We were on Freedom May 12. The previous sailing had an outbreak of intestinal problems so we were delayed as they cleaned the ship. There were four of us and we weren't too concerned. We figured that during our sailing the ship would be about as clean as it gets. During the entire cruise crew members were cleaning.
The embarkation was delayed because of the problems. We were bussed to a resort where they had a cold cut buffet and movies. We were bussed back to the ship 5 minutes prior to the end of Avatar -- did the good guys win? In spite of the problems, embarkation was smooth and the ship departed only one hour late -- amazing.
We enjoyed the ship. We have been on the Valor, which is the same class, and Freedom is laid out a little different, but very familiar after Valor. I have read on this site where people complained about the decor, which is a little schizophrenic. It never hurt my eyes or upset my stomach and reminded me of every other ship and Vegas hotel I've seen. The basic services were all excellent -- The Mongolian Grill was particularly good, the omelet stations rarely had lines, and we looked forward to the evening meal in the dining room. We chose anytime dining and only once had to wait about 10 minutes for a seat. I was amused at how hard crew members worked to say our names. After a while it becomes obvious this is a corporate mandate rather than driven by genuine interest. Nonetheless, the ship and crew provided a good experience.
Our first port was Key West. We spent the day sightseeing using the Trolley for transportation. The Trolley was a good experience. We went to the top of the lighthouse which has a great view of the island, had fish-of-the-day at a local restaurant, ate key lime pie on a stick (over-rated), and generally enjoyed the warm weather. There were four of us from Wyoming and we had frost on the ground the morning we left for the cruise -- and we came back to snow. So my comments are obviously skewed.
Our second port was Grand Cayman. We booked a cheap excursion (by Carnival standards) to Tiki Beach on seven mile beach. We booked through Carnival simply for convenience. My wife, who doesn't swim, wanted to try snorkeling, and there is a reef right off shore where beginners like us can be in shallow water. We saw colorful fish. This worked well for us as beginners. We learned a couple years ago in Belize that you don't just throw people from Wyoming into the sea. They talked my wife into snorkeling from the boat rather than the beach and they were more persuasive than I was. Belize was a short snorkel attempt.
Our third port was Jamaica. We booked the Cool Runnings excursion to Dunn's River Falls. It was an excellent excursion. We climbed the falls which took about 45 minutes. The guides are experienced and keep people moving. It wasn't too difficult (we are all in our 50s) and quite fun. I read about aggressive vendors, but we didn't encounter any vendors there at all. We were there about 10am which might be too early for island life. We walked to a shopping area right off the terminal where we encountered a lot people selling lots of stuff. If your shopping experience is primarily US-based, then vendors in Mexico or Jamaica seem quite aggressive, which they are. We just say "no" and move on.
Debarkation was easy. We book our flight for later in the day so we can enjoy breakfast and not worry about how fast we are off the ship. This was our fourth Carnival cruise and we've enjoyed them all.