Embarkation - We arrived early at the FLL airport. As we were getting our luggage we were approached by a "Bags to Go" representative. For six dollars a bag our luggage was transported from the airport to the Cruise Terminal. We didn't see our bags again until they arrived at our cabin later that afternoon. This was a great service and turned out better than expected. We got to the terminal early, around 10 am, and at that time the terminal was not accepting luggage for incoming passengers. Since we did the "Bags to Go" at the airport and didn't have our luggage with us we were able to check in early. Once we checked in we waited until about 11:30 before going on the ship. We were one of the first on board. The port was very busy as there were 5 other ships leaving that day.
Cabin - We booked an aft balcony cabin on the Upper Deck (6485). It was a standard Carnival balcony cabin and we had no problems with the cabin during the trip. Our steward, Jerrold, was excellent, always greeting us by name. He kept our room clean and we got a towel animal each night after the first night. The balcony was great. We were next a large wrap-around aft balcony. If we had been traveling with others that balcony would have been terrific. As we were not traveling with anyone else this trip the balcony we had was perfect.
Food/Dining Room - We booked this cruise only 30 days prior to the sail date and the late dining was our only available option. We tried to switch to the early dining time after embarkation but were unable to do so. However the Maitre'd did try to accommodate us by switching us to a table for two at our later seating. We decided to eat in the Supper Club the first night. It was wonderful, the portions maybe a bit too large. We were quite stuffed when we left. There is a promotion in the Supper Club on the first night, each table receives a complimentary bottle of wine. The wine choice is limited to one of two, a red or a white (chardonnay), but it was free and it was ok. The second night we had dinner in the main dining room at the later seating in our table for two. We spoke to the Maitre'd again that night and were able to switch to an early seating for the remainder of the cruise. We were very happy. We were seated at a table for 8 but only six of us were there each night. We met two great couples and really enjoyed their company. The food in the main dining room was excellent. There were plenty of different selections. We loved everything. We tried the "didja" (food you always wanted to try but didn't dare) several nights, It was all great although I don't think I will ever want to try frog legs again. Our wait staff was excellent, Rodolfo our head waiter, made some great dinner recommendations and entertained us with some magic and card tricks. The portion size is very good, you leave full but not stuffed... unless you want to be stuffed. Overall a great dining experience.
Ports - Key West, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios. We did the Carnival Nature Kayak tour in Key West. This was a great excursion and there were only six of us, which I think was unusual for a Carnival excursion. We were driven to the other side of the island by Lazy Dog outfitters. We had a two hour kayak tour of the mangroves where we saw Iguanas, Herons, a sea cucumber, and many other creatures. My DH and I are in our late 40's . I am not all that physically fit and the Kayaking was not very difficult at all, (I was a little concerned). It was very informative we had a terrific guide. We would highly recommend this excursion. We were driven back to town on the opposite side of the island, so we really got a great tour of Key West driving to and from our excursion location. We got back around noon, found a great pub for lunch and walked around Duval Street for a couple of hours. Grand Cayman. We took the bus to Seagrape beach, rented a couple of chairs and had lunch at Calico Jacks. It was a very relaxing day, there were bathrooms facilities and changing rooms. In Ocho Rios we did the River Tubing on the White River with Calypso tubing and then went on to Dunns Falls. We had set up with Phil Lafayette to drive us to both excursions and be our tour guide for the day. We were the only two people booked with Phil that day, but we met a family on the pier from the ship who were looking for an excursion and they tagged along with us. This was an amazing day. Our group of six was 2 children 5 and 9, two adults around 30 and the two of us. We all had a great time tubing on the White River and then walking up the falls. Because I am not in great physical shape I was concerned about the walk up the falls. The walk was slow and steady almost anyone can do it. The falls are beautiful. Phil took us to lunch at "Scotchies" after we finished at the Falls. It is a great local restaurant, we had jerk pork and chicken, and a red stripe it was all delicious. I would highly recommend Phil Lafayette (jamaicaphil dot com) and both the White River tubing and Duns Falls to any one visiting Ocho Rios.
On board experience -We booked this cruise to get some much needed time alone and relaxation. We watched Sunday and Monday night football on the big screen. We loved the Piano bar. We went to the "Big Easy" and "Ticket to Ride" shows, both were great. Ticket to Ride was especially good. There was plenty to do, or you could just relax. We found a great balance of both. We would definitely go on the Freedom again.
Debarkation - We were hoping to do luggage express but since our flight home left FLL at 11:10 we were unable to. The earliest flight for luggage express from FLL is 11:30. Customer service did give us early luggage tags due to our early flight. We walked off the ship around 8:15 am, our luggage was waiting for us in the terminal. We quickly went through Customs, grabbed a cab and arrived at the airport by 9am.