Traveled with 8 other couples all over 40 who have taken many cruises together. We chose this cruise as it was the ship's last trip to Panama, as well as for the extra sea days.
We stayed at the Ft Lauderdale Airport Holiday Inn pre-cruise for the reasonable park & cruise package. Comfortable hotel with a gorgeous pool and great breakfast. Left for cruise port at 10 AM, were at the port by 10:30, and onboard eating lunch by 12 PM. We were in our 10th floor balcony room by 1:30 PM, & I was thrilled to see our luggage was already outside our door! That was a first for us! Our wonderful steward, Pisit, greeted us happliy, and I have to say that he was absolutely the best steward we've ever had. He memorized all his passenger's names, kept everything absolutely spotless and well-stocked, and was always friendly and efficient. Our waiter, Melchor was fabulous as well, quietly and efficiently providing fast, excellent service. The Maitre'd was delightfully charming - he More
stopped by our tables every night to greet us and inquire about the service. We rarely saw the Maitre'd on other cruises, just another example of excellent service by Carnival. We were very pleased with the cleanliness, efficiency, and friendliness of the entire ship's crew. The Cruise Director was funny and sharp, not fake-friendly like some we've had. he reminded me of Conan O'Brien without the smirkiness.
We had dinner on Valentine's Day in the upscale steakhouse. We decided to give it a try based on our cruise mate's as well as other's rave reviews. The venue was slammed for the holiday, and the servers seemed disorganized and overwhelmed. I ordered a 16-oz. rib eye medium rare, but it was gristly. The rest of the meal was good, but we probably wouldn't do it again because of the extra cost. The meals and service in the dining rooms are excellent. We had hoped for a special experience for Valentines, and were disappointed.
I had a shellac manicure on the first day in the spa. It was stated to be guaranteed to last 2 weeks, but 4 of the nails pooped off before the end of the cruise. The spa reapplied 3 of the nails at no extra cost. All of the nails came off within 9 days of application, so I felt ripped off. Beware ladies - NOT a good product.
Once again, we were delighted with the quality of service we experienced on this ship. Carnival is fun and affordable, but they really seem to genuinely care about providing passengers with a great experience. Good food, entertainment, activities, adult space, water features, all good! We like the layout of the Conquest Class ships - have cruised on Carnival behemoth Dream as well as Splendor, and this ship just seems to work better with the public spaces. Debarkation was very fast and orderly. Less
Carnival Freedom Cruises to the Panama Canal & Central America
Colon, Panama - the main reason we picked this cruise. This was Freedom's last cruise on this itinerary. Our whole group booked a Carnival excursion to tour the canal. Colon was decidedly 3rd world, lots of trash everywhere and nearly all the buildings were barred. We took a 1-1/2 hour bus ride to the Pacific side near Panama City, which from the mouth of the canal looked to have a skyline rivaling Chicago's or many other large cities. We then boarded an excursion boat to tour the locks. We went about 3/4 of the way through the canal, ending at Gatun Lake. The 8-hour tour was informative and interesting for about the first couple of hours, but then just became tedious and hot. The plastic chairs were uncomfortable and the lunch was awful. The debarkation from the excursion boat was extremely disorganized, with many elderly folks standing in the hot sun for 1/2 hour waiting to re-board the buses.
Beautiful port with mountains above the sea. We booked at snorkeling-eco tour through Charlie Soto at Cahuita National Park - tremendous guide, nice clean new car, and just the 2 of us! Loved it = saw lots of natural beauty (sloths, monkeys), and fish. Visibility wasn't nearly as good as Cozumel, but a good trip nonetheless. Charlie & his guys really provided us with a great tour