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QTMichele

No expectations makes for a great FREEDOM cruise! My Story:

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

 

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!)

 

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Koi Pond

 

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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. :eek:

 

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After dinner, we went back to the hotel and prepared Freedom's arrival!

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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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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.

 

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Grills

 

 

 

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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.

 

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The View from our Table (#424)

 

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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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Wow. . .Great review. .Keep em coming !

 

I love the pics !

 

 

 

Radio

;);)

 

 

.

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..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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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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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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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. :)

 

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.

 

..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!!!

 

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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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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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

 

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Our "Warm" Welcome to Cococay

 

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Walking towards "our" beach.

 

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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"

 

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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!

 

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

 

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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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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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Amazing review Michelle - I was on the Freedom for the first time in August!

 

I am freaking out over that SHARK!!!!!!!!!!!!! :eek::eek:

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shark:eek:....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...:D

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

 

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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!!?:eek: 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!:p

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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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..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

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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!!

 

Barefoot Beach is nice. :) Once exiting the tendering area, just keep to your left hand side.

 

I'll write about our "excursions" on the other islands... stay tuned! ;)

 

Amazing review Michelle - I was on the Freedom for the first time in August!

 

I am freaking out over that SHARK!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Hope you enjoyed the Freedom as much as we did!! We didn't freak out over the shark because we were on LAND, but I would have PEED MY PANTS if I had been in the water! :eek:

 

shark:eek:....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...:D

 

I'm right there with you... just don't think about them!

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WHAT!!?:eek: 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!:p

 

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, don't you think?!

 

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!

 

Hopefully you checked out Luckyprincess' review - she included pix too and was on the same sailing. :)

 

Port Canaveral was chilly when we left (60'ish) and down right cold when we returned (32 on my car temperature gauge). The weather improved, but we had a lot of clouds and some rain. Weather could have been a lot better, but, positive thinker that I try to be, it could have been a lot worse (and was, at home).

 

We went on the Mariner at the end of February/first of March - the weather was incredible! I don't remember it raining a drop and the sun was SHINING! Don't worry too much about the weather, we hit unseasonably cold temps.

 

..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

 

I've never seen a shark this big in the ocean this close to shore. It was pretty incredible to see! We thought it was a dolphin at first, especially since we saw several dorsal fins together (4 or 5), but once we saw the tail, we knew it was no dolphin. I'm not sure if this was an unusual sighting or if this is typical??? Either way, I'm glad I was on shore. :)

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Great review Michelle....OMG a shark!! How awesome you captured it on film! Did they (crew) clear the waters or anything? I would of been absolutely terrified......as a mother/grandmother, I can't imagine having my kids in the water at that time!!! :eek: :eek:

 

Love the review and the pictures, just like being there!

 

***

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One more question: What nights were formal nights on your cruise? I'm looking to book the specialty restaurants for this cruise for the nights that aren't formal nights.

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Great review Michelle....OMG a shark!! How awesome you captured it on film! Did they (crew) clear the waters or anything? I would of been absolutely terrified......as a mother/grandmother, I can't imagine having my kids in the water at that time!!! :eek: :eek:

 

Love the review and the pictures, just like being there!

 

***

 

Thanks so much! My sister is the one who captured it on film. :) She has another that shows very small fins in the distance, but it's really hard to make out.

 

We were hiking around the island when we saw the sharks and it took a little while to get back. Once we were back, they were tendering everyone back to the ship. I'm hesitant to say that we didn't report it. :o One reason is that it was time to go, but the "real" reason is that we forgot about the shark because we were looking for my dad and son, but couldn't find them. We were sidetracked.

 

One more question: What nights were formal nights on your cruise? I'm looking to book the specialty restaurants for this cruise for the nights that aren't formal nights.

 

Formal nights were Monday (Cococay) and Friday (sea day). :)

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Here are a few more pictures of Cococay...

 

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Barefoot Beach (as you can see, the chair hogs are out in full force LOL)

 

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Cococay from the tender

 

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Freedom in the Distance

 

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Another Tiger Shark... SCARY!!!

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HEHEHE Sorry... I couldn't resist!!! The first one was real though!!!

 

It was a great day on Cococay, even though the wind was a bit breezy and the temps were a bit cool. I'm so glad I was able to see this island and can't wait to enjoy it on a more favorable weather day (and withOUT sharks!).

 

It's time to get back on the ship and prepare for our first formal night.

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I forgot to mention that the tendering back to Freedom was LONG. Because we waited to find my dad and son (we split up on the nature trail), we were on the late side getting back to the ship (not late, just later in the day). It took us almost an hour of standing in line before we reached the tender. I'm not sure if this is typical, but my guess is that it is. My advice, if you don't want to wait in line that long, is to leave on the early side.

 

Here's what a long day on Cococay will do to you:

 

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Tonight is formal night! We went back to our staterooms straight from the tender to get ready for dinner. Everyone needed showers and I was in charge of getting 3 kids plus myself ready for dinner.

 

Thankfully, it wasn't too bad and we ended up looking pretty okay, don't you think?

 

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Let me back up for a second. We started our evening in the dining room; however, my son was wiped out from his day at the beach (see first picture!). Because I *AM* one of those responsible parents who tries to keep her kids well behaved in public and I was NOT succeeding with my baby this evening, I decided to take him to the Windjammer after 20 minutes of being in the dining room. So, off in our formal clothes we went.

 

Upon entering the Windjammer I immediately noticed two things (I have never eaten in the WJ for dinner). One, it had a nice ambiance - low light, tables somewhat set, tableclothes, etc. And, two, my son and I were way overdressed! LOL The picture doesn't show it, but he had an adorable black sport coat with dark grey slacks (he was wearing his white shirt and red tie too). After we sat down with our new dinner in the WJ, he decided to go into a coughing spell and demonstrate what food looks like alllllll over his cute clothes. Sigh. I hadn't even gotten pictures. I was really disappointed in formal night - no main dining room, no cute clothes for the babe, and no pictures! Thankfully, I had a pair of khakis that worked out fine.

 

After dinner, I took the girls to their first evening in Adventure Ocean. They were excited to go meet some new friends (and they did!). The rest of us spent the evening walking the decks and exploring the ship at night. Tonight's production show was Marquee. I did not go, but my mom went and enjoyed it. After a while of walking the decks, I picked up the kids. They wanted a snack. Sure, why not? Off to Sorrento's we go for a slice of pizza and a little sweet. This would turn into a nightly ritual for us.

 

We returned to our stateroom to find this:

 

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Other critters found included these:

 

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Coming up: Day 3, Sea Day

Edited by QTMichele

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Today is a sea day. I'm really hoping to find good weather today, but learn that it is raining, windy, and cool. Thankfully, the day improved as we went on.

 

I had several things planned for today. Our Meet and Mingle was schedule in Olive or Twist at 10:15 and our Poker Cabin Crawl was scheduled for 1:00 PM. I took my kids and sister to the M&M for a quick hello. The M&M was well attended; however, the Royal employee was terrible. She said a quick hello, gave away a few door prizes, then left. As this was my first M&M, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought there would be a little more effort on our host's part. Several fellow Cruise Critics agreed and told me their previous M&Ms were handled much better. Oh well... I had fun stopping in and was really looking forward to the poker cabin crawl.

 

My girls were begging to get to Adventure Ocean before lunch, so off we went, then I made a stop in the Windjammer for a late breakfast. The girls had to be picked up by noon, so back to AO I went, then back to the WJ for lunch. (Hey, I was on a cruise and calories don't count.)

 

Because AO isn't open at 1, I took my kids to the Solarium (no heart attacks, please... it was just to meet my parents so they could take the kids while I went to the poker crawl) ;). They went swimming in the H2O zone - they LOVED it! My son really loved the baby splash zone where swim diapers are allowed. I'm so glad it was available. On a side note, the pool attendants were out in full force making sure kids with swim diapers were only in the baby zone while keeping kids who weren't in diapers out of the baby zone. It was nice.

 

Off to the poker cabin crawl I went with my brother. We donated our $5 to "charity," then went in groups to see cabins 1656, 9340, 8714, 7575, 6410, and 6214. We drew a card in each stateroom. The player with the best hand in the end won the pot. I'm not sure how much money there was, but it was close to $200, I think. I had 2 pair, but lost to 3 of a kind (kings). Oh well! I had a great time seeing the different cabins, including a junior suite, center hump D cabin, royal family suite (aft), a corner aft cabin, promenade cabin, and a balcony all the way forward with a "bubble" on one side. Seeing the different cabins was a great! I really appreciate my fellow CCers welcoming us into their little piece of real estate! THANKS, guys!

 

Two hours later, I had to take responsibility of my kids again. :) My oldest was in AO, while my other two were still in the water. By 4:30 I had to get my oldest, then off to get ready for dinner.

 

The girls had dinner at Johnny Rockets with Adventure Ocean. I had to sign them up by noon - it was no problem. They were really looking forward to it, but "trouble" was brewing. When I dropped them off, they seated my girls together. Okay, I'm thinking, they will enjoy that. However, they seated several 5 and 6 year olds with my girls. Great for my 6 year old, not so good for my 10 year old. She wanted to sit with her new friends, but the staff seat the kids as they come in. HUH?! I'm not sure why they did this and didn't allow my oldest to sit with her age group, but it was a bummer for her. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but to a 10 year old it is very disappointing.

 

In the meantime, I went to dinner in the MDR and found it to be good. Again, if someone is cooking for me and the food is edible, I don't complain. I found the quality to be similar to good chain restaurants - definitely better than Applebees, but not 5 star dining. I'll take that kind of food any day of the week.

 

The Headliner Show was Beatlemania Live in the Arcadia Theater. I really, really enjoyed this show. There was a bit of comedy thrown in with the music. The audience loved them too - a standing ovation ended the show.

 

Beatlemania Live

 

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My DD's Sea Pass wasn't working, so I went to Guest Relations to get it fixed. Let me say that the staff at this desk were always super friendly and smiling. I had a few business items to take care of through the week, plus reserving babysitting for my son, and getting Sea Pass cards to work properly. There was never a problem. On this trip, one of the Guest Relations staff told me that they reprint between 100 and 500 Sea Pass cards EVERY day. Apparently, the magnetic strip is easily erased by cameras, credit cards, cell phones, etc. Sounds like RCCL needs to look into ways to make their cards more effective.

 

After walking around for a bit, I picked up the girls from AO and went to the Royal Promenade for our snack. The Dancin' in the Street party was going on - busy and crowded, but I managed to get through with the stroller. Something to add about the parades and parties in the Royal Promenade - you CAN hear them in your Promenade room! It sounds like a "thump, thump, boom, boom" (kind-of like a car with the bass turned all the way up - you know what I mean, don't you?). I didn't find it to be too intrusive since it was always finished by 11 or so. If noise bothers you and/or you're an earlybird, then you may want to rethink this type of cabin. For most people though, I think the benefit of having an interior with a window far outweighs any muffled noise.

 

I don't have many pictures from today, but here's one to hold you over...

 

19444_285397236163_502681163_4663005_8158625_n.jpg

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great review so far!

 

Thank you!!! I'm trying to hurry up and finish it, but between my mom duties (including a sick baby :( ) and life in general, it's taking a bit more time than I would have liked. Hopefully I'll get most of it finished tonight.

 

Thanks again for reading!

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Thank you!!! I'm trying to hurry up and finish it, but between my mom duties (including a sick baby :( ) and life in general, it's taking a bit more time than I would have liked. Hopefully I'll get most of it finished tonight.

 

Thanks again for reading!

Hope the baby is feeling better! I've never cruised before with my kids 6 and almost 10 so I'm enjoying hearing about your experience! Did you say you cruised Disney before?

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Hope the baby is feeling better! I've never cruised before with my kids 6 and almost 10 so I'm enjoying hearing about your experience! Did you say you cruised Disney before?

 

Thanks for the well wishes. :) He has a cough and wants to sleep a lot. Hopefully it's nothing too serious. He never wants to sleep much during the day so we shall see... :rolleyes:

 

Cruising with kids is great! It was one of the best vacations I've had with my kids. I didn't have to worry about a thing! And AO was always available if I wanted some "me" time (although I usually had the baby with me so it wasn't quite "me" time lol).

 

I have not cruised Disney - only Royal Caribbean (Mariner and Freedom). My parents and siblings went on a Disney cruise several years ago (maybe 10?). Not sure if I want to try their line because of the expense - I love Disney World (going in October) and all that it offers. Seems to me there is a better value for the money. On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of Disney and feel confident that they offer a great cruise product. We'll see... Are you planning a Disney cruise?

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After another rockin' night on the ship (the wind has been incredible!), we wake up to warmth and sunshine! After a quick breakfast in the Windjammer, we get ready for our day in St. Thomas.

 

St. Thomas was a little difficult for me to plan. There were several ships in port that day so we knew it would be busy, plus, we didn't want to plan an excursion since we really wanted a relaxing beach day. On our own we went... I suggested three beaches to my family: Magens Bay, Sapphire Beach or Secret Harbour. We really wanted to snorkel and then figured we'd try the public transporation instead of the taxis at the pier. Oh my... Now, for those of you not familiar with St. Thomas, the taxis are mostly open air buses and the rates are set. It was going to cost $10 per person each way for our group. If you walk a "few blocks," you can get an almost identical open air bus for $2 per person to take you to Sapphire Beach. Thinking that we would see a little more of St. Thomas, we opted for the second choice. Hmmm...

 

Those few blocks turned into over a mile. Now, I really don't mind walking and generally prefer it; however, St. Thomas looks old and worn out. I really did not enjoy the walk to the bus stop. But we continued on for the sake of "exploration." After walking for about 20 to 30 minutes (remember, we have kids and weren't exactly sure where we were going), we found the bus stop. We were definitely the only tourists there, everyone else was local. We only waited a few minutes before the bus came, then hopped on. About 20 minutes later, we were at our stop and rang the "door bell" apparatus that was on the ceiling of the bus. The driver let us off and we paid. Would I do this again. Nope! Was it terrible? Nope, and I would recommend it to anyone who is on a very tight budget; otherwise, just pay the fee and take the taxi.

 

It had started to rain while we were on the bus (grrr... could our weather get any worse?!), but, thankfully, it stopped by the time we got to our stop. The bus took us to the top of the entrance to Sapphire Beach - a very short walk through the parking lot. No problem.

 

I want to end on a positive note, so let's get the negative out of the way first. There is a restaurant that is closed on this beach. It looks a little run down. There is a dive shop with rentals (chairs, no umbrellas) and a snack bar that is open, but nothing looks overly nice. I realized we weren't at a first class resort, and I was aware of the facilities before going so this wasn't a major deal; however, I would go to another beach with better facilities next time.

 

On the other hand, the view from the beach was beautiful! With the exception of the overcast day and slightly murky water (this was due to all the storms in the area - apparently this wasn't the only beach that wasn't crystal clear). There is a reef along the right side of the beach. I didn't snorkel, but my DD, dad and niece did and saw plenty of fish. My dad saw a stingray too! (Thankfully, NO sharks!)

 

Sapphire Beach

 

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The Snack Area

 

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After several hours off beach time, we took a regular taxi (this was a closed bus - not open air - with seatbelts!) for the price of $10 per person (my 2 youngest kids were free too!). We were back on the ship by 5, then prepared for dinner.

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Dinner tonight was special - we had a birthday party for my DD! She turned 10 on this cruise and we wanted to make it special for her. I preordered the decorations for the stateroom and cake for dinner on her birthday. Both were nice surprises for her (although she had no clue that Mommy and Daddy did these things for her - she thought Royal Caribbean was just that "nice").

 

The crab and noodle salad appetizer was great! I could've ordered that for dinner and been very happy. Yum! After dinner, our head waiter and several other waiters/assistants came to our table with DDs birthday cake and sang happy birthday. She was surprised and quite happy. The cake was good too!

 

She has no clue what's she's getting ready to get!

 

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Here's a picture of the cake - the best close up I have.

 

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After dinner, the girls wanted to go to AO. There was a Pirate's Parade for DD 6's group. They were dressed like pirates and chanted as the marched through the Promenade and dining room.

 

Yo, ho, a Pirate's Life for ME!

 

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The evening's shows included Freedom Ice and Freedom Live Music Concert. I didn't go to either one.

 

I hired babysitters for this evening - they arrived on time and in a pair. I had seen both around the ship and felt comfortable leaving my sleeping baby with them. Then off I went to the Love and Marriage Game Show. As always, it was pretty funny.

 

After the show, I picked up my girls. My birthday girl showed me her birthday gift from Adventure Ocean - a nice beach towel/bag set. Nice surprise! (And free!) Off to Sorrento's for our midnight snack (literally), then back to our stateroom for much needed sleep. This vacation stuff is exhausting!

 

Here's what we found in our stateroom tonight...

 

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Along with our towel animals and Cruise Compass, we found the "laundry special." For $25 you can have your socks, underwear, shorts, t-shirts, swimwear and PJs washed - as long as they fit in the bag. This is a wash and fold service only - no pressing. We didn't take advantage of it, but it's really not a bad deal.

 

Next stop, St. Martin!

Edited by QTMichele

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Here are a few more pictures of Cococay...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free

 

 

Another Tiger Shark... SCARY!!!

19444_290730461163_502681163_4684080_3905096_n.jpg

 

HEHEHE Sorry... I couldn't resist!!! The first one was real though!!!

 

It was a great day on Cococay, even though the wind was a bit breezy and the temps were a bit cool. I'm so glad I was able to see this island and can't wait to enjoy it on a more favorable weather day (and withOUT sharks!).

 

It's time to get back on the ship and prepare for our first formal night.

 

Now, that is hilarious! I recognized right away who it was--even without the description!

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Michelle....

 

We did not see sharks in Coco Cay....however....in the water

park my kids saw a family of manatees...Mom, Dad and baby...

they were so close they could have almost touched them!!!

 

Your review is great! I should write one but I am not so ambitious!

My girls LOVED the cruise and met tons of friends (they are 24,

19 and 15)....mostly boys!!! It figures!! Tom and I also had a great

time as did his Mom!!! The girls are asking me....when can we go

again???

 

I am thinking maybe June 2011....Southern caribbean on the

Adenture of the Seas???

 

Kay

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Great review and pictures! Thanks so much for posting!

 

You're so welcome! And thank you for your compliments. :) I'll finish this over the weekend, with extra pictures of miscellaneous things.

 

Michelle....

 

We did not see sharks in Coco Cay....however....in the water

park my kids saw a family of manatees...Mom, Dad and baby...

they were so close they could have almost touched them!!!

 

Your review is great! I should write one but I am not so ambitious!

My girls LOVED the cruise and met tons of friends (they are 24,

19 and 15)....mostly boys!!! It figures!! Tom and I also had a great

time as did his Mom!!! The girls are asking me....when can we go

again???

 

I am thinking maybe June 2011....Southern caribbean on the

Adenture of the Seas???

 

Kay

 

We love manatees! Did you get any pictures?

 

Thanks for your compliments - I appreciate them! I'd love to hear your overall take of your Freedom cruise. If you don't want to write a review (even a brief summary), please post your comments here. It's been fun to read Melody's experience. Kind-of like reliving it. Can you believe it's been almost a week since we debarked?! :eek:

 

Southern Carib sounds wonderful. My mom and I were talking - next family cruise may be out of San Juan so we are assured of better weather and ports. Haven't sailed on Adventure, but I do like the Voyager class.

 

Take care and please keep in touch!!!

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Now, that is hilarious! I recognized right away who it was--even without the description!

 

Glad you liked it! I was hoping someone would appreciate the timing and the humor. :D

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Here are a few more pictures of Cococay...

 

Another Tiger Shark... SCARY!!!

19444_290730461163_502681163_4684080_3905096_n.jpg

 

HEHEHE Sorry... I couldn't resist!!! The first one was real though!!!

 

It was a great day on Cococay, even though the wind was a bit breezy and the temps were a bit cool. I'm so glad I was able to see this island and can't wait to enjoy it on a more favorable weather day (and withOUT sharks!).

 

It's time to get back on the ship and prepare for our first formal night.

 

 

Now that's funny!!!:D:D:D Great review!

 

Just curious........who was your head waiter???

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