cruises

Carnival Freedom Cruise Review

Like other Carnival ships, the Freedom is a big, bustling vessel that will appeal to a fun-loving crowd on a budget.

Introduction

Editor's Note: In April 2014 Freedom was taken into dry dock for an extensive overhaul to add a number of new features as part of Carnival's Fun Ship 2.0 upgrade program. Among them, Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, RedFrog Rum Bar, RedFrog Pub, EA Sports Bar, Alchemy Bar, Playlist Productions, The Warehouse and Hasbro, The Game Show. Freedom will also be Carnival's first ship to debut Bookville, the new Dr. Seuss-inspired kids program that will be rolling out to the fleet, one ship at a time. We'll take a look at Bookville in a future ship review, but you can preview Freedom's other additions in our review of Carnival Sunshine here.

Unveiled in 2007, the Carnival Freedom is one of "fun ship" line Carnival's newest ships. Currently based year-round in Fort Lauderdale, the 2,974-passenger vessel was the last of the line's five Conquest Class ships, and it sails a variety of six-, seven- and eight-night itineraries to the Caribbean, including some Southern Caribbean itineraries that include stops in Curacao and Aruba.

The Freedom was the first Carnival ship with an adults-only Serenity deck-top area, something still only available on a handful of Carnival ships. Designed as a quiet zone away from children, the adult-only area, alas, is located very close to the ship's Camp Carnival children's area, so it is not quite as quiet as you may hope.

Freedom also is home to three pools, which would seem to provide enough watery fun for everyone on board to get a comfortable share, although they do get crowded on sea days. One of the pools at the back of the ship, the Endless pool, has a retractable dome that lets passengers enjoy a swim even when the weather is less than ideal.

The Freedom offers two main restaurants, one that provides traditional fixed seatings at two times (early and late) and one that operates on Carnival's more flexible "My Time Dining" system. There also is a buffet eatery situated between the two main pools that is open much of the day, with two sets of grills on either side that run all day and night. For a little extra money and a reservation, you also have the option of dining in the ship's signature restaurant, the Sun King Steakhouse.

In addition to pools, the top areas of the Carnival Freedom feature a Sports Deck with a basketball court and a miniature golf course as well as bars galore. There also are extensive children's programs on this ship, with several areas and activities broken down by age group.

Gene Sloan's Opinion on the Carnival Freedom

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Like other Carnival ships, the Carnival Freedom is a big, bustling vessel that will appeal to spirited, fun-loving vacationers — particularly those on a budget. A luxury ship, it isn’t, but the fifth of Carnival’s Conquest Class series offers a lot of value for the money, with most activities, shows and meals included in the basic fare.

While the Freedom’s cabins may be relatively plain (though completely functional), and its cuisine is far from gourmet, this is a ship that is hard not to enjoy — at least if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind a little deck-top silliness, offbeat humor and flashy interior decor. Would you get up on stage to sing karaoke or at least have fun watching your friends do it? This is the ship for you. Horrified by the idea? Maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

Keep in mind, the Carnival Freedom is a relatively low-cost product. You won’t be pampered at every moment, like you would expect on the luxury vessels of Crystal Cruises or Seabourn, and it’s pool areas and spa aren’t as posh. But that doesn’t mean the ship isn’t packed with all sorts of fun stuff, from lively nightclubs to an outdoor screen to watch movies under the stars. Chock full of children’s zones and home to one of Carnival’s signature water slides, it’s also a great ship for families with children both young and old. That said, adults without kids aren’t forgotten. The adults-only Serenity area atop the ship offers a reprieve from the younger set (and unlike on some ships with similar areas, is open at no extra charge, to boot).

Gene Sloan writes about cruising for USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling newspaper, and oversees USA TODAY’s online cruise site, The Cruise Log. Sloan’s stories also are distributed by the Gannett News Service to more than 80 other U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of more than five million, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, and The Arizona Republic.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Ocean View
  4. Interior
  5. Balcony
  6. Premium Balcony
  7. Ocean Suite
  8. Grand Suite
  9. Cabin Amenities
  10. Dining
  11. The Posh Restaurant
  12. The Chic Restaurant
  13. Sun King Steakhouse
  14. Freedom Restaurant
  15. Fish & Chips
  16. Pizza & Grill
  17. Meji Sushi Bar
  18. Chefs Table Dinner
  19. In-Room Dining
  20. Drinks
  21. Pools & Decks
  22. Pool Areas
  23. Sun Decks & Open Areas
  24. Deck Plans
  25. Recreation
  26. Lounges & Public Spaces
  27. Spa
  28. Fitness
  29. Retail
  30. Other Activities
  31. Nightlife & Shows
  32. Havana Bar
  33. Swingtime
  34. Nouveau Wine Bar
  35. 70s
  36. Centuries Bar
  37. Players Sports Bar
  38. Timeless Pool Bar
  39. Endless Pool Bar
  40. Millenium Lobby Bar
  41. Scott's Piano Bar
  42. Babylon Casino
  43. Shows & Other Entertainment
  44. Service & Staff
  45. Staff & Ship Policies
  46. Health & Safety
  47. Vs Norwegian Epic
  48. Vs Celebrity Summit
  49. Vs Carnival Magic
  50. Conclusion