We are a family of 4 with 2 children. My son was a week shy of 13 and my daughter is 10.5. We left for Orlando from New York on a 1:00pm flight. We arrived at 4:00pm. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International. I chose this hotel primarily because we got a great rate and I liked having dinner options (we had no rental car). We had a runway view room and the hotel had a nice rooftop pool which the kids enjoyed. We ate dinner at Macaroni Grill in the airport. It was nice to arrive early enough so we could relax.
Our car service pick up on Sunday was originally scheduled for 10:00am but arrived at 9:15am. We were at the port around 10:10am. We entered the terminal and proceeded to check in. Security went smoothly as did check in. We were in the waiting area by 10:30am. There were probably around 50 other people there at that point. At 11:00am, the announcement was made we could board. Entered Freedom on Deck 4 and started to explore. The ship was pretty empty at this point so we got some good pictures. Ate lunch in Windjammer then headed to the pool. Cabin ready at 1:30pm. We had a JS on Deck 9 on the starboard side mid-ship. We found the cabin to be awesome. As others have said, the bathroom is quite large and the walk in closet was great. We loved the large balcony and spent a lot of time out there. Our Suite Attendant, Gregory, was great! Luggage was received at 4:00pm. The kids both did the Flowrider and loved it. The instructors were all great. The main dining room was great. We were on My Time Dining and had different times on different days. We requested the same table each night and the waiters were awesome. The Cafe Promenade and Sorrento's were also good choices for late afternoon or late night snacks or to grab a coffee. The ship did not seem crowded except on sea days and the crowds were mainly at the pool. Inside was not crowded.
Labadee Haiti - Beautiful weather but found the vendors pushy. Kids did the Arawak Aqua Park and the Dragon Coaster.
Falmouth Jamaica - Booked the Hilton Rose Resort & Spa through jamaicaforaday.com. It was an all-inclusive day pass for Hilton which included unlimited drinks and meals. The Hilton has a large pools with slides and a lazy river. Beach is small but nice. Great day for all.
Grand Cayman - Captain Bryan's Stingray City Sandbar and Snorkeling booked through Island Marketing. This tour included the amazing stingray sandbar and 2 snorkeling stops at the Barrier Reef and Coral Gardens. The water in Grand Cayman at the sandbar is too beautiful for words and swimming with the stingrays was an unforgettable experience.
Cozumel - Nachi Cocom Beach Break booked through Island Marketing. This was the most relaxing experience. Beautiful beach front, pool, hot tub and swim up bar. The service and food was excellent. The water clear and calm. Unlimited drinks and 4 course meal. Just an amazing, restful day.
The entertainment aboard Freedom was pretty good. We attended Freedom on Ice and loved the show. Very talented skaters. Also attended Marquee which is Freedom's take on Broadway. It was a good show as well. Also saw Now You See It which featured Drew Thomas from America's Got Talent. Cool show and was enjoyed by our entire family.
There are 3 pools areas - the Solarium for adults, the main pool which is 2 pools and several spas and the H2O Zone for kids which was a lot of fun for young and older children (even some adults). The Flowrider was another big hit for our group. The kids loved it. The instructors were very good and helpful. We signed up for private lessons for the kids and my husband and they all had a blast. The lesson was an hour and only 2 other kids were in the private lesson group so it allowed for a lot of personal time and worth the money. My husband and son did boggie boarding and stand up surfing. My daughter was not tall enough for surfing but loved the boggie boarding.
We were in Group 5 with a call time of 7:45am. We left the room by 7:00am and went to the promenade for breakfast. Headed to our meeting location, Arcadia Theater, by 7:30am. They started calling numbers. Our number was called at exactly 7:45am. Breezed through Customs and headed to the terminal for our luggage. Came out fast and we were outside by 7:55am -- only 10 minutes after our number was called. So smooth! We expected craziness but it was so easy. Our car service pickup was 8:30am for a 12:35pm flight. He picked us up by 8:15am and off to Orlando for our flight. One last goodbye to Freedom of the Seas -- our home for the past 8 days.
We absolutely loved this cruise. It was our best vacation yet and worth every penny we paid. We found the service from our room attendant and the main dining room to be impeccable. Our room attendant, Gregory, was amazing. He was such a pleasure and really made us feel comfortable in our home away from home. He was very attentive and helpful. The MTD service was amazing. By day 2 our assistant waiter knew my kids drinks and would automatically bring them. He knew their names. Little things like opening the sugar holder after pouring the coffee. I am sure they are trained this way but it was these touches that made the difference.
I wasn't that impressed with Adventure Ocean and the kids clubs. It may have just been my kids but they really weren't interested. My daughter is 10.5 and was almost too old/mature for her 9-11 age group. My son was a week shy of 13 and not as social as my daughter. They grouped as 12-17 most of the time and he just felt out of place. It was fine. They are old enough to enjoy the shows, the main dining and the ports. They never ordered off of the children's menu. Tried new things every night and just had a great time. Maybe next time when they are both older, but I was fine having them with us. We all had a great time.
The ship was amazing! Although big, we found our way well. It never felt overly crowded with the exception of the pool area on sea days. It was packed! The elevators were slow but we were on Deck 9 so only 2 flights to Deck 11 which worked out great.
I know there is a lot of discussion about dress in the main dining room. I didn't think I would care but after seeing some of the dress, I have to agree. We dressed formal on formal nights. My husband in a suit, me and my daughter in a dress and my son in dress pants, tie and shirt. Casual nights were dockers, polo shirts and dock shoes. By the end of the week, I allowed my son to wear dress shorts and a polo shirt which I felt was fine. We could not believe what some were wearing in the main dining room. Shorts, t-shirts, flip flops, baseball hats -- even on formal night! OK that's all I'm going to say about that.
Fabulous trip and we are booked again for April 2014. We loved Royal Caribbean and will sail with them again.