had their own internet room. Programs for most ages of children were abundant. Dinner was a wonderful selection of things like Truffled Wild Mushroom Soup, Orange Carpaccio with red onions, watercress feta cheese and cumin minty yogurt, Eggplant Mozzarella Tower with chunky plum sauce and balsamic glaze followed by Golden Bass pan seared fillet with spanish sofrito, black olive polenta and fried capers. Oh my. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2006
Freedom of the Seas, Pre-Inaugural Preview, May 31 - June 2, 2006 We were thrilled to receive Royal Caribbean's invitation to preview their new Freedom of the Seas ship, sailing from Miami to Nowhere, May 31 - June 2, 2006. We ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas, Pre-Inaugural Preview, May 31 - June 2, 2006 We were thrilled to receive Royal Caribbean's invitation to preview their new Freedom of the Seas ship, sailing from Miami to Nowhere, May 31 - June 2, 2006. We flew in a day early via American Airlines from Little Rock on an uneventful flight. This was my first flight since they eliminated the free in-flight snack. Instead, we were offered a box lunch for a minimal charge. I didn't see anyone buy it, so I don't know if this airline food is better than what was included in our airfare previously. We grabbed a cab at the Fort Lauderdale airport to the Holiday Inn Bayside in Miami, where we had a complimentary stay with our Priority Club points. We received a complimentary upgrade to a corner suite, which we strongly recommend you book on your next visit to Miami. The suite was large with a separate sitting/kitchenette area, bedroom, dressing area/bathroom. The corner windows gave us a great view of both Bayside and the port. We strolled across the street to Bayside for a relaxing evening, and we ended up eating in the outside sidewalk area next to the water at Lombardi's. What a fabulous meal! We ordered the fresh oyster appetizer, with the freshest oysters we've ever tasted. For our main dish, we shared a live 2 ½ pound lobster split with a side of linguini. It was delicious! Thanks to our server for recommending this fabulous meal. The next morning when we woke up and opened our curtains, we saw the Freedom of Seas in port, dwarfing the Florida highway system. The night before, it was a beautiful view of the sunset on the water, and this morning a "building" had moved in overnight. We were thrilled to see our floating resort in port! We had the breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn, before catching a cab to the port of Miami for our Freedom of the Seas cruise. Since this was pre-inaugural preview with no porters to handle our luggage, we packed light and pulled our luggage right into the terminal. Royal Caribbean did a great job welcoming us to the Freedom of the Seas party at check-in, and we were boarding the ship by 11:30 a.m. They asked us not to visit our stateroom until 1 p.m., but since we weren't given our room number until boarding, we were anxious to see what accommodations we had received. We were thrilled with our inside Promenade views on deck 6. Lots of space in our room, with our sofa against our Promenade view window, making it easy to relax while people watching from our room & a great new experience! We highly recommend these inside Promenade staterooms. The new bedding was marvelous as well! And the flat Plasma TVs were very nice as well, and our room also had a small refrigerator. We enjoyed our first meal in the Windjammer Cafe, but we were too excited to eat. The Royal Suite and the Presidential Family Suite were both open for touring, so we headed there and got lots of great snapshots of these roomy accommodations. Both of these suites would provide a luxury cruise for any passenger lucky enough to book and travel in them. We then visited the Promenade, where we had our first drinks and met our new best friends aboard this cruise, Kitty and Sandi, who informed us that there were 12 bars/lounges on the ship, and if we started having one drink an hour, we could visit every bar on the ship by midnight. A great challenge that we weren't up on this short trip! (And, they didn't either, but they certainly planted the idea in our head for a future cruise!) We toured the ship, until about 4 p.m., when I realized I was getting hungry, since we really hadn't eaten that first meal in Windjammer. Unfortunately, at that point, the Windjammer had already closed in preparation for the muster drill. We quickly discovered that Johnny Rockets was still open, so we got a seat in that restaurant, where we had delicious hot dogs, mine with relish and his with chili, fries and hot rings, and shakes, mine chocolate and his strawberry. We strongly recommend a visit to Johnny Rockets while aboard & the food was great, with great service from staff who seemed really happy to be there! We were off to the muster drill, which was as painless as possible. Immediately after, we checked into the Internet cafe to get our wi-fi passwords. The Internet cafe was painfully slow throughout our trip, and we could only intermittently connect to the wi-fi in our rooms and even then it was painfully slow. We usually don't use the Internet and cell phones while cruising, but this was a working trip, previewing the ship and reporting it back to our friends, so we tried! Our Cingular cell phone worked the first 24 hours, but not the second 24 hours, even though they had said it would work throughout the ship. The ship was so smooth on the seas, we didn't even know it was sailing as we messed around with the slow Internet, so by the time we made it to the outside deck, sailaway was over and the shores of Miami had disappeared. We dined with our new friends in the Leonardo's dining room. We had open seating, so we had different servers each time, but the service was great. The first night, we had a wonderful escargot appetizer, and I had a pasta dish, and Roger had a rack of lamb. The second evening, we both had a filet, wrapping up our meal with a wonderful Grand Marnier appetizer. After dinner, we went to the big show, which was great. A band named Rain rocked the place, as they started out dressed as Beatles and playing that music we all know so well we can sing along, then moved on through a couple of decades, with some Monkees costumes and music and others. They were great! If you ever have the change to see Rain perform, grab it and enjoy the fun! The first morning, we heard Lisa Bauer, RCL executive speak to our group, and then we attended Common Ground, where we heard more about what's happening with Royal Caribbean. We were especially excited to hear about the plans to port the Legend of the Seas from the Dominican Republic and the Splendour of the Seas from Brazil in late 2007. We know lots of cruisers like us will enjoy the opportunity to explore these new ports both before and after our cruise, and it gives us some new ports to visit, which is always a goal - to visit one new port each cruise! The cruise director on this trip was Ken Rush, who did a great job, and we suspect we've met the first American captain with the handsome Freedom of the Seas Captain Bob. We visited all the shops along the Promenade, but our favorite stops were Vintages, the wine cafe, and the Bull and Bear, the stop for beer fans. And, we loved relaxing in one of the sidewalk tables outside either of these great places to people watch. And, both had entertainers playing inside during the evening hours. We especially enjoyed Leandro's guitar music at Vintages, as he played some of our personal favorites by the Eagles. Even though everyone said the ice show was a must see, the scheduled shows didn't fit into our schedule, but they say arrive early for a seat! We also missed the show on the second evening, "Once Upon A Time," and everyone who saw it told us it was great! The Freedom of the Seas gym had the best equipment we've seen on any cruise ship yet, and the boxing ring is a big attraction! You can also work off some of those calories climbing the rock wall or playing basketball on this ship. The FlowRider was so much fun to watch, and we hope to go again to try our luck on the boards. Guests who laid down headfirst on the boogie board were having the best luck staying afloat, but eventually the water swept you back to the backboards every time. Everyone left smiling & a great adventure. Thanks for the fun, Royal Caribbean! Early on the first day, teams of 5 to 12 people signed up to compete in The Ultimate Race, and later in the day, we saw these teams racing in various areas of the ship to win the prize! Looked like fun & we didn't have a team to enter, but we hope to next time. Sorrento's Pizza was not the best pizza we've had, but a slice of the pizza took the edge off our hunger one afternoon. (I can't believe I said we were ever hungry on this cruise, because we weren't. We ate because it was there!) Disembarkation was so easy! Since we didn't visit any ports, the ship didn't have to clear customs. Since there were no porters to help with luggage, we didn't have to put our luggage out the night before. So, when we woke up, we packed our bags. Before we were done, the announcement came that we could disembark, so we simply walked off the ship with our bags in hand to catch our ride to our next destination, Sandpiper Club Med. We spent four nights at the Sandpiper Club Med, which we've decided is definitely a great destination for some folks, but not for others. It's a family resort, with their famous Baby Med where your infants can stay while you have some adult time or family time with the older kids. We saw lots of mothers discretely nursing babies at the pool. The Club Med kids workers led the kids from one activity to the next, with all the kids holding onto a long rope and chanting military style. They were all happy and engaged. They had a circus tent set up out back, where kids and adults alike got the opportunity to learn a circus act and get into the show at the end of the week. We saw several adults trying out the trapeze - looked like fun! We saw the kids and parents celebrating at the end of the week, as Club Med handed out medals for the winners of several competitions during the week. We saw the kids water-skiing in the pool - the kids were strapped onto small skis with a golf cart pulling them from the other end. The ride ended quickly, but everyone was laughing and smiling. Lots of family activities happened in the late afternoon/early evening in the Club Med Village Square, and later in the evening, the parents and kids danced and sang together in the Club Med bar. I have to tell you these families were having a great time creating memories for a lifetime. That's who we recommend visit this Club Med. This all-inclusive Club Med had a buffet restaurant, with great food, and their bar had good beer, wine, and frozen foo-foo drinks. But, there were no premium liquor in the bar. The beach is on a river, not the ocean, so it's not that great for beach time. So, if you're looking for an all-inclusive resort experience with fine dining food and service, premium liquors, a swim-up bar, and a fabulous beach, we suggest you try one of the other Club Med resorts, and leave this one to the family folk! Club Med returned us to Fort Lauderdale, where we spent our last night in the Fort Lauderdale Airport Holiday Inn. They had a complimentary manager's reception that evening with drinks, chicken wings, and sub sandwiches, so we could have eaten there, but we wanted to visit one of Fort Lauderdale's restaurants. The front desk manager recommended the 15th Street Fisheries, so we grabbed a cab to eat there, and it was a fabulous recommendation. We were seated in a table overlooking the waterway, and throughout our meal, we watched yachts sail by. We started with a tuna ceviche appetizer, and we were surprised when a young lady approached our table saying she was our "bread girl" serving our bread. She revisited our table all evening with choices of wheat, sourdough, rum raisin, and jalapeno cornbread. For our main courses, I had a Bamboo Steamer with fresh lobster, shrimp, salmon, and crab, while Roger had a tuna filet. And, we finished our meal with a wonderful dessert that tasted like bananas foster, but was called something else. As we waited to pay, the hostess called our cab, and we were back in our hotel quickly with no hassle. The next morning, we had Holiday Inn's breakfast buffet, before heading to the airport for our American Airlines flight home. During this flight, we were offered muffins for a charge. We're home now, dreaming of our next cruise, but you can check out our Freedom of the Seas pictures at this link: http://community.webshots.com/user/judyjbest. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
My wife and I were pretty disappointed with RC with their lackluster efforts toward the first sailing of the megaship Freedom of the Seas. Where were the fireworks? Where were the big name stars? Where were all the extras one would expect ... Read More
My wife and I were pretty disappointed with RC with their lackluster efforts toward the first sailing of the megaship Freedom of the Seas. Where were the fireworks? Where were the big name stars? Where were all the extras one would expect with over 900 Platinum (including us) and Diamond members, plus a huge portion of Gold members? I believe RC really dropped the ball here. They had a chance to blow everyone's socks off and they didn't. Thank goodness the fine people of Jamaica had enough sense to role out the red carpet for us and to have a big star like Shaggy perform. I hope RC takes note. Many of us paid almost double so the value wasn't the best. Here is what we thought. RC got it right: They didn't fill the boat on purpose to allow the passengers more room. The Flow Rider. Great Fun! Flat Screen Plasma TV's in the rooms. Excellent. The Down Comforters and very comfortable beds. Well done! The Menu. Top Notch with a few surprises. The "Once Upon a Time" show. Excellent show. A- The staff was also top notch. The H20 Zone for the children. Great fun! Here is where they got it wrong: The Price. A little high. No big name entertainment. I guess one needs to be called Oprah in order to have fireworks for the first sailing! Information left out of the Compass. EX-They forgot to put in their first Comedian's show! Huge mistake! The wine tasting was very unorganized! The Broadway review show. I'll give it a C. It king of ruined a few of the real shows for me (ex-the P. of the Opera). All in all, a very nice ship and itinerary. If you like the Voyager Class, this boat is very similar. It would be the older stronger brother. We enjoyed the cruise, the staff, and meals, we just wish RC would have went the extra mile to really blow everyone's socks off. That is why we booked the first day and paid extra. My wife and I will not be doing any more first sailings. The extra money is not worth what you get. My advice with new ships: Wait three months and then take your cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
This was my first experience being on a brand new ship on the maiden voyage. Excitement was definitely in the air. The crew were all experienced, so it went off with very little problem as far as the guests could tell. The ship is ... Read More
This was my first experience being on a brand new ship on the maiden voyage. Excitement was definitely in the air. The crew were all experienced, so it went off with very little problem as far as the guests could tell. The ship is absolutely a work of art. The staterooms have pillowtop mattresses that are wonderful, no gap in the bed. This cruiser slept like a baby. Flat screen TV, everything new and clean. But it still had that familiar feel, like coming home. Our Stateroom attendant was wonderful, the minute we left it seemed he was on the job. I don't know how they do it. The dining is my favorite part, meeting other guests, the wonderful food, the service, Jeanette and Freddie were always on top of things. It was wonderful. We also tried breakfast and lunch in the dining room. Royal treatment all the way. We had the most wonderful dinner guest, Tracy and Molly, Barbara and Becky. Ladies, you made it truly enjoyable. The ship has more activities than you can ever do on one trip. Wonderful shows, I can't believe all the entertainment we had, Vegas look out. The ice skating show was fabulous. What a wonderful place for young entertainers to show off their skills. The comedians were top notch. Daniel and Chris were everywhere and just awesome every time you seen them. Who would have guessed this is the first time they performed together? I would love to go see them in a few months, they are definitely star quality. The Royal promenade is a showpiece with wonderful shops and parades and dance parties. From the top down they did a wonderful job of providing a great experience. The art show was incredible, the flowrider makes you want to hop on and many did. Rock climbing wall is larger and better. The gym and boxing ring top notch. Basketball, movies, gambling, dancing, karaoke, it goes on and on. I could have spent another week exploring all her grandeur had to offer. There was a booking frenzy going on, on board. Why just go to the carnival when you deserve the Royal treatment. I love Royal Caribbean and I can't think of sailing with anyone else. Thank you for all the wonderful memories. And my hat is off to all the crew from the Captain down. I would love to mention you all by name because everyone was wonderful. I had the best vacation ever. Thank you. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Freedom of the Seas exceeded our expectations! We stayed the night before our maiden voyage at the Conrad Miami and were able to view the UW benefit sailing from our bay view room. If you like a close by luxury hotel we recommend the ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas exceeded our expectations! We stayed the night before our maiden voyage at the Conrad Miami and were able to view the UW benefit sailing from our bay view room. If you like a close by luxury hotel we recommend the Conrad. However, beware of the taxi drivers who prey on you and take you the long way to the pier terminal: our one way trip was $17 for less than 3 miles. The embarkation process was smooth as the staff were efficient and prepared for us. We were given a handy pocket sized map of the ship which made navigating the decks an easy process. Sadly, the reverse wasn't the case and was a nightmare. The Windjammer Cafe was as expected with the various stations open and waiting! The staff there saw to our needs and came around to the tables with beverages before you could blink. As we have never been on the Voyager class ship we didn't know what to expect but it was not at all crowded. There are so many common areas with diverse selections of bars and watering holes. Boleros catered to the latin crowd, Oliver or Twist the more sophisticated. A hot new spot was the CRYPT! Ken Rush made sure we were all entertained and he has the energy level of a 13 year old. A must is the ONCE UPON A TIME production. I loved the ice show but my husband was bored. Of course, do not miss the Quest and the Love and Marriage productions. Plus, the Sexy Legs contest as well as the belly flop. I am married to the maiden voyage sexy Flamingo legs winner. Although they are a standard, the new players make it fun. I am new to the BINGO arena but I am now hooked. This is only my second attempt and I came out ahead and won $753; it draws people of all ages. Try out the new cantilevered whirlpool spa! Amazingly there wasn't a line as everyone was considerate and maintained a 15 minute visit. Sadly, I never made it to the miniature golf course although we walked around there. I did indulge in the new spa and am still enjoying the after glow of the massage. Do keep in mind that the markup in the spa is at least 15 to 20% higher than in your own home towns. They do run specials when we are in port. Excursions are plentiful and the selection diverse. I highly recommend going with a ship excursion. A group came back from Dunn River Falls almost an hour later and the ship waited for that group! Dining was a pleasure; we were at table 443 which was right in the middle. The menu has been changed a bit and offered more ethnic selections and flavors. Of course, the standards are still available: prime rib, and turkey. For you first-time cruisers you can order more than one entree, appetizer, dessert etc. The midnight buffet was held Friday night at the Windjammer; what a spread! Do try Chops Grille but be prepared for a lengthy dining experience: we were a party of 19 and were at dinner for 3 1/2 hours. Although the service was below par, the food more than made up for it! The lobster bisque was to die for and the desserts...out of this world. Although we did not eat at Portofino's, it was highly recommended. If you want to be entertained 24/7 this is the ship to experience. Remember to participate in the Meet and Mingle and meet your fellow cruisers through the Cruise Critic boards! My husband and I now have some new friends...we've even booked a cruise in 2008 with a number of our new inaugural cruiser friends! Last but not least, the new beds are to die for; I thought I was back at the CONRAD. Heavenly beds move over... Ciao! Janice Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
June 4th Freedom of the Seas Inaugural Voyage Pre-cruise: We flew American out of BWI, direct to Miami the day before departure. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed for mechanical problems, so we missed our pre-cruise dinner with ... Read More
June 4th Freedom of the Seas Inaugural Voyage Pre-cruise: We flew American out of BWI, direct to Miami the day before departure. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed for mechanical problems, so we missed our pre-cruise dinner with Cruise Critic friends at Lombardi's. Priceline had been good to us, and we got a room at the Royal Palm on South Beach for $110 a night. When they handed us a key to a "suite by the pool", we thought we were REALLY fortunate. However, the room was in lousy shape, with badly stained carpeting and an iffy lock. There were also college grads partying it up in the pool until the sun came up. Heaven help those who pay the going rate for this room. Yuck! But it sufficed for one night. Embarkation: Some of the folks on our Cruise Critic Roll Call had arranged for a Hummer Limousine (also named Freedom) to take us to the pier. What a fun time we had! Decked head-to-toe in pink, we were immediately greeted by RCI land employees at the Port of Miami, personally ushered through check-in, and escorted into the Diamond waiting area. There, we were able to meet up with even more pink-clad Cruise Critic members! The excitement was truly palpable. At precisely 11:00, they ushered us onto the ship where we were greeted by the crew dressed all up in their formal attire, and handed a glass of champagne. 4-stars on the Embarkation!!! Wow -- what a memory & those first steps onto this fabulous one-of-a-kind vessel! Day One: Our cabins would not be available until 1:00 (and they actually had "guards" in the stateroom areas, to enforce this), so we headed to Windjammer, had a bite to eat, and then hit the pool bar for some drinks. A quick trip back to the Flowrider, and the time flew quickly until we could get into our cabin. The Cabin: We were in 6332. On the deck plans, it looks like this is the first forward cabin on the starboard hump, but #6330 actually gets those honors. It is an E2 cabin, and was VERY tight with the beds separated into twins. There was barely room to squeeze between the wall console and the foot of the first bed. Rather than give the extra space, generated by the curve on the hump, to the balcony, they allocated this space to the cabin. It sounds like a good idea on paper, however, the shape was odd, and the balcony curtain was placed where it would have been without that extra space. This left an unusable chunk of real-estate between the balcony curtain and sliding door. With the beds separated, the same lack of room occurred near the balcony, and we were always getting tangled up in the curtain. The installation of a simple tie-back would go a long way in alleviating this problem. The beds, however, were FABULOUS. They made my 3-5 hours of sleep each night go a long way! Storage was at a premium though. The flat screen is neat, but it eliminates the cabinet area over the TV which normally contains the safe. Instead, the safe takes up a full shelf in the closet. The drawers also seemed smaller than I've experienced in the past. Day One cont'd: We headed to the muster drill, followed by an uneventful sail-away, and then off to the Welcome Aboard show after acquiring another drink from the pool bar. The show was simply the usual, although the message was that they were excited to finally be sailing for a full week. There was a funny bit of comedy by Don Friesen. I was upset that I missed his adult show later in the week, as he seemed pretty funny. A quick check, back to our cabin & still no luggage. (It finally arrived sometime before 11:00) Dinner was at 9:00 for late seating. Couldn't tell you what I ate, but will say that I was not disappointed with a single meal while onboard. Actually, the food everywhere was good to very good. Sorrento's interesting and cheesy pizzas really hit the spot at 2:00am on several nights!! I'll let others focus on the food in their revues, but will tell you not to miss the chocolate-banana pie in the dining room. :) Day Two: This was our first sea day, and jam packed full of activities. What wasn't jam-packed were the loungers, and it was easy to find primo seating right there at the main pool. The Jamaican Studly Bartender Union seems to have taken over the entire pool area (including the Solarium), and the service was great!! I really do think they took the best from each ship. After the blow-by-blow, I will make mention of special crew members, so hang tight! Belly flop contest was the usual good-fun, but the Sexy Legs contest took the cake this week! Never have I laughed or shrieked so much in my lifetime. In fact, it caused me to lose my voice for the entire week. Our Cruise Critic group had a special "Pink Boa" entry, and he was crowned Mr. Flamingo Legs. I think it was probably the biggest and funniest Sexy Legs contest ever!! We also had our Meet and Mingle party this day, at 5:00, in the gorgeous Olive or Twist (Viking Crown Lounge). Captain Wright himself attended, gave a lovely speech, and stayed for nearly an hour signing copies of a poem which our Roll Call group had presented to him. Another BEST EVER & the Meet and Mingle. It was very special to us all. Kudos to Captain Bill, and the RCI staff who participated!! The show this night was Once Upon a Time. I am not a show-goer. This was it for me for the week (no parades, no ice shows & others will have to tell you about those). BUT, you MUST attend this fabulous show. The premise was new and interesting, the talent was top-notch, and the costume and set-design were gorgeous. Great job RCI entertainers and all who had a hand in this production!! Another BEST EVER!!! As it is pretty hard to top Day One in "BEST EVERS", I'll back it down a bit and just go over what we did in ports, and wrap up with some comments on particularly note-worthy crew. Cozumel: The day is very short in Coz, the ship was sailing at 4:00. The tender operation was incredibly smooth, so people were able to maximize what little time they had in port. We elected to go downtown, shop a bit, and spend the rest of the day in Carlos n' Charlies. Needless to say, there is not much that goes on in that place that I am at liberty to share here, but it was an extremely fun afternoon spent with friends and margaritas! :) Grand Cayman: We tagged along with friends who had scheduled a private catamaran excursion through Captain Bryan's. The price was reasonable, and we had a fantastic day. Three snorkel stops (one at a very crowded Stingray City & and the stingrays were apparently full from all of our predecessors), led by competent crew. I would recommend Captain Bryan's in a heartbeat. Montego Bay: Jamaica gets a bad rap, and personally, I'll no longer allow it on my watch, after our day at MoBay. They quite literally rolled out the red carpet for our arrival, and we docked to the sound of music playing. All day long they had music, dancers, free drinks and samples of the local fare. This all led up to a concert right there on the dock by Shaggy!! The stage was set up directly in front of our balcony, and it was a great time!! The culmination, however, came at sail-away. They had a formal brass band playing, and as the ship began to pull away, they all stood and began playing the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards, we dried our tears, waved, and repeatedly yelled "Thank you Jamaica! We love you Jamaica", as we sailed off. In the middle of all this (or should I say, bright and early in the morning) we did the Original Canopy Tour. All I can say about this tour is AWESOME!!!! If you are physically able (it does require significant hiking up some steep and iffy terrain), shell out the $$$ and Get Out There! We did six zip lines through the Jamaican forest, the last of which was over 1000ft long at which we reached exhilarating speeds of up to 35mph. Special props to our guides, Dervon and Sean, who made the experience a total blast!!! Labadee: It was an absolutely gorgeous (and very HOT) day in Labadee. RCI has done a lot of work on this private Haitian beach, and it shows. It was a lovely beach day spent with friends, and the staff handed us cool, wet towels for the tender back to the ship. BTW, have I mentioned the tenders? They were plentiful, smooth, and well-orchestrated at every single port. People who worry about tendering from such a big ship can worry about something else. Tendering was a breeze! Debarkation: We opted for self-debarkation, in which you can carry your own bags off the ship as early as 6:30am. If you are up for it, I highly recommend this option. It's like pulling off a band-aid. You know it is going to be unpleasant, so just do it really fast and get it over with. Well, "really fast" applies here for sure. We were through customs by 6:45 and at Miami Airport before 7:15. It also helps if you numb yourself via sleep-deprivation and alcohol-consumption. Leaving the ship is never fun, no matter how you slice it, but this method was as good as it gets!! Less than perfect: Well, nothing is totally perfect, and it would be neglectful to not mention the non-optimal. One thing the Freedom crew did not have to deal with on the pre-inaugurals was luggage, and it showed. Our bags (and those of most I spoke with) arrived much later than usual on the first night. There were also many grumblings about a mess at disembarkation, but I was lucky to have missed it. The rotating doors between the Windjammer and pool area are, well...ridiculous. They are very quirky and cause odd traffic jams. Not sure of their point at all. On a funny note, we seemed to be on the verge of a toilet paper crisis by week's end. I kid you not. I imagine this is simply an accounting error which will be rectified by the logistics staff. :) Lastly, I feel that we maiden-voyage passengers brought along enthusiasm to last a lifetime. Although it was mentioned frequently throughout the week by the CD, Captain and others, we never really *felt* a return of the "maiden voyage" enthusiasm after our first day on the ship. This isn't really a complaint, and it will not diminish the fabulous week we spent onboard Freedom...it's simply a disappointment. We heard about all of the hoopla, special celebrities, etc... brought onboard for the free pre-inaugurals before us, and it was a bit of a let down that there was not some big special surprise flourish. Not such a big "bad" list, huh? Special Mentions: Okay, back to the good stuff. Each person makes their own cruise experience. That is one of the things that makes cruising so wonderful. I come from the perspective of a 40 year old single woman, who likes to have a fun time. The fellow passengers and new WONDERFUL friends I make have a huge part in that experience, as does the crew. Here are some of the less-celebrated crew who helped make this the trip of a lifetime: First prize goes to Deddy, the greeter in the Windjammer and a future institution on the ship. Honest to goodness, where he finds the energy and enthusiasm is beyond me. I wanted to wrap him up and take him home....almost didn't need my morning coffee after a greeting from Deddy!! I have a friend onboard named Jesus, from the Dominican Republic. He was up at the Viking Crown, which is a martini bar called Olive or Twist. Olive or Twist is wonderful, and generally has a jazz band playing. Took a while for people to really find it and appreciate it, but by the second half of the week, it was rocking in there every night. Our wonderful times in Olive or Twist were in large part due to my adorable friend, Jesus, as well as the bartenders: Earl and Neville. Be sure to stop in and tell them that Tracy sent you. They are wonderful! If you don't go to Boleros and have Cebe and Adrienne make you a Mojito, you haven't lived! This team of two is a force of nature, and the mojitos are delicious!! My biggest complaint about the ship: I went for my last mojito on our final night at about 2:00am, and they were out of mint and limes. Well, guess that should tell you something about those two!!! Pool bar server honors go to Sanji. He won't be there for long, however, as he was a last-minute fill in and is off to Explorer in a few weeks. Special kudos also to the Jamaican bartending duo of Bailey and Loren. They can be found at the main pool and Solarium bars. Wonderful guys! And Loren CAN make a proper Long Island Ice Tea (do NOT order one from anywhere else!! Not sure what they do to make them undrinkable, but Loren got it done properly). I cannot leave out the dealers in the Casino! I have to give the nod to a wonderful man named Michael. He'll steal your heart (and hopefully not too much of your money! LOL) I thought I remember his nametag saying he was from Canada, but then he mentioned something about Philly. I dunno...alcohol doesn't help my memory with these sorts of things! LOL There is also Owmz, who I'd met before on Radiance. Great guys, both of them! Anyone going on the ship anytime soon please track down these special people, tell them I talked them up, and sit back while they show you a great time onboard!! Summary: Freedom of the Seas is gorgeous, and a work of art. For her considerable size, she was very easy to navigate once you got your bearings. Every detail of her appointments is top-notch and beautiful. The crew, while still needing to find their rhythm a bit, is the best of the best, and it shows. You've seen the pictures, and they are lovely. They don't compare one iota to actually setting foot on this magnificent ship. I still found myself wondering if she wasn't a little too big. Guess that means I need to go back and make a final determination. Twist my rubber arm! :) Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Having just been on the "Freedom of the Seas" so called MAIDEN VOYAGE, the Ship itself was brilliant, the staff excellent, the CAPTAIN also brilliant. In fact, he was the best Captain on all the ships we have been on. He was so ... Read More
Having just been on the "Freedom of the Seas" so called MAIDEN VOYAGE, the Ship itself was brilliant, the staff excellent, the CAPTAIN also brilliant. In fact, he was the best Captain on all the ships we have been on. He was so free and easy, walking round at breakfast chatting to every one, standing on the Key side in Jamaica mixing with all off us, Great Captain. The PROBLEM, we left Miami, well it could be any other sailing, no noise, no fireworks, no Music, in fact NOTHING? No Gift for us to take away to say that we were on the Maiden Voyage, that is not till later, and I consider an after thought, (along with many other passengers), when on Thursday they gave us in our state rooms, a gift to say that we ? (well no name on the document) were on the "Maiden Voyage" and to make things worse, the picture of the ship was the one either from Southampton or New York showing the Ship with the Fireworks on. We were not on the Ship at that time, WE did not see any fireworks. But, having said that, we did have a great cruise, it is a great ship, and we will still sail again with the "Royal Caribbean International." Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Keep in mind this is my own opinion and I am sure there are others who disagree but this is how I felt about our cruise. I must say it was one of the best I have ever been on and my husband and I had fun. But I also say we do not recall ... Read More
Keep in mind this is my own opinion and I am sure there are others who disagree but this is how I felt about our cruise. I must say it was one of the best I have ever been on and my husband and I had fun. But I also say we do not recall ever having a bad time on any vacation as long as we are with or make friends. We feel any trip is what you make of it. Wow what can I say about this ship except awesome! When we got into port and got to the terminal we were met by members of the Pink Boa Society and had fun even before we got on the ship. Capt. Kangaroo (a CC member on our roll call) gave us all trinkets to start our party. As a group we were on an elevator and when it opened up with all of the pink boas inside, I think we scared the heck out of an old lady who was going to enter. We went up to the pool deck to check out the hot tubs and then on to the buffet. At the sailaway there weren't any boats to escort us out, but we did have a spectacular rainbow as we were leaving. And there were so many cars stopped on the road and even those slowing down to watch us leave we thought there was going to be an accident. I have been on a Voyager class before and this is similar but so much more. There is so much space, so big and yet intimate. When we checked our rooms after a very nice lunch in the expanded Windjammer, we noticed the new bedding right away, if you sit on it you could feel the difference. We had a Promenade cabin, which I love because we have the extra window seat. More space to fill up! And where did the day go, before we knew it, it was time for dinner, where we met our long time pals Jim & Jan who we sail with on a regular basis, and our newly discovered pals Fawn and Rick who we had met a few years ago on the Legend of the seas in Hawaii. Our waiter was a keeper and lots of fun. I have to say he was the best we have ever had on any ship, and loads of fun to be with. For formal night I had made boutonnieres for all of our men at the table and he saw them and remarked how nice. I had an extra and gave it to him, and as he pinned it on he was beaming. He also wore it the next formal night, what a delight he was. I will not break each day down because they are a blur. But we did have a great time. We tried the flow rider, I did it on the last day because I needed to work up courage, and now I am mad at myself for not going sooner, oh well an excuse for another cruise on this magnificent ship The Meet and Mingle was so wonderful, the captain greeted us and signed the poem that the pinks made up for this cruise. It was presented in a frame for the ship and we all had copies. This is a moment I will cherish. I know much has been made of a lack of events for our voyage, but this was quite memorable for me. I was thrilled to meet the rest of the Pinks who are loads of fun and hope to run into them on a cruise in the future. Formal night was also very well done and for a change we had no problem with lines when it came to have our pictures taken and this is a first for us. I have to say at no time did I ever feel crowded or overwhelmed by people, which is something I did fell on smaller ships. And as for eating in the dining room, I have to say the level we were on is magnificent, soothing colors, quite elegant. And more people were in formalwear on formal night than any other cruise I have been on, which was quite pleasant and on both nights. And as for the food, I was amazed that every meal was outstanding, the steaks were tender and juicy, the fish cooked and seasoned to perfection. We did eat one night in Chops and the food and service was wonderful, but they had problem with the grill and it was a bit slow. This made us miss the Quest, which we were so looking forward to, but what can you do. We were having such a great time; it did not seem to matter. Besides we felt Quest was held a bit too early in the week. The shows are the best I have ever seen on s ship, there was only one comedian we saw on the last night that I felt was not great, he was alright, but not great. All the other shows were high quality including the ice show. The costumes and sets in all the shows were Broadway quality. And the performers were also high caliber. And as usual the parades we spectacular. On our first stop we did the Tulum Mayan ruins which was a long hot day which started late because of red tape things, due to the fact that this was the very first time in port for this ship, so we were off to a late start. But I was expecting the lifeboat tenders; instead they used local ferry type boats, which held a larger number of people. We tendered to Cozumel and then had to take a ferry across the bay to the mainland when we go there we had a long walk to the buses they said due to hurricane damage. Some of the older in the tours had a hard time keeping up with the guide. The bus ride was long and while informative we were in information overload, I wanted a nap. When we got there we had a choice to walk to the ruins (they no longer let the tour buses close, due to erosion) or take a tram with a small fee. (see pics) It was a tractor pulling it, but hey it was hot and we had enough walking to do in the ruins. The tour was interesting bit it was so hot, thank goodness for that insulated bag they gave us with the water and moistened towel. After the tour was over we were gave a sugar-laden box lunch on the bus. Mini roll, minute amount of tuna, cookie, peanuts, and sugary drink box and muffin and sugared fruit cocktail with no spoon. Thank goodness I had the foresight to bring a protein bar. The ride back we slept, and when we got to the ferry we had drinks to cool us off. The tendering was a little slow getting back on to the ship. This I think in part due to the fact that the locals were doing the tendering and they had to get it down pat and also because this was the first time for everything on this ship and they crew had to adjust the screening process letting people back on the ship. But the next stop it had improved tremendously. Since we had a complete full day in the first port we did not get off in the Cayman Islands early. We started to do some shops and saw the beautiful parrots when the skies opened up. So we stayed in the shops until we could walk around. While we were shopping I had on my Inaugural t-shirt made for our group. So we ran into one couple that was on the Princess and they told us they were going to do our trip but was talked out of it by friends. They asked us all about the ship and said they were sorry they had not done our cruise. They already love RCI and found Princess to be lacking and nightlife dead. After the shows they had no games like Quest and so on. Our next port was Montego Bay and we were greeted so warmly it was nice to be appreciated. We did the Dunn's River falls tour through the ship and were glad we booked it with them because all of the tour buses got back late. We had a blast at the falls and it was so cooling in that water. The bus ride was quite long but our guide was quite informative and friendly so she made the ride pleasant and on the way back she was quiet so we could sleep. We had a stop at Margaritaville for a buffet lunch, quite difference from the Mayan tour. But I must say the ride was very long, I would hesitate doing it again from that port. Jamaica was much more pleasant than I was led to believe and the island beautiful. Labadee was a pleasantly quiet day. We found a secluded spot with plenty of lounge chairs. We had a nice lunch swam and took pictures and just relaxed before we went to the shops on our way back to the ship. They had musicians playing and on our way back were given water and the lemony wash cloths again, quite refreshing. In this port they have there own ferry system in place. The sea days back were needed and we did more exploring and new things to do on the ship. We had a wine tasting in Vintages that as quite nice. And after mellowing out I had enough courage to try the flow rider. But this time my husband was quite a pro at that and many nights I had to drag him off to get ready for dinner. Needless to say he had a ball. And add to it all the surfing songs from that era, and he was in heaven: he is a diehard beach boys fan. We had a great time on this ship and will one day do it or the other Freedom class ships. Our friends booked a cruise while onboard for the Mediterranean in Sept of 2007. When we got home we also booked but I am not sure if I can wait that long for another cruise. I can say considering it was the first run I could say I did not experience any of the flaws I expected. The crew was ultra nice and pleasant and helpful and made this a wonderful experience.   Barbara Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Freedom of the Seas  Voyage 2 (June 11-18, 2006)  Western Caribbean When sailings on Freedom of the Seas were opened to Crown & Anchor members in February 2005, I eagerly signed up and (not so eagerly) paid the premium for sailings ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas  Voyage 2 (June 11-18, 2006)  Western Caribbean When sailings on Freedom of the Seas were opened to Crown & Anchor members in February 2005, I eagerly signed up and (not so eagerly) paid the premium for sailings in the Inaugural Season. Over the next year, I followed the construction and pre-launch events on RCCLs freedomoftheseas.com web site, watched the May 12th inaugural and christening on the Today show, and looked forward to seeing the ship for the first time in Miami on Sunday, June 11th. This was my 4th sailing on Royal Caribbean International. Previous voyages included Monarch of the Seas (Sept 2003  Baja), Serenade of the Seas (April 2004  Panama Canal  her first westbound transit!), and Radiance of the Seas (May 2005  San Diego/Vancouver). Sailing with a friend of mine, we were told that Voyage 1 had over 1900 Crown & Anchor members, while Voyage 2 had about 1200 members. Several crew members confirmed the ship was not full on the first two sailings to give the crew some leeway to work out bugs, but it was expected to be operating closer to capacity on Voyage 3 and beyond. There were approximately 780 children (15%) on the sailing. Pre-Cruise. We didnt take advantage of air or pre-cruise packages on this sailing. We did our own arrangements and flew into Miami on American Airlines on Wednesday evening, and stayed overnight in South Beach, before driving down to Key West on Thursday. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza La Concha (the tallest hotel in Key West) and took advantage of the roof-top bar for sunset drinks. We visited such local attractions as the Butterfly Gardens and the Lighthouse, and took in the Original Haunted Tour  a fascinating and highly entertaining experience. Fortunately, Tropical Storm Alberto didnt affect our Key West stay except for dumping several inches of rain on the Keys during our drive back to Miami on Saturday. Upon returning to Miami, we stayed overnight at the Intercontinental Miami in a room with a perfect view of the Port of Miami cruise terminal. We awoke on Sunday morning to see Freedom of the Seas docked and awaiting our arrival. Day 1 (Embarkation). Prior to our departure from home, we had filled out our pre-boarding information on the Royal Caribbean web site, and printed out our SetSail pass. Compared to past cruises, the new SetSail system dramatically reduces check-in time. All that is required is an identification and credit card check prior to issuance of ones SeaPass. Although our cruise docs advertised boarding at 2 pm, we boarded about noon. There was no wait, and we were on the ship within 15-20 minutes of arriving at the terminal. It appeared to us that the ship was ready somewhere between 10 and 11 am for pre-boarding. That being said, staterooms were not available until after 1 pm, so most guests were mingling in public areas or eating lunch in the Windjammer buffet (we gave up on eating before 1 pm, as no seating was available). We toured selected areas of the ship before Alberto started dropping huge amounts of rain outside. Rain cancelled the afternoon Flowrider sessions. Fortunately, the rain subsided before the 4:45 pm Muster Drill. Dinner was casual  I think the term was come as you are  which was fortunate because of the major baggage delays that plagued both Voyage 1 and 2. We didnt get our last bags until after 10 pm. Evening entertainment was a comedian (Steve Bruner). The Party Around the World parade was fun, although the balloon/confetti box that was nearest to us malfunctioned. The Flying Bridge that descends from the ceiling above one of the two bridges in the Royal Promenade was amazing. Day 2 (At Sea). The remnants of Alberto continued to dump rain on us on Day 2. Outdoor activities were curtailed as a result or postponed to later in the voyage. Tickets for the Freedom Ice.com ice show were distributed in the morning. Within 15 minutes, only tickets for the shows on Thursday were available. Studio B (the ice rink) was open for a short time in the afternoon for free-skate, with sign-ups for the Learn to Skate program prior to the next free-skate on Day 7. Dinner was the first of two formal nights. This was my first opportunity to rent a tuxedo for use on-board. The tux was in my stateroom closet upon arrival, fit well, and other than not really figuring out how to properly use the cuff links, was well worth it compared to hauling along a suit (and then having to dry clean it after the cruise). The evening entertainment was a singer/comedy impressionist, Scott Record. His show was incredibly funny, enjoyable, and entertaining  definitely a dont miss experience. Day 3 (Cozumel, Mexico) Alberto finally moved far enough north to provide partly-cloudy skies with a few sprinkles in Cozumel. The ship was tendered south of town. Transportation for the 3-4 miles to town was by taxi, of which there seemed to be a line several miles long most of the day. Freedom of the Seas was joined by Grandeur of the Seas in Cozumel, still sporting a rather large dent in its hull from the mishap in Costa Maya last year. We decided to stay on-board, and enjoyed short lines for the Flowrider. The Flowrider staff provided a few helpful hints, as well as assisting lighter children (who surprisingly have a much more difficult time staying on the wave than heavier adults). The evening entertainment was the Marquee production show, featuring songs from such Broadway shows as A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph, Cabaret, Phantom of the Opera, and many others. It was definitely a dont miss experience, although Phantom purists will probably object to the All I Ask of You number, in which Raoul is conspicuously missing (his part is sung by the Phantom). Day 4 (George Town, Grand Cayman) We stayed on-board in the morning and enjoyed very short lines (4-5 people) for the Flowrider. I managed to master kneeling on the Boogie board with a very helpful hint from one of the staff that one not try to hop up on the board. We tendered to shore in the afternoon, only to discover rather expensive merchandise for sale. Needless to say, the shopping trip didnt last long. Based on the lack of shopping bags being carried by guests back to the ship, I dont think other guests did much shopping either. We took the opportunity to stand by for the Freedom Ice.com show in the evening (there was no Arcadia Theater entertainment that evening). Fortunately, there were a sufficient number of no shows that we got right in, and actually had very nice seats for the show. The show was terrific  another dont miss experience. Day 5 (Montego Bay, Jamaica) We docked in Mo Bay and went ashore for the Chukka Blue Original Canopy Experience shore excursion. This zip-lining experience (6 traverses) was fantastic and is highly recommended. The highlight of the trip is a very long (280 meter) Inter-parish Express traverse, on which one can reach speeds of 35 mph. Two hints  remember to brake on the last traverse to avoid crashing into the landing pad, and wear lots of mosquito repellent. Dinner was the second of two formal nights  the Venetian Feast with the dining room staff singing the traditional O Solo Mio. The evening entertainment was the Now You See It magic show featuring Drew Thomas and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. I liked the show, although there were a few illusions that were just a little too easy to figure out. Day 6 (Labadee, Haiti) We stayed on-board in the morning while at Labadee to enjoy more Flowrider time as well as no lines for Rock Climbing. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets (also no wait  and no $3.95/person cover charge thanks to a Crown & Anchor coupon). The waiter wasnt entirely sure how to deal with our request for a turkey burger (one has a choice of beef, turkey, or Boca vegetarian)  I guess that most people just get beef burgers& The waiters, cooks, and supervisor did a wonderful dance routine to Stayin Alive by the Bee Gees. All in all, it was a fun time. We tendered ashore in the afternoon and rented floating mats (they dont have to be reserved in advance  you can just present your SeaPass on-shore). We walked the extra 5 minutes to Hideway Beach and enjoyed a remarkably uncrowded, peaceful beach experience. Tenders back to the ship were quick, as security screening is done at Labadee. The evening entertainment was the Once Upon a Time production show, described as A fairytale with a fun pop music twist. Indeed the music was decidedly hip, with Pinocchio set to N*SYNC and Cinderella set to Gwen Stefani among others. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, but in listening to some older guests after the show, some of them didnt enjoy it as much as the more traditional Marquee a few days earlier. The Culinary Gala Sensation (Midnight Buffet) opened for viewing at 11:30 pm, with consumption at 12:15 am. I was disappointed compared to the buffet experience on the Radiance-class ships. The buffet was held in the Windjammer (as opposed to the dining room on Radiance ships), and it was rather unimpressive. The desserts were rather ordinary and the bread examples were limited. Perhaps having the buffet so spread out dilutes the visual impact of the presentation on the Radiance ships. In addition, on both Monarch and Serenade, the buffets included the Chocolate Buffet which is just downright awesome. Day 7 (At Sea) Our last full day was spent in a morning adult Learn to Skate class  thanks Joel of the Ice Crew for putting up with us (!), followed by some free-skate time. Studio B was open for free-skate most of the afternoon. We were thankful for taking in the Flowrider and Rock Wall on the port days, as the Flowrider line averaged 30+ people all day, while the one session of Rock Climbing we saw had 24 people waiting to climb within the first 15 minutes. Dinner was the Feast of Nations, and the evening entertainment was the Farewell Variety Show with the comedy of Eric Lyden. The entertainment and ship staff joined up on the stage for one final farewell, which was a nice chance for Captain Bill Wright to say his good byes. Day 8 (Disembarkation). The ship docked in Miami early  by 6 am or so. Departure started with priority departure (i.e., carry your own bags) around 6:30 am and proceeded rapidly from there. Breakfast was offered between 6 am and 8:30 am in the Dining Room, and until 9 am in the Windjammer. Guests were to have vacated rooms by 8 am. A separate departure lounge was provided for Crown & Anchor preferred members, but since they are given the earliest departure times anyway, it was difficult to even get there before our departure color was called. Our impression of disembarkation was that Royal Caribbean changed their slogan from, Get Out There to just plain Get Out :-). I suppose this rapid departure sequence is what permits the ship to be available for boarding between 10-11 am. Personally, I think Crown & Anchor preferred members should be given an option to select a departure time, rather than automatically getting the earliest departure times. The slowest part of disembarkation was Immigration, especially for the many guests who were still not traveling with passports (required after 12/31/06). We purchased transfers to Miami International while on-board ship. After collecting our luggage, we were directed to the waiting coaches. We arrived at the airport early, but flights on Sunday are notoriously full, so were unable to standby for an earlier flight. Fortunately, we were upgraded into First Class (a benefit of frequent business travel), and enjoyed a rather nice meal (nothing like the food on Freedom though) on the way back home. As we departed to the east from the airport, we flew over the Port of Miami and could see Freedom of the Seas through the clouds. Seeing the ship as we headed back home brought a smile for all the wonderful and memorable experiences of the trip. Some General Impressions Stateroom: Our cabin was 1538 (E1), one of only two E1 staterooms on Deck 10. Its location just ahead of the forward elevators was remarkably quiet. Our stateroom attendant, Katarzyna (Kasha) from Poland was very nice, and very attentive. Flat screen TVs provide more space in the cabin, as there is no bump out in the desk for the television. The new bedding (pillow top) was incredibly comfortable, although the heavy comforter should probably be replaced by lighter blankets for tropical voyages. Space under the bed was more than sufficient for 4 pieces of luggage. Towels were fluffy, but Royal Caribbean should get their money back on them  most of them had horrible runs and loose strings in the terry cloth after just a few weeks of use. Compared to the Radiance vessels, the bathrooms lacked the annoying vent that was the source of some rather interesting odors on Radiance and Serenade. The deeper balconies were a welcome change, although the lack of an ottoman or chaise lounge prevented full enjoyment of the added space. Balcony partitions can be opened between staterooms by staff  they were opened one day for cleaning. Surprisingly, the handrails had not yet been varnished. The only problem with our cabin was an ill-fitting balcony door, which despite 2 tries by maintenance to fix it, remained just barely acceptable. The top locking cam mechanism appeared to be malfunctioning, so the top half of the door did not seal properly against the window frame. Fortunately, we werent in heavy seas (as we were on Serenade between Costa Rica and Mexico) where water was splashing balcony doors on Deck 10. Dining: Food in Windjammer and Jade was good, with the asian-inspired selections in Jade adding some variety to the standard offerings in Windjammer. Morning pastries were improved compared to previous voyages, but desserts were just barely passable. The best dessert I had all week was the Opera Cake served one day at lunch in the Windjammer. Oddly, there were no chocolate dessert selections on most nights in the Main Dining Room. We often resorted to late night trips to the Café Promenade for chocolate mudslide cookies (the only place they were offered). I purchased a soda/juice package, but Windjammer ran out of Diet Coke on more than one occasion. Entrees in the Main Dining room lacked imagination in presentation (perhaps due to the new fleet-wide menus); however, steaks, tenderloin, escargot, and lobster were all excellent. Our waiters (Jimmy and Juhdee) were terrific. Entertainment: Both comedians were just so-so in my opinion. Mr. Lyden told an Alaska joke that probably offended most older cruisers  yikes, my mom wouldve been offended. Production shows and the Ice Show were excellent, as was Scott Records singing/comedy/impressionist act. On the last evening of the cruise, I thoroughly enjoyed a Jazz Cabaret show by the Royal Caribbean Singers in the Olive or Twist night club. The parades were fun, especially the elephant in the Circus parade. I do feel sorry for the Gorilla though  that costume must be warm and heavy. Activities: The larger Fitness Center is incredible, with great quality equipment. It can be busy in the mornings however. Ice skating, rock climbing, Flowrider, miniature golf, etc. are all terrific. The pools (adult-only Solarium, H2O Zone, and Main Pool) are great, deck chairs are plentiful, although towel exchange service was rather marginal. Apparently, there has been a problem keeping a sufficient number of pool towels clean and available. The library is terrific, with an expansive selection of books and a nice seating area. The Casino is typical of other ships, although my friend managed to win a rather large slot jackpot (which I consider unheard of for ship-board gaming). Shops: The 2 for 1 T-shirt sale on Day 7 was somewhat of a disappointment in terms of selection. We ended up using our Crown & Anchor Logo Merchandise discount instead. The Logo store and the Get Out There sportswear store are quite nice. We did purchase the Cruise in Review video for the first time; it was well done. Staff: This was Captain Bill Wrights last voyage as master of Freedom of the Seas, as he was returning to his position as Chief of Maritime Operations as well as being on the steering committee for the upcoming Genesis-class ships. I believe he is being replaced by Captain Carlos Pedercini. Cruise Director Ken Rush did a great job. Ship: Freedom of the Seas has an advertised cruising speed of 21.6 knots. We noted one evening that the ship was making better than 22.4 knots, although an annoying ship-wide vibration is present at speeds over 18 knots. Wireless Access: CyberCabin has been replaced by (costly) ship-wide wireless. Cost ranges from $0.50/min to $0.33/min (in $50 packages). Cell phone coverage is also ship-wide, which is not always a good thing - I observed one clueless passenger using his cell phone while skating in Studio B. My BlackBerry worked the entire voyage, although I was never able to get the VPN to work on my laptop (it had worked with CyberCabin). Oh well, it was a good excuse not to think about work. Some Nice Features: I particularly liked the Royal Promenade, with its glass bridge and constantly changing colors  very cool. The cruise line provided us with water at all ports as well as insulated lunch bags to take home. Some Not So Nice Things: Oddly, the neon sign on the port side of the ship was already burned out, reading Fre om of the Seas. Some parents for some reason dont believe their 8-13 year old children need supervision. Besides the obvious concerns about safety on a ship that has over 5000 people on it, watching an unsupervised group of children enjoy a lunch consisting only of French Fries (with ketchup) and another child eat a lunch of 8 desserts was rather unbelievable. Summary Voyage 2 on Freedom of the Seas was an incredible experience. I purchased Frommers Caribbean Ports of Call book which has useful recommendations on shopping and excursions, along with a brief description of cruise lines. I completely agree with Frommers assessment that Royal Caribbean, has managed to turn the overfed, newly wed, almost dead cruise stereotype on its ear [by creating] a more youthful product that delivers fun, humor, a touch of class, and bit of feel the burn active excitement, all without charging an arm and a leg. Congratulations, Royal Caribbean. Freedom of the Seas is one amazing ship. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Freedom of the Seas Review Sailing #1~ Maiden Voyage ~ June 4-11 2006 Ports of call: Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Labadee Background ~ This inaugural cruise on Freedom was to be my husband Rick and my 7th cruise with RCI and our ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas Review Sailing #1~ Maiden Voyage ~ June 4-11 2006 Ports of call: Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Labadee Background ~ This inaugural cruise on Freedom was to be my husband Rick and my 7th cruise with RCI and our 12 overall. Of course I had waited for Freedom to open up for bookings from the time it was announced as the Ultra Voyager and not as yet named - slowly the information came out about this ship. Eventually we learned the name was to be Freedom and that RCI had a new marketing plan to open up this new class of ship for early booking on Feb 28/05 to Crown & Anchor members only. Like many others my phone call was made and a booking was made&. Thus started the long 15 month wait to step foot on this beauty. I am a Cruise Critic member www.cruisecritic.com and many of the maiden voyage cruisers had been conversing on-line for all that time. We had named ourselves the Pink Boa Society and the ladies and some men (Captain Kangaroo) Frank all wore Pink boas on embarkation and formal night and the husbands wore pink shirts/polos. On formal night the men looked handsome in their pink bow ties and cummerbunds with their black tuxes I realize that many people sailed on this ship and we all will have had different experiences. I had heard and read many negative things and positives about sailing on a maiden voyage and just knew I wanted to try it once to form my own opinion. I am happy to report that this sailing had very minimal problems and I would do it again but most likely wait for the next new class of ship Genesis. This cruise was the best one I have taken and RCI really did outdo themselves in designing and building this vessel. At the end of the review I will post a link to my webshot photos and welcome any questions. Email me emmysoo1@shaw.ca Twas the night before Freedom June 3, 2006 (Pre Cruise) Our pre cruise hotel stay was at the Hyatt Regency in Miami and this hotel was secured by a Priceline bid of $110.00 4 months prior to sailing. We had a huge room, service was great, helpful and friendly. There is a small bakery restaurant called Don Pan International Bakery where we went for a quick lunch. They also serve breakfast and are only a block away. Also in this area is the Courtyard by Marriott right across the street. http://www.donpan.com/about_us.htm We also found a liquor store called Downtown Liquor where we purchased some rum and a couple of bottles of champagne. This was within easy walking distance from the Hyatt http://www.liquordowntown.com/ There is also a Walgreens just down the street and we purchased some suntan lotion and other things we had forgotten. That evening dinner had been arranged for a group from our Cruise Critic Pink Boa Society at Lombardis. Lombardis is located at Bayside Shopping center. Dinner was very good but most importantly the company as we were all meeting for the first time. http://www.lombardisrestaurants.com/ June 4/06 ~ (Embarkation Day) The greatest day was at hand A group of us 14 people who were staying at the Hyatt had decided to arrive in style to the pier to sail on the Worlds Largest Cruise ship Freedom. We rented a stretch white Hummer limo to take us to the pier. We arrived pier side wearing our Pink Boas and stepped out of the Hummer to be greeted by a Pier agent who escorted the 14 of us into the check in area for Platinum/Diamond members and then to the lounge to wait impatiently to finally board our Freedom. We arrived about 10 am and check in was quick as we were among the first to arrive. We were allowed to board about 11am and we were quite the sight in a sea of pink riding up the escalators to be greeted by wait staff holding trays of champagne and female staff dressed in long black gowns and dresses. We were finally on board and the smell of new ship was everywhere. Our groups first stop was in the Windjammer for some lunch. After lunch we did try to access our cabin on deck 8 but even though I made a good effort at it RCI had two staff waiting by the doors and they would not let us in until 1pm. We kept busy with some things like checking out the dining room table location. The Maitre d was available for questions and changes starting at 11:45am  3:45pm. Others in our group went and made reservations for our group to dine at Chops. If you want a certain day or time for dining in either Chops or Portofino it is a good idea to go and do it on embarkation day. I have read that they do have samples of the dining room menus and the theme nights there to help you decide which night to skip having dinner in the main dining rooms. We finally were able to get to our cabins and what a sight they were. The new bedding was so beautiful with crisp white linens embossed with the Crown and Anchor and contrasting pillows and throws. As we had read each cabin had a flat screen TV. Our cabin, which was an E1 cabin 8300 and it, was an interconnecting. Because of this we only had a chair instead of a couch as to not block the door. We found the cabin to be quite soundproof and heard no noise at all coming from the interconnecting cabin. The balcony was quite large in comparison to other side balconies on previous Voyager class vessels. Previously on RCI cruises I have had aft deck 10 balconies so I was used to the extra space but I was quite impressed with the size of the side balcony. Also if asked you can have your balcony divider opened up to create a larger balcony if you know your next-door neighbors. The rest of the cabin was about the same as the others I have experienced. I cannot stress enough the comfort level of this new bedding RCI has put on this ship& and soon on the rest of the fleet I knew that I wanted to book a cruise on board and knew the ship, sailing date and cabin I wanted and to my surprise the Loyalty Ambassadors desk was already open on Deck 6 to make any new bookings starting at 2pm. I was served by a corporate office person who was on the sailing cause they knew with 1900 Crown & Anchor members on board the Loyalty Ambassadors area would be very busy. It was a good thing I had done my homework as at first he could not find the sailing in the system and I wanted an E1 aft balcony cabin and he tried to tell me that E1 were not balconies so my Platinum discount for balconies would not apply. Well after showing him the deck plans all went well. Then he was not sure how much the shipboard credit was for a 9-day sailing so there was a further delay until he could get it confirmed even though I knew it was $200.00&yikes. I wanted to say.Want to trade places. I will take care of the onboard bookings. Anyway he was friendly and maybe a bit frazzled as he had just boarded that morning and I had to be one of his first bookings. I worry about those who sat down and had not done their homework. Later that day I brought another cruiser friend to book the same sailing and he joked and said I should be on commission& if he only knew. After that two more couples from our CC group also booked this sailing on Explorer for April 2008. While I was spending my husbands money and booking another cruise DH Rick was relaxing in the hot tub, all by himself with no one to bother him. This was about 2 pm in the afternoon& great time to check it out and enjoy some solitude on a mega ship&..who says they are crowded and you cant find a spot for peace and quiet...he later headed over to the flow rider and again on embarkation day there were virtually no lines. Maybe 4-5 people and he had many tries at it& loved it. Muster was held at 4:45 pm on embarkation day and one piece of luggage arrived before muster and shortly after muster the other 2 pieces arrived and was not a problem for us as we had late dining and always carry a change of clothes for first dinner in our carryon. After a heavy downpour of rain that cleared up for muster we set sail slightly late close to 5:30pm. Sail away location for us was on the bow of the ship on the helipad. You had to access this area by going through Pharaohs Palace go forward and walk up a half staircase to get there. It was quite a site to see the beautiful rainbow that Mother Nature provided after the rain as we sailed out of Miami& a good omen indeed. On the first evening dinner times for main seating was 6:15pm and second seating was at 9pm for this evening only. The rest of the week dining times were 6pm and 8:30pm. The attire for this evening was casual. The entertainment this evening was a Welcome Aboard show that included a comedian Don Friesen with a pre dinner show at 7pm for late diners and for main dining it was held at 9pm. The highlight of the night was the first one two parades down the Royal Promenade the theme being Party around the world and it took place at 11:15pm and lasts about 20 minutes or so. It was so festive and you truly had to remind yourself you were on a ship. June 5/06 ~ (Day at Sea) The long awaited Sexy Legs Competition Awoke rested from our eventful embarkation day on the worlds largest cruise ship. I called room service to deliver a pot of coffee and within 10 minutes they were there and we enjoyed it on our balcony& we were finally here. We had some breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe and I found the food to be good. They had a huge selection for breakfast of everything you could imagine. The servers in the Windjammer would serve you coffee and juice at your table. I like that so you had one less thing to carry to the table and your coffee was then served hot. Jade would also serve breakfast items with an Asian flair. They were handing out tickets (no charge) on this morning to the ice skating show. They do this to control seating in Studio B. One person per party could pick up a ticket for everyone in their party and it was available from 9:30 am  11 am on this first sea day. They had remaining tickets available at Guest Relations after 11:30 that day. They announced in the Cruise Compass the recommended Ice Show times for main seating guests and Second seating guests so you could look at that and make your decision as to when to request a ticket for. We ended up going on the Wednesday evening (7pm) as it also stated in the Compass that on that evening there would be no show in the Arcadia Theatre that evening so the Ice Show can be your evening show entertainment. The ice show debuted for this sailing on the first sea day at 5pm. It would be good for early diners but it was also formal night and the Captains Welcome aboard& The show was also repeated at 9 pm on Day 4 a good time for early diners to attend. With today being a sea day there were the usual games poolside like belly flop and Mr. Sexy Legs competition. The availability of lounge chairs poolside was great and not an issue. Now all of us that were part of the Cruise Critic group known as Pink Boa Society had been waiting many many months and searching many months so come up with our chosen one to be in the contest. Patrick was our chosen one and he certainly did not disappoint and entertained all that were poolside. He was honored by being awarded the Flamingo Legs medal. Another highlight of this day was our Meet & Mingle gathering of our Cruise Critic group. Our meeting took place at 5 pm in the Olive or Twist Lounge and some of us arrived in formal clothes and some in more casual outfits because of the timing of the event. Light refreshments and snacks were served and the bar was open& I liked the Freedom martini. Try one. Malibu rum, blue Curacao, vodka and pineapple juice. During the event we had hoped to have the Captain attend so that we could present to him a beautifully framed copy of our poem Ode To Freedom This was a poem that was composed in the early days of our roll call thread on Cruise Critic by 13 of the posters. http://www.cruisecritic.com/features/articles.cfm?ID=273 http://members.shaw.ca/emmysoo1/odetofreedom.PDF We were happy to hear that Captain Bill had agreed to make an appearance at the gathering and when he did the poem was read to him by one of our Pink Boa ladies and the captain voluntarily donned one of the Pink Boas around his neck. We also handed out copies of the poem to those in attendance and Captain Wright very graciously stood for photos and signed copies of the poem for all who wanted it done& I was very impressed with his graciousness and this was evidenced other times on the ship as well. It truly was a very special occasion for all who were there and a memory that will stay with us for a long time. I learned in an email that Captain Wright was very touched with the poem and he shared it with RCI corporate office. The poem is to be hung in a place of honor on Freedom. My job when I sail on the Crown & Anchor cruise in October is to find that poem and see where they have hung it. The Captains Welcome Aboard reception took place this evening in the Royal Promenade where he gave his speech from the Flying Bridge&. This is a suspended bridge that is lowered from the ceiling of the promenade and the Captain welcomes everyone and his staff is introduced. They serve champagne in the promenade while early and late dining guests mingle& It runs from about 7:30 pm  8:30 pm with the Captains speech scheduled for 8:15 pm so both dining seatings can take part. You can have your photo taken with the Captain in the bridge in front of Guest Relations. Watch out for those Krooz Komics who will be circulating. They are a fun bunch. We watched them one evening from the Vintages Bar posing as mannequins in front of the Get Out There store&. Some people would stop and look and realize they were the Komics but one lady in particular stopped, looked and got really close to see if they were real and they said boo She screeched and actually walked away angry..or at least it looked that way..we roared in laughter. June 6/06 ~ Cozumel ~ Shopping ~ Carlos & Charlies ~ Panchos Backyard We on Freedom were not superstitious -- how could we be with that beautiful rainbow that appeared as we sailed away so with the date 06  06  06 and given tender ticket #6. We made our way down the staircase to the tenders. Happy to report with all those 6s we had a great day. Now usually Cozumel is a docked port but with Hurricane Wilma last October it made it necessary to tender in Cozumel -- Some tours met in the Arcadia Theatre so they did not need a tender ticket nor did those who were to meet on the pier. Their tour ticket doubled as their tender ticket. We had no scheduled tour so we had to pick up a tender ticket in either Boleros or Schooner bar on Deck 4. These tickets started to be available at 7:15 AM. They asked that you not go and get a tender ticket until everyone in your party was ready to go onshore. Once we got our ticket we waited maybe 20 minutes until they called our number and the tendering process was not long or congested at least not when we went ashore. I was pleasantly surprised at the ease of the tendering process. I know we were only at Voyager class capacity but even for the first time doing this process on this ship from my point of view and what we saw everything went very well& a smooth process. We tendered into the International Pier and the taxi ride was about $6.00 http://www.travelnotes.cc/cruise/cozumel.php We got dropped off at the Carlos & Charlies and walked up to Los Cincos Soles and shopped along the way. We had lunch at Panchos backyard with CC friends Carol & Bob and met some other CCrs there as well. Lunch was very good and we each had a free margarita with the coupon that we had printed off their website http://www.loscincosoles.com/panchosbackyard/home.htm After some shopping we met friends at Carlos and Charlies for another margarita and then made our way back to the ship by taxi. The ship sailed at 4pm and the last tender was at 3:30 pm This evening the Crown & Anchor repeaters party was held in Studio B. We arrived early and all the hot foods were gone and were not replenished but we did have our free glass of champagne. I felt it was kind of a strange place to hold such a gathering and it was not very conducive to mingling. Pharaohs Palace would have been a better location. After this was over a group of us about 19 had reserved tables in Chops for 6:30 pm. The food was excellent but the service was not up to par -- it was slow and we had to ask for things more than once and the lack of the wait staff presence even made it hard to ask for things. They were not that visible. This was my second time dining at Chops. Once on Mariner and once on Freedom and I much prefer my dining experiences in Portofino which I tried on both Navigator and Jewel of the seas. Personally I find the dining experience more to my liking in Portofino, better choice of desserts and presentation is nicer. I thought the food was delicious in Chops but also wish that the portions of the side dishes could have been bigger especially with 6 people sharing. They brought side dishes we did not want or no one tasted but did not even ask if we needed or wanted more of those that we did like. Just inattentive service. I had read and am not sure if it is the case but that the Specialty Restaurants were not open during the pre cruises so if that was the case this was the first chance staff were getting used to serving cruisers. Tonight they did the game Quest and it was held in Studio B -- we had a good time and it is a little different when they hold it in this venue& he separates the people in the stands into teams and no one leaves their seat except the captain of the team&still enjoyable as always& can you say happy face boxers J Rob&thanks for quenching Ken Rushs thirst that night. I noticed that on Day 6 they also hold a Family Quest June 7/06 ~ Grand Cayman Rum cakes ~ Rum Point ~ Torrential Rain Another tendered port and again for us a very smooth process. Picked up tender tickets in Schooner bar and within a few minutes they called our number. They started to distribute the tender tickets about 8:45 am. Our plans at this port were to rent a vehicle, which we arranged months before on line through Avis. We were going to drive to Rum Point with two other couples from our CC group Mary & Steve and Renee & Blake. After arriving at the pier we walked a short 10 minutes walk to the Blue Iguana Souvenir Shop just before the Hard Rock Cafe where the girl there called the Avis rental place which was located near the airport. They sent a courtesy shuttle to pick us up and take us to the Avis Rental office where we filled out the necessary papers and we were soon on our way. Most of the information I found on Rum Point that helped in making my decision to try this place came from this thread on Cruise Critic. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=172576 The drive took a little longer than the usual 45 minutes as we experienced a downpour of rain halfway there. Our friends both rented PT cruiser convertibles and we had a soft-top jeep with of course the jeep top down when it started to rain. DH had to get out and put the top up& he got quite wet but part of the adventure. Rum Point is a very pretty picturesque place even though it was drizzling but the sun did manage to appear for about 1 hour. There are plenty of loungers, picnic tables and hammocks. The beach itself if not that large but very pretty and lots of shade for those who want to get out of the sun. We had a very good lunch at the Wreck Bar there and some drinks. There is a gift shop and washroom and change facilities. Driving on the opposite side of the road for the most part was not a problem and we managed just fine. After our ride to Rum Point we made our way back to the airport rental place and returned the vehicles and the shuttle took us back to Blue Iguana and we picked up some Rum Cakes and tendered back to the ship. This was the only stop that we were in port with other ships. Caribbean Princess, two Carnival ships and the worlds largest cruise ship Freedom. This evening the entertainment was the Freedom-Ice.com show in Studio B&a totally awesome show from costumes to skating to the video clips and pictures they showed on the overhead screens during the show. This is definitely a must see and of the three ice shows I have seen this is by far the best in my opinion. This was also the Love & Marriage Game show evening, which is always entertaining, but if you miss it as usual they rebroadcast it on the cabin TV. June 8/06 ~ Jamaica mon Zip lining ~ Shaggy concert ~ and the red carpet treatment by MoBay Wow awoke and went onto the balcony to be greeted by that great sounding Jamaican music and a red carpet stretched out from the ship to welcome Freedom for the first time. We had an early excursion booked on the ship Canopy Tours which is ziplining. We disembarked the ship about 8am and there was Captain Wright shaking hands as his maiden voyagers left for a fun day in Jamaica. We were led to a bus where our driver Captain K taught us the Jamaican lingo. No problem mon, ya mon and irie mon&now we were set for the adventure of a lifetime& swinging from the trees&well sort of If you want to make like Tarzan and Jane then this is the adventure for you. After being harnessed up you'll glide silently across nine unique crossings through a tunnel of leaves and branches (the canopy) over rainforest and rivers. You'll reach speeds of 35 mph. This was an exhilarating experience and even those with fear of heights managed to overcome them and have an awesome time. Do bring insect repellent because I found the bugs were biting although they did provide some repellant if you had forgotten like meJ I would wear a pair of comfortable shoes like runners cause the day we went it was muddy from a recent rain and you do have to do some hiking. A small fanny pack or backpack is allowed and remember to bring your camera. A hint for couples or friends going together -- do not go one behind the other if you want photos of each other on your own camera. A suggestion is to put at least two people between you and split up and then when one finishes the traverse they can take a photo of the other coming across. The longest traverse is over 1000 feet long called the Inter parish Express -- ya mon! I felt completely safe and the guides Kisha and Dane did an awesome job with our group keeping us safe and providing some humor to relieve any tensions and anxieties we might have had. There were 10 of us in our group and happy to say we all survived and were quite happy we did this excursion. Here is a link to the company the ship used for this excursion. There is more information here if you are interested in doing this one&highly recommended. They do sell T-shirts and souvenirs after and some photos of you ziplining are also available. You can buy a drink and some jerk chicken as well. http://www.chukkacaribbean.com/MontegoBay/canopy.htm After this excursion a few of our CC group met at Margaritaville for a drink and some food and we then headed back to the pier. A command performance by Grammy Award winner Shaggy, as well as complimentary Jablum Blue Mountain Coffee and Appleton Rum, were some of the treats served up to passengers dockside. It was quite the sight to see Captain Bill Wright alongside everyone down on the pier enjoying the music and many starboard passengers hanging out of their balconies listening and dancing to the music. Thank you Mo Bay for a wonderful welcome and a sendoff that day. That sight of a concert in front of the worlds largest cruise ship will be one I will remember for a long time. June 9/06 ~ Labadee BBQ lunch ~ floating mats ~ and Labadoozies Labadee is on the island of Hispaniola on the northern coast of Hispaniola, which is comprised of Dominican Republic, and Haiti.labadee is in Haiti. Royal Caribbean has cordoned off a remote area of this peninsula and reserves this area exclusively for its guests http://www.caribbeanportreviews.com/Labadee.htm Aahhh. what a sight when I opened the curtains to the cabin and saw those awesome green hills right in front of me. Quite the beautiful sight. We watched the tenders start and take the provisions over for the BBQ lunch there. It was quite a hot day so we simply rented a floating mat from one of the many floating mat stations there for $10.00 for the day. There are a few beaches to spend time at and they also have an Aqua park for a fee of $15.00 per adult or child. There are icebergs to climb, water trampolines and other water toys. You can rent wave runners, parasail, and kayak and there is a Thriller Powerboat tour. There is also an authentic Haitian market. DH tried the snorkeling at Hideaway Beach the beach we decided to enjoy and said that the snorkeling was not good at that location. We enjoyed the featured drink Labadoozie in a souvenir cup. We tendered back and decided instead of the BBQ lunch to use our Johnny Rockets coupon from tour Platinum coupon book to have lunch there. Repeat guests with Royal Caribbean get a coupon to dine in Johnny Rockets free for the first time (subsequent visits there is a fee) although you do have to pay for any drinks like soda or the very yummy milkshakes which I tried. Beer was the only alcohol that they served there. I had a very good burger and a chocolate shake and my husband Rick had a burger and a draft beer. Rick also had a delicious chocolate Oreo sundae. For first time guests on Royal Caribbean there is a $3.95 fee per person for each time you dine there. We were also there when the wait staff there did their little dance routine in the diner. Early in the evening they held the second of the two parades down the Royal Promenade this one was called The Greatest Show on Earth. It was held at 5:45 pm but we did not get to see this one. It only lasted about 15 minutes, as main seating guests were due at dinner. June 10/06 ~ Day At Sea Last chance to see everything and dreaded pack the suitcase time Slept in a bit and got up and ordered a pot of coffee again to enjoy on the balcony and watch the sea go by. Nothing can compare to that. Rick and I decided to start at the bottom deck of the ship and work our way up trying to get photos of the areas we had missed of which there were many. One thing about 4 ports in a row is it did not give us enough time to explore the ship. So glad we are booked on her again for the Crown & Anchor cruise in October. We took about 2 hours to take some photos and then headed to the Windjammer for some breakfast. When we arrived home and looked at our photos we realized we still did not see all the areas. We spent some time poolside as we heard the overhead announcement telling all how large the final day bingo was. I believe it was over $13,000 but one of our Pink Boa ladies did manage to win about $750 at that bingo. Then it was off to some of the onboard shops to pick up last minutes souvenirs. One thing that disappointed many cruisers on the ship was the lack of t-shirts and other souvenirs with the maiden voyage date on it. Most of the items all said inaugural season. Our Cruise Critic group had t-shirts made up by one of our members. Thanks Tracy and we handed them out at the Meet & Mingle. We could have sold many more and my DH Rick and others were constantly being approached and asked where we got the t-shirts as everyone wanted one since there was nothing like it in the gift shop. My husband was afraid to leave the t-shirt on the deck chair. It was indeed a hot item. RCI missed the boat on that one. Then it was back to the cabin for the dreaded nasty P word&packing. Our Cruise Critic group had a final get together to say goodbye and to take many more photos including a group photo, which by the way I will treasure always. We shared some drinks, tears and laughs. Thanks to the bartending staff there for doing the honors of being the photographers. I am sure Tracy and Cindy know who they are by name. Right girls . Tonight it was the night to say goodbye to our wait staff and to extend to them thanks for a job well done and to give them their tips. This was the first time that I had the tip money put on my Seapass account. In the past I have always given cash. You will receive coupons/vouchers from the room steward that indicates their tip and you insert this instead into the envelope to hand out on the last evening. I also gave extra in the form of cash in the envelope. June 11/06 ~Disembarkation Goodbye ~ farewell ~ See you soon I was awaken by the vibration of Freedom turning around in the basin at the Port of Miami. our taste of Freedom was over& and what a sweet one it was. We had PINK colored disembarkation tags. of course what other color for a Pink Boa Lady. The express disembarkation was called first and surprisingly it was called about 6:30 am with the first color beige called about 7:40  7:45. We headed to Pharaohs lounge, which was on deck 5 and set aside for Platinum and Diamond members. They served coffee, juice and continental breakfast there. Our color Pink was called about 9:40 am and we were through security and customs quite quickly but the wait for our luggage took quite awhile. The luggage came out on an airport type carousel unlike in Fort Lauderdale when luggage is piled in rows. We were not in the taxi with luggage in hand until about 11am and heading to our post cruise hotel Royal Palm in South Beach. We liked the hotel and the rooms good. Comfy beds and a great location on the beach. Too bad the weather was not so nice with lots of rain but it did clear up in time for Rick and I to take a taxi to South Point Park to watch Freedom sail away past us with the June 11 lucky people aboard. She was an awesome sight to see sail past& Ship ~ Freedom is quite the experience. If you have sailed on a Voyager class ship particularly Navigator or Mariner you will not have trouble getting around. The main differences I see are larger balconies, much better bedding and comfy beds, a longer Royal Promenade with more options there, a great H2O zone which I feel does wonders to keep the younger ones out of the other main pool. It really is a great area for children with even their own hot tubs. It is a large area too. Of course one of the biggest attractions and hits is the Flow rider, which was enjoyed by young and old. Another great addition is the cantilevered hot tubs in the solarium area& hint head for that area on embarkation day and you might just have the whole tub to yourself like DH Rick did. As well the Flow rider had a very small line on the embarkation afternoon. Smile for the camera as they take your photo wiping out. They also sell great t-shirts in this area too. If you are a first time cruiser or have not sailed on this class of ship& watch out prepare to have yours senses awakened. When I are in the Royal Promenade on the first evening watching the parade and see those acrobats suspended from the ceiling you will have to remind yourself like I did that this is not a real street this is a ship. A comment about crowding on a large ship. Although I understand Freedom was not sailing at capacity and was at Voyager class levels (no small ship either) I did not experience the crowding that sometimes scares people away from this size of ship. This was my third Voyager /Freedom class and on all of them I had not problems with lines. The cruise I felt the most crowded was Jewel of the Seas late April 2005 and it was spring break in the New York area with lots of families on board and quite a bit of crowding poolside. Dining ~ We were seated at table 314 in Leonardos Dining room which is on deck 3 right behind the Captains table. I did not experience the crowded feeling and closeness of the other tables that others talked about before in reviews I read before we got on the ship. Perhaps it was cause we were seated so close to the Captains table and they allowed extra space between the tables there. We were situated right below the staircase. It made for a good location for any performances the wait staff put on. In my opinion the head waiter we had John from India was the best head waiter of all my cruises. He did make an appearance every night at the table and even told jokes to us a couple of times. He was definitely the most visible of all the head Waiters and engaged in conversation and was genuine in wanting to know if he could do anything. The wait staff was Nicoleta her assistant Christina. The service was uneven the first night on board, but they did get gradually better remembering our preferences. I was not wowed by the service and I have had better. They were pleasant and accommodating but not outstanding. I did notice that neither of them would tell of the next days activities which I have had wait staff do that before or neither did they make a speech about the comment cards that we needed to fill out and ask for excellent..this has happened in the past. I must mention that we were seated at a table of 14 so that might have been why sometimes the service was slow and the entrées and dishes did not all come out at the same time with long waits sometimes. With that said even though I knew all my tablemates a table of 14 is a oblong table an it makes for difficult dinner time conversation. I prefer a table of 8-10 and a round table. Summary ~ Freedom is not just a cruise ship but an experience. The lack of fanfare as we left Miami for her first week long voyage did not bother me. The friends I met and the other cruisers made this the special cruise that it was. It was a pleasure to be among the first paying passengers on this cruise ship. Many staff welcomed us since they had a group that would not be leaving them in 2 days. It meant a different pace for them as well. I like Radiance class but this was my 3rd Voyager/Freedom class and personally I prefer it to the Radiance class. My experience on Freedom started on Feb 28, 2005 when I first made my booking and went looking for the Roll Call thread started by Tagman. All the months of waiting and the little tidbits of info that RCI would release made the journey fun and exciting. All the friends I met on that Roll Call thread and then met on the ship each played a part in the total experience..Thank you one and all. You all have a special place in my heart. A big thank you to DH Rick who in the early days of the roll call thread had no clue who I was talking about when I would tell him about the posts but he knows now and is glad he was there for the ride&Happy Cruising everyone Wishing fun times to all who have a taste of Freedom in their future. Here is a link to my photos. http://cards.webshots.com/invite/pickup/118013706yBWS/album/551377671gDHgFL emmysoo1@shaw.ca Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
EMBARKATION: When we got to the port everything went very smooth until it was time to come on the ship. I have been on many RCI cruises and Crown and Anchor members have a separate lounge and we usually are able to go in first. On June 25, ... Read More
EMBARKATION: When we got to the port everything went very smooth until it was time to come on the ship. I have been on many RCI cruises and Crown and Anchor members have a separate lounge and we usually are able to go in first. On June 25, 2006 it was very disorganized. They did not have enough space to accommodate everybody and we had to be a little pushy for the attendant to acknowledge that we had priority papers and everybody was pushing and RCI agents were not handling it very good. ONCE INSIDE THE SHIP: It was BEAUTIFUL! Everybody was trying to tell us where to go so that it was easy for us to locate our cabins. We were not able to go to our cabins until 1:00 p.m. but it was OK because we stayed at the Promenade and had something to eat and drink. The Promenade is beautiful and much nicer than the Navigator or Explorer ships. CABINS: The cabins were almost the same as in the Navigator or the Explorer of the Seas. Not much difference only the FLAT SCREEN TV which was very nice and also the mattresses were great. The pillows were too hard but on the last day I found out that we were able to order feather pillows. But overall the cabins were nice and brand new so that made it special too. The balconies were very nice. We had three connecting balconies and on this ship you can open up your balcony and go to your friends room through the balcony if they are your neighbors. Really nice. We had three connecting balconies and we had drinks in our balconies in the afternoon. BATHROOM: Still very, very small. When I got home I was missing my waiter and my room steward but happy to use my own nice shower. POOLS: Great! Beautiful! Wonderful! We were in heaven with the outside Jacuzzis. They were great and beautiful. SHIP MOVEMENT: Almost none. We only moved a little leaving Grand Cayman but only for a few moment. FOOD: The quality of the food was good except for one night but all other days were great. I think that we didnt like Tuesday. We had dinner one night at the specialty Steak restaurant, Chop Grille and it was a 10. We really, really enjoyed the quality of the food and the service was A1A. The Best! If you go you wont regret it. Our head waiters name was Leandro. He was excellent. PURSERS OFFICE: Great service. We always went to the same person because he was very helpful and very nice his name is Elvis Fernandes. MUSIC: The bars with music were great. They had a latin salon called Boleros which was great. And they had another lounge where they were transmitting all of the FIFA games. It was great! CROWN & ANCHOR: They were very thankful to their members and they sent us a few gifts to the room and also invited us to two parties. They were both great. Nice finger food and great (free) drinks. What more can you ask for. DISEMBARKATION: Very slow, but it was not RCI fault it was really the U.S. Custom agents that are trying to be extra careful and they are really taking the time to make sure you have the appropriate documents to enter the U.S. Well, if you are going on the FREEDOM OF THE SEAS and you would like to know something that I have forgotten to mention, please do not hesitate to contact me at: Afusa2@aol.com Bon Voyage Read Less
Sail Date: June 2006
Sunday June 18, 2006 Miami, Florida Got up around 8am to go take a shower and finish packing up to go to the cruise port on Dodge Island in Miami. We were staying at the Intercontinental which is a 5 minute walk from Bayside Mall. This ... Read More
Sunday June 18, 2006 Miami, Florida Got up around 8am to go take a shower and finish packing up to go to the cruise port on Dodge Island in Miami. We were staying at the Intercontinental which is a 5 minute walk from Bayside Mall. This hotel is pretty big, nice, and clean. We really enjoyed the view I woke up to this morning. Outside, berthed at the port was the amazing Freedom of the Seas Along with our ship were 2 other ships from Carnival (not sure which ones). I gotta say, Freedom was a sight all right. So huge, unbelievable to look at. Anyway, we reached the port around 1:25pm or so and by the time we finished with all of the formalities, we finally boarded around 2:00pm. We went straight up to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. What a large spread of food. There was too much to choose from. Already the Windjammer was packed with what looked like several hundreds of people. After lunch, we immediately went to our cabins to check them out. We first headed down to deck 2 to our parents cabin which was an oceanview cabin 2370 and cabin 2372 for my aunt and uncle. Both were nicely clean and comfy. We then went to cabin 9671 which was our interior cabin to be shared among me, my sister and younger cousin. Immediately thereafter, we went up to deck 5 to Galileos which was our muster station for the drill. The drill took about 20 minutes or so, and after that, we headed to our cabin, freshened up, and went out to deck 12 for the sailaway which was already underway. Miami looks great from the ship, and our last sight of land was Miami Beach which was so nice. The sail-a-way party was packed with people all over the place, kids in the pool, people on the deck chairs with drinks etc. This is pretty much the biggest crowd I saw along with the crowds at the parades at the Royal Promenade (which I will discuss later). We strolled through the Royal Promenade a while later to get some coffee and ice cream at Ben and Jerry's. The ice cream was really good. After the Promenade, we went to deck 13 to watch people try to surf on the Flowrider. Most people fell pretty fast which leads me to believe that it is quite tricky to get on and stay on for a while as most people were washed out. We also played a round of mini golf and watched several people climb the wall. After all that activity, we headed back to the cabin to change for dinner. We were on the late seating for dinner which was pretty suitable for us. Our table was on deck 5 in Galileos dining room, table 530 which was pretty close to the window so we had a nice view for a short white till it got dark. This first night, I really enjoyed dinner. It was quite tasty and presented nicely. For appetizers I had the Onion Tart and the Caesar Salad. For the main course I had the Shrimp Ravioli which was good but the sauce was made from lobster sauce which wasnt bad but I dont eat lobster so it was a bit weird for me. Dessert was Apple Pie A La Mode which was amazingly yummy I would eat that again anytime. After dinner, we went to The Crypt for the family night disco. There were about 15 kids there with parents and it was nice to see everyone shaking and grooving. The kids looked especially happy. After that, we went to the Royal Promenade for the Around the World Parade. This parade was very colorful, very pretty, very nice, and it involved some of the employees from each department that work on the ship. After the parade, it was off to bed. Monday June 19, 2006 At Sea I woke up at 8:30am in order to pick get ready and pick up tickets for the freedom-ice.com show which I had heard so much about so I had to make sure to get these tickets. I picked up tickets for the Wednesday showing (Grand Cayman day). After that, I went back to the cabin to wake up the girls and got them to finally get out to the Windjammer for breakfast at 10:30am. After breakfast, we went to the ice skating rink which was in Studio B. This looked like a lot of fun and there were a out 8 -10 people doing it already and some of them looked like professionals. Eventually (after 45 minutes or so) we got cold and got out. I would suggest wearing a jacket or a sweater for anyone who gets cold fast because it does get chilly after a while. The rink was pretty small, not tiny. I imagined it to be a bit bigger. After the ice, we headed to Olive or Twist for scrapbooking. Our coordinator was from the cruise director staff her name is Rayne from the United Kingdom. She was awesome. She taught us a few good techniques and tricks and we were off to a good start in creating an opening scrapbook page. Rayne is also a part of the Bingo staff, we met her there every time we went to play Bingo. We went to lunch thereafter to Windjammer/Jade. After lunch, we were off to the pool, we went to H2O, which was packed There were a few chairs still available so we took them and the kids were looking like they had a really great time out there. It was pretty hot that day so I went back inside for some relief from the sun. Later I went to play golf on my own and saw some wave action at the Flow Rider. After that, it was off to Olive Or Twist for the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle which was at 5pm. When I reached there, there were no people which was disappointing because I know that about 60 people registered for the event. After a short while, people showed up. I guess the main reasons why there wasnt a huge turnout was because the weather was so nice outside that people wanted to stay out and maybe they forgot to show up even though we did get a formal invitation for the meeting. Plus to be fair, it was formal night so I figured that everyone wanted to get dressed. We ended up with about 20 people or so and Abe from the cruise director staff was our host. He was a really nice guy, and he also happens to be the Bingo announcer. We were treated to a gift for showing up for the Meet and Mingle, we got a water protected container that can be worn around the neck which had the official Royal Caribbean Seal on it, also there was a raffle for a dinner for 2 to either Chops or Portofino's. I met several CC members. After that, I went ahead to get ready for dinner since it was formal night. I think that some people were way overdressed for formal night but then again, thats a personal choice. Dinner was nice with everyone dressed up but the biggest line that you could think of was formed waiting to take out formal pictures. Uggh what a line. It was so long that we had to skip it and go back later after dinner when formal portraits continued from 10pm till 11pm. Then it was off to bed. Tuesday June 20, 2006 Cozumel, Mexico We woke up bright and early, got ready, ate breakfast and were off to the tenders on deck 1 to get to Cozumel. The tendering was very quick and efficient. We were on Cozumel within 10 minutes or so after getting on the boat. We met a nice taxi driver who volunteered to take us on a nice island drive and show us around a bit. The drive was scenic and nice. We made a few stops. One was to San Gervasio to see some of the Mayan ruins and another stop was to an area which I dont remember what it was called but there was a beach there and a few small shops by the beach which were called the Target and K mart of Cozumel. Nearby was also a restaurant of some sort. The drive took us about 2 hours I think. It was a good tour, though I have to say that there wasnt much to do in Cozumel, unless you have an excursion planned. I really cant point fingers though, I know that Hurricane Wilma set them back. You could tell by looking at the pier, with the damage, and all around the island there were wrecks in the grass fields and on the infrastructure. After getting back to town, the taxi driver took us to a nice restaurant in one of the alleys and boy was the food delicious It was typical Mexican food, we had beans, rice, chicken fajitas and corn chips with guacamole. It was pretty darn cheap too The seven of us paid a total bill of $42 which included a tip too. After lunch, we took the taxi to the Forum Shops which is the furthest shopping point on the main street and we walked down from there, intermittently stopping here and there for some quickie souvenirs. We finally reached to a point where we knew we had to get back to the ship and we were back to the port, waiting for tenders. When we got back on, the first place I took my cousin to was to the arcade. I think that the arcade was pretty good for a ship. It was pretty big, good choices of games and mostly was usually packed with kids of all ages and sometimes parents too. After arcading, we went to take out pictures all around the ship and we video recorded some stuff too. After that, I took the girls for a climb on the rock wall. They did okay for their first try, they both made it about halfway. Though I saw some people all the way up and down several times on several different paths. I was impressed. We then took a break for ice cream at Ben and Jerrys...yummy Later, we dropped of my cousin (age 9) to Adventure Oceans Voyagers Room. We then got ready for dinner and went to Galileos. That night I had the crab cake and the chicken soup which was a clear soup. The food was pretty tasty. After dinner, we took a walk around the ship and then entered Studio B for The Quest. It was our first Quest experience and we were pleasantly surprised. My sister was pretty distracted though because the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks were playing Game 6 in Miami and she wanted the Heat to win so she kept getting up to see the score. The game was showing on the On Air Club. Quest was fun, new, different and a bit embarrassing I would say for some people who did some weird things. During Quest, they showed a quick flash of the NBA game and Ken Rush announced that the Heat had won Yaay The ship was roaring with fans all over. After Quest we stopped by the Pharaohs Lounge and many Miami residents were there wearing Heat jerseys and chanting and cheering for their home team. It was a nice way to finish the night. Wednesday June 21, 2006 Georgetown, Grand Cayman On Cayman day, we woke up pretty early and got ready to go for breakfast. We were good to go after a while, as tendering went by pretty quick. We were on the island in like 10 minutes. As we arrived, we took a walk along the stores close to the pier. There were what felt like thousands of people flocking around because there were three other ships in port: Freedom, Caribbean Princess, and two Carnival ships which I cant remember the names of. It was a nice day but it was very hot. During our walk, we came upon a nice store which was right across from Scotia Bank. This store was pretty expensive but the quality of the items was so good. I would recommend this place to anyone. I think the name of the store was Too Hot. They sell t-shirts, souvenirs, flip-flops, hats, kids gifts etc. We then made a quick stop to the drug store to pick up a few quick items and then we were off to our independent tour to Stingray City/Snorkeling/7 Mile Beach. We took a bus to a small pier where we took a boat to Stingray City. The boat ride last about 35-40 minutes ONE way. It was a nice ride out. We were a total group of about 13 people I think. Upon our arrival, we noticed that there were about 10 other boats there with us and each had many more people than we did so the sandbar was crowded with at least what looked like 350 people. Very impressive. The place was surrounded by beautiful stingrays, of all different sizes. Our tour director lifted up the stingrays, showed us how to feed them squid, showed us how to play with them, pat them, and how to let them massage us on our backs. It was really educational and fun at the same time. Then we were off to the snorkel area which is very close to Stingray City. Not everyone went for the snorkeling but a few did and they had a good time because they saw nice corals, reefs, and eels. On the way back, everyone was tired and we finally made it back to the tendering area to get back on the ship. Upon our arrival back on our stunning ship, we took showers and got ready for dinner and the freedom-ice.com show. This show was one of the highlights of the ship for me. I was simply mesmerized by the performances. Considering how small the rink is and considering the fact that the ship is in motion, you will be surprised to see how so many people are able to come together and coordinate for such a spectacular show. At dinner, I had the mushroom soup and the steamed dumplings which were both simply yummy We were so exhausted that we called it a night right after dinner. Thursday June 22, 2006 Montego bay, Jamaica MoBay is a docked port so it is a lot easier to get off and on the ship, thank goodness. But this also happens to be the only island that we went to (so far) where they had security checks with xray scanning of bags while getting back on the ship. Again, it was a great day outside. A little overcast but still nice and hot. Our first stop today was taking a bus to City Center Shopping. This area is kind of in the middle of it all. MoBay is very crowded, you will see people everywhere. There are a bunch of stores at City Center some upstairs and some downstairs on the main level. It is a pretty small concentrated area of shopping compared to some of the other islands but we were done in amount an hour with the whole outlet. After City Center, a bunch of people wanted to be dropped off back to the ship so we went back to the ship and mostly everyone got off to get back to the ship. Also, a few people wanted to go to Margaritaville so we dropped them off too. And then we were off on an island tour with our guide Trevor. He was born in Jamaica so he knew pretty much everything about the island and he was helpful in answering our questions. He took us to several areas. We saw MoBays airport, posh area of houses, the ghetto, we sampled locally grown fruits: pineapple, mangoes and jackfruit. This is some of the best tasting fruit that I ever had, really It was all so juicy, fresh and sweet. Yummy We also drove thorough the hills where there were some spots that had nice scenery. Trevor charged $15 per person and took us for a tour that lasted for several hours. He then dropped us back to the ship where we took a walk around the ship again after lunch at Windjammer. Then it was off to scrapbooking at Olive Or Twist with Rayne. This time we did a page on formal night. After dinner that night, I was off to The Crypt again with the girls for Family Night where its always fun. They only thing that irks me about The Crypt is that every time we were there, they always played the same music: Mambo number 5, Cotton Eyed Joe, Rich Girl etc. After The Crypt, I went to the casino which was always packed during the nights after dinner and on sea days. It is a pretty big casino with lots of slots among which the most famous were the Wheel Of Fortune machines. On this night, there were 2 big winners, both on Wheel Of Fortune slots, both winners won within 6 minutes of each other and one winner won $1600 and the other won $1000. Not bad for a days work. Lucky people. Friday June 23, 2006 Labadee, Haiti Both sets of parents got off to Labadee early and the girls went to the pool instead so I decided to get off late. By the time I was at the island, it was already noon. I also knew that I wanted to get back on the ship by 3:00pm because there was a Friends Trivia Challenge at The Schooner Bar so I was in a hurry to explore Labadee. As I got on the island, I went to take a walk along some of the trails that I noticed. The higher trails were really nice, the view was spectacular. The island was packed with people all over the place, most of them eating, walking, relaxing or in the water. Some of the more secluded beaches were very nice. People were even snorkeling around the area. When we walked to the vendor market, we saw too vendors being way too pushy. We even heard some bizarre stories from people who said that when they walked in, the vendors would block off their paths until they bought something. That really bothered me but for me, they were just a bit too pushy, nothing else. I got so hot that I decided to get back down to one of the three lunch spots and grab a bite to eat. Even though the weather was extremely overcast, it was very hot and humid. I got in the lunch line around 1:30pm and there wasnt much of a food choice left but I still managed to get some ribs and rice which was finger licking good. Really. After lunch I headed back to the ship. I went to the cabin to drop off some of the stuff that my parents bought and headed off to the Schooner Bar for Friends Trivia. I was the only one there and Guillermo, from Costa Rica was our host for the trivia. He said that this was the second time they were trying out the Friends Trivia, they didnt do it the first time. The second time no one showed up and this time, so far, I was the only one that was there so he was on the verge of giving up hope that anyone would show up and I was pretty upset because no one else showed up but alas, one nice lady showed up. A minute later, 2 girls showed up. And then a guy came and then another older lady showed up so we had enough people to give the Friends Trivia a try. Yaay Basically, it was 20 questions, and we had to write the answers down on a given piece of paper. All questions were based on the TV Hit Show Friends which completed a 10 year run on NBC. After we finished, we were asked to switch papers with someone else. I ended up with this guys paper who had written the answer JOEY to each question. I guess he did it for the fun of it but he had all answers wrong. When we were done, I had 16 out of 20 correct but I was beaten badly by this girl who had everything correct. Oh well, I guess I am not the best at Friends Trivia. We all won a free Royal Caribbean Pen for partaking in this event. Next up was a family Scavenger Hunt which we took part in also. Basically, we had to answer about 10-12 questions about the cruise ship and in order to answer most of the questions, we had to run around the ship looking for answers. When we came back with our answers, we had 1 mistake but another team beat us to it and came back faster so they won. It was a good try though, and a great workout. After the Scavenger Hunt, we played Bingo. I was very disappointed in the fact that it was hosted in Pharaohs Palace because the place wasnt large enough to accommodate everyone playing and we ended up sitting on the floor. Also, several people that were sitting had spare seats but never offered us the unused chairs. I was very disappointed. We ended up losing the last game by ONE NUMBER However, we did will the raffle for a free Cruise In Review DVD. After Bingo, we headed out to the Royal Promenade for the Circus Parade which was very lively, colorful, funny and fun to watch. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was then time for dinner, and after dinner was Family Quest which was a lot of fun too. We were one of the teams but didnt fare very well but it was fun and that was the most important thing. We then headed out to the On Air Club for Kids Karaoke night. Some of the kids did wonderful, the place was packed with other kids and proud parents. We then hit the casino for some fun and then it was off to the Windjammers Gala. We only viewed everything, we didnt stick around to eat anything. I was amazed at how nicely the food was put together, so stylish, decorative, creative and artistic. The area was full of people taking pictures of everything. There were also some live demonstrations on how the chefs create their masterpieces. Then, it was off to bed. Saturday June 24, 2006 At Sea The last day came so fast, it was unbelievable. I wish we had more time on the ship but she has to sail with her next set of passengers. Anyway, we woke up, and had breakfast. After that, we did everything that we wanted to do so that we didnt go home with any regrets about anything. We went for the last session of scrapbooking with Rayne, we hung out by the pool since it was a beautiful day. After that, we did lunch at the Windjammer. Then later, we were watching the soccer match at the On Air Club. After that, it was off to the final game of Bingo. Bingo was at the Arcadia Theater, and it was pretty crowded, especially the main section. The jackpot was split between 2 lucky people. One was a lady from Miami, and one was a young guy from Baltimore. They each won $6000 plus a bit more. Lucky winners After Bingo, it was off to more roaming around and relaxing and finally for dinner time, we went to Galileos again. It was my uncles birthday and we ordered a cake for him. It was really nice to see the waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter sing for him. After that, we were at the photo gallery for a while, picking out our final pictures and I splurged and bought the scrapbook album and embellishments kit. They were pricey but I promised myself to make good use of them. Well, after that I was at the casino for a while and I ended up losing like $30 bucks. Then it was off to packing and to bed. Sunday June 25, 2006 Miami, Florida We got up at like 7:00am and we were scheduled to debark at 9:30am. We were ready to go to breakfast by 8:00am. After Windjammers, we went to buy a picture at the photo gallery for my cousin and then we were off. I turned around to see the ship and nearly sobbed my heart out but I was looking forward to the shopping in Miami so I was okay (lol ). Immigration took about 20 minutes in the line and about 5 minutes at the officers desk. In about 30 minutes we were downstairs waiting for our luggage and we were in a taxi to take us to the hotel, Hilton Blue Lagoon Drive. We spent the next 3 days in Miami, shopping our hearts out. We went home on June 28th and that was the end of our wonderful days while on vacation. I hope to do it again very soon. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Just came back 2 days ago on a 7-day Western Caribbean aboard the Freedom of the Seas. We didn't care much about the Western Caribbean since we've been there several times, our destination was the ship itself. It's just like ... Read More
Just came back 2 days ago on a 7-day Western Caribbean aboard the Freedom of the Seas. We didn't care much about the Western Caribbean since we've been there several times, our destination was the ship itself. It's just like the Explorer, only slightly bigger. The check-in was smooth and it helps to do check-in online ahead of time. I was disappointed that there was no welcoming party to greet the passengers, usually someone greets & escorts you to your cabin. After sailing more than 30 times with different cruise lines, I think I have a lot of comparisons to draw from so it also makes me more critical than most. Here are my constructive criticisms. I booked an E-1 category with balcony and had reservations about being assigned on deck 6 midship. I prefer the higher floors but this turned out better. Deck 6 is perfect because it's only one flight above the Promenade and close to everything. So if there's a line for the elevators, I use the stairs. The cabin is the usual size for this category still not enough drawers. The balcony is ample and nice. The bed & linens are comfortable, a difference you feel right away. The bathroom is a tad bigger & the shower didn't feel tight. We liked the animal creatures made from towels left by our attendant every night. As for the decor of the ship, it's not classy and a bit tacky. The beige background of the peach & green carpet made the ship look worn and it's brand new. I didn't care for the posts of the ship sticking out in the hallways of the sleeping floors. And the halls turn so you do not get a straight view of the hallway. Where are the public bathroom attendants? The public ladies' bathrooms get dirty during the rush all the time. The front desk is not helpful & friendly. The main dining food is so-so, nothing to rave about. The food at Windjammer is the same every day for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The pizza at Sorrento gets a D-. There is no laundry area on this ship. Boleros was the place for Latin dancing but it should have been bigger & enclosed for privacy. The Latin band was very good. The service at main dining was average. Service at Windjammer was average too. There should be more activities for all ages especially when you're at sea. Now, what's great about the Freedom? The gym was a treat, big & lots of machines. I enjoyed the Salsamania class but they only had it one time. The swimming pools were nice & inviting. The casino was big and all the staff were friendly, especially Mario from Uruguay. Having a choice to pre-charge tips or not is a good idea. And having a choice to carry your own luggage on express check-out is an excellent idea. The shows of Royal Caribbean are fabulous. The singers & dancers were unbelievable. The stage designs & props looked like the ones on a major Broadway production. Tendering was well done, they were always available. RCCL knows how to handle traffic well because we didn't feel like there were more than 3,600 passengers onboard. And again, the beds & linens are very comfortable. We felt so relaxed on this cruise and for the first time ever felt we were on "vacation." Will I cruise Royal Caribbean again? Of course! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Embarkation was fine. Royal Caribbean had, as usual, separate lines for Platinum and Diamond Members, which were full as 1/3 of the passengers, including our family, were frequent cruisers with Royal Caribbean logging at least 6 cruises ... Read More
Embarkation was fine. Royal Caribbean had, as usual, separate lines for Platinum and Diamond Members, which were full as 1/3 of the passengers, including our family, were frequent cruisers with Royal Caribbean logging at least 6 cruises with the line. Our initial reaction was the ship was a disappointment for the dollar paid. As the week went on we never changed our mind. It was similar in almost every way to the Voyager class ships, and not even as shiny as we had thought it would be. The ship has been sailing since April and has already lost a bit of the sparkle. All the main rooms were called the same as they are on the Voyager class ships  for example the Windjammer Cafe. We were hoping for something new and different to live up to the hype, but never saw it. The front desk staff  guest relations  is most unhelpful. The lines at guest relations are always long 24 hours a day. Montego Bay was a nightmare. 17 and 18 year old boys waiting to re-embark on the ship were separated from their families and searched for drugs without their pants in little huts by gun carrying Jamaican female police. Royal Caribbean staff seemed unfazed by this, however many parents were upset by guilty until proven innocent scary treatment. It seemed to put a bad taste in everyones mouth to say the least! After the bad customs experience in Jamaica, Julie, the guest relations manager, told a group of upset parents, including ourselves, that now we know how she felt when she came to the good ol USA. One time she had to wait in line for 3 hours at US customs so she had no pity for any treatment of Americans in foreign customs. Wow! We were pretty surprised by this strong anti-American sentiment, especially by the head of guest relations. We were never able to get a response from the shore excursion desk or anyone else in charge. Other parents never received an apology either. The cabins were fine. Also similar to the Voyager cabins, but the balconies are bigger, which is nice. Be wary of the Flow Rider, although it is fun, it can be dangerous and people are hurt daily. The suction at the end tends grab you and it is easy to get grate marks and bruises on your arms  trust us  we have them. Other people had hurt ankles and minor aches. The pools are fresh water which is also nice, but recycle through the week so swim toward the beginning of the week when the water is really clear and fresh. The employees on the Freedom are truly extra busy. The cabin stewards said they all have more rooms than on the other ships and the dining room employees seem maxed out as well. All the employees seem like they are pushed to the limit. Our teens attended the first night teen program and although they waited for over an hour none of the scheduled activities took place. The literature states that if not enough teens show up the activities will not occur, but we felt a group of 40 was certainly enough. We were told teens didnt want planned activities! The food was fine. We recognized the menus from the Voyager ships. Presentation was often better than the taste, although everything did taste good, just not great. Avoid the strip steak. Tough and not tasty. The entertainment was great. The company pulled its best dancers and singers for this ship. Shore excursions in Cozumel are limited as the town is still suffering from hurricane damage; however fun opportunities are available in Playa del Carmen. Labadee is fun  the shops are full of good deals, although we were disappointed our kayak tour guide knew little history of the island. Overall, the ship is just an overpriced version of the Voyager Ships with poor guest relations. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
We just got back from a cruise one the Freedom of the Seas. I will admit it is a beautiful ship. But being Platinum Members who reserved a Grand Suite we expected more. The room was dirty when we checked in. Heck our friends two doors down ... Read More
We just got back from a cruise one the Freedom of the Seas. I will admit it is a beautiful ship. But being Platinum Members who reserved a Grand Suite we expected more. The room was dirty when we checked in. Heck our friends two doors down had women's underwear under their bed. I had a trash can in the bathroom that was full. But the real shock to me was the service levels. They just were not as friendly or as customer service oriented as we expected. They have two upscale restaurants on board the ship but don't expect to get in if you have kids because they are not welcome. By kids I mean under 18. Now if you know this ship they cater to families with kids by having a waterpark on board the ship. That was just one of the problems with service. I complained about the second bed being made poorly for my daughter, they were just using two mattress pads, one for the bottom sheet and one for the top sheet. The Room attendant acted like I had completely spit in her face because I complained to the Concierge rather than her. (I would have complained to her but I rarely saw her). The next issue is if you are having a Quincineira this ship must be the place. 20 families were throwing a party on the ship and each night they would do something special for them in the main dinning room. Not a problem if everyone is getting good service, but in our case that was not the case. I just think that for the rest of the passengers there should have been some special treatment as well. Now for the good. My 2 year old daughter loved the waterpark. The food, contrary to my previous RCCL cruise was great. Our wait staff while slow, was very friendly. And the stage shows were something that should not be missed. Will I cruise again on RCCL? I am not sure. I like their ships but prefer the service on Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
Sailed on Freedom of the Seas this past week (July 23-30). Overall, it was a great vacation. We are avid cruisers and enjoy what most cruises have to offer. This particular cruise, we chose a year ago when news of the Freedom came out. It ... Read More
Sailed on Freedom of the Seas this past week (July 23-30). Overall, it was a great vacation. We are avid cruisers and enjoy what most cruises have to offer. This particular cruise, we chose a year ago when news of the Freedom came out. It wasn't the itinerary (we have been to these destinations many times), but rather the ship itself. EMBARKATION: We stayed in Miami the day before (always have trouble getting to and from south Florida due to living in Nevada). Arrived at the pier around 11:30 a.m. to embark. We got on the ship in an expedited manner, but was not impressed with how our platinum membership was received. We were scurried to many lines. The loyalty program seemed to be foreign to most people who were guiding persons to the ship. I am not a rude person, but had to take that approach as we were put in so many lines. I was just taken back that this port is the home base of RCI and yet the personnel on the dock were not very well trained. THE SHIP: The ship is a beautiful spectacle. For those who have not been on a Voyager class ship, it leaves a definite impression. The cabins were very nice and the beds were very comfortable. It's nice not to have two beds put together so that you slowly roll into the crack all the time. Although we enjoy the scenery of the balcony, we don't spend too much time on it in the Caribbean, as it's just too hot and humid (great in Alaska though ). Our cabin steward, Anthony, was non obtrusive and had our room looking perfect all of the time. He was, as the rest of this ship's crew, a credit to the service organization of the Freedom. ENTERTAINMENT: Too bad that many nights the showroom was only 3/4 full as the shows were great! This is where RCI shines; good productions, great comics and, with the help of the cruise director, James, rollicking good fun. Lounge entertainment is also wonderful. FOOD: Oh well, this is where RCI has not kept up. Food is okay, nothing special, in the main dining rooms (service again, is wonderful!). So many other lines, particularly those of Carnival and Princess, have left them in the dust. I was surprised how poor the buffet food has become. The pizza parlor in the main Promenade (Sorrento's) is a beautiful, small pizza parlor, and yet, the worst pizza at sea! Please learn to make homemade crust as on Princess. The pre bought pizza shells are terrible and the low quality of the toppings are a real put off! CHOPS GRILLE is a nice dining room, but is the same on all RCI ships. Good service, fair food at best. The worst continuing streak of poor quality steaks at sea (take a trip on the new Carnival ships and have a steak in their premiere dining rooms, fantastic!) Carnival has gone to the approach of having nice wine stemware for wine, whereas RCI is still using a banquet style wine glass, not suited for top end selections. The kitchen is so inept that the Maitre d', Donna, had to spend her entire evening expediting food out of the kitchen, instead of being able to spend quality time with the guests. Too bad, these rooms could be really nice. PLEASE, charge $5.00 -$10.00 more and serve some quality meat! Johnny Rockets was good, although my family and I did get Norovirus for two days after eating here. Can't prove it was JRs, and this is not meant as a slam, just be careful. We are extremely careful about touching things, washing our hands, etc. (I work in the industry), but anyone can get this and it's NOT FUN. DECK ACTIVITIES: These were all that we expected and were not disappointed. The Flowrider is a kick! Our 15 year old loved it and it was really fun watching people try their best to surf or boogie board in this. It is something I hope more ships will do. The rock wall, golfing, and pools were all fun ( be aware of really bad smells next to the rock wall and basketball courts; maybe a ship problem here ). TEEN ACTIVITIES: Our son has grown up on cruise ships and, until turning into a teen, enjoyed all of the activities the ships offer for kids. The ship did their best to try to get teens to participate in GREAT programs, but the 15-17 year old just don't want to do it. It's too bad, because the ship has some great things for them to do. OH WELL! The bad part is that the teens just lounge around in the hallways and elevators using their cell phones and becoming a nuisance. The ship was loaded with a group called QUINCES, which had dozens of 15 year old girls celebrating the honored ceremony of their religion. They were just incredibly noisy, along with the other teens, while wondering the hallways at 1:00-2:00 a.m each night. Way too many underage teens also in the all adult (over 18) shows. I guess if the parents aren't going to supervise this, the ship won't take the responsibility to exclude them. PORTS: WE did not get off in Grand Cayman (rained like no tomorrow!) or Montego Bay, as we have been their many times. Went to XCARET in Playa del Carmen. This is a beautiful park with much to offer. I would highly recommend this with the following cautionary advise: After you take the ferry to Playa del Carmen, you must walk one quarter mile to get to and from the bus (not recommended for those who cannot walk). Our guide on the bus only spoke Spanish to the entire group, so many of us had no idea of what was going on. Thank goodness for Spanglish, so I was able to ascertain that we needed to be back on the bus by 2:15 p.m.! Most of the really great things about this park happen later in the day, and, unfortunately, you have to leave before this happens. Even so, the beauty of the underground rivers, beaches, swimming with dolphins, etc. make this a worthwhile expedition. DISEMBARKING: Another reason I am not sure why a loyalty program works on these ships. We WERE given a "special lounge" to stay in until our color was called, but no preferential treatment of getting off the ship. Lounge too small for the amount of guests, and poor food and beverage offerings. Do yourself a big favor....this ship has an EXPRESS departure. You can get off the ship by 6:30 a.m!! You can also keep all of your luggage and just walk off! Had we known that, we would have booked an earlier flight and got off. I hope this information will help someone else while planning a trip. The Miami disembarkation is long and a killer as they do not have enough customs agents to get you off the ship in a timely manner. There are no express lines for US residents and this ship is packed with guests from all over the world. Take may advice and get off as early as you can or face a long wait. OVERALL: This is a beautiful ship. Other than a tad bigger and the Flowrider, same as the Voyager ships. We enjoyed ourselves and still plan to cruise ( in two months on Holland America and next spring on the Carnival Freedom to Europe ). RCI have become second what to the new Carnival ships in amenities. I hope that they will some day work back up to where they used to be. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2006
A group of ten family members on this trip 9 to 76 years old. Embarkation was prompt, we arrived at 2:30 pm and were on the boat in less than half an hour. We had no special designation. First time on a Voyager type ship having cruised ... Read More
A group of ten family members on this trip 9 to 76 years old. Embarkation was prompt, we arrived at 2:30 pm and were on the boat in less than half an hour. We had no special designation. First time on a Voyager type ship having cruised Princess last year and Carnival Glory the year before. I was impressed with the ship. The common areas were beautiful and large and it didn't seem like there were 4,000 people on board. Cabins are small but well proportioned..the shower will be a problem for a large person..(I'm 5'8 185lbs and kept banging my elbows against the door, god forbid you drop the soap). The shows were first rate, really, you could not ask for more. The magician was wonderful (I'm a big David Copperfield fan), the first comic, (Cutter?) is not to be missed. The ice show is wonderful. The sets in the main theater can only be compared to a broadway production. Plenty of activities for all. There is plenty of information on the Boards about the itineraries so I will not go into that here but suffice to say that you need to plan before you go. Ok, the bad. Throughout the trip there was a bad odor on all cabins on the back side of the boat. This is the side where all the restaurants are found, so this might have had something to do with it. The odor got so bad one night in my cabin that we could not stay there and after complaining to the front desk for an hour,(while we waited outside) they sent someone to the cabin with air freshener that, upon opening the front door, just turned around, called the front desk himself and told them that there was nothing he could do. We were issued a new cabin for the night (we had two cabins, so had to squeeze in, the boat was sold out and they had to bump a crew member at 2:00 am). The next day the smell was bearable but each night when we went to dinner, someone came to "refresh" the cabin. Truly an unpleasant experience for a new ship, paying top dollar, and no one even sent a bottle of wine for compensation. The food was mediocre during the whole cruise. We tried breakfast in both the dinning room and Windjammer and were disappointed in both. Lunch at the Windjammer was predictable cruise buffet. We found the pizza very good at the pizzeria. Dinner at the main dining room was bland. The Chops Grill was the best meal, worth the money(steaks as good as ruth chris, capital grille, etc). Portofino was ok. The food at the alternative restaurant on the Carnival Glory was one of the best meals I've had...really (I was shocked too)..so I expected a lot better from RCCL. The service in the main dining room was both hurried and slow. The main waiter was hurried, he stood in the middle of the three tables he was serving to explain the menu so I didn't feel like there was personal service. If you asked for a soup and an appetizer, they both showed up to the table at the same time. The assistant waitress was slow. Water was poured once a meal, requests for things went unanswered, dirty plates would linger in front of you, etc. Still I felt that too much was being demanded of them and their personal stories moved me to tip them appropriately. All told I loved the ship and would probably cruise RCCL again but would stick to the alternative dining. Read Less
Freedom of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 4.2
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.3
Family 5.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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