My husband and I are in our 50's and this was our 4th cruise. This was our first Carnival cruise and probably our last Carnival cruise. We enjoy good food, nightly entertainment and a relaxing time on board. The decor on the boat drove me crazy. I was expecting gaudi, but after a few days of wandering the halls, I just wanted to go somewhere and be surrounded by peaceful colors. Can't happen on the Freedom. When the ship scheduled broadway type entertainment, it was fantastic ( inspite of the busy decor in the theater and posts to block your view of the stage.) Nights that did not have the musicals, had good acts, but they were scheduled at 10:45 p.m. With shore excursions starting at 8 a.m., I could not stay up and wait for the late night entertainment. Lastly, we were not impressed with the food and our table was always served last in the dining room. Four or five nights we were still eating dessert at 8:30, when the late seating was suppose to begin serving. The chef specials were far from special, a creamy chicken and mushroom dish was ( I swear) campbells cream of mushroom soup. The chef could have thrown in some herbs or additional vegetables to dress it up. I ordered steak 2 times and both times it was tough and overcooked. ( even after I stressed to the waiter, I wanted it red in the middle.) I asked for the vanilla sauce on an apple desert one evening and was told "tonight we have ice cream, no vanilla sauce." Anyone who has enjoyed real gourmet meals presented to please you in whatever adaptations you might enjoy will be greatly disappointed on a Carnival cruise. We ordered a lot of seafood, and it was prepared very well.
Those are most of the negatives of this cruise. On the positive side, embarkment was a breeze. As was disembarkment, we did however keep our luggage and walk off the boat at a time we preferred to leave. I have to give Carnival much praise for organizing the tours and moving some 3000 people off the ship to specific bus tours. Only in Cannes, where the weather was choppy, did we wait in the theater for 45-60 extra minutes to catch a tender to the shore. In Naples we toured Positano, Sorrento and Pompeii. These were very interesting and enjoyable sites. The lunch provided was excellent. Venice was so beautiful, it helped that some sunshine was out the two days we were there. We took the water taxi that was a mile or so from the ship. It is a long walk, but will save you some money. The info on the ship said the taxi's run frequently until midnight, we did not find that to be true. Our first evening there, we had a Bellini at Harry's Bar and left about 9 p.m. Several tourist waited at the water taxi station over an hour and when one came it did not dock at our pier. We eventually got back to the ship at 11:30p.m., but thought our information on the transportation was misleading. The next day we went to Murano for glass blowing and shopping. I was not impressed with the demonstration. Nothing intricate was displayed and I felt like they herded us to their shop and set a limited time to purchase items. Next time I would explore the street shops more. (better prices too) This excursion also included St. George Church and a gondola ride. Both of which were fine. Croatia was the next stop. We chose a wine tour that was very nice. A ride along the coast, into the valley to a monastery for traditional dancing and food. We went on three wine tours, as part of our shore excursions, and enjoyed each one. We were disappointed to learn when we returned to the states, we are unable to purchase any of the wines. On the tours they give you US vender information, but do not tell you the venders are not licensed to sell to consumers or even shops. They only deal with restaurants. So unless you know a restaurant owner who will purchase that wine for you, you are unable to get it here. We did buy 1-2 bottles at each winery, but drank them in the ship. ( customs only allow for 2 liters per person) We docked in Croatia on Sunday, others on our cruise were disappointed that many of the shops were closed on Sunday. Next time I would go to the walled city. Sicily's tour was to a winery and Mt. Etna. Sicily got their first significant snowfall the night before, so we were unable to go to the volcano. We rode half way up, which was quite interesting in a large bus through small narrow streets, but were told it was unsafe to go into the snow covered road. In Barcelona, we did a city highlights tour that allowed for about an hour of shopping. It was very informative and enjoyable. Cannes was another wine tour. We rode into the country for another good tour with food. The night before went sailed through a storm, so the water was rough and it was rainy most of the day. I was not impressed with Cannes. The area by the docking station was just restaurants and hotels. Very few shops to explore. Other tours were great for shopping, if that is something you are interested in doing. Our Livorno stop included Pisa and historical Florence. These were great tours that included lunch. Not alot of time to shop here either, but we went for the history. Options were given for leaving the tour and shopping, then meeting up at the end. We enjoyed the guided tour, eventhough we walked for over 2 hours. When we returned to Civitavecchia, we arranged for a private day tour with Rome Cabs. Our driver was great to take us to all the main sites and give us info on the history. We had lunch at a fantastic restaurant along the Appian Way. We traveled with 6 friends. We went on Carnival because our friends had sailed with Carnival before and they wanted the discount. Other cruise lines go to these same ports, next time I would sacrifice $$ for a more luxury experience. We do not vacation every year, frankly, we can not afford it. When I plan for something that special, I like for it to be worth the time and dollars I invested. Europe was amazing. This was our first trip out of the country and it was so beautiful to see. Anyone, could spend a month in Italy and come away with a deep appreciation for history.