My husband and I joined the Meet & Mingle boards a few weeks before our trip. This was a wonderful way to meet your fellow sailing mates and a great ice-breaker once on the ship.
Arrived in Miami Saturday afternoon, we were fortunate enough to have joined part of our Meet & Mingle family for dinner that evening, afterwards a leisurely stroll around the Marketplace. Early Sunday morning, we woke up with views of the Freedom in the Port of Miami. Once inside the terminal it was a little overwhelming trying to figure out which line to follow. However, the line kept at a steady pace, we were able to embark Freedom before noon. We confirmed seating assignment and made reservations for dinner at Portofino and Chops. Afterwards, we found ourselves in the Solarium pool throwing down some cold ones getting ready for the adventure of "getting out there".
Our cabin on the ninth floor was very pleasant, we expected lots of noise just off the stairs but were pleasantly surprised it was quiet. We found the balcony space very generous and useful to enjoy and dry items throughout the week. Organizer in closet made up for the limited drawer space at vanity. All in all, the room itself was very well laid out.
We recommend participating in the "Mystery Dinner Theater - The Mill Valley Reunion" only available on Sunday evening. There is a fee for this, however, we received champagne, an entertaining show, dinner (the Fileto di Manzo was like butter) and the opportunity to mingle.
Day at sea on Monday- We found ample lounge chairs and plenty of on board activities to keep busy. However, we spent most of the time under the bridge at the Solarium pool with a cold one. The "Mr. Sexy Legs Competition" is a not-to-miss event, along with the "belly flop" competition. Hold on to your pool towels -- there will be a $20 charge for each one missing by end of trip. Ladies, the ship tends to be on the cooler side, head to the Shop on Board for a $10 shawl in several colors to keep warm and fashionable. Great idea RCCL, for making this available.
Cozumel Tuesday - We headed off to our Hideway Beach excursion. Wasn't truly prepared for the exhilarating power boating ride, those with neck and back problems should not go. The lack of sanitary facilities upon arrival to the secluded beach was upsetting. Bring your own antibacterial products to better enjoy your nachos and chicken tacos. A great game of volleyball was enjoyed by all. Back on board that evening, our first audience participation for THE QUEST was a true delight and a must go for the whole family.
Grand Cayman Wednesday - This is the day to book your spa treatments, discounted prices started today. Dinner in Chops gave us the opportunity to appreciate a thoughtful menu and freshly prepared menu items.
Montego Bay Thursday - our only docked port. We enjoyed the early Jungle River tube ride whereas your tube is attached to a dozen other riders. You are being lead through very calm river waters with your personal guide. The best part, was the open bed truck ride back to the departure area. The Freedom Ice Show was good -- but, I stopped counting how many times someone fell down on the ice after five, again things found on a new ship.
Labadee Friday - Did not explore the island at all. We opted for the early three hour excursion to Castaway at Malfini Beach - After tendering to Labadee and tendering back out to Malfini beach and back to Labadee, your actual beach time is reduced to less than 1 1/2 hours. The welcoming punch and departing cleansing towelettes were a nice touch. Although available, we were not offered snorkel gear, so you must ask for it. We opted for lunch back on the ship in Johnny Rockets. It was Lobster night, on the smaller size (4 -5 oz), best to order more than one or two. Once Upon a Time Production Show - a do not miss. The Love and Marriage Game Show, was the best laughter all week!
In closing, James A., Cruise Director, truly stood out as the most entertaining staff on our cruise. We appreciated his endless energy throughout the week. Everyone who worked on the ship was extremely helpful and polite with sincere smiles. We always found our stateroom freshly cleaned twice a day.
Unfortunately, the repeated lunch and dinner food selections, presentation and quality was disappointing. This is something RCCL needs to address now that they are building these mega guest ships. We welcomed the automatic door openers located at the entrance as well as inside all of the restrooms. We appreciated RCCL for keeping its guests informed about updated airline security changes. This ship is beautiful, and very well organized for the 10th sailing. While on board we booked the Liberty for 2007.