Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by nopa9: Wonderful cruise with baby-in-tow
Overall Member Rating
Wonderful cruise with baby-in-tow
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
I cannot recommend this cruise enough! We are RCI platinum cruisers with this being my 6th cruise and my husbands 3rd. The big difference was that it was our first cruise with baby who was 11 months old. The best decision I ever made was to take her on this cruise!!!! We all had a blast. By far the best cruise Ive ever taken. A big reason for that was that the staff was so amazing. From the Captain, to dining room staff to the cabin steward every one of them doted over us. They were always asking if there was anything they could do for her or us. By the last few days EVERY staff member we passed knew the babys name and would stop and talk to her. She was so familiar with many of the crew she was letting them hold her by the end of the cruise (something she is usually very hesitant to do).
Cabin: Cabin was great! We were originally booked in a junior suite but with 11 days remaining the Royal Family Suite dropped the 5 person minimum and went on sale, so we upgraded. More The room was huge and we felt guilty only have 3 people in this giant room. It was good for the baby to have her own room and then we could enjoy our evenings and not have to worry about waking her since she typically goes to sleep at 7:30 pm. The aft view was a very interesting perspective and was great when leaving ports. There are 3 closets (though no walk in) and plenty of drawer space. WARNING: If you want a completely private balcony or an unobstructed view this cabin is not for you. Since the decks are staggered you can see almost everyone for 4 decks and they can see you. Also, there are giant steel beams everywhere so clear photos (and views) are tough to come by. Glad I got this room, but not sure I would do it again.
Food: I would agree with just about everyone that the Windjammer food is average at best. Sorrentos was okay, but a frozen pizza at home might be better. However, the dining room was pretty good! We are huge foodies and were very disappointed in the food on our last cruise on the Navigator 2 years ago. The food has made MAJOR improvement since then. The menu is not as dumbed down and the quality is much improved. The big surprise for me was the crab cake which was the best Ive ever had (and I live on the coast!)
The service in the dining room was beyond incredible thanks to Batman & Robin! Every night the baby would have fruit, yogurt and milk within 5 minutes of arriving. Even though we were My Time Dining and not Family Time, our Waiter and Waiters Assistant would have us in and out with 4 courses in 45 minutes (the time of the babies attention span after a busy day). Never once was my glass empty or did I have to sit looking at a dirty plate for more than a minute. Really cant say enough about the amazing dining room service.
We also did dinner at Chops one night. It was very good, though nothing to amazing. Service was good, not great. It was a nice change of pace, but one night was plenty for me.
Childcare: The one night we went to Chops we took the baby to the Aqua Tots daycare. I was very apprehensive even though she is in daycare at home which she loves. The center was well equipped and was a very good size. The child/adult ratio was the same as her regular day care. We booked the slot a few hours before we dropped her off. At drop off we were given a phone and told to call if we would like to check in which I of course did 20 minutes after we dropped her off. When I called I got a great report that clearly indicated to me they were actually spending lots of time with her and really getting to know her and not just a generic shes happy. When I picked her up she was happy and smiling with a graham cracker in hand. Despite my hesitation I was glad to get a couple of adult hours since she looked like she had a lot of fun. I would recommend it to other parents for a date night.
Labadee: It was amazing!!! Ive been to some of the best beaches around the globe and this was by far my favorite. I know its clich but words really cant describe the beauty of Labadee. The #1 reason we got a suite was so we would be able to get a cabana and it was worth every dime! I emailed the concierge 4 days prior to sailing just to make sure we got one. We were in S1 so there was plenty of shade for baby. The only slight negative is that it was close to where the cabana attendants hang out so we heard a lot of their conversation. However, to my amazement when our attendant saw the baby taking a nap he went and told the other attendants to keep it down and they did. What service!!! After that our attendant and the other attendants would come by and whisper to me to ask if I needed anything since I was hanging out with the sleeping baby. We will upgrade to a suite again on any cruise that goes to Labadee to make sure we get to go to Barefoot Beach and get a cabana again.
Falmouth: After being warned by one of the officers and Cruise Critic members to be very careful and not go out with my husband, we opted to just do a quick trip around the shops in the RCI section. Standard cruise shops; booze, jewelry and more jewelry (none of which I thought was a good deal or good quality). Went back early and enjoyed having the boat to ourselves.
Grand Cayman: Again, skipped the excursions, did a short walk around town and came back and let the baby enjoy some pool time.
Cozumel: After reading some great Cruise Critic advice we did the short walk to the Carnival pier (easy to figure out with the Carnival ship in) and had lunch at Panchos Backyard. BEST MARGIRITA OF MY LIFE! Food was not the special but the band was good and it was fun having Mexican food in Mexico. Shopped a little then headed back early since it was very hot that day.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Easy! Both took on 30 minutes each. Kudos RCI!
Nothing is perfect so here were the couple of issues we encountered. 1) While cleaning between cruises the glass divider between our cabin and the next one was shattered (we found this out later). All we knew was we kept finding glass pieces inside and out of the cabin (including having the baby hand me pieces of glass). When this was brought up to the concierge though it was immediately addressed and numerous staff sought us out to make sure it was cleaned up properly that day. 2) Also, on the first day we were delivered VERY moldy fruit on the fruit plate. When mentioning the glass issue we also mentioned this to the concierge and latter in the day an apology note, fruit basket and chocolate covered strawberries were delivered to our room from room service. 3) The concierge. Not a huge fan. Willy was a little rude at times and had the audacity to lecture us about being late when we arrived at 9:01 (should have been 9:00 am) for the golf cart ride to the cabana. He told us to come back at 10 am. When I ran into him at Labadee at 9:10 turns out the carts run all the time. After using the 4 most powerful words in the business language Who is your supervisor? we had our ride, an apology and a bridge tour (WHICH WAS AWSOME!!!). So all is forgiven.
Overall, would recommend to anyone, especially those with a baby!!! Some of the message boards made me wonder about taking a baby, but the crew and guest were fantastic. Im so glad I will have these memories forever.
PS Here are a few things for those traveling with babies:
-You dont need a nightlight. The bathroom door has a gap above and below and works great.
-Dont bring plug protectorsthere are no low plugs.
-The fridge is not that cold, but will keep room service milk cold.
-160 diapers was way too many for 7 nights.
-The swimmer diaper/no babies in the kids pools rule is enforced. Walking babies whose diaper is not submerged is ok in the H20 zone. The baby pool is pretty good though.
-There are almost no baby supplies for sale on the boat (luckily I packed for everything though)
-The toy checkout is great. Only bring one or two of your kids favorites. You can get plenty more there.
-I brought an umbrella stroller and am glad I left the big one at home. Fight the urge and bring the little stroller.
-Get the ray shade for the littler stroller (was a life saver) to keep your baby cool and happy.
-Labadee does have a paved sidewalk that works well for strollers
-Baby loved the parade on the last day at sea. Went 15 minutes to get the little balcony on deck 6 overlooking the parade so she had a great view.
-Tendering is very interesting, but not impossible with a stroller. Be prepared for the stairs though. There is no way to avoid it. Less
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Cabin review: FS9408
Cabin: Cabin was great! We were originally booked in a junior suite but with 11 days remaining the Royal Family Suite dropped the 5 person minimum and went on sale, so we upgraded. The room was huge and we felt guilty only have 3 people in this giant room. It was good for the baby to have her own room and then we could enjoy our evenings and not have to worry about waking her since she typically goes to sleep at 7:30 pm. The aft view was a very interesting perspective and was great when leaving ports. There are 3 closets (though no walk in) and plenty of drawer space. WARNING: If you want a completely private balcony or an unobstructed view this cabin is not for you. Since the decks are staggered you can see almost everyone for 4 decks and they can see you. Also, there are giant steel beams everywhere so clear photos (and views) are tough to come by. Glad I got this room, but not sure I would do it again. Read conflicting reviews about the hot water. Our experience was its scalding when its not near dinner time. Right before dinner on formal nights plan on luck warm at best.
CUDOS TO OUR WAIT STAFF!!!
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