Family Fun Aboard the Freedom of the Seas: Visiting the Bahamas
My kids and I had so much fun cruising on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas ship! If family fun while cruising is what you’re after, Freedom could be a great ship selection for your next travel adventure.
Educational travel is a big part of our homeschool experience. Like so many, my kids really do well learning through hands on & immersive experiences. It makes sense. If you were given the option of learning about The Bahamas by reading a book or by actually visiting The Bahamas, I’m going to take a bet you’d select the latter option, right?
Of course, I could be wrong about your answer. As far as my family is concerned, though, we are always happy to seize an opportunity to travel and learn together!
Before I share our experience cruising on Freedom of the Seas, I just want to make sure you realize how awesome taking a cruise with kids can be.
Table of Contents
Why Cruise with Kids?
There are so many reasons to cruise with kids, but I’ll happily share one of my top reasons right here and now: it’s easy.
We’ll still go on road trips. We’ll still catch a flight somewhere. When it comes to easy family travel, though? Going on a cruise is going to be my top choice because:
- food is included
- entertainment is included
- lodging is included
- I only have to unpack the suitcases ONCE, but we can visit multiple places
- my husband and I can have date nights without paying a sitter (yay for Adventure Ocean!)
- I can unplug from social media and truly enjoy myself and my family
Being that we’re a homeschooling family, we’re not limited to traveling during school holidays and can take advantage of saving money by booking travel during the off-season…which is exactly what we did with our Freedom of the Seas cruise!
Before Boarding the Cruise
Our cruise was scheduled to disembark from Port Miami in sunny Florida. When traveling to a cruise port, it’s always recommended to arrive at least a day early just in case your flight is running late or you run into traffic. It’s sound advice because arriving early will ensure that you don’t miss boarding the cruise ship on time!
Well, we took this advice to the next level and decided to arrive in Florida a few days before our cruise! Doing so allowed for a few days of adventure and allowed us to spend even more family time together.
Flying into & staying in Miami can be expensive so, to save some money, we flew into the Fort Lauderdale Airport and stayed at the Tru by Hilton Hotel in downtown Fort Lauderdale. This worked out great for us! The hotel included free breakfast every morning and was a short distance from local spots like Las Olas Boulevard. The beds were super comfy, the room was clean, and (my kids favorite part) they had a very nice rooftop pool!
On the days leading up to our cruise, we got to visit Butterfly World (about a 30 minute drive from downtown Fort Lauderdale) and the Museum of Science and Discovery (walking distance or a 5 minute drive from the hotel) where I made the newbie mistake of not checking museum reciprocity before our visit. Oops!
We didn’t get to do everything on our “Fort Lauderdale wishlist,” so I’m hoping, next time, we can:
- visit Flamingo World (I’m a self-professed “bird lady”)
- ride the LauderGO! Water Trolley (it’s free, but my kids were cranky)
- visit the beach (again: cranky kids that weren’t used to the Florida temps)
- go on a ghost tour (just because I think ghost tours are fun)
Freedom of the Seas Cruise
The morning of our cruise, the boys and I took a 40 minute Uber ride from the hotel to the Port of Miami. Since this was our first time visiting the Port of Miami (we’d “only” sailed from the New Jersey/New York cruise port before), I did have some anxiety about how things were go. The Miami cruise port is one of the largest and busiest, so I didn’t know what to expect.
You guys. This port completely blew me away. Getting through security was a breeze. Everyone was friendly, efficient, and so focused on getting passengers on board there was only about 15 minutes between stepping out of the Uber to stepping onto the Freedom of the Seas. Impressive!
Our first stop? The Windjammer Buffet on the 11th deck. We all love the variety of foods the Windjammer offers and the fact that we don’t need reservations and don’t need to dress up to enjoy a meal together. The boys were super excited to visit their “favorite restaurant,” so I made them these fun “I’m just here for the Windjammer” t-shirts using my Cricut.
There are a number of dining options available onboard Freedom of the Seas, but I really think we enjoy eating at The Windjammer because it offers a casual atmosphere, has something for everyone, and because we love trying their cultural-themed dishes offered during dinner.
After eating lunch, we were able to go to our stateroom: an interior cabin on the 6th deck. I much prefer a room with a balcony (don’t we all?!), but since this cruise was “only” 4 nights long and the interior price was too good to pass up, we made the best of the situation. Yes, we’re spoiled, I know.
Our room was cozy, but it was clean, well-stocked with towels and toiletries, and we were excited to explore the ship and ports together!
Speaking of ports, we were scheduled to have 2 sea days and 2 port days during this cruise. Port stops were in Nassau, Bahamas and Royal Caribbean’s private island: Perfect Day at CocoCay.
My boys had a blast riding the Perfect Storm water slides, swimming, chilling in the hot tubs (15 minutes at a time while accompanying me, of course), and playing games of mini-golf while on Freedom of the Seas. My youngest wanted to try the Flowrider, but we somehow just missed the time window for his age and skill level. He’ll have to try that next time!
We also enjoyed taking advantage of seemingly unlimited soft-serve ice cream cones (right by the kids area, Splashaway Bay) and filing our plates with tasty tacos, quesadillas, burritos, nachos and more at El Loco Fresh.
Fun fact: We first enjoyed El Loco Fresh while onboard our first Royal Caribbean cruise on Oasis of the Seas. It’s quite possible one of the reasons we selected sailing on the Freedom of the Seas was because of this quick serve dining option!
When we weren’t searching the ship for rubber ducks, we were likely catching a show, listening to live music, or playing a game of cards. Some of the bigger ships require show reservations to be made in advance, but, on Freedom, all of the shows are “first come, first serve.”
On this sailing, we got to see an ice skating show (yes, there’s an ice rink on board!), an amazing vocal performance by Lou Gazzara, and a musical production called “Once Upon a Time.” Do you know how much I would’ve paid to see those shows, individually, off of a cruise ship? Um. A lot. Cruising can provide an incredible bang for your buck!
Even though Freedom has been sailing since 2006 (and refurbished in 2015), I was so happy to see that the interior was in great shape. Furniture seemed to be in nice condition and the beds were comfortable!
After the Cruise
Having to end a cruise experience is really a bummer. How I wish we could just cruise full time, visiting all the countries around the world!
Sidenote: have you heard of Super Mario? He actually lives on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. We haven’t gotten to meet him yet, but maybe one day!
Anyways, disembarking a cruise always happens in the early morning hours. We are not morning people, so it’s not fun for us to wake up at 5:30, but getting to enjoy one last meal in the Windjammer softens the blow.
Since we needed transportation from the Port of Miami to Fort Lauderdale airport and since our flight wasn’t until early evening, I scheduled a post-cruise excursion visiting the Florida Everglades. The excursion included all transportation required with the added “bonus” of an airboat ride to see alligators in their natural habitat. It was so cool!
Worldschooling for the Win
We’re not really full-time worldschoolers, but I’d say we’re pseudo-worldschoolers for sure! Whether traveling down the street to the grocery store or across the world to another continent, there is such incredible value in learning through experiences. I’m so glad we’re able to homeschool so our kids can take advantage of such experiences!
Whether you’re planning a cruise with kids, have homeschooling questions, or you’re looking for some homeschooling tips, definitely consider joining our Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout where we do all of the above and more!
Until next time, stay safe and enjoy quality time with your family,
Elizabeth Dukart is a proud Georgia-based born and raised Jersey Girl, wife, and mom of 2 human boys & 1 canine boy.
Created in 2021, Elizabeth owns and publishes That Homeschool Family: a free resource for homeschooling parents and beyond! A seasoned blogger, Elizabeth previously published a popular location-specific family resource blog, but decided to “Pivot!” her blogging focus after she started homeschooling her two boys in 2020. In addition to this blog, you can follow Elizabeth’s homeschooling and family adventures on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. She can also be found in her Facebook Group: That Homeschool Family Hangout.
When she’s not busy taking over the world or homeschooling, Elizabeth can be found listening to music (especially The Beatles & Harry Styles!), being silly with her boys, watching movies with family, shopping, or traveling!
Have a question or want to work with Elizabeth? Send her an email!