We arrived at the pier around 12:20 and were on the ship by 1:00. Our cabins were ready so we dumped our carry-ons and headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. After lunch we strolled around the ship until just before 4:00. Headed back to our cabins to put on our life vests and wait for the muster drill. The muster drill went smoothly and we were back in our cabins within 20 minutes. We headed up to the pool deck for sail away. As only RCCL can do it - the sail away party began. They have a way of making your vacation start with a bang. We had early seating for dinner so we ran back to the cabin and changed for dinner.
The ship is just beautiful, and very big. The promenade is breathtaking and there is always something going on down there. We had a bon voyage parade on the first night around 11:15 and then another parade on the last night at 5:45. But don't worry - early diners will make it to dinner on time. The last day they had tons of food on the promenade and big sales on merchandise. Well worth the look. The pool area is very nice and we never had any trouble finding a chair. This was spring break and we had 700 children on board, 500 were teenagers. Surprisingly, this was not a problem. The kids were kept under control and everyone had a wonderful cruise.
The sports deck is not to be missed. The rock wall is huge and Freedom has the amazing Flowrider. It was fun to sit and watch the people wiping out. The main sports court is always busy. Basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, etc. If that doesn't get you - you can always play a round of miniature golf or try the golf simulator.
Be sure to take some time and walk around the stairwells looking at the artwork. This ship has by far the most beautiful and wide variety of artwork. But don't just look in the stairwells - the artwork all around the ship is amazing. Be sure to take a peek inside The Crypt (dance club) - it is a very unusual place.
The cruise director's staff keeps everyone busy. Belly Flop contests, etc. - my husband came in second place and received a silver medal. They have so many activities going on during the day that there are just too many to mention. The kids clubs were always busy. The only thing I would like to see is a better handling of the teen's club. My son is a bit on the shy side and they never tried to get him involved. I think they need to realize that not all of the teens are outgoing. He went to a teen dance one night and only stayed a short while before leaving with another boy that was also a bit shy. If they had noticed - maybe they could have gotten these two boys involved a little. Maybe something for RCCL to work on a little.
Service - the service on this ship is extremely good. I never saw an employee without a smile. They would go out of their way to help you with anything that you needed. I was truly impressed. Captain Eric Tengelsen has a wonderful personality and we enjoyed the few times we got to talk to him. We had rough seas pretty much all week and he would take the time to explain what he was doing to make it better. Clodagh O'Connor (Hello Clo) was our cruise director. She was so funny and full of energy. We really enjoyed her. She does a great job - one of the best cruise directors we have ever had.
Our stateroom was a balcony stateroom on deck 6. Our stateroom attendant was Jermaine from Jamaica. He was a sure delight. Our cabin was always spotless and if you needed anything - he was right there for you.
Dining - We had main seating dining. The food was always very good in the dining room and our waiter and assistant waiter were awesome. We truly enjoyed them. We could not have asked for better service. Dinner does run a bit slow but on a ship this size - I don't know how they could improve on that. The Windjammer is your typical buffet style but the food was very good. You would think on a ship with that many people you would have trouble finding a seat. Not the case because the dining officers were there to lend a hand. We ate at Portofinos one night and it was well worth the $20.00 pp. Our waiter Levin was awesome. He just couldn't do enough for you. The manager of Portofinos came to our table a few times just to make sure we were happy. I was very impressed.
Entertainment - The production shows were great and the ice show was truly fantastic. We had a magician on board and he was great. The late night comedian was very funny and the show is worth attending. The entertainer in the Bull and Bear Pub was fantastic!!! There was a female piano player in the piano bar and she was also very good.
San Juan, Puerto Rico - We were in this port from 3:00-11:00. We did the Fortifications Segway Tour. We had a ball! Natalia and Jose that run this excursion are great. We saw a lot of Old San Juan and even went to El Morro fort. This is one of the best excursions we have ever had. We walked around Old San Juan after the tour and did some shopping. This port has a lot of outlets (like Coach, etc) and good shopping.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - We were docked from 8:00-6:00. In this port we did the Turtle Cove Sail and Snorkel tour. We were on a pirate ship called the Doubloon. What fun! The crew of three was very professional and extremely funny. We saw lots of turtles and tropical fish. The snorkeling was good. I would definitely do this excursion again. After the excursion we walked around Havensight Mall, right at the pier, and the shopping was good.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - We were docked from 7:00-5:00. We did an excursion called Snuba and Snorkel Adventure. I would not recommend this excursion to anyone. In fact - I informed RCCL about the excursion and filled out a formal complaint. The boat seemed very unsafe and the crew pretty much ignores you. We were supposed to do three snorkel and snuba stops and really only did one. It was horrible. After we got off the little boat (which had 35 people on it) we ran back onboard and changed clothes. We headed back out to do a little shopping. We shopped at the pier first and then took the water taxi ($6 pp) into town. This is by far the best shopping area on this itinerary.
Soon it was time for the cruise to come to an end. We packed everything up and had our suitcases out by 11:00 (not midnight on this ship). Our scheduled disembarkation time was 6:45-7:00 and we were called at 7:05. Everything went smoothly.
I would definitely recommend this ship to anyone, young and old. We have done a lot of cruising and a lot of different ships but this one really stands out in beauty and service. You could never be bored on Freedom of the Seas.