2,467 Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze! The ship is clean and beautiful, filled with many activities to keep you busy! I enjoyed all of the line dance classes along with the Backstage tour of the Acadia Theatre. Our cabin was ... Read More
Embarkation and Disembarkation were a breeze! The ship is clean and beautiful, filled with many activities to keep you busy! I enjoyed all of the line dance classes along with the Backstage tour of the Acadia Theatre. Our cabin was mid-ship and easy to get to. Our room attendant was awesome! The cruise director, Jamie Fentiman and the Activities Manager, Belle O'Brien were a blast! Captain and his crew were always around the ship, friendly and accessible to the guests. The entertainment was wonderful each and every night. Food and service in the MDR was very good. Just relaxed in the sun at Coco Cay, ate at the BBQ and enjoyed the peacefulness back on the ship. Enjoyed the Turtle Cay Sail and Snorkel excursion and it was a nice, relaxing shopping day in St. Maarten. Great ports to visit. I really have nothing bad to report, just plenty of good stories and memories. I would definitely recommend this ship to everyone! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Our first cruise was amazing. Since we didn't know what to expect, we had no expectations. We thought the food was very good. Obviously, in a week of eating you are going to have a meal that maybe isn't fantastic but we were ... Read More
Our first cruise was amazing. Since we didn't know what to expect, we had no expectations. We thought the food was very good. Obviously, in a week of eating you are going to have a meal that maybe isn't fantastic but we were happy with every one. Windjammer was very good as well. A shout out to our servers in the main dining room is warranted......Rodson, Hemsley, and Hilary did a tremendous job. Hilary took the time to find out that our picky eating sons favorite fruit was strawberries and what do you know, every meal after that there were strawberries brought out without asking. We decided we didn't want to dress up for formal night so we would just eat at windjammer those 2 nights. Rodson said we could not miss lobster night even though it was formal. He said they would let us in no problem and we could enjoy the lobster and prime rib. We dressed nice, just not formal and he was right. There were actually quite a few men not wearing ties or jackets. I know you formal cruise people probably don't like hearing that. Activities were fun and plentiful. Was shocked that bingo was a minimum $40 though. The cruise director (Jamie) was very entertaining as was his staff. All of the entertainment was very impressive. The orchestra was excellent. Very talented musicians!!!!! The ship was amazing and we would sail it again in a heartbeat. I did get a respiratory illness during the week that I am still getting over, but who knows if I got it on the ship or off. One thing I like better about all inclusive resorts is the drink policy. Having to buy drink packages doesn't thrill me, but I guess that's cruising. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We are from Overland Park, KS and have traveled on Freedom of the Seas twice before in 2009 and 2011. We are a husband and wife and are 53 and 45 respectfully. We were traveling with our 24, 21, 15 and 11 year old children and my father. ... Read More
We are from Overland Park, KS and have traveled on Freedom of the Seas twice before in 2009 and 2011. We are a husband and wife and are 53 and 45 respectfully. We were traveling with our 24, 21, 15 and 11 year old children and my father. This is my father's first cruise. We stayed in the Radisson pre and post cruise and found this hotel to have decreased in cleanliness since our last stay there. The pool area is still nice but the rooms and grounds need major renovations. There is a new rule regarding the pool deck and Tiki Bar area that states you can't bring your own food/beverages into these areas. This rule was only sporadically enforced while we were there which made for very frustrated guests. The manager, Andrew, and the front desk staff were friendly. The bartender and wait staff in the restaurant were very rude. We will be looking elsewhere for our next hotel stay. Freedom of the Seas has completed a partial refurbishment from earlier this year. Here are my good and bad observations. Embarkation had a few hiccups. The staff member got very confused checking in all 7 of us in three different staterooms and had to call for help. His frustration was evident and he was borderline rude. Disappointing: There were new staterooms added and the public areas are more crowded as a result. They seem to have not added additional staff so the MDR/Windjammer wait staff are very overworked. The pool areas had chair hogs out in full force every day and it was very frustrating. The pool attendants did not enforce the "no saving of deck chair" rule. The ship itself has some areas that have been improved but other public areas and the balcony and promenade staterooms are in desperate need of refurbishment. The carpet looked old and worn in areas of high traffic and the glass half wall on our balcony was spotted and was not cleaned during our cruise. There were many large rust spots above our balcony sliding door. The guest services staff were extremely rude and we had to talk to a manager to get our issue with being overcharged for the Royal Replenish pkg resolved. There were a few incidents of people smoking on their balcony near us and making ours unusable in the process. FOOD: Let me preface this by saying we are not extremely picky eaters and usually love the MDR and Windjammer selections. The food quality and choices in the MDR and Windjammer have decreased dramatically since our previous cruises in 2009 and 2011. There were many entrees that had to be returned to the galley due to being prepared wrong or just very bad tasting. We do not utilize the specialty restaurants. The cold fruit soup appetizers, the Windjammer fries and the American Flag cake on the pool deck on July 4th were my favorite foods on this trip. The dress code for all nights in the MDR including formal nights should just be shredded as no one enforces it. We dress for dinner each night per the code and it is frustrating when others disregard it. It takes very little effort for pullover shirts/cotton pants/sundresses for casual nights and suits/cocktail dresses for formal nights. It is also a valuable asset for children to learn how to dress for different occasions. We were very disappointed in CocoCay. The beach areas had very few operable beach chairs and even fewer hammocks. The lounge chairs were broken and cloth covers were torn and swaying with no support or cushion.The staff was not friendly and we returned to the ship after only an hour and ate lunch onboard. Our 11 year old, who is very outgoing, felt the Adventure Ocean Club was juvenile for his age and the staff didn't seem to interact well with the older kids. The ship photographers were very unprofessional. They rushed us and were rude. We have purchased our last package from them. Thumbs up: We loved our MDR wait staff! Nelson and his assistant were wonderful and did everything within their power to make our experience enjoyable. We also loved our room steward, Nazareth. He was wonderful and interacted with us many times a day. My father uses a CPAP at night and the staff was very accommodating and had distilled water and an extension cord in his room. Our 15 year old loved the teen club and participated in many activities such as the 3 on 3 basketball tourney. We enjoyed the shows and were pleasantly surprised that, although the names were the same as in previous cruises, the shows themselves had been changed and updated. Loved the trivia in the Schooner Bar. The singer, Lou Gazzara, was fabulous! The July 4th festivities were awesome! The Love and Marriage show and Quest were awesome as usual! We really enjoyed the Royal Replenish package and had many non-alcoholic fruity concoctions as well as Starbucks frappachinos. The freestyle cola machines were great and there was rarely a waiting line. It was definitely worth the $$$ for us. Sprinkles ice cream on the pool deck was great as usual. The chocolate/strawberry swirl was a family favorite. We enjoyed St. Thomas and St. Maarten. In St. Thomas, our excursion was with St. Thomas Scuba and Snorkeling and was the highlight of the trip! Web and staff were wonderful and we have many great memories of our snorkeling adventure. In St. Maarten, our excursion was with Bernards Tours. Simon was wonderful and very knowledgeable about the island. The Belgian Chocolate Box and Saraphinas were wonderful places to get a snack. We really enjoyed seeing the senior officers frequently and I got to speak with the Captain on two occasions, which was very nice. Disembarkation was easy although RCI temporarily lost my fathers garment bag. They called after we had gotten to our port hotel and made my father come back to the terminal to pick it up. They refused to send someone 2 miles to our hotel to return it to us. All in all, this was a cruise vacation and we had a good time. However, it was not the wonderful experience that we have had in the past and that makes us very sad. We have been loyal to Royal but may have to explore other cruise lines for our next vacation. RCI has been building more and more ships but grossly neglecting their customers. The cutbacks are very evident especially in the quality and choices of the food. We shouldn't have to go to specialty restaurants to get good quality food. Please return to the days of high quality customer service, RCI! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This cruise was excellent. The Freedom of the Seas is in my opinion the best ship to cruise on. It is always clean and tidy. No real crowds. I have cruised a number of times on it. No embarkation or disembarkation problems The ... Read More
This cruise was excellent. The Freedom of the Seas is in my opinion the best ship to cruise on. It is always clean and tidy. No real crowds. I have cruised a number of times on it. No embarkation or disembarkation problems The food and service was very good, all of the shore excursions were as expected. The Cabin was a balcony mid ship. No delays getting on or off. The only thing exceptional was that there were young Ladies from South America celebrating there Quintercera (15 year coming out party). There were approximately 1,000 teenage girls all over the ship! Use your imagination!! I understood from the staff that this is a common thing. If having multitudes of teenage girls on the ship with you or fellow travelers I would suggest that you check with Royal Caribbean ahead of time. A senior ships officer told me you can do this. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We just got back from out Freedom of the Seas, Eastern Caribbean cruise on Sunday. We had an awesome time! It is a beautiful, well maintained ship. There are 3 different pool areas; adult only, one for everyone, and kiddie area. They ... Read More
We just got back from out Freedom of the Seas, Eastern Caribbean cruise on Sunday. We had an awesome time! It is a beautiful, well maintained ship. There are 3 different pool areas; adult only, one for everyone, and kiddie area. They were all very large. I actually liked to kiddie one best because you could just walk through it and get squirted off to cool down. The water in the adult area and the other one that was mainstream for all had a bit too warm water. If you wanted to be cooled down, they wouldnt really do it. But, there were tons of lounge chairs, and nice warm towels given to anyone who needed one. They also have the movie screen over the main pool area where they have movies every night. They had some great bands singing at the pool area also. The Windjammer buffet area was nice. It gets crowded and sometimes we had to walk around a few minutes to find an empty table. But, the staff tries very hard to clean the tables off quickly. The food was pretty close to the same every day for breakfast and lunch. You would see a few new dishes. I never ate supper in there. The food was good for the most part. Desserts seemed to be a lot of the mousse/gel type which werent all that great. The cheesecakes were pretty good. There were fried eggs for breakfast which was very good. They also give you a bigger variety of drinks in there; mango water, kiwi water, lemonade, tea. The fruit waters were good. The staff in there are very courteous and offer to bring you anthing you need and are very fast to remove any dirty dishes. There is also fresh squeezed orange juice from a machine (for and additional price; which is included in all drink packages), which is very good. The formal dining room food was always excellent. We had the late seating in the Leonardo dining room. The waiter and his assistant we had were excellent. The maitre de even came by every night and was very personable. I dont remember ever meeting the maitre de on any other ships. The service was excellent during out dinner time. Its not quite as good during the breakfast hour. It is first come first serve as far as where you are seated. The waiters during that hour arent quite as effecient. One morning, it was actually very slow and the waiter seemed put off that we were there even. You can order off the menu during breakfast; which is definately better than the little buffet they have set up in there. Some of the food on the buffet in there is luke warm. So, we liked the Windjammer better for breakfast; they had more variety and the food was hot. The wait staff in there was usually more helpful even.The pizza place on the promenade deck / Sorrentos was ok; not awesome, not bad. The Cafe Promenade has pretty good sandwiches and other muffins and pastries which are included in cruise cost which is good. They also have Starbucks coffee, which to my surprise was included in the cheapest soda beverage package. The low cost beverage package; I think about $6 a day is totally worth it; you get all the soda, starbucks coffee and even virgin frozen drinks you want. We had Starbucks at least twice a day which totally paid for it alone. The shows were excellent. The Ice show especially . All the entertainers are wonderful; most previous medalist and comeptitors. Dont miss it. The singing/musical production in the Arcadia theater was also excellent. They had a comedian the last night for the Farewell show which was hilarious. Getting on the ship was typical; long lines unless you're a "diamond elite" customer. But, that cant be helped since everyone is boarding at the same time. Getting off the ship was the fastest , most organized I have ever experienced. I think it took about 15 minutes at the most. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
For this trip we were a group of seven people myself 33, my husband 41, grandmother 74, mother 56, my little brother 25, and both of my children 10 and 15. We decided to take the Freedom of the Seas for the DreamWorks experience we are ... Read More
For this trip we were a group of seven people myself 33, my husband 41, grandmother 74, mother 56, my little brother 25, and both of my children 10 and 15. We decided to take the Freedom of the Seas for the DreamWorks experience we are suckers for meet and greets with all the charterers. We got the unlimited drink package and our kids got the soda and more with our TA. We went to Coco Cay the private island for Royal, St. Thomas and St. Maarten with three sea days. We had one suite and where suppose to have two but it turns out they some how gave ours away and transferred us to a veranda I was highly upset about this. There was a lot of issues checking my daughter in the lady at the check in keep asking for a form stating we were allowed to take her on this cruise something that should never had been an issue since as her parents we were there why would I fill out a form for my husband and I to take out daughter on vacation it was nuts and a waste of time that I believe was because they did not believe she was our daughter since she is mix race and my husband and I are Caucasian this was embarrassing for my daughter also. they did not add my kids drink packages and when I went with my paperwork to show they should have received them they charged me the cost and said they can not fix it on ship they need to have corporate take care of it. The took off my and my husband unlimited packages by mistake something I found out later than tried to recharge me for them luckily I brought my confirmation and was able to pull up my credit card statement on my phone showing we paid for them. We enjoyed the food they had good food in the main dinning room we only felt the need to eat at one specialty restaurant the Mexican one it was really good with table side made gauc and chips. The serves were nice and the food was good each night the drink service was slow at dinner and we wold sometimes only get one drink during our meal because we did not see the drink server usually more than once. The buffet was not good at all it was confusing and really had little choices and not much my kids were interested in I would have liked chicken tenders and more kids options. The shows were good they were not as good as some other lines but good the love and marriage show was funny and battle of the sexes was amazing to watch loved it. The drinks were made well the only thing was the drink of the days were not that good I thought but the rest were amazing The triple coconut majito was a top drink I had so many of these and they are something you have to have on this ship the bartenders were nice and fast. With the drink package we drank way more than normal but it was all pretty good I would take this trip again for that triple coconut drink. The stateroom was nice I usually do not spend much time in it the suite room was really nice. We thought it served out needs there was not anything amazing about it but I was expecting to be in a suite like the rest of my party so this could play into way I was not that interested with it. We did this cruise for the Dreamworks experience and it was good I really like how they do the meet and greets we saw everyone we wanted besides the penguins I was really sad they were not a part of these meets and greets. We bought all of our photos because each person in our party was going to buy a few photos so I thought it would cost less to just buy the disc and call it good. Getting off this ship was a mess and this is one of the main reason I do not think I would want to take them again anytime soon it was horrid. The lines and the people it was just a mess and we had a nice area to meet being in the suite for part of our party and we still stood in line to get off for almost an hour they need to fix the way they handle this. After our cruise we went to Universal Orlando for a few days and did the private VIP tour so we had personal transportation from the port ( if interested the universal and guide are in my blog http://disneymommagic.blogspot.com/ and a lot more detail on this cruise) The ports were nice we did one ship tour and the other we booked Barnards tours we also had a cabana on the royal island that was really nice I do wish they more on the water however but they are worth the cost and we would defiantly book one again. the ports were nice and fun there is more detail of them on my blog. I would not take this cruise again unless there was a deal the start was just to much of a mess and really brought down my mood on this vacation it was a nice ship and I loved the drinks the food was good outside the buffet and the fresh OJ to die for. The meet and greets were good but getting off that ship at the end was a nightmare this is a good cruise if your kids are into the meet and greets but I am not sure if the good things out weight the bad this time around I have a few trips on other ships planned than I may try RCCL again who knows. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Sailed of Freedom of Seas for,our first cruise. Had a deluxe balcony cabin. Plenty of room for the two,of us with ample storage. There was room under the bed to,store 2 full size suitcases and decent closet space. Bathroom was small, as ... Read More
Sailed of Freedom of Seas for,our first cruise. Had a deluxe balcony cabin. Plenty of room for the two,of us with ample storage. There was room under the bed to,store 2 full size suitcases and decent closet space. Bathroom was small, as expected. A person of size would struggle,with the shower. Tv selection poor. Food overall just fair. Bland and repetitive. Also buffet closed at 9PM. IF,you wanted a late meal you had to go promenade cafe with simple,sandwiches. I thought cruises had food late at night, and we prefer to eat late. Stateroom attendant very good, serviced room twice a day with nightly towel animals. Too much emphasis patrons to sell extras such as beverage packages and shopping "deals". Ship nice, clean and staff overall pleasant. Good selection of,excursions and did enjoy those we selected. Extras added up. Most of tv dedicated to their shopping activities. Stops in Haiti and Jamaica were in their own private areas. Walled,off from rest of,Island so more,like,a larger shopping area extension of ships but activities provided were great. Had disembarkation at end down to a science. Bit early if on upper decks, but fast and efficient. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Freedom of the seas, boarding was quick no lines when we arrived and was on board early. Windjammer for lunch was ok. The dinner in the main dinning room for 5:30p dinner was horrible. I ordered the steak it was more like shoe leather ... Read More
Freedom of the seas, boarding was quick no lines when we arrived and was on board early. Windjammer for lunch was ok. The dinner in the main dinning room for 5:30p dinner was horrible. I ordered the steak it was more like shoe leather and so thin I could not eat it. My sister ordered the steak as well and hers was not right it was under cooked and they brought her out another on said it should be perfect well that was a lie so they brought her another one that came out so raw that it was blue. Drink package for premium coffee and tea the only place to get premium tea was at Starbucks they were so rude would walk away and not wait on you. The one tea was not available and was told to get the that was already which was not premium Why would i want that tea when i bought a package to have the organic tea i paid for!!! Needles to say the management had to get involved and for the inconvenience was reimbursed for 3 day of the drink package and the made the tea available in the windjammer. The ship was nice however when the added more staterooms to accommodate 1000 more travelers they never added more staff. So the service was not up to par. Forget trying to get waited on for a drink at the adult pool i had to keep getting up i finally asked for 2 drinks which the said they could not give me really no one was walking around taking orders he finally gave me a second drink. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We sailed on Freedom of the Seas, overall our experience was good, they try hard. One thing did make us nuts, the clerk setup our seapass incorrectly when we boarded. They put the $50 limit on our card instead of the kids, could have been ... Read More
We sailed on Freedom of the Seas, overall our experience was good, they try hard. One thing did make us nuts, the clerk setup our seapass incorrectly when we boarded. They put the $50 limit on our card instead of the kids, could have been a disaster! Fortunately the kids did not spend anything, but, every time we used our card our account was disabled because the balance was over $50! This went on the entire trip, I was in the customer service line ( sometimes very long) every day multiple times (every time we used the card to get a drink, even though it was free & in our package.) The customer service people only figured it out hours before the trip ended! They always said it was a computer glitch, bad card, ect. finally on the last day a supervisor figured out what was going on. I think they cut too much on staff quality; they need to pay more for a higher caliber of people. But they did have very good staff here and there, just not the majority. Our cabin person, and dinner waiters were top notch, very impressive. Also my wife has a gluten allergy, I will say that was handled very well. Even the worst food staff we encountered obviously had extensive training on allergies. It did seem a bit crowded at times, but not too bad. You would think with 5-6K people on the ship it would seem crowded. Many quality activities, things going on all the time. The shows were top notch. Next time we may consider a higher quality cruise line, maybe a smaller ship. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Just got off the Freedom of the Seas today. Highs were the excellent service from our cabin steward and our two main dining room servers. The Flowrider was a hit with my son, as well as the rock climbing wall. My son also participated in ... Read More
Just got off the Freedom of the Seas today. Highs were the excellent service from our cabin steward and our two main dining room servers. The Flowrider was a hit with my son, as well as the rock climbing wall. My son also participated in the Adventure Ocean program and met several friends. The entertainment was good. The best of all was the Welcome Aboard show, Once Upon A Time, The Freedom Ice show, Magic Show w Drew Thomas and the Show on the last night. Lows were that at every turn, you now have to pay a lot more money than ever for any extras. Johnny Rockets is 5.95 per person, plus the cost of the beverages. (For my family of four, it was almost 40$ for lunch after tipping.) Chops is now 35$ per person, Giovannis Table and Sabor were also 30$ per person! Lunch was 20 - 25$ per person at specialty dining. Flowrider lessons? 69$ for half an hour. Tapas lounge charged 49$ for dinner? I do not mind paying for drinks, Starbucks, etc... but photos are now 22.95, even for the ones snapped at dinner. We booked a balcony cabin, deck eight, which was a bit tight for four people for a week. If we go again, would book an inside cabin and a balcony, just needed a little extra room for all of us. After reviewing excursions, we went on the Schooner at St. Thomas, which is more of a pirate ship type boat. Six hour excursion, not much shade, a nice barbecue lunch and some snorkeling. 375$ for four, we booked thru Royal Caribbean. I am glad we did as there where three full boats, Bones, Dubloon and one other, and the third came back thirty minutes late. They were an excursion thru the ship, so we sailed 35 minutes late. It pays to go with the excursions desk! The bar staff was nice everywhere. Entertainment at the various bars was fair to cloudy. The best was at the Irish Pub on deck five. Baleros had a good acoustic guitar player as well. The pool was always crowded and if you did not get there by nine am, no chairs in the shade were available for the rest of the day. The "Deck Crew" do not enforce the no saving chair policy and if a towel was on a chair, it stayed there for the rest of the afternoon. Breakfast in the main dining room was good, albeit slow. Windjammer's is the same as always, edible, nothing special. For lunch, it was the main dining room or Windjammers. I remember pool side barbecues, but not on the Freedom. It is Johnny Rockers or Windjammers if you want a burger any time other than 11:30 - 1:00 pm in the main dining room. Room service was fine. (No BLT's on room service menu, which is my son's favorite.) We asked if we could get them and were told no, can't alter the menu items......After midnight, there is a service fee for room service, so order by 11:30 pm. On deck five, Promenade cafe or Sorrentos is open. Pizza at Sorrento's is ok, slices are small. Sandwiches at Promenade cafe are alright as well. My kids did the cupcake decorating class and really enjoyed it. I booked online before we sailed as I heard it always sells out quickly and that was true on this cruise. Ben and Jerry's was great. Starbucks was good once we all got on the same page, some language barriers in the beginning which made ordering coffee a bit of a process. If your kids drink a lot of water, bring a twelve pack on board! We spent 66$ for water in the cabin. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Where to start. First, the boarding process, while the line was long, it really doesn't take l lot of time, 30 to 40 minutes or so from getting off the bus till I walked onto the ship. We had 2 staterooms with balconies, worth every ... Read More
Where to start. First, the boarding process, while the line was long, it really doesn't take l lot of time, 30 to 40 minutes or so from getting off the bus till I walked onto the ship. We had 2 staterooms with balconies, worth every penny. I took my grown son and daughter and my wife on this cruise. THE SHIP: plenty to do, super clean, no serious issues of any kind. I will say the extra 25 bucks a head for the "specialty" restaurants seems a little high, but the food was excellent and a big step above the normal fare available in the main dining room. We also sprang the extra 6 bucks a head for a burger at Johnny Rockets, well worth it. Great burger and chocolate malts! Hit all the bars over the course of the cruise, bartenders were all very pleasant and had no issues mixing up anything my crew asked for. I will put in a plug that if you drink a lot on vacation, buy the ultimate package. not cheap at 65 bucks a day, but if you drink top shelf you'll easily come in positive vs. 12 bucks a drink. also includes all the bottled water and soda, etc. you could want. Favorite thing on the ship? Sitting on my balcony with an adult beverage each evening watching the sun set over the ocean while the ship slides through the water. OFF THE SHIP: We rode jet skis at Koko Cay, lots of fun but you should be in decent shape as it's a bit of a workout if the water is choppy, and you get bounced around a lot. In St. Thomas take the pirate ship "Bones" for a snorkel tour, it was our favorite event of the cruise. Again, you need to be in decent shape to do the snorkeling, and think twice before swimming in for lunch, it's a bit further than it looks :-). In St Marteen we hopped on the racing yacht Canada II and raced the Stars and Stripes around the area, it also was a lot of fun for all of us. We will cruise again, and I'd get back on this ship without a hesitation as it just went great. One special shout out, a big thank you to the medical staff, you guys rock. My daughter got sick the very last day of the cruise, they helped get her nausea under control and gave her an IV to get her hydration level back in line. I couldn't have asked for better care for her! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The Freedom of the Seas is a beautiful ship and is very well maintained everyday thanks to a hard working crew. We were in stateroom 8356, which is a superior ocean view with verandah and we had a great stateroom attendant by the name of ... Read More
The Freedom of the Seas is a beautiful ship and is very well maintained everyday thanks to a hard working crew. We were in stateroom 8356, which is a superior ocean view with verandah and we had a great stateroom attendant by the name of Mark. We were only about an hour out of port from Port Canaveral and had an announcement by the captain that we would have to return to port because of a medical emergency onboard. It was a short time in port before we were on our way again and the time was made up at sea so we arrived in Labadee on time. Hopefully the individual who was taken off the ship is OK. We took the Western Caribbean cruise going to Labadee, Haiti; Falmouth, Jamaica; Georgetown, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, Mexico. There’s plenty to do right off the pier in Labadee. The Dragon’s Breath Flightline and Dragon’s Tail Coaster you can book in advance, and are exhilarating. This part of the island is exclusive to RC and is well kept. The food and drinks on Labadee are brought into this area from the ship. The other 3 ports really have nothing to do within easy walking distance other than the tourist shops at the docks, unless you have booked a shore excursion. If I were to do this cruise again, I would have booked some sort of a shore excursion for these last 3 ports. The weather in all of the ports was hot and humid. In Falmouth there is a large tourist shopping area with the usual stores and items, but nothing beyond that area that you could venture out to. We also took a “taxi” or tour van from the port in Falmouth to Montego Bay. Not a lot to see, but gave somewhat of an overview of the culture there. There was an obligatory stop at 2 souvenir shops along the way which I could have done without. This was a 3 hr. tour at $35 each that we obtained at the dock area. In Grand Cayman, there was very little shopping and not much there that’s been built for the cruisers coming into port. It was interesting to see the iguanas that roam freely in grassy areas and trees. In Cozumel, we took a taxi to Paradise Beach for $15 each way. This beach is a beautiful place with palms, green grass, well groomed sand and inflatable toys in the water for kids and their parents. It was only $3 per person to get in. There’s a large cabana bar offering mixed drinks, beer, food, etc. and a large, clean swimming pool. From the front, this place looks like a fine resort. The employee at the dive/snorkel shop onboard the ship suggested going there to snorkel, but it is definitely not suitable for snorkeling due to the sand churned up in the water by the waves. We booked “My Time” dining in Galileo on deck 5 and usually dined around 5:30 p.m. We ended up having the same table and servers each evening. The meals were good, some better than others, but the service was always excellent from our waiters Leo and Kadek. The rolls that they had for starters were delicious with a variety of flavors and are made from scratch onboard. Sorrento’s Pizza on the Royal Promenade was mediocre at best. We tried eating at Johnnie Rocket’s twice only to find them closed but finally succeeded the third time. They have very limited hours of operation. There’s lots to do onboard including the casino, FlowRider, rock-climbing wall, mini golf, ice skating (the ice skating show was outstanding and shouldn’t be missed), shopping, swimming, bingo, etc. It would be nice if the hours of operation for the FlowRider and the rock-climbing wall were expanded. If you’re planning on doing these activities, watch the hours they are open. We did specialty dining at Giovanni’s. The food was delicious and the service was impeccable from our waiter Antonio. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We booked this cruise last minute to join with friends already on the ship. This trip started right from the moment I called the cruise line. The guest services people we great and very accommodating. The helped us navigate the entire ... Read More
We booked this cruise last minute to join with friends already on the ship. This trip started right from the moment I called the cruise line. The guest services people we great and very accommodating. The helped us navigate the entire process. The overall cruise was nice and the ship looks great fresh from her latest dry dock. There was plenty to do for the kids and for us adults. Boarding day - This process seemed like herding cattle to slaughter and my main complaint is that is is super crowded in there. Once on the ship; however, it was very pleasant. We went to the Windjammer and had lunch and enjoyed the sail away from deck 12. We took advantage of many of the amenities on the ship including the unlimited coffee in the Cafe on Deck 5 and the yummy snacks there too. TIP - While the Starbucks is Extra, the coffee in back is free and just fine. Also the food is free as well. Get the rice Krispies. The spa was nice and if you wait till day 7 you can get 60 minutes for $100. Worth it. The most entertaining was the first day at sea when the ship's officers took questions on deck 5. They are really funny and could be a show of their own. I highly encourage you to meet these folks as they are personable and answered all my son's many questions. The shows are nice and the ice skating rink was a hit with our 7 year old. My 10 year old enjoyed the kids club. Runners - run early! or go to the really nice fitness center. Walkers should go to deck 4. The food in the main dining room is good and if you are looking for green veggies, ask for a plate of just veggies along with your meal. We ate at Chops and while good, it was nothing to write about. The windjammer was a standard cruise buffet. I recommend having your meals in the main dining rooms if you can. Johnny Rocket was OK. CocoCay - rent a wave runner and go all the way to the end of the beach for the best beach seats. GREAT PLACE FOR SMALL KIDS is the barefoot beach! water is 2 feet deep and crystal clear. St. Thomas - DO NOT GO TO DREAMS SUGAR BAY resort for day. We tried to book a resort for a day pass here and we given a price over the phone and then once we arrived they tripled it! We left and went to the Marriot - Nice beach and over priced food there. I'd do something else next time St. Marteen - We went to the Westin on a Resort for a Day.com booking (pre booked this one) and it was amazing. Great beach, great pool and reasonable priced and yummy food. Kids loved it. We almost didn't want to leave Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My 3rd cruise with RC and love the cruise line. Sailed on EOS and Oasis. I'll start with the good. Entertainment - I was impressed with the variety and quality of the shows. Fantastic. Cruise Director and staff were funny! You ... Read More
My 3rd cruise with RC and love the cruise line. Sailed on EOS and Oasis. I'll start with the good. Entertainment - I was impressed with the variety and quality of the shows. Fantastic. Cruise Director and staff were funny! You need to carefully read the activity planner to know what is going on. Don't miss the Newlywed Game! Get to the shows 30 min early! There were a lot of lounges for whatever you like: peace and quiet, trivia, music, seminars. BEST PART OF THIS CRUISE WAS THE ENTERTAINMENT! Chops Grille - I paid for this the last night and sorry I didn't plan more dinners here. Steak was plentiful and tender. Intimate and not crowded. Service was quick. They offer a plan for $20 pp/per day to eat at one of the specialty restaurants every night. I will definitely spend this money the next cruise! Main Dining Room - Food was not good and not enough. We often went to the Windjammer for more food and better choices. Service was friendly but not good. Bread was cold and hard. Long wait between bread and appetizers and main course and dessert. I don't remember this frustration on my previous RC cruises. Ambience was noisy, crowded and not intimate. Tables were close and as you squeeze past tables, peoples' front and rear body parts were way to close to my food. Did I say the food was not good? Freedom of the Seas Ship - I may have been spoiled by the Oasis of the Seas, a fantastic ship. Biggest complain is you can easily feel the undulations of the ocean. Didn't make me sick but I don't remember feeling anything on OOS. FOS missing the technology of OOS? FOS also didn't have enough elevators. Always a lot of people waiting. 13 total elevators vs. 24 for Oasis of the Seas. Promenade was much narrower than OOS. I head OOS is 60 feet and FOS was only 30 feet. I missed the jazz, comedy and dance clubs of OOS. On FOS, no jazz at all, comedy is held in the big Acadia theatre (much better in a smaller setting) and there were small areas to dance in some of the lounges. Room Service - TERRIBLE IN ALL WAYS! My first order was after a late show so maybe it was busy ... maybe. However, 2 hours to get my order is shameful. My second use of room service took 45 min, barely acceptable. My third use took 1 hour and 30 minutes. FOOD WAS HORRIBLE AND MENU VERY LIMITED! Steak sandwich came with one piece of bread, hard and cold! Fries limp and cold. No hot dogs? Really? Management needs to completely overhaul this! I will not cruise on this ship again. Personally, I will spend the extra to go on the Oasis Class ships. I cruise for the entertainment, ambiance, food and ports in that order. FOS delivered on 2 of 4. OOS delivered on 4 of 4. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have cruised many times dating back to mid 90's. Big Red Boat, Disney, Carnival, NCL and now RC. We went with our family roughly 12 people total. We all had balcony rooms which were VERY NICE. Downfall to the room VERY VERY VERY ... Read More
I have cruised many times dating back to mid 90's. Big Red Boat, Disney, Carnival, NCL and now RC. We went with our family roughly 12 people total. We all had balcony rooms which were VERY NICE. Downfall to the room VERY VERY VERY small shower!! The staff was GREAT everywhere... With an exception we ate dinner the last night in the Windjammer and the "servers" never came over to clear our table (table for 2ppl). Now the ship has amazing shopping! The spa was nice too! My biggest complaint was most activies were geared to an older demographic. Some shows were GREAT! Others not my thing as they were geared to a much OLDER generation. Basically if you didnt want to shop or sit by the pool and dont gamble there wasnt much to do. I did however like the adult only pool area. Most ships have this but only hot tubs and not a pool so that was nice. The food however was not too great. The dining room food was ok but all soups were bland. The layout of Windjammer was HORRIBLE and I got tired of the same food daily! Hot dog, Burgers, Pasta... 7 days of this :/ Did not try the cupcake or ben and jerrys places as I didnt see the need to spend the money. Starbucks was yummy and included in the drink package. Pizze got old after awhile though. No midnight buffet on this ship either which was dissapointing. After the late night shows I wanted to eat. I did utilize Room Service alot! but same menu got old. Over all the destinations we went to were great but for the price you pay for the balcony room I expected better! I thought carnival was better than this which surprised me. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was the first cruise for our grandchildren but my husband and I are diamond members of RC. We flew from Atlanta, Ga to Orlando in which I had reservations with Orlando Chauffeured Services to pick us up at the airport. Our driver was ... Read More
This was the first cruise for our grandchildren but my husband and I are diamond members of RC. We flew from Atlanta, Ga to Orlando in which I had reservations with Orlando Chauffeured Services to pick us up at the airport. Our driver was waiting on us at the baggage terminal in Orlando and helped us to the car with our baggage. Wonderful service and I give them five stars. It took a while to board the ship but that is expected. Big ships take a while to get everyone on. We liked the extra service we received as crown and anchor members getting on board. Our grandchildren loved the Adventure Ocean Club and looked forward to going there every night from 6:30 to 10:00 p.m. They had themed activities several nights and the kids looked forward to them. There were plenty of activities on the ship that the kids loved. The flow rider and the ice skating rink were just a few that they loved. The only thing they were not so excited about was having to dress for dinner each night and having to wait for the food in the dinning room. I thought they would be picked up each night early while we were dinning to go to the club but it was never offered to us. Our first stop was Coco Cay and we had such a good time. If you have children go ahead and reserve the aqua park/water slide. Well worth the money. Our grand kids spent one hour at the water park which was plenty of time and they could slide all day on the slide. And they did that. Five stars. The tickets were waiting on us when we got to our room the first day and we did not have to stand in a line to get a ticket. Our next stop was St. Thomas which we just stayed on our own and shopped. Our next stop was St. Martin in which we went on the Seaworld Explorer excursion. It was a nice excursion and we saw lots of fish and turtles in which the kids loved. The ride there and back was not bad and did not take to long. They stopped at an open air market and let us shop for about 45 minutes on the way back and we enjoyed that also. Wonderful weather, service and a great family vacation. Getting off the ship took a while but we waited and attempted to be at the last of the line. Took about an hour total so that was not to bad. Orlando Chauffeured Service was there to pick us up as we got off the boat and had a wonderful ride back to the airport. Can't say enough for our drivers there and back. My husband and I like smaller ships better because we think the service and food is better. We go to relax and all the frills of a big ship does not matter to us. But with kids you need to go on a big ship as the extras are well worth it. The Adventure Ocean Club was a really big hit to our children. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We booked this cruise in late January. It was a whole family cruise - my family and my girlfriend's family (8 of us total). First-time cruiser, so obviously this will be a "better" review since I have nothing to compare to, ... Read More
We booked this cruise in late January. It was a whole family cruise - my family and my girlfriend's family (8 of us total). First-time cruiser, so obviously this will be a "better" review since I have nothing to compare to, but I had a wonderful time! Week-long cruise to the Western Caribbean, stopping in Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. For anyone flying into Orlando, I'd suggest getting a hotel near the airport which offers a shuttle to Port Canaveral. We stayed at the Ramada Inn and got a package deal with a round-trip shuttle to and from Port Canaveral. Great deal - saved a bunch of money. There were three medical emergencies during the week, the first of which happened during the first night on the way to Haiti - had to turn around and go back to Port Canaveral to evacuate them, so we lost some dock time in Labadee, Haiti, but still got to enjoy the private port. The last emergency required a stop-off at Key West on the last day whist returning to Port Canaveral. A minor inconvenience. All ports were awesome and the weather was great, although super hot (especially in Cozumel). There was always wind on the pool deck, which made the sun a bit more bearable. Beautiful ship, and I learned that in November 2016, the Freedom of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas are switching ports and itineraries, so this cruise and the Eastern Caribbean itineraries will then be taken by the Oasis ship. Freedom will move to Miami and take on some Bahamas itineraries and other random ones, I believe. My favorite part of the cruise without a doubt was the service onboard. I'd seen tons of reviews saying various ships had staff that seemed to be disinterested and didn't seem happy. That was NOT my experience on this cruise at all! We had great staff in all locations - bars, dining rooms, stewards, etc. - who seemed to love doing what they do. It was awesome that they were from all around the world, too. Made it a fun time getting to know them. My three favorites on the ship were our dining room waiter, Valentino (he was AMAZING!), and the R-Bar's two lovely ladies, Heidi (Heidi-Heidi-ho!) and Clorina. They always had so much energy and made the experience really fun. Great drinks, and strong like I like 'em! Overall, the staff just seemed very fun and seemed to want to make sure you were having a good time. Obviously, most are fueled by potential tips, and I tipped well to those who deserved it. Heidi and Clorina got lots of tips from me! I only gambled once, and lost $100 pretty quickly on blackjack. That was day one, and decided not to go back the rest of the trip, though I was tempted hehe. The activities and entertainment onboard were pretty great from my estimation, though I didn't get to participate in all of them. Karen Grainger was awesome. Also, the Olive or Twist club on deck 14 was pretty fun most nights. Lots of people dancing. They even had a silent disco night, which I find quite amusing. The cabin was as expected for an interior cabin. We knew we wouldn't be spending much time in the room other than to shower and sleep, so we felt that an interior was all we needed. My parents and my girlfriend's mom and sister got two separate oceanview staterooms. We loved our excursions, but for those in wheelchairs or who have kids who can't quite walk well enough to keep up (ie. use of a stroller is necessary sometimes), stay away from a few excursions like the Mayan Ruins - Chichen Itza or Tulum (Mexico), or Dunn's River Falls (Jamaica). Read the website descriptions of the excursions so you know the limitations. It wasn't horrible for us, but our almost-three year old didn't like walking all that much and it was pretty rough terrain most of the time for a stroller (sand and jungle types in Mexico and Jamaica, respectively). Otherwise, we loved the excursions. The Dragon's Breath Flight Line in Labadee is a must-do, if you can! Overall, it was a wonderful first cruise experience for me. My other half had been on the same cruise on the same ship back in 2010 before the renovations and liked this one better for sure. We had an amazing time, and now I'm hooked on cruising. I plan on getting us booked on another here before the year is done! Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Overall, this was a beautiful ship and the service was amazing. Our waiters and room steward were friendly and worked tirelessly to give us excellent service. The crew was friendly and hardworking. We traveled with our 3 children ages ... Read More
Overall, this was a beautiful ship and the service was amazing. Our waiters and room steward were friendly and worked tirelessly to give us excellent service. The crew was friendly and hardworking. We traveled with our 3 children ages 12(boy/girl twins) and a 5 year old. If you are traveling with children, the family ocean view suite was a great choice! We were at the very front of the ship with 3 large windows and we had a great view as the bridge was right above us. It was VERY quiet in our cabin with very little traffic around us. You are kind of nestled in a little corner on deck 8. The boys had a room with a door with 2 bunks and our daughter had a very large fold out couch to a bed. Our area had a king size bed and a curtain for privacy. 2 flat screen TVs and a very large space. The kids club for the 5 year old was very nice. I felt comfortable leaving him and he had a blast! Not so much for the 12 year olds. The teen area was ages 12-17. My kids saw the high schoolers as we walked in and immediately wanted to leave. They are going into 7th grade and didn't feel comfortable around much older kids. It did not look supervised and I didn't feel comfortable leavIng them anyway. So much for adult time... Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My wife and I made our first cruise in several years on May 17, 2015, aboard the Freedom of the Seas. We are Emerald-level members and have enjoyed our past sailings. Things were remarkably different this time, however, and not all in a ... Read More
My wife and I made our first cruise in several years on May 17, 2015, aboard the Freedom of the Seas. We are Emerald-level members and have enjoyed our past sailings. Things were remarkably different this time, however, and not all in a good way. RC seems more intent on attracting new cruisers than keeping their past cruisers. Lots of Pixar characters (Shrek, etc.) all over the ship. When I asked one of the executive crew about this, he said they were making memories for their "future cruisers." OK, I get it, and I'm sure most of the kids will sail on RC with their own families... in 20 or 30 years. Meanwhile, we and the other repeat customers had to deal with the same old "love and marriage," "the quest," "the belly flop contest," etc. How many times can you watch the same thing? My wife and I didn't even bother to attend most of these. RC has been doing the same stuff for years. It is getting very OLD. The biggest shock was drink prices, now $12 plus automatic gratuities. There must have been some serious alcohol inflation when I wasn't looking. Gone-- or well hidden-- were the daily specials. There is a big difference between frugal and cheap. RC has gone cheap, trying to wring the last cent out of everything they do. Remember the mints on the beds? Long gone, probably saving RC $2.00/person/cruise. Even the napkins are cheaper and I heard a number of bartenders complaining about them. No more midnight buffet, etc., etc., etc. The biggest rip off is Labadee and Coco Cay, now a staple of most cruises out of Florida. I don't know what RC genius came up with the idea, but it is brilliant. Instead of sharing revenue with, say, business owners in Nassau, RC gets to keep EVERYTHING! RC charges for everything on the island except water and bathrooms, but I expect that to come soon enough. My wife and I will never sail RC again. My advice to you is to find a cruise line more interested in you than your grand children. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
The ship is glorious, but our trip was ruined by awful food and the fact that many of the staff seem very unhappy. There are a few staff members that were helpful, but they were few and far between. The excursions are written in a way that ... Read More
The ship is glorious, but our trip was ruined by awful food and the fact that many of the staff seem very unhappy. There are a few staff members that were helpful, but they were few and far between. The excursions are written in a way that are deceiving (READ ALL THE SMALL PRINT). We scheduled a Jeep tour only to find out at the last minute that strangers would be sharing our jeep and also driving my family around St. Thomas. Then when requesting to cancel, it became a nightmare. Chops dinning not only has a $35 cover charge, but has several up-charges as well. We paid $19 extra for an aged porterhouse that was tasteless and served with some type of slimy sauce on top. They did have good shrimp and for an extra charge of $21 you could get a tasty lobster. I would suggest staying away from all the steaks. I can't remember ever writing a bad review in my life, but this trip was so upsetting and could have been very nice I just hope they make some changes. Such a shame. NEVER AGAIN... Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I knew going into this (won trip from work) that cruising was not my thing. But, oh well it is free and I was bring my sister as I had one for two. Then the nightmare begins. The first night is the main dinning room was the start. NY ... Read More
I knew going into this (won trip from work) that cruising was not my thing. But, oh well it is free and I was bring my sister as I had one for two. Then the nightmare begins. The first night is the main dinning room was the start. NY strip steak was on the menu. We both ordered it. I have never been served a 1/4 inch steak..I was shocked!!! The food for the entire cruise was one step above cafeteria!!! Both UPSCALE restaurants were not that much better. The only difference was the service was better. Seems that all the food comes out of one kitchen for $35.00 per person. The better steaks and lobster has an upcharge. This is the first time I have been on a cruise that on the menu in the main dining room they had items that you could pay for.... What was that all about. Actually the ship is too large. You can get exhausted just walking from your cabin to the dining room. 6 hours on CocaCay (a waste). I could sit on beach near my home. 8 hours in St Thomas and 8 hours in St Marrtin. The rest on the time on board a boring ship with no place to hid!!!! The best part was getting back home!!! Do your homework before you make reservations!! Oh, by the way you even have to pay for water. What an insult!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I had a great time on this cruise. I have been on the Freedom once before this and it never disappoint me. All of the staff is very friendly and the shows are always so good and fun. Of course my favorite shows will have to be the ones ... Read More
I had a great time on this cruise. I have been on the Freedom once before this and it never disappoint me. All of the staff is very friendly and the shows are always so good and fun. Of course my favorite shows will have to be the ones in the Arcadia Main Theatre. The cruise director (Casey) was also very funny and amazing. Food is always great, they may give small portions but you can always order extra meals. Drinks are expensive so if i was you i would buy the drink package. Each port was beautiful as always and was easy to get off the Ship and back on with no problems. This trip visited, Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Marteen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
My 20 year old daughter just returned from a relaxing cruise on Freedom of the Seas. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. We booked this cruise just about two months before the sail date. I traveled from Atlanta, picked up my college-aged ... Read More
My 20 year old daughter just returned from a relaxing cruise on Freedom of the Seas. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves. We booked this cruise just about two months before the sail date. I traveled from Atlanta, picked up my college-aged daughter in Statesboro, GA and the we traveled to Port Canaveral. We stayed at Radisson Resort at the Port. I will review this hotel on Trip Advisor, but suffice it to say, everything was fine. It's a bit busy and the room smelled a bit damp (typical Florida motel smell,) but we were comfortable enough. We used the hotel's Park and Shuttle service and it was extremely efficient. There were plenty of shuttles available and we were loaded upon the shuttle immediately. After a very short drive, we arrived at the Port. Embarkation - As we received a complimentary upgrade to a Junior Suite, we were escorted to the Suite Guests check-in area, where there was no waiting. In fact, we encountered no lines at all during check-in. We were walking on the ship no more than 10 minutes after entering the building! Cabin - We were in Cabin 1706, an aft-facing Junior Suite on the 10th deck. It was lovely - large with many storage areas, including a small walk-in closet. The balcony was huge and included two loungers, two chairs and a dining table. Our only beef with this cabin was that it never received sun or a breeze. We didn't spend a great deal of time on the balcony, other than to eat breakfast there two mornings. Dining - this is an area in which we were very disappointed. The Windjammer Cafe was almost always quite crowded. It was stressful to walk in to the place as we first had to search and search for a place at which to sit. The food was fine - just that. The menu tended to stay the same from day to day. However, we only ate dinner there once. Perhaps there is a greater variety in the evening. MDR - another disappointment. Our service was adequate, I'll say that. Food was bought out quickly (almost too quickly,) but wasn't always hot. We unfortunately had a table close to the waiter station, so were treated to a constant and loud show of rolling trolleys, clattering dish cleaning, etc. It was kind of unappetizing to see plates being scraped ten feet from our table. Also, we noticed that multiple dishes were brought out at the same time and simply left covered on the waiter station until the next course was offered. If we knew that our second course was going to be brought out at the same time as our first, we would have ordered them separately. The food seem to progress from okay to terrible by the last day of the cruise. The last night, we received "French Onion Soup," which was so bad that we could only laugh. The broth contained no pieces of onion that we could discern, the "bread" appeared to be a very small square of toasted sandwich bread. No cheese was visible, but we think that a small piece of cheese may have been placed on the toast. I say "may" because by the time the soup arrived at our table, it had sunk under the broth. I really wish I had taken a photo of this pitiful soup. It was the saddest thing I have ever seen offered in a restaurant. Beverage service was also lacking in the MDR (but excellent at all of the other bars on the ship.) I had the Premium Beverage package which entitles me to unlimited drinks. Unfortunately, it was quite difficult to receive more than one glass of wine during the entire dining time. Drinks were never offered - I had to get my server's attention and order an additional glass. Typically, the second glass of wine arrived just in time for the dessert to arrive. Excursions - we enjoyed all of our excursions and I will post more information on those specific pages. Entertainment - we went to the late night comedy show. Meh. Disembarkation - again, extremely efficient. Our disembarkation time was 7:45 am and we were off the ship by 7:50am. Summary - would we cruise on RCCL again? I suppose. We were happy with everything with the exception of dining. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Freedom of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 4.2
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.3
Family 5.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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