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The “better late than never, here it is for what it’s worth” Carnival Freedom review

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One of the Cool Runnings boats at the beach at DFR ... there were several.

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VIDEOS:

The beginning of the falls ... I don't think the boys knew what to think at this point! Click

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The bridge at DRF ... so you get an idea of height ... click

. P.S. my boys were getting annoyed with me and the camera at this point!

 

Falling backward into the water ... we did this on our honeymoon, too! I lost my footing and started to fall early! Click

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Last one ... :) Click

. Edited by jhnsnfamily
deleted picture that was upsidedown! GRRRRR

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.

Small world. I know a lot of people that work in Springfield and the Dayton locations. Cincinnati,Dayton,Springfield and Erlanger Ky are all in the same region of Pepsico. Please keep the review coming.

 

You might even know him! His name was Bill Johnson ... here's a link to a pic on my FB page of him and my mom on one of their cruises.

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Michelle, I'm thoroughly enjoying your review. We'll be on the same ship in December, but not the same itinerary.

As we sit here anticipating the "white death/doom" aka snow tomorrow, I can think happy and warm thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to post this review.

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You might even know him! His name was Bill Johnson ... here's a link to a pic on my FB page of him and my mom on one of their cruises.

 

I'm sorry Michelle that I didn't know your dad but they looked like a beautiful couple. All I know is if he retired off that truck he must have been one hell of a man.

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At the end of the falls did you go through the craft market that everyone talks about with all the pushy vendors? Were the people on the catamaran really pushy about trying to sell their merchandise? Did you feel safe leaving your stuff on the catamaran...and how much money do you think you should take along for tips....also the pictures that you have at the falls were they taken with your own camera?

 

Sorry for SO many questions...but our cruise is getting closer and closer and we are still so undecided about what to do when we get to Ocho Rios...did the rest of your crew that went on the plantation tour run into any problems? We have been reading reviews tonight about the tubing tour that is offered through Carnival - it is just so hard to decide.

 

Did you see anywhere to eat at the falls at all? Or to purchase drinks? I am just trying to see how much money we would need to take with us if we do decide on doing this trip.

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Michelle, I'm thoroughly enjoying your review. We'll be on the same ship in December, but not the same itinerary.

As we sit here anticipating the "white death/doom" aka snow tomorrow, I can think happy and warm thoughts. I appreciate you taking the time to post this review.

 

Hey Yuridog! I see you are from Cincy ... yep ... white death/doom for sure! My kids are just excited they might get one more snow day for the year! As for me, DH will have to drag the snow blower out one more time! :mad:

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At the end of the falls did you go through the craft market that everyone talks about with all the pushy vendors? No, we did that on our honeymoon and were not interested in doing that again! We got off the pier at the beach and headed straight up the falls. Once we climbed them, we walked back down to the beach and got back on the catamaran. Along the falls there is a path/stairs where those that can't or don't want to climb can follow along (which is good for older or disabled folks). Were the people on the catamaran really pushy about trying to sell their merchandise? They were pushy as in they asked several times, and we did end up buying one picture ... we did not buy any t-shirts or anything. After we agreed to buy one picture, they left us alone. It wasn't nearly as bad as our experience in the craft market on our honeymoon. Did you feel safe leaving your stuff on the catamaran Yes ... everyone left their stuff there and the boats are docked at the end of a small pier and local folks can't get to them....and how much money do you think you should take along for tips.... My notes say we gave our guide $15 ... really all depends on his/her level of service and the number of people in your group. We had 4 people and he stopped several times to take pictures and videos of us. also the pictures that you have at the falls were they taken with your own camera? Yes, I purchased a Lifeproof case (waterproof) for my iPhone and carried my phone up the falls. It was a great purchase! I even took it swimming with the stingray and snorkeling in Grand Cayman. I held onto it for dear life!

 

Sorry for SO many questions...but our cruise is getting closer and closer and we are still so undecided about what to do when we get to Ocho Rios...did the rest of your crew that went on the plantation tour run into any problems? No ... they said they didn't have any problems and had a great time and really enjoyed the plantation tour. They also went to DRF after the plantation tour. We have been reading reviews tonight about the tubing tour that is offered through Carnival - it is just so hard to decide. I'd say as long as you purchase an excursion through Carnival, you should be okay. Just review the ratings of the excursions and see what fits your needs and budget. DRF is a very popular excursion in Jamaica and one I'd say you should definitely do if you've never been there. It really is a beautiful place!

 

Did you see anywhere to eat at the falls at all? Or to purchase drinks? I am just trying to see how much money we would need to take with us if we do decide on doing this trip. We only took enough money to tip the DRF guide and a little extra for the picture, a drink on the catamaran, etc. ... just in case it got stolen. I kept my phone with me. The only other thing of value that we had in the bag was our SnS cards. If you are worried, you could always put them in a watertight baggie and put them in a secure place on your person, such as a pocket with a zipper. We did not see any place to eat on this excursion, but we didn't go anyplace else. We literally went from the ship to the catamaran to the falls, climbed the falls, then walked back down and back to the catamaran, and then back to the pier where the ship was docked. I would caution you to be very careful if you venture off the ship on foot if you are not part of a ship excursion. Regardless of what you choose, have fun!

 

See my comments in red above! :)

Edited by jhnsnfamily

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Thank you so much for answering my questions!!!!! I kind of told my husband the same thing...that if we never made it back to Jamaica again...what would be the one thing that we would hate that we missed. Thank you for telling me that anyone could go back down the stairs and avoid the market...I knew that Moby Dick Tours advertise that they will be sure you don't have to go through the market..but guess I didn't realize that anyone could just go back down the stairs. Your iphone takes great pictures! I have an iphone 4 and I have problems getting it to take really good pictures...of course alot of it has to do with the one taking the pictures I am sure (me) lol.

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One more question..I just thought of...when you got back to the catamaran...did you have to wait a long time for all the other people? Did they let you go ahead and get back on the catamaran before everyone else got there...or did everyone have to wait until a certain time to get back on?

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Okay, I'm back at it ... and determined to finish! I have my second cup of Donut Shop Extra Bold nearby and I've taken DS2 to Cold Stone Creamery for some ice cream. Here we go!

 

At the end, we tipped Archer an additional $15. Others in our group saw the exchange of money and vocalized their dissent that they hadn’t even thought about a tip. Now, that being said, I don’t know if they told Archer to go back to the catamaran with them so they could tip him, but he appeared there. He was not pushy at all. He just stood there, off to the side, and waited for folks to bring him a tip if they wanted to. He was very appreciative when he received a tip. Regarding the DVDs, there was a booth as you walk back down to the beach that’s off to the side on the right. We didn’t see anybody there viewing the DVD or making a purchase. There’s also a bathroom right there, and DH had nature calling. As he was coming out, a cleaning lady was going in and wanted him to give her a tip for using the bathroom. Really!?! He said he was broke, which he was ‘cuz he’d already given what he had on him to Archer, but really!?!

 

A few more pictures ... this is the walkway that we walked down after we climbed the falls. NO VENDORS HERE! :)

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The restrooms and video "shop" was to the right of this big tree:

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Back on the catamaran, we were underway shortly and boy! … the water was choppy! It was like an episode of Dangerous Catch, except with warmer water! They had the music pumpin' and the drinks flowin’, and I’m not sure how those that danced were actually able to stand up! I tried … I just couldn’t keep my balance without holding on to the railing! It was a short trip back, again 20 minutes or so, and I didn’t see anybody feeling (or looking) sea sick. Soon enough, we were back at the dock. We exited the catamaran and had to walk around and through a building for a check of IDs before being allowed to walk down the pier and get back on the ship (with another check of IDs!). Don’t forget your IDs!!!

 

Back on the ship, we cleaned up a bit and then headed back up to the buffet for lunch. As we were eating lunch, it started pouring down rain … I mean … cats and dogs rain … all we could think of was the rest of “the clan” and wondering if they were caught up in the rain. Sure enough, before we were finished with lunch, my mom and sister found us and were soaking wet and freezing! So, we abandoned our seats and went and found a larger table with them and we exchanged stories about our day. After our late lunch, we went back down to the cabin to get our clothes ready for the second elegant night and relaxed a bit before getting ready.

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Here's a close up picture of the end of the pier. That's where we got on the catamaran and that building with the light green roof is what we had to walk through to get IDs and bags checked before walking back down the pier to get back on the ship.

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A few pics of Jamaica as we were leaving ...

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Dinner was great, as usual!

 

My beautiful mother

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Corn chowder

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Cherry bing soup before and after (it's chilled and they pour it into your bowl at the table)

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Roast half spring Chicken

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Shrimp

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Martini braised basa fillet with tomato, basil, and fennel

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DESSERTS!

 

Baked Alaska (way overrated IMHO)

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Chocolate raspberry torte

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WCMC with extra chocolate ice cream ;-) you can also order it with other flavors, like Butter Pecan

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After dinner, we got our pictures made (lines we not long at all this time), and then we went to the theater a bit early to get seats for the final show, “Jump, Jive, & Wail”. The show was good, my second favorite of the cruise. At the end of the show, the dancers and singers left the theater singing and dancing and went into the lobby where they continued to dance and sing for everyone there. It was cool.

 

Here's a short video excerpt of the actual show ... click

 

And here's a short video of the singers/dancers after they exited the theater and went into the lobby ... click

 

After the show, we stopped by the Punchliner Comedy Club, but it was a packed house, so we decided to wait and hit the last two shows of the cruise, which were a bit later. Having some time to kill, we ventured down to the casino to throw some money away! Seriously, they should just have workers stationed at the doors to just scan your cards. I NEVER win! Argh! End rant.

 

About 20-25 minutes before the next comedy show, we headed back there and ran into my son (14) and my nephew (16). Apparently, they were saving us seats for the 9:45 show and we never showed up. However, they still stayed for the show! Now, this was an “Adults Only – Over 18” show. Neither one of them look anywhere near 18 and from what they say, nobody asked them any questions. Now, that being said, when we showed up and were walking around to find a place to sit/stand, the MC told the boys to leave. They were P.O.’d, but I wasn’t because it’s supposed to be a show for adults and if kids are taking up real estate, some adults would not be able to see a show that was meant for them. The boys left and we found a place to stand at the back by the bar for the 10:45 show with John Rathbone. He was funny … much funnier than Hal Spear at 11:45 p.m. … IMHO. Each show actually only lasts about 40 minutes, so there’s some time to kill between shows. During that time, my mom and her BFF called it a day. Then, a booth cleared out except for two people, and I politely asked if we could sit with them and they said sure! Thank goodness, cuz my dogs were barkin’. I learned they were on their honeymoon and also from Ohio! Small world! After the show, the rest of us called it a night!

 

Next up … our last day at sea …

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Day 6/Sea Day (June 15): Ahhhhhh … have I mentioned how much I LOVE SEADAYS! It was another beautiful day and the water was so calm. There were no waves. Period. Seriously, I’ve never seen the middle of the ocean look like glass while we were sailing.

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I've tried to rotate this picture ... NOT WORKING! Sorry folks ... I'm keeping it in here though since you can really see how flat the water was.

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Has anybody ever seen an ocean that flat before??? I was amazed.

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We went to breakfast in the buffet and then up to the Lido deck to grab some chairs in our favorite spot and soak up the sun. At 11 a.m., my DH, my mom, and I headed to the theater to try our hands at some 2-for-1 bingo with a chance to win $500. Nobody won (it wasn’t a normal bingo game, it was an X that you needed to get … I think), so the money went into the pot for the afternoon game at 3 p.m. They were also selling raffle tickets for a free cruise drawing (wouldn’t that be cool!) that was to occur at 3:45 p.m. during/after the afternoon bingo round.

Edited by jhnsnfamily

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After bingo, we ventured back to the buffet and found the Chocolate Extravaganza! OMG! That’s a lot of chocolate! Here’s the menu and a few pics of the selections …

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Here's what I ended up with ... there's no way I could have eaten it all ... I mostly sampled everything ... I found one thing I really liked and ate all of that, but I hate to admit I left most of it.

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Edited by jhnsnfamily

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Back up on the Lido deck, this guy was walking around ...

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And my DS enjoyed one!

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It was about $12, but contained about twice as much than a normal beverage in a cup. She needed my help drinking it … I know, I know … it’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it! It was YUMMY! :p

 

At 3 p.m., we headed back down for the last round of Bingo. After all, we had already contributed to the pot! No, you CANNOT reuse your bingo cards purchased earlier. I should note that on our last cruise (Princess) in 2007, we had to buy the cards and the ink stampers, which were a pain. The Carnival cards are “punch thru” cards, where you fold back the number when called. This time, we played until somebody won. They asked people to stand when they were one number away from winning. It got tense after about 5 people stood up. One young lady was a nervous wreck … she kept saying how she needed the money soooooooooooo bad for college. I felt bad for her when she didn’t win. Two other people ended up winning, so they got to split the jackpot of $3500. Not bad! The free cruise raffle was during this final game … it was also exciting. An older gentleman won, and his family was up on the balcony and celebrating with him. So cool! So JEALOUS!

Edited by jhnsnfamily

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At some point, we ventured back to the cabin and after Savoy cleaned up in the morning, he had left us information about our early return flight and all of our debarkation options. Here’s the letter and other information we received:

 

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We debated between general debarkation and self-assist debarkation. We had an early flight (11:30 a.m.) and we didn’t want to take a chance on general debarkation being delayed for any reason or running into trouble finding our massive amount of luggage, etc. We had four strong boys with us (not including my DH and my BIL), so we figured we could handle it on our own. Because we chose this option, we did NOT have to put our bags out by midnight nor did we have to attach any tags to our bags. I have never used self-assist debarkation, so I was nervous about how it would work out, but there’s a first time for everything!

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The last dinner … booooooooooooooooo!

 

New England Crab Cake appetizer

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Fresh fruit

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Frog legs (didja ever … for me, NOPE!)

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Baked Sweet Potato Soup

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Bacon Mac n’ Cheese (and chicken) sooooooooooooooooo good!

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Broiled fillet of Mahi Mahi

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Hey travelplus! I don't know what you are referencing when you talk about the "non-refunded burger" ... but for what it's worth, I like to stay out of ambulances! ;) And I'm pretty sure he wanted to forget all about them also while on vacation! He works for our City Fire/Rescue ... they average 12-15 runs per day, mostly medic runs. Unfortunately, he sees a lot of waste and disregard for the importance of 9-1-1. Sometimes he feels like a taxi service, and when people don't have insurance and regular health care, 9-1-1 is their "regular doctor" ... this applies to broken toes, belly aches, headaches, nausea, you name it. It kinda sucks because March 3 of this year was his 10-year anniversary with the City and he's pretty burnt out on the "frequent flyers." However, he does love it when he gets to come home and say, "I saved a life today" or "I saved someone's home today". :)

 

Enjoying your review. We will be on the Freedom April 20th - 4 weeks from today. Doing the 8 night Eastern, different ports than you, but still like seeing the ship and hearing about it.

 

I understand what you are saying about your husband's job. Mine retired 7 years ago, after 30 years with our local county Fire/Emergency Dept. His exact feelings sometimes. We cruise with 3 other retirees and their wives. One of the best things about their department was they were all able to retire at 50 (of course they all started working with the department when they were youngsters). So now we are able to travel while we are still able to get around - LOL!!

 

Sorry about the incident with your credit card. Never thought about that happening. I will be sure to take an additional card with us in April.

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Prime rib w/ baked potato

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Grilled chicken breast with fettuccine in a mushroom sauce

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During dinner, the wait staff did more singing and dancing and so did we! Here's a video that my DH captured (disregard the fact that he flipped the camera sideways about halfway through!) ... You can see Joseph and PuTu! Click

 

I can’t recall the other song, but it was along the lines of “thanks for being here, we’ll miss you, etc.” It was kinda sad!

 

Dessert … a very melted banana split from the kids’ menu … I convinced my nephew to order it! He loved it … it’s a banana split for goodness’ sake! What’s not to love!

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Soufflé (before and after)

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Cappuccino pie … yummo!

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We left each of our waitstaff an extra tip in an envelope. Like I said, they did such a great job for us and helped to make our cruise so very special. We wished TaTa a very happy trip home. It's good to know that even at the very end of her "tour" on board the Freedom, she was still smiling and providing excellent service!

Edited by jhnsnfamily

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Enjoying your review. We will be on the Freedom April 20th - 4 weeks from today. Doing the 8 night Eastern, different ports than you, but still like seeing the ship and hearing about it.

 

I understand what you are saying about your husband's job. Mine retired 7 years ago, after 30 years with our local county Fire/Emergency Dept. His exact feelings sometimes. We cruise with 3 other retirees and their wives. One of the best things about their department was they were all able to retire at 50 (of course they all started working with the department when they were youngsters). So now we are able to travel while we are still able to get around - LOL!!

 

Sorry about the incident with your credit card. Never thought about that happening. I will be sure to take an additional card with us in April.

 

Thanks for reading firespud! Have a great time on your cruise! You will love the ship! Thank you to your husband for his service. And to a fellow firefighter's wife ... WHEW! He made it to retirement! I worry about my DH ... lots of very old homes and buildings in the city ... we are trying to revitalize, but he is currently stationed "in the hood". Lots of shootings, vacant homes, arson, etc. Great on-the-job training for him ... but it STRESSES ME OUT! He was a design engineer for the early part of his career (and what he went to college for) and was laid off. Long story short, he completely changed careers just before he turned 33. Unless he promotes several times (you know, stand back and call the shots instead of being first in), I don't think he'll physically be able to do the job until retirement age! Several working fires in one day makes him totally useless for the next two days he's home. :(

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Thank you so much for answering my questions!!!!! I kind of told my husband the same thing...that if we never made it back to Jamaica again...what would be the one thing that we would hate that we missed. Thank you for telling me that anyone could go back down the stairs and avoid the market...I knew that Moby Dick Tours advertise that they will be sure you don't have to go through the market..but guess I didn't realize that anyone could just go back down the stairs. Your iphone takes great pictures! I have an iphone 4 and I have problems getting it to take really good pictures...of course alot of it has to do with the one taking the pictures I am sure (me) lol.

 

You are welcome! My iPhone is a 4s ... some of the pictures turned out great and some just okay. Hit or miss!

 

One more question..I just thought of...when you got back to the catamaran...did you have to wait a long time for all the other people? Did they let you go ahead and get back on the catamaran before everyone else got there...or did everyone have to wait until a certain time to get back on?

 

No, we didn't wait long. In fact, one of the reasons we didn't wait to get that photo at the end of the falls was because they were telling us to head back to the catamaran. We were able to get back on right away. I don't recall exactly how long it took for us to actually leave once we got back on, but I don't remember it being a long time. I can tell you the only thing we did was exit the falls, start walking back down the path, stop for a moment for DH to use the bathroom, and then keep walking to the catamaran. Like I said before, the less interaction with the pushy vendors, the better!

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After dinner, we ventured into the gift shops one last time, and I finally purchased my watch! We had to wait and see how much money we had left to work with and still get home! The salesman still had it “on hold” for me and I think he was surprised when we showed up to buy it. We also checked out the pictures one last time to try to decide on some before heading to the last show, Ticket to Ride. This was the Beatles tribute show that everyone raves about. And now I know why! The wigs that the guys have to wear are a bit … oh what’s the word … like roadkill … flattened roadkill, but whatever. Once you get past that, it was a great show with lots and lots of costume changes and props. This show was the best show IMHO. We sat right up front and to the right of the stage, and the whole entire “clan” was there (even the 19 year old … gasp! :eek: … we usually only saw him at dinner and excursions and an occasional passing on the ship where he avoided us like we had Norovirus or the plague … whichever). My sister even said after the show ended, “That was AWESOME! I wanna stay for the second show!” It really was a great show! You shouldn’t miss it!

 

After the show, we grabbed some coffee and walked around the ship one last time and took some pictures up on the Lido deck.

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Back at the cabins to pack … we found our “vagina” towel! HA! Seriously … what is this supposed to be???

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Next up … Debarkation/homeward bound

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Day 7/Time to go home! Boooo! (June 16): Since we chose the self-debarkation, we set our alarms for before the butt-crack of dawn … 5:30 a.m., which would give us 45 minutes to get ready and 45 minutes to eat, and then be back in our cabins and waiting for the announcement for our deck to leave at around 7 a.m. This 5:30 wake up call actually turned out pretty cool … we looked outside and realized that we were just at that moment sailing into the harbor. We woke the boys up and they came over, and we enjoyed our last “wakeup” on the balcony together as a family onboard the Freedom. It was still dark outside, but we managed to get a few pictures of Ft. Lauderdale and Port Everglades.

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We also saw Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas already docked. DSC00590_zpsa9a29029.jpg

 

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After we docked, we hurried up and got ready and headed to the Freedom restaurant for breakfast. It’s good to get there right when they open … we found tables with no problem and there was no line for the omelet station. Score! We ate, we reminisced about our week aboard the Freedom, and we dreamed of going on the Allure of the Seas or the Oasis of the Seas someday. After breakfast, we headed back to our cabins and waited. (I took this pic of the Oasis all lit up with the sunrise … it’d be a cool pic if that big crane wasn’t in the way!).

 

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It was about 7:15 – 7:20 when we heard it was our turn to leave. We made our way to the elevators and found one to take us down to Level 2 … so we had to carry our bags down two flights of stairs … no biggie, but it was clogged with others and all their luggage. It went pretty fast though. We got outside and followed the trail of people into and then back out of the building. (We had to show identification at some point while in the building.) Once outside, we encountered a very helpful little gal that rounded us up two vans to take us to the airport for $25 for each van … not bad … about $5 per person and let me remind you, we had a TON of luggage. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to weigh our bags, rearrange if needed (distribute the weight), and get our boarding passes printed. We ended up having over three and a half hours to kill before our flight left at 11:30 a.m. But, I’d rather be too early than too late! I’d choose self-debarkation again. If we hadn’t, we may not have gotten off the ship until 8 or 9 a.m., and then you have to find your luggage in a sea of luggage and compete with 100s of other people for taxis = no thanks!

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Final thoughts …

 

Casino … will take your money!!! No, seriously, the slots are TIGHT! I lost $30 on a penny machine … yes, a PENNY MACHINE in all of 15 minutes! GRRRRR. However, if you can play blackjack, you might get lucky. My DH and BIL played a few times … they won some and lost some. Overall, DH broke even, but BIL came out a little bit ahead (less than $100, but still … it spends!).

 

Formal pictures—There are soooooooo many backgrounds to choose from! Walk around first and decide on which ones you like (there are sample pictures displayed at each station), then get your pictures made. They were all along the Promenade deck and in the Lobby area. Once you have your pictures made, the photographer will give you an “easy photo finder” card to help you find your pictures.

 

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Trust me, you’ll need this. The photo gallery fills with elegant night photos and it’s a bit overwhelming! TIP: Get ready for elegant night early and get your picture made … do this for several reasons. One, after dinner, your belly is all popped out and it is painful to suck it in and still take good pictures. So not kidding on this one. OR, you are suffocating and have already taken off your Spanx and/or changed your clothes. Second, if you wait until after dinner (if early seating), you will be standing in line with all the people waiting for the second seating. The good news is, they are open late, but if you’re like me, you want to change out of your formal clothes as soon as possible!

 

Laundry room—all the basics are there. There is one ironing board and one iron, and (I think) four washers and eight dryers. I knew the line would form early on elegant night for the ironing board, so I got there at 3 p.m. While I was ironing, the line formed quickly and soon there were four people waiting behind me. There are machines to purchase laundry soap and fabric softener for $1.50 each. Not a bad deal … before we left I purchased travel-sized laundry soap for $1 at K-Mart and threw a handful of dryer sheets in a zip lock bag. I also saved quarters for months … I brought enough to do three loads of laundry ($3 to wash and $3 to dry = $6 per load). However, here’s a TIP: The washing machines don’t hold a lot of clothes, but the dryers are on timers for 75 minutes (I think) … all I know is I could have dried two loads of laundry in one dryer (put first load in a dry it, then put second load in same dryer using the remaining time). I had 20 minutes of time left on each dryer and my clothes were so hot, the buttons on the shorts would have burned my fingers.

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Food venues on the ship … an Overview:



 

Fish-N-Chips—Yummmmmmmmmmmmy. 4.5 of 5 stars. I would have given it 5 stars but the breading was sometimes a tad too thick … but overall, the fish and chips (French fries) were very, very good. They have tartar sauce and remoulade sauce, which were also very good. The tables in the Freedom restaurant in the back (Fish-N-Chips is on the second floor opposite the Statue of Liberty) are adorned with the usual along with malt vinegar.

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MDR (Main Dining Room)—4.5 of 5 stars. Maybe it was the wait staff, maybe it was our awesome table, maybe it was the people at our awesome table of 10 …:D but we never had a bad experience in the MDR. If you stop and think about how many people are served each evening at the same time, it’s amazing anything put before you is actually hot. Ta Ta had two tables of 10, a 4-top, and two 2-tops. That’s a lot for any server, and she and her team handled it with ease. (I used to be a server and can totally relate and appreciate their talents!) Of course, the MDR was much busier on the elegant nights (which is the nights the servers dance and sing – which we loved!). I was surprised to see a lot of empty tables other nights of the week. We let them know on Tuesday that we wouldn’t be there on Wednesday night since we were eating at the Steakhouse. I just didn’t want them to wait for us and wonder when we’d show up. (It seemed like a few tables showed up whenever they pleased and weren’t mindful of the 6 p.m. dinner time. I thought that was inconsiderate. The servers have to serve us in a certain amount of time and then get all their tables ready for the second seating. If folks don’t show up until 6:30 p.m., that throws off their mojo and cuts into their cleaning up/prep time … and that’s just rude. Okay, end rant.)

 

Buffets—of all the places to eat on the ship, I’d say the buffets need the most help. I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. The fresh fruit was always good for both breakfast and lunch, and they always had a nice selection of salad fixings and desserts for lunch, but the entrée items need some improvement. That being said, if you couldn’t find *something* to eat, you’re just too picky. We never ate there for dinner, so I cannot report on their dinner selections. I did finally get an opportunity to try the Omelet station twice. It was 5 out of 5 stars. You can choose from the following: cheese, ham, mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, and onions. I also tried the Mongolian Wok once … it’s similar to Mongolian Grill here in Ohio. You choose noodles and veggies and put them in bowl, then you tell the cook if you want chicken, beef, or muscles/clams. They also have three sauces to choose from. The Szechuan sauce was spicy!

 

Sushi –I don’t do Sushi … but, my husband and BIL like it; however, the hours that it’s open just aren’t convenient. It’s only open 5 – 8:15 p.m., which is just before and during early seating’s dinner time. We just never made it there.

 

Tandoor Station—I never tried this. Walked by it a few times, and it smelled of curry, so if that’s your thing, you’ll probably like it.

 

Pizza—I’d give this pizza a 1.5 out of 5 stars. It’s like stopping at Taco Bell at 2 a.m. cuz you’re starving. You know it’s not real meat, but you eat it ‘cuz it’s open and it’s there … but it wasn’t good. I took two bites of the Margherita pizza and threw it in the trash. Think Little Caesar’s Pizza … but worse. :P

 

Hamburger/Hot Dogs Grill … 4.5 out of 5 stars. Huge hot dogs, juicy hamburgers, great French fries, great chicken fingers -- this was popular with the kids/tweens/young adults. I didn’t try the hamburgers or hotdogs, but the French fries and chicken fingers were good. My sons liked the burgers!

 

Steakhouse (additional charge) … of course 5 stars. We bit the bullet and made reservations for Wednesday night (based on the MDR menus, the Wed. night menu seemed the least appetizing). I actually made the reservations for my family of four via the Carnival website before we sailed and received an email confirmation back. After the sampling, my BIL and my sister decided to add themselves and my mom and her friend to our reservation. We decided to each pay for one of the other two (my mom and her friend) as a gift to them.

 

Snacks on Promenade late at night … fresh fruit, cookies, breads, etc. A small spread but adequate if you need something in your stomach. My sister’s sugar drops a lot, so she liked to snack on the cookies! She actually said the cookies were her favorite dessert on the ship.

 

Deli … 4.5 out of 5 stars. You’ll walk right by it if you don’t pay attention. It is two, silver “windows” (think roll up garage doors that begin about waist high) between the two Freedom restaurant buffet areas. DH loved the reubens and I loved the hot turkey sandwich on a country roll. A sandwich along with some fresh fruit was a perfect lunch. Or, you could go to the Grill or up to Fish-n-Chips for some fries to round it out.

 

Room service … 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would have given it 5 stars, but it was really, really late the morning we needed it to be on time! We only ordered breakfast from room service, so I can’t comment on the other items. TIP: If you order coffee with cream, they bring you cream in a little cup … my sister didn’t know this and she ordered six creams for her coffee, which worked out in my favor cuz I only got one and needed two! The breakfast choices are on a door hanger that you fill out and leave outside on your door knob. I ordered coffee for me and chocolate milks for the boys each morning, and the morning we went to Grand Cayman, I also ordered food for all four of us. This included several cereals and milks, bagels/cream cheese/salmon for my son, several pastries, and fresh fruit and a bagel and coffee for me. It sucked that we only had about 10 minutes to sort it all out and consume it, but it was adequate and put a little something in our bellies. Oh yeah … Yes! You can order room service the morning that you disembark! We didn’t know this until we saw a worker delivering a tray to a cabin as we headed to the buffet very, very early (at 6:15 a.m.).

 

24-hour soft serve (self-serve) ice cream … chocolate, vanilla, strawberry … they have bowls or cones … 24-hour ice cream service is dangerous. Just sayin’. Parents Beware! Nobody mans this station, and I saw a lot of little ones helping themselves. Who knows how much ice cream they consumed! Oh, and a lot of people have *NOT* worked at Dairy Queen or McDonalds … toward the end of the week, I actually tried to spot the cones that looked the worst = cheap entertainment and almost as fun as people watching. :p

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Thanks for the post. Our first cruise was on the Freedom in 2010 (not same ports tho) - Hotel sounds little like the one we were at pre cruise and had the same transportation issues to the ship. Group we were with had 40 if I recall correctly. Haven't read to the end, but disembarking & transportation to airport was horrible also. Supposed to be "ready & waiting" with one bus big enough for all ..... but.... everyone made it to airport in plenty of time, specially when some of our flights were delayed. Gave us time to catch up with those we didn't see much of during the cruise. Bummer about the cc issue. It's happening more frequently that's for sure. Passwords are a must.

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Coffee/Iced Tea/Bottomless Bubbles (Coke sticker)/Ship Water: Yes, this warrants a separate post. Coffee / iced tea / pop lovers will understand. Okay … I gotta say it … their iced tea suuuuuuuuuuuucks! A few people at our table liked it, but it’s made from a premix of syrup (gallon jugs poured into a machine—I witnessed a few refills in the Freedom restaurant). I drank it, but towards the end of the week I switched over to plain old water.

 

Now on to coffee … I LOVE coffee (I should have made that one of my confessions … lol). For you coffee lovers, pay attention. The coffee is better than the iced tea, hands down. It’s not comparable to my beloved Keurig/Donut Shop Extra Bold at home, but it’s drinkable (3.5 out of 5 stars) and it’s available 24/7 in the Freedom restaurant (back of the ship). We ladies found ourselves getting regular and decaf coffee and hot tea a few times late in the evening. One night my sister and I *tried* the coffee at the bar along the Promenade by the Casino … OMG … hands down the nastiest coffee I have ever had. I don’t know what “process” they use for this coffee, but it was gross. It looked like foamy oil. Black, foamy oil. We both took one sip and looked at each other in disgust. We asked the bartender for her sail-n-sign card back (she was buying … :)) and told him we couldn’t drink it. He was P.O.’d … he kinda threw my sister’s card back at her. He was the only employee that we encountered during the entire cruise that wasn’t polite, friendly, cheerful, and helpful. We left our untouched coffees and beat it. I will mention here that on the last day of the cruise, I wanted to try the coffee at the Viennese Café so I could report back to all of you … but I noticed the same type of machine and coffee cups, so I asked the gal working if it was the same coffee as at the bar … she said it was. So, I skipped it. I will say that I saw *some* people with the coffee cups, so they must have liked it, or they may have ordered cappuccinos or lattes (maybe with enough crap in it, I could have choked it down …). I will also say that I never saw a line of people there, and most of the time the gal working there looked bored to tears. That might be an indicator of some sort … Definitely wasn’t Starbucks, Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s or even Speedway coffee!

 

I also went to the Freedom restaurant for cups of ice water for our cabins each night. I just put a few of the plastic cups on a plate and carried them up to our cabins. I put one or two in the boys’ cabin and I also kept one beside my bed. We also drank the large bottle of water in the cabin. I was too lazy one night to go to the restaurant and get the water. Oh well … it was only $3.95 … and it’s a big bottle. Eh.

 

Regarding the Bottomless Bubbles, it took four trips to four different locations on the ship to actually find someone who had the stickers where we could purchase them. We ended up purchasing them at the Casino bar while we were docked at Key West. They charge differently for adults ($6/day) and kids ($4.50/day) = $64.32 (includes 15% gratuity and tax – however, I noticed in the daily FunTimes that gratuity was to be excluded!). The good news is, she only charged us for five days’ worth, because we were already on Day 2 of the cruise. DH doesn’t think it was worth it … at least, he doesn’t think he drank his money’s worth.

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In case you are curious, here's a link to a picture of our beloved Izzy ... of course, the boys dressed her up for a Buckeye game!

 

As you can see from my signature below, we just booked the Allure of the Seas for June 2014! Same group as before! We can't wait!!! I've already started planning and have started my "cruise binder." :D Should I write another review???

 

I hope you all enjoyed this review of the Carnival Freedom ... I'm just so glad I finally got it posted. Sooooooooo ... if you have any questions, fire away!

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The review is just wonderful Michelle...so want this itinerary...and to try Freedom sometime...lots of great reviews lately and yours is extra special...Godspeed to your step dad and your family is beautiful...and your mom...wow...Sarah

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Thanks for the time you took to write this review! You provided some great info and insight on the Freedom that I haven't seen anywhere else. I've absorbed it all like a sponge, and feel so much more prepared for our June sailing! Definitely write a review after your January cruise--you've got knack for it my dear!

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Thank you so much for posting your review. We are going on the Freedom 7/7 with our family of 6. We love to cruise and do most of our own shore excursions. Loved you pic's of rum point. We are renting a car and heading to that side of the island. (been there 2 times before) also been to Jamaica but not to Ocho Rios. Your pictures of Dunn Falls look fun ..but looks like lots of people. We'll see. A Question if you don't mind..at the fish and chips station upstairs do they only have fish and chips or are there other options? Again thank you so much for taking the time to post a such in depth review. It is getting is excited for July ... Rlyans

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