Just came back 2 days ago on a 7-day Western Caribbean aboard the Freedom of the Seas. We didn't care much about the Western Caribbean since we've been there several times, our destination was the ship itself. It's just like the Explorer, only slightly bigger. The check-in was smooth and it helps to do check-in online ahead of time. I was disappointed that there was no welcoming party to greet the passengers, usually someone greets & escorts you to your cabin. After sailing more than 30 times with different cruise lines, I think I have a lot of comparisons to draw from so it also makes me more critical than most. Here are my constructive criticisms.
I booked an E-1 category with balcony and had reservations about being assigned on deck 6 midship. I prefer the higher floors but this turned out better. Deck 6 is perfect because it's only one flight above the Promenade and close to everything. So if there's a line for the elevators, I use the stairs.
The cabin is the usual size for this category still not enough drawers. The balcony is ample and nice. The bed & linens are comfortable, a difference you feel right away. The bathroom is a tad bigger & the shower didn't feel tight. We liked the animal creatures made from towels left by our attendant every night.
As for the decor of the ship, it's not classy and a bit tacky. The beige background of the peach & green carpet made the ship look worn and it's brand new. I didn't care for the posts of the ship sticking out in the hallways of the sleeping floors. And the halls turn so you do not get a straight view of the hallway. Where are the public bathroom attendants? The public ladies' bathrooms get dirty during the rush all the time.
The front desk is not helpful & friendly. The main dining food is so-so, nothing to rave about. The food at Windjammer is the same every day for breakfast, lunch & dinner. The pizza at Sorrento gets a D-. There is no laundry area on this ship. Boleros was the place for Latin dancing but it should have been bigger & enclosed for privacy. The Latin band was very good. The service at main dining was average. Service at Windjammer was average too. There should be more activities for all ages especially when you're at sea.
Now, what's great about the Freedom? The gym was a treat, big & lots of machines. I enjoyed the Salsamania class but they only had it one time. The swimming pools were nice & inviting. The casino was big and all the staff were friendly, especially Mario from Uruguay. Having a choice to pre-charge tips or not is a good idea. And having a choice to carry your own luggage on express check-out is an excellent idea. The shows of Royal Caribbean are fabulous. The singers & dancers were unbelievable.
The stage designs & props looked like the ones on a major Broadway production. Tendering was well done, they were always available. RCCL knows how to handle traffic well because we didn't feel like there were more than 3,600 passengers onboard. And again, the beds & linens are very comfortable. We felt so relaxed on this cruise and for the first time ever felt we were on "vacation." Will I cruise Royal Caribbean again? Of course!