This is our 3rd cruise with Carnival. We've been on the Fascination and the Freedom. It was myself, spouse and 14 year old daughter. We flew into Fort Lauderdale the day before we sailed. We picked up a rental car at the airport and drove to Miami. We stayed at the Holiday Inn(downtown). The hotel was clean and about 5 minutes from the cruise port. The Liberty was located at terminal E which was the first dock. We purchase bottled water, 12 pack of coke, potato chips, powdered detergent and a small bottle of fabric softener.
On Saturday we left the hotel at about 10:00 a.m. My husband dropped my daughter and I off at the terminal. He returned the car to the airport in Miami. The porters helped unload the car and we preceded to check in. There was no one in line. They checked our I.D. and passports and we were directed to the next station. There was no one in line and we received our sail and sign cards. We were given a boarding pass for zone one. My husband returned the car to the airport and took a cab back to the port.($24.00)He was back by 11:00 a.m. It took him about 10 minutes to get through the line. He was assigned to zone 5. We boarded the ship at about 11:15 and he was allowed to board with us even though he had been assigned a different boarding zone. We were all ready to take the embarkation picture. However, the photographers were still setting up. I was very disappointed. We had all wore yellow so our picture would look nice.
We went to the Lido deck and had a nice lunch. We decided to go to the room at about 1:00 p.m and it was ready. We had a balcony room on the Empress deck. The room had a lot of closet space and drawers. We had 6 suitcases full of clothes and shoes. We had ample closet space. You might want to bring some additional hangers . We also brought a bungee cord to keep the door open at night. We also brought an outlet that had 3 additional plugs on it. If you like to know what time it is. I would suggest you bring a small clock. I washed clothes 3 different times. I brought $20.00 in rolled quarters so I didn't have to worry about getting change. It costs $3.00 to wash and $3.00 to dry. The washing machine cycle last about 25-30 minutes and the dryer will give you 99 minutes. You can wash two loads of clothes and only pay once to use the dryer. They sell small boxes of detergent for $1.00. I also brought my own dryer sheets.
The room steward was named Fitzroy. He was an excellent steward. He was always upbeat and kept the room very clean. The wait staff was named Kavin, Leo and Tosin. Everybody was terrific. I have read the reviews about rude and unresponsive employees. I did not encounter any rude employees during the cruise. I think your attitude and body language makes a big difference.
Another suggestion that I have is to bring some 16-20 oz plastic cups. I filled them with ice when I went out on excursions. It really made a difference when it was hot. I forgot to bring a small cooler bag. You can fill some small plastic bags with ice to keep your water cool. You can also make some sandwiches to take on excursions with you. Ladies, if you like the ship's shower gel bring your empty bath gel containers. You can fill the containers with the shower gel that is provided daily.
The first night we noticed that our room was vibrating a little too much. this is our 3rd cruise so we knew this was not normal. The room was vibrating and you could hear a ticking noise. We complained and was told the noise was from the motion of the ship. A maintenance man was sent and he put pieces of paper in the ceiling to keep the ceiling from vibrating and knocking. My husband came up with the same solution. It worked for 1 night. The noise returned. Guest Services did continue to followup on the situation. After reading past reviews I did not know what to expect. However, I was pleasantly surprised that Carnival's Guest Services continued to contact us. The Supervisor(James)
of Guest Services issued a credit. The cabin was in a nice location but i would not recommend room 7393 unless it is repaired.
I had also read a lot of reviews about the food. I am not a big eater. Everything that I ordered off the dinner menu came off the everyday menu(fried chicken and flat iron steak).I do not like to try new things. I was content with my dinner choices. Breakfast was the same everyday. Breakfast consisted of pancakes, oatmeal, grits, bacon, ham, fruit, yogurt, cereal etc. I'm not complaining because I didn't have to cook it. The highlight was Guys Burger's. If you've been to 5 Guy's it's very similar and there is no additional cost eat it.
We did not book any excursions through Carnival. We did go shopping in Cozumel. You will find the best prices in Cozumel on t-shirts, bags,cheap jewelry and trinkets.
In Belize we went on a bus tour. We tendered over to Belize. It took about 15 minutes, We were directed over to a tour guide named Steven. We took a 2 hour bus tour of Belize. The tour line was asking for $35.00 to visit the city and the country. We settled on a price of $80.00 for 3 people. We were able to see how the residents live and learned a lot about their history.
We also took a 2 hour van tour in Isla Roatan with 2 other people. We paid $25.00 per person.This guide did not know a lot of facts. I went to sleep.
We were in the Cayman Islands in 2011. We decided to visit some nearby shops around the port. I found the merchandise to be more expensive than the other ports. The quality of some of the merchandise was higher. If you are not looking for alcohol, cigarettes, fine jewelry or perfumes you can still find t-shirts and other souvenirs.
Overall, my family loves cruising. We have only cruised with carnival. I read all of the reviews before we came on this trip. My family was content with the menu choices and the food. We were not going to let anything ruin our trip. My daughter made a lot of friends at Circle C. She is 14 and only ate breakfast and dinner with us. She was with her cruise friends nightly until about 1-2 a.m. We participated in trivia games, watched shows, attended comedy shows, dancing, won bingo and met new people. We definitely feel like we got our moneys worth. We have beautiful pictures and lot of memories.