We’ve been back now for a week and I’m finally getting around to writing a post about our Eastern Caribbean cruise via Royal Caribbean on their Freedom of the Seas ship.
Overall – it was a good trip and excellent value for the cost. I’ve been on better Caribbean trips, but certainly none this affordable. Enjoyment per dollar was pretty good.
The ship was in good shape. There were only the smallest hints of age and wear. I’ve owned boats before so I know how hard it is to maintain them – I can only imagine the work to keep one this large in good shape.
The Promenade was pretty cool. A couple of pictures from different angles and times of day (which had different lighting and decorations) are shown.
We had an “issue” on a couple of windy days (more on this later) where the wind caused a horribly loud whistling noise through our balcony sliding door. A short call to maintenance and someone showed up, banged on things for a bit, and fixed the issue – whisper quiet after that.
The buffet (Windjammer) was good considering what it was – bulk food sitting under warming lights. The My Time dining was excellent. The service was *fantastic* and the food was fresh and tasty. The variety was appreciated also. We did one breakfast, and couple of lunches, and a couple of dinners here.
The first night we did the Mystery Dinner meal – that was a lot of fun! And the food was from Portifinos (their paid-extra Italian restaurant – dessert pictured to the left here) and was very good. The cost included wine, so that was a nice surprise.
We also did one night in Chops – their pay-extra steak restaurant. It was excellent! Again, great food and great service.
There was also a Johnny Rocket (“free” but a $4.95/person cover charge – doesn’t sound free to me; we skipped this), a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop (not free – wish it was), a Cupcakes (not free – also wish it was), and a Starbucks (again, not free, but there was free coffee – just not the Starbucks brand). There were just enough non-free places to be annoying in my opinion.
The first stop was Coco Cay in the Bahamas. This was a great little spot to sit on the beach. We wish it didn’t have the non-stop band playing. It would have been perfect if it were a bit more peaceful and quiet. The beach was great, plenty of seating was available, and the water was crystal clear. The water was cold, but it was cold at each stop this trip.
The next stop was St. Thomas.
We didn’t actually get onto St. Thomas. We stepped onto the pier then onto another boat to do a snorkeling excursion on St. John. The snorkeling was great (Cruz Bay) but about half of the excursion time is spent just getting to and from the location, so for the cost, it was a very small amount of snorkeling / beach time. Probably wouldn’t recommend this.
This first picture is Cruz Bay. The second is the view from our balcony just before leaving.
The third stop was St. Marteen.
We went ashore here just to check out the downtown area, but found out that just off the ship is a tourist trap of little shops and actually getting downtown to check out the town is either a hike or ride. We decided to head back to the ship and enjoy the peace and quiet.
It was very pretty thought for sure!
The journey (travel between stops).
This trip was the last week of February and I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it was WINDY! The winds were blowing about 20mph and when the ship was traveling against them, it meant gusts to around 40mph. Serious if you were on the top deck you needed to hold on to the railings near the steps because it would blow you over. That was a bummer.
The wind also caused a bit more ship rolling than we would have preferred. Thankfully someone working on the ship recommend Motion Ease, which is a all-natural oil that you put on your finger then dab behind your ear. Surprisingly (yes, I am a skeptic) it worked quite well.
Our cabin dude was very professional, called us by name when he saw us in the halls, and set up these neat little towel animals.
Overall, again, it was a good trip for the money. We’d do it again if we were trying to fit vacation under a certain budget that fit this cruise. Depending on the time of year, it looks like you can get some really great rates (like $800/pp for a balcony room) – making it all the more of a great deal.
I’d recommend Royal Caribbean as a cruise line, and even this specific trip and ship. Happy cruising!