Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Deck Hand

Experience
2-3 cruises

Reviews
0

Helpful Votes
3

3 out of 5

An enjoyable experience once you find a way to turn off the noise

Sail Date: May 29, 2016

Reviewed: 5 months ago

Traveled As: Family w/older children

Room Type: Inside

The ship and amenities was a pretty complete package, with multiple choices at just about every hour.  The pools are great but on sea days they are really slammed.  Luckily the abundance of other activities work to put some people in other places.  If you are a pool person you will be disappointed though.  RCI would be well served to maybe turn down the volume on the pool deck to make it less a central theme of the ship during daytime hours.  

 

The Solarium was a lot, lot more crowded than it it was on my previous cruise.I guess this is partly an overflow from the pool more than it is an extra number of people wanting the quiet space.  Once again, don't know what RC could do about it.

 

I only have two real complaints.  One, the constant hocking on the promenade and on the TV and announcements.  Just as you find a way to turn it into background clutter RC changes tactics to put it right back in your face.  Do we really need round-the-clock reminders of the "deals" being offered at the stores at the ports giving kickbacks to the cruiseline?  If I see that same smiling face urging passengers to come to the front of the boat for jewelry information over and over and over and over again it will be too soon.  And second, live music in the bars.  Living in Nashville may have spoiled me on this.  Surely there is room for a few solo artists and bar bands to move around the bars in the evening.  Maybe they get in the way of the announcements about art auctions and Effy sales?  There is more to life than  steel drum or reggae bands by the pool.

Cabin / Stateroom
Great, great stateroom. The extra little bump out from the window with the seating area adds enough to make the room feel spacious. You do lose the feeling of time-of-day, particularly with the curtains closed. Two accidental sleeps until 11:00 AM. There was absolutely no noise from the promenade below. Sometimes there was noise from the hallway, but not much.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Getting on was somewhat slow with a line which moved a little too long. Oddly enough disembarkation and leaving the port was a whole lot easier. Maybe it was the 7:30 group? The port facility is laid out for getting away in a hurry. Canaveral may be my favorite cruise port now.
Ship Quality
The ship became easy almost instantly. We were experienced with the Voyager class and Freedom is pretty much the same ship, just longer and with a few more or larger amenities.
Destinations and Excursions
Take it from me, every excursion is a kickback scheme and overpriced. The only help you get from the cruise line is suggestions on where to buy jewelry.

St Thomas and St Maarten each had rental cars at the ports. Avoid the bus stuff with dozens of other passengers and rent a Jeep or car and explore with just your group.

I still do not understand why CocoCay was on the itinerary. It was too small for the Voyager class and was the reason why Labadee was created. Why take an even larger Freedom class boat to such a small place? The tendering was a disaster, it took over an hour in line to get back to the boat. Almost every inch of beach was covered by a person and the amenities are stretched thin and staffed grouchy staff.
Children's Programs
Both my 9 year old and 13 year olds were glued to their programs. Incredible benefit to the parents who get to do their thing without having to put up with whining about nothing to do. This was the best thing RCI did on our cruise.
Entertainment
The ship needs more live music in the bars, no reggae or steel drums, but real bar music. Maybe they can fire the crappy comedians and hire some musicians? The lady in the "pub" a couple of nights was much appreciated by my wife and me.
Service and Staff
I loved almost all the staff, particularly our main waiter, stateroom attendant, and the waiter at Giovanni's. The only bar staff I has issue with was at the Bull & Bear. Spotty attention.
Food and Dining
The main dining room was way better than I was led to believe by others reviews. We did not have a single bad experience or dish. We did do Chops and Giovanni's and they were really , really good. The Chef's Table was also an incredible experience.

I did lunch as much as I could in the main dining room. The buffet on its best day was one step above atrocious. That was more the fault of the other guests than the food staff.

The promenade cafe had good sandwiches, but it was hard to pry them away from the throngs of other guests who needed their Starbucks for some reason. Ben & Jerry's was always worth the small fee. The pizza sucks something awful, stay away.

The Bull & Bear could be so much better, but the layout, lack of selection, and staff was all wrong. Pouring an uninspired bottle beer into a glass does not make it a draft. Society has moved past the bar with two to three taps with a fridge full of maybe a dozen or two other beers. I am okay with the dark decor, but the lack of seats, staff, and selection is hard to overcome. It looks like Carnival has figured this out from what I have read.
Port Canaveral, Florida
Cococay (Cruiseline's Private Island)
Stay on the boat or book a cruise which goes to Labadee instead. Both suggestions will make you less likely to hate RCL.
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Rent a jeep or car from Budget and go off on your own. Magens Bay is great, but Sapphire Beach is just as pretty and empty. There is zero reason to walk and shop in St Thomas. The same things are repeated a dozen times each.
Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Once again, there is zero reason to shop here. Same exact things as St Thomas, repeated a dozen more times. Rent a car (not from the cruise) and run away for the day. It is cheap and a whole lot more entertaining and immersive. I do have to admit, the water taxis are spectacular here. Well run, clean, professional. Best of all, quick. Just wished they were a little closer to the ship, but then

Tip

Get a stateroom in the back third of the Freedom of the Seas. a quick elevator ride put us almost in the main dining rooms, buffet, two of three specialty restaurants, the kids programs, and the sports deck.



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