A year ago, when our daughter and son-in-law suggested a cruise to celebrate her 40th birthday, I was mildly interested, my husband was not, but we agreed, as did other members of the family. In all, there were 12 of us - 10 flying from Maine and 2 driving from Georgia.
We flew into Orlando the day before and stayed at the Country Inn and Suites, had a great dinner at Milliken's and shuttled to Embarkation at 10:00.
We were impressed with the organization that passed us through very quickly and then we were standing at the entrance of the ship. Later, a comedian would comment "And then there are the first time cruisers who walk on and get 3 steps and their mouth drops open" Well, that was us. We had never seen the interior of a cruise ship - and Freedom of the Seas is about the most beautiful there is. We were awed.
Our balcony cabin was roomy, well laid out and comfortable - plenty of storage, with no need of the dozen extra hangers I'd packed. We were soon exploring the ship, and if we were awed when we walked on, we were even more so when we saw the Promenade Deck and all the facilities the ship had to offer. We enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer and settled in for an afternoon exploring.
Later, when we went into the dining room, we were again struck by the beauty of the setting - the chandeliers, balconies and beautifully set tables. If this impressed us, then the wait staff impressed us more. Never have we experienced the level of impeccable service, delivered with such genuine friendliness as with our dining room staff. Over the course of the week they became like family to us.
Although we did not have young children, two of our grandchildren were on board and were well taken care of with all the activities. My husband, Hank, enjoyed the ice rink and taught our granddaughter how to skate. We enjoyed many of the shows, the pools, the casino and the quiet areas. Especially enjoying the room service each morning to quietly sit on our balcony and watch the ocean drift by.
By the third day we had already booked our next cruise, as we agreed this was shaping up to be the best vacation we had ever had.
When our week was sadly over we chose to use the luggage valet service that checked us in on our flights and whisked our luggage from our room, to be seen again when we landed in Portland, Maine.