Fresh Look: The Carnival Of Today


I was afraid that my experience aboard Carnival Freedom and the Carnival of today would end like the old Toby Keith song You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin’.  I worried that much of the sailing experience I had previously associated with Carnival Cruise Line was judged against a marinated base line. I recall a number of places, people and events in my lifetime that looked really good after the effects of an alcoholic beverage or six. I’m happy to say that this was not the case on board Carnival Freedom and the Carnival of today.

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What made my experience was not the excellent shows, fine food or other hearty fun-loving Texas passengers. Center stage in my experience: smoking hot Internet connection that is truly as fast as a hotel on land. A bargain at $99 for the week, unlimited use, 24/7, this ultra fast system has passengers Skyping with friends back home, it’s that fast. To me, much of my life of the past on board a big ship cruise was spent uploading photos. I would skip dinner, knowing that’s the time when the fewest other passengers or crewmembers were on line. They were all eating or working. I have been known to get up at 2AM to work on photos when others are asleep. I’ll remember those skills for sailing other ships that do not have the high-speed system of Carnival Freedom (or Carnival Breeze and Sunshine too).

In a way, I have easily become drunk with connectivity. This is the way all cruise ships should be. I know now that it can be done, seen it in use and am hopelessly addicted.  While I may not have enjoyed the usual alcohol-induced love of all things cruising, it was nice to have this new addiction.  (<–it is not often that we are happy about new addictions)

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People, I had all but forgotten about on big ship cruises. Crewmembers, in general, on a number of big ship cruise lines (including Carnival)  all just seemed to have far too much to do for small talk or even a smile. I had become complacent, dubbing ‘helpful and pleasant” as a thing of the past. A trade-off for ultra low pricing.

It was not until a couple days into our Carnival Freedom sailing that I realized all the crew was, believe it or not, friendly. Not in a “its my job to pretend to care” way but real. Interesting on this topic: The ship’s $5 a day unlimited social media package brings Facebook, Instagram and other online friends along for the ride. It’s as though you are at home, the connectivity is just that good. Sending photos? A snap. Maybe it’s a give and take situation, this topic of happy crewmembers. With ultra high Internet speed I know the attitude coming from my direction sure was positive.

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Places in the Caribbean had lost their luster long ago. Visit Cozumel a dozen times and the merchants start to leave you alone. Apparently they remember that I don’t buy anything and just nod ‘hey’ now.   Different for me on this sailing, I had time to hang around at the ports and take a closer look at what they had to offer.

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With limited time in port, a quality day can be had (and probably should be) just walking off the ship, shopping a bit then spending the rest of the day at a pierside restaurant or bar. They commonly have free WiFi- something I did not care at all about in Progesso, Mexico; I was still able to use the snappy ship signal. It is just that strong.

Ship-wide, same fast connection. I have been on ships where it is helpful to leave the metal cabin door open for a better Internet experience or go sit on top of the wireless router that strains to make things happen in cyberspace. I have also sat in the hallway to catch the best signal too.  Most are that bad.

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Events on our Carnival Freedom sailing contained the standard big ship fare: the obnoxiously amusing hairy chest contest, lots of bingo, photographers everywhere to capture passenger images; the usual fare. If that’s the base line, it’s a very small part of a much broader base experience, energized by an engaging entertainment department. We won’t find the Vegas style reviews on this ship, given way to watch-worthy shows, comedians, and otherwise actually entertaining content. As Carnival’s Director of Entertainment put it “Remember when you went to a comedy show and thought ‘I think even I am funnier than this guy’. The George Lopez-curated comics are hilarious…which is about like saying the food is ‘delicious’, a recommendation normally taken with a grain of salt and a “We’ll see” sort of attitude.

Also a plus, with the ultra-fast connection and a ton of bandwidth, I could watch streaming content like news and increase in-cabin entertainment ten fold. What I can do online at home, I can do online on Carnival Freedom.

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But The Big Story Is…
The big story: Carnival Cruise Line is in the game all the way on connectivity and engaging social interaction. This is not some cosmetic line item to check off that an effort to be social, as other travel companies do. This is the real deal, enabled by super-fast connectivity. What better advertisement than to come on board a Carnival ship, be greeted by pleasant people in every direction, have a good time, and keep the folks back home caught up on the adventure, the same way they know you’re going to the grocery store with land-like speed. That’s huge…but typically: the Carnival of today.

I’ll be back with more on this topic, live from the mountaintop from which I plan on zealously promoting Carnival Cruise Line as THE one cruise line that ‘gets it’ about connectivity. I like that Carnival offers it throughout their ships on Carnival Freedom, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Breeze. I think that’s the way the world should be.

Coming up next: Unique Features Of Carnival Today

 

Chris is not a paid spokesperson or brand ambassador.   Not compensated by cruise lines, what you read here are his observations, thoughts and interpretations, biased only by a positive outlook and appreciation for what cruise vacations have to offer travelers.