Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Bob Bush "The Wack" Eastern Caribbean November 25, 2006
I have just completed my 14th cruise, and the 4th on a Carnival ship, and my second 8 dayer. My group comprised 11 adults: 3 married couples (30-50yrs) a 35yr old couple, and three single adults 28, 26 and 21yrs. I selected this ship because it was new and I loved the itinerary. I had read so much about the Noro virus that was prevalent on this ship on its trans-Atlantic crossing, but I was not concerned in the least as I figured Carnival DOES not want folks to get sick, a little common sense will go a long way. If some folks cancel, it will result in more fun and more room for me to enjoy.
Embarkation: The normal mass confusion, but I was standing in the shade, and once inside the main building processing moved quickly, Carnival needs to invest in a microphone system for a few supervisors so they could make announcements instead of shouting at the crowd. We got to the port about 11:30 AM and were on board by about 1:00 PM.Expect to wait and be a little hot, but I have yet to go through a painless embarkation, just go with the flow.
Cabins: I always book the cheapest inside; but got a great price on an outside cabin and booked it. The rest of my group except for one other couple had inside cabins and everyone was happy. I had read stories about the small size of the bathrooms, I am average size person and so is my wife, but it was never a problem. Do not expect a large bathroom; the ones provided are ample in size. The rooms are nicely decorated and there are a few new features within the room, like ordering pay per view TV movies. Also, you can check your ship charges and the different dining menus, plus you get a sports channel. The room is well laid out with lots of storage space, a small couch, dresser. The bathroom had a nice soap and shampoo stocked dispenser as well as some nice complimentary toiletries. Note: the seas where a little rough with high winds, so if you have a balcony -- Good luck! I.d rather save the money to spend on something else.
Dining/Food: Overall, dinner food in the main dining room was my biggest disappointment. I ate breakfast at the Lido buffet and got so fed up with standing in line that I switched to the dining room and I am glad I did. Service was commendable and you do get a few items not served in the buffet (for example, salmon locks, eggs benedict). Lunch included a variety of buffet stations on the Lido deck, but once again I recommend you check out the lunch at the dinning room before deciding, some items are different. Be warned that some lines at the LIDO buffet are excessively long and move slowly (this is hard to describe, but this process seems flawed). The dinner menu presented the biggest disappointment: meat dishes were very tough and overcooked. Even lobster was tough! The majority of the other dishes were fair to middling and nothing to brag about. Appetizers were average, mind you some of the fish dishes were excellent, but after experiencing so many fine meals on my other cruises (including my Carnival cruises) I was highly disappointed. I did not eat at Supper Club as I thought the $30 price was steep.
Public Rooms: Simply beautiful! The ship was decorated in a garden-like atmosphere and the atrium is fabulous. The ship is designed with its 4th and 5th decks serving as the main hub of activity, i.e. with shops, a casino, lounges, photo, library main traffic area. One of the newest onboard attractions is a HUGE TV screen on deck #10 overlooking the pool. This screen displayed various scenes of aquatic life during the day, but evening showings included movies and some important football games. This TV caught a lot of attention -- a novel idea.
Entertainment: In the evening, you will find music playing at several locations throughout the ship. There is a piano bar, also variety music in the Victoria Lounge, and Karaoke at the stage lounge was jam packed each night I went. In addition, the Atrium features a band that plays into the wee small hours of the morning. During the afternoon at the Atrium there is classical violin music and it is a great place to have a drink while people watching. The disco was disappointing and the casino is the casino they even have a 7 card Texas hold em table (expect a wait). I was disappointed in the shows offered at the Venetian place (the main stage) which consisted mainly of dancing. There was one comedian, but the rest was singing and dancing. I am not a fan of nightly singing and dancing. I would like more variety, oh well!. A fun night was the final Legends Night where some wannabe Karaoke passengers performed and had a ball. There was a midnight adult comedy, but overall the shows were lacking.
Excursions: We embarked at three terrific ports. I never take the ship excursions because I think they are too expensive. I usually go on my own excursions which tend to be on the adventurous side and not for everyone. On this cruise, however, I experienced three wonderful and unique excursions that I recommend to anyone who has a sense of adventure. Drop me a thread and I will elaborate.
Activities: The variety of usual ship activities (trivia, bean bag toss, newly not so newly wed games, etc.) are offered, but not much in terms of athletic or survivor type games. Bingo (I always play bingo) is offered at a reasonable price which include decent money pots for the winners. There is more than enough to occupy you, and you can always attend the art auction and drink free champagne. You can also window shop in the Mall area.
Disembarkation: Much improved. You can take your own bags off during the first hour, otherwise it goes by deck and numbers, no real issue, just hated to get off. Expect the normal hassle getting a cab.
Overall: Very nice ship with a terrific itinerary. Carnival seems to be working hard trying to come up with new and innovative ideas, but seems to miss on the small items that make a huge difference during a cruise. Example, there were far too many onboard announcements promoting, hawking Carnival products. Tipping at the end of the cruise is minimized as each passenger is assessed a charge to their rooms bills. I found this to be a major improvement and a change for the better. I think everybody needs to consider this ship; it was one of my best cruise experiences, and I would not hesitate to recommend this ship to anybody. The Wack
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Robert Ksiazyk Western Europe October 21, 2006
Below is the letter sent to Carnival Cruise lines along with their Survey card.
Dear Sir or Madam:
We are taking this opportunity to include additional comments to the enclosed comment card, regarding the recent European cruise on board the Carnival ship Liberty. The entire trip was booked through CCL so no travel agent has been involved.
The timing on the flights could not have been any better. Other than the enormous lines, which are normal these days, the timing, seating and choice of airlines could not be improved upon.
We retrieved our luggage at the airport and placed them with the other luggage as directed. At that time our three pieces of luggage were in good shape. Later that day when they arrived at our cabin, one wheel and part of the frame was missing from one of the pieces. I immediately asked the cabin steward where I would go to claim the damage. I was told that the ship is not responsible and there is no one to go to.
Cabin 8448 is a corner cabin with a balcony,which is what we had requested and hoped we would get. A few days into the cruise, we received a notice that the following morning maintenance would be working on the balconies so we should make sure our drapes are drawn shut for privacy. Being in the casino late at night, we put out the "privacy please" sign so that we could sleep as long as we wanted. It was approximately 7:30 AM when the noise started. Scraping, hammering, sanding etc. was more than enough to wake us up. The maintenance people were working on the cabin balcony next to us, replacing window glass that required removing the caulking material with electric grinders.
They worked all day on all the cabins but ours. I'm assuming that is because of our "privacy please" sign. Our neighbor who had left his cabin for breakfast before maintenance came, was surprised to come back to open doors through to the balcony, tools in the cabin along with an extension cord running to a battery charger on the bed. When he left the ship for the day, he returned to all the scrapings on the deck that had not been cleaned up. He had to call the cabin steward to clean it.
Naturally, with the maintenance going on, we could not use our balcony the entire day. We have cruised on the Ecstasy, Imagination and the Sensation. All of the cruises have been perfect for us, which is why we keep coming back to CCL. We have never had any complaints about the food but the food on the Liberty was a huge disappointment for us. I am including the dining room food and the Lido deck food.
First time cruisers may have found the food to their liking, but this was not the case with us, or our dining partners. There were too many times that we were asked if we would like "something else", because of the amount of food left. Without going into too much detail, I will say that most of the food served in the dining room, the meat especially, was dry and tasteless.
The food on the Lido Deck was similar. No matter what the theme, the food tasted the same.
There were also service issues that I would like to point out.
Running out of food: For breakfast raisins were available for the cereal. Half way through the cruise, when we asked where they were, we were told, "we're out of raisin and butter too".
Orange Juice, which I feel is a staple for any breakfast was non-existent or hard to find. We didn't see any for three or four days and when we did, when I went back for a second glass, I got more water than juice. No other to be found anywhere.
The same coffee and juice stations are being used by both, the service staff and the passengers. There were times that I came upon a line for coffee because we were waiting for the staff member to fill the pots and pitchers. The last time this happened, I went for a cup of coffee while she was still there and found the coffee was empty. I told her that is was empty and she told me to go to the other station. I asked if I could get a cup from the pot on her cart and was again told to go to the other station. Why don't they fill them in the kitchen area??
The fresh sandwiches from the deli rates an A+ and the pre cooked hamburgers from the grill rate an F.
We booked this cruise to tour Europe and we enjoyed that very much. We also enjoyed the entertainment including the casino action. Beyond that, I have to say that this was not what we would consider a "Fun Ship".
Thank you for taking the time to read about our experience and I hope these complaints will prompt some improvements on the Carnival Liberty.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Vincent the Dutch boy Western Mediterranean May 19, 2006
I flew into Rome the day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Sun Park Bay Hotel in Civitavecchia; I had also stayed there six months earlier. It’s a nice hotel -- nothing special, but a good place to stay for a few nights. The best thing about this hotel is the breathtaking view from your balcony to the Mediterranean sea. European breakfast is included. It’s only five minutes to the port by taxi.
Embarkation, I arrived at the cruise terminal at noon, and there were no lines at all. Check-in took a few minutes and than I had to wait until 12.30 p.m. to board. My group and I had our welcome aboard photo taken, and the Carnival photographer remembered me from my cruise last year, so we had a talk and a good laugh. Boarding the ship was very easy and pleasant.
Cabin I booked a balcony cabin 8301 (category 8C). I always book a mid-ship cabin because I think it’s the most stable part of the ship. The cabin itself was great again.I never saw my room steward, but the room was always clean and the towel animals were a lust for the eye.
Cruise director The first thing I did on the Liberty was to go to my cabin and look at the Capers newsletter. That’s when I did another happy dance: I was thrilled to see that John Heald was the cruise director again. I had so much fun with him last year; he is the best cruise director of the entire fleet. I never noticed the CD in the past until I had John as a CD. You just know that you're going to laugh all through the cruise, and we did!
I looked forward to see the morning and afternoon shows with John, as well as all the other shows he did. On the first formal night (the Captain’s cocktail party), the first sea day, I saw John and thought maybe he still remembers me from last year. And yes, he still remembered me. John introduced me to his Dutch wife Heidi and we had a nice talk in Dutch. Heidi lives in the Netherlands only a few minutes from my home address. What are the odds? I recommend to everybody to take a cruise with John Heald. He told me that he was leaving the ship after this cruise for vacation, but he will be back in a few months, and next year he will be the CD on the new Carnival Freedom.
The Ship The Carnival Liberty is new and is in excellent condition. Off course you have to like its interior. I thought it looked great. The lights in the Atrium and promenade change colors, but somehow it was not disturbing to me at all. The layout is not as good as on the Spirit Class ships (they are the best, with two unobstructed decks from front to aft), but if you have cruised Carnival before, you can easily find your way around the ship.
The food The food on board was just excellent, with plenty of choices. All the food was very tasty, fresh and warm. I cruised the Triumph two years ago and the food was not half this good, so I was pleased that they improved this. Harry’s Supper Club was also of good quality. The only thing I didn’t like that much was the desserts. Overall I think the food in the dining rooms and the supper club are the same. That says a lot about the excellent food in the dining rooms -- and you don’t have to pay the extra $30. I was in the Silver dining room and the service there was even better than last year. Our table had fantastic waiters -- Roberto and Lady from the Philippines -- and they really worked very hard to serve us.
Ports of Call. First we went to Naples. I didn’t go ashore. I had only been onboard a few hours onboard and I went on deck to get a tan. It was nice and quiet, and even the slide was open in port so I enjoyed myself with that. The other members of my group went to Pompeii and they liked it very much. When other guests returned, I heard everybody speak of Capri, the island. It must be an amazing, beautiful place. But I'm from Europe and if I want to go there I can just drive to Naples.
Dubrovnik, Croatia. This was the port that impressed me the most. What a beautiful country -- lots of mountains, and Dubrovnik is a very nice town. I took a taxi for one hour (40 euros) and did some sight-seeing. We went up in the mountains and had breathtaking views of the sea and Dubrovnik itself. Hard to believe that there was a war going on only 10 years ago. We could still see some damage but 99 percent was very nicely rebuilt. All the houses with orange roofs were damaged in the war and rebuilt. (Well, almost every house has an orange roof). Then the taxi took us to the city center and we walk around for a few hours, did some shopping, some drinking on the terraces and walked on the city wall. Then took a taxi back to the ship for 10 euros.
Venice A great port of call. The ship arrived at the entrance of the Canal at noon, and then took a one hour “drive” through the canal to the docking area. It was just beautiful to see the ship go right through Venice and all its sights. You get an excellent idea of Venice before you get off the ship. The ship docked at 2 p.m. and we got off at 3 p.m. We took the shuttle bus (5 euros roundtrip) to get a Vaporetto (waterbus) -- public transportation in Venice because there are no cars in the city . You can take a water taxi but that will cost you lots of money. The waterbuses cost 5 euros per person one way. We went to see all of Venice and ended up in the famous St Mark’s square with all its pigeons. Then we went back to the ship for dinner in the Lido restaurant, and afterwards we went on the Gondola tour at night. Although it rained it was a fantastic experience, but expensive -- $100 per person -- to go through the narrow canals, with great live music. We ended again at St Mark’s square where we had 1.5 hours of free time before we were taken back to the ship. We were a little wet from the ride in the gondola so we decided to have a cappuccino. We ordered three cappuccinos and had to pay 32 euros, or about $40. We knew this in advance but the music was very nice, and life’s worth it.
Messina Italy We went on the new Carnival tour -- the Etna 2,900 Meter Tour goes straight up the mountain by cable car and 4x4 trucks, to 9000 feet. We walked around for about 30 minutes. The view is incredible but you have to be in good condition to do this tour. There the temperature was really cold, but they told us in advance, so I was prepared. I was wearing jeans, a sweater and a nice thick winter jacket. The temperature was at the freezing level, because we had lots of wind. The tour guide told us that it was possible to rent coats at the cable car station in case somebody forget to bring warm clothes. The weather must be clear, otherwise it's a waste of money. There is really not much to do in Messina itself. You have to go on a tour in this place. I heard a lot of good things of Taormina, and you can also do both tours in one.
Barcelona Barcelona is a great city. We went on our own tour. We took the Carnival shuttle to La Rambla and there we took a taxi. Taxis are very cheap. We visited the Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Gaudi. The church is 100 years old but still isn’t finished. But you get a great impression of this immense place and you can go up the two towers (2 euros per person roundtrip) and see Barcelona from above. From there we took another taxi to the famous shopping street La Rambla with all its terraces and shops. We ate tapas and drank beer. What a great city.
Cannes Cannes is the only port where we had to tender. The Liberty can’t dock there. We just walked around Cannes, did some shopping and relaxed at one of the many sidewalk cafes. We would have loved to go to Monaco, but the day before was the Grand Prix, and it was a mess in Monaco so we just stayed in Cannes.
Livorno We didn’t go to Livorno. The weather was too bad and the ship couldn’t dock safely. It's safety first, so the ship went farther south and we had an extra day at sea, which wasn’t that bad. There are so many ports on this cruise that it was nice to have the extra day at sea and relax, because it was the last day of the cruise.
I had a blast from day one until the end. It was my eighth Carnival cruise and definitely not my last.
Feel free to ask me any questions or send me an email: email@example.com
Vincent The Netherlands Cruise History: 1990 Mardi Gras, 1993 Jubilee, 1998 Imagination, 2002 Fantasy, 2003 Carnival Spirit (panama canal), 2004 Carnival Triumph, 2005 Carnival Liberty (transatlantic) 2006 Carnival Liberty (Mediterranean)
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Laura Western Caribbean March 12, 2006
We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the evening prior to the cruise and had a room booked at the Hampton Inn - Airport. When we arrived they had overbooked and after 45 minutes of trying to find a room for us they finally found one which was much nicer and closer to the port.
On Sunday a.m. we arrived to board the ship at 11:45 a.m. There was already a long line, but it moved quickly and check-in was a breeze. Upon boarding the ship we were greeted by two violinists and a pianist. The ship is absolutely beautiful and we were amazed at how clean the ship was. We always saw crew members cleaning, waxing, painting, etc.
We went to the Lido Deck where we enjoyed the most delicious burgers and fries along with the drink of the day. Following the muster drill we finally began to cruise!!! We had a 6:15 p.m. dinner time and so enjoyed our singing waiter, Erich. He was a doll and aimed to please. Following dinner we played Bingo (which we found out rather quicklythat we wouldn't be participating in this activity.) The Cruise Director, John Heard was wonderful. He had everyone laughing throughout the entire evening. We were very tired so we decided to retire for the evening.
MONDAY was a day at sea. We enjoyed breakfast at Emille and set out to see more of the ship. We took in the shops (don't get to excited) and spent time on the Lido Deck as well as the casino. We attended the Captain's Cocktail Party which was a farce (we never saw the Captain and never could get a waiter to come to our table to receive a drink.) We then went to the Captain's Dinner and once again our singing waiter, Erich entertained us as did all the waiters. The food was so delicious and we did have our picture taken.
TUESDAY - Freeport - Don't waste your time getting off the ship. What a disappointment this stop was. The island has been damaged extensively by one of last season's hurricanes. Not much shopping either. Can't speak about any excursions as we didn't take any. We decided to eat supper at Emille's and went to the Broadway Show which was very entertaining.
WEDNESDAY - Grand Cayman - Much nicer than Freeport. We decided not to do any excursions, but did take in the shops. Shopping was o.k., but nothing to get excited about. The beaches were very nice. Ate supper at Emille's.
THURSDAY - Costa Maya - Our favorite stop! Very clean and the shopping was great. Again, we didn't sign up to do any excursions. Ate at Emille's again. We spent most of the evening in Glove's Bar watching the NCAA Tournament.
FRIDAY - Day at Sea. - Not to much to do on this day. Bingo is an option for those interested. We spent quite a bit of time on the Lido Deck and in Glove's Bar, again watching the NCAA Tournament Games. We ate supper in the formal dining room and said goodby to Erich. We attended the embarkation program with our Cruise Director, John.
SATURDAY - We took advantage of the self-assist program and were off the ship by 8:30 a.m. Going through customs was not difficult at all.We really enjoyed our cruise on the Liberty. We had a balcony room on the 10th floor and it was quite spacious. We were very close the elevator and really didn't hear to much noise, except for an occasional door slamming. The crew was extremely nice and helpful with any questions that we had. There was tons of college kids on spring break on our ship. They were very well behaved and we never once saw any one drunk or acting stupid, but did see quite a bit of security, which was a good feeling. We grew very tired of the same breakfast food at Emille's and basically the same food for supper. A variety would have been nice and wished that the grill would stay open later than 6:00 p.m. The chocolate buffet was wonderful. Felt that this boat was fairly easy to get around once you figured out the deck plans. We would definately recommend the Carnival Liberty ship.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by sunlover Eastern Caribbean March 4, 2006
Spent a week in Palm Beach before cruise and the great weather got us all excited!! This was our 4th cruise and our 1st on Carnival. We were pleasantly surprised. Will break it down into categories to try and keep it short! Embarkation-a snap--there around 11:00 or so, on the ship by noon! Did seem crazy the people getting off and trying to find a cab.
Ship-We thought it was very nice, easy to find our way around. Had a drink at a bar every night before supper, and we enjoyed the many different ones they had on board. Must see them all! Our cabin was an inside. We had plenty of room--on the Upper Deck(6). Heard no noise other than the usual banging of doors or people in the hall. Husband wore ear plugs and was fine. This ship had much more movement than any other we have been on. I was sick one night. Everyone we talked to commented on the movement all week. We had bathrobes even in the inside cabin.
Food: The best we have hadon any cruise, except the selections in the formal dining room we felt, went downhill after the first 2 days. You can get a steak if you do not like anything. Also, my husband wanted a shrimp cocktail every night and our waiter said no. When we saw another table with it on a night not offered and questioned him, he then said we had to put in a special order with the maitre'd. We did and he had one every night after. The service was slow in the dining room, but not that bad. They are definitely overworked. We felt our waiter had way too many tables. Fish and Chips were great. Also at the deli the hot turkey and cheese and the rueben was great. Hamburgs were good and so was the pizza. I came home with 6 extra pounds so it must have been!!
Ports: Did a nice carriage ride in San Juan.
In St. Thomas did the BOB underwater excursion and we were disappointed. A lot of money and it wasn't worth it. Didn't see much at all. SHould have did an island tour. We also did the trolley and that was great and you should do it at least once to see the view. We did NOT dock at Havensight. Be careful when getting on a taxi. The man at the dock assured us we would be taken to the trolley and the taxi stopped downtown(halfway), said he could go no further.(These were the big taxis at the dock.) We walked rest of way.(we are walkers so no big deal.) When we got one back we made sure he would take us all the way to the ship.(Cost was 5.00 from Havensight)
In Antigua we did the 2 man power boats. Alot of fun and it was great. This was the port I will never shop at again. They were way too pushy at the market.
Tortola was absolutely beautiful. Our favorite stop although we would never do the Baths at Virgin Gorda again. Again, waste of money. It was rough, ferry ride was a little scary and we didn't get much time there. Next time, again we would do an island tour. Found good shopping right off the ship. Never once did anyone bug us. We would ask a price, bargain and it was a nice day!!
Nassau-went to the public beach and parasailed, looked at Atlantis, and shopped. Nice day here too, except we have been there 3 times before. If you want to do any parasailing or beach things, grab a cab(4.00) and go to the public beach. Plenty of time to do it on your own. Had lunch at Senor Frogs for something different, as always that was fun and right down from the ship!
Entertainment on the ship was ok-The comedian, Percy was fabulous. Also in the bar The Stage, they are great, go see Motown and their Beatlemania. Cruise Director Butch Begovich was ok, nothing great. Also found the activites around the pool were constantly interrupted because of equipment failure or announcements which could be annoying.
Sorry, people who hate chair savers. If you plan on laying out, I found at 7 a.m. people were already doing it,especially on sea days. I would get up get 2 chairs and read out there till my husband came. Only one time we had a couple save 2 chairs beside and never came back till they just came to gather their stuff. That is annoying and ridiculous. Never used the chairs and someone else could have. The chairs were full all over the ship everyday.
One gripe I have is this: Example, my husband drinks Odouls. At one place it would be 2.75 and at another it would be 3.50. ?? it but never got a straight answer from the bartender. Went to the piano bar for the captain's greet thing. Never saw him, but the whiskey sours were good and free!!
Disembarkation-a snap and we were off at 9:30 and was in no hurry since we were staying the night in Ft. Lauderdale.
All in all, we had a wonderful time. We will definitely sail Carnival again.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Sea Trekker Panama Canal February 18, 2006
The Liberty is a mega liner,120,000 g.t. A really beautiful ship and easy to get around. We departed Ft. Lauderdale on time,5:00pm for Costa Rica, Mexico,& Panama. We found out schools were on winter break for N.Y. so lots of familys on board. No problems with kids and all were well behaved. The pools were very crowded so we spent our time aound the aft where it was adults only. the big screen t.v. showed movies at night and music during the day. Once I looked at the screen & saw a flight over an Alaskan ice field and heard the Beach boys singing surf songs.Had a good laugh.
Food was suprisingly very good. Other CCL ships we did not like it. Most of our meals were in the Silver Olympian dine. We tried the buffet, but the selection was limited. Also enjoyed the deli, oriental,fish & chips,Pizza.Shopping on board was great with specials every day,ie: gold & jewerly,t-shirts. The shows were fantastic! The dancers really work hard. The star act was Chris Allan Grave who did a tributeto Frank Sanatra, Sammy Davis. Very good show. There were some rough seas for a day.On lido deck,the crew kept everything nice and clean. In fact you had to guard plates if a table mate got up to get something else.I will post a review of the shore excursions on ports of call.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Vincent & Mary Finelli Western Caribbean January 29, 2006
The Liberty joins the Conquest Class of Carnival's Fleet of 21 ships. She is the first Carnival ship to cruise the Mediterranean Sea and Europe. From July to October 2005 the Liberty sailed out of Civitavecchia, Rome, Italy offering eight twelve day round trip cruises to Naples, Messina, Venice, and Livorno, Italy; it also sailed east to Dubrovnik, Croatia and west to Cannes, France and Barcelona, Spain. From these ports of call passengers were offered over 80 different excursions to famous destinations such as Capri, Venice, Pisa, Florence and even Monte Carlo, Monaco. This was the Liberty's maiden cruise itinerary, which Carnival augmented with pre or post cruise packages of one to three additional days in Rome. This is very attractive since Rome, the Eternal City, should never be a one day trip! We know this for sure after living in Rome, while on sabbatical in 1981. We found the academic year (9 months) not sufficient for the many beautiful attractions of Bella Roma. Three extra days will at least provide an overview of the grandeur that isRome.
Significantly, on October 12, 2005 (Columbus Day), the Liberty made its first transatlantic crossing and began it inaugural season in the Caribbean. April 2006 the Liberty will return to the Mediterranean and her European cruise itinerary. This new Carnival itinerary is an exciting one for Americans and the Liberty was designed for it. Its decor celebrates artisans and their wonderful creations.
EMBARKATION With Sunday Traffic on I-95 at a minimum, Ft. Lauderdale is only twenty-five minutes from our home in Boca Raton, Florida --- an excellent place to live for "Frequent Floaters." The baggage drop off was peculiar; even though our auto was clearly marked handicapped, we were directed to the left; even though there were right side drop offs. After depositing our luggage, we had to cross over through traffic to get to the entrance. This was harrowing. Once on the other side, we were sent through the VIP entrance with the wheelchair. From here on boarding was a cinch. We were given assistance with the wheelchair after check in, and we were in our stateroom in twenty minutes. This was our third cruise on a Conquest Class ship in the past five months, so we are very familiar with its layout.
Thus, our first bit of business was to change reservations from the Silver Olympian Dining Room, which was all the way aft, to the centrally located Golden Olympian Dining Room. This would make our dinners more pleasant, since the only wheelchair accessible staterooms with balconies are located all the way forward in the prow of the ship. More on these logistics later. Our reservations were easily adjusted for us by the dining room staff, we went directly to the excellent buffet.
THE SHIP The Carnival Liberty, launched the summer of 2005, was christened by Mira Sorvino (Hollywood and Oscar fame). The Liberty was built at the venerable Fincantieri Shipyards in Italy. She is hull number 6,111 and is a beauty. Among the largest cruise ships in the world, she is equipped with 22 lounges and bars; a stunning 1,500 seat Venetian Palace Theater, plus a Seaside Theater for watching films and concerts under the stars (featuring a 270 sq. ft. Jumbo screen and a state of the art 70,000 watt sound system providing concert quality sound), a novelty at sea first seen on the Caribbean Princess. This cruise featured concerts by Tom Jones, Placido Domingo, and James Taylor among others.
The Liberty is 952 ft. long, and 116 ft wide and weighs 110,000 tons. She has 1,487 staterooms of which 60% are ocean view and 60% of these have balconies. Capacity is 2,974 (two passengers per cabin) and a maximum of 3700. Joseph Farcus, Carnival architect, commissioned a group of artists to create pieces which celebrate "great artisans and their works." In a series of 6' X 9' aluminum panels, made specifically for the ship's central staircases, artist Calman Shemi features iron workers, sculptors, glass blowers and jewelry designers at work. Artist Virginia Ferrara created 6' X 15' tropical views of South Florida with palm trees, floral and water allusions, which were placed by the stair landings. Luciano Vistosi's colorful blown glass pieces are illuminated from the rear. Placed near the swimming pools on Deck 9 are the bronze sculptures of Susanna Holt: an Anhinga bird drying its spread out wings in the sun; Sea lions lounging; and a standing Stag and Doe. The Anhinga is very appropriate to South Florida, but we wish it had been much larger like those over the El Rio Canal in our back yard.
Mr. Farcus carries out his homage to true craftsmen by exploring a particular craft in each room on board, which then is combined in the whole ship. The first expression of this is found in the Grand Villa Garden Lobby (9 decks tall) with the black wrought iron around columns and balconies in a "curlicue" pattern design. The same pattern is repeated in the 20 feet in diameter black wrought iron chandelier with torch lights which constantly change colors. The chandelier is best viewed from Deck 5 while the changing colors add ambiance. It is a tour de force of iron working! The potters' world is also displayed here with hundreds of terra cotta medallions and wall pottery jardinieres filled with lavender bougainvillea vines. The extensive use of marble and tile flooring throughout this ship make it easy going for those in wheelchairs.
Deck 0 houses the Medical Center and the tender facilities.
Riviera Deck 1 and Main Deck 2 are all staterooms.
Lobby Deck 3 forward has the beautiful Venetian Palace Theater with two gigantic Harlequin clowns flanking the stage. Decorations include classic Venetian masks worn during carnival season. There are Murano red and gold glass tiled walls and of course, the traditional striped poles where gondolas are moored. Excellent theater, except for those seats behind several columns which contribute to passengers playing "musical chairs" in order to locate seats with a clear view of the stage. Midship are the Information & Excursion Desks, and the Lobby Bar in the Atrium. Next, there are two small Dining Rooms ---- the Persian and Satin Rooms. The Golden Olympian Restaurant is located here with three huge Venetian Murano Crystal Chandeliers with interesting lavender flowers (daffodils?). There are 16 smaller matching chandeliers on each floor of the restaurant. There is a golden balustrade circling the room and a double staircase to Deck 4. Accent lighting above the chandeliers gives a warm red glow to the room, as if it were a red and gold 18th century theater! Fine flatware are showcased in vitrines around the walls. Next, going toward aft, is the galley followed by the Conservatory Atrium (three decks tall) and then the Silver Restaurant, decorated as the Golden, only the colors match the names.
Atlantic Deck 4 forward is the theater, then, toward midship is the Photo Gallery & Studio. Next is the Antiquarian Library only open two hours per day. After which is the Empress Club and the balcony of the Golden Restaurant. Aft are three highly individual rooms The Tapestry, Web and the Cabinet (this last features Cabinetry in the German Biedermeier style) and finally the second level of the Silver Olympic Restaurant.
Promenade Deck 5 forward is the balcony of the theater; midship are the Fashion Boulevard Shops, Formalities and the interesting Sports Bar featuring leather gloves worn in all sorts of sports (the many red leather boxing gloves are great). There is the Origami Sushi Bar (Excellent! Serving daily from 5:30 to 8:30pm). Aft there are three more bars each unique: Hot & Cool Disco, features body art and tattoos on body parts: hands, arms and legs. There is the Paparazzi Wine Bar with a series of Leica M-3 Cameras lenses, like those used by the Paparazzi of the 1950s. The Piano Man Bar has the undulating piano keys around the ceiling of the room and modern white leather chairs. WOW!
Upper Deck 6, Empress Deck 7 and Verandah Deck 8 are all staterooms.
Lido Deck 9 has staterooms forward, then the Stage, Tivoli Pool, and aft Emile's Buffet Restaurant, an excellent Pizzeria (pizza made on order too) & Grille and finally the Versailles Pool and Bar with a sliding dome.
Panorama Deck 10 forward has staterooms and midship the Coney Island Pool and Harry's Club, an upscale restaurant with a menu by the well known French Chef Georges Blanc. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe his contribution to the Liberty's cuisine. In Harry's (named after Harry Winston, jeweler to the rich and famous) neatly displayed in vitrines are dozens of copies of Mr. Winston's highly prized designs. Aft there is the Fish & Chips; away from the crowd, this is a nice area frequented by very few passengers.
Spa Deck 11 forward has some suites and the Spa and Gym; aft is the Sports Deck and the Jogging track.
Sun Deck 12 has the children's areas, the Kid's Pool and Camp Carnival. There is no Deck 13.
Sky Deck 14 has the entrance to the water slide. This is a big ship with many beautiful venues and lots to do.
SERVICE & FOOD Naturally, the most important person on board is the Captain because he spearheads the service on board. Captain Marco Nogara (Italy) is a very active and friendly commander. His bearing is one of an excellent host, but also one of authority. He has the appearance of just stepping off the cover of "GQ" Magazine. Hotel Director Guna Chellan (India) is very knowledgeable about the ship and her many amenities; he graciously answered all of our questions. Guest Relations Director Leslie Baland made herself available to all passengers. Her assistant Christine Budaha was a whiz at making our cruise a pleasure. When we just asked of a possibility --- it was done! Fantastic.
We dined the first evening on the main floor of the Golden restaurant with wonderful service from our waiters Dan and Ivan. However, Maitre D' Suresh, in order to accommodate a large family group, requested if he could moved us to the balcony of the Golden. Must be Karma, because we now had a beautiful table for two overlooking the grand staircase and two of the nicest servers: Lady and Lucio.
The dining staff Manager Branimir Plovanic (Croatia) enthusiastically told us about Monsieur Blanc's contributions to the new menus on board, and we certainly approved of the French influence and style. Magnifique! The portions and presentation were much improved. Carnival President & CEO Bob Dickinson has made a special effort to improve the level of cuisine on board, and we feel he has achieved it with the world-renowned Chef Georges Blanc, who has had for many years a three star rating by Michelin. We feel this was a great move since the Carnival Liberty spends her summers in Europe. President Dickinson has also started a new Presidential Wine Club which is for both novices and connoisseurs. It is sort of a Wine of the Month Club aimed at introducing members to various famous and new wines. Vincent believes that Carnival has an excellent wine selection.
The food on board is fresh, delicately seasoned and elegantly presented. Food and service in the main dining rooms and in Emile's Buffet and elsewhere on board is very good. In this review we will give the specifics on Harry's Club, Panorama Deck 10 ($30 per person fee). This is a must do for passengers on the Liberty. We have only seen one other restaurant at sea that was as elegant as this one: The Olympic on Celebrity's Millennium, which had the original wood paneling and wine cellar from the White Star Lines Olympic (sister ship to the doomed Titanic). At Harry's we had a wonderfully special evening: wined and dined and the lovely Hostess Isabella filled us in on the fabulous Harry Winston jewelry featured in the many vitrines and pointed out the gigantic "diamond" light necklace which surrounds the room and displays huge emerald cut "yellow diamonds" as pendants. Beautiful music, delicious food and excellent cuisine, it was just perfect!
There are two menus, a traditional A La Carte that Vincent enjoyed and the special "Degustation Menu" which Mary savored immensely. While the Sommelier Ciprian (Romania) and the excellent waitress Tina served us so elegantly, the eight courses from Georges Blanc's menus just kept coming. This is more of a taster's presentation: small portions of exquisitely prepared delicacies. If this is not your cup of tea, there is always the 24 oz. Porterhouse steak! Having dined in the degustation manner many times in Italy, we know it is for gourmets who really want to taste, not gorge. Here we go, the eight courses are as follows:1. Chilled Asparagus soup. 2. Shrimp and salmon appetizers. 3. Creamy Lobster Bisque Veloute` with Brandy. 4. Succulent Chilean Sea Bass and olive cake. 5. Campari and Citrus Sorbet to cleanse the palate. 6. Chicken with Fois Gras, oyster and mushroom sauce. 7. Filet Mignon, and Beef Tartar with chilled Bernaise cream. 8. The Grand Finale, Chef's special dessert Chocolate Tartufe with fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries) with sherbet.
Vincent's appetizers, sides and veal chop were also perfectly prepared and served. But, every night in the main dining rooms the food and service were also wonderful. The new Georges Blanc contribution to Carnival is a culinary triumph. It brings new food opportunities to Carnival passengers, but still maintains some classic American standbys.
CABIN Stateroom #6208 is one of only two wheelchair accessible cabins with a balcony on board. All other wheelchair accessible cabins are obstructed view or inside. It is situated in the prow of the ship; even more forward than the Bridge. From our balcony we looked toward the rear above us to see the Bridge. This was most obvious when checking the Liberty Deck Plan. This cabin is as far from the elevators and ship activities as possible; needless to say it is not physically appropriate for people with limited mobility. Recently, we have cruised on three ships of this class and have decided that in the future the best way for us to cruise on these ships would be in a cabin close to the elevators, near the center, possibly a suite.
This cabin has an automatic door, which is very convenient. Upon entering on the left is a single armoire and straight ahead is the huge bathroom with an oversized shower with safety rails all around. There is a single sink with a mirror, but not enough shelves for toiletries. There is a queen size bed with two night stands. On the right side is a double armoire, a personal safe, refrigerator, TV, and a lighted mirrored vanity/desk with an upholstered stool. There are two coffee tables and an upholstered arm chair. The far wall is glassed with a door that opens onto the minuscule balcony with two chairs and a table and not much room for anything else. Fortunately, Alla our wonderful stewardess removed the table, so that we could more easily utilize the balcony.
The colors were red, orange and gold, the walls were decorated with two brightly colored Shemi paintings of artisans practicing their craft of printing. Alla surprised us with hand made towel animals and wonderful white puff quilts and linens with romantic maps and designs --- very chic! Thank you, Alla.
ENTERTAINMENT Cruise Director Brent Mitchell has a busy group. The main show "Wonderful World" on the first formal night was a terrific review of music and dance from around the world. The costumes were sumptuous and the featured singers Adrian Hull and Jassen Allen sparkled. The John Piazza Jr. Big Band sound is full and very enjoyable. During the cruise there were two featured entertainers, who were funny and worthy of mention: Comedienne Carol Hughes as the average house wife, and Jerry Goodspeed a clever ventriloquist. The variety of entertainment was a good mix. The "TODAY" at a glance is a list of events, times and places on a small handy tear out sheet. The "Fun Ship" lived up to its motto.
DEBARKATION The procedure was made simple and painless. Friday night, we put our luggage out at 11pm with VIP tags; we were told we could debark whenever we were ready after 8:00am. We had Continental breakfast in our cabin, and at 8:30am we called down to the Guest Relations Desk and a crew member came up to help us with the wheelchair. We were off, collected our luggage, through passport check and customs in less than fifteen minutes. We had an uncomplicated ending to a lovely cruise.
PORTS OF CALL
Day 1. FT. Lauderdale, FL Sail Away 5:00pm
Day 2. Freeport, Bahamas Arrive 7:00am Depart 3:00pm
Day 3. At sea
Day 4. Grand Cayman Arrive 8:00am Depart 4:30pm
Day 5. Costa Maya, Mexico Port was closed due to high Seas.
Day 6. At sea
Day 7. FT. Lauderdale, FL Disembarkation begins at 8:00am
SUGGESTIONS This was our fifth cruise on Carnival ships and every time we have returned we have found improvements. This time the upscale restaurant Harry's Club is definitely a plus in the rating of the ship. We had a wonderful cruise and we'll definitely cruise again on Carnival ships. However, the location of our stateroom was not optimal, since it was the first cabin at the bow, far from the elevators and the center of the ship which is an added problem for those of us with limited mobility. In addition we could not use the balcony much due to exposure to strong wind especially when the ship was in motion. In the future, if we book again on this class ship, it will be in a suite, since the location of wheelchair accessible cabins is inappropriate for us. We feel that Carnival, as well as Costa, have to put some effort in designing appropriate accommodations for disabled passengers in regard to comfort, location and number of wheelchair accessible cabins by emulating those lines, such as Princess and RCI, which offer more user friendly accommodation to the growing number of cruisers with limited mobility. Our next cruise will be on the Costa Mediterranea on March 5th, and since this will be our third cruise on her, we know that the only wheelchair accessible cabins on this ship are either inside or obstructed view, thus we have booked a suite.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Jacqueline Western Caribbean January 21, 2006
In the early morning hours of saturday January 21 we gathered (50 people) at a parking lot to wait for the bus driving us down to Fort Lauderdale. You can imagine that nobody was really wide awake at 06.00 and most of us slept during the drive.
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale around 11.00 hrs after a dreadfull drive in an old buss with a smelly toilet, happy to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. We got in line at 11.30 and we were on board at 12.30, which is fairly quick for Carnival. My cabins was not ready yet, it was kindly requested it would take another hour or so. After that we went in, changed clothes and found out that the remote control of the television did not work and the showerdrain was blocked, we had our own tidal wave.
Our cabin steward, whom I never saw during the cruise, was not to be found and my DH asked chef Housekeeping what to do and he took care of it all. We got our remoteback later in the afternoon and the plumber came when we were on the Lido deck. Our cabin steward never came to introduce him/herself and there was also no nametag inside the cabin telling who your cabin steward is, like we had on former cruises. That was the first time we raised our eyebrows.
When we went to the Lidodeck, we always team up with our friends on the aft deck, we saw that the coffee machine was "ounder maintenance" and this was not fixed during the whole cruise, another eyebrow. The good thing is: the ice machine never failed to give ice.
The coffee machine above the buffetline at the fish and chips department had always good strong coffee, the coffee machines at the lido deck and at Emile's gave yuk coffee, just a bit of dark water ...... I know that the ships coffee is not to our taste, so I brought my own instant coffee to keep me from withdrawal symptoms.
After the musterdrill we sailed away at 17.00 hours and we had 2 seadays ahead, which we very much like. For us it is a good way to relax and get around the ship. We had a friend from Holland with us and she got lost several times, it was her first time cruising, we had a few laughs about her being lost.
Saturday night in the dining room we had to wait almost an hour to be served, which is not acceptable. Not only our table, but the table next to us, different waiter, but with our TA seated at that table, had the same problem. She was furious. It turned out that our waiter was not capable of handling two big tables and two tables for four and our busser was only 3 out of 7 8 nights visible, so our waiter was very busy. Another eyebrow.
On sunday we had breakfast at 9 aft, as always on a ship, and it took more than an hour before tables got cleaned, basically we have cleaned our tables ourselves by bringing our trays to the waiters station on the deck almost every day. Another eyebrow.
In our cabin one panel under the sink was twisted away a little, we made a remark of that, but nothing has been done about it. Another one ..
Positive thing is that the Pursers desk staff was very friendly and tried to help out on several occassions.
Another gripe is the roof over 9 aft. When there was only a little rain in sight one of the staff closed the roof immediately to leave it closed for hours. 9 aft becomes very humid, because of the pool and the hot tubs and is sickening damp. There is no other ventilation then the doors to Emiles. After a few remarks the roof was opened again, nobody gets hurt from a few drops of rain. The few staff members who were present at 9 aft where nauseas with the roof closed.
The whole Lido deck from forward to aft was not cleaned properly during the cruise, the aft deck went sticky with all the water and ice spilled on the deck. The tables were not cleaned and were sticky.
Arriving at Costa Maya it still rained, but the temperature was good. At the end of the morning we took our change, and walked down the pier to look at the shops and get the DI bracelet charm, yes I am a collector too. We had been to CM three years ago and liked it very much, but the prices have gone up trippled, which is no fun to shop. We had planned to go to the beach at Mahahual, but for the rain nobody went. We walked around a little, and went back to the ship. Some of our group did go to the beach to snorkel and had a good time. We gathered in the hot tub on 9 aft. There is no better feeling to be in the water on the water when sailing away.
We made it a habit to get to the hot tubs on the Lido deck with the big screen to watch a movie after dinner. That is very relaxing and had a good talk with some of our fellow passengers, it is nice to meet other people.
On our last night we tried the hot tub under the slide and boy, that is really HOT HOT. I could not get in, but one of our friends was very comfortable in that hot water and teased us with not getting in.
Costa Rica is very pretty, although the town is poor, but they are trying to make something out of it in bits and pieces. We booked our own tour on land and we had a great guy named Roy who took us for the city tour, tortuguero canals and a banana plantation. We saw a lot of sloths in the trees, leguana's, aligators and a lot of birds who are not in my biology book ïS That was really nice. The nature of CR is just as beautiful as Belize. It is an option to go back there and see some more.
A couple from our group went white water rafting and had a blast, for the daredevils under us.
Panama Canal was our next and last destination. I always wanted to see the locks there and this was my change. To be on the safe side we booked a ships tour which took us after a bus drive to the Pacific side to a ferry, who went through the Miraflores locks. Ofcourse here in Holland we have our locks too, but that is peanuts compared to Panama Canal. I really enjoyed the tour. The ferry was big enough with chairs on the decks. It was strongly advised to stay seated and not stand at the side, so you do not block everybodies view. You can stand there to make a picture or video tape some but then get back to your chair. Lunch and drinks are provided. The ferry takes a couple of hours, and it was a hurry back to the ship to be back at 03.30. This tour is well worth the money. I spoke to others who took the train tour and they were content also. Our Floridian friends went on their own, hired a cab and watched the locks on the Atlantic side, they went not through it. After that they went shopping, had some nice things and cheap boozz, they felt not safe enough to take a stroll around Colon and after the shopping they went back to the ship.
Then back to Fort Lauderdale with 2 seadays. We played Mexican Train dominoe a lot and had a good time.
I went to two shows in the theatre. One sing and dance show, the other was a comedian. I am always a bit hesitated about comedians, for past experience learns that we Europeans do not often understand the American jokes, for they are about persons we do not know. But this one was a hoot, I had a good laugh.
I hoped to meet John Heald, he was supposed to be back on the Liberty the 21st but we had Brent Mitchell.
Another gripe: children in the hot tub on 9 aft. There are signs the these tubs are Adults only and again, to our disappointment, we had to conclude that Carnival does not have any security staff around the Lido deck to see that these rules are obeyed by. Only on the first day (saturday) there was one officer who send them away but that was the last time too. On our last day at see (also saturday) a man with two little girls came into the tub and ignored the fact that another couple shook their heads. I asked this gentleman friendly if he did not know that kids were not allowed in these tubs but were free to go to the other deck, he gave me a loud mouth, for which I was not impressed. He threatened that if I touched his kids he would do something to me, and I yawned, yeah rite. I told this gentleman very friendly that I did not need to touch his children, and felt sorry for them to have him as a father and that I would call security to get him and his kid out of the tub.
Read this very carefully: on the deck there was one carnival staff member, I asked him to call security for me, because of the kids and the man being rude. This guy did NOT SPEAK english at all. And there I stood, being Dutch, trying to get it clear to the man that he need to call security and he did not understand me. Is it not mandatory for ships employees to speak at least english? I speak english, don't I?
Well, so many things have bugged me on this cruise, but it did not spoil the fun of being on a cruise. We had a great time anyway, the ports of call were good, I absolutely loved CR and PC, and would advise anybody to do it at least once.
Debarkation was very smooth, because we travelled with 50, our TA arranged same coloured tags for all of us. We had to be in the Venetian Palace theatre at 08.00 and we were off at 08.45 and back in the bus up to Deland. Another cruise gone.
Any cruise is good and we will book Carnival again in an instant, but Carnival need to do something about their staff and sloppyness on the Liberty. We were not the only ones who were complaining about this.
Well, so far my review, pics follow later, we have some problems with our digi camera. It will all work out.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by LEN C. Western Caribbean January 15, 2006
Cruise history, 10th cruise and 5th on Carnival. The Carnival Liberty was a nice, new ship, but did not impress me much as we embarked walking into the Garden Atrium. The changing colors of the large chandelier hanging above the Flowers Lobby were a bit â?~gaudy' and Las Vegas like, but that's typical Carnival.
Embarkation was pretty organized I have to admit. We arrived at the cruise terminal very early since we had to schedule the shuttle service thru our hotel and 10:30 was the only spot available. A line was forming outside since they did not have the doors to the terminal open yet. Once inside the building the line moved smoothly and there were ample guest service agents to check us in. I looked at my watch as we started waking up the gangway to the ship it was just about 12 noon as we boarded.
We had a balcony stateroom on the Upper Deck-6. It reminded me much of the Triumph, and Pride. Basically same layout and color scheme. Quite roomy as Carnival's cabins always are. Wedropped off our carry-on bags and then headed up to the Lido Deck for lunch
Food was typical Carnival fare. Lido buffets changed daily except for breakfast which was standard eggs, bacon, sausage and either pancakes or French toast along with an omelet station. Also fresh fruits, Danish and cereals. We had second seating at 8:30 in the Golden Olympian restaurant. Food was average to good depending on the menu. The best dinner for me was the prime rib. It was prepared perfectly as I ordered.
Entertainment was decent I still think Carnival needs to improve in this area. The one show Wonderful World has been on two other cruises I have taken, so this was my third time seeing it! The other show we saw (can't remember the name) was much better and not a repeat for me. It was kind of a walk down Broadway show with songs and dances from several Broadway hits.
Our ports of call were Freeport, Grand Cayman and Costa Maya. Unfortunately Freeport ended up being the best port day for weather the entire cruise. We had to leaving Grand Cayman two hours short due to rough seas and the tendering process. So we had to rush to the beach and then had about an hour to shop before tendering back to the Liberty. Weather did not improve as we headed to Costa Maya. Seas were very choppy and could be felt. Our time in Costa Maya was a BUST! Again rough seas and the fact that the ship was banging back and forth off the pier made them decide to pull out by 12:30 we were supposed to be docked until 6 PM. They were afraid the ship could become damaged. We received a $50 per cabin credit of the Sail & Sign account to compensate for the disrupted port times. Guess you can't control the weather!
Overall we had an enjoyable cruise even though we spent more time at sea than in ports. I still managed a suntan! I wouldn't discount the Carnival Liberty after all she is the newest ship of the fleet, however be aware you will have a "Vegas" type feeling when on board.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Liberty by Marci Ridley Western Caribbean January 1, 2006
First Time Cruiser As a first time cruiser, I was disappointed with the information that I received from the reviews I had read, and found most of them incorrect in light of my experience. Then again, what you receive from your experience will depend on your expectations and past experiences. We cruised on the Carnival Liberty (Jan 1 - Jan 7, 2006) and my vacations was nothing less than spectacular. My biggest complaint would be the rudeness of the other passengers, which was unbelievable! It's too bad that standard manners are not a prerequisite to booking a cruise.
We had a group of (8) traveling from Idaho, and the flight arrangements had much to be desired. We weren't even all on the same plane. Upon arrival in Ft. Lauderdale, we checked in to the hotel and took a shuttle to go get an uneventful dinner (New Years Eve). In the morning, we all met outside with another very large group from Canada while waiting for the busses to transport us to the pier. This was a very disorganized processthat could be easily fixed by Carnival if they chose to do so. Four Greyhound busses and a couple of hours later, we arrived at the Pier. Point of Order: You need to get on the bus that your luggage is put on, and then you will not be allowed to get off the bus until your luggage has been unloaded. They load the luggage by Carnival color-coded tags. Suggestion - Patience. It all works out! Once you get off the bus, you simply check to make sure that your luggage is accounted for, and they do the rest. Then, the line starts!
The line was long, and I believe we waited 1-1/2 hours before we reached the ticket agent, but the line moves very quick-it's just 3 buildings long. (And there are chairs and restrooms in the terminal) The ticket agent was professional and personable. This is when you give them your credit card-Automatic 150.00 pp - Make sure you are prepared for that. You then go through security - Point of Order: You are allowed (1) bottle of champagne or wine; no spirits. They will go through your carry on and confiscate any. I did watch a person carry in two cases of bottled water-? For the Embarkation process, I can't think of any improvements that they could make.
We had a balcony room, and I must say, for myself, it was worth the extra money! If you have ever seen a dog with his head out the window of a vehicle, then you know what I looked like! Everyone in my group had their luggage by 6; I saw mine about 8pm. Don't stress about the luggage - It will get there. The first night, the dining room allowed us to come dressed as we were because some of us didn't have the chance to change! We were in the Silver Dining room (seated together!) at the early 5:45 dinner time! Perfect for us. Richard was our waiter and Vit was his right-hand man and they are phenomenal. What a wonderful dining experience. We had three young men with us that weren't used to the "fu-fu" food, but they always found something good. You order appetizers, soup, salad and the main entree. Don't be afraid if you want to order two - there is a night that surf & turf consists of two entrees.
Dessert is very good, exquisite in fact. But they always have the good old stand by of ice cream if all else fails. Service, menu options, presentation, taste - not much that could've been improved on. There is also some entertainment - singing and dancing! Just plain fun! We purchased the soft-drink cards - unlimited supply of fountain soft drinks - for like 40 bucks. Pepsi drinkers beware - only Coke products served. That being said, I didn't partake of 40 bucks worth of soda on the trip - there is always water, juice, coffee, tea and hot chocolate in the Buffet restaurant, Emily's. I would not have purchased one if I'd known. The buffet restaurant, Emily's was good. Variety up the wazoo. There were hamburgers/hot dogs, deli sandwiches, stir fry, Chinese, 24-hr pizzeria, and Fish and Chips (upstairs towards the back of the ship - hard to find, but worth the effort) in addition to the regular fare of food.
If you are unable to find something with that in mind, you may be in trouble. Room service is also available, and we did use continental breakfast service one day due to an early stop in Freeport, Bahamas.
Our room was very comfortable. The beds are twin size, but the comforters are cozy and they give you two pillows. The only two suggestions I would have is the phone is too far from the bed and there is no clock. Set yourself a phone-alarm one morning and you will understand about the phone, and I know you are on vacation, and may not want a clock - but with specific departure times for ports-of-call, shows, and activities, it would be nice to know what time it is. On the television, there is a channel that shows the direction of the ship, it's speed, the wind speed, temperature, etc. Very informational! There is also a way to see what the menu for dinner is, along with excursion information, room charges, messages, etc. We were even able to catch an episode of our NBC soap opera while at sea!
Our ports of call were Freeport, Bahamas, Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Jamaica was a pleasant surprise substitution for Cozumel). Freeport was nice - not a lot to do if you don't book an excursion - lots of shopping! We arrived at 7am and left at 2:30pm. And the sand on the beach is so-o-o fine and the water is so-o-o blue! Do your homework, and book an excursion here. Grand Cayman, is a tendered stop. You have to ride a smaller boat to get to shore. There is a lot of money in the economy, and they haven't built a dock for the large cruise ships, yet. Some doubt they every will.
GO PLAY WITH THE STINGRAYS! - You won't be disappointed! Even if you are a bit squeamish, they are easy to see and you can avoid them most of the time if you chose. If you go on a good excursion, your tour guide will catch one and you can touch them and even hold them if you choose. Don't worry - they are safe except their tails! An opportunity of a lifetime. The snorkeling is phenomenal! The tropical fish are so colorful, the coral and other marine life are amazing. You may get lucky and see a lobster, or even a turtle! PS - salt water helps you float, but the tour people should give you a small blow-up life vest that helps keep you afloat. There is so much to see here, and so little time, do your homework on the excursions so you know what is available.
In Jamaica, which was not our originally scheduled port-of-call, we spent the day at the beach and at Margaritaville! I am not a drinker, and loved the atmosphere and entertainment at Margaritaville! They have this 100' slide that shoots you in the bay, and what a hoot! Food is good, too! There is a lot to do here, even if it's just a sightseeing tour. The more you know about the area, the better prepared you will be. Jamaica is a very big island, and a trip to the falls (very popular) was an all-day affair. As you walk along the shoreline, there are not many shells, but there are pieces of "coral" everywhere! Lots of good shopping, here! Days at sea were filled with lots of activities.
The shows with the Carnival dancers were excellent - the costumes are so very colorful, choreography was wonderful and well executed, pit band/orchestra did an outstanding job. We saw a ventriloquist that was great, the ship talent show was ok, and the village idiots were entertaining. Hard to believe all this happens on a gigantic moving piece of steel-They had camp Carnival - a day camp for the small ones that appeared to be lots of fun. I wouldn't bring my small children on a cruise; I'll reserve that for Disneyworld.
They had a spa/gym with outstanding facilities. And the message chairs aft of the casino - worth the 1$. There are many activities - from Bingo, hairy-chest contest, not-so-newlywed game (not to be missed), fear factor, etc. Lots of dance lessons - and Butch, Ass't director, is amazing! There will be people taking pictures of you every time you turn around - let them take as many as they want!
Go have your picture taken - formal or informal. You only purchase what you like, and you're bound to find a picture that you will like somewhere. You don't have to buy them all. Point of order: Be patient, you will stand in many a line. Remember, you are on vacation, and so are the other 2499 people on the ship. No worries, mon!
Disembarking was pretty simple - Put your luggage outside your room by midnight, and they will take care of it from there. All you have to do is get up, eat breakfast and wait for them to call your tag color. It is explained very well in a meeting the day prior. You make your way down the gangplank, go through customs (show your passport), find your luggage, and make your way to the busses that take you to the airport.
Overall, I had an amazing experience, and would be happy to answer any questions you may have at firstname.lastname@example.org. Out of five stars, the Carnival Liberty would receive 5-1/2!