My husband and I were booked on the Carnival Liberty in a Grand Suite for the June 22-29 cruise. The night before we got a call from Carnival offering to upgrade us to Captain's Suite 9199 for $1000 more, and we said yes after hearing the description of the room. Were we sorry that we did it!
9199 is a suite in the real sense of the word - a separate bedroom and living room, and two full baths - one with a tub and the other with a shower. It was well-furnished, with a nice leather L-shaped sofa in the living room, one end table and a sofa table against the wall, a bar area, two lamps and a big TV - although the satellite didn't work all that well, cutting off most programs after a few minutes. We read somewhere on this site that we could somehow hook up our iPod to the TV system, but it's not possible. It's the cabin at the very front of the ship, over the bridge, with five nice windows facing forward and windows and a sliding door on the starboard side of the ship. The suite had a capacity of five people, with a set of fold up bunks and a sofa bed in the living room. It was extremely quiet being the last room in the hall.
The bed in the bedroom was comfortable, although I don't think it was a true king size. The beds that they pushed together seemed smaller than twins, so the end result was smaller. But it was OK.
But the promised 150 sq. ft. balcony turned out to be a disaster. It was one of two balconies (in Suites 9199 and 9200) on the ship with NO ROOF. There was absolutely no protection from the sun or rain, and the sides weren't glass but painted solid iron so when we were seated we had no view at all because the sides were about four feet high and impossible to see over unless standing. It was furnished with two lounge chairs and two arm chairs. The front and part of the side of the balcony had plexiglass panels to control the wind, and they did control it well but when sitting in port they just helped heat things up even more. The balcony was sold as being 150 sq. ft. but much of it was unusable due to the configuration of the sides, and the deck - being out in the sun all day - really heated up to the point that you couldn't walk barefoot on it. We were also quite visible to everyone on the upper decks who glanced that way, and while this didn't bother me at all it might be a problem for some. Nowhere in the cabin or on the balcony was there a table and chairs to have a drink or a snack. An odd omission in a suite, if you ask me.
When we got to the cabin on Saturday the two bunk beds in the living room were folded down and when we asked to have them put away we were told that it would be done that night. The sofas were also out of place, back to back instead of in an L-shape, which wasn't corrected until I asked that it be done, on Sunday.
The cabin was lacking some things I've come to expect on cruise ships. There were no Q-tips or cotton balls; no hand lotion or shower cap. What it did have must have been the weakest hair dryer on the seas. If I had long hair it would have taken all day for it to dry my hair. There was low-quality shampoo in a pump dispenser and bath gel in the other half of the dispenser, but no conditioner. The three items they included in the bathrooms were a small tube of Crest, Ax men's cologne and Breathe Right nasal strips to prevent snoring. Nothing else but that weird selection. Unfortunately, one of the bathrooms had a faint whiff of sewerage for much of the ship.
The walk in closet was well-equipped with hangers and drawers and the safe, although it said it needed a credit card to operate, worked with the room card. The card that locked it had to open it, though, so make sure you keep track of whose card was used.
The food was good for the most part, but lunch in Emile's was a madhouse and I ate whatever type of food had the shortest line. The Mongolian Wok took about 1/2 hour from start to finish most days, but the fish and chips, Guy Fieri's and the Mexican place routinely had shorter lines. There were a lot of water/iced tea dispensers, arranged in good locations, and getting a drink was never a problem.
We ate in the main dining room every night, at around 7:30, and had great waiters - Sushant, I Nyoman and Michael. After the first night we asked for and got them for the next six nights thanks to Joyce at the hostess desk. We had a reservation at Diamonds the first night, but although it said dress was cruise casual they wouldn't let my husband in in shorts (and a nice shirt with a collar) and he didn't feel like walking back to change, so we left. There was no one else there, but I guess his bare legs would have offended the staff. Which brings us to the dress code for dinner. I saw people in the main dining room at dinnertime who were dressed very nicely, but others who looked like they were going out to wash the car. There didn't seem to be much enforcement of the dress code. Guys had hats on, t-shirts, scruffy looking shorts, etc.. and the women in some cases weren't a lot better. Even on the two formal nights I saw people who were wearing t-shirts and shorts. They needed better enforcement of the dress code or they should just stop pretending that it exists.
The crowd on the ship was fine. I read a few reviews and expected the worst but everyone was quite well-behaved except, perhaps, for the group who held up the ship for 1.2 hour one day while they drunkenly took pictures of each other on the pier. I think we should have left them behind. ;-)
The cabin attendants, buffet staff and dining room staff were friendly, hard working and helpful without fail. They put on a little show every night, and seeing them do Gangnam Style was memorable - to say the least. They all tried very hard, and it showed.
The shop weren't as numerous or as large as the shops on the other ships I've been on, but they had the usual Bijoux Terner and Bella Perlina sales, a small selection of liquor and cigarettes, perfume/cosmetics, jewelry and ship souveniers.
The spa was run by Elemis, like most of them at sea, and I had a treatment that was great - and the woman providing it wasn't as pushy about buying their products as many other have been. The ship photographers weren't as pushy as some others, either, and I appreciated it. Guest services, when I needed them, were helpful and polite.
The internet cafe was small, dark, hidden away and hard to find. A big disappointment. However, the WiFi signal was the best I've ever used on a ship - it worked well, all over. The library was small, not open often - like an hour a day - and largely useless. The day I went the books were in locked cabinets and there was a pile of chairs blocking access to them. If you read, bring your own books or Kindle.
The layout of the ship was awkward and problematic. At times it was impossible to get from one end to the other without having to go up and down levels, and there was no place to walk around the entire ship, inside or out.
Also problematic were the tenders. Tendering to Half Moon Cay was going on for literally 3.5 hours before tender tickets weren't needed and while waiting they did an emergency sound test and blasted rock and roll at such an extreme volume that it was impossible to watch TV, talk or hear the tendering announcements for about an hour.
Getting off at the end was done well - we were off at 7:15 and getting our bags and going through Customs was easy. It was far more efficient than most other ships I've been on.
My final verdict is mixed, but for what you pay the suites on the Carnival ships come with no extra privileges or perks except for early debarkation. If you want a real suite experience and if you're paying for a suite, book one on another cruise line. You'll be amazed at the difference.