7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
First of all it was my first cruise, so I cannot compare it to other cruises. We were on the ship just the two of us - me and my wife and it was our honeymoon. The embarkation went smoothly and despite there were a lot of people, we ... Read More
First of all it was my first cruise, so I cannot compare it to other cruises. We were on the ship just the two of us - me and my wife and it was our honeymoon. The embarkation went smoothly and despite there were a lot of people, we didn't wait for too long. Don't bother to bring an iron, we did and so did other guys but it's forbidden due to fire hazard. So they'll see it on the X-ray and they will ask you to give ti to them, they'll give it back to you at the end of the cruise. If you were on a cruise before you can skip to the next paragraph. After we got on the ship they gave us a SeaPASS and that's the only thing you really need on the ship: no money, credit card or ID is no longer required. The SeePass is a card witch is the key to your room, you use it also to leave and go back to the ship and it's connected to your account and your credit card (if you want that of course). I guess it's a standard thing on all cruises, but it makes your life much easier. Anyway, I think I'm getting too much into details but my point is that everything is well organized and done well so don't have to think about anything else but having a good time. The ship is very nice, there are a lot of entertainments: climbing wall, ice skating, surf simulator, mini golf and so on. Our cabin was good too, for me the design was a little bit old fashion, I would prefer more modern look, but that just me. The bed was very comfortable and the best thing was the balcony - I think it was worthy the extra cost. The staff was very friendly and polite and willing to help you with anything and the overall service was among the best I've seen. The food in the main dining room at dinner was excellent - everything was delicious and there was great variety to choose from and i went for a different meal every night. The breakfast could be more diverse and the launch was good too. The entertainment program at the theater was very nice too - there was different events every night including shows made by the Royal Caribbean themselves as well as "guest stars" (a magician from Spain - some very nice tricks, acrobats from Ukraine - one of the best performances on the ship, and a comedy guy from Britain - he was really funny). The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were very good (especially the singers, very high level of skills i think) although that Broadway kind of shows are not really my think. The ice show in the Studio B (the ice theater) was just awesome, definitely need to see it. They were skating and dancing and making acrobatic tricks at the same time, 5 boys and 5 girls and it was just brilliant. Enough with the ship already, lets let me tell you something about the ports and shore excursions. First of all we took 3 all day long excursions and went on shore at all possible ports so at the end we were exhausted. Our daily schedule was basically: get up at 6 in the morning, go to breakfast, then take an excursion /excursions that last all day start at around 7-7.30 a.m.) then go back to the ship at 6 p.m., take a shower, go to dinner, go to the theater and then at 10 p.m. go to bed. So I i said maybe not the best thing to do because we were exhausted (we walked about 10 to 16 000 steps daily), although we saw a lot of things and we don't regret it. But my advice is to take it more slowly. I think the price for the excursions is higher than it should be, but at least you can be sure that you don't miss the ship. About the ports: Barcelona - a very beautiful city with a lot places to visit, we staid there for 2 days after the cruise, if you have the time to explore it just go for it, it's definitely worthy. We were there on your own, no excursions, the subway system is very well done and you can go pretty much anywhere. Marseilles - we didn't took excursion here, there was a shuttle bus witch leaves you near the Cathedral but you have to pay for it 23 usd per person for a round trip (too much i think). The city itself is ok but nothing too interesting to see here. I mean it's not a bad place but if you compare it to the other ports i think you can spend an hour or two tops or even skip it entirely (remember don't do the same mistake we did, take it slowly). Villefranche - the port located on the Côte d'Azur region on the French Riviera a.k.a millionaires, glamour and luxe all around . We took the Monaco(including Monte Carlo)-Eze-Nice all day excursion. First stop Monte Carlo, you go by foot to the famous casino and you have about 45 min free time. Then you go to Eze, a very small authentic mountain french village. The place is nice and charming, narrow streets, stone homes and beautiful landscape views, but nothing too crazy. Then you go to Nice and it looks like very similar to Monaco - everything looks good and expensive and most probably is. La Specia - we took the all day Pisa and Florence excursion (exploration on your own with a smart device). First you go to Pisa (about 1,5h driving time) - you have about 45 min to take pictures with the leaning tower. You've seen it many times on pictures but to see it with your own eyes is really something. There is no time to go to top of the tower, but i don't know if i want to do it anyway. Next you go to Florence (about 1 hour driving time) and maybe you can skip this part - don't get me wrong it's a nice old town with several things to see, much nicer than Marseilles for example, but again if you wan't to have some time on the ship or just to relax it's not a 100% must see (unlike the leaning tower). About the "exploration on your own with a smart device" - they give you a Samsung phone with gps map, internet and short audio guide. Unfortunately the battery of my phone died just as we entered Florence. You still have tourist guide in the bus that explains you a lot of things, but when you stop you are on your own (some folks from the other bus told me that their guide was walking with them and told them many things about the place even if she didn't have to). It took us more then 2 hours to drive back to the ship. Civitavecchia - I've been to Rome before and we decided that we'll go on our own, something that I don't recommend - it turned out to be a little nightmare. First mistake we made was that we didn't go too early because we wanted to get some sleep. We left the ship at about 9.30 - there was a shuttle bus that takes you just outside the port (this time for free). From there we got on another small bus for 2 euro each that took us to the railway station. The left us near to a door with "tickets to Rome" sign on it. Turns out later that it is a separate private ticket office that sell you the ticket to Rome for 6 euro each (the regular price is 5) and is trying to sell you another ticket for the Hop on Hop off buses in the city(we didn't get those, i told the subway will be faster way to go around and probably is. Anyway as they were tying to sell us the HOHO tickets we missed our train to Rome (by just 2 min damn it) and we had to wait for 45 more minutes for the next one. Remember that you have to "validate" your tickets before you get to the train (there is a machine that you put your tickets inside). It took us about 45min to get to Rome - San Pietro station and went straight to Vatican city (it was about 11.30 a.m.). We skipped the whole to get to the Basilica (a know, not a good thing to do but we really didn't have any time). I'm not a religions man but the Basilica (the entrance to St. Peter is free btw) is worth seeing its enormous and beautiful. Then we waited on a separate line to get to the top (the Cupola). We paid 8 euros each for the lift (the other choice is the stairs for 6 euro, but believe me you don't need that - there are plenty of stair left to go to the top after you get off the elevator). Finally, after many stairs and tiny claustrophobic corridors we were there and a was very very upset. I was in Rome 9 years ago and I went to the top of St. Peter and I remember the beautiful panoramic view and the perfect place to take photos, but not anymore - now there are metal bars all over the place, it's like a huge birdcage and you are inside, so the view is ruined and the selfies are not possible any more. Huge disappointment. There is no point to go to the top of the Basilica anymore. Next we went to the Coliseum. Thankfully I got the tickets online in advance, so we got in very quickly. One of the symbols of Rome you definitely need to see this. We didn't go to the Roman Forum next to it because one we didn't have the time and two it is pointless without a guide to tell you all about the thing you see there. (The same goes for the Vatican museum). After that we went to Trevi Fontain and that was our last stop. It was 4 p.m. and we decided to go back (and thank God because otherwise we would have missed the ship), although the Pantheon and Piazza Navona are very close to Di Trevi, but the clock was ticking and we were very tired - we didn't stop even for a second, we were running for the trains and we ate like 1 sandwich for 5 min without even sitting. The same train that took us to Rome in just 45 min, took us back to Civitavecchia in 1h 20 min! From the train station we were running to get a taxi - minivan took us straight to the ship (there were other people from our ship too) for 5 euro each and we were there at 6,25 p.m. (the "all on board" time was 6.30). And make no mistake - if you are late the ship will leave, it will not wait for you (it will if you are on a shore excursion).So it was very very extreme day and a I won't advice you to do the same. Naples - First of all the port should be Capri, but I don't know why we were in Naples. Anyway we took the "Pompei and Amafi coast by land and see". I think it was the best day of the trip - both places are a must see. First we went to Pompei (i think it took us about an hour to get there) and we spend nearly 2 hours walking there with the guide. The place is amazing and because of the volcano it is very well preserved for a 2000 years old city. And it is a whole city, not just one building and not just a bunch of rocks on the ground - most of the walls are 2 meters high, so you can really get the idea how people lived back there, how big were the streets, the shops, the houses. I highly recommend going there and a tour guide is mandatory. Next we went to Amalfi - if you haven't heard it just google it, it's really really beautiful. There is this panoramic sea view narrow road and there is a cliff on the one side and parked cars on the other and these crazy Italian bus drivers just squeeze trough - I don't know how they do it. When there are two buses on the road they mirrors are literally just 2 cm away one from another. It took us about 40 min for 16 km. When we got to Amalfi we got like hour of free time, then took a trip by boat and then back to the bus and the ship. That's about it guys, I'm very pleased with the overall cruise experience, maybe some (or even most) of the things are overpriced, but in the end of the day we had really great time. I hope I helped you with this review, maybe i got too much into details and my English is far from perfect, but i did my best. Ciao! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Just back from our first cruise. What a delightful trip. The crew were all smiles and good mornings... Our stateroom attendant was a joy to see , he always called us by our first names, how the heck he remembered I shall never know. The ... Read More
Just back from our first cruise. What a delightful trip. The crew were all smiles and good mornings... Our stateroom attendant was a joy to see , he always called us by our first names, how the heck he remembered I shall never know. The weather was a dream as was the whole cruise time. Shore excursions could be a little to long (10 hours) which was far too long for me. The skills at getting everyone disembarked onto the tender boats all within a short time slot was amazing. No one appeared to moan or complain about anything which was refreshing to say the least...Food.. well what can I say. All presented perfectly and so many choices.. We paid for the drinks package and had as much as we wanted . The stateroom with balcony was fab. To lie in bed with curtains open and watch the spray from the waves in the moonlight was mesmerizing. Plenty of room and storage with a fridge to keep the Prosecco chilled .. What a dream holiday and am planning the next. We woke everyday in a different port and views to die for.... am still on cloud 9... Loved every minute Thankyou Freedom of the Seas you certainly spoilt us ....... Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I'd like to recognize certain staff members on Freedom by name.  INygomi, our stateroom attendant was friendly and very accommodating to my mother's needs for like, 14 pillows (I swear he worked 24/7 he was ALWAYS there!). The ... Read More
I'd like to recognize certain staff members on Freedom by name.  INygomi, our stateroom attendant was friendly and very accommodating to my mother's needs for like, 14 pillows (I swear he worked 24/7 he was ALWAYS there!). The servers in Issac's dining room Alan, and Archana, who were so friendly and attentive and happy, not to mention hard workers. I'd also like to make sure to recognize the wonderful and perfect service we got at Chops from servers Michelene and Luz these two ladies were professional, and genuine. You just can't starve on this ship, they feed you until you explode, and then ask why you're not eating more. I'd also love to mention your entertainment staff member "Marky Mark" for his energy that was endless, his true aura of happiness and excitement, and his excellent beat box skillzz.  The bartenders at Olive or Twist were amazing and knew my order before I even sat down (Guinness girl here.) The deluxe beverage package was def required for me. We took a shore excursion to the Tulum ruins and 5th avenue with GABRIEL in Cozumel (through Royal Caribbean.)  I need to make sure I talk about how wonderful and passionate this man is for his job.  He was so genuinely interested in the ruins, and made sure everything went smoothly.  He was literally running at certain points to make sure everything ran on time and we were not inconvenienced in any way.  This man is a gem! I can't say enough positive things about him! We felt so lucky to have met him. In Costa Maya we went on a private beach day to Maya Chan.... GO THERE! YOU WON'T REGRET IT! Most beautiful experience ever. The few bad things were: 1. Out dated décor... it was like 1991 threw up all over the state rooms. It was clean, but very old... the hunter green is just horrid. We were in a junior suite. 2. We were on time for our turtle excursion in Georgetown. (booked through royal Caribbean). We were tendered there... they took so long getting us on the tender to the island that by the time we got off the boat and walked DIRECTLY to the designated meeting tent, we were told our excursion had already left. We were refunded, but that left the whole day for us with nothing fun to do on the island. We just took the tender back to the ship instead. 3. Windjammer was so crowded at times with no other options, It was as if I needed some anxiety medication just to walk in there. 4. The machines to re-fill your soda cup were just so far away from your stateroom (literally no matter what state room you are in). I know they do this on purpose but it's annoying and I mean the machine doesn't dispense anything unless you have the special cup, so I feel like with knowing there won't be any waste, why would they do this? 5. Why do the bars close at like 2:30 am? We are on a cruise ship! They should be open all night long.... we aren't on land, we pay a lot for this vacation... if I want to drink and dance at 4 am then I feel like I should be able to at one bar that is NOT the casino. 6. The push to buy products in the spa was pretty harsh. I don't need 150$ in massage oil thanks. The push to buy literally everything as an extra was intense. But you learn to ignore it after 2 days. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We chose this cruise because we had holiday'd in California and then across to Orlando, Florida for our action packed theme park holiday and our travel agent suggested this cruise to end our adventures. Since we had travelled so far ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had holiday'd in California and then across to Orlando, Florida for our action packed theme park holiday and our travel agent suggested this cruise to end our adventures. Since we had travelled so far to get there (from Australia) and we might never have the chance to see the Caribbean again I jumped at the opportunity. Boy am I glad I did. This cruise was the highlight of our amazing trip. We caught the Royal Shuttle from the airport to Port Canaveral and whilst it was very pricey it was great service smooth sailing. The check in process at the port was quick and easy. By time we boarded our room was ready and our luggage was delivered to us with a few hours. The ship departed port a few hours later than usual as a few days prior Hurricane Matthew had gone through Florida and they were allowing time for a few rescheduled flights to make it for boarding. We were all made aware of this change a day or two prior and it was no problem. Everything was open, including the pools, bars and entertainment. The atmosphere was exciting! This was our first cruising experience and Freedom of the Seas was perfect. It was a large ship yet there is always so much happening you never feel like it is too crowded or you can't do something. I was worried about the shows but there are 2 shows a night and we never had an issue getting in. We loved our panoramic window view room- 1208. A great compromise for wanting a view but being a little scared of the balcony with kids. Our room attendant Amelia was incredible. So friendly, nothing was ever an issue and she was so good with our kids. The kids loved coming in every night to a different towel animal. Coming back to a clean room just made my holiday as being a mum its not often somebody else does the cleaning for you. The dining options were amazing. So much food and the variety was endless. We only ate 2 nights in the dining room ( our first night and formal night). The staff were lovely but we are very much buffet eaters in the fact we like to fill our plate with a variety of different foods lol. We really enjoyed Windjammer. The kids club was another highlight! We have two children, aged 5 & 8. They usually hate kids club and they were in different age groups so I was worried about that. The staff at the kids club told me we could put them together but they had to at least try their own age groups first. They did… and they loved it. To the point they would winge if we were taking them out of the kids club to go on a shore excursion. Entertainment was so great. A highlight for us was Alfred and Seymore. So funny! the best act by far. A review of our Port experiences- Labadee, Haiti- A lovely island to chill and relax on. The zipline was well worth the money. Incredible once in a lifetime experience. We booked the first zipline of the day . The kids stayed on the ship kids club whilst they took our group off the boat first and escorted us to the zipline meeting location. Once the activity was over we went back to the ship got the kids and spent the rest of the day on the beach. We paid for the inflatable water playground for the kids on the beach. Our 8 year old loved it but even some of them were a bit hard for him to climb. It wasn't suitable for our 5 year old and they quickly refunded our money with no trouble at all. Lunch was included and bought out on the beach. Our drinks packages worked on the island too so that was great. If I could find one negative about Haiti it would be that most of the locals didn't seem all that happy about us being there. They weren't overly friendly but perhaps thats just their manner. We didn't venture into the markets as we weren't there to shop and they were extremely pushy just from the outside. Falmouth, Jamaica- We booked the Dunns River Falls excursion through the ship and again it was amazing! Such an experience. We felt very safe and our tour guide was great and super informative. We also went to the grotto caves. It was ok but probably wouldn't worry about it again. Grand Cayman- This looked like a beautiful location, i think we perhaps just booked the wrong shore excursion. We chickened out of the stingrays that people rave about. We chose a dolphin and turtle experience through the ship. It was no where near the ocean. They were late picking us up which gave us literally 15 mins to experience the turtle farm. They were rude and quick to hurry us up and then leave us standing around waiting for 30 mins at a time. They couldn't find us a tour guide so too bad for us. Then we went across the road to the dolphins. Same people ran this. The dolphins were lovely but were in a very small enclosure. We had a nice time with the dolphin and had some photos taken but be prepared with your wallet for those photo's $40 per print! And super disorganised. Everyone buying photos almost missed their busses as it took close to an hr to print a photo. I wouldn't advise this excursion in Grand Cayman. Do the stingrays! We don't complain much although we decided too when we got back on board. Royal Caribbean were extremely apologetic, had received other complaints abut that excursion and refunded a portion of it back, no questions asked. Cozumel, Mexico- My favourite! I loved this port! We went on the Atlantis submarine that was a pretty cool experience, just one quick tip- sit on the right hand side as there is not too much to see on the left. The rest of the day we just did some shopping in port and layed at peppe's peir ( i think it was called). Cheap drinks, delicious nachos and you could swim in the beautiful ocean right there in the port! We were going to go to Paradise Beach but as our excursion left from the port at lunch time we decided to stay in the port and so happy we did. We had the best time ever on this cruise. Everything was so well organised. Everything just flowed. We loved it so much we booked another to the South Pacific before we got off. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This was the first cruise for our family of four including two teenagers and we had a wonderful time! Embarkation was easy. After a crowded lunch in the Windjammer buffet, our cabins were ready at 1:15. They were roomier than expected ... Read More
This was the first cruise for our family of four including two teenagers and we had a wonderful time! Embarkation was easy. After a crowded lunch in the Windjammer buffet, our cabins were ready at 1:15. They were roomier than expected (ocean view with balcony) and very clean. The ship was large and offered lots of activities that appealed to our teenagers and to us. We played about 4 different types of trivia, went to meditation class, and almost all of the shows. The shows exceeded our expectations - the Broadway-style shows were excellent, a magician's show was flashy and fun and the ice skating show was amazing. We also found a number of quiet spots on the ship to relax - the Olive and Twist bar during the day was quiet with great views, walking on deck 4 was quiet and shady. My husband enjoyed the Bull and Bear pub for beer selection and the kids loved getting all the pizza and ice cream they wanted. We did not try any specialty dining as we liked the quality and choice offered by the included dining. The staff was universally very friendly and helpful and the ship is constantly being cleaned. Our shore excursion snorkeling in Costa Maya was great, but the water was rougher than we anticipated. We all loved zip lining in Roatan and highly recommend it. We skipped formal excursions otherwise, but we had a great day on the beach at the Westin in Grand Cayman and at Mr. Sancho's in Cozumel. Those beach days were a highlight for us. As for negatives - we did not like the constant push to buy stuff like watches, special meals etc. Tendering on and off Grand Cayman was time consuming and frustrating. On cruising days, there are never enough chairs by the pool. We chose "My Time" dining and would not do that again. We thought we could flexibly make reservations each day but the reservation times quickly filled up and we were stuck with an undesirable table at the entrance of the dining room at 5:45 each day. I would pick a fixed dining time in the main room and stick with it. However, eating breakfast and lunch in the main dining room was a treat and we would do more of it next time. Overall, as first time cruisers, the trip vastly exceeded expectations and we would recommend this ship, the staff and the itinerary! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Hi I traveled with my teenager daughter , we wanted to experience some of the Caribbean, our cabin was on deck 10 , perfect for us , just below the pool , and a few floors away from the main restaurants , it wasn't noisy , food was ... Read More
Hi I traveled with my teenager daughter , we wanted to experience some of the Caribbean, our cabin was on deck 10 , perfect for us , just below the pool , and a few floors away from the main restaurants , it wasn't noisy , food was great and service excellent in the restaurant that we ate in ! Galileo , I didn't really like windjammer as it had plastic plates and always felt a bit catiotic ! , the entertainment at night was good , we enjoyed the ice show and the mixture of musicals , we went on shore everytime we docked , my daughter did the zip line in Haiti and loved it , although we missed the lunch here to busy enjoying ourselves and had to head back to the ship early as we missed lunch and then no access to food , just drink , ! Jamaica we booked are own trip on the port it was half the price , but we then realised that everyone else was on local time except clients from our ship ! Which caused confusion with ship time and local time , a stressor! Grand Cayman , again ship time v local time plus tug to get to ship ! This was a major major stressor ! Not enough time , planner said 1600 which was really 15.00, but to be on the dock in a que like cattle at 14.15 ! Not much time and lots of people were very anxious over fear of missing tug boat ! Did not have a nice holiday feel ! Anxiety levels were through the roof ! Mexico booked cruise trip as fed up with anxiety levels ! And fear of missing ship ! Fear of mixing up times ! And time zones ! Needing a watch all the time ! Trip was good snorkelling and then sitting on a beach with crap expensive food , but fun wibbet stuff , snorkelling was ok we saw a few fish , ! Back on ship , my daughter took a sip of a cocktail and then the on the pool deck then the jobs wort boys arrived and acted worse than the police ! Stopped drink package ! We forgot we were ment to be on a nice holiday ! Such treatment was in poor taste ! A warning would have been acceptable American guests said it was because we were European so easy pray for security team ! Meanwhile American kids very much under the influence late at night on the main entertainment area ! And no jobs worth boys about ! To stop them , this treatment left me feeling sad ! I know she did wrong but it was a sip ! Not going out getting drunk , a normal small taste like you would to try something ! This also happened to another family from Ireland but they were wise enough to say he didn't swallow the drink ! ( another European family ! ) Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
This was our first cruise so this review is geared more toward people like myself who spent a lot of time researching cruises to try to figure out what to expect. We were a multi-generational party of 5 - me and my husband (in our ... Read More
This was our first cruise so this review is geared more toward people like myself who spent a lot of time researching cruises to try to figure out what to expect. We were a multi-generational party of 5 - me and my husband (in our 40's) , 2 boys (ages 10 & 12) and my father-in-law (age 85). We chose RCI as it seemed most suitable for both our younger family and my older father-in-law. We had two staterooms side by side, with balconies. We flew in a day early and spent a night in Port Canaveral. We used the Hertz shuttle to get to the cruise port. From there, everything was a breeze. We arrived just after 11:00 AM. Check in was easy and there was no wait to walk right on. We were on board in under 30 mins from arrival. It was very easy. My husband and I both had the Premium drink package and we felt we got our money's worth. The bar service was excellent and there were no issues using the packages. Everything we wanted was included, and we like a variety of beer, wine and spirits, including premium brands like Crown Royal and Patron. It was a good value for us and I liked the convenience of not having to mentally keep track of our bar tab. The only place I seemed to have trouble getting a drink was in the main dining room. We usually managed to get one glass of wine, never a cocktail and never a second glass. We would order it, but our jn server just couldn't seem to get it together to deliver it. Apart from that, our dining experiences were all enjoyable. We mainly ate in the MDR for evening meals, with the early seating. Our boys enjoyed the atmosphere and I was glad that they didn't have to use a "kid's menu". They ordered from the regular menu and were able to be a bit adventurous and try a few new things. The dining room staff were excellent for food service. Our sn waiter was very personable and friendly, even though he was extremely busy. We liked him a lot. The Windjammer was also great - better quality than other all inclusive resort buffets we have experienced (Beaches and Club Med). There is also plenty to drink at the buffet, including water, juice, ice tea and tea and coffee that is all included. The kids were frequent visitors to Sorentos for pizza and we just couldn't seem to walk past Sprinkles without ending up with an ice cream. My husband and I dined at Sabor one evening and it was outstanding. Best meal of the week. I highly recommend. It is worth the extra charge and the drink package covers most of the drinks offered. We were also able to purchase the handy tool for avocado prep that the table side guacamole chef used (under $20 - great kitchen tool). The evening entertainment exceeded our expectations. The cruise director, Casey Pelter, was not what we expected but was incredible entertaining. He's a gem! We loved his recorded morning show on the TV and also enjoyed being able to see the cruise highlights on TV as well. The comedians, illusionist, ice skating show, orchestra and singers and dancers were all phenomenal. The boys enjoyed the Flow Rider and climbing wall. We're not big shoppers so we enjoyed walking down the Royal Promenade but there was nothing I needed or wanted there. The musical entertainment in the bars and by the pool was great. Something for everyone. Boleros and the Star Bar seemed to be our favourite evening locations. We didn't get to stop at Coco Cay due to rough seas, so that was a disappointment. In general, as a first time cruiser, I was surprised at how much movement and rocking was felt on board. It was much more than I expected with the size of the ship, but we weren't sick, it was just very noticeable, especially when the pool water came sloshing out of the pool on either side and soaked the whole pool deck. The only day it really bothered me was on the second to last sea day when there seemed to be an annoying constant vibration on every deck. I found it really bothersome. In general, we rarely felt crowded by the other 4000+ people on board, which was surprising. Everyone seemed to be able to find their own niche. I did enjoy having my balcony to sit on and enjoy a morning coffee or pre-dinner drink. We used ours a lot. The staterooms were bigger than I expected, but I was preparing for a closet! We felt we had plenty of room. Our attendant, Damian, was excellent. We did a beach excursion through RCI on St Thomas. It was good value and well run. We arranged our own tour on St Maarten because I felt all the RCI excursions were too expensive for a family of 5 for what they offered. We found something at half the cost that was very safe, professional and enjoyable. I just did my research before hand to make a good selection. We were back on board with plenty of time for departure. In conclusion, we were all surprised at the quality of service delivery, facilities and food. We regularly go to Beaches in Jamaica and have also done the Club Med, Disney and Universal vacations. I feel our cruise experience surpassed the others in terms of quality and value for money. While I do enjoy a relaxing beach vacation, we feel another cruise is definitely an option for us in the future. For multi-generational cruising, we would definitely stick with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
The cruise was good but I thought there were going to be a few more activities to keep my 2yr old busy. He's in swim lessons every week with a cloth swim diaper that holds in any poo if by chance we missed that he was going, but we ... Read More
The cruise was good but I thought there were going to be a few more activities to keep my 2yr old busy. He's in swim lessons every week with a cloth swim diaper that holds in any poo if by chance we missed that he was going, but we were told he was not allowed in ANY of the pools unless he was fully potty trained. I thought there would be different art activities and things that he'd be able to do with other kids his age while my husband and/or I were close by but were told that parents were not allowed in the room. The 3-5yr old room you cannot even see into. Our son was very uncomfortable with all the new people and things going on and wanted to be with his parents for security so sending him into an area by himself was out of the question. We took him to the Fuel room when they had the toys out but there were never any other kids in there for him to play with (maybe advertising this area a little more would've gotten it more visitors). We went to the nursery 3 times, 2 of which no other kids were there and once infants were sleeping, that defeated the purpose of wanting him to play with other kids. For the heck of it, on the last day we put him in the nursery anyway, at a time when we knew another kid his age would be in there, and they called me 10-15mins later saying I had to come get him... well, I told them that's how well that was going to go. The scrambled eggs were terrible!! but all the other food was delicious! If you have younger, restless kids, the Windjammer cafe is the way to go! A bit disappointed that we didn't stop at Coco Cay due to weather, it would've been nice if we could've stopped by on the way back but I own a business therefore know the struggles of scheduling and I can only imagine trying to coordinate all those cruise ships. The shows and performances were exceptionally good! We were highly impressed and apparently so was our 2yr old. Although he didn't like how loud the mic and music were in the theatre. I saw some other parents who had brought headphones for their kids to tone it down a bit,.. wish I'd had that little tip beforehand. Our 16yr old had an awesome time and even met some new friends which is very unusual for her. All the teen activities and friendliness of some other teens sucked her in! The islanders on St. Maarten are VERY pushy with their sales!!! It was so bad that we decided not to even hang out on the beach and my 20yr old wanted to go back to the ship within 30 mins of being on land. Always felt obligated to tip which was kind of frustrating considering we had pre-payed nearly $100 per person in tips that was mandatory. The people working on the ship were all great, always very friendly and helpful! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This was a great vacation. Checking in was quick, since we had done on-line check-in. We chose to eat at Windjammer/Jade, because of the buffet. Some members of our family only ate Indian food, and it was available to them everyday. ... Read More
This was a great vacation. Checking in was quick, since we had done on-line check-in. We chose to eat at Windjammer/Jade, because of the buffet. Some members of our family only ate Indian food, and it was available to them everyday. There was not a good selection of food at Fine Dining, which in our case was Galileo's. We did speak to head chef Daniel and he made sure there was Indian food available at Windjammer for us. At the formal dinner, we had to eat at Galileo's, so Danielle made sure we had Indian food. First port, Labadee was relaxing, except for one incident, where we went to the market. Our son bought a souvenir and he was given change in counterfeit. When we tried to use the bill at another shop, the guy there refused to take it, we found market security and he verified the bill was counterfeit. He took us back to the shop, and got us a legitimate bill. We complained to guest services since that port is owned by Royal Carribean, they told us later that the guy was charged. They also took one of our beverage packages off of our bill and gave us discount towards our next cruise. Next port was Falmouth, Jamaica, where our kids went zip-lining. We did not want to go zip-lining, but had to accompany the kids, so we went as observers. Everyone there was quite friendly and kept us company while we waited for the kids to come back. Next stop was Grand Cayman, where my daughter went swimming with the Dolphins and stingrays, she really enjoyed that. I had bought a ticket to accompany her, but since I did not go into the water, they gave me a refund, that was really gracious of them, since I was not expecting it. I did not realize you have to swim in 25 feet of dirty lagoon water to swim with the Dolphins. Last stop was Cozumel, Mexico, where we went on a Jaguar bus and bike tour. Tour guides were great and so was bike ride, the beach however was quite dirty and not quite what we expected. On the ship, we watched all the shows, best was the ice-skating show and the Love and Marriage show hosted by the cruise director, Casey. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
My first cruise, so my rating is based on the experience. Food in the main dining room was poor. Too many dishes were served cold or lukewarm. Isaac's dining room on deck 4 at 5:30pm each night. Serving size was small, so make sure ... Read More
My first cruise, so my rating is based on the experience. Food in the main dining room was poor. Too many dishes were served cold or lukewarm. Isaac's dining room on deck 4 at 5:30pm each night. Serving size was small, so make sure you order dessert and eat a roll or two. The dining room was a big disappointment to my girlfriend. The Windjammer restaurant on Deck 11 was where I ate most breakfast and lunch meals. The buffet had plenty of choices and the food was warmer. Breakfast in the dining room also had a buffet or the the choice of ordering off the menu. Buffet met expectations. Entertainment was another disappointment to myself and my girlfriend. After the second show, we chose seats with easy access to an exit, as we often left halfway through a performance. The magic show however, was excellent. Excursions. We chose to zip line in Saint Thomas. It was okay. We chose the Phillipsburg Family Challenge in St. Maarten. Our team was highly competitive and raced through the streets as quickly as possible(making the excursion much shorter than the advertised time length). We arrived at the last challenge while the "guide" was working to set it up. We finished the "race", drank beer and ate appetizers while we waited, and waited. The team that finished the "race" third was declared the winner. Walk through town with the money you would have spent on this challenge in your pocket. You are now a winner! Back on board, I enjoyed the following activities; ice skating, rock climbing, shuffleboard, surfing, and learning to play Craps. Lastly, I overpaid for a watch purchased onboard. At 75% off, it was still 40% higher than Amazon. The cruise was a gift from my girlfriend, she regrets giving it. We will not be back aboard the Freedom of the Seas. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was my first cruise and I believe it was not bad at all. My husband and I decided to choose Royal Caribbean cruise lines, and we had a great time and did lots of new things. - Food I was very impressed with the many food choices ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I believe it was not bad at all. My husband and I decided to choose Royal Caribbean cruise lines, and we had a great time and did lots of new things. - Food I was very impressed with the many food choices you get at the Winjamer, fresh food, and was open pretty much all the time. There are little restaurants where u can eat for free such as Sorrentos and the Promenade Cafe. I want to mention some nice restaurants the ship has on board such as Sabor mexican food, grill chops steakhouse and giovanni's italian restaurants, my favorite was Giovanni's. The food there was exquisite and service was amazing, can't complain at all, i truly recommend this place. All others were good as well. - Cabin The room service was great, we were fortunate to have Teddy Cato as our stateroom server, always on top of everything we needed, that room was always clean. The room was a little small but you spend almost all your time wondering around the ship so you don't need a big room. -Activities The Director Casey it is very funny, usually he will open all the shows, and some were presented by him. My husband and I watched pretty much all the shows, but one of our favorites was Quest and then the marriage life show. We attended a few dancing parties, which were fun but then we noticed the DJ had the same playlist whic can get boring at times. I will give them thumbs up for introducing the silent party to us! It is a new great concept for any party, I will just tell you not to miss it if you go on board. -Excursions We didn't use the excursions they offered but one, the ATV excursion, it was super awesome! 3 hours ridding the ATV all around St. Maarten, and you can get the best highlights of the island. I recommend you doing this! - Negative points The Wi Fi internet, it was slow and expensive. We paid a lotnof money for one device and in some areas of the ship you don't even get signal and if you do, it is extremely slow, do not spend your money on this. Overall we had a great time there, We will definitely go in another cruise again! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
I really didn't know what to expect. We went w two other couples that previously went before. It was a lot of sailing!!! We had to skip the first stop to cococay because of the weather. Then the next two stops were back to back. So ... Read More
I really didn't know what to expect. We went w two other couples that previously went before. It was a lot of sailing!!! We had to skip the first stop to cococay because of the weather. Then the next two stops were back to back. So most of the trip was sailing. The on board activities were so-so and a bit silly. The ice show was the best. The pub place on deck 5 w fausto was great service nightly. Same breakfast everyday in the windjammer. The Mexican Resturant sabor was ok but the pico and guacamole rocks! We stayed in room 6499 and the room attendant was awful. He actually asked to come in our room the last night and told us how we should give him an additional tip after the daily gratuity for him and his family off the ship. We had to ask him for items several times that should have been noticed upon daily service. My advise is to book a room w a deck if you are going on a cruise longer than 3 nights. I would cruise again but do it differently w more stops and less sailing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
This was my first cruise. prior to leaving everyone had told us how great the food and service were. It took over 2 hours to get on ship due to technical issues. When we got on there was an issue with in rim safe cruise maintenance they ... Read More
This was my first cruise. prior to leaving everyone had told us how great the food and service were. It took over 2 hours to get on ship due to technical issues. When we got on there was an issue with in rim safe cruise maintenance they told me someone would be down in 10 min. After 3 calls and 90 min they never came and we finally went out to explore the ship. We were new to cruising and asked multiple crew questions and many crew members ignored us like we were not there or would give false information. The food in the windjammer which is the buffet was good what you would expect from a buffet. Main dining we were very excited for because so many ppl told us how great the food was. I tried to order items I would not normally eat. Escargot was very good. The main dishes were very frequently cold and burnt. I had to leave my entire order of duck because it was cold and burnt. This happened at several dinners. One night the easier added an extra tip on my card that I had never given him. I had to go to guest service multiple times during cruise. The entertainment was very nice plenty of seating. We tried to go to pool deck but they had no more chairs to sit in. We paid for a shore excursion but the day before it was canceled. We had to make up something to do on island last min. Very disappointing cruise. This ship seems to cater to the very old. Don't recommend this so our line. I wrote total Caribbean a letter when they called were apologetic a gave me 150$ of my next cruise with them. This was way under 10% what the cruise cost thanks but no thanks. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2015
Having never cruised before but wanting to have a break from theme parks whilst in Orlando this seemed the perfect way to recharge the batteries. Our concerns were we would be younger (40 yrs old ) than the usual age bracket associated ... Read More
Having never cruised before but wanting to have a break from theme parks whilst in Orlando this seemed the perfect way to recharge the batteries. Our concerns were we would be younger (40 yrs old ) than the usual age bracket associated with cruising and our teenage children ( 17yr old son & 14 yr old daughter ) would be bored. How wrong we were, as soon as we arrived at the port to check in bags we were pleased to see an array of ages boarding the ship . Check in was efficient, but be patient as it takes a while. We were given our cabin number, passes and a map, and a brief explanation of what would happen once aboard. On boarding we started to look round the ship and were amazed by the space and activities available . The emergency muster was efficiently ran, and once completed we checked into our cabin. Cabin 2292 would be our home for all 4 of us for the week and we were pleasantly surprised by the room we had. Throughout the week it was kept tidy for us and nothing was too much trouble for our state room attendant. Our toilet flooded on first night but this was dealt with swiftly and bathroom floor cleaned straight after. We ate in Galileo for evening meals and were looked after by Jose and Hemsley. Not only was the food of the finest quality and cooked to perfection, but so was the service. They were both attentive, friendly and professional , we were also treated to curry twice during our visit thanks to the area hostess which my husband and son were delighted with. We paid to dine in the 3 speciality restaurants during our cruise , and whilst these were delicious, we would stick to the main restaurant in the evening as we enjoyed the familiarity of our table and regular waiters. The daily entertainment , led by Jamie and cruising Susan was just fantastic and as a family we attended every evening show, the ice skating being a particular highlight. 70s night was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of this party evening. Our children loved the flo rider and pools, and also loved watching the later shows, feeling more grown up by being allowed to attend. It has without doubt been the best holiday we have had and we will definitely be cruising again soon. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
We had high expectations of our Western Caribbean cruise after booking with Royal Caribbean but after spending a week on one of their ships would not be looking to repeat it anytime soon. RC have shoehorned as many rooms onboard this as ... Read More
We had high expectations of our Western Caribbean cruise after booking with Royal Caribbean but after spending a week on one of their ships would not be looking to repeat it anytime soon. RC have shoehorned as many rooms onboard this as they can and everywhere you go it is packed and cramped. This is particularly true of the shows and around the pool area during at sea days. The drinks are all mega expensive with a tipping policy that needs to be believed. Having charged top whack for a drink they then add 18% tip and if that isn't enough leave space for an extra tip. This led to two types of drinker on board. One that could only justify having the odd drink due to the price and another walking around permanently drunk in order to get some kind of value out of their overpriced drinks package. There is no dress code in the formal restaurant onboard despite any wording you may see on the website (even on formal nights). On the formal night a table not far from our had a family wearing beach attire and flip flops. As the formal night was one of things we were looking forward to and had spent a lot of time and money to enjoy it, I spoke to the head waiter as to whether their dress code was acceptable considering there were other less formal restaurant facilities on board. He told me that the dress code was purely advisory only. This was extremely disappointing. To make things worse we later found out that a drink had been spilled on my daughters seat by a waiter and as the seat was a dark colour it could not be seen. The result was a lot of stains on my daughters cocktail dress which nicely rounded off a disappointing evening. On a positive note we were very happy with our cabin and the service we received from our cabin boy. However considering everything we will not be coming back with Royal Caribbean Read Less
Sail Date: July 2015
It's our first time to cruise. We chose RCL because my sister-in-law highly recommended it. We sailed with my brother's family and their friends last July 2015 -Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean. Overall, my family enjoyed ... Read More
It's our first time to cruise. We chose RCL because my sister-in-law highly recommended it. We sailed with my brother's family and their friends last July 2015 -Freedom of the Seas Western Caribbean. Overall, my family enjoyed our time. The crews were all friendly and always willing to serve. We never had a dull moment. There were a lot of ongoing events on the ship. During embarkation, it rained a bit. Our luggages arrived around 3pm in our cabin. While unpacking our clothes, I noticed that our luggages were partly wet and some clothes inside were wet. We told guest services and they right away offered to laundry our stuff for free. We had an adventure that we did not sign-up for....our ship caught fire Wednesday morning while we were docking at Falmouth, Jamaica... I can say we were fortunate that this happened in the morning and near the port. The captain and his crew handled it well. The captain kept us updated every 15 minutes of the situation. Releasing us from the ship took time because there were these 3 passengers that they could not account for....we were finally allowed to get out of the ship around noon. Downside is that some excursions have to be cancelled and our stay in Jamaica was shortened. Apparently they were able to fixed the problem and we continued our cruise without a hitched. Dining We got the "My Time dining". We hade the save table and wait staff every night. Our server Slama Rouine and his assistant Casroy Browne were awesome. Special mention also goes to the headwaitress Evangeline Gregorio and her assistant Albert Fallorina. They made each night special that we all look forward for our dinner. Entertainment Cruise director Jamie Fentiman and Activities Manager Cruisin' Susan were fantastic. We watched Battle of the Sexes Game show and the Quest Game show... That was really funny. Their Dancin' in the Street Party was cool. Comedian Dean Austin was funny. Shore Excursions Labadee, Haiti - RCL's private island My hubby and daughter did the Dragon's Breath Flight Line and said it was worth the money. Falmouth, Jamaica We did the Dunns River Falls Express. Our bus tour guide, Tracy, was very entertaining. For me, I think you should at least be fit to do this hike up the falls. Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island We did the Deluxe Stingray City Sandbar. Something to try out but the place was too crowded. Cozumel, Mexico We did the Dolphin Encounter & Sea Lion Show. We only did the Dolphin part but it was worth it. Everyone in our group was able to interact with the dolphin. After that we had lunch there and went for a free tequila tasting...per our guides suggestion, we tried their flavored tequila. We bought 2 bottles - almond and citrus. If you like tequila, you should try this stop. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2015
Our cruise was everything we expected and more. We were a family of 5, ages 12 through 58. We flew up 3 days before our cruise and enjoyed Universal studios and Downtown Disney. Embarking was easy and fast. We were on the ship around ... Read More
Our cruise was everything we expected and more. We were a family of 5, ages 12 through 58. We flew up 3 days before our cruise and enjoyed Universal studios and Downtown Disney. Embarking was easy and fast. We were on the ship around 11:00 so we walked around to get familiar with the location of everything. We had a balcony room and seldom used the "balcony" although having the natural light was great. Actually we were seldom in our room. We preferred exploring and enjoying the ship. Our daughter and two grand children were directly across the hall from us in a regular stateroom. The first two days we spent a lot of time at the pool. Also the first day the game room offered a few FREE games which the children enjoyed. Before I forget I'll mention that a "Prom" was held for the teens later during the week, which we did not prepare for because We hadn't read about it in any of the reviews. Teens were dressed in formal attire. We'll be better prepared next time. If you plan to purchase any photos be sure to pose at every opportunity for the ships professional photographers so you'll have many to choose from. We didn't take many and was limited when choosing photos for the memory book. Also if you have teens, purchasing Walkie talkies are a lot more reasonable than purchasing wifi for the cell phones to stay in touch. Our stateroom attendant Shawn, was wonderful, kind and very helpful. He kept the room picked up and orderly and kept our towels changed a few times per day. Our dining room servers were a +10. Daniel Ogalino and Yogesh Rane, in the Isaac dining room helped us feel like royalty. Once they knew what our favorite drinks and desserts were, we never had to request them again. Daniel knew I enjoyed coffee with dessert and it was there daily. After ordering lemon aide once, it was there daily. WOW! We had a set time for dinner at 5:30 and we were blessed to have a table by the window. We also pre purchased two cases of water which was not needed. There's plenty water and juice to drink in the windjammer without purchasing extra. Also The food was plentiful and tasty with many items to choose from. The evening events that we attended were great, but get there early or there will be no seats left. After our grandchildren met new friends in "the Living room", that's where they wanted to be. My daughter and I checked in on them often to make sure that they were being properly supervised and was glad to see there was an adult attendant with them. Cocoa Cay beach was great just being in the water. We didn't purchase any excursions for this one. We purchased the jet boat excursion at St. Thomas. It was good when there's nothing to compare. Although we did a similar jet boat ride at Niagara Falls on the Canada side last year which was Awsome. We also purchased the Skyline ride tour. It was OK. The mountain top sight was beautiful and we were fortunate to see large lizards roaming free. Then at St Marteen we purchased the "St. Martin Island tour" offered by D & J Tours. Our tour driver was knowledgable about the island and was patient with us. We went into a shopping center in Marigot and the charge was $1.00 for my husband to use the restroom. Although the tour driver gave us females a business card so we could go to the rest rooms for free if we showed the card. "Oh the things we take for granted in the states". The beach at grand case is Sandy, Sandy. When the waves come in, they bring sand and lots of it. Be ware. It was too sandy to enjoy. I loved that children under 18 had to show that they were with an adult before being allowed to get off the ship. The last day on the ship, the same great breakfast food items and fruit, coffee and juice were served. But please don't take any of it with you. I was surprised at the number of people who had oranges, bananas, cereal and other things in their possession and had to leave it behind at customs. Disembarking was easy and because we carried our own luggage rather than check it, we were allowed to disembark at an earlier time. This was a great experience for us and we booked our next cruise while on this one. Next one is Alaska. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2015
This was the first time we have been on the cruise ship. The ship was FULL of young kids that belonged to a group of 400 and they we all rude and made breakfast and dinner a nightmare. Couldn't do much on the ship cause the group of ... Read More
This was the first time we have been on the cruise ship. The ship was FULL of young kids that belonged to a group of 400 and they we all rude and made breakfast and dinner a nightmare. Couldn't do much on the ship cause the group of kids were always cutting in line and making are wait extremely long. The staff was not friendly by no means. Dress up night the waiters were fighting of the silverware infront of us, not very professional. TV in our room didn't work half of the time. Daughter was scared to go into the play roomusic with other kids because they were working on the ship above the room with a jackhammer or something. It was VERY loud and all day for 2 days. Just all around not very relaxing trip for our family. My wife and I are looking to travel again soon and will be booking with Carnival again. The agency was rude even over the phone. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
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
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
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
1 Helpful Vote
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
1 Helpful Vote
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
4 Helpful Votes
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: April 2015
Royal Caribbean; Western Caribbean Cruise Review (May 2015) For who’m is interested… Route: - Port Canaveral/Florida; - Labadee/Haïti; - Falmouth/Jamaica; - Georgetown/Grand Cayman; - ... Read More
Royal Caribbean; Western Caribbean Cruise Review (May 2015) For who’m is interested… Route: - Port Canaveral/Florida; - Labadee/Haïti; - Falmouth/Jamaica; - Georgetown/Grand Cayman; - San Miguel/Cozumel/Mexico; - Port Canaveral/Florida. With: Freedom of the Seas Sailing: 26 April 2015 – 3 May 2015 Dutch Family (5 persons: 3 Adults & 2 Teenagers) 1 Outside Balcony cabin (2 persons) & 1 Inner cabin (3 persons) Remark: This is personal review & recommendations. Based on personal experiences and opinions ! Cruise overall score: 6 minus (out of 10); barely satisfactorily. Pros: - Although balcony cabin are expensive the overall offering of facilities & entertainment makes it a fairly good value for the money. Yet do not put an adult in an inner cabin without a window (its ‘horror full’). - A broad range of facilities on board that you fortunate do not have to pay for. - Buffet restaurant with a fairly extensive selection of fairly to good edible food. - Joyful, very friendly & helpful staff. - Shows that are good & surprisingly very entertaining. - Soda Package; after 2 refills (per day) you already have value for your money. If you drink more than 5 beers & more than 2 soda’s per day: get the extended drink package! Yet as I recall; alcohol packages can only be taken for all persons in a cabin (above 18). - Our teens found quickly same aging other teens and had a great time. Just closing the ‘Disco’ for all below 18 after 23:00 hrs. and the aggressive hunt by security for teens not accompanied by an adult after 01:00 hrs. (to order/guide them to their cabins) was (‘American style’): aggressive & exaggerated. - Room Attendant ('our' Mr. John was the best experience on the cruise !). - The ship itself. In one word: ‘Great’ ! Cons: - Lots of drinks (for example a ‘good tasting’ coffee) & food only available at outrageous rip-off prices. - All other stuff you can buy only at actually totally outrageous rip-off prices (although last day on the cruise is generally the discount day; but no guaranties it will be on your cruise). - Automatically adding off 25 to 30% ‘gratitude’ on everything you order or buy on board, way more than the 15% average you should be charged (which is still a lot). - A broad range of facilities on board that you do have to pay (‘big bucks’) for. - No free of charge WIFI. - The restaurant food was the worst of our experience on board. It simple never comes near the promised & proclaimed ‘high quality tasting’ experience. The food is mostly under-cooked, flat- or even bad tasting. On only some rare occasions you get something that is fairly good prepared and well tasting. They cannot even cook a ‘al dente’ spaghetti (was half cooked) and a tasty tomato sauce. What can be more easier?! My suggestion: fire the ‘cook’ and buy ‘Heinz spaghetti sauce Traditionale’. In my opinion you would do everybody a favor. A filet Mignon cost ye 20 bucks extra for a piece of meat any regular USA steak restaurant would be ashamed to serve you it (that small). Lobster (tail) 45 $ extra (and they cannot even make a descent cocktail sauce to accompany that). The Mushroom sauce is a concentrated (way to salty) gravy with added mushrooms. The cook (as shown on the on-board TV channel: from India; not from Norway) cannot even make a well tasting curry (and I personally prefer fresh prepared mild Thai curries and not the to my experience worse or strange tasting Indian curries, that could influence my judgment). A lots of more (bad) examples in stock; but we think you get our opinion about the food. So the restaurant (food) was for everybody in the party very disappointing, only the waiters were cheerfully and excellent. Good that they have a large Buffet restaurant. Although I would suggest that their ‘Sushi’ part would actually use some visible real (raw) fish like tuna or salmon instead of making every day the same & most smallest sushi’s from the cheapest ingredients available. New was also the experience that a (warm) BBQ sauce could be that greasy. - Timing of the repetition of the main shows at 21:00 hrs. Which you normally never can attend if you are scheduled for the second dinner seating (which starts at 20:00 hrs.). - Onboard booked excursion gives the worst value for the money. Outrageously expensive for just a barely glimpse of the topic you are actually going for. Yet some excursion you are obligated to book on board (for example visiting the mainland & Maya temples in Mexico; otherwise you never make it back on time and the boat will be gone). Yet if you arrange Jamaican excursions yourself; you get more for just a bit more than half the price on board (considering you still pay the ‘tourist’ price…). - Labadee/Haiti is a secluded/private owned & (‘custom made’) beaches of Royal Caribbean Cruises (just as the ‘Red’ Beach is on Jamaica). Well kept & nice looking; but you see nothing of the (real) Haiti. There are no nice snorkeling areas (reachable from the beach). But available are costly attractions and the limited parts where you are allowed to swim is for the main part the sea badly accessible due to an abundance of broken and razor sharp coral and rocks on the beach but mainly in the water. Good water shoes are a necessity. The nice & ‘real’ BBQ is only for ‘Gold’; ‘Silver’& ‘Crown & Anchor’ member on their own even more private part of the beach. The rest has to sit down in a big buffet beach hut ‘enjoying’ the pre-cooked ‘BBQ’ food buffet which is even less tasty as the food on board… - The meet the Stingrays snorkeling & reef snorkeling excursion on Cayman was fun & attractive. Unfortunate a lot of shore time was wasted on the excursion assignment chaos on board and then again the long waiting at the pier. Resulting that both snorkeling parts (Stingray & Reef) where way to short (2 times 45 minutes). In opposite to that the lunch & visit to some non-particular attractive Cayman beach was way too long and the lunch was very limited (its absolute irritating when one of your kids is absolutely not allowed to take a second burger if that is the only thing available that is more or less edible). - Our worst rip-off excursion was the Dolphin meet & greet on the Cayman Islands. The meet & great with the Dolphins was actually nice. But You were not allowed to video or take pictures yourself. They did this for you, consequently the price of 1 photo started at 50,- USD (just for one!). A few photos and the CD (with the video) would set you back a whopping 150,-USD. Considerable more than the high price you paid for the excursion in the first place. - There is nothing recommendable in Falmouth. Just expensive probably by Caribbean Cruise Lines owned shops direct at the pier and more cheaper (after extensive bargaining) local shops after the pier. For the rest Falmouth is a dirty; chaotic & crowded not seeing worthy little town. - We did not visit Cozumel but went straight from the pier into a by Royal Caribbean hired ferry to the mainland; to visit (after a bus trip) the Maya Ruins at Tulum. The Excursion was great, yet again too little time again at the actual ruins, barely some time to visit some shop at the ruins entrance (go for the shop with the fixed prices or end up in endless bargaining in the other shops). Then too long driving time to a too long lunch on an otherwise expensive beach (1 shot of cheap Tequila emptied your pocket for 10 bucks) and no shopping time on the mainland in Playa del Carmen (which has a large selection of attractive shops). But straight on the ‘last’ ferry back to the pier/boat. ‘Last’ ferry; the ferry was hired by Royal Caribbean. So it would wait for their last passenger before returning to Cozumel (when booked onboard). If you would go yourself to the mainland consider that: 1. The regular ferry does not dock near the cruise ship. 2. Both ways you will have a long waiting queue to get on the ferry. It can take you 1 to 2 hrs. to get across. Recommendable 1: A lot of the shops and taxi’s on shore will only accept cash (US) Dollars. The ‘cheapest’ and easiest way to get cash is at the ATM’s on board (if you have none left anymore). Recommendable 2: Make sure if you agree to prices (for example your own excursion with ‘private’ driver). That the price you have bargained for is made absolute clear to the driver including what you have agree on; where to drive to and where and how long to wait. We had our own excellent excursion, yet the driver still tried to get more (cash) money as agreed. Recommendable 3: when you buy on shore using USD cash, make sure beforehand that the seller/store is able to give your change in USD again. Local currency is mostly worthless to you. - ‘Paste’: It’s doing the cruise & Island visiting ‘Japanese style’. It is going so fast, the time a shore is that limited; that you get barely some impressions of everything. Before you know it and have realized it: you have spent 2 whole days on board; visited 4 Island and are back in Port Canaveral and summoned of the boat. Captains advise (you should take seriously). Occasionally the Captain gives advices over the speakers. Although most of them a delivered in an amusing tone/setting; you should take some of them seriously or get into a lot of trouble. Some examples: - On Jamaica there are more liberal on certain more ‘psychedelic’ substances. Yet the boat is sailing regarding USA law. So…: ‘Stay of the Grass’ & also leave the ‘happy brownies’ for what they are…’ ;-) - The ship did leave the port/pier every day exact on time. One minute to late back and you will be waiving to ‘your’ leaving cruise ship (and have become a citizen of that country). - Lobster are for a lot of people a treat to eat them. However becoming a ‘over-cooked’ red ‘lobster’ will ruin your stay on board, use sufficient sun protection or go out of the sun from time to time. There is so much more on board. But shameful is as the Captain advises to pack/drink lots of liquids during excursions (due to the ‘hot’ weather). And when the crew assigns you offboard to the actual excursion booked by you, they also offer you bottles of water. And when you accept them; they happily charge you 3 (small water bottle) or 5 bucks (larger water bottle) for it (of course exclusive the ‘gratitude’). So all considering; would we do it again ? NO ! However; should you do it ? Well; maybe you should; (your choice)… ! Surprised, about this (and personal) recommendation; regarding all the ‘Cons’ ?! A lot was as expected. Just the food/restaurant was a big disappointment. We knew the prices on board and of the excursions would be high, although these rip-off high prices (& ‘gratitude’) were still a bad surprise. This is not only the case at Royal Caribbean Cruises, but also common at the other liners. Pirates and especially crooks have never left the Caribbean, they just sail bigger boat. In our opinion: It is an experience you should do once. The cruise ship offers plenty of positive & nice things and you get a glimpse of what the Caribbean is all about. After this you should return to the Caribbean, and take your time for it. Just keep out of the tourist traps the cruise ships go to. Read Less
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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