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Freedom of the Seas: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

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I was on the same cruise as the OP.  I boarded between 11:00 am and 11:30 am and was on the ship in less than 10 minutes after arriving at the port.

 

We ate breakfast at the Windjammer every morning at 7:00 - 7:30 am.  While the selection was limited, it was not difficult to find a table at this time.  Lunch on the other hand was another story.  Very crowded no matter what time we ate.  On the two sea days, we ate lunch in the MDR.  Much better atmosphere and much smaller crowd.

 

This was my first time on any Freedom class and we really had few issues.  The crew was among the friendliest and most helpful of any RCI ship we have been on.  It was also my third cruise out of San Juan.  Very enjoyable cruise.  Our only issues were the crowded elevators, the crowded Windjammer for lunch and the difficulty in getting a seat for the ice show.

 

There is little doubt that we will cruise out of San Juan again as we love the variety of the islands in the southern Caribbean.  

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We have cruised three times out of Puerto Rico and one of those was on Freedom.  We have 2 planned next year on Freedom.

 

The port sucks, best thing is to have a $40 in your hand and ask a porter if he is interested in you getting to front of line,  I kid you not you are taken to the door of security and pass everyone.

 

"I don't know if there were cultural differences or bad behaviour encourages more bad behaviour but there was a serious lack of etiquette on this trip.  Staff were treated terribly.  People were pushy and rude, crowding and cutting lines.  No excuse me's, no pleases or thank you's.  No respect for rules - chair hogs, children in the solarium, children in the casino, children at quest, curfew meant nothing, non-stop talking and use of walkie talkies during shows.  Just a total disregard for the people around them. "

This is 100% our encounters with cruises out of Puerto Rico,  it is their culture and even though they are Americans the call us outsiders.  Its the only place I have ever been where I actually hate the people.  Some of the things you see them do is just amazing.  Even had one group in hot tub in solarium bring in their own BEATs Pill and play it as loud as they could and sang. 

The good thing with Puerto Rico trips is the number of islands you hit so you can get off the boat and away from them, we continue to cruise out of Puerto Rico just for the iterniaries.

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Cruised on Adventure out of PR 3 years ago and had none of the issues explained.  And definitely pay for a porter.  Money well spent. 

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1 hour ago, konthego said:

Cruised on Adventure out of PR 3 years ago and had none of the issues explained.  And definitely pay for a porter.  Money well spent. 

We have also cruised out of San Juan in the last few years on Jewel and Adventure and so were very excited doing it on Freedom (which we have sailed on before the eastern caribbean itinerary). Loved that this gave us the opportunity to do a B2B on a Freedom class ship. 

 

So disappointed in our Freedom September cruise. The ship was completely taken over by the locals and I mean everywhere. Even in the stairwells...and the areas midship on each deck playing their own loud boom box music (we were on deck #9) and they would hang out (sitting on the floor) in that small area between elevators that overlooks the Promenade. Took over Boleros nightly and marched through the WJ during the busy breakfast time..marching with their instruments. The amazing great staff onboard was overwhelmed and seemed to have no way of handling this situation at all.

 

I love sailing out of San Juan but will consider the month I choose to go next time.

 

 

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So any suggestion of months to sail out of San Juan to avoid the negative situations mentioned in this thread?  I was looking at June-August 2020 on the Freedom out of San Juan because of the itinerary, and the ship will have just been "Amped".

 

However there are other really nice alternatives during that same time out of the mainland USA so I have options.

 

Dan

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13 minutes ago, Ashland said:

We have also cruised out of San Juan in the last few years on Jewel and Adventure and so were very excited doing it on Freedom (which we have sailed on before the eastern caribbean itinerary). Loved that this gave us the opportunity to do a B2B on a Freedom class ship. 

 

So disappointed in our Freedom September cruise. The ship was completely taken over by the locals and I mean everywhere. Even in the stairwells...and the areas midship on each deck playing their own loud boom box music (we were on deck #9) and they would hang out (sitting on the floor) in that small area between elevators that overlooks the Promenade. Took over Boleros nightly and marched through the WJ during the busy breakfast time..marching with their instruments. The amazing great staff onboard was overwhelmed and seemed to have no way of handling this situation at all.

 

I love sailing out of San Juan but will consider the month I choose to go next time.

 

 

Oh my God! The cruise has been taken over by the natives, they kidnapped everybody in Boleros and now they’re threatening everybody with their instruments! Please have the American culture take over, there can’t be any other culture in the world. 

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21 minutes ago, Ashland said:

 

 Took over Boleros nightly and marched through the WJ during the busy breakfast time..marching with their instruments. The amazing great staff onboard was overwhelmed and seemed to have no way of handling this situation at all.

 

I love sailing out of San Juan but will consider the month I choose to go next time.

 

 

 

Uh, given the music that is played in Boleros every night, how is it bad that they "took it over"?  If you've ever listened to the radio in Puerto Rico, you'd know that whatever Latin band is playing in Boleros is what is on most of the radio stations.  And that music is participation music- either via dancing or playing along with the band.

 

When I see a huge crowd singing and dancing the music there, I know I'm in for a really good time.  That's super fun.

 

I kind of wish they put Boleros into a MUCH bigger place.  

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16 minutes ago, The Fun Researcher said:

So any suggestion of months to sail out of San Juan to avoid the negative situations mentioned in this thread?  I was looking at June-August 2020 on the Freedom out of San Juan because of the itinerary, and the ship will have just been "Amped".

 

However there are other really nice alternatives during that same time out of the mainland USA so I have options.

 

Dan

 

Have you ever experienced it?  If not, then how do you already know you won't like it?

 

It's possible that you could embrace the culture.  Most of the music is a heck of a lot of fun.

 

Otherwise- the answer will be whenever the cruising is expensive.  Which is the same answer if you are trying to avoid kids or pinnacles in the rest of the US.

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We have always cruise out of San Juan March/April time frame. We have never experienced any of the issues some have experienced in the terminals or on the ships posted in this thread. Not saying that wasn't their experiences just not ours. Our last San Juan cruise was a B2B on the Jewel March/April 2017. Looking forward to our B2B cruise on the Freedom March 2019. We enjoy leaving out of San Juan because the cruises are port intensive and already in the beautiful Caribbean.  

Edited by davekathy

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13 minutes ago, alfaeric said:

 

Have you ever experienced it?  If not, then how do you already know you won't like it?

 

It's possible that you could embrace the culture.  Most of the music is a heck of a lot of fun.

 

Otherwise- the answer will be whenever the cruising is expensive.  Which is the same answer if you are trying to avoid kids or pinnacles in the rest of the US.

Don't turn my question into something that it isn't.  I'm not bashing a culture.  I'm trying to avoid the poor behavior and situations mentioned in this thread.  People are people.

 

 

BTW, your comments about kid or pinnacles made me laugh.  (Nothing against kids or pinnacles though)

 

Dan

 

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The problem isn’t a culture, it’s just a complete lack of respect. There is a guest conduct policy intended to help ensure that all guests are able to participate in a safe and enjoyable cruise vacation.  If I want to hear music, I will go to it. I don’t want it forced upon me.  I was enjoying reading a book in the sun at the Solarium, until someone sat down right next to me, turned up their tunes and had no respect for anyone around him. The policy specifically states no boom boxes or loud radios. Nothing was enforced. Respect and common courtesy for fellow passengers is completely overlooked. It doesn’t matter where anyone comes from. It should just come down to being respectful to one another. 

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7 hours ago, alfaeric said:

It must be related to the sales and time of the year- given we are way over 10 sailings from San Juan without any issues about culture shock.  Then again, I've also seen posts where kids from other ports take over the ship, so I don't think the issue is with Puerto Rico as much as it is about parents.

We had a terrible experience out of Texas where the ship was taken over by unruly kids and their parents....seurity did not have the power to keep the kids with icecream out of the solarium pool or the solarium hot tubs!

The chief of security told us - they cut down on security staffing so much there is no way he and his staff can keep 1400 kids out of the solarium....!:classic_rolleyes:👎

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48 minutes ago, Thorben-Hendrik said:

We had a terrible experience out of Texas where the ship was taken over by unruly kids and their parents....seurity did not have the power to keep the kids with icecream out of the solarium pool or the solarium hot tubs!

The chief of security told us - they cut down on security staffing so much there is no way he and his staff can keep 1400 kids out of the solarium....!:classic_rolleyes:👎

The same kind of posts happen from New York, too.  

 

This isn't unique to Puerto Rico.

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2 hours ago, The Fun Researcher said:

Don't turn my question into something that it isn't.  I'm not bashing a culture.  I'm trying to avoid the poor behavior and situations mentioned in this thread.  People are people.

 

 

BTW, your comments about kid or pinnacles made me laugh.  (Nothing against kids or pinnacles though)

 

Dan

 

You are letting other people define what "poor behavior" is.  That's what I'm really pointing out.  

 

I've, honestly, never encountered the rudeness that people are bringing up sailing out of San Juan, and we've really done that well over 10 times.  So either the behavior happens every once in a while, and we keep missing it OR my definition of poor behavior is different.  I really don't know that answer.

 

And I'm suggesting that you may not know that answer, either.

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Regarding the etiquette issues encounter by OP, I'd say Puerto Rican's are a charm if compared to brazilians and chinese, THOSE are rude. Even, I found Puerto Rican's friendly, and with good manners, they say "good morning, excuse me, thank you", they follow the rules, not as the others I'm mentioning above. 

Edited by Pipo

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We recently cruised on Freedom from San Juan.  While we loved the itinerary, we also decided that we will not sail from San Juan again.  We experienced the same rude behavior that has been noted in this thread. We also considered buying the dining package to avoid the very inconsiderate "packs" of people that seemed to be everywhere, but seemed particularly bad in the dining room and Windjammer  We did find that going to the MDR earlier (around 6:00pm) was a far better experience than we when we went after 7:30.

Love the ABC islands, I just hope we can sail there from So. FLA in the future.

 

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On 12/17/2018 at 10:19 AM, EeyoreRN said:

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this review!  We are sailing on Freedom in May with the opposite itinerary and are looking forward to it, but a little hesitantly because of all the reviews like this. My thought is that since we have 5 ports and only 1 sea day...how bad could it be?  I guess we will find out! I purchased signature lunch on embarkation day and 3 night specialty package but now I am wondering if we should have done the ultimate dining package when it was deeply discounted. This would be another way to avoid pushy crowds...

 

Can you please tell us what time you arrived at the Pan Am Pier? My plan was to get there between 10:30 and 11 to arrive ahead of the chaos.

 

Thanks again for your time and thoughts.

 

Eeyore

 

 

Having just got off the 12/2 sailing on Freedom, I have no complaints.  If you arrive around 1100 am you should be able to get on quickly. We were on deck 9 and checked our luggage quickly. Took less then 30 minutes to check luggage and be on the ship.

 

As far as the other passengers, I will reiterate what I did on my trip review. You are on vacation on a ship with a population of a small town. If you are more focused on what others are doing versus having a good time on vacation, you should never go on a cruise. Like many small towns, there will be people you bump into that you will not like. Ignore them and have a fun vacation. Your frustration with them is not going to affect them, it will just affect you. Worry about yourself and enjoy YOUR vacation. While I only observed a few instances described before, I would rather be with people trying to have fun in their own way verses the belligerent falling down drunk who pushed everyone around, which we observed nd was not a "local". 

 

Cruises are great and you will decide whether you enjoy it our not.

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The cruise experience changes from day to day - week to week and year to year.  If YOU had a great experience, awesome!  Just please acknowledge that others may have had the exact opposite.

 

 

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Did 7 day b2b on Norwegian Gem out of San Juan, seeing 10 islands in 14 days in November of 2016.  There seemed to be the usual gang of idiots concerning rude behavior.  Then again I was used to sailing out of NYC, expected a certain amount of such stuff.

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I've sailed Explorer class, Freedom class, and Oasis class multiple times each.  For ship layout and size, Freedom is still my favorite.  

It would be nice if, given the cultural issues when sailing out of PR, the cruise line would make TWO entrances for everything -- one for people willing to stand in line like civilized people, and one for people who prefer the free-for-all concept.  This respects all people by allowing them the choice of how they want to behave, and granting them access to events / services accordingly.

 

 

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10 hours ago, 43mpd902 said:

Having just got off the 12/2 sailing on Freedom, I have no complaints.  If you arrive around 1100 am you should be able to get on quickly. We were on deck 9 and checked our luggage quickly. Took less then 30 minutes to check luggage and be on the ship.

 

As far as the other passengers, I will reiterate what I did on my trip review. You are on vacation on a ship with a population of a small town. If you are more focused on what others are doing versus having a good time on vacation, you should never go on a cruise. Like many small towns, there will be people you bump into that you will not like. Ignore them and have a fun vacation. Your frustration with them is not going to affect them, it will just affect you. Worry about yourself and enjoy YOUR vacation. While I only observed a few instances described before, I would rather be with people trying to have fun in their own way verses the belligerent falling down drunk who pushed everyone around, which we observed nd was not a "local". 

 

Cruises are great and you will decide whether you enjoy it our not.

Spot on and I enjoyed your review!!!

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11 hours ago, 43mpd902 said:

Having just got off the 12/2 sailing on Freedom, I have no complaints.  If you arrive around 1100 am you should be able to get on quickly. We were on deck 9 and checked our luggage quickly. Took less then 30 minutes to check luggage and be on the ship.

 

As far as the other passengers, I will reiterate what I did on my trip review. You are on vacation on a ship with a population of a small town. If you are more focused on what others are doing versus having a good time on vacation, you should never go on a cruise. Like many small towns, there will be people you bump into that you will not like. Ignore them and have a fun vacation. Your frustration with them is not going to affect them, it will just affect you. Worry about yourself and enjoy YOUR vacation. While I only observed a few instances described before, I would rather be with people trying to have fun in their own way verses the belligerent falling down drunk who pushed everyone around, which we observed nd was not a "local". 

 

Cruises are great and you will decide whether you enjoy it our not.

I agree 43.  It's my vacation and I'm there to enjoy MYSELF.  Others may have different ways of enjoying their vacation.  Who is to say what is "right."  All I know is that I don't have time to check each corner for dust or rust or to see how long an elevator takes to arrive.  And I've never left a cruise meal hungry.

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