Background: We are a family of 4 (myself, husband, son- 14yrs old and daughter- 12yrs old). This was the kids' first cruise but our second on Carnival. We flew down the day before out of Boson to Ft. Lauderdale on JetBlue. This was the first time we have flown on JetBlue. We were very impressed and would highly recommend JetBlue. Once in FLL, we had pre-booked a private car to take us to Miami for $72 one-way. We used Lauderdale Limo Services. They do offer shared rides for $18 per person, however we were getting into FLL at 9pm ad wanted to get to our hotel as quickly as possible.
Miami: We stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay. Very nice hotel. The next morning we took a taxi from the hotel to the port of Miami, which was $10.
Embarkation: We got to the port at 11:00am. When we arrived at the port we just handed our bags to the porter. Carnival's new terminal is great with easy check in points and seating throughout. Zone cards with numbers were handed out for boarding. We were in zone 5 but it moved pretty quickly. The weddings, groups and VIP's boarded first and then we were on our way. We were on the ship by 1:00pm
The Ship: The Freedom is absolutely beautiful! We took a chance to see if our room was ready but the doors were still locked. We headed up to the Lido deck for lunch. This being the first time our kids have ever been on a ship, they were amazed by everything.
Cabins: We were on the Riviera Deck (Deck 1), with an OV cabin (1236). I will admit that on our previous cruise we were on the Empress deck (Deck 7), so I was a little concerned about the huge difference. BUT we absolutely loved it!
Food: We had the 6pm dining in the Chic dining room (mid ship). Most of the food was absolutely amazing. We were disappointed in the lobster. Coming from New England, we big lobster lovers! But when it came to the table, it had a bad smell and was extremely rubbery. Three out of four of us ordered it and three out of four of us sent it back. But don't forget the other options, the Mongolian Grill is a great addition. The deli serves the best Reuben sandwich ever and the grilled oysters at the Fish & Chips place are fabulous!
Shows: All of the shows were excellent. Our favorite was the comedian, Allyn Ball. He did both an R-rated show and a non-R rated show that was fabulous.
Casino: The casino was impressive. We are not huge but like to play the slots every now and then. We played for about 20 minutes on the first night and didn't play again until Thursday night. I put $10 in the $.25 'Wheel of Fortune' game and within 2 spins I won $275. Needless to say I cashed out.
Cruise Director: Our cruise director was Todd Whitmer (sp). We had the pleasure of having Todd as our CD on our last cruise (Conquest-April 2005) and were excited when we found out we would be with him again. He is a great CD and entertainer! He is also a great singer.
Cozumel: Our port day in Cozumel was extremely windy due to a 'cold front' that was coming in. The water was rough so most of the water related excursions were canceled. We walked into the town and shopped then we went back to the ship. Grand Cayman: Again, the waters were very rough. So rough that the ship could not drop anchor in the usual place. Instead it had to drop anchor at Spot's Point. A lot of excursions were also canceled today due to the weather. We originally had booked the Shipweck & Reef Snorkel (which we had been on before and loved it) but that got canceled. So we went on the Fisherman's Rock Snorkel. It was just okay.
Ocho Rios: We have been to Jamaica and did not like it so we decided to stay on the ship and be lazy.
Sea Days: The greatest thing about the sea days??? You can do everything or nothing at all. But no matter what you chose, you could enjoy it thoroughly.
Camp Carnival: Our kids (12 & 14 yrs old) participated in the Circle C part of Camp Carnival. There were so many activities planned for them to take part in! They loved it and they made new friends. They had a great time!
Disembarkation: Since our flight was not leaving FLL until 3:35pm, we decided to wait until our number was called. We had number 28 and we were off the ship by 11:00am. We took a shared ride van through Lauderdale Limo backed to FLL for $18 per person. Compared to $24 pp for a shared ride through Carnival.
Overall: We would recommend this cruise to anyone who is looking to have a good time. Other than the lobster and the weather (which no one has control over), there is nothing to complain about. Besides, a cruise is really what YOU make of it. This was by far the best family vacation ever!!!