Carnival Liberty Review 12/02/07 - 12/08/07
On this cruise was myself, age 49 and DH, age 50. We left the kids at home this time. We were travelling with another group of 8, 2 of whom we met on our Miracle cruise 1 ½ years ago. The others were their family members.
Getting to FLL:
We left Chicago (O'Hare) on Saturday, Dec. 1st. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 12:40 PM and snow was forecasted to start that afternoon. It wasn't snowing yet when we boarded the plane but started right after we sat down. We had a slight delay while they de-iced the plane but were then allowed to taxi out. By that time it was snowing hard and they had closed 4 runways. This caused a bit of a back up but after a short wait we were able to take off. We arrived in FLL about a half hour late and heard later that over 400 flights were cancelled at O'Hare that day. I guess we got lucky.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express on 17th St. They have a complimentary airport shuttle and were there to pick us about within about 15 minutes after calling them. This hotel was fine for one night but has no pool. We didn't care since we didn't get in until late afternoon and wouldn't have used a pool anyway. I would have stayed elsewhere if we had wanted a pool. There are plenty of restaurants and stores within walking distance. We ate dinner that night at a place called The Grumpy Gator (it was good) then walked to a grocery store to pick up some last minute items. The hotel had the most comfortable bed we had ever slept on. There is no complimentary shuttle to the port but for $7.00 pp there is a bus that comes at 11:00 AM to take you to the port. We signed up for it the night before and were pleased with the service. They were very prompt and actually left the hotel a few minutes early. It's only a few minutes drive to the port but we were on the bus for about 30 minutes because the driver went to the Liberty last. No big deal since the bus was comfortable and air conditioned. We were just antsy to get to the ship.
Very easy. We had one person with us in a wheelchair so were able to bypass the longer line for security and go thru the VIP security line. Once we got to the actual check-in tho we separated from our friends with the wheelchair and went thru regular check in while they went thru VIP check in. It took us about 15 minutes longer for us but they waited for us at the end so we could all board together. Boarding took about one hour from start to finish.
All I can say is, "Wow." The Liberty is a beautiful ship. The lobby is very impressive. The rest of the ship was very pretty also. It was kept very clean although I did notice a Pepsi bottle stuck in a hand rail near our cabin and it sat there all day. You'd think a steward or someone would have picked it up. I also noticed the scratches in the elevators where kids had apparently scratched inappropriate words so they had to scratch them out. Hopefully these will be taken care of when the Liberty goes into dry dock. It's a shame that some people are so disrespectful. Many of the elevators had the scratches. None of these things had an impact on my overall cruise experience tho. I think they cleaned some of the carpets toward the end of the cruse because they had the big blowers going in some places. I didn't actually see them clean them tho.
Since I knew from reading Cruise Critic that decks 3 & 4 do not go all the way thru, I didn't find the ship all that hard to navigate. However, I did have a hard time convincing my husband that decks 3 & 4 don't go thru. He kept trying to find a way thru. LOL (He doesn't read Cruise Critic)
We had cabin #9256, inside on the Lido deck. This was our first inside cabin and I wasn't sure if we would like it. We usually get balconies but this was a budget cruise so we went for the inside. I missed the balcony but didn't really mind the inside. I would book an inside again if money was an issue but if not, I would stick with a balcony. The one thing I didn't like about this cabin was it tended to be noisy but I'm not sure why. We were surrounded by cabins on all sides but I kept hearing doors slamming in the morning. There was a crew only door on the other side of the cabin next to ours that I think the stewards were using and maybe that's where the noise was coming from. I could also hear the phones ringing in the adjacent cabins. It's also possible that we just had noisy neighbors. Maybe the sound proofing isn't as good on this ship as it is on the Spirit Class ships. The other people in our group we're also on the Lido deck but didn't complain about noise. They were quite a bit further forward. I loved the location but would book a cabin further forward in the future to see if that is better. It was very convenient to the pools and Lido deck restaurant. We were so close to the main pool that if I was by the pool I usually went back to the cabin if I needed to go to the bathroom. Our cabin steward was fine but we barely saw him. When we did he was friendly and he kept the cabin spotless. His name was Milagres and was from India. I asked him to keep the refrigerator stocked with Diet Cokes and he forgot the first night so I left him a sticky note on the mirror and he never forgot again. The refrigerator was not cold at all but I knew to expect this. I would usually stick a Coke in the Ice bucket for awhile. We also had a bucket in the cabin from a bucket of beers my husband had purchased and he kept that filled with ice most of the time so I'd stick my cokes in there sometimes.
We had requested the 6:15 dining time but received 5:45 in the Silver Olympian dining room. We didn't try to have it changed. We were just thrilled that our PVP's honored our request to cross reference our bookings so that we would be seated together. It wasn't all that hard to make the 5:45 time anyway because our port days usually ended by 3:00 or 3:30. We had a round table for ten near the back so if we were lucky we got to see the sun set but it set right at about 5:45 so would be over if we were even a few minutes late. Our dining team was fantastic. We had Lyubomir from Bulgaria (head waiter) and Suarsana from Indonesia (assistant). I've never had such fast service. Everything that was supposed to be hot was hot and cold stuff was cold. I thought the food was very good for the most part. Lobster was just OK. I didn't love everything but I never left the table hungry. We ate breakfast on the Lido deck every morning and it was OK. Nothing special but it was what I expected. I had pancakes every day with sausage and potatoes. Sometimes the pancakes were cold. My husband had omelets a couple of days. I only ate lunch on the Lido deck 3 times. I had goat cheese pizza on embarkation day, a cheeseburger one day and a Reuben another day. They we're all fresh and hot since they were made up just for us or came right off the grill. I didn't get anything from the buffets except for a small bowl of mac and cheese to take back to my cabin one night when I needed something to tide me over till dinner. The mac and cheese was a little odd, different than what I'm used to but by the time I finished it I decided that I liked it.
We didn't do any excursions on this cruise and didn't pick this cruise for the ports. Nassau was just OK. We walked around and did some shopping. Went to the straw market and got a knock off wallet for my daughter. Then we went to Senor Frogs for a couple of drinks. It was just getting going when we had to leave because the ship sailed at 1:00. It was fun for the short time we were there.
Grand Cayman was great. We went to Sea Grape Beach and relaxed. It's a very nice, pretty beach. After that we went back to town and had a drink at Margaritaville. Drinks are very expensive there but we expected that. It was also very quiet there. They gave wristbands for a free Margarita at Margaritaville in Jamaica to anyone who was going there the next day so we got them.
In Jamaica we went to the Island Village for shopping. The locals don't harass you there. Only the licensed vendors are allowed in there. I only had one woman follow me around in one shop. She kept giving me lower prices on everything I looked at but I actually wanted to buy something there so I was willing to let her talk to me. I ended up with a nice purse and some earrings. The entrance to Margaritaville is right inside island Village so after shopping we went there. Drinks were a lot cheaper there than in Grand Cayman ($7.00 for a Margarita in Jamaica, $11.00 for the same size one in Grand Cayman). There was a lot more happening there too. We had some drinks and some conch fritters and sat back and enjoyed people watching.
Sea days were Tuesday and Friday. We spent both of them lounging by the main pool on the Lido deck. Of course, the chair hogs were there but both days we got out there at 10:45 and were able to get chairs on the deck right by the pool and hot tubs. It was just a matter of waiting for someone to vacate their chairs. On both days people vacated their chairs within minutes after we got there. I did see a couple of chairs that were saved for hours and people only showed up to sit in them in the late afternoon. On the last sea day I witnessed an issue over chairs where a Carnival staff member was involved but I don't know who was blaming whom and for what. I just know that 2 women wanted the same chair. It was settled quietly tho.
I thought most entertainment was pretty good. Wonderful World on the 1st formal night was good but half way thru it I realized that we had seen it on another ship. I wouldn't have gone again if I'd realized that. Rock Down Broadway on Thursday was pretty good too. The lead vocalists were very good. We saw 2 comedians, Jim Brick and Marvin Bell. Jim Brick was pretty funny but Marvin Bell was just OK. We also saw the juggler Victor Zuniga and he was very good. I was skeptical about seeing a juggling act but his show is half juggling and half comedy. We enjoyed it. There was a pretty good country and western duo that played in the lobby bar every night but I'm not really into country and western. Still, they seemed pretty good. We went to the piano bar one night. Brad Alexander is the piano guy. We only stayed for one set but he seemed OK and most people seemed to enjoy him. Apparently he is a non smoker because even tho it's a smoking lounge; there is no smoking if you are sitting right around the piano. This was nice for the non smokers (including me). The pool band wasn't great. That was somewhat of a disappointment since we've had great pool bands on our last 2 cruises. We didn't see any other entertainment.
The new cruise director is Steve Knisley. He was fine but honestly, cruise directors just aren't that important to me. I did have a brief chat with him one night in the lobby bar and he seemed very nice. It was his first week on his own on the Liberty. He had just come from 2 years on the Destiny so he asked the passengers to give him a break if he accidentally referred to the ship as the Destiny.
We had #30 and a late flight so we took our time and waited until they called our number. The numbers only go to 32 so we we're practically the last off the ship. We then went back to our friend's hotel since they were staying an extra night. We hung out there until we had to leave for the airport. They were staying at the Hampton Inn Airport North and it seemed like a very nice hotel. They had a nice pool. I would consider staying there if I ever sail from Ft. Lauderdale again.
You must visit Elena at the Lobby Bar. She's the best.
The ship had very pretty Christmas decorations up and since Chanukah started on Tuesday they had the lighting of the Menorah every night in the lobby. I think they served some type of food too because we always saw hot food trays set up but we never went down there during that time. Perhaps it was some sort of traditional Jewish food that goes along with the lighting of the Menorah.
This was our 1st time on a Conquest Class ship. Our other more recent cruises have been on Spirit Class ships. I can't really say that I prefer one over the other. I had heard that the lines in the buffet are long on the Conquest class ships but I didn't notice this. Perhaps I went at the right times. I would sail either class again.
We had a meet and greet for our roll call at the aft Lido Deck bar. We wore either lei's or Mardi Gras beads for recognition. Quite a few turned out. Unfortunately we didn't see much of them for the rest of the cruise although we ran in to some of them here and there.
All and all, this was a great cruise and I wouldn't hesitate to sail on the Liberty again.