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Overall Rating
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions
Gerry Wanke

Age: 57


Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Freedom

Sailing Date: 2009-06-6

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Beware Carnival Bait and Switch tactics. My wife and I booked an oceanview with two twin beds, on the Freedom, directly with Carnival. When we arrived onboard, the cabin was an oceanview with one twin bed and a pullout sofa bed. This was not the cabin that was described by the Carnival salesman. We were told by the Purser's desk they would not know if there was another cabin available until we were 2 1/2 hours out to sea. If we got off the ship before it departed we would not have our money refunded. We could also disembark at our first port of call, Panama, 2 days later, and pay our own way back. After the ship departed, the only cabin available was an interior room across the hall. Since neither my wife or I could physically sleep on a pullout bed without having back problems, we took the claustrophobic cabin with 2 twins pushed together. Bottom line, we paid for an oceanview and wound up with an interior cabin. Carnival has yet to respond to the letter that we sent 2 weeks ago detailing these problems. Buyer beware.

The food was plentiful but average. If you would like to cut the calories may I recommend ordering the prime rib. 3 bites are the most that you will get. The rest is fat. The seafood dishes are probably the way to go. The good news is that if you find that you don't like what you have ordered the wait staff is happy to bring you a replacement. For lunchtime sandwiches, the Deli is excellent. They also have a very good Asian station. The lines are very long (20-30 minute wait) because the process of preparing the food is somewhat laborious. We did not experience the Supper Club but 2 of our tablemates said it was very good.

The stateroom that we wound up in was an interior cabin. You have more elbow room in a CAT scan. The shower backed up and overflowed all over the bathroom floor the first time I used it. The repair fellow said it was due to sand clogging the drain. I guess there is a first time for everything.

If you have taken a cruise before you know what the onboard activities are like. The English MC (they must have a farm near Leeds that churns these guys out) that introduces the "Come on kids, let's put on a show" productions. The "naughty" comedian. The sing-a-long piano player that had the bartender next door rolling his eyes. There wasn't enough $5.46 (gratutity included) Bud's to help this guy. If you're a Bingo player there always seems to be a game ongoing. The casino was relatively big with the majority of the space dedicated to slots. They also had roulette, blackjack, craps and an electronic Texas Hold'Em table. The gym was very well laid out with new machines and a terrific view of the ocean. If you are a cigar smoker, the Habana Bar is outstanding. With over 900 kids on board, this was the perfect hideout. Let's not forget the Art Auctions. Not to worry, they won't let you forget them. The promotion is non-stop. All in all the activities are relentlessy upbeat. What did Shakespeare say about the sound and the fury?

If you are going on a shore excursion may I suggest that you book it before sailing. I believe the prices are considerably higher onboard. We did not get off the ship in Panama. 2 of our tablemates went on the Panama Canal tour which they liked. Our other tablemates went on the Panama City excursion which they thought very overpriced. In Costa Rica we went on an excursion that was cut short by either the President landing in town or the workers at a bananna plantation throwing rocks at tourist buses like ours in protest of working conditions. Our tour guide gave us both versions and then said he wasn't really sure why we couldn't complete the tour. The line was fairly long and ugly demanding a refund from the Shore Excursion folks. Glad to say, I didn't even bother. In Belize, we hired a cab (despite the dire warnings of the shore excursion personnel) to take us to a man made beach in an area called Old Belize. They had a zip line, 100 foot water slide, saltwater pool and clean rest rooms. By the way, the taxi driver asked us what time did we want to be picked up and came back just as promised.

My wife and I have been on 5 previous cruises (including Carnival) and have always had a great time. This was a disaster. Even the service which is always very personable was at best perfunctory. It's one thing, if you book a cruise online and you have issues but it's quite another when you deal directly with the cruise line itself, have issues and they don't even respond. In any economy that is unacceptable, let alone this one. If I were you, I would think long and hard before I risked my hard earned money on a Carnival vacation.

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