Myself and my DS (14) left SC on Saturday morning and drove to Titusville where we stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites. Great hotel! The next morning we headed over to the Port. The Fairfield Inn offers a 40% off coupon for parking at the Port, so it was $9 per day. I know its more expensive than parking in a lot, but I preferred the convenience in this case. Got to the Port by 10 and were on the ship a little before 11. Smooth embarkation.
This was only my 2nd time on RCCL and my first time was for work. I can only compare to Carnival and NCL, but I absolutely loved the layout of the Freedom. The week was great, and as this was the biggest ship I've been on, it didn't seem overpopulated.
FOOD/DRINKS: We chose to do the MDR just one night (had MTD) and ate at the Windjammer and Sorrento's the other nights. We didn't do either of the specialty restaurants. We did Johnny Rockets one night and it was OK. I wasn't impressed with the sushi onboard; there seemed to have better selections of this on Carnival. We did breakfast via room service most mornings, so I can't comment on breakfast in Windjammer or the MDR. My DS had the soda package and towards the middle of the week, he got tired of hauling the cup around with him. However, they did still give him sodas as he had the Cola insignia on his Seapass. I did enjoy being able to get mimosa's onboard.
SHOWS: I did go to about 5 shows, which is more than I can say that I did on past cruises. Like others have said, the ICE Show is a must see! We both loved it! I also went to see the Illusionist (he was OK), Once Upon a Time (great!), Elvis Presley Tribute Band - can't remember the guy's name - it was fantastic! Saw the Farewell show (it was good). I usually got there about 20 minutes ahead of time, so was able to get a seat I wanted.
PORTS: We had perfect weather all week with the exception of Cozumel (last port day), where it rained in the afternoon. In Labadee, we explored the island, and DS did the Zipline, which he loved. He actually zipped down next to "Santa Claus"!! Didn't eat the BBQ, but went back to ship for lunch. In Jamaica we did the Dunn's River Falls Express. It actually turned into more of a 6 hour day than a 4 hour day, but we had a great time climbing the falls. We stopped off and had jerk chicken and a Red Stripe! Grand Cayman, we didn't have anything planned, so we tendered over and walked around a little bit; bought our souvenirs and headed back to the ship. Finally in Cozumel, we did the same - walked around a little bit, had nachos in a little restaurant so we could check emails on Wifi and then headed back to ship.
ROOM: I booked the middle hump cabin and it was a great location and a great room. My room steward, Heri, was fantastic. I know many have said the balcony sizes are the same for these cabins, but comparing them to Carnival, this balcony was humongous!! I asked Heri if he could bring me a lounger, which he did and that, with two chairs a table, fit nicely! I'm one of those that does spend a great deal of time out there.
KIDS CLUB: DS was in the 12-14 group and he had a blast and met some great friends. He did tons of organized activities (more so than on Carnival), including ice skating, rock climbing on the wall, flowrider. The "counselors" seemed to really have a handle on the kids and doing things they would enjoy. With that said, I didn't see too much of my DS all week with the exception of dinners and a few shows!
HOLIDAY: They had a bunch of nice decorations on the ship that reminded me it was the holidays. A huge tree was set up on the Royal Promenade and a gingerbread house neighborhood was set up in Windjammer. I also ordered a tree online before hand and it was in our room when we got there. Santa did have some presents for the kids but I didn't see that activity as we were headed to our excursion Christmas Morning.
BARS/LOUNGES: Nice variety of these. Enjoyed the Bull and Bear with the different varieties of beers, and as I mentioned above, I enjoyed being able to get mimosa's both in the Champagne Bar and Bull & Bear. I didn't frequent the Crypt so can't comment on the dancing, etc. I am not a late night partyer, so when the dancing and live music was going on, I was back in my cabin, so can't comment.
DEBARKATION: We weren't in any rush to leave, as I had planned to break up my driving with a stay in Savannah that night, so our number 26 was the last one called about 9:30. Lines moved VERY slow and I think we were in the car and on the road about 10:30.
MISC/FINAL THOUGHTS: I did see Man Of Steel in 3D in the Arcadia which I enjoyed. I am prone to motion sickness, so I took 1-2 Bonines per day and that helped a lot. I felt a lot of movement on Day 1 at sea, but other than that, it was quite comfortable. Kids seemed well behaved and there were a lot of them. All in all, this was our favorite cruise. It was a bit more expensive, with the holiday theme, but I feel confident I will be sailing RCCL again in the very near future!