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twangster

Freedom OTS 11/11/17 8 Nights, Modified Western Caribbean

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I am sitting in my hotel waiting for magic hour - that time when you head to the pier.  It's slowly inching closer, minute by minute.  Tick, tock, tick, tock.  

IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!!!!

I spent the week in the Rocky Mountains working at a site just over 10,000 feet in altitude.  It snowed twice and temperatures went below freezing every night.  Last night the Florida humidity was even higher from the rain and it hit me like a wall as I stepped off the plane onto the jet bridge.  Less than 24 hours ago I was scrapping ice off the windshield of my car.  I'm so ready for this cruise...

I flew in last night and stayed in the Las Olas area of Ft. Lauderdale.  It was raining as I headed out late for a bite to eat and my sneakers were soaked by the time I got back to the hotel.  Thankfully the hotel had a shoe drier (a.k.a. hair dryer).  It's a beautiful sunny morning today and I've got that wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomach - IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!!!!

I ran into some RCI IT workers at the bar last night but I bit my tongue and didn't bring up the website.  Good thing, these guys work in other areas like point-of-sale.  I did learn that IT doesn't sit in the Miami office where the executives are, rather they are in Miramar, FL.  These guys seemed to enjoy working for RCI and had only good things to say about the company.  

The cruise is operating a modified itinerary.  Despite Eastern ports opening back up this month in the wake of the hurricanes, the itinerary was changed from Eastern to Western Caribbean.    

Day 1 - Ft. Lauderdale

Day 2 - Sea Day

Day 3 - Grand Cayman

Day 4 - Cozumel 

Day 5 - Sea Day

Day 6 - Ocho Rios

Day 7 - Labadee

Day 8 - Sea Day

Day 9 - Ft. Lauderdale

This will be my first time using terminal 29.

My inside guarantee fare has landed me midship on deck 10.  First time on Freedom class and I'm looking forward to exploring a class of ship that I've heard great things about.  After this cruise I have a longggg 6 nights before my next cruise.   

I've recently added a couple of lens to my camera kit and I'm looking forward to trying them out on this cruise.

Without further adieu, it's time!   

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

I am sitting in my hotel waiting for magic hour - that time when you head to the pier.  It's slowly inching closer, minute by minute.  Tick, tock, tick, tock.  

I spent the week in the Rocky Mountains working at a site just over 10,000 feet in altitude.  It snowed twice and temperatures went below freezing every night.  Last night the Florida humidity was even higher from the rain and it hit me like a wall as I stepped off the plane onto the jet bridge.  Less than 24 hours ago I was scrapping ice off the windshield of my car.  I'm so ready for this cruise...

I flew in last night and stayed in the Las Olas area of Ft. Lauderdale.  It was raining as I headed out late for a bite to eat and my sneakers were soaked by the time I got back to the hotel.  Thankfully the hotel had a shoe drier (a.k.a. hair dryer).  It's a beautiful sunny morning today and I've got that wonderful feeling in the pit of my stomach - IT'S CRUISE DAY!!!!!!

I ran into some RCI IT workers at the bar last night but I bit my tongue and didn't bring up the website.  Good thing, these guys work in other areas like point-of-sale.  I did learn that IT doesn't sit in the Miami office where the executives are, rather they are in Miramar, FL.  These guys seemed to enjoy working for RCI and had only good things to say about the company.  

The cruise is operating a modified itinerary.  Despite Eastern ports opening back up this month in the wake of the hurricanes, the itinerary was changed from Eastern to Western Caribbean.    Ft. Lauderdale, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Ocho Rios and Labadee with a few sea days here and there to make it an 8 night cruise Saturday to Sunday ending back here in Port Everglades.  This will be my first time using terminal 29.

My inside guarantee fare has landed me midship on deck 10.  First time on Freedom class and I'm looking forward to exploring a class of ship that I've heard great things about.  After this cruise I have a longggg 6 nights before my next cruise.   

I've recently added a couple of lens to my camera kit and I'm looking forward to trying them out on this cruise.

Without further adieu, it's time!   

What lens did you add? I have Canon IS 70-300 and IS 150-500 for my Alaskan cruises.

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I'm on board now, will be adding some photos soon, but am waiting to be at sea to get some good shots.  

My $30 BOGO specialty dinner has me in Giovanni's tonight and Chops tomorrow.  Mouth is watering just thinking about it 😎

I'm liking this ship and fear it's going to cost me a sailing on Liberty to get some slide action.  

3 hours ago, Sweety said:

What lens did you add? I have Canon IS 70-300 and IS 150-500 for my Alaskan cruises.

I've added a 16-35mm and 12mm fisheye.  I have a full frame body so those are native, not crop.  The 16-35 takes filters and while I've often used and love my 14mm, it's quite bulbous and filters are a challenge.  So I've given up 2mm to have filters.  Oh the humanity.  

I've learned a cruise ship works well when using Ultra Wide Angle lens. 

For Alaska I used my 28-300mm but am looking at some longer glass for the Alaska group cruise next year.  Hmmm, a cruise or another lens? Tough choice.  Cruise might win that battle.  

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Guess I should add something about embarkation.  

This is my 1st time using terminal 29 at Port Everglades.  Easy ride from the hotel using a ride share.  I arrived around 10:40am.   $9.95 including tip.  Short 5 minute line for metal detector, no line in platinum/emerald queue and then upstairs to wait for boarding.  

They announced that USCG is doing a more thorough inspection today since Freedom recently came back to the US earlier this month.   At 11:28am boarding commenced, suite & Pinnacle, followed by diamonds and 10 minutes later emerald.  

First beverage in hand at 11:48am.  

Windjammer was empty so I grabbed a bite to eat and made my specialty dining reservations.  

Cabins were originally supposed to be ready at 1 pm but they pushed that to 1:30 pm.  

I explored the ship, took some pictures, planning when to come back and take better pictures when at sea or when lighting is better.  

Muster is at 4:30pm.  Time for another beverage.  

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Next up, some outdoor photos.  I'm hoping to take better pics once at sea and in beautiful Caribbean waters, but we had a nice sunset while in Port Everglades so here are a few photos.

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Our departure was delayed when a Sheriff's boat apparently collided with the Oosterdam while she was at the pier in front of us.  This occurred during our Muster drill.  Two officers were injured so it became a big deal with lots of emergency responders.  With a strong wind blowing from the North East we couldn't sail until the Oosterdam departed and with a collision the USCG had to inspect her before releasing the ship.   

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As a result we enjoyed the sunset tied up in Port Everglades and departed in the dark after dinner.

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Honorable mention goes to the local harbor pilot this evening.  With the wind up the seas were not smooth and the pilot boat was being tossed around quite a bit.  We turned and slowed to provide some shelter from the wind but it was fun to watch the pilot leave the ship.  Freedom makes it very easy to watch the event from deck 4.  Pictures don't do it justice.

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Day 2 - Sea Day

Breakfast in the WJ.  Typical WJ selection, I can't imagine someone not finding something to eat.  Lots of fruit, eggs different ways, Belgian waffles, french toast, etc.  Noted a gluten free section with GF french toast this morning.  Our friendly WJ greeter Victor:

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Found these great quiet areas deck 11 forward.  Open air, very peaceful.

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Also found the forward sun deck on deck 13.  I'm not sure if this left over from her recent return from Europe, but did I mention that Freedom is my new favorite ship? :1_grinning:

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In a show of support, I plan to join them later and go topless.  No pictures though...

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Time to hit the gym. 
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Wow, that was a grueling walk up the stairs from deck 10.  My workout complete, I just had time to take a picture of people a lot more dedicated than I. 

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For the record, classes offered include:

Tour De Cycle $12

Pure-Form Pilates $12

Trilo3y Bootcamp $35 per class, 3 classes for $90

Pure-Form Yoga $12

I decided to workout my biceps and will soon start with 12oz curls.  It's past noon in Mongolia right?

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Time for a stroll down the Royal Promenade.  A Dreamworks character was posing for pictures with children of all ages.

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Beer and cider selections at the pub.  Time to start on those 12oz curls I mentioned before...

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Freedom has a feature I really enjoy on cruise ships.  The deck 4 outdoor covered decks below the lifeboats.  Great place to grab a book or possibly a cold beer and enjoy the sounds of the ocean.

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More pictures.  In and around Boleros.  This really is a pretty ship.

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Can't neglect the Morgan.

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Or the lady/mermaid thing coming out of the ceiling

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Then it was off to the ice show.  Very well done.  It doesn't have the ice projection you'll see on Oasis class, especially with Harmony, but a great show with emphasis on skating instead of projection on the ice.

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Chops tonight.  Going to miss the Captain's address.  

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15 minutes ago, rjac said:

That looks like a killer place just to read or just "be". Where is that on the ship? Your photos are making me think I need to book a cruise on the Freedom!:27_sunglasses:

There are a few such places on Freedom, something I missed on the mega ships.  This photo is from deck 4 near the aft elevators - Boleros.

Was hoping for a sunset tonight, but apparently we went through some light rain during the ice skating show and it's cloudy now.

I should add the Welcome aboard show last night was very good.  The Amazing Adagio of Peter and IIdiko.  I should have taken pictures but sometimes you just need to enjoy the show live and not have a camera stuck up in your face.  They were very good.

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2 hours ago, rjac said:

That looks like a killer place just to read or just "be". Where is that on the ship? Your photos are making me think I need to book a cruise on the Freedom!:27_sunglasses:

I was just thinking the same.  I need to book a cruise on Freedom too just by looking at these.  Never sailed the Freedom class but will definitely give it some thought now.  These pics in and around Boleros and the ones from Deck 11 would be enough for me all week just to read and relax.  Great pics @twangster, keep them coming please 🙂

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Man, these photos are making me so eager to go on my own cruise on Freedom in just over 5 months (140 days)!

And nice to see the pub has Blue Moon and Guinness, even if only in bottles/cans. I'll be able to "get by" with those, plus whatever Vintages has in reds. :10_wink:

Thanks so much for this live blog! Can't wait to see the rest of the trip!

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Chops was okay. Glad I used a BOGO 2 for $30 for both Giovanni's and Chops.  Service was great.  It was dark in Chops and I wasn't going to use my flash out of respect for fellow diners so no pics tonight.

It's formal night so I wore a navy blazer, no tie.  Me and another guy wore jackets.  Every other guy was in a collared shirt, no tie, no jacket.

 I'm looking forward to the MDR tomorrow to see what it's like.  

Sitting at the Schooner Bar at the moment listening to a piano entertainer.  He is kind of funny, at least for an old guy like me.  I'm enjoying it as corny as some of his stuff may be.  

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