We drove down from North Florida to Ft. Lauderdale the night before. Stayed at Cambria Suites for a room and parking for 8days for what they charge to leave your vehicle at the port. A very nice place to stay. We were traveling with two children 8yo and 13yo. I do not recommend getting to the port at 2pm or after. If you plan on staying at this hotel be sure you book the shuttle when you make reservations, we were pushing it for time. ( ask for the cruise transport and room special they have)Getting on the ship was no problem other than hot and carrying a 12pk of water and coke per person. It was a handful at the time but well worth the savings when we got on the ship. We have sailed Carnival several times before and always were on the Rivera Deck in the middle of the ship but I let them talk me into moving up to the front of the ship on the Empress deck . Never Again! When the seas are rough you are rocking so badly. My husband, myself and 13yo daughter put the trans derm patch behind our ears. Wish I had done this for my 8yo she was so sick, and so was everyone on the ship from rough seas. That was only the first two nights. Gave her Bonine and a patch and she was better the next day. We were traveling with 21 friends. Some of them were on the Rivera when visiting there room you could tell that the rocking was MUCH LESS ! If you are in doubt about being sick use the patch and get a room middle of the ship on the Riveria deck .
Freedom is an older boat. No complaints other than it was extremely difficult to find your way until the 7th day J. The Big Easy and the Beatles shows are a MUST see! They were extremely breathtaking! A whole lot of talent on this boat. I read reviews from others that said they were no good? It was great! Comedian RJ Mclellan and the Ventriloquist were so FUNNY!!! Even the non R rated version. Food was GREAT!
ST Thomas- did not do any excursions but shops were nice and enjoyed Senior Frogs.
Antigua- Absolutely breathtaking beaches. My friend was getting married at the beach so we hired Lawrence of Antigua tours and he toured us through the island and to the wedding destination. Took us to the beach- Looked like a picture it was so breath taking. Highly recommend seeing the Rain Forest and beaches. Shelly the photographer from over there toured with us and it was great!
Tortola- beautiful as well! No shore excursions with the kids. Shopped
I have to give a huge shout out to the camp carnival. Both of my girls LOVED IT! They would rather be in the camp carnival for their age groups than with us. I was hesitant at first but once you see how great they are with the kids it was well worth it. No additional charge unless you want to leave them past 10pm. It was nice when we wanted to see the R rated comedy. I felt extremely confident in their staff and I am way overprotective with my girls. Slides were good for my 8yo. I read about people hogging the chairs, hectic the first couple of days but not after that. Movies outside on the main screen were nice.
I am extremely satisfied with the ship and staff. As usual they go out of their way to keep your rooms clean and wait on you hand and foot. Several nights ordered room service after midnight and that was nice. They have an awesome Deli that makes sandwiches for you, a Sushi bar, and Fish and Chips. Several options other ships we were on did not offer. Ryan the Cruise Director was GREAT as well. Mistee was rather annoying- tried to tune her out- she tried to be loud and funny but it was just not working for me.
Being able to bring one bottle of 750ml wine per person and a 12pk of coke or water per person saved us a lot of money with the kids. They have the unlimited bubbles card but it was nice to have this in the room and not having to purchase coke at $2.24/each. I highly recommend going online and buy drink tickets before you sail. We booked our cruise 6mos in advance and I bought 4 drink coupons for $23.00 every week and this was a huge saving for my husband and I on alcoholic beverages. If you are a beer drinker the cheapest place we found (last day uggh) was draft beer right by the purser's desk. It was only $4.24 for draft when we had been paying $24 for a bucket or almost $8.00 for one. Wish we would have found this out earlier in the week.
Band of the cruise- They were the BEST!! Not sure of their names but they are the same ones that play in the Beatles show.
Best tip I received from Cruise Critic was ordering the drink tickets before hand, carrying on wine, carrying on water/cokes, and watching the price of the early saver rate. When the price dropped I filled out the form on Carnival online and when we got on the ship we had a $400 credit!! That was NICE!
We had a great time! Loved it ! And look forward to sailing again on Carnival in the near future.