I am a solo cruiser, never taken a cruise with anyone else. I occasionally travel with family but usually my vacations are a solo endeavor. Apologies for the link, but I got error messages when I tried to link to photobucket, and when I tried to directly link the photos they were itty bitty. Look at as many or few of the photos as you choose! This is my second time on the Carnival Liberty.
Friday Sept 30, 2011
Took the redeye from Portland, Oregon, somehow under the delusion that I would get a little sleep on the plane not! My flight into Newark was a little late, but I made the connection to Miami exactly on time (luckily the gates were in the same general area).
Saturday Oct 1, 2011 - Embarkation
After picking up my luggage, I went to the restroom so I could change clothes, move my sodas to my carryon, and put on my Carnival luggage tags. I had prepaid for the Carnival shuttle to the ship, and they were right in front of the luggage carousel with a sign. Got to the cruise terminal around 11:40 and joined the big line. The security people were just standing around, but started checking people through again about ten minutes later. Once through security, I got a boarding number, then proceeded to the line to use the kiosk to check in; then got in another line to pick up the S&S card. Another wait until my boarding number was called. Then you proceed to the ship to stand in another line to board the ship. By then it was after 1pm so I just went to my floor (6/upper) to wait for the rooms to open, instead of joining the crowd on the Lido.
They opened the doors at 1:32pm, and I went to my room to unpack my carryon and take photos. I had cabin 6206, a 4J HC room all the way forward. Its considered an inside room but has a window and is next to one of the secret doors that leads to a large semi-private deck.
The deckplan for the ship indicates that the twin beds to not convert to a king, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a queen bed in place of two twins. I loved the cabin but didnt like the way the hangers in the closet are configured (up to four to a hook). Not a big deal!
I went to the Lido to get something to eat. I cant remember what I ate, I was pretty tired. Attended muster at 3:30 and my feet were killing me (plantar fasciitis), I just wanted to lay on the floor. Afterwards I went to meet fellow CC members but I was a bit late and it felt awkward. Just my take, nobodys fault!
I went to my room afterwards and was pleased to find my luggage at my door. I opened my suitcase but couldnt bring myself to unpack it completely yet, I was so tired and my feet hurt so bad I lounged on my bed and watched TV a bit.
I had Your Time Dining so I went to the Golden Dining Room on deck three. I had the iced tea (much better in the dining room than on the Lido), the tomato soup, sweet & sour shrimp, with the crme brulee for dessert. The dessert was great but so rich I couldnt finish it.
I went back to my room to force myself to unpack and met my room steward Sean, who left me a towel crab. I got myself the chocolate covered strawberries, but they look much better than they taste. I wanted to visit the piano bar, but I was dead on my feet so I went to bed instead; I was probably asleep by 9:40pm.
Sunday Oct 2, 2011 Half Moon Cay
Happy 51st Birthday to me! I grabbed something quick from the Lido deck, then went to the Victoria Lounge, where we were told to meet if we had excursions booked; a good way to tendered first! I found the snorkel boat and lo and behold, the captain of the Salty Sally is my buddy Tracy Brown. I had been to HMC about three other times and he is always there and always remembers me. I had my own private snorkel tour slightly away from the other snorkelers. They brought bread along to feed the fish so that got me some good photos. I saw tiny jelly fish (quarter and dime sized) but they werent the scary kind.
I had the jerk chicken and couscous with pineapple, grapes, and a brownie. The drink cups were pathetically small! After eating, I went on the stingray excursion, which was frankly so-so. The woman facilitating the interaction was a bit too controlling of the situation for *my* taste. I have experienced tame stingrays many times, but I know not everyone has the same comfort level with animals.
I did some window-shopping in the square (Little San Salvador) and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a few Del Sol items its a personal addiction, I always like to purchase change colors in the sun stuff when I travel to a place with a Del Sol store. I bought an HMC t-shirt showing a gecko in a lounge chair.
I went back to the ship and dropped my stuff off, then went to the ships shop to get a few cheapo $10 watches. I also bought a decorative globe paperweight (inlaid with semi-precious stone). Cuz of course I need more tchotchkes! Sorry, I think I was Yiddish in my last life; knick-knacks, do-dads, something that serves no real purpose but is pretty ?
Went back to my room and took a shower and took my time getting ready for my birthday dinner at Harrys Supper Club. My invitation indicated that the dress code in Harrys is cruise elegant, so I wore a dress. I arrived a few minutes early and was seated by the window. At first the shades were drawn because the sun was exactly in the wrong in your eyes spot at first. Compliments of the chef were a few items not on the menu. I wish I had remember to take photos of everything, apologies for the lack of food porn! The first item was lobster carpaccio, but all I could taste was something savory with a raspberry. The other item was an itty bitty bowl of red pepper soup served with a sliver of polenta. For my starter, I had the lobster bisque, which was divine, so creamy and smooth and flavorful. Then I had the tomato and gorgonzola salad; it was decent but I was wishing for my fresh farmers market tomatoes from home. Then, the piece de resistance, the surf and turf, filet mignon (butterfly cut and medium) with lobster. The only side I ordered was the mushrooms, since there was so much food I didnt want anything to go to waste. Oh it was SO good! I ordered the chocolate sampler dessert and it arrived with a candle in the corner of the plate, and the staff singing Happy Birthday to me. I was so full by then I couldnt do it justice, but it was lovely and delicious.
I returned to my room to relax for a bit and found my doggy towel animal. I went to the piano bar at 9:30 and met Pollyanna Jones, the Piano (Wo) Man Player for the week. I had a great time, tried a Long Island Iced Tea for the first time, enjoyed the Miami Vice (I swear it was called something else when I sailed from Ft Lauderdale :P). I mentioned to the waiter Made that it was my birthday, and he told Pollyanna, so she and the other patrons sang Happy Birthday to me. I went to my cabin to bed at 1:30am after she was done for the night.
Monday Oct 3 2011 Sea Day
I slept OK but kept waking up and had a sneezing fit early in the morning, so I took my allergy medication so as to avoid further issues (and Im diving the next day). Got up around 10 am, showered. Went to guest services to find out if I could do the express luggage thing at the end of the cruise, but they said you cant do express luggage if you have a post-cruise tour. Bummer!
I had brunch at 11am, then went to the Super Trivia game. Our team name was Lethal Weapon, and it was a progressive game that would continue two more days and the final score would be decided on the last sea day. I stopped by the shopping talk to get the maps, I left after just a few minutes, not into the buy your bling only at our guaranteed shops spiel. I signed up for some internet time at The Web but couldnt get to my online email (apparently there are issues with Comcast). When I got to my cabin, the letter regarding the Chefs Table was there, indicating that I needed to re-confirm my reservation. I relaxed in my room for a while, then went to afternoon tea at 3:30pm. It was nice but all in all I felt that the treats actually looked better than they tasted.
It was elegant night, and since I had enjoyed snacks at tea, I went to dinner later, around 7pm. I had the pumpkin soup, alligator fritters (not enthused about them, I didnt like the heavy pimento flavor), and of course, the lobster & shrimp dinner and WCMC (kinda soupy, undercooked) for dessert. The dining room staff sang Happy Birthday to me again since I had been elsewhere the night before. I went to my room to change clothes (not a fan of wearing my formal attire all evening), then went to the piano bar at 9:30 until closing.
Tuesday Oct 4 2011 St. Thomas USVI
Met my dive buddy Dan (hello Scuba55) at the pier where our boat was meeting us. I booked with Blue Island Divers, they had nothing but great reviews online. The boat captain was Killian, our dive master was Geoffrey, and DJ was the dive master for the only other diver on the boat. One to one ratio, hard to beat! It was a great couple of dives, my favorite was the second, a wreck dive. Got a great photo of the crew that shows the Liberty in the background.
I got a ride to downtown Charlotte Amalie so I could visit the Del Sol store and bought some sunglasses. I perused the goods at the flea market and found a silver sun/moon pendant I really liked. Got the shuttle back to Havensight and went shopping for rum. I picked up four bottles of the St Thomas Chocolate Rum, and tried some rum samples on an empty stomach doh! When I went through the security entrance on the ship, I fully expected to be routed to the turn in your liquor here table but nobody said anything, so I took my box of rum to my room. I didnt open it, but I could have!
After dropping off my stuff at my cabin, I grabbed something to eat since I hadnt eaten lunch. I ended up taking a nap in my cabin for a while and went to dinner at 8pm, pretty late for me. I had the French onion soup with the Sicilian chicken and WCMC (kinda dry, overcooked) for dessert. After dinner I changed clothes and went to the piano bar at 9:30. Are we sensing a theme here? By now Im one of the regulars, and the others that I interacted with the most were Blake, Susan, Breanna (and her BF Ed), Chelsea, Joni, Katie, Amber, Justin, Tammy, and Eddie. I sang Madonnas Hanky Panky on the mic with Pollyanna, freaking terrified but I got through it. Lets just say everyone is super generous with praise and applause!! As usual, we closed the place down ?
Wednesday Oct 5, 2011 San Juan, PR
I signed up for the in-port spa special of the day and got a massage and facial at 9am ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. I walked off the ship at 11:20am and went to pier 2 to meet take the segway tour I had signed up for. It started raining, and at first I thought Hey, Im from Oregon, no biggie, but then it started POURING, and since my tour operators were not there (we were supposed to meet at 11:30) I scurried back to the shelter where the ship was docked. I was pretty soaked and a bit uncomfortable but didnt want to go all the way back to my room, so I waited out the rain. When it finally let up I walked to the CVS store for some Lanacane spray (for a slight sunburn and something itchy from the ocean on my right arm and thigh), then to the Del Sol store for a couple of t-shirts and my free tote bag. I went next door to Barrachina for lunch. Service was excellent, but I was pretty disappointed (I probably just chose the wrong thing Chicken Carabeno, chicken breast with pineapple, ginger and almond sauce, service with fried plantains, rice & beans), it was pretty bland. Afterwards I bought some postcards but couldnt re-find the post office (I had passed it on my way to Del Sol) so I just went back to the ship.
I relaxed in my room for a while and got ready for dinner at the Chefs Table. I wasnt enthralled with everything, but loved the Cornish game hen, and the short ribs were silky smooth and delicious! A little bonus not mentioned on the menu was the brioche with roasted garlic embedded in the top, baked and served in a mini flower pot. It was an excellent three hour experience, Id recommend it to any fellow foodie!
It was Pollyannas night off, but I went to the piano bar to check out Gilbert. He was more entertaining due to his bantering than his piano and / or singing skills, but it was still enjoyable. A few times when he didnt know the words he would sing na na na na until we got to the chorus. I didnt stay until closing, went to my cabin around midnight.
Thursday Oct 6, 2011 Grand Turk
Had a slice of gingerbread and some yogurt (regular and frozen :P) for breakfast. Went to phase two of the Super Trivia game at 10am. Walked off the ship at 11:10 to meet up with the certified divers excursion (with my dive buddy Dan Scuba55 again). Blake and his dad Tim, and our assistant cruise director Brian were also on the excursion. We dove the Tunnels and Coral Garden; again, the second dive was my favorite, I was in the worlds aquarium, it was gorgeous! On the way back we stopped at Jacks Shack and the little store there and I got an Oasis Divers t-shirt and postcard. After washing off my feet, I went to the Del Sol store and purchased a t-shirt and visor. Ran into Blake and he tried on some of the sunglasses. I was getting fried in the sun and heat so I went back to the ship around 4pm, made myself some nachos at the Lido grill. Went back to my room and checked my email, watched the TV episodes of the cruise director and his contests, tips, hints, and jokes.
I went to dinner at 8pm, but since I had eaten at 4pm I just wasnt that hungry so I only had the entre, chateaubriand. At 9:30, you guessed it, went to the piano bar and had a great time with the other regulars (plus Kathy, Charity, and Bret). I briefly escaped to get my disco ball cup (only available at the Hot & Cool disco just down the way from the piano bar). I sang Hanky Panky on the mic again, and this time, Pollyanna was more my backup than singing with me the whole time. Again, the audience and other patrons are generous with applause. After Pollyanna was done for the night I joined some of the other regulars at the disco; after the disco closed a few of us went to the Lido for some pizza, and I ended up finally getting to bed at 6am. ACK! Thats what I get for hanging out with such a young crowd!!
Friday, Oct 7 2011 Sea Day
OMG kill me now! At home I rarely drink, and I really paid for the night/morning before with a bad head and stomach ache. For the first time on this cruise, I felt a little nauseated, but it was from the drinking and staying up so late, not the motion of the ocean. I took some pepto bismol and it seemed to help.
I made myself get up for the final Super Trivia game, which we lost only because the roll of the die took away some of our points. Oh well, it was still fun! I went to the Lido and made myself some nachos for lunch, then went to get the Citizen Eco-Drive watch I purchased (they removed some links so it would fit properly). Then I went back to my room pack and take a nap. I put my larger suitcase out in the hall before going to dinner. I remember giving my tip to the head waiter, but I cant remember what I ate, somehow I forgot to write it down. I left the extra tip for my room steward in the mouth of the last towel animal he made for me ?
At 9pm I went to the piano bar for the last night. I sang Hanky Panky again, Joni did Love Shack again, and several of us exchanged information. I have several new Facebook friends now, its a great way to stay in touch without trying to insert yourself into others lives.
Saturday Oct 8, 2011 Disembarkation
I *was* going to sleep in until 7am or so, plenty of time for me to join the others disembarking directly to a post-cruise tour. But of course our lovely cruise director was on the ship-wide speakers announcing self-disembark information, so I got up around 6:45am. Since I had left some things behind last time I cruised, I was very careful not to repeat the experience, and made sure I had all of my belongings before leaving my room around 7:20am. I went to the Venetian Palace on deck three to await further disembarking instructions. Lets just say that disembarkation was a lot quicker and smoother than embarking!
Luckily I found my luggage fairly easy (I liked that they used a carousel rather than just a pile of luggage) and proceeded to USC/CBP, no problems at all. As I left the building I asked a Carnival representative where I was to meet for my post-cruise tour, and was directed to the canopy marked Tours (duh me) where several busses were parked.
I had booked a tour to Jungle Island since my flight wasnt until 3pm and I love animals. I had been looking forward to it almost as long as I had been looking forward to the cruise. When I got to the designated area, I looked for ANY sign that said Jungle Island and didnt find any. I asked a few bus drivers where they were going. When I checked in with the man with the clipboard, I was told that my bus wasnt there yet. So I waited around, watching for my bus or anyone with a sign for my tour. Nothing. At 10am, I knew I had been left behind and found some Carnival representatives. They called and found out that yes, the bus had already left. When I told one of them I couldn find a bus that said Jungle Island on it, she said Oh, it wouldnt have had a sign. ????? I was so upset I was choking back tears but did my best not to start sobbing or yelling at anyone. It would be different if I had passively stood by, but I was actively looking and trying to stay visible to the tour operators. So Carnival got me to the airport four hours before my flight, but my refund for the tour is still pending. When I emailed them about the issue, IMC Shore Excursions sent me photos of the tour bus area and a man holding a sign for the specific excursions. I had taken a photo of the tour bus area because it was pouring down rain, but now I am glad I have proof that I was in the correct area, but I had to tell them that there was never anyone with an excursion sign.
My flights home were thankfully uneventful, and my last one was almost a full half hour early. It was good to get home!
I had a great cruise and of course I am seriously jonesing for some soft serve chocolate frozen yogurt -