Pat and I have returned alive from our week long cruise on the Freedom of the Seas.  We dropped Andra and Sean off at the airport this morning and are staying tonight at an Airport hotel.  Early flight in the morning and should be home tomorrow night.

We had three good days at Walt Disney World prior to the cruise.  Well actually 2 good days and a wet Saturday.  A storm was rolling in from the Atlantic and we were part of it.  Spent Saturday in ponchos but still had a good time.  Could not believe all the people still in the park crazy like us but Andra had paid for the day so we went.

Sunday we rented a car and squeezed the four of us and our baggage in and drove the one hour to Port Canaveral.  Overcast and rainy with lots of wind.  Port Canaveral is nothing more than a pier sticking out into the Atlantic just south of Kennedy Space Centre so no protection from the wind. Home to several cruise lines including Disney

Apparently our captain made the decision to head out to sea (the other two cruise liners in the port decided to delay until the next morning)  Not a nice day to head out.  Only spent about 30 seconds on our balcony due to the Ugly seas and heavy rain.

We had the early 6pm dinner reservation and as we were dining we could look out the window and I remarked that we seemed to be rolling a lot for a 160,000 ton liner.  During the meal waiters started dropping trays of dishes (initially it seemed humourous but then it got weird)  Looking out the window we could see waves crashing on the side and over the windows (and we were at the 4th deck level 40 feet above the waterline)   Pat and I left the dining room quickly and initially went to grab a table at the Schooner bar.

The ship really started to toss and the bar became mayhem with bottles flying off the shelves and glasses sliding up and down the bar.  We got up to go to our cabin on the 9th deck to find that the elevators had gone into emergency shutdown.  Water was pouring down in the centre of the circular staircase and the crew were telling us to get to our cabin.  Some people were starting to get really panicky

The ship took a major list to one side and then stayed there.  It had to be at least a 15 degree list.  Pat and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and staggered up the stairs to our deck.  Walking down the hall to our cabin we saw water pouring out from under cabin doors into the hall.  Immediately when we got into our cabin I grabbed all the towels and put them up against the bottom of the patio door that led to our balcony.  We asked for more towels from our room attendant and piled them on.  This action saved our room.

Looking out on our balcony there was 6 inches of water sloshing back and forth mostly against our door because of the 15 degree list that lasted for at least 20 minutes.  The drapes were hanging at this angle away from the wall.  The patio doors did very little to hold back the water (leaky doors on a $billion boat go figure)

Our neighbours did not take the steps we did and when I checked in the hall to see what was happening water was freely running out from most of the cabin doors and sloshing in the hall (remember all carpeted)  Eventually the captain managed to turn the ship into the wind and the list went away but we were still rolling heavily.  Later we found out that we went into a storm with hurricane level winds (over 85 mph) and with the huge sides of the liner that was why the list and the inability to make the turn.  With the wind the ship could only make about 7 knots so the stabilizers would not work.  Rolling from side to side and up and down like a rubber ducky

Still kind of scary (I was thinking of Poseidon Adventure)  I phoned Andra in their room on the second deck wondering if they wanted to come up to our cabin.  They did not have a balcony so did not have the leakage problem.  Andra had also thought of the Poseidon and said “are you crazy? come down to our deck”

Eventually we laid down on the bed but it was tough relaxing.  Announcements kept coming on telling everyone to get in their cabins.  The bars and restaurants all closed down (sucks to half the passengers that had the 8:30 sitting for dinner)  We later heard from others that the promenade deck where all the stores are located was a disaster with shelves falling and carts flying around.  The liquor store was particularly hit with the floor coverd with smashed bottles.

By 10:30pm things started to calm down a bit, and the Captain annouced that those that needed food could get some things on the 5th deck.  We eventually went to sleep although the ship was tossing and rolling,  and the announcements kept going on until 1 am (I did not figure out how to turn off the cabin announcement speakers until the next day)

In the morning the wind was gone and the sky started to clear.  I cleared up the mound of sloppy towels and dropped them  in the shower.  Good news we had a dry cabin which was rare.  Breakfast was interesting with everyone sharing their disaster stories.  Sun came out and we spent the day on deck (where Pat and I progressed to get third degree sunburns, I will never learn)  The crew had spent all night cleaning up and throughout the day they were sucking up water from carpets.  By Monday afternoon all the bars, stores and restaurants were open but there was still lots of evidence of water damage on the carpeting.

The rest of the week was typical, hot sunny cruising with visits to St Thomas and Saint Maartens.  Good news was that Royal Carribean immediately announced that they were giving us a $300 credit to our on-board account (to partially cover the booze bill) and later those of us on the flood decks were told we will get back half the cost of the cruise (only as a credit against a future trip but still $2000)  .  Not bad considering we actually did not suffer much.  Pat had been a little quesy during the storm but never sick (thanks to the bands on her wrists) .  Lots of other passengers were very sick no wonder given the rolling.  One poor old guy had a heart attack and the next morning we had to meet with a plane to evacuate him.

I figure the damage (dishes, glasses and thousands of bottles but mostly carpeting) and credits to passengers must have cost the cruise line millions.  They were replacing carpets from some halls and cabins all week long and when we arrived at the port there were truckloads of more carpets being delivered on board by 5 am.

I wonder if the Captain will keep his job since the other 2 cruise liners that stayed in port for the night sustained no damage (we later docked with one of them in St Thomas)

Still we ended up with one great adventure, something that everyone on board talked about all week long, six great cruising days  and we get a big credit.  Not bad