Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by PLUS50: There are better cruises for the price
Overall Member Rating
There are better cruises for the price
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
I'm largely comparing this cruise with my previous experiences with Holland America Amsterdam.
To begin with, Freedom is a ship with over 3000 passengers compared with about half on the Amsterdam. But the public facilities certainly didn't double. The direct result is a very crowded ship especially on the pool deck and in the Windjammer buffet restaurant (Lido on Amsterdam). Making it worse is the ship allows smoking on half of all outdoor decks. It means non-smokers are further crowded. Many smokers moved the ash tray to non-smoking sections and the staff never interfered. It is also impossible to run or walk without spending half the time in the smoking section and there is always the smell of cigarettes in most outdoor places. Given that this is a Caribbean cruise and the whole point is to relax under the sun in the open, this wide spread smoking problem is a serious deficiency and enough reason for me to not return to Royal Caribbeans.
Ironically, a lot of More inside space was allocated to lounges and bars to generate alcohol income. They are usually empty most of the time except probably late at night (I don't know because I'm usually in bed by 10 pm). The point is, this megaship actually affords less usable space for passengers.
The ship offers a reasonable variety of foods but the quality is very questionable. I ate at the dining room in the first evening. The sea bass my wife ordered was the dried we've ever seen anywhere. The pork I ordered was also over cooked and chewy. We talked to fellow diners. One of them returned the steak 3 times and they were all over cooked. He ended up paying an extra $15 for a "premium cut" and that was still over cooked and took him 15 minutes just to cut them into pieces! The same problem seems to apply to most meat dishes in the buffet as well. Also, a large section of the buffet was allocated to burgers, pizzas, hot dogs and sandwiches with fries. These are usually available everywhere on other ships as snacks yet they were treated as dinner entries in the restaurants on Freedom! The multiple asian dishes were a pleasure the first day until I realized the same were there for the rest of the cruise.
The first two night's entertainment (a musical and an ice show) was fine. But the next few nights were mostly by singers that normally perform in the various bars and lounges on the ship anyway. The ice show was repeated in several nights.
I stayed in an inside cabin with a window toward the promenade. It is a nice room and setup and the insulation was good that I didn't hear much noises until the ship staged a rock concert complete with flashing neon lights in the Promenade at 10:45 pm! All those huge, empty dancing bars and lounges were just not enough. They had to wake up passengers in over 100 cabins to have this concert lasting until around mid-night.
Overall, I'll say my previous cruise with Holland America was more pleasant in all areas including food, entertainment and shore excursions. Given that the two are considered at similar price levels, Royal Caribbean could use some improvements. For passengers that prefer non-smoking, more space, quiet atmosphere, high quality food and decent entertainment, Royal Caribbean may not be your choice. Less
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Cabin review: PR8277 Promenade Stateroom
Reasonable size with a small seating area and a king size bed. A window to look out to the promenade was very nice. Shower stall could be a challeng for plus size people. Overall very agreeable for a cruise ship cabin.Read All Promenade Stateroom (PR) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
Cozumel in general appears more civilized and organized than the several previous ports in Jamaica, Haiti or Grand Cayman. Taxis lined up outside the port terminal with clearly listed flat rate to all destinations on the island so you can go to multiple places in one day easily and relatively cheaper than taking a tour package.
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