My husband, 11 year old son and I sailed on the Liberty on a 6 day cruise from 4/6-4/12. We drove from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale the day before with 2 other couples and their two children. We all stayed at the Hampton Inn, which cost $99 for the night, plus an addition $20 to park our car there for the week (you can park for $20 for up to 10 days). This hotel was absolutely fabulous. They drove us to a waterside restaurant they recommended for dinner the night before and picked us up when we were done. Perfect, we didn't have to worry about a designated driver, where to go and how to get there. The next morning they took us to the port at 10:30am, which is about a 5 minute drive away.
Embarkation was a breeze. They immediately took our luggage, we had no line, sat in the waiting area for approximately half hour and was on-board, having the drink of the day and eating lunch in Emile's by noon. I highly recommend getting to the port no later than 11am or you will wait in long lines.
We have sailed Carnival 2 other times, and of course, staterooms are small, but we truly felt the staterooms on this ship were a very nice size. We had an ocean view room with a couch that turned into a bed for our son at night, and of course we had the 2 twins made up as a double. Beds, pillows, duvets were all comfortable and lived up to the Carnival Comfort name. I lied down on my son's bed and it was not very comfortable, probably fine for a child, but I wouldn't have wanted to sleep on it for a week. Our room steward was absolutely fabulous and called us by name after the first night. The room was always spotless; clean towels every time, clean sheets, fresh ice and he always kept our cooler full of ice. Stateroom service was above our expectations.
The ship is really very aesthetically pleasing. The décor is art deco, with a lot of wrought iron and glass. The main pool deck area (Trivoli pool) was wonderful with the big screen TV and the comfy blue swivel chairs. They played concerts and movies and we enjoyed those nightly, while eating $2 bags of popcorn. The Billy Joel concert was superb, but we enjoyed everything we watched. The aft pool area, where the pizza is located, was very pretty and quiet. The kids loved the large water slide. There are several hot tubs, but they always seemed packed with kids. One morning I did enjoy a tub alone, but for a short 20 minutes. There are 4 pools, but they are all fairly small in size. The tri-leveled deck by the main pool/stage area was very well laid out. We could always get a couple of lounge chairs together. Not like on other ships were we couldn't find a chair or lounger. They had tons of them on this ship and never had a problem.
They had a large chess set, a newly input mini-golf, great courts, running track, shuffleboard, volleyball and golf instruction on sea days on the sports deck.
We ate in the dining room twice. It was your typical dining room fare. The escargots were divine. One night I ordered lobster and it wasn't as mouth watering as usual, but it was descent. My second dinner of eggplant parmesan had very little flavor. The rest of the table ordered steaks and prime rib and thought they were very good. The escargots, crab cake, and stuffed mushrooms were very good, as they always are on Carnival. I didn't eat dessert, but everyone else in my party raved about theirs, the chocolate melting cake being everyone's favorite. The service was adequate, but we felt very rushed and you could just tell that the waiter was stressed at times. The drink service was very poor.
The food in Emile's was average, nothing to really write home about. However, we did have some fried fish on the first night and it was fabulous. The lines moved fairly quickly and it was always clean. Fish and Chips (which is only open for lunch) was very tasty. It's too bad they didn't have it open for dinner as well, as we would have eaten there more often. My husband had 2 deli sandwiches and loved them. The pizza was excellent. The best we've had on a cruise. The goat cheese and mushroom pizza is worth the 8 minute wait.
Harry's Supper Club was the highlight of our dining experience aboard the Liberty and well worth the $30 per person. It was just exquisite. The presentation was as scrumptious as the food. My husband and I attended with one of the other couples that were with us and we all thought it was one of the best meals and experience we had ever encountered The $60 was WELL worth every penny. I highly recommend it.
My son loved Camp Carnival and was there daily. He went to the $26 slumber party that lasted from 10pm until 3:30am and they returned him to the cabin. It gave us a night out and he had a blast. Camp Carnival is always fabulous.
In the spa I had acupuncture and 1 of my friends had a massage and the other had a body scrub and massage. I hadn't ever had acupuncture, but did enjoy the experience. My friends loved their massages and body scrubs. You always pay more for these luxuries on a cruise ship than you do at home, but it isn't something most of us do at home.
We didn't attend any of the shows, as the kids wanted to swim every night. We all truly loved watching the Big Screen while the kids swam. The Hairy Chest contest was funny as always.
The casino was open and nice and the bar service everywhere we went on the ship was very good. You will not wait long for drinks on this ship.
We visited Key West, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. Key West was fun and relaxing, we visited The Hemingway House and enjoyed the tour of the home and the cats and then we perused Duvall Street and did some shopping and then met up with our friends and had drinks and appetizers at Hog's Breath Saloon; which was a blast. There is also a Margaritaville, Hard Rock Café, Sloppy Joe's and many other well known restaurants, bars and shops.
In Grand Cayman we all just went to 7 mile Beach (as all of us had been to Grand Cayman before and done the must see Turtle Farm, Hell and Stingray City) and the beach was lovely. Getting a cab there and back was easy, but the cabbies make you sit and wait in their hot vans until they fill them up completely. It only cost us $5 per person each way, much cheaper than Carnival's $30 charge. We rented chairs for $8 each and one of our friends got a kayak for $25 for an hour. The shops are great in Grand Cayman and not pushy.
In Jamaica we did a self booked excursion with Phil Lafayette and visited Dunn's River Falls, did the water tubing at another location and they drove us around for a few photo opps. It was $55 per person, but we had to tip at both stops, plus tip Lafayette's guide. We did thoroughly enjoy Jamaica, but the country is very poor and we were hounded to buy things we didn't need or want. We didn't do any shopping once back to the port, as we just didn't like the aggressiveness. Our friends booked a horse back riding tour through Carnival and they all raved about how much fun they had.
The only real complaint was the shopping aboard the ship. They could really add in more shops. The special shopping hours were just loads of cheap watches, rings and T-shirts. It was disappointing each time we attended. And, of course, the pictures are very expensive at $22 for an 8x10 and no option to buy a smaller size.
Disembarkation went as it usually does; you give them your luggage by 10:30pm the night before and you have to be out of your cabin by 8:30am, then everyone is huddled on Decks 5 and 9. However, all of the food was on Deck 9 (Emile's) so this is where everyone is waiting and eating breakfast. The dining room started running out of a lot of items and couldn't keep up. Our number (luggage tag number they give you the night before) was finally called and we were off the ship by 10am. A porter helped us with our luggage and we were out quickly. We called the hotel and they came and picked us up and were at our car and on the road back to Tampa by 10:30am. One of the couples with us did the self disembarkation and was off the ship by 8am.
We had a fabulous time aboard the Liberty and special thanks to all of the Cruise Critic folks we talked to prior to leaving for our cruise that helped us prepare and make lasting memories aboard a fabulous and well serviced ship. We are getting ready to book our 2009 cruise very soon!