My family of 4 including children ages 7 &10 cruised the Freedom over Christmas. My children have never cruised and my husband & I have only cruised Princess. We chose carnival because of price and reputation of being family-friendly. We had 2 connecting cabins with balconies and it was terrific.
Embarkation day went very smoothly. It took less than 1/2 hour. I was very impressed since it was peak holiday season. Our cabin was ready exactly when they said it would be and our luggage was there earlier than expected. A+ for embarkation.
The ship's decor is very gaudy and dark in the lobby area. We didn't quite get the motif they were after. The cabins were typical. They did have a lot of storage which was nice. They provide hair dryers, but they don't work very well and we had 2 cabins & they both were bad. The balconies seemed smaller than what we've had on Princess, but still a nice thing to have. Our cabin steward was great and we looked forward to the towel animals we would get each night for turn-down service.
The weather was not the warmest on embarkation day and our first day at sea. It was very windy and the seas were a bit rough. It was difficult for the kids to swim, but we still had plenty to do.
Our first port of call was Cozumel. It was cloudy, windy & a bit rainy. Our excursion ended up being canceled due to the high surf. we were really bummed. We just did some shopping at port & had lunch. That night we encountered storms and had very rough seas into the morning. This was a sea day and we ended up going to the library and playing board games until we entered calmer seas and finally warm weather to get to the pools.
The water slide was a big hit with my kids. They loved it. The pools are on the small side, but it's to be expected.
Next stop was Limon, Costa Rica. We did a tour with a company called Okey Dokey tours and had a great day.
Next port was Colon, Panama and there we did a tour with My Friend Mario. Again it was a great day.
Last 2 days were sea days & the captain re-routed us to avoid rough seas, and we were happy about that.
The food on board was actually pretty good. The buffet is your typical food for breakfast and lunch seemed a bit heavy for us, but there was always salad. The other choices for lunch were a grill, pizza, Mongolian stir-fry and Indian food. You never went hungry. The soft serve ice cream & frozen yogurt were a big hit with us. We ate dinner in the Posh dining room. Our waiter was great knew our names right away and was always willing to get us something different if we didn't like our choice. i am an big dessert lover and the desserts didn't always impress us, but maybe it was better that way.
My kids went to the Camp Carnival only a few times. They went for dinner one night so my husband & I could have a night alone at the steak house. The kids didn't love going to the camp carnival, but they did say it was better than the all-inclusive resorts we have been to in the past. But, honestly, we enjoyed having the kids around and we felt very comfortable at the pool allowing them to stay together and wonder in & out of the pools/slide while my husband & I relaxed in the lounge chairs. They were always a glance away since the pool area isn't huge.
We went to a few shows and they were fair. My kids were usually exhausted by show time, so we didn't really go to much. Wee Jimmy, our cruise director was awesome.
Debarkation day went very smoothly as well. We were off the ship and out of the port in less than 10 minutes.
All in all, we had a wonderful family vacation. We were pleasantly surprised with Carnival and would definitely consider another cruise with them in the future thanks to them being very kid friendly and easy on the wallet allowing us the comfort of 2 cabins.