We were already scheduled on the Freedom for 22 December with family, but found a suite on the 15 December cruise and decided to make it a back-to-back. Luckily it was a fantastic choice. We've sailed Carnival before and had some good and some not so good experiences, but dang. Things have changed. I'll say up front that I don't know if the great changes are company-wide or if it's just on the Freedom, but Carnival has really upped their game. From check-in to debarkation, we couldn't have been more pleased. Well, perhaps if one of the lady passengers hadn’t already been so drunk when we did the muster drill that she spilled the ample contents of her stomach all over the deck and the passengers unlucky enough to be standing near her, that might have started us out a little better. But the crew handled it perfectly and that was that.
The cabins on both cruises were clean, well-kept and spacious (7299 on the first cruise and 7262 on the second). The Grand Suite was the biggest room we've ever had on a ship before and the Ocean Suite on the second half of the cruise was more than adequate. The Grand Suite even had a jetted tub, something I used several times with much enjoyment. Cabin stewards in both were great, but Putu was outstanding on the second voyage we took. More importantly, Carnival treats you as a suite guest even if you're not in their largest suites. We cruised Royal Caribbean in April of this year and had a Junior Suite. They don't consider the Junior Suite a suite, regardless of what they call it. That was disappointing, and it was great to not have a similar experience with Carnival.
The first sailing had ports of call in Cozumel, Belize and Roatan, but due to a very strong, fast-moving cold front we were only able to port in Cozumel prior to the front's arrival. After the front passed, we had 10-20 foot seas and 50+ knot winds - gale conditions. First off, the ship handled beautifully. We could tell there was adverse weather outside, but skillful navigation and decision making by Captain Costi gave us a great ride. We did not port at either Belize (no shore excursions planned) or Roatan (a sailing shore excursion planned). One negative comment here - we tried to discuss the situation with the Shore Excursion folks, but the fool behind the desk actually said "I have no idea what you're talking about." when we were discussing the gale conditions. I know there's money on the line with them, but it seemed when there was bad news to be passed, the Shore Excursion people would simply disappear. And when you could find them, those we found were completely unresponsive to any adverse conditions.