We just returned from the October 22nd sailing of the Freedom. We booked this cruise in celebration of my and my wife's 25th wedding anniversary. We nearly didn't get to go. A few weeks prior to the cruise my wife was diagnosed with gall stones and had to have her gall bladder removed, and due to some complications she ended up hospitalized for a week. After she was released, and we knew that she would be okay, we still feared that she might not be cleared to travel. On the Wednesday just prior to the cruise she received the "OK" from her doctor, but with strict guidelines on physical activity and diet. Our cruise quickly shifted from an adventurous excursion packed week to one of complete relaxation and recuperation.
I can say with complete honesty that there is absolutely nothing about which I can or care to complain. In fact, quite the opposite. Each staff member with which we came in contact was friendly, responsive, polite, and professional. We tried the steakhouse for the first time, on our anniversary, and it is truly something not to be missed. The staff in both the steakhouse and the main dining room took great care with my wife's dietary restrictions.
We greatly enjoyed meeting the folks from our roll call, especially at the cocktail hour that one of our members set up. :)
We truly enjoyed the Latin trio that played in the main lobby most nights before dinner. They are gifted musicians, and we actually found ourselves hating to leave the lobby to go to dinner. The piano player who played on the other nights was just okay, but he was nowhere near on par with the trio. Had it not been for the trio being so good we probably wouldn't have considered him "just okay".
Our original itinerary had us going to Cozumel, Costa Rica, and Panama. We made it to Cozumel, but then diverted east and away from the hurricane, going instead to Jamaica and Grand Turk. There were quite a few folks that were disappointed by the itinerary change due to the hurricane, with missing the rain forest being the one thing most commonly mentioned. Like most we talked with we knew that the decision was made with our safety in mind, so we chalked it up to the adventure of cruising, and just rolled with it and adjusted our plans. We ended up booking the Sea Winds all inclusive excursion in Jamaica and had a wonderfully relaxing day on the beach. In Grand Turk, my wife surprised me with the Ultimate Snorkeling excursion while she did some light shopping then enjoyed a nearly empty Serenity deck. The tour company that runs the Ultimate Snorkel excursion has a top notch operation. They were very safety minded yet still fun and engaging, and their equipment was in very good condition.
We were booked in cabin 9203, which is an "interior obstructed view" cabin. This is a handicapped cabin, which we booked knowing that if someone truly in need required the cabin we would gladly be giving it up to them. This cabin has a forward facing window, the view of which is partially obstructed by the forward railing. The door to the observation area outside of our window was just down the hall, which was very nice when arriving and departing from the ports. With the lights on in the cabin people on deck just outside the cabin could see in very clearly, so we had to be conscious of keeping the curtains closed whenever changing or, you know. :rolleyes: :) I would say the only true downside to this cabin is that there is no "hallway" when you come in the door, so [I]any[/I] noise in the passageway could be clearly heard in the room. Ear plugs at night fixed that in short order. ;)
Here is the link to our pictures on Flickr, which includes videos of the cabin layout. [URL="http://www.flickr.com/photos/davwoj/sets/72157628013518706/"]Pictures[/URL]
Long story short, this cruise was everything we expected and needed, and we'll definitely be cruising with Carnival again. In fact, we're booked on the January 21st sailing of the Liberty. :)