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7 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan

7 Night Southern Caribbean Cruise from San Juan

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Freedom of the Seas
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Itinerary

  • Day 1
    San Juan
  • Day 2
    St. Kitts
  • Day 3
    Antigua
  • Day 4
    St. Lucia
  • Day 5
    Barbados
  • Day 6
    Cruising
  • Day 7
    St. Maarten
  • Day 8
    San Juan

Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas - Royal Caribbean International

Pros

A dizzying number of onboard activities and top-notch entertainment ensure you'll never be bored.

Cons

The ship's central Royal Promenade is a bit like a shopping mall, and sales pitches are at every turn.

Bottom Line

Despite its age, the ship still shines, and there's something for every age group.


Cruise Reviews

3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We choose this cruise for the ports, as we have never sailed the southern Caribbean, and this was our honeymoon. We have sailed with Royal in the past, we got married on Harmony of the seas, and we have sailed with Anthem, and Explorer of ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the ports, as we have never sailed the southern Caribbean, and this was our honeymoon. We have sailed with Royal in the past, we got married on Harmony of the seas, and we have sailed with Anthem, and Explorer of the seas. We have also sailed Celebrity, and Disney. We have always had a splendid time on Royal thus far, and have sailed out of New Jersey, and Florida where embarkation is a breeze, and the terminals are immaculate. However, upon our arrival we were not surprised at how small this port is, but rather how the staff at the port treated the guests. We first got dropped off at the wrong terminal, and when asking a staff member, he just looked at us and pointed towards the other terminal.We walked through hoards of people to get to where we needed to be. Once at the correct terminal, we asked one of the gentleman with a "porter" t shirt on where we could put our luggage. Now, I may be spoiled as I have only sailed out of New Jersey, and Florida, but when you are sailing out of those places the porter takes your bag, places it in the appropriate place, and you are free to go on your merry way into the terminal. This was not like that at all. It was busy, rushed, hot, and the porter told us we had to walk all of our luggage to a spot that was not clearly marked at all. He said "over there, by orange poles." The different locations for certain areas of the ship weren't clearly marked at all, and trying to lug our bags clear to the other end of the terminal was frustrating. We asked several people who were wearing the port t-shirts if they would take our bag, and they looked at us as if we were bothering them. We continued on....We finally reached the spot our luggage was to be placed at, and there were about 8 grown men standing around one tiny desk having a grand ol time talking amongst themselves while a few guests were waiting to be waited on. they finally turn around take the bags from all of us place it on the cart directly behind them, and then say " we accept tips." I was DUMBFOUNDED!!! What am I supposed to tip you for? you did absolutely nothing for us at all except place our luggage on the cart. I couldve done that, since I have already done the whole job of lugging my luggage the entirety of the terminal. We tipped them none the less, because we didnt want to get to our room later that night and find that our luggage had mysteriously disappeared. After that, we got into the terminal, and it was pretty smooth sailing from there on out, except the fact that we quickly found out we were in the minority this sailing. Which whatever, that's fine, but I found a lot of the other passengers to be rude, pushy, and loud. A few times when we were in line for pizza at Sorrento's, or in line for a show, some of the guests would be in line, and then let a few dozen family members in line ahead of us. That was just plain rude, and inconsiderate. The Quest show was a MESS!!! we usually LOVE the Quest show, and usually have a really good time, however the night of the game show people were bringing in small children to watch and hang out. We were informed that day in English, and in Spanish that this was an ADULTS only show, but here we were women pushing crew members out of the way to get to the show with their small children. I just don't understand, I think that there should have been some sort of security at the door letting people in, and turning away guests with small children. Another thing we were somewhat upset about was the fact that the Love and marriage game show was only shown in Spanish. I get that the majority of the passengers were Hispanic, but it would have been nice to have that show in English as well as we really love to watch it. Good things to note, the ports were AMAZING!! we visited Curacao, Aruba, Antigua (supposed to be Bonaire, but was canceled three weeks out.) And St. Maarten. There were so many lovely crew members that we met especially our room attendant Orhiannah who was so sweet, and made us feel really at home on the cruise. We also met a sweet woman in the gift shop, who we made friends with and she sent us a sweet card congratulating us on our marriage. Then we had a cruise long friend in one of the art dealers Garneth, who we would talk to on a nightly basis. He was awesome, we would talk, and talk, and talk, and he just made our night every time we spoke to him. It was like seeing a friend you hadnt seen in a while and catching up. We really enjoyed his company. MDR food was FANTASTIC every meal we had in there was always very delicious. We ate in Chops and as always it was superb. We also dined in Giovanni's, but it was just ok, the desserts were the best though. The next cruise manager was not helpful at all, she acted like she couldn't be bothered with us, and also the loyalty desk manager was the same way. I don't know what their issues were, but we just felt like they could care less about us. over all it was a good cruise, we enjoyed the crew members listed above, and the food, but I dont think we will sail royal out of San Juan again unless its an amazing deal. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose Thanksgiving week because my DH and SIL’s DH have very busy schedules and there wasn’t much going on due to the holiday. Our balcony cabin 8356 was very nice. Good closet space. Dining room food and staff was great ... Read More
We chose Thanksgiving week because my DH and SIL’s DH have very busy schedules and there wasn’t much going on due to the holiday. Our balcony cabin 8356 was very nice. Good closet space. Dining room food and staff was great too. Marian and Ya were wonderful. The 3 shows we saw were very good. Unfortunately too many of the other passengers were rude, loud and inconsiderate. People screaming all the time and running you down. Literally! Even in the elevators. Playing loud music on the balconies and even by the pool with the ships music and live bands. This was our 2nd cruise out of San Juan and the first one on Jewel of the Seas was polar opposite of this one as far as clientele and overall relaxed feeling of the ship. We will likely not go in another from San Juan. It’s too bad because the uteneraries are great. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Freedom of the Seas review Mediocre Experience – Won’t be cruising RCCL again anytime soon (after 9 cruises, 3 with RCCL). We were on the same ship July 2009 – what a fabulous experience!! Delicious food, fantastic ... Read More
Freedom of the Seas review Mediocre Experience – Won’t be cruising RCCL again anytime soon (after 9 cruises, 3 with RCCL). We were on the same ship July 2009 – what a fabulous experience!! Delicious food, fantastic service, outstanding entertainment, fun activities. There were 10 in our group, and a good time was had by all. This time, it was the exact opposite experience. While there were a few things that were excellent (details below), overall we were very disappointed. EMBARKATION: Quick and easy. Arrived at the terminal at 12:30; on board in less than 10 min. Hint: use Uber in San Juan; ¼ the price of taxi’s. Yes, they can go to the cruise piers. DEBARKATION: What a mess! No organization whatsoever. We did self-assist (carried all of our bags); had no idea where to go when we walked off the ship – bizarre twisting long lines of people in the middle of the terminal; staff yelling at you to get in line, but no clear lines marked. Exact opposite of embarkation. 30 min from walking off ship to getting into a taxi. TAXI TO/FROM SAN JUAN AIRPORT: Getting a taxi was a fantastic experience!! Run by PR authorities. Quick, simple, they tell you exactly how much $$ to your destination before you get into taxi, and hand you a piece of paper with fare written down! I travel extensively around the USA and Europe, and this is RARELY seen. Love it; wish more cities did this. ROOM: Balcony. Fine. Clean. Bathroom showing age (mirror glazing chipped off in several places). Had room in center of “the hump” (aft, port side, room 8638); it is a COMPLETE myth that these cabins have a larger room or larger balcony – NOT TRUE. Never met our cabin attendant (in 8 previous cruises, we met the cabin attendance the first 5 min we were in the room!); he kept our room clean, but I have zero idea what he looked like. I do not understand the complaints about soft beds – our bed was very sturdy – certainly not soft or hard – somewhere in the middle. When we got back home, we realized our brand new Tempurpedic extra firm mattress was 10x harder than our bed on Freedom. DINING: 1. Main dining room: mediocre food. Service was OK (Diana was smiling and friendly, but we rarely saw her after we ordered; saw the maitre’d more times than we saw our server). I love food – all food! – but everything we had in the main dining room (breakfast & dinner) was just so-so. If I had been served ANY of Freedom’s food at a restaurant in my local city, I would never return to that restaurant – it was that bad/bland/mediocre. My husband (who will eat ANYTHING and never complains) felt the same way, as did the couple that went with us, and two other couples we shared a table with – none of us were happy with any of the food (appetizers, soups, salads, main courses and desserts). Every night, one of the couples at our table demanded a different entrée after taking a bite of what they ordered – it was THAT bad. RCCL no longer has themed nights in the Main Dining Room (remember Italian night, French night Caribbean night, etc?). While the menu changes only slightly each night (only two new items on the menu each night), everything else is the same EVERY NIGHT. UGH! And lobster night – that is now a joke: it was the next-to-last night; my lobster tail was less than 3 oz (I got 3 tiny bites out of it); if you want a second lobster tail, it will cost you $29.95(!) (remember the days when they brought around extra lobster tails and practically threw them at you – those days are GONE, my friends). None of the desserts were worth the calories – and this is coming from someone with a serious sweet tooth; I took 1 bite of my dessert each night, then pushed it away. 2. Windjammer buffet: 98% of the food was mediocre. What did they do right? Super crisp bacon on the breakfast buffet, and the best fried chicken I’ve ever had (this, coming from a properly raised Southern woman), served at lunch on a sea day. 3. Chops Grill: We ate here the first night, and the last night. Everything the first night was excellent – all of the food (except the desserts) and the service. The steaks and salmon were cooked to perfection (nice crisp seared exterior, and the perfect medium-rare interior). All of the sides were excellent (asparagus, sautéed mushrooms, mashed potatoes). The desserts were disappointing – the key lime meringue pie was bitter (this is what happens when bottled lime juice is used, as opposed to freshly squeezed limes), and the red velvet cake was bone-dry (i.e., overbaked). The last night, everything (except the steak, which was again cooked to perfection) was dreadful. The salmon was overcooked, dry and no seared crust; the lobster bisque was burnt; the crab cakes were made with the fake “sea legs” (RCCL – SERIOUSLY?!? I would expect this crap from my local Red Lobster, not a specialty dining venue that cost me $35 pp); the asparagus was undercooked; the truffled French fries had zero truffles on them; the red velvet cake was still bone-dry (I have no idea why my friends insisted on having it again, after complaining about it all week); and the chocolate lava cake was overbaked (hence, no lava). Just awful! If we had been served the last night’s meal on the first night, we would not have returned. 4. Giovanni’s Table: Hit and (mostly) miss. I’ve spent the last 10 years travelling through Italy extensively, so I know how real Italian food should taste. Terrible service – sat at our table for 20 min before the waiter arrived (and we were there at 6:30 when they opened; so they can’t use “we were busy” as an excuse). The Spaghetti Bolognese was outstanding – the best I’ve ever had; I’d kill for their recipe (it was THAT good). The Linguini Carbonara was a joke – almost no sauce (bone-dry) and maybe a ½ piece of bacon in the entire bowl. The Gorgonzola Gnocchi had maybe a teaspoon of gorgonzola cheese in the sauce – so it was very bland. Thank goodness the Tiramisu was excellent! However, the dark chocolate cake had zero flavour (just enough cocoa powder added to give it a dark color, but not enough to give it even a hint of chocolate flavour) and was bone-dry (i.e., yet another piece of cake that was overbaked). My husband took the All Access tour. During the tour, the group went through the Galley and was told that all RCCL cooks (I don’t dare call them chefs because that would most definitely be an insult to chefs everywhere) must have at least 3-years experience at a 5-star restaurant before being considered for a job with RCCL. HAHAHAHAHA – what a joke. That is either a whopper of a lie told by the RCCL staffer giving the tour, or being a dish washer qualifies as the “3-years experience at a 5-star restaurant” … RCCL food does NOT – I repeat, NOT – reflect anything resembling 5-star cuisine. 5. Room Service: we absolutely REFUSE to pay the $7.95 room service fee (the only exclusion is coffee and/or continental breakfast), so we ordered coffee and steamed milk to be delivered to our room every morning; we enjoyed the coffee on our balcony; then went down to the main dining room for breakfast (Windjammer is INSANE for breakfast). One morning, the coffee wasn’t delivered; when we left to head out for breakfast, the room service order form was still handing on our door – no excuse for Room Service not getting it – the deadline is 2am and we put the form out at 10:15pm. What I REALLY didn’t appreciate about Room Service? The attendant who brought our coffee (someone different each morning) would linger in the room for an extra 15-20 secs, like they were waiting for me to hand them a tip – sorry, RCCL now forces me to pay a gratuity per day – get your tip from them!!!!! There is no Izumi on board the Freedom (yet it is listed on the ship’s web site). There is no Starbucks on board the Freedom (again, as listed on the web site). No problem – this saved me at least $40 over the week. ENTERTAINMENT: Mostly Good. We’re the type of nerds that enjoy the trivia games; 3-4 of those each day. There was an ‘action comedian’ in the main theatre one night – we went with the expectation that it would be a cheesy act, but big surprise – he was HILARIOUS and very good at what he does. RCCL now shows movies around the pool at night; decent selection, and great weather for doing this. ‘Game shows’ (Love & Marriage, Finish The Lyrics, Lip Sync Battle, etc) were lots of fun. The big disappointment – anything involving the Royal Caribbean dancers, singers and ‘orchestra’; the two female lead singers were constantly trying to out-sing one another, but in the process they only embarrassed themselves by sounding cheesy and pitchy. The first night’s show was a Broadway revue – so-so; the last night’s “Once Upon A Time” show was so awful, we walked out after the first song (we just couldn’t take the screeching of the singing voices). Basically, it was like watching a re-run of “The Solid Gold Dancers” (if you’re old enough to get this reference, you now understand just how bad it really was). Back in 2009, everything that went on in the Arcadia Theater was outstanding … once again, RCCL disappoints. SHORE EXCURSIONS: As always, the ship charges way too much and you get way too little. On Curacao, we walked around a bit (sorry, but all Caribbean islands look the same; we naively hoped the Southern Caribbean would be different), and then decided to hire a local driver for a 2-hour island tour - $20pp. He did a great job. One of our stops (for about 10 min) was Cabana Beach … trust me – if you’re reading this review, and one of your stops is Curacoa, skip everything else on the island and have a taxi take you directly to Cabana Beach – it is so beautiful. Cost $3.50 pp to get on the beach; there are many, many thatched umbrellas and chairs, warm water, soft sand, and several bars and restaurants. If we had seen Cabana Beach at 9am, rather than 2:30pm – we would have stayed all day. On Aruba, the men booked the JetLev excursion for the morning. Look it up on YouTube. They really enjoyed it, although both agreed the $189 price tag was too steep for a 15 min session. This took place on Palm Beach. I read so many great things about Palm Beach before we left, but was underwhelmed when we got there; it’s about a 3-mile stretch of nothing but one hotel chain after another. Looks just like any other beach strip in the USA (Virginia Beach, Miami, Ocean City) – meh! In the afternoon, we did the undersea submarine; it was OK, but certainly not worth $66pp. On St Kitts, I booked a private 4-hour full island tour with Beulah, who owns Welcome Tours (you can find her on TripAdvisor and at tourstkittsandnevis.com). She was delightful to deal with via e-mail, and even more delightful in person. She met us when we got off the ship, turned us over to one of her drivers (Moschina) and we had a FANTASTIC day. It was the four in our group, plus another couple from another ship. We were having so much fun, the tour ended up being nearly 6 hours, yet we were only charged the originally agreed amount of $46pp. Beulah, Moschina and Welcome Tours is highly recommended. On St Thomas, we booked the shore excursion through the ship to go snorkelling on St John’s (this was our 4th time on St Thomas). The $44pp was actually worth it – nice boat ride to St John’s, snorkel equipment included, a bus driver who gave us a mini-tour on the way to our beach (even letting us get out and take photos along the way); it was so nice to get way from the hordes of rude passengers on the ship. We had about 2 ½ hours at the beach – perfect amount of time for us. Passengers: Unfortunately, RCCL is now catering to the lowest common denominator. A good portion of the passengers were rude, pushy and loud. My husband is the easiest going person I know; in 28 years together, I’ve only heard him raise his voice twice … he raised his voice a third time during our cruise on Freedom. One night in the Arcadia Theater, a group of women (7 or 8) sat in the row behind us and talked NON-STOP. After about 20 min of this, my husband turned around the yelled at them to “shut up or get out”. Imagine my shock … but he WAS absolutely justified!! I travel a lot for business (average of one week per month, for the last 20 years), and sadly this is happening more and more everywhere. People are so inconsiderate of one another and of their environment. I am growing tired of spending my hard-earned money to vacation with “the masses”. Some of the reviews of this ship on this web site stated problems with the Puerto Rican passengers – it’s not just the Puerto Ricans folks; I saw passengers of all shapes, sizes, sexes, and nationalities who were rude and disrespectful. So will we book another RCCL cruise? Not at this time. One of our dinner mates (main dining room) summed it up perfectly: Royal Caribbean’s prices have remained basically the same over the last 10 years … but the quality of what you get has been drastically reduced. Nailed it! We had a long talk on the way home, and we’ve decided that we’ll take a chance on an upscale cruise line for our next cruise. Probably Viking – they don’t allow anyone under 19 years of age on their cruises; all rooms are balconies; with the exception of hard liquor and spa treatments – everything is inclusive (water, soft drinks, beer & wine at lunch and dinner, specialty restaurants, wifi, even one shore excursion at each por)t. By the time you look at how much you spend to upgrade to a balcony, the occasional glass of beer (hubby) or wine (me), specialty restaurants, and shore excursions – we can cruise on Viking for only a few dollars more. I really don’t plan to return to RCCL unless I read many, many, many rave reviews … good luck with that, RCCL. Bye-bye (said in my best David Spade flight attendant voice). Read Less
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