Carnival Freedom from January 5, 2008 4pm to January 12th 8am. Miami -> Cozumel, Mexico -> Cayman Islands -> Ocho Rios, Jamaica -> Miami
Booked at a great price and had two complimentary excursions per room.
Group of 7, 3 teens (17,17,19), 4 adults
Travel to Port of Embarkation
We were supposed to fly out from JFK at 5:45am on American Airlines (AA) to give us plenty of time for any possible obstructions. When we arrived at the airport, we were told that the flight has been cancelled, so, AA put us on another flight on American Eagle from Laguardia to Miami that left around 8am. However, this wasn't a direct flight. We first landed in Cincinnati, OH and from there flew to Miami. We arrived in Miami around 2pm. After we received our baggage, one of our group members realizes that his baggage didn't arrive. When making our report, we were told that the baggage was not loaded onto the plane. The baggage would arrive in Mexico and would be delivered onto the ship. At 3:10pm, we finally arrived at the ship.
Do NOT take the taxi service offered by the Carnival representatives walking around the baggage claim area. It cost us $70 to get to the port. Take a yellow taxi, about $25.
The embarkation took only 5 minutes; we were pretty much the only ones waiting to enter the ship.
3,500 guests and 1,200 service members were on the ship. The ship didn't feel overcrowded, just hard to find a lounge chair close to the pool on Sea days. The ship was clean, always saw cleaning personnel. The ship's colors were not displeasing (zebra type colors).
We had two oceanview cabins (category 6A), side by side with access to each other on the 1st floor. The cabins had a lot of space. There was a mini-fridge with drinks inside, of course, not included. There was a TV, hairdryer, and a can of ice if needed with 4 glasses to drink from. The window was big and fit nicely into the room. The housekeeper would open another bed up from the ceiling above the couch at night for a 4th person. The bathroom was not too big with a shower and a toilet with *strong* suction power. There were always new and clean towels waiting to be used.
The housekeeper introduced himself to us on the first day and had our names memorized shortly. He was remarkable, greeted us by our names,and cleaned the room beautifully. He was amazing, so he got an additional tip. At lunch, in the Posh Restaurant, the waiters that we had always messed up our orders and showed no enthusiasm, they definitely didn't want to be there. Dinner was another story, Sasa from Bosnia, our waiter every night in the Posh restaurant was amazing, so he also got an additional tip. He had a smile on his face every night, gave us tips on what to do on every stop, bring in the orders quickly, and he spoke to us like a friend. Ken, the Maitre d, introduced himself personally. He entertained the guests with songs and along with the waiters put on small dancing shows.
The food for the most part was great. There was a decent variety in the buffet. The Deli offered good sandwiches. The Oriental had good quesadillas. Meiji Sushi had great sushi (yes, it's free) with different sushi every night. We at breakfast mostly in the buffet, but a few days we went to the Posh restaurant for breakfast. For lunch, we went to the buffet; there are more choices in the buffet than in the restaurant. Our dinner was at 5:45 on the upper floor of the Posh restaurant. Everything was great except for the steak. Don't get me wrong, the meat was well done, there were no good sauces. Don't miss the formal nights (two of them), they usually offer something special. As far as the drinks go, we drank mostly water. However, in the morning you can get orange juice, and later you can get lemonade, fruit punch, and apple juice. I always watered down the lemonade because it was too sweet. If you go hungry at midnight, you can head towards the pizzeria (open 24 hours). We didn't get to try out the Sun King restaurant, but I heard from others that it shouldn't be missed.
The gym was beautiful, had a view onto the ocean. It didn't house too many pieces of equipment, but enough to satisfy anyone. I always found a treadmill to run on. The treadmills have TVs attached to them and you're in control of what you are watching but, bring a headset if you want to listen. There was good energy pumping music playing in the gym. I did try the waterslide, pretty fun. The pools were small but never crowded. However, the hot tubs got crowded at times. Around the smokestack, minigolf is quiet a hit onboard. There were always activities during the day, but I just relaxed during that time. At night is when the fun began. After dinner, I enjoyed the Latin music in the 70's Club, unfortunately, there was no one around my age (19/20). The movie nights were on the lido deck on a huge screen, second showing started at about 8:30 (there were 3 movie nights). The karaoke in the international lounge was pretty good, had a few great singers. Club O2 (15-17) had a decent amount of participants. Usually, the dance floor there was empty. The teens made friends and usually hung out in front of the club. A few of them tried to sneak into the 70's Club, but they got kicked out. Yes, there is security there after 10pm and they ask for ID, have to be 18 to get in. Most of the dancing wouldn't start until midnight or 1. It was fun, especially because there were many people around my age. The battle between three teams, white, red, and blue was entertaining. The teams were made based on your seating in the dining rooms. The teams would score points through three rounds, most points wins. There is no present, just satisfaction. The competition included karaoke, dancing, and more dancing/singing. Then all three teams met on the Lido deck for some more dancing. Unfortunately, the 70's Club was closed down that night for the crew only. We were told that the crew hasn't had one of these nights since the Freedom started cruising.
The shows were good for the most part. The Big Easy (based on New Orleans) was alright. Underdressed dancers? Some like it, some don't. Jump, Jive and Wail was a great show. Great dancing and singing. Ticket to Ride was another fabulous show. Stunning visual effects. Percy Cruise was funny both nights, adult and general comedy nights. Allyn Ball was Ok the first night, but during the adult comedy show, he gave the audience a hilarious night.
Cozumel, Mexico Used up three free excursions on snorkeling at the Blue Diving Shop. We added $35 each so we could go scuba diving. This was a great two hour experience. The first hour we got accustomed to using the equipment and breathing. The next hour we dove into 25 feet of water and saw caribbean fish of various colors, corel, and even a stingray. Mat was the instructor, he was great. I checked out Senor Frog's, wow, so many drunken people. Dancing, passing out, the whole ball game. Grand Cayman We decided to go to the 7-mile beach. The taxi was $4/5 per person in air conditioned buses. Grand Cayman had beautiful weather. I stayed in the water for 4 hours and got burned, not smart. If you want to play volleyball, ask one of the workers. I'm not sure if it's free, you may have to pay for the ball. The lounge chairs are not included, beach is free. Ocho Rios, Jamaica We took a taxi to Dunn's River Falls. The entrance fee is $15 per person. The falls were amazing. You actually get to walk up the waterfall. Make sure to bring watershoes or buy them for $15 or rent for $5. The waterfall is 900+ feet high. The climb is a little bit of an exercise. Older people should think before climbing. A 75 year old woman in our group wouldn't have made it up if not for help from the men in my group. The guide that takes you up the waterfall doesn't care if you are 2 or 99, she wants $$ (tips). On every corner, I was asked if I wanted to buy "something to smoke," "no thanks," I replied. There is really cheap liquor in Jamaica. Buy as many bottles as you want and then they ship it out to your ship. When you are going through customs, the max is 2 bottles per person. I know people who snuck through 4 bottles per person. The view of Jamaica from the ship was grandeur.
Debarkation and Trip Back Home
We took a number for disembarkation; we were not in any rush to get off. Once your number is called, it's time to get off. We left the ship by around 10am and we were one of the last numbers called. We took a yellow taxi to the airport. We departed from Miami an hour earlier than what was originally planned; AA made the change. Once we arrived at JFK in only about 135 minutes, another smack in the face. My luggage took the hit. It ended up being delivered the next day. Many people shared the same problem.
The Carnival Freedom turned out to be a lot more entertaining than my previous cruise, the Norwegian Spirit. There were many college students, as we have the time off. Everyone had fun and enjoyed the cruise. The only thing I regret booking are the American Airlines flights, other than that, the experience was great. I will definitely sail with Carnival again.