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Tony & Bethany's 26th Anniversary Freedom Cruise Review 8/24-9/1 with pics

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This review is not a “right off the ship” review because it has taken a little bit of time to get it somewhat organized since we returned home. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read, comment and subscribe.

 

First, let me give you a little bit of background. This cruise was me and my wonderful husband, Tony (Live2Ride84), both of us 45. We were celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary during this cruise on our St. Maarten day. What a way to spend an anniversary, right?

 

This is our 5th cruise, all on Carnival. Although we had considered a cruise for our very first wedding anniversary, we never did any real research so we thought it would be far too expensive for us to even consider (remember this was several years before the web, Google, and even Cruise Critic came along). Sadly, we didn't begin cruising until 20 years later. Needless to say, once we did, we were hooked! If time and $$ would allow it, we would cruise several times per year.

 

As for the pics that you'll see throughout this review, we have several cameras to thank. Most of the pics are taken by Tony using a Nikon D3100 or a GoPro Hero 3+ Silver Edition. He is the photographer in the family and, well, he just has an eye for it. He sees beauty and has a way of helping others see it when they may have missed it otherwise. And then some of the are taken by me with my Nikon Coolpix. We both took some with our iPhones; 5S (Tony) and 5C (me). I hope to get some videos on here, too, courtesy of Tony and the GoPro.

 

Well, enough about us! Let's get this party started and since so many questions are asked about port cities, hotels, restaurants, etc. this is where we will begin our story.

 

We booked this cruise sailing out of FLL for three reasons: new port, new ship and new ports of call! We cruised on her sister ship, the Conquest, last year out of NOLA and really enjoyed it, so we thought we would give the Freedom and try. We were not disappointed!

 

We drove from Mississippi to FLL but we broke the trip up over a few days to have time to visit with family and friends. It was a fun trip down. We arrived in FLL on Saturday, August 23rd, the day before we were to depart.

 

I had done quite a bit of research with the help of CC and Trip Advisor and had booked a room online at the Hyatt Place 17th Street/Convention Center. It's not actually located ON 17th street but this is how it's known. I had booked a stay/park package so that we could leave our vehicle here during our cruise. The rate was initially $149 for the room and the parking. Parking at the port alone would have been $120 so I thought this was a pretty sweet deal. I checked back a week or so before we were set to leave and I found the same thing for $129! I promptly booked this new deal and cancelled the former one!

 

We arrived at the Hyatt Place that afternoon and they were fairly busy. I waited only a minute or two and Stuart came to assist me. He asked me if I would be interested in a handicap room for a discounted rate. He explained that they were overbooked and this would help us both and that the room would be like the one that I had booked, only with handicap accessibility. When he told me that he would reduce my rate (that I already thought was pretty amazing) by $40, I jumped at it! This meant that I would be paying $89 plus tax for the room for the night and for parking for the eight days of our cruise!

 

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I told Stuart that we would be taking a cab the next morning to the port and he told me to let them know about five or ten minutes before we were ready and that they would call the cab for us. I also told him that we were thinking about eating at Kelly's Landing. He said that it was good but if we wanted to eat where the locals go then we should try Southport Raw Bar which is just a few doors down from Kelly's. We decided that we would do this but first it was off to check out our steal of a room.

 

We were in room 104 on the ground floor. This location was super convenient to the lobby, as well as the door at the end of the hallway leading to the parking lot.

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Seating area

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Sink with coffee pot and mini fridge

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Work station and TV

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Inside of the open closet (remember this is a handicap accessible room so it's nice and open)

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Once we had brought in our bags that we would need for the night, we decided to go find Southport and get a bite to eat.

 

We found Southport but the problem for us was parking. There is very little parking in the front. There are signs that say that there is parking in the back, however, we never found it. After we circled through once, we saw some people leaving and were able to get a parking spot in front close to the road.

 

We walked through the front doors and were told to seat ourselves unless we wanted to eat outside on the back deck. If so, you would go to the deck and let the hostess know. We decided to find a place inside.

 

Now, Southport Raw Bar is a loud and lively place. If you don't care for loud, then you may not like it here but it didn't bother us at all.

 

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We looked over the menu and I saw Bimini bread. I had already heard about how delicious this was so we ordered a loaf for an appetizer. Oh! My! Word! Was this stuff good or what? I think I could have eaten the whole loaf myself but I'm glad that I didn't. If I had done that, I probably would not have had room for the wonderful oyster platter that Tony and I had ordered to share. Since we were leaving the next morning, we didn't want a lot of leftovers so we decided to share this platter. It was the perfect amount for the two of us.

 

Bimini Bread

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Oyster Platter with fries & cole slaw

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After supper, we drove around a little just looking at FLL since this was our first time there. We then returned to our room for the night. After watching The Weather Channel a little bit to get an update on TS Cristobal that was roaming around in the Caribbean, we called it a night. Only one more sleep until we board the Carnival Freedom!

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We awoke bright and early the next morning, eager to make our way to the port. While I was getting ready, Tony went down to scope out the complimentary breakfast buffet and bring me back some fruit or a muffin. He came back telling me what a nice buffet it was. One of the best he's ever seen. He had scrambled eggs, sausage and a pancake. He brought me a banana and a couple of mini muffins along with some orange juice.

 

Fresh fruit and yogurt

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Juices & Milk

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Eggs, Sausage & Pancakes

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When we were ready to check out, Tony went to put some of our bags back into the car and get the rest of what we were taking on the cruise. I went to the front desk to check out. I told the young lady that we would need a cab so she called. I checked out and almost as soon as I had walked out the front doors, the cab arrived. Tony was still walking toward me with our luggage. I'm tellin' ya, the taxi was super fast!

 

He helped us load our luggage and we were off to the port.

 

Our first whale tail sighting

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Another shot from the taxi. There she is just waiting for us to board!

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This is where things started to get a little hairy. It was about 10:00 and there was a line waiting to drop off the luggage with a porter. Once we were able to drop off the luggage, we made sure that he put the orange FTTF stickers on our bags.

 

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We walked inside, got our Sail & Sign cards, went through security and found a spot to sit and wait with the other FTTF folks.

 

Our only other time with FTTF had been last year in NOLA and it was so quick and efficient. Unfortunately, this was not the case in FLL. After having now been through both the embarkation and debarkation process, I believe that it's more the port itself rather than Carnival.

 

In NOLA, we arrived about the same time and was on board, had been to our room where our luggage was awaiting us, and getting a burger by about 11:30. At 11:30 in FLL, we were still waiting in the terminal but by a little after 12:00, we were boarding.

 

We went directly to our room, #6390, and although our luggage wasn't there as it had been on the previous cruise, the room was ready.

 

Our "home" for the next eight (8) days

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Leaving on this cruise next Sunday, in a room right down from yours, I'm loving your posts!! Thanks for taking the time to do so!

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Leaving on this cruise next Sunday, in a room right down from yours, I'm loving your posts!! Thanks for taking the time to do so!

 

You're very welcome. Hopefully I can get quite a bit, if not all of it completed before you leave.

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Ample Closet Space

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Sink in the bathroom

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One of the best tips I had before this cruise was to buy an over-the-door shoe organizer. It sure did come in handy for saving space in the bathroom!

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We've had a balcony room for our past three cruises. Here I am on our balcony with some of FLL in the background.

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We dropped off our things, made a few pics from the balcony and proceeded up to the Lido deck for our first (of many) Guy's Burger!

 

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Tony's burger was a Pig Patty

 

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I got a Plain Jane w/o cheese. A Plain Jane is pretty self-explanatory but for those wondering it comes with nothing but the bun and the meat. I put all of my topping on at the toppings bar. As you can see, I got a little too much mustard...had to take a little bit of it off.

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While we were waiting in the terminal, I had noticed on our S&S cards that our dinner reservations were for the Posh MDR but we preferred the Chic since it was more mid-ship. After our yummy Guy's burger, I went to guest services and got into the Platinum/Diamond/FTTF line...so much shorter! Just another thing to love about FTTF! She told me that this could be handled one deck up in the Chic MDR. The maitre d checked and was unable to accommodate us that night, however, the following day, our new reservation arrived in our stateroom.

 

 

We walked around for a while taking pics and exploring the beautiful Carnival Freedom. Since it's the same class as the Conquest, the layout is almost identical so it was fairly easy for us to find where everything was. One thing that differs between the two is that the Conquest doesn't have the Serenity Adult area. The Serenity Deck is wonderful and is actually spread out between two (2) decks: 12 & 14 fwd on the Freedom.

 

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One of the two hot tubs on the Serenity deck. I still can't, for the life of me, figure out getting into one of these things when it's so incredibly hot outside but there was almost always someone in them.

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One of the hammocks on the Serenity Deck

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These were so popular. Unfortunately, we were never able to get one during the cruise.

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Please post more! I am loving your review. We are going to be on the Freedom Jan 25, 2015. What other ports did you go to?

 

The Canuks

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Great review so far! We were on the Freedom for our honeymoon cruise in 2012 and can't wait to be back on her for her repo cruise to Texas in February! 12 days of cruising bliss!

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Please post more! I am loving your review. We are going to be on the Freedom Jan 25, 2015. What other ports did you go to?

 

Thanks! More is coming soon!

 

We went to St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk. Have fun on your upcoming cruise!

 

 

 

 

Great review so far! We were on the Freedom for our honeymoon cruise in 2012 and can't wait to be back on her for her repo cruise to Texas in February! 12 days of cruising bliss!

 

Thank you so much! I would love to be on that repositioning cruise with you! Enjoy!!

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I always stay at the Hyatt Place. Really like it there.

 

I'll be on Freedom 11/29 and can't wait to have another Pig Patty!

 

But I'm going to have to wait to read more on a different computer. Everything's so large (is it just me?) that if I shrink it down so I don't have to scroll back and forth (making myself seasick), it's so small I can't read anything. :o

 

I'm on a different itinerary (Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Curacao), and it's a Premier Casino cruise. And I have a Splendor sailing before that.

 

But I'm going to read it all anyway because I love reviews of ships I'll be sailing soon! :D

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I'm on a different itinerary (Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, Aruba, and Curacao)

 

DR, Aruba and Curacao are all on my Bucket List. They all look beautiful!

 

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More pics of the Serenity Deck

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We walked around a bit taking pics.

 

Elevators in the atrium

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DJ Jessen playing in the atrium

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Inside the Chic Restaurant looking down onto the lower level.

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Circle C is located just outside the main doors of the Chic Restaurant on Deck 4

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Inside Circle C

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Monticello Library

This is where we met for our Behind the Fun tour. More on that later.

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The Lido deck with lots of loungers

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David Lazarus, an Aussie, is an acoustic artist who played on the lido deck. He did a great job!

 

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Another favorite of many is Mongolian Wok

 

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I am enjoying your review of the Freedom. I cant wait till I get to cruise on her again in November. Thanks for posting.:)

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YAY.. more Freedom reviews!! We sail her in two week so super excited to see another detailed review!!

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This time tomorrow we'll be on board the Freedom! Same itinerary as yours but in reverse, Grand Turk first, San Juan, St Kitts & St Maarten. Thanks for taking time to do a review.

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Happy Anniversary ! We celebrated our 46th anniversary in May. Our first cruise was only 6 years ago and this makes cruise #6.

 

I can't thank you enough for the details about the Hyatt. My husband and I will staying there prior to and after our 12-13-14 cruise on the Freedom. We have an accessible room booked due to my husband's mobility challenges and the need that both of us have for grab bars. It's good to see what we will have in advance and loved the preview of the breakfast as well. Hmm, we have the $129.00 rate; I may try to get our rate down once we arrive. Even at $129.00 though, I'm happy. We are spending two days pre and two days post cruise there.

 

Although our son lives in Hollywood, FL which is right outside of FLL, we need the safety features of handicapped facilities. He told us that the Hyatt would be a good and convenient place for us and it is not far from his house, either.

 

Your photos are wonderful. I can't wait to read and see more of your review. We have the same itinerary that you had.

Edited by Delta Dear

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