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Freedom of the Seas - Mar 31 to Apr 8 - Eastern Caribbean LIVE(ISH)

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452 days have passed since I booked. Now it's just 6 days away! I'm single digit dancin'! I'm super excited, and I just can't hide it! No more waiting, no more holding back, it's time to get

Day 9 & 10 (Debarkation, Return Home) The dreaded day has arrived. There are no more ports, no more sea days. We didn’t even have a docking to watch when we woke up.   We woke

T-minus 1 day to embarkation... The weather is a lot nicer today, as expected. Just some scattered clouds, and nice and warm. We’ll be catching the shuttle at the Publix in a little bit to get to

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A few stray observations about the hotel:

- All rooms, from second floor to 14th, open to a view of the central atrium; no one gets a plain hallway, although the few right across from the elevator doors don’t get to enjoy the view without moving a little to the side.

- While none of the rooms have what you could call “a view” outside the balcony window, our room at the front of the hotel (407) has a definite flaw: The flood lights on top of the main entry’s roof that illuminate the hotel sign shine right into our window. It’s blindingly bright and makes seeing outside at night impossible. At least it’s fully blocked when the curtains are drawn, so we can sleep

- This is clearly a frequent destination for cruisers. We ran into a gent on the elevator this morning who instantly asked us, “So where are you cruising to?” We laughed, told him, and when we asked where he was going he replied that he’s been living there for the last three weeks while his house is getting some renovations done, and that practically everyone he’s met and asked what brought them there said they were on a cruise.

- The WiFi here is being upgraded, and it’s causing some annoying connectivity issues; random dropouts, failures connecting using either the last name and room number that the login form requests or the promo code we were told to try, and some pretty variable signal strength.

- They are also upgrading the room locks. These rooms use cards that you hold up to a sensor on the door, rather than sliding into a slot. Sort of like a Disney MagicBand or Royal WowBand, just not worn. I’ve found the cards (or maybe the sensors) to be hit or miss, and it takes between one and three tries to get it to work. I think it’s this last part that’s being addressed with the upgrade, as the notice in the elevator indicated workers who came to your room would just just need to futz with the locks for a few moments and be done.

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19 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

@JLMoran are the rooms updated? Online they don't look like they have been. The public areas are gorgeous!

If the room pics you saw were from this page‘s photo gallery on Embassy Suites’ site, those are current. Our room looks exactly like the pics in the photo.

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On ‎3‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 12:45 PM, WAAAYTOOO said:

Joe, I feel like you are a chick that we all raised and now we're watching you learn to fly on your own !

So excited for you.  I know we are all just recalling the awe that we felt when we drove up to our first cruise ship.  Even the little ones are SOOOO impressive and when you first step foot through the Centrum and see all the shiny glass and metal.  It takes your breath away.  Freedom is a beautiful ship.  You are definitely not starting small like we did.

I know you're going to have a great time.  You have chosen VERY well with all of your options.  I think the adjoining balcony rooms are going to be WAY nicer than a suite.  There will be much more room and 2 bathrooms.  I think you've thought of everything !  ...but of course, you haven't.  There will be something that you will learn on this cruise that you will use on your next...and so on and so on.  It never ends.  I still learn something new every single time I cruise.

Wishing you fair winds and following seas.

Look everyone - our little Joey is going off on his own !

WOW did you ever hit that square on the head I too feel the excitement and anticipation cant wait till JOE posts his first entry

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The weather actually cleared quite a bit by lunchtime, and also warmed up nicely. We spent some time just lounging by the pool in some shade; every so often, we’d hear a cruise ship’s horn off in the distance as it set off for another journey, and we knew that we’d be hearing those horns ourselves from one heck of a lot closer in just two more days.

We just went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner tonight, so no photos of our dinner or the surroundings. But when we got back, the atrium was lit up really nicely. I took some more pics to show the contrast between night and day.



I also got a pic of one of the lobby murals.



Just going to relax the rest of the night, maybe watch a movie with the missus while the girls continue to work on school assignments. We’re seeing better weather in tomorrow’s forecast, so we’re hoping to get some beach-walking time, maybe after breakfast.

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Pictures look great.  Which lens are you using?   Mine shipped early but didn't make it in time for my cruise.  I'm in flight on my way to FLL at the moment, arrive at 1:30am.  Ugh. 

I decided to try the Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal.  It arrived this morning as I was flying home.  Super disappointed with it and sent it back before I left town.   Bringing a Smooth Q with me.  Seriously looking at the Smove Mobile for the built in extention.  

Great job on the live blog!

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11 hours ago, twangster said:

Pictures look great.  Which lens are you using?   Mine shipped early but didn't make it in time for my cruise.  I'm in flight on my way to FLL at the moment, arrive at 1:30am.  Ugh. 

I’ve been using the wide angle lens for the most part, a few pics were taken without any add-on lens. Most are untouched apart from applying the wand in Photos where I thought it improved things, a few were cropped for better final framing / composition.

And thank you for telling me about that Image Size app! Great tool, just wish I cloud pull in multiple photos to batch process them.


11 hours ago, twangster said:

I decided to try the Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal.  It arrived this morning as I was flying home.  Super disappointed with it and sent it back before I left town.   Bringing a Smooth Q with me.  Seriously looking at the Smove Mobile for the built in extention.

Interesting. What was bad about it that you decided to return it? Asking because I was doing some testing with my Rigiet gimbal , and I was kind of disappointed in that as well. For me, the directional control nubbin isn’t smooth at all, and produces very rough and jerky pans. I also found that using the bundled app with the gimbal was a disaster; the app would decide to lock on to some moving element and not stay pointed straight ahead as I kept walking. I had better results using the stock camera app, but then I lost the ability to start and stop recordings or take pictures with the button on the gimbal. Definitely a “version 1.0” product. Glad it was only $129 and not the $300 for an original DJI Osmo.

11 hours ago, twangster said:

Great job on the live blog!

 Thanks a bunch! That means a lot coming from a photo master!

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T-minus 1 day to embarkation...

The weather is a lot nicer today, as expected. Just some scattered clouds, and nice and warm. We’ll be catching the shuttle at the Publix in a little bit to get to the nearby beach; only $1 per person vs whatever we’d have to pay for a Lyft.

Will be another “take it easy” day, no set agenda.

A few random thoughts:

- Our room lock was adjusted yesterday, and it is much more reliable now

- I can’t for the life of me understand why a room meant to sleep four has two double beds instead of two queens, especially when the bedroom section is more than large enough to accommodate them. The girls are doing OK with it, but my wife and I are finding it a little too cozy. I called the main desk before we came in and confirmed that there are no queen bed rooms, only two doubles or a single king.

- D14 painted this last night, just for fun. Sketched the drawing from a photo she pulled up on her iTouch, then painted with watercolors. I continue to be amazed by the artistic talent of both my girls, but D14 is rapidly outpacing her sister (which is understandable, since D17 takes art for fun and is focused much more on music, where D14 is planning on an art / visual design focus in high school and eventually college)


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2 hours ago, coneyraven said:

Holy cow ..... D14 has some undeniable talent going on here ....... I have zippo in the art department...... Every circle I try to draw comes out like a triangle.


1 hour ago, WAAAYTOOO said:



There's a reason why I gave up using the board in the classroom and use projectors lol.

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So we ended up spending about four hours today out at the nearby public beach. As planned, we took the Beach Link trolley bus from Publix. On the way, we passed by the port and saw Navigator of the Seas at the far end of the port, and also Royal Princess docked very close to where we were driving past. We were all kind of awe-struck at how big Royal Princess was, and then I quickly realized that she was about the same size as Navigator, and Freedom would be even bigger! I honestly have no idea what my reaction when I finally see her up close is going to be.

We got off the trolley at a park a short stretch past where the trolley’s route left the beach area; we didn’t realize until we passed that final stretch of beach that this trolley line doesn’t have fixed stops, and you need to tell the driver when you want to get off. We had to walk a little ways to get back to the beach, but not that far.

The stretch of beach we ended up on was great. Not at all crowded, plenty of space to just stand at the water’s edge and take in the view, as well as a lot of pictures that included some very nice family snaps. Some of those also confirm I’m no bot. 😉



At one point we saw a big flock of pelicans flying in formation. I always thought they were more solitary birds and didn’t do that, so this was quite surprising. It was like watching the Canada Geese migrating, only these birds were slimmer and far less obnoxious as they flew by.



All of these shots were taken using my new telephoto lens. It’s really good in these well-lit conditions, definitely better than it did with the test pics I took at home. Surprisingly, I also really like how panoramic photos with the tele lens come out. I think these are a lot better than what I get with the iPhone 6s Plus’ base lens.BE108BC2-2789-49A9-B10D-4129ECD1D766.thumb.jpeg.a4aa31b45501e859f832f121f90e4ff5.jpeg66599035-5249-49B0-910D-0AEF3FF6E341.thumb.jpeg.e4b652a6a6ccfc3dff9256debee735b3.jpeg


After deciding we’d had enough time at the beach, we walked about a mile back up the main road and found a little place to grab lunch, which was right next door to a Haagen Dasz store that we also took advantage of. After that, we caught the trolley back to our hotel, rested a little and cleaned up, then grabbed dinner. (Outback again, as I’d scored a Dine Rewards discount on our prior visit)

Now we’re packing up for tomorrow, when we will finally be boarding Freedom of the Seas. I have my alarm set for 7 AM so we have plenty of time to shower, grab breakfast, pack up the last of our things, and hail a Lyft to get us to the port around 10:30 or 10:45. We all want as much time as possible on board before the crowds!

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Great pictures!

BTW - That was Serenade in PEV today with Royal Princess.  Source: Me.  I'm on Serenade.  

Serenade is smaller than Navigator by quite a bit.  

Serenade 90,000 GT

Navigator 139,500 GT

Freedom 154,400 GT

Royal Princess 142,000 GT

So yeah, you are getting on Royal's 9th largest ship.  Bridge crews love the Freedom class.  Lots of power and very maneuverable.  Like a sport car in their words (as cruise ships go).

Very much looking forward to your post tomorrow.  Tell your family to capture some of your expressions :) 

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1 hour ago, JLMoran said:

Some of those also confirm I’m no bot. 😉

Umm...I say the glasses need to come off for official confirmation :10_wink:

You and your family look awesome!

Cannot wait for your official "on board" post tomorrow.  Will be thinking of you tomorrow morning Joe!  Have the best time!

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