Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean: Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by She

Carnival Liberty 5
Member Since 2001

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Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: March 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)

This is my fifth cruise, all of them on Carnival. I took my daughter for her 21st birthday  this was her first cruise. I was excited to be on the newest Carnival ship, and also a bit nervous about cruising with over 3,000 passengers. It was loaded with spring breakers, so that added a component to the population that was pleasant at times, not so pleasant at other times.

Embarkation : One can literally see the cruise ships from the Ft. Lauderdale airport, and the ride to the Port Everglades pier takes about 10 minutes. We opted to take a taxi rather than the Carnival shuttle. We paid 8 dollars pp one way and the people riding the shuttle paid 40 dollars pp round trip.. and.. they had to wait until there were enough people to fill the shuttle in order to leave the airport. We arrived at the pier at about 2:30 pm, and were in the Lido dining area before 4:00. It was relatively painless, even with the throngs of people. More

Ship DEcor : This ship is beautiful. She has none of the glitz and neon seen on the rest of the Carnival fleet. The artwork is gorgeous, the colors are more muted, and every detail is very artistic& a feast for the eyes. The furniture is lovely and comfortable. The plates and cutlery in both the dining rooms and the Lido deck restaurant are very attractive. I really could not believe that I was sailing on a Carnival ship.

Cabin : We booked an Inside Guarantee cabin and were upgraded to an outside cabin. Our cabin was on the Main deck towards the back ( aft ). I brought dramamine for my daughter& not knowing how she would react to sailing. Neither of us needed it & in fact she found sleeping while sailing to be soothing. My recollection of my previous Carnival cruise experiences was that the storage space was insufficient, and the rooms and bathrooms were a little bit cramped ( since we had to live out of a suitcase ). Not this time ! Carnival finally got it right ! There is an abundance of storage space& drawers, closets& even drawers underneath the couch ! The bathroom is laid out beautifully, with a lot of shelf space. The little toiletries in the basket are quality items, and our steward laid them out for us to take them home at the end of the cruise.

Food : A BIG YUM ! Very good to excellent, on the whole. Ive never had any complaints about the food on my cruises. The difference this time is in the presentation.. especially in the dining room. The food was plated beautifully and artistically, and we really felt as if we were dining in a five star restaurant. We felt no need to pay for Harrys Supper Club. My daughter referred to her dining experience as elegant& I would have to agree. The ambiance was very nice& and music was piped in during dinner, and it was great. We did not eat at the Oriental food stand ( not enough time ) or the Fish and Chips stand ( we dont usually eat fried food )& but I heard rave reviews. Two of the most popular food hangouts were the grill ( hamburgers, hot dogs, fries ) , and the Deli ( sandwiches made to order )& and of course the pizza and ice cream are always great. The coffee and hot chocolate machines are always on& and they were both delicious. My only complaint would have to be that there really are not enough food choices late at night. Pizza and room service ( same sandwiches each day ) are the only choices. There were a lot of spring breakers up until all hours of the night & and they were a little bored with the lack of variety. It was never an issue for me& I usually go to bed before 2 am. The sushi stand ( open from 5:30  8 ) was wonderful. We had a 6:15 dinner seating, but we still made it a point to eat some sushi. They now offer sake at that stand as well. The sushi is really delicious. My daughter was a little concerned about the abundance of food surrounding her all the time, but there were always healthy choices& lots of fruit and vegetables. There are two midnight buffets& one Mexican and one Gala . There is a chocolate buffet on the last sea day at lunchtime. We just didnt eat chocolate in the middle of the day , but it was gorgeous ! One complaint& an adult soda card is $38. I feel that is way too expensive& in fact, I feel that it should be free.

Overall Service : Excellent. The staff was friendly and helpful -- from the bus boys to the captain. No complaints at all. The ship was also very clean. I was up for sunrise on deck and saw people scrubbing and cleaning. In fact, they were cleaning all of the time. Our cabin steward was wonderful. I ordered cabin decorations on my daughters birthday, and sure enough, they were hung by 11 am that day !

Entertainment: Two words : John Heald. I had heard he is the best cruise director in the fleet, and had never had the opportunity to know him. But, he was our cruise director on the Liberty, and now I know why he is famous. My daughter and I both agree that he made our cruise the top notch experience that it was. The shows were good. No bar service if you were not sitting on the first floor, though. A new addition to the entertainment was a large screen on the pool deck for movies, concerts, etc. What a great idea ! We saw a few good concerts, and saw families watching movies in the evening. During the day news shows were shown, and a variety of cruise moments from around the ship. It was a genius of an idea. The in  cabin movies were very good ! We saw Walk the Line, The Family Stone, and Bewitched& and more were offered. I didnt feel as if there was enough to do at night. By the end of the cruise, we were a little tired of going to the same venues. The Karaoke bar, piano bar, one other music lounge, and the disco ( and of course the casino ) were the major entertainment areas after the shows were over at 11:30. These venues were fun&. But not fun enough to do every night. Oh, and the Cabinet Lounge.. a beautiful space with lovely music ( and great tea and sandwiches at High Tea ) would be so much better without cigars.

Gym/Spa: Beautiful space. Sea views .The only complaint I would have is the area where the yoga and Pilates classes were held. We were basically plopped down in a circle in the middle of the exercise equipment& and trying to practice yoga with bikes whirring in your ear is not pleasant. Even the instructor agreed that he was dissatisfied with the space. And.. we paid $10 pp for the classes. Carnival needs to rethink this situation.

Ports : We did not go on any shore excursions& instead preferring to go it on our own.

Freeport : We took a taxi to Lucayan Beach ( on the property of Our Lucaya Resort ). We happened to be there with a million kids on Spring Break as well as the MTV crew. The weather and beach were beautiful. We got pretty burned and lathered ourselves with aloe from the gift shop that evening.

Grand Cayman: We were still fairly burned from our day in Freeport. So, we tendered to shore ( a pain ), and shopped a bit and then went into the Hard Rock Cafe for a few drinks to celebrate my daughters 21st birthday. It was a lot of fun, and then we walked around a little and tendered back to the ship ( another pain in the 90 degree heat ). We considered swimming with the stingrays, but when I realized that there were going to be FIVE other ships in port, I decided against it. Maybe if we get to Grand Cayman again, we will attempt it.

Costa Maya: We loved this port. It was recently turned into a cruise ship port, and the native people made it very welcoming for us. There is a beautiful area just as you get off the ship for shopping and swimming and eating and drinking. Really, one doesnt even have to venture any further, but we decided to take a short taxi ride to Majahual.. a small town about 10 minutes away. The beach was a bit crowded but we had fun. There are all sorts of items to purchase and little food places right on the beach. We had native beer and shrimp tacos & and my daughter had a massage on the beach & one half hour for $20. She loved it.

All in all & a wonderful cruise. I recommend it highly. I would probably not recommend it during any school holiday weeks, or the middle two weeks in March. And, my daughter is now a cruise lover&she is looking into another cruise for next year for Spring Break with her friends. I, however, will choose a different week&.maybe on a smaller ship. A note about smoking. On the previous ships I have sailed, the smell of smoke was evident around much of the ship. On this ship, smoking was restricted to certain areas , and the overall smell was much better.

Disembarkation : For the first time, I chose to use the  self assist  method of disembarking ( taking our own bags downstairs ) rather than waiting all morning to leave the ship. We left the ship at 8:30 and were in the airport by 9 am. I recommend this to everyone ! Less

Published 04/21/06
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