We were 1st time cruisers from australia-unlike most of those on board-but widely travelled. We began our holiday with 3 days in Naples. We arrived in Rome and headed straight for the Stazione Termini and took a pre booked eurostar to Naples. We stayed at a wonderful hotel overlooking the port - Hotel Jolly. The taxi cost 30 euros but it was worth it at the time after 24 hrs of travelling but we later discovered the bus goes straight back to the station for a couple of euro. We booked a tour to the Isle of Capri one day and the Amalfi Coast via Herculaneum, by train and bus the other day. We kept Vesuvius and Pompei for the cruise shore excursion. After the cruise we extended our holiday with a week in Malta. I did extensive research on the net before coming and the reviews here were particularly helpful.
Rome to Civitavecchia: by train - difficult with heavy bags but a lot of other cruisers did it the same way. met another 2 couples in same compartment so agreed to share a taxi to the ship and it worked well Embarkation: incredibly smooth and fast - I think because I did everything online.
We were thrilled with our cabin on Main deck. I get see sick easily so were advised to have a cabin midship and low. This was very good for one night in particular! The bathroom was a little squeezy but otherwise there is plenty of room.
The design of the boat is something to experience. I wonder how many people leaned how to negotiate it by the end of the cruise - not many! The secret is deck 5 - the only deck you can walk front to back, so you walk down or up to 5 then through. The ship is very confusing. Many reviewers had commented on the decor, so I was prepared for a dark and garish ship. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The blue plastic Statue of Liberty on Lido deck is something to behold but the rest is OK. Maybe we have nothing to compare freedom with but the decor is not as bad as many have suggested.
Dining: We were allocated to early sitting in the Posh restaurant and it was lovely. First night we were so tired that we did not feel like dressing up for dinner, so had dinner on the Lido deck. This was silly as many others felt the same and went to dinner in their casual gear. We had 2 Canadian couples on our table but others did not show so after 1 week so we changed tables to meet others. The dining room seemed only half full as many chose to dine on Lido deck. Dinner was fun and the food terrific. Yes the warm melting chocolate cake desert WAS 'to die for' but then so were a number of other main courses and deserts. Try as much as you like, the waiters were great! We were a little disappointed that the 6.15 pm diners did not dress up that much, many were quite casual in comparison with the later sitting people. We don't dress up at home but on holiday, this was something to look forward to.
The Posh had open sitting for breakfast and when we had time to eat leisurely we went there. When the shore excursion was early we had breakfast on Lido. Both were excellent but my craving for a cappuccino was only satisfied in the Posh restaurant - the coffee on Lido was Ok but I am a little spoilt for nice coffee!
We had dinner in the Sun King one night and it was just wonderful. Book online or immediately on embarkation - bookings go fast
Shore excursions: We had been to Italy previously and seen the main tourist sights so this time we prebooked different excursions. All were good but much depended on the guide and some were better than others - those who chose to empty their head of all accumulated knowledge were plain boring and used up valuable time. Our St Marks experience in venice was not pleasant for that reason - we should have just walked around ourselves. On the other hand we had a delightful guide in Dubrovnik and the excursion there was relaxing and pleasurable. Dubrovnik is so clean and friendly - the old city is a must to see. Sicily was great - Taomina wonderful - the place we bought most souvenirs. We went to Mt Etna as well but would have liked more time in Taomina. The Cordoniu cellars called us in Barcelo and the day was good. We had been to Spain in 2006 so apart from the Gaudi architecture, Barcelona was not much different from the rest of Spain. We had also been to Nice and surrounds previously so we went walking in Cannes with the guide and it was really good. We chose Portovenere - the first part of the italian riviera for the Livorno excursion. This was just wonderful - pretty, relaxing and a great end to the cruise
Watching 3000 people being organized into shore excursions and disembarkation, was simply amazing. Well done Carnival Freedom staff
The highlight of the trip - sailing into Venice - absolutely magical The lowlight of the trip - disappointment in the St Mark Experience excursion. We should have just explored venice ourselves
Lastly, mention must be made of the wonderful Cruise Director John Heard -what a find for Carnival - he is just marvelous. And to all those passengers that held us up every port by being late or never making it back - boo to you - get tough on then John
looking forward to the next cruise - we are hooked !!!!