This was our second New Years cruise on Freedom of the Seas (did it last year). We are 2 couples in our late 50's early 60's. My wife and I drove from Atlanta, Ga. to Port Canaveral going half way on Friday and the rest of the way on Saturday (cruise left Sunday). Went to the port about 12:15 and were on the ship by 12:45 (had to wait for our friends). Boarding is so simple. As Diamond members with priority boarding you get a priority security line and priority check in. But even the other line was not too bad.
Our cabin 9638 was on the hump. Normal size balcony but a great location. Near the elevators and 2 decks below the Windjammer. Junior Suites are great size. Walk in closet, sofa, chair, large balcony with 2 chairs, table and another chair with attached footstool. We gathered frequently in our cabin or on our balcony. Our friends had a balcony cabin on deck 8 and it sure seemed small compared to the JS. We sure are getting spoiled. Our cabin attendant, Simeon, was great. Was very "stealthy" in that he was rarely seen, but always available. Took excellent care of us. We had a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne and he kept them iced down as well as kept a full ice bucket for us. On the last Formal Night we returned to our cabin and he had placed rose petals on the bed. A very nice touch.
Second seating in the MDR was fine. Our waiter was efficient but not all that personable. But there is a lot to be said for efficiency. Our Assistant Waiter was very good. Kept the wine poured, water glasses filled, rolls on the bread plates. We drink decaf at desert and as soon as we finished he would appear with the coffee. Food was good to very good. I like the new menu. Had salmon and halibut. Both were outstanding, as was the Duck. Chicken Marsala on last night..ok. Fried fish plate was also ok. But great appetizers. They list escargots every night, but tend to run out. So get them early in the cruise. Had a special menu on New Year Eve. It was quite good. Did breakfast in the MDR as well as lunch most days. All very good.
New Years Eve was fantastic. Got a table in the Bull and Bear Pub about 9:30 and the entertainment was great. The singer is a lot of fun. The New Years party on the Promenade was great. Lots of excitement at midnight. Later went to the Schooner Lounge and the piano player is great fun. Spent many after hours in those two bars.
Didn't go into Coco Cay as the winds were high and the tenders kept getting shut down. Did the "duty" ride into St. Thomas and went to our favorite place for Mudslides, the Big Kahuna. Shopped a bit then back to the ship. Cabbed to Orient Beach in St. Maarten and got lounges outside the Biking Bar. Laid on the beach, swam and drank Guavaberry Coladas. A nice time.
Lots of kids on this cruise. Heard there were 1200 of them. Tended to "herd" and run around the ship. Only real gripe for me was when a group of about 15 teenagers tried racing from the top deck to the bottom deck down the stairs. As they rounded the landing nearly took out more than one passenger (including me). Some kids would play in the halls, and groups would ride the elevators up and down. Oh well, kids will be kids.
One nice thing was how people dressed on New Years Eve and the second Formal Night. Lots of great looking, classy dressed men and women of all ages.
Debarkation was very smooth. Had a 7:30 "off" time. Went to breakfast about 6:30 in MDR, was back in the room at 7:15, grabbed our stuff at 7:30 and was in the car at 8:15. I will say that we tip the porters well. When we checked in the porter was so excited at our tip that he gave me his cell number. I called him at 7:30 and he met us at the bottom of the escalator. I never lifted a bag. He got all our bags and took them all the way to the car (I was up the first ramp just undercover) and loaded them for me. You do get what you pay for.
Bottom line, we did Freedom for New Years in 2011, now in 2012, and are going to book for New Years 2013 when we go on Allure in March. The only way to celebrate New Years Eve is on a cruise!