Let me start by setting the stage: My husband and I are in our late twenties, from Boston and have been on almost every cruise line: Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Holland America and now Carnival. Last week's Carnival Freedom cruise was, by far, the worst cruise either of us have every been on. When cruising, you expect to receive 5-star treatment for a fraction of the cost. The only 5-star amenity on this ship was the stops it made during its 8-day voyage. Below you will find my review for several categories:
Cabin - The Carnival Cabins were definitely larger than other ships. They were clean and for the most part kept up. We had cabin 8363, directly below the Lido deck. Excellent location.
Serenity (Adult Only Sunning Area) - This area was quiet, non-smoking and very tame. You need to get up and save yourself a seat by 9:00AM for an "at sea" day. Note: Carnival only allows you to hold seats for 40 minutes before picking up your towels and belongings. We saw this happen several times and it even happened to us once. I find this rule to be fair.
Shows - The shows were some of the best I had seen. The costumes and talent were wonderful!
Service - The service compared to the other ships we have been on is terrible. The waiters are inattentive, have no interest in speaking with you and barely speak English at a level that you can comfortably understand. Although they are terrible in the dining rooms, they will certainly hound you for bar service all day by the pools!
Food - DO NOT EAT ANY SEAFOOD. The menus, again compared to other ships, were juvenile, unimpressive and not-so delicious. As I mentioned above, you expect 5-star treatment and the food was way below average. The Lido deck buffets are poorly designed, overly crowded and have poor selections. The Mongolian Wok station was the best thing on the boat, but took 45 minutes waiting in line to get your food. I was also surprised that we (the passengers) were not served at the Lido buffet for the first two days, like so many other ships do. The reason they do this is to prevent any sort of outbreak of illness. The ship appeared to be clean, but with Norovirus spreading around I would have liked to be served to keep the dirty hands of other passengers out of the food we were eating.
Comedy Club - Although the comedy was funny, they only did the shows in the "Punchliners Club" a small area for such a big attraction. Be prepared to get to the club 20+ minutes before the show to get a seat. It is crowded and if you don't get there early you will not get a seat!
Smoking - There seemed to be a lot of smokers on the ship and what irked me the most is that people were allowed to smoke near the Lido Deck buffets!
Spa - I had the worst massage EVER! When I complained they told me that my only option was to get another massage, rather than my money back. I am battling with Carnival now to get a refund after reviewing their "satisfaction guarantee" rules. The spa prices are inflated and the daily deals are nothing special. They do have a $99 special for a 50-minute massage. So wait for that deal if you go!
Gym - The gym has outdated equipment, the TVs on the cardio machines barely worked and it was SO hot in the gym. I complained and they did nothing about it.
Sports/Piano/Cigar bar - We were traveling during the Olympics and they never had the events on in the sports bar. The Piano bar was a sad site, which we were disappointed in. The cigar bar was a false advertisement. There were no cigars in the Habana Bar, just sad Karaoke.
Lido Deck - They only played 4 movies during the cruise and most were when we were in port and mid-day. The screens were not utilized at all. The amount of people smoking was terrible and the activities during the day were boring, forced and tacky.
Overall review: You get what you pay for. I do not recommend this ship, at all!