Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by midiwiz: Things have changed.....
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Things have changed.....
To start off, RCCL what are you thinking?
We were just on Freedom in November. We had the time of our lives, best cruise ever next to Disney. Not so this time. We thought we would take Freedom again since we have become completely disenchanted with Carnival and their lackluster performance. We brought our son as he loves cruises and we wanted the "official opinion". After 36 cruises under our belts we are now wondering what else can we do.
Getting on / getting around the ship -
Embarkation was fast and smooth as always. For anyone that hasn't been on yet - these guys are rated in the overkill category for hand sanitizer...better safe than sorry - bring hand cream in case this dries out your hands.
Getting around the ship on a horizontal basis was fine, Vertical had challenges all week - the wait for elevators was horrible. all 4 go up all 4 go down, they got reprogrammed and it was an issue.
Food - please do not tell me More you are serving pork spare ribs and it turns out to be beef ribs. They were horrible we went back and ate onboard. The dragon coaster is a complete waste of money. Go ride the same type of ride in Jamaica and you'll have a lot more fun. It's slow and seems that some of the turns are pitched incorrectly so that the cart slows down (too much) naturally. The rest of the Island for us was a complete waste of time and nothing more than a vendor beat up session. Due to the point that this is actually Haiti and the level of infectious disease, etc... IF we ever have to encounter this place again we will be staying onboard.
Falmouth, Jamaica -
What is there to say about a manufactured port? Typical array of stores, a food court with DQ, Nathan's, Quiznos. An absolutely over priced and boring Margaritaville. I do see what they say about caution wandering outside the port gates, but we have been to Jamaica many times and know how to handle...up to the part where the hooker and her pimp are hanging out.
I setup an excursion of our own, and while highly recommended tour guide/manager it was a disappointment that even this crew couldn't help themselves in trying to dip into the "can we rip off the tourist" bucket. At the very least if you don't do the Jamaican coaster, please go to Scotchie's it's the absolute best jerk on the island and worth the trip. Arrange it ahead of time and watch the cab fares at the port they are pretty ridiculous. Boiled down - this port is for the advantage of RCCL and its other investors in the building of this port. It is a complete rip off and intended that way. We much more prefer Ocho for a port.
Grand Cayman -
If you have not swam with a Dolphin now is the time. Dolphin's Cove is the place, you want the actual in water experience since the touch one you will not get a real enough experience nor get towed by the dolphin. Absolutely buy the CD, the price is the same for single, couple or family of 3 ($120) you get all the pics, good quality, and better than $35 for 1 pic. You will however get your entire tour experience group in the CD but that can be managed when you get back home. We did break a rule and book the excursion through RCCL - never again. After the experience, the delays, and the crap, we would have had no time at all for anything else. We asked just to go back to town vs go to 7 Mile beach. We were with 19 other people that wanted the same thing - it took a large argument to get it to happen. You can arrange this on your own. For those that haven't been - the line for the tender are horrible get to the port earlier than you think.
Since we have ben here so much it's like we live here, we decided to not do our usual stop at Wet Wendy's followed by the Sr Frog afternoon party fest and partake in another favorite - Nachi Cocum. This is the jewel of unfound goodness. We again had a great time, met great people, had a fantastic day.
Onboard ship -
This has declined. There was a noticeable difference in quality of food. The level of service has declined in certain areas also. Honestly there were moments that we were getting Carnival flashbacks. Chops was fine, yet way too slow now so we are not sure we will do it again like we have done. Portofino completely hosed our dinner so much we asked for a refund that they did commit to and we never received...and yes the chase down on this is next to impossible. The highlight was Johnny Rockets, we did that Saturday night since we were sick of everything else. It set things straight is was so good.
We had a great room and even better balcony (rear corner), but our room steward lacked. I related it to shining shoes - do the front it's all anyone sees. There was even one night that I specifically told him do not bother we don't need or want it touched - he still did. We were not happy with him in any category.
The changes in the smoking policy are ridiculous, hope they like the money they are losing at the Sky Bar as well as what they will lose in a couple of months with the Biker's cruise. Even the Bar Manager admitted the changes have hurt them a lot. also to former RCCL cruisers - free pour is gone.
Don't get me wrong it's still better than Carnival (not by much) and we are not sure if it's truly worth the price difference now like it was in November. I do know that for what this cruise cost, I am willing to forego the Casino and jump on Disney instead.
We also can't say it's the economy since this industry is a formula (goldmine) industry. It's about that CFO in the office that has never been on a cruise because he's too big a nerd with no life that has no clue that his financial decisions are actually wrong in the overall picture of the business.
Will we or won't we that I the question. Don't know, but our next cruise is February on Disney and it's funny that is one cruise I am 100% positive that it will be missing all the problems. After that we'll fly to Aruba for 2 weeks stay on Palm Beach since according to my spreadsheet I'll spend about the same amount of money for double the vacation time.
Sorry Royal - you just aren't cutting it this year. Go see Carnival they can tell you how to screw it up even more. Less
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