We read so many good advice from cruise critic before our trip and feel compelled to share our review as well. Hope this helps you! We took the Freedom of the Seas to West Caribbean (8 days/7 nights). Ports of calls were Labadee, Ocho Rios, Georgetown and Cozumel.
The Good Stuff - Ship is gigantic, still pretty and clean even though it celebrated 4th birthday while we were onboard - Kids program (Adventure Ocean – my kids were 6 and 8) was a lot of fun. The kids especially love the pirate parades , hula hoop contest, and family scavenger hunt - Staff was overall very friendly from housekeeper to dining room servers…etc - Excellent shows (ice-show and magic shows a must, Love & Marriage game show fun, also good are Once Upon a Time, Quest, and Farewell show. Our director Allan Brooks was funniest and life of the whole boat) - Check in was simple and smooth (we got on ship before 11AM) - Breakfast at Windjammer was very good and have lots of variety, be sure to order the cook-to-order omelet (much better than what’s on buffet line) - Breakfast at main dining room was good, they have “a chocolate indulgence” morning which my kids love. The egg benedicts were good too (you can order even though it’s not on menu) - Dinner is hit-or-miss at main dining room. Some quite good especially lobster night – server brought us 2 each. - We had turndown service every night and the kids adore the folding animals housekeeping made. - We have 5 people (me and hubby, 2 kids and senior Mom). We chose 2 connecting ocean view staterooms instead of a big family room since there are 2 bathrooms. Housekeeping has to unlock the door between the connecting rooms and stay unlocked the whole time.
Not so good… - For the beautiful 7 miles beach and fun Stingray city, the stay at Grand Cayman was too short. We have to start get back on ship by 3pm. We saw other ships staying much longer than we did. - Our family doesn’t drink a lot of soda or alcohol. And unless you purchase the water package, it was kinda hard to find water fountain. The only 2 places are – 1 in the gym and 1 at the joggling trail. Other than that, we have to get water from the 2 restaurants @ Promenade all the time. That’s a pain considered it’s such an active ship with so much to do. - The dinner at Chop’s were not that great and not worth the $25pp upcharge. We tried the NY strip and lamb chop and wasn’t good. The only good dish is the Filet Mignon but we have to send back 3 times to get the right medium-rare (which is disappointing considered it’s a steak house specialty restaurant). - There were a lot of extra cost that we didn’t expect (like freshly squeezed OJ, Ben & Jerry ice-cream, certain pilate class, boxing…15% tip was automatically added and still you have to tip cash. - Picking up our luggage back from Port Canaveral was very difficult. As instructed, we packed and left the luggage out of the door at the same time (11PM the night before). We picked up 3 pieces immediately after immigration but 1 piece went missing for an hour (it was obvious that it was sent to the wrong belt but no one was really helpful at the port).
Other Tips: - If you are picky about amenities, you may want to pack more lotion and stuff since only conditioned shampoo and 1 soap is provided. - If you are docking at Labadee, Haiti, walk to Columbus Cove Beach (about 10 minutes walk thru the art village), the water is much calmer and quieter over there. - If you plan to take your kids to ice-skating, don’t forget to pack long pants (you will not be allowed if wearing shorts). You can also sign up early for the ice-skating lesson (first come first serve for 10-15 ppl, offer one day only during 7 days cruise). It’s taught by the ice-skating performer. Very nice. - If you are leaving from Port Canaveral, you can stay at a hotel on Cocoa Beach for 1 night, play at the beach and park your car there the whole week (We were at Doubletree hotel but other hotels also have park & cruise package). Shuttle is $5 one way only. Hubby took the shuttle and drop us all off at the port. Very convenient and save lots of $$. - Go to the drill no earlier than 10 minutes before they are finished. We were out in the sun and waited for quite sometime. No need to wear lifejacket though. - Don’t miss the Freedom Exhibition (it has lots to do – towel folding demo, exhibit, finger food) - Labadee: walk 10 minutes thru art village to Columbus Cove Beach. Much nicer sand/water and quieter. Lunch serve by Royal Caribbean (burger/hot dog…etc). - Jamaica: we took a private tour with Yardie Tour (tripadvisor review) They took us to Dunn’s river falls and then around town for a very good price. - Grand Cayman: we went with Stingray Sailing (tripadvisor review). They picked us up at the port then onto a catamaran boat. Very nice sailing ride to Stingray City+ snorkeling. Owner not too friendly though but it’s a good trip considered the cheaper price. They dropped us off at Royal Palms on 7 miles beach. We had an hour swim and a quick lunch. Gorgeous beach. $4/pp taxi ride back to port. - Cozumel : $11 taxi (for 5 of us) one way into town for more shopping options. Only 5-10 mins ride.