Having cruised several times and was addicted to this method of travel, I thought it would be fun to take my granddaughters on a cruise over school break. Once I booked a cabin for myself and the girls, the rest of the family got onboard and we ended up with 4 cabins and 11 people taking this cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Freedom was chosen primarily because of the number of activities and programs for kids but everyone I think enjoyed themselves with the long list of things to do. This was my first time on Royal Caribbean and I have to say that Freedom of the Seas was so far the best ship I have ever been on.
We had My Time Dining with a table for 11 and a standing reservation for 5:30 each day, arranged once we got onboard. We had the same table and waiters for the whole cruise, Sean and Robert at Table 66 in Galileo Dining Room, deck 5. Our party included 4 children aged 3 to 10 and our waiters were wonderful with the children. The food was excellent every night, lots of choices for both adults and kids, and the service was fantastic. Occassionally someone wanted to make the early 7pm show and that was never a problem. We did the Character Breakfast one morning which has basically the same menu as the rest of the dining room, just presented differently. At breakfast you could order from the menu or there was also a buffet available in the dining room. Some mornings we just went to the Windjammer but the food selection was much the same in both areas. Lunch was mostly in the Windjammer but the salad bar in the dining room on deck 3 was also excellent and most enjoyable.
I am an early riser so I would be up, out on deck checking out the weather and then headed to the Cafe Promenade for my first coffee of the day. Seattle's Best coffee is included and is avalable self serve at the back of this cafe. There were also pastries, muffins, banana bread etc. also available and included. If you wanted Starbucks, it was in this same location but at a price. I did enjoy this part of my day.
All the nightime shows were excellent as was the Ice Show. You should pre book online for the Ice Show since the seating is fairly limited but they do offer I think 3 or 4 shows during the cruise. The Ice Show is the only show that reservations are checked. We had booked all the shows online but this was not necessary for the shows in the Arcadia Theatre. My family enjoyed the Family Quest night as well as the Quest for adults only, they did family karaoke, the Crypt, the Casino and as first time cruisers, they enjoyed everything and now know why I like cruising so much!
My only negative comment about the whole cruise was the venue for Trivia. It was held in the Schooner Bar on deck 4 outside the casino. There were 2 issues: the smell of cigarette smoke was nauseating to me who is very sensitive to the smell, and the venue was not large enough to accomodate all the folks who wanted to play. The Trivia activities should be in a larger venue, maybe the Viking Crown Lounge, or else bring in more chairs for the game times.
The kids program was also great although only one of my granddaughters (the 10 year old) would go. The younger boys loved it and were often there in the evening as well. The children's H2O zone was a lot of fun, especially the circular pool but the patrols could have been more diligent in keeping tots with diapers/swimming pull ups out of this area. The kids had a blast.
Would I go with Royal Caribbean again, yes I would but I have no desire to go on any ship larger than Freedom. The ship was full this week with 4182 pax I think and you could feel it. I had chosen rooms on the 9th floor so that we could walk up to the pool deck or if needed, walk down to deck 5 to the Royal Promenade, which we did on several occasions. I loved the glass elevators with the view of the Promenade but the wait sometimes was quite long (although we were on vacation and this should not be an issue).
Overall, a great cruise, great ship with friendly efficient service and would certainly recommend to any families.