Tuesday, January 22, 2008

At sea (Caribbean) with the Carnival Freedom

Today is a sea day on the Carnival Freedom en route from Cozumel to Grand Cayman, which we’ll reach early tomorrow morning. I’m glad to say the sun is back and the multitudes have returned to the Lido Deck around the pool to catch some rays. Above the pool is a gigantic LED screen – 12 feet high by 22 feet wide – that is the centerpiece of Carnival’s Seaside Theatre, which shows movies, sporting events, concerts, and Morning Shows hosted by the ship’s congenial cruise director, John Heald.

John is getting only four hours of sleep per night this week as he doubles as cruise director and host of the first-annual John Heald’s bloggers cruise. Aboard are some 700 fans of his highly popular blog about life on a cruise ship, which you can read at www.johnhealdsblog.com.

The Freedom, which had its inaugural cruise last March, holds just fewer than 3,000 passengers and contains 22 bars and lounges, most of which appear to be hopping at all hours. I’ve been impressed with the food service, including the Fish and Chips Restaurant in an out-of-the-way nook, where I had my second lunch of the day: fried calamari fritters (also featuring shredded zucchini and Maui onions) with chips. I wasn’t hungry after downing a buffet lunch an hour or so earlier, but just couldn’t pass it up – yum. The Freedom also has a tandoori oven for Indian food, a sushi bar, 24-hour pizzeria, a Tex-Mex bar with enchiladas, afternoon teatime with classical music – everything an omnivore could ask for.

Over the course of each week-long cruise, the Freedom will serve up more than 3,000 pounds of prime rib, 6,480 pounds of chicken, 2,150 pounds of lobster, and 23,750 shrimp – of which I’ve had maybe, oh, 10,000. That’s because I’ve laid off the hot dogs (5,600 per week) and burgers (7,350 per week). We won’t discuss the total amount of alcohol consumed.

Carnival has set up hand sanitizers throughout the ship to try to head off mass virus attacks of the kind that have plagued so many ships in recent years, and I commend the cruise line for taking proactive steps to prevent sickness from spreading. Cabin TVs and the cruise director have also spread the gospel of hand washing, which has joined knowing how to put on a lifejacket as essential survival info on modern cruise ships.

One mystery: with so many young children on board, why aren’t they in school? (Is this what they call “ski week?”) Oddly, I haven’t heard even one of them complaining about missing class…or not going skiing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wish I was still there, just got off the freedom on Sat. before. Hope your having a blast!