I've been wanting to cruise the Freedom of the Seas ever since I saw her pull into NY Harbor in 2006.
Decided I was in no mood to fly so I took the Amtrak Silver Star down to Orlando. Reserved a sleeper car which included all meals and use of a shower and Acela lounge in NY Penn Station. Full meals, with dessert were prepared in the dining car. Slow, but I didn't have to worry about airport security, baggage restrictions and I had my own room. My stateroom attendant & the dining room staff about the Star took great care of me.
Once I arrived in Orlando, I picked up a van & stayed at the Double-tree Sea world. Nice & location & because I'm a Hilton Honors member they threw in a free breakfast. I arranged for a pick from Orlando/Double-tree to port via Orlando Airport Town Car! Great service, good price and once I returned on the Freedom a week later they were there to take me back down to the Amtrak station in Orlando for my return trip.
My cabin was the first inside cabin on the 9th deck all the way forward on the starboard side. My stateroom attendant "Karen" was terrific! My room was tiny but clean with plenty of storage & a safe.
Food: Dining room staff was the best. Had the early seating. Requested a table for two & got it, right by the window, fourth deck #434! One of the best tables on the ship for viewing! My waiter Loyall was very good (from India). The service was fantastic. I had several choices every night & they spoiled me. By the third night my Bellini was waiting on my table without me having to request it. Food was hit or miss, but mostly good with options for my mostly veggie/fish diet. Dessert had me gain at least three pounds.
Windjammer- hated this place. Not because of the staff, but the fellow cruisers. I only went 5 times out of the whole trip & usually for a quick snack. I wanted to yell "The food is dead & done, it's not running anywhere". Folks were always pushing, shoving, grabbing. To avoid this I ordered room service or headed for the dining room for breakfast.
Entertainment: shows were good especially "Once Upon a Time" and the "Freedom Ice Show". The "Welcome Aboard", Comedian & "Farewell"? show were also cute.
Activities: I enjoyed the water aerobics class on the two port days in the sports pool in the early morning. Flow rider was crazy! I did the surfing early on a port day it the line was not long at all! Wish I had tried the boogie boarding as well. Plenty for all. I took advantage of the "Galley Tour" after buying a cookbook (with the 25% off C&A coupon). Very informative & cool sampling!
Ports: - Labadee - Went to Columbus cove, rented a fabric blue Cabana, lounge chairs & a floating mat. Lunch was fine, beach was beautiful.
- Jamaica - roamed the Falmouth port buying spices, & sauces. Cool Bob Marley store location. Went into the town (not for the faint of heart, buy hey I live in NYC) got a little lost, found a rag tag liquor store & the owner helped me out. Walked me to my destination, Club Nazz where I had a Red Stripe, used the Wifi for important stuff/connections. Made a few calls home & then headed back to the ship. Took a few shots outside the perimeter & peeked in a few more shops.
Grand Cayman - Moby Dick tours for snorkeling & the sand bar for the string rays. Had a blast! Those British gents who run the business are to cute & funny!!! Water was crystal clear & the rays are beautiful yet strong creatures. Needed tons of sun screen! Tip: Make sure to do your liquor run first as the store will send it to the ship, but it has to be done two hours before the last tender or you won't make the cut like I did. Oh well, I just settled on good gelato from "It's Sugar" & called it a day!
Cozumel - Took a cab to Nachi Cocom were I vegged out for the day. Beautiful tranquil location. I arrived just before lunch & met the infamous waiter Carlos. Warm clear water with schools of little white fish. After three rounds of good food (which included, nachos, grilled shrimp w/yellow rice & flan for dessert) and several coronas, water & shots of tequila I was done. I even managed to drift off to sleep for a few moments. Just beautiful.
Days at sea were spent in the hot tubs, reading, eating "Sprinkles" ice cream or touring the ship. My favorite spots were Sorrento's for a salad, Solarium for quiet & hot tub, deck four outside where you could lounge looking at the sea with few people around & Cafe Promenade for their granola bars!!!!!
Disembarkation was smooth, as I waited in the champagne lounge, cleared customs grab my bag & waited a couple of minutes for my town car! Smooth sailing baby.