Overall Rating: Fair
|Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
|Departed From:||Port Canaveral|
|# of Nights:||7 Nights|
We began our road trip to port very early on the morning of Dec 28, 2010. We spent the night in Lake City, FL. The next day we drove on to the Holiday Inn Express in the gated Summer Bay Resort near Disney in Clermont, FL. We spent 2 days there visiting with Rita's son and his girlfriend. They live about 5 miles away. The resort was first class and our stay entitled us to all the amenities at the resort.
On New Year Eve we drove to the Solivita retirement community in Poinciana, FL and spent the night with cruise friends (Ellie and Frank) who would be cruising with us. We attended a NYE dinner and street dance with them at the facility.
On New Year afternoon we all drove over to the Radisson Hotel at Cape Canaveral and took advantage of the free cruise parking and shuttle service to the ship. The hotel is showing it's age, however it's still nice. We stayed there a few years ago when we cruised on the Zaandam.
Jan 2, 2011 or cruise day has arrived. We were able to get on the shuttle about 10:30 and 5 minutes later we were at Port Canaveral. We waited in line outside for maybe 15 minutes and then waited approximately 30 minutes after going thru security and cruise check in. Our rooms would not be available until 1:00 so the 4 of us did our usual tour of the ship and found our dining room table at Isaac's, on deck 4 aft. We had our standard buffet lunch at Windjammers, deck 11 and then went to our inside promenade stateroom, which we were pleased with. We liked our window overlooking the promenade and we liked our bed. The overall size was a little smaller than we are used to, however it was livable!
We are cutting this back to a short review since we had more dislikes than likes. We loved the ship, however it just holds to darn many passengers. It was crowded just about every where you went. We were surprised about the embarkation and disembarkation, considering the numbers, they went very well. RCI did a good job in this area. Being at Port Canaveral instead of FLL most certainly helped.
The service on the ship and the food were not good. The worse we've had on 19 previous cruises. We had one bar server tell us we need to add an extra tip to the drinks as the 15% is not enough! If they had to ask for more then they did not deserve more! Our waiter told Rita we could give him cash even if we choose to use the auto tipping. He was the worse waiter we've ever had! The before mentioned Windjammer buffet for breakfast was terrible. One morning I got a piece of bread that was so hard I could carry a cup on coffee on it like a tray. Lunch was a little better, except for the pre-manufactured burgers! They also had a buffet set up in the dining room for breakfast which was a little better. When we ordered off the menu the food came to us cold!
There were good and friendly servers aboard the ship, however with us they seemed to be the exception. The last couple days of the cruise some even brought up the end of cruise survey and how we should note their names and give them a good review. The only ones we praised for excellent service was in the Champaign Bar. We gave the two of them a cash tip on the last night. Our cabin steward, who did a great job for us and who we also gave an extra tip, said if we didn't mention her name she might get in trouble with her supervisor. This seemed odd to us. We blame the bad service on RCI and the management staff on the FOS more than we do their employees. We roll with the flow and still had a great time on this cruise. We realize we are living in an imperfect world.
We did attend one show and it was fantastic. It was a group doing Motown music and we even bought their double CD. We did not attend the comedian's show and we are glad of that. We watched some of his act on the tube and no one was laughing--mainly because he was not funny!
As far as the music on the ship we were disappointed on not having any ballroom music to dance to. We did enjoy Rick and Trish of the Zig-Zag band who played a lot of 50-60 rock. Each night when we entered the Pharaoh's place they would play our favorite waltz and we would dance to it alone on the huge dance floor. It was the only waltz they played. The band is definitely first class! Rick is one of the best electric guitar players we've ever seen.The four of us attended the rock and roll show at Pharaoh's on the last formal night and we were the two couples picked for the twist contest final. Ellie and Frank won. We all received key-chains and bingo T-shirts!? E & F also received genuine plastic gold metals!
We want to think E & F for taking us to Chops to celebrate my (Keith's) birthday. The food there was excellent. It should have been since they charge extra. Are they not intentionally serving below par steaks and other food in the dining room so more will choose to dine at the pay restaurants?
Our ports were Cocoa Cay, which we did not get off since it was to cold to swim; St Thomas, where we went shopping and then for good NY style pizza recommended by Rick of the Zig-Zag band; and St Martin, where we also shopped and make a donation in one of the casinos. One thing we did not like there, which we've never noticed before, is vendors trying to sells their wares when we stopped at an outdoor bar for a drink. We noticed they were also approaching folks at the beach. It reminded us of why we did not like our Mexican Riviera cruise.
One thing we did learn, these large ships are just not our cup of tea. Now we can say we tried one and did not like it. We got off the Freedom of the Seas Sunday about 8:30 AM (our time) and made it home about 11:30 PM. We decided to drive straight thru to out run the ice/snow storm in the south.