Friday, February 13, 2015

Carnival Freedom Review - February 2, 2015

Carnival Freedom in St. Lucia 2015

Carnival Freedom Review
February 2, 2015
12-day Repositioning

Just The Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Freedom
Captain: Agostino Fazio
Cruise Director: Jen Baxter
Ports: Ft. Lauderdale, St. Martin, St. Lucia, Curacao, Aruba, Cozumel, Galveston

This is my 3rd cruise on the Carnival Freedom, 52nd Carnival Cruise, and 102nd cruise overall.  I am cruising with the dear wife (DW) and thirty good friends (Snoozemates) that we have traveled with previously.  A very fun group of experienced cruisers to travel with on a cruise.

Travel Day One—Saturday—January 31—Travel--Houston

The purpose of travel today is to get vehicles to Galveston where the cruise we are taking will terminate following a repositioning cruise.  We left the ranch about 8:30 am for the easy drive to Valley Mills where we left a vehicle and joined up with friends joining us on the cruise.  We took two vehicles south and made our way to the LaQuinta near Hobby airport in Houston.  We dropped our bags and continued to Galveston to park one auto at EZ Cruise Parking and the other at the Port of Galveston parking lot.  Friends from Alvin picked the four of us up and we headed back to Houston stopping to enjoy a great meal at Pappasito’s Mexican Restaurant on the way.  We checked in at the LaQuinta and relaxed the rest of the evening.

Travel Day Two—Sunday—February 1—Travel—Fort Lauderdale

We were up early and took the 8:30 Hotel Shuttle to Hobby Airport.  We checked in and headed to the gate where we met up with three more couples taking the same flight and cruise.  We are gathering Snoozemates as we go, ten on the same flight.  The 10:45 am Southwest Airlines flight (flight 9) was fine and in two hours we were landing at Fort Lauderdale (FLL) airport.  We have lost an hour in time and by the time we took a taxi to our hotel, the Hyatt Place, it was check-in time.  We have several friends staying here as well as various other hotels in the near vicinity.  This is Super Bowl Sunday so after a cocktail with friends we walked to the local K-mart nearby and got supplies for our cruise,  On the way back we stopped at a Chipolte’s for dinner and made it back to the hotel in time for the Super Bowl kick off.  The rest of the evening was football and Super Bowl activities.  We were very fortunate to have a huge LG flatscreen HG television and comfortable lounging area…couldn’t have asked for more to enjoy the game. 

Day One—Monday—February 2—Fort Lauderdale Embarkation

We signed up for the hotel’s 10:00 am port shuttle so we were up and had the complementary breakfast before leaving.  The shuttle arrived at the port and parked next to a shuttle that contained ten of our group…small world.  All in the group are Diamond and Platinum guests so we went to the already full VIP lounge, but made our own area in general waiting area.  Soon we were moved to another area in the terminal that I recognized as the B2B waiting area…closer to the ship for sure.  About 11:40 we boarded the Carnival Freedom.  Most of us are located on deck 8 aft so we dropped our bags and headed to various food venues on Lido deck.  I went for the Mongolian Wok…it was good and a while since I had a bowl.  I returned to my cabin to change into cooler clothes and some luggage had arrived so it was time to set up the cabin.  The ‘Safety Drill’ was held about 4:15 pm. and seemed to go well.  I was unpacked, set up, and met my cabin steward, before sail away.  We watched us sail out of Port Everglades and then the group met at the Alchemy Bar for cocktails.  Our group wears matching red Hawaiian shirts to dinner on the first night and it made quite an impression and the group dominated the Alchemy Bar.  The Freedom Alchemist team: Bojana, Corinna, and Maria are great and it will be a great week.  For dinner I ordered two Shrimp Cocktails, the Linguini with Italian Sausage, Bell Peppers & Mushrooms (as a starter), Chicken a la Grecque, and the Creme Brûlée  for dessert.  All were good.  The Welcome Show was at 10:00 pm in the Victoriana Theater, but knowing I could watch it later on cabin TV, I retired to the cabin to rest.  Others in the group went to the casino, music venues, Red Frog Pub, and more. 

Day Two—Tuesday—February 3rd—Fun Day at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  DW ordered room service breakfast as she does every morning on a cruise.  I went up one deck to Lido to get a bacon sandwich.  Our Snoozemate's group has our major function this morning, our now annual Pajama Party, from 9:30 - 11:00 am in the International Lounge.  Everyone wore the white Carnival stateroom robes and most were  in PJ’s to enjoy: Coffee, Tea, Juices, Pastries, Bloody Mary’s, Mimosa’s, Bellini’s, Screwdriver’s and more.  A great way to start a cruise is to have a great mixer at an unusual time straightaway.  We certainly did.  After our morning of cocktails we went to the Sea Day Brunch in the Posh dining room.  We do have just the right amount of sea days on this cruise to experience the brunches and regular MDR breakfasts.  After brunch it was rest and relaxation for the afternoon.  Some visited the Casino or participated in Trivia.  This is the Captain’s Elegant evening and the group met at the Alchemy Bar for cocktails all wearing our black Hawaiian shirts.  Very impressive look and we did ‘take-over’ the Alchemy.  Dinner was very good as usual.  The production shows this evening were Heart of Soul AND 80’s Pop To The Max in the Victoriana theater.  They do split up the shows on this ship, having two different ones and repeating nights as well.  A very busy and FUN day at sea.

Unfortunately at the end of this cruise as I was making a template for the cruise following I accidentally erased my review for this cruise.  I had only posted up through day two.  I will now only be able to mention the highlights of each day.  It may actually be a better review as it will be concise or at least something different.

Day Three—Wednesday—February 4th—Fun Day at SeaA usual sea day for the group.  They served the Sea Food Brunch again in the MDR.  Usual ship board activities including Triva, Texas Hold 'em Tournament, Seminars, Mixology Competition, and more.  Snoozemate's highlight was meeting in the Red Frog Pub for Latin Fusion Night.  Who knew we had Latin dancers in the group?  Great Fun.  The production shows repeated this evening:  Heart of Soul AND 80’s Pop To The Max in the Victoriana theater.

Day Four—Thursday—February 5th—St. Maarten, NA
Our first port day and almost all took a taxi to the small city of Marigot on the French side of the island.  The highlight here is Sarafina’s where they have excellent French pastries, eclairs, tarts, etc.  Also fresh bread and sandwiches, it was so good that I ate here twice.  We had our first sail away party, a Snoozemate's tradition, then cocktails at the Alchemy Bar before dinner.  Ships activities included: Bobby Borgia an illusionist, Superstar Karaoke, Motown Trivia, and more.

Day Five—Friday—February 6th—St. Lucia, West Indies
Drinking a Piton Beer in front of the Pitons
Our second port and several did private tours.  DW stayed on the ship and I did a full day tour of the island with several in the group.  We saw the banana platations, Marigo Bay, Soufriere, and more. The highlight being of course the World Heritage Picton mountains area of the island.  I really like the photo (left) taken here as the local beer matches the mountain view.  Second group sail away party and cocktails before dinner. Ships activities included: Punchliner Comedy, Adult Carnival Quest, Master Hypnotist ASAD, and more.

Day Six—Saturday—February 7th—Fun Day at Sea
A needed sea day as we head further south.  Sea Day Brunch and usual sea day ship activities.  Cocktails at the Alchemy have become an everyday thing before dinner.  Evening ship activities included: Punchliner Comedy, Production Shows: 88Keys and Getaway Island (my favorite), Red Frog's Caribbean Beach Party, and more.

Day Seven—Sunday—February 8th—Curacao
One of my favorite southern Caribbean ports with a very Dutch influence.  We walked into town from the new cruise terminal enjoying the architecture and unique colors of the city.  Unfortunately this being a Sunday most of the shops were closed although DW did find a jewelry store with local Pandora items.  We did have a nice lunch and some beer before returning to the ship.  Group cocktails before dinner.  Evening ship activities included: Superstar Live Karaoke, the Production Show: A Night To Remember, the Love & Marriage Show, and more.

Day Eight—Monday—February 9th—Aruba
Hawaiian Mafia at Alchemy Bar
DW prefers to boycott this port because of what happened here to Natalie Holloway.  We did get off
the ship for just an hour + to have a beer and I did buy one of those expensive bamboo t-shirts (I'm probably a 'sucker' for getting one).  We returned to the ship in time for a Guy's burger.  They are open until 4:00 pm each day and ideal for getting some good food upon return to the ship.  Another balcony sail away party as we sailed at sunset.  We again had group cocktails before dinner at the Alchemy Bar.  Evening ship activities included: Comedy Ventriloquist Phil Hughes,

Day Nine—Tuesday—February 10th—Fun Day at Sea
We were required to go to 'far distant' islands in order to satisfy Jones Act requirements (U.S. port to U.S. port) so we are now heading north towards Texas.  Sea Day Brunch and usual sea day ship activities.  Cocktails at the Alchemy continue to be an everyday thing before dinner.  Evening ship activities included: Punchliner Comedy, Production Show: the Juggler Edge, and more.

Day Ten—Wednesday—February 11th—Fun Day at Sea
Still heading north.  Again Sea Day Brunch and the usual sea day ship activities.  I did help several at the Future Cruises desk.  Balcony Party then cocktails at the Alchemy before the second and final elegant night dinner.  Evening ship activities included: Punchliner Comedy, Production Shows: 88Keys and Getaway Island (again my favorite), Dive-in Movie Blockbuster Night, and more.

Day Eleven—Thursday—February 12th—Cozumel Mexico
Cozumel is always a favorite port.  About ten went on a great snorkel adventure and twenty of us met at Woody's Bar in San Miguel.  The owner, Nelly, started the live entertainment early for us and even supplied a great birthday cake.  Always a fun spot for us and my usual hangout when in Cozumel.  I did get a hair cut and did some drug shopping at the local drugstores.  The Z-paks purchased were to become a life saver on the following cruise.  We returned to the ship for some rest before our final sail away party.  An apéritif before dinner as usual at the Alchemy Bar.  Always fun at the Alchemy with the girls.  This evenings ship activities included: Punchliner Comedy, the Piano Bar, the feature Show was Hasbro: The Game Show, Blue Iguana's Mexican Fiesta,  FrogFest,  and more.

Day Twelve—Friday—February 13th—Fun Day at Sea
Our final sea day as we are entering the Gulf of Mexico and now well on our way to Galveston, Texas.  Final Sea Day Brunch and sea day activities including the Groove For St. Jude.  Many prepared their debark and customs forms and those on the B2B met in the theater for further instructions.  The group had a 'get rid of excess liquor' balcony party, but we still still made it to the Alchemy Bar for our last night with Corina, Boyana, and Maria.  They have been an absolute joy each and every night.  My new favorites at the Alchemy Bar. Fianl dinner was good with the usual farewell waiter song: "All Your Bags are Packed...".  Light on the shows this evening, but they had the Showcase of Stars guest talent show and all the usual Bar & Lobby entertainment.

Debarkation--Saturday--February 14th--Galveston, Texas
DW is debarking today, but I am staying on board with nine others in our group.  DW rode back with our friends from Bosque County and was home in good shape by early evening.  I met with our group and the other B2B guests in the theater as instructed were we received our new Sail & Sign cards for the one day special event today.  We were able to enjoy complementary cocktails and the concert during the day.  They served an Elegant Night dinner tonight as well.  A very nice event. Unfortunately I was not able to 'party' or take advantage of the special events in the late evening as I am feeling the effects of a bug I picked up on the cruise.

A Funtastic Cruise with great Friends 

Visit Zydecocruiser's great photo review of this cruise: 
 Click Here!

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