I have been an avid reader of the boards and take the good with the bad when it comes to reviews. I just returned from cruising aboard the Carnival Freedom on a 6-day itinerary to the Caribbean. Here in short are some things that were good about this cruise. Please keep in mind that this is my opinion of this particular cruise and that anyone else, including you the reader may have a totally different opinion.
Embarkation was extremely smooth. We arrived around 9:30 a.m. breezed through security, checked in and were on board by 11:00 a.m. The staterooms were ready by 1:30p.m. as expected. My wife and I selected a Cat 4J room which is an interior room with a window; however this particular window has a view of an observation deck. For all intent and purpose, we kept the curtains closed the majority of the time aboard because from time to time there are people milling about on the deck and even though people say you can't see in, you can see in. At night, you're asked to keep the curtain closed because you are directly underneath the bridge and any light may interfere with navigation and with the lights on, you are totally visible to anyone outside. The room itself was quite small compared to an ocean view room. I enjoyed the fact it was quiet and would select this room again if I decide to cruise Carnival again on a 5 day or less cruise.
Now the things that gave me a moment of pause. First was the main dining room. On previous cruises the staff were on point with their guest. The dining room had an elegant feel to it back then. On this particular sailing it had the feel of a 'Local Restaurant'. There was nothing that stood out about classy or elegant dining here. The staff in the MDR seemed detached and uninterested. The food portions had shrunk to the size of an appetizer plate at 'Apple Bees' and lastly...the dress code is none existent. People came in wearing jeans, shorts, base ball caps and sneakers; even though it says 'Formal Dining Room cruise casual attire'. True you can't control what people decide to put on but why post it if you don't intend on enforcing it? Inside the Steak House was no better. There was a group in attendance that evening dressed as if they had left a ball game, and conducted themselves as if they were still in attendance of that game with loud and crude behavior.
The lido deck, I have to say was quite smoother than previous cruises. I have to give them credit for how things flowed. There seemed to be no waiting and the lines moved that were present moved quickly.
The ports of call were all nice. We got to Grand Cayman, grabbed a taxi to the beach and some rented some chairs and an umbrella, the total cost was about 40 bucks. Jamaica was nice too. The locals weren't as pushy as I had read on previous threads, maybe it depends on where you go.
In closing, I found the crew and entertainment to be bargain rate. The crew seemed to be tired and burdened by the presence of passengers. A hello was about all you would get and an acknowledgement by name was about as rare a find as a $2.00 bill. Brad the cruise director was lousy. On formal night where the Captain mills about the ship to mingle with passengers seemed as if he had better things to do. He strolled past a group of people without so much as a hello even though the passengers were eagerly waiting to greet him...No exaggeration...this is factual.
Maybe it was this particular cruise, or maybe it was me having higher expectations of my beloved Carnival Cruise Lines, but either way, it was enough to sway me from wanting to cruise Carnival for some time or any cruise line for that matter. Nothing spectacular...just six average days.