Background...Cruised with 8 family members (myself, husband, both sets of Grandparents, 2 daughters, ages 16 & 13 plus Friend, her daughters 16, 14 and another 14 year old.) All are past Carnival guests, with 6 of the family members being Platinum. For me this was cruise # 14 with Carnival. Never had a bad cruise. This is my review of the Liberty March 31st sailing.
We had a limo pick us up at 10:00 with a stop at my parents house on the way and arrived at the Port by 11:30. Thank goodness for Platinum VIP Priority boarding as the line was in the building around the ropes and outside. VIP for those interested is the first line you come upon or the first one on the right. We got in line behind around 200 Travel Agents who were touring the ship that day. They must have started boarding just as we got there because the TAs were the first to board and we were right behind them. Port Everglades Platinum was ok but Miami is much nicer. Here they just have a separate line for you to stand on. Yes, we did get on much faster than the regular line (some people said they were on the boarding line for 90 minutes) but it wasn't as nice as the private room with chairs/sofas like Miami has.
The Liberty is by far the prettiest of all the Carnival ships we've been on. Crew was cleaning all the time. Ship is beautiful. The entire crew is the best we've ever had. Almost everyone of them had a smile, a hello, how are you etc. Todd is the Cruise Director and was terrific and funny. Saw him all over the ship and didn't hog the intercom system. James is the Social Host, with spiked blonde hair, cute and definitely had the younger kids in the palm of his hands. My 16 year old personally liked Alex, he was the young guy on deck 5 who made her what she described as the best chocolate milk shakes she's ever had!!!
We are gamblers and the Casino Staff was also very friendly. Always joking around and smiling. Scott Reynolds is the current Casino Host and not only is he nice to look at, but also a doll. Walked around, made sure everyone was ok, everyone was happy and smiling. The complaints I did hear in the Casino was that the Texas Hold Em players absolutely HATE the electronic table that they now have fleetwide. The other complaint was that they had automatic shuffle machines at the blackjack table. I don't play either one so it didn't bother me either way. They had machines from .01 (which you had to play a minimum of .09) up to $5. The tables on the first night only was a minimum of $3 but from the 2nd night on went up to $5. There was a minimum of two tables for each table game but only one Crap Table in this casino. I play 3 Card Poker and the tables were usually full but I didn't have to wait for a seat.
The Staff....We had the best room steward to date, Ahpit from India. Not only was the room made up every day and the towel animals/people made each night, but he knew us by name, was very friendly and always smiling. Lauren, our 13 year old got sick the first two days out and Ahpit told us that he would be in the cabins for the next couple of hours and that if she needed anything, to find him. Our waiter Jose was very good, didn't make any mistakes on the orders but definitely needs to take a course in personality, zero, zilch, none. Thank goodness for Beatrix, his help, she was wonderful, friendly, great personality. We told her to give Jose lessons!! Dad had his rye bread every night waiting for him, the girls and myself had the glasses filled with ice waiting for us, etc.
Dinner... We ate in the Golden Dining Room 6:15 and loved the location (right in the middle of the ship). The only thing that we didn't like is that we were on the 2nd floor and if you enjoy watching/joining in with the Staff when they sing and dance, you can't see them because it's all performed on the 1st floor... So, next time, I request 1st floor seating.
The food was good, with some of it being delicious. What I never knew and learned this week is that every Carnival ship has the same menu as far as the 1st day, 2nd day etc. Doesn't matter what day of the week your ship leaves. And YES, I had the chocolate melting cake every single night (it was sooooooo delicious). The 3rd night they served the filet mignon and veal parmigiana. Well the 3rd night for us was San Juan and we didn't eat in the dining room. When I asked the Maitre'd why they did that, it was then that he explained it was the meal of the day. But, the next night guess what we had for dinner... YUP, the Maitre'd delivered 6 veal parmigiana dinners to us and they were delicious.... And it was a good night too because we didn't like what was being served that night.
The big screen on the Lido deck.... amazing. We got to watch the Basketball finals, and of course, being from Florida, how could it not be great to watch your team win 10xs larger???? Lots of Florida/Ohio fans out that night and it was really loads of fun. Watching movies/concerts on the sea on a big screen is great. They also sold bags of popcorn for $1. Was told they had the charge so that the kids wouldn't take the popcorn and throw it all over the place.
We had great weather the entire week, and yes, the chair hogs were out...But, when the girls were out looking for lounge chairs, a Carnival employee just took towels off of 4 lounge chairs, told them to sit down and that if anyone came to claim the towels, tell them to see him... So they are trying to work with passengers and weed out the chair hogs.
The ship had 3400 passengers this week, with 1800 of them being past Carnival cruisers and only 30 Platinum members. There were over 900 kids on board, but being that we were in the Casino after midnight every night we personally never had or saw any problem with the kids. Even during the day, although we saw the kids, I never saw them doing anything wrong.
San Juan ( 5pm - 12midnight). Got off the ship as soon as we were allowed and went over to the Dooney & Bourke & Coach outlet stores. D & B closes at 6 so we shopped there first, then went directly across the street and continued shopping at the Coach store, which now stays open until 7pm. Between myself and the girls, the employees were thanking us by the time we left. Spent a lot of $$$$$s in both, but saved lots too. After that the girls decided to get back on the ship and my husband & I played in the casino right across the street from the Port.
St Thomas (8am - 6pm). Got off the ship around 10 and went shopping to the stores right at the Port. Some of the others took the tram up to Paradise Point ($18. per person). The pictures they got were beautiful and they loved it up there. Around 1:00 we hoped into a taxi ($5. per person for 10 of us) and went over to Bolongo Bay Beach. The cab driver left us off at the end of the beach by Iggys Restaurant/Bar and we didn't have to pay for the lounge chairs. Very relaxing, not crowded at all. The same driver who took us there picked us up at 5:00 and took us back to the ship.
Antigua..... Oh my goodness.... We "rented" the Tiami Catamaran prior to cruising for 16 of us and I wanted to take the catamaran and the Crew back home with me.... It was amazing and I would recommend this one to everyone. It is the same company that owns the Excellence catamaran that Carnival charges $99 per person for and squeezes everyone in. We were charged $75 per person and had 16 people with 3 Crew!!! The food and crew were excellent, and of course, the open bar didn't hurt either... Definitely a great tour and very relaxing day.
Tortola... We were at the Baths last time we were there so this year we decided to just "wing it". At around 1:00 we got off the ship, found a guy from "Captain Friendly" taxi service who offered us a 2 hour tour for $15 per person.... WOW..... didn't even try to bargain him down.... that's a great price. He was a history major so we got a great tour, great information and great price.....
Days at sea.... The usual chair hogs, the trivia contests, the bingo, Newlywed Game, blackjack tournaments, slot tournaments, art auction, etc.
We all agreed that this was one of the best cruises we have had, the Staff on the Liberty was fantastic, the food was overall very good, the weather was terrific and the Liberty is beautiful.
We had a Roll Call of over 100 people and at least 50 of us showed up right after Muster Drill Lido Deck back of the ship by the bar. Meeting them after all those months were great but then seeing and talking to most of them during the week was even better. And I won't mention which one it was who kept insisting he was older than old but he's not and his group of four was great and everytime I saw them they seem to be having fun. Tali & Jose, you guys are the best and so cute and getting to know you and your beautiful Jayda was wonderful. One of the nicest moments I had was when we were in the showroom and Jayda walked in with the camp but stopped to wave to me, I melted..... Karen, Tiffany, Canegirl and family, thanks for joining us on the Catamaran and making that great tour even better... I know we'll see each other again as the kids all bonded on this cruise. That was definitely one of the best days I've had on a cruise. Kara, I'm so sorry we never did get to meet Kayleigh but I'm glad I got to meet you. Jenn, even through you didn't show up for the Meet & Greet I did get to meet her because she looks just like her picture (except she had a drink instead of a beer in her hand!!!). MikeBert we got to see every night because his group had the table right next to us and I know they had a great time..... John & Lisa... well this was Lisa's 1st cruise (she actually let John go on a cruise with his buddies a couple of weeks prior to this one), I don't think she will ever let him go alone again. These two were so cute together and always smiling and I think Lisa is now addicted to cruising!! Everyone else from our Roll Call, THANK YOU....A couple of you did approach me to tell me they recognized my picture from the Roll Call and said hi. I love Roll Calls/Meet & Greets and this was one of the best we've had .... Spring Flingers, I STILL LOVE YOU GUYS TOO!!!
Some trivia/interesting things to know...
For those cruisers wondering what was happening with soda smugglers, we are one of them... We had a large duffel bag filled with 3 six packs of diet coke bottles, 1 six pack of Sprite and a case of water all packed into a large plastic garbage bag (just in case one of the bottles opened). Made it to our cabin with no problem at all. The room steward emptied the refrigerator for us and we put the soda and water in there all week.
Platinum.... a couple of weeks ago this was asked..... We got four (4) Carnival Tote Bags in our cabin. So either they changed the one (1) per cabin policy, our room steward didn't read the new "rules" or he liked us but we each got a tote bag. My parents also got two (2) in their cabin. Of course, we also got the other "perks" i.e., personalized stationary, key chains, pens, a basket of fruit, canapes etc. We did use the free laundry service (wash and fold) three times. For those that are not platinum, it is $15 per bag.
Another think I learned this week.... Platinum/VIP Members were signed in with their credit card/sign n sail info right at the check in line. Other passengers were checked in here but then had to proceed to the Lounge to set up their Sign n Sail cards there. The Carnival Representative told us that it helped speed up the boarding line and they did have until the 2nd day to set up their Sign n Sail account so it wasn't like it had to be done immediately.
And for those curious about the Topless Deck, not Topless anymore ... Just a bunch of lounge chairs up there now but no sign and the only time I went up there it was empty.
I emailed the Casino Host prior to boarding and the room was made up in the Bon Voyage decorations courtesy of the Casino. Don't know if they do that for all but it was definitely worth the email. To be honest, we are big gamblers and spent every night after the show in the casino. That is something that we enjoy doing.
Definitely pack a light sweater or jacket. The Casino was always cold as was the Dining Room and Show Rooms.
If I've left anything out, I will add it and if anyone has any questions, please ask. Even after so many cruises, you guys still help me out and I would love to do the same for you....