Day One – Embarkation and Surprise Upgrade!

We finally made it to our cruise on Carnival Freedom! I wondered if we’d be able to cruise after retirement, but so far we’ve managed to get in three cruises after I retired in April. Not too bad.

Before the cruise…Days Inn Titusville and Port Canaveral Parking Lot

We drove to Titusville the day before our cruise out of Port Canaveral. It’s just easier that way, it gives us a little leeway “just in case”. We arrived in Titusville around 3:00 pm and checked in at the Titusville Days Inn. We stayed there in September also. Wasn’t very fond of it then but prices have gone up in Florida. We were put in a room at the very back of the motel. It wasn’t long till we heard a dog barking next door. We did put in a complaint with management but then we heard a very loud TV next door. Since the phones weren’t working in our room, he went down and asked for a different room. They did oblige and it was much quieter. But we were told that the very back rooms were reserved for people with pets. I was glad to get out of there. Breakfast is just okay there, a couple of cereals, waffles, bread, and yogurt. But the hostess kept the place clean and well stocked.

Port Canaveral Parking Lot

We once again parked at the Port Canaveral Parking lot, which is not affiliated with the actual port. See my review from September here. Last time we ended up with a carful of ants after we got back. We’re really hoping that we don’t have them this time. We parked in a different area than last time.

It’s getting hard to find parking for the port because GoPort is only doing parking for specific ships, and the port itself costs so much. Once we got to the parking lot at around 9:30 am, we were told to find a spot and come to the shuttle area at 10 am. We did go down about 10 minutes early to find that others were already there. It didn’t take them long to bring the shuttle that took us to the port. And this time the driver was so much more helpful than the last one. He actually told us where we would be picked up after the cruise.

Embarkation

We got to the port at around 10:20. Our check in time was at 10 am, so we got in line and had our passport and boarding pass in hand. Things moved pretty quickly, although the line was long. We were shown to a desk where the agent looked at our passport and boarding pass, downloaded our picture from our passport, and then stamped our boarding pass as checked. Next was security. We put our bags through the X-ray machine. Everything has to go through the machine, but they do have trays for keys, etc. After that we were herded into the terminal waiting area, and I literally mean herded. We were shown which seats to sit at, like we were at a Disney parking lot. And we were definitely squished together. Pretty much knee to knee.

On top of that, you could not hear the loudspeaker from where we were sitting. We had an early boarding number, number A-3, so we knew we’d be called soon. We decided to get up and stand by the wall closer to the boarding area, and I’m glad we did. It wasn’t much past 11 am when they called the Faster to the Fun boarding groups, and the Platinum group. Diamond VIFP members have their very own boarding area and board first. Then it was groups A-1 and A-2, and not a minute later, A-3. (You can find your boarding number on your boarding pass that you printed out.)

The Ship

As on any boarding day, things are crowded when you first get on the ship. Everyone wants to get on the elevator and go up to the buffet on the Lido deck. Hint – We went down one floor and caught the elevator there. That way we were on the elevator when it got to the third floor. The Lido is deck 9 on the Freedom.

We got to the buffet early, so it wasn’t very crowded yet. We were going to go up one more floor to the BBQ restaurant, but it was not open. So, we claimed a table near the window in the buffet and got some food. I ended up with some Italian grilled vegetables, a bit of Italian beef, and a large salad. The front buffet and the back buffet on the Freedom have different selections, plus there is a Deli on the side between the two buffet areas. The dessert area is small and crowded.

After we were there a while it got way too crowded in the buffet since the rooms weren’t open yet. They don’t open till 1:30 pm, so only bring carry-ons that you want to carry around for a while. We finished up and took the stairs down to deck 5. This is the deck with the casino, bars, and a coffee shop, but there are a lot of seating areas by the windows.

Don’t forget the Muster Drill

Muster Drills on the Freedom are on Deck 4 outside by the lifeboats. First you watch a short video on the HUB app about lifejackets, then you listen to the sound of a horn blast on the app. Then you actually go to your Muster Station and they will make sure you know what to do in case of emergency, and then scan your sail and sign card. They could see how many cruises we’ve done, so they said that we knew what to do, and we were done. Took a minute. If you don’t do your muster drill, they will delay the ship till you do. Everyone has to do it, and it’s so much easier than it used to be. I hope it stays like this. Later our Cruise Director, Gabe, came on the intercom and once again told us how to do a Muster Drill and then they blew the ship’s horn. Here are a couple of pictures of the inside of a lifeboat. I’ve never gotten this close before.

Sail Away

We sailed away from Port Canaveral at around 3:40 pm. I love watching all the people waving from the parking along the route and wishing they were on the ship. Be sure to wave back. We watched the sail away from the secret area on deck 10. Go to the deck 10 cabins and walk all the way to the front of the ship down that hallway. The door to the outside deck is all the way front and to the side.

Our Cabin

We were in interior cabin number 1278. We never used to do interiors, but they are much less expensive than other cabin types, so we’ll do what we can afford. The first thing that we noticed was that this cabins is right next to a large electrical room and there was a constant buzz. You can hear it in the room, so bring a sound machine if you stay there.

I thought that the room was nice, and not really too small. It was clean, and had everything that we needed. I did a tour and I’ll be posting that soon. Our Steward was nice and very friendly. We had a bottle of champagne and some fruit from the hotel manager waiting for us, very nice! Our luggage took quite a while to get to us, but it did come just before dinner. So, we unpacked everything and got ready to go and eat.

Dinner

We like to sit with others to eat so we checked out our table early. We have 6:00 pm dining, and our table was for 8 people, so we were good with that. We’re in the Posh Dining room on the third floor. To get to it you have to take deck 5 to the Alchemy bar, turn right and go down the steps to either deck 4 or 5, whichever floor you are assigned to. It’s a two deck restaurant.

Our waiter was Triana, and he was very prompt in introducing himself and asking our names. I never understand how they can remember our names an entire cruise, but they do. He also has two other waiters on his team. I need to find their names.

I’m trying to eat different things this cruise and broaden my horizons. I did get the Calimari for an appetizer, which was really good, and I got the Smoked Poblano and corn soup, which was new to me. It was delicious also. I tried the Sweet and Sour Shrimp with rice which I really liked. For dessert I had a no sugar added strawberry cream cake. It was okay, not a lot of flavor.

Surprise!

After dinner our plan was to go back to the room for a minute, and then head to the comedy show at 8. When we got there I had a letter on my pillow from the Customer Service Assistant Manager informing us that we were going to be upgraded. Wow! So, I called Customer Service but the girl I spoke didn’t know anything about it and said she’d call me back. I went down to the Customer Service area to check it out but the line had been a mile long all day and it wasn’t moving. So, I went to the room to wait for the call and he went to see the comedian, who I guess was very good.

After he got back I had still not gotten a call, so I went back to Customer Service and got in line. I wasn’t going to let this one go! I finally got to the desk and spoke with Veronica, who was very helpful even though the music from the atrium was so loud we could hardly hear each other. She asked if I’d like to be upgraded to a balcony and I said “heck yeah!”. So, I went and threw our things back into the suitcases, she sent a steward to help move us at 10 pm, and we moved to deck 6, room 6427. I’ll do a tour of that room tomorrow. Now it’s time to wind down.

No night time snacks

We did decide to take a walk to the buffet and try and find a snack so we could relax a bit before bedtime. We found some decaf coffee, but the only snacks to be had were sandwiches at the deli. The ice cream soft serve is advertised as being open till midnight, but it was closed at 10:30 pm. So, I guess we get our late night snacks early and put them in our room for later. And then we went back to our cabin and went to bed. It had been a long and crazy day.

Here are some pictures of around the ship.