Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by Ljberkow: Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We (spouse, 9-year old daughter and 7 year-old son) flew in on Jet Blue on the day of the cruise. It was a 7:40 am flight that landed at FLL at 10:30. Got all luggage and cab by 11:00 am and at line for embarkation by 11:20. embarkation took a bit over an hour, which is about standard. Carnival asked that I print Fun Pass, which was never used. We also had to fill out Bahamian entry papers.
When we checked in, we found that although we requested 6:15 pm dinner, we received 5:45 pm. Wasn't happy about that and was told to speak to maitre d. Maitre d was of no help and explained large group had totally booked the 6:15. In any case, he told us that it's normal to enter at 6 pm for the 5:45. That had to do.
I'm only reviewing things we used extensively.
Cabin - We got upgraded as part of price reduction and one-day sale to Lido deck 9265. It's a standard balcony cabin with king bed, extra bed/couch and upper, which is a bed that folds out from ceiling. The More extra beds were comfortable for the kids and the upper had a safety railing. It compared favorably to the Enchantment of the Seas (RCCL) cruise we took last year where our two youngest shared the couch roll out which had two cheaper mattresses. Enjoyed the decent sized balcony. As others have mentioned on forum boards, we did bring a power strip with multiple outlets, which is needed on Carnival. Our main bed was large and comfortable and we were very happy with our cabin.
Dining - Buffet Breakfasts and Lunches in the Lido Restaurant (Emille's) ranged from poor to adequate. My point of reference is a RCCL mid-class ship which offered better and higher quality breakfast choices. The Liberty omelets were plain flat and awful and baked good weren't that good. Lunches were adequate but lines seemed long. Fish & Chips restaurant upstairs had good bouillabaisse, softshell crab lunch, and decent ahi tuna appetizer and waits there were less. Asian station was also surprisingly decent. Dining in the Silver Olympian Restaurant for dinner was much better. Lamb chops, duck, lobster, fish, indian food, and spa entrees all rated strong. Desserts were okay. Service was good. No cruise ship does justice to steak (with the exception of the specialty restaurants) and Carnival Liberty is no different. Filet Mignon was kind of tough and below Outback Steakhouse quality. Prime Rib was passable. Our whole family enjoyed the Origami Sushi Bar on Deck 5 before dinner. What a nice touch!!
Entertainment - We caught two of the Broadway/Vegas style shows in the Venetian. One was "Around the World" and the second was "Rocking Broadway". Jason Dowty is the male lead singer and is a very good entertainer with great stage presence. Kendall Lester is the female vocal lead. She is very good but less of a stage presence than Dowty. Both shows were very good with great sets and special effects. Carnival does these shows well and cruisers should be advised to catch them. A signature piece of the Liberty is the Jumbotron Screen in the Lido pool area. We saw one night movie, Talladega Nights. It was a fun night and a good take. I believe they also showed Cars, The Guardian, Night at the Museum, and Da Vinci Code. But the choice was for us to see the production shows in the Venetian when they had them. Todd Wittmer is the Cruise Director and entertains as well. The man is a real pro. CDs aren't too important to me. But this guy makes the cruise experience better and is not an "in your face" guy. He's fun but understated.
Recreation - Pools are nice. I noticed three of them and there is room in one or more at all times. You need to reserve chairs (with something more than a towel) early in the morning on sea days. But there were chairs available even by 10 - 10:30 on the upper decks right over the sea. I found that more relaxing than being in the main area surrounded by throngs of people. There are several whirlpools. Carnival needs to do a better job of managing children in the whirlpool/hot tubs. Kids go in there and try to swim in these things and are obtrusive. It's annoying. My wife and I both used the gym and took classes. She enjoyed Pilates and I did the full three classes of spinning. The instructors were good and provided a tough workout. Equipment is new and in great shape. Gym is in sparkling condition. elliptical machines were also pretty much available with little to no waits in the morning. Overall, Liberty gets high marks in the recreation area.
Camp Carnival - Our son was in the 6-8 group. This group seemed to have the most kids. The kids loved it. My son went as often as possible. Counselors provide feedback to parents. Activities rated high with my son. The 9-11 group was a little less popular. But my daughter still enjoyed her time there. Both kids thought Camp Carnival was better than the RCCL counterpart. This is very important to me in deciding on next cruise.
Ports: (1) Freeport, Bahamas - did Junkanoo Beach Party at a cost of close to $200 for the family. It's a pretty mediocre excursion. The island music turned out to be a boombox playing over faint speaker system. Burger and hot dog lunch also included salad and a complimentary bahama mama drink for adults and punch for kids. Pedal boats was an additional $15 for a half an hour. We did that. The excursion was passable. But we would have been better off doing what others did by taking a cab to Our Lucaya beach area at much less cost and doing lunch on our own. Live and learn. Freeport was the lesser of the three ports.
(2) Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - did the Sea Spi adventure tour. Sea Spis are little private water crafts that are operated by joysticks. They have an opening to put your head that looks through glass into ocean. These things are a lot of fun. They're not cheap at $85 per person (same price for kids) but worth it. The tour is semi-guided. We saw a stingray, nursing shark, large tarpons, and the beautiful fish on several reefs, including Cheeseburger Reef. This was one of the best things I've done on vacation and it was fun for the kids.
(3) Costa Maya - Wow, what a surprisingly great port in Mexico. As recommended on cruise critic forums, we decided against any ship excursion and instead took the bus to Majahual for a beach day. The cost of the bus is only $3 per person and cabs are $2 per person back. Now, that's a deal. But the $20 hourly beach massages offered everywhere on the village is even a better deal. A+++++ as they say on e-Bay. As advised, we walked all the way to the end to spend the day at Pez Quadro Resort. Beach Chairs were $5 each. Mexican beer was $2 per bottle and the restaurant had great shrimp tacos, fajitas, nachos, and grilled fish. The water is beautiful. A fellow cruisemember picked up a sea urchin and talked to each of the kids about the little round sea creature. Pez staff is great and friendly and the atmosphere is outstanding. I would do the exact same thing if and when I go back to Costa Maya.
Debarkation - This was very easy and quick. Liberty gets high marks for this process.
Overall, loved this cruise and would do Liberty again with alternate itinerary. Less
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