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First, the tips: You really can have the time of your life--just remember that this is a money-making business and you are a money-spending passenger. So, spend wisely, have fun and don't presume the service is for any reason other than to get you to spend more money--either right away or on your next cruise. 1. At least one person in your party should get a Drinks package. Yes, it's price is too high. BUT, it is really a buy-down for buying other items. Ships don't let you bring on bottles of booze--but with the all-you-can-drink package, you also get discounts on bottles of wine. They have deals if you buy a second (that don't always work out--see below) have even further discounts. They keep the bottles for you, and serve them at your next meal. BUT, be aware, the staff is readily pouring the bottle to empty it so you might have to buy more. They are not helpful in trying to use that bottle for more than one meal. 2. Spend that little amount extra each day for a slightly upgraded cabin. We upgraded about 3 levels, each is a small increment--but were nowhere near the top. Just 4-5 square meters/yards more means a LOT. 3. Ask about 55+ discounts. Discounts on second person, third person, fourth person in the cabin. The cruise discounts all of them because you are basically paying for the cost of them being on board and NOT the cabin (it's already paid for by the first person). 4. Avoid longer commutes for shore excursions. The ship has to leave on time, and if there are issues with traffic, or drivers, etc., then your time at the excursion must be shortened. Remember, cruise shore excursions are just a "taste of the place", don't try to see the whole world on these things. 5. LAUNDRY services. Wait for it. There will be a day about 3-4 days in where they will wash everything you can fit into a bag for one price. It's not a big bag, but it's cheaper than if you pay on your own for each item. Also, the day after that, they offered a second bag with the first for half-price. That would have been better! It's only wash and fold, no hangars, no pressing. AND you don't actually get it back in two-days (as in the second morning), you get it back AFTER 48 hours--so it can be the morning of the third day (and we had to call for it or else would have waited until our cabin steward brought it another 5 hours later). 6. Every service you are provided is an upsell opportunity. Don't be suspicious--that is EXACTLY what the business model is. Just understand that the service person making recommendations (at the spa, the dining room, the bar, the gym) is probably being evaluated, bonused or possibly even getting a commission. So make sure you understand the pricing and exactly what you are getting. 7. Embarkation, debarkation. Follow the instructions they send you. It worked like a charm. Really do pack your day one bag with toiletries, medications, swim suit, 1 change of clothes for shipboard and even your first night of PJs. Worked like a charm! Sounds like a lot of negatives up there? So, here is the good stuff! Great facilities for just about any kind of activity. Sports, wave riding, arcade, pools, splash zones, deck chairs, table tennis, shows, ice-skating (yep), gambling, drinking, cupcakes, eat all you can find, passenger participation game shows on the on ship channel (that were hilarious) and more. We took this ship and cruise on recommendation from a seasons cruiser friend. We liked it very much overall--but some nagging issues took the "shine" off the overall experience. The crew seems to have three or four levels of service that range from "you get anything you want as long as there is an upcharge or commission involved" to "thanks for funding our cruise, we'll do what we can". We did have an upgraded cabin, with a very nice balcony (when booking this ship, there are four cabins just forward of midship on the upper decks that have extended balconies due to a Pop-out design. Watch out for the longer bus-ride shore excursions in the bigger ports (like Rome) because they take longer to get to. The time you have is shortened on both of your ends because the busses and the ship have to run. So, if there are any traffic or transportation issues they are your problem to solve and you don't get much forgiveness (the ship has to leave). I felt like we had a bait and switch experience during dinner at one point. Since you cannot bring any large quantities of wine or spirits on board (the ship builds selling this into their business model), they sell it on board to you. The prices are high, but it is a convenience to have it available. We decided to buy a bottle of champagne (getting a good discount on it due to the drinks package we purchased--which is really a buy-down of the cost), and were offered an additional discount on each bottle if we bought two. So, we did, and then we were told (after picking out a very nice champagne) that it was not available (at all), but had the distinct impression that we had found a bargain that was "too good". We were offered a "parallel" product for the same price. We accepted, but it was not of the expected quality.

Great, but Rough around Some Edges--tips for first time cruisers

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by CruiserHockey

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
First, the tips:

You really can have the time of your life--just remember that this is a money-making business and you are a money-spending passenger. So, spend wisely, have fun and don't presume the service is for any reason other than to get you to spend more money--either right away or on your next cruise.

1. At least one person in your party should get a Drinks package. Yes, it's price is too high. BUT, it is really a buy-down for buying other items. Ships don't let you bring on bottles of booze--but with the all-you-can-drink package, you also get discounts on bottles of wine. They have deals if you buy a second (that don't always work out--see below) have even further discounts. They keep the bottles for you, and serve them at your next meal. BUT, be aware, the staff is readily pouring the bottle to empty it so you might have to buy more. They are not helpful in trying to use that bottle for more than one meal.

2. Spend that little amount extra each day for a slightly upgraded cabin. We upgraded about 3 levels, each is a small increment--but were nowhere near the top. Just 4-5 square meters/yards more means a LOT.

3. Ask about 55+ discounts. Discounts on second person, third person, fourth person in the cabin. The cruise discounts all of them because you are basically paying for the cost of them being on board and NOT the cabin (it's already paid for by the first person).

4. Avoid longer commutes for shore excursions. The ship has to leave on time, and if there are issues with traffic, or drivers, etc., then your time at the excursion must be shortened. Remember, cruise shore excursions are just a "taste of the place", don't try to see the whole world on these things.

5. LAUNDRY services. Wait for it. There will be a day about 3-4 days in where they will wash everything you can fit into a bag for one price. It's not a big bag, but it's cheaper than if you pay on your own for each item. Also, the day after that, they offered a second bag with the first for half-price. That would have been better! It's only wash and fold, no hangars, no pressing. AND you don't actually get it back in two-days (as in the second morning), you get it back AFTER 48 hours--so it can be the morning of the third day (and we had to call for it or else would have waited until our cabin steward brought it another 5 hours later).

6. Every service you are provided is an upsell opportunity. Don't be suspicious--that is EXACTLY what the business model is. Just understand that the service person making recommendations (at the spa, the dining room, the bar, the gym) is probably being evaluated, bonused or possibly even getting a commission. So make sure you understand the pricing and exactly what you are getting.

7. Embarkation, debarkation. Follow the instructions they send you. It worked like a charm. Really do pack your day one bag with toiletries, medications, swim suit, 1 change of clothes for shipboard and even your first night of PJs. Worked like a charm!

Sounds like a lot of negatives up there? So, here is the good stuff! Great facilities for just about any kind of activity. Sports, wave riding, arcade, pools, splash zones, deck chairs, table tennis, shows, ice-skating (yep), gambling, drinking, cupcakes, eat all you can find, passenger participation game shows on the on ship channel (that were hilarious) and more.

We took this ship and cruise on recommendation from a seasons cruiser friend. We liked it very much overall--but some nagging issues took the "shine" off the overall experience. The crew seems to have three or four levels of service that range from "you get anything you want as long as there is an upcharge or commission involved" to "thanks for funding our cruise, we'll do what we can". We did have an upgraded cabin, with a very nice balcony (when booking this ship, there are four cabins just forward of midship on the upper decks that have extended balconies due to a Pop-out design.

Watch out for the longer bus-ride shore excursions in the bigger ports (like Rome) because they take longer to get to. The time you have is shortened on both of your ends because the busses and the ship have to run. So, if there are any traffic or transportation issues they are your problem to solve and you don't get much forgiveness (the ship has to leave).

I felt like we had a bait and switch experience during dinner at one point. Since you cannot bring any large quantities of wine or spirits on board (the ship builds selling this into their business model), they sell it on board to you. The prices are high, but it is a convenience to have it available. We decided to buy a bottle of champagne (getting a good discount on it due to the drinks package we purchased--which is really a buy-down of the cost), and were offered an additional discount on each bottle if we bought two. So, we did, and then we were told (after picking out a very nice champagne) that it was not available (at all), but had the distinct impression that we had found a bargain that was "too good". We were offered a "parallel" product for the same price. We accepted, but it was not of the expected quality.
CruiserHockey’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 8262
Big enough for three, not four. Excellent condition. The shower glass was cracked in two places upon check creating a loose three sections (broken through to both sides like cutting the glass into three parts). The small middle piece became progressively loose over day one and day two. I reported it to guest services and they fixed it the same day--replacing the glass. Pretty awesome and quick.
Plenty of storage space (don't forget to put your suitcases under the bed!).
  Freedom of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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    Benoit was a great guide! There is a Crepe place (hole in the wall) in the pedestrian tunnel near the Apple Store and Fountain. IT IS AWESOME!! I had a Ratatouille crepe with Mozzarella and Ham.
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  • Naples
    We went to Pompeii. TIP! Those people walking around asking if you want a guide are OK! But listen to them. Our guide was offering a tour for up to ten people for 140 Es. She had two, we were 3 more, and I turned around to someone speaking English behind me and asked if they wanted to go-in with us (there were 4 of them, making 9). We all said yes. We divided the fee, paid for our tickets (we paid with Credit card, the others had to pay cash to avoid too many credit cards). She took us right past the regular queue to a the group window and we were in. She was an excellent guide as I'm sure the others are too.
    HINT! You can tell if the guide is a good one right away when they take you to the group window, the ticket taker sees them coming and makes a "pained" face--because they are used to seeing your guide and they know "all the tricks' and the ticket taker is annoyed by them, but also loves them.
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    Walk around this amazing place. Eat a pizza. Go see the beach. No excusion needed here.
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