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August 27, 2016 - I would like to take you back nine years. It was in April of 2007 that I met up with Carnival Cruise Lines' brand new "Fun Ship" Carnival Freedom. She made quite an impression on me with her dazzling interiors and her friendly crew. Over the past nine years, the ship got older (don't we all) but also arguably better. New features were introduced like the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, Guy's Burger Joint, Red Frog Rum Bar and Alchemy Bar, plus new forward facing suites on Lido Deck. This review was written just days after Carnival Freedom's launch when no one had come up with the idea of a Blue Iguana Tequila Bar. Still, as our 100 remastered interior photos show, Carnival Freedom was as impressive then as she is now.
April 8, 2007 - For those of you that have secretly fantasized about time travel, Carnival Cruise Lines now offers a convenient way to make your dreams come true. On their latest 110,000 ton 'Fun Ship' Carnival Freedom,
17th century France is only a few steps away from
Hemingway's Havana and the hanging gardens of Babylon. And
though the overpowering extravaganza of forms and colors
might look completely mismatched at first, odds are you will
feel completely at home before you can say 'Fun'!
was built by Fincantieri's Maghera yard located at a
stone's thrown from Venice, so it came as no surprise that
Carnival chose the Italian city as the backdrop for
Carnival Freedom's naming ceremony. At 8.00 PM on
March 4, 2007, former super model Kathy Ireland let the
bottle crash on the giant ship's hull. Carnival Freedom
spent her first summer in European waters,
showing that the quintessentially American brand had a keen interest in the Old World.
Pulsating heart of Carnival
Freedom is the awe-inspiring Millennium Atrium, serving as town square, shopping
mall and cocktail bar. During the day, light streams in through the glass
ceiling. At night, the lighting changes from purple to green to red to
blue... Yes, it takes some getting used to, but once you've regained your senses, you will have to
admit that designer Joe Farcus did a splendid job here.
Despite the 'plastic fantastic' look, this is a natural
meeting place. On the lowest level, you will find the
Reception & Shore Excursion desks and the attractive Millennium Bar,
where entertainment is offered at night against the
backdrop of the four glass elevators.
The 1,400 seat Victoriana Lounge, located all the way forward on decks 3-5, is huge.
Carnival is known for staging some very well produced, high-paced production
shows and this is the place you will be able to see them. That is, if you arrive
early enough to secure a seat in the middle section of the lower level. The
balcony is U-shaped and with some pillars blocking the view, sightlines from the balcony are not as
good as you would expect. While sound and light systems are great, the passenger
flow is rather poor, giving the room an overcrowded and rather claustrophobic
feel when filled to capacity. As for the design: don't forget to take a close look at the table tops - they come
with Victorian paintings!
The two main dining rooms on
Carnival Freedom are named 'Posh' and 'Chic', making them sound like a
tribute to the Spice Girls. While the 'Chic' is located
amidships on decks 3 & 4 and only has windows on the lower level, the 'Posh' is
located all the way aft on the same decks and gives a much brighter impression.
The decor of 'The Posh' and 'The
Chic' is remarkably similar - perhaps a bit more elegant than the dining rooms
on other Carnival ships. As we have come to expect, the backlit
ornaments on walls and ceiling change color every minute or so. Fun!
Judging by its size and location, the Babylon Casino must be one of the main revenue
earners on Carnival Freedom. Conveniently sandwiched between the Millennium
Atrium, the popular 24-hour Centuries Bar, the busy Promenade and the Players
Bar, the design team has made sure that you will not be able to miss the ship's
with its many table games and slot machines. The space itself is done in a
semi-ancient theme - not unattractive if I might say. If you need an escape from the never ending bustle of the casino, head next door to the inviting Players Bar.
This sports bar looks fairly conventional until you see
the oversized football stools. Leave it to Carnival to make
you sit on a sports utility!
The sheer genius of interior architect Joe Farcus is best seen in the Habana Bar on
deck 4. This windowless room with its Hemingway looks and beautiful dance floor
makes you forget all about being on the high seas. Discover the many charming references to
Cuban cigars! Overstuffed leather chairs and more casual looking whicker
furniture are offset by brightly painted full length
shutters. The result is a room with a distinct tropical
feel that works very well. For a complete change of pace,
there is the Dynasty conference room down the hall. Or the
faux fire place of the classically designed Drawing Room
near the Chic Restaurant.
Viva Las Vegas! Carnival
Freedom's long granite and marble walkway stretches all the way from the
Millennium Atrium to the aft stair tower, connecting a wide spectrum of public
rooms that, conveniently, also happen to be bring in a little extra cash for
Carnival Cruise Lines. From casino and disco to coffee bar and sushi place, look no further! The
double-width Centuries Promenade caters to guests of all ages.
First, you will find the inviting 24-hour Centuries Bar
smack in the middle of the Promenade. Then, there is the
charming Viennese Café coffee bar and the rustic looking Meiji Sushi
Bar. The kids will love Club O2, with its own dance floor,
soda bar and amusement arcade.
No Carnival ship would be
complete without a wild adult disco lining the indoor Promenade. After the odd
tattoo look of Carnival Liberty's disco, Carnival Freedom takes us
back thirty years to the seventies.
With its rows of TV monitors and huge dance floor, the 70s Disco could well win
a prize for best disco afloat. It's a winner and the crowds on the dance floor prove that. As time
traveling is encouraged on Carnival Freedom, you might want to head next door to regain your senses underneath a fin du
siecle stained glass ceiling at the attractive Bar
Nouveau. Overlooking the full length of the Centuries
Promenade, this is an excellent place to see and be seen,
day or night.
One of the happiest places on
board Carnival Freedom is Scott's piano bar. Located aft of the
Centuries Promenade on the starboard side, this upbeat sing-along bar is done in
a 1910s décor, with blue pianos lining the walls and ceiling. Strings of neon
lights connect the pianos, making it almost impossible to keep your attention to
the piano player. Still, the atmosphere at Scott's is unique and it is packed most nights. In complete
contrast, the rather bland International Lounge serves as Carnival Freedom's
secondary show lounge, offering entertainment nightly. With its chrome and
leather chairs and glass tables, this large room definitely lacks some
If you've had
enough of piano bars, 70s discos, casinos and show lounges, you can retreat to
any of Carnival Freedom's 1,500 staterooms. Of these, 61% are outside and
37% have private teak wooden balconies. Carnival has come a long way since the
rather spartan look of the cabins on their Fantasy series and you will find that the
staterooms on Carnival Freedom are extremely
well-equipped. My balcony stateroom on deck 8, featured a
narrow verandah with two chairs and a good sized bathroom
with power shower. With mini bars, LCD TV's and very
comfortable beds, all I'd ask for is better sound
insulation between cabins and corridors.
No fun ship would be complete
without a giant sun deck that is perfect for sunning, swimming, dancing,
watching and drinking. Ingeniously designed as an amphitheater crowned by a giant
LED screen showing movies and music clips, the Timeless Pool is one of two
swimming pools on the ship. Oddly, this pool is in the shade
most of the day and is way too small for a ship carrying
up 3,800 guests. But with a huge watering hole (a.k.a. bar)
on the lowest level, very beautiful teak decks, a giant
water slide, wading pool and some hot tubs thrown in for
good measure, the Timeless Pool will surely be the place
to be on any of Carnival Freedom's sea days.
Perched in between the two pool
areas, the enormous Freedom Restaurant caters to guests looking for a casual
breakfast or lunch. The design of the room is such that the sheer size of the
restaurant is broken up in several smaller areas, each with its own buffet and
beverage stations. Most eyecatching is the two-deck high section
that features a replica of the Statue of Liberty.
Lady Liberty is everywhere in this restaurant, mostly
backlit and light blue... Still, the result is quite
pleasing and during our pre-inaugural overnight the room
worked well even on the busiest of times. Food offerings
were surprisingly good, ranging from superb salads, hot
entrees to ultra-casual fish & chips.
More quiet and arguably nicer
than its amidships counterpart is the Endless Pool deck, located aft on deck 9.
Done in a purple and burgundy color scheme with matching rubber flooring and a
sliding glass roof, the Endless Pool is surrounded by tables
and chairs that are perfect for an alfresco meal. The free
standing bar and the pizzeria are open almost around the
clock, making the Endless Pool area an unofficial late
night spot and very popular as the final stop after a
night of club hopping. During the day, the place can get
quite crowded but there is more space in the sun on the
upper level overlooking the pool and its two hot tubs.
For guests looking for a more
exclusive dining experience, Carnival offers a reservations-only a la carte
restaurant on deck 10. Named after the French king Louis XIV, the Sun King
Restaurant has 108 seats and comes complete with kitschy gilded statues,
oversized faux Renaissance murals and a large crystal chandelier.
Kids will have a fantastic time
on Carnival Freedom. Forward on deck 12 is Camp Carnival, heaven on earth (or
sea) for youngsters. Complete with large playground, outdoor wading pool and
Water Wars, a new game that will no doubt become a very popular with kids and
their parents alike. Their parents will also like Spa
Carnival, the cavernous health spa and fitness center one
deck down. Strangely, the gym and hot tub can only be
accessed through change rooms and saunas.
We started this tour of Carnival Freedom in the
Millennium Lobby on deck 3
and conclude it high up at the base of the red, white and blue winged funnel.
Carnival ships are known for their large expanses of teak sun decks and Carnival
Freedom is no different. One thing is different though: a miniature golf course
was added on the top deck. While Carnival Freedom's
layout is similar to that of her Conquest-class sisters,
she does sport a unique look. Compared to Carnival
Liberty, this ship looks darker and a little more
garish. Still, the design team has once again managed to
create a stunning new Fun Ship. Wishing you Smooth Seas and lots of fun Carnival Freedom!
Please note this article was written and photographed in 2007. Amenities and services mentioned in the article might have changed since.
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