Number of Cruises: 7
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Freedom of the seas
Sailing Date: June 18th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Wow, what a ship! Beautiful, clean and
huge but definitely designed for families with children in mind. This cruise we
noticed children on board much more than any other we have taken. The H2O Zone,
Flowrider and the Arcade (sizeable but expensive) were great for kids. In
general, I am glad we sailed on Freedom but I would not choose to sail it again.
I liked Explorer much better.
(A note to parents with children: We know you are on vacation and we do want you to enjoy your well-spent money. But please, so do the rest of us. When your children run and jump down the stairs almost knocking people down, scream and yell in the halls, play with the elevator buttons and use the (quiet) library as their private playroom, it makes us feel like we are on a carnival cruise…literally! Please watch what your children are doing and teach them to be considerate of others. Thank you!)
Check-In: Wonderful! We are C & A Platinum’s and they allowed our full party (Gold) to check in together. I think it took under 2 minutes. We did check in online and I am sure this helped the process. Well done.
Departure: C & A Society set aside the Cielo lounge next to the 3rd floor dining area for C&A Platinum and Diamond members on departure morning. This was fantastic. Coffee, tea, juice, champagne and continental breakfast were provided. Once our tag color was called, we went up one flight of stairs to exit the ship. Thank you Crown & Anchor. We really appreciated this benefit!
Drinks: Once onboard, we went up to Windjammer for some lunch where we were HOUNDED by bar servers pushing drinks at us. There were 4 or 5 of them up there, each one coming at us to buy the “daily special”. This didn’t go over very well. Our first experience on the ship was a negative one. These bar servers belong outside on the pool decks NOT at the entrance to the Windjammer.
Food: I had read a few of the reviews posted prior to taking the cruise and must say I agree. The food had no taste. The deserts, although beautifully presented, were bland. There was no chocolate cake except for one night and it was like eating chocolate icing. The Italian night was the best with the Chicken Marsala saving the week. One person at my table wanted to change the ship name to “Change-the-Chef-of-the-Seas” which we all thought would be a fine idea! We understand the chef is on vacation after our cruise…
Coffee: Seattle’s Best? NOT! If I lived in Seattle, I’d move. This would be a great cruise for someone wanting to kick their coffee habit. It was horrible. (I think they have a problem with their coffee pots). With the exception of the 5th floor dining room and our Assistant Waiter’s (Roy) know-how, the coffee was mud. Everywhere. Honest. Drink tea.
Service: As usual, the service was exceptional. Our wait staff (Edison-Waiter, Roy-Asst Waiter and Adena-Head Waiter) were incredibly good. Even though we were at a bad table in the very back of the dining room, they more than made up for it. Adena (Head Waiter) went out of her way every morning to make us a pot of coffee from the 5th floor dining room and bring it up to us in the Windjammer for breakfast! Service is an area where RCCL really excels. Their level of service is consistently superior while not being so stuffy as to make you uncomfortable. Kudos, RCCL.
Windjammer: This was good. The music they had playing was good (light rock and jazz) and the food was better than the dining room food. Probably because there was a lot to choose from. The oatmeal was very good and they had a really good salad bar. I was hoping the Asian Jade fare would be better than it was. And again, the deserts were tasteless. Windjammer did have a real chocolate cake one day…
Cabin: The bed was fantastic. I hope they put them on all the ships. Otherwise the room was like Explorer. The TV was nice but difficult to find out what was on. They would do well to have satellite TV like Dish Network in there. And believe me, after a cup of “Seattle’s Worst” you may need to watch some TV at night…
Ice Show: Really good. We did not go to any others but this one.
Excursions: We took the beach break with lunch at Grand Cayman and Xcaret at Cozumel which was fantastic. We also took the Jungle River Tubing in Montego Bay and would NOT recommend this to anyone. They tour guys were fun but at the drop off point there is so much mud from the prior day’s rain and mosquitoes it was nasty. If you do take this excursion, WEAR SNEAKERS or aqua socks. Some people went barefoot and regretted it. The jeeps had a hard time getting up and down the small hill through the mud to get us out of the area. One of the tubes in our group almost overturned when we “serenely floated” through a very rocky area and the girl in the tube almost was thrown out. It was at this point that our guide looked very concerned and rushed in to save her, damaging his tube in the process. So every 500 feet, he had to stop and blow his tube up as he was losing air. At least I can say I did this excursion twice: the first time and the last time.
Pictures: Here is an area with much needed improvement. First of all, on formal nights, the photographers set up just outside of the dining room areas during dining times. NOT GOOD. On a ship this big, it is easy to find better venues for photos. (How about downstairs near the photo area? Or up in one of the conference rooms?) It was really difficult to enter the dining room through the lines of people trying to get a picture taken.
In addition, many people wanted to BUY the photos taken at their table, at port and elsewhere on the ship. Many people couldn’t find their pictures! We were all looking at each and every picture board and many of us came away empty-handed. The dining room photos are categorized by early or late seating but it is not enough. Perhaps the photographers could take more care and add a # to the frames (like table #?). They are losing a ton of money here. Many came away very disappointed.
On Board Shops: We caught a cold after tubing in Montego Bay and the selection of cold remedies at the General Store was limited at best. (Mostly liquor which might have helped!) It might be nice to have a small store dedicated to toiletries, cold remedies etc.
Gym: This was excellent. It was opened at 6am every day and closed at 10pm. TV sets on the equipment but with the views of the ocean, you really don’t need a TV. Lots of clean towels available. Really nice.
Spa: I was going to get a massage but for a 50 minute $120 for a Swedish, I decided to play Bingo…