Carnival up to now has been our comfort zone, and pretty much they have met our needs and wants. The Carnival Freedom just did not measure up to our expectations and cruising experience we are accustom to. We embarked in Fort Lauderdale and found it to go quite smoothly taking about the normal length of time for having arrived at 12:30. I would say that total time was about 30 - 40 minutes form entering the terminal until we were on board. The ship is pretty dated, and I was told that it is going into dry dock next November for a total refurbish. It appears they have given up on exterior maintenance. There is noticeable rust sen from the Lido deck, especially around the big screen, the big screen also has problems as area pixelate and blur. The decking needs to be refinished badly and the water slide replaced.
The common areas of the internal ship are well kept for a ship that is 7 years old. The biggest disappointment on this ship was the level of service or lack of. In the Posh dining room our wait staff was was not interactive, not sure they ever know our names and basically just went through the motions. They were not timely in bringing or checking on anything. One night we stared at our empty plates for over 30 minutes before seeing a desert menu or offered coffee. The next night we had to leave, we order desert and coffee but would have been late for the show if we had waited any longer for it to show up. We were in the dining room at 8:15 sharp, there is no way we should still be waiting for desert at 10:00. We talked to the Mater D and got out dining switched to My time Dining in the Chic dining room. It only got worse in there, They could not even seem to bring the right meals to us in there. I ordered a Flat Iron, got a Prime Rib, Ordered Fruit Cocktail and Shrimp Cocktail only got 1 of the 2. It was not just me, they repeatedly got the orders around the table messed up. Here was the real kicker. My wife ordered Mahi Mahi, another in our party ordered salmon. She was served first, scraped all the topping on the fish off to the side ate one bite and realized it was not salmon. The waiter took it back and brought her salmon. The waiter served everyone at the table and served my wife last. Yes indeed it was the same dinner serve that had the topping scraped and bite missing. Totally unacceptable! we then experience the same problem in my time dining, way too much time between courses and way too long to be served coffee and desert. Believe me we are Carnival fans, this is far from what we are used to and have come to expect from Carnival. The food itself was fine we had no complaints about the offering nor the quality, just in the manner it was delivered. We prepay our gratuities and on every cruise we have been on we were so wowed by service that we tip the wait staff far beyond that. Not only did we not tip extra, for the first time ever on Carnival I went to guest services and rescinded half of our prepaid gratuities for the wait staff and our cabin steward.
Our cabin steward did not even seek us out to introduce herself. I have a need for a power card and had to go find her to obtain one. Again when seeing us in the hall on occasion she would just simply say hi or smile. There was never any conversation, or asking is we needed anything. The glass shelves in the bathroom had a layer of dust, and a layer of dust around the TV.
We do not like Coke and drink Pepsi so we bring it on board. we would pout it in our room into the glasses with ice as our refrigerator did not keep stuff very cold. We told her that we like to use a lot of ice and glasses yet never had enough and even after she would service our room we would not find them replace. Again we would have to find her or another steward and obtain our own glasses. Again we normally give our steward a tip far beyond the prepaid gratuity. Our cabin service was so far from what we are used to. We normally want to squeeze our steward in our suitcase and take them home. We were so glad to leave this one far behind. Very disappointing!
We are not picky people, but we are attracted to cruise because of the level service we have received in the past. This was our 10th cruise in 4 1/2 years.
We were on a 12 day cruise on the Breeze out of Barcelona on its second cruise out last summer, I'm told that when new ship are launched they put the best of the best on those ships. This cruise and the Breeze cruise were like night and day.
We found getting a cocktail in the show lounge difficult and very difficult on the lido deck. We found it just easier to just go to the bar and get it yourself. Isn't that what you pay the automatic tacked on gratuity for? To be served?
When on the Breeze we met a group of people and many of us all booked this cruise together, that and the fact that it was a New years Eve cruise really made this cruise, no matter how awful we found the service.
There were bright spots on the cruise, the cruise director Brad, was a lot of fun, easy to understand and seen at many events and around the ship. He is really a class guy and I hope to have him on a cruise in the future.
The New years Eve celebration was handled very good on the Lido deck and in the Atrium. Hamburgers were good, we are from the Chicago area, so ship pizza has never measured up. I cannot speak to the buffet as we only use it the first day coming on the ship, most other meals are in the dining room.
The military meet and greet was disappointing, on the Breeze it was announced over the speaker, held in the Atrium and was attended by one of the assistant cruise directors and well attended. On this ship it was just posted in the Fun Times, 4 people showed up and there was no one from the ship there. Again a totally different experience from other ships.
We are big believers in St Jude, and I think the Freedom, while doing an OK job promoting it, could stand to improve some. They seemed to put more focus on the deck party than getting people to buy shirts that are actually a donation to one of the finest causes going.
In closing I will just say out of 8 Carnival cruises I would rank the Freedom as dead last. I say that with deep regret and hope that we do not encounter anything similar on the 2 cruises we already have booked,Paradise in Feb, Magic in March. I must also add we are Carnival stockholders, so we really hope that it was just us that saw this cruise poorly. I do know that those in our group from the Breeze all saw it the same as I did.