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Freedom of the Seas
Royal Caribbean Gives Passengers Even MORE Freedom to "Get Out There"

Stateroom 6362

by Linda Coffman

Part Two—How Accommodating
The first 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 pillow top. 

To anyone who finds sleep elusive—that 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 upcoming months.

At 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 and—drum roll, please!—instead 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.

Royal Promenade

As I 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 espresso. 

Hint: 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 board.

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.

Arrival 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.

Royal 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.

I 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 conversation areas. 

Coco Cay
As much as I enjoyed exploring Freedom of the Seas, it was time to make my way to Coco Cay. 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. Re-embarking 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.

Coco 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 Escalade for 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.

Business 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!

Boleros—glass 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?

Hint: Don't miss the ice show!

With 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 Cay

Another 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. It 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 audience.

Just 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.

I 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 
                Freedom of the Seas, Part 4

Back to --> Freedom of the Seas, Part 1

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