Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by austin_rindy
- Sail Date: July 2019
- Destination: Southern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Ultra Spacious Ocean View
We ate dinner in the main dining room every night and didn't try any specialty restaurants. The food was mostly excellent. Only found the fish we ordered to be over seasoned and a little salty. Not a big deal with good appetizer and dessert - we didn't feel the need to order another meal - though they always asked if you would like something else. The waiter also gave his recommendations each night and the few things I didn't care for wasn't one of his recommendations. Both our waiter and asst waiter were great - Putu and Placid at table 314 - we had anytime dining but usually ate at 6pm and sat at the same table. Even though you prepay tips - these people go out of their way to be friendly, helpful, and give you great service. I think Freedom has some of the best service I have received. We ate breakfast twice in the main dining room and lunch twice in the main dining room and I preferred this over the Windjammer which was always so crowded and hard to find a seat. We did like the Cafe for an alternative to breakfast (free coffee there seemed better as well). We also grabbed pizza at the Promenade restaurant for a late lunch after port day and found it to be very good.
We went to most of the shows except the last night as we were tired and busy packing. I liked the first night show with the acrobats and comedian. I really liked the ice show and El Gaucho. I also enjoyed the second comedian and repeated acrobat performance. My least favorite was the Marque show and the singer - not that they were bad - just not for me. I also didn't care for the Love and Marriage show - I think things like this should be alternative entertainment and not take up the "main show" for a night.
Port and Excursion Reviews:
Aruba - this was my favorite port and excursion. We did a third party excursion with Dennis at Aruba Surf School - a private stand up paddle board excursion. It was just me and my teen daughter and we had never done this before. Dennis was an awesome instructor and had us paddling with ease in no time. He picked us up right outside the port and took us to the paddle location. The tour lasted about 2.5 hours and we ended up paddling about 3 miles along the coast line. He had drinks and water and then dropped us back at the pier. We grabbed lunch on the boat and then ventured back out - taking a bus to the butterfly farm and then bus back to pier/town where we shopped a little.
Curacao - we did the Discover Curacao tour through Royal Caribbean. This included a stop at a small museum, the Hato Caves, and then the Blue Curacao Distillery with a liquor tasting. Each stop on the tour was somewhat average, but what made the tour for me was the tour guide on the bus. She was so informative with lots of history and how things are in Curacao and surrounding islands. I learned so much.
Bonaire - we did a private third party tour with Brenda from H2O Visions. We did the 5 hour tour that included lots of sites on the south side of the island and two great shore snorkel stops. We saw the flamingos, salts fields, slave huts, etc - we stopped for photos and Brenda taught us all about the history of the island and the salt production. The two snorkel stops were awesome and she snorkeled with us and pointed out things we might not have seen without her - like a hawksbill turtle, two spotted eels, an octopus mating, etc. There were lots of fish and the snorkeling was fun. She provided all the gear and had drinks and snacks for us as well.
St. Marten - we did the Americas Cup Sailing Regatta that we booked through Royal Caribbean. This was really fun. There are two sail boats and they split the group up between the two - you get to stay with your traveling companions. The captain assigns you a job and they teach you how to do it. You practice a little, then the count down begins and your off on your mini race. It was exciting and fun and for us a very close finish. They have non alcohol drinks on board and then when you're done they drop you at their shop for rum punch and you an purchase pictures on a flash drive for $20. However, they also offer to take pictures while you are one the boat with your camera - and they took a lot. I would highly recommend this excursion.
San Juan - on disembarkation day we had a late flight and didn't want to sit at the airport as the boat docks at 6am. So we opted for a Royal Caribbean excursion so they would take our luggage to the airport. The one we opted for was San Juan on your own, but there were a few problems with this. You have to put your luggage out the night before and the excursion desk wasn't very informed on how the carryon luggage that you kept in your room (change of clothes, toiletries, etc) would be handled - how are your supposed to explore if you have to lug around a backpack or carryon. They led us to believe we could leave it on the bus - but that wasn't the case. We were told we had to take it with us. Now, you do meet up with your checked luggage as you take it through customs and you could but your carryon with your checked luggage to be transported to the airport before your get on the tour bus - it will be waiting for you at the airport when they drop you off and there is a rep there watching it the whole time. However, none of this was explained to us and we were mislead. And if there is anything you want to keep with you - you had to take it with you. They also led us to believe there would be two pick up times with the latest being 1pm. For us, there was no earlier time - only the one at 1pm. The tour operator told us it depends on how many people pick to do the excursion. So maybe, sometimes you can leave stuff on the bus, but this time we couldn't. You just can't count on it. We were stuck with our back packs to hoofed it to Barrachina restaurant where we stored them so we could walk around. It retrospect we would have been better off just taking a taxi from the pier straight to Barrachina and storing both our checked bags and carryons and then taking a taxi from there to the airport. Our tour picked us up at 1pm and dropped us at airport 20 min later. It wasn't crowed and we were through security and at our gate at 2pm for our 3:25pm flight - plenty of time. San Juan was hot and nothing was opened early in the morning. Finally, more shops and restaurants opened. Maybe the Bacardi tour would have been better - at least it was air conditioned and inside.
Royal Caribbean puts their excursions on sale as you approach your sail date - I would say the closer you get the lower the price goes - we got ours for 30% off, I didn't see them lower and I checked frequently.
All in all it was a great cruise. I would sail out of San Juan again, and I would sail with Royal Caribbean again.
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