Carnival Freedom Pros
• Guys’ Burger and the Blue Iguana Café – great additions
• Friendly staff
• Spacious balcony cabin
• Ice cream machines are open 24 hours
• Serenity Deck for adults
• Camp Ocean seemed to be a hit with the kids
Carnival Freedom Cons
• Limited hours (usually 12:00 – 2:30) for the Mongolian Wok – many times a wait of 15-30 minutes
• Change in policy for bingo (winnings applied to Sail & Sign Card)
• Pools and whirlpools were crowded
• Difficult walking on Deck 5 at night when pictures are being taken. It gets very crowded when trying to walk to the Victoria Theater.
Ports - Recommendations
Shop in St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and pier area in St. Kitts. There really isn’t much shopping in Grand Turk at the port. I noticed my favorite stores are not listed on Tripadvisor or have any dealings with the cruise lines.
Beach days should be in St. Maarten, Grand Turk, and St. Kitts. We prefer Orient Beach over Mullet Bay in St. Maarten, the area around Jack’s Shack in Grand Turk, and Cockleshell Beach in St. Kitts.
Your best snorkeling will be on Grand Turk. Though we had a great time on the catamaran with Leeward Island Charters, St. Kitts isn’t known as a snorkeling destination. You will have a wonderful day if you decide to go with them!
Day 1 – Sunday, June 1 (Flight & Embarkation)
We had an early 6:10 am flight out of MCI (Kansas City) on Delta. We flew from Kansas City to Detroit and then on to Fort Lauderdale. I purchased extra leg room seats for the trip to Fort Lauderdale and will do this from now on. We ended up arriving over 15 minutes ahead of schedule. The taxi charged $25 to take us to the pier.
I must say that the port area in Ft. Lauderdale is not pretty. I do not like how luggage is put in bins outside. We did notice people carrying their own luggage on the ship. Check in to the ship was a breeze. We were on the ship by 1:30 pm and went directly to Guy’s Burgers. I must say that we loved Guy’s Burgers. This became one of our favorite places to eat.
After lunch we went to our rooms and met our cabin steward (Rey). He was wonderful. In fact, the staff on the Freedom were friendly and helpful. We had balcony cabin #8422. It is located on the aft just behind and below the Lido buffet restaurants. We liked the position of our room. We noticed that balcony cabins on Carnival are a little larger than balcony cabins on other cruise lines that we have sailed on (Norwegian and Royal Caribbean).
We participated in the muster drill and then ship headed out to sea. We did experience a little rain after leaving port. Dinner was at the Blue Iguana Café and Buffet. I really liked the pork and chicken tacos. Our friends enjoyed the fish tacos.
Day 2 – Monday, June 2 (Sea Day)
We woke up to cloudy skies and windy conditions. Part of the ship (upper decks) was closed off due to the winds. I decided to try a breakfast burrito at the Blue Iguana Café. It was ok. I will admit that I prefer breakfast tacos over burritos. I also had French toast, bacon, and banana bread from the buffet. The banana bread was great. It was moist and had walnuts in it. I wish the same recipe was used for the banana bread the entire trip.
We were very tired after getting up at 3:00 am on the previous day so took a little nap. Lunch was at Guy’s Burgers. I liked condiment section. I always put mushrooms and bacon on my burger. Guy’s Burgers has got to be one of the best additions to Carnival! The buffet had a chocolate cake that was great. The rest of the afternoon was spent on the deck getting sun and going to the casino. I enjoy playing the slots a little when on vacation.
We ended up eating at the buffet. The selection at night time seems to be less than during lunch. We saw the 88 Keys Production. It was a fun show. Go to the shows early enough to get a good seat and to see the pre-show. We felt the railings in parts of the balcony prevented a good view of the show.
Day 3 – Tuesday, June 3 (Sea Day)
We went to Sea Day Brunch. This is a nice change of pace from eating in the buffet for breakfast. I really liked the basket of pastries that was brought to our table. Both of us ordered steak and eggs. Though the portions are on the small scale, they were tasty. We then headed to the Lido deck pool area to play bingo. There were a few sprinkles throughout the morning. The prizes for bingo have mostly changed on the ship. No longer, except the last 2 days, are people awarded cash for bingo. Instead, the winner receives the award to be credited to their sail and sign account. This can be a problem if you don’t charge a lot on your card.
The main pool appears to be smaller than on other ships that we have been on. However, we haven’t been in a pool on a ship yet! Chairs can be found on various parts of the ship. You may have to go to the aft or forward section on the upper decks, but they can be found. There was a chocolate cake served in the buffet at lunch that was delicious!
We went to 2 shows this night: Comedy & Juggling and Love & Marriage Adult Comedy Show. Manuel Zuniga is very talented and funny. The Love & Marriage Adult Comedy Show is supposed to be for those 18 years of age and up. I don’t understand why parents brought he children who couldn’t be above 13 to the show. Anyhow, this was a great show. One couple that were up on stage had been together for 56 years. Late night snacks included hot dogs, chips, and cookies.
Day 4 – Wednesday, June 4 (St. Maarten)
We arrived in St, Maarten and took a water taxi to Phillipsburg. We did this on our last trip to St. Maarten and enjoyed it. You can purchase a round-trip ticket for $7. After arriving in town we spent time shopping. I took off to my favorite store (Helena Jewelers) and purchased a gold ring. I really like this store. I found the value and quality at this store to better than many other stores in the Caribbean. A word of caution: make sure to get a price before getting your hair braided. Our friends purchased this for their 2 girls and were charged $96 for just one of them.
We took Tony’s Taxi Service to Mullet Bay. He was a great driver and took us to Maho Beach. The drive to Mullet Bay was much longer than we expected. Perhaps it was because the area around Simpson Bay is so built up and busy. One plane flew directly over us at Maho Beaach. We then went on to Mullet Bay. The beach at Mullet Bay is nice and there are 2 places to purchase food. I ordered the ribs and they were good. The incline is a little steep when going down to the water. It’s not too bad, but more than what I expected or read about. Several catamarans came into the bay and brought people to swim while we were there. Though we like Mullet Bay, we would return to Orient Beach. We thought Orient Beach is calmer and flatter. Tony stopped at a lookout for us to take pictures on the way back to Phillipsburg. We then spent another hour shopping Front Street. I almost purchased a bamboo shirt. We took the water taxi back to the ship.
Day 5 – Thursday, June 5 (St. Kitts)
We woke up and ate breakfast at the buffet and then visited the shops around the pier. There are several neat shops in the area. We did walk downtown (1 – 2 blocks) to go to a bank. I was not happy that a neat store (Batik) downtown is no longer there. Our snorkeling excursion with Leeward Island Charters left at 10:30. You should not have high expectations about seeing a lot of fish in St. Kitts. St. Kitts is not noted as a snorkeling destination. The staff at Leeward Island Charters is great. They make sure that everyone had a good time and enjoyed their day on the boat. We did experience some rain going out to the snorkeling destination. I highly recommend this company.
After the excursion we shopped around the port. I did purchase a glass jelly fish Christmas ornament. One thing that made me feel a little better about the port is that the monkey handlers now have to be licensed. I explained my concern to a couple handlers which led to some good discussion. I sincerely hope the monkeys are being taken care of. At least this is a step in the right direction. Some owners of the monkeys allow you to take pictures for free while others charge.
We went to Guy’s Burgers once getting back on the ship. You can see how we liked this place! Of course the ice cream machine was also a hit.
Day 6 – Friday, June 6 (Puerto Rico)
I don’t like the time the Freedom was in port. We were only in port from 7:00 – 2:00. We have visited Puerto Rico several times, so we know what we want to do and see. However, for people who haven’t been to Puerto Rico, this doesn’t give them the opportunity to see much of the area. Our friends took a tour to El Yunque and enjoyed it. They especially liked their tour guide. We spent the day shopping on San Francisco and Fortaleza Streets. We did purchase some neat souvenirs. We also went to the local grocery store (Super Max) in Old San Juan and purchased Puerto Rican coffee to take back home.
Once back on ship we decided to eat. I had chicken and pork tacos at Blue Iguana Café. I also was able to get a slice of pizza at the pizza station. Dinner at the buffet was better tonight. It included steak and turkey. I liked the lemon chiffon cake. After dinner we went to the Comedy/Magician Show. I will say that it was mediocre at best. I did not connect with the humor or magic acts. The magician performed small magical acts (card tricks) on a large stage. Other people enjoyed the act, so this is personal preference.
Day 7 – Saturday, June 7 (Grand Turk)
After breakfast we departed the ship, walked thru Margaritaville, and headed down to Jack’s Shack. I read mixed reviews about Jack’s Shack so I was skeptical about going there. However, the beach and water is MUCH better around Jack’s Shack than at Margaritaville. Yes, prices are a tad high (ship prices), but you can’t beat the location. We were the first people at Jack’s. I had to try the jerk chicken. It was tasty. Some people tried to get me to try the fired conch, but I couldn’t get the nerve to try it! The only negative about this place was that the day went by too fast. This was probably our best beach day.
Our friends booked 2 excursions through Carnival: Submarine and Sting Ray Encounter. All of them enjoyed the sting rays and snorkeling. There were mixed reviews on the Submarine excursion. It was a tight fit for people.
We went to the opening production of “80’s Pop to the Max.” This show includes some great technical features, singing, and dancing. We liked the show so much that we brought friends to the late show. You should plan pm getting to the Victoria Theater early to see the pre-show. The rist show was much more crowded than the late show. This show will only be on the Freedom for 5 weeks as it will be moving to other ships. I met the film crew and they told me about the shows. Playlist Productions are now producing the shows for Carnival. “80’s Pop to the Max” will be featured in upcoming commercials and on You Tube. Walking to the Victoria Theater was difficult from the Alchemy Bar to the Fun Shops on Deck 5 due to pictures being taken. Something should be worked out to deal with traffic flow.
Day 8 – Sunday, June 8 (Sea Day)
We spent the day playing bingo, lying outside (tanning), and shopping. We didn’t win at bingo, but did come close! I did end up buying an Invicta watch on the ship. I am aware of prices on watches and did get a good deal. For those who smoke, I noticed the Fun Shop was selling 3 cartons of cigarettes for $80. We received a notice in our box about purchasing Express Luggage Checkout for $20. The ship picks up your luggage at night and you don’t see it again until you arrive to your final destination. I must admit that I was a bit nervous when I saw that the luggage tag’s final destination was listed as ATL. However, I was told that it would arrive at MCI and they were correct. I would definitely pay the $20 again for this service.
Day 9 – Monday, June 9 (Debarkation)
We tried to waste a little time prior to leaving the ship as our flight wasn’t until 2:40. There was still a line checking off of the ship. You might want to get off of the ship at 7:00 am if you have an early flight. I would definitely do my best to get a flight that left before noon on our next cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale. The only negative experience with Carnival staff was outside the building while trying to get a taxi. Two staff members gave different information in an unpleasant tone of voice.
Take the water taxi into town.