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View Full Version : FREEDOM REVIEW - 8 Day Western


LizaMM
February 25th, 2009, 10:10 AM
Carnival Freedom
Feb 14 – Feb 22, 2009
8 Day Western Caribbean
Cozumel – Costa Rica – Panama

First – a little background. I (Liza) am a 41 y.o. single mom with 4 kids. I have cruised as the single adult with kids, with a BF and also solo. The Freedom was my 6th Carnival cruise. This particular cruise was a vacation for myself and my 2 oldest daughters – Rachel,19 and Emma, 16. This was my oldest daughters 3rd cruise and the 16 year olds 4th.

All in all this was a fantastic cruise! We had a wonderful time and I know that this experience with my daughters was priceless!! I am fortunate enough to have gone with my 2 older girls on the Freedom and will be sailing on the Liberty in April with my 2 younger children and my mother.

Pre-Cruise

We arrived in FLL at around 7:00PM on Friday. I had made reservations at the Hyatt Place. I got this as a bid on Priceline after doing some research on CC and better bidding. I was very happy and would definitely recommend this hotel as well as stay there again pre-cruise.

The hotel had a shuttle from the airport as well as one to the pier for no fee. Continental breakfast was also included.

The hotel was very nice. All of the staff we encountered were friendly and helpful. The hotel was full and there were many, many cruisers there for the night. The room was great for the 3 of us with a suite set-up having a king size bed and pull out couch. It was also located very well. We settled in and then went for a walk around which ended in a liquor store to purchase a couple of bottles for the cruise. We ate a late dinner at Outback and walked back to the hotel to settle in.

The hotel offers a free shuttle to the pier which is nice. However, had 2 issues which I thought would be a problem for us. One, they said that the shuttle did not even begin running until 11AM and two, the hotel was full of people inquiring about the shuttle service and talking about what time they would be down for it. We decided that it would be best to get a cab to the port at around 10:15 before the hoards of people congregated in the lobby.

We went down at around 9:45 with our bags for a 2nd cup of coffee. I should mention that there is a continental breakfast included as well. None of us were hungry so I can’t comment on what was offered but we did enjoy the coffee which was Starbucks and they even offered a choice of strong or mild blend in the carafes. Anyway, I went outside to have a cigarette and the shuttle driver was there. He asked if we wanted to go to the port and said if we hopped on now he would take us before it got crazy. So of course we took him up on that! There was 1 other couple on the bus which were dropped off at a Celebrity ship before us.

When we made it over to where the Freedom was docked the luggage carts were just being moved over and set up for drop offs….it was very early! The shuttle driver was fantastic. He had to stop across the way since there were still several Carnival transport busses loading up with people who had just disembarked so he walked over and got us porter and made sure we were good to go.

Embarkation

Incredibly quick and not just painless but FUN!! We were there at just a few minutes after 10 so I was not sure we would be able to get inside but We were able to go right into the terminal. I think there were only about 10 people already there…No lines for us to check in at all and we were handed Zone 1 boarding card. We sat in the waiting area and chatted with fellow cruisers, which is always fun! Many people arrived as we waited. A few of the people we would continue to see throughout the trip and talk with. The Carnival staff was also very friendly and helpful.

Boarding started at 11:15 and off we went! Through the larger check in area and then quick embarkation photo, Sign & Sail photo and then up the very steep gangway. It really is steep! (There was someone in a wheelchair next to us and two people were working on pushing it up.) We were so excited! There is really nothing like those first glimpses of the ship! We were handed a Capers and a map as we entered on Deck 3.

We took a quick glance around. We all thought the ship was beautiful! Very antsy to get up to the Lido Deck so we decided we would head there and explore the ship more later.

Since we were among the first people to board the Lido Deck had plenty of lounge chairs…..we grabbed three near the pool and settled in to chat, laugh, and enjoy. By 11:35 I had my first Fun Ship Special and was in full cruise mode!



More to come!!! I came home to sick kids so stick with me...this might take a bit of time to complete!!

Feel free to ask any questions in the meantime.....

Mort13ers
February 25th, 2009, 10:23 AM
A great Start, I am on the Freedom in 39 days and can't wait. Hope the kids get better....

logbook
February 25th, 2009, 10:54 AM
Hi Lisa, looking forward to more of your review. We'll be on the Freedom March 14!

pamlof
February 25th, 2009, 11:18 AM
Can't wait to hear more - we are cruising on April 11th. Do you have copies of the Capers - We are traveling with a large group and we are all curious about the activities for this cruise.

teach21566
February 25th, 2009, 11:27 AM
Please more, we are leaving in April on a 6 day western. Will be waiting for more to come

deb0928
February 25th, 2009, 11:35 AM
We just booked on the June 28th, I would also love to see the capers. We'll have kids 11, 13, 14 and 15 with us.

ATLCruiseJunkie
February 25th, 2009, 01:28 PM
Yay! I've been waiting for another review of this itinerary - I'm booked in May. Looking forward to the rest of your review.

thinkpink
February 25th, 2009, 01:55 PM
more more more!!!

ahha 24 days til freedom for MEEEEEEEEE

300EXPRESS
February 25th, 2009, 01:58 PM
Lisa -
Hope your kids are feeling better! Did they pick up sickness from the cruise?
I'm sailing on April 5th for 6 days - CANNOT WAIT!!!
I have two daughters 15 & 12. Please tell me everything you can about the ship and camps for the kids. My oldest insists she is NOT doing it. But...from what I've read on these board, I will check it out with her on the first night and hopefully she'll want to participate in something. Any and all info will help.
Can't wait to hear more!

LizaMM
February 25th, 2009, 02:01 PM
I am sorry to say that I do not have all the Capers. I had intended to save them and post them but at some point mid-cruise a bunch of them got thrown away (not by me but I think the Cabin Steward during cleaning). I have a couple but not sure what days.....I have yet to unpack!!!

There was someone from the Jan 8 Day Western who had posted them. I will find the link for that and post it here later. I can take a look and let you know what was different/same between Jan and Feb also.

LizaMM
February 25th, 2009, 02:13 PM
OK....I just found it. Here is a link to the post with the Capers thanks to CruinBuddy:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=17958174&postcount=10

This is the direct link to webshots:

http://community.webshots.com/album/569871707BFlbbn

I'll take a look at them and let you know what I notice as far as differences after I continue my review some!

JPNROB
February 25th, 2009, 02:17 PM
Sailing Eastern Caribbean March 28 which is not soon enough. Not many reviews on the Freedom so we need more of yours to fulfill our fix. You can get more Freedom info, including pics and capers here: http://www.beyondships.com/CarnivalFreedom-Profile.html

There are some great pics.

brt49
February 25th, 2009, 03:02 PM
Thanks for the links!!!

Chriz
February 25th, 2009, 03:19 PM
Looking forward to more of you review!!

angelsbaby1
February 25th, 2009, 03:19 PM
Hi, we sail on May 23rd!!! I can't stand the wait :( I was wondering why there is so little info on the Freedom. Thanks for the link and info, we can't wait to read the rest of the review even thought we are on the exotic eastern any little bit of info is exciting to us.

AnitaMarie

cruisinbuddy
February 25th, 2009, 03:21 PM
OK....I just found it. Here is a link to the post with the Capers thanks to CruinBuddy:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=17958174&postcount=10

This is the direct link to webshots:

http://community.webshots.com/album/569871707BFlbbn

I'll take a look at them and let you know what I notice as far as differences after I continue my review some!
That's Cruisinbuddy, LOL. I hope you had as much fun as we did, except for missing Costa Rica.

LizaMM
February 25th, 2009, 04:06 PM
That's Cruisinbuddy, LOL. I hope you had as much fun as we did, except for missing Costa Rica.

Sorry about that! I always try to give credit to the OP when I add a link to something......guess I was rushing when I typed it!!!!

We did have a fantastic cruise!

amcjeep4life
February 25th, 2009, 07:25 PM
I have EIGHT LONG MONTHS before we cruise this itinerary. Please just tell us now that you made all your ports! I was so excited to read crusinbuddy's review, and then they missed Costa Rica! Hope your kids are feeling better, if only so you can write your review faster! :p

rosebud1g
February 25th, 2009, 07:57 PM
Thanks Lisa for the info so far. We are going on the same cruise
in August. Cant wait!!!!!!! 5 ports is awesome.
Did you do any excursions with the ship and on your own?
If so which ones can you recommend?? thanks in advance for your input.

logbook
February 26th, 2009, 08:14 AM
Lisa, I can't wait to read about what you did at each port. Also, safety seems to be a concern in Costa Rica and Panama. Can't wait to hear any info you have on that - and if you walked around any of the shopping areas without FEAR! Thanks!

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 08:26 AM
Thanks Lisa for the info so far. We are going on the same cruise
in August. Cant wait!!!!!!! 5 ports is awesome.
Did you do any excursions with the ship and on your own?
If so which ones can you recommend?? thanks in advance for your input.

I was on the Western itin. which was actually only 3 Ports (Cozumel, Costa Rica & Panama) and included 4 Days At Sea......which I LOVE!!!!

I think there were some recent reviews of the 8 day eastern though.

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 08:41 AM
To continue.....

Much of that first day was spent relaxing, alternating with unpacking, Cruise Critic Meet & Greet, Muster Drill and of course exploring the ship.

We all thought the décor was pretty cool by the way! Yes…it is over the top as in not something I would decorate my home in BUT I thought it added to the whole Fun Ship experience. We actually spent time taking note of the different detail included in the various public spaces. The details are amazing!!

Take some time to check out the ceilings in each area…We really found it interesting how every final touch was thought of.

Rather than go into a day by day detail right now I am going to skip to a description of the cabin and overall Dining Room experience etc…..sorry for jumping around but with sick kids I am typing up what I can in pieces!


Cabin

We were in a balcony cabin on the Verandah Deck - #8296 – mid-ship. The cabin met our expectations as I have been in balcony cabins before. The beds were set up as 2 twins and we had a couch that was converted into a bed in the evening. This was a great cabin area as far as gaining easy access to anything and quite simple to pop back and forth between the Lido Deck during the day.

Our Steward was Perfecto and I am not sure of the assistant’s name. While I have no complaints about how our cabin was maintained at all – they did a great a job dealing with 2 teen girls and their stuff!! I did notice that the interaction was much less then on previous cruises. While I did not get to ask it was evident that Perfecto had more cabins to deal with then I noticed in the past. Although they were clearly very busy and had no time for small talk the job was done quite well and anything we needed was taken care of timely. What more could you ask for??!!??!!

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 08:48 AM
amcjeep4life, logbook - I will get to full reviews of the days in port but to quickly respond....

In Cozumel I took the girls for a Royal Dolphin Swim which I booked directly through Dolphin Disoveries. We also spent time around the port area.

Costa Rica was White Water Rafting for us booked through Carnival. We loved the excursion and did have a little bit of time to walk around the shopping at the pier. We felt very safe and had no issues at all.

Panama - we did not book anything. We got off the ship and walked around the immediate pier shopping area only. Also felt quite safe.

I should mention that we did this intinerary before (actually it was Belize - Costa Rica - Panama on the Legend on '06) and we knew exactly what to expect in Costa Rica and Panama.

airhead22
February 26th, 2009, 08:51 AM
We are planning to do the white water rafting also. I am not sure if we are going to do the ship tour or find an independent. Did you hear of anyone doing a trip with anyone other than the ship? How was yours?

logbook
February 26th, 2009, 08:51 AM
Thanks, Lisa. Looking forward to the rest of your review!

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 09:06 AM
We are planning to do the white water rafting also. I am not sure if we are going to do the ship tour or find an independent. Did you hear of anyone doing a trip with anyone other than the ship? How was yours?

I did not meet anyone on our sailing who did it independently. There was someone who wrote a review a couple of months ago. If you search the Costa Rica Board for White Water Rafting it will come up.

FYI...In one review the person mentions seeing Carnival tour people walking...that WAS NOT the passengers on the tour....we saw the same thing and talked to them and they were Carnival Crew who are given the option of a cheaper tour and so they don't get the same transport, lunch etc.

I went with carnival because last time I was in Costa Rica I met a bunch of people who had close calls due to traffic and I did not want to risk being back late.

We LOVED this excursion!

rosebud1g
February 26th, 2009, 09:12 AM
Hi Lisa
Oh I dont know what I was thinking!! We looked at booking the Western Panama Itinerary since we have not done that one, but are doing the Eastern 5 port. How cool was going thru the canal?? can you post some pics of that? Did they have alot of things to do on the ship for 4 port days? Thanks for giving us the review to far! cant wait to hear more, the
ship sounds awesome!!

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 09:22 AM
Hi Lisa
Oh I dont know what I was thinking!! We looked at booking the Western Panama Itinerary since we have not done that one, but are doing the Eastern 5 port. How cool was going thru the canal?? can you post some pics of that? Did they have alot of things to do on the ship for 4 port days? Thanks for giving us the review to far! cant wait to hear more, the
ship sounds awesome!!

We did not go through the canal. The ship docks in Colon and then there are excursions you can take that either visit the Locks or take you through a couple.

We did not go through the canal either time we were there! These excursions are long and not what I personally want to do while on a cruise. I am saving that for a cruise that actually goes through some day ;)

There was a lot to do on the ship. A variety of Activities were held both out by the Lido Deck and also a bunch that were in indoor lounges day and night. I think Carnival does a great job with this. You would be hard pressed to be bored!

CHARLESV32
February 26th, 2009, 10:45 AM
Great review so far Lisa!! I am thinking about booking this one on June 6 to do the same route for my 1 year anniv. I have also done the Belize, Panama and Costa Rica on the Spirit and I enjoyed but my wife has never been. I look forward to your review!!

ooulio
February 26th, 2009, 12:51 PM
We were on the same ship as you. We did an independent tour on Panama. We did not want to spend so long going thru the canal either. WE found a guy outside and took a ride to the Panama Canal and drove to it. We walked up the stairs and saw the Canal. Most of the guys wanted $50.00 but we talked him into $40.00 for the 4 of us. Then we went to the casino. We have done the freedom twice. Last year on the EAstern and this year on the Exotic Western.

LizaMM
February 26th, 2009, 07:34 PM
Dining Room

We were assigned the Posh Dining Room, Lower Level, Late Seating. We had requested late so this was great. We ate dinner in here every night except for the evening we went to the Supper Club. I will address the Lido Deck food, Room Service and Sun King separately. I thought that the food was very good and my girls did as well. There is a nice variety on the menu each night.


We went to dinner the first night and I did notice a difference right away which continued throughout the cruise. Our food was just fine but the staff seemed to be rushed, stressed and over loaded.

My general observation was not so much that they had more tables to deal with but possibly the fact that the galley was stressed with only 2 dining times versus the 4 that used to happen before.

Our original table was for 4 and just the 3 of us were assigned. We usually enjoy having tablemates but decided that this would be nice as well. However, when we were getting ready for dinner the 2nd night I found a card in our mailbox stating that we had a table change.

We were moved to the Upper Level of the Posh Dining Room and were seated with a family of 5 (grandparents, parents and 16 y.o son). We had no clue why we were moved. We finally figured it out a couple of nights later when our tablemates said they had requested a change because originally their family was split up. We also became aware that I had the same last name as they did so we decided that they put us all together because they thought we were part of their family group.


The changes I mentioned seemed more apparent when we were switched to a different table the 2nd night. In the past everyone was served courses at the same time with the head waiter taking on some tasks and the assistant taking on others. This time we felt a little rushed some nights to order and food was served as it arrived so that we were not all eating at the same time for each course.

That extra special attention that I usually enjoy on a cruise was missing. I think that the waiters miss it as well. We had one night – leaving Panama – that was rough seas….the “sickbags” were set out in the hallway and many people were not in the Dining Room. Our tablemates did not show up nor did most of the people in our waiter’s station. We got that old cruise service that night! Jasper had time to chat with us for a bit and we were having a hard time deciding which desert to order. He had been listening and although we each selected one dessert he brought us plates of the others that we had been talking about to try. That night was how our dinners used to always be on a cruise.

As far as the food itself….I enjoyed everything I had. Both my girls commented that they thought that the food was better now than our last cruise on the Legend in 06.

carzyboutcarnival
February 26th, 2009, 07:52 PM
I still have 128 dayys till my cruise, wich is 4 months and 6 dayyss! Didn't you love the 4 days at sea!? That is the reson why we booked this cruise but it is NOT comming fast enough! Do you have pictures of your cruise?? That would help ALOT, thanks!

cbc!

Tom-n-Cheryl
February 26th, 2009, 08:10 PM
...
Our Steward was Perfecto and I am not sure of the assistant’s name. While I have no complaints about how our cabin was maintained at all – they did a great a job dealing with 2 teen girls and their stuff!! I did notice that the interaction was much less then on previous cruises. While I did not get to ask it was evident that Perfecto had more cabins to deal with then I noticed in the past. Although they were clearly very busy and had no time for small talk the job was done quite well and anything we needed was taken care of timely. What more could you ask for??!!??!!

WOW - reading your review... it's.. it's... ALMOST like I was there too!! ;) :D

We asked our cabin steward (#6483) how many cabins he was responsible for. TWENTY-SEVEN was his answer! This has steadily increased though out the years. There must be an end ... what do you think... 30... 35 ?? :eek:

I trust you put that drink coupon to good use?? :)

Hopefully we will see you again (DREAM THANKSGIVING 2010) on the high seas!

Tom

gwilli
February 26th, 2009, 09:07 PM
Thanks LizaMM! Great review of the Freedom. Can't wait until July 4th........

Has anyone been on the train excursions in Costa Rica or Panama?

peter78
February 26th, 2009, 09:51 PM
This is a great thread for me. My family is going on this ship April 5th. Much better than reading reviews in the review section. I also like the link to the pictures of the ship.

Lisa, your comments about people getting different parts of the meal at different times, I have read that in other reviews. I hope we won't see that, but I have learned to go with the flow. I am also concerned about seating for dinner as just 3 of us are going. Who knows who we will be stuck with?

Anyway, great review. I saved this thread as a link, so if you have any more info, I am all ears.

cathyoo
February 27th, 2009, 07:28 AM
Wonderful review.. how were your tablemates? Were you pleased with the change?

DaisyGirl55
February 27th, 2009, 09:03 AM
I am sailing on the Freedom for the 8-day exotic Caribbean in September. Can you tell me when the 2 dress-up nights were? I am pretty sure the first one is on Sunday. Just not sure if the 2nd one is on Thursdays or Friday.

Enjoying your review, and thanks for the link to the ship profiles. Love reading the Capers...makes it all the more real :D

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 10:00 AM
I still have 128 dayys till my cruise, wich is 4 months and 6 dayyss! Didn't you love the 4 days at sea!? That is the reson why we booked this cruise but it is NOT comming fast enough! Do you have pictures of your cruise?? That would help ALOT, thanks!

cbc!

Yup! We picked this itinerary again BECAUSE of the 4 sea days! I wish there were other 8 Day itin. with 4 Sea Days to choose from!!!!

As far as photos.....my camera broke just days before we sailed....I was so upset! I usually take several hundred photos on vacation!

My DD had her camera though. I told her that I want the memory card so I can I can pull off some good photos and post them if possible.....you never know what a 16 y.o. took pictures of!!! :eek: I will try and do that this weekend.


WOW - reading your review... it's.. it's... ALMOST like I was there too!! ;) :D

We asked our cabin steward (#6483) how many cabins he was responsible for. TWENTY-SEVEN was his answer! This has steadily increased though out the years. There must be an end ... what do you think... 30... 35 ??

I trust you put that drink coupon to good use?? :)

Hopefully we will see you again (DREAM THANKSGIVING 2010) on the high seas!

Tom

LOL.....It was great to see you guys again!

It was crazy how many cabins they have. Our service did not seem to be affected as far as the cabin being maintained and getting anything we requested though. I don't know how those stewards do it!

I know you ate in Sun King a few times but did you have a similar view of the Main Dining Room as I did????

I used the DOD card...THANK YOU :D

I would consider the Dream for Thanksgiving for sure! That would probably be a family cruise with whoever I can pull out of school.

One of the people I became friendly with on the Freedom called me yesterday and we were talking about booking the Dream for the end of Feb 2010......that would be my solo cruise. :cool:

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 10:06 AM
This is a great thread for me. My family is going on this ship April 5th. Much better than reading reviews in the review section. I also like the link to the pictures of the ship.

Lisa, your comments about people getting different parts of the meal at different times, I have read that in other reviews. I hope we won't see that, but I have learned to go with the flow. I am also concerned about seating for dinner as just 3 of us are going. Who knows who we will be stuck with?

Anyway, great review. I saved this thread as a link, so if you have any more info, I am all ears.


Glad you are enjoying so far...more to come soon!

I had read about the dinner situation as well and went with an open mind. We went with the flow as well and certainly enjoyed ourselves. Had we not cruised before we probably would not have even noticed.

We were disappointed when we were initially seated alone and then we looked around and said ....hey, this will be just fine! You never know who you will get stick with! LOL

Wonderful review.. how were your tablemates? Were you pleased with the change?

We were very pleased with our tablemates. They were very easy to chat with and seemed like a very nice family.

I am sailing on the Freedom for the 8-day exotic Caribbean in September. Can you tell me when the 2 dress-up nights were? I am pretty sure the first one is on Sunday. Just not sure if the 2nd one is on Thursdays or Friday.

Enjoying your review, and thanks for the link to the ship profiles. Love reading the Capers...makes it all the more real :D


Elegant Nights were Sunday and Friday. The Captains Party was the first Elegant Night.

Tom-n-Cheryl
February 27th, 2009, 11:54 AM
...

I know you ate in Sun King a few times but did you have a similar view of the Main Dining Room as I did????

...

Our first night in the main dining room was the second night of the cruise, and service seemed OK. We had a little time to chat with our server and mentioned that we like to be out of the dining room BEFORE the "festivities" begin each evening - she seemed to understand. The next night in there (3rd night of the cruise) it was incredibly S L O W... I mean we did not have our first starter until 35 minutes into the meal. She apologized, saying something about a horrible line in the kitchen. That meal took a full 90 minutes. Our average is 50 minutes or so -- we almost always SKIP dessert! After that evening they were back "in the groove", and everything came swiftly. We had a very nice table (4 person booth) just for the two of us overlooking the lower level in the aft dining room. We were able to arrange that ahead of time thanks to a contact or two we have at Carnival. :)

...
I would consider the Dream for Thanksgiving for sure! That would probably be a family cruise with whoever I can pull out of school.
...

That would be GREAT - the BEES are starting to BUZZ... :D

...
One of the people I became friendly with on the Freedom called me yesterday and we were talking about booking the Dream for the end of Feb 2010......that would be my solo cruise. :cool:

hmmmm... we just so happen to be booked on the 2/27 sailing.... :cool:


Tom

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 02:42 PM
Our first night in the main dining room was the second night of the cruise, and service seemed OK. We had a little time to chat with our server and mentioned that we like to be out of the dining room BEFORE the "festivities" begin each evening - she seemed to understand. The next night in there (3rd night of the cruise) it was incredibly S L O W... I mean we did not have our first starter until 35 minutes into the meal. She apologized, saying something about a horrible line in the kitchen. That meal took a full 90 minutes. Our average is 50 minutes or so -- we almost always SKIP dessert! After that evening they were back "in the groove", and everything came swiftly. We had a very nice table (4 person booth) just for the two of us overlooking the lower level in the aft dining room. We were able to arrange that ahead of time thanks to a contact or two we have at Carnival. :)



That would be GREAT - the BEES are starting to BUZZ... :D



hmmmm... we just so happen to be booked on the 2/27 sailing.... :cool:


Tom

I think if we had stayed at a table just the 3 of us I might not have noticed the issues I mentioned. Since as a group we would arrive at the same time, order at the same time etc it might have been smoother. Since we were with others the defferential of when we received food was very noticeable.

That is so funny that you are booked on the 2/27 Dream! I had not noticed.....but then again you have so many cruises who can keep track :D

I am looking into it. I was wanting to go in Jan for a solo but the end of Feb might work for me very well. It would actually be a nice time since it would be after the kids winter break and give me a nice vacaion after the hustle and bustle of the holidays and the Feb break.

I may just have that one booked before long!!! Of course I still have stuff to do before I sail in April - hotel, excursions etc. so I might wait to book until after I get back from the Liberty to help get me through the PCD!!

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 02:50 PM
Lido Deck Dining

This is where we had lunch every day. I can’t really comment on breakfast because we only ate this meal on our 2 shore excursion days – once room service and once on the Lido.

There is a fabulous selection of food! We never got anything from the “standard” buffet and always selected one of the specialty stations – Tandoor, Mexican, Fish & Chips, Grill, Deli, Pizza or Mongolian.

I had Mongolian Grill and the Fish & Chips twice. Both very yummy! The Mongolian Grill is a great addition. It does take a while though since each person’s meal is prepared fresh upon selection. Certainly worth the wait in my opinion!

I had Tandoor once and enjoyed it and of course had to have the deli and grill each once as well. The girls ate from the grill a couple of times. My favorite pizza is the goat cheese….I only had that at 4:00AM after closing down the disco 2 nights so you can imagine that at that point it was certainly delicious and hit the spot!!!!!

There is a Sushi Bar on the Promenade Deck in the evenings. It looked good and while I have enjoyed it on other cruises I never did make it there this time.

There is also a “Late Bites” small buffet on the Promenade Deck every night (except during the deck party evening which had a regular midnight buffet on the Lido Deck). I never got anything but my girls got some cookies and brownies once. I can’t really say what the selection was but thought it was worth mentioning since so many people have been asking about what is available Late Night now that the midnight buffets are gone.


Room Service

I used this at least once a day for coffee and for breakfast the morning we were in Costa Rica.

The service was prompt and the staff friendly but I have to mention that with the exception of the first day something was always wrong! It was little stuff that we were able to work around but it was consistent…..things like ordering coffee for 4 and only getting 2 coffee cups or bagels for 3 and 1 small dish of cream cheese and no butter which we asked for, or milk instead of cream. Nothing major and we opted to adjust rather than call them back.

Sun King Supper Club

Amazing!

I booked our reservation online for Tuesday night – which was Rachel’s 19th birthday. I have been to the Supper Club on a ship before but this was my girls first time.

The food was incredible. We all got the filet and loved every bite. The service was superb and our wait staff friendly.

The music was not live but it seemed appropriate. I know there has been much discussion about this on the boards. The music blended into the background and I did not really notice it so therefore I am assuming it was appropriate! Since I was with my DD’s romantic dancing was not in the picture anyway!

None of us could finish our desserts and we were so stuffed when we left!

Tom-n-Cheryl
February 27th, 2009, 03:13 PM
Sun King Supper Club

Amazing!

I booked our reservation online for Tuesday night – which was Rachel’s 19th birthday. I have been to the Supper Club on a ship before but this was my girls first time.

The food was incredible. We all got the filet and loved every bite. The service was superb and our wait staff friendly.

The music was not live but it seemed appropriate. I know there has been much discussion about this on the boards. The music blended into the background and I did not really notice it so therefore I am assuming it was appropriate! Since I was with my DD’s romantic dancing was not in the picture anyway!

None of us could finish our desserts and we were so stuffed when we left!

We enjoyed it as well! The supper club decor is MUCH better than on the Glory. Like night and day. The prerecorded music (as you pointed out) was a better mix than on the Glory TO BE SURE. Though 2 out of 3 nights I did hear some Beatles music care of ZAMFIR, LOL... :rolleyes: Oh well, that is more appropriate than Blind Melon and Pink (on the Glory)!!! :eek:

Tom

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 04:01 PM
We enjoyed it as well! The supper club decor is MUCH better than on the Glory. Like night and day. The prerecorded music (as you pointed out) was a better mix than on the Glory TO BE SURE. Though 2 out of 3 nights I did hear some Beatles music care of ZAMFIR, LOL... :rolleyes: Oh well, that is more appropriate than Blind Melon and Pink (on the Glory)!!! :eek:

Tom

LOL....yes...I thought the decor was better than the Glory as well. Actually, there was one thing that really got to me in the Emerald Room on the Glory and that was the neon green strip lighting that went around the room :eek: I get that it was called the Emerald Room but I could not help but notice (and think it was awfully out of place) those emerald lights!

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 04:19 PM
Cozumel, Mexico

I booked the Royal Swim directly through Dolphin Discoveries prior to our sailing. I was very happy with this. I booked just the girls and I watched from a bench. A new place – Dolphinarius – has opened in Cozumel and Carnival must have switched their excursions over there. It was quite nice at Chankanaab since this meant that the cruise ship excursions were elsewhere – since we were cruising during a popular Winter Break week this was a good thing! Additionally, the only other ship in port was the Liberty.

We walked off the ship and immediately headed to the Taxi Station. A Cab to Chankanaab Park was 10 dollars. Ship Time was 1 hour ahead of Cozumel time for us so we arrived nice and early – It was only about 8:30 at the Park. I think we were the second people to arrive.

I had to pay an entrance fee since I did not book a Dolphin Swim for myself. It was $16 for me.

We checked in with Dolphin Discoveries and they told us where to meet for the 11:00 Royal Swim. We set ourselves up under a palapa on the beach. We decided to swim out to the platform in the water. The entrance to the beach is very rocky…..large rocks which are slimy etc so be prepared. The waves were coming in and it was a little difficult at one point. The depth drops quickly and if you realize this then you can kind of get yourself over the rocks quickly.

The Royal Swim was fantastic! I had asked about being able to go out on the dock area so I could watch. They told me it would be a $5 fee and no cameras but the woman said that I would probably be able to see just fine from the benches which is what I wound up doing.

Rachel and Emma had a blast! I will be booking this same excursion for my younger kids when we sail on the Liberty in April. And a note….I believe they are offering a Special price for Carnival Cruisers who book in Feb for a swim anytime before 4/15….check out the website.

As far as the photos went….they were selling a video for $50 and had some photos of each person printed up that were $14 and $16 depending on the size.

The arm bracelet for the Royal Swim entitled each person to a drink at either Senor Frogs or Carlos and Charlies. We opted to just get a cab back to the pier. We did a little souvenir shopping. We ate at Panchos Backyard – excellent!! Did a little more walking around and then got a margarita at three Amigos before returning to the ship.

rosebud1g
February 27th, 2009, 06:44 PM
Hi Lisa!
Great review so far! Do you know if Carnival still had the chocolate
fondue fountain at the lunch buffet? I had it on my 2 more recent past cruises with Carnival and it was to die for! I was just curious if they were
still doing it. I sure hope so!

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 06:51 PM
Hi Lisa!
Great review so far! Do you know if Carnival still had the chocolate
fondue fountain at the lunch buffet? I had it on my 2 more recent past cruises with Carnival and it was to die for! I was just curious if they were
still doing it. I sure hope so!

The chocolate buffet was on Saturday - the last Sea Day. I never made it so i am not sure what they had but I know that the fountain is usually part of that.

ENJOY!!

LizaMM
February 27th, 2009, 08:09 PM
Limon, Costa Rica

I prebooked the White Water Rafting excursion with Carnival online for this one. I considered booking an independent tour but having been in Costa Rica before and seeing people just barely making it back due to traffic I stuck with the ship!

The cost was $115 per person. There were 2 times available and we went with the earlier one.

This was great fun! I had purchased the excursion for the 3 of us but Emma had gotten a little too much sun the day before and did not feel well. She wound up staying in the cabin and sleeping the day away. Rachel and I went together and it was wonderful! I can’t tell you how many times I thought how lucky I was to have this experience and time with my daughter! She and I laughed so much and had such a joyful time together!!!!

We met at the pier by the buses. A coach bus took us first to the Tour Companies lodge area where we could use the bathrooms etc. We got back on the Coach bus and were taken to a spot on the side of the road where there were trucks waiting for us.

Now this part was the real adventure! We got on the back of the pick up trucks which had wood railings all around and wooden floors. We were divided up into a couple of them. These drove us down the rocky dirt road – well path – to the bottom of the mountain where the boats were waiting at the river. I was fine as long as I did not look over the edge!!!

I had read a review by someone else who took an independent tour a couple of months ago where it was mentioned that the Carnival tour people had to walk down to the river. There was a whole group of people who were walking so I asked them about it. It turns out that this is the Carnival Crew who are offered a much cheaper excursion that does not include the same transportation or the lunch that the passengers get on their tour.

Once we got down to the river we were given lifejackets, helmets and oar. We broke into groups and got into the rafts….groups of 6 and 8. The guide on the bus had gone over all the safety equipment and some basic info on how we would paddle etc. The guide on the raft went over it all again.

Then it was time to begin….we paddled out and went through a little ‘test” area so we could get the feel of it….Then we were off. This was really so much fun! Parts of the river were very calm and gave us the opportunity to really take in the view and other parts were rapids that went up to Class III. Our boat did very well and we had no fall-offs but we watched as one whole raft overturned and dumped all 9 people in it (8 plus the guide) and another that lost half the people. Everyone was quickly rescued and pulled onto other rafts. When we got to a clear area we brought all the rafts on the bank so everyone could get back in their proper place. I should mention that in addition to us having guides on each raft there were a couple of kayakers in the water alongside us to help out and assist with any topplers.

I thought the guides were wonderful and friendly. They really added to the enjoyment and spirit of the excursion.

At the end we got out of our rafts and walked up the bank to the coach bus that had been sent over for us. We were brought back to the tour operator center where we had a very nice buffet lunch. There was juice and such included but we purchased a beer at the bar.

I should also mention a couple of things…..both when you get in the water and when you get out there are very rocky areas that you have to walk over so don’t be surprised by that. AND one of the guys in a kayak is a photographer. He will paddle ahead and then perch in various spots to take photos of you and your adventure. All the photos of all the rafts will be on one CD which you can purchase and he makes an effort to make sure that there are a whole bunch of photos from each raft. The CD can be purchased for $30 and also has a bunch of photos from Costa Rica as well.


I think we had about an hour or so to change and have lunch which was just right. Then it was back on the bus to head to the pier. I took a very nice nap at this point!

When we arrived back at the pier we spent a little time walking around and shopping for souvenirs. I wanted to get some coffee and a coffee mug. I collect coffee mugs from each port of call and ship and I never got one last time I was in Costa Rica.

There seemed to be a good variety of items and even women doing mani/pedis and massages.


COLON, PANAMA

This was actually a do nothing day for us! We did get off the ship at around 10AM and walked around the pier area for a bit. There were just enough shops to keep us busy for souvenirs. I bought some coffee. I went to the grocery store there for that and it was about half the price for the same thing in the gift shops…..so anything that you may want that can be purchased in the grocery store instead I would suggest checking it out! They also had a large selection of wine etc.

We got back on the ship and had lunch and then very much enjoyed the less crowded Lido Deck and no chair hogs to be found! WOO HOO!!! There was a movie on the big screen at 1:00 and I was able to relax between my loungechair and the hot tub watching it.

I just want to mention that we set sail late from Panama. Apparently there was traffic and a couple of tour busses were late coming back. These were Carnival excursions so the ship waited for them.

LizaMM
February 28th, 2009, 11:27 AM
Days At Sea

One of the main reasons I picked this itinerary was for the 4 Fun Days At Sea…..I LOVE them!

There were many activities going on, both out on the Lido Deck and also held in various indoor lounges. All the usuals…..ice sculpture, Hairy Chest, Synchronized Swim, various trivia contests etc.

We spent much of our Sea Days relaxing on deck mixed in with a little walking around the ship.

I had read some posts about the use if the Big Screen interfering with music but I am happy to report that that was NOT the case for us at all. In the early morning there was news on the Big Screen. At 9:30 Todd would have his morning show with the asst. CD showing. After that it would be music. Usually for a little while it was from the speakers with seascape pictures showing on the screen and a couple of times it was a musical concert shown with the accompanying music. At 11:30 ish the band would start to play. The band hours varied depending on the activities but I really found there to be no change due to the Big Screen….except for the Bingo that was played out there one day for a little while.

They even had karaoke out on the Lido Deck one afternoon which led into the first round of auditions for the Legends Show. I thought it was a lot of fun to have this outdoors and people did seem to enjoy it.

Movies were shown on the Big Screen at night….with the exception of Port Days which offered an afternoon movie or concert for those who stayed on the ship.

We really enjoyed the bands. Most days it was Eclipse and they also had Music Connections out there a couple of times who were excellent. Eclipse was very good and played a nice selection. My DD made a few requests which they played for her.

The Chair Hogs were out in FULL FORCE during this cruise. Boy is that annoying! The first day at sea I wound up finding a single lounge chair on the upper deck by the aft pool. I stayed there by myself for about an hour. My girls just stood and sat at the edge of the pool until someone left. They were departing from 3 lounges which was perfect for us! Emma put our stuff down while Rachel came to get me.

We were also able to get chairs on the upper deck near the Main Pool by nice people letting us move over some chairs and squeeze between them one day.

Other days I was up early – on Friday night I never slept at all – so I was out there early and we were able to get chairs near the pool.

I DID NOT see any enforcement of the “No Saving” rule. There is a sign posted on the pool and it was also posted in the Capers every day. As a matter of fact on that first sea day my DD was watching a group of chairs that were only occupied by towels. After an hour she was fully ready to have their stuff moved and another passenger told her off…..he said “how would you like it someone were to do that to you??” She told him that she would not be in the position of hogging a lounge chair and breaking the rules in the first place…..luckily this is when a women told my DD that the 3 of them were leaving in 5 minutes and we could have their chairs so that ended any possible discord!

I did however, see enforcement of no drinks in the hot tubs and there were no children in the aft pool or hot tubs anytime I went back there.

jbroons
March 1st, 2009, 03:40 PM
Lisa -
Hope your kids are feeling better! Did they pick up sickness from the cruise?
I'm sailing on April 5th for 6 days - CANNOT WAIT!!!
I have two daughters 15 & 12. Please tell me everything you can about the ship and camps for the kids. My oldest insists she is NOT doing it. But...from what I've read on these board, I will check it out with her on the first night and hopefully she'll want to participate in something. Any and all info will help.
Can't wait to hear more!

300....I'll be on the 4/5 Freedom cruise as well with my daughters 15 & 17!! We are psyched and also CANNOT WAIT!!!

Check out this link....you will love it!! (Have you posted in our roll call....it's moving slowly thus far but will hopefully pick up soon!!)

https://www.bookccl.com/irman/

jbroons
March 1st, 2009, 03:53 PM
This is a great thread for me. My family is going on this ship April 5th. Much better than reading reviews in the review section. I also like the link to the pictures of the ship.

Lisa, your comments about people getting different parts of the meal at different times, I have read that in other reviews. I hope we won't see that, but I have learned to go with the flow. I am also concerned about seating for dinner as just 3 of us are going. Who knows who we will be stuck with?

Anyway, great review. I saved this thread as a link, so if you have any more info, I am all ears.

Peter - I will also be on the 4/5 Freedom cruise with my daughters 15 & 17....check out our Roll Call if you haven't yet. Check out this link!!

https://www.bookccl.com/irman/

peter78
March 1st, 2009, 03:59 PM
Peter - I will also be on the 4/5 Freedom cruise with my daughters 15 & 17....check out our Roll Call if you haven't yet. Check out this link!!

https://www.bookccl.com/irman/

Thanks, I will go ahead and do that. I must warn you I have a 17 year old son whose birthday is in March. So, he will be 18 on the ship, maybe we should keep your two daughters and my son apart from each other.:p

Eeyore_Lover
March 1st, 2009, 04:26 PM
Thanks so much for your review of this itinerary. I am on the May 9th sailing, and can't wait. The info on the Hyatt Place is helpful, as I will be flying in on Friday, as well, and have yet to book a room. Re: the cruise, did you happen to purchase a Fountain Card for either of your daughters? I was wondering what the cost is now for one. And did you visit the Spa?

LizaMM
March 1st, 2009, 04:36 PM
Thanks so much for your review of this itinerary. I am on the May 9th sailing, and can't wait. The info on the Hyatt Place is helpful, as I will be flying in on Friday, as well, and have yet to book a room. Re: the cruise, did you happen to purchase a Fountain Card for either of your daughters? I was wondering what the cost is now for one. And did you visit the Spa?

I liked the Hyatt Place. I was able to get it for a good price on Priceline ($110). I don't think I would have paid the 240 (aaa rate) they were asking for on the Hyatt website for my dates though!!

This was the first time I did not get a fountain card. My kids don't drink much soda...maybe one at dinner a couple of nights....so I am not sure how much it was.

I had every intention of going to the spa - usually get at least 1 massage per cruise - but I was so relaxed and enjoying the time with my kids and on deck that I never went.

I will be posting my review of the evening entertainment and lounges a little later.

LizaMM
March 1st, 2009, 09:37 PM
Evening Entertainment

Shows – We did not go to any of the Main Production Shows. We did however go to some Comedy Shows. The juggler/Comedian was great! We really enjoyed him and thought he was funny. This was in the Victoriana Lounge before dinner. We also saw his R-Rated show which we also thought was funny. There was one another comedian during the week and we went to both his Main Show and R-Rated as well. I had no problem bringing my DD (16) with me. I did however see them kick out a younger boy who was not with any adult one night.

Promenade Music – I usually enjoy the music outside of the Casino on the Promenade Deck but anytime I stopped by there he was on a break or playing very boring music so I passed.

Habana – I stopped in here every night for a cigarette before and after dinner. This is also where I met up with people who I met that were dining in the Chic Dining Room after dinner. There was a nice variety of music and some nights it was packed. Most nights a Salsa Band was playing and I thought they were very good. A lot of people danced and seemed to enjoy them as well. Some nights there was Piano Music which was also very nice. Once or twice we caught a woman vocalist (Tina??) who we did not like at all! Her voice drove us nuts and we found her to be boring. Her male accompanist would sing a few songs and we thought he was really good!

Club 70 – I did not get into the disco until Friday night. Usually I am a real night person on a cruise and hit the disco after closing down the Piano Bar but I had a bunch of nights that I went to bed early for me. My DD said she tried to go to the disco a couple of times earlier in the cruise but it was dead. That Friday night we went with a few people and we had a blast! I went back there Saturday night as well.


Deck Parties – There were 2 on our sailing. The first one was the night we left Cozumel and the second was after Panama.

I did not make it to either!!!!!

The first, I was exhausted. I went back to the cabin after dinner to change my shoes and just did want to leave! I sat on the balcony and listened to the water and got so relaxed and sleepy…..something that I have not had much in my life lately! I wound up getting into bed and going to sleep. My DD’s went for a while and they had a good time.

The second Deck Party was after Panama. We started to experience rough seas in the early evening. We were at the comedy show before dinner in the Victoriana and let me tell you it was rockin and rollin and you could hear waves crashing against the ship!!

(I did not personally experience any motion sickness nor did Rachel. Emma was feeling a little queasy so I stopped by the Pursers desk and they gave us meds for free. )

We went for dinner and as I said earlier it was not to crowded in the Dining Room. I went back to the cabin to change and had every intention of going to the deck party after a short rest. BUT I sat down on that bed and it was like being a baby in a cradle….the ships rocking just lulled me to sleep…My girls as well…..we all missed that one together!

Scott’s - OK….this is an interesting one for me. The Piano Bar is often one of my favorite evening venues on a Carnival Cruise. You can usually find me in there every night that it is open for awhile and in the past I have often stayed until closing and then gone to the Disco. I have sailed with Damian a couple of times and my very favorite, Barry Miller. My last cruise on the Legend had the worst Piano Man I have ever experienced so I was really hoping for a good time this cruise!

I keep up with the Piano Bar thread on CC and I also inquired over the previous months from people who posted reviews of their experience in the Piano Bar with Peter. I had not heard anything very encouraging to say the least!

And for the most part if I had to say was Peter good or bad I would have to say bad. He was far from the type of entertainer that one usually wants to experience in a Piano Bar! The first couple of times it was a bit painful!

That said…..I DID wind up having some fun in there by the end of the cruise. Peter kind of grew on me! Also, I took some time to talk with him and after that he was more enjoyable. He always made sure to play songs I had mentioned on previous nights without me having to make requests. I generally like the fun sing along type songs so with him playing more of these the atmosphere was better.

The last 2 nights of the cruise I stayed in Scott’s until he closed down and then went to the disco. So I guess you could say all in all I was able to have some good times with Peter. Given the choice I would much rather have a Barry Miller type of Piano Man but from keeping up with the Best Piano Bar singer thread it seems as if there are fewer and fewer of these really great ones and more and more mediocre to downright boring.




All in all a FANTASTIC Cruise!!!!

cruisebie
March 1st, 2009, 11:37 PM
Your review has been great. It's really getting me excited for our trip on the Freedom in June. We are doing the 6 day instead of the 8, though.

I hope the piano bar livens up before we get there. I've been to piano bars on land that were lots of fun. It would be great to have that experience on a ship! I have to agree with you about the Legend. If it was the same guy that was there when I was last year, he seemed to be more interested in his breaks than playing.:rolleyes:

Thanks again, for a great review!:)

LizaMM
March 2nd, 2009, 01:22 AM
Your review has been great. It's really getting me excited for our trip on the Freedom in June. We are doing the 6 day instead of the 8, though.

I hope the piano bar livens up before we get there. I've been to piano bars on land that were lots of fun. It would be great to have that experience on a ship! I have to agree with you about the Legend. If it was the same guy that was there when I was last year, he seemed to be more interested in his breaks than playing.:rolleyes:

Thanks again, for a great review!:)

t looks like Vince is in the Piano Bar on the Freedom until sometime in June - hopefully you will have him since I have read really good things!

Here is a link to the Best Piano Bar Entertainer thread so you can keep track:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=362780&page=151

I was on the Legend for Thanksgiving '06 and then I sent my parents on a cruise on the Imagination in Feb '07 and they had the same Piano Man :mad:

Hopefully you have a wonderful experience this time!

The Freedom is a great ship!

ENJOY!!

travelingran
May 2nd, 2009, 05:08 PM
thanks for the info. hop to hear more soom