After reading some of the reviews on the Freedom of the Seas over the last few months my husband and I had mixed emotions regarding our cruise. So here are our thoughts as first time cruisers.
Background: My hubby, me and our three boys are from Canberra, Australia. We have visited the US many times between us and thought for something different we should try a cruise. We chose the Freedom as last year when we visited Orlando we went for a drive to Cocoa Beach and saw the ship docked and said that we would like to try it.
On the accommodation: We had the family ocean view stateroom. It was very spacious it has 2 bedrooms, the master bedroom had a huge queen bed. I mean HUGE and another room with bunks and that room in itself was big too. In between was a sitting room and the bathroom and there is a pull out double sofa bed in there and you still had enough room to walk.
Our room servant was Cyril and he was fabulous we were greeted every night with a towel animal so cute. We were speechless when on our first night on board and Cyril came to have a chat and told us that the would be attending to our room twice a day. Great for nanna naps in the middle of the day as our bed would be made and pulled down for us for our bed time.
On the food and beverages: Well where do I start? We read somewhere that it was impossible to eat in the Windjammer, especially on the day of boarding. While day 1 the Windjammer was packed we were ushered in to the Chops Grill restaurant for seating. But this was the only time out of the 7 days that we couldn't sit out in the main area. A wide selection was available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As a family of 5 we really only used the Windjammer as there is no sitting times and most of the time the kids just wanted to eat and get back to whatever they were doing. The drinks offered in the windjammer are fruit flavoured cordials. The one thing we learnt was that we really should have bought a drink package. Cocktails on the ship differed in price. We did find out that that first day while the ship is docked at Port Canaveral the prices of any drink is more expensive due to US taxes, so be aware of that. We only ate at the main dining room on the last two nights and enjoyed it a lot. We were booked into the 8.30pm time slot and found it was way too late. The only reason we ate in the main dining room was because we spoke to the Maitre d' and asked if there was any way we could get in earlier. We never ate at any of the specialty restaurants so we can't comment on them.
Entertainment: We have to say we loved the shows, the ones that were put on were awesome. We never had a problem getting in even if we didn't have a booking. Graham the cruise director was a scream. And there was plenty of things to do around the ship of a day when and when not at sea.
Kids club: Well this is a sour point for us. Our boys are aged 11 (x2) and 1 x 12 yo. The younger two only just made it in to the voyages group. Whilst they did a lot and one of my boys enjoyed the group we thought that the fees if the boys wanted to stay through lunch was a bit harsh. It was around $6 per hour. I do understand that at night the fee is there and we never used the group after 10pm any how. And as for the 12 year old well he was thrown in to a group of kids between 12 and 18. And there was never any activities organized for this group. We really felt that 12 year old are a bit to young for this group. And maybe RCCI needs to look at an in-between group. we did provide this on our comments card.
Overall: We have to say we had a awesome time. The people who run the ship are extraordinary and the ship is a very well run ship. Embarkment was a breeze all up it it took about a hour
And we loved hearing from Captain Rob at noon every day, he was such a laugh. He was great at the Captains Q&A Session as well. We loved the cruise so much that we even tried to get on for the second leg of the cruise but unfortunately there were no rooms available. Next year we plan on returning to Freedom for an Eastern Caribbean (again), followed by the Western Caribbean cruise, totalling 14 nights. we can't wait!!!