There are better cruises for the price: Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by PLUS50

Freedom of the Seas 3
Member Since 2010

Overall Member Rating

There are better cruises for the price

Sail Date: September 2010
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
I'm largely comparing this cruise with my previous experiences with Holland America Amsterdam.

To begin with, Freedom is a ship with over 3000 passengers compared with about half on the Amsterdam. But the public facilities certainly didn't double. The direct result is a very crowded ship especially on the pool deck and in the Windjammer buffet restaurant (Lido on Amsterdam). Making it worse is the ship allows smoking on half of all outdoor decks. It means non-smokers are further crowded. Many smokers moved the ash tray to non-smoking sections and the staff never interfered. It is also impossible to run or walk without spending half the time in the smoking section and there is always the smell of cigarettes in most outdoor places. Given that this is a Caribbean cruise and the whole point is to relax under the sun in the open, this wide spread smoking problem is a serious deficiency and enough reason for me to not return to Royal Caribbeans.

Ironically, a lot of More inside space was allocated to lounges and bars to generate alcohol income. They are usually empty most of the time except probably late at night (I don't know because I'm usually in bed by 10 pm). The point is, this megaship actually affords less usable space for passengers.

The ship offers a reasonable variety of foods but the quality is very questionable. I ate at the dining room in the first evening. The sea bass my wife ordered was the dried we've ever seen anywhere. The pork I ordered was also over cooked and chewy. We talked to fellow diners. One of them returned the steak 3 times and they were all over cooked. He ended up paying an extra $15 for a "premium cut" and that was still over cooked and took him 15 minutes just to cut them into pieces! The same problem seems to apply to most meat dishes in the buffet as well. Also, a large section of the buffet was allocated to burgers, pizzas, hot dogs and sandwiches with fries. These are usually available everywhere on other ships as snacks yet they were treated as dinner entries in the restaurants on Freedom! The multiple asian dishes were a pleasure the first day until I realized the same were there for the rest of the cruise.

The first two night's entertainment (a musical and an ice show) was fine. But the next few nights were mostly by singers that normally perform in the various bars and lounges on the ship anyway. The ice show was repeated in several nights.

I stayed in an inside cabin with a window toward the promenade. It is a nice room and setup and the insulation was good that I didn't hear much noises until the ship staged a rock concert complete with flashing neon lights in the Promenade at 10:45 pm! All those huge, empty dancing bars and lounges were just not enough. They had to wake up passengers in over 100 cabins to have this concert lasting until around mid-night.

Overall, I'll say my previous cruise with Holland America was more pleasant in all areas including food, entertainment and shore excursions. Given that the two are considered at similar price levels, Royal Caribbean could use some improvements. For passengers that prefer non-smoking, more space, quiet atmosphere, high quality food and decent entertainment, Royal Caribbean may not be your choice. Less

Published 10/04/10

Cabin review: PR8277 Promenade Stateroom

Reasonable size with a small seating area and a king size bed. A window to look out to the promenade was very nice. Shower stall could be a challeng for plus size people. Overall very agreeable for a cruise ship cabin.

Read All Promenade Stateroom (PR) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

I quite enjoy this "helmet dive" tour. It is designed for non-swimmers like my wife and myself. We can walk under water among tropical fish and not even get our hair wet! They put a "space suit helmet" on our shoulders and pump air through tubes. It is not as free as snorkeling but very comfortable and equally interesting. The tour guide took photos and vidoes under water and sell all for $55 ($35 for photos only). We bought it and it worked fine.

Cozumel in general appears more civilized and organized than the several previous ports in Jamaica, Haiti or Grand Cayman. Taxis lined up outside the port terminal with clearly listed flat rate to all destinations on the island so you can go to multiple places in one day easily and relatively cheaper than taking a tour package.

Read 5492 Cozumel Reviews

Don't know. Royal Caribbean cancelled my shore excursion. By the time they notified me (at 9:45 pm), it was too late to make another arrangement. I ended up going nowhere at this place.

I wish Royal Caribbean have spent more time scrutizing the advertized claims. The "highlights of Ocho Rios" stated 4.5 hours of visiting Fern Gully and Dunns River Falls with an option to shop after the tour. In fact, half of the time was spent in 2 shopping strips within walking distance from the ship in the beginning of the tour with no option to get away and you don't want to get out anyway because the areas outside the shopping strips look shaddy and dangerous (they are gated with security guard). When finally arriving at the Falls (actually only 2 miles away from the port), we spent most of the time waiting for the local guide to show up, sell us water shoes, sell us lockers and keys, and then rushed us through the climb in about 20 minutes without any option to stick around either the river or the beach. The so called "human chain" has nothing to do with tourist safety. There are many other tourists and young kids that hang around watching us like idiots holding hands with strangers for no reason. It is simply a way for the tour guide to control the group and demand tips (when most people have only their swimwear on). You will be much better off just get a taxi and spend the 4 hours in the park by yourselves.

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Member Since 2010
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