Good food, great shows, nice new ship: Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by andythegameinventor
Overall Member Rating
Good food, great shows, nice new ship
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
First, the ship: Freedom is a quite new ship, so it's still very clean and in very good shape. It's quite well equipped. The decor is a bit funky - it's not ugly but a bit over-the-top and even gaudy in a few places - more Disneyland than Buckingham Palace.
We found the food good, but not spectacular. In the main dining rooms, the food was always good, the choices were a bit limited - they have alot of names on the menu for a comparatively limited number of basic beef, chicken, and pasta dishes. Everything was good, but little was spectacular. After a few days you started to notice the repetition that they were trying to hide with changing dish names.
At least on our cruise, breads, pastries, desserts were all good. Soups and sushi were not. Meats and fish were competent.
We ate More one night at the Sun King Supper Club - flawlessly delicious. If they could do this at the main dining room every night this review would be raving.
Despite limited choices in the main dining room, there was huge amounts of choice on the lido deck - too much to describe here - burgers, fish-n-chips, Indian, Asian, Mexican, pizza, etc, etc, etc. Quality varied alot - pizza was competent, burgers were very good (much better than expected). Indian was very good. A few things, like breakfast eggs on the lido deck, were actually bad - but really very few things were not at least decent.
The production shows were fairly good, and both the New Orleand and Beatles shows were excellent. The comedians were fair to very good.
Public spaces on the boat are beautiful, though in some cases with overdone decor. Shopping is limited, and the big push is for photos, photos, and more photos - every meal, every port, in the public areas. (You'll feel like a movie star.) Service was quite good, especially considering that being Xmas week we were overrun with kids (including mine) and the boat was very very full.
Staterooms are on the small side, but the beds were very comfortable. Stewards worked hard to keep the rooms clean. We had a lower-class outside cabin, and it was fine, though you wouldn't want to live there full time.
Ports of call were OK. Shore excursions have become a place to make up for the low published cruise prices and are quite costly, with little below $80 per person and some in the $160 range - that's alot for a family of four.
People love to complain about embarkation/debarkation but I think Freedom did it as well as could be expected for a crowd of 4,800 including crew - standing in line is never fun, but it's 15 minutes - just deal with it.
We did have 24 hours of rough weather - the ship is well stabilized but 14-foot seas are just what it sounds like - a few people, including 2 in my party, threw up. In calm seas, this ship was like standing on dry land.
Carnival discourages private shore excursions, but we did that once (in Costa Rica) and for $20/pp we got more than the ship sells for $80. Also, the tour desk told us that in Limon Costa Rica there is a straw market at the end of the pier but "not much else" when you walk ten minutes into town. The reality is that town is 3 minutes walk and like a compact Manhattan, with tons of stuff, most of which is not aimed at the cruise crowd. Also, tour operators at the end of the pier offer shore excursions for far less than on board - but of course you don't know who you're getting and you have to be somewhat careful.
The gym was too small for the size of this ship, and had a feeling of being shoehorned in to an attic - the RC ship I was on did this part much better. I used onboard internet in my stateroom and onboard cell service very sparingly, since they are very costly - but both worked very well. The staff and crew really aimed to please - I think service would have been a little better with less people on board, but it was still good.
Hint to seasick cruisers - GO TO THE LIDO DECK - it may rock and roll but the outdoor air and wind will rapidly help your queasiness.
Overall - good cruise, beautiful ship with decor a bit gaudy in places, food good but not spectacular, ports good but not spectacular, shore excursions good but expensive, staterooms comfortable but small, entertainment ranging from good to excellent. Less
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