Here is a review that will help you plan a little before you go and help you with what to expect while traveling with a family.
I've read many reviews and am baffled by those that complain about the children on the FREEDOM OF THE SEAS. With the new Dreamworks alliance, Flowrider, Royal Babies and Tots, etc. no one should be surprised at the number of children on this ship. Know before you go and you won't be disappointed, and if you do decide to go despite this public information...don't roll your eyes at those of us with kids in tow. They are future cruisers and like it or not RCCL loves them!
Embarkation was a breeze. It took MAX fifteen minutes...I think we moved slightly quicker because we are gold members but even if we weren't it was no big deal. :)
Royal Babies and Tots is a new enhancement to the Freedom of the Seas that began this year. It is FANTASTIC! I would strongly advise parents, if able, to work childcare @ $8 and hour into your vacation budget and enjoy an hour or two a day without the little ones. This service is for children under 3...children over 3 have other programs by age group at no charge. Our 21 month old eagerly went to Royal Babies and Tots every evening, except 2, while the rest of our family and grandparents ate in peace. They fed him dinner and played and we picked him up afterward. The team they have in place there is wonderful we never felt the least bit apprehensive about having them watch him...truly top notch! When they are closed there is a makeshift play area (previous review noted) that served in a pinch but we never saw anyone else there.
Our 8 year old son LOVES his group, Voyager, I think it was called. They played hard and he enjoyed himself immensely.
Our 12 year old son didn't find his group that interesting but 12 is an awkward age and he did plenty on his own and enjoyed the pool, movies, and arcade so much that it was never an issue.
I would recommend bringing your own towels, if possible, to avoid having to check towels in and out on the pool deck on the 11th floor. This is a hassle and inconvenient if you ask us.
The ports were great. Because of the aftermath of the hurricane, RCCL substituted Nassau, Bahamas for Coco Cay...which was even better for us. We went to Paradise Island (EXPENSIVE) and had a blast at the water park. We have always wanted to do it so it was worth it for us but it's not cheap. Be careful if you choose the water taxi as they are in NO RUSH to get you back to the ship and only run every half hour or so...our family nearly missed the ship coming back because of their casual attitude regarding time.
St. Marten has been greatly improved since our last visit in 2007. It really looks nice and has a great beach. For about $75 we enjoyed two lounge chairs, and umbrella, unlimited ocean trampoline for our kids and a half hour on a jet ski which we shared. There were jelly fish in the water and three out of four of us were stung. I'm not sure why there were so many this time but beware if you choose to swim there-you may want to wear some sort of protection.
St. Thomas is a shopping mecca for jewelry enthusiasts, which we are not. We bought some tourist t shirts but could have just as easily stayed on the ship at this port. The port side of the island isn't our favorite.
I wish I could say more about the entertainment, we just didn't get to that many shows. RCCL was doing something new where you have to make a reservation to attend the shows and it just wasn't convenient for us. We did go to one show that was a nod to Broadway and it was good-even the baby was entertained. Most folks weren't happy about this new system, though, for what it's worth.
The dining room food on this cruise was AWFUL. It was bland and tasteless and left us wondering what the heck has happened in this area. As the mother of three boys I do a lot of cooking and have said often that there is no such thing as a bad meal as long as I don't have to cook it or clean it up but I stand corrected. Do yourself a favor and eat at Portofino at least one night (@ $20 per person) so that you don't leave there wondering where all the decent food was. Portofino was some of the best food we have ever eaten anywhere, let alone on a cruise ship. Also, the dining room servers "Dennis and Carol" were as unappealing as the food, sadly.
That said, it was a great trip and left us wondering where our next trip with RCCL will be. Btw, if you have comments, concerns, etc. go online afterwards and let RCCL know about it. They called us the next morning after leaving feedback on their website. If they don't know about what needs to be fixed-they can't fix it.