We traveled with a group of 27. Arrived one day prior to cruise and stayed at the La Quinta Miami Airport East. This was our second stay here. Used the Airport Shuttle which takes about 20 minutes for it to arrive so be patient.
Front Desk check-in was easy, polite, efficient. At check-in you must ask to be put on the free pier shuttle to the port for the next morning. We arrived at 1:30pm and had to be placed at a later shuttle time of 12 noon. Space fills up fast. Rooms were clean and comfortable. Used pool area to relax and there is airplane noise but we expected that with location. It did not bother us. Went for lunch at the Bennigan's near property which was good. One family in our group had rented a van so for dinner we went to a nearby restaurant called the Latin Cafe. This was our second time here also. Food is good. Nearby is a shopping center for incidentals like pop. K-Mart and Winn Dixie are located here with a liquor store one block away. Next day we used Continental Breakfast buffet and there was plenty of cereals, breads, juices, hot beverages, and make-your-own waffles. The front desk was very accommodating leaving stapler and tape available for attaching cruise tags to luggage. Pier shuttle bus arrived on time and took us to the Liberty. Tipped the shuttle driver and then pier porters and off to the ship for embarkation.
At approx. 12:30pm we were in line for check in. It took about 1/2 hr. to get thru the first screening process. Alot of alcohol was confiscated at this point. Make sure you have your liquids (pop, water, 1 bottle wine(21 yrs old)
in separate bag. They will ask whose bag it is. All adults had their wine separated from spouse so that it did not look like more than 1 bottle per adult. We used Kiosks to swipe passports and then went to another area line for Sail & Sign cards. That took another 35 minutes. Finally to the escalator up to pictures and then walkway to ship. Getting to ship earlier would have avoided the longer lines we experienced, but we utilized the free amenities of the hotel ( free airport shuttle/free pier shuttle/free breakfast).
I did not see shore excursion desk at check-in area. After boarding we went straight to shore excursion line to pick out Cabana's we pre-ordered online for Half Moon Cay. We had 5 Cabana's reserved. This took approx. 30 minutes.
The rest of the group went straight to staterooms ( it was after 1:30) to drop off carry ons and then to Lido for lunch.
Muster drill went quickly and then to Sail Away on deck. We were delayed in leaving port for about 40 minutes. Had Early dining in Silver Olympian.
We had great service all week with very good meals. A Few in our group had Late dining in Golden but their service was not good. They did enjoy their meals and said food was delicious and cooked to their liking.
First night after dinner we went to Venetian Palace for show. The show was late in starting by 15-20 min when the Captain came on the ships intercom and informed us that we were heading back to Miami b/c of a medical emergency with a passenger. He also told us that b/c of this we would miss Half Moon Cay. There was dead silence in that room. We were all in shock. I love the way that they said we would be having a "Fun Day at Sea". Many people booked the cruise just for that port. They were so disappointed. I tried to put myself in the position of the family that this emergency occurred in and have some empathy for them. I am sure Carnival lost $$$ big time by having to go back and missing all the shore excursion revenue. It was unavoidable. We made the best out of the situation presented to us. I did not see any crazy riots or mob action that I have read about when things like this happen aboard a ship.
The cruise director later in the week said they did appreciate how people reacted to the missed port. The cruise line refunded all shore excursion fee's and $18 p/person port tax to accounts.
On our Second Sea Day it was a little choppy. Apparently a crew member had an accident cleaning the pool and needed medical attention. The Captain got on the intercom again and told us they would be making an unscheduled stop near
Grand Turk to let the crew member off. He said it would not affect our itinerary or times in ports. They did give us 2 extra hours in St. Thomas and 1/2 hr in Grand Turk. Did wine tasting at Harry's Steakhouse. Very fun and I really do not drink wine!
Every time we heard the ships chime, we all got nervous about another medical emergency!! However we pretty much had smooth sailing the rest of the cruise.
Weather was gorgeous and ship was very nice. Our room steward was very good and we really did not see him very much. I found all the staff to be cheerful and polite. We had a great time on board. Cruise director Todd and his staff were fun and not obnoxious.
Entertainment: Generally good except be careful with Comedy Club The "R" rated shows were more like "X".
If you enjoy details about genitals and oral sex please go to the late night comedy shows. Better yet send your teenagers.
Ports: St. Thomas - we took water taxi to Water Island then returned to shop downtown. One family snorkeled at Coki Beach and one family chartered a captain with boat to sail around and snorkel. Sat at port bar and enjoyed late stay in ST. Missed Early dining and ate late at Lido Buffet. Loved the extra time in port.
San Juan - we did free walking tour and shopped at Coach outlet. Wow what better bargains than the states. Also stopped at Don Q museum and took ferry to Bacardi Rum Factory. Did a lot of walking so good shoes a must. One family did zip lining and enjoyed.
Grand Turk - water was fabulous. We rented Golf carts from Nathan (see GT boards) and had a blast touring the island. Stopped at several beaches, and sites. Went back to Margarita ville later in afternoon to swim and shop at pier complex. Last ones to go back on ship!
Last day at sea was relaxing. Loved the Liberty and staff. Would do Carnival again.