This was our 6th cruise, 5th on Carnival, 1 on Royal. We love cruising Carnival, and this cruise was no different. We stayed 2 nights in FLL before boarding. 1 night at the Hyatt Pier 66, and 1 night at the Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach. Both were wonderful, the Pier was almost a resort with 3 pools, and a water taxi stop. Courtyard was directly on the beach.
Embarkation was very easy, we like to get to the cruise port early, so we arrived around 1030, and were onboard around 1150. Not bad! Our room was on the spa deck. We liked the location, close to the elevators and the stairs to go directly out to the pool and the lido. However, we always get a balcony room, and while this had a nice balcony, because it was on the 11th floor, there was no roof to the balcony. People standing and leaning over the railings above could see down, you could hear them, and they you. Also, if it rained, you couldn't go out. I will definitely make sure that our future balconies always have a cover over them. The room itself was the same as all our other cruises, just what we need. Ample storage space and a bed. We don't spend much time here! Our room steward, Idewa, was great.
The Freedom: The only thing we didn't like about this boat was that you can't get from 1 end of the floor to the other. Its very choppy. But other than that it was beautiful. The Serenity deck was our favorite place, hammocks, small beds, and nice hot tubs for adults only. And it was just that, they didn't allow any kids, which was great.It was a nice place to go up to at night and during the day. The dining room was nice, our table was just the 2 of us, which has never happened before. Usually we like sitting with other people so that we can meet new friends. We had dinner twice on the Lido. The food was average, nothing exciting. We have had better on Carnival. The lines in the morning weren't too bad in the Lido, at lunch they were worse, but they moved quick. The deli was great!
Key West: We did the Pub Crawl through Carnival. It was fun, we have been to Key West before. We walked around ourselves before doing the pub crawl. I love Key West and will only say great things about the island! The pub crawl was fun, however, they don't tell you what drinks are included, and its only draft beer and well drinks. You can't get a pina colada or margarita on this crawl. Our leader, Zam, was great and kept it moving. For the money, it was a lot of fun! It was hot that day, so it was great to be in the sun.
Grand Cayman: We did the stingrays and the turtle farm. Swimming with the stingrays was fun, we have done it before, however, this time the water was freezing! My husband stayed in for awhile, I hopped out after I had held one. Then we took the boat back to shore, took a short ride to the turtle farm, got a 20 min tour of the farm, got to hold turtles and take pics, then we got to snorkel in a salt water lagoon with some turtles and other fish. It was great, and there also a glass wall you can swim up to, and on the other side has sharks and snapping turtles. You tender into this port, so remember to get in line for the tender back to the boat a bit earlier than the time of the last tender. You will be standing in line forever in the hot sun.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: We did the Bamboo Beach Break, which was great! A 10 minute shuttle ride to the beach with your tour guides, then you get seated in paradise. You have to keep your seats as there are many groups coming to the beach and you have to kind of stay with your hostess's group. However, the scenery was amazing, the food and drinks were all inclusive, and the entertainement was Jamaican dancers, reggae music and just plain fun. We were lucky enough to get a seat under a beautiful tree, so we got the warm breezes and no blazing sun. The water was a nice temp, but beware, the surf is rough and there are a lot of rocks, my husband cut his leg when he got swept up in a wave. The people here are really very nice, and there was absolutely no beach people coming up to you trying to sell you stuff or braid your hair. They had hair braiding, massages and a little gift shop, but they allowed you to go up yourself, instead of haggling you on the beach. It was from 9-1, and we would definitely do it again.
Our days at sea were fun, our first was hot and sunny, and we nabbed 2 seats on the deck above the pool with great views. Our 2nd day it rained, so we sat on the back of the ship with the retractable roof. It has a pool, bar, 2 hot tubs and tons of seating. It was great! It was way too windy and cold to be outside.
Overall, we had a great cruise. We didn't go to any shows, we did see the love and marriage game show, the adult game show, sea feud and Mr. and Mrs. Freedom. All were fun. Ryan was great, as was Calvin and Chelsea. Danny Black was AMAZING, he was the acoustic singer, and if you ever get a chance to hear him play, go. The only downside to hearing him play every night was he was in the Habana Bar a lot. My husband and I don't smoke, so we couldn't listen very long. My only complaint about this cruise was the smoking. It was everywhere! More so than any other cruise we have taken. In this day and age, I think it is totally acceptable to ban smoking on a cruise!
However, a job well done, Carnival!