My friend and I booked this cruise last fall through our travel agent. We are female, 50+ and have traveled with Carnival on 8 previous cruises.
Pre-Cruise: Our plan was to leave on Saturday, spend one evening in Ft. Lauderdale and be shuttled to the ship on Sunday. Plans changed because a snow storm was expected in our area late Friday night into Saturday morning which is when we would be traveling to the airport. We booked Friday night at the Best Western by TF Greene airport in RI. Our room rate covered the cost of a double room, continental breakfast Saturday morning, and transfer to the airport, parking and a pickup back to our car from the airport on our return. We are glad we came in early as the snow came down all night and then changed to rain and froze. Our flight left on time, had a connection in Baltimore and on to Ft Lauderdale, landing on time. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Hollywood. This included continental breakfast and a transfer to the port. There was a shopping plaza within walking distance with all the basic mall/plaza type stores. We had dinner at a restaurant in this plaza. We were able to pick up wine for the cruise at this plaza.
We checked out at 10:30 to get our shuttle at 10:45 to the pier, which is when we found out the Liberty was going to be approx. 3 hours late due to a medical emergency on board. The ship had to return to Grand Cayman on Saturday, which put it behind schedule. We took our luggage out by the pool with us and spent a couple of hours there talking and passing the time with several people who were in the same predicament. Finally got on the shuttle at 1:30 for the 15 minute ride to the pier. That's when the waiting began!
Embarkation: Our bus circled the pier 2 times before we were able to get out. People were still coming off the ship at this point, so, needless to say there was lots of congestion. We gave our luggage to the porter, tipped her and headed to the terminal. So far so good. The line was not extremely long and was moving. Then it stopped and we didn't move again for probably 20 minutes. We made it to the check in table and had our paperwork ready. Knowing that there was an emergency the night before and that sometimes things happen, we took it all in stride. The lady who processed our paperwork definitely appreciated our good humor as not everyone else was in the jolly mood we were in. We were told we could go and wait in another terminal or we could take a bus to downtown Ft. Lauderdale. As it was already 2:45 p.m. we opted to wait in the terminal. That little walk took over ½ hour. People were getting tired, hungry and just plain nasty (these were the cruisers, not the Carnival Staff!) We were finally on board at 4:30 p.m. and the first thing we did was get the Drink of the Day! We found our room by 5 p.m.
Cabin: Our travel agent was able to get us an upgrade to an 8C balcony cabin. The room was a standard balcony cabin on the Veranda deck. The only issue with this room was that it was located directly below the covered seating area on the Lido deck, so we heard chairs scraping across the floor as people were moving chairs. It wasn't enough noise to make it unbearable, just noticeable at times. The advantage to this deck was that we went up one floor to the lido deck for pool, pizza, ice cream and buffet! Our cabin steward Amy, came by to introduce herself, told us her working hours and if we needed anything to please let her know. Our room was well taken care of for the whole week. One of us asked to change out the heavy comforter to a regular blanket, it was there when we came back to the room after eating. We had one minor maintenance issue, (door handle on door to balcony was loose) so we left her a note and maintenance came and repaired it within a few hours.
Activities: We did not participate in a lot of the activities offered. There were the standard hairy chest contest, ice carving, newlywed game, etc. Those we did watch. We did take part in "The Amazing Race" held on our last sea day (Friday). This involved teams getting a list of 20 items, plus bonus items worth various points and going around the ship photographing these items. We had a team of 3, other teams had 6 or more. We had a lot of fun and did more moving around the ship in that ½ hour than we did on any full day previously.
Ship info: The ship was not the gaudy color scheme of the old Carnival ships. It was tastefully decorated and HUGE! We negotiated the ship pretty well, but took a while to get used to the fact the 2 dining rooms, separated by the galley took up the 3rd and 4th floor midship, so to get around that we had to remember to go to deck 5 and go forward or aft depending on where we wanted to go, then go down. Got that all figured out by late Wednesday! We did enjoy the ship, but feel a little more comfortable with a smaller vessel. There were the basic shops, and many lounge areas.
Service: We had nothing but good experiences with the service staff. From our room steward, Amy, dining room waiter, Clive, and assistant, Chen, lido deck food service staff, pursers desk, and maintenance everyone was pleasant, efficient and good at what they did.
Shore Excursions: We did not take excursions thru the ship, however, we did the following: In Bahamas, we got off the ship and headed of the pier to the Harley Shop to buy a souvenir for DH. From there we walked about 15 min to the British Colonial hotel and waited for a bus to take us to the Ardastra Gardens/Zoo. Bus was $1.00 and admission to the Gardens/Zoo was $15.00. The place is not overly large, but had some interesting animals, including a Flamingo show. Spent approx. 1 ½ hours there, then walked out to the main road and waited for the bus to take us back for another $1.00. The ship was not in port very long - ship arrived at 7:00 a.m. and we had to be on board by 12:30 p.m. Grand Cayman - We knew before hand that there were going to be 5 ships plus the Liberty in port so we stayed on board till 11:30 then took a tender to shore with no waiting. Again went to the Harley shop across the street, also Hard Rock Cafe to pick up souvenirs for those back home. We stopped in to Margaritaville, expecting a laid back, beach bum, Jimmy Buffett type atmosphere. Nothing like that at all - Loud music, lots of people, not at all what we were expecting. Didn't stay long, although lots of people were enjoying it. We were back on board within an hour of leaving it. Seemed like a million people were on shore in that shopping area. Had no problem getting a tender back to the ship. We did take a tour in Jamaica from a vendor based there. We were picked up at the pier and taken to Dunns River Falls and tubing down the White River. There were about 15 people on this tour. I had climbed the falls on a previous trip to Jamaica 10 years ago, but now being older and less agile, my friend and I opted to play it safe and take the stairway running alongside the falls! Still a beautiful sight! About 2/3 of our tour climbed the falls the other 1/3 walked as we did. We then got back on to the air-conditioned van and were through town to the tubing site. What a great time! We all were given a large inner tube and off we went down the fast moving river. There were 2 guides up front and 2 in the back making sure everyone was on track. At one point we got out of the river and the guide took us on a short walk uphill (3 min. walk) and we were able to jump in to the river from about 30'. About half the group, including me, did the jump. What a rush! We then got back to the tubes for a short ride to the end point. Pictures were taken of floating in the river and also the jump. These were available for purchase $5.00 each. There was no pressure to buy them, but I did! Because the weather was overcast and threatening rain, we were given the option of heading to the beach as planned or head back to Island Village shopping center and ending the tour there. We had some $ taken off the cost of the tour as we did not do the beach. Again, had to make a purchase at the Harley shop for DH! We were back on ship just before the rain came.
Dining - We ate breakfast in the dining room on one morning only. Service was good, food was ok. We left out the room service breakfast request before going to bed on Thursday as we were heading on a tour on Friday morning. We requested delivery between 7:30 - 8:00 a.m. and everything we requested was there at 7:45 a.m. We tipped the delivery person before he left. We also a late night snack from room service. Roast beef sandwich with cookie/brownie plate. Came within the time stated on the phone. Again tipped the delivery person. All other breakfasts were from the Lido buffet. We felt the buffet offered plenty of choices, from cereal to made to order omelettes, and plenty in between. Never ate in the dining room for lunch, always hit the Lido buffet or pizza. Again we felt there were plenty of choices. We used the upstairs section quite often as there were always seats and not busy. This is where we got Fish and Chips. Other than the first evening due to the time we got on board, we ate in the Silver Olympian Dining Room. Monday and Thursday were formal nights. Monday evening we saw many women wearing long dresses or dressy cocktail dresses. Men were wearing suit jacket/tie combos, although we saw a few tuxes. We were on the upper level of the dining room so I can't say what everyone else was wearing, but in our area, that is what was prevalent . On Thursday, people did "dress up" but not to the extent as Monday evening. We found the food to be very good. The prime rib was excellent! We found the wait staff to be very efficient and friendly. Whenever I asked our waiter, Clive, to explain something on the menu, he had an answer, so he knew the menu and the food. Chen, who might have weighed all of 90 lbs, carried trays of food around that probably weighed more than she did!
Entertainment: There were 2 production shows and we enjoyed both of them. Lots of energetic singing and dancing. Another night we saw a juggler who was just as much a comedian as a juggler. I'm sure some of the jokes were set ups, but we thoroughly enjoyed his act. A comedian came out and did a 15 routine after the juggler. He was quite funny, and he also had an adult show earlier in the week which we did not see. There were many musical acts throughout the ship including a classical trio in the Flowers lobby in the afternoons/early evening. There was also a duet who played during the early evenings in the main lobby bar. There was a piano bar which was full whenever we walked by. We did stop in for a while one evening and the piano player played "The Devil went down in Georgia" like we'd never heard it played before. It was really good. The crowd started getting really loud, but sounded like they were having fun. A bit much for us though. Then there was Karaoke every night across the hall. There was also a very good band playing in the Victoria Lounge, but being 2 single women, felt very out of place as the audience was all couples. The disco played Motown for 1 hour on one evening between 7:30 -8:30 and another night played the Best and Worst of the 70's and 80's which was fun, but again for only an hour. Most nights it didn't open until 11p.m. or midnight. We just wished there was a lounge that had good ole rock and roll or some southern rock or country that was open between 9 - 1 a.m.
Disembarkation: This was the easiest disembarkation we have ever done. Had breakfast on the lido deck buffet. From there walked the long way to our cabin so we could check out some others that were being cleaned - Aft corner cabins, a suite, that type of thing. Finished packing our carryon bags and headed out of the room around 9:30. We waited out by the casino for about 20 minutes when our number (23) was called. Walked off the ship in no time, collected our luggage, presented our declaration forms and were outside having someone hail us a taxi by 10:15. The taxi was $15.00 +tip to the airport.
Summary: We had a nice, relaxing vacation which is what we were aiming for. We just wished there was more to do in the evening for those who do not gamble, drink from 5 p.m. on, or start partying after midnight. We did play a few slot machines one evening, but definitely didn't want to do it all night, every night! Also a lounge that opened at 9 or so and stayed open late for those who didn't want to go out at 11 or midnight would have been nice also. We had a number of drinks at various bars, but can only drink so much! All in all, we would give the whole trip a 4 out of 5.