Ship: Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
Travel: February 2013
Agent: Karen Malone
Traveling: Family of 4 with kids 8 and 6 at time of travel
Hello! The cruise was great! Thank you for your assistance in getting it set-up. As you had suggested, the Freedom of the Seas was a great ship. All the activities we wanted, but not too big. The kids especially liked the skating rink – we spent several hours ice skating this trip. Also, the kids club was excellent. I was happy to see that the kids had just as much fun this time as last time. We typically only used the club during dinner hours, but the kids looked forward to going every night.
The only major negative we had about the cruise was the dining room. Although we had a great table directly in front of the window, the tables were so smooched together that it was challenging just finding a path to get to our table. I don’t remember the room being nearly as crowded on our other cruises, so not sure if this is unique to Freedom of the Seas? It was so uncomfortable that we ended up only eating in the dining room once (although we had a full dinner menu for room service which made dining in the room a real pleasure – see below).
This was our first time in a suite (last time we did a Junior Suite), and had debated whether or not it would be worth the extra cost. Happy to say that we enjoyed the extra services provided with the suite even more than we anticipated and thought they justified the extra cost. For example… we had never taken advantage of room service before on a cruise. Not only did the suites have a full dining room menu, but they prioritized our orders. We never waited more than 30-40 minutes for the food to be delivered (we heard others complaining that it took 1.5-2 hours for regular service with the very limited menu). This was great for the kids – at the end of a long day they could relax in the room (it was big enough to actually relax in) and eat great food like appetizers, salads, steak, desserts while watching a movie (oh yeah, did I mention the room had a DVD player with lots of movie options to check out from the concierge). Just enough time to recharge and head off to the kids club for the evening. Luke and I skipped the dining room several times for a romantic dinner on the balcony once the kids were at the kids club. Allowed us to eat whenever we wanted and not be tied to a seating at dinner. Again – I was really surprised how much we appreciated the full room service. Another surprise was the ability to eat breakfast and lunch in the private dinning rooms (the ones that serve as the “specialty restaurants” at night). It was SO nice to grab our food off of the buffet with everyone else and then have a quiet beautiful place to sit and eat. There was waitstaff to bring us drinks when we needed a refill. For breakfast, we could even order off of the regular dining room menu – so the kids could hit the buffet right away and we could get a made to order breakfast. I never minded the noise and chaos of the cafeteria for breakfast and lunch on other cruises, and was surprised how much I really enjoyed the peace and quiet of the private dining area. The cocktail hour each night (with complimentary appetizers, beer, wine, and cocktails) was also really nice. We had a chance to really get to know some great people because we saw them every night in the lounge. The private lunch on a deck overlooking the ocean on our Bahama day was awesome. I was getting really nervous looking at the HUGE line of people at the regular buffet and those squatting holding plates on their beach chairs trying to eat. How fantastic to walk right up to a private spot, no lines, real tables, beautiful view, great food. Oh yeah, getting escorted past the 30+ minute line to get on a tender to the Bahama island and straight onto the waiting tender was a great way to start the day. We also took advantage of the reserved seating at the shows – much better to show up 15 minutes before show time and have a great seat than having to show up 30-45 minutes early with 2 antsy kids.
What else… we (Luke and I – after the kids ate in the room and headed up to the kids club) decided to try Portofino – the restaurant with a “cover charge”. I have a hard time with this concept as we already paid for meals as part of the cruise. It was fantastic! The relaxed atmosphere and attentive service was wonderful, and the food was SO worth the cover charge. We enjoyed it so much we went back the next night!
Finally, we did an excursion in St. Maartin that I would HIGHLY recommend (not booked through Royal Caribbean). It was with a private charter company called Captain Allen’s. It was a 4 hour trip shuttled around on their power boats to several different snorkel and beach spots. Simple but delicious sandwich and fruit lunch. Super nice staff, beautiful secluded beaches, great snorkel spots. It was our favorite day of the cruise (the kids LOVED cruising over the huge waves in the ocean), and a great value.
Thanks again for your guidance and help arranging the cruise. It was a great trip, and we will probably do another in a couple of years.
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