I booked this cruise almost a year ago. It was our family vacation with our 3 children, all in their 20's. We were celebrating our youngest daughter's college graduation. My nephew and his girlfriend and her sister also went. We drove down from North Carolina the day before our cruise. I had read good reviews about the Hampton Inn Plantation. I booked that hotel with stay123 and we were able to park our cars there free during our 8 night cruise. They also have free shuttle service to the port and free shuttle back to the hotel after the cruise. When we arrived at the hotel that night, the earliest shuttle we could get to the port the next day was 1:00. We were disappointed because we like to arrive at the port by 10:30 or 11:00. It all worked out great though because I had forgotten to pack a few things and we had time to go shopping at the mall right behind the hotel and Target next door. The free breakfast was good. It can get a little crowded at breakfast, depending on what time you go down to eat. The hotel was very nice with comfortable beds. We will definitely stay there again if we take a cruise out of Port Everglades.
The shuttle arrived about 12:45 and we went straight to the port. It was raining on the way to the port but by the time we got there, the rain had stopped. It didn't take too long to get on the ship since we were later arriving and we also got to take our luggage straight to our rooms. We booked 3 inside rooms on the Panorama deck. I prefer having a window but will take any room to be on a cruise.
We had the safety drill around 4:00. I was very surprised to hear a few passengers talking the whole time. It was very distracting and hard to concentrate on what was being said. I know the people close to them had trouble even hearing the directions.
The Freedom was a very nice ship. It was very clean and the crew members were very friendly. I guess the only thing I didn't like as well on this ship was the atrium. It didn't seem as large as most of the other Carnival ships we have been on.
The food was good. I am a vegetarian except for fish and found something to eat every night but some nights I didn't care for the vegetarian entrees. About the only fish I like is salmon. They offered it every night but it was broiled and I don't care for broiled salmon. I prefer it grilled. My husband and son loved the flat iron steak. They got it several nights. I always got two starters and sometimes 3. Before the cruise, I had decided not to eat the bread on this cruise but I changed my mind the first night and had it every night. We ate most of our lunches on the Lido deck except for 2 days when we went to the dining room. There were long lines sometimes but nothing too bad. I went to breakfast around 8:30 and the lines were not long at all on the Lido deck. My family definitely misses all the good food we had on the Freedom.
Like I said earlier, the crew was very friendly. Our steward Pande learned our names the first day. He was an excellent steward and kept our room looking nice every morning and evening. Eric was our server and he learned our names the first night. He was very good. Brad was a great cruise director.
The shows were very good. The band was excellent-great players. I didn't go to the comedy shows-never really care for them. Also, missed the talent show and Legends show. I decided that sleep was more important. Ticket to Ride was very good!
Some of our family watched movies at night. I took advantage of going to bed early. I love the Carnival beds. I watched the finals of Dancing with the Stars and American Idol while on the Carnival comfort bed being rocked gently liked a baby. Our family loves to feel the ship roll-it wasn't bad-just enough to relax you while going to sleep. I fell asleep a couple of the times watching my shows on TV-it was so relaxing.
The only bad part of the cruise was my youngest daughter losing her Droid phone. She lost it after a show one night. We went by guest services and called several times but no one turned it in. I called Carnival when we got home and they have all the info and gave me a case number. I am still hoping someone will turn it in. My daughter had it on airplane mode and after looking online, I saw that the airplane mode was turned off about 3 days after our cruise was over. We don't want to have to buy a new phone, so I hope the person who took it off airplane mode with return it.
There were no children running wild like I have read in other reviews. The children were all well behaved on our cruise. There were not a lot of children because most schools were still in session. Children have never bothered me, even when we used to go in the summer.
We had been to all the ports before except for Antigua.
In St. Thomas, we went to Sapphire Beach. It was $8.00 p/p one way in a taxi (van). It was a pretty beach but not my favorite. Our youngest daughter met up with a college friend who was on the Dream. She went on a city tour with her friend's family. After the beach, we went to town and shopped for an hour.
In Antigua, we were going to go to Long Bay Beach but decided to save money and go to Dickenson's Bay. It was only $3.00 p/p one way by taxi. Long Bay was going to be $8.00 p/p one way. My nephew rented a catamaran for an hour-he does a lot of sailing in his home town. It was $50 for an hour and 4 could get on it. Dickenson Bay is next to the Sandals. All the beaches are free. There were a lot of locals trying to sell us things. I just kept telling them "no thank you".
Tortola was our favorite port. We took a taxi to Brewer's Bay. It was the best place to snorkel of the 3 beaches we went to. You can rent snorkel equipment there. Some of our group took their own. It was not crowded at all. It is a beautiful 15 minute ride to the beach. The price was $8.00 p/p one way in taxi. The taxi drivers at St. Thomas, Antigua and Tortola asked us what time we wanted to be picked back up and they were all 3 back by the time we told them. Tortola does not have good shopping at the port like the others. I was disappointed with the shopping there but it was definitely our favorite port.
Nassau is the only port we do not care for. If we go there again, I will stay at the port and shop because there are a lot of stores there. We took a water taxi to the Atlantis. We waited on the water taxi at least 30 minutes before we left for the Atlantis which is about 10 minute ride. Some people were getting very angry with the people who worked on the water taxi. I wasn't happy but I was not going to be rude to the people. They are probably told to wait till the taxi is full before leaving. We didn't stay over there very long. I would advise just taking a regular taxi if you want to go to the Atlantis. It is a lot faster.
We carried our luggage off ourselves so we could get off earlier. We called the Hampton Inn Plantation before we went through customs and it was at the shuttle pick up area by the time we walked there. Do not try to call them before 8:00. One couple tried to call them after 7:00 a.m. but no one answered. Do not park under a palm tree. We had to go to a car wash before we left Ft. Lauderdale and we had ants all in our car.
Hope this review will help anyone trying to decide about the Freedom. Excuse any mistakes I may have made typing-typed most of it when I was tired at night.
Carnival is a great cruise line with the best prices. The Freedom is a very nice ship. We booked on board for our next cruise on the Breeze next May. It will be our 10th Carnival cruise-we look forward to being VIP's. Thank you Carnival for another GREAT family vacation!!!