We received a voice mail from Carnival the day before our cruise was to leave explaining a delay, it advised not to arrive at the port before 5pm. We drive to the port and use an off-site parking facility that includes transfers to the pier and a pick-up. They were in a bit of a crunch with the delay, scheduled airport and port pick-ups etc., but handled it all with a smile. Our luggage was transferred to the van and took off for the port. Upon arrival it was discovered a carry-on had been left in our vehicle. The driver graciously took me back to the parking area to retrieve it. He was supposed to go straight to the airport after dropping us off, so it delayed him again. We explained it had medicine in it and was essential for the cruise.
We waited in line at a terminal for about an hour for some paperwork to be completed and then were directed to walk to another terminal for completion. Apparently the delay had caused some computer snafu so all the embarkation details were being handled with paper and pen. The agents were efficient, but exhausted. Papers were passed out while we were waiting in line explaining Carnival was issuing a credit to all on our Sail and Sign cards ($15 ea.) to cover the cost of lunch. Apparently they also supplied transportation for early arrivals to Fort Lauderdale.
We finally boarded in time for a little rain and a beautiful rainbow. We had requested a late dinner seating, but were assigned 6:15 in the Golden Dining Room. We had time for a quick cup of coffee on Lido and headed for the room to change for dinner. On the way to the room an announcement was made that dinner would be "come as you are." We dropped our carry-ons at the room and the luggage was already there!
We had excellent service in the dining room (Carlos)and a beautiful window seat. The food throughout was OK, we never left hungry. The beef (steaks, filet mignon) was sub-par, but there were plenty that were fine (seafood, pasta, fowl). The buffets were OK, but the deli was fantastic. Our room was tended to, but we discovered about the third day why it wasn't up to usual excellent standards. The computer malfunction had not told the stewards when people were eating dinner. Our steward thought we had the late sitting. We finally straightened that out and received excellent service from then on. Our only gripe about food was while at Grand Cayman. The tendering takes a bit of time and a long wait to get on a tender if you want to get off early. We had coffee, but skipped breakfast to get in line for a day of snorkeling and stingrays. By the time we returned to the ship we were hungry! Only the pizza,ice cream and burger areas were open and the lines were LONG. We filled up on ice cream and waited for dinner.
The entertainment was very good. The show Wonderful World was one of the best Carnival has offered. The music throughout was more than expected. Jazz in the Cabinet (subdued and relaxing), Classical in the Atrium, Caribbean on Lido, Piano Bar (fun, engaging). The trivia games have been moved from Lido to indoor bars. I miss them, but not enough to leave the open deck. Maybe they could move the Hairy Chest Contest indoors instead? A new game has been started - Amazing Race. Saw parts of it, looked like they were having a blast. Take pictures on digital camera to return with proof. Just don't get in the way! The Big Screen was a disappointment. Same old CD's and lots of times dark. Tried to catch movies two different nights. The audio was so low,impossible to hear. Gave up on the first one, enjoyed the graphics (Harry Potter) on the second, but would have liked to hear the dialogue. Good movies shown in the room - when the system was working.
The best part of the cruise was taking a gamble on non-Carnival shore excursions as recommended by many posting reviews. We booked with Moby Dick in Grand Cayman for stingrays and snorkeling. Awesome! Perfect weather, very knowledgeable, amenable and laidback hosts. They educated us about interacting with the rays and were extremely gentle with the animals. Lots of time to feed and kiss the rays. We saw tons of fish snorkeling on the reef and were never hurried. In Ocho Rios we booked with Phil LaFayette for Dunn's River Falls and Tubing. He provides a comfortable van, safety and non-stop comedy blended with a wealth of information. The Falls alone were worth the price of the tour. He got us there before the crowds hit, had plenty of time to figure out the climb was beyond our capabilities, so we played in the water and watched others tackle the climb. He took us through many neighborhoods - good, bad & ugly, all the while joking, singing and sliding in history lessons about government, education and the local way of life. We went through Fern Gully and were brought to the Tubing area. Wow! Fun-Fun-Fun! A number of very strong young men and some very young boys who swam like dolphins watched out for us and tried to keep us off the tree snags and from crashing into the banks, with a very high success rate. Tubes do not want to be steered! They got us out of the river and we thought it was over - wrong. We looked at some souvenirs, they took pictures, had a beer and met up with Phil at the van. They called us back - we were only half way there. We said we wanted to go again, sometimes wishes come true! Back in the tubes, some more white water and lazy floating before it was truly done. Phil took us up in the mountains to a spot for photo-ops with the ship and town as a backdrop. We had a choice to get off at a shopping area near the port, a beach & take a taxi back or be brought back to the ship. We had experienced a wonderful day and were ready to be brought back to the ship, others chose shopping or the beach. Both Moby Dick Tours and Phil LaFayette have websites, definitely worth a look and both earn the glowing reports and highest recommendations for fantastic excursions at very reasonable cost.
Overall, a great cruise. A few minor disappointments that were far outweighed by the better than expected surprises. Carnival Liberty was clean, provided very good service, kept us entertained and well-fed. This was our seventh cruise with Carnival in less than two years, the third on Liberty. Definitely a thumbs up all around. We leave on Thursday on the Sensation.