We enjoyed our time very much on this 6 day western caribbean cruise on the Freedom! I would recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone!
Food: The food on this ship was by far the best Ive had on a cruise ship (NCL or Carnival). Weve tended to skip the lido deck buffet if at all possible because weve previously found the food to be cold by the time you actually sit down to eat it, but this was not the case with the Freedoms buffet! Maybe they didnt have the AC turned way up like the other ships or something who knows, but the buffet was always hot and tasty, with good varieties! I love the ranch dressing and croutons for the salad yum yum! We ordered room service breakfast most days, it was always prompt. Its basic, yes, but it worked! My only minor complaint was that the Posh restaurant didnt serve traditional lunch like other ships...it was just brunch, and it always seemed to not work out with our schedule. Also, we found that the Posh/Chic were not open for lunch on embarkation day that was a bummer at first because wed had poor experiences with the lido buffet, but it turned out to be fine.
Room: We were in balcony room 7369. The room is a standard balcony room for Carnival, and having sailed on CCL before in balcony cabins, we knew what to expect. Everything was very neat, clean and well maintained. We love having a balcony!! Were not big into the late night bar scene and tend to just veg out most of the cruise, so a balcony is a must for us since we do spend so much time in the cabin. The shower (ah, yes, the infamous CCL showers) was as expected spilled water everywhere until we figured out to just shove some towels up against the little lip of the shower edge.
One word of caution about this room for people who are looking to sail on the Freedom in the future it is right across from the steward storage area for the vacuums/service carts/other misc stuff. We didnt think anything of it at the time of booking, but for the first two nights around 11:45pm and between 3:00am and 4:00am, then again around 6:00am there would be LOUD banging, door slamming and talking by the stewards as they put their supplies away/got them out. My dad went out at one point the first night and asked them if there was something wrong (it was THAT disruptive) but they just shook their head and said no after it continued the second night my mom called down to guest services to see if they could ask the stewards to be a little quieter. We understand that they had a job to do, and we had booked that room but to be awoken 3 times per night with loud talking/banging etc was not conducive to a good vacation! After we spoke to guest services, the door slamming and loud talking stopped, thank god! I feel bad that we had to say something, and I certainly hope no one got in trouble for it, but it was just crazy.
Staff: The staff on this ship was so friendly and went above and beyond. Everyone was very friendly and did an exceptional job. We didnt see much of the cruise director, Brad we only went to 2 of the production shows in the theater, and that was the only time we saw him! He was fine, just wasnt as omnipresent as our cruise directors in the past. We never laid eyes on the assistant cruise director, either! They both seemed very competent and fun when we heard their (infrequent) announcements over the PA, just didnt run into them much!
Ship: The Freedom is beautiful, and is in great condition. It has some wild interior paneling (tiger stripes, anyone?) but it all somehow worked! At times during the first day especially we had a hard time navigating around, but thats because the galley closes off a large portion of deck three and forces you to go up to deck 5 and down on the other side to get to the rear of the ship. Once you got the hang of it, it worked but at first it was a little confusing for us. It definitely wasnt as easily navigated as the Pride or the Victory, in our opinion. But we got used to it and it turned out to be one of our favorite, if not THE favorite ship that weve sailed on.
Faster to the Fun: We purchased FTTF and did not regret it a single bit. It was WELL worth the $50 we spent, in our opinion. It saved us a lot of time.
Behind the Fun Tour: We did the Behind the Fun tour, which is offered the last sea day of this itinerary. The cost was $95p/p, which is steamy, but it was fantastic. We saw a great deal of the ship that we NEVER would have before (including staff lounges/restaurants, engine control room, food & beverage storage, backstage in the theater, the galley, and the bridge - where we met the captain). They give you some free Carnival goodies and complimentary photos at the bow of the ship and with the captain on the bridge. This tour was over 3 hours long, and was worth every penny we spent. There is a large amount of walking up and down pretty steep stairs, so this tour is not for the disabled or those with mobility issues.
We will definitely look into more cruises in the future on the Freedom! LOVED IT!
We did the Tiki Beach excursion. The bus driver who drove us the quick (about 10 minutes or less) distance to the beach gave great information about the island. We were greeted with a free welcome drink (they had alcoholic and non-alocholic punch available). We were given a free beach chair and an umbrella. They had beach equipment for sale as well as available to rent ($10 for a snorkel/fins for an hour to rent). The beach is not huge, and is quite rocky, but it is beautiful. We had a great view of the two Carnival ships that were anchored off the coast. We also got to snorkel on a reef that was very close to the shore - it was a once in a lifetime experience. I would recommend the Tiki Beach excursion for anyone who likes to lounge in a beach chair and wants to experience some great (cheap!) snorkeling!
We took the City View Hop On/Hop Off Trolley and found it to be wonderful. The trolley went all around the island and we saw so much of Key West. The hop on/hop off option worked out well for us we never had to wait more than 10 minutes or so for another trolley to come around and pick us up if we decided to hop off and explore. The tour guides were excellent, funny and so knowledgeable. We enjoyed being able to stop at Hemingways house, though the $13 we paid to get in was a little steep for what we got, I thought. It was cool to see the original Margaritaville along Duval Street! I wanted to get a picture of Mile 0/Southernmost Point and was able to get both without having to walk great distances.
We did the Sky Explorer excursion. You can ride up/down Mystic Mountain as many times as you'd like, which is nice...it is really truly beautiful. At the top of the mountain, there is a small nature museum, a few vendors/bartenders, a gift shop, clean changing rooms and bathrooms, and butterfly/hummingbird sanctuaries. There is a bobsled ride that also departs from the top of the mountain, which is an additional cost. We enjoyed the infinity pool and waterslide, which offer picturesque views of the ship as it is docked in Ocho Rios.