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Having cruised exclusively with Royal Caribbean 11 times I know what to expect when I board a Royal Caribbean ship. We have been fortunate throughout our voyages to encounter many exemplary crew members who strive to make our cruise vacation even better than the last. We have tempered our expectations enough to know what is average service and what is exemplary service. This being our 3rd time on our favorite ship, Freedom of the Seas, our expectations were a little bit higher as we have always had unbelievably good service and experiences from all the people on the ship. Unfortunately, the actual experience fell short of our expectations in many areas. Dining It was somewhat comforting to board a ship in another part of the world and see the menu in the Main Dining Room that we’ve become accustom to. This has become predictable and boring though. It would be nice to have a little bit of a shake up on the menu and introduce some new starters and entrees. Our wait staff seemed very overworked. Our waiter and his assistant worked very hard, but due to the large number of tables in their section that seemed to come in around the same time, we had little interactions with them outside of taking our orders and dropping off our food. They tried very hard but a more personalized service would have been possible if they had a 2-3 less tables to work. Stateroom We are not sure what to think about our stateroom attendant. There were positives and negatives. Having sailed in junior suites before, we understand that there are very few perks. We walked into our stateroom and had our usual 2 bottles of water for the suite as well as the coke and water we receive from being Crown & Anchor Emerald Members, however we also had a plate of cookies waiting for us. Two days later, we received a tray of cookies in our stateroom with 4 more water bottles. Finally, on the 2nd formal night, we received a plate of treats in our stateroom. This was a nice touch and was appreciated, but having not received such treatment before, we were confused as to if this was a nice gesture, or something for which we would later be charged. We were not pleased with the cleanliness or maintenance of the stateroom bathroom upon arrival. When we opened our bathroom cabinets, we found a few bobby pins and a used shower cap left over from previous cruisers as well as a wet washrag in the shower. Our toilet had an unusual odor coming from it and did not work normally. It completely failed 3 days into the cruise and maintenance stated they came out to fix it. It worked sporadically after they came out and flat out failed again on the last night. Our stateroom attendant also used stained and dirty linens to make our towel animals as well as a sheet on our bed that had a small blood stain on it which was never changed. Entertainment The production and ice shows are great, however they are very old. The shows are the same as they were when we had our honeymoon cruise on Freedom 10 years ago. I would go see them if you're on Freedom for the first or second time, otherwise find something else to do. Ports of Call We booked this cruise with the intention of sightseeing as opposed to our normal mantra of relaxing in the Caribbean. It made for a very busy week. Overall the ports were nice, but those billed as major cities really were not even close to the port area. Rome is an hour by train from Civitavecchia. The train is easily accessible by bus via the drop off point from the cruise bus. Florence / Pisa was billed as a stop, however it was at least 2 hours by train each way from La Spezia to Florence and an hour to Pisa. There was just not enough time in port to make it to Florence unless you booked shore excursions or private transport. Nice was easily accessible via a 20 minute train ride from the Villefranche port, however be aware of the train schedules when venturing to Nice. We arrived to the train station just as it was pulling away, and the next train was not for over an hour. The walk from the pier to the city center of Toulon is quite far, about a mile and a half. There was a road train that would take you to the city center and back for a few euro. I would use that option next time. We did not care for Naples but also went into it with a bit more of a closed mind as multiple crew members including the captain and our waiter giving us warnings on the city before arrival. There is graffiti everywhere, the traffic is horrendous, and the mopeds are potentially deadly. The pizza was good. Overall I didn't feel particularly unsafe, however my head was more on a swivel than it was anywhere else on the cruise. Crown & Anchor We were the most disappointed by the Crown & Anchor Society on this cruise. We only received one of our emerald perks without asking, the welcome beverage. We did not have our welcome letter in our stateroom that stated our coupons. We also did not receive our invitation for the loyalty party. We wanted to speak with the loyalty ambassador about this, however her hours were so limited that it was nearly impossible to see her. When we finally found a time that she was staffing her desk she gave us our coupon letters and told us that we missed the loyalty party as it happened the previous day. She said she would do something to make it up to us, specifically mentioning a bottle of Champagne. We never received anything in the stateroom, not even a note apologizing for the oversight. We have been 100% Loyal to Royal. This was a milestone cruise for us as we accumulated enough cruise points to attain diamond status for our next cruise, yet it was a cruise where we felt like our loyalty was not valued at all.

Whirlwind week seeing Europe, Disappointingly average cruise

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by bartel11

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Having cruised exclusively with Royal Caribbean 11 times I know what to expect when I board a Royal Caribbean ship.

We have been fortunate throughout our voyages to encounter many exemplary crew members who strive to make our cruise vacation even better than the last. We have tempered our expectations enough to know what is average service and what is exemplary service.

This being our 3rd time on our favorite ship, Freedom of the Seas, our expectations were a little bit higher as we have always had unbelievably good service and experiences from all the people on the ship. Unfortunately, the actual experience fell short of our expectations in many areas.

Dining

It was somewhat comforting to board a ship in another part of the world and see the menu in the Main Dining Room that we’ve become accustom to. This has become predictable and boring though. It would be nice to have a little bit of a shake up on the menu and introduce some new starters and entrees.

Our wait staff seemed very overworked. Our waiter and his assistant worked very hard, but due to the large number of tables in their section that seemed to come in around the same time, we had little interactions with them outside of taking our orders and dropping off our food. They tried very hard but a more personalized service would have been possible if they had a 2-3 less tables to work.

Stateroom

We are not sure what to think about our stateroom attendant. There were positives and negatives. Having sailed in junior suites before, we understand that there are very few perks. We walked into our stateroom and had our usual 2 bottles of water for the suite as well as the coke and water we receive from being Crown & Anchor Emerald Members, however we also had a plate of cookies waiting for us. Two days later, we received a tray of cookies in our stateroom with 4 more water bottles. Finally, on the 2nd formal night, we received a plate of treats in our stateroom. This was a nice touch and was appreciated, but having not received such treatment before, we were confused as to if this was a nice gesture, or something for which we would later be charged.

We were not pleased with the cleanliness or maintenance of the stateroom bathroom upon arrival. When we opened our bathroom cabinets, we found a few bobby pins and a used shower cap left over from previous cruisers as well as a wet washrag in the shower. Our toilet had an unusual odor coming from it and did not work normally. It completely failed 3 days into the cruise and maintenance stated they came out to fix it. It worked sporadically after they came out and flat out failed again on the last night. Our stateroom attendant also used stained and dirty linens to make our towel animals as well as a sheet on our bed that had a small blood stain on it which was never changed.

Entertainment

The production and ice shows are great, however they are very old. The shows are the same as they were when we had our honeymoon cruise on Freedom 10 years ago. I would go see them if you're on Freedom for the first or second time, otherwise find something else to do.

Ports of Call

We booked this cruise with the intention of sightseeing as opposed to our normal mantra of relaxing in the Caribbean. It made for a very busy week.

Overall the ports were nice, but those billed as major cities really were not even close to the port area. Rome is an hour by train from Civitavecchia. The train is easily accessible by bus via the drop off point from the cruise bus.

Florence / Pisa was billed as a stop, however it was at least 2 hours by train each way from La Spezia to Florence and an hour to Pisa. There was just not enough time in port to make it to Florence unless you booked shore excursions or private transport.

Nice was easily accessible via a 20 minute train ride from the Villefranche port, however be aware of the train schedules when venturing to Nice. We arrived to the train station just as it was pulling away, and the next train was not for over an hour.

The walk from the pier to the city center of Toulon is quite far, about a mile and a half. There was a road train that would take you to the city center and back for a few euro. I would use that option next time.

We did not care for Naples but also went into it with a bit more of a closed mind as multiple crew members including the captain and our waiter giving us warnings on the city before arrival. There is graffiti everywhere, the traffic is horrendous, and the mopeds are potentially deadly. The pizza was good. Overall I didn't feel particularly unsafe, however my head was more on a swivel than it was anywhere else on the cruise.

Crown & Anchor

We were the most disappointed by the Crown & Anchor Society on this cruise. We only received one of our emerald perks without asking, the welcome beverage. We did not have our welcome letter in our stateroom that stated our coupons. We also did not receive our invitation for the loyalty party. We wanted to speak with the loyalty ambassador about this, however her hours were so limited that it was nearly impossible to see her. When we finally found a time that she was staffing her desk she gave us our coupon letters and told us that we missed the loyalty party as it happened the previous day. She said she would do something to make it up to us, specifically mentioning a bottle of Champagne. We never received anything in the stateroom, not even a note apologizing for the oversight. We have been 100% Loyal to Royal. This was a milestone cruise for us as we accumulated enough cruise points to attain diamond status for our next cruise, yet it was a cruise where we felt like our loyalty was not valued at all.
bartel11’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Service
Onboard Experience

Cabin Review

Junior Suite
Cabin JS 9638
Stateroom
We are not sure what to think about our stateroom attendant. There were positives and negatives. Having sailed in junior suites before, we understand that there are very few perks. We walked into our stateroom and had our usual 2 bottles of water for the suite as well as the coke and water we receive from being Crown & Anchor Emerald Members, however we also had a plate of cookies waiting for us. Two days later, we received a tray of cookies in our stateroom with 4 more water bottles. Finally, on the 2nd formal night, we received a plate of treats in our stateroom. This was a nice touch and was appreciated, but having not received such treatment before, we were confused as to if this was a nice gesture, or something for which we would later be charged.

The stateroom itself was large and comfortable with a very nice balcony. The decorations were tasteful and we spent a lot of time relaxing both in the room and on the balcony

We were not pleased with the cleanliness or maintenance of the stateroom bathroom upon arrival. When we opened our bathroom cabinets, we found a few bobby pins and a used shower cap left over from previous cruisers as well as a wet washrag in the shower. Our toilet had an unusual odor coming from it and did not work normally. It completely failed 3 days into the cruise and maintenance stated they came out to fix it. It worked sporadically after they came out and flat out failed again on the last night. Our stateroom attendant also used stained and dirty linens to make our towel animals as well as a sheet on our bed that had a small blood stain on it which was never changed.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Barcelona
    Barcelona is a wonderful city full of architecture and and history.

    We spent 3 days here prior to the cruise sightseeing. We used the BusTuristic Hop on Hop off tour and were generally happy with their product. The only thing we were not happy with was the stop for Park Guell. Be prepared for a 25-45 minute walk uphill to get to the park entrance from the bus stop.

    Also, make sure you get your tickets for entry to La Sagrada Familia and the Monument Zone at Park Guell ahead of time. When we arrived at these sights, tickets were either sold out or the times available for entry were late in the evening.
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  • La Spezia (Cinque Terre)
    La Spezia is billed as Pisa / Florence but it should not be. The only way you are getting to Florence in the time allotted is to take a shipboard shore excursion or arrange for a driver. The train station in La Spezia is quite far from the pier and is an hour to Pisa each way. Florence was 2.5 - 3 hours each way. It is impossible to see Florence on your own in the allotted time, as by the time you get there you have about 3 hours maximum before you have to head back.

    We took a quick stroll through La Spezia and then returned to the ship.
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  • Naples
    The phrase "See Naples and Die" may be slightly over-dramatic but not by much. We were warned by many crewmembers, including the captain about safety in Naples. If you're looking for historic pizza, walking is probably your best bet as a cab is both expensive and a long way out of the way. However, to get to the Via dei Tribunali where most of the old pizzeria's are you will have a bit of an uphill walk, as well as walking through the area immediately around the port, which is not very nice.

    Further research into Naples stated that the area around the train station and the local trains to Pompeii and Sorrento were not the safest and this fact alone scared my wife and I off of taking the train to those places. Maybe next time I'll be a bit more adventurous.

    There is graffiti everywhere, the traffic is insane, and the mopeds weave in and out of the crowds on narrow streets. I never felt inherently unsafe, but my head was on a swivel much more than it was in any other port.
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  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    12 hours in Rome is not enough to see all of the sights, but it will give you just enough of a taste to want to return on your own. We were able to easily get into Rome and use the metro to our advantage to see Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, and the Colosseum.

    However it would be best to pick one, maybe two, sights that you want to see in depth for your time in Rome. If you choose the Vatican, know that that will likely be the only thing you get to see before you have to head back to the ship.

    Note that it's an hour to hour and half train ride from Civitavecchia to Rome. The train station is easily accessible by bus from where the cruise bus drops you off in town. I would recommend buying round trip tickets for this bus as it makes returning to the ship from the train station much easier.
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  • Toulon
    There was not much to the Toulon port area. It was a long walk from the pier to the city center. A tram was available for a few euro round trip. We did not venture into Toulon or Marseille itself. This was a grab a cappuccino and eat lunch port for us.
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  • Villefranche
    Villefranche was beautiful with a quaint city center in itself, however we walked straight to the train station and went into Nice. The trains station as a bit of a walk with some hills, and took about 25 minutes from the tender stop. It is about a 20 minute train ride to Niece from the Villefranche stop, however do make note of the train schedules. We arrived as the train was leaving, and the next one was not for over an hour.
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