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Middle Aged Drama Queen's Eastern Carib Review: Fun on the FREEDOM!!!

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Welcome, everyone, to my trip report/review of the always-fabulous Freedom of the Seas! If you read my recent Serenade of the Seas epic novel, well…kudos to you for your endurance powers! I promise that THIS review won’t be so…um…wordy. I had less days (7, as opposed to 12 on the Serenade) and less family (2, as opposed to 5) to work with…so not as much drama (which can be a GOOD thing, believe me!) but just as much fun, trust me!

 

 

First, a little background: As mentioned above, our family had JUST sailed on the Serenade of the Seas (June 22-July 4) for an epic 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise. We had an amazing time, especially with the ports and the people, but we found some things on the Serenade lacking, particularly the quality of the food, the activities and shows, and the service (SOME service; not everywhere, mind you!). Hubby Mike had declared that he wouldn't sail on RCI again, and wanted to explore other cruise lines. However...I've always liked RCI...and got to wondering...which is always scary. Were the food issues only on the Serenade? Were the lack of activities only on the Serenade? Things that make you go, "Huh...I wonder....?" It can drive me NUTS to wonder about things and not know the answers...So…wondering if the “cutbacks” – as I deemed them – were fleet-wide within RCI, I decided to do some further research…and the best way, I figured, to research, was to hop on another cruise. Right? THAT way, I'd find my answers I was looking for.

 

 

So...how would the quality of the food be on a different RCI ship? How would the activities rate? How would the cruise director rate? How would the people of Guest Services rate? THESE were my questions...I needed answers.

 

 

On a whim, I booked myself and my (almost) 13-year old daughter, Mickey, on the July 15-22nd sailing of the Freedom of the Seas. Truly, the purpose of this cruise was for comparison’s sake…oh heck, who am I kidding? The real purpose of this trip was to have some fun in the Caribbean, as well as sneaking in some quality Mother-Daughter bonding time. The boy Klingons were back in Kansas City, with one returning to his job, and the other, seeking a summer job. No more summer cruising for them - such are the "joys" of adulthood.

 

 

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Mother & Daughter

 

With this in mind, this trip was a surprise for Mickey. I don't really know WHY I wanted it to be a surprise...maybe because I've never been able to pull off the "We're going to DISNEY!!" surprise - or even a surprise birthday party...and darn it, just ONCE, I wanted to surprise my kids. Just once. Because…I am not one to keep a surprise – OR a secret. Yup – I’ll be honest. Do NOT tell me anything you don’t want known, because I’ll blast it out there via Facebook, Twitter, my blog, or my big mouth…oh, I don’t MEAN to spill it, but it just…happens….so it was amazing – AMAZING, I tell you – that I managed to pull off this little surprise. (My kids are just like me when it comes to secrets…I’ll never forget Brainy Brad when he was 5 years old, coming in one night and saying, “I’m not supposed to tell you that we bought you a leather coat for Christmas.” Gah. Like mother, like son.)

 

 

Anyway…back to the cruise…our family arrived back in Kansas City from Europe on July 5th from our Serenade sailing; I’d previously made plans for Mickey and I to travel to Florida on July 8th for a few weeks at our vacation home in Ft. Myers. As we were packing for our Florida adventure, I oh-so-casually mentioned that she might want to “throw in the dresses you wore on the Serenade” – in case we decided to “go someplace fancy to eat in Ft. Myers.” Man, I’m good. :rolleyes:

 

 

So, Mickey and I arrive in Ft. Myers and have a fabulous week in the sun, lounging on the beach, working on our golden tans. Okay. Not really. I made that up. Ft. Myers was being inundated with torrential rain the entire first week we were there, so we actually sat around the house every day, while she voraciously read her Kindle and I voraciously wrote my Serenade trip report. You’re welcome.

 

 

As it got closer to July 15th, our Embarkation day on the Freedom, I began dropping bits into our conversation such as, “Wow. It sure is raining a lot. Maybe we should go over to the east side to see if they have sun?” Or another gem: “Hmmm…we’ve never checked out Cocoa Beach. We should pack up a suitcase and go spend a few days there.” Again…I am SO smooth.

 

 

So, the evening of July 14th, I pulled out a suitcase, and told Mickey to pack up…that I was sick, just SICK of the rain, and we were heading to Cocoa Beach to search out the sun. And, “Oh – throw in some of your nice dresses that you wore on the Serenade – we may go to some fancy, schmancy restaurants over there.” (I had to do this; otherwise, how were we going to get formal wear in our bags???!! For a supposedly week at the beach??!! Surprises require creativity – and I am just FULL of it. Creativity, that is. Among other things. :p)

 

 

Early on the morning of July 15th, we hopped in the car and began the (almost) 4-hour drive across Florida to Port Canaveral – which is close enough to Cocoa Beach that my (almost) 13-year old daughter, who never pays attention in the car anyway, unless we happen to be passing a McDonald’s, would never question. We needed to stop for breakfast at one point, and Mickey INSISTED it be, what else?, McDonald’s, so I ended up slurping a Diet Dr. Pepper along the way…which turned out to NOT be such a wise decision.

 

 

As we’re leaving Orlando behind us, and heading into the swampy, jungles of no-man’s land that is between The House of Mickey Mouse and Port Canaveral, I realize I need the…um…facilities. That darned Diet Dr. Pepper. Of course, there ARE no facilities in the swampy jungles east of Orlando, unless I want to park and wander into the muck and mire and find a big bush – but with my luck, I’d find a giant alligator, as well - and so I am increasingly uncomfortable. However – using my creativity – I decided to use my pea-sized bladder to my advantage. As we got closer to Port Canaveral, I began saying, “Man…I need a restroom. Maybe in Port Canaveral, there’ll be a place to go.”

 

 

Soon, it was about 11:15 am, and we were driving over the bridges where you can see the beautiful cruise ships off in the distance…the Disney…the Carnival…the Freedom.... My excitement was almost palpable, but I still oh-so-casually said, “Huh. A port. Wonder if there’s a restroom facility down there where the ships are?” Mickey shrugs; my increasingly-uncomfortable situation is not her concern at this point. When I saw the exit for the Freedom of the Seas, I pulled off, looked at Mickey and said, “There HAS to be a restroom by that ship…we’ll just park the car and see if we can find one. They won’t mind.”

 

 

So…she NEVER questioned the fact that I pulled into the Port Canaveral cruise parking terminal, grabbed a ticket, and parked the car. And I managed to find a parking place within 25 feet of the porters who were collecting suitcases. Nope. In her innocent naivety, she still assumed I was on the hunt for a restroom. Although…she was getting a little nervous…”Mom…are you SURE you can park here?” She glanced around nervously at the HUGE ship, right in front of us, and the chaos of arriving & departing passengers.

 

“Oh, sure,” I said. “We’re just looking for a restroom.”

 

And then, I got REALLY creative. Or devious. Whichever way you want to call it.

 

“HEY!” I squealed. “What if we tried to get on that ship???!!! I’m sure the ship has a restroom.”

 

She looks over at the Freedom (which, by the way, is jaw-dropping beautiful when you’re right up beside her - I was almost speechless...almost – probably how I’d feel if I was to suddenly find myself right beside Angelina Jolie or Meryl Streep, but I digress) and she visibly swallows.

 

“We CAN'T just go get on the ship,” she says, although I can see she’s a bit tempted. Sometimes, she has to be the practical ying to my crazy yang.

 

“Why not?” I ask. “All they can do is say no,” I add. “Let’s go try! I’ll tell them I’m DESPERATE for a bathroom…too much Diet Dr. Pepper. They’ll understand.”

 

 

I grab the suitcase out of the trunk (which - if Mickey was paying attention, but she NEVER is, and I knew this, being her mother - she would have seen our RCI luggage tag attached to the suitcase…but she was oblivious) and wheeled it over to the porter.

 

The porter’s exact speech: “I work for tips, and if you want your suitcase to get on the ship, and to get on the ship in a timely manner, I can make sure that happens, especially when I work for tips, so I’m just saying, that with a tip, I’ll handle your suitcase.”

 

Okay. We get it. You expect a tip. So I tipped him. (And just a note – our suitcase didn’t make it to our room until right before dinner at 7:00 pm. AND - a wheel on the bottom had been snapped off. Perhaps I didn’t tip enough??!! Or perhaps tips don't make a darn bit of difference....)

 

 

I had surreptitiously pulled out our passports and our Seapass documents and had them in my hand, flashing them at each security stop along the way, the whole time chatting with Mickey. It went like this:

 

Me: “Well…we got past THAT guy. I wonder how far they’ll let us get on the ship?”

Mickey: “Mom. We shouldn’t be doing this.”

Me: “Why not? All they can do is say no.”

Mickey: “Mom. We shouldn’t be doing this.”

Me: “Why not? We’re not sneaking on. We’re going through the lines, just like everyone else.”

 

When I showed our documents and passport to the REALLY official looking security guy, the one with the stripes and badge and stuff, he very carefully looks at everything, and says to Mickey, “You….” And she gulps…”look fine,” and then indicating me, he says, “But YOU! You look like trouble.” Wow. How did he KNOW??!!! Dang, he was good. He says to Mickey, "Keep an eye on her...and have a good time."

 

 

Okay. Perhaps it was cruel to carry on the surprise for this long…especially seeing Mickey’s increasing nervousness about “getting caught”…but it was almost comical. The lines were relatively very short, and we were moving along at a fast pace, and I finally couldn’t hold back any longer. Especially as we were going into the Diamond line and walking up to actually check-in and get our Seapass cards. Not to mention, I was about ready to have a heart attack. I mean, if you've cruised before, you KNOW how your heart races and how excited you get when you're actually inside the building and getting ready to check in...it's EXCITING!!! But...combine that with the excitement of trying to pull off the Surprise-of-the-Day, and I'm pretty much trembling. Something's gotta' give. It wouldn't do Mickey any good to have her mom drop dead in a faint at this time...

 

 

“Okay,” I confessed. “We really ARE going on this ship. We’re going on a cruise.”

 

:eek:

 

Mickey’s face was priceless at this moment. Shock. Disbelief. Wanting to believe. But still not quite believing. And then – she punches me.

 

Yup. Punched me in the arm. Ow.

 

“GAH!” she says. “I can’t believe you DID that!!!”

 

But I did. And it was great.

 

We're issued our Seapass cards, we walk and take our photo, and we're walking on to the ship.

 

So…now…on to the ship. And what a ship it is.

 

But...I really DO have to find a restroom. Let's hope - with the immensity of this ship - they DO take into account mothers who have drank way too much Diet Dr. Pepper along the way....

 

 

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Yeaaahhh..first to view. I feel so special :) Love you, Sherri..you're my CC Idol..Rock On!!

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Yeaaahhh..first to view. I feel so special :) Love you, Sherri..you're my CC Idol..Rock On!!

 

Hee hee...love it. :D

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Can't wait to hear the details on your mother-daughter adventure! Just finished up your Serenade review & already making plans for our first Mediterranean adventure with friends. All of your detailed information is going to save me hours or days of research. Thanks again for taking time to post your wonderful reviews.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

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Walking down the hallway…before you get on the ship…really, is there anything more exciting?! Okay…yes. There probably ARE things more exciting – like getting your driver’s license, or getting married, or having a baby…but still. THIS ranks up there in the excitement –o-meter, at least for me.

 

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We're here! We're really here!

 

 

Mickey is pretty much still in a complete state of shock at this point…so I’m sure her first hour or two onboard is a complete blur. Mine is also a blur, but for a different reason. I’m lost. No. Really. I’m totally lost on this ship. Keep in mind, the LARGEST ship we’ve ever sailed on are the Radiance-class ships, which are nothing, NOTHING, compared to the Freedom. This is a whole-new ballgame for us. We enter the ship on Deck 4, and of course, our first stop is the restroom, thank goodness. I give snaps to the designers of the ship, who DID indeed think of poor mothers who’ve drank waaaaay too much Diet Dr. Pepper and need a restroom very quickly. Whew. NOW we can go explore the ship. But where to start???!!!

 

 

I am directionally-challenged, if you remember. I can get lost in my own driveway…so the Freedom IS a bit intimidating when you first board. However, I must say…there are little tools that have been thoughtfully placed on the ship to help those of us who are perpetually lost. By every elevator, you will find these AWESOME touch-screen interactive menus:

 

 

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SNAPS to whomever invented these!!!! My LIFESAVER!!!!

 

 

With a touch of the finger, you can pull up the Daily Cruise Compass:

 

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How cool is THAT??!!

 

 

I LOVED this feature, as it meant I didn’t always have to carry around a hardcopy of the CC. On previous cruises, Hubby Mike and I would often fight over the CC – as to who got to carry it. We finally just asked for two copies to be left in our stateroom each night, but what a waste of paper…these touch screens are the way to go! I could also check out the Teen activities (or Adventure Ocean) with a touch of the finger...so I would know where Mickey should have been (but never was...we'll get to that.)

 

 

You could also pull up a venue and get more information about it:

 

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Wanna' know more about the Casino Royale? Here you go!

 

Here, I’ve pulled up the Casino. You could get the hours of operation, who it was designed for, where it was located…awesome!

 

I could ALWAYS find where the nearest restroom was located, the activities onboard, where our stateroom was located…I LOVED THESE SCREENS!

 

These screens were also helpful in telling you what time it was (because I hate, hate, HATE wearing a watch...anyone else like that?), as well as the day, and you could change the language:

 

fos17.jpg

 

So...now we've got our map...let's go explore the ship...with my crappy camera.....

 

 

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Sherrie,

Loved your review of the Serenade and will be glued to CC for the rest of this review.

 

We are almost neighbors, at least when you are in FL. Thinking of maybe doing Freedom next year. Was on Liberty in April and trying to decide between Freedom and Indy for Mar or Apr., 'Doing' the Allure in Dec.

 

Like you, we love Radiance class but also really liked Liberty. Having the Diamond Lounge adds to that small ship feeling of seeing the same folks often.

Edited by jebl

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Here is another mostly lurker chiming in on your excellent writing! I even checked out your blog. I love how far you managed to carry the surprise. We did the Disney surprise 4 years ago when the our boys were 5 & 7, but told them in the airport parking lot.

 

We are headed out on the Independence of the Seas for spring break in March, so I am anxious to hear your impressions of the Freedom. We were on Carnival Legend a few years ago and my husband felt that the ship lacked windows and a feeling that you were at sea. Did you still feel like you were at sea on the Freedom? How did it compare in that sense to the Serenade?

 

I hope to be lucky enough to run into you on a cruise sometime :)

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Greetings from another Florida "neighbor" - our vacation home (soon to be our full time home) is in Estero.

 

You're right, those screens are fantastic - we encountered them for the first time on Oasis in March - they're really helpful on the huge ships.

 

Your Serenade review was fabulous - loved our Southern Caribbean cruise on Serenade several years ago - you've really piqued my interest in a Mediterranean trip now!

 

Looking forward to reading about your most recent adventures!

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Oh I love the surprise! Can I share my most successful surprise?? We managed to make it all the way through the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (morning sickness and all), into the hospital, all the way to the perinatologist's office and doing an ultrasound before my two older kids figured out they were getting a baby. It was great! I didn't think we'd be able to pull it off, the oldest was 9 at the time, and smart as a whip..but unfortunately that smart head is almost always stuck somewhere in the clouds:rolleyes: - so I guess we had that in our favor. Sorry, off topic, but the surprise back good memories for me!

 

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us!

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Awesome so far!! Can't wait for the rest.

 

As an aside, I'm also terrible at keeping secrets/surprises. And, my husband knows me so well that I don't even have to say anything to give something away - he usually guesses what's going on!

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We were on Carnival Legend a few years ago and my husband felt that the ship lacked windows and a feeling that you were at sea. Did you still feel like you were at sea on the Freedom? How did it compare in that sense to the Serenade?

 

I hope to be lucky enough to run into you on a cruise sometime :)

 

Aw, thank you!

 

To answer your question: yes. If I had one complaint about the Freedom (and trust me - I really don't), it's that lack of "being on the sea" feeling that I so love with the Radiance-class ships. I DID indeed miss that, compared to the Serenade. I mentioned it several times while onboard to Mickey, so yes, it did bother me.

 

With that said...I LOVED the Freedom, as you will see! :)

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Loved your last review! We were on Serenade in Feb and will be on Liberty in Dec. Are the Freedom class ships really that much bigger? You have me wanting to go to the Med- hubby is not 'on board' with the idea yet. After Liberty we are going to try Allure. Can't wait to hear more about your Freedom cruise.:)

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Great surprise Sherri! I wanted to keep the Allure cruise a surprise for Steve's 40th.... you can see how well that worked. ;)

 

Mickey's of the age that if you're convincing enough, she'll still believe you. I pull stuff that like on my students all the time. It's what makes teaching middle school so fun. :D

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I was having so much fun with those touch screen menus by the elevators, I could have sat there all day. (And in my defense...I wasn't the only one. There were several other people playing with them, too. Of course...those "people" were all 8 years old and younger...but hey! They were so much FUN!) Mickey finally dragged me away so we could explore the ship and try...TRY...to get our bearings.

 

 

Technically, the FOS is listed with 15 decks…although some of these decks aren’t really utilized much by the passengers – if at all. Did you know there are over three miles of public corridors?! THREE miles!!! And we'd feel that we walked three miles, and then some, just about every day. Here's a tip: to fully enjoy - and appreciate - these larger ships, be sure to start a walking program ahead of time. No joke. I'm dead serious. Your feet and hamstrings will thank you.

 

 

Anyway, we’ll start our tour on the top deck and work our way down – as Mickey and I found it easier to utilize the stairs this way. Gravity is always your friend.

 

Deck 15 has the Skylight Chapel – and nothing else. We never found it – so, sorry, no photos of it. I'm sure it is beautiful - and would be a great place to get married in - but we just weren't feeling it on this sailing.

 

 

Deck 14 has only a few public venues…the Viking Crown Lounge, the Cloud Nine Lounge, the Seven of Hearts card room, the Diamond Lounge, and the Olive or Twist nightclub. So...we pretty much named it the Adult Drinking Deck.

 

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I just like saying the name of this place...what a clever play on words....

 

 

We would visit these areas to take a peek, but we didn’t utilize them. Traveling with my (almost) 13-year old, I couldn’t utilize the Diamond Lounge in the evenings. The Diamond Concierge had left a voice mail on the phone with STRICT instructions that no children under 18 were to be in the Diamond Lounge in the evening, period, and we heeded those instructions. Did I miss the Lounge? Yes. Yes, I did, actually. Whether it’s the Concierge Lounge OR Diamond Lounge, I enjoy sitting and relaxing before heading to dinner. I would have enjoyed sitting with some fellow adults, chatting about the ship or the ports...but it was not to be on a Mother/Daughter trip. You'll see this theme often in this review - where I didn't really utilize the more "adult" areas of the ship, like the bars or lounges, in deference to spending time with my daughter. When I convince Hubby Mike to sail with me on the Freedom - and trust me, I'm working on him already - THEN I can go back into "adult" mode. So to speak. As much of an "adult" as I can manage, hee hee.

 

 

Enough. Back to the tour. Heading on down to Deck 13, this is where you can find a lot of the sports stuff…

 

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The signage on the FOS was VERY helpful....

 

 

The monstrous rock-climbing wall is over 43’ tall…supposedly one of the largest - if not THE largest - rock walls that RCI has. Mickey was too chicken to try, and I was too old. Okay. In full disclosure...I was chicken, too.

 

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Yup. We took one look at that monster, and said, "No way. No how." We flapped our chicken wings and walked off.

 

 

The 9-hole miniature golf course looked fun – and we had good intentions of playing on it – but we never did. It was always pretty busy, other than when we first got onboard ship, of course, and I managed to snag this AWESOME (if I do say so, myself) photo:

 

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We should have been playing NOW, when it was EMPTY! Gah!

 

 

There was a huge, full-size court for basketball, volleyball, and such…here’s where I missed Too-Tall Taylor, as I knew he would have LOVED this.

 

There are also some ping-pong tables back here, and other than the first day, while touring, we never came back to play. So sad. But – I always tell myself these are the good excuses to come BACK and sail again! To do the things you didn’t get around to the FIRST time, right?!

 

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Bring it on, Mom....

 

 

Of course, the main draw on Deck 13 is the Flowrider…the boogie-boarding or surfing simulator that looked like a TREMENDOUS amount of fun. Although we never did it, we really, really enjoyed watching those brave enough to try.

 

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Here it is...dry. I'll have more photos of it "wet" later....

 

 

There are wooden benches circling the Flowrider to relax and observe the fun, but be careful…if you take an expensive camera, there’s a reason it’s called the SPLASH ZONE....!!! Because of some recent incidents, they don’t allow tricks anymore on the Flowrider – by staff or passengers – so be forewarned.

 

More to come...down to Deck 12...then Deck 11...well. You get the idea.

 

 

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Loved your last review! We were on Serenade in Feb and will be on Liberty in Dec. Are the Freedom class ships really that much bigger? You have me wanting to go to the Med- hubby is not 'on board' with the idea yet. After Liberty we are going to try Allure. Can't wait to hear more about your Freedom cruise.:)

 

Yes. Yes, it's that much bigger...BUT! After the first day, we had acclimated, so to speak, and were used to it. It's like the Serenade - on steroids. If you can figure out aft from bow...you're ahead of the game!

 

I swore up and down I would never sail on a ship bigger than the Radiance... and here I was. And I am HOOKED. :)

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I'm happy to hear from all of my Florida neighbors...especially Estero! Wow! You literally are right down the road from me! We love southwest Florida...it's just very laid back, and very pretty...and yes. It's hot. But that's what pools and a/c was invented for!!!

 

I'm also tickled to hear about everyone's surprises - whether they "worked" - or didn't work!!! I was BUSTING to tell her...BUSTING! But I pulled it off. Don't know if I can do that again or not, thought, as that was HARD.

 

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and reading...more to come...more photos to come...more surprises to come...

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Aw, thank you!

 

To answer your question: yes. If I had one complaint about the Freedom (and trust me - I really don't), it's that lack of "being on the sea" feeling that I so love with the Radiance-class ships. I DID indeed miss that, compared to the Serenade. I mentioned it several times while onboard to Mickey, so yes, it did bother me.

 

With that said...I LOVED the Freedom, as you will see! :)

 

Thanks, I sort of figured it would be like that. I am hoping the difference will be that there are more outdoor activities, like the rock wall & flowrider to keep us up on the outdoor decks. The Legend just had the pool, mini golf and basketball. We do also have a balcony. Looking forward to hearing more!

 

We need to pool our money to keep you cruising and writing reviews!

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Great review! Thanks for taking the time to write a review and share your experiences with us. Looks like a fun time was had by all!:)

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Woo hoo! FINALLY--the long-awaited FOS review! I can't wait--we're sailing in 64 days!

 

If writing cruise reviews was an Olympic event, you would certainly have won the Gold for your Med. Cruise review--best review ever! I'm a fellow Kansas City-ite (we're in Liberty)--and now a huge fan of the Middle Aged Drama Queen! Keep writing! :D:D

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Thanks, I sort of figured it would be like that. I am hoping the difference will be that there are more outdoor activities, like the rock wall & flowrider to keep us up on the outdoor decks. The Legend just had the pool, mini golf and basketball. We do also have a balcony. Looking forward to hearing more!

 

We need to pool our money to keep you cruising and writing reviews!

 

I think you'll be fine, then, especially with a balcony. We did NOT have a balcony (first time without one - and I missed it), which I think would have helped my "claustrophobia" a bit.

 

And yes. Pool your money and send me on another cruise. I'm already going into withdrawal. :D

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Woo hoo! FINALLY--the long-awaited FOS review! I can't wait--we're sailing in 64 days!

 

If writing cruise reviews was an Olympic event, you would certainly have won the Gold for your Med. Cruise review--best review ever! I'm a fellow Kansas City-ite (we're in Liberty)--and now a huge fan of the Middle Aged Drama Queen! Keep writing! :D:D

 

I LIKE that - the Gold Medal! I would sleep with it under my pillow, if given the chance!!!

 

I'm south...Lake Winnebago...the boonies of Cass County. :D

 

Can I sneak into your luggage with you on your upcoming cruise??!!

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Sherri,

 

We were on this sailing as well, if I can jump ahead, did you happen to do a private excursion on St. Maarten?

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So…Deck 12…

 

At the very front of the ship (bow, for all you technical people), there is the Freedom Day Spa. I do NOT know what it is about spas (she’s her mother’s daughter, perhaps?), but Mickey is drawn to spas like a moth to flame. Seriously…she would grow roots and LIVE in a spa, if given the opportunity. I think she’s under the misguided belief that there are Fairy Godmothers who live in the Spa and will turn you from an Ugly Duckling into a Beautiful Swan in one visit. She doesn’t realize that A. that’s not gonna’ happen, and B. it costs a small fortune. Anyway…we DID visit the spa on this cruise, and I’ll review our experiences later.

 

Leaving the spa, you encounter the upper deck of the pool area. Besides loungers, there’s an awesome Jogging Track.

 

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I loved those little stick figures. Seriously. What a great idea. If you’ve ever jogged on a ship track, you’ll appreciate these, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been jogging along and inadvertently ran over a walker who “switches” lanes at the last minute. With that said. I NEVER went jogging. I have a very good excuse, which you’ll hear about later.

 

 

 

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So simple...and yet so smart.

 

And can I say, another good idea? I am just in awe of this ship. Seriously? A water fountain on a ship jogging track?! I am in HEAVEN!!!! But drat…no more excuses to stop at the Sky Bar while jogging and pick up a little adult refreshment.

 

 

The Sky Bar is located on Deck 12. And here’s another difference I had on this ship…besides not being able to utilize the “adult” areas. I didn’t get involved with my CC Roll Call before this sailing, as I pretty much booked at the last minute. Consequently, I didn’t have any friends. (Cue the violin music, please.) If there was a Sailaway Party at the Sky Bar, I missed it. I missed my CC friends that I’d made on the Serenade. So…a tip. GET INVOLVED WITH YOUR ROLL CALL. It will really add to the cruise experience, trust me.

 

 

While we were way up on Deck 12, we noticed we could see the parking lot where our car was parked. We thought that was cool.

 

fos4-1.jpg

See the silver car? That's us.

 

Our car is literally, like, RIGHT THERE. That’s how close the parking is to the ship. Amazing, huh?

 

 

Heading towards the back (or aft – impressed much?) of the ship, we encounter the Kiddie Area…we’ve got the Nursery, Adventure Ocean, and the Teen Area.

 

Let’s talk kids for a minute. I am pretty positive there were children on this particular cruise…I mean…really. It’s July – no school – and the ship is pretty child-friendly. With that said…I NEVER SAW THEM! Really. I kid you not, the FOS crew must have draped all the children in Invisibility Cloaks (shout out to Harry Potter), because they were non-existent. So…either the FOS is designed especially well to hide the children…or they were flying under my radar. I’m just mentioning this because I’ve read a lot of reviews where people complain about the excessive children running around. Barbarians are bad enough, but when they’re under 4’ tall and are loud and noisy and clumsy, then it can be dreadful, for some cruisers. But, again – I never noticed them.

 

However. There WAS a group onboard who were not, unfortunately, invisible. And they were loud. And they were somewhat…annoying. We’ll talk about that particular group later.

 

 

 

Fuel.jpg

Never to be seen again by us on this cruise....sigh.

 

The Teen Fuel Disco and Living Room are located on Deck 12, as well. I tried and tried and tried to convince Mickey to get involved in the Teen Club…to no avail. She claims that ALL the teenagers onboard…yes…EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM…had already buddied up into cliques before we got onboard at 11:30 am. Amazing, huh? I KNOW. So…she wasn’t about to try and break through those pre-established cliques, no matter what I tried to bribe her with. No way, no how. Therefore…I cannot review the Teen Club and activities. If I could have passed myself off as a 14-year old, I would have been there, as it looked fun.

 

 

 

fos29-1.jpg

Just a small part of the Monstrous Arcade...yikes. Can you imagine how much $$$ Mickey could have rang up HERE if given free reign? I shudder to think about it...

Speaking of bribes…the one thing I did NOT bribe her with was access to the Arcade, located right by the Teen area. Nope. After the debacle on the Serenade, where Mickey racked up an astonishing $220 in charges, she was BANNED from the arcade. Yes. I am a MEAN mama…and I like it. Oh, she tried to pass it off like she wouldn’t really miss it, but I could see her looking longingly at the Arcade-On-Steroids as we passed by. So sad, too bad.

 

 

 

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Feeling hungry???

 

Our last area to visit on Deck 12 is the famous Johnny Rockets, the delicious 50’s diner. We used our Diamond coupon from our C&A book and had lunch here one day, which I’ll talk about later….The main purpose of that visit was to embarrass my daughter, because hey? Isn’t that what Mother/Daughter trips are FOR??!!!

 

Moving on....

 

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Sherri,

 

We were on this sailing as well, if I can jump ahead, did you happen to do a private excursion on St. Maarten?

 

Yes! We did Bernard's tour...were you on that??

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Yes! We did Bernard's tour...were you on that??

 

Yeah, I'm pretty sure we were on your bus with 'Sexy' as the driver. I think you and your daughter were sitting behind us (if not it was another mother and daughter there by themselves.)

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Yes! We did Bernard's tour...were you on that??

 

Loving the detail in your review - we're heading on our first ever cruise for our honeymoon in September! And we are hoping to book this excursion so can't wait to hear about it!!

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Yeah, I'm pretty sure we were on your bus with 'Sexy' as the driver. I think you and your daughter were sitting behind us (if not it was another mother and daughter there by themselves.)

 

YES! We had Sexy! That was us...we were on the right side of the bus, right by the door. And I had a hard time getting in and out of that seat, which you'll read about later...so if I was ever slow and held you up, I'm sorry! :(

 

But yes...that was Mickey and I!

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We’re now down to Deck 11…our favorite deck!

 

Really. We LOVE Deck 11…because, when you think about it, this is the ONLY deck you need to survive on a cruise ship. Yup. You’ve got the gym, the pool and the buffet. What else do you possibly need?

 

A bed? Pffffft. Just sleep on the lounger by the pool. A shower? Pfffft. Just use the gym showers.

 

If Mickey can grow roots and live in the spa, then I can grow roots and live on Deck 11 (which would take "Chair Hog" to a whole new level.)

 

Let’s start with the gym. Wait. The “Shipshape Fitness Center”, officially.

 

fos11-1.jpg

Who says, "Honey, I'm going to the Shipshape Center?" I mean, really...we ALL say, "I'm going to the gym."

 

 

This is at the very front of the ship, which was directly above our cabin. We LOVED the gym…lots of equipment, a HUGE area to do stretch or other classes in, and a regulation-sized boxing ring, which never seemed to be utilized and was for me, wasted space.

 

 

fos10-1.jpg

The Boxing Ring...with Invisible Boxers....

 

 

On the Radiance-class ships, the gym sits ABOVE the spa. This creates a noise issue in the spa, which can be disconcerting. When trying to relax during a massage, you'll be startled awake with a giant clang of weights hitting the floor above your head. The designers got smart on the Freedom, and put the gym UNDER the spa. Voila. No more noise issues in the spa. Point: Freedom

 

 

 

Leaving the gym area and heading outside, you’ll encounter the peaceful Solarium and the fancy whirlpools that jut out from the side of the ship.

 

fos34-1.jpg

I would have need to use this later in the trip...and it was heavenly.

 

 

The Solarium was packed – PACKED – just about every single day, and I’m sure it was because of the nice, foamy cushions to be found on the lounge chairs. This is where I'd make my bed if I were to live on Deck 11. Since I didn’t go to the Diamond Lounge before dinner, the Solarium became my refuge, of sorts, in the late afternoon...give me a Diet Coke, my Kindle, and a soft, padded lounge chair – and I was a happy girl.

 

fos21.jpg

Paradise...by the poolside...

 

 

 

Besides the solarium pool, there are three other pools located here… the H20 Zone is the Kiddie Pool, and perhaps this is where all those invisible children were hanging out.

 

fos30-1.jpg

Doesn't it look FUN?!

 

 

Lots of color, sculptures, fountains, water canons…it looked like a lot of fun. Here’s another shot that I took that afternoon…note the invisible children in this photo, as they’re EVERYWHERE:

 

fos22-1.jpg

 

 

As I can only post six photos per post (THAT sounded redundant), I have to put the rest of Deck 11 in the next post…which I’ll be sure to post…very soon…so stay posted.

 

 

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I'm happy to hear from all of my Florida neighbors...especially Estero! Wow! You literally are right down the road from me! We love southwest Florida...it's just very laid back, and very pretty...and yes. It's hot. But that's what pools and a/c was invented for!!!

 

I'm also tickled to hear about everyone's surprises - whether they "worked" - or didn't work!!! I was BUSTING to tell her...BUSTING! But I pulled it off. Don't know if I can do that again or not, thought, as that was HARD.

 

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and reading...more to come...more photos to come...more surprises to come...

 

 

What a great story about surprising your daughter. How did she not see you give the luggage to the porters? Cant wait to read the rest. :)

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Sherri,

Putting on the seat belt and getting ready for another exciting ride. :D We have not been on anything bigger than Voyager class, but we are heading to Allure in May. This ship looks amazing.

 

Bill

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I LIKE that - the Gold Medal! I would sleep with it under my pillow, if given the chance!!!

 

I'm south...Lake Winnebago...the boonies of Cass County. :D

 

Can I sneak into your luggage with you on your upcoming cruise??!!

 

By all means--we'd have a BLAST! I'll be at a conference in Orlando at the Ritz Carlton for 4 days pre-cruise--have to get into party mode early, you know!;)

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YES! We had Sexy! That was us...we were on the right side of the bus, right by the door. And I had a hard time getting in and out of that seat, which you'll read about later...so if I was ever slow and held you up, I'm sorry! :(

 

But yes...that was Mickey and I!

 

Dont worry, we didng notice you slowing anyone down!

 

We became the designated bartenders because we were sitting right in front of the coolers. Although I thought it was strange how much of the rum punch your daughter drank! (ha, just kidding...that stuff was super strong though).

 

Overall it was a great week, despite the hoards of unsupervised Brazillian teenagers that were always running amok.

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Dont worry, we didng notice you slowing anyone down!

 

We became the designated bartenders because we were sitting right in front of the coolers. Although I thought it was strange how much of the rum punch your daughter drank! (ha, just kidding...that stuff was super strong though).

 

Overall it was a great week, despite the hoards of unsupervised Brazillian teenagers that were always running amok.

 

I never did try the rum punch - glad I didn't, then! Since I was the designated parent (Dang...if I'd had Hubby Mike along, THEN I could have indulged!)

 

And WORD about the Brazilian groups - that's what I was alluding to in my above post about a certain group NOT being invisible and quiet. Sheesh. It WAS a great week, wasn't it? Despite not being able to go to Coco Cay...we still had a lot of fun!

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What a great story about surprising your daughter. How did she not see you give the luggage to the porters? Cant wait to read the rest. :)

 

That's when I told her we were going to try and just hop onboard at the last minute and see if they had room. She kinda' knew better - that you can't just show up at the dock and jump on, because we'd had this discussion weeks before, when we were sailing on the Serenade...so she was now very worried that someone was going to say, "NO! No cruise for you!!!" :D

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Sherri,

Putting on the seat belt and getting ready for another exciting ride. :D We have not been on anything bigger than Voyager class, but we are heading to Allure in May. This ship looks amazing.

 

Bill

 

Thanks, Bill! Bottom line - this ship WAS amazing...it has me tempted...a little...to do the Allure or Oasis. Still not sure if I can do the megaships, because of my ability to get lost...and not liking mega crowds...but I'm sure tempted!

 

Can't wait to see your photos of the Allure - I'll be looking for them! :)

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Sherri - So happy we found this thread -we loved your Serenade review and look forward to reading about your Freedom experience.

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