2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
over all poor rating is due to my not find this ship to be is handicap friendly at all , and is was extremely hazardous . Automated door buttons don’t work , doors don’t open , there was a raised door sill into bathroom what made ... Read More
over all poor rating is due to my not find this ship to be is handicap friendly at all , and is was extremely hazardous . Automated door buttons don’t work , doors don’t open , there was a raised door sill into bathroom what made getting in there on knee scooter difficult , there was no seat in shower despite written request with reservations & request verification before sailing ( service desk said “ yes yes yes “ ) still had to contact housekeeping before one was found & brought to room , large square shower open into room on 2 sides, shower curtain only covers 1 side , so no mater how you work it 1/2 of bathroom drenched. As a right below knee amputee I found the entire ship is a trip hazard, it is covered in multiple floor elevation changes( Lumps Bumps and raised doorways ) with no variation in coloring as warning , my balance & Mobility are decent and yet I stumbled and tripped thought out the ship. people with canes , walkers , wheelchairs required assistants. Boarding the ship at EVERY port was humiliating, the metal hardware in my prosthstitic leg sets off the alarms , I understand the FULL strip & pat down the first couple of times ..... but the same crew , EVERY TIME ? 2 & 3 times a day for all 7 days ? I tried to explain , showed them how it fit , what the parts were ,,,, NO I got more action from the security lady then I did from my husband. Dining room : seating is So Packed & tight there is little room to navigate, constant bump & bang from waitstaff & next table Food so-so , English truffle , advertised as “ sponge cake marinated in sherry” was JELLO , if I wanted jello I would go to buffet. Waitstaff was wonderful, friendly.. to bad food did not love up to the waitstaff THE KEY :CHOPS on embarkation day was wonderful, but that was the only thing about “ THE KEY “ that worked , advanced easy access for boarding was a joke , there was a mass surge of humanity it resembled “ the running of the bulls “ and Handicap, mobility challenged or wheel chair cruisers were trampled , internet sucked , reserved hours for attractions were seldom, only one attraction a day ,always at inconvenient times, who wants to climb rock wall from 9-10 PM. The sit down breakfast was great , disembarkation was a bit smother , with only a couple hundred people standing on the stairs waiting for doors to open at 8am. luggage pick up quick & easy . We did a ships tour after disembarking and we went into San Juan and our luggage went to the airport . Evening movies on big screen were current movies , mission impossible, ant man , crazy Asians .....but they started at 6pm so anyone with early diner reservations only saw the end of them , no blankets, popcorn..... no “ movie under the stars “ Ports were great , did ship excursions in Bonaire & St Martian , (make your reservations online well in advance , most excursions were full at boarding ) there was no consistency with towels for excursions, pick them up on ship , pick them up off ship ...... get yours by the pool and if attendant asks you tell him your going to use them on board 24 hour coffee shop doesn’t start making ( real brewed ) coffee until 6:30 , they did have the strap coffee from buffet available earlier but no special coffees pastries are not made fresh but are frozen , Ice coffee is 2 punches on card , if you have a reusable straw bring it with you as paper ones on board collapse quickly we did not use pools , but there always seemed to be room , always a spot in one of the many hot tubs , children pool was colorful and fun ( very few kids , mostly to young for school ) even watched the scuba diving class one morning in the adult pool. Hubby is a cigar smoker , the smoking area on deck 11 was large , lounge chairs & tables , great ventilation , never smoky or stale , always clean ,covered ash trays emptied often Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our first experience on a RCI Ship, and we chose this cruise both to try the cruise line and because of the itinerary. We have previously cruised on Carnival, Princess and Celebrity. My initial impression was less than ... Read More
This was our first experience on a RCI Ship, and we chose this cruise both to try the cruise line and because of the itinerary. We have previously cruised on Carnival, Princess and Celebrity. My initial impression was less than positive. My daughter had bought us a gift certificate as a Christmas gift, and I activated it online. I didn't receive any confirmation so I called the customer service line to follow up. After waiting on hold for some time, I was told to call back in a week. This happened two more times before I was told to inquire at check-in. I did, and was told I had to check in with the guest relations onboard. Upon checking with guest relations onboard, I was told to check back after five the next day. Get the idea? I was finally able to confirm the next day by checking my online account. Sadly, this type of disorganization continued through the cruise. I found the customer facing staff friendly and wanting to help, but simply not prepared to answer questions consistently. Muster was a hot mess with different staff directing passengers with conflicting instructions. When we showed up for our first dinner in the main dining room, we discovered they had placed my husband and I at different tables (on different floors). Fortunately, they remedied this quickly. The positives: The ship was beautiful and well-laid out. Rooms (we were in a balcony) were comfortable and spacious. Although the ship was an older one, it seemed to be well-maintained. We loved the Royal Promenade. I also really liked the way the main dining room felt cozy, despite accommodating so many passengers. Food was OK - about what you would expect. The entertainment was very good. We liked the ice show. We never visited the spa or the casino. I never saw any sign of a cruise director. Fellow passengers were a very diverse group with lots of families. Way more kids than I'd expect on an early February cruise, but they weren't disruptive. Staff was very safety conscious - life guards everywhere! Our room steward was amazing. Go Frank! Did one ship excursion in Aruba - the Helmet Dive at De Palm Island. One of the best excursions I've ever done! Other Negatives: We did feel "nickel and dimed" at every turn. On other cruises, there has been plentiful drinking water (because why would you want your passengers dehydrated?). Not so on this cruise. The few water stations we found would be empty and had to wait in a long bar line for a water (and sometimes had to buy a bottle of water instead). Initially I was encouraged by the many signs advising that "chair saving" would not be permitted; however, it was not enforced. Never was able to find a convenient deck chair after 10 AM. Overall- we had a great time. It was a caribbean cruise after all! But I did find that it lacked when compared to the similarly priced Carnival Cruises, and I will probably return to Carnival for the same price point. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I traveled with a friend who is a cruise travel agent and a group of about 35 other friends who usually do at least one cruise a year. The agent arranges the cruise, independent excursions and travel to and from the ship. This is the ... Read More
I traveled with a friend who is a cruise travel agent and a group of about 35 other friends who usually do at least one cruise a year. The agent arranges the cruise, independent excursions and travel to and from the ship. This is the first cruise I have done on a larger ship. My other cruises have been on Azamara and Paul Gaugin which are small all inclusive ships. I tried this because the price was good, there were friends to travel with and I was glad to get away from the cold. The size of the ship was overwhelming at first. We had one sea day and it was difficult to find a place at a pool. We preferred the quiet pool but did watch the "belly flop" contest at the main pool. We diined together at the late setting. Some of the food was great, most was ok. Several evenings they had some kind of dining staff program that was disruptive since we were directly under a loud speaker and in an alcove. We could not see what was happening and it was difficult to enjoy our dinner with the commotion. The buffet was very busy for breakfast and lunch, most food was ok and there were a lot of choices. We did breakfast in the dining room several days and enjoyed it. We did one shore excursion on St Kitts that was a tour of the island and a visit to Brimstone Hill. Three other island excursions were private and arranged for our group. Entertainment was ok. I attended several programs and liked the ice show the best. They real emphasize shopping. The majority of the tv channels were about shopping and there were new shopping brochures every day. Service on the whole was great. We never got our room service breakfast the first day but it was ok the rest of the time. Our cabin attendant was great as were our dinner staff. They got an extra tip. I enjoyed the cruise and would cruise Royal again if the right opportunity comes up. I still prefer the smaller all inclusive ships especially Azamara. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
I was last on this ship 10 years prior, so I don't remember a lot of the specifics way back then. But do remember enjoying the ship then and I still do. It's in that nice "not too big, not too small" comfort area I ... Read More
I was last on this ship 10 years prior, so I don't remember a lot of the specifics way back then. But do remember enjoying the ship then and I still do. It's in that nice "not too big, not too small" comfort area I like. But it is showing its wear. I mean if that was my first cruise, I probably wouldn't have noticed, but after a bunch you subconsciously become a bit of a cruise snob. But I'm not going to sweat that stuff, so it's not worth listing. But the ship could use a weekend off (of course, it doesn't work like that) to have a few nuts and bolts cleaned up. But it's still super clean, still has the typical RCI staff and crew that always seem to enjoy every day on the job, and go out of their way to make your day. The food was still good, though there seemed to be less variety in the Windjammer as compared to prior cruises. Our kids loved Adventure Ocean as always. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We were in the 4 bedroom presidential suite doing the south Caribbean the past week. As I am sure there will be reviews on here about the passengers on this cruise, I had no issues and will focus on facts about the line, service and value ... Read More
We were in the 4 bedroom presidential suite doing the south Caribbean the past week. As I am sure there will be reviews on here about the passengers on this cruise, I had no issues and will focus on facts about the line, service and value of RCCL. We were 7 comprising of 2 senior ladies, their sons and wives and on grandchild 9 years of age. My wife and I and child cruise every year and have done simple like carnival victory to NCL Haven. This by a long shot was the worse cruise for value for dollars and service. Embarkment was chaos and no support for 2 members with special needs, even after indicating this at time of booking and every email through the 2 years worth of communication. But local Peurtaricans were given all access... I get it locals looking after their own...just realize when they advertise priority for suites...it does not apply until once through security. On board the ship is old but in fair shape on the service. And got to room with no issues. We get suites for the perks to make travelling easier as we have 2 cardiac 2 anxiety disorder a special needs kid and one mobility issue related to back. In this department there are no real perks minus one. We still got free room service. No dedicated staff for the room. Not even a visit by consierge. We had to go to home during his 3 hour window fos issues which was daily. Our room was not clean and our Stewart made no issue informing us we was just a cleaner. Yet underwear and cups from the previous week guess was under beds all week and only on final night we pointed this out while taking pictures for my blog. To be clear, we had issues from the first day with trying to get the hottub filled, only to have our Stewart forced back to our room to show us how to fill and unfill hottub...all week we did this ourself and also cleaned it ourself as he only cleaned it on last night tip night. Spa. Booked services for mother and her friend which they tried charging her and upselling for a cheaper service even though I had already paid. I have always sent my child and wife for s mani or pedi on formal night sea day in every line without issue. I had called and email management consierge and spa onboard over the year leading up and within the weeks before boarding to ensure my child was good. Emails confirmed service and payment made. Day of treatment was told my kid cant go and no refund was going to be issued, so my wife would need to get a lesser treatment or take another adult. After embarrassing the manager with copies of all emails every received and sent.. mix got a teen nail treatment. No apology from spa of note. Mother bought and paid for photo book. Last day they recharged her account and was trying to force her into more charges until I got involved with Dudley the cousiearge guy. 4 hours later charges were reversed. No apology from photo gu, just Dudley, like it was his fault. Only excursion we booked through ship was a joke. Bonaire highlight and chill beach. Bus went zooming by anything of interest and not spotting and they were booked with other groups. So it was a drive around the island learning about how evil "rich people" were and s drop off to a resort, which was nice btw. Finally we suspected issues with the AC as 2 persons had to use emergancy inhalers daily. One member got angania from air quality in room and coughing and only felt better on the deck or of the ship. We all now have been confirmed with bacterial infections on throats since returning.Thanks Royal. The good was the staff in the dining room. In all our cruises, never have I seen the main floor manager/head waiter at our table every night and helping out. Our staff all got to know us and really made sure we were looked after. So of the best staff ever. The ugly...So Royal has found out z new way to increase profit st the cost of its workforce. We were told by a few crew members that at the end of the cruise their would be a survey sent and if the average scores in their areas were below 75% they dont get paid. Any surveys not done count as well. So those graturities that are suppose to be used to pay staff are now finding their way into corporate hands... I for one will not cruise on Royal again and will be open and honest on all my media forms to offer factual information on this cruise company. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We experienced less staff at dinner than were used to. Dishes were so long after the other. We waited so long for drinks at dinner, I started ordering two drinks at a time. The dining room ran out of my wine too. Breakfast doesn't ... Read More
We experienced less staff at dinner than were used to. Dishes were so long after the other. We waited so long for drinks at dinner, I started ordering two drinks at a time. The dining room ran out of my wine too. Breakfast doesn't start till 7:00 in Windjammer and 8:00 in the formal breakfast area. For us this was too late. I'm up to catch the sunrise every morning when I'm on vacation. I was starving before breakfast actually came. The trick to getting coffee before then is to order it from room service or go to the Promenade and get the free coffee in the espresso place or buy specialty coffee there 24/7. Room attendant was great! Rooms were clean. I told the cruise line i have to eat gluten free. I was not ever told they had gluten free section in the windjammer till second day, because I kept walking around asking if something was gluten free. I got frustrated with the staff not knowing, so they gave me the head waiter to assist me. He then told me about the gf section. There was nice choices there for main cuisine, but hardly any desserts. I mean I didn't just have dental work done, I do not want jello. Oh and bring your own toilet paper from home, there's will tear you up! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose it mainly for the itinerary but also because we have not been on the Freedom Class. You had to look hard to know she was 12-13 years old. Very minor blemishes that I could see. It’s the first time I saw lifeguards and was very ... Read More
We chose it mainly for the itinerary but also because we have not been on the Freedom Class. You had to look hard to know she was 12-13 years old. Very minor blemishes that I could see. It’s the first time I saw lifeguards and was very surprised. All of the food we (4 adults) had was good. Maine lobster tails (no extra cost), what a treat. Windjammer was busy for the most part but we could always find a table. Keep walking as there is plenty of food and seating past the first station. If you sail out of Puerto Rico, be prepared for many from PR. I’m not saying it was bad but they do make announcements in both English and Spanish. We had to balcony cabins, center of hump. Our steward opened the balcony partition on request. Udine was a very sweet and wonderful cabin steward. We have been on the Allure and I did miss deck 8. Next up, Oasis and Symphony, we like mega! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We arrived in San Juan the night before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. This was a great hotel with the location being where cruise ships dock while they are in port. The actual embarkation and disembarkation is ... Read More
We arrived in San Juan the night before the cruise and stayed at the Sheraton in Old San Juan. This was a great hotel with the location being where cruise ships dock while they are in port. The actual embarkation and disembarkation is across the channel though which is about a 15 minute ride from old town. You can pretty much walk from the Sheraton for dining, and any shopping you may need pre cruise. Day 1 - We took a taxi (actually the Taxi driver that picked us up from the airport), he gave us his number to call when we wanted to go to the port. It was $40 from the airport to Sheraton old town, and $40 from Sheraton to the port. They charge a flat fee and $1.00 per suitcase in the taxi. We had 9 Suitcases and their were 4 people. We got to the port about 12:20 and sailed through check in. It was a little confusing regarding which line to get in for checking in your suitcases, but we found our line to drop off luggage. The signs are facing the building, instead of facing the parking lot. These lines are to give the porters your luggage, that you are checking into the ship for delivery. We had 5 suitcases and gave the porter $5.00. There is not an option to turn your luggage into royal Caribbean personnel, as other ports. You have to use their porters. We are diamond members and were in a suite, so our line to check in was not too long. We were on the ship by 1 pm and went to directly to Sorrento's for pizza. We didn't want to fight the crowds in the windjammer with our carry on suitcases. At 1:35, the rooms were ready. After exploring the ship and the muster drill, our suitcases were delivered around 6:00 p.m. The muster drill was at 5:30 and ours was in the "Enchanted Evening room" They crowd way to many people in the area with 100 or so people having to stand on the dance floor area, shoulder to shoulder. It was extremely hot and uncomfortable unless you got to the room very early to get a seat. **Warning** Every announcement on this ship is in English and Spanish. That includes the muster drill, which made it twice as long. It took over 30 minutes to complete the muster drill. The ship is 70% Local passengers. It seems they ran special pricing for them after the hurricane. More on that later. We unpacked and got ready for dinner at 9:00 p.m. The first night dinner is 30 minutes later than normal due to the muster drill. Day 2 - St. Kitts - We had been here many times, so we opted to shop and than a taxi to a local beach. We went to Shipwreck Beach. It is not as congested as the other beaches. They cab costs $4.00 per person and they have a restaurant/bar there and the prices are quite reasonable. $5.00 cocktails. You also do not have to pay for chairs and umbrellas at this beach. The beach right next door, Cockleshell, charges $10 for a chair and umbrella. Day 3 - Antigua- We book the lobster lunch catamaran through Royal Caribbean. We were not impressed with this tour. The crew on the Mystic were rude. About 35 of us were in the front of the boat, and we could not hear the announcements. They dropped us off at a beach, and drove away to anchor off the beach. One of us swam back to the boat and was told they cant swim back to the boat and the crew were very rude. After this beach stop, they cooked the lobsters and we ate on board. When a lady asked about the types of salad dressing they said it was salad dressing. One lady ended up putting ketchup on her salad because nothing was marked. They put the food on your plate as if you are prisoners in line for your food. NO seconds. One lobster (small) per person. It started to rain while we were in line and the food was all wet. The boat is only covered in certain areas. During lunch, they finally let us have rum punch and beer so that helped the mood. We stopped at another beach and drinks before heading back to the ship. Day 4 - St Lucia - We have been there before so we took an excursion with Cosol Tours. Sunny was our driver and he was the best. You leave the port in an air conditioned van for a van / water taxi day trip. We had a light brunch, went to the Mud baths, water falls and a beach. Snorkeling is optional for $10 at the beach. They served rum punch and beer all day. I highly recommend this tour. Day 5 - Barbados - We chose to go to the Boatyard. This is an all inclusive beach that has snorkeling, beach activities, dining, and bar. It costs $5.00 per person to take a taxi there. Its only 1 1/2 miles away. The entry fee is $25.00 per person which includes transportation back to the ship, 1 drink, beach chairs and umbrellas. It also includes a boat ride to two snorkeling spots (a shipwreck and turtles) We did see turtles. This took about 45 minutes. Get there early and sign up for the snorkeling trip as everything is on a first come basis. The place fills up by 12:00 p.m. Food is a bit expensive, but a bucket of beer is $20 for 6 beers. Day 6 - Sea Day. Thank goodness we had reserved beach chairs for suite guests. The pool was so crowded and yes, people hold chairs. Only entertainment at the pool was Belly flop and the Hunt (quest by the pool). Of course they had music. Day 7 - St. Marteen- Again, we had been here before so we took Captain Bob's Snorkling Tour. There were 11 people on a cigarette boat with plenty of room. We went to 3 snorkeling spots and 1 beach (pinel island). Beer, soda and water were served all day and we had sandwiches, chips and an apple for lunch on the boat. I also highly recommend this tour for a full day of fun in the sun. Our cabin was 1874 which used to be a family panoramic ocean view. They have reclassified it to a suite (much to our surprise) and thank goodness they did. We loved the suite perks which allowed us to have breakfast in Chops Grill. You order off a menu. This beats fighting the crowds in the windjammer. Thankfully, with only 1 sea day, we only ate in the windjammer one time. The crowds in windjammer are crazy and finding a table isn't easy. Also Sorrento's Pizza was really good and usually had a long line. The main dining room service and food has really gone downhill. I was also on a panama canal cruise at the beginning of December and noticed how bad the food and choices were. Waiter constantly delivered the wrong food to the people and never knew our names. There was no personal service like it used to be. The entertainment that we saw was good. My complaint was that it catered more to the Spanish speaking passengers. We had to skip dinner one night if we wanted to see the Love and Marriage show and the ice show. These were during our 8:30 dinner time. They did hold a separate game show in Spanish after dinner. We were glad that we saw the ice show on the first night, because the second time they were going to show, it got cancelled due to sound issues. Disembarkation - It was very disorganized. About 8:30, they closed the gangway for an unknown reason which made the lines really long. Again, thank goodness we had the luxury of going through a special line for customs as a suite guests. The other lines would of taken 45 minutes to get through. I have taken other cruises out of Puerto Rico and did not experience so many Locals on the cruise. There were so many children on this cruise. I don't want to sound harsh, but going up and down the halls with boom boxes and dancing outside the rooms while people are sleeping is unacceptable. Loved the ports, but would not sail again out of Puerto Rico. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We selected the Freedom for the itinerary. Perhaps I'd set my hopes a bit too high...there was just no WOW factor. Yes, the ship is in obvious need of a refurbishment. Stained carpets on the 10th floor, ripped chairs in the ... Read More
We selected the Freedom for the itinerary. Perhaps I'd set my hopes a bit too high...there was just no WOW factor. Yes, the ship is in obvious need of a refurbishment. Stained carpets on the 10th floor, ripped chairs in the theater, etc... and, yes, there is/was a smell. There were several reminders in the Cruise Compass asking that passengers be kind to the the delicate plumbing. If you are thinking about the Freedom, go after she's been gussied up a bit. Our cabin, 1544, was great. Our steward, KeneBeath was excellent. The interior of the cabin was neat, well kept, and quite spacious. The balcony had two lounge chairs, two standard chairs and a table. We took our morning coffee on the balcony every day. (the only note is that the room has two outlets only-bring an extension if you can't manage with two) The itinerary-St. Kitts, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Martin. Three new islands for us. We did RCCL excursions on all of the islands, other than St. Martin. Since we'd been there several times, we chose to take the water taxi over to the town and simply walk around, then get back to the ship while most folks were out. The excursions were well done, and our cabin credit paid for them, so no complaints there. We had the first seating in the MDR-on the first night, our table for two was occupied by two people that had Sea Pass cards with our table number, written in black Sharpie, on them. The waiter and dining room manager were too frazzled to address it on the spot, so we were given a different table for two, right smack in front of the doors to the dining room. By the next morning, we had a message that the mix up had been corrected and the Sharpie folks had been given our table for the late seating, not first. Now, on to the food. It was just okay. We dined in the MDR for breakfast and dinner. Nothing stands out as memorable. Both my husband and I would order with high hopes, only to be done after a couple of bites. The onion soup was reliable and sadly, one of the better offerings. The steaks are only offered in medium rare or medium well, the seafood was completely overcooked. You get the point. (the bonus is that this is the first cruise that I didn't gain weight on) Breakfast was nice-although the addition of a mini buffet for breakfast in the dining room seemed to take away some of the decadence of breakfast in the dining room. We did not do any of the pay extra restaurants, although the efforts to sell those experiences seem to be a major push on the entire week long journey. The Chops grill-for instance-offers tater tots and mac and cheese. Really??? Pay more to be offered tater tots as a side? Nope. I'll leave that for someone else. Our dinner staff, Francis, and the assistant, Envera were tops! They offered to bring us different items from the menu, and we did try, but there was just an underlying blah to the food. We went to the Windjammer twice. Typical, cafeteria style food-all under lights and sitting out. The highlight was the 'mango water", which I am pretty sure was Tang or similar. The promenade cafe and the pizza shop were both our go to when needed. The pizza was actually quite good-they go through so much pizza, there's always a hot and fresh one being sliced and served. It's a thin crust style, which was fine with us. The sandwiches and desserts at the cafe were actually good, too. That was our choice for lunch just because of the traffic and poor quality of the windjammer. The entertainment was standard-a welcome show, a comedian, some carnival style acrobats, an ice show, etc. Again, it was okay. There was no problem getting seats for any of the shows. The fitness center was nice. The gym was never overly crowded, and I was able to find machines available to use. The spa was overpriced, so I passed. I did the free tour and decided that it just didn't have enough appeal. On the final night, after the closing show, the ship turned into one giant pajama party. As we exited the theater, we began to notice people walking around in Christmas pajamas, Disney pajamas, and zip-up onesies. At first I thought we'd missed an announcement in the Cruise Compass about a pajama party, so I looked! Nothing there. Not sure exactly how it unfolded, but it there it was-a floating sleep over. Overall, it was nice to be in warm weather, but we left thinking that our cruise style may be a smaller ship rather than one the size of Freedom. Our past cruises have left us with standout menu or entertainment items, and this one just did not. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Third time out of San Juan. Like it because we see new islands. Never been on this ship but have cruised RC 12 other times out of Rome Miami Galveston New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale. Got off to a good start with check in. Room and ... Read More
Third time out of San Juan. Like it because we see new islands. Never been on this ship but have cruised RC 12 other times out of Rome Miami Galveston New Orleans and Fort Lauderdale. Got off to a good start with check in. Room and baggage was timely but diner was a mess. Did My time but seating was disorganize. Many trying to be seated without reservations. New Year’s Eve was worse plus service timing was horribly offand kitchen backed up. It improved as we went thru the week but quality and selection was average at best. Formal night, particularly NYE was laughable. Those of us who chose to dress up found ourselves surrounded by jacket less open collars, some in jeans Entertainment was subpar in most venues. This was a disappointment because we were always told RC went out of their way for high quality shows on New Years cruises What really surprised us with the percentage of Puerto Rican guest, over half. Kinda overwhelmed us. We been out of San Juan many times and other foreign ports but the Freedom did a poor job of balancing the music and activities to everyone. Top desk was a Puerto Rican party with Spanish music most of the time. Cruise director and staff was for the most part mia. Cabin service was good, support staff helpful and rooms well maintained. Saw some great islands but in the end for the cost of a new years cruise and travel it was missing the mark Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
The combination of many small issues made this cruise very disappointing. Below is a summary of those issues. We did like the ports of call and time spend off ship was very enjoyable. Since this cruise was over New Year's it was ... Read More
The combination of many small issues made this cruise very disappointing. Below is a summary of those issues. We did like the ports of call and time spend off ship was very enjoyable. Since this cruise was over New Year's it was very expensive. We splurged for a GS, beverage/internet package and dining package- all not worth the extra money. We did share our thoughts/concerns with RC and they did say sorry and they would share our comments with the ship staff but nothing else. Internet- We purchased a surf and stream package with our beverage package. We could not stream anything all week. We could surf albeit slowly. I mentioned this on board and was told "yes the internet is not good". Guest services would not refund any portion of the package because we had purchased a beverage/internet combo package even though we did not get what we purchased. Beverages- We purchased the beverage package but never got our favorite vacation drink because there was no mint on board. I had to seek out my second favorite drink because only one bar had the mango puree to make it. They eventually ran out of mango too. The bars typically served drinks with flat components. Bartenders could see the beverage was flat when the poured it into the glass but served it anyway. It seemed they did not care. Food- this was the only cruise we have been on where we were served raw meat or a dishes that were not edible because they were way, way over salted. We left food hardly touched on our plates in Sabor and Chops because it tasted spoiled. The servers just ask if they can clear your plates and never asked what was wrong with the food. The chefs apparently do not taste all the dishes they serve. The staff do not care if you are happy with your food or not. Also a welcome food gift was brought to our cabin on the first day and on formal night. The first gift was three cookies and the second gift was three cupcakes. There were four of us in the cabin so someone was left out each time. This is another example of how the staff did not care. Yes it was a suite perk but one that would definitely caused an issue with the person left out. Staff- In general when you said “how you doing to staff” frequent responses were “tired” or “long day” or such. The exception was our cabin steward. It was likely the source of the uncaring vibe of the ship. Suite Perks Main Dining Menu Available for In Suite Dining /Complimentary 24-Hour Room Service- Here is an example how the room service was not well done or even to general expectations. We ordered room service dinner one evening. We called and told room service that we wished to dine in our suite. We ordered two salads and two desserts. The salads were not prepared as described on the menu (missing items, iceberg lettuce substituted for arugula), the salads did not come with the salad dressing described (they were dry), the room service tray did not come with bread, or condiments, or water or anything else you would expect on a room service tray anywhere else. Private Lunch Seating in Specialty Restaurants- On this ship we were told to get our lunch from the buffet and then come to Chops. However, we do not see how this suite perk. Yes technically you are seated in an area other than the buffet but once in Chops the servers that were setting up for dinner service ignored the passengers that were eating lunch. They did not set up the tables. They did not offer water. They did not take used plates away. If we sat outside Chops, the servers would do all these things. So this was actually a downgrade in service. Private Breakfast Seating- If you did not get to Chops by 9:30 am, you were told to help yourself to the buffet and return to Chops to sit. However, just like with lunch service the servers did not set up the tables, offer coffee or other beverages, remove dirty plates or provide any service at all. Again it was actually a downgrade from sitting at the buffet where servers would provide these services. Departure Breakfast- breakfast was at the buffet. No difference for non-suite guests. There was coffee in the suite departure lounge though but hardly a perk. Reserved Section in Theater/Pool- Yes there was reserved seating sections but there was no enforcement of the reserved seats. For example on sea days, people would use the reserved seats for their stuff while their use the hot tubs or pools or other ways of getting around the pool attendant who only checked for gold cards twice a day as far as I could tell. No one checked for gold cards in the theater the times we were there. Suite Party Invitation- this invitation was for a cocktail party. The party was held at 11 am. The concierge asked why we were not going and I mentioned we were not inclined to be drinking at 11 am and we had already eaten breakfast so I did not see the point. It did not occur to them that this was not a good time to have a cocktail party. Suite Lounge/Concierge Club Access (Hors d’oeuvres and Cocktails Each Evening on Itineraries of 5+ Nights) The suite lounge did have nice people working there and I really wanted to like it. But it was a dreary room with no windows and the music played was primarily from one band that me and my family really do not like. Seven days same music same band made us really not want to stay in the lounge. We also did not like that the Cruise Next person was in the lounge every night. If we wanted to book our next cruise we could have went to his office. It just seemed like every night they were trying to sell you your next cruise. Also the concierge made our restaurant reservations by calling the reservation hotline same as we could. There was no additional inventory or priority for suite guests as far as we could tell. The reservation hotline gave her the same dates and times as anyone else who called. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was my seventh cruise, overall, and fourth with RCI. I just don't know what I could complain about. Getting on and off was fast and easy. The ship is beautiful. My eighth floor balcony cabin as spacious and felt like new.....I ... Read More
This was my seventh cruise, overall, and fourth with RCI. I just don't know what I could complain about. Getting on and off was fast and easy. The ship is beautiful. My eighth floor balcony cabin as spacious and felt like new.....I just love balcony cabins.......We ate three nights in the regular restaurant and the other four nights in the specialty restaurants (my time dining) and all were excellent. The entertainment in both the small venues and the large production shows (two ice shows and seven main theater shows) was great. As is always the case on cruise ships, the service was over the top great. The people work so very hard, and always are so pleasant and accommodating. You are not going to get treated better at any five star hotel, While the ship was sold out with over 4500 passengers on board, it never felt crowded. There was always room in the pools and hot tubs, for example. This ship is a city, and like any city, at any time, you can be surrounded by a thousand partying people if you want to, or, you can easily find ten public spots on the ship where you are completely alone. We went on four excursions, and all, like everything else on the ship, were extremely well organized. When I read what some people in other reviews complain about, it just amazes me. I guess some people are just always going to be complainers. Do yourself a favor, ignore them, and go have a great cruise. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Our group of five had a great time on this cruise. It's not high-end luxury, but it was still a great experience, with moments of excellence and not many frustrations. This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, and we were quite ... Read More
Our group of five had a great time on this cruise. It's not high-end luxury, but it was still a great experience, with moments of excellence and not many frustrations. This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, and we were quite impressed by their organization and the quality of the staff. A few thoughts on random things: Embarkation: I'd read a lot about how messy things could be at the San Juan pier. We experienced none of it. We showed up around 12:30 PM (so we could go explore the city before the ship left). Drop-off was speedy, check-in was speedy. It was really, really easy. Food: A little uneven, but quite good overall. The Main Dining Room was generally good. The service was the best part - our waiters and headwaiter indulged every whim. Some of the food was excellent, and some was mediocre. But we always felt taken care of. Windjammer was typical buffet food. We were pleasantly surprised that we could always find a table. The occasional dish was delicious. None of it was bad. Most of it was in between. Tried two specialty restauarants. Chops Grille was fantastic. A truly wonderful dinner. Giovanni's Italian was okay for food, and terrible for service. Sorrento's pizza was fine. Not high quality pizza - but better than chain delivery spots, and come on - it was "free" and available whenever you wanted it. Cafe Promenade had good coffee (free if you didn't need specialty coffee). We never tried Johnny Rockets. The Pool Deck: I have never loved a pool deck on a cruise. Always so crowded, and the pools are too small for all the people. I still didn't love this one. But it was pretty pleasant. At-Sea days were predictably nuts. But by and large, it was a nice place to hang out. The loungers are well maintained. The towel service was really efficient. And the lines at the bars were not outrageous. The Sports Deck and the Gym: A lot of fun to be had here. Mini-golf, rock climbing and the Flow Rider were nice diversions from the norm. The basketball/volleyball court was big, although it was a windy week up there. The gym was excellent. Good equipment, not too crowded and a spectacular view out the windows. Entertainment: Overall, pretty good - with the odd clunker from our family's take. The Arcadia Theatre was a nice place to come to (though note to RCCL - you shouldn't charge for popcorn. You gouge us enough everywhere else). The "in-house" singing and dancing troupe was startlingly good. There were three nights with comics. One was great, one was okay, and one was lame. The various musical acts around the ship were also uneven. The "Caribbean" band by the pool was tight; the Latin band that played in various bars was quite good. The other music was a bit cheesy. The piano lounge singer was...well, let's just say he wasn't our fave. As for other types of entertainment? We went to two skating performances. The Christmas show was lousy, but the regular performance was very good. We ignored the "sexy man" competition by the pool. But as a guilty pleasure, the belly flop competition was a lot of fun. And speaking of guilty pleasure, the take-off on the Newlywed Game was hilarious. Excursions: We did a bit of ship-based stuff, and a bit on our own. In short: Curacao - Arranged our own private tour for the day. It was fantastic. Did the Hato Caves, Shete Boka, Grand Knip beach (completely gorgeous and worth the drive), and hung out at Blue Bay for lazy time and potent, tropical drinks. Aruba - This was our pure beach day. We did Eagle Beach, and it was about as nice as one could hope for. St. Kitts - we did a simple ship excursion, the "Panoramic Drive". It was....the worst thing about this cruise. The tour guide was terrible. And the dozen or so people on the tour were all laughing at how bad an experience it was. We met friends for lunch on the island afterward at Cockleshell Beach, and learned more from our cab driver than we had on the organized tour. St. Thomas: We had booked an underwater scooter tour, which we were so looking forward to. But it was cancelled, presumably because of the windy weather. We grabbed an impromptu tour from a guy on the pier and it was fine. By the way - San Juan itself was incredible for exploring. Highly recommend doing 1-2 days either before or after the cruise. If you don't, you are doing yourself a disservice. FInally, a word on the "vibe" on the ship. The atmosphere was just fine. Lots of different ages. Lots of different cultures. And it felt like it all worked. We observed only a couple of our fellow passengers who were rude to staff or other passengers. For the most part, it just seemed that people were having a good time. Hope this is helpful. I would say that if you have booked Freedom of the Seas, you can feel optimistic that you'll have a good vacation. It's not the newest ship or the biggest or the most glamorous. But for us, the memories of this cruise will be very good, indeed. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
First time in this ship. Overall food was great in the Windjammer and most nights in the dining room. We were a party of 13 with 2 booking last minute. They put us at a table of 11 which was tight. I had gone down to the dining room in ... Read More
First time in this ship. Overall food was great in the Windjammer and most nights in the dining room. We were a party of 13 with 2 booking last minute. They put us at a table of 11 which was tight. I had gone down to the dining room in the afternoon to see about two tables instead. They got a table of two close by but no one called to tell us they couldn’t do anything. We even told the mature d and he never came back to the table after the second night. The people who booked late Even got a note under their door saying not to come to the dining room as there wasn’t room. Someone doesn’t have their act together. Only one towel counter wasopen. There was a long line to return or get towels in the sea day. The sprinkles area for yogurt was in the walking path between the kids pool and the main one. Again only 1 side ever open. Lines were really long. Lines for sorrentos was long. No pizza in the Windjammer. Chair hogs out. Always sat by the kids pool. First island the towels were off the boat. The next time they were on deck 1. Got off mid ship and towels were on deck 2. If you were handicapped you would have to take the elevator back up to two to get towels. To get off they would say go to forward midship. I had to call the operator to find out it was either forward OR midship. Could never understand the person who talked about activities. The elevator buttons didn’t light up in one side but did in the other. Had to call the operatorTo find out where diamond members could disembark on the last day. We wentTo deck 4’and got off. Someone said wait 20 minutes since none of theLuggage was out. CompleteLie. Overall the good outnumbered the things that could be improved. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
*NOTE* This is a long review, but I owe that to the fact of just how bad this cruise was. Sorry for the length. This was our first (and last) Royal cruise. I've cruised about 50 days total on Carnival and Holland America, and ... Read More
*NOTE* This is a long review, but I owe that to the fact of just how bad this cruise was. Sorry for the length. This was our first (and last) Royal cruise. I've cruised about 50 days total on Carnival and Holland America, and despite being just 36 I LOVE Holland. But my brother is a life time Royal user and keeps telling us to take one. So we did. Let me at least get a few positives out of the way. --This cruise had a very nice price point (maybe others don't like the ship and that's why). We LOVE the ABC islands and this was one of the only cruise lines to hit Bonaire that fit into the 7 day time frame. --Our waiters and cabin staff did their best playing with a terrible poker hand so to speak. --Loved the fact we had more time at the ports of call than I've seen in the past. --Most staff treated my 1 year old like a princess. They all loved to interact with her. --The security staff for getting off and on the ship were very friendly. --They let just me buy the soda package (none of us had alcohol the whole trip) as my wife really just liked tea and lemonade. Other ships make the entire room buy a package. ------------- That's about all for the positives. I understand some of these are nit picking, but this list comprises stuff I've never experienced on any other of the prior cruises I've been on. 1) Forced family separation policy: I realize this isn't Royal's responsibility as San Juan uses Allied Security (you'll see them in a lot of malls) However these are the first people you see on your trip and RC should be on top of how inept they are. We have a 1 year old and not shockingly we use a stroller. We finally got through all security to the point you get on an escalator to get on the gangway to board the ship. Except we were stopped with security saying my wife and daughter had to use an elevator even though I was about to carry the stroller up the escalator. As I was about to join them and tell my in-laws who were with us for the trip we'd meet them, the security stopped me and refused to let me go with. When I argued they essentially forced me up the escalator. We got up to the 2nd level and were again stopped by security saying we had to wait for my wife and kid at the elevator. It opens up. No family. Wait 2 minutes, opens, no family. We waited 5 times with no wife and child. At this point, I'm beyond pissed. I'm usually the most peaceful person you find but when you family is missing, I'm done. I told security I'm going back down to find them and they physically restrained me from using the downward escalator. I got through them and halfway down the escalator they hit the emergency stop making me almost fall down half a flight. I finally got down to another security agent in charge for the elevator who told me all passengers go to level THREE. At this juncture I had my wife's phone and electronics so I had no way to call her. Fortunately she's smarter than all of us since after waiting about 20 minutes, she proceeded to the ship where you board and waited there where we found her after about 40 minutes. To say I was pissed would be an understatement. 2) During this whole ordeal I was carrying a 35 pound bag that had my daughters car seat (if we rented cars on an excursion). Upon dropping off our suitcases, RC staff told me I was not allowed to include this with our luggage. In addition, I had RC staff openly arguing with bag handlers right in front of me about where to line up to put luggage, where to put it etc. They had no clue what they were doing. Now being left to carry a bag that looked like a large hiking bag, I was harassed by security the entire time I was boarding. It could not fit through scanners and every checkpoint was met with me being yelled at for bringing such a large bag with me. I had it searched through like I was a potential terrorist on three difference occasions. After I got on the ship, I had red in my eyes and told my family I'd see them in their rooms and went right to guest services. I was basically talked down like a child. I told them I realized security is not RC staff but they're the first experience of our trip and they clearly have no idea what they're doing and brought up why I have a huge bag on my shoulders. All i got were empty promises that the port authority would contact me with apologies which I never received. I'm usually not one that feels entitled to free stuff, but after all of that, I thought the LEAST they could have done was give us a free soda package, or a voucher for Johnny Rockets. SOMETHING to appease a customer being forcibly removed from his family and subsequently lost due to inept security. 2) There was black mold in our shower doors. 3) On Day 2, the entire rear third of the ship (where we had our cabin) smelled of sewage. From Deck 3 all the way to 13, raw poop. Even our cabin staff couldn't tolerate it. 4) On Day 5, we came into our main dining hall filled with thick smoke. It was clear there was a galley fire as dinner took almost 2 1/2 hours to serve when it should usually take one. Why they'd open it up to the point the smoke was causing people to have issues breathing was beyond me. 5) The overall food quality was horribly poor for a cruise ship. I would compare it to probably an Applebees at best in the main dining hall? One night,the only food options were basically three different types of sirloin steak preparations and spaghetti. They only served a chilled soup on one night and it's the first cruise I've been on where you had a deluxe menu where a filet mignon was an extra $20 per night. Even Carnival consistently served that as part of their main menu. On lobster night, most of them were so undercooked they were inedible. I dont like seafood but I could even tell. My entire family had to send them back. 6)Their sit down breakfast options were underwhelming. It was basically food you'd expect from a Denny's (2 eggs and 1 sausage) with a simple Eggs Benedict as the highest end option. That was it. Every other line had stuff like omelettes, fruity pancakes, etc. 7) They had a letter to santa feature at guest services where you could write a letter and it asked for your stateroom so they'd send a response. We never received one. Now for us? My daughter is 1. She doesn't know any better, but that could have made for some awkward moments for any family that had a kid that was ages 2-9. 8) I felt like I was flying on Spriit Airlines the entire trip. I know cruises are out to make money. I'm not dumb. All cruises kill you for the photos. But on Carnival, there themed burger area for Guy Fieri was included. On Royal? They had Johnny Rockets except it was about $15 per person if you wanted to eat there. I felt like all they were tryin to do was nickel and dime you. Room service cost money on Royal. All of their promenade shops beyond water and their crummy pizza joint cost money. The aformentioned main dining hall had add-on cost options etc. 9) The crowd control on this ship was beyond horrid. For example, my previous cruise was on the MS Noordam on Holland, built the same year as the Freedom but had a passenger capacity about 40% of Freedom. However the Noordam had at least 4 if not 6 more elevators. I shouldn't complain as I LOST weight on this cruise from it but I was relegated to carrying my daughter's stroller up the stairs most of the time or have to wait 15 minutes for an elevator that wasn't stuffed to the brim. Additionally, their Lido deck dining crowd control was a joke. Like most ships it has two identical lines. Yet unless it was dinner, they only opened up one side of it...for a ship of 3,600 passengers? It led to chaos every time you were up there. 10) Their activity coordinators were idiots. On sea days I love to be active in team sports. Helps burn off some of the food! So they have stuff like volleyball tournaments. Which is great until you realize they started one about 15 minutes early. Usually you do quick 15 point games and moveon. But this coordinator did a best of 3 set to 25 point match while you had another 20 people show up for it who were all on time. So instead of starting over, she made people bake for about 30 minutes and then made our 2nd group do a best of 3 followed by a final of best of 3 sets. She put it so far behind schedule that another activity person kicked us off because they had to start basketball. So we all invested about 90 minutes of our time and were forced to have our 3rd and final set decided by who scored 3 points first. We won but I felt bad for other people who showed up on time who were left with no team because they capped it at the first 12 who showed up after it started. 11) Their excursion descriptions are bold faced lies. We took a trolley tour for Curacao and it stated we'd get on a trolley off the ship and take a 90 minute tour of the city. Afterward you could either go shopping or the trolley would take you back to the ship. Sounds great considering my mother in law sprained her ankle while touring the San Juan fort before the cruise and had issues walking. 12) Here was the actual "tour". There was no trolley at the ship. We all had to cram ourselves into taxis who took us to a rickety trolley that was actually just a tractor dragging carts around. All we did was stop at some governors house to take selfies and a church where it was done just to have volunteers there begging for donations. But once we got done, they said we could stay in the town or pay our own way to take a taxi back to the ship. So my poor mother in law was left with walking back a mile or paying $20-$30 to take a taxi. Thanks guys. 13) Room service was a joke. It was bad enough you had to pay $7 for food now. They did have a very limited continental food menu. We used it 3 times on the 7 day cruise. The one time, the food never came. After waiting an hour we called and they had sent it to the wrong room. On the final time we used it, the entire order was wrong to the point they probably sent another one of our orders to the wrong room and we got someone elses instead. 14) They had no tact for their more artful music performers. I'm all for karaoke. In fact I love it. But it was very odd to see a pianist performing Chopin with a disco ball over his head and basically colorful strobe lights going off all around him. Same for their acoustic guitar. 15) We essentially were forced to hear a sob story that management likely forces their waiters to do. On the last day, our waiter had to plead for us to take a survey and that if we don't he may lose his job because the only way they're judged is by the email surveys. 16) You had no way to hear messages in your room or on the Verandah. You had to open your door to hear anything which isn't easy to do at all times when you're sitting on your deck and would never know, or have a sleeping child on you etc. etc. We had no way to hear activities and such. It also made the whole go to your lifeboat drill chaos. No one could hear orders. We had some staff person frantically banging on our door 15 minutes before the drill was supposed to start demanding we leave now. 17) Getting off the ship was a mess too. They never announced when your number was up, leading to mass confusion. Because we had early check out, we actually benefited from it. We were #9, but we saw higher numbers leaving and since there was no announcements, we got off the ship even though the marked time on our schedule had us not leaving for another 45 minutes. No staff person cared or even looked at our numbers. I can only imagine the chaos that was going to ensue for those leaving later. What I did perversely enjoy was security leaving again demanded we use the elevator with my daughter and my father in law, who's a pretty intimidating 6'5 physically barged his way through them holding the stroller. We were done. Overall, I don't blame the low level staff. They just follow orders and work their butts off. But the entire experience reeked of senior officers mailing it in and letting the ship experience suffer without a care in the world. We saw the captain chilling in his t-shirt and shorts on almost every port of call which is also something I've never seen before. From what I've been told with some staff I befriended on my first Holland cruise, most staff can only get off once every three or four ports. We did enjoy life OFF the ship but it was a shame that by the time we got back to San Juan we couldn't wait to go home. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Would not recommend taking this cruise unless you can speak and understand Spanish. Found some bartenders that didn’t speak English. The MC of several functions or events only spoke Spanish. People carry their own boom box and played ... Read More
Would not recommend taking this cruise unless you can speak and understand Spanish. Found some bartenders that didn’t speak English. The MC of several functions or events only spoke Spanish. People carry their own boom box and played annoying loud. When you ask a crew member to get it turned down they just stare at you. Beyond that the ports are awesome. The ship was clean and decorated for Christmas. Boarding was smooth. Had a balcony cabin and the cabin steward was the best ever. Took an ATV excursion in Bonaire and it was amazing. Signed up for a special dining package and the food and service was excellent. Attended most of the shows an they were well structured and entertaining. Recommend going to San Juan a day or two early to see old San Juan, it is well worth it. The cruise value was good overall. Just need to consider the language issue. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
There are going to be a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. I wrote this once and I am not going back to re-read and proof. I did that enough in school and since this is not an email for work, deal with it. Let us get a few things out ... Read More
There are going to be a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes. I wrote this once and I am not going back to re-read and proof. I did that enough in school and since this is not an email for work, deal with it. Let us get a few things out of the way first. I am a 27-year-old who traveled with my 26-year-old girlfriend. This was our second ever cruise (we did one two years ago out of the same port, Puerto Rico, and had the times of our lives). We hardly ever go on vacations, let alone full week ones.. guess we don't follow that pesky millennial stereotype. By reading these reviews I think you can see that many skews towards an older demographic. Not saying that is a bad thing, but I would just like to give a different perspective. I think if you read these reviews as a first-time cruiser, you would do anything other than want to go on a RC cruise. Now I get it, the majority of these people writing these reviews are experienced cruisers. 20, 30, 40+ cruises under their belts. Diamond Club members. I can go on and on. Do I think some of their comments have merit? The nickel and diming, somewhat. The food, possibly. The crowds...ok. You have to keep in mind these people are comparing it to a time when cruising was something completely different. Kind of like taking a plane. You got dressed up, you had a fancy mean...essentially coach was like first class. However, things change. Some for the better and some for the worse. And if this demographic thinks they are for the worse, then so be it, They are entitled to their opinion. But here is mine. While I am sure things have changed, I see nothing wrong, and I encourage everyone and anyone to go on a cruise. Because as someone who was DREADING going on his first cruise two years ago, I think back and realize how much of an idiot I was. ...with the said. the cruise. Itinerary: Puerto Rico, Cruising, Curacao, Aruba, Cruising, St. Kitts, St.Thomas We like going out of Puerto Rico due to a majority of things...better ports, warmer weather, and a smaller ship population. We also go in December because of the price, the idea that parents do not want to take their kids out of school for a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and the weather, because why would we want to go on a cruise in the summer when its warm in Maryland where we are from? Now I know there are some negative comments about going out of Puerto Rico. Some about the process of getting on the ship. Some about the port. And other about the locals and having to know Spanish to enjoy the ship. Well here we go... 1. Embarkation - Since this is the only port we have every gone out of I have nothing to really compare. Do I think there could be better processes, sure do. But you also have to remember where you going out of. You cannot compare it to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Second time obviously knowing what we were doing, by the time we got to the port, were through all the obstacles and on the promenade having a coffee in about 25 minutes. The key is to be patient (YOU ARE GOING ON VACATION, BE HAPPY!) and tip. Yes, tip. I know it is annoying. I know if you don't and getting smug look back from the guy handling your 60-pound luggage bag is a pain. But guess what, you paid a grand for this cruise, whats two bucks to help a guy out. 2. The port - Easy. We flew in the night before and stayed at an Embassy Suites by the airport (highly recommend). I use to go to PR in college for our swimming training trip and that is where we stayed. Took a 15 minute uber to the port no problem. 3. The locals - OOOOooooooOOOO. Guess what, the ship goes out of PR, there are going to people who live in PR on the cruise. Where there more on this cruise than the last? Yes. Do I think RC had a promotion that sold discounted rates if the ship was going to be empty? Absolutely. Is there anything wrong with that...hell no. Where there some things that may annoy me? Yes. But that is going to happen at any port you go out of. Again, I am here to say that you are going on vacation. You are there to have fun. The ship is meant to hold X amount of people and to accommodate all people without feeling cramped. And yes, they do speak Spanish on the boat...but they go over everything in both English and Spanish...because, and this is just a hunch... when 60% of the ship speaks Spanish, it probably makes sense to make sure you explain to them in their native language the safety rules. The Ship Beautiful. Our first cruise was on the adventure of the seas. Freedom was slightly bigger. We love everything about it from the promenade to the solarium and back to the sports court. Also, so clean. You would see people night and day. The ship makes you feel like royalty. The Room We originally had an interior room. Now we don't do this because we are cheap...but also aren't rich because if we were I would be booking one of those suites. However, we literally only use the room to sleep, change and shower. Quite literally here is a break down of our day(s) - again I know different strokes for different folks but I wanted to provide a different perspective here: - Wake up 7:30 - Breakfast at 8 -Shore excursion 9-1 - Quick snack/lunch windjammer 1-2 - Pool/Solarium/Hottub/Sports court 2-6 -Back in the room to shower change 6-6:30 - Vintages wine bar 630-730 - Dinner 730-9 - Show/casino/karaoke/bar/nightclub/etc 9-1 BUT on this cruise we were able to upgrade to an ocean view balcony for an extra 200. And the best part, this balcony was on the backside (floor 6) of the ship. So we didn't have people staring in on us on the sides. Best room on the entire ship. Highly recommend. Our room steward was AMAZING - I think everyone has come to know this. These are the hardest working guys on the ship. The Entertainment & Activities The shows compared to Adventure were outstanding. And this is not to say Adventure was bad. It just speaks to how great Freedom's entertainers were. Comedians, 2 Broadway acts, a Cirque du Soleil act, a variety show (stealing from their website because it explains it better...The Great DuBois' is a fast-paced, all ages, variety show showcasing incredible feats of juggling, hula hoops, unicycle, aerial, circus stunts, contortion, magic, and audience interaction all wrapped in a blanket of comedy. ), and acapella group and of course all the standard ship shows. Activities, well the flow rider, rock wall, mini-golf, free gambling lessons were all great. We did a free message seminar. Participated in a mini golf and dodgeball tournament. Honestly, even on Freedom, there is never enough time of the day. Food and Beverage ....dom dom dom....It's great. Again I am sure it could have been better years ago. But by reading other reviews you would think they are serving you cereal and toast all day. Is the windjammer crowded in the morning, yes? It is. But can you find a seat? Yes, yes you can. Do you maybe have to wait an extra 30 seconds for a piece of bacon...unfortunately you do. But I think we can all live. Never had an issue with the food being cold or sparse. The crew kills themselves to make sure the stations are are same no matter the time. We ate in the MDR every night for dinner and it is wonderful. Our server was great. The food was fantastic. And we are by no means simpletons. Maybe it was because both me and my girlfriend have worked in the food industry. Maybe it is because we understand how many people are getting served and feed in X amount of time. But trust me, you will survive and you will leave with a full tummy. We ate at Sabor for lunch on our first sea day. We did the guacamole and margarita class. SO WORTH IT. If you are unsure of eating in a specialty restaurant, then do this class. For ~30ish dollars you get lunch (anything you want - and it's unlimited - on the menu. Appetizers, in addition to the guac, tacos, quesadillas, sides (beans, street corn etc, and a dessert platter). Oh did I mention unlimited margaritas...which will make you want nothing else the entire cruise. In addition, we had the pizza and normal affair on the promenade. Sure the pizza line was long...but after an excruciating five-minute wait, you had unlimited pizza at your fingertips. We did the drink package, which is 100% worth it. Coffee was great. Water was cold. And the bar drinks were well made. Nothing watered down. Always great service. And had some of the best wine of my life on the trip. Excursions We did all our excursions through the ship. I think this is one area where having become more familiar with ports, we will probably venture out on own in the future. Don't get me wrong, we didn't have bad experiences, we just want to have better flexibility with time as well as maybe pay a little less. We always get off at the port and try to experience a new country. We really do not do anything extravagant. We just like to go to the beach so those are the excursion we tend to choose. Curacao - Went to blue bay beach. Beautiful. I would say take a cab and avoid the excursions. Location is safe and well worth venturing too. Aruba - Probably our least favorite port, which was a surprise. Maybe because we had such high expectations? While the north shore is completely un-inhabited to keep the natural beauty, we felt it was still commercialized with the various tour groups. We went to Palm Beach and Eagle Beach and these were just very crowded due to the hotels. St. Kitts - Funny. This was the port we were least excited to visit because, on our last cruise, this was our least favorite island (and the only one we were revisiting). So we decided to do a catamaran to Nevis. Completely worth it. Took a catamaran right from the port over to Nevis and had unlimited beverage, our own beach, and a great lunch. The highlight of the trip. St. Thomas - This was my girlfriends favorite part of the trip. We took a catamaran to buck island to snorkel in two spots. Service Not even a question. 10/10. Everyone from our room attendant. bartenders, servers, etc. Were all fantastic. I never fill out survey's but whenever RC sends me it after the cruise I do it immediately because these people work their tails off and definitely make the cruise experience what it is. Con's - They seemed in some areas of the ship to be confused with some reservations we had. I think it has to do with us changing room two days before and not everything in the system updated. But we survived. All we had to do was explain the situation and everything got resolved. - They do try to upsell the dining and drink packages. More so than what I remember on the Adventure. Is it annoying...meh? All you have to do is politely say no thank you and move on with your day. Trust me, you will survive someone asking you to save money on drinks and offering you an opportunity to eat at a fabulous restaurant. So there it is. That's all I got. Hopefully, I provided a different perspective on RC cruises. We have always had a fabulous time. Maybe we, 20-something's who are not on their honeymoon and just on for vacation, are the minority. But everyone we came across seemed to be having a great time. And we for sure did. Can't wait for our next cruise on Oasis of the Seas in Dec. 2019! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2018
I have been on the Freedom of the Seas many times and was one of my favorites until now. I have always loved cruising the Southern Caribbean, so when I saw my favorite ship and a Southern Caribbean cruise, it was time to book. I guess ... Read More
I have been on the Freedom of the Seas many times and was one of my favorites until now. I have always loved cruising the Southern Caribbean, so when I saw my favorite ship and a Southern Caribbean cruise, it was time to book. I guess the 1st thing I noticed was the lack of service from the porters at the terminal. I was almost wondering if I needed to place my luggage on the rack for them. In Ft Lauderdale, Miami and Port Canaveral all are helpful with bags and answering questions you may have. San Juan obviously doesn't have that work ethic. The checking after I got into the terminal was quick and friendly. There was no issues all the way to the ship. I made my way to the windjammer and to grab a meal for lunch. The lunch was typical food for the windjammer, nothing to write home about. The rooms were ready so I headed to my balcony. My room was very neat and clean. The room attendant was very nice and what I enjoy about most cruises on Royal Caribbean. A friendly conversation and a funny jokes always put a smile on both are faces. The concierge lounge was very nice and not crowded at all. The concierge was always pleasant and helped me with a few request I had. Now Come the things that have turned me sour on this ship. It started as a mior irritation and slowly built up to a point where I was not enjoying my cruise at all. The bulk of the ships passengers were local and I guess no of the children were going to shool because it appeared that 1/3 of the passengers were children.I din't think school was out so either there was a holiday I didn't know about or the parents don't mind yanking their children out of school. at least 1/2 of the children were unruly and running all over the place. I was in the windjammer for breakfast when the ship was dock and the kids were all piled up against the windows disturbing the passengers that were eating next to the window, so there were kids bumping into their table. I could see their disgust from the uncontroled children. Then the same large families holding up the elevators because they wanted to talk to someone for another 30 seconds after part of their group got off. They also held the elevator as their other family member that were somewhere down the hall slowly walked to get on. Sorrentos pizza was a disaster to get something to eat because the same people would take all the pizza. If you don't speak Spanish, I would not put any of the San Juan Cruises on your list, I can already tell that this may be a bad decision for Royal Caribbean. You just have to do a search of Caribbean cruises and San Juan cruises are some of the cheapest. I had already booked another cruise in January before I went on this one. Had I known what many of the the other reviews have echoed, I would not have booked this cruise ship again. Take my advice and select a cruise out of Miami, Ft Lauderdale, or Port Canaveral before considering San Juan. Freedom was a great ship in 2017 but until it leaves San Juan, I will not consider it again Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We are 2 sisters with husbands in tow, all of us mid 50's, from the "mainland" US. We booked this cruise because we had previously been on the Independence and Liberty (sister ships to Freedom), the deal for balcony rooms ... Read More
We are 2 sisters with husbands in tow, all of us mid 50's, from the "mainland" US. We booked this cruise because we had previously been on the Independence and Liberty (sister ships to Freedom), the deal for balcony rooms was fantastic, we had never been to the southern Caribbean, and it was our anniversary. Dicken's may have said it before me, but it was indeed "the best of times and the worst of times". We flew into San Juan from Orlando the morning of the cruise and everything went picture perfect. We splurged on a private SUV transfer to the cruiseport (Elegant Steering) and were dropped off steps from the doors to the terminal. However, people from the previous cruise were departing at the same time and made it a little difficult to figure out where to go. The pillars are marked with your floor#, but on the opposite side so we did not see the signs but were directed by kind porters. Tip them a few $ per bag to handle them. The line at that time (about 12 pm) wasn't too long and we got our seapass cards and were on board with a drink in hand at the Schooner bar by 12:30. Since we saved on the trip cost, we splurged on the all-inclusive drink package. Best decision of the trip! More on beverages later. First we checked our dining arrangements to make sure we were seated together and not near the kitchen door, had a bite to eat at Windjammer (nearly impossible to find a free table, already! May be because the locals [from Puerto Rico] come early and get on right away and head there. More on this later too.), and finished just in time for the doors to the rooms to open. This was the first glitch. They never should have opened those doors. Our room had not been readied yet, not bags delivered, and frantic maids and stateroom attendants dealing with upset passengers while trying to do their jobs. So we turned around, got out and found another bar! Things were set right by 2:30 when we returned to the room. Luggage was there except for 1 bag that never got delivered but we happened to see stuck in a little maintenance room we passed. Weird. We unpacked and had a little time to kill before mandatory muster drill. So, of course, we had a cocktail! Muster was at 5:30 I think (which we thought was strange since early dinner seating was at 6) and it was disorganized and hot as we jam packed with other sweaty bodies on the decks outside. Don't try to skip this - they hold everybody up there until they account for all passengers. After we headed to dinner but had to wait while they reset the tables (apparently the DR was used to muster people as well). We met our lackluster waiter who was very dry and hard to hear. He pretty much did the bare minimum to get us in and out. Our assistant waiter actually worked his tail off and although hard to understand, we got along great. The big surprise on this cruise was that the head waiter (boss of the dining room) actually appeared at our table, every night, making the rounds and personally asking about the service. He addressed every one of our issues and the day after I mentioned to him that I missed having cold fruit soup on the menu every night, it magically appeared the next night! Coincidence? His name was AJ and I think he most likely will be promoted to a bigger better ship before long! We did the shows, which were pretty good, and exceptional juggling act, the quest, etc. Decent entertainment. We tended to favor the Irish pub since it was mostly deserted on this cruise and had an awesome acoustic guitar player (I think his name was Adam Coe?) The reason it was mostly empty is because the cruise was almost 3/4 Puerto Rican. So the other entertainment, karaoke, pool music, etc. was heavily Puerto Rican. I don't blame RC for catering to the home port locals, but I wish it would have been stated somewhere before we booked, and we would have gave a little more thought. PRs tend to be a more lively, loud, energetic, loud bunch, and it was overwhelming for us. They seemed to look down on us, like we were invading their ship. OK, rant over. Our balcony room was 9th floor midship and was perfect for us. My sister had the one next door and we opened the balcony dividers between us and enjoyed a glass of wine before dinner out on the balcony. The room was smallish and the bathroom the typical coffin size, but for a week it was fine. We hit up most of the bars and found the Bloody Mary's to be better than expected, and most of the drinks good although the fruity frozen one's tended to be just OK which was disappointing. We didn't feel like they watered anything down but the drink of the day usually left us scratching our heads. Every bartender was friendly and although service was slow at times, we had no complaints. We never felt that we needed to tip for good service, but toward the end of the cruise we rewarded a few that went the extra mile. The package included "fancy" coffee drinks but the coffee was not that great to begin with (although to be fair, I am that person that usually likes my sugar and cream with a splash of coffee added). My sister got the frozen frosty ice cream drink and said it was great, but the lattes and cappuccinos were not. Even adding the provided liquors did not measurably help. Next rant: The push for the specialty restaurants. It is a real thing. Nearly constant the first 2 days. Very annoying. It would almost be forgivable if the food were better than what was served in the main dining room. IT IS NOT!! We fondly remembered eating at Chops on our last 2 cruises so we booked with the first annoying salesperson the first night. She kept trying to get us to buy the 3 night package. Ugh! Anyway, we looked forward to it being stellar as usual. This was a HUGE waste of money and big disappointment!!! There were no assistant waiters, no drink staff. The one harried, overworked, sweaty waiter had to do it all. We waited almost 20 minutes for a drink order, which was coming from the bar right outside the restaurant! We could have physically got it ourselves faster! No attention to detail, and most of the offerings were THE SAME AS THE MAIN DINING ROOM!! Not kidding! The filet was fantastic, when it finally arrived, but no music, frantic scurrying waiters, and it was about 85 degrees in there as the open kitchen pumped heat into the room. Advice: check the menu before and if it looks a lot like the dining room one...skip it and order your filet from the dining room for less. Shame on you RC for fleecing your guests like that. Disembarkation was a little disorganized as they let small groups down the gangway and held everyone back on the warm ship (doors open). Something to note: after you get off the ship, find your suitcases and head for the customs line (which can be LONG) you can pay a porter to carry your cases for you (I think it was $5 a person) and we skipped the long line and were through customs and outside in a matter of minutes. Quick note about excursions: We did not book with RC but went with self tour or outside tour groups. We were robbed in Curacao when our unattended tour bus was broken into while we were snorkeling. Our credit card was stolen (RC main desk on the ship was very helpful allowing a phone call to cancel it) and iPhones were taken. High crime in Curacao so keep your important stuff ON your person (purchase little waterproof cases you can attach to yourself). Probably good advice for anywhere you go. I would not take this cruise out of San Juan again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose Thanksgiving week because my DH and SIL’s DH have very busy schedules and there wasn’t much going on due to the holiday. Our balcony cabin 8356 was very nice. Good closet space. Dining room food and staff was great too. ... Read More
We chose Thanksgiving week because my DH and SIL’s DH have very busy schedules and there wasn’t much going on due to the holiday. Our balcony cabin 8356 was very nice. Good closet space. Dining room food and staff was great too. Marian and Ya were wonderful. The 3 shows we saw were very good. Unfortunately too many of the other passengers were rude, loud and inconsiderate. People screaming all the time and running you down. Literally! Even in the elevators. Playing loud music on the balconies and even by the pool with the ships music and live bands. This was our 2nd cruise out of San Juan and the first one on Jewel of the Seas was polar opposite of this one as far as clientele and overall relaxed feeling of the ship. We will likely not go in another from San Juan. It’s too bad because the uteneraries are great. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We choose this cruise for the ports, as we have never sailed the southern Caribbean, and this was our honeymoon. We have sailed with Royal in the past, we got married on Harmony of the seas, and we have sailed with Anthem, and Explorer of ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the ports, as we have never sailed the southern Caribbean, and this was our honeymoon. We have sailed with Royal in the past, we got married on Harmony of the seas, and we have sailed with Anthem, and Explorer of the seas. We have also sailed Celebrity, and Disney. We have always had a splendid time on Royal thus far, and have sailed out of New Jersey, and Florida where embarkation is a breeze, and the terminals are immaculate. However, upon our arrival we were not surprised at how small this port is, but rather how the staff at the port treated the guests. We first got dropped off at the wrong terminal, and when asking a staff member, he just looked at us and pointed towards the other terminal.We walked through hoards of people to get to where we needed to be. Once at the correct terminal, we asked one of the gentleman with a "porter" t shirt on where we could put our luggage. Now, I may be spoiled as I have only sailed out of New Jersey, and Florida, but when you are sailing out of those places the porter takes your bag, places it in the appropriate place, and you are free to go on your merry way into the terminal. This was not like that at all. It was busy, rushed, hot, and the porter told us we had to walk all of our luggage to a spot that was not clearly marked at all. He said "over there, by orange poles." The different locations for certain areas of the ship weren't clearly marked at all, and trying to lug our bags clear to the other end of the terminal was frustrating. We asked several people who were wearing the port t-shirts if they would take our bag, and they looked at us as if we were bothering them. We continued on....We finally reached the spot our luggage was to be placed at, and there were about 8 grown men standing around one tiny desk having a grand ol time talking amongst themselves while a few guests were waiting to be waited on. they finally turn around take the bags from all of us place it on the cart directly behind them, and then say " we accept tips." I was DUMBFOUNDED!!! What am I supposed to tip you for? you did absolutely nothing for us at all except place our luggage on the cart. I couldve done that, since I have already done the whole job of lugging my luggage the entirety of the terminal. We tipped them none the less, because we didnt want to get to our room later that night and find that our luggage had mysteriously disappeared. After that, we got into the terminal, and it was pretty smooth sailing from there on out, except the fact that we quickly found out we were in the minority this sailing. Which whatever, that's fine, but I found a lot of the other passengers to be rude, pushy, and loud. A few times when we were in line for pizza at Sorrento's, or in line for a show, some of the guests would be in line, and then let a few dozen family members in line ahead of us. That was just plain rude, and inconsiderate. The Quest show was a MESS!!! we usually LOVE the Quest show, and usually have a really good time, however the night of the game show people were bringing in small children to watch and hang out. We were informed that day in English, and in Spanish that this was an ADULTS only show, but here we were women pushing crew members out of the way to get to the show with their small children. I just don't understand, I think that there should have been some sort of security at the door letting people in, and turning away guests with small children. Another thing we were somewhat upset about was the fact that the Love and marriage game show was only shown in Spanish. I get that the majority of the passengers were Hispanic, but it would have been nice to have that show in English as well as we really love to watch it. Good things to note, the ports were AMAZING!! we visited Curacao, Aruba, Antigua (supposed to be Bonaire, but was canceled three weeks out.) And St. Maarten. There were so many lovely crew members that we met especially our room attendant Orhiannah who was so sweet, and made us feel really at home on the cruise. We also met a sweet woman in the gift shop, who we made friends with and she sent us a sweet card congratulating us on our marriage. Then we had a cruise long friend in one of the art dealers Garneth, who we would talk to on a nightly basis. He was awesome, we would talk, and talk, and talk, and he just made our night every time we spoke to him. It was like seeing a friend you hadnt seen in a while and catching up. We really enjoyed his company. MDR food was FANTASTIC every meal we had in there was always very delicious. We ate in Chops and as always it was superb. We also dined in Giovanni's, but it was just ok, the desserts were the best though. The next cruise manager was not helpful at all, she acted like she couldn't be bothered with us, and also the loyalty desk manager was the same way. I don't know what their issues were, but we just felt like they could care less about us. over all it was a good cruise, we enjoyed the crew members listed above, and the food, but I dont think we will sail royal out of San Juan again unless its an amazing deal. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Freedom of the Seas review Mediocre Experience – Won’t be cruising RCCL again anytime soon (after 9 cruises, 3 with RCCL). We were on the same ship July 2009 – what a fabulous experience!! Delicious food, fantastic service, ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas review Mediocre Experience – Won’t be cruising RCCL again anytime soon (after 9 cruises, 3 with RCCL). We were on the same ship July 2009 – what a fabulous experience!! Delicious food, fantastic service, outstanding entertainment, fun activities. There were 10 in our group, and a good time was had by all. This time, it was the exact opposite experience. While there were a few things that were excellent (details below), overall we were very disappointed. EMBARKATION: Quick and easy. Arrived at the terminal at 12:30; on board in less than 10 min. Hint: use Uber in San Juan; ¼ the price of taxi’s. Yes, they can go to the cruise piers. DEBARKATION: What a mess! No organization whatsoever. We did self-assist (carried all of our bags); had no idea where to go when we walked off the ship – bizarre twisting long lines of people in the middle of the terminal; staff yelling at you to get in line, but no clear lines marked. Exact opposite of embarkation. 30 min from walking off ship to getting into a taxi. TAXI TO/FROM SAN JUAN AIRPORT: Getting a taxi was a fantastic experience!! Run by PR authorities. Quick, simple, they tell you exactly how much $$ to your destination before you get into taxi, and hand you a piece of paper with fare written down! I travel extensively around the USA and Europe, and this is RARELY seen. Love it; wish more cities did this. ROOM: Balcony. Fine. Clean. Bathroom showing age (mirror glazing chipped off in several places). Had room in center of “the hump” (aft, port side, room 8638); it is a COMPLETE myth that these cabins have a larger room or larger balcony – NOT TRUE. Never met our cabin attendant (in 8 previous cruises, we met the cabin attendance the first 5 min we were in the room!); he kept our room clean, but I have zero idea what he looked like. I do not understand the complaints about soft beds – our bed was very sturdy – certainly not soft or hard – somewhere in the middle. When we got back home, we realized our brand new Tempurpedic extra firm mattress was 10x harder than our bed on Freedom. DINING: 1. Main dining room: mediocre food. Service was OK (Diana was smiling and friendly, but we rarely saw her after we ordered; saw the maitre’d more times than we saw our server). I love food – all food! – but everything we had in the main dining room (breakfast & dinner) was just so-so. If I had been served ANY of Freedom’s food at a restaurant in my local city, I would never return to that restaurant – it was that bad/bland/mediocre. My husband (who will eat ANYTHING and never complains) felt the same way, as did the couple that went with us, and two other couples we shared a table with – none of us were happy with any of the food (appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and desserts). Every night, one of the couples at our table demanded a different entrée after taking a bite of what they ordered – it was THAT bad. RCCL no longer has themed nights in the Main Dining Room (remember Italian night, French night Caribbean night, etc?). While the menu changes only slightly each night (only two new items on the menu each night), everything else is the same EVERY NIGHT. UGH! And lobster night – that is now a joke: it was the next-to-last night; my lobster tail was less than 3 oz (I got 3 tiny bites out of it); if you want a second lobster tail, it will cost you $29.95(!) (remember the days when they brought around extra lobster tails and practically threw them at you – those days are GONE, my friends). None of the desserts were worth the calories – and this is coming from someone with a serious sweet tooth; I took 1 bite of my dessert each night, then pushed it away. 2. Windjammer buffet: 98% of the food was mediocre. What did they do right? Super crisp bacon on the breakfast buffet, and the best fried chicken I’ve ever had (this, coming from a properly raised Southern woman), served at lunch on a sea day. 3. Chops Grill: We ate here the first night, and the last night. Everything the first night was excellent – all of the food (except the desserts) and the service. The steaks and salmon were cooked to perfection (nice crisp seared exterior, and the perfect medium-rare interior). All of the sides were excellent (asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes). The desserts were disappointing – the key lime meringue pie was bitter (this is what happens when bottled lime juice is used, as opposed to freshly squeezed limes), and the red velvet cake was bone-dry (i.e., overbaked). The last night, everything (except the steak, which was again cooked to perfection) was dreadful. The salmon was overcooked, dry and no seared crust; the lobster bisque was burnt; the crab cakes were made with the fake “sea legs” (RCCL – SERIOUSLY?!? I would expect this crap from my local Red Lobster, not a specialty dining venue that cost me $35 pp); the asparagus was undercooked; the truffled French fries had zero truffles on them; the red velvet cake was still bone-dry (I have no idea why my friends insisted on having it again, after complaining about it all week); and the chocolate lava cake was overbaked (hence, no lava). Just awful! If we had been served the last night’s meal on the first night, we would not have returned. 4. Giovanni’s Table: Hit and (mostly) miss. I’ve spent the last 10 years travelling through Italy extensively, so I know how real Italian food should taste. Terrible service – sat at our table for 20 min before the waiter arrived (and we were there at 6:30 when they opened; so they can’t use “we were busy” as an excuse). The Spaghetti Bolognese was outstanding – the best I’ve ever had; I’d kill for their recipe (it was THAT good). The Linguini Carbonara was a joke – almost no sauce (bone-dry) and maybe a ½ piece of bacon in the entire bowl. The Gorgonzola Gnocchi had maybe a teaspoon of gorgonzola cheese in the sauce – so it was very bland. Thank goodness the Tiramisu was excellent! However, the dark chocolate cake had zero flavour (just enough cocoa powder added to give it a dark color, but not enough to give it even a hint of chocolate flavour) and was bone-dry (i.e., yet another piece of cake that was overbaked). My husband took the All Access tour. During the tour, the group went through the Galley and was told that all RCCL cooks (I don’t dare call them chefs because that would most definitely be an insult to chefs everywhere) must have at least 3-years experience at a 5-star restaurant before being considered for a job with RCCL. HAHAHAHAHA – what a joke. That is either a whopper of a lie told by the RCCL staffer giving the tour, or being a dish washer qualifies as the “3-years experience at a 5-star restaurant” … RCCL food does NOT – I repeat, NOT – reflect anything resembling 5-star cuisine. 5. Room Service: we absolutely REFUSE to pay the $7.95 room service fee (the only exclusion is coffee and/or continental breakfast), so we ordered coffee and steamed milk to be delivered to our room every morning; we enjoyed the coffee on our balcony; then went down to the main dining room for breakfast (Windjammer is INSANE for breakfast). One morning, the coffee wasn’t delivered; when we left to head out for breakfast, the room service order form was still handing on our door – no excuse for Room Service not getting it – the deadline is 2am and we put the form out at 10:15pm. What I REALLY didn’t appreciate about Room Service? The attendant who brought our coffee (someone different each morning) would linger in the room for an extra 15-20 secs, like they were waiting for me to hand them a tip – sorry, RCCL now forces me to pay a gratuity per day – get your tip from them!!!!! There is no Izumi on board the Freedom (yet it is listed on the ship’s web site). There is no Starbucks on board the Freedom (again, as listed on the web site). No problem – this saved me at least $40 over the week. ENTERTAINMENT: Mostly Good. We’re the type of nerds that enjoy the trivia games; 3-4 of those each day. There was an ‘action comedian’ in the main theatre one night – we went with the expectation that it would be a cheesy act, but big surprise – he was HILARIOUS and very good at what he does. RCCL now shows movies around the pool at night; decent selection, and great weather for doing this. ‘Game shows’ (Love & Marriage, Finish The Lyrics, Lip Sync Battle, etc) were lots of fun. The big disappointment – anything involving the Royal Caribbean dancers, singers and ‘orchestra’; the two female lead singers were constantly trying to out-sing one another, but in the process they only embarrassed themselves by sounding cheesy and pitchy. The first night’s show was a Broadway revue – so-so; the last night’s “Once Upon A Time” show was so awful, we walked out after the first song (we just couldn’t take the screeching of the singing voices). Basically, it was like watching a re-run of “The Solid Gold Dancers” (if you’re old enough to get this reference, you now understand just how bad it really was). Back in 2009, everything that went on in the Arcadia Theater was outstanding … once again, RCCL disappoints. SHORE EXCURSIONS: As always, the ship charges way too much and you get way too little. On Curacao, we walked around a bit (sorry, but all Caribbean islands look the same; we naively hoped the Southern Caribbean would be different), and then decided to hire a local driver for a 2-hour island tour - $20pp. He did a great job. One of our stops (for about 10 min) was Cabana Beach … trust me – if you’re reading this review, and one of your stops is Curacoa, skip everything else on the island and have a taxi take you directly to Cabana Beach – it is so beautiful. Cost $3.50 pp to get on the beach; there are many, many thatched umbrellas and chairs, warm water, soft sand, and several bars and restaurants. If we had seen Cabana Beach at 9am, rather than 2:30pm – we would have stayed all day. On Aruba, the men booked the JetLev excursion for the morning. Look it up on YouTube. They really enjoyed it, although both agreed the $189 price tag was too steep for a 15 min session. This took place on Palm Beach. I read so many great things about Palm Beach before we left, but was underwhelmed when we got there; it’s about a 3-mile stretch of nothing but one hotel chain after another. Looks just like any other beach strip in the USA (Virginia Beach, Miami, Ocean City) – meh! In the afternoon, we did the undersea submarine; it was OK, but certainly not worth $66pp. On St Kitts, I booked a private 4-hour full island tour with Beulah, who owns Welcome Tours (you can find her on TripAdvisor and at tourstkittsandnevis.com). She was delightful to deal with via e-mail, and even more delightful in person. She met us when we got off the ship, turned us over to one of her drivers (Moschina) and we had a FANTASTIC day. It was the four in our group, plus another couple from another ship. We were having so much fun, the tour ended up being nearly 6 hours, yet we were only charged the originally agreed amount of $46pp. Beulah, Moschina and Welcome Tours is highly recommended. On St Thomas, we booked the shore excursion through the ship to go snorkelling on St John’s (this was our 4th time on St Thomas). The $44pp was actually worth it – nice boat ride to St John’s, snorkel equipment included, a bus driver who gave us a mini-tour on the way to our beach (even letting us get out and take photos along the way); it was so nice to get way from the hordes of rude passengers on the ship. We had about 2 ½ hours at the beach – perfect amount of time for us. Passengers: Unfortunately, RCCL is now catering to the lowest common denominator. A good portion of the passengers were rude, pushy and loud. My husband is the easiest going person I know; in 28 years together, I’ve only heard him raise his voice twice … he raised his voice a third time during our cruise on Freedom. One night in the Arcadia Theater, a group of women (7 or 8) sat in the row behind us and talked NON-STOP. After about 20 min of this, my husband turned around the yelled at them to “shut up or get out”. Imagine my shock … but he WAS absolutely justified!! I travel a lot for business (average of one week per month, for the last 20 years), and sadly this is happening more and more everywhere. People are so inconsiderate of one another and of their environment. I am growing tired of spending my hard-earned money to vacation with “the masses”. Some of the reviews of this ship on this web site stated problems with the Puerto Rican passengers – it’s not just the Puerto Ricans folks; I saw passengers of all shapes, sizes, sexes, and nationalities who were rude and disrespectful. So will we book another RCCL cruise? Not at this time. One of our dinner mates (main dining room) summed it up perfectly: Royal Caribbean’s prices have remained basically the same over the last 10 years … but the quality of what you get has been drastically reduced. Nailed it! We had a long talk on the way home, and we’ve decided that we’ll take a chance on an upscale cruise line for our next cruise. Probably Viking – they don’t allow anyone under 19 years of age on their cruises; all rooms are balconies; with the exception of hard liquor and spa treatments – everything is inclusive (water, soft drinks, beer & wine at lunch and dinner, specialty restaurants, wifi, even one shore excursion at each por)t. By the time you look at how much you spend to upgrade to a balcony, the occasional glass of beer (hubby) or wine (me), specialty restaurants, and shore excursions – we can cruise on Viking for only a few dollars more. I really don’t plan to return to RCCL unless I read many, many, many rave reviews … good luck with that, RCCL. Bye-bye (said in my best David Spade flight attendant voice). Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
To start with my wife an I have been on more than 30 cruises, and sailed on all the major brands. RCCL is generally our favorite. No matter what happens we general go with the flow and have a good time. This was our second trip on the ... Read More
To start with my wife an I have been on more than 30 cruises, and sailed on all the major brands. RCCL is generally our favorite. No matter what happens we general go with the flow and have a good time. This was our second trip on the Freedom of Seas. First one was from Miami in April. Having sailed as many times as we have, we notice subtle changes that some might not. To us it appears that RCCL is getting cheap and greedy. They continue to build bigger and newer ships with all the latest bells and whistles, but they also continue to charge you for every little item they can. We flew to San Juan the day before and got our own hotel at Marriot near the port. Everything went smooth. Had a nice dinner at a local restaurant. The next morning we shared a cab with another couple who were going to ship also. They drop us off at baggage drop off area. The line was very long and moving slowly, I quickly found out why...people continually kept cutting in ahead of us. When I said something they wou,d just ignore me. We finally get close to front of line just to be told we were in wrong line because we were midship. We were directed to another line for a second 15-20 minute wait. Once again the line cutters ruled. The port needs to have better signs directing you which line to be in. Next came security line. This was one single line where once again people rudely cut in line. Because we're platinum members we got express line for check in. Went very smooth and we were on the ship by noon. Entire boarding process too about 40 minutes. The rooms weren't ready so we headed to buffet for a quick snack. After lunch we walked around the ship until our cabin was ready. The balcony cabin was typical room. Nothing too impressive, but well suited for our 7 day trip. Overall it was clean and comfortable, but starting to see some wear and tear. Won't be long until a refurb will be needed. Dining-we had booked 6 months in advance and requested early seating. When we checked in we were told we had anytime seating and would need to talk to the restaurant host. I went to the host desk and waited in line. When I got to the desk I was told there were several large groups on the ship and there was no available seating at the early set dining time. They said we could have a set dining time in the anytime dining room, and it would essentially be the same. Reluctantly I accepted. Exactly as I expected, the service was lower in this dining room. It was no fault of the wait staff, it's the way the system is set up. RCCL is killing their staff with this model. One table next to us is getting desserts, when our main course is being served, while on the other side the group is just sitting down. No eb and flip for the waiters.frequently we would be served our salad and appetizers at the same time...or just the opposite. We wouldn't even be done with our appetizers and he main course would arrive. The wait staff would set it aside which meant is was Luke warm when it was served. Hot items were frequently warm, and cold items were frequently warm. Mediocre at best. Generally main finding menus would have 2-3 everyday items, with most of the menu changing daily....not anymore. 75% of menu was exact same everyday with only a couple items different each day. Another way to cut corners on costs. The buffet was a better selection of food and the items were hot and cold when they were suppose to be. But the passengers were again extremely rude and pushy. Standing in line to get fresh cut roast beef, when a lady pushed here way into the line. SeverL people said something to her. She said something in Spanish and then ignored everyone....then waved for several other family members to come join her. They all cut into the line in front of about 40 people that were waiting. Shows- having been on many ships we don't attend a lot of shows. The comedians were pretty good. The ice show was ok, and the singing Broadway shows were not very good. My biggest complaint....rude people and line cutting. People would push there way around you when entering the show venue and then save rows of seats but sitting in every other seat and putting items in them. This was a very port intensive trip with only 1 day at sea. The islands were awesome, and lots of activities to chose from. We booked our excursions on our own with suggestions we got from Cruise Critic. Everything went well. Once again the only complaint was getting on and off the ship. Rude pushy people. The daily activities on the ship generally focused on selling you something. Wine or liquor tasting, art auction, spa services. Ship tour, or speciality dining. Very few free activities except trivia contest. Disembarkation was a disaster. They want to get everyone off the ship as soon as possible and called numbered luggage tags. No one paid attention to this. Can you guess it...people pushing, shoving and cutting in line even though there number wasn't called. Baggage pick up and immigration was a total cluster. Words of advice GET A PORTER. The few bucks you spend will save you a ton of time and headache. Got a cab to airport and headed home. Final thoughts-RCCL is slowly slipping towards Carnival level. Food was good but not great. Drink prices were rediclous, (4.50 for a coke), figure every way to squeeze a I me out of you, and not real organized. As I said at the start, we had a good time because we didn't let the little thing bother us, I just wanted to share some of my observations and opinions. We are already looking for our next cruise and most likely will be on RCCL...but definitely Won't be from San Juan...rude..rude..rude people. Even the staff I spoke to on the ship said this and often apologized about it, Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I wanted to see as many islands as possible...this was the right ticket! From the first view on the first day of Saba Island (on our way to St Kitts) to old San Juan, was perfect! Weather was iffy in some ports, but that’s life. Freedom ... Read More
I wanted to see as many islands as possible...this was the right ticket! From the first view on the first day of Saba Island (on our way to St Kitts) to old San Juan, was perfect! Weather was iffy in some ports, but that’s life. Freedom of the Seas was wonderful, even with an inside cabin. We enjoyed a drink/internet package and specialty dining; Bull &Bear became a regular hangout before dinner. There were so many ports or call, there was no time to be bored. Staff was friendly and helpful, food was wonderful. Found lovely areas to read my book, enjoying an adult beverage most days. Only downside was confusion during embarkation outside terminal in San Juan, however after getting inside and on line, process went smoothly. Cabins were ready quickly so we were unpacked and fed and hydrated well before muster drill. Cabin was inside, but roomy. There was lots of storage for a seven day cruise. Totally enjoyed my seven days aboard Freedom of the Seas! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose the itinerary and the approximate date and this was the shipped that matched. The ship shows its age. Food was good but not great. The personnel were wonderful. We booked our excursions through RCCL. Some were better than ... Read More
We chose the itinerary and the approximate date and this was the shipped that matched. The ship shows its age. Food was good but not great. The personnel were wonderful. We booked our excursions through RCCL. Some were better than others. The last day we went to a beach in St Maarten and it was great. The ladies running the excursion were very helpful. We stayed in a Junior Suite which was nice and roomy although the bathroom was showing its age. Unfortunately the entertainment lineup (with times) was not available before the day of the event. I was unable to get a list even after on-board the ship. It was hard to plan our meals and activities without advance knowledge of the entertainment events and times. Not being able to make reservations for the shows also meant we couldn’t get in one because it was full. Disembarkation with wheelchair assistance went beautifully. Read Less
Freedom of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 5.0 4.2
Public Rooms 4.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.3
Family 5.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 4.0
Rates 4.0 4.1

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