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Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by tsukata: Great ship and itinerary, dining is subpar, few activities


tsukata
2 Reviews
Member Since 2010
22 Posts

Member Rating

Cabin 5.5
Dining 2.0
Embarkation 5.0
Enrichment Activities 3.0
Entertainment 2.0
Family & Children Not Rated
Fitness & Recreation 3.0
Public Rooms 5.0
Rates Not Rated
Service 3.0
Shore Excursions Not Rated
Value for Money 3.0

Compare Prices on Carnival Liberty Western Caribbean Cruises

Great ship and itinerary, dining is subpar, few activities

Sail Date: March 2011
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami

BACKGROUND:

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.

BUFFET/LIDO DINING:

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.

ACTIVITIES:

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.

STATEROOM ATTENDANT:

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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Cabin review: Carnival Liberty Balcony Upper 6362

Great balcony, fits 3 comfortably, quiet location

Port and Shore Excursions


(5.5)
There is just so much you can do in Cozumel! This was my second time there, so I booked a tour through Island Marketing to Tulum with a private driver. I cannot recommend booking outside of the ship for this enough; you WILL get a better experience for LESS money! Our driver was very friendly. I had asked about going to a cenote afterward, and the driver selected one (Cenote Cristallino) that was perfect. Oh, and the private driver for the three of us ended up costing far less than booking 3 for the Tulum tour through Carnival. There's so many things to do in this port, though, that you really can't go wrong.
Read 3083 Cozumel Reviews

This was my second time in Grand Cayman, but it was the first time for my guests, so I made sure to book a tour to Stingray City. I booked with CaribSelect for Stingray City + Snorkeling, and it was AWESOME. The last time I did Stingray City, I did the cruise ship's tour, and this was so much better that it doesn't even compare. The staff were so friendly, and we had maybe 30 people on our boat (compared with 50-60 on the cruise ship's excursion). CaribSelect also has a photographer along with a waterproof camera. The CD they create is $60, and it includes photos of your group as well as general photos from the day. The visit to Stingray City was very relaxed. They took all the time necessary to make sure everyone got to experience the stingrays. Likewise, the snorkeling was very laid back. Nonetheless, they made sure to get us all back with 2+ hours for shopping and exploring. The boat's crew got conch out of the water that we could taste, and we each got to pick out a conch shell to take home with us (no extra charge). That was an unexpected bonus for the tour. Definitely book with local companies like CaribSelect and skip the upcharge and cattle call feel of the cruise ship's tours!

Jamaica is gorgeous. It's so unlike the other stops. However, aside from Dunn's River Falls, it felt like there was very little to do. We had a person with limited mobility in our group, so the falls wouldn't work for us. We ended up going to Mystic Mountain. Mystic Mountain is the one and only case where I recommend going through the cruise ship rather than booking separately. Mystic Mountain was only slightly cheaper by going independently. A ride there and back cost $10 per person (round trip). Ziplining+skychair was $104 per person plus tax. Skychair only was $44 per person plus tax. Bobsledding was a $20 add-on to either package. Do the math with your ship's excursion costs. For us, we saved maybe $10 for three people doing it versus paying the ship. For that little savings, you might want to go with the ship to limit your risks. Mystic Mountain itself was nice, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. A tip is to book only the skychair ride. You can add on the zipline or the bobsled once you get to the top of the mountain, but you can't get a refund if you change your mind once you see either setup. Also, be aware that the zipline is advertised as a relatively gentle course but it surprisingly included a 40 foot vertical drop! I would not recommend this for a first-time zipline course!

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