Can anyone provide us with some information on JR suites at the rear of the ship? We are first time cruisers and were told on deck #7 (room # 7414) that our room on the Freedom of the Seas ship was at the rear giving us a bigger balcony and spectacular views. Can anyone verify that this is accurate information? Also, we would like to swim with the dolphins either at St Marten or St. Thomas stops. How much is this per person? Any other info about Freedom of the Seas E. Caribbean trip would be appreciated whether positive or negative. I am already figuring we may NOT want to leave the ship on the first Coco Cay stop since the reviews on the crowd of people, the food lines and the possibility of COLD weather (we sail 1 17 10)have scared us away. Your thoughts or personal experiences?
Yes, your balcony is larger but the spectacular views will be restrained a bit because of the structural steel on the aft of the ship. Look at this photo for an example. Although it is not on the Freedom, the Freedom looks the same. Your cabin will be in the center.
The dolphin excursions for St. Thomas and St. Martin are not actually on those islands. To do it on St. Thomas you have to take a ferry ride to Tortola, British Virgin Islands, which is nearby. To do the tour on St. Martin you have to take a ferry to Anguilla. There are various tour levels, from the "dolphin encounter" to "swim with the dolphins" or words to that effect. The encounter is cheapest but you really don't do much other than stand on a partially submerged platform and watch, and get maybe a minute of actually touching. The swim is where you get in the water with the dolphin. These things can range from around $100 to $180 per person depending on what tour you choose.
The typical temperature in the Bahamas in January is mid to upper 70's. I think you'd be missing out if you didn't take the tender over to Coco Cay. I look on the private island stops as a high point of a cruise. Don't take reviews as gospel. What some people call a crowd may not be true for others. But suit yourself. The ship can also be a quiet getaway when most of the passengers are ashore. Just realize that with many of the crew ashore on Coco Cay to serve the guests, many things on the ship will be closed (but not everything).
You'll really be bowled over by the Freedom Of The Seas. It is a beautiful ship with tons of things to do. Don't miss the ice show.
more than I expected Dave...I mean your personal, quick response. I think we may SAVE our money for the 2 premium islands St. Maarten and Thomas. Let me ask you one more question. Let's assumme we take the taxi or whatever you call the boat that takes us to Coco Cay and then we decide we want to go back to the ship after a few hours. Are we trapped on shore until the day is over? or are the boats always going back and forth all day?
The are called tenders - small boats used to ferry passengers ashore. At Coco Cay RCI has tenders which hold a lot of people, and it is a short ride so it doesn't take long although tender tickets will be needed initially until the crowd disappates. Tender tickets are just a way to control things by breaking it down into groups. So if you have ticket number 5, you can't board if they are only on number 4. But after awhile they don't require them.
After the initial movement of the passengers and supplies ashore, they will have tenders going back and forth every 15 minutes or so. In fact I usually go over early, linger around the beaches, have lunch, and then head back to the ship to have a relaxing afternoon while many people are still ashore.
Guests who book an early excursion will also get to go on the first tenders.
On Coco Cay - which really is a 120 acre private island (you can see the former owners house still standing there - it is sort of flying saucer shaped) - everything is just like it is on the ship. Your cruise card is used to buy drinks, rent water sports gear, etc. One exception is a small straw market operated by local citizens from nearby Bahamian islands. They sell t-shirts, hats, the usual tourist souvenirs. They take dollars and not the cruise card.
If I remember on Coco Cay after maybe the first hour and a half or less leaving the ship they used the numbers and after that you just filled the next available tender. Didn't see this was a problem, once I got up and had a leisurely breakfast the backlog of folks trying to leave the ship were gone, we still got beach chairs, snorkel equipment, and had a great day. Didn't really understand the rush. Coming back was board a tender at your leisure. I think my parents walked off, said "there's nothing here" and went back to the ship. We, of course, walked off said "There's nothing here but blue ocean and beach, yay!" and took the last tender back to the ship at the end of the day.
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