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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


Freedom of the Seas

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.0
2,294 reviews
Why Choose Freedom of the Seas?

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

2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We had a great cruise on the Freedom of the Seas sailing from San Juan on September 29. I'm currently sitting in the airport lounge writing this review so that it is all fresh in my head. My wife and I spent two days in San Juan in ... Read More
We had a great cruise on the Freedom of the Seas sailing from San Juan on September 29. I'm currently sitting in the airport lounge writing this review so that it is all fresh in my head. My wife and I spent two days in San Juan in an Airbnb prior to the cruise. When pricing the cruise, the flights were about the same from PHL to SJU as they were to MIA or FLL. That being said, it seemed like a no brainer to get a few extra "port days" and leave from PR. EMBARKATION We arrived on embarkation day via TAXI at around 1230pm. Bags went with the porter and we got in line. Check in was a breeze. We hit the Duty Free for some libations. Getting on the ship was easy. We hit the Windjammer for lunch. I will say that the upsell to specialty dining on embarkation day is a little rough. We must have been pitched 3 or 4 times during our lunch. It does seem a little insulting since we just sat down after paying several thousand dollars for a cruise and now we're being asked to pay more. Nonetheless, we had a good lunch and the rooms were ready by 1:30pm. THE ROOM We met our cabin attendant De De for balcony room 8216. EXCELLENT room, as it is the forward most balcony on the deck. There was an entire glass "wall" where the divider would be, giving us a tremendous view of the boat moving forward. Only warning about the room... the bed is HARD. Like... REAL hard. Luckily we were so tired every night and just passed out. The shower was A+... great pressure and HOT. THE FOOD Our only other cruise experience was about 5 years ago on Norwegian. Our dining room experience then was mediocre at best. We expected the same on Freedom. BOY were we wrong! We had MyTime dining and ate in the main dining room 5/7 nights (one in the buffet and the other at Chops for our anniversary). I was SUPER impressed with the food. Steaks cooked perfectly, excellent appetizers, etc. The service was phenomenal. We had Makram and Delly as our waiters, and both got to know us personally and would bring our drinks without us asking. Truly made us feel like family. The Windjammer was pretty good. Crowded. Room Service breakfast was good also. We used it 4 times, each time paying the extra $10 for a real breakfast. We ate on our balcony which was awesome. Chops was incredible. So good. THE ENTERTAINMENT We only went to three shows, two comedians and the 'Once Upon a Time' show on the last night. AWESOME. Super impressive. We're 30 going on 80 so we were in bed by 10pm every night, so unfortunately I don't have anything to add for the late night stuff. THE SHIP We loved the ship for its size and family atmosphere. She is a bit worn, though. Carpets have some wear and tear, some chipping of the paint... etc. Don't expect a brand new ship. PORTS St. Thomas was a lot of fun. We rented a scooter. DO NOT DO THIS unless you are an avoid motorcycler. Also keep in mind that the FOTS docks at a port away from the other ships. The main port town was CLOSED on the day that we went since there weren't any other ships. The highlight of this port stop was Magens bay. We try to avoid major tourist spots (lol... like I'm not a tourist), however this was the most beautiful beach. The pelicans are CRAZY... and worth the price of admission to watch them hunt. Curacao was far and away our favorite. We rented a car from ADVANCE car rental. Do it. $75 for a car, GPS and a cell phone, drop off and pick up at the MEGA PIER. We hit a few beaches, including Playa Porta Marie (WILD PIGS), Playa Grandi (swim with TURTLES!) and Playa Knip. All beautiful. We bought our own snorkel gear prior to the trip. Highly recommend as we didn't see a whole lot of rental spots. The town is full of great color. Aruba was OK. Rainy day. We rented a car at the pier and hit a few beaches. St. Martin was kind of a miss. We rented a car here as well (Coastal Car Rental... good experience). The weather was bleh and traffic was bad. My suggestion is to take the $7 water taxi to the main town of Phillipsburg and go to the Lazy Lizard. Great food. $20 for an umbrella, two chairs and 6 beers. Nik the owner is a very nice guy. DEBARKATION We did the express debarkation with self luggage. Easy. Off the ship and through customs in about 20 minutes. We took a taxi to the airport and rented a car from Enterprise for $30. We needed a place to keep our luggage and wanted to explore Old San Juan for another day. FELLOW GUESTS INCREDIBLE. I don't know why I was surprised (ignorance), but I'd estimate 60% of the passengers were Puerto Ricans. SO MUCH FUN. So many large families traveling together. So much laughter and Boricua pride. The PR children were so well behaved and polite. My wife and I mentioned on more than one occasion that we want to cruise out of San Juan more just to have some PR culture in our lives. OVERALL Great cruise. Excellent service. Phenomenal food. Would cruise the FOTS again in a heartbeat. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Unless you really need the room don’t book the grand “family” suite. Not grand in any sense of the word. Located amongst the cheapest cabins on the ship, this “suite” offers nothing in the way of enhanced ... Read More
Unless you really need the room don’t book the grand “family” suite. Not grand in any sense of the word. Located amongst the cheapest cabins on the ship, this “suite” offers nothing in the way of enhanced decor or amenities. Other than access to the concierge club and a nice big living room, this room is nothing special. Hearing our screaming drunk neighbors all night long, long walks from our room to anywhere else on the ship and 15 bug head to toe bites last night (while in bed!). Again, other than the concierge in the concierge club there was no recognition of us being suite guests. I will never book another royal Caribbean family suite. And the pool scene on ocean days is a nightmare. Wall to wall people. I elected to stay in the cabin to escape the mob scene. I do recommend chefs table. Quite nice. This ship is just too big to be fun. I strongly recommend RC’s smaller ships. Or sail on celebrity instead. Much, much nicer! Just Disappointed Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
I traveled on Freedom of the Seas, Sept. 22, 2018. I now read similar reviews/complaints and wonder if their corporate executives have lost their minds. This was my 26th cruise/and 2nd time on Freedom (2013 & 2018). We chose this ... Read More
I traveled on Freedom of the Seas, Sept. 22, 2018. I now read similar reviews/complaints and wonder if their corporate executives have lost their minds. This was my 26th cruise/and 2nd time on Freedom (2013 & 2018). We chose this sailing, to help bolster the economy in SJU, and thought less children might be on board (w/school in session) and its Southern Caribbean itinerary. Instead, it was the daycare cruise from Hell. Now, I read (online) if ships sailing out of SJU-aren't going out full-they give extremely low rates to the local families, to fill it. These passengers ran havoc-pushing and shoving- at elevators-food & drink areas-and children ran unsupervised and out of control. The entertainment was so upset by uncontrolled screaming children, they were making comments, while on mike. It could be said, "there's nothing they can do to control this" but, there are no boundaries or rules in place, except: Children under 17 should be back in there cabins by 1 a.m. Really? That's it? I saw little ones in ship bars until the wee hours; while parents partied, too drunk from the never-ending liquor packages. The ships TV was a great example of RC's 'focus' with their over 6 solicitation channels. It was all about getting passengers to buy jewelry, excursions, or future cruises. Subtlety, is no longer an RC virtue. And I've never been so "nickled and dimed" to death. With very little TV (and I refuse to include cartoon channels) we could pay $11.99 'per movie'. Room service meant spending an additional $7.95 (per room service) PLUS 18% gratuity. And I always looked forward to sleeping/lulled by the movement of a ship. That was impossible. These beds felt like I was on top of a table. And if by chance we did fall asleep-the drunks were screaming and laughing down the hallways. The staff did what they could, but they also watched in despair, as people ran wild. Fights broke out on the promenade (70's party night). Drunk tempers flared, while children watched. No standards, guidelines, or rules in place. The food in the dining room's also become uneatable. The first night I ordered prime rib (requested med/rare). It came out gray, cold, dry, w/gravy and a full sprig of raw rosemary 'shoved in it'. We ate in the dining room just a few times (hoping they'd redeem themselves). It blew our minds when the crab cakes were made with fake crab meat. I understand they think people have no palates, or might be too dumb/drunk to know the difference..but they'd be wrong. Many of us talked, complained, or discussed the food and our disappointments. When your buffet is better than your dining room-that's pretty sad. And is this happening because they hoped we'd pay more to upgrade to their food packages? And when we're already billed almost $15 a day (for tipping-regardless of service) why are we receiving additional envelops? If I'd received exceptional service, I'd make sure those individuals were compensated. Instead; we were made to feel we were not doing 'our part' for their contracted staff. The cruise staff appeared to have no authority. This might also be why (during our Aruba excursion) a couple brought a toddler on a 50 ft. snorkeling wreck. This catamaran staff had to babysit, while the mom & dad swam. Evidently they didn't want to pay for the ships daycare. Over sixty people were in the water, not monitored properly, because the staff were babysitting. The RC cruise line should have implemented passenger policies, as well as for their excursion providers. And each day was a freaking 'shell game' (when on an island) as to where the towel stand would be: on the dock/ somewhere else/ or on deck 3 & 11. Everything was a crap shoot-with no direction. And RC might respond, "you should've picked a higher ship class". But, I would reply, "YOU are not living up to your stated brand and name. Lastly, this is an example of what we passengers dealt with daily. I was in the solarium hot tub. A group of 12 young adults (with food & drinks) sat along the half moon, and on top of our belongings. I got out to get my things from under a young woman. She didn't speak English and would not move, so I had to pull my things out from under her butt. Another couple got out, and walked over. The husband looked at my belongings (now in my arms) gagging and pointing. There was period blood on my things. We watched as this girl got into the hot tub, with her group, and ran off those who'd been in it. Royal Caribbean might believe all that matters is their bottom line, but slowly, those who've supported their brand, are going to stop sailing their ships. Read Less
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