Well we are back to work and after a few days to decompress I wanted to take a couple minutes and write a few observations about Freedom. This was our 7th cruise, the third on Royal. We sailed twice previously on the Mariner when she was still located in Port Canaveral. Freedom is just an oversized Mariner with extra floors and obviously cabins. My husband and I sailed solo this trip and it was really nice. We are late 40's and early 50's in age.
We arrived in Port Canaveral on Saturday afternoon and we stayed as usual at the Raddison. We ate dinner at Grills and chilled out at the pool afterwards listening to the live music. We were supposed to have a 12:00 shuttle time Sunday morning but we got impatient with all the crowds and ended up grabbing one of the cabs that were lined up to take people. It was a bit of a splurge for us we normally always take the shuttle. It was $14.00 to take us to the port and if you saved your receipt, (which we did) it was a $10.00 ride on the way back. We arrived at the terminal around 11:20 or so and we were on the ship by noon. We have learned through the years to pack a lighter carry on so we do not have to lug so much around with us while we wait for our cabin to open. We ate a leisurely lunch in the Windjammer and then headed down to our room. Our luggage arrived by 2:00 with no issues. This ship was amazing at moving the luggage. The shear number of people and the amount of baggage is pretty stunning.
The sailing went off without a hitch and the movement on the ship when we were in calm waters was not really noticeable. We did have several rough days with waves in excess of 10 feet. We missed our port in Grand Caymen due to rough seas. Considering Hurricane Paula is hitting the coast of Mexico this week I consider us very lucky. The weather all week cooperated nicely and was sunny and mild. Perfect overall.
The ports were nice. Labadee we did the zipline and it was just awesome. A short ride for the money! Wish we could have done it again it was really fun! Jamaica we did an excursion with the cruise, Snorkling, Catamaran and Dunns River Falls. Here is where I am going to complain. Jamaicans are aggressive which we all know. They follow you everywhere and try and sell you things which has always been well known. However I had hoped we would avoid that by booking a cruise straight with the cruise line. It was no better. The operators of the catamaran started their sales pitch for Beads, pictures, beer, water...which should have been included....the beer and rum punch per the literature...immediately and continued the entire trip. Dunns River is bogged down with screaming sales pitches to stop for pictures and videos to try and sell you the second you get out at the top and all the way down. I do not really think that I will ever take another cruise that stops there in the future. I want to relax not chase away aggressive sales people. Cozumel is as always a decent stop if you want to souvenir shop and buy all things made with silver.
Now for the food. We enjoyed all our meals although I still maintain that Carnival has Royal on this point. The selection at lunch in the MDR was the same every day so you could go once and not have to return. Windjammer is just OK and I did not eat bad food but they do not have the same stations that Carnival has and it is noticeable to us. The burgers, sandwiches and pizza being out on the pool deck on Carnival is just so much better if you are in a wet bathing suit and do not want to go and sit inside. We ate at Chops on Monday night and again it has slipped in quality. The servers are rushed and although incredibly nice and polite could just barely handle all the guests. The meat was WAY over cooked and we did not have the heart to send it back so we just ate it. We actually cancelled a second night that we had planned as honestly the food in the MDR was just the same.
I want to say whole heartedly how amazing the staff was on this ship. Kind, smiling and attentive. Graham Seymore is everything everyone always says about him and is very funny and talented. We saw him everywhere and he spoke to us several times. He is every bit as funny as John Heald on Carnival who was up until now my favorite cruise director. I am not sure which I would say it is now as they are both amazing. I commented to Graham that I thought so and he told me they are friends. I would think they probably are as I see John write about him on his blog quite often.
I loved this cruise overall. You cannot really have a bad cruise. We unfortunately had a medical emergency on board on Wednesday night. There was a call that went out for blood donors about 9:30PM right about the time we noticed the ship had really picked up speed. The vibration in the floor in the MDR was noticeable. My husband went to donate but they only took the three people in front of him and then just ended up taking his name. I am so impressed with the medical team and everything they did to help this man. They got him to Cozumel and had him off the ship by 4:00AM. He was flown to Miami to get him to a better hospital that day. The captain gave us a few updates to let us know. He seems like a kind man and was very visible during the cruise. He plays bass guitar and performed in one of the shows at night. He is Norwegian I guess. We really liked him a lot. We apparently also had a small fire in one of the cabins that same night and heard an emergency call ship wide when that happened. Finally to top it all off a man fell off the pier drunk as a skunk when we were getting ready to depart from Cozumel. They fished him out with a rope and a life ring and wheeled him down the pier in a wheelchair. He was fortunate not to have been hurt. The luck of the drunk I suppose.
I know if you sail this ship you will love her. We certainly hope to go on her again in the future.