My husband and I sailed on Carnival Liberty from May 6th to the 12th 2007. A little background on us - we are in our late thirties and are very well travelled - we generally take at least 3-5 vacations a year and that doesn't include last minute weekend getaways to Cape Cod, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, New York, etc. that we can drive to. This was our first time on Carnival. We usually sail on Royal Caribbean and Norwegian when we cruise.
Embarkation: We arrived at the airport (flew Jet Blue) about 30-40 mins earlier than scheduled. We met our friends (Tate & Shana) and shared a cab to the ship terminal.
Once at the terminal, we waited in line about 40+/- minutes to board...not bad considering I've waited in line for 1-2 hours before at other terminals. Once inside, the line moved quickly. We got up to the desk and then was told...here is your sail and sign card but now you must go up to the lounge (I think it was deck 5) and activate your account up there. This was rather annoying that they wouldn't process it right then and there like my friend (Adam) told me they did for him about an hour earlier when he arrived. So, off we went and stood in another line for 20 mins to activate our card.
Finally...up to the Lido deck to meet our cruise critic friends and have a bite to eat. Couldn't go to our cabin yet as we were told it wouldn't be ready until after 1:30 pm. So, we hung out and ate lunch until about 2:00pm until our cabin was ready.
Kudos to Carnival for their cabins...best I've stayed in on a cruise! We had a balcony cabin on the starboard side (Category 8C - #8359). The room was very neat and well done. There is a ton of closet space and drawer space. The bathroom is very well appointed and has lots of shelves to store your personal hygiene items. The shower is a good size and is positioned well so that it does not leak out all over the floor like the showers do on some other ships. The bed - most comfortable bed and pillows I've slept on while on a cruise! It was tough to get up some mornings as it was so comfortable! So, all in all, Carnival's cabins are the best I've stayed in on a ship!
Yikes, perhaps I'm just picky, but I thought the food was less than good. It was average at best and most of the time below average. They definitely need to work on their buffet selections. Day after day, it was the same thing and the breakfast buffet especially was terrible. As far as the dining room goes, that was a little better but not much. I did not eat very often in the dining room as they assigned us the early dinner seating even though we had requested the later one when we booked well in advance of six months! It was really disheartening when they wouldn't change it! Harry's supper club was great...eight of us (you know who you are) ate dinner there on Tuesday nite and it was great! The service was good and the food, for the most part, was very well done. Definitely worth the extra $30/person.
They need more bars and more bar staff going around to see if anyone needs drinks. When I sail with Royal, the bar staff are around every second, you never have to go up to the bar yourself and order a drink. They come around and wait on you. Not so, with Carnival Liberty...they were nowhere to be found! I can count at least a dozen times where my husband or friends I was with had to go up and order a drink because no one came around for hours...not good service! Oh yah, and if you get the drink card for soda, be aware...half the time the bar staff won't even bring you back a soda unless you order an alcoholic drink as well.
This is another area where Carnival needs work...I went to like three shows, and by the third one I was falling asleep! They were terrible! I think they sing better on American Idol! I don't know...they claim to have Vegas Style shows...where were they??? The comedian I saw one nite wasn't very good either...he didn't have any original material...he worked his gig solely on the audience and their input. Thats okay, but you have to have some of your own material as well! Karaoke was fun...enjoyed that nite. Didn't go to the disco except to just look in but heard from friends that the DJ was lousy.
The casino was a lot of fun! I played the slots and roulette (won a little there) and my husband plays Black Jack and now Craps (thanks to our good friend Tate teaching him how!) My husband did quite well and definitely came home with more money in his pocket than he started with!
Freeport: Complete waste of time...didn't do anything here...just walked around the tourist trap area that was directly located when you got off the ship. This port is a waste of time - they should stop going here!
Grand Cayman: This was my favorite stop! Swimming with the stingrays is a must! I went on the Hell, Turtle Farm and Stingray tour offered through Carnival for like $69. It was well worth it! Had a great time! Then we all met at Margaritaville after - that was a lot of fun! I love Margaritaville - I try to visit them whenever there is one where I'm traveling to. P.S. - my husband Scuba Dives and did the two tank dive offered thru Carnival...he loved it and got a lot of great underwater photos of fish...
Costa Maya Mexico: Loved this port! We did the dune buggy beach tour and loved it! It was so much fun riding around in those dune buggies! I don't know what beach we went to (some secluded little place across the island) but it was beautiful! The beach was soft and clean and the water was a teal green and felt like a bathtub! This was a great time...I would definitely go back to this port again and to Grand Cayman as well.
Spa Area and Gym:
I did not receive any services in the spa but it looked very nice. I did use the gym almost every day though and thought it was more than adequate for the size ship. The equipment is all brand new and state of the art and they offer nice locker room areas with bathrooms, saunas, etc. Very well done for a cruise ship.
I wanted to see my bill the day before the cruise ended just so that I could make sure there were no mistakes. On Royal they give you your bill under your door the morning before the last day of your cruise (a full 24 hours ahead in case of any conflicts). Not so on Carnival. They have interactive tvs in your room that are suppose to let you view your bill. Well, guess what, mine didn't work. So I went down to the Purser's desk and tried to get a printout of my bill. I wasted over 30 mins in line to be told...sorry, we can't print you out a bill. We will submit your request to accounting and they will deliver a printout out of your bill to your cabin by that afternoon. Also, they said they would send a repair man to fix my tv. Well I never received a bill and my tv never got fixed. It took my husband and I making three trips down to the desk to finally get a bill!!! This was completely unacceptable. It took me saying that I wasn't going to leave this desk until I got a bill...I shouldn't have had to be like that...how crazy is this? But, as soon as I threatened to stand there all day, they went and printed out a bill and gave me a copy. Guess I should have been nasty the first time around.
Leaving the ship was a nightmare. We had an early flight and should have done our own luggage. Next time we certainly will. On the advice of the front desk, we got the earliest luggage tags(grey) and decided to let them handle our luggage instead of traipsing thru the ship with 4 large suitcases and two carry ons. Boy was that a mistake! We were told that we would be off the ship by 8-8:30 am at the latest which would give us plenty of time to make our 11AM flight. That didn't happen. In fact, we didn't get off the ship until between 9:30-10:00 am! We almost missed our flight! They had us waiting around in the Venetian Room for almost 2 hours before we were allowed to get off the ship! This was honestly the worst disembarkation I've been thru! I always book early flights and have never had a problem being the first off the ship on other cruise lines...Carnival needs to work on this!
All in all, I probably will not sail with Carnival again unless I got such a great deal on the price! As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. This cruise was one of the least expensive trips we've ever taken so I guess I can't expect too much.
Lovely boat, but they need to change many things before I would sail with them again...