My wife and I were on the Dec 18th sailing of the freedom of the seas with Georgetown Grand Cayman and Cozumel Mexico as ports of call. This was our 4th cruise and it was the best so far. All I can say is WOW. Royal Caribbean sure knows how to create a great cruise experience. Our 1st cruise in 2006 on the Voyager of the Seas was wonderful, and I was a little worried that the memory had grown to be super-realistic. I was afraid that the experience would live up to the memory of that wonderful cruise. However, my worries were quickly put to rest once on the Freedom. Our second and third cruises were on the Celebrity Mercury (now sold to another carrier) and the Carnival Paradise, in 2009 and 2010 respectively. After those 2 cruises I was wondering if the 1st was a fluke, because they were both fairly lame. So what has made the Royal Caribbean experience better in my experience.
1) Service: On both the Freedom and Voyager we found the staff to be MUCH more friendly and seemingly happier. This made out trip so much more pleasurable.
2) Especially on the Freedom...the shows were so much better than on any other ship so far. The performers were incredibly talented and professional. On our other cruises the shows were much more "glee club-ish".
3) The ship...holy cow what a wonderful vessel. The only complaint was a little surface rust on the outside...but on the inside it was always kept pristine. By the way the water pressure in the shower was wonderful...better than out home in fact. The beds have a memory foam topper which gave us the best comfort we have ever had. I would say that there was a slight vibration in our stateroom which was a bit annoying at times but the ship dis not seem to have the "cruise ship sway" that we've experienced on every other cruise. It is a very stable ship.
4) Although the Windjammer buffet was on par with the other cruises we've been on (slightly better than golden corral) the food in the main dining room was exceptional. I had several dishes that were amazingly delicious. Out waiter was excellent (Ronaldo for the Philippines... shout out) he made our dining experience wonderful.
5) the attitude of the fellow cruisers was the best we've seen. The people were so willing to participate in the activities. Nobody was shy and everyone was in a great mood. This stood out compared to our previous 2 cruises.
So what didn't I like? The dream works experience wasn't too entertaining if you didn't have kids. Basically people dressed up as Shrek etc. I could have done without. As usual the pool side chairs were saved with towels all day despite signs being posted against saving chairs. This was typical of every cruise we've been on but I don't blame RCI, that is just typical of rude people. Because it was such a big ship, the tendering process took a while. I think we waited 1-2 hrs to tender off the ship in Grand Cayman, partially our fault because we slept in that day.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to out next cruise on the Oasis of the Seas in November 2013.