July 2014 - Freedom of the Seas to Caribbean - Western
Where to begin? Overall we had a great time! A few minor glitches here and there which kept this from being a 5 star review, but we were able to adapt and overcome.
I will start with the positive:
The accomodations were actually bigger than we though they would be. We stayed in a Cabin 9318, a D1 balcony at the center of the ship. Our stateroom attendant was excellent and the room was immaculate! The ship itself is beautiful and well maintained and the facilities are outstanding! The staff is very attentive and friendly! The various activities throughout the ship are numerous and fun! Our kids really enjoyed the H2O zone and pools. The arcade is big, but could use a little upkeep and maintenance on some of the games. We had a blast on our shore excursions! Two snorkeling trips and a dolphin swim! Wave Jet tour on Labadee was outstanding!
Now for the negatives:
The cruise line advertises themselves as "autism friendly". This is true to a point. What they do not tell you is that you have to arrange special accomodations through Autism on the Seas, a separate organization. The Adventure Ocean program is okay at best. You shove your kids into little rooms in large groups with a 25:1 ratio. When we expressed our concerns about our autistic son we were told we had to speak to a manager who was not there. This is not indicative to me of a trained "autism friendly" staff. We were told the manager would call us, but it never happened...we had to go find her the next day. When we we spoke to her we thought it would be great. What they did was stick our son in front of a video game for more than 2 hours. I can do that in the stateroom. Needless to say that was the first and only visit to the Adventure Ocean program.
Our other big gripe is their attention to special diet needs. We called over a month in advance to inform the cruise line of our son's autism and his and my wife's special diet needs (gfcf and tree nut allergy). Maybe we were spoiled by the service at Disney, but that was a waste of time. We had dinner seatings at 8 every night, but it took 2 days for them to fully get it right. Even then the first few days their food came out way late after everyone else was done eating. It is not like we changed anything day to day. Our waiter and assistant waiter were awesome and the food was otherwise excellent!!! The headwaiter was another matter. He seemed almost put out and condescending when we expressed our concerns and complained about the wait. Then he began avoiding our table so he would not have to deal with us.
You would think if our reservation was flagged with these things they could have been prepared...
As I said overall we had a great time! Some minor customer service issues to be resolved, but otherwise excellent!