Vacation Freedom

Upgrades to Royal Caribbean International®’s Freedom of the Seas® offer more activities for the kids (and more relaxation for Mom and Dad).

Rock climbing onboard the ship

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

As all parents know, children are demanding. When you’re not showering them with basic time and attention, you’re in charge of diversion, entertainment and delight. Since parenting demands don’t take a holiday, even when you do, big cruise ships are life rafts for hassle-free family travel.

Royal Caribbean International®’s newly upgraded Freedom of the Seas® boasts a variety of amenities on par with those of the newer and larger Oasis-class ships, such as Oasis of the Seas®. Dispelling the myth that cruises are sedentary, Royal Caribbean International®’s Freedom of the Seas® offers a 43-foot climbing wall that rewards recreational mountaineers with scenic sea vistas. An ice-skating rink provides a place to practice your toe loops, and you can perfect your putting at the nine-hole miniature golf course or hang out at the water park to soak and play. Seriously sporty types will appreciate the onboard boxing ring for sparring rounds and full-size basketball court, where NBA wannabes can slam dunk.

Playing at the waterpark

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

For supreme thrills, the FlowRider® surf simulator offers tweens and teens—or anyone over 52 inches tall—the chance to boogie board or hang ten on the world’s most constant curl. But not every activity area hosts nonstop fun. Among 10 pools and whirlpools, one of the former, fringed in palms and furnished with hammocks, is reserved for solace-seeking adults, and two of the latter cantilever over the side of the ship, giving the word “Jacuzzi” new meaning.

“On our days at sea, we split up and went our separate ways,” says California-based systems analyst Ron Frost, who recently took a western Caribbean cruise with seven family members representing three generations. “We might go to the casino and gamble, or shop, or listen to a lecture. I’m into the sun, so I loved being by the pool.”

Royal Caribbean International®’s Freedom of the Seas®’ offerings cater to the needs of multiple generations. Trained nannies at the Royal Babies & Tots® Nursery care for and entertain children ages 6 to 36 months. While shuttered during the day, several lounges offer play space for scheduled parent-tot playgroups. My Family Time Dining serves children ages 3 to 11 dinner before a camp-counselor-like Adventure Ocean staffer picks them up for evening activities. That allows the older generation to continue their meal at a more leisurely pace. Teens get their own no-parents-allowed lounge, plus pool parties, a video arcade and competitions in dodgeball or Dance Dance Revolution, freeing parents to enjoy one or more date nights at the enhanced wine bar, one of the ship’s many restaurants, the casino or a Broadway-inspired show.

Formal dining

Photo: Royal Caribbean International

“They do a great job with programming that covers all ages, and everyone gets a break,” says Frost.

The ship’s refurbishment has boosted its family entertainment payload. Now passengers can pull up a chaise poolside to watch a “dive-in” movie on the oversize outdoor screen. Or witness a first-run 3-D movie indoors. And to round out its cinema-centric charms, the ship’s new DreamWorks Experience, designed to appeal to the youngest sailors, offers a slate of character parades, meals, parties and meet-and-greets with Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar’s Penguins, among other stars.

On the aptly named Freedom of the Seas®, supply exceeds the demands of every family member.

Originally published in the Summer 2015 issue of AAA Traveler
Get an insider’s perspective from our editor, who had the chance to experience Freedom of the Seas®‘s renovations firsthand.

Visit AAA.com to browse all available Royal Caribbean International® cruises or call 877-396-7159 to speak to a AAA Travel Counselor.

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Rose Stadt, AAA Travel Counselor, Vallejo, Calif.

More and more people want to customize their escorted trips with longer stays in certain cities or visits to specific sites. I make sure the independent pieces fit seamlessly with the tour.

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