We (Husband & I, Mom & Dad, Brother and his family) flew into Miami from Baltimore on June 14th at 9:00 am. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Absolutely fine hotel for a night prior to cruise. We had rooms with a view of the port so when we woke up Sunday we could see Freedom sitting there.
I rented a Mercedes coach limo (Broward Limo) to pick us up at MIA. I recommend them highly. We were going on the cruise to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary and their very first cruise. I had arranged for a tour of Miami, South Beach, and shopping areas. Our driver (Paul) took us over to a park where we could see Liberty of the Seas and other cruise ships on that Saturday docked. After the tour and picture opps we headed to the hotel. Our rooms weren't quite ready yet so we headed over to Bayside Marketplace. We had lunch overlooking the marina and did some shopping. After a quick thunderstorm we went over to the hotel. We checked in and went up to the rooms. They were clean, a little dated but all 3 were fine for the 1 night. We didn't find it noisy at night like some other people had talked about.
Sunday morning - There she was. In all her glory. Waiting for us to get on her.
We had a shuttle (KMG) arranged thru the bellman to pick us up at 10:00am. We headed over, through checkin and on the ship by 11:30.
I must admit. This was my 6th cruise (1st on RCCL). I was so excited for my parents & everyone else to see the ship than I was. I kind of new what to expect. I had seen and heard so much on CC that it was like I had already been on it.
Everyone was in awe. It was like a floating resort. The Promenade, all of the public spaces were just amazing. We just walked around for the longest time checking out every inch. We finally headed up to the windjammer and had some lunch. It was good but I think everyone was looking forward to seeing the cabins. At about 1 we head to the 7th floor. I had my parents room decorated with the Anniversary Package and it was great. Very nice. My 9 yr old nephew went down before anyone else because since it was father's day when we got on the ship he wanted to put a sign on his Daddy's and his PopPop's door. I had printed up 2 signs for that before I left home and carried them with me.
We all had balcony cabins and our cabin steward open the outside partitions so it made 1 gigantic balcony. It was great. My brothers room had a pullman that came out of the ceiling. My nephew is 9 and he loved it. It was put up every morning and brought down everynight.
My dad was like a little kid at the sailaway from Miami. He just couldn't get over the fact that he was finally here and going on his first cruise.
We were in Issac's dining room. Our table staff was great. I had arranged for a cake to be brought to my parents the first formal night and that went off without a hitch. My husband ordered the 7 btl diamond wine package prior to sailing. He loved it. They brought the list to him everynight for him to choose from. I think I have to agree with alot of people. The food in the Dining Room was not that good. I loved the cold soups. My nephew would taste mine loved them and he would order it. The steaks were really bad. Very tough.
We loved the islands. We went on a cruise in December with my husbands family to the very same islands.
San Juan - We walked around the town and over to a fort. It was great weather and the views were great from high above. We got some good pics. Getting off the ship though was a different story. We stood in the stairwells for a long time. It was a mass exit of people all at the same time and I really didn't think it was handled very well. We docked at 3:00 and my parents had an excursion at 3:30. They were having a terrible time getting off. They need to work on making sure people with excursions get off the ship first.
St. Thomas - Great as usual. My brothers family went on the Dolphin Discovery in Tortola. They loved it. Very highly recommended if you have kids.
We choose to spend the day with my parents. We went on the "Ultimate Island Experience" excursion that included a couple of hours at Magen's Bay, then Bleackbeards castle. We had enough after Magen's Bay. We ditched the tour and took a taxi into town for some lunch and shopping. And boy am I glad we did. We had lunch at Tavern on the Waterfront, with Jake the waiter, and I recommend the champagne and mango frozen drink. GOOD. After that we went shopping. My dad surprised by mom with buying her a new all the way around diamond wedding band and a blue diamond ring. We had a great time helping her pick them out. The casino was very good to me all week so I bought myself a diamond starfish necklace.
St. Maarten - Some of us beached it at Oyster Bay, took tours of the island and my husband and I did the Rhino Riders. By the time we got done I felt like I had been beat up. Where they took us riding was very rough so you got banged around alot.
It was hard to believe we were on our way to back to Miami. We were all hoping that the captain would take his time getting there.
We all had such a wonderful time on this ship. From the flowrider, mini golf, adventure ocean to the dancing in the streets. It could not have been better.
It gave me such great joy seeing my parents on this trip. My dad and mom loved sitting out on balcony watching sailaway from the different ports. They just couldn't get enough pictures of the ship, the color of the water and just how much they were enjoying themselves. They never wanted to go on a cruise. So when they said yes to this back last September I was very nervous that they would cancel. On this trip, they just kept saying "I can't believe we waited this long to do this". They have since told me that it was the best vacation they have ever been on. They are ready to go again. Who knows, we may be back on Freedom, same cabins, same dining room just a different itinerary.