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Freedom of the Seas Review

Freedom of the Seas
Freedom of the Seas
2019 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2019 Best for Families

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Freedom of the Seas
4.0 / 5.0 Cruise Critic Editor Rating
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A dizzying number of onboard activities and top-notch entertainment ensure you'll never be bored.


The ship's central Royal Promenade is a bit like a shopping mall, and sales pitches are at every turn.

Bottom Line

Despite its age, the ship still shines, and there's something for every age group.


Passengers 4,500
Crew 1,400
Passenger to Crew 3.21:1
Launched 2006
Shore Excursions 227

Ashley Kosciolek
Cruise Critic Senior Editor

Freedom of the Seas Overview

Freedom of the Seas launched in May 2006 as the world's biggest cruise ship, measuring 155,000 tons, carrying 4,500 passengers and introducing Royal Caribbean's now-widespread FlowRider surf simulator to the cruise industry.

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Although the ship is no longer the biggest in Royal Caribbean's fleet – that title is held by the line's newer Oasis-class ships -- it does not feel outdated. If anything, Royal Caribbean is doing a great job of keeping Freedom of the Seas in tip-top shape.

During a 2015 dry dock, Freedom received new cabins, a new nightclub and two new for-fee restaurants – giving passengers a plethora of dining choices that range from Italian to Mexican. (The ship also had some nagging propulsion issues addressed.)

Although Royal Caribbean's 4,500-passenger Freedom-class ships are the line's third-largest (behind the Oasis and Quantum classes), Freedom of the Seas doesn't feel crowded. That's not to say that the ship feels empty or small. Sometimes there's congestion in Windjammer at peak times, you'll wait in a line (a short line, but a line nonetheless) to disembark at tender ports, and dinnertime can be a bit noisy with hundreds of others chowing down around you. At the same time, it's never hard to find quiet, private nooks. The library, Internet cafe, Cafe Promenade, Vintages wine bar and even the Solarium pool are great for getting-away-from-it-all moments, particularly on port days.

Overall, the traffic flow throughout the ship is smooth, but there are times when it comes to a dead standstill along the Royal Promenade (the ship's mall-like main thoroughfare) -- when there's a sale on duty-free watches, for example. Other areas just seem poorly designed. It can be a harrowing experience to reach the Deck 3 On Air Bar and Studio B from the front of the ship, as there's no direct access straight through. Passengers have to either walk up one flight to Deck 4 (and through the horribly smoky casino) to the aft and then head down or go up two decks to the often crowded Royal Promenade to walk aft before heading down.

In general, service is personal, since there are so many spaces in which you can become a "regular." Baristas at Cafe Promenade, serving Starbucks coffee drinks, remember complicated beverage orders; the bartenders at Boleros, Royal Caribbean's Latin-themed bar, remember names and poisons; and even the wait staff in Windjammer, the casual buffet, treat kids as the highest-order VIPs.


Included with your cruise fare:

  • Meals in three main dining rooms and at the Windjammer Marketplace buffet, Cafe Promenade and Sorrento’s Pizza; snacks from Sprinkles Ice Cream; and continental breakfast room service
  • Main theater entertainment
  • Most activities and events onboard, including use of the ice skating rink
  • Use of the fitness center (but not most fitness classes and personal training)
  • Use of the Sports Court, Freedom Fairways mini-golf, flowrider and rock climbing wall
  • Adventure Ocean Kids Club activities for kids ages 6 months to 17 years until 10 p.m.

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Onboard gratuities ($14.50 per person, per day for Junior Suites and below; $17.50 per person, per day for anyone staying in a Grand Suite or higher)
  • Auto-gratuities of 18 percent applied to salon, spa, beverage purchases and all specialty dining venue reservations
  • Drinks *excludingwater, tea (including iced tea), coffee and select juices from the Windjammer Marketplace
  • All room service orders ($7.95) except free continental breakfast
  • Most specialty dining
  • Treatments at the spa and salon
  • Most fitness classes
  • Most arts and craft classes
  • Activities like the arcade, bingo, sushi-making classes, shopping events, behind-the-scenes ship tour, bottomless galley brunch and alcohol tastings
  • Casino play
  • Adventure Ocean kids club programming after 10:00 p.m.
  • Shore excursions
  • Internet access and packages
  • Onboard photos and artwork

Fellow Passengers

With the FlowRider, H2O Zone and age-specific children's facilities, Freedom of the Seas is an obvious choice for families. The number of children under 17 can range from a few hundred to as many as 1,200 on holiday and summertime sailings. The ship also appeals to active couples, mainly ranging from their 30s to 50s, and plenty of fun-loving seniors. Many Royal Caribbean cruisers are repeat passengers. The majority hail from North America, though many on our cruise came from South America, Europe and Canada.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Dress Code

Daytime:Dress is casual during the day.

Evening: Seven-night cruises typically feature two formal nights and five casual nights. Themed outfits (Caribbean Night, White Night are encouraged but seldom seen. Many men don tuxedos for formal dining, though suits are just fine (and more common). Women opt for cocktail dresses or gowns. No one looks askance if you don't observe a formal night; plenty of families opt for a more casual experience, bypassing the formal nights for laid-back dinners at the Windjammer, Sorrento's or Johnny Rockets.

Not permitted: No tank tops, bathing suits or baseball caps are permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants at any time, and footwear is always required. Shorts may not be worn to dinner in any restaurant, except the buffet.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Royal Caribbean.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Gratuity

Royal Caribbean charges its passengers $14.50 per person, per day ($17.50 for those in suites). Gratuities can be prepaid or are added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. (Passengers opting for My Time Dining must pre-pay gratuities.) Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. An 18 percent tip is automatically added to bar tabs and purchases like specialty coffee, cupcakes and ice cream. Gratuity envelopes for those who wish to reward extra service are delivered to staterooms on the last day.

Note: Australians and New Zealanders do not have the stateroom service charge added to their account; fares automatically include this gratuity as long as the cruise was booked in AU or NZ dollars.

Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Awards

Cruisers’ Choice Awards

2019 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2019 Best for Families
2018 Best for Entertainment
2018 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2018 Best for Families
2017 Best for Embarkation
2017 Best for Entertainment
2017 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2016 Best for Fitness & Recreation
2015 Best for Fitness
2014 Best Overall
2014 Best for Dining
2014 Best for Entertainment
2014 Best for Fitness
2014 Best for Public Rooms
2014 Best for Service
2014 Best for Shore Excursions
2013 Best for Entertainment
2013 Best for Fitness
2013 Best for Service
2013 Best for Families

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Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas Member Reviews

Freedom of the Seas
Sail Date: May 2016
This was my first time sailing with Royal Caribbean and I must say it was a great time. The freedom of the seas is definitely a ship for first-time cruisers. Getting on the ship and check-in was very easy...Read More
Freedom of the Seas
Sail Date: Jul 2019
I recently disembarked a 7 night sailing from Puerto Rico on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. During this cruise, we visited St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados. Just for reference...Read More
Freedom of the Seas
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose Freedom of the Seas for the outstanding itinerary; the Southern Caribbean route was the one of the few available for the week we could travel (late May). I had read some horrible reviews of this...Read More
Freedom of the Seas
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Bolero lounge had a trio that kept everyone dancing until late hours. I recommend the Freedom of the Seas for first timers and experienced cruisers, it's worth the experience....Read More

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