Our sons may have preferred a cruise ship that caters more to the college crowd, but I personally appreciated the fact that no drunken teenagers were running up and down the halls banging on doors in the night, as experienced by my friend on a Carnival spring break cruise. In fact, our 20 year old received a kiddy ship card (the ones with the holes punched in them). He reported being watched like a hawk when sitting across the table from his brother who was enjoying a drink in one of the late night clubs. The staff on Royal Caribbean definitely do not turn a blind eye to underage drinking, which is great for the rest of us!
We loved our time on board Freedom of the Seas - the meals in the main dining room were very good and the service was outstanding. We ate at Portofino's one evening and, while it was good, you really pay the premium for the ambiance and privacy rather than the quality of food. What truly delighted us was the quality of entertainment onboard. The lead female singer (Patti) was an exceptionally talented performer who would silence all those nasty "cruise ship performer" jokes. And the skating show was well worth standing in line the first morning to get tickets. The tickets are only offered once, so you must line up for all the performances held that week. That said, if you show up without a ticket there are rush seats available when ticket holders don't show up.
To those of you who complain about poolside chair hogs - just ask the person in the next chair if someone has been in the empty chair in the last half hour. If they say no, move their stuff and sit down! They know the rules as well as you do.
I had to use the medical facilities on board so beware that no medical insurance is accepted on board, even if your travel insurance company assures you that they have a pre-existing arrangement with Royal Caribbean. You must pay up front for services and then get reimbursed by your travel insurance company. Apart from that, the staff was very helpful. I was happy to see that when a young man came rushing into the medical office after a day of drinking in Cozumel and threw up all over the place, a veritable swat team descended with a special kit to clean up the mess.
I really think the secret to disembarkation is to schedule a late flight, eat a relaxed breakfast in the dining room, and leave late. No lines, no rush. I would not, however, count on a rental car again to return to Orlando. We got the last car at the Avis location, leaving behind numerous passengers, even loyalty club members with reserved cars. This problem is not unique to Avis. The rental car companies count on people arriving from Orlando airport on outgoing cruises to bring the cars to Port Canaveral. Take a taxi or shuttle back to Orlando!
Ocho Rios, Jamaica was our second Port of Call. I personally do not like being harassed by the locals and offered drugs. I know many of you say that a simple "no thank you" will suffice, but this was not my experience. I am happy to see that Royal Caribbean will no longer be going to Ocho Rios as of January 2011, but will be going to a newly designed port in Falmouth. A Disney-fied version of Jamaica has got to be an improvement over Ocho Rios.