Travel to Port of Embarkation: We took a local taxi service to the port and found them to be just fine. Unfortunately, the van we were in broke down on the way to the port. Nevertheless, the taxi service had another van there within 5 minutes and off we went to the port.
Hotel Info: Stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites at the blue lagoon area. A decent hotel that was clean and met our needs. Pool area was small but relaxing. Breakfast buffet was terrible.
Embarkation: We were VIPs with Carnival Liberty. Carnival's Miami embarkation process sucked! Last time we sailed Carnival Glory out of Fort Lauderdale and the process was very smooth and professional. In Miami, being a VIP customer gets you to the gang way quicker than non-VIP customers, but not on board ship any quicker. There was no VIP line to board the ship so we waited another 30 minutes to gain ship access. The Carnival employees at the VIP station were rather uninformative about the process. They just asked for your VIP paperwork and told you to wait. There were ~ 30 people told the same as we were told and had no idea when they would get their sail pass. So after a few minutes I went up and ask the ladies at the counter. They said they would call you over when you paper work came to the top of the stack. They just yelled your name out and if you didn't hear your name, you could just be sitting there for hours. I told everyone you have to listen for your name to be called. Nobody was happy with this experience. Essentially, all VIPs who were boarding the same time we did (noon) were herded like cattle.
Stateroom: We had an ocean suite and were happy with the size, cleanliness and comfort of the room. Stewards were very good. We tipped them extra for such a good job.
Ship Info: Ship is large, clean, with many elevators. One drawback is there no one floor that goes completely around the ship. Carnival's design lacks this one amenity which many cruisers like.
Dining: Buffet food was at best subpar! The food during lunch and dinner had little flavor and many times was overcooked. The breakfast buffet had an omelet and eggs station which was a plus, but you better get there early or the wait was terrible. The dining room was average. Service was slow one night and fast the next. Absolutely no consistency in service. Food was average in the dining room. Nothing special. Our table was stuck in the middle of the service lines where all the waiters and customers traveled to either serve or dine. Guy's burgers, the Mexican cantina, red frogs and other funship 2.0 changes were good, but nothing special. Pizza was below average and served as gut filler for a desperate moment of hunger. We went to Harry's steakhouse twice and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. Service, food and atmosphere were superb, but keep in mind you are paying extra $30 per person for this amenity! The head chef at Harry's steakhouse came by and spoke with us. We gave him high accolades for the food and dining experience. We joked how the main dining room should provide such excellent service. He just laughed, knowing they cannot meet the demand!
Activities: Plenty of activities but plan ahead because it's a free-for-all and first come first serve. Its football season and obviously there are a lot of games to be played. Well, Carnival blocked all the games in your room, pushing you to the only one sports bar to view the games. OK, so Carnival must have thought that was a great marketing ploy for bar revenue, however the sports bar was so small it only could take on 150 people or so. They wouldn't even show a game on the big screen at the seaside theater, where the population of sports enthusiast could quadruple, along with their bar revenue. This was disappointing to say the least.
Staff & Service: Overall staff was attentive and courteous. Bar staff mixed good drinks and were very nice folks, but they pushed expensive drinks all the time.
Entertainment: We did see a show in the main theater and was enjoyed it very much! The comedian was very entertaining as well.
Shore excursions: We did not do any shore excursions, but enjoyed walking the cities at each port in our own way and time.
Disembarkation: Debarkation went much better. Hey they got your money and now they want you off the ship!
Summary: Overall, it was a very nice vacation because we made it a fun and worthwhile experience. Carnival delivered well on only a few things (rooms and stewards and an extra fee dining experience). The people on the ship were great, but obviously there were a few knuckleheads who lack common courtesy. We explored some really nice stops (San Juan, St. Thomas and Grand Turk), met some real nice people! However, we are taking Carnival off our list of cruise lines. You get what you pay for with Carnival and we have truly experienced better service, food, entertainment, and an overall cruising on other cruise lines.