First, a little about me. This was my 4th cruise and it was for my 50th birthday. We had a "hump balcony" room for DH and I and a promenade view room for my son and girlfriend. We are from Northern Virginia and have to fly to FL for Caribbean cruising.
We flew Air Tran Airways. Let me say that cheaper is not always better. I doubt I'd fly them again. They have the WORST customer service ever.
We got to Orlando and rented a car from Budget for the night. It's definitely the way to go. Much cheaper than hiring a cab or a driver and they don't charge more to drop off at another location. We took a leisurely drive to the coast and checked in at the Radisson Resort at the Port. It was a very nice hotel. The only thing I didn't care for is the "sleep number" beds. I'm just not a big fan of sleeping on a fancy air mattress. The beds were small and my husband liked filling the mattress up so I felt like I would roll off. It was also very nice to get up in the morning and see the ship in the near distance.
We dropped the car off at 10:30 am and were on the shuttle right away and on the way to the port. I believe this is the easiest and best managed port we've been to so far. When we got out of the shuttle, the porters were at the door waiting for our luggage. It was heaven.
We waited about 15 minutes and were starting to board by 11. We made it to the Windjammer by 11:15 and were exploring the ship by 11:45. Our room was ready promptly at 1 so I got to drop off my carry on and look at the view from our first balcony.
The first day at sea was so relaxing. We had a rather large M&M group and it was very nice to meet all of the people I had been talking to. One of our group had created a Facebook page, while another organized a slot pull after the M&M. All in all, it was very nice to meet all of them.
Must see for the Freedom is the Ice Show. It's amazing to see what these performers can do with such a small surface. The comedians were OK, not great. We don't do the production shows any more because they are normally all the same.
Richard Spacey is hysterical!! If you ever get a chance to sail with him, it's definitely worth the time. He has gathered a terrific staff and he seems to be everywhere. I did wonder when the man slept!!
I have one suggestion. I have already submitted this to Royal Caribbean. When we were leaving the ship on deck 4, my foot hit a slick spot and I landed squarely on my knees. I would like to make sure everyone is careful because I would hate to see someone get hurt badly, which could easily happen. Perhaps Royal Caribbean could invest in a waterproof cover of some type to put over the shuffleboard area. Apparently there was a slippery when wet sign that I missed.
Our first port was Labadee, Haiti, Royal Caribbean's private "island".
The beaches were nice, but nothing special. I was a little taken aback
by armed guards strolling around. We got off the ship for a couple
hours to see how construction was coming along. Dragons Breath Point
was the "must see" for the area and it was a nice hike to the top. Then
we looked at a couple of the little shops but people were so aggressive
that I just didn't want to look at them any more so we got on the
tender and returned to the ship for lunch. In the past, we've gone to
Cococay (the other private island). The lunch served is a barbecue.