Park N Go (Ft. Lauderdale) - Reserved ahead of time at $6.99 per day, payable when leaving the lot. Free shuttle. Service was fast and convenient. Only thing that caught us off guard was having to leave the key with the attendant. We also learned on the way out that there is a pre-pay option. Would definitely do that next time.
The inside guarantee paid off for us. We ended up in 7441, the same location we would have booked ourselves. To us, inside is great because we'd rather spend our money ashore. Our ninja-like cabin steward was very attentive and friendly, and the AC worked just fine. Since Lido is on 9 and the Promenade on 5, deck 7 was perfect.
The Freedom was blessed with many of the 2.0 upgrades, which was fantastic. Alchemy Bar had a wonderful list of martinis and specialty cocktails, and the Red Frog Pub was our time-killing location of choice. I don't think I've ever played shuffle board so much! Alchemy was never busy, and the Pub always chill.
We went to a few of the shows in Victoriana Lounge. One of the best shows I have seen on any Carnival ship is "88 Keys." Definitely go if you are on this ship. Late-night, we enjoyed the Dive-in Movies on Lido. I finally got to see both "Divergent" and "Maleficient". They have fuzzy blankets available at the towel station and popcorn ready at the Red Frog bar. Nothing like watching a great move under the starts with a nice Caribbean breeze.
Debarkation at the end of the trip was much slower than what we are used to. At times, brunch and dinner service was very slow. The fourth night, we were assigned to Yatna's section of the Anytime Dining room - Chic. We requested him ever night after. If you have the opportunity, ask for him by name! He was fantastic.
The ship visited Nassau on the last day. We didn't leave the boat and enjoyed the nearly empty ship - open lounge chairs every where and no lines for food. So relaxing!
We reserved the Sun King Steakhouse as soon as we walked onto the ship. The food was the best we have ever gotten in a Carnival Steakhouse. Everything was fantastic, and my filet was spot-on. Definitely worth the $35pp. Look for the cooking demonstration offered at the steakhouse - sometimes on the first sea day around noon. It's free, and the best part is the food you taste. The sample sizes are actually pretty nice.
Tea time - it's now a "been there, done that."
The Freedom has a fish & chips, Guy's Burgers, and Blue Iguana Cantina. We did not visit the fish & chips, and on the last night I heard they served ceviche. Crap! Maybe next time. Guy's burgers and fries speak for themselves. YUM! The Blue Iguana tacos are delectable! The meats are all wonderfully seasoned and the tortillas made right there. Fantastic!
As mentioned, dinner in the main dining room started off slow, especially on formal night #1. Like, painfully slow. The food was consistent, so no complaints there. The service speed definitely picked up for us when in Yatna's section.
Ports of Call
St. Thomas - We visited Sapphire Beach again this trip for some beach time and snorkeling. We got off the boat as soon as we could and hopped into a taxi with 3 other couples. We were some of the first people to get to Sapphire. We reserved our lounge chair for $9. The no-see-ums were terrible, so you definitely want to keep yourself and your stuff up out of the sand.
After an uncomfortable entry into the water, we donned our snorkel sets and were the first ones out in the water besides two people on paddle boards. We swam about 75 yards out to the sea grass to find the turtles. I think they were just waking up. We saw 4 of them before heading the coral reef on the right side of the bay. The reef is mostly gray and yellow so nothing spectacular on that note; however, I did get a little too close and uncomfortable with the resident barracuda. I saw him out of the corner of my eye about 6 feet away, and started backpeddling. He couldn't have cared less about me. On the swim back, we saw our spotted ray.
Verizon service never picked up for us, although I was told that all texts and data were free there. Too bad I couldn't even get a second of service.
San Juan - Because we are staying in Puerto Rico for a couple of days before our Fall cruise, we wanted to spend this port-time exploring and getting familiar with Old San Juan. We toured both forts in the city - $5pp covered both entrances. There is a LOT of ground to cover in those forts and on the streets, so wear cool clothing and very comfortable shoes.
Based on a recommendation from a friend, we ate lunch at a diner-style counter with a bunch of locals - Cafe Manolin. Great food at fair prices (fair considering it's in the touristy area). For example, my shrimp mofungo with rice and beans and a couple slices of sweet plantains was $7.95.
There is a hop-on hop-off bus that goes through the city, which can save a lot of walking. Definitely take advantage of that if traveling from one fort to the other.
Antigua - We WERE going to follow this plan: Valley Church Beach for the day. Here are the directions if you'd like to get there via bus ($1.50 pp each way): Walk straight off the pier and turn right once you get to Market Street. You will continue down Market St for about 10 minutes. When you come to the giant statue of a man, take the fork in the road to the right. The bus station will be behind a white building on your right. Let the bus #22 driver know you want to get off at Valley Church Beach. Two chairs and an umbrella will cost $20.
Instead, we did this: Gordon's Tour #1 for $40pp with a minimum of 4 people. Gordon picked us up promptly from the boardwalk right after walking off the pier, and we were on our way from a wonderfully narrated tour of the island. Last time, we saw Antigua by sea. This time it was from a completely different perspective. Gordon is super friendly and very knowledgeable. Highly recommend booking with him. We ended our tour at Valley Church Beach and had lunch at The Nest. Food prices are a little high since they are the only place there, but do accept credit card or cash. The water here is a milky blue so don't waste your time trying to snorkel.