This was our first Carnival cruise after several other cruise lines. I booked 4 nights on Carnival Freedom at the last minute. We flew in with JetBlue to Ft. Lauderdale, took TRI-rail to Miami. Line up at check in was crowed but well managed, people in a good mood. Agent at the counter worked as if this was her first day on the job, always running around asking information from other agents about our passports and paperwork. This became a little annoying after 20 minutes. But finally we were directed to the ship entrance where we accosted by photographers. Thankfully we were left alone after the first "no thank you". Later, we became accustomed to these mini assaults for the duration of the cruise.
I was very excited about the Freedom when found out how new she is. My excitement plummeted when I saw an interior. This haunted me until the end of the cruise. I found somber dark color palette, truly ugly "zebra" stripes, muddy and depressing hues throughout: none of the joyful More
or restful or even elegant interiors of the previously visited ships. For us, a big part of the cruise is exploring the ship. On this one every public room was spoiled by something truly hideous. Such as blue phantom-like masks of Statue of Liberty that haunt the Freedom restaurant and beyond, horrible snake skin patterns of The Posh restaurant spoiled our appetite. Even the table tops were not inviting, each bearing a sharp "spear" design that points directly into you gut, no Feng Shui here! The bars are too "plastic", elevators nightmarish. The theater is not bad; a bit too childish to be called Victorian. The best bar so far is The Habana, with its warm Cuban(?) feel.
Always a big fan of the spa - this is where I went first. The attendants were bent on selling me as many services as possible. I found their attitude pushy; they quickly lost interest in me when told them to take it easy. The spa interior is minimalistic; locker area looks like a morgue. Whirlpool uncomfortable to sit in and the lap pool water too hot. Generally I went there to escape from the crowds. But found flooding shower floors a bit too unhygienic.
And crowds were horrendous! I think that this ship should not carry as many passengers as it did on this excursion. I could not shake a claustrophobic feeling in all public areas. Line-up in buffet was long and mismanaged, Posh dining room so noisy, we had to raise voices in order to have a decent conversation. Little Vienna cafe always had a line-up that blocked the hallway, mostly because it's the only place where one could get a decent cup of coffee (have to pay extra). Shops are inadequately laid out, selection poor, always some unpacked merchandise on the floor in boxes - I would expect to see something like this in a "Dollar Store".
Food selection in was not very exciting, always the same, day after day. But we found a Chinese restaurant on the side where one can have something fresh. Yes, fresh! There was a pitiful amount of fresh green food. Mostly overcooked or deep-fried. 24-hour Pizza did not taste like pizza, and no salad served with it. One can find nothing fresh after 8:00 pm. unless room service is called, and they did not have much to offer. Some fruit would be appreciated! There is plenty of food in restaurants, but all for stuffing, no ambiance.
Also because it was so crowded, the public areas were not very clean, lots of uneaten food on the deck, spilled drinks, cigarette buds, and greasy fingerprints everywhere. The most disgusting was a smell of raw sewage that permeated the main deck. We avoided it from day one with its crowd and a huge TV screen reminiscent of "The Great Eye of Sauron" on top. Imagine smells of cooking meat and sewage… BIG DISAPPOINTMENT! Our state room was spotless and we were very well taken care of by the steward, but who wants to sit inside all day?
Generally I would not criticize the service, but on this ship some of the crew was simply uncooperative and rude. Some simply looked bored and uninterested to help. It was quite disappointing to witness frustration of other guests, and their negative reactions. We even noticed that some of the staff had a B/O, and their uniforms were not clean. And those were not even the kitchen personnel.
General entertainment concentrated on gambling, bingo and drunkenness - maybe it was a cruise theme… But evening entertainment is a must see. We were impressed by "The big easy" and "Ticket to ride" shows amid all our disappointments. Another fun thing to do was to people watch, I bet someone was watching us too, not much entertainment aside from that. My significant other compared the whole event to a safari: lots of elephants and hippos, not enough gazelles, but plenty of cougars.
Shore excursions are reasonably priced. Especially I would like to plug the Sunshine Tours on Cozumel. We booked the Jeep tour prior to sailing and it was a lot of fun. This was not our first visit to Cozumel, and it did not feel as it was "same old, same old."
Overall I was sort of satisfied with this short cruise, but not because of Carnival Cruise Lines, and not because of the ship. And dear CCL, I probably will not recommend you to my friends and definitely will not see you again. Less