Great vacation but RCCL is meh

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern

Cruises: 7+ cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 13

Overall rating:

3.5 out of 5
Verified Review
Freedom of the Seas

7 Night Southern Caribbean (San Juan Roundtrip)

Sail date: May 19, 2019

Ship: Freedom of the Seas

Cabin type: Balcony

Cabin number: 6520

Traveled as: Couple

Reviewed: 1 year ago

Review summary

Lots of fun, but not without some drawbacks that will make us seriously consider our next vacation and if/when we cruise

Embarkation

4 out of 5
Good. A little chaotic but it went quickly anyways.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

2 out of 5
The main dining room left a lot to be desired. The variety was respectable, but the food was consistently inconsistent regarding quality. Even straightforward things like pasta were frequently virtually inedible. We did have some items that were quite good, but it was a mine field. We were also constantly badgered by our server to purchase the lobster or steak that were available for a steep premium. My faith in the premium products was quite low, seeing as how the food on the standard menu was so bad. We had always been kind of opposed to the idea of specialty dining, as we felt the food was already part of what we’d paid for in a cruise, but got a free specialty dining meal as a perk with our booking. We ended up eating that meal at Chops, which was overall a good experience. The steaks were stellar, and the appetizers were quite good. We tried most of the side dishes offered, and none of them were very good, so that was extremely disappointing. Also, the soups that were offered were both offered in the main dining room, and were exactly the same. If they are going to charge a premium for specialty dining, there shouldn’t be a single menu item that can be had outside of that restaurant in my opinion. Furthermore, one soup was mediocre, and one (lobster bisque) May have been the worst soup we’d ever had. The flavor was bad, and there was no sign of any actual seafood in it. We also did a guacamole making class, which included lunch at Sabor. Our experience there was excellent. The food and service was very good. The buffet always had plentiful options, but particularly for breakfast there wasn’t much variation, and many things just didn’t taste good. After the first morning, I never had bacon again, because somehow it was bad enough I had no desire to eat it. I’d never met bacon I didn’t like prior to this cruise. The variation throughout the week in what was available for dinner was quite good, but as is the food theme for the cruise, it was extremely hit or miss as to whether it taste good. For example, there was a “beef stroganoff” one night that didn’t look or taste anything like what I grew up eating in my moms kitchen. I have no idea what it was, but it wasn’t beef stroganoff. One positive thing we found was the buffet and salad bar that was available for lunch on sea days in the main dining room was excellent. There was a menu available, as well as custom made salads and buffet hot items. We ate there both sea days, and enjoyed it quite a bit. One final complaint we had was regarding the wine list, and how it worked out with our drink packages. The options for wine by the glass that was within the price constraints of the packages was extremely limited, and not great. Good wine isn’t inherently expensive, so the options could easily be better and more plentiful.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
We had the opportunity to use the climbing wall, and the pools and hot tubs. As is commonly the case, during peak times at the pool, finding chairs is difficult, and the pools tend to get quite crowded. We also used the fitness center, and paid to do a spin class, which was terrible. I have serious doubts that the instructor had any actual spin instructor training. The class was boring, and there were several times the class was instructed to do things that could actually cause injuries. My bike also made a grinding noise most of the class, which was obnoxious and somewhat embarrassing. We were also consecutive cruisers, and were extremely disappointed to find that there was absolutely nothing open during the transition time, which was annoying.

Entertainment

4 out of 5
The guest/contract performers were generally great, but many of the in house shows weren’t very good. One of the shows was poorly described, and was not enjoyable for us, as it was largely done in Spanish.

Children's Programs

No kids

Service and Staff

3 out of 5
As a whole, the service staff was very friendly, though we did have a fair number of frustrations. First, we had several instances where we had seemingly basic questions that we had to be referred to several people to get answers. We also found it exhausting how much time the spent trying to sell premium services, particularly for dining packages and spa services. Most frustrating is having these attempts happen while being in the middle of a meal both in the windjammer buffet and the main dining room. I don’t like feeling like they’ve cornered me while I’m trying to enjoy a meal with my wife, and often feeling like i has to justify myself for not wanting it. We also had a load of laundry done, which claims to be guaranteed returned in 24 hours and didn’t receiving it back for nearly 3 days, meaning we didn’t have the clean clothes for a good bit of our cruise. We were refunded the fee, but the guest services desk didn’t seem to appreciate our frustration. We also bought 2 glasses of wine that were above the cost of our package, knowing that our gold status provided an offer of a buy one get one free. We weren’t familiar with how this worked, and expected the cost would automatically be adjusted, but it was not. We went to guest services hoping they would adjust the total for us, but they claimed there was nothing they could do. This was extremely annoying, as it again seemed like their concern for our frustration wasn’t there. While it was a small amount of money, the gesture of offering something in return would have gone a long way. Our room steward, Rolly Malig did very well at taking care of and anticipating our needs.

Ship Quality

5 out of 5
The layout of the ship was very good. Even as a larger ship, getting places wasn’t cumbersome. The staff did a very good job of maintaining the public spaces.

Cabin / Stateroom

3 out of 5
The size and layout of our cabin was good, but it smelled extremely musty. We also had the first cabin at the front of the ship, which had a bit of a bump out on the balcony, so we expected it to be a bit larger but found that it was actually blocked off for no apparent reason. We had to request things like shampoo, conditioner and lotion, which we expected would be there, which was quite odd, but we were accommodated upon request.

Ship tip

The front row of the balconies are the best seats, as the shelf in front of you is good to place your drinks. The seats have cup holders in the armrests but the size and location makes them not very functional.

Ports of call

San Juan, Puerto Rico

3 out of 5

Oranjestad, Aruba

5 out of 5

Willemstad, Curacao

4 out of 5

Kralendijk, Bonaire

5 out of 5

Philipsburg, St. Maarten

3 out of 5

Disembarkation

4 out of 5
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