Hello ... I'm not normally one that does reviews but I wanted to get a couple of points out there and figured this was the best way to do it. First, we arrived at Port Canaveral 2 days early for a wedding. Since the wedding was Saturday, we had plenty of time to relax and start our vacation. We did have dinner at Fishlips on Saturday night and really, really, REALLY enjoyed it. The food was MUCH better than I remember last time and we had a great server. I'm terrible with names so I can't tell you to ask for her.
We stayed 2 nights pre cruise at the Radisson Resort at the Port. We have stayed there before and really like it. Everyone there is friendly and helpful. We'll definitely stay there again. Great little tiki bar and a very nice pool/hot tub to get me into Cruise Mode!!
We had rented a car from Avis for the trip down. It was inexpensive and pretty new. We pre paid that so we just dropped it off on Sunday and off we went. We waited a few minutes for their shuttle and headed to port.
I will tell you that this was the easiest and quickest boarding we have ever experienced. We got to port right at 11. Once we checked in we went straight on board. The only time we stopped was for our photo. Kudos to the staff and the port authority at Port Canaveral. Many of our other sailings (ahem - Fort Lauderdale) could learn from PC.
The cruise was absolutely wonderful. Calm seas and sunny, mid 80s the whole time. We sailed mid March and it was a wonderful break from the cold weather at home.
In Haiti, we went over to Columbus Cove. It's the farthest beach from where we dock and they have a bar and your own lunch picnic area. We found it to be much less crowded than last time.
In Jamaica, we used KnowJamaica dot com ... Javia, our tour guide, is also a friend (since we have used them so many times). I HIGHLY recommend using this company. Marva Shaw is wonderful and she has trained her son Javia as well. He kept us away from the aggressive people that everyone complains about in Jamaica. We had enough time to swing by Margaritaville for my tee shirt, but not enough time to have lunch this day ... BOO :(
In Grand Cayman we went to Stingray City again. Sotos Cruises is a very small, family run group, that really bent over to make us happy. They were punctual, very reasonable, and we had as much time to hang out with the stingrays as we wanted. Then went over to a reef area to snorkel. All in all it was a great experience. After our swims, we did have time to go to Margaritaville for lunch. If you don't already know this, I'm a Parrothead and feel like I Must go to Margaritaville when given the option.
In Cozumel we always go to Mr. Sanchos. As always, it's a wonderful day. This time we had 16 in our group and were treated like royalty. If anyone wants a nice beach to hang out and relax, I will always recommend this place!!
Some other points ... My friend Linda (Norberts Niece) surprised me on this trip. She has a Gluten Allergy. I found that while the GF foods didn't always appeal to her, the staff really went out of their way to make her happy. I really don't think I've ever seen so many high ranking officers come to my table to check on one person before. I found the service absolutely wonderful.
Other than a couple people that looked like they were having a bad day, everyone on the Freedom was really wonderful. They were happy and friendly.
Sunday came and we were getting off the ship. Maybe we were just lucky but we walked down to the "meeting area" with our luggage and were whisked right through to customs. We met at 730 and were on the shuttle once everyone was assembled.
A note about the shuttle. We had pre arranged for a shuttle through Travelynx. This was all pre paid for 14 people. 4 of the people that had paid for their trip back decided to take alternate transportation to the airport. I went to the desk to let them know that our group could take a smaller van. Now remember, we've pre paid for 14. They put us in a smaller van ... that's fine. THEN they add 2 people to the van so we're all squished in. Now I've paid for the 14. Are these 2 extras that they squeezed in riding for free? I don't think so. I left with a very bad taste in my mouth considering I had paid for 14 seats. It's not like FLL where it's a 10 minute ride. This is almost an hour!!
Anyway, I can't recommend this company and will use someone else the next time. FYI, I did send an email this morning asking about their policy. I told her that I wanted to clarify the policy before I posted a review here. This just made the ending a little bumpy. I felt like they were "double dipping" ... the response was that their "procedure out at the port is to get everyone to the airport as best as possible."