From the moment we approached the pier we noticed this was a very modern vessel, much more than those "old" ships that were built just five years before. The attention to detail in construction and amenities (save one or two exceptions - I'll get to that in a moment) were spectacular. Even better, the service and attention provided by almost the whole crew was higher than expected, and of course, expectations of service in cruise ships is quite high.
Here's a list of things that were awesome (in no particular order):
Stateroom service (thanks O'Neill!)
Overall attention to my toddler: every crew member smiled or played with my 3 1/2 y/o boy anywhere on the ship. He really felt special - and so did we!!!
Chops Grille - Great service, great food. This is what main room dining used to be in more glamorous cruising times!
Amenities - too many to list, but if you find a way to get bored on this ship, then there's no hope for you. Whatever your More
taste or style, there's something for you to do.
Our server - you were great Edwin. Very friendly yet professional. Thanks for always making my family happy.
Entertainment - great shows, especially the ice show. Way to go guys!
Now here's a list of things we didn't like:
Too big a ship - walk walk walk. I know, after all the food I need to walk, but this is too much. With the big size come the big crowds. Elevators couldn't keep up, lineups were sometimes long and the windjammer was too crowded. I don't know how the crew managed to keep up, but they did.
The H2O Zone. This is the reason we chose this ship - so our toddler could spend his vacation days in a kids water park (he loves them). Unfortunately it became the biggest letdown. The water was ice cold (not lukewarm or cold - ICE COLD) and the moment he touched the water he instantly trembled non-stop, and he has a high resistance to cold (we're from Canada). Some sections of the H2O zone were warm one or two days, but that was the exception. This gave us an indication that they had the ability to warm up the water a bit, but when we asked, we were told that this wasn't the case, except for the jacuzzis. One time I (nicely) asked a pool attendant why a small part of it was warm, and why the rest was so unbelievable cold. She laughed without answering. I asked her why she was laughing, and she said that they don't have to ability to warm the water. I asked her to let me show her, and she refused. She then brushed me off. I felt completely frustrated but decided against making a big deal our of it since I didn't want to ruin my family's day. In short, if the H2O Zone is an important part of your expectations, stay away from this ship.
Some of the food. Oh how the fancy have fallen. Cruising prices have fallen and the one gauge to measure the impact is in the main dining room. Meals are shown nice but quality is not what it used to be. Who can we blame? Probably us. We demand more amenities, more staff, more food, more stuff, more more more, at a lower price. Our duck was dry and hard, the prime rib was cafeteria style, desserts are right out of the supermarket and every appetizer was lackluster. You can add fancy names and create a nice menu, but the quality was nowhere near what the professional setup would have you believe. Too bad the food didn't match the level of service and ambiance they provide. Want to eat nice? Try a specialty restaurant.
Labadee's beaches. At least the ones we tried were impossible. You can't get in the water because there's no sand - it's all rocks, and sharp ones at that!
Overall this was a great cruise. Great value for money! Great staff (for the most part) and great ship. You won't be disappointed, unless, of course, you have a pool-loving toddler. Less
Freedom of the Seas Cruises to the Western Caribbean
Beautiful! Go outside the port facilities and take a local cab. For $60 or $80, he can drive you to Sancho's Beach (beautiful private beach) and then drive you around the island or wherever you want for 4 hours or so.