Freedom of the
Royal Caribbean Gives
Passengers Even MORE Freedom to "Get Out There"
May 2006, Miami,
Florida—Did you know?
Freedom of the Seas can carry more passengers than the first four
ships that made up Royal Caribbean's entire fleet in the
With that in mind,
set aside the clichés
you've read about Freedom of the Seas... for instance,
"Voyager-class on steroids." As I would discover, she's
much more than that. Times have changed in
the cruise industry and
Freedom of the Seas is leading the wave of choice into the future.
As much resort as cruise ship, it barely matters where she sails,
but we were on our way to Coco Cay and, hopefully, leaving rainy
weather behind in Miami...
As part of Freedom of
the Seas' introduction, Royal Caribbean invited top travel
partners, Diamond-plus past passengers, and members of the media to
sail on an introductory three-night cruise. I've been asked numerous
times what a preview cruise is like, so come along as I board the
world's largest cruise ship to take part in a "Royal Family
For a while I wondered when, or even if, I would arrive at the
Port of Miami. A thunderstorm moved into the area while my plane was
making its final approach. As a result, it circled the airport for
an hour. Instead of arriving at the pier during a peak embarkation
period, it was 2:30pm when I entered the terminal to find only one
couple ahead of me in line. That was easy and I was on board in
short order. I highly recommend not rushing to the pier before noon.
For a leisurely embarkation with far less stress, plan to arrive
mid-afternoon. Trust me, you'll still find plenty of food in the
flight cancellations, delays, and 'missing the boat' by arriving
in Miami a day before any cruise. Then relax until the
late-morning to noontime embarkation rush has past.
Before looking around,
I headed to my stateroom on Deck 6 to
settle in. For a three-night cruise, even one with a formal night, a
rolling carry-on bag and garment or tote bag should be sufficient
for almost anyone. I was encouraged that finding my stateroom was such a
breeze on this big ship, so after unpacking, which seldom takes me long,
I headed out
While similar in layout, Freedom of the Seas is
1,112 feet long, versus Voyager-class ships at 1,020, a whopping 92
additional feet. Both ship classes are long, really long. However,
where the real difference is felt is in the width. Freedom of the
Seas is 185 feet wide, merely 27 feet wider than the Voyager ships,
but that additional width gives Freedom's interiors a more spacious
look and feel and standard balconies that are some of the deepest
I've come across on a mainstream ship.
teens-only Living Room
With a handy
pocket-sized deck plan in hand, I made my way around effortlessly.
"Street" signs in the Royal Promenade are a big help. The
rain had stopped, but it was still drizzling outside so it seemed
like a good idea to stay inside and the
ShipShape Fitness Center and Freedom Day Spa were my first stops.
Services in the spa are operated by Steiner and I noticed a few new
offerings. In addition to getting your hair done for formal night,
you can have your teeth whitened, cure seasickness with acupuncture,
and have a micro dermabrasion facial.
The boxing ring is the
attention-grabber in the fitness center, but don't expect to put on
the gloves and begin sparring immediately. Classes and personal
training sessions are available for a fee. Don't overlook the wide
array of exercise machines and the area devoted to fitness classes, both
complimentary and for a fee.
My own personal
workout while aboard consisted of using the stairs and walking, so I
headed for the children's and teen's facilities, hoping to see them
before they were off-limits to adults. Our "Royal
Families" brought several hundred children with them for this
Divided into age-appropriate
zones, there are areas to play, create colorful artwork, and use
computers. The teens-only hang outs are particularly appealing with
televisions, a coffee bar, games, computers, and even their own
private sundeck. For young cruisers, these are some of the most impressive
facilities I've visited. The video arcade is huge and kids of all
ages were enjoying the games as I passed through. For family dining
fun, Johnny Rocket's diner is conveniently located nearby.
From there it was time to grab my life vest and attend the muster
drill. After sailaway, the next order of business (this is a
business trip, after all) was to freshen up and attend a media
get-together in the two-level Crypt disco. Decorated in the style of
a medieval castle, I faced the Crypt's "glass" staircase
with some trepidation. To me, it was the only scary aspect of the
It's always a pleasure to meet up with colleagues and share
impressions, gossip, and have a bit of fun. We were all seated after
the party at adjoining tables for dinner in the three deck main
dining room. What an exquisite space! Each deck is named for a
scientist (Galileo, Leonardo, and Isaac) and is decorated in richly
and blues for the most part—featuring
different color combinations on each level with slightly varying
furniture and lighting styles.
My choices included
escargot, lobster bisque, Caesar salad, filet, and a heavenly Grand
Marnier soufflé. The beef was offered medium-rare to well-done,
which gave me pause as I prefer it really, really rare. However, it
wasn't overcooked, even for me and I was quite impressed with what
was a considerable step up in Royal Caribbean dining.
A late night show in
the Arcadia Theater followed dinner. Once Upon a Time, described as
a "fairytale with a fun pop music twist," was a creative
combination of fairytale scenes and familiar tunes. My favorite was
Sleeping Beauty set to "Mr. Sandman."
The show capped the
end of a long day and I hoped for some of Mr. Sandman's magic for a
good night's sleep. I also hoped for some sunshine tomorrow because
Freedom of the Seas would be anchoring off our only port of call—Coco
of the Seas, Part 2
Freedom of the Seas, Part 3
Freedom of the Seas, Part 4
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© Linda Coffman