Day one, 13 Nov 2010. Awoke to the sound of the alarm at 5 am and began packing the car. 30 minutes later, we are on our way. Driving from Orlando to Miami takes just over 3 hours, so a stop at Cracker Barrel for breakfast is not only timely, it is necessary. We arrived at the port just before 10. Dropped off bags and GF and parked the car. We did not have to wait to enter the terminal. Going through security, I got my case of soda through without question. My GF had 3 bottles of wine, the security guard told her that she was only allowed to take 2, but let her take the third this time. So no problems there. We boarded and had lunch, a few drinks and waited for our cabin to be ready. Once it was, we went in and was greeted with the worst smell of cigarette smoke! Obviously, someone had been smoking in there and it reeked! My GF stated that she would NOT stay in there. We met our cabin steward. He was just the best. Always greeting us by name and asking how we were doing and if we needed anything. We told him about the smell and he said he would take care of it. He told us he would have to put an O2 machine in the room and asked us not to enter for about an hour. Not a problem! An hour later, we could not smell the cigarette smoke at all.
We set sail on time and our bags arrived without problem. We sailed on the Valor last April and had cabin 1205. When we booked the Liberty, we saw that 1205 was available, so we booked it! It was nice knowing exactly where our cabin was and what to expect. We had anytime seating for dinner and the first night decided to eat with others. Who knew we would meet the couple from hell? They were on their 39th cruise, the 9th this year and they went to great pains to let everyone know that their "perks" were so much more than ours. After that encounter, we chose to eat at tables for 2. One night we did see the obnoxious couple and another couple that was about to be seated with them balked, saying they did not want to do that again either. We did sit near them a few other times and chuckled every time we heard the story of how many cruises they have been on and their precious "perks."
Day two, Nassau, Bahamas. We took the Catamaran Reef Snorkel & Beach Day excursion for $50 each. We were told up front that there had been storms the previous few days and the beach was beaten up pretty badly. Therefore we would not be going to the beach, but we would snorkel for an extended time to make up for that. We boarded the largest catamaran I have ever seen, 91 feet long by 41 feet wide! We were off to the snorkel site. Visibility was not the best, but the fish were plentiful with the usual suspects in full view. We snorkeled for awhile and when it was time to leave, we were served some of the best rum punch I have ever drank. I believe I had 7 of those, but the last part of the trip is a bit blurry.
Day three, Sea day. Found seclusion on deck 3! Watched the flying fish and relaxed with drinks all day, stopping long enough to eat.
Day four, St. Thomas. At approximately 5 am I heard an announcement over the PA calling for a "Bright Star" alert with a code number. I had no idea what that meant, but have since learned that it is a medical emergency call. When we docked at St. Thomas, the ships clearance was delayed for about an hour. The captain announced that there had been a death on board the night before and the local authorities were conducting their investigation into it. Since then I have heard that a young woman was murdered and or passed out, hitting her head as she fell. Some passengers reported FBI agents were processing her cabin as a crime scene and others stated that they saw a young man being led off the ship in handcuffs. Who knows what the real story is? Maybe we will find out, maybe not, but I feel bad for the poor woman and her family.
Anyway, more snorkeling, we took the Castaway Barefoot Sail & Snorkel to Shipwreck Cove for $60 each. This trip was better than in the Bahamas. The catamaran was much smaller and quite crowded. The snorkeling was led by a member of the crew. He pointed out various fish and other sea life. The visibility was very good and there was plenty to see. The rum punch was also plentiful on the way back, but was not as tasty as that we had in the Bahamas.
Day Five, San Juan Puerto Rico. We took the Old San Juan Sunset Walking Tour for $30 each. This was a very relaxing walk around Old San Juan with a very knowledgeable tour guide. We saw and learned much about the old city from the time of discovery through to the present day. The fort was quite interesting and a must see for everyone. After the tour we had time for mojitos in a local bar and a bit of shopping.
Day six, Grand Turk. Since I am a scuba diver and my GF is not, she took advantage of the beach chairs and the beach while I did the Certified Scuba trip for $120. I have been diving for over a decade and have been diving all over the Caribbean before and I have NEVER seen anyone as thorough as these guys when it came to the waivers. They double checked everyone's "C" cards and went over every line of every waiver. Since my NAUI card does not have my picture on it, they wanted a picture ID. Something I have never had happen before, even in the US. While it might sound as though I am complaining, I am not. I have seen so many "vacation" divers who either only dive while on vacation, or got their certification just for their cruise. Anyway, the dive sites we hit were decent. Nothing like those found in the Western Caribbean, but there were plenty of fish and the visibility was very good. The one thing that did bother me was that these guys did not have fresh fruit or sodas on board for the surface interval. They did have plenty of bottled water though. One thing that did bother me was that after the second dive, instead of taking us back to the ship right away, they stopped at their dive shop first in order to allow us to buy sodas and T-shirts if we wanted them. I opted to bail on that and decided to just walk back to the ship from there. Several others decided to join me.
Day Seven, Sea Day. Rainy and rough day. I spent most of the day on deck three drinking rum and cokes while my girlfriend spent most of the day at the Blackjack table winning most of our cost for the trip back. She did manage to win about half of the cost of the cruise back, so that was a plus! We bought the future cruise certificate and will be planning our next cruise as soon as I can save up enough money to go.
Day Eight, Disembarkation. We were in group 20 and after our last breakfast in the MDR, we went to the Lido deck to await being called. When we were called, we caught an elevator to deck 3, were off the ship in just a few minutes, walked to the baggage claim and viola, our bags were right there! 3 minutes later, we were through customs and packing our bags in the car and off back home!
The food was quite good in the MDR. I was disappointed that the menu was exactly the same as on the Valor, I guess it is fleet wide. The Fish and Chips station was my favorite as they served oysters with the most incredible taste! Carnival still makes the best cheeseburgers in the known world and I ate my fair share of those as well! The sushi is not to be missed either! We avoided the circus of the Lido buffet and ate all breakfasts in the MDR.
We did not see a single show as they just don't appeal to us and we skipped the returning guest party as well.
Overall we had an AWESOME time! Our cabin steward was simply the best! He greeted us by name every time he saw us and he was more than efficient. I was glad to take care of him when we said goodbye.