Positives: Freedom of the Seas,launched 2006,refurbished 2011 is the cleanest, freshest ship we've ever sailed. The physical boat is spotless, well appointed & shows no signs of wear although up to 3,000 guests plus 1500 crew sail every single week. There are so many neat features you need to refer to a brochure to grasp the enormity of the experience. All the stuff in the brochure is really there and there is simply more to do than one can do in a week. Our outside cabin with balcony was plenty big enough, spotless & extremely comfortable. We booked deck 6 as close to mid-ships as possible. Food is aft and entertainment is forward. The cabin was quiet and the balcony; well I have ruined myself and will be paying extra for a balcony for the rest of my cruising days. The food was always "good" & a lot of the time "excellent". Breakfast Buffet up in the Windjammer Cafe is excellent. Service is exceptional all through the ship. It seems that the crew speaks & understands English better than in the past. Theaters are comfortable & its easy to find a good seat. Shows are the best I've seen in 18 cruises. Ice skating show, Broadway, Magician, Stand up Comedian, all great. Shore excursions are shore excursions. Some are great,some are o.k. We do feel better using RCCL concessionaires rather than venturing out on our own & taking a chance. Haiti, Jamaica and Cozumel all have piers now. 5 tender boats at Grand Cayman made transfer quick and comfortable. Disembarkation was slick and fast. No complaints. All in all, I give it an 8.5.
Negatives: Check in was pitiful. Stood in line in the Sun for 20 minutes @ 90 degrees to run carry-on thru 4 machines for 2,500 folks. Everybody had to show I.D. 4 separate times in a slow moving line to check in.Took 45 minutes; not good. Checked in on Carnival (same port) 2 years ago in 10 minutes. Please take out a home equity loan before you board. You are going to need it. Extras like drinks are expensive. Specialty restaurants extra cost. (We did not use.) Shore excursions expensive. Also booking shore excursions can be confusing. The description on the handout,the description on the interactive TV, the description on the actual tickets and the description at the gathering place on shore didn't exactly match and some of the shore excursions are very similar to each other.
Don't let the large size and high passenger count discourage you. We almost never felt crowded and there is plenty of space to spread out and/or find a quiet spot to relax. Oh, and a final little comment that shows how great this monster boat is. The designers put in removable window panels on the pool deck so there is a wonderful ocean breeze blowing across you in your deck chair around the pools. On older ships you would roast. The best compliment I can pay is: We will be sailing the same ship again, maybe on an Eastern itinerary.