We just got back from a 7 day cruise on the Freedom of the Seas. There were 11 in our party- half kids aged 8-14 and half adults. Half our our group were first time cruisers- one of which is the most motion sickness prone person I know.
We flew into Orlando the night before and stayed at the Hyatt at the airport. What a wonderful hotel that it! Nice pool, very clean, great restaurants, access to the terminal including Starbucks and a ton of shops. Very convenient!
We then took a limo with a trailer for our luggage out in the morning. With 11 of us, the cost was equal to taking a shuttle-and it was so nice to ride in style. The luggage trailer on the back kind of gave away the fact we were not celebrities, so sadly no paparazzi noticed us. :)
Embarkation was slightly painful, I must say. Perhaps it was the time we got there (around 1pm) but we stood in a hot sweaty line for about an hour and 45 minutes. This was the longest wait we have had of any of our cruises, so maybe we have just been lucky in the past. Anyway, that was really just a minor inconvenience.
We all got on the ship, scoped out our rooms and headed to the Windjammer for a snack. It was very full, but we were able to find a nice table by the window. It was there that we had our first mojito- and our vacation was in full swing!
We walked around the ship for a hour or so, stopped for a coffee at Cafe Promenade- and then opened a bottle of wine on our balcony- which was big enough to hold 6 of us- and watch us sail away. It doesn't get much better than that!
Our first night dinner was kind of a bust. Our friends were separated from us even though our dining reservations were linked. I had prepaid for the wine package, and they couldn't find us in their system until the second night- which was frustrating. We were sitting on a heavily vibrating spot -my husband was getting nauseous. We were worried about our friends who were seated elsewhere and we looked over at them, and they were having a great time! They had a great waiter, and they were on their main course before we even got our drinks and bread. Our service was SO slow- they were done 1 hour before us! The other tables around us were in an uproar as well, as it seemed there were 4-5 more tables experiencing the same thing. Anyway, we spoke the our Head Waiter- Erich- and he worked hard to fix it all. We ended up having a great experience from that night on. Customer Service is when you can make a comeback- and they certainly did!
I am going to mention below a few of our highlights- but overall we had a blast. Our room steward was really great- our room was very nice- and our balcony was wonderful. Our children were across the hall in a Promenade stateroom- which was spacious with a window seat. The beds were super comfortable. Too bad we didn't spend much time in them . . .
We have relaxed a whole lot more on prior cruises- but the combination of friends on this trip made for a much more frenetic pace. I don't think we slept more than 6 hours any given night- we did just about everything the ship had to offer.
Not to be missed:
1. The Flowrider! My husband and my son rode it over and over again. The rest of our group enjoyed watching them- the adults with mojito in hand.:) If you are not up for trying to surf or boogie board- I would definitely recommend watching other people try it - especially if you are a fan of the TV show "Wipe Out". Everyone eventually wipes out- and many people lose their trunks. I know it sounds mean that we thought that was good entertainment, but somehow it was! :)
2. The street parties! The one during our cruise was a tribute to British music- and it was amazing!
3. The Move It Move It Parade- So fun! My kids described it as "magical"!
4. The ice skating show- OMG! The choreography, the costuming, the stunts- UNBELIEVABLE!
5. The game show "Quest"- We just happened to be in good seats from the 80's party that was right before it, and stayed to see what "Quest" was all about as we had never heard of it. It turned out to be a highlight- my conservative brother in law ended up as the male team captain (thanks to us pointing behind his head). And, well, if you have seen the show- you may have an idea of how funny it turned out to be.
6. Boleros- Fun Latin music and a great bartender from Costa Rica (I can't remember his name). But we took Salsa lessons with Javier :)- so it gave us a great place to practice.
7. The wine tasting dinner at Portofino. SO worth the extra money. The food was spectacular, the service was amazing, the pairing were great. It was a nice way to have a quiet very upscale dinner. The Captain was in there at the same time eating with his family.
8. The evening shows- the quality of the entertainment on the Freedom was really quite impressive. We enjoyed the Beatles Live and Once Upon a Time immensely!
Overall, this was an amazing cruise. The food was good for the most part, the service was good, the ship was incredible.
Disembarkation was easy- unbelievably so. We had the same limo pick us up- and we were off to reality again.
I would highly recommend this cruise for families- our kids have not stopped talking about it and are begging us to go again. I miss our room steward and the mojitos:)- so we might just have to go again.
The Freedom is awesome!