First of all, let me say that this is my 12th cruise and my second on Carnival. The first Carnival cruise was on Liberty in the Eastern Mediterranean last year. My husband and I liked it so much we went back again this year. I've cruised on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Princess.
We opted out of the pre or post cruise stay this year because the ship was docked overnight in Civitavecchia and we knew we would have all day in Rome, which was our favorite port last year.
Our Delta flight left Philadelphia and flew to Cincinnati and then on to Rome. We had no problems at the airport and the Carnival staff was there to greet us.
When we arrived at the port it was mobbed, however the lines went fast and we were on the ship on no time. The staff was very friendly.
We had a balcony cabin very near the elevators. I loved the location, and had no problem with noise. The cabin was very spacious with plenty of room for storage. Also, the shower is bigger than on the Royal Caribbean ships.
Freedom has the same layout of the ship as Liberty, so we had no problems getting around. I've read complaints about the decor of the ship, but I thought it was nice. It is a Carnival ship, and you don't expect subdued tones and boring decor.
We normally don't go to shows, but I had read on Cruise Critic that the two shows not to miss were Ticket to Ride and The Big Easy. These shows were wonderful and I'm glad we didn't miss them. We spent some time in the Piano Bar. Scott was playing there and he really got the crowd into the music. We really enjoyed the band that played by the pool. Speaking of the pool, even though my husband and I are both in our fifties, we LOVE the Carnival slide.
We did all Carnival excursions. Since we were in Europe I didn't want to take a chance venturing off on our own.
NAPLES-We did the Herculaneum tour. We did the Pompeii tour last year, so I wanted to do something different. My husband liked Pompeii better, but I liked them both.
RHODES-We did the Walking Tour and saw the Grand Master Palace. We had a good guide and I liked the tour. You could just walk back to the ship, so I did a little shopping before we went back. I would have done a lot more shopping if my husband wasn't with me. He's not a big shopper!
IZMIR-Ephesus and the Terrace Houses-I loved this and we had a great guide, however it was very hot and crowded.
ISTANBUL-Blue Mosque, St. Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Grand Bazaar. We had a good guide again. It was very hot again that day, the traffic in Istanbul is terrible. I was glad that we had taken the Carnival tour, I would not want to get stuck in that traffic and miss the ship.
ATHENS-Acropolis and Museum-Really liked the tour. I had been to the museum before and rather than take the tour with the guide, I like to go on my own so that I can see more of the museum, but that's just my preference.
KATAKALON-Olympia and the museum-Loved the tour, seen better guides. Again, walked around the museum on our own. She tended to talk on and on and on!
LIVORNO-Florence on your own-We went last year, so I just wanted to walk around and go shopping, much to my husband's dismay. We had wanted to take the train into Florence, but I just didn't feel comfortable doing that. I talked to some other people on the ship that took the train and they made out fine. However, this was the only port that someone did not make it back to the ship on time and we set sail without them.
ROME-Rome and Catacombs tour-We spent a couple of days in Rome last year and never saw the Catacombs so we decided on this tour. The Rome guide on this tour was awful! The catacombs were nice, but from the time we got to the catacombs and the (new) guide talked about them and we went through, it only took about half an hour.
The last night on the ship we sat up by the pool, wrapped up in our blankets and watched Gladiator on the big screen.
FOOD-We did not eat in the dining room, because rather than have a set time to eat we just eat when we want, which was all the time. The buffets were great. Some nights I would go into the buffet early and eat all the desserts and then go back later for the dinner. They also have a sushi bar, pizzeria (open 24 hours a day), deli take out, Chinese take out and a fish and chips. Oh, I forgot to mention the burgers, hot dogs and fries. I thought the food was great.
DEBARKATION-Up and out early in the morning. All went smoothly. The airport in Rome was very hectic. Finally boarded our Delta flight to JFK. Once we got to JFK we were told that our flight to Philadelphia was cancelled due to weather. Personally, I don't think so. The weather in NY was fine and it's only 90 miles as the crow flies to Philly. So since the cancellation was weather related we had to spend the night in NY, on our dime. So instead we flew out of JFK the next day, on Sept. 11 in the rain.
This cruise was wonderful. I would definitely cruise with Carnival again.