This cruise started with a super surprise! We got an unexpected upgrade the day before we left. I was walking out of work when my cell phone rang. It was Carnival offering us an upgrade from our inside cabin to a balcony. We had a choice and took the balcony cabin on the aft of the ship with the bigger balcony. This was a happy start to our vacation!
We flew on Southwest from Kansas City to Ft. Lauderdale the next day, arriving at 3:55 p.m. We had booked transportation with South Florida Transportation and they met us and drove us to Miami. We stayed at the Holiday Inn near the pier. The hotel has been remodeled and looked good. Only one elevator was operating for guests and this made for longer waits and crowded elevators with a nine floor hotel. There were three elevators - one for the cleaning carts, one for passengers and the other was out of order. We walked around the Bayside area and ate dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe.
We ate breakfast at nearby McDonalds on cruise day and walked to a nearby Osco for some items we somehow forgot. We then took a cab to the pier and got there about 10:45. A porter passed us with a cart when we were walking toward the entrance and took our luggage for us. We basically walked in and security and check-in went quickly. They had three lines, blue, green and yellow. We were in green as gold members, and all the lines had short waits. We were in group 6 and they started calling groups right away to board the ship.
A large group was led in while we waiting and I think they were travel agents visiting the ship. There must have been 150 or so of them. The only delay was on the deck of the ship, waiting for our pictures to be taken for the sign and sail card. The travel agents went to one side and passengers to the other. If passengers had been directed to both sides, it would have been quicker. Even so, we boarded the ship about noon.
We headed up to Emile's, the buffet, and had lunch there. We checked out Serenity, the adult only area to the front of the ship on deck 12. We bought coke cards and Pina Coladas and enjoyed sitting there for a while until we could go to our cabin. This is a really nice area with both shade and sun and a hot tub. Our cabin was at the aft on deck 6 and was the last even numbered cabin on this deck. The balcony was supposed to be 65 square feet and it was considerably larger than a normal balcony. My husband's luggage was waiting for us. We left our luggage and walked around the ship until the muster drill. The muster drill took a while and some people complained, which surprised me.
My luggage came after the muster drill and we unpacked before dinner. We watched the sail away from our balcony and the aft balcony view gave us a unique view when leaving port. We had the early dinner time in the main dining room. We were on deck 4 and had a table for two in the row of tables for two in the aisle between the booths overlooking the lower lever and the booths or tables on the wall. We liked the table for two, but sitting in the center of the aisle meant there was a lot of traffic on either side of us all through dinner. Waiters carried trays of food over our heads to the area by the windows and trays of dirty dishes back to the escalator at the back of the dining room all through dinner. This aisle served tables in the large area by the windows. Our waiters seemed rushed and service was not what it should be. The Welcome Aboard show was at 10:30, and we met the cruise director, Karl with a K and his staff. The singers and dancers performed and there were two comics who did short shows.
One thing I did not check when the upgrade was offered, that I always check before we book a room, is what is above and below us. The Victoria Lounge was below us and most nights there was something going on all evening, often Karaoke. The drunks tend to think they can sing late at night, so the singing was awful. The comedy shows were not loud on the nights they were in that Lounge. We were not in the room until late and managed to fall asleep easily anyway, so it was not a huge problem for us. I wish I had checked, but I decided this quickly when I got the upgrade offer. Another note to self.
The second day was a sea day and the pool deck was crowded and loud. There is no live band on the pool deck anymore, but they have two DJ's who play music. The new Carnival 2.0 Red Frog Rum Bar and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar are great, but took away space for chairs on the sides of the pool. There was only one row of chairs on either side of the pool and 3 rows at the ends. The stadium seating with chairs was always full. The adult pool area is aft on deck 9. The pizza place is there. The adult pool is on the opposite end of the ship from Serenity.
The Guy's Hamburgers place was on the pool deck on the corner going back to Emile's. It had a line from each side and was very popular and always crowded. The Blue Iguana Cantina had breakfast burritos and burritos and tacos at lunch. This was also popular and was on the other side of the pool deck near the tequila bar on the opposite corner going back to Emile's. Both food additions had a separate bar with toppings. They added new tables behind the bars and going toward Emile's buffet, so there are enough tables.
This was the elegant night and the Head Waiter had asked men to wear long pants and no tank tops or baseball caps the night before and I did not see any shorts, tank tops or caps in the dining room or on the Promenade going to or from dinner, but there could have been some. People dressed up and stood in line for pictures. Our dining experience was not any better sitting in the center of the aisle, so we decided to ask for a change the next night. It was like sitting on the medium of a highway.
The first port was Cozumel and my husband went on a scuba diving excursion. I did the Great Cozumel Race, which is like the Amazing Race on TV. I was put on a team with a woman and her 16 year old daughter, and we made a good team. We walked/ran all over downtown Cozumel looking for locations and clues. It was very hot, but we had a good time. The locals join in and point the way. We finished 8th out of 13 teams. We finished at an open air bar and we all cheered the teams in. It was great fun. I had read about this excursion and I am glad I finally did it.
That night at dinner we spoke with the Head Waiter and got moved to a booth on the other side of the dining room by the railing on the same deck. A man and his 12 year old daughter were there and we enjoyed our dinners with them. The service was much better as well and it was a much more peaceful dining experience.
The next day was Belize and my husband went scuba diving again. I stayed on the ship and enjoyed the mostly empty ship. He said the dive was awesome at Belize. The next port was Roatan, Honduras, and we went on an excursion to Maya Key which was a resort with a beach, swimming pool, and there was a barrier reef you could snorkel to off the pier. We also got lunch. The coral was amazing at the reef and we really enjoyed it. The coral formations were high in the water with lots to see. Clear water and lots of fish, too. The last port was Georgetown, Grand Cayman, and we did a boat excursion to snorkel on their barrier reef. This reef was much smaller in height and not joined together, but there were lots of coral formations and the coral was healthy and varied, with lots of fish. This was also a great snorkel run. The water was even clearer here. These were all ship's excursions.
The entertainment on the ship was good, overall. There was a second night with the singers and dancers, but it was entertaining. There was a Frank Sinatra tribute performance one night. The singer was Christopher Alan Graves. Edge presents the Evolution was a really good and funny juggler. Another night there was no show, but other things going on in the theater. There was a lot going on at night.
The last day was a sea day and we spent it relaxing and doing things on the ship we wanted to. We donated to the charity event for St. Jude's Hospital "Groove for St. Jude" and went to it, but all they did was play YMCA four times in a row until they sold 30 more t-shirts. We packed and had our last dinner with our new friends and the next morning we were docking in Miami when we got up.
We were in group 19 for debarkation and got off the ship about 10:00. Customs was way backed up by then and took at least an hour. We rode the Carnival bus to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport and waited for our flight. We got to Kansas City about 4:00 and our vacation was over. We had a good time on the Liberty. We enjoyed our unexpected balcony cabin.