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)
We just returned from a 12 night Med cruise on the Carnival Freedom. The reason we chose this ship was the itinerary. It was the only ship that spent an overnight in Venice. The price was also the most attractive of all the 12 night Med cruises that we had checked.
Our air arrangements were done independently since we had considerable air miles that we could use. We flew Delta from Miami via Atlanta to Rome. Once we arrived at FCO Rome, Cabs was waiting to transport us to our hotel. We again were fortunate to have Starwood points so we had booked a two-night stay at the Rome Excelsior Hotel on Via Veneto. The stay at the hotel was the highlight of our vacation. The room that we were assigned was beautiful! The hotel was built in 1903 and is considered one of the grandest hotels in Rome. In fact, the hotel was voted one of the top 100 hotels in Europe by Conde Nast Traveler. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the Via Veneto. The accommodations were first rate and so was the service.
After our three-day stay inRome we were picked up by Rome Cabs and taken to Civitavecchia. Once we arrived at the terminal we breezed through the check in process and were onboard the Freedom in a matter of minutes. As stated in other posts/reviews the terminal area is functional. The building is a temporary structure that is "no frills".
Upon boarding the Carnival Freedom we discovered that the Carnival trend of creating elegant living spaces with very little "glitz" had ceased with the design of this vessel. The ship interiors contained neon, garish decorations and lacked a cohesive design theme. The color patterns and choices did not blend well. Our initial impression did not change during the course of our cruise. The only public spaces that we found attractive were the dining rooms, the main show lounge and the Havana Club.
The Carnival Freedom is a "Conquest" class vessel that has a passenger capacity of over 3,000 people. The cabins on board this vessel, as with other Carnival ships, are well designed and roomy. We were fortunate to have booked a balcony stateroom. The balcony was used almost on a daily basis. Especially when we sailed in or out of beautiful ports like Venice, Messina, Dubrovnik and Cannes. My wife and I would share a bottle of wine on the balcony during most evenings, especially at sunset.
I had not been on a Carnival cruise since I traveled on the Carnival Legend in 2006. The food on the Legend was excellent! In fact, I thought that it was far better than RCCI. Well, the disappointing part of this cruise was that the food quality and presentation was not on a par with our prior Carnival cruise. I spoke to our waiter concerning this issue and he informed me that he had noticed over the last year a decline in the quality of the meats. He also told me that the menu had recently been changed. The new menu, according to him, had not been well received by the passengers. After our cruise I echo that sentiment.
The entertainment on the Freedom was exactly what we expected -- amazing. The Beatles show was my daughter's favorite of the cruise. The Big Band Show found us on our feet during most of the evening. The jazz trio in the Havana Bar was talented and engaging. They took requests every evening. My 10-year-old daughter was even able to impress them with a "Santana" request.
The ports of call for this "Grand" cruise were indeed grand. Cruising into Venice during the early afternoon was an experience that I will never forget. As our ship sailed by the Piazza San Marco the crowds of people in the plaza waved to the passengers on the decks. During the sail into Venice a Pavarotti concert played on the Seaside Theater screen. As soon as the ship docked we were off on our Venice adventure. We took the ship's shuttle to the Vaporetto station. At the station we purchased our 24-hour pass and hopped on a Vaporetto that took us to St. Mark's Square. At St. Mark's Square we shopped and took in the city. After we got over the "sticker shock" of Venice we were able to snap photos and eat dinner. Dinner at a sidewalk café not in the Square was an expensive experience. Dinner for five people with one bottle of Chianti wine was approximately 185 Euros or close to $300.00 U.S. Dinner consisted of simple pasta dishes with no salad or appetizer. Yes, Venice is expensive and unless you are independently wealthy it makes sense to eat on the ship.
Dubrovnik was the surprise of the cruise. The city was beautiful and people were warm and welcoming. Since Croatia is not part of the EU the prices for goods and food were more in line with what one would expect when on vacation. Lunch at a café with beer ended up costing us the equivalent of $60.00 US for five people. This was a pleasant surprise after our experience in Italy. There is not enough I can say about Dubrovnik and Croatia. This is a place I definitely plan to return to.
Naples was exactly as I expected. I visited Naples in the 1980's when I took a side trip to Pompeii from Rome. During our visit the city was still in the midst of a garbage collectors strike. Fortunately, we hopped on a train to Pompeii and then to Sorrento.
Sorrento is a picturesque town on the Amalfi coast. We grabbed a quick lunch at a café that is perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. The café was expensive, but the views more than made up for the price. After our lunch we hopped back on a train for our trip back to Naples. At the train station in Naples we caught a taxi back to the ship. We made it back to the ship with an hour and a half to spare.
Our exploration of Messina, Sicily was limited to the center of town. Unfortunately we procrastinated in purchasing tour tickets to Taormina so we were left with very few options in this city. We found Messina to be a friendly and inexpensive city compared to the other cities we had visited in Italy.
Barcelona was another "do it on your own" city. We took the port shuttle bus to the city center and walked to "Las Ramblas". Las Ramblas is the main shopping and entertainment street. The pedestrian friendly street has "street performers", cafes, shops and a market that rivals anything else that I have seen in Europe. At the market we bought a great bottle of 2001 Rioja, Manchego Cheese and Serrano Ham. We took the food and wine back to the ship and had a gourmet snack as we sailed out of Barcelona.
Cannes was stunning! After a short tender ride we were literally on the "red carpet" in Cannes. The tender dock in the center of the city has a red carpet for all arriving guests. It was very cool for my daughter to say that she walked on the "red carpet" in Cannes.
We walked to the main venue for the Cannes Film Festival where we hopped on a mini tourist train for a one-hour tour of Cannes. The cost was an affordable 10 Euros per person. We found this to be one of the best bargains of the cruise. The train had headsets that provided the guests with an ongoing narration of the sights in Cannes in several languages, including English. After the tour we found this quaint café off of the main street that accepted credit cards. Since this was the end of our cruise and we were short on Euros we decided to save them for Livorno.
The café was full of locals so I knew that it was not a tourist trap. Well, we had the best meal of the cruise at this café. My daughter had ravioli in a beef bourguignon sauce with meat. My wife had an amazing fish dish and I had the best Club Sandwich that I have ever had with a Salad Nicoise and Pomme Frittes. The lunch included one glass of wine and dessert for 14 Euros. This was the bargain of the cruise!
Livorno was an adventure. We took the port shuttle bus to the center of town where we purchased tickets for the bus. Boarded a bus and took it to the main train station where we purchased tickets for Pisa and Florence. We boarded the train to Pisa and after a short twenty minute ride we arrived at Pisa. After running around for a few minutes we were able to locate the bus that would take us to the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Boarded the bus and after a short fifteen minute tour of the city we arrived at our destination -- the leaning tower. After the obligatory photo of the tower we re-boarded a bus to take us back to the train station. At the train station we were able to find the train to Florence. The trip to Florence took a little over an hour. Once we arrived in Florence we took a short cab ride to the Ponte Vecchio. The city was alive with tourists shopping and eating at the cafes. It had not changed since the last time I had visited close to twenty years ago. The only noticeable difference was the price of goods sold in the stores and the value of the Euro.
We again were fortunate to find a café that had "specials". Our lunch, which consisted of pizza and a bottle of wine for three people, ended up costing us 50 Euros. Not a bad deal considering that the café was located in a popular piazza. After our Italian lunch we headed back to the train station where we caught the next train for Livorno. We arrived back on the ship with one hour to spare.
The next morning we debarked the Carnival Freedom in what was one of the smoothest debarkation procedures that we had ever encountered. Our private car was waiting for us and took us to the airport. At FCO we waited in various check in lines for nearly three hours before we were finally able to board our plane back to the States.
In conclusion, the trip had a port intensive itinerary that took us to all of the places that we wanted to see at an inexpensive cost compared to a land based vacation in Europe. Carnival needs to improve its food operations though if it wants to continue to remain competitive in the marketplace.
We were on the March 22 Eastern Carribean Cruise. This was our fifth cruise and our first Carnival cruise.
We had a very wet, cloudy and cold start to the cruise which was unfortunate, but we got some sun by Wednesday. We have cruised in May, June and July in the past and always had sun and warmth. I think March is just that month where you never know. I did notice the seas were a lot rougher too.
I won't make this very long but I did want to say that the Freedom did not measure up to our other cruises. It was ok, but just ok. Carnival does not do anything great. In my opinion, Carnival does the bare minimum and honestly it was a bit of a let down.
For us, the best part was the ports. We loved Meagan's Bay and would definitly go back to St. Thomas again. We paid a taxi driver $40.00 for four of us and went to Meagan's Bay where we rented beach chairs and mats and had a wonderful day! A nice surprise was that the captain chose to let usstay until 10:00 instead of 5:00. That was a wonderful surprise and we enjoyed every minute of St. Thomas and all the beautiful views.
The worse part of the cruise was the lack of service. No pampering whatsoever. We were not surprised, however, since we had read many reviews regarding the service prior to our cruise. I have always read that no two people will have the same experience, but we too felt the lack of customer relations on the Freedom. It was not just one person or one area. With our experience, it was everywhere and with a variety of crew members. That sounds like we are picky people, but honestly, we never once felt appreciated. The crew are not kind people and certainly seem to be a bit overwhelmed.
The Carnival Freedom is not a ship we would ever consider taking again, nor would we book another Carnival Cruise.
We just got home from our latest cruise. First off, I will never get an aft facing cabin again. Always too hot and no privacy. We like to enjoy our balcony while in the nude. Due to the ship design on the Freedom, you are fully exposed to both sides and above.
Due to last minute booking, we had late seating for diner. We only ate in the dining room one time, and the food was not presented with the usual florish and effect.
The buffet choice was very plain and almost the same all week long. It was tasty but not anything to get excited about.
The shows were very good and never had a problem getting a seat in the showroom, even when getting there 5 minutes before showtime. There did not seem to be much interest in the shows on this cruise.
Also, my wife said that the shops had very few of the usual sales and there was never any crowd in the the stores. Even when they had their $19.99 watch sales, we went back an hour later and they still had a full table ofsale watches that had still not been sold.
Their 24-hour pizza needs to be replaced with the burger bar. The pizza was not edible unless you were drunk.
The people that work in the spa need to be replaced! They were very rude and always had an "I could care less" attitude, unless you were buying one of their high priced services. We like to use the steam rooms and they "forgot" to turn them on many times during the week. Then there was the time that they allowed three male maintenance workers into the ladies sauna to fix something, but failed to see if it was empty first. It didn't bother my wife, but the other two ladies in there were very upset. My wife complained to the front desk, but only got a shrug and then the employee went back to talking on the phone.
The room steward was great, as they usually are, and we did leave him a nice tip. They had some very nice entertainment throughout the ship, but it seemed like everything was always running at the same time. So you couldn't go from one show to another.
All in all we had a good, but not great, time and we will be sailing again in July on the Glory. We have a better located cabin on that sailing and hope to have a better review then.
If anyone has a question, please e-mail me and I will answer. My email addy is email@example.com
My cruise is scheduled for 2/7/2010 but I just had to tell people of the awful treatment we have received from Carnival and US Air Cruises. Today is 1/22/2010. 6 days ago we booked a Carnival Cruise with US Air. Today the price went down $70 per person for the same category we booked, we had booked 2 cabins/ 4people. Neither US Air or Carnival would do anything, including giving us an upgrade. They had our money and so screwed us big time. Never do business with these people. It would not have cost them a dime to give us an upgrade for the money we paid, but they refused. No refund, no online credit, no upgrade. Just screwed. I am in customer service and when it doesn't cost you anything to keep a customer happy you do it. Not these people. We even talked to supervisors on both sides but to no avail. Just screwed. Cruise with another line and don't use US Air.
I give a thumbs up to the Carnival Freedom. I had a very enjoyable 8-day Caribbean cruise in December 2008.
Accommodations My stateroom was a window cabin on level one, area 6B. It was very spacious and well appointed, and I found the bed (two twins that the steward transformed to a king for us on request) extremely comfortable. The bathroom was modern, and the steward service was first rate. All the stewards were friendly and greeted all passengers with a smile. The level 1, midship (where Level 0 is the crew's quarters), was a great place to be on rough days, since when I went upstairs I felt a tad queasy, but not in my stateroom. Others on upper floors found their balconies to be worth putting up with the extra sway. If you get two adjoining balcony rooms, you can open up the wall to have a large patio. The TV had all the major networks, a few cable stations, music stations, free movies, and lots of info about the ship. Wifi worked in the room, but it was expensive, at 75 cents per minute plus a $4set up fee. It cost $4 minimum to get anything done after logging on. They also have an internet café if you don't bring your own computer.
Food Food was good, but not gourmet. They offered a $30/person gourmet dinner (not including wine) with reservations. Others told us that it was excellent. We dined in the Posh dining room, early seating. Our main server, Sumantha from Thailand, was simply wonderful, and her assistant was good as well. We did find that at the open seating breakfast and lunch in the Posh, the servers that were not familiar with us were not very friendly, but we still preferred to be served rather than dealing with the buffet most of the time, since they did bring our food begrudgingly.
We found a nice variety of items at dinner, and most of the time they were presented very well. If other passengers on board had not complained of the lesser food quality compared to the past, I wouldn't have known the difference. Some highlights were lobster tail, rack of lamb, various fish dishes, plus imaginative appetizers. The pastry chef on board was especially good. A lot of people preferred the international buffet on Lido deck, where they would feature a different country's cuisine every night, although always with selections of what could be called "normal food." There were also lots of other food stations including fish & chips (plus other fish items), a deli that made excellent hot and cold sandwiches and great burgers (top quality meat on those), another burger grill near the main pool area, a Tandoor stand, a sushi stand, and a Mongolian bbq stand. Although I love Mongolian BBQ, the lines were usually too long for my patience level. Some of the specialty stands were open for lunch, but most just for dinner.
The breakfast buffet had a fresh egg station that sometimes had a substantial line. The rest of the breakfast buffet seemed mediocre to me, although others preferred it to the sit-down meal. They had a couple of midnight bites buffets, but they were very limited; no longer the midnight buffets of old (which is by far the best as far as I am concerned!). The one exception was the New Orleans Mardi Gras party night, where they had a nice selection of Cajun food. The only food stand open until late was the pizza stand, and you could always get frozen yogurt with toppings, and beverages (coffee, decaf, cocoa, ice tea & lemonade).
The Ship The décor throughout this new ship was "fun" as opposed to relaxing. I felt like I was on a brand new floating casino. If you like that type of atmosphere, this ship is for you. If you are looking for a relaxing retreat, this ship is not a good fit. The productions were not quite Las Vegas quality, but were very good, and the sound and acoustics in the theatre were excellent. A duo played a variety of music in the main lobby every night, which my in-laws enjoyed, but I didn't think they were very good. A very good rock trio from the Philippines played nightly in a club, and were featured in the excellent Beatles production as well. Most of the party action happened on the huge Lido pool area, where there were pools, spas, and a giant TV screen that showed various concerts, games, and films during the day. Another adults only pool, spa and bar area at the stern was also very popular. One section was devoted to kids, which was good as it kept them away from the other areas! On sea days there were non-stop activities. I enjoyed the trivia contests, and have several plastic ships on a stick to show for it. My in-laws spent a lot of money in the spa trying to get healthy. I took several golf lessons that were fairly reasonably priced.
Although the ship is huge, with a 3,000 person capacity, I was amazed at how smoothly everything operated, including embarkation and debarkation. The ship didn't seem any more crowded than smaller ships with fewer facilities. I hear the gym was large and excellent. The casino was also popular. There were several other bars and lounges throughout the ship. I liked the atmosphere in the piano bar. Note that smoking is allowed in the casino, a few of the bars, and on one side of the ship on the open decks. I also smelled smoke coming out of several rooms. The age of people on the ship ran the gamut, which was nice.
The main negative thing I can think of is with regards to the unhelpful purser/information officers. They were not cheerful ever, and not helpful with regards to the ports, as Carnival heavily pushed their expensive shore excursions. If you wanted to go off without a Carnival tour, you were on your own. I strongly recommend doing research about the ports before you leave home, and print out the info and bring it with you, or save it on your computer -- as a document, not as a bookmark. Doing research online while onboard is an expensive proposition. As an example, we rented a jeep on St. Thomas for $100 including insurance, versus $240 for the four of us to go around on a tour. If you can afford it, however, signing up with excursions is the most relaxing and worry-free way to go. I just hate being around crowds while off the ship. One thing the staff was correct about was that driving through most of the port cities is a nightmare. It took close to an hour to get from the west side of Charlotte Amalie back to the cruise ship area where Budget Rent a Car is located.
On 6/14/08, our SIL took us to BWI for our 2:30pm flight on Air Canada to Toronto where we had a 4 hour layover before heading to Rome. We were one-half hour late leaving Toronto, arriving in Rome at 11:33am on 6/15/08. What has not happened in decades of travelling happened on 6/15/08. Air Canada lost one of my "essential" pieces of luggage. After being sent to three different counters at the airport, we finally found the right one and filed a report. We headed to the Carnival bus and about 1-1/2 hours later we arrived at the ship.
Embarking was pretty efficient, and it took about one-half hour to be processed through the lines and get onto the ship. There was water and different types of cake in the waiting area to help tide people over while they waited. They took all of our passports which came as a surprise as they usually just take mine because I am an EU citizen. It was later explained that you need a visa in Turkey and since Carnival pays for this and from their experience last year, where everyone (2,974 passengers) hadto stand in line to get their passports stamped, which took hours, Carnival decided to take everyone's passports beforehand, have them stamped and return them to us in Katakolon. I, however, did not see a Turkish stamp in any of our passports.
We had a Cat 11 suite which was very spacious, with lots of storage space, which was great since it was 3 of us. We had the mandatory fire drill at around 7:45 pm, headed to the Lido Deck for dinner, unpacked and then headed to bed.
The buffet food was excellent. Everything we tried was great -- the salads, fruits and bread were fresh. They have at the beginning of each food line a dispenser with hand sanitizer, which is an excellent idea. They have a Mongolian corner which had a great variety of items to choose from. You add your meats, spices, rice, etc. and they will cook it for you. The lines there were usually very long. There was also a Meiji Sushi Bar, which we didn't try. The Deli had great sandwiches and we ate there twice. One day at sea, they had a "Chocolate Extravaganza" buffet. A very grand display, but my sugar levels went up just looking at all that chocolate. We ate in the dining room once and were not impressed.
We went to some of the shows. Andy Leach from Britain was very funny and even had some pretty good magic tricks. The Jump, Jive & Wail show was tolerable, and also the Guest Talent Show was mostly good, with a powerful rendering of "New York, New York" by one of the passengers, and she received a standing ovation. The Cruise Director, Todd Wittmer, even took part, and he was not bad at all. I enjoyed Todd; he was funny and informative and really wanted everyone to have a great time. My favorite show was a "Ticket to Ride" featuring all Beatles songs, which had everyone on their feet singing and dancing. They even give us those colorful thingamajigs to wave around. It was a lot of fun.
The ship's internet was ridiculously slow and cost $55.00 for the first 100 minutes ($0.55 per minute), an activation fee of $3.95, $0.50 to print a page, and once your plan had expired, it was $0.75 per minute.
Our Cabin Steward, Neganin, was first-rate and his tip reflected our satisfaction with him.
Ana at the Information Desk was also very helpful. When we first arrived and filed a report about our missing luggage, she was very sympathetic and gave us Carnival T-shirts and Carnival leather bags full of toiletries. She also called us every day regarding the status of our luggage, which we received a week later in Athens.
Itinerary Naples: We were tired and since we visited this port 2 years ago, we just did some shopping downtown for items that were in our lost luggage.
Day at Sea: We slept in late, and did nothing but relax.
Marmaris: There were only 3 excursions offered at this port. I didn't see anything interesting, so we took a taxi to the City Center for 10 Euros. There were hundreds of shops, some on the beach, most under covered awnings, selling everything you can think of. We walked around the town a bit and opted to walk back along the marina to the ship, which took about 40 minutes.
Izmir: Booked an excursion to the Archaeological Museum and Ancient Ephesus. We were supposed to leave at 9:45am, but didn't leave until 10:15am. We got back late due to the bus getting a busted air suspension hose and we had to wait to get on another bus. It was hot, but they gave us cool bottles of water. That of course delayed the ship which was supposed to leave at 4:30pm but didn't leave until 5:15pm. We, however, had an absolutely wonderful time at Ancient Ephesus. The Hadrian Temple was impressive and is the first structure to be made totally of marble. We saw the Greek Goddess Nike statue, who represents athletic strength and victory, and which the well-known shoe and sports equipment company is named after. When you see my pictures, you will see how they came up with the Swoosh logo. You have to make sure you get a landing pass before you leave the ship in lieu of a visa, if not you will have to pay 35 Euros for a visa before you are allowed back on the ship.
Istanbul: We took the Palace of the Sultans tour which took us to the Blue Mosque, the Topaki Palace and the Grand Bazaar. I expected to see more of the Blue Mosque -- we just saw one big room -- although the decorative walls, ceiling and windows were quite striking. Half of the room was cordoned off for prayers. In fact, it was being vacuumed in preparation for prayers while we were there. You have to take off your shoes before you enter (Carnival gave us bags to put our shoes in) and your knees and shoulders had to be covered. There was someone at the door to give you a scarf if you did not meet this criterion. I used the restroom outside the Mosque. What an experience that was. I was charged .50 Euros to use what was basically a hole in the ground, with a tap and a bucket to flush.
The Topkapi Palace, wow, it was a walled city back in the day, housing over 4,000 people, and is a complex made up of four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. The palace contains large collections of porcelain, robes, weapons, shields, and armor. The treasury section has breathtaking collections, including the 7th largest diamond in the world. No pictures were allowed, but outside the palace vendors were selling postcards with the very items that we were not allowed to photograph. I wonder how the vendors got their pictures. The description of the excursion said that there would be a short stop for a carpet weaving demonstration, but it was really a carpet selling pitch. The host was very cordial and not pushy at all. He gave us hot apple cider and a cookie while he showed us his carpets. They were beautiful, but I can't see myself buying a carpet for $30,000.00. Do you know how many cruises I can go on for that kind of money?
We left there and walked up the street to the Grand Bazaar. What can I say about the Grand Bazaar? Overwhelming is one word. With 4,000 shops you can just imagine that you can find anything in here. The vendors are aggressive and will follow you trying to sell you their goods if you show the slightest interest. Of course, you have to haggle, they expect that. My DH is good at that, so I just selected what I wanted and let him do the rest. We bought a lot of souvenirs here and of course the famous Turkish Delight. The vendors will take any kind of currency.
Day at Sea: After 3 ports in row, we were all ready for this day at sea.
Athens: We took the Acropolis and Plaka tour. The Acropolis, the Parthenon, Temple of Athena, The Erechtheum, Odeon of Herodes Atticus (where Yanni held his "Live at the Acropolis" concert in 1993), you can just feel the glory that was ancient Greece. These are historical sites that you should not miss. We had a very knowledgeable guide and she explained everything in detail. Totally breathtaking and we got some great pictures. It was crowded and very, very windy. After all, it is one of the highest points in Athens. You felt like you had just been exfoliated when you got back down to street level. There is a lot of uphill walking on rough and sometimes smooth and slippery terrain. Two people fell, and one lady ended up with bloody knees. Plaka is a picturesque old historical neighborhood of Athens, just under the Acropolis. We did some shopping here and had some very tasty ice cream.
Katakolon: We took the Museum and Ancient Olympia excursion. The excavation of the Temple of Hera, the Hill of Kronos and the Temple of Zeus was astounding and it covered quite a big area. This was also the site of the ancient Olympic Games. The museum, which had a wonderful shaded garden, had marble statues of Zeus and a collection of ancient pieces of amour and bronze figures. We saw where they had the terrible fires last year, and it was sad to see all those burnt areas. We had left Athens on the 22nd and on the 25th there was a large forest fire on the outskirts of Athens and arson is suspected.
Day at Sea: The Captain took us past the Island of Stromboli. As we moved in further, we could see the main village of about 500 people of the island sitting at the foot of the volcano. On closer examination, however, it was clear to see that the paths of lava were on the opposite side, thus the village was safe from any potential lava flow.
Florence: We were also here 2 years ago, but DD wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa so we took an excursion there. The Leaning Tower was as imposing 2 years ago as it is today, as was the Cathedral, the Baptistery and the Monumental Cemetery.
Rome: We did this on our own. We took the free shuttle from the ship to downtown (about 10 minutes), and walked for about 15 minutes to the train station. The tickets were 9 Euros each round trip from Civitavecchia to the end of the line, the Roma Termini. You have to remember before you board to get your tickets stamped at one of the machines along the train station and the same thing when you are coming back. We bought tickets for the Hop on, Hop off bus for 16 Euros per person which allowed us to ride on the Yellow or Red Roma Christina Tour Bus. Our train tickets were also good for riding the Metro Bus A or B. We saw most of the major sights -- The Roman Forum, The Pantheon, The Spanish Steps, which were packed with tourists; The Trevi Fountain, and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which was a huge and magnificent building. Across the street was a shady park with benches, where we stopped for a while to get our breath back. What can I say about the Coliseum? Words can't describe it. I can see why it is considered an architectural and engineering wonder. It was truly a jaw dropping sight. We left about 9 hours later and caught the train back to the bus which took about 1 hour, and then back to the ship to finish packing (we had started the day before).
Debarkation was easy. We got up around 5:45am and had breakfast. They called our number at 6:40am, so we got our luggage and were onboard the bus at 7:15am. We arrived at the airport at 8:15am and spent 1-1/2 hours in line before we were checked in.
We had a superb time and I was happy to be able to share this experience with my DD as this was her first visit to Europe.
It was our first cruise with Carnival Lines (Carnival Freedom) and I must admit, we were a little apprehensive due to reputation as a party ship for younger crowd, however the price was attractive (7 day with balcony, hotel night prior to embarkation, air both ways, all tax and port charges -- $3200.00 for both of us) so we decided to take the plunge. We are a middle age couple and we travelled with another couple in our age group and none of us were first time cruisers.
I give Carnival A+ for organization as everything went quite smoothly from our departure from Canada to the overnight at a very nice Hilton in Miami to embarkation and disembarkation. Transfers were quite smooth without a hitch and Carnival reps were always around to help. They seemed to be everywhere.
I won't go into the layout of the ship as the décor on most of these ships is much the same and this isn't something that concerns us in any regard. As long as it is as advertized/clean (and it was), we are happy.
The entertainment was good, although we are not into itthat much. Of particular note were the two stage productions in the Victoria room -- Tribute to the Beatles and Swing Nite, both superb. The Piano Bar was a haunt of ours, really good singer. There is a good size casino but we were not into that and there were other bars, but we didn't frequent them so can't comment. There was a place for online access in the corner of the Havana room, but I thought it was quite a bit much for access (if you want to communicate, email, etc.) 0.75 cents per minute and it was slow, slow connection speed.
On the subject of food -- well, there was plenty of it, and everything was there -- believe me, judging by the size of some people as I never saw so many overweight/obese people in my life. We ate our evening dinner at the "Chic," although I wouldn't class it as bad, it was certainly inconsistent to say the least, a couple of superb meals followed by not so good (overcooked/cold/soggy and the like). Our two waiters (male & female) looked after us well though and were quite courteous/friendly -- actually we found out later in the cruise they were an "item" and it was nice to see how they worked.
Interesting thing was the mixture of people. Everything from infants, young families, twenty something year old rep up single males watching the young swimsuit clad members of the opposite gender. We didn't witness any inappropriate behavior/language/drunkenness from the 20 whatever year olds. Also the children were well behaved (we heard there were 800 onboard) and were not in your face type of thing and running around.
All in all for us, it was a pleasant experience. Carnival seemed to have something for everybody. There was a Captain's meet and greet formal cocktail get together (free cocktails and wine) followed by dinner -- which was a good meal I might add.
Our route was Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Ocho Rios for the ports of call. Grand Cayman was the best. The others we didn't care for that much, plenty of local hustling for your bucks -- and that turned us off.
Finally, watch where you eat. In Cozumel we ate at a spot on the waterfront -- got the bathroom "runs" (three of us) and took us out of circulation for a day. So be careful there. Frankly we should have known better.
There was certainly "value added" on our Carnival Cruise aboard the Carnival Freedom and we would do it again.
I would like my prepaid tips returned to me! Our biggest complaint is that we prepaid and what a big mistake that was. Carnival Freedom's staff know they have made their money and therefore can treat you with such a lack of respect! I am just amazed at how Freedom's staff lacks in customer service! I read many reviews on this before we left and thought those people must have been very picky, but after experiencing the rude behavior first hand, I agree 100% with them.
Service Very poor customer service. As a matter of fact, I would have to say that customer service was non exsistant.
Food Poor quality food in both Posh Dining Room and on Lido Deck.
Entertainment Ok, but too much smoke. They have smoke machines that blow smoke at you for 1 hour during shows. It was quite uncomfortable to say the least.
The movement of the ship was the worst I have experienced. This was our fifth cruise and I have never felt a ship move like this one. In the Posh Dining Room -- Aft -- you could feel the vibrations so badly that you couldalmost not eat.
Pools are small and although the Freedom has a lot of deck space, everyone saves seats!! Unless you have saved a seat by 7:00 you won't get one. So much for the Capers saying they would remove towels after 30 minutes. The staff does nothing as the towels just sit and sit on the deck chairs hour after hour.
The Cruise Director, Norgee (spelling?), was pretty awlful. She did not seem like she knew what she was doing and seemed to talk in circles a lot. The morning show was ridiculous and the guy who sat with her in the robe was just plain unprofessional.
The girl who works in the specialty coffee shop near the casino is very rude. I got a hot tea almost every night and she always had a bad attitude.
The staff that does afternoon tea in the Cigar Lounge, (weird having afternoon tea in the cigar lounge), was very rude. Never smiled. I brought my daughter to tea and I wanted it to be special, but they were just not going to do anything special for you, let alone a 9 year old girl. The customer realtions on this ship is beyond bad and probably beyond help.
The trivia games on the big screen are very long. Who really wants to answer 60 trivia questions or sit there and watch 60 trivia questions flash on the big screen? Very boring to say the least!
The stairs at the midship pool area are very slippery. I saw several people slip!! This is a real problem that needs to be addressed.
I would never take another Carnival cruise again and I would certainly never suggest the Freedom to anyone! My suggestion would be to stick with the lines that actually love having you as a customer and avoid Carnival.
I and my wife are usually very easy to please and we very rarely complain about anything, but after this experience, I must voice my concerns and complaints.
On embarkation day, luggage was loaded onto containers to be put on board. Around two in the afternoon, it started to rain, and all the containers that were on the dock next to the ship were out in the weather. I counted over 40 containers at this point. At 3 P.M. with over 30 containers of luggage left out in the rain, and only one hour before the cruise is to start, break time for the dock crew, which means that the luggage will sit out in the rain for another 15 minutes. When it started to rain, why didn't the dock crew put tarps over the containers to protect their paying customer's property? Carnival Corporation management failed in their responsibility with a lack of common sense and a lack of caring. My luggage, along with most of the passengers' luggage was soaked. Also, the rain made the luggage tags, which we had to print out on our own printer, unreadable. Is thisthe first time it's rained at the docks before a cruise? Or maybe this is another way for Carnival to bring in some extra cash from the on board clothes dryers?
Poor quality food in the dining room. The meats that were served were very tough and everything else was bland. There was better food at the buffet up on Lido deck. The problem with the restaurants on Lido deck was the tables were not cleared of the previous people's dishes and trays. We had to walk around and around to find an empty table that was cleared while passing many tables that still had not been cleaned. Many times we just cleared the table ourselves.
At the Pool deck bar, starboard side, waiting for a drink, man next to me served, two people away served, group of young girls came over to bar and bartender went over to them before serving me and my wife. Yes, the bartender did see me waiting.
No pool towels delivered to my room. I had to make two phone calls to finally have them delivered for one of my excursions. Alas, they were delivered, after I left for my excursion, this was Tuesday morning. Let's see, cruise started on Saturday, no pool towels until late Tuesday morning, go figure!
My stateroom was very noisy. I was on deck 1, and with the engine noise, (loud), and the occasional banging from below, it made for discomforting times, not peaceful and relaxing.
Breakfast on Lido deck, food was good, but had to go from coffee machine to coffee machine to find coffee as they constantly would run dry. The crew did not keep up.
Capers, the on board daily paper of the next day's activities, was delivered to my stateroom in Spanish. I had to call to get it delivered in English, that is if it was delivered at all. We did not get it the first night.
No room service cards in stateroom. I didn't notice this as my wife and I don't usually use this service, but on our last night, I wanted to have breakfast delivered the next morning to make it easier for us before disembarkation. I wish I had ordered as the docking time was supposed to be around 8 in the morning, but it really turned out to be hours earlier. The ship was cleared at 7, and because my wife and I decided to carry our luggage off the ship, we missed breakfast completely.
Comment cards delivered to stateroom without a pen to fill them out. I guess Carnival does not want you to fill them out! Had to call room service to have a pen delivered. Was told at the disembarkation talk that there would be boxes "all over the ship" to put the comment cards in. I never saw one. I had to hand my comment cards to one of the crew as we were getting off the ship. I'm sure my comment cards will be filed somewhere, maybe the circular file?
Oh, I almost forgot -- I had to pay more for all this with Carnival's fuel surcharge added after I booked and placed my deposit.
Not what I expected from past cruises with Carnival.
What do I have to do to get my prepaid tips back? With having the tips prepaid, the crew knows that however bad they are, they will still get their money.
I tried to voice my complaints and concerns online, but being limited to 1000 characters, it was impossible. When the email reply came back, it stated that I had to call customer relations. Carnival should be calling me after I made the initial contact. This is very poor customer relations. I did call Carnival, and after being on hold for 20 minutes, was told that my complaints would be forwarded to somebody in management, but I am still waiting to hear back. I have a feeling that I will never hear from them again.
There were some other problems, but for the sake of brevity, I will end this review here.