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Royal Caribbean International: Freedom of the Seas

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating

By Jeff_CR

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Jul 27, 2016

Western Caribbean

We chose to take this cruise because we really enjoyed our cruise last year on Freedom's sister ship Independence. We stayed in the same cabin-7712, aft facing junior suite- as we did on Independence. The ship was in good shape and we frequently saw crew cleaning, painting and doing general maintenance. The size and layout of the Freedom class is ideal for us- not too big, not too small and not too crowded. We rarely encountered a line for anything.

All in all this was an excellent cruise that gave us memories that we will keep for years. We have already booked two cruises for next year. The food was excellent. Windjammer food was a better quality and variety than previous cruises. The dining room was about the same as last year. Similar choices on a fairly limited daily menu. Sabor was excellent. Our meal there was the best ever on a ship and one of the best ever anywhere. Our cabin was very comfortable and was kept nicely by our cabin attendant. We like the aft facing suite for the larger balcony and the view. It also tends to be quieter since it is at the end of a long hall and doesn't get much traffic. Our cabin attendant- Erlinda- seemed like a family member to us. Always smiling and always quick to take care of anything we needed. We participated in many of the ship's activities- contests, raffles, shopping, solarium pool area, spa, bars, bands- as well as time just relaxing. We did not attend any of the theatre performances as we took that opportunity to do other things that were less crowded since many guests were in the theatre. We had shore excursions on Roatan and Cozumel. Both were good. Gumbalimba on Roatan was very interesting, fun and informative. It started late so we did not have much time afterward to do much more exploring. The America's Cup event on Cozumel was the most fun excursion we have ever done. Lots of fun and camaraderie. It also started late which did not leave much time for other exploration. The shopping on Costa Maya was excellent. The staff and crew were top notch. All of them looked us in the eye, smiled and greeted us no matter where they were or what they were doing. It was truly 5 star service. If we had a question and they did not have an answer they made sure to find someone who did. Our dining room servers- Henry and Youlando- were attentive and helpful with great senses of humor. Our expectations were surpassed on a daily basis. All in all this was an excellent cruise that gave us memories that we will keep for years. We have already booked two cruises for next year.

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Jun 17, 2016

Eastern Caribbean

This was my 4th cruise and by far the worst. Other people in our group have been on as many as 12 cruises. I am extremely disappointed in Royal Caribbean. The ship is nice. It is easy to get around. There is a lack of outdoor lounge/social areas that was disappointing. Royal Caribbean has gone downhill and they are more focused on cutting costs to appease stock holders than providing a quality vacation to their customers.

Service on the ship was bad. They gave us incorrect information about getting towels for shore excursions so nobody on the ship was able to get a towel to go on shore. Unbelievable that they could screw up such a simple thing. The next day when said they had towels when getting off the ship to go on shore, they ran out! Again. Unbelievable! People were about to riot. This sort of thing is unacceptable and should never happen. The broke my daughters seapass card when they punched hole in it to put on a lanyard. When they replaced the card, they did not transfer the information from the other card and therefore her waivers for activities did not show up when she needed them. She missed her assigned time for the flo rider because of this incompetence. We have never had problems like this on any other cruise. The food on this cruise was disgusting. We had a group of 16 and we unanimously agreed that the food was garbage. Others on cruise also commented how bad the food was. It was bad everywhere. The pizza was unbelievably bad. Like 7-11 frozen bad. The dining room food was terrible too. We paid $100 to eat in the fancy restaurant called Chops Grill. Our filet mignon and lobster were awful. The lobster was the consistency of mashed potatoes and the steak could almost bend the knife it was so tough. It is almost impossible to serve food so consistently bad and we have never experienced this on other cruise lines. Even the ice cream and other desserts were bad. Dining room service was terrible. Our waiter hit my wife and I both on the head with plates. Getting a drink took 15 minutes. They had one guy and only one guy who was able to bring drinks other than water. If you go to Costa Maya you must get out of the cruise port village. It is a $2 cab ride 5 minutes away to Mahahual. It is a very lovely and cool little village on the beach. We had excellent food at Nohoch Kay restaurant. Lot's of snorkeling when in port.

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By rich_CR

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Jan 17, 2016

wrf

Let me preface by saying that we go on cruises every year, the last 6 with our two small girls aged 4 and 6. First time with Royal Caribbean and the last. First the good. The ship itself (the main areas ie promenade) is very nice and quasi clean. They have a rock climbing wall and simulated surfing. Some of the nightly shows were good to very good (6 to 7.5/10). That's about all the good things I can think of. The food in the main dining

room was mediocre to poor (ditto for all the food on the ship). The first night I ordered encrusted Salmon, it was salty beyond belief. The 2nd night the Chef had a feature which was supposed to be saffron cauliflower with some sort of fish. Dish came with a half of a roasted potato, the driest fish ever topped with salsa like spaghetti sauce (who puts tomato sauce on white fish?). When I inquired as to where my Saffron cauliflower was they apologized and said they had none so they substituted , without telling me (but this was the featured meal of the night I argued?). They brought me Salmon instead (dry) after one bite, we left and went upstairs to the buffet which had variety but lacklustre quality compared to EVERY cruise ship we had been on before (including the lowly Carnival which by the way had fabulous food). On a couple of nights they had sushi, however as with the consistency of low quality they substituted smoked (maple) salmon in the sushi rolls paired with the wrong type of soya sauce which made the rolls taste super salty and inedible. They hid the tuna rolls under the counter because "they would go too fast" and so you had to know to ask for them. The majority of the food consisted of pork this or pork that, lots of rice dishes, the cheapest cuts of fish (Basa, Tilapia and unknown Chinese fish). If you saw shrimps they were the tiny canned ones which were very disappointing. In the main dining room I ordered scallops as an entree and they brought me 6 pea sized scallops in an escargot dish (unprofessional) drenched in butter (for taste). Everything was drenched in butter to enhance the low quality of the foods served. I was VERY disappointed that it felt they purposely lowered the food quality so that you would be forced to eat at their pay for, overpriced restaurants ($79USD PP). I have always promoted cruise lines because of the variety and quality of food but NOT Royal Caribbean. Got together with my cousins today and lo and behold they had the SAME experience on a different RCCL ship!. Terrible food (and they are cruise nuts going on Princess next for March break). The other thing that left a sour taste in my mouth was the constant bombardment of sales pitches for just about everything they could sell you. I was really disgusted with that. They turned a beautiful ship into one big flea market. Drink packages started at $49pp per day + 18% gratuity. $8/day each for kids for Pop. The shopping hostess told us when we went to Cozumel that we should not buy anything from the shops in front of the store and that instead they had "preferred" shops which were authentic, guaranteed blah blah blah and we could get there for a inexpensive $8 by taxi 9the forum shops). So we took their advice and it turned out the forum shops was one huge diamond store and not a mall as we had envisioned, the salespeople awaited us in front of our taxi like vultures to accost us with free margaritas and a draw to come in their diamond store and shop for diamonds and jewellery. The other stores we visited (rum cakes, tequila, t-shirt etc.) same type of deal. We later found out that RCCT is compensated for all of the tourists that shop at their stores so they are making money in every way they can. For kids the kids camp was great but it's also great on every ship. The sour part was the cost of the arcade games which ripped us off for $20 (none of the games worked when we swiped our card) and the prices of the games were $2usd each play. These should have been FREE (If I did my math right they had 4,300 people on the ship @ an average of $1,000PP they have to pull in more than $500 million a year on one ship when you include all the kickbacks from store excursions, casino, on and offshore retail sales etc… yet they treat us like suckers and feel like vultures going after a prey (in this case it's how much money can we squeeze out of these suckers). Line ups for rock climbing were usually one hour so that didn't work out. If we tried to order water from any of the ship bars we got looks from the bartenders as they couldn't charge their 18% tips. On our 2nd day they had the genius of an idea to varnish our railings on our private balcony, it never dried for the duration of the trip and so we could not touch or go near the rail which defeated our enjoyment of the balcony premium. On every other cruise line, the crew dotes on children. Not so on RCCT. No special greetings in the dining room, we had to ask the room steward for kids lifejackets on day 3 (would not proactively bring) also reminded to do up room earlier than 9-10pm due to small children (this should be intuitive). The getting off the ship at ports was strenuous but the poor experience was getting back on scanning us like we were all criminals, patting down old ladies and just plain mean demeanours (wasn't that picky or uncaring on other ships). The ads for packages for everything just drove me mad. Internet discounts, photo discounts 50% one day only (sign was up for 3 days) photo costs are exorbitant @ $22.99 for ONE photo but $495 if you want to buy them all. Other ships are around $12-$16 plus discounts. The bazaar like atmosphere selling Tshirts in the pool area for 50% off, then tables of purses, watches, jewellery all marked up by double then marked down by 50%. We attended a scotch tasting event in the general store and even that turned out to be a sales pitch (after the tasting was had one hour to get a 10% discount). I found the same scotch (double black) JW etc.. on shore in a regular Publix in Florida cheaper than the "duty free" ships prices. Pizza on the Norwegian and Carnival were fresh made, fresh dough, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella (you know great ingredients). On the freedom of the seas? Pre-made cardboard style grocery like crusts with sour tasting ketchup sauce and cheap ingredients (and they had a pizza store on the promenade same deal as dining room or buffet). On our 2nd day they had the genius of an idea to varnish our railings on our private balcony, it never dried for the duration of the trip and so we could not touch or go near the rail which defeated our enjoyment of the balcony premium. I thought I had paid for a 5 star ship paying premium for a balcony and expecting 1st class everything. Boy were we disappointed. RCCL is dead to me. Will never board another one again. If anyone is leaving positive reviews in my opinion it's because they are either paid bloggers by the cruise line or first time cruisers with nothing to compare against. See above, if you could picture a $20 buffet at any town in any north american city, cut that in half and you would have Royal Caribbean food. 1388 Balcony long waits for rock climbing (so a one time per trip activity). golf was golf, surf simulator broken half the time, ditto for many of the hot tubs. Choose any other cruise line, I have been on most. This was supposed to be a 5.0 star ship, consider a 3.0 ship (food 1.5). went tot eh usual ports, haiti, grand cayman, mexico, jamaica (very rough in jamaica don't go ashore alone.

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Jun 7, 2015

Western Caribbean

All in all, a wonderful time and would definitely do the same cruise again. Pretty good food, wonderful service, great entertainment opportunities, and lots of fun on the pool deck and on the excursions! Looking forward to trying to Eastern Caribbean before the ships switch up itineraries next winter! The food was fantastic! Dining room food was amazing, but the little snacks were great. Only did room service once (for breakfast) and it was

about what I'd expected. I let it sit too long so it got cold, but not their fault. Pretty good food all around. Loved the late-night pizza at Sorrento's! The stateroom was good - just an interior stateroom, since I knew I didn't want to spend much time in the room. I only showered, changed, and slept in there. No time for TV or chillin, that's what the pool decks are for! The stewardess was very nice, if even a little aloof. She only made towel animals 4 out of the 7 days we were there, unfortunately. Our almost-three year old loved them, so we were hoping for more, but oh well. We got a swan, elephant, monkey, and a rabbit. Activities onboard were plentiful, even if we didn't attend all of them. We saw a female entertainer, Karen Grainger, who was magnificent. What a voice, and hilarious impressions. Didn't get to attend the game shows, but that's what having a child can do. We spent most of our time in the Promenade or up on the pool deck just relaxing and swimming. Didn't shop at all, except for some duty-free liquor. ;) We loved our excursions, but for those in wheelchairs or who have kids who can't quite walk well enough to keep up (ie. use of a stroller is necessary), stay away from a few excursions like the Mayan Ruins - Chichen Itza or Tulum (Mexico), or Dunn's River Falls (Jamaica). Read the website descriptions of the excursions so you know the limitations. It wasn't horrible for us, but our almost-three year old didn't like walking all that much and it was pretty rough terrain most of the time for a stroller (sand and jungle types). Otherwise, we loved the excursions. The Dragon's Breath Flight Line in Labadee is a must-do, if you can! First-time cruiser, so obviously this will be a better review since I have nothing to compare to, but I had a wonderful time! Week-long cruise to the Western Caribbean, stopping in Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. There were three medical emergencies during the week, the first of which happened during the first night on the way to Haiti - had to turn around and go back to Port Canaveral to evacuate them, so we lost some dock time in Labadee, Haiti, but still got to enjoy the private port. The last emergency required a stop-off at Key West on the last day whist returning to Port Canaveral. A minor inconvenience. All ports were awesome and the weather was great, although super hot (especially in Cozumel). There was always wind on the pool deck, which made the sun a bit more bearable. Beautiful ship, and I learned that in November 2016, the Freedom of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas are switching ports and itineraries, so this cruise and the Eastern Caribbean itineraries will then be taken by the Oasis ship. Freedom will move to Miami and take on some Bahamas itineraries and other random ones, I believe. My favorite part of the cruise was without a doubt the service aboard. I'd seen tons of reviews saying various ships had staff that seemed to be disinterested and didn't seem happy. That was NOT my experience on this cruise at all! We had great staff in all locations - bars, dining rooms, stewards, etc. - who seemed to love doing what they do. It was awesome that they were from all around the world, too. Made it a fun time getting to know them. My three favorites on the ship were our dining room waiter, Valentino (he was AMAZING!), and the R-Bar's two lovely ladies, Heidi (Heidi-ho!) and Clorina. They always had so much energy and made the experience really fun. Great drinks, and strong like I like 'em! Overall, the staff just seemed very fun and seemed to want to make sure you were having a good time. Obviously, most are fueled by potential tips, and I tipped well to those who deserved it. Heidi and Clorina got lots of tips from me! I only gambled once, and lost $100 pretty quickly on blackjack. That was day one, and decided not to go back the rest of the trip, though I was tempted hehe. The activities and entertainment onboard were pretty great from my estimation, though I didn't get to participate in all of them. Karen Grainger was awesome. Also, the Olive or Twist club on deck 14 was pretty fun most nights. Lots of people dancing. They even had a silent disco night, which I find quite amusing. Overall, it was a wonderful first cruise experience for me. My other half had been on the same cruise on the same ship back in 2010 before the renovations and liked this one better for sure. We had an amazing time, and now I'm hooked on cruising. I plan on getting us booked on another here before the year is done!

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Dec 15, 2014

Western Carribean

Royal Caribbean cheated us. The captain told us on the day after we boarded that the ship was having mechanical issues, that we would not be traveling at full speed and that the stabilizers were not being used so as not to decrease the speed more. The sea was rough the ship very rocky. The biggest issue was the fact that we were traveling too slow, so we had less time in port. Then we had a medical emergency aboard and had to go back to a port to

let the passenger off to go to the hospital. So then we missed our last port. So then they used the excuse of a medical emergency to cover up for the mechanical failures or the ship. No compensation for our inconvenience. Then found out that the passengers that we're boarding this same ship as we were getting off were already receiving $100 credit because of mechanical issues on this ship. The cruise prior to ours had missed two ports. Very poor customer service from Royal Caribbean. We will never cruise Royal Caribbean again. Food was ok. Carnival was much better. Small cabin. Ok entertainment.

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Nov 9, 2014

Carribean

We have cruised with RCCL SEVERAL TIMES over the past few years, especially on the Freedom of the Seas. Being Diamond members, we are familiar with services that RCCL USED TO OFFER. this cruise was the worse cruise of any that we have been on--including all cruise lines. From the disorganization upon embarkation, the first port being canceled entirely, arriving in St. Thomas on the 4th day 2 hrs late and leaving 3 1/2 hrs later, to departing St. Martin

1hr early. To top things off, the evening shows which were always offered twice a night were only offered one time (9:00) every evening due to the fact there was a large group (high seas) onboard. Never told this before booking. Everything revolved around high seas group, no addl show, no late diner seating, activities only for high seas. Upon return, corp office said since this involved the whole ship there was nothing they could do to address the situation because it would involve compensating everyone onboard which they will not do!! Food was average at best. Little variety and very fatty meat. Found several food selections offered over and over instead of changing out. Stateroom was fine. Clean and comfortable. Activities were not up to par as stated above. Could not do excursions on this cruise. Coco cay port was cancelled, arrived in St Thomas late and left early so all excursions were automatically cancelled. St Martin-head to the beach.

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Oct 27, 2014

Eastern Caribbean

This was the 6th consecutive year our group of 8 has cruised on the Freedom ..... and without question the worst. The ship is showing its age. The staff is not as helpful, trained, nor personable as in past years; there seems to be fewer of them also. The food was mediocre at best ..... portions skimpy. They have taken away our favorite peanut butter cookies, the almonds & walnuts for oatmeal, as well as cooked prunes for breakfast.

Recycling of food is apparent. The promised "perks" of being an Emerald cruiser were not given .... (lapel pins, RC robes etc.) So much for being LOYAL to RC! By far the worst complaint is getting aboard the ship and disembarking ........ a true nightmare on both ends!!!!! We stood in line longer than we've ever done so before to get aboard. Our time for departure was supposed to be 9:15 .... we got out of the terminal after 11:00 a.m. ----- causing us to miss our pre-arranged shuttle to the airport, and to almost miss our flight home! The luggage area is a pure disaster ---- seemed to be no organization. The Freedom has lowered its standards so much since last year, it now ranks right down there with the "C" ships! Don't imagine any of us will be sailing it again. Shame on you, RC!!!!!!!!!! The menu selections in the dining room are poor; 2 different nights I found myself wondering just what I was going to order, and one night we just went up to the Windjammer. Desserts are the poorest of their foods. Bring back the peanut butter cookies!!!!!! Stateroom was the usual ......... a bit on the small side. Same old same old ...... shows are about the same as in years past. Snorkeling excursion on St. Thomas was a good one. For the past 6 years I have been raving to others about the wonderful Freedom of the Seas; finally got our 2 adult daughters to go with us this time, and was utterly disappointed with the short-comings this year of our favorite ship. I know I'll never get them back on the Freedom after our experiences .......... I feel sure WE won't be back either.

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Jul 15, 2014

eastern carribean

This is my 3rd cruise. Twice with carnival and then this one with RC. Boat was nice with alot of great pools, whirlpools. Shows was good. Food at times was good but I was expecting better. Windjammer should stay open later. Chops grill was terrible. A waste of money. I enjoyed the shopping deals on the trip. Something on sale almost every night. Ship was clean. I would cruise again, but after 3 cruises I realize its the ports of call I really like

and not just cruising. My next trip will be flying and I will be able to spend more time on the island. I was disappointed with the drink situation. If you dont pay extra there isn't anything good to drink. The tea was soooo watered down and the coffee was toooo strong. Didn't care for flavored water. I think you should be able to have juice or punch. It is a rip off to pay $20.00 a day just for soda and then you have to carry around the cup all week. I don' like that at all. Food was ok in the windjammer and good dining room. The tables and chairs in the windjammer are too tight. Very difficult to get around. It needs smaller chairs.Allen our waiter was very nice and accommodating in the dining room. I think the food could of been better. I guess I expected more. Very disappointed with chops grill. I ordered a steak med rare and I got well done. The baked potato looked old and waited 10 minutes for the butter and sour cream for it. The creamed spinach was awful. The so called cream was watered down milk at best. I wasted $70.00 and when I expressed my disappointment to our waiter no action was taken. He had a oh well kinda attitude and didn't apologize or offer to make anything right. I went the last night of my cruise with my husband and was hoping this would be a really special dinner. In fact it was the worst dining night of all. It was small but good enough for the time we actually spent in it. Our statesman was good. I was in room #2425 Shower was to tight to shave legs. I liked the room safe. Bed was comfortable. Always got plenty of clean towels and ice. The second floor hallway a few times smelt like urine, but not in our room. I really liked the couple who did the acrobatics on the 2 long drapes. It was beautifully done. Very talented and my fav by far. Ice performance was good but I thought the skaters with the wings was kinda cheesy. Loved the man in the big metal ring on the ice. Enjoyed him a lot. I liked the parade on the last night of the cruise. I also liked the comedian. He was funny without being vulgar. That was a welcome change for adult comedy. The sexy man contest had a young girl as one of the judges. She was too young to be involved in that kind of contest. I enjoyed the adult only pool, whirlpools and golf. I didn't participate in any other activities. I did like the shows better than the last 2 carnival cruises I took. Glass bottom boat at coco cay was ok. Booked thru RC. A storm was coming so the excursion was cut short. Did an island tour, shopping and swim to Magens bay on St Thomas. This was booked thru RC. Guide was so so. Stops wasn't that great. Shopping was cheesy souvenir shops. Botanical gardens didn't have much. Magens bay was not as pretty as I expected. Did snorkel and found a starfish. Open bus with a screaming kid on our bench not my idea as fun. Getting off the ship and trying to find the people who did the excursion was a complete zoo. This should be better organized. Too many people running around trying to find the people for their excursion. My husband and I was directed in the wrong direction twice. They need to have big banners along the dock already set up when people get off the boat can see where thy need to go, instead of holding up a sign as bid a a ping pong paddle. Almost missed our excursion. St Thomas was dirty and I wasn't impressed with it much. I loved St Maarten. Booked an Island tour, shopping and orient beach swim with Bernards tours. They were awesome. A hundred times better than RC excursions. We had a guy named mailman and he did deliver. Very good guide. Orient Beach was gorgeous and so much prettier than St Thomas. Seen my first mongoose. Cant wait to go back next year to St Maarten. Plan on flying there and spend a week on the island. Overall trip was a 7 on scale of 10.

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Apr 6, 2014

Caribbean

Over all was good. Room service wAs ok but never got everything we ordered and very limited selection. Also noted that on formal nights dress code should have been enforced better, people came in tank tops, swim suits and shorts which takes away from a formal night. My opinon these people should have been directed to the windjammer for dinner. When booking of cruise should be told that there could be lots of small children. Dining room food

was very tasty but lack of choices and repeat of many items on the menu. Finding food after midnight was difficult or unable to find at all. Excellent, balcony room. We found that was geared to adolescent group. Shows were geared to attract children's interest. You can find better deals for excursions on the islands than on the ship. Overall it was a nice trip, 1.Lack of supervision of children, who where running in halls, stairs and using elevators as toys pushing all the buttons so elevators would stop on each floor and if you made a comment to them they laughed at you and became disrespectful. 2. Shops to pushy on trying to sale items especially jewelry. ( BEWARE: If you purchase over $800 of merchandise you will be taxed back in the states. If you are told by shops don't believe them especially anything bought on the ship. Be sure and declare anything you buy because if you are pulled aside by customs you can be fined, items taken and it is a terrible experience and you are not treated nicely by US customs. None of this will be explained to you on the ship. It is duty free till you bring it back into the US then it is taxable.) Know the laws and have a great time.

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By Beth_CR

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Dec 27, 2013

Eastern Caribbean

This was our 3rd cruise on Royal Caribbean, our 1st on Freedom of the Seas. Last year we sailed on the Carnival Valor, our first time on Carnival, so we couldn't help but make comparisons between the two cruises. Generally we had more fun on Carnival. The live music was more rock, while on Freedom of the Seas, it was more dance: in the disco it was Miley Cirus and Robin Thicke, the dancing under the stars night was music like The Electric Slide

and other wedding and bar mitzvah reception songs, the lounge next to the casino played latin cha-cha. We found the Freedom of the Seas rolled up for the night no later than 1am, while on our Carnival cruise, we got to bed only once before 3am. On Carnival only about 50% of the guests dressed up for formal night, on Royal Caribbean it was closer to 80% and the guests dressed very elegantly. To be fair, our sailing on Freedom of the Seas was filled with young families and seniors, so the demographics likely drove the tone of the sailing. The dining room dinners were very good. I have advised friends going on their first cruises to expect food that is equitable to decent banquet hall faire. We had My Time dining at 8:15pm each night, and were able to have Norbert as our waiter. He and his partner got to know our prefences quickly, so we didn't need to ask for iced tea or a second serving of rolls past the first night. Room service has a limited menu and charges a fee if you order past midnight. We ordered room service for breakfast twice and twice for a "picnic" lunch on our balcony. The food was good, it arrived hot and quickly. On our Carnival cruise last year, we were able to order a continental breakfast for delivery the last morning as we pulled into port. Royal Caribbean does not offer room service the last morning, so you either have to be up and dressed early for the dining room or battle the throngs in the Windjammer. The Windjammer was a lesson in frustration many times. Too many times we had to search around and around for an open table. The traffic flow around the food stations just doesn't work very well. Since my first Royal Caribbean cruise in 2000 on the Enchantment of the Seas, this has been something that needs to be improved. Patience is need to navigate the lines and crowds. The Windjammer breakfast was tasty- I enjoyed having smoked salmon and made-to-order omelettes. The standout food on the Freedom of the Seas is the fresh breads, rolls, and pastries. They had a delicious fresh bread with cranberries that has to be the best bread I've had in many years. The coffee is very good, and the staff works very hard to bus the tables and make certain you have drink refills or a new utensil. For lunch and dinner, the Windjammer wasn't a good choice for me. I have a food allergy, to bell peppers. Just the oil from a bell pepper will make me sick, so I can't just pick out the peppers. Sadly, the tuna salad, egg salad, and many hot entrees and soups had bell pepper. The one night we chose to dine at the Windjammer instead of the dining room, literally every hot entree was made with bell pepper. I can't be the only person with this problem, so how about have a couple of choices with no bell pepper? We were in room 7410, a balcony room on the aft end of the ship, facing the back. On our Carnival cruise, we discovered the joy of the aft rooms. The balconies are larger, and the view into infinity with less wind than side-facing balconies is peaceful. What I didn't know is that on the Freedom of the Seas, the aft rooms have a view obstructed by curved steel beams. On the Valor, there is no obstruction- the view is wide open. If given the choice, I'd choose cain 7408, which has a smaller door than the slider we had, but has a larger balcony with both a side and aft view. The room was clean with some wear evident on the carpet and couch. There was adequate closet and storage space. The bathroom is tight, but as others have pointed out, the shower doors making a tube is much easier than fighting with a shower curtain. Twice our toilet clogged up- once the maintenance came right away, the other time (as we were getting ready for formal night), they took their time. Our cabin steward was Dexter. He took good care of us. We requested he fill our ice bucket- it won't be filled unless you ask. There is a minibar- but don't use it except for emergency- the one soda I pulled out of it (in the middle of the night when I had an upset stomach) cost over $3.00. The nice thing about a cruise is that you can do as much or as little as you wish and there's no right or wrong. The activities were family-friendly mostly. Bingo was expensive and the sessions were short. The shows were better than shows on Carnival. The showroom band is excellent, the magic show was eh, pretty good, the comedians were funny. There is a lot of shopping and selling. The spa is expensive, but how can you beat getting a massage on a cruise ship? When it comes to upcharges and opportunities to spend money, you have to pick and choose carefully or blow your budget. There are very few truly free things on a cruise ship these days. The passenger participation shows are musts: Love and Marriage, The Battle of the Sexes, and The Quest. Please people, The Quest is really for ages 18 and up. I felt embarrassed for the children whose parents brought them to this show even though it was clearly stated in the Cruise Compass it was for 18+. No one's child needs to see a man in a jingle bells thong dancing a ballet. Regarding children- there were many on this sailing. The staff must do a great job of entertaining them as we didn't run into too many playing in elevators or running amok. The only time we were almost run over by kids was in the Windjammer restaurant, and that's a product of lack of parental supervision. It's not advertised, but if you ask and are willing to pay $150 per person for the 3 1/2 hours, there is a ship's tour called "All Access." My husband and adult children did this and thought it was awesome to get a tour behind the scenes of the bridge, the theater, galley, and engine room. We did no formal excursions on shore. In San Juan, we walked all over the old city and self-toured the fortress. In St Martin, we took a taxi to Maho beach to frolick in the surf and watch the jets land just a few feet away. There's good shopping on St Martin if you want jewelry, perfume, and alcohol. My husband and I, while more in the Royal Caribbean demographic, would lean more toward Carnival for our next cruise. It's wilder, louder, bawdier, and just more fun. Now, that's not to take anything away from Royal Caribbean. They have a good product, perfect for families with younger children and large groups with a diverse age range. We also don't use the Royal Caribbean things like the rock climbing wall or surfing simulator. You really can't go wrong with Royal Caribbean- they have a winning formula.

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Jul 29, 2013

Western Caribbean

Freedom is an impressive ship. Size aside, it is full of activities . Staff are pleasant. Food was ok. Ironically, we found the Winjammer Cafe to be more pleasing than the main dinning room. Our state room was fine. We encountered an issue that was addressed. Balcony was great. My son did not care for the pull down bed above our bed. In fact, both my wife and I bumped our heads. Maybe RCCL might want to rethink the design, Great.

Visit Labadee. Relax, eat and drink. Bearing in mind that every few months staff and/or cruise director rotate so experiences might be different. Even though the previous cruise directors got rave reviews we still feel our cruise director was engaging, friendly and entertaining. Make sure you take advantage of all the on board activities that attract you. The shows were fin. We enjoyed the South American Cowboy, Gaucho and Once Upon a Time. The itinerary was great. Labadee was very nice. It is an extension of the ship. Your sail pass is used as currency, RCCL staff is there to provide service and food is free (It appears RCCL has exclusive rights to the port). We ran into several minor bumps, but this i to be expected and minor bumps do not keep our family rom enjoying our vacations.

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Jul 27, 2013

Eastern Caribbean

We enjoyed our cruise! There were challenges with departing, and I feel the instructions for disembarkation were not clear, but we had a great time up to that point. The food was delicious. I am a vegetarian and I wish the veggie options had more protein, but everything was tasty. Our stateroom was beautiful. We had a balcony and the state room attendants were EXCELLENT. My middle aged sister and I enjoyed the activities as did

our 70 something parents. My 12 and 14 year old boy cousins were not as thrilled with the program but they could not articulate what they thought was missing so it might have been a "moody" teenage thing as opposed to a fault with the program. The ship stops at a private island owned by RC. It is a lovely place but some of the activities are a rip off. We paid for a wonderful kayak trip that was worth every penny. But after that excursion, we hoped to slide on the super sized slide and play on some of the stationary water toys. It was $30/person for a limited amount of time. Really!?? I would have paid $30 for unlimited time....or less for a restricted amount of time...but $30 for 20 minutes seemed like an act of pure greed. First, we had a great time and RC provides a predictable perfectly lovely cruise experience. I would go again but I do want to add comments. I noticed that about 10%of the employees seemed surly...unhappy...which is contrary to previous experiences with RC. Admittedly, it has been 2 years since my last cruise, but I was sorry to see that some of the employees seemed unhappy. We also noticed ways that RC has cut corners. For example, there was no DJ for Motown night in the night club. The first night, no one turned on the music and there was a 15 minute delay before someone turned on the prerecorded music. That same music in the same order repeated on the second night. There was a gentleman by the equipment but he told us the music was prerecorded and he could not take requests. Meanwhile, he was talking on the phone. Humph! My mother loved the room service option. The staff were efficient and pleasant and it was such a luxury at no extra cost. Again, some of the dining room staff seemed irritable but others were up to RC's usually high standards so I don't know what was happened. The shows were generally good. There was a magician whose show was very average but the cruise director compensated with the BEST show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It was called, I believe, Once Upon a Time. It was truly spectacular. The staterooms were lovely and clean. The room attendants were EXCEPTIONAL. They were kind, pleasant and kept the room super tidy. The embarkation process was astonishingly smooth. The disembarkation was ok. Make sure you pay the extra $20/person for the valet service. Your bags will be checked through to your final air destination and you will not have to deal with claiming your bags off of the ship. The form is not clear but register EVERYBODY in your party, whether the person had luggage or not. Valet service also allows the passenger to disembark whenever s/he chooses. If you have people in your party who did not choose that option. everyone had to wait and it is no fun. Also, even if two people share a bag you have to register the second person and pay for the valet , or again, that person will be waiting to get off and hold up the who group. All things considered, we had a great trip and would choose RC again.

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Nov 19, 2012

Non

This was my second cruise, first being Hawaii. This boat was chartered for the week, and full to capacity. The crew were very pleasant . However, they are very good at repeating "I'm sorry". First we reserved a dinner reservation at the Italian specialty restaurant at 8 pm. Upon boarding I get a call stating my 530 reservation was moved to 630 as that is when they open. Customer service directs me to the restaurant manager who happens

to be on Coco Cay for the day. Manager calls me and says they are full! Come at 815 as a compromise. Table still was not ready until 830. I paid 80.00 for this? Second issue is they lost or failed to deliver our valet bags to Orlando airport. We arrived home at 330 Sunday with no baggage. It was a nonstop so they could not blame the airline. Now I,m trying to get a refund of the 60.00 valet fee as the contract was not fulfilled. RCCL blames the contractor " Bags, Inc" and Jet Blue for the error. But I paid RCCL! They are supposed to get back with me in 1-2 days after they research the problem. SHIPS CREW WAS WONDERFUL, THE BACK OFFICE LEAVES ALOT TO BE DESIRED Excellent food in the dining room and buffet! Far exceeded my expectations. Diner seating issues were addressed by Dennis, head waiter, in the main dining room. The Windjammer staff was extremely friendly as well. Portofino staff were pleasant and addressed our desires well during dinner. We had an inside cabin. It seemed small at first, but was well laid out and functional. The shower felt like a transporter tube from Star Trek. Even the cruise director made jokes about it. Plentiful activities. If you didn't find anything to do, it's not because it was not offered. Never did make it to the sports deck or flow rider Sunset beach bar in St Maarten. Watch the crazy tourists try not to get blown away on the airport fence. Watch you tube for footage. They were crazy. Again this was a charter trip. Activities. We're wild and crazy. I was very pleased by the boat and crew. I,ve described 2 small personal issues. These were learning experiences and would not let it affect any future cruise plans with RCCL. The crew was friendly. I would however cruise more if it did not feel so ala cart for the services it offers. I would gladly pay an extra premium not to feel as though each dept had their hand out.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Nov 18, 2012

St Thomas

The cruise was a lot of fun with most of the credit belonging to all of the great passengers that joined this cruise. We have been on several cruises in which I will rank them by order of overall quality. Prior to that let measure you that no one n my family including me works for any cruise line. This ranking goes for quality, food,and entertainment that is provided by the ship or cruise line. Ranked #1 Disney Cruise line, ranked #2 Carnival

cruise line, and Ranked #3 is Royal Caribbean cruise line. This is the only area they really could improve on as they take a major hit based on selection and quality. I admit to being somewhat of a food critic. Breakfast every morning was exactly the same on the buffet menu. If you we're looking for fresh slice of bread you may not find it. You will find toast but it was extremely hard to eat . When comparing this cruise lines to others we find that we like the ability to go and get our own coffer and or hot chocolate when we wanted it. They did have staff constantly asking if you wanted anything or if everyone was ok. We just prefer to get some things as we wish. The lunch menu offered many of the same items throughout the cruise. The food did taste as if it were a mass produced. Examples it was noticed they offered grilled steak a lot but it always seemed to be tough with little to no seasoning. I looked forward to the Cordon Bleu which was dry as I generally like to see the melted cheese ooze as I cut into it (it also lacked seasoning). The best food we had was at Chops we paid extra for that. Overall Chops was very good and the food was freshly cooked vs mass process. Sometimes when you are out laying by the pool and or the hot tub tub (our idea of relaxing) you want something to munch on. This requires you to get up put a shirt and shoes on and to have to go inside to get anything. We have enjoyed other cruise lines where you can stand inline out by the pool to get something quick to quench your appetite. We bought the coke package and honestly we would have preferred having at least one or two more places to refill the cokes tabs having to wait in long lines at the at bar. The bar tenders were busy making drinks for others and it seemed they concentrated on those who were ordering alcohol more so than those that wanted come refill. They did have a place called sprinkles to get ice cream cones out by the pool.it was not open near enough to be sufficient. I did enjoy it when I did use it and the ice cream tasted great. Johnny Rocket's upstairs was a bit disappointing. The hamburger did taste good but honestly if I was only going there for that I would have just went and got one at the Wind Jammer because they were always available. The staff did not dance to any song while I was there. Generally at any Johnny Rocket's you start off with some fries with a little white saucer(cardboard) that has a smiley face of ketchup for you while you are waiting for the fries. I was really looking forward to that. Not only did that not happen I did not get a refill on my fries that they offer. Honestly,I kinda felt cheated on that part of my Johnny Rocket's experience. Our stateroom was actually not bad. It compared well to the others we have stayed at. We did however have to say that the layout (which they cannot change) is not done very well. One would think you old be able to go all the way down a hall to get to your stateroom. I some halls on this ship you can but not all of them. We did have great water pressure in our shower and Edvard our room attendant was excellent. The outside pool parties rocked! As long as the weather was good. No other ship throws a party like they dido it by the pool. There is a caveat if your going across rough seas moving to Studio "B" Ice Skating Rink really had it's drawbacks (it's very cold in there). I think for this cruise they did a good job on the activities and it would be hard in some aspects to raise the bar I with activities that included passenger participation. You had a comedian (Traci Kanaan) on the ship that really needed a bigger stage and probably another show or two. She was hilarious. Her facial expressions and musical talent ranked far above most comedians we have ever seen ( by the way we regularly go to the Comedy Club) this was the standard I ranked her against. she could be a rising star. We really did enjoy the different themes for dressing up. white night and formal night were a lot of fun and every one looked great. We do not have a lot to say about this as we did venture out some and did not book any excursions. We did take one of the taxi cabs (a converted truck) from the port at St Maarten to the top of the mountain. We asked about cost on the way back and it was $25 per person. The whole ride may have been 10 miles if that. Let's just say always ask before you take a ride and oh by the way you can tell them you can get a cheaper taxi and they will negotiate the cost. I wish we had fund that out sooner vs later. Overall our trip was really a lot of fun and one of the best we have been on. If you took the same passengers and offered us choice of a different cruise line I would have to say we would probably try a different one.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Nov 18, 2012

St Thomas

The cruise was a lot of fun with most of the credit belonging to all of the great passengers that joined this cruise. We have been on several cruises in which I will rank them by order of overall quality. Prior to that let measure you that no one n my family including me works for any cruise line. This ranking goes for quality, food,and entertainment that is provided by the ship or cruise line. Ranked #1 Disney Cruise line, ranked #2 Carnival

cruise line, and Ranked #3 is Royal Caribbean cruise line. This is the only area they really could improve on as they take a major hit based on selection and quality. I admit to being somewhat of a food critic. Breakfast every morning was exactly the same on the buffet menu. If you we're looking for fresh slice of bread you may not find it. You will find toast but it was extremely hard to eat . When comparing this cruise lines to others we find that we like the ability to go and get our own coffer and or hot chocolate when we wanted it. They did have staff constantly asking if you wanted anything or if everyone was ok. We just prefer to get some things as we wish. The lunch menu offered many of the same items throughout the cruise. The food did taste as if it were a mass produced. Examples it was noticed they offered grilled steak a lot but it always seemed to be tough with little to no seasoning. I looked forward to the Cordon Bleu which was dry as I generally like to see the melted cheese ooze as I cut into it (it also lacked seasoning). The best food we had was at Chops we paid extra for that. Overall Chops was very good and the food was freshly cooked vs mass process. Sometimes when you are out laying by the pool and or the hot tub tub (our idea of relaxing) you want something to munch on. This requires you to get up put a shirt and shoes on and to have to go inside to get anything. We have enjoyed other cruise lines where you can stand inline out by the pool to get something quick to quench your appetite. We bought the coke package and honestly we would have preferred having at least one or two more places to refill the cokes tabs having to wait in long lines at the at bar. The bar tenders were busy making drinks for others and it seemed they concentrated on those who were ordering alcohol more so than those that wanted come refill. They did have a place called sprinkles to get ice cream cones out by the pool.it was not open near enough to be sufficient. I did enjoy it when I did use it and the ice cream tasted great. Johnny Rocket's upstairs was a bit disappointing. The hamburger did taste good but honestly if I was only going there for that I would have just went and got one at the Wind Jammer because they were always available. The staff did not dance to any song while I was there. Generally at any Johnny Rocket's you start off with some fries with a little white saucer(cardboard) that has a smiley face of ketchup for you while you are waiting for the fries. I was really looking forward to that. Not only did that not happen I did not get a refill on my fries that they offer. Honestly,I kinda felt cheated on that part of my Johnny Rocket's experience. Our stateroom was actually not bad. It compared well to the others we have stayed at. We did however have to say that the layout (which they cannot change) is not done very well. One would think you old be able to go all the way down a hall to get to your stateroom. I some halls on this ship you can but not all of them. We did have great water pressure in our shower and Edvard our room attendant was excellent. The outside pool parties rocked! As long as the weather was good. No other ship throws a party like they dido it by the pool. There is a caveat if your going across rough seas moving to Studio "B" Ice Skating Rink really had it's drawbacks (it's very cold in there). I think for this cruise they did a good job on the activities and it would be hard in some aspects to raise the bar I with activities that included passenger participation. You had a comedian (Traci Kanaan) on the ship that really needed a bigger stage and probably another show or two. She was hilarious. Her facial expressions and musical talent ranked far above most comedians we have ever seen ( by the way we regularly go to the Comedy Club) this was the standard I ranked her against. she could be a rising star. We really did enjoy the different themes for dressing up. white night and formal night were a lot of fun and every one looked great. We do not have a lot to say about this as we did venture out some and did not book any excursions. We did take one of the taxi cabs (a converted truck) from the port at St Maarten to the top of the mountain. We asked about cost on the way back and it was $25 per person. The whole ride may have been 10 miles if that. Let's just say always ask before you take a ride and oh by the way you can tell them you can get a cheaper taxi and they will negotiate the cost. I wish we had fund that out sooner vs later. Overall our trip was really a lot of fun and one of the best we have been on. If you took the same passengers and offered us choice of a different cruise line I would have to say we would probably try a different one.

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By Jeff_CR

  • New

Nov 18, 2012

St Thomas

The cruise was a lot of fun with most of the credit belonging to all of the great passengers that joined this cruise. We have been on several cruises in which I will rank them by order of overall quality. Prior to that let measure you that no one n my family including me works for any cruise line. This ranking goes for quality, food,and entertainment that is provided by the ship or cruise line. Ranked #1 Disney Cruise line, ranked #2 Carnival

cruise line, and Ranked #3 is Royal Caribbean cruise line. This is the only area they really could improve on as they take a major hit based on selection and quality. I admit to being somewhat of a food critic. Breakfast every morning was exactly the same on the buffet menu. If you we're looking for fresh slice of bread you may not find it. You will find toast but it was extremely hard to eat . When comparing this cruise lines to others we find that we like the ability to go and get our own coffer and or hot chocolate when we wanted it. They did have staff constantly asking if you wanted anything or if everyone was ok. We just prefer to get some things as we wish. The lunch menu offered many of the same items throughout the cruise. The food did taste as if it were a mass produced. Examples it was noticed they offered grilled steak a lot but it always seemed to be tough with little to no seasoning. I looked forward to the Cordon Bleu which was dry as I generally like to see the melted cheese ooze as I cut into it (it also lacked seasoning). The best food we had was at Chops we paid extra for that. Overall Chops was very good and the food was freshly cooked vs mass process. Sometimes when you are out laying by the pool and or the hot tub tub (our idea of relaxing) you want something to munch on. This requires you to get up put a shirt and shoes on and to have to go inside to get anything. We have enjoyed other cruise lines where you can stand inline out by the pool to get something quick to quench your appetite. We bought the coke package and honestly we would have preferred having at least one or two more places to refill the cokes tabs having to wait in long lines at the at bar. The bar tenders were busy making drinks for others and it seemed they concentrated on those who were ordering alcohol more so than those that wanted come refill. They did have a place called sprinkles to get ice cream cones out by the pool.it was not open near enough to be sufficient. I did enjoy it when I did use it and the ice cream tasted great. Johnny Rocket's upstairs was a bit disappointing. The hamburger did taste good but honestly if I was only going there for that I would have just went and got one at the Wind Jammer because they were always available. The staff did not dance to any song while I was there. Generally at any Johnny Rocket's you start off with some fries with a little white saucer(cardboard) that has a smiley face of ketchup for you while you are waiting for the fries. I was really looking forward to that. Not only did that not happen I did not get a refill on my fries that they offer. Honestly,I kinda felt cheated on that part of my Johnny Rocket's experience. Our stateroom was actually not bad. It compared well to the others we have stayed at. We did however have to say that the layout (which they cannot change) is not done very well. One would think you old be able to go all the way down a hall to get to your stateroom. I some halls on this ship you can but not all of them. We did have great water pressure in our shower and Edvard our room attendant was excellent. The outside pool parties rocked! As long as the weather was good. No other ship throws a party like they dido it by the pool. There is a caveat if your going across rough seas moving to Studio "B" Ice Skating Rink really had it's drawbacks (it's very cold in there). I think for this cruise they did a good job on the activities and it would be hard in some aspects to raise the bar I with activities that included passenger participation. You had a comedian (Traci Kanaan) on the ship that really needed a bigger stage and probably another show or two. She was hilarious. Her facial expressions and musical talent ranked far above most comedians we have ever seen ( by the way we regularly go to the Comedy Club) this was the standard I ranked her against. she could be a rising star. We really did enjoy the different themes for dressing up. white night and formal night were a lot of fun and every one looked great. We do not have a lot to say about this as we did venture out some and did not book any excursions. We did take one of the taxi cabs (a converted truck) from the port at St Maarten to the top of the mountain. We asked about cost on the way back and it was $25 per person. The whole ride may have been 10 miles if that. Let's just say always ask before you take a ride and oh by the way you can tell them you can get a cheaper taxi and they will negotiate the cost. I wish we had fund that out sooner vs later. Overall our trip was really a lot of fun and one of the best we have been on. If you took the same passengers and offered us choice of a different cruise line I would have to say we would probably try a different one.

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By Paul_CR

  • New

Oct 9, 2012

Western Caribbean

We had wanted to go on this ship since it first came out 6 years ago. We were taking a carnival ship out of NY and the Freedom was docked next to us. We had been on the Mariner which also had an open concept mid deck which we really liked. Living in Virgina, we like to sail out of ports that are within driving distance. We drove about 8 hours on Saturday and stayed just north of the Florida border in Kingsland. Ga. Much cheaper motels than

at the port and no sense killing ourselves driving the full 11 hours in one day. We had opted to try an off site parking service since the port parking had gone up to $120 for the week. Although I was a bit nervous doing this, it was half the cost and we had great reviews from this cruise site for Cruise Parking of Port Canaveral. The place was just off the main road. We had made reservations on line so they were ready for us. We got on the shuttle at 10:30 am and were on the ship by 11:15 - Wow! Fastest ever. The ship was as beautiful as we had imagined. Almost the entire 5th deck is like a street with ceilings 5 decks high and lined with shops, bars and restaurants. The opening gala celebration was amazing like a big parade with Shrek characters everywhere. We had a little issue with our dining table location and the speed of service was lacking but the Windjammer had a nice variety and good quality. We opted to eat in Chops one night - definitely worth the extra money - too much food! The ship had tons to do and was well maintained. We'd been to the usual ports many times and are past doing most of the excursions but still had to get off the ship and get haggled by the Cozumel crowd. Didn't care much for the locals constant pressure to buy in Labadee. RC has really put some $ in that place as it was way bigger and offered more to do than when we were there a few years ago - one good thing - no more tenders. We did the self embark thing and the shuttle to the parking was waiting for us. We were back in the car and heading home by 8:15am. All in all we had a great time and would do this ship again in a heartbeat. I never write a review but get so tired of reading so many negative reviews in which the entire cruise sucked because somebody didn't like their steak. Happy sailing! Not as good as we've had on past cruises with RC. We had second seating and were still eating after 9:30. Chops was good as was the Windjammer Small - opted for an inside cabin to save $ - it had been forever since doing that and I'll find the $ next time to at least get a window Very good - great cruise director

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May 16, 2012

East Carribbean

Best vacation ever! Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas is first class all the way! The service was exceptional, the variety of entertainment was amazing from broadway shows, to game shows, a magician, music, dance lessons and much much more......and the food was delicious. The itinerary was perfect, lots of time to relax in the hot tub, pools and steam rooms and exciting, fun things to do any time. The beauty and peace of this vacation will stay

with me all year. Can't wait to sail with Royal Caribbean again! 5 star delicious quality food.....the seafood was my particular favorite, best salmon ever. The main dining room had a full service menu for both breakfast and lunch and the salad bar had shrimp and chicken with chefs to chop your salad as you chose your favorites. Can't believe how comfortable and luxurious the bedding and stateroom were. Our room attendant took care of everything, exceptional service. Felt like a queen for a week! The variety of activities were exciting and fun! Particularly enjoyed the dance lessons from real professionals. Seeing them in the broadway shows and then having the opportunity to learn from them was amazing. The late night comedian was exceptional. The 3 hour Yacht Sail and Snorkel in St. Thomas was phenomenal. Only 4 people on a 42' yacht (they take up to 6, since there were 8 signed up they took two yachts). Beautiful scenary on the sail to the snorkel sight, we even passed St. John. Saw 5 or 6 turtles and lots of beautiful fish on the hour long snorkel. On the way back we had delicous rum punches and cheese and crackers. Thank you Captain and First Mate Katie for a day we'll never forget. This was the best vacation ever! I've been on 3 shorter cruises, 7 days is the way to go. Lots of time to relax and enjoy the variety of things to do and two amazing shore days.

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By Ken_CR

  • New

Apr 1, 2012

Eastern Caribbean

I've sailed on numerous Royal Caribbean cruises and have earned the Diamond Member status in the Crown and Anchor Society. My experience on this particular cruise is a mixed bag. On the negative side, when arriving at the port terminal, we noticed a very strong sewer stench. This also carried over every morning when we would turn on the water faucet in our cabin. A very strong sewer odor coming from the supposedly fresh water! This was also the

third Royal Caribbean cruise in a row where we were unable to depart the ship at Coco Cay due to what they considered rough seas preventing tendering from the ship to the island. The waves were only two feet! I recommend RC build a pier, like Disney Cruise Lines has at their private island. I paid for this port of call and instead received an extra day at sea. I was accompanied by my spouse and two children. The Adventure Ocean and Nursery were excellent. The Portofino Restaurant was excellent. The cabin attendent was excellent. We utilized the Leonardo dining room on the first night only. I upgraded to lobster from their Portofino Restaurant for a slight charge. My wife had the pork from the standard menu. The pork was awful. It was so tough that she could not cut it. We did not bother to return to the Leonardo. We dined at Portofino for four nights and at the Jade and Windjammer for two nights. We noticed a sharp decline in the quality and selection of food at the Jade over previous Royal Caribbean cruises. The sushi was awful. There used to be a selection of ten different oriental menu items plus a soup of the day. On this cruise, the selection was reduced to three. The miso soup contained no dashi or tofu. It was basically flavored water. I will say that the quality of food and service at the Portofino was excellent. A friendly wait staff that deserves special notice. We utilized room service for breakfast every morning. Portions have been significantly reduced over the ones received on previous RC cruises. Our stateroom was clean and the bed was configured to queen size. The couch was made into a full bed each night for our five year old son to sleep on. We were given a pack and play for our toddler. The stateroom attendant was excellent. We had an issue with the foursome in the next cabin (7372) who frequently smoked marijuana and cigarettes on their balcony, rendering our balcony useless. Although this was reported, nothing was done about it. As mentioned earlier, there was a strong sewer odor emanating from the fresh water faucets each morning. This odor diminished as the days wore on. Other than Adventure Ocean and the Nursery, we did not utilize onboard activities for the family. I did utilize the casino several nights and left with positive winnings. I've heard that the best time to gamble is immediately after the ship leaves port and reaches international waters. The odds are supposed to be better on slots in order to generate word of mouth enthusiasm among the passengers. The cruise lines then lower the odds on subsequent days. This must be true because my largest win was within an hour of leaving the port and their were no substantial jackpot wins on subsequent visits. We do not utilize cruise sponsored excursions. We did enjoy activities offered in St. Thomas and St. Maarten. We will not be returning to Royal Caribbean. The negatives just far outweighed the positives. I won this cruise in a drawing and paid an additional charge for the children to accompany us. Future cruises will be with Disney.

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Jan 1, 2012

Western Caribbean

I don't usually write reviews but after checking out some of the reviews on here and seeing some of the negative experiences I felt compelled to set the record straight. This was my wife, son, and my first cruising experience. Let me say it will be difficult for me to ever go on a one destination vacation ever again. This was the best vacation I have ever had. I have no idea where some of these people are coming from with their bad reviews but I totally

disagree with them. We went with my wife's parents and her brothers family. Eleven total people. The crew, waiting staff, and stateroom attendants were the most professional and courteous people that I have ever seen. Our stateroom attendant's name was Carmen. She is from Nicaragua and has two children that stay with her mother while she works 7 months and off 2 months. She was awesome to talk to. Our stateroom was completely cleaned TWICE daily. Every night when we returned from dinner there was a different animal made from bath towels on our bed. We had dinner every evening at 6pm. The first night the Head Waiter, Richard from India, came to our table and totally entertained my 15 month old son. Then he walked him around the entire dining room while he stopped at tables to talk and help other cruisers. Our waiter was also top notch. His name was Madè. He is from Indonesia and has two kids. He was very professional and personable. One night I told him I was having trouble deciding between two dishes. I finally choose one and he brought both. Incredible!! The assistant waiter was Mauro. He is from the Phillipeans and is an avid SCUBA diver. From the first night I ordered a Diet Coke with dinner there was always one waiting for me when I got to dinner or very shortly after. Overall the dining experience ion the main dining room was first class. The wait staff and chefs in the Windjammer Cafe were great. Always checking on us and stopping to see my son. The food was outstanding. Not your usuall buffet. The legistics as far as boarding at the terminal in Cocoa Beach as well as the ports to getting off the ship at the end was perfect. The organization throughout the entire cruise was perfect. It is very difficult to travel with a 15 month old especially during the holidays. The folks on this cruise made it a delight. I felt like my son was a superstar. Any time we sat at a table or passed an employee they would always stop to talk to him as well as us. Obviously I would recommend this cruise to anyone.

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Aug 23, 2011

first cruise

This was my first time cruising. It was above and beyond my expectations. Food was outstanding, and available all day long. We thought it would be funny to ask the head waiter for mozza sticks, and the next dinner service he brought us out 2 plates of mozza sticks. The crew was all about the little things they did for you. There are more than enough activities that go from 7 am to even 2 the next morning. There is something for everyone on this

cruise. Staff was friendly and always helpful. Our staff (waiter, stateroom keeper) all knew us by name. We were seated at a table of 8 people. And they placed us with people all around our age group which I thought was nice because conversations were fun. The people we met at our table became our close friends and we had a blast with them. I rate my experience a 9 out of 10. The only reason why it was not a 10 is because there were many of us who got sick the last 3 days. I'm guessing someone came on board with the flu, and gave it to many of us. You are always touching elevator buttons, railings, and sharing pools with people. Decent size, and good space for all my clothing and shoes. Shower was a bit on the smaller size, a larger person may not always fit. It was very clean, and our attendant was amazing. They were great and well organized. The shows in the evening were amazing, I attended every one of them. There was something for every age group on board. Don't Miss Freedom Ice Show. Stay away from spa if you dont like to be constantly up-sold by the therapists. My boyfriend and I got a massage from 2 Philippians and they separated us after the massage and tried to sell us stuff separately. When we said we were not interested they were upset with us and did not even say bye. Also if you wish to cancel a service, they charge you 50% of the service if its within 24 hrs. Drinks were quite expensive and definitely added up. Trip overall was amazing. We met great people, and accomplished what we were there for - relaxing. Visiting different islands was great, and the excursions were fun as well. I think it would be very fun to go with a large group of people, and that is what im planning on doing next time. Crew was amazing. Value was great. Just wish I didnt get that sick.

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Jul 18, 2011

Eastern Caribbean

We went on this cruise for my sons 14th birthday. It was HORRID! Because it was over thanksgiving the lines were long and crowds were everywhere. The service was also horrible. The food tasted bland and lines in the windjammer were unorganized and long. the wait staff called my wife fat and never brought us what we wanted. So we ate at the windjammer every night. Our stateroom was never cleaned the whole trip we ended up making the beds

every day. We tried complaining but the customer service lady was so rude I just left. We also saw a rat in our stateroom. There was nothing to do onboard. I just sat in a chair all day because everything had such long lines. My sons (14 and 5) went to there classes the first few days but they hated it so I got to babysit them all day. The people in my 5 year old's Adventure Ocean class hated him and kicked him out. When I to pick him up he was not there. She said she kicked him out for rude behavior. Seriously? We searched for about 2 hours until we found him wandering around in the windjammer cafe. Which is 2 decks below. The excursions were the only fun part in the cruise. I reccomend not to go especially over thanksgiving or you will regret it. I chose not to rate because it was so horrible.

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Jun 18, 2011

eastern carribean

This was my fifth cruise and was looking forward to going to eastern carribean. This cruise was the most disappointing one out of all five; I've taken all five cruises with Royal Carribean, and all the previous four had been above average experiences in all aspects. For example: the pools were closed every night at 8 pm. even though the signs at the pool read they are open from 6am to 12 midnight. When I asked the pool attendants about keeping

the pools open until 12 like the signs state, they just blew me off. When I needed information from guest services, I spoke to a very rude person by the name of Sonia-she was very nasty and bad attitude. Food in dining room average to not that great; however, service was excellent; In the windjammer, food quality was good during breakfast, lunch, and during afternoon tea, but below average at dinner. There was a large variety of items to choose from during breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea. Staff did not keep the tables very clean; I saw some of the staff only half wiping down tables after people were done with their meals; the carpet never looked swept. Some staff unaccomadating and rude. Had a balcony state room which was kept clean; attendants were friendlly and accomadating. Large variety of activities. But pools closed often and early in the evening. Asked guest relations why this was so, and I was told to basically deal with it. Tried to obtain information and ask questions about tours-excursions staff would never answer any of my questions about any tours. I enjoyed sailing to the eastern carribean and visiting Coco Cay, St. Thomas, and St. Marten. The stateroom was clean and most of the food was good, but overall I didn't like attitude of the staff/crew; they were unfriendly, not helpful, and some were impolite-I took a cruise to relax and enjoy time with my family in a beautiful place of the world, and I found that dealing with some of the staff made it hard to enjoy the cruise. I will probably visit the eastern carribean again and use RC, but not the Freedom of the Seas.

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Mar 13, 2011

Western Carribbean

Great Ship and wonderful cruise read on for a couple help hints. Good food in Main Dining room and great food in speciatly options You will not have time to do them all. My wife and I went on this cruise with another couple to celebrate our 1 year anniversaries. We choose to go with the promanade view staterooms. these rooms are just one step up from the basic interior room because they give you a window that overlooks the

Royal promanade (the main artery of the ship) The rooms were nice with great beds. Bathrooms are small as they are on many other ships. It had been about 8 years since I was on a cruise and I was plesantly suprised. I remembered the showers and bathrooms being smaller. This may or may not have jsut been poor memory. There are alot of reviews hear and I read them all prior to sailing so I am just going to point out some things that I think are important and some of them pertain only to the Labadee, Falmouth, Jamacia, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Mexico Cruise. First I will say that the ships is wonderfull and it is going into Dry Dock for imporvements at the end of March 2001 to get even better. Second Labadee is a great spot for a Beach Day. I cannot tell you how many people we talked to prior to the trip that were shocked that anyone would go to haiti. This is a private area the Royal Carribbean leases, it is safe, very pretty and makes for a great beach, water sports, and relaxation day. They have an amazing Zip line there as well try it if you are into that type of thing it is amazing. The Freedom just started going to Falmouth, Jamacia two weeks prior to this trip. I beleive they are changing to falmouth due to the size of the Oasis and the Allure so they are building a new port. the locals told us they believed the port would be done by Sept or Oct 2011. Will it i don't know. But it needs work and organization, because getting off the ship and onto an early excursion was a nightmare. I have faith that they will get it figured out because everyone new it was an issue. Once out of the port we did the zipline tour by Chukka. Very fun but a bit scary in the bus getting to the top of the mountian. The people in Falmouth were much more friendly than I had expected, I always thought they were pushy when it came to selluing there goods, not here, not this day, they were very kind and welcoming. Grand Caymen was great. Beaches are beautiful. Nothing to say here except enjoy this wealthy beautiful safe island if you want to walk around or rent a scooter to explore on your own this is the best spot. small island, very safe. Cozumel was the only bad part of this this trip. the seas were rough so all the boat, water based excuasion's were canceled. we decided to go shopping and walk back to the ship an hour walk or so. All they sell is junk or jewelry and they are a pan in the ass. due an excursion or stay on the ship. Cozumel is dirty. Example, we were walking back the main street and saw nothing but beer bottles and paint brushes in the bushes. The paint brush in the bush was enough to give us a memory but didn't make for a good impression cozumel. None of the other Islands were like this. I will say if you are in the mood for a vulgar drunk fest Senor Frog's seemed like the place to be and not the one at the dock but the one in the town. Caution no Kids it was shocking. I will never go back to cozumel that is certain. Back to the ship. The dining room food was good with great options for a food lover like me. On the other hand I thought the food in both specialty resturant's Choppe's and Portifino's was GREAT. Now if you want a specail dinner book Choppe's the final night on this itnerary we did and we got to see the Miami skyline while eating dinner out the windows, Awesome, Our reservation was at 7:30 pm the perfect time. If you are in the main dining room and are on the same side on the ship you will get the view there aas well. You could also eat in the windjammer so there are options to get this view. But we loved it. Make sure not t miss the ice show. They will make you get tickets. just get there 10 mins or so before they start to distribute them and you will have no problems getting the show you want. They have four (enough for everyone. Tickets are free the theater is just small so not everyone can be in there at one time. Helpful transportation hint: They can have you off the ship early and will likely have you off no later that say 9-10am. What this mean is get an early flight home. We choose to have a departing flight at 2:55pm that was a mistake we watched a 3 flights left to Philly prior to ours. We were off the ship at 7:45 at the airport by and to our gate area by 10:30 without rushing at all. They are efficient as hell at getting you off so they can get the next group on. We were at the port on day one at 11am and they let us on, but not to our rooms at 11:45ish. Rooms are ready by 1:30pm. Reccomendation: You cannot count on getting your bags till 8pm though we got ours around 4-5pm. They say they garruntee it by 8pm. i would suggest one of two things. 1 take one small carry-on with what you will need for pool/dinner or dress as you would like for the activities you are expecting. the downside to taking the carryon is lugging it around with you prior to being let to your rooms. You decide we just dressed in shorts and Polo shirts and explored the ship with out having to deal with the bags. It was nice. If you plan on arriving after 1:30 the carryone would be fine as you could put it in the room.

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Feb 15, 2011

Eastern Carribean

This was Our Honeymoon, and one that we will never forget!! It was HORRIBLE, I would not reccomend this to anyone, only if you are a big drinker, or little kid. All there was to do was drink, and I think that is because they want you to be blinded by how bad it is and to make the food try to taste better!! We cannot get this Honeymoon back although we will try to somewhere else! Please PLease take my advice, I would not recommend this trip to anyone,

I tell you the tuth!!! I just hope that others do listen to this, we are just speaking from our true feelings. My wife and I recently took a cruise on the ship, Freedom of the Seas, on Jan 30th to Feb 6th. Ports of call were, Cocoa Cay, St. Thomas, and St. Marten. We were Very excited for this trip, and were looking forward to sailing on your ship. This was our Honeymoon trip, and first cruise as a married couple. My wife has cruised before, but with Carnival cruise lines. When we returned to the ship after our day in St. Marten, my wife and I were seriously contimplaiting running to our rooms, grabbing all our stuff, pack our bags and getting off of the ship to spend even more money to stay in a resort and buy plane tickets home. We did not want to spend one more day aboard. If we hadn't gotten back with only 10 minutes left till we took off, we would have done it. However we knew that we were not able to pack our things in such a short period of time, and that was litterally the only thing stopping us from doing so. We were so excited to get off the boat Sunday moring when we got to Port Canaveral. As we were walking off of the ship that morning, and watching the people waiting to get on, we so desperatly wanted to warn them about what they were getting into. But how do you tell someone after they have spent $3,000 plus that they are wasting their money. We knew then they would learn a valuable lesson!! As for the staff in general... They were VERY bad!! everyone was extremely unfriendly, lack of smiles, not being curtious, often pushing us out of the way like there time was of more importance, often times made us feel like we were bothering them when we had questions. We had asked the lady at the Sea Trek about snokeling, she was sitting at her computer, would not get up to talk to me, Very rude to me and treated me like I was stupid, and made me feel that way too. There were brochures on the table and I wanted to know a few things, but when I asked I was met with attitude and rudeness. I thought she was there to help me, not treat me like a little kid who was bugging his parents while they were working. I paid for service not attitude!!! The waiter in the dining room was so rude he actually made my wife cry, for that reason we never entered the dinning room the rest of our trip. This occured on the first formal night of the trip. When we would go down in the morning to the Cafe Promenade it was clear the man behind the counter had little to no exprience. It would literally take 10 to 15 minutes for us to recieve 1 small Chai Tea, and 1 Americano, and then to find out it wasnt what we had ordered at all. I was a Barista for 4 years, and I know how long it should take to make these kinds of drinks... The coffee was disgusting and gross, burnt almost all the time! We heard many complaints about the coffee, And food! You seemed very strong about the "Save the Waves" program and recyling, but yet all the way untill the 6th day, I had to open many little plastic cream packs for my coffee which takes alot of time and creates alot of waste. Then it seemed like somone finally got the idea and put a pitcher of cream out on the last 2 days... why? Not very Green in our eyes.... Not to mention I had asked about a pitcher for cream on the second day, and was rudely told, " the cream packets are on the table in a bucket, we don't have a pitcher!" Over the years I have heard people brag about how wonderful the food is on this cruise line. Being a chef I had high expectations, but after the first day I would have to disagree with that. The food had no nutritional value, VERY BLAND, and poorly executed. It seemed at times like there were leftovers from the nights and the mornings before, and then put out for us to eat. The eggs were HORRIBLE, we were told there were two kinds to choose from, either scramblers or "real" eggs. However we noticed that wasn't the case, it was mostly the scramblers that were severed to us, and they were like wet, yellow, mush. We choked them down so that we could at least get some protein in us, and could barely take more than two bites of them at a sitting. The pastry's were dry and flavorless, I get better at my supermarket, and that's not saying much, all the food was embarrassing for a chef to put out, how do you stand behind your work on that one? I would never buy your cook book, and cant believe people did. I know in my restaurant, none of that food would have been aloud to go out to someones table. The bacon 95% of the time barely cooked, and if it was cooked, it was burnt... The selection didnt have much imagination, and felt like we were throwin the same things every night and day, with a little twist on the receipe to make them different. Alot of the desserts were sugar free, and done poorly, In fact I was shocked that your food and Bev director aloud most of this food to be served to your passangers on a daily basis. I felt like I was eating at a retirement home cafeteria, and Most of those that I have eaten at were better than this. Your food had more right to be at a place like that than on a cruise line that we paid good money for. Not only was the food bad, the buffet stations were extremely disorganized. Which made it difficult to tell where the line began and ended. People were always running into eachother or cutting in line because of it. I feel another reason people rushed to cut infront of others was because the food was not replinsed in a timely manner. Much of the salad condiments were empy after the first 30 minutes and stayed that way till dinner ended or untill my wife and I were sick of being up there and waiting. I found on muliple occasions foerign objects, such as hair in our food, and lost my appetite and often would just opt for a box of creal, you cant go wrong there. We actually lost weight on this trip do to the quality of food. It was extremely dissapointing to say the least. Your beef, for burgers was like my elementry school lunch meat same goes for almost all the rest of the food. My wife has a Carnival Cruise experience to compare it, and it was an extreme let down from her expectations. And with me not having anything to compare this experience to, I to was upset and horribly dissapointed.My wife and I eat very well and are not fans of any chain restaurants. But I had never been so excited as we were when we saw a Chilis in the Orlando airport, it was gourmet compared to the buffet lines and food on the ship!!! We sincerely Hope this helps all your future passangers. I tell the truth on every word, please take in carefull consideration! ok, nice to have a balcony, clean... other than that not much to brag about... The entertainment... Where do I begin, It was a JOKE!!! They seemed unrehearsed, didnt know the lyrics to the songs and looked embarassing doing it. Your "activities" director seemed like a one man show, and he was the one who was singing, " I dont know the lyrics" this was on one of your "big" shows in the promenade...? The dancers and other entertainment were horrible, We were embarassed to be there... And not to mention the 7 minute "Circus" you put on at the end, you certainly made it your own kind of circus, and I do mean Circus!!! And not to mention I have the WHOLE 7 Minutes on my camea for all to see! It was just people throwin in costumes and walking up and down back and forth to circus music, the only tallent was the people hanging from the circle twirling 8 feet above the bridge, BRAVO!! My wife owns her own business, and has worked as a hair sylist for 8 years. She was so exctied to take advantage of some of your salon services. She thanks God that she started out with the eyebrow wax, which was one of the worst expereiences ever. After that we did NOT want to put any more of our money into the services aboard the ship. We called early in the morning to make an appointment, and it was clear when we arrived that the appointment was not scheduled. As we sat there watching and listening to them speak amongst them selves in another lanquage on what to do, we were rudely shown back to the waiting room and told someone will be with us shortly. After 10 minutes of waiting, the Massage Therapist came to get my wife to wax her eyebrows...? She let us know that she normally didnt do this, but when they were busy and if she had a little free time, she will help out. It was clear she had no training in that department. She did what she wanted, not what my wife had asked for, now instead of having full eyebrows like she asked, they are very thin! When she went to take this up with the "Manager" of the salon/spa she was treated badly, and the manager had poor customer service skills and went on to hang up on my wife before she was through talking. When we returned to the ship after our day in St. Marten, my wife and I were seriously contimplaiting running to our rooms, grabbing all our stuff, pack our bags and getting off of the ship to spend even more money to stay in a resort and buy plane tickets home. We did not want to spend one more day aboard. If we hadn't gotten back with only 10 minutes left till we took off, we would have done it. However we knew that we were not able to pack our things in such a short period of time, and that was litterally the only thing stopping us from doing so. We were so excited to get off the boat Sunday moring when we got to Port Canaveral. As we were walking off of the ship that morning, and watching the people waiting to get on, we so desperatly wanted to warn them about what they were getting into. But how do you tell someone after they have spent $3,000 plus that they are wasting their money. We knew then they would learn a valuable lesson!! P.S. My wife and I eat very well and are not fans of any chain restaurants. But I had never been so excited as we were when we saw a one in the Orlando airport, it was gourmet compared to the buffet lines and food on the ship!!! We sincerely Hope this helps so that you can satisfy all your future passangers. As of now, my wife and I will not be future passangers on this cruise line and will not recommend it to others.

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By Barb_CR

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Feb 7, 2011

Eastern Caribbean

My husband and I have been on 6 other cruises. We have cruised on Princess, Carnival, Costa, and NCL. We have been to Alaska, Western and Eastern Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii. We decide to try RCI this time. We where with two other couples. We have never payed book price for our cruises, as we had to do this time with RCI. I do not think sailing with RCI is worth the extra money. We had read the reviews and was not expected great food. So

we where not disappointment. The service was great. We sat with 14 other cruiser. We where in and out of the dinning room in about an hour and a half. We cruised twice on NCL and it took two hours for dinner every night. Most guest where late for the after dinner show. The food at the Windjammer was ok. The food at the cafe and pizza place was the same every day. And was also ok. Our cabin was nice. We only had one problem. If we had our beds made as queen's there was no room to get off the bed other than clawing to the end of the bed. And if the phone rang you had to claw across the bed to get to the phone. If you had the beds as two twines there was a lot more room. I thought the bathroom was a little bigger than on other ships. And the shower door was nice instead of a shower curtain. Our cabin girl made the cuties towel animals. The activities where a lot of fun. We seen The Osmond Brother they where great. The ice show was ok. The costume where lacking in sparkle. We had ask for a private table for 6. They said, the ship was full and this was all they had. If you try and use your cell phone there is a $7.95 per minute that the ship charge's. The internet cost was $.65 per minute. We bought a package for $35.00 for an hour. Make sure and check to see if you have used all your package, the ship will start charging you by the minute if your package runs out and not tell you. If you are a SMOKER this ship is not for you. You can only smoke at the Sky Bar and under the life boats. The other ship we where on there where always tables by the pool on one side of the ship for smoking but not on Freedom. You can also smoke on one side of the Casino. There where a lot of electric wheel chairs. The ship was clean everywhere we went. The ship will give you jewelry coupons for shore. We would go into the jewelry stores and say we have a coupon and the store would give you what was on the coupon. They did not try and sell us anything. We took the Cocoa Beach Shuttle for our transportation to and from the ship. They where great.

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Dec 21, 2010

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise with royal Caribbean, the first was the Independence of the seas and now Freedom of the seas, they are both almost identical ships with the freedom being slightly bigger, we booked it through Thomas Cook Cruises who sent us no information, tickets or passes for the bus transfers so from the off we had a struggle. When in the bars on board mostly in Boleros I paid cash for all drinks plus a tip, after 5 days I checked my

account on the information channel on the stateroom TV and found that I was being charged again for all drinks. When I spoke to the ship's management representative he was quite rude, and told me that it was my fault as no cash is accepted at all on board. When I showed him all the bar's receipts none of them were signed by me, and the two barmen accepted the cash and never asked me to sign any receipt. He then told me they assumed the cash was a tip. but we both knew that the barman realised I never knew the rules and they took advantage of it and so I was overcharged $160 dollars. This spoilt the rest of the holiday and would think twice about going Royal Caribbean again. Thomas Cook is partly to blame so we will not travel through them again Main restaurant food was very good and well presented. The waiters were efficient, helpful and friendly, Cleanliness in the stateroom was very good. Beds were very comfortable. Especially good for families with children of all ages. Lots of interesting things to do. We only went on one excursion to climb the Dunns Falls in Jamaica which was good and well worth the effort. All in all a great trip which was spoilt by the two dodgy barman in Boleros and made even worse by the management's attitude to it,

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Oct 21, 2010

Eastern Caribbean

This is the best vacation that I have EVER had! My husband and I cruised- for the first time- as we were celebrating 20 years of marriage. I could not have imagined anything better! We did not eat in the formal dining room but did utilize the Windjammer Cafe for most of our meals. There is a wide variety of food at each sitting but it didn't vary as much as I would have liked it to. CHOPS was divine! Truly the best steak that I have ever eaten

and worth the extra $25 per person price. Johnny Rockets was GREAT, too! It was very nice to eat a hot meal after eating the buffets. I ordered a cake to be delivered to our stateroom on the day of our anniversary and it was incredible! Having never cruised before, I was unsure what to expect. Our room overlooked the Promenade on the 7th floor. It was the size that I anticipated. You have to be crafty when storing luggage but we quickly learned to stash stuff under the bed. There was plenty of room to hang clothes for a week in the closet but we did take extra hangers and used them! Overall, the room was very clean and our attendant was superb. He met our every need! Very comfy beds, too. I don't think that I stopped laughing all week! The activities, such as the Men's Sexy Legs Contest , the Belly Flop and the adults- only game Quest will make your stomach hurt from laughing! The shows are PHENOMENAL! The very talented actors and actresses are quite good. I felt like it was Broadway show quality. Take it all in and enjoy! In a word............ AWESOME!!!!!!!!!! Cannot wait to sail again with RCCL................... Thanks for such a memorable cruise!!!!!!!!!

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Sep 13, 2010

Western Caribbean

This was our third cruise on board RCCL but first on Freedom of the Seas. The ships size is a bit overwhelming but not a problem in getting around. Although, I would strongly suggest maps be given out upon check-in. Basically this cruise was made good by the ship itself and the amenities it offers, whether it be a rock climbing wall, the flow rider on the back of the ship, three separate water/pool areas, inclusive of a water park (H2O Zone for

kids), and perhaps most importantly many elevators. Food was good and had a nice selection. Bar service was nice and especially liked the wine bar and English pub. The worst experience on board was dealing with the most arrogant cruise director we ever encountered. Graham Seymour was absolutely in love with himself and his ego was larger than the ship itself. The first night there my wife said he needs to decide whether he wants to be a cruise director or comedian. On the third night, who turns up to be the late night Comedian? Of course, Graham Seymour. An absolutely pitiful display for a CD. Embarkation and debarkation were easy and the itinerary was pleasant, made better by no weather issues. You cannot go wrong booking on Freedom of the Seas if Mr. Seymour is not your CD. Good, not great. Good portions too Our balcony stateroom was as expected and would mirror that from any other in the industry. Plenty of activities for all ages.

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May 31, 2010

western caribbean

I am a 28 year old female and went on this cruise with my Mum. We booked it to celebrate her 60th birthday as she had always wanted to go on a cruise but I had been less than eager. Any Brit reading this will understand when I say that the stereotype of a cruise is that it is full of old people! This couldn't have been further from the truth- there were lots of young couples, young families and even groups of lads holidaying on their own. It certainly

is for everyone and I think if you want a holiday where you can do as much or as little as you wish, this is perfect for you. The ship was amazing- full of activities and entertainment. The food was exceptional and the service outstanding. The weather was fantastic (although we may have been very lucky in that respect) and the destinations were beautiful. There is plenty of food available, all times night and day, which is included in the price of the cruise. There is room service (although the charge something like $5 for orders made between approx. 1am and 6am); the windjammer, which has buffet style all-you-can-eat meals all day and evening; cafes along the promenade where you can have pizza, deserts etc; a burger bar on deck 11 and of course the main restaurants, which serve three course dinners every evening. On top of this there are restaurants which cost an extra $25 per person. We didn't actually eat there so I can't comment whether it's worth the additional cost. We ate each night at the main restaurant and found the food to be of a very high standard, albeit slightly similar at times (most meat dishes came with mashed potato for example). Dinner consisted of bread rolls, a starter, an entree, a desert and coffee, although if you want two starters and three deserts there's nothing stopping you! The menu was different every night, with a few exceptions, and generally consisted of several meat two veg options, a pasta dish, some fish/ seafood, a couple veggie options and a healthy set menu which guarantees to be under 800 calories. There would have been a small child's menu too, but I didn't really pay attention to it. We went for the any time dining option, which meant we could chose our meal times on a daily basis instead of sticking to the same time each night- just a little bit more flexible taking excursions etc into account. If you want to eat at the most popular times, which I think is around 7:30, then I recommend you book your slot as you leave the restaurant night before. We always ate at the early slot, about 6- 6:30pm and generally you could just show up without having to queue. You always, unless you request otherwise, sit in the same part of the restaurant. We didn’t specifically ask for a two seater table, but always ended up on one. Whether this was sheer luck I don't know, as others were clearly sat on a large table with the same group of strangers all week. The waiting staff were exceptional and, don’t ask me how, remembered everybody's name from day one! There are two or three formal nights a week, which suggest you should dress smartly for dinner i.e suits and dresses. I believe men can borrow dinner jackets if necessary and I sometimes saw them worn over polo shirts! Peoples levels of smartness varied greatly so don't worry if you don't like the idea of having to dress up. Having said that we dressed up every night, through choice, and a lot of others did the same. I didn't feel over dressed on non-formal nights, despite sitting a table away from a bloke in a muscle top for instance! Water and lemonade are free on the ship, but alcoholic drinks and soft drinks aren't. Most of the bars around the pool won't do the free lemonade so you have to walk to the windjammer to get some, although they will serve you water. On day one (only) they have an offer whereby you can purchase a drinks bottle for around $6 ($4 for children) and have unlimited refills for a further $6 a day. We didn't do this but, at ship prices, it did seem like a good deal. Cocktails of the day are available from the bar and from designated waiters carrying them around on trays shouting so nice! They are generally fruity in flavour, mostly rum based and come in a souvenir glass for $7.95, although you can have them without alcohol for $5.95. Alcohol isn't really any more expensive than anywhere else, with a bottle of beer being around $5.95 and bottles of wine starting at $30. FYI the ship is American so you have to be 21 to buy alcohol on board. Having said this they take your age upon boarding the ship as your age throughout the whole cruise, so if you turn 21 on day 2 you will still not be able to drink alcohol! We chose an inside cabin, which we did not regret. This obviously means there is no natural light at all, but for the amount of time we spent in there it really wouldn't have been worth upgrading to a room with a balcony for instance. The rooms are, as you would expect, small and compact. You will need to unpack as there is no room to spread out your suitcase on the floor. There are wardrobes with about eight hangers and shoe racks inside. There is also a facility, for a few dollars per item, to have your clothes ironed for you, although I'm sure there is also an ironing board in the room. There is a small safe inside the wardrobe and a hair dryer hidden in the top right hand drawer in the dresser. There is shampoo and soap in the shower, although not conditioner, and obviously plenty of towels. There is a phone which has a wake-up call facility and digital clock display, although it doesn't glow in the dark. Speaking of the dark I found that a small torch was invaluable as it was pitch black in the night due to the lack of windows, which made navigating to the toilet a little tricky! The ships tannoy, which advertises activities etc throughout the day, is also available in the cabins but can be turned off. There is a large television in the room that shows some standard US channels for free and has pay-per-view movies, but they are quite expensive. Each evening the next days itinerary is left in the room by the Housekeeping and is worth looking at before you dock. It lists all the onboard activities and gives information about the port, docking instructions and weather forecast. Each morning there is also a television programme, which airs on loop between 7am and 10am I think, which is hosted by the cruise director, Allan Brooks, and is a funny and informative run down on the days events. Speaking of house keeping it is worth noting that they can enter your cabin, for various reasons, at any time during the day- don't think just because they've cleaned once they won't be back later. Therefore, if you really don't want to be walked in on, use the do not disturb cards provided! The ship itself was launched in 2006 and is an imposing 13 stories high, carrying approx. 4000 guests and 1500 staff. There are three pools (adult only; fun pool and childrens pool), various restaurants and bars, a casino; an ice rink (for performances and lessons); a theatre; a night club; a library; an internet cafe; a gym; a health spa; a flow rider (kind of surf simulator); two Jacuzzis; a climbing wall; a running track and probably loads of other things that I've forgotten! There are maps etc in the lifts and around most stair wells but basically the promenade (shops, bars and the main restaurant for my time dining is on level 5, the pools and the windjammer are on level 11, the gym is on level 12, the health suit is on level 13 and there are sun chairs all over decks 11, 12 & 13. (Most things are included but some classes in the gym i.e. yoga cost about $12 and the treatments in the health spa are additional too) The health spa does everything from massages to teeth whitening and can be cheaper than back at home. If you want a treatment it may be worth pricing it up and researching it before you go. They are also quieter on port days, so it's best to either book treatments on port days or well in advance on sailing days. There are all sorts of activities on board day and night, ranging from quizes, to children's clubs, to karaoke. Don't worry if you hate the idea of this sort of thing, it won't impose on you unless you want it to! There is a show on every night and they are of a very high standard. They are only about an hour long and are generally shown twice a night. It's worth planning your evening before you go out to make sure you don't miss anything and know where you're going in plenty of time. You can't book the shows (except the ice performance), so I recommend getting there fifteen minutes before its starts. The sun loungers get busy on sailing days, so it's worth getting up on deck early to ensure good seats. The saving of seats for longer than half an hour is not appreciated though. It can get really windy on deck so bring a sarong or something to cover up and keep topping up with sun cream as its really easy to burn without realising it. Excursions can either be booked in advance on line (at least five days prior to departure I believe) or whilst on board the ship. There are pros and cons to both. Pre booking means you don't have to queue but if you wait you may speak with people who have already experienced some of the excursions who can give you recommendations. We also found that you could, sometimes, specify departure times for the excursions (as many were staggered) when booking on board although this option was not available on line. Some trips include lunch but those that don't will often take you to a local restaurant or something. We actually took lunch with us as it gave us more time to explore. We brought sandwich bags from home and filled bagels or bread rolls with meat or cheese at breakfast time and took them with us. This isn’t frowned upon because, don’t forget, it is all you can eat. You can borrow beach towels from stations by the pools on deck 11, which are free but require a $20 deposit (paid on your sea pass card). You are also allowed, encouraged in fact, to take them off the ship during excursions, so no need to bring your own from home taking up unnecessary luggage space. Most days we were told to carry photo ID when we left the ship, although we were never actually asked to produce it at any point. We were told that passports or drivers license were acceptable so, if you're worried about losing your passport, I would suggest carrying your photo drivers license card instead. I would recommend getting off the ship as early as possible on port days. The queues can get really big with people backed up the stairs all the way to deck 5 one day! When getting off look out for the stands displaying leaflets etc as there will be maps of the area, which are really useful. Also try and be prompt getting back to the ship as, although I have no evidence one way or another, they do threaten to leave people behind if they are not back on the ship on time. Carry a pocket full of $1 bills for tipping etc whilst off the ship as it saves you getting your wallet out in front of people. Each port has around 40 to 70 different excursions to chose from but I can only really comment on the ones we chose, as below. Port one LABADEE, HAITI:- Labadee is a private island owned by RC. You will see that all but one of the ‘excursions’ are activity based, i.e. zip wire, water slides, and this is because the island is there solely because of the cruise liner. There is a market and stalls dotted around but they were, understandably in their current climate, very pushy. The ship lay on a buffet lunch at two locations on the island, but food is still served on the ship if you prefer. Labadee has a couple of pretty sandy beaches with cordoned off areas in the sea for swimming and there are beach bars and waiters on hand. Everything is well within walking distance so its definitely worth getting off for the day. Port two OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA:- Dunn River Falls is a must in Jamaica but there are several trips to choose from which include this. We picked Coyaba River Gardens, Museum and Dunns Falls (OR62), which I would recommend, although we didn't actually go to a museum! A sixteen seater air conditioned bus with local guide took us the short distance to the gardens, which we were guided around. Very beautiful, but obviously depends if it's your sort of thing as it's not very cultural if I'm honest. The road trip does show areas of Ocho Rios, but not in any great detail. The Dunns River Falls can either be walked up, literally, or walked along side. If you chose to climb it (which takes about an hour and does require you to be quite nimble) you will need water shoes (which you can hire them for about $7), clothes you donâ't mind getting wet (bikini is acceptable or shorts and T-shirt, whatever you're comfortable in), a change of clothes and a towel. They say valuables can be left in the bus, but that's down to your discretion. If you wear glasses you will need a cord or something to secure them to you else they will almost definitely get washed away. A water proof camera is a great idea- don’t buy photos or DVD’s from the guides, they promise that they will deliver them to the ship but they just take your money and you never see them again. After this the bus took us to the nearest shopping centre and would either leave you there or come back for you an hour later. We stayed as it was only a 5- 10 minute walk back to the port. There were plenty of taxis constantly offering to drive you back, but I don’t know how much they cost and really don’t expect its worth it. The shops sell a lot of local products and souvenirs and generally I didn’t find them too pushy. There is definitely room for negotiations on price. Port three GEORGE TOWN, GRAND CAYMAN:- This ship is too big to dock here so they use a tender (small boat used to ferry people back and forth). Due to the size it can be a little choppy even on a calm day. Because people can only leave the ship every fifteen minutes when the tender leaves the queue is even bigger than normal. The last few tenders returning to the ship are crammed full so I wouldn’t suggest leaving it to the last minute to go back. Most people would say that Stingray City and Seven Mile beach are must see’s. We chose a trip that took us to Stingray City and then back to the port, but if you pay extra for the trip to Seven Mile beach you are on the same bus. On our trip they were just taking anybody who wanted to go to the beach regardless of which trip they had paid for, as the beach is en route to Stingray City. Whether or not this is always the case I cannot say, but it seems you could have gone to the beach for free. I did speak to people who independently got a taxi to and from the beach and they said it was cheaper than the excursion, which did include a drink and lunch but which most people said wasn’t worth it. Stingray City was fabulous- a boat takes you out to a bar about fifteen minutes away and stays there for an hour or so. Despite the distance the water is only waist deep so non swimmers will be fine. Mask and snorkel are included. (On our boat cold water was free from a cooler, but I didn’t know this until after I had bought bottles from the shop) The stingrays are completely safe to be around as they are, basically, pretty tame after all the years of being fed by these boats on a daily basis. They are so used to people that they will swim quite literally swim right through you and brush past you, you can also feed them and have your back ‘massaged’ by them- if you don’t like the idea of this then it may not be for you! People are on board to video the whole experience and sell the DVD’s for $50 but a waterproof camera would save you a lot of money. The shops at the port are predominately expensive jewellery stores and, although there are a few other retailers around, we did find that there wasn’t as much to see here as elsewhere. Having said that if you do wish to purchase jewellery then it’s worth attending the jewellery ‘conference’ which took place on the ship on day two, I think, as they recommend which shops to use and hand out discount cards etc. There is a post office near to the port, just a few streets away (which can be seen on the map), so this is a good place to send your post cards from. Port four COZUMEL, MEXICO:- Once again we were lucky in picking a good trip- Punto Sur Eco Park and snorkel safari (CZA3). This was an open sided jeep which took you, a guide and a dozen other passengers to an ecological park, which has crocodiles, an Inca building a light house and beautiful beaches and scenery. Snorkelling is included but there are sun loungers etc for those who don’t want to participate. How much you enjoy the snorkelling depends on your expectations of it I guess. It is very structured and no one in the group is allowed further than about 15 yards from the guide. They are extremely safety conscious and required everyone to wear life jackets and also had a jet ski ready to transport anyone that got tired back to the shore- ideal for children and beginners. This was generally enjoyed by those who were new to snorkelling but anyone with previous experience was quite disappointed. Poor visibility on the day in question didn’t help admittedly. This particular stop also had a beach side ‘restaurant’ where you could purchase a buffet lunch and the tour bus had free water, soft drinks and beer on board. This trip was about 4 ½ hours in total and I would say was good value. Other people we met went on the ‘cultural and shopping tour’ and said it was terrible- minimal amount of culture and lots of samey shops. There are loads of shops around the port and I would say it was much better then George Town in that respect, much more suitable for finding gifts and souvenirs. OTHER USEFUL INFO:- The ship docks at about 3am on the last morning and everything, except the passengers!, are unloaded during the night. Depending on the next leg of your journey you can either carry your luggage off yourself at about 6am (especially useful for Americans who are driving themselves home) or you can leave your luggage outside your room before 11pm the night before and it will be ready for you to collect from the baggage carousel. You can request that your luggage be taken straight to the airport if you wish, but I think this needs organising during the week, so look out for details. Make sure you read all the documents that are left in your room the night before departure as it includes the luggage labels and your designated exit times etc. You have to leave promptly at you allocated time (which I think ranges between 6:45am and 9:45am) to ensure that your luggage is in the right place at the right time and to keep everything running smoothly and on time. We found it best to get up, take everything from our room (bearing in mind this is only hand luggage at this time) and carry it to breakfast with us. This meant we were ready to leave as soon as the tannoy called your colour. Once again the procedure for the transfers left a little to be desired. It seems the bus driver had to go out of his way to take us to our hotel, after his scheduled trip to the airport, as our stop didn't appear on any drivers list. But we got there in the end!

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May 31, 2010

Eastern Carribian

We just returned home from our first cruise and we were not disappointed! We felt a little overwhelmed the first few minutes but quickly began exploring the ship and learning our way around. The ship is beautiful and user friendly. We left feeling like we had the best vacation ever and motivated to plan our next cruise! Prior to the cruise my husband and I had been on a weight loss journey with both of us achieving great success. We were very

pleased with the selection of food including an extra menu called "Vitality" with healthy choices. We loved the dining room with sit down service even for breakfast and lunch and only ate in the Windjammer a couple of times. While the Windjammer is convienent with buffet style, we wanted the complete experience of relaxing even during mealtimes. The food was wonderful! My husband is a beef eater and was very impressed with every piece of beef he ordered. We had planned to go to Chops but found the dining room so pleasent and the food so good we didn't feel the need. We had My Time Dining which was convienent. One half of one dining room is designated for My Time Dining and our first night was not perfect. It was just the two of us and we were placed at a table right next to the serving station and in a major traffic area. The next night we asked to be put somewhere else and they were very accomodating. We were concerned we would not have the "personal" service with My Time Dining but we had nothing to worry about. Our server, Alicia, called us by name and became one of the highlights of our trip! We were not impressed with the food choices on the Royal Promanade and only tried them once. It was fun getting ice cream at Sprinkles by the pool every afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our stateroom. We had a balcony and I am afraid we will not be able to cruise without one now! We didn't spend alot of time in our stateroom but what time we did was very pleasant. We utilized every bit of storage which we found to be more than we anticipated. There is sufficent space under the beds to store luggage. The bathroom isn't big enough for two people to get ready but I don't like to share the bathroom anyway! Shower was great with wonderful water pressure and plenty of hot water! It wasn't big, but it was more than adaquate. There is a clothes line in the shower that is very useful for drying swimsuits. The stateroom attendants were very attentive without being intrusive. They prepare your stateroom for the night during your dining time so with My Time Dining our steward asked us to put out the "Make up room" sign so he would know when we were going to be out. The bed was really comfortable and we probably slept better than we normally do away from home! We enjoyed many onboard activities including trivia contests, bingo, shopping, evening shows, ice show, rock climbing, flow rider. The Cruise Director, Allen Brooks, was very good and very funny. The Love and Marriage show was hillarious! The 80's dance party was impossible to get into because of the crowd. There were a few times we were frustrated getting into an activity if we were coming from something else and couldn't get there early to get a seat. Quest is a very popular game and was overcrowded. We actually had to sit on the steps. The best activity was lounging and walking the decks looking at the amazingly beautiful ocean! We had many times of very pleasant, casual conversations with other passengers. The last day of sea the ship did a fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation, "Walk for Wishes" and we were very blessed to participate. We had our very first massage in the spa and it was fantastic! They do try to sell you products at the end of the massage. The fitness area is unbelievable! Unfortunately we didn't use it as much as we thought we would. Next time, for sure! Many activities require extra money to participate but there is plenty to do that doesn't. Our excursions would have been better if the weather would have cooperated. It was cloudy and rainy both days at St. Maartin and St. Thomas. One of our excursions, Kayaking and Snorkling at St Maartin was canceled due to lack of interest, which apparently rarely happens. We had no trouble booking another one. Our excursion at St. Maartin actually got back late. We were supposed to be back at 4pm to be back on the ship at 4:15. We didn't get back until 4:30, our group was the last people on board. We were told that if you book your excursion through the ship they will not leave without you but if you book an excursion with a local company the ship is under no obligation to wait. We didn't spend much time on Coco Cay. We spent the morning on the ship at the spa. We were scheduled for parasailing in the afternoon another first for us. We loved it! We took this cruise to celebrate our 30th anniversary and some other significant life milestones. We had a wonderful time and came home refreshed and transformed. The time we spent together without phones, computers and TV gave us special time together. We found we didn't think about anything (jobs, family) except what we were doing the whole week! Another first for us and one we are treasuring and determined to incorporate in our lives on a regular basis.

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By Sil_CR

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May 10, 2010

Caribbean

Overall cruise experience was okay. Nothing extraordinary about it. Not too many things to do on ship for younger crowd except for rock climbing, surfing, and the usual pool wading. The food was okay. Could've been one hundred times better. Didn't get a chance to order room service because the menu was so so so limited...down to one page total for all foods which i think is rediculous. Not a variety of food to choose from for those days at

sea. Options (that are free) include your buffet, which out of ten stars I give it a four, the coffee shop, and a pizza place....J.Rockets is good, but you'll have to pay. Stateroom was nice...nothing great nothing terrible about it Not enough onboard activities. EVERYTHING IS PACKED. Dance class is so packed you'll be stepping on someone or getting stepped on. Scrapbooking class is limited to 25 people and is not offered often enough!!!! The night clubs are totally lame and EMPTY! You'll get about 10-20 people on a good night. Oh and the DJ is terrible! The surf pool is so packed you have to wait at least 15-20 minutes before you get a chance to try it and when you do it's usually over in ten seconds at most...and NO you don't get to try again unless you stand in line all over again. Stay away from tree top excursion in St. Maarten! It's expensive for one, two-you go in groups of almost sixty, and three it'll take 3-4 hours, but not because the excursion takes long, but because you have to wait for your group of 60 to finish the excursion!!!! Crazy waste of time that could've been done in maybe an hour and a half. You'll spend most of your time here so don't plan on having too much time for the beautiful beaches. I say save your money and go to the beach! If I could do it over again I'd do a ship with a crowd that's a little younger..not immature younger. This cruise is meant for 55+.

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May 4, 2010

western caribbean

This was a fantastic cruise, with the exception of PARK WEST ART AUCTIONS. We are in a legal battle with this company who has art auctions on ship. Do a web search on them, and it will show all the misrepresentation and scams this company is pulling onboard numerous ships. Plenty, varied, and very good! Small, but other than sleep and shower, we spent no time in our cabin. A lot to do, not enough hours in a day! Zipline in Haiti....a must

do!!

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May 4, 2010

western caribbean

This was a fantastic cruise, with the exception of PARK WEST ART AUCTIONS. We are in a legal battle with this company who has art auctions on ship. Do a web search on them, and it will show all the misrepresentation and scams this company is pulling onboard numerous ships. Plenty, varied, and very good! Small, but other than sleep and shower, we spent no time in our cabin. A lot to do, not enough hours in a day! Zipline in Haiti....a must

do!!

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May 4, 2010

western caribbean

This was a fantastic cruise, with the exception of PARK WEST ART AUCTIONS. We are in a legal battle with this company who has art auctions on ship. Do a web search on them, and it will show all the misrepresentation and scams this company is pulling onboard numerous ships. Plenty, varied, and very good! Small, but other than sleep and shower, we spent no time in our cabin. A lot to do, not enough hours in a day! Zipline in Haiti....a must

do!!

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Mar 7, 2010

caribbean

We were traveling as a group of 10 family and friends. The ship was beautiful and roomy. We were disappointed in the fact that there were many more passengers on board compared to Adventure of the Seas, which we had been on the 2 cruises prior to this one, but the venues for evening activities had not increased in size. We enjoy going to the showroom after dinner and then to the pub or schooner bar for drinks and entertainment. We missed the

show in the showroom a couple of nights because we did not get there 30-45 minutes prior to the start in order to get a seat (and we were not looking for all 10 to sit together either) and only two nights did we get a spot in either the pub or schooner bar in order to enjoy the entertainment there. Compared to Adventure this was disappointing. The food was exactly what we expected from our previous cruises on Royal Caribbean. We love the dining room experience and food is top notch. The Wind Jammer buffet is a great breakfast or lunch experience. There is something for everyone. My wife and I had a promenade room. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that we could not hear anything that was going on down on the promenade. I enjoyed to the flow rider as did my 23 year old son and his friend and their wives. My wife enjoyed just relaxing by the pool and being waited on. We do not care if we are entertained during the day, but we do enjoy the night life. At St. Thomas we took the trolley into town and hired our own tour, which was a tour of the island. At $20 a person it was well worth it. The tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly. At St. Maarteen, we took the water taxi to town and enjoyed shopping. On a previous cruise, we had purchased the America's Cup yatching experience, again well worth the price. Not impressed with Coco Cay. Our overall cruise experience with Royal Caribbean as a whole has been very satisfactory. We have booked another cruise but not on Freedom. We are going to try the Mariner in Sept 2010 and the Mexican Riviera.

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Feb 21, 2010

eastern caribean

My family and I were very very pleased with the freedom. When we first got there we were amazed, the carnival cruise was next to ours and the freedom of the seas was much bigger and nicer. All the staff was helpful and friendly. The food was absolutely UNBELIEVABLE and the waiters were soo nice and patient with us. Every time we went back to our room it was clean and spotless. The activities were alot of fun and the staff for the kids groups were

very good to my kids. The pool,tables, towels,chairs, everything was always clean and ready to be used. i Would really recommend this ship for anyone that wants to have a good time. you'd be crazy not to like this ship. The mall and restaurants are very cool and neat. There is soo much food you can practically eat all day if you wanted to. and the room service was just as good as the food and it came very fast. The staff bring you your food and come clean it up and take it away. again i recommend it to ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The food was so unbelievable and always fresh. It was always ready and you could eat all day if you wanted to.!! My stateroom was good every time we left they would make my kids an animal from a towel and they really tried hard to clean up our room! There were soo many! They had activities most of the day such as,Rock Climbing,Flow Ridder,Ice Skating,Swimming,Contests,Dances you name it they've got it. i will say go to as many excursions as possible they are soo much fun, my favorite was snorkeling and the jet ski in St. Thomas and St. Martin. It was amazing and very fun my family and i enjoyed it very much and would go back as soon as possible. I definitely recommend this cruise!

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By Teri_CR

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Jan 8, 2010

caribbean

This was my first and last cruise with Royal Caribbean. i have been on numerous other cruises and was highly disappointed our experience. The food was good, nothing outstanding, but nothing was bad either. i was disappointed in no midnight buffets. The main buffet restaurant closed at 9pm and you could only get pizza and water after that. There was only one ice cream machine on the whole ship, which carries 4,300 people, and it closed at 8pm.

Our stateroom overlooked the promenade, but was disappointing because you had to lean over the couch and look down to see anything beside the windows across from ours. There were not many onboard activities and the ones they did have didn't start until 10:30 or 11:30 at night. we stayed in the room a lot or at the casino because there wasn't much else to do. We are not big drinkers and that seeemed to be the only thing to do at night. Our best excursion was in Cozumel, Mexican cuisine cooking and tasting. we had a blast! Luis was our chef and he was the best, very friendly and helpful. this was by far one of the best excursions we've ever done and will do it again. The staff was very unfriendly except in the dining room, they were the only employees that we encountered that smiled and would talk to you. we never received our customer satisfaction survey which they said would be in our room on the last night. we wanted to put the tips for the staff on our credit card on the last night and they told us we couldn't, that the dealine was the day before. the best thing about the ship was the Beatles show. they were great! i'm not that big of a Beatles fan, but was highly impressed with this group of men.

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Oct 2, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

We were traveling with 6 other friends. Everything about the cruise was above average. and we had a wonderful time. Freedom of the Seas is a beautiful ship. Our group had so much fun we book the same ship for next year except for the Western Caribbean. There were a couple of negatives about the ship: too many smokers and not enough smoke free areas. The casino was really heavy with smoke. Parents also need to have better control over their children

and not let them run wild. I would not want to travel on this ship during spring break or summer when kids our out of school. The food in the main dining area was above average and very well presented. Our table was just our group which made it fun. Our waiter Joel and assistant waiter Chris were very attentive and the service was great. The two best food experiences were Chops ($25) and Portofino ($20) which is an additional charge per person but well worth it. The rack of lamb Chops was some of the best I have ever had. I had the grilled mixed seafood and Portofino. This was good, but my husband's fillet steak looked much better and will be my choice next time. I also had the best Tiramisu in Portofino - make sure to order this. The view from this dining room was exceptional. We did dine both times as a group. Next time I will have dinner alone with my husband at Portofinos as the view was beautiful and romantic. For breakfast we ordered room service several mornings. Everything was good, hot and on time. Just make sure you put your card out the night before. We had breakfast in Windjammers one morning and the main dining room the next. The eggs Benedict are excellent. We also had breakfast in the main dining room on departure morning as recommended from or waitress in Portafinos. She said Windjammers tends to be crazy the last morning and the dining room quicker and more relaxing. This was a great suggestion and I will remember it for future cruises. Our stateroom (7394) was spacious and nice. The bed was very comfortable (most comfortable of any ship we have been on. There was also a queen sofa bed with a coffee table. The balcony had two chairs and a small side table in between. A larger table either inside or on the balcony would have been nice to eat breakfast from room service. Otherwise it is a balancing act. We only saw our stateroom attendant a few times in the hall. Our room was made up nicely twice a day. Past experience is the stateroom attendants are usually falling all over you. I did have to ask for extra towels the first day as only two bath towels were in the bathroom. The towels are not changed each day unless you left them in the shower on the floor. It would have been nice to have the attendant ask us if there was anything we needed or he could do for us. Also we did not spend as much time on the balcony as I would have liked. The person in the room next to us was very loud on the balcony; complete with smokers hack and talking about his laxatives he took the night before (great for breakfast). But, this is just the luck of the draw and not the cruise line's fault. This was a trip to relax for us. On sea days we hung out at the pool a lot. The fitness center was fantastic and the equipment first class. There is nothing like 45 minutes on the tread mill looking at the deep blue sea. I had a manicure at the spa which was better than average. I did book a 75 minute hot stone massage but decided to cancel. It was expensive $195 for knowing nothing about the massage therapist. Again, you are not repeat business and it would be the luck of the draw. Other ladies in my group used the services. They rated the facial as average, and the massage as relaxing but fluff - nothing bad but just average. I can book three massages at home for the price of one on the cruise and know what to expect. This is just a personal choice. I did spend time in the casino - fun but not a winner. The dealers at the black jack table were great for all experience levels. The ice show was fantastic - make sure to get your free tickets for this. The magic show was good. My friends and I enjoyed the music in the Pub. The jewelry store on the ship was okay but better deals are found on shore. My husband did the golf on the ship and enjoyed this. There seems to be a little bit of everything for everyone but you are nickel and dimed for everything. The booking price is a great deal but the additional charges add up by the end of the trip - this is not a complaint but just something passengers should be aware of. We really did not do any excursions -- except a deep sea fishing trip in St. Maarten. We have been to St. Thomas in the past and St. Maarten. Coco Cay is a nice beach experience. I always bring a cheap blow up raft to use plus we always bring our own fins and snorkel and rent the float vest. We also wore walking shoes over so we could hike around the island. I always bring a water bottle to fill up from the water cooler as $4 a pop for water is expensive. In St. Maarten we booked a deep sea fishing trip from the ship. This was a joke. The boat had 6 guests from the ship. Each guest got two 20 minute time to sit in the fishing chair. One guy caught a fish in the first 15 minutes. After that, no one ever touched a pole again. The ship was in sight all the time. The captain and mate did not care or try to get the guys on fish - after all they were not repeat business. This excursion was $225 per person. Our husbands filled out a complaint form at guest relations. It took a day for an answer and the ship issue a full refund for the excursion. We did not expect this. My husband just wanted to let them know for future guests. The refund was a pleasant surprise and says a lot about RCI customer service! On St. Maarten the ladies in our group took a cab to Marigot on the French side while the guys were fishing. The ride was beautiful. We walked around the town around the marina and had a great lunch at a local "'Lolo" (sidewalk cafe). We ate at Rosemary's and had a local fare. I tried the goat which was wonderful. This place is a real treat. The cab ride was $7 per person from the dock and took about 20 minutes. You can also walk to the fort from here. I did Orient Beach and the fort on a previous trip. This is fun if you have not been before. Would we go again on Freedom of the Seas? Yes and we booked on the ship for next year.

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Aug 8, 2009

Western Caribbean

This was a great cruise and an overall great experience. The ship was absolutely beautiful and massive and had lots to do. The food was excellent and there was great variety in choices unlike the Disney and Carnival ships. The ports of call were good, Cozumel and Grand Cayman were excellent. Labadee was so-so, and we did not get off the ship in Ocho Rios. We have done this particular itinerary before (with Royal Caribbean and Carnival) and enjoyed

it more on the Freedom. The food was very good. The food in the Windjammer and Jade buffets was good quality and a lot of variation for a buffet. This was the place to go for breakfast and lunch, but the dining room was far better for dinner. The Johnny Rockets on the ship was very cool. The food was good and the service was excellent. The dining room was by far the best. The food was excellent, and there was a decent variety of choices. The service in the dining room was excellent. Our waiter Khantee, assistant waiter Ed, and head waiter Suleyman all were great waiters, very friendly, attentive, and always catered to our needs without being asked. The dining room staff went above and beyond, and that is hard to do when you have 85,000 meals a day to handle. The stateroom was nice. The balcony view was great, and we enjoyed the flat screen TV. The stateroom cleaning staff was the only real disappointment on this cruise. The cleaning was done the required twice per day, but at the bare minimum. The bar of soap in the shower was never changed once over the course of the week. There weren't always fresh towels either. Our attendant was also not very friendly compared to previous experiences. The onboard activities were far superior to any other ship. The rock climbing and ice skating were fun, and the Flow rider was very cool. The pools were nice, as were the hot tubs. The h2o zone is great for young kids. On Labadee, the best option for us was to sit and enjoy the beach. We did not do any excursions other than the water slide for the kids. The excursions in Ocho Rios were so-so other than Dunn's River Falls which we had done in a past cruise. I would recommend that to anyone physically able. Unfortunately our 9 year old broke her toe in the kids program, so she wasn't able to do this. This was one of the reasons we stayed on the ship in Ocho Rios. In Grand Cayman, we did the 7 mile beach break. The beach was beautiful. The wave runners on the beach were also fun for anyone able to drive them. The only rip off was the food. The transportation was a glorified school bus, but it did the job and was better than a taxi. In Cozumel, we did the Playa Mia beach break. The beach was nice but not as nice as Grand Cayman. They had the wave runners here as well. The drink service was nice, but the food was very mediocre and overpriced. It was a buffet style place and was $16 a person. RIP OFF! Don't pay for the package that includes the transportation and food in Cozumel. Taking a taxi here is cheaper and the food isn't worth it. Well, this cruise was amazing, but I feel compelled to mention our original experience with Royal Caribbean relating to this cruise. This actually was our second attempt, but our 3rd or 4th or cruise with Royal Caribbean. The original cruise on the Freedom we were scheduled to take was on July 5th from Port Canaveral. We booked over the phone with Royal Caribbean and were handled by a man named Bernardo. When we inquired about whether we would need a passport for the cruise, he said that a birth certificate would be fine and left it at that and made no further mention of any birth certificate requirements. We drove to the port (we are in Orlando FL, about an hours drive). We had our bags checked by the porters, got through security and everything, and were at the check in counter. We handed them our documents, which had been used on all previous cruises with Royal Caribbean, and were suddenly shunted off to a different counter. Now imagine our surprise when the agent bluntly stated to us "We can't let your husband sail." The excuse they gave was that the birth certificate he has, was hospital issued, and wasn't acceptable. This was the birth certificate he used about 2-3 years ago on RC. No mention was made to us by Bernard, and in their confirmation emails nothing about this is mentioned. They also told us that we would receieve no compensation if we didn't go and that we should split our family up and go to save the money. At this point, my daughter was hysterical, my husband and son were extremely angry and fired up, and I was extremely upset. The pier agents were extremely rude and incompetent and did absolutely nothing to help us at all. They also implied that out luggage would be in limbo for the week and we wouldn't get it. We decided to abandon this cruise and called Royal Caribbean corporate numerous times, finally getting them to reschedule us on the August cruise and recieve 100% credit minus a $500 upcharge. We were upset with RC corporate but the cruise made up for it.

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Jul 13, 2009

Western Carribean

This was our second trip on the Freedom but our first out of Port Canaveral, which was far superior to Miami. The ship is simply outstanding. We found the service to be top notch. Our family has kids from 18 years of age down to 12. All of the chiidren were totally entertained. I wholeheartedly offer my recommendation for this ship. The overall food quality was excellent. We preferred the specialty dining to the general dining option.

We had previously stayed in the Presidential suite and the Royal Suite-both of which were amazing. Although, we did prefer the Royal due to the location. We also had a regular suite which was excellent as well. Good variety for all the entertainment. Note: there is enough to do on this ship to avoid duplication on repeat cruises. However, you should be aware that the venues and programs do not change regularly. We saw the same shows, etc. that we saw when we cruised a year prior. No complaints though-we would sail again tomorrow if we could. We especially enjoyed Cozumel. The overall rating for the cruise is outstanding

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Jun 7, 2009

western carribean

Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines gives a whole new meaning to being treated as royality. They, the entire staff from housekeeping to the servers, guest relations to cruise director make sure that your every need is met. Every night my husband would say to our waiter, "for dessert I will take cherry pie". That was never on the menu, however, but Thursday night sure enough they made a cherry pie for my husband! It was not on the menu! Just for our

table! Truly, they go beyond the call! Ricardo you rock!!! The food was awesome and believe me in no way or form short on supply! I have never seen so much food! At dinner everything was presented just like you see on food network. Just to pretty to eat! Just kidding about the last part, we did eat!!!! Whether you were at the Windjammer or in the main dining room or on the Promenade it was great. Even room service!!! We were on the 6th deck and had a balcony. The balcony was wonderful! Sitting out there on the balcony early on the morning or late at night it was beautiful. Be care when you book, if you need that extra bed make sure your couch is a pull out and not a bunk from the ceiling! Oh, and what water pressure in shower! It was great! There was lots to do and see. Make sure you get tickets for the Ice Skating Show. They are free, but you need to get a ticket. The quest is also alot of fun! Lots to do and see. I loved the casino! If you take the eastern Caribbean only 3 stops. Shopping is not that great on the Eastern side. Take the western Caribbean, they have 4 stops which is much better! On the eastern the excursions fill up really fast! There were 6 of us who went together. We got on the boat with much ease, got our sea pass, headed upstairs for lunch at the Windjammer. When we were done with lunch we went to our room. Much to our surprise our luggage was there! The eight days were wonderful. Staff was wonderful and made you feel special. By the end of the week we wanted to take our server Ricardo home with us. He felt like family!

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May 24, 2009

Eastern Caribbean

Seventh cruise with Royal Caribbean. First cruise on Freedom of the Seas. This may be the world's largest cruise ship but it has a way to go as best cruise ship. I noticed a reduction in service and food quantity. The one item that went up was the prices. You might get a good cruise fare but the increased prices on board ship will zero out any savings. If you plan to cruise with young children--the Adventure Ocean program for the 3-6 year

olds is less than satisfactory. When the child does not want to return the next day, something is wrong. Good food, but the portions are smaller this year. Fine, excellent service.

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Oct 25, 2008

Carribean

Thank goodness the weather was decent and the people we sat with at dinner were great becasue otherwise this was a dud of a trip. This was my fourth cruise, the first - and last - on Royal Carribean. We had nothing but problems and poor service. I should say that the room attendents and wait staff were fine. The shore excusrion staff were not helpful and when two - yes two - of our trips were cancelled - we were offered no compensation. The first

of our excusrions was calypso rafting in Jamaica - they were 1 hour late picking us up and the dozen or so people we asked for help simply walked away from us without assisting. When we finally were picked up we were brought to the place we were to go rafting only to be told the water was to high to do so. Apparently someone forgot to pass this along and our bus of vacationers was very dissapointed and angry. We were returned to port where we all had to argue to be refunded. We were offered to join another tour that was already 2 hours in progress but would have needed to pay full price. The next day in Grand Caymen we were going to swim with stingrays at a sand bar, which we had done before and enjoyed. 1 hour into our catamaran ride to the sand bar it was announced that there were rip tides and we could not do that either. That was a bummer, not really Royal Carribean's fault either, but again, no pat on the back for our lost time and dissapointment like I would have anticipated. We did enjoy Labadi, but instructions on meeting place to take our excursion were poor and we were late. The beach was ok, not as clean as I would have expected, especially for a private island owned by the cruise line. Also some of the people we were traveling with saw men handcuffed sitting on a wall - wierd on a private island. Oh I should mention the same traveling companions saw a man dead slummped over his stearing wheel, they describe execution style, when they were horseback riding in Jamaica. Well, then my husband purchased visine for $11.00 on the boat and we believe the cashier never gave him his card back. We spent the next 5 minutes searching for the card, went to the guest relations desk and was issued a new card. We were assured no one could use his lost card because it has a picture that appears on the register when they run the card. To make a long story short - cartons of cigarettes were purchased 5 minutes after the visine, in the same store, by the same cashier. I HAD to have been standing right there when they were purchased and I am convinced the cashier had something to do with it. I should also mention it is the first cruise we opted for a balcony and the chair on the balcony was broken. I complained and even so it was never replaced. We did make a written complaint after the Calypso Rafting extravaganza and I believe that is why the last night of the cruise, when everyone received guest comment forms, we did not receive one. I was very disappointed in this cruise, although we did try to make the best of it - after all it is vacation in warm weather! I will never travel with Royal Carribean again.

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Sep 29, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

First up we got to the port area in Miami within about an hour of the gates closing which was good because the staff informed us that it was total chaos and completely out of control which we are very grateful that we missed. As a result embarkation was pretty swift considering we were so late getting to the terminal. But unfortunately we didn’t miss the evacuation drill which was fine except for our fellow cruisers were already

getting testy and they hadn’t even been on ship all that long. We had a deluxe balcony stateroom. Now was this any bigger than the standard balcony stateroom? Not by much other than the price. It was well appointed which made two people living in it for a week relatively comfortable. The bathroom was great because it had a shower door rather than a shower curtain that stuck to you when you bathed. Thumbs up for that!! Hands down one of the best beds I have ever slept on on ship so that was a total plus because we ended up spending most of our time in our cabin. I will explain why later. Let me say that this is one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen. You couldn't ask for a better set up ever on a ship. There were some really classy elements to the Freedom OTS.  First up, the service staff was fantastic whether it was in the rooms, on the deck or in the dining room, you just couldn’t get better than the wonderful staff who took great care of us save for a few small items. The Promenade layout is a really neat concept for a ship.  It made for easy transit from bow to aft and was an enjoyable place to kick your feet up and people watch. However, on formal nights it was nearly impossible to transit the promenade because of the constant bottle neck of people trying to take their pictures with or of friends while standing half way across the “street” and they routinely got very surly when the crowd wouldn’t comply with the constant stopping.  Hands down the best thing about this ship is that there were no transit points to or from any attractions on the boat through a dining area.  This time there was no eating your lunch and having a man walk by in a Speedo with his groin at eye level to your plate. Also, the staff was very insistent in reminding people that they needed to be covered to dine and that was a really awesome change from previous cruises we have taken. Food, lets talk about food. Chops is hands down one of the best places we have eaten ship or shore so we feel it was a real treat to dine in such a great atmosphere with such great service. The Windjammer was also a great place to eat as well. The food selections were adequate and some what healthy (who diets on a cruise anyway?) the staff again was a dream however I wish our fellow cruisers were better behaved. I noticed a lot of snipping at the wait staff, ordering them around as if they were servants and we saw very little in the way of "please" and "thank you" despite their great level of service. Our group of 7 tended to over compensate on our praise of the wait staff as a result we had people who would see us and automatically find us a table in their section so that was a wonderful result of the kindness on our parts. Ports of call: Our first stop of Labadee was incredible. It was a great opportunity to get off the ship and relax and enjoy the water.  I will be honest even in this beautiful setting people managed to infringe upon our space with cigarettes.  At one point people were standing in the water up to their waist and were still smoking.  I was so incensed when someone just came over, lay down next to me and lit up without asking me if it was okay that the first chance I got I chucked their pack of cigarettes in the bushes beyond my lounge chair. Yup, it was me and I did it more than once too and given the same situation I would do it again.  Ocho Rios was an interesting experience.  They never tell you on the ship that the admission to Dunn’s River Falls is a near fortune at $15.00 a head plus the $15.00 cab ride (which you could walk to if you took the time) other than that there isn’t much too see in Ocho Rios however there is some pretty decent shopping and unlike a lot of other islands most are willing to negotiate on their prices to move merchandise.  This is the place to buy your cigars too because Grand Cayman duty on tobacco will kill you and there is no price negotiation at all on cigars in Cozumel. So if you want cigars buy them here!! Grand Cayman is always a favorite of our traveling group.  Time spent out at sting ray city is well worth the energy however don’t feel obligated to book your adventure through the ship. Both times we have been here we have walked out of the duty free plaza and hired a local non-ship contracted charter service and we haven’t been disappointed yet. Be sure you have adjusted your watch to reflect the ships time table though, the last think you want to be doing is paying someone to speed boat you out to the ship after the last tender leaves the pier. Cozumel is one in credible place to visit and since the island isn’t very big consider renting a scooter and tooling about off the common route of downtown shopping row. We had done ChanKanab state park last time in town which was well worth the time on our first venture into Cozumel.  This time around however we decided to tour on the hoof and had a great time once we got off the shopping row and into the real downtown of Cozumel.  We took a hard right off the row of bars and jewelry shops and were lucky to find a beautiful little restaurant that was the hang out of a lot of locals.  It was great to watch them pull obviously very fresh fish out of coolers sitting in front of the kitchen.  To say the food was great would be a lie, it was fantastic, but keep in mind this in to fancy eating your going to experience and its not the run of the mill Carlos and Charlie’s this is true Anthony Bourdain traveler food. Simple, good and lots of it, the Abuello Gerardo was well worth the time it took to find it. The downsides of cruising on the Freedom OTS were few but profound.  First and foremost there was an absolute over abundance of cigarette smoking on this ship. Had we known that there were very few smoke free zones on this ship we would have NEVER booked a cruise for 7 with two asthmatics and two health nuts among us.  It was overwhelming and I don’t use that word lightly.  At no time was there a point where we felt we could be free of cigarette smoke except in our rooms. This is why we stayed in them so much of the time.  Even the hallways were inundated with cigarette smoke even though they were not a designated smoking area. Getting in an elevator with multiple people who were just saturated with the stench of smoke was very overwhelming to people with asthma.  This was ultimately a horrible disappointment to us and unfortunately it was also a sticking point with the staff as there was very little if any enforcement of the non-smoking areas. Second, I love kids, but there were children everywhere on this ship including 18 and over shows, in bars, clubs and 90% of the time they were completely unsupervised. I know that there were lots of events geared for kids of all ages and still can’t figure out how people could just blindly let their children’s ill behavior impede the comfort of others. Such as children screaming bloody murder in the dining room while people around them cringed or left and the parents just sat there and ate as if nothing was going on or they just didn’t care about the impact that their child was having on the diners around them. There were multiple times that I was run over in the hallways by pre-teens running the halls jumping up to swat the fire sprinkler valves as they ran past and over me. What really steamed me is that on multiple occasions I had to ask the staff to ask parents to take their kids out of the adult’s only hot tubs and solarium areas. I had pulled a muscle in my back shortly after getting on board and all I wanted to do was float peacefully in the AO (adults only) hot tub to relieve my discomfort and what I got instead was children splashing and jumping in and out even though the area was plainly marked as being an adults only area. Again this is another sticking point where enforcement was a huge issue on this ship.  Constantly having to ask staff to enforce plainly marked rules was tiring and ultimately we just stopped going out on the decks. Last, what ever you do, do not get sick on one of these ships. Make sure that you pack a “just in case” supply of Pepto, Alka Seltzer, Bandaids, Tylenol or other pain reliever, Imodium and anything else you can think of that you may need to stave off any cough cold or potential infection you may get because you will pay a minimum of $1.00 for a single serving of any of these items in the infirmary.  My suggestion is you just don’t get sick here is why… A group of us ate at the Johnny Rockets onboard and within 2 hours the ones who ate beef hamburgers were horribly sick with intestinal issues.  One of us was so sick that he sought treatment at the infirmary.  It was just after 8 pm when he went and after 20 minutes of filing out paperwork and many inferences of “oh you ate in Cozumel yesterday” he got up and walked out because they considered his case an emergency since he was there after the two hour window of general admin hours that ended at 6 pm and the purposed cost of this visit? An immediate $168.00 charge to his sail and sign card before ever seeing the doctor and before any medications were administered.  Fortunately he was with a group of former ER nurses because when the medical staff said they wanted to draw his blood there was a very audible round of protest as to just why were they wanting to do that for an intestinal issue?  All in all he ended up staying in his room and “gutting” it out over the next 8 hours. But he was in misery the whole time. So, was Freedom of the Seas and Royal Caribbean a line that I would consider booking on again? In a one word answer, no.  Ultimately we felt that the price of the cruise fare, the horrid amount of smoking, out of control children and the feeling of being constantly nickel and dime'd by the cruise line for any and everything was way over the top.  We LOVE cruising but this was a trip none of us wants to experience again and because of it we are considering taking a year off of cruising and renting a villa in Aruba for all of us to share and give a cruise another try in 2009. All in all, the boat was beautiful and the staff was stellar but the experience over all was very poor and disappointing.    

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By Brad_CR

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Jun 16, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

Freedom of the Seas is an amazing ship.  It is HUGE!!!!  We arrived in Miami via the international airport, caught a shuttle there at the airport that took us straight to the ship (which was great because I was worried about finding the right port & what not).  We checked our luggage & boarded around 1:30 or 2:00pm went to check out our room.  The room was AWESOME!  7307 was the room number.   It was 2 floors above the Promenade,

right above the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream joint & had two nice windows which overlooked the Promenade.  The room had a queen sized bed in it (two twins pushed together) which was extremely comfortable.  It also had seating areas at the two windows, a hide-a-bed- couch next to a wardrobe & a slim “closet” , a decent sized bathroom & nice extra room with bunk beds & a slim wardrobe, a nice sized walk-in closet  with a dressing table next to the bed as well.   After checking out the room we walked through the Promenade checking out all the stores there.  Soon we were called to do the safety “class” & then we were underway.  We made our way to the 11th deck where the pools & such were located where we could watch as we left port.   We then got ready for our early dinner time in the dining hall (which was HUGE & incredible) at Isaac’s.  The meals were very good.  We always ate more than our fill.  The wait staff was excellent.   They also put on a couple of small “shows” a couple of the days near the end of the week.  We ate at the Windjammer every morning for breakfast.  They always had a ton of great food to choose from.  We always sat at the very rear of the ship to look out over the ocean as we ate.  The whole rear area is glassed in, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a spot! Chops (The steak house on board) had probably one of the best steaks I’ve ever encountered.  Great!!!  Deserts were awesome as well!  Portofino’s (The “Italian” restaurant) was good as well.  Not nearly as good as Chops but well worth the little bit of money it cost to eat there.  Make sure you make reservations on your 1st day on the ship, it fills quickly! We ate pizza very late every night since they were open until 3:00am (& because it’s free) & had Ben & Jerry’s ice cream twice during the week (EXCELLENT CHOCOLATE SHAKES!!!).  We were up late every night because there was so much to do.  The night club was nice, two story, small, but nice.  There was a “piano bar” / Irish Pub on the Promenade as well.  It was always packed & loud with folks having a grand ole’ time. There is always something going on during the day, “rock climbing”, surfing, putt putt golf, basketball, bingo, ice skating, movies on the 2nd deck,  belly flop contests, water volleyball competitions to just plain ole’ laying out on the deck sunning yourself into oblivion! There was a parade on the Promenade the 1st night which was a lot of fun to watch from our room.  There was also another party on the Promenade later that week.  It was a great time!   The kid’s area was just that, a kid crazy area with TONS of stuff for them to do out there.  The kid’s area (that I saw from the windows, as we don’t have children) was really impressive.  The shows at night were A+.  Make sure you see them all!!!  The cruise director was over the top!!!  He could have had his own show if he wanted.  The only draw back to the shows was the fact that it was at the front of the boat on the lower levels & traveling at 20 knots, you tend to feel a lot of movement.  Nothing terrible, but you still did feel it a bit more than any other part of the ship.  The Casino was nice, it needed to be a bit more closed off to the under 18 crowd as there were MANY under aged folk running through there. We visited San Juan & St. Marteen & were supposed to make St. Thomas, but there was an unfortunate accident aboard the ship & it altered our time frame.   But Royal Caribbean did their best to make up for something that was out of anyone’s control, which was very nice. The islands were nice, but similar to any other tourist area you may have been to, just a lot of shops with items for sale cheaper than what you could find here in the U.S.A. & lots of locals just trying to make a living (all of which were very nice folk, at least in my experience). Overall our cruise experience was really incredible.  We had a wonderful time & would definitely recommend this ship as the one to go on.  All others I think will have a difficult time making as good an impression on me.  So you can officially say I’m spoiled or I’m a cruise ship snob now.  You will be too once you’ve stayed aboard this ship.    

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Sep 16, 2006

Western Caribbean

Embarkation Day As my husband and I arrived to the port I was dumbfounded at the sight of Freedom. The sheer size of her was enough to astound anyone. Our past cruise was on a ship a little over 800 feet in length and I thought that was big. We could only smile in anticipation of what was to come!! We had completed the "pre-board" online before the cruise which sped up our check in time once arriving at the port. This was great, as

we didn't wait as long as I expected since she held 3600+ passengers but I must say that I was a little disappointed that where we boarded the ship, they didn't do the "Welcome Aboard" pictures. This is something that Royal Caribbean must change. (I am not sure why they didn't do this??) Anyhow, check in went smoothly. Once aboard, we took our carry-ons to our room which was a balcony on the port side. Cabin number 8558 is just three decks below the solarium. Our room was plenty big enough, considering the amount of time spent there was very little. The bathroom was spacious enough to allow my husband and I to both brush our teeth at the same time. There is a couch in the cabins and they are nice, but enough can not be said about the beds! This was definitely the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. The bedding is far from broken in and to say the least, I didn't move a muscle the first night when I slept. (Seriously!!) I awoke in the exact same position that I fell asleep in. Part of this may have been because I was so tired since my day had begun at 2:00am (our flight left Indianapolis at 6:00am) but the biggest part was just because the bed was wonderful. After checking out our cabin, we went to the Windjammer Cafe for lunch. The food was terrific and there was plenty of variety. I felt that since the Windjammer and Jade Cafe's are actually one large dining area, RCCL should have allowed a large seating area. We spent several minutes walking around with our food trying to find a seat. (The cafes form a circle with Windjammer going around the left and Jade going around the right. They meet in the middle where the hamburgers and French fries are.) The muster drill, although boring as they all are, went quickly. We were anxious to get to the front of the ship for the sail away. The weather was very warm with a light cloud cover. After we left the port, we walked around to view the beautiful ship. I have to say that I was so overwhelmed with the ship that we missed many of the activities that first evening. Without boring you, I will say that there are many things that are not to be missed. The Ice Show is definitely something that you must get tickets for as early as possible. We got tickets for the Thursday evening show and when we realized that it was at 5pm and we had early seating for dinner, we tried to exchange them for the Wednesday evening show. That performance had no tickets remaining, so we were told that if we waited outside the doors, we might be lucky enough for there to be some empty seats. We did go to the doors to wait and found that someone had laid their tickets down on a table in the On-Air Club so we got to see the show. Very good!! One show that I particularly enjoyed was the Magic Show. It started out with a very cool "sideshow" if you will, of four what I would call "human yo-yo's". They performed against an interactive backdrop that is so cool. You just definitely have to see it to understand. There was a "Battle of the Sexes" show. This was a family feud style show that pit men against women. Very entertaining with many laughs. The "Love and Marriage Show" is another that you must see. Three couples answer questions with the couple with the most correct answers winning a boatload (no pun intended!!) of gifts. This will replay on your TV and promises lots of laughs too. Two of the things that Freedom is known widely for is the Rock Wall and of course, the first ever "Flow rider". I tried both and can brag that I did make it to the top of the rock wall but I must say that the Flow rider got the best of me. It is fun to try but I guess that you have to know what you are doing. I didn't even make it to my knees before I wiped out. Oh well, at least I give it a try. To both of these I say.........what the heck, you are there so you got to try them! About Our Dining Experience As I said earlier, we had early seating and were on the 3rd floor (top) of the Dining Room. This is the Galileo Dining Room. We were at a table for four (we traveled with another couple). The only thing that I felt RCCL should have done was to seat us with other folks instead of it just being us four. Baris was our Maitre D and he is great. On two of the evenings that I had sea food (Tiger Shrimp and Lobster) he came over and removed the meat from the shells for me. I joked with him when he removed the tail of lobster from the shell and said "You cut my meat for me, I am surprised that you don't feed me too!". With that, he picked up a bite of meat and fed me!! My husband got a cute picture of this. Lorna was our Head Waitress and Graz was our Assistant Waiter. If any of you are blessed enough to have them, good for you. They are exceptional and very personable too. They do know your names and that is nice. If you like to have a little fun with your wait staff, sit in the same position for a couple of nights or until they memorize your usual drink order. Then, switch around. This is sure to bring smiles when they sit your drink in your "normal" spot, then realize that its not in the right spot. (We had so much fun!!) As far as the food in the main dining room, we all enjoyed everything we had through the week and I would highly recommend eating there every evening. My favorites were the lobster and the tiger shrimp. My husband ate the steaks when they were offered and they were always juicy and tender. Kudos to the chefs Ports of Call We had been to Cozumel on our last cruise and went snorkeling then. This time, we chose to just do some shopping and take our time. The store workers are very good about calling you into their shops but if you are firm, they will know that you don't want to purchase something they offer. Jewelry stores are very aggressive with shoppers. Again, just let them know that you are not interested. Grand Cayman was beautiful and we visited Stingray City. Even with all the hype about Steve Irwins recent death by a stingray, no one seemed afraid. They were lots of people out on the sandbar where the excursion takes place. The water is about 4 feet deep and as warm as bathwater. As soon as the boat arrives, the rays come up. They are absolutely gorgeous creatures and very gentle. We learned that the larger ones are the females and the smaller ones (only about a foot or so around) are the males. Our guide (Pete) jokingly told the men that the males are "twice the men we are" since they have "two winkies"!!!! The guys laughed. The tour guides were very helpful and always reassured us about our safety. If you go on Freedom, please do not pass up this opportunity. Two thumbs way up!!! In Jamaica and Labadee we mostly just shopped. Labadee is more than I expected in natural beauty. Its very relaxing and is laid back. The rock formations around the water are spectacular. Lunch on the island was great. A word to the wise about shopping here in Haiti, be prepared to be firm when approached by the shop owners. After making a purchase that we might not have made otherwise, we learned to say no. (We did barter the price of the items we did buy, but they probably weren't items we would have bought had they not have "lured" us in.) Shopping on board Freedom offers many things for just about every taste when it comes to souvenirs. Clothing, key chains, jewelry, some toys, alcohol---you name it. One thing that I was pleasantly surprised about was the fact that they offered a Scrapbook Page Kit with RCCL stickers and also had a Scrapbook with a picture of Freedom on the cover. Please be advised that if you scrapbook, get a book early in the cruise. I waited too long and missed out on one. They are in limited number on the ship. For scrap bookers, this is a nice cruise as they also offer 3 workshops throughout the week with lots of free ideas and page kits. The final evening we went down and watched the "Farewell Variety Show". Definitely a must-see. The comedian was great and the "Top Ten Stupid Questions Asked" are too funny. Makes you wonder how some people were smart enough to even make it to the ship!!! Overall, the cruise was wonderful. I would recommend that anyone give Freedom of the Seas a try. There is so much to do and see. (One thing I didn't mention since I didn't have any children with us was the kids program. All I can say is that it must be great because there were 347 on the ship and I probably didn't see more that 50 of them!) We were so impressed with Royal Caribbean as a whole that we are planning on booking a 9 night cruise in the fall of 2008 on another RCCL ship. Absolutely, without a doubt, one of the most wonderful vacations of my life. I fell in-love with my husband all over again, thanks to the cruise.    

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Jul 1, 2006

Western Caribbean

Okay I’m here to give you an insight into the worlds largest cruise ship, the Freedom of the Seas, but with it being so large where do I start? I guess the best bet is to start from the beginning. The Freedom of the Seas sails around the Western Caribbean and stops at Cozumel in Mexico, Grand Cayman, Montego Bay in Jamaica (although after may 2007 I have heard it is stopping in Ochos Rios) and RCL’s own private island of Labadee

Hispanola. From previous experience of the wonderful Voyager class ships my family decided that one week on the ship was not enough so we decided to book a back to back option (unfortunately this did put the price up quite drastically as they charged us for two sets of flights- not good RCL!) but we are glad that we did the 2 weeks as there is too much to do for just one week! Overnight stay – As we were traveling from the U.K to Miami as part of the holiday we got an overnight stay in the Hotel Intercontinental which overlooked the port of Miami. This was wonderful because as well as having time to check out the local shopping area (Bayside Marketplace) which had some great shops and lovely restaurants we also woke up early enough to see the ship coming in at about 5:30 in the morning. It was great to see the ship in its entirety before we boarded as it got us much more excited. The only annoying thing was that Freedom of the Seas departs Miami on Sundays which meant that the shops didn’t open until 11 and our pick up from the hotel wasn’t until half past 12, this meant that there was a lot of waiting around and we felt like we were losing part of our day by sitting doing nothing. Embarkation – This was much better than our last trip on the Explorer so hats off to the staff. Prior to beginning our holiday we had filled in all the documents via a section on the website and created our set sail passes, this meant that when we reached the pier we could go to an express line where we were ready to board in less than 10 minutes. The only wait came from having to go to an extra area where we had to have fingerprints taken again as we were non-US citizens (however, the rest of our party, who joined a week later said they did not have to do this so perhaps it was a one off). I would also advise packing an extra carry on bag so that if you do get on the ship early and want to take a dip in the pool then you have your bathing suit with you and something to wear for dinner as sometimes you do not get your suitcases until after dinner. Day at sea – The day at sea is a great chance to explore the ship in depth and try out some of the on board activities (although I doubt you will have time to try them all). The ship is so large that there was always plenty of things going on, in fact the hardest thing was probably trying to manage time and decide what to do when (thank goodness for the lifesaver that is the cruise compass). The cruise compass is the ships daily news broadcast giving details of everything that is going on that day, where and when and is an essential item to carry around the ship. Alternatively if you are not up for trying out studio B ice rink, the rock climbing wall, the flow rider or anything that involves sports you could always just kick back and relax on a sun bed, after all you are on vacation! The Flow rider – This is a must do as it is the only one at sea and is amazing. It is an on board surf machine that allows you to learn how to surf although you mostly wipeout. There are dedicated sessions to attend depending on whether you want to boogie board or stand up surfing and the floor of the machine is soft rubber so if you do happen to wipeout there is nothing to hurt you. Be warned though when you wipe out the force of the water is fairly strong and it is advised that if you are a female to wear a t-shirt and some shorts or you might end up losing your dignity, trust me we saw it happen. Also it is a very popular attraction and on days at sea gets very busy so it is perhaps advised to try it on a day in port or something otherwise you are facing up to an hours wait before even getting a go and end up getting sunburned. The pools – This is a first again for RCL all the pools are fresh water, yes you heard no salt water in sight. This allows a much more enjoyable experience especially in the H20 zone which is the onboard water park. Great for kids and adults of all ages as it has cascading waterfalls and statues with interactive fountains, just a place to have fun and be silly. I was quite surprised as on a ship so big I expected the pools to be really busy on the days at sea but they never seamed over crowded and there was always a place to find a seat on one of the sun beds. Another thing not to be missed is the cantilevered whirlpools which give you spectacular views of the ocean as they hang out over the side of the ship. Dining – The food on board was great as usual with so many places to chose from however we found ourselves always eating lunch in the Windjammer as there was such a large selection. We ate in Johnny Rockets once which made a change and was fun as well. Unfortunately we never ate in Chops Grille or Portofino but always ate in the main dining hall for dinner. The food was nice and the same sorts of things were served as on other RCL ships, however there was two special nights for Freedom, these were Surf night and Crown and anchor night, both of these were good especially the surf and turf with a twist and the deserts were lovely so no complaints there. There was also more entertainment from the staff on this ship than on others. Entertainment – The entertainment on this ship was second to none and I’m sure that as Freedom is the world’s largest ship that RCL brought all their best singers and dancers on it, it certainly felt that way! The quality of the shows were amazing well and truly worth of Broadway. The two main production shows were Marquee- a salute to the Broadway shows, and Once upon a dream, which was a new twist to old but classic fairytales. They also linked up with a illusionist and created a fantastic magic show with a story. There were also the two parades that filled the streets of the Royal Promenade with all the crew taking part, and on top of that themed nights- my favorite being the 70’s street party closely followed by studio 84- 80’s reunion party! What can I say the entertainment was far better than on previous ships and in the evenings you were guaranteed some fun (especially the Quest- Adults only scavenger hunt game show- a must see!). The ports of call – The ports of call were lovely on this itinerary. We first stopped at Cozumel, a small island off of the main coast of Mexico, the island was nice to go for a wonder around the shops or you could get a taxi to the beach. We had to tender in as unfortunately the hurricane last year destroyed part of the pier and many of the buildings are still damaged. We booked a shore excursion to do the 4x4 caverns and beach tour on the mainland, this was an amazing tour and a once in a lifetime viewing, totally picturesque and worth seeing. The next port of call was Georgetown Grand Cayman, this was a lovely port, we spent the day shopping as we had had too much sun the day before but the 7 mile beach is a must see but the shops are also lovely and you can get some amazing jeweler buys and designer sunglasses at good prices. It was my favorite port to go shopping in. Another port of call was Montego Bay Jamaica, I couldn’t tell you much about this port as we booked a shore excursion to climb Dunn’s River Falls. This was an amazing excursion, if a little tough in parts but is something I will remember doing for a long time, you get a real sense of accomplishment when you climb the falls all the way up especially as at the beginning it looks a near impossible task. The only downfall was that as Freedom didn’t dock in Ochos Rios (like some other RCL ships do) we had to take a 2 nd coach journey there and back! The last port was my favorite; it is RCL’s private island of Labadee. It is beautiful a total paradise where time seams to stop, lush palm trees everywhere and lots of white sandy beaches with crystal blue seas and a fab view of the ship. It’s wonderful and there is no need to rush back to the ship for lunch as they serve it on the island for you! In conclusion – I have been on a several cruises now with a few different operators and I can safely say that Royal Caribbean is my favorite by far, and they have certainly done themselves proud with this ship. It has been my favorite holiday by far as there was so much variety of things to do and all at fabulous quality. It was so good I really did not want to leave and would love to go back again.    

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Jun 17, 2006

Western Caribbean

Sailing Date: June 18th, 2006 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…  

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Jun 3, 2006

Miami / Caribbean

Check-in was a breeze, the best process I have experienced to date on any line -- it might have been due to our arriving in good time, before the crowd. The size of Freedom is amazing, loved the lines in the structure of the ship, loved the overhanging whirlpool. I am not sure what I expected on this inaugural sailing, perhaps more fanfare onboard to commemorate the ship's debut, but it was anti-climatic for me. Before, saying

anything further about the ship or it's amenities, I must stop to praise the Concierge Class of Service and the Concierge on our sailing -- he was par excellence. Every evening he made sure to check on us to see if there was anything he could do -- never had that before. He was definitely First Class. Our room Steward was very good, and very attentive to our needs. I sailed in Stateroom 1650, which was wonderfully spacious, balcony was huge, spent lots of time there. Actually, I was hard pressed to leave the stateroom/balcony to sample the other amenities onboard, it was that comfortable. My best stop was Montego Bay (probably a little biased being Jamaican); next best stop was Labadee, wonderful what RCCL has done with this part of Haiti. The beach and water sports activities are great, wonderful experience there -- I definitely will go back. We did not get off the ship in Cayman, because have been there so many times. We were definitely saddened to see the change in Cozumel due to the devastation by the hurricane last year. I didn't recognize Cozumel -  they have really suffered quite a bit of destruction. The Royal Promenade was our walkway to get across the ship, much quicker than using the loooooooooong hallways; wished there were more shops on the Promenade. There are not enough elevators to service the number of guests onboard -- it was a common complaint heard on board, the wait for an elevator was too long, and at times an empty elevator would go by us without stopping. I was not impressed with the onboard entertainment, I have seen better on other RCCL sailings, I am hoping and assume that will improve as time goes by. Sadly lacking was onboard activities while the ship was in port, not much to do onboard if you chose not to go ashore -- this definitely needs attention. Overall, the staff was pleasant, courteous, and helpful. The main dining room was overwhelming in its size, wow. Service was good. The menu and disappointing and so was the taste of the food -- come on RCCL, you can do better, as is evident by the food at the Windjammer Cafe/Jade Restaurant. The food in the Windjammer/Jade was excellent in variety and taste, totally enjoyed meals there (breakfast/lunch/dinner). Casino needs to be larger to accommodate the number of guests onboard -- didn't win anything. Something needs to be done about exhausting the smoke from the Casino, at times it was difficult to breath, actually left the casino much earlier than I wanted several nights. Perhaps, RCCL should utilize the area used for photographs to expand the casino. A big plus are the various pool areas -- thoroughly enjoyed these areas, the best I have seen on any cruises I have taken -- kudos to RCCL. Enjoyed the art auction and the various bars/clubs, though not a heavy drinker, still enjoyed the ambiance of these areas. Spa and health club was enormous, more than adequate for your guests. I was a spectator at the Flowrider. Thoroughly enjoyed watching the adventurous, definitely a wonderful addition to the cruise. SHIP AHOY!  

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Jun 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

On June 4, 2006, I boarded the Freedom Of The Seas for the “maiden voyage” – which means the first voyage on the full itinerary with paying guests. But to be truthful the ship had already played host to thousands of passengers courtesy of the cruise line. The media frenzy was unlike any I’ve seen in many years as Freedom Of The Seas had an extended coming out party – several weeks’ worth of complimentary preview cruises

and public events for travel agents, dignitaries, and other VIPs. One could reasonably assume the shine on the new star had been dulled a bit. But it wasn’t so! Superlatives are often a mistake when it comes to writing reviews, but I cannot resist it. Freedom is a magnificent vessel which offers a cruise experience unlike any I have ever had. There is truly something for everyone on this ship. It is huge yet intimate at the same time. From surfing to ice skating, quiet time on an almost abandoned stretch of deck, pool fun for adults or kids, this ship has it all. Add to that the most polished crew I have cruised with, and a few thousand fellow passengers, and you have the makings for a memorable cruise. Embarkation Day Arrives We arrived at the pier at approximately 11am, fully expecting a crowd and a long wait to board the ship. The first pleasant surprise of this cruise was that there were no crowds at the pier. Our limo stopped, our luggage was handed off to the porters, and we were graciously directed to the entrance. Once inside we were immediately ushered to the “Welcome Aboard” photo area, then on to security screening, and then on to the check-in desk. About 5 minutes had passed since we arrived at the terminal. I had done the on-line Set Sail check-in and merely had to provide the sheet I printed at home, our passports, and the credit card for our account. In moments we were checked in and directed to the security photo station. Once this was completed we headed for the ship. As we boarded the ship we were offered glasses of champagne and finally had a chance to catch our breath. It was not quite 11:30am. I was amazed at how smooth it had all gone. One thing to note is that they were quite adamant about no one going to their cabins until 1pm. This was to allow for unencumbered cleaning from the previous night’s cruise, which was an overnight deal for a local charity. Ship’s personnel were stationed in the passageways to politely but firmly shoo away anyone wishing to challenge the edict. I expect this is the rule for all subsequent cruises. After a couple glasses of champagne and getting copies of the Cruise Compass from the Guest Relations Desk, we headed off to the Windjammer for lunch - schlepping our carry-on baggage along with us. There were seats available and the staff was doing a good job bussing tables. It is always an annoying part of embarkation day – mob scenes at the buffet - but it really wasn’t too bad on the Freedom. We found a table and took turns hitting the food lines while someone stayed with the luggage. A good variety of items were offered and the quality was excellent. I noted the line was getting quite long for making reservations for Chops and Portofino, which are the specialty restaurants. I later learned all the tables were filled in short order and a waiting list was the best one could hope for. So if you wish to taste the offerings from these places, my advice is to get there early on embarkation day and make your reservation. After watching the first few passengers brave the Flow Rider, we headed for our cabin. It was exactly 1pm. Cabin 8566 is on the port side and part of the “mini-hump” which is formed under the cantilevered hot tubs in the Solarium. Our balcony benefited from this as it was larger and also on the back side of the hump, which meant lessened wind effect. I was happy I’d made this choice. RCCL has trumpeted their new bedding and I must say it lives up to the praise. The cabin was of average size for an outside with balcony, and had sufficient storage. The standard issue RCCL bathroom was familiar. The flat-screen TV is a welcome feature. It easily pivots to accommodate the viewer no matter where they are sitting in the room. After many emergency drills where we were some the first to arrive at the station – and as a result being in the back and pressed against the bulkhead in often stifling heat – I have adopted a new rule. We wait in the cabin until the alarm sounds and then head for the lifeboat station. This time we were in the front row and our drill was infinitely more comfortable and shorter in duration. After about 15 minutes we were released from the drill and a buzz was perceptible as the throngs prepared for the epic sail away on Freedom on her maiden voyage! This Is A Maiden Voyage Sail Away? The skies crackled with lightning amid heavy rains as the Freedom sat at the pier. But then came the time to get underway and Royal Caribbean couldn’t have scripted it better. The rain and thunder subsided, giving way to sunshine and not one but two rainbows as the Freedom Of The Seas made her way down the channel and to open seas. And here it is: my one big disappointment with this cruise. For a maiden voyage, RCCL did very little to make it special. It started here with the sail away. Nothing out of the ordinary happened as we headed out from the port of Miami. The passengers were lining the rails waiting for something special to unfold. I’ve never seen so many people on deck during a sail away. We all waited and waited for something that never transpired. Things got very quiet as we passed the breakwater and everyone essentially shrugged and started heading back inside. Main Dining Room We were at table 580 which is in the highest level of the three-deck dining room. Our wait staff impressed me when they knew our names as we approached the table that first night. Service was friendly and attentive, although there were some glitches as the cruise unfolded. Every night saw at least one person not being served something they ordered or being served the wrong thing, and in one case the galley ticket being lost and not noticed until it was dessert time and my son’s pizza had not been delivered. In each case the gaffe was immediately corrected when identified and not a huge problem. I attributed it to the galley and dining room staff still ironing out their rhythm. A certain anxiety was perceptible in many of the waiters and their assistants. Head Waiters were quite noticeable and ours was a fixture every night. Dining Room food was good for the most part, but the menus are not especially exciting. Perhaps the thought is fewer things that are given more attention by the chefs and cooks equals better meals. I had the chicken stuffed with brie and prosciutto. It was moist and delicious. For the first formal night dinner I had escargots, lobster bisque, and roast duck. It was all good and very nicely prepared. The duck portion was huge and the skin was nicely crisped. Dinner one night was “surfer” themed – no doubt attributable to the Flow Rider. Non-stop Beach Boys music played and fish played a prominent role on the menu. The music grew tedious after a while. The Malaysian fish soup was good but quite spicy. Surf and Turf was the featured entrée, and in this case it was beef filet and grilled shrimp. There were only 3 shrimp per plate and they were dry and not too good. The steak came with wasabi mashed potatoes and snow peas. The beef didn’t have a lot of flavor to it, but it was tender. The chocolate banana cream pie was excellent. There is also an Italian themed dinner night. I enjoyed this meal very much, although the waiter forgot my salad. They had lamb shank, rigatoni, scampi, minestrone, garlic soup, and caprese salad (which I didn’t get to try). A nice tiramisu topped it off. If you are a fan of Eggs Benedict – and I certainly am – I am happy to report it is perfectly prepared on the Freedom. Everyone was raving about it. Dining room breakfasts are much more relaxing than the buffet could ever hope to be. One sad note though – they don’t serve the Eggs Benedict on debarkation morning. I didn’t find time to have lunch in the dining room. Too much to do on this massive ship! Windjammer, Sorrento’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Café Promenade, and Johnny Rockets The Windjammer offerings were generally very good. In many ways, the food here was more interesting and tasted better than that offered in the dining room. As is common these days, the Windjammer was heavily used for breakfast and lunch. But a very nice dinner is served here as well. I had a delicious bagel with cream cheese and salmon on the last morning at sea. I noted the buffet breakfast has something for everyone….miso soup and rice, bagels and all the traditional NY fixings, and for us southerners they even have biscuits and sausage gravy. Made to order omelets are available. The main offerings are the same every day – scrambled eggs, turkey sausage links, pork sausage links, bacon, waffles, pancakes, fried potatoes, oatmeal, a huge selection of fruit. And it is all cooked to a high standard. We went to the Windjammer for dinner one night. They had prime rib, baked potatoes, and my favorite shellfish, mussels. They had a great jerk-style chicken too. My only complaint is it closes too early – at 9pm. I think 10pm would be a better time. There was wine service available and the table staff was very pleasant. Although I like the main dining room experience, I have to admit that I could easily have more than one dinner in the Windjammer. We went to Johnny Rockets one afternoon. We were seated outside, which didn’t bother me too much but the diner ambience of the inside seating adds much to the meal. Perhaps it is me but the burgers didn’t seem very flavorful and the meat had an overly processed texture – sort of like Salisbury steak. Love those onion rings! Sorrento’s is the pizza parlor, and to be honest the pizza is only so-so. The more interesting thing is the antipasti offerings they have. It took a lot of will power to walk by Ben & Jerry’s and not get something. The smell of the waffle cones wafted out and smelled wonderful! If you book promenade cabin 6305 – the one with the cows blocking the window – you get unlimited free ice cream for the whole cruise. Café Promenade was open around the clock and featured Seattle’s Best coffee. They also had sweets and small sandwiches. A Book Nook was in the back but it was not open that often and seemed to be a confused place. Shows, Pools, and Other Amusements The big production show Once Upon A Time was excellent and lived up to its hype. Most cruise ship shows are pretty generic revues aimed at impressing the first-time cruiser. This show was sort of that way, but the production was kicked up and the ensemble displayed more energy and talent than I am used to seeing on a cruise ship. They had two shows, one early and one late. It was worth seeing. As an aside, I did note that our 10:45pm showing was not a capacity crowd. The other shows were good, but if you are reserved I urge caution if you attend the adult-themed shows. They can be a little risqué – including seeing several passengers and the Cruise Director parading around in their underwear. The Flow Rider is smaller than it appears from photos and TV images. The water is also faster! It was not crowded on the first day or so, but things picked up as people found the courage to try it. A waiver must be signed each day, and you get a wristband in return. A different wristband was used for each day, which became a status symbol among the devotees who, by cruises end, were sporting an arm full of wristbands. Like many amusement rides, no jewelry or glasses can be worn on the Flow Rider. This ruled me out since I am quite blind without my glasses. Bleachers surround the Flow Rider and it is surprisingly enjoyable to sit and watch. The pools are expansive. Freshwater is used in the pools, which is a change for RCCL. The H2O Zone is a popular place for kids and young families. The main pool area – while busy – never seemed overwhelmed by crowds and I noted that lounge chairs were available even in the afternoon and near the pools. This despite the early morning assault by the lounge chair hogs, who mark their territory with a flip-flop or book placed on the chairs. I almost called a general alarm when I noted several chairs with personal items in them, but no one in the pools! I feared they had all vanished! The Solarium, which is designated as an adults-only area, was not ever full of people and could actually be called barely used. The bar here was never crowded. Bowls of fruit are available all day for the taking. Bars Freedom is loaded with bars. It seemed I was never more than a few steps from one. Bolero’s was my favorite, mostly because of the very engaging staff and my favorite cocktail the caipahrina. Second place goes to Olive Or Twist, which is the Viking Crown Lounge bar. It has an excellent bar staff and features relaxing views of the water. The Tasting's wine bar was also pleasant, although somewhat cluttered and dark. For a pub, the Bull And Bear was disappointing in that it had a limited selection of British style beers and ales – especially the draft choices. The Stops It was sunny and hot in Cozumel all day. We did the Passion Island beach tour. This is a small island (sand bar really) on the north side of Cozumel which lays a few hundred yards offshore. It takes a while to get there, over a pothole filled road and then to a 15 minute boat ride. Freedom was the only ship in port and there were only 41 people signed up for this tour. So we had as close to a private island experience as we’ll probably ever have. About a half mile of beach with just 41 people! Add to that an included open bar and a buffet lunch and you have a very relaxing day. The tour only had 3 hours on the island though and most of us felt it should be longer. The tour guide, Alex, was great. He memorized everyone’s name by the time we arrived at the island. The island of Cozumel still bears many scars from Hurricane Wilma. Everywhere you look you see ravaged trees and vegetation. There are miles of trees lying on their sides. The island looks gray from the dead wood as opposed to the usual green. How sad. The docks are still being worked on. We tendered to International Pier and the close up views of the destroyed portions of the dock speak volumes about the terrible power unleashed by the hurricane. It was an off and on day of rain in Grand Cayman. Tendering took longer than it did in Cozumel. The big reason is that the ship was just a couple hundred yards from the pier in Cozumel but not so in Georgetown. No one seemed to be in charge at the Arcadia Theatre, which was the gathering point for some tours. A big bottleneck occurred when returning to the ship. The security station was not especially efficient. They only had one card reader operating and so you had a tender load of passengers being funneled one at a time through the checkpoint. It took a good 20 minutes or more to empty our tender. Another card reader was available but not manned. But this is the first voyage and so these kinds of things should be expected. Hopefully they will be fixed. In Grand Cayman we did the Nautilus semi-submersible and the butterfly farm. The Nautilus was good. The butterfly farm wasn’t. The rain started again; just as we arrived and so we spent 45 minutes standing under an umbrella listening to the guide explain the lifecycle of butterflies. All the butterflies took refuge from the rain and we saw very few of them. After that it was lunch at Senor Frogs and then back to the ship. They have a new cruise ship receiving area in Georgetown. The new area is much nicer than the old one. As least on our cruise, the local tourism officials provided free bottled water and soft drinks, and samples of rum cake. We were late mooring in Montego Bay. We were supposed to be there at 7am but didn’t tie up until 8. We still had to be back aboard by 3:30pm. They had a concert for us on the pier with the famous singer Shaggy. Montego Bay rolled out the red carpet for us! Really! They had a red carpet at the entrance to the terminal. Free rum poured at the Appleton Estates tent on the pier. Beer and punch was handed out at the concert. Nothing is within walking distance of the port area. The shuttle was $3 to Town Centre per person, or $4 per person if you went from the port to Jimmy Buffet’s. This was quite reasonable. There were dozens of transportation people in the terminal welcoming us and guiding us to the shuttles or taxis if needed. No hassles involved, which was a refreshing change. One thing I noted is the buffet breakfast and dining room didn’t open until 7am in Montego Bay, yet some tours were supposed to meet on the pier at 7:15am. Had we arrived on time, those passengers would not have had much chance to eat anything more than coffee and donuts, unless they had ordered room service. I think at least the buffet should have opened at 6:30am if the ship has tours starting at 7:15. Labadee has changed since I was last there a few years ago. The property has been developed with many huts and buildings. There are three buffet lines and bars set up everywhere. The lunch was good. Grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, potato salad, fruit, etc. The beaches are maintained very nicely and it was not especially crowded. It seemed many passengers chose to remain aboard. Salmagundi One bartender told me this was the first cruise where they used the computers to charge for the drinks. He said the preview cruises had open bars. As a result they have found some problems with the bar computers. The system crashed more than once. The Crown and Anchor party was very well planned. It was at the ice rink, which was used for many events on this cruise. They had the ice removed and instead had four tables set up with chafing dishes full of snacks. Waiters had bowls of cold shrimp. Drinks were plentiful and of good quality. It was the best food and drink I have seen at any repeater’s party. We had a surprise visitor board the ship on the evening between Jamaica and Labadee. The President of Royal Caribbean International (Adam Goldstein) came out at the beginning of the evening show to thank the passengers and extol the wonders of this vessel. I personally think this was a little bit of damage control because of passenger complaints all week about the maiden voyage being mostly a regular voyage with little in the way of special touches. The automatic doors on deck 11 are slow to open and one often has to stand there for a few seconds before a door opens. I observed one door (starboard side leading from the main pool to the solarium) that closed on a passenger as he walked through, which caused him to spill his coffee. Be wary of these doors and don’t expect them to open quickly. At the aft end of the H2O zone there are two powered revolving doors which lead inside to the Windjammer. While a good idea for keeping the cold air inside, these doors are temperamental. If you enter them and try to push the door along it will stop for an uncomfortable moment or two. Do not touch the doors. Simply walk along in the open space and hopefully you will get through it. They need to replace these with conventional sliding doors. I’ve always felt that many ships have one bar more than they need, and this bar will eventually be closed or made into another venue. In the case of the Freedom, I bestow this dubious honor on the Squeeze juice bar adjacent to the H2O Zone. The place is vacant most of the time, and a crowd is perhaps two people. I haven’t asked but since there is a speed rail of liquor inside, I assume they serve regular bar drinks in addition to the juices and power drinks. I predict this bar will be closed within a year. Although some complained about slow Internet, I had fairly speedy service all cruise long with my laptop and using the wi-fi option. I used my laptop everywhere and never had a bad signal. Please note that the previously available $100 flat rate unlimited service is no longer available. Captain’s Corner was an event featuring Captain Bill Wright and Cruise Director Ken Rush. Some tidbits they gave out: Freedom can go from full speed (24 knots) to full stop in 3 ship lengths. Rather than reverse the props they simply rotate the azipods 180 degrees. The anchor is not needed to keep the ship in one position while in port. A computer constantly adjusts the azipods to keep the ship still. The ship rides so well that the stabilizers were not used on the Atlantic crossing, and we only used them once on our cruise – when leaving Montego Bay because of the ice show. Inside slogan for the Genesis ship is ”Game Over”. On the last day of our cruise the ship was dangerously close to running out of toilet paper. Passengers were actually seen carrying rolls around with them! We had a debarkation glitch, which was eventually blamed on a miscommunication between the pier and the ship. They called the luggage colors 1 hour to 90 minutes early. Our color was called at 7:45, but our bags didn’t appear until 9:30 and one was on the wrong carousel. The ship did debark those carrying their own bags at 6:30 and it was pulled off flawlessly, with some people getting to the airport and on earlier flights by a little past 8am. Final Thoughts I was very pleased with the Freedom Of The Seas. The Captain lauded the crew at every opportunity, and rightly so. I would not hesitate to book another cruise on this vessel and I highly recommend it to one and all – old and young, those with children, and those with none! As testimony to this, within a week of leaving the Freedom I booked passage on sister ship Liberty Of The Seas for the summer of 2007.    

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May 18, 2006

2 Night to Nowhere from Boston

I am very excited and honored that I was invited to sail on this magnificent ship for a 2-day preview cruise for travel agents. We flew into Boston a day early from Texas. We stayed at the Sheraton Boston at the Prudential center. This hotel was in a good location and it was easy to get around in taxis and buses. On sailing day, we took a taxi to the Black Falcon Pier. I believe it was around $20 or so. I think the new slogan for

Royal Caribbean should be “It’s way more than a week!” in addition to “It’s way more than a cruise!” First impressions…….Seeing this ship up close is amazing. She is astounding. I love the way this ship curves in the structure with the balconies and the outside railings outside the dining rooms and the whirlpools that overhang! Email me if you would like to see some photos. Once onboard, the dramatic Royal Promenade is the central gathering place. For anyone who has been on a Voyager class ship this area is similar but longer and wider and has more shops. The pizza place was really great and had at least 3 different kinds of pizza, antipasto salad, Caesar salad, fruit cups, deserts and a bar. It was a great hang out to eat and people watch. They have given Ben and Jerry’s their own spot on the Promenade too, with a few tables and the Seattle’s Best is just across the way and has lots of seating as well. There are several shops in this area too. They were not all open on our cruise. We did enjoy the logo shop, and the new “Get out there” shop, the cosmetic and perfume shop and a separate jewelry store. A note about the Royal Promenade, we found that this was a quicker way to get across the ship. Our cabin was in the forward of the ship and we found that if we walked across the Promenade and then took the forward elevators, that is was much quicker than walking down the long hallways to our cabin like we did when we first boarded the ship. Our cabin was a D2 cabin 8532. It was really a great size cabin with a huge balcony. The new beds are really great. They were firm, yet had a comfortable pillow top. The ends of the beds are curved…. I am not sure why. The new bedding was nice, but I found that the new duvets were very heavy. We sailed from Boston where it was chilly and they still seamed heavy. My bed was next to the balcony doors and when the heavy duvet would brush against the drapes it would cause them to open and let light into the room. I think that when the beds are together then it is a little farther away from the door. I am just wondering if the heavy duvet will be way too much for the Caribbean? The towels in the bathroom were super soft and white and fluffy….very nice, although the cabin steward said it is harder to make towel animals out of them since they are not very stiff….lol…..but he still managed some great ones for us! A lobster and an armadillo! I was surprised that only one side of the bathroom mirror opened for storage and there was minimum storage below the sink. The shower doors were circular and there is still no place to shave your legs……except outside the shower. Why can’t the cruise lines ever give us ladies a shelf or bench in the shower in a standard stateroom? The closet space was plenty for 2 people. It also had several shelves. I was happy to see that the safe is the type where you set your own combo rather than slide a credit card and of course it is free. The room also had a small refrigerator. Our room had a full size couch that did not open up and a small table. There was a desk with 6 drawers and a few extra shelves and both sides of the mirror opened up. There is a hair dryer provided. The balcony on our cabin was huge! It was very deep and had two chairs and a table. It could easily fit lay down chairs when you are sailing in better weather than I was. Dining: We managed to try as many different venues as possible and open on our 2-day sailing. As I mentioned before the pizza on the Promenade was great. The Ben and Jerry’s as tasty as ever. Seattle’s Best as strong as ever. Johnny Rocket’s as hopping as ever! The malts, burgers, onion rings, etc… can’t be beat! The buffet area in the Windjammer was big and had many offerings for breakfast and lunch. I also enjoyed the Jade oriental area of the buffet. The soups were very good. Now for the dining room, it is magnificent as far as the appearance and service. What I am disappointed in is that the menus on this ship are nothing new…. I sailed on Rhapsody and Splendour in the past year and saw the same menu. I think Royal Caribbean needs to think out the box and come up with a new “Freedom of Choice” menu or something for this new and exciting ship. It seems very uninventive to offer the same old menu. How about some of the new Organic salads or pastas instead of eggplant and duck? Entertainment: We had a couple of Broadway type shows on our sailings and I popped in for a few minutes. It is hard to do it all on a 2 day cruise. We did make sure to go to the ice show since I remembered from sailing on Voyager class that it is excellent. This ship did not disappoint. Be sure not to miss the ice show, it was great and received a standing ovation. Many bars and clubs will also feature live entertainment. Spa and health club: This area is huge and very popular. They had many work out machines and of course the new boxing ring! We enjoyed sometime in the ladies locker room that has a rather large sauna and steam room available with no charge. The new surfing Flowrider is pretty amazing to watch, which is what I am sure the majority of guests will do….LOL. Good thing the “Wipe Out” bar and shop is close by. They are also offering a juice bar called “Squeeze” which had all sorts of protein powder drinks for sale. I tried the “Fat Burner” with raspberry flavoring and it was quite good! It sells for about $3.50. Casino: Didn’t have much time for this. I was happy to see that it looked like they have at least 3 roulette tables and fancy new posts by them to tell you what numbers have hit and what the odds are for red and black etc…. Children’s area and arcade: All of this area was awesome. Since we did not have any kids on our sailing, the areas were not in use. They are well divided by age and they offer a program in conjunction with Crayola that looked like a lot of fun. The teens have their own disco and an area called “The Living Room”. The arcade had many, many games and 3 full size air hockey tables that were lit up with neon. COOL! Johnny Rocket’s is right next to the teen area. Feel free to email me at C2Cmarci@yahoo.com if you have any questions about this ship or if you need help to plan your cruise vacation. Get Out There! Bon Voyage  

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May 18, 2006

2 Night to Nowhere from Boston

After a series of inaugural short sailings from New York, Freedom of the Seas was scheduled for a series of two-day and one day sailings from Boston before heading to Miami later in the week. My wife and I were fortunate to be invited as part of a group to attend one of these complimentary sailings, as were many RCCL Crown & Anchor Society Diamond Plus members. Flying into Boston Logan airport we were met by the RCCL representative

and directed to shuttle buses starting at 10:15am. We arrived at the Black Falcon Terminal, were issued numbers and provided seating until our group number was called for check in. The lines moved quickly with plenty of check-in staff. Our bags were x-rayed and we pulled our own wheeled luggage aboard. We were in our cabin before 11:30. We were assigned cabin 6453, an inside category L cabin, 152 sq ft. The new upgraded bedding on Freedom of the Seas is sensational! The only problem is that when the new, larger beds are made up as a queen, you cannot walk around to the side of the bed. It is that tight. Oceanview and above should be alright, as the cabins are larger. The cabin had two Pullman bunks in the ceiling, and for four people there would be inadequate storage. There was one closet which did have three shelves and the safe. The vanity had 6 small drawers, and there were small storage areas behind the mirror but the spaces were too small to be of much use. There was a small refrigerator even in this small inside cabin. The bathroom was not large, but the shower had a solid revolving door which kept the floor dry. No toiletries are provided except soap. All cabins feature flat screen TV’s with a variety of programming, movies, CNN and ESPN. After lunch in the Windjammer Café, we spent several hours touring and photographing the ship. It was my second time on a Voyager class ship, and it made getting around easier, knowing where to look for things, as the layout is similar across the class, just larger on Freedom. The weather was rainy most of the weekend, in port and at sea, but we headed topside in a short break in the rain to see the Flowrider. Staff in wetsuits were demonstrating boogie boarding and short boarding. The rockwall is immense, and in addition to the basic, high wall, there is also a free standing column. The wall/column face the sports court, a nearly full sized basketball court. The H2O Zone provides ample space for children to play in the water fountains. We did note that the spa pool is outdoors. There is no pool area covered and available for use in case of rainy weather. Johnny Rockets Diner is popular, but was reported by other passengers to have a 1 hr 45 min wait. The Fuel and Teen and Arcade areas are also near Johnny Rockets, with a large number of very elaborate arcade games, and areas for teens to hang out. Adventure Ocean area for younger children is in the same area. Miniature golf and the golf simulator are on the same area aft. The signature Viking Crown lounge is above, overlooking the pools, and contains a bar called Olive or Twist, and a musical performance area. With only two bartenders it was understaffed when crowded. Except for the main dining rooms, dining areas are all in the same area, on Deck 11, the pool deck. Windjammer Café offers burger mania, pasta, and general hot buffet items, as well as dessert islands. At breakfast they offer omelets and eggs to order. The beverages are dispensed by staff, so passengers are not helping themselves to coffee, tea, ice water, and iced tea or juices. They are pre-poured by the staff. Forward of the Windjammer is a section called Jade, featuring cafeteria lines for salads and Asian foods. Portofino, the specialty Italian restaurant, and Chops, the specialty seafood and steaks restaurant, are located on the starboard and port side, respectively, forward of the other areas. Each have many window tables, and are subdivided into two seating areas to provide a more intimate feeling than in a large restaurant. The next area we visited was the Promenade, which runs nearly the entire length of Deck 5. On the forward end is Pharaoh’s Palace, which features a rock and roll band in a club atmosphere. The Promenade can best be described as a large indoor mall, featuring among other things the fashion, logo, jewelry and fragrance and general stores. Features include Sorrento’s Italian deli with pizza until 3am, sandwiches, and Italian deli items. The Bull and Bear Pub features a dart room and a guitar entertainer at night, and Vintages is a wine bar which offers wines by the glass as well as wine flights. Both offer seating inside and outside on the Promenade. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is a popular shop and is next door to A Clean Shave, an old fashioned barber shop. Café Promenade offers Seattle’s Finest coffees and tables inside and on the Promenade itself to “people watch”. At the after end is the Purser’s Desk/Guest Relations, and across the way is the cozy Champagne Bar. The main dining rooms are at the aft end of decks 3, 4, and 5. It is actually one huge dining room with three levels and the center open with a huge crystal chandelier. Deck 3 is Leonardo Dining Room, and has a red upholstery theme. Deck 4 is Isaac (Newton) dining room with a blue theme, and Deck 5 is Galileo dining room with a white theme. We ate in Galileo’s both nights with members of our group. Service is good. The food was good, not excellent, as was presentation, likely the consequence of serving 4,000 people. Beef tenderloin was offered both nights, no lobster. The menu had 4 selections to choose from among the appetizers, salads, soups, and entrees. Dessert the first night offered a crème Brule which came with no caramelized crust. Cherries Jubilee were among the offerings the second night. Each also offered low-fat items. Always available were Caesar salad, salmon, and sirloin steak. Deck 4 contains the RCCL trademark Schooner Bar, which is really too small for the crowd the evening entertainer attracts. Overflow crowd actually blocks the passage way. The entrance to the two deck disco, The Crypt, is located here. A white décor with black light gives it atmosphere. The casino is mid ships. It is large with many tables and slots, but narrow aisles and a bar in the middle make is a bit crowded to navigate. Aft of the casino is the photo gallery and Boleros, a bar which features Latin music, a small dance floor, and Latin drinks, such as Mojitos. Forward on Decks 2 and 3 is located the Arcadia Theatre. Seating on the main floor is excellent with great sight lines. The balconies feature some columns which do block the view for some seats. The sailing featured two shows: "Once Upon a Time" and "Marquee". Both were two of the best shows I've ever seen on board a ship. The six talented singers were Broadway quality, in my opinion. From deck 3 aft you enter Studio B, the location of an auditorium sized conference center where the ice rink is located, on deck 2. For conferences the ice is covered with flooring. The ice show was spectacular, with a Russian couple doing more instant, magical, on-ice costume changes than I could count. Deck 3 also features On Air Club, a karaoke club. Despite the large number of passengers, near 4,000, it never seemed crowded to me, we had no trouble finding seating in Windjammer, and check-in/debarkation went smoothly. The ship will begin 7 night Western Caribbean sailings from Miami this month, visiting Labadee, Montego Bay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. When her sister ship, Liberty of the Seas, joins the fleet in April 2007, the two ships will alternate Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings. A final note for those who might consider a cruise from Boston: We had about a 4 ½ hour wait between arriving back at Logan Airport and our afternoon flight home. Asking at the MassPort information desk, we were advised we could catch a free shuttle bus, 33, outside on the second island which takes us to the station for the Blue Line elevated/subway train. Ticket machines accept cash or debit/credit cards and the fare is $1.25 per person. We boarded the Inbound train, rode two stations to the Aquarium stop, and walked about 2 blocks to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. These are festival marketplaces with shops and food stalls, especially featuring “chowda”. After lunch and viewing street performers, we took the train back and the free shuttle to the airport for our check-in for the flight.

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May 14, 2006

1 Night Cruise to Nowhere

Paula and I went to the one night pre-inaugural May 15, 2005 and here is our review. We would like to thank Joanie Ogg and RCCL for giving us this opportunity to experience this ship. We got to NYC a day early and stayed at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square which was wonderful and will highly recommend this hotel for clients wanting to stay in the Times Square/Theatre District. Monday morning we ventured to get a taxi to the port.

The taxi driver did not have a clue to where the port was (he only new the NY port), but we headed towards Bayonne. We followed signage that got us to a point where we could see the ship and it was across a small channel with no way to get there. The driver stopped and had to get directions from a telephone worker and we finally got to the ship it was $65 from Times Square. Between the signs sending you in to the wrong area and transportation personnel not knowing where the port is, RCCL has to do a lot of training/promoting for this new port. Boarding the ship was fairly easy for us. We checked in and got our stateroom keys and boarded a shuttle within 15 minutes of checking in to takes us to the ship. We got right on board, but had to wait an hour before the cabin was ready. This gave us a little time to inspect the New Family suite is nice, but to us it seemed quite small to hold 14 passengers comfortably. The staff in the dining room was great, but the rest the staff was less than courteous. The food was fair and I am just hoping that it will get better after all of the kinks are worked out. The cabin was typical of most RCCL ships, but the new beds are wonderful. It was the most comfortable bed we have experienced on a ship. Other than the FlowRider and the boxing ring the ship is very similar the Voyager class ships other than it's size. The pool were larger than on most ships and the H2O kids zone pool is wonderful. To bad the weather was not great as we would have like to try out the pools. As we had a couple of meetings to attend, we did not get to see as much of the ship as we wanted. Overall the ship was great and hope it gets better as the ship takes on regular clients. Dave Thrower, CTA, MCC, DS PMT Travel Medford, MA

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May 12, 2006

Inaugural Cruise to Nowhere

The setup: I was helping my wife Joanie with groups of 200 and 100 cruise professionals back-to-back on inaugural sailings of the Freedom of the Seas. We flew to Newark, New Jersey and spent the evening in the Liberty Marriott Hotel before making our way out to meet the ship. Inaugurals are always tons of fun, but these were very special. From the moment we arrived at Bayonne and the cruise terminal, there was an air of excitement

and anticipation. The Freedom was coming down from New York where the Today Show was broadcast for her. We spent the afternoon in the terminal with many of the group members and when the Freedom of the Seas arrived at the terminal, everyone was outside enjoying the moment. Part of the NACTA Family Reunion What's New? A Surf Park, more fun on deck 13; H2OZone, a kid's water park that will entertain children for the entire cruise; a Professional Boxing Ring; a Professional Karaoke Nightclub; Cantilevered Jacuzzis that hang of the ocean 11 decks below; a Profession Photo Studio; a whole new Royal Promenade with a barber shop and dozens of new stores and features. a complete lounge strictly for Diamond Members; the Largest Professional Rock Climbing Wall that includes a chimney and 11 different routes to the top; Extensive Wi-Fi and Cell Phone Access throughout the ship; Flat Screen TVs in every cabin and lots more. You won't believe it! Summary in Advance Think Voyager Class on steroids. This review is a pictorial of the Freedom of the Seas. I did it this way so you can see the diversity of activities the ship offers and get a feel for the ship itself. You could actually sail on the Freedom of the Seas and never get off the ship and have the best cruise of your life. The Freedom of the Seas truly has no competition and is unique onto itself. The Freedom of the Seas is destination enough to warrant taking the cruise. Any ports that you might visit are just an added bonus to the experience. If you are comparison-shopping for a cruise, here is how to tell if you should pick this ship. The Freedom of the Seas is, without question, the best choice if you fit any of the following profiles. The Freedom of the Seas Families or Family Reunions: Do yourself a favor and don’t even think about another ship. There is such an assorted amount of activities and entertainment on the Freedom of the Seas, that there is lots to do for everyone. I saw families bonding everywhere. I only regret that the Freedom class ships didn’t exist when our son was younger. I just don't think there could be a better choice for family reunions. Honeymooners and Destination Weddings: Royal Caribbean has many amenities for honeymooners that make this an excellent choice. The ship is large and diverse enough to satisfy anyone’s tastes, but it also offers a level of privacy that honeymooners sometimes do not get on smaller ships. For small destination weddings, the Freedom and Voyager class ships cannot be beat. Business Meetings: For the same reason this is the best choice for family reunions, it would be the best choice for meetings. There are so many team-building opportunities on the Freedom that it is almost unbelievable. The Conference Center is state of the art (as good as you would find in any hotel or resort) and the idea that many of the usually variable costs are controlled, makes the Freedom of the Seas an incredible meeting venue. Groups and Friends Traveling Together:  If you belong to a group of some sort or travel with other couples, the Freedom of the Seas offers enough different opportunities for activities and entertainment, that everyone will be pleased. Having the group come together for meetings and meals, shore excursions and cocktail parties while pursuing individual tastes, makes for a happy cruise. About the only folks I wouldn’t recommend the Freedom of the Seas as the best choice would be those that prefer smaller, more intimate ships and singles traveling by themselves. Because of the number of passengers, number of entertainment venues and overall size of the ship, it would much more difficult to make a connection with other singles. However, Royal Caribbean does an excellent job of offering single's events, so it just might be my observation rather than a matter of fact. One thing is guaranteed. You will be in awe of this ship and remember your cruise for a good long time. The The Freedom of the Seas is the first Freedom class ship and there are more coming. At 160,000 gross tons, she is massive. She is also well evolved, as every detail in her construction and décor is simply beautiful. The attention to detail (in the flooring, walls, ceilings, wall coverings and art work) is simply awe-inspiring. Everywhere you look you are treated to visually stimulating design. For this reason I have included a good number of pictures so you can begin the visual experience with this review before you get on the ship. Cabin 1670, Deck 10, Portside Aft Junior Suite Cabin 1670: Joanie and I were located in cabin 1670 that was a Junior Suite on deck 10. It was ample enough to be very comfortable and we completely enjoyed the cabin. It had a very comfortable queen sized bed with excellent bedding. There were two nightstands with individual reading lights that were quite effective. There was a large sitting area and coffee table. Across from the bed area was a large desk area with 2 110v outlets (American) and 2 110v outlets (European). This proved to be an excellent feature. There is a flat screen television with a substantial amount of programming, a safe and ample storage for clothing items and miscellaneous items. There was a refrigerator directly under the television that easily held glasses of wine and would have been great for cooling bottles of wine, as well,  A huge walk-in closet lines the cabin entrance way and offers a good amount of storage for hanging clothes, as well as shoe and miscellaneous storage in the shelves on the left hand side.  The Bathroom in the Junior Suite The bathroom was well-designed and offered ample storage for toiletries and other items. The shower/bath offered excellent temperature and water flow controls and I very much liked the huge bathtub that easily accommodated my 6' 0" body. Exploring the Freedom of the Seas The best way to explore the Freedom is to start at the very top and work our way to the bottom, so that is how I will conduct the visual tour. So, if you will join me for a ride up the aft elevator to deck 14 and then walk up the stairwell to deck 15, this is where we will begin.   The Intimate Skylight Chapel Deck 15 Up the stairway from the Viking Crown Lounge, one finds the intimate Skylight Chapel. It gets its name from the stained glass skylight that resides over the pulpit. This is a gorgeous chapel and would be a great place for a small wedding or vow renewal.   Olive or Twist in the Viking Crown Lounge Deck 14 The main venue here is the Olive or Twist in Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge and it offers music, dancing and a good number of places to hang out and enjoy a cocktail.  We spent the sail-a-way watching the fireworks show on the initial sail out of the port here and enjoyed the huge views. It has an awesome view of the ship's fabulous H2OZone.   The Diamond Club In the rear of the Viking Crown Lounge there is a dedicated lounge for Crown and Anchor Diamond and Diamond Plus members. This is certainly a major benefit of attaining Diamond status with Royal Caribbean. Seven Hearts Card Room The Seven Hearts Card Room is located on the port side of the Viking Crown Lounge and is a wonderful spot to relax with friends playing cards. Cloud Nine Cloud Nine is used for a private meeting and/or party room. It is where receptions are4 held after weddings in the Skylight Chapel or for other parties or meetings.     The Miniature Golf Course Deck 13 When I hear someone say ”I don’t know, I think I might get bored on a cruise” I think of the Freedoms deck 13, as to why everyone would love this deck. First let’s go all the way aft to the golf course. The Freedom offers a wonderful miniature golf course). You can simply grab a putter and a golf ball and play all you want. It is expansive and a downright fun course. The FlowRider Billed as a surfing venue, the FlowRider is more akin to wake boarding or water skiing. When turned on, the FlowRider generates a large volume of water that rushes up the face of the FlowRider's surface and over the top of the crest into a small pool. The surface is made of soft plastic, so falling on it does not hurt. One rides either a Boogie Board or a small (finless) skim board for tons of fun. Wipe Out Adjacent to the FlowRider is a bar known as Wipe Out. There is also a logo store and the office for the FlowRider where one schedules time to use it. Forward of the FlowRider complex is the golf simulator. It was not open on this cruise, but everyone that uses it on other Voyager class ships loves it. The Basket and Sports Ball Court The Freedom of the Sea's Rock Climbing Wall Here is another major improvement that has been made on the Freedom of the Seas. This rock climbing wall is the largest in the fleet at 43 feet tall and 44 feet wide. The "Chimney" on the Rock Climbing Wall The Rock Wall's Chimney is very realistic and adds a sense of realism for those experienced in rock climbing. It is very cool. With 11 separate routes to the top, this will challenge even experienced climbers. The entire aft section of deck 13 is dedicated to sports and activities and is unique to the Freedom of the Seas. Deck 12 What the aft section of deck 13 is to sports minded passengers, the aft section of deck 12 is to children. The Freedom of the Seas offers children the most diverse opportunity to have fun of any cruise ship in existence. Royal Caribbean's Signature Johnny Rockets Restaurant Starting with the popular Johnny Rockets Restaurant that serves burgers, fries, malts and more, deck 12 is designed to keep kids happy. The Interior of Johnny Rockets on the Freedom of the Seas While there is a nominal charge to dine at Johnny Rockets, kids love the food and atmosphere and can dine here by themselves without any hassle. The Living Room There are five separate age groups, each with their own rooms and attractions. The Living Room is a great place for teenagers to hang out. In addition to the Living Room, there is Fuel, a teens Club with dancing, Adventure Ocean for the younger ones and plenty of other venues. Challenger's Arcade The Freedom of the Sea's video arcade complex is impressive. This picture shows only the entrance to a large room with a large assortment of games. This was very popular with the kids on board. The entire aft complex on deck 12 is a kid's dream come true. The Freedom of the Seas Jogging Track   The deck 12 jogging track does not penetrate the children's area but still offers a healthy track for walking or jogging. This is very popular in the morning.   The Sky Bar The Sky Bar resides in the center of the jogging track and is a great place for a refreshment out of doors. Looking over the pool area, it is also a great place to watch the pool games and other pool-side activities. The Freedom Beauty Salon The Freedom's “Freedom Day Spa” resides in the forward section. The Freedom Day Spa offers a full beauty salon and complete spa services. Deck 11 Deck 11 is the first deck that traverses the entire length of the ship and offers an abundance of leisure activities. By taking the stairwell down from deck 12 in the ShipShape Spa, we can access the fitness center. ShipShape Fitness Center The ship’s “ShipShape Fitness Center” resides on deck 11 and offers an excellent collection of free weights and Nautilus machines for a great work out. There is everything here any one could ask for. Freedom of the Seas Cardiovascular Machines There is also an excellent collection of cardio machines with excellent views of the ocean. The Aerobics Room of the ShipShape Fitness Center The Freedom of the Seas had a very good aerobics program and the classes were heavily attended. The ShipShape Fitness Center Boxing Ring Just in case you want to duke it out with someone or would like to take boxing lessons, The Freedom of the Seas offers a professional quality boxing ring. Solarium Pool Heading aft, one enters the Solarium. This is truly an excellent area, as the pool was open to the sunlight the entire trip while the surrounding lounge chairs were covered and offered protection from the sun. The Solarium Jacuzzi's Wow! The solarium Jacuzzis are cantilevered so that they extend about 12 feet beyond the side of the ship. We spent an afternoon here and had a wonderful time enjoying the views and the companionship of friends. The Cantilevered Jacuzzis This kind of extra feature is what makes the Freedom of the Seas a most remarkable ship. There is a bar located inside the Solarium, as well. The Freedom of the Seas Pool Complex Panorama The pool area just doesn’t seem large enough for a ship this size, yet it was never so crowded that I couldn’t find a lounge chair. The Freedom has an interesting towel policy, as you are issued two beach/pool towels in your cabin at the beginning of the cruise, but are charged $20 if you lose one. While I am sure the ship is trying to control costs from laundering and replacing towels, the result is that very few folks leave them on deck chairs when they depart. For this reason, it always seemed easy to locate an available lounge. Further, virtually all of the children preferred the H2OZone to the main pool. When you read about it, you will see why. The Pool Bar This has become a signature bar with Royal  Caribbean. The Pool Bar is always active and a great place to relax and enjoy an adult beverage. The H2OZone Panorama Aft of the main pool area is another complete water park complex known as the H2OZone. This area was designed for kids and is one of the most unbelievable features on the Freedom. Another View of H20Zone Think of the H20Zone as a water park for children. There are waterfalls to stand under, water fountains to fiddle with and Jacuzzis just for kids. Some of the Various Water Features in H20Zone H20Zone is hugely popular with the kids and it serves two purposes. First, it gives children the dream water park that will entertain them for an entire cruise and second, it relieves the pressure on the main pool area from kids jumping into the Jacuzzis, running around on the decks and splashing about in the pools. It is a net gain for everyone. Now adults have their own venue in the Solarium (no one under 18 years of age allowed) and the kids have their own. The pool area is relieved from the pressure of kids that feel too old for the kid's pools and slides on the Voyager class vessels. The Entrance to the Windjammer Cafe Aft of the H20Zone area is one of the main dining venues on the Freedom of the Seas, the Windjammer Cafe. One enters the area through the main entrance to the Windjammer Cafe, but will be presented with the entrance to the alternative restaurant on board the Freedom, the Portofino Restaurant on the starboard side of the entrance to the Windjammer and Chops Grille is on the port.. Portofino Restaurant Chops Grille Elegant Dining Area Both Portofino and Chops Grille Restaurants require a reservation and there is a nominal $20.00 service fee associated with dining in the intimate and luxurious surroundings. The Windjammer Cafe The Windjammer Café is Royal Caribbean’s signature buffet. This is the main buffet area of the Navigator. The Windjammer is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and offers numerous selections. It is a major buffet with lots of different areas so you will want to explore it before settling into a line to start picking your dishes for your meal. The salad bar is excellent, as is Jade, the Asian buffet and there are always healthy choices offered at each meal. In the aft section of the Windjammer buffet is an omelet station that then becomes a pasta station for lunch. There are always waiters on hand if you want a cocktail or glass of wine. Hungry? Deck 10 Deck 10 is entirely made up of passenger cabins and suites   Deck 9 With the exception of the Concierge Club, deck 9 is made up of passenger cabins. The Concierge Club actually wears two different hats. The Concierge Club Entrance By day, it is where folks staying in suites at the Concierge level can make reservations for various things and use the concierge to help make their cruise more enjoyable. In the morning and the evening, it turns into a lounge where breakfast or cocktails and other beverages, along with hot appetizers are served to those in the concierge level suites, as well as Diamond loyalty members.   Royal Caribbean On-Line Deck 8 With the exception of “Royal Caribbean Online”, the Freedom of the Sea’s Internet Café, the balance of deck 8 is made up of passenger cabins. Royal Caribbean has made great strides in improving their Internet Cafe services and operating speed. What was once a major negative for Royal Caribbean, their Internet access is a huge positive and reason to select Royal Caribbean should you need to have reasonably price fast access while on a cruise. II used the wi-fi access, which was widely available throughout the ship (including our cabin) and had no problems whatsoever. Connection speeds varied somewhat but were always acceptable to downright fast. I would give the overall Internet access service on the Freedom an 8 or a 9 based on the value proposition that was offered. It is now far superior to other mass-market lines. Congratulations Royal Caribbean! The Freedom of the Seas Library Deck 7 With the exception of the library, deck 7 is made up of all passenger cabins. The library offers a good selection of books, but is smaller than one would expect on a ship of this size.   Deck 6 The Loyalty Ambassador's Office Once again, deck 6 features primarily passenger cabins. However, here is where you will find the Loyalty Ambassador and the ability to sign up for Royal Caribbean’s Crown & Anchor Society. I would highly recommend that you do sign up, as the benefits are excellent. The Freedom of the Sea’s Business Service Center is located adjacent to the Loyalty Ambassador’s office as well. . The Royal Promenade   Deck 5 Oh boy! This is the deck that you will remember from this cruise (well, I am sure you will remember everything about this cruise). When you first see the Royal Promenade, it is simply breathtaking. It is difficult to believe that you are on a ship. Three Stories of Wonderful Restaurants Starting with the Galileo Dining Room at the very aft end of the ship. You realize that this is something special. The three-story dining room complex carries a different name for each restaurant on every deck to make it easier for folks to remember where their restaurant is. The dining room is simply breath-taking and while large, because of the way it is partitioned into small areas, is quite intimate. The Champagne Bar Moving forward past the elevator banks, you enter the main part of the Royal Promenade. On your left is the popular Champagne Bar. This was one of my favorites, as they also have an excellent wine list to go with the Champagne that they serve. Guest Relations Desk and Explorations Tour Desk On the right and in front of the Champagne Bar, is the Centrum and on the starboard side you will find Guest Relations and the Tour Desk. The Royal Promenade There are several shops and bars along the Royal Promenade and they are is the center of much activity. On of my favorites was Vintages Wine Bar and the Bull & Bear Pub. They were fun and intimate and always popular. The shops on the Freedom of the Seas are incredible and the Royal Promenade is much larger than on the Voyager class ships. Here is a look at just some of the shops. Vintages Wine Bar Vintages Wine Bar offers select wines from around the world by the glass. It is an excellent venue for meeting friends for an adult beverage. A Clean Shave Barber Shop That's right. There is an old fashioned active barber shop for guys that want to get a shave or haircut. How About an Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop? Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream shop was a very popular stop day and night. Cafe Promenade Featuring Seattle's Best coffee drinks, Cafe Promenade was the "go-to" place in the morning and late evening. Great lattes, by the way. Sorrento's Pizza Shop Everyone enjoyed a quick slice of pizza at Sorrento's Pizza. Just One of the Many Shops Selling Products on the Royal Promenade There are a ton of shops selling everything from perfume to logo items to formal wear and so on. You will love the Royal Promenade. The Beautiful Entrance to the Pharaoh's Palace Leaving the Royal Promenade, you enter the Pharaoh's Palace. This is one of the main entertainment venues and is always active. The Pharaoh's Palace We had our group cocktail parties here in the Pharaoh's Palace and it was quite enjoyable. There is a good amount of space to accommodate a lot of people, yet we didn't have to use a mic to address the groups because the acoustics were so good. The Bar in Pharaoh's Palace The bar in Pharaoh's Palace was a great place to take in the action. The Connoisseur Cigar Club The Connoisseur Cigar Club resides just outside of the entrance to the Pharaoh's Palace and has that “club” feeling for those that want to enjoy a glass of brandy and their favorite cigar. The Arcadia Theater Deck 4 Heading down the forward stairwell we arrive at the upper entrance to the Arcadia Theater. This is the main showroom on the Freedom of the Seas and it is beautiful indeed. You can enter the theater from two different decks, but I found this was the best way to enter the showroom. Just aft of the Arcadia Theater is the Schooner Bar.   The Schooner Bar The Schooner Bar is the signature bar for the Royal Caribbean fleet and this particular one is superb. We met here one evening and had a great time. There is always a pianist/singer here entertaining everyone and the mood is fun and jovial with sing-a-longs after dinner. A Lounge Area in the Schooner Bar  The Schooner Bar's nautical motif is evident everywhere. The Crypt's Entrance from Deck 4 On the port side, one sees a weird doorway entitled “The Crypt”. I didn’t explore it until later in the cruise, but you should walk into it the second you see it, as it leads you into the ship’s 2-story disco area, which is surreal. The Casino Royale Moving aft from the Schooner Bar one enters the Casino Royale. This is a huge casino with lots of gaming space. There are a ton of slot machines and other games that were always quite busy. Many folks actually walked off the ship with a positive cash flow from gambling. The Casino Royal Gaming Tables The tables were also quite busy every time I walked through the casino. The Portrait Studio in the Photo Gallery Just aft of the Casino Royale is the Photo Gallery. Included in the Photo Gallery is a unique photo studio designed to take personal portraits of passengers. These were very well received. The photography staff on the Freedom that took our group photos was professional and "can do" oriented. As you can imagine, shooting a group of 200 people has its challenges. Boleros Lounge. Boleros was one of the most popular lounges on our cruise. They had a very talented group playing Latin and Salsa music that got everyone up dancing. The Three Levels of the Restaurant Issac's Restaurant is aft on deck 4 and is as beautiful as the other two floors of this magnificent dining venue. Deck 3 The Entrance to the Leanardo's Restaurant on Deck 3 The lowest floor of the restaurant complex, Leanardo's Restaurant resides in the aft section of deck 3. As you can see, arriving at the restaurant is just as breath-taking as dining in it. Outside of the restaurant (where the photo gallery is on the Voyager class shipps) is an art studio and the ship's communications center. On Air Karaoke Nightclub Wow! If you like karaoke, you will love On Air. On Air's Interior On Air is a night club exclusively designed for karaoke. It is large, well equipped and a karaoke singer's dream come true. You will love it. Studio B Sudio B is the Freedom of the Seas Ice Skating ring that passengers can use when it is available and also houses one of the best shows that you will ever see on any ship. Do not miss the Ice Skating Show when you cruise on the Freedom! It is simply awesome. In order to move forward on the ship, you will need to go up to deck 4 and go forward to the forward Centrum and then descend back down to deck 3. If your destination is the ship’s disco, the Crypt, you can enter it on the upper floor through the tunneled entrance (pictured above). Once back down to deck 3, you will see the main entrance to the Crypt. This is a really excellent disco. There is a great sound system, plenty of seats and great service.  Forward, you will find the forward entrance to the Arcadia Theater. Deck 2 Deck 2 is primarily all passenger cabins with the exception of the the Conference Center. We held our meetings in one of the break-out rooms of the Conference center  Holding Our Meeting in the Conference Center The Conference Center is awesome. It has several break-out rooms (I counted 5) that are excellent for groups of 3 to 40. They also can be combined into two large rooms that could house a very good sized meeting (we had well over 100 in our meeting). The Conference Center's Screening Room They offer all of the techno stuff one could possibly want for presentations and they are set up for professional level meetings. Summery: The Freedom of the Seas is in a class all its own. With no competition, don't miss the opportunity to cruise on this magnificent ship. She is absolutely wonderful.

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  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

To celebrate our 25th-wedding anniversary, my wife and I booked our first cruise. We're both prone to sea-sickness, so we looked for the biggest ship we could find (Freedom of the Seas), booked for December (after Hurricane season has ended) and what we surmised might be the compartively gentler waters of the Western Caribbean. Well, I'm here to tell you we were very, very happy with all three of our choices: the ship is HUGE, the weather was mild

(although it could have been a little sunnier and warmer), and most importantly we never got sick. Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is an amazing ship, and frankly, my wife and I agree it was THE BEST vacation experience ever. The food was fantastic, whether eating in the buffet-style restaurants or the oppulent formal dining rooms. We also ate at Chops one night and Portofino's the next, and these were excellent in their own right and definitely worth the extra-cost. Our preference was to eat breakfast and lunch buffet-style in, say, The Windjammer Cafe, and to eat dinner at the more formal dining room or specialty restaurants. It was convenient not having to think too much about your attire during the day meals, and it was so much fun to get fancied-up for the evening meals and festivities. Check to see if your cruise has "My Time Dining." Ours did and it allowed us to book our dining time at 6pm each night, to get a window seat, and to eat alone, which is something we much enjoyed considering this was our anniversary we were celebrating. This said, we did enjoy conversing across tables with some of our fellow diners; some with whom we became friendly enough to meet for drinks and conversation at one of the local bars (Olive or Twist was our favorite, by the way). If the food was fantastic (and it certainly was fantastic), then the wait-staff was a definite notch above. And this goes for wait-staff at all of the eateries, whether bars, buffet-style or specialty restaurants, including Johnny Rockets, but particularly in the My Time Dining Room. All duded and dolled-up we thought we looked like a million dollars, and that's probably a tribute to the dining room staff, all of whom made you FEEL like a million bucks! The stateroom was a surprise, for sure. We thought it would be much smaller, but we had plenty of room. The bed was king-sized, plus we had a couch; and the bathroom was more than ample. We had a balcony and much-enjoyed waking up each morning and taking stock of the weather before venturing out for the day. The TV was convenient; we didn't watch any shows, but we did use it to check the status of our on-board account, and also to find out where we were and how far we had traveled, graphically on an on-screen map of the Caribbean. Being it was our anniversary, I surprised my wife by ordering "Happy Anniversary" decorations for the room, and also, another night, rose-petals and champagne. The beautiful decorations were waiting for us when we arrived, and the rose-petals and champagne appeared a few days later, as if out of nowhere, when we called it a night and returned to our room. My wife and I thought the health-club was top-notch. It was our first-stop each morning, and we also returned many evenings. She took advantage of the spinning and aerobic classes, and I signed up for kick-boxing cardio. Excellent machines one and all, and since the health-club is at the front of the ship, the view of the ocean while working-out was fantastic. As with all of the staff we encountered, the Dutchman running the gym, Renee, was simply incredible. We lounged in Labadee and thought it was a simply beautiful place to spend a day. From what I could tell, Royal Caribbean is doing a lot of work there, so I can only imagine our experience will be even better next time (and there will be a next time!). Ocho Rios was what you might expect, but our snorkeling excursion was bad: they didn't have enough masks and had to call in another boat, and then they didn't have enough fins and, guess what, had to call in another boat; and then, to top it all off, the flotation vests were the usual orange kapok vests (think the ones you get when you rent a rowboat) and after we all complained they called in yet ANOTHER boat to get us the more elegant yellow "snorkeling" vests. Once in the water, though, the experience was fun, but not worth the wait or the hassle. NOTE: there are many different snorkeling adventures to be had in Ocho Rios, so I am sure we just got a bad one. Or maybe it was just a bad day. Georgetown, Grand Cayman were gorgeous; the water was the bluest yet. We kayaked and snorkled here, at the Beach Colony Resort (which you can book on-line with Royal Caribbean), and his was top-notch. We highly-recommend this shore adventure. The kayaking was fun and the snorkeling experience was simply incredible. In Cozumel we booked the historic walking tour and shopping trip and we much enjoyed just tooling around at a leisurely pace. But next time we're renting one of those neat, euro-style scooters to be had outside of the port offices...they look like fun, fun, fun. We truly enjoyed our first cruise and highly-recommend Royal Caribbean and Freedom of the Seas. We'll definitely go again, just as soon as we can. This ship has something for everyone: you can lounge and read to your heart's content, you can keep busy with activities, and the ports were exciting. Best of all, the food and the service cannot be beat.

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By Phil_CR

  • New

Nov 30, -0001

Labadee Ocho Rios Cozumel

I have to say that the cruise from start to finish was great and top notch all the way. The food on this trip was amazing, better than any cruise I have been on. The friendliness of the staff was very good in most cases. Our Stateroom attendant was great and he informed us of many helpful hints to avoid long lines and what not to do. Pools, entertainment, ports of call, and anything to do with the cruise was fabulous. I will say that there was

a lot of kids on this trip. Pools were mostly full of 4-12 year olds, even in the adult area. There are endless activities on the boat to keep you busy. I spent a lot of time in the casinos at night and it is pretty nice for the space they have to work with. They had single deck blackjack which was very profitable for me. Also, they did have a virtual Texas Hold'em table that I did not expect them to have. It was very fun and a great idea, but the house rake on the game was close to 10%. Wow. Overall we were very happy with the cruise itself. Getting off the boat was another story. Our color was called to get off the boat at 7:00 AM-Light Blue. We got off the boat with our parents who were at the same time as well, but were orange bag tags. They got their luggage in 20 minutes no problem. I wish I could say the same for us. We were called off the boat at 7:00 and did not receive our bags until 9:45AM. I wish I was joking but I'm not. Apparently they called us at the wrong time and the entire color of Light Blue stood around for hours with no sign of bags. Not only did the baggage people not help us, the people from the ship were clueless as well. Luckily our flight didn't leave until 3 PM, but I talked to many guests that missed their flights due to this ordeal. We finally got our bags and were on our way, but wow, what a mess. No one from RC ever came out to appologize or explain what was going on. Very unprofessional. I just hope none of you get Light Blue tags in the future. Enjoy! Small but Comfy great Overall it was very fun.

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