We booked this cruise as a birthday present for our son with Down Syndrome. We wanted his 21st birthday to be a fun memory and thought that a Carnival cruise might just be the answer. We booked a weekend instead of a week, because we weren't sure cruising would suit him...we should have booked two weeks!
We parked at the parking garage next to the ship, $60 for four nights, very convenient. We were on the ship in thirty minutes, it was noon on Thursday, seemed like we were getting some extra value, an extra half day...free! We went right up to the pool deck for a burger and fry lunch, the lemonade was just right for the hot humid weather. After lunch we headed to the pool deck where they were doing some line dancing, electric slide stuff... Devin headed down the steps as we sat and watched. After ten minutes they cleared the deck for a dance show put on by the "Fun Crew", two young athletic male break dancers. We expected Devin to sit back and watch, but he started mimicking the dance moves. They were really great about letting Devin have a bit of their spotlight, and the ship's video camera captured it all. For the next 24 hours, the ShipTV channel played the tape, and Devin was getting noticed everywhere he went! He felt like a "rock star", everyone asked him where he would be dancing next!
Our room was fine, the steward always had everything looking perfect, no matter how we left it. It was two twins with a fold down bunk, we put everything into drawers and closets and stacked the luggage in the corner at the end of our bed. More closet space would have been great, but we booked an ocean view not a suite! Our balcony room on the Carnival Freedom, was the perfect size for an eight day cruise.
I am writing this review just to say thank you to Carnival and to the wonderful people that we met on the ship! Everyone from crew to guest were so kind to Devin, always encouraging him to have fun and joining him for a quick dance as they passed by. We had early dinner at a table for six in the Destiny dining room. The food was always plentiful and delicious, we tried to eat things that we wouldn't normally cook at home and Devin is open to trying anything, he loves seafood so there was always something interesting for him to try at every meal. The famous chocolate melting cake was the dessert of choice each evening.
Cozumel was our port day, we didn't book an excursion, deciding instead just to walk around a bit at the pier and shop at all the Mexican shops. We had fun, bought some silver and trinkets for me and Angie. Devin of course made friends at every shop and ran into people that recognized him from the ship....rock star! He wanted RED Python Cowboy boots...Down Syndrome doesn't make him stand out in a crowd quite enough, he needed bright red boots! He got them with a matching red and black hat, made a few new friends and we headed back to the ship to get ready for dinner... should have booked late seating... note to self. Dinner was great, the shows were all very good, but we were surprised that there wasn't a scheduled performance on the Cozumel night. We did book the "behind the scenes" tour for only $55 each. That was a fascinating tour. We spent two and a half hours, checking out the galley, laundry, below deck storage and all the things that make the ship work. We met many of the crew, learned quite a few facts about shipboard life, and the tough schedules many of the crew endure. It is amazing that they are still smiling all the time. We met one of the dancers when we toured the dressing room behind the stage, his story was very interesting... He remembered Devin and looked for him at the show that night and included him in the Macarena, a huge hit with Devin!
This ship had so much energy, it didn't feel like one of the older ships, the friendly crew had a lot to do with that! We will be back soon, I just hope that a week long Eastern Itinerary can have the great vibe this weekend cruise out of Tampa had! We spent every evening enjoying the music of "Tradition", the Filipino band that rocked until way past midnight. They helped make this a great memory for all of us, and a special thanks to the fellow cruisers that touched our hearts with their kindness towards our son. Devin was born to spread Love, and cruising seems to be his "thing"! See you soon on a Carnival cruise!