We just returned from a Thanksgiving Cruise on the Carnival Liberty. This was my 15th cruise and our second "group" cruise with them in 2 years. We had 24 people ranging in age from 9 to 85 in our group. Our last experience on the Carnival Valor was exceptional for all food & we decided on Carnival again due to that fact & they gave us a great rate for the Thanksgiving cruise we were looking for.
FOOD : For BREAKFAST we wanted room service. We requested it arrive between 8 and 8:15am. It was at least 1/2 hour late the first 2 days. Not knowing if it would arrive, I sent my husband to the Lido deck to get a few items. When room service came, the coffee was cold. We decided to ask for it around 7:30 - 7:45. Guess what....it still came at 8:30am. Frustrated by day 4 we went to the buffet.
LUNCH : We LOVE the Deli and the Burrito stand. Between those two and the Lido grill, we never used the regular buffet. Lunch was the only excellent food on the ship.
DINNER : Very, very disappointed in the food quality in the dining room. On the Valor, each meal was mouthwatering & delicious....some of the best food I have ever had at sea. The Liberty was not even close. Each day my food was overcooked. A "medium" steak would be well done...no pink at all. When I tried the Prime Rib Medium - it too was well done. The other foods - fish, pasta dishes - were just OK, nothing to be excited about or that I could not get at a half decent restaurant. The highlight was the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream. Sad to say that dessert was a highlight of what I hoped would be an excellent dining experience each evening.
SERVICE : Our Cabin Stewart was Chris. He introduced himself on the first day & remembered my name & always asked if I needed anything. He did a very good job considering he said he had 22 cabins with first seating dinner. Typically your beds are turned down and a towel animal is in your room after dinner, but with his work load, ours was not done until after the show. Not an issue for me, but it's a small aspect of maybe Carnival should have more staff & not overload some of these guys.
WAIT STAFF AT DINNER : Our waiter was definitely sub-standard. He often forgot parts (or even all)of a meal. We had a table of 12 and each night he forgot at least one persons salad, appetizer, or whole dinner. He would also get at least one wrong each evening. My husband would ask for 2 dinners & he would bring BOTH at the same time. One would be cold by the time he was ready to eat it. By evening 3, he asked he bring one, then the other to keep the food warm. Then the second meal would not come. When we were ordering dessert, he would ask if the other meal was coming & it would....right along with dessert. Between that & the quality of food being somewhat unsatisfactory, it made for a disappointing event. Our bar waiter and bread server, on the other hand, were very good and attentive.
OTHER STAFF : I can not say enough praise about Tommy the bartender and Orlando, one of the bar wait staff. Tommy has been with Carnival for 20+ years and WOW - what service. He knew my kids & made sure they always had a full drink (soda) when they came close to his bar. He made them paper and napkin animals & puppets. Great, great guy!!! Also, Orlando never let our beer have a chance of getting warm. He would bring us buckets of ice - even when we ordered from someone else. He was very, very attentive to the adults in our group (and kids when they were with us) and did a great job.
EXCURSIONS : I planned private tours on each of the islands. On Cozumel we did a snorkeling trip and I chartered a boat from the dive shop my husband and I use. It is cheaper with a group to do that than anything Carnival has to offer. Better service for a better price. In Grand Cayman, we got off the boat & found someone to take us to 7 mile beach. It cost $7.00 per person round trip. We rented beach chairs at the beach & there was a bar. Beer prices were the same as the ship...approx $5.50 USD. In Ocho Rios we booked with Yardie tours after reading their reviews on Trip advisor. We did the river tubing and Dunns River Falls. We had a private Catamaran take us to the Falls and a private bus for the drive to the River Tubing. Everyone had a great time & it was well worth the price.
ENTERTAINMENT : I am not into the singing and dancing by the Carnival entertainment group & I feel it is all the same after a while, but many people in our group did enjoy at least a couple of the shows. The had lots of comedians in lounges at night which we enjoyed the "R" shows.
One other thing I want to mention. Maybe it's the PRICE that attracted a "different" crowd, but I had never seen so many class-less people on a ship. People were very sloppily dresses in the dining rooms, shorts on Formal nights, big, baggy pants, low pants with underwear showing, etc. There seemed to be a large concentration of such on this ship. I can't put it to anything except what attracted our group - the low price - but it was very disturbing to me. We even had an incident with someone in the casino at a blackjack table. As always, they guys were gambling in the evening & this guy did not like a couple of the guys winning. He started complaining and even shoved my brother in law. The dealer had the pit boss come over & this guy was ejected from the casino only to return 10 minutes later to another table. When our guys left the casino, he and another guy game over and THREATENED my brother in law. Security again was called. We had never encountered people like this before on a cruise. It was not an isolated incident from what I understand. I heard other people complaining about the clientele on this cruise. It makes me wonder if I should return to Carnival. Perhaps I need to go back to RCCL.
In conclusion, our group had a great time on the islands, we had fun on the ship, but several aspects left a bad feeling with us. On the other hand, some people were great & I wish they were on every cruise that I take. If I could combine the best of the Valor & the best of the Liberty......I would be in cruising heaven. Oh well!!