My husband and I are a young married couple that love taking a yearly trip together and seeing new places. We met another married couple our age last year and jokingly discussed going on a cruise together. Well one thing led to another and BAM we had our first cruise booked. We booked directly through Carnival back in July and managed to get a great deal on an Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Liberty. We booked our cruise for January of the next year because we heard that is when weather is the best in that area...and people were right!
We arrived in Miami a day early to make sure if we had any flight issues we wouldn't miss our ship. I strongly recommend this. It was nice to have a night to rest after traveling all day before we got on the ship. We stayed at the Springhill Marriott Suites and it really was a nice place for a cheap deal. It is a little further away from the exciting parts of Miami, but if you are just looking for a place to catch a snooze before your vacation, it is perfect!
We slept in a little the next day and scheduled a cab to come and pick us up around noon to take us to the Miami port. Our taxi driver was awesome and had a great personality as he took us to the port. He charged us very fairly and we graciously gave him a nice tip when he pulled us right up to the door. Upon arriving at the port the porters greeted us and started loading up our luggage. We expected to have to wait in line a long time before embarkation, but were pleasantly surprised. The line moved quickly with both the initial security scan and the line to get our boarding passes and such. Fun dance music was playing in the port and a lot of very friendly Carnival workers greeted us along the way. I thought the embarkation process was very smooth, I highly recommend you have your boarding passes and IDs handy to make it go even quicker.
We arrived at the port around noon and were on the ship by 12:45. We decided to grab some lunch considering our rooms would not be ready until 1:30. We tried out Guy's Burger Join...and it was delicious! The hamburger patties were hand formed and you get an endless amount of choices on what to put on it. I loved the grilled mushrooms. The fries were delicious as well, we even got just an order of those later on the cruise.
Around 1:30 we went to see if our room's were ready. We managed to get a free upgrade to the Empress Deck which was Deck 7 and I fell in love with the floor. I don't think I could ever stay anywhere else. We had been told it can sometimes be later in the evening or the next morning before you receive your luggage, but we were very happy when we saw most of our luggage was already at our stateroom doors at 1:30. Our room steward greeted us instantly and was the sweetest guy. He told us he would be happy to get us anything we need and always had a very cheerful attitude. I really liked him. In fact, the entire floor crew was very friendly all throughout the week. Our room was nice and tidy and actually more spacious then I pictured. We had an inside room and I was worried about not having a window, but it really didn't bother me one bit. Tons of closet space and we opted to have the bed made in to a king size. The only slight issue was we found a wet towel in our closet, but we didn't mind. I know they have to rush to get those rooms ready in between cruises. Everything else was clean and nice.
We had plenty of time to explore the ship and hang out before the ship set sail at 4:00. We got our suitcases unpacked in our rooms and then decided to go exploring. We found our dining room (the Golden Olympian) and then decided to check out the view from the Lido deck. Hubby and I got our first drink by a bartender walking around. It was from the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar and it was very yummy! At 4:00 the "Sail Away" party began..and it was a blast! Karl with K was a fantastic cruise director and kept us very entertained. My husband isn't much of a dancer so we watched the party from the 10th deck but I did manage to get him to do the YMCA with the group. It was a great starting vibe to the trip.
Later that evening we got fixed up and ready for our first dinner in the MDR. We chose to have anytime dining and decided that next time we will get a scheduled dinner time. We just didn't have that personal of an experience in the dining room and didn't really find a waiter that we LOVED during the trip. The food was all fantastic and we got to try a lot of new things. My only slight complaint was that service was pretty slow and all our waiters seemed very rushed. We had to hurry and spit out if we wanted anything extra or they would disappear and we wouldn't see them for awhile. Dinner sometimes would take 2 hours just because of all the waiting we did. It was all good though and gave us time to talk. We heard that schedule dining wasn't as hectic.
We were able to make the first show that evening and it was spectacular! The Liberty dancers were very entertaining and I loved the singing talents of Trent and Shelley. We got to see a sampling of the first comedians for the Punchliner Comedy Club too and that was nice. I loved the music and flashy costumes during the show.
After the show we got a late night snack and headed to the room for some sleep.
Our next day we were in Nassau, Bahamas very early. We slept in a bit and then decided to get up and have some breakfast at Emiles buffet and head out to port. Nassau was not too bad. I thought the port was kind of dirty and there were a lot of pushy locals trying to get us to buy stuff. We walked a bit before we find a super nice taxi guy that offered to take us down to Cable Beach. He was my favorite taxi driver and he told us all about the sites as he drove. Cable Beach was really pretty and we had free beach access through the Sheraton resort. We walked over to the straw market as well and got some really neat souvenirs. The ladies there were kind of pushy too...but you just have to prepare yourself for that. We caught a cheap bus back to the port (only $1.25 a person) and made it back with plenty of time. We got back on the ship and went and took a nap and got ready for dinner. This was also our first elegant night.
Elegant night was fabulous. I loved all the photography stops..even if we only bought one picture. The photographers were fun and posed us kind of neat. We had a delicious prime rib and lobster dinner. After dinner we watched the "Wonderful World" show and it was fantastic! Costuming was very neat and the dancers were great.
Next day was our first Sea Day. My poor husband was very seasick the whole day and didn't get to enjoy much. I highly recommend the medicine Bonine. That ended up being the only thing that saved him the entire trip. He said it worked miracles. While he rested in our room, I kind of explored activities on the ship. I went to the hairy chest contest and it was hilarious! I thought Carnival had a lot of fun shows like this throughout the trip. I also went to the ladies Tea Party. The desserts were very yummy....and the water was pretty rocky but I still enjoyed the tea party experience. I went and relaxed on the Serenity deck and ready my book as the sun was going down. It was pretty windy, but very relaxing up there. My husband and I had attempted the first night to go in to the hot tubs there and there were two kids (kids were not supposed to be on that deck) in the hot tub and they wouldn't leave. The water was also pretty cold. We found the hot tubs on the other side of the ship that was for adults only and they were much nicer.
That night we had reservations at Diamond Steakhouse. My husband finally perked up a bit and was able to go. It was a great experience. Food and service was very fancy and more than worth the extra bit of money you pay for that dinner.
Next day was in St. Thomas. We woke up a little early and grabbed some breakfast burritos from the Blue Iguana Cantina. Unfortunately this was the only time we got to eat here because it had the most bizarre hours and we missed lunch there every time it was open. St. Thomas was the port I was looking forward to the most. I thought it was pretty from the outside, but I wasn't super impressed with this port. Carnival had insisted we go to the downtown area for shopping. We got there and it was nothing but diamond stores...and they were all very pushy. I got so sick of jewelry. Best place down there was the "Bones" rum bar...delicious and they let you poor your own rum! We took a taxi to Maagens Bay and it was very pretty. Sadly we got to see some really ugly parts of St. Thomas while taking the taxi to the beach. One cool thing about the island was all the iguanas everywhere. Not used to seeing that.
Our next day was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. This ended up being our absolute favorite port. The historical landmarks were amazing and the town was so clean and felt safe. I loved it there. I would love to go back and visit it again and spend some more time. The buildings and old cobblestone rode were fascinating. After dinner that night we went to the Blue Iguana Mexican Fiesta and it was fun. Fun dancing music and cheesy prizes ha ha. Finally got my husband to dance and he loved it!
Next day was in Grand Turk. The water here was beautiful. The port here was nice because the port shops were right there when you got off the ship and it was very clean and well kept. There was also the beach right off the ship so you didn't have to take a taxi anywhere. We went on a sail and snorkel excursion later on in the day and it was great. They took us to a coral reef where we saw lots of colorful fish that swam right up to your mask. They also gave us some pretty strong rum punch. That evening was our second elegant night so it was fun to get all dressed up again. We attended my favorite show that evening. The "Just Rock" show was fantastic! It went through rock music since the 50s. So fun!! We also caught a couple of the comedy shows that night as well and loved Cowboy Bill. He was hilarious! Comedy show was pretty inappropriate so for sure don't take children. If you could look past the crude language...it was actually very funny. We went and saw Cowboy Bill the next evening as well.
Our next day was our second Sea Day. Hubby took his Bonine and did much better this day. We checked out the Punchliner Comedy Brunch for the second time and it was great.The food choices were really unique and very yummy. There wasn't a whole lot going on this day that we were really interested in, but we managed to find a few fun things. We went to the Love & Marriage show and that was hilarious. Loved it! We also watched the Gender Showdown and Karl with a K once again was very entertaining. That evening after dinner we watched Cowboy Bill again and soaked up the last bit of our vacation.
Disembarkation the next day was very smooth. We kind of soaked in as much time as possible and went to breakfast. Took us no time at all to go through customs and pick up our luggage. Caught a taxi to our hotel (the same one as before) and spent an extra day in Miami.
This is a super lengthy review, but I just love talking about our trip. I would highly recommend cruising to anyone and had a very happy experience! Can't wait to go again!