In the past 4 years my husband and I have completed 5 cruises together. We started off with a 4 day sailing (not long enough) and just completed an 8 night on the Carnival Liberty.
We chose this specific sailing for it's Exotic ports of call, Costa Maya Mexico, Limon Costa Rica, and Colon Panama.
Firstly, let me advise that I was quite upset that I did not receive my boarding documents and luggage tags by mail as requested. When calling Carnival, they insisted that the paperwork was sent to my travel agency, and my travel agency insisted that the papers were sent directly to me by Carnival. Needless to say, I never got them, Carnival refused to re-print and re-mail them, and advised me to print them on-line (which I did). When I asked them what I would have to do if I didn't have a PC, they advised me to go to the Library and print the documents there, as they simply would NOT re-print them, nor mail me new luggage tags. When I saw the luggage tags on other passengers bags once there, I don't understand why it would have been so hard to put a few tags in an envelope and mail them to me...
A few weeks before the cruise, I read on-line that Hurricane Dean had damaged the port at Costa Maya, and it was to take at least 8 months to repair. When I called Carnival, the customer service representatives were not well advised, as with the few different people I spoke with, all gave different responses such as, "You'll know 2 weeks before sailing", "You'll know 2 days before sailing" and (believe it or not) "They'll probably still go to Costa Maya as the Port was so small they will most likely have fixed it by then"..... Right.
Now on to the cruise terminal... Port Everglades. When we got there it was not raining, it HAD rained, and the water was GUSHING off the roof. We had to walk through a waterfall to get to the terminal, and the Luggage Porters were placing the luggage under the waterfall and everything was getting soaked! Thanks to Carnivals policy to "Carry on your own"... we decided to bring our stuff with us instead of having it get drenched. This worked out well.
Embarkation was smooth. The people were nice, and everything went as planned. We did not get assigned to the dining room seating time we requested, but the Maitre D' was quick to settle that for us.
The ship was beautiful. The New Orleans theme was constant through-out and was very well designed.
Our stateroom as was to be expected. We had a balcony stateroom, which we will not go without (my husband loves the balcony). Here's to the next (and biggest) issue that we had this cruise. Our bathroom gave us problems. The first day I took a shower, and I flooded the bathroom. I mean 3 inches of water flooded. I thought it was just me, letting the water out of the curtain, but then it happened to my husband and we realized the drain in the shower was clogged. We reported this immediately, but it was not addressed or fixed until day 3. Also, the sink drain stopper was broken. We reported this on day 1,2 and 3, until finally we were advised maintenance would be up in no more than 20 minutes. We sat in the room and waited, no one came. The next morning we had a letter in our box stating they were sorry for the inconvenience of the sink problem, and would let us know if another stateroom became available. (We didn't want to change rooms mid-cruise, we just wanted the sink fixed). The Next day (day 5) we had a message on our phone from the Pursers desk asking if the sink was still broken. We advised them YES since no-one ever came to fix it. They said ok, and we never heard from them again. VERY upset, it was never fixed.
Activities: The activities that were set up were okay, not as many as on some of the past cruises I've been on. If you don't pay close attention to the Cruise Caper, you'll miss everything cause they don't announce things that are going on and where like Bingo etc. If you don't read it, you don't know it.
The staff was very nice. The Cruise director Todd was very personable, and this was has last cruise with the Liberty.
Dining. The food was very good. We can't say that we didn't eat well, but did get a chipped glass, and dirty silverware once or twice, and honestly, I don't know what happened with our assistant waiter, as she disappeared for 1/2 hour at a time. Our bar-waiter in the dining room was amazing though, he had our sodas on the table before we arrived and was quick to come around for re-fills. He was quite friendly, and probably my favorite worker on the ship.
Complaint about Carnival: They charge 1.00 for a Cookie plus a 15% mandatory gratuity ($1.15 for a cookie) Princess baked fresh for free. They also charged 1.00 for popcorn outside by the movie, something that Princess does for free as well.
Shore Excursions : We wound up in Cozumel instead of Costa Maya, which was very nice. We didn't do an excursion here, just spent time shopping, and then went in the pool on the ship. The slide was lots of fun, and it was a lot more relaxing without all the people around.
We did a Rainforest wagon pull in Limon Costa Rica, and that was a lot of fun. It was well organized and the people were great.
Next we did a Ferry ride through the Panama Canal. 9 hours, but a great experience. If you have a chance to do this, I highly advise it... but were a strong spf sunscreen, as we got very sun-burnt. (Our fault)
Entertainment was okay. I've seen better, but I've seen worse. It was "entertaining" at best. We enjoyed the casino, where the dealers were very friendly as they took our money without hesitation!! LOL.
Disembarkation was smooth. We did the Self Assist, in which we were able to leave early as long as we took off all our own luggage. It was great, as we had an early flight. Calm and clear there was no confusion.
Overall, we had a fun time on our vacation, but we had a fair share of disappointments. We concluded that we will think twice about Carnival again, as we never had ANY problems with Princess or Royal Caribbean.