DH and I wanted to go on a cruise to celebrate our anniversary. Seems Carnival was the only option available to satisfy our time frame. After the miserable experience from the last Carnival cruise, we weren't expecting much more than the "Hairy Chest Contest" and other tasteless forms of group participation entertainment. However we proceeded with the reservations...with reservations (pun intended).
We arrived at the port early expecting to board by noon. As has been the case with several ships in the recent past, Carnival Freedom was a "sick" ship and needed a through disinfecting. We were happy to get a seat for the long wait and eventually boarded by 3:30pm. Made it to lunch and then to the room but, no luggage. Met our room steward who promised to locate our luggage immediately as all others on our deck now had theirs. 3 hours later he shows up asking if the bags he was carrying looked like ours...dudh...it has our cabin number on the luggage tag. Oh well I thought, it's Carnival. During our "walk about" earlier I took note of the decor OMG!!! I have never seen so many contrasting prints and colors in one space before, especially in the food service areas. Downright garish and somewhat comical but, I thought, hey, it's Carnival.
Now, on with vacation.
An announcement made stated that reservations made in the Sun King specialty restaurant on the first night of the cruise included a complementary bottle of wine. I'm not sure if this is offered on all cruises so check when you board. We took advantage of this and glad we did. This meal was well worth the $30 per person. An excellent experience in an elegant environment. Don't miss it.
First day was Key West. We visited the Mel Fisher Museum. If you are interested in that sort of thing make sure you go. Also walked to the "Southern Most Point" for a photo, by way of Sloppy Joe's for a beverage or two. Had originally planed the Ernest Hemingway Home tour, but after doing research on line felt I had already seen it. Purchased a "Conch Republic" flag at a street market and headed back to the ship.
Second day was a sea day and first formal night. Many photographers set up areas with various backdrops for all the photos you may want. Have now realized just how many venues this ship has for drinking, dancing and laughing. Yes, a good time. My DH wanted to give some dollars to the casino so I opted to grab some pizza at the "all niter" and catch the movie at the huge outdoor movie screen. Very enjoyable and a great "chick flick" too.
Just a note here, the food is basic cruise food. I've had better pizza on other ships and the chocolate melting cake was the best I have had on this one...all three times! There are plenty of choices, and if you can't find something that suites your taste, well,you might just drop a few pounds! Oh yeah...the gym is great. The sauna actually has a large window looking over the water. Nice touch.
Grand Cayman was day 3. We chose the Sting Ray City tour. REALLY GREAT. Amazing to be in the water with 50 or so of your new best friends and have these huge sting rays swimming around. And the water was beautiful! Note...BTW, don't forget to bring an underwater camera. The camera area on board sells a refillable underwater disposable camera (I know, I know..an oxymoron...)for under $20 and 27 shots, but no additional film. The camera has 800 speed in it but 400 might work well too. I blew through the entire roll of film on the sting rays so you might want to bring an extra roll.
Jamaica (mahn) was our next stop. We decided to do the tubing on the White River. It was a bit of a van ride to the point where we entered the river but the guide was very informative and gave us much information on the area. Float down this beautiful clear blue river surrounded by luscious flora in individual closed bottom inner tubes as the entertaining guide sings reggae tunes. I was concerned that I didn't bring any water shoes (which they do sell there) but if you can walk barefoot in a bit of lose gravel you'll do fine. There is a "local" that will take photos of everyone from certain areas along the river available to purchase. Great pictures on a CD...7 for $25. Hey, come on, spring for it and help their economy. Stopped by Margaritaville on the way back to the boat for a few beverages and an always good time. Make sure to check your departure time as we left this port earlier than others.
Last day was another sea day, formal night and pack your bags night. A very cloudy day however, relaxing by the pool. Also attended the cooking demonstration in the Sun King Restaurant. Excellent!!! And samples of all they prepared were available to taste as well as most of the recipes. Get there early. It fills up quickly.
Leaving the ship was trouble free. We had an 11am flight so we requested to leave with the first group. Had the porter gather our bags, grabbed a taxi and headed to the airport. Yes, we had a great time. Cabin was great, food was ok, entertainment on board was spectacular, hairy chest contest is still disgusting, and I can't wait to take my next CARNIVAL CRUISE!