It Is What It Is!!!
We just got back from an eight day cruise on the Carnival Freedom. I have to start this review with a great thanks to Cruise Critic. A special thanks to Rebecca (Ready To Travel 44) who got us (Go Bucks, Dr. Mark, Steve 2SLU, Saucy 1212, Sol Lover, YL Cruiser, and the ones I missed) all together on the Cruise Critic board. We met some really great people on Cruise Critic. The folks gave us some very good information about the ship, activities on the island and activities on the ship. I strongly recommend reading the reviews of the ship and the islands that are on Cruise Critic. The information we have received have made our vacation much easier and stress free.
We drove from Kansas City. We stayed in Atlanta, Jacksonville and on to Ft. Lauderdale. We used the review on Cruise Critic to help us with pre-travel arrangements. In Ft. Lauderdale we stayed and parked at the Rodeway Inn and Suites at 2440 West State Road 84. The hotel is located about two miles from the port. This hotel was clean but not very good on giving information. We were not told to sign up for the shuttle so we waited about an hour to get to the port. The shuttle driver was not very helpful. We had to put our luggage in the van. I would not recommend the hotel if it wasn't so close and wasn't an additional cost to park the car. Once we arrived at the port the whole process took about one hour. We were on the ship around 11:30. We went straight to the Lido deck for lunch and went to the room around 1 to put down our overnight bags. The best embarkation we have ever had on Carnival.
I booked late so we had a cabin on the Rivera deck, 2207, in the forward area. Every time the ship dropped anchor the cabin vibrated. If the ship docked early in the morning the cabin vibrates several times. I was awakened on docking days by the cabin vibrating. It was better than an alarm clock on docking days. It also happen when the anchors were being lifted. Our cabin steward was wonderful. He kept the cabin clean and was very pleasant every morning. The cabin had a fridge and if I had been thinking I would told him to take all the ship items out of the fridge. I needed the room for the sodas and water we brought. I simply refuse to pay $3.75 for a can of Coke. We brought 6 cans of Coke for $2.00 at Wally World.
DEcor..... UMMM I come back to the dEcor. I'm going to have to think hard so I can positive remarks.
We had table 265 in Chic Upper. This was the first time we didn't sit by a window. I need the window. The service was so slow. We understood because of cut backs, the dining room staff had more tables than they could handle adequately. Our dining time lasted 90 minutes or more. Our staff was trying very hard but the service was awful. They apologized every night. We started telling the head waiter the day before what we were going to eat as starters so he could have it ready. That didn't work, every night he would look at us with a blank stare. We even started stacking our salad and appetizer dishes to help them clear the table faster. We decided since they were trying we would work with them instead of changing dining rooms. Toward the end of the cruise we worked just as hard to plan our meals as they to bring our meals. While we waited I spent my time trying to understand the dEcor in the dining room. The room was covered with red snakeskin on the ceiling and walls. It just became funny. The food was Carnival food. It wasn't bad. The Lido deck buffet was well run. I never stood in line for more than five minutes. Even on sea days the lines moved very well. On dock days the anchoring woke us with the cabin vibrating so we would go to breakfast early.
The shows were pretty good. The first show The Big Easy was about the music of New Orleans. The next show was Jump, Jive and Wail, I don't remember it very well. The Motown show with Mark Anthony was awesome. His show was very audience input. He was so smooth and gorgeous. The best show of all the shows was the Beatles show. The female singer Heather was on the Dream last year. She is a tiny thing with a BIG voice. She truly overpowers the male singer. The other entertainment was so so. The comedians were either too raunchy or just too busy picking with the audience. The evening entertainment was just dull. We only stayed up to eat the mid night snack buffet. They had the best shrimp salad I have ever tasted. Most nights we were in bed by 11. Not good on a cruise. I was Aretha Franklin in the Legends show and that was fun. The dancers were so nice and patient with us non-performers. Mindy from Topeka is the entertainment director, and she was awesome. She made everyone feel welcome and comfortable.
The food was better than on other Carnival cruises. The buffet lines for breakfast were not that long. We just got up around 8 and rarely had to wait more than ten minutes and that was for the omelets. If you don't want to wait in line, eat breakfast around 7:30 or 8 and eat lunch around 2. The buffet wasn't so bad. The lines can get pretty long at peak times. The Mexican buffet was good with different foods. The food in the dining room is a little better that other cruises. We really missed the elegant mid night buffets. I do understand why cruise lines stopped the buffet, since all I ever did at the mid night buffet was take pictures.
Way too many people for me! Thank goodness for Serenity, the adult spa area. I took my magazines and sat and read on both days. It was so cool to hear what was going on the deck but not have to participate in the activities. So we just read and ate and enjoyed the relaxation. The activities on the Carnival Freedom just suck! Even the ship deck parties were just going through the motions. The staff just seemed as if they had done it a million times and this was just one more time. I really believe that this crew was together too long. They just didn't have the same spark we saw on previous cruises. They just didn't seem organized and didn't really care if the passengers were having fun or not. After all they have a captive audience; you are out in the middle of the ocean, where are you going if you don't like the activities.
The G-sons enjoyed Circle C club. Last year on the Carnival Dream the Circle C club stayed open all day. This club was only open a couple of hours in the afternoon and about three hours in the evening. The director was always frantic. The kids stated that he didn't bother to get to know the kids. The guys stated that kids would come for the free stuff and it wouldn't be enough for the regular kids. They met new friends and enjoyed their time on cruise.
UMMMM! The dEcor was really something. I can't tell you about the dEcor. I guess Stevie Wonder did the decorating on another Carnival ship. It is ghastly! It was psychedelic straight from the 70's. There was snakeskin on the wall in the Chic dining room. There really wasn't a definite color scheme. It was just a royal mess.
We had about a three hour wait to leave the ship. We didn't care. We ate a hardy breakfast and enjoyed revisiting the photo shop and taking pic we missed when we came aboard. Our baggage number was one of the last to be called. So we truly got all eight days. We traveled on to Cocoa Beach FL and the Ron Jon Resort. If you have the opportunity to visit the resort you will fall in love with it immediately.
Overall it is what it is! Carnival is Carnival! The best time we have ever had on a Carnival ship was on the Liberty. The Dream came in a close second. The Freedom was just a relaxing time without a lot of expectations. We are actually booking another Carnival cruise going to Jamaica. It is what it is! Did I mention that the Statue of Liberty is electric blue! Only on Carnival!
Being from landlocked Missouri we live for the Caribbean beaches. OMG!!! This time we had the best time on the islands. The water was super clear and warm.