Well off to a fine start - our flight out of ATL was delayed to the point we had to run to make the ship so there were no lines at all for us. We were able to meet up with some of the CC'ers before sail away and enjoyed meeting everyone.
This trip was a birthday gift for our 13 year old granddaughter and she had a great time. We had sailed the FREEDOM on her inaugural voyage out of Venice in March 07 and I didn't see any particular wear and tear issues. We needed a trip to coincide with her Spring Break and I thought the FREEDOM would be a good choice since it has everything including the water slide and outdoor screen, multi station buffet, library, disco etc. In our past experience CCL offers a great kids program for the tweeners as it did this time.
We cruise often - 15+ with Carnival and another 15+ with HAL, NCL, Princess, Costa etc. But, I will always remember my first cruise on Carnival as being so much fun and have loved sharing that with my kids and now my grandkids. Thanks to Carnival for not disappointing me again this time.
We had the oversize window cabin which offered plenty of space and storage for the 3 of us. Beds were comfy but the pillows could use improvement - guess I could have asked for different ones or more but we were so busy I didn't really think about it til bed time each night.
We found the food to be pretty good though the meat was often tough. The fish & chips were good - the dining room was really a nice place to have lunch on sea days, quiet and peaceful as opposed to the chaos around the Lido deck. The buffets were great to OK but we always found something to eat that we liked.
Our last few cruises have been NCL or Princess, both of which offer the flexible dining programs which we really like...BUT...it was nice to be called by name, our drinks remembered and the nightly song/dance number was fun, especially for a 13 year old who had never been on a cruise before, another reason I'm glad we chose CCL this time.
The cruise staff was very enthusiastic and we enjoyed participating in trivia, games etc. The dancers were terrific but I would say the singers on this cast left something to be desired. We had seen these production shows before on the inaugural cruise and they are lavish and well done. The fly on talent was pretty good. We enjoyed the comedians. The "Big Band" singer didn't really do it for us.
We really enjoy sea days and having 4 of them was wonderful for us. There was always something to do and we still had time to read, relax by the pool and enjoy the the great weather we had.
We spent the day at Nochi Cocum in Cozumel and it was really great. Our granddaughter did not want to leave and now claims Cozumel as her favorite place in the world.
In Costa Rica we scheduled a tour with JJ and were joined by several other CC'ers for a very laid back day visiting the fruit stand, banana plantation and river boat cruise. We saw sloths, howler monkeys, a crocodile and assorted birds. He spent a lot of time letting all of our kids get up close to the "action".
In Panama we took a taxi to the Gatun Locks, about a 15 minute drive from the dock. It was very interesting and we saw the Island Princess go through the locks.
We very much enjoyed the ship, the ports and the mix of sea days for relaxation.