The Carnival Freedom is a massive ship that fits a lot of people on it! Europe is a prime destination during the summer so the ship was filled to capacity.
Embarking was pretty smooth, it took about 1 hour to be processed through the line and get onto the ship. There was water and some type of cake there to help tide people over while they waited. We arrived at 1130 and received our bags by about 5:30 pm that day.
The ship is very nice, I have heard rumbles about the art and design, but it didn't bother me during my 12 days on the ship.
Our stateroom was pretty big, my wife and I had plenty of closet space as well as drawer space for 2 people, don't know if we could have fit too much more though! The balcony was a little smaller than I imagined, but this was our first balcony room, so who knows. The cabin steward, Anak, was great. He introduced himself to unlock the refrigerator and see if there was anything we needed or had questions about within our first hour in the room. He took very good care of us each day and made sure that our room was always cleaned in the morning and at dinner.
The dining team we had of Wayan and Damir were amazing as well. My wife likes lemons in her water and a straw as well. After the first night, she didn't have to ask again. I also like a glass of skim milk with desert and after the first night, did not have to ask for it again! The quality of the food was pretty good. I was a little disappointed in some of the meals, but Damir and Wayan were sure to see if there was something else I would like to try. My wife also had a hard time finding something to eat. She doesn't like seafood, which was a large portion of the menu in the evening. Even the pasta dish was sometimes accompanied with seafood, which made for tough choices. I felt the desert menu was disappointing as did my wife. In 12 nights there were half that I saw something I wanted, less for my wife. We got fruit a lot!! We also ate at the Sun King restaurant for $30/pp extra. The service there was amazing, literally 1 on 1 with your server. The food was excellent but kind of predictable (Fillet, Lamb Chop, Surf and Turf, Lobster Tail, ect.) This was where I had my best desert of the cruise (citrus cheesecake, very original and tasty serving to say the least!) The Buffet food was pretty good, they have a Mongolian section which was really good and fresh. In the morning, the lines were pretty crazy on port days to say the least! People not wanting to wait in line and cutting in, made for frustrating waits for food. We went to sit down breakfast or ordered room service after realizing it was a daily occurrence on port days.
The public areas were always very clean. I don't remember seeing trash or empty cups anywhere aside from the Lido deck, and with that many people on the ship, that was quite a feat. The one thing that bothered me was the adults only pool and jacuzzis. There were kids doing cannon balls into the jacuzzis with no one enforcing the rules. Now some of this falls on the parents I know and I cant rate them on here, but if Carnival is going to make the rule, please enforce it!
The Shore Excursions were less than desirable in my opinion to be honest. We did 2 excursions privately and 5 through the ship. There was a clear difference!! On our tour in Rome, which we paid $189/pp for Rome and Vatican, we did not even stop and see the Coliseum and had 1 1/2 hours to see Trevi Fountain, Parthenon, Spanish Steps, ect. We were running without a guide to see all of it which was tough as well. If you look at a map of where these things are, you will understand. I thought the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was overrated. There are vendors, literally pulling you into the shops and it was a little uncomfortable. I thought we should have had more time in Athens, the shopping was better there as well. The ship did provide a lot more time in Istanbul and offered a shuttle from the Bazaar to the ship up until 7pm, but did not offer the same thing in Athens at the Plaka. Our tour guides in Athens (Acropolis and Plaka), Maramis (Jeep 4x4 adventure), Katakolon (Olympia), were all about average for what I expected. Please remember that there were a lot of people on the ship which may affect this as well, but the wait to go on the excursion was a little ridiculous!! One morning we were in line for 1/2 hr just to get into the lounge where the tours were leaving from!!!
Entertainment: The Las Vegas style shows were great, I was very pleased to say the least. The comedian was pretty good, but there wasn't the adults only comedy show the next night which was something I was looking forward to from my past experience. The Legends show was pretty funny and the Cruise Director, Todd left nothing on stage to say the least! There was not a real magic show, the comedian did some magic. Brad, who played at Scotts Piano Bar was really good and very interactive with the crowd. A nice guy to talk to during songs as well, "Cheers" Brad!
Cruise Director: Todd was a pretty funny guy. There was one time that was not so funny that kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. We had a deck party the night before the sea day, it was a lot of fun, a lot of drinking and partying a good time for sure! The party went until about 2am or so. On the sea day at 845am, Todd made his morning announcements. Being one of the people up until 230am or so, this made me a little angry! I would like to keep in mind that this is not a totally relaxing cruise, there is ALOT to see in a short time a long with ALOT of jet-lag. This was a great day to sleep in and get ready for the next 3 day hustle around the world. I don't want to hear about tonights show and the Spa Specials for the day at 845 in the morning after partying all night. At dinner that night, I found that I was not the only one who shared this feeling.
Overall: We had a fun trip and got to see a lot of cool things. There were a few things that I feel could have made it better, but it doesn't mean I wouldn't do it again! We enjoyed ourselves a lot and would suggest it to anyone who doesn't mind hustling around and likes to site see. I would suggest it in May or September, when it may not be quite as busy though, thats for sure! Remember this too, cruising beats working any day of the week!!