Freedom of the Seas: Then and Now.

I first went on the Freedom of the Seas in October of 2008.  I can hardly believe it has been 4 ½ years since I first stepped foot on this amazing ship.  At the time, it was the largest ship in the world and the flag ship of the Freedom Class of the Royal Caribbean fleet of ships.  Now, in March 2013 as I sailed on it a second time, it no longer carries the title of World’s Largest Cruise Ship, but it is still no less impressive as it was the first time I sailed on it.

Some of my first moments aboard back in 2008.

Some of my first moments aboard back in 2008.

Some of our first moments aboard in 2013

Some of our first moments aboard in 2013

One of the things we love about this ship is the variety of activities from which to choose.  My husband enjoys the FlowRider, which is a unique water feature allowing you to boogie board and surf a continuous wave.  This was one of the first places we headed after getting lunch at the buffet and dropping our bags in our room.

Surfing the wave on the FlowRider in 2008.

Surfing the wave on the FlowRider in 2008.

The FlowRider in 2013.

The FlowRider in 2013.

My favorite thing about this ship is the pool deck.  It has been a long-standing opinion of mine that Royal Caribbean has the best pools in the industry.  On a sea day, this is the place I want to be, cool drink in hand and a good book ready and waiting.  Some good company to chat and people watch with always adds to my pool deck enjoyment.

The best pool decks at sea in 2008.

The best pool decks at sea in 2008.

Still the best pool decks in 2013.

Still the best pool decks in 2013.

In 2008, the group we sailed with discovered how much we enjoyed the entertainment and atmosphere of the pub on the Royal Promenade called The Bull and Bear.  It was a sure bet that most evenings after dinner you could find our group claiming our spot around several bar tables singing and carousing to whatever fun tunes the guitar player performed for us that night.  This time around proved to be no different; however, the guitar player in 2008 was much more entertaining.  We met a great bunch of people on this cruise, and it is amazing how on a sold out ship of 3,600 people, we still always seem to end up at the same places each evening.

The Bull and the Bear in 2008.

The Bull and Bear in 2008.

Back at The Bull and the Bear in 2013.

Back at The Bull and Bear in 2013.

The Royal Promenade is another feature I love about this class of ships, which is also featured on the Voyager Class ships.  Here you can find shops, the Promenade Café with coffee and desserts, make your own cupcake at the Cupcake Cupboard, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, Sorrento’s 24-hour Pizzeria, and the pub.  You can also go down one floor to the casino, dance the night away at the Crypt, and sing along with the piano player in the Schooner Bar.  Vintages, the wine bar on the Promenade, has been enhanced to be more upscale with scheduled wine tastings for an additional fee.  This bar also features the wine “vending machines” I have mentioned in previous posts about the Celebrity Reflection.

In March 2011 Freedom went through a week-long dry dock to do some refurbishment and enhancements.  Those included adding the DreamWorks Experience with character breakfasts and the DreamWorks Parade.  If you like to watch 3-D movies, you can now do it at sea in the new 3-D movie theater.  Catch a movie under the stars on the new 18.5-foot video screen added to the pool deck and watch music videos during the day.  As I mentioned previously, you can now make your own cupcake at the new Cupcake Cupboard on the Royal Promenade.  Buy a splash of color to add to your art collection at the Bitto Art Gallery.  And finally, one enhancement I found most helpful is the new WayFinders located in each of the elevator lobbies.  This is a touchscreen computer kiosk that has all kinds of information from deck plans to the Cruise Compass.

The new DreamWorks Experience was added in the enhancements.

The new DreamWorks Experience was added in the enhancements.

The new WayFinders are very helpful.

The new WayFinders are very helpful.

We had a great time sailing for the second time on Freedom of the Seas and it brought back many wonderful memories of our first time.  We did decide one thing about when we choose to cruise this time around.  We decided we prefer cruising in the fall over cruising in the spring, for a couple of reasons.  For one thing, it just isn’t quite warm enough yet for our taste.  The temps were in the high 70’s and low 80’s and most days were partly to mostly cloudy.  I realize for most people that probably sounds great.  But I like it HOT, and with the Caribbean breezes and the sun not staying out all the time it was too cool for me.  The pools on the ship were freezing, and I didn’t even attempt to get more than my feet wet.  The days we were in port (St. Thomas and St. Maarten) it was quite warm sitting on the beach, but the water temps were still chilly, not that warm, Caribbean 83-degrees I’m used to in the fall.

The other thing is the ships are always sold out for Spring break or during the Spring in general.  I get it, everyone wants to leave Winter behind and sail to warmer temps.  I am not a patient person.  I hate crowds and I hate waiting in line, and those are two things I try to avoid when I am on vacation.  But when you pull into St. Thomas at 11 a.m. and 3,600 passengers want to get off the ship at the same time, a very long line is inevitable.   So to avoid these things, I am not sure if we will cruise in the Spring again.  The problem is our kids don’t have a Fall break from school.  Just a minor detail I will have to try and work around.

There are so many aspects of this ship that make it great for the whole family.  I could go on and on about it, but I will just have to save it for another post.  If you are looking for a ship that has something for everyone, along with great service, Freedom of the Seas would be a perfect match for you.  I would love to answer any questions you have, or better yet, book you on a cruise aboard this wonderful ship.  Just leave me a comment or drop me an email at tmay@alovefortravel.com.

Until next time………

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  1. Trackback: The Mariner | joeccombs2nd

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