I have just disembarked from a two-night sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, and I can say that the hype is justified. You could entertain yourself for days with all the activities available on this ship—and the activities are cool. Just be sure to bring your patience because there are a lot of people onboard.
Our sailing was full with over 3,500 people onboard. Embarkation and disembarkation were total chaos. I hope the Miami cruise port has a better system in place than Cape Liberty. Just in case, bring your patience and some food and drinks for the family because getting on the ship may take a while.
Once onboard, I definitely saw lines for activities and snacks, but they weren’t prohibitively long (except perhaps at Johnny Rockets). You will need to get to the ice skating and main shows early if you have a seat preference. And the parade down the main promenade didn’t seem to have enough space for everyone who wanted to watch. If you can’t get there ahead of time, head for the balconies a few floors up.
The FlowRider onboard surfing was a big hit as expected. The main event was body boarding, as stand-up surfing is much more difficult and not nearly as enjoyable. I didn’t brave the waves, but I found that watching was as much fun (if not more) than riding a board. We cheered equally for the folks who could manage to kneel, steer, or roll over as we did for the dramatic wipeouts. And, oh yes, you will wipe out. With flair.
I did take a turn on the rock climbing wall. As long as you’re not intimidated by eight-year-olds who climb twice as fast, you won’t find the climbing too scary. I slipped once and happily dangled in the air until I regained my footing. I also enjoyed the cantilevered whirlpools. It’s lovely to gaze out at the ocean all around you as you relax, but sadly you can’t take your pina colada with you. At night, check out Matt Yee’s adult singalong; it’s campfire singing meets drinking game. One of the ship’s lounges is devoted to karaoke, and the nightclub was rocking into the wee hours.
To my complete surprise, I was really taken by the ship’s decor. The art in the themed stairways and hallways is quite unique and edgier than your typical corporate art. Look for the interactive displays in the stateroom corridors near the aft elevators. You can crank a handle to make a crab play the violin or a cat chase a mouse. I especially admired the changing colors of the glowing globes in the Viking Crown Lounge and the goth design of the Crypt nightclub. My least favorite: a photograph of a child who seems to have sprouted from a patch of dirt. Bizarre!
And, yes, you can feel that the ship is larger than any cruise ship you’ve ever been on. After two nights, I still didn’t know where I was at any given moment or how to get to the next activity. Thank goodness for strategically positioned ship maps.
Kids and adults alike seemed to be having a fabulous time onboard, and I can attest that the ship offered something for everyone. Stay tuned for my full article on the Freedom in next week’s Cruise News.