Carnival Liberty 9-8-12
A solid and honest revue from Melodrew
Let me begin by telling you this was my 6th Carnival cruise and 7th overall.
After much hype over Guy's Burger Bar and the Blue Iguana Cantina and the rum bar we decided to press our luck and make the trip to Miami to check out the Carnival Liberty.
Being from Orlando, I have a wealth of cruise ports to sail out of, and except for Jacksonville--I can say I have tried them all.
First and foremost I want all of you with kids considering this cruise to read this:
Camp Carnival---What a joke and total FAILURE
My brother and sister in law who brought their 2 kids on the cruise did not get to do any adult activities on the ship. This was a major issue for a lot of other parents on the cruise too. Anytime you drop your child off, as soon as they even begin to cry or whimper--they call you on the phone and tell you to come get your kids immediately.
This has to be one of the worst camps/ daycare facilities with some of the worst people running it. My brother and sister in law paid full price for 4 people to be on the cruise and spoke with Carnival several times before hand to make sure they would be ok to bring their kids. They had a miserable time and Guest Services did not offer them anything to make up for the terrible service they received from Camp Carnival and the fact that their cruise was pretty much ruined. The staff at Camp Carnival is pretty much incompetent and has no idea of how to watch or care for children. Carnival really sells people that their "Camp Carnival" is one of the best child programs at sea---and it's pretty much a joke.
Port Of Miami:
I had read other reviews of this not being such a great port with long waits, distant parking and various issues. So I will get right to it. We parked with United Airport parking for $6.00/day and were very happy with their service. We did have to drop everyone off at the terminal and park downtown about 2 miles from the terminal, but they have vans running people back and forth so it was no issue and the car was safe all week long.
Upon arriving to terminal, it's a bit confusing and can tend to be a cluster bomb. The porters all holler and yell and tell you where not to park for drop off of passengers. We must have moved locations 3 times before getting to a point where it was ok to unload. Once we unloaded, the porter gave us a sob story about how all the money is broke up between the team members. So they need at least $25.00 to make it go around for everyone.
We finally got inside and the line was long but seemed to move very well---until the next line got backed up. We had to wait about 45 minutes before security would let anyone else through to the part where they issue your S&S card. At this point--the line was outrageous--another hour long wait just to get to the front desk. The lines were so backed up...the ship departed 2 hours late!!
Although the Liberty is a nice ship, it is showing some wear and tear. Apparently, the recent dry dock was only to add the new bars and food stations and not to repair or update too much.
We were on deck 2 both with ocean view 2404 and 2382. Our cabins were nice and clean and ready for our voyage. Only complaint here is the smell of raw sewage in the hall ways. I don't know what the issue is, but this is becoming a problem on lots of ships---somewhere along the line we always get a waft of sewage--be it in the hall ways or even in the main areas--Carnival Dream in 2011 had the smell emanating around deck 3 by the lobby??
We pre-tipped our cabin steward Romeo, who did a good job of keeping the room well kept and always made sure we had plenty of ice for our Rum Runners!
MDR- and Food and Drinks in General---
- 1st night---Awesome food! Awesome service!
- 2nd night---Ok food---and THE WORST SERVICE EVER!--It took over an hour to get a glass of iced tea. Then the server brought 2 apps to our party of 7 and brought the rest out 30 minutes later. The same thing happened with dinner. Our dinner service took over 2 hours to complete. The prime rib was terrible and was more like a dry chunk of roast beef that was flavorless and tough. I spoke with a few other passengers who were disappointed as well that carnival sent such a cheap nasty slice of meat out for dinner.
- 3rd night--Buffet---BECAUSE THE MAIN DINING ROOM MENU (MDR, on television) DID NOT SEEM APPEALING AT ALL--we opted for the buffet. Aside from the salad bar and a few deserts -- the buffet food on the ship was a major let down. Most nights and days it was pretty much cafeteria style slop that did not look good and sure as heck did not taste good.
- 4th night.......The MDR (on television) menu looked spectacular...Filet Mignon with Short Ribs, Fried Shrimp, and all kinds of good items......UNTIL WE GOT TO THE DINING ROOM AND THEY GAVE US THE MENU FROM THE DAY BEFORE.---(YOU KNOW---THE ONE WE SKIPPED)..
At this point we were done with this crappy service and mistakes and demanded to speak to the Maitre'D. After a chat with both the assistant and head Maitre'D we were told that they would have to get the chefs permission to make the Filet--which we all wanted. After 20 minutes of waiting we were given the OK by the Head Chef. The filets were brought to the table and they were cooked to perfection. That is the only part of the menu we were allowed to have.
With the exception of a few new additions, Carnivals MDR menu is old and tired--they have been serving the same stuff since 2001. I think its time for a major menu overhaul. Carnival's MDR was a major let down in the quality of food and the service. The same can be said about the buffet overall
Guys Burger Bar---AWESOME!!---everything was awesome--great burgers, great fries, great service. Enjoyed this experience (*Secret tip*) Go to the burger bar and ask for CHILI FRIES--they are not on the menu, but they will gladly make them for you with the chili from the Chilius Maximus burger and then top it off with special sauce---then go over to the toppings bar and cover with sauteed onions, mushrooms and BBQ and Hot Sauce---Pretty darn good fries!
Blue Iguana Burritos and Tacos---Awesome!!--great build your own tacos or burritos with a pretty nice salsa bar with ample salsa and hot sauces (Be sure to go for breakfast and get the breakfast burrito.)
Sushi Bar---Well, they do have a sushi bar---but they don't use it. It's only used to give samples of meatballs and other snacks. My wife was very upset about the disbanding of the sushi bar that has been a staple on all other cruises we have been on. The buffet did have sushi on a nightly basis---but it was just one or two types of rolls---they were ok--but not like they use to have at the sushi bar. Apparently they are still in the process of upgrading and removing some things.
Mongolian Wok and Fish & Chips---Since they close at 2:30 we never had the chance to go. When you have 4 ports of call all back to back---it's hard to make time for some things. Guy's Burger Bar is open until 6:00pm---and I think they should at least keep the wok open until then.
24 hour Pizza----WHOA! What happened here??--CUTBACKS!---The pizza is served on a thin slice of cracker and topped with 3 dollops of cheese and hardly any sauce and a few pepperoni. They also did away with the De Chevre goat cheese pizza which was my favorite.
Punch Liner Comedy Brunch---This is something that is only available on sea days---if it was available more days--we would have been there! The service was slow in general, but overall we thought it was a great menu with fun takes of classic things like omelets, pancakes, etc. The menu here is themed with a Mexican flair on traditional breakfast items.
The best thing to get is the Huevos & Bistec---(fried eggs served on top of a petit filet mignon served with potatoes and fries. Every table receives a basket of danishes, croissants, chocolate muffins and lemon wedge cakes. The breakfast burrito is really good too and the Churros hit the spot. They also have a pretty good Bloody Mary menu (for a fee)
My Opinion on Food---Carnival really needs to consider keeping the additional food offerings open later than 2:30, ESPECIALLY on a port intensive cruise. We never got to have the Mongolian Wok or the Fish & Chips. Only twice did we get to go to Blue Iguana and once was for breakfast. When you get back from your excursions it would be nice to grab a burrito or some Chinese Wok food, or a quick bite of fish & chips. As I said, Guys is really good, however eating there almost everyday back from port got old, and as I mentioned...the buffet is not appealing!
Red Frog Rum Bar and Thirsty Frog Pub---Nothing too spectacular here just more drinks to charge you for. However 2 things stand out---You can order margaritas by the pitcher and you can also order beer bongs!!--YES!
Alchemy Bar---Carnival got this one right! ---GO SEE DARIO----DARIO IS THE MAN!
This is a premium Martini / COCKTAIL lounge and I do mean to say cocktail---no mixed drinks here. They add special seasonings, spices and zest to your drinks that are made with premium liquors and premium fruit nectars. The light up menu is pretty cool too.
(Special Tip)---Sign up for the Mixology class hosted by Dario and get an official Mixoligist degree and learn a great deal about the art of cocktails that you never knew...
Casino, Night club, Piano lounge and Comedy lounge---Once you've seen any one on a carnival ship---you've seen them all. The comedians were pretty good though.
There is a kind of hidden enclave called the Tapestry Room that seemed kind of cool--hardly anyone was ever there because it is too hidden. Although I don't mind smokers and smoking, something should be done about the Casino. Even just passing through--you will smell like an ashtray afterwards...it gets pretty bad in there.
Pools and main decks---I remember past cruises with CCL having a good old fashioned Reggae band playing steel drums and keyboards and always playing some great tunes. Sadly that was replaced with DJ Nobody and his protege playing top 40 club tunes and hip hop music almost everyday non stop at the main pool. I don't mind that every so often, but when I'm on vacation I like to hear some laid back reggae and not the stuff that comes on the radio all day every day. Not only that, but it was loud and over blaring. You could hear the music from the front to the back of the entire ship. The main pool aside from the kiddy area is the only place kids can go in the pool, so it was always crowded. The other aft pool is adult only. I thought Carnival did a poor job of offering a placer for kids to have fun.
The New VIFP program---I actually liked the new program. Others disliked it. I liked it because Carnival has gone back to recognizing the value of past guests. In the last few years the past guest party had been relegated to back page news and was almost forgotten about.
With the new VIFP program you are treated special again...If you are at gold level. You get the special invite sent to your stateroom and they even brought back the special commemorative pins. The not so good part...you can no longer bring a guest with you...just you and the other person that got an invite. So people who have sailed 2 or 3 times will no longer get to go to the past guest party. As always the drinks flowed freely...and this time they gave you FULL SIZE DRINKS...no more tiny shooters and of course plenty of appetizer samplers.
Rude passengersï¿½ï¿½ï¿½---Being a Florida native, I travel to Miami quite often. I love all of the cultural diversity of the city and all the fun people from all over the world that you can meet. However....this cruise was filled with the rudest passengers I have ever had the displeasure of sailing with. There were quite a few European folks on this cruise. People would skip in line at the buffet or in the tender line. People would not wait for you to get off or on of the elevator before bum-rushing you. People would walk 3-4 wide and block hallways and walk ways. I can honestly say there was a time or two I almost threw an elbow or punched someone for cutting me off---This may sound harsh---but I am telling the truth.
Debarkation---The worst ever!! It took from 8:30 to 11:00 before our luggage was even available at the terminal. Then once we got our luggage it was another hour and a half to make it through customs. It was a big catastrophe and quite a few people missed/almost missed their flights because of the terrible operation of the terminal and customs.
Conclusion---we had a blast meeting our Cruise Critic friends and this was one of the biggest meet and greets we have been a part of. Big shout out to all my CC people. The pub crawl was a blast and all the friends we made while blogging on CC and doing the meet and great was awesome. Overall it was a somewhat fun and somewhat stressful cruise....but not worthy of my weeklong vacation. I still feel the need to go on vacation even if for a 3 day weekend.
Sadly I will tell you this:
1. Never going to sail out of the P.O.M again.
2. Never going to do the Liberty again (we sailed the Legend--and would re-sail that ship--awesome ship and awesome service)
3. I am really disappointed and somewhat disillusioned with Carnival at this point. The cutbacks in the MDR and the Buffet along with the Pizzeria are pretty cheap and disturbing.
4. After this cruise I am a bit turned off to cruising in general and my wife and I are going to spend our next vacation at an all inclusive resort and spend money on the local economy doing tours and having fun.
5. I think Carnival has begun to rely on their high bookings while cutting the value of services.
Enjoy your cruise and make the most of it!