My family and I recently returned from a week long cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas! This was my second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and my 5th cruise overall. I really enjoy cruising. It’s such a great way to see many places on one trip and you can’t beat the views from the middle of the ocean! I’ll share with you the ups and downs of cruising and will take you on a tour of this beautiful ship!
Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Review
Cruising is definitely a unique type of vacation. Maybe you want to lay on the beach all day or maybe you would like to explore a city. Perhaps you want to catch dinner and a show, or try ice skating or rock climbing. You can do ALL of those things – or none of them – on a cruise. Cruising lets you visit multiple locations without changing your hotel room and lets you be as involved or anti social as you want. There really is something for everyone.
Freedom of the Seas is a huge ship although it’s not among Royal Caribbean’s biggest. It offers everything you would expect on a cruise ship and more. There are multiple bars and lounges, tons of restaurants, a promenade featuring shops and snacks, a theater, ice skating rink, rocking climbing wall, flow rider, pools, gym and more! It’s almost impossible to check out everything the ship has to offer on just one cruise. It can, indeed, be a bit overwhelming at first.
First Time Cruisers Tip: After you board your ship for the first time, take some time getting to know your way around and you will soon feel at home.
We booked a balcony room and it was great! I was traveling with family, so we reserved 3 rooms next door to each other. Each balcony had a sliding door that we were able to open so we could all be out there together. It was a great set up that allowed our daughter to freely visit her grandparents and aunt. Each large balcony had a table and 2 chairs.
The room was very spacious (for a cruise ship room) and had a king sized bed plus love seat. The bathroom, while small, had the largest shower I have ever seen for a non-suite cruise stateroom. Keep in mind the shower was still tiny, but it was the best I have ever had on a cruise!
First Time Cruisers Tip:
Bring a hanging toiletry kit! There is very little counter space in the bathroom and a hanging bag gives you easy access to your bathroom essentials without taking up space.
Some rooms on the ship have a drop down bed to accommodate a third person. I was a little freaked out by how it worked at first, but it seemed just fine (according to my sister in law). We turned our loveseat around to create a fun little sleeping space for our 3 1/2 year old and she loved it.
I have mixed reviews on the food. I had everything from bad to “best ever” and everything in between. With that said, I thought the food overall was pretty good and the few “bad eggs” I had wouldn’t deter me from booking another cruise. There was always food available so you won’t go hungry!
The buffet, main dining room, and Sorrento’s Pizza are all included. The room service food is included but there is a $7.95 fee per order. Additional restaurants and snacks are available for an extra charge. There is plenty included, so you won’t ever need to pay for additional food unless you want something specific.
Main Dining Rooms
There are 3 large main dining rooms that offer breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. I had some great food here but also some pretty average fare. Each evening they have a different menu to choose from as well as some standard items that are offered daily. If you haven’t read anything about cruising in 20 years, the days of sitting with a bunch of strangers are over (unless you are into that sort of thing). We chose “My Time” dining where we could dine anytime during dinner hours (although reservations are recommended). Traditional seating is still available if you choose it, with early and late seating options. Breakfast and lunch are also served in the main dining rooms without reservations. Both breakfast and lunch included buffet items as well as an a la carte menu.
There were a number of specialty restaurants on board that you could pay to eat at. I’m of the opinion that I will just eat at the restaurant that’s free, but to each his own! My mom happened to have a complimentary meal at a specialty restaurant, so I did get to try one out. We at at Sabor, the Mexican restaurant. The meal ranged from good to amazing (the guacamole and tortilla soup were outstanding), but honestly I don’t think it was special enough to pay extra for it. There is also Cupcake Cupboard, Izumi Sushi To Go, Johnny Rockets and Ben & Jerry’s.
So. Many. Things. To. Do! If you have a severe case of FOMO, this could be anxiety inducing!
Each evening you will receive a cruise planner with all of the next day’s activities listed. There are exactly 27,302 activities offered each day (I might be exaggerating a touch). Fitness classes, trivia, bingo, wine tasting, movies, dancing, singles get togethers, live music, theater shows, art auctions (my favorite), games….I personally find it all a tad exhausting, so I stick to what I know I like – the art auctions! In addition to planned activities, you can choose to relax by the pool or sit in a deck chair and read. You can choose to do as little or as much as you want.
This ship had 3 sections of pools – the main pool, the adult pool and the kids pool. If you have never cruised before, keep in mind, pools on cruise ships get crowded. If you are looking to lay quietly by the pool all day every day, look elsewhere for your vacation.
The kid’s pool on this ship was excellent. It included a large splash area and shallow water that was perfect for non swimmers. There were 2 hot tubs in the kids area that had warm, but not hot water, so they were suitable for little ones. There was also a small wading area for babies and toddlers who aren’t potty trained yet. Swim diapers are not allowed in the main kid’s pool, and I did see them enforce this rule. The main pool was a typical cruise ship pool – loud and crowded. Not really my speed. The adults only pool is quieter but can still get crowded.
First Time Cruisers Tip: If you are looking for a relaxing pool day without the crowds, stay on the ship while it’s at port. Most of the passengers will get off the ship leaving the pools uncrowded!
Free babysitting. ‘Nuff said.
Ok, but seriously, I loved the kids club on board. Each class is separated by age – Babies and Tots, 3-5 (must be fully potty trained), 6-8 and 9-11. They had sessions from morning till late night each day of the cruise. All but the late night session (10pm – 2am) is included in the price of the cruise! They even offer “Adventure Dining” (aka free babysitting during dinner so you can eat in peace!). Not only did it give us a nice break and some adult time, but my daughter really enjoyed it too. There were also activities throughout the day geared towards teens.
Ports of Call
Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas cruises in the Caribbean and Europe. We were on an 8 night Eastern Caribbean cruise that ended up being a Western Caribbean cruise. A couple of the islands we were scheduled to go to were damaged by the hurricanes so we had some schedule changes. We ended up visiting Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Jamaica and Haiti (on Royal Caribbean’s private beach). Our original itinerary was St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts and Haiti. Even though I had already been to 3 out of the 4 islands we went to, I still found new things to do.
At each port of call, Royal Caribbean offers multiple excursions that you can try (all have an extra fee). You are also welcome to get off of the ship on your own to explore. Often you can save money by booking excursions directly through the provider and not through Royal Caribbean. However, it’s easier to book through the cruise line, and you don’t risk getting left behind if your tour runs long. Either way, there’s always lots to do at the ports of call. On this cruise, we swam with stingrays in Grand Cayman, did some scuba diving in Cozumel, explored on our own in Jamaica and enjoyed a beach day in Haiti.
A Vacation For The Whole Family
I love cruising with family. It’s a great way to get a whole group together since there are activities for all ages. Even if everyone separates during the day, it’s nice to meet in the evening for a nice dinner and not have to worry about who is paying the bill.
Have you gone on a family cruise vacation before? What has been your favorite ship or cruise line? Share your experience in the comments below. Happy Cruising!