Freedom of the Seas Family
Freedom of the Seas is the best ship for families in the Royal Caribbean fleet, and a leader industry wide. The H2O Zone is a huge success -- the kids love it, and it keeps them out of adult whirlpools. There were a ton of kids on our Thanksgiving week cruise (1,029 to be exact!), but the ones we did see on the decks were well behaved. We have to give credit to the youth staff for keeping them occupied with age-appropriate activities.
Children are broken into five separate age groups that get not only their own activities but also their own private rooms. The Adventure Ocean Program includes several different groups: Aquanauts (3 - 5) might color and play games while Explorers (6 - 8) learn to make their own candies or kites; Voyagers (9 - 11) might take a backstage tour of the Arcadia Theater or participate in sports activities. Navigators (12 - 14) and older teens (15 - 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 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.
There are no supervised programs for children younger than 3 or non-potty-trained tykes. However, special Royal Babies (6 - 18 months) and Royal Tots (18 - 36 months) programs -- 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. Babysitting for children age 1 and older is offered as a group activity; the cost is $5 per child. In-stateroom sitting is offered when personnel is available; parents or guardians must reserve this service at the Purser's Desk 24 hours in advance. The cost for this is $8 per hour for one or two children within the same family or $10 per hour for three children within the same family.
As well behaved as the kids were onboard, it was almost nice to see children acting childishly once in awhile. Our last night onboard, we were in the elevator en route to Sorrento's for one last slice of pizza. The elevator door opened on a random floor and a group of about four boys no older than 10 sang (loudly), danced and giggled until the door closed again. You knew that they were hitting the button over and over again to put on their little show ... but who cared? We wanted to get our last few kicks in before the end of vacation, too. It really summed up the whole experience: too much fun to be had, not enough time.