Back To Line

Royal Caribbean International: Freedom of the Seas

Freedom of the Seas Review

Launched in 2006 as the first of three Freedom-class ships and enhanced in 2012, Freedom of the Seas is packed with features. New on board is the DreamWorks Experience complete with characters such as Shrek and his pals, a new nursery, and puppet shows. Digital signage makes navigating the ship easier. Adults can finish the evening with a selection of reds or whites at the intimate Vintages wine bar.

Although they are no longer the world's largest cruise ships, the Freedom-class vessels live up to Royal Caribbean's reputation for creative thinking that results in features to stir the imagination and provide a resort-like atmosphere at sea. Whether you are hanging 10 in the surf simulator, going a few rounds in the boxing ring, or strolling the Royal Promenade entertainment boulevard, there's almost no reason to go ashore. The layout is more intuitive than you might expect on such a gigantic ship. A mall-like promenade is lined with shops and bistros, an ice-skating rink/theater, numerous lounges, and dining options, but these are not simply enlarged Voyager-class ships. With plenty of room, even the most intimate spaces feel uncrowded. A good fit for extended families, these ships have expansive areas devoted to children and teens and enough adults-only spaces to satisfy everyone.

Big, bigger, biggest! In the early 1990s, Royal Caribbean launched Sovereign-class ships, the first of the modern megacruise liners, which continue to be the all-around favorite of passengers who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Plunging into the 21st century, each ship in the current fleet carries more passengers than the entire Royal Caribbean fleet of the 1970s, and has amenities—such as new surfing pools—that were unheard of in the past.

All Royal Caribbean ships are topped by the company's signature Viking Crown Lounge, a place to watch the seascape by day and dance at night. Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • FlowRider surfing simulator is exciting, even for observers
  • The H2O Zone is a fun place to beat the heat beneath a waterfall, in the fountain sprays, and along a lazy river
  • A sports pool accommodates water volleyball, basketball, and golf

Cons

  • The location of a self-serve frozen-yogurt bar near the kids' pool means that it often ends up messy
  • Hang on to your wallet—the malts in Johnny Rockets diner aren’t included in the price
  • On a ship this large, lines are inevitable, particularly at disembarkation
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,360
  • Entered Service 2006
  • Gross Tons 160,000
  • Length 1,112 Feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,817
  • Passenger Capacity 3,634
  • Width 185 feet

By Jeff_CR

  • New

Jul 28, 2016

Western Caribbean

We chose to take this cruise because we really enjoyed our cruise last year on Freedom's sister ship Independence. We stayed in the same cabin-7712, aft facing junior suite- as we did on Independence. The ship was in good shape and we frequently saw crew cleaning, painting and doing general maintenance. The size and layout of the Freedom class is ideal for us- not too big, not too small and not too crowded. We rarely encountered a line for anything.

All in all this was an excellent cruise that gave us memories that we will keep for years. We have already booked two cruises for next year. The food was excellent. Windjammer food was a better quality and variety than previous cruises. The dining room was about the same as last year. Similar choices on a fairly limited daily menu. Sabor was excellent. Our meal there was the best ever on a ship and one of the best ever anywhere. Our cabin was very comfortable and was kept nicely by our cabin attendant. We like the aft facing suite for the larger balcony and the view. It also tends to be quieter since it is at the end of a long hall and doesn't get much traffic. Our cabin attendant- Erlinda- seemed like a family member to us. Always smiling and always quick to take care of anything we needed. We participated in many of the ship's activities- contests, raffles, shopping, solarium pool area, spa, bars, bands- as well as time just relaxing. We did not attend any of the theatre performances as we took that opportunity to do other things that were less crowded since many guests were in the theatre. We had shore excursions on Roatan and Cozumel. Both were good. Gumbalimba on Roatan was very interesting, fun and informative. It started late so we did not have much time afterward to do much more exploring. The America's Cup event on Cozumel was the most fun excursion we have ever done. Lots of fun and camaraderie. It also started late which did not leave much time for other exploration. The shopping on Costa Maya was excellent. The staff and crew were top notch. All of them looked us in the eye, smiled and greeted us no matter where they were or what they were doing. It was truly 5 star service. If we had a question and they did not have an answer they made sure to find someone who did. Our dining room servers- Henry and Youlando- were attentive and helpful with great senses of humor. Our expectations were surpassed on a daily basis. All in all this was an excellent cruise that gave us memories that we will keep for years. We have already booked two cruises for next year.

Read More
  • New

Jun 18, 2016

Eastern Caribbean

This was my 4th cruise and by far the worst. Other people in our group have been on as many as 12 cruises. I am extremely disappointed in Royal Caribbean. The ship is nice. It is easy to get around. There is a lack of outdoor lounge/social areas that was disappointing. Royal Caribbean has gone downhill and they are more focused on cutting costs to appease stock holders than providing a quality vacation to their customers.

Service on the ship was bad. They gave us incorrect information about getting towels for shore excursions so nobody on the ship was able to get a towel to go on shore. Unbelievable that they could screw up such a simple thing. The next day when said they had towels when getting off the ship to go on shore, they ran out! Again. Unbelievable! People were about to riot. This sort of thing is unacceptable and should never happen. The broke my daughters seapass card when they punched hole in it to put on a lanyard. When they replaced the card, they did not transfer the information from the other card and therefore her waivers for activities did not show up when she needed them. She missed her assigned time for the flo rider because of this incompetence. We have never had problems like this on any other cruise. The food on this cruise was disgusting. We had a group of 16 and we unanimously agreed that the food was garbage. Others on cruise also commented how bad the food was. It was bad everywhere. The pizza was unbelievably bad. Like 7-11 frozen bad. The dining room food was terrible too. We paid $100 to eat in the fancy restaurant called Chops Grill. Our filet mignon and lobster were awful. The lobster was the consistency of mashed potatoes and the steak could almost bend the knife it was so tough. It is almost impossible to serve food so consistently bad and we have never experienced this on other cruise lines. Even the ice cream and other desserts were bad. Dining room service was terrible. Our waiter hit my wife and I both on the head with plates. Getting a drink took 15 minutes. They had one guy and only one guy who was able to bring drinks other than water. If you go to Costa Maya you must get out of the cruise port village. It is a $2 cab ride 5 minutes away to Mahahual. It is a very lovely and cool little village on the beach. We had excellent food at Nohoch Kay restaurant. Lot's of snorkeling when in port.

Read More

By rich_CR

  • New

Jan 17, 2016

wrf

Let me preface by saying that we go on cruises every year, the last 6 with our two small girls aged 4 and 6. First time with Royal Caribbean and the last. First the good. The ship itself (the main areas ie promenade) is very nice and quasi clean. They have a rock climbing wall and simulated surfing. Some of the nightly shows were good to very good (6 to 7.5/10). That's about all the good things I can think of. The food in the main dining

room was mediocre to poor (ditto for all the food on the ship). The first night I ordered encrusted Salmon, it was salty beyond belief. The 2nd night the Chef had a feature which was supposed to be saffron cauliflower with some sort of fish. Dish came with a half of a roasted potato, the driest fish ever topped with salsa like spaghetti sauce (who puts tomato sauce on white fish?). When I inquired as to where my Saffron cauliflower was they apologized and said they had none so they substituted , without telling me (but this was the featured meal of the night I argued?). They brought me Salmon instead (dry) after one bite, we left and went upstairs to the buffet which had variety but lacklustre quality compared to EVERY cruise ship we had been on before (including the lowly Carnival which by the way had fabulous food). On a couple of nights they had sushi, however as with the consistency of low quality they substituted smoked (maple) salmon in the sushi rolls paired with the wrong type of soya sauce which made the rolls taste super salty and inedible. They hid the tuna rolls under the counter because "they would go too fast" and so you had to know to ask for them. The majority of the food consisted of pork this or pork that, lots of rice dishes, the cheapest cuts of fish (Basa, Tilapia and unknown Chinese fish). If you saw shrimps they were the tiny canned ones which were very disappointing. In the main dining room I ordered scallops as an entree and they brought me 6 pea sized scallops in an escargot dish (unprofessional) drenched in butter (for taste). Everything was drenched in butter to enhance the low quality of the foods served. I was VERY disappointed that it felt they purposely lowered the food quality so that you would be forced to eat at their pay for, overpriced restaurants ($79USD PP). I have always promoted cruise lines because of the variety and quality of food but NOT Royal Caribbean. Got together with my cousins today and lo and behold they had the SAME experience on a different RCCL ship!. Terrible food (and they are cruise nuts going on Princess next for March break). The other thing that left a sour taste in my mouth was the constant bombardment of sales pitches for just about everything they could sell you. I was really disgusted with that. They turned a beautiful ship into one big flea market. Drink packages started at $49pp per day + 18% gratuity. $8/day each for kids for Pop. The shopping hostess told us when we went to Cozumel that we should not buy anything from the shops in front of the store and that instead they had "preferred" shops which were authentic, guaranteed blah blah blah and we could get there for a inexpensive $8 by taxi 9the forum shops). So we took their advice and it turned out the forum shops was one huge diamond store and not a mall as we had envisioned, the salespeople awaited us in front of our taxi like vultures to accost us with free margaritas and a draw to come in their diamond store and shop for diamonds and jewellery. The other stores we visited (rum cakes, tequila, t-shirt etc.) same type of deal. We later found out that RCCT is compensated for all of the tourists that shop at their stores so they are making money in every way they can. For kids the kids camp was great but it's also great on every ship. The sour part was the cost of the arcade games which ripped us off for $20 (none of the games worked when we swiped our card) and the prices of the games were $2usd each play. These should have been FREE (If I did my math right they had 4,300 people on the ship @ an average of $1,000PP they have to pull in more than $500 million a year on one ship when you include all the kickbacks from store excursions, casino, on and offshore retail sales etc… yet they treat us like suckers and feel like vultures going after a prey (in this case it's how much money can we squeeze out of these suckers). Line ups for rock climbing were usually one hour so that didn't work out. If we tried to order water from any of the ship bars we got looks from the bartenders as they couldn't charge their 18% tips. On our 2nd day they had the genius of an idea to varnish our railings on our private balcony, it never dried for the duration of the trip and so we could not touch or go near the rail which defeated our enjoyment of the balcony premium. On every other cruise line, the crew dotes on children. Not so on RCCT. No special greetings in the dining room, we had to ask the room steward for kids lifejackets on day 3 (would not proactively bring) also reminded to do up room earlier than 9-10pm due to small children (this should be intuitive). The getting off the ship at ports was strenuous but the poor experience was getting back on scanning us like we were all criminals, patting down old ladies and just plain mean demeanours (wasn't that picky or uncaring on other ships). The ads for packages for everything just drove me mad. Internet discounts, photo discounts 50% one day only (sign was up for 3 days) photo costs are exorbitant @ $22.99 for ONE photo but $495 if you want to buy them all. Other ships are around $12-$16 plus discounts. The bazaar like atmosphere selling Tshirts in the pool area for 50% off, then tables of purses, watches, jewellery all marked up by double then marked down by 50%. We attended a scotch tasting event in the general store and even that turned out to be a sales pitch (after the tasting was had one hour to get a 10% discount). I found the same scotch (double black) JW etc.. on shore in a regular Publix in Florida cheaper than the "duty free" ships prices. Pizza on the Norwegian and Carnival were fresh made, fresh dough, fresh basil, buffalo mozzarella (you know great ingredients). On the freedom of the seas? Pre-made cardboard style grocery like crusts with sour tasting ketchup sauce and cheap ingredients (and they had a pizza store on the promenade same deal as dining room or buffet). On our 2nd day they had the genius of an idea to varnish our railings on our private balcony, it never dried for the duration of the trip and so we could not touch or go near the rail which defeated our enjoyment of the balcony premium. I thought I had paid for a 5 star ship paying premium for a balcony and expecting 1st class everything. Boy were we disappointed. RCCL is dead to me. Will never board another one again. If anyone is leaving positive reviews in my opinion it's because they are either paid bloggers by the cruise line or first time cruisers with nothing to compare against. See above, if you could picture a $20 buffet at any town in any north american city, cut that in half and you would have Royal Caribbean food. 1388 Balcony long waits for rock climbing (so a one time per trip activity). golf was golf, surf simulator broken half the time, ditto for many of the hot tubs. Choose any other cruise line, I have been on most. This was supposed to be a 5.0 star ship, consider a 3.0 ship (food 1.5). went tot eh usual ports, haiti, grand cayman, mexico, jamaica (very rough in jamaica don't go ashore alone.

Read More
  • New

Jun 8, 2015

Western Caribbean

All in all, a wonderful time and would definitely do the same cruise again. Pretty good food, wonderful service, great entertainment opportunities, and lots of fun on the pool deck and on the excursions! Looking forward to trying to Eastern Caribbean before the ships switch up itineraries next winter! The food was fantastic! Dining room food was amazing, but the little snacks were great. Only did room service once (for breakfast) and it was

about what I'd expected. I let it sit too long so it got cold, but not their fault. Pretty good food all around. Loved the late-night pizza at Sorrento's! The stateroom was good - just an interior stateroom, since I knew I didn't want to spend much time in the room. I only showered, changed, and slept in there. No time for TV or chillin, that's what the pool decks are for! The stewardess was very nice, if even a little aloof. She only made towel animals 4 out of the 7 days we were there, unfortunately. Our almost-three year old loved them, so we were hoping for more, but oh well. We got a swan, elephant, monkey, and a rabbit. Activities onboard were plentiful, even if we didn't attend all of them. We saw a female entertainer, Karen Grainger, who was magnificent. What a voice, and hilarious impressions. Didn't get to attend the game shows, but that's what having a child can do. We spent most of our time in the Promenade or up on the pool deck just relaxing and swimming. Didn't shop at all, except for some duty-free liquor. ;) We loved our excursions, but for those in wheelchairs or who have kids who can't quite walk well enough to keep up (ie. use of a stroller is necessary), stay away from a few excursions like the Mayan Ruins - Chichen Itza or Tulum (Mexico), or Dunn's River Falls (Jamaica). Read the website descriptions of the excursions so you know the limitations. It wasn't horrible for us, but our almost-three year old didn't like walking all that much and it was pretty rough terrain most of the time for a stroller (sand and jungle types). Otherwise, we loved the excursions. The Dragon's Breath Flight Line in Labadee is a must-do, if you can! First-time cruiser, so obviously this will be a better review since I have nothing to compare to, but I had a wonderful time! Week-long cruise to the Western Caribbean, stopping in Labadee, Haiti, Falmouth, Jamaica, Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. There were three medical emergencies during the week, the first of which happened during the first night on the way to Haiti - had to turn around and go back to Port Canaveral to evacuate them, so we lost some dock time in Labadee, Haiti, but still got to enjoy the private port. The last emergency required a stop-off at Key West on the last day whist returning to Port Canaveral. A minor inconvenience. All ports were awesome and the weather was great, although super hot (especially in Cozumel). There was always wind on the pool deck, which made the sun a bit more bearable. Beautiful ship, and I learned that in November 2016, the Freedom of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas are switching ports and itineraries, so this cruise and the Eastern Caribbean itineraries will then be taken by the Oasis ship. Freedom will move to Miami and take on some Bahamas itineraries and other random ones, I believe. My favorite part of the cruise was without a doubt the service aboard. I'd seen tons of reviews saying various ships had staff that seemed to be disinterested and didn't seem happy. That was NOT my experience on this cruise at all! We had great staff in all locations - bars, dining rooms, stewards, etc. - who seemed to love doing what they do. It was awesome that they were from all around the world, too. Made it a fun time getting to know them. My three favorites on the ship were our dining room waiter, Valentino (he was AMAZING!), and the R-Bar's two lovely ladies, Heidi (Heidi-ho!) and Clorina. They always had so much energy and made the experience really fun. Great drinks, and strong like I like 'em! Overall, the staff just seemed very fun and seemed to want to make sure you were having a good time. Obviously, most are fueled by potential tips, and I tipped well to those who deserved it. Heidi and Clorina got lots of tips from me! I only gambled once, and lost $100 pretty quickly on blackjack. That was day one, and decided not to go back the rest of the trip, though I was tempted hehe. The activities and entertainment onboard were pretty great from my estimation, though I didn't get to participate in all of them. Karen Grainger was awesome. Also, the Olive or Twist club on deck 14 was pretty fun most nights. Lots of people dancing. They even had a silent disco night, which I find quite amusing. Overall, it was a wonderful first cruise experience for me. My other half had been on the same cruise on the same ship back in 2010 before the renovations and liked this one better for sure. We had an amazing time, and now I'm hooked on cruising. I plan on getting us booked on another here before the year is done!

Read More
  • New

Dec 15, 2014

Western Carribean

Royal Caribbean cheated us. The captain told us on the day after we boarded that the ship was having mechanical issues, that we would not be traveling at full speed and that the stabilizers were not being used so as not to decrease the speed more. The sea was rough the ship very rocky. The biggest issue was the fact that we were traveling too slow, so we had less time in port. Then we had a medical emergency aboard and had to go back to a port to

let the passenger off to go to the hospital. So then we missed our last port. So then they used the excuse of a medical emergency to cover up for the mechanical failures or the ship. No compensation for our inconvenience. Then found out that the passengers that we're boarding this same ship as we were getting off were already receiving $100 credit because of mechanical issues on this ship. The cruise prior to ours had missed two ports. Very poor customer service from Royal Caribbean. We will never cruise Royal Caribbean again. Food was ok. Carnival was much better. Small cabin. Ok entertainment.

Read More

Cruise Forums

Have a cruising question? Ask our Fodorite community.

Cruise News

Read our latest news about cruises.

Store

Shop our travel guides on European, Caribbean, and Alaskan cruises.

Back To Top