Onboard Royal Caribbean®’s Upgraded Freedom of the Seas®

Our editor got a sneak peek at the renovations and improvements and has the details for you.

If you’re taking a cruise for the first time, you really can’t go wrong sailing on one of the largest ships at sea. That’s exactly what I did.

Early this year, Royal Caribbean International®’s Freedom of the Seas® spent 24 days in dry dock for some upgrades. New staterooms were added, premium dining venues were revamped, and a new outdoor poolside movie screen and 3-D movie theater were installed. I was invited to sail on a preview cruise to check out all of the new bells and whistles.

It was a bit chilly in January to try my hand at surfing on the FlowRider® wave pool, but I had great fun watching some of my fellow passengers catch some waves. I did manage to take in a round of miniature golf—I lost—before heading to the ice rink to catch the new, 60-minute Freedom-Ice.com figure skating revue, which stars a dozen professional skaters. After dark, I grabbed a drink at the Sky Bar and watched Edge of Tomorrow on the new big screen poolside.

As for Freedom of the Seas®’ premium dining options, the hallmark Chops Grille kept its name but got an entirely new menu; it’s now more of a modernized American steakhouse. (My tip for an appetizer to try: Grilled Black Pepper Bacon!) The old Portofino restaurant is now Giovanni’s Table, where classic Italian dishes are served family-style. Sabor Modern Mexican is a brand-new premium dining option. Guacamole is prepared tableside, tortillas and chips are made from scratch in-house, and I couldn’t get enough of the Chicken-Stuffed Jalapeños.

What was once the Champagne Bar has been replaced with the retro-chic R Bar, where you can get a classic cocktail with a modern twist. For the best selection of tequilas and rums on board Freedom of the Seas®, head to the Latin-inspired Boleros. (Try a pisco sour or classic mojito.) Fine wines from around the world are served at Vintages wine bar, and the English-style Bull and Bear Pub has an impressive selection of craft brews and an intriguing drink menu that includes cocktails made with beer.

The improvements on Freedom of the Seas® are impressive and definitely deliver on the wow factor.

If you’re a first-time cruiser, here are some tips I took away from my trip:

  • As soon as the ship leaves port, switch your smartphone to airplane mode (to avoid roaming charges).
  • Pack a sweater or jacket because ocean breezes can be cool at night.
  • If you’re arriving a day early for your cruise, ask your AAA Travel Counselor about hotels in the area that offer a park and cruise package. Parking at the port can be pricey.
  • The day you’re disembarking, leave the banana on the buffet. It looks like a good snack for the trip home, but it won’t make it through customs.

Bon voyage!

Set sail on Freedom of the Seas. Visit AAA.com to see available cruises or call 877-396-7159 to talk to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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David Kallas, AAA Travel Counselor, Murray, Utah

I'm all about once-in-a-lifetime trips to destinations such as the Cook Islands, Australia or an African safari. I love to plan trips that my clients return from not regretting anything.

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