My parents took the whole family on a cruise last week all 17 of us which leads to my title trip of a lifetime!! Really it was that because the family bonding was amazing and unforgettable! I would not trade it for anything, that being said I did find out on this trip my husband and I are not cruise people.
We sailed on Royal Caribbeans Freedom of the Sea's June 30 through July 7th.
I will start out with the PRO'S of the trip
1. The service staff is wonderful! It does not matter if its the servers in the main dining area, the windjammer buffet, bars, Chops, or the waiters walking around the pool with the daily drink, they are their to please you!! They do a wonderful job!! They work 8 months straight and they do not get a break for 8 months! The cruise unloads Sunday by 10 AM and the are re loading by 12 PM, they deserve major props, so do not forget to tip them extra on the last day!!
2. Our Jr. Suite was perfect we had one for us and one for our three kids they connected and they also connected on the decks so we had one big deck! The decks have 2 chaise longes and a table with 2 chairs! The beds in the room were comfy, and the room itself was nice size! I never felt claustrophobic.
3. Richard the cruise director and his staff go above and beyond to make sure the cruise is packed with constant activities should you choose to participate, activities for all age groups! If you can go to the Quest game show, its for adults only but its hilarious!!
4. Chops restuarant had the best steak I have ever had and I live in the mid west!! Its worth the $30 charge to go once during your trip!
Ok now for the CONS
1. Make sure you bring a power strip, your room only has two plug ins.
2. If you have a lot of hair bring a hair dryer the ones they provide are small and powerless and never really dry your hair all the way.
3. I never quite felt like our bathroom was clean, the shower had some mold, and the toilets are set up awful, you are constantly touching toilet parts because you have to lift the lid to go then shut it to push the flusher. I went through tons of kleenex so I did not have to use my own hands to touch that stuff all the time.
4. The Adventure Ocean daycare was probably the biggest disappointment for us.....We have a 7 year old and we would have like to utilize it more because it was a selling point of the trip, but its closed daily from 5 to 6:45. We did not have dinner until the 8 PM setting, so for us it would have been great to bring my daughter and drop her everyday at 4:30 and let her play until 6:30 then pick her up and get ready for dinner, I think they need to hire a couple more people so that instead of closing those hours the have more coverage and people can take the breaks the need. They need more coverage anyway because the three nights I did drop my daughter there there was 20 to 30 kids but only 2 people working. Also it was kind of stinky in there, they need to maybe change out the carpet or clean it better, but knowing how they have only 2 hours between voyages they probably do not have the proper time to clean. This bothers us a lot. Also there needs to be somwe kind of snack provided I understand kids have food allergies but there are gluten, peanut free crackers and cookies out there they could provide for the kids, they will not even let you leave a snack for your child. The tiemes my daughter was there she liked it ok, but she was never begging me to go back, so this again was a huge disappointment for us.
5. There is two soft serve ice cream machines on the pool deck, they reek like dirty cows!! We started smelling it about 2 days in after that I stopeed letting my kids eat the ice cream , if the machines smell that bad there has to be a problem!
6. The elevator service is extremely slow! If we were going downstairs most of the time I would just walk the stairs, but I have arthritis and going up 6 or so flights of stairs is hard on me. The elevators wait time on average was 3 to 5 minutes because sometimes they may come but they would be full so you might have to go through that a few times before one that was not full comes along. Also mid week they started smelling bad as well.
7. When you first get aboard the ship its crazy insane people everywhere, you are not quite sure where to go or what to do with yourself and most everyone else is like that too, so we went to our room to unpack and put our swimming suits on and go to the pool, well no luggage was delivered until 5:30!!! We got on the ship at noon, if we had our luggage we could have at least gone swimming. FYI on that note pack your swimming uit in your carry on bag!
8. Find out in advance how much they will charge your stateroom on the last day for tips!! For us it was $12 per day per person, thats fine but we had been tipping extra here and there all week. The only extra tips I would have given ahd I known that was to our main dining room staff, our valet, and if you get spa services I wuold tip them a little extra.. But I would not have been tipping on as many drinks as I did , or the other random tipping.
9. If you are a soda drinker do not get the soda pass, I repeat do not get it until you get on board and try the soda!!! Its disgusting, I am a huge diet coke drinker and I did get the soda pass in advance. Big mistake, it comes from a fountain and it does not taste like normal diet coke. Halfway through the trip I started drinking the cans in my mini fridge in the room, much better but they were 2.25 per can. I normally drink 4 diet cokes a day , that comes out to $63 dollars only 13 more than the soda pass, so please do not get that pass until you actually try the soda on the ship!!
10. On the first day they make these wonderful strong alchoholic drinks to try and get you to buy the alchoholic beverage pass, we did not buy the pass, but the drinks are very weak the rest of the cruise until the 6th day, then they make them strong again to get you to spend more money that last day!! They know exactly what they are doing and how to work people!
11. Have a alternate plan in mind just in case your excursion gets cancelled, we were scheduled to do the dolphin swin adventure in St. Thomas, but the ship arrived and hour late and since that was an all day excursion it got cancelled..
12. Coco Cay.....I do not have very many good things to say about it. To us its just another way for Royal Caribbean to profit. They won the island, they staff it with their people while we are there. My daughter wanted a bucket and shovel to build sand castles, it was 20!!!! These are not local people you can barter with this is royal C. making big time profits!Also my parents got 2 cabanas which were very nice, but all the cababnas except for two are not facing the nice beach, so I could not really enjoy the cabanas because I needed to keep an eye on my kids in the ocean.
Even with the negatives it was wonderful to spend time with my family and we still had fun, we just will not go on a cruise again.