Background: The Carnival Liberty's 7 day cruise offered us great activities, wonderful food, beautiful accommodations, and fabulous shore excursions. This was our second Carnival cruise and certainly not our last.
Travel to Port: We flew into Miami on the Friday evening before our cruise. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites Miami Airport South-Blue Lagoon. We called for their complimentary shuttle when we were gathering our luggage and they picked us up upstairs from baggage claim. It was a short ride to the hotel. They had clean rooms, a continental breakfast, and a CVS and Walgreens within walking distance. They did not have a shuttle to the port of Miami, but they did call a cab for us. It was about a 15 minute ride and it cost $35 including tip.
Arrival at Port: We arrived at the port around 10:30AM. We had read in other reviews and on the Carnival message boards that it is wise to arrive 1 1/2 - 2 hours before the documented embarkation time. Our embarkation time was 12:00PM. We quickly checked our bags with the porter and proceeded to the check in area. We received a boarding number and the helpful staff directed us to the check in counter. We stood in line only minutes and were called to the desk. We had already filled out our Fun Pass and other information on line, so they scanned our credit cards and gave us our sail and sign cards. We were told to wait in the waiting area until our boarding number was called. They started calling boarding numbers at 11:30, beginning with VIPs. We were were in group 14 and it only took 20 minutes for us to be called. We proceeded up the escalators and onto the ship. After we were photographed for our sail and sign card, we were on board! We went directly to the shore excursion desk to book the cabana at Half Moon Cay. This excursion CAN NOT be booked on line and there are a limited number of cabanas. After we signed up for our cabana, we headed to the Lido deck and enjoyed our first drink and lunch.
Stateroom: Our stateroom was on the Riviera deck, deck 1. It was an exterior room with one large window. It was ready around 1:30 on the first day. Our luggage was waiting for us when we went to our room at 2:00PM. We think that checking in early was key to having our luggage at our room so early. We saw other luggage being delivered as late as 5:00PM. Our stateroom provided ample room for the 3 adults in our party. We each had a twin bed which was very comfortable. There were 3 large closets, a vanity with a large mirror, plenty of storage space, and luggage storage under the beds. The bathroom had a decent sized sink area with plenty of storage shelves on the mirror above the sink. The shower was large enough for the over 6 foot man in our group to shower comfortably. We had one issue with poor drainage in our shower. After we told our ship steward, it was corrected. Our ship steward, Romi, cleaned the room twice daily. He made sure we had plenty of towels, which were replaced twice a day, a full ice bucket, and he was eager to help us with any request we made. His towel animals were the highlight of our nightly return to the room, especially the monkey!
Ship Information: We found the ship easy to navigate. The most important thing to know is that not every deck goes from the front of the ship to the back. Once you realize which decks do, it is much easier to get around. The ship had too many activities to count. There was live music, classes, games, karaoke, musical shows, casino, fitness center, comedians, movies on the deck... something for everyone. The staff is always willing to help and they provide seminars on ports of call, shopping, and disembarkation.
Dining: We chose open seating dining which allowed us to eat anytime during dinner hours and with whomever we chose. We liked this option because we were not on a schedule of when to eat and we did not have to eat with strangers. The food in the dining room was very good. There were many options of appetizers, main entrees, and desserts. When we did not eat in the dining room for dinner we ate at the buffet on the Lido deck. The food was the same as was offered in the dining room and included a salad bar and dessert bar. Many days for breakfast we ordered room service, which is available 24 hours a day. Other days we went to the breakfast buffet. There were omelet stations, pastry stations, fruit bar, and many other breakfast items. For lunch there is a grill outside on the Lido deck, a buffet inside, a Mongolian BBQ, a burrito bar, sandwich bar, plus the 24 hour pizzeria and ice cream. There are waiters walking around selling drinks anytime of the day.
Excursions: We went to Half Moon Cay, Carnival's private island in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. An extended review of these ports of call is included in the port reviews section.
Disembarkation: There are two options to disembark the ship. We chose the option that allowed us to take off our own baggage. This way, we did not need to have our luggage ready the night before and we did not have to wait in line the morning we disembarked. We were assigned a number based on our deck and they called ours at around 7:30AM. We took our own luggage off, went through customs, and were outside getting in a cab by 8:10AM. We chose to stay in Miami for a few days after the cruise. We took a cab to the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort in North Miami Beach. It was about a 40 minute ride. The resort was right on the ocean and had many activities and lots of areas to relax after our wonderful cruise. Carnival delivers your sail and sign bill to your room the morning you leave. This was nice because you know exactly what you had spent before you left the boat.
Overall: This cruise vacation was a wonderful time! It let us explore many areas that would be hard to go to on one trip. The vacation is very easy because everything is included. You don't have to worry about making arrangements for your entertainment or meals. The Carnival staff makes every effort to make each vacation the best it can be.
Things to remember: A surge protector (there are very few plugs in the room), get to the port early, lots of sunscreen, ask if you need something, read the Carnival Caper to find out about the day's activities, bring a sweater (the dining room and show areas are very chilly)
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas Carnival's private island.
our favorite port of call on our cruise. The Liberty dropped anchor off
the coast of Half Moon Cay and tendered guests to the island on three
tender boats. We rented a cabana for the day on Half Moon Cay. This
allowed us to be in the first group to be tendered to the island. If
you do not have a shore excursion, which guarantees an early tender,
you must arrive to the tender ticket area early. The cabana was a great
way to spend the day! This excursion CAN NOT be ordered on line. It
must be done once you are on the ship. There are only 15 and they were
all rented the day we were there. With the cabana you get a small
"house" right on the beach. It comes with a fan, air conditioner, table
and chairs, two chaise lounges, refrigerator, snorkel gear for your
entire party, swim mats, chips and salsa, fruit tray, veggie tray, and
a cooler with water and sodas. The total cost was $225. Carnival
provides lunch on the island in a large shelter. It is an easy walk
from the beach to lunch. The water was crystal clear and the beach was
large. If you do not rent a cabana, there are lounge chairs, hammocks,
and a beach area with music and activities.