March 2014 - Carnival Freedom to Caribbean - Western
We really enjoyed our cruise, but Carnival is probably not our choice for future cruises. There are so many good lines and we found the other two we had been on, NCL and Celebrity, to be much more the atmosphere we would want.
Carnival did do some things very well, and we would like to see other lines follow their suit. Their boarding the ship at the beginning of the cruise was so well done. We were on the ship in about 15 minutes from the time we got to the port terminal. This was amazing and pleasant. They suggested we get lunch when getting on the ship. They put us at ease.
Carnival also had a wonderful disembarking procedure. I was impressed. Anyone who wanted to just carry everything off could do so, and were invited to disembark first thing. Hundreds of people were able to just leave and not wait around for their zones to be called. This procedure is one thing that bugged us on NCL and Celebrity. We had to wait around for hours to be called. In fact in our Celebrity cruise, upon being ready to disembark at San Diego, we had to wait for hours for the first people to even be called. It turns out they had two ships to empty at the same time. Hour after hour went by before our zone was called. We nearly missed our plane, which was scheduled for early afternoon.
As it turns out, we didn't use this fast "disembarking" process from Carnival, because we decided to take in an excursion to the everglades. So we left early for that. The excursion was well done and we would do that again. We had booked our excursions through Avator and wondered up to the time we went on them what was going on. Next time we will go through the ship line to be better taken care of.
So, for Carnival, I have listed 3 big pluses. Because of these I give them high marks. They do not get our best marks because we simply prefer a different atmosphere. We realize that Carnival cannot be all things to all people, and we do believe they did what they do best in a very effective way. The ship is permeated with loud and mostly raucous music. This is obviously music to suit a younger jet-set. We don't mind the party atmosphere, but so many of these young adults carried it to their cabin, as well. Some of them would be so loud in the hall or room with their offensive language and inconsiderate behaviors. This happened more than once. We also appreciated other ship lines for having the choice for some quiet and peaceful places to rest or read or visit if you wanted. That was hard on Carnival.
The ship also was very limited in its library and card-playing rooms---something we appreciated on other ship lines. The ship was also set up so you couldn't go from one end to the other on many of the floors. One of the main choices led you right through a cigar bar/area. People with respiratory problems definitelhy don't need all that second-hand smoke. With eating/restaurants basically on one end and the theatre on the other, people like to be able to get from one to the other without going up or down on other floors to do so. The cleanliness of the ship in our opinions, did not receive as much attention as we would like to have seen. Hand sanitizer was not always readily available. Public restrooms did not appear to be as sanitized as we saw in our other cruise experiences.
Overall, we really enjoyed our trip. We appreciated the helpful and polite assistance when we needed it. We particularly liked the scheduled dining experience each night. They did things to make that fun and enjoyable. Once again Carnival can't be everything to everyone. Perhaps if things were the way we desire, the majority would not go for it. Carnival also has a lower price than many lines and that is a strong persuader. We, however, would rather pay a little more for a more disirable atomosphere.