A couple weeks ago we did an 8 day Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas! It’s a really nice ship with a lot to do, but not too big or overwhelming. We really enjoyed our time aboard. This was more of a relaxing cruise for us as opposed to adventurous, but there are plenty of fun things to enjoy no matter what you are looking to do!
For the past few years we have mostly been sailing out of Tampa because it is only an hour drive from where we live in Sarasota. While Tampa is a great and convenient port, it is limiting because you can only sail on ships that can fit under the Sunshine Skyway bridge. We decided to switch it up a little bit and sail out of Ft. Lauderdale aboard the Freedom of the Seas, which is a bigger ship that has more amenities.
We really enjoyed this ship because it was big and had a lot of things to do, but it never felt crowded or overwhelming. The only place it was really crowded was the pool deck, but that’s how it is on every cruise ship! There are 7 bars on-board plus a great Diamond Lounge. The Diamond Lounge is one of the main reasons we continue to sail with Royal Caribbean. We are all about the complimentary Diamond drinks! There is also the Main Dining Room, Windjammer/Jade, and four up-charge restaurants: Johnny Rockets, Chops Grille, Sabor, and Chef’s Table. This ship also has a main pool, kids pool, and Solarium pool. There is a Flow Rider, rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, mini golf, basketball court, and more. These size ships are great for families because there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Itinerary: Ft. Lauderdale – 2 Sea Days – Basseterre, St. Kitts – Philipsburg, St. Maarten – San Juan, Puerto Rico – Labadee, Haiti – 1 Sea Day
This cruise started out with two whole sea days, which was an amazing way to relax and unwind and get into vacation mode. The weather was nice, although it rained every day but only for a short amount of time. One nice thing about the Caribbean is that even when it rains it stays really warm out. One thing that we enjoyed that surprised us was the Dreamworks Parade they had in the Royal Promenade. It was a lot more high energy and fun than we thought it would be. It was also funny seeing adults get more excited to see characters like Shrek and Puss ‘N Boots than the kids. Of course one of our favorite events on Royal Caribbean cruises is the 70s Disco Inferno Dance Party! This was also in the Royal Promenade and was a ton of fun. If you want to have a place to sit, make sure to go really early.
The ports of call were all really beautiful, and this was our first time visiting Labadee, Haiti. It was so much fun! We did the kayaking tour, which took us closer to the town of Labadee and we learned more about this part of the island. In the other ports we just walked around and enjoyed the scenery (and the rum punches.) These islands are all really gorgeous, and since this trip was about relaxing we decided to not do any tours, apart from the one in Labadee. The kayaking tour was great because we went in the morning and it only lasted about an hour and a half, so then we had the whole day to explore the private beach. (We actually ate lunch and then went straight to the floating bar where we spent the rest of the day.) Labadee has a ton of great stuff to do. We definitely want to go back!
Unfortunately there were some things that disappointed us on-board this ship. While the crew was certainly nice and helpful, we were not really wowed by anyone (except in the Diamond Lounge. They were great.) Usually when we get off the ship we have a list of crew members we want to recognize in the survey, but we didn’t really experience that this cruise. There were also some areas of the ship that need to be updated, like the bathroom in the workout area. There was also an unpleasant odor that we noticed in certain areas of the ship. It seemed to only be bad on the sea days when there was a lot of wind, but it made it not fun to walk through those areas.
Also, one of our ongoing complaints is the quality of the food, especially in Main Dining. This cruise we pretty much only ate in the Windjammer/Jade Cafe. Royal Caribbean definitely has been offering healthier options up in Windjammer, but seems to have taken all the healthy options away from Main Dining. The only thing we do like in Main Dining is the chopped salad bar that’s offered during lunch. Please don’t ever get rid of that! Whenever we have asked for vegetarian dishes in Main Dining, they usually give the same grilled vegetable dish. We understand that most people don’t care about eating healthy when going on a cruise, but it’s still frustrating. We are glad that over the past few years Windjammer Cafe has been offering more healthy options.
We definitely enjoyed being on a bigger ship, however the medium sized ships are still our favorite, like the Brilliance of the Seas size. We find that the crew is way better and camaraderie between the passengers is a lot nicer on these smaller ships. While it is fun to have extra amenities like an ice skating rink and Dreamworks characters, we don’t need those to enjoy our cruise. We would obviously love to see the mega ships like Oasis and Harmony, but the smaller ships will always be our preferred way to cruise.
Overall, we had a really nice time on our Caribbean cruise on Freedom of the Seas. These bigger ships are definitely great for families because there is enough going on to keep everyone entertained. We can’t wait for our next cruise!
Have you sailed on Freedom of the Seas or other Royal ships? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
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