I chose the Carnival Liberty based on the price, the ports, and the good reviews received on cruisecritic. I will admit that I was very wary about cruising on Carnival but, now, I don't where Carnival got its negative reviews. I thought that everything was as good if not better than our previous cruises.
I booked two pre-cruise hotels from priceline.com. We live ten hours away from Miami so we opted to travel to Orlando and visit Downtown Disney. We stayed at the Doubletree By Hilton Orlando At Seaworld. What almost turned me off to priceline was when I called the hotel to request a non-smoking room, the operator told me that I had to call priceline for my requests. I did, and the priceline operator said that if I wished to specify a non-smoking room, that I should have used their regular online price instead of the name your price option. I let it go and decided to do just but with another online travel service. When we arrived at the hotel however, the nice gentleman at reception asked me if I had requested a smoking room and two beds. I said, no that I would prefer nonsmoking and one bed. And that is what we got! We paid $75 for a truly beautiful room. That night, we went to a wonderful burlesque comedy dinner show called Treasure Tavern. The food was good and the show was great! We then went to Downtown Disney where we window shopped and listened to outdoor entertainment. The next morning we drove to Fort Lauderdale to stay at our next pricelined hotel, Ocean Sky Hotel and Resort. The only thing that I was looking for in Fort Lauderdale was an affordable hotel on the beach. We paid $99 for this hotel. It was older hence the cheap price. The hotel rooms need serious updating and the bed was very uncomfortable but the hotel fit my needs to be on the beach so that I could look for shells. I fail to mention that I had to pay parking for both hotels but I think that is par for course nowadays.
We got up the next morning and drove the short way to the Port of Miami. We arrived around 10:30 and parked in the parking garages at the port. It is worth it to me to have my car right there at the port when I get off the ship. But for that privilege, it costs us $20 a day. I will say that the Port of Miami is easier to get into than Port Everglades. At Port Everglades, you had to show your boarding passes before you even permitted entry into the port. At the Port of Miami, we just drove in.
We purchased FTTF and boarded right after the wedding parties and all the Carnival Priority Clubs. We were in our rooms by 11:45. We were there so early, we didn't need the FTTF to get on early but it was nice to get to our cabins and put down our things! Our luggage was delivered early that afternoon.
The Carnival Liberty is a beautiful ship that has been well maintained. After all the sedate cruises on MSC and Princess, the decor did come off as a little more festive and bright. We had a 4J cabin on the Empress Deck. I had researched to find the quietest deck, and we were not disappointed. The 4J cabin is an interior cabin that features a picture window with no view but plenty of light. We loved it! I never travel without a scopolamine patch so if there was any motion because of the location of this cabin, I did not feel it at all. My husband who rarely get sicks, did not feel any motion either. We had the best sweet lady who was our room attendant. I cannot remember her name (sorry!) but she was simply the best. She always met us with a greeting and a smile on her face.
The food is truly a blur. I don't know how anyone could go hungry aboard the Carnival Liberty. There were so many different options for meals. We tried them all and always found something to love!
We had Your Time Dining. I almost didn't try this because I heard about the very close dining of tables for 2's, the impersonal service, the wait time and the slow wait service. We didn't find any of that to be true. Well . . . except for the tables for 2 . . . they were close but I didn't feel like they were that close. When you check in for Your Time Dining in the beautiful Golden Olympian, you are asked for your room number which generates your name. The wait staff uses your name the entire service. We never had the same wait service but we found all to be genuine, friendly and helpful. We found Your Time Dining to be a pleasant experience.
We went to all the shows. I found these shows to be better than most of the cruises than we had been on before. I thought that the cruise director, Karl, the entertainment team, singers, and dancers to be fun and energetic. The theater is truly spectacular with great seating!
My husband and I don't drink but we never felt bothered by the waiters. We were asked once wherever we went, and then, never again. Picture folks were everywhere, but again, we didn't feel bothered.
We snorkeled at all of our ports. We always carry our own snorkel equipment (masks, fins, and snorkel vests) and always book excursions before we leave home. In Cozumel, we booked an excursion with CozumelH20 that was cancelled because of high winds. We went on to snorkel Dzul-Ha Reef at Money Bar. This excursion cost us a taxi ride plus our drinks and snacks. I always love the crystal clear pictures that we get at Dzul-Ha, however, you must watch out for the currents.
In Belize, we booked Sun Kissed Goffs Caye Beach Break & Snorkeling Excursion through Island Marketing. This is one excursion that I wished that I had booked through Carnival. It took 30 minutes to tender to Belize, then 30 minutes to tender to Goff's Caye, then another 30 back to Belize, and then 30 to tender back to the Liberty. If I had booked through Carnival, we would have tendered directly to the snorkeling spot from Liberty and then, directly back to the Liberty. Goff's Caye is not available through Carnival, but I think that there would have been one that I liked as well as this one. When we got to Goff's Caye which is very beautiful, my husband and I decided not to snorkel due to the dangerous conditions caused by the high winds. The staff from this excursion were friendly and helpful, but I do wish that we had taken another excursion.
In Roatan, we booked the Bananarama Beach Package for $35 each. This package included taxi to and from the cruise port, a beach chair, and a welcome drink. We snorkeled the beautiful reef at West Bay and took many pictures of coral and fish. This is the second time that we have used this excursion. I also walked to the right of Bananarama for about a quarter of mile and found Karma Jewelry. Karma Jewelry is owned by Miss Karla who makes beautiful handmade silver jewelry. I purchased a beautiful sunburst pendant.
In Grand Cayman, we booked Fat Fish Adventures for a four-stop jet ski tour. Ryan was the best tour guide! He took us to swim with the sting rays, took our pictures with the sting rays, took us snorkeling at the prettiest live reef that I can remember in recent history, took us to find star fish, and then took us through the mangroves. Ryan let us take us much time as we wanted at each of these spots! I still can't get over how beautiful the reef was! I highly recommend this tour!
The FTTF that we purchased was worth the price alone when we had to tender in Belize and Grand Cayman. It also served well when we ready to disembark. We were the first off the ship and through customs in no time at all.
We will be cruising with Carnival again because of the friendly staff, good food, great shows, and beautiful ship!