This was our 1st time with Carnival. A group of 9 of us who have cruised before went together. We mainly chose Carnival because it went to Costa Rica and Panama. Normally we hit the islands. Overall the cruise was not bad, but here are some highs and some lows.
First off, the food in the dining room at night was the best we have ever had. Combine that with a fantastic wait staff all around from the maitre de to the water boy and it was great. The maitre de was very entertaining and had his own little "ciao for now" expression everyone loved repeating. The deserts were lack luster anywhere on the ship. The buffet had limited selection and was kind of boring by day 3. There is a Sandwich shop though that is excellent. There is also a fish and chip buffet that is very over rated and not good at all. The buffets seemed understaffed and you were usually sitting down to and dirty table.
The Cabin steward, Octavio was great and always went way out of his way to say hello and check in on us. The cruise director and all his staff didn't really seem to enjoy themselves and it seemed very much like a job for them as opposed to the high spirited upbeat staff we are used to. Even the people who cruised on the ship seemed like W's.
The gym is very small and a little hard to find because you have to go through the shower room to get there. Once there the shades are drawn so you are forced to look at curtains rather than the ocean. We had to stand and wait 20 minutes to be able to use any machine.
There was a Beetles show that was very good and lived up to the hype, but the rest of the "big band" nights got boring. The overall entertainment, including comedy was just OK. So all in all there was not much FUN on the fun ship and it was our running joke. If you would like to take a cruise on a budget, this is for you. If you want to be wined and dined, stick with Royal; that's what we will do from here on out.
Costa Rica was awesome. The rain forest tour at VERAUGUA was great and the people are fantastic. We got an excursion for 9 people from J.J. Tours. Save yourself some money and go with JJ he is professional, honest and funny. JJ took very good care of us and if you like him, buy him a beer and he will be your friend! We had 9 in our party so he gave a friend her excursion for free- he said she was his cousin too, but only said that when he thought someone was attractive.
So we had fun because we were with friends and family, but the Carnival Freedom was sub-par. Drinks were over priced and anything additional was a heavy fee. One other strange thing you will find on this ship is that all the bathrooms are hidden. It takes a day or two to find the few bathrooms on the ship.