I sailed with my husband and son and his family on Jan. 16, 2011. We had 2 children in our group, six and nine. My husband and I have sailed before, our last two cruises being on another line. I was very anxious to return to Royal Caribbean! To start at the beginning-the staff at the port were wonderful. Everyone was happy and helpful. Boarding was handled well and we were on quickly. The Freedom is a great ship. It is very clean and well maintained. Our cabins were in an excellent location and the size was very good. We had adjacent cabins. This worked out very well for a family with young children and the need to babysit once or twice. The beds were excellent - comfortable and roomy (my son is 6'7"). The pillows were also very good. Our cabin attendant did a very good job with keeping things shipshape. She could use some better training in towel folding as her designs were a little lame! We were looking forward to a set dining time rather than freestyle. This is where we noticed the biggest difference. Our main dining waiter, Tyrone, was excellent, as was his assistant,Ann. The staff in the other areas (breakfast, lunch, and the Windjammer) left quite a bit to be desired. My husband feels they need better training.I feel they just don't care. Most of the staff we interacted with never listened to what you said. Every request needed repeating or clarification. Small requests like no ice or lemon with your water were usually ignored. Very little personalization was noted. One waitress in the Schooner Lounge actually argued with my daughter-in-law about a wine selection and a switch that had been made. A breakfast hostess in the dining room on level three was not very pleasant. She was curt and never smiled. She made little effort to made the customer happy.
The pools and hot tubs were superb. This is the first cruise we've been on where the pools and hot tubs were always open. This is a great feature. And these pools and tubs were very clean. The water was crystal clear with minimal smell of chlorine. The hot tubs were actually hot. Another plus is the adults only pool and tubs. The only negative to the pool area were the revolving doors onto the deck. I realize they stop the wind but half the time they didn't work and the other half of the time they just got jammed up with people not understanding the mechanism. A very poor design.
The cruise director, Graham Seymour, is a great asset. He is funny, talented and approachable. The shows were wonderful. The entertainment in the lounges was so-so. On the plus side was the piano man in the Schooner Lounge. Mike McCabe was very entertaining. Although his singing left a little to be desired, his piano playing was wonderful and he was very comical. A large crowd every night attested to this.
We had a great time on the Freedom of the Seas. I was very happy to return to a Royal Caribbean ship. I like set dining and individual tipping.