Emma, the cruise director, MADE this trip!

Carnival Freedom Cruise Review to Caribbean - Eastern

Cruises: 2-3 cruises
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 16

Overall rating:

3.8 out of 5
Carnival Freedom

7 Night Eastern Caribbean (Galveston Roundtrip)

Sail date: April 13, 2019

Ship: Carnival Freedom

Cabin type: Inside

Traveled as: Family (older children)

Reviewed: 2 years ago

Review summary

My 14 year old and 12 year old both said it was "the best week of their life." It's not typically how we like to travel. We like very active vacations and, in general, cruises are a lot of eating temptations :-). My husband I enjoyed the time together without kids while the kids were at the teen club or hanging out with the friends they made. In general, I was not happy with the excursions--primarily overpriced for what they were, and I think we would have had a better time exploring on our own. Overall the crew/staff was great. Things went much better than I expected. Surprisingly, the shows were my favorite part. I was disappointed in the dance club.

Embarkation

3 out of 5
Our porter sat with our bags for a very long time while other porters were pushing carts through. The bag checking process was chaotic and disorganized. The rest of it was fine.

Ship experiences

Food and Dining

3 out of 5
The dining room food was inconsistent (poor, average, great). The buffet was mostly average. The lines became backed up in the mornings due to the staff being made to serve bacon as opposed to self-serve.

The Chic Restaurant

3 out of 5

We had one spectacular server, the rest of the meals were very average. I also wanted to have the same assigned table every night, I'm still a little confused why we didn't have that option.

Pizza Pirate

5 out of 5

I thought the pizza was excellent. Service was fast too.

Scott's Piano Bar

2 out of 5

The layout and concept was great. The pianist wasn't very great at getting everyone involved, but maybe I'm being too harsh because I had Emma to compare her to. I would have liked a sing-a-long, but it just felt awkward every time we tried it out. Would also help to have a screen of lyrics up for the songs too.

Redfrog Rum Pub

4 out of 5

Great atmosphere. Played foosball. Great live band. decent service. usually fairly empty considering.

International Aft Lounge

4 out of 5

We went to several comedy shows here. Great layout. Sometimes crowded, but we were still able to find a seat.

Habana Cigar Bar

4 out of 5

Difficult to find, but great atmosphere. We went to a few karaoke sessions here. It was welcoming and relaxing.

Guy's Burger Joint

5 out of 5

Excellent burgers! The toppings could use a little work, but the burger itself made up for it. Also fast service too.

70's Dance Club

3 out of 5

The atmosphere was great--decor and layout. I didn't judge on the fact that it allows smoking (because I don't like smoke), but it's fair that they allow it, I think. My main disappointment was the music choices were geared toward your typical young clubbers, which was a very small fraction of the ship. It would have attracted more of the cruisers had it been a continuation of the music that Emma (cruise director) rallied everyone to dance to that day--pop music through different decades. I was ready to dance, but can't relate to typical modern clubbing music--and the dance floor was mostly empty most nights.

Onboard Activities

4 out of 5
The slides (they were fairly new) were slow and just meh. The fitness center was spectacular.

Slide Entrance

3 out of 5

The slides were very slow. Maybe good for little kids.

Guest Services / Shore Excursions

2 out of 5

Overpriced excursions. Guest services was hit or miss--sometimes we'd get a polite person, sometimes apathetic. My husband lost his prescription glasses on day one so we checked back every day. Would have been nice if someone had his name and missing item on record so he wouldn't have to describe it every time and we would at least feel like they were looking out for it. Makes sense they should keep a record of guests missing items. As it was, we checked in every day--mostly okay service, but a few apathetic staff. I was very unhappy with the Nassau Atlantic excursion--way overpriced, rude staff, awful food, long lines, inattentive lifeguards, average rides, nowhere to sit, (nice beach though, albeit crowded).

Fitness Center

5 out of 5

Lots of modern and clean equipment. A great separate room for classes. Overlooked the front of the ship so it felt like you were running on water :-)

Entertainment

4 out of 5
Enjoyed the shows, but I especially enjoyed the Cruise Director, Emma. She was the best thing about the cruise. Anytime she was hosting an event, even a small one, she was able to get the crowd going. And the crowd was a tough crowd--not very participatory. The night club was very disappointing. I went almost every night, but the DJ played all club music (except one night that was 80s night which was enjoyable). Before you roll your eyes, I realize that sounds like a ridiculous critique, but here's why I think that strategy is off: The majority of the cruisers are older and not your typical clubbers. The club was mostly empty most nights. If the club had continued the theme of the big show of the night (music through different decades), I believe it would be much better attended and the dancing fun that Emma had warmed us all up on could have continued. There was a spectacular live band at the RedFrog Pub that did just that, and a group of us stayed through their sets to dance. Had they done this (continued the theme) every night, I think it would have attracted a large group of dancers and overall fun.

Victoriana Main Lounge

5 out of 5

Great seating, great shows. The stage and effects were amazing. LOVED the 80s show with the "Take On Me" set and the treadmills. Super creative.

Children's Programs

5 out of 5
Both my kids, 12 and 14 years old, enjoyed the teen club. My oldest met friends the first day and never went back, but still gave high ratings due to the way Tiffany (Circle C club director) handled the initial ice breaker. My youngest loved the club and went back every day.

Circle C

5 out of 5

Both of my kids loved it. Both gave high reviews of Tiffany, director of Circle C. Great icebreakers the first day of the cruise--allowed my teens to make friends quickly and enjoy the rest of the cruise days with their friends.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5
Staff was great in general--Disney caliber. Guest services was hit or miss. The waitstaff in the dining room was also hit or miss. We had one excellent waiter, Hristian. Best service on the ship. And, then there was Emma, the cruise director, that simply made the trip spectacular.

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Everything was great except that we had to constantly walk through a smoke-filled casino to get to the main parts of the ship. There was a bit of noticeable wear and tear on the ship, but in general, it was nice.

Cabin / Stateroom

4 out of 5
The beds were cozy. The room was tight, but better than I thought it would be. There was a strange footprint stain on the carpet (just one?), but otherwise the room was clean. Lots of storage space. The remote for the TV didn't work very well. Overall good room though.

Ship tip

It was fun to sit in the sauna while we were exiting port. Hardly anyone used the steam room or sauna. It was a relaxing way to watch the ship leave port.

Ports of call

Galveston, Texas

4 out of 5
Didn't get to spend a lot of time here, but the shops and beaches seemed nice. We loved the giant old houses. Next time, we will stay in Galveston the night before and spend some time on the beach before embarkation

Key West, Florida

4 out of 5
We didn't do an excursion, and I'm glad that we didn't. It's fairly easy to explore by foot. We had planned to rent bikes, but my kids wanted to look at the shops, so we decided just to walk. We did pay for the Hemingway House tour, and that was interesting, though a bit crowded. I thought it was overpriced, but my husband didn't think so. It was cash only, so make sure you bring cash. We also walked to the southernmost point and it wasn't too tiring of a walk. Though we are a pretty active family.

Freeport, Grand Bahama Island

4 out of 5
I was unimpressed with Freeport in general, but our excursion was good. We did a kayak tour with a beach visit. The kayak tour was good. A little monotonous, but fun to see the mangrove. The beach we visited was spectacular. Not too crowded. It almost felt like a private beach. Beautiful clear blue water. Our lunch was not great. Just plain sandwiches. I was very hungry so I ate it, but otherwise I wouldn't have even eaten any of it.

Nassau, Bahamas

2 out of 5
We did the Atlantis excursion. In my opinion this was the worst part of our trip. And it was the one I was looking forward to the most. Way overpriced. The lunch was very unhealthy and awful. The park was confusing. They need more signs. I'm surprised our group didn't get completely lost on the way back to the shuttle. The slides were just okay. The beaches were nice, but overcrowded. Hard to find a place to sit for lunch. No deck chairs available anywhere. Long lines. The employees I encountered were apathetic at best. We caught several lifeguards on their phones. My whole family enjoyed the river rapids (like a lazy river but on rapids), but it was dangerous. My son hit his head on the side rocks twice and he was following all of the instructions to the T. We saw a dad and his little son get banged up really bad. The son had a massive bleeding bump on his forehead and his dad was bleeding from the back of his head. No lifeguards around that did anything about it. If you do go to Atlantis, be careful. Assume the lifeguards aren't paying attention, because from what I could tell, they weren't. I can't speak to other parts of Nassau, but based on my experience at Atlantis, I won't be going back.

Disembarkation

2 out of 5
We had a flight to catch and got a note that we could leave at 8:30am and to wait for the announcement. I asked several of the crew while we were waiting and they assured us we would be fine. They never made an announcement for early flight people. Luckily, we were on the 1st level which is first to leave so we were at least able to leave around 9:30. It took an hour to get through customs. Luckily the traffic was clear on the way to the airport, otherwise we would have easily missed our flight. It was confusing and annoying. I would think they could come up with a better system for Disembarking after so many years of experience. I don't know what it's like on other cruises, as I've only been on one other and it was a special scenario.
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