Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by petunialesley: Far Exceeded My Expectations
Overall Member Rating
Far Exceeded My Expectations
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We embarked at Port Everglades on February 14, 2009. I believe we were dropped of at the port by the rental car shuttle at approximately 11:30 AM. (I found the FLL rental car facility a little confusing and had to ask several people to direct us to the shuttle) We had to wait on 3 different lines before boarding the ship but they all moved pretty quickly and it wasn't too painful. I was travelling with my husband, two sons ages 10 & 13, and my 80 year old dad. We found our way to the Freedom buffet restaurant for lunch. The lines were kind of long and the layout was a little difficult to negotiate but we managed to find a table and get our food just fine. The buffet was what I would expect from a buffet. Nothing amazing but everyone could find something that they liked. I personally liked the grilled mozzarella sandwich from the deli window which I did not discover for a couple of days.
After lunch we found our way to our 2 adjoining oceanview cabins on the More main deck. I must say I was very impressed. The cabins were attractive and very comfortable and definitely larger than the same category on Royal Caribbean. Plenty of storage space, very comfortable bed and pillows and very clean. Our cabin steward did a great job and was very friendly and polite.
We originally chose the early dinner seating. When the 5 of us arrived at our designated table in the Chic dining room we were disappointed to find a small booth for 4 with a chair stuck on the end of it. We spoke to the the maitre d and he told us he could give us a bigger table for that night but it would be easier to accommodate us if we switched to the late seating which we did. This worked out very well. We enjoyed not having to rush to the early dinner and we ended up with a lovely table and the most wonderful waitress and assistant waiter, Ayna and Evgeny. The quality and presentation of the dinners were very good. The desserts were very good as well. I would say the dinners were superior to Royal Caribbean.
We enjoyed the onboard activities as well as the entertainment. The production shows were very good, high energy and entertaining. These too surpassed Royal Caribbean. I wasn't crazy about most of the lounge entertainers on the ship but the poolside singers were good but way too loud. The giant screen TV on the pooldeck was cool. We enjoyed the cruise director, Todd Wittmer as well as the rest of the entertainment staff.
We had a great time in Cozumel. My 10 year old and I swam with the dolphins at Chankunab Park. We loved it! We took a cab there and I paid $150 for the two of us. This included admission to the park and lockers. If I arranged through Carnival it would have been $150 each. We also rented snorkel equipment for another $20 and had a great time snorkeling around Chankunab. We went back to the ship for lunch and then went back out for some shopping on the pier. A great day! My husband and older son went Scuba diving with StudioBlue Cozumel. They also arranged this themselves and it was great.
In Limon Costa Rica we had an excellent private tour with Danilo Hall of Caribbean Adventure Tours. I found him here on Cruise Critic. He was waiting for us on the pier with a sign. He took us around in his van with A/C. What a nice guy and he tried so hard to please us. We stopped for delicious local tropical fruits, a tour of a Delmonte banana plantation, we saw monkeys and sloths in the trees. He provided a lovely boatride on the Torteguero canal where we saw more wildlife. We got off the boat at an animal sanctuary run by a lovely woman and her family. They had a butterfly habitat, a nature trail in the jungle, beautiful birds and some other animals. He dropped us back at the port where we did a little shopping in the flea market. Another great day!
In Panama our independently arranged tour did not work out as well. I booked a tour with "My Friend Mario" who I found on cruise critic as well. He told us to look for Almiza Tours at the port which we did. We were directed to a very nasty woman who tried to stick the 5 of us on a bus which only has 2 seats left. When we refused they directed us to another bus where we waited with a lot of other people for almost an hour for another party to arrive. We went to the Gatun Locks observatory and watched freighters go through the Panama Canal. This was interesting. (Warning - you have to walk up a lot of steps) The rest of the tour was a waste. The guide had a heavy accent and I could not understand much of what he said. We stopped in a supermarket and then took a very very long drive to Portobello. We went into an old church and a customs house. I would have liked to look at the ruins of the old fort but they rushed us back on the bus after just a few minutes and drove a long way to a beach. This was not the tour that I had booked and we did not have swimsuits or towels with us so the tour guide sent us back to the port in a cab. Overall,Panama looked pretty grim. The roads were in bad shape and there was a lot of traffic. I would say take a taxi from the dock to the Gatun Locks. (not a far drive) Pay $5 to get into the observatory and then go back to the ship in a taxi.
We enjoyed breakfast in the posh dining room rather than the buffet. The eggs benedict were yummy! The sea days were relaxing and we had a lot of fun. The only negative I can think of is that the decor of the ship is kind of peculiar and not to my taste. The Royal Caribbean ships were much more attractively decorated and I loved the promenade in their Voyager class ships. I would not hesitate to go on Carnival again, particularly one of their newer ships. Less
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