Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by fredman: Carnival Liberty - Beautry and the Beast!
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Carnival Liberty - Beautry and the Beast!
Let's get this part out of the way immediately, the worse part of my vacation was the seven hours of flying time to come from Edmonton Alberta to Miami - if the airlines could figure out how to comfort, feed and entertain their passengers for near the same amount as I paid for my seven day cruise, they would see large increases in ridership.
So the knock with Carnival, I have heard throughout the Internet repeatedly is cheap, garish and awful food...that is from the non Carnival enthusiasts.
The truth is - Carnival is indeed a value for dollar cruise line. I paid $1600 USD per person including Cruise Air and accommodation at the JW Marriott in Miami. The flight outboard to Toronto was a red eye followed immediately by an early continuing flight into Miami the day before our cruise. What made up for it was the beautiful JW Marriott hotel, I am not sure how many Michelin or AAA Diamonds or Stars it has but what a beautiful hotel. Clean and Smoke free (sorry smokers - More outside you go for your break!).
Our first contact with Carnival staff was at Miami International where we were met by happy staff at arrivals and directed to our Coach Buses that took departing passengers who were leaving that day on the Sensation to the Port of Miami, and then the rest of us to the hotel. Liberty was not in port yet, but it was exciting to see the port and to see how large these ships could be.
Saturday we were met in the lobby of the hotel by one of the Carnival Officers and directed again to our coach bus and off to the port. Embarkation was easy and simpler than Air check-in. It all ran like clock work and none of our party were sure how long we were there because the lines kept moving. Staff were friendly and efficient.
After having sailed the Carnival Liberty exploring her decks, getting lost, experiencing a number of events and eating at pretty well all the venues, I have to say the Carnival Liberty is a pretty ship.
Beauty - The Venetian Palace Lounge - the main theater is beautiful, functional a great place to watch a Vegas style show, play bingo, listen to shore excursion seminars, etc. I loved the two marionette jokers adorning either side of the stage and the red and white glass small tile on the walls is smashing. Next to Flowers Lobby these two spaces are my most favorite places on the ship...Promenade deck although is quite nice too!
The Beast - What I don't like about the Liberty is Emile's. Emile's is located on the Lido and pumps out food in one form or fashion 24 hours a day. This is one space that Joe Farcus, Carnival's space designer failed to deliver on was Emile's. Emile GallE was a french artist in the late 1800's. Emile's features flat pressed copper colored metal scroll work around the booths, cheap looking GallE glass light fixtures. Green, Copper,and red tones embue the space. The buffet lines here feed the thousands of passengers throughout the day efficiently and fairly well - but after awhile the copper the ever present darkness of the space, the whole themes starts to wear on you and it starts to feel like a McDonald's at sea. I think in part the problem with is that Emiles stretches from aft to mid ship and the ceilings are low and it runs on both port and starboard sides of the ship. It does open up finally at the Tivoli pool into daylight but there too the space is stringent without feeling. Tivoli pool is where all the action takes place and what everyone envisions Carnival and the Funship or Party ship is all about! Big Screen TV (Seaside theater) looks down upon the spectators on Lido deck and the pool is the backdrop for the ever required "Hairy Chest" competition. Yes this is a happening place, but if you want to chill out and relax Carnival has made it possible for us quiet types to retreat and there are plenty of places to snuggle up with a book, take in a crossword, or even play bridge.
Harry's Supper club is wonderful and well worth the $30 per person. Food and service is comparable to many five star hotel restaurants. I highly recommend Harry's. The service staff are primarily from Belarus or neighboring countries. We were assigned the Silver Olympian Dining room and ate all our our dinners there until our last day at sea. The food and service again excellent. The decor was comfortable, engaging and not over the top as some say. The other public rooms such as the Stage, and Victoria Lounge are very comfortable and pleasing to the eye.
Overall Carnival provides great value for the dollar, a great vacation experience which I would do again. Did I find our baseline for a cruise experience? Yes, I think whether it's Carnival or one if it's sister cruiselines, we may want to downsize to 690 - 1500 passenger vessel. While we could get away from it all, the ship was a bit too big for us and we found that the elevators could get congested at larger events such as dinner seating. Yup we would take the stairs when feasible. Less
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Cabin review: 8A6347
Stateroom 6347 - Balcony on the Upper deck Starboard. Clean and well maintained. Only downside is that you can hear the music from Promenade deck, just below you. They set up a one person set across and kitty corner from Czar's Casino and will play from late in the evening until about midnight. It's not so loud that you can't sleep, but loud enough that you can tell which song they are playing. If this bothers you, I suggest ear plugs. It didn't bother my wife and I and we would drift off with the music and the light rolling of the ship.
Port and Shore Excursions
We had booked the Bacardi evening experience at the Bacardi factory for $79.00 through Carnival and it did not allow enough time to explore old San Juan before or after the excursion. Was it worth it? Kind of...good historical information at the museum at the factory and during the coach ride back to the pier. Bacardi provides two rum drinks per person, after the tour and after you visit their gift shop.
To be honest, it is worth going on this excursion. The cost, I believe should have been around the fifty dollar mark. But then again the cost of the coach bus, a rum party boat took us across the bay to the waiting buses and we did tour the museum after hours and the museum staff were excellent presenters and the displays top notch.
If you love Rum, go...dam the $79.00, your on your own time!While you are there you can purchase a $89 bottle of aged 12 year old rum reportedly so good that you won't share it with anyone!
By the way you will learn why Bacardi has the Bat on their labels.
I was so disappointed with our three hour tour of the country side which included comments from the driver like this..."on your right side, you will see our local car wash", on your left side is our electric plant. A traffic accident detoured us around to the Princess Juliana Airport, which is famous for the beach landing strip where tourists stand near the runway and take pictures.
I found Phillipsburg, the capital of the dutch side to be interesting in the shopping district beyond that, the casinos and the resorts did not appeal to me at all.
If you are a Star Trek fan go to St. Maarten one highlight for me was meeting Nick Maley, who was the makeup artist for Star Trek. There you can buy collectibles from him and he will personalize them for you. To me a map that the Liberty took on our Cruise with our family name, date and signed by him was a highlight of St. Maarten...oh not to forget about the Guavaberry liqueur they sell on the island - which makes one hell of a Pina Colada!