11.6.2007 
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South America from $599!
18-night South America cruise; Santiago Chile to Buenos Aires! Chilean Fjords, Straits of Magellan, Falklands. Inside $599, Ocvw: $699. Up to $300 shipboard credit!
•  AMERICA'S VACATION CENTER: 1-800-753-1176
CruiseMates says: Unbelievable value on an 18-night cruise!
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Holland America Eurodam
Celebrate the Eurodam's New York debut! 3 nt cruise 8/29/08 aboard this brand new ship from $479!
•  iCruise.com: 1-888-icruise
CruiseMates says: Exciting Debut of New Holland America Class of Ship!.
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Europe 2008
Air Included -14-NT Celebrity Constellation -2008 Russia/Baltic Cruise -$2399! Bonus: $100 Onboard Credit!
•  CRUISES-N-MORE: 1-800-733-2048
CruiseMates says: Book Europe Early this year - ships will sell out!!
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Resort and Cruise Bargain!
$199 for a 3-Nt. Carnival, Bahamas Cruise & 2-Nt. Resort stay! Call 1-800-408-1143 to find out how, limited time promotion, call today!
•  National Cruise Tours 1-800-408-1143
CruiseMates says: A very good price for a combination vacation.
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Holiday Cruises
15-Night Hawaii Cruise on Zaandam with free shore excursion. Hosted group with free cocktail party.
•  CRUISEVALUE: 1-800-231-7447
CruiseMates says: take the December 20 cruise for Christmas and New Years
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Thanksgiving Bargain
NCL Majesty 7-day Thanksgiving Cruise: West Caribbean: Inside $429 pp from Charleston.
•  CRUISEMAGIC: 1-800-474-5678
CruiseMates says: Christmas cruise also available sailing Dec 23.
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One-Day Sale!
One-day Royal Caribbean Sales Event - exclusive discounted prices!
•  CRUISEDEALS: 1-800-668-6414
CruiseMates says: 3-nights from $169
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Celebrity Solstice
A CruiseMates group cruise on a brand new class of Celebrity Ship from $880 per person. Don't miss this exciting ship debut!
•  CRUISEPLANNERS: 1-800-561-0802
CruiseMates says: The first of the new decade ships - Celebrity Solstice is a must-see!
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9-Night Caribbean NCL!
9-nights Norwegian Jewel: Miami to Tortola, Antigua, Barbados, St Lucia & more! Leave Friday night, return Sunday afternoon.
•  AMERICA'S VACATION CENTER: 1-800-753-1176
CruiseMates says: Go to the deep Caribbean with just one week off work!
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Celebrity Cruises bargain
4-NT or 5-NT Celebrity Century. Prices Start At $249! Get $25, $75 Onboard Credit
•  CRUISES-N-MORE: 1-800-733-2048
CruiseMates says: great price on a premium ship - act now!!
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Princess Cruises Special Offer
One Week Princess Reduced Deposit Sale. Book early & save! Group Savings on most sailings.
•  BUYCRUISES: 1-800-510-1786
CruiseMates says: Book Europe early for the best deals and selection of cabins!
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Star Princess
12-night South America, Buenos Aires to Santiago from $999! $50 credit, free photo.
•  CRUISEMARKETPLACE: 1-800-826-4333
CruiseMates says: great itinerary and beautiful ship.
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Vacations to Go
Save Up To 75% On Cruises. Age 55+ Rates, Group Rates, Military Rates, and more.
•  VACATIONSTOGO.COM: 1-800-338-4962
CruiseMates says: consistently one of the most popular travel agencies.
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South America Dream! 14-nts $499!
14-Night SOUTH AMERICA Cruise Norwegian Dream roundtrip Valparaiso (Santiago), Chile REDUCED TO $499 per person! Nov. 7, 2007.
•  Cruise & Tours Unlimited: 1-800-935-2727
CruiseMates says: UNBELIEVABLE bargain 14-day cruise - reduced $100.
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Star Princess Steal
7 night Princess cruise to the Mexican Riviera: Cabo San Lucas and much more for only $365 pp!
•  CRUISEDEALS: 1-800-668-6414
CruiseMates says: a steal of a deal for a Princess cruise! Oceanview $460
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Christmas and New Years
Holland America Zaandam 15 Night HAWAII Cruise Departing from San Diego Dec 20 from $1984
•  CRUISEVALUE: 1-800-231-7447
CruiseMates says: A holiday bargain at its best.
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Carnival Holiday Cruises
Carnival Holiday Cruises from $439 p.p. Book this week & get $100 Ship Board credit on select sailing.
•  CRUISEMAGIC: 1-800-474-5678 x106
CruiseMates says: One of the last remaining holiday bargains
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You can access all of these specials above - or go to CruiseMates' Cruise Bargains for even more!
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Carnival Freedom

By PAUL MOTTER
Carnival Freedom has hit our shores, ready for its first season of Caribbean cruising for winter. The newest flagship of Carnival Cruises, and the last ship of the "Conquest" class to be built for Carnival, Freedom belongs to the Carnival family all the way, with imaginative decor and a multitude of room themes that will be sure to please any Carnival aficionado.

Next week, we will be sailing on the Freedom leaving from Miami on a short Western Caribbean Cruise. We will be sending you live updates posted straight to the Carnival Message Boards in CruiseMates.

The theme of the ship is, of course, "freedom," in the patriotic American sense, of course, but also in other meanings of the word. This is the expected eclectic vision of Carnival ship architect and interior designer, Joe Farcus. Joe typically starts his designs with a word to represent an idea, expanding beyond the singular definition that first comes to mind.

Design details throughout the ship include banister rails and trim in copper rather than the usual brass. Trim is somewhat dark and broody, which only serves to make the translucent accent lights modeled as faces of the Statue of Liberty that much more quixotic as they stare at you from everywhere.

Most of the wood panel finishings tend to be either orange or a dark gray, a somewhat unusual combination that is so Farcusion it begs the questions, "why did he use that combination, I don't think I've ever seen that before?" to which the only answer is, "because Farcus does what he wants."

He has total Freedom (note the word) in designing Carnival interiors which has resulted in a fleet of over 20 ships where absolutely no two ships can be said to be anything alike. That itself is an accomplishment in this day and age where several companies have as many as five ships that are for all intents and purposes identical to one another, inside and out.

If it sounds like we are describing a theme park more than a cruise ship, it is because that is what modern Carnival ships have become. The onboard ambience is less of a nautical experience, and more like Las Vegas hotel. Everything is fantastically faux, and for the most part representational (artistically speaking) of the unifying theme.

Dining Choices on Freedom

Freedom offers four different dining times amongst the two traditional restaurants onboard; two early sittings 5:45, 6:15; and two late sittings 8:00 and 8:30. The two restaurants are Posh (aft with a commanding view over the stern and wake when at sea) and Chic, located midship with picture windows on the port and starboard sides.

There are tables for groups of every size, from tables for two to parties of 10. The noise level seems to be most tolerable when seated next to wall. If you end up in the middle be sure to sit next to someone you enjoy talking to. The ambient noise level can make across the table conversations difficult, especially at large, round tables for eight.

The lido dining spot also known as the self-service buffet area, is called simply the "Freedom Restaurant." During breakfast and lunch there is a large choice of main entrees and accoutrements, with ice tea, hot tea and coffee served at no extra charge. Both meals offer standalone food stations where one can get a dish prepared a la minute to order; omelets or waffles, for example.

Lunchtime offers special food stations for sushi, pasta, Asian food, deli sandwiches, ice cream and other desserts. Both meals have open carving stations where a butcher will be slicing ham for breakfast and pork, lamb or possibly beef Wellington for lunch.

Near the aft pool are the expected (for Carnival) hamburger/hotdog and pizza offerings. These are open nearly around the clock. There is also a self-service soft ice cream machine with small cones available.

At night, for those who may not feel like dressing for more formal occasions, the Freedom Restaurant is transformed into an alternative dining venue. This restaurant offers buffet style food selection, but then full table service by waiters once you sit down. The food is hot and delicious, and best of all you can slip up there in your casual clothes an any time (no pre-set dining times or reservations required) and enjoy a hot meal served quickly with a glass of wine from the bar, and then retire to your room as soon as you are finished.

At the other end of the scale, for a special occasion where you may want to to dress to the nines (although that is not mandatory) there is the Sun King Supper Club, isolated in a quiet spot on Deck 10. These Carnival steakhouses have proven themselves to be every bit as good in food and service as practically any restaurant at sea. The food is as good as it gets, especially if you prefer simple but perfectly prepared steaks or chops. The filet will melt in your mouth, and fish tastes so fresh you expect it to wiggle. Succulent lamb chops with just the right touch of marbling and a delicious mint sauce will have your mouth watering with appreciation for every single bite.

A small combo plays at a comfortable volume as long as you are not too close; expect to see couples apparently in love celebrating special occasions on the dance floor, before dinner or between courses.

Service charge is $30 per-person plus optional gratuity and reservations are recommended. Look for the reservation desk in the lobby on embarkation day right at the end of the gangway. Dress code "upscale casual;" no jeans, shorts, T-shirts, flip flops. Most people dress in formal attire.