Feb 14 – Feb 22, 2009
8 Day Western Caribbean
Cozumel – Costa Rica – Panama
First – a little background. I (Liza) am a 41 y.o. single mom with 4 kids. I have cruised as the single adult with kids, with a BF and also solo. The Freedom was my 6th Carnival cruise. This particular cruise was a vacation for myself and my 2 oldest daughters – Rachel,19 and Emma, 16. This was my oldest daughters 3rd cruise and the 16 year olds 4th.
All in all this was a fantastic cruise! We had a wonderful time and I know that this experience with my daughters was priceless!! I am fortunate enough to have gone with my 2 older girls on the Freedom and will be sailing on the Liberty in April with my 2 younger children and my mother.
We arrived in FLL at around 7:00PM on Friday. I had made reservations at the Hyatt Place. I got this as a bid on Priceline after doing some research on CC and better bidding. I was very happy and would definitely recommend this hotel as well as stay there again pre-cruise.
The hotel had a shuttle from the airport as well as one to the pier for no fee. Continental breakfast was also included.
The hotel was very nice. All of the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful. The hotel was full and there were many, many cruisers there for the night. The room was great for the 3 of us with a suite set-up having a king size bed and pull out couch. It was also located very well. We settled in and then went for a walk around which ended in a liquor store to purchase a couple of bottles for the cruise. We ate a late dinner at Outback and walked back to the hotel to settle in.
The hotel offers a free shuttle to the pier which is nice. However, had 2 issues which I thought would be a problem for us. One, they said that the shuttle did not even begin running until 11AM and two, the hotel was full of people inquiring about the shuttle service and talking about what time they would be down for it. We decided that it would be best to get a cab to the port at around 10:15 before the hoards of people congregated in the lobby.
We went down at around 9:45 with our bags for a 2nd cup of coffee. I should mention that there is a continental breakfast included as well. None of us were hungry so I can’t comment on what was offered but we did enjoy the coffee which was Starbucks and they even offered a choice of strong or mild blend in the carafes. Anyway, I went outside to have a cigarette and the shuttle driver was there. He asked if we wanted to go to the port and said if we hopped on now he would take us before it got crazy. So of course we took him up on that! There was 1 other couple on the bus which were dropped off at a Celebrity ship before us.
When we made it over to where the Freedom was docked the luggage carts were just being moved over and set up for drop offs….it was very early! The shuttle driver was fantastic. He had to stop across the way since there were still several Carnival transport busses loading up with people who had just disembarked so he walked over and got us porter and made sure we were good to go.
Incredibly quick and not just painless but FUN!! We were there at just a few minutes after 10 so I was not sure we would be able to get inside but We were able to go right into the terminal. I think there were only about 10 people already there…No lines for us to check in at all and we were handed Zone 1 boarding card. We sat in the waiting area and chatted with fellow cruisers, which is always fun! Many people arrived as we waited. A few of the people we would continue to see throughout the trip and talk with. The Carnival staff was also very friendly and helpful.
Boarding started at 11:15 and off we went! Through the larger check in area and then quick embarkation photo, Sign & Sail photo and then up the very steep gangway. It really is steep! (There was someone in a wheelchair next to us and two people were working on pushing it up.) We were so excited! There is really nothing like those first glimpses of the ship! We were handed a Capers and a map as we entered on Deck 3.
We took a quick glance around. We all thought the ship was beautiful! Very antsy to get up to the Lido Deck so we decided we would head there and explore the ship more later.
Since we were among the first people to board the Lido Deck had plenty of lounge chairs…..we grabbed three near the pool and settled in to chat, laugh, and enjoy. By 11:35 I had my first Fun Ship Special and was in full cruise mode!
More to come!!! I came home to sick kids so stick with me...this might take a bit of time to complete!!
Feel free to ask any questions in the meantime.....
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