Sunday, November 28, 2021

Carnival Freedom 11/28/21 Cruise Review

Carnival Freedom Cruise Review

Just the Facts:
Ship:  Carnival Freedom, a Conquest Class ship sailing out of Miami
Sailing:  November 28, 2021 - 6 day cruise
Captain: Mario Imbimbo
Cruise Director: T.J. Partida - FunSquad: James
Ports: Miami, FL - Nassau Bahamas - Princess Cays, Bahamas - Amber Cove, Dominican Republic

I am sailing solo with good cruise friends.  This is my 7th cruise on the Carnival Freedom, my 90th Carnival cruise, and my 167th cruise overall.

Days Zero -- Friday - Saturday --  November 26-27th, 2021 -- Travel
The dear wife and I left the Ranch in Texas on the day following Thanksgiving  to travel to our Villa in Florida.  First stop was the Walgreen’s Pharmacy in Gatesville, Texas to get a Rapid Antigen test for this cruise.  The next 16 hours were spent driving to Pasco County Florida arriving there at 5:45 am on Saturday morning.  Thankfully an uneventful but very long drive.

Day One -- Sunday --  November 28th, 2021 -- Port of Miami  Embarkation
The day began early at the Florida Villa.  I’m sailing with cruise friends and left by 5:00 am to pick them up in St. Petersburg area. Although I have sailed from Miami many times this is the first time I have driven to the port.  It was a nice drive, my first time to drive over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and cross ‘Alligator Alley’.  By 10:00 am we were at Premier Cruise Parking: located on the 7th level of a Downtown Miami Parking Garage.  Soon we were shuttled to the port arriving by 10:30 am.  Security and check-in went smoothly and the ship was boarding guests  by the time we finished the process so we went directly onto the ship.  I dropped my roll-on duffle bag at my cabin on Lido Deck and was eating a Stir-fry from the Mongolian Grill by 11:30 am.  Sweet.  I also had a sample plate of BBQ from the BBQ location above the Lido Marketplace aft.  Time for the easy Muster Drill check-in.  You do it on Deck 4 at the actual life boat locations.   I was station A.   Now it’s time to visit the Red Frog Pub’s Happy Hour.  On Freedom you can order a Fish Bowel size drink without having to purchase the that’s what I did ordering a Jamaican Sunrise.  The FUN begins.  I ordered a second to take back to the cabin for some cabin time and a nap.  I began receiving messages on my phone from the Parking Company…it seems my car was running in the Parking Garage.  I do have a new vehicle less than two weeks old with all types of features including turning off the engine when idling.  I know it wasn’t running when we unloaded, but suspect it may have been in idle mode and not actually turned off.  We were close to 3:30 sail away but I was able to get my KeyFob to a shuttle driver just before we sailed.  Hopefully crisis diverted, we’ll know upon return.  Security escorted me off and back on so that made it easy for me…Thanks Carnival.  My friends and I met at the Alchemy Bar for an aperitif about 6:00 pm.  A nice and large Alchemy, but seemed so slow after experiencing the very busy Breeze and Mardi Gras Alchemy Bars.  We made dinner reservations on the HUB for dining and we had a very nice table in the center of the room.  I ordered the Roasted Tomato Soup, the Sweet & Sour Breaded Shrimp, and two wonderful Broiled Strip Loin Steaks, with a Fruit plate for dessert. It was very good and the steak was surprisingly very tender.  The Freedom Band plays in the lobby area beginning at 8:00 ish so we had perfect timing and great seats to listen to their set.  Good, but not comparable to the Breeze Band.  I retired to the Cabin for needed rest, the Girls were headed to the Piano Bar and explore the ship. My first day impression is Freedom is a step-back in time…Examples: they still print out the photos, RFP fish bowls, the Muster Drill outside, old style Mongolian Grill (that I love!), and more.  Basically the same as when I first sailed the inaugural Freedom Cruise many years ago.  It was a very different embarkation day on the Carnival Breeze.

Day Two -- Monday --  November 29th, 2021 -- Nassau, Bahamas 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well…we were docked at the Nassau pier by the time I was awake. I met the girls at Blue Iguana for breakfast. They still have the Huevos Rancheros sign so another ‘throwback’. I had my usual Breakfast Taco, Arepas, Salsas, and Watermelon. The Carnival Magic is docked next to us and I look forward to sailing on her in two weeks. There are six ships docked in total. The Girls are going to Atlantis today and I’m staying closer to the ship. I do have a balcony cabin this cruise so I enjoyed the early morning breeze and nice weather while doing some work online. About 10:30 I decided to go ashore just to get some exercise by walking. We are the closest ship to shore and we are sailing at 50% capacity (if that) so it was easy to debark and get into downtown Nassau. I was able to complete an important business call so was free to explore the rest of the day. Some businesses remain closed but most are open. Some restaurants ask for proof of vaccination. The new Straw Market looks good as do several public parks…they do seem to be improving the area. I walked to the just-opened Margaritaville Resort located just beyond the old British Colonial Hotel. (photo above) It’s very nice, I saw the Fins Up Water Park, Changes in Latitude Bar, Gift shop, and more. Since I walked this far I decided to walk the length of Junkanoo Beach to Fish Fry. I stopped at Goldie’s Conch House my favorite place for seafood in Nassau. I had the Red Snapper fried fish plate…it was great. The Kalik Superior beers were very good too. I was back on the ship by 2:30. One of the girls had a minor accident and they returned early. After a short nap, I did have dinner with them in the Lido Marketplace about 6:30 pm. Tonight I had a Mixed Salad, the Sea Bass entree and Chicken entree, a stuffed Potato, and the Mushroom Bisque Soup. For dessert a warm Apple Cobbler and a small piece of Coconut Pie. A very good meal. I did a short walk about the ship…lots of activities but just mot many guests out and about. I retired early, I’m still recovering from the long drive, It was a very nice day in Nassau.  

Day Three -- Tuesday -- November 30th, 2021 -- Princess Cay. Bahamas

Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. We arrived at Princess Cay very early and the tendering ashore began very early. My friends and I are staying on the ship today, I’m no longer a beach nor beach games person…most guests went, but many stayed on the Freedom. I joined my friends for breakfast in the Lido Marketplace and of the few passengers on board, they were all there. I had an omelet and potatoes, bacon, grapefruit, and sweet bread. We spent most of the day in the Lobby playing various games of Trivia. The three of us are a good team with a mixture of knowledge, we were in the running on most games and won several. James on the entertainment staff (FUN Crew) did a great job. He was personable and made it FUN. We broke for lunch at Guy’s Burgers about 3:30 pm, My first Guy’s in several cruises and since they don’t always have plain meat patties prepared they grilled mine fresh and I was able to get them to add onions while on the hot grill…getting closer and closer to a proper Oklahoma Onion Fried Hamburger. The burgers were very good!! It was back to the Lobby for a final Trivia game on Music where we medaled in the music game. Only slight help from me on that one…the girls were very good. I enjoyed a very beautiful sunset from the balcony. It was very enjoyable watching the sunset over the water and the interesting cloud formations. Cabin time until dinner in the Chic restaurant. The Maitre’D was very accommodating with our table request. The Girls had Cesar Salad, Shrimp Cocktail, and Bitter & Blanc, I had just a single entree they prepared for me combining the Linguini and Meatball appetizer. They did it in the kitchen so it was served ‘hot’ and excellent. Thank you, Chef & Waiter. I went to the casino for my Diamond $25 free play, they asked if I wanted table games (Chips) or Slots (on Card)…I asked ‘What about Cash?’… they said sure…perhaps not as Fun, but still $25 ahead. Super! I listened to the excellent String Trio, Stellaria tonight. (photo left) I enjoyed their Hotel California tune. I retired by 10:00 pm, the girls did some shopping, and perhaps Comedy Club. It was very nice. It was a FUN day onboard the Carnival Freedom. I woke in the night to the sound of waves and the sea, I had accidentally left my balcony door ajar. It was very nice!

Day Five -- Wednesday --  November 17th, 2021 -- Fun Day at Sea

Rolling seas overnight and I slept very well. I was up very early and enjoyed the sounds of the sea from my very comfortable bed as the sun rose early this morning. Also, an occasional Christmas song comes on the system since it’s December…I leave my ship's TV on the Map Chanel with music. A cabin on the Lido deck is very convenient to the Lido Marketplace so I ordered a nice omelet from the omelet station (no line) and took it to the Blue Iguana for various Salsas. It was great. The weather is very nice and I watched guests arrive on deck and claim their lounge chairs for the day. I had Cabin Time until the Diamond Luncheon held in the deck 4 areas of the Posh Dining Room. The Captain went from table to table to say hello. He knew all about my friends' accident, surprised her and me. We met a nice Diamond couple who have been sitting near us in the Chic dining room and decorating their booth each night with a Christmas theme. The Diamond Luncheon menu was the same as always, today I ordered the Fresh Tomato & Greens salad, the Premium Strip Steak, and the Tres Leches for dessert. All very good. The Carnival Cosmopolitan cocktails were nice too. The Alchemy Bar opened at 2:00 pm and we spent some quality time there with Alaiksandr. He prepared a very nice absinthe cocktail that I found to be unique and enjoyable. Met new Alchemy friends we met up with later in the Red Frog Bar for a Corn-hole Tournament. We made the semi-finals, but fell short in the finals…FUN though. We had dinner in the Chic MDR again tonight. I ordered the Baked Onion Soup Lasagna Bolognese, the Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Breast, and the Praline Cake for dessert. It was very good. We said hello to the friends we made today, both the Diamond’s and Alchemy/RedFrog family that was seated next to us…small world today. After dinner, I considered retiring but went to the Victoriana Theater for the production show 80’s to the Max (photo above). It was a very good show and I was very glad I went. After the show, I stayed in the lobby to see the final set of the Freedom Rock Band. It was a long, FUN, and busy day on the Carnival Freedom.

Day Five -- Thursday -- December 2nd, 2021 -- Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic

Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I didn’t even wake in the night and worked on my laptop as usual. We were entering Amber Cove when I woke and I was able to watch the Carnival Magic sail in and dock next to us. Taking it easy this morning and met the Girls for breakfast in the Posh dining room. We had a nice table located aft with a view. I took the opportunity to have my Lumberjack breakfast: Three fried eggs over easy, Toast, Bacon, Ham, Hash Browns, and Pancakes. Also Grapefruit, Tomato Juice, and Milk. A very nice hearty breakfast/brunch. I did a quick walk-around Amber Cove, I needed that after the nice breakfast. Trivia began at 1:00 pm in the Lobby with James and our team cleaned up in every game we played. Sweet. The Red Frog Pub had Happy Hour today @ 1:30 pm so time for a Fish Bowl of Jamaican Breeze. Helps one think during trivia. Some clever items and games today. We went to the Deli for lunch, between us we covered the sandwich bases: Rubens, BLT, and Buffalo Chicken, I really enjoyed Sail-away from my balcony this was about 4:00 pm and the weather was perfect and the seas so blue (photo).  It was nap and cabin time the rest of the late afternoon/early evening for me. We had dinner a little later this evening, it’s nice to have Anytime Dining IMHO. Tonight I ordered the Stuffed Mushrooms, Green Wedge Salad, and the Filet Mignon entree with Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert. A nice meal. The Girls went to the Casino this evening, I retired early as I had some work to do including checking in for my MSC cruise in two days. It was a FUN day in Amber Cove and on the Carnival Freedom.

Day Six — Friday --  December 3rd, 2021 -- Fun Day at Sea

Some rolling seas as we sailed just north of Cuba overnight and I slept well. Busy scheduling Covid test for Carnival Magic cruise and finalizing check-in for MSC Meraviglia this morning on our final day on the Freedom. Lovely weather today for all the outer deck activities today too.  I did the sea Day Brunch in the Posh MDR this morning with the girls. I ordered the Steak & Eggs with potatoes, bacon, & ham. Also, a French Toast to share. Another day for Trivia in the Lobby area, not as lucky today. Went on a walkabout on various decks looking for the Ship Coin and visiting the beautiful Steak House. The Steak house is so much larger and nicer than on the newer ships. I had a small Guy’s Burger before attending the Diamond/Platinum Party in the Theater at 4:00 pm. Similar to the same party on various ships…I do like the later start time. There are 51 Diamonds, 220 Platinums, and almost 1600 total guests. So we are sailing at 50% capacity or less. I was closer to the highest cruise day guest total than I’ve ever been sailing from Florida. No hors d’oeuvres nor Tito’s Table, but if you took the pre-fixed drinks you could have several. The Captain and Staff were introduced (photo) and some entertainment. I met the girls and other friends at Alchemy and we had dinner at the Seafood Shack. It used to be a tradition for me to eat there on last night and for the girls, they can pack and be casual. It was very good food and the weather was perfect for dining alfresco. We went to the Punchliner Comedy Club for our only comedy show of the cruise…it was meh but in fairness to the comedian a scheduled PG13 show. It’s been interesting to see guests that are ‘groupies’ of particular events or activities in Florida since there are many repeat cruisers. Many just follow the Comedians, some it is Trivia all day, of course, the loyal Piano Barbarians, the outdoor Sun Lounge Lizards, and more… It’s not just Casino addicts sailing. I retired early to do some packing preparation. It was a nice final Sea Day on the Carnival Freedom.

Debarkation — Saturday --  December 4th, 2021 -- Port of Miami
Smooth seas overnight. I woke early and had plenty of time to update this blog and finish packing.  Diamond meet time is 7:15 am in the Chic MDR on deck 3.  Some delay but we debarked about 8:15 am and went through the face-recognition procedure and was on the street waiting for the shuttle to the Parking Garage.  They came by quickly and we were soon at the parking garage, I got my keys from the supervisor at the garage and we were on our way north from Miami.  I had the girls safely in St. Petersburg by 2:30 pm and I was at the Villa in Pasco County by 3:30 pm.  A rather smooth debark and travel day.

Personal HIGHLIGHTS of the Cruises
Traveling with Friends and making New Friends
Nassau Port Day (never thought would make this list)
Trivia with Friends and James
Alchemy Bar
Diamond Luncheon
Red Frog Pub Happy Hours
Mongolian Wok, the Deli, and Guy's Burgers


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