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Freedom of the Seas
Western Caribbean
Sept. 24 - Oct. 1, 2006

by Kimberly Thurmond

Though this is only the 2nd cruise I have ever taken, it was an amazing experience I will treasure. We did the 7 day Western Caribbean route. The ship itself feels like a large mall with an upscale hotel in it. 

In fact the only time I knew I was on a ship that was moving was in the Arcadia theatre on level 3 when we were crossing against the ocean from Jamaica to Haiti. Even then I just felt a swimmy feeling once in a while, but nothing to make me ill as my previous cruise experience.

The customer service was top of the line. I did not use any of the upscale restaurants on board because the Windjammer is open from 6am until 9pm so no need to pay for food. The dining experience in the evening was superb, the waiters really get to know your likes and dislikes as if they live with you and serve you on a regular basis. They even put on small shows themselves for two of the nights. If you are not happy with your food they will do everything in their power to make you happy even if it means you trying every dish they offer. Our waiter insisted on us having 2 to 3 desserts each night. 'Death by chocolate' takes on real meaning for me after that experience.

The rooms were plush, I stayed on a sofa-bed that was surprisingly as comfortable as the bed my parents slept on. Our room attendant cleaned our room twice a day. Once he let out the sofa-bed at night there was not much room to mover around. Still there was plenty of closet space. The toilets were, believe it or not, one of my favorites. The fastest flush in the world! The bathroom still small but acceptable. Our balcony was roomy with room for 2-3 people to sit out and enjoy the view.

The one thing I would have liked would be to have a handheld map of the ship. Some of the places were difficult to navigate such as trying to get to a theatre and having to walk through the 'smoky' casino. Once you learn a route you better keep it because in some instances we had to walk all the way to the front of the ship before taking an elevator down, no one told us, it took a few days of going up and down and around to figure it out.

The shows were outstanding! I can see why they brag about them because they are truly 'as good as' if not better than some of the theatre productions I have seen.

There were plenty of pools and hot tubs but as is the case, the best time to use them is when everyone else is onshore.

One of the more pleasant island visits was to Labadee, Haiti because while we were swimming on what is truly a 'paradise island,' the ship set up and catered all the food there on the island.

The shops on board are pricey but if you do want to buy a souvenir wait until the last couple of days when they start discounts.

There were plenty of activities specific for all ages. There was always something going on which is a good thing because even though the televisions were nice, the satellite was really bad, about all you get was soccer, International CNN, and the Jeffersons.

Thank goodness for the cruise compass which is presented each night in your stateroom so you can plan the next day's activities.

The ship is a beauty. I felt safe, comfortable, and well-fed.


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