Freedom of the
Royal Caribbean Gives
Passengers Even MORE Freedom to "Get Out There"
thing I noticed in my stateroom was the sumptuous bed. Piled with
pretty pillows, a logo embroidered top sheet, and a
color-coordinated bed scarf atop the snowy duvet, it's attractive
and inviting. But pretty is only as good as pretty does and hidden beneath
that chic exterior is a heavy bed frame, topped with 9-inch spring mattress and 2-inch microfiber
To anyone who finds
would be me—the new bed and bedding on Freedom of the Seas should transform
the nightmare of tossing and turning into sweet dreams. I
awoke refreshed the first morning on board, but the test would be
the next two mornings. It truly amazed me that I could sleep so
soundly each night. Royal Caribbean clearly has a winner in the new bedding
program, which they will introduce to the rest of the fleet in
approximately 189 square feet, my Superior Ocean View Stateroom
wasn't huge, but it was well laid out with all the best features—a
flat screen television that swiveled for viewing from the bed or
sofa, a hairdryer tucked into the desk drawer, mini refrigerator,
plenty of storage (including cubbies flanking the mirror), and reading
lamps integrated into the bedside lights. The ample closet contained
shelves, a safe, and even a recessed area to store life vests out of
the way. While compact, there is storage behind the bathroom mirror
of a clingy shower curtain, the rounded shower had frosted sliding
shower doors. The balcony size was another surprise. Although it was
furnished with two chairs and a small table, it was extra deep and
could have easily accommodated a chaise lounger as well.
left my sanctuary and headed to the Windjammer for breakfast, I
couldn't help but be distracted by the enticing aroma of coffee one
deck below and made a slight detour to Cafe Promenade for a double
No need to pack your own coffee pot. Seattle's Best is the featured
java and it's good, no matter where you get your caffeine fix on
The Windjammer turned out to be ideal for
breakfast. With its serving station layout, I encountered no lines
and easily found a window table in the adjacent Jade seating area.
The buffet restaurant contains Jade, two lines serving Asian
specialties, and Windjammer, with more conventional fare and tables
that fill the entire aft area of the deck, many with expansive sea
views. Both areas have comfortable rattan chairs, Jade's decor being
slightly more serene in shades of green and peach and Windjammer
decked out in navy blue nautical style.
at Coco Cay was announced during breakfast, but I was in no hurry
to go ashore yet—it
was overcast and I had a lot of ship to see before I set forth to
evaluate the tendering process. For a good view, I headed upstairs
to the Viking Crown Lounge.
Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge houses several distinct
spaces; Olive or Twist is a sophisticated Martini and Jazz lounge,
Cloud Nine is a quiet spot for conversation, Seven Hearts is the
card room, and, new to Freedom of the Seas, is a private club for
Diamond Crown & Anchor members where refreshments are available
and a concierge is on hand to assist them. One deck up is the
Skylight Chapel with room for sixty wedding guests.
noticed a distinctive lounge on my way to the theater the night
before and wanted a closer look at Pharaoh's Palace. The playful
Egyptian-themed style of the lounge was as intriguing by day as it was
the previous evening when it was the setting for the Welcome Aboard Dance
Party. It's also the venue for the ubiquitous art auctions.
Adjacent, behind closed doors, the Connoisseur Club Cigar Lounge is a vaguely Moorish setting
with manly tweed and leather sofas and chairs arranged in inviting
As much as I enjoyed
exploring Freedom of the Seas, it was time to make my way to Coco
Two large tenders from ashore made the process quick and easy.
Although I had just missed a departing tender when I arrived at the
tendering station, another one arrived a few minutes later.
passengers were routed in one direction and those of us waiting were
then invited to board. No congestion, no problem. It was a smooth
operation, as carefully choreographed as a ballet.
Cay, Royal Caribbean's 140-acre private paradise in the Berry Island
chain, boasts novel added attractions along with waverunners,
parasailing, snorkeling, and the Caribbean's largest Aqua Park. New
is the world's largest inflatable 40-foot water slide (fun for
adults and kids alike) and an adorable Fisher Price Power Wheels track
where youngsters can take a miniature Hummer, Jeep, or Cadillac
a spin. Even at a sedate 3 mph, it looked like fun. Unfortunately,
it's reserved for kids from ages 3 to 8 and I was told no when I
asked if I could try it out.
Instead, I dived into
the beach barbeque (no age limit) and a shaded hammock to listen to
beach tunes by the Surf City All Stars until time to
return to the ship.
of the Day—Dinner
& More Than One Show
You may have already
guessed that my day was free of official functions. This gave each
media member the freedom to pursue individual story ideas and participate in a
variety of activities. For me, that meant exploring Coco Cay (which
I write about in my books for Fodor's, The Complete Guide to
Caribbean Cruises and the annual editions of Caribbean Ports of Call), as well
as experiencing the many entertainment options on board. Tonight's
schedule is jam-packed!
mural "Tequila Sunrise"
I began by meeting
colleagues in Boleros, the Latin-themed lounge, for—what
else?—a mojito. We then found seats in Studio B for the pre-dinner
ice show. The skating company presented quite an extravaganza,
particularly considering the limited space they had for their jumps.
Totally unexpected were the Russian pair whose quick-change artistry
had us stumped. We left impressed and amazed—how'd they DO that?
Don't miss the ice show!
the freedom to dine where we pleased, we chose the Windjammer
because we didn't want to miss the sailaway fireworks.
Wow! We made a good move—I've never seen crab claws on any ship
like the ones we found in the buffet. Huge! With plenty of time to
spare, we made our way outside for a tropical umbrella drink and the
fireworks display from Coco
show followed, this one "The Beatles Experience," starring
Rain in the Arcadia Theater. The group Rain captures the essence of
The Beatles throughout their career, from mop-top teen idols,
through their hippie phase, and finally the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper
era. You could swear that was a younger, cuter, Sir Paul on stage.
was totally entertaining and, not surprising, many teens were
present, singing right along with their parents. The faux fab four received
well deserved thunderous applause from the standing room only
as children and teens have their own club spaces on Freedom of the
Seas, adults found freedom from the under-21 set at Twenty Nightclub,
a late-night disco party that took place under the stars in the
Solarium. Pronounced to be "over the top cool" (watch for
some Cirque-inspired characters), this is sure to be a popular event
on regular cruises. Kids, don't even think of crashing... a doorman
guards the entry and issues black wrist bands.
pondered the significance of those BLACK wrist bands before
retiring, but the thought didn't keep me awake...
More --> Freedom
of the Seas, Part 3
of the Seas, Part 4
Back to --> Freedom
of the Seas, Part 1
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© Linda Coffman