7 Carnival Freedom Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

INTRO. My wife and I read dozens of Cruise Critic Reviews before choosing our cruise line for our first cruise. Then, frankly, we chose Carnival because we decided we'd rather cruise home than fly home after spending two weeks in ... Read More
INTRO. My wife and I read dozens of Cruise Critic Reviews before choosing our cruise line for our first cruise. Then, frankly, we chose Carnival because we decided we'd rather cruise home than fly home after spending two weeks in Egypt—and the timing was perfect. It was a real learning experience, and certainly more fun and relaxing than flying. As recent retirees, we were not looking for a hot time—just a nice relaxing cruise, with some entertainment, good food, a nice quiet spot for a good martini, and the opportunity to meet some new folks. EMBARKATION. We spent a few days in Rome (this was our 3rd visit) with my sister before catching the cruise line scheduled bus from Rome to the port. This was clearly an expensive choice, but we wanted to make our first boarding as simple as possible. Everything worked out fine. We followed simple instructions to board the bus and the ship. The whole process from our Rome hotel to boarding Carnival Freedom was as easy as pie. Our luggage arrived piecemeal in our room just a few hours after we did. OUR CABIN. We had a balcony stateroom aft of midships on the 7th deck, and it was excellent. Once we discovered we could store our luggage under the bed, we had more than enough room. The dEcor was simple and pleasant. The bathroom was appropriately small, but very satisfactory; the shower was excellent. The room had a couch and chair, mirrors, a TV, and a small table. While there was not a lot of room on the balcony, there were two chairs and incredible views. It was worth the extra price to us to have the balcony. THE SHIP. Funny ship. The dEcor in the public areas, was, frankly, over-the-top. It wasn't ugly, and I guess it was supposed to be in keeping with Carnival's image of a fun ship. Patterns clashed everywhere and they were saved only by their muted colors. Lights changed colors or blinked on and off, themes were confusing, etc. Anyway, it made for conversation if not appreciation. The only real ugly thing was the 15-foot high plastic blue Statue of Liberty in the Freedom Restaurant, the ship's cafeteria. That and the dozens of disembodied plastic blue Statue of Liberty heads which provided light and decoration (?) throughout the restaurant. The ship was designed for smokers, which we did not like. Throughout most of the western nations, roughly only 1 person in 4 now smokes, yet five of the seven bars were smoking bars. Furthermore, when strolling through the promenade on deck 5, the only non-stateroom deck where one can transverse fore to aft, you had to pass by the smoke filled casino and inhale the smoke that drifted out of it. Also, on deck 4, in order to reach certain places, you had to pass through the Cuban Cigar Bar. Again, inhaling the smoke that was there. This was an irritant. They had a library, but it was very small. We went down on the second day to check it out and 95% of the books had already been checked out. They had only a few reference books on where we would be traveling and only one Atlas (used all time) which we would have liked to use to look up our route, etc. The fitness center was fine, and we used it nearly every day. There is a small 9-hole miniature golf course on deck 11, which we used almost every day at sea. I also used the basketball court a few times. And, I took a golf lesson. I've played a lot of golf and taken a lot of lessons, and I thought the pro was pretty good. DINING. This was the biggest disappointment for my wife and myself. On a 16 day trip, food takes on a greater significance. It is not that there were not plenty of options. It's just that we found all the options to be pretty mediocre, even accounting for the difficulty of preparing food for 3000 people. None of the restaurants would stay in business even 3 months in Albuquerque. There are 4 main restaurants. The Sun King is the $30 per person "fine dining" restaurant. My wife rated her lobster tail (a specialty) as B minus. My Sole Meuniere was over-done and way too buttery. The French Onion soup was good, desert was okay, and the service was excellent. We did not go back. We ate most of our dinners in one of the two "regular" restaurants, which are pretentiously named "Posh" and "Chic." That should have been our clue. The food was very inconsistent. The steak tended to be tasty, but tough and sometimes gristly. It was described by one person at our table as "strictly second tier." Some of the fish preparations, especially the salmon, and the tilapia on the first night, were very good, but most of the time they were dry, and twice, for me, really inedible. The pasta dishes, all cream based, were uninspiring. They had an option of steamed vegetables as a "side" every night, and all the folks at our table chose that as our main dish on several occasions. The menu showed little creativity. It was repetitive, pretentious and the chef apparently was unable to execute it. The deserts, especially the chocolate warming cake, were pretty good. One nice thing is that the stateroom TV's have a channel which provides the menu in the Posh and Chic each day. This was a big help to us. The Freedom Restaurant is a cafeteria. We generally ate there for breakfast and lunch. We found very few items that we liked in Freedom, other than the make-your-own salads. Breakfast was especially disappointing for my wife who found the omelets inedible for her (they tasted suspiciously like powdered eggs). The sausage was pretty good, but the ham tasted like shoe leather, the oatmeal was watery, potatoes tasted stale, and the skim milk was powdered. There were plenty of pastries, however, and fresh fruit—though it was not always ripe. We ate most of our lunches on deck 10, one deck above the buffet itself, as it was less crowded. There are lots of other options. There is a hamburger and hot dog grill. It was okay, but the hamburger meat was, again, second tier. Onion rings were usually very good; French fries were not. The pizza from the 24-hour pizzeria was sometimes good, sometimes, not. They were very skimpy with the marinara. The fish and chips were fried in a heavy batter, not our preferred preparation. It was pretty good if you got a good-sized chunk of fish, otherwise you might have batter only. The good thing is that you could go back and get more fish until you found some you liked. We live in the southwest, and we found the Mexican food to be quite lacking. Sandwiches from the deli were inconsistent; sometimes good, usually not so good. They also have two soft ice cream machines. These were great. Toppings were provided and they were available around the clock. Our assessment is that the kitchen staff, or deli staff, or whomever, did not know what much of the food was supposed to taste like. For example, the Reuben sandwich was often prepared with only a thin slice or two of corned beef, a big scoop of sauerkraut, and no discernible dressing at all. It is likely that the staff has never eaten a good Reuben sandwich. I have never seen one in Europe or Asia. Someone should have trained them, however. The Reuben is my example. We feel we could say the same thing about much of the food on board. SERVICE. This was great. Our stateroom attendant was from Romania, and she was very helpful and did an excellent job. The entire ship was kept clean throughout. Our waiter in Posh was fine. All the staff was helpful and friendly, most all the time. Carnival did an excellent job in this area. We rewarded them appropriately at the end of the trip, too. Another plus, the ship has a suggestion/comment box, and my wife and I placed a couple of items in the box. They were responded to each time. For example, I asked for a tour of the bridge as I had been a deck officer on many ships in the navy. We were accommodated almost immediately. My wife asked that the music be more relaxing in the Freedom Restaurant—and within a couple of days, it was. ENTERTAINMENT. We tended to go to bed before most of the late night entertainment, so we can't be of much help here. The one show we saw was fine. The interior was too light for the movie in the theater, however, and the actors were all misshapen due to the fact that the projection was a 16:9 ratio for a 4:3 movie (or vice versa, I forget). This was unconscionable. We did like some of the daytime entertainment, though; especially the chamber music trio. The bartenders everywhere made very good drinks, and they did not skimp on the alcohol. And, though we found a nice smoke-free spot for before dinner cocktails, we were unable to find a quiet, intimate, smoke-free location for a romantic interlude after dinner. The swimming pools are small, but nice. My wife got several good early morning workouts until others entered the pool. It is too small for more than three active people. The hot tubs were not hot enough for us. Finally, there are the hairy chest contests, bean bag tosses, trivia contests, etc., which go on all day long, and karaoke each night. SHORE EXCURSIONS. We went on the Carnival excursions. Mostly we did the 3 hour "City Tour" morning tours so that we could explore on our own in the afternoon. The excursions were generally okay, and the pattern fit our needs quite well. The only disappointing tour was the wrongly advertised "Charming Villages of Gran Canaria." This was mostly a bus ride. DISEMBARKATION. Was a snap. OTHER COMMENTS. We got tired of Carnival trying to sell us stuff all the time. Being prone to motion sickness, I was concerned about getting seasick, but I needn't have been. On the transatlantic crossing we had several days with 6 - 8 foot seas. While I could feel some movement, this ship was very steady. It is large, and it has stabilizers. There are laundry rooms on each deck. They are handy, but heavily used, and require lots of quarters. Even though our entire vacation was four weeks, because we could do laundry, we each made do very comfortably with a medium sized suitcase. This is a big ship and it is easy to get confused from time-to-time. Many folks were never sure when getting out of the elevators, whether they were going fore or aft. It is worth spending a couple of hours on the first day acquainting yourself with the ship as best as you can. A deck plan can be picked up on the 3rd deck near the atrium. I recommend bringing binoculars, as well as a camera. We used the binoculars quite often. They were great for checking out other ships at sea, for looking at coastlines, and to use coming into and leaving port. SUMMARY. Carnival tells you what is important to them. Carnival Capers (the daily plan-of-the-day) is "Your guide to fun." "Let the Fun begin." They will provide the fun for you and keep you entertained. The ship design tells you what the Carnival focus is, also. The library is tiny. Ergo, education and learning, "looking things up" is unimportant. The majority of the public rooms (other than the restaurants) are bars and the casino. And these are mostly smoking areas, at that. Their seminars tell you the Carnival focus. If shopping in foreign ports is your thing, well, Carnival provides seminars, materials, and lots of help. But if you are interested in learning more about the culture and history of the places you visit, you'd better bring along your own material. Carnival provides zero help in that regard. Enrichment is non-existent. And while there was lots of food, the quality of ingredients and preparation both have a lot of room for improvement. I understand that this is all about tastes. Carnival was simply not to our tastes. While I rate the Carnival Freedom experience a "3" overall, my wife would rate it a "2." We will be cruising again, but it is unlikely that it will be on a Carnival ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
This was our 12th cruise and our third on Carnival. I brought my wife and my 5 year old son. We had not been on Carnival for several years. We purchased 100 shares of stock in Carnival so we received a stateroom credit. We booked the ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise and our third on Carnival. I brought my wife and my 5 year old son. We had not been on Carnival for several years. We purchased 100 shares of stock in Carnival so we received a stateroom credit. We booked the penthouse for the transatlantic cruise from Miami to Rome--9 sea-days and 5 ports. This is my ideal cruise since I find it hard to explore a city/port stop in 7 or 8 hours which is how long the port stops seem to be. The itinerary was GREAT for me. Totally relaxing. Before the cruise we called Carnival's (CCL's)Bon Voyage Department 1-800-522-7648. and ordered a bottle of Rum and a bottle of Vodka delivered to our room--this is a little known option and had Carnival cocktails for the duration of the trip--we stoked our minifridge with guava, grapefruit or orange juice. Embarkation was disappointing. Since we had the penthouse we were designated VIP's. The designation proved to mean little if anything. The shore staff explained to us that there were three ships in port and Carnival had to rent Royal Caribbean's (RCL's)terminal. Lines were tedious--security line, then registration line then a line to get on the ship. It took three and a half hours to get on the ship. By contrast, our last RCL embarkation probably took 15 minutes and there were special lines for the VIP designation--It seems that CCL designates every 3rd cruiser a VIP. Although we had a separate VIP room it was crowded, hot, stuffy, there was no water and after the 3rd request from others I took it upon myself to go get water from the bathroom--tried to at least. The staff finally was embarrassed enough to get water 15 minutes later. The ship was delightful. Roomy, laid out well, clean and opulent. I read several comments about the gaudy interior but was not put off at all. I actually liked it! Our room was roomy although there was almost as much storage space as there was sitting room space. Wifely and I agreed that the could have eliminated a few closets and replaced them with another sitting area. I never could figure out to work the DVD player but the Satellite and daily movies were sufficient so we did not need it afterall. I took three bubble baths in the jacuzzi tub. Prior to this I think that the last time I luxuriated in a bath was over 25 years ago (I am a shower guy). The gym was well appointed. The equipment was new and there was ample cardio equipment (with built-in personal TV's that had a good variety of satellite channels throughout the cruise duration), machines, and freeweights. It was busy at the beginning but every day there were less and less people. Even at its busiest though I had little difficulty getting onto the cardio equipment. My wife signed up for unlimited pilates sessions et al and they gave those who attended 10 sessions an award at the end of the cruise. Lobby bar was nice and rarely if ever overcrowded. The highlight of the trip was housekeeping. Can't say enough good things about them: they were pleasant, unobtrusive, good with my boy, and make a variety of towel animals. My son could not wait to get back to the room every night to see what was waiting for him: a monkey, an elephant an eskimo etc...One constructive criticism. They were good about bringing ice once a day. But after I would repeatedly ask them for it on consecutive days one would think that they would have figured out that I needed ice more often. But no worries because all I had to do was call room service and they would bring me a big bucket. The roomservice was prompt but the menu was kind of limited. The best thing on the menu was the Reuben Sandwich My kid loved the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The bar staff was great. Never any lines, they were prompt and pleasant. I was displeased that we started and ended the cruise with no limes. There were no limes for the first two days nor for the last 4 days. The biggest disappointment was the dining room staff. We had the head waiter for the early seating. He had just transferred from another ship. He was inattentive, would forget to bring items and never learned anyone's name. Since the shrimp was generally warm--room temperature or better, one night I asked him to bring me my shrimp with ice cubes garnishing it--instead he brought me two orders of warm shrimp--no ice. I scooped it out of my water glass and did it myself. Bread was hard to come by after the initial round. And although I realize that the waiters can only serve the food as fast as it comes up the conveyor belt (we were on the second floor) service was slow. This was problematic because it was almost impossible to get a seat to the early entertainment show and unless one was in line at least half an hour before the show one risked not being able to sit with he family. Seats were REAL hard to get and fights were common due to people saving seats. Eventually we gave up and only went to the late shows which were fine--I understand that part of the problem was because the condensed dinner from 4 services to two services. The kitchen staff was simply overwhelmed. Certain other crew members also explained that it was a new kitchen crew, the other crew having just turned over to a whole new staff. Food was okay. Nothing great but not unpalatable. I would give it a 7 out of 10. It was unremarkable. I was surprised that there was no fire for the cherries jubilee or the baked Alaska. Upon query our waiter explained that the flames led to holes in the carpets which led to them being discontinued---all the flames were confined to the kitchen. The other dining option (not the formal sit-down one) was ok. The food in the Freedom Restaurant was not quite as good as my college dorm. However the food was plentiful and filling. Not great (at all) but not horrible. There was not much effort made deserts. Cheesecake, cake, jello etc...not much variety. Sushi was just okay too. It was unremarkable and we only had it once Room service was very good except on a few occasions--if you did not speak on the phone immediately then the person on the other end of the line promptly hung up. Entertainment was very good. The production shows were fantastic. There were plenty of high quality musicians providing live music. The Lido deck in particular the pool area was great. Never a shortage of chairs, pools were well maintained. The hot tubs were a perfect temp. Not too hot not too cold. Towel service was fine. The evening movies were great. Just like a drive-in. The cruise director, Todd, kind of whiny. Apparently we had a large group of people from Legendary Journey (LJ) on the ship. These people were apparently sold a poor bill of goods from the company and since there was little LJ staff on board they apparently took out their frustration on the crew (and each other during the early seating of the entertainment). Todd and Noortje (a blonde Valkyrie--and I mean that in a good way) have a morning show each day that is broadcast tot he staterooms. Anyway, on the few occasion we saw the show Todd was often disparaging the paying customers for being rude and hard on the staff. Had he not mentioned it on this very public forum I would never have been aware there was an issue. As it was it kind of made me feel bad for Todd for being a whiner, bad for the customers for there discontent, and bad for the staff for being (allegedly) abused. It is vacation. I do not want to feel bad at all. Todd should have not brought this problem public. He has some work to do in his public relations. Personally I think that when there are 9 sea days the ships crew is really put under a microscope and it would be easy to find fault if one was looking for it--I was not. Although there were plenty of activities, after 9 days they got kind of repetitive. There are only so many trivial pursuit questions one can answer before it gets tedious and only so many games of bingo one can play. The library met my needs. I got alot of pleasure reading done. Tours were fine. Purser desk was fine. In my limited interaction with them they seemed prompt, courteous, efficient and carried themselves well. Debarkation went smooth. We were off the ship promptly and were sent off with a nice breakfast (breakfasts were my favorite meal of the day). Overall I am satisfied with the cruise. I achieved my goal of totally relaxing. We got our money's worth and this is probably the only cruise line we would opt for a penthouse. Compared to other cruise lines this was a bargain. What can I say, the worst day cruising is still better than the best day working. For our next cruise we will probably try one of CCL's other higher-end lines. Kids program was great. Lobby bar was nice and rarely if ever overcrowded. The highlight of the trip was housekeeping. Can't say enough good things about them: they were pleasant, unobtrusive, good with my boy, and make a variety of towel animals. My son could not wait to get back to the room every night to see what was waiting for him: a monkey, an elephant an eskimo etc...One constructive criticism. They were good about bringing ice once a day. But after I would repeatedly ask them for it on consecutive days one would think that they would have figured out that I needed ice more often. But no worries because all I had to do was call room service and they would bring me a big bucket. The roomservice was prompt but the menu was kind of limited. The best thing on the menu was the Reuben Sandwich My kid loved the peanut butter & jelly sandwich. The bar staff was great. Never any lines, they were prompt and pleasant. I was displeased that we started and ended the cruise with no limes. There were no limes for the first two days nor for the last 4 days. The biggest disappointment was the dining room staff. We had the head waiter for the early seating. He had just transferred from another ship. He was inattentive, would forget to bring items and never learned anyone's name. Since the shrimp was generally warm--room temperature or better, one night I asked him to bring me my shrimp with ice cubes garnishing it--instead he brought me two orders of warm shrimp--no ice. I scooped it out of my water glass and did it myself. Bread was hard to come by after the initial round. And although I realize that the waiters can only serve the food as fast as it comes up the conveyor belt (we were on the second floor) service was slow. This was problematic because it was almost impossible to get a seat to the early entertainment show and unless one was in line at least half an hour before the show one risked not being able to sit with he family. Seats were REAL hard to get and fights were common due to people saving seats. Eventually we gave up and only went to the late shows which were fine--I understand that part of the problem was because the condensed dinner from 4 services to two services. The kitchen staff was simply overwhelmed. Certain other crew members also explained that it was a new kitchen crew, the other crew having just turned over to a whole new staff. Food was okay. Nothing great but not unpalatable. I would give it a 7 out of 10. It was unremarkable. I was surprised that there was no fire for the cherries jubilee or the baked Alaska. Upon query our waiter explained that the flames led to holes in the carpets which led to them being discontinued---all the flames were confined to the kitchen. The other dining option (not the formal sit-down one) was ok. The food in the Freedom Restaurant was not quite as good as my college dorm. However the food was plentiful and filling. Not great (at all) but not horrible. There was not much effort made deserts. Cheesecake, cake, jello etc...not much variety. Sushi was just okay too. It was unremarkable and we only had it once Room service was very good except on a few occasions--if you did not speak on the phone immediately then the person on the other end of the line promptly hung up. Entertainment was very good. The production shows were fantastic. There were plenty of high quality musicians providing live music. The Lido deck in particular the pool area was great. Never a shortage of chairs, pools were well maintained. The hot tubs were a perfect temp. Not too hot not too cold. Towel service was fine. The evening movies were great. Just like a drive-in. The cruise director, Todd, kind of whiny. Apparently we had a large group of people from Legendary Journey (LJ) on the ship. These people were apparently sold a poor bill of goods from the company and since there was little LJ staff on board they apparently took out their frustration on the crew (and each other during the early seating of the entertainment). Todd and Noortje (a blonde Valkyrie--and I mean that in a good way) have a morning show each day that is broadcast tot he staterooms. Anyway, on the few occasion we saw the show Todd was often disparaging the paying customers for being rude and hard on the staff. Had he not mentioned it on this very public forum I would never have been aware there was an issue. As it was it kind of made me feel bad for Todd for being a whiner, bad for the customers for there discontent, and bad for the staff for being (allegedly) abused. It is vacation. I do not want to feel bad at all. Todd should have not brought this problem public. He has some work to do in his public relations. Personally I think that when there are 9 sea days the ships crew is really put under a microscope and it would be easy to find fault if one was looking for it--I was not. Although there were plenty of activities, after 9 days they got kind of repetitive. There are only so many trivial pursuit questions one can answer before it gets tedious and only so many games of bingo one can play. The library met my needs. I got alot of pleasure reading done. Tours were fine. Purser desk was fine. In my limited interaction with them they seemed prompt, courteous, efficient and carried themselves well. Debarkation went smooth. We were off the ship promptly and were sent off with a nice breakfast (breakfasts were my favorite meal of the day). Overall I am satisfied with the cruise. I achieved my goal of totally relaxing. We got our money's worth and this is probably the only cruise line we would opt for a penthouse. Compared to other cruise lines this was a bargain. What can I say, the worst day cruising is still better than the best day working. For our next cruise we will probably try one of CCL's other higher-end lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
We were first time cruisers, and the Carnival Freedom was an excellent choice!! Staff The staff was friendly, accommodating and everywhere!! No need went unmet, they had a smile from day one to day fourteen. They attempted to get to know ... Read More
We were first time cruisers, and the Carnival Freedom was an excellent choice!! Staff The staff was friendly, accommodating and everywhere!! No need went unmet, they had a smile from day one to day fourteen. They attempted to get to know their guests on a personal level, and also made an effort to learn consistent dining and cabin habits. Food The wait staff was fantastic, friendly and entertaining. The Maitre'd was non existent for the entire 2 weeks, So we were a little unsure about why Carnival pressed for us to tip him extra. The food was good..at first, but became a bit repetitive after a few days. Themed nights would have been appreciated or at least a variety of meals other than beef and salmon. The sun King Supper club is fully worth the 30 dollars, as the food was outstanding, as well as the service. The porterhouse is a MUST. Entertainment Todd the cruise director and his fun crew were outstanding. They worked non stop to consistently and always had a smile. Todd himself worked to do everything possible to make sure guests were happy, and they ventured out to try new and exciting methods of entertainment (IE, murder mystery and horse racing). Noortje the assistant director, can be misunderstood because she comes from a different culture and appears quite serious and put off. However she truly is a wonderful person and fantastic at her job. Although first impressions were not good, she quickly grew on us. There are a variety of things to do on the ship, you cannot be bored unless you want to be. Trivia, casinos, games, shows, classes, there was an endless stream of activities. In fact we often forgot we were at sea Overall Overall for our first cruise and money spent this experience has exceeded all expectations. We were three of the youngest cruisers among a ship of 3000 senior travellers, and still had an excellent time. Many of the other guests had numerous complaints throughout the voyage but we found it to be a wonderful experience with great people and will definitely look to carnival for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date April 2008
BACKGROUND--My wife and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary we are both in our early 50's. TRAVEL TO PORT--We booked our own one way airfare via Aer Lingus...LAX to Dublin, Ireland and then on to Rome, Italy. We landed ... Read More
BACKGROUND--My wife and I were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary we are both in our early 50's. TRAVEL TO PORT--We booked our own one way airfare via Aer Lingus...LAX to Dublin, Ireland and then on to Rome, Italy. We landed Friday evening Oct. 26 and took a cab to our hotel...expensive but what are you going to do? HOTEL--We booked the Hotel Victoria online. A very nice hotel off of the Via Veneto. 10 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain, 10 minutes to the Spanish Steps and about a 20 minute walk to the Colosseum. STATEROOM--I initially booked a Inside Stateroom last October but we received an upgrade to 6A with a window...nice! Activities--We toured Ancient Rome on Saturday. It is a good idea to ride one of the hop on hop off buses. This way you can ride around to the major sites and save a lot of walking. We were able to see the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Plaza Navona, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps all in one day. On Sunday morning we walked down to the Trevi Fountain and took a lot of pictures with nary a person around then walked over to the Pantheon and walked right in @ 9:00 a.m. Back to the hotel to check out and take a cab to the Termini. We bought a one way ticket to the ship and then a 2 tickets to ride into Rome Monday morning returning in the afternoon. We boarded the ship with no line...reached our room and grabbed some lunch. What a beautiful ship! On Monday morning we returned to Rome and joined an english speaking tour of the Vatican Museums. We entered right at 10:00 a.m. when they opened and spent 3 1/2 hours in the museum then went straight over to St. Peter's Basilica. TIP...join a tour group to get into the Vatican Museums because the tour groups go in BEFORE anyone else that is waiting in line! It probably saved us 2-3 hours of having to stand in line. Our tour cost 80 euro for the tour and tour guide...well worth it! DINING--After the first night we switched from late seating to early seating. Our table was upstairs in the Chic. We were at a table for 4 and it was wonderful to share with Rich & Beverly from New Jersey. SERVICE--Was impeccable. Excellent attentive service. I used to be in the retail industry and watched how other people were being served and I can the attention to detail and service was exemplary. ENTERTAINMENT--The shows were good. I am pretty hard to please. They had one comedian who was not very good at all. The ventriloquist was fantastic. All in all good but not great. SHORE EXCURSIONS--We did our own thing in Rome. In Livorno we took Carnival's excursion to Tuscany. We had an excellent tour guide, born in Italy but spent 40 years in California. Needless to say her english was great and yet she knew her stuff. A great tour. We usually set out on our own but we did not want to take the chance being so far from the ship. MALAGA--we just walked off the ship and did some sightseeing...it was a holiday, All Saint's Day, and most of the stores were closed. MADEIRA--We walked off and rode the cable cars and then did some shopping. Summary--My wife got to see Italy I got the cruise...priceless. I thoroughly enjoyed the Transatlantic crossing and will certainly book this type of cruise again...excellent bang for the buck! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Transatlantic -Carnival Freedom - October 28 - November 11, 2007 Overall, this was a wonderful cruise on the Freedom. This was my fourth cruise, but the first time on a Carnival ship (in the past I've cruised with Holland America). ... Read More
Transatlantic -Carnival Freedom - October 28 - November 11, 2007 Overall, this was a wonderful cruise on the Freedom. This was my fourth cruise, but the first time on a Carnival ship (in the past I've cruised with Holland America). I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet many wonderful people (a number of whom were Cruise Critic members). THE SHIP: The Freedom was a huge ship. It was fairly new (about 6 months old). My inside stateroom (Category 4C) was on the Upper Deck, cabin 6219. It was close to the bow and on the 6th deck. The room was quite large (approx. 185 sq. ft.) with a very comfortable bed (two twin beds pushed together) with lovely linens, etc. There was plenty of closet and storage space and even if there had been two people in the cabin, there would have been lots of closet space. The bathroom was a decent size (no tub; just a shower) with lots of room to put away toiletries, etc. The towels were plush and the bathrobe was very comfortable. There was a desk/vanity and chair, a flat screen tv and a refrigerator. There was one electrical outlet in the bathroom and one above the desk. A fairly decent hairdryer was in the top drawer under the desk. All in all, it was a very comfortable room. The sound proofing was very good and I rarely heard my neighbors. A few feet down the hall from my cabin was a door that led out to a small deck overlooking the bow of the ship. So, even though I was in an inside cabin, I always had the opportunity to step outside which was really nice. There was a small laundry area on each deck with coin operated washers and dryers and irons/ironing boards. They were always very busy. Just a note - the laundry rooms were closed on port days. The dEcor of the ship was very loud with bright colors, lots of lighting, etc. At first it seemed quite garish, but I got used to it very quickly and never gave it another thought. There was a large atrium (Millennium) in the center of the ship that went all the way from 2nd deck to 10th deck. At the top of the ship was the Camp Carnival area and the entrance to the water slide. Below that was the deck that contained the Gym and the Spa. The gym was located at the very front of the ship and had walls of glass. The gym had lots of modern equipment and it was always busy. I found the gym to be a bit small for such a large ship. As well, it had a stale, sweaty smell that was very unpleasant and so I never use the gym facilities. Next to the gym was a sauna and steam room. I never used the spa facilities nor the hair salon, however, it always seemed busy (especially on "formal night" days). Also on this level (at the rear of the ship) was the sports area and a jogging track. The track was 9 laps to a mile long and always busy with runners and walkers out getting their exercise. When the winds exceeded 40 km/h the jogging track was closed for safety reasons. As well, the track could get quite slippery after it rained. The sports area included a basketball court, a volleyball court, and a miniature golf course. There were 3 pools and 5 large hot tubs. When the pools were open, they were very popular. The surrounding decks were always full of people relaxing on deck chairs, etc. Above the main pool area on the Lido Deck was a large outdoor theatre screen. There were movies and concerts playing on the screen throughout the day and evening. Because the outdoor area was so large, it never felt overly crowded. There were lots of deck chairs and tables/chairs surrounding the pools. Aft of the large screen was the Sun King Restaurant. And near the back of the ship was the Fish & Chips Restaurant. Inside the Lido Deck was the Freedom Restaurant and Grand Buffet. There were stations on each side of the ship including a deli area on the port side and an oriental stir fry area on the starboard side. Although it was always busy, I never had a problem finding a place to sit. Outside the Freedom Restaurant at the very back of the ship was another outdoor pool (adults only) and an area with deck chairs, tables/chairs, etc. When the weather was good, the retractable roof was kept open. The Pizzeria and Grille were in this area. And there was soft serve ice cream or yogurt station with toppings, etc. at the very, very back of this deck. This back deck area and the Fish & Chips restaurant above were the best (and least crowded) places to have lunch. The Veranda, Empress and Upper Decks all contain only passenger cabins. On the Promenade Deck was where to find the upper level of the Victoriana Lounge, the shops, the Casino and various bars/lounges. The shops were typical and, for the most part, fairly expensive. The Casino was a decent size and always busy. Unfortunately they allow smoking in the Casino, so I rarely went in there. There were a number of different bars and lounges and a disco and karaoke area, etc. On the Atlantic Deck was the mezzanine level of the Victoriana Lounge and a very small Internet area with a dozen computers. The internet area was an afterthought and located in a cramped area off of the Habana Bar (a cigar bar). The smell of smoke was revolting and I refused to go through the bar to reach the internet area. (Carnival missed out on a couple of hundred dollars of my money because of this.) Also on this deck was the photo shop, the smallest library ever seen (it was pretty much useless) and the upper level of the Chic Restaurant and the upper level of the Posh Restaurant. The last deck with public rooms was the Lobby Deck. The mail level of the Victoriana Lounge (were the daily bingo and other games and evening shows took place) was large and was very comfortable, but tended to be quite warm. The sight lines, sound system, lighting, etc. were all fine, with just a few seats blocked by pillars. The Chic and Posh Restaurants were large, well lit, well laid out, etc. I was sitting at a table for 8 on the top level of the Chic Restaurant (6:15 pm; main seating). The table was always beautifully set with nice linens, crystal, china, silver, etc. The Posh Restaurant was similar, except it was at the very back of the ship and had lots of windows. I never ate in the Sun King Restaurant, but everyone I spoke with who ate there really enjoyed themselves. I gather the food and service were exceptional. The front office, shore excursions office, Purser's Desk, the Art Gallery, etc. were also found on the Lobby Deck. There was an outside promenade area on each side of the ship for walking, etc., but the two sides were not connected, so that meant you couldn't walk a circuit under a bit of cover. The atrium area on the Lobby Deck was always very busy. There was musical entertainment throughout the day and evening and a large dance floor. As well, there was a nice bar area for drinks before dinner. The infirmary was on the "0" deck and was very well equipped and prepared for pretty much any type of emergency. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate and there were lots of elevators and staircases and wide hallways, etc. Therefore, it never felt overly crowded. For the able-bodied, the ship was great. For those with mobility issues, there seemed to be good access to all the public spaces, with room for wheelchairs, walkers, etc. There were some bottleneck areas near the elevators in the atrium, and also near the entrance to the dining rooms. THE PASSENGERS: Not so typical of Carnival, the majority of passengers were older. I believe the average age was about 68. About three-quarters of the passengers were from the United States and about one-quarter from Canada and elsewhere. I think there were about 2,900 passengers on board. Overall, I found the people on board to be friendly and kind. However, there was a large travel group (850 people) of seniors from Florida who spent the entire cruise whining and complaining about everything possible. They were the most miserable people to be around and I avoided them as much as possible. Unfortunately, every morning that I had breakfast in the dining room, I was seated with a bunch of these people. I couldn't eat fast enough to get away from them. CREW and CUISINE and ENTERTAINMENT: I found all the crew members I dealt with to be friendly and professional. My cabin steward was amazing. The front office staff were always very helpful. The dining room staff were terrific and overall my dining experience was great. And I must say, our Maitre 'd was hot! The bar/lounge staff were very good. The cruise director (Todd Wittmer) and his staff were fun and energetic. Unlike previous cruises, the crew were from all over the world (I believe there were 47 countries represented). I thought the food on board the ship was very good. Every evening I got to try new things, or have items I haven't thought to cook in years. The presentation was good and the food was usually hot when it arrived at the table. The food in the Lido was also very good. I enjoyed all the variety of foods... a much larger selection than what I was expecting. I ate most of my breakfasts in the Posh Restaurant and most of my lunches in the Lido Buffet. I went to about half of the shows in the Victoriana Lounge. The staff singers and dancers were very good and the 3 shows that they put on were excellent. I particularly liked the tribute to the Beatles called "Ticket to Ride". The rest of the shows were geared to an older audience and so I was not all that interested in most of them. The same goes for the musicians playing in the bars/lounges throughout the ship. Their music was stuff I wasn't interested in. Fine for the older folks, but not so great for me. We did have 2 late-night deck parties up on the Lido Deck that were great fun. Good music, lots of dancing, etc. There was a talent show one evening that was surprisingly good and the "Legends" show was great fun. I hope the fellow who did "Garth Brooks" eventually gets a record deal. His own music was great. PRE-CRUISE AND EMBARKATION: This cruise left from Civitavecchia, Italy. I flew to London, UK on the day before the cruise and spent the night at the Holiday Inn, Gatwick. It was a typical Holiday Inn hotel... clean, comfortable, well situated, etc. It was great to be able to have a shower and a couple of hours of sleep after the long, long flight over the Atlantic (from the west coast of Canada via Manchester, UK). I flew into Rome on the day of embarkation. From the airport it was an easy train ride to Rome Termini station and from there I caught the train to Civitavecchia. The trip cost €15.50 (from the airport to the pier) and took about 30 minutes into Rome and 90 minutes to the pier. There was a train that leaves at 38 minutes past the hour that ends in Civitavecchia (with stops in between). It usually leaves from track 27 or 28 (which is at the very end of the terminal, so a bit of a long walk, but no stairs involved). Once at the station in Civitavecchia it was a 10 minute walk to the pier and with only one piece of luggage to pull behind me, it was fairly easy (again, no stairs involved). There was a shuttle bus to take passengers from the pier entrance to the ship. Embarkation was similar to what I've experienced in the past at other ports. I had entered all my information online before hand, and it took about 5 minutes to check in. It would have been even faster, except for the jerk who pushed me aside so that he and his wife could check-in before me. (He was typical of so many passengers on this cruise.) PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS: For this cruise I decided to do Rome and Florence on my own. I had been there in the past and so I just concentrated on certain museums that I wanted to see. I booked Carnival Shore Excursions in both Malaga and Funchal. Civitavecchia, Italy I traveled into Rome with someone I'd met through Cruise Critic. We caught the early train at 8:02 am and traveled to S. Pietro station. I bought a BIRG ticket which cost €9 and was good for train travel both ways and also the subway/buses in Rome. We arrived in Rome around 9:15 am and walked to St. Peter's. There was a special mass/ceremony taking place that day, so St. Peter's was closed until after 1:30 pm. The line-up for the Vatican Museums was about 3 hours long at 9:30 am. So, I didn't get to see the two places I have hoped to visit. Thankfully, I've seen them both before. Instead, we wandered about the city and saw lots of other sights. I caught the train back to Civitavecchia and was back on board by 3 pm. The ship left port at 7 pm and we sailed slowly up the coast to Livorno. Livorno, Italy In order to make life easy I signed up for the "Florence on Your Own" tour offered by Carnival. We were picked-up at the pier by a bus and traveled about an two and a half hours to Florence (the traffic was bad with many delays). We had a running commentary from our guide and were given a city map, which was very helpful. We were dropped of near S. Croce at 11 am and were on our own for the rest of the day. From the drop-off point I was able to walk around the city, do a tour of the Uffizi Gallery (I had prepaid for my ticket online about 4 weeks before traveling), and tour the city some more. We met back at S. Croce at 4 pm and boarded the bus for the return trip to Livorno. Malaga, Spain Carnival's excursion here was called "Mijas & Ojen". This was a half-day bus trip along the coast and then up into the mountains. We spent about an hour in Mijas, which was a delightful little town built on a mountainside with the most amazing view of the Mediterranean. Then we drove along narrow, winding mountain roads to Ojen. Again, this was a beautiful town on the side of a mountain. We stopped for a short wine tasting and wander around, and then made our way back to the coast and to the ship. Since the day we were in Malaga was a national holiday and many businesses were closed, this seemed like a good choice of shore excursion. I certainly enjoyed the scenery, etc. Funchal, Madeira Carnival's excursion here was called "Best of the West". Madeira was amazing and we saw so much incredible scenery on this all-day bus tour. We drove along the coast and up into the mountains and stopped at a few small towns, etc. We had a very nice lunch at a restaurant along the coast and eventually made our way back to the ship. It was about a 7-8 hour tour, but with so much to see, the time flew by. Madeira has made my list of places to return to in the future to explore further. We had 9 "sea days", which was quite different from most cruises. We had a sea day between Livorno, Italy and Malaga, Spain. And another sea day between Malaga and the island of Madeira. And then we had 7 days at sea before we docked at Miami. I found the sea days to be very relaxing. The weather was hot and sunny, so I was able to be out on deck quite a bit walking or just sitting and reading a book, etc. There were lots of activities planned throughout the day, so there was never any chance to become bored. Some of my favorite activities were the arts & crafts classes in the early morning and the trivia contests held throughout the day. Miami, Florida I decided to book a transfer to the airport through Carnival once I was on board the ship. I figured it would be less stressful and less expensive than trying to get a taxi by myself, etc. after disembarking. I boarded the bus at 9:30 am. and the trip to the airport took about 30 minutes (we had to wait until the bus was full). Miami International Airport was insanely busy. The line-up at the American Airlines counter near where the buses drop off passengers was many hundreds of people long. Instead of getting in line, I walked further through the terminal to Concourse D and found an American Airlines ticket counter that wasn't busy. It only took 20 minutes to check in, drop off my luggage and get through security. I spoke with some people on my flight who waited 2 hours in line-ups! I had originally thought to take a 3-hour Miami city tour before my flight, but the people at Carnival's shore excursion desk said not to take the chance because of the notorious long waits at the airport. DISEMBARKATION: Disembarkation was very smooth. Because my flight was not until after 2 pm I was in group 18. We were called to leave the ship around 9:30 am. The first people off the ship left around 7 am. Once off the ship, we had to clear customs and then pick-up our luggage at carousels and then walk a short distance to the bus to the airport. It was so hard to say good-bye to the ship...I certainly wasn't prepared to leave. FINAL COMMENT: I truly had the most wonderful cruise vacation on board the Freedom. It was good to be able to combine the fun of a Western Mediterranean cruise with the relaxing atmosphere of a transatlantic cruise. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I'm seriously thinking of booking the same cruise for next year (with an Eastern Mediterranean cruise at the beginning). I've never done a back-to-back cruise before, but I'm keen to experience 28 days on board the Freedom! Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
You know where I'm coming from by the title. If you liked the Carnival Freedom on the 10/28 transatlantic, you won't like this review. We booked our tour a tour company which was very reasonably priced, and although their ... Read More
You know where I'm coming from by the title. If you liked the Carnival Freedom on the 10/28 transatlantic, you won't like this review. We booked our tour a tour company which was very reasonably priced, and although their excursions didn't always work out as planned, we thought they were a decent value. That may have been the problem with this cruise. It was priced reasonably enough that travel bums like us could afford it. There's something to be said for not buying cheap cruises. I'm guessin' here, but the pricier the cruise, the classier the clientele. We flew out of Tampa on Delta, making connections via Cincinnati and Rome and then by bus to Montecatini (near Florence) for 4 days at the Montecatini Manzoni hotel, which included breakfast and dinner each night. Not the best flight/transfer arrangement but when you pay cheap, you get cheap. The bus ride from Rome to Montecatini took 6 hours with traffic and stops and that doesn't count sitting on the bus for almost an hour before we left Rome. Oh well. We arrived in Montecatini in the rain and after dark. Then following the tour guide's directions, we got lost, couldn't find the hotel but then we did find a delightful 'evening market' and directions to the hotel. We went right in, dinner was waiting and by the time we finished dinner, our bags had arrived at our room. Excellent start! While in Montecatini, we took our tour company tour of the major museums and plazas in Florence, did our own thing by train to Lucca and likewise Montecatini Alto. We had a great time and would return to Montecatini in a flash. It's a great location in the heart of Tuscany and near all the major Tuscan attractions. We never had less than wonderful food and delicious wines ... even the house wines in restaurants were fabulous. In Florence, we had a great tour guide, saw the major attractions albeit quickly and after 5 or 6 hours of walking, managed to find the bus and get back to the hotel. Then instead just a bus transfer to the ship, we took another tour company bus tour/transfer that took us from Montecatini to Rome and then to the ship in Civitavecchia. This trip turned out to be more long bus ride than touring but we did get a very well done 2 hour walking tour of the Coliseum and forum ruins. We arrived at the ship about 5:30pm just in time for the early dinner seating in the Posh Dining Room on deck 3. A clue to what the cruise would be like occurred right after we boarded the bus. Two old men in the back seats about 4 rows behind us almost got into fisticuffs over the seating arrangements. This is at 7am yet! Amazingly, after all the planes, trains and buses, our bags came through as expected. Then the fun began. The very next day we took another tour company bus tour to Pompeii (from Civitavecchia). After 6 hours on the bus we arrived at Pompeii and ultimately had about 45 minutes of walking tour in the ruins including lunch. Then back on the bus for a 3+ hour return to the ship. This tour was just too ambitious for the age and life style of the people booking it. First the bus had to stop ¼ mile from the ship to let off a couple that were already sick. Then 15 minutes later we had to stop at a roadside reststop/gas station because another passenger was ill. Then we managed to find a traffic jam on the expressway that killed at least 30 minutes. After that we had the scheduled pit stop that was supposed to be 20 minutes that ended up being 50 minutes because of long lines at the ladies restroom. You get the picture ... On top of that, the two old ladies sitting in front of us did nothing but complain both going and coming about one thing or another. Mostly they complained at the driver and the people across the aisle because the A/C was too cold or too loud. They finally succeeded in getting the air turned down when someone from the back of the bus came forward and complained to the driver about the lack of A/C in the back ... yeesh. How can two old ladies assume that they should control the A/C for a busload of 70 people? Put on a sweater! Then, in Pompeii, our tour guide was getting hammered with so many stupid questions by these rude and obnoxious and apparently half deaf geezers that she ended up in tears. One guy harangued her for 10 minutes because her cell phone interrupted her spiel. It wasn't a personal call. It was the bus driver telling her where to meet the bus. No wonder we're known as the ugly Americans. I have never met so many rude, crude and socially obnoxious people in my life as there were on this ship. I think the main reason for this is that the ship is just too small for the number of cabins and the number of people on board. The chow lines were always crowded, there were long lines at dinner, never enough seats at the shows and on top of that the ship is sick .... Three quarters of the people on board were hacking, sneezing and coughing. We made it until Friday when my wife came down with the worst cold of her life, spending the last two days in bed. I finally got it on Sunday as we disembarked. Now a week later we're still hacking up wads of green stuff. I thought we were avoiding all of this by booking with a group of cruising sailors. Cruising sailors are for the most part younger and at least more vigorous. Apparently though the sailing group wasn't kept together and separate from the rest of the Legendary people or for that matter the rest of the Carnival bookings. After we left Rome we stopped in Livorno. We were told that there's nothing worth seeing there and we should book a tour. We ignored this advice and walked to town from the ship and even though it was a rainy day we had a wonderful time just shopping, touring the cathedral and having lunch. It's really quite an interesting little city. OK, we passed on going to Pisa and missed seeing the leaner but we avoided another bus ride with snotty tourists. Then after the roughest day at sea of the entire trip, the ship stopped in Malaga, Spain. A big low pressure system centered just off the coast from Livorno kicked up huge short choppy seas. The ship handled it well though and while the motion made walking difficult for the geezers, it wasn't bad at all. Again we toured Malaga on our own, climbing to the top of the old fort and wandering down to the Picasso Museum, with shopping and lunch along the way. After another day at sea, we stopped in Funchal, Madeira which we again toured on our own. Interesting place. We would love to come back here and spend some time, what a wonderful island. We took the cable car to the top of the mountain and toured the botanical gardens. Of course, shopping in town and stopping for lunch was part of the deal. This part of the trip was wonderful. Then things changed. After Funchal, we were basically stuck on the ship for the next week. When the itinerary was sail one day and stop in a new port one day, the ship didn't seem so awful. With everyone on different schedules it didn't seem so crowded. It was when we had to live on the thing for a week with a boatload of troglodytes that she showed her colors. The outdoor theater is a joke, you can't see the screen in daylight and the sound system is worthless in the open air. The pools are too small, the hot tubs too few and always occupied by beached whales. Likewise the pool decks; you'd have to go to watch a walrus migration to see that much blubber in one place. 'Keep your shirt ON!' Plus whenever I walked the deck to get my laps in there was the stink of sewer gas emanating from the pool area. I don't know if the treatment system vents were near there or if it was the raw fat in the pool and hot tubs. Like wise the gym was always packed. Why do people want to walk on a treadmill when there's a beautiful, sunny, breezy day for walking the deck? Maybe the sewer gas drove them inside. The layout of this ship sucks. (not to mention the shlocky dEcor). It's like living in a 3 dimensional cartoon maze. Oh sure, a couple of decks allow you to traverse the length of the ship from end to end (maybe the 6th or Upper Deck is the only one?) but that's it. There's no where to walk laps under cover except the narrow hallway between the 6th deck cabins. You won't need to use the stair stepper in the gym, finding your way around will get you plenty of knee bending. Forget the elevators unless you like being crammed in among wads of fat. By the way, the dEcor was somewhere south of the Jetson's meet Scooby Doo for lunch at Bern's of Tampa but with all the other problems, you can overlook the spooky, light-blue, floating, liberty-head lights in the mostly copper-toned cafeteria. To get to the internet cafe you must pass through the cigar bar that spans an entire deck from side to side and stinks to high heaven. I will never get on another ship unless it is entirely non-smoking. Even walking down the corridors, the stench of cigarette smoke was over-powering in places. Once you get into the internet cafe, you get the privilege of spending $25 for 20 minutes of email. OK, we're on a ship, doing high speed internet over satellite, I know that can't be cheap but get real. Carnival needs to drop the price of internet connectivity and get more workstations on the boat ... maybe replace the cigar bar with an internet bar? And cut the price to $.50/minute? Given the other entertainment on board they'd probably keep the lounge filled. They do offer various plans starting at $100 for some number of minutes but I didn't plan to spend $25 the whole trip. You can get high speed internet at home for under $20 month with unlimited minutes and I could even understand paying $50 for a week's unlimited access but this is ridiculous. Thank heavens there were very few kids on board but they were replaced by their fat, obnoxious grandparents. I never heard so much intolerance and bitching in my life. After a while I refused to get in a chow line with these 'people'. I got tired of being elbowed out of the buffet line by some obese old lady. Food. The food was acceptable, I think, but could stand a bit more variety. The breakfast line was the same everyday with no variation, as was lunch. For variety you had to try one of the smaller lines like the stir-fry, deli or fish fry. The pizza bar was the only place you could get something to eat after hours. Excellent pizza I thought. The deli did a good job in spite of the demanding passengers who just couldn't order straight from the menu but had to have it their way.... "gimme a Rueben but hold the Thousand Island, use spicy brown mustard instead and no swiss, use cheddar cheese on white bread" ... with nary a please nor thank-you. I guess this is Starbucks-it is. The longer it takes to order a coffee, the bigger the jerk. The Fish Fry Bar was ok but the fish was doughy and greasy. The ceviche was good though and while the fries needed help, my wife judged the calamari good. The seared tuna on watermelon was good too. Near the Lido pool deck was a Tandoori Bar that had a few tasty items also although nothing in particular stands out. Dinners were excellent. Good if pricey wine selections (that ran out of some labels toward the end of the cruise) good but not the best steaks. The shrimp was ok. The extra cost SunKing Restaurant was also very good. We ate there once and it cost us an extra $100 for two of us including the wine. The level of service and the friendliness of the staff made dining a pleasure. The same could be said for Posh even though it was a very crowded and noisy dining room. The staff also was most accommodating. When my wife was sick and couldn't come down to dinner our server made up a plate for me to take back to the room (usually she just wanted soup but that was nice). We booked and traveled with a group of cruising sailors but our tour company let us down a bit there. We thought we would be traveling, touring, dining with folks from this group but that was not to be. We were just lumped in with all the other tour customers and so while we were at a table with a cruising couple that we know (we had asked for that seating) the other 4 were non-sailors. It turned out that they were very nice and made pleasant dining companions. It just wasn't what we expected. Also being sailors, it would have been nice on a transatlantic, to have a briefing by the captain or another officer about our planned course. We'd be curious about such details as the pilotage charts for that time of year, weather considerations, currents, etc. I even submitted a request for such through the Purser's Desk suggestion box and got back a prompt reply that no such briefing would be forthcoming. Oh well, it turns out that he did the Columbus course. That is, we ran south to the approximate latitude of Northeast Providence Channel (26N more or less) and steered due west. Not much sophistication there. The cabins were very nice I thought. We had an inside cabin on deck 6 (6321) about 6 or 8 cabins aft of the glass elevators on the starboard side. This is just a little forward of mid ships and with the inside cabin we never really felt all that much motion. The cabins are quite large and well thought out. We never had a problem with anything except a lack of hot water one morning. The head/shower compartment is very well engineered and efficient. The steward service was acceptable except that we got the invite to the CC Meet & Greet the day after the event. Also note that the bottle of water provided by the steward costs about $4 ... we chose to avoid drinking the ship's water although it's probably safe. The big production shows were very good. They had an excellent band and fine group of young people doing the dancing and singing. The theater is crowded however and with all the hacking and sneezing, we probably should have avoided it. We enjoyed listening to the Mozart trio that played in the main lobby and other spots throughout the cruise. On the first formal night (also Halloween) we did enjoy the only dancing we found in the 70's lounge. After that we never did hit the right time, music, or lounge for us. Most of the music seemed to be older 30s and 40s era stuff. We'd have preferred more 60s and 70s. Here's a couple of tips that worked for us. We took a backpack on shore excursions to carry things like water bottles, umbrellas, snacks, camera, etc but also to carry souvenirs and gifts back to the ship. We never had an issue with bringing a couple of bottles of wine on board. We also pre-purchased drink coupons at 4 coupons for $19.95. That buys 4 drinks or a bottle of wine (give or take) at dinner including gratuity. The best buy, if you drink beer, was to swap one coupon for a Fosters 25 ounce keg. Usually the waiters just accepted a coupon but a few made me sign for the $.81 difference. Usually my evening Manhattan would cost $1.50 or so over the coupon. But overall, NEVER AGAIN!, Certainly never again on Carnival and maybe never again on any cruise ship. If this was typical of the clientele and conditions, you can have it. 7 days at sea with a joke for a library and nothing to do is not my cup o' tea. I'm glad we came with our own reading materials and supplies of crossword puzzles, etc. Oh there was something on the schedule every minute. Usually a trivia contest, bingo, or some other 'activity' ... I suppose the idea is to get people into the casino, the art auction, the photo shop or the jewelry store. They have about half a deck dedicated to the photo shop. Even their 'free' movie selections were stupid. I suppose I should have paid $8.95 each to see their pay-per-view movies, haven't these people heard of Netflix? As it was, I dropped another $600 on our sail & sign account mostly on wine and booze. Hey, it made my fellow passengers easier to get along with. We're still sick now a week later. There were so many people sick on the boat that they ran out of Sudafed! There's just too many ways to catch something when you're crowded into a boat for that long a period of time with so many slobs. We were scrupulous about hand washing and using the wipes at every opportunity but still we caught a nasty something. On top of that, we often found the hand wipe dispensers to be empty or jammed or just missing. It's just not worth the risk. In normal circumstances, my wife and I are very healthy. As near as we can tell, the last time we had a cold anywhere near this bad was 1976. Now the news is all about AD14 the latest version of an old cold virus that has killed 3 or 4 people since being identified earlier this year. Maybe it's the closeness of the ship or the crowding but people were just not holding their gas for a private toot in the head. Many times we'd be walking a hallway or be in an elevator and you'd swear somebody just dumped a load in the corner. This was especially true right in front of the jewelry store. We felt like we were living in an assisted-living home for the aged that had run out of diapers. I know Carnival doesn't get to choose the clientele but this cruise was overloaded with blue-hairs and last-gaspers. Oh Yeah, the chocolate covered strawberries at the 'crap-u-chino bar' were excellent at $3 for 5 strawberries. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Rome as part of the Carnival cruise air package. Having been to Italy before, was not surprised at the utter confusion at the airport. Transported by bus to the port and waited at least one hour at ... Read More
Arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Rome as part of the Carnival cruise air package. Having been to Italy before, was not surprised at the utter confusion at the airport. Transported by bus to the port and waited at least one hour at embarkation facility before the Carnival staff arrived. There again confusion reigned. The actual embarkation processing was painless and soon we were aboard the ship. A very impressive, large, and unique ship to say the least. I learned to like the spaceship-like lighting used throughout the ship. It pulsated with different intensities, glowed in various colors, and seemed like it was of another world. It actually made the entire ship seem alive. We had a balcony room which was fairly roomy, well appointed, and comfortable. Plenty of storage space. As other reviewers have mentioned, the ship deck layout is just plain bad. It takes about two weeks to fully understand where you are, want to go and how to get there. Too bad most of you will be on a one week cruise. Was disappointed with the quality of tour guides used in the shore excursions arranged for by Carnival. Also, Cruise Director Todd Wittmer has a ways to go before I rate him as "Exceeding my expectations". Good luck with your girlfriend Todd, we hope your personal life works out. The quality and variety of food was disappointing. It seemed like the food staff strived hard to make each meal exceptionally ordinary. It's too bad that during six days at sea, the highlight of daytime cruise entertainment was a continuing series of trivia games. On the plus side, the stage musical productions were high energy, well staged and well done. Well enough for now, I've got to get busy booking another cruise. p.s., Don't bother expecting any camera bargains on this ship. You can do better at Circuit City. Read Less
Sail Date October 2007
Carnival Freedom Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 3.0 4.0
Family 5.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.0 4.3
Value For Money 5.0 4.2
Rates 5.0 4.3

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