Here are a few things to mention: Captain: Manolis Kasselas Cruise Director: Richard Spacey Loyalty Ambassador: Cindy Dangel Hotel Director: Martin Rissley; Assistant: Michael Rasmussen Chief Engineer: Risto Kurilic
Okay here it is.
My Usair flight was at 8:30, so I wanted leave the house around 4:30 to go pick up my grandma and cousin. We had my sister's and my friend stay over along with my dad's friend. We all got up around 4:00, the adults a little earlier. We loaded up my dad's friend's pickup truck with most of the luggage, and then some in the other SUV. We left around 4:45 and picked up my grandma down the road. She was all ready, had 3 luggage between 2 people, so there was enough room. We ended up leaving the house around 5:00 and it was a breeze. Parkway East was smooth, no traffic. Then, parkway west was nice until a little closer to the airport, there was construction, down to one lane, but it wasn't too bad. We arrived at the airport and parking the cars in the extended lot, 6.75 per day. The shuttle bus picked us up and dropped the 8 of us off at the airport, lower level. We took the elevator up to Usair checkin, checked the 8 of us in, and noticed the other 3 that met us at the airport already checked in. They beat us there. Anyway, we checkin in, then took the bags to the end of the hall and off to security. The security line was the worst I have ever seen it at Pittsburgh, at it was about 6:10 when we got there. We waited in line for about 30 minutes and about 6:45 we were through. Nobody got stopped. We took the tram to airside and met all up. I went down to McDonalds to get a cappuccino and the au bon pain for a bagel. We all at the the gage.
8:00 they started to board the plane, it was pretty much full. We had rows 12 and 13. The flight left at 8:25, 5 minutes early, and arrived in FLL at 10:30, as a pose to the scheduled time of 11:06. We were 35 minutes early. We then went down to baggage claim and waited about 20 minutes. I called Sleep Inn and suites and they said the shuttle would be there in 15 minutes. We waited where they said to wait; it ended up being about 30 minutes. The van just fit the 11 of us and luggage.
It was about 5 minutes. The surrounding areas to the hotel were not nice. It was run down in my opinion. We arrived in the hotel, and it was nice. We checked in, and at 2 rooms for 12. They were on the 2nd floor, rooms 209 and 210. 210 was very nice, smelled good. Room number 209 smelled horrible. We immediately went down to the front desk and asked for a room. They agreed in a hurry, and got room 211 which was much better. The rooms at 2 queen beds, 1 pullout couch, a nice window, a nice big bathroom with a dirty shower, a nice big desk with a comfortable chair.
The elevators in the hotel were very slow. I think slower than the elevators on the ship, which had 14 floors to do. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant across the street. It was horrible and I do not recommend it. After lunch, we met up with my aunt who was going on the cruise with us. Her family brought her, because we wanted to see them, so we visited with them for about 4 hours. We brought some hot items, chips, dessert, and drinks at a Publix across the street, and set up a little buffet in the hotel breakfast area. It was very nice. After they left, we watched baseball on the big screen tv in the breakfast area. Around 9:00 we headed back to the room. At 9:30, I was in bed. The others in the other room went to the Mexican restaurant across the street. They said it was awesome.
(Sunday) Day 1: We woke up around 7:30 and headed down to the breakfast area. There were waffles, cereals, pastries, biscuits and sausage, and fruits. We all ate, walked around outside, went to the dollar store, and Walgreens. At 11:00, we all gathered together for our 11:30 pickup from the hotel to the port courtesy of Quality Limo Service. They picked us up at 11:45 and we were on our way to the port of Miami. It took about 45 minutes, we arrived at the port by 12:30. We got out our seapasses, and went inside. First was security, which was about 10 minute wait. Then, we went right up to checkin and get our seapass cards. It took about 15 minutes for all 4 cabins. After this was another line where they look at your seapass cards. Then, another line where they hand your number cards, and priority if you are diamond or d+. My grandma just turned diamond, so we got to go right to the ship, while the others had number 19. They were calling 14 when we left, so it took them about 20 minutes to get through.
We got on Freedom of the Seas, and went up to deck 11. We went out to the H2O zone, and bought 2 soda cards from Squeeze. After that, we admired the H2O zone for a second, and then into the Windjammer. We got 2 tables in the back, and got some food while waiting for the others. It was about 2:15 now, so after this, we walked around, went to my cabin. It was awesome. I loved the new bedding and the flat screen tv. We had cabins 6657, 6659, and cabin 6661. The other cabin was a promenade, cabin 6597. I checked out the room, and I did not like the setup of the promenade cabins. We then went to the onair club to watch sports. The Steeler game was on, and we watched it. We won, and it was over around 4:00. We walked around the promenade a little after the game, and it was awesome. At 4:10 we went back to the rooms, go the lifevests, and then headed down to the muster station, deck 4, C20. It was very hot. It took about 20 minutes from when we got there at 4:20. After this, we stopped back and put the vests away, and went back to deck 12 to watch us sailaway. It was very cool, took some pictures, watched. It was nice, and then dinner. We went to get ready, because all of our luggage was already there. Dinner was the Bon Voyage dinner, but I forgot what the menus were for some dinner, and I don't know what I ordered. Out waiter was Dariusz from Poland, and assistant waiter was Xinggang from China. He spoke very little English and had trouble communicating with him.
After dinner, we headed straight to the show, because it was 7:45 the first night. We sit in the last two rows of on the balcony of deck 5 as soon as you walk in the port side doors. I love those seats. We got introduced to the Cruise Director, Richard Spacey who was the most awesome, best CD in the world. He was so funny. The acts for tonight were comedian Miguel Washington, who funny, but not they funny. Then Agnes and Peter. They were also awesome. They do an act where they climb ropes and stretch and other stuff. It was very cool. The show wasn't that long. We just sat in Sorrentos after this. We looked around the Royal Promenade. We explored the ship and more pizza now. The crew that works in Sorrentos does magic tricks. Martin and Apit 'Armpit" are the best. They mad a cherry turn into a can of coke, a broken toothpick turn into a fixed toothpick and more. After this was the Party around the world parade. It was awesome. We got a front row seat and table at Sorrentos. After the 11:15 parade, we headed to bed around 12:00. That was all for day 1.
Monday (Day 2) Our first day at sea. The weather was not so nice today. It was not a pool day, until about 4:00. I woke up around 8:00, and most of us ate in the main dining room. The breakfast was okay, I got an omelet at it was really good. The service in the morning depends on the personality of the waiter. That morning, it was not so good. After this, we had a newbie in our group, so I took him on a tour of the ship, top to bottom. It took about a ½ hour. The others stood in line for the ice show tickets. Main show people be advised to get the Tuesday, 9:00 show.
We went to bingo, our first session at 11:00. After this, we ate lunch. We all met up and ate in the main dining room for lunch. I got the tutti pasta. I did not care for it, being Italian and all. I think they put nutmeg or something in it. The dessert was good, I got the cheesecake, cookies and cream.
After lunch, we walked around the ship, shopping, and then around 4:00, the sun came out. It was so nice. I put on my suit with sister and friend, and we went swimming and the H2O zone. At 5:00, I went to my cabin to get ready for dinner. It was formal night, the captain's gala dinner. We had table 302, as soon as you get into the dining room, the big 12 person table on the starboard side. It was next to the captains table as well. I think tonight was the filet. It was very good, escargot and filet. And I think the dessert was grand mariner soufflé. It was to die for. We left around 7:20, and the captain came in at 7:30, so we missed him. (I did not see him the whole trip, he didn't even come to the members reunion.)
After dinner we went back to change into something a little less formal. I then went ice skating with my sister and friends. Then, we went to get out seats for the production show "Marquee". It was the best show ever. It combined some of the best Broadway shows ever. The singers and dancers were fantastic. I thought it was the best show I ever saw.
After that, I walked around, went to Sorrentos for pizza and that fabulous mouse they have everyday. Then, the adults went to Late Night Comedy with the comedian from the welcome aboard show, Miguel Washington. I went to bed around 12:30.
(Wednesday) Day 3 Today is Puerto Rico day. We woke up late today, around 8:30 or 9:00 and went to the Windjammer for breakfast. It was a great pool day. After breakfast we all went up to the pool area and relaxed. I loved the freshwater pools, the H2O zone, and the whirlpools. I got a lot of sun today. We went to lunch at Johnny Rockets today. We ate around 12:45. My aunt had a massage at 2:00. It was okay, I got the Chili Fries and a Chocolate Malt. I loved the malt, it was great. The service in Johnny Rockets are very good, as well as the food.
My aunt left for her massage at 2:00, she ordered a Swedish massage. She said it was the best one she ever got. We just went back to the cabin and got ready for Puerto Rico. I took a shower, since I would have less time to get ready before dinner. We met my aunt at 3:00 in Sorrentos. One of the crew members entertained us before she got there with magic. He broke a toothpick and then fixed it. We got off the ship around 3:15, and got a taxi. The taxi driver was rude, but I guess you have to in San Juan with the drivers.
We saw the guy with the Segways, he was not ready for us until 4:00, which was the time of my tour. It was so nice up there by el morro, a nice breeze. My 2 aunts and grandma waited for me and my aunt to be done. The Segway for me was easy to driver, but my aunt struggled. He took us down bumpy hills, we saw the gate, the fort, the governors house, a few other places. It was nice for 45 minutes. Riding the segways was funner than the actual tour.
We ended around 5:00, and headed down to the pier. I ran up the hill to get a t-shirt, 3.50. It was nice. At 5:30, we went to the ship and got dressed for dinner. It was the crown and anchor dinner. 50-70s attire or casual worked tonight. Dinner was very good, and the dessert was good too. We ate until 7:30, because we arrived for dinner a little late tonight. After that, we went to the ice show at 9:00. We seats early and got a few drinks, virgin for me. Today's drink of the day was the cocoloco. It was dark rum, pina colada, papaya, orange juice, and grenadine. The ice show was all about Freedom. It was great. I thought it was one of the best ice shows out of 4 ships that have them besides the Mariner.
After this, we went to Sorrentos, got a snack, and then it was time for the 70s. 70's song tribute was at 10:30 with 2 singers Joel and Raquel. They were fantastic. Then it was time for dancing in the street with the greatest hits from the 70s. The cruise director Richard Spacey was awesome here, he was hilarious. We actually went into a lady's promenade stateroom who was watching and danced with her in a firemans outfit. After this, I went to sleep around 11:30.
(Wednesday) Day 4 It was hard to believe it was day 4. I got up early, around 7:30 because we had a tour scheduled for 10:00 with Godfrey, with all 12 of us. We ate in the Windjammer. Then, we walked a mile and got our shipshape dollars while watching the Carnival Valor come into port and dock. It was awesome. The Freedom docks in the back, and then Valor just comes right in behind the Freedom, passes it, and pulls in the front.
We all met at Sorrentos, and got off at 9:30. Godfreys tours had our name up, we had his tour guide Curt Burley. We saw godfrey in town and mountaintop. We waited for one other family who had the 2 hrs shopping. The first thing we did here was go directly to the place my mom got her jewelry last year, Gold Mine. Everybody bought there Jewelry here, my aunt bought earrings, other aunt bought earrings, bracelet, and ring. My mom bought a bracelet. After this, we went to get little souvenirs at the flea market and then it was time for the tour to begin at 12:00. We started up the hill, we stopped a few times to point out landmarks. I thought we were going to heaven. We just kept going up higher and higher. Then, it was mountaintop, we stopped and one person bought a banana daiquiri, it was like 8.00 dollars. We saw all the surrounding islands, and magens bay looked so pretty. Finally, off to the beach.
We chose to go to magens bay. It costed an extra 4.00 dollars pp. I thought that it was not worth it. The water and scenery is what you pay for. The sand part was dirty, but they did have shower areas and an expensive gift shop and restaurant. My personal opinion, a tourist trap. (One of the Most beautiful beaches in the world)
It took about an hour to get back (we stopped at coki and picked up 4 people). We got back to the ship around 4:30. I was literally falling asleep in an open aired van. It was horrible. I went back and just laid down and then got dressed for dinner.
Dinner was the surf dinner, shrimp and beef. The beef I got was an end piece, it was not good. I did not care for it. Appetizers and desserts are always good.
9:00 was the magic show, Now you see it starring Philip Kaiser. He was fantastic. It was a great show. As I said every night, Freedom has the best entertainment at sea.
We stayed in the theater for the love and marriage game show. It was so so so funny, my favorite show ever, and I laughed so much. Richard is awesome. Anyone who saw it will no what an 18D is. It lasted about an hour and a half. Then, it was time for the poolside buffet. There were a ton of people there, a ton of food, desserts, ice cream. It was awesome. I wanted choc covered strawberries, but could not find them anywhere since they did away with the gala buffet. At 1:00, I went to bed.
(Thursday) Day 5 Today is Thursday, St. Maarten Day. I wasn't in a hurry to get off the ship, neither was my family, so we just took it slow. I got up and we were already docked, it was around 8:00. I ate breakfast with my aunt in the dining room, the others went up to the Windjammer, they like it better. Breakfast was very good, I got the Fast Fare breakfast, service was great, food was hot, and everything was fine.
After breakfast, I went back to the room, to put on my bathing suit and we met up with the others. We ended up getting off the ship around 10:00, there were 6, the other 6 got off earlier. I gave them a walkie talkie so we can find them later on. We all got the roundtrip water taxi tickets, and we got off at the second stop, near downtown, not uptown (Bobby Marina). The weather was great, it was really hot. We started out by going shopping, stopping at all the shops, jewelry, perfume, linens, souvenirs, purses, etc. We ended up at the old street (old town) and we went to Kenny's where the souvenirs were 4 for 10. He also had a place for liquor across the street. That is also where the chocolate shop is, where they have a free sampler coupon that is handed out on the water taxi. After shopping, 2 of us went back to the ship, while the other 3 and I went to eat. We ended up at Burger King, and then after that we went to the beach.
We found them down at the beach, a long walk down on the boardwalk. It was nice, they already had 4 chairs and 2 umbrellas. For 2 chairs and 1 umbrella, it is 10 dollars. So we decided to get one more set. As soon as I got there, the people next to us came back from renting a wave runner. They said it was awesome, so I decided to try it with another person in my group. It was 45 dollars for a half hour, which was plenty of time. They rent them right there on the beach. It was really fun. We stayed to the right side of the beach, switched drivers in the middle, and I got it to about 40mph. It was very fun, entertaining, and you can get good views of the island out there.
After this, I went into the Great Bay Beach water. It was very nice. I don't know why everyone didn't like it, there were a lot of people there. The water was just right. You could get tons of shells there, close to drinks, to the pier, has a boardwalk, and shopping comes to you. These ladies sell stuff right on the beach. Some of us bought a few things right there.
At around 4:30, we headed back to the ship, and by 4:45, we were on. Boarding the ship in port was so easy, not line at all. We went right up to the cabin, showered, and then went to dinner. Tonights dinner was the Italian night, Venetian feast. That's where the dining staff sings on the stairs, it was very nice.
The show tonight was the Headliner show, staring Scott Record. It was at 9:00, so we got there around 8:30, and talked a while. Scott Record was so good. He was an impressionist/comedian, but he was a better impressionist. He really was not that funny, but did great voices and had a great singing voice. A show not to miss.
After this, there was a ton of things to do, but we just walked around, talked, ate some more, and found a few things to do. There were other things to do tonight we decided to skip. Senses in Vintages was at 10:00, there was a 7:00 ice show, battle of the sexes was at 10:30, and that's pretty much it. We went to sleep around 12:00.
(Friday) Day 6 Today was a nice pool day. The weather was nice, hot and the sun was out. We ate in the windjammer today, and then went outside to get our chairs. At 9:00, they had a huge t shirt sale outside by the H2O zone. They were 2 for 20, and of course there was a mob of people there. There was also a lot more besides shirts. At 9:30, we had a appointment with Cindy. We all booked 4 rooms for the Liberty of the Seas next Oct. 4, for the Western Caribbean. It was lunch in the windjammer after some sun. It was okay. After this, it was the Men's international belly flop competition hosted by the one, the only Richard Spacey. It was great, very funny, and not to miss.
After this, it was win a cruise bingo. We did not win a cruise, but we did win something. We won a big chunk of change. By 5:05, I went back to the cabin to change into my formal wear and take a shower. Tonight was lobster night, great food tonight. I had 2 lobsters, but I used to have more. They are not as happy to give you seconds or thirds anymore like they used to. One cruise, the waiter just kept bringing them over and over, until I had to say stop. I guess with so many people, you don't have enough.
After dinner, we went to change again and walk around, and at 8:30 went to the Arcadia for The Production show Once Upon a Time. The show was at 9:00, and it was great. It was a combination of fairy tales like Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Pinocchio, and more. It was great, truly one of the best shows at sea.
After this, we walked around, shopped, went to Sorrentos, and then went to sleep again around 12:30. Other things to do tonight were Quest, 20 Nightclub poolside, Studio 84, dancing and music from the 80's.
(Saturday) Day 7 Awwww, Day 7. Our last day, a sea day. Today was so much fun. Although, the weather was not to good. It was pretty much yucky all day. After breakfast in the dining room, we went to get spots by the pool. It was overcast, and it was sprinkling a little. Around 10:15, we realized bingo was soon, so we went down to the Arcadia theater, and started bingo around 10:30. It was the snowball jackpot, almost 5,000 dollars, but it did not go. So we decided we were not going to play the next session. After this, we went to lunch in the main dining room, and actually, it was very nice. I had the sweet potato soup. I didn't think I was going to like it at first, but then I tried it, and it was awesome. During dessert after lunch, at 1:00, I ran up to the computer area and printed out our boarding passes. I got there, and printed out the first reservation of passes, then after that, the printer had a paper jam, and then another, and then another. 3 paper jams, and then I got them printed.
After lunch, we went to sit in the solarium for a while, and I ate my dessert that I couldn't finish in the dining room. After that, I went and we did a scavenger hunt and a picture hunt. It was really fun. That took us to about 3:30, and it was bingo time again. 4:00 bingo started, and the jackpot was close to 7,000 dollars. We came 2 numbers to winning, but we didn't. It was really sad. After this, we went up to get changed for dinner. Before dinner, I had a little time, so we went to the karaoke booths in the on air club and did a couple of songs. This thing is so cool, and it is free to do, but if you want to purchase you songs, you can at the photo gallery. What you do is slide your seapass on a machine, and then pick a song, the background, and then if you want people to see or not. It is really neat. Definitely try it. It was the feast of nations dinner, we all had turkey dinner. For dessert, there was key lime pie and brownie madness. Do not get the brownie, it was drier than my shoe. All of the waiters also sing a farewell song after dinner, which was nice. After dinner, was walked around, and I wanted to get a couple more things in the logo shop. They reduce everything on the last day. Then it was time for the farewell show. Right off the back, Richard made everybody laugh by doing an Austin Powers parody. It was hilarious, it was awesome, and fun. Richard was Austin, and the bingo dingo leigh was dr. evil. They even had a cardboard mini me there. It was hilarious. Then, at the end, they came running in the theater, just like the end of the clip, singing the Austin powers song. It was funny. Then, Richard preformed a dance for us, of all the dances he saw in the crypt night club. It was the funniest thing I ever saw, and he said it is on youtube if you type in Richard Spacey.
The next act was the lovely Agnes and Peter act. Truly a great act. 2 Thumbs up. Then, Dan Wilson came on. This man was hilarious. He was so funny. Anyone on my sailing will laugh at this one; SNACK, SNACK, SNACK, SNACK.
Then, the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers came on and reps from the whole ship from each department came on and sung and danced. It was a really nice show.
After this, we went back to the Café Promenade to get a snack, and then off to pack and put the luggage's outside. After this, I got a virgin mango daiquiri because my grandma had a coupon for a free one in a souvenir glass. Then, it was bedtime around 12:00. It was a fun night, for a last night.
(Sunday) Debarkation Day Today was a very depressing day. We were supposed to get up at 6:00, but for some reason, my aunt came at 5:30 and woke us up. Apparently, she couldn't sleep. By 6:00 we were in the windjammer, eating breakfast. We watched the Norwegian Pearl come into port. She looks like a nice ship. At 6:30, we were done with breakfast. We waited for our group in the business center, where they had chairs. We had grey color, supposed to be called at 7:30-8:00, but they called it at 6:45. We got right off the ship, and zipped through customs (like in 5 minutes for all of it). By that time, we went down to get our luggage. First was white, so we waited. We figured around 7:30. We must have saw the white tags 50 million times. It was not until 8:20 until grey came out and we got our bags. We waited almost an hour and a half for our luggage in a room with a million other people. They did not work with the ship or the ship called the colors to fast. Anyway, I was not impressed with that. Next year, I am going to carry my luggage off, and wait in the airport. You can wait in the Arcadia Theater, onair club, and studio b until you get off. The golf area is open, basketball, and photography store is open too.
Our transportation company, Quality Limo Service picked us up at 9:00, and we got to FLL around 9:35. We checked in our luggage outside, with Southwest. It was very fast. Then we waited for my one aunt's daughter to come and pick her up. When she did, we noticed it was raining a little bit, but nothing to bad.
The security line was not that bad, about 30 minutes. And stupid me, I bought a globe at the logo shop onboard, and I didn't want it to break, so I carried it on. Well, I totally forgot it had water it it, over 3 ounces, so they took it from me. Good thing I only spent 5 dollars on it. I had the option of mailing it, but I said, for 5 dollars, just take it and pitch it. They had a dunkin donuts in that terminal, so we all went to get coffee or something and a pastry. Also, they had an unos pizza, so we shared a couple small ones.
Our flight on southwest was at 1:20, we left around that time, and landed in Baltimore around 3:40. We all got a snack at aunt Annes pretzel company, and then waited for our flight. Our next flight was at 5:05 to Pittsburgh, so we waited in line A for that, and then off it was to home. We all got our luggage's at Pittsburgh, and then it was goodbye. We took 3 cars to the airport, all going separate ways. It was really sad. We parked at the extended lot, got out really fast, and then it took 40 minutes to get home. It was also very cold, so that did not help. But the next few days, it got warmer, so we must have brought back the heat with us.