Caribbean Cruise Sept 22-Oct 4, 2011: (190 Photos)
190. After having an absolutely awesome vacation aboard the Carnival Valour last year, Sandra and I were super excited to book our honeymoon vacation this year aboard the Carnival Freedom! Yes, that's right, just a couple weeks ago Sandra and I tied the knot and became husband and wife! This cruise was an 8 day Western Caribbean Cruise that would take us South as far as Panama.
189. This year we allowed more time before and after the cruise flying into our cruise port Fort Lauderdale a few days ahead of time, and instead of flying out the same day we got off the ship. we stayed in town 3 extra days. We also had some company on this trip, my Father & Iris, and longtime family friends Clarence & Marg who all flew in a day or so later.
188. We hit up the local outlet malls, Cabela's, Bass Pro and other hot spots and found some terrific sales.
186. Saturday morning we took advantage of the complimentary hotel shuttle to the Cruise Terminal in Fort Lauderdale an boarded the beautiful Carnival Freedom. This is a sister (identical) ship to the Valor and has the same layout, but a different theme in all restaurants, different stage shows, etc.
177. Florida is definitely the land of boats and Yachts! It is an awesome location for motor boat enthusiasts.
172. Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas was in port and set to sail shortly after we departed. It is a monster of a Ship!
163. Sailing down the Florida coast as the sun sets on the sunshine state.
162. On the first night of the cruise, Sandra and I booked the ship's legendary steakhouse, a wedding gift from Clarence and Marg. It was a fantastic meal with your choice of prime steak cooked to perfection.
159. Even desert was fabulous!
157. Day two of the cruise was a sea day as we past Cuba on our way to our first port.
155. Fancy dress night was on the evening of Day 2 where all guests in the dining room were dressed to kill!
152. There is entertainment literally around every corner of the ship!
150. Seats fill up fast for both the early and late shows in the main theatre.
147. After the main show Dad, Clarence and I hit up the Punch Line Comedy club for another excellent show!
146. Towel Creature Day 2
145. Our first port of call was back to Cozumel Mexico. When we looked at cruises we decided on another Western Caribbean Cruise, especially when we found ports that really interested us, Cozumel was the only duplicate from last year, and was one of our favorite ports.
143. The port was super busy this time as the Carnival Liberty was in port on the same pier.
140. We didn't book an excursion in Cozumel but took a look around the shops and spent a quiet afternoon on the half deserted and quiet ship.
138. This year we also opted for a room with a balcony as opposed to the standard window only outside room we had last year, and I highly recommend this as I really enjoyed the balcony when we went back to our room, plus Sandra could smoke outside on the balcony.
134. Towel Creature Day 3.
133. Day 4 was another sea day as we sailed further south than Sandra and I had ever been.
129. Sandra hates my hat, its mysteriously disappeared since we got back. Weird.
126. Towel Creature Day 4
125. The fifth day of our adventure brought us to stunning Costa Rica.
123. Yup, that's an active volcano in the background.
117. In Costa Rica we booked our first real Carnival Excursion, like many others we gathered in the lot waiting for our bus to arrive.
116. When reading through the excursion information packet we saw lots of adventures that took you to a destination in a Mini Bus, or Fancy Motor coach, but when you read down through the list and see remote jungle adventure into the mountains of Costa Rica in a 6x6 CAT Diesel Powered custom built bus - what would you choose?
115. Your Damn right!!!
114. The bus took us through whatever town the Cruise Ship docked in and we saw the local wildlife. In Costa Rica government has mandated that Every Child has to attend school, and that Every house has electricity.
112. Set sail get out of the way!
103. Cool looking plant, probably poisonous, wasn't really paying attention! LoL
94. Everything is massive and extra creepy in the Jungle, trees, plants, leaves and bugs - especially spiders.
76. The jungle adventure was an awesome full day adventure that I really enjoyed. Sandra would have been happier if the Bus's air conditioning was colder all in all not a bad review.
73. Towel Creature Day 5.
72. Day 6 brought us all the way south to Colón, Panama which is the Atlantic Side entrance to the Panama Canal.
71. Dad, Iris, Clarence and Marg opted to do a East to West coast train ride along the Canal, while Sandra adn I decided to arrange our own adventure.
70. We got off the Ship and arranged a taxi with someone on the pier for $20 US. The taxi was a 1997 Toyota Corolla with 700,000km (and you could hear every one of those miles in the rattles) with the airbags duct taped back in as we flew across town through uncontrolled intersections, pedestrians jumping out of the way the whole time. It was wild.
69. We arrived at the Gatun locks and we were surprised to see how tourist friendly it was. Lots to see, bleachers set up literally feet away from the passing ships...awesome, I guess we were surprised because we didn't know what to expect.
68. Sandra was super stoked to hold a diaper wearing baby monkey named Noir.
66. A lot of the old machinery and technology is on display at the locks to show how much has changed, while more has stayed the same.
58. While we were there we got to watch a Panamax Tanker go through the Gatun Locks! A panamax ship is one that is the maximum sixe to fit through the locks. There may have been 24-30" clearance on both sides.
57. The electric trolleys appear to tow the ship but are actually used to guide the ship keeping it centered in the lock. The ship can power itself though, but steering at suck low speeds is pretty well non existent.
56. The water drops pretty quick when the valves are opened by the lock operators.
43. Colón and Panama City (on the Pacific Side) are both extremely busy container ports with dozens of cranes constantly loading and unloading container ships.
40. The Freedom was well over an hour late leaving port as 6 buses were delayed in getting back from Panama City due to crazy traffic. Luckily, the ship will wait for passengers late returning when they are on an excursion booked through the cruise line. If you book your own adventure and are late returning there may not be a ship to get aboard!
39. The craziness of Colón surrounds in the waters all around the port as dozens of ships lie at anchor waiting for their call to enter the Canal.
36. Towel Creature Day 6.
35. Towel Creature Family!
34. That evening's stage show was a Carnival Guest show with many talented guests singing covers of thier favourite artists.
27. The talent show was followed by a big party on deck!
23. The end of our cruise was unfortunately nearing an end and we had 2 sea days ahead to sail from Colón, Panama back to Fort Lauderdale. The seas leaving Panama were perfectly flat calm for beautiful cruising.
22. Day seven's Stage show was another large production numbers in tribute to the Beatles, and like all the other shows on both cruises was a stellar performance.
20. The Comedy Club is always a great place to pass away a couple hours in the evening. On both crises there were 4 comedians, two for the first 4 days, and two more for the last days, and the material was different each night.
19. Towel Creature Day 7.
17. On our last full day at Sea Carnival offered a behind the scenes tour which I excitedly signed up for. It was an awesome tour of the bowels of the ship incorporating the engine room, main galley, I-95 (the Deck 1 Crew Service corridor running the length of the ship) and the bridge.
16. It was a great informative tour that I highly recommend.
14. Getting ready for our last main dining room meal.
10. Towel Creature Day 8.
9. Before we knew it (and well before we were ready!) we were back in Fort Lauderdale.
6. Towel Creature Day 6.
5. Our last full day on the ship was a Sea Day as we sailed around the back of Cuba back to Miami.
4. That night was the Carnival Legends show which seen guests who auditioned throughout the week perform a full show of celebrity impressions, and were joined by Carnival Staff like our cruise director dressed as Dolly Parton.
2. Towel Creature Day 7.
1. As I mentioned earlier, this trip we had a few extra days in Fort Lauderdale before heading home which was great to do a little more shopping and ready ourselves for the return to reality of work and home!
Copyright © 2011 Michael Smith