em·bar·ka·tion Pronunciation[em-bahr-key-shuhn] –noun the act, process, or an instance of embarking.
em·bark (ìm-bärk') v. em·barked, em·bark·ing, em·barks
To cause to board a vessel or aircraft: stopped to embark passengers.
To go aboard a vessel or aircraft, as at the start of a journey. To set out on a venture; commence: embark on a world tour.
Embarkation day turned out to be one of our best ever. Our American flight left Columbus, Ohio on time around 7:30 and we arrived at MIA at 9:50am. We made the 10 minute walk to the baggage claim to find that our 3 bags were the first out of the chute. Quickly, we were in the taxi on our way to the ship. This was our third cruise out of Miami. The taxi always takes the same route and each time I look forward to making the turn by American Airlines Arena and as you go up the bridge you can see the ships for the first time. However, with Freedom docked at the first berth you can see her from the Arena!
After paying $24 for the taxi, up $7 from last year, we were at the pier. With gas prices way up, I expected to pay more. We were quickly directed to the proper entrance and within 10 minutes we were checked in and had our Seapass cards. We were then given a card that says GROUP4 and send to a holding area. It was there I met the first of many cruise critic members. Cruising Granny introduced her self. From her we learned that the crew was still trying to locate 2 passengers from the previous cruise before we could board. In the next few minutes we met Peg (Jhealy) and Prudy (Prudon) .
Things continued to go well and we were on the ship around 11:50am. We went straight to Chops and made reservations for Friday night (our anniversary) There was no line for reservations and from what I heard reservations for both Chops and Portofino’s were readily available all week.
From there we did our usual Windjammer lunch. We managed to find a seat easily at this point. The place was bright and clean with an attentive staff so drinks were easy to come by. We did the basic fare at lunch and later checked out Jade and the Carving station. The food was what you expect from Windjammer and the staff was excellent.
After exploring the pool deck, we went to the dining room. We found our table #325 to be a table for 4 at the front center of deck 3. Later at sail away, others told us the numbers weren’t on the tables when they checked. By this time we were able to get to our rooms. We were in 9342, which is a center hump D1 on the starboard side.
We flew out the day before the cruise just in case anything went wrong. I will never forget how I felt when we went over the bridge and I saw the Freedom for the first time. It was like being a kid again. I had butterflies in my stomach, I guess from all the excitement.
We chose to fly out of Detroit on the morning of the cruise. We did not anticipate bad weather since it was Spring and Northwest offered an early flight to Ft. Lauderdale which avoided the massive Miami airport. Ft. Lauderdale is a much smaller venue and it is only 40 minutes from the port. RCL offers airport to pier transfers from here by bus if you sign up when you book your cruise. Their representatives meet you right in the baggage claim area. With American's missing bags rating quite high, this was a great opportunity for us to arrive with all our "cruise wear".
We decided to fly into Orlando instead of the usual airports others were choosing. We got a great deal on Price line for $158 round trip for each of us and the rental car for only $105. We flew into Orlando the day before and headed out on our adventure. We had hotel reservations for Port St. Lucie, which is about 2 hours from Miami. This is a lovely city and I recommend the drive, very nice a leisure drive. Hey we were on vacation. We had plenty of time and the ship doesn't leave until 5pm. We found our way easily as we had planned the drive on our laptop. The drive over the bridge was amazing with all the ships there and the Freedom being the biggest and most beautiful of all. We had decided to use the port parking and leave the car there for the 7 days. This was going to cost us $140 for the week, but we found that this was the best deal and most conveint for us. It was around 1:30 and we spent about 30 minutes going through security and check in. As we were getting on later then most, we were able to go right to our cabin as it was ready for us. We had cabin 8640 on the hump, by the elevators and stairs. We only heard noise once the whole trip when a group decided to stop and discuss their evening in front of our door.
I was traveling with my husband, Jim. This was our 9th Royal Caribbean cruise. We live in CT, flew out of White Plains Airport the day before the cruise. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale as we preferred the time of the flights, got better airfare, and prefer to use White Plains Airport whenever possible due to the proximity to our home. We flew Air Tran. The flight down was uneventful: smooth, and on time. We stayed at a Super Eight Motel in Dania. We have stayed there before. It offers a basic room, clean enough, friendly staff. We had dinner that night at a restaurant we have eaten at before as well, called Lorenzo’s. This restaurant was within walking distance from the Super 8. Both the restaurant and the motel are located on South Federal Highway. Super Eight offers complementary shuttle service from the airport to the motel, and from to the motel to the Ft. Lauderdale port (or back to the airport.). They also have a continental breakfast. We took the shuttle on Sunday morning to the airport, as cab rates from where we were to the Miami port were approximately $70.00per couple. By going (by complementary shuttle) to the airport, we were able to quickly pick up a shuttle to the Miami port for $18.00 per person. The shuttle was called “Go Shuttle.” It was about 15 minutes to the airport, and about 35 minutes to the port. We were ready to start our cruise vacation. We were at the port by around 10:45 a.m. We quickly entered the lobby, went through security, checked in, received our Day One compass and maps, and were sent to an area to wait to board. We did have priority boarding as we were platinum members. We were able to get on board by about 11:30. . We had been on this ship before, so were somewhat familiar with the layout. We went to pick up a soda card as well as a wine package, and went to the dining room to check the location of our table. We then went to the Windjammer and enjoyed our first meal on this cruise. This is where I was first introduced to Bill and his lovely wife Gina, OP of our thread, who I immediately recognized from the pictures Bill had posted.
Bill and Gina (Thanks Peg)