Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
SeeingTheWorldBySea

Freedom of the Seas Review 1/6-1/13,2019

Recommended Posts

I can't help it i'm long winded. You've been warned. 

 

I thought I would write a review of our recent cruise on Freedom of the Seas. I hope some find it helpful. I tried to include things that I wondered about before going, and also some info on what we tipped because I have seen that question a lot on CC. Tipping can be confusing and can make people feel like they gave too little or too much. Anything is appreciated when it comes to tipping. I don't think there is a right amount, it's what you feel comfortable giving.  I included some pictures and reviews of the excursions we did.

 

We sailed Jan 6-13, 2019 out of San Juan to St.Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia, Barbados, and St. Marteen. Our traveling group consisted on myself, my husband, our 2 children ages 16 months and 3.5 years, my parents, and 2 of my aunts. We had 2 grand suites and one with a connected balcony stateroom on the 10th floor.  Originally I had a 2 bedroom aft suite with a connecting balcony on deck 9, but when my aunts wanted to come we moved up a deck so we could be all in a row. It worked out well.

 

Our adventure began as it seems most do with us...with a problem. Some of you may have read my review from the Allure in March 2018 where we had to drive 27 hours to Ft. Lauderdale because a Nor'easter grounded all flights. This time it was not a Nor'easter, but still soaking rains.  Since we had 8 people and at least 12 suitcases I thought it best to hire a van to pick us up at 4am to get us to the airport for our 7:40a flight. 4am comes and I see the lights of the van at the end of my driveway. Awesome- we are right on time! But wait... why is the van not moving from the end of my driveway? Send husband and father out to investigate. They come back in 10 minutes later soaking wet from the rain to tell us the Sprinter van is stuck in the grass. The driver missed the driveway and was now spinning tires stuck on my lawn, tearing it to shreds. Now I am getting nervous. We are on a tight time frame since we still had to get my aunts in another town and get to the airport an hour away. Finally at 4:20 I went out to call the shots because sometimes let's face it, men need the push of a woman to get things moving. The final verdict was to use my husband’s truck to push the van, and thankfully that worked. A little behind schedule, soaking wet from the rain, and shoes covered in mud we were off to the next stop. Thankfully this was the one and only hiccup we had. I'll take it. I was too perturbed to say the least and forgot to take pictures of the debacle. The cost of the van was $287 and we gave him $350.

 

We arrived at the airport and passed through the ticket counter and security with no problems. Our JetBlue flight was on time. We utilized family board so we could install the car seats without holding too many other passengers up in the aisles. Our kids have flown about 4 times now and we always bring their car seats. It can be a pain, but it’s the safest way to go. We have a system where we put the car seats in the seat part of the umbrella stroller and use a bungee cord to secure them. This makes it easy to move around the airport and down to the plane since you only have push the stroller. We had a great flight crew and they were very sociable and funny. This made time pass quickly. The kids slept for almost the whole flight, which was about 3 hours and 45 mins. Safe landing in San Juan and off we went to find our driver to the hotel. I used Go Puerto Rico Shuttles and our driver Idelisse was waiting at baggage claim with my name on a sign. She was very nice and waited as we got a porter to help with all 12 suitcases. We were headed to the Courtyard Marriott Isle Verde which was close by. The cost was $45 and I tipped her $30. She promised to be back the next morning at 10:30a for our ride to the pier. I tipped the airport porter $25.

 

We had 3 partial ocean view rooms booked at the Courtyard. The property is very nice but the rooms could use some updating. The rooms were clean and the beds were comfortable, but there was a slight smell of mold in the hallways and the rooms could use a paint job. The property next door leaves much to be desired and our room was really the only one of the 3 that had a decent ocean view. The other 2 looked into the rundown building next door.  In fact we took a quick walk along the front of the hotels and my 3 year old said he was little scared. Regardless, we enjoyed our stay here and we felt safe. Our first stop was to find food. We ate outside on the patio. Service was good but slow. I swear we were there for 3 hours just eating lunch. The room came with 2 pina coladas each and some bets at the casino. I got the virgin pina colada and my 16 month old loved it. We had everything from nachos to pizza, steak, grilled chicken, and blts. The food was good and I'm sorry I don't recall what the bill was. I don't remember it being overpriced though. From there we took the kids down to the beach and the pool while some went to the casino. Because it is a public beach, if you go up to the pool attendant they will give you towels and wrist band allowing access to the pool. My kids loved loved loved the beach. The sand is forever embedded in their bathing suits. I read about sand fleas ahead of going and was given advice on CC to get Cactus juice spray. I did and sprayed us all down before going out on the beach. No one got bite and I don't know if it was too early in the afternoon/evening or the spray worked but either way, no bites here.  We had a good night sleep and enjoyed the buffet breakfast the next morning before Idelisse came for us. Breakfast was standard fare with an omelet station and this amazing cornmeal porridge made with coconut milk and sugar. I also wanted to mention that we were able to get a crib from housekeeping for our 16 month old. It was like one of those metal institution cribs, and she only slept in it for 2 hours before waking. 4 people in a king size bed… sounds like my every night at home.  The room rate came to $365 with all the taxes and fees but I was able to save $40 by using my AXEM blue card that had an offer for Marriott stays.

 

20190105_133831.thumb.jpg.422ed3e4a13b731dd06aa66c69c38e41.jpg

view from our room

 

20190105_154642.thumb.jpg.5d4918fc2d09e1c67faf6c9eaadbe963.jpg

steak so tender you could cut it with a spoon

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Idelisse was running a little late for our transfer to the pier the next morning. She apologized and more than made up for it. I had requested a quick stop at the store to get some beach toys for the islands. She stopped at the Pueblo and I jumped out of the van. A quick search around the store only to come up empty handed. I said don’t worry about it but she zoomed us over to the Walgreens where they had a huge selection. I was so pleased to get the kids beach toys and they were too. Once at the pier the vehicle line to get in was long. All of a sudden one of the security guards was waving her to drive to another lane and we quickly bypassed all the waiting vehicles. Front door service in just a few minutes. Can’t beat that. The fee was $95 and I tipped her $40. You may have read that Pan America pier is madness. It’s true. But really, what pier isn’t when ships are disembarking and embarking? As Idelisse unloaded all of our luggage I flagged down porter. Supposedly the porters are only there for the people disembarking, but look for the talk skinny kid with white sunglasses. He quickly scooped up all of our luggage in seconds, I gave him $25, and off we went to the security line. Security went quick, but I needed a pat down because I had my 16 month old in the carrier pouch. No big deal. My dad has a pacemaker so he got one too. The line for suite check in was virtually empty so within minutes we had our seapass cards in hand and we were walking towards the ship.  The time was roughly 11:45. I did notice there wasn’t a lot of waiting area seating available in the terminal. We sat for a few minutes while my aunts went to look for some wine at the duty free shop.

 

Once on board, right there next to Isaac’s dining room was the first beverage package person. Now my 2 aunts were sharing one of the grand suites. One of them is diabetic and for some reason she couldn’t accomplish ahead of time getting permission not to have a beverage package even though the other aunt wanted the deluxe one. Not sure why but either way, the non-diabetic aunt spent a few minutes talking to the less than enthused crew member about the deluxe package. After a few minutes I couldn’t help but step in and tell my aunt to move on. This guy wasn’t interested in selling anything. He could have cared less if she spent $525 and he would get the 18% gratuity, so I said let’s find someone who wants to help. Needless to say, she never ended up getting the package and just consumes bottle after bottle of wine during the week…and paid the price when the binge was over.

We weren’t hungry and didn’t want to fight the Windjammer crowd so we settled in at the Café Promenade for a quick drink and some desserts. My husband went across the way to the cupcake place and got 2 big cupcakes for the kids. They didn’t like either one of them. My kids are picky eaters even with desserts. We sat there for a while chatting with one of the crew members who has been with Royal for 14 tours. She was lovely. At about 12:45 my husband, the kids, and I went up to explore the pools, gym, and kids zone. The kid zone wasn’t opened yet but we returned later in the day to grab a bag of toys for the room. We would never utilize the services- just not interested- but I can say the space looked a lot smaller than the one on Allure. Also the crew member told me that in fuel they allow for open play daily from 9a-5p. We never made it there either as we were always in port or otherwise. My overall impression of the spaces was they seemed away from other activities. I liked the set upon Allure better for their kid area in relation to the pool areas. Also I noticed tattered tapestries outside the kid zone. Why keep them there? Take it down if it’s ripped.

 

Finally at about 1:15p the announcement came that the rooms were ready.  On the way down the hall to our room I noticed how wide the hallways were, and also could notice signs of wear and tear. There was a funk that stayed all week. The carpets were visibly stained. Just observations, nothing that bothered us as the week went on. Our stateroom was virtually perfect, very spacious. More spacious than the grand suite on Allure.  The room was well taken care of and I only noticed one problem with it- the top drawer on the entry table was broke. Oh and the phone was a gross mess. It was very dirty and stained. We had a lovely welcome fruit plate and cookies. And our 3 refreshment cups were on the counter. The pack n’ play I requested was folded up by the slider (a change from Allure where it was already set up). For booking purposes I had me, my husband, and my parents assigned to this room. My kids were assigned to the connecting balcony, but my parents actually occupied that room.  Within 15 minutes of getting to the room the baggage started to arrive. And soon our steward Max came to introduce himself- he was a fast talker.  I asked for an extra duvet for the pack n’ play padding, for the sofa to be made into a bed (which we asked to leave like that all week so he never had to make it up), for the connecting door to be unlocked, and also for all 3 balcony dividers to be opened. At the evening turn down all these requests were fulfilled. Max was reluctant to provide the extra duvet for the pack n’ play noting the company gets nervous about adding padding, but he said if I wanted it he would bring it. I totally understand this. If she was 6 months and not 16 months I wouldn’t have asked for it. I can tell you I know when my daughter even rolls over at night- I am very well aware of her safety. I appreciated his concern and felt safe using the duvet. I also brought my own sheet so things were nice and tight.

 

IMG_4858.thumb.JPG.893c7172117eab77e427b1fbad56496c.JPG

IMG_4851.thumb.JPG.b8f223fc52e7a1368de51d9e8f86b36b.JPG

IMG_4852.thumb.JPG.e460035f11ef90a3a0a155c22b4f8777.JPG

IMG_4854.thumb.JPG.15e7573a011d8794faf8c90cc72b70fa.JPG

IMG_4855.thumb.JPG.845d0ad60d8418fdaefe50b92dec38a8.JPG

IMG_4861.thumb.JPG.e2992dc98902f8f86cb923bd89fe588b.JPG

20190113_065548.thumb.jpg.d862e83e0ed16304d5deac62f62b7cdd.jpg

Standard for me is to take Clorox wipes to every imaginable surface, handle, light switch, etc . I do it in all hotels I stay at. I quickly got to work doing my thing.  Unpacking went quick- we travel often so I have all the kids stuff in packing cubes and leave all of our evening clothes on the hangers from home. There is so much storage space in these grand suites it’s amazing. Before muster everything had its home for the week.  At some point we wandered down to the promenade to find out about the internet package. I guess I didn’t research this enough before sailing because I assumed internet was included with the suite as it was on Allure. When I didn’t see the codes in the room we went to investigate. I ended up paying $97 for 1 devise so my kids could be entertained at meal time on their tablet. This certainly came in handy for other things like watching the dog on the cameras at her babysitter, and my husband watched some showed on prime at night while the kids went to bed early.

 

Before I forget, about a week before the cruise I got an email from the concierge Geslini introducing herself and asking if we needed anything. This is when I confirmed the pack n’ play and also requested a change in dining. During one of my aunts many calls to Royal in the year before sailing, she changed our dining to late seating forgetting we are traveling with toddlers that eat early and can’t chill that late. So I asked Geslini to move our time. She did just that and we were very pleased with our seating assignment near the window in Isaac’s.

Shortly after 5pm we were called to muster. Our station was deck 4 outside. Boy was it muggly. And naturally from there we went to dinner which was delayed. A typical first night dinner can be hit or miss. I want to say I had the prime rib and it was fine. Everyone else seemed satisfied with their dishes but my father said his steak and potato were cold. We requested savory bites for Tuesday night as we had the 3 night specialty dining package (pre-purchased online for $60 each) and the first night was the 2nd night. 

 

I really cannot remember what we did every night, but I can say we never went to a show and my mom and aunts spent most nights in the casino while me, husband, dad, and the kids played shuffle board and retired early. I’m good with that. The bed was ridiculously comfortable and I actually couldn’t wait to go to bed each night. Also my kids haven’t slept that good since they were born. My 16 month old did great in the pack n’ play and my 3.5 year old was content on the sofa bed. They both found their way into our bed at some point in the night as typically of every night at home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Our first port was St. Kitts. This day I had pre-reserved beach chairs at Carambola Beach Club and the plan was to take a taxi over.  Before heading to Chops we stopped at the concierge lounge to see Geslini. My parents and aunts were complaining their beds were too hard and Geslini called right away to have extra pads added. She also made for use the rest of our specialty dining reservations. Since we had the suites we had access to Chops for breakfast. This was wonderful. No searching for a table, yay! The first day we had to sit 4/3 (one aunt never made it to breakfast all week), but by the next day we had our standard setup for 7. Andy was our server and he was great.  My husband likes windjammer options as do I so normally we would grab something from out there and bring it into Chops. We did order off the menu at times too and I can say the pancakes are delicious as is the French toast. 

 

After breakfast we grabbed our beach gear and headed off the ship. Down the end of the pier, off to the left there is a gate. At the gate is a taxi driver named Anthony. He hailed us right away and off we went to Carambola. It was $10 round trip and we set a pickup time. He gave us wrist bands so other driver would know we had a ride back and didn’t bother us. Carambola was about 15 minutes away and along the way Anthony gave us some history of the island and pointed out beautiful scenery. Once at Carambola I checked us in with the desk and we paid our dues. $25 for 2 chairs and an umbrella. We got 2 sets and wristbands which allowed us access to the bathroom. They were very strict on the bathroom. No wristband, no bathroom use. And wash sand off before even thinking about going into the bathroom. There was no real direction on which chairs to take so eventually I flagged down a worker and he set us up right along the waters edge. I do suggest getting here sooner than later. It fills up fast.  There were guys trying to sell jet ski rides and some guy came by inviting everyone to his bar down the beach. It’s a public beach. And then there was the guy with the monkey. Now, when I first saw him I said self “don’t make eye contact, pretend you don’t see him or he is going to make you hold monkey”. I did so well so for a few minutes then he saw me look at the monkey. And sure enough he came over to me. I insisted I didn’t want to hold the monkey. No means no, right? Well no I guess it means give your Canon rebel camera to a stranger and hold his pet monkey. $5 dollars and 10 pictures of a monkey on my head later I was in the ocean giving myself a sea bath. But really in all seriousness, my mom and aunt were really bothered by the guy with the monkey. He was sort of yelling at it. We felt bad. The jet ski guy said go to the bar and complain and they will call the cops. We didn’t want to be “those people”, so we tried to ignore it. At some point I went to the bar and ordered lunch. I was surprised no servers were coming around asking for drink orders or food orders. I ordered a chicken club, a lobster roll, some veggie pita thingy, and chicken tenders and fries, 4 waters and 1 milk. It came to $89 dollars and I gave the guy $105 and asked him to bring it to our chairs. He did and I was thankful. The food was good but the lobster was spicy. It said spicy but he insisted it wasn’t. This day was spent in the sand and the water. My kids are beach bums and were neck deep in the sand the entire time. Anthony our driver was early and we were ready when he got there at 2:40. On the way back we saw a green velvet monkey run across the highway. I know I tipped Anthony on the way there but I can’t remember what it was. I know I gave him $20 more on the way back. Back at the port we walked into a few shops but didn’t purchase anything. In this port remember to have your passport as the security checks it along with your seapass card.

20190107_143720.thumb.jpg.caf30d4b4dc2057a766b0e918e0d2500.jpg

20190107_135206.thumb.jpg.8cdfdc1383bf99931427f687bc071e32.jpg

20190107_135216.thumb.jpg.b39bff8f7cba577fc73f3f96e90c5104.jpg

IMG_4910.thumb.JPG.6b72b8ee7cdae9d303249fff43ebff99.JPG

This night we had dinner in Chops. Most of us had the filet and the sides are family style. I’m pretty sure we tried them all. The bacon was thick and tender. The wedge salad was yummy.  No complaints, it was a great meal. Andy was our server and we gave him an extra $40.

20190107_183833.thumb.jpg.07510299cc20e62d348c803689269191.jpg20190107_183821.thumb.jpg.5ddbc01c22bdfc2fdfbeea928a4441f1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 3 was Antigua.  For this day I booked a tour through scooter snorkeling antigua who I met here on CC. He hooked us up with his cousin Stanley who took us around the island for a few hours. He had a plan and I customized it a bit. Since originally it was supposed to be all 8 of us but only ended up being 5 (3 adults and 2 kids) I ended up paying the full fare of $300. No big deal, this is vacation. Car seats clicked in and off we went to see the sights. The best spot in St. John to see the city is at the hospital. So that was our first stop for an overlook. Then we went to Fort Bay, drove around to check out the resorts like Sandals, Devil’s Bridge, and the Donkey Sanctuary. Stanley was very personalable and gave us great history about the island. My husband could talk a dog off a meat wagon so he was in his glory chatting it up with Stanley. I really enjoyed the Donkey Sanctuary and “adopted” one of them for $25 donation. By 2pm we were tired and hungry so Stanley dropped us back at the dock. We could have also gone to the beach and stopped for lunch but we sort of wanted to get the kids in the splash area on the ship. I gave Stanley an extra $25 and off we went to Windjammer and the splash zone.

IMG_4945.thumb.JPG.0e0abcd463f44ff9c93ba2d439b2814e.JPG

IMG_4943.thumb.JPG.d5684273725cdb1c74778244ec763acd.JPG

IMG_4946.thumb.JPG.3665bdc733e4987d2b1199498b3be645.JPG

IMG_4954.thumb.JPG.af78f9fd5a5a163e0ac113874ff93989.JPG

20190108_120958.thumb.jpg.f393c75fe25682d763c3da6022ba1bba.jpg

I mistakenly put my 16 month old in the regular splash area and not the baby area. Of course she had a swim diaper on and even thought it was for a nanosecond and she never sat down one of the lifeguards came over to point me in the right direction. Totally my fault as I was wrapped up in the 3 year olds excitement. Baby and I went to designated area which doesn’t offer much excitement. It’s just a small area with warmer water. Nothing squirts up or down. It’s a little lame. Oh well, she still had fun. And she met a friend who she instantly hugged as if they knew each other for a lifetime. Kids are cute.  After the kids lips were blue because the water was so cold, they wanted ice cream. The sprinkles area only had vanilla or swirl. One each and they were pleased.

 

This day was also the first art auction. Now I know some people hate the art stuff and would never go never mind by anything, but to each their own. I go and I always buy something. I collect works by Michael Godard and I have purchased several on cruises and on land. This day my mom went and I met her there. But I was taking a long time to even get started so I left before it kicked off. They say one time but tack an hour on to that before it even starts. My mom stayed and bid on a mystery package but later that night I talked her out of it.

 

My mom and one of my aunts booked some spa services for this evening. They said they enjoyed their massages and as a treat to me they booked my one for the next night. I was thankfully but I didn’t want to go. I’ve had plenty of massages on cruises and honestly I never enjoy them. All I think about the whole time is what I’d rather be doing. It’s just not worth the inflated prince to me. So my plan was to cancel. More on this coming up.

 

Dinner this night was in the main dining room. Now, I’ve only read about savory bites. Are these really savory bites?

20190108_182859.thumb.jpg.40c4269e2df8c56da1c843b2105922b9.jpg

I can’t see what is so yummy about them. I felt bad asking for them and then not wanting them so 3 nights I got stuck eating most of them to make it look good. I mean they were fine, but I wouldn’t request them again. I probably had some cow flesh because that’s what I had every night. I never had a bad meal but nothing wowed me clearly since I can’t remember. I think this night there was  molten cake that was pretty good. Who knows. Sorry, I’m no help in the food department.  Anything is better than having to prep it, cook it, clean up after it, so I’ll take it.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Day 4 we were in St. Lucia. This day I booked a tour through Cosol tours. I read great reviews. 7 out of 8 of us went. The cost was $75 for adults and $45 for the 3 year old. The 16 month old was free. In our van was another family of 5 who were from Puerto Rico. We had some fun conversation and my dad and the dad from their group connected because they do similar work. Car seats clicked in, Fat man was our diver. I have to be honest. I read great things about this tour and while I can’t say it was bad, I will say it was a lot of driving and the stops seemed rushed. I was green by the end of the day. Up and down those streets can do a number on ones equilibrium. Fat man was not as chatty as I was hoping he would be. We made lots of stops- at a lookout swarming with vendors, at the banana plantation and the bananas were so yummy, at a place to have a buffet style breakfast with all sorts of local treats. Every stop we were offered a beverage of any kind. We took a speed boat ride to the beach between the Pitons, we saw the volcano (a guide tells you all about it- he was informative and earned a $10 tip), we saw the waterfall, but collectively as a group we opted out of the mud baths. It was super crowded and somehow we got behind in time. On the way back to the port we stopped at that same place as breakfast and they gave us warm bread and cheese. This was an awesome snack. Yum. The ladies working at this stop were sweet and my mom gave them a few bucks, not sure how much.  It was a long day and it was full of sites but just know those roads are unforgiving and I am not one to get motion sick.  The total was $420 for our group and I gave him $450. I think I went a little cheap here because I wished he was more social- plus I was car sick and couldn’t really count.  Back at the port we sought out a convenience store for a silo of pringles as requested by the 3.5 year old. When we didn’t find them I bought them back on board at the tune of $5.99. The smile was worth it.

IMG_4972.thumb.JPG.c85c6540620136592baaa7b2b46d5782.JPG

 

IMG_4970.thumb.JPG.b3b34a30279221ffbe656a401857008a.JPG

IMG_4979.thumb.JPG.f4f3432a44bdbcb46dcaa39e37810468.JPG

IMG_5001.thumb.JPG.9e1df1cd812f7407faedef51b9e98f50.JPG

IMG_5009.thumb.JPG.5b3a6f48ecaa3513e81c49a4d9b67fdf.JPG

20190109_141905.thumb.jpg.5e407906bc94b076dc6dfeea72159a09.jpg

IMG_5039.thumb.JPG.4c4f4551164543573e0deacb04d30fd6.JPG

IMG_5052.thumb.JPG.cae173a795d8606472c9a972b05fc468.JPG

IMG_5058.thumb.JPG.5b8c5d6202a91787736b09c29338e85e.JPG

Remember that massage I mentioned from yesterday? Well this morning, right when the spa opened at 8:30, I called up to cancel the service. The receptionist I spoke with clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bunk bed because she was beyond rude to me. I could not believe how she was treating me. When I asked her for her name she literally told me to come up to the spa and find out who she was. I was livid and it’s a good thing I had an excursion booked because I would have gone up there and it would not have been pretty. She refused to let me cancel without being charged so I rescheduled. I immediately called guest services who contacted the spa manager. She was in a meeting but I was to go see her later in the evening to have it straighten out. Long story short, the massage was cancelled and there was no fee.  Basically, there is 24 hour cancellation policy so I had to rebook further out then cancel it. This is fine and it would have been nice for the receptionist to explain that instead of being  a “B” first thing in the morning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thursday, Day 5. Barbados. This day I booked a catamaran through Silvermoon Charters. This was the only day all 8 of us did something together. Silvermoon is a luxury catamaran that only takes 12 guests at a time. We were picked up from gate 2 at the pier at 8:30a. I did not bring the car seats this day as I knew it was a very short drive over to the pier. Yes, I know accidents can happen at any distances and I made sure to buckle them up and hold them down. I could see Silvermoon from my balcony. The quick 2 minute ride over to the dock where we met Captain Luke and his crew who would be serving us this day. The catamaran is beautiful and well taken care of. We had full access to every area, the salon, the bedrooms if needed, the bathrooms. We were constantly being offered drinks and snacks. We had 3 stops for snorkeling and at one stop we had lunch. Everything was wonderful and highly recommend this tour. We tipped $100 at the end.

20190110_085251.thumb.jpg.ea174878784b597aa128e59b97fca6d9.jpg

20190110_095127.thumb.jpg.3e263bc27fbc74394275f9a29bf38d6a.jpg

IMG_5063.thumb.JPG.dc6572eaf10a60360b6bd9a34f61a745.JPG

20190110_120604.thumb.jpg.688ae73b4fca45670142b291081f0ab3.jpg

 

IMG_5080.thumb.JPG.0f51dc74b5f49ae8e412945bf335dce2.JPG20190110_141449.thumb.jpg.ac66634a8920b30b30bd90ac1c7692b9.jpg

This night we had dinner in Giovanni’s table.  The service and the meal were wonderful. Everyone order what they wanted individual and then we had a few things served family style. The meat plank was very good, as was the risotto and the bucatini. Dessert wasn’t really a hit and I found myself in windjammer looking for coconut cookies. We gave the server $40 tip. Sorry, i realized my pictures are non-existent by the end of the week. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Friday was an at sea day and the day flew by.  My husband went to the gym for a few hours and when he got back we went to the galley tour which was an invite for suite guests only. We have done galley tours because but it’s always amazing to see all the food prepped in mass quantities. The head chef that was giving us the tour kept mentioning how everything has a time stamp and if it is out for a period of time, as soon as the time stamp expires it gets thrown out. Lots of waste. I did notice most chefs had gloves on but some didn’t.

IMG_5102.thumb.JPG.6b5bd31039093e7484ab136fb2212e26.JPG

IMG_5106.thumb.JPG.ccac8f06d80f91b61f71cbfcd9f19d17.JPG

IMG_5107.thumb.JPG.e4c7c056163b744b435cf6fea640136b.JPG

IMG_5109.thumb.JPG.a59f76327d16cf9a1ba5df762cd75d96.JPG

After the tour I got my husband, kids, and dad settled by the pool. There were no seats anywhere. Not even one. Chair hogs maybe but it was a sea day so that is expected. From there I went with my mom and aunts to the main dining room for tutti salad for lunch and off to the art auction. Tutti salad is always fun but I guess I never noticed before that they don’t wipe the bowls or the cutters off before the next salad is made. Thankfully I am not allergic to anything but if anyone is they really need to speak up. I was grossed out a little but tried to ignore it. The person in front of me had salmon and the whole time I ate mine I kept thinking I tasted salmon.  My mom and I stayed the whole auction and the piece I was there for was literally they last one. They did it in a mystery of 6 pieces. I was pleased with the price and can’t want to hang my newest piece. And the best part- my mom bought it for me. Thanks mom, you’re the best. Some people spent big bucks there. I recall a $12k and an $8+k bid on various pieces.

20190109_011809.thumb.jpg.4cae71a17b5057614202f0f79a15b9be.jpg

Dinner this evening was main dining room because it was lobster night. I don’t eat seafood but I most others at my table had it. They did the part about thanking the servers, etc. I gave our servers $60 since we wouldn’t see them again on the last night.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saturday, Day 6, St. Maarten- This was a make your own adventure day. My mom and aunts did who knows what but they stayed on the ship all day. No wait, they got off so my aunt could buy a carton of cigarettes. Me, husband, kids, and dad took the water taxi to the beach right across from the ship. It was $6 each for the adults (had a coupon for $1 off each) roundtrip. Once at the dock of the beach a guy on the left grabbed our attention and escorted us to some nice chairs by the water. He said the SMX was his restaurant and we could go there for the bathroom, WiFi, whatever we needed. We never did but appreciated the offer. 2 chairs and an umbrella was $20. The kids played in the sand and the water for a few hours before we headed back to the ship. I gave the beach toys to one of the girls working the chairs as I didn’t want to lug them home. I will say it was a very nice beach but I was getting tired of the people trying to sell stuff. No, I don’t want a sarong, or a hat, or braids, or a massage, for the 20th time.  My husband said there were hardly any fish or coral in the water. Perhaps still churned up from the hurricane?  When we got back to the port we got some macaroons (pricey morels at 2 bucks each) and went back on board. After dropping our stuff in the room and bathing the kids, we went up to meet the rest of our group at Johnny Rockets. They had already eaten but we stayed and did our best at stuffing our faces. I tried to eat so much because I knew it was one price. I was stuffed sick afterwards. It was $11 each and milkshakes were part of the package.  I gave the server and extra $10.

20190112_094902.thumb.jpg.ced43bf8bb10926d944358a40547617d.jpg

20190112_123809.thumb.jpg.7502ea8a2d73cfd38d768675358dff3b.jpg

20190112_125136.thumb.jpg.b1899785e375c2702a15aa56a4ebfa3e.jpg

20190112_142845.thumb.jpg.c0db81381db72b9f265a43f46478e22b.jpg

Dinner tonight was at Sabor. Can I just say the guacamole is amazing? We don’t like heat so we got it mild and my 16 month old went nuts over it. My 3.5 year old didn’t eat anything besides a churro. I had the barbacoa tacos and I was pleased to see it was not face meat but instead short rib. They were delicious. The rest of the evening was spent finishing packing and setting the bags out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On departure morning we went to Chop’s around 7:30 and then headed to the suite waiting area for 8:45. Our flight wasn’t until 1:40 so we weren’t in a rush. Again, another reason to book a suite. Separate waiting area, escorted by the concierge off the ship, luggage in terminal waiting all by itself, separate line at customs. We got out and through customs in minutes. Again, I booked with Go Puerto Rico Shutttle and we found them right away. The porter we had this time waited with us while the shuttle came around to get closer. I gave him $35 because he was held up a little bit. I could see he was anxious to get back in the game. The ride back to the airport was $95 and we tipped him $30. The porter we had at the airport was wonderful. The luggage has to go through USDA inspection before it can be brought to the ticket counter. This is pretty dumb since after it goes though the xray machine you then take possession of it again, meaning if you had anything you wanted to take back like a coconut you could always add it after it’s been screened. It’s not like TSA where you don’t see the bag again until you get to your destination. Yes, they put a sticker on the bag but that’s not enough. I feel like it needs to be more secure to make sense. The porter then helped us get all of our luggage tags on the bags and right up to the agent. He was with us for a while because I had to weigh some of the bags and add in our toiletries from the night before. I gave him $45 because we took so much of his time. Our flight was delayed an hour so we spend quite a bit of time in the san Juan airport. Bring your wallet as food is expensive. 2 burgers, a chicken tender, and 1 drink= $38.

 

A few more random thoughts:

Really the grand suite is the way to go if you can afford the extra money. I didn’t use the concierge lounge but everyone else did and it seemed really nice. The space in the stateroom alone to me is worth it. The shower is spacious but the sprayer tends to soak everything in its path. Be prepared to wipe down the granite seat area of all your toiletries will be swimming away. Also on Allure I brought an inflatable tub for the baby to bathe in. It didn’t fit well in this tub. Thankfully I had a cheap shower mat so they wouldn’t slip and slide. 

IMG_5113.thumb.JPG.f6ee9a89fca38454d093b0e3c9929e5f.JPG

One morning we ordered room service breakfast by putting the card out. I got a call saying it was on the way right when I requested it for. We didn’t order much, a fruit plate, yogurt, bagel, scrambled eggs. I tipped the guy $10. Another time my husband ordered plain pasta, a burger and fries for the 3 year old who slept through lunch. Again $10 tip. Room service was much speedier than on Allure. One morning they called my parents room asking if they ordered and they said no. I saw it on the bill but it fell off. I’m guessing it was just a mistake in the room number.

 

My 16 month old kept to her early mornings like she does at home and was up most days at 5:30. My husband and I would take turns getting her out of the room and down to the café to get some milk and stroll around the ship. If your kids are milk lovers like mine they will find the milk on the ship “weird”. The carton stuff must be powdered milk because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated once it is refrigerated or opened.  The only place to find decent milk is in the café out of the pump like you’d make coffee.  So each morning we would go there.  This was the only time I really wandered around the ship. It wasn’t until day 5 that I found the rock climbing wall and the putt putt (never to be visited again).

 

20190109_094946.thumb.jpg.949ea80c6c2bb13e4e63cddbe05f4b88.jpg

20190106_131605.thumb.jpg.409e38a66c7796751bd9b31ba95cd471.jpg

20190109_100131.thumb.jpg.b8b5fe1bfccadd749a7d0c733ab6fdee.jpg

20190109_100747.thumb.jpg.8f177fd54cc4b68dd53aeffee4add606.jpg

20190109_100424.thumb.jpg.18833be43d124574b9fa872815c7c49f.jpg

20190109_094043.thumb.jpg.ea26710e52d5595b08052f992520d56f.jpg

20190109_094143.thumb.jpg.034b472bc52c74d1ccf7bc8143f1a58a.jpg

20190109_094342.thumb.jpg.b00bf0743336e1c3280c82f8d249b389.jpg

Max our room attendant got sick on day 5 and we didn’t see him again until the morning we were leaving. His helpers- one of while I’m pretty sure was his girlfriend- were both friendly but our rooms were late getting cleaned up. I tend to do most of the pre work for the stewards (ie- put all trash in one bag, pull up the bed linens, pile up all the towels) so they are in and out quick. We gave Max $120 at the end of the week. I’d like to think he shared it.

This was our second Royal cruise and both times we had the refreshment package. For me I’m going to say I won’t get it again. I don’t drink soda, I can only have so many specialty coffees in one day, and getting bottled water was kind of a pain. If you ordered a drink you could get 1 small bottle of water. If not, then 2 small ones. I want a big bottle so I don’t have to keep coming back. Plus this was very port heavy so we weren’t on the ship often. I probably went to the freestyle machine 10 times and every time I got peach vitamin water. For me I realized the package is a waste. It’s only 1 week. I don’t need anything other than what is included.

 

Overall impressions of the ship- comparing it to Oasis class on Allure in March I can say I liked Allure better. I really enjoyed the “neighborhoods” especially the boardwalk area at night for the kids. I would travel on Freedom again, after refit of course, but for the ports and not so much the ship. I am not sure what areas will be upgraded in refit but I can hope they get new carpets from top to bottom, and the tile in windjammer needs to be replaced.

I saw lots of comments on CC before we sailed that other vacationers were rude, congregating in areas, loud, etc. I can say that I never saw any of this. There was some impromptu marching band that would pop up every now and then, and there were quite a few quinceaneras (the dresses were beautiful) celebrated this week that would draw larger crowds, but overall we didn’t notice anything out of the norm. Everyone was respectful and if there was a language barrier the person just smiled and didn’t reply. We had a ding dong dash on the first day but I was right on it and I caught the kid and called him out in front of his parents. He never did it again. If you are in a suite you can turn the doorbell off using the switch behind the door.

 

We were in line at the next cruise office getting some info on Northern European and Transatlantic voyages. We saw a nice 15 day transatlantic that included Greenland for Sept 2020 but all the suites are sold out already. It was tempting to book something because of the reduced deposits but we passed. Nothing in the works right now. as we are relocating to Texas in the next few months. Can’t wait!

 

Is anyone still here after all of this? I have the compasses from every day with the inserts if anyone wants to see them I can post them.  Let me know.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, F858MM said:

Any theme nights

 

 

I can look at the planners tonight and let you know. I do know the windjammer catered to the masses most evenings and I am not sure if it was a theme night or not but on the last night mostly everyone had their Christmas pajamas on in the promenade. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice review. I enjoyed reading it.  I was wondering if you have the name of the vendor you used in St. Johns?  We stopped there last year and did a tour but did not see Devils bridge and donkey sanctuary.  Sure my wife would like to go there as we will be in St Johns in a few weeks.  Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for taking the time to write this! It was very helpful and I really appreciate it. We are visiting most of the same ports on Freedom in May and can't wait.  Would love to see your compasses when you have time!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the thorough review.  We just did FOS in December and your review is spot on.  

 

One other question. Did you pre-pay your gratuities on the ship and then tip additional?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, MzShae said:

Enjoyed your review. Thanks!

Thank you for reading!

21 hours ago, frank808 said:

Nice review. I enjoyed reading it.  I was wondering if you have the name of the vendor you used in St. Johns?  We stopped there last year and did a tour but did not see Devils bridge and donkey sanctuary.  Sure my wife would like to go there as we will be in St Johns in a few weeks.  Thanks

Thank you reading my review! I booked through Scooter Snorkeling Antigua. The owner is Damon and he goes by Skylork here on CC. His email address is info@skylork.com. He set me us with his cousin Stanley who took us around. 

19 hours ago, breezy_carol said:

Thank you for the review.  Freedom was our first cruise, so special.  I enjoyed your take on it.

Thank you for reading, I am glad you enjoyed it and made it through all my words. Freedom is a great ship.

18 hours ago, EeyoreRN said:

Thanks for taking the time to write this! It was very helpful and I really appreciate it. We are visiting most of the same ports on Freedom in May and can't wait.  Would love to see your compasses when you have time!

So happy you enjoyed my review. I will get the compasses and the inserts posted soon. 

17 hours ago, Bradison said:

Thanks for the thorough review.  We just did FOS in December and your review is spot on.  

 

One other question. Did you pre-pay your gratuities on the ship and then tip additional?

Thank you for taking the time to read my review. It was thorough and I still feel like i could say more! As for your question, I did not pre-pay the gratuities but just had them post to my onboard account. I did not make changes to the amounts so it was $17.50 a day for my husband and I and $14.50 a day for each kid. I gave extra here and there because I really feel like the crew works incredibly hard and when you talk to them they talk about their babies back home it pulls at my heart strings. One crew member we met in windjammer has a 6 month old back home that she skypes with each day. I couldn't imagine. So maybe a few extra bucks here and there and they could take a tour off to enjoy their families. IDK. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great review. thanks do that same route next week so this was a big help.  Put note on our planner for Cosol tour (I think we are doing the same one) for wife to take Dramamine/Bonine just before as it will probably bother her, all the twists and turns.

 

Liked your recommendation for Antigua, though we are doing someone else this time i added your to my "Ports of Call" document for Antigua to further research for next time (we love the southern Caribbean out of San Juan- 3rd year in a row now)

 

Also liked your review of Silvermoon Charters  in Barbados, we do some thing similar i think with Calabaza, again very limited number on Catamaran and for us this is the 2nd time with them as DW loved the first one and its all she could talk about after the cruise.  Did check my "Ports of Call" document for Barbados and see we/I have Silvermoon listed as a 3rd option and now wonder if they should move up.  If you read this can you tell me more about the stops you made with them and the length of their tour?

 

I have to say you appear as a generous tipper, but i also take into account that you are a larger group (I assume you tipped for the whole group) and you are also staying in some GS (again, personally I think if you stay in the better accommodations you tip more. to explain when I take a limo I tip more than when I take a cab for the same distance)  Anyway it is what value each individual puts the service at.  Thanks so much for sharing.  Happy Cruising

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter Now for a Chance to Win a 7-day Cruise for Two
      • Q&A with InsureMyTrip
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...