We sailed on the Thanksgiving week cruise on the Carnival Liberty and had a great time. There were some things that were spectacular, some that were great, some I might have wanted to change -- but overall a vacation is what you make out of it and we had fun.
On this cruise were my husband and I -- and our 2 children (ages 4 and 8) who were new to cruising. We flew to Miami the day before the cruise so we would not run into any weather issues (since we were coming to Minneapolis). On a 3 1/2 hour flight -- the IPAD with movies was our best friend. We stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental close to the port (try last minute travel dot com -- they have deals -- you can see what hotel it is if you look at the photos and find the ones with the ugly sculpture in the lobby or google the number of rooms.) The hotel was in a good location and very nice. Unfortunately it poured rain on our whole Miami day and my daughter had an ear infection so we got to find the urgent care in downtown Miami, but it all turned out fine. We visited the CVS got our pop (soda to you non-Minnesotans) and also bought some cheap beach toys for fun on the trip.
We got the port plenty early (took taxi from hotel). Check in was easy and quick. Then we waited (not too long) and had an easy time getting on the ship. We made our way to the Lido -- Thumbs up to Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana. Throughout the trip I was not a big fan of the buffet, but could always find a burger, etc for lunch. The waits at these areas was never long. Also a shout out to the arepas at Blue Iguana for breakfast -- you cannot get these many places and I loved them!
Overall we were very satisfied with the food in the MDR. We loved our server who got to know our kids, and our names quickly. We also ate (without the kids!) in the Steakhouse and thought it was well worth the extra price. My 4 year old son thought the room service in the AM was the best thing ever. Everyday he ordered cereal and juice. He loved that the cereal boxes could be saved and used as snacks for he rest of the day. We took these on excursions on our port days. This is all included so make sure you do it, especially if you need your AM pot of coffee.
This was our first cruise with the kids and they LOVED Camp Carnival. I would recommend you go to the first night activities where they have a dance with the counselors (yes -- I was outstanding mom dancer and got a medal!) You also can check out the camp carnival area and meet your counselors, turn in your paperwork etc. We had a great time. The kids only went to camp carnival on sea days, but they could not get enough of it. The counselors were awesome and made all the activities fun.
We chose this cruise for the ports. In Cozumel we went to Paradise beach. This was great for my family. My son played on the beach. My husband and daughter played on the water toys, snorkeled. My husband even parasailed. The pool was also lovely. We liked that we controlled everything since it was not an excursion. We chose when we left the ship (I would recommend getting their early). We took a taxi there and back. We chose when we returned. The guacamole was quite tasty here. In the port area we shopped -- Cinco Soles is great place for Vanilla and ate at Panchos backyard. It was a great day.
Belize was up next. We had an excursion through an outsidevendor (Shore trips). The tendering process is a hassle if you are not on a Carnival excursion -- which is something to think about when deciding what to do. We went to the Bannister Island Beach Break. This was nice but we ended up waiting over an hour for the rest of our group to get through the tendering process. This did not make my kids happy. We enjoyed the beach but it was not as nice as Cozumel, and we were kind of trapped there. We did see some manatee and dolphins in the mangroves on the way back from the island which was cool.
By Roatan Honduras we were a little beached out and burned. We had booked a tour with Victor Bodden -- it was raining quite hard in the AM and we ended up waiting for quite a while for our guide to arrive. We ended up seeing the monkeys and my daughter and husband zip lined. We also had an island tour. The beach right there at Mahogany Bay looked very nice and I would think about going there in the future.
Grand Cayman is also a tender port, but since that time we were on a Carnival excursion it was easier. We did the stingray and turtle farm and LOVED it. My kids were nervous about the rays, but the water was the most incredible blue color and the rays were friendly, they got over it. We had the deluxe turtle farm tour, and my kids loved the swimming with the turtles and seeing the different sizes as the turtles got oldered.
There were lots of things for the kids to do on the ship -- we did the movies under the stars, we went to family comedy shows and a couple of the main showroom shows. It was such a great vacation we booked another one for this thanksgiving.
One thing I will say is that cruise cabins are small, and I do not like to sleep on top of one another so we had 2 connecting cabins which meant we had 2 bathrooms. This was awesome if you could afford it. It allowed my younger son to get a nap while my daughter could read or watch tv. Thumbs up!