Let me start by saying that I am not a first time cruiser, or the complainer who goes on vacation nick picking everything he can for the sake of fulfilling some unknown emotional state in my life. I am not 'that guy', unfortunately on this particular cruise I was. What I am is a 38 year old family man who has been cruising on and off for the last 16 years. During these years there has been allot of food tasting, and services rendered, enough to form a bit of a standard when it comes to vacationing. So much so that when things are off, and I mean way off, I feel compelled to post a review on a forum suggested to me by my wife. The same forum she used before she booked the trip. So If I can drill one thing down is this'.my review is not in any way biased or unfair. This is a true account of the mess that is the Freedom of the Seas. As I mentioned beforehand, I have enough cruising experience to simply waive off the one or two things that usually happen on any vacation. It's when the overall experience is terrible that something needs to be said.
Ship condition and cleanliness:
Dirty, Dirty, Dirty. Let's start off with my stateroom. The sheets and my pillow stank. Like body oil stank. It was pretty rank. Even when they changed the sheets it still smelled the same way. Not enough detergent perhaps? The toilet bowl had a black ring around the neck of the bowl that looked almost like it was just old. Oddly enough the ring disappeared a few days into my cruise. Not sure if it left that way on purpose due to an oversight. The bathroom was equipped with one bar of soap, that's all. I found myself begging the cabin steward to keep a steady supply of soap coming. The mini bar was not stocked up correctly, there were tons of beers and liquor but only two sodas and no bottled water. For some reason they locked the minibar a full day before we disembarked. The TV was old and small, and the interactive menu that allows you to view your folio, or play movies never worked. On the day we would disembark, I found a pair of old tennis shoes under the bed. I guess they dont look under the beds much.
Overall the ship was also dirty. While the carpeting was new in most of the areas, most of the couches I sat on were dirty. Many parts of the ship just looked run down, missing paint, broken doors, etc. In the dining room on more than one occasion I found my silverware to be dirty. And I don't mean soapy water residue dirty, I mean a piece of food stuck on the silverware dirty. Yes, that dirty.
Food and Drink Quality:
One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is eat. And I love to eat. While I recognize some things taste better than others I have to say the overall food quality on this ship is very poor. And let me point out I was traveling with a total of 10 people who all formed the same opinion. Basic food like Pizza was horrendous. Cheese, if you could find any was of very poor quality, very greasy. The food by the pool (Cheeseburgers, deli, etc) was good, but the lack of variety was an issue. Lido deck buffets were terrible. The food taste was horrendous, I felt like I was eating at an old cheap dollar buffet. Even if you did manage to eat the food, the cramps and pains you would experience afterwards were downright intense. Dining room eating was more miss than hit. Some of the items were downright disgusting. The bread was old and hard. I think they would save the unused bread for the next day. Most of the steaks were chewy and full of tendons. The chicken was mostly tasteless and the rice on several of my plates tasted like cardboard. Like I said the culinary selection was uninspiring. While they did offer a daily 'Didja ever' sampling of non-traditional food items like frog legs, alligator bites, etc., most of these portions were so tiny and of poor quality it wasn't even worth ordering. On the positive side the Brunch menu and Brunch food items were very good. Also the food from the room service was good, the chicken fajita and PBJ sandwiches were very good. (I know, I am rambling about Peanut Butter and Jelly, but that should tell you how bad everything else was.) The drinks were small, full of ice, and and barely had any liquor. At 7-8 dollars a drink it can get very expensive, and if you want a double it will cost you double.
Most of the staff was very friendly, however they did not seem to go the extra mile that I have always experienced. Proof of this was one evening when I was lost looking for the web portal room. That ship is very confusing to navigate and further complicating the issue was the fact that they had cut off the main access to the room because of a private event in the adjacent room. Every time I would ask a crew member to help me out they would simply point the way and then walk off. It took a while but I managed to ask a senior officer who finally walked me to the hidden entrance. When I finally got there, the room was empty. I wonder how many people simply gave up.
Our head waiter had a vendetta against my table of 10. For the first time in my cruising experience I was made to wait 30-40 minutes with and sometimes without a menu, water, or bread by this man. All because we would walk in 20-30 minutes after the 8:15pm time.(Keep in mind this was a 'my time' dining room) Not only would he punish us, he would tell us the kitchen was closing, that we had to wait because we were late, and that we needed to be there on time. This went on for a few days until I had enough and complained to Ma'tredi about this man and his actions. Thankfully, his behavior improved and this was no longer an issue.
Other than overcharging us by mistake for one of our many visits the overall SPA experience by the staff was good.
The kids loved the camp and the activities. The staff seemed very patient and friendly. No issues or complaints here.
The entertainment on the ship was pretty consistent. The shows were of good not great quality. The comedians were good, and the activities on the ship were also good.
Ports of call:
Good ports overall. We visited St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and the Bahamas. Also the times allotted to each were very good.
You would be hard pressed to have a really good time on this ship. It seems to me that Carnival is cutting corners and you will be paying the price for that. Long lines, long waits, less staff and quality of food than their competitors is why they are cheaper. And get this, this is the first cruise I have been on ever that does not hand out a comment card. Not one of my family/friends got one. They don't care about your comments, and it shows.
We took a Taxi from the Pier and had a tour of the island. The driver was knowlegable of the Island and its history, we finished the tour with some beach time and shopping by the pier. The beach had small shade (fixed wood) umbrellas that you could use if you rented a chair. They had a bar with food service available next door. Beach was nice, and you could do water sports if you wanted. Back at the shops by the pier we ate at Hemingways, the food and ambiance are awesome.
We took our own taxi's to the ferry and then crossed over to St. Johns. From there we headed to Trunk Bay. This is where Heaven on earth must be. The sand is white as snow and soft. The water is a light blue that looks like a pool. Im telling you this is the most beautiful beach I have ever set foot on. You can snorkel on an small adjacent island, they have food and drinks.
We took a taxi from the pier and took a tour of the island. We visited Sugar Cane beach and then finished with some shopping by the pier. The beach had lots of shade and dining/drink options with reasonable prices.