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Dan Adams

Age: 50


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Freedom of the seas

Sailing Date: 01-27-2009

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

To celebrate our 25th-wedding anniversary, my wife and I booked our first cruise. We're both prone to sea-sickness, so we looked for the biggest ship we could find (Freedom of the Seas), booked for December (after Hurricane season has ended) and what we surmised might be the compartively gentler waters of the Western Caribbean. Well, I'm here to tell you we were very, very happy with all three of our choices: the ship is HUGE, the weather was mild (although it could have been a little sunnier and warmer), and most importantly we never got sick. Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is an amazing ship, and frankly, my wife and I agree it was THE BEST vacation experience ever. The food was fantastic, whether eating in the buffet-style restaurants or the oppulent formal dining rooms. We also ate at Chops one night and Portofino's the next, and these were excellent in their own right and definitely worth the extra-cost. Our preference was to eat breakfast and lunch buffet-style in, say, The Windjammer Cafe, and to eat dinner at the more formal dining room or specialty restaurants. It was convenient not having to think too much about your attire during the day meals, and it was so much fun to get fancied-up for the evening meals and festivities. Check to see if your cruise has "My Time Dining." Ours did and it allowed us to book our dining time at 6pm each night, to get a window seat, and to eat alone, which is something we much enjoyed considering this was our anniversary we were celebrating. This said, we did enjoy conversing across tables with some of our fellow diners; some with whom we became friendly enough to meet for drinks and conversation at one of the local bars (Olive or Twist was our favorite, by the way). If the food was fantastic (and it certainly was fantastic), then the wait-staff was a definite notch above. And this goes for wait-staff at all of the eateries, whether bars, buffet-style or specialty restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, but particularly in the My Time Dining Room. All duded and dolled-up we thought we looked like a million dollars, and that's probably a tribute to the dining room staff, all of whom made you FEEL like a million bucks! The stateroom was a surprise, for sure. We thought it would be much smaller, but we had plenty of room. The bed was king-sized, plus we had a couch; and the bathroom was more than ample. We had a balcony and much-enjoyed waking up each morning and taking stock of the weather before venturing out for the day. The TV was convenient; we didn't watch any shows, but we did use it to check the status of our on-board account, and also to find out where we were and how far we had traveled, graphically on an on-screen map of the Caribbean. Being it was our anniversary, I surprised my wife by ordering "Happy Anniversary" decorations for the room, and also, another night, rose-petals and champagne. The beautiful decorations were waiting for us when we arrived, and the rose-petals and champagne appeared a few days later, as if out of nowhere, when we called it a night and returned to our room. My wife and I thought the health-club was top-notch. It was our first-stop each morning, and we also returned many evenings. She took advantage of the spinning and aerobic classes, and I signed up for kick-boxing cardio. Excellent machines one and all, and since the health-club is at the front of the ship, the view of the ocean while working-out was fantastic. As with all of the staff we encountered, the Dutchman running the gym, Renee, was simply incredible. We lounged in Labadee and thought it was a simply beautiful place to spend a day. From what I could tell, Royal Caribbean is doing a lot of work there, so I can only imagine our experience will be even better next time (and there will be a next time!). Ocho Rios was what you might expect, but our snorkeling excursion was bad: they didn't have enough masks and had to call in another boat, and then they didn't have enough fins and, guess what, had to call in another boat; and then, to top it all off, the flotation vests were the usual orange kapok vests (think the ones you get when you rent a rowboat) and after we all complained they called in yet ANOTHER boat to get us the more elegant yellow "snorkeling" vests. Once in the water, though, the experience was fun, but not worth the wait or the hassle. NOTE: there are many different snorkeling adventures to be had in Ocho Rios, so I am sure we just got a bad one. Or maybe it was just a bad day. Georgetown, Grand Cayman were gorgeous; the water was the bluest yet. We kayaked and snorkled here, at the Beach Colony Resort (which you can book on-line with Royal Caribbean), and his was top-notch. We highly-recommend this shore adventure. The kayaking was fun and the snorkeling experience was simply incredible. In Cozumel we booked the historic walking tour and shopping trip and we much enjoyed just tooling around at a leisurely pace. But next time we're renting one of those neat, euro-style scooters to be had outside of the port offices...they look like fun, fun, fun. We truly enjoyed our first cruise and highly-recommend Royal Caribbean and Freedom of the Seas. We'll definitely go again, just as soon as we can. This ship has something for everyone: you can lounge and read to your heart's content, you can keep busy with activities, and the ports were exciting. Best of all, the food and the service cannot be beat.

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