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Carnival Freedom Review; Cruisemates Cruise Ship Feature Articles

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

Carnival Freedom, the newest ship in Carnival's fleet, has the same basic structural design as the Conquest class, first introduced in 2002. That design has not changed much since 1996, when the Destiny was introduced. The design changes in Carnival ships over the last 10 years have been evolutionary, but not revolutionary, at least in their structural aspects. You will find the disco, show room and two main dining rooms in the same places on all of the ships of this class.

But when it comes to the ships' interior design -- the wall coverings, lighting, furniture, flooring, etc. -- that's a different story. Some cruise lines' ships are nearly identical not just in structure but in everything else -- like chain hotels where if you have seen one, you have pretty much seen them all.

Not Carnival ships. Each one has a unique interior, all created by the most renowned ship architect and designer in the business, Joe Farcus. In fact, one could argue that the only person who has ever outdone a Joe Farcus design is Joe Farcus.

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Atrium -- View Looking Up   Lobby Lights with Subtle Changes

Freedom -- Interior Design Joe Farcus always starts his interior designs by deciding on a theme -- sometimes, but not always, related to the name of the ship. While many areas of the ship pay homage to the word 'freedom,' such as the large Statue of Liberty in the Lido restaurant, the actual theme of the ship's decor is important eras in human history.

Some of the eras Farcus pays homage to include the Victorian era, the 1970s, the 1950s, the beginning of human history (as in Babylon), and the future.

Stepping into the Freedom's Millennium Atrium, guests discover what Farcas describes as his vision of design for 2010 and beyond. In my opinion, it looks more like 2100 and beyond. The walls are cylindrical copper panels painted in iridescent lacquers that take on a red or gold tint, depending upon your viewing angle. Between each of these bulging panels are glowing globes of light that change color gradually and constantly, from red to blue to green to yellow.

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Freedom Cafe (Lido Area)   Statue of Liberty Heads   War of the Worlds

Cutouts of wood veneer dyed to look like tiger skin (if tigers came in red and green as well as yellow and black) frame them. Glass and copper chandeliers hang from the ceiling. Stairways and banisters are glass framed in copper and stainless steel.

The overall effect of the stacked rows of glowing globes in the 10-deck-high Millennium Atrium is reminiscent of the mechanical eyes in War of the Worlds. It's a bit overwhelming, as are many Farcus designs. He has never been known for understatement.

The main theater is called the Victorian after Queen Victoria of Britain, whose name is also associated with the peak of fashion for the 1800s. While Farcus claims the designing evokes theaters in London's West End, he appears to be peering into the future, with many design elements of the main atrium also evident.

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Heavy Door Jams   Elevator   Joplins Piano Bar

The disco is the closest we have seen yet to the one on Carnival Destiny, with walls of video screens surrounding the room -- more than 1,000 of them. This room is called the 1970s Disco, and its inspiration was the legendary Studio 54 in New York City.

Right next to the main disco is the teen disco, known as Club O2. This is the largest and nicest teen dance area I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Not only is it not tucked away in a corner, it is spacious and elegantly placed on the main thoroughfare. Everyone can see in and realize that only teens are invited.

The Babylon Casino recalls the palace of the famous King Hammurabi; a reproduction of the legendary Ishtar Gate is done in blue glazed brick with applied mythological animals and decorations of flowers in geometric designs. It is reminiscent of the cuneiform-covered walls of ancient Egypt.

Other public rooms include the Habana cigar bar, the Monticello library, Scott's piano bar (named after Scott Joplin), and the Swing Time Jazz Club with a 1920s decor.

To sum up the effect, the line is named "Carnival" and that implies a certain image. It isn't what I would choose for my personal living space, but I give them credit for going beyond the concept of "a distinct personality for each ship." The upside to these outlandish surroundings is their mood-lightening effect -- it's so over the top you can't help being amused. And late at night when a lot of people think about going to bed, the decor seemingly breathes vitality into the ship.

Each of Carnival's twenty-plus ships has a different interior design. Obviously, taking the concept of "unique" to unimagined levels works for them. The ships are always full and abuzz with people having fun. It certainly is a better concept than other cruise lines, where the ship you board in Miami is exactly like the one you sailed in Alaska.

Meet the Freedom Designer:

http://www.carnival.com/Ship_Detail.aspx?shipCode=FD

What's New with Freedom? Freedom is the first ship to have complete "bow to stern" wi-fi Internet access. While it isn't cheap, it is reasonably fast. The best deal is 100 minutes for $55. Otherwise you can pay a flat rate of 75 cents a minute, but that will go by much faster than you imagine. You can set up your laptop in your cabin and use it for any kind of Internet operations. (Many of us need Internet operations beyond email -- we use it to update our blogs and upload pictures, for example.)

The ship has a very large-screen (264 sq. ft.) poolside video screen showing movies throughout the night and day, as well as sporting events, concerts and the daily "morning show" by the cruise director.

Cell-phone service is available throughout the ship, but don't let your kids bring their cell-phones as roaming rates as high as three or four dollars per minute will apply.

The 13,300 sq. ft. spa offers everything from acupuncture to hair styling, hot rocks massage, seaweed wraps and pedicures. Couples can get treatments together, or a new spa service for youth called YSPA offers the Mother/Daughter Paradise massage and other such ideas.

The up-to-date fitness center has treadmills, stairmasters and slaloms. Aerobics classes are offered throughout the day; some of them, like pilates or yoga, carry a small service charge.

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Adult Pool Area   Jogging Track   Fitness Center

Freedom Cuisine Although Carnival concentrates on the Caribbean market and does not pretend to be a premium or luxury cruise line, I can say without hesitation that the food on Carnival is as good and often better than on cruise lines that command a much higher price.

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Buffet Selection   Dessert Table (Buffet)   Sun King Restaurant Presents Selections

There are two formal dining rooms on Freedom: Posh and Chic. Both have assigned seating and pre-set dining times. However, passengers can choose from four pre-set hours: 6:00, 6:30, 8:00 or 8:30 p.m. In addition to the regular dining rooms. Freedom has an upscale "steakhouse style" supper club, called Sun King, serving hand-cut, dry aged USDA beef, as well as fresh fish and lobster. This restaurant has a $25 per person service charge, and it is worth it. I had the surf and turf dinner -- a generous lobster tail and 5 ounces of filet mignon. The delectable lobster bisque was created right before my eyes by placing the meat from an entire lobster claw atop a large round crouton inside a bowl and pouring the puréed liquid over the top.

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Caramel Napolean dessert   Lobster Regular Restaurant   Selections from Sun King -- Delicious!

Freedom's two-level Lido style restaurant, called the Freedom Restaurant, provides breakfast, lunch and other snacks. The 1,400-seat casual eatery features meat carving and pasta stations, a 35 item salad bar, a New York style deli, and an Asian stir-fry area where passengers can choose the ingredients to be included, much like a Mongolian barbecue.

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Mongolian-style Grill   Smiling Crewmen   Espresso Kitchen in Lido Area

Outside on the rear pool deck is a grill serving hot dogs, hamburgers and steak sandwiches. Next to it is a 24-hour pizzeria, and upstairs is a fish and chips station also offering bouillabaisse, ceviche, conch fritters, fried oysters and other delicacies.

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Outdoor Movie Screen   Mini-Golf   Volleyball

Staterooms Freedom's 1,487 staterooms are comfortable and utile. Carnival perfected the formula for stateroom design with its Fantasy-class ships. The beds are king-sized, or can be split into two twins. Cabins are equipped with a safe, hairdryer, flat panel TV, chairs and tables. Balcony cabins and suites have a minibar as well.

The bathrooms in the balcony cabins have showers, and instead of a full set of toiletries, they have a sample pack of various items. There are two disposable razors (one for her and him), toothpaste, fabric softener (for the self-serve launderettes on board) and a few coupons for gift shop items like hairbrushes. Soap and shampoo come from dispensers in the shower.

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Bathroom Sampler Amenities Kit   Towel Animal   Monticello Library

Itineraries Freedom's winter schedule includes seven-day cruises from Miami alternating weekly between the Eastern and Western Caribbean. On April 19, 2008, the ship will begin a 14-day transatlantic crossing, followed by a schedule of 12-day Mediterranean and Mediterranean/Greek Isles cruises from Rome, from May 10 through October 13, 2008.

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Waterslide and Deck Area   Loads of Deck Area on this Ship   The Carnival Life with Movies

Returning from Europe on a 16-day transatlantic crossing, Freedom will then begin alternating six and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Ft. Lauderdale.

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