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Wait! don't kick me out! My mom and I want to take a late 2020 cruise but we have to get a lot of things in line first and our preferences (room category, embarkation port, ports of call, length of trip, sea day to port day ratio, ship class) mean options get slimmer each month. So, just in case our RCCL options run out before we book, I was hoping you nice people might be able to help us decide on an NCL ship class that will give us a (diet) Royal feel. So far we've only done Freedom and Vision class ship and found we much prefer Freedom class.What we liked: Royal Promenade: we like the way it opens up the ship so doesn't feel like we're on a ship. Types of Shows: The quality of performance shows on Freedom class were AMAZING (ice and stage) MDR: Dat French Onion Soup though.... It's my cruise staple! but of course we also love the super attentive and knowledgeable waitstaff, the variety of food, and the very formal table settings every night Observation Deck/Helipad: Being able to watch as we sail in or away from the front of the ship was something we SORELY missed on Enchantment. I look forward to your help! And if you're wondering about the aforementioned preferences: Room category: Grand Suite Embarkation Port: Nothing more than 15 minutes from the airport (so Miami, Boston, New Jersey, Ft. Lauderdale are fine) Ports of Call: Really looking into the Southern or Eastern Caribbean Length of Trip: We fly in from Chicago, so no less than 7 night Sea to Port Ratio: No more than 3 back-to-back ports, at least 3 sea days, ideally with one before debarkation day Ship Class: Voyager, Freedom, Oasis, Quantum for sure. Could be convinced to do Radiance. Price (per person): $2200 or less
I got more than a little excited when I saw the post from @Matt about the Royal Amplified fleet upgrade schedule, which included some new details on what each class of ship was getting as part of its refurb. In particular, I saw that Freedom class is getting all of these features from her bigger Oasis-class siblings, and Symphony in particular: Sky Pad (what I call "the bounce house") The Perfect Storm water slides Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade Sugar Beach Laser Tag Escape Room Fish & Ships Emphasis on Playmakers and Escape Room is mine. I'm wondering where Playmakers would go, given that Freedom class doesn't have an outdoor space like the Boardwalk on Oasis. Maybe the space where Johnny Rockets currently sits on deck 11, right next to the existing kids' arcade? It wasn't very busy on any of the days I'd walk by there on my recent Freedom sailing, and Playmakers would clearly replace the burgers-and-fries offering of JR. Plus, by putting it right in the space next to an existing arcade, they can refurbish that arcade space with newer games and maybe increase the size a little. Would be some effective use of the space, and anything on the burger front should be better than JR. Even on land, I'm not a fan of JR burgers. The escape room -- I wonder if this would be like on Anthem, where it's just the Teen Club space repurposed for part of the day, or if they might do it like Escape the Rubicon and other dedicated rooms that Oasis-class ships get? I'd really prefer the latter, as a purpose-built space for escape rooms is so much better than just slapping some props into an existing room for a couple of hours on one or two days. But what space would they replace if they did this? Apart from JR, I can't say I noticed any other really "dead" spaces on Freedom. I'm assuming Laser Tag would be done the same way as on Symphony, with walls and other props set up in the Studio B ice rink. Sugar beach -- probably replacing the current cupcake store in the Royal Promenade. Fish & Ships -- NO idea on this one, but I'm surprised (and a little disappointed) they're doing this and not putting in an Izumi like they did on Adventure. There's already the Bull & Bear Pub that could be used as a fish & chips place, keeping the overall theme of British Pub going; why install another restaurant that sort of duplicates a theme already in place? Especially when the marketing material clearly shows the pub is not going anywhere? Overall, this is kind of exciting to see, especially when it's coming in 2020. I really liked sailing on Freedom, and while I'm not a huge sports bar fan, if it improved the beer selection so I could choose something other than Paulaner Salvator or Guinness Draught cans, I'd be very happy to sail her again and try out all the new shiny. Maybe even forego the Europe trip I've been mulling and sail her instead.