Nice Cruise, Terrible Buffet Lines: Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by kauai2
Overall Member Rating
Nice Cruise, Terrible Buffet Lines
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
Lots of activities ( it IS a Carnival ship), but not much well-lit interior public quiet space for reading. Most of the interior public seating was near the smokey casino. The dance bands were very good. I haven't danced that much for quite some time. The "Ticket to Ride" Beatles tribute show was excellent. Very professional staging and dancing. The Victoriana Showroom is huge and has little tables to hold your refreshments.
I could not use the swimming pools because I have an arthritic knee and cannot use those straight up/down ladders so prevalent in ship pools, I wish they would put in some stair steps into at More least one pool for those of us with mobility issues. It was very warm and humid, so I really would have enjoyed a dip in a pool. From now on, pool stairs are a must for me on any ship.
We did not use any ship excursions. On Grand Turk, we just walked ashore. There is a beautiful beach just by the pier. Margaritaville bar is also there-it was very popular. At San Juan, we walked across the street, turned left for one block, and picked up the free trolley next to the bus station. There are three lines: We used the green line for El Morro Fortress (it was closed due to the Government shutdown, as were all the US parks on the US islands), but you could still visit the general area. It also goes through the shopping area of Old SJ. On St. Maarten, we walked 2 blocks inland from the tourist boardwalk and flagged down a public minibus that took us to the French side (Marigot) for $2 @. It takes the same route as the excursion buses, so you see the same view. Another $2 @ brought us back from Marigot to our point of origin. We sat behind the driver, and he was very informative and answered all of our tour-type questions. A great option if you like to ride with the locals, as we do. On St. Thomas, we took a V.I.Taxi to Coki Beach. When we found how commercialized it had become since our last visit, the driver offered to let us continue on with others who had booked an island tour with him. Since the taxi fare to Coki was $9 @ (and another $9 @ back to the ship-$36 total), his price of $25 @ ($50 total) for the tour sounded good to us, so we went. It was quite nice, and we were in an open-air jitney that was very comfortable and terrific for taking pictures.
The food was just okay. The service in the dining room was spotty, and the waiters complained of being too busy. The lines in the buffet were horrendous because there were no stations, only 2 lines (1 from each side) leading to each central carving station (there were 2-3 carving stations). If you wanted something from the middle of the line, you had to wait in the very slow lines or barge in like many of the rather rude passengers did with some regularity. Other cruise lines have waiters with carts for drinks, pastries, etc. in the buffet. I saw only one cart the entire cruise, and had to ask a busboy to find someone to bring it over to me. It was an absolute zoo. It could take you up to 45 minutes to get your meal, so we did not eat there very much. The breakfast service in the Posh dining room was also very slow. I guess most of the cruise lines don't really enforce their dining room dress codes very much, but this was ridiculous! Men in shorts, flipflops, baseball caps, and tank tops (yuck); women in VERY short shorts and flipflops - I really don't like seeing so many tattooes when i'm supposed to be in a formal dining room. On the good side, the tables in the all the dining establishments were not crowded together at all - there was plenty of room to pull your chairs in/out without disturbing your neighbor.
We thought the ship was very beautiful, if a little difficult to get around in. On deck 4, you had to go through the closed Chic dining room to transit from stern to bow. Also not very many outside windows on the ship except for the Posh dining room. They did not seem to serve Afternoon Tea very often, according to the daily Fun Times paper. One day as I was transiting the Chic dining room I saw a sign saying that Tea would be in Posh at 3pm - this did not appear in the Fun Times for that day, so I have no idea how many times it was actually offered.
Disembarkation was not too bad. I did not hear an announcement about how soon we had to vacate our cabin, so we just left when we were ready for breakfast in the Posh dining room.There were plenty of places to wait other than the Lobby, which they requested be kept clear since it was the exit point of the ship. We opted for the Habana Club and the comfy seats in there. On shore, the porters were few and far between, since the lines were so long through customs, they were tied up for about 45 minutes with each customer. The ship did adequate debark control to try and reduce the long lines at customs. It probably would have been really ugly if they had not done so.
We enjoyed our cruise and felt that we got a good value for the price. However, we do notice the differences between Carnival and other lines that we cruise with, and would have to get a really great deal to try them again. Less
We found our cabin to be in good order. It was very spacious with tons of storage and a nice sized bathroom. Comfortable bed - we slept well every night. Even though we were below the showroom, it was a very quiet location. The sofa was hard and the extra chair really was in the way all the time - we both tripped several times. Great towel animals. It was my Birthday, and my husband surprised me by having the cabin decorated with Carnival's Birthday items. It was quite lovely. It is the first cruise cabin I have been in that had a piece of artwork over the toilet. The steward (Sean) kept the bathroom well-stocked with everything - much better than our steward on our first -and last- HAL cruise last year.
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