Choosing a cruise ship is almost as important as selecting a great cruise itinerary. There are lots of great cruise lines and lots of great ships. Cruising a great way to see many places on one trip, and you can’t beat the views from the middle of the ocean!
This post will take you on a tour of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas! This was my second time cruising with Royal Caribbean and my 5th cruise overall.
**Due to COVID-19, all Royal Caribbean sailings have been canceled through November 30, 2020. Select sailings in 2021 have also been canceled.
Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Review
Cruising is 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 large 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.
The Newly Amplified Freedom of the Seas Cruise Ship
Freedom of the Seas has been recently renovated. Some of the new features include:
- The Perfect Storm: A twisting, turning waterslide duo
- Updated pool area
- New deckside dining
- New bars
- Adventure Ocean Youth Club
- Teen Spaces
- Laser Tag
- Splashaway Bay kids water park
First Time Cruiser 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.
Freedom of the Seas Staterooms
We booked a balcony room and it was great! If you’re traveling with family, you can reserve rooms next door to each other that connect. There’s a sliding door between balconies that opens up so you can easily travel between rooms. Each large balcony has a table and 2 chairs.
The room was very spacious (for a cruise ship room) and had a king-sized bed plus a 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 Cruiser Tip: Bring a hanging toiletry kit! There is very little counter space in a cruise ship bathroom. 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. If you’re traveling with 1 small child, you can turn the loveseat around to create a fun little sleeping space. It worked great for our 3 1/2-year-old.
Dining on Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
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’s always food available so you won’t go hungry!
Dining locations included in your cruise fare:
- Windjammer buffet
- Cafe Promenade
- Sorrento’s Pizza
- Main dining room
- El Loco Fresh
Dining locations with additional charges:
- Chef’s Table (formal)
- Johnny Rockets
- Chop’s Grille
- In-room dining
- Izumi Hibachi and Sushi
- Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen
Alcoholic drinks and even some non-alcoholic drinks like soda come with an additional charge. You can purchase a beverage package ahead of time, but unless you plan on sitting on the ship pounding drinks every day, they usually aren’t worth the price.
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.
First Time Cruiser Tip: It can get windy on a cruise ship deck. Leave your big, floppy hats at home and instead opt for a cruise friendly hat like this one.
Activities Aboard Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
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.
>>Not sure what to pack? Use this family beach vacation packing list printable for some guidance.
Pools on Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas
This ship had 3 sections of pools – the main pool, the adult pool, and the kid’s 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 kid’s 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.
Freedom of the Sea’s recent renovation added waterslides to the pool area — Typhoon and Cyclone. Minimum height is 48″ to ride the waterslides.
First Time Cruiser Tip: If you are looking for a relaxing pool day without the crowds, stay on the ship while it’s in port. Most of the passengers will get off the ship leaving the pools uncrowded!
Adventure Ocean Kids Club
Free babysitting. ‘Nuff said.
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Ocean is the onboard kids club designed for babies kids from 6 months to 12 years old. Adventure Ocean is included in your cruise fare except for babies (6-36 months) and the late-night session.
Older kids will enjoy the teen spaces designed for 13-17 year olds. The teen lounge includes things like games, movies, music, and an outdoor patio.
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 hurricanes so we had some schedule changes.
We ended up visiting Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Jamaica, and Haiti (the location of 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.
You will save money by booking excursions directly through the provider and not through Royal Caribbean. However, it can be 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.
First Time Cruiser Tip: Check to see if your cruise is going to a destination that has a sunscreen ban. If so, you will want to be sure to pack some reef-safe sunscreen, so you don’t have to purchase it at an overpriced gift shop.
A Vacation For The Whole Family
I love cruising with my 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.
I think one of the keys to a successful cruise is to choose your cruise line wisely. Each cruise line can offer different experiences.
I’ve cruised on Royal Caribbean, Princess, and Norwegian so far. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are pretty comparable, and I would put Princess a slight notch above both of them. However, there are lots of other cruise lines to choose from including Carnival, National Geographic, Viking, MSC, Holland America, Celebrity, and Costa.
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!
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Wow I am really nervous now! We booked our family holiday cruise n freedom of the seas for Xmas week. We booked Jr suites this vacation is costing us over 10,000.00 with airfare. I do not want to waste all this money for crappy food and filthy ship! Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Don’t worry, I’m sure you will still have an awesome vacation! I think having a Jr. suite will be really nice. People’s tastes are different so maybe you will love the food (while it wasn’t the best cruise food I had I still really liked some of it). And the cleanliness of a ship can vary a lot — I didn’t have any issues with it. Those people that commented that the ship was dirty maybe just caught it on a bad week. That sort of stuff isn’t constant so I wouldn’t worry about it.
I hope you have a great vacation!
Please come back and let us know how it went.
We just returned from a cruise on Freedom of the Seas and although not the best ship we,be been on, we still enjoyed it. This was our 5th cruise and the first with Royal Caribbean. Yes the ship is in need of an overhaul and I believe it’s scheduled for the end of the year. The food was average, but I no complaints on the service at all.
A vacation is what you make of it, so go have fun and enjoy it.
Kristina, DONT worry we always travel with RCC and have been in their ships 20+ times. They always keep the ships very clean. They are very careful and will be sure everything is under control, otherwise, they will cancel. We had a back-to-back this October cruise (more than 4 weeks). They canceled and we were able to cancel airline tickets etc etc etc.
Hope you will be safe! I know this is frustrating. Take care.
We have been on 10+ Royal cruises and a variety of their ships and always enjoyed our cruises. Each ship has it’s pros and cons. Bigger ships tend to have higher quality show productions and smaller ships have availability to more ports. We choose our cruises for the port destinations. Some ports are better than others. So over the course of the cruise, you will have favorite ports, meals, activities etc just like any other vacation. We find that Royal is very nice without being stuffy. Their Celebrity line is a notch above Royal, and you pay extra for it. One recommendation I would add is to choose a line you think you would like and try to stick with it so that you can build up loyalty perks.
Thanks for your comment – you definitely make some good points! I agree that the smaller ships tend to have better itineraries. The loyalty perks are also nice if you can stick with one cruise line. I’ve done most of my cruises with Princess and have the most loyalty built up with them, but then I wanted to try out a few other brands to see what else was out there. So far I’ve done RC and Norwegian. I would love to try Celebrity too someday.
I love Royal Caribbean. Haven’t been on Freedom lately. Just was so Navigator and it has been upgraded. Very nice. I feel if you had one bad experience you can give another ship a chance. If you have a bad experience with your bank teller or department store you won’t automatically stop using their services. I’ve had bad customer service and good customer service on Royal Caribbean. The good out weighs the bad. I do feel they need to upgrade their food
Thanks for your comment. I agree — in my experience the good has outweighed the bad. RC isn’t perfect but overall I have been happy with them. I’m trying out Norwegian soon so I’m looking forward to comparing them.
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Hi Katie: My husband and I are preparing for our first cruise together to celebrate our 4th wedding Anniversary. I’m now full of anxiety as I read the last two comments about Freedom of the Seas. I’m really hoping that we have a great experience. I’ve been researching the ship and this is honestly the first really negative comments I’ve encountered. I’ll be sure to report back about our experience. We are leaving next week, May 26th out of San Juan. Thank you for your blog.
Congratulations on your anniversary! The one thing I will say about negative reviews is that you can find them about EVERYTHING!! Even the fanciest resorts will have negative reviews. Maybe it didn’t live up to expectations, or maybe the reviewer is the type of person who is always looking for something negative. Or maybe, like the previous comments, someone did have a legitimately bad experience. That doesn’t mean you will have a bad experience.
So, go into it with open eyes and enjoy every moment of your trip. (Please come back and let us know what you thought of the ship too!)
Jeff is right on point. Ship is a dump. I just got back from the 4/14-4/21 cruise out of San Juan. It was my 7th cruise with Royal and my last. Ship is an absolute disgrace. Service was deplorable and food was welfare grade crap. Outside of our waiters (Rudolph and Sigit) and out stateroom attendant (Lemus) the staff were cold, unprofessional and outright ignorant. If you weren’t of Latin decent they didn’t want to waste their time on you and made it quite obvious. Out room (8546) not only had mold but terrible influx of ants. When brought to the attention of staff all I got was “yeah, we’re aware of that”. Food was way below the expected standards. Windjammer food was disgusting. Of course it didn’t help that staff wouldn’t control all the people handling the food with their barehands. This is in direct correlation of ignorant parents showing their children ignorant acts. I had all I could do to maintain my composure with the rude and disrespectful treatment my wife received not only from other non-English speaking guests but from the Royal staff. Previous reviewers were more gracious than I’ll be with the ratings of “specialty” restaurants. Chops was well below expectation and Sabor was outright disgusting. The pools and hot tubs were so crowded we never were able to get into either. The excursions were just as bad as the rest of the cruise. I would recommend to anyone to utilize the website [Resort for a Day]. We went to the Santa Barbara Resort in Curacao and the Roy while in Aruba. The cost was a little more than $200 a couple. Before you cringe take the following into consideration.
1- Most excursions are $65+ per person
2- 1 drink is include
3- usually a terrible pre-selected lunch is the fare
4- Outside of a beach chair you get nothing else
On resort for a day you get
1- Unlimited drinks
2- Unlimted use of all restaurants
3- All beach amenities and water sports.
Trust me…..it’s the way to go if your on a cruise. As for me; like I said I have been on 7 Royal cruises. What I failed to say was it was my last. This cruise destroyed my desire to EVER cruise again.
Sounds like you had a terrible experience! It seems like a number of people have been really disappointed with this ship. I hope Royal Caribbean has some plans to renovate if that is the case now.
I am currently on the Freedom of the Seas and the ship is dirty over all. The service is below standards, for example when asking for French fries instead of the normal side in the main dining room it was ignored or not heard.
The worst part is the mold and mildew in the area of our room. My wife is allergic and had to see the medic and was prescribed steroids. We were charged $148.88 for the medical service. Guest services will not admit that they have mold/mildew however they told me there’s a pipe leak on our floor. When I asked for a test to prove there is no mold the house keeping supervisor informed me it’s only a visual test. They don’t have equipment for any other test.
All I have asked is for my medical fee to be credited back and they have refused basically they don’t want to admit there could be a problem.
I’m so sorry to hear that. Sounds like the ship could maybe use a bit of a re-fresh and cleaning. It was not like that when I was on the ship so it’s unfortunate to hear you aren’t having a good experience. Hope you are still able to enjoy your vacation.
I just returned from a seven day cruise on Freedom of the Seas. I’ve been on other cruises in the past but my first on Royal Caribbean, and last. First of all the ship is in need of a deep clean and make over. The rooms do not look at all like what is pictured, filth and dirt everywhere, rust and hair in the bathroom. Carpet is very old, stained and over used with a nasty smell, you can see obvious signs that there’s been some type of flooding or water damage. A small loveseat in our room was stained and you didn’t even want to sit on it. There is dust on the curtains and pictures. When We complain the offer to do a deep cleaning and shampoo the carpet and loveseat I thought that was a little late since our bags were already in the small room I did not want to release any other mold spores into the air so we refused. As well as refusing their offer of cruise cash for another Cruise. I wouldn’t advise it to anyone. The food was not up to standards and the staff overall was very rude. Run choose another Cruise Line
Wow, I am sorry that you had such a bad experience.
The ship is definitely not one of their newest, but I didn’t have any issues with the cleanliness of our room. I have been in hotel rooms that are filthy like that and I know it’s a bad experience!
I agree, the food wasn’t 100% awesome. Overall I think the food on Princess is better. However, I thought the staff on Freedom of the Seas was great – up to par with every other cruise I have been on.
I hope your next cruise is a better experience.
I think we may have been on that same cruise – March 10-17. Our room was 8618. We had a very clean room and bathroom. I am super fussy about hotel accommodations, and I was very impressed with our accommodations! I am very sensitive to mold, and I did not have any issues the entire time. We did not experience rudeness from any of their staff. Everyone we encountered was super friendly and went out of their way to make sure our needs were met. I must agree that the food in the dining room was not always as tasty as it looked, but overall we were VERY satisfied!!
I’m glad to hear that you had a good overall experience on this ship. It’s funny how different people’s experiences can be from the same trip! I do agree with you that the food wasn’t always excellent – we had a couple of duds, but overall I was satisfied with this ship too.
Just recently traveled on the Navigator of the Sea. Second cruise. Very impressed with the size of the ship and activities. Bingo was a little pricey, but if lucky big pay out. Eating in the main dining room was very nice. Did not like the crowds in the Windjammer. There was an approximate $15. Gratuity per person per night. You can choose as many appetizers or entrees or desserts that you want.
Thank you for your review! We are taking Freedom next summer for our 20th anniversary. We did a Princess cruise (which we LOVED) for our 15th, and took the kids on Majesty of the Seas this past summer, which was also great.
We have done a few Princess cruises as well and also loved them! I hope you enjoy your cruise on the Freedom of the Seas — Happy Anniversary!
Your room looks SO spacious! I love having a balcony! Cruising is so fun to me and Royal Caribbean is one of my favorite companies. I’m currently on a cruise to Cape Town with Crystal 🙂
That sounds like a great cruise – have fun!
I’ve never cruised before, but my travel partner went with his family when he was younger, and he definitely enjoyed it. That ship looks like a city unto itself, though! Even though cruising is so contrary to my usual traveling style, I have to admit it looks really appealing. Thanks for this look “under the hood” on a Royal Caribbean cruise!
These ocean liners are like moving cities. So much to see and do on the ship that you may not even want to deboard. I took a cruise around the Mediterranean and loved it. As the ports were my priority I preferred a smaller ship that would get us around faster. Would love to cruise on Royal Caribbean though.
This sounds like so much fun! I can tell you enjoyed it a lot. We’ve never been in a cruise and hope to one day. Seems like it’ll be a great way to relax, enjoy activities, and explore places. Everything we like!
We’ve never done a proper cruise before but it’s definitely something we would consider doing in the future. I love how much they can fit into a one ship, it would definitely keep us entertained whilst out at sea!
I’ve never done a cruise, but I must say you’re selling me the idea! It sounds like there’s lots to see and do, and is great with kids. One for the To Do list I think!
I must admit, I’ve never been on a cruise before – I usually do the all inclusives on a resort in the Caribbean, but most recently been doing more off the beaten path / non all inclusives in places like Jamaica. I liked all the first timer tips that are so helpful should I ever do my first cruise!
Wow! This ship looks magical! I’ve only been on carnival but Royal Caribbean looks amazing. All of their ships look huge! Are most ships a similar design like if you go from Carnival to Royal Caribbean? Thank you for sharing your review!
I think most of the ships within each brand are similar, but I have never cruised on Carnival so I am not sure how theirs compare to Royal Caribbean. I have cruised with Princess and those ships have a similar feel to Royal Caribbean.
We’ve been on the Freedom of the seas !
You’ve got to try it ! It’s amazing !
You cannot find better than that !
I have never cruised. I always thought my hyperactive brain would get bored. But looking at this, there seems to be a whole bunch of things to do.
Perhaps I need to revisit my blind prejudice against cruising.
Thanks for sharing, keep traveling and blogging. Adventure is better when shared with friends.
I have never taken a cruise before and didn’t know many of the things you are explaining. For example that much food is included in the price and that there are so many activities aboard the ship like climbing and ice skating.
I would really like to go on a cruise sometime and learn about all the aspects of that kind of travel.
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