A little background. This cruise was for our 6th anniversary. We cruise nearly every year this week to celebrate and get away. We turn off all cell phones, iPads, etc. and ignore the outside world for a week or two. We also pre-pay tips, shore excursions, and buy Funship dollars ahead of time so we can keep our S&S bill low. Also, we bring cash for our onboard account and spending money, so we do not come home to a credit card bill at the end. We did also purchase photo coupons, drink coupons, and a fruit basket from Bon Voyage. My husband prefers to book Carnival excursions, rather than run the risk of missing the ship, not getting to the port, etc.
We flew from Kansas City to Fort Lauderdale early in the morning, with a watchful eye on Tropical Storm Isaac. We took a quick taxi to Embassy Suites and got settled in for the evening. Behind the hotel is Publix, so we walked there to pick up some champagne and last second needs. We returned to our room and went to the manager's reception, where they have free alcoholic beverages and snacks. Then, we decided to order some pizza from our favorite pizza place in Fort Lauderdale, Paneretto. IMHO, best pizza in the US!
Day 1, August 25, Embarkation day
Well, we woke up the next morning to a pleasant surprise... we could see Port Everglades from our little balcony and there was the Carnival Freedom! Of course, right next to it was the giant of the seas. I was so excited to see my home for the next 8 days! We went to the free breakfast at the hotel, then went back to our room to hang out for a couple hours until we were ready to leave for the port.
We caught a quick taxi to the port around 11am. We had VIP boarding, so we went straight past the line to the VIP section, were escorted to the check-in area, received our S&S cards, and escorted to the escalator. Within 10 minutes of getting to the port, we were on the ship! It was so fast and easy! First stop was the shore excursion desk to book the Behind The Fun Tour. Then onto Lido for fish and chips! BTW, nobody was up there, and the food was awesome! We then walked around the ship and took a few pictures, then hung out at the aft pool since the cover was over it and it was raining just a little bit.
At 1:30 our cabin was ready. We had a junior suite, #9205. Its on the lido deck starboard, very first cabin in the front of the ship. We loved the room! It does have one window that looks out the secret deck, but the door to the deck was locked the first couple days. We could see in the bridge from our balcony, so there is no privacy. The room was perfect though! Very quiet, not too much movement, plenty of room and we each had our own closets! The whirlpool bathtub is a little skinnier than a normal bathtub, but I had no problem with it. It was very clean. Our cabin steward, Sim, was great and always making sure we had ice or whatever else we needed. We never heard any neighbors or noise in the cabin.
We had Your Time Dining, which we also enjoyed. Our waiter, John, the first night was so great that we requested him every night and had no problem being seated for a table for two in his section. We always went to dinner around 6-6:30, and we never waited. However, when we would leave the dining room around 8, there was always a long line.
We went to the Welcome Aboard show. Seen it before, but it was good.
Day 2, Day at Sea
we decided to relax and I went to the lido deck to work on my tan while hubby went to the casino bar to hang out with some new friends.
That evening was our first elegant night. We had a good time, went to dinner and the show. Then off to the casino again. Well, it didn't take long for me to join the players club, so I enjoyed drinks in the casino for the next 7 days!!!! BTW, I actually won some money throughout the cruise.
Tonight we also went to the Punchliner Comedy Club. It was the adult only show, and it was pretty good. It was packed full, and by the time the show started people were standing in the back because there were no seats left. Tip: Get there early!
Day 3, Grand Turk
We got off the ship around 8am, and went to the beach to the right of the port. It was a beautiful morning and we had the beach completely to ourselves for a couple hours. Then we went to Margaritaville for a couple drinks. We had to be back on board at 1:30, so it was a short but wonderful day.
My hubby forgot to put sunscreen on his feet and ankles. Big mistake! He actually ended up with a blistered sunburn on his feet. He was in a lot of pain, and his ankles and feet were really swollen.
Day 4, LaRomana, Dominican Republic
We started the day with a trip to the Medical Office on board because my hubby's feet were so painful. The nurse treated him and they did not charge us to see the doctor. They did charge us $8 for a giant bottle of aloe with lidocaine, and told him to keep his feet covered and away from the sun. With the nurses help we were still able to make our excursion this day.
We booked all of our excursions with Carnival on this vacation. For the DR, we booked the Zipline excursion. It was a great time. We had never done this before and so we were nervous, but it was very safe and the staff was great. It was $35 for a CD of pictures because you are not allowed to take a camera due to safety issues. It was worth it.
Day 5, Curacao
We had booked the Beach Day by Boat excursion. This day was our anniversary and I really wanted to spend it on the beach. Well, hubby's feet were still swollen and blistered and painful. I took our NON-REFUNDABLE excursion tickets to the shore excursion desk. I told them the nurse had told us to avoid the sun and sand and to keep his feet covered. Well, that makes it impossible to enjoy a beach day. Without question, they gave us a full refund for the excursion. I was very grateful because they didn't have to do this, but they took care of us anyway.
We did get off the ship and walk around a little, until the lidocaine wore off DH's feet. We went back to the ship and had dinner onboard. Like I said, it was our anniversary. Carnival did not disappoint. They brought us a piece of cake with candles and sang to us, while making us kiss under a napkin until they stopped singing.
Day 6, Aruba
Today was our Natural Pool Jeep Adventure excursion. This is not for the faint of heart. The terrain is very rocky... we LOVED it! We went to a cave, a park, and the natural pools. It was awesome! Warning, the rocks are extremely slippery, even with water shoes. Also, there is a really big hill to climb back up that is pretty painful. My legs were sore the next day! Afterwards, we drove to a lookout point, but I was way too tired to climb up the stairs, so I shopped at a little store instead. Another warning, you will get very dirty on this excursion. When I washed my hair, the water was like mud! I had dirt in my ears! But it was worth it!
Day 7, Day at Sea
Today, another relaxing day at sea. I didn't really do anything but eat and nap, then eat again. Also, the past guest party was today... if that's what they still call it. It was much improved, and the drinks were strong and plentiful. Tonight when we were seated for dinner, I was told to pick any bottle of wine, compliments of the casino manager.
Tonight was the Beatles show, Ticket to Ride. It started out great, but then they had a technical problem with the lights. After a 10 minute delay, the show continued and it was very good.
Day 8, Day at Sea
Today was the Behind the Fun Tour. We loved it, especially hubby! We saw the main stage and back stage, galley, engine control room, brig and morgue, where the employees live and eat, and also the bridge. Of course, we got our pictures taken with the captain! We also received a little backpack with a hat, lanyard and bracelet, a piece of ivory soap carved like a swan, and a treat delivered to our cabin. It was a great tour, very glad we did it, but wouldn't really feel the need to do it again. Afterwards, we went to lunch, I worked on my sunburn, and took another nap.
Here's the worst part. They told us we had to get off the ship the next morning. How dare they?! They made us pack our belongings. The nerve!
Well, I guess all good things must come to an end. We were in Zone 2 so we were off the ship early and on our way to the airport.