I am thirteen, but I will put away any bias to other cruise lines I may have and tell you the facts... This ship had its pros and cons, so I would like to state each thing separately, and if you are a kid (or parent) looking at reviews to see how it is for kids, I'll state my ideas on that first... the rest of the ship's review will follow.
KIDS/KIDSCLUBS- Let you teenager be independent! Let me just tell you my parents did want family time (understandable) or asked me to come back after an hour or so. Trust me, some parents (my mother included) are like "But.. But". Just take my word, if your kid wants to be with his friends let him/her go with their friends, they won't be alone and on a cruise like their will always be somebody there (not saying staff members being attentive, just cause the cruise is kinda packed). My little brother was scared to go to the adventure ocean kids club, but I have to admit when he did he never wanted to live. Downside though, they have them in More
intervals, so your kid is there for 2-3 hours then you have to pick them up for an hour or so before they start the next interval. Some parents are like that's not too bad... FAMILY TIME!!, but my brother did get sad when he had to leave (at east they all met at the pool). Anyways, the kids club for 12- is good I didn't visit, but from what I saw it was fun (starts at 10, closes at 10). Now, onto the teenagers "Living Room" I made friends pretty quickly because I'm social and there were many 13 and 14 year olds. Don't worry about the whole 13 year olds can meet up with 17 year olds thing, there are separate activities for 12-14,15-17, and even when there weren't any activities planned at certain times the older kids stayed in one side of the room while we stayed in the other, by choice of course. We (the 12-14 age group) got the side with the counselors so we were being watched, but they were fun and cool to talk to. Beware! make sure you as a kid or you as a parent tells your kid that when the counselors are gone, everything is locked, so if you want to play a game or have a drink, you have to leave. Here are some cons of the Living Room (besides the one I just stated): It is kind of small, enough to fit a group, but it did seem crowded at times, everything was unorganized and things started earlier and later then planned and I missed out on some of the best things (flowrider challenge, rock climbing challenge, pool volleyball, but on I was with friends talking and going all over the ship, so... but still), and the activities were a little basic and didn't attract kids sometimes. I give the kids clubs a B+. But, other than that the cruise was lacking for things to do for kids and by day four I was bored, and the "ice cream" was really non-fat frozen yogurt (frozen yogurt is like non fat ice cream itself, so basically no fat, no calorie ice cream) but I liked it. Overall for kids I give the cruise a B-.
Embarkation- What a mess! Even with online check-in we didn't get on for 2 1/2 hours. My dad pointed out everything was run by seniors (no offense, just saying) and I agreed the port needed some younger workers to boost efficiency. Anyways, the guy we had took forever, same with everyone, the lady at the security check made us take our sleeping sisters out of their walkers (FUN!), the cabin wasn't ready at the time it was supposed to be, we got our luggages at different times and way later in the evening. The overall experience was really bad, and the mess at the windjammer didn't help. Get there early, and not 9 am early, because look how it turned out. Also, be aware that your kids might get hungry and even though you can't bring any food or drinks past security you can buy things at the vending machines.
Public Rooms- I'm assuming this section are all the places you can visit on the ship. I got to say, it was impressive the things they had on the ship. The kinks just weren't worked out. First of all, (cue sarcasm) "Wooooooo! time for the flowrider... let's go wait in a 25 minute line, wipeout in 5 seconds, and have to wait 25 more minutes" The flowrider seems to be a very big attraction on RCCL, but that's the thing everyone wants to go there, and the lines are usually long, the times are irregular, and it isn't easy. The rock climbing thing (The Wall) was rarely open and every time I went there like "Sorry, you're late..." and I'm like "can't you just make this one exception, you're just going to stand there anyway and do nothing." After I offended them once, who do you think they remembered and gave rolling eyes to every time I passed. The casino attracted many people so I guess it could have been cool. Many things to do for older people. Let me just say it THE SHIP IS A RETIREMENT HOME!!!!!! Not to offend anyone, but there were old people everywhere, and many gave rolling eyes to the family with 4 kids talking up "their ship" and making noise. Anyways, the public rooms were well maintained but highly overrated.
Ship Quality- The ship was well maintained, there were stains on some floors and carpets and dirty spots here and there. I have to say it was embarrassing entering the FOTS when the Disney fantasy is right next to us with people painting and cleaning the side of the boat. The exterior isn't super, but when you have a white boat, it happens. But, there was gum and cigarettes on the floor and staff neglected to pick any up
Stateroom Quality- Okay, I didn't like my stateroom. It was a super small "LARGE" Oceanview Stateroom. There were 7 in our party so 4 were in a large family oceanview stateroom (which was large, but it was at a corner, so my parents and sisters got extra square feet. There were stains on the floor, the attendant wasn't attentive and when we have the do not disturb on he comes anyway. (I liked to put it up because it was embarrassing how three boys kept there room, when all they wanted to do was get up and leave in the morning. So, yeah he saw our clothes and underwear and things like that.... AWKWARD). All I can say, is if your deciding a stateroom pick it on the aft of the ship. We made the dumb decision of having a forward stateroom and like I mentioned we had a CORNER forward stateroom. I probably lost 5 pounds walking every day. Everything is located on the aft (the pools, the food, the kids clubs, etc.). If you are a little older and like the spa and things it's on the forward side, but really do you want to do extra unneeded walking. Oh, and the bathrooms, horrible! The toilet backed up... on the whole floor, for a full day and the shower was like I don't a ruler's length, and the shampoo and things they give you...GARBAGE... bring your own stuff. Best advice I could give. Overall the stateroom gets a C-.
GYM - The gym was nice, had lots of things. Boxing rink, other things I don't know the names of because there was so many to name. There was also a separate kids-only gym. Small, but it's not like the whole population of kids on the ship is going to visit a gym.
FOOD - I survived off of water and hamburgers. (I'll explain in the worth the money spent part of my review). The windjammer and jade (buffets of ship) had things I never even heard of, I'm open to new foods but sheesh is it supposed to taste like frozen. The dining room.... went there one night! We had Leonardo's (I don't know how the others compared), but it was super slow service, took 30 minutes for appetizers, by then were starving, entrée comes 20 minutes later... and the food was horrible... There was no chance we could give it there are like 6 things (literally) on each menu which weren't appetizing. We opted to the buffet for the rest of the trip. I was disappointed with the food, and with all the walking and low calorie everything on the ship... pounds were lost. Trying not to gain weight on a ship... RCCL is your ship. I know I'm making it sound horrible that we didn't gain weight, but when you start losing them, you know something's wrong (especially on a cruise ship). Oh, and the buffet closes at 9 pm, so you will have to deal with room service.. If you don't mind waiting 45 minutes for a hamburger (there isn't a menu in the cabin for room service, so just try your luck and if they ask you "Really?! we're room service not the buffet" (which happened to me) just state that maybe if you had a menu you wouldn't ask such (cue sarcasm) preposterous requests). Be prepared to tip, that's all they ask, especially on the last day.
Entertainment - I did not go to any performances because most were adult only, others were not kid appealing, and the ones my friends went to were called lame. My parents went to a performance and they said it was overacted and left after ten minutes. They did have puppet shows for little kids, which I attended with my little sister, we both loved it (I loved it, because it wasted 45 minutes that I wouldn't have been able to waste otherwise). You know something's wrong when you are on a cruise ship and you're doing things to "waste" time. Average and mediocre in a kids perspective, but hey many adults loved dressing up and watching the performances.
Service - Bad! Except for a few that genuinely appreciated the passengers. All of which, were found in the windjammer. surprised? Most of the hardest working and warmest people were at the buffets. There were four people in particular. The guy who greeted you at the windjammer always had a crazy hat on and music playing and encouraged people to dance with him. I had a dance party with him and my friends in front of the whole windjammer it was awesome! There was another guy who I noticed was always my waiter no matter where I sat, he would always be the person getting our drinks and cleaning our tables, and would always greet me with a big smile when he was me. The other two are people who we saw constantly and would always stop and play with the little ones and talk to us. Really nice! Focus on the few that were nicer on this cruise, and you'll get past the rude remarks of other staff members.
Value for Money: Oh no! People would say wow this cruise is cheap compared to other ships. Then you leave the boat spending about 2-3 thousand dollars more. They pinched their money on this cruise, they would make you sign things and get stuff without you even knowing it paid. My mom and dad both got freshly squeezed orange juice, and guess what showed up on our bill 10 dollars worth of juice. You have to pay 50 dollars (each cup) for the soda package. First of all, the cup holds like 12 ounces and is finished by them time you get to where you want to go. Also, there are only like 4 soda machines on the whole ship, most sodas were stale. My family on bought one for all of us. So yes I survived off of water I did say earlier, and the titles of the juice given complimentary are labeled water. Lemon-lime water, Kiwi Water, Fruit water. We saw them make their special 85% water-juice at CocoCay (RCCL Private Island), when given the complimentary lunch. Their private island is trash, but compared to the other ports it was the "cleanest" and be prepared with cash because it's cash only on everything.
Shore Excursions - Didn't do any. No rating or review.
Overall - This ship was okay for kids. Many things to do, but if you don't have friends the time of the cruise would seem forever. For older couples, solo riders, or families with social teenagers this cruise may be good for you. But, just know that things didn't go exactly the way the website said. I did enjoy the ship though, and it wouldn't have been memorable if not for the special friends I made in the ship. I still get post-cruise anxiety from missing them so much. I know it was a bit lengthy, but it was honest, and please excuse any spelling or grammar errors, I was typing very quickly to keep my train of thought. I did forget some things, but what you read were some goods and bads of the trip. Thank you for reading! :) Less
Freedom of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean