My husband and I took our first cruise on carnival 10 years ago and said "never again!" But after reviewing the new ships and amenities we decided to take our family, 43, 41, 8, and 6 years on a Caribbean cruise and give cruising another try. The western route is awesome in having 4 ports of call so that we could experience several beaches and islands. We decided to really go all out for a super vacation and booked an Owner's suite. We also arrived one day early so we could spend all day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which was only 40 minutes from the port. We rented a car from the airport which was easy and handy as all the major companies have locations close to the cruise terminals and have courtesy shuttles.
Embarkation was easy and fast and was our first introduction to our "suite" perks. Walking onto the ship is awesome and I actually expected a 6 year old ship to have some age showing but we were all blown away by the size and beauty of Freedom. The ship was clean, big, and gorgeous. The promenade was such an impressive first walk through.
Our suite, the "Rembrandt" was the next big surprise; the size of the private balcony and gorgeous marble bathroom was well worth the price. That balcony was one of our favorite aspects of the trip and my husband even slept on a lounger one night to hear the ocean all night.
Food; another pleasant surprise. All the reviews will have everyone convinced that the food is awful. Honestly, the dining room food and windjammer food is good. As with any restaurants there are selections you will like and dislike. We loved breakfasts most. Our table in the main dining room had an awesome window with ocean view and the service bent over backwards to pamper us.
Our room attendent was extraordinarily friendly and quick. We found the employees to be very friendly and ran into no bad service in our week.
The concierge perks were a large part of our smooth wonderful week with no waiting in lines, no reservations for shows needed, and the awesome free drinks and goodies in the lounge. We will only travel in a suite for any future cruising and we were definitely converted to love cruising.
At Labadee we enjoyed a private cabana and the calm waters; Grand Cayman we did the turtle farm (kids ranked as their favorite thing of the whole week) and stingray swim (grown ups favorite excursion); in Jamaica we had fun but thought the water was rough and not as clear and beautiful as CI's, and of course Cozumel has gorgeous clear water and great snorkeling but is blazingly hot.
We utilized the luggage service and LOVED not having to disembark and go through the airport with our bags. Disembarking was over in 30 seconds once again due to our concierge taking us right to the front of the line. So to conclude, our cruise on Freedom was a huge positive surprise. My husband and I both were so impressed with the ship that the gorgeous part of the world we were visiting nearly took second place. In fairness to Carnival, we have not experienced their new big ships but Royal has a classy, clean, huge, solid feel that we did not expect to be blown away by. We will definitely cruise Royal again.