Thanks for sticking with the review! If you want to read previous entries, you can do that here:
- Pre-Cruise: Traveling to Florida & Port Canaveral
- Day 1: Our First Look at the Freedom of the Seas
- Day 2: Royal Caribbean’s Private Island- Cococay
- Day 3: Dodgeball Tourney, Meet and Mingle, and Salad Envy
- Day 4: St. Thomas, Love and Marriage, and Your Questions Answered
- Day 5: St. Maarten (and my first seasickness experience!) and the Quest
- Day 6: A very sporty and salad filled sea day
- Day 7: Freedom Fest, DreamWorks Parade, and Ice Skating!
First off, this is going to be the crappiest of my cruise blogs because it’s about getting off the boat and coming home. Maybe that’s why I’ve procrastinated writing it so much, huh? Actually I spent last week giving my blog a flashy new banner and background (so if you’re seeing this from a reader, go check it out) and doing 537374324 tickets for work. No lie…
So… getting off the Freedom of the Seas wasn’t fun, but I will have to say that the cruise line made it as painless as possible. All of the breakfast venues were open earlier, but since we couldn’t hold any more food after 7 days on a cruise ship, we opted for granola bars and coffee from the Cafe Promenade. The ship even played cartoons and TV in the debarkation waiting areas. They really tried, but nothing helps the fact that you have to leave the beautiful ship after 7 days.
This is how we felt:
Clay and I did the Express Debark, which means that you take your bags off the ship, and you can get off at around 7:00 AM. We wanted to get back on the road to South Carolina because he had to go to work Sunday night, so the earlier, the better.
Of course, we didn’t leave without a few final pictures of the other ships in port with us that morning… the Disney Dream and Carnival Sensation
Once we got off the ship- which was quick and easy, took about 20 minutes to get down to the gangway, off the ship, through customs, and into the parking lot- we met our trusty shuttle driver Dwayne. After we convinced him that we all ate extra desserts in his honor for a whole week, he took us back to the Country Inn and Suites, where we picked up our car (just as we left it), and hit up the gas station before heading home.
Clay found his favorite thing ever at the gas station… a liter-sized bottle of Diet Mountain Dew!
I got a newspaper, for the coupons of course and for some ride-home reading.
We also stopped at the Florida Citrus Center and Dairy Queen on the way back. Gotta love cheesy souvenirs and delicious soft serve all in one place, right?
After driving for what seemed like forever to get out of Florida, with only a few short bathroom stops, we stopped in the town of Ridgeland for lunch. Now, Ridgeland is a little po-dunk town off I-95. Obviously we are in the south and it’s Sunday. We wanted to eat at a pizza place and soon discovered that everything in this town is closed on Sunday- seriously, the hours of the pizza place said “Sunday: Go to Church”. Not “Sunday: Closed”- but specifically telling us to go to church (nevermind the fact 99% of churchgoers eat out after church…).
Since it was closed, we drove down the road to a Mexican restaurant– or what I *thought* was a Mexican restaurant. It turned out to be a Mexican store, with only one person (I’m assuming the owner’s son) who spoke English. We were hungry and there, so why not?
The authentic Mexican food was really great! It was totally different than the Mexican food I’ve had, which has always been more tomato based. We both got quesadillas (chicken for Clay and vegetable for me), and my vegetable quesadilla was almost like a Mexican version of a pot pie, it was that good. Sure, the lunch wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was neat to try something new in a new place.
After about two more hours of driving, we were home- our honeymoon officially coming to an end. It was a great trip- with tons of fun and good times.
Aside from the 3 minutes I spent hanging over the side of the Random Wind, I truly enjoyed every bit of our honeymoon. Here are some final thoughts on our first cruise, looking back one month later.
Drive: B+. The drive is a tough one, but we were pleasantly surprised at how quickly we got to Port Canaveral (the drive home took a little longer). If you live in South Carolina, it’s definitely a port worth driving to and has the best selection of cruise lines and ships without having to fly. Yes, you can cruise out of Charleston. It’s a shorter drive, but there’s only one cruise ship that docks at that port on a regular basis, and it only goes to the Bahamas. We don’t want to do that again for awhile :).
Hotel (Country Inn and Suites, Port Canaveral): A+. We couldn’t have stayed at a better hotel the night before our cruise. With the park and cruise special, we saved money staying here instead of driving to the port and paying. Plus, there were several great restaurants within walking distance, the room was clean, and the breakfast was good. I would definitely stay at this hotel again.
Ship Stateroom: B. The rooms on Carnival’s ships are definitely bigger, especially the bathrooms and showers. Our room wasn’t horrible, but we definitely had to keep things straightened up or else it would’ve seemed even smaller. Also, on Deck 2, not all rooms are accessible from all stairwells, and that really confused us a few times. We actually had to go to Deck 4, walk across the ship to the other stairwell, then go to our room once. However, I will say our room was very clean the entire duration of the cruise thanks to our stateroom attendant, and I can’t complain too much about a room that’s cleaned for me twice a day. I really, really should’ve tried to smuggle that lady off…
Ship Dining: A. I only had one or two dishes that I didn’t like, and with cruises, you can easily order something else and have them bring it to you! Nothing will please every taste, of course, but there were tons of dining options so surely you could find something! I loved how the menu had Indian food each night, and of course I loved the salad bar in the dining room.
Ship Service/Employees: A. Everyone on the ship was super nice! Graham Seymour, our cruise director, was a hoot. Our wait staff and bar waiter were super nice, and even though they were busy, they still kept us happy with food and drinks!
Ports: A. I loved all of the ports where we stopped. Cococay, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten all had lots to do, and we had great weather each day. I liked having 3 sea days on the ship, too.
Ship Entertainment and Activities: A+. The Freedom of the Seas had so much to do! On previous cruises (with Carnival), I spent lots of time just laying out at the pool, and on this cruise, I hardly laid out at all. I came home pasty, but I stayed busy going to shows, backstage tours, and hanging out on the Promenade Deck, just people watching. Not everyone likes to lay out in the sun or even be outside a lot, and the ship always had something going on for you to go to. In fact, there was so much going on, we even missed out on a few things we wanted to do, like the cruise director’s adult comedy show. Oh well… maybe next cruise :).
Speaking of the next cruise, both Clay and I agreed that we would love to cruise on the Freedom of the Seas again and definitely on Royal Caribbean.
We paid more money for this cruise, but we feel like we got our money’s worth. It’s pretty evident that we didn’t want to get off the ship on the last day of the cruise, and that really says a lot (after my last cruise on the Carnival Fantasy, I was more than ready to see Charleston, SC). We haven’t booked another cruise yet, but can’t wait to!
Thanks to all of you who’ve been reading faithfully, and if you have any questions, just ask away!