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Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by Florida1947: Carnival Freedom March 20-26, 2011


Florida1947
3 Reviews
Member Since 2006
118 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin Not Rated
Dining 4.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 3.0
Entertainment 4.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 3.0
Public Rooms 4.0
Rates 4.0
Service 4.0
Shore Excursions 3.0
Value for Money 4.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Freedom Western Caribbean Cruises

Carnival Freedom March 20-26, 2011

Sail Date: March 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

Carnival Freedom

Our third cruise with Carnival

Our 8th ocean cruise

March 20, 2011 to March 26, 2011

Sunday - Embarkation

We live near Fort Lauderdale and around noon our taxi dropped us off right at the baggage drop curb and with a $5 tip for moving our bags about 5 feet, we made sure our bags made it to a Carnival Freedom bin. Our worst fear is our bags might end up in the wrong bin on the wrong ship. So far that hasn't happened.

Checking in was smooth, the Carnival employees were very helpful and we were quickly going up the ramp to board the Carnival Freedom. We found our balcony cabin quickly, on deck 7 on the port side and were happy it was only a short distance from the central elevator bank. When we rode up to deck 9 it was only a short walk aft to the "Lido Bistro" buffet or a short walk forward to the hamburger/hot dog grill. Also here was the Seaside Theater, a giant outdoor screen poolside on the Lido Deck. Our first stop More after finding our cabin was the buffet on the Lido deck. While I headed for the hamburger grill, my DW discovered the Asian food station that occasionally specialized in Indian food and got some chapati bread and curried chicken which was delicious. We are especially fond of Indian food.

Our balcony cabin was the nicest stateroom we ever had on a cruise ship. Besides the standard amenities, the bathroom was very large by cruise ship standards. It had a Jacuzzi bathtub with 3 glass sliding panels instead of the annoying clinging shower curtain. Candidly the width of the tub was so narrow I was afraid to try it out for fear my posterior would get stuck and I would need to call the cabin steward to get me out. There were two sinks and an attractive countertop. On the downside the king sized bed was unpleasantly hard. And we waged a constant battle with the a/c thermostat. It was either too cold or too warm. We could never find the perfect temperature, but at least we were in control.

At 3:30 pm the 3,000+ passengers had our "safety briefing" which was surprising since they did not require us to wear our life jackets to our lifeboat station. We did have to spend what seemed like a long time just standing in ranks. At 4:00 pm we set sail and after dark we were treated to an unusually full moon which we could enjoy from our balcony. At 10:30 pm we attended the "welcome aboard show" and the dancing was acceptable.

Our first night we ate in the formal dining room called "Posh" at the stern on level 3. We booked this cruise late and had to accept the 8:15 pm seating which is very late for us to eat dinner. But we were seated at a banquette for 4 and the other couple turned out to be very good company.

Unfortunately our assigned seating was located off to the starboard side near the revolving door to the galley/kitchen. This was not a particular problem until it came to the singing entertainment provided by the wait staff. Our view was totally blocked and later we complained to the maitre d' who offered to attempt to move us but he wasn't sure where there was room. At that time we found him to be abrupt and unsympathetic. And we didn't want to abandon or offend our table-mates just for a few minutes of singing waiters.

Carnival Freedom suffers from passenger-flow issues as do other ships with this same Conquest class design. It is impossible to get from the Posh Dining Room at the aft end of the ship to the central elevators or the Victoriana Lounge (main showroom) all the way forward without having to climb or descend one or two decks.

We found it ironic that the movies "Poseidon Adventure" and "Titanic" were on the TNT channel on Sunday. The flat screen TV in our cabin got TNT-LA, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox, CNN-International, HLN, Cartoon Network and the Discovery channel. In between the network channels there were Carnival ship channels offering various things. There were 3 premium movie channels showing newly released movies on DVD. And there were pay-per-view movies you could rent. There were also special interactive channels where you could see the dinner menu or book excursions.

Monday - Key West

One special thing about having Key West as your first stop is that if you forgot something there is a handy well stocked CVS drug store close to the ship. There are three docks where large cruise ships can dock. The most convenient is Mallory Square where in good weather everyone goes to watch the sunset with many street entertainers. But any ship docked there blocks the view and has to depart before sunset. The worst location is the navy base pier near Fort Zachary Taylor which requires use of a shuttle bus to get anywhere. We docked at the second best dock, that some call the Truman Annex dock but it is located by the Hyatt Sunset Harbor Resort. From this dock it is a relatively short walk down the pier and around the block to the shops on Duval Street and the old custom's house. We walked around and then returned to the ship. The ship was offering a special deal so my DW went to the spa and had a hot rock massage and facial. She loved it.

Tuesday - A day at sea

In the afternoon we tried to find a deck chair to get some sun but all the deck chairs were either occupied or "saved." Reserving deck chairs is an ongoing problem on all cruise ships but it seemed to be more prevalent on this cruise. We went to the "Captain's Celebration" where we hoped to meet the captain but somehow we missed him. So we took advantage of the limited time $1 off cocktails and enjoyed the ambiance of the Millennium Lobby.

Tuesday was our first formal night. Everyone looked very nice and we stopped at the numerous "backdrop studios" for several photographs but later we didn't like the pictures and didn't buy any.

After our late dinner, we went to the large theater forward called "The Victoriana Lounge" and saw "The Big Easy" a Mardi Gras-like stage show having a New Orleans theme, but the music was mostly mo-town. However the dancing was very good which shouldn't be a surprise since they repeat it every cruise. Unfortunately in the middle of the show it suffered an unexplained "technical difficulty" and everything stopped for about 5 minutes. But once it resumed we found it entertaining.

On the TV they were showing the movie "RED" which we enjoyed.

Wednesday - Grand Cayman

We have been to Grand Cayman before and decided to not go on any excursions. However we did get off the ship. A tender was necessary to reach the shore so we rode in and walked into the downtown of Gorge Town. The tender dropped us off at the pier at the "cruise terminal." We politely avoided the dozens of vendors trying to sell tours or souvenirs and we window shopped. We stopped for Cuban coffee at a small but clean looking restaurant called the Al La Kebab and returned to the dock on Front Street.

There were 3 other cruise ships anchored with tenders so it was important to make sure we caught the right tender back. IDs were carefully checked. One ship was the Voyager of the Seas. Another was the Carnival Inspiration. And the third ship was the Gemini of the Happy Cruises Line. That one is new to me and the ship appeared a little smaller..

Wednesday night we signed up for the $75 "Chief's Table." The 12 people who signed up met Executive Chef Sanjay Chowdhury in the Millennium Lobby. He led us through the mid-ship Chic dining room to the main kitchen. There, out of traffic, we enjoyed a discourse about his life and how things work in the kitchen. We were fed Norwegian Salmon Tartar, Fire Roasted Tomato and Poblano Chili Bisque, Rock Shrimps & Apple Beignets appetizers and champagne. We were given a demonstration on how they make chocolate melting cake.

After seeing how everything works we were led back through the Chic dining room to a private dining room where, with elaborate ceremony, and good wine, we enjoyed Chopped Mediterranean Salad, Fillet of Chilean Sea Bass, Aged Filet Mignon and finally our special-made Chocolate Melting Cake with ice cream. A personally printed menu made it possible for me to remember all this. Someone from the photography department took our group picture at the table and it was presented to us at the end. And finally we received a personally signed cookbook: "Carnival Creations, Cruise Cuisine From Carnival Chefs." It was a delicious evening and well worth the extra cost.

Unfortunately the delicious food was so rich and so abundant that I needed an antacid to avoid acid reflux later that night. That was the fault of my GI track and not with the food.

Thursday - Ocho Rios

We signed up for an excursion that included Dunn's River Falls. It was the $57.99 Cool Runnings Sail & Dunn's River Falls excursion. Basically a large catamaran sailboat called "Cool Runnings" sailed from the dock adjacent to where the Carnival Freedom docked down the coast for about 25 minutes to a dock next to Dunn's River Falls. The cost included the $15 admission to the falls. One nice thing was we avoided the aggressive souvenir and t-shirt merchants in the shopping areas next to the ship's dock.

The weather was very nice and the catamaran made good time under sail and power. Once docked we were divided into two groups. One group wanted to physically climb the falls and the other group, our group, was the "dry group" who wanted to take the steps and not risk falling and breaking something important. I didn't count them but was told there are about 650 steps and I am happy to report we made it up and down okay. There are many convenient overlooks so I took lots of pictures. And there are at least 3 "exits" where we of the dry group could get wet and briefly experience the falls without actually climbing the slippery rocks or holding hands with strangers. Did I mention it was spring break? There are plenty of local Jamaicans who act as official guides. They are experts at this and show you where to put your feet and make sure no one gets hurt or too reckless. Of course they expect and deserve a tip at the end.

Dunn's River Falls is really set up for tourists who arrive by bus or car at the parking lot at the top of the cascade. Next to the parking lot there are lockers to store things you don't want to get wet, lost or stolen. Then you walk down the path and steps to the bottom and climb up. Since we arrived by boat we did it in reverse and at times it was a little congested with groups going both ways. Any valuables we brought were kept safe on the boat so we didn't need lockers.

The boat left at 8:30 am and we were back at the ship in time to have breakfast before they closed the buffet at 10:30 am. On the boat ride back they served rum punch and everyone got giggly. "Cool Runnings" had reggae music and on all the open decks with calm seas there was a lot of dancing and everyone had a very good time. Thanks in no small part to the rum punch we concluded this was the best cruise ship excursion we had ever purchased.

Those 650 up and down steps and rum punches did wear us out and we spent the rest of the day recuperating. We skipped the evening "Posh" dinner which was another formal night. We got hungry around 10 pm and decided to check out the 24 hour pizza counter. Surprisingly there was a line and Carnival's pizza guy was taking his time. We had at least 4 different toppings to chose from. The pizza was acceptable but not as good as on the Princess ships or anywhere near as good as California Pizza Kitchen. But it was available 24/7 and it was popular.

Friday - another day at sea

We decided we had enough exposure to skin cancer and didn't even try to find a non-reserved unoccupied deck chair.

At 8:15 pm we returned to the "Posh" dining room and we had the banquette to ourselves. The maitre d' made a special point to speak to us to see if we were interested in moving to another table. But it was the end of the cruise and we declined. Too little, too late.

We spent the day packing and at 8:00 pm put our heavy bags outside our door for delivery to the warehouse for customs check.

Saturday - Port Everglades

We set asked for a wakeup call for 5:30 am so I could get up and take pre-dawn pictures of Port Everglades. But thanks to the hard bed I was up at 4:30 am. I went up to deck 9 and forward on the port side to an unmarked "secret" access door that allows passenger access to the deck located immediately over the bridge. This allows passengers to go out on the bridge wing and see the sides of the ship giving them the same view as the captain. It is a good place for pictures when land is in sight. There were already two ships at dock, the "Navigator of the Seas" and "Celebrity Constellation." The "Crown Princess" followed us in and the "Eurodam" followed her. Finally the "Oasis of the Seas" arrived for a total of 6 large cruise ships in port.

Leaving the ship was very well organized. We easily found our bags in the warehouse and going through customs was very quick. A short while later we arrived home.

Summary

Things I didn't like: (1) way too much cigarette smoke. Passengers would be up on deck puffing away fouling the air during the day and I would find cigarette butts on the balcony from neighboring passengers smoking on their balconies and tossing their butts into the wind. My DW commented she was surprised at the large numbers of smokers. (2) hard beds. (3) hogging deck chairs. (4) the evenings were especially nice weather-wise and we wanted to go and watch the giant outdoor screen on the Lido Deck, but all they were showing was the basketball playoffs of which we have no interest. But it was popular and well attended.

Things I liked: It was a great itinerary. At all times the ship was safely and expertly handled. Our balcony cabin was very nice. On some days the sea was very calm. We had perfect weather. All the dining room wait staff and our cabin steward were very nice. I liked the towel animals. Only once did our cabin steward fail to keep our ice bucket filled. Even the maitre d' made an effort on the last evening to make us happy. I bought an unlimited soda pop drink card that made things easy. We found all public areas on the ship to be comfortable and we enjoyed the ambiance. All of our fellow passengers, including the college students on spring break, were nice and polite. There was some running up and down the passageway outside our door at night and a little party related noise in the wee hours, but not much and it didn't keep us awake. While the pizza could have been better, generally the food was pretty good and I enjoyed the Indian food when they served it. We always ate breakfast in the Lido buffet and never in the dining room and it was always good. But sometimes there were long lines especially for omelets.

I never got around to visiting the ship's hidden Internet cafe and frankly I didn't miss it. But I think I would need an internet fix on a longer voyage. I took 995 JPEGs on my Panasonic camera. I also shot a large number of video clips and maybe someday they will show up on U-tube.

In conclusion, mainly because of the cigarette smoke, and because there is so much competition for our cruising dollars, we would need a lot of financial incentives before we would cruise Carnival again. But never say never. Carnival employees try hard and we are glad we went cruising and we enjoyed this particular itinerary which circled around Cuba. Less


Read more Carnival Freedom cruise reviews >>
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Port and Shore Excursions


We have been to Grand Cayman before and decided to not go on any excursions. However we did get off the ship. A tender was necessary to reach the shore so we rode in and walked into the downtown of Gorge Town. The tender dropped us off at the pier at the “cruise terminal.” We politely avoided the dozens of vendors trying to sell tours or souvenirs and we window shopped. We stopped for Cuban coffee at a small but clean looking restaurant called the Al La Kebab and returned to the dock on Front Street.

There were 3 other cruise ships anchored with tenders so it was important to make sure we caught the right tender back. IDs were carefully checked. One ship was the Voyager of the Seas. Another was the Carnival Inspiration. And the third ship was the Gemini of the Happy Cruises Line. That one is new to me and the ship appeared a little smaller..


One special thing about having Key West as your first stop is that if you forgot something there is a handy well stocked CVS drug store close to the ship. There are three docks where large cruise ships can dock. The most convenient is Mallory Square where in good weather everyone goes to watch the sunset with many street entertainers. But any ship docked there blocks the view and has to depart before sunset. The worst location is the navy base pier near Fort Zachary Taylor which requires use of a shuttle bus to get anywhere. We docked at the second best dock, that some call the Truman Annex dock but it is located by the Hyatt Sunset Harbor Resort. From this dock it is a relatively short walk down the pier and around the block to the shops on Duval Street and the old custom's house. We walked around and then returned to the ship.
Read 741 Key West Reviews

We signed up for an excursion that included Dunn’s River Falls. It was the $57.99 Cool Runnings Sail & Dunn’s River Falls excursion. Basically a large catamaran sailboat called “Cool Runnings” sailed from the dock adjacent to where the Carnival Freedom docked down the coast for about 25 minutes to a dock next to Dunn’s River Falls. The cost included the $15 admission to the falls. One nice thing was we avoided the aggressive souvenir and t-shirt merchants in the shopping areas next to the ship’s dock.

The weather was very nice and the catamaran made good time under sail and power. Once docked we were divided into two groups. One group wanted to physically climb the falls and the other group, our group, was the “dry group” who wanted to take the steps and not risk falling and breaking something important. I didn’t count them but was told there are about 650 steps and I am happy to report we made it up and down okay. There are many convenient overlooks so I took lots of pictures. And there are at least 3 “exits” where we of the dry group could get wet and briefly experience the falls without actually climbing the slippery rocks or holding hands with strangers. Did I mention it was spring break? There are plenty of local Jamaicans who act as official guides. They are experts at this and show you where to put your feet and make sure no one gets hurt or too reckless. Of course they expect and deserve a tip at the end.

Dunn’s River Falls is really set up for tourists who arrive by bus or car at the parking lot at the top of the cascade. Next to the parking lot there are lockers to store things you don’t want to get wet, lost or stolen. Then you walk down the path and steps to the bottom and climb up. Since we arrived by boat we did it in reverse and at times it was a little congested with groups going both ways. Any valuables we brought were kept safe on the boat so we didn’t need lockers.

The boat left at 8:30 am and we were back at the ship in time to have breakfast before they closed the buffet at 10:30 am. On the boat ride back they served rum punch and everyone got giggly. “Cool Runnings” had reggae music and on all the open decks with calm seas there was a lot of dancing and everyone had a very good time. Thanks in no small part to the rum punch we concluded this was the best cruise ship excursion we had ever purchased.

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