In what has been a very strange summer, we left 100 degree temps in Minnesota and spent 7 days on the Carnival Liberty in the cooler Caribbean. Temps ran 80-90 all week, and while the humidity was always high, being from Minnesota, we were all used to humid weather.
I didn't know what to expect from cruising, or from Carnival, this being our first cruise. Let me first say that the service was beyond belief. Everyone smiled, was friendly and helpful, and cleaning staff we'd barely seen always greeted us, often by name. The wait staff in the dining area was amazing, and we'll miss Jayadi, Gusti and Kristian very much.
Carnival is about fun, Fun, FUN!!! and if that's your game, you'll find plenty to do. My wife and I are more low-key, though, and I was worried we'd be swarmed by the fun-seekers. Quite the contrary. There are places to find quiet, not least was our balcony. We paid just a little extra to get one of the few double-wide balconies, and I recommend it More
highly. We wound up losing a couch in the cabin, due to the layout, but in exchange, we had our our deck chair on the balcony, as well as two chairs and a table. A great place to sip wine and watch the ocean.
The decor of the ship matches the fun, Fun, FUN!!! attitude, and at first it struck us as a bit over the top. But it's kinda like Vegas- after a few days, you expect to see garish decor. The rooms, thankfully, are simple and appropriate.
The food was outstanding, highlighted by the Steakhouse dinner. We were given a free bottle of wine as we booked the steakhouse the first night. All of the steaks were cooked perfectly, even my order for "blue" (below rare), which was tender and warm throughout.
Announcements were often missed, as our the only speakers that worked in our room were in the bathroom, and those only used for the muster drill. We would have to scurry to open the hall door sometimes to catch important information: for instance, when our stop at Roatan was cancelled due to high winds.
Other than the winds at Roatan, we lucked out on the weather. A few cloudbursts, but nothing that interrupted any of our shore excursions. The ports (Costa Maya in Cozumel, Belize City, Grand Caymans) were virtually indistinguishable, sadly. They all seemed to sell the same "mayan" bags (made in China), Tortugas rum cakes (#1 souvenir for Cozumel, Belize AND Grand Cayman), and Diamond International shop of over-priced bling. If you're going to do some shopping, get away from the ports and go find something local. We never had enough time, regrettably.
Carnival did, as they try, exceed our expectations in nearly every regard, and we will definitely cruise with them again. We may look at other cruise lines just for comparison, but we were thrilled with the value we had for our vacation. Less
Large balcony, though you give up a couch in the room to get it. Piano bar is beneath, and you could hear it early evening (7-9 pm), but by 10 or 11, the party had moved elsewhere. We never had the noise disturb our sleep at all.
Did the Xunantunich tour, booked with Carnival. Unlike other reviews I've read, they didn't spend long at the gift shops or information centers. Instead the guides (Lee and Jack) took us almost direct to the site. Great and fun to climb to the top of the tall pyramid. Not much known about the site itself, but Jack was very knowledgeable about the Mayan culture, moreso than I would have expected. Both guides did give a cool glimpse into Belize life as well, during the bus rides too and from (2 hours each way). Lunch was simple, but well enjoyed after several days of cruise fare. Never has rice and beans with chicken tasted so good.
The chef was hilarious, the drinks were free-flowing (and better yet, free), and the food was delicious. Everyone who went had a great time, even grandpa who didn't want to do anything but sit on the beach and watch the girls. After lunch, there was time to relax on the beach. Nice sand for laying out on, but a few feet in the water, the shore gets a bit rocky. Better to stay on beach and order another margarita. Did I mention all the drinks were included??
A bucket list item. Standing out in the middle of the bay, miles from any land, you are in the ocean on a sand bar, when these stingrays come and just casually swim by and through your crowd. Lots of shrieks and squeals and laughs from everyone, and my wife considered it the highlight of her trip and one of her life.
See the turtles. Learn about the turtles. Hold the turtles. Swim with the turtles. Even eat the turtles for lunch if you like. It is a farm, but run more like a zoo. There is plenty of education about sea turtles as well, but really the whole point is to see them.