Just got back from a family (3 cabins) cruise to Key West, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios.
We stayed at the Best Western Oakland Park Inn. It was okay, but the shuttle from the airport was $5/person and the shuttle to Port Everglades was $10/person (call and make your shuttle reservations a couple of days before or you may have to go to the port later than you want). We arrived at the hotel at 9:30 pm and the hotel bar was closed but the desk person recommended the Ft. Lauderdale Ale House which was better (2 blocks away). Went to the Original Pancake House the next morning for breakfast. Must not be too many breakfast places in Ft. Lauderdale because there was a 20 minute wait that was not worth it. However, there is nothing else in walking distance of the hotel.
Ship check in was very quick but probably because we didn't get to the terminal until 1:30 pm or so. Freedom is not that old of a ship but it hasn't had any of the new Carnival improvements that you will read about on their web site. No Guy's Burger Bar, Rum or Tequila Bar, Red Frog's Pub, etc.
Seemed to be less activities on the boat than usual, especially on sea days. Cabin was fine. Food was okay (service in the main dining room was a little spotty) not gourmet by any means. Warm chocolate melting cake was on the menu every day and I ordered it more than once!
Key West was fun. We did the Old Town Trolley hop on hop off bus. If you buy your tickets ahead of time, you can save a few bucks. You can also get a discount on Hemingway House tickets at the bus ticket location.
Cayman Island Turtle Farm was great. Huge turtles and lots of small ones to hold. Our excursion was the deluxe and cost $10 more but included lunch. It is a little hard to recommend the lunch but it was cheaper than ordering off the menu at the turtle farm. Snorkeling is so so. Cement pond but you have to go to the very end of the pond to find fish, but once you get there, it is well worth it.
We did the Jamaican Bobsled park in Ocho Rios. Ride is like a roller coaster but fun. If you tell the guys at the top of the ride that you want to go really fast, they will push you out of the start just like a real bobsled. You do have to tip them when you get back to the top but it was worth it.
Disembarkation was great as we carried out luggage off at 7:00 am to make sure we could get to the airport in time for a 10:00 am flight. Had hours to spare.
I recommend this cruise if you get a good price. We were on the Freedom for a Southern Caribbean cruise a year ago. I would definitely pick one of their new boats (we also were on the Magic) next time.