Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by tmleo
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
For a cruise line that is quite popular and well rated, the first impression was bad. Because they had to clean the ship due to illness before we boarded, we were left in hanger for over 2 hours with no direction and the person who finally did start the ball rolling had such a thick Spanish accent that no one could understand her on the small micro phone and small portable speaker! Thousands of travellers waiting to get on a ship and because we are noted by class - you really felt like a low class person when you have to sit separate from the golds and silver classes. It was a bad start all together - some families around us actually said -" well, I guess cuz we are on the lower decks we don't matter."
I will start with the cons for us:
The ship after a couple of days became kinda small and there was not a lot to do. I know lots of people love it and find lots to do but for us, it didn't work out. Most of the activities held no great interest, my kids only did the flow rider and in hindsight I would have picked a ship with a waterslide or anything else to do. Because of the weather, the rock climbing, pools and flow rider often had shut downs. When the weather cleared at times, the flow rider had restrictions and sometimes made it difficult for them to even get on. The wind made it difficult to walk around on deck some days so playing basketball and mini golf was a challenge at best. Kids club was not an option - mine are 11 and 14 with very few of the same age kids. Most kids were very little, the demographic was very young families with grandparents or retired couples.
The pools were not suitable for any floating around or playing because they were always full of people standing around with a drink in hand watching football on the big screens. The kiddie pools take up half the ship deck which is great if you have 5 year olds or younger. All other pools were not really usable. They had adult hot tubs and a small adult pool that no one used and we couldn't use them because our kids were not allowed.
It is very true about getting a lounge chair on a ship - you can't. if you are not there at 5 am, you will not get a seat anywhere near a pool or activity. We ended up on regular chairs sometimes or we would walk around ship. The only place for tranquility and space were at the back of the ship or along the sides of deck 4.
Smoking; one whole side of the ship is designated for smoking on deck 4 and what was very very disappointing and a very big reason for why I will not go on this ship again is the fact that they allow smoking in the casino inside the ship. As you walk to get to the front of the ship to go to the theatre, you have to walk through the casino. Otherwise you go up a deck or down a deck to go past it then back up to that deck to the theatre where they only have stairs.... The casino is open to the promenade where you shop etc. so guess what, smoke floats around there too. It ruined it for me on day 1.
The promenade was often busy because weather was bad, all they did there was shop or try to sell you jewellery. We went to the day 1 intro to the ship to find it was more about a sales pitch to buy jewellery on the ship. We went to the day 2 seminar on the ports of call and what to do when we get to them.... sales pitch to buy jewellery. Everything was about jewellery and watches.
Drink packages were very expensive so we didn't do them and they didn't make it easy to get drinks. You only get one drink per person at any bar so you have to keep going back each time or to different bars and not all bars serve the same drinks . So if you want a beer at one bar, you would have to go to another floor inside to get a blended drink because the bar at the pool doesn't serve any blends etc. Same with water and coffee's.
The ports of call have no bearings on the trip - they are what they are, and due to the hurricanes, I can't say much but in truth, Porto Rico was our favourite as it was in full gear and tropical - we did a walking tour of the fort. St. Marrten was more of a lesson on how horrible hurricanes are and we had a lovely cab driver that took us to the plane beach and pointed out all the damages etc. He shared stories along the way and the sun was out so the beach was just nice to sit on. They were only one week open on the port an it was just flattened. No trees, nothing. They had little sheds set up for the vendors. St. Kits was awful. We were constantly being harassed by the vendors - all men, and basically got off to just get back on again, people we were passing on the streets were commenting on how they didn't feel safe in the cabs. Labadee had a nice beach and thankfully sunny enough. HOWEVER- this is their beach and the vendors were horrible. They would not leave you alone, again, men pushing you to buy something. Even though we told the Royal Caribbean Concierge that that is why we are not going to buy anything... people don't want to feel this way, we are on vacation!
This cruise line nickel and dimes everything so be warned. You have to buy 2 drink packages if there are two legal drinking adults in a cabin - I don't drink and I would have to provide a doctors certificate to not have to buy one so my husband purchased his drinks on board - it would have cost another $1200 just to have drinks!
Bring a lanyard for your key card - they charge $10 us for one. Dollar store has them for a $1, they come in really handy.
Food was great. Dinner service was good and our servers were really nice. I would say to book a sit down dinner instead of buffet for dinner service every day. Breakfast buffet was good and so was lunch buffet. All the wait staff were great.
Our room steward was wonderful and was always around - you could see he had been around but he kept himself unseen. We never wanted for anything. Loved all the towel animals.
Beds were comfortable, we spent a lot of time in the room despite what people say!
Was not worth the $6000 cnd for 4 people in a basic cabin with bunks. We would rather do 2 all inclusive trips for that and actually have all drinks included.
Drinks were very expensive, main meals were good, most staff was pleasant.
If the weather had been good, I may have been more relaxed but as it was we had 20ft swells for a couple of days and constant wind and rain. I constantly heard from staff and other travellers "This never happens!" Not for teens and there were a lot of older people on this ship. If you want to buy jewellery, free to smoke and eat - go for it.
Good luck - take a look at other cruises and bigger ships I think, and if you have never done a cruise, do a short one first!
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