Cruises

Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review

The Freedom of the Seas received a bundle of upgrades in 2011, including a 3D movie theater, and a nursery.

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Introduction

Unveiled in 2006, Freedom of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships on the planet (in fact, it was the largest of all from the time of its debut until the arrival of the even larger Oasis of the Seas in 2009). The first of Royal Caribbean's three Freedom Class vessels, it's chock full of on-board activities, including an ice skating rink, rock climbing wall and the cruise industry's first FlowRider surfing simulator. It also recently was upgraded with several features that debuted on Oasis, including a 3-D movie screen, a Cupcake Cupboard cupcake store and new children’s programs (something parents likely will love is the new nursery for babies and tots up to 36 months—and the option of getting a nanny if they want to go for a romantic dinner).

As part of the recent overhaul, Freedom of the Seas also was infused with DreamWorks character theming (something first done in late 2010 on Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas). The "DreamWorks Experience," as Royal Caribbean is calling it, includes the incorporation of Dreamworks characters such as Shrek and Kung Fu Panda into on-board parades, themed meals, ice skating shows and the ships' new 3-D movie theaters.

Freedom of the Seas can accommodate 3,634 passengers at double occupancy (two people per room), but add in the hundreds of extra pull-down bunks and pull-out sofas in its many family-friendly cabin categories and the total occupancy of the ship during holiday periods can approach 4,400 passengers. With its range of on-board activities and the kid-luring DreamWorks Experience, it is a great ship for families.

Gene Sloan's Opinion on the Freedom of the Seas

Like so many of Royal Caribbean’s newer vessels, Freedom of the Seas is a big, bold ship that will appeal to people who like a mega-resort experience. Though not quite as large as the line’s two newest vessels (the record-size Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas), it offers oodles of deck-top and interior activities that make it a particularly good choice for families with children who need to be kept busy (the ship’s first-ever-at-sea FlowRider surfing simulator is a bonafide teen-pleaser, as are its climbing wall, basketball court and miniature golf course). Families also will enjoy the DreamWorks characters and DreamWorks movie-themed shows on the ship (something found on only a handful of ships).

In addition to families, Freedom of the Seas also will appeal to couples young and old looking for a glitzy cruise experience, with lots to do and at a reasonable price point. Just be warned: Intimate, this ship isn’t. If it’s quietude and lack of crowds you seek, this isn’t the right ship for you.

Gene Sloan writes about cruising for USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling newspaper, and oversees USA TODAY’s online cruise site, The Cruise Log. Sloan’s stories also are distributed by the Gannett News Service to more than 80 other U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of more than five million, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, and The Arizona Republic.

Overview

This ship has a wide range of room categories and sizes, ranging from 152 to 1358 square feet.


Most rooms are located on decks seven to ten, but there are some rooms on decks two and three as well. As on other ROyal Caribbean ships, there are a wide range of cabin categories, the smallest and cheapest being the inside room with 152 square feet of space. Slightly larger are Promenade rooms, which have 169 square feet of space and contain a window overlooking the Royal Promenade. Family rooms are 300 to 338 square feet, with either inside or ocean views.

The Freedom of the Seas also offers a number of Junior and Grand suites with balconies, as well as a Royal Family suite that has room for up to eight passengers. Larger suites include an Owner's Suite with 594 square feet, a Presidential Suite with 1215 square feet, and a Royal Suite with 1358 square feet.

Cabin Layout

The Inside Stateroom was our cabin during the voyage, so it’s the only room for which we have first-hand experience.


Cabin 1 Layout Photo

Upon entering the cabin, you'll find a closet on the right and the bathroom on the left. Inconveniently, the light switch for the bathroom is outside and on the left side of the door, even though the door opens to the left. The bedroom and living room areas are separated by a curtain, and the door to the cabin opens to the inside.

Bedroom

In the bedroom (behind a set of curtains) is a king size bed, which actually consists of two single beds that can be pulled apart if desired. Next to the bed are two night stands with drawers and a phone is placed on one of them. Above the headboard is a mirror, which makes the room look larger. With the curtain, the bedroom and living room areas can be conveniently separated.

Being an inside cabin, it isn't likely for anyone to spend too much time in this room. Still, everybody likes a nice and clean place to sleep, which was not always the case with our room. On embarkation day, the room was dusty and a noticeable amount of dirt was on the floor. Some of the pillow cases didn't look very clean either, and one of our pillow cases had a footprint on it.

Bathroom

The bathroom is small and offers just enough space for two people. It features a large mirror with storage space that should accommodate all the toiletries one might have. As with the bedding, the towels were not always the cleanest, but there were two towels on the racks upon arrival. Like most cruise lines and hotels, you only get a new towel if you leave a dirty one on the floor.

Other Rooms

In the living room area is a desk, couch, coffee table, and television. The couch in our cabin could not be converted into a bed. On both sides of the desk are four drawers, and above the desk is a huge mirror with shelves on either side. The large mirror above the desk, accompanied with an additional mirror by the couch, make the living room look larger than it actually is.

Closets & Storage

There is one closet in the room, but it is large enough for two or three people's belongings. Unfortunately, the closet doesn't have enough shelves for storage, especially since life vests are stored on the limited shelf space that is available. The shelf is made of cheap plastic and has wide gaps, so it isn't a good spot to store smaller items. There is also no cabinet with storage space, but there are a number of drawers scattered throughout the room. The closet does come with an abundance of hangers, so at least your clothes can be put away instead of living out of your bag.

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Separate bedroom with king-size bed, private balcony, living room with queen-size sofa bed and private bathroom. (1,358.4 sq. ft., balcony 313.2 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, dining table in a separate area, entertainment center, including a 42" flat screen TV, a stereo and VCR, surround sound system, private bathroom, vanity area, hair-dryer, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to four people and can accommodate a rollaway bed and/or Pack ’n Play. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Queen-size bed, private balcony, private bathroom and a separate living area with a queen-size sofa bed. (594.2 sq. ft., balcony 204.5 sq. ft.)Also includes dry bar, minibar, entertainment center including a 42” flat screen TV, stereo and DVD player, dinette for four, vanity area, hair-dryer, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to four people and can accommodate a rollaway bed and/or Pack ’n Play. Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


_Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area (some with sofa bed) and private bathroom. (387 sq. ft., balcony 89 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, TV, stereo, DVD player, larger private bathroom with bathtub and double sink, vanity area, hair-dryer, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to four people and can accommodate a rollaway bed and/or Pack ’n Play

Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International_

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), private balcony, sitting area (some with sofa bed) and private bathroom. (297.1 sq. ft., balcony 94.7 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, vanity area, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have sofa beds and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Some can also accommodate a rollaway bed or Pack ’n Play. (Junior Suites located in the aft of the ship cannot accommodate a rollaway bed.) Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), sitting area (some with sofa bed), private balcony and private bathroom. Rates vary from deck to deck. (199.1 sq. ft., balcony 65.7 sq. ft.)Also includes minibar, vanity area, hair-dryer, TV, phone, computer jack, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have a Pullman bed and/or a sofa bed and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Some can also accommodate a rollaway bed or Pack ’n Play. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), sitting area (some with sofa bed), private balcony and private bathroom. Rates vary from deck to deck. (184 sq. ft., balcony 66.5 sq. ft.) Please note: Staterooms 8410, 8710, 9404 & 9704 have a single door with a window and limited ocean view. Also includes minibar, vanity area, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have a Pullman bed and/or sofa bed and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Some can also accommodate a rollaway bed or Pack ’n Play. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (175.5 sq. ft.)Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have sofa beds and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (150.7 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone, computer vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have Pullman beds and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size), sofa and/or Pullman beds, sitting area and private bathroom. (338 sq. ft.). Stateroom can accommodate up to 6 guests.

Please note: A minimum number of guests may apply. To reserve this stateroom, please contact your travel agent or one of our Certified Vacation Specialists. Also includes minibar, vanity area, hair-dryer, TV, phone, computer jack, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to six people and can accommodate a rollaway bed and/or Pack 'n Play. Please Note: Smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two bedrooms with twin beds that convert to queen-size beds (one room with third and fourth Pullman beds), a private balcony, two bathrooms and living area with double sofa bed. (587.7 sq. ft., balcony 270.5 sq. ft.). Stateroom can accomodate up to 8 guests. Please note: A minimum number of guests may apply. To reserve this stateroom, please contact your travel agent or one of our Certified Vacation Specialists.Also includes minibar, two TVs, vanity area, hair-dryer, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to eight people and can accommodate a rollaway bed and/or Pack 'n Play. Please Note: Smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (175.5 sq. ft.)Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Some have sofa beds and can accommodate 3-4 guests. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (300 sq. ft.) Please note: In order to reserve this stateroom, a minimum number of guests may apply.Also includes hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to six people. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 13 Supplied Photo

The Royal Suite is larger than most city apartments. (Photo provided by Royal Caribbean International)

Description provided by

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


A view of the Royal Promenade with bowed windows, two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (169 sq. ft.) Also includes minibar, hair-dryer, TV, phone,vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to two people. Please Note: Effective January 2008, smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms.– Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 14 Supplied Photo

The porthole in these rooms offer a slightly obstructed oceanview. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two master bedrooms with baths. Two additional bedrooms, each with two Pullman beds and two twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed. Two additional bathrooms with showers and a spacious living area with a sofa bed and dining table. Private balcony with dining area and lounge chairs. (1215 sq. ft., balcony 810 sq. ft.). Stateroom can accomodate up to 14 guests. Please note: A minimum number of guests may apply. To reserve this stateroom, please contact your travel agent or one of our Certified Vacation Specialists.Also includes minibar, dining table in a separate area, entertainment center, including a 42" flat screen TV, a stereo and DVD player, surround sound system, private bathroom, vanity area, hair-dryer, phone, vanity table with an extendable working surface for laptop computers and 110/220 electrical outlets. Balcony area includes whirlpool and wet bar. Sleeps eight to fourteen people. Please Note: Smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms. – Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 15 Supplied Photo

The Owner's Suite, both sweet and stately. (Photo provided by Royal Caribbean International)

Cabin Description

We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:


Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) and private bathroom. (323 sq. ft.). Stateroom can accommodate up to 6 guests. Please note: A minimum number of guests may apply. To reserve this stateroom, please contact your travel agent or one of our Certified Vacation Specialists.Also includes hair-dryer, TV, phone, vanity table with working surface for laptop computers, and 110/220 electrical outlets. Sleeps up to six people. Please Note: Smoking is not permitted inside any stateroom or on Oasis class Boardwalk or Central Park private balconies, however, it is permitted on private ocean view balconies of balcony/suite staterooms.– Royal Caribbean International

Cabin 16 Supplied Photo

The Inside Staterooms are the most affordable rooms available. (Photo provided by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Toiletries

Only the most basic toiletries, like soap and shampoo, were provided.


The only toiletries in the bathroom were two soap bars and a shampoo dispenser.


Appliances

In one of the desk drawers was a hair dryer, and there were two 220-volt wall plugs located above the desk, and two 110-volt outlets next to the desk. The TV was mounted next to the vanity, but the remote control didn't always work properly.

Mini Bar

The mini bar was filled with water, soda, beer, and snacks. Evian cost $4, Pellegrino $3, Coca Cola $2, and beers were $6. There were a variety of snack packages, like a snickers and M&Ms, each of them costing $6.

Phone and Internet

All the important numbers are saved in the phone: wake up call, housekeeping, and room and guest services. Calls to the US and other countries were also possible. We noticed cell phones working on the ship, but be aware that roaming fees may apply.

In-room Entertainment & Services

As on so many ships, the channel choices on the television in our cabin was a disappointment. Royal Caribbean included a bunch of TV channels with daily cruise news, sales pitches, and broadcasted events. Some movie channels were also available, with movies showing at the same time every day, and with foreign language versions available as well. Movies on demand were available for $10. The TV also contained one interactive channel, with which you can check what you've spent or ordered from room service.

More than half a dozen eateries are located on-board, as well as a bunch of bars and snack stations.


Freedom of the Seas has several restaurants on board, with the largest being the main dining room, which is spread over three levels. There are two fixed seating times at the main dining room (6 pm and 8:30 pm), or passengers can sign up for the more flexible "My Time Dining" program, which allows dining any time between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. On sea days the main dining room also offers lunch, and every day you can get a nice and relaxed breakfast with an a la carte menu or buffet. All of the food is complimentary, but fresh orange juice in the morning does cost $2.50.

On deck 11 you'll find the Portofino, Chops Grille, Jade, and Windjammer restaurants. Portofino is Freedom's Italian restaurant and the cover charge is $20. It offers pasta, risotto, Italian meat dishes, and salads. If you like Italian food, you should definitely go there, as the $20 cover charge is reasonable for what you get. Portofino has an extensive wine list, with wines from all over the world, starting at $7 a glass.

Chops Grille, a steakhouse, has a cover charge of $30, and offers the likes of filet mignon, New York strip, and T-Bone steak—everything for the meat fan. Regular starters like salads are offered, but also items like Asian inspired spicy tuna are available. Although the price is a little high, the food here is great, and it is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or special occasion.

Windjammer and Jade are both buffets. Jade appears as the more sophisticated option with its smaller buffet, and it offers Asian food and sushi for dinner. Windjammer is larger and serves burgers, hot dogs, pasta, meat with gravy, and a lot of desserts. At the juice stations, diners can get apple, grape, and orange juice, as well as coffee and iced tea. Right at the entrance of the buffet restaurants is a small café, which belongs to Jade and provides Chops Grille and Portofino with drinks. The bar offers specialty coffees and mixed drinks.

For a good burger you can head down to Johnny Rockets, a '50s style diner that also offers sandwiches and milk shakes. Every table includes its own jukebox, and everyone gets three quarters to put into it. As a special surprise, every time the jukebox plays "Staying Alive", all the waiters start dancing. All the food at Johnny Rockets costs $4.95, with milk shakes and soft drinks costing extra (a milk shake is about $5).

Sorrento's Pizzeria is complimentary, and offers a variety of pizzas and antipasti. It opens in the early afternoon and stays open until late at night. Pizza options include: Hawaiian-style, vegetarian, margherita, and pepperoni.

For the sweet tooth, Freedom of the Seas features a cupcake store and a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop. There's also a Seattle-style coffeehouse where you can get cappuccinos, espressos, or lattes, as well as muffins, cookies, donuts, croissants, and small sandwiches.

Overview

The main dining room is spread out over three decks and offers fixed and flexible seating.


The main dining area is spread out over three separate levels. Each level has differently colored chairs: Leonardo (deck three) has red chairs, Isaac (deck four) has blue, and Galileo (deck five) has green chairs. The upper two levels have a railing surrounding an atrium, with a two-deck-high crystal chandelier. Over the whole area are small tables for two, as well as a mix of larger round and square tables that can accommodate up to eight people.

Royal Caribbean offers different menu themes from night to night in the main dining room, from Italian to Mexican. Each day, the chef puts together one signature menu, but there are also vegetarian options and a three course "Vitality Menu" with less than 800 calories. Only desserts remain the same throughout the week.

Breakfast

Breakfast is always served on deck four in Leonardo, and it features a small buffet as well as a la carte service. Most items on the menu are also available at the buffet, although scrambled eggs and bacon from a buffet is not the best of ideas. The buffet also has fresh cereals, like muesli, a selection of granola, nuts, and dried fruits.

The breakfast menu includes juices, pastries, cold and hot cereals, and, of course, many different egg options. On the menu is the so called "Daily Ultimates," a changing special breakfast of such things as huevos rancheros or chocolate waffles or pancakes. For $2.50 you can also get freshly squeezed orange juice. Overall the breakfast is pretty basic, with a few international choices.

Lunch / Dinner

Lunch in the main dining room is only served on sea days. Most lunch dishes are light and include a grilled catch of the day, different salads, sandwiches, burgers, and a pasta special. Two especially-good dishes included the catfish (which unfortunately came with a boring sauce and side of mashed potatoes), and an excellent open steak sandwich. The steak sandwich, cooked to your liking, was served with a sunny-side-up egg—simple, but delicious.

In addition to the salads on the menu, Freedom of the Seas also offers a salad bar where you can choose from different lettuces, several condiments, and a variety of dressings. The chefs mix all the components together for you, so you get your favorite salad without having to compromise on anything.

A daily changing dinner menu offers not only diversity, but also some very good dishes. The "vitality menu" offers healthy options with a low calorie count, and the chef's signature menu includes dishes representative of the daily themes. A filet mignon from Chops Grille for $15 is also available. All dishes have wine pairing recommendations and the wine list changes daily.

Prior to ordering, your waiter will bring you a basket of different breads, like an onion bread and a spicy bun with poppy seeds, from which you can choose as much as you want. Starters include escargot bourguignon, a crab and rice-noodle salad, beef carpaccio with baby potatoes and arugula salad, and a number of soups. The escargots tasted strange, however, and the carpaccio featured dried and pressed meat, which we did not expect to see. The potato salad was decent, but tasted like it came from a grocery store. If you like to try new dishes, you should definitely try the crab and rice-noodle salad. It had a spicy tinge to it, but it wasn't overly-strong, and the noodles were soft and delicious.

Meat, fish, and pasta are offered every day in different variations. Most fish dishes were good, but boring, and always came with asparagus on the side. On surf day, the menu offers a surf and turf, with a filet mignon and—wait for it—three tiny shrimps. The shrimps weren't even king prawns or anything substantial, but really three little shrimps to represent the whole "surf" part of the meal. The lamb shank was a lot better. Pink in the center, it was so tender it fell of the bone without so much as cutting into it. We do recommend most of the meat dishes, as the chefs on Freedom of the Seas seem to be real grill-masters when it comes to meat.

Dessert

Some desserts stay the same during the whole week of the cruise, but there are a few dessert options that change daily: coconut crème brûlée, banana cream pie, chocolate souffle, and a raspberry panna cotta. All the desserts were quite good, but some were simply better than others. The raspberry panna cotta, for example, was fruity and light while still being sweet and enjoyable. The same goes for the banana cream pie, a pie made of chocolate custard with slices of banana in the pie crust. However, the best dessert was the chocolate souffle with chocolate sauce, which was to die for.

Wine List

The wine list changes every day according to the menu, and wine pairing recommendations are found on the menu as well. Most wines were available by the bottle only, but there were some wines sold by the glass. The wines come from all over the globe, and prices start at a relatively steep $29 a bottle and $6 a glass (not including gratuity).

Overview

Chops Grille is a classic steakhouse restaurant.


Chops Grille is a classic steakhouse, located on deck 11, right by the Jade and Portofino restaurants. The cover charge for Chops is $30 per person, not including drinks. The restaurant looks very sophisticated with dark panels, tables covered in white linen, and chairs upholstered with dark-colored patterns. Chops has two sections: the front, with bigger tables and an open kitchen, and the back, with smaller tables and darker lighting with wine shelves on the walls. It is a good place for a romantic dinner, but also good for larger groups.

The menu is not very long, but the choices are delicious. There are different steak cuts on the menu, as well as chicken and fish. Starters include shrimp cocktail, oysters, a crab and shrimp cake, as well as salads and soups. Desserts are different and range from heavy cakes to a lighter fruit mousse. As Chops Grille is very popular, Royal Caribbean recommends early reservations and asks to allow two to three hours time for dining (as all dishes are prepared to order).

Breakfast

Members of the Crown and Anchor Society can eat breakfast here, but Chops Grill does not offer anything—they have to get their breakfast from Windjammer or Jade.

Lunch / Dinner

A small and warm loaf of dark onion bread with salted butter and cream cheese is brought to guests upon sitting down for lunch. The menu includes salads, like Caesar and Chops signature salad, as well as a shrimp cocktail, oyster duet (another word for oyster Rockefeller), and mushroom or onion soup for starters. There is also a smoked duck salad and—the best menu item—an Asian inspired spicy tuna with wasabi sauce, avocados, and sesame tacos. The only downside to this dish was that it featured ground tuna instead of tuna steak. Still, the different spices and the tuna went just as well together as a spicy tuna roll at your favorite sushi place.

Being a steakhouse, it should come without saying that the menu offers mostly meat dishes. Most are different steak cuts, but there are a few chicken and fish offerings as well. Chop's has a big (12 oz) and a small (10 oz) filet mignon, broiled porterhouse steak, beef short ribs, and a mixed grill with lamb, sausage, and beef. For those counting calories, Chop's has a barramundi filet, halibut, and a chicken breast on the menu.

If you don't mind a little more fat on your meat, we highly recommend the broiled veal chop. Veal is always a little on the fattier side, but that's what makes it taste better. On the Freedom of the Seas, the veal was cooked medium rare (they only offer medium or medium rare options), and it was so tender it fell off the bone without a hitch.

Side dishes, like the delicious green beans with Dijon and feta cheese, are served separately. There are three sauces to choose from, which are poured over the meat by the waiter, the red wine reduction being the best of all. For those who like their meat medium well or well done, it is recommended to get the meat in a butterfly cut, so it doesn't dry out as easily.

Dessert

There are just four desserts on the menu, but each one was very tasty. You have the choice between a créme brûlee, a passion berry mousse, a red velvet cake, and a chocolate mud pie. The portions were huge and the chocolate mud pie and red velvet cake were very rich. If you want a lighter dessert, you should definitely go for the passion berry mousse.

Wine List

The wine list is the same as in all the other restaurants on Freedom of the Seas. The only difference is at Chops you can get some wines by the glass that you can't get in other restaurants.

Venue Overview

Classic and family-style Italian dishes, as well as new creations, are served at Portofino.


Every cruise ship needs an Italian restaurant, and the Freedom of the Seas has Portofino. Located on deck 11, opposite from Chops Grille, it has a beautiful view over the ocean and a similar layout to Chops. Portofino's back room is a bit different, however, with a bench along the wall and in the middle of the room. Tables laid with white cloth and cutlery welcome guests and give the restaurant an elegant flair.

The menu consists of classic Italian dishes, like carpaccio, minestrone, an antipasti plate, risotto, saltimbocca, and pasta. Some dishes, such as the prosciutto salad with apples, mozzarella and a red wine vinaigrette, and the tuna carpaccio, are more adventurous.

Breakfast

Diamond members of the Crown and Anchor Society can get a small breakfast here, but it's off limits for everyone else.

Lunch / Dinner

Portofino's menu is not very long, but it offers classic Italian dishes as well as some new creations. Antipasti include a mixed plate for two with prosciutto, artichokes, Caesar salad, and minestrone. There are also two carpaccio, one beef and one tuna. The beef was good, but the meat was served seared, not raw, which made the thin slices a bit chewy. The tuna carpaccio was better, but a little watery, as it seemed to have been frozen before cutting.

Amongst the main courses are a prawn and crab risotto made with saffron. The rice in the dish was al dente, and the fresh tomatoes were tossed in moments before serving. It was well-seasoned, and the shrimp and crab were both well cooked. Other dishes include pasta with pesto, a tuna steak, lamb chops, ossobucco, a T-bone steak, and the classic saltimbocca, which might be the best dish on the menu. The marsala sauce was tasty and savory, and the mushroom risotto on the side complimented it very well.

Portofino does not offer lunch, and reservations are highly recommended for dinner.

Dessert

Despite having some more adventurous dishes on the main menu, the desserts at Portofino were fairly classic. The tiramisu featured crushed, marinated raspberries, and a pine nut almond tart came with citrus-ricotta cheese. For those who can't get enough chocolate in one dessert, Portofino offers a chocolate tartufo. The tartufo is a layered dessert using only chocolate: it has a chocolate mousse core, covered with a darker chocolate, and topped with a chocolate glaze with some cherries for decoration. The tartufo doesn't just sound good, but it was excellent tasting as well.

Wine List

Portofino focuses on Italian wines like Chianti, but also offers wines from all over the world.

Overview

The Windjammer features a huge buffet with international food.


Being a buffet restaurant, the Windjammer looks a like an elegant cafeteria. There are rattan chairs with cushions throughout the dining room and the tables are dark in color. Some seating areas have roofed, round benches and tables, while the food is lined up along the wall in front of an open kitchen. The crew constantly pushes dishes out of the kitchen and fills up the buffet accordingly. In the middle of the buffet are three islands with specialty foods and a chef in the middle who is always keeping the serving pans full. One station features freshly grilled burgers and hot dogs at night, and eggs any way you choose in the morning. Several beverage stations are packed in the room, featuring fresh orange juice, other juices, water, iced tea, and coffee. Because of the Windjammer's close proximity to the pool area, the restaurant was always packed.

Breakfast

Breakfast is offered every day from 7:30 to 11 am at the Windjammer, and we found the restaurant was usually crowded for breakfast (particularly on sea days). At the egg station you can get omelets, boiled and scrambled eggs, as well as eggs your way that are prepared by a chef to order. Bacon, potato patties, and breakfast sausages are located right next to the egg station. Another station has a variety of breads, donuts, muffins, and other pastries, while a third station features waffles, French toast, and pancakes. There's also a selection of boxed cereals, yogurts, fruits, cold cuts, and savory Asian-inspired dishes elsewhere in the buffet line.

Lunch / Dinner

For lunch, Windjammer offers a salad bar with prepared salads such as tuna or egg salad, as well as a do it yourself salad station. Different pastas and sauces are available, as well as an Indian chicken curry, turkey and gravy, fish, and a paella-style rice and seafood dish. Another station offers sandwiches, cold cuts, burgers, hot dogs, pizza, and fries. Even though it's a buffet, the food at Windjammer was decent, and the dishes were kept warm for a while. On sea days, lunch at the Windjammer was extremely crowded, as everybody laying out in the sun seemed to come here for lunch.

Dinner offerings weren't much different than lunch at the Windjammer. Only the pastries and French toasts were missing at dinner, and the buffet stations had a similar set of international offerings: Indian food, pasta, burgers, mashed potatoes, gravy, grilled skewers, mac and cheese, and pizza.

Lunch at the Windjammer runs from 11:30 am to 3 pm, while dinner hours were 6 pm to 9 pm.

Dessert

The Windjammer features an entire dessert station full of sweet delights. There's vanilla custard, jell-o, cookies, cappuccino cheesecake, tiramisu, apple pie, and cake rolls. The cappuccino cheesecake and the tiramisu are delicious, so they tend to disappear very fast. Thankfully, there was always a crew member filling the plates back up.

Overview

A smaller buffet in the same area as the Windjammer.


The Jade buffet restaurant is in the same vicinity as the Windjammer, and it offers similar food to the Windjammer, but on a smaller scale. Chairs and tables at Jade looked the same as the ones found in the Windjammer, but the tables at Jade were outfitted with napkins and silverware. Also, the buffet at Jade skewed to healthier options, with more fresh fruit, salads, sushi, and curries.

Breakfast

Jade's breakfast buffet was very small and full of health-conscious options. It featured two identical lines of fruits, pastries, and cereals, as well as a drink station with juices, coffee, and iced tea.

Lunch / Dinner

Lunch at Jade also features healthier buffet options. There are several salads, like Greek and Waldorf, as well as potato salad, and a place to make your own pita with hot and cold ingredients. For dinner, Jade offers sushi, Asian salads, chicken curry, fish, and a vegetarian dish. If you plan on eating sushi, you can pick up a special tablet with dents for the soy sauce and rice bowl.

Dessert

Jade offers rice pudding, peach apple pie, chocolate cake, and custard for dessert.

Venue Overview

A ’50s style “drive-in” restaurant.


Johnny Rockets looks and feels like a drive-in restaurant from the 1950s. The benches are red leather with aluminum tables and small jukeboxes attached at the end. The restaurant offers freshly-prepared burgers, sandwiches, and milkshakes. All servers wear hats and aprons, which deepens the '50s feel of the restaurant. Every time a new customer comes into Johnny Rockets, all the waiters are required to say "hello", and when customers leave all the waiters say "goodbye". Best of all: whenever a guest picks the song Stayin' Alive by the Bee Gees on the jukebox, the whole staff at Johnny Rockets starts dancing. A few of the staff clearly didn't like doing this dance, but they did so anyway.

Lunch / Dinner

Johnny Rockets opens between 1 pm and 3 pm, depending on the day's itinerary on the Freedom of the Seas. The menu includes fountain beverages, shakes and malts, and for starters you automatically get onion rings and fries—with a side of ketchup in the form of a smiley face served on a separate plate. There are several hamburgers on the menu, including the rocket double with two patties, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a special sauce; the St. Louis with thick bacon and Swiss cheese; and the smoke house with a barbeque-ranch sauce. Sandwiches, like BLT, tuna salad, and club are also on the menu.

Vegetarians also get some choices: the Streamliner, which is a soy Boca burger with onions, lettuce and tomato, as well as the old classic, grilled cheese. The burgers and the sandwiches are great, but the best food item here was the crispy breaded onion rings.

Dessert

For dessert you can get apple pie or an Oreo sundae.

Overview

Sorrento’s is an old-style pizzeria with fresh pizza and antipasti, as well as some nice desserts.


Sorrento’s is at times a bit of a contradiction, with an old style pizzeria speckled with what almost seems like a '50s diner atmosphere, with older portraits dotting the walls. Despite these touches, the decor is sleek and modern overall. For seating there are small tables for two or four, with a long booth and table setup reminiscent of a traditional pizzeria.

Lunch / Dinner

Cheese and pepperoni are standard pizza options, but they also have daily specials like Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham, or the Californian pizza with chicken and spinach. All food is complimentary, but drinks carry an additional charge.

Overview

Room service is available all day; breakfast is served from 6:30 am to 11 am.


Freedom of the Seas' room service menu is not very long. It has three sandwiches, a few entrees, some salads, and a few desserts. Because of its limited length, if you were to stay on the ship for more than a few days and only order room service, you'd have to start repeating your orders. Room service is complimentary, but drinks (both soft and alcoholic) must be paid for separately.

Breakfast

If you want to use the door tag to order breakfast, you must put in your order by 4 am with an instruction for what time it should be delivered. You can also use the interactive menu on the TV, which allows ordering until 11 am. There are classic and country breakfast offerings, as well as cereal (from Special K to muesli), milk, juices, fruits, hash browns, bacon, and eggs.

A big no-go was the fruit plate, which featured strawberry, melon, orange, and pineapple—and looked delicious. Unfortunately, the strawberry was moldy, which made us wonder how far in advance the plate was put together. The bakery sample, on the other hand, was quite good, particularly the small croissants.

Lunch / Dinner

As mentioned, the choices for lunch and dinner on the room service menu are not extensive. There are three sandwiches, three salads, and five entrees to choose from. The steak sandwich is the same Freedom offers for lunch in the main dining room, and tasted just as good. The fried honey stung chicken was not very good, however, and the fries tasted off.

Overall, the in-room dining service was speedy, but we weren't crazy about the quality. Maybe we were just unlucky with our choices, but we ran into some bad items nonetheless. There are so many better choices for food on the Freedom, we'd recommend trying one of those instead of ordering room service.

Dessert

For dessert, Freedom of the Seas' in-room menu offers a cheese platter, raspberry cheese cake, chocolate chip cookies and cookies of the day, as well as a chocolate pear tart. The cheese platter was good, and it included brie, Swiss, and cheddar.

Drink Options

Coffee, tea, milk, hot chocolate and iced tea are all complimentary. If you want alcohol, you can get mixed drinks such as appletinis, blue Hawaiians, margaritas, pear melon martinis, cosmopolitans, and Mai Tais. Prices range from $6.25 and go up to $10.25, with the Ultimate Cosmopolitan being the most expensive drink.

Drinks Overview

Beer, wine, and a variety of mixed drinks are available at most bars and restaurants.


Royal Caribbean likes to boast that its vessels have the best and largest drink selection at sea: 150 wines, almost as many spirits and liqueurs, and 30 beers from around the world. If you are 21 years or older on boarding day, you will have no trouble getting alcoholic beverages, but providing underage passengers with alcohol is prohibited—and anyone who violates the alcohol policy may be forced to disembark or be left ashore on their own expense. Bar tenders often ask for ID or any proof of age from customers who look too young.

Every bar on Freedom of the Seas has different drinks on its menu, but you can get any mixed drink in any bar as long as the bar keeper knows how to make it. Drinks start at around $6 and go up to hundreds of dollars for a pricey bottle of wine or expensive champagne.

Beer & Wine

The extensive wine list includes wines and champagne from all over the world. Some are only sold by the bottle, but the choices by the glass are plentiful as well. Prices for wines start at $6 a glass, and go up to over $500 for a bottle of rare Tuscan red wine. If you really want to splurge, asking a bar tender for the reserve wine list may reveal even more expensive options.

Mixed Drinks

Most cruise ships do a brisk business in mixed drinks, and Royal Caribbean is no different. You can get all kinds frozen drinks, such as margaritas, mud slides, and pina coladas, and plenty of martinis are on the menu as well. Prices for mixed drinks range from around $7 to $11 dollars.

Drink Packages

Royal Caribbean does offer some drink packages, but they must be purchased at least four days before departure and cannot be modified unless you cancel the order and then repurchase it. Three wine packages are available—gold, platinum, and diamond—and each plan has a different set of wines from which you can choose. For example, the gold plan lets you choose five bottles of wine for $135, while the diamond plan offers 12 bottles for $395.

Royal Caribbean also offers a bottled water package where you can purchase between eight ($28.45) and 24 ($71.10) bottles of water. A juice package is available for $20.15 for six bottles of Minute Maid Juice, or $35.55 for 12 bottles. The unlimited fountain soda pass includes a Coca Cola cup and lets you refill the cup with soda as many times as you like. Prices for the unlimited soda pass depend on the length of your cruise, but for a seven-night trip Royal Caribbean charges $42 per adult and $28 per child for this plan.

Non-alcoholic Options

Coffee, tea, water, and iced tea are all complimentary, as are some juices like apple and orange juice. Bottled juice and soda drinks (Coca Cola products) all cost around 2.50 including gratuity. Royal Caribbean also offers frozen drinks without alcohol for about $4.50 a piece.

Pools & Decks

The ship offers three pool areas and several decks with lounge chairs.


Freedom of the Seas has three pool areas. There's the H20 Zone water park that is mainly for kids; a main pool that is large and open to anyone; and the adult-only Solarium. All the pools have hot tubs and showers, and all are surrounded by sun lounges. Additional sundecks are located on deck 12, 14, and 15. The promenade deck is on deck 4, with sun lounges, chairs, and access to the ship's bow.

Pool Areas

Three pool areas and multiple whirlpools are found on the ship.


H2O Zone

The H2O Zone is a water park, mainly for kids, with shallow parts for toddlers and deeper areas for older kids. H2O has interactive sculpture fountains, ground geysers, and a cascading waterfall. There is also an ice cream machine and a juice bar called Squeeze located near the H20 Zone. In addition to juices, Squeeze also sells smoothies, soda, beer, and mixed drinks.

Main Pool

The Sports Pool is the main pool area on Freedom of the Seas. The pool is divided by a stage, and on sea days (and some of the shorter port days) there are dances and other activities taking place on the stage. A small pool bar is located here, as well as a terrace with more sun lounges and stairs that lead up to an additional bar. The pool here is bigger and deeper than the ones found at H20 Zone, and there are four hot tubs in the main area—just in case the 80-degree water of the main pool is too cold for you.

Overlooking this pool is a huge LED screen that features movies and entertainment programs during the day and at night.

Solarium

Solarium is an adults-only pool area. The pool is a lot smaller than the main pool, but it has a small bridge and a fountain built into the pool. There are stools built into the side of the pool, and you can sit behind the fountain and have a drink from the solarium bar. All the sun lounges here feature wooden chairs and are cushioned—a lot more comfortable than the lounges at the other pool areas.

The Solarium area is not very big and tends to fill up quickly. On both sides of the pool, under a roofed area, are cantilevered whirlpools that extend 12 feet beyond the sides of the ship and are 112 feet above the water. Being adults-only, the Solarium is a quieter pool area, and, being right by the gym and spa, it is the perfect spot to relax the muscles after a hard work out.

There are a number of deck areas where you can work on your tan.


Promenade

The Promenade is on deck four, and its view is obstructed by the ship's collection of life boats. Deck four does not go around the entire ship but instead has a set of stairs leading up to the outside of deck five and the bow. The bow of the ship has a helicopter landing place and a spyglass, and it's the perfect place to do your best Leonardo Di Caprio-from-the-movie-Titanic impression. Along the wall of the Promenade are sun lounges and chairs as well as a couple of shuffle board courts on either side. The starboard side of the Promenade is the smoking area, so if you don't like the smell, you shouldn't come to this side of the ship.

Deck 12

Deck 12 has a jogging track that features sun lounges along the railings on both sides of the track. The deck looks down onto all the pools, so everybody can enjoy and follow all the events going on in the pool area. As on the Promenade deck, the starboard side allows smoking, as does the only bar on deck 12: the Sky Bar.

Deck 14

Deck 14 has an open deck located right behind the Diamond Club and the card room. There’s not much on the deck other than two ping pong tables and a few platforms, but it’s a great place to watch basketball or soccer matches on the sports court.

St. Tropez

This deck area is also on deck 14, but towards the front of the ship, and it’s laid out with fake grass and several sun lounges. Since it’s far away from the busier parts of the ship, St. Tropez tends to be one of the quietest places you can go (even on sea days). The only down side is the area smelled a bit moldy, particularly on rainy days. We’re not sure, but we think the smell had something to do with the fake grass.

Royal Promenade

The Royal Promenade is Freedom of the Seas’ mall. Most shops are located here, as well as several bars and cafés.

Ship Tour Overview

Deck 2

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Deck 3

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Deck 4

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Deck 5

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Deck 6

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Deck 7

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Deck 8

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Deck 9

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Deck 10

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Deck 11

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Deck 12

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Deck 13

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Deck 14

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Deck 15

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As part of a recent update in dry dock, Freedom of the Seas received a digital wayfinding system that makes it a lot easier to navigate the ship (something first seen on Royal Caribbean's newer Oasis of the Seas). LCD screens are located throughout the vessel and offer directions, routing, ship facts, and information about activities and events. The system makes life on the ship easier, and it can be fun to use, although a lot of the old signs and directions still remain on the ship. Floor numbers, venue names, room numbers, and other signs have Braille imprinted on them for the visually impaired traveler.

Freedom of the Seas is one of the liveliest ships around when it comes to nighttime entertainment, offering a large showroom as well as a number of bars, lounges and a nightclub that stays open late. The Bear & Bull is an English pub with international beers and live music, while Pharaoh's Palace is a huge lounge with bingo, karaoke, and dance classes. In the Champagne bar you can spend a quieter night with piano music, while Boleros, one deck down, features Latin music (both lounges have a dance floor).

If you like karaoke, Freedom of the Seas has its own small recording room where anyone can perform songs and broadcast this performance to others. This karaoke bar is called On Air, and it also functions as a sports bar showing certain events. Behind this area is Freedom's ice rink, which is called Studio B and is used for ice skating classes and fun times during the day. At night it can be turned into a dance floor and stage, and Royal Caribbean offers several shows here during the voyage. Bigger shows, as well as the Welcome Aboard show and pitches, take place in the ship's main theater—the Atrium.

If you get hungry in between events, performances, or visiting bars, there are some snack places you can visit like Sorrento's (pizza, antipasti), and Cafe Promenade (sandwiches, muffins, donuts). To prevent these little snacks from ending up on your hips, the Freedom of the Seas has a big fitness center with a boxing ring and other workout tools, as well as a spa where you can get pampered.

Lounge & Cafés

Several lounges, snack bars, and one cafe are found on the ship.


There are quite a few places to lounge or get a snack on the Freedom of the Seas, especially at the Royal Promenade area. Two lounges are on deck 14—Cloud 9 and Seven of Hearts—and they can be combined with Olive & Twist and make a huge venue for receptions or other large events.

For snacks, Freedom of the Seas has the Café Promenade with small sandwiches and pastries; Sorrento's for pizza and antipasti; as well as a cupcake shop and an ice cream shop.

Cloud 9

Cloud 9 is a small lounge sandwiched between the Olive & Twist and the Seven of Hearts lounge. It has a few tables and a piano, but no bar. Cloud 9, Seven of Hearts, and Olive & Twist can be combined to form one large venue.

Seven of Hearts

Seven of Hearts is a game room located on deck 14 near the Olive & Twist. There are some board games, a few tables with chess boards on them, and you have access to the outside of deck 14 that features two ping pong tables and stairs going down to the sports court and mini golf area.

Connoisseur Club

The Connoisseur Club is Freedom of the Seas’ humidor where you can buy and smoke cigars with a glass of fine scotch or bourbon—whichever you prefer.

Café Promenade

Café Promenade is located on deck five. Here, you can get complimentary coffee and snacks like croissants with ham and cheese, small sandwiches, muffins, or donuts. Café Promenade also offers specialty coffees like cappuccino, espresso, and latte. You can get coffee 24 hours a day, but snacks and specialty coffee drinks are only available from 7 am to 10 pm.

Cupcake Cupboard

As the name implies, Cupcake Cupboard sells all kinds of cupcakes; all of them freshly baked. Freedom of the Seas also offers classes on how to decorate cupcakes for $22 per person.

Ben & Jerry's

The Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop on the Freedom of the Seas is just like any Ben & Jerry’s shop you’d find on land. Prices for ice cream are about the same as you’d pay at a land-based Ben & Jerry’s as well.

Concierge Floor / Club Floor

There is a concierge club on deck ten and a Diamond club (for frequent cruisers) on deck 13, but you have to have a Crown and Anchor membership or have booked the right room to get in.

Children's Areas

Adventure Ocean, the ship's children's area, is on deck 12. It includes a Royal Tots area with interactive playgroups for children between 18 and 36 months old (parents must accompany their kids). Classes for even younger kids (6-18 months) are also available. Fairly new is the nursery, where parents can drop off their kids during the day or for an evening out. Registrations must be made on the first day of the cruise, and Royal Caribbean charges $8 per hour per child for this service.

For potty-trained kids between three and five years old, Freedom of the Seas offers science experiments, play hours, and even some education classes about local customs. A little more diverse is the itinerary for kids from six to eight years old that feature hands-on science experiments, scavenger hunts, and theater games, just to name a few. Story time, theater, dance parties and other activities with characters from the DreamWorks Animation movies, as well as special shore excursions, are offered for kids ages 9-11 years old. Opening hours for the kids areas are from 9 am to noon, 2 pm to 5 pm, and 7 pm to 10 pm on sea days. Registration is not necessary.

Teenagers from 12 to 17 can join activities whenever they want, or just hang out in the teen-only lounge. Activities include Flowrider instructions, theme nights, karaoke, casino, and a climbing competition. The activities are scheduled throughout the day, and the teen center also has a club open from 10 pm to 2 am.

According to Royal Caribbean, all members of the teen staff have a college degree in education or related fields, as well as experience working with 13 - 17 year old children.

Conference Rooms

Deck two has four conference rooms that can be combined to form one huge room. All are equipped with a projector and screen for presentations.

Libraries

The library on deck seven isn't very large and, because it overlooks the Royal Promenade and is located in a high-traffic area, it never feels very quiet.

Religious Services / Prayer Rooms

Freedom of the Seas has a small chapel on deck 14 that can be used for marriages, prayer, or simply a few minutes of peace.

Overview

This spa felt small for a ship of this size.


The treatment rooms on the Freedom of the Seas are located on deck 12 (forward). They are arranged in a half circle and would all have a nice view of the wide ocean—if not for the curtains that are in place on all the outside rooms. All rooms are equipped with the usual massage beds, sink, and wax and lotion products. There is a resting room with complimentary orange juice, tea, and water located behind the reception area where everybody has to wait for their spa treatments.

Massages & Treatments

Freedom of the Seas' spa offers a wide range of massages, from aroma stone to reflexology to couple's massages for $119 to $269. Other treatments include acupuncture, a variety of facials (e.g. Collagen or Hydralift), and body tune-up therapies, like cellulite reductions, cheek lifts, and teeth whitening. Men can get special treatments too, such as an express shave, grooming, facials and beard trims. Prices range from $95 to $265.

Hair Salon

At Freedom's hair salon you can get a phyto hair treatment for ultra dry hair, or color guard for $29 to $49. Of course, you can also get a hair cut or style and/or color or highlights priced from $39 to $109. Men's cuts are $35. The hair salon also offers manicures from $45, nail fixings for $15, and waxing (from brow to bikini) for $19 to $75 for hairy backs.

Fitness Center

Fitness Center

Freedom of the Seas has a fully-equipped fitness center with weight machines, free weights, stationary spin bikes, stair steppers, treadmills, sauna, steam room, thermal suites, and a full-size boxing ring. They also offer classes, ranging from Pilates and Yoga to spinning and kickboxing. Boot camps, spinning, Pilates, and Yoga require an extra fee, while other classes, such as the Fab Abs or stretching classes, are complimentary.

Outside is a jogging track with both a runner and a walker side that goes around the entire ship. The jogging track is also a great spot to watch the sun rise.

FlowRider

FlowRider is a 40-foot-long wave simulator on the Freedom of the Seas. Anybody can try it, but there is a height restriction for those who want to try surfing (shorter riders must use a boogie board instead). The area is surrounded by stadium seating and at the Wipeout you can get something to drink before trying to surf, or you can just sit and watch others. Royal Caribbean also offers one-on-one lessons for beginners, but there is a minimum of eight guests required for this service.

Rock Climbing

All Royal Caribbean ships have rock climbing walls, and the Freedom of the Seas is no exception. The wall has different levels of climbing routes, some for beginners and others for more experienced climbers. The equipment (shoes, helmet, harness) is provided by Royal Caribbean, and all you need to bring is your own socks. Minors have to be accompanied by an adult, and the minimum age to climb the rock wall is six. As with the FlowRider, Royal Caribbean also offers one-on-one instructions for rock climbing beginners. Climbing competition events take place on the ship as well.

Mini Golf

On deck 13, just a behind the sports court, is the mini golf course. The course isn’t very big, but it can be fun to play a few holes—just make sure not to drive the ball overboard. All the equipment is provided at the course and there are no fees for playing.

Scuba Diving

Freedom of the Seas has a PADI dive instructor at Sea Trek (deck 11), and offers courses on diving (pool dives, knowledge development, and two real ocean dives). With this short course you get the PADI scuba diver certification, which allows access to some beginner level dives around the world. Additionally, Sea Trek offers scuba and dive gear. The minimum age for participants is 12 years, and the class costs $249 per person. Royal also offers an extension course with two or four open water dives ($175 and $225), a Scuba tune up for $49 per person, and a pool dive for $29.95 per person.

Sports Court - Studio B

Freedom of the Seas has a full-size basketball court with small goals for soccer too. Equipment, like basketballs and soccer balls, is available on the sports deck.

Retail

There are seven retail shops all located on the Royal Promenade.


General Store - Britto

The general store sells duty free liquor and cigarettes, as well as travel items you may have forgotten to pack (like hair brushes, aspirin, tooth paste etc.). Britto also sells luggage (made by Heys), paintings, and decorations. Everything is fairly expensive—the smallest bag starts at $250—despite the fact that it's all tax and duty free.

Get Out There

Get out There has sportswear, bikinis, bathing suites, and flip flops. You won't find anything under $30 bucks here.

Gifts and Jewelry

At Gifts and Jewelry, Freedom of the Seas not only carries jewelry, but also perfumes. Watches and jewelry start at roughly $50, while perfume and cosmetics start at $30 for a makeup sets and about $60 for designer perfumes.

Logo is a gift shop with Royal Caribbean gifts and clothes. Here, you can purchase a model of the Freedom of the Seas ship, as well as key chains, t-shirts, chocolate, and toys. Since Freedom of the Seas is working with Dreamworks, this store also has stuffed Shrek and Donkey dolls available.

Designer Shop

The Designer Shop offers some designer clothes, accessories, and jewelry.

All pictures taken by the photographer of the Freedom of the Seas can be purchased at the Photo Gallery, located on deck four. For about $30 you can buy a disc with all the pictures taken by the professional photographers. They also offer a package for $110, including four photographs, a leatherette photo frame, a ship's photograph, a cruise review DVD, and a map of the Caribbean. The cruise review DVD is also available individually for $29.95. Large format prints can be purchased here, in luster paper or canvas, starting with an 11x14 luster paper photograph for $39.95 and going to a 24x30 canvas for $214.95. You can expect to pay roughly double for pictures on canvas compared to photos on luster paper.

Movie Theater

Movies in 3D, big arcade, and cooking classes abound.


Freedom of the Seas has three places that show movies: the Arcadia Theater has a huge 3D screen, the ship has a small showroom on deck two, and there's an 18.5-foot high LED screen by the main pool. Since Royal Caribbean is working with Dreamworks, many of the features are cartoons like Shrek, Madagascar, or How to Train My Dragon.

Arcade

Right in the middle of all the kids areas on deck 12 is the arcade. It is huge, has tons of games, and is always packed on sea days. Some of the games cost money and will be charged to your account if you play them, but most are free.

Gaming

Freedom of the Seas organizes game shows, trivia, and bridge games. There are always prizes involved, even if it's something as small as a key chain.

Lectures & Classes

Royal Caribbean offers Chefmaker's cooking academy on Freedom of the Seas. These classes are great for anyone who loves cooking and wants to learn new techniques, as well as for those who simply need to learn the basics about making food. All classes are fairly small and intimate, so everyone can have one-on-one time with the chefs and instructors. Class topics range from learning to make the perfect risotto, to Chinese take-out cooking, to preparing full menus, to knife skills. Space is limited and reservations are mandatory.

Prices start at $40 for a one hour cooking class and go up to $110 for a two and a half hour class. Freedom of the Seas has class packages where you can buy two or three classes at a discount as well. Teenagers 14 years old and up are welcome to participate on certain classes, and certain classes are available to couples. All adult classes include wine, and the wine and dine classes include a champagne toast.

Nightlife & Shows

There’s plenty of fun nighttime activities on Freedom of the Seas.


Whether you want to have a few drinks in a nice and quiet environment, sing along to some classic rock songs, participate in trivia games, or go dancing, Freedom of the Seas has something for everyone at night. At one end of the Royal Promenade is the Pharaoh's Palace, further along are the Bear & Bull pub, a wine bar called Vintages, and the Champagne Bar. One deck below is Schooner's, Boleros, On Air, and Freedom's only club, the Crypt. Since activities can change from voyage to voyage, you should definitely check the Cruise Compass (which is delivered to each room daily) for specific information.

Overview

An English pub in the middle of the rush on the Royal Promenade.


The Bear & Bull Pub is your typical English pub, with dark wood panels and furniture. For decoration it has a fake book shelf and a variety of fake skulls ranging from the first Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens. Two high benches are located inside the pub and there are some tables scattered outside as well (great for people watching on the Royal Promenade). The pub is a fun place to grab a beer, and more often than not you'll find the Bear & Bull packed with beer aficionados.

Drinks

As one might expect given its the ship's pub, the Bear & Bull has the largest beer selection on the ship. The bar offers international beers from England, Germany, and the USA, just to name a few. For those who want a more Irish feel, the bar even carries Guinness. All beers cost between $4 and $6 dollars.

Activities

Bear & Bull opens in the late afternoon and stays open late into the night. At night, a live musician plays classic rock music for you to sing along with—or just listen to and enjoy.

Overview

An elegant and quiet jazz bar located on deck 12.


Olive & Twist is a sophisticated and elegant bar located on deck 12, overlooking the pool area. The crowd that comes here tends to be rather quiet, but the place does get full—especially when a band is playing—and most guests tend to come here to dance. Olive & Twist is decorated in bright red and orange tones, and the bar is in the middle of the room (opposite the stage).

Drinks

Olive & Twist offers mostly mixed drinks, including margaritas and martinis. They do offer beer and hard liquor as well, but the choices are limited.

Activities

There is a stage and a dance floor, and the bar features live music for dancing almost every night.

Overview

Pharaoh’s Palace hosts a variety of games, trivia, dance classes, etc.


Pharaoh's Palace is big bar at the end of the Promenade. It is completely cut off from the rest of the venues in the area, and the doors can be fully closed, making it is a good place to host private functions. Dark blue and beige chairs scatter the room, while a stage and dance floor occupy one end. Of course, being called Pharaoh's Palace, it shouldn't come as a surprise that fake Egyptian decor are located throughout the bar.

Drinks

Pharaoh's Palace offers every single drink you can get on board the Freedom of the Seas. Even if they have to go and get it from another bar, the waiters at Pharaoh's Palace will make that journey for you.

Activities

Pharaoh's Palace is the place to be if you want to participate in games, trivia, dance classes, or Bingo.

Overview

A nautical-themed bar that looks like an old ship.


The Schooner is a nautical-themed bar that is covered in hanging ropes, pictures of schooners, and models of tiny boats inside bottles. Light beige leather chairs, like the ones you might find on the driver's side of a schooner, are arranged around glass tables. The middle of the room features a piano, and the end of the bar looks like the bow of a ship. Already being on a cruise ship, you'd think there would be no need for another ship feel, however the Schooner is a very pleasant bar with some fun activities.

Drinks

At the Schooner you can get frozen or mixed drinks, beers and liquor—and soft drinks as well. The beer and wine selection is limited, but there are plenty of choices for mixed cocktails. The menu here is the same as what you'd find at Olive & Twist.

Activities

In the evening, the Schooner bar offers live piano music. Earlier in the day the bar hosts trivia and the occasional game of bridge.

Overview

Boleros is a Latin bar with lots of salsa and classical music.


Boleros is a Latin bar located on deck four, just beneath the Champagne Bar. The bar area is located in the middle of the room and is surrounded by beige armchairs and large portholes looking into the promenade deck. Boleros also has a stage and dance floor.

Drinks

Boleros mainly features Latin American inspired drinks, like caipirinhas and mojitos, as well as hard liquor such as tequila and rum. However, the menu here is the same as the rest of the bars on the ship (like Olive & Twist). Boleros also has a few frozen and mixed drinks too, as well as beer. Prices for drinks start at $6.

Activities

Boleros often features a live band playing salsa music and other Latin American tunes. At other times, a different band plays classical music.

Overview

The Crypt is Freedom of the Seas’ only dance club.


The Crypt's decor is true to its name: the area features spiked window frames, paintings of fantasy warriors, pictures of people from the dark ages, and gargoyle statues. The bar stools are pointed, the railings look like a part of an ancient church, and even the lights look like torches. Along the walls are armchairs and small glass tables.

The club is two levels high and the dance floor is on the lower level so people upstairs can watch the action below. both bars, upstairs and downstairs, are made of chrome and milky glass with lights. The Crypt opens around 8pm for teen and kid's parties, but it is open for adults only later in the evening.

Drinks

As with most of the bars and lounges on the ship, you can get any mixed drink you want at the Crypt—as long as the bar tender knows how to make it.

Activities

The Crypt hosts family club nights, teen discos, and some quality DJs later in the night.

Overview

Vintages is a wine bar that offers tastings and a variety of wines.


Vintages is located on the Royal Promenade, and, as the name implies, is a full-fledged wine bar. Several tastings and classes are held here during the voyage (including martini tastings in addition to wine). Royal does charge for all tastings, and the prices start around $20. Vintages has a few tables outside (like all the bars on the Royal Promenade), so you can people-watch, check out small shows, or listen to live music while you drink.

Drinks

Vintages has a range of wines from the old and the new world, as well as sampling menus. If you don't like wine, the bar also offers mixed drinks and beer.

Activities

Vintages offers wine and martini tastings, with prices starting at $20 (and going up, depending on what the tasting involves).

Overview

Come here for karaoke, sports, and video games.


On Air is Freedom's karaoke and sports bar. Right from the rounded entrance is Freedom of the Seas' broadcasting station, RCTV. The bar itself is round, as is the DJ stand, and the room is filled with small round tables and uncomfortable chairs. One tiny room where you can actually record your karaoke performance and broadcast it on the ship's TV channel is also located here. On certain days, a Wii video game console is turned on and you can play bowling or tennis with friends. On Air is also Freedom of the Seas' sports bar, so all important games (including European sports) will be broadcast here. On Air is located on deck three, just in front of Studio B.

Drinks

On Air serves all the same drinks as the other bars on Freedom of the Seas. Beers, wine, mixed and frozen drinks are available, as well as soda and water.

Activities

On Air has trivia games, karaoke, some Wii games, and shows sports events on TV.

Venue Overview

The Champagne Bar attracts a quieter, more elegant crowds.


The Champagne bar, on deck five, is right next to the guest services area. It tends to have a more distinguished and quieter crowd than the other bars on the ship. It also features live piano music nearly every night. The bar can get rather busy before dinner, as many people tend to get drinks here before going to the main dining room.

Drinks

The Champagne Bar offers, as one would expect from the name, mostly champagne and sparkling wines. They have one liter bottles as well as larger magnum bottles on stock—but you'll need deep pockets to spring for these.

Activities

Since the Champagne Bar is by the Royal Promenade, it is a little too loud for it to be a live music venue.

Overview

Studio B is home to an ice rink where shows are performed regularly.


Studio B is an ice rink that can also turn into a dance floor. At times the area is open for free skating or dancing, while other times there are ice shows taking place here.

Drinks

At Studio B you can get beer, mixed drinks, sodas, and liqueur.

Activities

There is not much more to do than ice skating and watching shows in Studio B.

Overview

The pool bar is on deck 11, right by the main pool.


The Pool Bar is a very small bar and has a few bar stools, but no chairs or tables. There's no need for tables, however, as most people just grab drinks and head back to their sun lounges. If you're too lazy to get up, there's a waiter who roams around the lounge area and will take your order.

Drinks

Frozen drinks and beers are the most popular items at the Pool Bar. You can also buy a bucket of beer, where you get six beers for the price of five (about $35).

Activities

As the pool stage is right in front of the Pool Bar, you can watch a lot of things here. Competitions (like the hairy-chest contest) and dances take place at this stage.

Overview

Sky Bar is the only bar that allows smoking near the pool.


Being the only smoker's bar near any pool or sun deck, the Sky Bar is one of the favorite meeting places for smokers. It is located above the main pool area, so you can see all the sights and sounds that take place on the pool stage. The bar area has one bench and a few stools, but that's about it.

Drinks

The Sky bar offers the same drinks as the Pool bar.

Activities

From the Sky Bar you can watch all the same competitions and events that you can see from the Pool Bar, since both face the stage.

Overview

A small bar for the adults-only pool area.


The Solarium bar is in the adults-only pool area and it is similar to the other pool bars. There is little in the way of furniture, aside from a few bar stools, and the bar is slightly larger than the main Pool Bar.

Drinks

Like the other pool bars, frozen drinks and beer are popular items at the Solarium Bar.

Overview

A huge casino with hundreds of slot machines and table games.


Casino Royale is located on deck four, between the photo gallery and the Schooner Bar. The casino floor includes hundreds of slot machines, a few roulette and craps tables, as well as card games like Texas hold 'em and blackjack. The theme of the casino seems to be a circus, which is a little weird, but nobody really pays attention to decor in a casino anyways.

Next to the bar are stairs leading up to the Royal Promenade. At the casino you can either pay cash or use your Sea Pass card to play games. If you pay your account with cash, you have a $100 limit in how much you can spend, while playing with the Sea Pass card allows you to spend up to $2,000.

Slot Machines

There are hundreds of slot machines in the casino, staring with nickle slots and going up to dollar machines. A Royal Slot Tournament takes place on the ship, which is actually a qualifying tournament for a grand finale slot tournament later in the year. If you want to participate, you must pay a $25 entry fee. Rounds consist of five minute plays, with the highest score winning each round. The winner gets a free room for two on the ship when the final tournament takes place (plus a paid entry into the tournament). Second and third places get cash prizes.

Card Games

The casino has several card games, including Texas hold 'em, different kinds of poker, and blackjack. Tournaments take place for all three card games, with entry fees starting at $20. Just like slots, the winner of the tournaments get invited back for a final tournament later in the year (and a free room on the ship).

Tables

Freedom of the Seas has two roulette wheels and two craps tables. It might not seem like much, but it can be fun to watch people gamble their money here for a while.

Other Casino Games

The Freedom of the Seas, like every ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet, has a jackpot lotto.

Casino Food & Drinks

Unless you go upstairs and grab a slice of pizza or a sandwich at Sorrento's, you will not be able to get any food in the casino. The bar, however, has all the drinks you need—from beers to hard liquor to coffee.

Casino Rewards Program

Every day, Freedom of the Seas has promotional events at the Casino. The more points you earn with your gaming, the better your rewards get. For example, at 200 points you get a free baseball cap, and at 2,500 points, you get an evening at Chop's Grille.

Shows & Performances

Freedom of the Seas has two theaters including the ice rink.


"Welcome Aboard" and other shows with the cruise director take place in the Arcadia Theater. Freedom of the Seas also has its own productions, including Las Vegas-style shows, musicals, and comedies. The Arcadia Theater is also Freedom of the Seas' 3D movie theater where Royal Caribbean primarily shows Dreamworks movies. All shows are complimentary, but it is recommended to get seat reservation for the productions.

Like a handful of other Royal Caribbean ships, Freedom of the Seas has its own ice rink, Studio B, that is home to regular ice shows put on by a talented troupe of professional skaters. The show incorporates lights and video screens in addition to the ice dancing.

Parades

Several times during the voyage, Royal Caribbean organizes a parade of Dreamworks animated movie characters like Shrek, Fiona, Donkey, and others. You can either get a professional photographer to take a picture, or take one with your own camera.

Services & Staff

Helpful and kind staff were found throughout the ship.


Freedom of the Seas' crew is very helpful and friendly. Waiters in the main dining room remembered our food preferences and tried to accommodate accordingly. The stewards can be almost invisible if you want them to be, but it'' also no problem to ask favors from them (and they will try to get it done ASAP). If you have a favorite venue, it's likely you'll become friendly with the staff in that area by the end of the voyage. Still, Royal Caribbean's claim that "everybody will know your name" is a bit of an exaggeration.

Staff

Overall, the staff of the Freedom of the Seas was very friendly and anticipated our needs. That said, we found the service at restaurants to be slow at times, though Royal Caribbean claims things can take a bit longer because everything is cooked to order. Also, our room steward was a bit sloppy and didn't remove food from our room for a couple of days (we had to place it in front of the door as a hint when it started getting moldy). In addition, the room wasn't always as clean as we would have liked it to be.

Tipping

You can either pre-pay gratuities before you go on the cruise, or tip during the voyage using envelopes provided by Royal Caribbean suggests you tip the following amounts on a per person, per day basis: Waiter, $3.75; assistant waiter, $2.15; head waiter, $.75; cabin attendant/other housekeeping services, $5.00. Passengers staying in suites are encouraged to tip their cabin stewards a higher $7.25. Envelopes to make the tips are delivered to your room on the last day of the cruise.

Dress Codes

Freedom of the Seas has two formal events in the main dining rooms. One is called Captain's Night, but doesn't actually involve the captain of the ship. These two nights are the only times a formal dress code is required, and for other nights the main dining area has a smart casual dress code (no shorts or flip flops). At the buffet, however, you don't have to dress up at all—you can even show up in your bathing suit if you want.

Loyalty Programs

After going on one cruise with Royal Caribbean, you can sign into the Crown & Anchor Society loyalty program. Upon enrolling, you get coupons for free drinks, discounts at the spa, and discounts in the stores. There are three different levels for the program: gold, platinum, and diamond.

General Safety

On embarkation day, the crew performs a mandatory drill with all passengers where you learn where to go in case of an emergency. There are several life boats on deck four, which is also the location for all the emergency meeting points. All rooms contain life vests, and vests are found in every venue as well. During the week, the crew performs another emergency drill, but passengers don't have to participate.

Clinics

The medical facility is open from 8 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 7 pm. The reception area is open all day, and a drug vending machine is also located here.

Smoking Regulations

Royal Caribbean allows smoking only in designated areas, most of which are are on open decks (and all on the starboard side of the ship). Smoking is also allowed in the cigar lounge, upstairs in The Crypt, and in the Freedom of the Seas club.

Overview

Operated by the same line, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and Allure of the Seas have a lot in common, including many of the same restaurants and bars (you'll find everything from Royal Caribbean's trademark Guinness-serving pub and Chops Grille steakhouse to Boleros Latin lounge on both). But in addition to being newer by several years, Allure of the Seas is a whole lot bigger than Freedom of the Seas and offers quite a few new and unusual things not found on the smaller vessel, from a Brazilian churrascaria eatery to a zip line across the top deck. If it's the biggest, boldest mega-ship you're after, with all the latest bells and whistles, Allure of the Seas is no doubt the better choice. That said, you'll pay a significant premium to sail on Allure of the Seas, as it remains in high demand.

Overview

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas and Carnival Cruise Lines' Carnival Magic both are big, bold vessels with lots of deck-top amenities and extensive children's programs that make them wonderful choices for families. The Carnival Magic is a newer vessel in a world where newness means a lot, but Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is only a few years older and has just undergone a massive overhaul in dry dock that brought a lot of upgrades. Perhaps the biggest different between the two ships is the type of passenger you'll find on board. Living up to its "Fun Ship" line marketing, Carnival draws a spirited, fun-loving crowd that likes to let loose – the type of people who enjoy getting called up on stage during a comedy act to taking part in the show, and those who find nothing more fun than a night singing karaoke in a lounge. Royal Caribbean, by contrast, draws a slightly less rambunctious crowd, though it's still an active audience and it is by no means a dull ship.

Overview

At roughly 154,000 tons, Freedom of the Seas is significantly larger than the 92,500-ton Norwegian Dawn, and it's also several years younger in age. If it's a big, bold mega-resort type experience you're after on one of the newest, most amenity-filled vessels, Freedom of the Seas is going to be the better bet. If you're looking for a vessel that's a little more intimate (without being small), then you'll want to take a closer look at the Norwegian Dawn. One big difference between the two ships is Norwegian's focus on a "freestyle" concept of dining where passengers have no assigned time and location to eat. Like all Norwegian ships, the Dawn has an unusually large number of restaurants on board and passengers eat when, where and with whom they like. On Freedom of the Seas, you'll be assigned to a main dining room (either for a fixed seating or you can sign up for more flexible My Time dining). That said, Freedom also offers a number of alternative eateries that, assuming you book one every night, could allow for a more "freestyle" type experience.

Conclusion

Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is a large, lively ship that will appeal to families, in particular, as well as couples who like a mega-resort experience. While not as big as Royal Caribbean's two newest vessels, Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, it offers an unusually wide range of on-board entertainment, nightlife and deck-top activities including such rarities as a surfing simulator (found on just four other cruise ships).

Freedom is one of just a handful of vessels with a nursery for children under the age of two years old, which makes it one of the best choices for families with toddlers. Families with younger children also will enjoy the ship's many DreamWorks movie-themed shows and activities, which feature characters from Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. The "DreamWorks Experience," as Royal Caribbean is calling it, was added to the ship in 2011 in an overhaul that also brought the nursery and several other new family-friendly offerings not found on most Royal Caribbean ships.

We found the meals in Freedom's extra-charge specialty restaurants (such as the Chops Grille steakhouse and Italian eatery Portofino) to be top notch. Less gourmet is the cuisine in the ship's main dining rooms, although we found it perfectly adequate. We were less impressed with the service on the ship, which we found inconsistent. Perhaps most disturbingly, our room was left uncleaned on several days.

Still, overall, we give Freedom of the Seas high marks. If you're looking for an amenity-packed big ship, it's a good choice.

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