We had 12 people with us on this cruise, 6 adults and 6 kids. The adults were 40-50 and the kids 10-14. About half of us had cruised before. We chose to drive to FT Lauderdale because of the high airline prices. We came in on Saturday and stayed at The Hyatt Place about 5 mins from the port. We got a great rate,the staff were very friendly, and the hotel was nice.
We got to the port at 10:00 am, which is early, but we were some of the first people on the ship by 11:30 am. I recommend getting there early so you don't have to wait in long lines as Port Everglades is a very busy place. Once on the ship we headed straight to the Lido deck and hung out by the pool and grabbed some lunch. We met our favorite bar waiter on the first day "Redman" and he took care of us very well for the rest of the cruise. He even remembered us by the names we are called, not the name on the sail & sign card.
Our rooms were ready by 1:30 and we headed up to unpack. The rooms are good size and have plenty of storage. We only had 1 problem, our shower flooded the bathroom, but our cabin steward always cleaned it up, so no big deal. Also, our steward always had the room cleaned and restocked with towels after we went out for awhile.
I have read many reviews complaining about the decor of the ship, the food,smoking, and people saving lounge chairs. First, I didn't see anything wrong with decor and if you are worried about the color of the wallpaper, you are not going to have a good time on your vacation. The food was absolutely great in the dining rooms and the Sun King steakhouse. The buffets were like any other buffet, but I thought most food was good. I do not smoke, and did not
have a problem with smokers anywhere, and I spent a lot of time in the casino. As far as people saving lounge chairs, most people want to be by the pool areas, and if you want a chair you will need to get up by 7 am and reserve one. That just how it is. Our group spent most of the day hanging out around the pools and had a great time.
I felt that all of the staff were very friendly and helpful whenever we needed them. Debarkation was very simple, we did the self assist and were in our cars before 7 am. We were all very impressed with the Freedom ship and would recommend this trip to anyone.