Introduction: Family of four: wife and I in our 40's and two boys ages 16 and 13. I have been on 19 cruises so hopefully this review will helps. My brother and his family also traveled with us and had a balcony cabin on 7th floor. Also, my mom stayed with us in family cabin so we had 9 total people in party.
Embarkation: We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Cocoa Beach and utilized the park and shuttle service for the week. Shuttle was excellent, and embarkation was a breeze. Being Crown and Anchor Platinum members, it took a total of 10 minutes to board the ship. Port Canaveral is a great port, and clean...
The Positives: The ship is beautiful and well appointed. We stayed in a family Promenade cabin and it was spacious with over 300 square ft; thank goodness we had a tub and shower instead of the round showers that my brother and family had in balcony cabin. I still prefer a window or balcony on cruises; you lose the whole concept of time and the view of the ocean. We can't complain especially when you see the size of the walk-in-closet. Room Steward Alpheus was fantastic and so personable, makes the last Norwegian Gem cruise in June a joke when comparing service. Wait staff again was superb led by Ivan table 442 in Isaacs. Ivan has been working for 23 years in dining service and it showed; he was incredible with the family and all meals were delivered timely and hot. In fact I am a food junkie and I thoroughly enjoyed the selection and food in the MDR. We ate there all week and were not disappointed. Once again RCCL smokes NCL in food selection and taste. Comparable to Celebrity.
Entertainment: Hit or miss on the ship. We loved the Name that Tune trivias each night at 7:30, and game shows were great. The cruise staff men are not to be missed: Jamie, Lawrence,and Neil totally entertaining. However my wife said it best; there was too much down time in the evening between Dinner and the Theater shows. On Norwegian there was always music playing that you could have a drink and dance to. Not on this ship, in fact the party band was non existent in the evening. Furthermore the night time pool party and the Rock Britannica party was dominated by the cruise director Graham, where he spent too much time showing off his talents, and not allowing the music to move people. I wish RCCl would go back to the 70's dance party in the Promenade like we've seen, that was awesome with thousands of people dancing to DJ music. By the way don't miss all that Freedom's Promenade has to offer. Cafe with sandwiches, desserts; Sorrento's pizza and the Pub. I do love that central Promenade and what it offers, including a parade of Dreamworks characters.
Ports: Really enjoyed the itinerary including Labadee, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We did not leave ship in Falmouth, Jamaica. Beaches are beautiful and we were blessed with perfect weather all week.
Okay so here is the the drawback other than the hit or miss entertainment. I have worked with children with children all of my life and now majority is with special needs kids, except for sports coaching; this was the worst kids program of the 19 cruises that I have been on. Disorganized, lack of supervision, no passion or enthusiam; if you have a child 12 and up you may as well just let them roam the ship, because that is what they did. Here is the Kicker: The one party I enjoyed was the adult 80's dance party at the Ice Rink and the Quest that followed. However I tried to contact my 13 year old who has some special needs, I couldn't so I walked to pool area because it was swim night for the teenagers. There were about 50 kids with no counselors in the pools and "It Was Lightning Outside All Around the Ship" What a joke, I was livid and tried to tell all the teens to get out, but it's not my job. Fortunately my 13 year old had enough sense to not swim and after 20 minutes I found him with my family at 80"s party. Great night was ruined because I was furious about such incompetence. Another average at best venue was the Windjammer Cafe, not much variety and crowded often. We opted for sit down breakfast in Leonardo's several times.
Overall: We did enjoy the cruise despite some flaws, it was pricey however and we may look at Celebrity and Norwegian next for more bang for the buck.