I have been on 4 NCL cruises, 4 Carnival and 1 Princess cruise. Our favorite cruise up until now - hands down - was the Carnival Glory.The Glory cruise director, Wee Jimmy, and entertainment (April 2006) was still the best I've ever experienced. If I could find another cruise with Wee Jimmy, Fat Cat (comedian) and Justin Illusion (illusionist), I'd book it in a heart beat! They've set the bar pretty high! The Freedom and Glory are now very close or tied.
The Freedom is a great ship - sister ship to the Glory. On the Glory, our cabin was above the disco - so I quickly learned to pay more attention to that. I guess I got lucky all the times before. This time, we were on Deck 8 with only cabins above and below. Much better. There was a greater variety of entertainment on the Freedom than any of my previous cruises. Every night there were comedians (Fat Cat was still my favorite) in the lounge - which was a great option. The shows were ok - we saw Jump, Jive and Wail which was entertaining, but not my favorite. We thoroughly enjoyed the option of the big outdoor movie screen - and that surprised me. Each night they showed two very good movies. It was wonderful to lay out on a deck chair in the warm breeze and watch a movie. I enjoyed that so much that I am specifically including that in my wish list for my next cruise. We enjoyed the deck parties on the first day and 5th night. And formal night is always fun.
The food was great - no complaints about the quality. The chocolate melting cake is SOOOOO good! The lines were very long for breakfast. I think they could re-organize it to get people through quicker. We ate in the dining room one morning and enjoyed that very much. The mongolian wok at lunch was amazing - but the line was long and slow. It'd be great if they added another station since it's so popular. The chocolate buffet was also fantastic! Our wait staff, led by Alberto (Costa Rica) and Mary (Peru) were great! They really took care of us all week.
I've seen negative reviews of the Freedom's Cruise Director. I think Brad and his assistant, Dan, were GREAT! Very entertaining and very helpful. I did encounter two RUDE RUDE staff members. The woman at the Future Cruise desk was so rude that I did not book my next cruise while on board as I had planned to. She missed out on the commission - as she should. The guy in the gift shop selling booze was also very rude and condescending. We avoided him at all costs. It's the first time I've ever encountered unpleasant crew members.
My teenagers LOVED the Freedom. I loved the Freedom. And my first time cruisers are planning to cruise with us again. Love Carnival.