Well here goes! I have been reading cruise critic for the last 17 months since I found it after booking the cruise. Can't quite believe it's all over and I'm writing a review.
We flew Virgin Atlantic to Orlando International. We had free transfers to the Crown Plaza Airport for one pre-cruise night. On landing we had a telephone number to ring American Coaches to collect us. They told us to go to the lower level to the RCCL booth and they would meet us there. We duly went down in the lift and wandered with all the luggage up and down the concourse looking for the Royal Caribbean booth. After 20 minutes and being really tired I got frustrated. No one knew anything about a RCCL booth. We went outside to try to get a taxi but three times they refused telling us the Crown Plaza had their own transport and we didn't want to pay $20 when we didn't need to. They were only trying to be helpful. One suggested I rang the hotel and directed me to a free phone and then a miracle. I spotted a RCCL employee with a board walking up and down. There was no booth. Two ladies with uniforms were seated at a table with a small sign saying Royal Carribean. They'd been looking for us. I was so relieved. From that point on we were looked after totally.
We caught the bus to the Crown Plaza which was really lovely and had our one night before the big adventure.
The next day were were picked up by three coaches, There were a lot of people staying at that hotel. We were queued up outside for about an hour waiting for coaches. We got the last coach which actually was the best one as we weren't all crammed in and we could sit together. The trip to the Port was 3/4 hour long. We saw a dolphin on the way!
As we arrived in Port I could see Freedom of the Seas docked. A beautiful sight.
We got off and started embarkation. At one point during this almost cattle shovelling experience I turned to my husband Steve and said this experince will probably stop me from ever crusing again. I hated the crowds and the feeling of being trapped. One of the security points was broken which I feel was hindering the smooth process. (BTW this was about 1 pm) After we boarded and went straight to our stateroom I thought again about it all and what seemed awful at the time after didn't seem quite so bad. I'd know what to expect next time but no one tells you what's happening and that was the problem.
Our room was 9330 a hump cabin and wonderful. We had a bottle of sparking wine delivered which was there but the red velvet cupcakes I'd ordered didn't come till a few hours later.
We sailed away with wine and waved at the people lining the banks. It was fabulous. I was in awe of it all. There was music playing as well. We were starboard side and we docked every single time on this side. It had the best views. Not sure if that's the case all the time though.
We explored the ship and had lunch in the Windjammer which was busy but we got a table with ease.
Ok the food. The Windjammer was always nice but busy. Plus I seemed to pile my plate up with stuff that didn't always go together.
We are vegetarians so our options are limited.
Breakfast was always good. We had room service 2 days and Windjammer a few days. One day we ate in the main restaurant but that was a mistake. It was odd service. The waitress took every one's order and got it all wrong. They never asked if we wanted anything else and we were placed on a big table with no one else who spoke English and I felt out of odds with it all. Plus the hot water I was given for tea was cold. I felt embarrassed asking for more.
Room service however was good. Nice food, all hot and served well. The egg bar in the Windjammer was lovely and the vegetable omelettes which were precooked were lush.
We ate the little sandwiches from Cafe Promenade every day. They were tasty except one day the only veggie option was cheese ... yay we love cheese but they had made it in a roll topped with bacon... the actual bread had a bacon topping baked in the bread. Very thoughtless. The only option was the pizza at Sorrentos which was nice but one small slice wasn't enough and I felt too embarrassed to ask for two. The staff there weren't that helpful either... they NEVER smiled.
I loved the main dining room. We ate at 8.30 which in retrospect was too late. With the time difference that meant we ate at 01.30 in the morning. The dining room also seemed to judder a lot with the ship's movement and one night I had to leave as I felt sea sick.
Our waiter was Rolando who was caring and kind. But the vegetarian food was lacking. The main choice was Indian and I don't eat that but my husband liked it. One night was a cauliflower pancake which was tasteless and dry. One night was vegetable moussaka... not good and they had pasta every night. That was awful. Pasta with what seemed to be tinnned tomatoes shoved on. It was like bad baby food.
Rolando was embarrassed by our choices and even told the head waiter he wasn't happy. One night all I could eat was a plate of vegetable. They were cooked very well but not really what I expected. We would have been better eating in the Windjammer but I liked dressing up and I liked the whole experience and I LOVED the caesar salads and sourdough rolls. We only ate dessert once. They were ok but nothing special.
We ate at Johnny Rockets once. A fab time... food was GREAT. The veggie burger was moist and tasty and there was so much food. Loved it.
We also had a wine package 5 bottles but ended up taking 2 home. I think because the food wasn't too special we didn't have the whole experience that we would have drank wine with.
We sat at a table for 4 with a honeymoon couple who were lovely but I'm sure wanted just to be romantic on their own. They ate at Chops and the other place a few nights.
We didn't do any shows. Not our scene but we did watch Love and Marriage on the TV which was really funny. The cruise director Graham was English and really fun.
We did watch the circus parade on the last night which was colourful fun.
We dressed up for the two formal nights and sat in the bar watching the people who didn't. It was odd seeing some people in suits and long dresses next to those in shorts and flip flops.
The cocktails were great. Very reasonable prices. All good but the coke package was a waste of money. We hardly used it. Maybe one a day. I was too embarrassed to ask for it at the bars and the fill machine on deck we used a little. Wouldn't do that again.
We played carzy golf one night in the wind and had great fun. We watched the florider. Looks fun too.
The pools were lovely. We swam in all of them one night. The pool deck guards kept the kids out of the adult pool. I saw them chuck two out. I'd already told them it was for adults only and they replied 'don't you like kids?' I did laugh.
The weather wasn't fab. Haiti and Mexico were great but sail days were very windy and we had heavy rain 2 days. Our meet and mingle was great fun and we did a cabin crawl too. Loved that. Hope everyone from our group got home ok.
I was a bit sea sick a few days. Took pills and coped with it but did feel it a little and after we got off I felt like I was rocking for three days!
Never had a problem with lifts, used the stairs a lot. Loved FOS decor. Beautiful ship. Bought the 2 for $20 tee shirts and some jewellery in a sale.
Loved our balcony. Seemed to stay there a lot of the time.
Our suite attendant was Chris. Lovely kind gentle man. I loved him. Always kept the room perfect.
The ship never seemed crowded. There were a lot of Haitians on the ship which seemed fun. They never used the stairs :)
The internet was fast and good but ate my minutes. It always seemed to charge me more that I'd used. I timed it too. Oh well, It was fine I did what I needed to.
Haiti Labadee was the most brilliant place. Ignore the cholera nonsense on the boards. It was clean hot and amazing. A true Caribbean paradise.
Disembarkation was easy. We left at about 8am. They were an hour behind for some reason but the luggage was right there on the belt and we got a coach immediately to our post stay hotel Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress... the most AMAZING place in the world.... you have to go !!
We had a great time. It was an adventure. We met some fab people. Saw some amazing places and are totally shattered now.. will I cruise again? Maybe in a few years. I'll see.