May 2017 - Freedom of the Seas to Europe - Mediterranean
We last cruised on Freedom in 2014 to the Eastern Caribbean. Same ship, same line, distinct decline in quality.
Our flight left SFO at 8:30 AM Saturday, connecting through Philadelphia, arrived in Barcelona at 8:40 AM Sunday. As we were processed through Customs, there were only 5 agents manning the 12 booths - so it was a long wait. We later found out that flights arriving a few hours later had waits of over 3 hours at Customs. Our departure from Barcelona was delayed since Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) will wait for flights booked through their travel Dept. Air2Sea. Others not booked through Air2Sea were able to board late also.
We boarded Freedom at 11:00 AM but our cabins would not be ready until 1 PM. Most passengers went to the Windjammer Buffet for lunch. We had lunch at the Café Promenade located in the interior Promenade street and open 24 hours. No crowds and the shrimp salad sandwich was excellent. Entertainment was provided by an excellent piano and violin duo performing on one of the bridges over the Promenade.
Service in Windjammer has declined since our last Freedom cruise and the food also seemed not as good as before - but still pretty good for a buffet. The food in the dining room was very good and outstanding on a few nights (a decline from previous RCCL cruises).
Entertainment, in general was not as good as previous RCCL cruises, and on a par with our last Princess cruise. The Princess Grand did have more outstanding non-showroom entertainers.
The only complication on the return flight was a 3 hour delay (at our connecting city Charlotte) in departure as we waited for a landing slot in San Francisco. So instead of a 10:51 PM arrival, we landed around 2 AM the next day.
Specifics on the various categories are provided below.
Overall this cruise was disappointing because we've been on Freedom before and we know it can be much better. Only the service from the dining room staff and cabin staff continued to be consistently outstanding.