Our son is a student at F.I.T. in Melbourne, so we flew in to Melbourne Airport a couple days early to visit our son. What a fantastic (but small) airport Melbourne has! I would highly recommend flying into this airport. Very friendly people, clean and not crowded.
Our son drove us up from Melbourne and dropped us off at the pier around 11AM. We went through security where no one there was very pleasant. Just very pushy. Would it kill them to smile a little? Anyways, once we made it up the escalator to the check-in area, there was a gentleman directing people to appropriate lines. He was very nice. Lines moves quickly and we were checked in and on the ship in less than 30 minutes.
Went right up to the buffet and then went to explore this huge ship. Our room was ready for 1PM and it was very clean. Our housekeeper immediately introduced himself to us and asked us if we had any special requests. Very nice young man. Through the week he did a fantastic job!
While there were a lot of people on board, I never felt the ship was crowded. The ship was in very good shape considering it was going into dry dock in two weeks.
Our table for two was very nice. Our two waiters, while the first night, got our orders mixed up with another table, recovered very nicely the rest of the week. They could not do enough to make our dinners special. The head waiter the first couple of nights didn't really come around to our table. However spend a lot of time at the tables around us. It made us feel a little slighted but then by the fourth night, he came to our table and ended up being very nice. The food was good. It has been better in the past. Many things were not anymore on the menu so you could see the cut backs. I had Roasted Prime Rib which was the chiefs featured dinner one night, and it had no taste at all. Some of the soups were broths that had a vegetable, noodle or meat or fish just walk through it, with little flavor however the cold soups were delightful. The violin and piano music was wonderful each night and made the night extra special!
The buffet at breakfast was good. No complaints. Lunch was OK. There were some days where there really was the same food or I could not find any food to my liking. Kinda disappointed in the buffet a couple afternoons. Had lunch one day in the dining room. It was OK and very limited on the menu but the salad bar was fantastic. Room service was great! It was quick and the food was good.
The entertainment was very good. Liked the comedians and the music venues. The ice show was fantastic. The captain was very entertaining too and very approachable. The cruise director was also very nice and did a great job.
The solarium pool had the pool chair hogs who saved chairs all day for their books and shoes. I really wish RCCL would get a little more on top of this "chair saving" also, there was not suppose to be children in this area yet, there were parents with toddlers and babies sitting in this area while the kids cried or ran around. RCCL personnel would see them sitting there and yet did nothing to ask them to move to the family areas. This was disappointing. Hot tubs were unbearably HOT! I think the temperatures needed to be turned down. As you went into one tub, it burned! No one used it. The other tub was almost as hot but bearable. I will say that the pool decks were kept clean as well as the rest of the ship.
The ports of call were fine. Coco Cay was OK. BBQ was horrible! We went back to ship for lunch. The tendering process though was very quick.
Food on promenade deck was very good as well as the parades and entertainment on the promenade. Loved the Captains announcements at noon. I just wish it didn't sound like he was announcing a horse race. By the end of the week I could keep up with him. The booklets that we got for being past cruisers were a waste. We use to get a free trip to Johnny Rockets (no service charge) and instead the coupon booklet gave us buy 1 milk shake get 1 for free. All the coupons were really useless except the free pull on the slot machine. I won a t-shirt and my husband won a key chain. They really cut back terribly on the coupon booklet and there were no free gifts in our stateroom like in the past (they use to give you a baseball cap, for example). So not impressed by that.
Finally, Disembarkment was extremely organized. It took us from having our number called, to getting off the ship, to going through customs and finally getting our bags and out at the curb waiting for out son to pick us up...20 minutes! I was impressed! In all I found everyone on the ship to be professional, delightful and had a great time and would definitely cruise Freedom again. I really enjoyed the Captain!