Cozumel Briefly; Freed By Carnival Freedom
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The strange weather that has followed Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom throughout our Western Caribbean itinerary from Galveston shows no signs of letting up. Last night, guests were advised that our arrival and departure time for our port of call in Cozumel, Mexico today would be changing.
Rather than arriving at 8:00 a.m. and staying until 4:00 p.m., we would now be arriving at 7:00 a.m. and departing at 3:00 p.m. in order to avoid an expected storm front with high winds later this afternoon. Fortunately, none of the 55 different shore excursions scheduled for today were cancelled, though a few had to be modified ever so slightly to reflect the ship’s earlier departure time.
I’ve been to Cozumel once before, in January of 2009. And it’s an okay little town; if anything, it suffers from a bad case of Touristas: the place is just jam-packed with cruise ship visitors and resort guests. Even today, we’re joined by Carnival Liberty, Carnival Elation, Vision of the Seas, and another Carnival Fantasy-class ship that is too far away to see.
I disembarked Carnival Freedom around ten this morning with every intention of taking a taxi into town…and after taking some photos of the ship, I went back onboard.
The port area was like running the gauntlet; nothing but duty-free beers, cologne, liquor, cigarettes and pills, and thousands of people clambering all over themselves to get to it.
Yet, at the end of the pier is the Carnival Freedom looking all resplendent in the Caribbean sun. Resplendent, and very deserted.
If you’ve never tried staying onboard during a port of call, it’s worth giving it a whirl. Maybe 100 people stayed onboard, and I found it relaxing and just what the doctor ordered.
Now, obviously don’t stay onboard if you’ve never been to the port before, or if you’re docked somewhere jaw-dropping like Venice. Otherwise…it’s a great day to hit the spa!
Since I’m back onboard, this is a great time to talk a little more about the real star of this cruise: the Carnival Freedom. I realize I’ve barely covered my stateroom, so let’s have a peek there first!
My stateroom is a Category 8C Balcony Stateroom located on a Deck 7. By and large, all the balcony staterooms aboard Carnival Freedom are identical; sub-categories are differentiated only by their physical location on the ship.
These rooms feature a queen-sized bed that can be split into two twins if required, along with a large couch sitting area, a table, a vanity that doubles as a desk, three closets, a mini-bar, flat-panel television, a bathroom and of course a private balcony.
The room is comfortable and well-designed, though I will admit to not being a fan of the pink accents that surround the lighting, or the sorbet-coloured couch.
Just when you do become acclimated to the South Beach Pink, you open the bathroom door and Bam! You’re in a sea of teals and greens.
Despite the wildly-contrasting colours, the bathroom is also well designed, with plenty of shelving (arranged in a ‘his-and-hers’ style) for toiletries. Yes, the shower has the dreaded curtain, but the shower itself is of a decent size. No curtain problems to report!
If there is a drawback to the room, it’s that power outlets are few and far between. In fact, just a single North American and European outlets are available, located by the desk. Even though Carnival Freedom was built in 2007, it’s a bit slim even for that time period.
But, like Holland America, the beds on Carnival are some of the best out there: cozy and comfortable. Great pillows, too, even across all categories.
I also realized today how much I genuinely like Carnival. Sure, they’re no luxury line, but I am consistently surprised by their product. You see, like many people, I had avoided Carnival for a long time. I’d heard the party-hard horror stories. I saw the bizarre interior design. And I felt it wasn’t for me.
My perceptions started chipping away in 2011, when I toured the Carnival Splendor in Long Beach. I found a ship that was really well designed and surprisingly welcoming. Four years later, I set out on Carnival Breeze and had an amazing time.
Now, on Carnival cruise number two, I’ve found that my overall experience was no fluke: Carnival just does a really got mainstream cruise.
Five things that have consistently surprised me about the line:
From the main ding room to the buffet, Carnival’s culinary offerings are of a much higher quality than is expect. Their menus aren’t particularly adventurous, but the ingredients are quality. Bonus points for the fish, which has been excellent all week. That there is no charge for Guy’s Burger Joint or the BlueIguana Cantina is just astonishing.
The kids will love Seuss-at-Sea, and Mom and Dad will laugh themselves hoarse at the Punchliner Comedy Club, which I am convinced offers the best adult and family-friendly comedy shows at sea. A bevvy if production shows and big screen movies on deck round out the mix.
I never expected Carnival to have much live music, but they do. On this trip, I also learned they tailor it to fit their audience. Since we’re sailing out of Texas, expect plenty of Country and Western music. Here’s the catch: it’s actually good!
Nearly all the crew onboard Carnival’s ships will address you by name after just one or two encounters. Even the girl that works the Viennese Cafe knows not only my name, but my morning drink. So I walk up to the bar and say good morning, and she prepares me fresh, tall latte. Some lines talk about service; Carnival delivers.
Can you escape the Fun Ship Madness? You betcha. For the ultimate escape, head up to Serenity, Carnival’s adults-only haven out on Decks 11 and 12.
Tonight, it seems more like we’re taking the Carnival Freedom across the Atlantic. The weather outside is cold and stormy, and we’re plowing through swells as we speak. They’re not huge by worldwide standards, but they sure are uncharacteristic for the normally-sedate Caribbean.
And yet, the fun continues here onboard the Carnival Freedom – a true Fun Ship, no matter what the weather!
Our full journey:
Carnival Freedom, Western Caribbean
|February 14, 2015||Galveston, Texas||Embark Carnival Freedom in Galveston; pre-cruise event for Operation Homefront.||Overnight in Galveston|
|February 15||Galveston, Texas||Overnight||4:00 PM|
|February 16||Fun Day At Sea|
|February 17||Costa Maya, Mexico||1:00 PM||8:00 PM|
|February 18||Cozumel, Mexico||8:00 AM||4:00 PM|
|February 19||Progresso, Yucatan, Mexico||9:00 AM||5:00 PM|
|February 20||Fun Day At Sea|
|February 21||Galveston, Texas||8:00 AM||Disembarkation|