By Becky J. Beall
Seven years ago I was privileged to sail on the inaugural Carnival Freedom cruise to the Caribbean. I remember thinking it was so massive and full of extravagant at-sea activities. By today’s standards, it is not the largest ship on the water, but thanks to an extreme makeover and two weeks in dry dock, it is once again among the elite cruise ships sporting innovative technology, fabulous repurposed spaces and kids programs second to none!
Two weeks seems like a tiny bit of time. In fact, I can hardly paint a bathroom in that amount of time. But, non-stop, round-the-clock teams can transform a mega cruise liner in that time frame and leave vacationers speechless. This spring Carnival added its Fun Ship 2.0 Initiative to the Freedom including lots of bars, eateries and entertainment, but the most exciting addition is the Seuss at Sea Program!
Seuss at Sea…
Carnival’s partnership with Seuss Enterprises created the new Seuss at Sea program for families, a masterpiece in family entertainment. Carnival Freedom is the first ship to feature Bookville, a dedicated Seuss-themed play space featuring iconic décor, colors, shapes and funky furniture inspired by the whimsical world of Dr. Seuss. Bookville is the perfect place for families to relax and read beloved Dr. Seuss books or enjoy family-fun activities such as arts and crafts, toys and Dr. Seuss-inspired games.
Bookville is located at the entrance to Camp Ocean, another renovated area on board. Formerly known as Camp Carnival, the unique kid’s club is redesigned with areas that are age-specific and appropriately named penguins, stingrays and sharks! The kid’s love it! From dance floors to space for arts and crafts and even video games, Camp Ocean is created for fun and exciting times at sea.
Seuss-a-palooza Character Parade and Story Time is an awesome opportunity for families to don parade props and noise makers, and march along the ship’s promenade chanting “Dr. Seuss is on the loose!” Oh, and did I mention that Cat and the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and Sam will be joining the parade as well? The parade will conclude in one of the ship’s theater rooms with children sitting on the stage and parents in the audience. The ship’s cruise director will lead an interactive dramatic reading of Cat and the Hat that is not to be missed!
Admittedly, I had concerns about whether or not Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with Cat and the Hat and Friends could hold a candle to other character breakfasts I have attended throughout the years with my children. My reasons? Well, for starters, it is only a $5/per person upcharge and most of these type events typically run anywhere from $29.99 - $59.99, so I assumed the price reflected the value that I should expect. I was WRONG!! This is by far one of the best values at sea for families and might just be the highlight of your vacation!
When you arrive at the breakfast (you must have a reservation) you will be blown away by an amazing Cat in the Hat ice sculpture surrounded by themed colors and life-size cutouts of other characters. The tablescapes are completely over-the-top with pops of blue and red that resonate with Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat, and the characters (Cat in the Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and Sam) eagerly await meet and greets with the kids (old and young alike)! And then there’s the menu…oh the menu! The cutest thing you have ever seen! The laminated book-like menu tells of its offerings in poetic format reminiscent of the author himself! I won’t take away the surprises, but I will remind you to be sure and reserve a table for this event as soon as you arrive onboard, as you do not want to miss this extravaganza!
Ports of call…
There are several itineraries on the Freedom ship, but all are Caribbean. You’ll have some sort of excellent combination of ports that could include one or more of the following: Grand Turk, La Romana (Dominican Republic), Curacao, Aruba, Grand Cayman, St. Maarten, St. Thomas and more. All offer stunning beaches, snorkeling and shopping, so you really can’t go wrong with any of them. I will say that Grand Turk offers a free public beach right off the pier with clean bathrooms, shopping and food closeby, so it is easy to enjoy this port without booking an excursion.
For more information on Carnival ships, itineraries or to book a cruise, visit www.carnival.com or call your favorite travel agent.
Becky J. Beall is a freelance travel journalist, radio host and television personality. You can follow her blog at www.thetravelvoicebybecky.com where you’ll have access to her podcasts and social media platforms.