I booked our cruise online & everything went smooth & easy. We live near the Port of Miami so did not stay in any hotels. We arrived very early at the Port about 8:00 am but were able to check our luggage right away without any problems. Embarkation was very quick and easy and we were on the ship by 11:25 am. What a beautiful ship Freedom is. It definitely has that WOW Factor! The first thing that we did was buy our soda packages and go to the Windjammer. Since we were early, there were not any lines and we breezed right thru. After lunch we met up again with one of our cruise critic members and went in search of a TV to watch our Dolphins play. We found the game in the On Air Club. These are my only two complaints from the entire cruise. One the TV kept losing signal even though we were still in port and the bartender had the worst attitude of any staff member I have ever encountered on an RCCL ship. Muster Drill was typically uncomfortable and Sail Away was fun as usual.
Our cabin was in a great location and had as much space as we needed. We never had any problems with noise or movement. Our Steward was also wonderful!
Due to weather from Hurricane Ike we missed our stop in Puerto Rico, but the Captain did a great job of keeping us out of the worst weather. The only excursion that we had booked thru RCCL was for San Juan so we can't comment on this. We booked private excursions in both St. Thomas and St. Martin and can recommend both highly.
Meals in the main dining room were just not as good as my last RCCL cruise however, my DH absolutely loved the lamb dinner one night, but all of our wait staff was wonderful as usual. We used room service on three occasions and were impressed each time with both the promptness and quality of the food. Johnny Rocket's was good and it's very nice to sit outside on deck and enjoy some simple American comfort food while listening to the sound of the ocean going by. Sorrento's pizza we found to be surprisingly good for pizza on a ship. I can't say enough good things about Chop's; from the food quality to the service we found it worth every bit of the $25.00 surcharge. Our only regret is that we went on a port day and not a sea day which is how it will be next time.
As far as entertainment, we only went to the ice show and there seemed to be a problem with the ice as it was all watery and slushy and there were quite a few falls, but the skaters still gave it their all and kudos's to them for their efforts. As far as the bars go, the Bull and Bear Pub can't be beat. It is smoker friendly inside. The performer is top notch and the service was friendly. The only down side is that the chairs aren't very comfortable for an extended stay. This was our favorite meeting spot for our cruise critic group and what a great group they were. What a highlight of our cruise.
Disembarkation was quick but painfully because we were leaving such a great ship! Would definitely cruise on her again if she were staying at the Port of Miami!