ARRIVAL AND EMBARKATION:
This was are 15th cruise, 7th on RCCL. We drove down from NC and used off pier parking, Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral. They were 1/2 the price of the port parking with a fast shuttle service both going to the ship & returning after the cruise. We arrived at the terminal at 11:45 am and embarkation was a breeze, on the ship in less than 30 mins. after being dropped off. They announced that the cabin would not be ready until 1:00 pm, no problem, we headed to the Windjammer for a light lunch and a few adult beverages. While on our way we saw a walking bartender, Garry Suson, and he soon became our best friend during our week on-board. He always had a smile and with 3700 passengers he always remembered our names. Seek him out and tell him Gary with one "R" says hello. Back to the review. The Windjammer was a nice restaurant with an Asian section as you first walk in and the traditional buffet towards the rear. The food was very good, service excellent and the area was always spotless.
Afterwards we checked on our cabin, #8332, met our cabin steward John, and set out to explore the Freedom. This was the largest ship we have sailed on but it never seems to be crowded. All the evening shows in the lounge had plenty of seats available, the ice show was a little crowded but that was due to the small ice rink. Oh, don't miss the 70's Disco Jam one night at the Royal Promemade, great fun.
Let me take a minute to praise the crew, from the Captain to the bathroom attendants everyone was pleasant, smiling and helpful. The cruise director Bruce is a rip, as is the Captain. Here's a first. One night the casino has celebrity dealers at the tables and I was surprise to see the Captain dealing at the Caribbean Stud poker table. (He was hard to beat!!)
FOOD & DINING ROOMS
We only used room service one morning just for coffee and it was right on time and the coffee was HOT!!
BREAKFAST - Most mornings in the Windjammer. Buffet with a station for having your eggs any way you like. Ate in the restaurant one morning, I wanted Eggs Benedict. Nice but I'm not really a breakfast fan. The Windjammer was just fine.
LUNCH - Again, Windjammer or Sorrento's for Italian. Windjammer's menu changed everyday so there was always a nice selection for lunch.
DINNER - (Galileo Dining Room) We opted for the MY TIME dining. First time doing that and it worked out just fine. We requested early dining with the same waiter every night and only 5:30pm available. Our waiter was Ronnie and the table was 131. It's in the back of the restaurant right next to the large windows. Best table in the restaurant. No waiters and passengers walking by and a great view out the windows. Loved it.
FOOD - It's not quite up with Oceania but on the whole it was very good to excellent. Portion were good size, nicely presented and dinner was served hot. I think if you don't mind going early to dinner the food is usually better, I guess it's just a little fresher earlier in the evening.
SPA - Both of us had massages with my honey getting a facial and some kind of whole body rub. Both agreed it was wonderful.
POOLS, ROYAL PROMEMADE & CASINO
Didn't use the H2O pool or the main pool, we just hung around the Solarium adults only pool and hot tubs. The lounge chairs at the Solarium area had pads, not just webbing, which was nice. The H2O pool looked to be a great area for kids to frolic in but I don't think there were more than a handful on youthful passengers. The main pool had a band playing most of the day and it was just a little to loud if you wanted to relax either reading or napping.
The Royal Promemade has lots of shops, an English pub, Sorrento's, Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream, a Wine bar, 24 hr coffee which also has snacks a Starbucks, and for some reason a Cupcake shop. Saw lots of people in Ben & Jerry's but never a soul having a Cupcake. I guess someone most have asked to have a Cupcake shop but if you walk right across to the Cafe Promemade they have complimentary brownies, cookies, crumb cake, etc. Strange.
Ahh, the Casino...... Lots of different slot machines and every table game that you can play. Staff very friendly and if you're lucky you might be able to offset your wife's losses on the slot machines while you play blackjack or craps.
PORTS OF CALL
Coco Cay - Been there before, waters nice, area clean, food just ok. Bar service with Garry, excellent!!
St. Thomas - Took the Champagne catamaran snorkel tour to St. John. Nice trip, fun crew, saw sea turtles, lots of colorful fish and a huge barracuda swimming right under the boat!! Crew said he's there everyday. Wonder what he finds so interesting, glad it was one of us!!
St. Maarten- Nice island, nice people but there's lots of walking vendors along the beach. They have 2 beach lounges w/umbrella for $20, offer them $15.
Lots of shopping venues but I thought some of the food looked a little scary. Wanted to check out the landings and take-offs at the airport there in St. Maarten but didn't get a chance. One couple took a taxi around to the French side that included a stop to watch the airplanes scare the hell out of you. Take a look on youtube about St. Maarten jet landings.
Nice 7 day cruise with 3 days at sea. We like not having to make choices on what we are going to see or do while in port. Having a nice lounge chair, great bar service and great weather that was perfect made this cruise one of the best ever.