First Time Cruise - Had a blast!: Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by liljoe78

Freedom of the Seas 5
Member Since 2013
9 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

First Time Cruise - Had a blast!

Sail Date: February 2013
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
This was my first cruise, and I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. I booked the cruise for my sister and I to celebrate our birthdays. While my sister has cruised with Carnival a couple of times, I was a complete no0b to cruising.

All I can say is WOW... I can honestly say this was one of the best vacations I have taken. Everything from the ship in general, the room, the staff and our ports far exceeded my expectations.

We arrived at Port Canaveral at around 12:00p, with a sail time of 4:30p. We managed our way through security and checking in and was on board by a little before 1:00p. By 1:30p, our state room was ready and open. We checked it out and started to unpack our carry-ons. Luggage was delivered by 4:00p or so, just in time for the Muster Drill.

The weather at Port Canaveral was crazy cold and windy when we set sail. We went up to Decks 11 and 12 for the set sail party, but it was just too cold. This would plague our 1st day at sea as More well. However, there was so much to do that it wasn't a huge problem.

The ship was immaculate and clean. You can tell that Royal Caribbean takes care of their fleet. In fact we had staff tell us that Royal updates their ships every 5 years. Not sure if this is the norm for other cruise lines but after the fiasco Carnival had a couple weeks ago, I would say not.

We were in stateroom 6328 which was a balcony room. We were close to the stairs and elevators which was convenient. The room was plenty spacious, the bathroom had ample room, and the balcony was a lot larger than I anticipated. I loved having the balcony, and being able to sit and watch the ship glide over the ocean.

Being on deck 6, we were one flight of stairs above our dining room (the dining room is on decks 3-5, and you're assigned a specific floor). Having to take the elevators up to decks 11 and 12 definitely took time. I wasn't able to find a bank of elevators that were never busy. I've seen complaints about the speed of the elevators. However, when you're moving over 4k people around, sometimes you'll just have to wait.

We ate in the Windjammer for lunch every day. This was definitely a busy place. However, there were lots of options, and the food was great. I was disappointed with the desserts though. None of them had any taste in my opinion. However that's just me. I did purchase the soda package, however that was a complete waste. I don't feel like I got my monies worth. They only had 6 Coca-Cola Free-style machines on board. This was pretty annoying. That, plus having to remember and carry around the tumbler they provided for the drink package was just a little too much. I could have survived on the water and lemonade options in the Windjammer and Dining Room. We did get a drink of the day every day ($6.75 and you get to keep the glass). Most were good, some were a little vodka heavy, but that's all good. I wasn't aware of an alcohol package (not beer or wine) until on board, but I'm still not sure if we would have gotten our money worth (much like the soda package). The good thing, I now have a set of Royal Caribbean hurricane glasses from the drink of the day - lol

The food in the dining room always impressed me (again, sans desserts). Our waiters were great (Bulent & Borche)! I had chosen the My Time dining thinking that I could choose the time I wanted to dine and would be seated at the same table or be served by the same staff every time. However, that's not the case. It's definitely more like a restaurant where you just make reservations and you will be seated where ever a table is available. Fortunately, we were able to make sure we had the same wait staff every night.

Apparently, the dress of people on the ship seems to be a sore subject. Quite honestly, I do not understand the dress requirements for the dining room. I especially do not understand the formal nights. I understand that some folks like to dress up, and that's fine. To each their own. I'm definitely not knocking it. For dinner, I wore khaki's and a polo, even on formal night. I feel like I'm on vacation and the last thing I want to do is get dressed up. We only ate in the main dining room for the 1st formal night. I didn't feel like dressing up for the 2nd one, so we went to the Windjammer. For the other nights, I felt that I was appropriately dressed (some folks were wearing jeans into the Main Dining Room).

The only true con I would say was not anything Royal Caribbean had any control over. It was the actual cruisers. I felt that people, in general, were rude. It may have been cultural due to the various places people were from. The friendliest group of cruisers I found were the folks that are members of Cruise Critic. Other than that, people would rush elevators when you were trying to get off, and then look at you like you were the crazy one. People would break in lines. People would complain for the sake of complaining. I even over heard folks complaining and discussing the food options I had made during lunch one day. This was really surprising to me, but I didn't let it interfere with my good time. As they say, hater's gonna hate.

As another reviewer wrote, on a scale of 1-10, I give this cruise a 14. I cannot say enough good things about the ship or staff. I can't wait to cruise again, and am already looking at booking my next trip. I definitely understand the cruising bug, and I have caught it. Less

Published 03/05/13
1 Helpful Vote

Cabin review: E16328 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony

Close to stairs & elevator which makes it easy to leave the ship and get to dinner. Balcony is plenty big with two chairs and small table. Great views when at port.

Read All Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony (E1) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Jeep Tour

Cozumel was my favorite port. Our excursion was a Jeep & Snorkel tour booked through the cruise line. Nathan was our guide, and I thought he was outstanding. He didn't put up with a bunch of craziness from some of the passengers on the tour with us, which I thought was funny. The company that did the excursion definitely had everything timed out very well. It was fun driving the jeeps around the island, stopping to see a couple of different beaches and areas. I did not participate in the snorkel portion. The area where they were snorkeling was actually close to the port so there were a lot of other boats and people around. I felt that there wouldn't be a lot to see due to the amount of activity. My sister who did do the snorkel confirmed my thought. The port area was large. I felt very safe within the port, and there were a lot of shopping options. I didn't feel hounded by people trying to get me to buy stuff which was nice.

During the 1st day at sea, they had a shopping information session on the ship. All they were pushing is you must buy buy buy. And it had to be diamonds or jewelry... that was the only thing you wanted to buy... and you had to buy it in Jamaica. I found that quite odd, since they had jewelry on board in their duty free shops. Once we got to the port, it started to make a little more sense. I'm thinking that Royal built the port at Falmouth, and so they have worked with the merchants that are set up in the port. This was somewhat of a turn-off to me. But it was easy to ignore. I thought the port was very well taken care of and was very nice. It was very secure as well. It was fenced in, and security was checking all busses coming into and out of the area. The gates stayed closed and were opened for each bus. I actually booked an excursion through (a 3rd party away from Royal). This granted us access to an all-inclusive resort for the day. I thought this was a great value. We went to Jewel at Runaway bay. It was a very nice resort. The food was fantastic (loved the honey mustard chicken). I didn't drink (shame on me) so I didn't take advantage of the all-i-can-drink booze. Only having to deal with the resort's guest for beach space was nice (as opposed to dealing with an entire cruise ship). We were back at port in plenty of time before the ship left so that we wouldn't be left. I thought this was a great excursion and if I had to do it again, I would book it.
Read 1033 Falmouth Reviews

Stingray Swim

For Grand Cayman, we had to be tendered to shore. I definitely wasn't a big fan of this. I did the Stingray City excursion which was a lot of fun. The only downside is that there are so many groups that do this excursion (from other ships and 3rd parties), that it's kind of a free-for-all on the sandbar. Definitely a lot of people, but it was still nice and fun. It was a trip seeing these huge stingrays swimming and actually bumping into you. Outside of that, we didn't do much in the port. When we were done with the excursion, we popped into a shop to buy a magnet and get back to the ship.

As this was our first port on the cruise, I wasn't sure what to expect. I knew that Labadee was Royal's private area of Haiti. I decided not to book any excursions as I wanted just a beach day. Let me tell you, Labadee is the perfect beach day. The ship provided a buffet style lunch in 3 different pavilions. While it was hamburgers and hot dogs, along with other items, it was still very good. It was nice to sit outside, eat, and enjoy some of the sounds of Haiti being performed. I did get suckered into buying a CD, but I didn't mind. There was a souvenir shop that was a no hassle experience. You can browse around, and buy all sorts of neat knick-knacks made in Haiti. I definitely did not mind this, and bought a couple of items. The biggest con which is why I did not rate this port a 5, is the "artisan market." Seeing this is Royal's private area, I'm expecting everyone working in it is being payed and taken care of. I expected the artisan market to be a collection of stalls selling local wares, but did not anticipate being harassed. I didn't get 3 feet into the market before I was being harassed to buy something and felt trapped by the people. They wouldn't let me walk and just look. This turned me off immediately and I turned around and walked back to the ship. All-in-all, a great port and I enjoyed it.
Read 1316 Labadee Reviews

Compare Prices on Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruises

Read more Freedom of the Seas cruise reviews >>
Read Cruise Critic’s Freedom of the Seas Review >>

Compare Prices on Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean Cruises

Member Since 2013
9 Forum Posts
Enrichment Activities
Family & Children
Fitness & Recreation
Onboard Experience
Public Rooms
Shore Excursions
Value for Money
Skip X

See Freedom of the Seas deals up to 82% off:

October Deals
Freedom of the Seas 80% Loved It

14 Night Transatlantic Cruise
See all Freedom of the Seas Deals >>