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Carnival Freedom Review w/ Pictures (January 2014)

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Good evening! We recently returned from our cruise on the Carnival Freedom, so I thought I would get a review started. This will be a very long and detailed review with tons of pictures. For those that enjoy it, I have a lot of food porn to share. The majority of the shots on this cruise were taken with my Canon T3. Some shots were taken with my husband’s Sony Powershot and our Kodak Playsport underwater camera/camcorder. A few of the pre-cruise pictures were also taken with my iPhone.

 

Please be patient with me as these reviews can take a while to finish. I will try not to take too long though. Feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will answer them to the best of my ability. I hope you enjoy my review!

Edited by navybaby1113

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A little background information:

 

This is mine and DH’s 6th cruise. We’re both in our late 20s/early 30s and we’re from Tallahassee, FL (go Noles!). This is the second cruise we have taken on the Carnival Freedom. We have also previously sailed on the Celebration, Dream, Inspiration, and Liberty.

 

We booked military rate on this cruise because we were in the middle of purchasing a house and were worried we might have to cancel and didn’t want to be locked in to early saver. The price of our cruise dropped once before final payment and our PVP changed our reservation so that we could get the lower rate.

 

As soon as I booked the cruise, I purchased FTTF. We had it on our Liberty cruise and loved it!

 

The ports visited on this cruise were:

Grand Turk -- Ultimate Snorkeling Adventure booked through Carnival

San Juan -- Visited San Cristobal fort

St. Maarten -- Bernard’s Tours

St. Thomas -- Just walked around Havensight and then stayed on the ship the rest of the day

 

We also visited the Steakhouse one night, so I’ll share my experience there as well!

 

 

I know some people don’t enjoy long reviews, so before I start, I’ll post my general thoughts and cliff notes.

 

Overall Cruise: It was great! This cruise, we did encounter a lot more rude people than we have on previous cruises, but we did not let that keep us from having a good time.

 

Overall Thoughts on the Ship: Love the Freedom! The layout of the ship is so easy to learn and you can easily find what you're looking for. Can't wait until she receives the 2.0 upgrades and gets even better.

 

Overall Thoughts on Food & Dining: Steakhouse was well worth the money. The service and food were fabulous. Had a few problems in the dining room the first couple of nights, but after to some complaints to guest services, it was fixed and great the rest of the cruise. Lido food was so, so, but was always able to find something to eat. The Freedom will be fabulous with the addition of Guy's Burgers and the Burrito Bar.

 

Overall Thoughts on Entertainment: Shows on this cruise are great! Brad mentioned they will be switching over during the dry dock, but I'm sure the new ones will be great as well. Entertainment staff did a great job. First set of comedians were good. Second set weren't really funny at all.

 

Overall Thoughts on FTTF: Great use of our money! Got on the ship very quickly, debarkation was a cinch, loved being in our room early, and used it at guest services a couple times.

 

Grand Turk: Loved the excursion in Grand Turk and it was well worth the money. The water was kind of choppy and there was a strong undercurrent, so I didn't snorkel as much as I would have liked, but we saw a ton of cool things. The crew of the boat were very professional and made sure everyone was comfortable.

 

San Juan: Really enjoy this city. Took the trolley to the fort and just walked around for a little bit. Great way to see some history for a small price.

 

St. Thomas: Didn't have anything planned, so just walked around Havensight and the port area. Such a gorgeous island.

 

St. Maarten: Bernard's Tours was fabulous. Great tour and a good price. Highly recommend the company.

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I've been awaiting your return, so that I can read your review. Thank you!

 

I have a little over two weeks to go!

 

Aww...that made me smile. :-)

 

I will try my best to get it finished before you leave. I have a full-time job, plus own my own business on the side, so I'm pretty busy. I will try to at least get something done every night.

Edited by navybaby1113

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Good evening! We recently returned from our cruise on the Carnival Freedom, so I thought I would get a review started. This will be a very long and detailed review with tons of pictures. For those that enjoy it, I have a lot of food porn to share. The majority of the shots on this cruise were taken with my Canon T3. Some shots were taken with my husband’s Sony Powershot and our Kodak Playsport underwater camera/camcorder. A few of the pre-cruise pictures were also taken with my iPhone.

 

Please be patient with me as these reviews can take a while to finish. I will try not to take too long though. Feel free to ask any questions you may have and I will answer them to the best of my ability. I hope you enjoy my review!

Looking forward to it. Did you hear anything on the ship about exactly which 2.0 or other upgrades are planned for Freedom's upcoming drydock?

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Looking forward to it. Did you hear anything on the ship about exactly which 2.0 or other upgrades are planned for Freedom's upcoming drydock?

 

I did! Brad said they're adding 4 new shows, Guy's Burgers, Burrito Bar, both of the lido bars, and upgrading some other bits and bobs around the ship. He did not mention the Alchemy Bar or EA Sports Bar, so not sure if those are coming or not.

Edited by navybaby1113

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Sounds exciting and I'm anxiously looking forward to your photo review...especially since you plan on having a lot of food porn. :):):):)

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Aww...that made me smile. :-)

 

I will try my best to get it finished before you leave. I have a full-time job, plus own my own business on the side, so I'm pretty busy. I will try to at least get something done every night.

 

Thank you! Knew I could count on you, Navybaby! ;):D

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How ironic that you started this tonight!!! I just read your Liberty review this morning, as we had a mini blizzard here in CT, and needed cruise reviews to get through the day.:D:D

Looking forward to another great review!!!

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Friday, January 24th (Pre-Cruise)

 

DH and I both had to work today, so we didn’t get on the road until about 5pm. I had already gotten a mani and pedi the night before and packed up the car, so we were all ready to go.

 

Instead of driving all the way to Ft. Lauderdale after a long day at work, we reserved a hotel in Stuart, FL. Stuart is about a 6 hour drive from Tallahassee. Plus, the hotels are drastically cheaper. Only $100 a night with our military discount.

 

We arrived in Stuart around 11pm. We were booked at the Courtyard Marriot, which is right off exit 101 on I-95. There is also a Holiday Inn Express at this exit, which is where we stayed last time we cruise. The Courtyard Marriot is way nicer than the Holiday Inn Express. As long as the price is about the same, we'll stay at that one from now on. If you’re driving to port and don’t want to stay in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, Stuart is a convenient and inexpensive place to stop.

 

All of the rooms at the Courtyard Marriot are inside. There is a nice lobby with seating, a gaming area, and a cafe that serves Starbucks coffee and breakfast. There is also a McDonalds and Cracker Barrel within walking distance.

 

Because of our late check-in, the only available room was a handicapped suite. We still got it at the same price as a standard room though.

 

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Saturday, January 25th (Embarkation Day)

 

The Courtyard Marriot does not provide a complimentary breakfast, so we headed over to McDonalds to grab a quick breakfast before we hit the road. It was about a 5 minute walk from the hotel.

 

We still had about an hour drive ahead of us, so we hit the road with plenty of time to spare. Since we had FTTF, I wanted to make sure we were there early to take advantage of our priority embarkation. We finished breakfast around 9am and got on the road to Ft. Lauderdale.

 

The drive to Ft. Lauderdale was pretty uneventful. We followed Google Maps directions and found the port easily. You drive right past the airport to get to the cruise port. This road is under construction, so make sure to pay attention to the signs.

 

When we arrived at the gates of the cruise port, we presented our passports and the agent gave us directions to our ship. Well, those directions ended up being wrong. Finally, we asked a police officer and he sent us in the correct direction.

 

There was a parking garage located right in front of the Carnival Freedom, so we pulled in there and found a spot on the 4th floor. If you have a lot of luggage and are parking in the garage, I would recommend dropping it off with the porters are the terminal before finding a parking spot. The walk from the garage can be a bit cumbersome with a ton of luggage.

 

We walked over to the terminal and was greeted by a porter. Gave him our checked baggage, let him know we had FTTF, tipped him, and we were on our way.

 

FTTF had their own dedicated scanner in the terminal. After we went through the scanner, they directed us over to the naughty table because we had soda and water in one of our bags. We waited there for about 5 minutes before our bags were checked by an angry port worker. After she was done, she sent us on our way.

 

FTTF had its own dedicated line to check-in as well, so we were greeted right away. My DH handed her our passports and I asked him to hold something so that I could get in my bag to get my credit card to attach to our sail and sign account. The check-in agent said a credit card was not necessary. I was a little confused, but figured they changed the policy. We later found out that this was not the case.

 

They were still boarding platinum and diamond cruisers after we were done checking in, so we had to wait for about 5 minutes. They then called FTTF and we were on board by 11:20am. Took about 20 minutes to get from the garage to the ship.

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One of the perks of FTTF is that your room is supposed to be ready as soon as you board the ship. This is one of the major reasons we book FTTF is because we hate waiting around the ship with our bags until our room opens up.

 

After boarding, we headed straight down to our room to drop off our bags. Since only FTTF, Platinum, and Diamond had boarded the ship so far, all of the doors to the cabin hallways were still open so that we could easily get in.

 

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Our usual room that we book on Conquest class ships was not available, so this time we booked an oceanview room, midship on the Riviera deck.

 

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Great start and look forward to more. Curious to the cabin # you usually book. Also, was it quiet surrounding this cabin and the one you booked on past cruise?

Thank you!

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Great start and look forward to more. Curious to the cabin # you usually book. Also, was it quiet surrounding this cabin and the one you booked on past cruise?

Thank you!

 

We usually book 2470. It's in the aft of the ship, so it's far from quiet. You hear a lot of engine noise and bumping around. There's also a lot more movement in that room.

 

The room we booked on this cruise was very quiet and peaceful for the first half of the cruise. The second half, there started being some weird noises that sounded like the ship was settling. I have no clue what they were or where they were coming from. We barely felt any movement in this room at all.

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I did! Brad said they're adding 4 new shows, Guy's Burgers, Burrito Bar, both of the lido bars, and upgrading some other bits and bobs around the ship. He did not mention the Alchemy Bar or EA Sports Bar, so not sure if those are coming or not.

Thank you, navybaby! I've booked Freedom for September. I wish Carnival would hurry up and make an announcement about what upgrades it will include. JH keeps saying that it will be announced soon, but soon never seems to come.

 

Some friends will be cruising with me and they are cruise newbies. It's kind of frustrating trying to answer their questions without solid information. I appreciate your info.

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navybaby1113, we booked the Freedom a few weeks back and I have been waiting for a review. We have never been on her. Thank you for doing this!

 

yeah NOLES:D!

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We leave on the Freedom Saturday. I hope to be able to read a couple more days of your review before we leave. Love it so far.

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

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We leave on the Freedom Saturday. I hope to be able to read a couple more days of your review before we leave. Love it so far.

 

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337 using Tapatalk

 

I'll try to finish at least the first day and possibly the second day before you leave. I'm sure most of my writing is actually going to be on the weekends.

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Could you post the fun times (capers) for the cruise. We are leaving in 30 days and would like to see what they have planned for us ahead of time.

Thanks,

DC

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Hey, OP!

 

I like your signature!!! :D

 

While you are at it, I see you are a FL Res (so jealous! this year is HORRIBLE) anyway I didn't see any DCLs on your history, but I think there are FLR specials (and short notice Guarantee sales anyway) for DCL going on about the time you are going to be in Disney. You might think about adding a 3/4 day. Wow, they are WONDERFUL! We are sandwiching 2 parks days on both weekends of our 4 day Magic in May. Its a WONDERFUL way to get that Disney feeling with nice dining, incredible shows, and the best staterooms, oh and Castaway Cay! Woohoo! That's the only way to get there, on DCL. Oh, if I were a FLR!!!! Its my dream.

Edited by TwinPrincessMermaids

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Could you post the fun times (capers) for the cruise. We are leaving in 30 days and would like to see what they have planned for us ahead of time.

Thanks,

DC

 

Our Fun Times probably won't be very helpful to you because our itinerary was an unusual one. They only sail it like once a year. I do have them though if you have any specific questions.

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Hey, OP!

 

I like your signature!!! :D

 

While you are at it, I see you are a FL Res (so jealous! this year is HORRIBLE) anyway I didn't see any DCLs on your history, but I think there are FLR specials (and short notice Guarantee sales anyway) for DCL going on about the time you are going to be in Disney. You might think about adding a 3/4 day. Wow, they are WONDERFUL! We are sandwiching 2 parks days on both weekends of our 4 day Magic in May. Its a WONDERFUL way to get that Disney feeling with nice dining, incredible shows, and the best staterooms, oh and Castaway Cay! Woohoo! That's the only way to get there, on DCL. Oh, if I were a FLR!!!! Its my dream.

 

I would love to take a Disney cruise, but they're so much more expensive than a Carnival cruise! Sadly we wouldn't be able to fit in one when we go down to DW because my husband is a teacher and it's during his spring break. I will get to take one eventually though!

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Okay, let's get some more of this review going! I'm hoping to get through day 1 today. Might not happen though.

 

Our room steward had left our copies of our Fun Times in our room, along with our free past guest drink coupons. We glanced over the Fun Times real quick before heading to lunch.

 

We went up to the Lido deck for lunch. DH had to go straight for the Mongolian (he loves that stuff!) and I just grabbed some food off of the buffet. The theme for the buffet today was Italian. I also got some beef from the carving station.

 

After we finished lunch, we decided to try out some of the desserts. I was very pleased to see they actually had real cheesecake! This was a nice change to the normal Jello crap they have at the lido buffet. They actually had real cheesecake at the buffet every single day of our cruise. I hope this change stays because I was very happy with it!

 

After lunch, we decided to head down to the room to take a nap. FTTF was highly worth it because were napping before anyone else could even get to their rooms!

 

We were woken up around 2-ish by our bags being delivered. We went ahead and unpacked before muster. There was tons of space in the room for all our stuff and we were able to fit all our empty suitcases under the bed.

 

While we were unpacking, the Steakhouse slipped a card under our door notifying us of our reservation for tonight at 7pm. I knew that the Steakhouse experience would take about 2 hours and there were some things happening around the ship at 8pm that we wanted to participate in. I called the Steakhouse and asked if they had any earlier reservations. They moved our reservations to the first one of the evening, which was 6pm.

 

Finally we heard the announcements for muster. We waited in our room for a little while because I didn't want to be stuck in the back. Well, apparently everyone else had the same idea, because we were the second row from the back. Muster took extra long this cruise because there was a large population of french speaking guests on the ship, so every announcement had to made in both english and french.

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Some of the other ships starting sailing away while we were at muster drill, so as soon as it was over, we headed down to the room to grab my camera. We got up to the deck right before we started moving.

 

The sailaway from Ft. Lauderdale is relatively short, but it's fun because you have all the houses and hotels there. A lot of people will go out on their balconies and cheer and wave.

 

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After we got out into the open ocean, we headed back to our room to change for dinner. While in there, we noticed the pilot boat right next to our room, so we took a few pictures of him leaving our ship.

 

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Your pictures turned out beautifully. I'm living vicariously through your review and pictures. Thank you so much. It makes a cold winter night so much more bearable!

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Your pictures turned out beautifully. I'm living vicariously through your review and pictures. Thank you so much. It makes a cold winter night so much more bearable!

 

Aww...thank you!

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Time for the Steakhouse and some food porn!

 

We arrived at the Steakhouse about 10 minutes before our reservation. There were a couple other couples there waiting as well. The hostess was no where to be found until 6pm. As soon as 6pm rolled around, she sat us couple by couple. We got a nice table by the window.

 

The first thing the waitress brought us was some bread with accompaniments. I don't have pictures of the bread, but the foccaccia was absolutely amazing. The tomato chutney that came with it was also really good.

 

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Then, we were brought an amuse-bouche to start. They gave me a little tomato soup and DH a mini hamburger. I really wanted to try the mini hamburger (and don't like tomato soup), so we switch. That little mini hamburger was one of the most delicious things I have ever had.

 

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Next, they brought out the appetizers. I ordered a shrimp cocktail. The shrimp were huge! The cocktail sauce tasted like the one they use in the main dining room. DH didn't really like any of the appetizers, but decided to try the Beef Carpaccio. He said it was good, but nothing special. I tried a bite and wasn't a fan. Tasted really bland to me.

 

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Edited by navybaby1113

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Oh, so I forgot to mention that since we ate in the Steakhouse the first night, they gave us a choice of red or white. We chose the white. It definitely wasn't an expensive wine, but it was a nice addition.

 

After we were done with our appetizers, they brought out the salad. I ordered a Ceasar salad and it was delicious. DH ordered the tomatoes with gorgonzola. He said it was good, but huge! He was a little annoyed that they didn't just have a standard salad in the Steakhouse for picky people.

 

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For our entrees, we both new we had to get steaks! I ordered the filet mignon and it was cooked perfectly. I had it with the bernaise on the side. DH ordered the NY Strip and his was actually a tad bit overcooked, but still tasted delicious. He had his with the three peppercorn sauce on the side.

 

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We both ordered a baked potato as our side.

 

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Edited by navybaby1113

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DH loves tiramisu, so he couldn't pass up the chocolate sampler. Sadly the picture of the entire thing didn't come out, but I have a couple of the individual cups. He said everything on the chocolate sampler was absolutely delicious!

 

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I wanted to try the slice of cheesecake as big as my head and I'm glad I did! It was amazing! I wasn't able to eat the entire thing, so our waitress offered to cover it so I could take it back to our room.

 

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Everything we ate in the Steakhouse was delicious and it was well worth the money. I'm not sure if we would do it again because DH is picky, but I'm very glad we did it once.

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Im loving your review.

 

I was on the Freedom four years ago and had an awesome cruise, and since then have had to cancel two cruises, due to family issues at home, so now I am booked on the Freedom once again for an 8 day later this year, and soooo looking forward to it.

 

Your review and photos help me bide the time while waiting. Thanks for taking the time to post.:)

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