We went to the July 18th sailing of the Freedom of the Seas. We flew into Orlando a few days prior and drove across to Port Canaveral on set-sail day. We hired our car from Hertz, and were really impressed with the free shuttle service offered. Door-to-door service in less than 10minutes (outbound and return).
This was our fourth cruise with RCI, our second on Freedom. Last year we sailed the Western itinerary. We've previously sailed on the Voyager class.
TRAVELLERS: Myself (30) and partner (29)
STATEROOM: We booked a Junior Suite, and the size and location (aft, deck 10) was good. Our stateroom team, led by Chris was fantastic! Very friendly and helpful. Located in the cabins opposite our statement was a group of 14-15 year olds travelling with there parents (who were located elsewhere on the ship). The kids would congregate on the corridor for about 3-4hours every afternoon. This did not bother us because we were either elsewhere on the ship or on our balcony. When the kids returned to there cabins at 2am, (i though children had to be in bed by 1am) they were very noisy and would talk on the corridor for over an hour on one occasion. I had to make two complaints before this issue was resolved. The kids still talked on the corridor during the afternoon; again, this did not bother us, as it did not disturb us. But laughing, talking and shouting at 2am is not acceptable!!!!!!!!!! RCI please take note - any cabin containing under 18s only should be located next to there parents! Also, this is not a good advert for the Freedom class if the best activity children can find is talking on the corridor.
PORTS: Our first stop was at Cococay. Having previously sailed to Castaway Cay with Disney this island does not compare. There were too many rocks, even in the sand. Having read previous reports prior to our trip we took water shoes - a must for any visitor. We spent about 3 hours at Cococay before returning to the ship for lunch and spent a really nice quiet afternoon by the pool.
The next stop was St. Thomas. We took the St Thomas Panoramic Drive. The tour got off to a shaky start, we had to changed bus, as it wasn't big enough and the new bus took about 10mins to arrive. The tour takes in the highest peaks on the island. Magen's Bay from Drake's Seat, onto Skyline overlook located 800 feet above the cruise ships. Finally calling at St. Peter Great House for another spectacular view.
The final stop was St. Maarten. We took the Power Rafting Adventure excursion. A fast cruise with the opportunity of sea views of the island and lagoon. We visited a really nice secluded beach for a 45minute swim/snorkel, followed by another beach stop for another opportunity to swim for 45minutes. This was a really beautiful island. Cold drinks were offered at every stop. If you like a bit of action with swim/relaxation time you'll really enjoy this excursion.
SHIP: Overall a very nice ship. Loved the flowrider, the queue was usually 15/20minutes but never felt very long. RCI no longer offered turndown service on day 1 of the cruise, which was sorely missed! We still miss the chocolates...bring back the chocolates!
DINING: The food at the dining room was good, service was good too. The Windjammer buffet served decent food - however the buffet on disembarkation day was dismal. The worst we have ever seen. This left a poor lasting impression. Certain items were not offered, staffing was minimal. The standard of food on this day was really poor.
Portofino's was superb, great, great service. Excellent food, first class. We also visited Chops steakhouse, the food was also excellent, service good but on the fast side. I'd skip the steakhouse and visit Portofino's twice next time round.
We enjoyed our days at sea; however we would have preferred another port visit. We knew the Eastern only had 3 stops, and although the ship had lots to do. It's real shame it doesn't offer a fourth stop, 3 days at sea was a bit too much for us. Overall, this was a very good cruise.