My wife and I left the kids behind for a quiet vacation. We drove to Pt Canaveral from SC the day before. We have stayed and parked at the Radisson, Country Inn and residence Inn on prior cruises. This time, we chose to stay and park at the Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach. It is a clean, moderately priced hotel with beach access. Cocoa Beach offers restaurants and shopping near the hotel. We took the short shuttle ride at 11:00 on cruise morning.
We arrived at the port around 11:15 with no traffic problems. Dropping off the luggage was fast, as was checking in. There was a short wait of 5-10 minutes before we could board. The Windjammer was ready for us and was not overly crowded for embarkation day. Our cabin was a hump balcony and was ready at 1:00, as scheduled. We were pleasantly surprised that we did not have to take our life jackets to the lifeboat drill!
We had not cruised on a ship as large as Freedom. Our biggest ship prior was Mariner. Freedom is larger, but not so much that is very noticeable. It was easy to navigate Freedom's decks and we did not feel crowded on board. Freedom is a beautiful ship with many features. The large touch screens made navigation easy and provided much information on the venues and activities on the ship. We used the walking track and my wife used the gym. There were ample pools and jacuzzis. Finding chairs near the pool was not an issue.
We enjoyed the large screen near the main pool. Football was shown and movies on the other nights. Unfortunately, it broke down near the end of the week. we did enjoy two movies on two nights during the week.
I did play golf one night. I enjoyed watching the wave rider as well. We are veteran cruisers and generally don't go to all of the shows. This cruise, we chose to watch movies or take a walk around the ship rather than attend the shows. Many people at our dinner area thought they were excellent. Maybe next time.
We chose My Time Dining for this cruise. I made reservations for each night many weeks earlier. I chose 6:00 most nights and requested a table for 2. The first night, they were not able to seat us at a table for 2 at 6:00. We sat at a table for 8 with one other couple. Our server for that night, Vincent, was very good and I actually got to know him very well. He waited on me almost every day in the Windjammer for other meals and always made it a point to talk with me. After that night, I realized that dining began at 5:30, not 6:00. I changed our reservations to 5:30 for the rest of the week, except the day we were in Cozumel.
After the first night, we sat at a table for 2 looking out the window on the sea! In many prior cruises we had never had seats near the window. Our wait staff was the same after the first night and they were excellent! We sat beside several other couples and got to know them during the week. For us, My Time Dining offered flexibility and still allowed us to meet other diners. We did learn that the wait staff assigned to My Time Dining are the highest rated servers. I guess that makes sense, given that tips are pre-paid for My Time Dining. It is hard for me to believe people actually stiff the servers and cabin attendants, but it is apparently common. Our wait staff certainly earned the extra tips we gave them after a week of outstanding service.
We had been to all of the ports except Falmouth, Jamaica. It is still under construction, but there are many shops open. Some were open, but had no electricity yet. Falmouth will not be a great shopping port, but will have a nice area just off the ship. We did not do any excursions, but got off at each port and enjoyed our time walking and shopping.
Our cabin was 7340. It is a balcony cabin on the hump. You can see all the way forward or aft from the balcony.. The hump did seem more private and we barely noticed our neighbors from our balcony. The cabin is very convenient to the elevators and we never heard any noise from the hall or elevator area.
We chose self embarkation and were off by 7:00. It was very easy. We enjoyed Freedom and look forward to sailing on her again soon.