6 day Southern Caribbean Cruise out of Fort Lauderdale: Carnival has an expedient embarkation process. The lines progressed quickly and before we knew it, we were on board.
Our fist impression was a bit of a shock, I suppose it was in part due to the massive and seemingly starving crowd at the buffet upon arrival on board the ship. Fellow passengers at the buffet physically bumping and pushing into each other without acknowledging or apology seemed rather rude to say the least. We were relieved to find attitudes becoming more pleasant, considerate and polite in the proceeding days. I don't have a problem with 'casual attire' in fact I'm on vacation and prefer it...but some people take it to extremes!! It was not uncommon to see passengers at the Lido breakfast buffet line looking as though they just crawled out of bed; shuffling about in pajamas or/and bathrobes. I began to think I was on a ship filled with the 'Honey Boo Boo' cast or rejects from the 'Swamp People' Show. More
ok...enough said, you got the picture, point made. **And On to the Good Stuff!!!
The crew was awesome, polite and ever so hard working. They go above and beyond to keep the ship sparkling clean. The staterooms are well laid out and the bed was comfortable. The washroom vanity basket contained small but convenient samples of shampoo, conditioner and toothpaste. Our room was on Lido deck (#9) and the way the ship is laid out, we had no problems with noise or traffic in halls.
The food at the Lido Buffet had excellent choices, I especially liked the Indian food selection and the fish and chip restaurant on the 10th deck. The Chocolate Buffet, which was held during one of our sea days, was outstanding. It was both a pleasing presentation for the eyes and the palate! Our evening meal was in the Posh dining room. The food was better than I expected, the beef was delicious and cooked to order. The seafood was also very good. The service was outstanding, Jensen was our head waiter. It amazes me that the dining room staff work so hard to remember the diner's names.
The entertainment on board was great. The "Beatlemania Show" on the last night was very worthwhile seeing. We found there was plenty to do the ship; entertainment in the piano bar, disco, main lobby and the outdoor big screen tv.
Disembarkation from the ship to shore: Our luggage was outside our door before midnight of the disembarkation day. We had plenty of time to enjoy our final breakfast with time to return to the room to freshen up and leave with our carry on luggage. The whole disembarkation procedure is quick and well organized. Less
Carnival Freedom Cruises to the Southern Caribbean
After a full day at sea our next port is Georgetown, Grand Cayman's. We didn't have an excursion arranged but there were plenty of well organized van/taxis at the port. We quickly boarded the van. On the 10-15 minute drive into town, our driver; a friendly and knowledgeable gentleman gave us passengers a brief history on Grand Caymans. We felt safe and comfortable exploring the jewelry shops, coffee shops and souvenir shops. I highly recommend the Guy Harvey Shop. Check out the "John Hardy" Jewelery in the Shops.
Our first port of Key West was very enjoyable. There is no need for a taxi, with most shopping and sightseeing with in walking distance. Safe and easy to walk from the port and explore the town and all it has to offer. So much to see and very relaxing to tour Key West.
Our next port was Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Having never been to Jamaica, I was so excited and looking forward to it. I thought it would be the highlight of the trip. Unfortunately, Ocho Rios did not live up to my expectations....from the minute we stepped off the port, we were hustled and hounded by aggressive local entrepreneurs and 'so called' taxi drivers. If you do get a taxi; #1. don't trust them, #2 ask for a rate before you get inside and ask if that the total fare or "per person", did I say 'don't trust them'? Oh, and don't eat at Momma Marley's Bar, you'll be overcharged $5.00 for a tiny (single serving)Styrofoam cup of coffee and they have no cream or milk they serve it with powdered coffeemate.
Ocho Rios is such a scenic island and I believe it has a lot to offer. If ever I return, I'd highly recommend doing a guided excursion as the only comfortable and safe method to see the island.