We are a family of 5 with three boys ages 12, 14, 16. We sailed the Freedom on July 24-July 31. We flew to Orlando from Chicago the day before and stayed at Embassy Suites near the airport. The hotel was nice, clean, friendly. In the future, we would probably stay in Port Canaveral, close to the pier...for reasons below.
The morning of embarkation, our limo picked us up at 10:00am and we were off to the pier; filled with excitement. Once we reached the pier, a RCCI agent approached our driver and told him that we couldn't be dropped off until 2:00 or after due to a medical emergency on the ship....the prior cruise passengers still weren't off and the ship still hadn't docked; it was sitting in the water.
Our driver dropped us off at the nearby Radisson and we waited to take the shuttle bus with hundreds of others. Kudos to the Radisson Hotel; we used their very nice pool and they locked our luggage in a secure room. They really went out of their way for many people who hadn't even stayed there. Long story short; we waited at the hotel until approx. 4:30 before we were shuttled to the pier. Stood in line outside for another 1.5 hrs and walked onto the ship about 6:00pm. Definitely a test of patience. We found out that a medical emergency on the sailing prior resulted in the ship making a detour to evacuate a passenger that suffered a heart attack and was in critical condition. Obviously a sad situation. Although, we found out that Royal Caribbean knew of the delay the night before and could have sent out a heads up. We did get a spa coupon the night before though???
Stateroom: We had two adjoining balcony rooms on Deck 10. It took us all evening to find the proper person/department to open the divider on the balcony. Apparently there is only 1 key and it was MIA. Our TV wasn't working and after 3 days it was also finally fixed. We didn't care to watch actual shows but the interactive menu is where room service can be ordered and passengers can keep up to date on their sail and sign accounts.
Our stateroom attendant was always smiling but made many references to how overworked she was and the industry made cuts in staff. Got tired of hearing about it.
Dining room: The food was very good...although we noticed the much smaller portions. The service was ok the first couple days but def improved throughout the week. The cuts in this department were very obvious. Water wasn't refilled and you had one opportunity for bread. Coffee took way too long to be served. One night we left dinner and got our coffee at the Cafe Promenade.
Windjammer: Lots of great choices. Water, flavored water, juice, tea were always ready in their glasses for guests to enjoy. We didn't do the beverage cards for our kids or us. The food was great here. Much better than the Carnival's lido buffet. Staff were always available and willing to find a table if it was crowded.
Royal Promenade: Very beautiful. The shops are very nice with something for everyone to see and enjoy. We really liked the Britto boutique. The Cafe Promenade serves coffee/hot chocolate/pastries til very late. Specialty drinks are extra.
Cupcake cupboard: Cupcakes were delicious! They cost an extra $2.50 but we thought it was worth it.
Vintages: a wine bar, always crowded and lively
Bull and Bear: a bar that was also fun and inviting
Pools: We loved the pools on the Freedom. Much better than other ships we sailed. Never seems overcrowded. Saving was an issue but we moved the towels over and helped ourselves to a chair that was unused for a while.
A few pointers: Shampoo avail in a pump inside showers. Plenty of hangers; about 15 in each stateroom. No vent in bathroom, the water in bathroom sink was painfully slow :), staterooms are very stuffy, forgot our room spray.
WIFI: Royal Caribbean's minute is def different than a 60 second minute. The Internet is very slow and even though you log out of the browser, the clock is still ticking as far as they are concerned. We had to shut down each time we were done with Internet. They showed that we used 8 hrs of Internet when we really only used MAYBE 30 minutes per day and we we had it for 6 days. We had to check email because we had a house sitter watching our pets. Watch out for this.
Labadee Haiti: I will review this here since it wasn't included on the port listing. We were here about 8 years ago. Much has changed. There are several different beaches that you can take a tram ride to. We really enjoy the artisan markets where the locals sell their goods. What a great culture experience for kids to see. They do not touch you. They are actually positioned so that you do not have to walk through their "shops" if you don't want to. We bought many items here.