Freedom of the Seas 10/15/2006 C&A Member Cruise
Flew out of CLE at 6:30AM but we didn't take off til 7AM, then the joke of ATL with Delta taxiing for a gate & the connecting flight was late so we landed in MIA at Noon. Got a taxi with a great female driver who took side streets to the dock. She stated she has carried hundreds already & we see a line of 15 deep folks from the front door all the way back to Carnival's terminal. As we are getting out of the taxi & our luggage out of the rear a great porter states "Hi Diamond Members" and takes our luggage and points to a long dark navy blue walkway with big doors under it & we are to go in those doors. Inside a security officer sees our pins & greets us also, and tells us to have a seat til immigration is done with debarking passengers. Another couple for England joins us with their 7 year old son. Then we are told to go up the escalator to the counter at the top, so we did & gave the gal our Set Sail paperwork & RCCL VISA card, got our key cards & onto Freedom for our first cruise on her. She is one magnificent ship. No way to do her justice trying to describe her, you have to be there to truly appreciate her.
So we hate buffets so no windjammer for us, so we hit 9 on the elevator & down to 9228 at 1PM (5th balcony from front on starboard side) & we are greeted by Ester our steward. One great lady from S Africa with a great sense of humor. She hands us 2 greeting cards for RCCL Gear & Gifts stating 2 bottles of wine from our TA are there but they are not. Ester will check where they went. We see the bed, with dark green shams behind the white down pillows, white duvet which is actually 2 top sheets sewn together with a quilt inside. Then a dark green runner going along the bottom of the bed.
So off we go to deck 15 - wedding chapel, that it. 14 is bars & Diamond Lounge with FREE cappuccino, espresso & regular coffee but not the same coffee machine that Seattle's Best gave Jewel, who we were on last May which did Latte also). We also noticed no china, just paper cups with bands to control the hot hands you get. No continental breakfast or lunch as yet but it is day 1. So down to 5 & the unbelievable Royal Promenade deck. There we see Sorrentos a great Italian restaurant with the best pizza on any cruise ship. 2 pots of iced water for free to drink. Their desserts ranged from tiramisu to fruit cups. Johnny, the head waiter, was one hunk of an Italian & knew how to wow the women. He also cares for the Promenade Cafe on the opposite end of the deck. Great sandwiches, more deserts & free coffee along with Seattle Best for iced coffee treats.
4:30PM is Muster Drill & putting on the life vest in Miami is quite HOT! Luckily everyone is greeted & complemented for proper fitting of the vest so we could take them off. Back up to the room to drop them off & off to Pharaohs Palace, the Diamond/Plus lounge for free cocktails 5-9PM. Great hot hor de ourves down each aisle and waitresses & waiters to take orders. Vodka martini for me & Miller Light for Jerry. Other members of Pink Boa Society, from the Cruises Critics web site, showed and sat with us til 6PM when it is dinnertime. Our table is for 4 at the window. The tables were quite packed with 2 on the railing, tables of 6 down the center & 4's at the windows. A man in a wheelchair could not get to his table. Many had no one in them first night. The room with the chandeliers was exquisite. Waiters called us by name, which amazed us. Iced tea was never empty, iced water was full also. Even the menus were like greeting cards that you open the various areas from appetizers to entrEes to desserts. Then onto the show with comedian Al Katz. Seen him on Leno & he did the same show on board. So to bed & what a great sleep on a great bed, just like home. We also get gift every night & find RCCL baseball caps for each of us.
Seas Day for Day 2, so we got to try mini golf. This is one course that is a challenge. You stand at the tee of the 1st hole & the hole is at your side. So this is a great course to play, especially on a windy day which has balls going all over. Then we went to check on Flowride & it was empty! It only has the flowing water when it is in session. Pools are packed, the H2O zone was filled with kids & parents but at night this is to be a light show per the ads from RCCL & it is totally dark. Dining room for lunch was great. Now up to pool deck for the Sexy Leg Contest for men. I was a judge as were 5 other Pink Boa Society ladies. The men were quite a treat of dancers, contortionists & a friend from Cruise Critics named Chris who showed in waffle robe, and stops in front of me with a long rose & a new gold & pink boa around my neck. He then peels off his robe gyrating away in his pink cut offs, then out of those to a pink speedo. Next a real treat from Puerto Rico at age 19. Then a guy who slipped on some water & fell on his but & got up & went into the splits. Then a 73 year old man with hairy legs that could be braided. SO we awarded bronze medals on blue RCCL ribbon to these 3 for hairiest legs, Flamingo legs to PR & Chris got best legs of a tourist. Formal Night was great with all the royalty on board. Long lines for portraits, a photo with Captain Erik Tenegelsen from Oslo Norway. Then we met Benny Weidacher, Hotel Director who became another great friend all week. Ken Rush, the Cruise Director knows all the Pink Boa Society ladies for the 6/4 inaugural, so it was a treat for him. Close to 1000 Diamond/Plus members. Dinner tonite was Chops for dudgeon's crab cakes, fillet mignon, and cheesecake for desert. Show tonite is MARQUEE with the RCCL dancers & singers. Typical cruise show doing Broadway hits Then a drink on the very hot balcony as lows are 86 with W Carib highs from 89 to 95. Gift that night was a small knitted bag with 1 oz Aloe brand suntan lotion, sunburn relief lotion & lip balm for each of us.
Day 3 COZUMEL - Diamond/Plus members get a FREE excursion, some went on a catamaran to snorkel which was a disappointment to them as they were next to the ship. Our excursion was Passion Island a 30 minutes bus ride to a ferry that carried 100 to the island. White sand beach, water that was muddy looking & 86 degrees, and a great guide who made sure games were fun, kids area was handled terrific, the buffet BBQ of fish & the world's smallest chicken with plenty of fresh fruits & dips with chips. Drinks were free also so Carona was the drink with margaritas. Then back to the ship at 4PM to shower & dress for dinner. Then to the Arcadia Theatre. Show tonite just blew us away with ABBA CADABRA. It was revisiting 1974 with the 2 husbands & wives who just divorced & the best music of the time. This show was so perfectly done & then they were off to Lake Tahoe. Now to bed early (10PM). Then the lights go on & laughing in the hallway & it is our steward coming in with daily gift & light covers. She is shocked we are there. So she is apologizing away. We got quite a laugh out of her shocked face. So she has the gifts for us which are RCCL shoulder bags that could carry a weekend's worth of stuff.
Day 4 Grand Cayman - nothing planned, just walking around to see how they rebuilt the island with some very nice stores & restaurants. The last store we visit was very entertaining with the guy yelling "I am cheaper than KMart" at us. I told him I wanted a tablecloth for our dining room table (Mahogany from 1935) and he pulled out white, off white & then a beige Mayan calendar that just took my breath away. $150 he stated. We said no then he came down to $80 and still no. No credit cards on us & the long line of folks for the tenders & getting on the ship would make it hard to get on, get the cards & come back. So we are leaving & my husband has only $35 on him & the guy said SOLD. SO for $35 I got my tablecloth. Then 7 other folks from the ship went with him to his store & he thanked us. Again a reminder that every night from 5-9 we are in Pharaoh Palace for FREE cocktails, so no more booze from us. Before and after dinner I had either vodka martinis or cosmopolitans. Bartender was TURNIP who was the best of the best. No show that night so we went to the ice show. Sat first row side on ice. Felt great! But 10 skaters on a small rink was a disaster waiting to happen. They were falling, one gal her head into the railing. But they get up & keep going. Even kids from the audience were used in 2 boats pulled along the ice in a number. They felt like performers. Gift that night was disappointing with a plate of cookies from C&A.
Day 5 Montego Bay, Jamaica - no plans, just walked off to be attacked by guys & gals wanting us to ride with them. So we got to a quaint store that had $1 magnets out of rock. Great carvings. So we bought 10 - many for Jerry's co-workers. Back to ship for Flowrider which was empty, no dining room for lunch, so we take our free meal coupon for Johnny Rockets & go up to 12 to eat there. Waiters & waitresses are doing a line dance but doors are locked. States 1:30PM opening time & it is 12:35. So again we walk around til 1:20 & head back up to Johnny Rockets. The place is packed! The Asst Manager tells us they opened at 12:45. We tell her we were there & told by that gal, pointing at the rude girls we spoke with, so as we are walking away she runs to us offering room service. She hands us the menus, takes our order & 10 minutes later we get double bacon & cheese burgers, fries, onion rings, Jerry got chocolate shake for free & I got cherry coke for free. She even phoned 30 minutes later to see if food was great as was service. Then we learn THIS IS A FIRST FOR FREEDOM! Show that night was "Once Upon a Time" which was the best of the RCCL shows we have seen. Sets, costumes as well as performers were tops! Gift that night was silver picture frames with small color print of Freedom.
Day 6 Labadee, Haiti which is RCCL private island & what a beautiful place this is. An area for the kids, adults head left to Dragon Breath which is an amazing rock formation where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean sea & it is a war of waves. When it hits under the rocks you hear the dragon growl. WOW! Atlantic side is too wide to float around in, so we go to Hideaway Beach which is packed with folks overlooking Freedom. Trams drive you around the island to shops, a flea market with some great people with great items,Jerk Chicken & ribs BBQ pits in 4 places so the crowd wasn't bad, free cocktails also. We were snorkeling til we were armed by the Beach Patrol who state YOU MUST WEAR A VEST. We don't so we can't snorkel. What BS! So we just laid & floated watching the moon zooming across the sky & many other saw it also. Then enough sun for us to back to the ship at 2PM. Nice cool shower to get all the sand off us & we stuffed up the shower drain. So poor Ester gets it cleared out & is ready for more on her area. Royal Promenade has its parade at 5:30PM which was just amazing to watch with great customers, metal stilts with performers on them in costumes, and at a drawing Jerry wins a Royal Caribbean watch in a metal silver chest that locks. Quite unique! Dinner was a Venetian theme with loads of pasta, antipasti, and canollis. Show that night was the best comedian we've seen in quite a while named Troy Thirdgill. He had the best stand up comedy on stage on a cruise ship. His big line was he was doing laundry & every time he referred to doing laundry we was dress in something weird like chaps & a yamika. Gift that night was a light weight backpack that you can see through.
Day 7, last day, gotta pack & give luggage to the gods. But we are at sea. A day to enjoy the whirlpool & all the ocean you see from it during the day as night is star filled with the little lights all over on the dark sky. Mini golf as flowing nicely as folks want one more try as we did. Pools & loungers were packed, so we decide to use our free 3 card bingo coupon & play bingo. I was 2 numbers away from a $9K jackpot. But they got a winner!!!!! BOO!!! Dinner was lobster & shrimp that both had to be removed from the shell by the waiter who does it with such character, and was it good. The show that nigh was much talked about by the crew with Drew Thomas, the magician teamed with the RCCL singer & dancers. We found it very hokey. He even ripped off David Copperfield for his "I knew this child who never saw snow" and he makes it snow. so we left. The Loyalty Ambassador Jayne had told us to stop up to talk over new cruises, so we did. but over 2 hour wait since their computers were failing. When this happens on other ships you get a $200 coupon towards you next booked cruise with your TA or RCCL. But not with a Lori Cantell, not Jayne who we never saw again, who was working controls for the 5 folks booking people. So we left & went to our stateroom with still no wine since day 1! We asked Ester who forgot but called her supervisor who still heard -0-. So down to the Purser we go & they were quite upset at this knowing our TA is a Key Account & they do not want to lose her. So we got $50 OBS & our TA got a refund on her credit card. So we packed, and had the RCCL gas to put stuff from last day in. Got to sleep early (9PM) since we have to be up & out by 8AM. Gift for last night was a leather-like frame.
OFF THE SHIP DAY - 6:30AM announcement in the room PA to wake up & be out by 8AM. Every 15 minutes again counting down time allowed. We have a 4PM flight so we got PINK tags for last off. Had breakfast in the dining room & headed for the waiting room with CNN on TVs & but TV are fuzzy with the pink noise sound, but nice sofa to relax on. 11:30AM we get called. Long lines to get off ship & then through customs with only 2 agents. Then into van with 5 rows of seats & we get far back. Made it to Delta who again has changed times on flights as well as plane which is now an 80 seat SAS plane with no overhead bins. So all carryon must be checked. 1.5 hour wait to takeoff on runway. Then ATL is a zoo with folks running for flights, pushing on tram between gates, etc. All flights are later for unknown reasons so we don't take off til 9PM & that was when we were to land in CLE. So we get home very late & no luggage. Gal states no room for it. It will arrive tomorrow & be delivered to our home but we have to wait in a line with 30 folks in it to give address info.
4PM next day luggage arrives, nothing stolen, just a wasted day home with no groceries either. But we remember the wonderful week we had on Freedom, one very beautiful ship with artwork that is unbelievable on every floor, so walk them to see it all.
NOW BRING ON GENESIS!