First let me start out by saying that my husband and I were first time cruisers. My husband did not want to go on a cruise for our 32nd anniversary. It was a very hard sale. He finally agreed -- reluctantly. I booked the 7-night Western Caribbean Cruise with the Carnival Liberty -- Sept 22 -- 29th.
Living in Northern Wisconsin...we flew in the day before our cruise. We stayed at the Hilton Miami Downtown -- which was very convenient.
Since the cruise was such a hard sell for my husband -- I reserved an Ocean Suite -- room 7329. This gave us VIP privileges. Embarkation was fast and easy. No lines. We were able to eat right away on the Lido deck and then explore the ship. We could not believe how nice people were on board the ship. All we had to do is mention that we were first time cruisers, and everyone wanted to help and give advice. We went to our room and was pleasantly surprised that all of our luggage was already in our room. I had our room decorated with the anniversary decorations -- purchased through Carnival. My husband was amazed at the size of the room. We had so much storage space. The bathroom was large with a whirlpool bathtub. So far so good!!!
When they say a fun day at sea---they are not kidding. They had something for all ages. We brought walking talkies (great tip)! I took a cooking class at Harry's Steak House. They not only showed us how to cook some wonderful dishes, but they even served us a sample of each dish. Yum! They announced the signing up for the Chef's Table. I heard about this often on the cruise reviews --so I signed us up for Thursday evening.
One of the suggestions was to use the room service each morning. What a great idea before our excursions. We were up each morning before breakfast was being served. This gave us plenty of time to have a nice relaxing breakfast before we were up and exploring the many sights. Another GREAT idea was to bring a few zip lock -- water tight bags. I carried a couple of the big ones in my excursion bag. It came in handy if we had a sudden rain storm. I would put my camera in the bag and other items to keep them protected.
One last tip: Bring an emergency kit -- aspirin, cold medicine, bug spray, band aides, flashlight, etc.
We did the Mayan Ruins of Tulum in Cozumel. Angel was fantastic and very knowledgeable about the Mayan culture and the ruins. The ruins reminded us of Pompeii. It is hot and humid. Make sure you bring sun screen, hat and a bathing suit. The ocean is right next to the ruins....and a nice dip is a wonderful way of cooling off. We had fish tacos at one of the local restaurants at the end of the tour. They even gave us cold rags to cool off our necks and body before we got on the bus.
The next day we went to Xunantunich Mayan Ruins in Belize. Some complaints that I read about before our trip was that it was a long 2 hour bus trip to get to the ruins. Two hours might be long for little children -- adults it was fascinating drive. Ken our tour guide was so passionate about his home of Belize. When we arrived we took a small ferry across the river. Then he first took us to see the monkeys playing in the trees before we reached the ruins. They were beyond magnificent. I'm afraid of heights -- so my husband went to the top while I took pictures. We were only a few miles from Guatemala. He had the time of his life. We had lunch at a local restaurant. What a wonderful meal ! They also had local artist. I suggest you buy from the local people. You help the village and their art work is great!
On Wednesday we went to the Maya Key Private Island. It was beautiful. Honduras has sand flees. Make sure you bring bug spray. I only had two little bites. Some people had red circles the size of a dime all over their body. If you forget to bring the bug spray -- they do sell it in all the shops. Maya Key had a wonderful animal sanctuary. They also had a wonderful lunch.
Our last excursion on Thursday was the dolphin encounter and stingray city on Grand Caymon Island. What a thrill to feed the stingrays. They are truly gentle giants. The dolphin encounter was everything I wished it would be.
I read many complaints about the food. The food on the lido deck was normal cafeteria food. This is perfect if you just want to be in your bathing suit and lounge around the pool. The exception was the Blue Iguana Cantina and Fish and Chips. Yum!! We had anytime dining. We wanted a table for two each time -- by the window. The food was wonderful. It was better than the lido deck and it was worth dressing up a little better than a swim suit. We also ate at Harry's Steak House which was first class dining. On Thursday we dined at the Chef's Table. Wow!!! Our chef greeted us and we had a private reception with Champaign and hordereves. We then had a tour with only 10 of us through the galley. He showed us how they cook for 3,000 guest plus staff. The pastry chef showed us how they make their delicious melting cake. We were then treated to a seven course meal in a private room. Wow...wow...Wow!!
I also read many complaints about the photographers taking pictures. My husband and I thought it was a great idea. You have professional photographers taking your picture at beautiful backdrops for no charge at the sitting. You don't have to buy not even one picture. What a great memory of your trip. You could not take a better picture with your camera. These are professionals with professional backdrops.
Our room steward Marut - not only kept the room immaculate. . . but on Thursday he had all the towel animals on our bed with two new swans kissing. He also placed some of the rose peddles and anniversary decorations on the bed. Wow...this is what you call going beyond the call of duty!
By the time Friday approached ...I asked my husband if he enjoyed the cruise. I was certain I knew his answer. He enjoyed it more than any other trip we ever went on for our anniversary. Personally Italy and Paris was my favorite trip -- this came in second place. He wants to book another cruise for our next trip.
Debarkation day went smoothly. We stayed overnight in Miami. I think this takes all your stress away.
Last point -- the staff works very hard. They work 7 days a week for 6 months. We saw some guest treating the staff very poorly. Please be respectful. Please ask your children to be respectful.