Friends, I have so many things I want to tell you about my very first experience going on a cruise. In November, I went on a press trip with Royal Caribbean, and explored all that there is to do on one of their truly remarkable ships, Freedom of the Seas.
In particular, I want to talk about how easy Royal Caribbean makes it to be gleefully entertained, how fantastic the kids programming is, how memorable all the meals really are (the food is every bits as good as they say it is!). And I want to talk about the most important thing that I learned: how critical it is for parents with children to spend time away from home AND away from their kids, together.
I’ve got separate posts headed your way over the next few months dedicated to each of these topics. For today, though, I want to introduce you to Freedom of the Seas, and if you have never cruised before, to give you a taste of what Royal Caribbean has to offer. We were told that cruising would give us an opportunity to feel pampered and to be very entertained, but we never could have imagined how a vacation could so easily provide wow after #Royalwow.
We stayed in a Deluxe Ocean Stateroom, which offered two twin beds that easily become a king, a small sitting area, private bathroom with shower, and most importantly, a small private balcony. The couch also converts to a bed to accommodate extra guests. The room was quite spacious for 2, and we could have squeezed in our two kids here, though it would have become decidedly less comfy if we had done that. When we cruise with our kids later (and we totally will…can’t wait to tell you about what they have on board for kids!), we will likely spring for a larger room.
The Ship Interior
The interior of the ship was, in a word, magnificent. It honestly felt like a floating city; very easy to forget that you were actually on a boat as opposed to at a resort complex on land! Freedom of the Seas has a main thoroughfare with what feels like a small, beautiful mall inside of it, with shops, specialty bars and places to eat.
It also has countless “tucked away” spots just like this one, where you can relax, have a drink, and just enjoy your surroundings. When we set sail, every single stateroom on the ship was booked, which means that we had somewhere around 3,000 passengers on the ship, not counting the 1,360 crew members. And yet, Tim and I were able to find place after place to steal away and be by ourselves, or at least not in a huge crowd. I have no idea how that was even possible, but I have been told that it is by design. The ship is overflowing with little nooks for people to find and enjoy in peace and quiet. This was one of the things that surprised and delighted me the very most about cruising. I assumed before going that it would feel like going on vacation with 3,000 strangers. But it doesn’t!
This is where we ate most of our meals. I mean, c’mon! The dining room was nothing short of spectacular. I felt so very spoiled just getting to dine here night after night. And the food. YOU GUYS. I have a whole future post dedicated to the topic, because it is just that worthy! 🙂
The Freedom of the Seas is a gorgeous ship, and it is perfectly appointed to encourage relaxation and pure enjoyment. But if you want to be entertained as well as to be relaxed, then don’t you worry: Royal Caribbean is ready for you!
Every single night they have amazing shows in their theater. We saw a Broadway review, incredible live musical performances, dancers, and a comedian (admittedly, he was offensive and I didn’t like him, but I guess that’s sort of the deal with comedians…). We even caught an afternoon 3D movie (The Croods! I’ve been wanting to see it for a while but I NEVER get to go to the movies!). I thought that the level of talent we got to enjoy on the ship was absolutely astounding. And as you can see, the theater can hold a lot of people, yet it still feels intimate. We had a great seat for every single performance, because there’s no such thing as a bad seat in the house!
We also got to try our hand at ice skating. That’s right, Freedom of the Seas has an ice skating rink. And as you can see, I was a total natural. I took one lap around the rink, gave myself a killer bruise on my arm (see picture above), and then retired my skates and decided to let the professionals take the ice.
Did you know that Royal Caribbean is one of the largest employers of ice skaters in the world? Their performers put on an incredible show for us. The house was totally packed for their shows; it was the most “crowded” I felt during the whole trip, and even then, it felt like no big deal. We were seated quickly and it only took a few minutes to get out of the theater afterwards. And best of all, no traffic to deal with to drive back home! In fact, we walked from the show straight to a fabulous dinner. What a vacation, people!!!
If you want something a little more “low key” then just play some board games with other folks on the ship. We took part in a really fun organized game of Apples to Apples. Evidently we aren’t the only fans of this game, as about 100 people showed up to play! In addition to organized group games, they also have a special room on the ship just for playing games at your leisure! Tim and I played a quick round of scrabble, and there was a fierce game of rummy happening one table over from us. Those ladies looked serious!
Or maybe art is more up your alley. TheCEO of Royal Caribbean is a huge fan of art, and his love really shows on the ships, which are full of beautiful pieces you can enjoy. There’s even an art auction on board so you can take home a treasure! We sat in on a very interesting art lecture while on the ship, too. See? Something for everyone!
I even managed to stumble upon a cooking demonstration, happening right in front of one of the main buffets on the ship. I watched the highly skilled chefs on board, I learned a few new techniques, and I got to sample the yummy end result. It really blew me away how many exciting and fun opportunities were waiting around every corner.
Work It Out
For those of you who like to work on your fitness, the views from these treadmills are quite spectacular. The workout facility also has a boxing ring (!) and an aerobics room for classes like yoga, pilates, and step aerobics. I almost got on one of those treadmills just so that I could workout in such a beautiful setting.
Instead, I spent some very relaxing time in the sauna and steam rooms available in the fitness center. That’s got to be the best way EVER to work up a sweat. Seriously though, this was one of my very favorite moments on board: quiet, calm, warm, and relaxing. Growing up, I actually had a sauna in my house. It is SOOOOOO random, and not at all indicative of my income bracket. It just so happens that the person my parents bought the house from was “that guy” (you know, the upper-middle aged bachelor with a hairy chest, a gold chain around his neck, and a sauna in his master suite). I haven’t been in a sauna in 15 years (my parents use the space as storage! Ack!). It felt like going home, honestly.
Quantum of the Seas
While on the ship I also got to learn more about the ship that Royal Caribbean is currently building. It is called the Quantum of the Seas and I want to vacation on it SO BAD!!!!
So that would be bumper cars that you are seeing in this rendering. Bumper cars at sea. I think I could hang with that a bit better than the ice capades “incident” I had on the rink. Run into someone else on purpose? I got this!!!
That same area will also transform into a full basketball court. And I cannot WAIT to watch folks dribbling the ball on the high seas! Hee hee! Seriously though, the sports and fitness center on this ship is going to be second to none. Just imagine what the rest of the ship is going to look like!
What I Love About Cruising
I was so impressed with the Royal Caribbean staff, and the thoughtfulness behind the design of the ship. I spend 4 nights and 5 days without a care in the world, and without feeling like I was part of a big crowd. My experience on the ship was one of luxury and leisure. “Freedom,” indeed, is what I felt on this ship. Free to do as I pleased, when I pleased, and to always BE pleased. The staff made sure every moment was a #RoyalWow, and I had a blast. It was my first cruise, and there’s no way it will be my last!