We flew into Orlando 3 days prior to our 1/23/11 sail date. We booked a room on Priceline and stayed at the Renaissance Sea World. Beautiful hotel but lots of business travelers as they had a big realtor convention the time we were there. The grounds and hotel are beautiful and if going to Sea world it's right across the parking lot. We went to Animal Kingdom one day and took a taxi over there. It was around $30. Took Disney busing back to Downtown Disney and spent the evening there. Great time at Disney.
On Sunday we took Cocoa Beach Shuttle from our hotel to Port Canaveral. I would not take them ever again! We had called 2 days prior and wanted a private van to take our party to the port being picked up at 10:00 AM. They said no problem they would be there by 10:00 AM. At 9:45 AM the dispatcher called and said that the driver was stuck in traffic and would be there 15 minutes late. No big deal we thought. Then they called back and said that he would be 1/2 late. OK so we wouldn't be able to board by 11:00 AM like we thought but that's fine. Well they didn't pick us up until 11:20 AM! I called upset because now we were and hour and 20 minutes late and we had another couple waiting for us at the port. She told me "ma'am it's not a big deal at all your ship doesn't leave until 4:30"! This is my vacation and we wanted to be picked up at 10:00! I told her that we wanted some kind of a discount for them being so late. She said she would give us the cruise critic discount of 10% off. I already had that discount anyway so whatever. The driver that picked us up said her husband was tho other driver that was late and he wasn't stuck in traffic he was just lost! We all got in the van and to our surprise there where other people in the van, not private like the told us. The driver said we need to stop at another hotel as well which was out of our way to pick up 4 more people. I was not very happy. We didn't get to the port until 1:00. Our other travelers where already on the boat wondering where we were.
Embarkation: Since we got there at 1:00 there were 2 long lines. We still where on the ship by 1:35 so it wasn't to bad but still disappointing. Freedom is a beautiful ship! Staff is very welcoming. We went to the Windjammer and had lunch. Very busy and hard to find a seat as it was full. Good selection of food and I would say just average. Deserts are very lite which is good when on vacation we thought.
Went and looked around the pool decks and it looked very nice! We went up to the 10th floor starboard to see if our rooms where ready. We had 3 rooms all in a row, 1234, 1236 and 1238. Our room Stewart was wonderful! Great service!
He asked if we wanted the dividers open on our balcony's between our rooms. That was the best thing about our rooms! 3 big balcony's all open. Really nice. The rooms where very large as well. This is our 4th cruise and we have done 2 other balcony D3 rooms and one Promenade Room. This was the best.
We had our muster drill at 4:30 and set sail by 4:50 and the vacation on board began.
We ate in the main dining room at 6:00, deck 4 Issac's. Our table was right by the entrance to the main dining room. Claire was our waitress and she was great. Food over the week was average to above average. I thought there was lots of choices. My biggest complaint was that we had 3 tables around us with small kids. The one family had two small kids had two boys around 18 months and 3 years old. They 18 month old cried and screamed the whole meal! We could not believe that the staff would not say anything to the family. Everyone around us was looking at them! They had an I Pod playing a moving but the child was not happy. We thought this would be a one night thing but it turned out every night it was the same crying, screaming child! This is just not acceptable. The mother was pointing her finger yelling at the 18 month old and we just didn't enjoy ourselves during dinner because of this. The other tables with children where well behaved. I don't know why anyone would think an 18 month old could sit through a long formal dinner? Anyway our overall thought on the dinning room where fine except for that. Wait staff was excellent all week!
One night all six of us ate at Chops. I had never done this before so I really thought the food would be good. I had a ribeye and it had no flavor at all and was tough even though I ordered it medium rare. The veggies and potato's are served family style and were laking flavor and appearance. The waitstaff was excellent but for $25 per person extra I would not waste my money again and that was felt by all 6 of us. The best thing about Chops was the Mississippi Mud Pie! Excellent but not worth $25.
This is a beautiful ship that is going into dry dock to get a makeover in March 2011. We did smell some sewage in the aft of the ship a couple times but
nothing alarming. The promenade is beautiful. Overall ships appearance was a 4 star as some updating is needed but that's why she is heading to dry dock.
My biggest complaint about this ship is the amount of kids running around freely! One night at after the Quest which was around 12:30 AM we were in Sorrento's and there were a group of 12 to 14 year old eating next to us. There was one girl in the group and she was swearing like I have never heard. They were wild and unsupervised. We where in shock that the parents would let them be on there own so late? Is there not a curfew on the ship for this young age? Over the week we ended up seeing lots of kids this age group out and about late at night. Several times we saw kids in the starboard stairwell hanging out by deck 10. I am a parent of two girls and would never let my kids room free at those ages on a ship with 4000 people on board! These kids were not behaving and where saying things to each other like "I am going to push you overboard"! This was shocking that Royal Caribbean doesn't have a better policy to monitor this age group.
The other complaint is that the activities director "Belle" had activities for the kids on the Promenade. One night there was a "Pirate Show" which was a play with all little kids taking place while we were at sea. Of course the Promenade is where lot of people go while at sea. All We could hear through the whole Promenade was her irritating voice over the speakers directing this play! Not that I don't like kids but can't Royal Caribbean have these "kid activities" in an area where the parents can go and see the plays without having the rest of the ships passengers hearing the whole thing. That was really irritating, especially with the crying kid all during dinner. I can't tell you how many times I would be walking around the ship and a child would run into me, cut in front of me or be acting out during this trip. The 3 other cruises all with Royal Caribbean I have never seen this happen. Maybe it's just a larger ship and geared more towards families, not sure. During the evening shop one night we had family with 4 girls and 2 boys sitting in front of us. The mother was on her Blackberry the whole time, the son was talking and making fun of the entertainers, and the girls where chatting. Finally my husband said something to the family and the man next to me said "Finally you said something!" This is just not acceptable to us. These performers work so hard to deliver a good show, either watch the show or leave.
Labadee is just beautiful! Loves the beaches, activities, layout, very clean, service excellent. The bad was the lunch and the rudeness of the Haitians in the Artisan Market. Very pushy and rude. Didn't even get to walk through the market as we were stopped right away and felt overwhelmed. To pushy. Overall beautiful area. Did the Dragon Coaster and thought that was fun. Great view's!
They have a little tram that will take you from the beginning of the island to the back if you don't want to walk back and forth. Good drinks and service.
In Jamaica we went to Ocho Rios and I don't ever want to go back there. Dirty, pushy people! Like the Island Market Shopping area but this is off limits to the locals so you don't have that pushy feeling in there. Margaritaville was fun but pricey. People begging to sell your their wares on the way back to the boat. Didn't go away from the port here.
Grand Cayman is very nice and more upscale. We tendered in which was fine. Busy with 4 ships in port. Nice downtown and felt very safe. We took a private taxi on an island tour and went to Hell, Dolphin Discovery, Rum Factory and 7 mile beach. Nice tour. We ate lunch right by the downtown and I snorkeled right in front of the restaurant. Nice fish and very clean water. I would go here again, very nice.
Cozumel was so busy! With all the ship piers I think we had 6 ships in port. I was here 20 years ago and what a huge difference now. It has grown so much. We took a private taxi around the island. Stopped at Paradise Beach and looked around. Very nice area and I would stay here part of the day if I went back. Only $2 for a chair and nice beach with a great view! Stopped on the other side of the island at some little beach bar areas and it was beautiful on that side of the island. Went downtown and shopped a little but again very pushy port.
The last day was a sea day and it was cold and windy but still enjoyed sitting by the main pool. There were no chairs available after 11:00 AM so get there early! They had a band playing some of the day but it was old rock which is odd. I would have like to have some steel drums playing caribbean music.
Overall I would not go on this ship again or this itinerary. The ship itself is nice but just to many kids unsupervised and over running the ship. The other 3 cruises I have been on had a different more friendly feeling. The last 3 cruises I sailed out of San Juan and did the Easter Caribbean.