Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by DontFeedTheBirds: A good cruising experience, lots of fun
Overall Member Rating
A good cruising experience, lots of fun
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This was our first cruise in several years. There were a few hiccups in boarding as the boat was delayed almost 3 hours because it was loading a lot of supplies for a renovation of some sort...Because of this, there wasn't much preparation for Key West the next day...
The ship itself was in very good condition, the decoration of the Freedom is a bit gaudy with fake statues of liberty and such in different areas of the ship, but I guess that's to be expected. We had a late dinner seating and I'm glad we did as it seemed much less rushed than the earlier seating...We found the food to be quite good, and the meat and fish to be fresh and high quality. Really liked the desserts as well!
The shows were NOT at all memorable! We went the first two nights, and the first night was a big band theme with the cruise director and the second night was an inexplicable mix of 40s music and uninspired singing and dancing. The only other show we went to was the talent night, which was More actually the best entertainment!
The fitness center was really quite nice, combined with the spa, it has a big locker area, huge sauna that I used a few times. There was always enough equipment to get a spot on the elliptical machines and such. I also did a few spin classes, that cost $13 each. The spin equipment was good and the spin trainer was not bad, although he did really talk up the "detox" program they were pushing during the class! Just ignored it....(It's an Elemis Detox program that costs over $320 for a 3 month program. not at all worth the price)
The Solitude "adults only" area was nice but crowded, and the bartenders working this area, the slowest I've ever encountered. It's like they were on some slow time warp, but they were at least friendly. I found other bar tenders on the ship not quite up to snuff. We had the "endless bubbles" soda package and I think they were annoyed to pour soft drinks since they didn't get tips like for alcohol. Some even asked over and over for the cards, even though they know we had them...Annoying. 14 year old daughter enjoyed the youth program, did a lot of activities and made quite a few friends, despite coming on knowing no one. .
The overall experience was good, it's a big ship with a lot to do, but the whole experience seemed a bit anonymous. Never saw the guy who cleaned the room, other than when he came by to prepare the room for the evening...Our waiter at dinner was probably the closest we came to having any real contact with the ship's staff. Less
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Cabin review: 6419
A pretty convenient balcony stateroom. It had a safe and a small fridge that was stocked, but we never could find the price sheet, so we just put our own bottled water we brought on board! Balcony was great but the biggest annoyance was a neighbor that had joined two rooms via the balcony. All we would hear is the balcony doors thump both ways quite frequently. Really annoying. there was a washer/dryer right down the hall and we used it once without incident. You do need $3 quarters to wash and $3 to dry clothes but we got change at the casino. You need your own detergent unless you want to buy it there.
Port and Shore Excursions
With three of us we found it just as cheap to rent a car and discover the island by ourselves. We walked up North Church Street to Cayman Auto Rentals and were able to rent a Kia Sportage for a little over $100. We then made our way to "Hell" (a tourist trap) but interesting to see the rock formations and the 7 mile beach..We decided to make our way around to the other end of the island to Rum Point. It took about 45 minutes to drive there and the drive was quite interesting. Rum Point was a bit less congested and the beach was beautiful and there was free wifi on the beach! We ate lunch there and drove back, turned the car in and did a little shopping and headed back to the boat. Good day all in all...
We arrived in Key West on time but didn't purchase the tram that loops the town. It was quite expensive and the town is walk-able and we walked to the the Butterfly Museum and "most southern point" marker. No problem. Going back we swung by Ernest Hemingway's house and also had some key lime pie at Kermitt's that was really good and a bit off the tourist path but still very close to the docks.
There is a CVS not far from the docks which is quite convenient and reasonably priced. Great place to stock up on whatever you've forgotten.
Dunn's River Falls
The Dunn River fall was a lot of fun but plan on getting wet. You will get a wrist band for the falls at the entrance and you will also need water shoes.You can rent them there but they cost $7 to rent, I think, and $9 to buy. Make sure that whatever you have on you can get wet. They do have lockers but and they cost a few dollars to rent, I wouldn't leave much of value There was a bit of confusion as to groups but the leaders tour guides were pretty good. We had a lot of fun. Word of warning. The falls are slippery and it is quite easy to twist an ankle if you aren't careful. Take your time!At the end they will do a hard sell on the video, which is $40. I don't think it's worth it but to each his own. They will take pictures with your camera as well. We got some good shots going up the falls this way. They will also try to sell you still shots as well as you come out of the falls area. These were $8 or so (cheaper than the cruise pix) so we actually bought one. You have to endure some very aggressive souvenir vendors at the falls but just walk through them and it's just an annoyance.
The town Ocho Rios is to be avoided. We bought some cards in the "Taj Mahal" shopping area and had to walk about a quarter of a mile into town to mail them. It was literally like stepping into a third world country. We had one who pestered us from Taj to the post office and back, wanting us to visit his stand. I basically had to say we weren't interested about 20 times before he left me alone. Jamaica has a laid back facade with a strong undercurrent of violence (it has one of the highest murder rates in the world) so stay in the main tourist areas. The Island Village area has fallen on hard times, many of the shops have closed.
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