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To Go or Not to Go - Freedom of the Seas

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I'm going to add something else for your consideration.  Not making any excuses, and perhaps if there are any social scientists here they can confirm or reject this theory.  I acknowledge that there's a different "feel" to the Freedom cruises out of San Juan when compared to earlier years Adventure, Jewel, and Serenade cruises.  But I don't think it is because of the novelty of the Freedom being our new home port ship. I think Puerto Ricans are suffering from collective PTSD, if there's such a thing.  We've had an extremely difficult year, and I think people are just blowing steam and acting out their mass trauma, by going on cruises where there's a guarantee of lights being on, air conditioning blowing, free flow of ice cold beverages, unlimited hot and delicious food, and for some people even a roof over their heads.  Things we all take for granted and which most islanders lacked for too long.

 

I think that by next summer our need for hedonism will ebb back to more normal levels.    

Edited by Aviator of the Seas

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3 hours ago, prmet said:

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

 

This is simply NOT true.  

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10 hours ago, Thorben-Hendrik said:

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

You shouldn't be as not sure you realize Florida was a possession of Spain at one time, 75% of Miami area is Hispanic, you I assume and me are the Minority. I live in Arizona where my Grand Daughter(white) is in classes 50/50 white/Hispanic, my Daughters speak Fluent Spanish. My son in law's Grandparents and my other 2 Grandkids are Mexican/American and have been here for over 200yrs. None of this "surprises" me or bothers me. Welcome to America

Edited by ONECRUISER

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1 hour ago, Aviator of the Seas said:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

There.  I said my piece.

 

1 hour ago, Aviator of the Seas said:

I'm going to add something else for your consideration.  Not making any excuses, and perhaps if there are any social scientists here they can confirm or reject this theory.  I acknowledge that there's a different "feel" to the Freedom cruises out of San Juan when compared to earlier years Adventure, Jewel, and Serenade cruises.  But I don't think it is because of the novelty of the Freedom being our new home port ship. I think Puerto Ricans are suffering from collective PTSD, if there's such a thing.  We've had an extremely difficult year, and I think people are just blowing steam and acting out their mass trauma, by going on cruises where there's a guarantee of lights being on, air conditioning blowing, free flow of ice cold beverages, unlimited hot and delicious food, and for some people even a roof over their heads.  Things we all take for granted and which most islanders lacked for too long.

 

I think that by next summer our need for hedonism will ebb back to more normal levels.    

 

Aviator, I appreciate your posts on this thread.  Salud!  

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I sailed on the December 2nd Sailing and haven't gotten around to posting a review, but I have been meaning too as I saw another cruiser who put it on blast as bad experience and was surprised as we enjoyed our vacation.  Arriving was a cluster as it is just different than other arrivals we have done in the past, you need to go to your assigned deck to drop off luggage.  Once inside we did not have issue.  Our arrival was 12:10pm.  We did notice the overcrowding on the ship, however, we placed a lot of it on we had been on Oasis class for the last few of our sailings and what a difference having 12 larger elevators in the aft makes vs. Freedom classes 8!  If we had anything to do in the front of the ship we purposely walked to that elevator bank as the aft was always busy (and we had an aft balcony so it was out of our way)

 

In regards to the Buffet, yes it was busy at the prime times.  It is always busy at the prime times.  We easily found a table after shore excursions on port days and if we went to Lunch at 1130-1145 on sea days.  By noon on Sea days it was a mad house again, and it would have helped if people did not form a long line to just get to the food.  I cannot speak to breakfast as we went to the dining room and did not have issue.  MTD we had reservations and had our same table every night so again no issue (and we all commented we thought the Main Dining Room food was better than we remembered).  Staff engagement and conversations were excellent across board. 

 

We did not experience any bad behavior around the Solarium pool.  The line for ice cream was maybe our only WOW this is crazy busy but it just made us skip ice cream.  We did not notice people just sitting on stairways either as some other posters have mentioned.  The ice show was crazy long line to get in, but once in everyone had a seat.  Royal probably needs to rethink the amount of time the open the venue before and open it about ten minutes earlier to avoid the line going all the way to the dining room.  We did notice a lot of Spanish only guests, however they were never rude in my opinion.  Many were very appreciative for my broken Spanish in the elevator rather than crowded like sardines in silence, and we received many "Feliz Navidad" and "Buenas Noches" as people exited which was kinder than a lot of the English only speaking guests.  You will hear announcements in English and then Spanish, so be prepared if that is something you mind.  

 

Leaving the ship we did not experience any issues as we booked the San Juan city on own before our flight so we were through everything before the masses started.

 

 

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We loved all but one of our cruises out of SJ.  Love the itineraries and was looking at the freedom but not anymore.   I think we will take a longer cruise out of FL to hit the same islands. 

Edited by maggieq

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I have a B2B booked on Freedom next November and the bad reviews of ‘bad behaviour’ have no impact on my decision-making. I am looking forward to the diversity.

 

I have experienced some level of annoying people on every cruise, no matter if the port was in Bayonne, Hong Kong or Sydney.

 

I never let the behaviour worry me - if it is impacting me I mention it to the person in question or the crew, or find somewhere else to be. 

 

I also find diversity and rowdiness of other passengers make a cruise more fun. If I want to snooze I will sail HAL! 

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7 hours ago, WisconsinFan said:

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

 Wow! How cool --- Small world, isn't it? We do plan to have a blast, and will be watching for you guys!! :) 

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Thanks for everyone's thoughts on this topic. We have opted to keep our booking. I appreciate those who made the point of "you make the trip what you want." That's our plan! We are excited about the itinerary, taking our child on a first cruise, and having a great time! 

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6 hours ago, ONECRUISER said:

You shouldn't be as not sure you realize Florida was a possession of Spain at one time, 75% of Miami area is Hispanic, you I assume and me are the Minority. I live in Arizona where my Grand Daughter(white) is in classes 50/50 white/Hispanic, my Daughters speak Fluent Spanish. My son in law's Grandparents and my other 2 Grandkids are Mexican/American and have been here for over 200yrs. None of this "surprises" me or bothers me. Welcome to America

Not speaking the language of the country I permanently live in - is ignorant and totally unacceptable to me! 👎

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  • Just got off the Freedom on Sunday. Never had any of these problems. Yes, there was a lot of Spanish talking people. But that is nothing abnormal. Had a wonderful cruise. Of course, there are a few rude people that jump in line, etc., but nothing that "ruined" my cruise by any stretch of the imagination.We were on the Adventure out of San Juan in 2016, and had absolutely no problems either. 

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I have been on three cruises out of San Juan (Royal and Celebrity), and am doing another one in 3 weeks. I have enjoyed them all. In fact, my husband will tell you that the pre cruise days we have spent in San Juan,  convinced him that the people there,  are some of the friendliest and polite of anyone he has met.

Perhaps it is because I live in the NYC area and am used to, and enjoy the diversity of others. But I will say, that I have never encountered any rudeness or unacceptable behavior on any of those cruises, except for that occasional person or group that I can find on all of my cruises! 

However, one cruise that I will never book again is a 4 day out of Miami! Unless I was 21 and ready to party again, that dynamic holds no interest for me!

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DW and I read the reviews on CC quite a bit.  Nearly every time we shake our heads amazed that people on the same cruise will have radically different opinions.  Different expectations I suppose.  We visited OSJ while on Silhouette in March, 2018.  Most of OSJ was in pretty good shape but we were only there for a few hours so can't speak to other areas. 

 

We've got a April, 2020, trip on FOS with our daughter and granddaughters for their first cruise.  So after reading the negative reviews this thread interested us. 

 

Our experience in OSJ was very enjoyable and the people very friendly in spite of everything.   We had an incredible meal at Mamalade and drinks at El Convento.  Can't wait to get back with the girls.

 

Aviator, your post on PR are always insightful and appreciated.  Thank you.

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On 12/27/2018 at 5:00 PM, mikegrip said:

I sailed on the December 2nd Sailing and haven't gotten around to posting a review, but I have been meaning too as I saw another cruiser who put it on blast as bad experience and was surprised as we enjoyed our vacation.  Arriving was a cluster as it is just different than other arrivals we have done in the past, you need to go to your assigned deck to drop off luggage.  Once inside we did not have issue.  Our arrival was 12:10pm.  We did notice the overcrowding on the ship, however, we placed a lot of it on we had been on Oasis class for the last few of our sailings and what a difference having 12 larger elevators in the aft makes vs. Freedom classes 8!  If we had anything to do in the front of the ship we purposely walked to that elevator bank as the aft was always busy (and we had an aft balcony so it was out of our way)

 

In regards to the Buffet, yes it was busy at the prime times.  It is always busy at the prime times.  We easily found a table after shore excursions on port days and if we went to Lunch at 1130-1145 on sea days.  By noon on Sea days it was a mad house again, and it would have helped if people did not form a long line to just get to the food.  I cannot speak to breakfast as we went to the dining room and did not have issue.  MTD we had reservations and had our same table every night so again no issue (and we all commented we thought the Main Dining Room food was better than we remembered).  Staff engagement and conversations were excellent across board. 

 

We did not experience any bad behavior around the Solarium pool.  The line for ice cream was maybe our only WOW this is crazy busy but it just made us skip ice cream.  We did not notice people just sitting on stairways either as some other posters have mentioned.  The ice show was crazy long line to get in, but once in everyone had a seat.  Royal probably needs to rethink the amount of time the open the venue before and open it about ten minutes earlier to avoid the line going all the way to the dining room.  We did notice a lot of Spanish only guests, however they were never rude in my opinion.  Many were very appreciative for my broken Spanish in the elevator rather than crowded like sardines in silence, and we received many "Feliz Navidad" and "Buenas Noches" as people exited which was kinder than a lot of the English only speaking guests.  You will hear announcements in English and then Spanish, so be prepared if that is something you mind.  

 

Leaving the ship we did not experience any issues as we booked the San Juan city on own before our flight so we were through everything before the masses started.

 

 

 

We just got off the boat this past Sunday and I think your post is spot on.  I had given no thought to the obvious fact that sailing out of Puerto Rico would yield an abundance of PR passengers.  We began to hear (or read) estimates of 70-75% of the boat was made up of PR passengers.  What did this mean?  Lots of Spanish.  So what?  Yeah the announcements were English then Spanish, and some of the activities (like the schooner bar lounge singer) were clearly geared to the Latino crowd.  None of this impacted our enjoyment.  As a matter of fact I thought the Latino Karaoke attempts quite amusing (a few were quite talented but most were delusional).

However, I did notice some resentment in some of the folks in our group.  The chanting seemed to really annoy them.  I just think Americans are used to being catered to as the center of attention and it makes them uncomfortable when they are not.  When you book a trip to Europe you come to grips with this when you make the decision to go.  When you go on a RC cruise out of a U.S. territory you are somewhat caught off guard.

Oh, and the comment on the elevators was exactly right.  The 2 banks of 4 elevators in the aft of the boat is nowhere near enough for a boat that size.  During dinning times we would have to wait for 3 to 4 attempts to board and elevator to go down or come up.  We were on deck 9 and when we want to go down the elevators would always stop and be full already from the WJ crowd.  Many times we would give up and walk down (wife has bad knee and foot, so I would get to hear all about it each time) the 4 flights to our deck 5 MDR table.  Once done we would encounter full elevators going up from the deck 3 and 4 people.  It got very frustrating and I don't remember having these issues on Oasis or Anthem.

As for San Juan.  The ride from the airport to the hotel (Coronado) left us a little skeptical as it looked pretty rough.  The Coronado area was fine and the next day we went to Old San Juan and I wish we would have stayed there.  It was charming and nice.

Last item of note.  Every single person we encountered from the taxi driver to the hotel staff to the RC staff was a 10 of 10 for friendliness and happy disposition.  We may have been lucky in this regard but in today's world we are very grateful.

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On 12/27/2018 at 9:29 PM, Thorben-Hendrik said:

Not speaking the language of the country I permanently live in - is ignorant and totally unacceptable to me! 👎 

The United States does not have an official language, that is part of the problem here in the USA.  Most states you can take a drivers license test and even vote in our elections in Spanish.  Living here in south Florida, where 70 percent of the people speak Spanish,  I just answer them in Norwegian when people speak Spanish to me.   They are happy to know I speak English after hearing my Norwegian.   

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Wherever we go I try to learn a few basic words and phrases in the local patois.  It's only common courtesy.  Even in non-tourist areas, we've been able to communicate efficiently enough in English. But just being able to say Hello, Good Morning, Please and Thank You can make the visit a little more pleasant.  Next year we have an Iberian cruise so Basque, Portuguese and Spanish will be on the curriculum.

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16 hours ago, Bradison said:

 

As for San Juan.  The ride from the airport to the hotel (Coronado) left us a little skeptical as it looked pretty rough.  The Coronado area was fine and the next day we went to Old San Juan and I wish we would have stayed there.  It was charming and nice.

 

When you say Coronado, do you mean Condado? Did you stay at the Condado Plaza (Hilton)?  We have a reservation there for May, but I know the place is still under construction and is getting pretty iffy reviews. Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "it looked pretty rough?"

 

Thanks!

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We stayed at the AC Marriott in Condado. The ride to it was where it was rough with lots of dilapidated buildings and homes with bars covering their balconies. Once we got to Condado it was fine. I had a bunch of Marriott points but if I had to spend my money I would have looked for a place closer to Old San Juan 

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2 hours ago, EeyoreRN said:

When you say Coronado, do you mean Condado? Did you stay at the Condado Plaza (Hilton)?  We have a reservation there for May, but I know the place is still under construction and is getting pretty iffy reviews. Can you please elaborate on what you mean by "it looked pretty rough?"

 

Thanks!

We've looked at the City Stays that include Condado but would rather be in OSJ.  Looking now at Casablanca or maybe Sheraton OSJ.  We'll be there with daughter and 2 granddaughters for their first cruise.  The girls really want to experience the culture so maybe the location for Casablanca on Calle Fortaleza would be better.

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3 minutes ago, Bradison said:

We stayed at the AC Marriott in Condado. The ride to it was where it was rough with lots of dilapidated buildings and homes with bars covering their balconies. Once we got to Condado it was fine. I had a bunch of Marriott points but if I had to spend my money I would have looked for a place closer to Old San Juan 

When was this?  We were there in March, 2017, and OSJ was OK but I can't speak for the rest of the area.

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We just came back this past Sunday. OSJ was great. I am saying that I would rather stay there than Condado. Condado was fine but it looked like the areas not far away were a little sketchy

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1 hour ago, Bradison said:

We stayed at the AC Marriott in Condado. The ride to it was where it was rough with lots of dilapidated buildings and homes with bars covering their balconies. Once we got to Condado it was fine. I had a bunch of Marriott points but if I had to spend my money I would have looked for a place closer to Old San Juan 

Thanks for the clarification.

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1 hour ago, cltnccruisers said:

We've looked at the City Stays that include Condado but would rather be in OSJ.  Looking now at Casablanca or maybe Sheraton OSJ.  We'll be there with daughter and 2 granddaughters for their first cruise.  The girls really want to experience the culture so maybe the location for Casablanca on Calle Fortaleza would be better.

We stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan this past September...This is the second time we've stayed there pre-cruise..just love the location...easy walking distance to everything including some of our favorite restaurants in old town.

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