Wife and I stayed at the Hilton garden inn cruise port/airport hotel in dania ,beach fl. the day before our cruise. We had breakfastthe day of the cruise at burger king next door. For 10 dollars a person we used the hotel shuttle to port everglades to cruise on the carnival freedom. Nice hotel, we will stay here for our next cruise out of ft. Lauderdale. The cruise was our 7 th cruise with Carnival since 1999.
Freedom was a great name for this cruise because that is the way we felt during this vacation.
Starting with our cabin 1051 on the panorama deck, the balcony view was great for taking pics when coming into a port, Plenty of storage space in the closet and under the bed for 3 full suitcases. The room attendant cleaned out the mini-fridge so we could store our soda and liquor supplies. The room along with the bathroom was big enough for DW and I to share on this cruise. We cruised on the Conquest last year and having the Serenity adult only retreat available on this cruise was a added plus, as we areearly risers we were able to use a lot of the ships facilities without felling rushed or crowded.
The DW and I really enjoyed the food on this cruise.
Took a taxi tour of st. maarten around the island which made for a fun day. The next day DW and I took the st. kitts scenic railroad tour around the island, this was a very fun and informative way to spend a day on st kitt. The next day was at san juan ,we just walked around downtown in and out of several stores before stopping in the Sheraton for a little casino time. Last but not least grand turk was probably DW favorite stop. Took a taxi tour of this small island, then went to the beach bar were DW and I shared a plate full of jerk pork prepared outside of the bar, GREAT DISH!!.
As on past cruises DW and I met and hung out with several of our fellow cruisers. Bruno and Brenda we really had a great time with you guys. DW and I had so much FUN on this cruise, Thanks CARNIVAL for another great vacation. Another carnival cruise in 2017 lord willing.
Only a few issues to mention.
I am not one to complain and have loved cruising on Carnival since 1977 on the Mardi Gras. 30 plus cruises on Carnival. Diamond cruiser for the last year on Carnival.
We were on the Empress deck on the Carnival Freedom, a Balcony cabintoo close to the back of the ship by the elevators. The room never got cool and the air conditioner just was not able to cool that area of the ship. Our friends across the hall on the inside also had the same issue. Normally my wife is complaining that i like it too cold when we go to bed. we were both sleeping on the bed with no covers and were hot.
Called maintenance and they said there was nothing they could do. Not a good area to book if your going on theFreedom and like it cool. I had to get some budget work done for work and the internet connection was so slow it was unbeliveable they could charge for this service. Carnival you might want to make the white cards with diamond shapes on the card. you mightalso want to give your diamond passengers unlimited internet access. You can keep the chocolate covered strawberrys and little gifts and laundry service. Give the passengers what they could really use and need.
just my opinion from Chris Reynolds folio number 7887 freedom sailing 11/16/13. looking forward to the Glory 3/2/2014
Pros and Cons of the Freedom: Having been on over 35 cruises, this was without question the fastest and easiest embarkation process I've ever seen. We arrived earlier than our 1:30 scheduled time, yet walked through the terminal and never had to wait for anything. They had at least 20 agents open to process people and the whole thing took less than 15 minutes.
PRO: We had an Aft Extended Balcony Cabin (7445) and it was wonderful! There are 3 windows for great viewing, a HUGE balcony with 2 lounge chairs, 3 chairs and a table. Spent a lot of time out there!
PRO: Great food in the Posh Restaurant (Traditional seating). All beef was excellent, which isn't always the case on ships, seafood, fish, pasta and appetizers wonderful and the Chocolate Melting Cake a delight.
CON: The SunKing Steakhouse was disappointing. Having had the best meal ever on the Legend a few years ago, we were not as excited this time. We both ordered Surf and Turf and later talked to each other and found that our lobster was undercooked. We should have commented on it at the time. The service fora specialty restaurant was not the best - things forgotten, served to the wrong person, etc. Not really worth the $35.00.
CON: The pools are all VERY small and are really "dunking" pools, not swimming pools. One cannot swim more than 4 or 5 strokes and are at a wall. They are also salt water, which is fine with me, but others seemed to mind that. I must say I haven't seen a saltwater pool since the Norway in the early 90's.
CON: The entire ship's decor seems to be 1970's orange, brown, gold, yellow, with no variations in color. It was a difficult ship to figure out as there are "blind spots" and no real visual changes to orient oneself. It seems to be "cut up" with walls,mirrors, turns, no "landmarks" in your head to orient yourself. That in itself might prevent me from sailing that class of ship again.
CON: The entire ship seems "dark" inside. We were in the sunny, bright Caribbean and the decor did not lend itself to that airy, light feeling.
PRO: The staff and crew were helpful, cheerful, accommodating in every area. Room service in the a.m. was prompt and every order correct. Room steward was efficient and gracious. Dining room staff was excellent.
THE PORTS: We called on St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua and Nassau. Each port has it's own charm and flavor and we enjoyed them all. Bought some jewelry in St. Thomas, local things on the other islands, and each island is what one makes of it. If you go outside of the terminals and into the towns and beaches, your experience will be greater.
We did go to the hypnotist show which was as predictable as they all are, albeit entertaining. The passenger talent show was fun - always one woman who HAS to sing "Crazy". Cruise Director, Brad Calabrese, must have been a student of Johnny Carson as his timing and quick witted replies are refreshing.
PRO: Debarkation: Casual morning as you don't have to be out of your cabin until 8:30. You can also get room service on the last morning, which doesn't happen on all ships. Nice breakfast on the Lido Deck, waited for number to be called. No lines to speak of onboard, small area to look for luggage, a bit of a wait for customs and immigration, but all in all, quite efficient. We were at our hotel by 10:15 a.m.
Again, there's no such thing as a "bad cruise" and we had a ball. Just wanted to put those things out to you.
Just want to thank you ahead of time for reading my review. I will not talk about the ports because I didn't do any excursions due to the extremely high prices, so this review is all about the ship.
Embarkation We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 12 and there was already a line. After waiting in line for about 15 minutes since we were earlier then most people, the line had already grown to about 65m long at 5 people wide. Getting onto the boat took about an hour in total and there were weave lines after weave lines, but they did move fairly quickly.
Food The Main Diningroom had a good choice of food and desserts. The Dining staff were not as friendly as I would have liked, but they weren't rude. Just felt like they didn't want to be there. My recommendation would be to order the baby back ribs on the first and last night of the cruise. They were the best ribs I've ever had and you can cut them with your fork!! Both dining rooms are really nice, but if you do not likerumbling then request the posh dining room in the middle of the ship. Both dining rooms offer the same food.
The buffet food was O.K but there was not a large selection. The layout is confusing as there are 3 buffet lines throughout the cafeteria. In the main lines there was a great salad selection but the hot food selection was limited to 5 items and 1 was a sauce.
THE BEST THING ABOUT THE FOOD IS THE DELI BAR ON THE SIDE OF THE BUFFET. IT OFFERS AMAZING SANDWICHES THAT ARE GRILLED ON A PANINI PRESS. MY FAVOURITE WAS TURKEY ON A COUNTRY ROLL WHICH THEY LOADED WITH ABOUT $5 WORTH OF FRESH TURKEY.
The Ship The ship has pretty good amenities but the pools in the middle of the lido deck are small and always packed. The waterslide is great and you can really get some speed on it. There are tons of spots to tan, and if you are self-conscious there is a secret tanning spot that you have to go through the basketball court to get to. The basketball court and mini putting are great and not too busy, only problem is you have to walk to the front of the lido deck to sign out a basketball or putters. The show lounge was nice and big, and offered seating for everyone. The main floor had long bench style seating with plenty of walking room and tables. The second and third level offers love seats and single movie theater style chairs.
Entertainment The entertainment put on by the dancers I found to be really fake. There was one amazing show involving music from the Beatles, can't remember what it was called but it was the best by far. The cruise had two comedians each doing comedy at the show and then adult over 18 comedy the next day in the International Lounge. The lounge might be the worst laid out lounge ever and is always packed for the comedians. You can't walk end to end when everyone is sitting down. One of the nights also featured a great ventriloquist.
Activities This is where I thought the cruise lacked the most. The activity sheet was full but most of the entries were promoting a bar opening for example. 9:00 am Sports bar opens. Each day only had maybe 10 activities. Battle of the Sexes I was really looking forward to as on RCL it is pool game fun, but on Carnival it is boring trivia on the lido deck. There was no belly flop competition and there probably will never be one with the layout of the pools.
Cabin We had an inside cabin the first week and an outside cabin the week after. The inside cabin was huge compared to RCL and Princess. It had a good layout, easy to watch t.v and had three closets -- one with shelves for your shorts and stuff. The bathroom was just like every other bathroom, small but usable. Bring a puff for the shower because the liquid soap is so watered down that it rolls right off your hand. The ocean view stateroom was very big. It featured a good size window, two beds, and a full 3 or 4 seater couch. The t.v was a 25 inch flat panel t.v and there too was plenty of storage. The rooms also had comfort beds and great pillows. This is definitely the biggest strength of Carnival.
*** VISIT VINCE IN THE PIANO BAR FOR SOME GREAT FUN AND ENTERTAINMENT****
I hope you enjoyed reading my review and hopefully it helps. I am only 20 years old and pretty picky. Overall I would give the following ratings:Ship: 8/10 Food: 7/10 Carnival Dancers and Singers: 5/10 Other Entertainment: 9/10 Room: 9/10 Excursions: 6/10 (Pricey and not a lot to choose from)
In April 2013, we board the Carnival Freedom at Fort Lauderdale to surprise our friends for a 7 days crusie. My opinion on food, was adequate no complaint. Room and services very good, no complaint on that.
Pool in rear of the ship, too small for the amount of users, at one time we were all standing in the pool like a bunch of aspergus sholders to sholders. This was too much. I found also that the age group is more incline for young couple, so we did not fit in, and I noted a lot of young men drunk of their skull, and close to a fight. Too much for me.
I like to Casino, however that is where my complaint comes in, THE SMOKE. we cannot go in without passing by a bar, and this where the blanket of smoke start. I felt sick just to make my way in...it 'stink big time. I saw an old man with a churgical mask playing at a machine while the lady beside him was smoking a little cigar that smelt like s.... Poor man. Smoking is not control, you cansmoke on any desk with no respect on the none smokers. We cruise with Princess a lot, and we are back with Princess. The age group fits us, the smoking in well control, every second night, the Casino is a no smoking area and so on, so at least the none smokers can enjoy the casino without being poisoned by the smokers.
Therefore, I assume that the same set up exist on all Carnival ships, and we cruise at sea, it is to enjoy the fresh air, not to be smoked. I know what I am talking about, I was an heavy smoker at one time, and 24 years ago, I QUIT, I am now 70 years old, in good health and wish to remain healthy for a long time. I am avoiding all places where there is possible king of smoking, and Carnival Freedom was not one. Bad experience.
The cruise it self was nice we have cruised 3 other times on RCCL and wanted to try Carnival. The ship was laid out nice and a bit confusing at the beginning as they all are the first day. The staff was wonderfull and the ports were fantastic. Our only issue was the staff of Carnival not keeping the teens and children out of the adult only section at any time of the cruise. And Maria at Carnival Customer Service saved the day allowing us to connect withe ship in Key West.
WARNING...THE RETURN OF ROTO VIRUS CARNIVAL STYLE!
PLEASE BE ADVISED THE FOLLOWING WAS SENT TO WEST PALM BEACH LOCAL NBC-TV STATION INVESTIGATIVE REPORTED...PLEASE CLEAN UP YOUR ACT...AND KEEP DOING IT!!!!!!!!!
We went on the Carnival Freedom on Sunday 1/22 to Saturday 1/28/...I could not help notice the total lack of sanitation and sterilization aboard. First of all this was my 25 cruise...last year I cruised 4 times...so I know what I am talking about!
After the major stomach viruses a few years ago...at night the ships were pressured cleaned every night about 2 am...passengers had to spray their hands with sanitizers...or they were spray. Sunday night...ed by the crew! This trip you could not find the hand sanitizers and there was no overnight sanitization.
Again we returned on Saturday 1/28...the baby Daniela started getting sick on Monday...her mom Rosalie got sick on Tuesday...I got sick on Wednesday and her dad got sick on Friday...that is 4 of the 6 on the cruise.
I contacted Carnival...who said they would document it...otherwise "Feel Better"...now two other of their ships have be effected do to their lack of proper sanitation...This I feel is another epidemic about to explode!!!!
FYI...can'tnot eat anything...constant Diarrhea (every 1/2 hour)...the good news is I lost 7 pounds and the Bad News is I am still going 5 days later...same with everybody else...SO:
GO GET THEM...Joe Nasuti...BOOKING # 330RD8
The Carnival Freedom was a big disappointment for the food and service of the crew. It seems that some of the crew thought we were going to other areas and this was the start of the problem. The crew thought they would sell the same ports as they did a year earlier and this would let some of them get to ports of their home. If not for our server Alberto the whole food and service would have been horible. Stopping at the ports was the only good thing, this was to get off the boat. The 80.00 per person tips for the crew was a surprise. This was a no choice 80 per person times 5 = 400. This was taken out of our account on the second day. The room service was horible sometimes waiting up to 45 min for an item. I will never travel on Carnival again.
This was Mrs. Brown's and my 8th Carnival cruise, and we (I) chose this itinerary specifically because Panama was one of the port stops.
We spent two nights prior to embarkation in Ft. Lauderdale at the Ft. Lauderdale Sheraton Beach Hotel which was very pleasant. I prefer to travel from Miami, but only one carnival ship goes to Panama, and only on one cruise every 4 weeks, leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, so we had little choice. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining though, as we did enjoy the stay.
Embarkation went well although I was surprised that there were no check in kisoks like in Miami. Instead, a long row of agents was busily and quickly processing incoming guests.
Two nights before we left home Carnival called and asked if we wanted to upgrade from our interior cabin to a balcony that came open due to a cancellation. On the spur of the moment, not knowing whether the $350 offer was a good deal or not, I accepted, and we were very pleased with our room, never having stayed in a balcony cabin before. Our room was 1015, almost atthe top of the ship, very near the front, only steps away from the forward open decks which I really enjoyed. Our room steward was excellent and took great care of us.
Our first port stop was Cozumel, which I've never been impressed with, so we just got off the ship for photos and souvenirs but didn't go into town.
Our second stop was Limon, Costa Rica. When we were here previously in 2004 we took a train ride excursion; this time I had no preference so Mrs. Brown picked an excursion called Carribean Cacao Experience, which was a tour of a nearby nature preserve called Cacao Trails, where we learned the history of the cacao bean and experienced hands on methods of making chocolate. I initially had low expectations of this tour, but was surprised that we had a busload of 50 or so participants, and was very pleasantly surprised to find the tour very informative and enjoyable.
Colon, Panama was our last and by far best port stop. In 2004 we took the train ride across the isthmus, which was a very rewarding tour, but I was left wanting to see more of the Canal, so this time we took the Panama Canal tour. On this tour we rode buses across the isthmus to Panama City, where we boarded ferries for the trip up through the Miraflored and Pedro Miguel locks, through the Culebra Cut to Balboa where we reboarded the buses to go back to the ship. This was an excellent tour and the guide was extremely knowledgeable and easy to understand. We met 6 or 8 oceangoing ships in the canal which I found exciting. The tour may have been a bit long for anyone who is not as interested as someone like myself, as it took the entire day. We left the ship in Colon soon after docking at 7 or 8am and didn't get back until after 5pm. The ship was supposed to leave at 5pm but as there were 10 busloads of passengers on this tour, and we were late getting back, we didn't depart until nearly 6pm.
After Panama we had 2 sea days on the way home. I was surprised after going back to the room late the second night to step out onto the balcony at 1am and see a nearby island. Looking at the ship's position on the cabin TV I saw that were were at Grand Cayman; an announcement later that morning revealed that we had stopped to disembark a passenger with a medical emergency. Between this and the late start from Panama we were several hours late returning to Ft. Lauderdale, but debarkation started around 845am so I don't think it was a problem for anyone.
A couple observations: Since our frist cruise in 2002 it's seemed to me that Carnival is really cutting costs. In 2002 our dining room waiter and assistant had 2 tables of 10 and one table of 4; on this cruise our poor waiter with 2 assistants had a huge section of tables with what had to be 50 or more passengers. They were running constantly during the service, with very little time to visit as we'd become accustomed to previously. We were seated with a very pleasant couple at a table for four.
Unfortunately Carnival's food quality also doesn't seem to be as high as it used to be. Don't get me wrong- it was all very good, just not AS good, and a couple of my wife's meat dishes were quite ordinary. I think in addition to saving money on food costs, Carnival seems to be trying to push passengers to use the upscale extra charge restaurants. We haven't made it to the point where we want to try one of those yet.
Another thing that surprised me was an $8 pay per view charge for in room movies- these used to be free.
Freedom is a huge ship; the largest we've been on yet, and at times felt very crowded. The buffet areas and Promenade deck were by far the worst, with traffic along the promenade often moving at a snail's pace due to the crush of people.
One area that I was impressed with was the upper decks; there is a lot of deck space on this ship with what must be thousands of deck chairs. Although there was a lot of chair saving going on, there were always multitudes of empty chairs elsewhere so it wasn't a problem.
There are several pools on this ship, and 2 hot tubs in the Serenity area forward on the top deck that were fun and well located, so we never had a problem finding a place to swim.
The ship's entertainment was good, with the usual mix of big shows and comedy, etc.
I always enjoy the multi-cultural exposure we see while on cruises, and I wish I could adequately describe the amusing encounter I overheard in the ship's store, while one of the ship's officers from the purser's desk was asking the store clerk for advise on buying snack food. I'd previously encountered this very attractive Russian officer at the Purser's desk when changing bills, and while she was far from hostile, she was all business, almost severe, so imagine overhearing her, with strong Russian accent (think of Natasha from the Bulwinkle show) question the poor young store clerk about the merits of cheese balls vs. caramel popcorn. It was quite funny.
While I do miss the "old days", overall this was a very enjoyable cruise, and Carnival's staff still gets high marks from me, although sometimes I wonder what management in Miami is thinking (not really- I know it's all dollars). I'm not a big fan of the huge ships, but this one took us where we wanted to go and did it well, and I am looking forward to a little smaller scale on our Spirit cruise to Hawaii in April.
CARNIVAL FREEDOM Western Caribbean Cruise Sept. 4-10, 2011 By Mary & Vincent Finelli
If you must drive on I-95, what better time than 11:00am on a Saturday morning. All the anxious days South Florida spent watching hurricane Irene meander up the east coast of the US were over for Florida --- but not for the rest of the country. Irene dropped record rain on everywhere in the Eastern US, but not in South Florida, where it was badly needed. Yet, here we were boarding the Carnival Freedom on a cruise we thought might never happen, since we waited a long time for a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony. The Freedom was built by Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy, and she is a cookie cutter replica of most other recent Carnival ships. Once you have sailed on one, the physical layout is the same on all the others. This makes it easy for repeaters to get around the ship. It is only the Joe Farcas (ship architect) decorations which differ. Color schemes are mainly black and reds, with the "Farcasian" penchant for repetition. If he likes something, it will be repeated ad infinitum. TheFreedom has some truly lovely rooms like the Jeffersonian style Monticello Library, with classic furniture and book cabinets, and the impressive Millennium Atrium and Cafe`. Very nice!
We made several new friends on board including the very interesting Captain Antonio Marchetti, Staff Captain Francesco Borgogna, Chief Engineer Ferdinando Ruocco and Maitre d' Jogi, who all added zest to our cruise.
EMBARKATION We had received a phone message to do early VIP boarding, so we arrived in Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale at 11:30am and had an easy luggage drop off and went straight to check in. It was a breeze and we were on the ship in twenty minutes. Since, this was our 91st cruise we were prepared for the sharply angled gangway. Mary's swing away wheelchair footrests were folded back, thus preventing damage. Vincent got off his scooter and it was lifted over the too tall gangway; thus we were on with our equipment intact. But, the first thresh hold proved to be a doozie. The wheelchair made it on the second attempt and the scooter again had to be lifted over it. Fortunately, these were the most problematic areas, all on Deck 3, which also is the Promenade Deck. Moreover, on Deck 10 forward the access to the Stress Less pool was also problematic for the high ramp and the heavy wood door without an automatic opener. We found the rest of the ship to be wheelchair friendly. We were in our cabin by 12:30 and on our way to a very nice Buffet on Deck 9. As one cruiser put it, "If this is just lunch, I can't wait for dinner." He was right!
THE SHIP The Freedom is a member of the Conquest Class, and we have written on deck plans similar to this class and the Carnival Spirit Class. She has 14 decks accessible to passengers, from Deck 0 to 14 (there is no unlucky Deck 13).
Deck 0 has the Tender area and the ship's Medical Center, which, thankfully, we did not have to visit this cruise.
Riviera Deck 1 and Main Deck 2 are all staterooms: Ocean View categories 6A, 6B and 6C (220 sq. ft.); Porthole category PT (185 sq. ft.); Interior categories 4A, 4B and 4C (185sq.ft.); Interior Upper/Lower category 1A (160 sq. ft.). Decks 3, 4 and 5 are all public areas.
Lobby Deck 3 forward has the three deck high Victoriana Theatre, giving homage to the 1800's English Theatre. It has a mini dome and many portraits of Sarah Bernhardt the "Prima Donna" of the Victorian stage. The theatre has elegant marble and gold leaf everywhere and many ornate wood moldings. Seating is sofa style. Midship are the Guest Service Desk, the Shore Excursion Desk and the showy Millennium Atrium and Bar. Aft is the two deck high Posh Restaurant with red patterned walls and a balcony, which is the upper level of the restaurant (Deck 4).
Atlanta Deck 4 forward is second level of Victoriana Theatre; midship there are the Photo Gallery, the Monticello Library (with very limited hours, approx. 2 hrs. per day) and the Chic Restaurant. Toward aft there are the Dynasty Conference Room, the Web with Internet stations and the Habana Cigar Bar with Cuban dÃ©cor. This bar reeks of 1940s atmosphere and a pictorial homage to Cigar Box labels. The many room names foreshadow their distinct motifs. Aft is the upper level of Posh Restaurant.
Promenade Deck 5 forward is the Victoriana Theatre's balcony. Midship are the shops around the upper level of the Millennium Atrium. From midship toward aft there is a series of aptly named bars including the following: Players' Sports Bar, Formalities, Centuries Bar, Viennese Cafe`, Meiji Sushi (open 5 to 8:30pm most nights) Bar Nouveau, Scott's Piano Bar (Joplin), Swingtime and the Babylon Casino. All of these have unique decorations worthy of close inspection. The Players' Sports Bar has many screens and classic photos of old time greats. Huge soccer, baseball and basketballs are stools. The Babylon Casino is just after the Atrium, with all sorts of card games tables, roulette, craps and a multitude of slot machines, from pennies to dollars, something for everybody. The towering brick columns with winged figures give an ambiance of ancient Babylon. On the starboard side is the Centuries Promenade, a beautiful inside promenade, with many seating areas and windows, often with setups for the professional photographers; it is the major path to the aft elevators and to the International Lounge. On the port side is also a very large area for teen-only activities: The Club O2 which is operated by a director who facilitates the interactions and activities of the young cruisers, such as parties with a DJ and state-of-the-art lighting and sound system, and the Video Arcade, with video games and interactive game pod, etc.
Upper Deck 6, Empress Deck 7 and Verandah Deck 8 are mostly staterooms: Interior, categories 4D, 4E, 4F. 4G (185 sq. ft.); Interior/Window obstructed view, category 4J (185 sq. ft.); Balcony, categories 8B, 8C, 8D, 8E, 8F (185 sq. ft. - balcony 35 sq. ft.); Aft-View Extended Balcony, categories 8M, 8N (185 sq. ft. - balcony 60 sq. ft.); Premium Vista Balcony, category 9C (185 sq. ft. - balcony 75 sq. ft.); Ocean Suites, category OS (275 sq. ft. - balcony 65 sq. ft.); Grand Suites, category GS (345 sq. ft. - balcony 85 sq. ft.)
Lido Deck 9 forward also has staterooms: Interior, categories 4G, 4H; Interior/Window with obstructed view, category 4J; Balcony, categories 8E, 8F (all these categories are the same as the corresponding ones on other decks); Junior Suites, category JS (same size as cat. OS). Midship on 9 are the Timeless Pool & Bar and aft are the Freedom Restaurant Buffet, the Pizzeria, serving tasty pizzas, calzone and Caesar Salad, and the Grille with great frankfurters, hamburgers and French fries. All the way aft are the Endless Pool/Spas and Bar surrounded by a nice area with tables and chairs.
Panorama Deck 10 forward has staterooms: Interior, category 4H; Interior/Window obstructed view, category 4J; Balcony, categories 8E, 8F (all these categories have the same sizes as the corresponding ones on other decks). After the forward elevators there are the Stress Less Pool and Spa. Midship is Carnival's Seaside Theater with a gigantic (12-by-22 ft.) outdoor movie screen. Aft is the Sun King Steakhouse (more on this fine dining experience later). And, finally Fish and Chips, a great alternative to the buffet.
Spa Deck 11 forward has 18 Balcony staterooms, cat. 8F; in addition there are the Spa with Beauty Salon, Sauna and Massage Rooms and a well equipped Gym; the aft section comprises the Sports Deck and the Jogging Track.
Sun Deck 12 forward has the Camp Carnival and Kids Pool and aft is the mini golf course.
Sky Deck 14 has the entrance to the 214 ft. water slide which is enjoyed by kids and adults alike. The flying sliders end the run with a big splash on deck 10, near the Stress Less Pool.
The ship's statistics include the following: Registered in Panama; she weighs 110,000 tons; length is 952 ft.; beam is 116 ft.; passenger capacity 3,700; Crew is 1,150; 577 inside cabins and 910 outside, with 555 cabins and suites with balconies. There are 28 wheelchair accessible cabins, of these cabins 15 are interior and 10 obstructed view, but only 2 with balcony and 1 Ocean Suite.
CABIN We had a wheelchair accessible cabin #6208 on Deck 6 forward, all the way forward! When entering straight ahead is the large bathroom with a single sink. There is a commode and a large shower with a fold away seat and a handy shower head on a long extension; an adjustable vanity mirror, but alas no shelves for amenities, just a small bowl filled with excellent gifts: creams, lotions, toothpaste, razors etc. There is also a closet with many shelves.
To the right of the entry is a double armoire with very high poles for hangers and six drawers; in the other section there are high and low poles for hangers, but no place for long dresses or coats. Next is a TV set very high on a shelf, and below a shelf for the ice bucket and glasses. There is a personal safe, just the right height. Then, there is a lighted vanity with a hassock (too low for comfort); a small refrigerator, and two more low shelves. To the left is a kingsize bed, at just the right height, flanked by useless night stands (too low for the physically challenged) with night lamps. There is also one upholstered barrel chair and a small coffee table. There are double windows to the balcony, which is so tiny that the chairs have to be piled up to allow the space for the wheelchair. Since Vincent has a small scooter, the only place left to park the wheelchair is in the shower. A very nice accessory to this cabin is the automatic door opener.
The wood is all pretty orange maple and two oil paintings complete the peach and maroon dÃ©cor. One is of an Egyptian looking sailboat in bold blue, orange and yellow colors. The other shows two small cottages and a pony cart all in bold primary colors. When designing theses handicapped cabins, designers should be required to stay and live in one for several days and only then they will realize the inconveniences that future handicapped passengers will have to face. A better way may be to seek suggestions from handicapped passengers. However, to compensate for the inadequate features of the stateroom, we had a great team of stewards, Oscar and his assistant, who were always cordial and efficient and provided us with excellent service.
SERVICE & FOOD Its obvious that things are going to be good when the Asst. Housekeeper Nemanja Skakavac visits your cabin on the first day to see if you need anything. He called on us a few more times to check on our comfort and we appreciated the attention. Service on board is excellent. Of course, hospitality always filters down from the top and we knew that when we had dinner with Capt. Marchetti and his lovely Signora Claudia and other officers at the Captain's table. Mary conversed with Chief Engineer Ferdinando Ruocco about his adopted hometown of Avellino and the nearby city of Salerno, where Vincent attended secondary school. Mary mentioned how cold it was in our cabin, and while we had dinner, he had the thermostat in our room checked and adjusted. Carnival's motto is "Just ask and you shall receive." Vincent also enjoyed conversing in Italian at the table, since he was seated between Captain Marchetti and Staff Captain Borgogna, both from the region of Campania where Vincent was born. A delicious dinner and pleasant company: Thank you, Comandante Marchetti!
The food is greatly improved and portions are perfect. There is a new menu instituted just last month. Maitre d' Jogi (Jayaram Manjunath, Jogi, India) was both cordial and helpful in giving us a table for 2, # 430 in the Posh Dining Room. Our Waiter Dana was excellent and turned out to be an excellent dancer and part of the Dining Room entertainment. Ida and Gibson were his assistants and they were both great.
The menu has several appetizers, soups and a "Didja" course (food you always wanted to try, but did not dare). This whimsical course led us to try alligator, frog's legs, salmon tartar, shark, etc. The menu is a thoughtful one with a broad selection of courses and food options. These include starters such as fresh fruit cocktail, guacamole and tomato salsa with tortilla chips, stuffed mushrooms, shrimp cocktail, prosciutto and melon, smoked duck and caramelized oranges, beefsteak tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, and finally a delicious New England Crabcake. If that doesn't please, then you may have one of the many soups: cream of sun-ripened tomatoes, minestrone Milanese, West Indian Roasted Pumpkin Soup, Strawberry Bisque, French onion soup, black bean soup, chilled cucumber with dill, Tom Ka Gai (chicken, coconut and lemon grass), Chilled Peach cream, Gazpacho blanco, wild mushroom soup and an old fashioned chicken noodle soup.
Salads are fresh and varied such as a California Spring mix, Fatoush Salad, Portobello and mesclun, Caesar salad, heart of iceberg, etc. Main courses had several options. The ones indicated by a heart symbol denote healthy, low fat, low cholesterol and low sodium, such as grilled corvina fish filet, a study in sushi, chicken Sicilian style with grilled vegetables, grilled marinated pork steak and many others. Regular entrees included a duet of roasted rack and leg of lamb, seafood Newburg, Petite filet mignon, Grilled jumbo tiger shrimp, Sweet and Sour shrimp (highly recommended by Mary), Broiled lobster tail and jumbo shrimp, Prime rib of beef au jus (excellent) and Jerked Pork loin, etc. And the third category is called Comfort foods: Chicken pot pie, Old fashioned Pot Roast, Meatloaf and gravy with mashed potatoes, St Louis Barbecued pork spareribs, Southern fried chicken and Bacon Mac & Cheese (kids favorite).
There are many pasta entrees but the grand finale is the desserts: Chocolate melting cake (don't order this the first night or you'll never try anything else!), hot souffle`, crÃ¨me Brulees plus an assortment of sherbets, ice creams, and assorted cheese and fruit plates. Excellent! What can we say about the food --- it is plentiful, nicely portioned, fresh and elegantly prepared.
Our evening in the Sun King (Louis XIV) steakhouse was magnificent. The chargers were Versace plates. Service by two waitresses was superb. Chef Derek Dias (Bombay, India) was kind enough to visit our table. This young chef is top notch. We dined on Carpaccio, Escargot, and crabcake for starters. The focaccia bread was light as air, while the Caesar and Spinach salads were crisp and excellent. Sides were creamed spinach, Yukon gold potatoes and a medley of mushrooms. We both thought our surf and turf to be perfect (filet mignon and lobster tail). The dÃ©cor is all maroon and gold gilt carved woodwork with crystal chandeliers. The ambience, the service and the food were stupendous. Don't miss this experience!
ENTERTAINMENT This was the final week of the US Open Tennis Tournament, so we spent some time in the Sports Bar, where Zed Oragun of Croatia and Miro of Serbia were helpful in displaying the matches for us, and getting the sound up. Cruise Director Jacques De Lange is very personable and constantly moving among the cruisers with many entertainment options. The Freedom Orchestra, Dancers and singers are A-1. We especially enjoyed "Jump, Jive, and Wail."
The Punch Liner Comedy Club featured Eddie Capone, whom we have seen many times before. He is amazing with several new routines; he has three nightly shows, the early show is a family one, then there are two adult comedy shows. He is great.
Carnival Freedom has extensive youth programs: Camp Carnival, formulated for the entertainment of children ages 2 to 14, is run by trained counselors with arts and crafts, special activities and games such as pool time, scavenger hunts, etc.; and Club O2 for teens that, in addition to the organized parties and video games, offers many activities, such as basketball, volleyball, ping-pong, karaoke, pool time, etc.... At night there is a teens-only party, with dancing the night away to the latest hits.
Just tear off the Daily Schedule from the "Funtime" and take with you a pocket list of every event on board: Exercise, Daily Puzzles, Trivia, Sports Court Contests, Sail Away Parties, Card Playing Groups, Art Auctions, Ping-Pong Tournaments, Black Jack Tournaments and Concerts under the Stars --- plenty for all ages.
PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. USA Depart: 4:30pm Day 2. Key West, FL. Arrive: 8:30am Depart: 5:00pm Day 3. At Sea Day 4. Grand Cayman Arrive: 7:00am Depart: 4:00pm Day 5. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrive: 7:30am Depart: 3:30pm Day 6. At Sea Day 7. Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Debarkation 7:00am
DEBARKATION This was one of the most painless debarkation. We put out our tagged luggage the night before. Saturday morning, after breakfast in the Posh dining room, we were assisted by a crew member through debarkation. His help was appreciated especially to overcome the problems we had with our scooter and wheelchair on the gangway. In less than 20 minutes we were out of the terminal and on our way home.
CONCLUSION A reason why we have not cruised with Carnival ships in the last few years is our limited mobility and the fact that Carnival's newer ships have limited number of wheelchair accessible cabins with balcony, only 2 in balcony categories and 1 in Ocean Suites. The same thing can be said for Costa Crociere which used to be our favorite cruise line when we did not have mobility problems. Every time we tried to book a wheelchair accessible cabin with balcony it was not available. But this time we were persistent, so after several attempts we found cabin #6208 available on this ship. That is the same number we have had in several Carnival ships (or 6207 starboard) indicating that nothing has changed in the deck plan of the newer ships. We have already voiced our suggestions on this issue several times but our comments have been ignored. (*We are attaching below the "Suggestions" section we wrote in the cruise review of the Carnival Liberty, published at this website on February 2006).
This was our 10th cruise on Carnival ships, thus we achieved the distinguished status of Platinum Guest. We were surprised to see the VIP treatment offered to us by the newly formed "Carnival Concierge Club" with a welcome back letter by Gerry Cahill, President and CEO. This letter listed the complementary amenities on this cruise: Personalized Stationary, Canapes and petit fours sent to our stateroom on gala nights, a gift of a carnival logo item and many more special services and Concierge attention, etc. We felt appreciated throughout the cruise! These perks and the dinner at Captain Marchetti's table made this a very special cruise.
We have booked two more cruises for this year, the first we will return on the Crown Princess, Nov. 12th and the second on the Celebrity Eclipse, Dec.10th. Happy Cruising!
*Attachment from Carnival Liberty Review: "SUGGESTIONS" This was our fifth cruise on Carnival ships and every time we have returned we have found improvements. This time the upscale restaurant Harry's Club is definitely a plus in the rating of the ship. We had a wonderful cruise and we'll definitely cruise again on Carnival ships. However, the location of our stateroom was not optimal, since it was the first cabin at the bow, far from the elevators and the center of the ship which is an added problem for those of us with limited mobility. In addition we could not use the balcony much due to exposure to strong wind especially when the ship was in motion. In the future, if we book again on this class ship, it will be in a suite, since the location of wheelchair accessible cabins is inappropriate for us. We feel that Carnival, as well as Costa, have to put some effort in designing appropriate accommodations for disabled passengers in regard to comfort, location and number of wheelchair accessible cabins by emulating those lines, such as Princess and RCI, which offer more user friendly accommodation to the growing number of cruisers with limited mobility.