I know Royal Caribbean can do better than this.

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 19

Overall rating:

4 out of 5
Freedom of the Seas

6 Night Eastern Caribbean (Ft. Lauderdale To San Juan)

Sail date: May 06, 2018

Ship: Freedom of the Seas

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 8536

Traveled as: Family (older children)

Reviewed: 3 years ago

Review summary

I was practically raised on the open seas, but I had a feeling I wouldn't like this larger ship as much as the smaller ones. I was happy to return "home" to a ship just the same, Overall, this was a decent cruise, so it really bugs me that some things have left a bitter taste in my mouth. The last cruise I went on before this was Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas 5 years ago, and that was one of my BEST cruising experiences. Though it was enjoyable for the most part (*ish*), I think Freedom of the Seas is among my worst experiences. I know Royal Caribbean can do better than this. Is it the bigger ship? Was the cruise director doing a poor job? Has RCCL just gone downhill in the past 5 years? Maybe I'll try them again on a smaller ship and compare...

Embarkation

5 out of 5
Boarding Freedom of the Seas In Ft. Lauderdale was the smoothest, quickest embarkation I've ever experienced! (And trust me, I've experienced a lot) Our staterooms weren't ready in time when we boarded, so they sent us to Windjammer instead. It was a little awkward with so many people lugging their carry-on bags everywhere, but it was not a big deal at all.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

4 out of 5
The food in the main dining room was incredible for the most part. Most of the desserts were like something straight out of a dream. The breakfast food at the buffet in the main dining room was surprisingly good (I usually do not like breakfast foods), but honestly, the kitchen breakfast was hard for me to even eat. I’m not saying it’s bad (I’m biased), but I really enjoyed one and not the other, so… Windjammer offered great variety of food every day, sometimes even featuring treats from the specialty restaurants. My only complaints are that the buffet was a zoo and never really developed a “flow” to how it works. The food is good if you can get to it. Cruise ships never get pizza right, in my experience, but they are always good in their own way. Sorrento’s Pizzeria, though, was not great if I’m honest. Very flat crust (but not thin?), very greasy, and weirdly made… But it was the only place opened late, it was the only place to get pizza, and it was free. I will admit that on Disembarkation Eve, it was exactly what I wanted, so I can’t hate it completely. Pizza is still pizza, after all. We were content with the free food, so we did not try any other the other specialty restaurants.

Main Dining Room

4 out of 5

The food was excellent, the selection was... okay. The staff was professional yet cordial. The layout and entertainment for the main dining room was not my favorite. The multi-level dining room meant the entertainment was only really able to be seen by people on the bottom floor. I was not going to get up and run across the dining room to look over a banister to see what was going on. Also, the otherwise elegant eating atmosphere was hampered a little bit by the weird jazzy house/EDM music they decided to play as ambient music... strange.

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Don't ever expect the Solarium (adults only pool area) to be empty ever. The general area hot tubs are the best hot tubs. My family found the most peace and quiet in the H2O Zone (kid’s area) on port days. My favorite thing was the current pool. It was great fun, great swimming practice, and a great exercise! All the organized activities were scheduled horribly. You never knew how much time one thing would take, and I ended up missing A LOT of other activities I was interested in because things ran long, or there was no time to get from one place to another, etc. Especially since a lot of main events happened at the same time as the first dinner seating (5:30pm is ridiculously early for an early seating in my cruising experience anyway). I didn’t manage to make a friend, and no one else in my party would join me, so I didn’t get to try the ice skating, the rock climbing, or the FloRider, but they were fun to watch. Oh, if you play table tennis, do be careful. There is a gap between the floor and the protective glass, so if you don’t loose a ball by hitting it over the glass, you’ll loose a ball if it rolls under the glass. Once that thing is on the other side, it is GONE! (R.I.P. Martin the Ping Pong Ball. You will be missed.)

Photo Gallery and Shop

2 out of 5

... UGHH!!! ...

Logo Souvenir Shop

3 out of 5

Overpriced merch, of course. Limited selection, but my family found a lot of nice things in there. The most of the "small" shirts they had were kids shirts with lame designs. The medium sizes were way to big for me to wear as anything other than a night shirt. I missed out on some of the cooler designs because they weren't available in my size

H20 Zone

5 out of 5

Though this place is geared toward kids, it really is fun for all ages. The current pool was the most fun I've had swimming in a long time. The hot tubs in this area were nice and empty on port days. The waterfall and sprinklers were nice to look at, and I would have loved to play in them if I had a child with me so it didn't look weird, haha. The thicc statues were a little strange, though.

Dunes Mini Golf

4 out of 5

This was a fun little course to play on, though it got busy quick. One minute we were the only group playing, and the next thing we knew, the place was swarmed so we had to move quickly. The equipment could be cleaned more regularly though, and the hand sanitization station next to the course was broken. The course maps are positioned a little weirdly. It was sometimes confusing to figure out which hole was which because the maps were placed in counter-intuitive spots. The extra people who flooded the course didn't help with the pressure, haha.

Entertainment

3 out of 5

Library

1 out of 5

There are nowhere near enough books in this place to justify calling it a library. It is so scant! I literally have more books on my shelf at home than this ship does in its library (no pun intended) . The best thing about this shameful "library" was the daily sudoku and trivia pages... Though half of the time they weren't available in languages I understand.

Service and Staff

4 out of 5
Our waiter Lee and his assistant Vikash were professional, attentive, and friendly in the main dining room. Our room steward never introduced himself to me officially, so I don't know his name. He used my name before I ever even saw him before, which was a little strange, but overall he was unintrusive and very polite, attentive, and helpful when called upon. The photography staff, though very talented with taking photos, were not helpful when trying to actually buy the photos. Beware of the photo packages if your party requires 2 or more staterooms. Some nonsense about automatic facial recognition software splitting up all your photos only AFTER you buy the package, even though the pictures are all shown together when you check your account at the kiosk. The staff weren't helpful in actually trying to find a solution to our particularly ridiculous situation. The only staff member who showed any kind of concern or understanding about how weird and nonsensical the system is was Dhruv. All other crew members that we encountered were pleasant enough, though.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
A lot of the chairs in the general areas were kind of slick and grimy. Like, so much so to the point that I would insist on going to wash or sanitize my hands after touching the chairs before I would eat my food. This was manly at Windjammer or on the Promenade. The railing on our balcony was a little dirty, too. I would be inclined to ignore that, but I’ve heard reports of it actually staining clothes… Not good! But in Windjammer and Promenade, I think the problem is that on a ship with so many passengers, these areas are overused anyway, and there’s not enough opportunity to clean them properly. Ew. The theme of the ship is nice, but not nautical. When I’m at sea, I like to think I’m at sea, not at a shopping mall or in New Orleans or wherever. As for the layout, I couldn’t hate any ship, but I do have some complaints with Freedom of the Seas. I’ll ignore having to run back and forth for such a length to get ANYWHERE (she’s so huge!) because the elevators are fast (but always too busy on other floors… I took so many stairs O_O). My biggest complaint is that there is no real place to have any sort of large gathering. On formal night, they held the Captain’s party on the Royal Promenade with a live band on the street and everything. This was incredibly disruptive to the people who were trying to shop or eat or whatever normally on the street, and the people who were watching the band or seeing the captain were disrupted by the normal people trying to get from place to place, as it’s one of the main ways to get from fore to aft. There was so much congestion on the street but nowhere else for it to go.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5

Ship tip

Do yourself a favor and book second seating dinner. All the scheduling will generally be on your side, and the dress code will end up more accurate, I think. For first seating, no one cared at all about the dress code. I was so disappointed on formal night when I was all dressed up while half the dining room was wearing in flip flops and shorts... Alternatively, if you're not very big on dressing up, GO TO THE BUFFET ON FORMAL NIGHT INSTEAD!

Ports of call

Nassau, Bahamas

4 out of 5
We've been to Nassau many, many times, so we used this as more of a pool day. We were only off the ship long enough for the Newbie in our group to look in a couple of shops and find a souvenir for herself. It was very clean, though. Sad to see the air conditioned shopping mall by the port is not open, though,

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

5 out of 5
We took a bus tour to see both the Dutch and French sides of the island. I learned a lot about the island. Would have liked to see Maho beach on the tour, rather than just drive past the airport. During lunch back on the ship, I really enjoyed the spectacular view of the planes taking off against the mountains. The island is beautiful, but still recovering from Hurricane dammage.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Did not visit port

5 STARS FOR ST. JOHN! I don't know if this should count for St. Thomas, per se, as we took an excursion over to St. John instead. We toured the national park and got to enjoy one of the beaches for a few minutes. I tell you, it was heavenly! I would love to spend more time on St, John. As for St. Thomas itself, I couldn't really say much more other than a lot of the shops near the port were closed. At Noon. Both islands are still really trying to recover from the hurricanes, though

San Juan, Puerto Rico

5 out of 5
We took a tour of Old and New San Juan. The bus we were in was a little hard to see out of, and it was overcast/rainy, but what we did see was beautiful or interesting. The garitas or sentry boxes in Castillo San Felipe del Morro smelled awful, but were amazing. Castillo de San Cristóbal was clean and beautiful from what I got to see of it (We only had 30 minutes-ish to walk around it)

Disembarkation

2 out of 5
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