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OliverTheCat

FREEDOM Review 9/30/12 (Corner Aft, Gluten Free Vegetarian Cruising) LONG + PHOTOS!!!

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My husband (39) and I (35) are C&A Diamond members and sailed on our third Freedom of Seas sailing, September 30 – October 7, 2012. We really enjoy cruising this time of year for the easy going crowd and the weather is a comfortable temperature that you are not baking in Caribbean.

 

This time around, I wanted to focus my cruise review on a few aspects I see asked on Cruise Critic a lot, instead of a day-by-day rundown of the cruise. So, I will cover the following topics in hopes they help other CC members answer some of their questions:

 

· Having a Corner Aft Balcony

· Vegetarian Dining + New Menus in dining room

· Gluten Free Dining + New Menus in dining room and other eating options

 

 

CORNER AFT BALCONY: We were extremely lucky to snag cabin 9404, which is an E2 corner aft balcony, because we booked this cruise far in advance. I had been awaiting my turn at a corner aft forever, and it did not disappoint. Cabin 9404 is starboard, so you have a great view leaving ports or call, including Port Canaveral. There are 2 sitting chairs, one single unpadded lounger, and a small table for drinks or snacks. The shape of balcony, as previously said by people, is kinda like a wide pie piece.

 

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This is almost a full sun balcony. The only shade is in front of door where it is covered. Be prepared to wear sunscreen out there each day if you don’t want to burn! The cabin does not have the sliding glass balcony door like your typical balcony room has, it has a windowed door and a huge sit-able porthole window which was more than enough to provide just as much sunlight in room as a sliding door has in past.

The inside of room seemed only slightly smaller than other balcony rooms….it had a shorter wall and a loveseat instead of a full size sofa couch. PLENTY of room for 2 people.

The only ship infrastructure is the vertical bar that you can see here. Did not bother us AT ALL. And the balcony has a nice forward and side to side width to it. There was a little rust here and there on the bars….they do need to repaint that in near future.

 

We experienced ZERO SOOT on our balcony during the entire cruise.

 

The best part about cabin 9404, and why I would book it again in heartbeat, is that is was SO quiet in this cabin, both inside and on balcony. You get a little vibration here and there in bed from ship movement, but I thought it was comforting to sleep. I loved that it was silent at night if you wanted to read out there…just the sound of the ocean.

 

VEGETARIAN DINING: Husband and I are both lacto-octo (eggs and dairy) vegetarians and also do not consume seafood. I am also gluten sensitive (but not celiac positive so cross-contamination not an issue for me) so I have even a stricter dietary habits I must follow.

 

Normally on cruises, we never eat in dining room, and always do Windjammer for dinner (sushi and more variety for vegetarians), but this cruise was my first as newly diagnosed gluten sensitive, so I wanted to give dining room another shot under the new menus.

 

We had the late seating dinner, and once I boarded ship, I went to Restaurant Manager and discussed my gluten and our vegetarian dining needs with him to see they were met for our dinners. He was very accommodating and told me the way it works is they present the menu for the next day’s dinner to you the night before, and you and head server will make sure the dining needs are met. That is more than fine with us.

 

As for the dinners, my husband never really had any issues finding something to eat that was vegetarian each night. There is 1 vegetarian main entrée on menu each night. And, if my husband did not like the offering, when they presented menu to us night before, they would custom create him a meal. Here is what he had:

· Soft Shell Tortillas (a bean chili inside)

· Artichoke Filled Crepes au Gratin

· Custom Made Ziti Mariana with vegetables (in place of night 3 offering)

· Eggplant Parmigiana (he loved this)

· Soy Meatballs over Pasta (he loved this)

· Tofu and Vegetable Stir-fry over rice (in place of night 6 offering)

· Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Chick’ Chucks over Jasmine Rice (he loved this)

 

 

The appetizers, salads, or soups always had a vegetarian option as well.

 

For breakfast, my husband and I both had no trouble finding things to suit each of us to eat in Windjammer: (Fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, custom made omelets, cereal, pancakes/waffles…list goes on and on).

 

For lunches, we never got a chance to eat in main dining room on sea days, but the Windjammer did not have as many vegetarian options as they should. I really wish they would provide a protein offering in the salad bar (legumes/beans or tofu), so we can make the salad a filling meal. On some ships I have seen chickpeas or kidney beans there…but never on Freedom. They did have cheese and (sometimes) nuts, but that is not enough to make it a meal. The entrees at lunch were way too heavy (exp. Spaghetti, heavy sauced veggie stir-fry) for a lunch. My husband did get a veggie burger custom made for him 2 times by Windjammer manager, but you have to ask for it.

 

There is always a vegetarian sandwich option (many times with egg or cheeses) at the coffee place in Promenade. And you have a vegetarian Sorrento’s pizza option, along with the antipasti side counter there, if you don’t want to eat in Windjammer.

 

Johnny Rockets also has a veggie burger and a grilled cheese on the menu, but there is a surcharge of $4.95 to eat there.

 

I think Royal is doing better to accommodate vegetarians on board in dining room (the addition of soy meatballs, chik’ wheat gluten chunks, tofu on new menus) but they still need work for Windjammer lunches, as I stated above. I made note of this on comment card, as I usually do.

 

GLUTEN FREE DINING: Again, I am not celiac positive, but am recently diagnosed gluten sensitive, so I follow a gluten free diet with cross contamination not a problem for me.

 

Sailing a gluten free vegetarian, I was very nervous what I would be able to eat on board. But, the dining room has really stepped up their meeting gluten free diners’ needs, as the numbers grow of gluten intolerant people. As I said before, I went to Dining Room Manager as soon as we boarded to explain our dietary needs (and I recommend any person with food allergies do the same). The manager explained to me how the dining room kitchen has an entire area dedicated to gluten free cooking so that there is zero cross-contamination for celiac cruisers. They DO NOT have this in Windjammer or any other place on the ship, so you have to get our food made in dining room kitchen if you are celiac, or there is always chance of cross contamination. In was informed the staff, including servers, is trained regularly in gluten free food handling.

 

A Note: If you are a meat eater or a seafood eater, you will have NO PROBLEMS getting a filling gluten free meal each night in the dining room right off menu. There are so many options. As a vegetarian, I had a few issues getting both a gluten free AND vegetarian dish, but the head waiter was super in making this happen

 

So at dinner each night, they presented the menus to us for the next night’s dinner so the chef could make sure I had a gluten free and vegetarian dinner.

 

Here is what I ate at dinner (besides a salad as a starter each night):

· Bean Chili (they left out the tortilla that came with it), Crème Brulee Dessert

· Mariana Sauce and vegetables over gf ziti (custom made order), ice cream

· Steamed Veggie Plate with tofu and fried egg (custom made order)

· Eggplant Parmigiana (made gluten free w/o breading), Ice Cream

· Soy Meatballs and vegetables over rice (made gluten free), Baked Alaska Dessert

· Vegetable and Tofu Stir-fry with gluten free sauce (custom made order), Cherries Jubilee Dessert

· Soy Meatballs (made gluten free), over gf ziti Frozen Strawberry Soufflé Dessert

 

Also, 4 slices of gluten free bread were served to me each night (I got 2 kinds…a seeded multigrain, and a white variety with garlic flavoring..and both were tasty to me)

 

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Personally, and this is a big deal, I think the menus in dining room need to be redone again in regard to the gluten free symbols (some things are marked gluten free that are NOT GLUTEN FREE – such as the rigatoni for goodness sake). This is dangerous to strict celiac cruisers that may think they are getting a gf brown rice rigatoni, and it is gluten-full semolina. The head waiter was fully aware of the errors on menu and always walked me through the menu, which is why it is DIRE IMPORTANT you speak to your Head Waiter about your food allergies. Make sure they cross check all these dishes you order and ask questions!

 

The Head Waiter also advised me that in dining room for breakfast, there are gluten free waffles, pancakes (reworking recipe), and muffins (not made on board..probably Udi’s brand), in addition to the naturally gluten free offerings. They are still working on getting gluten free cereals available..a big requested item they said. We never made it in there for breakfast, so I cannot comment on quality. I actually brought on board a box of gluten free cereal and Ziploc bags, so I brought a bag of cereal with me to Windjammer and ate it with my fruit, eggs, or whatever in morning.

 

For lunch, since I am not celiac, I can eat in Windjammer. There are gluten free breads available upon request and here is sign stating same. Honestly, I advise you to have them toast the bread, because it is too crumbly to build a sandwich as is. They get the bread from dining room and they can also toast it there.

 

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If I didn’t have salad in Windjammer for lunch, I went to Sorrento’s, where they DO make you gluten free pizza upon request and have the gluten free dough on board. On day 1 of cruise I asked the Sorrento’s staff about this, and the way it works is they want to know if you are celiac or just “doing the gluten free diet.” If you are celiac, your pizza is made in dining room and shipped down to Sorrento’s (25 minute wait). If you are like me, and cross-contamination ok, your pizza is made in the oven right in Sorrento’s (10 minute wait). You are served approx. 8 small pieces of pizza, and my gluten eating husband was happy to share it with me. He said the only difference was the crust was much thinner and not as crispy. I thought it tasted fine, as long as you let it rest for about 5 mins out of oven to crisp a tad. One time they even added some mushrooms on mine upon my request. The antipasti sides were all gluten free as well (minus the breads/cracker products there)…so I also had some roasted peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, along with my pizza.

 

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Cupcake Cupboard did not have gluten free cupcakes on board on my cruise, because they are re-vamping the recipe. She told me they should have that up and going within a few weeks of my cruise, so hopefully that will be available for future gf cupcake cravers!

 

Johnny Rockets did not have a veggie burger that was gluten free, and I cannot eat American type cheese (for grilled cheese) so I did not eat there on this cruise. They did tell me that they can get the gluten free bread from dining room for your burgers or sandwiches though.

 

The Smoothie Bar by the kiddie pool area also has great gluten free smoothies that are delicious!

 

For gf beer options, the only gluten free beer on board is Dog Fish Tweason Ale and the only place that seemed to have it was Bull & Bear Pub. Every other time I asked at a venue it was never available, including dining room, which was disappointing, especially at pool area.

 

Note: You are allowed to bring non perishable snacks/foods on board for cruise, so I brought on board a large box gluten free cereal, pretzels, Lara Bars, and a few candy items (in case I got hungry). I used entire box of cereal, took pretzels on land, and both Lara Bars and candy went untouched. Plenty to eat on board.

 

To close, this was a super cruise. No bad moments. I hope this detailed review of these three key areas helps you out when it comes to cruising on the Freedom of the Seas! If you have any questions, I will try to answer them!

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Thank you so much for your review from a Vegetarian/GF prospective. I have 2 DD's, one is vegetarian and the other is GF. Both did extremely well on Navigator last summer and you are right in that the staff are so attentive so long as you explain in advance. But I did not know you can not always trust the symbols on the menu. I will make sure we double check in the future. Also, the first day we had to have lunch in the Windjammer. The chef came out and personally excorted my DD & me around to let us know what was safe for her to eat GF.

 

But one observation, we also had a 9th deck corner aft. I will not get it again. It is literally 1/2 the size as the balcony beside it since it cuts at so much of an angle. It was so small that when we had the 2 chairs out the 2 loungers had to remain stacked against the rail.

If you really want a spectacular corner aft balcony go for the one below:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=35698328&postcount=43

We have that one coming up on our next cruise!

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Thank you so much for all this good info. On my Freedom cruise last year I was having a problem finding something heartier then a salad to eat in the Windjammer at lunch. ( I'm a vegetarian) I nicely asked the manager to make me a veggi burger and they did, but I had to wait forever since they had to go somewhere to get the patties. I think it would be nice if veggi burgers were part of the regular lunch there as I'm sure other people would like to eat them too.

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Thank you so much for all this good info. On my Freedom cruise last year I was having a problem finding something heartier then a salad to eat in the Windjammer at lunch. ( I'm a vegetarian) I nicely asked the manager to make me a veggi burger and they did, but I had to wait forever since they had to go somewhere to get the patties. I think it would be nice if veggi burgers were part of the regular lunch there as I'm sure other people would like to eat them too.

 

I agree! Enough people asked them to put turkey burgers out at Windjammer...and they finally offer them as a regular item after all these years...maybe their is hope for the veggie burgers too in future!!

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Thank you so much for your review from a Vegetarian/GF prospective. I have 2 DD's, one is vegetarian and the other is GF. Both did extremely well on Navigator last summer and you are right in that the staff are so attentive so long as you explain in advance. But I did not know you can not always trust the symbols on the menu. I will make sure we double check in the future. Also, the first day we had to have lunch in the Windjammer. The chef came out and personally excorted my DD & me around to let us know what was safe for her to eat GF.

 

But one observation, we also had a 9th deck corner aft. I will not get it again. It is literally 1/2 the size as the balcony beside it since it cuts at so much of an angle. It was so small that when we had the 2 chairs out the 2 loungers had to remain stacked against the rail.

If you really want a spectacular corner aft balcony go for the one below:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=35698328&postcount=43

We have that one coming up on our next cruise!

 

Oh is that the deck 7 corner aft? We of course would have wanted that, but they were all taken. I was just really happy with this balcony...even more than our junior suite balcony on Navigator a few years go...so I guess it is a matter of preference! If a Deck 7 aft was ever available at a good rate, I would totally snag it though!

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Thank you so much for all this good info. On my Freedom cruise last year I was having a problem finding something heartier then a salad to eat in the Windjammer at lunch. ( I'm a vegetarian) I nicely asked the manager to make me a veggi burger and they did, but I had to wait forever since they had to go somewhere to get the patties. I think it would be nice if veggi burgers were part of the regular lunch there as I'm sure other people would like to eat them too.

 

I am not a vegetarian at all, but I do enjoy ordering vegetarian meals, especially on cruises. I would love the veggie burger option at lunch in the Windjammer! :cool:

Oliverthecat, thank you for posting this review. You are addressing areas I have wondered about. Keep the review coming!

 

Eric

Edited by Pomperaugrr

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Smoothie Bar by the kiddie pool? Is this for a fee or not, please? I don't remember seeing this on our last Freedom cruise in 2011.

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Smoothie Bar by the kiddie pool? Is this for a fee or not, please? I don't remember seeing this on our last Freedom cruise in 2011.

 

There is, indeed, a fee. I am pretty sure it was $4.95 + grat.

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Oh is that the deck 7 corner aft? We of course would have wanted that, but they were all taken. I was just really happy with this balcony...even more than our junior suite balcony on Navigator a few years go...so I guess it is a matter of preference! If a Deck 7 aft was ever available at a good rate, I would totally snag it though!

 

Yes, it's Deck 7, for the upcoming cruise. And the Deck 7's corner afts are the same price as the Deck 9's. You just have to grab fast. I'm surprised it was still available for the March cruise since we just made reservations about 6 weeks ago.

 

I was the one planning last year's cruise and I thought the Deck 9 corner aft would be better than the one next to it. Boy was I wrong. Our BIL/SIL had the one next to us and it was over twice the size of ours. I made the best of it and hung out on their balcony.;)

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Thanks very much, it was good to hear about vegetarian options from the new menu :)

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Great information - thanks!

I'm not a strict vegetarian, but choose to eat that way most of the time.

 

I stuck with all of the vegetarian options in the MDR a couple of cruises ago and thought they were delish! However last cruise we opted to skip the MDR and just eat in specialty restaurants or Windjammer. Yes - one can get weary of salads!

 

I haven't been on a cruise with the new menus yet, but I'm glad to hear your hubby found dishes he enjoyed.

 

 

Ann

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Thank you so much for the great info about sailing as a gluten-sensitive. I've been a little worried now that I've stopped eating gluten. I, too, don't have to worry about cross contamination since I'm not celiac, but wasn't sure how to explain that (or handle it) on board.

 

I'm even more excited now! Thanks for all the great tips!

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Thank you so much for the info on vegetarian and gluten free options. I am vegetarian but not full blown celiac, but a definite sensitivity which causes unpleasant symptoms, and just try to avoid. Also limited on sodium. I appreciate the info. Thank you. :)

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A big thanks to OliverTheCat for this wonderful and useful review.

Both DW and myself are ovo-lacto vegetarians, and are happy to have a preview of what's available on RCI (hopefully it will be available as well on our upcoming Allure cruise).

 

 

I agree! Enough people asked them to put turkey burgers out at Windjammer...and they finally offer them as a regular item after all these years...maybe their is hope for the veggie burgers too in future!!

 

Yes! Agree, agree, agree!

Let RCI hears our voices and provide veggie burgers out at Windjammer regularly!

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Michael, you are welcome! Just ask questions if you dont see enough offerings...the head chef in all eating facilities will def. work with you!!

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Thank you so much for the info on vegetarian and gluten free options. I am vegetarian but not full blown celiac, but a definite sensitivity which causes unpleasant symptoms, and just try to avoid. Also limited on sodium. I appreciate the info. Thank you. :)

 

exactly why I avoid it too. You will be just fine, I think, esp. if you eat seafood...there are SO many gluten free options with these.

Edited by OliverTheCat

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Another "Thank You!" for the GF info. I discovered I was gluten sensitive after my AOS cruise last year. This will really help me in planning my next cruise!

 

Theresa

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Thanks for sharing!

 

We sail shortly and my father in law is Celiec.

 

my 7 year old daughter due to allergies and a leaky gut is not eating gluten, dairy, soy, corn and shellfish. She has limited eggs (one whole egg a week). and limited cane sugar and no basically no fruit at all. GAPS diet basically. needless to say, Christmas was a ball at our house.

 

:rolleyes:

 

I am not sure how meals are going to go for us this time around then the dining room is closed on port days for lunch. And we have three early morning tours.. So not sure how that will work as well! LOL.

 

Thanks!

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Thanks for sharing!

 

We sail shortly and my father in law is Celiec.

 

my 7 year old daughter due to allergies and a leaky gut is not eating gluten, dairy, soy, corn and shellfish. She has limited eggs (one whole egg a week). and limited cane sugar and no basically no fruit at all. GAPS diet basically. needless to say, Christmas was a ball at our house.

 

:rolleyes:

 

I am not sure how meals are going to go for us this time around then the dining room is closed on port days for lunch. And we have three early morning tours.. So not sure how that will work as well! LOL.

 

Thanks!

The only thing I can re-recommend is bring your own non perishable food on board. I brought a huge bag of gluten free pretzels, soy nut butter, GF cereal, protein bars, etc. And make sure they know about all these food allergies and intolerances...I bet they will work well with you.

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Thank you so much for the review. We were on the FOS last December. My daughter is celiac and they were very attentive to her. Sorrentos was always crowded so we never asked about pizza. Now I know that we could have asked in the dining room. She hates to bother anyone, but I don't think that they mind at all. One night she didn't come to dinner because the baby was fussy. The head waiter called her and asked if he could send herr a special dinner! Kudos to the wonderful crew.

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Oliverthecat:

 

I want you to know that your review of 9404 helped me SO SO much!:D I originally had the cabin below you 8410 booked. I was told by me RCL rep that it had a slider door. Seeing your pics you can tell that indeed it does not.

 

I just got off the phone with RCL and I now have cabin 9404 booked for our cruise in December!!!

 

Thank you for the wonderful review!:D

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Thanks for your post. I am a celiac vegetarian (no seafood or meat at all), and I am very worried about my upcoming February cruise. I was just diagnosed with celiac a little over a year ago. I have cruised once on Disney since then, and they were super accomodating. This will be my first one on RCI. I hope I will have options...I hate the idea of having to go to the MDR for lunch. :( It's so time consuming! I usually don't get GI issues from gluten (which is why I likely had it forEVER without diagnosis, as I have atypical symptoms related to my joints, mood, and nutrient deficiencies), but I would hate to start my healing process all over again by getting contaminated at the buffet. Anyway, your review was very helpful! Thanks again!

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Oliverthecat:

 

I want you to know that your review of 9404 helped me SO SO much!:D I originally had the cabin below you 8410 booked. I was told by me RCL rep that it had a slider door. Seeing your pics you can tell that indeed it does not.

 

I just got off the phone with RCL and I now have cabin 9404 booked for our cruise in December!!!

 

Thank you for the wonderful review!:D

Awesome uscgwife, I hope you love it as much as we did!!!!

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Thanks for your post. I am a celiac vegetarian (no seafood or meat at all), and I am very worried about my upcoming February cruise. I was just diagnosed with celiac a little over a year ago. I have cruised once on Disney since then, and they were super accomodating. This will be my first one on RCI. I hope I will have options...I hate the idea of having to go to the MDR for lunch. :( It's so time consuming! I usually don't get GI issues from gluten (which is why I likely had it forEVER without diagnosis, as I have atypical symptoms related to my joints, mood, and nutrient deficiencies), but I would hate to start my healing process all over again by getting contaminated at the buffet. Anyway, your review was very helpful! Thanks again!

I think you will be ok, just get the head waiter to assist you, and the buffet manager to assist you as well. They can even have meals ready for you for lunch in buffet if you plan it all ahead. They did that with my husband's veggie burgers in buffet. Dont let this worry discourage your cruise. I worried so much about it before I left and it was for nothing. Remember, you can bring your own non perishable foods on board too, so stock up on some gluten free vegetarian snacks in case you get hungry between meals. This was so handy for me. In my review I mentioned how my cereal was super helpful each morning, my husband just brought me the bowl, spoon and milk, and ate it in room with fruit!

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Thanks for your post. I am a celiac vegetarian (no seafood or meat at all), and I am very worried about my upcoming February cruise. I was just diagnosed with celiac a little over a year ago. I have cruised once on Disney since then, and they were super accomodating. This will be my first one on RCI. I hope I will have options...I hate the idea of having to go to the MDR for lunch. :( It's so time consuming! I usually don't get GI issues from gluten (which is why I likely had it forEVER without diagnosis, as I have atypical symptoms related to my joints, mood, and nutrient deficiencies), but I would hate to start my healing process all over again by getting contaminated at the buffet. Anyway, your review was very helpful! Thanks again!

 

and I agree with you about Disney...they go above and beyond to assist their allergy and special diet cruisers. We always know we will eat well when we cruise on DCL. But I think you will find once you cruise that RCL is coming along, and is doing a great job as well.

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DSCF1276.jpg

 

 

 

 

oh....i wonder if they'll make me the gluten free eggplant parmigiana every night!!!!

i will have died and gone to heaven if they do!!!!!!!

 

thank you so much for your very detailed veggie and GF review..

 

i'm also vegetarian and gluten sensitive (but not celiac)..

but i have a few more quirks - i can't eat any soy of any kind in any form, so that eliminates a lot of veggie options. And no soy sauce either...kills off a lot of prepared salads...

 

but that GF eggplant parmigiana would work well for me...and i LOVE eggplant parmigiana ...

i really would be thrilled if they would make it for me every night!!

assuming they use real cheese (no tofu fake stuff)...

Edited by alaska_planner

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I know I am late to the party but a big thank you for the pictures. We have the same cabin booked in December. Somehow I didn't realize it was an AFT when we booked it and the TA may have told me but I was probably at work when she called! Anyway we are excited for the trip and I feel good about the cabin. Now maybe they will announce Diamond Bonus for December!

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What an informative post. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!

 

I wondered if I could ask you about another detail: vegetarian desserts. We've loved the main dining room and chosen it every time, always sticking with the vegetarian options. But I've started seeing pictures of the new menus that people have shared on the internet, and it looks as though either they've abandoned making any desserts suitable for vegetarians, or they never really were suitable but we now at least accurately labelled!

 

Any thoughts? Did you notice any vegetarian desserts when you were there? (It was a while ago when I saw the menus and I realise it could have been just a labelling thing.)

 

Thanks in advance... Looking forward to FOTS this new year!

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Sonvoltken6

We will be in the same cabin in December, unfortunately there will not be Diamond in December this year per RCL :(

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Sonvoltken6

We will be in the same cabin in December, unfortunately there will not be Diamond in December this year per RCL :(

 

 

We are in the same cabin the week before you! lol that's too funny! :D

 

I would love to see some more photos of the room/balcony as they seem to be hard to find! but this thread has definitely provided the best view of the room!

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What an informative post. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this!

 

I wondered if I could ask you about another detail: vegetarian desserts. We've loved the main dining room and chosen it every time, always sticking with the vegetarian options. But I've started seeing pictures of the new menus that people have shared on the internet, and it looks as though either they've abandoned making any desserts suitable for vegetarians, or they never really were suitable but we now at least accurately labelled!

 

Any thoughts? Did you notice any vegetarian desserts when you were there? (It was a while ago when I saw the menus and I realise it could have been just a labelling thing.)

 

Thanks in advance... Looking forward to FOTS this new year!

 

Sorry to take a few days to get back to you Mr-Ewan.

As for the vegetarian desserts, I did stear clear of many due to the gelatin in them but there were still other options. Now VEGAN desserts gets very tricky, so you will be stuck with fruit or maybe something special they create..but I didn't have problems finding an option without gelatin. Just tell them ahead of time...maybe they even use agar agar instead of gelatin, but I doubt it. I loved their different ice cream selections each night that rotated flavors...Mmmm.

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We are in the same cabin the week before you! lol that's too funny! :D

 

I would love to see some more photos of the room/balcony as they seem to be hard to find! but this thread has definitely provided the best view of the room!

 

Those included with review were best ones I had to offer, but the little pie piece balcony was really cozy...I would book it again in a heartbeat. We would sit out there and it was so quiet at night....the side balconies can be noisy in day time. It was actually so quiet out there in day I would fall asleep daily reading my book.

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Sorry to take a few days to get back to you Mr-Ewan.

As for the vegetarian desserts, I did stear clear of many due to the gelatin in them but there were still other options. Now VEGAN desserts gets very tricky, so you will be stuck with fruit or maybe something special they create..but I didn't have problems finding an option without gelatin. Just tell them ahead of time...maybe they even use agar agar instead of gelatin, but I doubt it. I loved their different ice cream selections each night that rotated flavors...Mmmm.

 

Ah, ok - that's pretty much as I thought then. Good to hear there are still some options, though, and it's hard to complain about different ice cream every night! But nice to know in advance what to expect.

 

Anyway, once again, thank you for all the info!

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My husband (39) and I (35) are C&A Diamond members and sailed on our third Freedom of Seas sailing, September 30 – October 7, 2012. We really enjoy cruising this time of year for the easy going crowd and the weather is a comfortable temperature that you are not baking in Caribbean.

 

This time around, I wanted to focus my cruise review on a few aspects I see asked on Cruise Critic a lot, instead of a day-by-day rundown of the cruise. So, I will cover the following topics in hopes they help other CC members answer some of their questions:

 

· Having a Corner Aft Balcony

· Vegetarian Dining + New Menus in dining room

· Gluten Free Dining + New Menus in dining room and other eating options

 

 

CORNER AFT BALCONY: We were extremely lucky to snag cabin 9404, which is an E2 corner aft balcony, because we booked this cruise far in advance. I had been awaiting my turn at a corner aft forever, and it did not disappoint. Cabin 9404 is starboard, so you have a great view leaving ports or call, including Port Canaveral. There are 2 sitting chairs, one single unpadded lounger, and a small table for drinks or snacks. The shape of balcony, as previously said by people, is kinda like a wide pie piece.

 

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This is almost a full sun balcony. The only shade is in front of door where it is covered. Be prepared to wear sunscreen out there each day if you don’t want to burn! The cabin does not have the sliding glass balcony door like your typical balcony room has, it has a windowed door and a huge sit-able porthole window which was more than enough to provide just as much sunlight in room as a sliding door has in past.

The inside of room seemed only slightly smaller than other balcony rooms….it had a shorter wall and a loveseat instead of a full size sofa couch. PLENTY of room for 2 people.

The only ship infrastructure is the vertical bar that you can see here. Did not bother us AT ALL. And the balcony has a nice forward and side to side width to it. There was a little rust here and there on the bars….they do need to repaint that in near future.

 

We experienced ZERO SOOT on our balcony during the entire cruise.

 

The best part about cabin 9404, and why I would book it again in heartbeat, is that is was SO quiet in this cabin, both inside and on balcony. You get a little vibration here and there in bed from ship movement, but I thought it was comforting to sleep. I loved that it was silent at night if you wanted to read out there…just the sound of the ocean.

 

VEGETARIAN DINING: Husband and I are both lacto-octo (eggs and dairy) vegetarians and also do not consume seafood. I am also gluten sensitive (but not celiac positive so cross-contamination not an issue for me) so I have even a stricter dietary habits I must follow.

 

Normally on cruises, we never eat in dining room, and always do Windjammer for dinner (sushi and more variety for vegetarians), but this cruise was my first as newly diagnosed gluten sensitive, so I wanted to give dining room another shot under the new menus.

 

We had the late seating dinner, and once I boarded ship, I went to Restaurant Manager and discussed my gluten and our vegetarian dining needs with him to see they were met for our dinners. He was very accommodating and told me the way it works is they present the menu for the next day’s dinner to you the night before, and you and head server will make sure the dining needs are met. That is more than fine with us.

 

As for the dinners, my husband never really had any issues finding something to eat that was vegetarian each night. There is 1 vegetarian main entrée on menu each night. And, if my husband did not like the offering, when they presented menu to us night before, they would custom create him a meal. Here is what he had:

· Soft Shell Tortillas (a bean chili inside)

· Artichoke Filled Crepes au Gratin

· Custom Made Ziti Mariana with vegetables (in place of night 3 offering)

· Eggplant Parmigiana (he loved this)

· Soy Meatballs over Pasta (he loved this)

· Tofu and Vegetable Stir-fry over rice (in place of night 6 offering)

· Sweet and Sour Vegetarian Chick’ Chucks over Jasmine Rice (he loved this)

 

 

The appetizers, salads, or soups always had a vegetarian option as well.

 

For breakfast, my husband and I both had no trouble finding things to suit each of us to eat in Windjammer: (Fruit, yogurt, oatmeal, custom made omelets, cereal, pancakes/waffles…list goes on and on).

 

For lunches, we never got a chance to eat in main dining room on sea days, but the Windjammer did not have as many vegetarian options as they should. I really wish they would provide a protein offering in the salad bar (legumes/beans or tofu), so we can make the salad a filling meal. On some ships I have seen chickpeas or kidney beans there…but never on Freedom. They did have cheese and (sometimes) nuts, but that is not enough to make it a meal. The entrees at lunch were way too heavy (exp. Spaghetti, heavy sauced veggie stir-fry) for a lunch. My husband did get a veggie burger custom made for him 2 times by Windjammer manager, but you have to ask for it.

 

There is always a vegetarian sandwich option (many times with egg or cheeses) at the coffee place in Promenade. And you have a vegetarian Sorrento’s pizza option, along with the antipasti side counter there, if you don’t want to eat in Windjammer.

 

Johnny Rockets also has a veggie burger and a grilled cheese on the menu, but there is a surcharge of $4.95 to eat there.

 

I think Royal is doing better to accommodate vegetarians on board in dining room (the addition of soy meatballs, chik’ wheat gluten chunks, tofu on new menus) but they still need work for Windjammer lunches, as I stated above. I made note of this on comment card, as I usually do.

 

GLUTEN FREE DINING: Again, I am not celiac positive, but am recently diagnosed gluten sensitive, so I follow a gluten free diet with cross contamination not a problem for me.

 

Sailing a gluten free vegetarian, I was very nervous what I would be able to eat on board. But, the dining room has really stepped up their meeting gluten free diners’ needs, as the numbers grow of gluten intolerant people. As I said before, I went to Dining Room Manager as soon as we boarded to explain our dietary needs (and I recommend any person with food allergies do the same). The manager explained to me how the dining room kitchen has an entire area dedicated to gluten free cooking so that there is zero cross-contamination for celiac cruisers. They DO NOT have this in Windjammer or any other place on the ship, so you have to get our food made in dining room kitchen if you are celiac, or there is always chance of cross contamination. In was informed the staff, including servers, is trained regularly in gluten free food handling.

 

A Note: If you are a meat eater or a seafood eater, you will have NO PROBLEMS getting a filling gluten free meal each night in the dining room right off menu. There are so many options. As a vegetarian, I had a few issues getting both a gluten free AND vegetarian dish, but the head waiter was super in making this happen

 

So at dinner each night, they presented the menus to us for the next night’s dinner so the chef could make sure I had a gluten free and vegetarian dinner.

 

Here is what I ate at dinner (besides a salad as a starter each night):

· Bean Chili (they left out the tortilla that came with it), Crème Brulee Dessert

· Mariana Sauce and vegetables over gf ziti (custom made order), ice cream

· Steamed Veggie Plate with tofu and fried egg (custom made order)

· Eggplant Parmigiana (made gluten free w/o breading), Ice Cream

· Soy Meatballs and vegetables over rice (made gluten free), Baked Alaska Dessert

· Vegetable and Tofu Stir-fry with gluten free sauce (custom made order), Cherries Jubilee Dessert

· Soy Meatballs (made gluten free), over gf ziti Frozen Strawberry Soufflé Dessert

 

Also, 4 slices of gluten free bread were served to me each night (I got 2 kinds…a seeded multigrain, and a white variety with garlic flavoring..and both were tasty to me)

 

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Personally, and this is a big deal, I think the menus in dining room need to be redone again in regard to the gluten free symbols (some things are marked gluten free that are NOT GLUTEN FREE – such as the rigatoni for goodness sake). This is dangerous to strict celiac cruisers that may think they are getting a gf brown rice rigatoni, and it is gluten-full semolina. The head waiter was fully aware of the errors on menu and always walked me through the menu, which is why it is DIRE IMPORTANT you speak to your Head Waiter about your food allergies. Make sure they cross check all these dishes you order and ask questions!

 

The Head Waiter also advised me that in dining room for breakfast, there are gluten free waffles, pancakes (reworking recipe), and muffins (not made on board..probably Udi’s brand), in addition to the naturally gluten free offerings. They are still working on getting gluten free cereals available..a big requested item they said. We never made it in there for breakfast, so I cannot comment on quality. I actually brought on board a box of gluten free cereal and Ziploc bags, so I brought a bag of cereal with me to Windjammer and ate it with my fruit, eggs, or whatever in morning.

 

For lunch, since I am not celiac, I can eat in Windjammer. There are gluten free breads available upon request and here is sign stating same. Honestly, I advise you to have them toast the bread, because it is too crumbly to build a sandwich as is. They get the bread from dining room and they can also toast it there.

 

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If I didn’t have salad in Windjammer for lunch, I went to Sorrento’s, where they DO make you gluten free pizza upon request and have the gluten free dough on board. On day 1 of cruise I asked the Sorrento’s staff about this, and the way it works is they want to know if you are celiac or just “doing the gluten free diet.” If you are celiac, your pizza is made in dining room and shipped down to Sorrento’s (25 minute wait). If you are like me, and cross-contamination ok, your pizza is made in the oven right in Sorrento’s (10 minute wait). You are served approx. 8 small pieces of pizza, and my gluten eating husband was happy to share it with me. He said the only difference was the crust was much thinner and not as crispy. I thought it tasted fine, as long as you let it rest for about 5 mins out of oven to crisp a tad. One time they even added some mushrooms on mine upon my request. The antipasti sides were all gluten free as well (minus the breads/cracker products there)…so I also had some roasted peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, along with my pizza.

 

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Cupcake Cupboard did not have gluten free cupcakes on board on my cruise, because they are re-vamping the recipe. She told me they should have that up and going within a few weeks of my cruise, so hopefully that will be available for future gf cupcake cravers!

 

Johnny Rockets did not have a veggie burger that was gluten free, and I cannot eat American type cheese (for grilled cheese) so I did not eat there on this cruise. They did tell me that they can get the gluten free bread from dining room for your burgers or sandwiches though.

 

The Smoothie Bar by the kiddie pool area also has great gluten free smoothies that are delicious!

 

For gf beer options, the only gluten free beer on board is Dog Fish Tweason Ale and the only place that seemed to have it was Bull & Bear Pub. Every other time I asked at a venue it was never available, including dining room, which was disappointing, especially at pool area.

 

Note: You are allowed to bring non perishable snacks/foods on board for cruise, so I brought on board a large box gluten free cereal, pretzels, Lara Bars, and a few candy items (in case I got hungry). I used entire box of cereal, took pretzels on land, and both Lara Bars and candy went untouched. Plenty to eat on board.

 

To close, this was a super cruise. No bad moments. I hope this detailed review of these three key areas helps you out when it comes to cruising on the Freedom of the Seas! If you have any questions, I will try to answer them!

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Loved reading your review, thanks for the ideas on vegetarian and gluten free foods! I do eat seafood occasionally but usually stay vegetarian, it's nice to know that that new menus have options.

 

I wonder if they still have Indian food available? That was always my vegetarian go-to in the MDR if I didn't like the veggie offerings at dinner.

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