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This was our first cruise, intended as a 'special' to celebrate various events for us this year. We wanted to experience the mix of high-quality 'hotel' facilities along with the variety of daily locations. We built in a few days in Barcelona and would happily go back there for more. So sad to hear about the events a week later, especially as the city is so open and friendly to everyone. The Tourist Bus was an easy way to see the main features, and we stayed at the Novotel City - very handy for one of the routes, as well as other transport links (and shopping). Good value for money too. Cruising life is easy to slip into and the 'Freedom' was an excellent one to start with. We had two teenage daughters with us, and while they may not have got as much out of it as we hoped it was still worth it. Having the drinks package was a handy bonus bearing in mind the ship prices, and we were very impressed with the food - we did MTD every night in the end. I know some seasoned travellers are critical but I guess it's down to expectations. There is something about the surroundings and the service that add to the whole holiday, and the staff absolutely contributed to this. Having said that, the choice at breakfast in the Windjammer was pretty comprehensive as well. We tended to take sandwiches out with us as we weren't on board at lunchtimes. The shows were good and generally we struck a good balance between sightseeing and spending time on board. I would really recommend research on the locations as some are easier than others when trying to do your own thing. Beware that Marseille, La Spezia and Civitavecchia are commercial ports so your views are not the best. First time cruisers should probably consider organised tours if they are concerned about distance and departure times, and we found some good value ones, both through RCI (Pisa/Lucca, and Rome) and Cruising Excursions (Pompeii/Naples) where having a guide added insight. Marseille has a free shuttle bus into town if you are prepared to look for it, and Villefranche has an excellent train service to either Nice or Monaco. Gripes were probably all on day 1: getting through the terminal queue because a lot of people turn up at the same time, and then getting a table/lunch at the buffet for the same reason. After that, it all settles down and you find your own space. Other than that all very smooth and no real problems. Apart the day at sea my wife did not notice any movement of the ship. We would definitely go again, maybe not every year, but certainly as a change from the norm.

First Cruise - Great Memories

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by Kentman62

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our first cruise, intended as a 'special' to celebrate various events for us this year. We wanted to experience the mix of high-quality 'hotel' facilities along with the variety of daily locations. We built in a few days in Barcelona and would happily go back there for more. So sad to hear about the events a week later, especially as the city is so open and friendly to everyone. The Tourist Bus was an easy way to see the main features, and we stayed at the Novotel City - very handy for one of the routes, as well as other transport links (and shopping). Good value for money too.

Cruising life is easy to slip into and the 'Freedom' was an excellent one to start with. We had two teenage daughters with us, and while they may not have got as much out of it as we hoped it was still worth it. Having the drinks package was a handy bonus bearing in mind the ship prices, and we were very impressed with the food - we did MTD every night in the end. I know some seasoned travellers are critical but I guess it's down to expectations. There is something about the surroundings and the service that add to the whole holiday, and the staff absolutely contributed to this. Having said that, the choice at breakfast in the Windjammer was pretty comprehensive as well. We tended to take sandwiches out with us as we weren't on board at lunchtimes.

The shows were good and generally we struck a good balance between sightseeing and spending time on board. I would really recommend research on the locations as some are easier than others when trying to do your own thing. Beware that Marseille, La Spezia and Civitavecchia are commercial ports so your views are not the best. First time cruisers should probably consider organised tours if they are concerned about distance and departure times, and we found some good value ones, both through RCI (Pisa/Lucca, and Rome) and Cruising Excursions (Pompeii/Naples) where having a guide added insight. Marseille has a free shuttle bus into town if you are prepared to look for it, and Villefranche has an excellent train service to either Nice or Monaco.

Gripes were probably all on day 1: getting through the terminal queue because a lot of people turn up at the same time, and then getting a table/lunch at the buffet for the same reason. After that, it all settles down and you find your own space. Other than that all very smooth and no real problems. Apart the day at sea my wife did not notice any movement of the ship. We would definitely go again, maybe not every year, but certainly as a change from the norm.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 9678
We all shared a balcony cabin which on first viewing seemed extremely tight for space but we coped quite easily. It seemed to be in fine condition and the balcony was definitely worth it. We spent minimal time there to be honest and hardly clashed for use of the bathroom. If we went again, I might look at separate rooms for the girls (or not taking them at all!). The staff were always very helpful and chatty (Amelia) and kept the room as tidy as they could considering we always did the opposite.
  Freedom of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    We spent three nights prior to the cruise at the Novotel City which was little out of the centre but well connected. The Tourist Bus is best to see highlights of the city if you have limited time. I also sneaked off to do the Nou Camp tour which is a must for any sports fan. We spent another morning at the beach and an afternoon shopping. We only ate out down the Poble Nou Rambla so didn't get a real feeling for the dining on offer.
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  • La Spezia (Cinque Terre)
    I booked RCI's Pisa and Lucca excursion, mainly on value for money ground. We wanted to see Pisa but couldn't face a long trip to Florence as well. They make you gather very early but I guess there's a lot of organisation going on, and it was all very easy. The guide was informative if a little over enthusiastic on the coach. She proved her worth however when going around Lucca which was an attractive walled town with narrow streets, and then Pisa itself. For us, the Leaning Tower was one of those must-see sights and it lived up to expectations. Equally amazing was the amount of other guide-led groups coming in and out of the place, each following a different coloured flag or umbrella.
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  • Marseille
    Despite advice to the contrary from one of RCI's staff, the free shuttle bus is easy to find and use, if you are prepared to walk a short way. It's quite a trek into town so some form of transport is required. Once we got our bearings at the drop-off, we then strolled past the cathedral into the Old Town to catch the Petit Train. Again, this is a great way to see part of the City in a short time and quite cheaply (8 euros each). The views from Notre Dame were amazing.
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  • Pompeii Walking Tour
    First thing - Pompeii is so extensive I'm not sure a whole day would cover it let alone a 2 hour tour. What we did get was the benefit of a guide to explain selected parts of the ruins and give greater depth to what we were looking at. I should mention the ticket office though which, for a site of such interest, is tiny and poorly arranged so allow time there. The heat can be a factor too but we seemed to be guided towards the shade when she needed to speak. On the way back we had a brief tour of Naples so realised how close the ship was to town. We then wandered back in the afternoon to look around and do a bit of shopping.
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  • Rome on Your Own
    We chose RCI's 'Navigate through Rome' tour which essentially supplied a GPS handset, recommended a route and then let you loose. Rome is such an easy city to walk through, finding shade on the way, that we covered all the features we wanted, finishing at the Colosseum. We then caught a taxi back to the Vatican. I had pre-bought tickets for 2pm but we were able to enter at 1.30pm. This was a life saver as we were advised that the normal queue was 4 hours, and it was 30 degrees plus.
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  • Vatican Museums
    Fascinating place full of interesting exhibits. We took the audioguide but the numbers of people made it difficult to stop and listen. To be fair, we had limited time before catching the bus back so had to rush things. In places the crush of the crowd was quite overwhelming and the lack of air made us want to exit as hurriedly as possible. Understandably most want to get to the Sistean Chapel as we did, however, they are making a lot of money out of this venture by seemingly not controlling the numbers and with little regard for the comfort of the visitors. I know we went a peak summer time but thank goodness we weren't there during the mid- forties temperatures.
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  • Villefranche
    We had a port cabin so the view from the balcony in the morning was worth the money. If you delay heading for the tender boat then queues are shorter, and it'a 10 minute crossing. We probably should have explored Villefranche more but I wanted to see Monaco so had researched train times. The station is easy to find and assistance was on hand for tickets. It's a very scenic journey apart from arriving in Monaco where it is all underground. Again we hunted out the Petit Train which is a decent uphill walk ( I recommend going around the headland if you can stand the steps in the final stages). It's not a long journey but for 9 euros it gives you a flavour.
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