Carnival Liberty 3/19/11
We are just off the Liberty and had a great cruise!
I'll start with a couple of things. First, thanks to all who post on Cruise Critic. Your inputs, be it good, bad, highs, lows, thin or flush saved us time and money which means a better cruise vacation all around. Thanks to all who give their inputs and opinions here.
Unfortunately this cruise was marred by tragedy. We had two medical evacuations and a rumored third. Several from the roll call had to cancel for some very sad situations as well. Our first evac happened five hours out of Miami. We had to travel back to disembark a very ill passenger. Our second evac required us to divert to Grand Turk on the way to St. Thomas for an ill crew member. We also heard someone was taken off on a stretcher as the ship was leaving San Juan. Without any first hand knowledge of any of these events, I won't begin to speculate. We just hope everyone is well.
Ok, now some background. Before you get ill from the Carnival cheerleading, we have yet to have a bad cruise. This was number six on Carnival. My girlfriend (at the time) and I spent our first get away vacation together on the Imagination. We got engaged on our balcony on the Valor the following year. To be followed the next year by a wedding in St. Thomas on the Glory. This was our fifth anniversary and we booked almost a year ago. Carnival has not only been a great vacation option, but they have also been a huge part of our personal lives.
The getting there: Captain Ding Dong from the SS "Sure we can leave Maine at 8:00am on the day of the cruise, and get to Miami at 1:50 for a 4:00 pm cruise". Not sure what I was thinking. But up here all planes are full, so it's a crap shoot on picking a storm free day. That being said, I tried to move our flights ($$$$$) and then just watched the forecast. The morning of the cruise the weather channel said clear skies. As I put the luggage in the car it was raining???? Halfway to the airport it turned to snow. Through security with 1.5 hours to wait, and the snow kept coming. A half hour delay to de-ice and we took off. Tens minutes late to Charlotte. We make it from B to C, hit the restroom, get a Nathan's dog, take the last bite, time to board. We land in Miami at 1:45, meet the Carnival transfer lady and wait for some late arrivals. We don't leave the airport until 2:40. Get to the port at 3:05 and a Carnival employee was patiently waiting for the bus drivers envelope to complete the manifest. We fill out our health survey. No, we are not sick, and Yes we are not lying! Hit the passport check in kiosk, get our sail and signs, and then the sound we have been waiting to hear......smile for the camera........."PLINK". We made it. There were still 50 -100 checking in after 3:15. This info provided for future cruisers by Capt. DD.
The Ship: We thought the Liberty was quite beautiful. Being a guy, stone work, marble, sort of wrought iron, shiny things, what's not to like. Conquest class, very familiar to the Valor and Glory. We had cabin 8292, Verandah deck, port side, but below Lido deck cabins. Very quiet floor. No hootin' and hollerin' (except for me). The cabin was clean, not too worn. Only a few issues. The balcony could have used a hosing down, and the chairs could be replaced. The seas were a little rough, so they did clean the balcony glass twice during the cruise. Also if you didn't let the balcony door slam on it's own it wouldn't latch. I learned this at 2:00am on the first night when I couldn't figure out what the whistling noise was. Also, the cabin walls seemed a little more creaky than I remembered. With choppy seas there was a lot of creaking, cracking, clicking and popping. And the toilet. Half of the time after you push the button it wouldn't flush. Then a minute or two later it would and then flush again. Maybe it knew it needed a courtesy flush. If so, it was brilliant. We got a good chuckle out of that all week. The rest of the ship was in great shape for a six year old boat. As with the other ships you could spend a month on them and still miss dEcor details.
Half Moon Cay: This port was missed due to the return to Miami. We were credited $18 each, and reimbursed for our excursion. We did not miss this. We have been there before.
We just hope the Pax is ok. So, an extra Fun Day at Sea.
St. Thomas: Carnival's Ultimate Island Experience. We've been here before, so this time we opted for a ride to Magen's Bay. The trip takes you to the look out spots over the bay and the beach. Then two hours at the beach, followed by a trip to Blackbeard's Castle. You then walk to the shore and take the Lady Virginia back to the dock. We always love the photo op of Charlotte Amalie. The beach was beautiful. But you are a captive audience. Five bucks for a chair, 9 bucks for a cheeseburger. You get the idea. The Blackbeard's thing was cool. You walk through the property, down paths to other older properties and shopping opportunities, and then you're done. It must be funny for a European to take this tour. The old relics are from the 1880's.
San Juan: We did a self guided walking tour to San Cristobal and then El Morro. These forts were built in the 1700's and have some WWII additions from the US. An amazingly huge wall that stretches three miles. The forts go on forever. It was very cool. It took about 4 hours. This was the one time I said "I don't need sun screen". Dope had one red neck after this. We hit Senior Frogs for lunch and one of them tankards of beer. We hit a sidewalk vendor and my wife bought a Coach purse for $20! Great day in San Juan.
Grand Turk: Second time we were here. Better circumstances this time though. We did the Ultimate Snorkeling. I have been promising my wife for the last three cruises we would snorkel. She took me up on it. You go out to two small reefs for a half hour each and snorkel. The sea was a little choppy, and I am not a great swimmer, so I passed on the second half hour. My little mermaid was one of the last back to the boat. I had a good time, she loved it!
Fun Days at Sea: Or what I like to call "No place to sit, yet 200 or so Carnival towels have a comfortable view of the Lido deck". Not a big deal. Living in the Northeast, an hour or two in the sun and I am fried. There were chairs on the Funnel deck. You just had to live with the 60 mph winds. Not sure if we got sunburned or windburned. But it was relaxing. And I was topless! Due to the winds, the deck chairs on the upper decks stayed strapped down, but there were used balcony chairs up there. I did wonder though, who thought it was a good idea to put mini golf on the highest part of the ship. I almost got a hole in zero when I set my ball down and the wind just missed blowing it into the hole. This was so ridiculous it was fun. There were plenty of the typical Lido deck things going on. Hairy chest, horse race thing, etc. The crew had to scramble to fill the added FDaS. And many also missed a day off. They took it in stride and did a great job. We also have two Funtime editions for the same day. I did feel the ship was not big enough to handle all the people on the outer decks on the sea days. It felt a little crowded.
The Food: We did not have a bad meal. We are not big breakfast eaters, but did hit the buffet for some eggs a couple of times. For lunch it was a salad or a cheeseburger. It was always warm and tasty. And the lines were never long. The dining room we did every night. Nice selection and delicious. No complaints there. We did Harry's for our anniversary and were not disappointed. I had the porterhouse and couldn't finish it.
The Staff: Todd Wittmer did a fine job as the CD. He has a morning show that's informative. As well as his info shows during the week. Roy and his accomplice in excellence were always on top of keeping the cabin tip top. Eduardo, Marco, and Mulyadi served us every night at dinner with speed, courtesy, and deliciousness. Setyo delivered our wine every night. And the two young ladies at the Jardin Cafe' were awesome. The rest of the crew were courteous and efficient. Even the staff that cleaned the ship were smiling. And telling the kids to not run. I hadn't seen that before.
The Entertainment: We typically try to relax and only stick to the port schedules. With late seating we tend to meander around the ship after dinner and peak into each show. That being said, the comedy shows were good, but always packed. The karaoke was entertaining. The Sammy Davis/Sinatra tribute in the Venetian Palace was very good. There was a couple in the Atrium bar that must have known 1000 songs. They did every genre and well. The Piano bar was a little mellow. The Promenade performers were typical. Always something going on.
Guest services: We ordered a bottle of vodka and a bottle of wine from Bon voyage. They were waiting for us. Roy kept it iced until it was gone. Luggage express. Do it! We gave our flight info on Wednesday. On Friday we got our boarding passes and airline bag tags.
Debark night you set out your bags and pick then up at your final destination. So, we got off the bus at MIA and walked straight to security. Amazingly fast. They charge $20 pp, and your airlines luggage fees to your S+S. A great service. Also, the bag tags they give get changed to regular tags at the airport. So, if the they don't have your final destination on the tag itself, don't worry.
The Pax: Same as everywhere. Old, young, good, bad, big, little, happy, sad, elated, pissed, mobile, not so mobile, kind, considerate, rude and oblivious. But all well behaved. A very good mix of folks.
Epilogue: This was a great cruise for us. After the planning, effort, and expense it all went pretty flawlessly. We recharged and relaxed. We loved the Liberty. Carnival also did well to take care of us. We got the past guest invites. ( I siesta'd through it) We got our invite to Harry's. An invite to a special shopping thing. I'd get bummed when there wasn't a special envelope waiting. Their attention to detail was just amazing. The weirdest part was flying out of Miami and over the port looking down on "our" ship. Except it wasn't our ship no more.
Epilogue Part Last: The best part. The slots were the loosest I have seen. For the first three days anyway. Our S+S and all other activities were covered. I even have to claim one jackpot to the IRS. We gave some back, and then spent the rest on ourselves. We had some fine wines, shopped on board, and spared no expense. So, Carnival got it all back, but we paid the S+S in cash. No bills coming in the mail. And yet, I am still not even with the machines over the course of six cruises. Pretty freakin' close though!
I have the Funtimes and other info if anyone is interested. A drink menu somehow fell in my bag. So current drink prices are available.
Oh, on the drink thing. One DoD was served in a Carnival funnel. It's pretty cool, and then I realized...it's a coin bank! Time to start saving for next year!
Again, thanks to CC and all you posters. You made this cruise rock.
We had the best time evah!