This was our first time on a Royal Caribbean Cruise. We booked for Feb 10-17, 2013 on Freedom of the Seas. (We have cruised with Carnival(1 time) and Disney (4 times) The Registration and Embarkment very crowed with nothing special when you boarded the ship. We boarded he ship approx. 11:30am. After you found your own way to where lunch was served (we ended on the deck 11 at The Windjammer Buffet along with everybody else on the ship.) Finding a table to sit at was a challenge.
Our room was ready at 1pm. We had a total of 4 Promenade Staterooms (8 people- 6 adults and 2 teenagers)- we had staterooms 7275 & 7277 (adjoining) and 7279 & 7281 (adjoining).
I had read in previous reviews about noise complaints, put we did not experience any loud noises at all. There were no loud noises from the promenade below. Our rooms overlooked the Bull & Bear Pub and in the evenings there were music,sing a longs, etc, but for the most part all was quite at 11pm. And all you would here were muffled noises. Nothing to disturb us.
Our Room Stewart Miguel was terrific. Very professional and went out of his way to accommodate our needs.
We chose the 8pm seating for dinner. At first I thought it would be too late, but it worked out. We went to the 7pm shows and then went right to dinner. For the Ice Show we chose the 5:30pm show. It was very crowed, but it was an AWESOME SHOW! A Must See! All of the shows were very good.
Dining Room experience- There is just one main dining room (3 levels). Every night there were the same main courses offered, but there were special entrees each night. The food was good, but nothing spectacular. The Steak and Prime Rib were OK. The staff was very accommodating on special requests. The menu is marked for special dietetic needs- Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Healthy Choice, etc.
Activities- My son (15yrs old) enjoyed the Flow Rider, Rock Climbing Wall and Ice Skating. All without cost, but a Parental Consent Form needed to be filled out. He used the arcade just a few times. A hided Gem is on Deck 14- Next to Oliver and Twist bar, "Cloud Nine" room. Just a room with tables and chairs and board games and playing cards. A great place to go and get out of the sun for a few hours.
The Promenade- Loved walking the shops and grabbing a snack. Sorrentos Pizza (Pizza, Salads, Desserts) No extra charge. the Pizza was much better then the pizza on the Windjammer Buffet...
Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream- Not included in your food plan, small fee, but a nice treat...
Cafe' Promenade- Free Coffee, Pasties, Sandwiches- Starbucks Coffee for a small fee.
Port of Calls- Coco Cay- Our day on the island was very winding. There were several areas that you could find a lounge chair. Our favorite area was the beach where the Aqua Park is. When you get off the boat make a right and walk to the other side of the island. Pass the BBQ Buffet. The bathrooms are there and the beach is much nicer. My son went on the Aqua Park. $15.00 for an hours. He really liked it. Worth the money... There was lots of water sports to do for a fee. We were disappointed with the BBQ lunch. skip it and go back to the boat. You really didn't have to wait long to board a Tender to go to the island or back to the boat.
St Thomas- the only complaint I have is the Disembarkment of this day. It seems like the entire ship went off at the same time and the crowd packed the stairwells and jammed the elevators to get out... We chose to take a taxi to Megan's Bay. (approx 35 minute ride) It cost 8.00 per person for the cab then $4.00 per person to enter the beach. You can rent beach chairs at the beach for $5.00. and there was a beach restaurant to have lunch. Its a small beach and very crowded. But beautiful.
St Maartin / St. Martin - Again we took a cab to the beach. $6.00 per person. We went to Orient Beach.. approx. 30 min. ride. This beach is on the French side and it is considered a clothing optional beach. however where we went only a few women were topless and it wasn't too bad. The beach was beautiful.. You can rent 2 chairs and an umbrella for 20.00 for the day. The taxi drivers know where to go and are always there for the return trip. There are beach restaurants on the beach that waiters come and take your orders (food and bar)while you are sitting on the beach.
We enjoyed our stay on The Freedom of the Seas. Overall, the ship was very clean and looked new.
We would def.book again.