This was my first cruise on Carnival and my second cruise ever, the first was on Royal Caribbean 6 months ago. I hadn't really planned on going on another cruise this year, but the price was right and I thought it would be fun to go right before Christmas, so I asked a friend if she wanted to come along and we booked it at a great price.
We flew to Ft Lauderdale a day ahead and stayed at the La Quinta in Hollywood. They offer a free shuttle from the airport and to the port so it was a good deal and I'd stay here again. The embarkation procedure was fine and I think we were only in line for about 45 minutes. Once we were onboard, I was amazed at how clean and huge the Freedom is. The ship I was on with RCI was the Sovereign of the Seas which was 20 years old and much smaller so the Freedom was very impressive to me. I was also impressed with the staff who were all very friendly and courteous.
The excursions were a bit of a disappointment though and that had to do with the weather and not the tour operators or Carnival. We went to Key West first and did the beach break which also included a brief tour. The weather here was great and we enjoyed our time at the beach. After that, we walked through the town and did some shopping. In Grand Cayman we were supposed to do the stingray experience, but all stingray tours were canceled that day by the government due to the weather. So we ended up taking a tour with Carnival that drove us around the island with a guide. We went to the turtle farm and Hell and also to the Tortuga rum cake factory. It was interesting and a good overview of life in Cayman. I'd like to go back there someday and do some exploring on my own. The next day we were in Jamaica and the weather was not good at all. It was cold and raining on and off. We went to climb Dunn's River Falls which wasn't too enjoyable with the cold weather, but it was a good experience nonetheless. My friend and I bailed out after making it about halfway up. They make you walk through a gauntlet of shops in order to get out of the place and the shop owners were very aggressive, which I did not care for. After that, we went to Dolphin Cove where there was supposed to be a buffet but that was canceled due to the weather, but they had some jerk chicken so we had that. I've had jerk chicken many times back home and it's supposed to be spicy, but the chicken we had here was not. Not really what I was expecting in Jamaica. The dolphin shows were also canceled and then it started pouring rain, so my friend and I left after only being there maybe an hour. The weather was just not cooperating.
We had the late seating for dinner even though we had requested the earlier one. We tried to change it, but the Maitre d' did not honor our request. I personally don't like to eat large meals late at night, so this did disappoint us somewhat, but we were at a table with nice people so it worked out OK. We wanted to eat at the supper club one night but were not able to get a reservation. It's best to book that way in advance, apparently. We also had breakfast one morning in the dining room (Posh) and were very pleased. The buffet food was also very good. I'd have to say I thought the food on Freedom was very good overall. I did have one dinner meal in the dining room that I did not like (the steak was overdone) but the other meals were very good. There were two formal nights, but we only attended the first one. I was surprised at how dressed up people get, but it was nice to see.
The sea days were fun and many activities were planned. There was so much to do that it was hard to fit it all in. I took a class at the gym and was pleased with it and the knowledge of the staff. I only attended one show (which was a Beatles theme) and enjoyed it, although it was a little corny, lol. I'm not one for shows though. The clubs had something going on every night, but my friend and I aren't ones to stay up all night clubbing so we usually would go for an hour or so and then go back to our rooms or walk around the ship. There was a nice latin band playing most nights and it was fun to watch the people dance.
Overall, I had a good time and will definitely cruise on Carnival again, although I probably won't cruise again during December because the weather just isn't nearly as warm as I was expecting.