This was our fifth Carnival cruise (our first was November, 2006, so you know we were 'hooked' right away!). We chose this itinerary because of the 4 sea days, which we thoroughly enjoy. We flew from Boston to Fort Lauderdale the morning before the cruise (April 11), and stayed at LaQuinta Inn.
Embarkation was quite smooth. We arrived at the pier around 11 a.m. and were on the ship before noon. We may have spent some time in line, but it always moved (what do you expect when nearly 3,000 people are trying to board a ship in a short period of time?).
We had an 8C Balcony cabin on the Verandah Deck (Cabin number 8452 - Extended Balcony aft, overlooking the ship's wake). The views from the balcony were breathtaking! More than enough drawer, closet, and storage space in the cabin for the two of us. We had plenty of room in the bathroom, too. As always, the comfort of the Carnival bed was outstanding! Thank you, Herey (Cabin Steward), for keeping our cabin tidy, and our ice bucket full.
We ate dinner every night at Table #124 in the lower level of the Golden Olympian Dining Room. Our dining assignment was exactly what we wanted - early dining, and a table for two. Our dining team was Headwaiter Levente and Waiter Gusti. The service was good, but not outstanding (we have had outstanding service on the Carnival Victory, Miracle, and Fascination). All appetizers, soups, salads, and entrees were excellent; the few desserts we ate were quite good (we're not big dessert eaters). Three cheers to Maitre d' Miguel Rodrigues for a wonderful dining experience. He made us laugh until we cried! Hugs and kisses to his Assistant, Fabiana!
We ate a few breakfasts at Emile's on the Lido deck (very good); Room Service breakfast at 5:30 a.m. (arrived right on time!) while in Panama; lunches on the Lido Deck during Sea Days (quite good); after midnight pizza (DELICIOUS!!!!!) a couple of nights (or should I say, mornings?); and a Midnight Gala Buffet. Yummy, yummy food!
We pre-booked our 3 shore excursions with Carnival. In Cozumel, we did the Playa Mia Beach Break Deluxe - all food and drink included. The pool was full of children - but we had no problem finding recliners on the beach. My husband surprised me with a one-hour full body massage on the beach - a bargain at $80! I was so relaxed after the massage I could hardly walk. Because of the high winds and rough ocean, all water 'toys' were cancelled, but we were warned ahead of time at the Pier, and could have cancelled and gotten our money back.
In Costa Rica, we did the Adventure Canals, Rainforest, and Banana Plantation excursion - awesome! Our tour guide, Heidi, was full of very interesting information about her country and the Rainforests.
In Panama, we did the all day Panama Canal Tour. This was the excursion of a lifetime! Even though the Liberty was to sail at 4 p.m., she did wait for all of us on the Panama Canal Tour to return to the ship (between 6 and 6:30 p.m.) because we had booked our excursion through Carnival. We were late because the ships have to line up for their turns going through the Locks - no timetable in the Panama Canal!
Our favorite entertainment are the adult midnight shows in the Venetian Palace (comedy shows; hypnotist; ventriloquism). On past cruises, we went to nightly Karaoke, but on this cruise, the Karaoke host (Ashley) was so very, very pushy and obnoxious that we never returned after the first night. Ashley needs to learn that when an audience member says 'no', he/she means 'no.' He grabbed audience members' hands and arms to drag them on stage to sing (after they said 'no - we're just here to watch'). About 80% of his audience walked out (ran out!) within the first hour.
Two notable bartenders were Tommy in the Paparazzi Bar (How you doing', Tommy?) and Oliver at the Versailles (aft) Pool.
We did not gamble in the Casino, nor did we use the Spa facilities.
Sea Days were spent poolside - reading, listening to music, swimming, meeting new people, and cocktails. Ah, the hours of pure relaxation! Debarkation was a breeze. Since we didn't have a flight to catch (we didn't fly back to Boston until the following day), we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on the Lido deck, then simply hung around the Lido Deck until just before 'Last Call.'
Room for improvement: Children (and adults) diving and jumping into the Versailles Pool (aft). Although there is a sign forbidding diving (and in smaller print - jumping) into the pool, neither children, their parents, or Security enforce this rule! Come on folks, use your brains! The water is only 4 feet deep. Even if you don't care that you, or your children, are splashing salt water into the eyes of other swimmers, or jumping on top of other swimmers YOU COULD BE SERIOUSLY HURT by jumping or diving into 4 feet or less of water. The Carnival Miracle had an Adults Only pool and whirlpool (strictly enforced!); we wish the Liberty had had an Adults Only pool. The aft whirlpools had a sign stating 'Adults Only' but it was not enforced. Those whirlpools were almost always full of children - we were only able to use those whirlpools twice on this eight-day cruise. Security was unable and unwilling to ask the children to remove themselves from the Adults Only whirlpools.
If you have any questions or want more information about this cruise and/or ship, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com