Seven years after first setting sail, the 2,974-passenger Carnival Freedom emerged from a major makeover in spring 2014 looking refreshed and brimming with upgrades, including the line's mega popular Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina. Many family-focused spaces were added as well. Carnival Freedom was the first Carnival ship with Camp Ocean (the line’s revamped maritime-themed kids club) as well as a Dr. Seuss-themed reading room and play space.
What We Love
Great, Complimentary Dining: Besides the usual fare, the buffet features specialty stations offering made-to-order pizza, deli sandwiches, and Asian stir-fry. On the Lido Deck, you’ll also find Tex-Mex and burgers by Food Network star Guy Fieri all for no additional charge.
Dr. Seuss Partnership: While kids have to be at least 2 to participate in Camp Ocean, younger children (as well as their parents and siblings) can all enjoy Seuss at Sea, designed in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. There’s a charming Bookville reading room where you can read Seuss classics to the kids or attend a scheduled story hour and do Seuss-themed arts and crafts. Activities on board also include parades led by Cat in the Hat and Thing 1 and Thing 2, and even a character breakfast with — you guessed it — green eggs and ham.
Best Known For
Value: Carnival’s wallet-friendly price point is a big part of the line's mainstream appeal, especially for those looking for short cruises for fun in the sun. Based in Galveston, Texas, Carnival Freedom does four- to seven-day Caribbean sailings that start at less than $300 per person.
Fun Atmosphere: Carnival is the king of something-for-everyone cruising. The kids club has activities for ages 2 to 11, and the Twister waterslide draws both kids and their parents. There are also lots of options if you are looking for somewhere to enjoy an adult beverage or two, including cocktails at Alchemy Bar, tequila at BlueIguana, and pints of beer at RedFrog Pub.
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Who It's Best For
Budget-Minded, Outgoing Folks: This ship is a good bet for fun-loving singles, couples, groups, and families who enjoy a boisterous atmosphere. The mood is upbeat and convivial, and you can expect to make new friends by the pool, at the lounge, and around the communal tables at dinner.
Multigenerational Families: There are a slew of G-rated entertainment options on board that everyone can enjoy together, from early-evening comedy shows to a game show where all the challenges are themed after Hasbro games such as Sorry, Connect 4, and Yahtzee.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There’s No Volume Control: The party extends around the ship and never seems to end — which is a good thing for some, but not for those looking for a getaway that includes relaxing on a deck chair to enjoy a good book. Bring ear plugs to the Lido Deck pool to soften the nonstop barrage of DJ-blared tunes and contests that judge cruisers' cannonballs and hairy chests. Head to the Serenity adults-only area, which can be a lower-key spot.
Entertainment Can Be Hokey: If rehashed pop tunes aren’t your thing, you’re unlikely to enjoy the live shows, which include LED-enhanced sets, costume changes, and crooning cast members.
Suzanne Rowan Kelleher is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Boston Globe.
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Carnival Freedom at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Class: Conquest
- Number of Passengers: 2974
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 2007
- Refurbish Date: 2014