Monday, 7 July 2014

Carnival Freedom passengers sound off

Carnival Freedom passengers sound off

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightI was aboard the Carnival Freedom on an eight-day cruise through the Caribbean last week. The ship was fresh out of a drydock and sported the new Camp Ocean children’s play areas.

At the conclusion of the cruise I asked 10 passengers, or couples, about the highlights and lowlights of their cruise.

The passengers ranged in age from young adult to retired. Several were African-American, two were Hispanic, and they came from seven states, including Utah and California. Three were from Florida.

A few general impressions stood out. Overall, the satisfaction level was pretty high. Several struggled to find anything negative to say, and no one was more negative than positive.

The excursions were one highlight for most of those interviewed, especially the tour guides. If there was a complaint it was that the excursions, and the port calls in general, went by too quickly.

“A little more time in port would have been great,” said Danilo Martell of Corona, Calif.

Although Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and Curacao each had their individual followings, Sarah Hoetzlein of Pittsburgh said the 11 p.m. departure from Curacao made that her favorite.

“I would love it if they stop later, so you have some night time,” she said. At other ports, she said, the beach excursion “is all you have time to do.”

Several mentioned the entertainment as a highlight, including Diana Jensen of Salt Lake City, who said the production shows were “the best thing on the ship.”

Others mentioned “sharing time with friends” and “there’s always something to do” as highlights and the level of service got high marks, except for the sea day brunches where the staff was “nonattentive” and the line to get in was long at times.

Several mentioned that they would like more food choice in the “tween times” after major meals, when the lido deck buffet is closed and deli sandwiches or pizza are the culinary offerings.

Katie Kivett of Nashville appreciated that Carnival is one of the few lines that allows children under 2 into the babysitting program, but didn’t like that her 15-month-old son was not allowed in the pool.

Other lowlights: motion sickness, the boarding process stalled and no one offered an explanation, there’s not enough to do at night for nondrinkers, some of the food was just “OK.”

Other highlights included the size of the beds, windows, closets and drawer space in the forward-facing cabins on the lido deck, the abundance of high-chair and crib accommodations for infants, the classes, casino and art auctions, and the dune buggy, power snorkel and catamaran excursions in Grand Turk, La Romana and elsewhere.