Short background: I was in the travel industry for 17 years from 1982-1999. In that time I took several cruises- the Caribbean, Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Galapagos. The ships now are completely different but the cruising experience remains essentially the same. My husband and I are in our early 50's with a 14 year old daughter and 12 year old son.
I booked Freedom of the Seas based on a number of factors of convenience, but ultimately because of it's positive reviews and for our kids. I thought I'd be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the ship and passengers and was pleasantly surprised. This is an exquisitely designed ship...so much to do yet the experience can be whatever you want it to be. Like Disney World it was always spotless yet you never saw the cleaning that went into keeping it that way.
My kids were in the same age group for activities (12-14) and they met kids the first day, did a lot of the activities and had a blast. If kids are 12 and over they can come and go as they please and this was perfect for them. These are well-traveled kids that have done many things and the combination of being at sea, meeting kids, going ashore to different places and the experience in general completely wowed them. The Freedom has so much to offer this 12-14 age group. My husband and I were able to spend time with our kids and yet have 'date nights' and that was awesome.
Completely impressed with the shows, including the ice production. The cruise director Graham was hard working, hilarious and just top-notch.
We ate at the Main seating for five of the nights. The food is fine, not gourmet by any means, but always ask your waiter what they recommend because they know the good from the not so good.
My husband and I ate at Chops Grille one night- lovely setting and upgraded food but still not the level of what we were hoping. But intimate dining during a sunset and a nice treat.
The Windjammer is the buffet restaurant which is usually busy but so many offerings and was pleased with the fresh fruit, salad, bread etc. If you like casual and unfussy this is a great alternative.
The cruise really can be whatever you want it to be...a super-social and partying experience or a quiet, romantic one. There are endless ways to spend more money than you intended to on 'extras', so be prepared for that. That being said what's not to like about a beautiful ship sailing in the Caribbean for a week? We loved it!