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Old 03-25-2014, 11:17 PM   #1
bumbershoot
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RCCL trip report! Freedom in Eastern Car Jan 26-Feb 2, 2014

Hi!

I figure we can post trip reports here since there's nowhere else to do it. And where better to get a full picture of a person's experience on a cruise than in a report?

I'm Molly, the hubster is Robert, and our kidlet (9 years old at the time of writing this and at the time of the cruise) Eamon. (that's said "a" like the letter A then "mun". Not like "amen". That's been asked before!)

After being convinced by my cousin to take our first DCL cruise last February, we got off the ship full of wonder. We had enjoyed almost all of the cruise, and wondered if we were just plain old cruise lovers or if we were now, as we called it, Disney Cruise Snobs.

We got home, found a really interesting itinerary on RCCL (DH and I had honeymooned on Radiance so we were partial to that line), and booked it, babeee. Then we had a nice, long wait.

Since we are not the most patient people, we took a 4 day DCL cruise in October. That time we stayed in an inside cabin on Dream instead of a category V cabin, so it was definitely different! When we embarked on that cruise, Freedom was docked nearby and we were so jealous of the people going on Freedom! We liked our cruise, but we were so curious.

But by the time our Freedom cruise rolled around, we were EXCITED!!!!

As anyone who read my January reports from WDW or Universal knows, my son and I were sick as dogs for most of those days. We got "that thing, the lung thing with the cough that EVERYONE had in January" (as I describe it when talking to people), almost immediately after landing in Orlando. And our whole time, other than participating in the Marathon Weekend events, was just spent madly trying to get better so we could actually take our cruise.

So we were exhausted AND excited.



Our cruise involved 3 sea days and 3 stops. CocoCay was the first full day, two sea days after, and San Juan and St Maarten were the other stops before another sea day before we arrived in Port Canaveral. We love being at sea, and those stops just sounded awesome to us.


Photobucket is working madly right now, so I'll post this overview of the trip, and throw some pictures up in the next one!
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Last edited by bumbershoot; 03-25-2014 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 03-25-2014, 11:31 PM   #2
sdlong329
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We sailed Freedom of the Seas on January 5, 2014 ... including a stop at Labadee. We were less than thrilled with the ship ... were very disappointed in the outward absence of customer service on the ship, and blatant disregard for care of just about anything.

Personally, if anyone sails RCCL ... and you are sailing to their private island ... I would suggest staying on the ship. It's reminiscent of a 40 year old (abandoned) amusement park. The lack of organization and common sense on the ship translates well to their island. The lousy lay-out of the ship, and traffic-jam of trying to sell you flea market merchandise in the atrium was an all-time low.

Yes, I am a Disney SNOB!

Steven
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Old 03-26-2014, 12:04 AM   #3
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Day 1!


We were picked up by limo (fltours.com) at Portofino Bay that morning. We got to the port in what felt like almost no time at all, and this is the first good picture of our view as we approached! Do you notice the Dream poking it's stacks up over on the left? What a fun view.





We entered the port area, the driver paid his fee, and then we were parked. I don't even remember him getting the bags out, but they were out and the porter was tagging our bags (my printer was messing things up so I decided to just let them make the tags) and whisking them off quickly.

Tidbit of information...there are bathrooms there at the load/unload area! Just go a bit away from the terminal and they are there. (I used them when we disembarked and they were decent) I wish I had known this that morning, because I did the gotta-pee dance all through the line to get upstairs!

They let us in, we waited in line, showed our printouts, showed our passports, waited, went through the metal detectors. Turned out I walked through with a few bottles of water (some open, some not) and no one cared that day. Went upstairs! Used the bathroom.

DH saw some forms that looked like they needed to be filled out, so he did that. (they did not need to be filled out by us...always ask before spending time filling out forms was the lesson he learned) While he was taking that time, we watched over the metal detector area. While waiting, we saw the end of a situation with a boy "getting sick" into a trash can BEFORE going through the detector. They sent no one over, they just sent the family on through... I had been feeling guilty for being at the END of that ridiculous virus, but watching that happen ended my guilt.

Went into the checkin line, had pictures taken, and we were able to truthfully fill out the health questionnaire, though honestly one of them was just because they said "and", not "or"... (as we met more people on the cruise it became very obvious that lots and lots and lots of people had boarded feeling the same way we had...we were not alone, and some people were much more in the beginning or middle of things than we were...not sure THEY had so truthfully answered, but there was almost no escaping that dang virus in January)

Once we did that and got our SeaPass cards, we were off! No waiting around like on Disney, just head on over to the ship. Woo!


I can't remembered where we entered...maybe on 4? We had ordered a water package for DS (thought it was going to be 24 500mL bottles of Evian...DH and I cannot drink the water on cruiseships and have happy bodies, and we tend to treat DS like we treat ourselves in that way) and the Replenish package for both me and DH. There was something wrong with the card the RCI employee had put our seapasses on, so we had to get that taken care of. The concern of the bartender was that we had paid for the soda package AND Replenish...but she had just used the wrong card stock, that's all.

Eventually we were able to just wander.



Blurry light-up bridge near Guest Relations. And my kid.




Closer.




It is SO disturbing to see Buddha encased in cling wrap.





We wandered a bit then braved the wilds of Windjammer. We were met by the happy wig-wearing employee out front, and tried to find a place to sit. We were sooo unsuccessful.

Tidbit! If you are eating there right at lunchtime, there are seaters. You will only know this when you get allll the way to the end of the buffet area, and only if you approach the seating area from the sort of "main" stairs down. If you approach from the side, you don't see seaters. So... if you're a rule follower, make sure you're not being naughty and seating yourself (if you can find seats).

We got a bit desperate for seats, a bit lost, and asked someone for help. He sprang into action and had us follow him into the little extra-fee restaurant at the front of the Windjammer. Found us a nice table, introduced us to the servers in there, and insisted we sit and leave our stuff and go get food. So nice!

We were really overwhelmed at that point, it was all a whirlwind. I've realized...I like getting "my money's worth", but maybe sitting and eating something right then and there isn't the best way for ME to start a cruise. Maybe I personally need to make sure I've had sufficient food and drink before boarding, and then not just start in on food. That might be what I need to do.

But we ate and smiled and dealt with the whirlwind.

As we left, we noticed the push for the spa treatments had already begun!


Our room was ready, so we went on over.

Along with the interesting itinerary, we LUCKED into an interesting room. It was stateroom 1700 which is a corner aft cabin on deck 10. It's a nice big room with a deep verandah. The oddity is that there's a pole right at the end of the bed; it's obviously a structural thing, not something weird, but it's definitely odd.

While I got some things unpacked, I had DH use up all of a small bottle of sanitizer to clean that pole. Not that I wanted to touch it, but I live with a 9 year old who touches everything (his dad does, too), and in this case I'd rather have him end up with sanitizer chemicals on his hands rather than whatever might have touched that pole.


Our water had been delivered. Very unceremoniously, too.




So...funny thing about those boxes...they each contain twelve 1-Liter bottles of water. That's right. A total of 24 Liters of water.

Turns out that I knew this. But I had forgotten. So there we are. When I went to talk to Guest Services about it, they looked it up and said that their info says it should have been 750 mL bottles. But on the website it does now (and maybe before) say, once you go digging for the info, 1L. Doesn't say it on the orderform, of course. Why would they include that useful info?


With the Replenish package, DH and I got these.



I use my cup every day. I'm a water-drinking fiend, and generally have both my RCCL cup and my 24oz DCL Tervis cup full of water.


Here's the minifridge on Dream. Everything in there has a charge. Our room attendant told us that it's OK to swap out the waters for waters in our package. We did so, because those 4 in the back are 1L bottles (the ones in the door are 500mL). So we packed the fridge with 1L bottles and replaced the cold ones with not cold through the whole trip. At the end we just were sure to leave our last 4 bottles in there, and there were no charges.




Went out onto the balcony.




We had two chairs and two loungers. Ahhhh.


Last edited by bumbershoot; 03-26-2014 at 12:19 AM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 12:10 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdlong329 View Post
We sailed Freedom of the Seas on January 5, 2014 ... including a stop at Labadee. We were less than thrilled with the ship ... were very disappointed in the outward absence of customer service on the ship, and blatant disregard for care of just about anything.

Personally, if anyone sails RCCL ... and you are sailing to their private island ... I would suggest staying on the ship. It's reminiscent of a 40 year old (abandoned) amusement park. The lack of organization and common sense on the ship translates well to their island. The lousy lay-out of the ship, and traffic-jam of trying to sell you flea market merchandise in the atrium was an all-time low.

Yes, I am a Disney SNOB!

Steven
Hi!

I'm so sorry you had a bad time.

As I was trying to get across in my title, this will be my trip report and hopefully the pictures and tidbits can help RCCL newbies. There's no official RCCL trip report forum, so I'll put it here until/unless our mod decides it needs to be elsewhere.

We had a terrific time, so I'm super-sorry to know you didn't. We realize we love RCCL and DCL rather equally, though RCCL edges DCL out because we can be on the ship for nearly twice as long. (hmm, guess there's no big wait-until-the-end moment to find out if we just love cruising or not!)


Oh...your island experience...I personally have nearly negative interest in going to Haiti. That wouldn't be a destination/itinerary that would interest me no matter whose ship or private beach I would be on. I don't like people trying to sell me things, no matter where I go!

Last edited by bumbershoot; 03-26-2014 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 03-26-2014, 02:12 AM   #5
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Hooray for Bumbershoot!

Yay! A Freedom of the Seas Review! With Pictures! With Advice! Awesome job so far and thank you very very much for sharing your experience!

Subbing and looking forward to devouring every word!
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Old 03-26-2014, 12:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdlong329 View Post
We sailed Freedom of the Seas on January 5, 2014 ... including a stop at Labadee. We were less than thrilled with the ship ... were very disappointed in the outward absence of customer service on the ship, and blatant disregard for care of just about anything.

Personally, if anyone sails RCCL ... and you are sailing to their private island ... I would suggest staying on the ship. It's reminiscent of a 40 year old (abandoned) amusement park. The lack of organization and common sense on the ship translates well to their island. The lousy lay-out of the ship, and traffic-jam of trying to sell you flea market merchandise in the atrium was an all-time low.

Yes, I am a Disney SNOB!

Steven
I can't for the life of me figure out why people come to the Royal Caribbean part of this board just to trash them. If you love Disney so much, MOST of this board is devoted to you and your preferences. There's really no reason to come over here and wee-wee on someone's nice trip report.

A lot of us are interested in what the OP has to say.
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Old 03-26-2014, 03:54 PM   #7
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Loving the trip report-going on RCCL for first time in June ( it was going to be freedom but changed to allure by someone else)

Keep it coming!!!
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Old 03-26-2014, 05:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debsters41 View Post
Yay! A Freedom of the Seas Review! With Pictures! With Advice! Awesome job so far and thank you very very much for sharing your experience!

Subbing and looking forward to devouring every word!
Wow, thanks!


Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovetexas View Post
I can't for the life of me figure out why people come to the Royal Caribbean part of this board just to trash them. If you love Disney so much, MOST of this board is devoted to you and your preferences. There's really no reason to come over here and wee-wee on someone's nice trip report.

A lot of us are interested in what the OP has to say.
Thanks for reading! It's OK; they had a bad time and wanted to talk about it. And they might just not have gotten that it was a report; I've been known to skim and not see the really important words, too! Too many times, actually, and a little bit too recently.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gumbypee View Post
Loving the trip report-going on RCCL for first time in June ( it was going to be freedom but changed to allure by someone else)

Keep it coming!!!
Thanks! I will!
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Old 03-27-2014, 12:24 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by bumbershoot View Post

. . . I figure we can post trip reports here since there's nowhere else to do it. And where better to get a full picture of a person's experience on a cruise than in a report?
Great start! I'm enjoying your trip report, and look forward to reading more.

Woody
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Old 03-27-2014, 01:42 AM   #10
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1/26 (Day 1), continued.


We went a'wandering. The promenade.







I have a (not so secret) love for "glass" things with lights behind them. I think it's a travesty that those glass blocks that were so popular in the 80s and early 90s (as seen in St Elmo's Fire and Miami Vice) are passe now. So it's no surprise that I just wanted to bring a sleeping bag down and spend the cruise sitting on this bridge.





This place was very important during our cruise.



I would love to stay in the Ben&Jerry's "Sweet" right behind the cow's rear end. Alas it's for 2 people only. But you get benefits like free ice cream and access to the concierge lounge. Maybe someday when it's the kiddo and I. Not DH and I because we don't have any kid-care that would be good for a week. Not for some long years, at least!


Wandering more; there is art in all the stairways. I would like to take some time and go up each and every stairway and really look at the art.




The promenade looks kind of weird when it's seen from above with "day"light streaming in.




I took a tour of the gym. WOW WOW WOW. Ok so I went there once, and it was for an "abs" class (no extra charge). I didn't use the machines or weights as planned. I was tired, you know? But still. WOW.













Yep, boxing ring. (that's extra)




Next time I'm on the Freedom (or any of the other RCI ships that have the gym facing the front (unlike Disney Dream, where you're looking to the SIDE while on the machines)), I'm going to pretend like I'm a hamster in a wheel, running to keep the engine going...


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Old 03-27-2014, 01:47 AM   #11
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Great start! I'm enjoying your trip report, and look forward to reading more.

Woody
Well, thanks and welcome, Woody! Of course it seems that you've seen a lot of Royal's ships already, so there's probably nothing new for you!



**************
I realized that I want to get the Compasses in here, and that's going to require some photography (my scanner bothers me), so that won't be immediate but it will happen.

And I want to be a bit more informative, not just telling the story. So hang in there! I think there's only one trip report I never finished, so my track record is good for finishing, even if it takes me a bit.
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Old 03-27-2014, 11:04 AM   #12
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Can't wait to read more! We are considering Freedom for 2015 because the Fantasy prices are CRAZY!!
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:37 PM   #13
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Thanks for sharing!

Love the report so far. We are trying to work up our nerve for a cruise!
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Old 03-27-2014, 04:51 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by sdlong329 View Post
We sailed Freedom of the Seas on January 5, 2014 ... including a stop at Labadee. We were less than thrilled with the ship ... were very disappointed in the outward absence of customer service on the ship, and blatant disregard for care of just about anything.

Personally, if anyone sails RCCL ... and you are sailing to their private island ... I would suggest staying on the ship. It's reminiscent of a 40 year old (abandoned) amusement park. The lack of organization and common sense on the ship translates well to their island. The lousy lay-out of the ship, and traffic-jam of trying to sell you flea market merchandise in the atrium was an all-time low.

Yes, I am a Disney SNOB!

Steven
Was that really necessary to post that on someone's trip report. Kind of rude
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:51 PM   #15
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Subscribing! Can't wait to hear more, and thanks for adding the great pics!! We are a family of 5 booked on Freedom this October. We have only sailed DCL and are excited to see what RC is like!!
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