I went on a cruise on Carnival Freedom over the Christmas/New Year holiday with my family. We chose Carnival Freedom for the dates of sailing and the price. My group consisted of 4 adults in early to mid-40s, one senior citizen, and three children ages 5-9. Our experience with Carnival Freedom was not great but not too terrible.
EMBARKATION: There was traffic getting in to the port but getting signed in was a breeze. Maybe we just got lucky that there really wasn't much of a line at that time.
CABINS: We stayed on the main deck. Half of us had the oceanview cabins and half had the interior cabins. The cabins are of decent size. We were on a ship after all so you can't expect a lot of room unless you pay a lot of money for suites. The bathrooms were a little dated but in general were clean. There was a basket full of razors, soaps, etc., which was nice. Before the cruise, my husband and I requested a king size bed, which really was two twin beds put together. My sister, who was sharing the room with her little boy, requested the same thing. Upon arrival, neither one of our cabins were set up the way we had requested. I called the ship staff responsible for maintaining the cabins to arrange our beds the way we had wanted and they said they would come and take care of our beds. About two hours later, no one came and so I called again. No one ever came and no one ever bothered to follow up on our request. This was the first sign of poor customer service. Our cabins did not get cleaned regularly and we didn't even see our cleaning persons until halfway through the cruise. Overall, the cabin was adequately sound-proofed. We didn't have issues with noise.
ENTERTAINMENT: I've seen better. The same group of dancers and singers performed for most of the nights. They changed their costumes, theme and songs but after their second performance, we were ready to see a different type of show, but they went on to perform on a couple more evenings. There was a magician entertainer one night, which was a good change. The adult comedy club was good. The kids club (Camp Carnival) was just decent, nothing special. The ladies who worked there were not the friendliest, they were on the verge of being rude in fact. The three kids in our group were so traumatized during our first visit to Camp Carnival (and we were only there to inquire) that the kids ran away together and I had to chase after them down many flights of stairs. After a couple of days, we reintroduced the kids to Camp Carnival and they gradually warmed up to it and even began enjoying it towards the end. All around at different areas of the ship, there were singing and dancing which made the surroundings festive. There were clubs and bars but no one in our group went to them so I can't comment about them. The swimming pools were rather small and crowded. The land excursions, if booked through Carnival, were very pricey. We learned on our previous Caribbean cruise that it's best to just find your own taxi and direct the driver to take you to places where you want to go. So, we did this and it worked out just fine.
FOOD: The food at the buffet, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner, was edible. That's all I have to say about that. The food at the dining room was better but not as good as I had on other cruises. Our waiter was very friendly and entertaining. Sodas are not free. Each drink cost a couple of bucks. We didn't try the special dining so I cannot comment about them.
OTHER AREAS OF THE SHIP: There are shopping stores and casino, which provided adequate entertainment. There were laundry rooms with washing machines and dryers which we appreciated. As what the other reviewers have written, the decor all around the ship was just odd. The basketball and volleyball courts did not have a separation, so they were crowded. We had to walk through these courts to get to the miniature golf area, which did not have a separate entrance (what were they thinking?!). My elderly mother was badly hurt and sustained a cut on her face when she was hit by a volleyball that someone had hit hard and did not keep inside the court.
OTHER PASSENGERS: Passengers were a good mix of all age groups and ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. There were some who were friendly and there were some who were rowdy and not so nice.
CRUISE STAFF: I wish I could say they were fantastic but overall they were not. Some were great and provided good customer service and some looked like they didn't want to be there and resented the passengers. The staff at the clinic, particularly the one from Canada, should not be nurses for one and certainly should not be working on a cruise, where people expect to be pampered. The nurses were curt and were not very helpful. My mother and I are nurses, too, so we know how nurses should behave with patients. We took our mother to the clinic because of her cut from getting hit by a volleyball.
PORTS OF CALL: We enjoyed St. Thomas, Antigua and Tortola but we didn't like Nassau. At these ports of call, we found our own taxis/vans, negotiated the fares, and the drivers took us to where we wanted to go, which was always the beach. We saw some sights on the way to the beach. The beach and the views in Tortola were the nicest. The beaches we went to in St. Thomas and Antigua were also good. In Antigua, there were shops and restaurants near the dock. The prices at these mediocre restaurants were ridiculously high, even for a sandwich. In Nassau, the cab driver drove us around town and to our surprise, made a stop at a souvenir shop. We didn't mind it at that time but afterwards we realized he probably had a deal with the shop owners. The beaches in Nassau were somewhat dirty and the water was colder compared to the beach waters in the other islands. This was because Nassau ocean waters are part of the Atlantic and not the Caribbean. The locals hanging around at the beach in Nassau were rude and a few were strange. The only nice area in Nassau was the Atlantis resort but you can't even really take advantage of what Atlantis has to offer unless you are checked in at the resort.
DISEMBARKATION: Not too bad if you just understand and accept that hoards of people are trying to get off the ship and many suitcases are sitting around waiting to be claimed. I rented a rental car from one of the nearby car rental companies. The rental car company came to pick us up at the dock. We were able to return the car to the airport with no extra charge.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise but Carnival Freedom is not one I would say offers the best cruising experience. I don't think I will sail with them again if I have other choices.