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  #1  
Old January 13th, 2010, 11:20 PM
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QTMichele QTMichele is offline
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Talking No expectations makes for a great FREEDOM cruise! My Story:

How is it possible that I was on the Freedom of the Seas last week, yet it seems like a lifetime ago? Hopefully writing this review will help me relive my memories, give you some useful information, and perhaps offer a little entertainment value.

Before I begin, I'll give you some background. I am Michele (36) and I travelled with my children: DD 9 (turned 10 on the cruise), DD 6, and DS 14 months. My parents (50s), sister (24), brother (23) and niece (14) were on the cruise as well. My hubby was supposed to go, but couldn't due to work demands. I have cruised on the Mariner of the Seas, but this was my children's first cruise. My parents, siblings and niece have at least one cruise under their belts with previous cruises on Disney, Carnival and Navigator of the Seas (first week in January 2009).

Our pre-cruise stay was at the Radisson at the Port. I have mixed feelings about this hotel. It was a good value; however, it shows some signs of wear and tear. On a negative note, I retuned to my room after dinner and saw signs of brown, chunky liquid backed-up in my sink. EWWW! I called the front desk and they sent someone right away; however, the maintenance man did not clean it (he just wiped it out with a rag and said it was from the Draino that he used in the room next door). Honestly, I don't care what it was, don't want to know, and I avoided that sink like the plague. Thankfully, the room had two sinks - one in the bathroom (tub/shower, toilet, sink) and one in the dressing area (this was the nasty one). On a more positive note, the grounds were nice, the staff was helpful, and, overall, the place was clean. We had Sleep Number beds - my first experience with them.

A perk for those driving - this hotel offers a free place to park your car while on your cruise, and includes a free shutle to and from the port. Parking at the port costs $105 for the week (7 day cruise) while the hotel costs $107/night (our rate) making either the hotel or parking free. If you want to use their shuttle service, reserve your shuttle time at the time of booking to get the best available time. We did not use the shuttle because we wanted the convenience of parking at the port.

Here are a few pictures to help break up my wordiness...

Hotel pool, but it was too cold to swim! (Welcome to 60 degree weather!)



Koi Pond



We ate at Grills for dinner. You can watch the ships go by if you get there early enough. The food was decent, certainly edible (I had a blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich), at reasonable prices. Be prepared to wait if you go on a Saturday evening. They do have live entertainment to help pass the time.

Live entertainment at Grills.



After dinner, we went back to the hotel and prepared Freedom's arrival!
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Oasis of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 8 February 2014
Liberty of the Seas, 5 Nights, Western Itinerary, 19 November 2012
Monarch of the Seas, 4 Nights, Bahamas Itinerary, 30 July 2012 - REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 12 February 2012 - Pictorial REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 27 March 2011 - Pictorial REVIEW
Freedom of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 3 January 2010 - Pictorial REVIEW (REVIEW without photos)
Mariner of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 25 February 2007 - REVIEW
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  #2  
Old January 13th, 2010, 11:52 PM
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Default Sunday, January 3, 2010

The next morning we woke up early, went to McDonald's for some gourmet breakfast (yogurt parfait and biscuits, if you must know), then back to the hotel to load ourselves and our luggage into our vehicles. We made our way to PORT CANAVERAL!







This is only my second time at Port Canaveral, and seeing the ships makes me grin from ear to ear. I just love it!

We parked in the outside parking area - felt that it would be quicker to get there instead of the garage parking after disembarkation (it was!). The luggage went to the valets, and off we went to the terminal.

Our check in experience was amazing. There was NO line on the right entrance. We walked right through, up the elevator (I had a stroller) to the main lobby area, then straight to the check in "line" (there was no line). My family and I gave our set sail passes to the check in staff, then, 5 minutes later we were finished. There was a "holding" area since the ship was not boarding yet, but we were told we could board the ship since we had a baby in a stroller (I think the stroller was key!). From our car to the ship was less than 30 minutes. It was AWESOME!



We took the time to tour the ship from bottom to top (the hard way!). It was awesome to be back on Royal Caribbean! Freedom is so much like Mariner in the layout - just bigger with a few more amenities. She felt like home.

We were able to get into our cabins by 1. I couldn't wait to see them! I was the travel coordinator for our family and hoped everyone would love their staterooms. My parents were booked in a junior suite (hump cabin, 9344), while the rest of us were booked in 4 adjoining/connecting promenade cabins (8257, 8259, 8261, 8263).

The junior suite was great - lots of room and plenty of storage space. My mom is a clothes whor... er, hog, and loved the walk-in closet. She was able to fit all her things in the closet without using the additional shelving unit in the stateroom. The hump cabin, I'm told, is basically the same size as any other cabin in its category; however, there is additional space between the curtains and the balcony door (a few feet, actually). This could be useful to those of you who overpack.

The rest of us had the Promenade staterooms. I was really looking forward to checking these out - I never thought I'd be in an inside cabin, but I was surprised to find that I really liked this category. There were two of us in each cabin (except my brother had his own cabin at just over 150% of the single passenger rate). We had plenty of room and then some. Really. And, I waaaay overpacked. Remember, I'm travelling with my three kids, one still in diapers. Not only did I bring "summer clothes," but I brought winter clothes, spring/fall clothes, a stroller, a backpack carrier, beach gear, snorkels, diapers, more diapers, wipes, toiletries, formal attire... shall I go on? Besides the closet space, I used the 4 drawers below the TV in each of the two rooms my kids and I shared - and that's it. Everything fit in those two places. Would I travel in this type of stateroom again? It depends. If my husband was travelling with me, then I'd get a balcony; however, the two staterooms together were less than the price of one balcony. I wouldn't hesitate to book this again if I was travelling with just my kids or needed a low budget option.

My girls' Promenade Stateroom - decorated for my DD's 10th Birthday!



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Oasis of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 8 February 2014
Liberty of the Seas, 5 Nights, Western Itinerary, 19 November 2012
Monarch of the Seas, 4 Nights, Bahamas Itinerary, 30 July 2012 - REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 12 February 2012 - Pictorial REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 27 March 2011 - Pictorial REVIEW
Freedom of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 3 January 2010 - Pictorial REVIEW (REVIEW without photos)
Mariner of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 25 February 2007 - REVIEW
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  #3  
Old January 14th, 2010, 12:05 AM
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Great review...thanks for taking the time to post it!
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  #4  
Old January 14th, 2010, 12:15 AM
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Default Day 1, continued

We continued to explore the ship, had lunch in the Windjammer, made babysitting reservations for my son, then participated in the Muster Drill. It was relatively painless, except for holding my 25 pounder in my arms for 20 minutes or so. I thought my back was going to break. I also thought they'd allow me to go a few minutes early. Wrong. Oh well... I'm not going to complain on vacation!

Sail away was pretty uneventful. It was so cool outside. We tried to enjoy the heli-pad area... tooooooo cold and breezy. A pina colada (or two) helped a little, but we eventually made our way back into the ship and met our parents in Boleros.





Grills





We made our way back to our staterooms to find our luggage had arrived. I unpacked before dinner (8 bags in less than an hour!), then went to the Main Dining Room for our first dinner on the Freedom.



The View from our Table (#424)



Dinner was great (I appreciate fine dining, but appreciate someone else cooking for me even more. I'm not too hard to please!). Having read the reviews of the Vidalia Onion Tart, I ordered one. Could've ordered a few - loved it! I had the quesadillas for dinner - pretty good too (filled with spinach, chicken, onions, cheese). My youngest DD ordered from the children's menu and couldn't have been happier. My oldest DD ordered from the adult menu and couldn't have been happier. My DS ate off of my plate and couldn't have been happier. I was happy that everyone was happy.

The evening's entertainment was the Welcome Aboard Show. Acrobats Duo Mosolov were okay, but I left after a few minutes to get my son to sleep. I missed the comedian, but heard he was funny (Scott Wyler).

A great thing about the Promenade staterooms is the view to the Royal Promenade. Because the first parade is on the first night, and it's late, it was a great way for my kids to be ready for bed while still able to watch the parade. They LOVED it. Afterwards it was time for bed. The ship was rockin' and rollin' from the wind and waves. Little did we know it would last the entire week.
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Oasis of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 8 February 2014
Liberty of the Seas, 5 Nights, Western Itinerary, 19 November 2012
Monarch of the Seas, 4 Nights, Bahamas Itinerary, 30 July 2012 - REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 12 February 2012 - Pictorial REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 27 March 2011 - Pictorial REVIEW
Freedom of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 3 January 2010 - Pictorial REVIEW (REVIEW without photos)
Mariner of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 25 February 2007 - REVIEW
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  #5  
Old January 14th, 2010, 07:41 AM
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I am loving your review Michele!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:05 AM
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What a great review so far!! It's like reliving the cruise - yay!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 08:49 AM
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This is great! Keep it coming...............
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  #8  
Old January 14th, 2010, 09:07 AM
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Wow. . .Great review. .Keep em coming !

I love the pics !



Radio



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  #9  
Old January 14th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Thumbs up Love the review and pics...

..really appreciate the effort. We are sailing Freedom OTS's Sis ship this Summer so this is really "whetting my appetitite".

Mitch
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  #10  
Old January 14th, 2010, 09:43 AM
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This is the review I was looking for... We leave on Freedom in October 24th and have been on Mariner before out of PC. We're so looking forward to this cruise and looking forward to the rest of this review.

Just a quick question: How did you find the service on Freedom compared to the service on Mariner? We found the service on Mariner to be top notch.
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  #11  
Old January 14th, 2010, 10:35 AM
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Default Great review!

What a great review! Thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed review with great pictures. The kids are adorable! We LOVE the Freedom of The Seas. Can't wait to read the rest.
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  #12  
Old January 14th, 2010, 01:30 PM
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QTMichele QTMichele is offline
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Default Thanks, everyone!

Thanks everyone for all the positive comments!!! I'm sorry about breaking up the review, but getting the pictures in takes more time than I'm used to. Not to mention the obligation called "kids" that I have. I will continue the review section this evening.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio View Post
Wow. . .Great review. .Keep em coming !

I love the pics !



Radio
RADIO! I loved your review - am a fan, for sure! If I can do half as good a job doing my review, then I'll have succeeded.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtchg View Post
..really appreciate the effort. We are sailing Freedom OTS's Sis ship this Summer so this is really "whetting my appetitite".

Mitch
Glad I could help whet the appetite, Mitch! You're going to love the Freedom class!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SliderNc View Post
This is the review I was looking for... We leave on Freedom in October 24th and have been on Mariner before out of PC. We're so looking forward to this cruise and looking forward to the rest of this review.

Just a quick question: How did you find the service on Freedom compared to the service on Mariner? We found the service on Mariner to be top notch.
We just loved the Mariner - everything about her! We too found the service to be outstanding on her. Overall, I think Freedom is an incredible ship with incredible service. Just a few things that I found different in regard to service...

The MDR staff on the Mariner knew our names and called us by name each evening. They always served the women first, then the men. On the Freedom, we were never called by name (not a big deal to me) and they took our orders in turn. On the Mariner, our food was always brought out quickly; however, the duration of the meals varied each evening on the Freedom. This really wasn't a big deal, but it was hard to judge how long my son would tolerate sitting in the dining room.

On both ships, we found everyone to be quite pleasant and offered greetings in the main areas of the ship.

Our stateroom attendents on both ships were attentive, but I found the attendent on the Freedom to be more visible to me (this is more a timing issue). Plus, we had all kinds of towel animals on the Freedom - things I had never seen before! I'll post them as we go along.

The Windjammer was the most impressive difference in service to me. On the Mariner, the staff just kind-of existed. They cleared tables, said friendly hellos, and offered few "extras." Freedom's WJ staff went above and beyond all expectations that I had - it was incredible. They brought me a high chair every time I visited, they would bring me drinks, straws, etc., they were always friendly, they stopped to chat, they would carry my plate for me, etc. Really, they were just phenomenal with their pleasantries and service. I really wanted to tip them over and over again!!!

I really think you'll have a fabulous time! It's easy to compare the two ships, but that's not a bad thing.
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Oasis of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 8 February 2014
Liberty of the Seas, 5 Nights, Western Itinerary, 19 November 2012
Monarch of the Seas, 4 Nights, Bahamas Itinerary, 30 July 2012 - REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 12 February 2012 - Pictorial REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 27 March 2011 - Pictorial REVIEW
Freedom of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 3 January 2010 - Pictorial REVIEW (REVIEW without photos)
Mariner of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 25 February 2007 - REVIEW
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  #13  
Old January 14th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QTMichele View Post

The Windjammer was the most impressive difference in service to me. On the Mariner, the staff just kind-of existed. They cleared tables, said friendly hellos, and offered few "extras." Freedom's WJ staff went above and beyond all expectations that I had - it was incredible. They brought me a high chair every time I visited, they would bring me drinks, straws, etc., they were always friendly, they stopped to chat, they would carry my plate for me, etc. Really, they were just phenomenal with their pleasantries and service. I really wanted to tip them over and over again!!!

I really think you'll have a fabulous time! It's easy to compare the two ships, but that's not a bad thing.
I totally agree, Michele! We had never done anything but breakfast/tea time in WJ so we were pretty blown away with the great service in there for dinner! We actually ate in there for dinner a few times! Really good staff, for sure!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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Default Monday, January 4: Cococay, Bahamas

Good morning! After a great night's sleep (from all the rocking of the ship!), we woke up to a hopeful beach day on Cococay. Our lovely weather was overcast and windy with a high of 68 degrees. Not such a great beach day, but still nice to get off the ship and look around the island. After a good breakfast, we tendered to the island without any problems. The tenders were quite rocky!

Tendering to Cococay



Our "Warm" Welcome to Cococay



Walking towards "our" beach.



Upon arriving on Cococay, we decided to explore the island. My DDs and siblings waited at one of the first beaches while the rest of us took a walk along the shoreline. We past Barefoot Beach, then hit the nature trail back to the family waiting on us. We ate a buffet lunch (nothing great, but not bad either), then took the entire family towards Barefoot Beach for the rest of the afternoon.

Barefoot Beach "Entrance"



Barefoot Beach is very quiet and just a short walk from the main area of Cococay. If you're looking for a relaxing day with a handful of other cruisers, then head this direction.

If you're looking for something more remote, then Cococay has that too. In fact, it can get quite remote feeling if you follow the shoreline (you will have to walk in the water at some spots) or follow the nature trail. It was just perfect for our family!



In fact, it can get so remote that you may see this...



Yes, that is a SHARK just 15 feet or so away from the shore! This photo doesn't show it, but there are several more in deeper water just "behind" the shark you can see in the photo. I wasn't worried about becoming lunch as it was too cool for me to enjoy the water, but my dad had been swimming all afternoon getting his workout in. Thankfully the sharks didn't think he smelled all that great.

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Oasis of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 8 February 2014
Liberty of the Seas, 5 Nights, Western Itinerary, 19 November 2012
Monarch of the Seas, 4 Nights, Bahamas Itinerary, 30 July 2012 - REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 12 February 2012 - Pictorial REVIEW
Allure of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 27 March 2011 - Pictorial REVIEW
Freedom of the Seas, 7 Nights, Eastern Itinerary, 3 January 2010 - Pictorial REVIEW (REVIEW without photos)
Mariner of the Seas, 7 Nights, Western Itinerary, 25 February 2007 - REVIEW
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  #15  
Old January 14th, 2010, 04:27 PM
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Hi Michele, great review!! We will be on the FOS again in May, we can't wait. The same itinerary, which way is it to barefoot beach once on the island? That looks nice. Did you do any excursions are the other islands? I will read more of your review and find out. Great pictures!!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:05 PM
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Amazing review Michelle - I was on the Freedom for the first time in August!

I am freaking out over that SHARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:15 PM
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shark....I know they are out there but when I am in the ocean I don't think about them...purposely

oh gosh...that would have freaked me out...
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QTMichele View Post
In fact, it can get so remote that you may see this...



Yes, that is a SHARK just 15 feet or so away from the shore! This photo doesn't show it, but there are several more in deeper water just "behind" the shark you can see in the photo. I wasn't worried about becoming lunch as it was too cool for me to enjoy the water, but my dad had been swimming all afternoon getting his workout in. Thankfully the sharks didn't think he smelled all that great.
WHAT!!? Michele, I was on the same trail and running through the water like a kid and if I had known those thingies were there I would have been back on the ship! Lol! Wow - so glad I didn't know, I think!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 05:38 PM
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thanks for the review!! I have been waiting patiently for a new one with pictures! I will be sailing the Freedom next month and I have also been on the Mariner! It looks like it was quite cold in Port Canveral..how about the weather on the rest of the cruise? I have never sailed in February so I don't really know what to expect as far as weather. We are doing the Western itenerary so it might be a little different for us as far as weather..We are also staying at the Raddisson. I have stayed there twice before and I do agree with you that the grounds are lovely but the rooms are showing thier age...can't wait for the rest of your review!
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Old January 14th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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Red face Wow...

..love the shark fin pic..hmmm; Once when I was scuba diving our group spotted a smaller
tiger shark; but yours ain't so small; looks like he/she was trolling for "lunch".

Mitch
__________________
Carnival and Royal Caribbean Platinum

Rhapsody of the Seas 05/24/13
Independence of the Seas 07/03/10
Carnival Fantasy 09/05/09
Carnival Freedom 01/12/08
Carnival Fantasy 02/05/07
Norwegian Star 10/21/06
Jewel of the Seas 11/01/05
Rhapsody of the Seas 02/06/05
Splendour of the Seas 01/26/04
Carnival Conquest(adors!) 01/11/04
Paradise 03/02/03
Carnival Spirit 01/03
Carnival Legend 12/02
Carnival Victory 04/02
Sensation 01/02
Carnival Triumph 11/01
Imagination 11/00
Paradise 01/00
Holiday 11/98
Norway (the late, great) 1986
Mardi Gras 1986
(original CCL vessel)
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