Freedom of the Seas - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Freedom of the Seas


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 394 out of 500

Accommodation: 142 out of 200

Food: 235 out of 400

Service: 278 out of 400

Entertainment: 73 out of 100

Cruise: 270 out of 400

Overall Score: 1392 out of 2000

Freedom of the Seas Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 154,407

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean International

Former Names: none

IMO Number: 9304033

Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)

Original Cost: $590 million

Entered Service: Jun 2006

Registry: The Bahamas

Length (ft/m): 1,112.2/339.0

Beam (ft/m): 183.7/56.0

Draft (ft/m): 27.8/8.5

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (75,600kW)/3 pods (42,000kW)

Passenger Decks: 15

Total Crew: 1,397

Passengers (lower beds): 3,634

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 42.0

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.6

Cabins (total): 1,817

Size Range (sq ft/m): 153.0-2,025.0/14.2-188.1

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 842

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 32

Wheelchair accessibility: Best

Cabin Current: 110 volts

Elevators: 14

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 2

Hot Tubs (on deck): 6

Self-Service Launderette: No

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


A large floating theme park - good for the whole family

Overview. Freedom of the Seas is a lively large resort ship, with tasteful decor and many bars and lounges. It is certainly a fine ship for young, active families with children, as long as you don’t mind lines when signing up for popular activities like the Flowrider surf area, rock-climbing wall, and full-size boxing ring.

The Ship. Freedom of the Seas (with sisters Independence of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas) is an extension of the highly successful Voyager-class of ships, which Royal Caribbean International (RCI) introduced in 1999 beginning with Voyager of the Seas. For this ship, the length and beam were extended, enabling an increase in cabins and passenger capacity, and a combined pool area 43 percent larger than the Voyager-class - but with 500 more passengers, yet the same number of elevators. The ship is the length of 37 London double-decker buses.

Perhaps the ‘wow’ factor aboard this ship (particularly for younger cruisers) is its connection with water - and this includes a 40ft x 32ft (12.2 x 9.7m) Flowrider surfing zone at the stern. This wave simulator creates a wall of water, flowing at 35,000 gallons per minute, for board or body surfers.

Then there’s the H2O Zone forward of the funnel, an interactive water-themed play area for families that includes a pool fed by a waterfall, two hot tubs, plus water cannons and spray fountains, water jets and ground gushers; by night the water park morphs into a colorfully lit Sculpture Garden. Twin central pools consist of a main and a sports pool, with grandstand-style seating and competitive games including pole jousting.

There are 16 bars and lounges to enjoy, and a whole promenade of shops and munching and drinking spots along an indoor mall-like environment called the Royal Promenade. This is four decks high, and some interior-facing cabins have great views into it. The Royal Promenade is home to fashion, jewelry and perfume shops, a general store, logo shop, Promenade Café, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream outlet, a Book Nook, a ‘classic’ barber shop called A Close Shave (a razor shave ‘experience’ costs more than $70), a pizzeria, and a Bull and Bear (English pub).

The forward section of this large space leads into a large nightclub called Pharaoh’s Palace, usually used for late-night adult-only comedy. One deck down from the Royal Promenade is a large Casino Royale (full of gaming tables and slot machines), The Crypt discotheque, Schooner Bar (piano bar), Boleros (Latin hangout), and a photo gallery, while the forward section leads into the three-deck-high Arcadia Theatre.

Families. Children are well catered to, with Adventure Ocean (on Deck 12) for kids of six months to 17 years of age (teens get their own chill-out room). Children will love this ship and all the fun activities and sports activities - not to mention meeting other kids. Adventure Ocean is where new friends are made easily.

Accommodation. There is a wide range of suites and cabins in several categories and different price grades, from a Presidential Family Suite that can sleep up to 14 to twin-bed two-person interior cabins, and interior cabins that look into an interior shopping/strolling atrium promenade. The price you pay depends on the size, grade, and location. There are many family-friendly cabins, good for reunions, but no single occupancy cabins. All outside-view cabins have even numbers; all interior cabins have odd numbers.

Presidential Family Suite. Located in the aft section, this comprises five rooms. These include two master bedrooms, each with twin beds that convert to a queen-size bed and en suite bathroom with tub/shower (the toiletries cabinets are the same as in all other cabins); two other very small bedrooms that can sleep four; private balcony with sand-colored rubberized decking (not teak), with loungers, tables, chairs, a bar, and a view aft - although part of the balcony is overlooked by balconies on the decks above, and there is a lot of wasted space aft of the balcony because it doesn’t extend to the very stern. There’s also a lounge with two sofa beds and bar. The suite can accommodate eight to 14, located aft, at the opposite end of the ship to the showlounge. Size: 1,215 sq ft (113 sq m) plus balcony: 810 sq ft (75 sq m). It’s pleasant enough, but it’s really quite cramped and has plain ceilings - but it could be good value for a large family, if everyone gets on well in a confined space.

Owner’s Suite. Sleeps up to five. Size: 506 sq ft (46 sq m) plus balcony: 131 sq ft (12 sq m).

Royal Suite. Sleeps up to four. Size: 1,406 sq ft (130.6 sq m) plus balcony: 377 sq ft (35 sq m). Includes a black baby grand player piano.

Grand Suite. Sleeps up to four. Size: 381 sq ft (35.3 sq m) plus balcony: 89 sq ft (8.2 sq m).

Junior Suite. Sleeps up to four. Size: 277 sq ft (25.7 sq m) plus balcony: 65 sq ft (6 sq m).

Superior ocean-view cabin. Sleeps two (some rooms sleep three or four). Size: 202 sq ft (18.7 sq m) plus balcony: 42 sq ft (3.9 sq m).

Deluxe ocean-view cabin. Sleeps two (some rooms sleep three or four). Size: 173 sq ft (16.0 sq m) plus balcony: 46 sq ft (4.2 sq m).

Interior (promenade-view) cabin. These cabins, on three decks, are interior-facing but with bay windows that allow occupants to look into the Royal Promenade.

Interior cabin. Sleeps two (some rooms sleep three or four). Size: 160 sq ft (14.8 sq m).

Family ocean-view cabin. Located at the front of the ship, it contains two twin beds (convertible to queen-size), plus sofa and/or Pullman beds, sitting area; bathroom, with shower. Accommodates six, and has 48in (122cm) round windows. Size: 265 sq ft (24.6 sq m).

Dining. The large main dining room is set on three levels. Each has a theme and different name - Leonardo, Isaac, and Galileo - but all have the same menus and food. A dramatic staircase connects the three levels, but huge support pillars obstruct the sight lines from many seats. When you book, choose from one of two seatings - tables are for 4-12 - or My Time Dining (eat when you want, during dining hours). The place settings, porcelain, and cutlery are of good quality.

Other dining options. Chops Grill for premium steaks, chops, and special seafood, set in a great location. Open for dinner only, reservations required; cover charge.

Portofino: this Euro-Italian restaurant is open for dinner only. Reservations required; cover charge. Choices include: antipasti, soup, salad, pasta, main dish, dessert, cheese, and coffee, and the menu doesn’t change during the cruise.

Promenade Café: for Continental breakfast, all-day pizzas, sandwiches, and coffees provided in paper cups.

Sprinkles: for round-the-clock ice cream and yoghurt, pastries and coffee.

Windjammer Café: this is a really large, sprawling venue for casual buffet-style, self-help breakfast (this tends to be the busiest time of the day), lunch, and light dinners (but not on the last night of the cruise); it’s often difficult to find a table and by the time you do your food could be cold.

Jade ‘Restaurant’ (it’s actually a section of the Windjammer Café), for casual Asian-themed food.

Johnny Rockets, a retro 1950s all-day, all-night diner-style eatery that serves hamburgers, hot dogs, and other fast-food items, malt shakes and sodas (at extra cost) with indoor and outdoor seating. All indoor tables have a mini-jukebox, and dimes are provided for you to make your selection of vintage records. The waitresses are all-singing and all-dancing. There’s a cover charge.

You’ll need to make reservations for Chops Grill or Portofino as early as you can in the cruise, because seating is limited and sells out quickly - not surprising when there are typically over 4,000 passengers on each cruise.

Entertainment. A stunning 1,350-seat Arcadia Theater is located on three decks at the forward end of the ship. It actually spans five decks - including the orchestra pit and scenery storage space. A well-designed showlounge, it has only a small number of pillars to disrupt the sight lines to the stage.

Spa/Fitness. The large Steiner-operated ShipShape health spa includes a large aerobics room, fitness center (with stairmasters, treadmills, stationary bikes, weight machines, and free weights), several treatment rooms, and men’s and women’s sauna/steam rooms, and relaxation areas. Some basic exercise classes are free, but the good ones such as yoga and personal training cost extra.