I don't know about you, but I'm so impatient in waiting for summer to arrive. Sooooo, I'm posting a review I wrote September 2008, highlighting Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. If this doesn't get you excited for your summer vacation, then maybe you're a snow bunny!
Freedom of the Seas Review (Western Caribbean itinerary), originally posted to Cruise Critic 9/2008
A MOOvelous cruise and UDDERly fantastic ship!
We stayed at the Best Western on the Bay Inn & Marina in
The cruise shuttle from the hotel cost us $10/person and dropped us off at the
We had booked the Ben & Jerry’s “Sweet”, also known as the “Cow Butt” cabin – Stateroom 6305 on Freedom,
Our cabin steward, Marcia from
Freedom of the Seas, currently the largest ship in the world, was big, but didn’t have the HUGE feeling we thought it would. We expected lines of people wherever we went, a long wait for elevators and the potential inability to visit every nook and cranny on the ship by the end of the sailing. However, none of that happened. The layout made the foot traffic flow nicely, and we rarely had to wait longer than 2-3 minutes for an elevator. Though the ship was full, there were only 421 children on this sailing which could have contributed to the feeling of not being overwhelmed with the number of people. Three weeks before our sailing passengers enjoyed the company of over 1800 children!
We ate in the Main Dining Room every night, as we weren’t really in the mood to splurge at Chops or
Our favorite after hours eatery by far was
Café Promenade, a bit different than the Café Lattetudes found on other RCCL ships, was one deck below and across from our cabin which made for easy viewing to check on the length of the line before venturing down for a morning coffee. Café Promenade did not offer a coffee punch card as does Café Lattetude on other ships, and the cost of a small soy latte is comparable to what I would pay on land. Plan to pay $3-$5 for a latte depending on size and any additions you may like. Two days into our sailing we realized that all of the cookies, pastries and sandwiches at Café Promenade were available at no additional charge.
We enjoyed the Ice Show one evening where a featured guest (I really wish I could remember his name) performed acrobatics on a cylindrical device over the ice. Picture a hamster in a wheel, but with an 18-year old athlete rolling around inside, never allowing the wheel to lie flat on the ice. He WOWed us!
Eric Lydon performed on Adult Comedy night, and if you have a chance to see him, DO IT! I cannot tell you the last time I laughed for 30 minutes straight without stopping!
Other performers from dancers to a magician really performed like typical cruise performers, and were entertaining, but didn’t bring the WOW factor.
The Crypt is a late-night club that we visited on the first night, then not again. We really enjoy music and like to dance, however, only hip hop intermingled with some Latin vibes were played during the two hours (or so) we were in the club. A few in our group requested other styles of music – techno and 80s – but the DJ wouldn’t play them. We didn’t return to The Crypt and decided to spend our evenings at other locales because of it.
The Quest – As usual, this is the most fun to be had on the ship! We thought our team had won (and so did the winning team), but I guess we came in second. We really don’t know what happened with the scoring, but our group had so much fun playing that it didn’t matter. If you don’t know about The Quest, just picture a cross between a scavenger hunt and a co-ed wedding shower taken up a notch to an R and sometimes X-rated level. If I told you any more than that, I may have to shoot you. You just need to go participate!
Name the Lyrics – This is a “finish the tune” type of game. Honestly, it was pretty boring, but we went to this because my husband is so good with music lyrics. If he had not been in the contest, continually advancing, and then WINNING it, I would have left from boredom. He’s such a ham and a showman that he kept it interesting. His winnings included a pen, luggage tag, lanyard, waterproof case, hat, and bag all branded with the RCCL logo.
Sexy Legs Contest – RCCL makes this a fun poolside event. This contest was won by a 7-year old which goes to show that you really don’t need to be “sexy” to participate or even win. I really think the crowd makes this game what it is, and contestants respond to the energy and start to get a little crazy.
Ports of Call:
Labadee – We lounged in the sand near Dragon’s Breath to watch the zip lines. The sand was a bit more on the “reefy” side, with some rocks so we ventured about 200 yards away to
Ocho Rios – We took the ship’s excursion to Dunn’s
Before returning to the cruise port, the tour included a stop at a couple of shopping spots. Our favorite was Taj Mahal, as we were looking for a good deal on
After this excursion, we walked to
Cozumel – In this port we grabbed a cab with some cruise friends and headed over to
From Chankanaab we took a cab downtown were we walked through a few shops then found a plaza area where we grabbed a lunch. The plaza area was full of shops and eateries providing outdoor seating perfect for people watching. The area is very village-like and is only one block off of the main drag that takes you to the cruise ship. If you are sailing on Carnival, the ships dock in downtown. If you cruise RCCL like we did, you’ll want to take a cab to enjoy the downtown area.
When we got back on the ship we found out that Flowrider was having an “Adults only” session starting at 3:30 p.m., so we waited in line for about 20 minutes and boy was it worth it! The schedule for Flowrider is posted on the wall across from the Flowrider registration booth. I recommend reviewing it and planning accordingly to better optimize your Flowrider experience. We each enjoyed the Flowrider four times before we simply got too tired. Something to note is that the bottom of the Flowrider is padded, so falls really do not hurt. Important message for females: wear a tank top and shorts over your bathing suit. I lost my shorts and a portion of my bikini bottoms and many women were losing their tops!
We had two sea days on this itinerary, which was just about right for me. My husband would have liked an additional sea day as he likes to relax a bit more. Sea days were spent at the pool deck in the water and simply relaxing in the sun. The sundeck immediately above the Sky Bar was an unofficial topless deck filled primarily with Europeans. There was no sign identifying this deck as a topless deck, but while we were there about half of the women had removed their tops for sunbathing. Nothing was said to them by other passengers or the Deck Patrol and cocktail servers who visited often.
This is the first cruise of our four where I have found lounge chairs any time I needed them. So, even though this ship is so large, and sailed full, there were ample chairs for anyone who wanted to enjoy the sun on the pool deck. The only exception to this being the Solarium, which was fully occupied nearly 100% of the time. Why? The padding on the lounge chairs was wonderful. We were also disappointed that the Solarium was not self-contained, and by that I mean that if you wanted to get something to eat, you needed to leave the Solarium. The only comparison I have is Jewel of the Seas where they served pizza, wraps, sandwiches and crepes in their Solarium.
Because we were in no hurry to leave the ship, we stayed in our cabin as long as we were allowed – until 8 a.m. We had a little breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed to the Champagne Bar where we lounged until about 9:30 or so. We were off the ship by 10 a.m., found our luggage immediately, and grabbed a cab for
Because of the flight schedule from
This was such a fun cruise not only because the ship had something to offer us during any given moment, and the ports of call were inviting and fun, but also because of the friends we made along the way. We are social people, but really connected with people on this cruise and already have plans to sail with them again on Oasis of the Seas! From the activities, to the ports, to the enjoyment of our fellow cruisers, this was a cruise we will always remember!