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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
My wife and I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we like RC and the ships.We sailed on Oasis of the Seas 2 years ago and loved it.We were also looking forward to going to Puerto Rico.We flew down the day before and got a great ... Read More
My wife and I chose this cruise because of the itinerary and we like RC and the ships.We sailed on Oasis of the Seas 2 years ago and loved it.We were also looking forward to going to Puerto Rico.We flew down the day before and got a great recommendation from the Hotel staff on places to eat where we could get authentic PR food.The food and service were outstanding.The people we met were very friendly and welcoming.Embarkation was smooth and we were on the ship within 20 minutes.The ship is overall good.We found the staff to be friendly and helpful.We went to the majority of the shows and found them to be good.We did not spend a lot of time at the pools because of the crowds and we had excursions planned for most days.This cruise went to Aruba,Curaçao,Bonaire and St.Maarten.We liked Aruba the best because of the beautiful beaches.St.Maarten has some work to do as it is still in bad shape in some places.The biggest issue we had and people we talked to said the same thing and that was the quality of the food.Windjammer had the same food every day and the crowds were rude and that’s putting it mildly.We ate in the main dining room every night and although there were different options each night,it was always room temperature at best. I understand feeding 4000 people isn’t easy but we didn’t have a single meal that was memorable.That wasn’t the case on Oasis.The last night I ordered the Chops filet with an up charge of $17 and even it was cold.The other major issue we had was the constant up selling to buy a specialty restaurant package the staff does.They even interrupt you while you’re trying to eat.Cruising is still a great option and at some point we might try it again but we will have to decide if we want to try another cruise line or if we just chalk it up to being this particular ship. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose Freedom of the Seas because we love St Maarten but had not seen the other ports, it was perfect for us. We did not get a chance to stay in Puerto Rico (where it departs from) but we heard so many great reviews from other guests, I ... Read More
We chose Freedom of the Seas because we love St Maarten but had not seen the other ports, it was perfect for us. We did not get a chance to stay in Puerto Rico (where it departs from) but we heard so many great reviews from other guests, I wish we had! We stayed in room 7608. The stateroom attendant was wonderful, I had no issues with the bed and the balcony was great. Port side so there was lots to see on port days. My only issue here was the royal promenade was only 2 floors below us. The late night parties were loud! So after being at port all day, drinking enough to make the drink package worth it, and then going to bed early enough for the next port, we were so disappointed in RC. They do everything so much better than this, the bass was so loud it just thumped until the parties ended. I was sorely disappointed in this. We finally decided to spend that time in the hot tub (open 24 hours) which was empty, because we aren’t parties and had no interest in joining. This was the only way we got through it and I would prefer to not have had to “just get through it”. We did a 3 night specialty dining plan. Then booked The Chefs Table for our actual anniversary which was the Saturday night at the end of the cruise. Choose Grille-my husband loved it! I don’t eat steak. So I ordered fish. There was nothing spectacular about that but he raved on and on about everything. Order the steak and enjoy it! He sure did. Giovanni’s-oh my gosh! So yummy. The food was fantastic, the service even better. We ended up eating here twice (paying for the second outside of our dining package) because it was so good. Sabor- this was typical Mexican food. I wasn’t impressed and would not do it again. It was good but so is the MDR and that is at no extra cost. I can’t give a review on The Chefs Table. We were looking forward to this so much. Our reservation was at 6:30. At 5, they told us they didn’t fill the table and cancelled. Had I known that was a possibility I definitely would not have booked it! Since it was our last night, we now have to fight to get our money back because we didn’t spend 2 hours at guest service the last night on our anniversary. Booking Giovanni’s was difficult and we couldn’t get in until 8:30 because of the short notice. I will never book this pricy meal again knowing that it’s not popular and they won’t do it, if not booked. Disappointing. MDR-it was wonderful. We had no issues getting a table for just the 2 of us during my time dining. They were very willing to accommodate. I was very nervous reading reviews that everything was in Spanish. This is NOT the case. Everything is in English and then repeated in Spanish. Even the game shows were English and later that night Spanish. There was a lot of culture differences coming out of Puerto Rico vs Florida but RC does a great job to accommodate all. I never felt like I was out of place or unwelcome. In fact the opposite. Everyone was unbelievably kind. More so than any other cruise we have ever done. Aruba-we did the kukoo kunuku bus to palm beach. Had a great time and would do this again. We are a restaurant right on the beach and had fresh fish. It was a great experience. You could get a taxi and spend more time there as the bus limited your available beach time. Curacao-we did a beach by boat tour and will definitely do it again. Was wonderful! Bonaire-I think next time in Bonaire I would get off the ship and go snorkeling on my own. We did a 4X4 expedition. It was so informative and beautiful. Since we have done it once I don’t think I’d need to do it again. St Maarten-just get off the ship, jump on the water taxi and get a chair on the beach. Water taxi $7, chair $10 with free WiFi. You will be surrounded by food and shops and my favorite beach! The entertainment was tricky. All of the shows were during dinner time or late at night. We did see the headliner and a few game shows but I was a bit disappointed with how hard it was to try to schedule simply because of timing. We did an anniversary package and our room was decorated so cute! My husband did a shoutout to me on the morning show and afterwards they sent us up a bottle of wine. What an awesome touch. Plus each night they sang to us and gave us cake to celebrate. The crew is simply amazing. I would say overall don’t miss this ship! It is not as outdated as some say. It’s smaller sure than others but the experience was worth it! Order a frozen Mojito when you get on (virgin or with rum) and enjoy your trip! In fact...take me with you?! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
The ship overall is impressive. Food was great everywhere Gained 10 lbs in 7 days. I couldnt resist... For my husband's BD we ate at Chops grill. Delicious. We got free BD cake, free beer and wine at the end. If you dont know which ... Read More
The ship overall is impressive. Food was great everywhere Gained 10 lbs in 7 days. I couldnt resist... For my husband's BD we ate at Chops grill. Delicious. We got free BD cake, free beer and wine at the end. If you dont know which wine to choose, let them do it for you. Wont be disappointed. Staff is very friendly and helpful. Stairoom with balcony is spacious and very clean. Evening entertainment is ok. Could be better. Only problem with this ship I think is lacking a big adult pool. There is nowhere to swim in adult only part. 12th level of outside area is full of chairs under direct sun. No shade. No pool. No people. Not utilized at all. Overall, we had fun and enjoyed cruising with Freedom of the Seas. In Curacao we went to Avila beach hotel and obtained $10pp beach pass. Great place, delicious food and drinks. In Aruba went to Arashi beach, there is not windy at all, we loved it, then snorkeled on catamaran with Aruba Watersports on Palm beach. It was great.. in St. Kitts we took Rose and Jim island tour as recommended. Rose dropped us off at Reggae beach and picked us up in 3 hrs and took back to the pier. Great. At the pier just ask for Rose. Everyone knows her. In St. Thomas we took island tour with drop off at Emerald beach. We took taxi for $4 pp back to the pier. Great. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
While I realize that this is an older ship and the prices are cheaper than most cruises, this shop was very disappointing. It is very ugly and outdated. The whole ship smells like sewage. One particular day, there was actually brown water ... Read More
While I realize that this is an older ship and the prices are cheaper than most cruises, this shop was very disappointing. It is very ugly and outdated. The whole ship smells like sewage. One particular day, there was actually brown water in all of the toilets thru out the ship. The entire ship is very dirty and not maintained. The “shows” and “entertainment “ were sub optimal. Food on buffet on Lido deck was actually gross. Dining room food was not great either. Guys burger joint and the deli were good. Ice cream was good. The captain did not keep the guests informed at all. We have sailed on 13+ cruises and this by far was the worst one. It seems carnival has cut back on many things, or at least that was the case on this sailing. The ports however are AMAZING! My suggestion is use another cruise line if you want a nice vacation. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We chose this cruise because we had never been to the southern Caribbean and 3/4 ports were places we have never visited. We didn’t do ship excursions (we don’t have comments connected with RC). Embarkation- We arrived at the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had never been to the southern Caribbean and 3/4 ports were places we have never visited. We didn’t do ship excursions (we don’t have comments connected with RC). Embarkation- We arrived at the cruise port around 4. It was not crowded, but still required gentle herding to find the correct baggage drop off for our deck. After that it was extremely easy walk on process. Cabin- Clean, functional, great shower pressure. Room attendant was amazing. The one thing I had read about and would agree with is uncomfortable (hard) mattress. We did hear some noise between rooms. One of our neighbors were not happy with each other and decided to loudly discussing the matter late at night. But not their tv or normal conversation. Dining- We really liked the food. We sat at the early seating for the main dining room. Food was wonderful. The buffet was a buffet, keep trying till to find something you like. We had one meal that we both nonplussed about. The bottomless brunch tour was very interesting, informative, mimosa and guacamole great, however the brunch itself was subpar. Entertainment- We didn’t really give the entertainment a fair shake. We missed the first night entertainment, which from our table mates they didn’t like. We went to the second night show (best of musicals), we ended up leaving midway through. One of the main singers was off pitch and we aren’t musical buffs so it didn’t have enough other to keep us in our seats. We ended up not going back to other shows in the theater. I really liked the ice show. It was super fun. We also randomly did trivia. Other- Great ports, good cruise ship. Would recommend. Overall we enjoyed the cruise and had a good time. It didn’t stand out as an exceptional vacation but was a good, relaxing vacation. I’ve read some comments regarding Royal Caribbean’s food quality going down but we enjoyed almost all of the food. We would recommend this particular cruise and will most likely go on future Royal Caribbean cruises. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have cruised with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean (Allure) and this has been our best family cruise yet. While Allure had more than enough of family friendly activities, the size of this ship and warmth of the crew made it memorable and ... Read More
We have cruised with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean (Allure) and this has been our best family cruise yet. While Allure had more than enough of family friendly activities, the size of this ship and warmth of the crew made it memorable and our best experience to date. We started of flying in the previous day in San Juan and it experienced the great food at Bebo's and beaches within walking distance. We will go back to San Juan again as we found it beautiful. Embarkment was very fast and took less than 15 minutes from drop-off to waiting area as it wasn't busy when we arrived. Once the doors opened it was probably another 10 minutes for onboarding. The bar was open and we grabbed a drink and headed to WindJammer. Lunch was good and not busy either. We explored the ship and immediately greeted by smiles and welcomes. We met our stateroom attendant later and he was also very warm and friendly. Throughout the cruise he greeted us in the mornings and evenings, chatted, and provided us with a great and clean stateroom. He new all of our names by the second day. The ship itself seemed to be the right size for us - not too big or small and we never felt that it was crowded. Every crew member we met was very friendly and many new our names by the end of the cruise. We dined in both WindJammer and MDR for both breakfast and dinner and enjoyed the at sea lunch in MDR. Food was good but all or most of the selections in MDR were available in WindJammer. WindJammer had more selections and we did enjoy all of the food - no complaints at all. We always managed to get good seats in WindJammer (but we are early risers and late eaters). Promenade Cafe also new what we ordered and provided little touches for my daughter (cookies to our table). Sorrento's was good but as always there was a line-up in the afternoon. We went mainly to Boleros and the bartenders were great. Good conversations, they new our drinks and were very friendly and was good to see them in action when busy mixing all of the drinks. We were pleasantly surprised by our cabin (Spacious Oceanview Balcony) with the amount of space - will get the same size room again on future cruises. Slept well and no issues with room size or amenities. Ports were also nice and we took tours in St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados. Enjoyed all of them (included scenic tours, shopping, and beaches). Our daughter enjoyed it so much that she didn't want to leave. On disembarkment day, we had a late check-out and so we went around to all of the crew members wishing them and exploring the ship one more time. We will be back again on Freedom in the future, but next year it will be Symphony as there are more ports to explore! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
What we liked : - Beautiful ship - Cabin is fine and was kept very clean, the cabin steward did a great job. - Disembarkation was very smooth, we were allowed to stay on board till around 10 o'clock which is appreciated. ... Read More
What we liked : - Beautiful ship - Cabin is fine and was kept very clean, the cabin steward did a great job. - Disembarkation was very smooth, we were allowed to stay on board till around 10 o'clock which is appreciated. What we disliked : - embarkation was bad. We arrived around 13:00 and was not even allowed to get into the departure building and had to wait in the waiting area at the arrival hall (this is Southampton). They started to call for black card members to go to the departure building around 1400 and after that the rest of the passengers. So around 1415 all guests waiting at the waiting area went over to the departure building where a huge line formed. It took more than 45 minutes to go through this line which is totally not necessary if they would let you wait in the departure area when you arrive. -Food is bad, buffet food always only lukewarm and old (sitting there for too long )At first, we thought it was because we had late lunch, due to the bad embarkation process, we only got on the ship at around 1530 so quite late. Next day, we went at 1230 when the lunch started and the food was also cold or lukewarm. No matter what time you go there, food is just not warm. Breakfast is much better as sometimes you will get hot and fresh pastry items. Limited choices in the MDR and food quality is average at best. -We could not get our desired dining time(even we have booked the Fantastica experience). We went to see the restaurant manager on embarkation day but he would only get us on a waitlist and we never heard back from him. We prefer 1e sitting but was not able to get that and 2e sitting is just too late for us.(dining at 21:00 is just not our thing) -service is hit and miss. We did have an excellent server but we also encountered some very rude staff. (guest services, photo studio staff etc) We don’t expect service to the extreme but do expect to be treated friendly and courteous but it is not always the case. -Entertainment lacking. Shows were bad too, only 1 or 2 shows that was good, other than that just a singer or two singing a few songs. This is not what I expect to see in the theater every night. Lacking activities, there is not much to do on board. Just some dance lessons, stretch exercise and a trivia that is done in 5 languages. It's a pain to sit through that. Most people just sit in the different bars/lounges to listen to some music. Summary : I guess it is "you get what you pay for" but I do not feel we have paid a cheap price for this cruise so we do feel disappointed. If you have paid a bargain price then you may find things OK. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Dates fitted our holiday window, so we gave it a go. Lead up all went good, emails and info supplied. Boarding was swift and free from issues. Met by friendly staff and went to our cabin. Cabin was small but found it to be cosy ... Read More
Dates fitted our holiday window, so we gave it a go. Lead up all went good, emails and info supplied. Boarding was swift and free from issues. Met by friendly staff and went to our cabin. Cabin was small but found it to be cosy and well equipped. We had our first evening meal in the Lobster restaurant. We had different meals and found the food to be far from restaurant fair. Mostly tasteless with "Michelin style descriptions" which we did laugh at. We were led to a table for 6 first, and expected to join total strangers, after me asking for a table for two, this was arranged with little effort. I don't mind the odd night with strangers, but this would have been set in stone for each and every night after. Due to the disappointment from the Lobster, we used the buffet on night two. Food average and fairly well laid out with a fairly good choice. Pizzas were fantastic without fail. Night three back to try the Lobster, food just as bad, completely tasteless and made up to be something to blow your mind, and really far from the descriptions again. The British head chef came out to meet everyone in the restaurant. I did make a joke to my wife,"If I was him I wouldn't show my face, service up that rubbish" I don't know if the chef is to blame, or the budget he has to work with. The entertainment was not great and had a distinctly European based feel, not really for the UK pallet. We do like a good drink and a dance to a good band. MSC did lack this for us. We had a bit of a culture shock regarding the general rudeness of the mixed European passengers, during leaving the ship on tours, particularly completely ignoring ques and just barging in anywhere. The same behaviour on the ship, while in the buffet and waiting for lifts. We generally don't do drink packages and usually buy as we go. The first night we ordered two beers with our meal and ended up with a bill for 14.95 Euros. This frankly is daylight robbery for two 33cl beers. We then filled our back pack with cans of beers during city visits and had no problem bringing these aboard, on our return. A bucket of ice and two cold beers later, then repeat. We also like a nice coffee, and found that the special coffees on offer were tasty, but very tiny and around 8.00 Euros for two. There is a lot on board that you find to your peril, after ordering, ending up with a larger than average bill for. There is also a charge of 14.95 Euros added to your room bill every day for tips, this does anger me as I have always been of the opinion that a tip is for service over and above the normal. We did remove all tips in the end, as felt that we were being ripped off at every turn by MSC, and felt this was our only form of getting our own back. We do give cash tips directly to staff who do give exceptional service. The ship is a stunning well equipped ship with as good as the best out there offer, however, we did feel that overall the mixing of several nationalities does tend to back fire to a large degree, the general poor quality of the food on offer and the very high prices charged for beverages does mark this ship/company down considerably. As we only went on this trip as a fill in break during Easter time off, and a break away, we did enjoy it generally, we did mange to laugh at the poor and miss described food, the rows and squabbles amongst passengers. The rip off prices, that led us to used plan B. The endless 6 language announcements that can grind you down. If you treat most things like water off a ducks back, then MSC is a great, different experience of cruising. Give MSC a go. If however you look for value for money, first class dining, a great time being entertained during your evenings with the drink flowing, without busting your wallets, I would leave MSC well alone and stick with the UK/USA ships instead. Happy Cruising....... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Introduction: Myself - 47 and DH 49, 7 cruises, 6 RCI and 1 HA, last one 2017 on RCI Our 4 kids, 2 at home, 2 out of the house; -DS1 - 24 years old, 3 prior cruises with us, last one 2009 -DD1 - 22 years old and her SO, 3 ... Read More
Introduction: Myself - 47 and DH 49, 7 cruises, 6 RCI and 1 HA, last one 2017 on RCI Our 4 kids, 2 at home, 2 out of the house; -DS1 - 24 years old, 3 prior cruises with us, last one 2009 -DD1 - 22 years old and her SO, 3 prior cruises with us, last one 2009 -DD2 - 18 years old and her friend, 1 prior cruise with us, in 2009 -DS2 - 15 years old, 1 prior cruise with us, in 2009 My parents, 76 and 78, one prior cruise with us in 2009. We have sailed on Voyager class ships but nothing as large as Freedom of the Seas. Our prior cruise with everyone in 2009 was on Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore. DH and I were on Jewel of the Seas on this almost exact same itinerary in 2017. We thoroughly enjoyed the ports and leaving from San Juan. Puerto Rico really has a lot to offer, especially if you are not just there for part of a day on a ship excursion. It does add to the price for airfare, though. We booked this cruise in February, 2018. So anticipation has been building for a long time! Everyone was very excited about going. And everyone participated in the planning of what we were going to do. I am very lucky to have children, who even though they are grown and out of the house, still enjoy vacationing with their parents and younger siblings. And I am very lucky that my parents are also willing and able to join us in the adventure. I am also very lucky that both my husband and I have jobs that allow us to vacation like this with our family. Cabins: My parents and DH and I each had balcony cabins on deck 7. The rest of the folks had interior cabins on deck 7. Usually we stay higher up on the cruise ship. We really liked this level. It was quiet with the library being close by. And it was right in the middle of our dining options (up to Windjammer, down to MDR/Promenade). I think we got more use out of the venues on the promenade since it was just 2 floors down. Drink packages/Specialty Dining: On our last cruise in 2017, we bought the Refreshment beverage package. We thoroughly enjoyed it. It definitely added to our enjoyment of the cruise. We did the same thing this time. I was able to get the package for $17 on the Black Friday deal. I also booked the Deluxe package for DD1/SO and DS1. I was able to purchase that for $44 about 2 months before cruise time. We also booked Chops Lunch for everyone on embarkation day. We are at main seating for dinner and don’t have any other specialty dining planned. Transportation to San Juan: For our last cruise, we flew Jetblue. For this cruise, we gambled a bit and went with Spirit Airlines. The flight to San Juan was OK. But then my son’s flight was cancelled and Spirit couldn’t get him to San Juan before Monday. So we luckily got him on another flight on Sunday on Jetblue. On our return flight, the seats were incredibly cheesy looking and cheap looking. There wasn’t even a pocket in the back of the seat. Just some elastic. And they were really uncomfortable. From our perspective, the money we saved in booking Spirit Air evaporated with the extra ticket we had to buy for my son. Spirit has the reputation of not being good with cancellations and rebooking and that was definitely our experience. So, I don’t think we will be booking with them again. Pre Cruise: We stayed 2 days prior in San Juan at an airbnb and were supposed to do a cave rafting excursion through airbnb. But that got cancelled shortly before we left for San Juan. So we had to come up with a Plan B. We ended up booking another excursion through AirBNB called “Beach, Art and Old San Juan”. It ended up being fantastic. Giovanni, the tour guide, picked us up in Old San Juan and drove us to a beach that was a “locals” beach. Just a bunch of families enjoying the Easter weekend. Everything was already set up for us on the beach. Chairs, umbrellas, coolers with drinks,, snorkel gear, speakers, towels, etc. We swam for a bit and then lunch was delivered to us. Giovanni brought us a variety of food from the local stands that we passed in coming to the beach. It was delicious food; a variety for us all to try. We stayed at the beach a bit more, and then it was time for the art part of the tour. He took us to a local donut shop while he parked the car. Then it was time to do some walking to look at all of the local street art. These are the large paintings that were on the sides of a lot of the buildings. Giovanni knew a lot about each piece and seemed to know a lot of the artists personally. The paintings were amazing as were the stories associated with each. Then it was back to Old San Juan where we took some pictures at El Morro. Giovanni was really amazing. My dad has some mobility issues and he went above and beyond to include him in the day. While we were on the art tour, he had his friend drive my dad around in the car. And at each stop, if my dad wasn’t there when Giovanni told us about the art, Giovanni went and repeated the information to my dad. In addition when we were all done, he drove my dad to the ChocoBar Cortez where we were going to go for an early dinner. It was an amazing day that far exceeded our expectations. If you are looking for something different in San Juan, I would definitely recommend him. While we were in San Juan, in addition to ChocoBar Cortez, we also ate at a couple of restaurants close by our AirBNB in Condado. One of them was Cafe Tresbe. We went here for dinner. We had a variety of items. The ceviche was the best we have had. My husband and son each had a poke bowl and they were delicious. We also found the best breakfast spot. Although I don’t drink coffee, my folks told me that these were the best lattes they have ever had. The restaurant was Cafe Marquesa. We had breakfast there 2 days in row. The red velvet pancakes were delicious. They bake their own bread. They also had carrot/pecan pancakes on Easter that were delicious. The french toast was also delicious. Everything was good. I strongly recommend both of the restaurants. Cruise Day 1: We arrived at the pier at about 10:30 am. We unloaded the large amount of luggage we had, dropped it off with the porters, headed through the security line at the door, then walked right up to the desk and checked in. We waited for another 15-20 minutes or so before they opened the doors. We were on the ship before 11 am or so. Everyone had the drink packages and got a drink at the Solarium Bar. All our luggage arrived by the afternoon, minus one of our suitcases that was down in the “naughty” room with an “ALCOHOL” label on it. After showing the attendant that it was the hot sauce we bought in San Juan, we took it up to our room. We were supposed to have lunch at Chops that day, but since one of our party was not there yet, they allowed us to switch the reservation to day 6 (the only other day it was offered). This was our itinerary: St Kitts, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados, Day at Sea, St Maarten We had one ship based excursion in St Kitts. The rest of the islands, we had private excursions planned. Day 2 St Kitts This is the one day that we split off into multiple groups. My parents booked the railway excursion through the ship. They enjoyed it. It was perfect for them. DD2, her friend and I booked the island tour through Thenford Grey. The rest of the gang took Thenford Grey’s Eco Tour of the Volcano. For the island tour, Thenford lived up to the expectations that I had from reading reviews. He clearly knows and loves his island. There were a couple of photo stops along the way. He also gave us water partially through. At a lot of the stops, there was a chance to get something to eat/drink. But if you stopped to eat or drink, it took away from your time to explore. The rest walked up the volcano. DH and I had done this in 2017. It is very strenuous. We underestimated it when we climbed it the first time. This time you couldn’t walk as high up as we could last time. I guess the ladder was broken or something. Overall a good day for everyone. Day 3 Antigua Months before the cruise, I contacted Spring Hill Riding Stables for a horseback riding adventure. We don’t have any experience, so that limited our choices. We had a 30 minute trail walk and then some time in the ocean on the horses. This was a great experiences.They knew all of the horses really well. The horses are clearly members of their family. Sue, the owner, did a great job taking pictures and video for us while we were swimming with the horses. Everyone agreed it was a great time. There was no food on this tour, although it was one of the shorter excursions we took. We got back to the ship in time for lunch. Day 4 St Lucia We booked Treetop Canopy Adventure for zip lining. This was a good excursion. They did a great job keeping things moving. There are 12 zip lines that you go through and there are lots of stairs to climb. The zip lines varied in difficulty, some small, some large, some faster than others. The surroundings are beautiful. Keep in mind if you book this that there are some stairs to climb, all throughout the course. The folks that took us on the adventure did a great job. The bus ride there was also interesting and our guide did a good job of narrating and entertaining us on the way to the park. There are a couple of other activities to do at the location, but we only did the zip lining. My mom went with us on the excursion. They took extra good care of her all along the way. It was a very strenuous activity for her (the stairs specifically) but she made it through and enjoyed herself, and was very proud of her accomplishment. We didn’t have any food on this tour, although it was offered. But it seemed to only be standard restaurant food. We might have sampled some, if it has been food specific to the area, rather than hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, etc. Day 5 Barbados We booked Silvermoon catamaran. DH and I did this same excursion last time we were here on Jewel of the Seas. And we would probably do it again if we go back to Barbados. It was amazing. The crew does a great job. The food is great. The boat is very comfortable. There were 10 of us plus one other couple on the tour. We spent about 90 -120 minutes with the turtles and the 2 other snorkelling spots. Then we travelled to a more secluded bay where we could swim and then they served us lunch. Lunch included appetizers of spinach quiches and vegetarian samoas with a chili dipping sauce. Main dish was a chicken curry, rice, freshly grilled tuna, and a tossed salad. Dessert included banana bread and lemon bars. All were very good.One of the other couple was a vegan and they created a vegetable curry for her. Drinks were flowing the whole time. The crew did a great job with those in our group that were swim challenged. It was such a relaxing and beautiful day. I can’t recommend this tour enough. As we watched some of the other tours, they had to wear life vests and had someone announcing over the loudspeaker of the boat when there was something to look at. And there were at least 30 of them. In our boat, you could wear a life vest if you wanted but you didn’t have to. There were only 12 of us and there were 2 crew from the boat in the water with us. The turtles were swimming amongst us and surfacing right in the middle of our group. We saw the rays at the bottom, flounder at the bottom, and they brought us a pufferfish and a sea cucumber to look at. After the turtles, it was over to the two shipwrecks to snorkel some more. We saw lots of fish, the spots are just great. DH and I had talked a lot about this excursion to our group and we were afraid that we had oversold it, but after the snorkelling, we were told that we did not oversell it. It was way more than anyone had been able to imagine. Day 6 at sea We pretty much chilled around and relaxed after so many straight days of excursions. We played some cards, etc. We had lunch at Chops, that was not the best. 2 hours long and way overcooked steaks. I would not do that again. (See dining below) Day 7 St Maarten For this day, we decided to visit Pinel Island. We booked kayaks through Caribbean Paddling. We also had one person take the ferry. We booked it with transportation to and from the cruise ship. It is about a 20- 25 minute kayaking trip to the island, about 15 minutes back. You can stop part of the way to the island where there is a large sandbar. There was plenty to look at here. You can then paddle to the island. There are also spots where you can see turtles in the water. You can rent chairs and umbrellas or eat at the 2 restaurants on the island. You can also paddle around the island to another beach where there is some snorkelling. (We didn’t snorkel.) There is also a path to go up on the island or walk to the other side. This was a beautiful area. If I had to do it again, I would bring some shade for the far side of the island so that we could more comfortably stay there. I would also not rent chairs/umbrellas but just find a spot at the restaurant to eat. At one of the restaurants, you could choose your lobster from their catch for the day and they would cook it. We got a large one so that everyone could have some. The food was good. There is also a place to do some souvenir shopping on the island. We paddled back and then rode back to the port. My parents ate at the other restaurant on the island and had burgers that they said were good. I saw some folks with BBQ ribs and it looked and smelled great. Huge plates of food. Dining: We had early seating for dinner. It worked well for us. Everyone was satisfied with the food in the MDR for dinner. We also preferred the MDR for breakfast. It is only open for lunch on the sea day and that day we ate at Chops for lunch. One day when we returned from an excursion, we had lunch in Johnny Rockets. The chili cheese fries and onion rings were good as was the shake. The burger was not great. Very dry and on the cheapest possible bun. When the bun detracts from the burger, you need to get a new bun. It was a lot of food and was late in the afternoon. I don’t think we would chose to do that for lunch again. But it was miles better than our Chops lunch. Our Chops lunch took 2 hours. The steaks were ordered rare and came back medium well. From my perspective, the specialty dining is not worth the extra money. We could always find something in the MDR that we like. I would definitely not do lunch at Chops again, and it doesn’t seem to be worth the extra cost for dinner. Everyone liked the pizza at Sorrentos and the occasional snack from Cafe Promenade. We had a couple who also ate at Ben and Jerry’s, and I was surprised that it was fairly reasonable. It didn’t seem to be any more expensive than you would pay on land. Our MDR waitstaff was good. They did a good job. Our Asst Waiter, Cyrus had a life lesson for us everyday after dinner. It became a running joke. He has been with Royal Caribbean for 25 years. Our waiter had just moved to Freedom of the Seas, and it was his first week aboard the ship. On Ship Activities: DH and I attended only 2 shows - the ice show and the late comedy show on the last evening. Others in our party took part in other activities. There was always something for everyone to do if they wanted. Everyone seemed satisfied with the entertainment. DS2 climbed the rock climbing wall, but no one got to the flowrider. It just wasn’t open enough hours that we had time. I was honestly surprised at how infrequently it was open. Only DS2 was eligible for any kid activities. Because he was on the cruise with his other siblings, he didn’t feel the need to participate in the teen activities. He attempted to join on one night but was a few minutes late, so he wasn’t allowed to participate. Not a big deal. Crew: Everyone was very friendly on the ship. Arnold, our room attendant did a great job. One day, the toilets were not working in our cabins, and he told my parents that he would put a rush order on their room because my dad had mobility issues and needed to be able to use his cabin bathroom. Every time we turned around, someone was doing something above and beyond. The crew is great. Other things that worked well: -Magnetic hooks - I bought some at Amazon for everyone before we left. They worked great. Brought clothespins too but didn’t need those. I would definitely bring the hooks again. -Tuxedo Rental - I rented a tuxedo for DS2 for formal nights. It was 92.10 with shoes and tax. I would absolutely do it again. He doesn’t have any fancy clothes and would outgrow whatever I bought him before he would wear it again. The tux was to his measurements and fit him great. Saved luggage space. -Envelopes with excursion info and tips - This worked great for us. Planned out tips in advance, every day just had to pull the envelope out of the safe. I would have underestimated the amount of cash we needed without doing this. I printed out details on the excursion and put that and appropriate tip money in an envelope for each excursion. -Drink packages - These were great. It added to our cruise experience and I would do it again, no questions asked. We got a great deal on it buying it prior to the cruise. -Tripcast - prior to the cruise, I researched ways to share photos from a trip. I found a site/app called Tripcast. This allowed us to have a private facebook like feed for our trip. You could invite others to join in. So this allowed us to share photos with those at home while we were on our trip (without broadcasting to the world that we are not at home) and it also allows us to share each others photos. Everyone in the feed can download all the pictures from the feed. It was great. -Excursions with meals included - I realized after taking all the excursions, that I would prefer to pay more and have some sort of food included. Or a specific food stop. It just makes the day more relaxing. And preferably something local. For both the volcano climbers and the St Kitts tour, we got back to the ship at like 3 pm without having had lunch. If I had just been DH and I, it would not have been as difficult to find something on our own, but with such a large group, when we had to get food on our own, it took significant time. So I would prefer a tour with the meal time built into the schedule. Things that didn’t work well- -Internet on ship - We heard a lot about how great the internet is on Freedom of the Seas. If that was great, I would hate to see not great. I don’t know if I am just spoiled by my internet at home, but we were not happy. You really couldn’t do anything with Surf and Stream. We weren’t even trying to stream anything. Downloading an app was impossible. Uploading a picture to SnapChat would time out. We had purchased a 4 pk before we left and we purchased another 4 pk on board. With the 4 pk on board, I was not able to connect another device, I could not switch between my iPad and phone. That made it less than useful to me. We could only upload pictures in the early morning hours (prior to 7 am), after that, it would time out. -New paper straws - This bothered some people in my group more than others. If I go on another cruise, I would bring some sort of straw to use. The straws just did not hold up in a frozen drink. Overall, the cruise was fantastic. Everyone had a great time. It had been a long time since my kids had been on a cruise. It was a totally different experience for them this time. We were busy every day but everyone enjoyed what we did. We had a variety of activities scheduled. Every port was different. Read Less

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