I sailed out on May 25, 2007 on the Carnival Freedom and was not impressed with it. I had been on the Carnival Conquest back in May 2005 and had a much better experience. I have also sailed on Royal Caribbean and this was my 4th cruise.
The meal selection on the Carnival Freedom lacks variety. The Grand Buffet was not very grand at all. I had a better Grand Buffet on the Carnival Conquest and that was a 7 day cruise in the Caribbean. They didn't do any carvings from fruit and the spread was mostly dessert items. The buffets in general didn't have much to offer and the main seating dinner seemed like we were being offered the same things over and over. Most of the time there would be only one thing on the menu that I would like and then there was only one night that I would have wished I could eat everything on the menu. It's too bad that they could spread some of those items on that one night over the course of the cruise. If you want a good meal you can definitely get it from the deli because the sandwiches were the only good thing on that cruise for food.
It just seems like the staff lacks organization. My group and I had booked a tour in Dubrovnik that required the use of a boat. Well, due to weather it was cancelled. They left a message on our voice mail, a note under our door and I think a little bit later they announced that tours with water activities were cancelled. We were able to book another tour and were credited for the other one. Well, in Livorno the weather was bad and the cancelled my beach day, but didn't do any of the above that was done with the Dubrovnik tours. I was not dressed appropriately, since I hadn't seen the weather outside. Again, we were able to book another tour, but they should have made an announcement and they didn't.
For those in your 20s and 30s you won't find alot of people your age on this cruise. You will find people 55+ mostly on this cruise. So the entertainment and the activities are quite boring at times and not as fun as those activities that you would find on a Caribbean Cruise.
I booked an inside guarantee room. As a past guest I expected to get a decent room but instead was given a horrible room. I had the very first room at the front of the ship on the 2nd level. I didn't mind the level, but I minded the location. My parents (who were first time passengers) were given a room in the middle of the same level. I couldn't believe it. Even my Aunt & Uncle were repeat customers and they were given the room right next to me. Our room shaked and was loud everytime we left or docked due to the engines. Also, one night we had rough seas and we kept hearing loud banging all day and night due to the large waves crashing into the ship. I expected so much more from this cruise since it was for a longer duration and since I was a past guest. I was quite disappointed and I don't think that I will travel on Carnival ever again.
The only compliments that I will give to Carnival is the cleanliness of the room and they have nice beds. The stewards work very hard to make sure that your room is clean and comfortable for you.
BIG TIP: In Venice DO NOT LISTEN TO CARNIVAL about transportation to St. Mark's Square; they are just trying to get you to waste money on a shuttle bus. Carnival tells their passengers that they need to go to Piazzle Roma and you can walk there or pay 5 Euro to take the shuttle bus. BIG RIP OFF!!! Walk right past the shuttle bus and walk a little distance and you will find a booth that has a shuttle to St. Mark's Square. It will be 6 Euro for one way or 11 Euro Round Trip. This is worth it if you are just planning on going to St. Mark's Square. You can also walk to the Rialto bridge from St. Mark's. My group and I had listened to Carnival and walked to Piazzle Roma and got a 24 hour pass I think for 15 Euro each. This would have been good, but it poured a few hours later and we didn't even get a chance to really use the card. Then we found out about this water shuttle and did it the next day. The trip was 5 minutes and when you take the Vaperetto from Piazzle Roma you are making so many stops before you get to St. Mark's.
AIRLINE: Don't fly on Alitalia to Rome. Try and find another airline that you are happy with. Alitalia is horrible for the following reasons: 1) The staff can go on strike at a moments notice. Lucky for us the strike was 2 days before we left on our trip. 2)Due to the strike (at least I think it is due to the strike) the staff are not friendly and quite rude, especially to Americans. On our trip back home they rushed to get lunch to us, sat for six hours (not once coming to offer any beverages; you had to go to the back of the plane to get beverages during this time and if you asked the staff for any assistance they gave you dirty looks and eventually gave you what you requested) and then gave us our snack one hour before we landed and rushed though that. 3) The food sucks. 4) The seats are very tight and uncomfortable. I will NEVER fly Alitalia again. Even a young Italian man said that Italians will only fly Alitalia for domestic flights only since they know of their lack of service and quality.
PRIVATE TRANSFER & TOURS: I highly recommend Bob's Limousines http://www.romelimousines.com/ for any transfers from the airport to Civitavecchia Port or for some tours. We used them for transfers and for a Tour of Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. It was cheaper than Carnival and we got to see what we wanted. On this tour we had to pay extra for entrance into Pompeii and for a private guide, but it is worth it especially if you are a group of 8-12. This way you have the personal attention of the guide instead of 50 other people trying to shove you to listen to the guide. They offer other tours so go to their website to see if they have anything that you are interested in.
HOTEL: If you want to stay before or after your cruise in Rome I recommend the Best Western Spring House. It is right on the footsteps of the Vatican and they offer a generous breakfast each morning. The hotel staff are friendly and speak English. You can also can access to the Metro, bus and any of the Double Decker Tour buses within a 10-15 minute walk from the hotel. You can read recommendations on expedia for this hotel.