FIRST OFF TAKE ROYAL CARIBBEAN - THERE IS NOT DOWNSIDE AND YOU CAN'T GO WRONG.
DON'T WASTE TIME MESSING AROUND WITH TRYING TO BRING HEAVY WATER BOTTLES ON TEH SHIP - THE SHIP WATER IS EXCELLENT IN ADDITION THE LEMONDADE AND ICED TEA ETC...
Well the 7 night Royal Caribbean Cruise on Freedom of the Seas was just amazing. It was our first family cruise where we were all together. Absolutely perfect.
Here are some tips:
1) Call ASAP before your cruise and book an 8pm dinner seating - that gives you plenty of time to relax before dinner and still time to catch 9:45pm shows and 10pm shows.
2) Setup room service via your TV every night before bed - then you can go to the buffet if you and the kids feel you need to - it is a great way to wake up especially if you have a balcony room.
3)Lot's of other free food like gourmet pizza at the promenade deck.
4) The shows are amazing don't miss any - if you want to potentially get picked to go on stage or for any show get there early and sit in ON THE RIGHT Middle section in the first 3 rows...
5) We went out Sunday via Port Canaveral - the first and second night there are not stops you just cruise
5) Labadee Haiti was our first stop Tuesday - Royal Caribbean owned island - it was awesome - zip line and little roller coaster on the jungle hill... You can utilize your key card to your room to make purchases on this Island just like on the ship - they are on the same system snd BEERS ARE $6 each. IT IS ROCKY sand so be SURE TO TAKE your water shoes for the beach. Rent the float mats to your card for just $12 each as well.
6)Wednesday we did the Duns River Falls excursion in Jamaica. YOU ARE NOT PERMITTED OR WANT TO WEAR FLIP FLOPS OR GO BAREFOOT. THEY RENT WATER SHOES THERE IF YOU DON'T HAVE ANY.
IT IS AWESOME. I am 6 FT 6 - 53 Years old with not so great knees but did not have a problem - the guides will take care of you and you also have a videographer with your 20 person group. The video is $40 and we declined as it is of the whole group not just your family so prob not worth the effort. Tip the videographer or guide a $20 and he will take your camera with him and take pic's for you anyway. A waterproof camera is a good idea. go to youtube and check out the duns river falls and you will see why. Everyone holds hands to help balance each other etc.. and if you decide it is too much there are around 3-4 places to easily step out and just walk up where you walked to the bottom anyway. Then we did the cave's as well as part of it - the caves would be fun if you never saw a cave but really not that great to me. More walking etc... but only like another $10 bucks to do the caves plus the Duns River Falls.
7) Thursday Grand Caymans we did the Stingray excursion - it was great - they are huge and not the same sting rays that can kill someone. They have one barb on their tail and as long as you don't step on that barb (which would be really hard) you are safe. The guides walk you through everything and they take tons of pics which they will email you all of them from their IPAD for just $40 - we bought those. I happened to catch / pickup about a 7 ft wingspan sting ray in addition to the one's the staff catches and holds. They come right up to you if you are still. Take some cash just to be safe they do not take RC keycards for payment
8) Friday Cozumel was a fun experience. Go to the 9am shopping deal hour on the ship and you will get a free taxi ride coupon to the forum. If you ever wanted to buy lots of different types of pearls or silver this is the place. My wife and daughters bought pearl sets. Some for $60 and one for $300. Teen agers also bought some cool bags for school books and lots of tshirts around $10 - there is also a del sol there just search on internet Forum at Cozumel - take credit cards and American cash to buy stuff. BY THE WAY THERE ARE TONS OF STORES ALONG THE WAY THAT HAVE $1 COLD BOTTLES OF BEER LIKE SOL ETC. DO THAT THE BEERS ARE $6 ON THE SHIP SO WHY NOT DRINK WHILE YOU ARE WALKING AROUND OR WAIING FOR SOMEONE SHOPPING. Even if you do not go shopping if you get off the boat as soon as you start walking there are souvenir stores with $1.50 cold bottles of beer and a Senor Frogs right there when you get off the ship. SO GET OFF THE SHIP. YOU CAN ALSO GET A COUPON ON THE SHIP AT THE 9AM INFO MEETING TO GET THE CARILOHA BAMBOO BEDSHEETS FOR JUST $175 AND THEY SHIP THEM DIRECTLY TO YOU IN THE STATES WHICH IS A NICE TOUCH.
9) Saturday was a lazy day on the ship as we sailed back to Port Canaveral - SO GET UP EARLY TO GET CHAIRS IF YOU WANT TO SIT RIGHT BY THE POOL Casino was fun and they have craps for only $5 pass line, and roulette, blackjack, tons of slots and a daily roughly $600,000 lotto jackpot drawing. Also texas holdem tournament qualifiers but people can buy back in even if they have chips so be prepared to spend $225 if you are serious and not the $75 entrance fee.
OTHER BIG TIPS FOR YOU:
a) IF YOU WANT TO - you can GET OFF THE SHIP EARLY AT 7 AM - YOU CAN JUST TELL YOUR MAID AND KEEP YOUR BAGS IN YOUR ROOM AND ROLL THEM OFF. THEY WILL TELL YOU WHERE TO GO. WE WERE OFF THE SHIP AND THRU CUSTOMS IN 5 MINUTES AND GUESS WHAT - I SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT ALCOHOL BECAUSE CUSTOMS DIDN'T CHECK ANYONE OR CHECK ANY BAGS. I thought it would be a hassle to buy and put in my bags but it would have been easy.
B) DRIVE DOWN A DAY EARLY AND STAY AT THE RESIDENCE INN - IT IS 5 MIN TO CRUISE SHIP - THEY WILL SHUTTLE YOU FOR $3 EACH AND YOU CAN AVOID THE $20 A DAY PARKING AT THE SHIP -- WE WERE OFF THE SHIP AND BACK TO THE RESIDENCE EATING FREE BREAKFAST BEFORE WE GOT IN OUR CAR IN LESS THAN 30 MINUTES. THEY HAVE VANS FOR ABOUT 8 PEOPLE JUST WAITING FOR RESIDENCE INN CUSTOMERS. THEY ARE NOT RESIDENCE INN VANS BUT THE SERVICE THEY USE FOR THE $3 TRANSFER. OUR ROOM THE DAY BEFORE THE CRUISE INCLUDED FREE PARKING BREAKFAST INTERNET. DELUXE GIANT TWO BEDROOM ROOM FOR 5 AT RESIDENCE WAS $240 BUT WHEN YOU SUBTRACT OUT FREE PARKING $140 SAVINGS, 2 BREAKFASTS $70 AND FREE INTERNET $20 IT IS ALMOST FREE TO STAY THERE THE DAY BEFORE. THERE IS A COOL RESTAURANT DOWN BY A RON JOHN TYPE STORE (IT IS NOT RON JON BUT HOTEL CAN EXPLAIN).... STAY AWAY FROM BAD PARTS OF PORT CANAVERAL - PRETTY ROUGH LOOKING PEOPLE AROUND EVEN IN FAMILY LOOKING ESTABLISHMENTS FROM THE OUTSIDE.