We decided to cruise on Freedom after reading the excellent reviews and mainly because it had a pool for toddlers in swim diapers. This is an amazing ship no doubt but there were a few issues from our perspective ( family with a young child).
We cruised with my parents and dh and ds. We have cruised Royal before, Celebrity and Princess. We booked a pre-cruise night and transportation to the ship with RCCL and stayed at the Westin Coral Gables which was a nice hotel but in a run down area ( effects of the economy these days). This all went well with no hassles at all.
Embarkation day was a nightmare! It almost made me not want to go. Long waits, pushy people and no access to the rooms till 3:30pm. Packed Windjammer and no bags till after dinner ( when my son goes to sleep so we unpacked in 10 minutes or less). i understand there was a noro virus on the last cruise and know they need to clean well but with a toddler who needed a nap and a change of clothes it was a tough experience.
The food on the ship was great. Definitely better than on the Caribbean Princess 2 years ago. Slightly less good than on Celebrity but most things were delicious! Something I didn't know was that the buffet food is almost the same as the dinning room at dinner. Good to know with young kids who can't sit for more than 20 minutes that you can still eat well but not feel the need to take an hour or more to do it.
The pool areas are great- never crowded even on the sea days. The baby splash zone is a great idea - they really make sure it is just for the swim diapered and my son had it to himself most of the time.
There is so much to do on the ship we were never bored. The gym was amazing and never crowded. My husband climber the rock wall, we played on the basketball court, watched the flow rider and much more. I don't like the Western Caribbean itinerary as much as the Eastern but that might just be me. The day in labadee was great and my son loved the beach.
The Fisher price baby play program could stand some improvement. they bring out some toys and let your child play. That's better than nothing but it could be more structured. They hand out a card the night before and the toys they bring don't always match what is advertised. Poorly organized and very dependant on the staff member who operates it how much they will interact with your child.
Shows were way better than the last time I cruised with RCCL. Great magic show, Once Upon a Time show and farewell show. The cruise director is great. My son loved the shows when they were early so he could stay up to see them.
Disembarkation- also really stressful, pushy people, long lines crying child you get the idea. Not RCCL fault but there are a lot of people to get off the boat!
Overall a great boat for those with young families Travelling with a toddler was a challenge but fun. When he clapped at the ice show and said 'oh wow" everytime someone skated by I knew it was all worth it in the end. Great ship, great cruise line - Have fun!