Freedom of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Freedom of the Seas
Maiden voyage: 2006
We were on board this ship in 2010, and again in 2011. It is the first of the Freedom class ships, and when built, was the largest cruise ship in the world.
We had a nice balcony room on this ship. While the balcony rooms are nice, I remain unconvinced that they are worth the additional cost vs. an inside room, unless you need the extra room. You have your private balcony, but in the Caribbean, its often too hot to really enjoy the room for a long period of time. Basically it lets you know what it is like outside without having to leave the room.
However, our son sometimes cruises with us, and he is nearly 6ft tall, so he needs a good sized bed. For that reason, we opted for a Category D2 cabin, which is a bit larger, and select cabins have a sofa-bed. Not all D2 cabins have the sofa-bed, so make sure you book one that does if you need this feature.
While the ship is larger than the Voyager class, its layout is quite similar, with the Royal Promenade being the center of activity. One notable difference is that the main pools on the Freedom are fresh water.
The prevously built Royal Caribbean ships have all had salt water pools. Whether this is due to the ship's ability to generate enough fresh water or a change in direction I do not know. But I have come to like the salt water pools, as they seemed a bit more refreshing, and kind of added to the glamour of being on the high seas a bit.
The Freedom marks the first use of a Flowrider on the ship, which is a surfing machine. Like the Voyager class ships, an ice-rink is featured as well. Also a unique cantilevered Hot Tub hangs over the side of the ship for a breath-taking view.
One nice feature of this ship is the Solarium, which is an adult-only pool area. This pool is in addition to the main pools, and set aside for the enjoyment of adults without children. There is also a huge kids-only area, called the H2O Zone.
Like most of the newer ships, the Windjammer cafe is located at the stern of the ship, while the theatre is at the bow.
The propulsion system of this ship consists of a diesel-electric system with diesel engines driving huge generators. The propellers are connected to huge electric motors, slung under the ship in pods called fixipods or azipods. There is one fixipod on the centerline of the ship, and two azipods on either side. The azipods can rotate 360deg, not unlike a small boat with an Inboard/Outboard (stern drive). Since there are no long shafts in the boat, the vibrations are at a minimum.
The ship also features stabilizers; little winglets that extend out of the sides of the ship underwater that serve to minimize the rolling of the ship. This provides a smoother ride in rough water, which enhances passenger comfort (and minimizes the propensity to become sea-sick).
The Freedom went into dry-dock in the spring of 2011. We had the opportunity to sail the Freedom both prior and after the dry-dock, and the improvements included a new jumbo TV at the pool deck. There is just something cool about watching Monday Night Football on a large screen TV, sitting in a hot-tub in the middle of the Caribbean.
Other post dry-dock improvements were interactive "where am I" touch screen TVs in the main corridors. This is an improvement first featured on the Oasis/Allure, and retrofitted to the Freedom.