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NJCruisers Freedom of the Seas Nov 17th Recap


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7 minutes ago, Lovestotravel said:

@Vacation Crazy, we will be celebrating our 25th on FOS in May as well!  Depart May 31st. You? 

I guess FOS is the ship to celebrate silver anniversaries!  We are the week before you.  Congrats to you and happy cruise countdown!   We are soooo looking forward to it.  

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1 hour ago, Vacation Crazy said:

I guess FOS is the ship to celebrate silver anniversaries!  We are the week before you.  Congrats to you and happy cruise countdown!   We are soooo looking forward to it.  

And now I have to jump in, too!  We're celebrating our 25th anniversary on Freedom in June 2020.  We're doing a B2B (eastern/southern loop followed by an ABC island loop) and very excited and looking forward to it!!!  (Especially with the newly AMPed ship!)

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On 12/3/2019 at 2:07 PM, Vacation Crazy said:

We have a 3:30 departure flight.  The San Juan On Your Own w/Airport Drop Off tour thru RC might be for us.  Was your airport arrival time around 1:30?  Thanks!

 

Our flight was 3:13 so we pushed it a little, lol.  I think we were there in about 20 minutes. We were there in plenty of time.

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So here's the wrap up of my recap...

Finding the Royal Caribbean Blog was a Godsend!  I could go on and on but if you’re already here you know how great of a community this is.  I have to admit that I did go over to the dark side several times (CC). I found some useful information on the ports I was visiting.  

I saw some really terrible reviews of Freedom and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of them.  One of the most critical things I read over and over again was that sailing from PR meant I was going to encounter very rude people.  I won’t say we didn’t, but honestly the few that we did encounter weren’t all from PR.  I’ve seen worse behavior at Disney World.  I think there were 2 quinceanera’s being celebrated on board, and we only noticed them on the formal nights because of the beautiful dresses.  Yes, the young girls were all over the place posing for photos, but they weren’t rude at all. Heck I was all over the place taking photos of the ship myself! 

I also want to mention there was a Salsa Group on board.  They were a very large group.  I noticed signs on some of the doors leading to our room right away and thought uh oh, this could get noisy.  I have to say, they were having such a great time.  They had some private events and yes certain lounges were very crowded but there was so much to do on board that we never felt cheated.  They ranged in all ages and were very friendly.  We chatted with some of them here and there throughout the cruise. 

Yes, Freedom is showing her age a bit & I knew going in she was scheduled for dry dock afterwards. We were in cabin #7400 and the hallway carpet was very badly stained.  Not stains here and there, just really long dark spots from people constantly walking on them.  It did not smell, only one night walking back to our room there was a strong chlorine smell along the hallway but it wasn’t near our room. No idea what that was about.

The room decor was outdated, the coral and teal colors scream the 1990’s to me. Otherwise everything else in the room was great, even the bathroom.  Plenty of storage space. Our room was at the very end of the ship and it was very quiet.  We never heard any of our neighbors.

Our room attendant was great.  I swear he was a ninja.  We really only saw him 2-3 times but our room was perfect and he took excellent care of us. We saw 2 other attendants in the hallway every day and they were both very friendly.

I ended up getting the Voom package for 1 device & we shared it.  It was $77 total. Even though our kids are technically adults, my mom is elderly and I wanted to make sure we could get in touch with each other if needed.  It was nice to be able to share photos with them using the WhatsApp.  My mom loves Instagram so I would add photos to my story at least once a day and she really enjoyed that.  We did not use it to stream anything but we never had any problems with it. Totally worth it IMO.

Ultimate Drink Package - Always a debate!  I booked it for $47 pp during last year’s Black Friday sale.  I figured I had plenty of time to cancel it and I honestly went back and forth for a while.  In the end I kept it and I’m glad.  With gratuity it was $776 making it approximately $55 per day, pp. I didn’t keep track of everything we drank, that wouldn’t have been much fun.  I can say this: When we had breakfast in the MDR we took advantage of the fresh squeezed juice.  Several mornings we had specialty iced coffees. Every time (not day, each time) we left the ship we each took 1 vitamin and 1 regular water to bring with us.  Every night at dinner I had 2-3 glasses of wine and hubby had 2 drinks (perfect Manhattan’s which are pricey at home too).  During the day when we were on the ship I enjoyed plenty different frozen drinks - I alternated with virgin versions here and there.  Most days hubby stuck to beer in the afternoons and switched to Bourbon after dinner. I think I had maybe 2-3 soda’s during the week but not in the souvenir cups.  We never used those. We enjoyed going to the different lounges and trying different drinks.  Yes I know we can get any drink pretty much anywhere as long as the bartender has the ingredients, but it was fun bar hopping.  There were a few drinks I didn’t like and some that I tried that I might not have if it wasn’t already paid for.  Ending the night with a cordial was also a nice treat. I’d say we took at least a dozen bottles of water back to the room during the week as well. I like to think we did get our money’s worth, but we were totally happy with it so that’s that. 

MDR - I also went back and forth with trying specialty dining.  With the exception of our one dinner in Aruba we ate there every night.  My theory was that we had fabulous steak houses and Italian restaurants at home, there was bound to be something we would enjoy on the menu.  In hindsight, I wish I had checked the menu on our Bonaire day.  I ended up getting the steak again which was delicious, but honestly this girl was missing her macaroni!  That probably would have been a good night to splurge and go to the Italian place.  Oh well, now I know.  I truly enjoyed being served every night and the waitstaff was just great.  

Windjammer - I know everyone loves this place, heck we enjoyed it last cruise too but I just didn’t enjoy it this trip.  The 2 times we went it was jam packed and when we went for lunch the options were either something really heavy or salad.  I don’t enjoy pre-cooked burgers so that wasn’t an option for me.  I’m sure if you are a picky eater or don’t want to go to the MDR it’s probably just fine for dinner as there are so many options.

Sorrento’s - I can’t believe I’m saying this either, but the pizza wasn’t terrible.  Dare I say we kinda liked it!  When hubby saw the pizza sign his eyes lit up and I told him don’t get excited, it probably sucks.  He works in Brooklyn so he eats great pizza for lunch AT LEAST once a week.  This place became our guilty pleasure.  Several nights I brought some back to the Bull & Bear.  We liked the veggie pizza the best but the cheese wasn’t bad either.  

Sabor - we only went here for the Guacamole class but we thought the food was fantastic.  We would gladly have a meal here again if given the chance.

The Promenade - depending on what they were selling sometimes it became quite crowded.  What’s the deal with watches?  It seemed like they were constantly selling them! I’m totally not a watch person so I didn’t pay too much attention.  People seemed to be going crazy for the t-shirt sales too, none of them really appealed to me all that much though.  I originally planned to get a Freedom of the Seas Spirit Jersey, but I didn’t like that the front was completely blank.  I thought it should have an anchor or at least the RC logo in the upper left chest or something.  I ended up with a super comfy hoodie instead. Also, I thought that balloon party was crazy. All the popped balloons all over the place, this from a company that doesn’t allow plastic straws? Weird.

Spacious Ocean View Room -  I thought it was great.  The window was very big and we didn’t miss having a balcony.  I would much rather use the money saved towards other things, such as the drink package or excursions.  Also, we had to factor in the flight to PR. We could have afforded one, but I chose book this instead.  We did agree that we could never do an interior room and probably wouldn’t want one overlooking the Promenade, just not our style. 

My “Something New Every Day” was just for me and just for fun.  

Pre Cruise PR:  Mofongo - loved it
Cruise Day: Escargot - hated them
At Sea: Souffle - not a fan
Aruba: Rode a motorcycle - loved it
Curacao: Walked on a floating bridge - very cool
Bonaire: Rode on a Catamaran & got to see a sea turtle while snorkeling - awesome
At Sea: Baked Alaska - loved it
St. Thomas: Conch Fritters - delicious

I’m pretty sure I covered everything.  I know I’ve said it several times but we absolutely loved this cruise. Although I don’t see us cruising every year, we definitely plan to go on another one in (hopefully) the next 2-3 years.  

Freedom didn’t have many reviews when I was looking so that’s the main reason I decided to write this.  Also, I’m going to print it and keep it so I can look back on it some day.  

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions feel free to ask.  
 

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53 minutes ago, NJCruisers said:

So here's the wrap up of my recap...

Finding the Royal Caribbean Blog was a Godsend!  I could go on and on but if you’re already here you know how great of a community this is.  I have to admit that I did go over to the dark side several times (CC). I found some useful information on the ports I was visiting.  

I saw some really terrible reviews of Freedom and I’m so glad I didn’t listen to any of them.  One of the most critical things I read over and over again was that sailing from PR meant I was going to encounter very rude people.  I won’t say we didn’t, but honestly the few that we did encounter weren’t all from PR.  I’ve seen worse behavior at Disney World.  I think there were 2 quinceanera’s being celebrated on board, and we only noticed them on the formal nights because of the beautiful dresses.  Yes, the young girls were all over the place posing for photos, but they weren’t rude at all. Heck I was all over the place taking photos of the ship myself! 

I

Thank-you for this!  We are on FOS next May. and on the "other site" there are some pretty harsh reviews, mostly centered around how there are so many "rude" Puerto Rican's on board, and "too much Spanish". Well, I find that statement super rude!  We are really looking forward to the cultural experience, both on AND off the ship!!  Thanks for confirming that.  I also enjoyed all of your other reviews and it is helping me to determine excursions! Thanks again!

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10 minutes ago, Lovestotravel said:

Thank-you for this!  We are on FOS next May. and on the "other site" there are some pretty harsh reviews, mostly centered around how there are so many "rude" Puerto Rican's on board, and "too much Spanish". Well, I find that statement super rude!  We are really looking forward to the cultural experience, both on AND off the ship!!  Thanks for confirming that.  I also enjoyed all of your other reviews and it is helping me to determine excursions! Thanks again!

Rude people come in all nationalities unfortunately. Yes, announcements are in both languages but honestly the English versions seem like they are longer so I'm not sure why so many people feel the need to complain about that. With the exception being the the muster drill, both were about the same length.  

Several times we encountered people who clearly didn't speak English and they greeted us with a very friendly Buenos Noches! and we simply replied back in English Good night to you as well! and there were smiles all around. 

I'm sure as long as you do your research on where you want to go you will have an amazing cruise as well!

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On 12/3/2019 at 11:08 AM, NJCruisers said:

The streets were pretty much empty and I was snapping pictures like crazy as we made our way over to El Morro.

One more question for you about your last day.....  Were the street vendors set up on Sunday morning?  Last time we were in PR I bought some Ray Bans and a Michael Kors purse ( I'm sure they were real;)  I would like to do some shopping before our return home.   

Thanks for your review!  It was very helpful. 

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18 hours ago, Vacation Crazy said:

One more question for you about your last day.....  Were the street vendors set up on Sunday morning?  Last time we were in PR I bought some Ray Bans and a Michael Kors purse ( I'm sure they were real;)  I would like to do some shopping before our return home.   

Thanks for your review!  It was very helpful. 

I don't recall seeing them, but maybe they were out a little later in the day?

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On 12/5/2019 at 11:04 AM, Lovestotravel said:

We are on FOS next May. and on the "other site" there are some pretty harsh reviews, mostly centered around how there are so many "rude" Puerto Rican's on board, and "too much Spanish".

Wow! I barely noticed the Spanish announcements when we sailed in August. Are people really stopping what they're doing to listen, realize oh this is the "yucky Spanish part" of the announcement, and then becoming upset about having to listen to it? Just continue about your day! I highly doubt the Spanish-speaking-only Puerto Ricans on board are upset about first sitting through the long English portions. 

The only rude people I encountered on board were accompanied, yet undisciplined children cartwheeling several times through our mini golf game. ?

@NJCruisers Great review! I am hoping to do the ABC route (we did the Barbados one) in 2021if the SJ port allows. 

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1 hour ago, DDaley said:

Wow! I barely noticed the Spanish announcements when we sailed in August. Are people really stopping what they're doing to listen, realize oh this is the "yucky Spanish part" of the announcement, and then becoming upset about having to listen to it? Just continue about your day! I highly doubt the Spanish-speaking-only Puerto Ricans on board are upset about first sitting through the long English portions. 

 

I agree 100%!  I was SHOCKED at how rude other reviews were (not from this site!), in their lack of cultural sensitivity.  It was very clear to me that THEY were the rude ones!  LOL!  

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  • 1 month later...

This was great!  I thoroughly enjoyed your descriptions and booked a Bonaire excursion with Woodwind in March because of it.  I'm excited to be on the ship after it's dry-dock to see what changes have been made.  We're traveling with a daughter, son-in-law and  their daughter for her *Senior Trip* over spring break.  I can't wait!!  I'm so glad you took the time to share the details.  It is very helpful.

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  • 1 month later...
On 11/27/2019 at 9:13 AM, NJCruisers said:

I should have mentioned that I do not fly often and I need to take Xanax in order to get on the plane.  It works great for me, however it leaves me pretty tired for the next 24 hours,  so after dinner I pretty much passed out. The bed was comfortable and the room was very clean.  The only slight complaint was that the glass door to the balcony could have been cleaned a bit better.  It wasn’t dirty, it was just the salty sea air that made it a bit cloudy.  The few staff members we spoke with were very nice and helpful.I thought this hotel was perfect for pre-cruise and wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again.   

Thanks for this review @NJCruisers!!  The hotel prices in SJ are CRAZY high, but I was just able to book with Condondo with our Hilton Honors as well.  I got nervous after booking, because reviews on TripAdvisor are not great.  I feel a bit relieved reading your review!

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