Background: We are a gay couple (55 & 60) who love cruising. This is our 4 cruise together. We sailed last year on the Freedom with a group of about 200 gay men to the Eastern Caribbean. This year's itinerary was Cozumel, Costa Rica and Panama.
We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday evening. We stayed at the Doubletree Hotel on Sunrise Blvd. and loved the place. Spent Friday walking around the area and then went to a pre-cruise party. We had breakfast on Sat. morning and then headed for Port Everglades about 11:30.
Embarkation: Very good. After checking in we were given a boarding zone number and directed to a waiting area. Within 15 minutes we were headed for the ship, pictures taken and then to the buffet area for lunch and a cocktail. I would call the process almost seamless.
Cabin: We had a balcony cabin on the deck 6. The room was immaculate and the perfect size for 2 travelers. I will comment here about our room steward, Buddy. Although we rarely saw him face-to-face, our cabin was always meticulously cleaned and ready for us when we returned from breakfast. When we did have a request, he handled it quickly and efficiently. Great job!
Food: This always seems to be an issue with cruisers, but I find most of the food to be tasty. It is not 5* cuisine, but I always find something to please.
We also ate at the specialty restaurant and it was well worth the $30 cost. Excellent service and a delicious, leisurely meal.
Entertainment: We are big trivia buffs, so we did take part in several trivia games during the cruise. We came home with a Carnival Freedom medallion. The shows, while not Broadway material, were entertaining. I will say that the cruise director did a very good job. We also took advantage of the return cruiser's reception in the theater. Although we expected this to be a sales pitch for future cruises, we were pleasantly surprised with the hors d'oeuvres and free drinks. We felt like Carnival really appreciated the fact that we had chosen to sail with them a second time.
New Serenity Area: All I can say is that this is a wonderful improvement to the Freedom. Two decks of upgraded loungers, hammocks, hot tubs, sofas and a bar. And for adults only. Thank you, thank you Carnival. What a lovely relaxing area you have created.
Ship Layout: This was our second time around for the Freedom, so we had a good idea of the ship's layout. I would agree with others who have criticized the location of the Chic restaurant which makes it impossible to get to the Posh restaurant without going up to deck 5 and then going back down at the rear of the ship. Also the location of the Habana bar which is a smoking location so close to the rear elevator bank is troublesome for those of us who do not enjoy the smell of cigarette and cigar smoke.
Itinerary: 3 ports and 4 sea days. (See individual reviews below)
All in all, we had a great time aboard the Freedom and hope to cruise on it again in the future. The negatives include the proverbial chair hogs - towels appearing at 8 o'clock in the A.M., but no bodies until noon and smoking on balconies. The man in the cabin next door was smoking a cigar on his balcony, so needless to say, we could only use the balcony when he was out. We are seriously considering ocean view cabins after 3 cruises in a row with people smoking on balconies.