This was our 7th Carnival cruise and first over a Holiday period. I was skeptical with 8 ships departing Ft. Lauderdale on Nov. 17th. We stayed at the Ft. Lauderdale Courtyard Marriott airport cruise port. They provide airport pickup and delivery but only cruise port embarkation. We made the mistake of using Star Transportation for debarkation. Don't do that. Waited 1.5 hours to get back to the motel. Just take a cab if your motel is close.
Walked right through Embarkation to our waiting zone. Crowd control and loudspeaker announcements were a little inadequate in the terminal however once we were called we walked right on the ship. Ships crew and service were excellent throughout the cruise. Just DO NOT cut your port departure times close they will get understandably grumpy! We had a 3:30 be on the ship time and our Carnival purchased excursion returned at 3:30 with a 20 minute walk to the ship. The Carnival crew didn't think we were moving fast enough. All ports were great first time stops!
Entertainment was excellent with marked improvement over some previous cruises. Understand this could just be the Freedom. Piano bar "Scott" was a frequent stop. Very engaging. Main shows were equally great and entertaining.
Dining room "Your Time" dining was the way to go for us. Only waited past 10 min. one time and received and apology later from the dining room. Food was markedly improved over 4 years ago. Better quality and selections. No real turkey or pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. Did I need it? NO.
Cabin service and cleanliness were also excellent. Our steward would always greet us with a smile and good morning! We would do this cruise again in a heartbeat!!