We booked our RCI cruise on their website and felt that we got a great deal for a 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on RCI's Freedom of the Seas. We live close to Port Canaveral so we chose to drive and stay the night before in a hotel. Our hotel had a shuttle that took us to the port and allowed us to leave our vehicle parked at their property for a fee. We were quickly processed at the port with our bags collected by porters and our SetSail documents and credit cards processed for boarding. We did have to wait about 20 minutes before boarding because we were a bit early at 11:00 AM.
We were impressed when we boarded the ship as it is the largest ship we've been on. We headed straight to the windjammer for lunch and I must say some of my favorite food on this trip was not in the dining room but in the Windjammer. After enjoying a nice lunch we headed out to check out as many places as possible to get our bearings on the ship. At 1:00 PM we were allowed to go to our cabin. We were very happy with our interior stateroom. We especially enjoyed the way RCI had curtains separating the bed from the rest of the stateroom. Our children did not join us on this trip but we felt the curtains would be an asset if you had kids in your stateroom as it allows for more privacy. We were extremely comfortable in our room and bathroom. The beds were so comfortable and the bathroom clean.
We decided to get some drinks in the Schooner Bar while we waited for our friends to join us on the ship. Next we headed to the muster drill. Once complete we were given the bad news by the Captain that we would not be able to keep our original itinerary due to hurricanes. Although disappointing in the end the Captain made the right call and the weather and conditions were absolutely beautiful on our new itinerary of Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
We were on our way and on the first evening we had to sort out some dining seating issues with the head maitre d which required us to get ready for the 6PM seating and then join our friends at the 830PM seating. A little bit of hassle but in the end worth it. Our first 3 evenings were spent in an off shoot of one the main dining rooms. Our group decided we would like to be able to dine among everyone else so we asked to be moved and were moved to a table on the 5th floor near the stairs. The group was pleased with this move.
I would like to comment on service as a whole on this ship. I would give it a 6 on a scale of 1 - 10. No one was rude but I just think that on a ship this large it is hard to provide quality when it comes to service.
I will comment again on food in more depth. NOTHING in the dining room was spectacular. I was especially disappointed in the dessert. I enjoyed the breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer. We enjoyed fresh vegetables, many varieties of meats, yummy hashbrown potatoes and a huge range of asian cuisine. I especially loved the stir fried vegetables served at breakfast and lunch. There was always plenty to chose from and everything was fresh.
Entertainment again I would give it a 6 on a scale of 1-10. The shows were hit or miss. We were impressed by the ice skating show and the quest was certainly entertaining. The cruise director is funny, we caught his comedy show. The other shows however, I've seen better productions at the local high school, sorry.
Our group 3 couples (25-30 something) had trouble finding the right place in the evenings. It seemed a few nights it was just hit or miss. We did enjoy The Crypt for dancing and the Bull and Bear Pub performer was good. I have previously only cruised on one particular line and I was constantly comparing the two to figure out if I thought RCI was worth the hype and extra money. Overall, I think I may remain loyal to my other line. It just seems to be more fun. We did enjoy our vacation despite the change of itinerary, but probably will NOT book a cruise again during hurricane season.