My husband and I (late 40s) along with our two teenage sons traveled on the Freedom during President's week to the Western Caribbean. This was our fourth cruise. We had a D1 ocean stateroom and the boys had an inside cabin across the hall on the 9th floor.
We arrived at the ship at 11:30 a.m. and were on board by noon. Embarkation was very quick and organized. We were asked if any of us had suffered from an intestinal problem in the prior couple of days before coming onto the ship. (We hadn't.) We had lunch in the Windjammer and explored a bit before heading to our staterooms at 1 p.m. The ship is incredible in every way. Lots of families on board this week and I found out from an RCCL employee there were 1,100 kids on the cruise (the majority teenagers). Considering how many kids were there, they were well behaved!
We went to Paradise Beach on Cozumel and the facilities were fine and we didn't feel crowded even though we were the third ship in the harbor. It was a $13 taxi ride each way.
Grand Cayman was the next stop. We were the fifth ship to arrive. When we got to Sea Grape Beach on Seven Mile Beach, it was jammed like sardines. We were literally towel to towel on the beach. Way too many people in one spot. $5 per person taxi ride one way.
Next was Montego Bay. We went to Doctor's Cave Beach which again was fine, but did fill up later in the a.m. The guys on the beach though said by 2 p.m., everyone leaves to head back to the ship.
The next day was Labadee. Finally, a place that could handle all of us without feeling crowded! There was a barbeque lunch on the island and plenty of chairs at several beaches.
The days at sea (Monday and Saturday) were the best because of the ship. There were so many things to explore and try. The highlight was definitely the Flow Rider and that's where we could always get a seat and have a good time watching everyone try it (including us). As far as trying to get a lounge chair in other parts of the ship, there were few to none available. We could always, however, get a chair on our balcony! The cantilevered hot tubs were a great way to end the day.
The food was best we have had on a cruise ship and we didn't go to any of the specialty restaurants. The entertainment was fine -- lots of singing and dancing -- and we did not go to the Osmond Brothers show (little Jimmy Osmond with gray hair would make us feel too old) but heard that it was good. We went to the ice show Wednesday p.m., as there wasn't a regular show that night. It was excellent.
We did the self disembarkation and were off the ship and through customs in 10 minutes. We would definitely do that again.
The ship and the staff were the best. We booked for the Liberty (Freedom's sister ship) next week President's week as we decided that we didn't care much for the ports (and we had been to all them before) but really enjoyed the amenities the ship had to offer. The Liberty has 3 1/2 days at sea and heads from Miami to San Juan, St. Maarten and Labadee.