I sailed on the Carnival Freedom June 30-July 8th, ports visited were St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and Nassau Bahamas. This portion of my review will focus on the Carnival Freedom, the ship itself. This is my third time sailing with Carnival and my 6th cruise, I will focus on the good and the bad as part of my review.
THE SHIP: overall appearance of the ship, the decor was fine, weird and different as all carnival ships are. Maintenance and upkeep were another story, it was visibly worn and in need of some revamping and general maintenance, the carpets everywhere, rooms and common areas are visibly worn and in need of help. There was several areas of rust visible too. The outside of the ship, the balcony's and around the big screen tv, we did see crew "touching up" some of these areas, although not as much maintenance being done as on others ships my family has sailed. Cut backs were evident....in overall upkeep, and especially the food options, and the toiletry basket.
I addressed upkeep, another issue on our sailing was one of the diesel engines stopped working a couple of days before the end of our cruise, I know things like this happen, however the captain did not inform us until next to the last day, after we had a noticeable decrease in speed a couple of days prior...this did cause problems with delays getting to our last port and back to fort lauderdale, they did open the phone lines so people could adjust their travel arrangements.
THE TOILETRY BASKET: I know this is not a big deal for many, however if you have sailed carnival in the past you know that the toiletry basket was always a great little bonus it used to include, razors, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. This is no longer the case, there were 2 breath right strip samples, 2 samples of crest toothpaste, not tubes but foil packets and 1 bar of soap. The shower had dispensers filled with body wash and shampoo only. You will need to remember your conditioner and anything else you need for your personal care products for your cruise, just wanted to note this as I was ill prepared based on other reviews and my past experience.
THE FOOD: This was a huge disappointment for my family, there were 7 of us, 4 adults and 3 kids. The buffet has gone way down hill, the options were almost always the same. BREAKFAST: the omelet bar is still up and running, as well as an assortment of fruit(mostly melons), apples, pears and oranges, and bananas were available as well as canned peaches, prunes and sectioned grapefruit and oranges. Cottage cheese and yogurt, and of course pancakes, waffles, bacon, kielbasa, and sometimes sausage but not always, and diced potatoes, also they had a toast and pastry selection and juice and coffee.
Breakfast: Be careful as the eggs from the omelet station were not always cooked as much as they should be, I ordered over medium, but after cutting into the eggs there was still uncooked egg whites present, the "hot" foods were not all that hot, which worries me as this could pose a problem with bacteria. The pastries were the same as usual, they were good, the toast not great, barely toasted and kind of soggy, the pancakes and waffles were pretty bland. We did not go to the dining room for breakfast so I cannot comment on the quality of the food served there.
LUNCH: We did eat lunch a couple of times at the Buffet, however the choices were very limited, they always had fruit and salad, a couple of hot items and cold slaw, potato salad etc. Nothing was impressionable. We ended up ordering room service and eating sandwiches from the deli most of the time because those choices were more edible. Dining Room: we ate lunch in the dining room, because we had free drink coupons for being a past passenger and the only time you could use them was in the dining room for breakfast or lunch...right like I drink first thing in the morning! The lunch was good, however the service was very slow, one of our starters came out after our meals. I was not impressed as the starter I order was for my son and he was hungry! However, lunch was better in the dining room than in the buffet. The days we were in port the dining room was closed for lunch!
PIZZA: Way in the back of the ship by the adult pool, it was edible, not great! Very light soft crust, depends on your tastes, you may like it you may not.
DINNER: We ended up eating in the dining room almost every night, you can access the menu from the tv in your room to see if you like whats on it. This did end up being the best option, but the Service Was Slow!!!!!!!!! Plan on at least 2 hours for everything. The deserts in the dining room far exceeded the ones on the buffet. Towards the end of the cruise everyone pretty much figured out the buffet was not worth eating and the line to get a table at the dining room got very long, one night it was going to be 2 hours to be seated, we should have gone earlier. If you are there by 6 you are more likely to not have to wait as the anytime dining opens at 5:45pm. If you have a baby that requires pureed food, be sure to bring enough for the whole cruise as they are less than helpful in offering anything that would work, even the steamed veggies were not mashable and mashed potatoes are not exactly nutritious for a baby. Just a side note for those traveling with little ones, by the way there were a lot of babies on this ship! (if you have something negative to say about those who bring babies leave those comments to yourself, no one wants to hear it).
I have cruised before and the last time on carnival there were a lot more choices and better food, the buffet was very disappointing and I am that hard to please with food as I don't have to cook that pretty much makes me happy! However when I feel it is unpalatable or unsafe to eat that bothers me. The last two days we tried tried to eat whatever we could, we pretty much lived on the mozzarella and focaccia sandwiches from the deli.
The buffet deserts were terrible, I had cheesecake that tasted like egg, chocolate and raspberry mousse that was very gelatin based and tasteless, the desserts on the room service menu were great, as were the ones you had to pay extra for from the coffee bar on level 5. Ok, enough about the food, you have been fairly informed of what to expect!
The next thing I will review is the Nursery: We had kids ages from 7months to 11 years with our group. The first day we went to check the nursery.....by the way what a joke!! Do not expect to take young kids here, there is nothing to play with for babies and there were a couple of 2 year olds that parents had dropped off for the night time babysitting and they were not treated well....the camp counselors were not console them when they were crying and told them they would not page their parents...how freakin cruel and why would I drop my child off there after that....scary to me! However, the older kids had a great time, they were taken to the disco room and there were lots of fun activities for them to enjoy!