On balance, the Carnival Liberty exceeded my expectations. Considering the price for a balcony cabin on deck 9 it was a good deal.
Best of the Liberty: 1. Dining room staff and hostesses. They were great and both professional and at the same time a lot of fun. Food in the dining rooms was good to very good. Breakfast seemed to get old with the same thing every morning but, what can you do with a breakfast? Lunch was always good with several nice starters and main course offerings. The dinners were also very good. Lobster one formal night and escarot another formal night. The indian vegetarian main course offering was especially good so, if you like Indian food by all means order it. Utilized the anytime dining option and found it to be as advertised. Virtually no wait if you go earlier or later and then only a few minutes wait if you go during peak times 7-8:30. If you sweet talk the hostess ladies they will usually find a table for two if you wish to dine as a couple. Our best to our waiters Valentine and I Made as they were very good and, we asked for them every evening and at lunch as well.
2. Balcony cabin was larger and laid out better than I thought it might be. The terry robes were appreciated and the room steward (Pedro) was very good and gave us extra ice every day. Again, for the price, a very good deal.
3. Overall condition of the ship. Very clean and well kept. Althought five years old now, the Liberty is not showing signs of her age.
Not the best of Liberty: 1. Cabin noise is pretty bad. There is an almost constant slamming of doors that sound like bombs going off and even shake the cabin walls. Not sure why this is so bad on the Liberty. Lots of hallway noises as well. Some of this may be due to the level of passengers on this cruise. Frankly, the Liberty crew and staff were of a higher caliber than many of the passengers. But, it was a cheap cruise and almost anyone could afford to go so, what should I expect. But, the noise became quite bothersome.
2. We ate at Harry's Steakhouse one night and found it to be only ok. We each had good (bad for you?) red meat. I had the special for that night only - ribeye steak and the spouse had the prime rib. Both were ok but, only ok. Lots of fat on the edges of both cuts of meat. The sides were good and the desert was very good. Prices for a bottle of wine were not out of line. I found the ambiance of Harry's to be less than elegant but, the service was quite good.
3. Drink prices are shameful with a beer costing $6-7 each including the required 15% gratuity. We would have two beers for lunch and the check would be $14. I had a martini one night in the casino bar and asked for the bar brand vodka over the rocks and it cost $9. Way too much for this type of drink. I think the cruise industry buys their liquor outside of the U.S. so they do not pay excises taxes and they must make a tidy profit on the drinks. Though, once we saw the prices, we cut way back on the drinking so they did not make out so well in our case. The ery good news is that Carnival does allow the passengers to bring two bottles of unopened wine on board that you can keep in your cabin. This is nice as most other cruise lines either do not allow wine of any kind or, they charge a corkage fee that can be steep.
4. The Lido deck cafeteria was absurdly busy and noisy. We attempted to eat breakfast there one morning and it was not a good experience. If you like cafeteria settings then this is the place for you.
Carnival does a good job considering the price. If you want to stay away from a lot of kids then go while school is in session. I understand that the summer and holiday cruises are loaded with youngsters that can be noisy as heck.
Getting on and off of the ship was as good as it gets. Very easy and well controlled. Some of the other cruise lines could learn something from Carnival on this subject.