My husband and I traveled with our 2 (1 month away from being 3) year old daughter and some family. We are diamond members having cruised with RCCL on 16 of the 20 cruises listed here.
The embarkation was quick, easy and organized. Stepping on to the ship was the first major disappointment. They had us get on at the outside area of (I believe) deck 5 and dropped us into a stairwell. Not quite the grandiose entry of the centrum you are used to seeing. No big deal.
We wondered the ship getting acquainted. We have sailed on both the Allure and Oasis so the WOW factor obviously wasn't there for the Freedom like I had expected.
We get to our room, and it looked like it hadn't been vacuumed in about 3 months. Dirt on the carpet was blatantly visible. The bathroom smelled like urine. We did ask the steward to clean it again to see if it would resolve. He did immediately, but the smell continued.
Though the room steward was nice - he didn't even try to address us by name (like we are always used to)- same with our waitstaff. Again, no big deal but certainly makes you feel welcome. Numerous staff were NOT HAPPY to be working on board - many wouldn't great us, smile or make an effort. On more than a few occassions I overheard staff excited to be leaving the cruise line "soon." Definitely makes you wonder.
Through out the years I have noticed MANY cutbacks. There were no where as many bar staff, pool staff, even the cabin stewards appeared to have more rooms. These people seem like they are overworked - eventually that cascades down to your customers.
We attempted to register our daughter for the 3 year old program. Her birthday is in a month, she is fully potty trained and has a vocabulary of a 6 year old. I was told the manager, Allister would be back at night to assess her. We show up, no Allister. Instead we receive a voicemail in our room from one of Allister's aides to tell us we were welcome to join the nursery, but not welcome in the kids program. At least have the nerve to talk to me to my face.
HUGE disappointment especially since on the Allure they told me the manager makes all of the decisions. My daughter is too big for nursery toys, if its the $8/hr they are looking for I would have gladly paid so she could have had fun at the kids events.
The food in the Windjammer was good - decent selection. Chopps was good too, although the price is starting to get too high and the quality of food is diminishing. The dining room was horrible. I continually ate the pasta and marinara EVERY SINGLE NIGHT because the food choices have been the same for the past 5-10 years and the quality is BELOW PAR. I was dying to get off and have a real meal. Never in my cruising experiences have I wanted to stop eating the food.
The ports were the 'usual' if you cruise with Royal Caribbean regularly. I am so sick of the same itineraries that I am up for a change. I can always go Southern Caribbean, which we love, but the clientele on board changes going out of Puerto Rico (most are from Puerto Rico and the staff cant perform the normal activities because everyone speaks Spanish).
The last straw for us was the entertainment. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE. The comedian was the same one we saw last year on the Allure and the year before on the Oasis. Great comedian, no new jokes for 3 years UGH. The shows were painful to sit through. I left every one half way through. The entertainment was poorly timed. For example about 50 'fun' things are going on between 12-1pm. First off its lunch time, secondly SPREAD IT OUT. After dinner we were so bored we ended up going to bed after the shows. There was nothing going on. There was a Dreamworks parade the first night.. at 11pm. REALLY?!? Although repeated, it would have gotten us all in the mood for some fun had my daughter seen it at the beginning. I have to say Alan the cruise director was funny and nice, but the activities were again HORRIBLE.
So we get to the end of our cruise - the first time ever happy to be going home. The first time in YEARS we didn't book another for later this year or next. My brother in law (only his second cruise) has only cruised once before on Carnival and said he like Carnival better than RCCL! I don't agree with that statement yet, but they are ALMOST equal to me at this point. My in-laws who came with us said they would never cruise again.
We came home and decided we love cruising, but RCCL is just not up to par anymore. We are officially booked on another line (Disney). Good luck RCCL.