Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by tsukata: Great ship and itinerary, dining is subpar, few activities
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Great ship and itinerary, dining is subpar, few activities
I went on this cruise with a friend and his grandmother. It's my second cruise on Carnival, on nearly the same itinerary as I did previously, but a different ship. I got the cruise at a good discount and with VIP status from the casino. The VIP status provided express embark/disembark, free drinks in the casino, an onboard cash offer, and gifts delivered to our room. I'll exclude those items from my review as my experience there will be atypical.
SHIP and SHIP LAYOUT:
The Liberty is a lovely ship. The theming is diverse; there's no consistency to the theme. (Freedom, maybe?) The bar spaces are really fun. The adult pool (aft) was kept clean and fresh throughout the cruise, and, unlike the last cruise I went on with Carnival, smoking was restricted away from the pool. Smoking on the Liberty is permitted generally on the starboard side of the outside decks and in some of the bars and casino areas. I love the decorations of the piano bar and More paparazzi bar. The Hot & Cool lounge theming is a bit garish, but the space is really great for a dance area on a ship, compared to what I've seen elsewhere. One great feature of this ship is the large screen above the mid-ship pool. That was really fun, and, though I love the adult pool's calm, it made me envious of the mid-ship pool with that giant TV! They showed movies on it a few times a day, and generally sports when movies weren't on (particularly NCAA games).
DINING ROOM (Silver Olympian):
We were in the late dining. The service for the first half of the cruise was abysmal, but it improved considerably on the second half of the cruise. (My tablemates complained individually about the service.) One of our waiters explained a few times that Carnival had changed the table to server ratio in the past few months, and that it was leaving them all overworked and unable to provide service properly. Strangely though, after complaints, the service improved for everyone, it seemed, so I'm not sure what to believe. I also think Carnival must be doing something wrong if their staff is complaining to guests about the workload (which I heard from several staff members). Perhaps I'm spoiled to Disney's ways from staying at WDW, but I believe it should be part of the service ethic that the staff never lets the guests see or hear about internal issues or disputes. If the service suffers, that's one thing, but to take up guests' time/energy complaining about the workload (without us asking about it)? Something is wrong, either in training or in treatment of the staff.
The food, strangely, did the opposite (in the dining room). The first few days were great, and the last few days were only okay. I highly recommend the St. Louis Ribs and the crab cakes. But generally, you could get the same or better desserts in the buffet and often the same or better food. (As we were late dining, it was easy enough for us to swing by and check the buffet out before dinner.)
Breakfast food was terrific in the dining room, far better than the buffet. (In fact, unless you need the speed, skip the buffet breakfast and always go to the dining room!) Service, however, was lacking. Even without a crowd, our drinks would go dry frequently and items we requested would never show up with no explanation.
The buffet had generally good food. In particular, the burrito bar and the fish & chips stations were really delicious. The lunch offerings only had some variation day-to-day. One exception was a "Caribbean feast" on the Jamaica day (Day 6) which was excellent and truly much better than the food at dinner that night.
We did several trivia activities and a few others, including the always popular Quest event. One thing that plagued our enjoyment of the sea days was a lack of activities. There were very few unmonitored activities that I'm used to seeing, such as Bridge and Scrabble gatherings and singles meet-ups. We frequently found ourselves with nothing much to do. It was alright; we ended up reading or napping. But, I missed meeting people via the activities.
The trivia that we went to was very well run. Unlike my previous Carnival cruise, the trivia staff spoke excellent English and understood the games and schedule clearly. We really enjoyed the game activities and wished there were more of them.
I never saw or met our attendant, but that's fine with me. The service was awesome, though. We'd leave the room for 30 minutes at a random time and come back to it neatened. She or he had a gift for knowing when to come in and tidy up. That was the best of the service on the ship. Less
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