Not to be outdone by the many new water parks on land, Royal Caribbean will bring this popular form of family entertainment to the high seas with the May 2006 launch of the 3,600-passenger Freedom of the Seas. This 160,000-ton vessel will surpass the Queen Mary 2 as the largest passenger ship, and will have many “firsts” at sea, along with the usual Royal Caribbean trademarks such as a rock-climbing wall and ice-skating rink. Freedom of the Seas is 43 percent larger than Royal Caribbean’s roomy Voyager class of ships and thus has space for three large pool areas, each offering innovative concepts.
Water, Water, Everywhere
Another unique pool space will be H2O Zone, with colorful, huge sculptures that spray and sprinkle water in every direction. They’ll be spread over a large wading pool area and will give guests lots of ways to soak each other -- from dumping water buckets to spraying water out of cannons. In one corner of the water playground, a circular pool will shoot a current of water in a river around a central island, creating a small, lazy river ride. Next to this will be a shallow splash pool for little ones, and at the back of this water park will be a swimming pool fed by a waterfall cascading from an overhanging bridge.
For those who prefer to get a watery workout, there will be a dedicated sports pool. The sports staff will oversee a variety of water sports, including pool volleyball and basketball, floating golf, and pole jousting. The sports pool will also be home to amateur synchronized swimming competitions as well as lane markers at various times of the day for lap swimming.
Since all these active options will lure families, Freedom of the Seas will offer six different family-sized stateroom options in addition to standard triples and quad cabins. The largest is a 14-person Presidential Suite with 1,215 square feet of interior space and 810 square feet of outdoor verandah space. Made for family reunions and the like, the Presidential Suite will have: two master bedrooms, sleeping two people each; two additional bedrooms accommodating four people each; a sleeper sofa for two in the common living area; and a total of four bathrooms.
The ship has four eight-person Royal Family Suites that feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Additionally, the 600 sq. ft. suites are equipped with a central living area with flat-panel TV and plenty of verandah space. These suites can be expanded to accommodate 10 people via a connecting door to a neighboring stateroom.
Another family option is a six-person Accessible Family Stateroom featuring a balcony, a curtained-off sleeping alcove with bunk beds, a sleeper sofa, and accessible bathroom.
Additionally, there will be eight six-person Family Oceanview Staterooms, each with a curtained-off sleeping alcove with bunk beds, sleeper sofa and windows for a view of the sea.
Measuring 335 sq. ft. are four six-person Promenade Family Staterooms. These will have a similar sleeping setup as the Family Oceanview Staterooms but will overlook the indoor Royal Promenade instead.
Lastly, there will be two six-person Inside Family Staterooms measuring 330 sq. ft. and featuring a curtained-off sleeping alcove and sleeper sofa.
Other Activities for Kids
Freedom’s rock-climbing wall will be much larger than those on other Royal Caribbean ships, which have traditionally measured 30 by 33 feet. On Freedom, the rock wall will be 43 by 44 feet, offering 11 climbing paths up to the top, with varying difficulties. A central spire will rise out of the base and connect with the wall at the top.
As with all Royal Caribbean ships, Freedom of the Seas will feature its top-rated Adventure Ocean youth and teen programming. Children (potty trained) who are three years and older can participate in fun, educational activities including Adventure Art by Crayola, Sail into Storytime, and Adventure Science. Teens have their own dedicated room for hanging out and can participate in organized activities and teen discos. (See our article “Enchantment for Families” for additional details on the many youth activities aboard Royal Caribbean ships). Additionally, Freedom of the Seas will feature numerous full-family activities such as a nightly family disco and a scavenger hunt for kids, teens and their parents.
RCI will serve up plenty of shore excursions appropriate for the entire family and some will have discounted children’s rates. The ship will enter the market in June 2006 with seven-night cruises to the Western Caribbean from Miami, calling at Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Montego Bay, Jamaica; and the line’s private beach in Labadee, Hispaniola.
For more details, go to the line’s dedicated site for the ship: www.freedomoftheseas.com.