We have completed 5 cruises with Carnival and wanted to try something new. We sailed on Freedom of the Seas. We visted 4 ports Labadee, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We enjoyed all ports except Cozumel. We took a taxi to Paradise Beach, paid $13 each way. What a disappointment! It was a very hot day and the water was so dirty, we could not even get in the water. We stayed on the beach for an hour , then got a taxi back to the ship.
Here is an honest comparison of Royal caribbean and Carnival. Freedom of the Seas is definitely a beautiful ship with a great layout. There are lots of activities on board, probably more than Carnival. Our room was smaller than Carnival but the balcony was bigger. Our cruise director Graham Seymour was the best I have ever had on any cruise, very talented- even did his own adult comedy show. The ice-show was super and not to be missed. The 2 major production shows (with the ships singers and dancers)in the Arcadia theatre were ok, no WOW! factor by any means. They did have a guest appearance one night from a Las Vegas group (forget the name). Anyway it was 2 brothers and sister. They were really good. Drew Thomas From America's Got Talent did a magic show one night. He was good but only did a couple illusions as the rest of the show was taken up with the singers and dancers. I think he would have been much better on his own.
Now here is where Carnival is so much better: Food. The food in the Main Dining Room on Freedom of the Seas was not good at all. We found it hard to find something that we liked, whereas on Carnival there were so many good choices, we found it hard to choose. The quality of the starters and main courses on Carnival is so much better. The desserts were about the same on both cruise lines. Lunch was disappointing as well, mostly all buffet at the Windjammer and the same every day. I missed the different venues that Carnival has for lunch: Made to order deli sandwiches, stir fry section, fish and chips, burrito bar, pasta bar etc. We also were not pleased with the service in the MDR compared to Carnival.
Royal Caribbean nickel and dime you so much. They have no laundry or ironing facilities on board (Carnival has both). However they will be glad to iron your shirt!! on formal night for a nominal fee. You can have fresh orange juice,water, room service (after midnight)etc. for a nominal fee. I would suggest you take water on board with you, there are signs up everywhere telling you that you are not allowed to fill water bottles. You are not even allowed to pour your own water or coffee in the Windjammer.
We missed the plush bath robes that you get on Carnival as well.
Our room steward was good and kept our room very clean.
The staff were good but I did not feel the friendly atmosphere that I did on Carnival. In conclusion, I really liked the elegance and size of Freedom of the seas but I will probably not return. The food, entertainment and friendliness are the main attractions for us, and I think Carnival is way ahead in these areas, plus the price is lower.