My husband and I and our 2 best friends just returned from a 7 night w. caribbean cruise on freedom of the seas on 5/23/10. we booked through the Royal Caribbean website and had an aft Junior Suite rm. 7712. we booked a flight and hotel in Orlando for the day before the cruise and the day after.
Day 1: Orlando/Hotel
After arriving in Orlando late due to a delayed flight, we were all tired,hungry and a little cranky, thank god we flew in from Buffalo, NY the day before the cruise.
However we had booked a room at La Quinta Airport North and it was very nice. We picked this hotel because of it's price, and free airport shuttle. We didn't need anything super fancy as long as it's clean we're happy and we're not staying there for long periods of time so we don't care what amenities it has. The airport shuttle was extremely quick and curteous we called when collecting our bags and they were there by the time we were outside, our driver Danny was especially helpful with our luggage and also at check in making it quick and painless and answering any questions we had and giving us local area information. The hotel itself is a small airport budget hotel. It has a very pretty apperance from the outside, everything is well kept up and landscaped. Once inside the lobby it is also clean and well appointed. The hallway rugs not on the main floor and in the rooms are showing some ware (slightly warped, and slight discoloration is some spots) but always clean and appear freshly vaccumed. The rooms are a very decent size as is the bathroom, and the room and beds are clean and very basic. You will have a tv. not flat screen but who cares, a phone, phone book, alarm clock, bible, and hotel info sheets, along with a coffee pot and coffee and cream and sugar. Bath amenities are 1 small bottle of citrus shampoo and 2 citrus soaps. The hotel has a business center with computer and printer no charge, a small clean pool area with hot tub and gazebo and loungers and table and chair areas as well. I also saw a small somewhat dated gym and a meeting room. There is also a free continental breakfast each morning, cereal, bagels, muffins, yogurt, juice, milk, waffles, fruit, hard boiled eggs and microwave. If you need more than that there is a TGI fridays, Dennys and convinience store within walking distance. The staff was incredibly helpful our friend needed to go to a drugstore and we had no car, and they drove her to walgreens free of charge. If you are looking for an affordable, clean place close to the airport with free shuttle, with great staff and basic amenities this is a very good choice. The only negative thing i will say is be careful of the insects outside, there are not a ton of them but while outside sitting i was bitten by the equivalent of a deer fly several times, so bring bug spray.
Day 2: Shuttle/Boarding
As recommended on cruise critic we booked the Cocoa Beach Shuttle for the 4 of us for 10;30am sun. 5/16, it was only $150 round trip total. They were about 15 mins. late picking us up but it wasn't that big a deal and our driver Tony was very apologetic. Tony was very courteous and helpful with baggage. Eventhough he had a full shuttle full of people he made an effort to talk to everyone on board and point out interesting facts and tell interesting stories the whole way from orlando to the port. He was a very good driver. Once at the port we gave our luggage to the porters and got in line. The whole process from stepping off the shuttle to getting on the Ship took maybe 35 mins. It was completely painless. Everyone we encountered at the port and Royal Caribbean Workers were very friendly and helpful.
Day 1-7 Freedom of the Seas Cruise Overview:
The first thing we thought once onboard was OMG!!I can't believe we are on this awesome beautiful ship!!! we had wanted to go on this Cruise since last may when we went on a cruise to the bahamas on the Carnival Sensation and saw the Freedom at Port Canaveral.
First of all the staff every one of them is amazing, always a smile or greeting, anything they could do to help, they were some of the friendliest people i have ever met. For example the 1st crew member we met jumped up and down with us, screamed omg!! omg!! with us girls, and high-fived the boys as soon as we set foot onboard. There were so many options on this ship for everything and anything, it was hard to compose yourself and figure out where to begin. Freedom is huge!!there are shops and restaurants and bars everywhere and it is very very breathtaking. Everything was spotless, and you could always catch someone cleaning something.
Freedom of the Seas Food:
Now i Know food is a big deal to a lot of people on here, but honestly I think a lot of you are too critical, all the food was good and I will break it down in categories as I review, but I mean come on people it's free and if you don't like something try something else, don't let it ruin your cruise.
Windjammer: We went for lunch as soon as we boarded at the windjammer, I have read many reviews saying how crowded it was, but honestly it wasn't. We had no problem finding an empty table, and the staff wasn't overwhelmed and was promt and brought our drinks for us. The restaurant itself was very clean and pretty and had beautiful views out the windows. The food was very good. Was it gourmet? NO but hello people, it's a buffet, and as buffets go I would rank it very high class/scale indeed. The variety of food was plentiful especially so if you included Jade. We had breakfast here everyday except the 2nd day because we ordered room service.(ill get to that later). We also had lunch here every day before we went or when we came back from the islands. We had dinner there the 1st night, and the 3rd nights.
The Main Dining Room:
We had My time dining for Gallileos. We loved my time dining, so easy. The main dining room is stunning, from the decor,to the view, to even the tableware. The food was amazing, the only things that were hit and miss food wise were the desserts, not the options but the actual taste. I am an adventerous eater and I got the oportunity to try the escargot and roast duck. Let me tell you the escargot may sound disgusting but it was delecious, the duck was also delicious. There was always great selection for meals and everything was always delecious. Our waiter Ernesto B. from the phillipeans was amazing, he was funny, friendly and very attentive. His assistent waiter Edwardo was also very efficient and friendly, these guys did an amazing job, and if we go on freedom again we will request them. The service by everyone was fantastic, we must have been asked by at least 4 people a day if they could get us anything and how everything was and what our comments were it was so nice. We ate here both formal nights and the last night.
Room Service: Honestly we were dissapointed with room service. The food was always good, and the room service attendent was always friendly, the service itself was just not that good. They messed up our order everytime we ordered, they gave us the wrong order once, and not enough meals twice. We didn't say anything though we feel bad complaning over such small things, so we just went to sorrentos or cafe promenade if we needed a snack. We did tip our room service guy though because he was so nice.
Sorrentos and Cafe Promenade:
We liked both these places for snacks or if we missed lunch or dinner. The food selection in both was very decent and the food was decent to very good. The pizza was usually good, not fantastic but very good, and they had different specials twice a day. the salad selection was poor, since they seemed to always have seafood in them and im allergic. The sandwhiches and cookies and pastries from the cafe were very good, and interesting sometimes. It's good to try new things, like the turkey sandwhich on the sesame twist with cranberrry sauce. If you can't find something you like to eat on this ship, that's youre problem because the options seem endless.
We didn't really go to any of the bars, when we drank we just walked around and drank, we don't like to be confined. We did see many of them though, and they always looked busy, they also had very cool art work. Boleros and the Pub always had live music too. the bars we did visit were the pub, and the crypt. The pub was cool and dark and had live music, the crypt was insane and fun and were sorry we only made it there on the last night, but its ok because we wound up partying till 4:30am It is very dark and goth with great decor and very good dance music.
Freedom of the Seas Production Shows:
There are endless entertainment options on board the Freedom of the Seas. If you don't see these shows you're really missing out. We saw the Sail away party on the deck, the Party around the World parade,which can i just say how insane is it that your ship has parades on it!!?, The once apon a time musical/comedy show. I would like to congratulate the crew on that show and the Freedom Ice show in particular, the acrobatics, gymnastics, and fantastic singing and dancing in those shows was unbelievably spectacular. We also saw The freedom Ice show as mentioned above, Olga and Dimitri were amazing., We pariticpated in the battle of the sexes show. Also we saw Drew Thomas Magic (amazing also), and the Love and Marriage show (hysterical) and of course who could forget QUEST? That was the most insane show I have ever participated in, thank god it's just for adults!! We also checked out the parade on the last day the Freedom Circus, which was also very good, but shorter and not as good as the first parade in my opinion. There was also a 70's dance party in the streets and beatle mania which we didn't go to but saw on the tv and looked like a lot of fun.
Freedom of the Seas Activites:
So much to do and not enough time to do it. We did a lot, and still missed a lot, and we loved every minute. We played mini-golf, rock climbed, swam, sat in the hot tub, used the solarium, played in the arcade, watched the sexy legs and belly flop contest etc. etc. This is definately a fun ship.
Allan Brooks our Cruise Director was amazing. He was funny, charming and knew how to get the crowd going. I think it helps a lot that he is relatively young and not some old stuffy guy, he really knows how to relate, we hope he will still be on the Freedom when we return in a year or two.
This was 3 of our groups 2nd cruise and our friend's 1st cruise. We sailed on the Sensation to the Bahamas last year. They claim that Carnival are the "fun ships" Im going to disagree on that. Last year it seemed like everything on carnival closed up shop by 9pm; pools, shops, restaurants everything.and there were not shows let alone multiple shows every night on carnival like there was on Freedom. We loved that there was always something to see, do, eat, someone to talk to even at 2AM on Freedom. Saying that I think I can safely say that unless the price is significantly cheaper or they have an itinerary that blows me out of the water, I will probably not sail carnival again. It's not that carnival was horrible, it wasn't, Royal Caribbean and the Freedom of the Seas just blew us away and blew Carnival out of the Water.