This was our 4th RCCL cruise. We love Royal Caribbean.
The port at Miami is always exciting to go to - especially for first time cruisers. We have a place in Palm Beach so it is a hop skip and a jump to get there. Our primary home is in NY, so we stay in PB for a week prior to cruising. Getting on the ship was easy as we had printed our set sail passes, which we learned to do the hard way from our first cruise.
The ship .... It was very exciting to step foot onboard and I made sure it was I who had the first step on there. My kids weren't too humored. Too bad :)
While amazingly huge, we really weren't at all impressed with the decor. As a matter of fact, we were a bit disappointed (OK, I'm being nice - it was really disappointing). It was very high tech and futuristic and the art work hanging on the walls left some of our heads shaking. Voyager Class ships seem softer, classier, prettier.
OK, so that is the petty stuff ..... who cares about that, really. Just a matter of taste anyway.
We got onboard early and went to the Flow Rider. My husband and 16 y/o son had a blast on it. It wasn't crowded like it got once everyone was on the ship. People of all ages were on there having a great time.
The organized games are always a lot of fun for the more competitive athletes. My son and husband played Dodge Ball with a group of mostly men and some women. I think 15 is minimum age. These guys take this very seriously. My 19 y/o daughter and I sit and watch and have a lot of fun doing so. Our team won both times :-)
The shows were good for the most part. Ice Skating was awesome. Broadway hits was great, as always. The last show (last night) was a real bust. There was a comedian who was so awful I thought at first it was a joke. Then I saw people starting to walk out and realized it was really his gig.
Food ... as always was very average on Royal Caribbean. But that is fine with us as we don't come on here to eat. But trust me, we do (eat and eat and eat and eat). The morning pastries are always the best with breakfast and I always look for them with every Royal Caribbean cruise! We are o n deck 10 and I always walk the stairs all day and never take the elevator. It's a nice little work out especially when you get off the ship and have to walk from deck one. Helps with calorie burn. Didn't gain any weight and PIGGED out all week.
Service on the Freedom was pretty good. Head waiter only came around the night before tip night -- but that was the same with all the other cruises so it was expected, who cares.
Concierge's Lounge ..... This is always one of our favorite places to go. Although on the Freedom, the Concierge seemed like this was just a ho hum job and he would really rather be reading his paper. Martin (who I think is now on the Voyager) was wonderful and friendly and warm and sweet. This one was a disappointment.
Cabin..... we always stay in an Owners suite. This was really nice and larger than the voyager class ships. The balcony was gorgeous and very spacious.
Gym .... Big and great (and busy)
Ports .... we did a little different on this cruise.
Montego Bay ... was OK. A woman almost seriously got hurt when her ATV flipped on top of her. She had to be taken away in a jeep. My daughter's ATV broke down.
Mexico ... we did the 4x4 jeep tour with snorkeling, which was OK. The guys who ran it were tons of fun but where we went to was kind of boring. And the 'off road' part of the tour was a dirt path with big puddles, parallel to the road - - they take you off of the main road onto this dirt path and thru the puddles. You have to have a sense of humor about these things -- we were all excited about the off road part and when we saw what it was, we had to laugh.
Grand Cayman .. lovely as usual. We rented aqua boats which was fun and I bought (which I am still paying for), a Rolex. That came on the aqua boat with me, too! Those tour guides were a lot of fun too. If you do this tour, be careful getting back onto the aqua boat ... my husband lost his shorts getting back into the rubber boat!
Spa ... ahhhhh, what can I say, heaven. The only thing I can say is the girl who did my reflexology must have been new. She was young and all I heard was her flipping thru pages as she was working on me. Either she was reading a really good book or she was looking at some sort of manual. With how disjointed the hour went, I think it was probably a manual. I wanted to complain as it is costly. But haven't we all been there before -- new and learning? So I didn't make any calls. Had there been rudeness, well that is another story.
My massage another day was wonderful.
H2Zone ... didn't go near there as my kids are older, but it sure was pretty, especially at night.
Teen disco .... this year my 16 y/o son got the nerve to go alone. He said there were mostly Spanish people in there and since he didn't pay enough attention in Spanish class, he was not happy. So he left. There was a 15 year old birthday celebration for a bunch of Spanish girls having lots of fun.
Midnight Buffet .... mmmm this one was the best yet. Worth staying up for as my daughter and I always do.
Getting off the ship -- as easy as getting on. My only complaint? HATE TO GO! I look at the people getting on the ship wishing it were me.
All in All .... I do love Royal Caribbean, even though we have had some not so great experiences (one room smelled like sewage the whole trip on another voyager class ship and they did nothing for us).
The Freedom is a wonderful ship although going on a Voyager class doesn't feel so much different other than the slight increase in cabin size and the Flow Rider/H2Zone. Other than that, it is the same ship exactly.
Although the ship was brand new when we went on, it wasn't without its quirks. The lighting in our cabin was all screwed up, they were never able to repair it. Our toilet had to be repaired after it over flowed.The magnifying light for make-up never worked in our room. Our in-cabin speakers didn't work. And most frustrating of all? Our damn room key - ALL of our room keys ... you would use it once or twice and then all of a sudden it didn't work anymore. Not to open our door, to make purchases, to use the Internet - nothing. All of us were constantly at guest relations getting new keys, many times during each day! They even had someone come to the cabin to check the lock itself, to no avail.
Would we do Royal Caribbean again? You bet! As a matter of fact, we are on the Mariner in July. This time we are bringing my sister and her family. More teens for my son to go to the teen disco with and my sister's first cruise! We are very excited.
You WILL have a great time when you go on the Freedom!!!