Oh cruising with a baby. Are we crazy? No. We had an amazing time on our 7 night adventure to the Western Caribbean aboard Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. An amazing week with my two favorite people in the world – my husband and one year old daughter. Whenever I am researching cruises I look for blog posts and reviews on different websites to help make my decision so I hope that this post helps someone out there who is trying to decide which cruise is the one for them. Our cruise left from Port Canaveral and had 4 stops: Labadee (Haiti), Falmouth (Jamaica), George Town (Grand Cayman) and Cozumel (Mexico). We had a great time and would totally do it again. Yes, even with a 1 year old! But let’s break it down
We booked a guaranteed inside room for this cruise, which basically means you pay the lowest price and they pick the room for you. We got lucky that our room was on the 10th floor. I would highly recommend staying on the 10th floor – it’s the highest floor with staterooms on it which means you feel less rocking of the boat, and are closest to the pool area. If we could have afforded it we would have done one of the suites on this floor. I snuck a peak inside one when I walked past as the maid was cleaning one day and it looked amazing. We debated whether to get a balcony room so that we could sit out there during MG’s naptime and I’m glad we didn’t. She took naps well in her stroller, and we spent very little time in the cabin.
The inside room is small but do-able. With any more than 2 adults and 1 baby it would have been cramped though. Maddie Grace loved the giant mirror above the bed and thought it was hilarious to play with. The bathroom was uncomfortably small, especially the shower. This becomes problematic when you have to bathe your child in it! It was pretty standard as far as cruise bathrooms though. This room would be really great for a couple, or even two friends going on a cruise. The pack n’ play took up a ton of room, but I appreciated that they provided it for us.
This was my favorite part of the cruise. I LOVED the food. Well, most of it. The buffet food at Windjammer was just eh. We never had dinner there but had lunch and breakfast there several times. Some items on the buffet were better than others, but nothing really stood out. For breakfast they had eggs, fruit, pastries, potatoes, etc., and for lunch they had burgers, hot dogs, pasta and sweets. There was also an Asian themed buffet in the same area as Windjammer called Jade but the only thing I tried from it was calamari which was not good.
So now that the not great food is out of the way I can talk about how amazing the food in the main dining room was. I loved being able to order 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 3 desserts. That’s normal right? Almost everything here was really good. We attended dinner every night and did most breakfasts in the main dining room. My favorite meal was definitely the night with lobster tails. I loved that there was always a large variety of dishes – seafood, pasta, steak, etc. There were plenty of vegetarian items and lots of healthy options as well. Our servers here were great and we loved talking to them every night.
There was also a pizza place open late hours that is free on the boat that was pretty good but not great. We loved that the pool had a soft serve ice cream machine too that you could hit up late into the night. The other late night option is room service, which we tried one night but didn’t think was very good so we didn’t do that again.
We did not eat at any specialty dinning restaurants – I didn’t see a reason to when the main dining room food was as good as it was – but we did have lunch at Johnny Rockett’s which was amazing, but pretty much the same food that is served at on land Johnny Rockett’s. I loved that it was only $5.99 a person and all you could eat from their menu. This was a great option for us since I didn’t like the Windjammer buffet food. The boat also has a Ben and Jerry’s and a cute cupcake shop for satisfying your sweet tooth but both cost extra.
Normally it seems like people review the Fitness and Spa together for cruise reviews but I didn’t go to the spa so I can not attest to it, but I was very impressed by the fitness room and fitness options on this cruise. The fitness room is very large, has great equipment, and even better views of the ocean. There are a couple free fitness classes offered, but I didn’t attend any of those and instead chose to pay extra ($12 + gratuity per class) to do a yoga on the beach class in Jamaica and a spin class at sea the last day of the cruise. Both were good classes that I really enjoyed, although not the best fitness classes I’ve ever taken. There were also seminars on health and wellness topics offered.
We are big fans of getting off the boat at ports and exploring the world, and it always amazes me on cruises how many people don’t do this and instead sit on the boat by the bar all day. The ports on this trip are amazing and there is so much to do at each one.
Labadee is an area owned by Royal Caribbean. Despite being in Haiti it is very safe, and an absolutely gorgeous place so make sure you get off the boat here, especially since drinks and food are by Royal Caribbean. For us it was crucial to get a tent to keep Maddie Grace under. At first they told us they were all taken but when we offered a worker $20 he magically found one for us. There are lots of water sports that you can do here and you can pay extra for a waterslide or ziplining. Both seemed expensive (the zipline was over $100) but seemed popular and fun. We chose just to eat, drink, lay out and enjoy the beach here.
Jamaica’s port does not have much so we did an excursion to Red Stripe Beach. If you are adventurous you can just get a taxi from the port to a beach but I was a little nervous of Jamaica so this excursion worked out well for us. It was around $30 a person (baby was free) and the beach was breathtaking – my favorite of the trip. I didn’t actually drink a Red Stripe here but instead paid $5 for a coconut full of rum which was 100% worth it and a great deal compared to drink prices on the boat. Maddie Grace took a nap and Tom went for a swim and I was able to drink my drink and read a book in paradise.
In Grand Cayman we went to the turtle farm and had an amazing time and would recommend this trip for anyone, particularly parents with young children. We had a blast looking at the turtles, holding baby ones and best of all was snorkeling with the giant turtles! Tom and I took turns snorkeling so the other could watch Maddie Grace and it was one of the highlights of the trip. There was also a fun pool with a slide that Maddie Grace loved to swim in since she couldn’t swim in the boat pool. Grand Cayman is very safe and a taxi ride to Seven Mile Beach is easy and the people who went there said it was nice.
Cozumel is another port that is rather safe and that is easy to take a taxi to the beach from. I wish we had done this. Instead we paid a small fortune (aka $90 a person) to go to a beach that promised lots of fun activities, an open bar, and a delicious buffet lunch. Don’t do this excursion. The food was terrible, drinks were yummy but very weak. The beach was covered in icky seaweed and crammed with people. The inflatable wipe out course that you could swim to was fun but I was no good at it and just kept falling off. There was a little water park area for kids that was great and the highlight of the excursion, but not worth the money. We still had a great time, but would have had just as much fun just taking a taxi to the beach.
Freedom of the Seas had a ton of activities going on all the time! Shows, trivia, ice skating (seriously), live music, bingo, liquor tastings, the list goes on and on. It was hard to do too much with Maddie Grace along with us but we were always able to find something to do! One morning we did the character breakfast with her which was a lot of fun, but $10 a person, and you could meet the characters throughout the day every day at different places on the boat. The shows were pretty good but Maddie Grace was never able to make it through a whole show. We especially liked the ice skating show. One of our favorite activities was the poolside movies every night. This seemed to be a hot spot for parents of one year olds.
The pools were also a great source of entertainment. One of the reasons we picked this boat was because it has a baby pool that Maddie Grace could splash in. This was a good thing to consider because Maddie Grace loved it and it was a a lifesaver for those at sea days. Maddie Grace really enjoyed splashing in the water and the flamingo fountain, and always made little friends at the pool. One day when we left her in the nursery Tom and I checked out the big pool. It was okay but very crowded with drunk adults. There was also a golf course (although the wind made it difficult on at sea days) and a surf simulator thing that looked fun.
Another thing that pushed us to choose this boat was that there is a nursery that you can leave your baby in for $6 an hour. The childcare center was clean and the workers were great. I was completely comfortable leaving Maddie Grace there. They also had a toy checkout program where you can check out a bag of toys to take to your stateroom. I can’t talk about the programs for other ages of children but it always looked like the kids in them were having fun.
So there you have it. Probably my longest post ever! The only real downside of our cruise? Some of the other people on the boat. But the ones who weren’t terrible that we met were really really great and we had a blast with – made up for the not so great ones! The best part? Everything! I mean just walking around the boat with these views!
Have you been on a cruise? What did you think? Let me know below!