We were scheduled to cruise on the Eastern Caribbean itinerary to St. Thomas, Grand Turk, San Juan and Half Moon Cay. We were switched to a Western Caribbean cruise Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Roatan Isla, Honduras, at 4pm the day before sailing due to hurricane IKE. WARNING: If you ever book during hurricane season and there are active hurricanes don't DEPEND on Carnival or your travel agent to notify you of changes. ENSURE you check the Carnival website for changes. We were told by Carnival repeatedly that they would notify is of any changes and that NEVER happened.
EMBARKATION: We booked our own flights thru Delta from ATL to Miami. All went well. We took a taxi for $9 pp to the pier. Our luggage was taken and tagged and we were on our way to check in for our cruise. My in laws get VIP check in so we parted ways and to our surprise they didn't get checked in any faster than us. We arrived at the pier at around 1pm and were on the ship by 1:45pm. NOTE: Don't show up to the cruise terminal before 12pm. The lines are way too long and you wont get into your room before 1:30pm anyways so save time.
SHIP: The ship was newer so it was in pretty good shape. The decor was AMAZING. I loved this ship. We heard a ton of complaints on the layout, but once we figured out that deck 5 runs all the way thru the ship we had no problems. We were in a Balcony cabin on the upper deck aft. Perfect location to food and pool:) The balcony was nice to be able to relax and admire the views. The room was adequate with plenty of closet space and bathroom space. Our bed was VERY uncomfortable but our cabin attendant, Eka, placed an extra duvet cover over our mattress and tried to make it better. This was a huge disappointment for us as we have sailed numerous times with Carnival and they are known for their Comfort Bed. No biggie, I just took Aleve everyday to prevent a stiff back and neck. Luckily, I brought an ice pack that Eka kept in a ice bath each day. She was a great steward!!
ACTIVITIES: I enjoyed a massage at the spa and it was GREAT!! My hubby and I discovered the adult only heated pool and whirlpool the last sea day (located at the Gym/Spa area)...bummer. It was so relaxing. We never went to the main pool. We lived at the Aft pool. We went to almost all the shows. The tribute to the Rat Pack was amazing. The comedians weren't good. I did use the laundry services $15USD for a full bag and it was well worth it. We have learned not to over pack and use the laundry services.
DINING: As always, we found the food plentiful and good. We definitely did not go hungry. We had a late seating in the Silver Olympian dining room with waiters Supardi and Alyah. They seemed under staffed and very tired on this cruise. Normally when we cruise, the waiters learn the 1st night your likes and dislikes and they are prepared every night. Several times our waiter brought us the wrong entrees or forgot courses all together. The food was good. The service was average but not as good as other ships we've experienced. We loved the fish and chips stand on deck 10 and the pizza and sushi is always good. We bought a soda card and it actually wound up being a good deal for us. $50 for the week. DON'T FORGET CARNIVAL ALLOWS A BOTTLE OF WINE PER PERSON TO BE BROUGHT ON BOARD. This saves us some $ usually. We didn't try the supper club. Even we heard rave reviews we didn't think it was worth the $30 per person.
GRAND CAYMAN: We actually never got to get off at this port due to the hurricane IKE. We docked and they cancelled all tours. They gave us literally an hour to get off and get back on board so we could avoid bad weather even though the skies were blue and sunny:) We had been to Cayman before and were sad we didn't get to see it again because we loved it the 1st time.
COZUMEL: This was my 5th time here and my hubby's 4th time here. Even though we like it, we kind of "been there, done that". We NEVER book tours thru the ships. They charge way to much and you can find the same tours when you get off the boat. We rented a Jeep at the cruise terminal through Executive for $55USD. We drove over to Rasta's and had a drink and a dip in the ocean. We got back in the Jeep and drove to Margaritaville and had lunch. We then went back to the cruise terminal and returned the Jeep and did some shopping. The weather was HOT and beautiful.
BELIZE: We loved this stop. This was our 2nd time here. We were here in Jan 2008 with RCCL and booked a cave tubing tour with Major Tom at www.cave-tubing.net. When we found out we were going to stop here again we knew we wanted to take my in laws on this tour. I immediately went to Major Tom's site and booked 4 spots with lunch for $51USD per person. Our guide met us off the pier with a sign directing us where to go. We met JR and walked to his car. There were only the 4 of us so we got really personalized service from JR. After our tour he took us to Amigos for lunch and it was GREAT!!! You have to book this tour thru Major Tom at www.cave-tubing.net. It's a great price and a great tour!!! We made it back to the ship with an hour to spare and even bought some more One Barrel rum:)
ISA ROATAN, HONDURAS: This was our least favorite port. We almost didn't get off the ship but we thought we might miss something! We got off and it was horribly hot so we walked up a ways and found a city tour for $20 per person. We got on an air conditioned van and went thru the city to the top of some mountain and got wonderful views of the town. We drove to Half Moon Bay and got out and had a cold drink and admired the wonderfully clear water. We had enough time to stop at a few shops for jewelry and coffee. All in all it was OK. HOT though:)
DEBARKATION: This was a train wreck. This was worse than any other cruise we've experienced. We decided to do the self disembark and were allowed of the ship around 8am. We proceeded to the enormous lines that had already formed. Apparently a lot more people decided to get off the ship when they're numbers weren't called. Normally, Carnival will separate the NON US Citizens from the US Citizens and this clearly didn't happen. We were placed in a line with both. Then we waited for an hour before our line even moved. We noticed the customs guy was taking pictures of everyone and thumb printing all passengers. He took a minimum of 20 minutes per family to process thru customs. We finally complained to the Carnival rep and she blew us off sighting that our line was moving just as fast as all the other lines. When people literally began to yell at her and tell her she was wrong our line magically began to move faster. When we got to the customs guy he literally swiped our passports and threw our customs form to the side. My in laws were WAY behind us to begin with but wound up waiting on us for an hour to complete this process.
We had numerous issues with the two girls in between our cabin and my in laws. They would have all night parties with tons of guests being very loud and obnoxious. The last sea day, hubby and I were napping and heard a group of drunk adults singing "If you like pina coladas" at the top of their lungs while we were trying to take a nap. Apparently they LOVED their pina coladas and felt the need to tell everyone in our corridor. I had to call security which I have NEVER done before. I sleep with ear plugs and heard them loud and clear. Security did tell them they had to quiet down. We would definitely cruise with Carnival again; I just don't think we'd go out of Miami again. The Liberty was a very nice ship.