Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)
Ship: 377 out of 500
Accommodation: 144 out of 200
Food: 218 out of 400
Service: 260 out of 400
Entertainment: 77 out of 100
Cruise: 260 out of 400
Overall Score: 1336 out of 2000
Carnival Freedom Statistics
Size: Large Resort Ship
Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines
Former Names: none
IMO Number: 9333149
Builder: Fincantieri (Italy)
Original Cost: $500 million
Entered Service: Feb 2007
Length (ft/m): 951.4/290.0
Beam (ft/m): 105.6/32.2
Draft (ft/m): 27.2/8.3
Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (63,400kW)/2
Passenger Decks: 13
Total Crew: 1,150
Passengers (lower beds): 2,974
Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 37.0
Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.5
Cabins (total): 1,487
Size Range (sq ft/m): 179.7-484.2/16.7-44.8
Cabins (for one person): 0
Cabins (with private balcony): 574
Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 25
Wheelchair accessibility: Good
Cabin Current: 110 volts
Casino (gaming tables): Yes
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools: 2 (1 w/ sliding glass dome)
Hot Tubs (on deck): 7
Self-Service Launderette: Yes
Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No
Onboard currency: US$
A fun-filled, alive-at-night ship with lurid decor
Overview. Carnival Freedom shares the same generally balanced profile as sisters Carnival Conquest, Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Glory, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Triumph, Carnival Valor, and Carnival Victory. Immediately recognizable is the swept-back wingtip funnel, Carnival’s trademark.
The Ship. Carnival’s Seaside Theater for movies on an upper outside deck recalls those classic drive-in movie theaters, with seating in tiered rows and the screen in front. The ship has bow-to-stern (extra-cost) Wi-Fi Internet access, including all passenger cabins. Also outside is Serenity, an adult-only quiet spot at the top and front of the ship - a nice escape from all the hubbub on the open decks below.
Inside, the interior decor really is a kaleidoscopic blend of colors (most of which are a mix of dark and gaudy) that stimulate and excite the senses, and is dedicated to time and the decades. The deck and public room layout is fairly logical (except for getting from the aft-placed Posh Dining Room to the showlounge, because you have to go up and down a deck or two). Most of the public rooms are located on one deck off a main interior boulevard, above a deck containing the two main dining rooms (Chic and Posh). Public rooms include the Babylon Casino with gaming tables and over 300 slot machines, a fine Havana Cigar Bar, Monticello Library (with few books), Conference Center, Scott’s Piano Bar, Swingtime Bar, and a popular Wine Bar, among others.
Carnival Freedom is a large floating playground for the young and young-at-heart, and anyone who enjoys constant stimulation and lots of participation events, together with the three ‘Gs’ - glitz, glamour, and gambling. This really is cruising Splash Vegas style - and a fun, all-American experience. Because it’s a large resort ship, expect lines for shore excursions, security control when re-boarding, and disembarkation.
Forget fashion - the sine qua non of any Carnival cruise is having fun. While the cuisine is just so-so, the real fun begins at sundown when Carnival really excels in sound, lights, razzle-dazzle shows, and late-night high-volume reverie.
Minor niggles include the fact that many pillars obstruct passenger flow, particularly in the dining room, where they make it difficult for the waiters to serve food properly; also the non-stop infomercials on the in-cabin infotainment system (you can, however, turn it off).
Families. Youngsters have their own play areas, with children’s programs divided into five age-specific groups under Camp Ocean (ages 2−11 - with children ages 2−5 called ‘Penguins’; 6−8-year-olds called ‘Sting Rays’; 9−11-year-olds called ‘Sharks’). Tweens have ‘Circle C’, while teenagers have their own ‘Club O2’ - a chill-out (no adults allowed) room/disco. Also, soft-drinks packages can be purchased for children (and adults).
Dr. Seuss has arrived, with Bookville, a play space that features iconic decor, colors, shapes, and quirky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Seuss; it was installed in a 2014 makeover.
Accommodation. There are numerous cabin price categories, in several different suite/cabin types, sizes, and grades. These include suites with private balcony; deluxe outside-view cabins with private balcony; outside-view cabins with private balcony; outside-view cabins with window; cabins with a porthole instead of a window; interior cabins; and interior with upper and lower berths.
There are five decks of cabins with private balconies. Standard cabins are of good size and come equipped with all the basics, although the furniture is rather square and angular, with no rounded edges. However, there’s plenty of drawer space, as well as space for toiletries in bathrooms. Three decks of cabins (eight on each deck, each with private balcony) overlook the stern. Most cabins have twin beds that can be converted to a queen-size bed format.
Book a suite (Category 11 or 12 in the Carnival Cruise Lines brochure), and you’ll get Skipper’s Club priority check-in at any US homeland port - useful for getting ahead of the crowd, as well as other perks.
There are also ‘spa’ cabins aboard this ship - a grouping of 18 cabins located directly around and behind SpaCarnival; so fitness devotees can get out of bed and go straight to the treadmill without having to go through any of the public rooms first.
A gift basket of toiletries is provided in all grades of cabins; it typically includes aloe soap, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, breath mints, candy, and pain relief tablets (all in sample sizes - and most in paper packets that are difficult to open).
Dining. There are two principal dining rooms (Chic, located midships, seating 744; and Posh, aft, seating 1,122). Both are two decks high and have a balcony level (the balcony level in Posh is larger than the one in Chic). There’s a choice of either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm) or flexible dining (any time between 5.45pm and 9.30pm). Note that they are not open for lunch on port days.
There are few tables for two, but among my favorites are two tables for two right at the very back of the restaurant, with ocean views astern.
Other dining options. The (reservations required) Sun King Supper Club has fine table settings, china, and silverware, and features prime dry-aged steaks and grilled seafood items. It’s worth paying the cover charge to get a taste of what Carnival can really deliver in terms of food that’s of better quality than what’s served in the main dining rooms.
The Freedom Restaurant, a casual self-serve international food court-style lido deck eatery, has two main serving lines. Included are a deli, an Asian eatery with wok preparation (and sushi), a 24-hour pizzeria, a fish ‘n’ chippery (on the upper level), and a grill for fast foods such as hamburgers and hot dogs. Each night the Freedom Restaurant morphs into the Seaview Bistro and provides a dress-down alternative to eating in the main dining rooms, serving pasta, steaks, salads, and desserts (typically 6-9pm).
For a special celebration, you might like the Chef’s Table experience - a multi-course ‘dégustation’ dinner for up to 12 persons. It costs $75 per person and usually takes place in a small, quiet spot like the Monticello Library, Dynasty Conference room, or other secluded venue.
Entertainment. The Victoriana Theater (named after England’s Queen Victoria) is the ship’s multi-deck showlounge, seating up to 1,400 and staging colorful Las Vegas-style production shows and major cabaret acts. It has a revolving stage, hydraulic orchestra pit, superb sound, and seating on three levels (the upper levels being tiered through two decks). A proscenium arch acts as a scenery loft. The decor is medieval - drinks tables look like shields, and coats of armor and towers with stained-glass windows flank the stage.
An alternative entertainment venue is the aft lounge, which seats 425 and typically features live music and late-night cabaret acts including smutty adult comedy.
Body-throbbing loud music sensations can be found in the ship’s discotheque; it includes a video wall with live projections from the dance floor. Meanwhile piano bar lovers should enjoy the 100-seat Scott’s Piano Bar.
Spa/Fitness. SpaCarnival has a total area of approximately 13,300 sq ft/1,235 sq m, is located above the navigation bridge, and accessed from the forward stairway. Facilities include a solarium, eight treatment rooms, lecture rooms, sauna and steam rooms for men and women, a beauty parlor, a large gymnasium with floor-to-ceiling windows including forward-facing ocean views, and an aerobics room with instructor-led classes (some at extra cost) for which you’ll need to sign up.