My husband, 13 year old son and I decided to do the Western Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas again because we enjoyed it two years ago. However, I found there are somethings that have changed since then.
We drove to the port and parked in the parking garage. Although 15.00 a day does seem high, we prefer being able to get into our car without waiting for a shuttle and begin to head home. There are other facilities around that charge less that offer a shuttle if you wish to go that route.
On the plus side - checking in on line does make embarktion much easier and quicker. I booked all my excursions on line as well. We were on the ship by 12:00 and lunch was available in the Windjammer. Our room wasn't ready till 1:00. Our room which had a balcony was nice and appeared clean. Since the ship is now 6 years old, there are some signs of wear such as chipping in areas of the bathroom.
We have always been satisfied with the food in the Windjammer as well as the dining room. There is enough variety of things available. We found the Windjammer to become crowded and opted to have breakfast in the dining room which was much quieter and you could have the buffet or order off the menu.
One of the things that has changed is their partnership with Dreamworks. Having characters from Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda dancing about made this cruise more like a Disney cruise with over 400 kids running about. If I wanted to be around 400 kids - I would have taken a Disney cruise. Parents don't control their children, bring them to adult shows late at night and simply made the cruise less enjoyable. My husband and I tried relaxing by the adult pool - but there was always a constant parade of kids walking through to get from one end of the ship to the other.
We also found the employees not as friendly as previous. They were nice - just not more than usual. We remember our head waiter on our cruise last year who paid attention to our son every night - joking with him, chatting with us and making sure he received his meal quickly. We never saw our head waiter who we didn't bother tipping - sorry, we don't tip someone we don't see.
RCL needs to provide be more friendly towards their guests. It would be nice to be given FREE bottles of water upon returning to the ship from ports and maybe leave a little something other than a coupon book in the staterooms of returning guests.
We enjoyed the ports. We appreciated the new port in Falmouth, Jamaica. The previous port in Ochos Rios was terrible and basically unsafe - so that was a wise move by RCL to move to Falmouth.
We still had a nice time - but I will try to avoid their ships with characters in the future!