We flew into Ft Lauderdale the day before and had transportation to the Holiday Inn Port of Miami. Flight was the best and easiest so far as we arrived 20 minutes early. We chose to fly into Ft Lauderdale because it's much cheaper then flying into Miami. The Holiday Inn had alot of construction going on during the day, but it didn't bother us. This Hotel was just fine for a nights stay and they had a decent pool. Several Cruise Critic Members stayed here as well and we met up with them at the pool.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port shortly after 9am and received the "Zone 1" card. Security and check in was VERY simple and everyone was very friendly and helpful. I recommend arriving early. It was nice to sit there and watch everyone coming off the ship with sad faces that their cruise was over. Having Zone 1, it was very nice to be one of the very 1st group of people on the ship. After a quick picture, we were on the ship around 10:45am. I made my way to the shore excursion desk (which opens at 11am) and chose my cabana for Half Moon Cay and signed up for the "Behind the Fun" Tour. We then headed up to the Lido deck for lunch and to take some pics of the ship. Our 1st day on the ship, we took it easy. We got familiar with the ship, took some pics, and got our Daughter signed up for Camp Carnival. Let me say this...Camp Carnival is absolutely the BEST!!! My 4 year old Daughter could not get enough of Camp Carnival. She was always ready to go there and, if allowed, she would have spent every hour of every day there. The Camp Carnival staff was just amazing!
Main Dining Room Food: No problems here. Several have said the food has gone down hill. Well...they must have been on a different ship. The food was fantastic! They always had something for everyone and it was delicious. Our wait staff was fantastic and always kept our drinks filled. Food was brought to our table quickly. Our Head waitress was Nicoleta from Romania. She always enjoyed talking to our Daughter and with us. Unfortunately, she is heading back to Romania in 1 week after working for Carnival for 10 years.
Buffet Food: Excellent! Lines appeared long at peak times, but always moved quickly. Again, a nice variety of food for everyone. Always loved the free ice cream!
Pools/Hot Tubs: Always crowded, but you could always get in them early in the mornings or late evening with very minimal crowds. Hot tubs are luke warm at best. I spent very little time in the pool and hot tubs.
Deck Areas: Never noticed any "chair hogs" You could always find a chair available and we sailed at full capacity.
Entertainment: Shows were fantastic. Yes, I had seen some of the shows before...but the Carnival Dancers to an absolute fantastic job. Family Comedy was good. We did not see any of the Adult Comedy shows as we were just too tired from doing so much throughout the day.
Carnival Staff: All were VERY friendly and will do whatever it takes to make sure you are having a great time. They all seemed to love what they do and are more then willing to spend time talking to you if you like.
Housekeeping: Room Steward introduced himself to us the 1st night, but then saw very little of him the rest of the week. However, he did a great job keeping our room clean and always attended to our needs.
Cabin: We stayed in balcony room 1064 on deck 10. You can't beat the location! Room was a nice size for our Family of 3. Daughter liked the pull down bunk bed. It was nice to have a balcony, but just wasn't worth the extra expense. We spent maybe an hour on the balcony the entire week. There was just too much going on, we didn't spend much time in the cabin.
The Liberty is going into dry dock in October. So, it was obvious she needed a little TLC (stained seats in the buffet areas) However, she looked great and the crew was always working hard to keep her looking great. This is, in my opinion, one of the best looking Carnival ships in the fleet. One thing not to miss is the "Behind the Fun" tours. The cost is $95 a person. It's limited to 16 people, but it's worth it! We got to see the bow of the ship, behind the stage, crew galley, the main galley, Harry's Supper Club galley, engine control room, crew quarters, laundry facilities, food and beverage storage areas, and the bridge. You also got a group photo, a personal picture of you and the Captain, and some free gifts and desserts sent to your cabin.
Fellow Passengers: A good mix of people. Not many kids as most were in school. However, there were enough kids in Camp Carnival that my Daughter enjoyed making new friends. Passengers were all friendly and never saw any obnoxious drunks. Overall, a very nice group of people.
Debarkation: Went very smooth and we were off the ship around 9am. No complaints here. We did not have passports and only used our birth certificates and didn't have any problems at all.
Half Moon Cay: Had a Cabana reserved (#12) and it was a great location. It was far enough away from the crowds, but close to everything. Carnival provided snorkeling equipment, fruit, chips, and soda in our cabana for free. The beach does need some TLC after Hurricane Irene went trough a month ago. We spent most of the day on the beach making sand castles. However, everything else was wonderful!