My husband and I just returned from our long awaited 8 day cruise on Carnival Freedom. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, but it is evident that Carnival is cutting corners at the expense of it's passengers. First off let me say our room stewards and dining room staff were outstanding, and there are no complaints. As for activities, we didn't attend any of the onboard shows or activities because we prefer to be alone and spend all of our time on board together. With that being said, we overheard other passengers talking about how disappointed they were in the shows and activities on board the ship, so we were certain we wasn't missing out on anything anyway. Several areas of the ship were closed throughout the cruise for continued renovation. This includes portions of the Serenity Deck! This made it difficult to find lounge chairs on sea days. Also, the pool slide was closed for 2 of the 3 sea days and it appeared to have people working on it, perhaps painting it or resurfacing it...who knows...Carnival was not up front about the closing, renovations, and cut-backs on this particular ship.
Our ports were GREAT! St. Maarten has and always will be my favorite port. Great shopping, beautiful beaches, and the water is beautiful and very enjoyable to swim in as far as temperature and wave action. St. Thomas is not a favorite port, but we did enjoy riding the tram car up to Paradise Point and the view was breathtaking. We chose to get our tickets through Carnival, and it was about $5.00 cheaper a ticket. San Juan Puerto Rico was impressive, and left us wanting more. We took the FREE trolley through Old San Juan and toured both forts. Wanted to go to the beach, but no time because the ship left at 4:00. Keep in mind, the OPEN trolleys are FREE!! I realize that tourism is how most of the citizens make their living, but there were many of the passengers on our ship that come back shaking their head because they spent $20.00+ for a trip to the beach or the forts (which you can walk to). The next port was Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Carnival's Private Island. It's a beautiful island, and Carnival provides an island cookout for lunch. It was ok, but nothing I care to ever eat again. Enjoyed the island overall. Started out lounging in front of Captain Morgans, but it soon began to rain and everyone took refuge in the small bar...too many drunks and partiers, so we decided to go outside for fresh air and brave the rain. Took a long walk on the natures trails which runs almost the entire length of the island. The trail ended on the far end of the island, near the horse stables, and the beach on that end was almost deserted. We put our towels down and ran into the beautiful Caribbean blue water. It soon began to rain, so we danced waste deep in the Caribbean Sea to the music blaring from Captain Morgans. The tender to and from the ship was quick and efficient.
Our cabin was 8347 on Veranda Deck. It was clean and well kept. Had some trouble with the mattress after the first night. While sleeping the mattress springs could be felt and left our backs aching the next morning. I called our cabin steward, and he placed either a goose-down duvet or a goose down mattress pad on it. It helped, but the beds on this ship just wasn't as good as the bed on the newer ships, like Dream. Here is my sore spot about this cruise, THE FOOD! The food in the Lido Buffet on this ship was not good at all. There is very little variety, most or all of it is cold, either too spicy or no taste at all. I'm beginning to wonder if Carnival is trying to steer people away from the Lido Buffet and toward the specialty restaurants and bars. Either way, the pizza is exceptional, Guys Burgers was very good, The comfort food bar was very good, when it was open, and the ice cream machines worked themselves to death. This ship has Fish N Chips upstairs. The oysters were good, but that is all I ordered from there. As I said earlier, we tend to stay to ourselves and just enjoy being together, so we didn't eat any meals in the dining room, but we did order room service. It was quick, efficient, and the food quality was very good. Disembarkation was very smooth and non eventful. We got up about 5:30, sat on the balcony and watched the ship pull into port in Ft. Lauderdale. After the ship docked about 6:15 am, we both took showers, dressed and went up the stairs to eat breakfast before leaving the ship. After breakfast we went back to our room, finished packing and made one last sweep of the cabin and balcony to ensure we didn't leave anything behind, and left our room about 8:30 or so. We chose to do self assist so we kept our bag in the room with us and took it off the ship with us. No problems going through customs, and we were on our way to Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Overall, we loved the ports and the time we were allowed to spend together, but we were very disappointed with the cutbacks Carnival appears to be testing the waters with. This cruise made us Gold Members, so we are not first time cruisers, and I know our experience on this particular ship is not typical of the vacation Carnival has provided us with for the past several years. Not sure what Carnival is up to, but they definitely need to reconsider to avoid loosing avid cruisers that have been loyal to Carnival for years.