January 2016 - Freedom of the Seas to Caribbean - Eastern
Second time cruising on the Freedom of the Seas; first trip was 7 years ago on this approximately 4000 passenger ship. Having lived in Florida for 30+ years the forty something temperatures driving to the port made the prospect of a Caribbean cruise even more enticing. I'm sure those traveling from more snow laden areas felt that much more! Fortunately many wisely got out before the blizzard hit in the east.
The first stop at in the Bahamas at Coco Cay was a little cooler then previous felt but pleasant and partly sunny a beach barbecue is included. At Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas VI, we opted to take a taxi for $10/pp each way to the port of Red Hook and took the ferry to St John $7/pp. This is one beautiful island, took a taxi tour with most of the time spent viewing and stopping at some of the many beaches. Many stunning views from differing heights. Before returning on the ferry we stopped at a friendly, mostly outdoor pub, Cruise Bay Landing enjoyed a snack with the local beer. Phillipsburg St Maartin, our final stop great as always for shopping though at times we've walked off the ship to the beach area where you can rent a chaise lounge, umbrella and use of a bathroom. The prices dropping the farther you walk from the port.
RCL maintains the Freedom of the Seas well, our stateroom attendant Dennis kept the stateroom clean and responded to any requests efficiently. The food on the MDR for lunch and dinner was very good, at the lunch chopped salads were great. The service provided at table 62 in the Galileo room could not have been better. We ate there 2 nights. The service for breakfast was slow and understaffed. The Windjammer buffet provided many varieties of
food we ate there for breakfast and some lunches. For breakfast lovers you can get omelets prepared your way and they constantly make fried eggs so they are hot when you sit down to eat. The cafes on the promenade deck were open 24hours, good for a grab and go sandwich, pizza or breakfast sweet. The pizza crust has improved over the years especially if you get a slice from one freshly made.
Normally we don't eat at the specialty restaurants but friends traveling with us were going so we ate at Chops, Giovannis and Sabor (kind of upscale Mexican). They were all great with excellent service. It was disappointing to see that Chops has an up charge for Lobster and Porterhouse steaks. Sabor's $25/pp charge includes freshly made at the table guacamole and warm crisp chips and salsa. At all restaurants there is plenty of food to enjoy.
Entertainment from musical production shows, ice skating shows, comedians, piano bar with star themed nights, Latin dance at the Boleros lounge and other types of dance and listening music available until late throughout the ship.
Activities during the day include jewelry making sometimes free sometimes a charge, wine tasting, cooking shows, some for a charge but including a meal, scrapbooking, line dance and other dance classes. No enrichment lectures like I've heard on other ships.
The bartenders in the Schooner bar were both friendly and talented with magic trips, drawing etc and the drinks were good too!
This ship provides plenty of activities for people of all ages and that's what typical of RCL. Happy Cruising!