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Explorer vs. Freedom


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Can anyone that has cruised on both the Explorer of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas give me a comparison? My family has sailed twice on the FOS and have absolutely loved it. The ship was perfect, and would love to do it again.

 

Being that we are from Pennsylvania, and have 5 people traveling, it can be quite expensive to fly to Florida. Also, we usually tend to travel in January in order to get out of the cold, so therefore fly down 2 days ahead of time in case bad weather would cancel or delay our flight, which adds 2 nights of hotel stays. Add in transportation to and from the airport, plus meals while in Florida and we are already out $2000 or so before we even board.

 

Another alternative would be to simply drive the 3 hours and take the Explorer of the Seas out of NJ. Of course we would have parking and tolls, but those would pale in comparison to the other charges listed above.

 

Can anyone that has traveled on both give me a comparison. My wife and I are both in our 30's, traveling with an 18, 13 and 10 year old. Is there as much to do on the ship? Will we notice a big difference in the size of the ship? Any help is appreciated!

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Have sailed on both and they are more similar than not.

 

Sailing out of NJ in the winter, you will have about 1.5 cold days going south and about the same coming back north. Can't enjoy the outside pool deck much.

 

Will not have flow rider on Explorer or the kids water park area. The promenade is a bit shorter on Explorer. Sorrentos and Cafe promenade are combined.

 

Cabin sizes are about the same. Balconies on Explorer are part of the infrastructure, therfore surrounded by steel, and the railing is half steel, half plexiglass.

 

Most of the public areas are about the same.

Dining rooms, theatre, lounges....

 

My DH says that Freedom class is just Voyager class on steroids.

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Dining rooms, theatre, lounges....

 

On Freedom, I will add the Solarium is a bit bigger with a slightly larger pool. The Windjammer is also a bit bigger and just from perception is one of the larger ones passenger vs seating in the fleet.

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Thanks for both replies so far, I appreciate it. We are looking at our next cruise possibly in May 2014 (Good Lord that is so long away!) I'm sure the temperatures should be a lot better than January obviously, but maybe not warm enough to be out by the pool for a day down, and back. Maybe we could make it up by doing a 9 or 10 day cruise instead of a 7. With what we save in travel costs we would be able to afford it!

 

I haven't done the Flow Rider, and don't plan on it, and our kids are old enough that they don't need the Splash Zone, so we would be ok there.

 

Our main areas of the ship that we enjoy most are the pool, Promenade, Wind Jammer, casino and Main Dining room. It sounds like both ships are comparable in those areas.

 

Is the overall appearance of the ship seem to be up to date and well kept? That's also another thing that makes the FOS as nice as it is. They seem to do a good job of keeping it clean.

 

Any more opinions would be appreciated!

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Our main areas of the ship that we enjoy most are the pool, Promenade, Wind Jammer, casino and Main Dining room. It sounds like both ships are comparable in those areas.

 

Is the overall appearance of the ship seem to be up to date and well kept? That's also another thing that makes the FOS as nice as it is. They seem to do a good job of keeping it clean.

 

Any more opinions would be appreciated!

 

We've never sailed on the Freedom but have sailed several times on the Explorer. The ship is very well maintained. It is kept very clean. The crew is very friendly and accommondating.

 

If you sail in May you can book an itinerary that includes Bermuda, something that you can't do when sailing out of Florida. We've done the 9 night Bermuda and the Caribbean cruise and really enjoyed it. Bermuda is so different from the Caribbean islands.

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Thanks for both replies so far, I appreciate it. We are looking at our next cruise possibly in May 2014 (Good Lord that is so long away!) I'm sure the temperatures should be a lot better than January obviously, but maybe not warm enough to be out by the pool for a day down, and back. Maybe we could make it up by doing a 9 or 10 day cruise instead of a 7. With what we save in travel costs we would be able to afford it!

 

I haven't done the Flow Rider, and don't plan on it, and our kids are old enough that they don't need the Splash Zone, so we would be ok there.

 

Our main areas of the ship that we enjoy most are the pool, Promenade, Wind Jammer, casino and Main Dining room. It sounds like both ships are comparable in those areas.

 

Is the overall appearance of the ship seem to be up to date and well kept? That's also another thing that makes the FOS as nice as it is. They seem to do a good job of keeping it clean.

 

Any more opinions would be appreciated!

 

I've been on both as well, and have been on Explorer 6 or 7 times. Your main areas of concern are definitely comparable. There is not a HUGE enough difference in those areas on both of the ships.

 

Explorer is still a beautiful, shiny ship! You'll find that maybe some of the furniture looks a bit worn, but that's if you look for it. She is still a beauty. And we LOVE the extra few days onboard Explorer versus having to fly to go on Freedom (although I do love that ship as well!). If you really don't want to fly, I wouldn't hesitate one second to go on Explorer! :)

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I was advised against sailing out of explorer in January for the reasons mentioned -- it would be cold the first day and a half and last day and a half, meaning 3/7 days would be cold! Kind of a bummer when a perk of january cruising is to get AWAY from the cold :P

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Been on Explorer many times and on Liberty(same as Freedom) twice. Other then the flowrider and the Freedom being longer the main difference is the elevators. Both ships have the same number of elevators but the number of people using them is greater on the Freedom class. We rarely use the elevators but the waiting crowds made it difficult to walk past the elevators. We prefer the Explorer.

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Those days going to and from the Caribbean via the Atlantic on the Explorer can entail substantial ship movement. I loved Explorer, but if any of you guys are bad about motion sickness, and hard to treat for it, might be a factor.

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Having been on both of the ships, I would add that the casino is bigger on the FOS. Also, the FOS has fresh water pools and whirlpools. This makes a big difference to my 12 year old daughter. Also, she really enjoys the H2oZone that the FOS has. Enjoy!

Bill

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I've been on them both..EX about 11 times..:eek::p and Freedom once, in November.

 

I loved both ships...however, i will say that i prefer the crew on EX overall....hard to explain, but I personally didn't really feel the love...also, our dinner arrangements were a little odd...we usually have MTD, but same time, same table on EX....

 

On FR, we had trouble with this, and overall I wasn't happy with the MDR.

 

That said, I had a splendid time on Freedom...beautiful ship and I don't think you could go wrong with either...

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We sailed on the Explorer in October. She was a beautiful ship and had lots to do. For the children they have inline skate area, ice skating, rock wall and mini golf. All of the public areas are nicely done and you will not be disappointed. Also, they added the freestyle Coke machines in October. [a nice feature for the kiddos]

 

One surprise for us was that the Solarium was not an indoor pool.:eek:

 

This would be an issue for me leaving New Jersey in the winter.

 

I agree with the person that said you will get motion on the ocean in winter. Every time we have taken a winter cruise from Baltimore we run into a storm or stron winds around North Carolina. We now avoid leaving Baltimore in the winter. [i am sure NJ is very similar]

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We sailed on Explorer Dec 22nd and made it to the pool on our second day. Watch out for the seas around Cape Hatteras. It was a little rough going down (Day 1) and really really rough on the way back January 3rd-70 MPH winds and 30 ft waves. (This I think was unusual as photos were for sale showing the waves crashing on the bow of the ship).

Great ship & I would sail from NJ again.

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The EX has an indoor hot tub in the fitness center which is very nice if the weather is cool.

 

Like Meg I have been on the EX many times and on the Freedom once last November. I found that there was more walking on Freedom because it was a longer ship. Despite the fact that the cruise terminal in Port Canaveral is gorgeous, there was a lot of walking to get into the terminal, checked in and onto the ship. Bayonne is an ugly port, but I find the terminal to be much easier because it is small. I prefer taking the shuttle bus to the gangway and entering directly to the elevators on deck 1 over all the walking just to enter the ship on deck 4 in FL.

 

I'd also rather take a 9 day cruise from Bayonne than spend two days in the airline system going back and forth to FL.

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We have sailed both and have kids the same age as yours......the main differences for us were the flowrider (which was huge for our kids) and how the kids club was run (which changes frequently from ship to ship).

 

Our kids missed the Freedom and wouldn't want to do the Explorer again but this was because it lacked the flowrider. If not having the flowrider isn't a big deal to your kids, I think you will be fine.

 

The other thing that bothered our kids was having too many sea days, this was not helped by, at that time, poorly run kids clubs.

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I have been on the Explorer 6 times and about to go on the Freedom for the 5th time. I personally like the Freedom better than the Explorer, but I love them both. I enjoy the balcony much better on the Freedom, love the flowrider, I like the casino better. I love the idea of driving to the port instead of flying to Florida. The NJ cruises in the winter were 9 nighters, so the first day and half the promenade is very crowded, on the way back it is crowded on the last day. I would prefer the crowds for 2 days and colder weather (9 nights) over flying and hotel for a 7 nighter. If RCI ever puts a flowrider ship in NJ it will be goodbye Florida, except for my short cruise getaways. Whatever you choose I am suee you will enjoy it.

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My 2 cents have been on Explorer several times and the freedom sister ship Liberty. Like them both but I agree with Meg Explorer has more of a family feel. Didnt get the same feeling with the Liberty. As for the kids program we did it on the explorer and our grandkids loved it and didnt want to leave. We have sailed the Explorer in Nov and Feb and used the outdoor areas by the first full day at sea. We have always had great weather and no storms so its all with the weather gods! Which ever will be great. I too prefer extra sea days to traveling.

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Wow, thanks for all the responses. From the sounds of things, we really won't be disappointed one bit with the Explorer, especially if it is well kept, and the crew is as nice as everyone says. I think it is worth a couple extra rough days at sea instead of spending all that money on transportation costs. Who wouldn't rather spend 2 extra days on a ship instead of an airport or hotels?

 

I thought that Port Canaveral was pretty easy to get on and off the ship, but from everything I've read here, most people don't have a problem with Bayonne either.

 

We've also never been to Bermuda, so would be excited to check that out as well.

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LOVE the explorer and the convienience of leaving from nj. went on a cruise 2 years ago in january and only the first and last days were chilly. we have friends from NC that frequent carnival coming with us on our explorer cruise in march and im hoping that they really like RC. if that is the case ive been interested in doing the FOS as a comprimise for both of us as far as travel and the FOS struck me as a larger explorer.

-Roger

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No one has mentioned this, but the passengers will be a lot of repeat customers, and most will be from the Washington to Boston area, whereas those leaving out of Florida will be from all over.

 

I found it a lot of fun mixing with the Washington, Baltimore, Philly, NY, Boston/NE folks, many experienced cruisers, made for a good time.

 

And 9 days is perfect, so nice having 2 relaxing sea days on the way home.

 

And as mentioned, the crew is excellent.

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