Freedom of the Seas is a terrific ship for families. The H2O Zone is a favorite feature, day-to-night activities on the sports deck keep kids occupied, Adventure Ocean not only entertains but also challenges kids with science experiments, and the partnership with DreamWorks has life-sized movie favorites roving around entertaining kids all week.
Children are separated into five different age groups; each group has its activities and 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. Note: Children must be potty trained to participate in Aquanauts.
Challenger's Arcade, which fills a long corridor between Adventure Ocean, the Nursery, the Living Room and Johnny Rockets, offers more 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.
Parents with kids in Adventure Ocean receive cell phones, which they can use to check on their children or to receive calls from the youth staff, should there be any problems. Although the evening session ends at 10 p.m., there's an extra-fee Late Night Party Zone for kids (10 p.m. to 2 a.m.), a group babysitting arrangement that costs $7 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 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 through fun, hands-on science experiments at sea. The 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.
In-cabin 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; the price includes two sitters (required).
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. Chunks of time are also blocked off for these age groups to use things like the rock wall and FlowRider.
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 might be able to take him or her to these parent-supervised sessions in the nursery.)
In addition, the nursery offers drop-off group babysitting for kids of 6 to 36 months at $8 per hour. Open hours vary by ship and day and are found in the daily schedule. On port days, the nursery opens at least 30 minutes prior to the first excursion and stays open until 30 minutes after the last excursion returns. It's also open nightly from 8 p.m. to midnight.