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Everything posted by natefish95

  1. Who needs the blonde? Invite him over for dessert (not a euphemism) I did Art at Your Table on Freedom and it was good, but I wouldn't do it again personally.
  2. I love this level of petty so much lmao. Amazing review so far
  3. I definitely agree with all the above suggestions regarding the Alchemy Bar. The alchemists really shine with their off-the-menu creations. I never ordered from the menu and instead said "I'm feel like something with rum and pineapple tonight" and they would whip up some special creation. They learned what I liked really quick and would always make great suggestions too. You'll have to ask the alchemists if they can do it, but on Freedom if I bought a double shot of espresso from the coffee shop (included with cheers), they would make me an espresso martini. AMAZING!
  4. That sailing is verrrrrry tempting to me. I want to a transatlantic sailing, but if they doesn't work out, I might do this long repositioning sailing. Deck 7 should be great!
  5. There is a Bonsai Sushi Express that is located in the Buffet area. Not sure what the hours are and didn't know anyone who tried it. Sorry!
  6. Thank you! I don't think I'm a particularly good writer, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! The Freedom is now one of my favorite, so I'm sure you'll have a great time!
  7. I think I covered everything, but feel free to ask any questions! This was one of my favorite cruises and I had an amazing time despite a few minor hiccups. I don't let small things ruin my vacation. Go with the flow and don't be a ****. Most people were in a super good mood and just happy to be back onboard. There were a few sour apples who liked to complain, but they didn't ruin the mood. I am so glad that Carnival is slowly adding more and more ships. I felt safe with the protocols in place and did not find anything to be unreasonable. It's interesting things are self-serve, but just wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating. The crew was constantly cleaning and most people wore masks inside. If you think getting a COVID test, being vaccinated and wearing a mask in certain places is too much to bear, don't cruise. No one wants to hear you whine and complain and be surprised by the protocols put in place. I cannot wait to cruise on the Freedom again!!!
  8. To finally wrap this up, I'll briefly touch on the debarkation experience. We were a bit delayed in getting cleared to disembark, but they began calling for Platinum/Diamond and Suites about 7:30ish? They then started calling for self-debarkation about 8:00ish. Instead of calling self-debarkations by deck, they started calling by muster stations. In the terminal, they used the facial recognition software, so it was super quick and painless. I easily called an uber to the airport ($19) and was at MIA in no time!
  9. Casino I'm not a big gambler, but I had a lot of onboard credit which you are able to use in the casino. To do this, insert your S&S card into a slot machine. If it's your first time, you'll have to create a PIN. You can then charge directly to your S&S card, which will show up on your account statement. You can then cash out to your player's account. You present your S&S at the cashier and they'll give you everything cashed out into your account. I racked up some points and won $150, so I'll call it a success! Hopefully I'll get some casino offers now, but I doubt it haha. It was good entertainment though.
  10. Okay, I'm actually going to finish this review tonight, promise. Food Believe it or not, I never ate a single meal in the Lido. I don't eat breakfast and did lunch at either Guy's or Blue Iguana or drank my lunch (judge me). Guy's Burger Prior to this sailing, I thought Guy's was good, but overrated. I take that back now. Guy's on Freedom was the best burgers I've ever had on a ship. Perfectly delicious and juicy. The toppings bar was self-serve, which I didn't mind (wash yo' hands). Blue Iguana Cannot say enough good things about Blue Iguana. The breakfast burritos were delicious as were the lunch burritos. The salsa bar was also self-serve (wash yo' hands). Seafood Shack Y'all it was bad, real bad. On the last day, I decided to finally get a lobster roll. It was $12 which is pretty good for a lobster roll and fries (they're usually much more in DC at least). I ordered and was given a buzzer and told it would be about 10 minutes. I got a drink from the bar and went to get a table and play on my phone. I lost track of time but realized it had been awhile. I figured I'd wait 10 minutes from that point and then go check. After 15 minutes, I walked up and there were two other guests who were super annoyed their food was taking a long time. The crew member told me it would be 2 more minutes, but it was close to 10. (I looked at my receipt and I ended up waiting 40 minutes for it to be ready). When I got the lobster roll, it was about 3 tiny pieces of lobster and a whole lot of bread. The lobster didn't even taste good! It was really watery and bland. Maybe the other choices are better, but I'd avoid the lobster roll. MDR As I said in the first post, I didn't take pictures of the menus. Overall, I thought the food was very good with a few misses here and there (get two ice creams with the melting cake). The early seating was at 6:00pm and the late seating was at 8:00pm. On the first day, I went to the dining room where they were handling dining inquiries. I explained to the ladies working the desk that I'm traveling solo and was curious about who I'm sitting with. the Woman behind the computer (Larissa maybe?) frowned and said I'm sitting with couples. I said I didn't mind, but she insisted she would find me something better. A few minutes later she was like "Ah, I found the perfect table! All solos!" She moved me to table 506 in the upper level of Posh dining room. We were a table of 6 solos and had the best time! Seriously, the best dinner group I've ever been sat with. We clicked immediately and had so much fun every night, always laughing. A few people even did excursions together. Our waitstaff was Chen, Ralph, and Mirza with Chen being the head waiter. The whole team was outstanding, but Chen was super engaging and played off our group's high energy and had a lot of fun with us. Truly an amazing person. If you're going on the Freedom, please seek out Chen and her team! Sun King Steakhouse For $38 per person, you can dine in the specialty steakhouse. Me and two of the others from my dinner table, decided to go one night when the MDR menu didn't appeal to us. The appetizers were delicious, but the real star was the filet mignon. Cooked and seasoned to perfection! For dessert we did "Art at your table" which is where they lay a board down and then spread out some candies, sauces, and a white chocolate sphere filled with ice cream and a brownie maybe? I've never seen anything like it. It was fun to watch, but also tasted very great!
  11. I'll be following along! I forgot my own plastic straws, so pack your own if you like straws but hate the sugar straws Carnival uses. They didn't have any paper straws on Freedom.
  12. Ports: St. Maarten: I've only been to St. Maarten once prior to this trip, but it is one of my favorite ports (and I am generally not a port guy and would take sea days any day). Last time I went to Maho Beach and plane watched all afternoon. This time I decided to try something different and I went to Orient Beach...the nude beach section to be exact. It was pouring when I got off the ship, but after a $25 taxi to Orient Beach it had thankfully stopped raining. I turned right and walked all the way south until I found the named people with yellow umbrellas and orange chairs. I had heard you can rent chairs from a guy named Cedric. I walked up to a guy with clothes on asking about a chair and umbrella. Not sure if he was Cedric, but he was super nice and gave me the lay of the land and said it was $13 for a chair and umbrella. I was out of my comfort zone, but I had an amazing time and met some super nice people. The bar had $3 beers and a happy hour from 1:30-2:30. I shared a cab back to the ship with a couple that was only $10 per person. I will definitely be back. St. Thomas I've been here before and didn't feel like doing anything. I walked around the port area and bought some water shoes (pieces of crap and left threw them away after my excursion in Amber Cove). If you're a Diet Coke addict like me, there is a small supermarket in the port area that sells Coke products. San Juan We had to be back onboard by 3:30, so I got off around 11:00am and went looking for food. I wanted some mofongo, so I pulled up Yelp and found a place called Los Yeyos. I had THE BEST mofongo I've ever had and highly, highly recommend this place. I got the garlic chicken mofongo and am still thinking about it a week later. They also had a homemade hot sauce that was very flavorful. The mofongo and a diet coke was about $21 including tax and tip. After eating, I walked to the CVS by the port and picked up a few things for some crew members who said they needed something. I picked up a bunch of travel sized toiletries as well and they were extremely appreciative. Instead of bringing things onboard, I would wait until you get onboard and see what the crew members actually need and go from there. The San Juan CVS was really well-stocked. Amber Cover I don't often do excursions, but for Amber Cove, I booked the Zip and Dip Damajagua Adventure. It was about $109 a person I think? We were a bit delayed in disembarking, but post people made it to the meeting point by 9:45. We filled out some consent forms and were given wristbands (red for Zip and Dip, pink for "waterfalls and monkeyland"). They combined two excursion into one bus since we were both going to the Damajagua waterfalls. Zip and Dip does not include a trip to Monkeyland though. The bus ride to the waterfalls was only about 25 minutes. Once we got there, we had to purchase a locker for $8 (charged directly to your Sail and Sign which was unexpected but convenient) and given a water bottle. Unless you have a waterproof camera or go pro, put everything in the locker. We were then given a lifejacket and a helmet. My group of 9 then set off on the hike up the mountain. We were all wearing watershoes, but the hike was not really meant for watershoes because it was very rocky. The hike was not too difficult, but it was very hot and we were sweating so much. If you're in moderate shape, you'll be fine. If you have bad knees/back or are overweight, you might struggle. There were thankfully not many bugs buzzing around. I always attract mosquitoes, but did not get bitten by anything. This may change depending on the time of year though. At the top, we got a quick safety briefing about the zip lines and were given a second helmet. Why we couldn't wear the helmet we already had and hiked up with is beyond me. We did about 6 or 7 zip lines. Honestly, I've done much better zip lining that was faster and longer in Mexico and Costa Rica, but this was still fun. After the zip lines, we took off the zip lining helmet and then put on the helmet we hiked up with... To enter the water, you could go in via ladder or jump off a 20 foot ledge. The jump didn't look that scary from afar, but once you got up to it, it felt much higher. I still jumped though and got half the river up my nose. For the next hour or so we swam down the river, did another 20 foot high jump, and did about 3 or 4 natural rock slides. After that, we got out and had another 20 minute hike back to the basecamp. It was a really fun time and I would definitely do a similar excursion in the future. However, once my group of 9 got back to the basecamp, we were rushed onto the bus where most of the other tour was waiting for us. No time to buy pictures, a drink, or food. The other tour had plenty of time to do all that, but we were rushed. Whatever, fine. Once on the bus, we drove 5 minutes down the road to Monkeyland where everyone but the 9 of us got off. We were left alone on the bus for like 10 minutes unsure if we had to wait for them or what. Our guide finally got on the bus and said we were heading to the port. We were glad we didn't have to wait for the other tour, but frustrated because we had been rushed earlier and the tour only last four hours when it was advertised as being 5.5 hours. Poor execution on behalf of the tour company, but the Damajagua waterfalls was a great experience.
  13. Gym/Spa I've lost about 20 pounds the past year thanks to becoming a cult member, I mean, Peloton addict. Pre-pandemic, I would have never gone to the gym, but now I go to the gym at home often and went several times during the cruise. In the gym area (deck 11 forward) the spa lady giving me the tour gave conflicting guidance about mask wearing...so I didn't wear it while working out. At first she said you need it while doing weights, but then could take it off on the treadmill, but five minutes later she said you need to wear it while breathing heavily doing cardio...such as on a treadmill. Ok.... Mask wearing in the gym was about 50%, but there was no enforcement to be seen. No machines were blocked off and you did not need to make reservations. There were plenty of wipes around to wipe off machines before and after. Now the spa...I'm a big spa goer. Love massages. Love relaxation. Self-care. Treat yo'self. I had $500 OBC, so I figured I'd try something new and did the 45 minute teeth whitening treatment. Including gratuity it ended up being $170ish and I don't think I'll do it again. The guy doing it was very nice and my teeth got slightly whiter, but I still think it was way overpriced. He also tried to upsell me at the end to get some kit I don't need. No thanks... I looked at getting a massage and they were just way overpriced for what you get. I can get a better massage that is far less expensive, even in notoriously overpriced Washington DC. In case you were not aware, there is a free sauna and steam room located in the men's locker room. After I workout, I love to relax in there and also like to sweat out the alcohol and sins from the day before haha. Y'all, they spent all week working on them and never got it right. The steam room was either way too hot (like dangerously hot) or it would not be steamy at all. The sauna never really got hot except for the last two days. In the beginning, it was actually nice to cool off in there after being assaulted by the heat in the steam room. First world problems, I know! This seems like something they could have tested in the weeks leading up to restart, but oh well. Now the biggest issue I had all week that actually made me annoyed... For anyone who has been in a locker room, there are naked people. There are showers. There are people changing. There are people wearing nothing more than towels most of the time. The female spa attendants and housekeeping were constantly in the men's locker room and gave no notice they were entering. I counted more than 10 times of female crew members walking through with no notice, even while guys were buck naked changing at the lockers or walking from the showers. I was personally walked in on twice while changing and the female crew member just went "hehe sorry sir". Uhm, no. Please GTFO. I raised the issue to guest services and she said that crew members had to clean every 30 minutes due to COVID. There was a male crew member who was often there cleaning and restocking towels, so why do other female crew members need to come in so often? Most of the time they were just cutting through and had no need to even be there. I know this is a minor issue, but it placed me and others in uncomfortable positions by unintentionally flashing crew members. If a male walked through the female locker rooms, it would be a much bigger issue and taken way more seriously in my opinion. Okay, rant over. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
  14. Okay we're back party people! Comedy Shows Comedy is one of my favorite parts of any Carnival ship because they usually have many shows and the comedians are actually funny, plus Carnival isn't afraid to do raunchy adults only shows haha. The comedians for this sailing were Just June, Bob Biggerstaff, Al Romero, and Ashley Gavin. Just June is one of the FUNNIEST comedians I've ever seen. Holy crap, she had me rolling. PG shows can be a bit tame, but even her PG show was hilarious. Cannot say enough good things about her. Bob Biggerstaff was not my cup of tea. Moving on. I actually never saw any of Ashley's shows for various reasons, but heard she was good. Al Romero was also very good! His PG shows were okay, but his adults only shows were really funny. He also has a book about the Cuban Revolution and his family's involvement, that I will probably start reading soon. In the comedy club, masks were required, but most people removed them after the show started. Mask wearing in the comedy club was not enforced at all from what I saw, but most people also had drinks in front of them.
  15. I love that you start these early, but I also hate because I can't wait for you to actually get onboard!! I could never do a review as good as yours, so I will just bask in your glory!
  16. In the next posts, I'm going to touch on Comedy shows, the gym/spa, MDR, other food around the ship, the casino, ports, and debarkation. Anything I'm missing? Have to take a break real quick, but will finish up later tonight.
  17. Shows: OMG if I hear Uptown Funk one more time I am going to scream. I heard it in the car today and was very triggered. Seriously, give it a rest Carnival. Kidding aside, the playlist performers were very talented! I saw the welcome aboard show, which was just some singing and dancing as well as some opening remarks from Cruise Director TJ. On our 8 night cruise, in the main theater they had the welcome aboard show, an 80's show, a rock show, a variety act, the love and marriage show, and a show with an actual plot called Getaway Island. There is at least one other, but I'm forgetting what it's called. Getaway Island was so cheesy with a basic plot, but it was really entertaining and I enjoyed it. Show times were generally at 7:30 and 9:30. Live Music The Red Frog Pub had a guitarist almost every night named Matthew Jourdain I think? He was really entertaining and I enjoyed listening to him. The main pool DJ was DJ CUE and he was also really good from what I heard. Everyone raved about the piano bar guy and the violinists, but I didn't hear them.
  18. Cabin I stayed in an interior cabin on Deck 6 (6246 to be precise) and I loved the location being so close to the elevators. You are right above the main theater and you will absolutely get noise from below. It was never bothersome though because nothing was early enough to wake me up and nothing lasted late enough to keep me up. The performers practiced in the afternoons and it was actually nice because I could hear most of the set list and decide if I wanted to actually see the show or not. (I am a very go with the flow person and don't get bent out of shape if something isn't perfect). On the first day, my keycard wouldn't work and I kept getting a red light. After two trips to guest services, they decided it was the door battery and not my card. They changed it and I had no issues the rest of the week. I also had a sink faucet that leaked onto the counter when turned on, but this was fixed on Day 2 without me even having to mention it to my room steward. There was a TON of storage in this cabin. I only used a fraction of it, so two people could easily fit their stuff no problem, even if you're a chronic overpacker and pack all the crap you don't need. One outlet on the desk (sad), but there is another outlet behind the tv you can you use if needed plus the shaver outlet in the bathroom. There was a mini fridge in the room, it didn't get super cold but it was enough for my water and aloe vera. Bed was super comfortable (firm, but very soft which is how I like it). Pillows were also very good and not pancake-y at all and provided good support for my giant noggin. Summary: great cabin and despite the noise, I would not mind this location in the future, but I will most likely do Deck 7 or 8 in the future. Next up: shows?
  19. Embarkation: Like a reasonable person, I always fly in the day before a cruise. I had a nonstop flight booked on American from DCA to MIA scheduled to depart at 5:20pm. Due to ATC delays and weather in Miami, we didn't take off until 9:45 and I didn't make it to my hotel until 1am. I did get Gold status with this trip, I'm kind of a big deal. I stayed (briefly) at the Miami Airport Marriott and would not hesitate to stay here again. It seemed to have good food options (including a Starbucks I think) and a convenient (and free) hotel shuttle that runs every 15 minutes. If you have the Marriott app, you can even track its location on there, which was a great feature I don't see very often. The last pickup from the airport is at 1am, so I just barely made it. It was storming heavily with tons of lightning, so I could see why the flight was delayed. Getting an Uber was super easy from the hotel. (Why does everyone want a hotel with a free shuttle to the port? Getting an uber or lyft is not expensive and I like traveling on my schedule rather than a hotel shuttle schedule. Oh well... Okay, now we've made it to the actual embarkation! My scheduled time to arrive was 11:30-12:00. I arrived about 11:20 and was directed to a short line outside where they checked my boarding docs, passport, COVID test, and vaccination card. I was then let inside where I waited about five minutes in a line. Someone did a more thorough check of my boarding docs, passport, COVID test, and vaccination card. All my crap was in order, so she gave me a little confirmed stamp stamp on my boarding doc and let me through. PRO TIP: on your COVID test, highlight your DOB, test date, and the negative result. The woman checking my documents was so glad I highlighted that info making it easy to find. After that was the security check and metal detectors where the family in front of me acted like they had never been through a metal detector before and didn't know cell phones and keys were metal. Since I'm familiar with the concept of a metal detector, I emptied my pockets into my backpack and just slid that through the scanner and walked through. PRO TIP: brush up on what a metal detector is before you cruise. Once upstairs at the main check-in desks, they really only checked my passport and let me know I was cleared to board. Before actually boarding the ship, they had facial recognition stands where they scanned your ugly mug into the system they use to track you for the rest of your life (I kid, I kid). You enter the ship via the atrium and it was a huge celebration with all the crew cheering and clapping. I wish I had recorded it because it was a really special moment to be on the first cruise of this ship. The crew was so excited and there was such a fun energy in the air. (This was also a bigger celebration than what I got 2 months prior on Adventure of the Seas in Nassau). Next up: Cabin?
  20. Hello everyone! I am back home and (mostly) settled after having just gotten off the very first cruise of the Carnival Freedom since it stopped sailing in March 2020. I was on the Carnival Paradise in March 2020 and I hated that my most recent Carnival memories were fuzzy and from a 4 day booze cruise to Cozumel (I still had a great time though). I was supposed to be on the Carnival Miracle to Alaska in September, but work stuff popped up. That cruise was fully paid off, but I was able to transfer everything I paid to the Freedom, received a $600 refund due to the price difference, and also received $500 OBC. About Me: I'm Nate from Northern Virginia and I always travel solo. I'm also absolutely terrible at writing Cruise Critic reviews, so I'll break this up into buckets of information and go from there rather than chronologically. Please feel free to ask any questions and I'll try to answer. I did not take pictures of the daily activities, hours of operation, or the menus, If you want the TL;DR version...it was one of the best cruises I've ever taken due in part to amazing crew, ports, and newfound friends. I will start with embarkation in the next post.
  21. Wow, sounds like she fed you a bunch of BS and exactly what you wanted to hear to keep your money. I'm so frustrated by all this. I have $500 in next cruise certificates expiring soon and NCL has made no indication they'll extend them. My Gem cruise from the DR was cancelled. My Jewel cruise from San Diego in January 2022 was cancelled. Now my Jewel cruise in February 2022 is cancelled. My 10% cruise discount is getting returned that I used to book this will get returned, but I won't be getting a second one. I get it, plans change and you need to cancel some cruises, but NCL has handled this whole situation terribly and I feel no incentive to book another cruise with them.
  22. Was the sauna empty all week? That's too bad. I'm far from the target demographic of Holland America but a sauna with a view sounds amazing! That's my favorite part about the sauna on NCL's Jewel class of ships. I was Adventure a few months ago and was so disappointed it was closed. I'm going on Carnival next week and I'm fairly certain everything is open. I'm probably doing Jewel OTS in December, so hope you have a great cruise! Can't wait for you to report back. In the normal times, how are the facilities on that class of ships?
  23. Love your detailed reviews! Can't wait to be on the Carnival Freedom next month!
  24. I flew out of DCA. American does a seasonal nonstop from DCA to Nassau. Since Nassau is a preclearance airport and DCA doesn't have US Customs, it works.
  25. Hotel: I won't say much about the British Colonial Hilton because that has been talked about at length. Overall, I thought it was overpriced for the quality. Very dated, low water pressure, and my room smelled like mildew. My room was ready about 1:30pm, which I was extremely grateful for because I needed a nap badly! For dinner that night, I walked over to the Fish Fry area. The taxi driver recommended a place called Fish Central, but it was closed. Instead I went to a place called Frankie Gone Bananas, which was just average. I got the blackened grouper, which was good, but the sides and the drink were average at best. Walked back to hotel, showered, and met someone from the [redacted social media site] group at the bar in the Hilton.
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