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'Freedom' to Be You and Me?

July 6, 2006 By:
Gloria Hayes Kremer, JE Feature
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Sorry, Mary -- you've been eclipsed.

Cruise-lovers, get ready for the world's largest oceanliner ever --Royal Carribean's Freedom of the Seas -- less than two years after the longitudinally awesome Queen Mary II debuted and claimed that title.

This innovative ship introduced in New York dazzles observers with its new engineering marvels of industry-first attractions. In the last few years, Royal Caribbean stunned the industry with its wide range of features, such as rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, a Royal Promenade boulevard brimming with entertainment, boutiques and more.

What could be next?

How about a shipboard FlowRider surf park? The first surf park at sea! How about cantilevered whirlpools suspended 112 feet above the ocean?

Or try a full-size boxing ring?

Boasting a width of 185 feet, the mammoth ship is actually wider than the White House. Its length, 168 feet, when measured from the waterline to top of the funnel, towers 208 feet tall, approximately the same height as two Statue of Liberty monuments.

One of the most popular areas Royal Caribbean initiated in recent years is the Royal Promenade, a 445-foot-long shopping, dining and entertainment boulevard that spans the length of an entire football field. It's the scene of nightly street parades put on by the staff; a descending bridge amid a fanfare of music, lasers and lights; and delightful fun from morning till night.

The first on-board surf park is a 32-foot-wide by 40-foot-long FlowRider, which generates a thin sheet of water that flows over the ride surface creating a wave-like shape.

Similar to swimming against a current in a stationary lap pool, riders surf or body-board against a wave like waterflow of 34,000 gallons per minute, carving turns and trying tricks.

No doubt, some adventurous guests will try their hand (and legs) at stand-up surfing, known as flowboarding, or opt for less balance-demanding body boarding.

Another new feature is an adults-only Solarium, with two cantilevered whirlpools extending 12 feet past the sides of the ship, offering breathtaking, panoramic views. Guests can also immerse themselves in an experience that finds music piped in underwater.

Now, where is Esther Williams when we need her?

Endless water sports are inventive -- from pool volleyball and basketball to floating golf and pole jousting.

For youngsters, a water playground features a shallow pool as well as a circular pool, wading areas and a waterfall cascading from an overhanging bridge.

In the sports pool, guests and spectators will be equally entertained when teams try their dexterity at water-ballet choreography in amateur synchronized swimming competitions. At night, the main pool area is transformed into an open-air nightclub with a large dance floor situated between two pools.

Passengers can also find a 3,600-volume Book Nook for relaxed reading; an Italian-style pizzeria; an On-Air Club -- a karaoke venue; and a recording studio where guests can sing their hearts out.

Food and Drink
Two new sipping spots will also appeal to passengers: Squeeze, a refreshing juice bar near the H20 Zone for health-conscious cruisers; and the Wipe Out! bar, a free-standing shack near the FlowRider surf park featuring wine, beer and fruity drinks in a casual setting.

And, of course, for the 3,634 passengers on board, there is food, glorious food -- from Freedom's elegant main dining room to specialty restaurants like Portofino with Italian cuisine; Jade with flavorful southeast Asian fare; Johnny Rockets, a 1950s-style diner; and Windjammer Cafe, with sumptuous buffets.

Now, back to the very basics: Everyone into the pool!

For more information, call 1-800-327-6700 or visit: www. royalcaribbean.com.


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