Just returned yesterday from an Eastern Caribbean cruise onboard the Carnival Liberty.
Flew in to Miami Airport the day before. A couple of tips ..... depending on where your hotel is (if you go in the day before) you really don't need a rental car. Take a taxi. It's cheaper. However, we rented a car (we didn't know) and had to return it back to the airport Saturday.
Since Miami is such a large cruise terminal Carnival has a couple of things to help you. Technically you can check it at the airport for your cruise (they will take your luggage and you can pay for transportation to the port). Your second option is to check in at the cruise terminal.
My suggestion: From the airport to the cruise terminal take a taxi. The cab fee from the airport to the Port is a flat $25 no matter how many people are in the vehicle. If you use Carnival Shuttle Service you will pay $16 a person (from Miami). We took a cab to the port and back.
Once at the terminal embarkation was fairly simple. The Liberty had returned from the Western Caribbean. When that happens it takes a little longer to clear the ship. Carnival had warned us .... so we did not get on the ship early. It was right at 1 pm. Our room was ready at 1:30 and we went and ate. No issues at all.
Dining on the Ship:
The Liberty has all kinds of dining options. Guy's Burger Joint -- is awesome!!!! The burgers and toppings are great. Cooked to perfection. They have select hours 12 - 6, so make sure and try it out. I ended up eating there 3 times I believe.
Blue Iguana Cantina -- FABULOUS!!! I wish I would have tried it sooner. They serve breakfast burritos and burritos during lunch time. I liked the lunch burritos better! They are only open until 2 though. So don't miss out.
Main Dining Room -- We ate in the Main Dining Room 5 of the 7 nights. The Liberty staff dances or sings every night for you. It's great. Make sure and sample the menu. Technically you are allowed to order everything on the menu if you want. I was with one other person. We always ordered two starters. For the main course we both ordered what we wanted, and found one other menu item to sample between the two of us.
Pizza -- was not my favorite. We ate there once late in the evening. It tasted kind of old.
Fish and Chips -- We also did not try this. It's upstairs in the Lido restaurant area. We just never made it there.
Half Moon Cay -- absolutely amazing. We rented a cabana and will definitely do that the next time also. The cabana is the way to go!!! There are 15 cabanas on site at Half Moon Cay. The higher the number the further away from the music, food, entertainment, ship etc. If you rent a cabana then make sure that when you board the ship on the first day you go IMMEDIATELY to Guest Services and choose your cabin number. I would suggest 1-5 if you want to be near the action.
St. Thomas -- beautiful. We did not do a tour. We shopped. There are plenty of places to shop when you exit the ship here.
San Juan -- Participated in a tour of the city. It was nice. We toured the fort also which was pretty neat. Several people we met participated in the Rain Forest excursion and absolutely loved it. If we go back we will do that in the future.
Grand Turk -- absolutely beautiful view. The ship literally docks RIGHT next to the beach. It is less than a 5 minute walk to get to the beach, Margaritaville and shopping. Very easy to get around their. There is also a pool and lounging area next to Margaritaville is separate from the beach. They have a few Cabanas there that can be rented also.
We loved the ship. The Cruise Director Karl does a fabulous job of keeping everyone informed. The decorations were wonderful and activities provided for everyone of all ages. All of the staff I encountered were very friendly and do their best to take care of your needs.
This is the largest ship I have ever been on. The trick at first was understanding where you needed to go (Aft, Fwd or midship) and which elevator will take you there. Once you discovered that you are good to go.
FIRST SUGGESTION: If you flew in to Miami or Fort Lauderdale Carnival has a sweet program. It's called "Luggage Express." If you enroll in this program then you place your bags outside your room the night before. Carnival will provide you with a red/white luggage sticker to place on each bag you want to check at the airport. They take your bags for you -- you never see them again until you get to your final destination. The fee is $20 per person + the airline baggage fee. Totally worth it!!!! Carnival will bring to your stateroom your boarding bass and provide you with your baggage claim number (in case they are lost). When we got to the airport we were able to go straight to security. No long lines for us. We arrived to our final destination and our bags were there!!!!
Carnival provides 3 disembarkation options: Self-Assist, Zone, or Luggage Express.
Self-Assist - you carry your own bags out. The downfall, you have to wait for Carnival to page your floor to exit the ship. It seemed like it was going quickly. They allow you to exit the ship starting at 7:30 a.m. They call my floors.
Zone -- You set your bags out the night before. Based on your flight, whether you drove etc your room steward gives you blue luggage tags. They call you to exit based on that tag number.
Luggage Express -- If you enroll in this program you are given a designated location to be at by a certain time. We had to be in the Golden Dining Room before 8 a.m. The employee makes sure everyone is there that enrolled and will then escort you to customs. Very smooth.
Once outside you determine how you are traveling. Taxi, personal vehicle, shuttle etc. The taxi line went really fast. Carnival had that area roped off and there are plenty of cab drivers. We waited in line maybe 5 minutes before it was our turn.
Overall great cruise!!!! Wonderful time! Loved the ship. I would cruise again on the liberty!