THE GOOD: In general, we had an excellent time, despite some iffy weather.
We arrived at embarkation about 11:35 (we left our car after driving to MIami with a cousin, and she took us to the cruise dock and picked us up afterwords-thanks Kristin!). We boarded easily and pretty rapidly, taking about 30 minutes to get on board. We proceeded to the Lido deck and had lunch in Emile's restaurant (the buffet). About 1:45, we proceeded to our cabin, which was spotlessly clean.
Ship's cleanliness: EXCELLENT. The crew was always cleaning and sanitizing the ship. One night, I was up rather late (I am a night owl) and about midnight, several crew members were washing, with sanitizing solution, the entire lido deck. Every railing (even ones you would not normally grab), every chair, the sides of the ship, everything. Except for a couple of minor stains on the carpeting (which will be replaced in October 2011 during a scheduled dry docking) the ship was sparkling clean and in excellent condition. I wish the doors in my house were as well fit and as solid as those on the ship. Everything on board worked flawlessly.
Crew friendliness: OUTSTANDING. Everyone aboard was very friendly and went out of their was to make your vacation a pleasant one. I literally cannot say a bad word about any of the crew. Everyone could serve as a model of how that job should be done.
The entertainment. What we saw was very good, though we only took in a couple of the comedy shows. They had two comedians aboard, and changed them around in Jamaica, so we had different comedians for the first half and last half of the trip. I believe that is their standard, so the two comedians who joined out ship in Jamaica were getting off in Jamaica so that every cruise has two different sets of comedians. We did not take in any of their 'broadway' style shows, as neither my wife or I are big on the 'rat pack' style singers (Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. imitators). In fact, in talking with other passengers, the general consensus was that the shows were lacking in variety.
Now to the the bad:
Decor-Over the top in my opinion. Most of my experience os with much older ships, and I found the LIberty to be garish by comparison.
Food: The food was, frankly, disappointing, especially the desserts. Now, I am pickier than most, as I am a chef, but still, the food was not up to snuff in my opinion.
We primarily ate in the Buffet, as opposed to the dining room (we booked at the last minute and they only had early seating available, and my wife and I tend to eat much later than the assigned 6:00 PM, and they could not move our times).
The salads on board were generally excellent, and the soups-both hot and cold (except for the lobster bisque and corn chowders) were very good. The entree's and sides were generally good to very good too, as were the breads. A few of the entrees were excellent (the sweet and sour shrimp was outstanding-maybe the best I have ever had) but occasionally disappointed-for example, the short ribs were poorly cooked, tough, dry and flavorless.
However, the desserts, with a couple of exceptions, were second rate. They were primarily cakes, and my local Publix (grocery store chain primarily located on Florida) has much better cakes than were served on the ship. Some of the desserts were OK (they did better at the puddings and mousses than the cakes, pies, cobblers, etc) but in general, the best that can be said of them is that they were blah-they tended to be tasteless and dry. The Carnival Warm Chocolate Melting Cake, their signature dessert, is as good as people say it is-it is more like a warm yet dense chocolate mousse than a cake, but this dessert is only available in the restaurants, not in the buffet.
The grille portion of the buffet area (on the Lido deck) was excellent-the food was properly cooked, and never dried out, which is quite hard to do with hamburgers, the service was quick and friendly, with a good variety too boot. The deli made fine sandwiches. The Mongolian-a cook-to-order portion of the buffet making stir-fried dishes, was always crowded, so crowded that I never had the patience to wait for it. They need to triple the number of cooking stations, in my opinion, to really make this viable. Fish and Chips, on deck 10, (and generally only available at lunchtime if memory serves) served a lot more than 'fish and chips'-they served a variety of cold (ceviche, grilled octopus) and hot (fried oysters) fish products, the few of which I tried were excellent. I did not try any of the extra-cost food options on the ship, like the steak house or the dessert & coffee bars, so I cannot fairly comment on them.