The driver (named Luiz)still came to the airport to pick us up which was very nice of him. The dEcor of the Hyatt Place was very clean and modernly designed. Large flat screen TVs in every room, pull out couch and plush mattress padding made for a wonderful night's sleep after a long day of traveling. There is an outside pool, the fitness center is better than expected and so was the free continental breakfast buffet. There was fresh fruit salad, fresh juices, milk, variety of cereals, yogurt, bagels and toast. You can also have breakfast made to order for purchase. Day 1 embarkation- instead of arriving at the cruise terminal at 10am as planned; DH and I took the shuttle back to the airport at 12 to pick up my luggage. We arrived at the port approx 1:40pm and surprisingly the boarding process was smooth. There was a long line that went very quickly, we were on the boat in 30min! The FREEDOM's dEcor was just as described as fellow cc'ers noted; very dark and sharp that can appear to be cluttered and out of sync BUT there is a method to the madness. Each part of the ship is supposed to give the feel of a certain time period in history ranging from Babylonian times to modern times.
Tip: it is no longer required to wear the life vest for the boat drill...the wearing of the vest is now OPTIONAL.
Day 2 was a sea day and also formal night. Take advantage of the day and the activities available. The Adult Serenity is exactly as described; a place for comfort and serenity. Definitely a great place to hide from the crowd.
Day 3 Cozumel, Mexico: The fam and I went to Paradise Beach and had a blast! There is no entry fee. but $2 for the use of chairs and umbrellas (which is a great price) and $12 allows you use of the water activities i.e. mountain climbing, trampoline, slide, etc. It also allows you to kayak safely in the waters. DH and I were among the first to arrive at the beach and had to pay. By the afternoon when the crowds arrived they weren't charged a dime..just an extra tip. We enjoyed the beautiful emerald waters and even got a couple's massage for $50. There's a restaurant avail (we didn't use) and heard there were even free drinks we missed out on.
Day 4 was a sea day so I will not elongate the review by listing all the activities I enjoyed but I will say DH and I treated my sis and her hubby for a night at the Sun King (steakhouse). We thoroughly enjoyed it. Now let's just jump to day 5 COSTA RICA: based off reviews we decided to book a tour ahead of time with JJ Tours. Andres was our tour guide and he was awesome to say the least!! Spoke English very well, very informative and accommodating. But I will say he can move very slowly at times so keep track of time to encourage him to move along. Our 4 hour tour was 6 hours so please keep that in mind. We only had about 10 mins to shop before we heard the horn of the boat! Despite all of that I would still book with JJ Tours again if I had the chance. it was well worth the 45pp. The tour consisted of a boat cruise along the rain forest to see animals in their natural habitat, we tried to zip line but the cruise line gets first priority and it got very crowded so we opted for lunch at the beach, skipped the banana plantation and went back to the zipline. The zip line is an addt'l charge of 45 but still cheaper than other excursions including the zipline. My niece and nephew did the zipline and loved every moment of its adrenaline rush and optic zoom of the wildlife in the rainforest. Awesome is the only word to describe the entire day.
Day 5 LIMON, PANAMA: Warning: everything is cheap in Panama EXCEPT CABS!! It's hard to negotiate with them it will be cheaper to latch on with a group and take a tour but DH and I didn't want to take a tour we had very specific things we wanted to do. For $50 A PERSON we visited the Gatun Locks, panama canal, very beautiful beach with clear warm waters (Playa Langosta), and shopping in the Madison area, Great prices on everything imaginable. Our cab driver spoke very little English and we speak very little Spanish so that made the day very interesting...lol
Day 6 and 7 were sea days and the last formal night. Here are a couple of boat tips I missed:
Find the secret deck on decks 6, 7 and 9 definitely worth it The Fish and Chips spot is still a hidden gem even on this ship. The general masses still were unaware of its existence.
Sadly I didn't make it to the sushi bar BUT I noticed Carnival does something different since my last cruise..they have something called late night snacks every night starting at around 11:30 on deck 5, Very timely. Tip: you HAVE to attend karaoke nights, it is a MUST! There is an eccentric and eclectic gentleman named KIM that makes the evening entertaining, hilarious and LOTS of fun!!
Last but not least dining room tip: you MUST try the apple pie when its on the dessert menu which is ONE night! Definitely gives the warm chocolate melting cake a run for its money! (The diet apple pie tastes just as good).
Disembarkation was fun, fast and smooth. We opted to do the self-assist where you keep your bags with you and take them off the ship; very convenient. We pulled into port at 6:30 had a quick bite on the Lido and was in a cab heading back to the Hyatt Place South by 8am. Hope you enjoyed the review. Feel free to email me if there are any questions Chill636@aol.com