My first sailing on Freedom of the Seas was in 2013 for my honeymoon. Back then, it was everything my new husband and I needed in a cruise ship – plenty of loungers to relax on with the daily Sudoku puzzle, fruity drinks to cool ourselves down with poolside, a variety of nightly entertainment (shoutout to the Schooner Bar’s talented piano players!), attentive and friendly service from the crew, and of course cozy cabins. Although you can still find all of these on Freedom, much has changed since its $116-million renovation in March 2020 (just before the industry shutdown) which makes Freedom of the Seas feel like a brand new ship.
I was aboard Freedom for its relaunch from the Port of Miami on July 1 and although I adore the ship for sentimental reasons, I wanted to share seven more awesome things to love aboard Freedom of the Seas.
Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen
Royal Caribbean’s new take on its Italian specialty restaurant was hands down my favorite meal of the cruise. Highlighting traditional Italian classics in a modern and beautifully decorated space, Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen offers an impressive Assorted Meat & Cheese Platter, hot and flavorful Italian Stromboli bites, a variety of authentic pizzas hand-tossed in front of diners, fresh pastas, steak, veal, and chicken dishes, and a must-try, drool-worthy tiramisu.
Be sure to get your reservations in early for this one – they go fast.
PlayMakers Sports Bar and Arcade
Gotta catch the big game while at sea? Everything you’ll need is at PlayMakers Sports Bar & Arcade, located midship on deck four. With dozens of screens, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for in this lively and warm, brickwalled space.
Appetizers include nachos, chicken tenders, sliders, and jalapeño poppers. Wings and the “best burger on the ship” round out the entrees. But don’t forget dessert (my favorite course) – try a s’mores-inspired cookie smothered in marshmallow and nutella or the Touchdown Sundae towering with five scoops of ice cream and all the fixins. Burn off some calories with billiards, foosball, skee ball or arcade basketball located within the restaurant.
Those familiar with Royal Caribbean will recognize the iconic thoroughfare lined with shops, restaurants, pubs, wine bars, ice cream shops and more. It’s the main hub for gastronomic delights in a comfortable and air-conditioned energetic space.
Loyal royal fans claim that Sorrento’s has the best pizza and families will love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Café Promenade, a bustling 24/7 spot, offers coffee drinks, small bites, desserts, sandwiches, and more. Bull & Bear, the ship’s English Pub, offers just the right ambiance – snug and dark with a large selection of beers, UK-themed cocktails, and live music.
Other than food, you can get your retail on with shops specializing in jewelry, Royal Caribbean logoed swag, fragrances, and other duty-free selections.
Make sure to visit at night too – the vibe changes after dark with colorful moving lights, parades, parties, and live musical performances.
El Loco Fresh
Remember that cooling fruity drink I mentioned earlier? Now you can enjoy that with a tasty, Mexican-style taco, quesadilla or burrito at El Loco Fresh right on the pool deck.
Staff cook hot tortillas and serve custom-built tacos with beef, chicken or pork. Bowls of tortilla chips are grab-and-go or drown them in cheese sauce for nachos. A salsa bar with various toppings completes the meal. Shaded tables are available nearby. Don’t linger too far – you’ll want to go back for seconds.
Vitality Fitness Center
Although working out may not be part of everyone’s ideal vacation, those who choose to will be treated to an impressive state-of-the-art facility with numerous treadmills, ellipticals, a large free-weight section, stationary bikes, specialty equipment like a Smith Machine and Bosu trainers, fitness classes, and more. The space is kept pristinely clean with helpful staff ready to assist you and get your heart pumping.
The Lime & Coconut
This three-story, tropical-themed bar on the pool deck will be your new favorite place to grab a Piña Colada or Mai Tai. With brightly colored resort-style seating plus a swanky rooftop deck, you’ll have ample seating to relax in while you enjoy live music or the ship’s movies. Featuring two bars means less time waiting to get your vacay started right!
Ice shows at sea? Yes! This unique to Royal Caribbean experience offers Broadway-style ice skating performances and is included in your cruise fare. With dazzling lighting and lavish costumes, professional ice dancers bring themed shows to life in a theatre-in-the round design. “Ooo” and “ahh” while skaters jump, spin, and glide by in this can’t-miss showstopper.