Carnival Cruise Line has notified guests setting sail aboard Carnival Freedom as the ship begins her transatlantic crossing to Spain for dry dock that some of the most sought after benefits typically provided to returning guests will not be available on this cruise.
This is due to the high number of loyal guests booked on this particular sailing, and is a step the cruise line has had to take with other popular sailings.
VIFP Benefits Reduced Aboard Carnival Freedom
Guests aboard Carnival Freedom as the Conquest-class vessel departs Port Canaveral, Florida en route to Barcelona, Spain, will not be able to take advantage of some of the most desirable benefits of loyalty status. In a notification sent just a week before embarkation, the cruise line explained which benefits could not be offered.
As the concern is only related to loyalty benefits at the top tier Diamond and Platinum VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) status, the letter was only given to guests who have achieved that level with the cruise line.
“Due to the high number of Diamond and Platinum guests joining us on this voyage, we will not be able to provide priority embarkation or debarkation (including at any of the ports of call),” the letter said.
The letter also indicated that guests would not be able to remain in their staterooms until after 1:30 p.m. on embarkation day, though they could drop off any carry-on luggage before heading to lunch. Finally, Diamond level guests would not be guaranteed main dining room seating requests for dinner.
“This operational change is consistent with other Carnival Journeys cruises where we have a very large number of Diamond and Platinum guests,” the letter explained. “We apologize for any disappointment and thank you for your understanding.”
For example, Carnival Cruise Line also removed these loyalty benefits from the maiden voyage of Carnival Venezia in May 2023.
No information is available about the exact numbers of Diamond or Platinum passengers onboard this 13-night transatlantic sailing, but it is likely that there are hundreds of guests who would qualify for the benefits.
Carnival Freedom can welcome 2,980 guests at double occupancy, or as many as 3,754 guests if fully booked with all berths filled. All other loyalty benefits, including VIFP gifts, special events, and casino benefits remain intact.
Carnival Freedom on Her Way to Spain
Carnival Freedom departed Port Canaveral at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, 2023 for the one-way trip to Spain, where the ship will enter dry dock for upgrades and general maintenance.
Before arriving in Spain, the ship will visit Bermuda on Sunday, September 24; Ponta Delgada in the Azores on Friday, September 29; and Malaga and Valencia in Spain on October 2 and 3, respectively, before arriving in Barcelona on Wednesday, October 4.
The ship will be out of service for approximately one month, before setting sail from Barcelona on October 23, 2023 to return to Port Canaveral by way of Valencia, Malaga, the Canary Islands, and Bermuda, arriving back in Florida on November 6, 2023, refreshed and ready to welcome guests.
Dry Dock Plans
This dry dock is of particular interest, as Carnival Freedom is currently unique in the Fun Ship fleet.
The ship’s iconic “whale tail” funnel was damaged in a fire in May 2022, and interim repairs involved removing the characteristic wings from the funnel structure. The remaining structure was fully functional, but the ship has been sailing for more than a year without that instantly recognizable feature.
A new whale tail funnel is to be installed during the dry dock in Spain, returning the ship to the classic look that has graced every Carnival ship since Tropicale was first constructed for the line in 1982.
Another key feature will also be added to Carnival Freedom during this dry dock. The ship is scheduled to receive the new red, white, and blue livery that initially debuted with Mardi Gras in 2021, and has gradually been rolled out across the fleet as ships have had dry dock updates.
Other regular maintenance and refreshment of public areas as well as guest staterooms will be part of the dry dock as well, and in a month’s time, the 110,000-gross ton Carnival Freedom will be upgraded, renovated, and ready to set sail once more with all the charismatic fun of every Carnival ship.