My wife of 9 months (second marriage for both of us) decided to take the entire Bernie Bunch on a cruise instead of the normal Aruba time share. My wife and I were very cruise happy...this was our 3rd bruise in 8 months... we did a 3 night on the majesty of the sea in December just to get away and a 4 night on the enchantment of the sea for a spring vacation... they both were just my wife and me. Since I was very pleased with Royal Caribbean I searched for a cruise for the family...which was now up to 8 with my Mother in law wanting to cruise also. I researched pricing on Royal Caribbean and then looked at Carnival. I found a category 1A on the Liberty for 2 times less then RC. I was unsure because I read many reviews that gave Carnival negative comments on service, cleanliness and food. But I figured with Kids 16(m), 15 (m), 14 (f), 11(m) and 9(f) and the price listed, why not try. I was pleasantly surprised on this cruise... during my review I will compare some of my Carnival experiences with the ones i had on RC to help others make this decision. My first taste of Carnival was negative... I could not book or confirm my 4 rooms on line and when I spoke to a Carnival vacation specialist, i felt I was buying a used car... and good luck getting your specialist back on the line if u had any questions. In the long run it worked out.... 6 days, 4 rooms, 3 ports ( Freeport, Cayman and costa Mayo).
We traveled on Jet Blue (Up and coming airline..kids love the 40 channels of TV they can watch) from Dulles to Ft Lauderdale... picked up from the airport with the free shuttle and taken to the Marriott Spring Hill Suites... plenty of places to eat.. and shuttle will take you anywhere ui want to go... outside pool, great people, free breakfast and most important a free shuttle to the port (10 minute ride). Embarkation was a mess... or maybe I am spoiled.... the Embarkation area looked like an old warehouse... we arrived at 12:30 and it appeared to be chaos... I asked the ticket counter lady not to give my kids signing privileges..well she did anyway, my 9 year old found out and after $300 in pictures, smoothies, arcade games etc I had it fixed. After an hour we were on the ship, allowed to go right to the rooms to drop of our carry ons and to start our vacation.... so here is where I my comments turn positive.... Lets just say I now know why they call it a "Fun Ship".
Staterooms: we had rooms 2202, 2208, 2212 and 2216. The last two were identical with a single and a single couch ( just as comfortable as a single bed) Both rooms had 2 portholes each and were over 160 SF large... about 40SF larger then RC... both 02 and 08 had no windows, were not as wide since this is where the forward bow is but is twice as long...
all rooms were very comfortable but when we docked in Freeport and back in Lauderdale on the last day they were loud... that anchor makes a lot of noise.Had different stewards every day and never did learn there names but they did clean the rooms and did a great job. Staterooms B+ Ship- Design and appearance can only be described as different... not elegant, not pretty, different (not a negative comment) plenty of elevators to get around... easy to get lost on the first days but it all works out OK. the stairs around the pool decks get very hot... bring flip flops when going from your chair to the pool. Pool entertainment was poor... The big screen seems nice but who wants to watch Todd the Cruise director at 3pm... i want caribbean music... never did get the atmosphere sitting around the pool. However, plenty of space and u never felt crowded. Ship B+ Dining- We ate in the silver Olympian .... Mugdi gets a A++++++ for his service and personality...kids wanted to take him home...his helpers also did a greta job. Many reviewers i read gave the food a failing grade... I had the lamb, lobster, veal.... all were great... reviewers said stay away from the steak... my kids ordered steak a few times and I had a taste and they were very tasty each and every time.. Breakfast was not as good... so after 2 tries we did the buffet, Dining Dinner A+ ( beats RC hands down) Dining Breakfast C- Emiles- Breakfast was boring and tasteless...when I start eating bananas u know there is something wrong... Lunch- great options- make your own soup...make your own stir fry,,, deli sandwiches,,, asian,, all good all fresh. Breakfast C- Lunch B Also have choices for Fish and chips which were good... 24 hour burgers, fries, hot dogs and Pizza...which the kids say was terrific. A+ (kids vote) Had dinner at Harrys for an additional $30/pp.... the room reminded me of a Times Sq Arcade but the food and service was terrific. B- Shows- Todd the Cruise director seem sincere and enjoyed his job... shows were professional and decent... could have more fun stuff around the pool... again... the pool had no party atmosphere. ( Music, activities etc) don't miss the last night show... Goodspeed and his dummies... funny. Shows B Childrens clubs- My 9 and 11 year old did not like the Camp carnival...felt it was more day care then a fun place..they actually snuck into the O2 club and enjoyed that... my 14,15 and 16 year olds made friends and spent some time in the clubs but found other things to do. Children clubs - C- Excursions- Many people complain about freeport... Ok I would rather have been in Cozumel... but we did the glass bottom boat trip and it as nice...not great...nice. Cayman- $4pp each way to SeaGrapes... $21 for 2 lounge chairs and an umbrella... nice...not greta...nice. Cocktails at Margaritaville a must. Costa Mayo--- I LOVE MEXICO.... we booked off the internet and saved money. 4 from my bunch did the ruins and they said it was the highlight of there trip... I stayed at tequila beach... for $35 (kids $25) had lunch, snacks and open bar...beach chairs , volley ball, kayaks,,, etal.... only negative was I added on the tequila club to the 4 that went to the ruins , they got back late and only had less the an hour to enjoy the beach club and all it amenities. Excursions B+ Days at Sea- Its amazing how many people put there stuff out at 8am to reserve their chairs... every cruise i am tempted to throw there stuff overboard.. I will be nice... anyway... unlike RC this ship has plenty of chairs and plenty of places to find a nice spot for the day. Days at Sea A+ Disembarkment- new system in place... you get a number and when they call your number you leave, get your bags and your out of there.... we had #15 and were off the ship by 9:15.... the only problem was I originally booked a 10:45 flight and everything I read told me i would miss my flight..not bad with only 2 people but 8 can be an issue... so i spent $240 to move us to a 1:15 flight... well I was at the gate by 9:45... wasted my money and time... OH Well.... Disembarkation F-....did not want to leave and they made me.... only kidding A+ All in all a great trip.. only a few things I would ask carnival to look at at.... dress up your dock entrance... first impressions!!!! Use the big screen for movies at night only... I get enough TV at home... don't want to watch Todds afternoon show outside...cant hear it anyway... add more music poolside. Breakfast is dull and tasteless... Anyway... Thanks to all the Carnival people who did a great job on board and put the Fun in Fun Ship... Based on what I read in the past, I did not expect the level of quality and service as I found the RC...but I must tell u all, based on my Liberty experience, there are small differences between both lines but Carnival does match up to Rc and they both exceed all my expectations. During my cruise i got to meet plenty of nice people... I did mention Cruise Critic to many of them and met many CC readers... it as nice to meet you all... friends from OC Calif.... Georgia and Florida... Hope to see you all on my next cruise... a short 3 night RC cruise out to Nassau on the sovereign of the sea out of Canaveral 9/28...Bon Voyage