Aboard Carnival Liberty, passengers have abundant options for dining and snacking. From 24-hour room service to dinner in the two main dining rooms to a quick burger, taco or pizza, finding food is never an issue.
The main dining rooms offer traditional cruise dinners, with seatings at 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., or the option of a flexible dining schedule with "Your Time Dining." Through your Time Dining, passengers can visit the Gold Olympian Dining Room any time between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m.; most times, passengers are seated right away, though there are times when it's necessary to wait a bit for a table (private or with a group).
Dining assignments are selected prior to the cruise, so we recommend requesting your assignment -- Early, Late or Your Time Dining -- as soon as possible to ensure you have the best chance of receiving your desired dining time. Your Sail & Sign card has your dining assignment -- dining room, table number and dining time -- on it for easy reference.
You'll find plenty of options for food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but in the hours between lunch and dinner (from about 3:30 to 6 p.m.), you'll have fewer options available; Guy's Burger Joint and the Pizza Pirate are pretty much it.
Speaking of Pizza Pirate, the pizzeria, located in the aft pool area, is a can't-miss; the pizzas are small, incredibly tasty and they come out of the oven incredibly fast.
Another venue not to be missed is BlueIguana Cantina, particularly at breakfast when it serves very good -- and overlooked by many passengers -- breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros.
The food aboard Liberty is plentiful and, almost always, good. We did see several other passengers doing what we always did at the buffet: do a walkthrough to see what's out. We also saw several passengers opting to join us at Guy's, Mongolian Wok or the pizzeria to find a better option when we didn't like what was on offer. Many passengers opted for the deli or the pizza just to skip the longer buffet lines, as well. On the buffet and menus in dining rooms, gluten-free and vegetarian options were clearly marked and were surprisingly plentiful.
There were times -- after dinner but before bed -- when it seemed more difficult to find food, but then we discovered the pizzeria where if there's not a fresh pie waiting for you, it will be out of the oven soon.
Room service on the Liberty is available 24 hours and though the menu is limited -- sandwiches, salads and continental breakfast -- it's prompt and tasty.
Silver Olympian Dining Room (Deck 3 and 4 aft): One of two main dining rooms onboard, Silver Olympian is two levels and features banks of windows looking out onto the sea. This, along with pops of silver and blue, as well as tasteful table settings, gives it a casual, but elegant, feel. (Many passengers consider the Silver Olympian the more desirable dining room because of its aft location and the views provided by the large windows.)
Seating times for dinner are 6 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Your Time Dining is not available for dinner in Silver Olympian.
Each dinner menu features eight to 10 appetizers (hot and cold soup, salad, shrimp cocktail), a half-dozen main dishes and four grill choices (fish, chicken, steak, pork chop, typically), and six sides, all of which change nightly. The cuisine is American fare with an international twist as French, Asian and Italian influences are evident in some dishes. There are always low-fat and vegetarian options available. Special dietary requests can be accommodated by speaking with the maitre' d or making arrangements before you sail. Along with the expected dishes on the menu -- fish and seafood, steak, chicken, pasta -- the menu features at least one "didja (as in did you ever…)" menu item to encourage diners to try something new: think escargots, oysters Rockefeller, frog legs.
There's also a "Ports of Call" menu featuring a cocktail, appetizer and main course reflective of the day's port. As we departed Cape Canaveral, the menu reflected the best of Florida flavors, with a citrus salad appetizer and a grilled swordfish steak with pepper sauce, fresh pineapple and coconut rice; both dishes encompassed the ingredients and flavors of the region.
On the After Dinner menu you'll find an international cheese plate, fruit plate, ice creams and sherbets, a warm chocolate melting cake and another option or two. There is a selection of after-dinner drinks for adults -- cognacs and brandies as well as dessert wines and ports -- as well as drip coffee and specialty coffee drinks (all for an extra fee). Wine lovers will find a good bit of variety on the wine list and it's easy to find a bottle or glass that pairs well with dinner; for wine novices, the menu is focused enough to streamline the selection process; as with any good restaurant, your server can help you select the right glass or bottle for the evening.
Breakfast is served from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and is open seating. The menu is what you'd expect -- eggs and toast, bagels, French toast, fruit and yogurt, cereal -- and is well executed. The SeaDay Brunch (8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) is only available on sea days and includes typical brunch fare including French toast, eggs, mac and cheese and a bloody mary bar.
Golden Olympian Dining Room (Deck 3 and 4, midship): The decor of the Golden Olympian Dining Room is reminiscent of Silver Olympian, only here the accents are gold and burgundy, giving the room a rich, sumptuous feel. Combined with the low light of the dining room, it creates a more intimate atmosphere that's upscale, but distinct from it's sister venue.
On the menu you'll find the same selection of rotating appetizers and mains, a consistent (and delicious) dessert menu and the adventurous "didja" offerings as are offered in the Silver Olympian-- along with the same excellent service.
In addition to the two fixed dining times, Golden Olympian is the dining room for Your Time Dining, available from 5:45 to 9:30 p.m. Breakfast is not served in the Golden Olympian Dining Room.
The food in the main dining rooms is good, but better on some nights than others. If you find you're unhappy with your selection, just tell your server and they're happy to bring you something else.
Emile's Lido Buffet (Deck 9 aft): Emile's Lido Buffet, appropriately, serves as the ship's buffet option and has hot and cold offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The buffet is laid out cafeteria style with a few items -- desserts, sometimes salad toppings, sandwiches -- on a separate kiosk. Adjacent to the buffets are small deli counters where you can get a sandwich. Don't miss the Mongolian Wok at lunch, it's flavorful and cooked to order.
Open for continental breakfast only from 6:30, full breakfast is available 7 to 10:30 a.m., and for "late risers" breakfast (a robust, but limited menu) from 10:30 a.m. to noon, it serves everything you'd expect to find on a breakfast buffet. We suggest diners in the mood for eggs visit the omelet station rather than eat a scoop of scrambled eggs from the buffet. If you choose the traditional buffet you'll find a selection of European-style options -- meats and cheeses -- along with hot and cold cereal, pastries and breads, eggs, bacon and sausage.
At lunch, which is open from noon to 3:30 p.m., the buffet includes a salad bar, carving stations (for beef and pork roast), pasta dishes and the usual lunch buffet fare. Around the corner from either buffet line is a deli window where you can order hotdogs as well as hot or cold sandwiches.
For dinner, from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the buffet offers similar choices to lunch -- salad bar, carving stations, pasta -- but with heartier fare and a few more hot options.
If you have a sweet tooth and the buffet is closed, don't worry, right around the corner is Swirl, a 24-hour soft serve ice cream station. It's simple -- ice cream and cones only, no toppings -- but it will help when you have a hankering for a sweet treat.
While the buffet provides great variety in meal options, we found ourselves drawn to the specialty options for breakfast and lunch -- omelet bars, Mongolian Wok, Pirate Pizza, Guy's Burgers and BlueIguana -- where the food was high quality and fun.
Mongolian Wok (Deck 9 aft): One of several specialty elements to Emile's Lido Buffet, Mongolian Wok is popular and has a long line to prove it. This build-your-own stir-fry eatery presents diners with a salad bar-style selection of Asian vegetables and noodles, which are tossed into a wok along with your choice of chicken, beef or calamari. As it cooks, it's topped with black bean sauce (mild), Thai barbecue (a little warm) or a spicy Sichuan sauce.
Ol' Fashioned BBQ (Deck 9 aft): Upstairs from the buffet, Ol' Fashioned BBQ serves a nice array of Southern-inspired dishes from pulled pork sandwiches and platters to fried chicken to sides like mac and cheese, greens and cornbread. They serve a variety of barbecue sauce styles, from a tangy North Carolina style to a thick and sweet Memphis style.
BlueIguana Cantina (Deck 9 midship): Located midship by the pool, BlueIguana Cantina serves tacos and burritos made with fresh tortillas and burrito shells (thanks to a fascinating machine that turns dough into a tortilla in less than a minute). Open for breakfast (7 to 10:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 2:30 p.m.), it's often overlooked for the buffet or Guy's Burgers, but diners in the know eat here often. At breakfast the venue serves huevos rancheros and similar small dishes as well as big breakfast burritos that you build yourself, or rather you direct the servers to add what you want to your burrito (don't skip the hash browns, they make the burrito). For lunch, tacos come in three varieties -- chicken, pork and fish -- and burritos come in shrimp, chicken or beef. There's a large topping bar beside the cooking stations where you'll find salsa, pico de gallo, hot sauces, guacamole, diced onions and sour cream.
Guy's Burger Joint (Deck 9 midship): Undoubtedly the most popular dining option on the ship, Guy's Burger Joint leans on Food Network personality Guy Fieri's reputation and personality to dish up some excellent hamburgers and cheeseburgers. (Veggie burgers, while not listed on the menu, are available upon request.) Located beside the pool on the opposite side from BlueIguana Cantina, Guy's serves a selection of five different burgers or you can build your own from the topping bar nearby. Toppings include bacon, lettuce, tomato and a range of sauces from Guy's signature "donkey" sauce to mustard and ketchup. Every burger comes with a heaping handful of fries.
Pizza Pirate (Deck 9 aft): Open all day and night, Pizza Pirate is secretly one of the best things to eat onboard. Small pies, about 12 inches, are hand tossed and made with fresh mozzarella, and the thin crust allows them to cook fast, so they're always hot. Chose from quattro formaggi, funghi, margherita, pepperoni or prosciutto. They also have a made-to-order Caesar salad. Sometimes there's a bit of a wait, but it's never long and it's always worth it. (Gluten-free pies are available upon request.)
The Taste Bar (Deck 5 midship): Fun every time, The Taste Bar offers up small plates -- sometimes one bite, sometimes three or four -- showing off the best of what the various dining rooms have to offer. Great for an as-you-walk-past snack or as an accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks, Taste Bar is open in the evenings before dinner.
Room Service: Room service is always available and always prompt, making it a key option for late-night hunger. The menu features free and paid options (ranging from $1.50 to $6), but whether you order from the free or paid menu, it's good form to give your delivery person a cash tip. Free options include salads and a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, as well as desserts (cookies, cake, fruit salad, cheesecake). There's also a continental breakfast option, provided you put the door hanger menu out before 5 a.m. or make arrangements the night before. Beverage options include juice, coffee, tea and milk (including chocolate milk) for free, and soft drinks and limited alcoholic beverages at regular bar prices.
The Chef's Table (Deck 5, aft); $75 to $95: Easily the most exclusive dining option on Liberty, The Chef's Table is open to only 14 diners. (Book at the ship's information desk; first come, first served.) It takes place once per cruise and includes a private cocktail reception, galley tour led by the chef and a multicourse dinner in the galley, library or other nontraditional dining venue.
Jardin Cafe (Deck 5, aft); a la carte pricing: The ship's coffee shop, Jardin Cafe serves up what you expect in a coffee shop: caffeine-laced drinks and tasty baked goods. On the menu you'll find espresso, lattes, cappuccinos and other hot and cold coffee drinks as well as a bakery case full of cookies, cakes, torts and treats. Expect to pay between $2 and $5, depending on what you order.
Green Eggs and Ham Breakast (Golden Olympian Dining Room); $5 per person: At the Dr. Seuss Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast you'll find a straightforward, though whimsically named and decorated, menu of eggs, French toast, cereal, pancakes and waffles.
The Seafood Shack (Deck 9, aft); a la carte pricing: Located at the back of the ship and open for lunch and dinner, The Seafood Shack serves fresh seafood in a variety of preparations. Fried buffalo shrimp, fried clams, crabcake sliders, a lobster roll or lobster BLT, a fried seafood platter, even steamed lobster and snow crab legs are all up for grabs here. You'll pay market price for high-end items like lobster and snow crab legs, but everything else is $5 to $12 and worth it.
Diamonds Steakhouse (Deck 10, aft); $35: The best meal experience we had on the Liberty, Diamonds Steakhouse is a bargain at $35. This steakhouse menu is gourmet, but accessible, and cuts like filet mignon, a bone-in rib eye and New York strip are offed up alongside a fresh catch, lobster tail and lamb chops. Add to this a great selection of appetizers -- beef carpaccio, escargots, an outstanding shrimp cocktail -- and some tremendous desserts and you've got a meal to remember. The wine list and cocktail menu are equally impressive, with bottles, glasses and cocktails to suit any taste.
Room Service: Always available and always fast, room service offers up a short but essential menu of free and paid dishes. Extra fee items range from sandwiches and salads to wings, quesadillas, a Philly cheesesteak, pizza and fries; there's also a small selection of soft drinks and alcoholic beverages. Paid menu items range from $1.50 to $6. Remember to tip your delivery person a couple of bucks when your food arrives.