We sailed out of Miami on may 28th on the Eastern itenerary, visiting Half Moon Cay, St. Thomas, San Juan, and Grand Turk. For any of you looking for alcohol, I will give you the skinny on where to find the best deals a little later on-but do NOT buy ANY alcohol on the boat. You can get much better deals in any port you visit. As for the port of Miami, it was easy to find. They had electronic signs with the directions for the boat you are looking for. Easy to get to it. Terminal was very nice, very clean. Check in was a breeze. We are Platinum members with Carnival, so we didn't have to wait for anything, but my parents are not and it only took them 15 minutes longer than us to check in. My wife and I were the first ones on the boat and we had hardly found a table on the Lido deck when they called to say they were on the boat. I think they have a very efficient process down there. This is my 10th Carnival cruise and 11th overall.
We left on time. Everything was going well several hours out of Miami when someone got sick. They told us we were going to turn back for Miami, but about 10 minutes later they said a helicopter had been sent to pick them up. This would affect our arrival to Half Moon Cay by about an hour, but we stayed an hour later to make up the time-so all shore excursions were pushed back by one hour. I personally thought they handled the situation well-I mean you have to take car of someone with a heart attack, but they worked it so that all the other guests still got their time in port.
I won't go into the details of the cruise director and entertainment staff too much, as most of their contracts ended on that cruise, or in the next month. Onboard activities were pretty standard for Carnival. Shows were ok, but the comedians were very good. I have always considered the food on board to be good(especially in the dining room), but I honestly think it had improved. Harry's steakhouse was incredible. As for the service, from the officers down to the housekeeping staff, I have never experienced such wonderful service and friendly attitudes. With all the above being said, I am a friendly person. I believe you get what you give. I have read some negative comments about the service on the Liberty and the food. Some people only see the negative things and I believe those nit-picky people wrote the negative comments. So, go with a positive attitude. THe ship is clean, the food is good, and the service is EXCELLENT. Now for the ports.
HALF MOON CAY- I have been here twice before. It is their private island. Not a lot to do other than the beach, unless you book an excusrion. It is a pretty port and should provide for a relaxing day. Shopping is basically one little shack so you can get a T-shirt. We did the stingray snorkel and feeding for $25 bucks. Well worth the money. Our next day was a day at sea, then we arrived in St. Thomas.
ST. THOMAS-One of my favorite ports. Been here several times and still haven't gone enough. Plenty to do for anyone. Lots of drinking, good restaurants, EXCELLENT shopping, and any type of excursion one would like to try. I recommend making this your shopping port. If you are a beer drinker, try a Blackbeard Ale while you shop. There is plenty of shopping right at the port. One of the best liquor stores to shop is right there. Dynasty Liquors had the lowest prices on Crown and Grey Goose, and much lower prices than the boat and a much larger selection. AH Riise in downtown(you have to take A $4 taxi to get downtown) has an even larger selection and there prices were better than any other store on almost all the other liquor except for those I mentioned above. I saved over $60 on 10 bottles of alcohol by buying in St. Thomas instead of the boat.
SAN JUAN- I do recommend the Bacardi tour. Don't buy the boat's excursion. They charge $30 and it is a free tour. We got off the boat and walked to the left when we got off the pier. We took a ferry across to the other side which was 50 cents. When we got off, we walked to the right about 100 yards and there is a big building that has public transportation(which was basically a taxi van). We rented the whole thing so we didn't have to wait for them to fill up and it only cost $10. We did the tour, got the free drinks and then took a $10 taxi ride back to the ferry. When we go tback to old San Juan(which is where the ship was docked). We went to the Casa Don Q on the main road in front of the boats. It is an opportunity to get more free rum samples since they will make you whatever you want and purchase souveniers-the Don Q is still cheaper in St. Thomas though-but go get the free drinks. You can skip paying for a tour and hop on the free trolley that goes around town. The shopping is ok, but their recommended stores are a long way from the boat.
GRAND TURK-Ok. The island is pretty, there is a beach right at the pier, and I heard the snorkeling was an incredible excursion. Margaritaville was a lot of fun too. That being said, this is a tourist trap. Don't plan on a lot of good shopping. In fact, I wouldn't spend a dime there unless I had to. My wife bought a souvenier spoon for $10 because it was the least expensive thing on the island. No haggling, no dealing here. If you plan for this day to be a relaxing beach day, or plan to party at Margaritaville, you will have a wonderful experience. Don't get me wrong. I had a good day here, but it wasn't what I had expected.
Overall Very nice time on the cruise ans would cruise this ship and itenerary again.