Overall Rating: Excellent
|Destination:||Caribbean - Eastern|
|Departed From:||Ft Lauderdale|
|# of Nights:||8 Nights|
We specifically booked Carnival Freedom Sept 7, 2013 for the itinerary and the fact that we were on this ship Sept 2012 and had a wonderful experience. We selected the same aft balcony and had a similar experience with INCREDIBLE service - this time with Darwin.
We purposely flew into Ft Lauderdale 2 days early because it takes a full day just to get there. We left Tucson at 5am and arrived by 6pm. Southwest is definitely the way to travel as each passenger is still allowed to check in 2 bags and carry-on a bag. I tried to pack light, but still ended up with everything in 3 checked bags.
We stayed at the Best Western Airport/Cruise Port hotel and were extremely pleased. Free transportation from the airport to the hotel saved us about $20-$25. We were walking distance to a shopping center where there were a few restaurants and a grocery store. After settling in, we ventured to dinner and enjoyed watching NFL football as it premiered while eating.
Marcy and James travelled with us and the 4 of us trekked to the grocery store for the carryon ship items: soda, water, hand sanitizer, etc.
On Friday, we all met up with a dear friend of mine whom I hadn't seen for almost 40 years. Robin and her husband recently purchased a 2nd home in Plantation, Fla. We met up at a deli and sat and visited and shared stories of when the 2 of us were in camp in the Poconos (PA) -- way back in the 70's. We then went to her house and shared more tales. Jerry, James and Marcy were most forgiving as the 2 of us went down memory lane, picture-by-picture. We had an incredible day visiting and ended it with a delicious dinner at Bahama Breeze. (We tried to get the early island feel!)
Embarking on the ship as a Platinum member is extremely easy. It took us less than 10 minutes to get from the drop off of our luggage onto the main deck of the ship. Marcy and James said that it took them less than 15 minutes to go through the mainstream line. Evidently, Carnival had sent out email messages advising the passengers on what time to board the ship and most adhered to their time schedule. This really eased the congestion.
Our rooms were not quite ready so we headed to the Lido deck to begin the feeding frenzy. Jerry headed up to the Fish & Chips and had his long awaited bowl of boulabaise (I'm sure I didn't spell it correctly). His smile was from ear to ear.
(The Lido deck dining has excellent signage as to what types of foods are available and where they are. Except for one seaday brunch, we had all of our breakfast and lunch at the Lido deck. The Mongolian Buffet continued to be popular and the lines were long, but the wait was worth it. Fresh veggies every day!)
Marcy and I used the time after lunch to get our balcony doors unlocked. The purser's desk was well staffed and extremely helpful. Again, being Platinum pays off. Our request was honored within 5 minutes of standing in line. We then headed to anytime dining to meet with their staff about my food allergies. The hostess was well versed and wrote down everything that I could not have. She said that I would be greeted each meal to select the next menu. To make it easy on them, I selected salmon for Sat's dinner.
Our rooms were available to us somewhere around 1:30 and our luggage started coming shortly thereafter. We headed back to the main pool area on deck 9 after our drill and danced our way out of Ft Lauderdale. I'm sure James or Marcy will have posted pictures on Facebook!
Unpacked, relaxed and time for dinner. Princess and Judit greeted us at the hostess station. Immediately sat us (table of 4) and confirmed my list of food allergies. Princess took excellent care of me and made sure that I had plenty to eat. She checked back with me at least 2 times during each meal to make sure that I was "taken care of" and to get the next night's order.
Sunday and Monday were sea days. They were also brunch days in the main dining room. Brunch is something new that Carnival has added to their sea days. EXCELLENT change. This was Sunday brunch was where we found our waitstaff for the remainder of the cruise. We cannot say enough about Made, Danijela, Ivana and Amit. We had a blast every night and didn't mind waiting for tables to become available at their station.
We did go to the Comedy Club one of these nights while Jerry played blackjack. He did manage to win a little bit and we did manage to laugh. Not the funniest comedian, but not the worst.
Monday was the first formal night. While it is true that most people don't dress "to the nines", they do come to the dining room looking nice. We did have to wait about 25 minutes for a table, but it was worth it. Jerry and James both commented that they had some of the best beef ever on this cruise. (That and the desserts ...)
Tuesday we were in St. Thomas. Jerry and I took the mini-boat adventure excursion. Definitely worth the $100/person. He drove, I rode and clentched on for my life. There were times where the nose of the mini-boat was so high in the ocean that we could not see where we were headed. I'll try and get those pictures posted either here or on facebook. We stopped at an incredible snorkeling site and I just swam around in the ocean without any equipment ... that's how calm the water was!
Wednesday we visited Antigua. We all took the Catamarian/snorkel excursion. Again, the water was picture perfect. We stopped at 2 sites and again, I swam around without any equipment. We beached the catamarian at the second stop and had the private beach all to ourselves.
Thursday was Tortola. Our only complaint about Tortola was that we had to leave by 2pm. We hired a driver who took us all over the island, stopping for pictures, some time at the beach and a visit to the rum distillery. We got a little nervous when it was 1and we were no where close to the ship. But he managed to get us back with plenty of time to spare.
Island - Island - Island is not our preference. However, these 3 ports were beautiful and I'd return again!
Friday was a sea day. Marcy, James and I walked all over the ship, partaking in trivia games, dancing, pool watching, etc. Jerry tried his hand in the casino and didn't fare very well, but had fun.
Friday was the second formal night. We did notice that the dressy-ness wasn't like the first night, but most of the folks did adhere to looking nice. We did see men and women in shorts in the dining room at dinner. We were surprised, but not offended as they were longer in length and looked appropriate for "island wear" rather than "beach wear".
Went back to the Comedy Club and this guy was hysterical. Standing room only on all the shows. I think his name was Ce-Jay. I have the papers at home and can look it up. Marcy and James went to the Beatles tribute this night as well. They said it was fantastic. Jerry and I saw it last year and loved it, which is why we opted out.
We docked in Nassau about 1pm Saturday and stayed there until 7pm. I think they can skip Nassau altogether and add extra time to Tortola. I did put that on my comment card. Let's hope others had the same observation. We ended up on another Catamarian/Snorkel excursion. The ocean was much choppier this particular afternoon and we could see the storms in the Fla. area. The snorkeling, however, was incredible. Again, I went without any equipment and I could see the fish and the reefs directly under me.
We were exhausted, hot, sticky and tired by the time we got back to the boat on Saturday. Mustered enough energy to get ready for another incredible meal. As Marcy put it, James and Jerry ate 2 frogs (frog legs), 1 chicken (they had to try the fried chicken) and 1 cow. They rolled us out of there! We did manage to go to the 10:30 show where the guests impersonate singers, etc. This was very well put together and made for a great ending of the night.
There was every genre of music available on this particular sailing. The DJ at the main pool was fabulous and the noise level was perfect. You could actually have conversations and not scream! The live music outside of the casino varied almost daily. Oldies were heard most of the time at the main lobby area.
We opted to take our own luggage off the ship. Most probably because we were too exhausted (and lazy) to pack Sat night. This really wasn't a problem and from the looks of things, many passengers also opted to self-assist.
Debarking began around 7am. We didn't leave until closer to 9 as our flight was 12:45 out of Ft Lauderdale. We availed ourselves to one last delicious breakfast at the Lido deck.
The weather was perfect. We never felt the boat movement. Clouds came and went. We had a few quick showers in places, but no storms. The humidity did increase by the time we got to Nassau. Overall, no complaints in that department.
There were 3 ship emergencies during our cruise. The first emergency was when the coast guard cutter boat came around 10pm to take a passenger off. We were on our way to St. Thomas but no where close. The announcements were concise and non-alarming, but we were told what was going on. Found out later on that the passenger had choked and they couldn't dislodge the meat. They did, however, meet the ship in Antigua and continue their cruise.
The second emergency was the ambulance greeting the ship as we docked in St. Thomas. From what we heard, this passenger hadn't taken his medication. His bag never made it to his stateroom (Why didn't he have it with him, we all asked???). But returned to the ship before we sailed away.
The third emergency was the coast guard helicopter lowering the basket on to deck 10 aft to airlift the passenger off the ship on Saturday morning. The first distress call was made at 7am when they called for medical staff to report to a certain area. The next call was at 7:30am when we were told what was happening. It took the helicopter a number of tries and we could see everything from our balcony. Not sure what happened, but we got the feeling that it was serious.
Sadly, our cruise has come to an end. (Which is probably the only complaint that we had.) From start to finish, we had a wonderful vacation. We highly recommend this itinerary, this ship and at Carnival.