We arrived at the port around 11:30 am, after hearing from CruiseCritic.com that waiting until the Royal Caribbean suggested time of 1:30 would be TOO late! I am glad that we arrived earlier! Check-in was smooth, lines of no more than 20 people in front of us. The people were friendly and directions were easy to follow. We boarded the ship around 12:15 or so and ended up eating at the Windjammer around 1:00. It was very crowded, and that stayed that way all week in the Windjammer. It was my least favorite place to eat on the ship, but sometimes it was just the most convenient.
The Muster drill was long and annoying to stand in these little groups in lines. However, we realize it was needed and were happy to not have to wear the life-jackets!
We loved our room! It was a Junior Suite on the "hump." Our Stateroom attendant was great! The room had a bathtub, a large closet, generous sized balcony. It was mostly soundproof. The one thing that we couldn't figure out was how to hear the announcements in our room, I think the speaker was broken - so I had to pop my head out the front door to hear the announcements. Other than that, we loved our room and balcony. We watched sail-away from several ports from our balcony rather than from on the top deck.
We didn't feel crowded on this ship with the exception of trying to get the first tender, and sometimes on the elevators. A few times on the Promenade it was also crowded. But overall, we were always able to find a place to relax, sit and enjoy ourselves. Finding a seat in Windjammer was the hardest!
We didn't participate in all the activities, but the ones we did were great! I loved the 70's Dance Party, Love and Marriage Game Show, TV Trivia in the Schooner Bar, and other fun random events. The cruise director is fantastic! He is hilarious and quite the entertainer!
Ok - on to food! Windjammer was mostly ok. On our first night we were pretty tired, so we ate a later dinner in the Jade section. We had a Thai Coconut Curry soup that was one of the best things we ate onboard! Most of our meals in Windjammer were ok, they filled you up but weren't the best thing ever. Breakfast was our favorite meal to eat there. The Dining room we had very good food for dinner and one breakfast. I think we were only disappointed in one or two things (onion soup, cheesecake.) I loved Cafe Promenade and Sorrento's. Both had great service and food. Our favorite meal on the ship was our one night at Chop's. Best food and service by far! We thought the $25 was definitely worth it. We only ordered room service once, it was the Express breakfast. Soggy bacon, fruit that tasted like an old refrigerator.
We went to most of the bars. Our favorite was the Sky Bar on deck 12, Schooner's on deck 4 and Bolero's on deck 4. We also enjoyed being in the Connoisseur Club. The host in there was excellent, and it had a very nice atmosphere. It was very well ventilated for being a cigar club. Our least favorite bar was in the Casino. Drinks seemed weak there.
Overall service was also great. I had only one encounter with a person in Guest Relations that I deemed as rude. My card had been deactivated, and he chastised me for keeping it next to other magnetic items. I mentioned I hadn't, and he pointed at my camera. I didn't realize it would do that and he told me not to keep it next to it anymore. I didn't really have another place to put it, but I felt he was condescending. We also tried to sign up for an exploration, but the one we wanted was sold out. We asked for suggestions, and the person seemed to have no clue about what was available. All other personnel we encountered were fantastic. Jen, the shopping consultant on board was fantastic! She went out of her way to get me a bag that I was interested in and to find me to inform me where it was located. All the activity staff were friendly and accommodating. Food service, retail, photographers, and the rest of the staff were very helpful and polite.
The ship itself was beautiful! We did get lost a few times, but we loved the large variety of places to go and things to do. The decor was gorgeous. It was a very smooth sailing, except for the leg home when we went through some storms. But overall, the motion was a lot less than I expected. We had a great and relaxing vacation on the Freedom of the Seas and hope to return again someday!
*There isn't a Labadee Haiti on the Port Reviews - so I'll add it here. Rating - 3. We got off on one of the first tenders. It was a long, and hot wait on Deck 2. However, when we got off we were able to get one of the cabanas that will later be for concierge guests only, so we were happy! The water is beautiful and it is relaxing. However, that is all there really to do on Labadee. There isn't much shopping and the only food/drink is all Royal Caribbean. The lunch was so-so and the line to eat was very long. We had to wait for drinks when we got there because the bars weren't set up yet. We headed back to the ship around 12:30 pm because there really wasn't much to else to do!