Ok - first off this ship looks EXACTLY like Voyager with a few exceptions - flow rider & H20 Zone (which was mostly a bust when we were moving because the sprinkles of water combined with the wind made for cold kids - most of the kids gathered in the 2 hot tubs at the Zone).
The ship looks old & the hallways smelled horrible - and I mean horrible - at least on decks 2 & 6 which were the only cabin hallways I walked through. The carpeting was stained, things just had an overall wornout look to them. We did Voyager & I really LOVED that ship so this was a huge disappointment.
Also there were TONS of kids just riding the elevators up & down all night & stopping them on every floor. Yes it was spring break & yes I expected TONS of kids - but supervised kids - my daughter LOVED the kids program (Explorers 6 - 8 ) and this was the BEST part of this cruise - that & Portifinos in which we had dinner 3 nights - Chops was just average (better than the dining rooms for sure - but average nonetheless) Portifino had the better Filet. I asked several of the elevator riding kids why they were doing it - their response "it's better than the teens club which is boring & everything was expensive there" (don't know what was expensive). OK so if going up & down in a glass elevator is better than the teens club then Royal has a real problem on their hands. This will not be the vacation for our family when my daughter becomes 10 because that seems to be the age I have noticed the hangouts start at. Though I did see kids as young as 7 wandering unsupervised (these parents are NUTS & in my mind that is almost child endangerment). With 4000 strangers on board how do you allow your most precious assest to wander ( you wouldn't leave your wallet on a table unsupervised but you'd leave your kid???????????)
On the island of Labadee (which we've been to several times before & really like) my 6 year old decided she wanted her hair braided (while I personally HATE this look on anyone I agreed). The guy "Johnny" who seemed to be the boss & spoke rudely to the women who actually did the work- told me it was $70 - my daughter had already jumped into the chair & 4 women had her hair in their hands by the time he announced his price - so I felt stuck. We paid an extra $10 at the end because we charged it bringing the total to $80 (all of which will be disputed with our charge card company). After lunch we noticed one of my daughters braids had come out so we went back to have it fixed which they gladly did - while they were fixing it a woman asked Johnny how much to have her hair done - curious I walked closer to listen & heard him say & I am quoting "Normally $60 - but because of the color of your skin (she was a very dark skinned spanish woman & he was a black haitian man) only $50." I make milk look tan. Needless to say I flipped out & told him I was reporting him to the ship - which I did. They said they had nothing to do with the hair braiding - funny but they advertise Labadee as their private island - yet claim no responsibility. I was very disappointed in how they did not handle this & we are Diamond Plus members. I will say that overall the service on this ship in many instances was poor - our dining room staff were terrible which is why my family & our table mates ate in the restauraunts 4 nights & Johnny Rockets & Wind Jammer another. The casino staff dealers were good - waiters were scarse - I had to ask several times a night if they could send a waiter/waitress over. The front desk staff with the exception of Giovana were arrogant & rude - not a great customer service asset.
So I would not sail Freedom again - maybe the size of this ship got away from them - but it looked dirty, smelled - kids running everywhere unsupervised, poor service in several areas (while very good service in others) left us rethinking our next vacation and while we enjoy being Diamond Plus members perhaps it is time to try another cruise line - one more customer service oriented. Any suggestions?
Yes, you can do what I'm doing, and if you wish to sail RCI, just avoid the Voyager class ships! I won't sail them again, for most of the reasons you just named. The smaller RCI ships are great, and there simply isn't any reason to sail the mega-ships in my opinion. Yep, you're also correct in pointing out that there are lots of other lines out there too, with good service, clean ships, great entertainment, and excellent food. (some of them are less expensive too!) There are enough people who like the Voyager Class ships, so I say, let them have them, and you and I can enjoy the really good cruises instead.
One reason we chose Freedom was because we knew that our daughter would have lots of kids to play with - we did Brillance 2 years ago - a transatlantic cruise (which was terrific all the way around except for the kids program only because of the lack of children, 7 kids on in total). This cruise was definitly far, far better for our daughter (which of course makes us happy) but alot worse for us. Voyager was a great cruise for all of us - but after this I think I might want to try another line for a while. I was especially turned off by them claiming no responsibility for workers on THEIR PRIVATE island. You can't have it both ways - either it is your private island or it is not.
Jamaica is the port to braid hair. Labadee and grand cayman are expensive. Last year while on the freedom I paid only $40. to braid the whole head. they want $20. for half a head. 2nd best place is cozumel.
I was on the Adventure of the Seas in October 2006, and that is a Voyager ship, and my husband and I loved every aspect of the ship. The quality of the food and workers was excellent, we had nothing to complain about. We would love to cruise on the AOS again one-day soon. I so agree that some of these ships are getting to big, like in the Freedom ships, which includes Freedom, Liberty of the Seas that is expected to sail in May and the new one, Independence of the Seas that is coming out May 2008. I believe that these ships that keep getting bigger are too hard to keep everyone happy. The cruise-lines should focus on keeping their customers happy, and the saying is true with this topic "Big Isn't Always Better"!
I think the hair braiding guy also forgot to mention the longer the hair, the more it costs. Did they do her entire head or just a few?
I went to the Bahamas about 8 years ago, woman had hair about at the base of her shoulder blades. Costed her $85 for her entire head.
Next time, have your daughter just get 2 braids. One on each side.
People are more aggressive on the islands, so you have to be pushy back. I discovered that on St. Lucia when I got off to browse the shops. One guy wanted to take me on a tour of the island. After I told him no twice, I finally looked at him & said, "What part of No don't you understand? The N or the O?". His co-workers/friends/whatever cracked up. He left me alone.
Spring Break? I would never cruise during this time. It's a madhouse. And I don't have patience with kids with no manners. If I was in the elevator, I would have hit the emergency stop at a floor & kicked them all off & caused one hell of a scene. Personally? I would have called security over & told them to tell the kids to get lost.
makeupdiva, we were in one of the ports right next to you last week. We were on the Jewel. Was it Cozumel? I think that would have been 4/3? Gee, the days just run in while you are having fun.
I am sorry you hit bumps during your vacation. I will agree with the other poster that I would not go during Spring Break again.
This was the first time DH and I were able to travel alone, we found many many many children and young adults. Although it didn't ruin my trip, obviously leaving my children behind meant I wanted (and needed) some adult time. SB was convenient because the kids would not miss school, but from now on - we will travel at our anniversary in November like we did the first time.
I have enjoyed the smaller ships but I also want to try the Voyager class too. Freedom is not on my list of choices because I guess we got a little turned off when all the sicknesses were occuring....IMO
Hi threetrees....If you are looking to cruise on one of the Voager ships you should consider Adventure of the Seas. The ship was beautiful, the staff was friendly, there wasn't a day that went by were the staff wasn't friendly or helpful. The food was great, and the entertainment, especially the ice-shows were fabulous. I can only say great things about this ship. If you would like to see some photos of this ship and some of the ports let me know and I can email them to you. Happy Crusing!
Sorry to hear about your troubles that you had on the Freedom. I have learned my lesson when it comes to hair braiding. I always get my hair braided in the Caymans. There is a local beauty shop downtown called Annie's. They are very reasonable. It is $25 for a half and $50 for a full head. The people there are terrific. One of the hair braiders from Annie's normally has a stand outside in the outside town market. She charges the same prices and always does an excellent job. While on the Adventure a few years back, we stopped in St. Marteen. A lady approached me on a beach and offered to braid my hair....$2 per braid. I agreed and told her I only wanted a half done. I told her the way I wanted it and she totally did it different. She put 60 small braids in my hair and charged me $120- I was very lucky I had the cash on me. I walked away in tears. I was wondering what was taking her so long...normally in the Caymans it takes 10 minutes for a half-12 braids in total (I get the braided head band look). It took this girl over 2 hrs! She didn't give me a mirror to see it until the end. It was terrible! So I definitely learned a lesson.......I will only get my hair done in the Caymans .......at the good old local beauty shop......where they don't try to rip you off!
We went on our 4th cruise (3rd on RCCL, and 1st with kids) with my twin 4-year-olds on the 3/4 Freedom sailing and couldn't be happier. With the two kids and 3 adults, there were 5 of us. The staff was fabulous across the board. Our children didn't want to go home, and the 12-year olds I saw in the elevators told me they were having a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to booking our next trip sailing in 2009 on the Genesis series.
Makeupdiva: Sorry you had a bad experience. Sometimes the best intentions for a great family vacation don't go as planned. I think you may have experienced a phenomenon I believe has to do with spring break time...school kids getting antsy for summer, parents needing a break and the need for sun from a long winter of gray/wet/cold/snow/fill in your own winter doldrum here.
Yes, FOTS is the biggest ship afloat. That in itself I think may have drawn a lot of young families with its teen-oriented water features. This is its 1st Spring Break season, and that may account for a lot of its popularity.
You mentioned being Diamond+ Members...so you probably have experience on the Radiance-class ships. I would suggest a cruise sans kids to regain what you lost on this last one. Then plan one on a Voyager class ship with kids, but avoid Spring Break. Try summer, in August after the summer rush vacations are past. We had great experiences on Mariner and Navigator, Mariner being the best of the two due to Officers and Staff.
Don't give up, just chalk it up to one of the less rewarding trips. Take care, Steve
I'm Steve Cooper. I love Royal Caribbean, and recently discovered NCL and love them too. I've also cruised Princess and HAL.
NCL Pearl Alaska Glacier Bay
RCI Liberty of the Seas E. Caribbean
Have not been on the top tier (size wise) of the RCI ships. I liked Navigator better than AOS because of the Vintages wine bar, Radiance best of all, and Soverign (before the refurbishing) had the best crew ever. So we shall see about the mega-liners.
Freedom Of The Seas -07
Radiance Of The Seas-07
Adventure Of The Seas-05
Navigator Of The Seas-04
Soverign Of The Seas-02
Big Red Boat-93
I will not pull my daughter out of school during the school year (she misses way too much work & when we went to Disney World in Nov. & pulled her out for a week it made catching up difficult for her & she is a very good student). August is WAY TOO HOT for us - I hate the heat & stay out of the sun (guess that is why people think I am 26 instead of 41 .
As far as stopping the elevator & causing a scene - they didn't hurt anyone - just made taking the elevator less convienant. The point was that RCCL's teen club seemed to be a huge bust - if riding elevators was more fun. I like kids - I wanted to go during spring break - more kids for my own daughter to play with - but RCCL lack of engaging activities & supervision for young teens was disappointing. We LOVE the kids program for my daughter - but this will not be for our family when she is older unless they make some drastic changes in how the entertain/organize/supervise the teen's.
The woman's hair was the same length as my daughters - I am not complaining about the price for braids - I am complaining that the price seemed to be determined by the color of ones skin - not the length of ones hair & that RCCL seems to think they hold no responsibility for what vendors do on their PRIVATE ISLAND.
A dirty ship is a dirty ship - poor service is poor service. We know good service & are experienced cruisers & certainly know when things aren't up to par. Freedom simply wasn't - at least not for us on this particular sailing.