I am a committed Diamond level RCI cruiser, so I am very familiar with their ships (over 10 sailings) and prefer this company to all others. Therefore, I was very eager to go on the Freedom and see the latest developments for the first time.
The major changes are the H2O water park, the Waverider, My Time Dining and for me, a major lack was spectacular art and decor in the public areas. I have always found the extensive art collections on the RCI ships to be a major selling point-the environments have just been magnificent. While Freedom is a beautiful ship, I really missed finding and enjoying wonderful and interesting art, every where I roamed. Even the main promenade was missing the trademark massive sculpture, there were just 4 pillars topped by traditional statues representing the elements. This change would make me reluctant to try any of the other ships in the Freedom class-I'll stick with the Voyager and Radiance class.
That being said, we had a wonderful time (of course). I agree with many who have raved about Cruise Director Richard Spacey. He is a star performer in his own right and added enormously to the cruise. He is a talented entertainer. I hope he is a good manager also and has a long career.
Our entertainment was excellent with two comedians, a great magician and wonderful production shows. The cruise line seems to finally have hit upon a good formula for production shows after stumbling for many years as the primary cruise demographic changed to the baby boomers. A great original show combined rock numbers with classic fairy tales. The show was beautiful, excitingly staged with great sets, costumes and special effects and was a lot of fun.
As for the new water areas-if you have kids between 8 and 18 this is a great ship for you! These are terrific children's areas that were in constant use. This is a wonderful innovation for cruisers.
We were all happy with the food on the ship. Our dinner in Portofino's was outstanding. The regular dining room food was tasty and interesting. Nobody complained about a dish the entire time in our party of four.
We stayed, as we usually do, in a Junior Suite. This one is even more spacious, especially the balcony area than the JS on the older ships. Another big plus.
Overall, a great time, but I'll go back to the older ships as this couldn't hold a kindle in terms of visual beauty to the earlier ships. Others will have different preferences, but this is a deal breaker for me!