What is your shortest cruise countdown ever? Ours… just changed to 11 days. We found ourselves in a strange situation where we had NO cruises booked. I am not even sure how that happened, but we had big changes coming up in our family and we were just kind of coasting on auto pilot. When Mark received a job offer he could not turn down and it was certain he would be changing jobs we decided to take a quick get a way because we were not sure when the next available time would come around. So we quickly requested the time off from work, emailed all of Trenton’s teachers on Day 1 of school that he would not be there week 2, and we booked the Carnival Freedom 11 days before it was due to set sail.
Our original itinerary was Key West, Nassau and Freeport Bahamas. However, there was a huge tropical depression that was predicted to turn into a hurricane going right over that area. I was so certain we were not going to those ports I did not book 1 single excursion and did not even attempt to research anything.
We arrived at the port around 10:30 am and breezed through the Priority check-in. One thing I noticed that was different this time was upon boarding the ship…They came to the Captain’s lounge and called Diamond and Platinum. As we were walking up, before you dinged your card for the first time and had your first official cruise photo taken… they were asking for your boarding pass again. I have always crumpled these up and shoved them back in my bag once we had our cards, but the lady was stopping everyone and asking for our boarding passes. We kept showing her our card like we normally do and she said “No, I need to see the Priority on your boarding pass.” So the entire line was stopped digging into their carry-on luggage trying to attempt to unearth this silly piece of paper. When I said “Ma’am, with all due respect, how do we get the silver and white cards if we are not priority?” and she just blankly stared at me with her hand out. So friends…. Be prepared.
👇Still important until you step on the ship 👇 Atleast for 1 Carnival worker.
So here goes with my review of the Carnival Freedom.
This was our first time on this ship. I will say the décor was not my favorite. I am not sure if it really has a theme… just kind of seemed like a hodge podge of things thrown together. Many of the pictures in the stair wells had animals on them (nature like). The casino was Greek or Roman? Mini golf had big stone heads. It wasn’t bad, just wasn’t as pretty and breathtaking as some of the other ships. The ship was very clean and well maintained.
We all 3 agreed the service on this ship was the best we have had in a very long time. No trip is ever perfect and we usually have 1 or 2 crew members whom we sing their praises. This ship has several.
We were booked in an Ocean Suite 7258. Our room steward was Brian and he was fantastic! He anticipated our every need and kept us with fresh ice and towels all week long. He also kept up with our laundry status and anticipated when we needed to have it sent out so we were sure to get it back the same day. I mistakenly wrote down 7 pairs of shorts instead of 7 pair of socks on the order form and apparently freaked everyone out for a little while (we were off the ship in Grand Caymen). We got that sorted out. They are quite careful with your laundry and very specific to make sure what you say leaves your cabin is what is returned. The Platinum gift on this cruise was the infamous croc visors. There was a knock at the door one day and there was Brian with a sack in his hands. I am not sure if he had some feedback from cruisers prior to us or he too thought the gift was silly… lol, but he presented the hats and said “I think we have some extra tervis cups… would you like to exchange your hats?” We giggled about the visors and said we didn’t really care. About an hour later he was back with some tervis tumblers. I kept one of the visors though because I was determined to rock that fashion! (I only saw 1 other person wearing a hat the entire cruise. He was probably 70 and it was during the VIFP party). I wanted to wear mine to the Main Dining Room on elegant night, but I decided not to upset the delicate rule following cruisers.
We had a truly awesome wait staff at Your Time Dining. I am not sure how we got so lucky, but ChuLee was awesome! She had my wine and Trenton's Root beer ready for us each night. Impeccable service always with a smile. Her jokes were amazing, she loves to dance and if the food was good... she made it :)
It could have been because we eat early, but out dinner service time was really good. We did not wait extreme amounts of time between rounds. As soon as we were finished with our appetizers they were setting our main course in front of us. The food was always the correct temperature and fresh. If you cruise on the Freedom any time soon and have Your Time Dining... make a request. You won't regret it!
We broke away from ChuLee twice to eat at the Steakhouse. We usually always go once, but the staff and food here was so amazing we went back the last night to say Goodbye! The last night the "chef's compliment" dish was a salmon corn chowder. That stuff was so dang good.... I asked to change my order from lobster bisque to a bowl of that salmon chowder and "yes, of course" and it appeared. Holy crap it was good! It needs to be on the menu Carnival folks if you are listening! All the staff in the Steakhouse are top notch... but by far our favorite was Mirela and the Manager Jovana. Two lovely ladies who are very good at what they do and a true pleasure to talk to and get to know. You will not be disappointed with the service here!
The first night as we were almost done with our dinner, 3 ladies came in and were seated at the table next to us. We noticed they all had on Carnival badges so Mark started teasing them. They were quick to say they had to pay the same price as we did for dinner and that they were there celebrating "something special". We thought it was great and started talking to them. All 3 were young and worked in Camp Ocean. We are firm believers the staff onboard cruise ships work very hard. I cannot imagine working day in and day out without routine days off and being so far away from your friends and family must be hard. As Mark paid for our check he quietly asked to pay for their dinner as well and wanted to keep it a secret. We wished them a good night and left. A couple of days later there was a knock on our cabin door with a special delivery.
A plate of wonderful chocolate covered strawberries, a handwritten thank you card and I don't know how they came up with a picture of T and Mark, but there it all was. I was speechless! If your kids are going to Camp Ocean on this cruise, they are in some very good hands. Miss Mack, Shelby and Dominique truly love what they do and are passionate about making sure the kids have a great time! Not to mention how thoughtful they were. We did not expect anything in return, just wanted to let them know their hard work is appreciated and they went to the trouble to track us down and send a Thank You!
Entertainment wise we did not partake in any games or shows. We did attend one family friendly comedy show which was hilarious! The rest of the cruise we just relaxed, did homework and enjoyed some quiet family time together. We did attend the VIFP Party as I stated above because this was Trenton's first 7 day cruise since turning Platinum. He was so surprised and excited to get the "Spring Chicken" award for being the youngest Platinum cruiser on board. The first thing he said when he sat back down was "This is going on my wall when we get home!"
The last detail that I was impressed by was the Carnival security team again. I am not sure how every cruise we have managed to be in line before Trenton as we got off in port... but somehow this time Trenton was first in the line. When they scanned his card he got a "dong" instead of a ding. The computer showed no one in his party had excited the ship yet and as a minor... it would not allow him off. They had to scan Mark's card and then Trenton's for it to allow him off. So if you are wondering that your kids might run off the ship without you in port one day... not so much! Way to go Carnival!