As one who believes that there's almost no such thing as a bad cruise, I must say that this one came dangerously close. Inconsistent food quality and consistently hideous decor were the worst offenders. They could have ruined this cruise, had it not been for great ports of call, wonderfully-produced shows, and and some of the best dining companions I've had on any cruise. Also, the Freedom's crew was, in most cases, as friendly and professional as any I've encountered.
First, the interior decor: the Freedom was one of the last Carnival vessels designed by ship architect Joe Farcus, who has since moved on. To that last part I would say thank goodness, as his creative well appears to have run dry with the Freedom. If you're interested, Farcus, in a video clip (http://www.carnival.com/cms/fun/joe_farcus/ship_architect.aspx), explains his inspirations for the design. To me, the main inspiration was to see how many clashing colors, incompatible patterns, and tacky decorative elements could be crammed into one ship. At this he succeeded.
The most glaring example of this is in the buffet venue, the Freedom Restaurant, where one cannot escape the stares from fiberglass heads of Lady Liberty, which line almost every wall in the room. I soon lost count of the number of clashing patterns here, but if you walked in wearing checked socks, plaid shorts, a striped shirt, and a paisley cap, some passengers might mistake you for the decor.
In the past, I've been pleased with the fare on Carnival, and thought it compared favorably with other lines I've sailed. Unfortunately, that quality seems to be slipping. On two successive nights in the main dining room, I did not finish my entree (tasteless Chateaubriand one night, tough and chewy filet mignon the next). On other occasions, entrees arrived at the table either cold or lukewarm. In addition, we suffered from haphazard service throughout the cruise.
On the positive side, I am glad to see Carnival adding more dining choices (Indian food and a stir-fry station) at lunch time in order to disperse the noonday crowds.
One word about the main dining room: Carnival, please enforce the dress codes, especially on formal nights. I don't want to go to the trouble of dressing up, only to be seated next to a table of people in shorts and flip flops. I can understand that some people don't want to dress up under any circumstances. To those people, one word... buffet.
The Freedom had a nice variety of music, and two of the shows, "The Big Easy" and "Ticket to Ride", were the best productions I've seen on a cruise ship.
What's to say? The Freedom, like most cruise ships, had an interesting mix of people, including some riff-raff. That said, I was fortunate in having some great table-mates. Thanks to them, what could have been a disappointing trip turned out to be a good cruise.
Having sailed with Carnival four times before, I am quite familiar with the line's bold decor. Most of the time, it works. On the Freedom, it doesn't. However, should you be one who longs for the psychedelic days of the '60s and '70s, your ship has come in.