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70 Orlando (Port Canaveral) to Caribbean - Western Cruise Reviews

We have sailed twice on this ship because we were very impressed the first cruise.There is always plenty to do and it is a beautiful ship.Entertainment was good and so was the food.The second cruise they were using the terminal for the ... Read More
We have sailed twice on this ship because we were very impressed the first cruise.There is always plenty to do and it is a beautiful ship.Entertainment was good and so was the food.The second cruise they were using the terminal for the Oasis and it was extremely easy to drop off the luggage and park the car.All cruise terminal should be this nice and user friendly. The cabins could use a slight upgrade with new carpet and decor,but it's in overall good condition.We were on deck 7 and we didn't experience any problems with our state room.The ports were great and we did an excursion at all 4 ports.In Grand Cayman the dexlux city sand bar swimming with sting rays was a very good experience. Ilsa Roatan excursion at the Gumblimba Preservation park was another good choice but were not imformed that you could bring swim gear and enjoy a private beach while there.It was very hot the day we were there and a swim would have been great so remember to take swim suits.Next stop was Costa Maya and we drove on a bus to the Choccoben Mayan Ruins.This was interesting and we enjoyed our tour guide.On to Cozumel where we went out on a limb and I booked the Ilsa Passion by Twister.This is a big speed boat that drives for several miles up the coast and on the way to the private Island with the most wonderful beach,your driver will do a 360 turn with the speed boat.You are buckled in and have on a life vest so you are secured.My husband and I loved the speed boat trip to and from the island.we enjoyed all of our excursions and I booked with RC on line about 2 weeks prior to departure and they hand delivered the envelope with all the tickets to the excursions to our state room within hours after departure . Thanks Royal Carribean for a great week on The Freedom of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We chose to take this cruise because we really enjoyed our cruise last year on Freedom's sister ship Independence. We stayed in the same aft facing junior suite as we did on Independence. Our expectations were surpassed on a daily ... Read More
We chose to take this cruise because we really enjoyed our cruise last year on Freedom's sister ship Independence. We stayed in the same aft facing junior suite as we did on Independence. Our expectations were surpassed on a daily basis. Port Canaveral was confusing. All of our documents gave numbers for the port locations but the signage going into the port was all in letters. We figured it out after a couple of u- turns. We arrived at 10:30 and were on the ship within 15 minutes. We elected to carry our own luggage off the ship and were on our way in the car by 7:30 am. The ship was in good shape and we frequently saw crew cleaning, painting and doing general maintenance. The size and layout of the Freedom class is ideal for us- not too big, not too small and not too crowded. We rarely encountered a line for anything. Our cabin was very comfortable and was kept nicely by our cabin attendant. We like the aft facing suite for the larger balcony and the view. It also tends to be quieter since it is at the end of a long hall and doesn't get much traffic. The food was excellent. Windjammer food was a better quality and variety than previous cruises. The dining room was about the same as last year. Similar choices on a fairly limited daily menu. Sabor was excellent. Our meal there was the best ever on a ship and one of the best ever anywhere. We participated in many of the ship's activities- contests, raffles, shopping, solarium pool area, spa, bars, casino, bands- as well as time just relaxing. We did not attend any of the theatre performances as we took that opportunity to do other things that were less crowded since many guests were in the theatre. The staff and crew were top notch. All of them looked us in the eye, smiled and greeted us no matter where they were or what they were doing. It was truly 5 star service. If we had a question and they did not have an answer they made sure to find someone who did. Our dining room servers- Henry and Youlando- were attentive and helpful with great senses of humor. Our cabin attendant- Erlinda- seemed like a family member to us always smiling and always quick to take care of anything we needed. We had shore excursions on Roatan and Cozumel. Both were good. Gumbalimba on Roatan was very interesting, fun and informative. It started late so we did not have much time afterward to do much more exploring. The America's Cup event on Cozumel was the most fun excursion we have ever done. Lots of fun and camaraderie. It also started late which did not leave much time for other exploration. The shopping on Costa Maya was excellent. All in all this was an excellent cruise that gave us memories that we will keep for years. We have already booked two cruises for next year. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This was the first cruise for our family of four including two teenagers and we had a wonderful time! Embarkation was easy. After a crowded lunch in the Windjammer buffet, our cabins were ready at 1:15. They were roomier than expected ... Read More
This was the first cruise for our family of four including two teenagers and we had a wonderful time! Embarkation was easy. After a crowded lunch in the Windjammer buffet, our cabins were ready at 1:15. They were roomier than expected (ocean view with balcony) and very clean. The ship was large and offered lots of activities that appealed to our teenagers and to us. We played about 4 different types of trivia, went to meditation class, and almost all of the shows. The shows exceeded our expectations - the Broadway-style shows were excellent, a magician's show was flashy and fun and the ice skating show was amazing. We also found a number of quiet spots on the ship to relax - the Olive and Twist bar during the day was quiet with great views, walking on deck 4 was quiet and shady. My husband enjoyed the Bull and Bear pub for beer selection and the kids loved getting all the pizza and ice cream they wanted. We did not try any specialty dining as we liked the quality and choice offered by the included dining. The staff was universally very friendly and helpful and the ship is constantly being cleaned. Our shore excursion snorkeling in Costa Maya was great, but the water was rougher than we anticipated. We all loved zip lining in Roatan and highly recommend it. We skipped formal excursions otherwise, but we had a great day on the beach at the Westin in Grand Cayman and at Mr. Sancho's in Cozumel. Those beach days were a highlight for us. As for negatives - we did not like the constant push to buy stuff like watches, special meals etc. Tendering on and off Grand Cayman was time consuming and frustrating. On cruising days, there are never enough chairs by the pool. We chose "My Time" dining and would not do that again. We thought we could flexibly make reservations each day but the reservation times quickly filled up and we were stuck with an undesirable table at the entrance of the dining room at 5:45 each day. I would pick a fixed dining time in the main room and stick with it. However, eating breakfast and lunch in the main dining room was a treat and we would do more of it next time. Overall, as first time cruisers, the trip vastly exceeded expectations and we would recommend this ship, the staff and the itinerary! Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was a different experience and a new boat for us. I certainly learned the hard way about using gift cards to fund my sign and sail pass. Bare with me through the rant. I was short on cash this trip-and unlike the previous sailing ... Read More
This was a different experience and a new boat for us. I certainly learned the hard way about using gift cards to fund my sign and sail pass. Bare with me through the rant. I was short on cash this trip-and unlike the previous sailing on the liberty of the seas, I had always just used a credit card attached to my sail pass. I was on a budget this year-and needed to use gift cards. 1. you cannot load cash into your sign and sail with giftcards from the carnival website-you must go to the guest services desk and have them load them onto your account. This is where all the trouble began. I literally had SEVEN $100 gift cards. So the gentleman loaded them all and then he said to me 'better keep them on hand just in case'. Literally by the next day my sign and sail card was declined and I had to go to the desk again. None of the mastercards went through-ONLY the american expresses took without issue. The girl behind the desk let me use their satellite phone to call the credit card company. I was told there was a 7% fee for using the card, so when the gent first loaded them-none of them took. The girl then had to reload ALL of the mastercards for a lesser amount. When I got home I checked all the balances leftover and they were crazy all over the place. Moral of the story? Don't save your gift cards, just use cash or one credit card if you can help it. 2. the purchasing of water was cheaper this time, about $4.50 a case, and is easily delivered to your state room on the first day. The drink restrictions have changed-but you can still carry on 1 bottle per adult, and a 12 pack of whatever beverage [cans] you want to haul around. No more coolers though. 3. We hit 4 ports this round, Amber cove [went atv'ing it was boring but a nice breeze made it worth while]. Also in Amber cove is a really nice pharmacy-take advantage of it! I purchased prednisone and wished I got more. St. Thomas [I highly recommend china king [next door to hooters], they have the best mongolean beef ive ever eaten. The jewelry shops there are a joke. Don't bother thinking you're getting a good deal any more-I spoke to several jewelers about random diamond pieces they had in their shops [and we're talking 1-2cttw rings of melee diamonds] and they were OUTRAGEOUSLY priced. Then we hit up San Juan and took an ATV excursion there to a 2200 acre working farm. READ the instructions on your tickets! You need your drivers license and a credit card for damages to the ATV [of which you get back your full receipt if there was no damage] and it was WELL worth it. Not for the light of heart, you will get banged up and bruised if you're afraid of the machines. It is some serious hard core riding. Two hours worth to be exact. I came home muddy from head to toe. Another GREAT surprise in San Juan are the street vendors!!! Every accessory you could ever hope to own ladies [and I DO mean every-especially hand bags.. wink wink, and WALLETS!] just gorgeous. Our last port was Turks and Caicos. The entire island is one big white sand beach. But this is not for the faint of heart. I hope you have an umbrella of your own-because fighting an entire cruise ship for a spot on the beach outside the dock was more than we could handle. There is not a lot of shade..plan on bringing the strong block and melting, the heat and humidity on the 4th excursion day did us in. Let's talk about the boat, the staff and the amenities for a moment. This is my 3rd or 4th cruise with carnival now and until this point we never wanted to pay extra or feel the need to seek dining experiences outside of our designated dining time. But we were flexible this trip and ventured out. Guys pig and anchor was only open for about 2.5 hours during lunch, and if you didn't get there early you were forced to stand in line that sometimes went to the back of the boat [even though it is located in the middle of the boat]. To experience it once was well worth it. Guy also has his burger joint open for most of the afternoon and we made SURE we got one of those daily! It was delicious. Dinner one night was at Cucino del capitano, the Italian restaurant. For $15 a person, you received a hearty appetizer, a large entree and a delicious dessert. I know the main dining room is awesome but don't miss out on this experience, the food was wonderful. The only thing we did not try, was the steakhouse, because we could have gotten a $20 uptick steak at dinner in the regular dining room, vs paying $40 each in the steakhouse. Let's talk about the buffet....it was cold and nasty, every time we tried to eat there at breakfast-so we stuck to the sea day brunch and breakfast in the dining rooms. They were great. This was the first cruise on carnival where we avoided the buffet [except for the mongolean wok for lunch]. Big praise to our head waiter Sheldon and his partner Lehron on the Magic. They were OUTSTANDING. We had the 2nd largest suite on the ship, room 7372. The beds are SO small.. but the room itself was enormous. The closets are disjointed and in 2 different places. The balcony is oversized [really nice]. There was a deep jet tub to soak your bones if you wished, and the cabin steward was awesome. The bad and the ugly The casino was nothing more than a giant ashtray. The air quality in it was poor, and my $50 casino credit [promised to me 2 cruises ago but was never delivered] was once again not on file. This is the 2nd cruise in 2 years they have ignored my credit, but promised it would be on the next one. For this reason [and because im tired of looking like an idiot going to the cage and asking for it when they deny me] I didn't gamble at all. But you can smell the casino clear across the hall down to the end of the shops on level 5. It's really kind of gross. The comedy club was entertaining [not as funny as the 4 women in the front row were] but it was good enough for the evening. Bingo has gotten more expensive im afraid. There are *AUTO* gratuities on all your drink tickets now, that was something we had not experienced before. So look out for those. I found out that I can remove the auto gratuity at the end of the cruise [I didn't know I could before] because I tip daily, all of the staff I encounter that provide service, and one big tip to the waiters in the dining room on the last night. I have never seen the inside of the red frog pub until this cruise. I must have been CRAZY not to go in there. SO much fun during the day, all kinds of great drinks, snacks, games.. GREAT way to fill some time on your sea days. We played a lot of trivia this go around as well, just a good time to be had by ALL..THANK YOU CARNIVAL! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Having just returned from a cruise on Norwegian Spirit, I have to say what a very pleasant surprise I had. I had read many reviews that had made me doubt my choice, mostly about the age and condition of the ship. I am happy to say, that ... Read More
Having just returned from a cruise on Norwegian Spirit, I have to say what a very pleasant surprise I had. I had read many reviews that had made me doubt my choice, mostly about the age and condition of the ship. I am happy to say, that although not as grand as some of the other ships I have cruised on, it was in very good condition, clean and comfortable with ample restaurants and activities. The service was second to none and the entertainment was very good. The atmosphere was extremely relaxed and I really could not fault the holiday. Stirrup Cay was a lovely island (privately owned by NCL) and the ships crew worked very hard providing a bbq and buffet on the beach, the reggae band played and the drinks were readily available. I personally liked the 'anytime dining' and whilst there is no pressure to dress up, the majority of people did. It really was 'freestyle' cruising. I didn't have children with me, but there quite a few children and they appeared to be very well entertained. There was the usual, bingo, quizzes etc but no pressure to join in if you didn't want to. The embarkation and disembarkation went smoother than I have found on other cruises that I have been on, but this could be due to this being a smaller ship and therefore less people. I understand that the ship is due another upgrade this year, but whilst I agree that parts were a little dated, they were not in bad repair, it was all rather charming. I would definitely sail with NCL again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was my 12th cruise with RC but 1st on freedom of the seas. Totally enjoyed food, shows were fantastic and shore excursions booked thru RC were great. On the last day of cruising I suffered acute respiratory failure and taken by ... Read More
This was my 12th cruise with RC but 1st on freedom of the seas. Totally enjoyed food, shows were fantastic and shore excursions booked thru RC were great. On the last day of cruising I suffered acute respiratory failure and taken by wheelchair to medical. I received 5 star treatment and my doctor was impressed by the care and treatment I received. I was seen 2 more times after my initial release from medical facility. I was given a complete copy of what was done all test results and even my chest ex rays. I will always be loyal to RC The dining room staff went above and beyond to make sure we were completely satisfied with our meals. We choose to do my time dining and sat at table 93. Peter and victor were excellent in what they did. We were greeted by name every time they saw us. Our cabin attendant was attentive to our needs and any requests we made were quickly responded to. Either for more towels or ice in the bucket The shows were of high quality. One comedian in particular had the whole audience in stitches. Even the men were crying from laughing so hard. The only criticism I have has to do with the amount of smoke in the casino. I would have loved to play the slots but the smell of smoke was so over whelming. I heard many other people complain about the same thing. Bar tenders were great and the drinks both with alcohol and without were ready good. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
My husband teaches a continuing education course on ancient civilizations with an emphasis on Mayan influences on our NM Native American culture. A bucket list tour for him was Chichen Itza but we decided to have some fun before we got ... Read More
My husband teaches a continuing education course on ancient civilizations with an emphasis on Mayan influences on our NM Native American culture. A bucket list tour for him was Chichen Itza but we decided to have some fun before we got there. The Freedom of the Seas is a fabulously large ship with comfortable rooms, courteous staff and plenty to do during your two days of cruising at the beginning and the end of the trip. We had a balcony cabin which afforded us great views during the day and wonderful stargazing at night. The food in the Windjammer was always to temperature and plentiful. Dinner at night was served always with a smile and professionalism. It was hard to get back to simple meals after having great full course meals everynight! Worried about sanitation and illness? Never fear, the staff greets you as you board with a hardy squirt of hand sanitizer as well as at the entrances to all food venues. The crew are seen frequently disinfecting handrails and tables. Our excursion to the ruins was also well done with a knowledgable attentive guide, a little over an hour of wandering time there and a nice snack and sandwich on the bus which was a large air conditioned coach with a clean, working restroom. Have already booked our next cruise same time, next year but to the Eastern Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We had been on Carnival the last five cruises and had been a bit disappointed with the crew energy on the last one. It was the Fantasy, and we were aware about it's age. The Spirit is a similar ship, small and a few years on her, but ... Read More
We had been on Carnival the last five cruises and had been a bit disappointed with the crew energy on the last one. It was the Fantasy, and we were aware about it's age. The Spirit is a similar ship, small and a few years on her, but the crew was outstanding. Yes if you look hard you can find old carpet or a rust spot or two, and we were concerned with all the negative reviews. The energy and attitude was the best we had ever encountered on a cruise. The shows were better than what we had seen on Carnival and the Cruise Director GIO was great. When we did encounter some issues with an excursion, not directly NCL fault, the excursion staff was understanding and gave us a credit with their apologies. We ate mostly in The Gardens Main Dining. Found a waiter we Herald, and asked for him each night, super service. Only issue came on disembarkation, signed up for early as we had a long drive, they lost a cart with luggage and many people had to wait in the terminal. That was the only negative on a 7 day enjoyable vacation. We are signed up for another NCL cruise, hopefully the staff will also be as great as the Spirit's was. Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
We have heard good things about Princess Cruise Line but had never sailed with them. We celebrated my Father-In-Law's birthday and selected this cruise mostly due to date availability and a love for sailing the Caribbean. After 13 ... Read More
We have heard good things about Princess Cruise Line but had never sailed with them. We celebrated my Father-In-Law's birthday and selected this cruise mostly due to date availability and a love for sailing the Caribbean. After 13 cruises, I can say that the service was arguably the best we have ever received. Unlike many lines there was ALWAYS a food service station open on the Lido Deck and somehow, I'm not sure how they manage it, but on a ship with 2,000 passengers we never felt like the ship was crowded and often found it very easy to have privacy and quite. Embarkation and disembarkation went smooth and was fairly typical of most cruise lines. Our balcony cabin was spacious and ship cabins go and the staff was attentive and friendly. The food was excellent and the wait staff attentive and even humorous t times. They engaged their assigned tables as though we were their only responsibility. I highly recommend Princess Cruise Line! Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
All on cruise was great with the exception of the drill on first day. During drill on first day there was a employee who was extremely rude. My wife could not stand for long periods and when asked about checking in and where we could sit ... Read More
All on cruise was great with the exception of the drill on first day. During drill on first day there was a employee who was extremely rude. My wife could not stand for long periods and when asked about checking in and where we could sit told us she would check my wife in but I'd have to be at assigned point. When I explained that my wife did not want to be separated from me during a drill she became belligerent and extremely rude telling me I had no choice but to separate. When I asked her name she refused to tell me and put her hand over her name tag when I tried to photograph it. She checked my wife in and returned her card but never told her where to go. So my wife who wanted to be with me under these conditions came and stood with me in a lot of discomfort. EXTREMELY rude!! If she had done nothing wrong then why hide her name?! When discussed with Management they seamed to make excuses for her. She worked in the bar in the Windjammer. Ralitsa Naumova, the head waiter, who, when she found out the wife was Romanian coordinated to have a different Romanian food almost every evening in the formal dining room. She was outstanding and professional in every aspect. Made for a pleasant and unexpected dining experience. There were many Kids running and making noise in halls and stairs. No control and safety issues. We reported to Farrah Casanova who worked in the dining room that the nearby women's bathroom commodes weren't flushing. Although busy, Farrah found time to immediately pick up the phone and dial the maintenance number on the ship and let someone know about that problem. She was also working very hard when I saw her in the Windjammer helping people, cleaning after everyone, and interfacing with them. Catalin from the Windjammer did an outstanding job always professional and helpful. Tonya in Future Cruises did an outstanding job in working with out requirements. Sound in theater extremely loud. It is a theater not a concert!! We had to wear ear plugs each night. But the shows were great. The Dining experience was great. Great service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was a great vacation. Checking in was quick, since we had done on-line check-in. We chose to eat at Windjammer/Jade, because of the buffet. Some members of our family only ate Indian food, and it was available to them everyday. ... Read More
This was a great vacation. Checking in was quick, since we had done on-line check-in. We chose to eat at Windjammer/Jade, because of the buffet. Some members of our family only ate Indian food, and it was available to them everyday. There was not a good selection of food at Fine Dining, which in our case was Galileo's. We did speak to head chef Daniel and he made sure there was Indian food available at Windjammer for us. At the formal dinner, we had to eat at Galileo's, so Danielle made sure we had Indian food. First port, Labadee was relaxing, except for one incident, where we went to the market. Our son bought a souvenir and he was given change in counterfeit. When we tried to use the bill at another shop, the guy there refused to take it, we found market security and he verified the bill was counterfeit. He took us back to the shop, and got us a legitimate bill. We complained to guest services since that port is owned by Royal Carribean, they told us later that the guy was charged. They also took one of our beverage packages off of our bill and gave us discount towards our next cruise. Next port was Falmouth, Jamaica, where our kids went zip-lining. We did not want to go zip-lining, but had to accompany the kids, so we went as observers. Everyone there was quite friendly and kept us company while we waited for the kids to come back. Next stop was Grand Cayman, where my daughter went swimming with the Dolphins and stingrays, she really enjoyed that. I had bought a ticket to accompany her, but since I did not go into the water, they gave me a refund, that was really gracious of them, since I was not expecting it. I did not realize you have to swim in 25 feet of dirty lagoon water to swim with the Dolphins. Last stop was Cozumel, Mexico, where we went on a Jaguar bus and bike tour. Tour guides were great and so was bike ride, the beach however was quite dirty and not quite what we expected. On the ship, we watched all the shows, best was the ice-skating show and the Love and Marriage show hosted by the cruise director, Casey. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
LOVE Freedom of the Seas!! I'm not one to do reviews but-------RCCL is the best. We were so spoiled and pampered, we didn't want to return home. Food was excellent, as was the service. Already have another cruise booked for ... Read More
LOVE Freedom of the Seas!! I'm not one to do reviews but-------RCCL is the best. We were so spoiled and pampered, we didn't want to return home. Food was excellent, as was the service. Already have another cruise booked for Dec. 4 2016 and already counting the days down. I've even got my clothes picked out. We ate in the main dining room at night and The Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. There is always a large selection of food even for the very picky eatters. Service is fast. The best bread pudding with vanilla sauce, I ate it every day. We also ate at Johnny Rockets and intend to eat there again in December. Best hamburgers and PRICES. Actually we are going on Oasis of the Seas and if it's even half as good as Freedom of the Seas I'll be satisfied. My niece went on Oasis and she only had high praises for it and was also spoiled and pampered. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Ship> Beautiful. Classic. Shows> Makes Carnival look like 2 Point O, the Bands on Carnival told us that means they cut all the shows in Half and Expect them to work twice as hard. Do Not Miss> Rock n Roll, The World and ... Read More
Ship> Beautiful. Classic. Shows> Makes Carnival look like 2 Point O, the Bands on Carnival told us that means they cut all the shows in Half and Expect them to work twice as hard. Do Not Miss> Rock n Roll, The World and Elements. If you are too Old to stand up at the end and give them a standing applause,Maybe you should not have left the Home...you will get up after they leave anyway. Food> I Loved Shogun's and Teppanyaki. Wings 24/7, great dogs and Hamburgers at the Bier Garden Over the Front Pool. Get the Lobster at Shogun's, best ever. Over and Over I here folks saying "I'm not leaving a tip..... " well they are used to you guys, and that's why you get what you expect. We tip hundreds over the week, on top of the room charges, and get great service. We bring candy to also tip with, and had 50 Lbs. that we gave away to everyone, not just folks waiting on us. Take some boxes of candy to tip with, Pay it Forward. Make them happy and you'll be too. Talk to the crew make them your friends and you will bond and have a great time. They are your equals in life. Captain Peter> I think he had too much coffee, sailing at 19 knots to get to Ports very early, and my family was ill in flat Seas but High winds, 2nd time in 25 years of cruising, Last time was 30ft. Seas and trying to avoid a Hurricane. Peter will get better with "training" lol Cruise Director Gio, the best we've ever had. Tell him Ed and Sean say hello. The Quest show, do not miss. Room service 24/7> a great BLT late at nite is awesome. Bartenders> 5 Stars> Benji and Bong were great. Reggae Band on Deck> 5 stars> much better than DJ's on Carnival. Piano Bar> Great. Room Steward> 5 stars. Thanks Win. I could go on but you get the idea we had an awesome time. One crew member told me the average age on our cruise was 67 years old, that is including children and younger folks... My daughter who is 19 was very upset as to no friends to find. Did did find Zach on day four... It's always 5 O'Clock on the Ship. So says Jimmy Buffet. Ps- Our room was haunted, some folks pay extra for that! We had others in a room 8 doors away that told us the same thing about their cabin. Caspers coo with us. Safe Journeys everyone, please do not listen to folks that say they had a #1 rating on a ship, maybe they should take the Casino Boat Out of Canaveral.... lol Any Questions plase ask, our other review is on Message Boards under Eddeb: Spirit cruise> Nov. 28th> Dec. 5th, Any Questions? Safe journeys every one, Good luck to all in 2016. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We took this cruise to and from Freeport... We were on the 11th floor, Marius and two other gentleman looked after all our needs boarding, leaving and in between.... the entertainment was good/great, geared more toward 60+ for the most ... Read More
We took this cruise to and from Freeport... We were on the 11th floor, Marius and two other gentleman looked after all our needs boarding, leaving and in between.... the entertainment was good/great, geared more toward 60+ for the most part with the free show in the shows in the theater, yet the were parts for a younger crowd, magician and musical dance acts.... the comedy show for a small fee was to much fun, but if you are an uptight individual, or afraid of being picked on, don't go as you ruin it for us!!!! The suite was awesome, the food around the clock was great!!! the service was amazing.... Leonard at the service desk was extremely helpful and friendly.... Lots to do if you are up for it... Decks are loaded with places to sit and enjoy, pools, hot tubs, bars and servers everywhere!!! I would advise to avoid the karaoke though, it is way too loud and wicked evil bad as you might suspect... Admiral room for dinner was a pleasure with Giovanni as our waiter.... Just an amazing worthwhile mini adventure, I would do it again and again if able.... Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We went on a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. We had a balcony "bump" room which we loved! I have stayed in an interior, ocean view and now a balcony and when we cruise again I will be booking a balcony. So much more room. ... Read More
We went on a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. We had a balcony "bump" room which we loved! I have stayed in an interior, ocean view and now a balcony and when we cruise again I will be booking a balcony. So much more room. Even though you are in your room to shower and sleep, the extra space does wonders. Having the option of going out on your deck when you want is nice. We hung our wet clothes out there. The only thing I say Royal Caribbean needs to work on (this being my 4th cruise) is when you arrive on the ship they are serving lunch in the windjammer. IT IS PACKED!!! it happens every cruise. We got something small to hold us over to dinner but we had to sit on the other side of the boat on the pool lounge chairs to eat. Its a bummer but its one meal. We can survive. Royal Caribbean is an awesome company to cruise with! Like I said, this was my 4th cruise and they have all been with Royal Caribbean. The ship was AWESOME!! there was so much to do. I was disappointed because we only saw one show (the ice show) and that's it! We were busy with other activities on the ship we didn't get the chance to enjoy the shows. We spent most of our time on the sports deck with either competing in the activities to rock climbing or doing/watching the Flow Rider. I loved the Flow Rider. It was fun to watch everyone experience that. The cruise ports were nice, Labadee Haiti, Falmouth Jamaica, Georgetown Grand Cayman and Cozumel Mexico. The only downer we had was Falmouth. We did not enjoy ourselves at all. We went to Dunns River Falls because so many family members and friends recommended it. I am not sure if its the time we went or our group but it was awful. I felt like cattle being herded up the falls. It was crazy. Our bus had a leak so 2 people had their belongings soaked, we then ate lunch which was nice but we were never informed we would be making any stops so our cash was limited. Excursion title said "Dunns River Falls Transfer". It didn't say anything in the description of going for lunch or shopping.We went to this shopping place with one store with 5 other tour buses from our ship....can you say crammed!? We did NOT enjoy Falmouth.at all. We did castaway at malfini in Labadee Haiti which was amazing!! We snorkeled a ship wreck and reef in Grand Cayman. Our favorite excursion was XPLOR in Cozumel. I would do that again in a heartbeat. It was so much fun! Ziplining, rafting through caves, swimming through the caves and driving an amphibious vehicle. Adrenaline was pumping! We had a blast and cannot wait for 2017. We will be back on another royal Caribbean cruise :) Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Another wonderful cruise with Royal Caribbean. Departure was a breeze and the weather was perfect the entire time. First time on the Freedom and we had no complaints. Cabin was nice and clean, food is always good in the dining room, ... Read More
Another wonderful cruise with Royal Caribbean. Departure was a breeze and the weather was perfect the entire time. First time on the Freedom and we had no complaints. Cabin was nice and clean, food is always good in the dining room, although we did try the Brazilian restaurant and didn't really care for it. The Mexican restaurant on the other hand was superb with fantastic margaritas that are made tableside as was the guacamole. Service at all restaurants was excellent. Entertainment was good and we always look forward to the ice show. We would definitely go on the Freedom of the Seas again. I just joined cruise critic and it would take a while to comment on all my RCCL cruises. We have never had a bad experience with the cruise line and will continue to sail with them. Looking forward to our cruise on the Anthem which is booked for October of 2017. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
First off, I have never written a review before regarding a cruise, but this one was so good, I jus had to say something. This was our fifth cruise, so here we go. The day before we departed we discovered that we booked our balcony ... Read More
First off, I have never written a review before regarding a cruise, but this one was so good, I jus had to say something. This was our fifth cruise, so here we go. The day before we departed we discovered that we booked our balcony directly under the lido deck and we were pretty concerned that it would be too loud. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that it was a very quite room #8445. We would book this same room again. The food was outstanding and we are pretty selective trying to eat healthy. We ate at the Lincoln dinning room 5 nights and was worth it every time. Flavors, portion sizes, variety, it was all great. Our only disappointment were the deserts. They were ok, but nothing outstanding. When we ate in the buffet there were loads of great choices as well. We visited the pizza counter, burrito bar, and the deli, all more than once. The staff was wonderful, more playful than we have seen on other cruises. Their care and service was truly sincere. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our first cruise and we chose Royal Caribbean because my husband's grandparents went on over 50 cruises and this was their favorite cruise line. We can see why!! We were on the Freedom and absolutely loved it. The ship was ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we chose Royal Caribbean because my husband's grandparents went on over 50 cruises and this was their favorite cruise line. We can see why!! We were on the Freedom and absolutely loved it. The ship was the perfect size. Our favorite spot was the solarium. We were almost always able to snag some seats in the shade (the pool chairs were really comfy), and we spent a lot of time there reading, drinking, and napping. The solarium was nice and quiet (the main pool was always pretty loud), so we enjoyed relaxing there. The solarium pool bar was right next to the pool so it was really convenient. The pool itself was a good size and had some underwater chairs and a table so you could easily sit in the pool with a drink and just enjoy yourself. We booked a balcony room, and we really enjoyed having the balcony and being able to sit outside at night. We will always book a room with a balcony - totally worth the money! We spent a lot of time at the pub (the live music they had was always a really nice way to end the day), and the drinks were great. The food was amazing, as per usual on Royal Caribbean. This being our first cruise, we tried out Sabra. We didn't like it - so we promptly cancelled the next specialty restaurant we had reserved. We ate the remainder of the nights in the main dining. The main dining is fantastic - we had a great server who informed us that we could order 3 or 4 main dishes and desserts if we wanted. We didn't realize you could do that, but it was great to try a few different dishes if we were unable to decided what we wanted to eat. Let's just say, I think I gained 20 pounds on the cruise haha. The food is always one of my favorite aspects. The entertainment was fantastic. We loved the shows - and we loved how we could look at the itinerary each day and just decide on a whim what we wanted to do. We really liked the Love and Marriage Game Show (always a classic). The service was also great. I can't say enough good things about the Freedom ship. We tried the Oasis on our next cruise and didn't like it...we'll be sticking with the Freedom class from now on! Perfect size and plenty of activities (even though my husband and I just laid by the pool 90% of the time we were on the ship). Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
For the last couple of years wanted to do a disney cruise, finally we did it. Amazing experience in every single detail. From the night show at the walt disney theater to the kids oceaneers club, the delicious dinner every night and the ... Read More
For the last couple of years wanted to do a disney cruise, finally we did it. Amazing experience in every single detail. From the night show at the walt disney theater to the kids oceaneers club, the delicious dinner every night and the excellent service from our servers Kadek and Valine every night. Room very clean, great down service from Valentino, each night a different towel made animal. Great buffet at cabanas.. And delicious mid afternoon treats at flo v 8 cafe.. So clean in every single part of the ship. They take precautions like giving sanitizing towels before entering the restaurants and the kids have to wash their hands in a very modern propulsion washer. They love to go every day. The princesses gathering just lovely, but you have to reserve as soon as you get onboard, it includes Elsa and Ana... The makeover at the bibidibobidi boutique just great, but alse reserve in advance. The pirate league makeover just fantastic as it is for boys and girls and adults also if you want to look pirate alike. Adults areas were great also, just needs a little more entertainment acts at night. The adults pool are nice, and all the pools are fresh water not salted.. Aqua duck was fun and sometimes crowded.. One day we made a 30 min wait line, but is so much fun. We will defintely go back to a disney cruise, maybe a little more expensive than others but worth it! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Great cruise wonderful entertainment . Once again Disney does it again not something that can be discrive you need to experience for yourself . Entertainment excellent ! Expectacular and the food fantastic loved the cabana buffet . You ... Read More
Great cruise wonderful entertainment . Once again Disney does it again not something that can be discrive you need to experience for yourself . Entertainment excellent ! Expectacular and the food fantastic loved the cabana buffet . You must go bring the kids the grandmother there is a lot of things to do for all ages . Loved it Fantastic Fantasy cruise ! Ready to go again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our 3rd cruise with Royal Caribbean and by far the best. This was also our first cruise on a "large" ship and our first on Freedom. Long review but hopefully helpful to new Freedom of the Seas cruisers. First, we ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise with Royal Caribbean and by far the best. This was also our first cruise on a "large" ship and our first on Freedom. Long review but hopefully helpful to new Freedom of the Seas cruisers. First, we (family of four including 2 adult children) flew into Orlando the night before and used a "Fly, Shuttle, Sleep" package offered by Comfort Inn and Suites of Cocoa Beach. Highly recommend it as it took all of the fuss out of the trip. Very courteous and professional driver from TravelLynx met us just outside of baggage claim. After picking up another passenger, we headed to Cocoa Beach and the driver provided a nice "tourist guide" to the area and Cocoa Beach, pointing out various local restaurants within walking distance to the hotel. Total package with taxes was $375.42. It also included a pretty good buffett breakfast in the morning and a shuttle (different company whose name I didn't write down) for the 15 minute morning trip to the brand new, very efficient and spacious port terminal. The Hotel itself is 2 blocks from the ocean (our room had a partially obstructed view, but still good) and was perfect. It is a little dated and folks have complained of the musty smell, but to me, that's just the smell of a beach hotel. That said, the staff was great, the room was clean, the bed comfortable. What more do you need? The evening prior to departure we walked over to a placed named Brano's Italian Grill. Slight wait for a table but excellent service and the food was the good (get the red sauce rather than the meat sauce)...the appetizers were excellent. In the morning, embarkation couldn't have been smoother. We arrived around 9:30, the doors opened at 10:00. We were in the large waiting area, all checked in with our Sea Passes by 10:30. At 11:00 they began boarding. We're Gold level Crown and Anchor and were on board by 11:30. We began our discovery walk around Freedom....and she is amazing. Absolutely beautiful, well kept (clean) and has a terrific crew. We were intimidated by the size and number of guest as this was our first "large" ship and except for once (the '70s Disco Night on the promenade) it never felt crowded. We set sail around 4:30 pm and had a lovely "sail away". We had booked the Mystery Dinner Theater in one of the specialty restaurants (Giovanni's Table) and highly recommend it....once. The show was fine (it features the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers) and yes, it is a bit corny, but it was fun....and the food was excellent. Our table mates (12 at a table) were very nice so...good food, good humor, good company, and beautiful views. It's a great way to try a speciality restaurant, which we'd never done before. We ended up eating at all three speciality restaurants this trip due to some refunds and on-board credits we received from our travel agent. Sabor is "modern" Mexican...and was our favorite. We also ate at Chops and although it was good, it really wasn't that different than an upscale Chop House or Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Nice, but not really sure if it was worth the "upcharge" ($35/person). Sabor is worth it ($25/person). Right at 1 pm on embarkation day our rooms were ready and we received our luggage by 3 pm. We had 2 adjoining room on Deck 3 mid-ship. Perfect. The adjoining room gave us our own space but made it easy to talk to our sons, gave us the use of 2 bathrooms and really make the space seem large. Beds were comfortable. Ours had an egg-shell foam topper which is a little soft for me but my wife and kids slept great. Our steward, Livingston from Jamaica, was the best we've encountered. He really pampered us, always had time for a brief conversation and was about the most pleasant person I've met. He worked really hard and always had a smile (and bath towel animal) for us. These folks work 7 days a week for 7 months at a time. I don't think I could do that and he managed to keep such a positive attidue about everything. Food was good throughout. It is what it is when you're feeding 4,000 people. Service in the Main Dining Room was excellent though the staff did seem a bit rushed. We choose the fixed time dining becuase we want to interact with the same dining service team. They also do "My Time" on the upper two levels, but we never sat there. However, most mornings we did breakfast in the Main Dining Room as well and again, always had great service. Unlike our smaller ships, Freedom sets up a mini-buffet in the Main Dining Room, so it is similar to Windjammer, but you don't have to fight for a table (my only complaint about Windjammer). The Windjammer is the big buffet area, and again, the food is good but finding a seat can be frustrating as you walk laps with your very tasty meal growing cold. On embarkation day, we actually ate our burgers standing up. Most of my meals were good and a couple were excellent. Appetizers and deserts are always good. My wife had both lamb shank (one night) and rack of lamb cuts (a different night) and was impressed with both. They also had lobster tails one night and both my wife and son enjoyed those. The shows were good. Standard "off-Broadway" kind of things, but we enjoy those. The comedian the first night was so-so. The comedian the last night was very funny. We didn't stay up for either of the "Adults only" comedy shows. They had some featured performers and those were excellent (trapeze/silk rope/ballet kind of thing). The Ice Show is a must see. On Day 6 the show is at night and I think it gets pretty packed. Earlier in the week (Day 2?) they have 2 matinee shows and we had great seats for the 1 pm show. Pools were great. Hot tubs that extend out over the water were very cool. It does get very busy on the pool deck, and even in the Solarium, but it was never "packed". Our kids are young adults so I can't speak much to the youth programs, but they do have them for all ages and there were lots of organized activities for all ages. From what I saw, it looked like the kids on the programs were having a good time. At one point, the little guys (4-6 years old?) had a pirate parade right down the Promenade singing songs they'd learned while dressed like Pirates. Very cute. Our son took advantage of the climbing wall and flow rider. There are lines, but they actually move pretty quickly for both. We also played putt-putt golf and that was fun...it's only 9 holes but you can go round and round if you like and it was actually fairly challenging. Departure was equally easy. We carried off our luggage, so they called us away at 6:45. The line was fairly long but they were disembarking from two points (fore and aft) so the line moved very quicly. We were down at Customs and Immigration by 7 am and outside the terminal 20 minutes later. The TravelLynx company has a desk just under the parking garage. We checked in and were loaded 5 minutes later and on the road 15 minutes after that. Easy drive back to Orlando Airport and pretty quick trip to check-in, drop bags, clear TSA and have breakfast in the waiting area. Very well done by the Orlando team. Excursions. We did a bit of a blow-out on this trip as our sons are beginning their own lives and we suspect his may be our last "family" vacation for awhile. In Labadee, our sons were signed up for Jet Skis but that ended up being cancelled due to rough seas. We also rented a cabana. I highly recommend this though it is a bit expensive. Suite guests get one included with their suite. Everyone else has to book them on board the ship. I think the rate is somewhere between $175 and $255 depending on which beach/cabana you want. We had one over the water at Nellie Beach. It comes with 4 big bottles of water and floaty mats, 4 deluxe beach loungers. The deal at Cocoa Cay is even better, but that's a different review. The cabanas also have stewards and they do everything they can to make it a great day. We were delayed into Labadee due to a medical emergency the night before, but we still had a great time. In Jamaica, we did the Chukka Horseback Ride N Swim. They picked us up pierside for about a 45-minute bus ride to the "ranch". Our guide gave a great guided tour as we drove there in a small bus pointing out a number of interesting features and there are some impressive views. Once at the "ranch" we met our horseback guides, received our helmets and safety brief. They then had us line up and matched riders to horses. The horses are in great shape, well trained and clearly cared for. We then set out on about a 30-40 minute trail ride over fairly gentle terrain and along the coastline (beautiful views). There is a lead guide and 3-4 other guides, so each guide keeps an eye on 4-6 riders. Our gentleman was named Andre and not only was he a great rider, he was also very entertaining and personable. Safety AND fun are their watchwords. After getting back to the ranch, there is a short break (chance to order lunch) and then you move to the beach where you're put back on a horse wearing a special riding blanket. You have to wear a safety belt like those used for water skiing. Then you head out into the water. Wow. What an experience. The horses love it, it's absolutely beautiful and a real rush to feel their power in the water. We came back and had a beer and some jerked chicken (excellent) with rice and beans and then it was time to head back to the pier. If you do this excursion, bring cash. They have t-shirts and other items to sell. They have a small bar (beer and rum punch were $5 each) and the lunch plate was $10. You don't have to buy it, but if you want it (and you will) you'll need cash. Once back at the pier, we did the very touristy thing and had a couple of margaritas at Margaritaville ($12/drink). The whole shopping area there is lovely. In Grand Cayman, we did the Cayman Jeep Wrangler Adventure and Beach Snorkel. Again, a bus picks you up near the tender drop off (that by the way was a concern of mine that I shouldn't have had...they run every 15 minutes or so and carry 250+ people per trip). After a 15-minute bus ride, we arrived at the Tiki Beach Resort. There we met our guide, Mason, recieved our safety brief, got our Jeeps and headed out. We literally drove the length and breadth of Grand Cayman. I've not been to a more beautiful place. Absolutely loved it. If you're worried about driving on the left side of the road...don't be. After several stops (and yes, some of them are just picture spots or tourist traps) we headed back to the Tiki Beach Resort. What was nice was that there was no pressure at any of the tourist traps and Mason did a great job of telling the story of Grand Cayman. Once back at the Tiki Beach Resort, we received coupons for a beach chair, a rum punch, and an access ticket for everything else they had to offer (at an upcharge) which is alot. Our sons snorkled in the crystal clear water while my wife and I enjoyed a good local beer (Caybrew). After about 2 hours the buses come back and take everyone back to their ship. This was the only unorganized part of the trip as it got a little chaotic with multiple tour groups from 3 different ships all jostling around, but if you keep your wits about you and your ears open, it works out. I wouldn't recommend the Jeep tour a second time (but perfect for a first time to Grand Cayman), but I would recommend the Tiki Beach Resort day pass they offer through Royal Carribbean. In Cozumel we went to Chankanaab for the Dolphin Push/Pull/Swim and Manatee Encounter. Amazing. Noami, our guide, couldn't have been more helpful or more organized. She made everything run great from start to finish and the encounters with the dolphin (and the manatee) were truly once in a lifetime "must do" things. Chnakanaab itself is a Mexican National Park and I'd highly recommend it for a "beach break" day. Plenty to see and do there or if you don't want to spend more money, just take in the beautiful views and waters. I think that's long enough. Enjoy Freedom of the Seas in the Western Caribbean! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I’m writing a review of the Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean cruise for May 24th – May 31st. This review will be different than most other reviews because it’s not going to be a travelogue or an opinion based review. I’m ... Read More
I’m writing a review of the Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean cruise for May 24th – May 31st. This review will be different than most other reviews because it’s not going to be a travelogue or an opinion based review. I’m going to try to keep it mostly facts. I know that everyone has different opinions regarding different situations so I’m just going to report the facts and let you decide for yourself if you’d like or not like some aspect of this trip. (Except when talking about food because I don’t think there’s any way to talk about food without having an opinion!) I’m also going to organize it into different topics. That way if you’ve been on the Freedom thousands of times, you can skip the section about the ship. If you aren’t visiting the same ports, you can skip the sections about the ports. You get the idea! I’m hoping that my report will help new cruisers and maybe give some experienced cruisers some new ideas. Hope you enjoy reading! Background This section will give you an idea of who we are and how we ended up on this particular cruise. This is a big year for us because my husband and I both turned 40 and we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We’ve been saving up for the last few years to do a really big vacation with the kids. We have three boys ages 15, 12, and 10. We’re outdoorsy, adventurous people and a cruise was not something we’d really ever considered before. BUT my best friend’s family went on a Royal Caribbean Dreamworks cruise and her boys came back gushing about it to my boys. After that, our kids wouldn’t consider any other suggestions. Eventually my husband and I caved and decided we’d book a cruise. Since we don’t drink, don’t gamble, and have never spent any time sitting beside a pool, we needed a ship with LOTS of on-board activities and plenty of exotic ports. After looking at prices, we knew that we could either fly and take a shorter cruise or drive and take a longer cruise. A family vote decided that we would drive and take the longer cruise. We decided we wanted the 7-day Western Caribbean on the Navigator leaving from Galveston, TX. In September Royal Caribbean offered a special where Kids Sail Free. I called and got the pricing and that night the family decided that this was in fact what we wanted to do. So the next day I called again to book our cruise. To get the Kids Sail Free option, everyone had to be in the same cabin. The Navigator and Freedom only have two interior cabins that house up to 6 people. When I called to book it, ALL of the interior cabins on the Navigator were booked for the entire summer. On the Freedom, the May 24th sailing was the only week available. School ended on May 21st so we decided to go with that cruise. Everything was going smoothly until February. In February, it started snowing and snowing and snowing. School was cancelled over and over again. We used all our snow days and it still kept snowing!! We had 4 extra days that had to be made up at the end of the school year. With a high schooler who had to take final exams, skipping out of the last few days wasn’t going to be an option. In addition to worrying about the school days, I started having issues with our final payment. The high school marching band has a program called Scrip. You buy gift cards online and the participating companies donates a percentage of the gift card to the marching band. Royal Caribbean is one of the participating companies. After emailing them to confirm that I could use the Scrip gift card to pay, I purchased $2200 worth of gift cards and paid my final balance. When the deadline came, I started receiving phone calls and emails saying I hadn’t paid. I called customer service and they told me that it takes up to 30 days to process the gift cards. The representative said I might have to pay an additional $2200 and then once the gift cards were processed, they’d refund my money. I wasn’t interested in loaning Royal Caribbean my money, so I declined that option. They extended the deadline by a week and told me to wait and see if it would get processed in time. That week went by and still nothing happened with the gift cards. I called customer service again and spoke with a supervisor. He assured me that whatever was happening with the gift cards had nothing to do with me. It was between the Scrip company and Royal Caribbean. He put a note on my account stating the balance had been paid in full and assured me the trip wouldn’t be cancelled. It ended up taking 37 days for the gift cards to be credited to my account. A few days later the school announced that they were only adding one day to the end of the year and the remaining three days would be made up by adding time to the beginning and end of the school day. Now I could stop stressing and start actually planning our vacation! Before the Cruise Since we were driving, we came part way after school Friday night and finished the trip on Saturday. We choose to stay at the Comfort Inn and Suite in Cocoa Beach. We picked this hotel because it had suites that would provide beds for 5 people, a park and cruise package, decent reviews and was very close to the beach. This hotel far exceeded our expectations. As you entered the room there was a living room, then a small kitchenette, bathroom, and then the bedroom. Off the bedroom there was a balcony looking over the courtyard. The courtyard included a volleyball court, shuffleboard, ping pong, swimming pool, and hot tub. They gave us a buy one get one coupon for drinks so we bought some non-alcoholic drinks and enjoyed them while soaking in the hot tub after supper. Everything was in perfect condition, the staff was very friendly and explained the shuttle process in great detail, and the beach access was close and easy. For supper, we knew if we were in Florida on the beach, we wanted a seafood restaurant on the water. We decided on Grills, but they were crammed full. You could wait over an hour for an inside table or if you wanted to sit outside you had to find a table that was currently occupied and hover over it until the people were finished. So we walked down to Fishlips which was just a couple of buildings away. We were able to get an outside table overlooking the ocean right away. The menu included a wide variety of seafood options including entrees, sandwiches, salads, etc. The service was very quick and the prices were quite reasonable. There was also a live band playing. Embarkation We were on the 9:30 am shuttle and I had heard that breakfast at the hotel would get very busy right before the shuttle came. So we got up early and went to breakfast as soon as it opened. It was well laid out with two separate service lines, 6 different waffle makers, and lots of seating in a very large room. The selection was quite impressive with fruit, several different flavors of waffle, eggs, sausage, cereal, various pastries, several juices, milk, hot tea and coffee. We returned to the room to finish getting ready, pack up our suitcases, and move our van. The hotel owns several lots and we were instructed to park in a particular lot. That lot was already full, so they told us to just park wherever we could find a spot. We spent the time waiting for the shuttle by playing all the different sports offered in the courtyard. When 9:30 arrived, the bus came with a pull behind trailer. They loaded our luggage into the trailer and we got on the bus. After about a 10 min. drive we arrived at the terminal. The driver unloaded our luggage and made sure we had the right tags. Then the Royal Caribbean employees loaded our luggage onto racks and whisked them away. We got into a line and had to wait because the doors didn’t open until 10 am. By the time 10 am rolled around, the line behind us was quite long. We went through the metal detectors, got our picture taken, received our sea passes, and then went to waiting room. There we enjoyed some free lemonade and water while we waited. They started loading at 11:00 am and we were in the 11th group. We were onboard by 11:30 am. Sail Away We all took Dramamine when we first got on board, but that was the only time we ended up taking it all week. When we entered the ship, we split up and half of us got sandwiches at the Café Promenade and headed straight to the pool and half went to Windjammer and then the pool. Since we were among the first on board, the buffet was not crowded, but by noon it was getting very busy. There weren’t many people in the pool so we enjoyed the relative quiet. The rooms were open at 1:00 pm and we found our room by using the interactive boards next to the elevators. Those boards were very helpful all week to find out what events were happening and getting directions to get to different venues. The muster drill was at 4:00 pm and everyone had a designated area. We had to wait because there were several people who were not where they were supposed to be. The staff had to hunt them down and get them to the right location. At the muster drill people are crammed together in very tight lines and you will wait until everyone is accounted for. Our middle son got overheated and possibly a little seasick and thought he was going to throw up so we moved him to the front. Another lady was starting to have a panic attack from the close quarters so they took her to the front of the line to get in the fresh air. PLEASE go straight to the muster drill so everyone doesn’t have to wait on you to show up!! That evening after dinner and the welcome aboard show, we went to listen to live music at one of the lounges. There were several couples dancing. One couple in particular was very talented and was all over the dance floor doing amazing dance moves. All of a sudden the man stopped and then fell over backwards. We were the closest table and I’m CPR trained so I ran over there. He was having a heart attack, but was still breathing and had a weak pulse. I yelled for the medics. A young couple who were physician assistants came and started monitoring him while we waited. Our family ended up leaving to make room for the medical staff. They had to turn the boat around and head back to Port Canaveral. That evening the wind was strong, and they were running full steam to get him back to the port so the ship was really rocking. That was the only evening we experienced any rough seas. (On a side note, the captain did a great job keeping everyone informed about what was happening and provided updates on his condition) Labadee, Haiti Since we had to make an emergency trip back, we were late arriving at Labadee. As a result they provided dining options on the ship only instead of the beach buffet. This private island was our first experience with a tropical Caribbean Island. So that right there made it a memorable stop! The crystal clear turquoise water, exotic fish, palm trees, and beautiful landscape are exactly what you imagine a tropical paradise looking like. I will admit that when I found out it was fenced off and we wouldn’t get a chance to experience any real Haitian culture, I was disappointed. One of the things I was looking forward to on this route was seeing exotic ports with interesting cultures. This was not a location where we found that experience. We did not purchase any excursion options here. I had the Cultural Walking Tour booked until I read that it isn’t even a real village and the supposedly authentic artisans weren’t actually doing the crafts. We love roller coasters and zip-lining, but we can do that at home. And I didn’t see the point of paying for a cabana when you can use the loungers for free. We had purchased our own snorkeling equipment and used that plus some bread we’d snagged off the ship to lure lots of fish. Plus we brought floating mats from home that we used to float around in the ocean. There is a free trolley that runs the length of the island. We used that to go to Columbus Cove. It’s the farthest (and least crowded) beach on Labadee. It was sandy and was shallow for a few feet, but then there was a large underwater cliff where it dropped off to 30+ feet. Some people were trying to swim to the bottom, but they couldn’t. Probably not the best beach if you have very little children who aren’t strong swimmers. A beach attendant offered to get us chairs, and we requested that they be set up in the shade. We gave him his tip too early though. He set up 4 chairs, and then was going to get another. We gave him the tip before we received the fifth chair and it never came. So you might not want to tip until you have actually received your chairs! My husband struck up a conversation with another beach attendant and he told us that the rocky area in front of the inflatables was the best location for snorkeling. The attendant summed up Labadee quite well when he said “The only free things here are the shuttle and chairs.” We visited the artisan market which stretches on much further than I anticipated. My husband had all the money and I couldn’t find him anywhere. The salesmen are extremely pushy and will pester you as soon as you enter. My middle son said he felt like it was a bunch of sharks circling their prey or moths drawn to light. I personally thought it was fun, but you need to be willing to ignore them and walk away. I would have bought several items because the merchandise was pretty and very reasonably priced, but by the time I found my husband (and money) it was time to get back on the ship. This was our least favorite stop, but any day spent on a tropical island is a good day so it was still nice! Falmouth, Jamaica OH, DO I HAVE AN INTERESTING STORY FOR YOU ABOUT JAMAICA! We looked at the Royal Caribbean excursion offerings and didn’t see anything that appealed to us. We liked the idea of Dunn Falls, but didn’t want the huge crowds. So I started doing online research. I found a place called Turtle River Falls that includes a series of natural waterfalls, rainforest tour, an aviary where you can feed the birds while they land on your head and hands, and a swimming pool. I looked for a company that offered tours to Turtle River Falls. After emailing several, we picked the one with the best rates. The company had a website and tripadvisor review so I thought it seemed legit. But one day sitting at work, I had a very uncomfortable feeling about this excursion. (Thank you Holy Spirit!) I started looking into the company more and saw that they only had 1 tripadvisor review and that reviewer had only 1 review. That seemed a little fishy so I googled the owners name. The search brought back news articles that the police were searching for a man with this name for BEHEADING his wife!!! The Jamaican police had put a plea on Facebook to help find him. I contacted them and gave them the contact information I had for him and promptly cancelled the reservation!! We then found a tour operator named Patrice Bailey that offered the tour. She had numerous great tripadvisor reviews and we took it with her instead. So a word of warning – Make sure you do very detailed research of the tour company before you get in the van with them! My husband joked that there was only one review because he was the only one who returned with his head! When we arrived in Falmouth, we weren’t 100% certain on where to go. So we stopped and asked at the information desk. If you book an independent tour, you will walk down to the white tents for the Royal Caribbean excursions, then turn right. There will be a sign that says independent tours and another white tent. We told them Patrice Bailey and they directed us to her. She is a tour operator who contracts with certified drivers. She put us in a van and the driver offered us bottles of water or Red Stripe beer. Patrice came a few minutes later and asked if we could switch to a smaller van. Our new driver was Jeff. Jeff was a very responsible driver who shared a wealth of knowledge with us. We learned everything you could ever want to know about Jamaica including the school systems, the government, agriculture, politics, food culture, etc. He started out as a driver and ended up as a friend! Turtle River Falls was originally Enchanted Gardens and was opened in the 1980’s as a resort. It fell into disrepair and in 2012 it reopened as Turtle River Falls. The buildings are in pretty sad shape, but the grounds and the falls are absolutely breathtaking! There are 7 natural waterfalls with a set of stairs next to them. As you enter, you will pay $20 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. There is a tour guide who will tell you the history of the property, show you some of the tropical plants, and lead you along the waterfalls. You can get in the waterfalls and climb up them, and crawl behind them into caves. After the waterfalls, they take you to the aviary. As we entered, a large red parrot was waiting and the tour guide took him on his arm. He put food into our hands and then lots of tropical birds came swooping in to land all over our hands, heads, shoulders, etc. He put the large red parrot on each person’s arm so you could hold him. Around your feet, little hens run around and there were even two itty bitty babies about the size of a marshmallow! In addition to visiting Turtle River Falls, we stopped at Scotchies for authentic Jamaican Jerk. It is an outdoor restaurant where they slow-cook the meat on pimento logs in the traditional way. We ordered chicken, pork, and sausage plus a variety of sides included bammy, roasted sweet potato, and festival (which is a fried sweet bread that is awesome!) We also requested to stop and buy some Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. We told him we wanted export quality, 100% pure Jamaican Blue and he knew just the spot to take us. It was a little roadside market where we got that and some other souvenirs at half the price they were at the port shops. He had told us about a church that was almost 300 years old. When we returned to the port I asked him if the church was close enough to walk to. He said he had time so he’d take us. Keep in mind, we had already paid and he had already returned us to the port and we were getting ready to get off the bus when he offered to do this for free! Unfortunately the church was closed for the day so we only got to see the outside. When we returned to the port we tried some patties (which are well worth buying!) and some Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee (YUM!!) We felt Jamaica offered the most authentic cultural experience. You really feel like you’re visiting a different world here. Grand Cayman In case you didn’t know, this is the only stop where the ship doesn’t dock at a pier. You have to get on a boat called a tender and take that to the island. Our excursion tickets said it was the 10:30 am tour and the first tender left the boat at 8:30. We were on one of the first tenders. They will hold up to 350 people and there are several boats so it was a very smooth process. We selected the Dolphin Push and Pull Excursion through Royal Caribbean and for what it’s worth, I looked into booking this myself and it was actually cheaper through Royal. So don’t assume that booking the excursions privately always saves you money. We have always wanted to swim with the dolphins so this was a no brainer for us. When you enter the water, you will be instructed on how to do several different tasks. You will be pushed on a boogie board, hold on to the fins while the dolphin pulls you, shake “hands”, and kiss the dolphin. I had seen on other reviews that people were complaining that you couldn’t take photos. That’s not entirely true. You cannot take ANYTHING into the pool with you (watches, cameras, sunglasses, etc.) for the safety of the dolphins. You can however take photos from the side. This is a bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime type experience for our family and was well worth every penny! The only disappointment was that I thought I had booked the excursion to visit both the dolphins and the turtle farm which was across the street. When we walked across the street the attendant told me we didn’t have the right wrist bands. When I went back to the Dolphin place, I talked to the tour guide there and she said I didn’t have the right wristband to include both locations. I only had the Dolphin excursion. When we returned to the boat, I went to the guest services table and asked them. They looked it up and said I had the Dolphin excursion only. We looked at the excursion options and prices that the ship offered and the price we paid was less than any of the excursions they had offered. So it appeared that booking online was cheaper, but I’d recommend printing out everything from your online excursion booking. Otherwise you might not be getting what you thought you’d booked. Also, the time I had booked online was 9:30 am, but our tickets were for 10:30 am. So make sure you check your tickets for the time you are supposed to arrive. Georgetown, Grand Cayman is what I would consider a typical touristy beach town. They only way you could tell you weren’t in Myrtle Beach, Pensacola, or Clearwater was because they drove on the other side of the road! Streets are crammed with bumper to bumper traffic, sidewalks are full of tourists, and there are more tourist shops than you could ever want to visit! Also I was surprised that the beach near the pier is all rock. You cannot get to a sand beach unless you walk a very long distance (we talked to a young couple on the ship who did this and they said it was very far!) or take a taxi or excursion. We had purchased our own snorkeling gear so we wanted to go snorkeling. Fortunately some of the best snorkeling is right by the boat on those rocky shores. Once you get to the main road, turn right and go to Eden Rock Dive Center. They will rent equipment ($14 for snorkel, mask, and fins) or you can use their entry ladder for free if you have your own equipment. (They request tips if you use their restrooms or shower). The reef is only a few feet from the shore and it is amazingly beautiful with thousands of fish! We had brought cereal boxes to feed the fish, but the staff requested that we not feed the fish so we didn’t disrupt their natural feeding habits. We respected that and didn’t use it for the fish (we ate it as a snack instead ) We didn’t need it anyway because there were all kinds of fish everywhere. We did some shopping, but the stores were crammed full and the prices were fairly high compared to Haiti and Jamaica. Grand Cayman was by far the most affluent and clean port we visited. Cozumel, Mexico The one excursion that we absolutely knew we had to book on a Caribbean cruise was snorkeling. None of us had ever been and it has been on my bucket list since I was a kid. So we looked at all of the snorkeling excursions at all of the ports and picked the Fury Catamaran and Beach Break. We selected this because of the boat ride, the beach activities and the fact that Cozumel is supposed to be one of the best locations on this cruise for snorkeling. Again, after researching prices between the Royal Caribbean excursion and a private party and finding the prices were comparable, we felt it was best to stick with the Royal Caribbean offer. That way there wasn’t any issue with getting back to the boat on time. We had the first time for the excursion and I would recommend that if it’s available because you will be the first boat to the beach and you get first choice of the best seats/beds/hammocks! We went straight from the ship to the catamaran and they handed out the snorkeling gear and life vests. They had free sodas and water as we headed to the snorkeling site. When we arrived at the reef they had us dip our masks in an anti-fog solution and told us to stick together as a group. The guide had a white buoy and we were instructed to follow him. I think he may have been feeding the fish because if you followed him, you saw tons of fish and if you didn’t, you didn’t see very many. It was not nearly as nice going in a large crowd as it had been snorkeling by ourselves in Grand Cayman, but the fish were plentiful and there were a lot of different species. We saw some big schools of fish congregating on the bottom and a giant fish longer than my leg with a mouthful of teeth! Someone said it was a Barracuda and it sure did look like the photos when I googled it! After 45 minutes we got back on board and they offered beer and margaritas in addition to the sodas. My husband enjoyed a beer and I tried the margaritas. I don’t like the taste of alcohol at all and these were very weak. In fact I had two and didn’t have any kind of a buzz even though I have absolutely no tolerance for alcohol. I thought they were very yummy, but people who like alcohol will probably be disappointed! The next stop was the beach. This was similar to Labadee, but everything was included. There were giant inflatable slides, trampolines, obstacle courses, etc., paddleboards, kayaks, and beach mats. Plus there were shaded beds, hammocks, and loungers. They did have burgers with potato salad for sale, but we opted to wait to eat real Mexican food when we returned. I don’t know prices or quality but I did overhear someone say it was the best potato salad they’d ever had. The drinks were included here, too. We stayed for 1 ½ hours here and there were other boats that arrived while we were there. The beach however did not get crowded. Another fun aspect of this location was that they set out food for the animals so there were birds and an iguana near the building. I could have stayed here for the rest of my life so this excursion seemed too short! When we returned we asked the boat captain the best restaurant near the port. He directed us to Ernestos. To get there you will go to the main road and turn left. There is a large three story, pyramid shaped, thatch roof building and Ernestos is a small hole-in-the-wall place across the street from that building. It was about what you’d pay for a sit down Mexican restaurant in America ($12-20 per plate) but the quality was beyond anything you can get here! Homemade chips and salsa, homemade tortilla shells, and fresh seafood! Cozumel is famous for it fresh seafood so we ordered shrimp nachos, Grouper fajitas, and fish tacos. After lunch we took a taxi to a chocolate factory. A friend visited Cozumel for vacation and discovered KaoKao chocolate. They hand grind the cocoa beans on site and it is only available in Cozumel. She had bought 5 chocolate bars, but was down to her last bar. When she found out we were going, she put in a request for more bars. So we had to stop and get some chocolate for her. The store has glass front windows where you can watch them making and wrapping the chocolates and free samples. One of the employees would describe the chocolate and give you a free sample. We tasted 80%, 70%, and 60% dark chocolates, milk chocolate, chocolate with coconut, chocolate with coffee, chocolate with chili pepper, white chocolate, dark chocolate sweetened with Splenda, dark chocolate sweetened with Stevia, chocolate covered cocoa beans, chocolate covered coffee beans, honey with cocoa, and honey with vanilla. We ended up having to use our debit card because we bought too much chocolate!! The taxi driver asked if we were interested in shopping and we told him yes. So he dropped us off at an outdoor market near the ship. We shopped and found some reasonably priced souvenirs. To get there from the port, you would cross the street and turn right. It is a couple of blocks down and extends to the left. We should have switched the order of our stops though because the chocolate was not holding up in the 90 degree temperatures. So we headed back to the ship a little early to put the chocolate away in the cooler. Freedom Of The Seas Since we had never even seen a cruise ship before our jaws dropped when we first saw the ship. Imagine a 14 story building towering above you. Now imagine it being a block long. Now imagine it floating on the water. That will give you a slight idea of just how massive this thing is. Inside the promenade is breathtaking, the art work is exquisite, the common areas are spotless, everything is made to impress. Everything was in working order and stylish. A couple of hints that we discovered during our trip. You can’t get from one end of the ship to the other end on decks 2 and 3. So instead of walking through the smoking casino, go outside on deck 4 to traverse from one end to the other. The starboard side of the ship has red carpet and the port side has blue. Look at the color of the carpet at your cabin to help you remember which direction to turn when you get off the elevator. In the public restrooms, there are two dots of colors on the lock. White is unlocked and red is locked. You can’t see under the doors and they shut on their own, so this will help you determine if a stall is occupied. Here is a little more information about each area that we frequented Pool: We visited the pool a lot during our trip. The kids especially liked the H2O Zone with the waterfalls and squirting features. It gets REALLY crowded on seas days from about 10:00 am -3:00 pm. So we would typically visit after supper when it was nearly empty. That was a great time to get in the cantilevered hot tubs too!! Solarium: This is the adults-only section so it was quiet. The cantilevered hot tubs were in this section and were very hot. You couldn’t stay in them long, but the view is incredible. Spa: I took the spa tour which was a total waste of time. The first day they had a special for $99/single $199 couple massages on the beach in Labadee. We signed up to get the couples massage, but since we were late arriving, they changed it to the on-board spa. The facilities are nice, but not nearly as fancy as I was expecting. It reminded me of just about any other spa I’ve visited. The couples massage was professional and my muscles were relaxed without being sore the next day. Library: This was a major disappointment. We love to read and were planning to spend time here, but as my younger son said, it was about the size of our stateroom and most of the shelves were empty! Chapel: We tried to visit here on the very first day and almost walked in on a wedding! The staff shooed us out and apologized. There was a sign saying that it was closed at the bottom of the stairs. But we hadn’t seen it, so we moved it in front of the stairs to prevent anyone else from making the same mistake. We ended up visiting it the next morning. My husband commented that he thought you’d be able to see out, which you couldn’t, but overall it was a nice quiet place to get away. We spent a few minutes in prayer for the man who’d had the heart attack and for a safe trip. The boys asked why there weren’t any church services and I wondered the same thing. Maybe we need to suggest that to the Royal Caribbean staff! Skating Rink: I was really disappointed in the hours for open skating! The first sea day they offered free skate and my husband took the two younger boys, but my older son wanted to do the flow rider. So I went with him. There weren’t any other open skate times the rest of the trip! So the two of us never got a chance to try this. We had signed the online waiver, but they had waivers there for people who hadn’t filled it out. They have you wear helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, long pants, and socks. So make sure you pack long pants and socks if you want to try this. The rink is small and they limit you to 30 min. but the boys had a good time. Rock Wall: This was my oldest son’s favorite feature. We were here many time during the trip. My son and husband both competed in the speed climb and my son won the second place medal. You must have completely dry clothes (no swim attire) and socks, but they provide special climbing shoes and harnesses. They even have an offer that if you can climb a certain colored “trail” up the wall, they will give you a free cruise. If you fail, you have to buy the attendant a free drink. (He’s never seen anyone accomplish this!) Flowrider: We all tried the Flowrider and some of us were more successful than others! We did both the boogie board and stand up and it was a blast watching both those who are really good and those who have major wipeouts. We attended the champion Flowrider competition which was lots of fun! If you are physically able, I’d recommend it just so you can say you tried! Golf Course: We finally tried this the final day and I wished we’d visited early. We had a great time competing against each other. It’s a small, yet challenging course. Deck 4: Most people don’t go to Deck 4 so it ended up being one of my favorite spots. We watched the sunrise and sunset here, read books during the afternoons on sea days, went for walks, and played shuffle board. The shuffleboard equipment is stored in containers mounted on the walls next to the shuffle board courts. It’s the closest deck to the water so you can hear the ocean. This is the deck to take to the helipad which is the very front of the ship. It was so windy my husband thought it would blow the glasses right off his face. Very exhilarating experience when you’re going full speed! Arcade: They offered a free session the first night on ship. The kids (and my husband) enjoyed the free play, but we never spent any money here on any other night. Promenade: We only used this as a way to get from one end of the ship to the other or to get a snack in the evenings. I never even entered any of the stores or bars here. It was really crowded at night and totally empty during the day. It was pretty and made the ship feel like a small city. Casino: We never spent any time here except for walking through it the first few days before we discovered you can bypass it by walking outside. Smoky, noisy but crowded so I guess there are plenty of people that enjoy it. Each day the steward leaves the Cruise Compass detailing some of the various activities that will be offered the next day. There is constantly something and most of the time there are 4-5 options. There is no way to do everything so you will need to look over the options and decide which items are the most important. We would look the night before and circle the items we wanted to attend. A watch is a good item to pack because there aren’t many clocks onboard and I never had my cell phone with me. Here is little more information about the shows and activities that we participated in: Ice Show: Our very favorite! They offered it 4 times so it wasn’t a problem to find seating. I had to practically drag the boys because they didn’t think they’d like it, but they did. Friendly Feud: This was a fun game show that we enjoyed. Exactly like the tv show except they get audience members to be the contestants so this is your chance to be a star! Meet and Mingle: The meet and mingle part was kind of lame, but the cabin crawl that one member had organized for afterwards was one of my favorite activities. Loved seeing how the upper crust lives! Love and Marriage Game Show: Absolutely hilarious! I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time! They pick the couple who has been married the longest, honeymooners, and one couple in between. The women leave and they ask the men questions. When the women return they ask them the same questions. Then they switch. Casey Pelter is the activities director and he is so quick witted he made all the shows so much fun! Trivia: We went three different times to trivia. You form teams from 2 -6 people and get an answer card. Every team answers as the host read the questions out loud. At the end you trade with a neighboring team and grade each other’s answers when the host tells you the correct answers. Winners will get something like a keychain or pen. 60 Seconds or Less: Just like the Minute to Win It tv show. It was a blast and my husband was one of the audience members selected. He received a gold medal for winning his bobblehead contest! They had 4 different challenges and they picked the participants from the audience members. As the host pointed out, this game is only fun as long as the participants and audience make it fun! And our participants and audience made it super fun! Opening Show: This featured a comedian and aerial acrobats. The aerial acrobats are amazing. The comedian was just so-so. He mumbled and was hard to understand sometimes. Magician: This was a high quality show. The magician is very charismatic and the tricks are pretty amazing. This was also a favorite of ours! Broadway Review: For this show the singers and dancers wear costumes and sing a song from one musical, then change sets and costumes and sing another song, then change and sing another song. We aren’t much into Broadway so we didn’t know very many of the songs. And without any storyline it became a bit boring for me. The singers and dancers are talented and the costumes and staging were impressive. Closing Show: The aerial acrobats were back and that was the main reason we wanted to see the closing show. There was a different comedian which we enjoyed more than the first one. They introduced the staff and there is a lot of cheering and clapping for all their hard work. Live Music: We attended a couple of the live music shows. The talent is amazing and I would recommend making an effort to check it out! In the Star Lounge they had a dance floor if you want to do some ballroom dancing to a live jazz band or rock out with Kronos. Dreamworks Parade: I stood on a little platform next to the elevator on Deck 6 to watch. If you have little kids, it was quite the performance, but it’s very crowded!! Poolside Activities: Zumba: I participated in this a couple of times and it is a fun class to get you up and moving. Simple enough for beginners, but challenging enough to get you sweating. Belly Flop Competition: Don’t volunteer, but do go and watch these poor men put themselves through immense pain! Sexiest Man Competition: I was at the pool when this started and Sonny from North Carolina stole the show!! It wouldn’t have been nearly as funny without him, so I don’t know if I’d recommend seeking this out. But if you just happened to be there, it can be entertaining. WARNING: The following is opinion based only, not based on facts  Our favorite features/areas on the ship were: Rock wall, Flow Rider, H2O Zone, Outside on Deck 4, the attentive and friendly staff, and the wide variety of lounges. Our least favorite features/areas on the ship were: Casino, library, the tiny showers, and the stench that came from the toilet! Our top 10 favorite activities on the ship were: 1. Ice show 2. Audience participation games (trivia, friendly feud, 60 seconds or less, etc.) 3. Magician 4. Watching sunrises/sunsets on Deck 4 5. Rock Wall competitions 6. Flow Rider competition 7. Aerial Acrobats 8. Cabin Crawl (this has to be organized by the Roll Call on Cruise Critic) 9. Couples Massage 10. Musicians Our least favorite aspect of the ship were: • The singers/dancers (not because they aren’t talented, just because that’s not something we’re interested in) • Spa Tour • The insane watch sale where you can’t get through the promenade! Food Okay this section is strictly opinion based because I don’t think there is any way to talk about food without having an opinion about whether it tasted good to you. The food on the ship was beyond my wildest dreams! I have never eaten such delicious, exotic, perfectly created dishes in my life! There may have been one or two things that weren’t fabulous, but there were so many options that if you don’t like, don’t eat it. Just get something else. Main Dining Room – We opted for My Time Dining because we didn’t want to have to be back on the ship in time for the 5:30 pm seating, but we usually eat much earlier than 8:00 pm. We enjoyed that flexibility and arranged reservations when we first boarded so we didn’t have to wait. Two evenings we called and rescheduled our reservations for a later time because there were other activities we wanted to attend. I requested a table for 5 because, even though we wouldn’t have minded getting to know other people, I was worried that some certain types of people would not be too thrilled eating with three boys. I had told them when I booked the trip that we were celebrating our 20th anniversary and they arranged a special dessert for us during the second formal night complete with candles and singing. We ate in the dining room the first two nights and then decided to try the buffet on Tuesday. We arrived on the boat late on Wednesday and were exhausted after Jamaica so we went for the buffet that night also. When we came back for the second formal night our waiter was afraid that we hadn’t been happy with the service. He had been fairly busy the first two night we were there, but this night we were his only table. So he cater to our every whim. He asked my middle son if he liked beef. I said the only beef he likes is hamburger. So the waiter brought him a burger and fries the next two night. The assistant waitress was one of our favorites. She was so sweet and kind. She remembered our drink orders and would go get extra savory bites for us because she claimed we were the only ones who liked them. We really enjoyed getting to know the dining room staff and spent a lot of time learning about their countries, families, and what it was like working on the cruise ship. Even though this list could go on and on, I’ll limit it to our top 10 favorites from the dinners at Main Dining Room: 1. Chocolate Sensation 2. Lamb Shank 3. Shrimp Ravioli 4. Lobster Tails (during 2nd formal night) 5. Key Lime Pie 6. Crème Brule 7. Grilled Salmon 8. Jaffa Cake 9. The Soups 10. The baskets of breads! The only things we had from the Main Dining Room for dinner that weren’t absolutely fabulous were: “Iced Tea” (I’m not sure what it is, but it’s not iced tea!), Seafood Spaghetti (we think they may have accidently brought the linguini instead, but I’m not 100% certain), and the lobster bisque (our waiter warned us that it was very fishy, but we ordered it anyway) Main Dining Room Lunch and Breakfast – We ate here for lunch one day and I enjoyed the Tutti Salad, but we felt the options at the buffet were just too awesome to pass up. So we ate the buffet, Café Promenade or Sorrentos for lunch the other days. We ate breakfast here two days and we LOVED the chocolate breakfast!! Especially the chocolate banana bread and the chocolate milkshakes! The Eggs Benedict and Huevos Rancheros were also favorites on the non-chocolate breakfast day. Windjammer Buffet – With three boys who eat A LOT, we tend to like buffets. I found this buffet to be absolutely the best buffet ever! The choices were limitless and offered a huge variety for all tastes. There was a variety of typical American food and choices that were more global. I especially loved the make your own crepe station at dinner. Just a few examples of the offereings are meat carving stations at all three meals, fresh fruits, cheeses and breads, a huge variety of salads and toppings, soups, hot vegetables and sides, a sundae bar, and table upon table of desserts. Jade – This is basically just another section of the Windjammer Buffet. My family LOVES sushi and we were quite excited to know that there was sushi available every evening. We were slightly disappointed with it, though. There wasn’t any actual seafood inside the rolls. It was mainly carrots, cucumbers, avocado, etc. An Asian family in line behind me referred to it as “fake sushi”. The main dishes were excellent though. I barely made to the other buffets because my plate was always full from Jade! Promenade Café – The café here ended up being one of our favorite spots. We’d stop in and grab a cup of coffee or tea and a sweet almost every evening. We also packed up sandwiches to take to Grand Cayman with us. I took Ziploc bags and a collapsible cooler to tote them ashore. (You can’t do this on Cozumel because they have dogs that sniff your bags and you have to throw away any food). Sorrentos – This is the pizza place that’s included in the price of the cruise. The boys had pizza several times, but I didn’t get around to trying it until the last day. IT WAS SO GOOD! I was disappointed I hadn’t discovered it earlier!! I had a rustic pizza with a crispy crust and fresh arugula and tomatoes on top. Soft-Serve Ice Cream- Free ice cream all day long!! It was good, creamy and cold on those hot afternoons. Is it the very best soft serve I’ve ever had? No. Did that stop us from eating it often? No!! Room Service – We’ve never in our lives ordered room service anywhere and wanted to order it just because we could. We ordered breakfast the first day but it was cold and disappointing. The boys ordered pizza one night as a late night snack. With the other awesome selections elsewhere, we didn’t use it as much I would have thought. Our top 10 favorite foods that weren’t in the Main Dining Room were: 1. Cookies - Mudslide, Coconut Macaroons, Chocolate Chip, they were all super delicious! They offered many varieties so we had cookies every day! 2. Seafood Sandwich from Café Promenade 3. Cheesecake Lollipops from Café Promenade 4. Sorrentos Pizza 5. Create your own crepe station 6. Sandwich spreads (salmon, tuna, and hummus) 7. Fresh Fruit! (Pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, grapes, apples, oranges, pears, kiwi, etc.) 8. Ethnic choice from Jade especially Kari Ayam (a chicken curry dish) and Chicken Tandoori 9. Banana pancakes with caramel sauce 10. Cold salads (they offered different salads each night and I would fill a plate with all the different options.) I was going to list the things we didn’t like, but I can’t think of anything worth mentioning! There were a couple of things that didn’t suit our tastes, but nothing that wasn’t prepared properly. Packing We are middle income, Midwesterners and our normal attire is casual. My husband and I both have jobs where we wear jeans most days and we rarely wear dress clothes (even our church is extremely casual). I didn’t want to over-pack, but wanted to make sure we had everything we needed. For excursions and wearing around the boat, I packed what we would normally wear on a day-to-day basis. For dinner we took fancier clothes than we would wear on a normal basis. I was surprised at how fancy people dressed every night. Not just the formal nights. Most evenings, women wore nice dresses (not just cotton sundresses), jewelry, and nice shoes. For the evening entertainment, some people would change into nice slacks. If you really want to skip the formal attire all together, you won’t be the only one wearing t-shirt and shorts to the shows, but you will be in the minority. I did not see anyone in the main dining room who was dressed casually. I wish I had packed warmer clothes for the evenings. I mainly had spaghetti strapped sundresses and the dining room and Arcadia Theater were extremely chilly! I didn’t have the right colored sweaters to layer over all my dresses. So NEXT time, I’ll make sure I have color coordinated layers for all my dresses. I also wish I had packed more in-between outfits. I didn’t have any slacks or capris. After dinner, I didn’t want to wear my formal gown all evening, but people were dressed very nicely in the evenings so shorts and t-shirts looked a little out of place. You will change clothes often. As an example, the first day, I started in exercise clothes to watch the sunrise, eat breakfast and go to the Zumba class, then I changed into a swimsuit and cover up, then at lunch I changed into a nicer shorts outfit, then I dressed in my formal gown for dinner, then I changed back into the nice shorts outfit for the evening show. You can wear the same thing more than once because you won’t have it on very long, but make sure you pack plenty! For those of you who are uber-organized like me, here’s my packing list to help get you started. For my husband and three boys: 2 nice shorts to wear on ship 2 polo or button down shirts to match nice shorts and slacks 5 casual shorts for excursions (exercise or jean) 5 t-shirts 1 set of workout clothes (shirt and shorts) 1 pair of long pants for ice skating 7 underwear 4 pairs of regular socks 1 pair of dress socks same color as dress shoes PJ’s 2 swimming trunks 1 swim shirt Baseball cap Sunglasses Light weight jacket Dress shoes that match your suit Strap-on water shoes Flip-flops Tennis shoes Suit Tie 1 long sleeve button down shirt to wear with tie 1 white undershirt 1 pair dress slacks Belt Here’s what I packed for me: 3 swimming suits 2 cover ups 3 sundresses Formal gown 5 pairs of shorts 5 shirts 1 pair of long pants 1 set of work-out clothes Socks Lightweight sweater Rain jacket 7 sets of undergarments PJ’s Sunhat Sunglasses Jewelry Toiletry Items: CAMERA!! Band-Aids Antibiotic ointment Aspirin Cold medicine Benadryl Seasickness medication Rash ointment Deodorant Toothbrushes Toothpaste Sunscreen Bug spray Make up Face soap Face lotion Shampoo/Conditioner Hair Products Contact stuff Glasses Cellphone/ipod chargers Dry erase board and marker – Great for keeping track of older kids! Extension cord for chargers Over the door hooks Magnets Ziplocs – various sizes – We used these to take sandwiches when we went on shore. Insulated tote – We used this to keep the sandwiches cool. Ask the steward for ice. Small Umbrella Binoculars Small air spray Snorkeling Gear – Highly recommend these at Labadee and Grand Cayman! Inflatable beach floats –Cheaper than renting them at Labadee and I just threw them away when we finished. Things I didn’t use: binoculars, over the door hooks, extension cord, umbrella, magnets, and bug spray. Things I wished I’d packed: long slacks and nice shirts for evenings and more sweaters for layering. Whenever I travel I like to pack things that I won’t miss, then I leave it behind. That way I won’t have to haul as much stuff home, don’t have as much laundry when I get back, and have room for all our souvenirs. I would not advocate wearing anything holey, dirty, offensive, or out of style. You are on a ship with moderately to extremely wealthy people. But since I’m never going to see any of these people again, I don’t think it has to be a fashion show either. Some examples to help you understand what I mean: I packed (and left) a pair of jean shorts and khaki shorts that had to be ironed before you could wear them (I hate ironing so I was happy to get rid of them!), a brand new outfit that was a gift and I just didn’t care for the color, a couple of shirts that were too low-cut for my taste, and old undergarments. There wasn’t really anything wrong with any of the clothes, but they tended to get disregarded when I was deciding what to wear, so I knew I wouldn’t miss them. The only things I packed to leave behind were the casual outfits that I wore for excursions and working out. Since I figured I’d spend most of my time in a swimsuit and cover up, I did buy new swim suits for the whole family, swim shirts for the boys, and a couple of cover ups. I also bought a new formal gown, and a couple of new sundresses. Disembarkation We had a lot of luggage to haul so we set it out the night before. I didn’t want to fight the crowds while wheeling that many suitcases. We took our time leaving the ship that morning. We didn’t have to catch a plane or be anywhere at any certain time. We had a leisurely breakfast at the Windjammer and then went back to the room to get ready and double check that we had everything. We were assigned the 9:30 slot which was the next to last slot. We started that way about 9:15 am and waited in the Café Promenade. They were running about 30 min. behind so we didn’t actually leave until closer to 10:00 am. They called all the last groups together and we were one of the last to leave. We had to stand in line for over an hour to get through customs. I had drank a coffee, hot tea, and a glass of water while we waited and there are NO bathrooms available (I asked!) We actually saw one poor lady who had peed her pants while waiting. So make sure you don’t drink too much while you’re waiting to leave!! Once we were outside, we asked about the shuttle and they directed us to the waiting area. There were more people waiting than there were benches and we had just stood for an hour in line so it seemed like a long wait for the shuttle. There were other people from other hotels so we had to stop and drop them off before we got to our hotel. By the time we got back and loaded our luggage, it was 12:00 pm before we left Cocoa Beach. One that I found humorous was after getting off the ship, our standards for quality of food, friendliness of service, and cleanliness were so high that we HATED the restaurants and hotel on the way home! We kept comparing them to how wonderful it was on the ship and you will never find any place on land that comes anywhere close to the ship!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first cruise with RCI and Freedom of the Seas. We arrived at the port about 10:15. The embarkation process started at 11:00 for the newbies. We were not allowed to go to our cabin until 1:30. Lunch was being served in the ... Read More
This was our first cruise with RCI and Freedom of the Seas. We arrived at the port about 10:15. The embarkation process started at 11:00 for the newbies. We were not allowed to go to our cabin until 1:30. Lunch was being served in the Windjammer buffet. After we ate, we we were allowed in our cabin and then went on deck for the sail-away. We had signed up for the Murder Mystery Dinner. The food was okay with as much wine as you wanted. There was no audience participation as we expected. We would not do this again. Over the next week we explored the ship and all the amenities. It was fun to watch participants try the flow-rider($). There was rock climbing($), mini-golf, basketball, children's arcade($), children's water park, adult pool, and other nice amenities. The promenade was very crowded in the evening and on sea days. Some of the eating areas were free, for others were was a charge. There was a promenade party one evening and a children's parade with the Dreamworks characters another afternoon. Although these were fun events, it was very crowded. The promenade idea was not a favorite of ours. All in all, The food was not as good as we have had on other cruise lines. The entertainment was excellent. The cruise director, Casey Pelter, was one of the best we have had on any cruise. We had a good time.This is a beautiful ship! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We sailed in celebration of our tenth anniversary,along with a dear friend who lives in Orlando. We had two cabins. This was my second, our friend's 11th and my husband's first cruise. We loved it. We were on the ... Read More
We sailed in celebration of our tenth anniversary,along with a dear friend who lives in Orlando. We had two cabins. This was my second, our friend's 11th and my husband's first cruise. We loved it. We were on the Disney Magic on the 6th deck, in inside cabins. That part I would do differently on another cruise. I missed seeing the outside and felt a little trapped at night in the utter darkness of the inside cabin. It would be fine if we were never in the cabin, but we did spend enough time there to make the lack of a deck or porthole noticeable. The room was minuscule, but worked for just two people in ours through careful unpacking and organzing. The closet was almost too big. I would have loved some drawers in there instead. The food was excellent in the general restaurants and in Palo, where we dined one night. We chose the second seating. 8:15 was late for dinner for us, but it was relaxed without feeling the pressure of another group coming in behind, and I am sure there were fewer children up that late, making it dinner much calmer. Traveling as an adult group was fun. We kept busy enough, with down time when we wanted it and lots of places with quiet away from children when that was desired as well. The adult pool was crowded on our trip. And deck chairs anywhere were hard to come by. We usually found a some for the three of us after 10-15 minutes of scouring the ship. Castaway Cay was our favorite stop. The island is well thought out and staged, with lots to do from bikes and hikes to just sitting in the sun on the lovely beaches. We brought our own snorkeling equipment. It was much cheaper than the cost to rent on the island. The other two stops, Cozumel and Grand Cayman, felt like places to shop for merchandise made in China. None of the excursions offered really appealed to us. We were less than thrilled with our time on those islands and quickly headed back on the Magic. I think you have to have a sense of whimsy to sail as an adult on a Disney cruise. We are all Disney lovers. We are not drinkers, so avoided the bars and discos, but they do exist for adults interested in that sort of thing. We had our pictures taken with Disney characters, watched movies (including a just released in theaters that day comic book movie) and enjoyed the shows quite a bit. On a separate note, we were very grateful to the Disney team in helping us with a medical issue. My husband takes a daily injection that has to be kept uniformly cool. We were warned that the refrigerators in room were not designed to stay at a steady temp. They kept his medicine in a behind the scenes refrigerator that would protect the temp, and were very gracious about getting it for him each night. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
By talking before our cruise we were able to set up a bunch of activities that everyone enjoyed. Having never met, we decided to try and organize some activities we could enjoy as a group that we may not have been able to accomplish ... Read More
By talking before our cruise we were able to set up a bunch of activities that everyone enjoyed. Having never met, we decided to try and organize some activities we could enjoy as a group that we may not have been able to accomplish without planning prior to sailing. On the day of departure we all met at the Sky Bar before and during castoff, had a few drinks and discussed our plans for the week. We had made arrangements through RCCL for 16 of us to dine together. Every night we talked and shared our experiences from the day and grew the knowledge of each other we had from talking on the Cruise Critic site. The first day at sea, after the Meet & Mingle sponsored by RCCL, 30 of us met for a slot pull. It was a blast, especially since we nearly doubled our money. After the slot pull we did a cabin crawl. Eleven people were kind enough to allow 25 of us to see their cabins. Everything from an interior cabin up to a grand suite. On our stop at Falmouth, 14 of us took a self guided tour of the town. None of us would have been comfortable walking around the town alone but we felt much more secure sightseeing and shopping with a group. Also on our stop at Cozumel 6 of us took the Cozumel Bar Hop excursion which we had all booked earlier since it is not offered through the cruise line. Again it was great. The food, drinks, beaches and company were outstanding. We also met our new friends all over the ship, whether in the Schooner Bar for a trivia challenge or while getting a seat for a show or just bumping into a friend at a lounge in the evening, there always seemed to be someone you knew around to talk to. Without the opportunity Cruise Critic to meet our new friends and discuss our plans, none of this would have taken place. As far as the cruise itself, it was great. Now if you are looking for a 5 diamond resort with a 4 star restaurant, don't book this cruise. The rooms are clean and you cannot beat the view but the rooms and bathrooms are cramped and there is limited storage space unless you have a suite. The food is prepared to feed over 6000 people at least 3 times a day so do not expect it to look and taste like Mom's home cooking. The buffet has an amazing assortment of foods to eat but they cannot have everything. The crew are amazing when you consider what is expected of them. They work 8 to 10 hours a day, 7 days a week for 4 to 8 months at a time. They are human like anyone else and have their good and bad days. But they are expected to be upbeat at all times, we found them to be gracious and helpful but no one can be excited to see you every time you walk by. A tip for getting on and off of the ship weather upon embarkation and debarkation, be early. We arrived around 10:00, dropped our bags, parked our car, went through security, checked in and were on the ship by 11:00. On debarkation, we got up late, ate breakfast and got off the ship at 9:30 but we then had to go through customs. It took us nearly and hour after picking up our bags until we got to our car. For some reason Customs feels they only need 6 Customs Officers to process over 4400 passengers. In summary, I suggest you get on your roll call, make some friends and make some plans. After you get on the ship kick back and relax. Nothing will happen on the ship that will ruin your vacation unless you let it. P.S. The ships propulsion has been completely repaired. I spoke with the Captain and he said I could quote him on it. There is some vibration on the ship but nothing unusual for a cruise ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015

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