Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by want2know
- Sail Date: May 2019
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ocean View Balcony
We had been to these ports previously (with the exception of Bonaire) and wanted something different to do.
Aruba – 8am – 9pm. This was the only stop without a tour as we had done a Harley tour around the island on a previous trip (that was great also). We wanted a beach day, but did not need a tour for this. We chose to go to Arashi Beach on the north end of the island. It is so easy to get there by local bus, don’t let the taxi drivers tell you differently. I had left my vacation notes at home (shame on me!), so I needed a little help to remember where the bus stop was at. I had read where another CC member had asked directions for the bus from a taxi driver, who told them the bus doesn’t go that far. I got the same response (they wanted $26 + tip one way). Someone else pointed the bus station out to me. Once leaving the ship, at the street, look about 1:00 o’clock and it will be right there. Costs $2.60 USD pp one way, try to have exact change for them. You can tell the bus driver you want Arashi Beach, as well as he will announce the beach stops. This stop is the last one on the route. It takes about 20 minutes and you will get some sightseeing in as the bus goes by the big resorts/timeshares and along the various beaches. The tourists staying at those places all ride the bus. We rented 2 beach chairs for $16 (found areas with shade). Arashi beach has both sandy shoreline as well as rocky for snorkelers. With your rental you get a ticket to use the restroom (it was clean) and there are showers for rinsing off. You can rent snorkel gear and those little things that pull you through the water so you don’t have to propel yourself. Sorry, but I did not get the price for the rentals. The sand, water and weather was beautiful, but a little breezy. The breeze was nice for cooling off, but stirred up the water to discourage taking underwater pics. There is also a beach bar onsite for refreshments. There are taxis sitting around if you don’t want to wait for the bus that comes about every 20 minutes. In fact, the taxi drivers there will also tell you that it will be an hour before the bus comes. (Boy these guys lie!!! I would hate to see what else they do to scam money out of you.) The bus got us back to the station in town just fine and we were off to check out the shopping and casinos. If you are interested in casinos, just about all the casinos in the islands accept USD. All the casinos are equipped to offer you a free drink after gambling a few minutes.
Curacao – 8am-8pm. Booked city tour through Irie Tours online for $20/pp. They met us once off the ship and provided us with beer and bottled water on the bus. They took us through the historic neighborhoods in town, Curacao distillery, scenic overlook, and to Mashi beach. You had several options once at Mashi Beach. 1) stay at the beach for 1-1/2 hours; 2) stay at Mashi Beach as long as you want and get your own transportation back; 3) go to the aquarium. We chose the first option. The beach was small but very nice with rock pilings out a ways to eliminate the rough surf (another breezy day). We walked around; did a little shopping; and laying on hammocks with a Mudslide. Back in town we did more shopping and hit more casinos. Can you guess by now my DH loves casinos? LOL! The day ended with a beautiful sunset.
Bonaire – 8am-5pm. This island has been a prime destination for divers, so it is behind the curve for every day tourists. Not a lot of shopping. Rented mopeds to tour the island. $45 USD per moped. Do get the free map of Bonaire and follow the route mapped out for you. We had the map but did not follow the route which resulted in some backtracking along the way. It is true that you can see the whole island in a day. Do NOT forget to apply the sunscreen! This is from someone who does beach and boating every week in Florida. If you love bird watching, there are some really colorful ones along the countryside. Saw flamingos, lots of iganuas, and the salt pans. The salt pans provide some beautiful color from the white salt and various colors of pink in the pans against the blue sky. Don’t forget to pick up your piece of salt rock left for you at the front gate of the facility. Ended the day chilling with some drinks and people-watching. The waitress told us that after our ship leaves, they shut down for the season.
St. Maarten – 8am-5pm. Booked online with Rhino Riders for boat ride out of Simpson Bay. We took a group taxi to Simpson Bay. It was about $15 for the two of us. You get a small RIB with a center seat like that of a wave runner. The guide takes you around Simpson Bay and on out to the French side of the island. Showed us various sites, snorkeled in beautifully clear water, and swung by the late Steve Job’s yacht. It was a great time and by booking it online vs. through the ship (with the same company) we saved $50+. We walked across the street from Rhino Riders and caught the bus back to Phillipsburg. (About $5 for the 2 of us.) We then shopped and enjoyed some drinks along the beach in town.
After having 12 & 13 hour days in Aruba and Curacao, the 9 hour stop in St. Maarten seemed too short. The next day we disembarked in San Juan for our flight back home. Immigration has made it so much easier to navigate the process since they have gotten rid of the immigration and declaration forms for cruises. Just show your passport and you are on your way. YAY!!! Everyone questions how much time to allow to catch flight back home. In this case where the ship’s last port was just a skip from San Juan; the ship was cleared to disembark at 7:00am. We carried our own bags off the ship at 7:30, caught a cab, and was at the airport by 8:30am (without any rushing on our part).This quick process is due in part with San Juan having a system in place to transport passengers from cruise terminal to airport efficiently and quickly.
I’m ready for cruise #27!!!
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