Big Ship Cruising: Carnival Freedom Live Voyage Report – Day 1

Celebrating Carnival Freedom in Galveston

The futuristic atrium aboard Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Freedom on the evening of February 14, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The futuristic atrium aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom on the evening of February 14, 2015. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The party is just getting started here onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom as she celebrates her arrival in her new homeport of Galveston, Texas. My day, however, began much earlier, as I disembarked from an Eastern Caribbean cruise in Miami, Florida.

After a long day, I arrived at my balcony stateroom aboard Carnival Freedom In Galveston, Texas...Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
After a long day, I arrived at my balcony stateroom aboard Carnival Freedom In Galveston, Texas…Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
...to find a friend waiting to greet me! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
…to find a friend waiting to greet me! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Of course, nothing throws you back into reality after a cruise than the delicate art of flying. It’s an exercise in patience, really. There are lines at check-in, baggage drop and security. Few people smile; fewer are friendly. It’s the complete antithesis of a cruise, which is warm, nurturing and pampering.

Once I’d arrived and cleared security, I made my way to Terminal G at Miami International Airport to wait for my flight to Houston. If you’ve ever been here before, you’ll know Terminal G more closely resembles an ISIS stronghold than an airport. Fraying carpeting, bathrooms missing basic plumbing fixtures, and walls that have been caked with years’ worth of “Institutional White” paint in the same way bark grows on trees.

The reverse of my Category 8C Balcony Stateroom. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The reverse of my Category 8C Balcony Stateroom. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Fast-forward past numerous delays with my flight, a 40-minute wait for my luggage and a nearly two-hour drive from Houston to Galveston. By the time I reached Carnival Freedom at her berth in Galveston, it was past seven in the evening, and I’d missed most of the major events scheduled for today, including the cheque presentation to Operation Homefront and the special Carnival LIVE concert put on by Martina McBride.

Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, left, Operation Homefront CEO Tim Farrell, center, and Carnival Senior Cruise Director John Heald hold a large check facsimile just prior to a Martina McBride Carnival LIVE concert Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, onboard Carnival Freedom while the ship was docked in Galveston, Texas. Carnival not only sponsored the free McBride concert for more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and their family members, but also made a $100,000 donation to Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that supports military families. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy, left, Operation Homefront CEO Tim Farrell, center, and Carnival Senior Cruise Director John Heald hold a large check facsimile just prior to a Martina McBride Carnival LIVE concert Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, onboard Carnival Freedom while the ship was docked in Galveston, Texas. Carnival not only sponsored the free McBride concert for more than 1,000 U.S. military personnel and their family members, but also made a $100,000 donation to Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that supports military families. Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line
Martina McBride performs aboard the Carnival Freedom in Galveston on February 14, 2015. Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line
Martina McBride performs aboard the Carnival Freedom in Galveston on February 14, 2015.
Photo: Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Line

Even though I missed it, I can still tell you about it. For those who may not know, Operation Homefront is an American non-profit organization dedicated to helping the families of American Service members and wounded warriors both financially and otherwise. Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, Operation Homefront doesn’t just provide assistance to Texans; the organization now has 23 locations that serve 43 states across the country.

Here’s a statistic that shocked me: Texas has over 3000 active duty bases including the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. As a Canadian, that number quite escapes me, but I have tremendous respect for the high regard with which U.S. military service members are held by members of the general American public.

Since we missed the days' events, let's take a walk through Carnival Freedom! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Since we missed the days’ events, let’s take a walk through Carnival Freedom! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
I arrived...in time to see the tech crew breaking down the stage on the Pool Deck. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
I arrived…in time to see the tech crew breaking down the stage on the Pool Deck. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

In celebrating their third ship to be home-ported year-round in Galveston, Carnival gave back to the community they plan to base Carnival Freedom in: not only did they invite these U.S. military service members and their family to come onboard for one night gratis, they’ve also presented Operation Homefront with a cheque for $100,000.

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