Aspects of it were great, there were some problems although overall, the ship (Freedom) was good. We arrived at Civitavecchia on the day of sailing, and used a bus pre-arranged by the agency to get to the ship, no problems there. 1)Signage and ease of travelling around the ship: Not good, the "dissolving liquid crystal" displays that served as signs were unreadable until you got up to them. There were also "dead ends" on this ship, and many people said they were confused about where things were even after a week. 2)Decor: Mostly tacky and cheap-looking, for example the light fixtures in the cafeteria will need replacing in a couple of years. 3)Housekeeping: Ship ventilation, lighting, and cleanliness, and the decor in the theater were very good. 4)Food quality,dining room: Overall, food was good, but main courses sounded promising but execution was not; I sent some things back, especially steaks and filet mignon! (The waiter knew they were lousy, and offered to take them back when he saw we weren't finishing them. They served "American" food when we would have preferred something at least somewhat like the local cuisine, such as our other cruises with Cunard, Celebrity, and Viking did.) Desserts were better.
5)Food quality, Buffet (Freedom Restaurant): Excellent, the only problem was that some things sold out! emand was such that the staff here seemed overwhelmed. 6)Staff: Overall great, especially dining room. 7)Tours: Most guides were not the highest level (though the prices were high!), except for one (she was not only very knowledgeable, but had enthusiasm for the subject. She in a sense made ruins seem better than they were.) Note: Some tours did not include things that were important to some participants, who told the guides so. In particular, our guide in Istanbul argued with us, talking some into staying on instead of dropping them off. There also was a disconnect between guide and driver, with the ship having to wait for us for at least an hour (in Istanbul.) Theoretically, we could have spent an hour doing something more interesting than waiting on the corner for a bus.These problems were noted in our tour reviews and were reported to the Purser.
8) Tour Director: John Heald, a real ham, did "impromptu" stuff with planted audience members, such as the Chinese guy who gives his name to make it sound like a curse although we found out later that his English is fluent, and the 50-year-old black guy who acts like a love-starved doofus. These acts are repeated on all the Carnival ships, as revealed in a blog here. And Mr. Heald gives incorrect information, such as Metro lines and shuttle buses in Athens that do not exist. Much time was wasted trying to find them. 9) Entertainment: Talent was very good to excellent. specially Penny Matheson, an opera and West End singer. 10)Last but not least: Dis-and Em-barkation: Lousy. Although we registered online, and had "Fun-Passes" printed, the check-in staff refused to honor them and forced us to fill out new forms. Also, we were lied to when trying to get onto the shuttle buses. People became separated and were told that whatever bus they were near was the only one (according to a color and number scheme depending on flights to be taken), when their loved ones were about to embark on other buses! Admittedly, these problems were either caused by Carnival using local Italian port workers rather than "Carnival" employees (embarkation), and allowing own workers to go untrained and overwhelmed (disembarkation.)
In short, we expected more than we got, and are unlikely to go Carnival again.