We were on the same cruise with you. Read your review, and you nailed it. This was our 9th. cruise, and 2nd. time on the Freedom. I too used to really like the smaller ships, but we have been on the Freedom enough to make it seem smaller. The buffet area is pretty crowded at times, and can be pretty hectic. I agree on the food not bad, but not elegant. I believe we have been enough times that you get a bit used to it. It is not as much of a special treat as when you haven't been for awhile. Enjoyed Panama the most. Could not believe how calm the sea was on our first of 2 sea days on the return trip. It was amazing as I have never seen it that calm.
Glad you enjoyed you cruise as much as we did.