We (DH and I) flew to Fort Lauderdale 2 days prior to our 1/26/2013 sailing of the Freedom. We stayed at the Hyatt Place near the Convention Center. A shuttle picked us up at the airport about 5 minutes after I called. The Hyatt is a nice place close to a lot of restaurants and shops including Total Wine and a Publix.
The hotel does offer a shuttle to the port for $7 a person but we opted to take a taxi so we didn't have to wait for people to board the shuttle along with not having to go to all the different ships for people to get off. The taxi was about $12 plus tip.
We arrived at the Freedom about 11. There were no long lines and we were on board by 11:45. Our cabin would not be ready until 1:30 we were told. I had read the fish and chips on deck 10 was really good so we went there for lunch. I was disappointed. The fish was heavily breaded and tasted like it came out of a box from the freezer section of a grocery store. The fries were good.
We then went to check our dining assignment - had requested a table for 2 at the early seating (6p.m.) which we got. By now it was after 1 and we decided to go to our cabin and drop our carry ons. We had an aft extended balcony next to the wrap around. We ran into our cabin attendant, Ren, who said she needed to dust yet. We dropped our carry on's and left to explore the ship, returning to our room about 3 p.m. We unpacked our carry on's at about 4 we had the life boat drill. After we went back to our cabin and opened the champagne we brought on and went out on our balcony. Our checked baggage came a little before sail away which was about 5 p.m. After unpacking it was time to get ready for dinner.
Our wait staff introduced himself, Gill and his assistants. We found the food to be very good in the dining room. Service was a little slow but it seemed to me the wait staff had more tables then I remember.
We had 2 sea days before arriving at our first port. On those days we went to the Serenity deck. It wasn't hard to find a lounge chair but the clam shells were all taken by 7 a.m. We also spent time on our balcony. DH had a hot stone massage. We don't gamble so did not spend time in the casino. We did go to only one evening show - a tribute to the Beatles. For me the best part of that was seeing the clips of the Beatles and listening to them singing prior to the show starting. The show was okay.
Our first port was St. Thomas, we had been there before, so took a cab to Coral World Ocean Park. Checked out the aquariums and other displays - I think the cab was $20 one way and price of Coral World was $19. When we got back to Charlottee Amalie, we did a little shopping. By the way we docked at Crown Bay instead of Haversight and there were 6 ships in port.
The next day was Antigua - there we walked and took a city bus for $3 for two of us to Nelson's Dockyard. Went through the museum and shops and walked around than back to town. ($7 admission to Nelson's dockyard). We shopped a little there too before getting back on board.
Tortola was our next port and we had thought of going to the Baths but were tired and so we just shopped in the Road Town Area and walked quite a bit exploring the area.
Following a sea day, we arrived at Nassau. Here we took a taxi ($4 a person) to Paradise Island and Atlantis. We paid $40 a person to go through the Dig- Which is an aquarium. It was interesting but I thought Coral World was just as nice. We were able to walk around the grounds of Atlantis but not use the beach or water park. Then back to town and a little shopping.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale about 5:30 a.m. We had a 9:15 debarkation number according to our documents but didn't get called until around 11:30. This was due to customs taking an incredibly long time checking passports, forms, etc.
I would say they must have been looking for something or someone specific as we have cruise out of Port Everglades 6 times and never had such a delay.
We rented a car from Budget, Quay location. They pick you up at the port. Then we spent the night at the Sheraton Suites in Plantation and flew home late afternoon the next day.
All in all this was a great cruise - probably my second favorite of the Carnival cruises we have taken and it ranks close to Holland America.
The crew was professional, friendly, greeting us by our first names.
We are already looking at cruising on the Breeze next January.