The 2,974-passenger Carnival Liberty launched in 2005 as the fourth of five ships in the line's Conquest class. In fall 2011, Liberty became the first Carnival ship overhauled as part of the $500 million Fun Ship 2.0 initiative, a multiyear program focused on adding "signature" dining venues, bars and entertainment options to more than a dozen ships. Among Liberty's plethora of new offerings, passengers will find a candy store, four signature bars, comedians approved by George Lopez and burgers backed by the Food Network's Guy Fieri.
Like its Conquest-class sisters, Liberty also boasts a decent ratio of cabins with private balconies, a library, an ornate three-deck theater and a series of shops. The hard-to-please teen set get their own nightclub, too (which is located along the promenade with the rest of the "adult" fare).
On the new(er) Carnival Liberty, the experience is quintessential Carnival blended with a handful of twists. The "old faithfuls" are still here: personal and efficient service; comfortably sized, charming cabins; and varied evening entertainment ranging from Vegas floor shows to jazz to the "piano man," who packed in the crowds with his group singalongs. Cuisine often exceeded expectations, particularly at the for-fee Harry's Supper Club and the new, and free, Guy's Burger Joint -- not to mention Emile's buffet, the fish-and-chips bar, the sushi station and even in the dining room, where the waiters sang and danced. (Sadly, the 24-hour pizza joint missed the mark.) And the new EA Sports Bar, with its video games, flat-screen TV's and beer, has to be the best man cave at sea.
Ultimately, Liberty 2.0 offers a glimpse of what the Carnival ships with the overhauls look like -- the same comfortable, unpretentious vibe but with a few more menu options and, in the form of Guy Fieri and George Lopez, a few more recognizable faces.
Expect mostly Americans to join you on the ship's Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings out of Miami. Age-wise, the audience for this ship literally runs the gamut from families with small kids to seniors -- and just about everybody in between.
There are two formal nights on each seven-night trip, and most people really do dress up. (About 30 percent of men wore tuxedos.) The rest of the time the dress code is country-club casual. In the daytime, dress is very casual.
Carnival recommends $12.00 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $6.10 to dining room services, $3.90 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but it can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping a couple dollars for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).