Overall I was happy with the cruise despite many of the ship's shortcomings. It was a welcome break from the daily grind. I feel as though the itinerary really saved this cruise for me as all of the destinations were really great. If you have never cruised with a competing cruise line before and do not bring with you any preconceptions the Freedom of the Seas will blow your mind. It's a great ship with a great crew and some really great amenities. I mean how many ships have an ice skating rink?
4 out of 5
The lines moved quickly and efficiently. The Staff was super friendly.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
The food in the dining rooms was top notch, and the waitstaff was very personable. Our assistant waiter Delroy was committed to providing excellent service and was clearly passionate about his job. However, dinner service was a 90-120 minute affair depending on how punctually you arrived which I felt was too long if you had made plans to attend other functions that night. The windjammer buffet also provided excellent food with a bit too much repetition (particularly at breakfast) But it was also very crowded, as it was the only buffet on board ship and was located aft of the pool deck. Breakfast in the main dining hall was also rather convoluted, as there was a quasi buffet also set up amidst the tables which I feel caused more confusion and traffic than necessary. Particularly if you were trying to escape the madness of the buffet.
2 out of 5
Ice skating - Amazing that you can ice skate on board ship. The kids loved this. However, the attendants were clearly members of the skating show and were very apathetic about their jobs and were not super helpful or personable in any way other than handing out equipment.
Main Swimming Pool - Always crowded of course. One pool was always warm like bath water, and the other was freezing cold.
Ping Pong tables - located out of the way, were never too busy, always had an ample amount of balls and paddles for play. I spent a lot of time here with my kids trying to get away from the busier areas of the ship.
Water slides - only two out of three of the slides were working, and during cruising days the waits were in the 25-30 minute range. My kids went down once and were unwilling to continue waiting.
3 out of 5
We went to nearly every stage show on board during the 7 days aboard. I actually fell asleep during "Up In The Air" While the performers were exceedingly talented, it just couldn't hold my attention.
Ice Show - Amazing! The performers were so talented, the show was well choreographed and the music was up tempo and fun. My whole family enjoyed it.
Saturday Night Fever - Started off great with lots of singing and dancing that you would expect for a long established musical based on the 1970's disco hits. However, the show experienced technical difficulties 20 minutes in and was rescheduled for the last night. Unfortunately, we were not able to attend.
1 out of 5
My boys ages 9 and 11 attended the kid's club the first night we were on board after we attended dinner. They said that their was too much yelling and screaming, and that the staff could not get control of the room and simply gave up after the first hour. Needless to say they were unwilling to return thereafter which put a serious damper on any alone time for me and the Mrs.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Great service all around. Everyone was committed and passionate about their jobs.
4 out of 5
Really impressed with the overall layout of the ship, particularly the larger spaces which were aesthetically pleasing and always clean. I did however feel that there were not enough conditioned spaces where you could meet with your family outside of the stateroom and play cards or read quietly. I also didn't like that the windjammer buffet was the only space above decks where you could get a bite.
Cabin / Stateroom
3 out of 5
We stayed in a junior suite, which came of course with a balcony. It was not comparable in size to staterooms in which we had stayed with competing cruise lines, especially once the couch had been converted to an uncomfortable bed for the kids.
If you have sailed with other cruise lines, bring your patience and be prepared to lower your expectations a bit.
Booked a shore excursion for the Monkey and Sloth tour with Viator (trip advisor) were very pleased with the tour, the park, and the beach we ended up at. There was an ample amount of security present and we never felt unsafe. Also got some great photos :) Just be sure to get off the ship and to your destinations as soon as possible, as there was three other cruise ships present on the same day. By the time we left the monkey and sloth park there was a long wait.
We booked a tour for Chankanaab park to swim with the Manatees through Viator (trip advisor) This park was great. They had snorkeling, a pool, a mothers beach, and even a sea lion show. The service was great and there was plenty of shaded areas for you to sit. The prices were fair as well. We spent the whole day here. My only reservation was the manatee encounter. They do not allow you to take your own pictures (no big surprise). But they were gouging people for just one picture of you and your manatee.
4 out of 5
No problems. It could definitely be cooler where customs is located.
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