Carnival Liberty Entertainment
Frankly, the three-deck-high Venetian Palace is such a spectacular theater -- with its Murano glass, funky jester-like patterns on the chairs and wild Venetian masks on the ceiling -- that just walking in gives you a buzz. On Carnival Liberty, three mainstay shows are presented, all in the Vegas mindset. These include "Rock Down Broadway," "Wonderful World" and "Singin' with the Big Band."
Carnival Liberty's Seaside Theater towers over the main pool deck is a 270-square-foot screen that thrums with programming, day and night. During the day, the screen plays music videos and displays photos taken of random passengers on deck. At night, a variety of films were played, both family-oriented and retro-hits like; late in the evenings, concerts featuring performers like Tom Jones were shown. Alas, it seemed as if Carnival wasn't really sure how to best handle the Seaside Theater on our voyage -- deck chairs were stacked high, there wasn't any genuine incentive to check it out (whereas Princess offers steamer rugs, free popcorn and a drinks service). As a result, the area was pretty underutilized at night.
On Spa Deck (Deck 11), aft, you'll find nine holes of miniature golf. You can snag putters and brightly colored golfballs on Lido Deck (Deck 9) before making your way to the top of the ship, near the funnel. Be warned: The funnel is so loud you won't be able to hear youself think while playing, and if it's a particularly rough day at sea, it can be nearly impossible to make par on each hole.
Far more popular is the indoor Promenade, an avenue of sorts that connects most of the bars, lounges and entertainment options. From there, you can check out Hot & Cool, the disco whose decor celebrates the art of tattoos; the Piano Bar, which can get quite raucous as people sing along to the best of 60's, 70's, and 80's pop music; and the Jardin Cafe for after-dinner noshing. Cabinet, the ship's cigar bar, is tucked away a deck below, but devotees managed to find it anyway. On the other hand, places like the Stage, billed as offering live jazz and karaoke, and the Empress Bar in the Club Lounge, were desolate.
During the day, Carnival features the usual wacky antics along with bingo, bad-hair-day seminars and shopping in its duty-free emporiums.
Cherry on Top is a cute corner store on the Promenade Deck (Deck 5) that's done up in shades of pink. It offers loose candy, for which you'll pay $8.80 a pound. Also available are prepackaged sweets, including boxed candy that's great for munching during movies on the Lido Deck or production shows in the theater. Choose from treats like jellybeans, bubblegum, gummy candy and more. You can also purchase flowers, cupcakes ($2.50 each) and special occasion confections like birthday cakes in addition to upscale bath products from Bliss. Get your sugar fix there until 10:30 p.m.
Another fun hangout spot is the EA Sports Bar, also on Promenade Deck. A man-cave to end all man-caves, it features 16 46-inch flat-screens that can each be tuned to individual games or combined to show just one or two games that span across several screens. The bar also offers video games and an LED ticker that posts current game scores. The relaxed atmosphere is accented with black and red tones, and you can enjoy the game with your favorite beer until the wee hours of the morning.
Further aft on Promenade Deck is Alchemy, a swanky-but-simple dark wood bar that serves alcoholic beverages by "prescription." Choose a drink from one of the light-up menus, or create your own by writing down what you'd like on one of the bar's prescription pads. Prepare to be surrounded by apothecary jars and bartenders in white lab coats. This venue is also open late.
The Lido Deck features two popular bars — the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and the RedFrog Rum Bar. Everything about the pair screams "let's take this outside!" The tequila bar shares its mascot with the adjacent BlueIguana Cantina, and the RedFrog Rum Bar is a variation of the wildly popular Red Frog Pub, which made its debut on Carnival Magic. Each bar's menu includes a host of tasty alcoholic beverages, including Iguana's Iced Tea, Red's Rum Treasure and other interesting concoctions.
Carnival Liberty Public Rooms
On Carnival Liberty, every room has not only a theme that's tied in with the artisan scheme but also a story -- which gives bars and other spots a nice added element of interest. The center of the activity is the ship's nine-deck-high atrium; there, the Grand Villa Garden features ironwork over lovely, lighthearted flowers in pastels.
Another room worth appreciating is the Venetian Palace, the ship's main theater, using as its major design element Murano glass made in Venice. There are also colorful tiles and chandeliers ... and check out the ceiling, which is dotted with the famous Venetian Carnival masks.
Other public rooms include the Antiquarian Library (lovely as it, is the book selection is pretty meager so you'll want to bring your own supply) and the Victoria Lounge, the secondary theater, which is genuinely elegant with its theme being English-style majolica glassware.
Carnival Liberty has a hard-to-find Internet cafe (tucked away behind the Cabinet Bar), and the number of computers is underwhelming. The good news is the ship is very Wi-Fi-friendly; I'd advise you to bring your own laptop.
Carnival Liberty Spa & Fitness
The only big downer on Carnival Liberty is its main pool area. Oddly, the centerpiece of the main area, here called "Tivoli," is two big whirlpools -- the pool itself is tucked off to the side, literally under an overhang. It didn't inspire visions of wacky pool games, that's for sure. Seating is terraced, so people are spread out all over the place -- we thought the configuration was confusing. Above the main pool area is Carnival's famous waterslide, which is a bit underwhelming for thrill-seekers but seems to attract a lot of kids.
Much more appealing is the pool aft. The Versailles pool is center stage, with two big whirlpools off to the side. This area has a retractable roof in case of inclement weather and also has the advantage of being the site of both the grill and the pizzeria (plus a nice bar), so there's good reason to plant yourself down and spend the day.
Spa Carnival's health and fitness facilities pretty much feature the usual (expansive fitness center with a separate workout area and classes, some of which require a fee). There's also a funky waterfall with a Jacuzzi.
The spa itself is pleasant if a tad barren in decor (no extravagant Thai or Santa Fe desert themes). The Beauty Salon has one wall lined by windows -- a perfect scenic place for folks getting pedicures and manicures. Our ginger/lime salt scrub and massage was exceptional ... and there was no Steiner product pitch afterward. You can buy all the products you desire, though, in the spa's standalone boutique.
There's also a jogging track.
On Sun Deck (Deck 12), forward -- just above the spa, gym and salon -- is Serenity, an adults-only sun deck that offers loungers, hammocks and couches for relaxation away from the masses. In addition to great views, you'll also have access to additional hot tubs, and waiters will come around to take your drink orders.