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Carnival Freedom 8 Day Western Review with Photos August 27, 2011

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Carnival Freedom 8 Day Western

August 27, 2011 to September 4, 2011

 

 

Pre-cruise:

I booked this cruise at the last minute, one week before sailing. I just wanted a get away to relax at sea for a week. The plus was the extra day. I wasn’t really interested in the itinerary as much as the ship and the days at sea. This cruise had 4 sea days and 3 ports. I didn’t originally plan to get off the ship in port other than to stretch my legs so I didn’t pay much attention to the excursions before leaving.

 

I flew into Fort Lauderdale, home of the Freedom. Side bar, I was looking at the Carnival Freedom and Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas. As I recall, they were 8 day cruises but a significantly different price so Carnival won out again, both sail out of Fort Lauderdale. This was my first time booking a hotel with the bid sights and I could not believe the room I got for under $80.

 

My room was in Fort Lauderdale. Wow, what a room! The pool was nice although I didn’t use it. There was free internet, a rental car company in the building. A restaurant as well (great staff) but $13 for breakfast was a little pricey. The hotel sits on top of a parking garage. One of the features of the hotel that I liked was free airport shuttle. The shuttle service for a price ($8 per person each way) would take you to the port and pick you up after cruise. I was the only person in the van and the driver got me right to the airport after a stop at the Oasis port.

 

 

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Pool on 5th floor of the hotel

 

 

I like to shop before I get on the ship and hate renting a car. I get so turned around in strange cities especially Orlando. The people in the toll booths love it when I come to town. I have to get a GPS to take with on those trips. Anyway, you walk out the front of the Crown, turn right and 2 or 3 blocks down the street was a Walgreens and a couple restaurants. I stopped at one and had Coke and bowl of chili ($6). The chili was good and the Coke refreshing after the walk in the 85 plus degrees, a good walk just the same. Later that day, I noticed that I forget something and was told that leaving the hotel and turning left and a left at the corning, plus ½ mile, get me to a CVS drugs store. In the blocks between were a Coal Fired Pizza restaurant and a popular barbecue restaurant mentioned on the boards. I choose the barbecue restaurant, great staff, nice place, good prices but I wish I had chosen the pizza restaurant. The short of it, the hotel is in walking distance of nice establishments without the hassle of a rental car. You could image my surprise when we turned left out of the hotel, went down a few feet to the light and crossed it to enter the port. I didn’t realize that I was that close to the port. It was too far to walk and suspect that security would not let you walk into the facility anyway. It was just a 7 minute ride.

 

The Port

I was surprised that the port building was Princess. The building was obviously an aged building resembling a warehouse outside. It could use some redecorating but hey, it served its purpose, getting me on the ship. The time from leaving the porters to getting on the ship was about 30 to 45 minutes. I decided to take a very small bottle of wine with me. I had two carry on’s, one with a CPAP and the other with pop and water picked up at the drug store. The person operating the x-ray was more concerned about the gallon of water and the pop than the wine.

 

Boarding the Freedom

The gang way to the Freedom was an experience. It was a very steep plank. This was a good start to a work out for the food that would be consumed over the next 8 days. Seriously, for some individuals who have mobility issues, it could really be a challenge. We entered on the lobby deck (3) and headed straight for the Lido deck. The buffet was crowded as it usually is on embarkation day. I tried some spicy chicken and fish, then roamed the pool deck and above looking for my perch at sea. I was surprised to see that most of the deck chairs were empty. I think that I boarded between 11 and 11:30am.

 

There was some good singing in the Atrium. I headed to the Spa for a tour, nice but as usual, too pricey. I headed to my room which I had seen already on a YouTube video. I learned a couple lessons. One, Carnival single beds are too small on the Freedom. I have to specify the Freedom because my first cruise was on the Paradise and I slept in a single bed. The single bed on the Paradise was just fine. The other lesson which is related to the first, pick your room so that you get what you want. I booked this as a 1A guarantee. Before you start, I have my flame retardant suite on so don’t waste your time, I hoped to be upgraded to a IS and have two beds to put together for a queen. It didn’t happen, no big deal, lesson learned. I got what I paid for. The next time I pay for two beds, I want two beds that are put together for a comfortable rest, LOL.

 

 

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Good performer in the Atrium

 

 

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This was after 1pm on embarkation day

 

 

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Sail away

 

 

 

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After the Spa tour, I headed for my cabin. I was really killing time until Muster. I unpacked and headed on deck for sail away.

 

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Sail away

 

After 5pm, there was a Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. This was my first. GatorTrader set up a great meeting. The first evening I ate in the buffet. I really was not interested in the MDR.

 

The first sea day. I slept in and headed to the buffet for my omelet, my rationing of bacon and chocolate milk. I found a great place outside the Serenity area and planted myself in the shade. A bar service guy came by with a decorative cup with the DOD. It was a blow fish with a straw coming out of its mouth. $13. :eek: It was pretty good but not $13 worth. Ask the price first.

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Anytime Dining

My first experience with anytime dining on Carnival was the first elegant night. I will get back to that. On the Freedom, several floors have self-service launderettes. I learned a big lesson on the first elegant night (or thought I did); iron your clothes before the day of elegant night. I waited in line for 90 minutes to iron a shirt. There was a line, according to other guest, on the floors above as well. After finally getting dressed, I went up the Chic Restaurant only to find a long line. I was given a pager and went into the Atrium and watched people dance to a performer there. It was only about a half hour to 45 minutes before I was paged. The experience was good but in my opinion, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has this down better which they should since they have been doing longer. Carnival still has the advantage of the beautiful MDR and the food selection. I used anytime the entire cruise. Most of the time, I ate at a single table (I was cruising solo) except one night when I was with two couples and a teen, very nice.

 

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Pager for Anytime Dining

 

 

 

One interesting section on the menu was “Didjaever” meaning did you ever dare to eat certain foods and they had a different one each night. The night that I tried it, it was oysters. I have never eaten them before and I have to say they were not bad as prepared. The next night was escargot and the final night was frog’s legs. No way on the last two. The waiter told me that I could have the appetizer that I originally ordered if I could not eat the dare dish. The waiters were fantastic as usual and the food great. I have to tell you what the MDR staff did after the wait on elegant night, they sent a plate of goodies to my room the next day with an apology for making me wait. Class!

 

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Apology Gift

 

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Food Dare

 

The buffet as usual, was as a rule, long lines (mostly because people take so long to make their choice). The food was great. Bacon police there in force. You know, it was to a point that I just avoided the bacon, it’s really very unnecessary to this. I tried the fish and chips and did not care for the fish. The only thing in that area that was great was the location, more on that later.

 

The ice cream and frozen yogurt machines were great but the area around them should have been moped more each day.

 

If you get a chance, Black Forest Cake and frozen yogurt. Oh, Yeah!

 

A great feature in your cabin was the daily menu on your TV. You could plan your meal from your room. How cool is that?

 

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MDR Menu from your cabin

 

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Let’s talk cleanliness. My cabin was cleaned well each day. It looked like they vacuumed the carpet every day which was great since I have allergies to something that causes me to itch.:eek: I contact that substance in the buffet when they don’t mope but never in my room other than tracking it on my shoes from the buffet. When I discovered that I started tooking my shoes off at the door inside my cabin. Problem solved, at least in my cabin.

 

The men’s rooms were disgusting. One problem is that they make the path to the urinals was to narrow and I think many guys just miss the target if you know what I mean and it was a mess. They need to mope in there more often. It was also a problem finding public restrooms, they could use a few more.

 

Moping a little more in the Buffet would help to solve this problem too.

 

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Great review so far. As a fellow solo cruiser its good to see reviews from that perspective. Keep it coming:D

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The Serenity Deck

I went to the Serenity area when I first boarded. I found kids playing in the area but guessed that it was because it was embarkation day so we would see what would happen the next day. It was a nice area but I spent less than 2 hours there. The truth is there are areas with open deck chairs and no one around. You really would find more peace in the other areas.

 

The Serenity area was on two levels. On the second level towards the aft of the Serenity area was a long line of chairs. I sat up there one morning for about two or three hours and only had one or two adults near me, very peaceful and a great view from that high up. It was near the water slide which was not open for some reason.

 

Another great area is on deck 10 outside the fish and chips (on either side). You have rows of deck chairs, in and out of the sun, and when I was there all adults. The chair hogs were there in force although it was not necessary. On all decks, there were open chairs. I was outside the fish and chip, there was at least two rows of twenty or more chairs, about 3 people in my row and a woman comes up and puts towels on the chairs and leaves. She returns after about an hour and maybe 4 more people were in the row. I think some people just have a sickness with that.

 

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I found that there was a lot of free deck chairs throughout the cruise

Edited by C Cruise Dude
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I totally agree with you...NCL is MUCH MUCH better with the anytime dining than Carnival. I think you're right...it just has to do with NCL having more experience with the system. When we did anytime dining on Carnival back in March on the Spirit, the service and the wait was just terrible. The food was great but we were VERY disappointed with the waitstaff service.

 

One night (it may have been elegant night) we waited for over an hour to be seated and we were traveling with a total of 6 kids including one infant. It was pretty terrible. And they also sent us an apology plate of desserts...at 10 at night when we were already in bed, waking up the baby and keeping me up for hours trying to get him back to sleep. It was horrible. I know they were trying to be nice about it but I wish they hadn't brought the plate so late at night.

 

Anyway, great review so far. Thanks for taking the time to post it! :)

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One disappointment

My favorite activity on a cruise other than eating is just relaxing and watching the ship plow through the ocean. I was disappointed that I could not find a forward area inside or out to sit and watch. The most forward area that I found was the Serenity Deck. The problem with this was two hot tubs occupied that space. One thing that I like about NCL is that all of their ships that I have sailed on had an observation lounge, a place where you could sit in the air conditioning, have a drink and watch your voyage. On the Carnival Dream, they had a bench right in the front where you could just relax (as much as you could on the hard wood) and take it all in.

 

Kids

The kids were there in force. It was the last weekend before school started. It didn’t bother me because I had minimal contact. They were mostly in the middle lido pool. On my hallway, there were some kids running up and down the hall for a short time on two nights but it was before midnight. A woman was in the hall and seemed to be warning them. I don’t know if she was their mother or just a passenger. Anyway, I could live with the slight annoyance.

 

Karaoke

Karaoke was interesting this cruise. First of all there were hours of it and at least for me a new tilt to it. They had karaoke with a live band. Passengers would pick their songs and they were backed up by a live band and the host (I think her name was Jenni) would sing back up. It was an interesting change. There were some very talented young people. I mean 12 to 14 years old.

 

Casino

The slot machines were collecting as usual. Nothing new!

 

Next I will talk about the ports. I just want to organize a few photos.

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The Ports

 

Cozumel, Mexico

In Cozumel I took the Swim with the Rays excursion. This was a great experience. Frankly I find rays a little scary looking and after the famous nature guy lost his life to one, there is good reason. I had read that they trim the barbs on the rays so I thought that if I was going to do it that this might be the best place.

 

We started by being fitted with shoes to wear in the ray encounter (you might bring your crocs if you have them) and snorkel equipment for the snorkel after the personal encounter. We formed a line and were given a hand full of fish. We took a fish, put it near the bottom and released them when the ray bumped your hand. It is an odd sensation to feel them rub against your leg to get the fish. We then took turns holding them for photographs that were sold to you at the end. I don't have the photos because they have you put your cameras away.

 

The second part was snorkeling with one of the guides as he put fish in the water to mostly attract fish. The rays stayed on the bottom. There was a giant bouncy inflatable that you could go out and jump on but I passed on that. The kids and kids at heart had a good time.

 

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After the encounter we snorkeled with rays and their friends

 

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The snorkel was guided by the team at the ray beach

 

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One of the kids was really active with the guides

 

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Limon, Costa Rica

 

In Costa Rica, I took the Banana and Pineapple Plantation excursion. It was interesting to leave the port area and see how the people of this country really live. You were not taken to the glitzy areas only for tourist. Clara, our guide, talked about the cultural history of the country. She stopped and she picked a plant that is used to produce color for makeup, dies for clothes and food.

 

Our first plantation was a banana (Delmonte). We took a tour through the growth and were shown how the plants absorb water for the tasty fruit. The bananas are covered in a plastic bag as they grew. We then went to the processing areas and watched workers clean and sort the fruit.

 

We then went to a pineapple plantation and met a new guide, forgive me, I forgot her name. We were given information on the growth period for pineapples. One year per pineapple. We put on hair nets, washed and toured a processing plant. We were given samples to eat. This was an informative excursion.

 

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We met the Bus at the port for long ride to each site.

 

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Clara stopped and picked a plant that is used to add color for make-up and to food.

 

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The bananas are in the blue plastic and grow that way

 

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We continued to the pineapple plantation and a new guide

 

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Processing plant for pineapples - Did you know that they put lower quality bananas and pineapple in baby food?

 

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We sampled the good quality pineapple

 

Interesting info from the tours. Europeans prefer their bananas straight, not curved. It takes each pineapple one year to grow. Good excursions.

 

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Colon, Panama

 

My first thoughts of Colon, Panama based on reading the boards here at CC was mostly of a safety concern. The impression from the postings here was that it was the wild west. I saw nothing like that there. The market place was very populated with tourist shopping.

 

In Panama I took the Portobelo/ Gatun Locks excursion. This was another bus tour like Costa Rica but in a larger vehicle this time. We started with a tour of the country side and a stop at the Gatun locks. We climbed a very high set of stairs and watched two ships pass through the locks, a very interesting process. Anyone taking this excursion should be aware that you have to climbs a lot of stairs. I don’t know if they had another means of getting you to the top (I don’t think so but someone will correct me if I’m wrong).

 

 

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Notice how steep those stairs are

 

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You are climbing all the way to the top

 

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Trains help the ships through the locks. $349,000 for that ship to pass through.

 

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Locks open to take the ship to the next level

 

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We returned to the bus and took a long ride to Portobelo. We were given the history of a church, San Felipe, and Fort San Jeronimo. Francis Drake and Captain Henry Morgan had the claim to fame here for attacking the compound repeatedly.

 

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Members of group viewing a room where slaves were kept after working to protect the fort.

 

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Edited by C Cruise Dude
correction

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Great review so far! We're considering this ship so it's been helpful!

 

What are the chances that we both have the same name and packing style...WOW.:D

 

This is an awesome review...I have been waiting months for one of my exact sailing! A few days ago I posted for anyone that had a review of this sailing and ship..Again thanks!!!

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What are the chances that we both have the same name and packing style...WOW.:D

 

This is an awesome review...I have been waiting months for one of my exact sailing! A few days ago I posted for anyone that had a review of this sailing and ship..Again thanks!!!

 

Thanks, Katie. I have wanted to sail the Freedom for a long time but did not like the idea of a 6 day cruise. 7 days does not seem enough most of the time. The 8th day was great. It was so nice to have that extra day. More to come.

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More, more, more, please:)

 

We're leaving next Saturday and would love to see the rest of your review before we sail.

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The second part of the Portobelo excursion (actually we started there) was the God Church San Juan. Internet references were the Church of the Black Christ. This is because of the statue of the Black Christ within. According to the guide, people have prayed to the shrine and miracles have occurred. Their is a pilgrimage to the shrine every year. The history was very interesting. I will post some to Youtube as soon as I can edit it.

 

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Vestment for the statue - Only worn twice

 

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It rains in Panama every day of the year according to our guide. We got a rain fall while returning to the ship. Traffic there, like Costa Rica, was very bad so think twice about booking tours on your own. The Freedom was about an hour and a half late leaving waiting for two buses to return. I spoke with a passenger who was on one of those buses and she said that heavy traffic was the culprit.

 

Speaking of excursions, I booked mine on the TV in my cabin. The lines at guest services were the worst and I assumed that it would be the same at the excursion desk. It was easy to sort through the excursions, purchase and they sent the tickets to your cabin.

 

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I shared my cabin with Ralph here and a few other friends throughout the week.

 

The design work of the this ship was fantastic! The detail in the Atrium and the MDR was great. Chic had some of the best service that I have received at sea. I was concerned that I would loose that special something that you have with the same waiter each night but the Karina, Dante and Anne were the best.

 

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Look at the beautiful design and how it comes together.

 

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This statue was at the stairs for the Fish & Chips and I didn't notice it there for a couple days.

 

 

The second elegant night, I didn’t learn my lesson and was in line ironing a shirt again. If I had thought about it a day or two earlier I would have sent it to the laundry service. Oh well. Overall it was one of my best cruises. Definitely try the blue margaritas. There is another review of the Freedom on CC that mentions the "Secret Door". I wish that I had read that review. It was the key to my view of the forward area of the ship. I will be on the Valor soon and will look for a secret door there. Take a dare with the menus selection and have a great cruise.

 

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One last shot!

 

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Hi, could you please list the name of your hotel?

 

He mentions that it is the Crowne Plaza. It is available through lastminutetravel on your cruise date. I just did a quick search on the date in your countdown clock and it came up for $75 plus tax. Just put in Ft Lauderdale, then check the box for Ft Lauderdale hollywood Airport, scroll down to 4*, hover your mouse over the "photos" and check the java script at the very bottom of your screen. You should see right after the word popup the numbers 1223544, that is the Crowne. I learned this method of identifying the hotel here on CC. Now back our regular scheduled programming. Loving this review!

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What was the name of the hotel that you stayed at?

 

Thanks

The hotel was Crown Plaza. I booked it through one of the popular sights that give you a price but does not disclose the hotel until you pay.

 

He mentions that it is the Crowne Plaza. It is available through lastminutetravel on your cruise date. I just did a quick search on the date in your countdown clock and it came up for $75 plus tax. Just put in Ft Lauderdale, then check the box for Ft Lauderdale hollywood Airport, scroll down to 4*, hover your mouse over the "photos" and check the java script at the very bottom of your screen. You should see right after the word popup the numbers 1223544, that is the Crowne. I learned this method of identifying the hotel here on CC. Now back our regular scheduled programming. Loving this review!

 

Thanks, cruisejunkie.

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Thanks for your wonderful review. We are sailing b2b on the Freedom next fall and are trying to pick up every tidbit we can. Curious to know what room you stayed in. We have a 1a booked also.

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Thanks for your wonderful review. We are sailing b2b on the Freedom next fall and are trying to pick up every tidbit we can. Curious to know what room you stayed in. We have a 1a booked also.

 

It was 1426 aft. :D

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Thanks we are booked in one of the 1a's that are mid ship by the elevators. Trying to get all the info I can on these.

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Excellent quality shots, I was wondering, what kind of camera did you use ?

 

 

Thank you, Southbayer. I used a Fuji F5000. Actually, I find the camera frustrating because it is difficult to get focus (it has auto focus) in soft light (MDR). I took my old Pentax K1000 with me but the photos didn't come out too well. I think the xray machine got to some of the film and it was not Fuji Film. Some of the pictures, snorkel and some of the locks are stills from a Flip HD Ultra with underwater case.

Edited by C Cruise Dude
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