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This was our 4th RC sailing and 3rd on this class of ship. We booked this sailing through Casino Royale based on sailing date and itinerary, as we had never visited any of the ports (Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten). After we booked, three other couples decided to join us, so we were travelling with a party of 8. After reading many reviews prior to our sailing, I'll hit the highlights and my recommendations. First of all, some passengers are just spoiled and entitled and others are just miserable. If you want the Ritz Carlton, spend a lot more money and sail on one of the high end cruise lines. If you don't like being around a lot of people, don't go on a cruise. We have never and will never sail on Carnival. We live in Houston near the Port of Galveston, so we hear all the horror stories. Royal Caribbean provides a fantastic mid-tier cruising experience at a great value compared to other vacation options. We sailed out of San Juan, arriving early morning on a red eye flight. We booked it through RC which I highly recommend. If you run into flight delays they will take care of you. This is especially important on an overseas cruise. We spent the morning in Old San Juan with one couple in our party who had arrived the day before. Had we fully understood the logistics, we would not have purchased the inbound transfer, as we ended up not using it and took an Uber from our friends' hotel to the pier. We arrived at the pier around the time check-in opened. I would NOT recommend this. If I had it to do over again, we would have had a leisurely lunch in Old San Juan and waited for the crowd to clear out. As I had read in other reviews, luggage drop off at the pier was extremely disorganized and chaotic and the lines to drop off luggage and get through security were very long. It took us about 45 minutes to get inside the terminal. Thankfully three of the 8 of us are Gold members, so our entire party was able to check in almost immediately, and by the time we got on board just a short time later our cabins were already ready. Be sure to show up with your RC luggage tags printed and already on your bags. Believe it or not you will see people showing up with NO cabin tags which really slowed things down. On the other end, disembarkation is a snap if you purchase an airport transfer AND use the porters. There is an "express lane" for people using the porters to handle and load their luggage onto the trucks that deliver it to you at the airport. Freedom of the Seas is definitely due for a rehab, which she will be getting in Jan 2020. The common areas are still very nice, but the cabins are showing some wear. Having said that, our cabin was very clean and everything functioned properly. Our cabin steward Dmitry was very sweet, personable, thorough and efficient. We gave him $20 on Day 1 which is our normal practice. This is neither necessary nor expected, and I don't know if it really makes a difference, but we have always had excellent service from all of our cabin attendants. We were in 9504 which is a "spacious oceanview" cabin facing outward on the very front of the ship. We didn't see the need for a balcony on this sailing, loved the cabin location, and would book this exact cabin again in the future if we could. The extra space was nice to have, and I took someone's suggestion to move the coffee table into the corner behind the bed. It turned something that was just in the way into a nice storage area. We never eat in our cabin, so we didn't need it for that purpose. Be sure to bring at least one multiplug or power strip with you. There was only one double outlet in our cabin located at the vanity. We bring one that includes USB ports for device charging. Regarding dining, we eat in the Main Dining Room every dinner along with breakfast and lunch if we can. The service and food are always excellent, and especially on a Caribbean sailing the dress code is pretty lax. It beats the chaos in the Windjammer and the food is far better. If you are traveling with a group I would strongly recommend picking either the early or late seating in the MDR vs. My Time dining. It's just so much easier to coordinate, and everyone will always know where to be and when. If you choose My Time, be sure to visit the My Time reservation desk as soon as you get on board. Have everyone's cabin numbers with you. The larger your group, the harder it will be to get a table at peak times. Our group of 8 had our choice of 6:00 or earlier or 8:45 or later. We chose 6:00 which worked out great, because we were the first seating at our table. After the first night we made sure they knew we wanted that table at that time every night, and for the rest of the cruise we were able to walk right in without even stopping at the front or waiting in line. We had zero issues with the food - everyone in our party enjoyed everything they ordered and frequently ordered multiple items. If you do ever order something you don't care for, they will be happy to bring you something else. We booked excursions through RC's website for all four ports. All were fun and well run with very knowledgeable guides. Snorkeling in Bonaire and Aruba was a bit disappointing but only because it was extremely windy with strong currents both days. I'd recommend skipping the Curacao distillery. It was very tourist trappy and they really rush you through it. On the other hand, the Topper's Rhum distillery in St. Maarten was so fun and very informative - one of the highlights of our trip. We haven't yet decided where or when our next Royal Caribbean cruise will take us, but there will be many more in our future!

Another great time on Royal Caribbean

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by Cycloneillini

1 person found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 4th RC sailing and 3rd on this class of ship. We booked this sailing through Casino Royale based on sailing date and itinerary, as we had never visited any of the ports (Bonaire, Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten). After we booked, three other couples decided to join us, so we were travelling with a party of 8. After reading many reviews prior to our sailing, I'll hit the highlights and my recommendations.

First of all, some passengers are just spoiled and entitled and others are just miserable. If you want the Ritz Carlton, spend a lot more money and sail on one of the high end cruise lines. If you don't like being around a lot of people, don't go on a cruise. We have never and will never sail on Carnival. We live in Houston near the Port of Galveston, so we hear all the horror stories. Royal Caribbean provides a fantastic mid-tier cruising experience at a great value compared to other vacation options.

We sailed out of San Juan, arriving early morning on a red eye flight. We booked it through RC which I highly recommend. If you run into flight delays they will take care of you. This is especially important on an overseas cruise. We spent the morning in Old San Juan with one couple in our party who had arrived the day before. Had we fully understood the logistics, we would not have purchased the inbound transfer, as we ended up not using it and took an Uber from our friends' hotel to the pier. We arrived at the pier around the time check-in opened. I would NOT recommend this. If I had it to do over again, we would have had a leisurely lunch in Old San Juan and waited for the crowd to clear out. As I had read in other reviews, luggage drop off at the pier was extremely disorganized and chaotic and the lines to drop off luggage and get through security were very long. It took us about 45 minutes to get inside the terminal. Thankfully three of the 8 of us are Gold members, so our entire party was able to check in almost immediately, and by the time we got on board just a short time later our cabins were already ready. Be sure to show up with your RC luggage tags printed and already on your bags. Believe it or not you will see people showing up with NO cabin tags which really slowed things down. On the other end, disembarkation is a snap if you purchase an airport transfer AND use the porters. There is an "express lane" for people using the porters to handle and load their luggage onto the trucks that deliver it to you at the airport.

Freedom of the Seas is definitely due for a rehab, which she will be getting in Jan 2020. The common areas are still very nice, but the cabins are showing some wear. Having said that, our cabin was very clean and everything functioned properly. Our cabin steward Dmitry was very sweet, personable, thorough and efficient. We gave him $20 on Day 1 which is our normal practice. This is neither necessary nor expected, and I don't know if it really makes a difference, but we have always had excellent service from all of our cabin attendants. We were in 9504 which is a "spacious oceanview" cabin facing outward on the very front of the ship. We didn't see the need for a balcony on this sailing, loved the cabin location, and would book this exact cabin again in the future if we could. The extra space was nice to have, and I took someone's suggestion to move the coffee table into the corner behind the bed. It turned something that was just in the way into a nice storage area. We never eat in our cabin, so we didn't need it for that purpose. Be sure to bring at least one multiplug or power strip with you. There was only one double outlet in our cabin located at the vanity. We bring one that includes USB ports for device charging.

Regarding dining, we eat in the Main Dining Room every dinner along with breakfast and lunch if we can. The service and food are always excellent, and especially on a Caribbean sailing the dress code is pretty lax. It beats the chaos in the Windjammer and the food is far better. If you are traveling with a group I would strongly recommend picking either the early or late seating in the MDR vs. My Time dining. It's just so much easier to coordinate, and everyone will always know where to be and when. If you choose My Time, be sure to visit the My Time reservation desk as soon as you get on board. Have everyone's cabin numbers with you. The larger your group, the harder it will be to get a table at peak times. Our group of 8 had our choice of 6:00 or earlier or 8:45 or later. We chose 6:00 which worked out great, because we were the first seating at our table. After the first night we made sure they knew we wanted that table at that time every night, and for the rest of the cruise we were able to walk right in without even stopping at the front or waiting in line. We had zero issues with the food - everyone in our party enjoyed everything they ordered and frequently ordered multiple items. If you do ever order something you don't care for, they will be happy to bring you something else.

We booked excursions through RC's website for all four ports. All were fun and well run with very knowledgeable guides. Snorkeling in Bonaire and Aruba was a bit disappointing but only because it was extremely windy with strong currents both days. I'd recommend skipping the Curacao distillery. It was very tourist trappy and they really rush you through it. On the other hand, the Topper's Rhum distillery in St. Maarten was so fun and very informative - one of the highlights of our trip.

We haven't yet decided where or when our next Royal Caribbean cruise will take us, but there will be many more in our future!
Cycloneillini’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Spacious Ocean View
Cabin 4M 9504
Freedom of the Seas is definitely due for a rehab, which she will be getting in Jan 2020. The common areas are still very nice, but the cabins are showing some wear. Having said that, our cabin was very clean and everything functioned properly. Our cabin steward Dmitry was very sweet, personable, thorough and efficient. We gave him $20 on Day 1 which is our normal practice. This is neither necessary nor expected, and I don't know if it really makes a difference, but we have always had excellent service from all of our cabin attendants. We were in 9504 which is a "spacious oceanview" cabin facing outward on the very front of the ship. We didn't see the need for a balcony on this sailing, loved the cabin location, and would book this exact cabin again in the future if we could. The extra space was nice to have, and I took someone's suggestion to move the coffee table into the corner behind the bed. It turned something that was just in the way into a nice storage area. We never eat in our cabin, so we didn't need it for that purpose. Be sure to bring at least one multiplug or power strip with you. There was only one double outlet in our cabin located at the vanity. We bring one that includes USB ports for device charging.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Snorkeling
    The catamaran was so fun as were the snorkeling stops. The beach area where we ended was also fun and a nice area. Well run excursion over all.
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  • Snorkeling
    The wind and currents hampered the experience a bit for me, but my husband who is a strong swimmer saw incredible marine life and would love to dive there in the future. The Champagne cruise was a lot of fun and well run as was the included lunch/beach stop at the end.
    View All 143 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Island Tour
    The island tour was informative but the guide (an older lady) was a little dry. The Curacao distillery was not worth the stop as it was very rushed. Beach stop at the end was very nice.
    View All 187 Island Tour Reviews
  • San Juan
    San Juan has largely recovered from Hurricane Maria with Old San Juan showing no signs of it. Old San Juan is definitely worth exploring before or after your cruise, especially the Fort area.
    View All 3,677 San Juan Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's San Juan Cruise Port Review
  • St. Maarten
    Topper's Rhum Distillery tour was one of the highlights of the cruise. St. Maarten is still a little rough from the effects of Hurricane Irma in 2017, but the boardwalk area has been largely rebuilt. The ending beach stop at the Blue Bitch Bar was fun and served great wings, but the beach itself was the least nice of the four ports - small and lots of seaweed. By then it didn't really matter to me, because it was at the very end of the cruise, I had already been to three beaches and I was ready to sit in the shade and enjoy a cold beer at the bar.
    View All 11,851 St. Maarten Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's St. Maarten Cruise Port Review