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To Go or Not to Go - Freedom of the Seas

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I've read some fairly critical reviews of the passengers on Freedom of the Seas out of San Juan from cruisers that traveled in the last few months. These types of reviews are harder to find before this fall/winter, so I'm wondering about their validity (I don't think anyone is lying, but some reviewers may be more sensitive than others).

 

I am booked for a June 2019 cruise on this ship and I'm concerned about the rowdy nature that has been described. I anticipate and hope to have a fun crowd on our cruise, but I'm not interested in a week of rudeness, cutting lines, people taking over areas of a ship as has been described in 5-6 reviews in recent months. 

 

Are these descriptions an accurate portrayal of cruisers out of San Juan? Or are these reviewers exaggerating?  

 

We are considering canceling our cruise and picking another ship/departure port if this is accurate information. 

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I'm curious about the responses you will receive. I'm on the "it is what you make of it" bandwagon, and every cruise I have gone on, we make the best of and have a nice time, even if things aren't perfect. I'm not sure it will be as easy looking past the behavior of others of it is truly as described by some recent cruisers.

 

We are booked for the cruise departing on Easter (4/21/19) and are super excited!! Just a little leary of those few reviews.

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We have cruised out of San Juan three times, the fourth is scheduled for next November.

 

With that said our cruises have been mixed, one good, one okay and one never again.  Helpful, I know.

 

The good sailing was on the Freedom last August.  The ship was almost sold out early so cabins were not released for a discounted price.  

 

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Welcome to cruise critic.  A few questions:

 

1)  Will this be your first cruise?

2)  How much could the behavior (mentioned in those negative reviews) ruin your cruise?

3)  Was there something in particular that was making you lean towards the Freedom out of San Juan?  Are there other desirable options?

 

Like you, I'm not so sure about cruising on the Freedom out of San Juan if I have other comparable desirable options.  I'm considering it as as a cruise in summer 2020 due to the itineraries it offers and the fact that we love Freedom class ships.

 

In the end, would it stop me from going?  Probably not, but not without major reservations about what I'm about to walk into.  We're pretty easy going but rude behavior, and "taking over portions of the ship" just don't sit well for me.

 

Dan

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30 minutes ago, go2somewhere said:

I've read some fairly critical reviews of the passengers on Freedom of the Seas out of San Juan from cruisers that traveled in the last few months. These types of reviews are harder to find before this fall/winter, so I'm wondering about their validity (I don't think anyone is lying, but some reviewers may be more sensitive than others).

 

I am booked for a June 2019 cruise on this ship and I'm concerned about the rowdy nature that has been described. I anticipate and hope to have a fun crowd on our cruise, but I'm not interested in a week of rudeness, cutting lines, people taking over areas of a ship as has been described in 5-6 reviews in recent months. 

 

Are these descriptions an accurate portrayal of cruisers out of San Juan? Or are these reviewers exaggerating?  

 

We are considering canceling our cruise and picking another ship/departure port if this is accurate information. 

 

Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

We've done about a half-dozen cruises out of San Juan, most on Adventure, which Freedom has replaced.  We have seen occasional self-centered behavior described in the recent reviews here, but it was isolated, not disruptive to our cruises, and shows up on virtually all our cruises.

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I sailed out of San Juan once, 8 years ago on the Serenade OTS. Granted, it was a long time ago and maybe things are different now but I read the same types of critical reviews back then as well.  As such, I was on the look-out for the rude, bad behavior that never really materialized.

 

Sure, some of the local passengers were very boisterous but they brought a certain energy to the ship, especially around the pool area.  But they were also super friendly, warm and willing to include you in the fun if you wanted to be included. And when the singing & talking got too loud - and sometime it did - I was always able to find a quiet spot on the ship to read or nap. MDR could be loud but that's usually the case on any cruise. Never was disturbed while in the cabin and I'm a light sleeper.

 

As for talking over areas of the ship, I've found that on every cruise I've taken, you'll start seeing the same people hanging out in the same locations after while.  Not sure if that mean taken over unless it's a family of 60 in Boleros.

 

Never noticed any line cutting but again, 8 years ago so my memory might be hazy. Perhaps in the WindJammer but that is usually slight out-of-control chaos on the best of cruises.

 

Of the 8 cruises I took, I'd probably rank it as #2 or #3 based on the friends we made on the ship. We did traditional seating out a table for 10 and all 5 couples got along great!

 

The most disappointing thing about the cruise was the 8:30 nighttime sailaway.

 

 

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Cruised Freedom of the seas in Oct 2018.  Third time going out of San Juan.  Other times were on serenade and jewel.  We had a great time and loved our itinerary.  Met some great people through our roll call.  That being said, we did notice that English speakers were in the minority.  I was kinda surprised at the number of Puerto Rican guests who spoke no English at all. I had to use my rudimentary Spanish quite a bit...like in the elevator just trying to be let out on a couple occasions.  No big deal.

The pool deck was packed and rowdy, but that’s pretty common on every cruise.  We do beach excursions if getting wet is important to us.

 

Because there were so many Spanish speakers, it was always easy to get good seats at shows and ship activities that were generally in English.  There may have been some activities in Spanish, but I didn’t see any advertised.  There is also a higher than normal chance that excursions get cancelled for lack of participation when so many guests already live in the Caribbean.

 

i wouldn’t let the reviews stop me from going on Freedom.  We could always find peace when we wanted it.  Just recognize that communication glitches and cultural differences can exist in the public areas more so than on cruises originating in conus and a small dose of extra patience might be needed.

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The reviews are mostly consistent both in this forum and in the general reviews for Freedom of the Seas. I am booked in 2019 and booked the cruise specifically for the itinerary which is port intensive. I have not been to any of the ports except for one. After booking, I have been reading the reviews, but I am keeping my booking for the itinerary. I did purchase “The Key” for this cruise. Looking forward to this cruise.

 

Edited by SteelMagnolia9

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3 hours ago, go2somewhere said:

I've read some fairly critical reviews of the passengers on Freedom of the Seas out of San Juan from cruisers that traveled in the last few months. These types of reviews are harder to find before this fall/winter, so I'm wondering about their validity (I don't think anyone is lying, but some reviewers may be more sensitive than others).

 

I am booked for a June 2019 cruise on this ship and I'm concerned about the rowdy nature that has been described. I anticipate and hope to have a fun crowd on our cruise, but I'm not interested in a week of rudeness, cutting lines, people taking over areas of a ship as has been described in 5-6 reviews in recent months. 

 

Are these descriptions an accurate portrayal of cruisers out of San Juan? Or are these reviewers exaggerating?  

 

We are considering canceling our cruise and picking another ship/departure port if this is accurate information. 

Firstly ...Welcome to Cruise Critic.

 

Sorry to say I am definitely one of the several that have posted of a recent bad experience on Freedom and absolutely did not exaggerate our experience.

 

Very sad because we loved the ship and the ports on our B2B in September...Have sailed on FOS (other itineraries) and have done the southern caribbean a few times (on Jewel & Adventure)..Would our experience stop us from booking this itinerary again...No...however I would opt to perhaps consider booking during the earlier months of the year instead.

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4 hours ago, dianajo67 said:

That being said, we did notice that English speakers were in the minority.  I was kinda surprised at the number of Puerto Rican guests who spoke no English at all.

I am always surprised when that happens to me at Walmart in Miami! 😱

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Did two cruises out of San Juan, thought the level of rudeness was about the same as sailing out of NYC, easy to ignore.

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Good Morning~

We cruised last June on Freedom, sailing from PR.  While I did notice that there were a larger number of Spanish speaking cruisers, I did not notice the rudeness or rowdiness that I've read about.  That may have been because this was our first cruise and we were blown away by Freedom and all the ship is.  

 

Enjoy your cruise and don't worry about it!  Like I said this was our first cruise and we were blown away, so much that we booked our next cruise while we were on the ship!  86 days till I sail away on Brilliance of the seas!

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I have experienced this bad behavior on other departure ports in Florida. I think it’s your perception and how you let it bother you. Anywhere there is that many people in a small space together there will be behaviors and attitudes that differ from your own. If you can accept that and go with the flow,you will be fine. Have fun!

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We have sailed out of SJ many times and are looking forward to our March 2019 B2B cruise on the Freedom. I respect any reviews, opinions and experiences others have had on their cruise but has zero influence whether or not we book or not book those cruises.  

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My family sailed out of San Juan on the Adventure of the Seas just after the hurricane in Oct. 2017.

 

There were many Puerto Rican families on that sailing for obvious reasons (they live in PR) and needed a vacation from the extreme chaos that PR was facing at that time.

 

We loved that sailing and did not notice any trouble or issues. The cruise was lively and fun.

 

I did notice many Puerto Rican women love to sing karaoke in the bars and that made for an entertaining & fun time when they had karaoke.

 

We're booked on the Freedom of the Seas for the July 28, 2019 sailing out of San Juan this summer and are very much looking forward to it.

 

As they say, "It's cool to begin your Caribbean cruise in the Caribbean".

 

Don't sweat the small stuff, enjoy your cruise with your family & friends.

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Go, we are ones who have experienced horrible guests on Freedom out of San Juan, doesnt stop us from booking it again.  2 cruises next year in suites cause prices are cheaper and the islands are greater.

 

 

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11 hours ago, go2somewhere said:

I've read some fairly critical reviews of the passengers on Freedom of the Seas out of San Juan from cruisers that traveled in the last few months. These types of reviews are harder to find before this fall/winter, so I'm wondering about their validity (I don't think anyone is lying, but some reviewers may be more sensitive than others).

 

I am booked for a June 2019 cruise on this ship and I'm concerned about the rowdy nature that has been described. I anticipate and hope to have a fun crowd on our cruise, but I'm not interested in a week of rudeness, cutting lines, people taking over areas of a ship as has been described in 5-6 reviews in recent months. 

 

Are these descriptions an accurate portrayal of cruisers out of San Juan? Or are these reviewers exaggerating?  

 

We are considering canceling our cruise and picking another ship/departure port if this is accurate information. 

I wrote one of those critical reviews and I was by no means exaggerating. Here’s what it comes down to: are you cruising for the ports or for the ship?

 

We usually cruise for the islands and for a very port intensive 1 day at sea, the freedom is your only option. If you are doing the ABC route there are options out of Florida. Which is what I wish we had done.

 

If I were to sail onboard the Freedom again, I would only do a balcony or suite for something with only one sea day. I would purchase the UDP.  I would also only do it if it was just my husband and I. It’s easier to navigate through the chaos with only 2 people.  If you want to see a show be prepared to go at least 45 minutes before. 

 

Know that airport and pier are a mess and plan to pay for a porter. You’ll be glad you did. 

Edited by RG306

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11 hours ago, PyrHeaven said:

I'm curious about the responses you will receive. I'm on the "it is what you make of it" bandwagon, and every cruise I have gone on, we make the best of and have a nice time, even if things aren't perfect. I'm not sure it will be as easy looking past the behavior of others of it is truly as described by some recent cruisers.

 

We are booked for the cruise departing on Easter (4/21/19) and are super excited!! Just a little leary of those few reviews.

We are on the same cruise! Also, we aren't as worried as some. I have an very nice co-worker who is originally from the Island (now Milwaukee 🙂 ). Although he isn't "rowdy" at work the culture is one of family, friends and fun. If you get a large, extended family from anywhere on vacation you can find the same situation, I think a few years back people were complaining about a family who took over a different ship- and the men all were in black socks and tank tops :classic_happy:. We are going in with an open mind and an opportunity to experience a new culture. PyrHeaven, look for us- our wardrobe is usually red & white or green & gold- although we also sport UWM black & gold.

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The bad reviews recently were for one date, november 25, and the problem was that it was partially charted by a radio station. Not gonna find that chaos on other date.

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Well, as a NYer, I am used to hearing negative comments about the cruisers out of Bayonne.

I would take the complaints with a grain of salt.   Part of traveling means meeting people, from other parts of the world and adapting.

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We have sailed out of San Juan twice.   And would again.   The trip is what you make of it.   I have had people who had to listen to their own music, and making everyone around them on the pool deck listen to it as well, on both RC ships and Disney ships.

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I have learned to take reviews with a grain of salt. I am often researching travel arrangements for my boss and always reading reviews. Some people will give a hotel  a 1 out of 5 stars simply because they had an issue at check-in! So EVERYTHING else about the hotel was awful bc of that one thing? Everything is subjective - like the people who complain about what others are wearing on formal night. Who cares!?

 

I sailed out of San Juan years ago. Yes, there are more Hispanic people - it is sailing out of San Juan after all. If you're one of those people who nit-picks and everything annoys you - then it may bother you - but so would any other cruise. To me, it was no different than sailing out of the states to be honest. Remember, more people are going to voice complaints online then they are about good service! 

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2 hours ago, prmet said:

The bad reviews recently were for one date, november 25, and the problem was that it was partially charted by a radio station. Not gonna find that chaos on other date.

Oooooh!  That was "El Crucero de la Salsa"!  Organized by the # 1 salsa music radio station in the world, Z93 FM. That explains a lot.  I love salsa music, I am Puerto Rican and live in San Juan, and I wouldn't consider going on THAT cruise!  The whole objective of that cruise is to parteeee and be rambunctious!

 

Having established that I am, in a fact, a Puerto Rican I can go ahead and talk about Puerto Ricans.  I was on an October 2018 Freedom cruise, and my only complaint was the crowding, which in my opinion, is what causes the rude behavior perception.  Here in PR they are heavily promoting "kids sail free sales", as I have stated on other threads.  Now, Puerto Ricans are party people, more so when they travel in large family and/or friends groups.  That might come as a culture shock to some people from the mainland.

 

But other than the crowding and the boisterous party behavior, I didn't find any actual rude behavior from my island mates.  In fact, I think they were being too courteous at times where it caused problems, like queuing up or making lines at and around food stations at the WJ, that were not designed for lines to begin with, and essentially blocking access for everyone else. 

 

Another problem that we didn't see ten years ago or so, is the proliferation of Bluetooth speakers.  That RCI should prohibit along with curling irons and what not.  We had people in the Solarium playing amplified music.  Some people just don't know better.  It would go a long way into passenger fellowship if RCI trained its crew to deal with that annoyance better.  On our side, PR travel agents should tell their clients to leave those at home.

 

Another thing that contributes to loud behavior is the UDP packages.  And here I am sorry but I must include myself.  I think it leads to more drinking than usual and yeeehahs and "yo soy boricua pa'que tu lo sepas" chants.  Which is another thing that the cruise director staff should pipe down on: egging the PRs into EVEN MORE loudness.

 

There.  I said my piece.

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2 hours ago, prmet said:

The bad reviews recently were for one date, november 25, and the problem was that it was partially charted by a radio station. Not gonna find that chaos on other date.

Look back at those reviews...they actually weren't for "one date" ...and those certainly weren't "all" chartered. My Sept B2B was a different onboard mix each of my two weeks and they were both just as bad as the weeks before us and the weeks after us. I still think those that sail earlier in the year seem to experience less of this onboard experience. Although we have sailed during the Sept-October months on Jewel & Adventure...perhaps the fact that it was Freedoms first time serving (sailing out of) San Juan that made the difference that attracted the large extended groups and the low cruise prices.

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