This is a review of my Nov. 15/09 Western Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas. I am a 62 year old female who was travelling solo since neither DH nor friends wanted to go. I did as I had seen a tv program about the ship & wanted to try it. This was my 12th cruise overall, 3rd solo & 2nd on RCI. I ended up having a promenade cabin 6629 & really enjoyed it plus got it for a good price . The trip began with a late night flight to Orlando where I stayed at the Hyatt Regency, right in the airport which was very handy for catching the ship's shuttle (prebooked) the next morning around 11:30. I arrived at the ship at about 12:30 to long lines but they moved along okay so I was onboard when the rooms were available, dropped off my carryon ,checked out my cabin then went to get my dinner arrangements changed from anytime to 1st seating, large table. I was so happy to get a nice table for 10 near a window. I then went to the Windjammer for lunch which was quite nice. I tried the honey stung chicken some rave about but found it dry.
After lunch I wandered around a bit, bought a Pina Colada, used my $5 coupon for the internet, booked a dinner at Portofino then went back to the cabin where I met my steward Carleton. After the drill ( no life jackets needed) I continued exploring the ship & watched the flowrider demonstration. When I returned to my cabin to get ready for 6:00 pm dinner my suitcase had not yet arrived. Went up to the dining room, sat at table 261 & waited for the others to come. We had a nice mix ~ a couple from Ireland, 2 widows from GB, 2 American couples & me from Canada. We all got along very well during the week & enjoyed each other's company. The only thing is a table for 10 is too big to hear all the conversation. I had the much recommended on CC vidalia onion tart, prime rib & strawberry meringue.I had to hurry out of the DR to catch the show. Our CD was Richard Spacey who I'd heard so much about ~ he was great!! Hit the casino for $10 worth then went back to the cabin where TG the luggage had arrived. Emptied the suitcase then headed out for Bingo ($40 machine !). I met a German woman by the computer room, started talking then we went to the parade together plus bumped into each other quite a few times during the cruise. I checked out my account on the tv in the cabin to make sure I'd gotten all my OBC.
Monday Nov 16 ~ day at sea Had breakfast in the Windjammer then went to the shore excursion desk to book the Atlantis submarine in Cozumel which hadn't been available online.. I tried out my netbook in the cabin but couldn't figure out how to sign up for a package. Went for our M&M at 10:15 at the Olive or Twist where I met some of the fun people I'd been chatting with on the roll call. We each got a RCI cardholder/pen & paper item. Headed down to the promenade to check it out. Got an airbrushed tattoo which I really liked. Met my new friend & we went to the DR for lunch. Tried the salad bar which was quite amazing. The salad was bigger than my lunch but both were good. When I returned to my cabin the Red Velvet cupcakes & RCI bag I had ordered were there. I had gotten a ticket to the 3 pm ice show so headed down there at 2:30. It was amazing!! I went to the Bingo ($32) then bought postcards to send from Hell plus bought myself some roses from the flower cart.. Got ready for the Captain's dinner where I ate orange carpaccio, pear soup, roast duck then Cherries Jubilee. The "doctor" brought after dinner drinks in a cute shooter glass I couldn't resist so bought one. Went to meet the Captain, then to the show featuring Drew Thomas who had been on America's Got Talent. Met up with my new friend & went to the Millionaire Show. Went back to the cabin where the 1st towel animal awaited me. I filled out the breakfast menu which I did every time I had an early excursion. Usually the breakfast came before the time I'd written & they always phoned to say it was on it's way. I really enjoyed doing this & the food was good & hot enough.
Tuesday Labadee Set my alarm for 6:40 as my walking tour of Labadee started at 9 & we had to tender over. It was sunny & hot on Labadee so I had to try a Labadoozie after the walk with Lamy who spoke very good English. Came back to the ship & went to the Leonardo Da Vinci DR for lunch then went back to the cabin read a bit, then had a nap. After that I went to Bingo, the casino then got ready for the Repeaters' party. This was my night to go to Portofino which was really nice with 4 different waiters attending to me. I had the calamari,filet & dessert sampler ~ yummy! Went to the DR to watch the waiters sing O Sole Mio then to the show which was really good. Went to Dancing in the Streets which was very entertaining! Headed back to the cabin at midnight, filled out the breakfast menu & went to bed.
Wed., Ochos Rios Had room service breakfast again, watched some ship tv then met for the Shaw Park Garden,Fern Gully, Dunns River Falls excursion at 9:45. The garden was beautiful & a girl videographed it. I bought it then had some doubts about how I would get it as she was to meet me & I wasn't there at the appointed time ~ came to find out later that the DVD had been turned in & I picked it up at the excursion desk. I didn't "do" the falls, just watched plus I wasn't pestered by vendors as some mention. I had only taken a 20 & some singles so didn't have any money to spend. I tried Sorrentos for lunch, pizza, roasted red peppers & feta cubes then headed up to the Windjammer for salad & dessert.. Did my usual reading, computer, nap routine then went for dinner ~ spring rolls, surf & turf & passonfruit/berry dessert. Went to Bingo then Love & Marriage show with a couple of my tablemates.
Thurs. Georgetown GC Had usual room service as I had to get the 1st tender to meet for my shore excursion that was supposed to go to the Turtle Farm, Hell, Rumcake place & swimming with the stingrays. It was chaotic at the port area & I never heard them call my excursion's departure so talked to Roberto who said I'd missed it & would have to choose between Hell/Turtles or swimming with the stingrays. I wanted to go to Hell as I'd written post cards to mail from there. It was a nice tour & our driver stopped at a beach on the way back to the ship so we could see it. Came back, ate at Windjammer, had nap, played Bingo then got ready for the formal dinner ~ peach soup, Caesar salad, surf 'n turf & dessert sampler. Went to the Temptations show which was really good, Challenge of the Sexes, then karaoke which had some very good singers. Didn't get to bed 'til after 1!
Fri Cozumel Got up after 8 & went to the Windjammer where I noticed a man selling fresh squeezed OJ. I had some even tho' most people passed him by when they learned there was a charge. It was worth $3 to me! Walked around the ship taking pictures as I didn't have to meet the group for the Atlantis submarine until noon. Walked around the port area & checked out some stores before the tour. I had figured Cozumel would be a good place to take the sub as there's a reef there. I wasn't disappointed & saw quite a few fish, coral etc. We went to a depth of 123 feet & I didn't experience nausea or claustrophobia as some do. I bought the photo they took preboarding as it was very nice & only $10, also got a certificate that I belong to the 100 foot club. Went to the Windjammer for lunch & it was here that I wished RCI had a placecard like Princess that a table is taken! I left papers & my lemonade at the table while I went for dessert & when I came back they were gone! I got my papers back & they brought me a fresh lemonade. Went back to room, read & had a nap. Went for 2 4 1 margaritas before dinner & left one in the room for later but it was too much so it got thrown out the next day. Had lamb T bone, Caesar salad, pate then asked if I could have some fresh berries for dessert as I was getting tired of fattening things. Passed the time 'til show time on my netbook & watching tv. I headed for the theatre around 8:30 as it was always crowded. I must say I really didn't like the long rows they had there nor their drink holders as much as on some other ships. The show Once Upon a Time was really good. I really enjoyed all the shows on this ship, come to think of it. After the show I went to the Quest where my team won, no thanks to me! Another late night, another towel animal!
Sat. At sea Got up after 8 & headed to the Windjammer where I sat near Joseph, the OJ man since he wasn't having much luck getting buyers & he could watch my table. Spent the rest of the day doing things around the ship. Went to 2 Bingos, trivia, the International display in the Promenade, photo area to buy some & the DVD, & the circus parade. Had French onion soup, roast turkey, a few Tempura shrimp & a banana caramel dessert for my last dinner. I found the food to be okay & always enjoyed the meals. Gave out the tip envelopes & took pictures of the waitstaff. Did most of the packing then went to the Farewell show which was Richard Spacey's last on the Freedom. Stopped by the desk & turned in my early departure labels for later ones as my flight wasn't leaving 'til 1:55 pm so didn't see why I should get off the ship around 7, got 9:15 ones instead. Put a few more dollars through the slot machines, came back to the room finished packing, set out the suitcase & went to bed. Sunday disembarkation :-( Was awakened quite early by announcements then by my German friend phoning to saying goodbye. Went to the Windjammer, there weren't as many choices as usual but not just juice, pastries & coffee like some cruiselines. Used up my computer minutes, did some more exploring & picture taking then waited for my colour to be called. I never did hear it so went to deck 5 where an announcement was made that all colours had been called. Left the ship at 9:30 but going through customs was quite slow & I'd suggest keeping to the left as there seemed to be more agents there, found my suitcase easily then took the shuttle to the airport.Was glad to see a Del Sol shop at the airport as I had missed it at GC & Cozumel. I really enjoyed my cruise on this ship, so much so that I've booked it again for next November but on the eastern route.
Little things I like about RCI:- not many announcements, lovely drink glasses (I collected 7!), Royal Promenade, lots to do & see, wifi in cabin, sofa in the cabin, nice shower in WC, colourful decor, towel animals, can check your account on the tv, people enforcing hand sanitizing, great staff such as "Flower, who always remembered my name, Chelik our ass't waiter who was very entertaining, Joseph, the drink "doctor",& the young guy in Photography who explained the face recognition machines for finding one's photos.
Little things I don't like on RCI:- no jackpot Bingo, plus it's expensive, lack of fresh flowers around the ship, have to pay for shore excursions in advance & get to them on your own, no tv guide.