My toddlers and teenagers had a good time on Freedom
Embarkation at Port Everglades was uneventful, but we just had a short 35 minute drive to the port from our house. Parking at the garage is $15 per day and we paid on the way out - $90 for the 6 night cruise. A bit more than we were expecting, but part of the vacation.
Our cabins were clean. The location of our outside cabin was very convenient and pretty quiet. We had an outside cabin for my husband and I with 2 toddlers and the teenagers got their own inside room a few cabins away. My brother in law and niece also had an outside cabin on the other side of the same deck and our cousins who were supposed to be in an outside cabin for 4 on the 1st deck upgraded to a presidential suite just a few days before sailing. While the extra room was nice, I just couldn't see paying that much extra $ for a room we were hardly in. Standard inside/outside cabins work just fine for us.
I read a few reviews before boarding and was pleasantly surprised by the ship itself. Our family did not find it loud or gaudy one bit. It was very clean and well maintained.
We registered our 3 youngest for Camp Carnival the first night during orientation. Our youngests couldn't wait to go.
Being from FL, we didn't rush to get off the ship at Key West, but we did get out and took the gang to the Aquarium. It's a short walk from the dock and just enough of a visit to say we had been there.
Our girls woke up wanting to go to Camp while there were other kids their age who had no interest in ever going back. They closed everyday for lunch between 12-1 and then had a Teddy Workshop between 1-2 that required extra fees. Not really sure if camp was open during that time as well, but I never went b/c I wasn't interested in coming home with two more stuffed animals.
We thought the food was good. Many choices, but if you had your heart set on a specialty (Indian or Mexican or deli) you needed to carry around the daily flyer listing the hours for each area. Only iced tea and lemonade was available during lunch from the machines, we only found apple juice in the am on the machines.
Our servers in the Posh Upper dinning room were great. They called us by name after the first night so they provided great personal service (Wi & Elmer). Our stateroom attendant Oscar was also very good and knew us all by name as well. He kept our cabin clean and knew our schedule so he came soon after we left. The girls always enjoyed coming into a clean room and seeing new chocolates on the bed.
Our itinerary had 2 elegant nights and there were at least a dozen photographers on the Promenade deck with different backgrounds - way too many, but they had options...
At the last minute (from Key West!) I booked a tour with Captain Marvin's at Grand Cayman. Our party of 12 did the half day tour. It was very choppy and there was a chance that it would be too rough to go to Stingray City, so we went there for our first stop, along with everyone else from 3 ships that had booked a similar tour. It was VERY crowded at that spot, but there were plenty of stingrays for everyone. The crew was fantastic. I would highly recommend them. They even had fins for my 4 year old. I took an inflatable floaty for my 2 year old which was perfect for her. The boat was not crowded and the photographer got some great shots of everyone.
I didn't get a chance to research what to do in Ocho Rios before we left, so we ended up taking a bus (there were 11 of us) to a beach. We paid $15 per person, $10 for children under 6 and got my 2 year old on for free...not sure what other transportation would have cost. They took us to a beach (the name escapes me) that had a restroom, food, shopping opportunity and motor sports. The area is somewhat small, but there were several locals and other folks from the ship so we felt safe. The water was very calm, but the motor sports did come pretty close to where people were swiming which was not very relaxing. Overall the afternoon was good. We got some sun, had some drinks and had some fun. The bus picked us up as they said they would and took us back to the dock.
The pools were always busy...just never enough on ships in my opinion. The giant screen on the Lido deck was nice and entertaining to those getting some rays.
Cruise Director John wasn't my favorite, but I'm sure there are worse. His jokes weren't always all age appropriate, but he seemed to entertain most guests and he did send my girls gold plastic trophies for making drawings of the ship and sending them to him so he's not all that bad!
The Ticket to Ride show had some good props and music and so did one of their other shows (can't remember the name). The comedian was also good, so entertainment overall was pretty good.
Overall our family had a great time on the Freedom and though we don't normally go on the same ship twice (too many options), this not one I would avoid.