This was our second time on a RCI Freedom class ship and once again the experience was exceptional. The ship is beautiful and there's plenty to do.
We set sail from Barcelona and the embarkation was flawless. Our luggage was taken immediately and we entered through security to the check in area which was designated into desks specifically for decks, as well as crown and anchor status. Being a C&A member meant that we were given our sea pass instantly and on the ship in a matter of minutes!
Once on board, our staterooms were ready . The cabin is perfect and cosy. I love the memory foam mattress topper and pitch black room of an inside cabin both make a perfect nights sleep!
The safety drill was conducted in a variety of languages which was time consuming but necessary. I found it frustrating that Europeans don't queue or listen to the important info and I felt if any emergencies arose that there would be complete chaos due to their ignorance. I was impressed by the electronic muster drill which scans your sea pass card and accounts for all who should be in that area and found the crews professionalism reassuring.
Dinner in the MDR was absolutely wonderful every night and the service was excellent. I was disappointed by the lack of formal attire and on one of the two formal nights I was convinced I had accidentally misread the cruise compass- but no- formal in other countries must mean jeans and a t shirt!
Johnny Rockets was wonderful with the dancing waiting staff and comfort food such as milkshakes and burgers. We ordered room service too which was quick and delicious. We also enjoyed Sorrentos which had a better selection than Independence with more bread and pizza choices.I personally loved The Cupcake Cupboard which was amazing especially likes the buy 6 cupcakes and get your 7th free stamp card! The starbucks menu in the cafe promenade was also a nice touch! Windjammer was busy but had a good selection- I personally prefer sit down meals than buffets so thats why we made the most of the other dining options!
I found the service in both Olive or Twist and the Champagne Bar to be excellent and unlike many other reviewers I found the drinks to be reasonably priced and great value for money compared to bars at home.
The ship was spotless with no outbreaks of Norovirus.I found this aspect to be more enjoyable than Independence as passengers complied willingly with the hand sanitation regime before meals and on entering/exiting venues.
The entertainment from the theatre performers was ok, better than Independence but not excellent. "Saturday Night Fever" was a highlight. I much preferred both bands on the ship who were excellent and catered for all ages in Olive or Twist in the evening.The Dreamworks experience was great fun and there were plenty of photo opportunities with the characters.But take your own camera , the photographers are poor and their photographs are entertainment in themselves,along with the unnatural poses they make you strike!
The flow rider is amazing and must be given a try!The gym and fitness classes are wonderful! The adults only pool is a haven, as are the whirlpools and the no children allowed rule is obeyed!
The ports of call were excellent and we made the most of some of the excursions.
Pisa was excellent and only half an hour from the port of Livorno. we did the
Pisa on your own excursion and I was surprised as there isn't much to see- I was expecting something more and the 2 hour trip is more than enough time to see everything there.
Rome was amazing. We did the 5 hour trip on the bus but got an hour off at the vatican. We vowed for the shorter trip which was a great idea- we pretty much had the ship to ourselves making the most of the pool and quiet windjammer!
Pompeii was unbelievable and only 20 minutes for Naples.Its a must!
Toulon and Villefrance (tendered port) were stunning and we stayed near the port on those days as the weather was in the high 30's.
A nice touch were the available refreshments before boarding the ship again to re hydrate!
Overall, the staff, the ship, the food, ports of call and experience were excellent! My only fault lies in the fellow passengers not complying with the dress code or having any manners at the muster drill or even when waiting on a lift. It was very much "me first!" but that's not RCI's fault.In regards to my cruising experience it was perfect and nice to be in the sun instantly at Barca- just a pity there aren't any 14 night cruises available! Hope this is set to change.