EMBARKATION: We arrived too early at the port and had to wait 20 mins before we were allowed to embark but then went on the ship immediately at 11:30am. Carnival were very obliging and their directions were easy to follow. We sat in the beautiful Atrium Lounge waiting for our family to arrive with our DOD. Then until the end of the cruise it was non-stop fun, food and frolic the whole way.
PUBLIC ROOMS: All the public rooms were beautiful, clean and totally relaxing. The Atrium was outstanding, of course. The public decks were great to walk around with great ease. Chaise lounges were no problem to get on this trip. The Lido deck was fun to sit and watch TV and at night in rocking chairs and if breezy the Carnival staff provided nice warm blankets for those who wanted one. Food and drinks were always right at hand close by. Loved the public rooms.
CABIN: As I mentioned below our cabin was great for us and most comfortable in every way. The bathroom was plenty big enough. Closets were huge and drawer space was plentiful. Desk, fridge, safe (great feature), lighting, TV, ice bucket filled all the time, wine glasses provided upon asking, one chair and one large stool - enough for us. Loved the color theme of the cabin. Lots of lights and good for reading in bed. Climate controlled by us. No complaints at all.
FITNESS: Love the fitness room. The machines were great and free to use. I treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure - both for $49.00 total - a special everyday on port days, I think they said. It was completely relaxing with a wonderful view of the ocean and port the day we were there complete with hand and feet massage. There is usually a fitness walk for cancer or such for 1 mile with a $10 donation and was when we were there. The outside fitness track is great for walking or running. Great Spa and Fitness.
RATES: The early booking rate is the best deal or the specials when they announce them. The 4A Inside cabin is one of the lowest and the Guaranty rate is even cheaper. We booked for a 4A inside (1st deck) and got upgraded to a 4D (7th deck). You can pay as high a category as you want. But watch for the 'sales' or specials. Military and Interline rates are even better.
DINING: The dining rooms are very, very elegant and you can dress up or casual except "Elegant" nights when people dress up a little more so. The service and meals are wonderful and plentiful - just ask and you will receive. We are not hard to please so we enjoyed them very much. The SUPPER CLUB is most exquisite and absolutely delicious and very much worth the money at $30 each. We go at least once on each cruise. The service is first class the whole way. The buffet is a typical buffet with lots of choices for a variety of food. The THEME buffet is our favorite with different foods of different countries each day. It gets crowded so pick a good time for you. We eat all breakfasts and dinners and lunches, when they serve lunch, in the dining room. We ate at the Chic dining room which is the same as the Posh. FORMAL TEA PARTY: I can't say enough for this event, usually held twice on the cruise. It was great with party sandwiches, many, many, many sweet desserts, wide variety of teas and classical piano music all the while. A great place if you like teas.
ENTERTAINMENT: There is entertainment for everyone. On the Capers Bulletin in your room each night there are so many things to do both inside and on the decks day and night. The Shows at night are always great and popular with various entertainers. There is Karaoke, bands, magicians, etc. We make the rounds and take in each one, usually. Super entertainment.
SERVICE: We have never had bad service. But I think it is what you make it. Smiles go a long way and a friendly hello. The staff is always obliging and friendly we have found. From room stewards to the dining staff, buffet, decks, sports activities - we have enjoyed them all. We even went on a tour of the kitchen which was fantastic to see.
SHORE EXCURSIONS/PORTS: We go on certain shore excursions when we feel like it but we love to just stay on the beautiful ships and relax and take walks around the ports. Most of the shore excursions have been enjoyable to people we meet and also to us when we have gone in past. We are older and enjoy the more relaxing type of things now, like staying on the ship and walking the Ports. On this cruise we elected not do any excursions but just enjoy the fabulous Freedom instead.
VALUE: Where else can one go for around $100 a day and get all the services that Carnival has to offer. We find the value beyond belief when we cruise on Carnival. As I said we cruised on another line and spent over $4000 each for the Deluxe Owner's Suite last May for one week and enjoyed it as well. It's all relative to us. But Carnival to us is known definitely as the Fun-For-All type of cruising we love. Already planning our next cruise.
OVERALL: Carnival is great and that's why we keep coming back. Kudos to everyone who works at Carnival - from Norberto, our Carnival cruise consultant, with whom we book all our cruises to the Captain of the Freedom on last week's cruise who was charming, witty and friendlier than any Captain we've met. He will be Captain on the new DREAM soon and we will see him in November 2009. Happy Sailing everyone!