The sea called . . .and we answered the call. We booked this 7-day cruise within a month from returning from a 4-day cruise in 2012.
After one cruise, you are able to join RC's Crown and Anchor Society, which gives priority boarding which went quickly and very smoothly. We headed to the Windjammer for lunch followed by exploration of the ship. All I could say was WOW when I got on that ship!!
Promptly at 1:00, we headed for our stateroom. WE HAD A Deck 6 BALCONY room!!! Loved it, will never want anything less again. The entire stateroom and balcony were nicely sized and very clean! High-sitting chairs would have been nice to be able to see over the railing, but definitely NOT a deal-breaker. We met our stateroom attendant, Ricky . . .quite a character and totally awesome! My husband has a C-pap machine and is diabetic . . .we made a "special needs" request for an extension cord and distilled water, plus cooling for his insulin. All were provided as per requested. Ricky is the BEST!!! Our room was tidy and clean twice a day . . . folks . . . give those stateroom attendants extra tips . . .they so earn them!
Tip: you can keep track of your on-board account through the television . . . use it! It helps you to keep track of your spending!!!
We ordered breakfast room service several mornings . . .so I could drink coffee on my balcony . . .have I said . . .I LOVED that balcony . . . it was my own quiet place. Other mornings and lunchtime were in the Windjammer . . .food was very good! We had a pop package last year . . .opted for the complimentary beverages this year. . .Ice tea is really good and I totally loved the Strawberry-Kiwi water. Dinner was in the main dining room each night (Simone and Norris were our servers) . . .food was excellent . . . service . . . the best!
Tip: on Deck 5 Promenade, there are two areas where the food is complimentary: Sorrento's Pizza and the Promenade Cafe (24 hours a day and it has coffee, too!).
Activities and Entertainment are plentiful . . .there is always something to do. We old folks usually went back to our room for an afternoon siesta (hubby slept . . I was on my balcony . . .did I say . . I LOVED that balcony?) Keep your "Cruise Compass" with you at all times . . . it is the paper you receive each night which give all pertinent ship information you need, as well as activities for the day. You will get a new one, for the following day, each night from your cabin steward.
Tip: Pre-register for the ice show . . . you get priority entrance. For all other shows, we came at least 15 minutes early and always found a seat with no problem. We loved ALL the shows . . .first rate!! OH! . . find Fritz from Filly (he's in the Schooner Lounge for trivia activities) . . .he is a doll!!! Adults Only: you've got to see "The Quest" in Studio B . . .OMGosh . . so funny!
We loved the adult-only pool and whirlpool area. There were over 1000 children on this cruise, and when I heard this, I thought I was going to be spending a lot of time in my room. . . not the case at all. RC provides this pool area and it was wonderful. There is a large-screen movie screen in the main pool area . . .we watched a couple movies . . fun!
Finances for excursions only allowed us to take one excursion and we chose the Tulum Mayan Ruins in Mexico. Totally awesome time . . . worth it! I hated the bus ride, but it is what it is . . .the ruins made up for it. Make sure to take water . . . it was quite hot. Tip: we paid the $2.00 (round trip) to take the tram from the parking lot to the ruins and back. Watch it, there are people everywhere ready to sell you everything.
Tip: Bargain with all the locals at each port . . .they will lower their price considerably if they think you're going to walk away. I was able to negotiate half off on most things I bought.
Tip: There is a day (Day 7)which has a t-shirt sale (2 for $20). . .so don't feel you need to spend a lot for t-shirts at ports, UNLESS, you really like the t-shirt. They are basic shirts . . .but GREAT for gifts. They have a shirt with each port you visited.
Tip: Port days, if you decide to stay onboard (we shopped a bit and went back to the ship). . . the ship is so quiet. We enjoyed it.
Finally . . .the service: it is GREAT, FANTASTIC, WONDERFUL, AWESOME, GREAT!!! Richard (cruise director) and Jami (assistant to Richard) are sweeties. You never know where they will pop up (one day it was IN the pool with their suits, and I don't mean bathing suits). Wherever you are, whatever you do . . .you will find the crew will bend over backwards to help or answer your questions. I did not come across a single crew member without a "good morning, afternoon, evening" and a smile. Royal Caribbean advertises friendly people and they certainly are.
I cannot think of one thing that would every make me stray from Royal Caribbean. Granted . . . I have not cruised with anyone else, but I'm happy where I am, so I will stay. Loyalty gets you reward, too . . . we were upgraded from a Promenade Inside to a Balcony room (no extra charge) . . . and I was totally stoked with that upgrade! Again, second cruise, so I don't have much experience, but I am one happy camper . . . or should a say cruiser.
You will not be disappointed with Royal Caribbean . . . at least Freedom of the Seas . . . and I would not hesitate to cruise with them, on any or their ships at this point. I feel the value-for-the-money is there. There new advertisement is: "Prepare to be WOWED". . . I was!!