Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by Lukes Grandmother: Pleasantly Surprised!
Overall Member Rating
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We sailed on the Carnival Freedom Oct. 19-27 immediately after a seven-day cruise on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. After a fantastic week on the Oasis, we were a bit leery of what we might find on a Carnival ship, but the dates, port, and interesting ports of call coincided perfectly with our first cruise. We literally walked off the RC ship and onto the Freedom as they were docked next to each other. We were delighted to learn that there would be self-service laundromats on the Freedom so that we could wash our clothes from the first cruise.
After our initial shock at the bizarre and gaudy decor of the Freedom, we settled in and began to enjoy immensely our 8-day cruise. Our cabin was a bit larger than the RCI cabin and the bathroom was more spacious. We were in balcony cabin 8417 which was toward the rear of the ship near the elevator and stairs and just one flight of stairs up to the buffet on the 9th deck.
The entertainment all week long was outstanding More with elaborate production numbers, a Motown singer, a very enjoyable comedian/juggler, two shows that featured fellow passengers singing, a great four-piece band that played in three different venues, and a married couple who sang together. We enjoyed the comedians in the comedy club for the family-friendly shows. The only entertainer we were disappointed with was the guy in the piano bar. We left when he started using four-letter words and singing some embarrassing and totally uncalled for gross stuff.
The food was good all week with the exception of the first night in the Chic Dining Room. My entree was inedible and the replacement entree was just as bad. But, after that everything was great and we enjoyed the food, service, and interesting dining companions we ate with.
The ports of call were so interesting: Grand Turk, La Romana in the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba. We did an excursion bought on the ship at every port and we weren't disappointed with any of them. We were blessed with calm seas and great weather everywhere except for a little rain in the Dominican Republic.
Getting around the ship was a bit frustrating until we figured out that it was best to walk as far forward as we needed to along the hallway that our cabin was on and then use the elevator or stairs to get to the deck we wanted. There is no straight shot to go from one end of the ship to the other along the common areas or entertainment decks. Sometimes we ended up walking through the dining rooms. Once we waited to enter the dining room from the wrong entrance and when we found out we had to go a long way around to get to the main entrance and by that time the line was long to get in.
Debarkation was the easiest we've ever experienced. We had a flight at 11:15 a.m. so we walked off the ship with our luggage about 6:45 a.m. after having breakfast at the buffet. There was absolutely no waiting and we were quickly on our way by taxi to the airport. The taxi fare was $12.50 for the two of us compared to a shuttle price I saw of $11/person. The Ft. Lauderdale airport is very nice and we enjoyed the free wi-fi and places to charge our laptop and phones.
Prior to our first cruise on RC we had flown in the night before and we stayed at the Rodeway Inn & Suites Airport Cruise Port. The price was reasonable, they provided free transportation from the airport to the hotel and free transportation to the cruise port. The restaurant on site was fine for our evening meal and the little shop had everything we needed. The shuttle driver was available to take people to a grocery store if we had wanted him to. The hotel is older but it was clean and comfortable and served our purposes just fine. Less
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The cabin was quite comfortable and the balcony was a good size. It had a door adjoining the cabin next door, but we rarely ever heard any noise. The location was perfect for access to the buffet and pools on the Lido deck just one flight of stairs up. We didn't experience much motion from the ocean as the seas were fairly calm the whole week. The movement we did feel was more of a vibration that a rocking back and forth. There was ample storage space.
Port and Shore Excursions
Sailaway Snorkel & Beach Cruise--very enjoyable with amazing snorkeling just offshore from the catamaran plus at a second location a bit further from shore where we viewed the sunken WWII German freighter, the Antilla. The crew was knowledgeable, professional, and fun. It included an open bar and all snorkel equipment. After the snorkeling we docked at Pelican Pier for a delicious barbecue meal that featured thick juicy ribs, chicken, beans, macaroni salad, roll, and fruit salad & open bar. We had some time to spend at the beach before being transported by bus back to the ship.
Coastal & Country Drive--A tour in a nice air-conditioned bus with a knowledgeable tour guide who told us a lot of interesting things about the island. We drove through the downtown area on the way out and it was interesting to see the colorful houses and shops. We stopped at one of their national parks, Boka Tabla, which featured wild rock formations and beautiful views on the north coast. Next we stopped at a beautiful beach and took photos. Would have loved to spend some time at that beach! We next went to a restored plantation house called the Tula Museum, which was interesting. In the description it said we'd stop at Playa Forti, but I don't believe we did that after seeing some pictures of it on the internet.
Bayahibe Beach Break--It rained a bit during the day and it would have been more enjoyable if it had been clear and sunny. But the resort was a pleasant place to spend the day with a nice beach and a nice pool. Open bar was included.
Catamaran Sailaway, Beach & Snorkel--Very enjoyable time on a catamaran with great snorkeling and very strong rum punch! After snorkeling we spent some time at a marvelous white sand beach with the clearest, most beautiful aqua-colored water. It was like being a swimming pool. Loved it!
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