Goodbye, Cruise: Day 7…and 8

It’s been two months since we were sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, so I think it’s finally time to wrap up these cruise posts with a re-cap of our last day(s).

Day 7 was an “At Sea” day, and it was the day I recognized that our wonderful vacation was really coming to an end. Day 8 was a wait for your number to be called to exit the ship morning following by drive home day. The saddest day, for sure. So let’s start with Day 7!

In the morning, instead of a leisurely breakfast in the dining room or even platters of free room service, we elected to eat granola bars in our room. Why? Because we wanted to take Bret’s camera for a photo tour of the ship before everyone else was awake! My sister recommended doing this one morning while the whole ship was clean, free of crowds, and virtually untouched. What a great idea.

I’m so glad we got these pictures…

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Check out the swim-up pool bar under the bridge!

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This wine bar was great. I don’t know why it wasn’t more popular, but Bret and I were the only ones in there when we went one night for the wine tasting.

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Can you spot Shrek and his friends? Look UP!

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These light changed colors constantly. I may have stood on the bridge and made Bret wait until they turned purple to take the picture. Purple and gold! Go Dukes!

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Unlimited free coffee, tea, and bakery items available 24/7. I want to take a cruise with my sister because I feel like we would stay up talking here until, well, forever.

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This is the karaoke spot 🙂

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Art.

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That’s the staircase where we got our professional photo taken after dinner.

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This perspective is a little dizzy-ing… but it wasn’t in person.

After we’d snapped enough photos to feel satisfied, we claimed some chairs by the pool where we read and relaxed for a few hours. It was a sweet, simple way to savor some of our last vacation hours. I love that there were quiet, adults only pool sections; bright and sunny poolside sections; and cool, shade-covered comfy chair sections to choose from. It was nice to be able to read tucked away from the super fun (but super loud) H20 zone:

IMG_1974Then it was time for our last lunch on-board. On our way to lunch, we took a snacks and pizza detour all through the promenade. I mean, why not? And then we went up to the windjammer buffet for lunch. After our 7th and LAST lunch on-board, we were feeling sentimental, so we moseyed over to the photo studio, looked at our professional pictures, and decided to buy a couple of them:

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We dropped the pictures off in the room, and then went back to the promenade for an event aptly named, FreedomFest! I watched a towel folding demonstration and picked up a a packet of instructions so I can learn how to be a towel-folding expert for my Florida guests. There was food everywhere (we were full, though) and mixed drinks for sale. It was buzzing just like the 70s party from the night before that I think I forgot to blog about… ah, well. Oh, and there was an ice sculpture for FreedomFest.

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We sat in lounge chairs on level 4 and just watched the ocean. I remember thinking, I will miss this.

We needed to break a $100 bill so we could tip our servers and room keeper, so, naturally, we went to the casino! I put in a $100, I won $5, and we cashed out at $105. Just like that! We got our $100 back in $20s, $10s, and $5s, …and then gambled the free $5 away. I couldn’t resist!

With gambling on the brain, we thought about trying to win a free cruise vacation via bingo, but left when we realized the bingo cards started at $22 a piece – what?! So we went back up to the pool deck and watched the volleyball tournament instead. It was a crew vs. guests game! Any guest could sign up to be on one of the 6 teams. The crew won all 6 rounds but then EVERYONE from those 6 teams got in the pool for an ultimate game and the guests won one final game.

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We went to the pool bar and ordered a couple drinks. We walked around and snapped a few pictures of the pool. We had no agenda. I just kept thinking… we are really, really going to miss this place! We had our last dinner in the dining room. I had vegetarian “chickn” and rice (bleh – veggie meals were not the ship’s specialty) and Bret had seafood and mash. I had key lime pie for desert which was delish!

After dinner, we watched the 7:00pm Farewell Show which was impressive. There were acrobats! And comedy – a good mix to counteract the sad goodbye. They talked about what perfect weather we’d had all week. Ah, I feel sad just thinking about it!

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On our way back to our room we grabbed a cupcake to go, and finished packing. I spilled chocolate all over our travel paperwork. It was fine. Oh, speaking of paperwork, obviously, Bret picked up the materials to join the frequent cruising club loyalty program.

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We’re members.

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Then, for some reason I’ll never think of pleasantly, we decided to go to Johnny Rockets for a slice of apple pie.

Remember how you pay one flat rate of $6 no matter what you order? Well our server insisted that we needed more than a slice of apple pie. This guy brought us French fries, onion rings, a tuna melt (me) a burger (Bret), TWO milkshakes and then yes finally a slice of apple pie…with ice cream. I was so incredibly full that I didn’t even want the apple pie so I asked if we could get it “to go” instead. He said that he had already prepared the apple pie on the plate, but he would also make us one to go. I said no, but it was too late. After we struggled to eat most of that apple pie, our server brought us a huge to-go bag with more apple pie… and more ice cream to go, and my leftover tuna melt, fries and onion rings, too… it was way too much!

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I may be smiling, but I felt sick from over-eating.

Gross.

We walked around the promenade after a short recovery in the room. I was planning to grab a nightcap drink from the Champagne Bar, but I felt way too awful from Johnny Rockets. Next time, then.

The weirdest thing was before we went to bed was standing out on our balcony and seeing the coast. After a week of seeing endless ocean, we were almost home, and we did not like it.

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The night before we left our suitcases out in the hall to be picked up.

When we woke up, we were pulled back up next to that Disney Dream where we started our vacation 7 days ago. It was too sad.

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In the morning, they served breakfast, which was great. We went to the windjammer and then picked up our little carry-on bags from the room and headed over to our waiting area for our number to be called.

Goodbye, room.

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Goodbye, weird little bathroom.

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The interactive touch screen board that usually listed all the fun activities just had everyone’s departure time. It was so sad.

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Really, really sad.

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Looking back, my favorite memories are the simple ones: lounging on Deck 4 and listening to the waves, eating lunch and dinner overlooking the water, and sitting out on our balcony together. My most exciting memories are swimming with the stingrays and making salsa in Cozumel. I also loved the Love and Marriage game show on the ship, and watching the Ice Show. All of the shows were great.

If I could do it again, I’d climb the rock wall or the wave rider or something more adventurous. One of the new ships, Oasis of the Seas, has a skydiving simulator! I loved the pool. I loved being able to walk off the ship and be in a brand new place even though I felt most comfortable in Labadee and Grand Cayman. I loved being able to walk back to our room whenever I needed a break. I loved the Champagne Bar and the coffee & pastries being available 24/7. I loved not having access to my phone even though I was obviously having withdrawls because I dreamt about blogging and emailing.

When first planning this vacation, we weren’t even considering a cruise. It just ended up being so much more economical than paying for transportation, hotel, activities, and food anywhere else. Even though it’s been 2 months since the cruise, not a day goes by where Bret doesn’t talk about how much he misses it. Hopefully we’ll be planning another one in the near-ish future.

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