Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by browneyedwoman: Carnival Liberty Review April 2013
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Carnival Liberty Review April 2013
We usually take land vacations in the Caribbean or Mexico and stay in smaller boutique style resorts. This time we didn't want to be lying out in the sun all day, so I thought a cruise would give us a balance between the beach and non sun activities. We wanted to take an easy week long jaunt and I wanted to go somewhere that we hadn't been before. We decided on a cruise to Belize, Honduras, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Belize sounded intriguing to me and cave tubing was just the adventure that we needed.
For our pre cruise night we were fortunate to get a room on points at the Hyatt Coral Gables. We have stayed at Hyatt Hotels in Cancun, Maui and Aruba in the past and never used any of our points. I was happily surprised that we qualified for a free room. The Hyatt Coral Gables is an older distinguished hotel that has a Spanish hacienda vibe to it. It isn’t on the beach so we had to settle for a few hours lounging by the pool. I would definitely stay there again for a More short stay. They had interesting breakfast selections like key lime waffles and orange French toast. Their concierge was helpful in suggesting a Cuban restaurant, Azucar for dinner. We shared several tapas dishes and listened to live music from the Cuban band.
Since we had FTTF we slept in a little and left the hotel around 10 AM. It was an easy twenty minute cab ride from the hotel to the airport. We made sure to tell the porters at the terminal that we had FTTF, so they would put the special tags on our luggage. My husband had money out to tip the porters, but it turned me off when one of the porters said "We’re the ones who make sure your bags get on the ship.” It sounded like a threat the way he said it. We gave him the money and had no problems, but it wasn’t a very welcoming way to start the trip.
There wasn’t much of a line when we went in but we were still routed to the special FTTF line and got through the check in desk quickly. Then we sat and waited and waited. We were able to go on the ship in the first round of passengers. It was very convenient. We were able to go directly to our room, drop off our carry-on luggage and meet the room steward who was nice. We saw our luggage on carts by the elevators and our room steward later put the luggage inside our room for us. We gave him a pre tip and asked him to leave out the towel animals from each day and to make sure I had an extra towel for my hair. The second day he took apart the towel animal so I put a note on the next one saying "Please don’t destroy me.” From then on he left them all in our room. I really look forward to the towel animals and kept a small zoo of them on our sofa!!
We were in room 8280 on the Verandah deck in a balcony room which was a great location close to the atrium elevators. The hallway went from the front to the back of the ship so it was easy to navigate.
On the first day I wanted to have the ceviche from the Fish and Chips station because it’s something I forgot to try on my prior cruises, so off we went on a quest. Ceviche from Mexico is one my favorite vacation foods, but the Carnival version isn’t quite as good. I don’t know if I would search it out again. My husband tried the Octopus salad from the same area and didn’t like it very much.
On our first day we hung out on the Lido deck listening to music in front of the Tequila Bar. I had a funship special for my first drink and it packed a punch. My husband got picked to do some dancing to the Tequila song. We stayed for the line dancing since that’s my favorite. I requested the electric slide for the 80’s crowd and the DJ played it. It was a good start to the cruise!
Food on the Ship
We mostly ate in the MDR and had Your Time Dining. On our first night the hostess asked us what kind of a table we wanted and we told her a two person. We were in an awkward table seated on the L side of the hostess station in a long line of two person tables. Later in the cruise we were seated twice at a very nice table by a window on the right. We made friends with the drink waiters since we ordered from them each night. We had a special occasion one night and ordered a very nice bottle of Prosecco.
I was looking forward to the escargot since it’s one of our favorites and it was delicious. I told my husband to order two of the escargot dishes because I mistakenly thought they only served two on the dish. Instead we were both served two dishes of six escargot which were a bit much. I think I’ve had enough escargot for a while but it was really nice to see it back on the menu. I ordered a vegetarian Indian dish one night. I usually don’t like vegetables but it was really spicy and tasted great. We only remembered to try the Taste Bar once and we liked it. I wish we would have remembered to go more often.
We ate at the dinner buffet twice instead of in the MDR. The first time was the Belize day since I was so tired. We had seafood newburg from the buffet and contrary to some reports, we both thought it was pretty good. They didn’t seem to have a good variety of soup or desserts in the buffet even though they have such great hot and cold soup selections in the MDR. They should have a large pot of both a hot and a cold soup each night at the buffet which would be a great inexpensive addition. I couldn’t find the warm chocolate melting cake on the buffet which was probably for the best. By going to the buffet we missed the Bitter and Blanc which we seem to have done each cruise we’ve been on.
We always find favorite food to order on our vacations and this time it was the huevos rancheros and arepas at the Blue Iguana Cantina. I have since tried to find arepas at the supermarket and at Spanish restaurants in our area to no avail. The ones that I have found don’t have the same sweet corn taste to them.
On Board Activities
When I heard that the Liberty had the Alchemy bar in it, I was excited since I like trying different martinis. I tasted the Spicy Chipotle Pineapple Martini and Forty is the New Twenty. The spicy martini was something I ordered a few times since it was so good but make sure you also order water. My husband really liked a drink called a Negroni when we were in Barbados several years ago. When he asks for one in our area most bartenders have no clue what he’s talking about. My husband made a friend with the Alchemy bartender, Dario who also likes them. For those who’ve never tried one, it has gin, Campari and vermouth in it. My husband says that Dario made a great Negroni. We also enjoyed hanging out with Inna and Jovanna at the Alchemy Bar. One of them made a special very spicy drink for another patron who was braver than I am. If you want a drink with more of a kick to it, just ask them. The Alchemy bar is a great addition to the ship for the discerning adult crowd.
I love going to piano bars which is one of the reasons we continue to cruise on Carnival. We’ve been to piano bars on land vacations on several Caribbean islands over the years. Peter Brenner, who seems like a low key kind of guy, was the piano player on the Liberty. He had a good list of songs that he knows to choose from but was more than willing to try to play anything that was suggested. If he didn’t know a specific song, he would play another from the same artist or would try to learn it for another night. We liked him a lot. We talked about obscure Billy Joel songs with him and he played the song, James from Turnstiles for us which was a treat.
The first night in the piano bar it was so freezing that I actually ordered a specialty coffee to warm up. The rest of the week I made sure I wore capris and it didn’t seem so cold. I think they may have adjusted the temperature. The lights in the piano bar amused us as they had a mind of their own. They would suddenly dim or all come on at once. It was like divine intervention. Ahhhh!
I’m an eighties girl and my sweet husband humored me by going to the eighties dance hour in the nightclub one night. They overestimated the crowd’s taste for Michael Jackson, but they did play a few fun one hit wonders. They also played my favorite, the Electric Slide. We had a good time!
The atrium lobby is another good venue to listen to live music. One night in the piano bar one of the singers on board stopped in and sang a song. We happened to be in Atrium lobby the next day when he started his regular set so we stayed for it. He had a great voice. We also enjoyed listened to a duo there one night before dinner.
We didn’t go to any shows this cruise and we only participated in one trivia contest which was a TV theme show contest. Sadly we did not go home with a ship on a stick. I was disappointed that they changed the rules (probably to save money) and we weren’t eligible to attend the Past Guest Party. They also stopped having the Fun Farewell Party. They were both events that we enjoyed and made us feel special on past cruises. I was looking forward to going to them again and was disappointed that I couldn’t.
On the sea days we lounged in the Serenity area. There was an interesting incident that occurred on our first sea day. As always the area was full. A really nice older gentleman had been sitting next to us but he left and a couple who seemed like they had too much to drink then sat in the chairs. I was in the ladies room for the beginning of the incident so I didn’t actually witness it. When I came back my husband told me that the couple next to us were arguing and rolling around on the ground. I was surprised that security didn’t come and break it up. Several people left the area. My husband isn’t fazed easily and just stayed there until they calmed down.
Cave tubing in Belize was one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. Everyone who knows me has been surprised that I chose to do this but when we go on vacation I’m more adventurous than I am in my normal everyday life. We had FTTF which helped us to get on the first tender off the ship in Belize. I was surprised how long the ride on the tender took to get to Belize.
We had a small glitch in using FTTF. Since this was the very first time we ever used the tender process and I didn’t know what to expect, I called down to guest services to ask where we should go and what time we should go to get on the first tender with FTTF. I should have known better. The woman who answered the phone told me to wait in line and get a tender ticket. Thankfully I read enough online to know she was wrong. We just improvised that morning and physically went down to the guest services desk and asked some people who were waiting if they were FTTF or platinum and waited with them. Eventually someone did come and get all of us, checked that we were eligible and escorted us to the first tender.
We chose to book on our own with VIV cave tubing because they don’t make you carry the tubes the whole way. I was very thankful for that. The walk was about forty minutes and even though we only carried our tubes for the last ten minutes of it, by the end of the walk I was tired. My husband said that he would have carried my tube if it had been much longer. They told us to put the tube on top of our heads to carry them and to hold the hand straps to walk with them. I found that it was more comfortable to prop the tube on my shoulder which looked funny because I’m short and the tube was almost as tall as I am!
When we were carrying the tubes just before we got to the water, we had to walk down a small hill that had rocks to step on and had a handrail to hold onto. There was a very disruptive kid in line behind us. When I was on the hill, he was several people behind and above me and he started to kick rocks which due to gravity fell down the incline. A few of the rocks hit my calf and really hurt. I yelled out for him to stop it, but his mother did nothing and never made him apologize.
For the cave tubing part they separated us into groups of eight who had their tubes connected. We were two by two " four persons deep. Each group of eight had a VIV guide assigned to them who maneuvered us safely through the water. We were with a very nice family of four including two teenage boys who were very well behaved. We needed two more people to make the amount of eight. They put the disruptive kid and his mom with us. During the tubing part this kid was complaining to his mom and seemed like he didn’t want to be there.
We floated down the water in and out of the caves. It was great. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It was relaxing and fun at the same time. The water was shallow that day so they had to tell us to pick our "butts up” so we wouldn’t scrape along the rocks in a few sections. I’m glad we did exercises and squats before the trip. It helped!
I am definitely not a morning person. I’ve never pretended to be and I never will be one, so getting up at the crack of dawn for cave tubing wasn’t too fun for me. I slept for part of the time on the bus going to and coming back from the excursion. My husband said that the people who fell asleep on the bus were all the kids on the bus and me. I even surprised myself when I fell asleep in the cave while cave tubing. I felt my husband jostle my arm and ask if I was sleeping " three times! Of course he thought it was funny and we now have a picture of me napping during cave tubing which amuses my family.
I would love to return to Belize on a land vacation and do the cave tubing again but with a private guide on a non cruise ship day. I would recommend cave tubing for anyone who likes to experience different things on vacation.
Cozumel was a fun day. They had a mariachi band in the cruise ship area you walk through at the port. I love mariachi bands so I requested one of my favorites, Guantanamara and gave them a tip. In exchange they posed for a picture with me wearing a sombrero which is always fun. I danced around and had a good
I read a lot about the different day beaches in Cozumel in preparation for the cruise. We don’t have kids and like smaller beaches without a lot of activity, so we pre-booked with Nachi Cocum. Upon arrival we had a sombrero picture opportunity at Nachi which of course we purchased. We have a vacation picture wall in the office in our house. We’ve been to Mexico several times and always seem to get these fun
sombrero pictures. The best one is from our honeymoon sixteen years ago. We look like little kids in it.
Nachi Cocum has a white sand beach with palapas and it never seemed very crowded. Our palapa was at the end of the beach not near a lot of others. They had a pool and hot tub area which we didn’t go into. I would estimate that there may have been about thirty people at most there that day. We were very happy with the food and drinks. I enjoyed their rum punch. You could also get pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris, beer and several other options. We shared nachos and my husband had enchiladas with verde sauce. I had the ceviche which was significantly better than on the ship. We could have gotten a dessert but didn’t. I think Nachi is great for a quieter crowd. They allow but don’t seem to encourage kids. I did notice a smell of urine or bleach by the pool when we entered. We didn’t go into the pool or the hot tub.
I was looking forward to the beach day in Honduras but since I was exhausted from Belize, we slept in. We were only in port until 3 PM so we ended up just walking around the port area. I read about the talented marimba players at this port and was excited to watch them. I used to play one in high school and I had a great time playing along for a minute or two. They were good sports and didn’t seem to mind someone crashing their song " for a tip. Mahogany is our favorite type of wood and we can spot it a mile away so we had to buy one of the beautiful handmade mahogany bowls that caught my eye at one of the stalls.
We had a quick drink at the Fat Tuesday bar and then went back to the ship early for lunch at the Mongolian Wok. I had their spicier sauce and a mix of beef and calamari over rice which was very good. There wasn’t too long of a wait for it either. That night we decided to eat at the buffet again since we had a big lunch. I tried the new thin pizza for dinner. I read that some people don’t like it, but I thought it was fine.
When we go on our land vacations we are used to getting up late and spending a leisurely day at the beach. The cruise was fun but tiring for a non morning person. We were planning to take a taxi on our to a beach club in Grand Cayman but at the last minute my husband suggested signing up for a Carnival excursion to make things easier. Just before we were ready to get off the ship we bought All Inclusive Tiki Beach excursion tickets, which was a mistake for us. After getting up so early, we had to stand and wait for about a half an hour which gave them time for enough people to get off the ship to fill the bus to the beach. We would have been on the beach much quicker if we had just gone on our own. We also were very disappointed in the alcohol selection included in the price. They only had beer and rum punch available for us to choose from. We couldn’t choose any of the fun specialty drinks on the menu. The only good thing about it was the tasty jerk chicken on the buffet for lunch. I liked the Tiki Beach venue but I wish we wouldn’t have bought the All Inclusive package. There was a bar on the left side of Tiki Beach if you are standing on the beach looking out at the water. They had fun music playing all day. I would check them out if I ever went back.
The disembarkation process was very easy. We had zone 1 but decided to have one last arepa and huevos breakfast at the Blue Iguana before leaving. The lines were very manageable exiting the ship and going through customs. They had a well organized taxi line outside and it cost $26 to get back to the airport in a private taxi. We never take shuttles because we don’t like crowds and we don’t like to have to wait around or make stops for others. We arrived at the airport so early that we paid to switch our flight to the earlier one. Since we were waiting so long at the airport we had lunch at Earl of Sandwich. We’re old enough to remember a song from our parent’s time called The Duke of Earl. All during lunch I was mumbling Earl, Earl, Earl; Earl of Sandwich, Sandwich, Sandwich; Earl of Sandwich. We have an odd sense of humor.
We went to the casino one night for short time on the cruise. I thought that the money that we had left over went back onto our S and card but evidently it doesn't. I only put in twenty dollars and can play a quarter at time for a while. I tend to be frugal in the casino. My husband plays a little more but nothing extravagant. We stopped playing when his balance went down to zero. I was excited to finish with a ten dollar credit. I thought that ten dollars for playing for an hour wasn't too bad a deal. We left the casino and thought that they would put my balance on my S and S card. About two weeks ago we received check from Carnival that ten dollar amount from the casino. I am very impressed with their honesty. They get a bad rep for so many things I wanted to make sure that they get credit for doing the right thing.
We had a great time on the Liberty together. Carnival has a lot of activities to keep you busy and having fun. If you want to just relax, you can do that too. There is something on the ship for everyone. You just have to be open to finding your own niche. Whenever we can get a break from work and the stresses of the real world and get to just spend time together, we enjoy ourselves. We had a good balance of fun and rest, but I think we’re ready for a proper beach vacation next time. Less
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