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Cruising is all about managing your expectations. We had never cruised with Carnival before, and only had Princess, Norwegian, and Cunard to compare with. From what I had read in prior reviews, I wasn't expecting to be over impressed with this trip. HOWEVER, that being said, Carnival was just fine in all major departments . Nothing either above or below average. Embarkation was a breeze, but we were staying in a suite and had priority boarding. I have only cruised at the level, so I don't know how boarding is otherwise. Overall it looked like everyone was moving along quite well. Disembarkation went very smooth as well. The Carnival system seemed to work a little better than other's I have experienced. The ship, while we saw efforts to maintain, does show some wear. But think about it, 3000 people, 365 days a year....it's going to wear out. For the most part, everything appeared clean, and in good working order. Our Suite (7242) had ample space with tons of closet and storage space. I think it may be more akin to a balcony room on other lines, rather than a suite. We were in an Ocean Suite, but booked a Grand Suite for my daughter, son in law, and grand daughter. They had tons of room as well, with great arrangements for traveling with a little one (5). They really appreciated to extra room. I feel that there Grand Suite was more like the suites I have experienced on other lines. Regardless we all enjoyed enough space for the duration of the cruise. The décor is odd, and I just don't have words to describe it. Unlike any other line I've sailed with. Not totally distasteful, but not very cheery either. I fount the MDR to be dark in my opinion. Speaking of dining rooms.....The food on Carnival was much the same as other lines. When you are cooking for 3000 it's difficult to capture every ones delight. Everything I tried in the MDR was editable...soups were plenty warm, and main course was still warm. Breakfast seemed better in selection than dinner, Enjoyed the Eggs Benedict of the Seaday Brunch. Pastries were also above average, as were deserts. Portions were large enough for even the more robust appetites. We dined at the steakhouse one night, found the steak to be very good and the sides appropriate. Not sure it's worth $35.00 additional, but maybe. Everyone at our table tried a different steak and all were cooked as ordered, meat was tender, and had a good flavor. The buffets offer so many choices, most were fair to good, with a few items (cornmeal breaded chicken - for one) moving out of the good and coming close to really good. The Pizza was always a hit, very consistent, as was the Deli. The breakfast burritos from Blue Iguana were really quite good as well. (How do you mess up scrambled eggs in a tortilla?) Mongolian Wok was decent, and the soft serve a great alternative to the pre made deserts. All in all, I give the food a 7 ...no one lost weight...or went hungry. One note, the morning room service lacks a little. We always order room service on days we have excursions, limited to cereal and pastries...continental breakfast on Carnival. The ship has tons of stuff going on. You can choose to participate, spectate, or just veg in your own space. My grand daughter loved Camp Ocean and it appeared to be well run. We took in a couple of shows...ok but not outstanding....Scotts Piano Bar is a fun place to hang out, along with Red Frog....or just take in the action in the Atrium. With 3 and 4 generations of people all traveling together, I think Carnival did a pretty good job of capturing entertainment for everyone group. I tried the Spa for a facial. The facility was clean and the operators friendly. Nice facial as well! No high pitched sales...but I did buy a product from them. Overall service was quite good. Everyone was attentive and address us by name. All of the staff we had interactions were pleasant and easy to communicate with. We canceled our Atlantis Excursion, because the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy. Turned out to be only chilly but sunny. We found a private glass bottom boat offering at the port and decided to take it. My granddaughter loved feeding the fish and seeing under the water. It was a little chilly on the water, but overall a nice tour for $35.00 (kids free) adventure. We did the old town hop on hop off tour in Key West. Not so sure about this...here's how it went for us. There was a line to board the "trolley" that stretched down the street, around the corner and three blocks down was the trolley. We opted to walk to the place we wanted to grab lunch, and catch a trolley at a later point. We went to Blue Heaven (Key Lime Pie is their claim to fame) had lunch and then caught a trolley later along the way. We got on at stop 6 I think and rode to the end or starting point again, with out getting off. The trip is slow, we were afraid we wouldn't be able to get back to the Southern Most Point if we stayed on the trolley and had to wait for the next one (and hope it had seats) to get back. We took a golf cart taxi instead...shot over to the SMP...did the photos (around the line, as there was a line about a block long to take a picture with the marker). The trolley passes on great information, but takes quite a bit of time. You can hop off, but you have to hope for a seat being available to "hop" back on. Very Busy...I think I would investigate some other way to tour Key West. We planned nothing for Freeport, just checked out the market place at the port, and took advantage of the empty ship!. This trip was a birthday celebration for me, my daughter, and grand daughter. We really had fun, and spent some quality time together, something that's hard to find with everyone's busy schedules. I've done some comparisons and think that Carnival might not be a bad option for quick cruises. You get what you pay for...manage your expectations, and it all works out fine. I knew before getting on the ship that they offer no special perks for their suite passengers (no private breakfast area, no private entrance to MDR, no butler, no stocked mini fridge, of free use of spa areas, no invitation to meet the captain or attend private functions, no daily treats brought to your room, no comp bottle of champagne at sail away, (so we brought our own!) no full menu room service, etc. etc.) but the price for two on a seven day cruise was about 30% less expensive. It's just a matter of what you want and what is important to you. All in All I would consider Carnival again, if planning a cruise. Convenient it is out of Galveston, less that 30 miles from home!

Met Expectations

Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by TX Sailor 47

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Cruising is all about managing your expectations. We had never cruised with Carnival before, and only had Princess, Norwegian, and Cunard to compare with. From what I had read in prior reviews, I wasn't expecting to be over impressed with this trip. HOWEVER, that being said, Carnival was just fine in all major departments . Nothing either above or below average.

Embarkation was a breeze, but we were staying in a suite and had priority boarding. I have only cruised at the level, so I don't know how boarding is otherwise. Overall it looked like everyone was moving along quite well. Disembarkation went very smooth as well. The Carnival system seemed to work a little better than other's I have experienced.

The ship, while we saw efforts to maintain, does show some wear. But think about it, 3000 people, 365 days a year....it's going to wear out. For the most part, everything appeared clean, and in good working order.

Our Suite (7242) had ample space with tons of closet and storage space. I think it may be more akin to a balcony room on other lines, rather than a suite. We were in an Ocean Suite, but booked a Grand Suite for my daughter, son in law, and grand daughter. They had tons of room as well, with great arrangements for traveling with a little one (5). They really appreciated to extra room. I feel that there Grand Suite was more like the suites I have experienced on other lines. Regardless we all enjoyed enough space for the duration of the cruise. The décor is odd, and I just don't have words to describe it. Unlike any other line I've sailed with. Not totally distasteful, but not very cheery either. I fount the MDR to be dark in my opinion.

Speaking of dining rooms.....The food on Carnival was much the same as other lines. When you are cooking for 3000 it's difficult to capture every ones delight. Everything I tried in the MDR was editable...soups were plenty warm, and main course was still warm. Breakfast seemed better in selection than dinner, Enjoyed the Eggs Benedict of the Seaday Brunch. Pastries were also above average, as were deserts. Portions were large enough for even the more robust appetites. We dined at the steakhouse one night, found the steak to be very good and the sides appropriate. Not sure it's worth $35.00 additional, but maybe. Everyone at our table tried a different steak and all were cooked as ordered, meat was tender, and had a good flavor.

The buffets offer so many choices, most were fair to good, with a few items (cornmeal breaded chicken - for one) moving out of the good and coming close to really good. The Pizza was always a hit, very consistent, as was the Deli. The breakfast burritos from Blue Iguana were really quite good as well. (How do you mess up scrambled eggs in a tortilla?) Mongolian Wok was decent, and the soft serve a great alternative to the pre made deserts. All in all, I give the food a 7 ...no one lost weight...or went hungry.

One note, the morning room service lacks a little. We always order room service on days we have excursions, limited to cereal and pastries...continental breakfast on Carnival.

The ship has tons of stuff going on. You can choose to participate, spectate, or just veg in your own space. My grand daughter loved Camp Ocean and it appeared to be well run. We took in a couple of shows...ok but not outstanding....Scotts Piano Bar is a fun place to hang out, along with Red Frog....or just take in the action in the Atrium. With 3 and 4 generations of people all traveling together, I think Carnival did a pretty good job of capturing entertainment for everyone group. I tried the Spa for a facial. The facility was clean and the operators friendly. Nice facial as well! No high pitched sales...but I did buy a product from them.

Overall service was quite good. Everyone was attentive and address us by name. All of the staff we had interactions were pleasant and easy to communicate with.

We canceled our Atlantis Excursion, because the weather was supposed to be cold and rainy. Turned out to be only chilly but sunny. We found a private glass bottom boat offering at the port and decided to take it. My granddaughter loved feeding the fish and seeing under the water. It was a little chilly on the water, but overall a nice tour for $35.00 (kids free) adventure. We did the old town hop on hop off tour in Key West. Not so sure about this...here's how it went for us. There was a line to board the "trolley" that stretched down the street, around the corner and three blocks down was the trolley. We opted to walk to the place we wanted to grab lunch, and catch a trolley at a later point. We went to Blue Heaven (Key Lime Pie is their claim to fame) had lunch and then caught a trolley later along the way. We got on at stop 6 I think and rode to the end or starting point again, with out getting off. The trip is slow, we were afraid we wouldn't be able to get back to the Southern Most Point if we stayed on the trolley and had to wait for the next one (and hope it had seats) to get back. We took a golf cart taxi instead...shot over to the SMP...did the photos (around the line, as there was a line about a block long to take a picture with the marker). The trolley passes on great information, but takes quite a bit of time. You can hop off, but you have to hope for a seat being available to "hop" back on. Very Busy...I think I would investigate some other way to tour Key West. We planned nothing for Freeport, just checked out the market place at the port, and took advantage of the empty ship!.

This trip was a birthday celebration for me, my daughter, and grand daughter. We really had fun, and spent some quality time together, something that's hard to find with everyone's busy schedules.

I've done some comparisons and think that Carnival might not be a bad option for quick cruises. You get what you pay for...manage your expectations, and it all works out fine. I knew before getting on the ship that they offer no special perks for their suite passengers (no private breakfast area, no private entrance to MDR, no butler, no stocked mini fridge, of free use of spa areas, no invitation to meet the captain or attend private functions, no daily treats brought to your room, no comp bottle of champagne at sail away, (so we brought our own!) no full menu room service, etc. etc.) but the price for two on a seven day cruise was about 30% less expensive. It's just a matter of what you want and what is important to you. All in All I would consider Carnival again, if planning a cruise. Convenient it is out of Galveston, less that 30 miles from home!
TX Sailor 47’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
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Cabin Review

Ocean Suite
Cabin OS 7242
The cabin was a little small by comparison to other suites I have sailed in. However, the area was well appointed, and plenty roomy for my husband and I. There was more than enough storage for two people, two closets, plenty of shelves and drawers. The room was ready upon embarkation and our luggage beat us to the room! (one of the perks, priority luggage handling). The bath was stocked with bath supplies, and plenty of great white, absorbent towels. The only hitch is the little dressing room area isn't hardly wide enough for two to pass. You have to step out of the way so the door can open, and close. The tub is small to some I have used in suites, but functional. Mostly shower anyway. The décor is non descript...just cruise ship décor. Not very bright and cheery, but not ugly either. Odd colors for a ship to me...rust, gold and cream shades.
The cabin worked fine for us. Our Steward Ivan was spectacular! They give you the option of how often you want your room made up...we can do without the turn down, and only selected AM. I like this, and it worked out just fine for us. Ivan was a great ambassador for Carnival!
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Freeport
    We didn't plan a tour for Freeport. We investigated the market at the port and got back on board to enjoy an empty ship
    View All 1,354 Freeport Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Trolley Tour
    So the tour is good, but the orchestration of it is poor. The line was 3 blocks long to get on the trolley when we got off the ship...waited in line for about 15 min and decided to tray an alternate plan. We walked to Blue Heaven and had lunch then got on a trolley further down the line. We had to wait for two in order to find 5 seats on one trolley. I think we got on at stop 5 or 6 maybe 7....we rode the end of the tour but didn't think we could start over and still make it back to the ship on time as we wanted to stop at the Southern Most Point, and feared we wouldn't be able to get on the trolley to get back. We scored a golf cart taxi and got him to take us to the SMP and wait while we grabbed a few quick pictures. There was a line at the marker about a block long. We just took our pictures in between people. If I returned, I think I might hire one of these carts to take me on a private tour. Good information, but not well managed for the time it takes to travel the island.
    View All 147 Trolley Tour Reviews
  • Nassau
    We originally had booked the day at Atlantis, but when the weather forecast called for cold and rainy, we cancelled it. With a price of 189.00 each...we wanted to enjoy it! The weather turned out to be sunny but still on the chilly side. We got off the boat and found a glass bottom boat tour right there at the port. We decided to take it. It was fun...about 2 hours. My grand daughter loved feeding the fish and looking under the water. Well worth the 35.00 per person...kids free. Finished that and went for lunch at Sharkeez for Conch! Very Good
    View All 5,973 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
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