Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by caramarie: Carnival Freedom - Eastern Mediterranean
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Carnival Freedom - Eastern Mediterranean
I returned from this cruise about a week ago and am giving an abbreviated (believe it or not ;)review. This was my first time cruising with Carnival (previously sailed with RCL & Norwegian) so I was prepared for a little less quality of food/service. However, I was still surprised by how much worse the food and service were. .
EMBARKATION: Embarkation was fairly smooth. They did use our online fun passes so we didn't have to fill out additional paperwork and the line wasn't too long. We didn't receive our luggage by 8 pm as promised nor did we receive the dinner time we had requested. We requested a change and our request was granted. . . the only thing that was annoying was that the time we eventually got moved to (which is what we had requested in he first place) had a perfect spot for us that nobody had originally been seated. Thus, the organization of granting dinner requests was a little off causing unnecessary hassle. . but no big deal. SHIP: I have no complaints More about the ship. The layout was a little goofy but just took a day or two to pick up on. The decor was a little gaudy, but I expected that from Carnival. The ship was always kept clean. The cabins were extremely comfortable. . moreso than previous cruises (we had an inside cabin).
SERVICE/ENTERTAINMENT: The service and entertainment was absolutely awful. There was only one person of the entire staff who I thought did a good job and that was our server in the Posh dining room. The bar servers were almost non-existent and would sit and chat with other crew FOREVER while having your drink on their tray. There isn't anybody who I became attached too and developed a friendly relationship with like I have on other cruises. . I will remember people from my past cruises forever. We spent all of our days at sea on the Lido deck by the pool and were only approached once to ask if we wanted anything to drink. Also, I don't know what category this would go under but our room key stopped working a total of 7 times and each time I had to go stand in a 15 minute line to get a new one. Once or twice I wouldn't have cared. . but 7? That is a lot of wasted time. . . The entertainment selection was pretty limited. They advertise having fitness classes and I was expecting some spinning (since they do have the bikes) or kickboxing or something. . but instead they just had seminars on topics such as flattening your tummy which was kind of silly. Also, at night we often found ourselves kind of bored and ended up reading in our rooms. The movies on the lido deck were a good idea and they had a nice setup for that. . but the bands were all pretty bad and we are big music fans. Other cruises have had more activities that have extended more into the night in comparison to this one.
FOOD: The food at the Posh dining room was alright. Some nights you got lucky and some nights there was really nothing anybody at our table wanted. Also, often times the food would be cold or not cooked appropriately. Of course, the chocolate melting cake was amazing though. The buffets were horrendous. The eggs in the AM were powdered and and the lines were pretty long. . we ended up ordering continental breakfast in the room almost every day. The buffets also often times closed much earlier than listed in the Capers and the people closing them were pretty rude about it and would actually make people leave even if they were already in line. Overall, the food just did not meet my expectations and I found myself excited for lunches in port (which were SO good!!)
PORTS: The only reason to take this cruise is for the port selection. If you are working with a more limited budget go with Carnival- otherwise, go with RCL or Princess who both have similar but even better Eastern Med cruises. We absolutely loved each stop (although we would have loved to opt out on Katakolon and go to another Greek island instead ie Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, or Corfu- but that is just personal preference). Naples: We did the Sorrento and Swim. I have been to Sorrento several times and absolutely love it. The only problem was we were told we would have 2.5 hrs in the town of Sorrento and only had 45 min. . . which is a pretty big difference. Otherwise, this was a good excursion. Rhodes: We walked to Elli Beach and rented chairs and then roamed around the Old Town for shopping, touring, and lunch. Perfect day!! Beautiful port with excellent food and friendly people. Only complaint is that we felt a little rushed for time but I guess you will have that. Izmir- Izmir is nothing to shout home about but the ruins of Ephesus were very impressive. Of course it was 100 degrees (not exaggerating) that day but it was still a great stop. We used private tour guide who had a better price than Carnival's tours. Istanbul- Definitely the highlight of the trip for us. . . We once again used a private tour guide who was booked through Ekol Travel. We absolutely LOVED him and have kept in contact with him via email. His price was about the same as Carnival but it was private and you never had to stand in line or be herded about. . plus you could plan your own day. We saw all the major sites- the Sultan's Palace, the Undergrand Cistern, the St Sophia, the Hipprodrome, the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. We also had time for lunch and dessert (mmm. . baklava and Turkish coffee). Our guide recommended a small place for lunch which I didn't catch the name of but we were definitely the only people speaking English so the locals must like it (usually a good sign of a good place to eat :)).
ATHENS: Athens is a city that everybody should visit.. . one time. We walked to the train station (TOm Oggs directions were not applicable for where carnival docks- it was about a 40 min walk) and took the train to the Acropolis. The lines were ridiculous but it was worthwhile. We then walked around Plaka and had another amazing lunch. Athens is kind of dirty and the people are not the most friendly- I most likely will not return unless just using it as a place to fly into prior to heading out to the islands.
KATAKOLON: We had heard the ruins of Olympia were not anything compared to Ephesus so we had originally planned on getting a cab to a nice beach and eating lunch in town. However, we were pretty much exhausted by this point and instead opted for a spa day on the ship which ended up being a good choice. People who went to the beaches said they were not very nice and people who went to lunch said that it was very crowded with very long waits and the food was extremely expensive (60 euro for a single meal of fish!!!).
FLORENCE: We did Florence of your own with Carnival and once again they cut our time shorter than listed. We kind of wished we had done the train but it was still a wonderful day. We had enough time to climb Giotto's Tower for a great view (no line as compared to a very long line to climb the Dome. . same view, same price, 50 less stairs), visit the Accademmia and see the David which was breathtaking (we got reservations ahead of time which seemed to be necessary considering the time limit), had lunch by the Santa Croce, and gelato by the Arno. . .
ROME: This was probably are second favorite stop even though I have been to Rome several times before mostly b/c we had so much time (the ship overnights here). We took the shuttle to the train station and the express train into the city. We had time to see the Coliseum/Ancient Rome, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, have lunch, see the Pantheon, have coffee at San Eustachio (best coffee ever), walk down through the Jewish Ghetto to Trestevere and do the Rick Stevens walk, go to the San Angelo Castle, walk to Campo di Fiori for dinner, and walk to the Piazza Navonna for the famous Tre Scelini truffles. We took the train again and got back to the port at about 2300 and there was still a shuttle running.
DISEMBARKATION: No big complaints. . they did have a giant time frame to get your transfer number called (6 am to 9:30 am) but have us a more specific time after going to the Purser's desk.
OVERALL: As I stated before, I would only choose Carnival if you are trying to save money. Otherwise, when cruising Europe go with another line. Food, service, and entertainment were very lacking and we had many little complaints not mentioned here. . . and BELIEVE me, we are not usually complainers and have had almost no complaints on any other trip we have ever taken. Less
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