Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by Mass Newsman: Fun & Relaxation On The Freedom!
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Fun & Relaxation On The Freedom!
This is the fifth cruise for my wife and I together....the third on Royal Caribbean and the second on the Freedom of the Seas.
We both agreed this was the smoothest embarkation process we've ever had. We got to the terminal relatively early at about 11am. We pulled right up to drop off our bags, and there were NO lines for security or for the check in desk! We were on the ship in less than 20 minutes!
Our room wasn't ready yet (in fact, you couldn't get to the staterooms at all. They had doors closed with signs saying come back at 1pm) So....we went and had lunch in the Windjammer and walked around a bit. Since we had been on the ship before we already knew where everything was. We ended up getting into the room right at 1!
The stateroom was nice. We had the same type of room we had on our last Freedom Cruise...a "superior" balcony cabin aft on deck 9. Room was perfectly clean of course and our stateroom attendant was great throughout the whole More cruise...including leaving us several of those famous towel animals!
The cruise overall was very fun and relaxing. Of course, the ship is huge and always busy....we rarely found ourselves with nothing to do! We've both found on the Freedom though that there is a major lack of pool space on sea days. The main pools were always MOBBED! So mobbed in fact you couldn't even find a single chair, or even find a space in the water! We used the Solarium pool (for adults only.) That was a bit less crowded and we were always able to find a chair and a spot in the pool. We also LOVE the hot tubs that stick out from the side of the ship in the Solarium so we were there several times. My one complaint was we went a couple of times late at night only to find one hot tub closed and the other filled with pre-teens! They needed to do a better job policing to keep the teens out of the Solarium! But on the whole, it wasn't bad.
Food: The food was great. I know there have been a lot of people complaining about a drop in dining room food quality. We've only been cruising for a couple of years on Royal so I don't know how it was years ago...but we had no major complaints. We had a great waiter who would tell us his "Number 1" choices every night. And if we didn't order his choice, more often than not he'd bring it anyway for us to try! We didn't have a bad dinner all week...but I will say the food on both of our Disney cruises was better. Breakfast in the Windjammer was mostly good (although we did have some nasty french toast one morning) My wife loved the taco bar they had for afternoon snacks. We also ate at Johnny Rockets one afternoon....that was fun too but comes at an extra charge.
Entertainment: Allan Brooks was our cruise director. He is FANTASTIC in our opinion...very funny. He even hosted a daily morning show on the stateroom TV wearing a pink bath robe!
As for the nightly shows, this is where my wife and I were both a little disappointed. They had a comedian on the first night and a comedian on the last night. Both were....pretty terrible. We've never been a big fan of Royal's stage shows either. We went to the first one "Marquee"....it was OK. Basically it was a hodgepodge of different songs from different Broadway plays. We skipped the second show "Once Upon A Time." We had seen that last year and thought it sucked.
Magician Drew Thomas also had a show. It was the same show he did last year but still entertaining. They also had a singer named Earl Turner. He was FANTASTIC! Definitely the show of the week!!
We also enjoyed the Love & Marriage Game Show, the Freedom.com Ice Show and the Quest!
One thing I will mention for smokers out there...they've changed their smoking policy a bit since our last cruise. You no longer can smoke on one side of the Boleros lounge or in the pub on the Promenade. They've also changed smoking in the casino. Instead of having smoking and non smoking nights....they've permanently made smoking and non smoking sections of the casino....with the casino bar always being non smoking. I'm a smoker...but wasn't offended by any of the changes. One other note....the casino seemed pretty dead on this cruise...but I think that's because there were a lot of families.
Since there's no option for a Coco Cay port review...I will say we had a very relaxing day on Royal Caribbean's island. We didn't do any activities, just hung out on the beach and in the ocean. It wasn't as crowded as I feared with the Freedom's size (but that could have been because there were a few rain showers in the morning)
Overall....we had a great time. Very relaxing (which we both needed), great ship, and a great value for the money. Less
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Cabin review: Freedom of the Seas Superior Oceanview Stateroo, Deck 7 9694
I like staying towards the back of the ship. We were in 9694 on the port side. Room was nice....it's towards the end of the hall so it was very quiet most of the time. Balcony was nice size. Deck 9 was a good choice too because we could just walk up to Deck 11 to go swimming or to the Windjammer. We could also walk down to 5 or 4 without problems. We were on deck 6 last year....too much to walk all the way to 11.
Port and Shore Excursions
We did a snorkeling excursion at a place called the "Tiki Hut." Basically it's a floating platform they use to go snorkeling, swimming, or just hanging out in noodle chairs.
The port was MUCH more organized. We met a woman who took us right to our exclusive boat that took us right out to the Tiki Hut. The place was nice, there was a covered area where you could get food....and also lounge chairs and a small pool you could use to get acclimated to your gear before heading out into the ocean. (A really nice touch in my opinion)
The water was a bit cloudy so the snorkeling was not great, but we still had fun. After a couple of hours the boat came back and took us back to the ship. We could have stayed another hour if we wanted but we decided to head back. The port at St. Maarten is really nice so we did some store browsing there before heading back on board.
It was a MESS trying to get there. There was a big group of us going, but loading into the open air busses was disorganized...with one guy taking us all over the port to try and find busses for us. The place itself was nice, but you had to go through a ROUGH neighborhood to get there. I remember looking at my wife and going "where the hell are they taking us!"
Overall though, the place was nice. We got to pet a shark, feed a stingray, and see a sea lion. We also did the underwater boat tour (not a submarine, but a boat with a lower area with windows that look out on the ocean.) Not a HUGE number of fish, but still kind of cool. You can also do snuba and Sea Trek helmets at this place...but we skipped that this time.
We had one hell of a crazy driver that took us back to the port (60 mph on a hilly winding mountain road probably isn't wise) but we made it.
By that point we were hot and tired so we decided against doing any shopping and just got back on the ship.
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