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~Andrea~'s RCCL Freedom of the Seas & Shaw Park Wedding Review w/PICS


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Because we had a cruise wedding I wasnâ€t exactly sure how to do the review. So, I thought I would just throw it all together in hopes a piece of it might help someone in the future. Here it goes!


Delta Airlines – A+

I have nothing but great things to say about flying Delta! Our flights were all on time, luggage accounted for, friendly staff, and extremely willing to accommodate my wedding dress and DHâ€s suit hanging in their closet. And I loved the airplanes on the way home because they had little televisions on the back of each seat!


Quality Limo Service (Florida) – A-

They were super nice and easy to work with. The only reason I gave them the minus is we had to wait for them to pick us up when we arrived in Fort Lauderdale. We had a group of 9 and they also squeezed in 2 other random people that had a late flight. We had to circle the airport several times which was slightly annoying because we were excited to get to the hotel! But, for the price and good customer service it really wasnâ€t a huge deal. Hereâ€s their website: Miami & Fort Lauderdale Tours


Deauville Beach Resort Miami – A

This hotel is old and you have to make sure you have a renovated room on the higher floors. The beds in our room were just so-so on comfort. We only stayed here one night before our cruise. I think this hotel is a steal for the Miami Beach area. They are on the ocean and only a 5 minute ride to South Beach. They also have a few nice bar/lounge areas, amazing views, gorgeous private beach, and a HUGE lobby/waiting area. There are a few restaurants and shops within walking distance. Resort Hotel located in Miami Beach, Florida: Deauville Beach Resort, Oceanfront Hotel


Royal Caribbean (RCCL) Freedom of the Seas – A+


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This ship is amazing! My friend took this picture and it totally looks like a postcard! We had such a great time and our guests kept thanking us for choosing a ship with so many activities. Because the ship is so large you have to be prepared to deal with crowds. The only time it felt too crowded was at the Windjammer Café during breakfast and lunch. This is the second cruise line I have sailed with and RCCL stands out by far for food, activities, and customer service. Everyone working on this ship went above and beyond each and every time you saw them. It blows my mind how they stay so positive working those long hours and being away from home!


Port of Labadee, Haiti: Very relaxing port as there really isnâ€t much to do besides lounge on the beach and swim! They set up a BBQ lunch for everyone thatâ€s pretty good. Take time to shop at the market to help support the locals who desperately need it. That was the toughest part about this port as there is a lot of poverty and hoping our visit is somehow helping them. We had one local tell us he was starving and asked if we would sneak him a plate of food, which we did.


Port of Ocho Rios, Jamaica: This was our wedding stop! Because of our wedding we didnâ€t get to explore the island. And unfortunately the weather didnâ€t cooperate so we didnâ€t get to see as much as we wanted to because we had to stay indoors. I would love to go back and experience this beautiful country in a different way!


Port of George Town, Grand Cayman: Unfortunately we missed this port due to high winds. I was really looking forward to laying my married butt on the beach! Oh well, just an excuse to plan another cruise!


Port of Cozumel, Mexico: Because we missed Grand Cayman the day before, the captain got us to Cozumel a few hours early. I never would have guessed weâ€d spend the entire day off the ship but we did! Cozumel is such a fun place! We took a taxi to the main shopping area and walked around. After about an hour we decided to rent scooters and it was a blast! I have to admit almost peeing my pants a few times but got used to it as the day progressed and also had a very patient husband dealing with his chicken sh*t wife! I highly recommend getting your own form of transportation (whether you rent a scooter or jeep) as itâ€s inexpensive and you have complete freedom that you wouldnâ€t have if you booked an excursion. We shopped, saw the Mayan Ruins, ate lunch at a great local place called Ponchos, went to Paradise Beach, swam, and snorkeled! We did the equivalent of 3 excursions in one day! It cost us $20/person to rent the scooters for the entire day! Hereâ€s a pic of us on the scooters…and yes we totally look like Dumb and Dumber! This is one of my favorite pictures!


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Things I recommend on Freedom of the Seas: Try lunch in the main dining room because of the delicious salad bar, spend time at Olive or Twist for a great atmosphere, excellent music and a great view, get to the port around 11 a.m. (even if they say to arrive later) because you get on board early and easily and beat the crowds, donâ€t worry about bringing a beach towel as they have plenty, book your salon appointments on day 1, try a sandwich or salad at the coffee shop on the Promenade Deck (itâ€s all free!), check out the Promenade Deck before dinner as they sometimes have fun things going on and give out free drinks, and get in the cantilevered hot tubs at least once.


RCCL Freedom of the Seas Salon and Spa – A++++

I wish I knew the name of the guy who did my wedding day hair and makeup! I feel terrible that I donâ€t remember. He was from the Philippines and owned his own salon that specializes in wedding day hair/makeup. He decided to try out working on a cruise ship as a way to see the world. How lucky did I get?!?!?! He was amazing! I was nervous to have someone do my makeup (Iâ€m sure weâ€ve all had those makeup trials gone WAY wrong at some point) but it turned out better than I could have ever hoped for! If you happen to be sailing Freedom definitely feel good about using their salon on your wedding day!


RCCL Group Function – 1 hour Cocktail/Appetizer Reception w/Piano Player – B-

Our reception was held in the Cloud Nine Lounge which has excellent windows for looking out at the ocean. All we really had to do was show up which was great. But, somehow they messed up the counts and only set us up for 20 people when we paid for 27. We were short chairs, tables, food, and had one busy beverage server. That was kind of a bummer. Especially because we only had 1 hour and it took them a while to sort it out for us. I will say the beverage server gave us last round of drinks well after our hour was up so that made me feel better about the mix-ups. We paid to upgrade to level 3 for the appetizers. They honestly werenâ€t that great and it didnâ€t seem like they were upgraded choices. The piano player did a nice job but in retrospect I might have rather asked for a CD player and picked our own music to play just to personalize the music more.


Shaw Park Beach Hotel – A+

From the minute I started working with Sheryl at Shaw Park Beach Hotel I felt confident our day would turn out wonderfully. Sheryl was nothing but helpful, efficient, thoughtful, and simply amazing! She was always quick to answer my zillions of questions and never made me feel bad for asking so many. All of our requests were met exactly as we had asked.


What truly showed us how amazing she is, is how she handled the unexpected “bumps†on our wedding day. We arrived at the hotel and it had been drizzling all morning with complete cloud cover and wind. Because of the rain, and more on the way, she set up tents over the guests chairs near the beach gazebo. We werenâ€t charged any extra for the use of the tents. We were taken to our adjoining rooms and they were spacious enough for us to get ready in with our families. Sheryl had an extremely busy day ahead of her because of the rain and wind. They had to clean up the gazebo area of debris, protect all of the flowers, chairs/covers, decorations, etc. Iâ€m not sure who she hired to take care of our flowers but they were all gorgeous. Especially my bouquet! I just loved it! And our cake was delicious but again not sure where it came from. After everything was cleaned up and ready to go, groom standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me, there was one thing wrong…our minister was missing! I couldnâ€t believe it. After attempting to find him with no luck, Sheryl called around and found a replacement and his name was Rev. Garland Black. Rev. Black was a complete blessing! He gave the most beautiful ceremony and added a special palm blessing for us. Our guests couldnâ€t say enough about how impressive he was. Especially jumping in at the last minute! I would recommend him in a heartbeat for anyone getting married in Ocho Rios. Because of the missing minister and newly found minister everything was pushed back 30-45 minutes. During the time we were waiting for him to arrive the rain had stopped and thankfully it stayed that way for our ceremony! About 3 minutes after our ceremony ended the rain came pouring down. Staff at Shaw Park did everything they could to make our wedding a positive experience despite the bad weather. And did they ever have the challenges! They accommodated our champagne and cake reception in a nearby sheltered area. Not exactly what I was hoping for on my wedding day but we made the most of it. Our photographer was a part of our wedding package and her name is Trudy Morrison. She was a very nice person, professional, and willing to stand in the rain to help us get the beach pictures we wanted. We hired Lee Reid to be our videographer. He was super nice and also willing to stand in the rain for the DVD recording. Because of the rain our DVD is pretty short and sweet. Itâ€s kind of funny because a caption rolls across that says “reception†and you see about 2 minutes of the same thing and itâ€s over. Oh well, not much you can do when you are battling Mother Nature! Everyone else at the hotel was so friendly and helpful! I would highly recommend working with Sheryl and the rest of the staff at Shaw Park as a wedding location for your cruise wedding.


Overall we had a fabulous time and tried to make the most of the bumps in our road to wedded bliss! I know that part of planning a cruise wedding is taking the risk the ship wonâ€t be able to get into port or possibly will have to change itineraries at the last moment. Because of this we feel very fortunate to have been able to have our special day and come back married! If anyone has questions please feel free to ask!


Here are a few pics (because I know better than to leave them out :)!)


This will give you an idea of the weather we had! Blah!

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Ceremony setup

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Close-up of the gazebo

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Dad walking me down the aisle

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Taking our vows

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Poem written for us by my aunt and read to us during the ceremony – LOVED it!

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You may kiss the bride!

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Posing for a pic

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Getting a quick beach shot before we rushed back to the ship

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My mom surprised me with these adorable personalized M&Ms for the reception!

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