My DNW and I were married on 11/11/11 and decided to take our Honeymoon on the Freedom. I had sailed with CCL a couple of times previous but this was my DNW first cruise. We decided to get the Aft Wrap Cabin 8455. the cabin was a little bit small but the deck was huge, had about a 270 degree view of whatever you wanted. The bed that everyone claims is nice was lumpy and kept the two of us on separate sides.
We stayed at the Hyatt Place South had a nice room, but they need to work on their shuttles. More on that later. The shuttle got us there about 10:30 am and we were given Zone 6, my DNW is blind in one eye and low site in the other. We were asked if we wanted a wheelchair, which she declined, as we get around nicely. The staff allowed us to get on board with the others that needed some extra time. Staff on board the ship took the extra time for her, a young Jr hostess (Aileen) from the Chic diningroom was on the Lido Deck directing folks. My DNW had to use the ladies room and Aileen was great, she took her in to the woman's rest room, stayed and they walked her back to me. When ever we saw her she would ask if we needed anything and asked how Dawn was doing. She would help us every night with a nice table, as they had us in the center of the dining room. Dawn doesn't do steps well, so she put us on the lower area, usually next to a window an a table for 2. The dining room also had large print menus for her and large print Fun times that were delivered to the rom, almost everynight, which were printed on 11x17 paper.
We had anytime dining and on the first night, we had to wait for only a few minutes, the Maitre D was fabulous with us for the entire cruise. Our Waiters for the first night were Noel, Basil and Radojka who did a decent job helping us with our dinner service, but appeared overzelous during service. They knew the menu and would suggest different things. We turned in early and missed the show, as we am normally up at 0500 and took us a few days to get use to the new late night hours. LOL
We had room service the next day to watch the sunrise and get ready for Key West. I was told that if you ask for 2 creamers they bring you two little creamers or if you ask for butter they bring a pat of butter. NOT THE CASE. I asked for coffee for 2 people, two full pots, cereal two box per serving, 4 creamers which were the type that have little creamer pitchers full of it. Otherwise a ton of food.
We got off the ship without a hitch and found the Old Town Trolley. We were able to get our picture at the southern most point before the line hit, about 15 mins later. In Key West they have chickens running everywhere, I tried to get a picture of one crossing the road, but there were to dang fast. So I never got the picture of a chicken crossing the road. We were going to go see Hemingway's house until we found out it would have been over $25 to see the 6 toed cats. So we skipped that. Finished the walking part of the tour and hopped a ride back to De-vol Street, where he had lunch at Jimmy Buffets and had the Cheese Burger which really was good and great atmosphere. A must try. After buying a few things from the street vendors, we hopped back on the ship.
Back to the room and hung out on the deck until Dinner, that night we had I Ketut, Chaiykul and Alejandro for our waiters. Afterwards, I went down to Guest Services afterwards to see about the special seating for my DNW and I for the shows, due to her condition, we had a letter from her doctor specifying what services she needed. The Customer Dis service person said they they don't do anything special for seeing impaired people besides offering tings in braille. I informed her that I was already in contact with CCL about it and was told to make sure to show you the letter and the CD would take care of it. She started to argue with me over it. I asked to speak with the CD, the Asst CD arrived a few minutes later and asked us what shows we would like the seating arrangements for. Done. We were asked to call a head of time if we were not going to make a show, to allow others the front row seats. Even after calling the Guest Service person the waited on us, would call and wake us up to aks if we were going to the show. She did speak with a supervisor for guest services and did not see her the rest of the curise. After that was taken care of, we walked around the ship for a while to get oriented and sat on the balcony for some time. then to bed.
Tuesday was a sea day so lots of relaxing on the balcony, People watching on the Lido and a bucket of beer and some mixed drinks. I worked in Mental Health for yrs and wonder shy people seek me out for advice. Our server appeared to have girl problems so we talked that for a bit. LOL We had Elegant night and dressed to the 9s for it. Had several nice pictures taken but most were just.... well pictures. That night we had Sunita, I Wayan and Mary as servers, they were Fantastic and requested them for the rest of the cruise. The prime rib was good but thin and the lobster was fair at best, but neither of us really like lobster. The show for the nigh was canceled due to sound system issue, but was put on Friday night. So some more pictures and then back to the balcony to watch the stars. The next day we were going to Grand Cayman, which we would need a tender for. We were told to be there at the tenders 15 minutes early and they would make sure that Dawn had a seat. It was cute the staff on the tender picked her up and told some guy to move and sat her in the front. LOL
We did a Best of Cayman tour offered by CCL and have to say for a place that we really didn't want to do anything, we had a great time and will be going back for a vacation there. The turtle farm was great a must see. In fact we will be doing the Turtles, Turtles and more turtles tour when we go. We live in Florida, so sand bars and Sting Rays aren't a huge thing for us. bought some Rum Cake from the Rum Cake factory and we also went to the Hell Post Office. We were told that we would have about 40 minutes there, as we wanted to send post cards, in turn we had about 15 minutes and even with the owner helping, we were late to the bus. So had one picture of the lava beds and that was it. When we boarded the ship I told the Excursion desk of the issue, and was told that they would take with the bus operator about it. As they didn't know, I didn't ask for a refund as it was a little inconvenience but the rest of the tour was great. That night we had Chefs Table, if you can get, it do it. Here was our experience. We met Chef Sam, the head chef for the Freedom in the kitchen and was given a tour of the kitchen. We had our appetizers at one of the prep tables, that were;
1st course Ahi Tuna Tartar,with a Wasabi Crisp; Duck Pot Sticker;a steak mini taco and Avocado wasabi cheesecake. All wonderful, we both where surprised about the Tuna Tartar and neither one us like raw fish. We were then taken to chef's private dining room and seated. During this time Chef Sam took special consideration of Dawn and personally seated her. Did I mention lots of champagne and wine. LOL the main courses, I think most thought they had to order from the personalized menus which follows:
2nd course Norwegian Salmon Tartar
3rd course - fire roasted Tomato and poblano Chili Bisque - not spicy and chilled
4th course - Rock Shrimp and Apple Beignets
5th course Chopped Mediterranean Salad
6th course - Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass
7th course - Aged Fillet Mignon
8th course - Chocolate Melting cake with a raspberry sorbet and a white chocolate gelatin strip over it.
but no ordering. the chef from each specialty made your course. Wonderful night, at the end we received two photos of everyone at the dinner. It was a 3 hr experience that I gladly paid the extra $75 for and will do it again if we can.
Next day Ohio Rios, have a 3 1/2 hour tour planned, having romantic ride down the Martha Brae river on a bamboo raft with a river guide. Then lunch at Scichee's for some real Jamaican Jerk.
So we got up early out of our lumpy bed, and then watched docking in to Jamaica and the smell was like nothing I have ever smelled before. While in the habor you could smell a sweet flowery thing, it turned otu the flowers grew in vines that you couldnt see. We got dressed and had breakfast on the Lido deck before meeting the tour bus for our experience, booked through CCL also.
We met our guide under a huge tent and was lead to a large bus, then switched a a much smaller van that had jumpseats, so the 9 person van raly heald 14. Our new guide tried to put us up front, but with her sight and I'm a big at almost 300 lbs that wasn't going to happen. In the back of this piss poor van that should have been in a junk yard and not on the road. Did I mention that this van was a diesel and would lose compression when going up hill. Folks, what is Jamaica? one huge hill. So our 3 1/2 tour of the river was really a 1 1/2 in an over loaded and over heated van full of upset people with no ac, as the van lost power up hill. When we finally got to the Martha Brae we had to wait almost an hr for river guides, while dodging pushy sales people. The required life vest that they give myself and a few other guys were for people up to 90 lbs. Again I am about 300. I asked for two so I could have water wings. LOL
Dawn got on the raft and sat to a broken seat back, I got on and my size 13 EEE foot went through the bamboo, nice and relaxing.
So we sat on the edge of a raft falling apart for almost an hr, as Clayton our really very nice guide told about several things on the river. The river itself was very pretty and am sure when a better raft, very relaxing but it was neither to us. the people on shore would throws to you, if you picked up out of the river, you bought it. Clayton did carve a nice momento for out of a local fruit and put the date, where we were and our names and that it was our honeymoon. I told her was a nice guy.
I wanted Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee, as it is very expensive here in the states. At the rafting store it was $35 a lb with no haggling, so I walked away. When we got back to the end of the river, they had to help me and my DNW off the flooding raft. Back to the un air conditional bus for the ride back to the ship. It was the ride to hell and back. When we got back to the port, the driver took us to a shopping area to buy some stuff. Again VERY Pushy people. but I used my size to my advantage 6' 1" 300lbs and my Mental Health background came in handy too. We asked where my DNW could use a bathroom, any shop. So we went to one that had t shirts and other tourist stuff, as we had some things to buy. Asked to use the restroom and rudely told no. we started to leave and the guy got in front ome and asked if we wanted to buy anything. I told him not now and he attempted to keep me in the store. We just wanted a restroom and a place to purchase some things. All of a sudden they had a restroom , too late. I told him to get the **** out of my way and exited the shop like a bull in a china shop. finally found one and another smaller shop. got my $35 a lb coffee for 18. Found some rum and a couple o other items.
Now back to ship, where I waited for the Excursion desk to open. A young lady opened the office door and I asked when I could speak to someone about our day. She said at 4pm, I told her NOW. A few minutes went by and wheat looked like a woman with JG bars asked if she could help me. I told her about the excursion and showed her pictures. I didn't even have to ask for a refund, as she did it on her own. And said that they would investigate it. she asked me to send them the pictures and a statement, which I did that night. A person from CCL Miami contacted me the day after we got home. So I can't say that Ocho Rios is bad, just our experience on the 6 hrs and 10 min excursion was.
The rest of the cruise was great, able to just hang out and relax. We watched the Beatles Review that night and then the little Jr Hostess that was so nice to us came up to us on our last night and sang "I'll Always Love you" at our table. Chef Sam and the Maitre D both checked on us that night.
So taking everything in to account I would give our experience a 9 out of 10. and yes they had a meet and great for CC folks, there were about 20 on the roll call but only 3 couples showed up. The CD was present in the lounge they had for us.
I would highly recommend the Freedom and the crew, -1, were great. We will be booking our next cruise soon to the southern Caribbean very soon.
Oh and bout the Hyatt place's shuttle. When we disembarked I called them, and was told that there wre no suttles for several hrs as they didnt do them in the morning. So I am still waiting for a call back from the General manager at the Hyatt Place.