Freedom of the Seas for Families
Freedom of the Seas is a terrific ship for families, both within the Royal Caribbean fleet and industry-wide. The H2O Zone is now a classic feature, day-to-night activities on the sports deck keep kids occupied, Adventure Ocean not only entertains kids but also challenges older ones with science experiments, and the new partnerships with DreamWorks and Mattel mean that life-sized movie favorites are roving around entertaining kids all week.
Children are broken into five separate age groups that get not only their own activities but also their own private rooms on Deck 12.
The Adventure Ocean Program includes several different groups: Aquanauts (3 to 5) might color and play games while Explorers (6 to 8) learn to make their own candies or kites. Voyagers (9 to 11) might take a backstage tour of the Arcadia Theater or participate in sports activities. Navigators (12 to 14) and older teens (15 to 17) can attend parties at Fuel, the teens-only club; hang out in the Living Room, a posh teen lounge that often looked packed; or chill on the Back Deck, a private outdoor area for teens. Challenger's Arcade, which fills a long corridor between Adventure Ocean, the Nursery, the Living Room and Johnny Rockets, offers modern games like Dance Dance Revolution, as well as classics like Ms. Pac Man. There are also racecar games and three air hockey tables. It's a great place for families to get some in-depth kid time; both adults and kids are welcome.
Adventure Ocean will give parents a cell phone to call in and receive calls from the youth staff. Although the evening session ends at 10 p.m., there's a Late Night Party Zone for kids -- between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. -- a group baby-sitting arrangement that costs $6 per hour, per child. On certain days, you can arrange for your child to accompany the Adventure Ocean staff to dinner. Plus, for those on My Time Family Dining or on the early seating, staff will collect your child from the dining room after 40 minutes so you don't have to leave dinner early.
Tie-ins with Crayola and Fisher-Price provide the latest in learning toys and creative materials, and an "Adventure Science" program by High Touch High Tech teaches kids fun, hands-on science experiments at sea. The new Imaginocean! puppet show is a black-light show that takes kids on an adventure through the depths of the ocean to find treasure. Highlights for kids and parents include a pirate parade: Aquanauts (3 to 5) dress up and paint their faces, and Adventure Ocean staff march them on a spirited pirate parade down The Promenade. Freedom of the Seas also has the nascent Barbie Premium Experience with Mattel onboard, a special program for girls 5 and older that includes a specially decorated stateroom, plenty of Barbie loot and activities like a fashion show and Barbie clothing design class -- for a $349 premium.
There are no free, supervised programs for children younger than 3 or for non-potty-trained tykes. However, complimentary Royal Babies (6 to 18 months) and Royal Tots (18 to 36 months) programs in the nursery on Deck 12 -- offered in conjunction with Fisher-Price and Royal Caribbean's youth staff -- are scheduled throughout the cruise for parents to attend with their wee ones. (If you have a 3 year old who's not toilet trained, you may be able to take him or her to these parent-supervised sessions in the nursery.)
In addition, the nursery offers drop-off group baby-sitting for kids of 6 to 36 months at $8 per hour. Open hours vary by ship and day and are found in the Cruise Compass. On port days, the nursery will open at least 30 minutes prior to the first excursion and stay open until 30 minutes after the last excursion returns. It's also open nightly from 8 p.m. to midnight.
In-stateroom sitting is offered for kids, ages 1 and older, when personnel is available; parents or guardians must reserve this service at the Purser's Desk 24 hours in advance. The cost is $19 per hour for up to three children within the same family.