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Freedom Cruise Review
June 22, 2014
by Keith Henderson
We sailed on the Carnival Freedom leaving on June 22nd, 2014 out of
Fort Lauderdale, Florida on an 8-day cruise to the southern
Caribbean. The cruise left Port Everglades with planned stops at
Grand Turk, La Romana in the DR, Curaçao, and Aruba before returning
to Port Everglades. It was our 7th Carnival cruise (22nd overall).
We have sailed on NCL 14 times and Royal Caribbean once.
We had booked this cruise because of its itinerary with stops in
Aruba and Curaçao, which were two locations we always wanted to
visit. The only port stop we had visited before this cruise was
The Freedom is a sister ship of the Conquest and the Valor, both of
which we had sailed on previously. One interesting thing is that the
Freedom had gone through a dry dock 6 weeks prior to our cruise and
we were interested in the changes they had made to the ship as part
of the cruise line's Fun Ship 2.0 renovations.
Arrival in Ft. Lauderdale
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the day before our cruise
arriving in the late afternoon. Our flight from Newark brought us on
a flight path that flew over the cruise port of Port Everglades as
we approached the nearby airport of Fort Lauderdale. Just below us,
we could see that two cruise ships were in port that day; the
massive Oasis of the Seas and the Caribbean Princess.
We had booked a room at the Hilton Garden Inn in nearby Dania. We
found that they offered a free shuttle from the airport to their
location. Once we picked up our bags at the luggage carousel in the
airport, we called the hotel and they were there to pick us up
shortly after making the call. The ride to the hotel took about 15
We had a junior suite with 2 double beds and a sofa bed. Our rate
was $125 for the night. When we checked in, we were told that the
elevators in the hotel were out of order and our room was on the 5th
floor! It reminded us of being in Europe as I carried our luggage up
the four stories to our room. Thankfully, we had made a concerted
effort to pack the minimum amount of clothes for this trip, so each
of our two suitcases weighed only about 35 pounds.
Before we headed out for dinner, we stopped by the front desk to
sign up for an 11:30am am shuttle to the cruise port and our ship.
The fee would be $8 for each of us.
Across the street was the hotel was a large strip mall area with a
Super K-Mart and a few restaurants. Only a few miles away is the
Seminole Indian Hard Rock Cafe, Hotel, and Casino complex in
Hollywood, FL. We took a shuttle ($15 each way) to the HRC for
dinner and to check out the memorabilia. I like to visit Hard Rocks
around the world and this trip let me reach my 67th HRC site
Day 1 – Embarkation Day
It was a sunny day with temps in the low 90’s F.
After our breakfast, we checked out of our room and took the hotel’s
shuttle to the Port Everglades cruise ship terminal leaving at 11:30
am. The shuttle had a few passengers for the Freedom as well as a
lot for the Allure of the Seas which was also sailing out of the
port that same day. It would be our first time seeing a Royal
Caribbean mega ship up close. It took about 25 minutes for the
shuttle to reach the cruise port after leaving the hotel.
The Freedom is the only Carnival ship that currently sails from Port
Everglades. The cruise port of Miami is where the rest of the
Carnival ships sail out of Southern Florida. Our shuttle stopped to
drop off guests at the Allure of the Seas first and a few minutes
later we pulled up to the terminal for the Freedom. Porters were
waiting for us after they had just finished with the off-loading of
the previous cruise’s passengers.
When we walked into our terminal at 12:15 pm, there was a long line
for security. We stood without moving for about 10 minutes before we
advanced into a line for the metal detectors. We then spent about 25
minutes winding our way through the lines for the keycards. After
getting our cards, we then went into another line to have our
keycards scanned and photos taken before walking up a very steep
ramp to get onto the ship shortly after 1:00 pm.
As we boarded and entered the main lobby on deck 3, we decided to
see if our cabin would be open to allow us to drop off our carry-on
bag. As we got off the elevator on deck 7, we were pleasantly
surprised to see that our cabin was open. After dropping off our bag
and taking my camera, we went topside to the Lido deck (deck 9) for
lunch at the buffet. Here, we immediately saw some of the new
changes to the ship. By the pool, they converted a grill area to a
Guy’s Burger Joint and another grill area to a Blue Iquana
Taco/Burrito restaurant. They also had taken away lounge chair space
and added two bars opposite each other by the big pool mid-ship. One
was the Red Frog Rum Bar and the other was the Blue Iquana Tequila
Bar. Each bar had a covered area along with bar stools and counters.
After eating, we walked around to explore the ship and take photos.
By 3:00 pm, we went back to our cabin. Ours was an inside cabin
(room 7290) which was between the forward and midship stairwell on
the Empress deck. One of our checked bags was already there. I had
heard that the muster drill would be at 3:30 pm, but the Fun Times
did not mention a specific time for the muster and the sail away? We
thought that was odd. Around 3:30 pm a thunderstorm blew through the
port area with heavy bouts of rain and occasional lightning and
thunder (just another afternoon in southern Florida). At 4:15 pm, we
were called to our muster stations. We went to our assigned station
for the muster drill not having to bring our lifejackets to the
muster. While we were in the shade, it was still hot and humid as
everyone had to stand close to each other and listen to the
instructions. They did a count and then gave us the all clear. After
the drill, we headed down to the deck 3 outside promenade to find a
spot for the sail away. Shortly after that, they made an
announcement that due to technical difficulties, the sail away would
be delayed to 7:00 pm. They said that their scheduled PM work on the
rear thrusters were taking longer than planned (not a great thing to
hear after all of the mechanical issues Carnival ships have had in
the recent past).
Just around 5:15 pm, the Allure of the Seas blew its horns and
started to pull away from its nearby berth. We watched the huge ship
turn around and exit the channel into the open waters of the
The "Welcome Aboard" show was scheduled for 7:15 pm, which we thought
was earlier than most cruises we have sailed with. Those passengers
with early assigned dining would not be finished with dining by the
start of the show. Even though we had chosen "Your Time Dining" for
this cruise, we decided to eat in the lido deck buffet for our
dinner. While the buffet had plenty of options for lunch, there was
only one station open along with the deli sandwich and pizza
We pulled away from the pier around 7:00 pm. Our ship had to turn
around in order to head out the channel to the open sea. After
eating, we headed down to see the show.
The “Welcome Aboard” show was in the Victoriana Theatre at 7:15 pm.
The Victoriana Theatre holds about 1,400 people and has a variety of
seating with most having good views, but there were poles to contend
with. The show was hosted by the cruise director, Skip Lyons, who
welcomed us aboard. It started with a very funny comedian named
James Sibley who did a short set before Skip introduced the first of
what would be 4 new Playlist Production shows to be shown during our
Carnival has decided to do their own productions with shows that do
not have a live show band. Instead, they have a cast of 4 singers
sing to a soundtrack (I think they call that karaoke?) accompanied
by 4 dancers who are lip-synching.
The show tonight was called "80's Pop to the Max" and was based on
pop songs from the 80's. In the back of the stage, they had huge LED
TV screens providing background images to accent the show. The
singers were very good, but the selection of songs and the way they
jumped from one song to another was haphazard and annoying. It was
like listening to a CD skipping from one song to the next with a
chorus here and a verse there.
After the show, they had musicians playing in various spots around
the ship and the Punchliner Comedy Club in the International Lounge
was open with two comedians doing an adult only show at 11:15 pm.
The comedians were James Sibley and Tommy Drake. They were both very
Day 2 – Day at Sea
It started as a partly sunny day with temps in the low 90’s F with a
By 9:00 am, we were already past Grand Bahama and halfway to Grand
For a sea day, the breakfast buffet in the Freedom Restaurant was
very crowded in the later morning. We did find plenty of empty
tables located on the second floor of the buffet that overlooked the
aft part of the buffet area. The omelet station by the aft pool had
We went to a few trivia games in the morning, winning our first
"Ship on a Stick" for this cruise. We now have one from every
Carnival ship we have sailed.
The Freedom has 3 main pools. The Timeless Pool is found mid-ship on
the Lido deck. Also found mid-ship on the Panorama deck is the
smaller Stressless Pool. The Endless Pool is found aft on the Lido
deck and has a retractable roof cover that is used when there is
inclement weather. And boy, did we have some inclement weather
starting around 10:30 am with dark clouds approaching and then it
was pouring rain for about an hour. During that time, the aft pool
cover was closed.
Before heading up for lunch, I went for a run on the jogging track
and only encountered a few walkers using the track.
In the afternoon they had pool side games, trivia games, a Teddy
Bear Workshop, and seminars. At 3:00 pm, they had a Seuss-A-Palooza
Parade from the International Lounge aft and through the ship ending
at the Victoriana Theatre where they had a reading of a Dr. Seuss
Story. It was cute to see a lot of kids following the Cat-in-the-Hat
through the ship.
Dinner for the evening was cruise elegant and a lot of people were
dressed up. We had chosen the “Your Time” dining option and had to
go to the Chic Restaurant, which was one of the two main dining
rooms on the ship. We went to the dining room at 6:00 pm and were
seated right away. The service team of Gusti and Diah(sp?) were
quick and efficient.
The evening’s entertainment in the Victoriana Theatre was another
Playlist Production. This one was called "Getaway Beach" with the
cast singing beach related songs. They handed out 3D glasses to use
at certain parts of the show.
In the Punchliner Comedy Club, they had the same two comedians
performing 2 shows each. James Sibley had the first two family
friendly shows and Tommy Drake had the two later adult only shows.
We went to one of each and had a good time.
Day 3 – Grand Turk
It was a sunny day in the 90’s F and breezy.
We were scheduled to arrive by 7:00 am with a planned departure of
2:00 pm. Our next port visit was almost 300 miles away and they
needed to leave Grand Turk with enough time to make the journey to
the cruise port of La Romana in the Dominican Republic.
We arrived before 7:00 am and were the only ship in port that day.
I went up for a run before having breakfast in the Lido buffet.
We had been to Grand Turk before, so we did not have any plans to go
exploring the island.
Grand Turk is known for their spectacular beaches and snorkeling
sites. The island itself is a small one. It is only 6 miles wide
from north to south and much narrower from east to west. There is
only one area around the island where the water is deep enough to
accommodate large cruise ships. This is where Carnival built a large
pier and cruise center on 50 acres which is located at the southern
tip of the island. As we were docked, you could easily see the dark
blues of the deeper water compared to the light blues of the shallow
The U.S. dollar is the official currency of the island, so there
were no worries of currency exchange rates.
There is a huge Margaritaville located inside the Cruise Center
complex that includes a large pool which is open to all of the
cruise passengers. A lot of people were going there or to the beach
next to the pier to spend their time on the island.
On our previous trip to the island, we had hailed a cab to visit
Cockburn Town, the capital of Grand Turk. The ride was $5 for each
of us. The taxi stand has signs showing the rates to visit the 4
zones of the island. The furthest point of the island cost $8 for
One thing that was a new option is that they offered a helicopter
tour of the island. It was a 30 minute ride that included circling
the ship. On board, they were asking for $139 per person, but I read
somewhere that you could walk off the ship and sign up for about
$90. The next time we come back to Grand Turk, I will plan on taking
We went off the ship at 11:00 am. For this visit to the island, we
decided to spend some time at Jack’s Shack which is a small tiki hut
located on the beach about 500 yards north from the pier. The
owners, Jack and Janet, welcomed us as we spent a few hours sitting
in the shade, drinking cold beers, and enjoying the view. Jack was
the project manager who oversaw the building of the Carnival cruise
complex on Grand Turk. He liked the island so much, he decided to
stay. They told us that they are only open when cruise ships are in
We went back to the ship around 1:30 pm and met long lines to board
the ship. We rushed up stairs to the pool to jump in and cool off.
We pulled away from the pier at 2:15 pm. We stopped by Guy's Burger
Joint for a burger and fries. They had quick service offering up
terrific tasting burgers. It is definitely a big improvement over
the hockey puck like grilled burgers offered on previous cruises.
Around 4:00 pm, we went to the Victoriana Theatre to watch the
Hasbro game show. They had contestants play large versions of Hasbro
games on the stage. It was fun to watch.
For dinner in the Main Dining Rooms, the dress code for this evening
was cruise casual. This time we went back to the Chic dining room
around 6:15 pm and the service team we had was a bit slower than the
The main show in the Victoriana Theatre was a juggler/comedian named
Marcus Monroe. We decided to listen to music instead.
In the casino bar area, they had the house band named "Extended
Stay" playing songs from the late 60's. Unfortunately there is no
seating in front of the stage, only down the same side of the
promenade. The band was very good. In the piano bar, they had a
musician named Seth entertaining the crowded room.
In the Punchliner Comedy Club, they had the same two comedians
performing 2 shows each. Tommy Drake had the two family friendly
shows while James Sibley had the two adult only shows. We went to
one of each and had enjoyed them.
Day 4 – La Romana, Dominican Republic
It was a sunny day with temps close to 90 F and very humid.
We arrived just after 8:00 am at the cruise port of La Romana with a
planned departure of 4:00 pm. We were the only ship at the small
The newly renovated cruise center at La Romana is located on the
southeastern coast of the Dominican Republic. The famous Casa de
Campo resort is only a few miles away from the port. San Pedro de
Macoris is 27 miles to the west and Punta Cana is 50 miles to the
east. La Romana is the third largest city in the DR with a
population of 130,000.
The Dominican Peso is the official currency. One U.S. Dollar is
equal to about 43 DOP's. All of the shops and bars accepted dollars
and gave change in the same.
This was our first visit to the country. There is very little of
interest in the immediate area of the pier. We met several
passengers that were planning to take excursion tours (Carnival's
and/or independent) to nearby beaches, caves, or a river cruise on
the Rio Chavón.
After doing some research prior to the cruise, we decided to take a
shuttle to Altos de Chavón which is a small village built on a high
hill overlooking the valley of the Rio Chavón. It is part of the
Casa de Campo resort and was built in the 1980's to resemble a
medieval European town. Instead of buying a Carnival excursion to
the village (about $40), we walked off the ship at 10:00 am and went
to the cruise terminal building where they were selling round trip
shuttle tickets for $7.00 each. The shuttles run every 30 minutes to
the village. It took about 20 minutes to reach the village and we
drove through the Casa de Campo Resort to get there.
As we walked around the village, there were a small handful of
restaurants and markets that were open. We joined up with a tour
group to hear the guide explain parts of the village. We walked over
to see the amphitheater which could hold 5,000 people for concerts.
This is where the public rest rooms are located. There is a church
named for St. Stanislaus in the middle of the village, but its doors
were locked. The only thing of interest was a museum called the
Regional Archaeological Museum. The building was cooled by fans and
a center room had air conditioning which brought some relief after
walking around outside. The museum featured the history of the local
native Taino Indians.
We met up with a couple that were from the ship and had come to the
village on a ship excursion. The wife said she thought it was a rip
off. The village overlooks a valley with the Rio Chavón.
After an hour or so, we caught a shuttle back to the ship and went
up to the pool to cool off. For lunch, I chose the Blue Iquana
Burrito station and order a shrimp burrito which was huge and
delicious. My wife returned to Guy's Burger for a plain burger to
add to her salad from the buffet.
In the afternoon, I went for a run and then we went to a trivia game
before lounging in the shade while we sailed away at 4:15 pm. There
was a delay for the sail away as they waited for a few parties to
arrive from their excursions.
At 5:00 pm, they had a reception for Past VIFP Guests in the
Victoriana Theatre. This party was only for Gold, Platinum, and
Diamond VIFP members. They offered free beers, wines, and punch
drinks along with hors d’oeuvres. Skip, the CD, welcomed everyone
and introduced a few of the ship’s staff (the captain was busy with
sail away). Then, they showed a small film about the history of
Carnival and all of the ships they have had in their fleet. Everyone
cheered whenever they saw one of the ships they had sailed on. Next,
they brought up 4 of the 6 Diamond members on board this cruise to
give them gifts. After that, they invited the guests up to the stage
to dance a few numbers.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. We went to the
Chic dining room for dinner around 6:15 pm and were seated under a
stairwell with very little lighting. The service was slow, but the
food was good.
We spent some time listening to music. First, we went to the atrium
to listen to a duo called “Soul Food Café” playing soft rock and pop
tunes. Angie played acoustic guitar and sang and her husband Rob
switched between an acoustic bass and an upright bass. They were
In the International Lounge they had a karaoke hour called
“Superstar Live” where guests came up and sang with the house band
For the evening entertainment in the Victoriana Theatre, they had
the “Love & Marriage Show” at 10:00 pm. They had 3 couples come up
on stage and they had to answer embarrassing questions to win the
big prize (a bottle of champagne). Skip was the host and the
contestants made it a funny show to watch.
Day 5 – Willemstad, Curaçao
It was a sunny day with temps in the 90’s F and very breezy.
We were scheduled to arrive in Curaçao around 1:00pm with a planned
departure at 11:00 pm.
I woke up early and went for a run around 8:00 am before we headed
up for breakfast in the buffet at 10:00 am. By 10:30 am, we were off
the coast of Curaçao and were docking by noon. Again, we were the
only ship in port.
The cruise port is located at Willemstad, the capital of the small
island nation which is the largest of the three ABC islands (Aruba,
Bonaire, & Curaçao) at 171 square miles. Located about 40 miles from
the coast of Venezuela, the population of the island nation is
The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (florin)
with 1 US $ = 1.78ANG. Most vendors accepted US dollars.
They made the announcement that the ship was cleared for passengers
to disembark at 1:15 pm. The pier where we docked is located at the
Mega Pier in the Otrobanda section of Willemstad.
While a lot of passengers were off taking tours of the island's
beaches and other sights, we had decided to just walk into town and
explore Willemstad itself.
Willemstad is divided into two parts by the St. Anna Bay. The older
area is called Punda while the newer section is called Otrobanda.
They are connected by the Queen Emma Bridge which is a swinging
pontoon bridge for pedestrians that leads to the hearts of both
sections. When the bridge is opened for passing ships, there are
ferry boats running people back and forth.
As we walked off the ship, we passed the Renaisaance Mall and walked
through the Rif Fort (a former fort that now holds restaurants and
shops. We had a nice view of the area from the top of the fort's
walls. We continued a few blocks through Otrobanda and walked across
the Queen Emma Bridge to visit the Punda side of the city.
As we reached the end of the bridge, we were facing the Governor's
Palace and we could see Fort Amsterdam. Inside the fort is the
Fortchurch, which is the oldest church in continuous use on the
island. They had a $4 fee to enter the church.
After the leaving the Fort, we heard a bell ringing from a small
house on the swinging bridge. We watched as the gates closed and the
bridge swung open to allow a passing tugboat to go by.
We walked along the water’s edge on a street called Handelskade that
was lined with colorful buildings and outdoor cafés. At the end of
Handelskade the road turned to the right were walked past the
floating market. The market was lined with boats and vendors selling
fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs. Just before the market, there was
a small bridge that crossed over to another section of Willemstad
called Sharloo. The Maritime Museum was facing the bridge as we
As we went by the market area, we turned to our right and walked up
and down several small streets lined with shops, bars, and
restaurants. We also passed the Mikvé Israel-Immanuel Synagogue.
Built in the 1730’s, it is the oldest synagogue in the Americas.
They had a $10 fee to enter the building.
The bright colors of the various buildings in Willemstad made it an
interesting place to visit. To get back to the cruise ship, we
hopped on a small ferry boat (no fee) to cross the bay and return to
the Otrobanda section of town. As we reached the Rif Fort on our way
back to the mega pier, we stopped by a sports bar showing World Cup
soccer matches. We sat outside and had a bucket of beers as we
cooled off from the breeze blowing through the gate of the fort.
We walked back on board around 05:30 pm and headed up to the lido
deck buffet for dinner.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual.
The main show for the evening was Hypnotist named Peter Gross. We
had seen his act on a previous cruise and decided not to go to the
show. Instead, we went to the Red Frog Pub and listened to few
musicians that we taking turns playing there.
Day 6 – Oranjestad, Aruba
It was a sunny day. The temps were in the 90’s F with a slight
We arrived at 7:00 am and were docked at 7:30 pm with a planned 4:00
pm departure. We were the only cruise ship in port that day.
The cruise port for Aruba is located at Oranjestad located near the
middle of the west coast of the island.
Aruba is located about 70 miles from Curaçao and is a smaller island
at only 74 square miles. The official currency there is the Aruban
Florin with 1 US $ = 1.78AWG. The island’s population is about
I had arranged for a private tour with Amador Lacle who asked us to
call him "Bully". Bully was waiting for us at 8:30 am and took us on
a 3 hour tour of the island for $135 in his air conditioned taxi
that could hold 5 passengers.
We started by driving through the downtown area as Bully pointed out
buildings and points of interest as we headed towards the center of
the island. We stopped to visit the Church of St. Filomena in
Paradera. It is one of six Catholic parishes on the island. Bully
pointed out that each parish have public schools where the children
on the island must learn 4 languages; English, Spanish, Dutch, and
Our next stop was at the Casibari Rock Formation. It is a park that
had a large group of rocks which had steps built leading up to the
top offering great views of the island. While there, Bully pointed
out various plants and spotted a local lizard called a Whiptail.
Next, Bully asked if we wanted to see either the natural bridge
(which has collapsed) or the triple bridge. We chose the latter and
we headed to the eastern shores of the island.
On our way, we stopped by a bakery where Bully bought breakfast
pastries called pastechis. They are a fried pastry pocket filled
with a variety of items. He gave us one filled with Gouda cheese and
another with shredded chicken. Both were delicious.
As we approached the Blackstone Beach area, we passed through the
desert area of the island on a dirt road.
There is a local bird called a Troupial with a bright orange body,
black head, and black & white wings. They fly in pairs and we were
lucky to spot two together on a large cactus. We did see a small
hawk flying over us with a lizard it had caught. We also spotted
several more of the colorful lizards called Aruban Whiptails. We saw
blue, brown, and black ones as we traveled through the desert area
of the island.
At Blackstone Beach, Bully brought us to a spot where the sandstone
was formed into a triple bridge by the waves from the ocean. In the
distance, we could see several tour buses lined up by the natural
bridge ruins. Those tour buses could never reach the beach that we
were brought to.
From the Blackstone beach, we headed north to the Ayo Rock Formation
and Indian Cave drawings. Here, the rocks were a little smaller than
the previous ones we saw, but they were blocked off and you could
not climb them. Bully showed us several rock formations that had
Arawak Indian drawings on their inner walls.
As we continued northward, Bully stopped by a small market where he
brought out cold cans of the local brewed beer called Balashi. It
was quite tasty and smooth.
The next site we visited was the Alto Vista Chapel. It is a small
chapel by the shore that was very simple and quaint with wonderful
views of the water below. From there, we drove up a hill that had
the island’s largest water tank. It was a great vantage point as we
could see both the east and west coasts of the island.
We finally reached the northern most point of the island to look at
the California Lighthouse before heading down the western coast
passing several beautiful beach areas named Arashi beach and Malmok
beach. Bully pointed out red and white fencing on the beach guarding
the nests of leatherback turtles that had eggs waiting to hatch.
Next, we reached the area where most of the island hotels were
located. One stop we did make was to the local Hard Rock Cafe
located by the hotels in the Palm Beach area of the island. This
visit made it number 68 on my list of sites visited. That may seem
like a lot, but I have met someone who has been to over 220
different Hard Rock sites in the world.
Bully brought us back to the cruise terminal area by 11:30 am to
drop us off for a little shopping before heading back to the ship.
We thought it was a great tour and would highly recommend Bully as a
guide for anyone visiting Aruba for the first time. He is a great
ambassador for the island and its people.
We were back on the ship by noon and we headed up to the lido deck
for lunch before I went for a run.
We spent the afternoon playing trivia and relaxing in the shade. We
sailed away from the dock at 4:00 pm.
The dress code for this evening was Cruise Casual. We went up to the
Chic dining room at 05:45 pm and were immediately seated. But, after
waiting for 30 minutes from the time we placed our order with the
waiter and no food had arrived, we decided to leave and went up to
the buffet. We wanted to see the shows and listen to music.
In the Victoriana Theatre was a show called “88 Keys.” It was
another Playlist Production show with this one centered on piano hit
After the show, we went to the Atrium Lobby to once again listen to
the duo “Soul Food Café.”
They had the Punchliner Comedy Club open in the International Lounge
with Mark Hawkins and Joe Marlotti having adult only sets starting
at 10:00 pm. They were both very funny.
Day 7 – Day at Sea
We slept in and I went up to the lido buffet to get some tea and saw
that the chair hogs were out in full force as every lounge chair in
the mid ship pool area had some personal belongings on them.
We went to 9:30 am trivia game before going up for breakfast. We
then spent the rest of the morning playing trivia before I went for
By 1:00pm we were between Haiti and Jamaica.
After a quick lunch, we went to see a second Hasbro show in the
Victoriana Theatre, then played another trivia game. After that, we
went up to the lido deck and sat in the shade at the Blue Iguana
Tequila bar to listen to a solo guitar/singer named David Lazarus.
By 6:00 pm, we were between Cuba and Haiti.
For dinner, we decided not to deal with the dining room and just
went to the buffet. It was another Cruise Elegant night and a lot of
people were dressed up.
Before heading to the evening show, we listened to some music in the
Atrium. The Playlist Production show in the Victoriana Theatre for
this night was called “Heart of Soul.” The show featured soul music
artists like Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder. We ended up walking
out before the show ended.
We went back to listen to more music before going to the Punchliner
Comedy Club. They had the two comedians we saw the day before
performing 2 shows each. Joe Marlotti had the two family friendly
shows while Mark Hawkins had the two adult only shows. We went to
one of each and really enjoyed them.
Day 8 – Day at Sea
It was another hot sunny day with temps in the low 90’s F and
By 9:00 am, we were halfway up the northern coast of Cuba.
For our last full day on board, we slept in before going to a trivia
game and then heading up for breakfast.
We went to another trivia game before I went for a run. While making
my laps, another Carnival cruise ship was passing us heading south.
We went for a late lunch and spent a few hours lounging in the shade
watching the waves go by. We did stop by the Blue Iquana Tequila Bar
to listen to musicians for a short while.
Before dinner, we packed our luggage in preparation of putting them
out for the porters later in the evening. Our disembarkation
instructions said that the luggage needed to be outside of our cabin
before 11:00 pm.
Dining was Cruise Casual and we went up to the buffet for dinner.
The shows in the Victoriana Theatre were Peter Gross with a magic
show and then a repeat of the Playlist Production “80’s to the Max.”
We passed on the two shows and just listened to music before heading
over to the Punchliner Comedy Club. I did stop by our cabin to put
out our luggage on the way to the club. This time, Mark Hawkins had
the two family friendly shows while Joe Marlotti had the two adult
only shows. We went to one of each. Both were really funny.
Disembarkation Day – Ft. Lauderdale
It was a partly sunny morning with temperatures in the low 80’s F.
We were scheduled to arrive at Port Everglades by 5:30 am. Our
instructions had told us that we needed to be out of our cabin by
8:30 am. This was to allow the cabin stewards to have their cabins
cleaned and ready for new passengers later that day.
I went up to the buffet to get some tea around 6:00 am and saw that
we were already docked. We headed up to the lido deck buffet for
breakfast before returning to our cabin.
At 7:15 am, they announced that passengers that had chosen
“self-assist” debarkation could start to get off the ship. We had an
11:45 am flight at Fort Lauderdale and were assigned zone 2 for
disembarkation. At 8:15 am, they announced the first wave of
passengers who had checked their luggage. We were the second zone
and heard our number announced at 8:30 am.
In the terminal, we easily found our luggage and then had to wait a
few minutes going through border patrol processing. Heading outside
at 8:40am, they had a line of taxis waiting and they quickly had one
ready for us. The ride to the airport was $15 and only took 10
minutes. As we got out of the cab, we could see the smokestack of
The ship –
The ship was built in 2007 as part of the Conquest class for
Carnival She was the last ship from this class of ships. She was
christened by Kathy Ireland, the ship’s godmother. The Freedom had
renovations in 2009 and 2014.
Instead of the loud gaudy colors, the ship was decorated in tones of
brown which was a pleasant surprise. I read that the theme for the ship’s décor is the decades through
the centuries. As we walked around the ship, it seemed that were
using left over art panels from other Carnival ships.
Fitness and Spa –
The ship has a large fitness center that is located on the Spa Deck
forward. To find the gym area, you need to walk through the spa
area. There are a wide variety of treadmills, ellipticals,
stationary bikes, and other pieces of equipment available at no
extra charge. All of the equipment faced out to windows. The gym was
open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.
The Spa has several treatment rooms along with
saunas and steam rooms for each gender. They offered spa treatment
specials during port days. There was an indoor hot tub that was
accessible from the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The hair salon was located by the Spa as well.
The running track was found on the Spa deck going around the iconic
smoke stack. A sign posted stated that it takes 9 laps to complete a
mile. In the same deck area was a small basketball court surrounded
by a net.
On the Sun deck midship was a mini-golf course.
Pools & Serenity areas–
Between the lido deck and panorama deck there are three salt water
swimming pools with two pools midship and one aft. The two larger
pools (Timeless and Endless) found on the lido deck are 4 ft 6”
deep. The smaller Stressless pool on the panorama deck only has a
depth of 4 feet. There are hot tubs next to each pool. There was no
cover over any of the pools to provide any shade. The aft pool and
hot tubs were marked as adult only.
The entrance to the water slide was on the Sky deck. The slide
itself does not end in a pool. For the most parts, the pools were
open from 08:00 am to 10:00 pm while the hot tubs were open until
An Adult-only Serenity area was added during renovations and is
found forward on the starboard side of the Sun Deck and both sides
of the Sky Deck. It has two hot tubs and its own bar. The bar was
only staffed by one person, so we always saw a line of people
waiting to buy drinks.
Our Cabin –
We prefer inside cabins when we cruise. With the Freedom, the inside
cabins are about 185 square feet which gave us plenty of space to
The cabin had three closets. Two of the closets came with bars
holding 10 hangars each while the other closet had shelves. In one
closet were two terry cloth robes for our use.
We were able to store our luggage under the beds.
The cabin had a small safe for valuables. To lock/unlock the safe,
you needed to use a credit card or a driver’s license that had a
There was a small fridge in the cabin that was filled with an
assortment of beers and soft drinks you could purchase.
The bathroom had a shower with a cloth curtain with dispensers for
body wash and shampoo. The shower head was moveable (up and down
depending on your height) and could detach to be held by hand.
There was a hair dryer that was located in a drawer by the mirror
inside the cabin. But, the cord was not very long.
There was one outlet available to plug in electronics by the desk
top. We brought our small extension cord to allow multiple devices
to be charged at the same time.
The location of our inside cabin (7290) was located between the
forward & midship stairways on the Empress deck. We only had to walk
up 2 decks to get to the Lido deck and down 2 decks for the
Promenade deck. We found that to be very convenient. With cabin
decks above and below, we thought it was a quiet area as well.
Public areas for entertainment –
The main show room is the Victoriana Theatre located forward which
holds about 1,400 passengers and has entrances on 3 different decks.
Besides the theater, all of the evening activities are focused on
the promenade deck. There, you will find the International Lounge,
Scott’s Piano Bar, Babylon Casino, Swingtime Bar, 70’s Dance Club,
and the EA Sports Bar.
There is a large screen over the main pool area that showed movies
While Carnival has reduced the overall number of musicians, the
Freedom did have a few talented musicians on board to entertain
people at various locations and times.
There was a house band called “Extended Stay.” They were a quartet
along with 2 singers playing a wide variety of music. They were very
The trio “Latin Flavor” played Latin style music along to background
“Soul Food Cafe” was a duo playing soft rock and pop songs on
acoustic instruments. We enjoyed listening to them. They will soon
be heading to the Carnival Legend after it arrives in Australia.
Seth was the piano player in the piano bar. He was very
entertaining, although he seemed to play a lot of Billy Joel tunes.
He too, is heading to the Carnival Legend.
The two solo acoustic guitarists, David and A-Mac, were good.
They did have DJ’s playing in the atrium and by the lido mid-ship
They have a dance club located on the promenade deck aft called “The
70's” that has a light-up dance floor. They had a DJ playing music
in the disco every night of the cruise.
Other general info –
On decks 6, 7, and 10 forward there are doors that lead to balconies
overlooking the bow of the ship.
On deck 3, there is a wooden promenade on both sides of the ship
with lounge chairs available. We enjoyed sitting in the shade and
watching the waves go by. We rarely saw anyone in those areas.
Navigating the ship on decks 3 and 4 can be a bit confusing because
of having a large main dining room located midship. You have to go
down to deck 2 or up to deck 5 to get from aft to midship.
The hallways with odd number cabins are on the starboard side while
the even numbered cabins are on the port side of the ship.
We are not smokers and my wife cannot be around smoke for health
reasons. Smoking was a problem for us on this ship. A lot of events
were in the casino bar area and every time we went back to our
cabin, our clothes reeked of smoke. Smoking was also allowed in the
Disco and Swingtime Bar.
Laundrettes – The ship has 5 small
laundry rooms located in the following:
Riviera Deck 1: across from 1357 and 1359
Main Deck 2: across from 2365 and 2367
Upper Deck 6: across from 6385 and 6387
Empress Deck 7: across from 7337 and 7339
Verandah Deck 8: across from 8349 and 8351
Lido Deck 9: across from 9268 and 9270
They each have keycard operated washers and dryers ($3.00 per load
for each) along with an ironing board and iron. They also had
dispensers for soap packets ($1.00 each).
There were several dining options.
For dinner, the Freedom has two large main dining rooms with
assigned early and late seatings. The Chic Dining Room is located
midship on decks 3 and 4 with capacity for 744 diners. The Posh
Dining Room is located aft on the same decks. It’s the larger of the
two MDR with a listed capacity of 1,120. The table areas on deck 4
seemed to be a little quieter than the areas in deck 3.
They also offer “Your Time Dining” which allows you to show up at
the Chic Dining Room on deck 4 from 5:45 pm to 09:30 pm. When they
have an available table, you would be seated for dinner. We chose
the YTD option and never waited any longer than 10 minutes to be
seated. The longest lines seemed to be at 5:45 pm and 7:00 pm. We
were able to have a table for two each time, although they will ask
if you would like to share a table.
In addition to the main dining rooms, they have the Freedom
Restaurant which is their buffet style restaurant (no fee) on the
Lido deck and Sun King Steakhouse (fee) found on the Panorama Deck.
Inside the Freedom Restaurant, they have several food stations which
included a Mongolian Wok, a Deli sandwich bar, a salad bar, 2
carvery stations that offer different foods each day, and a 24 hour
pizza bar. In addition, the Freedom Restaurant has a second floor
with a fish and chips station (only open for lunch) and additional
tables and drink stations which most passengers did not seem to know
about. We never had a problem finding an empty table there. They
have a coffee bar where you could buy gourmet styles of coffees.
While these stations were all open for lunch, they only had one of
the carvery hot food stations open for dinner; everything else was
closed except for the deli and the pizza bar.
The deli was open for from 11:30 am to 11:00 pm each day. They had a
variety of hot and cold sandwiches available that were
The Fish ‘n Chips buffet was only open for lunch and offered fish
and chips, fried oysters, shrimp and calamari fritters,
bouillabaisse, ceviche, and BBQ octopus.
The Mongolian Wok was only open for lunch and there was always a
long line. It was very popular with the passengers.
As part of the recent renovations, there were two new grills added
that are located by the mid-ship pools; Guy’s Burger Joint and the
Blue Iguana Cantina.
Guy's Burger Joint serves burgers and fries (no fee) inspired by Guy
Fieri. It was only open for lunch.
The Blue Iguana Cantina serves Mexican burritos and tacos (no fee)
with a variety of salsas and toppings. For burritos, you had the
option of beef, chicken, or shrimp. It was open for breakfast and
The Sun King Steakhouse had an added fee of $35 per person and
required a reservation. Its dress code was cruise elegant every
night. The name, Sun King, refers to the French King Louis XIV.
For breakfast, you can go to the Freedom Restaurant or the Posh
Dining Room. In the buffet, they have two omelet stations with one
set up at the Mongolian Wok station and the other by the aft pool.
For lunch you can go to the lido deck buffet or the Posh Dining Room
They offer 24 hour room service with a limited menu.
The Viennese Café on deck 5 midship offers gourmet coffee and pastry
bar (fee). It was open from 7:00 am to 10:00 am and then from 3:30
pm to midnight.
For those looking for something special in a dining experience, they
offered “The Chef’s Table”. For a fee of $75 per person, you would
have a personal meal with the executive chef who would provide a
private galley tour and a multi-course meal for a small group. You
needed to make a reservation for this event which had limited
In the lido buffet area, they have fountains with various things to
drink. For breakfast they offer OJ, Passa-Guava Juice, Apple Juice,
and unsweetened ice tea along with water, coffee, and assorted tea
bags. For the rest of the day, these fountains offer lemonade, iced
tea, and water along with the coffee and hot teas options. For breakfast on port days, the buffet lines can get quite long and
available tables are at a premium. Sharing tables helped to
alleviate the crush of diners.
As mentioned we chose the “Your Time” dining option. Cruising is our
time to be together and we prefer the option to eat alone at our
convenience. We found this option to be preferable over assigned
dining seating. Although, the service seemed to be hit or miss on
this particular cruise.
Bar Service –
There are plenty of locations on the ship offering alcoholic drinks.
On the Sun deck in the serenity area was the Serenity Bar.
On the lido deck by the Timeless Pool was the Blue Iguana Tequila
Bar and Red Frog Rum Bar. By the Endless Pool aft they had a small
On the promenade deck, you will find the Alchemy Bar, Red Frog Pub,
EA Sports Bar, Centuries Bar, the 70's Disco, Scott's Piano Bar, and
the Swingtime Bar.
On the Atlantic deck was the Habana Cigar Bar.
We are beer drinkers and Carnival offered beer bucket specials where
you would get 4 beers (mix and match) with a $2 discount for the
They did have daily drink specials as well. There were some martini
tastings on a few occasions.
Past Guest Program –
We are rated as Gold Members of Carnival’s Past Guest Program (VIFP)
and we were invited to the Past Guest party. We were each given a
free drink certificate ($9 value) which could only be redeemed in
the Posh Dining Room during breakfast, lunch or dinner. We went to
the dining room once during lunchtime and asked for two large cans
of Fosters beer to take with us.
There were plenty of other things to do on aboard for all interests.
They had the usual plethora of bingo games and art auctions as well
as poolside games.
We like trivia and we took advantage of the several trivia games
they offered during the cruise. We won 6 “Ship on a Stick” trophies.
We have a “Ship on a Stick” from each of the 7 Carnival ships we
have sailed with. We think that they make a nice memento of our
The casino is open during times at sea. We do not gamble, so we
cannot comment on the slots and gaming tables.
Skip Lyons (Australia), the cruise director was visible and
approachable. We thought he and his cruise staff did a terrific job.
The cruise staff were very friendly, Taylor (U.S.), Ryan (U.S.),
Alana (Canada), Sarah (England), and Ashley (U.S.).
Our room steward Prawech and his assistant were assigned 22 cabins
to service during our cruise. We thought they did a good job. He
always met us with a smile and asked if we were having a good day.
We had a good time and enjoyed our cruise on the Freedom.
The addition of the Guy’s Burger Joint and Blue Iguana Burrito Bar.
The musicians on board and having live music occasionally by the
The group of comedians were very good compared to previous cruises.
The new Playlist Productions. They seemed cheesy and hokey. We felt
that they were a definite step down in quality for a production
Lack of a venue to watch and listen to musicians. The Swingtime Bar
was used exclusively for smoking and would have been a good choice.
The Habana Bar area was never used.
Itinerary: We really think that they should stay a full day at Grand
Turk, skip La Romana all together, and then have full days in
Curaçao and Aruba.
Guide & Cruise
Cruise Diva's Blog
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