Things that we loved :
• The beds! They were VERY comfortable! • The cafes on the Promenade! Especially the Cafe Promenade! They serve half sandwiches, cookies, and other treats all day and night. They were very good, and this was a great alternative if someone wasn't in the mood to go to hang out at a club at night. Very nice touch! • Overall Dining Food! I am not saying that we loved everything, but we really enjoyed most of what we ordered. We ate in the dining room 4 nights. Maybe its because our expectations were not very high, but we enjoyed the food. I would say the breads, pastries, and sweets are all better than what I remember on Princess. Soups were also very good. • Cruise Director! We thought Richard Spacey was the best CD that we have experienced in 10 cruises. Funny, young humor, quick wit, but not obnoxious. We thought he added a ton to the trip. • Showers! Yes, they are small, but at least you don't have that nasty and clingy shower curtain to deal with. Water pressure was awesome. • Shows! Wow! Best we have seen on any cruise. They spare no expense in the production shows. The magician show was also very good (and I don't like magicians)! In fact, that night I had a "I don't want to be here" attitude when the magician show began, and at the end I joined in a standing ovation. There were a couple of shows that were not so good, but I will discuss those below. The Quest show was also hilarious, and not-to-be-missed. • The friendliness of the people! Wow! Everywhere we went, they were smiling and asking if we were having a good vacation. The servers in the Cafe Promenade are absolutely wonderful! The waiters and waitresses that we experienced in My Time Dining were unbelievably nice. RC does a great job making sure they make everyone feel like a friend and important! • Less smoking than other cruises that we have been on. They also strongly adhere to and support the non-smoking zones. I saw several times a ship worker asking someone to please put out their cigarette or move to a smoking area.
Now the things that were not-so-good. Please, everyone...I am not trying to offend here. These are *our* impressions. I am not looking for any fights here :
• Crowded! Wow! Sometimes I mean CROWDED. Sometimes, it felt like it was a ton more crowded than other large ships we have been on. It's my opinion that they do not move people better than other lines in *some* cases. • Elevators! Why, please tell me why a ship this large would only have elevators at the front and back of ship and none in the middle? On other cruises we have been on, there are always a person or two on the elevator with you and sometimes during main even times, they are full. On this ship, EVERY elevator we got on were totally packed out (IF you could even get on it)! And they were always hot and stuffy (seemed like no A/C). I was not expecting this. Yes, I used the stairs as much as possible, but this was an irritant when you had to use them. Because they were always crowded, this made people kinda of rude and pushy. You kinda had to fiend for yourself. I did not enjoy this part of the experience at all. • Cabin Steward. She wasn't very good. Saw her once all week. Once she forgot to leave us pool towels on a day we were about to get off the ship, so I called her. She told me to go get them up at the pool. I was on the 3rd deck. No biggie, it just surprised me that she wasn't willing to help me. • Very small bathrooms. Nice showers, but tiny, tiny bathrooms. Smaller than what we remember on other ships. • Storage space! It seemed a lot smaller than Princess in terms of drawers, closet space, etc for the equivalent room. More of a problem with my wife than me. We did kinda get in each others way more than on other cruises (while getting ready). • Biggest problem with the cruise: Windjammer! RC, ARE YOU JOKING?? We affectionately referred to this all week as the "Peoplejammer" (I sometimes called it the "Helljammer"). This was almost a deal breaker until I figured out how to deal with this problem (I will explain below). I mean...DON'T go to this buffet if you want a pleasant experience! Morning, noon, or night. Even the Dining staff agreed. We told them we went to eat there one night and they said "Oh no...don't go there if you can help it!" They agreed that it is always horrible. I was expecting that the buffet "system" would be better than Princess "pods" (from what I read on here). We would have to strongly disagree. For one thing, people get in this "every man for himself" animal-like state when you are in there (kinda like the elevator thing). I know some people will disagree with me on this, but this was our experience and opinion. Princess buffet system and crowds are much better. The food itself isn't bad in the windjammer, but the crowds drove us nuts. In fact, the first day, I thought "what have I done" Ha! But I learned how to work it.
Random comments :
• Ice Skating Show. Very good ice show (for ice-shows) and I wouldn't miss it if you are on this cruise, but not a good reason to go on this cruise (in my opinion). • Sail Away Parties. Weak or non-existent. • Pillows. Flat and hard. Nothing to cry about, but it was weird...Very comfy beds, very flat pillows. No biggie though. • Movie Theater. Just okay. Yes, they have so much it is hard to please everyone, but we did watch 2 movies late at night while on board. Small room. (Can't have it all) ha! • Towel Animals. I just don't get into this like others do. We don't dislike it, but to us it is not worth the trouble. • No chocolates on the pillow! Ha! Does it make or break a cruise? No. And I admit, the chocolate is usually not even very good. But it is a nice touch, and one that we would appreciate more that a towel that looks like a monkey with our sunglasses on it. Ha! • Beat the Peoplejammer by not going. Once we went to the dining room for breakfast, and did other things for lunch, it turned into a very wonderful cruise! • Johnny Rockets. We had fun, and this should be done at least once. • Chops. Very good, and should do. • Portofino's. We really liked this, but order the non-fish dishes. It seems from my research the people that like this the most orders salads, pasta, and steak. I had one ship dish she recommended and it tasted a bit fishy to me. Overall, better experience than Chops. • Sprinkles ice cream on pool deck. Very nice touch...and good! • Quest - This show was hilarious and not to be missed. Get there early. It gets very packed. Warning: PG-13 • Love and Marriage Show - The funniest thing ever! Do not miss this show. Once again, Richard Spacey made this hilarious! Also PG-13. • There was a special guest singer (I can't remember his name) that we thought was not very good. Kinda Sammy Davis Jr style. Very hyper, not funny. Kinda corny. • The comedian on the last night was very funny. • The show on the last night is usually lame on cruises. This show on the Freedom is not to be missed. We thought it was hilarious.
• San Juan - Ported at 3:00 PM which is kinda late, but we did the Segway tour (2 hours) and it was awesome! Highly recommend. It was so neat, because our tour began at 5:00PM, and it's a 2-hour tour. So we were touring old San Juan at night on a Segway! Lot's of fun! • St Thomas - Shopped and went to Morning Star beach. What a wonderful day! • St Martin! Ahhh! Our favorite. Did a little shopping, then on to Orient Beach. LOVED this day! • Sea Days - We love them! Laid in chairs away from the crowds on the top deck. There were always chairs available, unless you had to be right by the pool (which we never wanted to be). Loved these days! RC also tries hard with Pool Deck Attendants that *try* to police the chair hogs. Tough job. I commend them for trying.
So there you have it. We loved our cruise! We love sea days, and we loved our ports. The food was great, they people were fantastic. The negatives I did mention are not big deals if you know what to expect and if you do things to accommodate.
We also used the Express Departure where you take your own luggage off the ship. We were off the ship by 6:45! We even got to catch an earlier flight that trimmed over 3 hours off our travel day! Perfect!