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Western Caribbean on the Carnival Freedom
May 20-27th, 2017

 

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Saturday, May 20th


Travel and Embarkation Day!

Flew direct from Albuquerque to Houston on Southwest! We arrived at 10am, grabbed our luggage, and signed in at the Carnival shuttle bus desk. They were ready to board the bus within 15 minutes, and we were off to Galveston. Yeah!

After 45 minute drive, we arrived at port. Yikes, thousands of people and luggage everywhere. We went into the building and joined the check-in line that wound around and around and around...finally reaching the first check-in station. It took over half an hour to this point, then we joined the lines for security, and another 30 minute wait until we reached the next desk. There we received our Sail-and-Sign cards and told to proceed to the ship...what? No sitting in the lobby? Oh yeah, it was now after noon and already hundreds of people were already onboard the ship.

We were on the ship in another 15 minutes, then carried our carry-on bags up the stairs to the Lido deck for lunch. The Old Fashioned BBQ was our first stop, as the Lido buffets, Guys Burgers, and Blue Iguana were all packed. The BBQ place is upstairs from the Lido, just look for the big blue statue of Liberty and walk up those stairs. Replacing the old Fish N Chips, this place was almost empty! We walked up and ordered, and the lady behind the counter filled up our plates. It was good, actually loved the chicken, beans, and cole slaw, the beef and pulled pork were good, potato salad good, too. They don't have a big selection of sauces, but that was something they hopefully fix.

After our bellies were full, we grabbed dessert of course!! The dessert station was at the bottom of the stairs so a quick trip down and up was all it took. We then went to check to see if rooms were ready on Deck 6. The doors were still locked, and it was 1:30pm. We opened a door and saw a steward in the halls... just 20 more minutes please, he said. Okay, off we went to walk on Deck 5 since it was just down a flight of stairs, dragging our carry-on bags still. After 20 minutes we went back up and the doors were open, YEAH! We dropped off our bags, and headed out to explore the ship some more. We had been on the Freedom 2 years ago, but it was nice to reaquaint ourselves to everything. We took some photos, grabbed soda (for me) and beer (for Ron) at the Red Frog Pub. The Muster drill was announced at 3:45pm, and we headed to our station......ugggghhh, yes another long dreadful Muster waiting for those losers who try to skip it. Now they scan your card, so they know who is there! But the problem is, once everyone is ready to pass out from the heat, and standing outside for 20 minutes, they start announcing names of those who didn't show up and wait...and wait...announce the names again.... and wait and wait. Geez. Finally they start and it takes a whole 10 minutes start to finish, but we had been standing there waiting for 30 minutes. I really wish they could find another way to do this.

After the Muster torture session, the Sailaway Party began on the Lido deck. We grabbed a couple more drinks, yes a soda and a beer, and off we went. The Cruise Director on the Freedom is a hoot! His name is Malcolm "WooHoo" Burns..and just a fun guy every minute of the day. The party was going when we arrived, and all the Playlist dancers were right up front with the Fun Squad dancing.

After awhile we headed back to our room and our luggage had arrived. We pulled the bags inside and started to unpack. We had "Your Time Dining" and knew that the first night is always crazy and disorganized, so we hurried to dress for dinner. Our dining room assignment was Chic on Deck 3, which is right behind the Lobby Bar. A line was already forming when we arrived and they opened the door at 5:45pm sharp.

Photo from Elegant Night, hence the tablecloths

The Chic restaurant is gorgeous, in my opinion. We were seated very quickly, and given menus. Our table was for two, but as is on most ships now, the table was almost touching the table next to it. Our "table mates" were a couple of men, father and son, from Kansas City. It was their first cruise and they were both full of questions about everything. We really enjoyed chatting with them...and turns out, we would be seeing much more of them as the cruise went along.

For dinner I ordered the Mahi Mahi and a salad for appetizer. DH ordered calimari and the same entree. For dessert I got the strawberry mousse, he got the apple pie ala mode. The fish had a salsa of pineapple and red peppers which was very sweet, maybe too sweet. The rest was great. DH said the pie was just okay.

After dinner, we headed to the Welcome Aboard Show. The show was really good, and afterwards the Playlist singers and Malcolm all headed to the Lobby for photos and to start the Pub Crawl. If you have never done the Pub Crawl, I highly recommend it. First we had an introduction to the band playing there in the Lobby. From there we went to the International Lounge which is in the Casino. A Latino band was playing there and one of the Playlist ladies gave everyone salsa lessons while they played. It was fun! After that, we went into the Red Frog Pub where a young lady was playing acoustic guitar. Malcolm got on stage with her and sang a duet, or should I say she sang and he hammed it up with background vocals. It was funny! We had at least 70-80 people joining in on the Crawl by this time. After the song, we moved everyone over to the Piano Bar. Malcolm put a fishbowl for tips on the piano, and said anyone who got a dollar bill rolled up to land inside the bowl got 2 free drinks. (He gave away drinks at every stop.) Well, our tablemates from dinner were there and sure enough, landed the first one in....Malcolm handed over 2 huge frozen drinks. Then people kept going until two more did it... all the while everyone was singing to the songs by Bob the PianoMan. So, from there the group was heading to their next stop, which I think was the Havana bar, but we were pooped, it was around 11pm. Off we went to bed.

Just a quick mention here to our room steward, Carter, from Jamaica. What a fantastic guy. He was always available and did something special for us on Elegant night. It was just wonderful to chat with him every day.



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Sunday, May 21st


Sea Day!

As is normal for us, we were up before 6am. Ron dressed and headed for the gym, I decided instead to go up top and walk on the track. After an hour of walking on the track, I returned to the room to change for breakfast. Ron appeared soon after, showered, and off we went to find breakfast. Our last cruise, on the Magic in March, we had tried the Sea Day Brunch but didn't find it to be to our liking. It was a lot of waiting for food for the entire table (they seat you at large tables with others) and some of the food was cold when it finally appeared. Just not for us. The Lido buffet works fine for us, as we are big breakfast eaters at home - almost always have eggs and yogurt with some sides. It is just something we always have done, since our military days when we may not get lunch until late. Anyhow, most of the people on the ship were still snoozing, so the Lido was deserted. Perfect! We got our morning omelettes, no lines, and side dishes, sat and ate as we gazed out at the ocean. Just perfect and SOOOOOOO different from March! This was already better than that cruise.

After we ate, we walked the ships decks again, to see some of the areas that we had missed the first day. The NEW Fish place is on the back deck, across from the aft pool and pizza place. The menu was interesting, different from the old FishNChips. The Pizza place had a sign up that said Closed until further notice. Hmmmmm, that is going to upset some passengers. Then we found there is Sushi-At-Sea window in the Lido. Hmmmmmm. Might have to check that out later, too. We went up top, and saw that the mini-golf was almost empty so decided to play a little game. It was very windy, so sometimes you hit the ball and the wind would take it and blow it in a different direct. LOL

Next we had to start again on our quest to find the ship's coin. On Embarkation day we had tried exploring on all the outside decks a bit but it was so crowded and hot we gave up. Today though we were determined to find it. Up and around every deck, Serenity deck, secret decks, all around the ship....BINGO. Found it! I will not disclose the location, just that this one was harder to find.

The Havana Bar is kind of hidden, you have to take the stairs near the Alchemy down to it, or behind the Taste Bar down. We love the cigar bar stools and funky decor with label designs on the wall and crackle finish ceiling. It is very cool though and I bet very under-utilized due to being hidden. We had planned to see the Latino duo there one night, but their schedule always conflicted with the Playlist shows, just like the Comedy shows. It is always hard for us to decide what to attend every night after dinner!

It was lunchtime before we knew it, so off to the Lido we go. I was in the mood for a salad, and since the Blue Iguana now has taco bowls, we both thought we would try a taco salad there. No line...again! Wow, I am really getting to love this. We got our taco salads made but unfortunately, they don't keep much lettuce there, so it wasn't much "salad" to it, just lots of toppings. I got shrimp, he got chicken. Both were good, but the shell just isn't very tasty and I just don't eat fried greasy shells anyhow. So after we ate our salads, we hit the Lido salad bar for another salad. Dessert... of course! Key lime pie and some kind of mousse with raspberry topping. Yeah, I know we are odd. It was Cruise Elegant night and we knew at dinner we would be eating way too much.

Afternoon snack - Sushi! It was really tasty. We got the Bang Bang.

Elegant night.... same menu as on every cruise. We both got the spinach salads and then Lobster tail with orzo and shrimp. It was all very good, as usual. I was stuffed, so ordered the fruit for dessert, Ron ordered chocolate melting cake. While we were waiting for the desserts, our waiter came out with a special anniversary cake for us, and the waiters sang to us. It was so nice and totally unexpected. We had not told them our anniversary was next week (after the cruise) but were told they keep track. Well done Carnival. The cake was really like a fudgy gooey thing, no cake at all. We could only eat half. When we returned to our room, our steward Carter had a message written on our mirror for us.

After dinner, we changed to comfy clothes and headed to the Victoriana theatre to see the Playlist Productions show 88 Keys. It was a good show, not our favorite though. Afterwards we walked to the other end of the ship for a Comedy Show...but the line was down the hall past the Alchemy Bar. By the time we got inside, all seats were filled! Uggghhh. Oh well, another night. I hate how the shows are opposite each other and you can't attend them all. We love the Playlist shows and we love the Comedy Club both. We turned around, went to the Sports Bar and the basketball game was on. Okay, that works for us. We watched the rest of the game, then back to the room to crash. It was a long day since we started at 6am.



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Monday, May 22nd


Sea Day!

Yes, another Sea Day. This itinerary the ships goes all the way south to Roatan, then works its way back to Belize, then Cozumel, and one Sea day home to Galveston. Breakfast at the Lido, the usual. Lunch at Guy's Burgers.

At 4pm we attended CD Malcolm's Motown trivia in the Lobby. It was packed when we got there. I just loved it, and so did the crowd. Malcolm is hysterical! The game and answers were done around 5:30pm, so we hurried back to the room to change for dinner.

Dinner was good - I had the Greek Salad and Mojito Chicken, Ron had the same salad and Lamb Shanks. For desserts we got the Coconut Lime cake and Pana Cotta Tropicale. Playlist was doing their show Getaway Island, which we had seen before. It is good if you like the "beach blanket" music but we wanted something different tonight. So after dinner we rushed to the Comedy Club, getting in line for the 8pm show which was PG. The comedian, Tim Walkoe, was very good but I am sure he was even better at the later R rated show. We were set to turn in early - tomorrow was dive day! Woo Hoo. We went back to the room and made sure we had all our dive gear packed for the excursion.



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Tuesday, May 23rd


Roatan, Honduras

Yeah...Roatan. We love this island. We have been here twice on week-long land vacations to dive, and also 2 other times for the day on cruises. We just never get bored with it. This time, however, we HAD to scuba dive. Our previous land trips we had stayed at a resort on the southside of the island and the diving was there. The cruise ships all use Anthony's Key Resort, on the northside of the island, for diving excursions. We were excited to try this place out, and try out the diving on the other side since we had been told it was a bit different from the southside of the island.

The ship arrived and docked at 8am, and we could see the Glory off in the distance. That ship would be joining us at all three ports. Our excursion did not meet until 9:15am, but we didn't mind getting off a bit early so we headed down to the gangway at 8:30am. Our excursion sign was with all the other excursions, up the hill in the main plaza area. We showed our C-cards to the guy, and gave him the Dive Waiver from their website that we had filled out prior to the cruise. We then were directed to go inside the Flipflop store (owned by Anthony's Key) and sign the sheet inside. We did that, then came outside to wait for the others to arrive from our ship and also from the Glory which was docked and unloading. At 9:30am our guide came up and led us out to the parking lot to a bus. He drove us to the resort which was about a 20 minute ride.

When we arrived, the dive boat was ready and we loaded up and got our briefing. We were instructed to put on all gear, including our weights which they gave us according to our request, and then just take a giant stride off the back of the boat to make sure it was enough weight before we left the dock. After everyone took turns, we all were back on the boat and heading just 5 minutes away to the first dive site....Green Outhouse Wall.

We were divided into two groups, each with a divemaster. There were 10 divers, so that meant 5 divers per DM, sweet. The first group jumped in, then we geared up with group 2. This site was a nice easy short wall with fingers going in and out, lots to explore. No current meant total control, too. The dive plan for everyone was 40 minutes with a 3 minute safety stop. Before we knew it, we were back on the boat. Since the dive sites are so close to the resort we went back to the dock for our surface interval. Everyone got off the boat, some went into the Gift Shop to buy snacks, others went to the restroom or to explore the dock area.

Back on the boat, our next dive was also just 6-8 minutes away, and named Deep Eel Garden. It was also next to a large wreck, the Aguila. Our DMs decided that everyone was good enough to explore the wreck a bit, as long as they stayed shallow (he wanted less than 70' but that didn't happen for most of the divers, LOL). We decended into a huge school of grouper and snappers, then turned and headed out into the blue towards the wreck. The wreck is broken into two pieces and hasn't been down too long as there wasn't a lot of growth on it yet. It was cool though. We circled around it, and the DM signaled the divers who got too deep (several hit 90' before they realized it). We then went back over to the beautiful wall. As we did a large Eagle Ray soared right along right by us all. It was magnificent! Of course, my GoPro was locking up on me and saying the card was full. I knew it wasn't, and it sucked to miss the eagle ray, but I was determined to enjoy the dive. Sorry no footage of the eagle ray! It was a wonderful dive and we were very impressed with the dive op and diving on this side of the island. I would love to go back there and stay a full week, diving these reefs every day!


My Diving Video: Roatan Scuba-Anthony's Key Resort


Our dive profiles: Dive #1 = 53' max depth, 42 minutes. Dive #2 = 71' max, 58 minutes. Water was 82 degrees on both dives.

We returned to the dock, rinsed off our gear, and loaded back up on the bus. It was 20 minute ride back to port, then another 20 minute walk with our gear bag (luckily on rollers) to the ship and our room. We rinsed off the gear and put it out on the balcony to dry, rinsed ourselves, and changed to dry clothes. It was just after 2pm, so we headed up to the Lido to eat a quick lunch before heading back out to shop.

Our back-on-board time was 4:30pm so we had a few hours. Our son loves it when we bring him coffee from the port, so we had to get him a bag. Ron also can't stand it if he doesn't get to drink a local beer so we had to find one for him at the bar there in the port. It was scorching hot, so we opted to get something cold - gelato! Wow, best gelato I have had in forever. We got a coconut and a pistachio and shared. Yum.... We strolled through all the shops but didn't find much screaming our names, so we headed back onboard the ship early.

Back onboard, we finished drying off gear, hanging things up in shower as the ship began to pull away from the port. Mahogany Bay, Roatan and Anthony's Key Resort...we will return! Dinner menu I forgot to photograph, food was good, I had fish and Ron had the Ports of Call, whatever that was. At least, that is what I wrote down in my notebook. Tonight there was no Playlist or Comedy...geez, why can't they have one or the other? The theatre had Hasbro the Gameshow, then the Love and Marriage Show. We stuck our heads in to see a little bit of the Hasbro show, and it was funny but meant more for families with young kids. I like that Carnival does do shows just for them, but it wasn't really for us. We opted to just walk around the ship, to get some steps for our fitness trackers, a quick drink at the Red Frog, then back to the room to pack up our gear for Belize - we were doing the Cave Tubing!


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Wednesday, May 24th


Belize

Belize is a tender port, which means that all ships anchor off-shore and tender boats shuttle passengers back and forth to the dock. Our shore excursion, as all the Carnival excursions, met in the Victoriana theatre before 8am. From there, as each group was called, people were lead down to the tender boats and taken to shore to meet their tour guides. Our tour, the Cave Tubing with Lunch, was the second group called. Our tender boat was waiting for us and over 100 people loaded on. The ride is around 20 minutes to shore, and then we walked down the pier and found the sign for our tour. We were directed down a walkway and told to wait until passengers from both ships (yes, the Glory was there too) arrived. We were loaded onto 4 buses and off into the jungle we went for an hour fifteen minute drive to the Jaguar Paw Outpost.

When we arrived, we were directed to the counter to rent a locker to put our dry belongings. From there, we got the life vests and helmets, and met our tubing guide. In groups of 8 we were led down the path through the jungle, carrying our tubes. It was about a half mile and not as bad as we had read from other reviews, but it was hot and there were roots and gravely rocks at times. We emerged from the jungle at the river bank and cave entry. Our guide tied the tubes together and off we went....for a 30+ minute drift through the cave. Our guide pointed out stelagtites and stalagmites of various shapes and sizes with names from the local Mayans, and told of the legends of the caves. We saw a few bats, too.


Belize video -- Belize-Cave Tubing excursion


Once we exited the cave, we returned the tubes, vests, and helmets, then went to our lockers and got our dry clothing. We took everything, changed, and then found the line for the lunch. Our food was a typical Belizean lunch of baked chicken, rice and beans, with cole slaw. Drinks were not provided but were available for purchase at a window. Ron grabbed me a Coke Zero and himself a couple beers and we sat down at one of the picnic tables to eat. The food was very good, not fancy, but filling. We went into the gift shop to enquire about the photos taken by the staff and the beginning of the river with our tubes. The clerk found our photo and it was horrible with glare and water spots on it. Yuck, no way I am paying $15 for that. We then went back out to find our tour guide who was supposed to announce our group name when it was time to board our bus....there were hundreds of people there so it is the only way to keep people together. Our group was announced, Big Bruce's Babies, and we followed him to the bus meeting spot. Two other groups were ahead of us so we had to wait, and wait. Finally a bus came and we were off back to the port.

Once back at port, 30 minutes later than the schedule...so be prepared for that... we had just over an hour to shop before we had to be on a tender back to the ship. We wandered in and out of all the shops, looking for something special. One particular shop had a huge selection of shirts but they also had a long line to check out. We ended up leaving and buying at a smaller shop. Then we got in line for a tender. Soon enough we were back on the Freedom, with time to spare.

Dinner tonight was very good. I had the Ports of Call main dish, a chile relleno, and pumpkin soup for appetizer. Ron got a salad and chicken milanese. For dessert I got the chocolate panna cotta which was so rich I couldn't finish it. He got the cheesecake. The Playlist Performers show tonight was 80s Pop to the Max. We had seen the show before but I loved it so we had to see it again. It was just as good as I remembered. Afterwards, we went back to the room to download the video and photos, then load back up the dive gear for our next port, Cozumel, where we were diving again.



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Thursday, May 25th


Cozumel, Mexico


We arrived at Puerta Maya at 8am, right on schedule. The Glory was already docked and emptying out onto the pier. Our excursion today was to dive again. We headed down to the gangway with our dive gear bag and out onto the pier. I stopped to get my sunglasses out of my bag and must have dropped my ScubaSmurf. We didn't realize it was missing until we got into the port area and were waiting for the Dive Op group to form. Oh well. It was given to us by another diver on a different cruise. Guess I will have to find a new one on ebay.

As we checked into the Dive Op we realized that the same group from diving in Roatan was there. We were diving with the same people again. Unfortunately, the skies were gray and it looked like rain. Within a few minutes, everyone had assembled and our SandDollar Sports excursion was off to our boat. When we walked to the pier area for the dive boats, the Twister excursion was loading and there wasn't room for our boat. So we had to wait, and wait, uggghhh. They finally all loaded onto the boat, then they got a briefing, and we waited. Finally they pulled away and our boat came over to pick us up. Once onboard, we went just down to their dive shop at the International pier, 5 minutes away. All the other divers got off to get rental gear, while we began setting up our gear on the tanks already waiting on the boat. We were only there for 10 minutes or so before we pulled away, heading south to our first dive site. We had mentioned to the DMs that we wanted to do something good, like Santa Rosa or Palancar. They laughed and said we didn't have time to go that far south today...but a few minutes later, after talking to the boat captain, they announced that they had changed their minds. First dive, Santa Rosa wall. Woot!

We were divided into two groups again, each with a Divemaster. The first group went in and a few minutes later our group followed. The current was blowing like crazy. We dropped in over the sand, as is protocol in Cozumel in case anyone has a problem. Once we were all okay, we followed the DM over to the reef and through and opening to the wall. The current was pushing us hard so we all had to kick hard to fight it to get over the wall. Once there, the current began pushing us northward. The DM told everyone to stay in the 70' depth range, no one in front of him or below him. Of course there were a few who insisted on zooming around up and down, fighting the current. Cozumel is known for its current, and drift diving...you dont' fight it at all as it will waste your air. It is better to just stay low against the reef and relax. The DM took us through one of the many swimthroughs but the current was crazy as you exited, blowing everyone up against the reef, so he decided not to do anymore. We just stayed there along the reef.

Our DM asked the divers how much air they had left, and one diver, of course, had not been checking his gauges the whole dive. He signaled the DM that he was down to 700psi, so the DM led everyone back over the wall onto the sand area and we circled up to do our 3 minute safety stop at 20'. We got back onto the boat which was there waiting for us after a crazy 32 minute dive, my max depth was 73'. Back onboard, the tanks were swapped out by the crew, and sliced fruit was passed around. A jug of water and cups were there on the boat for everyone also. We moved the boat to the next site, Yucab reef, which is shallower and a strip reef with coral, not a wall.

As soon as we dropped in over the sand, a nurse shark came swimming by. It was at least 5' long and Ron tried to get in my shot so we could compare length. Not quite close enough, but you can see the size better in the video as it swims by everyone. The current was mild here at Yucab. We drifted a good 30 minutes before the DM started asking about air left again. That same guy looked at his gauge and suddenly went dashing towards the DM signaling that he was out of air. The DM grabbed his octo and handed it to the guy, then grabbed his gauges to check. He realized that the guy was not totally out, so he gave the guy back his own regulator and kept his octo handy for using with the guy on the safety stop. We got back on the boat after 46 minutes this time, with a max depth for me of 53' the water was nice, showing 82 degrees on my computer. Unfortunately, the vis wasn't great, and most of that was due to the cloudy skies.


My Diving Video: Cozumel - SandDollar Sports


When the dive was done, the dive boat pulled up to our dock and let us off. We gathered up our stuff and headed back onto the ship. It was lunchtime and we were both starving. We stopped at our room, put the gear out to dry on the balcony after a quick rinse off in the shower, then changed and headed up to the Lido for food.

We decided on the Old Fashioned BBQ for lunch again, and when we got there it was deserted. We ate quickly, then grabbed our money and headed out to the port to do a little shopping.

We shopped a little, listened to the Mariachi band, and then hit the bar for a few cold frosty beers. Back on board time was 3:30pm, but we were on long before the lines got crazy.

Tonight was the 2nd Elegant night, so we decided to skip it and just eat at the Lido buffet. I got salmon, he got steak and potato, we both got salads. It was quick, we were in and out in 30 minutes. The Playlist show "Heart of Soul" was on our agenda after we walked the decks a few laps. The show was much better than expected. The two male lead singers are just amazing! After the show, we walked a few more laps then went back to the room to download video and photos. Great day.


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Friday, May 26th


Sea Day

Just like every day, we were up before 6am and dressed for a workout. We headed up to the track and started doing laps. After an hour, we walked back down to the room to wash up and change. Breakfast was the usual, omelette or hard boiled eggs, etc. Afterwards, we started getting the room organized to pack. Boo. Our room steward, Carter, was in the hallway aready, so we told him not to bother with our room for the day.

After awhile, we went up to the Lido deck, to walk around and take some final photos. We went to our favorite relaxing spot, by the aft pool, in the shade at a table. We grabbed sodas and sat there, enjoying our last day. You might be surprised, but we had never tried the pizza place onboard in seven cruises....but for some reason today it sounded like a good snack before lunch. I walked over to order one, and he walked over to the bar to grab a beer. To our surprise...it was good. We got the proscutto one to share..a little salad on pizza makes it healthier, right? LOL

We went for a walk around the ship again, getting our steps in for the activity trackers, yeah I know we are on vacation but we still are slaves to working out. At noon we were hungry, but not starving, so tacos at Blue Iguana sounded good. And the Chocolate buffet was out.

After lunch we did some more walking and then went down to the Lobby...CD Malcolm was doing the 80s Trivia game. We stopped up on the 5th floor to watch and guess the songs... Malcolm is just hysterical. Afterwards, we walked a few more laps then went back to the room to pack a little more. Dinner tonight had to be the dining room as we love seeing the waiters sing goodbye.

After dinner, we went down to decide where to use our free drink coupon. Ron wanted to try out the Alchemy Bar as that was our son's favorite place on our cruise last summer. He got the Fiery Tropical martini, and LOVED it.

Packing needed to be finished so we headed back to the room at 8:45pm...yeah, I know. How boring. It's what we do...we put our luggage out for pickup and went to bed.



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Saturday, May 27th


Debarkation day

Let me start this off by saying.....EVERYONE HATES DEBARK DAY. As always, the Lido buffet was busier than normal since everyone needed to eat one last meal before getting off. At 7am, people had luggage out in all the hallways next to every chair and couch. Everyone was out in the hallways on 3-4-5 and the walkway on Deck 5 was a clogged nightmare. We got seats in the Casino, but within an hour the walkway was jammed with people standing with luggage. This is a HUGE fire hazzard and I can't understand why Carnival allows this. It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R for the groups to get called. By the time we got down the ramps to pick up luggage, the lines at Customs were insanely long. The guy there directing which line to get in seemed to be confused which line was next, so he kept skipping our line. People were getting irrate, so of course he intentionally skipped us then. It was the worst experience we have ever had on debarkation. The worst part was that we had a flight to catch, and had to get outside to get the Carnival shuttle to Hobby airport. T The shuttles only run every hour and we were sure that we were missing the last one to get our flight. Finally we got through and ran outside like maniacs waving our arms at the buses. The shuttle driver was there, and said come on and get on, we leave in 5 minutes. Holy S^&@#, we just made it.

We got onboard, sat down and started chatting with the porter's helper who was a high school kid who worked there on weekends to make money for college. What a great kid. Soon enough, we pulled out of the port parking zoo. We made it to the airport in plenty of time, well, about an hour before our flight, so we had time to grab lunch. Southwest doesn't serve food, just pretzels and nuts, so we had to eat before our 3 hour flight. We ate at the Greek place at Hobbby which was expensive but delicous. We'll definitely eat there again if we have time before a flight.

We made it home in time to pick up our dog at the kennel, bonus points.



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NOTES:

This was probably our FAVORITE cruise we have done other than Alaska last summer. It was relaxing all week. We came home relaxed. And we got to DIVE.

The FREEDOM is definitely a funky ship, as far as decor goes. The wild wallpapers and mosaic floors, colorful sculptures... not exactly calming or sophisticated.

The FREEDOM is a GREAT ship however, the staff and crew are excellent.

The entertainment was always great, including the FUN crew and Cruise Director, Malcolm "woohoo" Burns.

Would we book this itinerary again? ABSOLUTELY!

Will we book the FREEDOM again? ABSOLUTELY!