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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 06-05-2006, 03:55 PM
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Thanks for checking in, Dave. Those beds must have been very comfortable if you slept in until 6:45...
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Old 06-06-2006, 02:53 AM
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Nancy - the flow rider is free but you have to sign a waiver. There are also open skating sessions listed in the Compass. Not sure if they are free or have a fee. I'll check. David4: not many laptop users from what I can tell. Not too man people using the internet cafe either. Maybe this explains the high speeds I am getting! Now on to today's update:

Day 3 begins…

It is 5am and I couldn’t sleep so here I am typing up today’s update. Amazing what 3 hours of sleep can do to one’s mind.

We are a couple hours from anchorage at Cozumel. There are some white caps on the sea and just the least little hint of movement in the ship. Today we go on the Passion Island tour, which is a few hours on a secluded beach with included bar and food. This will also be the first test of tendering for Freedom Of The Seas. Tonight is the Crown And Anchor Society meeting where all past Royal Caribbean passengers get more complimentary champagne and are glad-handed by the senior staff members. There are over 1600 C&A members aboard this sailing.

Yesterday was about as perfect a day as one could ask for. Glassy seas, calm winds, and sunny skies. All day. Captain Bill Wright was prominent in my day as he was a surprise guest at a social gathering I attended for another internet website. He graciously accepted a framed poem about the Freedom Of The Seas, which was a collaboration of several attendees. He then stayed to autograph copies of the poem, which were handed out to the guests. Captain Bill hadn’t planned on the rock star treatment but he stayed on for over half an hour to sign these. Later he made a dramatic entry via the moving bridge over the Promenade. This bridge is hidden in the ceiling and descends to the open area below. Quite impressive.

The show Once Upon A Time was very good and lived up to its hype. Most cruise ship shows are pretty generic revues aimed at impressing the first-time cruiser. This show was sort of that way, but the production was kicked up and the ensemble displayed more energy and talent than I am used to seeing on a cruise ship. They had two shows, one early and one late. It was worth seeing. As an aside, I did note that our 10:45pm showing was not a capacity crowd.

We went to Johnny Rockets yesterday. Perhaps it is me but the burgers didn’t seem as good as they were at Rockets on the Mariner Of The Seas. The meat had a overly processed feel and taste – sort of like Salisbury steak.

For the first formal night dinner I had escargots, lobster bisque, and roast duck. It was all delicious and very nicely prepared. The duck portion was huge and the skin was nicely crisped. Yum! So far it is quite apparent to me that the food quality from the ship’s main galley is not impacted by the number of guests they must serve.

I saw the first action at the Flow Rider yesterday. It is smaller than it appears from photos and TV images. It is also faster looking. The water really moves along. It looks like a very difficult thing to master and many people wiped out. A couple of guests stood out and were able to do tricks with coaching from the staff. No glasses can be worn so it appears I won’t be able to participate. Darn! But I am quite blind without glasses so it would not be a safe thing for me to do. Instead I must sit at the adjacent bar and offer encouragement to the others. We also serve who sit and sip.
The pools are expansive. Freshwater is used in the H2O zone pools. This is a popular place for kids and young families. The main pool area – while busy – never seemed overwhelmed by crowds and I noted that lounge chairs were available even in the afternoon and near the pools. This despite the early morning assault by the lounge chair hogs, who mark their territory with a flip-flop or book placed on the chairs. I almost called a general alarm when I noted several chairs with personal items in them, but no one in the pools! I feared they had all vanished! Cretins.

There are many Japanese folks aboard. I observed several groups being led around by people who appeared to be guides of some sort.

Well I could go on and on, but I’ll end now and save more for tomorrow’s update.

Oh! Big P.S.: I met Lil' Lori! What a witty and sweet woman! She was going to try the flow rider yesterday. I'll hopefully run into her today and see how it went.
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Old 06-06-2006, 05:15 AM
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Thanks again Dave56. Last night my 18 year old daughter was looking at the picks of FOS for the first time and said she wanted to go right now. My wife is looking forward to the shows,and I am looking forward to just kicking back. As far as Jonny Rockets go, it might be a different vender suppling the meat. I will be taking over for you offering the encouragement in the bar by the Flow Rider, cheers to all who try it, that being my son. My thoughts on the items found on the lounge chairs are that they need to be placed in lost and found so that they can be claimed by thouse that own them. We wouldnt want anyone to lose something would we. Just a few more days and we will get to enjoy the Freedom also.
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Old 06-06-2006, 06:05 AM
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Dave,
Thanks for such a prompt reply to my question! Life aboard already seems to be reaching a natural ebb and flow and you seem to be progresing micely into Vacation Mode. Interestingly, my daughter and I got the same impression on our Johny Rockets experience on the FOS - just not the same quality as on our Voyager Class visits. Sorry you haven't slept well - sort of amazing considering the quality of the bedding. However, I have been known to suffer on many a cruise with only a couple hours of sleep each night (VBG). Glad you had a chance to meet L'il Lori and wish I was there with you guys to join the fun!

Keep us posted, it is always great to hear from you!
Nancy
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Old 06-06-2006, 07:22 AM
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I went to Johnny Rockets as well on the Freedom, but had never tried it before on any past RCI cruises. I thought the hamburger was good, but not better than the one I picked up in the Windjammer the next afternoon. I tried the fries and onion rings someone else in our party ordered, and they were pretty standard fare. The one problem we had was poor service in Johnny Rockets, but I think the waitress was new to cruising and a bit overwhelmed.

Also, we were given a beeper and told the wait was 45 minutes, but they beeped us after 20 minutes, so that was a nice surprise. I think he said the beeper works anywhere on the ship.

Sandy
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Old 06-06-2006, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
There are also open skating sessions listed in the Compass. Not sure if they are free or have a fee.
When the Voyager came out in 1999 (?), they charged a skate rental fee. They said they were doing it for crowd control because of the size of the ice rink vs the number of people the ship held. They abandoned the fee after a few months. I guess not as many people were clamoring to skate during a beautiful Caribbean day. Let us know what you find out about skating fees on the Freedom.

Sounds like you're having an excellent time!

Sandy
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Old 06-06-2006, 12:24 PM
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Thanks Dave, it is getting me more and more excited everytime you give your update and I am a little over 3mos away from my cruise on the Freedom!!! Cant wait to try out the FlowRider!!! I will have to have a few drinks before so the wiping out part is a little bit funner and I dont get frustrated..lol...The dinner sounds really good, I told my wife I would try escargo on this trip, and I cant wait for the Lobster and Duck!!! Have fun and looking forward to your next update!!
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Old 06-06-2006, 04:18 PM
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Oh, Dave! I couldn't wait to sign on today and ready your update. I am *so* ready for vacation. I'm cruising vicariously via your updates!!

A queston about the beds, if I may. . . .I've noticed that a lot of hotels are trying to copy Westin Hotels with the comfortable matresses, pillows and comforters. . . .Nice percale sheets, comforter covers, etc. Is this what the FOS beds are like? Are they still two singles pushed together?

Hope you are having a GRAND time!!
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 06-07-2006, 07:24 AM
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Day 4…

We are sitting in the harbor at Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The skies are cloudy and it looks like rain may hit us. There were some thunderstorms last night but if the seas were rough you wouldn’t have known it without looking. The ship rode smooth all night with just a hint of felt motion every so often.

I just finished breakfast in the dining room. The Eggs Benedict was perfectly prepared – perhaps the best I have ever had on a cruise ship. Dining room breakfasts are much more relaxing than the buffet could ever hope to be. We had two other couples at the open seating table and enjoyed their company.

Today we do the butterfly farm and semi-submersible Nautilus tour. Grand Cayman is sort of boring to me, and I booked the tour mostly to give my son something to do. He likes fish and insects and all that stuff.

Yesterday was picture perfect. It was sunny and hot in Cozumel all day. Just beautiful. We did the Passion Island beach tour. This is a small island (sand bar really) on the north side of Cozumel which lays a few hundred yards offshore. It takes a while to get there, over a pothole filled road and then to a 15 minute boat ride. Freedom was the only ship in port and there were only 41 people signed up for this tour. So we had as close to a private island experience as we’ll probably ever have. About a half mile of beach with just 41 people! Add to that an included open bar and a buffet lunch and you have a very relaxing day. The tour only had 3 hours on the island though and most of us felt it should be longer. The tour guide, Alex, was great. He memorized everyone’s name by the time we arrived at the island.

The island of Cozumel still bears many scars from Hurricane Wilma. Everywhere you look you see ravaged trees and vegetation. Miles of trees laying on their sides. Some struggling to revive themselves. The island looks gray from the dead wood as opposed to the usual green. How sad. The docks are still being worked on. We tendered to International Pier and the close up views of the destroyed portions of the dock speak volumes about the terrible power unleashed by the hurricane.

Some glitches to note: our cabin was not cleaned yesterday, other than the bathroom. We left the ship at 8am and when we returned at 3pm the cabin looked just as it did when we left in the morning. Not sure what happened, but I’ll give our attendant one free pass.

One bartender told me this is the first cruise where they used the computers to charge for the drinks. He said the preview cruises had open bars, and the travel agents and other dignitaries kept them busy from opening to closing, with people three deep at times. (By the way, this confirms my suspicions about the travel agents being a notable group of freeloaders . Anyway, as a result they have found some problems with the bar computers. The system has crashed more than once.

Last night was the Crown and Anchor party. It was in the ice rink. They had the ice gone and instead had four tables set up with chafing dishes full of snacks. Waiters had bowls of cold shrimp. Drinks were plentiful and of good quality (in other words they didn’t skimp on the booze). I was quite impressed. It was the best food and drink I have seen at any repeater’s party.

Dinner for me was the lamb. One could order it medium rare or well done. I went for the blood and it was delicious. I will say that, while I have not gone hungry, the dinner menus seem austere. Not too many choices as opposed to past experience with RCCL. My wife had the chef’s “signature” pork chop and pronounced it good. There was a mix-up and my son’s order never made it to the kitchen. His pizza finally came when the rest of us were eating dessert. Hmmm.

Well, that is all for now. We have to get to a tender.
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Old 06-07-2006, 09:40 AM
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Dave,
Great job reporting - you might want to add the cost of the tours you've done and any add'l costs on board you've encountered. I was on one of the freebies last month so didn't have to pay for anything but the tee-shirts in the logo shop.

P.S. I had the escargots but they were cold/greasy when they got to me - sent them back but next batch was worse. Glad to hear that much is corrected. I also suffered from a "missing" item at lunch - I had asked for the soup but it never arrived.
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