July 2015 - Freedom of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
The cruise was a good overall although there are a few things I would change. My hubby and I took two cruises ( RC and Carnival) before we had children so this was our first family cruise. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a family cruise. LOL
Cabin: (Get a suite)
The cabin is small for a family of four but manageable. I would opt for a suite next time for added comfort or maybe adjoining rooms so the kids could have their own bathroom and space. We had two over sized twin beds which was put together to make a queen bed. The kids had bunk beds that came out from the walls. I didn't like hearing the beds squeak when they moved around or when they climbed down to use the restroom.
The bathroom is small but not bad. I like the enclosed shower feature. We did bring in air freshener from home as someone recommended. There is no fan. I expected the bathroom to have an awful smell which it didn't.
We stayed in cabin 9689 (aft) which I would not recommend. Floor nine is nice and quiet but our cabin was probably above the engine so the beds vibrated at times or we heard a humming sound. I didn't like the swaying motion either. I would opt for midship next time.
Food: (Sandwiches and treats provided on Deck 5 Starbucks for free)
The food was okay. The kids enjoyed the Windjammer which is casual dining for breakfast lunch and dinner. We mainly ate there for breakfast. After a couple of days the food choices became redundant: pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage, eggs, omelet station, same pastries, etc.
We did My Time Dining for dinner and thought we could go whenever we wanted which isn't true. You have to make reservations for the time slot you want. The only time that was left was 5:30 so that's what we ended up doing. The food here was a little better. The portions were skimpy at times especially with the salads. I had to request a second salad on more than one occasion. The deserts were okay. The service was great in the sense that they went out of their way to accommodate you. The main complaint is that it took 1 hr 45 minutes or so to eat dinner which caused us to miss the 7:00 show. Shows are held nightly at 7 & 9. You have to arrive at least 20 minutes early to get a good seat. We didn't make it to the 9:00 show because our kids were tired by 9. You may want to eat dinner at the Windjammer which is casual and offers a variety of options.
Drinks: (Deck 5 in back of Star bucks have cups for water)
We didn't do any beverage packages. Water, lemonade and tea is provided. The drinks at the Windjammer sit on a tray and you choose what you want. They were quite awful and were watered down by the ice cubes. I requested a drink without ice and it was bathwater warm. Not good.
Water is provided throughout the ship but you have to search for it. One main spot is on Deck 5 in the back of where Star Bucks is located. You have to pay for coffee but sandwiches, cookies and treats are free.
The Ice Show was awesome!! A must see.
Ice Skating was fun but chaotic.
You get 30 minutes to skate and they only allow 30 people on the small rink. The 30 minutes include you getting your gear(knee pads, elbow pads, helmet, skates) and putting it on. The first time we went it took us 20 minutes to get everything on. We were in the second group.The kids only had 10 minutes to skate! Stressful. The second time we went super early and were the first group to go. They allowed the first group to get their gear early so we had a full 30 minutes to skate. Get there early! Pack long pants and socks! Sign waiver before trip online!
Awesome! Kids loved it but the lines are super long. Think amusement park. There is a cost of $69.00 for lessons only! It is free to do the Flowrider. Many people didn't know this. They thought they had to pay $69.00 which is for lessons only. Sign waiver on line before trip!
Awesome! Please have your waivers signed. Long lines because people were signing paperwork. Annoying. Bring long pants or comfortable clothes. Shoes provided.
My hubby and I were excited about going but it was a let down. RC allows smoking in the casino and we could only tolerate being there a short time. I also didn't like that the casino is right next to the photo gallery so as you're looking at pictures with your kids you can smell smoke. Not good!
The dress code was not always enforced during dinner which angered some people. People wore t-shirts, shorts, etc. One man was turned away because he wore shorts and it wasn't pretty. The wife was upset because three other men were allowed in with shorts. We adhered to the dress code but honestly I would rather have a more casual experience.
My kids are 8 and 12. The camps are broken down into the following age categories:
6-8 9-11 12-17. My 8 year old was too mature for the 6-8 group so we bumped her up to the 9-11 which wasn't a problem. My 12 year old was uncomfortable being with the 12-17 age group so we bumped her down to the 9-11.
I honestly think the 12-17 range is too wide and should be more a 12-14 group and a 15-17 group. In the 12-17 group the kids could come and go as they please which I felt uncomfortable with. I was dissatisfied when parents were turned away during the 12-17 orientation on the first night. Parents were told that the orientation was for the teens only and instructed the parents to wait outside. This turned me off as well as a few other parents with 12 year olds. The staff person told me that my daughter would let me know what was discussed. This was outside my comfort level and in my opinion inappropriate.
I was probably the most disappointed about the activities for adults. The majority of the activities for adults started at 9:45pm so my hubby and I weren't able to participate. Our kids were exhausted by 9:30!
RC should offer early adult activities from 8-10pm and late activities starting at 10:00. The kids camp closed at 10:00pm and it would have been nice to drop the kids off at camp at 8 and attend some adult activities. I feel that RC does a good job catering to kids and adults after hours but not to parents who can't do the late night stuff! I'm not sure why some of the adult activities weren't offered during the day. For example on our first RC trip we did the Newlywed Game in the afternoon.Such activities were' not offered during the day.
Coco Cay: Great time. Went to Barefoot Beach. Clear water, not deep. Kids had great time snorkeling. You won't see any colorful fish but kids had great time nonetheless.Lots of water activities too. Food provided by RC.
This was a tendered location so getting off the ship took 45 minutes. It was painful!!! So many people and so slow! Least favorite part of trip!
Took a taxi to Magens Bay! $8 for adults. Free for kids 13 and under. AWESOME!! Such a beautiful beach! Nice amenities-changing room, food, chairs, etc. This was our favorite!!!!! BEAUTIFUL!!!!!
Took an Island Tour which was great! Excursion included a stop to shop. Then went to beach which was nice. If you go to Orient Beach may see nudity. A few people went snorkeling at Majo Beach the one with the planes. Unfortunately the beach was closed so check to make sure before you book excursion.
People used towels/books to reserve chairs by the pool starting at 7;30 Am. This was a huge problem. RC didn't enforce the rule of not reserving chairs so people did what they wanted. The ship was fully booked (4,500) so it felt crowded.
Slow slow slow! We climbed the stairs the majority of the time. If an elevator comes get on it. It will eventually take you where you need to go.
Things to Pack:
hangers from home -we left them behind
old water shoes-left behind. They never dried
Baggies/trash bags for wet clothes, etc.
Extra pool bag
Over the door make-up bag to store incidentals
The kids had a great time! It would have been more enjoyable for my hubby and me if we we were able to partake in some adult activities. The ship is clean and the staff was superb!