First off, my last Cruise was on the Carnival Glory in 2009. This is used as my comparison for this cruise on items in terms of quality and enjoyment. I enjoyed that Carnival Glory Cruise but I wouldn't say I loved it.
Now, my wife and I absolutely LOVED our 7 Night cruise on RCI Freedom of the Seas. We sailed the Western Carib Itinerary out of Port Canaveral with stops in Labadee, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. Sailed Sunday to Sunday. We drove down from Alabama on Saturday, stayed at the Marriott at the Port overnight. Marriott has parking and shuttle option available which is easy to use. Shuttle service was great. Fishlips in Port Canaveral is a great place to eat/watch football on Saturday night (Go upstairs to bar area).
Embarkation was quick. On the ship by 1:00.
We had a Balcony and loved it. Some people say they don't use the Balcony its not worth the extra money. Rubbish. We love it and we use, late night, early morning wake up, we loved it. We have 9342 which is on the hump. One thing to know about Hump Balconies....they DO come with a LOUNGE CHAIR along with the regular 2 chairs.
Room was clean and well kept. No lingering cleanliness issues. Same with the rest of the ship. I never saw anything that stuck out like someone was being lazy with keeping an area clean.
Overall everything on the cruise was great. Cleanliness, staff was courteous, Shows were great, etc. Again, this is all in comparison to my Carnival Glory Cruise which I would use as a baseline good/decent across the board. Overall everything on RCI Freedom was better and up-scaled compared to the Carnival.
Food was great in both the dinning room and Buffet. I mean I have eaten better food in my life have 40-50 dollar a plate restaurants but the food was still good. We only went to the main dinning room twice (more on that later) and enjoyed dinner in the windjammer most evenings which we enjoyed. Pizza place and Cafe on the Promenade were the "non regular hours" places to get food. Cafe served sandwiches and pastries and was 24 hour. Pizza place was open until 3:00 am. I was a little disappointed that boat with 4000 guests did not have a short order location for late night on the pool deck...Just a place to get Burgers, Hotdogs, Fries, etc. Johnny Rockets was there but often had a wait time and had a cover charge. We never went to Johnny Rockets.
My first and major CON of the cruise. We only went to the dinning room the first 2 nights. We were a couple of 2 in our young 30's at a table of 6. We were seated at a Table with a group of 4 from England....Old enough to be our grandparents. I mean, let me be plain....If I wanted to go on a cruise and have dinner with my grandparents every night...I would have brought them. They were nice, we spoke to them the first night, but we wanted to sit with other couples in our age group to meet and maybe hang out with the rest of the cruise. As you look around the dining room, we saw the same thing. A table with 1 young 20-30 something couple placed with another odd pairing. On the 2nd night, we sat along as they ate with other friends and required a bigger table. After that, we just decided to save our 2 hours every night and eat at the Windjammer at our leisure. We heard similar complaints from other young couples throughout the cruise....Just awful pairings in the dinning room. Suggest making it clear up front when you book if you are a young couple and want the same: Want to be seated with out young couples, no kids, etc.
The Shows were all great. We went to 3 or 4 of them. Much better quality of performing then we saw on Carnival. My wife was a Theatre major in college so she knows a thing or two about performances and she enjoyed them.
Pools were nice....but typical for all cruises...can get busy up there especially on sea days. Solarium was a nice calm and quiet pool over the noisier main pool area.
Staff was very nice and pleasant. Never had any issue with any staff members and they were all very friendly and helpful.
Drinks were good on the ship, but now they do auto gratuity at the bars???? I don't think they should do this. End up paying 6 bucks for 1 beer when you just walk up to the Pool Bar and grab and go...not like I am getting service there all day and need to tip the guy. Anyways. They ONLY DRINK SPECIAL ON THE ENTIRE BOAT: Buy 1 Get 1 Margarita's in On Air (Deck 3) From 4:30 to 7:30. $6.25 and they are good too. Highly suggest it. Sergio is there, he is awesome.
Gym was very Nice and well kept/clean.
Labadee was surprisingly good. Great Beach stop. We didn't do any excursions...just got off and went to the beach for a few hours. Snorkeling...go to Adrenaline Beach...best place but its still so-so......but free snorkeling (with your own gear). They setup a Buffet at Lunch at several locations.
Jamaica - Look, been there before (week for Honeymoon at an all-inclusive). Jamaica is Jamaica. People hound you to sell stuff, is what it is. Not much to do outside of the Port area in Falmouth. Would HIGHLY Recommend doing an excursion (ship or from good company) here as its not a good go out on your own place. We did Dunn River Falls (must if you have never been) and Horseback riding. We enjoyed it. Dunn River Falls was a cool experience. Bring watershoes and a waterproof camera.
Grand Cayman - We are divers so we went diving. Great dive shops all over the island, don't feel the need to use the Cruise Dive group. Diving in Cayman is world famous. Cayman is know for Duty Free shopping. Lots of shopping in the port and several good bars/Island Restaurants to go park at within walking distance and have a good time. If not, I hear 7 mile beach or the Stingray City excursion were good (from other cruisers we were with). You can wing it and do your own thing (non boat excursion) in Grand Cayman. Felt very safe/crime free in Grand Cayman.
If you want Cuban Cigars, there is a Cigar Shop right in the Port Shops that actually has some of the best prices I could find in all the ports for FRESH CUBANS. you may find them slightly cheaper elsewhere at an outdoor table peddler, but not fresh.
Cozumel - LOVED COZUMEL. Diving was AMAZING. Used a small local dive shop, Deep Blue Cozumel and the Dive Master was AWESOME. Nothing flashy about their shop or their dive boat....but the Dive Master was great and our dive group was a group of 5....counting the Dive Master. Got off the dive boat right in downtown Cozumel near lots of bars and shops. 1 dollar beers everywhere... Senior Frogs and Carlo's and Charlies had great food and drinks before heading back to Port Area (less than 10 minute Cab 7 buck flat rate). AMAZING Fajitas is Carlos and Charlies. I felt VERY safe in Cozumel. Don't think about crime ridden north Mexico when you think Cozumel. Safest I ever felt walking around or in a cab in all of the Caribbean was Cozumel. and I have been all over the Caribbean. I just say this because so many people were worried about Mexico...Cozumel LIVES off of Tourism and you have nothing to worry about there. DONT STAY IN THE PORT, TAKE A CAB DOWNTOWN. You can wing it and do your own thing (non boat excursion) in Cozumel.
Few little issues - Lack of Karaoke...the have a Karaoke Bar "On Air" which is actually one of the biggest bars on the boat...and it only has Karaoke for like 1 hour a night. I complained hardcore about this at the end of the cruise, maybe they will fix it.
NO WHERE TO WATCH FOOTBALL ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYs. Look, they have this "On Air" club on Deck 3...FULL OF TV's. No games on Saturday and Sunday. Room is completely empty. They did put football on the big screen at the pool but thats only one game and no sound. They need to fix this. I mean its a Sea Day Anyway!!!
Auto Gratuity at the Bars....This is silly.
Room Service Menu only has like 10 items on it.... Ship for 4,000 that was the Largest in the world before Oasis and Allure came out...and the Room Service menu only has 10 items????
Carnival has nicer Pool/Beach Towels.... Just saying....
Overall - We loved the Freedom and Royal Caribb. You get what you pay for and this was evident when comparing my Freedom Cruise with RCI and my Carnival Glory Cruise 3 years ago. We will surely cruise with Royal Caribb again.