We sailed on the Freedom out of Ft Lauderdale bound for Key West, the Caymans and Jamaica. This was our sixth cruise and fifth on Carnival. We live about four hours from Ft Lauderdale so we were able to drive. The port can get quite congested so we tried to time our arrival to a slow time. The port authority has a checkpoint which slows down the lines a little and there are always several ships in port so things can be hectic. But we arrived after the disembark was done (about 11:30) and it took about an hour to get on board.
Security flagged our cans of coke and our small electric fan but a supervisor let it go through. Next time we will take plastic bottles as Carnival doesn't care about soft drinks.
We had a balcony cabin midship and for us it is a perfect location. Close to the action on the fifth deck and can get there without the elevator. We had calm seas and sunny weather the whole trip which offered a perfect combination for a good time.
We thought we were getting John Heald as cruise director for the week and we had lunch on Lido on Sunday next to him. He said he remembered us from the Dream in January 2010 and he made us feel welcome. He had a brand new CD on board and Dan turned out to be very good but John was not going to be cruise director for us. Our loss.
This was our first time on the Freedom but we had been on the Glory in 2006 so the layout was familiar. I won't say much about the ports of call except we really like Key West and all the excursions there are well organized, run on time and worth the money. After we left Key West the ship had an medical emergency and had to return near Key West for a ambulance boat to take off a passenger. I bet many passengers did not ever know we visited Key West twice on this trip.
We cruise for several main reasons and one is for the casino. There could have been a fewer newer machines but we got by with the older ones.
Dinner in the evening was a little slow as waiters had lots of tables to cover. Carnival could do a little better here. But the extra time allowed us to enjoy our dinner table companions. We had two delightful couples; one from Rhode Island and the other from Alberta Canada. This is an part of cruising we really enjoy and that is meeting other people from all over.
This might be a good point to comment on some of the other reviews from people who can complain about most anything. It is a kick to read these reviews and imagine how awful it must be to live with these people all the time. We take cruises as an adventure from our regular daily routine and know that there will a few things that happen that are not the most enjoyable; but roll with the deal, right? and have fun. Laugh about it. I have to say something about people who complain about the smoking. On a balcony cabin with the wind there is no way smoke could ruin the trip for someone.
We tendered in the Caymans and the line to get off the ship was very long but to our delight it moved quickly and we were off the ship and on our way in short order.
We were a little surprised to find out there were no production shows a couple of nights. We were also surprised to find Heather Wagner on board as we enjoyed her on the Dream last year. She has a real nice voice.
Here are some new things we learned......Get the future cruise certificate. it is a good deal and you can't lose on it. Totally refundable if you want.
Carnival had a cruise talk seminar that I thought was a good idea. We found out that our personal vacation planner at Carnival is a good way to book which is the method we have been using.
There was a Cruise Critic meet and greet that was a little disappointing. I would have wanted a little presentation from somebody but there was none.
Debark went smoothly and the Freedom published the order of decks to self assist debark and that was helpful. That is the way to do it if you can manage handling the luggage yourself.
All in all we left the week planning the next Carnival cruise. Good job Carnival!