1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Carnival Freedom
Wife and I just got off the Carnival Freedom eight days Southern Caribbean, to La Romana, Grand Turk, Aruba & Curacao, and here's our observations, while still fresh. Hope you enjoy reading this review as much as we enjoyed our cruise ! This was our 12th cruise, spread between Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, but mostly on Carnival, so we have a fair amount of experience to make observations. Overall, a very good cruise with only a few minor glitches, but nothing to get worked up about. (Hey, you're on an eight night cruise to Aruba and Curacao, just roll with it !) Pre-cruise - Flew down to FLL on Saturday for Sunday departure, and stayed at Rodeway Inn. Not the nicest hotel in Fort Lauderdale, but it's clean, safe, great pool, and only about ten minutes from both the airport and cruise port. They cater to the pre-cruise crowd, and have the system down to a science, providing really good value: For $99 total for two, we got Saturday airport shuttle to hotel with quick stop at local grocery to purchase pop & wine, Saturday night room, Sunday AM breakfast, Sunday shuttle to cruise port, and post-cruise shuttle back to airport. Not bad for less than $100 total cost ! Ship - Carnival Freedom is 110,000 tons & 3,000 passengers, and we think it's the perfect size boat. We've been on monster-sized Royal Caribbean ships and small Carnival boats, and this hits the Goldilocks sweet spot - not too big, not too small, just right. Carnival Freedom is big enough to have all the fun amenities, but not so big that you're overwhelmed and never see the same people twice. This boat recently came out of extensive dry-dock renovation and it shows - new fun venues, and everything looks neat & clean, from flat screen TVs, to carpet and wall coverings, not worn out like many ships can become, over time. Food - MDR service was excellent. Freedom has two separate 2-story DRs, separated by galley on deck three. We ate late (at 8:15 PM) in Posh DR, but could see no difference between Posh and Chic DR, located mid-ship. Quality was good, with typical Carnival MDR fare. A few of the fish entrees were so-so, but as always, MDR waiters were quick to swap them out, even without a request to do so. Deck nine Lido Buffet, just off main pool, was typical cattle call, as always, but food was actually high quality, with no complaints. Freedom has three additional no-cost dining options - Mongolian Grill, and two pool-side: Guy's burgers, and Blue Iguana Cantina. All three were good alternatives to the buffet. Guy's burgers were excellent, and the Cantina was great, as well. Both had tons of fresh ingredients to customize your made-to-order tacos, burritos, and burgers. Blue Iguana Cantina also open for breakfast tacos & burritos. Freedom also has a reservation-only steakhouse at $35 p/p. We didn't try it, but others in our group did, and said the service level and food quality were well worth the price. Cabin - We had 6th floor standard size balcony, which was perfect level, only one flight of stairs down to casino, shops, bars and theatre on level five, and only three flight of stairs up to pool and buffet on nine. Not much to say about accommodations - Carnival has some of the biggest standard sized cabins around, with plenty of storage space, far more that two people need for a week. Balcony was small, with just two chairs and a table, but perfect for sitting out and surveying your kingdom, as the ship sails along ! Shows - In what I assume was a cost-cutting move, Carnival has eliminated live bands from the production shows in the big theatre, and uses tape instead. Singers & dancers still do live vocals, but all background music is pre-recorded. No big deal, and I understand keeping costs down and prices reasonable, but it's still a little disappointing .... Four different production shows over the week, each about 45 minutes long, starting at 7:15 PM, so late diners like us could still make our 8:15 seating. Two shows were great, one was OK, and one was bad. Two excellent shows were 1980s pop music and 88 Keys, highlighting piano-based rock music, (Elton John, Billy Joel, STYX, etc.). Great production, video, special effects, dancing, and music ! Third show was Celebration of Soul (Aretha Franklin, MJ, Motown, etc.) Production was good but songs were only so-so. I grew up near Detroit in the 1960s & 70s living this music, and I had never heard of some of the songs selected. I mean, how hard is it to fill 45 minutes with great R&B, soul and Motown hits that everybody remembers and can sign along to ? Fourth show was really bad - good musical idea but terrible production. Supposed to be music of the Islands ( Jimmy Buffet, Beach Boys, reggae, etc.), but show had this hokey we-must-escape-the-volcano theme that just distracted from the music. Oh well, 3 for 4 ain't too bad, and you sure can't beat the price of your show tickets (Free) ! Excursions & Islands - Here's some brief comments on the four stops we made: First was La Romana, Dominican Republic. Two options here - either stay on the boat or have a pre-scheduled excursion. it's not a well developed area and there's literally nothing to see, within walking distance of the pier. Some people said they took a cab into the local town, and were bombarded with pushy vendors, to the point they felt unsafe and left within 30-45 minutes, returning to the ship. We pre-scheduled a tour through Seavis on-line, that I would highly recommend. Very reasonably priced and fun excursion. Took 20 minute cab ride from pier to small fishing village, Bayhibe, then speed boat out to small island for about three hour stay. Seavis provided snorkeling gear, beach chairs, delicious lunch of chicken, pork chops, rice & pasta, and fresh fruit, and unlimited beer and rum drinks all day. Stopped for about 45 minutes on the way back at this beautiful sand bar a mile off shore, but in only 3-4 feet deep water, and the guides found tons of starfish for us to handle. All for only $45 p/p, a great value ! Grand Turk - Beach access and chairs (both free !) only about one minute walk from where the ship docks. No shopping to brag about, just typical island souvenirs and tee-shirts. Another option is to walk about five minute further (no cab needed) to Margaritaville. It's a mini-resort, only open when ships are in port, and has a restaurant, gift shop, multiple bars including a swim-up bar, DJ playing island music, but best of all, a massive fresh-water pool to hang out in. No cover to get in and no drink or food minimums. We spent all day there, so sorry, I can't comment on any available excursions, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing environment at Grand Turk than lounging in the huge pool at Margaritaville ! Curacao - Weird timing in port, with boat docking at 1:00 PM and leaving at 11:00 PM. Lots of shopping, and sight seeing within walking distance of ship. The name brand stores are all right by the pier, while just over the moving pontoon bridge (I know, it sounds strange - you have to see it to fully comprehend it) are all the local shops, 10-15 minutes walking from the boat, (don't need a cab). to your right, just over this bridge is a little public square, which is a great place to negotiate excursions with local vendors, at far better prices than offered by the cruise lines. We got a two hour tour in an open-air bus, driving all over the island, including stops at a beach, the Curacao liquor factory (free samples !) , and a beautiful scenic over look probably 200 feet above the ocean, all for $15 p/p ! Great deal, and if you can't tell by now, my wife is a very shrewd negotiator ! Aruba - Last port of call, and our favorite. Beaches were way better than any of the other three stops, with perfect sand and no rocks. We took a 15 minute cab ride ($15 total each way for up to four passengers) from the pier to Palm Beach, where all the high rise resorts are located (Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, etc.) Some people knock this area of Aruba as being overly-commercialized (it looks like Miami Beach) but who cares ? It's definitely not a nature preserve area, but there are a million things to do right on the beach. We negotiated an excursion with a local vendor, Dolphin Water Sports: three hour catamaran cruise, with two snorkeling stops (one a huge sunken German WW II U-boat and second a traditional coral reef in 6-10 feet of water), and a third stop on a sandbar to hunt for starfish. We got unlimited rum drinks all day a lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit, all for $45 p/p. Great time, great customer services, and great value ! As always, lesson learned regarding excursions - it pays to be a little adventurous. Get off the boat and ask around, and you'll get some really good values. Don't pay the cruise line's over-inflated marks up on excursions, and the fun is in hunt and the negotiating ! All-in-all, Carnival Freedom was a really great cruise. You can not beat Carnival for value, and we hit home runs on all of our excursions. Hope you enjoyed my long-winded commentary !

Great Cruise on the Carnival Freedom !

Carnival Freedom Cruise Review by buckeyecruiser57

2 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Wife and I just got off the Carnival Freedom eight days Southern Caribbean, to La Romana, Grand Turk, Aruba & Curacao, and here's our observations, while still fresh. Hope you enjoy reading this review as much as we enjoyed our cruise ! This was our 12th cruise, spread between Disney, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean, but mostly on Carnival, so we have a fair amount of experience to make observations. Overall, a very good cruise with only a few minor glitches, but nothing to get worked up about. (Hey, you're on an eight night cruise to Aruba and Curacao, just roll with it !)
Pre-cruise - Flew down to FLL on Saturday for Sunday departure, and stayed at Rodeway Inn. Not the nicest hotel in Fort Lauderdale, but it's clean, safe, great pool, and only about ten minutes from both the airport and cruise port. They cater to the pre-cruise crowd, and have the system down to a science, providing really good value: For $99 total for two, we got Saturday airport shuttle to hotel with quick stop at local grocery to purchase pop & wine, Saturday night room, Sunday AM breakfast, Sunday shuttle to cruise port, and post-cruise shuttle back to airport. Not bad for less than $100 total cost !
Ship - Carnival Freedom is 110,000 tons & 3,000 passengers, and we think it's the perfect size boat. We've been on monster-sized Royal Caribbean ships and small Carnival boats, and this hits the Goldilocks sweet spot - not too big, not too small, just right. Carnival Freedom is big enough to have all the fun amenities, but not so big that you're overwhelmed and never see the same people twice. This boat recently came out of extensive dry-dock renovation and it shows - new fun venues, and everything looks neat & clean, from flat screen TVs, to carpet and wall coverings, not worn out like many ships can become, over time.
Food - MDR service was excellent. Freedom has two separate 2-story DRs, separated by galley on deck three. We ate late (at 8:15 PM) in Posh DR, but could see no difference between Posh and Chic DR, located mid-ship. Quality was good, with typical Carnival MDR fare. A few of the fish entrees were so-so, but as always, MDR waiters were quick to swap them out, even without a request to do so. Deck nine Lido Buffet, just off main pool, was typical cattle call, as always, but food was actually high quality, with no complaints. Freedom has three additional no-cost dining options - Mongolian Grill, and two pool-side: Guy's burgers, and Blue Iguana Cantina. All three were good alternatives to the buffet. Guy's burgers were excellent, and the Cantina was great, as well. Both had tons of fresh ingredients to customize your made-to-order tacos, burritos, and burgers. Blue Iguana Cantina also open for breakfast tacos & burritos. Freedom also has a reservation-only steakhouse at $35 p/p. We didn't try it, but others in our group did, and said the service level and food quality were well worth the price.
Cabin - We had 6th floor standard size balcony, which was perfect level, only one flight of stairs down to casino, shops, bars and theatre on level five, and only three flight of stairs up to pool and buffet on nine. Not much to say about accommodations - Carnival has some of the biggest standard sized cabins around, with plenty of storage space, far more that two people need for a week. Balcony was small, with just two chairs and a table, but perfect for sitting out and surveying your kingdom, as the ship sails along !
Shows - In what I assume was a cost-cutting move, Carnival has eliminated live bands from the production shows in the big theatre, and uses tape instead. Singers & dancers still do live vocals, but all background music is pre-recorded. No big deal, and I understand keeping costs down and prices reasonable, but it's still a little disappointing .... Four different production shows over the week, each about 45 minutes long, starting at 7:15 PM, so late diners like us could still make our 8:15 seating. Two shows were great, one was OK, and one was bad. Two excellent shows were 1980s pop music and 88 Keys, highlighting piano-based rock music, (Elton John, Billy Joel, STYX, etc.). Great production, video, special effects, dancing, and music ! Third show was Celebration of Soul (Aretha Franklin, MJ, Motown, etc.) Production was good but songs were only so-so. I grew up near Detroit in the 1960s & 70s living this music, and I had never heard of some of the songs selected. I mean, how hard is it to fill 45 minutes with great R&B, soul and Motown hits that everybody remembers and can sign along to ? Fourth show was really bad - good musical idea but terrible production. Supposed to be music of the Islands ( Jimmy Buffet, Beach Boys, reggae, etc.), but show had this hokey we-must-escape-the-volcano theme that just distracted from the music. Oh well, 3 for 4 ain't too bad, and you sure can't beat the price of your show tickets (Free) !
Excursions & Islands - Here's some brief comments on the four stops we made:
First was La Romana, Dominican Republic. Two options here - either stay on the boat or have a pre-scheduled excursion. it's not a well developed area and there's literally nothing to see, within walking distance of the pier. Some people said they took a cab into the local town, and were bombarded with pushy vendors, to the point they felt unsafe and left within 30-45 minutes, returning to the ship. We pre-scheduled a tour through Seavis on-line, that I would highly recommend. Very reasonably priced and fun excursion. Took 20 minute cab ride from pier to small fishing village, Bayhibe, then speed boat out to small island for about three hour stay. Seavis provided snorkeling gear, beach chairs, delicious lunch of chicken, pork chops, rice & pasta, and fresh fruit, and unlimited beer and rum drinks all day. Stopped for about 45 minutes on the way back at this beautiful sand bar a mile off shore, but in only 3-4 feet deep water, and the guides found tons of starfish for us to handle. All for only $45 p/p, a great value !
Grand Turk - Beach access and chairs (both free !) only about one minute walk from where the ship docks. No shopping to brag about, just typical island souvenirs and tee-shirts. Another option is to walk about five minute further (no cab needed) to Margaritaville. It's a mini-resort, only open when ships are in port, and has a restaurant, gift shop, multiple bars including a swim-up bar, DJ playing island music, but best of all, a massive fresh-water pool to hang out in. No cover to get in and no drink or food minimums. We spent all day there, so sorry, I can't comment on any available excursions, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing environment at Grand Turk than lounging in the huge pool at Margaritaville !
Curacao - Weird timing in port, with boat docking at 1:00 PM and leaving at 11:00 PM. Lots of shopping, and sight seeing within walking distance of ship. The name brand stores are all right by the pier, while just over the moving pontoon bridge (I know, it sounds strange - you have to see it to fully comprehend it) are all the local shops, 10-15 minutes walking from the boat, (don't need a cab). to your right, just over this bridge is a little public square, which is a great place to negotiate excursions with local vendors, at far better prices than offered by the cruise lines. We got a two hour tour in an open-air bus, driving all over the island, including stops at a beach, the Curacao liquor factory (free samples !) , and a beautiful scenic over look probably 200 feet above the ocean, all for $15 p/p ! Great deal, and if you can't tell by now, my wife is a very shrewd negotiator !
Aruba - Last port of call, and our favorite. Beaches were way better than any of the other three stops, with perfect sand and no rocks. We took a 15 minute cab ride ($15 total each way for up to four passengers) from the pier to Palm Beach, where all the high rise resorts are located (Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, etc.) Some people knock this area of Aruba as being overly-commercialized (it looks like Miami Beach) but who cares ? It's definitely not a nature preserve area, but there are a million things to do right on the beach. We negotiated an excursion with a local vendor, Dolphin Water Sports: three hour catamaran cruise, with two snorkeling stops (one a huge sunken German WW II U-boat and second a traditional coral reef in 6-10 feet of water), and a third stop on a sandbar to hunt for starfish. We got unlimited rum drinks all day a lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit, all for $45 p/p. Great time, great customer services, and great value !
As always, lesson learned regarding excursions - it pays to be a little adventurous. Get off the boat and ask around, and you'll get some really good values. Don't pay the cruise line's over-inflated marks up on excursions, and the fun is in hunt and the negotiating !
All-in-all, Carnival Freedom was a really great cruise. You can not beat Carnival for value, and we hit home runs on all of our excursions. Hope you enjoyed my long-winded commentary !
buckeyecruiser57’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Carnival Freedom price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email

Cabin Review

Balcony
Cabin 8C 6280
We had 6th floor standard size balcony, which was perfect level, only one flight of stairs down to casino, shops, bars and theatre on level five, and only three flight of stairs up to pool and buffet on nine. Not much to say about accommodations - Carnival has some of the biggest standard sized cabins around, with plenty of storage space, far more that two people need for a week. Balcony was small, with just two chairs and a table, but perfect for sitting out and surveying your kingdom, as the ship sails along !
Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Catamaran Tour
    Aruba - Last port of call, and our favorite. Beaches were way better than any of the other three stops, with perfect sand and no rocks. We took a 15 minute cab ride ($15 total each way for up to four passengers) from the pier to Palm Beach, where all the high rise resorts are located (Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, etc.) Some people knock this area of Aruba as being overly-commercialized (it looks like Miami Beach) but who cares ? It's definitely not a nature preserve area, but there are a million things to do right on the beach. We negotiated an excursion with a local vendor, Dolphin Water Sports: three hour catamaran cruise, with two snorkeling stops (one a huge sunken German WW II U-boat and second a traditional coral reef in 6-10 feet of water), and a third stop on a sandbar to hunt for starfish. We got unlimited rum drinks all day a lunch of sandwiches and fresh fruit, all for $45 p/p. Great time, great customer services, and great value !
    View All 47 Catamaran Tour Reviews
  • Beach
    Curacao - Weird timing in port, with boat docking at 1:00 PM and leaving at 11:00 PM. Lots of shopping, and sight seeing within walking distance of ship. The name brand stores are all right by the pier, while just over the moving pontoon bridge (I know, it sounds strange - you have to see it to fully comprehend it) are all the local shops, 10-15 minutes walking from the boat, (don't need a cab). to your right, just over this bridge is a little public square, which is a great place to negotiate excursions with local vendors, at far better prices than offered by the cruise lines. We got a two hour tour in an open-air bus, driving all over the island, including stops at a beach, the Curacao liquor factory (free samples !) , and a beautiful scenic over look probably 200 feet above the ocean, all for $15 p/p ! Great deal, and if you can't tell by now, my wife is a very shrewd negotiator !
    View All 102 Beach Reviews
  • Distillery Tour
    Curacao - Weird timing in port, with boat docking at 1:00 PM and leaving at 11:00 PM. Lots of shopping, and sight seeing within walking distance of ship. The name brand stores are all right by the pier, while just over the moving pontoon bridge (I know, it sounds strange - you have to see it to fully comprehend it) are all the local shops, 10-15 minutes walking from the boat, (don't need a cab). to your right, just over this bridge is a little public square, which is a great place to negotiate excursions with local vendors, at far better prices than offered by the cruise lines. We got a two hour tour in an open-air bus, driving all over the island, including stops at a beach, the Curacao liquor factory (free samples !) , and a beautiful scenic over look probably 200 feet above the ocean, all for $15 p/p ! Great deal, and if you can't tell by now, my wife is a very shrewd negotiator !
    View All 61 Distillery Tour Reviews
  • Island Tour
    Curacao - Weird timing in port, with boat docking at 1:00 PM and leaving at 11:00 PM. Lots of shopping, and sight seeing within walking distance of ship. The name brand stores are all right by the pier, while just over the moving pontoon bridge (I know, it sounds strange - you have to see it to fully comprehend it) are all the local shops, 10-15 minutes walking from the boat, (don't need a cab). to your right, just over this bridge is a little public square, which is a great place to negotiate excursions with local vendors, at far better prices than offered by the cruise lines. We got a two hour tour in an open-air bus, driving all over the island, including stops at a beach, the Curacao liquor factory (free samples !) , and a beautiful scenic over look probably 200 feet above the ocean, all for $15 p/p ! Great deal, and if you can't tell by now, my wife is a very shrewd negotiator !
    View All 190 Island Tour Reviews
  • Grand Turk
    Grand Turk - Beach access and chairs (both free !) only about one minute walk from where the ship docks. No shopping to brag about, just typical island souvenirs and tee-shirts. Another option is to walk about five minute further (no cab needed) to Margaritaville. It's a mini-resort, only open when ships are in port, and has a restaurant, gift shop, multiple bars including a swim-up bar, DJ playing island music, but best of all, a massive fresh-water pool to hang out in. No cover to get in and no drink or food minimums. We spent all day there, so sorry, I can't comment on any available excursions, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more relaxing environment at Grand Turk than lounging in the huge pool at Margaritaville !
    View All 2,090 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
  • Saona Island
    First was La Romana, Dominican Republic. Two options here - either stay on the boat or have a pre-scheduled excursion. it's not a well developed area and there's literally nothing to see, within walking distance of the pier. Some people said they took a cab into the local town, and were bombarded with pushy vendors, to the point they felt unsafe and left within 30-45 minutes, returning to the ship. We pre-scheduled a tour through Seavis on-line, that I would highly recommend. Very reasonably priced and fun excursion. Took 20 minute cab ride from pier to small fishing village, Bayhibe, then speed boat out to small island for about three hour stay. Seavis provided snorkeling gear, beach chairs, delicious lunch of chicken, pork chops, rice & pasta, and fresh fruit, and unlimited beer and rum drinks all day. Stopped for about 45 minutes on the way back at this beautiful sand bar a mile off shore, but in only 3-4 feet deep water, and the guides found tons of starfish for us to handle. All for only $45 p/p, a great value !
    View All 24 Saona Island Reviews