Milt Abel is a stand-up comedian traveling the world, and places closer.


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The Freedom Is Almost Free

By Milt Abel | April 17, 2011

| April 17, 2011

The    Freedom is Almost Free

There’s an expression that circulates among those who want to justify the cost in dollars of our national defense, and cost in lives of our foreign policy, that drives me up the wall for its moronic reasoning. It turns the meaning of its words inside out to promote an agenda, and unfortunately it comes to the ear sounding pithy, poetic, and important.  ‘Freedom isn’t free.’ Really? It would be just as logical to say ‘Slavery isn’t enslaving.’ But that doesn’t sound patriotic, and at the price we’re paying for our freedom, we should be allowed to sound anyway we please, even if it’s stupid.  I like my wife’s response when she hears someone throwing that sophomoric around…
“Freedom isn’t free.”
“But peace is.”

Why all the talk of freedom? Because I’m on a cruise ship christened the Carnival Freedom, and in three days I head to join Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. All kinds of freedom right there. And as I type this in the late evening I’m perched outside under a full moon on deck 11 in an area the ship has labeled ‘Serenity -adult only retreat.’ A nice, quiet place to enjoy some peace. I’m free to be here, free to blog, free to complain, and you get to read this for free, and I’m at peace with that.

Ironically, I’m not as free on the Carnival Freedom as I am on other ships. My contract with Carnival stipulates I’m not allowed to enjoy several privileges I’m entitled to on other lines. I can’t go to the passenger buffet for any meal other than lunch. I have to wear a name tag when in crew areas and I don’t have a cabin with a porthole. I know, there are people in countries that never get a buffet; breakfast, lunch,or dinner. And have to carry ID papers everywhere they go, and would pay a month’s salary to have a window, regardless of its view. I’m just used to more; freedoms I not only didn’t pay for, I got paid while enjoying them. Luxury wasn’t luxurious, it was expected.

I did get a bit of a pleasant surprise about the quality of the cruise experience from Carnival. I was initially put in a crew cabin -and not an officer’s cabin like I get on Princess, this was a waiter’s or deck hand’s cabin, tile floor that was 70% covered when I set down my luggage to unpack. A passenger cabin was available because an entertainer with more seniority failed to board with me because of paperwork problems so I got his cabin. The bathroom was almost the size of my crew cabin. Nice bathrooms.

The food was surprisingly good too. I went to a midnight buffet -that’s like a lunch buffet, it takes place at 12, and the other meals I grabbed there were surprising tasty. I’ve cruised almost every line out there and this food was good.

Carnival has a reputation among other cruise lines as being the trashy, cheap line. Some of it earned I suppose, the major ship problems; malfunctions, rampant Norwalk, and infamously partying crowds, always seem to happen on Carnival. But the Carnival Freedom was beautifully appointed (leaning toward garish Vegas), clean, and considerate enough to put a big, permanent waterslide for the kids, and a retreat where they’re not welcome for the adults.
The dedicated comedy showroom was a blast as well. They set a room aside appointed asa comedy club; close the doors for the shows and offer several performances a night, alternating between two comics, both of which present a ‘family’ show and a different ‘adult’ show. It reminded me of my comedy club days and enjoyed some of the freedom of pushing a joke’s response by some frank language. I’m a clean comic, but I’m also a gun for hire at this stage in my career, and if they want to giggle over a rude word or two, who am I to take away their freedom to do that?

On one late show I asked the audience if anything interesting had happened in the first half of the cruise, before I had boarded for the last three days. I was informed the ship picked up a Cuban adrift off the coast of Florida and that he initially didn’t want the ship to stop and pick him up, waving it off. Immediately I thought of the joke, “Of course, he was waiting for a Holland ship.” But I couldn’t say a joke that would have killed on another line, but here, on Carnival, I wasn’t quite free to use it.

Topics: comedy, cruise ship, humor, travel | No Comments »