O.K. Excuse the length but I will comment on the things that I feel are relevant. Bear with me.
Port is 10 minutes from airport. $15 via Carnival transports or cab or $9 via shuttle van. I opted for shuttle van. There was a bit of a backlog getting into the port b/c of the I.D. check at the gate. Once in at the ship, there was plenty of porters on hand who took your luggage, looked up your stateroom if need be and had extra luggage tags on hand. Very quick and cheery bunch. Tip your porter $1 or $2 per bag.
Stood on line for approximately 30 minutes to get to check-in counter. My check-in had a minor snafu but I was happily walking on the ship less than 60 minutes after my arrival by plane to Ft. Lauderdale airport. Give it a Grade B+
In a word, MASSIVE. This is a huge baby. My cabin was located at the back of the ship and when I looked down the hall to the front, I could barely make out any of the details at the other end of the hall. The ship is beautiful in the colorful Carnival style of "more is better". It is in excellent shape and you would have to look hard and long for stains, tears or other signs of wear and tear. There are so many different meeting rooms, clubs, bars, and the like that by the 6th or 7th day of my 8 day cruise, I was still finding "previously undiscovered" (by me) meeting rooms and clubs. This ship can best be described as Classy but Fun and Funky, as is Carnival's style. It would be hard for any builder to improve on the layout and design of this ship. I give the ship an overall rating of A+.
While there were over 3,000 passengers on this particular cruise, the ship never felt crowded. There were almost never any lines in the buffet, more than enough lounge chairs to go around, elevators were fast and plenty, loads of seats in the Venetian Palace and only a short wait for the most popular slots in the casino. In short, in spite of the large number of passengers, the only time you ever saw even a fraction of the total passenger load was in the Venetian Palace during a major production. The Lido Deck is so spread out that you never get that bunched up crowded feel that is evidence on some ships (both CCL and other lines). The halls along the Promenade Deck were rarely crowded and it took very little effort to find a quiet deserted spot to read or nap. In fact, on one of the last days, someone told me about the lounge chairs set up on the outside decks on the lobby deck (3rd floor). There is complete silence and isolation on that strength of ship. Everywhere you look on the various outside decks, there are at least a few lounge chairs set up during the day (removed at night). It is very possible to enjoy complete solitude on the Carnival Liberty.
Most of the activities and entertainment was scheduled so as to avoid the feel of rush or crowdedness. Unlike many other cruise lines, Carnival does not try to schedule events so that everyone can do everything. This is what creates that feel of a cattle run. What the Liberty does is schedule two or three very popular activities, shows or events at around the same time. This helps to spread the passenger population around and ensures that no one event/function is overwhelmed and compromised because of the number of participating passengers. There are so many events scheduled through the course of a typical day that it is not only impossible to do everything but it is almost impossible to even realize that you have not done everything. If you know what I mean. I believe the way they schedule activities should earn Carnival Liberty an A++ in this area. I went up to the Lido Deck one evening at around 11:30 and was pleasantly surprised to see how many people were actually seating up there watching the movie that was showing on the giant screen. That particular night it was "Night at the Museum". It was a very nice, pleasant, calm atmosphere to sit under the stars and watch a movie. They have a popcorn machine up there to complete your movie theater experience.
The Lido Deck is the center of all outdoor activities. Noise level on the Lido Deck is quite high so it is not recommended for reading or sleeping, even though I saw people doing both. The giant TV screen is a nice feature whether it is showing concerts, late night movies or just daytime background scenery to pumped-in music. It is an active moving deck where many of the more zany contests and activities are held. Chair Hogs are alive and well on this ship but, because of the perfect layout of the various sundecks on the Liberty, a person would be hard pressed to claim they could not find a lounge chair to enjoy. The two or so rows of lounge chairs that circle the Tivoli Pool on the Lido Deck are "reserved" by flip-flops very early in the day but that is the noisiest, most trafficked part of the ship. Go just on deck up or a few steps away and there are plenty of empty chairs with a better view of the action, less foot traffic and much less noise. I am sure they lay out at least 3,000 lounge chairs every morning. There was times when I had 20, 30 or 40 lounge chairs to choice from. The best pick of the litter too. The Lido Deck gets a B- because of noise but an A because of design and the availability of plenty of lounge chairs.
The Venetian Palace is the large showroom for the big Vegas-styled productions. It is gorgeous with a layout similar to all of Carnival's showrooms. It takes up three floors of the very front of the ship with the 2nd and 3rd floor covering the bottom and top of the balcony. Enough comfy seating with excellent views for most everyone on the ship. There were four major productions presented on my cruise. The first was a short welcome aboard number but different than the ones I have seen on previous cruises. This one was quite snappy and cute. The next production was an "around the world in song" type offering. It was great. The costumes were gorgeous and there were many, many costume changes. Loved it Loved it Loved it. I often found myself wondering, "How do they change clothes so fast?" Next came a smaller less elaborate production which was shown in the Victoria Lounge. The smaller theater at the very back of the promenade deck. Very nicely done. The last offering was a salute to Broadway. The best part was when the 5 gorgeous, very fit male dancers did a take-off of "The Full Monty". Quite enjoyable. 'Nuff said. That alone got an A+; the rest of the productions got at least an A. It is quite obvious that Carnival did not scrimp on the budget in any manner for any of these productions. They were all excellently produced, costumed and choreographed. They could stand toe to toe with any big ticket production held in or around Las Vegas. In short, a lot of money and talent goes into creating these shows. The entire music/comedic entertainment department for this ship was excellent. Definitely an A.
Aside from the Liberty Dancer's productions, there were three different comedians and two solo singers which rounded out the 8 nights of entertainment in the Venetian Palace The individual singers were not just pretty good but excellent. There were also several different bands, solos, duets, quartets in the smaller gathering places on the ship that were absolutely astonishing. If you were not looking at them, many times you would be hard pressed to be able to tell it was not the original singers performing. They were that good.
The Promenade Deck is the center of all that is going on inside. The casino is usually lively until wee hours in the morning. There are lots of slots and more than enough table games to suit most passengers. I personally contributed healthily to the "Build A New Ship" fund that Carnival has going on at the slot machines. I didn't spend much time in the shops but this is the one place that I found lacking. In spite of this being a much larger and newer ship, I found that the merchandise in the various shops was quite a bit less than usually found on a Carnival ship. However, since I didn't plan to shop on the ship, this was a non-issue for me.
There is the Specialty Coffee Bar, the Teen Disco (jumping until around 1 or so), the Video Arcade, the Hot & Cool Dance Club (for adults), the Piano Bar, the Karaoke Bar, and finally in the back is the Victoria Lounge which housed several nights of big band/easy listening music that was quite popular.
The Hot & Cool Dance Club played 80', 90's, hip hop and rap music and was quite fun and popular every single evening. The closing time was supposed to be 3 a.m. but on more than one occasion, the party continued until as late as 5 a.m. Very well populated at night.
I generally patronized the Venetian Palace, the Casino, the Piano Bar and finish the evening at the Hot & Cool Dance Club. That was my standard evening on the Liberty. I spent a little time in the piano bar (it was fun with a good sized crowd every night), the Karaoke Bar (always heard laughter coming from there, along with some really bad singing). I only went into the Victoria Lounge to see the Liberty Dancers on one evening. However, it seemed to be moderately popular.
Nightlife on Liberty gets an A-. I felt the Piano Bar and Karaoke could have stood to stay open just a little later. Perhaps until at least 2:00 a.m.
I was assigned to cabin no. 1426 on the Riviera Deck. It is a Cat 1A which is an inside cabin. It had only 1 twin bed with a bunk hidden in the ceiling. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this cabin. In addition to the twin bed, there was a mini frig, an upholstered arm chair, a small eating table, three closets and the dresser-safe-TV-desk & chair unit. Because there was only the one single bed, there were loads and loads of floor space. This cabin would be great for a single parent traveling with a child, two teens or even two adult friends as long as one didn’t mind using the upper bunk (hidden in ceiling during the day). There was more than enough floor space for two people to get dressed without bumping into each other. My cabin steward was wonderful and very friendly. He remembered my name from the first day. He allowed me to collect my towel animals so that by the end of the cruise I had a complete towel zoo in my cabin. I had a dog, swan, turtle, bear, seal, and an elephant. The bathroom was very nice, quite a nice improvement from the bathrooms on the older ships. The usual amenities were found in the bathroom. A/C in the cabin was good and adjustable. The TV had the capabilities to show your folio account charges, book excursions, check out the dinner menus and order PPV movies ($8.99). Remember this cabin number (there is its twin on the odd numbered hall). 1426 is a great, cheap way to cruise the Liberty. Both my cabin and my Steward get an A+.
Carnival Liberty had the largest variety of food selection of any cruise I have been on, to date. There are at least 12 different stations in which to get food in the Emeril Dining Room (Buffet). There is a “stir fry to order”, Chinese food, sandwich, pizza, burgers & hot dogs, “region of the day”, fish & chips, as well as carving boards and regular buffet staples. There are at least 4 ice cream stations positioned in the corners of the buffet area. There is also a good sized dessert station. The eating areas are broken up into two separate dining areas, plus there is a second floor dining space. This is where you find the fish and chips spot. All in all, no matter what time of the day, whether at sea or port, the buffet never felt crowded nor did the food look “picked over”. To be honest, I think I preferred the buffet food to the dining rooms offerings. Just my personal taste.
The formal dining rooms were beautiful. I had an 8:30 dining time in the Golden Dining Room. Service was a bit slow at first but it picked up nicely later on in the week. The food was pretty good. Not great but not bad either. I split my meals pretty evenly between the buffet and the various dining rooms.
I also enjoyed Harry’s Supper Club one evening. The food in that venue is delicious and beautifully prepared and presented. It is well worth the $30.
Carnival Liberty’s food offering get an overall A- with the Buffet getting an A and the Dining Room a B.
Sorry but I have no small children so I have no take on this program but the parents I spoke to onboard all seemed happy with it and the kids seemed eager to get to camp each day.
As was everything else about this cruise, it was smooth and organized without the cattle car feel that is normally associated with debarkation. I sat around the Lido Deck until my color was called and took my time getting to the Lobby Deck. I was off the ship and in a van in under 30 minutes. If you wait until it is your turn, it went smooth.
My Personal Take on the Carnival Liberty
People can say what they want about Carnival Cruise line and their ships, passengers and zany games. However, cruise once on the Liberty and you will truly come to understand that Carnival “gets it” and “gets it right.” They have worked it out to a science. They know how to keep it fun without slipping into trashiness. They know how to make 3,000 plus people feel like they are having the time of their lives without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. I picked the big show in the Venetian so I missed the trio near the Lobby Bar. Oh well. If I opted for a late night movie, I would miss the Piano Man. Well, . . Maybe tomorrow I will get to see the Piano Man. That is how the thinking goes on the Liberty. You are never upset that you missed anything. You are too busy in awe of what you did participate in.
Since I have been back I have been telling people that I just spent 8 days with over 4,100 of the nicest, friendliest, most congenial people ever. This is in great part to the hard work of the 1,100+ staff members who have got this cruise vacation thing down to a science so all of the passengers are happy, smiling, friendly and just having a good time with little or no worries. They are well pampered, cared for, happy campers.
Add me in that number. Can’t wait to cruise again.
On a scale of 1 to ten, with ten being the highest, I would give this cruise a 9.75. I don’t know if it gets any better.