This was my 4th cruise and my first cruise with Carnival. This was my husband's first cruise ever. We set this vacation up with friends of ours. In total, there were 8 of us.
We had some issues when we first checked in but we were very pleased once we got on the ship. The staff was excellent to say the least. The food was good (not fantastic as with other cruises I've been on) but it was decent. The ship was spotless and there were plenty of things to do while onboard. We were on the Empress Deck 7. The cabin we had was clean. There was
enough room for the two of us and it had plenty of storage (I tend to
way overpack!). Our cabin steward was on top of everything and did an
excellent job. Our friends who were with us also had clean cabins. We
were all in a row so we had the same steward service. Every staff
member we encountered on this deck was friendly and professional. There
is a laundry room down the hall in case you need to do some wash or
ironing. We didn't More
use it but others did and found it convenient. I found that other passengers were very friendly and outgoing. I really enjoyed this part as well since the others cruises I've been on were a bit "stuffy".
Things to check out: The adult pool/hot tub area, mini golf and volleyball court were a blast! The 70's Disco, Scott's Piano Bar (be prepared for lots of smoke though) and all the fun trivia games, game shows and live Mmusic entertainment. Wee Jimmy is hillarious! Don't miss one of his shows! The gym and spa were decent as well. The staff was quite friendly.
Some of the cons: The ports of call sort of stunk! Cozumel was great. Puerto Limon Costa Rica and Colon Panama were dirty places. They have a long way to go before I would ever go back there again! The ship decor was a bit strange. It almost seemed that Carnival used whatever they had left over from other ships and sort of lobbed it all together. I didn't care for some of the staff hanging out at the bars or the nightclub. I understand that they are on the ship for long periods of time and they need to "let loose". However, I felt like it was intrusive and unprofessional. It seemed like they were getting served before the paying guests and many of them dominated the dance floor in the club and walked around like they were hot stuff. It took away from the fun in my opinion. Luckilly this only happened twice.
Other than that we had a blast and we will surely be back on another Carnival cruise. The only problem is that we can't do it soon enough!! Thanks again to Rudy, Julio, Carlos, Rubina and all the rest of the wonderful staff onboard The Freedom. This ship has something for everyone. Less
We were on the Empress Deck 7. The cabin we had was clean. There was enough room for the two of us and it had plenty of storage (I tend to way overpack!). Our cabin steward was on top of everything and did an excellent job. Our friends who were with us also had clean cabins. We were all in a row so we had the same steward service. Every staff member we encountered on this deck was friendly and professional. There is a laundry room down the hall in case you need to do some wash or ironing. We didn't use it but others did and found it convenient.
We did the Portobelo Pirate Beach Day with Gatun Locks in the Panama Canal through My Friend Mario Tours. The tour wasn't too bad all in all. Again, this isn't for the faint of heart. We saw some pretty interesting things like people urinating on the side of the road, soldiers with large machine guns, stray animals galore and a lot of trash all along the side of the roads. Our first stop was in Portobelo, Colon. We went to the Church of the Black Christ, Customs House across the way and then to Fort San Geronimo. There are bathrooms in the Customs House but they are NASTY!!! Then we were off to to Langosta Beach. It seemed pretty nice until we actually got on the beach. It was smelly and the water appeared dirty. There was a nice covered area with a restaurant but we all lost our appetites when a half dead stray dog came to our table collapsed at our feet. GROSS! Our tour guide was very nice but when he even says he wouldn't venture out alone in some of these places, it makes you wonder. He gave an animated tour along the way and served us bottled water, home made cookies, 5 month old Dorritos and home made empinadas. We also had a choice of beers and home made margaritas. I will say our tour guide indulged in a good many margaritas and smoked like 2 packs of cigarettes in a span of 3 hours! He was super nice though. The Panama Canal wasn't exactly the most amazing thing but it was very interesting to see and I am glad I went. It really isn't so bad if you keep an open mind and not forget you are in a thrid world country.
We did the Amazing Cozumel Race. I have to admit that I hated it while doing it and hated my friends and hubby for making me do it. It was super hot that day. However, once we were done I realized I actually had a lot of fun!! Michelle and Florian were great! We also enjoyed Carlos and Charlie's afterward. Lots of fun, silly balloon hats, great dance music and yummy drinks! We also went to Fat Tuesday. It was good as well but a few people we were with got a little sick after having just one drink. We did some shopping near the pier and over by the Disney pier. The prices were good and people were friendly.
I should have done an excursion here. My mistake. All of the others I cruised with except one went on the Whitewater Rafting trip and LOVED it. I did hear from other cruisers that the banana farm was OK. There really isn't much to do here unless you book something. We ventured into the port area with the bizaar. That was kind of neat but it took less than 30 minutes to go through it all. We walked around the city. It was OK. If you don't like people getting in your face every five minutes trying to sell you something or asking you for money then I would bypass this and do an excursion instead. But there was a neat little flea market sort of place near the city park. Check this out if you can but don't go it alone. We didn't have any problems but agian I wouldn't walk around alone.