This was our 6th cruise, all with Carnival. We're a family of four (2 boys, 12 & 8). We also traveled with my mother and father.
Itinerary: Definitely one of the main reasons we booked this cruise.
Half Moon Cay: We'd never been here. We enjoyed it as a beach day. Beautiful island. The water was a little cool but that didn't bother the kids! We loved the island lunch. We thought we'd be in line forever but we walked right through. Finding a table to sit was a little bit of a challenge, but not bad at all. Our youngest son was fascinated by the chickens on the island. One of the wait staff tried to help him feed the chickens. She remembered him on board after that. She would ask about him when he ate with Camp Carnival.
St. Thomas: We booked a Carnival excursion - the island tour of St. John. This was much like any island tour. We could have saved some money and gone on our own. But we wanted to tour the island and it was nice to just get off the Liberty and walk to the ferry just off her bow. Great tour, beautiful island. Would love to go back!
San Juan: We had a lazy day walking around San Juan, more or less just window shopping. We've been there before so we had no big plans.
Grand Turk: We arrived in Grand Turk in the rain. It had rained most of the morning. We didn't rush off the ship. We walked off about 30 minutes after docking. The rain stopped almost immediately and we found a spot on the beach very near the pier. Another beach day. Love that island.
Hotel/Shuttle: We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn by the airport. We had a shuttle ride and a night at a fairly nice hotel with a good breakfast for the price of parking at the Port of Miami. The shuttle ride was about 15 minutes. They were about 10 minutes late picking us up, but not a big issue. You have to arrange the return shuttle. He gave us a card to call when the ship pulled into port when we return. $12 per person for the return trip. We called while we at breakfast and they were waiting when we got off the ship.
Embarkation: Very smooth. We arrived a little after 11AM and we were on board in less than 30 minutes. Couldn't have gone any better.
Ship/Decor: We love the Conquest class ships. We like the layout. (Just a preference.) The decor - we really loved the color-changing lights you'll see in the atrium and the promenade. Beyond that, it was fairly unremarkable. None of us are terribly picky and we have no complaints. Nothing really stood out to us though.
Cabin: Lido interior cabin. First time on Lido and we LOVED it. It was so convenient and NO noise. Our steward was Zoran - VERY nice. He did a great job. Only one minor complaint. There were 4 of us in the cabin: myself, my husband, and our two boys. The two boys slept in the drop-down beds. We've always asked the room steward to move the two beds together to form a king. We didn't see Zoran the first day so we moved them ourselves. When we met him the next morning, we asked if he can make the bed with the king linens. He said he could but that would prevent him from properly making the upper bunks. We told him that was fine. That was just the first time we'd encountered that. Not a big issue at all. He did try to make the uppers as best he could. Zoran was always so friendly and always went out of the way to say hi with a genuine smile.
Dining Room: We tried Your Time Dining for the first time. We now prefer it. It was nice to dine when you want. We ate in the dining room a majority of the nights for dinner. Every night but the last, they asked us if we had a preference on the wait staff. We had Vladimir a few nights, Heath one night. Both were fantastic but drastically different styles. And we had Antonio on the last night. He was different but no problems at all. What was interesting was that all of the wait staff remembered us, even not having sat in their area every night. Food was very good. Absolutely no complaints.
Lido Food: The same as any Carnival ship. I've read alot about the temperature of the food. We did not see any of these problems. We ate most lunches there and maybe 2 dinners there. The lines were never terribly bad. Breakfast was really the only time we had lines and even then, the wait was almost non-existent. Deli was fantastic. Didn't try the burrito bar but that seemed quite popular. Pizza - I've always thought the pizza on Carnival was ok. I really loved the pizza on Liberty. The complaint - they always seemed to be out of plates, trays, or both. That seemed to be an issue all week and I don't remember ever seeing that on any previous cruise.
Service: Anywhere on the ship, we had no problems. The staff was efficient but there just seemed like something was missing. Again - NO problems. And we're not picky or difficult people. There just seemed to be a robotic nature to most. I will say - the casino bar staff was great. They seemed to really enjoy their job - having fun with the guests and whatever band/musician was playing there. That was a fun environment.
Entertainment: This is one area where I felt it fell short of expectations. The schedule of events seemed quite different from our other cruises. It seemed like some of the normal items were missing. The production shows were quite good. We attend those and enjoy them but they're just not what we go cruising for. We typically enjoy the cornier shows, i.e. the Newlywed Game, , Battle of the Sexes, Liars Club, etc. The Liars Club was a great example of where they fell short. The game show seemed to take a backseat to the entertainment staff telling inside jokes to each other. Sea Feud (another show that plays off Family Feud) was horrible. Again, the whole 30 minutes was spent with the hostess and the tech guy behind the curtain goofing off with each other. I know it's a cruise and who cares about the "competition". But it was just terribly unprofessional. In MANY shows, we were repeatedly told how this staff is learning to work together as they were just coming aboard the Liberty from other ships. (This is one of those things where you had to be there. I don't look for professionalism, per se, but everything seemed poorly executed. I would probably expect more from a high school talent show.)
On the positive side - we really enjoyed the band Blood Power. Good music and just a great atmosphere. They are a bit unorthodox but alot of fun.
Camp Carnival - Our 8 year old typically loves Camp Carnival. I was a little worried as he's about to turn 9 (which is the next group up). But he loved it. We loved having the babysitting option so we can enjoy the night. We'd pick him up typically around 11 or 11:30. He was always disappointed to leave. Our oldest son (12) had his first shot at Circle C. He's never been a fan of Camp Carnival but really enjoyed Circle C. He loved the freedom he had and the activities. There were 10 or 15 kids there and they all seemed to have a blast (when we were spying on them to ensure he wasn't abusing his privilege).
Fellow passengers - I have been a big critic of fellow passengers on previous cruises. I must say, most everyone acted properly. I am by no means one to police dress code or things like that. But we never saw any obnoxious/rude passengers. (There was actually one drunk FOOL at a comedy show. I can only hope he remembers what a fool the comic made of him.) No kids tying up the elevators.
Will I cruise Carnival again? Certainly. And while I don't have any major complaints, this cruise was just lacking the WOW factor. On all of our previous cruises, we always encountered something that just blew us away, whether it was the genuine kindness of the staff or something remarkable about the ship. This cruise rates at just average, which isn't so bad, right?