The Carnival Freedom – the 22nd vessel in the cruise line’s fleet and the fifth and final incarnation of the highly successful Conquest class – was built as part of a four-ship deal with Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard and inaugurated in Venice in March 2007.
Principally intended to sail the Mediterranean, the 110,000t Panama-registered Freedom is 952ft (290m) long and 116ft (35.5m) wide. It has a 1,150-strong crew, 1,487 cabins and can carry 2,974 passengers at a cruising speed of 21k. Just over 60% of the staterooms offer a sea view and of these, around 60% have balconies.
The Carnival Freedom shares the same basic architecture as all of the lines’ new-build constructions since the Destiny entered service in 1996. Based around a conventional sandwich design, decks 3 to 5 house most of the public rooms, surrounded by passenger accommodation up to deck 9. Spa, fitness and casual dining areas are also to be found above these decks.
There are four restaurants onboard. Chic and Posh Dining Rooms are situated mid-ship and aft, respectively, while the two-story Freedom Restaurant, located on the lido deck (deck 9), offers buffet breakfasts and lunches as well as casual dining.
The Sun King Supper Club – named after the eponymous Louis XIV – provides the Freedom’s fourth dining venue. In addition to the usual lunchtime buffet choices, it offers a deli and Japanese, Chinese and Thai food, along with a grill and a 24-hour pizzeria.
Keep-fit enthusiasts are amply catered for with onboard spa and gym facilities including steam rooms, saunas, beauty salon treatments, aerobics rooms with state-of-the-art equipment and the option of specialised classes and personal training.
Amidships, forward and around the ship’s funnel, lie a jogging track, miniature golf course and a volleyball court. In addition, the ship has a total of four outdoor pools and five whirlpools.
Less active pursuits are also met with twenty-two bars, an internet café (Wi-Fi is also available throughout the ship at the same rate) and a range of musical entertainment in the lounges.
In addition, the Babylon Casino offers passengers a variety of slot-machines and table games – including a fast-and-furious electronic version of ‘Texas Hold’Em’ poker. There is also the Carnival Seaside Theatre – a12ft (3.6m) by 22ft (6.6m) screen on the lido deck showing movies, sporting events, concerts and a number of other programmes.
The cabins themselves are universally spacious – the minimum size of standard staterooms being around 195ft² (17.7m²) – finished in what has become the line’s fairly consistent burnt orange and cream colour scheme.
Television with satellite channels, movies and ship infomercials is standard. Each stateroom has a well-stocked mini-fridge, containing a variety of soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and snacks.
At 350ft² (32m²), suites are slightly under double the size of standard cabins and come with the additional amenities of baths rather than showers. As a family friendly vessel, the Freedom has a total of 18 family staterooms located on the spa deck (deck 11) – one deck below the children’s pool area – with features expressly included to ensure the safety of younger passengers.
The Carnival Freedom spent its first eight months in Europe sailing a series of 12-night cruises – during which time it made the line’s first visits to Greece and Turkey – before heading to the Caribbean and sailing out of Miami.
The ship returned to European waters in the second quarter of 2008 to travel two itineraries from her home port in Civitavecchia near Rome. The ‘Grand Mediterranean’ cruise included stops at Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice, Messina, Barcelona, Cannes and Livorno, while Naples, Marmaris, Izmir, Istanbul, Athens, Katakolon and Livorno featured on the ‘Mediterranean and Greek Isles’ itinerary.
In the third quarter of 2008, Freedom once again sailed the Caribbean, but this time from Fort Lauderdale. In November 2008, her year-round schedule of six and eight-day Caribbean cruises from Fort Lauderdale began.