My husband and I took a cruise with my parents on 5/12/13 to the Western Caribbean.I will try and break down each aspect to give you a good overall idea of the cruise.
Embarking: I am a Gold member so I got to pass the huge line of people which saved us a ton of time. Even though my parents have been on more cruises and are Platinum members, their line was bigger than the Gold line so they came in the Gold line and we breezed through. Maybe 20 minutes total from shuttle to ship. Once you get your Sea Pass, you are good to go.
Ship: Was HUGE and I mean HUGE. My 78 yr old Dad had trouble walking the entire ship so we got him a wheelchair which made things easier. The ship is very beautiful, clean and well laid out. Public areas on the ship were emaculate (ie...bathrooms etc...) There is much to keep you busy or not. In the mall, Cafe Promenade and Sorrentos are free to eat at but Ben and Jerry's, Johnny Rockets ($5) and the cupcake place will cost you. At Cafe Promenade, you can buy Starbucks but just go to the back and there is fresh brewed Seattle's Best which was fantastic!!
Rooms: Very clean and bigger than I thought. We had a mid ship balcony room and we loved it! Room attendant was very good and kept our room clean and tidy all week. We stored our luggage under the bed which gave us more room. Rooms have little nooks and hidden shelves to help store stuff. Remember to close the lid on the toilet for it to flush at full capacity. Food- We did MY Time Dining and we liked it. We had our own table next to the 3rd floor window. Table 144. Dias and Wilfred took care of us. The food was good. Most things were GREAT. A few things were better than average. Overall, really good. I am not sure what people expect, but there is so much to chose from that anyone can find something good to eat. I don't understand people complaining about the food. Its hard to feed 3,600 every day and be perfect! Our waiter Dias kept making suggestions so after about day 3, I told him to bring me whatever he thought was good, and he did just that. Sometimes he would bring me 2 dishes to try and always 2 deserts. I think he appreciated the fact that I trusted his opinion because on formal night I was the only one at the table that got 2 lobster tails. Even though we prepaid the tips, we gave both him and his Asst Wilfred (a sweetie) an extra $30 ea. They were that good!!!
Windjammer- Good! Again, so many choices, how can you go wrong? Its a buffet so keep that in mind and relax, you are on vacation!!!!!
Chops- Excellent!!!! Highly recommend. Paid $30 per person for anything you wanted and was well worth it. Don't forget to tip at Chops. We tipped the guy $30. We figured what the meal would have cost at a place like Ruth Chris and found that Chops was a steal! Crab cake, Mushroom soup, Filet...all amazing. The desert were fantastic!! We had the Mississippi Mud Pie, Red Velvet Cake and the Creme Brulee which was served aflame!! Best I ever had!!!! Did not try Portofino so can't comment.Ports-
Labadee- Nice. We rented a Cabana which was great. Cost was about $250 and well worth it so my folks could relax in a nice place and enjoy themselves while my husband and I frolicked in the water. The only complaint I have is the BBQ (which was good) was TOO FAR from Nellie's Beach and our cabana boy did NOT get our food as we were told he would. It was too hot and too far for my 78 yr old Dad and 75 yr old Mom to walk too so we ate and carried plates back to them. Hopefully RCCL will see this and open the side gate between beaches so we could have taken the shorter route and not had a 15 min walk to get our lunch. Bad form especially after spending the extra cash to get a cabana.
Jamaica- Did Dunns River Falls. Glad I did it but would not do again. The guide was very pushy and seemed more interested in making the video that they tried to sell you for $40. After the hike was done, he was very pushy in wanting a tip, which bugged us so we blew him off. He wasn't that good of a guide anyway. One lady in our group fell and split her tooth in half!
Caymen- Awesome!!! We did the snorkel and catamaran sail with Red Sail and they were spectacular. Very professional and the guides were very informative. I only wish we spent more time snorkeling the reefs than the sunken ship. I like looking at fish. The water is amazing and I would go back in a skinny minute and spend a week here or more.
Cozumel- Being from San Diego, we go to Mexico a lot (Cancun) so we felt at home. The one bad thing is they no longer use the pier in town to dock. There is a new pier about 5 miles away that is not close to anything. You MUST take a taxi if you want to go into town where everything is. It was about $8 for my husband and I. We found a place to eat called La Choza which was AWESOME!!!!! We felt even better when the cruise director and his staff walked in after we did. Obviously, they knew it was great. Best Ceviche I have ever had. Best meal of the week. We did some shopping and got some Talavera Pottery for about half the cost as in San Diego.
Cruise Director- Richard Spacey is the funniest human being alive. I would go to the shows at night because he always started and ended the show with some funny thing. His 5 minute evolution of dance had me laughing so hard. Even my husband said "that dude is pretty hilarious". Seriously, he could have his own show. If you liked Benny Hill, you will love Richard Spacey.
Overall, it was an excellent trip. I would cruise Freedom again in a heartbeat. We are already looking at cruises next year to Alaska. I think my hubby is hooked!