MY full review of my experience, take it or leave it. It is long and detailed. I do not get anal over "minor little things" and if you had any different experiences then that should be in YOUR full review.
CARNIVAL: 1st off I want to start by saying that we never received any of our paperwork, luggage tags etc for my stateroom. I also noticed another cruiser that experienced this as well. We all booked this cruise in March through one contact person and their Carnival PVP so we would not have any troubles. Were told that will try to arrange to have everyone on or close to the same deck. We were spread all over the ship, kids, families etc. This would not have been an issue if the PVP was upfront that it could not be arranged. Names on info packets were spelled wrong and took several tries to correct everyone. Again, I never received my paperwork or tags at all. Good thing I was able to print them out.
EMBARKATION: Went very smooth. Everyone flew in the night before and stayed at the Sheraton only minutes away. Arrived early and was on the ship by 1:30ish.
ROOM STEWART: Met him on the first day. Nice man, barely spoke English, never caught his name since he was in and out. He knew our schedule by day 2 and never disturbed us while in the room. Room was clean and never had any problems. It is a testament for a good room-steward.
INFO/CREW/SHOWS: I was on the VICTORY last year and knew this was a similar lay-out of ship. I had a difficult time navigating the Victory, but this ship seemed easier. May have been where my room was and also being on the same class ship. It still can be confusing to a 1st timer. The crew was friendly and helpful. The shows were entertaining, some of them I have seen before, but still good. It is nice to see other shows on Carnival that still was new for me. Always enjoy the LEGENDS show on the last night. It can be awful or great if you get the right people involved. This one was entertaining, funny and some surprises.
If anyone noticed any beaded red/white/blue bracelets (Costa Rica/Panama colors) on the crew they came from me. I brought 70 onboard with me and handed them out to crew that made a nice impression on me. Something I do every cruise I am on. I like to say thank you so they know they are appreciated.
CRUISE DIRECTOR: Todd Wittmer I thought he was great. Sorry still have to say Julie on the Sensation was my favorite. Todd is moving to the new FREEDOM and should do well there for that ship. Funny, enjoyable and upfront when needed. (If you saw the morning show comments on some passengers rude remarks you know what I mean) Good for him for stating his mind!
DINING/FOOD: Well let's just say more than a "handful of passengers" knew there way around the buffets. This is probably why the lines were long and slow. I am a patient person, but watching some people try to make a decision was crazy. It is not that difficult. TIP for others reading planning on taking this ship. If you eat at the buffet, sit upstairs from the pastry station where FISH-N-CHIPS are. It is always quiet and not crowded there. May be some of the people on this ship couldn't get up the steps with a tray in hand though. (not being rude just truthful) Silver Olympian Late 8pm dinner Had a group of 11 at our table. All of us were traveling together. Servers were ARSANA and HANNA. THEY WERE AWESOME! Really got to know all of us and shared their stories and experiences as well. Arsana has been with Carnival for 13 year and it shows why. He was the nicest guy. Both of them made over $600 in tips from our table and deserved every penny and more. Carnival will receive a nice letter from me regarding them. NOTE: If you write to CARNIVAL and mention a crew member by name and how much you liked them they will get a day off with pay. Well deserved since servers only make $75 a month (10 hr days 7 days a week)! Yes you heard me correct. My group at the buffet after the crew party just to give them a night off from serving us. LOL Although, we did miss their company.
The food on the ship was great. Considering they are cooking constantly for 3,000 passengers they deserve a pat on the back. Overlooking something here or there is definitely not too much to expect.
EXCURSIONS/PORTS: Ok here we go!!!!!! COZUMEL: Had to switch from Costa Maya because of Hurricane Dean. Glad we went here. Always something to do, people are nice and SR FROGS is right across the street. Although, we lost a camera there and trying to see if they found it... not keeping our hopes up though. Seven of us did the DUNE BUGGY BEACH EXCURSION. We chose this because some of us did this before and it was a blast. It was nice to see some improvements to the excursion. I would highly recommend it to others. Next time at this port I need to try something new because I heard many nice stories of other excursions.
LIMON, COSTA RICA: RAINFOREST CANOPY ZIPLINE EXCURSION this was a blast. Many of us were hesitant about the heights, but it was an experience I would do all over again and choose in other ports. Two hour bus ride gave you a sense of how Costa Ricans live. The guide Randall was very informative. I learned a lot about their culture in those two hours. This is what I enjoy. Meeting and learning different ways people live and see us.
Very glad we chose an excursion here. There is NOTHING to do at the port off the ship within walking distance. Our bus left early so didn't get to even shop in the few tents set up right off the ship. They were all gone when we returned.
COLON, PANAMA: This is one port I have no desire to re-visit ever again. No excursion taken. Not much to choose from that were inviting actually. Wish I went to see the locks after-all. Walked around the two blocks of stores at the port and up to the "mall area" I found the experience quite unsettling. Had two men following us around the entire time even after were told them we did not need their assistance more than once. Some people in my group felt a little nervous and we ended up going back on the ship after about an hour ½. I know some Spanish and when I tried to ask some locals questions they were very unwelcoming and some were rude. Some others in our group went on an excursion and were told at the end "Thank you for your money, now go back to where you came from" Whether they were trying to be humorous or not, I thought that was not an impression to send back to other tourists thinking of visiting. Asking for a simple post-office or where to buy stamps became ridiculous. Never found any stamps and ended up mailing all my postcards from the ship.
DEBARKATION: Went rather smoothly. Took the ship transport to FLL airport and got to walk around the ship for pictures as they set up for the next cruise. Always the best time to get nice full room photos. Took over 300 photos on this cruise and purchased more than usual on board. ($100+). Memories in your mind man fade, but photos remain sharp. This is my 4th CARNIVAL cruise so I opened a Sea-miles account. Well worth it in the end if you cruise often. Very easy process and onboard approval made it easy to apply the card right to my sail-sign account to accumulate credits immediately.
Overall review of this cruise was two part-Ports:"fair" Ship: "A+" Crew "A++". I had much fun while on the ship and that is where most of my memories will be from. The LIBERTY is a very nice ship. I just feel the PORTS were the disappointing aspects to this cruise. Definitely no the "exotic cruise" it was promoted to us as. If I was not with a large group I do not think I would have enjoyed myself as much.