This was the 5th Carnival cruise for my wife and I along with our two boys (ages 11 and 10). Overall the cruise was great however this was somewhat offset by a terrible experience in the dining room.
Embarkation was smooth. First time out of Port Everglades but we are Gold and were booked in a suite. We arrived early and then waited in their side waiting area for suite guests and higher status guests. We boarded around 11:30, ate in the Lido and then explored the ship like we always do.
Our cabin was ready at 1:30 and it was great. We saw our luggage sitting on carts by the elevators and waited an hour for them to deliver it. When they didn't, I simply walked over and took them myself back to the room to unpack.
Our room steward was amazing (cannot remember his name but he was from India). We had purchased a book the day prior to debark and they never delivered it. We mentioned this to him and he went and got the book for us and made sure we did not get charged - amazing service from him all week.
The bar staff was very good throughout the ship, especially at the casino bar. Casino staff were also amazing.
The dining room was a whole other story. Just to set the stage here, on our 4 prior Carnival cruises we raved about the dining rooms so I hope you will recognize that a complaint coming from us is an indication that it really was AWFUL.
The first night, service there was very slow and not good. The food was average at best - well below the standards of what I have come to expect from Carnival in their dining rooms. The second night, formal night, was out last straw. After arriving just prior to 6 for our assigned dining time, we sat at our tables for close to 10 minutes before we even got menus. Another 10 minutes later we had ordered. It was 30 minutes from then before I finally asked why we hadn't even gotten our appetizers yet. We could see guests from our table who arrived after us and were already eating their main courses. The staff apologized and then promptly delivered appetizers but two of them were not the ones we ordered. When I told them it was wrong, they took them away but never delivered the right ones! Main course finally arrived after over an hour and the food was terrible. My lamb was well done (I could see nice pink lamb on other tables) and my son's steak was raw. We couldn't even eat it. They offered to try again but I didn't want to wait another 30 minutes so we left.
We complained to guest services the next day and asked to be moved to Any Time so we could get new staff. They said they couldn't help us and we would have to talk to the dining manager. We tried but apparently he was too busy to meet with us. One of the staff said they would drop a note at our room to let us know if we could be moved to any time but no note ever arrived. We didn't go back to the dining room the rest of the trip.
In talking with other guests in the carino, without exception, every one of them was disappointed with the dining room so there is clearly something wrong with that on this ship. I would definitely sail Carnival again but I will NEVER sail on the Freedom again.
PORTS of CALL:
St. Thomas - we went to Coral World and Coki Beach, booked away from Carnival. Very nice beach and Coral World was actually very nice despite being very small. Food service on the beach was not very good and very expensive but there was a very reasonable cafe outside Coral World with good food, reasonable prices and nice service.
Antigua - West to Dickinson Beach via taxi. Great beach, lots of services, would definitely go back.
Tortola - Booked a sailaway and snorkle to treasure island through Carnival. Fantastic excursion and would definitely recommend it to others.
Nassau - west to the British Colonial Hilton, booked away from Carnival. Nice hotel with good food and drink. The hotel is very nice and the guest area is great for just laying around. We have been before and will go again.
Debark - We got zone 1 and were off the boat at 8:15 and in the car at 8:30. Use a porter when you get your bags, it is worth the $20 just to get in a short line and have the bags delivered for you.