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"Freedom of the Seas" cruise

Currently the holder of the largest cruise ship in the world title, the Freedom of the Seas is a very nice ship with some very familiar spaces as the ships of the Voyager class ships and adding some new twists. Anyone who has been on one of those ships will feel at home on the Freedom class ships. We took this cruise September 20-28, 2008. This was not exactly a planned cruise for us but one day I was at home and got a call from my travel agent Rod about this cruise and he offered pricing I couldn't pass up. He was also going on this cruise and since Scott's birthday fell during it, how could I say no. We visited San Juan, St. Thomas and St. Maarten on this cruise and had three days at sea to relax and explore the ship.

Don't forget to checkout video section to see videos from this cruise.

 
Ft. Lauderdale
Sep 20, 2008

We flew in to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday and met up with Rod and his friend Janell. We went to a Latin restaurant for dinner and then to a local Walmart for some last minute provisions. I noticed several bottles of wine being purchased. After that it was back to the hotel to rest up for the trip to Miami in the morning.

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Day One-Embarkation
Sep 21, 2008

We had breakfast at the hotel and Rod and Janell picked us up around 10:20 for our trip to the port in Miami and the Freedom of the Seas. We were dropped off around 11:00 and pretty much went right through to check in and were onboard within half an hour. This was by far the fastest embarkation we have ever experienced and the only wait in a line was to let Diamond Members board first which took all of 10 minutes at best. In fact they even took our Sea Pass photos in the terminal before we even started up the escalator. Since we were not allowed in our staterooms until 1:00PM sharp, we headed for the Windjammer and had some lunch and did a little walking around. As promised we were let in our staterooms exactly at !:00 and the first thing we noticed about the Freedom class of ships were wider hallways. Very nice to not have to back up against the wall for someone to pass. Once in our stateroom we unpacked our carry on bags and took it all in. Our luggage was delivered shortly so we unpacked that as well. This was going to be remembered as Scott's birthday cruise. Every day some type of surprise or gift would take place or be given. He knew nothing of this plan until Champagne and chocolate covered strawberries were delivered courtesy of our travel partners Ron and John. The muster drill came quickly and before you knew it, it was time for sailaway. Most people like to experience it from a private balcony but for me there is nothing like watching the city disappear behind you from the top deck. We then watched the Flowrider demonstration, had dinner, saw the show and went to collapse in the cabin. It was a long day.

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Day Two-At Sea
Sep 22, 2008

Today was our first sea day and I got up, had coffee and Danish delivered and then went to stand in line on the Royal Promenade to get tickets for the ice show. From there it was up to Olive or Twist in the Viking Crown lounge for the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle party. It was a little disappointing since there was so much activity on the boards, not that many people showed up. I really love sea days because you can do whatever you want. We did more exploring of the ship and my personal favorite, sitting on the balcony and watching the ocean go by. We had dinner at Chops Grille and went to the show after. The production show was called 'Marquee" and was a musical production based on what else but Broadway Musicals. Even though they took some rather unusual liberties with "Phantom of the Opera" I still enjoyed the production. Today Scott got flowers delivered for his birthday surprise.

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Day Three-San Juan
Sep 23, 2008

Today is Scott's Birthday and we decide to sleep in since we don't get to port until 3:00PM. After breakfast we tour the ship more and Scott decides to try the Flowrider. For his first time he did rather well on the boogie board. When we went in to San Juan to shop, we crossed the square with the pidgeons and a man got Scott to feed them. We were then on our way to hunt for a new Del Sol shirt for me and cigars and a backgammon set. Got the first two and couldn't find the third so we headed back to the ship for dinner. Scott had two surprises waiting upon our return. The cabin was decorated while we were out and at dinner a Birthday cake was presented. Everyone at the table wanted pictures and the cake slid off the plate. You had to be there. We met the two other couples at our table. Tom and Cathy were celebrating their 40th anniversary while Tom and Mary were celebrating 25 years together. We could not have asked for two better couples to meet and we hope to sail with them again someday. After dinner we made a big mistake. At Rod's suggestion(yes I blame him) we headed back into Old San Juan to go to Barrachina which is where they invented the Pina Colada. On the way in the dark it begins to sprinkle a bit. Then the downpour. We even had to stop in a Walgreen to escape the the monsoon although we were drenched anyway.. We eventually got there and after one drink headed back to the ship. Thankfully they handed out warm towels at the gangway upon returning. The only good thing about going out was that I got a couple of nice pictures of the ship at night.

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Day Four-St. Thomas
Sep 24, 2008

So today was the big day. We woke up and Scott(who thought we would just leisurely go into town and do a little shopping) was told to put on his swim trunks and pack up the backpack. We were off on adventure that he had no idea about. We got a taxi and went to Coki beach and Coral World where we watched stingrays get fed and coral reef exhibits. then came the main event. For the first time we went Snuba diving. Talk about a workout, I fell asleep on the way back. We went back to the ship about 3:00PM and napped before dinner. There was no midnight Gala buffet in the dining room this cruise, instead it took place in the Solarium on the pool deck where it was more of a party atmosphere. At the same time there was a dance party with DJ taking place at the main pool. We got our food and went there to watch the people dancing. The music was better.

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Day Five-St. Maarten
Sep 25, 2008

Our last port is our favorite. We love to shop in St. Maarten and today I was looking for a specific store for rings. When I did finally find the store I was informed that the store had expanded and the line of jewelry I was looking for had been relocated to the larger store which we had already passed. We turned around and went back to the store I passed(I was going by address)only to find they did not have what I was looking for so they tried to sell me anything else. I even showed a picture of what I wanted and everything I was shown wasn't even close. We did a little more shopping on the main streets and even picked up a couple of things in our favorite alley before heading back to the ship. Construction has begun on the new dock to accommodate the new Oasis class ships of Royal Caribbean. It looks like it will be very very long. Before dinner was the Crown and Anchor Welcome Back party with free drinks and appetizers. Our Crown and Anchor gift on this cruise was a baseball cap and I actually wear it. After dinner we went to see "Freedom-Ice.com" and this was one of the best ice shows yet. Cornell Freeney was billed as the special guest and he lived up to the billing. what he did with the metal ring was nothing short of amazing. Today Scott was given a digital photo keychain as his surprise gift.

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Day Six-At Sea
Sep 26, 2008

Today is our second of three Sea days and we got up and had breakfast in the Windjammer. We met Okan from Turkey and he was our waiter. He was charming and spent much time with us on several occasions when we would eat there. He even gave us a geography lesson by drawing a map for us on a napkin and explaining where he was from. He is applying for the Oasis of the Seas and we hope to see him there. We spent the day swimming and relaxing and Scott climbed the rock wall before dinner. Tonight was the second production show "Once Upon A Time" and it was by far one of the best I have seen on a cruise ship. It was various fairy tales acted out to pop songs. During the Pinocchio story dolls actually came off the shelves as real people. I don't know how they pulled that off but it was amazing. When it started that part Pinocchio was flanked by two other string puppets on each side that would fly up and down and they all sang NSYNC's hit "No Strings Attached" complete with the NSYNC choreography. It was humorous and dead on even to the point where the strings became unattached. The next day we got to go backstage and look at the sets but I still couldn't figure out how they did it. Today Scott got an iTunes gift card since he has been filling up his iPhone.

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Day Seven-At Sea
Sep 27, 2008

Today is our last Sea Day and also the last day of the cruise. THE DAY WE PACK!!! Not anyones favorite day of a cruise yet it has to be done. If you have been following along, you may have noticed all the Casino Royale tickets. For the entire cruise I played the same slot machine every day. After subtracting what I originaly put in, I walked away with a nice profit of $497.15. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets and then headed for the opposite end of the ship and all the way down to deck three for the Backstage Tour of the main theater. Since it was our last dinner, Janell got a little nuts with the glasses. While we all were amused by it , one of the passing waiters clearly was not.

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Day Eight-Disembarkation/Going Home
Sep 28, 2008

As the saying goes, "All good things must come to an end" and so has this cruise. After getting up at 5:00AM to get ready to leave, I have time to take some last pictures of the ship pulling in to Miami. It is interesting to watch such a large ship basically stand still in the water and turn completely around an then pull up sideways to the dock. On the bus I take a few more pictures of the Freedom of the Seas as we leave it in the distance. As we head to the airport we pass the Miami Arena. We watched the arena being imploded on TV from our hotel on the day we were boarding and I got a quick shot of the destruction. We met Jessica on the plane and found out she too had been on the cruise and was also heading home to Kansas City. Small world. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and feel free to make any comments.

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Artwork
Sep 1, 2008

Art is in the eye of the beholder or so they say. Art is subjective and comes in many forms. On a cruise making towel animals is an art just as much as carving ice and fruit, not to mention the regular forms of art such as photos and sculptures. Royal Caribbean has always impressed me with the art on their ships and this ship is no exception. The pictures in the stairwells told a story (four to be exact) and even though I may have them out of order in some instances, they stand well on their own. I tried to eliminate duplicates but I am sure there are still some I missed. Hope you like them.

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