Cruising dates: April 17-24
Itinerary: Port Canaveral, Labadee, Falmouth, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Ship: Freedom of The Seas
Our family: myself, my husband, our 7 year old daughter and 18 year old son
We booked a superior balcony cabin (D1) for 4 of us. The cabin had 2 twin beds (the kids slept in them) and 1 queen size sofa-bed for us. The sofa bed was made by the stateroom attendant twice a day - in the morning and at night. We never saw how our room was cleaned, but it always was done very well and in the time convenient for us. The room was big enough for 4 of us and for our 5 huge suitcases.
The ship was big and magnifficient! Very clean, with lots of common spaces, relatively huge pools etc. etc...
Our daughter spent every single minute of her free time at the kids club. They really know how to entertain kids. The had face painting, pirate party, pillow fight, circus show, talent competition and many many more activities.
I was worried about my teenage son at first - could he find friends, wouldn't he be bored... But he found friends of his age on the very first night and spent time with then during the whole cruise. We saw him only when we went on shore for our excursions. Their group first met at the Crypt lounge. Then they mostly hang out on the upper deck - above the Sky bar - and all around the ship.
The ports we stopped in were all interesting for us since we never visited them before.
1. Labadee is just the beaches - you can chose calm beach (Columbus Cove), waivy beach (Dragon Bay) or Barefoot Beach(if you are a lucky occupant of Grand Suite or above cabin). The lunch buffets were set up in 4 different locations, next to the beaches, very convenient. There were lots of shade and beach chairs for everyone. Bring some singles to tip the beach attendants who insist on bringing you chairs and drinks (you can do it yourself if you want).
2. Falmouth is still being constructed, but it was not so bad as we expected - same craft sales, same margarita booths as in every port. Actualy Falmouth looked a lot as Grand Cayman port. We bought Grand Jamaica and Dunn's River Falls trip from the ship. The trip was 7 hours long. 2 hours drive each way. We visited working banana plantation, then stopped for a lunch at Jamaica Inn resort and completed our trip at Dunn's River Falls. We were not impressed at all. The plantation was interesting but not worth 2 hour long trip each way. Dunn's River Falls worth a visit only if you are planning on climbing them. The steps there are very very high, some more than 1 meter high. They are slippery, the water is cold. No one from our group climbed the falls. We just took some pictures and went knee deep into the water. Next time when in Jamaica I would book the simplest snorkelling trip or just a day on the beach.
3. Grand Cayman - we booked Stingray encounter trip and enjoyed it a lot. The water in the Stingray city is very clear, beautiful, warm. You are swimming in the middle of the sea - no shore in the sight. It was magnifficient! But if you are not tall enough, if you are not a good swimmer or if you have small children - make sure to bring swimming defices (like inflatable life jacket or something like that) because it can be deep at the sight where your boat is ancored. The sandbar is really 2-3 feet deep, but to get there you will need to swim 5-10 feet. The boat did have some life jackets, but they were not comfortable for our daughter and my husband had to carry her to the shallow place. Being not that tall himself it was a challenge. But after that we had a time of our lives! Stingrays were nice, but I was more impressed with the beauty of the sea.
4. Cozumel - we booked a Dolphin Encounter - in shallow water for 3 of us and more advanced (pull and ride) for our son. It was also very interesting and nice. We actually spent 40-45 min in the water with the dolphins. After the session they offer you to buy the pictures. We negotiated and bought 2 DVDs (one the full recording of our group's activity, the second one - our son's group) and all our pictures on 2 more CDs for only $195 total(without the negotiation the price would be $700!!!). This is kind of funny. You need to remember that you are in Mexico and have to negotiate.
The food in all the restaurants we ate at was good with lots of choices. We ate all breakfasts and lunches at Windjammer Cafe and all our dinners at the Main Dinning Room. The waiters all were nice, fast, funny. We had the great time.
The only thing that I would improve on the ship was the temperature of water in the pools - it was just freezing! I don't understand why they don't keep it heated, just a little. I noticed that just few adults used the pools - mostly small kids who probably don't mind the cold water. Adults preffered 2 huge hot tubs located on the both sides of the adult pool area. That's where I spent my "pool" time.
Also, just remembered, since they added DreamWorks experience you can get photographed with the characters (Shrek, Fiona, Lion Alex etc...). BUT you can not take pictures of your child with them with your own camera - they want you to buy their pictures and pay $20+ per picture. They know that you can not refuse your child the pleasure of having the picture with her favorite character and use it. This was very unpleasant difference from our Disney Cruise experience where even though the professional photograph takes the pictures you still can duplicate it with your oun camera. In my opinion it was "cheap" of Royal Carybbean. So, if you have a child who wants to be photographed with ALL the characters, concider to buy ALL your pictures on the ship's CD. ALL your pictures taken during the cruise will be transfered on CD and it would cost you $249. The more pictures you will have, the cheaper each picture will be for you. We didn't know about this option until the last 2 days of the cruise and only had 35 pictures, but could have many more.
In conclusion I only can add that we all had GREAT TIME on this cruise and I would recomment this ship and cruise to all my friends.