Our family included myself, my husband, 6 yr old and 7 yr old boys.
We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach the night before the cruise and we didn't enjoy it at all. It was very loud all night and we were happy to leave as soon as we woke up the next morning. We ate breakfast on Miami Beach and had a wonderful time exploring South Beach for a couple of hours before heading to the cruise terminal. My husband dropped us off at the terminal and went to return the rental car. It took him about 30 minutes to get back. There were minimal lines for check in and most people were walking in the ship in a matter of minutes. Our gal seemed new and took quite awhile to get us checked in, but I think we were the exception.
We boarded the ship around 1 p.m. and looked around before heading to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was decent and everyone in my family was able to find something they liked. We found a table by the window and enjoyed our lunch before heading to our stateroom. We had a balcony room on deck 8 and we loved it. I was concerned about how small the room would be but it is set up so well that it wasn't a problem at all. We really enjoyed our stateroom and our balcony. We left the pullout couch as a bed the entire cruise and had no trouble moving around it. We used the gym twice and enjoyed it. Good equipment and fabulous view from the treadmills! We ran on the track twice and really liked this. Can there be a better view than the Caribbean sea all around you while you run? I've seen postings where people say that chairs were on the track and they couldn't use it, but that never happened to us, even when we wanted to walk in the middle of the day. We never felt crowded on the ship even though it was spring break and very full (except for the tender lines). We did have trouble finding chairs by the pool. Most of the chairs had people's stuff on them, but I never saw the people. That was disappointing but it certainly wasn't going to ruin our mood! The kids LOVED the H2O zone and the pool. It would get crowded but we never felt like there wasn't enough space to play. The kids loved the kids club. They never went for more than a few hours here and there, but it was just enough to give us all the separate time that we needed. The food on the ship was fine. I was pretty sick of it by the end of the week, but I think that's because it's just not the food I'm used to. But no complaints. We did end up eating in the Windjammer most of the time because the kids liked it so much and the main dining room took us almost 2 hours the first night. The food was very good but we wanted to do other things with our time. We were on the sailing that had the big norovirus outbreak but that's life. RCCL was scrubbing everything day and night to try to keep norovirus under control. Not sure there's much they can do. There is so much to do on this ship and we didn't have time to do most of it. But I think that's part of its charm - you can do as much or as little as you want to do. We enjoyed the sports deck and the pool area the most.
The service was good. Our stateroom attendant was excellent.
We enjoyed all of the ports. The days went too fast and we felt like we had to leave the ports before we were ready! Tendering would have to be my biggest complaint about the whole cruise, but still not that bad.
Labadee was absolutely gorgeous. The kids wanted to go to Luc's Splash, so we checked them in at 9:30 am as part of the kids club and picked them up at 11:30 for lunch. My husband and I then grabbed ourselves a Labadoozie (yummy rum drink) and went through a little of the market. We each brought $30 thinking there would not much we'd want to buy in Haiti. That turned out to be true, but I really wish we would have brought more. Not that the bargains were great or the items terrific, but these people live in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and you can tell they are working very hard. They were all very nice to us and my husband and I felt that if we go back, we want to spend more to help these people out. And you get a t shirt or some shells to take home as a nice souvenir. The beach was awesome. We went to a little cove under the zip line that was protected by a stone jetty. The jetty kept the waves out and the kids could swim around and play. We all really enjoyed this. Dragon's Breath Point is gorgeous. Well worth this short hike. We did the water park at 3 p.m. and there were only 2 other people there! Great time to go. We enjoyed the BBQ lunch. The food wasn't amazing but we still enjoyed it.
We didn't go to any shows or participate in the entertainment. We had planned to, but just never got around to it.
Disembarkation was a mess. Our assigned time was 6:30, so we got up early, got down to the royal promenade 15 minutes early as requested and waited. And waited... It wasn't the ship's fault. We heard that the custom's officials didn't get there on time. All of the later disembark groups were showing up even though the first ones hadn't gotten off yet and it was really crowded. When we did line up, the line was wound around several floors of stairs and across the Promenade. Coincidentally we had been sitting on the side that got us in line sooner which helped, but I felt bad for the people in the back. We were off the ship around 8 and then waited probably 45 minutes for our luggage. Again, I suspect it was because of the late start with immigration. People were really irritated but there's nothing you can do but wait. When our bags finally got there, a wonderful porter put them on a cart and we breezed through security. He took us to the spot where the Alamo shuttle comes and we waited for about 45 minutes. We double checked that we were in the correct spot and waited some more. One porter told us there were 5 ships in that day and Freedom is the last pickup spot. He said that the shuttle buses often fill up before they get to Freedom. My husband pointed out that all the people in line here would then be in line and Alamo and we'd have to wait again. Didn't sound very good after 3 hours of waiting already that morning. We decided to bite the bullet and get a taxi. It was $30 but well worth it. When we got to Alamo there was a very big line but no one at the self check in. We did this and had our paper work in 5 minutes. The big line had gotten even bigger and there were people crowded everywhere. My husband grabbed our car and we were off to Orlando!
Overall, we had an incredible time on Freedom. Sure there were a few frustrations and things that didn't go quite right, but that happens with any vacation and I felt like it never got in the way of having a good time.