Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by Moosevilleco: Spring Break - Eastern Caribbean 2011
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Spring Break - Eastern Caribbean 2011
This was our second cruise with Carnival traveling over Spring Break. Our traveling party included my husband and myself, our two boys, ages 10 and 14 and my parents. We flew from Colorado to Ft. Lauderdale on Friday and stayed one night at the Hyatt Place North in Ft. Lauderdale. The rooms were nice and the continental breakfast was just OK. One of the primary reasons we stayed at this hotel was due to the free shuttle service from the airport to the hotel as well as from the hotel to the cruise port. The pick-up worked OK, but the transfer to the port did not as they had filled up all the early slots and told us they would take us at noon. We did not want to wait that long and get stuck in the boarding lines so we paid $15 per taxi to get to the dock.
We traveled on the Carnival Conquest last year so we were familiar with the Freedom's layout. Some people do not like the bold colors and design but we think it is lively and entertaining. I will start with what I like More best about the Freedom. The food is actually really good in the speciality areas such as the 24 hour pizza, the Asian food, sandwich bar, and fish and chips. We also really enjoy the dining room menu and entertainment from the staff.
We really appreciate the layout of the 5th deck - where the Arcade is right down from the Babylon Casino. Our boys could play in the Arcade for 30 minutes while we gambled (that's all the time you need!) and then easily find us when they were done.
I think the Lido deck is great! Music, the big TV, hot tubs and the pools - always lively action. Once again - the kids area is located in close proximity to the adult pool which also has the 24 hour pizza bar. We could go to the adult pool and hot tub and our boys would come find us (they are allowed in the area - just not in the pool or hot tubs) and have pizza while we stayed in the water!
We also tried the adult-only Serenity deck - also really nice. There is nothing like sitting on the front of the ship in a big lounge chair, sipping on a pina colada and feeling like you are on top of the world!
Finally, my last two favorites were sitting in the sauna and steam room and looking out at the ocean - great views - and sitting on our balcony from our room cabin. Is a balcony worth it? I would say yes - I loved watching us dock from the balcony as well as just standing and looking out at night. It is amazing how vast and dark and amazing the ocean is at night.
Now for complaints - and just a few. I hate the buffet eggs - really just awful as well as the coffee. The Vienna Cafe is well worth the money if you are a coffee lover. My biggest concern was actually for the staff. All were very nice and pleasant and we have fond memories of our dining room staff in particular. However, Carnival (and I believe other lines as well) are really cutting their staff levels back and working them too hard. You can sense they are burned out and rightfully so. They have a hard time keeping up with many things - from filling your water glass, having time to talk to you or take your drink order in the dining room, or even getting your drink order while sitting on the Lido deck. I think Carnival needs to do a cost-benefit analysis and realize they are losing out on money by not staffing right. I know we would have purchased more drinks-of-the-day if we would have had servers come by more often.
As an overall review though - it was a great trip an we loved "A Ticket To Ride" - the Beatles tribute show. We also won a "Carnival Freedom" trophy playing trivia that is proudly displayed in our bookcase! Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Freedom Balcony Empress 7368
Very quiet and loved the balcony. Add the balcony however takes out space - making the ocean view a larger room for a family of four. I enjoyed the balcony enough the space trade off was OK. Go for the 7th floor as it is secluded from the noise of the Lido Deck.
Port and Shore Excursions
We also spend two hours at Jolly Beach. This beach was fine but not my favorite. The sand is very fine and the water is murky. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas and a restaurant located at the beach. However - I have never seen a more confusing place to order food or pay your bill and service was horribly slow. Food was way overpriced. I have to note that my husband did come away with his most prized possession of the trip - a rusty beer bucket with built in bottle opener that was labeled Dos Equis. He talked the wait staff into giving it to him!
The Sheraton Resort is beautiful and the kids loved it. They have a kids basketball court, giant slide on land, giant slide in water, beach toys, roped off beach areas, pools, hot tubs and you can rent umbrellas, chairs and jet skis. I rented a jet ski for 30 minutes for $50. Kind of expensive but gas is through the roof there. Food and drinks are high at the Sheraton. My husband bought 4 banana rum drinks - $45 with tip.
After staying at the Sheraton for a few hours we road the bus back to downtown and went the the Pirates Museum of Nassau. It is really well done - it is done by self-tour and has a lot of fascinating and factual information on the pirates of the day.
We ended our day at the famous Straw Market. This is really an interesting place. Conditions are not great - it is packed with merchandise and people - very hot and stuffy and the sellers are VERY aggressive. Sales tactics are similar to Jamaica or Cozumel. They do expect you to bargain with them and the ladies are selling very similar merchandise. We did get a few bargains and they have great straw hats.
Within a few feet of the beach - (up a small hill) is the Callwood Rum Distillery - a 400 year old working distillery. It looks very medieval and is the only original distillery in the British Virgin Islands that still operates. They sell four types of rum and give you four shots for $1.00! We split the shots amongst three of us! The rum is actually really good and we wish we had purchased more. You can't buy this stuff on the Internet!!
We then went to Brewer's Bay to snorkel. It was also a nice beach and we spotted a barracuda here. Finally, we ended up back in town and shopped at Pusser's Company Store as well the Caribbee Spice Shop. We also decided the Pusser's rum was really good as well - this is the traditional rum used by the British Navy 300 years ago. Pusser's Company Store has a great pub in the front and an upscale shop in the back with some unique items. I purchased some banana art from the Spice Shop as well as banana jam! We would have loved to stayed on Tortola longer!
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