My husband and I and our 3 sons age 9 & 7 decided to give RCCL a try after 3 previous cruises on Disney. Overall we were VERY impressed with Freedom of the seas and will definitely sail with RCCL again.
We left from Port Canaveral on Easter Sunday. We arrived at the port at approximately 10:30. We had an easy check in process. We waited for about 45 minutes and boarded the ship. Our first stop was Windjammer Cafe for some lunch! Lunch was very good, I was excited to try the honey stung chicken I had read so much about and it was delicious.
After lunch we decided to take a tour of the ships while we waited for out state rooms to be ready. The royal promenade is amazing! You do not feel like you are on a ship, but rather in a large shopping mall. My husband and I booked 2 separate rooms because it saved us almost $1000. Originally when I booked we had one room however I seen a huge price drop on RCCL web site when I called them to ask about we would have to go from having 1 room to 2 separate guaranteed state rooms so we did. They gave the money back as an on board credit which we were very happy with! I was lucky enough to score a promenade state room that I shared with my 7 year old and my husband shared his room with the 9 year old. We loved the promenade state room which gave us a great view of all of the parades and great for people watching! We were never bothered by noise in this room as some may think.
Our first and last days on board were sea days which I think is a great itinerary plan.We spent the first sea day getting to know the massive ship in all her glory and the last sea day unwinding from a great vacation!On the first sea day we watched people on the flow rider which is a riot and the kids made use of the rock climbing wall which they loved! We also took the kids ice skating which was great. They thought ice skating at sea was the coolest thing ever!
Our first stop was Labadee Haiti, which will forever be one of my favorite ports of call. The beauty of this area is amazing. We spent the day on Nellies Beach enjoying some Labadoozies while the kids snorkled! This is one of the areas I will point out that Disney does have the upper hand. If you compare Labadee to Disney's castaway cay, I prefer the "adults only" area on cast away. Disney also has a much more impressive kids area and kids club on Cast Away Cay. Lunch on Labadee was very similar to lunch on Cast Away Cay. After lunch we took a stroll to dragons point which was beautiful. We took some amazing photos by the beach while here also.
The next day we spent in Ocho Rios Jamaica. I was nervous about this port after reading some negative reviews. We decided to hire a private tour guide to take us to the falls & lunch. We hired Courtney Taylor and thank goodness we did he was awesome. I found him after reading some if his reviews online. He charged us $25 for adults and $20 for the kids. When we arrived he had a driver pick us up and take us a short 5 minute drive to meet him. We then transferred to his nicely air conditioned van. On the way to Dunns River Falls he gave us the history of the island and pointed out some interesting spots along the way. Once we arrived he escorted us to a tour guide inside the park. He did this so we would not be harassed by the various vendors while walking to the falls. We had 2 amazing fall guides M.Shaw and another guy named Courtney once we got to the bottom of the falls to start our climb my 7 year old slipped on the rocks. I panicked and said forget it I did not want to do this. Our guide convinced me that he would protect my children like his own and we would be safe with him. He put us in the front of the line and assisted us the entire way. I am so glad he convinced me to go because this was one of the most amazing exhilarating experiences of my life! He kept my digital camera in his bag and took pictures of us the entire way up. At some points the climb got so hairy that he literally carried my 7 year old up! I was a little naive in thinking that this was going to be an easy walk up a water fall. This was definitely a CLIMB! And make sure you take you water shoes.
After the falls Courtney took us for a drive into the mountains and to see fern gully. Jamaica is a beautiful place. He then took us on the beach to a great outside restaurant to have the best jerk chicken I have ever had. He once again escorted us to the restaurant and waited for us. After lunch he was ready to take us where ever we wanted to go. My group was pretty exhausted at this point so we decided to head back to the ship. I never once felt scared having my children with me or at any point in Ocho Rios thanks to Courtney Taylor! I highly recommend him for anyone planning a visit there.In order to book a tour with him simply contact him by email courtney_tay at yahoo dot com, He also has a web site that is ochoriostoursja dot com I can not say enough good about his personal tour! I would definitely use him again!
The next day was Grand Cayman. My husband and I had been to this island before and it is not one of our favorites. We decided to stay on board and enjoy the pools. We are glad we did as this was the easiest was to get pool chairs and enjoy the adult section without the crowds.
Next was Cozumel Mexico. We booked the Passion Island excursion for $74 per person. We think it was worth every penny. What a beautiful place. We enjoyed unlimited margaritas, rum punch & tequila sunrise. They also had a fabulous mexican buffet with the best guacamole & salsa. They only allow a limited amount of people on the island so you have no crowds! You have use of water kayaks, paddle boats, water trampoline, floating mats at no extra charge. They had great hammocks and beach chairs to enjoy also. We were told this is the island the corona commercials were filmed on and I can see why. We had perfect weather and enjoyed the beauty of the island.
The entertainment on the ship was top notch! We seen the magician Drew Thomas who was fantastic. My favorite was the ice show! It was really outstanding. Especially that they could do all of that on a moving boat! The last show was great also. It was a variety act with an aerial show and a great comedian. It started out with Abe the cruise director doing a spoof on the MTV show cribs which was historical! Abe was a great cruise director very funny!
We think the food on Freedom was better then Disney. Not that Disney was bad, but Freedom had better steaks and better grab and go items like the sandwiches and cookies at the promenade cafe.We enjoyed a night at Chops which was worth every penny of the $ 25 fee. The steaks and appetizers were outstanding! Don't miss the Mud Pie for dessert it is to die for!
As far as customer service goes we only had 2 minor incidents one with DJ Dragan who was pretty rude and does not seem to like his job to much and one with Anthony who works on the sports deck who was rude. We certainty did not let it ruin our day. The rest of the customer service was fine but when you compare RCCL customer service to Disney, Disney wins hands down. I don't know may companies that could beat Disney customer service. Our waiter Igor and Asst. Waiter Joseph were great and always very attentive to our kids.
The kids did not spend nearly as much time in the Freedoms kids club as they did Disney because we had so much to do on board. I asked my kids at the end which ship they preferred and they both voted Freedom of the seas. They both said Freedoms kids club had a lot more to do and Disney was boring compared to freedom. They also said that the water park on Freedom was much better then the water slide area on Disney.
All in all this was a GREAT cruise! We had an amazing time and we will definitely sail with Royal Carribean again! We are planning another cruise for October!