Embarkation: We drove to the port, dropped our luggage at valet, quickly found a park in the garage and started the registration process around 11:45 AM and were on board by noon. A quick, efficient check in process. Public Rooms Royal Promenade - wide walkway with lots of fun shops and activities. Ben and Jerry's Ice cream… delicious with lots of choices of flavors and toppings. A beautiful deep dark blue Morgan sits near Vintages Wine Bar. There is Sorrento's Pizza and the Promenade Café where you can grab a sandwich, pizza or "sweet" all for no fee and from early in the day to late in the evening. Many other stores, a barber shop and the Bull and Bear Pub where you can listen to live music and have refreshment. Deck 14 you will find panoramic views… and awesome setting in the daylight to watch the world (sea) go by… and at night the lighting is dramatic, sexy and beautiful with live music. On Deck 4 is Boleros Latin Bar… a small bar with additional chairs and couches to sit and listen to Latin Music… and anytime the live music is playing you generally will find dancers on the small dance floor. Just beyond Boleros you will find the Casino Royale. Fun art figures welcome you as you enter. There are a number of tables and lots of slot machines. Also a bar is in the Casino which made some friends with us happy because they could smoke there with the exception of Formal Night. Forward of the Casino is the Schooner Bar. A nice sized bar and also a large area with comfortable chairs and tables and a piano where there was often someone playing the piano. On deck 3 is the "On Air" with a number of televisions and a bar… it is just before the entrance to the Ice Center. There are many other bars and public areas… too many for me to mention and are covered by other contributor's reviews…. The ones discussed here we were most impressed with and spent more time enjoying. ART Thorough-out the ship you will find various forms of art. We enjoyed the photos in the stairwells, when walking the stairs it was nice to stop and read the plaque's giving the background of the photo. There are three full sized traffic signals in the aft end of the Promenade near the elevators. In the forward end of the Promenade there are planes (paper, probably) hanging from the ceiling, very impressive. Speaking of elevators…. There are a number of glass elevators that give you a wonderful view of the atrium art and the Royal Promenade. Appreciation of Art is very subjective, we find the Art on the Freedom interesting and plentiful.
Our Cabin: We were on deck 6 and in what is known as a "hump" cabin. The room was long and narrow with very little room to walk around the foot of the bed. There was adequate storage/hanging space for two people. The balcony was small but very nice, jutting out so we could see the water and look back at other Cabins. We had a refrigerator. The bathroom had limited shelf space and small shelves behind the mirror on one side only. The shower had two small, rounded doors to close and was small but not uncomfortable for a rather large man.
Ports: Labadee, Haiti: (tender) Lots of construction, but it did not interfere with passengers. The dock is being built as are additional facilities such as restrooms. There are so many activities… it is hard to get all you want done in the time available. The Haitian Market is very interesting. We found the workers polite and friendly… and yes, they were trying to sell their wares but were not offensive. Lunch was delicious and so many venues we did not have a long line. We also appreciated the "Trams" that went back and forth the length of the area. The water is beautiful, the colors so vibrate!
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: (docks) we were very pleased to note changes since we last visited this port. They have cleaned up the road from the pier and there are obvious local authorities that are friendly and assuring no problems. We went to the Taj Mahal and wandered around, did a little shopping then back to the Island shops right at the entrance to the Port, where there are a number of shops, entertainment and a couple of places to eat or have a refreshment.
George Town, Grand Cayman: (tender) we have visited this port for years so made the decision not to "do" the tender, there were four or five other ships in and we decided to stay on-board and enjoy a "rather" empty ship. Cozumel, Mexico: (docks) we had just been to this port a couple of weeks earlier so did not leave the Pier area. We did some shopping for gifts, had a bite to eat at the restaurant at the Pier and then re-boarded the ship.
Entertainment: The most fantastic entertainment was the Ice Show; we went twice to the same show. The Production shows were also very good but since we cruise so often we had seen both several times. Our enjoyment comes from seeing different performer's delivery. There were Comedians, two we really enjoyed. It is a challenge to provide humor that isn't offensive to parents and yet funny for adults, it amazed us that two were able to accomplish that. The live music offered in various venues around the ship were diverse, offering something for everyone and we thoroughly enjoyed. The fellow playing a guitar and singing in the Bull and Bear was particular good and played after 10 PM.
Dining: We had requested a small table and were very happy to find we had a table for two in the Leonardo's dining room on deck 3. We were very pleased with the service personnel. We were also very impressed with the breakfast service. Each morning we were greeted by a "line" of service personnel who greeted us with a smile and a quick seating at a table. The food was the "standard" we have come to expect. That means the "gourmet" would be disappointed, we imagine, but we do not expect that quality in this venue. We find the Head Waiters do an excellent job of managing the dining rooms, whether they are your assigned Head Waiter or not. We had a wonderful meal in Portofino's. We each had the beef. We ordered "medium well" which Chef's hate to hear… and yet it was so tender and delicious! Oh and the desert, awesome! We had one "sampler" and one Tiramisu.
Officers, Staff, Crew and Passengers We found the Captain of this ship to be one of the Best of the Best. He did an excellent job on the Public Address system, spoke to passengers as he moved around the public areas and did an excellent talk at the Captain's Party as well as the "repeaters" Party. We were amazed at the respect shown by each and every employee we spoke to when it came to the Captain. This was true also for the Hotel Director. We met him and he was gracious and made us feel he really cared about the passengers, his staff and the ship. We met so many of the Staff, Officers and Crew who were friendly, competent and completely focused on delivering the RCCL marketed "wow"… and we think they did. We were also pleased with our fellow passengers. There were a large number of children; all we saw were well behaved with parents who made sure the children were having a good time, but not at the expense of other passengers. We met several new "friends" at Trivia and other Activities provided by the Activities Staff.
The Concierge Lounge and Diamond Lounge: Both of these had excellent presentations of "goodies" in the morning and in the evening. Both Concierges' were friendly, polite and professional. Disembarkation: We did the Express luggage service. The ship was cleared by Immigration and Custom was ready for us by 7:00 AM. We had cleared and were in our vehicle by 7:20 AM and headed on our way home. It couldn't have been easier! Overall we had a fantastic time with not one "bad" experience. This very large ship is able to deliver warm, personal, friendly service and yet with the advantage of having a large number of venues and wide selection of activities that only a large ship can offer.