I wasn't sure exactly what to expect for my first cruise, I had been given lots of advice from friends who had cruised with Carnival and other cruise lines in the past. I must say that Carnival far exceeded my expectations.
Our room steward, Richard, was great - it's amazing how much of a mess you can make in a couple of hours so he and the rest of the stewards definitely work hard. He also answered some questions for us when we saw him during the week.
Cabin was a great location for access to Emile's restaurant and the aft
pool, water-slide area. It's also mid-ship so there really wasn't that
much movement. However, the balcony is underneath the Emile's
restaurant overhang so you won't be able to sunbathe out there. We
didn't find it very noisy with the exception of the deck party that was
had mid way through the cruise. They had the whole ship separated into
teams (red, white and blue) and at one point they had each team
stomping and making noise which make the cabin very loud. We're both
night owls though so it didn't bother us at all.
Our dining room experience was great as well. We were at a table for 6 with another couple of ladies in the Golden dining room. There was another single guy also assigned to our table but he chose to eat with some new friends for most of the nights on board. Our head waiter was Insan, although everyone calls him Sonny and his assistant was Anthony. They were both great fun and once Sonny knew that we all loved our chocolate he pretty much knew what we'd all order for dessert each night (Anything chocolate, and our favourite was the warm chocolate melting cake!). Also, one of the other ladies at the table asked for lemonade the first night and Anthony always filled a glass for each every other night without her having to ask for the rest of the nights.
I don't drink alcohol so I purchased the fountain card on the first day. Our beverage server in the dining room, Piyada knew that I wanted a diet pop after the first night so I didn't have to ask after the first night. She would still double check that I wanted one before she brought it out though. I will say however, that if you want a non-alcoholic drink while your lounging out by the pool it would probably be faster if you got up and went to the bar yourself. I ordered a pop once and waited almost 20 minutes for it one day while I watched the server go back and forth from another lady 3 times bringing her what looked like an alcoholic beverage before I received mine. Also, on the last sea day my Mom ordered a large bottle of water from a server and it never arrived at all. Unfortunately she didn't remember which one she had ordered from so we ended up ordering different drinks from someone else after a half hour.
I also found the food in Emile's lido restaurant to be great as well, however I am not a picky eater. I would highly recommend getting an omelet at least once during the week and definitely check out the Mongolian station at lunch as well. The Deli and Burrito stations are also not to be missed.
Our first port was Half Moon Cay, Bahamas which is a private island
which is leased by Carnival. This is a tender port so be prepared for a
bit of a wait to get on and off the island. There are 3 tender boats
with a total capacity of 600 passengers and our cruise had 3400
passengers on board. There is only one way through the barrier reef
surrounding the island so that means only one tender can come in and go
out at a time which also slows the process down a bit. However, I must
say that the crew of the Liberty has the process down to a science.
When you are ready to go ashore all you need to do is go to the theatre
and receive your tender number. But don't go until you have everything
you want to take with you as well as your entire group. The crew will
seat you in one area of the theatre where you wait until your tender is
ready. If you wait until peak time to leave the ship be prepared for a
45 minute wait. I'm sure we waited close to 30 minutes but it didn't
seem that long. On the trip to the island we were given a bit more
information about the island - only 30 people live on it, and if you
miss the last tender back you might be # 31 :)
Once on the island there are plenty of loungers to go around or you can
rent a clam-shell for shade, or a tube to float in the ocean. There are
also cabana's which you can rent if you like.
We were the only ship in port that day which is probably by design by
Carnival. The ship tenders all sorts of food and staff to the island
for the day so there is a buffet for you while on shore. There is a
small area to shop for souvenirs like baskets, T shirts, hats, towels
etc. It's very hot so I'd recommend buying one of the big bottles of
water from the ship or bring a bottle that you can fill with lemonade
from the buffet area.