This was our third cruise and the first on Carnival. Many highs and lows to the trip. I would suggest some caution in requesting staterooms and in preparations before boarding and debarking. A good place to just relax and get caught up on your reading. The price was right.
by two cruisers on July 15, 2012
When we were boarding the Carnival Freedom we noticed people struggling to carry on cases of bottled water and canned pop. It was a physically exhausting effort, but those people were smart. Water was our #1 expense in shopping on board. And it is expensive. You could only obtain it if you made a special request with your steward, room service, or go to a bar. The first two are unreliable, so go right to a bar. Each bottle had a 15% tip added to the charge.There are three "Fun Shops" on the Freedom. I will call the first one "All that Glitters". They only sell costly jewelry, watches and expensive desk novelties like marble globes. We didn't buy anything there. Next door is a shop I will call "Gift Basket" shop. They sell special occasion gifts that include flowers, wine, and jelly beans. I had brought my own candy on board, so didn't shop there either. The third shop I will call " Do you want Pringles with that T-shirt?" It is a varitety shop with T-shirts, some snacks, kids toys, and thank heavens, some paper back books (ours were ruined when our suitcases were drenched during boarding). We bought 4 books, 4 pringles cans and two thermal cups. I recommend the thermal cups as a first day purchase. I got a blue and my husband a red. We would fill them with ice water or coffee in the Lido 24/7. That cut the cost of our bottled water habit.There is a lady on the Freedom staff who is a shopping advisor. For those of you have cruised before, you know what that means. This over the top enthusiastic shopper wants you to spend all your time in port going from shop to shop buying diamonds, emeralds and tanzanite. In fact she told us there wasn't any good shopping on Tortola because there weren't many jewelry store. We wanted souvenirs that reflected the locale. It was our experience that Tortola had the best shopping for our needs...local art and crafts and antiques and if you must have jewelry, they had some locally crafted items that were lovely.
by two cruisers on July 14, 2012
The Carnival Freedom had one of the best troupes of singers and dancers I have seen in a resort setting. And double wow for the set designers, costume designers and musicians. I saw three of their productions and wished for encores. One production was about The Big Easy, another was a salute to the Beatles, and the third was Jump Jive and Wail. But wait...that was only three nights out of eight!On some of the other nights there were knock-offs of once popular TV shows. One was Newlywed Game featuring...passengers. Another was a talent show featuring...passengers. Good nights to stay in the stateroom and watch the last half of "the Iron Lady".We were tempted by the casinos. I did run into Bingo and Trivia Challenges that were surprisingly fun. There were lounge acts that we appreciate, except for the bar setting. Several times we just sat in the Lido between meals nursing cups of coffee and tea as we read and watched the ocean.There was plenty of room at the swimming pools, one had a giant screen TV. There were some nice lounge areas for an ocean view for those who don't have their own veranda. I even found an arcade room.I roamed more that my husband, who was enchanted with the stateroom TV station that showed where we were on a map. If you can't find something to do on board, its your own fault.
One of the ship's TV channels had a self-promoting feature story about the achitect-designer of the beautiful Carnival Freedom. I was truly surprised they were promoting it, as generally speaking the interior is a mish-mash of overblown designs. Lets start with the wood panelling. It is valued for its rare graining, bands of colors that range from orange to teal. All the other art was keyed off this unusual wood. The main lobby had multi storied panels of this wood between glass walled elevators. That was neat, but then they added panels of garish designs and banks of colored lights that changed colors. It looked like a .....carnival...oh, I get it now!The elevators were a wonder of oversized designs that could encourage seasickness. Panels of bold but pleasant designs were randomly placed in corridors of the public areas. They also reflected the wood colors. Flooring was often of a stone tiled arrangement that led to visual confusion...do I need to step up or step down? The white stone tiles were grained with a dirty brown that looked like a bad mop job.In the Freedom Restaurant, wall sconce lights were made of a translucent blue material in the shape of the Statue of Liberty's face. They looked like ghoulish death masks. Overhead the strange blue blobs of glass were interspersed with wavy metallic brown bands. Was that supposed to look like dirty sea foam waves?The very best art work was found on the stateroom decks between rooms. These tasteful Art Nouveau panels depicting people both famous and not, were sized right and were an excellant memory devise for finding your room. Different decks had different colored art.I realize that most people are on board to party, party, party. And there were appropriate areas of disco glitz for that purpose. The main auditorium was surprisingly understated which helped focus on the entertainers. As for myself, give me the the elegance of the Delta Queen or HAL Amsterdam.
by two cruisers on July 13, 2012
Cruise ships have recognized that not all passengers want to suit up in tuxedos and beads & sequins. Not all passengers want to share a table with 6-8 strangers making small talk for endless meals. For those reasons they have developed alternate eating opportunities. We ate most of our meals at the Lido buffet called the Freedom Restaurant. Each day they offered a specialty such as Caribbean, Italian, etc. They also offered enough alternatives to please most people. There are more than one buffet line for lunch and dinner, including a Mongolian grill. Breakfast also has an omlette buffet line. All three meals have a seperate area with cheese, fruit and some pastries or desserts. The dining areas are dark and the flooring used looks dirty all the time, even though they clean it often. Up a flight of stairs, sorry no elevator, from the Freedom Restaurant is Fish n Chips. We had read in a guidebook to not miss this one. We went early and often. Very good food and it is less crowded than the main dining room. They also serve sushi here.As for fast foods there are three choices. I ate once at the Pizzeria: and found they had interesting selections. The location, unfortunately is beside the pool bar. It is very loud and rowdy. We ate a few times at The Grille: Hot dogs and hamburgers with sides like fries, potato salads and slaw. The Deli: this grossly understaffed eating opportunity provided excellant grilled reuben, grilled ham & cheese and cold sandwhiches, too. I noticed as we neared the end or our trip, the lines at this window were very long. Word got around!One comment about the buffet set-up. For some reason they put the condiments before the entree. For instance you put catsup and pickles on you plate than pick up your cheeseburger; or you spoon au jus on a plate than put the roast beef on top. There are no small serving plates,bowls or condiment cups. If you want a cup of soup with your meal, you either pour it over the rest or put a splash at the bottom of a huge bowl.What makes the Carnival Freedom a standout for us was the availability 24/7 of coffee, tea and soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. We tried using room service one morning. They never delivered our order. All we got was an apology when I called, no offer to bring the order.If you do love your tuxedo and beaded & sequined clothing, there are two fancy restaurants on board: Posh and Chic. In addition the steakhouse encourages upscale apparel. The cruise we were on had a large tuxedo crowd, and they all want the ships photographer to capture that sparkling moment.
The best part of our trip on Carnival's Freedom was our stateroom. Wider that its counterpart on Holland America, it had a good floorplan, too. The bed was dished out on both sides, but the hollows seemed to fit us. The convertible couch served its function and there was enough table space and drawers for our needs. Color scheme was neutral and had a couple of colorful pictures. The TV offered three free movies each day but there was no schedule to know when they started. I watched the end of "The Iron Lady" three times. We used the veranda often and enjoyed it. The bathroom had a walk-in shower, which we value, also had good lighting.Here are the flaws: shaving/make-up mirror was mounted too high on the wall for us to use; there was only one electrical outlet (we have 2 CPAP machines); being located just below the Lido Deck we heard tables and chairs being moved 24/7; and our towel animals were rather bizzare. Ok, that last one was more amusing than distressing.
Just as in the movie "The Graduate", this one word piece of advice is well intended and could save you some troubles. We boarded The Freedom just as the outer edge of Tropical Storm Alberto passed by. The passengers were given protection with covered walkways from the terminal building to the ship. Not so our luggage. The cube shaped luggage trailer-carts were open sided and open topped. They sat on the dock fully exposed to the downpour before boarding. Everyone we talked to had soaked luggage. In ours I had packed books, which are now permanently mishappened. All our clothing had to be dried and some had to be washed prior to drying to get rid of stains from things they were packed next too. We did quickly make friends as the laundry room was THE gathering place. Plastics...from now on we will pack everything in zip-lock bags and stack them in the suitcase. I checked out waterproof luggage on line and decided I can buy a lot of plastic bags for that cost. There were long lines at the guest services desk. Their comment was that it often rains in Fort Lauderdale. I was ahgast! If that is true, than why don't you have a system in place to protect the luggage? On our last day on board, I reviewed our bill and I noticed there was a refund of $9.95 per person. That covered our extra laundry expenses, but not the books.
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