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Freedom Review of our B2B (weeks of 9/7 and 9/14)


jules815
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I thought I should try and start a review of our back-to-back on Freedom of the Seas while it's still fresh in my mind. I'll attach photos later; I have many. Brief background on my husband and I; we're 56 and 53, and have recently become empty nesters. Our youngest daughter is a junior in college, so the empty nest thing may be short lived, you never know! My husband is a network engineer for the credit card division of a large bank, and I own a pet sitting business. We both work, a lot. We're from the northwest suburbs of Chicago. (Da Bears!) This trip was special to us because it was the first vacation we've taken alone since our oldest daughter was born, and she'll be 25 next month! We're both only children, and have had a rough year with our elderly parents, and honestly didn't even know if we'd make this trip, but thankfully we did.

 

We flew from Chicago O'Hare to Orlando on the morning of Saturday, 9/6. Good flight, made even better when my husband used points to upgrade to first class. After a few Mimosas at the airport, because I'm a nervous flyer, and who doesn't enjoy a Mimosa at 8:30 am, we were on our way.

 

We rented our car through Hertz. I know there are better deals to be found with rental cars, but we do get a AAA discount, and being gold members with them means the car is sitting in its spot, ready to go. No lines to deal with, we just grab our bags and go. The drive from MCO to Cape Canaveral was uneventful. It was a beautiful day and we were in happy vacation mode. We made it there before check in time at our hotel, so we found a Publix and bought the things we'd need for our trip that I don't like to pack (shampoo, suntan lotions, etc.).

 

We checked in at the Residence Inn at Port Canaveral right at 4pm. We have stayed here with every cruise out of this port and have never been disappointed. Clean rooms, pretty decent breakfast and wifi included. Hertz is located directly in front of the hotel, so it's super convenient to return the car the next morning and take their quick shuttle ride to the port. We returned the car at 10am, and were pulling up to the port just before 10:30.

 

**I just remembered we met the nicest family on the Hertz shuttle, and saw them several times throughout the first week, and I know one of them (Hi Jason!) is a regular here on Cruise Critic, and a crazy planner like me. If you're reading this, I hope you had a great week, and I hope Calvin's parents enjoyed their first cruise. It was nice to meet you all!**

 

Check in at the port was quick. There were lines, but they were short and moved quickly. This was our first cruise sailing as Platinum, and we were also in a junior suite, so we picked the priority boarding line that was shortest and the suite line won. We were on the ship in no time, and after a quick squirt of hand sanitizer and a welcome aboard, we were on our way to explore this beautiful ship, and she really is.

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We were on the 9-14 sailing to the western.. Fun times! I'll be doing a review as well with a ton of photos once I have a few minutes to type something up!

 

Looking forward to seeing how your experience compared to ours! I really want to try a B2B on FOS.

 

Do you by chance know what happened in Cozumel? I saw an ambulance on the pier when we were getting off the ship in the morning with some medical crew out there. Then we saw a 4-5 people getting off/being escorted off with luggage right as we were leaving. I just so happened to be sitting back there doing the flowrider when we left and saw this.

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Do you by chance know what happened in Cozumel? I saw an ambulance on the pier when we were getting off the ship in the morning with some medical crew out there. Then we saw a 4-5 people getting off/being escorted off with luggage right as we were leaving. I just so happened to be sitting back there doing the flowrider when we left and saw this.

 

Oooh I want to know too. I was on same sailing and saw 2 people and the luggage but no ambulance.

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Do you by chance know what happened in Cozumel? I saw an ambulance on the pier when we were getting off the ship in the morning with some medical crew out there. Then we saw a 4-5 people getting off/being escorted off with luggage right as we were leaving. I just so happened to be sitting back there doing the flowrider when we left and saw this.

 

We where on it as well heard that it was 3 girls got kicked off after they got warned about something and told the captain off but that's only hear say

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I'm sorry this is taking me so long to write. Hard being gone for two weeks, back to work, trying to play catch up on everything. Here's a little more...

 

We went up to the Windjammer for lunch and then off to explore. We hadn't sailed with RC since 2009, and it really felt like coming home. We walked all over the ship and then up to our room at 1pm, and surprise, our bags were there waiting for us. We had room 9548, which is a JS on the port side, just around the corner from the front elevators. This was our first time being in a forward location and I wasn't sure if we'd like it, but we LOVED it! I was just two flights away from my favorite pool in the Solarium, and walking anywhere else wasn't a problem either. It also seemed like there was always an elevator available when we needed one.

 

What can I say about our JS other than it was a perfect room. The walk-in closet with all those shelves was great. The full-size bathtub was nice (although I've never minded that clam-shell shower), the additional room space, the chair with the hassock, the large balcony with two loungers that we used every day, and an electric teapot and coffee maker. We were in stateroom heaven. Our attendant for both weeks was Jimson Gibson. Our first day was also his first day back, and he did a wonderful job.

 

We had second seating in the MDR. A table for two next to the window, and even though it was dark during dinner, we had a beautiful view of the full moon on the water. This was our first time requesting a table for two, and we enjoyed it. Service the first night was a little off but not horrible, just about how it usually is on the first night, and improved throughout the week. It bothered us to see how a few of the passengers who were seated in our area treated our assistant waiter on the first night. There was an obvious language issue. She was from China and just lovely, and you could tell she was trying very hard. One of the men at the table next to ours barked out their drink order to her (they had a large table) and you could tell she was trying very hard to process what he had just told her. As she was standing there, he stood up and got right in her face, and smacked the back of his hand to the palm of his other, and yelled "I mean it, let's go!" Of course you could tell this only flustered her. We felt so bad for her! We mentioned the incident to the Matre'd, just in case there were any complaints about her service. Like I said, there was a definite language problem, but you could tell she was trying very hard, and nobody should be treated like that. He thanked us for telling him, and told us that all guests are required to follow a code of conduct, and that includes how they treat the dining room staff.

 

Food in the MDR was good. The steak I ordered there one night from the "Everyday" menu (or whatever they call it) was not. When our waiter noticed I hadn't eaten much of it, she wanted to bring me something else, but honestly, I was very full from appetizers and my sides, it wasn't a big deal. The chicken breast I ordered one night from the everyday menu was very good.

 

We went to Chops on Tuesday of our first week. It was good, but something seemed off about the dining experience from previous cruises. I can't put my finger on it...but maybe the entire meal didn't flow like it did before, if that makes sense. They don't come around with the cart of meat anymore (not a big deal, just a difference). Service was a little off, but not bad. It just wasn't like what we remembered.

 

The second week we had the pleasure of having dinner in Portofino, and (I know I'm going to butcher her name) Kibwei was our server. What an absolutely wonderful meal with exceptional service. This is what specialty dining is all about. We were blown away and disappointed that on all of our RC cruises, we've never once been to Portofino, and now they're going to be replacing it. Glad we made it there at least once. To anyone cruising on Freedom prior to the January drydock, if you had to choose one specialty restaurant, I would go with Portofino. Which just reminded me of something we witnessed during our cruise. My husband and I had dinner in the WJ on the first formal night of the second week. (there's a reason for this which I'll get to later.) As we were exiting the Windjammer, we saw a couple coming out of Chops, all dressed up, tux and gown. As they were walking out, the woman who had also been our server was sort of running out after them saying "don't you want to stay for some dessert or coffee??" They told her no, and when she asked why, he said "the service is crap!" So this couple obviously just got up and walked out during their meal. Like I said, our Chops experience was also off from our previous cruises. If they're going to keep this specialty restaurant, they need to work on bringing it back to what it was.

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Do you by chance know what happened in Cozumel? I saw an ambulance on the pier when we were getting off the ship in the morning with some medical crew out there. Then we saw a 4-5 people getting off/being escorted off with luggage right as we were leaving. I just so happened to be sitting back there doing the flowrider when we left and saw this.

 

We where on it as well heard that it was 3 girls got kicked off after they got warned about something and told the captain off but that's only hear say

 

We saw the ambulance waiting on the pier as we were getting off the ship in Cozumel. It was backed up to the side of the gangplank, and there was a folded up wheelchair next to a suitcase. We didn't see any medical personnel, but it appeared maybe they were waiting for them to be taken off of the ship. Since we saw the wheelchair next to the suit case, we assumed maybe someone elderly who was ill.

 

Didn't hear anything about 3 girls getting kicked off, but we did see some people getting in a cab in Cozumel with all their luggage, maybe it was them?

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One thing I would like to mention about our B2B on FOS is how different the ship seemed from week to week. Week one, the ship was not as busy or crowded. This didn't surprise me, because this is the week I received 3 price drops. Week two felt like a different ship, more small children and teenagers. The first week, the Kid's H2O Zone was practically empty every day. The second week it was full. We had a great time both weeks, but preferred the first.

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One thing I would like to mention about our B2B on FOS is how different the ship seemed from week to week. Week one, the ship was not as busy or crowded. This didn't surprise me, because this is the week I received 3 price drops. Week two felt like a different ship, more small children and teenagers. The first week, the Kid's H2O Zone was practically empty every day. The second week it was full. We had a great time both weeks, but preferred the first.

 

I definitely was not a fan of the overall crowd on this sailing. Of all 4 of my Freedom sailings, my least favorite crowd wise. So many rude and ill mannered folks we encountered. Sad!!!! I feel so bad for the hard working staff when I see them degraded so poorly by people. I think the 2nd week was a bit over capacity...Casey said we were at 4069 passengers

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I definitely was not a fan of the overall crowd on this sailing. Of all 4 of my Freedom sailings, my least favorite crowd wise. So many rude and ill mannered folks we encountered. Sad!!!! I feel so bad for the hard working staff when I see them degraded so poorly by people. I think the 2nd week was a bit over capacity...Casey said we were at 4069 passengers

 

Oliver, yes, I was going to do a completely different post about this.

 

So many rude people. A group of young men in their 20's had no problem cutting right in front of my husband and I in the buffet line in Labadee. And I don't want my comment about more kids on board to sound like we're anti-children; we have kids; our youngest still in college. The rude people we encountered were adults.

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Oliver, yes, I was going to do a completely different post about this.

 

So many rude people. A group of young men in their 20's had no problem cutting right in front of my husband and I in the buffet line in Labadee. And I don't want my comment about more kids on board to sound like we're anti-children; we have kids; our youngest still in college. The rude people we encountered were adults.

 

Exactly. I completely agree!

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Ports:

 

Week one:

 

Cocoa Cay: We've been there several times already, so stayed on board and hung out at the Solarium pool. Beautiful day for those who chose to make it a beach day.

 

San Juan: This was our first time visiting this port and we loved it. Walked all around Old San Juan, toured the fort there (the one closest to the pier. Christobal?) and got some beautiful pictures. It was another beautiful day. Had lunch in a lovely cafe' on the square where they served excellent Mojitos.

 

St. Maarten: Took the water taxi over and walked around. My husband broke his glasses that morning, so we were on a mission to find a store that sold those little screwdriver repair kits, and mission accomplished. Nice morning, but we were back on board in time for lunch. We'd been to St. Maarten several times as well.

 

Friday morning we had an informal meeting in Olive or Twist for consecutive cruisers. Judging from the number of people who stayed on board with us on Sunday morning, this Friday meeting really wasn't mandatory, although since it was our first time doing a B2B, we didn't want to miss it. Most of the information we needed for Sunday was left with us in our stateroom. They offered to book any excursions for us for that next week at a 10% discount, ice show tickets, etc.

 

On the third sea day, Saturday, we did the All Access Tour of the ship. (We were originally scheduled for the first tour on Friday, but it conflicted with our Consecutive Cruiser's meeting being held that morning in Olive or Twist, and we didn't want to miss it. They had no problem changing days for us.) We all met on deck 10 at 10:15, and at that time they passed around a dining room menu and took our lunch orders. We were checked over (wand) by security, who also walked the entire tour with us. Additional security checks were done prior to entering the main engine room. The tour lasted about 4 hours or so with a break halfway for lunch in the MDR and from there the tour continued into the galley. We really enjoyed this tour, and I highly recommend. Long pants and closed toe shoes are required. Lots of stairs and walking, and the floor in the galley, even with proper shoes, is slippery. I don't know how they do it!

 

Sunday we met at 9:15 in Pharaoh's Lounge with the other consecutive cruisers. There were close to 100 of us, mostly seniors, which didn't surprise us. In our 50's, we were some of the younger couples. :) We were escorted off the ship and sat in an area indoors at the pier while we waited for two families to leave the ship. Customs consisted of walking past two agents, giving them our declaration form and showing them our open passport. The line never stopped moving. They called our room numbers and handed out envelopes with our new sea pass cards. Just as they finished handing those out, we were brought right back on board. Our new cards were missing our Ultimate sticker, but a quick trip to guest services took care of that. No lines there during turn around.

 

We were able to come and go from our room all morning, and we put on our suits and spent the quiet time at the Solarium pool. They had a consecutive cruiser's lunch in the MDR at noon for us, which was nice. We sat with a lovely couple from Scotland, and she was from the same small town as my grandparents. Small world.

Edited by jules815
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We were on the 9/14 sailing also. We also noticed some rude behavior by other passengers. It seems no one in the Windjammer ever heard of a line. People all over the place. Twice I had just picked up a plate and was about to start down a line when people just walked up in front of me, grabbed a plate and started putting stuff on it.

 

We also dined at Chops on Tuesday. This is not something we would normally even do but our travel agent gave us a voucher for a specialty restaurant. The service was TERRIBLE. We thought maybe because of the voucher, but now I'm thinking not, and we're not that hard to please. Our waiter appeared to only have one other table of seven. It was just my husband and I. He came over after we had been there a few minutes to let us know it was going to be a little while before he could get our order. But he didn't even bring water or anything. So we waited about ten minutes and the first thing he did was try to sell us two bottles of wine. We politely declined, told him my husband doesn't drink. Without doing a full review here, I'll just say it went downhill from there. We felt like we had to beg for everything. :eek: We didn't tip extra, which we normally would have. Our service in the main dining room was excellent. Best we've ever had. I don't think we had to ask for a single thing. We even filled out the survey just so we could give them (and our steward, who also did an excellent job) the coveted score of 10. :D Ha

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Glad we weren't the only ones who thought the 14th sailing had a bunch of rude humans! I can't even count how many times I was cut off in lines and just the overall attitude of people.

 

We thought the ship had to of been at capacity, there were just people everywhere. Even at 8:30 the WJ was crowded to the point there was lines.

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Wonderful review so far, the Freedom is a favorite of mine. It is sad to hear of the lack of common courtesy among some people.

 

We were on the 14th side of this cruise and my DW and I kept saying how NICE everyone was - both passengers and crew! We didn't think it seemed too crowded and while the food wasn't spectacular in the MDR the service was still good. We ate at both Chops and Portofino and had wonderful meals.

 

I guess its just a matter of perspective and shows how different folks can have different experiences on the same cruise.

 

P.S. We also witnessed the scene leaving Cozumel. Our take was that the folks that left were waiting until the last minute for something..then had to leave. If someone had done something wrong, they would have been kicked off right away. Just speculating....

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We were on the 9/14 sailing too. We met some wonderful people but also noticed some particularly rude ones. At muster drill there were two obviously drunk 20-something guys who were smoking electronic cigarettes, talking very loudly and crowding us out of line during the captain's safety talk. They didn't stop until 2 security guys pulled them out of line. Fortunately, we didn't see them again for the rest of the cruise.

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Week two, another beautiful day, but like I said before, what a difference a week makes! For those of you sailing on Freedom, you will have a wonderful time, and we did the second week, too. We spent most of the afternoon sitting at the Solarium pool, and did the sail away from there as well. We raised our glasses and waved to everyone at Fishlips and Jetty Park. Another comparison from week to week, week one, sail away at the main pool, I almost felt bad for the activities staff and Dreamworks characters out there. There were maybe 3 children watching from the pool, and lots of empty seats. The characters would be out in the Promenade during the week, and rarely you'd see a child getting their picture taken with them, because there were none around!

 

Before I continue with week 2, I should mention that on Saturday night of the first week, my husband and I were talking with our awesome cabin steward, Jimson. I was standing behind my husband and I think I moved forward to also shake Jimson's hand and thank him, when my husband stepped back onto my toe, second toe on my right foot, which I felt bend and snap! Ouch...pain and burning commenced, followed by bruising and swelling. I'm convinced my toe is broken, but I know there's nothing they can really do for a broken toe. It just made wearing closed toe shoes impossible, which is why we dined in the WJ on the first formal night (was that Monday?) and realized we loved having dinner there!

 

We were seated at the same table for two the second week which was great, but now our waiters and matre'd were different! We were still seated at the same great table for two, but now we were surrounded by 3 or 4 very large tables.

 

Another assistant waiter from China, who was doing his very best, but the language difference made it difficult. The reason I mentioned he was also from China, and I could be totally wrong here, is that we were told by another couple that we're seeing so many new wait staff from China because they're being trained for Quantum and other ships in RC's expanding Asian market. I know this is how rumors get started here on CC, but just reporting what I heard, and in a way in makes sense.

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We were on the 14th side of this cruise and my DW and I kept saying how NICE everyone was - both passengers and crew! We didn't think it seemed too crowded and while the food wasn't spectacular in the MDR the service was still good. We ate at both Chops and Portofino and had wonderful meals.

 

I guess its just a matter of perspective and shows how different folks can have different experiences on the same cruise.

 

P.S. We also witnessed the scene leaving Cozumel. Our take was that the folks that left were waiting until the last minute for something..then had to leave. If someone had done something wrong, they would have been kicked off right away. Just speculating....

 

We met lots of very nice people both weeks, and thought all the crew were wonderful, too! What night did you eat in Chops? I wonder if it was after the incident we witnessed and maybe they've already stepped up their game??

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Wonderful review so far, the Freedom is a favorite of mine. It is sad to hear of the lack of common courtesy among some people.

 

Thanks, and Freedom is now our favorite ship as well.

 

We've booked another B2B for next September, because now I'm so curious about all the changes they'll be making during dry dock.

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More on dining. Because my foot was swollen and sore, we skipped dinner in the MDR on the first formal night and went to the Windjammer, which became a pattern for us. We really liked it there at night. I know I could have gotten away with wearing sandals with either of my formal dresses, but we just weren't into it and this was as good an excuse as any.

 

Evenings in the Windjammer are a completely different experience, except for the day we were in Cozumel. I think everyone on board decided to have dinner in the Windjammer that night! They serve many of the same items served in the MDR in the evenings (no lobster), the food offered at Jade' was quite good. The area that is Egg Harbor in the morning, changes each evening. One night it was a pasta station, another evening they were doing a Mongolian bbq station. It's all made to order, but unlike Egg Harbor, you take your number with you, and then someone from the wait staff who comes around on a regular basis to clear plates and offer you drinks, takes the number and retrieves your food from the station. The carving station (and attendant there) were great! One night they did a Beef Wellington that was wonderful with fresh horseradish. Yum!

 

My husband and I don't frequent buffets here at home, but the second week of our B2B, the WJ became our go-to spot for dinner. We thought the service was very good, and often times officers who were also dining there would stop by our table to chat. We found ourselves looking forward to going, just so we could see what they were offering each night.

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