This cruise was my annual mother/daughter cruise with my 25 year old daughter. We choose the Freedom because of the itinerary. We live in Central Florida and went down to Ft. Lauderdale the day prior to the cruise. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn and with the room, we were able to leave our car at the hotel and received free transportation to and from the port. I was very glad they offered this because as usual the parking at this port was a nightmare.
We did check in rather fast as we are VIP members. Our room was a suite on the seventh floor and quite comfortable and our room steward was great. Being I am Diamond, the housekeeping staff went above and beyond and the supervisors stopped by several times to make sure our room was in good order. Being Diamond, the hotel staff, bartenders, casino, wait staff treated me excellent. However, the purser's desk was another story. They were among the rudest bunch of people I have ever encountered on the high seas. However, I did notice that they bent over backwards to accommodate first and second time cruisers. Odd as they did not extend the same courtesy to myself as a Diamond member or Platinum members.
The fellow passengers were the rudest and lowest of the low I have ever cruised with. Manners did no exist in the least. Buffet line was a nightmare and included people putting their hands in food and touching. Dress code was whatever you wanted in the Lido Buffet including bathing suits, bare feet and men with no tops on.I was appalled at the outfits in the dining room. Worst yet, was going to the steakhouse and being subjected to people dressed in jeans, flip flops, visors. This is supposed to be a five star experience. NOT. Add to it, the people who had a screaming infant and another couple with an out of control toddler who actually sat on the bar. Sadly, the staff was catering to this crowd. Other passengers left and complained to the purser. One couple who was only gold did get a meeting with the Hotel Director and reimbursed. I, however, was not given the courtesy of either a meeting with the head of Guest Relations or the Purser. Evidently they were in an emergency meeting for 72 hours but oddly, the Director had time to meet with a Gold couple. Interesting?I was told by one purser too bad, it was for free. This was my ONLY comp as a Diamond member, a one time free dinner at the steakhouse. I told the rude woman NO, it was not free. I cruised 33 times with Carnival so I earned one lousy dinner and it should have been nice. Only due to the persistence of a wonderful maitre'd, Chubby, did I get another steak dinner. This man was an original Carnival man from years gone by where service was great. He could not believe that no one cared in Guest Relations.
I might add the back pool which was adult only , the cover to the pool was constantly closed and therefore, it was extremely hot back there. As a cancer survivor, I cannot tolerate heat and went downstairs to Guest Relations. Once again, I encountered a RUDE purser who told me well go to the main pool. I explained to her that was not satisfactory as I did not feel like being exposed to screaming out of control children in diapers. There was no supervision. We found out that the men in charge of opening the lid were off the boat.
I think security was afraid of the guests as they seemed to have no control. To mention a few of the episodes that we encountered were guests actually urinating on the doors of cabins, woman being groped in the casino, you could not walk down the strip outside of the casino unless you wanted to be greeted by vulgar comments and there was a man in the main pool doing something extremely sexual and disturbing. When a woman screamed the staff laughed and it took security over a half hour to respond. At this point, this disgusting man was gone. Security never even reported this to the Hotel Director. On the last sea day, those of us that were confined to the back pool and repeat cruisers had a meeting with the Hotel Director to explain our disappointment and disgust as to this cruise. He seemed surprised. His response was there were a large number of cruisers as this was the last week before school started. That is nonsense as I have cruised this week before and never ever have I encountered such rude and disgusting people in my life or guest services who did not want to handle anything to make any one happier.
As far as being Diamond, there are NO perks to stay loyal to Carnival. Big deal,you get on the ship first and as far as disembarkation, you are NOT the first ones off unless you lug your own luggage off the ship. If you do not carry your own luggage, you have to stand in the lobby. Unlike other lines, they do not even have a special room to wait in and offer you danish and coffee. Big deal you can have your laundry washed every day as opposed to Platinum which is twice a week. You get a once in a lifetime free steak dinner. You also get ONE cocktail for the whole cruise but you can only that that one drink at either breakfast or lunch. Really??? After this experience, I will be going back to Royal Caribbean where this unruly behavior is not tolerated and you truly are treated like Diamond as they have some very nice perks including a Concierge Club.
I am sad that Carnival is cutting so many costs as it was obvious the food has taken a downward turn and concentrating on catering to people who probably will never cruise again unless there is a great deal. You would think they would want to take care of the guests who have been loyal to them. As I stated earlier, this was my 63rd cruise and by far the worst cruise I have ever been on. The first time I was actually happy to get off a ship and come home.