Family Cruise: Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by AnnaBeth

Freedom of the Seas 5
Member Since 2011
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Family Cruise

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
We planned this cruise to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. We decided to take the kids along, as well as friends who were 1st time cruisers. Our party of 8 included DH and me with our 2 dd's age 7 and 10 as well as our friends and their 2 kids, dd7 and ds3. We had noted on our reservation that we were celebrating our anniversary, but there was no acknowledgement of this all week.

We booked the cruise package at the Country Inn and Suites. Arrived on Saturday and signed up for the 1030 shuttle. We arrived very early in the day on Saturday, and although our room was not ready, we were given complete access to the property. On Sunday, our shuttle left a little early and we arrived at the port shortly after 1030.

Check in was easy, we had a short wait outside then moved easily through security. This was the first Freedom cruise after the change in the wine policy; my friend and I had both picked up 2 bottles of wine and they were all taken. The security guard More taking the wine was quite slow in filling out the form, but overall no big deal. (We did get our wine back later in the cruise, checked with Guest relations a couple of times and it finally showed up in the room on day 3.) DH and I have cruised RCI before so we were in the gold line for check in, our friends had not so they took about 20 minutes longer in the regular line. They were allowed to sit with us in the gold member area to wait to board. There was a delay in boarding; we were initially told that it was due to a computer problem with the seapass machines, but when we got to our room there was a notice that they had done a deep clean due to a Noro outbreak on the previous cruise.

Once on board we went to the Windjammer for lunch. WOW was it crowded! We did eventually find tables to fit our party of 8, it just took a while. No other problems with seating later in the week, and there was always someone working in there to help find us a table if needed. Food was good for buffet food, we had lunch here just about every day. The selection did seem to be pretty repetitive but overall it was good. We only dined here once for dinner and it was very similar to lunch.

Rooms were available after 2. We were in 2560 and our friends in 2564. I was worried about being on deck 2, but we ended up loving it. Yes, it took longer to get around, but we were ok with that. Not too much motion; my friends kids have some issues with motion sickness (get car sick often) but had no problems. The room was bright, plenty of light through the porthole. Luggage fit under the bed, and the drawers and closet had lots of storage. The hallway was quiet, never heard any noise from anything around us. We had our stateroom attendant have the fridge emptied so we could use it for wine and water, this was completed by the time we returned from Coco Cay (day 2). The only annoyance was that on day 1 we took the aft elevators down to deck 2 but were told that we needed to go to deck 4 and take the forward elevators because we could not walk all the way around on deck 2. We took them at their word and did this all week. On day 6 we were exploring and discovered that we COULD walk all the way across on deck 2. This would have saved us a bit of time during the week!

Dining: We had early seating at 530 and were overall very pleased. We were in Leonardo on the 3rd floor right next to the staircase. My family prefers eating dinner in the main dining room and did so every night except for our St. Thomas night. Our friends, having a 3 year old, only dined with us for 4 nights; they found the windjammer less stressful with the little one. We were pleased with the food overall; the only big disappointment for me was that I ordered the strip steak on the last night. It was cooked medium as I requested, but it was one of the toughest steaks I had ever had!!! Our waiters (Jonathan from Philippines and Kayvon? from Jamaica) were great, and kept the kids entertained each night. We did the character breakfast on the second sea day; it was just OK. Service was chaotic; there were only 2 characters (Alex and Gloria) and their appearances were very brief and took a while for them to show up.

Kids Clubs: Overall we were very pleased. The kids went just about every night after dinner and a couple of times during the day on sea days. Everyone had a great time in each of the age groups. Our biggest complaint here was that our 10 year old was in the group with the 6-9 year olds all week; I guess there were not enough kids in the Voyager group to keep them separate. She had a great time overall but was disappointed on the night that the younger kids did the pirate parade; the voyager compass stated that they would do activities on the sports court during this time but instead she had to be in the pirate parade as well. The counselors were terrific with the kids. We sailed on the Disney Dream in January 2012; when I asked my girls which they preferred I was surprised that they said they liked Adventure Ocean better. It was MUCH less chaotic than Disney. They said that on Disney there was just too much going on at once; and even when there were scheduled activities on Disney there were so many kids that chose not to participate that were just wandering around and they didn't like that. Adventure ocean had everyone participating in the activities together so there was less commotion. Granted, there were nowhere as many kids here when compared to Disney, so that probably made it easier on the counselors to keep everyone together as a group.

Entertainment: We saw the ice show (loved it!) and Once Upon a Time (also really enjoyed this). My friend and I watched Graham Seymour's comedy show for adults and enjoyed that as well.

Activities: DD10 tried the flowrider and had a blast. My friends dd7 enjoyed the rock wall. All enjoyed mini golf, it was crowded (but we did do this on a sea day so that was expected). There always seemed to be plenty of activities to choose from; lots of trivia and other contests throughout the day and night. The girls did the kids cupcake class on the last sea day. The cupcake was pretty basic (a monkey) but they all enjoyed it. We also went ice skating one day and everyone in the group had a good time. The ice was pretty rough with so many people on it, but we only had a couple of minor falls in the group.

We were very pleased with RCI and would definitely cruise with them again. We had superb service throughout the week. We had never done an Eastern itinerary and really loved St. Maarten and St. Thomas. CocoCay was "ok" for a basic beach day; but we have been to Disney's Castaway Cay and fell in love with it, so I don't think much else can compare to it! Less

Published 11/18/12

Cabin review: H2560 Oceanview Stateroom

Quiet hallway, great stateroom attendant (Victor P). Manageable size for family of 4 with 2 small kids. Ample storage in drawers and closet; suitcases fit under the bed. Biggest annoyance was the glass coffee table, there really isn't room for it, we pushed it up under the desk area to get it out of the way. Deck 2 forward; at the start of the week we initially went down the aft elevator and an RCI employee said that the conference room blocked the hallway so that we had to go up to deck 4 and walk forward to get to our room. We did this most of the week; on day 6 we actually walked around the floor and discovered that you did NOT have to do this, you could walk all the way around on deck 2!!! Overall a very nice room and I would book on this deck again!

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Port and Shore Excursions

Coco Cay was a nice beach day, excellent weather. Tendering was easy with no wait going either way. We did not do any excursions. We were pleased to find that the Little Tykes Powerwheels track was free for the 3 year old, he really enjoyed riding around on the little motorized 4 wheeler. Only requirement for this was that they had to be supervised by an adult and had to wear shoes (flip flops were fine). I THINK the age limit for this was 5 years old. The BBQ lunch was good although the lines were long. We walked through the straw market, it was the typical tourist stuff, then we headed back to the ship. While we had a good time and CocoCay was pretty, it felt like the beach areas were small and crowded; I don't know if this was due to Sandy or if it was the norm. Also, we have sailed on Disney and fell in love with Castaway Cay, so I don't know that much could beat our experience there!
Read 863 CocoCay Reviews

St. Maarten - we had booked a tour with Bernard's Tours. This was our favorite day by far! Our guide was Mailman and he was a lot of fun. We were in a van with our party of 8 and another family of 4, total of 6 kids and 6 adults. They provided beer, water, rum punch and soda throughout the day. (Beware the rum punch - WOW it was STRONG!!!) We fed the iguanas; held sea urchins; had great photo opps and a short shopping trip; then spent a couple of hours at Orient Beach. He took us further down the beach so we avoided the clothing optional side (although we did see some nudists as we turned onto the property - or as Mailman called them, the OMG's!). There were a couple of topless older women a few chairs down from us, but no big deal, I think the kids were too busy playing in the sand and water to even notice them! We paid $10 for 2 chairs, 2 drinks and an umbrella. There were lots of vendors that walked up and down the beach selling stuff, that was the only slightly annoying part of the day. After Orient, we went to Maho beach to see the planes landing. We were able to see 2 land and 2 take off. This is something I'll never forget, it was so cool!!! After the tour; Mailman dropped us off on Front Street, we did some shopping and walked back to the ship.

St. Thomas - no ship excursion. We took a taxi downtown for shopping. As we got out of the cab we were approached by a tour operator who offered a short island tour/beach day. For $20 pp he would pick us up, do a brief tour with 2 stops for photos and then take us to Sapphire beach for approx. 1.5 hours. His name was Frederick; we met up with him outside of Little Switzerland. We did not have to pay in advance, the deal was we paid when he dropped us off at the ship. This turned out great for our group; Sapphire beach was where we were planning on going anyways; and the cab fare from downtown would have been $9 pp each way, so it worked out really well. There were a few other groups that did the tour with us as well, probably about an additional 8-10 people. If you've never ridden in a Safari cab on St. Thomas, it was quite the experience! Very steep hills, sharp turns, combined with driving on the opposite side of the road - something I'll never forget that's for sure!
Read 4003 St. Thomas Reviews

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