It was pure heaven, filled my heart, filled my soul! I’ve been back on the ocean, people!
Last week I boarded Freedom of the Seas on a short itinerary from Miami. I needed to be where my heart is, on the ocean. I needed to be reminded of the amazement, peacefulness, excitement and fellowship amongst passengers who sail the oceans. My heart was full.
A lot of people want to know what it was like to be on a cruise ship during a pandemic. It was nothing short of what I expected.
My husband and I arrived at the cruise terminal at about 2:00 in the afternoon on Friday. No lines, no waiting, we walked up to a Royal Caribbean representative who scanned our boarding pass, checked our vaccination cards and negative Covid test results, took our temperatures, asked if there were any changes to our answers on the Health Questionnaire and sent us to the next station. Upstairs they scanned our boarding pass again and sent on through security. Next stop, the ship. Walking up the gangway, I felt my heart starting to pound of my chest. We Made It!! We’re Here!! I’M IN MY HAPPY PLACE!!
We stepped on board to applause from crew members who were so happy to welcome us! We were then directed to our muster station to check in. We had already completed the Emergency Briefing on the Royal Caribbean app so from there we went straight to the Windjammer for lunch. We were sitting down eating by 2:30. Don’t forget, we had just arrived at the cruise terminal at 2:00.
The picture you see above is what I saw through tear-filled eyes as soon as I walked through the automated door. The Promenade Deck. Normally bustling with thousands of cruisers anxious to explore the ship, the Promenade was nearly empty. Under normal sailing conditions, Freedom of the Seas is home to 3926 to 4635 guests each sailing. Our sailing had less than 1300 guests. It was like we were on our own super yacht and had invited 1000 of our closest friends to sail with us.
The rest of the weekend was magical. Yes, we had to wear a mask while indoors, but Royal Caribbean had so many venues for vaccinated guests only that we were able to take our mask off while in those venues, including the Main Dining Room on a separate deck for vaccinated guests only. In our opinion, it was a small price to pay to be able to sail again, to feel the ocean breeze up on deck, to be pampered and catered to by Freedom’s fantastic crew.
Freedom of the Seas was Royally Amped, meaning she was refurbished and updated, right before the No Sail Order. It was almost like being on a brand-new ship. We sailed on Freedom in April 2019 before her Royal Amplification, so we spent some time walking around pointing out new details, including the new elevator buttons that are now a computer screen, 2 rows of hand washing basins as you walk into the Windjammer, new carpet throughout and so much more.
If you are an avid cruiser and you have been having withdrawals, as I had been, now is the time to cruise. With reduced capacity sailings, we never waited for an elevator, disembarking at Perfect Day at CocoCay took seconds, and there was never a search for an empty deck chair. Even the seas welcomed us back by remaining calm and smooth.
It was over too quickly for my liking. I would have stayed onboard for another month if they had let me. Before we knew it we were back in Miami and heading home. We’ll be back on the ocean soon. I hope you will too.
Live life. Embrace change. Go sail.
~ Lisa Collins