For the third year we decided to cruise for the Christmas holidays. We have traveled on Carnival many times and knew what to expect. Last year we cruised Holland America and had more of a festive experience. This year I traveled with my family, my mother and her husband and my best friend and her family. In total we had 4 teenage boys with us ages 19, 16, 16 & 14. We chose Carnival for the price and the fact that we wanted 2 rooms for our family.
We drove about 3 hours to the Port of Miami on Dec. 24th. It is extremely easy to travel to the ships at the port (unlike Ft. Lauderdale where you must pass through a security checkpoint while still in your car). Inside the terminal was a different world! Lines everywhere. Once we were checked in we were given a Zone 20 boarding card. As we waited and waited...they called Zone numbers in the 40's...my son asked me "are the going to 100?" Suddenly, they called General Boarding...and everyone headed up the escalators to the ship. So frustrating!
We occupied a balcony room on Deck 9. Our friends were next door and our boys were in Inside rooms across the hall. I love Deck 9 forward. It is pretty much a dead end, so not many people pass by your cabin. Walk the other direction and there's the pool and buffet. Our cabin steward was Josico and he was fabulous!! I usually feel guilty about the amount of time my teenagers sleep on a cruise during the day...but from day one Josico said to not worry about a thing this was the boys' vacation too!! Wow! He even took our friends next door under his wing even though he was not their assigned steward.
We had 8:15 dinner in the Silver Olympian dining room, deck 3, aft. We had a table for 10. We were taken care of by our friendly, yet overworked dining room waiter and his assistants. We ate there every night. The food was a little lackluster, but we always found things to eat and enjoyed each other's company. Our growing teenage boys ate anything and everything they desired!
The upgrades on the lido deck were enjoyed by all of us! We loved the burgers from Guy's (the very last day of the cruise my boys heard the burgers are 1800 calories each--wow!). The burrito place really turned out to be a favorite, but the hours are limited. We really liked the breakfast burritos.
It is hard to find fault with a cruise that had 7 days of near perfect weather. We were in Nassau for Christmas morning and really enjoyed the experience of being the ONLY ship in port. A brand new beautiful straw market building had opened the week before, but there were only a few vendors open. Walked to Junkanoo beach and enjoyed the views and the fact that most of the locals slept in. My friends enjoyed a Christmas church service at St. Francis. More walking in San Juan--through both forts. A trip to the lovely island of St. John from St. Thomas (booked through the ship). Finally, we rented a poolside cabana (in Margarita-ville) while in Grand Turk's cruise center.
The shows were enjoyable, both in the main theater and in the new comedy club. We loved the fact that there were so many comedy shows and some of them were before midnight and some were designated "family shows." My husband played trivia and bingo a few times. They even had bingo at the pool. I have never seen that before. We spent some time in the EA Sports bar watching the Champs Bowl with Florida State and Notre Dame. It was not crowed at all. We never went in the casino---way too smokey for us.
Disembarkation was easy. We left our room at 8:30 (as requested) and headed out to the buffet for one last breakfast. So our number was called and we left the ship. We collected out luggage from a carousel like at the airport. That seemed to take more time than the old search and find method! We cleared customs shortly and headed home.
Overall, the Carnival Liberty is a fine ship. Somehow it never felt crowded, we were always able to find seats when we needed them. We made a lot of our own fun since we were traveling with a large group. Our teenagers were a little ho hum, they did not participate in the Club 02 program as they have in the past. My 19 year old (home from his first semester in college) was a little out of sorts and hung with the adults mostly. There was no 'group' for him. About the only thing he could do on the ship was gamble--but he is a poor college student!! The other teenagers spent lots of time at the basketball court, gym and well, eating!!