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Carnival Freedom
November 12, 2007
Inaugural Caribbean Cruise

[freedom_keywest.jpg]by Linda Coffman

When you stop and think about it, it can be difficult to pin down what Freedom truly means to us as individuals. However, in the hands of Carnival Cruise Lines' ship architect Joe Farcus, Freedom is a celebration of the past with an eye to the future.

The newest Conquest-class member of Carnival's fleet offers a sparkling journey through the centuries by decade. From ancient Babylon to a glimpse of 2010, Carnival Freedom commemorates specific periods in time. "I thought it would be interesting to go back in time to find inspiration for the various public rooms," says Farcus. His extensive use of brushed copper tones and white, black, and peach-hued marble creates a soothing backdrop for interiors that are vibrant overall, yet subdued and quite beautiful individually.

Dining
Carnival Freedom's array of traditional and alternative dining choices are as expansive as my waistline felt at the end of my short introductory cruise.

The variety of casual dining choices include made-to-order omelets for breakfast and a wide variety of buffet items for lunch, as well as meat-carving and pasta stations and a Mongolian stir-fry buffet in the casual Freedom Restaurant. In addition to the usual selections, there are Oriental dishes, a daily taste-of-nations specialty, coffee bar, a Pizza bar, outdoor Grill areas serving fresh burgers and grilled favorites, the Deli for just-made sandwiches, and a second level offering Fish & Chips (including Bouillabaisse cooked on the spot and calamari with Maui onion fritters). Several serving stations near the swimming pools dispense ice cream treats. Try the Meiji Sushi Bar on Promenade Deck for freshly prepared sushi before dinner. Also on Promenade Deck, the Viennese Café serves specialty coffees and pastry treats for a nominal charge.

Sun King Supper Club

The Chic Dining Room and Posh Dining Room are the formal restaurants where diners are seated amid polished marbles and wood veneer laminated in a python skin pattern. Look for the "Signature Selections" on the menu, dishes created by French Master Chef Georges Blanc. Don't be in a rush to leave or you'll miss the inventive and talented wait staff performing musical numbers just as energetically as they served dinner.

Sun King, Carnival Freedom's supper club is a golden 18th century setting. Named for Louis XIV, design features include sparkling chandeliers, antique mirrors, and intricately woven tapestries. Naturally, a statue of Louis himself greets diners at the entrance. A combo plays for couples who want to take a spin around the dance floor between courses. For the $30 per person cover charge, it's one of the best restaurants—and dining bargains—at sea. Not only is the food exceptional (escargot, New England crab cakes, Russian caviar, lobster bisque, grilled lamp chops, prime rib, Dover sole meuniere, free range chicken, veal chops, lobster, and several cuts of beef from 9 to 24 ounces), but the presentation is sophisticated and the atmosphere decidedly upscale. It's a fine dining experience you won't want to miss.

For parents who want to share a romantic dinner for two, the Camp Carnival program and group evening babysitting takes the hassle out of child care. In addition to the many choices, Carnival Freedom offers the flexibility of dining whenever you are hungry—around the clock. Room service never closes and, while the choices are somewhat limited, a picnic on your private balcony is always a treat.

Staterooms
With so many categories, category selection might seem daunting. In reality, there are only five cabin configurations, but every passenger is assured of standard accommodations that are, on average, 50% larger than those on most cruise ships. On Carnival Freedom, they range from standard Interior and Oceanview staterooms to Oceanview staterooms with private balconies and Suites and Penthouse Suites with large private balconies. More than 60% of all staterooms are outside and, of those, 60% have balconies.

Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony

Staterooms feature light wood cabinetry, pastel decor, mirrored accents, small refrigerator, personal safe for valuables, a sitting area with sofa, chair and table, and a hairdryer in a vanity/desk drawer. A convenience is an open shelving unit next to the refrigerator that is not found on all earlier Conquest-class ships. Terrycloth bathrobes are provided for passengers' use during the cruise in all oceanview accommodations.

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than a lumpy, bumpy bed with scratchy sheets and pancake thin pillow. To insure sweet dreams, Carnival provides more than a chocolate treat on your pillow. The exclusive "Carnival Comfort Bed" systems are simply heavenly. They start with plush mattresses and add soft and comfy duvets, upgraded pillows, and linens for a good night's sleep. 

Bathroom amenities include shampoo and bath gel in shower mounted dispensers and an array of sample toiletries. The shower itself is roomy and has a pull-out clothesline for drying bathing suits or hand laundry. A real convenience is the two-sided (regular and magnifying) bathroom shaving/make up mirror. Closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves, are more than adequate. My one 'problem' observation—the center closet isn't quite long enough for long evening dresses to hang freely. Shelves below the hanging area, while ideal for storing shoes, cause my dresses to 'pool' at the bottom.

For families, the sitting area sofa converts to an additional sleeping area at night and connecting cabins are available. Passengers with physical challenges haven't been overlooked—staterooms have been designed that take their special needs into consideration.

Continued --> Carnival Freedom (Part 2)

Highlights from the Carnival Freedom Caribbean Inaugural cruise:

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