I love cruising. Well, I guess I should say that I LOVED cruising. Cruising was my vacation of choice for many years because I could travel to a variety of destinations, not have to fly, and only unpack once. Unfortunately due to some changes in my life the last time I went on a cruise was in 2009. I’ve been wanting to go on a cruise for awhile now but due to various circumstances it just hadn’t happened. So when I was given the opportunity to go on a special 2 night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas I jumped at the chance. Add in that it was the weekend before I started my new job and I was sold.
For most of the month of January Freedom of the Seas was undergoing some improvements – mechanical, physical, and cosmetic. I was lucky enough to be invited on this special 2 night sailing with 20 other bloggers and about 1000 travel agents. We had the opportunity to explore the ship (seeing rooms that you normally wouldn’t get to see unless you were staying in them), check out all the improvements, try out the new restaurants, and just have a good time.
When we boarded the ship on the first day we were able to go right to our state rooms and drop off our things. Since it was a short sailing we were all able to just take our bags on ourselves and get right down to the business of having fun. After checking in and dropping our things off in the room (a Deluxe Ocean View Room to be exact) we headed to the Windjammer for lunch. I’m not usually a fan of buffet restaurants, but the impressive salad bar pulled me right in. Since I knew we’d be eating and drinking a lot over the next two days I decided to start things off on the right foot with a salad. Don’t worry, I didn’t spend any time after that worrying about what I ate or drank 🙂
After a quick lunch we started our tour of the ship. We had been given a map of certain locations to make sure and check out. We were able to tour 12 staterooms (ranging from an inside room to the Presidential suite), check out all the specialty restaurants, and just generally be nosy. It was awesome! Did you know the Presidential suite can sleep up to 14 people and has a balcony that was bigger than most regular staterooms (805 sq feet)? AND it has a hot tub and bar on that huge balcony. During our tour we all began talking about how we could talk someone into letting us switch rooms. I mean, they could fit almost ALL the bloggers in the Presidential Suite… that makes sense right? We spent about 2 hours exploring the ship before we set sail for Nassau. After a quick muster drill it was time to have some fun!
Our first day included fruity drinks, lots of time in the hot tubs (it was kinda cold for this Florida girl), TWO cocktail parties, and the Captain’s Gala dinner in the dining room. I have to add that EVERYTHING was complimentary on this sailing so that we could experience all that Freedom of the Seas had to offer. During dinner you could even order the Filet & Lobster that is usually a $36 up-charge. I myself decided to stick with a seafood dinner of shrimp cocktail and a lobster and shrimp entree. I didn’t have much room left, but I had to try out dessert. It was so worth it! One of my favorite things about Royal Caribbean is their food. I’ve been on three different cruise lines and their’s is by far the best food!
We found out before dinner that night that we were being treated to a shore excursion to Atlantis the next day, so our plans of not going ashore and having the ship to ourselves went out the window. I sure wasn’t going to pass up Atlantis for an empty pool deck! Unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating the next day and we weren’t able to go on our scheduled Atlantis beach day excursion. Instead we opted to “cash in” our excursion for one that would allow us just to explore the resort and check out all the marine life there. Holy cow it was cool! AND it meant that we were back on the ship by 11:30 and enjoying a tasty lunch.
Our afternoon included the rock climbing wall, Flowrider, more time in the hot tubs, more adult beverages, and an ice skating show (yes, there is an ice skating rink AND shows with professional ice skaters on the ship) before getting ready for dinner. I’m a great big scaredy-cat, so I left the rock climbing and surfing to my travel companion. I mean, that’s what he was there for right? I sure as heck wasn’t gonna climb all the way up that huge wall and ring that bell!
Dinner that night was at Sabor Modern Mexican, the newest specialty restaurant to be added to the ship. We were sat with four other people from our blogger group and treated to an AMAZING dinner. The more I thought about this the more I realized that Sabor deserved its own post. So keep an eye out for more about this amazing restaurant!
After dinner we decided to take advantage of the night life on the ship! We hit up our new favorite bar, Boleros, for some Latin inspired cocktails before heading down to check out some Karaoke at On Air. Let me tell you, travel agents can get a little crazy! After Karaoke we headed to the Arcadia Theatre for Comedian AJ Jamal. This was my favorite entertainment on the ship. AJ Jamal was SO funny and he didn’t curse at all! I have no problem with cursing (anyone who has met me knows that), but I always find it great when a comedian can be super funny without using bad language or being crass. AJ Jamal nailed it!
We had planned on hitting up the Club Twenty Party in the Solarium at midnight (who needs sleep right?) but the weather forced the party indoors, so we just took one last dip in the hot tub before calling it a night. It is hard work squeezing the activities from what is normally a 7 day cruise into less than 48 hours!
One of the coolest additions to the ship were these interactive touch screen displays that they added near the elevators on every floor. Cruise ships can be confusing, especially for a first-time cruiser. But then you throw in that this particular ship was 13 decks, 160,000 tons, and 1,112 feet long and you can get all sorts of confused. These touch screen panels could help you find anything you needed! It could get you to your room, help you figure out what restaurants were open (and where they were), show you a listing of what was going on at that very moment, tell you what was going on for the remainder of the day, and even direct you to the closest bathroom. This was one piece of technology that I was happy to find every time I got a little turned around or had to pee!
I thought Freedom of the Seas was amazing the first time I went on it back in 2007, but somehow they managed to make it even better. Adding a cupcake shop and a Mexican restaurant definitely helped up the ante in my book. My travel companion had never been a cruise before and was already talking about booking one before we had even gotten off the ship. I guess this 2 night preview cruise did its job huh? We will definitely be cruising with Royal Caribbean again soon!
**Disclosure: I was invited on a special complimentary 2 night cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas in exchange for 2 blog posts and some social media coverage. As always, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.