This was our 8th cruise and 1st one in Europe. We stayed at the Rome Airport Hilton before and after the cruise for our convenience. A new Airport Hilton Garden Inn has just opened, also has the free downtown Rome shuttle and rooms are less expensive.
Carnival Freedom is new, but the crew seemed to be some of Carnival's best. We pre-booked some private tours as well as some provided by Carnival. In the future we will stick with Carnival's official tours. While our private tours went off perfectly, the money we thought we would save was spent on expensive meals selected by our tour guide and the food was not as nice as dinners we had on Carnival's tours. Carnival was also very accommodating when one of our carnival tours was cancelled. This occurred when the local bus drivers went on strike in France. Carnival bought us train tickets, sent the tour guide with us to Monaco gave us a complete refund for the price of the tour. Of all of the Carnival tours "Traditional Konavle & Wine Tasting" was our favorite as it really gave us a chance to see the countryside, enjoy an excellent meal, sample the wines, and see how the locals lived.
We toured all of the Italian ports it seemed plus Croatia, France and Spain. Many cruisers added the extra 12 days before or after our cruise to also enjoy the 2nd destinations this ship makes with ports of calls including Rhodes, Izmir, Istanbul, Athens and Katakolon; one air fair and 24 days of fabulous cruising.
Our stateroom steward came by and introduced herself the first night and remembered our names from then on. She seemed to appear in the hallway just to say hello and the room was always perfectly clean.
On board activities where plentiful, but we missed our "stick horse races". Cruise director John and wife Heidi are very dynamic and kept the cruisers very entertained while on board ship. He was also very candid and helpful for 1st time travelers on foreign soil with words of caution where necessary. His ability to work the crowd may make him one of the best CD's in the business. If you do not want to be "found" sit in the Balcony. He searches all the way to the back of the room to bring folks up on stage. All of the shows, but the first night comedian, were very entertaining. The ship's talent, lighting and costumes where Great!
Food and service in the formal dining rooms were 1st class. We enjoy the interaction and fellowship with our two waiters. Seconds were readily available and our bar waiter had cold cokes at out table every evening after we showed him out “soda cards” the first night. When we did not finish a bottle of wine they corked it and had it on the table the next evening. To keep from only gaining six pounds on this cruise we skipped all of the late night buffets, afternoon teas and only visited the pizza bar a few times. The lunch buffets had two different selections so we had to check both the front and back dining rooms before ordering. The quick Steak sandwich at the "burger bar" was excellent too.
We used a private shuttle to and from the port and found it excellent. Disembarkation was quick and painless, but make sure one has prearranged transportation back and forth. When one disembarks there is nothing in sight at the port in Civitavecchia (Rome), including a cab.
We have come to expect Carnival Fun ships to be some of the most entertaining ships at sea with 1st class service, ports of call and accommodations. We have two future cruises already booked.