I've written this review in two parts. The first part is an overall summary of our experience. I also included a more detailed day-to-day review which includes port information. To view my review with pictures, please go to http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1120792 Thanks for reading!
I am Michele (36) and I travelled with my children: DD 9 (turned 10 on the cruise), DD 6, and DS 14 months. My parents (50s), sister (24), brother (23) and niece (14) were on the cruise as well. My hubby was supposed to go, but couldn't due to work demands. I have cruised on the Mariner of the Seas, but this was my children's first cruise. My parents, siblings and niece have at least one cruise under their belts with previous cruises on Disney, Carnival and Navigator of the Seas (first week in January 2009).
Our overall experience was excellent - really, we wouldn't change a thing. Okay, the weather left a LOT to be desired, but there's not much anyone can do about that. The wind was incredible on our sailing with effective winds up to 60mph! Decks were closed on multiple occasions because of high winds.
Opportunities to eat (and overeat) were numerous. We found the food to be quite good as we enjoy food and are easy to please. The main dining room had enough options each night for each of us to find something we liked. The desserts were lacking in flavor/richness, but there were a few that stood out (flourless chocolate cake was great!). The Windjammer seemed boundless in its offerings. My family always found something good to eat, and then some. Johnny Rockets is a fun place to eat, but you will pay a small cover charge ($4.95). I think it is so easy to overlook the Cafe Promenade and Sorrento's - they are wonderful places to have a bite to eat. Unfortunately, we didn't dine at Chops or Portofino's this trip (but I've loved them in the past!). Ben and Jerry's offers a fine solution for a sweet tooth, at an additional cost.
Entertainment and activities were good to great on this cruise. I really enjoyed the shows I went to and wish I had time to see more. The ship offered so many options to keep us as busy as we wanted to be, or not. Unfortunately, we just didn't get around to trying many things, including the rock wall, mini-golf, ice skating (don't forget those long pants!), and so much more. The pools were cool temperature, but were a huge source of FUN for my kids.
The Adventure Ocean program was good. My girls enjoyed going and meeting new friends, and the staff treated them well. They made crafts each day and participated in many active activities. The toy lending program is offered through Adventure Ocean as well. This is a great addition for families travelling with children too young to participate in the clubs. In cabin babysitting is extra ($12 per hour), but worked out great for my toddler. Babysitters come in pairs for safety.
I am a non-smoker and do not tolerate smoke well. I found the Freedom to be non-smoker friendly while still catering to the wants of smokers. There are areas of the ship that smell stale and smokey (especially the casino and the Crypt), but most areas are well contained. There are only a handful of bars that people can smoke in, plus balconies, and a few open air decks. There was no smoking in the Royal Promenade - a huge plus to me!
Our staterooms were great! We had one junior suite and 4 promenade cabins in a row, each pair connecting). The JS was very roomy with more than enough space for two people - more than enough space for 4! The promenade cabins were surprisingly efficient and roomy too. There isn't a lot of extra floor space, but there is plenty of seating with the love seat and window seat. Storage space was more than adequate, especially since these rooms are made for a maximum of two people. Out stateroom attendant always kept our rooms clean and orderly, and provided great towel animals each night.
Service on the Freedom far exceeded my expectations. At the minimum, service was excellent! Special mention must go to the Windjammer staff who consistently went above and beyond their call of duty by going out of their way to find tables for our group, bringing us drinks and food, finding highchairs, etc. I cannot say enough about their service. Also, our headwaiter was phenomenal. He was present for each meal and always offered his services to our family. He was wonderful to my children as well.
I've only cruised twice, both times on Royal Caribbean, but they've made a cruise fanatic out of me! Out of my entire family, really! I cannot wait to try more of their ships, and perhaps re-do the ones we've already been on. Their product is great for families with a little (or a lot) to do for people of all ages. My children tell me every day how much they miss "the cruise," and how they want to be back on the ship. Me too.
***DETAILS of our Cruise***
Our pre-cruise stay was at the Radisson at the Port. I have mixed feelings about this hotel. It was a good value; however, it shows some signs of wear and tear. On a negative note, I returned to my room after dinner and saw signs of brown, chunky liquid backed-up in my sink. EWWW! I called the front desk and they sent someone right away; however, the maintenance man did not clean it (he just wiped it out with a rag and said it was from the Draino that he used in the room next door). Honestly, I don't care what it was, don't want to know, and I avoided that sink like the plague. Thankfully, the room had two sinks - one in the bathroom (tub/shower, toilet, sink) and one in the dressing area (this was the nasty one). On a more positive note, the grounds were nice, the staff was helpful, and, overall, the place was clean. We had Sleep Number beds - my first experience with them.
A perk for those driving - this hotel offers a free place to park your car while on your cruise, and includes a free shuttle to and from the port. Parking at the port costs $105 for the week (7 day cruise) while the hotel costs $107/night (our rate) making either the hotel or parking "free." If you want to use their shuttle service, reserve your shuttle time at the time of booking to get the best available time. We did not use the shuttle because we wanted the convenience of parking at the port.
DAY 1: Port Canaveral:
This is only my second time at Port Canaveral, and seeing the ships makes me grin from ear to ear. I just love it!
We parked in the outside parking area - felt that it would be quicker to get there instead of the garage parking after disembarkation (it was!). The luggage went to the valets, and off we went to the terminal.
Our check in experience was amazing. There was NO line on the right entrance. We walked right through, up the elevator (I had a stroller) to the main lobby area, then straight to the check in "line" (there was no line). My family and I gave our set sail passes to the check in staff, then, 5 minutes later we were finished. There was a "holding" area since the ship was not boarding yet, but we were told we could board the ship since we had a baby in a stroller (I think the stroller was key!). From our car to the ship was less than 30 minutes. It was AWESOME!
We took the time to tour the ship from bottom to top (the hard way!). It was awesome to be back on Royal Caribbean! Freedom is so much like Mariner in the layout - just bigger with a few more amenities. She felt like home.
We were able to get into our cabins by 1. I couldn't wait to see them! I was the travel coordinator for our family and hoped everyone would love their staterooms. My parents were booked in a junior suite (hump cabin, 9344), while the rest of us were booked in 4 adjoining/connecting promenade cabins (8257, 8259, 8261, 8263).
The junior suite was great - lots of room and plenty of storage space. My mom is a clothes whor... er, hog, and loved the walk-in closet. She was able to fit all her things in the closet without using the additional shelving unit in the stateroom. The hump cabin, I'm told, is basically the same size as any other cabin in its category; however, there is additional space between the curtains and the balcony door (a few feet, actually). This could be useful to those of you who over pack.
The rest of us had the Promenade staterooms. I was really looking forward to checking these out - I never thought I'd be in an inside cabin, but I was surprised to find that I really liked this category. There were two of us in each cabin (except my brother had his own cabin at just over 150% of the single passenger rate). We had plenty of room and then some. Really. And, I waaaay over packed. Remember, I'm travelling with my three kids, one still in diapers. Not only did I bring "summer clothes," but I brought winter clothes, spring/fall clothes, a stroller, a backpack carrier, beach gear, snorkels, diapers, more diapers, wipes, toiletries, formal attire... shall I go on? Besides the closet space, I used the 4 drawers below the TV in each of the two rooms my kids and I shared - and that's it. Everything fit in those two places. Would I travel in this type of stateroom again? It depends. If my husband was travelling with me, then I'd get a balcony; however, the two staterooms together were less than the price of one balcony. I wouldn't hesitate to book this again if I was travelling with just my kids or needed a low budget option.
We continued to explore the ship, had lunch in the Windjammer, made babysitting reservations for my son, then participated in the Muster Drill. It was relatively painless, except for holding my 25 pounder in my arms for 20 minutes or so. I thought my back was going to break. I also thought they'd allow me to go a few minutes early. Wrong. Oh well... I'm not going to complain on vacation!
Sail away was pretty uneventful. It was so cool outside. We tried to enjoy the heli-pad area... tooooooo cold and breezy. A pina colada (or two) helped a little, but we eventually made our way back into the ship and met our parents in Boleros.
We made our way back to our staterooms to find our luggage had arrived. I unpacked before dinner (8 bags in less than an hour!), then went to the Main Dining Room for our first dinner on the Freedom.
Dinner was great (I appreciate fine dining, but appreciate someone else cooking for me even more. I'm not too hard to please!). Having read the reviews of the Vidalia Onion Tart, I ordered one. Could've ordered a few - loved it! I had the quesadillas for dinner - pretty good too (filled with spinach, chicken, onions, cheese). My youngest DD ordered from the children's menu and couldn't have been happier. My oldest DD ordered from the adult menu and couldn't have been happier. My DS ate off of my plate and couldn't have been happier. I was happy that everyone was happy.
The evening's entertainment was the Welcome Aboard Show. Acrobats Duo Mosolov were okay, but I left after a few minutes to get my son to sleep. I missed the comedian, but heard he was funny (Scott Wyler).
A great thing about the Promenade staterooms is the view to the Royal Promenade. Because the first parade is on the first night, and it's late, it was a great way for my kids to be ready for bed while still able to watch the parade. They LOVED it. Afterwards it was time for bed. The ship was rockin' and rollin' from the wind and waves. Little did we know it would last the entire week.
DAY 2: Cococay, Bahamas
Good morning! After a great night's sleep (from all the rocking of the ship!), we woke up to a hopeful beach day on Cococay. Our lovely weather was overcast and windy with a high of 68 degrees. Not such a great beach day, but still nice to get off the ship and look around the island. After a good breakfast, we tendered to the island without any problems. The tenders were quite rocky!
Upon arriving on Cococay, we decided to explore the island. My DDs and siblings waited at one of the first beaches while the rest of us took a walk along the shoreline. We past Barefoot Beach, then hit the nature trail back to the family waiting on us. We ate a buffet lunch (nothing great, but not bad either), then took the entire family towards Barefoot Beach for the rest of the afternoon.
Barefoot Beach is very quiet and just a short walk from the main area of Cococay. If you're looking for a relaxing day with a handful of other cruisers, then head this direction.
If you're looking for something more remote, then Cococay has that too. In fact, it can get quite remote feeling if you follow the shoreline (you will have to walk in the water at some spots) or follow the nature trail. It was just perfect for our family!
Tonight is formal night! We went back to our staterooms straight from the tender to get ready for dinner. Everyone needed showers and I was in charge of getting 3 kids plus myself ready for dinner. We started our evening in the dining room; however, my son was wiped out from his day at the beach. Because I *AM* one of those responsible parents who tries to keep her kids well behaved in public and I was NOT succeeding with my baby this evening, I decided to take him to the Windjammer after 20 minutes of being in the dining room. So, off in our formal clothes we went.
Upon entering the Windjammer I immediately noticed two things (I have never eaten in the WJ for dinner). One, it had a nice ambiance - low light, tables somewhat set, tablecloths, etc. And, two, my son and I were way overdressed! After we sat down with our new dinner in the WJ, he decided to go into a coughing spell and demonstrate what food looks like alllllll over his cute clothes. Sigh. I hadn't even gotten pictures. I was really disappointed in formal night - no main dining room, no cute clothes for the babe, and no pictures! Thankfully, I had a pair of khakis that worked out fine.
After dinner, I took the girls to their first evening in Adventure Ocean. They were excited to go meet some new friends (and they did!). The rest of us spent the evening walking the decks and exploring the ship at night. Tonight's production show was Marquee. I did not go, but my mom went and enjoyed it. After a while of walking the decks, I picked up the kids. They wanted a snack. Sure, why not? Off to Sorrento's we go for a slice of pizza and a little sweet. This would turn into a nightly ritual for us.
DAY 3: Sea Day
Today is a sea day. I'm really hoping to find good weather today, but learn that it is raining, windy, and cool. Thankfully, the day improved as we went on.
I had several things planned for today. Our Meet and Mingle was schedule in Olive or Twist at 10:15 and our Poker Cabin Crawl was scheduled for 1:00 PM. I took my kids and sister to the M&M for a quick hello. The M&M was well attended; however, the Royal employee was terrible. She said a quick hello, gave away a few door prizes, then left. As this was my first M&M, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought there would be a little more effort on our host's part. Several fellow Cruise Critics agreed and told me their previous M&Ms were handled much better. Oh well... I had fun stopping in and was really looking forward to the poker cabin crawl.
My girls were begging to get to Adventure Ocean before lunch, so off we went, then I made a stop in the Windjammer for a late breakfast. The girls had to be picked up by noon, so back to AO I went, then back to the WJ for lunch. (Hey, I was on a cruise and calories don't count.)
Because AO isn't open at 1, I took my kids to the Solarium (no heart attacks, please... it was just to meet my parents so they could take the kids while I went to the poker crawl) . They went swimming in the H2O zone - they LOVED it! My son really loved the baby splash zone where swim diapers are allowed. I'm so glad it was available. On a side note, the pool attendants were out in full force making sure kids with swim diapers were only in the baby zone while keeping kids who weren't in diapers out of the baby zone. It was nice.
Off to the poker cabin crawl I went with my brother. We donated our $5 to "charity," then went in groups to see cabins 1656, 9340, 8714, 7575, 6410, and 6214. We drew a card in each stateroom. The player with the best hand in the end won the pot. I'm not sure how much money there was, but it was close to $200, I think. I had 2 pair, but lost to 3 of a kind (kings). Oh well! I had a great time seeing the different cabins, including a junior suite, center hump D cabin, royal family suite (aft), a corner aft cabin, promenade cabin, and a balcony all the way forward with a "bubble" on one side. Seeing the different cabins was a great! I really appreciate my fellow CCers welcoming us into their little piece of real estate! THANKS, guys!
Two hours later, I had to take responsibility of my kids again. My oldest was in AO, while my other two were still in the water. By 4:30 I had to get my oldest, then off to get ready for dinner.
The girls had dinner at Johnny Rockets with Adventure Ocean. I had to sign them up by noon - it was no problem. They were really looking forward to it, but "trouble" was brewing. When I dropped them off, they seated my girls together. Okay, I'm thinking, they will enjoy that. However, they seated several 5 and 6 year olds with my girls. Great for my 6 year old, not so good for my 10 year old. She wanted to sit with her new friends, but the staff seat the kids as they come in. HUH?! I'm not sure why they did this and didn't allow my oldest to sit with her age group, but it was a bummer for her. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but to a 10 year old it is very disappointing.
In the meantime, I went to dinner in the MDR and found it to be good. Again, if someone is cooking for me and the food is edible, I don't complain. I found the quality to be similar to good chain restaurants - definitely better than Applebees, but not 5 star dining. I'll take that kind of food any day of the week.
The Headliner Show was Beatlemania Live in the Arcadia Theater. I really, really enjoyed this show. There was a bit of comedy thrown in with the music. The audience loved them too - a standing ovation ended the show.
My DD's Sea Pass wasn't working, so I went to Guest Relations to get it fixed. Let me say that the staff at this desk were always super friendly and smiling. I had a few business items to take care of through the week, plus reserving babysitting for my son, and getting Sea Pass cards to work properly. There was never a problem. On this trip, one of the Guest Relations staff told me that they reprint between 100 and 500 Sea Pass cards EVERY day. Apparently, the magnetic strip is easily erased by cameras, credit cards, cell phones, etc. Sounds like RCCL needs to look into ways to make their cards more effective.
After walking around for a bit, I picked up the girls from AO and went to the Royal Promenade for our snack. The Dancin' in the Street party was going on - busy and crowded, but I managed to get through with the stroller. Something to add about the parades and parties in the Royal Promenade - you CAN hear them in your Promenade room! It sounds like a "thump, thump, boom, boom" (kind-of like a car with the bass turned all the way up - you know what I mean, don't you?). I didn't find it to be too intrusive since it was always finished by 11 or so. If noise bothers you and/or you're an early bird, then you may want to rethink this type of cabin. For most people though, I think the benefit of having an interior with a window far outweighs any muffled noise.
DAY 4: St. Thomas
After another rockin' night on the ship (the wind has been incredible!), we wake up to warmth and sunshine! After a quick breakfast in the Windjammer, we get ready for our day in St. Thomas.
St. Thomas was a little difficult for me to plan. There were several ships in port that day so we knew it would be busy, plus, we didn't want to plan an excursion since we really wanted a relaxing beach day. On our own we went... I suggested three beaches to my family: Magens Bay, Sapphire Beach or Secret Harbour. We really wanted to snorkel and then figured we'd try the public transporation instead of the taxis at the pier. Oh my... Now, for those of you not familiar with St. Thomas, the taxis are mostly open air buses and the rates are set. It was going to cost $10 per person each way for our group. If you walk a "few blocks," you can get an almost identical open air bus for $2 per person to take you to Sapphire Beach. Thinking that we would see a little more of St. Thomas, we opted for the second choice. Hmmm...
Those few blocks turned into over a mile. Now, I really don't mind walking and generally prefer it; however, St. Thomas looks old and worn out. I really did not enjoy the walk to the bus stop. But we continued on for the sake of "exploration." After walking for about 20 to 30 minutes (remember, we have kids and weren't exactly sure where we were going), we found the bus stop. We were definitely the only tourists there, everyone else was local. We only waited a few minutes before the bus came, then hopped on. About 20 minutes later, we were at our stop and rang the "door bell" apparatus that was on the ceiling of the bus. The driver let us off and we paid. Would I do this again. Nope! Was it terrible? Nope, and I would recommend it to anyone who is on a very tight budget; otherwise, just pay the fee and take the taxi.
It had started to rain while we were on the bus (grrr... could our weather get any worse?!), but, thankfully, it stopped by the time we got to our stop. The bus took us to the top of the entrance to Sapphire Beach - a very short walk through the parking lot. No problem.
I want to end on a positive note, so let's get the negative out of the way first. There is a restaurant that is closed on this beach. It looks a little run down. There is a dive shop with rentals (chairs, no umbrellas) and a snack bar that is open, but nothing looks overly nice. I realized we weren't at a first class resort, and I was aware of the facilities before going so this wasn't a major deal; however, I would go to another beach with better facilities next time.
On the other hand, the view from the beach was beautiful! With the exception of the overcast day and slightly murky water (this was due to all the storms in the area - apparently this wasn't the only beach that wasn't crystal clear). There is a reef along the right side of the beach. I didn't snorkel, but my DD, dad and niece did and saw plenty of fish. My dad saw a stingray too!
After several hours off beach time, we took a regular taxi (this was a closed bus - not open air - with seatbelts!) for the price of $10 per person (my 2 youngest kids were free too!). We were back on the ship by 5, then prepared for dinner.
Dinner tonight was special - we had a birthday party for my DD! She turned 10 on this cruise and we wanted to make it special for her. I preordered the decorations for the stateroom and cake for dinner on her birthday. Both were nice surprises for her (although she had no clue that Mommy and Daddy did these things for her - she thought Royal Caribbean was just that "nice").
The crab and noodle salad appetizer was great! I could've ordered that for dinner and been very happy. Yum! After dinner, our head waiter and several other waiters/assistants came to our table with DDs birthday cake and sang happy birthday. She was surprised and quite happy. The cake was good too!
After dinner, the girls wanted to go to AO. There was a Pirate's Parade for DD 6's group. They were dressed like pirates and chanted as the marched through the Promenade and dining room.
The evening's shows included Freedom Ice and Freedom Live Music Concert. I didn't go to either one.
I hired babysitters for this evening - they arrived on time and in a pair. I had seen both around the ship and felt comfortable leaving my sleeping baby with them. Then off I went to the Love and Marriage Game Show. As always, it was pretty funny.
After the show, I picked up my girls. My birthday girl showed me her birthday gift from Adventure Ocean - a nice beach towel/bag set. Nice surprise! (And free!) Off to Sorrento's for our midnight snack (literally), then back to our stateroom for much needed sleep. This vacation stuff is exhausting!
Along with our towel animals and Cruise Compass, we found the "laundry special." For $25 you can have your socks, underwear, shorts, t-shirts, swimwear and PJs washed - as long as they fit in the bag. This is a wash and fold service only - no pressing. We didn't take advantage of it, but it's really not a bad deal.
Next stop, St. Martin!
DAY 5: St. Martin
We are exhausted and decide to sleep in today. A late breakfast in the Windjammer kick starts our day, then off the ship to visit St. Martin. Originally, we were going to go to Orient Beach, but we decided to play it more low key. We took the Water Taxi to the shops and beach in Philipsburg. My sister, niece and youngest DD stayed at the beach while the rest of us walked around the shops. It was hot and humid! (For a change!)
Since no one was in the mood for the beach or shopping, we decided to get back on the ship and enjoy the Freedom. Lunch at Johnny Rockets was our first stop (they didn't open until 1). We sat outside and enjoyed the view of an older ship docked next to us. I believe this was an old Celebrity ship sold to another line. It looked very blah - I was very happy to be on the Freedom.
Johnny Rockets was good (for greasy grub!), but the service was slow today. Not sure why? The kids ordered milkshakes - they were yummy! I ordered a cheeseburger, but only had a few bites. Too many onion rings beforehand!
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the H2O Zone for the kids. They played all afternoon and had a blast. I decided to do the Ultimate Race Challenge with my siblings and oldest DD. We met in the Promenade only to be told we would have a milder challenge because of the weather (it had started to RAIN). So, instead of rock climbing, running, surfing, and whatever else they usually do, we had a scavenger hunt. We had a fun time getting most of the items. We were missing a few (pink sarong, postcard and Royal Caribbean t-shirt), but we were proud of ourselves for trying. We were the first team to check in, but another team had bummed and borrowed from the passengers and came in with all their items. Oh well! We were happy for them!
For whatever reason, none of us felt like going to the dining room for dinner - off the the Windjammer we went. Again, the lighting was low and the tables were set with napking and silverware. It was a lot busier tonight than it had been on the first formal night that I was banished by my son from the main dining room. It was still relaxing and a nice change of pace with the kids.
After dinner we stuck to our usual routine. The kids went to Adventure Ocean, then I dropped off my DS with the babysitters and off I went for some adult time!
I skipped the show tonight - Now You See It, a magic show starring Drew Thomas of America's Got Talent. I heard it was fantastic! I did go to the Battle of the Sexes Gameshow. I had a few laughs, but found this to be a little cheesy. Seems to me that it would be more fun with a few (er, a lot) of drinks in me.
The day was coming to a close, so I picked up my girls, stopped at - you guessed it - Sorrento's, and went to our stateroom for our midnight snack. It was a good day, even with the turn in the weather. All of us were looking forward to our upcoming sea days.
DAY 6: Sea Day
Today is a much anticipated sea day! We were looking forward to enjoying the ship (and hopefully the weather) while relaxing! I took the girls to the Windjammer to grab breakfast to go, then out to the H2O Zone we went. They loved eating outside, but ate quickly so they could SWIM and PLAY. By this point, my baby knew exactly where we were and he wanted in the Baby Splash Zone. Who am I to argue?
After a long, exhausting day relaxing, it was time to prepare for our second and final formal night. This is also "Lobster Night" (have you ever wondered if the lobsters look forward to this night as much as the passengers do? Just a thought...).
I'm not a huge lobster fan and ordered the Thai chicken. It was very good. Love a little spice. Everyone enjoyed dinner this evening. Afterwards, it was time to get the girls to their Adventure Ocean activities, and my son off to babysitting. The show tonight was Once Upon a Time. I didn't go, but my family enjoyed it. I did take the time to go to The Quest. Funny, as always. Our team didn't win, but they had a good time trying!
After the Quest, it was time to pick up the girls, run an errand at Sorrento's , then back to the room for "night-night time."
DAY 7: Sea Day
It's our final day at sea - bittersweet emotions this morning. We're glad to have another day on the ship, but we'd much prefer another week... or two... heck, we'd love to live on board!
So, we took advantage of the sea day and slept in. Why not?! (get it?! I know, dorky!) The girls wanted to try room service so I called in our order. It was milk and donuts for them. Definitely a breakfast of champions. I was told it would take 40 minutes, but it was less than 20. I prefered a more substantial and "healthy" breakfast and went to the Windjammer with DS.
Our weather today was pretty crappy. Actually, the weather all week left a lot to be desired, but today really was nasty. It started off cool, cloudy and windy, but ended up rainy, cloudy and really cold. We took advantage of several things we hadn't done yet, but soon found some of the activities would be left for "next time." We could not rock climb because of the weather. My 6 year old was dying to do this. Also, we tried to go ice skating, but only had capris on (they require pants). Oh well... we tried!
We also recorded our own song in the sound booths. We were terrible, but had great fun! Thankfully, you can choose to keep the booth clear or opaque - we chose the later option as we knew we'd make fools of ourselves. I believe it was $19.95 - maybe $24.95? - to purchase a copy of our video. SOOOOO not worth it. Have you ever tried karoke with kids that don't know the words to the song and/or can't read the words??? I won't mention my own singing voice, but we DID have fun!!!
Today was Freedomfest! It was a "party" held in the Royal Promenade. Many departments had booths set up to show off their talents. We saw a towel animal demonstrations, napking folding demonstrations, ice sculptures, food displays (yes, you could EAT too!), etc. It was really nice to see. Personally, I liked it better than the mid-night buffet that no longer exists. (The buffet was stunning to look at, but I was never hungry to eat - much preferred the interaction of the Freedomfest.)
After lunch, I took my 6 year old to Adventure Ocean, then I returned to my room to pack before dinner. I am proud to say, I was packed and ready to go by dinner!!!
At dinner, I was sad to say goodbye to our dining staff. They were really awesome, especially our head waiter. I have never seen (on my entire TWO cruises! lol) a head waiter as visible as he was. Every evening he came to our table to chat, help my girls with their meal (cutting food), and offered to help in any way possible to make our dining experience exceed our expectations.
I took the kids to Adventure Ocean after dinner, then made my way to the Farewell Show starring Jeff Harms (comedian) and Duo Mosolov (acrobats). The acrobats were okay the first night, but were really good this night. The show was good with funny comedy, nice cruise in review and the main show. I was glad I went, but sorry to see that our cruise really was coming to an end.
I picked up the girls from Adventure Ocean, went to Sorrento's one last time, then we called it a night.
This is it! It's time to say our very last goodbye.
We woke up early, ate a continental breakfast in Cafe Promenade and waited until our color (lavendar - 7-7:30) was called. We were called at 7:30 (a bit delayed because of the weather - 32 in Cape Canaveral!!!), but we found the process to be quick and easy. We were on the road by 8 AM!
One final thought...
I knew there would be challenges cruising with three children without my husband. I decided to travel with a positive frame of mind without preconceived expectations of what this vacation should be. I went with the flow. I can say with 100% certainty that this attitude helped make this vacation wonderful. Cruising with a baby is not really a vacation, and sub-par weather (um, hello, 32 degrees in Florida?!!! rain and wind every day, etc.), but we chose to focus on the positives and had a tremendously great time!