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