Sail Date: June 2009
Our first cruise and we wanted to pick a superior ship and a company with a good reputation to make our trip memorable. Holidaying with friends to celebrate joint silver weddings, we met up in Miami. We left our island in the North Sea ... Read More
Our first cruise and we wanted to pick a superior ship and a company with a good reputation to make our trip memorable. Holidaying with friends to celebrate joint silver weddings, we met up in Miami. We left our island in the North Sea that morning but fog delays meant we missed our connection to USA but efficient airline staff re-routed us via London, Boston and onto Miami in time for supper. Our friends were flying from Bergen in Norway and they were also delayed en route and arrived after midnight minus their luggage (which eventually caught up with them four days later). Well done to Royal Carribean staff for kitting them out for most of the cruise, including handbags and accessories! We had a brilliant time aboard although I would recommed a longer cruise as I never got round to seeing all of the ship and everything it had to offer. The food was superlative, in fact it was on the third day at breakfast before we realised that the area we were making our choices in was only a fraction of the total breakfast experience. Each day we visited a different island and went ashore for the excursions. Arriving back exhausted, we would change for dinner and then enjoy the theatre show. The staff were more than pleasant and extremely helpful. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, I got bitten by a bug. My foot became sore and so I went to the onboard medical station. The only critisim I have was that it was only open for a couple of hours a day. As we were going on excursions, and the queues were long, twice I gave up and joined my husband and friends rather than wait and miss our trip. By the time we left the ship I had a bad infection but ignorance coupled with looking forward to going home to see my children, resulted in my ingoring the pain and headed for the airport. Seven hours later, arriving in London my leg had swollen badly and I ended up in hospital for seven days on an intravenous drip and almost had my left leg amputed. The doctor even told my sister I might not survive. I hasten to add that none of the above was the fault of the cruise and that it has not put me off. In fact, I look forward to taking another one so that I can enjoy what is on offer and not be the misery that I suspect I was with my sore foot! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Arrived two days early and stayed at Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale.  Great hotel in great location, you can walk to everything including a Publix supermarket.   Arranged transport through Miami 411.  They did a great job arriving ... Read More
Arrived two days early and stayed at Embassy Suites Fort Lauderdale.  Great hotel in great location, you can walk to everything including a Publix supermarket.   Arranged transport through Miami 411.  They did a great job arriving early and ready for my family of five.  Embarkation was a breeze arrived at port at 10:45AM and we were on the ship at 11:30AM in second group called.  Went to windjammer and foundsome seats easily(just about the only time we did all week) and settled in for a relaxing lunch.  Rooms were ready at 1:00 and some of our luggage had already arrived.  Muster drill, same old, same old and then dressed for dinner.  Food-Dining room food was just ok.  We thought Windjammer was actually better, more variety and believe it or not, it tasted better.  Sorrentos and the Cafe had great pizza and sandwiches whenever we wanted.  The cookies at the bakery were a definite favorite of the kids!Entertainment-All shows were very very good.  I was very surprised at the quality and talent of the staff in the shows.  We went to every show and loved all of them.  Ice show was excellent and comedians were all top notchService-Dining room service was average, nothing special at all.  Cabin Steward was phenomenal and the kids adopted Rodney!  He made the cruise extra special for the familyJohnny Rockets-best burgers by far on the ship.  Great service and well worth the money!Richard Spacey and staff-really make the cruise special.  A memorable interaction every time we saw them.This was a great cruise.  Already booked Freedom next spring break out of Port Canaveral.  I would not hesitate to recommend highly Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Saturday, April 11 flew into Miami, Florida with my two children ages 6 and 9.  Miami airport was horrible.  I have never seen so many people in one congested space trying to catch the hotel shuttle.  I am glad we were meeting my ... Read More
Saturday, April 11 flew into Miami, Florida with my two children ages 6 and 9.  Miami airport was horrible.  I have never seen so many people in one congested space trying to catch the hotel shuttle.  I am glad we were meeting my husband who drove in from a business meeting with our luggage and met us at our hotel.  I can't imagine trying to handle luggage and children in this mob.Our first night we stayed at the Marriott Courtyard West Doral.  A nice place to stay but you really need a rental car.  No charge for parking and they have an airport shuttle.  We could check into our room as soon as we arrived at 10:00 a.m.  They were very accommodating as I had shipped our easter baskets ahead of time.  They called our room at the time I asked and informed the kids the easter bunny had left something for them.  Nice pool and close to Dolphin Mall which is a great choice- IMAX theatre.  We watched the new Hannah Montana Movie.April 12, we boarded the greatest ship in the world.  Freedom of the Seas.  We had two cabins 6222 and 6224.  Connecting rooms were not available but the balcony dividers could be locked in the open position and it seemed our rooms were connecting.Something on the ship for everyone.  Embarkation smooth as very fast.  They have this down to an art.  We found the Windjammer very crowded and difficult to find a table.  Soda cards a must.First day at sea.  Lots of exploring.  Kids loved all the activities.  Ice skating (thought not open much), flow rider, rock climbing wall.  Kids club was exceptional for my 6 year old.  Many activities all week such as pirate parade, circus, and water fun.Second day- Labadee- Kids did the water slide $20/day each and the older one did the water activity park S15/hour which she had to do with an adult.  Very tiring.  She did good as a gymnast but other children may struggle as you need to be able to support your body weight.Third Day- Ocho Rios- Mark Morris Tours.  The best tour all week.  Very accommodating and personal.  He brought along his daughter who was adorable.  He advised us about the locals and what to avoid as they try and take advantage of tourist.  Dunns River and white water rafting with a stop at local restaurant for authentic Jamaican jerk and short shopping trip before arrival at pier.  I highly recommend him.Fourth Day-Grand Cayman- on our own.  Did snorkeling at Eden Rock, went to Margaritaville. Shopping great port for alcohol and this is where rum cakes are made.  You can get them at the port shops.Fifth Day- Cozumel- Nachi Com- Excellent choice.  Good food relaxing.  They take your picture when you arrive.  $12/pictures $38/snorkeling with two stops.  Husband did and loved it.Sixth Day- At Sea.  Lots of shop sales.  Jewelry, tennis shoes, watches.Food was good hotel quality with the exception of CHops which I would compare to Ruths Chris.  Everyone had a great time.  Only negative is bingo is way to expensive.  The first night I played and it was $40/ for one game. Yes it was electronic and the jackpot was $500.  They really make money on this one. Other games during the week were $55.00.  I feel they should make this more affordable but other than that everything was top notch. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
My wife, son and I left Michigan on Saturday, April 11, 2009, everything went smooth and arrived in FLL about 4:00 PM. Once arrived I turned on my cell phone and had a message waiting from SAS Transportation. The message was from the ... Read More
My wife, son and I left Michigan on Saturday, April 11, 2009, everything went smooth and arrived in FLL about 4:00 PM. Once arrived I turned on my cell phone and had a message waiting from SAS Transportation. The message was from the driver who said once we retrieved our luggage to call and they would be there within a few minutes. Went down to luggage, called and within 5 minutes we were on our way to the JW Marriott in Miami. Hotel was great, no problems. Went to Bayside with some friends that night, great place to hang out and get ready for the cruise. Sunday- Left Hotel via cab for the Port of Miami, ADVICE: When you get into the cab and the driver asks if you are familiar with the area say YES. I knew from going to bayside it was a short ride, maybe a $10.00 cab ride, not thinking I said no and all of a sudden we are taking a tour of down town Miami. Lesson learned. Room: 9284 Junior Suite, very very nice. The extra room was great. It would be had to get anything smaller on our next cruise. Embarkation: No problem, arrived at the port around 11:30 AM and was onboard by 12:00. Once on board, we signed up for the Soda package for my 13 year old son, water package for the wife and the Wine and Dine package, very easy. Checked out the ship and met our friends who arrived around 2:30PM. All in all no complaints. Dining: The food overall was very good. There was a very nice selection. There was the Chops Steak for 14.99, but I avoided temptation. My wife loves fish and said the Salmon was good. I had the Prime Rib and Fillet, my son had the steak, chicken and Turkey all good. On lobster night I was expecting a big shrimp but to my surprise it was not bad. After I finished our waiter, asked if I wanted another and I gladly agreed. All in all good experience. Labadee, Nice Beach day. Wife and son did the Zip Line, said it was fun. Lunch was fine consisting of hamburgers, hot dogs chicken etc. Highly recommend the Labadoozee, great drink. Jamaica: Did the Kayak and Dunns River fall. This was a very physical excursion. i was in a two person Kayak with my 13 year old, you are Kayaking in the open ocean for 1 1/2 miles. Quite a workout. Dunns river falls was cool and worth seeing. Cayman: We did the snorkeling, the best ever. As soon as you got in the water fish were everywhere, it was literally like jumping into a fish tank. I highly recommend it. It was GC-19 in the book. Cozumel: We did the Dolphin, Push Pull and Swim. What fun. Cruise Director: Richard Spacey, excellent as advertised. Entertainment: Excellent, Shows were good. They flew in a comedian, I think his name was Bobby Connely, excellent. Ice Show, well worth seeing. Debarkation: EARLY, we were off the ship by 7:30 and our flight was not until 1:00PM. I know they have to get everyone off the ship but.... Once off the ship, called SAS and within 3 minutes they were there and off to the airport. Overall a great trip. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
Made the drive from Charlotte to Miami with a stop over in Fort Pierce.(nothing to do with the cruise,but Cobbs Landing has good food).Arrived at the port at about 11am. The signs and directions could be better but the Freedom is right in ... Read More
Made the drive from Charlotte to Miami with a stop over in Fort Pierce.(nothing to do with the cruise,but Cobbs Landing has good food).Arrived at the port at about 11am. The signs and directions could be better but the Freedom is right in your face as soon as you cross the bridge so you can't miss her.Dumped the luggage off to a waiting porter who was very helpful and parked up the car.($140 for the week). We were on the ship within 30 minutes with no problems whatsoever and met up with family members that had made the trip from the U.K.THE SHIP.....Huge, clean, and amazing.Everything you have read about and more.THE STATEROOM......Small, but clean and well equiped.The bed was terrific and so were the towel animals.THE STAFF.....Wonderful.Not one negative attitude from anyone.Very helpful.(While we are on the subject of staff, a shout out to Kadek and the three Jose's in my time dining that made the evening meal such a wonderful and hilarious experience).THE PORTS.....Labadee was a great beach day walking around the market and checking out the scenery.If you want sun,sand and palm trees,this is it.Did the falls in Jamaica. Very nice and not overcrowded when we were there.Some areas we saw on the tour were run down but this is how people here live.An education to say the least.Swam with the stingrays in Grand Cayman and tried my hand at snorkeling until a gallon of salt water put an end to that.(need to keep my mouth shut!).Did not go to Cozumel because of the swine flu problem. Unfortunate, but you can't really argue with that decision.THE ENTERTAINMENT.....So much to do we could not do it all.The shows that we went to were great.Bingo was way too expensive though. My wife tried it once.(I didn't care.I don't play bingo).Also the on board photos were 20 bucks a pop.A bit steep I thought.THE CRUISE DIRECTOR......Rubbish, could have done a better job myself..! Sorry Richard,just kidding.!!Check out youtube and type in Richard Spacey to find out all you need to know about this guy.I would be surprised if there is anyone else out there at the moment that's doing a better job.THE FOOD.....To be honest,we could not fault the dining room food at all.It was well presented,the staff were great,(see above) and it tasted very good.The windjammer is a typical cafe self-service type of thing. Most of it was of a good standard but one or two of the deserts were a bit bland.All other food available was good with good service.We got off the ship as easily as we got on.Paid the parking fee and headed to Deerfield beach for the next half of our vacation. This was a wonderful experience for all members of our party.I have cruised before with Carnival and we had a great time with them as well but the Freedom does everything on a much grander scale.(until oasis,that is).I have read many reviews on this ship,some good and some not so. All I can say is that this is an honest review by me, I am not an RC employee and I would do it again in a heartbeat.      Read Less
Sail Date: April 2009
RCI's Freedom of the Seas - Apr 12th - April 19th 2009 - Western Caribbean Hub - Steve (50) Me - Di (55) Our Son Nic (12) This was our 1st Ever Cruise!!! So we went with a completely open mind - although I did do a huge amount of ... Read More
RCI's Freedom of the Seas - Apr 12th - April 19th 2009 - Western Caribbean Hub - Steve (50) Me - Di (55) Our Son Nic (12) This was our 1st Ever Cruise!!! So we went with a completely open mind - although I did do a huge amount of reading as many CC posts and threads as I could before we went, which were extremely helpful with planning and packing !!!  We didn't book any excursions at any of the Ports because we didn't know how we were going to feel, so we thought it best to "suck it & see!"............ Being from the UK, we flew from London Gatwick (LGW) with Virgin Atlantic into Orlando (MCO), collected our Hire Car from the Dollar desk and as we are Disney Vacation Club Members and have been since 1994,  we stay at Disney's Old Key West Resort (our Home Resort which is always wonderful) for 3 nights before driving down to Miami Airport on Sun 12th to drop off the hire car at the Dollar desk.   They took us around to the Cruise Port and Freedom of the Seas was the first Ship we saw! - What a beautiful site, all the Cruise Ships lined up with FOS at the back, then Carnival Valor, then another Carnival, then NCL Pearl & NCL Jewel - we were so excited to see them all.  We dropped our luggage off at the Pier and we were approached by one of the porters who told us to "just leave your bags with me and walk through that door".  We then walked into the Check-in area at 11:30am where the check-in process seemed very organized although the grumpy check-in lady who dealt with us, would have cracked her face if she had smiled - in our opinion....!!!  We had ticked the OPTION B on the Charge Account paper "I choose to have my credit card issuer convert my onboard charges to the currency of my card in lieu of participating in the Royal Caribbean International Currency Conversion Program" - This was subsequently ignored by RCI when we got our final Sea Account on the morning of disembarkation, but more of this later on...** Day 1 - As we walked onboard (greeted every few yards by RCI Crew) and saw the inside of Freedom for the first time - it was a definite WOW moment for all 3 of us !!!!  We were completely gobsmacked and unprepared for how beautiful and plush Freedom was!  We made our way up to Windjammer, found a table and had some lunch, the buffet was excellent!  We know we are going to love this restaurant...  Then at 1pm the announcement came that the staterooms were open, so we went up to Deck 9 and found ours - #9220 D1 Balcony Stateroom on Deck 9.  We were really pleased with the look, size & storage space in the stateroom and the Balcony which gave us fabulous views to the front via the curved glass window, as well as out to the side ... We hung up our first night Dinner clothes which we had in our hand luggage, worked out how to use the safe to lock away passports etc... and set off to explore the ship and take loads of photos and video before it was full of people... We went to have a look around the Teen Area of Fuel, the Living Room & the Arcade.  Nic was VERY impressed because as he is 12 he was told that he can "come & go as he pleases!" joining whichever activities he wants and leaving when he wants...  We didn't make the pre-arranged "Pre-Sailaway Cruise Critic Meet" at the Pool Bar on Deck 11 as we were still exploring the Ship until just before Sailaway.  We rushed back to our balcony for Sailaway and watched all the ships go off in front of us in a line !  What a Fab sight !  We passed the NCL Pearl which was still docked and we all waved and whooped at each other as we passed and they sounded their horn !  After sailaway Nic disappeared off to the Teen Area and we arranged to meet back at our room @ 5pm to dress for Dinner at 6pm.  It was a good job I was told by CC members to carry our Dinner clothes in our hand luggage as our cases didn't subsequently arrive until about 8:30pm!  We had opted for Main Seating for Dinner and found our table #246, quite easily.  Our lovely waiter Conrad and his Assistant May came to introduce themselves and we also met our tablemates, Geoff, Julie and their 14 yr old Son David, all Canadians but now living in Columbus, Ohio.  Perfect! another boy for Nic to chat to! Our Waiter, Conrad and his assistant May were lovely and looked after us very well.  After Dinner, the boys disappeared off into the "Teen Area" and we did some more exploring whilst trying to walk off our lovely Dinner of Steak followed by a superb Fruity cheesecake... it's a huge ship and there was so much to see !!! We enjoyed a Bud sitting outside the Bull & Bear Pub on Royal Promenade and watched the Parade - Fabulous - our Cruise Director Richard Spacey (a fellow Brit) is a Hoot !!!  We arranged to meet Nic, our Son at 10:30pm in Cafe Promenade where we just couldn't resist taking coffee, hot chocolate and a piece of their excellent apple/cinnamon cake back to our room to eat before bed.  We loved that we could tune into Channel 19 on our TV and see the constantly updated route map, and also the live cameras on the front and rear of the ship, it was so much fun sitting in our room watching everyone riding the Flowrider at the back of the Ship...  We ordered breakfast from Room Service and finally went to bed just after 12!  Couldn't feel any movement or hear any noise so drifted off to a peaceful sleep.....   Day 2 This was a "Cruising at Sea" day, and as our lovely breakfast arrived around 7:30 consisting of juice, coffee, eggs, bacon, sausages, a healthy fruit plate and then not-quite-so-healthy pastries!  we really enjoyed eating this out on our balcony....  After breakfast Nic disappeared off to meet his new friends including David, Connor, & AJ in the Teen Area where they joined in with the Quizzes, the Scavenger Hunt, Shot some hoops, played Dodgeball and enjoyed 1 hour's FREE use of all the machines in the Arcade !!   We did some more exploring of the Ship especially the shops in the Royal Promenade!! We met Nic in the Windjammer (briefly) for lunch and then spent a leisurely couple of hours sitting on the Balcony reading - This is definitely the life !!!  Tonight was our first "Formal Dinner" - sooooo looking forward to it !!!  This is the first time that Nic has worn a suit and my heart lurched when I saw him all ready to go and looking sooooooo grown up !!!  Our Dinner was wonderful, the Filet of Beef was superb and the Souffle with Grand Marnier a fitting end to a fabulous meal !!  Conrad (our Waiter) seems to enjoy mimicking my very English Midlands Accent, so I agreed to teach him a new "word of the day" Yesterday's was "Lovely" and today's was a good old 'Black Country' word "Bostin"... Conrad had a bit of trouble with the pronunciation at first, but got it in the end !!!  After Dinner Nic went to get changed out of his suit and into his jeans ready for the "Teen Only" night in the Ice Skating Rink.  We went with him to sign the waiver and ended up staying to watch him having fun on the ice with his new friends !!!  We only managed to stay up until 10pm tonight as we were all very tired - could be all the lovely food methinks !    Day 3 I woke up just before 6am to the beautiful view of the mountains of Haiti!!  We arrived at RCI's own port of Labadee on the north-western side of Haiti around 7am and after breakfast in the Windjammer, we grabbed our rucksack and made our way down to Deck 1 on the Starboard side at the back to board the Tender Boat that would take us across to Labadee...  Labadee was very hot and the guys in the pink shirts in the Haitian Market were very pushy, one even grabbed Nic's arm and put a beaded necklace around his neck, Nic was a bit worried by this so we took him over to the Dragon's Breath Beach to watch the Zipliners.  We each found a Hammock under the Palm trees and watched the clusters of green coconuts above, hoping that none would fall on us !!!  After another stroll along the Beach we had a lovely BBQ lunch of Ribs, Chicken, Hot Dogs & Burgers with Potato Salad & Rice and loads of big chunks of fresh Pineapple, 4 different sorts of Melon, Apples, Oranges, Grapes and loads of different sorts of cakes and pastries & cookies all washed down with Fruit Punch !!!  RCI does seem to like to feed their Customers well !!!  After lunch we tried to walk off some of the food but then gave up and had another gentle swing in the hammocks again instead !!!  We got on the Tender to go back to the Ship around 3pm and headed back to our balcony to watch Sail-away from Labadee - What a beautiful place !!!  Dinner in Leonardo's MDR tonight was a fabulous Filet of Top Sirloin which just melted in your mouth.  After Dinner Nic had a "Teen Pool Party" followed by a "Teen Only" session on the Flowrider, both of which we thoroughly enjoyed watching !!  This was Nic's first ever go on the Flowrider and he did really well managing to stay on for a few minutes - He loved it, so much so, that we booked a Private 1 hr lesson for him for tomorrow night (Weds) for 6:15pm... After this we watched the "Dancing in the Street" Party in the Royal Promenade and collapsed into bed at 11:30pm - really tired !!!   Day 4 We arrived at the Port of Ocho Rios, Jamaica at about 9am, and after Breakfast in the Windjammer (we just love this restaurant!) we headed down to Deck 1 to walk off the Ship as this was a "docked destination". Steve and I have been to Mexico once before in 1992, but only to Tijuana, so we expected the local to be a little pushy. However when we came out of the dock area through the security gate we were not prepared for the number of local men - mainly Taxi Drivers - who wouldn't take "No Thank You" from us...  There was also a number of local men selling all sorts of stuff, copied DVD's, copied Perfume and some other sorts of locally grown "Stuff"......??? Nic was very frightened by them as some walked along side us and continued to talk at us, even though we kept on saying "No Thank You".....  So we quickly made our way up to the Hard Rock Cafe shop and the Harley Davidson shop and then called at a couple of the small 'shopping malls' near to the Ship...  Nic was very uncomfortable and uneasy with the atmosphere and with all the local men standing around in groups and when they kept on talking at us, so at 12:30 we went back through the security gate (where they checked our SeaPass cards) and made our way back onto the Ship and up to the Windjammer for some lunch... In retrospect - maybe we should have gone on an organized excursion...... We spent a couple of hours lazing poolside whilst Nic met up with his friends and at 2:20pm we wnt to watch them all on the Flowrider... At 4pm we strolled over to the Cafe Promenade for an afternoon treat of Tea and a Cinnamon Bun.  We then returned to sit on our Balcony and listened to the sounds of Reggae Music coming from the Beach & Resort below... We watched 'Sailaway from Jamaica' from our balcony at 5pm - we agreed that we probably wouldn't rush to come back again - maybe we have done this place an unjustice... At 6:15pm we took Nic up to the Flowrider for his Private Lesson - which he absolutely loved !!!  We then had another great Dinner in the Windjammer (I had previously called in at the MDR and told them we wouldn't be using our table for tonight's Main Seating so as our tablemates wouldn't be kept waiting...) and afterwards made our way down to Studio B - The Ice Rink for he FreedomIce.com Ice Show which was Fantastic !!! We called back at the Cafe Promenade after the Ice Show to collect Coffee and Hot Chocolate before going to bed around 10:30 ish after ordering Breakfast from the Room Service Menu... Day 5 Today we arrived at Georgetown, Grand Cayman which is a 'Tendered' port and looks very flat (no mountains).  Unfortunately our Room Service Breakfast didn't arrive, and when I rang Room Service they said they had no record of our order - so someone must have removed it from the outside of our door overnight !!! No problem, we just went to our favorite Windjammer for breakfast and afterwards made our way down to Deck 1 to board the Tender boat.  We really like Grand Cayman, it was lovely and clean, beautiful buildings and they drive on the left just like we do in the UK !!! There were no groups of locals hanging around anywhere, so Nic was much happier and we all felt completely at ease here... We had a good look around the lovely shops and found the prices to be about the same as Orlando for Perfume and jewelry... Nic had is name embroidered onto a Cayman Islands baseball cap, and he bought a couple for his friends back home. We got back onto the Tender about 1:30pm ish and spent the rest of the afternoon Poolside watching Nic with his friends.... Tonight was our 2nd "Formal" Evening so we got ready early and went down to have our photographs professionally taken (as we had missed this on our 1st Formal night) on Deck 5 on the Royal Promenade. We had a lovely Dinner in Leonardo's of Salmon for Main Course and a Dessert Sampler for afters - what a clever idea 3 small samples of 3 desserts on one plate !!! Nic went to get changed out of his suit before meeting his friends in the Living Room and Fuel.. We strolled along the Royal Promenade and ordered a gold neck chain for Nic and they gave us a bracelet in the same chain FOC !!! We then went to the Arcadia Theatre to watch the "Once Upon a Time" Production Show which was excellent !!!  We had arranged to meet Nic at the Cafe Promenade at 11:30pm and tonight we were all so tired that none of us wanted our usual 'Bedtime drink and snack' .......This cruising lark does seem to make us really tired - or could it be all the lovely food ??? We ordered Breakfast for tomorrow from our TV - how cool is that ??? Day 6 Our lovely Breakfast arrived at 8am and we ate it whilst arriving into Cozumel, Mexico and watching the gorgeous 'Flying Fish' from our Balcony!!!  WOW how fantastic to experience this sight !!  They leap up out of the ocean and skim across the top of it before diving back underneath !!!  Never seen anything like this before !!! We went up onto Deck 12 at the front to film along the coast of Cozumel, Nic asked if he could stay onboard because they were having a "Crew Hunt" today in the Teen Area - he is having such a great time with his friends that we agreed to this and arranged to meet him in the Windjammer at 1pm for lunch... Steve & I spent a couple of hours in the shops around the dockside in Cozumel before returning back to the Ship, and spent the rest of the afternoon Poolside... We watched 'Sailaway from Cozumel' from up on Deck 12 at 6:30pm before having a pizza in Sorrento's and then picking up some bargains at the "Royal Promenade Sale", mainly RCI Logo merchandise, t-shirts etc...  We had a Bud outside the Bull & Bear Pub, did some people-watching before returning to our Stateroom to watch the Departure Video on Channel 27, as requested by Richard Spacey our Cruise Director, and then to bed..... Day 7 Today was our last day and was a "Cruising at Sea" day - good job really as we didn't wake up till 8:30am !!! After Breakfast in the Windjammer, Nic went off again to meet his friends and we had a wander around the "Clothes Sale" on Deck 11 Poolside.  We spent most of today relaxing by the Pool, then sitting out on our Balcony - just watching the sea is wonderful !!. We had a sandwich & coffee for lunch from Cafe Promenade, collected our "Formal Night" photograph from Deck 2 before returning to our Stateroom to get ready for our Farewell Dinner in the MDR.  The Waiters all sang and paraded around the Dining Room, and after we had said Goodbye to Conrad & May and our Tablemates, all 3 of us went to watch the "Farewell Production Show" which was just wonderful !!! Nic had his photograph taken with Richard Spacey our wonderful Cruise Director (hope he will be on Oasis next year !) and we returned to our Stateroom with some drinks and apple/cinnamon cake and watched a movie on our TV.  We ordered a wake-up call for 5:30am (because we wanted to film our arrival back into Miami), before putting our luggage outside our Stateroom as directed... Day 8 I woke up a 4:30am, went out onto the Balcony and saw the lights of Miami !!!  So I sat outside and filmed our arrival back into Miami Cruise Port... I am still amazed at how this huge Ship can be so gracefully maneuvered into her required position..... We had our last Breakfast in the Windjammer and then returned to our Stateroom to wait for our color tag - Light Blue 2 - to be called.. We were called at 8:30am, so we made our way down to Deck 2 and just before we left the Ship, we saw Bernt (Nic's Flowrider Instructor) and we were happy to hear that she might be on the Oasis next year !!! It took us just about half-an-hour to leave the Ship, go through Passport Control, collect our Luggage and get to the Pick-up Point for the Dollar Rental Shuttle to be taken back to Miami Airport to collect our Dodge Magnum hire car. It took us about 3 hours to drive back up to WDW and again we stayed at Disney's Old Key West Resort for 4 nights before flying out of Orlando and back to the UK on Thursday evening (23rd) SUMMARY We have had the Best Holiday ever on board Freedom of the Seas !!! The Ship is Beautiful, the Service everywhere was excellent (I would just like to give a Special Mention to all the wonderful Crew in the Windjammer because every single time we went in, they just all made us feel so welcome and the food was wonderful every time we ate in there- and we ate in there a lot !!!!!) As First Time Cruisers we really didn't know what to expect from a Cruise - But Freedom of the Seas and Her Wonderful Crew simply Blew Us Away !!!!! For us, being onboard Freedom of the Seas WAS our Holiday - the Ports of Call were secondary..... Thank You Freedom and All Your Crew - You Were SENSATIONAL !!!!!!!!!**Only 1 Complaint...Everything was FAB - except we only have 1 Complaint...... When we boarded we CLEARLY authorized and marked on the form for "my Credit Card company to convert my onboard charges to GB Pounds in lieu of participating in the RCI currency conversion program" (as advised by kind CC Members prior to our cruise...) However at 06:30 on the morning of our disembarkation, this had been completely ignored and our printed SeaPass account stated the following... "You have elected to have Royal Caribbean convert your onboard charges to the currency of your credit card. Your statement reflects the charge as it will appear on your credit card statement - 1 USD = .6998 GBP........" I was understandably upset by this and went straight down to the Customer Relations Desk on Deck 5 and was told (by Santiago Lomello - Guest Services Officer) that they couldn't do anything about it and that my best course of action was to call my credit card company and tell them to reject the charge from RCI and to then accept it only in $'s !!! We then got off the ship, drove back up to Orlando to our timeshare and called our credit card company in the UK who told us that by law now, they are not allowed to reject any credit card charges and that the payment has already gone through ! they also told us that if we have given anyone our credit card number, then we have authorized any charges to it.... we explained - but to no avail.....So we then called Royal Caribbean International Head Office in Miami, but was told that they couldn't help us as our booking had been made through our Travel Agent with RCI UK Office and we had to call them.....So yesterday (Fri 24th) after we arrived back home in the UK, I telephoned Royal Caribbean in the UK and spoke to CHRIS who was most apologetic and helpful and agreed with me that RCI had made a mistake in ignoring my written authorization at Miami Cruise Port at embarkation ! He then did a quick calculation and worked out the difference in overcharge on my card to what it should have been and said he will send me a cheque for the difference within 10-14 days - This was EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE !!!!!!!The Cheque arrived yesterday (Sat 9th May)................ Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2009
Embarkation was a breeze. Everyone was very helpful, and it was only a matter of time before we were on the ship. It is very clean, and most of the staff are helpful and friendly. Our stateroom attendant was a little shy, but he was ... Read More
Embarkation was a breeze. Everyone was very helpful, and it was only a matter of time before we were on the ship. It is very clean, and most of the staff are helpful and friendly. Our stateroom attendant was a little shy, but he was great. He was always fixing up our room when we were out, so he def. did he job well. I have to say that I was disappointed in our dinner waiter. As most frequent cruiser know, at dinner service you can order as much of whatever you want. If you want another dinner, they bring it to you. If you want to try all the appetizers because you can't make up your mind, you can. I was 'selling' this way of dining to my boyfriend for weeks prior to the cruise and he was so excited to see how much he can eat for 'free'. At the very first dinner service, our waiter told my boyfriend that the 'line was closed' when he asked for an additional dinner. I have NEVER heard any waiter say that in all of the years I have been a cruiser. It was as if we were bothering him. After we said "The line is closed? But others are still getting their dinners' he said he would check and guess what....there just happened to be another dinner available. What a coincidence. After that initial dinner, he seemed to be annoyed with us everytime we asked for something else. On the second night of dinner, my boyfriend ordered us a bottle of wine. He tipped the waiter 10 dollars cash to open the bottle. Little did we know that a 5 dollar tip was already added on top of that. Then we skipped dinner 2 nights on the ship, and actually had a nice little dinner up in JADE. The tables were set up very nice and the service was great. On 'lobster' night, my boyfriend again, tipped our waiter in cash (20 bucks) before dinner even started. He handed the money to him, and said 'Just keep the lobsters coming." He brought him 2, and before we knew it, he was handing out dessert. The next day on an excursion we overheard a teenage boy say he had 6 lobsters! When it came time to tip at the end, I left a note in the envelope telling him how disappointed we were in the service, and clearly stated he received more than enough of a tip for the service he provided. Oddly enough our assistant waiter who was new and told us it was his first week, was way better than the regular waiter. We only encountered one more 'rude' service person on board. I belive he was the bartender in Boleros. We passed by one night and wanted 2 soda's. He asked to see both soda sea pass cards, which nobody else asked for. My bf said 'You need to see both if we each want a soda? I didn't know that' Very rudely he said 'You learn something new all the time, right?" When my bf asked him if he was having a bad day or a shift change he kinda ignored us and just flatly said 'no'. Aside from these two, everyone else was great....Christian the roulette dealer, as well as all of the casino staff....awesome! I would just be careful of getting sucked into the Bingo games. They don't tell you up front that if the last game (the big jackpot) isn't won within a certain amt of balls being pulled, they roll it over to the next game. Before you know it....you have played all 4 major games and are about 300 bucks in the hole for Bingo games. We did not settle our sea pass acct before we got off...just figured to leave it on the credit card. When we got home, they doubled all of the charges and a 1400 sea pass acct was now almost 2500! When he called they gave him some story about how they do that to ensure payment or something but would see the reverse of the charge in 2-5 business days, but until then his credit card was frozen. That is not right and I have never heard of something so stupid. Not sure if I will be going back on the Royal fleet of ships. Have heard great things about other lines and might give one of them a try. I am very upset seeing as how I have been on all of the ships and never had one complaint. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Ok lets start with embarkation. It was great no long lines great service .I pulled up to port at eleven oclock and was eating honeystung chicken at 1145.Thats when we started to see it, the worn down unhappy feeling being worn by almost ... Read More
Ok lets start with embarkation. It was great no long lines great service .I pulled up to port at eleven oclock and was eating honeystung chicken at 1145.Thats when we started to see it, the worn down unhappy feeling being worn by almost the whole crew.They said the right words ,like how are you and its a pleasure to see you today with robotic speech.The last cruise on this ship the crew way great friendly happy and kind ,not this time .We went to our room and found it to be as nice as we remembered .My wife booked some excursions and i took a walk before dinner,our waiter joel from trinidad was very nice the kind of service we expect in mdr, assistant waiter was a little slow but we think they where short on staff as he seemed to be serving others across the dining room also.All in all service in mdr was ok no real complaints.The food seemed a little flat like they forgot to add the flavor, same in windjammer.Sandwiches in cafe promenade are pretty good as was pizza in sorrentos.Our first day was at sea we did our usual thing coffee and danish on our balcony honestly its my favorite time of day 6 am still dawnish not dark, cool air very nice .We went out about 8am and wow , i thought some how we got on a disney cruise there was 1000 yes i said 1000 children .so many kids in fact cruise director used it in his act.Saying diving lessons where free for kids around propeller and surfing lessons off stern was available.Around day three or so they where traveling in packs running through promenade like it was a basketball court crew saying nothing parents in comas and the rest of use holding on to drinks ,because if you put it down the table was gonna get bumped ,pushed or shoved.Thats when i realized islands where gonna be our only hope for peace.Labadee was first port nice place to relax did jetski and loved it, lunch was ok basic cook out food.The fleemarket is not for the uneasy the sellers are hungry and in your face,not rude but aggressive they are ready and willing to deal.Next day was jamaica we did dolphin swim and was that great no kidding that was beautiful .Nice location with more to do than just swim with dolphins.You can swim and drink there and hang around for a while no in and out.then off to dunns falls also beautiful. Thats when it happened we returned to the ship to find it was in a noro-virus meltdown. Freedom of the seas turned into captivity of the seas .Slowly we spiraled the drain first it was hand wipes and some hand sanitizer by the next day entrance to any store,bar anywhere was tightened to allow entrance and exit through one spot so they could make sure you sanitized your hands, armies of people spraying and whipping .they went as far as to have the dancers from the shows serving food in windjammer.And they where not happy ,making comment to customers like "you want two pieces of chicken wow".you had to almost beg for what you wanted.No garnish on drinks ,you couldn't get your coffee from cafe promenade on your own .Seats where empty in mdr ,shows had plenty of seats.People where hiding in rooms, the ship smelled of illness. i couldn't wait for this cruise to end .Due to spray used all chrome and brass was spotty and tarnished looking .The gleam was off the diamond, the mood of many passengers was fear many people feared to report there illness due to quarantine of 48 hours for the affected and 24 hrs for family.the smell of methane was everywhere .I was so depressed i wanted off and the next stop was Grand Cayman ,but it was not to be noro visited me.Then Mexico still not feeling great we shopped a little but with no excitement fearing to get to far from the ship .one more sea day left til we get off, did express departure having a long drive ahead of use .we didn't get cleared by port for a long time much longer than before finally we where off to the safety of our car. I wonder where our next cruise will be but i know who will not bring me there .maybe when the emotional response is over i will realize they couldn't control the outcome but not yet and not before our next cruise .Maybe another cruise line will fit me better i was happy with rccl Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Let me start off by saying that our last cruise on the FOS was amazing. We didn't want to get off the ship and couldn't wait to return. This time...not so much. We arrived in Miami and stayed at the always fun Newport ... Read More
Let me start off by saying that our last cruise on the FOS was amazing. We didn't want to get off the ship and couldn't wait to return. This time...not so much. We arrived in Miami and stayed at the always fun Newport Beachside for a few days before cruising. We arrived early for embarkation and the process was very smooth and easy. The whole family was excited because we all had such pleasant memories of our last cruise. Once on the ship it became clear very quickly that something had changed. The staff were VERY different. Last time on the FOS the staff made the trip for us. Everyone was great, helpful, friendly. This time they were miserable, abrupt and poorly informed. When we went to find our table in the dining room last year early in the day (a bit of a tradition for us) last year someone walked us over, we chatted had a laugh. This year we were confronted by a staff member who demanded to know why we were there. I was caught totally off guard but explained that we were looking for our table at which point we were permitted to pass. I suspect they thought we were confused about dining times but as with many of our staff interactions this time around, it wasn't the message but the delivery. Later when we went to our cabins they were setup incorrectly. I had booked two adjoining cabins, one for my 3 teenagers and one for my wife and I. The kid's cabin was setup with a single large bed and my wife and I had twin beds. No problem, we unpacked and I called housekeeping to have someone setup the kids with three singles and put they beds in our rooms together. So we didn't have enough beds setup up and the ones that were setup were setup wrong. We dropped to the room from time to time through that first day and never saw a stateroom attendant in the hallway until almost 9 PM that evening a start contrast to the previous cruise where staff were always visible. When the stateroom attendant finally made an appearance he argued with us about the rooms. He wanted us to switch rooms with the kids. What followed was a 10 minute argument about the logistical issues this would create with room keys and clothing as well as the way the adjoining door swings (parents who have done the adjoining room thing know what I'm talking about - you want to be able to block that door :). Ultimately every solution he came up with meant significant inconvenience for us so that he wouldn't have to spend 15 minutes fixing up the rooms to be consistent with our confirmed booking arrangements. Eventually I had enough of being nice and demanded that the rooms be fixed. The work was done but then we had two days of the daily compass not showing up, dirty towels being left behind. My attempts to politely talk to the stateroom attendant were rebuffed so I escalated to management. The head of housekeeping came to see me in the evening and he was very sympathetic and professional. Our stateroom attendant had a huge attitude change after that and actually became very nice and helpful. If you're arguing with the tipped staff from the get-go you can imagine what the non-tipped staff were like. Every discussion, every request was like pulling teeth. Last year in the Windjammer it was easy to get coffee, water, etc. at your table. This year the staff seamed to be congregating and socializing in clusters an not paying much attention to the cruisers. And speaking of the Windjammer it was filthy. Tables were being wiped off onto the chairs and the ledges along the windows were filthy with several days worth of food. Last year it was spotless. I noted that the hallways of the cabin areas were dirty and cluttered as well. Cleaning supplies were always out in the hallway It was all pretty unsightly and some of the folks in our vicinity would always joke about being in "steerage". Again, completely different from last year. Also noticeably absent were the sani-wipes outside the Windjammer. Hand sanitation facilities were put in place after the norovirus outbreak (more on that in a bit) but they were empty a lot of the time. We went to as many shows as we could. The FOS shows are excellent, and I have to give them top notch marks for that. They have a great cruise director and he pretty much saved the cruise for a lot of people that we spoke to. His energy and humor are infectious. There was a nasty norovirus outbreak on the ship (did I mention that it seemed dirty). Bizarrely, guest services was trying to deny it for a while, but in the end they were joking about it on the shows. Of the 5 of us only one of the kids got it, we're a bit obsessive about hand washing, always have been. The medical staff were both incredibly rude, almost abusive, and disorganized and quite frankly need to be sent packing. I suppose you don't get the cream of the medical profession applying to work on a cruise ship but some basic manners would be appreciated. My son got sick so my wife took him for that "complimentary medical appointment" they talk about. What we didn't know at the time (live and learn) was that he would be quarantined for 48 hours and we would be quarantined for 24 hours. My daughter and I were swimming with the stingrays in Grand Cayman when my wife took my son to the doctor (everyone else was too chicken to swim with them) and didn't even know there was such a thing as quarantine until we returned to the ship. I actually don't have a problem with that, however having someone in the med-staff tear a strip off my wife for "letting" my daughter and I off the ship was way out of line. We were new to this whole norovirus thing, when we got back on the ship we were told my daughter had to stay in her cabin, but not me. This of course conflicted with what my wife had been told by medical staff who said because of the adjoining cabins that we would all have to be quarantined. When cruise credits were given out at the end of the cruise to those who were in isolation, we were only credited for the 3 kids, not my wife and I. Our complaints fell on deaf ears. Med staff who quarantined both cabins denied that they had done so - and guest services said that we didn't get a credit for my wife and I because I broke quarantine. My suspicious is that med staff told my wife both cabins were to be isolated but only registered the passengers in the one cabin. Guest services seemed to be guessing. Either way, the bottom line is that we all sat in quarantine and didn't get properly credited for it. Nor were we fully credited for in-room movies as promised during our quarantine period. Again, I don't think it was intentional, just very badly organized. After we got out fellow cruises explained to us that next time if anyone gets sick to just quarantine ourselves and say nothing. That's not normally something I'd consider but given our poor treatment on the FOS.....live and learn. Labadee was fun and beautiful but the food was just disgusting. Given the price of cruising RC needs to do WAY better than that. I've been on cut-rate day trips in Mexico that fed you better. Jamaica was great, we booked a private tour with Phil Lafayette and saw the real Jamaica and had a better meal for $6 (with beer) than RC gave us at Labadee. Dunn's Rover falls was packed and very disappointing. We went with Phil to beat the crowds but his "helpers" we slow so we ended up in the thick of it. The river tubing was the highlight our entire trip. Grand Cayman was clean and safe and the food at Margaritaville was amazing, we didn't want to leave. Swimming with the stingrays was a once in a lifetime experience not to be missed. Cozumel was "ok". Too many vendors, too much cheap junk, just not my thing. Our premium dinners at Chops was excellent and the service was top-notch. Due to the virus outbreak though, steaks had to be ordered at medium or better. It didn't matter the quality of the meat was so high. This was the only FOS experience that was better this year than last. Our premium dinner at Portofino was awesome last year. This year the same attitude rot that infected the rest of the staff caught up with Portofino and it was very, very average bordering on poor. The fitness center is of course excellent and we came off the ship weighing pretty much what we did when we got on. Still, in the end, we were actually relieved to get off the ship and get back to the Newport Beachside in Miami where we enjoyed a few sunny days with great staff, much nicer than on the FOS. So even though we didn't get all the cruise credits we should have, we weren't likely to use them anyway. FOS is top-notch for kids, ours had a blast because there were lots of teenagers on the ship and they don't notice things like rude staff, a dirty ship, and poor business practices, and we as parents put on a brave face for them. For us however, it was enough for us to back out of our plans to book cruise #3 on the FOS and look for something else to do next year. Ultimately, on a ship you can handle anything as long as the staff are fun, friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. In this case a great ship, with great features was let down by a crew that for the most part just didn't seem to care about the ship or its guests. If we could have avoided interaction with staff the entire trip it would have been a more enjoyable trip. Obviously that's not going to happen on a cruise ship and I confess that by day 6 my normally cheerful holiday veneer had worn through and I was starting to respond in kind to the many rude and unhelpful staff on that ship. Who wants to pay all that many to be made cranky? Any holiday is better than working so we still had fun, but we won't be back, preferring to keep our memories from our first cruise on the FOS and pretending this last one just didn't happen. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
We arrived Saturday night in Ft Lauderdale and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the airport. We took SAS transportation from Ft Lauderdale to the Port of Miami on Sunday morning. The driver was right on time and we arrived at the Port about ... Read More
We arrived Saturday night in Ft Lauderdale and stayed at the Hyatt Place near the airport. We took SAS transportation from Ft Lauderdale to the Port of Miami on Sunday morning. The driver was right on time and we arrived at the Port about 11:15. The porters met our van, handed us luggage tags and whisked our luggage away..no lines no waiting. We then went into the pier again no lines no waiting and were onboard within 20 minutes. We had two inside staterooms Cat N for the 4 kids across the hall from our D2 balcony on Deck 6 forward. Next cruise we will try and book aft as we spent most of our time in the back of the boat. As we had sailed the Voyager class ships three times we knew our way around pretty well. After eating we went to check out the sports deck/ pool area. The H2O zone is amazing..much bigger than the pictures that we had seen made it look. As we are from Houston, we thought it was pretty chilly in the water although the air temps in Miami were near 80. We found the pool water all week to be really cold and the kids only spent time in the hot tubs, not the pools after the first day. There were some kids in the H2O zone all week but not many adults in the pools...especially on the sea days which were really windy. Anyway, awesome pool area that we can't wait to use more of in the summer months when it is warmer out. The flowrider is incredible and my teen boys spent most of their time out there. They took private lessons twice and almost had the hang of surfing by the end of the week. It is a great places for teens to meet each other...and it was fun for us to watch. What an amazing view from the top of the bleacher seats out over the ocean! We spent a lot of time playing ping pong, playing mini golf, watching dodge ball etc on the sports deck. We choose My Time Dining which worked out great for us. The first few nights we made reservations but found that we got more relaxed as the week went on and would just arrive when we were ready. We never waited more than 5 minutes for a table for six and had the same wait staff 6 of the 7 nights. We loved this option and will definitely use My Time Dining in the future. The entertainment onboard was plentiful and very good. We enjoyed the ice show, the two main dance/ singing shows (although we thought Once Upon a Time was much better than Marquee). The boys did not enjoy the dancing and singing but sat through it. The balancing act Fulcrum was amazing. The comedians hilarious and the ventriloquist was the best entertainment we have ever had at sea. We usually watch Karaoke with the kids after the shows but they have Karaoke in the On Air area which is the little room to the right of the ice rink. It was always packed with guests and there were usually guests sitting on the floors so we did not do this at all...a bigger venue is definitely needed. Not sure why they don't use Pharoah's lounge for this? We found the food to be really good. Breakfast is the same as always. Plenty of choices and always hot with the omelets made to order as well. Lunch at the Windjammer or at Cafe Promenade or at Sorrento's...so many choices and only 7 days! Dinner in the dining room was still very good. The menu seemed to be the same or very similar to the Adventure last July. We found the prime rib and New York strip to be very good, the sea food to be good and the pasta just fair. There was so much to choose from many nights we ordered two appetizers. Our wait staff was awesome in My Time Dining. We received just as much attention as we would have with a set seating. They new our names and drink preferences after the first night. We had visited all of the ports of call before and were looking forward to some relaxing beach time. We tendered in Labadee and that was a breeze both on the way there and on the way back. We went to the beach under the zip line (bring some cash to tip the gentleman who helps you find chairs). The beach was too rocky for the kids to skim board (they brought them onboard with them) so they ended up just playing in the water/ sand. Lunch here is just ok in our opinion so we just ate a little and then stopped by Sorrentos on the way to our room afterwards. Weather was sunny and about 80..beautiful day. The beach didn't feel overwhelmingly crowded but it was obvious to us that there are more people on the Freedom than the Adventure or Mariner. Not sure how all of the guests from the Oasis are going to find space but I am sure RCCL has a plan. The kids did the Water Park and enjoyed it. In Ocho Rios we had arranged for Marva Shaw at knowjamaica.com to drive us back and forth to Reggae Beach. The Beach was deserted and absolutely breath taking. There was a $5 per person entry fee and limited facilities but if you aren't too fussy it was the perfect day. The kids were able to skim board on the gorgeous beach and we relaxed on chairs. In Cayman we took a taxi to Sea Grape Beach on 7 mile beach. We just threw our towels down and enjoyed about 2 hours on the beach..sunny and low 80's again. Made it back to the boat in time for a late lunch and surfing on the flow rider. Again the tender there and back was a breeze no wait at all even an hour before the last tender back. In Cozumel we had made arrangements to go to Nachi Cocum which we have been to before. It was great but the weather was cool and rainy so not as nice as it could have been. the pool was cold as was the ocean so we spent our time under the umbrellas. The kids enjoyed digging and all you can drink virgin drinks and we enjoyed the adult drinks and a delicious Mexican lunch. We did our shopping in Cozumel near the pier on the way back to the ship. Our sea days were very windy with rain and sun depending on the moment. We never had a problem finding a chair and the deck patrol was in full force (at least near the pool) enforcing the no saving chairs policy. They were marking abandoned chairs and removing towels if they exceeded the 30 minutes. The rain every few hours helped clear the chairs out a bit too so that may have helped. We are runners so we were up on deck 12 near 8 am every morning to jog our 4 miles. We found the running track to be less crowded than on the Voyager Class ships. It was also nice that 4.5 times around was a mile. Tough to run on the sea days with the wind but the other days it was perfect. There was some second hand smoke as the smoking areas are around the balcony on this deck but not too bad. We wish Royal Caribbean would have a jogging track off the beaten path (like Disney) so you don't have to get up early to run. We found staying up until 1 am with our teens and then being up on the deck by 8 to jog before guests needed the chairs wore us out. Not much sleep on this cruise :) Our staterooms were perfect..the D2 has so much room we had empty drawers. As the four kids had two rooms they also had more space than they needed. The last night sailing back to Miami was very windy so the partition between our balcony and the stateroom next door was rattling all night as well as the wind howling...this is the first time we had noticed this with a balcony room and we aren't sure if it was just due to the weather? It made for a very sleepless night :) The kids had a great time and have found a new favorite ship. Our 9 and 12 year old boys did not venture into Adventure Ocean at all even though there were 900 kids onboard (Spring Break). They have tried Adventure Ocean before and found it more like babysitting so instead we all hung out together. I think with warmer water in the pool they will spend more time there next cruise. We had a lot of time together as a family but also time alone when needed. Our 14 year old daughter met several friends in the teen club the first or second night and spent the rest of the cruise with them. Our 17 year old son actually met a good friend hanging out outside the teen club. He did not really want to venture inside and I guess neither did the teen he met. They spent most of their time on the Sports Deck with other teens. So, even though the kids did not really utilize the kids programming there are lots of places for them to meet other kids their ages and so many things for them to do. We did purchase the soda cards for all and definitely got our money's worth. The younger two boys also enjoyed the arcade in the evening when there were adults only activities that we wanted to enjoy. Debarkation was a breeze. We decided not to book the 11:30 flight out of Ft Lauderdale as after researching the boards we were afraid we would not make it. Instead we flew out of Palm Beach at 2:00. Turns out we would have been fine with an 11:30 flight. We left our staterooms at 7:40 for breakfast, were down to pick up our luggage by 8:15 and cleared customs by 8:30. No lines and only 15 minutes waiting for our luggage to come around the belt. We did tie some orange cloth around our luggage to make it easier to find but the debarkation here was MUCH better than either Mariner or Adventure. We had rented a van at the airport and driven to West Palm Beach (an hour from Miami) by 11:30. We would highly recommend the Freedom Class ships to everyone and especially families. As adults we could sail on any ship and be happy as all we really need is the ocean and a good book but for us to enjoy ourselves it helps to have the kids busy. There is definitely enough to keep the kids busy on these ships. We have another cruise on the Freedom booked for July and can't wait to try the Oasis after that! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
My husband is 52 and I am 50. We traveled with our 17 and 29 year old boys. We had adjoining balcony staterooms on deck 6. We flew in on Saturday and stayed the night at the Westin Coral Gables, booked through RCCL. What a beautiful hotel. ... Read More
My husband is 52 and I am 50. We traveled with our 17 and 29 year old boys. We had adjoining balcony staterooms on deck 6. We flew in on Saturday and stayed the night at the Westin Coral Gables, booked through RCCL. What a beautiful hotel. The service was great and the hotel was located right next to the Miracle Mile. The rooms were so large that you felt like you were in a suite. The hotel has a nice pool and jacuzzi on the roof and the boys really enjoyed them. We were picked up by RCCL around noon and taken to the ship. We arrived at the pier around 12:20 and were on the ship by 1:00. Our cabins were ready so we dumped our carry-ons and headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. After lunch we strolled around the ship until just before 4:00. Headed back to our cabins to put on our life vests and wait for the muster drill. The muster drill went smoothly and we were back in our cabins within 20 minutes. We headed up to the pool deck for sail away. As only RCCL can do it - the sail away party began. They have a way of making your vacation start with a bang. We had early seating for dinner so we ran back to the cabin and changed for dinner. The ship is just beautiful, and very big. The promenade is breathtaking and there is always something going on down there. We had a bon voyage parade on the first night around 11:15 and then another parade on the last night at 5:45. But don't worry - early diners will make it to dinner on time. The last day they had tons of food on the promenade and big sales on merchandise. Well worth the look. The pool area is very nice and we never had any trouble finding a chair. This was spring break and we had 700 children on board, 500 were teenagers. Surprisingly, this was not a problem. The kids were kept under control and everyone had a wonderful cruise. The sports deck is not to be missed. The rock wall is huge and Freedom has the amazing Flowrider. It was fun to sit and watch the people wiping out. The main sports court is always busy. Basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, etc. If that doesn't get you - you can always play a round of miniature golf or try the golf simulator. Be sure to take some time and walk around the stairwells looking at the artwork. This ship has by far the most beautiful and wide variety of artwork. But don't just look in the stairwells - the artwork all around the ship is amazing. Be sure to take a peek inside The Crypt (dance club) - it is a very unusual place. The cruise director's staff keeps everyone busy. Belly Flop contests, etc. - my husband came in second place and received a silver medal. They have so many activities going on during the day that there are just too many to mention. The kids clubs were always busy. The only thing I would like to see is a better handling of the teen's club. My son is a bit on the shy side and they never tried to get him involved. I think they need to realize that not all of the teens are outgoing. He went to a teen dance one night and only stayed a short while before leaving with another boy that was also a bit shy. If they had noticed - maybe they could have gotten these two boys involved a little. Maybe something for RCCL to work on a little. Service - the service on this ship is extremely good. I never saw an employee without a smile. They would go out of their way to help you with anything that you needed. I was truly impressed. Captain Eric Tengelsen has a wonderful personality and we enjoyed the few times we got to talk to him. We had rough seas pretty much all week and he would take the time to explain what he was doing to make it better. Clodagh O'Connor (Hello Clo) was our cruise director. She was so funny and full of energy. We really enjoyed her. She does a great job - one of the best cruise directors we have ever had. Our stateroom was a balcony stateroom on deck 6. Our stateroom attendant was Jermaine from Jamaica. He was a sure delight. Our cabin was always spotless and if you needed anything - he was right there for you. Dining - We had main seating dining. The food was always very good in the dining room and our waiter and assistant waiter were awesome. We truly enjoyed them. We could not have asked for better service. Dinner does run a bit slow but on a ship this size - I don't know how they could improve on that. The Windjammer is your typical buffet style but the food was very good. You would think on a ship with that many people you would have trouble finding a seat. Not the case because the dining officers were there to lend a hand. We ate at Portofinos one night and it was well worth the $20.00 pp. Our waiter Levin was awesome. He just couldn't do enough for you. The manager of Portofinos came to our table a few times just to make sure we were happy. I was very impressed. Entertainment - The production shows were great and the ice show was truly fantastic. We had a magician on board and he was great. The late night comedian was very funny and the show is worth attending. The entertainer in the Bull and Bear Pub was fantastic!!! There was a female piano player in the piano bar and she was also very good. San Juan, Puerto Rico - We were in this port from 3:00-11:00. We did the Fortifications Segway Tour. We had a ball! Natalia and Jose that run this excursion are great. We saw a lot of Old San Juan and even went to El Morro fort. This is one of the best excursions we have ever had. We walked around Old San Juan after the tour and did some shopping. This port has a lot of outlets (like Coach, etc) and good shopping. Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas - We were docked from 8:00-6:00. In this port we did the Turtle Cove Sail and Snorkel tour. We were on a pirate ship called the Doubloon. What fun! The crew of three was very professional and extremely funny. We saw lots of turtles and tropical fish. The snorkeling was good. I would definitely do this excursion again. After the excursion we walked around Havensight Mall, right at the pier, and the shopping was good. Philipsburg, St. Maarten - We were docked from 7:00-5:00. We did an excursion called Snuba and Snorkel Adventure. I would not recommend this excursion to anyone. In fact - I informed RCCL about the excursion and filled out a formal complaint. The boat seemed very unsafe and the crew pretty much ignores you. We were supposed to do three snorkel and snuba stops and really only did one. It was horrible. After we got off the little boat (which had 35 people on it) we ran back onboard and changed clothes. We headed back out to do a little shopping. We shopped at the pier first and then took the water taxi ($6 pp) into town. This is by far the best shopping area on this itinerary. Soon it was time for the cruise to come to an end. We packed everything up and had our suitcases out by 11:00 (not midnight on this ship). Our scheduled disembarkation time was 6:45-7:00 and we were called at 7:05. Everything went smoothly. I would definitely recommend this ship to anyone, young and old. We have done a lot of cruising and a lot of different ships but this one really stands out in beauty and service. You could never be bored on Freedom of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Step 1, go read the awesome review by delorean.girl http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=52300 The ship is basically 220 VAC. But there are two 110 VAC US style outlets on the desk. Bring a power strip ... Read More
Step 1, go read the awesome review by delorean.girl http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=52300 The ship is basically 220 VAC. But there are two 110 VAC US style outlets on the desk. Bring a power strip or extension cord if you have a lot of devices to charge or power. There is also a single 110 or 220 outlet above the mirror for a shaver. There are no outlets anywhere else in the room so you won't be able to charge your phone next to the bed. The cabin, and especially the bathroom, is very nicely engineered. I think they did a good job to get the most out of a very limited space. The bathroom is bigger than an airline bathroom, but not by much. The shower is a sort of tube. Tip: Before you turn on the shower, check where it's pointed. The first time I got a full face full of cold water. My Garmin Nuvi GPS worked from the balcony well. Kinda fun to watch the speed and position on my own device rather than the cable channel with the ship's data. When I brought it in the cabin and attached it to the sliding glass door it was marginal but often worked. Also on the desk is a telephone line and network connection. While I did bring a laptop I didn't need to use it all week. The rumor on board was that the Internet service was very expensive. I believe WiFi is available everywhere but I didn't test it. FRS or GRMS radios are very popular on board. If you're bringing a family, bring one for each member and pre-program them with a unique channel and code number for just your family and you won't hear anyone else. But realize that others can hear you. My ATT Blackberry worked well for my work email using the at-sea GSM service on board. I have no idea how much it will cost me. Use with caution since I think international rates apply. Many guests were removing their SIMs just to make sure they didn't get any charges. When the ship is near land, I think they turn off the on-board system. My BB was dead at St. Martin but worked fine at USVI and PR. Also at the desk is a volume control. This will give you some excellent classical music and certain ship announcements. The speaker is under the desk. The safe in the closet is easy to use. Enter your own 4 digit code and LOCK. To open, just the same 4 digit code. Not big enough for a laptop but fine for your MP3 player, keys, wallet and passport. Bring an MP3 player and headphones. There's a limit to how many times you can hear the same Bob Marley song at the pool. Because of the large crowds on board, there are many hurry up and wait periods. Getting on and off the ship is just a couple examples. When you want to mentally unplug from all technology, go down to Deck 4 and take a nice long walk outside, especially at night. You'll find dim lighting, life boats, nothing really high tech. In many ways this walk is what life must have been like on the old ships. If it's rough, you might even feel some salt water spray to remind you that you're really at sea. If the relative winds aren't too high, take the forward stairwells up to Deck 5 and you might be able to walk up to the bow where the landing pad is. This is also one of the few places you'll be able to see the stars at night. There's too much light pollution from the rest of the ship. Deck 12 is also a nice walk during the day but 4 was my favorite. Try it as a relaxing walk after dinner. The only behind the scenes tour I found was of the Arcadia Theater. Highly recommended. The Audio Engineer especially was a born teacher and really got into both the basics and the high end subjects of audio in a major production at sea. Put your name or cabin number on anything you might forget around the ship. Their lost and found at the Customer Service desk actually had my sunglasses I had lost at the pool. A quick description and they found them in less than a minute. I was very impressed. If I had lost something else that had my name on it I'm sure they would have gotten it back to me. Things I'll take next time: Spa temperature and pH test kit. I got some skin and hair reactions from the spas. Use caution. Scanner to listen to the VHF marine radio channels. Longer extension cord so I can power the GPS all the time. Light jacket. Rainy nights with high relative winds do get cold, even in March. Things I won't take next time: Suit. Fewer everything else. Swim shorts and a nice tee shirt will be enough for almost all your time aboard. You will over pack your first trip. Ray Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Our trip did start off so good we landed in Ft Lauderdale and had a reservation with Hertz to rent a Suv for the drive to Miami, well after standing in line for 1 hour and then being told that they did not have any Suv's available ... Read More
Our trip did start off so good we landed in Ft Lauderdale and had a reservation with Hertz to rent a Suv for the drive to Miami, well after standing in line for 1 hour and then being told that they did not have any Suv's available (booked in January)they tried to put us into a small Ford car. It took us over 2 hours to get something that would carry the 4 of us and our luggage. I was not impressed as we lost our time to check out Miami. Getting onto the Freedom was a breeze with no wait, although the wife and myself argued who's credit card we would use for the onboard charges, the person behind the counter was laughing and said this happens alot. The size of the ship is rather overwhelming and something to behold when you first board. We were in our balcony suite by 1:00 on the first day and then it was off to explore the ship. We had the early sitting for dinner, every thing was great until the food came, I ordered the steak or should I say shoe leather either way it was disgusting. I was tempted to go and show the chef how to cook a good steak. After the first night I did not go back for the rest of the cruise. I just eat at the Windjammer every night. It's funny because we would see the people coming from the dining room to the Windjammer to get real food every night. For the price that I paid for this cruise it would have been nice to have the couch turned down in our room at night as after a long day and 2 tired kids it was a pain to have to do it ourselves. Also we did not have towels as I had to go and grab some off one of the attendants cart most days I mentioned this to the room attendant and she didn't seem to care and just argued with me. I even went to the customer service desk and complained and again they did not seem to care either. Just a few tips. you can book tours at every port for $20.00 a person and avoid the utter chaos going on excursions thru the ship as we lost over an hour in Grand Cayman waiting for the tour to start. We hired a local in Jamaica and he was great, as he got us to the front of the lines at Dunns River Falls. It only cost $15.00 per person to get in and what does the ship charge???? In Haiti beware of the market as they really bug you to buy their wares, even though it is all the same stuff. I had quite the bidding war going on between the different vendors. While you are sitting have lunch in Labadee you can see the locals begging for food it is really quite sad. The drinks on board will set you back $8.95 plus tax oh! but you get to keep the glass. You can buy a whole bottle of rum at the duty free for $15.00 The cruise director Cloe was good and seemed to really like the St.Patrik day celebrations. The show's were good, we took a vote and Ronn Lucas was the best show of the week. The ice skating show was good but the performers kept falling when trying to do triple spins. I guess that's why they work on a cruise ship now. On the final day when you need to settle your tips for the help all the ATM's where out of money, I guess they just want you to give the posted rates and charge it to your credit card. Even if they don't deserve it. The Freedom of the Seas was truly an awesome ship. However most of the crew we talked to wants to jump ship to the Oasis maybe this explains the poor service. I don't think that I would spend the money for a vacation for my family on Royal Caribbean again the service was that bad. The Gold Crown service they talk about was really rusty. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Arrived via Miami Airport. Quick and easy check-in around 1pm. I always am sure to get a soda card to ensure I can get soft drinks at any time. This card was around $47 and should be purchased the first day. If you purchase a card after ... Read More
Arrived via Miami Airport. Quick and easy check-in around 1pm. I always am sure to get a soda card to ensure I can get soft drinks at any time. This card was around $47 and should be purchased the first day. If you purchase a card after day one, it is NOT pro-rated. (Card will be this same price even if you buy it on the 3rd day!) Anytime you make this purchase or a purchase at any bar, they automatically add a 15% gratuity to your bill. DAY 1 First night in dining area, casual dress is allowed since some travelers have not received their luggage. Otherwise - you must follow the dining room dress code (no shorts, bathing suits, etc...) If you plan on using the spa, be sure to book this the first day as well to ensure your times work around your planned activities. I always do the 3 session detox Ionithermie service. I am 5'3" and 115lbs and always see results immediately with this service. It takes off inches, tightens problem areas and reduces the appearance of cellulite. Cost is $399. (remember you have to tip as well so this gets pricey) I discovered you must use your Seapass card for all purchases on the ship EXCEPT in the spa. Here they do allow you to make spa charges on a separate credit card. My husband never knows what I spend in the spa since I discovered that little trick *wink* We chose the main dining at 6pm each night and had a wonderful waiter Andre from Jamaica. There is a free liquor tasting the first night to enjoy free drinks. Each evening you receive a newsletter with information and schedules of all happenings for the next day. Kinda stinks that you can't see the week's events in advance but this is how it works on cruises. DAY 2 at sea 77 degrees and a good day to plan your excursions if you have not already done so. These book quickly as well so a good idea to plan these before boarding if possible. You can go to the Excursions desk on Deck 5 or even book these using the tv in your cabin. There is a Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception where you can have your photo taken with the Captain. This is a formal night. We stop at several of the photo settings and have lots of pictures taken. They are always displayed the next day. Great part - you are not obligated to buy anything. We wait until the last night and choose our favorites that were taken throughout the week. They are $20 each and very professional. Inexpensive way to get top notch family photos! Men's Sexy Legs contest by the pool is always fun to watch. DAY 3 in Labadee Haiti was great. Beautiful beaches to just get sun and relax. Private island owned by Royal Caribbean and food served right on the beach is buffet style and free! Vendors at the straw market seemed especially desperate and pushy compared to other locations. We felt very uncomfortable going through the market because it seemed like everyone pounced on us. I have learned NOT to make eye contact or even respond more than a "No Thank You". Otherwise, you will end up spending money on something you don't even want. If you do decide to shop, you can usually get anything for 1/2 of the original price they quote. My husband needed some Crocs to wear and was told they were $20. We ended up only paying $10. Be sure to bring small bills! I feel badly getting a price down to $5 then handing them a $20. There is a change machine in the casino on board. I make sure to get plenty of $1's, $5's and $10's before each port (need for tips as well) We did the Zipline while on this island. This was worth the experience but would not do again. Was over very quickly and not as scary as it looks. On Youtube, we viewed footage from others who had done this excursion and we are posting our own now. Great to check out youtube to view any of these tours before you book. You get great insight to help decide what is right for you. All ages were on this excursion and I am glad we did this. The after dinner show was Ronn Lucas with puppets. Great show that was appropriate for all ages. Very talented ventriloquist. DAY 4 in Jamaica was my favorite. Booked the Chukka Mt. Bike Ride and loved it! I do not exercise on a regular basis but had no problem with this level of activity. We stopped at a local school and were able to go in and view 1st-8th grade classes in action. Kids loved seeing tourists and teachers paid us no mind. We took pictures and video. At the end, we were bused to a small area to dive and snorkel. Jumping off the small cliff was a little much for me but the men seemed to love it. You are finally offered to purchase photos taken during your bike trek. These are put on a disk and priced 8 photos for $25 and all for $75 (other packages in between were listed as well) I told them I wanted all of the photos but would not pay $75. They gave me all for $25 so don't overpay now that you know! We then asked our excursion driver if he could take us to Dunn's River Falls instead of the port. He took 4 adults there - waited 1 1/2 hrs while we did the falls then returned to the ship. It was $10 person and cheaper then going back to port and using a taxi. Cost at the Falls is $15 person and you need to have crocs or you can rent plastic water shoes for $5 person. MUST wear in falls to keep your footing. I felt this was really dangerous and challenging. Again, we very glad I did this activity. Would not recommend for small children, older adults or anyone who is not atleast moderately fit and agile. Back on board, the Love and Marriage Game Show is hilarious! Must see! DAY 5 in Georgetown, Grand Cayman we enjoyed snorkeling at two locations, one was a ship wreck. This was very close to shore and enjoyable as we relaxed and took it easy. There was a lot of shopping at this port. No flea markets - actual stores. Very clean. Once back on ship, we both loved the show- Once Upon A Time. This was a musical comedy that incorporated familiar fairy tales and familiar pop songs. One of the best shows I've ever seen on a cruise. Very talented singers/dancers. DAY 6 in Mexico was a great place for deals. There is a market right at the end of the pier once you leave the ship. A short cab ride takes you downtown with more shopping. You will find pharmacies where you can purchase medications at a fraction of the cost in America. With my Blue Cross insurance co-pay, I pay $35 for an abuterol inhaler (I have asthma) Here, I purchased 3 of these inhalers for $22! This stop has great flavored tequilas and is known for their vanilla. I have friends who are bakers and they always ask for me to pick up vanilla at this stop. Fun day to relax and shop. I overheard some people refer to this port as junk shopping so I guess it depends on your goal. I think this is a great place for trinkets and souvenirs while other ports may offer more highbrow items such as jewelry or name brand pocket books. DAY 7 was again at sea. Good day to hang out by the pool and relax. Few extras: Cafe Promenade is open 24 hrs and has great ham and cheese croissants. Everyone I know raved! Be sure to not be shy and get one of each item. You are allowed. I always get several items because I am not sure what I will like. The pizzeria on the Promenade has great food as well. If I didn't like what I had in the dining room, these two were sure to please any time of day. I personally don't think it is worth the extra cost to go to the specialty dining. I never see a big difference in the quality of food from the dining room. It was my husbands birthday while on board. I talked to the head waiter and asked if they do anything special. For $15, they made a chocolate cake (with his name) and brought it to the table the night of his birthday and sang Happy Birthday. You do have to let them know a day or two in advance to make/personalize the cake. I'm sure you could do this for any occasion and is actually inexpensive compared to what I expected. I definitely would do this same cruise again! Great experience, great ports and great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
We are in our 40s and this was our third cruise. We've cruised with RCCL and NCL before and had good experiences. Our last cruise was in the early 90s so it felt new to us again. We have traveled extensively and have many experiences ... Read More
We are in our 40s and this was our third cruise. We've cruised with RCCL and NCL before and had good experiences. Our last cruise was in the early 90s so it felt new to us again. We have traveled extensively and have many experiences to compare this to. We flew into Miami the night before and took a cab to the JW Marriott/Miami. It was a nice Hotel and an excellent stay. We took a cab over to the Cruise Terminal around 11:30 am. Check-in was quick and easy. The Freedom was quite impressive. It truly is a big beautiful ship. Loved all of the artwork around the ship. You'll see something different every day. We went to Windjammer for lunch and had no problems (the only time). Afterwards we went exploring the ship and this is when we learned how much RCCL has changed. We were hit with waiters offering us drinks. At first I thought they might be complimentary for new passengers. No such thing! We walked through the beautiful Promenade and there was so much soliciting going on. We weren't prepared for this and were a little put off. I bought the soda package and felt it was worth it. We made our reservations at Chops and the Spa and were able to get good times. I was surprised that there were now fees for many activities like fitness classes. No more Midnight Buffet. We had an aft balcony room on Deck 8 near the elevators. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of the room. I felt the room was well laid out for storage and our bed was comfy. The only time we heard any noise was when our neighbors were on their balcony. Mostly it was quiet and comfortable. We had a wonderful Cabin Attendant and no problems with our cabin. We used the in-cabin WiFi - it was fine. Room service took about an hour after ordering. We had the early dinner seating and nice tablemates. Our waiters were also friendly and efficient. Towards the end of the cruise, service seemed to slow down a bit. The food was ok and pretty much what we expected. Glad I chose early dining as the dinners can run long. I have suffered from seasickness before so I took meclizine prescribed by my Dr and felt fine. This was the smoothest cruise I've ever been on. I hardly felt any movement. We had fantastic weather and seas. Overall, the shows were quite good. Our Cruise Director, Richard Spacey was outstanding. RCCL got lucky with him. He belongs on a real stage somewhere. The entertainment was one of the highlights of the cruise. We also enjoyed the casino. The specialty drinks were quite good. Our first full day at sea started out fine until we tried to find a seat at the pool. We walked around for a long time and there were so many chairs with things on them and nobody sitting in them. This was frustrating. This happened on both sea days. The seating was a little too close for comfort and some of the bathing suits - yikes. Call me old-fashioned, I don't feel a thong is appropriate with 1000 children onboard. I tried to get a quick walk in around the jogging track - forget that - chairs were pulled on the track and there was no way to get around the crowds. I'm not sure when you can use the jogging track. I never used it once. I always enjoyed it on previous cruises. We went to the Gym and it was nicely equipped and no crowds. Everything was fine until you try to find a drink of water in the Gym. If you don't buy a bottle beforehand you are forced to use a small drinking fountain stuck in the corner. I saw people filling water bottles from it. Why couldn't they just provide a pitcher of complimentary water for Gym guests? It did get very hot in there. It was hard to find complimentary drinks anywhere on the ship. Most times I walked to the Windjammer or stood in line at the pool bars. I don't think the bartenders were too happy about filling up prepaid sodas or giving out complimentary water - just my observation. On to the Windjammer - the Buffet. After the first day we couldn't find a seat most of the time. I stuck to fruit and salad as the hot food did not appeal. The desserts were good. Once we stopped down at 3pm and they had a nice afternoon snack selection. The seat situation was quite frustrating. People were also at their worst with pushing and cutting into lines. After a few days, we just avoided going there. The dining room breakfasts tend to run long so the Windjammer was convenient - if you could find a seat. The next day was Labadee. We decided to head over after 10am thinking we'd avoid crowds at the tender. No luck. We soon found out there are crowds at any time. Once at Labadee it was relaxing and we enjoyed it. The water was beautiful but rocky. I enjoyed watching the zipline. Seats were easy to find by the beach. We had a short wait for the tender and the day ended well. The next day was Jamaica and we decided against Dunns River Falls as everyone seemed to be heading there. That was the only place Cab Drivers even offered to take us. This turned out to be a good decision based on other feedback. We walked around, shopped and headed back to the ship. It was nice to just walk on and off the ship. We found the Jamaicans respectful and not that pushy. We've seen it much worse other places. That night I woke up ill and my husband soon after. We both had norovirus. Many people on board were affected. We took every precaution to avoid it. We were too ill to leave our room and missed Grand Cayman. We also had to cancel our scheduled excursion in Cozumel. I was so disappointed we missed our excursions on both islands. I've always read about Norovirus but I never thought we'd get it. Luckily we had a balcony cabin with fresh air. I can't imagine going through this in an inside cabin. Once we left our cabin, it was fully sanitized. They even took the magazines. Our deck was also sprayed with disinfectant. I am still wondering how this was passed on to us. I don't blame RCCL but it makes you wonder about cruise ships, the food, water and cleanliness. We finally felt better on our last sea day and by then the ship was taking every precaution. The food was being served by staff including the entertainers. Passengers were forced to use purell wipes going in and out of most areas. The staff was cleaning non-stop as it was mandatory. I was so afraid of catching it again. I did witness some passengers refusing to use the wipes and heard them say they don't use those things. At this point I just wanted to get off this ship. I'd had enough of the Germ Cruise. We tried to salvage some of our vacation on our last day at sea. The farewell show was quite good. We had to be at our disembarkation station by 6:30 am. What a zoo! Nobody knew what was going on. The staff was rude and some passengers were yelling back at them. When our color was called we were sent to pick up our luggage at the conveyor. Our luggage did not come out for over an hour. All I saw was the same Betty Boop luggage going around for an hour. Where were its owners? Once we had our luggage, everything went quickly. We caught a quick cab to the airport and were able to get an earlier flight home. Looking back, this ship was just too big and crowded. There were times we felt like herded tourists and other times it was like being at Disney. I went to some of the advertised activities and was disappointed. I used to enjoy some of the same activities but they aren't the same. They have turned into a sales pitch or are overpriced. The picture taking is obnoxious. What a massive waste of paper. We tried to watch some of the pool activities but couldn't get close enough to see anything. My husband tried Flowrider and the Climbing Wall. He enjoyed them but felt once was enough. They were mostly taken over by teenagers. I have children under age 12 and am glad I did not bring them. Aside from the pool, I didn't feel there is much for young kids to do. I don't believe it putting them into a playroom while on vacation. I was amazed by how many people brought young children to adult themed shows. I saw babies in strollers being wheeled around after midnight. Different ideas of parenting I guess. Overall, we decided mainstream cruising is probably not for us and will try a Premium Line next time. There were some things we did like about this cruise and are not giving up on cruising yet. I don't think we'll ever return to the Freedom or any of those larger ships they are building. Lastly, aside from our unfortunate experience, I am glad I cruised on Freedom of the Seas. I feel it is a ship worth experiencing. Everyone should try cruising at least once. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2009
Our family included myself, my husband, 6 yr old and 7 yr old boys. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach the night before the cruise and we didn't enjoy it at all. It was very loud all night and we were happy to ... Read More
Our family included myself, my husband, 6 yr old and 7 yr old boys. We stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach the night before the cruise and we didn't enjoy it at all. It was very loud all night and we were happy to leave as soon as we woke up the next morning. We ate breakfast on Miami Beach and had a wonderful time exploring South Beach for a couple of hours before heading to the cruise terminal. My husband dropped us off at the terminal and went to return the rental car. It took him about 30 minutes to get back. There were minimal lines for check in and most people were walking in the ship in a matter of minutes. Our gal seemed new and took quite awhile to get us checked in, but I think we were the exception. We boarded the ship around 1 p.m. and looked around before heading to the Windjammer for lunch. The food was decent and everyone in my family was able to find something they liked. We found a table by the window and enjoyed our lunch before heading to our stateroom. We had a balcony room on deck 8 and we loved it. I was concerned about how small the room would be but it is set up so well that it wasn't a problem at all. We really enjoyed our stateroom and our balcony. We left the pullout couch as a bed the entire cruise and had no trouble moving around it. We used the gym twice and enjoyed it. Good equipment and fabulous view from the treadmills! We ran on the track twice and really liked this. Can there be a better view than the Caribbean sea all around you while you run? I've seen postings where people say that chairs were on the track and they couldn't use it, but that never happened to us, even when we wanted to walk in the middle of the day. We never felt crowded on the ship even though it was spring break and very full (except for the tender lines). We did have trouble finding chairs by the pool. Most of the chairs had people's stuff on them, but I never saw the people. That was disappointing but it certainly wasn't going to ruin our mood! The kids LOVED the H2O zone and the pool. It would get crowded but we never felt like there wasn't enough space to play. The kids loved the kids club. They never went for more than a few hours here and there, but it was just enough to give us all the separate time that we needed. The food on the ship was fine. I was pretty sick of it by the end of the week, but I think that's because it's just not the food I'm used to. But no complaints. We did end up eating in the Windjammer most of the time because the kids liked it so much and the main dining room took us almost 2 hours the first night. The food was very good but we wanted to do other things with our time. We were on the sailing that had the big norovirus outbreak but that's life. RCCL was scrubbing everything day and night to try to keep norovirus under control. Not sure there's much they can do. There is so much to do on this ship and we didn't have time to do most of it. But I think that's part of its charm - you can do as much or as little as you want to do. We enjoyed the sports deck and the pool area the most. The service was good. Our stateroom attendant was excellent. We enjoyed all of the ports. The days went too fast and we felt like we had to leave the ports before we were ready! Tendering would have to be my biggest complaint about the whole cruise, but still not that bad. Labadee was absolutely gorgeous. The kids wanted to go to Luc's Splash, so we checked them in at 9:30 am as part of the kids club and picked them up at 11:30 for lunch. My husband and I then grabbed ourselves a Labadoozie (yummy rum drink) and went through a little of the market. We each brought $30 thinking there would not much we'd want to buy in Haiti. That turned out to be true, but I really wish we would have brought more. Not that the bargains were great or the items terrific, but these people live in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and you can tell they are working very hard. They were all very nice to us and my husband and I felt that if we go back, we want to spend more to help these people out. And you get a t shirt or some shells to take home as a nice souvenir. The beach was awesome. We went to a little cove under the zip line that was protected by a stone jetty. The jetty kept the waves out and the kids could swim around and play. We all really enjoyed this. Dragon's Breath Point is gorgeous. Well worth this short hike. We did the water park at 3 p.m. and there were only 2 other people there! Great time to go. We enjoyed the BBQ lunch. The food wasn't amazing but we still enjoyed it. We didn't go to any shows or participate in the entertainment. We had planned to, but just never got around to it. Disembarkation was a mess. Our assigned time was 6:30, so we got up early, got down to the royal promenade 15 minutes early as requested and waited. And waited... It wasn't the ship's fault. We heard that the custom's officials didn't get there on time. All of the later disembark groups were showing up even though the first ones hadn't gotten off yet and it was really crowded. When we did line up, the line was wound around several floors of stairs and across the Promenade. Coincidentally we had been sitting on the side that got us in line sooner which helped, but I felt bad for the people in the back. We were off the ship around 8 and then waited probably 45 minutes for our luggage. Again, I suspect it was because of the late start with immigration. People were really irritated but there's nothing you can do but wait. When our bags finally got there, a wonderful porter put them on a cart and we breezed through security. He took us to the spot where the Alamo shuttle comes and we waited for about 45 minutes. We double checked that we were in the correct spot and waited some more. One porter told us there were 5 ships in that day and Freedom is the last pickup spot. He said that the shuttle buses often fill up before they get to Freedom. My husband pointed out that all the people in line here would then be in line and Alamo and we'd have to wait again. Didn't sound very good after 3 hours of waiting already that morning. We decided to bite the bullet and get a taxi. It was $30 but well worth it. When we got to Alamo there was a very big line but no one at the self check in. We did this and had our paper work in 5 minutes. The big line had gotten even bigger and there were people crowded everywhere. My husband grabbed our car and we were off to Orlando! Overall, we had an incredible time on Freedom. Sure there were a few frustrations and things that didn't go quite right, but that happens with any vacation and I felt like it never got in the way of having a good time. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
We arrived at the ship at around 1:00 pm.  Registration went smoothly and we had our Seapasses in hand and were aboard in about 20 minutes.  Up the gangway we went to have our picture taken.  The photographer snapped away and off we ... Read More
We arrived at the ship at around 1:00 pm.  Registration went smoothly and we had our Seapasses in hand and were aboard in about 20 minutes.  Up the gangway we went to have our picture taken.  The photographer snapped away and off we went to our stateroom, a balcony on deck eight. ACCOMMODATIONS     We had cruised with RCI twice before on Voyager and Navigator and found the stateroom almost identical except for a flat-screened tv and 1 less shelf to store things.  The dozen roses that I had gotten for my lovely wife were there waiting.  We meet our cabin attendant Mario.  We didn't see him that much during the week but we knew he was around because the ice bucket was always full and the towels were always fresh.  The bed was turned down nightly and interesting towel animals greeted us every night!  The only negative thing I can say about the room was that there were too many hangers in the closet, so I guess we were in good shape.MUSTER     I only want to touch on this.  Muster went orderly and quickly, and before you knew it we were on the top deck watching he Miami skyline go by.FOOD     The food in the Windjammer was always fresh and plentiful.  There was always a table for us.  If you went at prime meal times there was a lot of people, but nothing you couldn't deal with.  Dinner in the main dining room was first seating.  Our waiter Benadict, and his assistant Ebac always had a smile on their faces and would make suggestions.  The found was always brought out quickly, but we never felt rushed.  I had heard that the food quality had gone downhill since the Freedom class vessels were introduced.  I cannot agree with that.  The food was always great.  And there was always plenty of it!  More than once did I take an extra entree or dessert.     Johnny Rocket's offered an alternative for lunch one day.  We did have to wait about 25-30 minutes but it was well worth it.     One night we had dinner at Portofino's'.  While the food and service were excellent, the food was a little slow in coming out and as a result we were late for the show. THE CIGAR LOUNGE Every night we would meet in the cigar lounge for a stoogie and a glass of cognac. The hostess there was extremely attentive to all our needs. You would no sooner flick an ash into the ashtray and it was changed with a fresh one. Of all the people I meet on the cruise the ones I will remember most were the people in the cigar lounge. ENTERTAINMENT     The shows were high quality, just like you'd expect from a Broadway production.  There were a number of comedy shows and each one was top notch.  Throughout the day there was always a trivia contest or bingo or a Men's sexy leg contest going on somewhere.  You were never left with nothing to do.PORTS     Our first port was Labadee.  We didn't book any activities on the island, we just sat on the beach and watched people fly by on the zip line.(next time I've got to try that!)  The weather was perfect.       Our next port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  The excursion we booked was a cruise to Dunn's River Falls and then snorkeling.  Due to a knee injury I passed on the falls climbing.  Instead I took the stairs and photographed the intrepid climbers!  The snorkeling was just okay.  The water was kind of cloudy.  When we got back I volunteered to take everything back to the ship while the rest of our group went shopping.  I dropped of the stuff on the ship and set out to our meeting place "Margaritaville".  On my way two people offered to sell me a souvenir I've never heard of.  And they were quite insistent that it was of such high quality I would surely come back for more.  It was something called "Ganja".  Ever hear of it?  I was pressed for time and couldn't buy any.  However, if I ever return to Jamaica I will have to sample some.  It must be something like a tee shirt or a hat, don't you think?  While I was in Margaritaville it started raining like I had never seen before!  The walk back to the ship was very wet!     Our next scheduled port was Grand Cayman.  Due to high winds and rough seas the tender operators deemed it unsafe so we had to by-pass the island and spend an extra day at sea.  I was very disappointed because I was supposed to go Scuba diving there.       Cozumel was our next port.  In the morning we went shopping and in the early afternoon Arv and I went deep-sea fishing.  The only fish we caught was a barracuda.  But, the whole trip was very relaxing.  We made it back to the ship with a half hour to spare.  We were a little late for dinner but I wasn't about to miss a meal.DISEMBARKING     Because we had an early flight (12 Noon) we were the second group to be called.  We did have to wait for our luggage but when the belt started moving ours were the first three bags on it!  Clearing customs just involved showing your passport.  Belive it or not we were at the airport at 8:15!  We were able to catch an earlier flight and were home before anyone else in our group left Miami!    I still like the intimacy of a smaller ship, but was greatly surprised at the quality of service and accommodations I received.  FREEDOM OF THE SEAS, you are definitely worth a repeat voyage! Elvis Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
My husband and I recently returned from our 8 day/ 7 night voyage aboard Freedom of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean (ports of call: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Martens) and had a fantastic time. We previously cruised with Princess Cruises ... Read More
My husband and I recently returned from our 8 day/ 7 night voyage aboard Freedom of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean (ports of call: San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Martens) and had a fantastic time. We previously cruised with Princess Cruises to Alaska aboard the Dawn Princess a few years ago. We enjoyed both cruises immensely. However, we will probably cruise with Royal Caribbean more in the future because of all the activities (like rock climbing and surfing) that are offered on the ship. The food was much better on Princess Cruises, but I understand that with the economic downturn all the cruise lines are scaling back the sumptuousness of their menus a bit so maybe things have changed with Princess as well. Embarkation on FOTS was MUCH MUCH MUCH easier than any other cruise experience I have had. I cruised with my parents a few times as a kid and I have memories of standing around in a warehouse for hours waiting to get on the ship. The Alaska embarkation was similar waiting in a warehouse for a LONG time to get on board. With RC, we were through security and on the ship in a matter of minutes. Tip: Don't try to be cute and smuggle booze on in your carry-on luggage. This will slow you down. Some people have perfected ways of getting flasks of alcohol on board in their checked luggage (I guess the key is to put it in innocent looking containers and check it instead of carrying it on). The people in front of us, however, had cans of Budweiser right on top of their carry-ons and were pulled out of line so the staff could deal with them. What a waste of time! I have to tip my hat to the folks at the Downtown Marriott in Miami, where we stayed before boarding the ship. According to our instructions from Royal Caribbean, we weren't supposed to try to get on the ship until 2:00 pm. We were going to wait in the hotel lobby until then, but the hotel's staff told us at 11:30 that we could grab a shuttle and get on the ship in the morning. We took a chance that they knew what they were doing and took their shuttle to the ship. They were right and we got to spend a couple of extra hours exploring the ship (and the soft-serve ice cream dispenser) instead of watching CNN in the Marriott's lobby! Yay! Also, another gold star for the Marriott folks, they recommended a restaurant to us called the Knife. It's an Argentine-style restaurant with fantastic grilled meats. All you can eat salad and meat is included in the price (about $26 per person) as well as a dessert and a bottle of wine PER PERSON. Talk about a great deal! The dinners on the cruise were a major disappointment a few evenings. It wasn't awful, but I would liken it to something you would get at an awards dinner held at a nice hotel. It won't amaze you, but it won't feature any truffled sauces or port compotes, but it will be adequate. The nice thing is that the portions are a bit smaller in size so if you can't decide between two appetizer options, you can order them both and it won't stuff you too full of food. I was unimpressed by all the chilled fruit soups everyone had raved about. Sorrento's (FOTS' pizza place) was a wonderful place to grab a quick lunch away from the crush of the Windjammer. However, while the Dawn Princess offered freshly wood-fired pizza, Sorrento's does the baked pizzas most people are familiar with from various cafeterias or mall food courts. Still, the service there was exceptionally friendly and we had our "own" waitress who remembered our names and what we liked to eat. Sorrento's does not have iced tea or coffee, which was inconvenient because you'd have to bring your own from another part of the ship or the waitress would go get it. It does have good desserts. I liked the amaretti cookies and macaroons, my husband liked the tiramisu. The cafe promenade was another favorite of ours. I would stop by early in the morning on the way to the gym to pick up a cup of coffee. After my workout, I'd stop by for more coffee and bring some back to the room for my husband. After the first day, the workers would greet me and ask if I was heading off for a run. When I'd come back from my workout, they'd ask if I had a good run and wish me a good day. I missed one day because of a foot injury and they asked me if I was okay because I'd missed my workout! Keep in mind, these are not the waiters who are assigned to me at dinner, these are the guys at the busy cafe who are doling out pastries (I loved the apricot granola squares) and coffees around the clock! I was very impressed that on one of the world's largest passenger ships so many people were familiar with my habits and went out of the way to make me feel at home. I wish the same could be said for Windjammer itself. Some mornings, we would get great service and people would come by to ask if we'd like coffee or juice. Other mornings, we probably couldn't get arrested if we tried. We'd see tables around us receiving service, but finally I'd have to get up and get our own beverages to go with breakfast. This isn't a huge issue, but cruising in the past was marked by impeccable service. The food overall in the Windjammer was above average for buffets. I usually am not a buffet fan, but this was good. The desserts they offered were always excellent. A note about sushi: I did not see a lick of sushi at the Jade. There are Asian options (seaweed, tofu, miso broth etc and there ARE California-type rolls, but who knows what's in those. The type of sushi I like (fresh fish with rice) was not there. The prices for drinks were surprisingly reasonable. The drink of the day was always over-priced (it includes a souvenir glass). But glasses of wine ran about $6.50 or $7.00 about what you would pay in a low-end chain restaurant. We had a few mixed drinks as well and expected to be charged an arm and a leg but these were also comparable to what a regular bar or restaurant would charge. The service in the main dining room was fine (we were seated at a large table and our waiter had to handle several other large tables. I would recommend sitting at a smaller table. Often, he would be serving dinner to the large table next to us before he'd even taken our order. When you have late seating for dinner, that is torture! The assistant waiter remembered which people at the table liked to have iced tea with dinner, so it was not necessary to order it after the first day. All in all, it was fine but not outstanding. The cuts of meat tended to be fattier than I'm used to and one night my husband's prime rib was over cooked. There are two restaurants on board that I understand are very nice if you pay the $20 or $25 per person cover charge. Our dining companions (all very experienced cruisers) recommended Chops Grille but all dismissed the Portofino restaurant. Next time, maybe my husband and I will give Chops a try. It galls me just a little to have to pay extra for gourmet dining when it was all included on Princess cruises. One last gripe about the food: the menus seemed very disjointed. Every evening a low-calorie menu (part of RC's Vitality program) would be offered. I ordered this one night and was hungry when I left the table. Also, Indian dishes are offered every night. However, sometimes the appetizers don't seem to complement the dishes that are being offered. It's just a bunch of random food choices instead of a pairing of dishes. As I mentioned in my introduction, the shows and the activities more than made up for what the food lacked. On Princess, my husband and I literally cringed at the cheesiness of the shows (it was like amateur Lawrence Welk). The shows and entertainment on FotS is not to be missed. We were amazed at the sets, special effects, dancing and choreography. It was excellent. For this reason, we will probably continue to cruise primarily with RC. I probably don't need to eat all that gourmet food anyway! The staff who worked on the FlowRider and the Rock Climbing wall were very nice, camp-counselor types. Very sporty and positive. I'm not much of an athlete, but I felt very comfortable trying out the activities. My husband did the ice skating but I called it quits after one go-round. With my limited skills, it was too crowded and there were too many expert kids zipping in and out in front of people for me to feel comfortable. It's nice to have the option to ice skate, but it would be better if there were adult only times for skating. I was a little disappointed that so much of the Vitality program (fresh juices, protein shakes, yoga classes, etc.) cost extra on RC. It is still possible to be healthy and active without these extras, but the Vitality program as advertised on the RC website made it seem like yoga and juices were included. That's not the case. The gym was great: large, clean, and all equipment worked (this is a newer ship). I would get there around 7 am and there would be plenty of treadmills, bikes, etc. open. One of my dining companions would get there around 10 or 11 am and everything would be full. If workouts are important to you, I recommend FOTS gym, but get their early or work out at night. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
We drove to New Orleans and stayed the night before at the Hilton across from the airport. We were able to leave our car parked there while we were on the cruise. They brought us to the airport for 4:30am as our flight was at 6:00am. We ... Read More
We drove to New Orleans and stayed the night before at the Hilton across from the airport. We were able to leave our car parked there while we were on the cruise. They brought us to the airport for 4:30am as our flight was at 6:00am. We asked for a wheelchair and they were really accommodating and took very good care of us. We arrived in Miami there was suppose to be a wheelchair waiting and there was not, so we walked to meet our RCI cruise transfer as we claimed our luggage. We were put on the bus to the Port of Miami for around 10:30am. It did not take very long to get on the ship. When we arrived on the ship we were told the room would not be ready until 1:00pm so we did not go to Windjammers, I decided to avoid the crowds and went to Sorrento's Pizza, we were the first ones there as they opened and it was delicious. We each had a slice of pizza and a little chocolate mousse that was outstanding. It was nice sitting there and watching the people as they came in and they were amazed at the beauty of this ship. We then went to Vintage Wine Bar and made friends with Mariyanna. She was wonderful and took care of us the whole trip! My sister is a smoker and there are not many places to smoke, but she could smoke just on one side of the bar in Vintages. I had wine and cheese sent to the room for sailaway which was so nice. Time to eat dinner, early seating, meet our dinner mates and meet our waiter. We enjoyed all of our tablemates and our waiter, Moustafa, and assistant waiter, Olga,were wonderful. Since I had made reservations online for Chops and Portofino I told our waiter what nights we would not be there just as a courtesy to him and our tablemates. Just about every morning we had room service with coffee and pastries or whatever. They would always call the room before they delivered it so that was our alarm clock. It worked out well. We did not have enough people signed up for the Meet & Mingle so we had our own. We met at the Windjammer for lunch on Monday. It was so nice meeting everyone that we had been speaking to online. My sister does not use a wheelchair normally but with all of the walking back and forth on the ship we did go to guest relations and they gave us a wheelchair to use. There was no charge. It saved her energy so much. If you cannot walk for long periods of time, this is a large ship and it is a lot of walking. You should rent a wheelchair or a scooter, it is well worth it to conserve your energy. Dinner at Chops was outstanding. We had Supra as our waiter and Honey as our assistant waiter. The steaks were comparable to Ruth Chris and so was the service. We even found the wine we like at home on the menu, Cakebread, we were so excited! There is a large selection of wine at Chops. Dinner at Portofino's was also very good. We had Jaimie as our waiter and Marie as assistant waiter. The food was very good but the desert sampler was the best desert on the ship. Ate at Johnny Rockets on Thursday while still in port of St. Maarten. It was around 1:30pm or 2:00pm, great time to go, not many people in there. They even gave us nickels to put in the little juke box at our table. They danced for us. The burger and onions rings and fries were great. Seattles Coffee shop had great free coffee and really good little ham & cheese croissants. Great place for lunch as was Sorrentos. Windjammers is good but my sister rather avoid the crowds. Ice Show was outstanding. Schooner Bar - Matt Yee, he puts on a great show. He has everybody participate. Great fun!! Bear & Pub had great entertainment also. Olive & Twist (Viking Crown Lounge) had a great live band that played music my sister enjoyed, we are 17 years difference, to the music I enjoy,70's rock and roll. The Crypt had dance music, it was fun. Casino - we both played a little and I won a little. Clo was the cruise director, she was fun and full of energy. We did have 13 foot seas on Tuesday but all we did was put our seabands on and neither one of us ever felt sick. I love those little things. Even though it was high seas it was just a gentle rocking nothing horrific. It was the day we were sailing to San Juan and we were not going to get there until 4:30pm so we decided we would just stay in and watch movies and ordered room service until we would get there. Formal nights were Monday and Thursday night. Lobster night was Friday night. Friday morning we had a Platinum & Diamond breakfast at 9:30am, we sat with the head of all the Food & Beverages in all the dining rooms. It was very informative. We did the Valet Luggage service. It was $20 per person. It was so worth it. The last night we had boarding passes and airline luggage tickets, to put on our luggage, waiting on our bed for us. The next day we had the wheelchair we used and they had someone escort us off of the ship and brought us right to our RCI transfer to the Miami airport. We did not have to go and claim our luggage when we got off the ship. When it left our room on the last night we did not see it until we arrived back at our final airport destination. When we got to the Miami airport we just had to go to our departure gate. Overall - Thanks to all the people associated with the MSF Cruise. We are so glad we attended the MSF Cruise for a Cause cruise. Thanks to Karen because if it weren't for you we would not have gone on the this cruise. Through Cruise Critic I was able to ask you what the this cruise was all about. Thank you for being so helpful! We met a lot of wonderful people and received a lot of great information. We also had time to enjoy ourselves and see wonderful places that will last a lifetime. We never saw anyone without a smile on this ship. We hope to go back one day!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
We just returned from our Feb. 8 cruise on Freedom of the Seas. We are both 60, and our 31 year old daughter went with us. This was our 33rd cruise and our daughter's 14th cruise. I have to start out with Freedom is one of the ... Read More
We just returned from our Feb. 8 cruise on Freedom of the Seas. We are both 60, and our 31 year old daughter went with us. This was our 33rd cruise and our daughter's 14th cruise. I have to start out with Freedom is one of the most beautiful ships we have been on. We did have some fears about crowds and waiting lines since we usually do not go on ships this big, however we found out quickly we had nothing to worry about. They are so organized we never waited in line once, even at the buffet. We don't experience that on smaller ships! Pre Cruise We flew in FLL on Saturday and rented a car from Hertz. When I was researching for a hotel I found they were really expensive this year in Fort Lauderdale. We ended up staying right outside FLL in Weston at a Marriott Residence Inn. Beautiful hotel and included breakfast all for $135. A real bargain considering the other prices I was getting. I booked this through the Marriott website. We did some shopping at Saw Grass Mills Outlet Mall, wife and daughter needed some shorts and sandals - hard to get those items in the cold snowy Midwest this time of year. We also picked up some pop and water for the cruise. Ate dinner at Chuck's Steak House on 17th Street in FLL. Thank you fellow cruise critic members for that suggestion. The food was great. Embarkation Sunday morning we got up, had the free breakfast at the hotel. They put out a really nice spread including waffles you could make for yourself. We decided to take a quick trip to South Beach since my daughter had not seen it, then off to the ship. We took our Garmin along on the trip and had no problem getting around. We got to the ship about 11:00 dropped off my wife and daughter and all the luggage. They went inside and waited while I returned the car. I rented from Hertz because their drop off point is only about ½ mile away and they have a van that brings you back to the port for free. Very convenient. Check-in was a breeze. They have their act together. Then on to security for a picture. This on the one area that I got a little annoyed at. My wife has had chemo and this trip was a celebration that she would be off it for a couple of months. She was wearing her scarf instead of her wig, and for the picture they made her take her scarf off. I understand security but really what is the difference between a scarf and a wig, they wouldn't make her take her wig off. I explained it to them but to no avail. Every time we left the ship and came back on, she had to remove it unless she was wearing her wig, which is uncomfortable when it is hot. Oh well we got use to it and decided to laugh about it instead of getting embarrassed. After all we called it the mark of a champion, she had made it through that round of chemo. Room We were in 6592. Very nice room with a balcony. One little let down here, the room I had asked for was suppose to be one with a pull out couch, well we had a bed that dropped from the ceiling right over our heads. Went to the Purser but of course the ship was full, so we just went with the flow. Only hit my head on the bed twice. We had plenty of room and the couch was comfortable. We also had plenty of closet space and lots of hangers - we always bring extra from the dry cleaners too. The shelving in the closet was great to put the t-shirts, etc. on. Bathroom was nice, could have used a little more storage, but made due. The shower is nice with its rounded shape. For some reason I wanted to change into my Superman outfit every time I closed the door. (maybe you have to be from my generation to understand that one). Our room steward Tamera was great. She could not do enough for you and always put her special touches on the room. She was sick for 1 ½ days and we could tell when she did not do our room. Food One thing is for sure, you will not go hungry on this ship. From the buffet to the little stores along the promenade there is always something to munch on. My favorite was the fresh mozzarella balls at Sorentino's - word of warning, the pickled onions are really strong. I will not go into a lot about the food as a lot has already been said, but I have to say one big disappointment was the beef in the dinning room. I bet I could get 40,000 miles off of a couple of those pieces! We had surf and turf one night - usually filet and lobster - not here, shrimp and shoulder steak! Shoulder steak is tough unless you stew it. Everyone at our table who had it, did not eat it. Another night my wife and another at the table had the sirloin steak - once again shoe leather. The only exception to the beef fiasco was the prime rib. That was very good. Yes they have the steak from Chop's for $14.95, but like the people in the Cruise Critic poll, I just have a thing about paying extra for something in the dinning room. I did talk to the head waiter about the steaks and he had that look on like a lot of people have been telling him that. Also there is no longer Rack of Lamb on the menu, it is now Lamb Shanks. Quite a difference between the two. We did have great table mates, shout out to Chrissy and Rich. Our waiter and asst. waiter were good, didn't interact much, don't even remember their names, but the service was good and that is what counts. By the way, they changed one of the formal nights. Previously formal nights were Monday and Friday. It is now Monday and Thursday. I asked our head waiter about it and he said they did it from feedback from the guests because Friday is lobster (if that is what you want to call the over grown shrimp) night and people didn't like being dressed up eating lobster. Didn't bother us which night it was, except my daughter and wife brought their red dresses to wear for Valentines day. They still looked festive on Thursday! Service Overall the service was excellent. Lots of officers walking around and talking to guests, when you did have a problem they took care of it right away - to told our room steward that the door handle on our room was loose and within 30 minutes there was someone there to fix it. I also went down to the purser's desk to talk to them regarding the Muster Drill. My wife is not able to go up and down stairs or stand for a long period of time. No problem, they sent a wheel chair to our room. I asked them if I could keep it longer and they said sure, keep it the whole week - no charge! Anything we needed it was taken care of. Could not have asked for anything more. The cruise director was one of the best we have had in all of our cruises (Hello Clo). Not overbearing and in your face all the time but a great personality and staff. Ship in General As I mentioned earlier, the ship is beautiful. This was our first exposure to the Promenade and it sold us almost immediately The parade, the 70's dance party, the bars and food places, and just a nice place to sit and relax and people watch. We did the Flow Rider. Don't let anyone tell you that you are too old to do it. As I mentioned I am 60 and by no means a health fanatic (I brought my sneakers to go to the gym but they never made it out of my bag, does that give you a hint) It was a ball. I did the boogie boarding, never worked up the courage to do the surfing. Daughter did the rock climbing wall - I sat and had a drink and watched her. Lots of music all around the ship all kinds to fit everyone. The ice skating ring is great and the show is well worth seeing. We usually don't go to the shows because after the number of cruises we have been on, they are all the same, but take my word for it, the ice show is different and well worth it. We also like the solarium. Great place to relax. The "Deck Patrol" was out at all the pools. Not sure what they did, they were like hall monitors in yellow shirts. The chair hogs were out in force also, but you almost expect that. One excuse I can give the chair hogs on this ship over others is you have to go someplace to get food. Other ships usually have a grill or pizza by the pool not on this ship. The Steam room and Sauna in the Men's locker room were very good. Once again on the service side I mentioned that the sauna was not that hot, and by the time I came back from taking a shower there was someone in there working on it. It got hot after that. Just a quick note on drinks - yes the price have gone up. My first drink I was sitting next to someone and asked what they were drinking since it looked good and they said a Pina Colada with a double shot of Meyers dark rum. Decided to order one. The bill came and it was $14. I needed that double shot of rum to overcome the shock! On norm drinks are around $7 - $9 each. For example Bahama Mama was $7.95 plus 15%. I usually drink Absolute and 7 when I am home and they were only $5.95 plus 15% I don't consider that bad. Ports of call I am not going to go into detail regarding the ports as there is plenty out there on the boards, just a couple of quick notes. For the first 2 days we hit into 40 and 50mph head winds. Could not do anything outside, some decks were closed, etc. This meant that we got into San Juan around 5:00. All tours were canceled and refunded. This was handled very well by the ship. St. Martin - Daughter did the Zip Line, had fun, would have liked it more challenging. There is an advanced one but the ship does not offer it. We just walked around the port area. Been there so many times, nothing new. I was suppose to do the Catamaran that goes over to Tintamar island but it was too windy and they were going to the other side of the island instead. I went up to excursions and they gave me a refund - once again great service. St. Thomas - Went to our jeweler, wife go diamond and emerald earrings, she was happy, daughter got a blue diamond and diamond ring and earrings, she was happy. I got the bill. I went to Paradise Point and had a couple of drinks and was happy. By the way, found that the tickets to Paradise Point through the cruise line was actually $2.00 cheaper per person than buying them at the ticket window. Don't see that too much. They also have a trampoline up there now. They tie bungee cords on to you and raise you up. You can get pretty high. Daughter did it, I had a drink - is there a theme here? Did not mean for this to be so long, but we really had a great time and RCCL did a great job. If they can only get the "beef issue" fixed it would be a 100% great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
This was the 8th Cruise for a Case sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. I have only been present for 3 of these cruises and all have been with RCCL. We have been treated fabulously since I have joined the group. We flew into ... Read More
This was the 8th Cruise for a Case sponsored by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. I have only been present for 3 of these cruises and all have been with RCCL. We have been treated fabulously since I have joined the group. We flew into Fort Lauderdale on Southwest 5 days before embarkation. Stayed at our time share in Miami. A beautiful Marriott property. Rented our car from Thrifty, great service and good car. Enjoyed day trips to Key West and Sanibel Island. Got my share of shells. Would love to go back. Freedom is the largest ship to date and believe me I was happy to walk every inch of her. She is truly a city within a city. Beauty, serenity, and relaxation await all who sail her. We had no problems boarding. It was quick and easy. The Windjammer Cafe was open and ready to serve us. Our stateroom was ready on time and our luggage arrived about a half hour after we left port. Quick and speedy. What a relief. Our balcony stateroom was the perfect place to be after leaving Miami. Meals aboard are so good and one can easily overdo but they do try to make servings more reasonable so you really have to work hard to over eat too much. The wait staff are always very courteous and very helpful especially for those needing a helping hand at the buffet's. Our dining room waiter Andre and his assistant Alphonso were wonderful and so pleasant to have serve us. If it is activity you seek it abounds aboard this ship. We especially loved the Ice Show and the stellar performance they gave. The casino is always the place of choice for my husband, and I love all the water activities. The flow rider was a ball to watch, my husband enjoyed his time riding the waves. The shows are phenomenal and the staff are superb. We had some really rough water under us though. 20-40 foot waves on the first 2 days at sea and force 10 winds battered us on deck. We still stood at the railing and watched the sunsets and enjoyed the pools and hot tubs especially the two cantilevered tubs in the Solarium. Only thing that could make them better is if the bottoms were see through. We were over an hour late into our first port of San Juan. Unfortunately because of that all excursions were cancelled. Sure wanted to see Bacardi again and take my hubby to El Morro Fort. Gives us something to go back for. The shopping was great and probably spent too much on jewels but he forced me to. hahaha! The weather gratefully improved overnight and it was bright and sunny and warm in St. Thomas. We went helmet diving on water scooters. The boat ride out to the bay was great. Lots of waves and soaked before we put a toe into the water. Not one moment of worry snorkeling, getting into the helmut and onto the scooters. Even for my hubby who doesn't swim. The staff on the boat were fabulous. They took pictures with our own camera and were just a kick to be around. We have some wonderful memories and some funny pics of us riding under the waves. We completed our day with the Skyride to Paradise. How beautiful the view was, especially if you walk to the very top. We had a light lunch and a nice cold frozen Bailey's Bushwacker drink. They are to die for. But watch how many you drink. Would love the recipe for that. Next day found us in St. Maarten. Even more beautiful than St. Thomas. We were delayed an hour leaving on our excursion and we were forced to cancel the second excursion we had planned as time would not allow. We went on the Lord Sheffield Tall ship trip. The sail boat was amazing. We left port. Lifted the sail and flew to the mooring site for the boat. We were served drinks, appetizers, barbecue, and desert. I was the first one off to snorkel. The water was a bit murky because of the previous bad weather but the owner of the boat had a pontoon float in the water that you could snorkel to and there were a bunch of fish hanging out under it. Got to take some pics with the camera. Even saw Barracuda's floating in the water. Again the crew on the sail boat were wonderful. Kept you sure footed if you needed help and made it a most enjoyable excursion. Cab ride back to the ship was $3.00 per person but it was worth it. Lots of shopping at all ports. Got lots of great memories. To sum it all up. We loved Freedom and RCCL. The week was too short, would love to have done a back to back on her. The Cruise line has bent over backward for those of us with Multiple Sclerosis, WE have to thank them for keeping the gangways clear by removing our scooters and wheelchairs every evening and delivering them to us in the am as requested. The staff on this ship has been well educated to our needs and that is a very special thing. Each and everyone of the staff needs to be commended. Thank You RCCL for the wonderful experience. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
My sister and I flew into Miami at 8:30am and picked up our bags,which were first to come off the plane. We took a taxi for $24 and arrived at the port around 10:00am. We were led to the upstairs where we waited for check-in. We were able ... Read More
My sister and I flew into Miami at 8:30am and picked up our bags,which were first to come off the plane. We took a taxi for $24 and arrived at the port around 10:00am. We were led to the upstairs where we waited for check-in. We were able to check in around 10:40 and then we were on the ship by 11:00am This was one of the easiest check-ins I have ever encountered. We went to the buffet which was just ok. I love Royal Caribbean, but they do need improvement on their food,both in the dining room and buffet. We walked around and explored the ship,since it was our first time on the Freedom. We were both so impressed at what we saw. I cannot believe they can build something bigger and better than this. Ok we were able to go to our room around 1:30 so we did. We had a Promenade room on 6th floor right above the Promenade mall. It was awesome. We didn't get our luggage until around 5:00pm so we just went and explored more of the ship. Our dinner was first seating at 6:00pm so we got ready and went to dinner. We had a table for two which I enjoy. It's not that I am anti-social, but I don't like having to wait on people that are late for dinner.I have to say that out of my last 12 cruises he was the best waiter I have ever had. He was soooo funny. He even did card tricks for us.His name was Christofer,but I am not sure if this is the correct spelling. He was from Manila. His wife also worked on the ship and was just as sweet as can be. We were in Issac's dining room. The second day of the cruise was our meet and mingle that Royal Caribbean has set up for us. I really enjoyed meeting new friends that I had been talking to on cruise critic. They only gave one door prize which really surprised me. In the past they have always given at least five. I always make pictures with magnetic paper to put on my door which helps to find our cabin. I have done this each and everytime I cruise and have never had any stolen. Ok so this time they stole them off my door,which really disappointed me. I'm sure it were kids that took them. The casino on the ship is pretty big, but I lost alot of money.If you are going on this ship anytime soon, please tell JJ that Janice from Louisiana says hi. I had 3,000 pts on my card.That should tell you how much I played in there every single day and night. The shows were ok. I have seen better. I did go to the ice-skating show twice. I think the skaters were better on the Voyager. I mean they were good, but not as good as previous cruises. I did like the farewell show. PORTS : We really didn't do any excursions since I had been to these ports before. We did do alot of shopping. We went to the Sheraton in San Juan to try our luck in the casino. We also went to the Coach outlet store since I wanted to buy a purse. You can walk there but it's an uphill walk. We wished we had taken a cab there and then just walked back downhill. In St. Maaren we went to a casino also. We did buy souvenirs here since I think this is the best port for that. In St. Thomas I found the prices a little higher. If you have never done a skyride,then this is the place to do it. It takes you to the top of a mountain and what a beautiful view. They even have a few shops and a bird show up there. We had a flight out of Miami at 10:30am so we did the express check-out. The ship says it arrives at 7:00am but we were off the ship and had gone through customs by 6:30am. We took a taxi back to the airport and had to actually wait for our fight for a little over 3 hours. I have to say this was the best ship I have ever been on. What a fantastic crew. They were so friendly and so helpful. I would do this ship again in a heartbeat. I do think the time passed entirely too fast and I was not ready to get off of this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
This trip was planned to celebrate my Great Niece's 16th birthday. It blossomed into a cruise for 18. Included were ages 10 to 60, with every age group represented. My wife also uses a scooter for mobility issues so this adds another ... Read More
This trip was planned to celebrate my Great Niece's 16th birthday. It blossomed into a cruise for 18. Included were ages 10 to 60, with every age group represented. My wife also uses a scooter for mobility issues so this adds another facet into this review. The travel agent was contacted, reservations for the ship were made, 1-E1 handicapped, 2-E1 balconies, 1-Promenade and 1-4 person inside. The Pittsburgh contingent made flight reservations via Air Tran for non-stop to Ft. Lauderdale, the Charlotte crew to Miami. We had originally planned to take our own scooter on the planes and onboard ship but one-week prior our scooter had major maintenance issues (batteries) so we wound up renting a scooter to use on board. Painless process, the only downside is rental on a ship is separate from any ground rental. So if you are arriving early or staying late you need to make separate arrangements for a scooter/wheelchair. The flight down was great, the wife, son and I were able to up-grade, for a fee, to business class. In our opinion worth the $70 each. We were met by SAS transportation and driven directly to the pier at Miami. Porters took care of our luggage and we were off for check-in. Wife and I were taken to the head of the line, at this time she is in a wheelchair. We were escorted to a special lounge to await boarding via a wheelchair from the ship. Total time from arrival at the port to this stop was about 10 minutes. It is now 11:00 and the ship was not ready for us yet. At about 11:30 we were allowed to board. Up the elevator to the very gentle ramp onto deck 4 where we did the picture thing with the rest of the Pittsburgh contingent (we met up with them on deck) The wheelchair escort, from the ship, was going to take us up to the Windjammer, but we asked to go to the pool deck where we sat in at a pool side table until 1:30 when I went to our very spacious cabin and retrieved the scooter that was waiting there for her. Now it was time to explore, what a ship! The Promenade is just breath-taking the shops and restaurants are amazing. I was to meet some of my CC M&M crowd at the Bull & Bear at 2:00. I managed to run into two, with their spouses. We met the rest throughout the evening and at the M&M Monday. We went to the cabin to meet Karen our stateroom attendant and get out orange sport coats for the Mustard drill as it was approaching 4:00. Sail away went without a hitch and we did a little more exploring before we unpacked and got ready for dinner and the Superbowl. While most of us had our Steeler attire on we hit the dining room to meet Chris and Lufty our waiter and assistant. After a quick, and I mean quick, first dinner, we joined the rest of the party in Studio B for the last 3 quarters of the game. They took the ice rink and covered it with flooring and set up a projection TV on the stage area for us. RCI sent hot dogs and other "munchies" for the game. My son even won "The best seats in the house" for the second half. It was two overstuffed leather lounge chairs that he shared with the youngest great niece. They did have plenty of libation available but not enough bottle openers, we made due. We all know the outcome of that game. GO STEELERS ! ! Now onto the first visit to the Connoisseur Club, Aka The Cigar Lounge, where we met Chan (pronounced Chun). This woman, in my as well as many others, opinion is the epitome of Gold Anchor Service. During the cruise many of us spent every one of the seven nights at the Lounge with Chan. You need to experience it. Monday, sea day #1 breakfast at the WJ. Explore, shop, eat (an on-going problem) gamble, cigars, and pizza at Sorrento's. Their pizza is probably second only to '80s vintage Costa for taste. What very little they lacked in taste they more than made up for in variety of pizza as well as salads and light deserts. Again, impeccable service, My wife was so happy with the service at Seattle's Best she bought an espresso so she could add a tip. She stopped every day for a little nosh and or coffee, which she said, was fantastic. Tuesday, Labadee, Haiti. This is the first of two tendered ports. My son and I went to the tender deck and were directed from the aft, almost to the bow to the end of the tender line. That being said, the line, once it started, moved very quickly. We had nothing planned so we visited beaches on both sides of the peninsula, the ocean side was very rocky with broken coral, but both beaches were very nice. There were hammocks all around for relaxing. The little market was nice. Yes, the natives hounded you but stopped as soon as you made a negative remark or gesture. We stayed about an hour and went back to play a little in the casino. This was our Great Niece's 16th birthday and we did cake in the Main Dining room to a serenade by the wait staff. Great Show in the Arcadia Theater. Wednesday, Ochos Rios, Jamaica. The family went horseback riding on the Montego Bay side and had a blast. The wife and all got as far as the customs shed and were rained out. We went back to the fantastic ship for a game of cards. After dinner, an early cigar encounter with my new friends. Thursday, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, NOT. The weather was too bad to tender so we had another day at sea. More of the same R&R. Nothing special just enjoying our family and the sea. Friday, Cozumel, Mexico, Wife, son and I went on shore. We did some light shopping and son and I rented scooters for a whirlwind trip around the island. He got a flat. The Charlotte contingent went to the ruins on the "Vomit Comet" ferry. Other than the boat ride, they said it was a lot of fun. The evening show had the new cast performing in their debut as the old cast was leaving with us at the end of their contracts. GREAT JOB. More cigars. Saturday, Sea day, what can I say the end is drawing near. We've spent a week on this wonderful ship with this fantastic crew. The final show was a magic/production show that was very good. The addition of the shipboard cast made the show though. The last night for cigars. I will truly miss the attentive service if Chan in the Connoisseur Club. I made it a point to not only write a personal note to Chan's supervisor but asked her to call him up to the club and had a very nice chat about my favorite RCI employee. Sunday, THE LAST DAY. Debarkation. I like the new rules; we stayed in our cabins until around 9:30 when our color was called. Of course we left for our final WJ breakfast. We got all the crew and luggage together and proceeded to the Bolero lounge so wife could swap her rented scooter for a wheelchair to get through the port. We were escorted off the ship into the Port offices and collected our baggage. The Porter, with the help of the wife's wheelchair status got us through customs quickly where we met our transport service for the trip to Miami and Ft Lauderdale airports. The flight home was uneventful, we didn't an upgrade this time but you can't be lucky all the time. Opinion time: Freedom of the Seas is a wonderful ship with almost every imaginable thing on board. From rock walls, golf courses, surfing, dining and first run shows. Although this was only my fourth cruise, I missed some of the intimacy of a smaller, but not tiny like the old Costa Rivera. Don't get me wrong, Freedom and its sisters are great vessels and I'm planning another trip on Independence in December. The crew was is usual friendly self. Exceptions among them were, of course, Chan in the cigar lounge, Karen our cabin steward and EJ from the sports staff. EJ hosted the Superbowl party and being a diehard Arizona fan learned the lesson that the game is 60 minutes long not 59min 30sec. He always stopped to at least say hello and most time shake my hand in congratulations. Seas were a little rough but not bad. Yes I am disappointed we didn't stop in Grand Cayman because I REALLY wanted to do the stingray swim, but I'm much better off alive and intact to return to do it. Thanks Crew for keeping the passengers first. Food was VERY good. We didn't do Chops or Portifino, I don't know why it just didn't "trip our trigger". Johnny Rocket's is OK, I'm glad I had a C&A coupon though. Windjammer is Windjammer, Jade is a nice addition but nothing to write home about. Service in the Main dining room could have been better, our assistant waiter had priority problems, do I do butter, water, rolls? The headwaiter, Eric was a joy we saw him many times each evening. We NEVER saw a maitre' de. We were very impressed with the backstage tour from the technical aspect and performers view as well. The kids did not participate in any of the Adventure Ocean programs, as they are all very comfortable with us old folks and we with them. Had a grand time playing games and just being around them. Again, great ship, I can't wait until December to experience Independence of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
BACKGROUND: We are a family of 2 ads and 2ch (aged 6 and 5) from England, we love holidays and myself and my wife are fairly well travelled (cruised twice before once with RCI on sovereign of the seas and once with P and o on Oriana). We ... Read More
BACKGROUND: We are a family of 2 ads and 2ch (aged 6 and 5) from England, we love holidays and myself and my wife are fairly well travelled (cruised twice before once with RCI on sovereign of the seas and once with P and o on Oriana). We wanted to test the kids with a longish flight and give them a bit of wow factor in terms of the ship and the Caribbean(not to dump them in kids club). Which is why we decided to book the Freedom of the seas. PRE CRUISE: Flew virgin LHR - MIA great service and kids were fine. We stayed at the Hilton hotel on Biscayne boulevard 2nts prior to the cruise. The hotel was great in all aspects and I would definitely stay there again. (I have posted a review on the hotel on trip advisor if your interested (paid £98 per night for room with 2 double beds). EMBARKATION: Picked up from hotel at 1130. 5 min drive to terminal. Cases dropped off by driver to porters and that was the last we saw of them until about 1630 (no tip required). Got through Passport and security and check in, in only 20 minutes. So from hotel to stepping on board the ship took no more than 40 minutes. THE SHIP: is absolutely incredible, (where do I start). The royal promenade is like a shopping mall street on deck five and is absolutely stunning, it houses all the things listed in previous reports, and all of them are great. Every time I got in one of the glass lifts it was a real joy to look down and over the street as you go up to the pool deck (11). The pools are fantastic. Our children loved the kids H2O pool and the 2 Jacuzzis within them (the Jacuzzis are soooooo warm). When we boarded the ship the kids saw it and wanted to go straight in as the weather was sunny, so we spent about 2 hours playing in the kids H2O pool and had it all to ourselves FANTASTIC (water a little chilly though)don't forget to put your swimmers in your carry on luggage. Family pools were also fab and there are 3 further larger Jacuzzis here. We did not use the adults solarium pool, but that also looked gorgeous. The pool areas and sun beds got a little busy on sea days, but our experience on the first sea day was great. After breakfast in the windjammer we ventured up to the pool area to settle down for a fun day, we got there at around 10am and had virtually the pick of whatever sun beds we wanted so picked a couple right by the H2O. By about midday most of the beds were in use, but at no stage did the pools or the pool areas feel over crowded, busy yes but not over crowded. Flowrider is great fun, neither of my kids could do boogie boarding or stand up surf as they are shorter than the required 52" and 58" for stand up. during the day there is always a line to do flow rider so I avoided it and got up early one morning and got there at 9am with only 3 other people, and had a few goes at stand up which was great fun and really quite difficult. Climbing wall is also a lot of fun. STATEROOM: We had an inside on deck 8 forward. Drop down beds from the ceiling for the kids. No complaints with the cabin. Great hot shower with good pressure. Overall good storage but would be a little difficult with older children or teens as we struggled a little ourselves. DINING: The dining room is very impressive, spread over 3 floors and a fabulous sweeping staircase and a huge chandelier. However we were placed in a room which sits just off the main dining room which meant we could not see the grandeur of it all and missed the waiters singing and parading on a couple of nights. However we did not let this bug us and stayed where we were. Our waiters Banu and Andray were fabulous and really looked after us with remembering drinks etc and often letting us try dishes we were not sure about whilst ordering a reserve if we did not like them. They loved the children and the children loved them. The food however is good but not top quality gourmet, we never had a problem with choice and had no problem eating the meals but don't expect it to be like "the Ivy". I know they have to cater for a lot of people and I give them 11 out of 10 for effort but it does affect the quality. The windjammer was great for breakfasts and lunch, we always found somewhere to sit without too much searching and the choice of food is plentiful and pretty decent. The tables were cleared and cleaned very quickly, but the carpet always looked like it could do with being hoovered. Pizza at Sorrento was really nice. Cakes and coffee at the promenade cafe were also really nice (would go down here every morning at around 0730 to get tea and coffee and take them back to the cabin before breakfast, would walk down the royal promenade and virtually have it all to myself). SERVICE: was great from everyone member of staff I met, they were all so friendly and helpful. KIDS CLUB: Now I know I said that we did not want to dump the kids in kids club, but our youngest wanted to try aquanaughts 3-5 year olds, so she went one afternoon and absolutely loved it. She would ask to go every day and even missed the shows sometimes so she could go. So I guess kids club gets a big thumbs up as well. ENTERTAINMENT: The shows were fantastic, as good if not better than some of the west end shows I have seen. Richard Spacey the cruise director was very good, but I believe that this was his last week on the ship (we did not find out where he was going). The street shows were also great, and very busy but I felt that the big crowd only enhanced the atmosphere. Ice show is not to be missed. Its no problem getting tickets. AOB: Price of drinks: We bought soda passes for my wife (doesn't drink alcohol) and both kids and cover all branded sodas in all the bars, they are available when you get on board in all the bars (they put a sticker on your seapass) adult pass was 6 dollars per day plus gratuity and kids was 4 dollars per day plus gratuity. We felt that by the end of the week the pass was really good value. A bottle of beer will cost approx 5 dollars inc grat, the nearest to a real ale they do is Murphys red (draught) (it tastes like bottled ale as it is carbonated and served v chilled) this was 6 dollars inc grat. Wine at dinner started at 6 dollars a glass up to a lot more. A bottle of wine started at about 26 dollars and up plus grat. So with the dollar rate pretty bad at the mo, its not cheap. With over 4000 passengers on board we always managed to find places to relax and never felt crowded and found it very easy to get around what is a monster of a ship. We found that early mornings were great as everything is empty, ie. royal promenade, pools, cantilevered Jacuzzis and flowrider. The people on board (half American and only 128 from the UK) were really friendly, especially the Americans, who often made a fuss of the children and would mostly always have a nice chat with us. However some people from other nations seem to be short on basic manners. I lost count of the number of times I had trouble to get out of a lift due to people not waiting to let people out before getting in, or would just try and push in lines (particularly the ice rink) I have to say that these people seemed to come from South America and Southern Europe (Italy) (sorry to name names but its true). WEATHER IN JAN: Mostly like an English summer (not baking hot) we had a couple of showers and Grand Cayman was a waste of time as the weather was grey and cold (stingray city was closed due to choppy condition GUTTED!!!) I will probably go later in the year next time. Anyway I have written more than I intended, so will sum up by just saying we all had a fantastic time (both kids said best holiday ever). I am already planning to book another and will stick to Royal Caribbean as all round they are fab. Don't forget that the coffees and cakes and pizzas etc are all included in your price. Except speciality coffee and Ben and Jerry's ice cream (free ice cream available from the sprinkles machine a the pool deck. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
Getting There: I flew into MIA the day before. I actually had missed my flight that morning and had to pay Delta $50 to move me to the next one. I will say that Delta has made great strides in recent years with their service. I connected ... Read More
Getting There: I flew into MIA the day before. I actually had missed my flight that morning and had to pay Delta $50 to move me to the next one. I will say that Delta has made great strides in recent years with their service. I connected in Atlanta (of course) and about half the plane was recognizably gay and going on this cruise. The plane had interactive televisions in every seat, so us gays played trivia against each other, and got quite into it. Embarkation: Freedom is a huge ship and I expected longer lines than I experienced. The layout of the boarding was different from when I sailed with Royal on their smaller vessels. Previously the longest lines were for the check in desk, and once through them you walked directly onto the ship. In this case there was no line for the check-in (and at 1:30 too!) but once done there we had to wait in a lobby area for them to call our color to board. The wait wasn't long at all however. The Cabin: Huge! I was surprised by how large it was. We had a D2 superior balcony stateroom and it felt like a standard sized hotel room. I would have been comfortable living there long term if I could afford it. The colors and artwork were neutral enough that I didn't really notice them, which I consider to be a good thing. The bathroom was larger than I expected and the shower was really amazing; you can fit two in it, trust me ;). I loved the circular shape and curved glass doors. I have a weird habit of sitting down in hot showers and relaxing for an hour; on other ships the nasty curtain sticks to me and cold air flows in under it. Freedom's shower was my mini-spa for the week and I wouldn't change a thing about it. The balcony was larger than I expected and had plenty of room to spread out. I had breakfast on it one morning while we were in Haiti and it was great. There were two chairs and a small side table on the balcony, but with all of the space RCCL gave us it would have been nice to have one lounger out there as well. We even were able to sleep with the balcony door open for three of the nights because the weather was the perfect temperature for it. The sound of the waves, wind and distant dance music from the pool deck was a great way to fall asleep. Dining: This was by far the biggest disappointment onboard. Atlantis forces RCCL to make all the dining open seating during their cruises which when combined with the flat-rate prepaid gratuities led to questionable, if not downright bad service. I missed the classic set seating service of having the same waiter who learns your preferences and tries to make your dining experience great. The food was also disappointing; although never bad, it was also never particularly good. Majesty of the Seas had amazing food every night so this was a letdown. The main dining room is absolutely stunning however. It is so grand and beautiful; I think I may have taken more pictures of it than anything else! The windjammer is standard buffet faire. The lines were never long but the food was never memorable either. I was looking forward to trying the sushi in Jade but only did so once before I learned my lesson; free sushi is not good sushi. One thing I did notice in the windjammer was the movement of the ship. Freedom is huge and as a result she doesn't roll too much, but in the side seating of the windjammer I could really feel her rocking and rolling. Even the plants in that area were swaying. The specialty restaurants were hit and miss. Portifino was amazing and worth every penny. The waiters were amazing, everything was very well presented, and the food was fantastic. I was most looking forward to Chops however as I LOVE steak. When I walked in I was completely ignored for 5 minutes with no Maitre de to be found. A waitress asked me to move as I was "in her way", even though I was standing in front of the hostess stand. When he finally did appear there was a line stacked up behind me. He physically leaned around me without saying a word and asked the people behind me how many were in their party. He seated them and then disappeared for another few minutes. We were seated about 15 minutes after we arrived, and the restaurant was virtually empty. The steak was boring and no different from what you'd find in the main dining room, I was surprised by how thin it was. We waited 30 minutes (no joke) after our main course was taken away for them to bring us desert menus. They apologized with out prompting for the way we were treated at the end of our meal but all that tells me is that they know they messed up. Ports of Call: Labadee was disappointing. I wanted to see a more authentic Haitian experience, possibly even a guided (and guarded) mini-bus tour outside the RCCL compound, but naturally one is not offered. There really isn't much to do on Labadee that you can't already do better onboard the ship, unless you are willing to pay $85 to take a zipline or other token excursions. The water has very bad visibility, far, far too poor for snorkeling off the beach, and the swimming areas are small and roped in. I thought RCCL did a much better job with Coco Cay which at least had clear water, great snorkeling, and a cool little nature trail. Why can't Freedom have stopped there instead? San Juan, PR - I was pleasantly surprised by Old San Juan. Initially I had wanted to go to the El Yunque rainforest but the short time in port made that impossible. I had heard bad things about Puerto Rico before but found Old San Juan to be the perfect quick day trip. The old city is gorgeous and very European looking, you would never guess it is a part of the U.S. Castillo San Marco is a very cool old fort and a great picture opportunity. I would advise people to stay away from Calle de Fortaleza. It seems that they've done a good job of shoveling all of the typical tourist crap onto that street, by avoiding it you get a great impression of how pretty Viejo San Juan really is. I'm not sure what I would do if I stopped there again however, it seems like a "been there, done that" kind of place. St. Maarten - I was most excited for this port as I have wanted to go there since I was very young. We were docked across from Celebrity Solstice and it was fun watching all of the older couples in their white robes on their balconies slowly realize that our ship was all men, most of whom were hardly dressed! I started early that day (difficult considering how late I partied the night before) and took the water taxi to Philipsburg. I had initially planned on walking the distance from the cruise ship pier to the city, but the area is under a massive amount of construction and I didn't want to risk it. $4 was well worth it to take the water taxi directly into the downtown area. Philipsburg was very touristy and downright trashy. I walked around for a bit looking for the galleries and brand-name shops I had heard about, but once I saw what the Polo Ralph Lauren store looked like I gave up. I took a taxi to Maho beach ~$18 to watch the planes land. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I was jetblasted by a 747 and buzzed by an A340. I could die happy after that. The beach there is also nice although very rocky. The locals said it wasn't normally rocky at all but that we had come right after a big storm pulled all of the sand away. Next I bummed a ride with some friends who had rented a jeep. We went to Orient Beach on the French side. It's funny how immediately the roads change when you cross onto the French side. The streets get wider, the potholes disappear, and sidewalks magically form! Orient Beach was beautiful and we watched the sunset from the peninsula just south of the nudist resort. From there you can clearly see St. Barths and even Saba. I bummed a ride once more, but this time to dinner. I had heard great things about "Talk of the Town" in Grand Case (it really was the talk of the whole island!). Our driver knew the owners and told us not to worry; they would call us when our meal was done so she could pick us up again. The host then greeted us with a "We were expecting you!" The food was great and downright dirt cheap. The prices are in Euros but their exchange rate is 1=1! Ribs were $4, conch sausage was $2. The food was cooked on a big grill right in the open. It was a very cool and very foreign place. Right on time our driver appeared when we were done and whisked us back to the ship. The island earned it's slogan of "The Friendly Island", everyone was so nice and welcoming, quite the contrast to the surly, angry locals on most of the islands in the Caribbean. Activities: Freedom has an amazing gym; I was worried that with 4000 gay men onboard the lines for the gym equipment would be longer than the ship itself, but it never felt too crowded. The main pool deck is huge and was where most of the parties were hosted. The decorative shade sail between the main pool deck and the water park area caused allot of wind to come down to the pool deck however. They should redesign the sail to keep the wind out. The Solarium was nice but the hot tubs were often out of order for maintenance. The kid's water park area seemed way oversized. Granted with no children onboard it just looked like wasted space, but I have trouble imagining that children need that vast space to play in the water, especially considering most of them will just want to be where the adults are anyways. The ice rink is surreal. We could see Cuba out of the windows when we went, how many people have gone ice skating within sight of Cuba? The sports deck is amazing and what really makes RCCL stand out. The rock wall was huge, actually to the point of being too big. I got freaked out when I climbed to the top and looked out over the water. It is really, really, high! The basketball/tennis/volleyball court was always in use, but I never once saw the mini-golf even open. The flowrider is a blast. There is a definite learning curve, but figuring it out is half the fun. The best riders were guys who had been on a Freedom-class ship three or more times before. They were smart enough to bring wetsuits with them, as it gets chilly in the wind and water on the back of the ship. RCCL should really offer wetsuit rentals for the flowrider. Parties/Entertainment: Atlantis goes all out when they take over the ship. The main dance party started every night at 11pm on the pool deck. A parallel party started at 1am in Studio B (the ice rink with a dance floor over it). At 5am the main party moves to The Crypt to avoid the sunrise; that party wraps up around 11am. From 5-7pm we had our afternoon T-dances. The themes were amazing (Brazil, Mardi Gras, Dog Tag, 70's, 90's Divas, Under the Sea, Splash, and The White Party). The whole crew got involved and you would see them up dancing while they worked or in their off time which was very cool. There were allot of entertainers they bring as well. Miss Richfield 1981 is a drag queen comedian, Cashetta is a drag queen who does magic and more stand up, they also have a dueling bingo night. Charo and Andy Bell held concerts. They had more comics and piano singers than I could count, even a gay hypnotist. Andrew Christian was onboard, they sold his bathing suits and underwear in the shops, he also held a few fashion shows during the trip. The RCCL productions were pretty great too. FreedomIce.com was amazing, and Atlantis threw in a crazy guy on a spiked wheel which was one of the best parts. Once Upon a Time is not to be missed. The shows were packed and got standing ovations. The biggest problem was coming to terms with missing things. There just isn't enough time in the day and at a certain point you have to sleep. I would have been happy to just go out to sea for 7 days without any ports. Disembarkation: Due to the fact that a full 27% of the ship was foreigners they split the gangplanks into forward (foreign travelers and those traveling with them) and aft (U.S. passport holders only). We didn't have any terrible lines onboard or through Customs, but did have to wait a very long time for our luggage. (Over an hour from when our tag color was called.) Getting Home: I was staying in downtown Miami, just a few blocks from the port, but certainly didn't want to walk with all of my suitcases across the bridge and through downtown, but no taxi would take me. Every time I told them where I was going they would wave me away. I finally had to trick a cabbie into taking me by mumbling something about an airport and then waiting until he pulled away to tell him where I was really going. He got very mad until I just yelled "How the hell else am I supposed to get there?" He continued to complain that I had cost him $80 he could have made taking someone to FTL but I ignored him. At least where I live it's illegal for cabbies to do that. Delta ended up delaying my flight enough to cause me to miss my connection in Atlanta. They offered to book me on an American flight that night but I told them they would be able to pay me to fly American Airlines (hell lives in a silver plane at 35,000ft). They ended up putting me up in a hotel for the night in Atlanta and booking me on the Delta flight the next morning, they even waived the $50 extra bag fee as an apology. I did not use the Luggage Valet service RCCL offers but 2 out of 3 of my friends who used it didn't get their luggage home on time. It still has not arrived for one of them (6 days later). Atlantis cruises may cost more than twice what the same ship on the same itinerary at the same time of year runs, but it's worth every penny. I'll see you guys on Atlantis Liberty of the Seas 2010! 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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