Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by John GAwne Eastern Caribbean March 1, 2008
Carnival Liberty Eastern Caribbean March 1-9, 2008
We booked this cruise, our 12th on Carnival, for my wife's birthday. We couldn't find a flight getting into Fort Lauderdale early enough to be sure we could get checked in with the new earlier 90 minutes before sailing deadline, so we flew in the evening before the cruise. We stayed in the Candlewood Inn (owned by the same company as the Holiday Inn Express next door to it) on State Route 84 near the airport and not that far from Port Everglades. The room had a full kitchen, and they provided microwave popcorn and soap for dishes. They also had food available for purchase that you could microwave in the room. There is also a Winn Dixie supermarket across the street where we stopped in the morning to purchase 2 bottles of champagne to take aboard ship. The hotel provides a free shuttle from the airport, and a paid shuttle at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 to Port Everglades for $8 per person. We opted to call a taxi, knowing how closewe were, and it was $12 including tip.
Check-in through the VIP line for Platinum members was quick and we were aboard by noon. The cabins weren't opened until 1:30pm, however. We had an 8E balcony on deck 7 and really enjoyed it.
General observations about Carnival Liberty, at this time the 2nd newest Carnival ship (until fall 2008). We checked with the maitre de' as we found we were assigned a larger table and he had no trouble blocking a table for 4 for the 2 of us for the whole cruise. Interestingly, I noted plenty of empty tables for 2 at the 8pm seating. We were in the Silver Olympic Dining Room, the aft one. Service and variety on the menu was excellent. We had frequent visits by the assistant maitre de's. Choices include beef wellington, chateaubriand, filet mignon, prime rib, large and tender lobster, seafood newburg, pike perch, mahi mahi, tilapia, and many other, including lamb. Desserts included cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and baked Alaska. The Carnival melting chocolate cake was available every night.
The Lido area for breakfast has three buffet areas, 2 of which have eggs to order. Lunch options include grill, deli, fish & chips (with boullabaise, fried oysters, calamari, tuna tartar, and fish and chips), Mexican selections, a Mongolian station, taste of nations buffet, and the regular buffet -- all in addition to the dining room service, which we never use for lunch. Pizza and Caesar salad, of course are available 24 hours in the rear pool area.
There are many dancing options, including in Harry's Supper Club. You can dance there to the combo and use the bar even if you aren't dining in the supper club -- a little known secret. There is dancing in the evening to a combo in the lobby bar area, in the Victoria Lounge to a 4 person band, and in the disco in the evening.
Wednesday they did have a Mardi Gras night around the pool at 10:30 pm and a Mexican buffet at midnight. On Friday night they had a chocolate buffet at midnight.
They held wine tastings twice in the Harry's Supper Club at 11:30am, with a knowledgeable sommelier who had worked in the Normandy restaurant on Celebrity Summit. The formal nights were on the 2nd and 7th nights of this 8 day cruise. The first was on the 2nd night, my wife's birthday, and she was thrilled as a result. I was able to purchase, and preorder for the second formal, rose corsages for her at the Formalities Shop. The Captain's welcome reception in the Venetian Theatre was held on the first formal night. The past guest reception was held on the 5th evening in Victoria Lounge, followed by a 7 pm show by the theatre cast featuring 50's and 60's music.
The shows included a Rock Down Broadway and It's a Wonderful World, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr by a male vocalist we had seen on a previous cruise, but is still very good, a comedian, and a tribute to Motown Music Grammy winners. The Carnival singers and dancers were among the best we have seen on Carnival.
Itinerary The first day of the 8 day cruise was a sea day with wind and rain in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon. First formal night, Captain's Welcome and show.
Monday: Arrived in San Juan at 5 pm after, again, wind and rain in the morning, but clearing in the afternoon. We were there from 5 to midnight. We walked a bit in old town, but having been there many times, we wound up at Senor Frog's behind the Sheraton near the pier. Four ships in port, all arriving late in the day. Many people ate aboard early and went into town for the evening.
Tuesday: Arrived in St Thomas and docked at Crown Bay, the one outside of town. Ship was there from 7am to 6pm. We took a taxi to Red Hook, now up to $11 per person, and the ferry to St John's for $5 per person, and a taxi to Trunk Bay for $6 per person. Park admission is $4 per person. I enjoyed the snorkel trail at Trunk Bay park again and we stayed from 11:30 till 2pm. Then another taxi to Cruz Bay to enjoy local drinks near the ferry pier, and the 3pm ferry back to Red Hook, and the taxi back to Crown Bay. We paid $48 per person for 6 ½ hours, and the ship's excursion to St John is $71 and only 4 hours long. We enjoyed a late room service lunch. After dinner we enjoyed dancing to the lobby band in Harry's Supper Club instead of the comedy show.
Wednesday: Wednesday we were in Antigua from 7am to 6pm. I had arranged in advance for a day pass at Sandals Grande Antigua, and after a $12 taxi (for 2) we enjoyed the newest Sandals resort in the Caribbean, with its new 7 story addition. Food, beverages and service were great. It is right on Dickinson Beach, not 10 minutes from the pier. We returned, after too much sun, about 5pm.
Thursday: Thursday we were in Tortola BVI from 7am to 3:30pm. I booked an excursion to snorkel in the caves at Norman Island for $61 per person. After about a 25 minute boat ride we snorkeled in deep water and into the caves. Not much sea life in there, but there was in the deep water, including a resident large barracuda. After the boat ride back we shopped in Tortola and stopped for medication at Pusser's Bar for a Painkiller!
Friday: Friday was a sea day, great weather, wine tasting, 2nd formal night, and a broadway style show after dinner.
Saturday: Saturday we were in Nassau from 1-8pm. Having been to Nassau often, we chose to do an excursion on the party boat Yellowbird to Pirate Island. Open bar rum punch on the ride over, chairs and swimming under a cloudy sky, and then open bar rum punch and dancing on the way back. It was definitely a party boat, and was only $35 per person for the fun afternoon. Of course we stopped at Sr Frogs for a snack on the way back to the ship. Baggage was to be out in the halls by 10:30 pm, and we went to dance a little after that.
Sunday: On Sunday they allowed passengers to remain in cabins till 9am, if they chose. We chose to wait till the last people called as we had a late flight, and enjoyed the Lido area till 9:45 when we were called. After only a short wait for a taxi we were at the airport and into a long, long line for TSA checks, and a 2pm flight home.
My only real complaint was that 2 of the 4 aft elevators were out of commission the entire cruise, and these are the ones to the aft dining room and the aft pool and Lido. One of the midships elevators was also out often. But the service and food and general appearance of the ship were superb. Tommy, the singing bartender at the Paparazi Wine Bar is a gem. This was clearly the best of our 12 Carnival cruises, and a great 8 day cruise for my wife's birthday.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Roger Hansen Western Caribbean December 2, 2007
Embarkation process at Ft. Lauderdale went by surprisingly fast considering the many passengers they had to accommodate.
Upon boarding, we were amazed how beautiful this ship is. Carnival Liberty should be commended for their staff. They were so helpful and always clean and respectful to the passengers. We especially were impressed with the staffing at our dinner table in the Silver Room, 1st seating. They were excellent, using their great sense of humor, while waiting our table. The food in the Silver Room was exceptional. Our favorites were the Lobster, Salmon and a special night of Steak. If you order dessert, don't overlook the Chocolate Cake. It's great! I don't need the calories, but went ahead and ordered it every evening. That cake alone is almost enough to sway me to book the Liberty again.
We were so grateful for their efforts, we gave each of our table staffing a generous tip for their efforts in spite of the "No tipping requirement".
One evening we dined at Harry's. This was a real treat and well worth the additional fee. Again, thestaffing was excellent and we also left tips for them. We had rib steak that was almost more than we could eat and cooked very well. "Great job, Chef!" While we dined, we were entertained by a small group playing dinner music that was very enjoyable. I recommend passengers to not overlook Harry's as a dining experience.
We booked stateroom 8269 which has a balcony. We were happy with the roomy accommodations and the balcony that was large enough for our daughter and son-in-law to join us there from time to time.
We couldn't have had better room service if we had tried. They were so good, we tipped each morning and night, the entire stay. If we brought something back to our stateroom and they were in the passageway, they would key our door for us. I know that is not the norm, but we really appreciated being pampered.
The pool on the Lido Deck is a little loud for us, but we reallyy liked the pool aft which was much quieter.
We really enjoyed all the ports of call we made in the Western Carribean and now intend to take another cruise to the Eastern Carribean.
Carnival Liberty -- Pat yourselves on the back!!!
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Deakon Western Caribbean November 24, 2007
Captain: Carlo Queirolo
Hotel Director: Pier Giorgio Micallef
Cruise Director: Karl with a K
Length: 8 day, 3 port 4 sea days
Ports of Call: Cozumel Mexico, Limon Costa Rica, Colon Panama
What's up Carnival?? Maybe you should LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS and do something about the train wreck, err or should I say SHIP WRECK that is the embarkation process!
The line went out and around to the BACK of the terminal building. I found out later they refused to even begin checking anyone in until 1:00 on the nose. Who do you think you are? THE BANK? Let people on the bloody ship! Send them up to the Lido if they can't get in to their cabin. And just when you wait 90 minutes in one line, you start walking and think you're in the clear. And then you come to another room with a HUGE mother line in it! Fast forward a total of 2 and a half hours. We get on the ship. Thanks for violating me in ways only prison inmates should be violated.
On to happier memories:
Theship is almost identical to the Triumph and so for the first few hours it was very surreal. I also took my vacation during one of the busiest radio times of the year so I felt a wee bit guilty (not really). Having sailed Triumph in June it made for very easy navigation of the ship. I looked at my dining time which was supposed to be at 6:15 in the Golden Olympian. They changed it randomly to the last dining time which didn't work for us. So thanks to the good people at the CRUISE MATES message board, I knew to march on over to the Maitre 'D. He set us up with the early dining time at a table for two. FANTASTIC!
Next priority: NAP!
We had been up since 2am, so we took a nap.
Now, as many of you know, I'm friends with the piano man on the Liberty. I didn't tell him we were coming as I was going to surprise him that night at the piano bar. So we woke up from the nap and went to the drill. What are the chances Brad is at my muster station? The look from him was precious. Kind of like "that looks like -- HOLY @#$" -- so we had a quick catch up and then did the drill.
Next surprise: I had a couple of friends from college working on the ship as well. I won't name them because they took me in to some areas of the ship that would get them in trouble. So we'll call them Dylan and Rockwell. But more on that later.
We had dinner. Of course Carnival can't cook a steak to save its life outside of Harry's supper club.
The rest of the week pretty much went like this: Wake up at 10:30ish. Go to the Lido, eat, tan on lido (or go onto land if applicable), nap, get ready for dinner, eat dinner, see the show or hit the casino and then hit the piano bar to round out the day.
Here are some key reviews:
Food It was alright. The chef learned how to make a caesar salad on this ship but the meat (beef, chicken, etc) was mediocre at best. I wasn't that impressed with the food overall.
Harry's Supper Club: Wow! what a night! Dylan and Rockwell were working, but Brad had the night off. So the three of us went on up to Harry's. I don't understand why the whole dining experience on Carnival isn't run like this. Everything was fantastic. They comped our initial drinks and the wine was courtesy of Brad. They brought the meat out to us to select which we wanted. We were on our second bottle of wine at this point so I only remember I had the porterhouse -- 24 ounces of heaven. It was cooked to perfection. They made Caesar salad right at the table. We talked and drank the whole night. We actually closed down Harry's 4 and a half hours later! The average is about 2 and a half hours. We rolled out (literally cuz we were stuffed!) and stepped onto deck to find a party going on. We met up with the rest of the crew later and partied all night. Later, Rockwell took me to the bow of the ship which is actually a restricted area. He made me walk alone in case we were caught. I went past several chains and it was a fantastic view! It was pitch black except for the stars overhead. We sat and talked for a while until someone from the bridge put a spotlight on us. Then we ran Laughing.
I had to walk Rockwell back to his cabin because he was in NO shape whatsoever to do so by himself. So we walked along deck 2 (because some decks you cannot walk from forward to aft) and deck 2 has less security on it. I got him into his cabin and snuck out of the crew area.
Lido: Food was pretty good for buffet. Mongolian BBQ is gross -- don't waste your time unless you like crappy food. They overcook everything. I didn't even finish mine.
The sandwich shop is pretty darn good! I highly recommend it. The pizza is what it is. Not spectacular but not bad by any means. Room service is lame. Only simple stuff. Not even a burger.
Entertainment The entertainment was great. The two production singers are fantastic and very cool people. The first show put me to sleep, it was supposed to be music from all over the world. In actuality it was boring. I left early for the piano bar.
**BIASED ANNOUNCEMENT** I know Brad and I'm partial to piano bars.
The piano bar was fantastic. It was decorated much better than that on the Triumph. The LED's are great! Brad was on top of his game but the crowds were mediocre. Because of the time of year, the people on the cruise were much older. I kept saying we needed some college kids in there to get rowdy. However, there were some great characters in the bar -- Robert, Skip, Tiffany. And it once again became a meeting place of the same people every night. I love the familiarity of the place and how that didn't change from the last cruise. If you're cruising anytime between now and Feb, say hi to Brad, tip him well and buy him a stoli & soda. AND STAY FOR HIS LATE SHOW. But, if you're easily offended, go to bed. haha.
The Calypso Band SUCKS. It's HORRIBLE. They played the same 6 songs over and over day after day.
Ports Cozumel: This was the best port this cruise. Be wary of what you buy. Lots of fake tanzanite (yes I bought some, but it was for my bratty sister-in-law that insisted on me bringing her back some, so I don't feel bad about it -- haha). After we were finished shopping, we met the guys at the secret crew bar. They made me promise not to tell what it was called or where it was because they didn't want passengers coming in there lol.
The outside of the bar looked like a dive, but when we walked through into the back, it was AMAZING. It was a perfect private beach, with a pool and swim up bar. The crew from the various ships were all there and it was a little piece of paradise. We had chips n' salsa and Coronas. It was one of the most perfect afternoons of the cruise!
Costa Rica: This was interesting. Dylan & Rockwell had to legally be on the ship. (I forgot the term they used, but every 6 weeks the crew rotates staying on the ship in case of an emergency. It's maritime law). So Brad took us out for lunch. I was scared at first, but the place was very good. Right on the beach outside with a roof. It rained (cuz y'know, we were in the rainforest) but it was still a great day. The rain only lasted an hour or so. We then left in search of Noni juice -- apparently the NEW anti oxident! The shopping sucked in Costa Rica for the most part and I wouldn't wander too far without someone I knew. MATTER OF FACT: Carnival posted a warning that a number of passengers have been assaulted in Costa Rica in recent months.
Panama: Waste of time. We got off the boat so we can say we've been to Panama and then went back and onto the Lido deck to tan.
Overall The ship was a helluva lot of fun. The service isn't up to par in my opinion, but that's the trade off you make when you come to Carnival from another line. I keep coming back to Carnival because you really can't beat the fun. Plus when you're having fun, you don't eat as much! haha
Karl's last cruise was suppose to be the current one sailing right now, but some family emergency called him back to England early. He's a great CD and if you find yourself cruising with him, make sure you go up and say hi because he is HONESTLY a nice guy that cares about the passengers.
The captain is crazy. You wanna talk about a rock n'roll cruise.. He drives that ship like a ferrari. The barf bags came out more than once, lol. I heard more than one waiter talk about sailing with "the crazy captain" before.
As a side note, I won Name That Tune and our team (the Blue Team) won overall with 27,000 points.
As I mentioned earlier, the cruise was an older crowd. I think that's a symptom of the time of year we cruised in. Things shut down a little earlier, but it was still a lot of fun. There were virtually no kids on the ship, which suited me just fine!
The cabin was fine. We missed the balcony, but the window was nice. I don't think I could do an interior cabin. Our steward was friendly and I told her on the first day that we wake up late. So she always came to our cabin last.
I learned some things that were a bit disturbing to me. I won't go into huge details about them, but I would like to say that your tips are the crew's life blood and I threw my favorite waitresses some extra cash and they really appreciated it.
Disembarkation DISASTER! Self-assist was cool on the Triumph because not a lot of people were doing it. But now everyone seems to do it! And it just turns into pandemonium! I won't self-assist out again unless I have a really early flight.
Any questions, please let me know.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Teresa McFarlane Western Caribbean September 9, 2007
Embarkation Big line up to get on the ship but the (Helpers) were really friendly and the line went fairly quickly.
Cabin My husband and I stayed on the Riveria deck cabin 1235. Room was quite comfortable, plenty of storage. Room was always cleaned and had cute towel animals left in our room every night.
Shows & Entertainment The shows were awesome and the cruise director was great and entertaining. I have been on other cruise lines and the carnival shows are quit compariable to them. The only real complaint I have is I found this ship very smokey. We wanted to go into the disco and the other bars but the smoking was terrible, I have never experienced this to be a problem on any other cruise line. On other cruise lines smoking is either outside or designated to one or two bars, but on the Carnival line smoking is everywhere except for the eating areas and the Venican lounge.
Dining We had the 6:15 dining in the Golden Room. The dining room was lovely. The food was great andplenty to choose from. The only complaint I have is I didn't find the wait staff very friendly. On other ships my waiters have been very friendly and they always remember your name and they remember what you like and don't like. They take the time to make you feel special. We also found that in the dining room there is a no shorts policy, but on the Carnival Liberty they didn't care what you wore. This I found disappointing since some of us were dressed correctly.
Ports of Call Grand Cayman: We went on a snorkling tour which was the worst snorkling tour I have ever been on they just snorkled around the ship.
Ochio Rios: The canapy tour was the best tour I have ever been on the Jamican's there where very friendly and didn't pester you for money. If you go to Jamiaca do this tour.
Key West: Pretty town great to walk around and do shopping.
Over all I found this ship alright, not the best, but alright. If the smoking wasn't so bad then I would have had a better time.
We just returned from the 8-day Western Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Liberty. There were 11 of us and three of our family members were cruising for the first time. This was my husband's and my 5th trip on Carnival in the last 3 years and 10th cruise in total. The ship is beautiful and the staff was very friendly. There were approximately 3500 guests on the ship (according to our cruise director) and based on some of the issues we experienced during the trip, the staff did not seem to be prepared to deal with this many travelers.
The embarkation process was not bad, but the lines were long. Upon boarding there was total chaos at the dining rooms with passengers complaining about their requested dinner times. We stood in line for over an hour, only to have one of the dining room staff come through the line to tell us they would not be able to make any adjustments until the next day and for us to eat at the assigned dinner time for that evening.
I am not sure if anyone was accommodated, but we ended up having toeat dinner at 6:15 for the entire cruise. We got a note delivered to our cabin indicating that our requested dinner time could not be accommodated. Everyone in my group was upset and the staff just kept saying there was nothing they could do. We all enjoy staying up and getting up late and we either had to skip breakfast or lunch. Also, we had to rush on days we were on the islands to make it to the dinning room.
My nephews and daughter traveled with us (my nephews are 11 and my daughter is 12). The rules at Camp Carnival were too restrictive. The staff refused to allow my daughter to participate in activities with her cousins and insisted that she join her age group (which she did not want to do). I had to be firm in order for the staff to allow her to stay at the Camp to play video games with her cousins and we were paying per hour.
The buffet lines at the Lido Deck were very long and the food was just OK. It seemed to me that the quality of the food has declined since I last traveled with Carnival about a year ago. It was helpful to have the burgers and pizza. The food at dinner time was average and also not as good as I had before.
The Venetian Theater was always full and it was difficult to get good seats. This was made worse by the fact that they had bingo games in the theater almost every night before the shows and the players stayed.
The cabins were very nice and roomy. My husband and I had a balcony and the rest of the group had inside cabins. They were all spacious and with plenty of storage and closet space.
Overall we had an average time. The kids did not seem to have as much to do as on other cruise lines we have traveled before. The food was just average and during lunch it was sometimes of bad quality. I think I will take a break from Carnival for a while.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by C. Johnson Western Caribbean July 1, 2007
This was my first cruise on the Liberty but not my first cruise with Carnival. We arrived at 11:00 am and the lines were very short. Embarkation for us was a breeze and we were on LIDO for lunch at noon. The food is excellent whether you eat in one of the dining rooms or partake of the buffet.
By 1:30 pm we were in our balcony cabin unpacking two of our four suitcases. The only glitch here was that one of my ship luggage tags came off and I had to go down to the pursers ofc to claim my final piece of luggage. I love Carnival cabins as they are the biggest I've seen so far. As a travel agent, I've toured at least one cruise ship of each cruise line. The new bedding was so comfortable and I woke up each time without any aches or pains. Very nice touch.
We ate in the Silver Dining Room and the decor and its history is wonderful. Our waiter Mugni from India, was the best. He was alwaysjoking with us as he did his job. Loved his attitude and personality. I will add that the entire dining room staff appeared to be very friendly and dedicated to making everyone feel right at home. The food as usual was excellent. Never a problem to get something else if your first choice was not as tasty to you as you thought. Entertainment
There is so much to do on the ship that its impossible to do everything even if you tried. Activities overlap each other sometimes and as one cruiser said earlier, it makes for smaller groups in whatever you decide to do. Todd, our cruise director was one of the best. Funny, entertaining and always there on the speaker or in person to help you to have the best time ever. The crew shows and the passenger talent show was awesome.
Now, each night we would hear this male and female duet from the Atrium. Our cabin was on deck 8, and we would often come outside to hear the great sounds from this couple. We decided the last night of the cruise to go down to deck 3 to sit and listen upfront & personal. Well..Joel and Lorna are a couple of great singers that should be heard on a cruise ship and in the States. They have a sound that would pack any venue. Joel has a great voice with a large range and he is able to sound and look like a lot of famous singers. If you closed you eyes, you would have thought we had a 5 star cast of singers on board from Johnny Mathis, Barry White, Louis Armstrong, Barry Manilow, Elvis Presley, Larry Graham, Joe Cocker and many more. We purchased 2 of his 3 CD's so we would remember them through song. They need to get permits to work in the States. I hope Carnival puts them on the Valor on Oct 21, 2007 cruise.
WELL, I finally broke down and treated myself to the SPA. In fact, I had two massages. First of all, ANNA was my masseusse. She's only 4'10" of 4'11", but, she has strength and power in her small frame. I was very glad I selected medium pressure. Now, I had the lime and ginger body scrub. She must have scrubbed off 10 years of dry skin. Then I had a hot stone massage right after the scrub. I was so relaxed and my skin felt like a baby's bottom. Even after 3-4 days following the treatments, my skin is still sliky smooth. I will make sure I continue this treatment on the ships I cruise in the future and will attempt to find someone at home to fill in between.
I'm not one to do excursion(s) at every port. I don't scuba or snorkled and that seems to be the biggest thing these days. I actually come off the ship and shop or eat at the pier shops. This is becoming a big thing and its usually enough for me at most ports.
I'm not sure what happened on this cruise or if this is the norm for the Liberty. We went down on Friday morning to select what pictures we were going to buy,etc. Well, the walls were full with pictures but there were also boxes of photos on this table. These were the ones they couldn't display. You had to go through them one at a time to attempt to find your photo. They had them separated by location of the shot but you had no idea if yours was on the bottom, middle or top. There were hundreds of pictures. AFter one hour I gave up and left with only two photos. My cabin mate went down later and spent 2 hours and came back with four more. This was totally unacceptable and I will be writing Carnival about it. People were very upset about the process and this doesn't make for happy cruisers who look forward to the great pictures when found.Debarkation
Very organized and we were informed of the process through a meeting the day before, re-broadcast on Carnival station, big screen on LIDO deck and a flyer in your stateroom. We were off the ship at 9:15 am.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by IBCruzin' Eastern Caribbean May 26, 2007
O.K. Excuse the length but I will comment on the things that I feel are relevant. Bear with me.Embarkation
Port is 10 minutes from airport. $15 via Carnival transports or cab or $9 via shuttle van. I opted for shuttle van. There was a bit of a backlog getting into the port b/c of the I.D. check at the gate. Once in at the ship, there was plenty of porters on hand who took your luggage, looked up your stateroom if need be and had extra luggage tags on hand. Very quick and cheery bunch. Tip your porter $1 or $2 per bag.
Stood on line for approximately 30 minutes to get to check-in counter. My check-in had a minor snafu but I was happily walking on the ship less than 60 minutes after my arrival by plane to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Give it a Grade B+The Ship
In a word, MASSIVE. This is a huge baby. My cabin was located at the back of the ship and when I looked down the hall to the front, I could barelymake out any of the details at the other end of the hall. The ship is beautiful in the colorful Carnival style of "more is better". It is in excellent shape and you would have to look hard and long for stains, tears or other signs of wear and tear. There are so many different meeting rooms, clubs, bars, and the like that by the 6th or 7th day of my 8 day cruise, I was still finding "previously undiscovered" (by me) meeting rooms and clubs. This ship can best be described as Classy but Fun and Funky, as is Carnival's style. It would be hard for any builder to improve on the layout and design of this ship. I give the ship an overall rating of A+.
While there were over 3,000 passengers on this particular cruise, the ship never felt crowded. There were almost never any lines in the buffet, more than enough lounge chairs to go around, elevators were fast and plenty, loads of seats in the Venetian Palace and only a short wait for the most popular slots in the casino. In short, in spite of the large number of passengers, the only time you ever saw even a fraction of the total passenger load was in the Venetian Palace during a major production. The Lido Deck is so spread out that you never get that bunched up crowded feel that is evidence on some ships (both CCL and other lines). The halls along the Promenade Deck were rarely crowded and it took very little effort to find a quiet deserted spot to read or nap. In fact, on one of the last days, someone told me about the lounge chairs set up on the outside decks on the lobby deck (3rd floor). There is complete silence and isolation on that strength of ship. Everywhere you look on the various outside decks, there are at least a few lounge chairs set up during the day (removed at night). It is very possible to enjoy complete solitude on the Carnival Liberty.The Activities
Most of the activities and entertainment was scheduled so as to avoid the feel of rush or crowdedness. Unlike many other cruise lines, Carnival does not try to schedule events so that everyone can do everything. This is what creates that feel of a cattle run. What the Liberty does is schedule two or three very popular activities, shows or events at around the same time. This helps to spread the passenger population around and ensures that no one event/function is overwhelmed and compromised because of the number of participating passengers. There are so many events scheduled through the course of a typical day that it is not only impossible to do everything but it is almost impossible to even realize that you have not done everything. If you know what I mean. I believe the way they schedule activities should earn Carnival Liberty an A++ in this area. I went up to the Lido Deck one evening at around 11:30 and was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were actually seating up there watching the movie that was showing on the giant screen. That particular night it was "Night at the Museum". It was a very nice, pleasant, calm atmosphere to sit under the stars and watch a movie. They have a popcorn machine up there to complete your movie theater experience.
The Lido Deck is the center of all outdoor activities. Noise level on the Lido Deck is quite high so it is not recommended for reading or sleeping, even though I saw people doing both. The giant TV screen is a nice feature whether it is showing concerts, late night movies or just daytime background scenery to pumped-in music. It is an active moving deck where many of the more zany contests and activities are held. Chair Hogs are alive and well on this ship but, because of the perfect layout of the various sundecks on the Liberty, a person would be hard pressed to claim they could not find a lounge chair to enjoy. The two or so rows of lounge chairs that circle the Tivoli Pool on the Lido Deck are "reserved" by flip-flops very early in the day but that is the noisiest, most trafficked part of the ship. Go just on deck up or a few steps away and there are plenty of empty chairs with a better view of the action, less foot traffic and much less noise. I am sure they lay out at least 3,000 lounge chairs every morning. There was times when I had 20, 30 or 40 lounge chairs to choice from. The best pick of the litter too. The Lido Deck gets a B- because of noise but an A because of design and the availability of plenty of lounge chairs.
The Venetian Palace is the large showroom for the big Vegas-styled productions. It is gorgeous with a layout similar to all of Carnival's showrooms. It takes up three floors of the very front of the ship with the 2nd and 3rd floor covering the bottom and top of the balcony. Enough comfy seating with excellent views for most everyone on the ship. There were four major productions presented on my cruise. The first was a short welcome aboard number but different than the ones I have seen on previous cruises. This one was quite snappy and cute. The next production was an "around the world in song" type offering. It was great. The costumes were gorgeous and there were many, many costume changes. Loved it Loved it Loved it. I often found myself wondering, "How do they change clothes so fast?" Next came a smaller less elaborate production which was shown in the Victoria Lounge. The smaller theater at the very back of the promenade deck. Very nicely done. The last offering was a salute to Broadway. The best part was when the 5 gorgeous, very fit male dancers did a take-off of "The Full Monty". Quite enjoyable. ‘Nuff said. That alone got an A+; the rest of the productions got at least an A. It is quite obvious that Carnival did not scrimp on the budget in any manner for any of these productions. They were all excellently produced, costumed and choreographed. They could stand toe to toe with any big ticket production held in or around Las Vegas. In short, a lot of money and talent goes into creating these shows. The entire music/comedic entertainment department for this ship was excellent. Definitely an A.
Aside from the Liberty Dancer's productions, there were three different comedians and two solo singers which rounded out the 8 nights of entertainment in the Venetian Palace The individual singers were not just pretty good but excellent. There were also several different bands, solos, duets, quartets in the smaller gathering places on the ship that were absolutely astonishing. If you were not looking at them, many times you would be hard pressed to be able to tell it was not the original singers performing. They were that good.
The Promenade Deck is the center of all that is going on inside. The casino is usually lively until wee hours in the morning. There are lots of slots and more than enough table games to suit most passengers. I personally contributed healthily to the "Build A New Ship" fund that Carnival has going on at the slot machines. I didn't spend much time in the shops but this is the one place that I found lacking. In spite of this being a much larger and newer ship, I found that the merchandise in the various shops was quite a bit less than usually found on a Carnival ship. However, since I didn't plan to shop on the ship, this was a non-issue for me.
There is the Specialty Coffee Bar, the Teen Disco (jumping until around 1 or so), the Video Arcade, the Hot & Cool Dance Club (for adults), the Piano Bar, the Karaoke Bar, and finally in the back is the Victoria Lounge which housed several nights of big band/easy listening music that was quite popular.
The Hot & Cool Dance Club played 80', 90's, hip hop and rap music and was quite fun and popular every single evening. The closing time was supposed to be 3 a.m. but on more than one occasion, the party continued until as late as 5 a.m. Very well populated at night.
I generally patronized the Venetian Palace, the Casino, the Piano Bar and finish the evening at the Hot & Cool Dance Club. That was my standard evening on the Liberty. I spent a little time in the piano bar (it was fun with a good sized crowd every night), the Karaoke Bar (always heard laughter coming from there, along with some really bad singing). I only went into the Victoria Lounge to see the Liberty Dancers on one evening. However, it seemed to be moderately popular.
Nightlife on Liberty gets an A-. I felt the Piano Bar and Karaoke could have stood to stay open just a little later. Perhaps until at least 2:00 a.m.My Cabin
I was assigned to cabin no. 1426 on the Riviera Deck. It is a Cat 1A which is an inside cabin. It had only 1 twin bed with a bunk hidden in the ceiling. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this cabin. In addition to the twin bed, there was a mini frig, an upholstered arm chair, a small eating table, three closets and the dresser-safe-TV-desk & chair unit. Because there was only the one single bed, there were loads and loads of floor space. This cabin would be great for a single parent traveling with a child, two teens or even two adult friends as long as one didn't mind using the upper bunk (hidden in ceiling during the day). There was more than enough floor space for two people to get dressed without bumping into each other. My cabin steward was wonderful and very friendly. He remembered my name from the first day. He allowed me to collect my towel animals so that by the end of the cruise I had a complete towel zoo in my cabin. I had a dog, swan, turtle, bear, seal, and an elephant. The bathroom was very nice, quite a nice improvement from the bathrooms on the older ships. The usual amenities were found in the bathroom. A/C in the cabin was good and adjustable. The TV had the capabilities to show your folio account charges, book excursions, check out the dinner menus and order PPV movies ($8.99). Remember this cabin number (there is its twin on the odd numbered hall). 1426 is a great, cheap way to cruise the Liberty. Both my cabin and my Steward get an A+.The Food
Carnival Liberty had the largest variety of food selection of any cruise I have been on, to date. There are at least 12 different stations in which to get food in the Emeril Dining Room (Buffet). There is a "stir fry to order", Chinese food, sandwich, pizza, burgers & hot dogs, "region of the day", fish & chips, as well as carving boards and regular buffet staples. There are at least 4 ice cream stations positioned in the corners of the buffet area. There is also a good sized dessert station. The eating areas are broken up into two separate dining areas, plus there is a second floor dining space. This is where you find the fish and chips spot. All in all, no matter what time of the day, whether at sea or port, the buffet never felt crowded nor did the food look "picked over". To be honest, I think I preferred the buffet food to the dining rooms offerings. Just my personal taste.
The formal dining rooms were beautiful. I had an 8:30 dining time in the Golden Dining Room. Service was a bit slow at first but it picked up nicely later on in the week. The food was pretty good. Not great but not bad either. I split my meals pretty evenly between the buffet and the various dining rooms.
I also enjoyed Harry's Supper Club one evening. The food in that venue is delicious and beautifully prepared and presented. It is well worth the $30.
Carnival Liberty's food offering get an overall A- with the Buffet getting an A and the Dining Room a B.Camp Carnival
Sorry but I have no small children so I have no take on this program but the parents I spoke to onboard all seemed happy with it and the kids seemed eager to get to camp each day.Debarkation
As was everything else about this cruise, it was smooth and organized without the cattle car feel that is normally associated with debarkation. I sat around the Lido Deck until my color was called and took my time getting to the Lobby Deck. I was off the ship and in a van in under 30 minutes. If you wait until it is your turn, it went smooth.
My Personal Take on the Carnival Liberty
People can say what they want about Carnival Cruise line and their ships, passengers and zany games. However, cruise once on the Liberty and you will truly come to understand that Carnival "gets it" and "gets it right." They have worked it out to a science. They know how to keep it fun without slipping into trashiness. They know how to make 3,000 plus people feel like they are having the time of their lives without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. I picked the big show in the Venetian so I missed the trio near the Lobby Bar. Oh well. If I opted for a late night movie, I would miss the Piano Man. Well, . . Maybe tomorrow I will get to see the Piano Man. That is how the thinking goes on the Liberty. You are never upset that you missed anything. You are too busy in awe of what you did participate in.
Since I have been back I have been telling people that I just spent 8 days with over 4,100 of the nicest, friendliest, most congenial people ever. This is in great part to the hard work of the 1,100+ staff members who have got this cruise vacation thing down to a science so all of the passengers are happy, smiling, friendly and just having a good time with little or no worries. They are well pampered, cared for, happy campers.
Add me in that number. Can't wait to cruise again.
Any questions, ask away. On a scale of 1 to ten, with ten being the highest, I would give this cruise a 9.75. I don't know if it gets any better.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Elaine515 Eastern Caribbean March 31, 2007
Background...Cruised with 8 family members (myself, husband, both sets of Grandparents, 2 daughters, ages 16 & 13 plus Friend, her daughters 16, 14 and another 14 year old.) All are past Carnival guests, with 6 of the family members being Platinum. For me this was cruise # 14 with Carnival. Never had a bad cruise. This is my review of the Liberty March 31st sailing.
We had a limo pick us up at 10:00 with a stop at my parents house on the way and arrived at the Port by 11:30. Thank goodness for Platinum VIP Priority boarding as the line was in the building around the ropes and outside. VIP for those interested is the first line you come upon or the first one on the right. We got in line behind around 200 Travel Agents who were touring the ship that day. They must have started boarding just as we got there because the TAs were the first to board and we were right behind them. Port Everglades Platinum was ok but Miami is much nicer. Herethey just have a separate line for you to stand on. Yes, we did get on much faster than the regular line (some people said they were on the boarding line for 90 minutes) but it wasn't as nice as the private room with chairs/sofas like Miami has.
The Liberty is by far the prettiest of all the Carnival ships we've been on. Crew was cleaning all the time. Ship is beautiful. The entire crew is the best we've ever had. Almost everyone of them had a smile, a hello, how are you etc. Todd is the Cruise Director and was terrific and funny. Saw him all over the ship and didn't hog the intercom system. James is the Social Host, with spiked blonde hair, cute and definitely had the younger kids in the palm of his hands. My 16 year old personally liked Alex, he was the young guy on deck 5 who made her what she described as the best chocolate milk shakes she's ever had!!!
We are gamblers and the Casino Staff was also very friendly. Always joking around and smiling. Scott Reynolds is the current Casino Host and not only is he nice to look at, but also a doll. Walked around, made sure everyone was ok, everyone was happy and smiling. The complaints I did hear in the Casino was that the Texas Hold Em players absolutely HATE the electronic table that they now have fleetwide. The other complaint was that they had automatic shuffle machines at the blackjack table. I don't play either one so it didn't bother me either way. They had machines from .01 (which you had to play a minimum of .09) up to $5. The tables on the first night only was a minimum of $3 but from the 2nd night on went up to $5. There was a minimum of two tables for each table game but only one Crap Table in this casino. I play 3 Card Poker and the tables were usually full but I didn't have to wait for a seat.
The Staff....We had the best room steward to date, Ahpit from India. Not only was the room made up every day and the towel animals/people made each night, but he knew us by name, was very friendly and always smiling. Lauren, our 13 year old got sick the first two days out and Ahpit told us that he would be in the cabins for the next couple of hours and that if she needed anything, to find him. Our waitor Jose was very good, didn't make any mistakes on the orders but definitely needs to take a course in personality, zero, zilch, none. Thank goodness for Beatrix, his help, she was wonderful, friendly, great personality. We told her to give Jose lessons!! Dad had his rye bread every night waiting for him, the girls and myself had the glasses filled with ice waiting for us, etc.
Dinner... We ate in the Golden Dining Room 6:15 and loved the location (right in the middle of the ship). The only thing that we didn't like is that we were on the 2nd floor and if you enjoy watching/joining in with the Staff when they sing and dance, you can't see them because it's all performed on the 1st floor... So, next time, I request 1st floor seating. Also, the largest tables on the Liberty are for 10 passengers and since we were 12 they gave us one long table for 8 plus another table for 4 right across from us.
The food was good, with some of it being delicious. What I never knew and learned this week is that every Carnival ship has the same menu as far as the 1st day, 2nd day etc. Doesn't matter what day of the week your ship leaves. And YES, I had the chocolate melting cake every single night (it was sooooooo delicious). The 3rd night they served the filet mignon and veal parmigiana. Well the 3rd night for us was San Juan and we didn't eat in the dining room. When I asked the Maitre'd why they did that, it was then that he explained it was the meal of the day. But, the next night guess what we had for dinner... YUP, the Maitre'd delivered 6 veal parmigiana dinners to us and they were delicious.... And it was a good night too because we didn't like what was being served that night.
The big screen on the Lido deck.... amazing. We got to watch the Basketball finals, and of course, being from Florida, how could it not be great to watch your team win 10xs larger???? Lots of Florida/Ohio fans out that night and it was really loads of fun. Watching movies/concerts on the sea on a big screen is great. They also sold bags of popcorn for $1. Was told they had the charge so that the kids wouldn't take the popcorn and throw it all over the place.
We had great weather the entire week, and yes, the chair hogs were out...But, when the girls were out looking for lounge chairs, a Carnival employee just took towels off of 4 lounge chairs, told them to sit down and that if anyone came to claim the towels, tell them to see him... So they are trying to work with passengers and weed out the chair hogs.
The ship had 3400 passengers this week, with 1800 of them being past Carnival cruisers and only 30 Platinum members. There were over 900 kids on board, but being that we were in the Casino after midnight every night we personally never had or saw any problem with the kids. Even during the day, although we saw the kids, I never saw them doing anything wrong.
San Juan ( 5pm - 12midnight). Got off the ship as soon as we were allowed and went over to the Dooney & Bourke & Coach outlet stores. D & B closes at 6 so we shopped there first, then went directly across the street and continued shopping at the Coach store, which now stays open until 7pm. Between myself and the girls, the employees were thanking us by the time we left. Spent a lot of $$$$$s in both, but saved lots too. After that the girls decided to get back on the ship and my husband & I played in the casino right across the street from the Port.
St Thomas (8am - 6pm). Got off the ship around 10 and went shopping to the stores right at the Port. Some of the others took the tram up to Paradise Point ($18. per person). The pictures they got were beautiful and they loved it up there. Around 1:00 we hoped into a taxi ($5. per person for 10 of us) and went over to Bolongo Bay Beach. The cab driver left us off at the end of the beach by Iggys Restaurant/Bar and we didn't have to pay for the lounge chairs. Very relaxing, not crowded at all. The same driver who took us there picked us up at 5:00 and took us back to the ship.
Antigua..... Oh my goodness.... We "rented" the Tiami Cataraman prior to cruising for 16 of us and I wanted to take the Catarman and the Crew back home with me.... It was amazing and I would recommend this one to everyone. It is the same company that owns the Excellence Catarman that Carnival charges $99 per person for and squeezes everyone in. We were charged $75 per person and had 16 people with 3 Crew!!! The food and crew were excellent, and of course, the open bar didn't hurt either... Definitely a great tour and very relaxing day.
Tortola... We were at the Baths last time we were there so this year we decided to just "wing it". At around 1:00 we got off the ship, found a guy from "Captain Friendly" taxi service who offered us a 2 hour tour for $15 per person.... WOW..... didn't even try to bargain him down.... that's a great price. He was a history major so we got a great tour, great information and great price.....
Days at sea.... The usual chair hogs, the trivia contests, the bingo, Newlywed Game, blackjack tournaments, slot tournaments, art auction, etc.
We all agreed that this was one of the best cruises we have had, the Staff on the Liberty was fantastic, the food was overall very good, the weather was terrific and the Liberty is beautiful.
Some trivia/interesting things to know...
For those cruisers wondering what was happening with soda smugglers, we are one of them... We had a large duffle bag filled with 3 six packs of diet coke bottles, 1 six pack of Sprite and a case of water all packed into a large plastic garbage bag (just in case one of the bottles opened). Made it to our cabin with no problem at all. The room steward emptied the refrigerator for us and we put the soda and water in there all week.
Platinum.... a couple of weeks ago this was asked..... We got four (4) Carnival Tote Bags in our cabin. So either they changed the one (1) per cabin policy, our room steward didn't read the new "rules" or he liked us but we each got a tote bag. My parents also got two (2) in their cabin. Of course, we also got the other "perks" i.e., personalized stationary, key chains, pens, a basket of fruit, canapys etc. We did use the free laundry service (wash and fold) three times. For those that are not platinum, it is $15 per bag.
Another think I learned this week.... Platinum/VIP Members were signed in with their credit card/sign n sail info right at the check in line. Other passengers were checked in here but then had to proceed to the Lounge to set up their Sign n Sail cards there. The Carnival Representative told us that it helped speed up the boarding line and they did have until the 2nd day to set up their Sign n Sail account so it wasn't like it had to be done immediately.
And for those curious about the Topless Deck, not Topless anymore ... Just a bunch of lounge chairs up there now but no sign and the only time I went up there it was empty.
I emailed the Casino Host prior to boarding and the room was made up in the Bon Voyage decorations courtesy of the Casino. Don't know if they do that for all but it was definitely worth the email. To be honest, we are big gamblers and spent every night after the show in the casino. That is something that we enjoy doing.
Definitely pack a light sweater or jacket. The Casino was always cold as was the Dining Room and Show Rooms.
We also tipped our Room Steward and Asst Waitress and both of them told me after I asked them is that they have to split any extra tips with help, i.e, Ahpit has one helper he has to split any extra tip with and unfortunately Beatrix has to split with Jose
If I've left anything out, I will add it and if anyone has any questions, please ask. Even after so many cruises, you guys still help me out and I would love to do the same for you.Elaine 03/31/2007 Carnival Liberty Eastern Caribbean 07/10/2006 Carnival Fascination Key West & Cozumel 03/19/2006 Costa Magica (biggest mistake ever) 09/02/2005 Carnival Fascination Bahamas 03/18/2005 NCL Spirit Southern 3/20/2004 Carnival Triumph Western 3/16/2003 Carnival Spirit Exotic W. Caribbean 08/02 NCL Sun 12/21/2001 Carnival Spirit Southern Caribbean 10/15/2000 Carnival Destiny Southern Caribbean 1/31/2000 Carnival Ecstasy Western Caribbean 10/17/1999 Carnival Destiny Western Caribbean 10/98 RCL Grandeur of the Seas 10/18/1997 Carnival Fascination Southern Caribbean 10/6/1996 Carnival Sensation Western Caribbean 10/7/1995 Carnival Imagination Western Caribbean 10/94 Dolphin IV 11/6/1993 Carnival Celebration 11/1/1986 Carnival Carnivale
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by tmc Western Caribbean February 17, 2007
Carnival Liberty 8 Day Exotic Caribbean-Costa Maya, Limon Costa Rica, Colon Panama Room: 1394
AIRPORT/EMBARKATION: With snow in the Midwest our flight was an hour late arriving. Baggage claim didn’t seem extremely crowded, but for some reason Carnival had trouble loading buses. We stood over 45 minutes waiting on a bus. The guides kept saying they were waiting on buses. A driver walked in and someone asked if he had room on his bus. The bus had sat there with 10 people on it waiting for passengers. Seems to be a problem with the Carnival reps who take your coupon and tell you where to wait. Still we were on board by 2pm. The lines were long but they moved quickly. This is the first time we went to the dining room to activate our sign and sail.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We booked a 1A guarantee and received a 4A on the Riveria deck. The room was had three large closets that lined the entrance of the room containing plenty of storage, there was also a refrigerator, safe, and bathrobes. We really enjoyedthis location on the rough days at sea (2). There was more than enough storage in the room.
PORTS OF CALL/SHORE EXCURSIONS: Costa Maya: Since our last time in Costa Maya (2001), a pool has been installed in the town area around the shops. We found a beach chair under an umbrella and spent the morning there. Hit a few of the shops and then were back on board by 1:00. There was plenty of chairs by the pool and the restaurants weren’t crowded that afternoon. Scheduled a spa appointment for that afternoon. It Limon, Costa Rica: We booked a canal tour thru Oscar Brown. The Rain Forest was a beautiful experience. They also took us to the beach, areas to see the monkeys, and the banana plantation. Costa Rica is really a beautiful port that I hope cruise ships continue to visit. Colon, Panama: We booked the Two Oceans by Railroad tour and had a great time. The train was beautiful and a wonderful way to sight see. We did get to see two cargo ships lock up at the Canal.
DINING/FOOD We had all our dinners in the Golden Olympian Dining Room. The dining staff was excellent, very friendly and accommodating. Several days we had open seating breakfast and lunch in the Silver Olympian dining room. We enjoyed Fish and Chips several days. Pizza and hamburgers were available at Aft pool area.
ENTERTAINMENT: While we didn’t make all the evening shows, we did enjoy Singin with the Big Band, the comedian Carl Faulkenberry, and Rock Down Broadway. We also enjoyed the Piano Bar and Karaoke. Having seen the Carnival Legends twice, I wish they’d just bring back the passenger talent show. Princess even has a crew talent show that is a big hit.
SHIP: This ship is simply beautiful. The atrium lightening changes colors along with the wall lighting. The atrium area contains the shops, casino, library, photo gallery, and lounges. The Lido deck does have a large TV screen. Evenings they had concerts and one afternoon the Daytona 500. During the day there was some type of scenic displays on the TV. Not sure why Carnival does not play movies during the day. Still it’s a nice addition to the LIDO area.
DEBARKATION Debarkation was a breeze. Our color was called around 9am and we were at the airport checked in and thru security by 9:45.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Kevin Kelly Western Caribbean February 11, 2007
Introduction: After reading every review I could find, it became apparent that all reviews are, by nature, personal. Hence, I want to briefly describe myself so you can better interpret my thoughts relative to your own circumstances. This was our first cruise. My wife and I have 5 active sons, three over 20 and two teens. I have been lucky enough to have sufficient means to allow us to afford reasonable items, but not so much that "value" isn't critical to the enjoyment of our vacation.
Dining: I always go by two mottos when dining out – (1) don't expect more than the kitchen can produce and (2) order to the restaurants strengths, not necessarily your own desires. If you adhere to these rules, you have better chance of a good meal. The first night, as a first-timer, I blew both rules. I ordered a steak (against the recommendation of our waiter). Unfortunately, it had been heat-lamped. That's my fault, feeding 3,000 in three hours is going to require some pre-cooking. That night, as our waiter informed me, steak isvery high on the list. From then on, I explained my likes and dislikes to our waiter, and let him choose. Everything was excellent – no exaggeration, from appetizers to dessert. (I actually got an excellent steak later in the cruise – the waiter let me know that they were make them to order that night.)
By the way, don't be afraid of unusual things – they are apt to be prepared well, in that they aren't pre-cooked, and if you don't like it, just set it aside and order something else. (Note – this is a comment from a first-timer – most of you already know that, but it was strange at first for us.)
Same rules apply to buffets. The Liberty offers a huge buffet area, which at first glance looks like many similar buffet lines. Wrong. There is a "Mongolian Grill", fresh Asian grille, traditional grille, a pizzeria, a fresh deli sandwich line, a fish and chips bar and a daily, themed "international buffet". On the traditional buffet lines, you have to expect that food will start to taste similar and will vary in temperature. Nobody can help that. Hence, select what you can watch them prepare. In this manner, the Mongolian Grille, the Asian Grille, the deli sandwiches and the fish and chips were all excellent. Note that they were all "made-to-order". Other things were acceptable, if they had just come out of the kitchen, otherwise, stay away. Not a problem, there are more than enough choices.
As for other food items – note that room service does not offer hot dishes. I suspect that is for the same reasoning noted above. The BLT that I ordered at 3:00 AM was excellent and delivered in less than 10 minutes. The sushi bar looked inadequate in terms of options. We have very fine sushi bars at home, so we opted not to try anything. So to be fair, since we didn't order anything, so I cannot comment on the actual quality.
As for the price of adult and some of the other beverages, I found everything to be reasonable. On ship, you are paying for convenience, as well as for actual ingredients. Some have mentioned that soft drinks were too expensive. But I would counter that they are no more expensive than at any other theater, sports stadium, etc. This is not a grocery store; it is an entertainment venue. Plus, they DO offer the soft drink card, if you are a heavy soda drinker. While we don't drink alcoholic beverages, we were very pleasantly surprised at the variety and quality of "virgin" drinks. We treated ourselves to several throughout the course of the week. Finally, there were plenty of limitless, "free" beverages available at all times (fruit punch, lemonade, hot chocolate, milk, coffee, teas, etc.).
Be smart and you will be rewarded.
Public Rooms: The Liberty is dazzling. We thoroughly enjoyed noticing the artists' and architects' embellishments. Some have noted that the décor borders on gaudy. I prefer to characterize it as enlivening. Make no mistake, this ship is not meant to have the staid, understated elegance of the traditional, "shuffleboard" set. Rather, this ship is designed to be lively and fun. Success achieved!
Cabins: We wanted the privacy of a large balcony and were able to find Cabin 7445 available. It has a wraparound balcony at the back of the boat. It was a wonderful room, and we heartily recommend such to those that want a quiet place to getaway from the crowds. Our traveling companions had an Oceanview room on the first deck. We were surprised to see the amount of extra space, even larger than our room (but without the generous balcony). We also looked at several interior cabins (planning for our next cruise with the kids). They were sufficiently large and very bright. I can see where one would be happy with them, particularly if you're one to be found on deck or in the bars or casinos for much of the time. We were particularly happy that we had selected a room with residences both above and below; we had no noise issues, whatsoever.
Entertainment: The main show room was spectacular. We attend many theater events at home and were a bit leery of what could be accomplished at sea. The theater occupies the forward portion of three decks. The lighting and sound is as good as I have seen in the finest of "land" theaters. The stage rotates in multiple sections, rises and lowers and provides some sort of "fly" space that I am still trying to figure out. Because of the large size of the theater, there are several pillars creating obstructed views – go early to get the better seats. The seating on main floor and in the first couple of rows of the balcony are laid out in comfortable "bench-style" seats, allowing you to snuggle with your sweetheart. Waiters wander in and out before the show, providing beverage service on the main floor.
The dancers had various levels of capabilities – noticeable, but not necessarily detracting. The two vocalists of the revues, were excellent. The male one even had a large dose of showmanship which really added to the shows.
The shows, themselves, were very energetic and high-paced. The musical selections were all more than acceptable for a family audience. I must admit, however, that some of the costumes were a tad bit suggestive, for those who might be sensitive and to children. To Carnival's credit, they were overtly clear about that, noting it in the daily newsletter and even assigning a "PG" rating for "Las Vegas-style dancing girl costumes".
Comedians were hit and miss, though two of them had us literally laughing from beginning to end of their respective 30 minutes.
The entertainment in the lounges was also hit and miss. The classical trio in the Flowers Bar (the main lobby) was excellent and added a touch of nostalgia to the cruise. The jazz trio in one of the back lounges also was very entertaining and quite talented. Unfortunately the sing-along in the piano bar was less than adequate. Perhaps one shouldn't expect quality in such a setting, but the piano man's singing was painfully out of tune, enough so that I could only tolerate it for a few minutes.
Finally, the Liberty offers a massive LCD screen above the pool on the Lido deck. At night they offered relatively new releases. It was like going to an outdoor movie at home – very fun. Our wives wanted to turn in, so my friend and I stayed up to watch the midnight showing, complete with hot chocolate and popcorn.
Spa and Fitness:As first-timers, we were overwhelmed at the amount of things to do, both in and out of port. We actually didn't have time to visit the spa or the gym, but I did manage to go for a walk on the jogging track, late one night. It was a very nice surprise, a rubberized, inlaid track along the outer edge of the highest deck above the buffets. Maybe a reason why the two are so close?
Family and Children:We didn't bring our kids on this one, but we were informed that there were over 300 kids on the cruise. Never once was there a "kid" problem – that should be a ringing endorsement. Another point – all public shows were rated so that one could avoid offensive items. For example, the "R"-rated comedy shows at midnight, were performed by the same guys that performed the best family-oriented shows. Obviously, Carnival keeps a close eye on what content is being delivered and when.
Shore Excursions: As first-timers, we were very nervous about getting on and off the ship in time, quality in excursions, etc. Hence, we purposely selected only Carnival excursions. We realized that we would pay more, but the security and peace of mind was well worth the added expense.
In the Bahamas, we opted for a guided Jeep tour. It was extremely well run and very interesting and entertaining. We learned a lot about the islands and the people. We also had fun. They offered a "lunch" at the end that was, unfortunately, disappointing. If you plan on this excursion, get a good breakfast before leaving the ship. Finally, when we returned to our home base (about 20 minutes from the port), our return-trip bus was nowhere to be found. We waited over 40 minutes. But since we had purchased the excursion from Carnival, we were not concerned and just let things happened – we were on vacation, after all.
In the Cayman Islands, we opted for some shore snorkeling time. The town was WAY too crowded with tourists. Eight ships and 22,000 passengers were in port. We prefer quiet exploration to shopping, so we won't stop at this port again. The snorkeling was mildly adequate, though we didn't pay much, so "you get what you pay for". We brought our own snorkeling gear (bought at Costco for $35). It was FAR superior to anything the excursion was offering. I highly recommend that approach, as you can also control the hygiene, as well. In the future, we will look for good beaches and go on our own.
At Costa Maya, we chose the shorter, four-hour Mayan ruins trip. It was exceptionally hot the day we were there; hence, we were thrilled to see that our one-hour drive to the ruins would be in an air-conditioned bus. Once there, we were treated to a very interesting tour through active excavations, as well as through several restored and/or uncovered sites. Some of the guides were better than others; it was difficult to determine how to get the good ones. We didn't particularly like the ending – the guide explicitly asking for tips. Maybe they have to do that to get most people to realize that it is appropriate. We left a small one, as her skills were not as good as our guide in the Bahamas. (We left him a rather generous tip, because of his efforts and the quality of his presentation.)
Bottom-line – we like the fact that the Carnival excursions have some sense of "guarantee" about them. Hence, we will probably keep doing that, rather than go out on our own – at least for the next few cruises.
Enrichment: Here was a major surprise. My wife and I had a free hour so we wandered into an art lecture. It was not only educational; it was also entertaining. I've never known much about art, but I learned plenty. We were interested enough to go to both art auctions and actually bought a few pieces for our home – daily reminders of the fun we had.
Service: On my business travels, throughout the world, I have had time to stay at some of the finest hotels. None could compare to the friendliness and efficiency of our cabin steward. More than polite, he always seemed to be just around the corner, treating us as if we were his only concern. I really can't even guess how many rooms he was assigned to. Plus, he helped us understand some of the little nuances of cruising; never making us feel out of place for asking silly questions.
Our waiter was second to none. In fact, we wrote to Carnival, to see if they already have waiter assignments for August so that we could come to his table again. As I mentioned above, we let him run our dinners. He had a sense of humor that fit exactly with the four of us at our table. His selections were always well done, even if we didn't care for them. In fact, he seemed to have a hidden microphone – every time someone shared a particular dish that another really liked, he would have another one right on the spot for each to have their own. Plus he was more than happy to answer many first-timer questions, like where does the staff stay, how long are their shifts, whom did he leave at home, etc. (We just got some small T-shirts from home to send to his 11-month old triplets in Poland.)
Value: This is always very important to us. And we were blown away. For the relatively low cost, we received the best vacation we have ever had. The only sad part was the day we had to leave. It's been a week, and we've already booked another 7-day cruise on Carnival for six months from now.