BACKGROUND INFORMATION : This is our 7th cruise and our 4th with Carnival, have also cruised with Princess, Royal Caribbean and NCL. My wife and I are are in our 40's and we have 2 children, 13 and 18, both boys. Since we live in central Florida, we drove down to Miami the morning of the cruise. We arrived at 10:30 a.m., dropping the bags with the porters and parked the car at the port ( $20 per day or $140). They do make you pay for your parking when you arrive so have cash or credit card ready.
EMBARKATION : Embarkation was easy and we were on board the ship by 11:45 a.m. After being told that the rooms would not be ready until 1:30 p.m., we then went and had a bite to eat at the Fish and Chips restaurant, pretty good, a little greasy for my tastes but my wife enjoyed it, as did the kids. I did try the Boulillabase which was very good as were the fried oysters and the fried Calamari. They also had a nice selection of fresh tuna. After finding our way around the ship, I did manage to drop off our bags in the room prior to 1:30, just went in the closed hall doors to the rooms, found ours and placed the bags on the floor behind the bed.
ACCOMODATIONS : Our room was an oceanview, was good size and was very clean. The kids had an inside room across the hall which was very ample. The room had plenty of storage, the bathroom also was well laid out and shower was plenty large. Room stewards introduced themselves the first day and called us by name for the remainder of the cruise, even knew the kids names. They did a great job keeping the room made up, supplied us w/ ice and of course created 6 different towel animals. They did a very nice job, always working with a smile on their face.
SHIP : The ship was well appointed with all the usual stuff like a casino(managed to loose a little in there). The pools were nice, a little small for a ship that size. We did have a little trouble getting a chair the day we went back to the adult pool/hot tub. The ship was very clean and was constatly being cleaned the entire cruise. The ships common areas were a bit glitzy but who wants boring. The atruim is nice and tall, but felt a bit small and closed in. The dining rooms and show areas are nice and spacious. Their are a few columns in the way in the show room so try not to get behind those, they can obstruct your view. Some areas of the ship can smell from cigarettes like the casino but it's no big deal! Ran 21 miles on the ship, mostly on the treadmills, Exercise room was great, jogging track on deck was a bit hot in the afternoon. If your gonna use the track, do so in the a.m. One word of caution, the blue decking around the adult pool in the back of the ship can be extremely hot and will burn your feet, take notice or you'll be sorry!!!!!!
SERVICE : I would say that the service on this ship rivals any of the cruises we have been on, they were all very friendly and did everything in their power to ensure your expectations were at least met if not exceeded. They greeted you in the hallways and everywhere else, usually with a smile on their face. The service in the dining room was outstanding thanks to our wait person, Constadinkaand her helper Edmund. She made sure everything was to our liking and went out of her way to do so. We do not drink so I can't rate the bartenders and servers.
DINING : The meals in the dining room were good to very good. At dinner I would normally order 2 appetizers and usually 2 entrees. This was not a problem in any way, my son would sometimes order 3 shrimp cocktails without any issues. He also liked the flat iron steaks. We also ate some of our breakfast in the dining room, it's hard to get hot pancakes or waffles in either the dining room or the buffet. Bacon/sausage was good as were the omlets. Fresh fruit was ripe and tasty. Breads in the dining room were good, but not great. I am a big bread eater so I love good bread. Bread was better at Harry's Supper Club. At Harry's I had the lobster and my wife had the 24 ounce porterhouse. The porterhouse was excellent, lobster was ok. There is always something to eat, there is soooo much food and so many choices. The deli is very good with my favorite being the Pastrami melt on rye bread, but the reuben was also very good. Burgers and chicken strips were also good and of course the soft serve ice-cream/frozen yogurt served all over the ship is good. The pizza was pretty good, I liked the crust better than the calzone crust. The desserts were good but not great. I had the cholcate melting cake and it was good but it is very rich, definitely need to order extra vanilla ice cream with it as the size of ice cream they serve with it is not enough. The buffets were normal buffets with some selection being very good like the day they had "Mahi Mahi". Let's face it, your always eating on the ship, so enjoy. I put on a few pounds but I enjoyed it all...now I get to work it off.............no problem.
ENTERTAINMENT : The shows were pretty good...I didn't care for the Rock -N -Roll show too much but I'm not into the oldies too much. The hypnotist was alright, I've seen better...The comedian was just ok.....the cruise director, Butch, was very good and kept things interesting. If you get into competition, you'll love the color competitions between decks. RED, WHITE or BLUE. Depending on what deck you are on, you will be a color and they award points for all the different competitions that they have. The ships orchestra/band is excellent and very talented. The other bands and entertainment around the ship are hit or miss. The piano bar singer was not good, hardly saw very many people in their the entire cruise. He could not harmonize and didn't know entire songs, would just play bits and pieces. And do they always drink while they are working, this guy was sipping right along with the audience? Not real professional, come on Carnival, you can do better! The pool side band was good, just 2 guys playing keyboard, steel drum and bass guitar. We enjoyed them very much and they worked very hard!
CHILDRENS CLUB : My 13 year son hung out with Camp Carnival quite a bit and enjoyed it very much, they had a lot of different things to do with their own age kids which he enjoyed very much.
PORTS/EXCURSIONS : In Jamica we got a liscensed taxi (ones with a red liscense plate) and he took us to a great waterfall by the ship that flows to the ocean, very pretty under the canopy of trees. Locals around waterfall trying to sell beads, food etc. but not too pushy. Their was also the smell of ganja in the air but nobody offered or tried to sell any marijuana to me or my family. He also took us up into the rain forest and we met several islanders that explained what grew on the island etc. Very nice tour that lasted about 1.5 hours. He initially asked $40 for the tour but they will bargain with you which he did. Called himself cheap Charlie and we finally settled on $30 before he walked us to his taxi, and of course we tipped him after the tour, he was very knowledgable about the island. (That price was the total for 4 of us people, can't beat that deal) In Grand Cayman we did the reef snorkel and swim with the Stingrays. This was so awesome and our guides ( Moby Dick Tours ) were excellent. They have a website and you can contact them and reserve with them, much cheaper and fewer people than booking it through the ship. They were 3 guides on the boat with about 40 people. You have'nt lived until you've held a full grown stingray in your arms, they are pretty big and heavy! Feeding them was an event in itself! $40 per adult $35 under 12....Been to Cozumel multiple times so just did some shopping and then back on the boat for a few hours of having the boat to ourselves, great.
DISEMBARKATION : If you can take your own suitcases off the boat, do so with self assist. We were off the boat, though customs and back in our car by 8:15 a.m. and this was after having a nice breakfast at the buffet, too easy!
SUMMARY : This crusie was great, enjoyed by the whole family. Good accomodations, great friendly service, good food and good ports with good excursions. Very relaxing time. The weather was outstanding, I might have felt the ship once or twice. Unfortunately we did have a woman get very ill on our way to Mexico so we had to " FULL SPEED AHEAD" to Mexico. Hopefully she is recovering back in Finland as I believe they said she was flown from Mexico home. We would definitely cruise the Liberty again, she a fine boat with and outstanding crew!