Carnival Liberty Western Caribbean Thanksgiving Week: Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by markbach

Carnival Liberty 4
Member Since 2012
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Carnival Liberty Western Caribbean Thanksgiving Week

Sail Date: November 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Miami
We (myself and my girlfriend, in our early 30s) and my parents (in their 60s) decided to book this cruise for Thanksgiving week since we all had vacation time and wanted to spend the week together. We chose this cruise mainly based on the ports and the timing (Sat-Sat) that worked out for all of us. My parents are Platinum on Carnival and this was my first cruise on Carnival and second overall.

We all flew in the night before and stayed at the Embassy Suites by MIA, which is a typical Embassy Suites, not much to be said. We ordered a van cab for the four of us to get to the cruise terminal, which ran about $35 with surcharges, tolls, and tip.

We got there about 10:30, and since my parents are Platinum, we were able to get all of the luggage tagged with the orange FTTF and VIP stickers. We went inside and checked in the VIP desk which is downstairs from the main check-in area. Waited in the VIP area until they called us for boarding about 11:30. We were able to get More right on board and not only were the rooms ready, but the bags were already sitting outside waiting for us.

The muster drill was the usual chaos, then we went up to the Serenity deck for sail away, which wash't too crowded and had great views.

The Taste Bar on the Promenade has small sampling plates from the different venues from 5:30-8:30 a few days during the cruise, and it was always great to get a little snack before dinner. I wish it was open every night, or they brought back the sushi bar (which is replaced) on the rest of the days.

We had a table for the four of us in the Silver dining room for the late dinner, which ended up being a booth next to 2 large tables (a 50th anniversary and a wedding) which tended to be very loud during dinner. We did the MDR for dinner all but one night, which we went to the steakhouse (more on that in a bit). The MDR dinners were very hit or miss... some dishes were awesome and others were barely edible. I like to order several dishes to try them all, and they seemed to be thrown off by this, as sometimes I'd get a stack of dishes in front of me all at once and other times I'd get one at a time with long waits between them (even though they were sitting on the console waiting to be delivered). The desserts were kind of a let-down... I'm a huge chocoholic, and since they had the warm chocolate melting cake every night (which varied from runny to perfectly cooked, depending on the day), there wasn't much else on the dessert menu that appealed to me.

Because it was Thanksgiving week, they switched some of the menus around so that the one with turkey on it would be on Thursday, but the TV never reflected these changes, which caused some surprises.

On sea days, instead of MDR breakfast or lunch, they have a Punchliner comedy brunch in the Golden dining room. This was, by far, the worst food we had the entire time, and the comics weren't that great either.

On the Lido deck, the burgers were a hit with everyone, and the burritos and tacos from the Blue Iguana were great as well. We also liked the fish and chips and fritters from upstairs. Even the pizza was pretty good... I was expecting the worst, but apparently they changed it up recently and it's much better now.

On the first sea day, we went to the dining room for the tea service, which was pretty nice. They have a decent selection of pastries and cakes, a few finger sandwiches, and of course, tea. I had planned to ask my girlfriend to marry me at the first formal night dinner, but since we had a booth in a high-traffic area, I decided to do it during tea time. She accepted and we got some nice pictures against the water from the back of the dining room.

On Sunday, we went to the sports bar to watch some football. They advertised in the Fun TImes they would have certain games available, but they weren't able to get them, which nearly caused a riot among some die-hard fans. We just sat there and drank our Thirsty Frogs and had a good time anyway. It gets very crowded during popular games, so go early if you want a seat. The sports bar is really a highlight of this ship... we kept going back there even during off-peak times to have some drinks and chat with the bartenders.

We were a little hesitant based on the $35/person cover charge, but we tried the steakhouse one night and were very impressed with the food and service. The only thing that wasn't great was the cheesecake, which was light and airy and not dense and creamy like it should be.

The normal cruise director (Karl) was on vacation, so our CD was Jacques. He was all right, but nothing special, and there wasn't a whole lot of entertainment on the schedule. We found out some of this was due to performers being on vacation, but there also wasn't a whole lot of trivia, games, or other mid-day activities. We did go to Scattergories and trivia when it was available, and Ken, who led those was one of the highlights of the staff. He did his best to make sure everyone (especially the families with kids) got a "fabulous gold plastic ship" at some point during the cruise.

I've covered the ports in separate reviews. The only thing to note here is that the tendering process is a little annoying. You have to go to the Promenade and get a tender sticker and then wait until your group is called, which can easily take an hour or more if it's a long tender like in Belize. Luckily, since my parents had Platinum cards, we could skip this process and just board the first available tender.

I know Carnival attracts a different crowd than Royal Caribbean, and being Thanksgiving week there were tons of families, but I just couldn't get over how rude some of the guests were. They would yell and scream at the staff, constantly cut in lines, leave dirty dishes and half-eaten food all over the place, and run around like they owned the ship. Of course, we also met lots of nice people, especially in the hot tubs, and almost all of the children we encountered were very well behaved.

Overall, we had a great time... for the price that we paid, we got a great relaxing vacation and got to see some interesting places. I'd probably go back on Carnival if it were another one of their 2.0 ships and the price/destinations was right. Less

Published 11/29/12

Cabin review: 4E7428 Interior

nice location near the back of the ship, close to the elevators/stairs, but not close enough that you get any noticeable foot traffic.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Belize is a total dump... even the tourist zone where you get off the tender is a craphole. We turned right around and went back to the boat after 20 minutes. Definitely book an excursion here or don't bother getting off the boat.

The main goal of our day in Cozumel was to find some reliable wifi to skype/call family and friends to pass along the news of our engagement, so the plan was to find a McDonalds or Starbucks and camp out there. Getting off the ship was easy, and once you walk through the Carnival pier area, it was an $11 USD cab ride (for 4 people) to downtown. Downtown is kind of run down and a lot of shops are closed/empty, so it was a challenge finding somewhere that was open and had free wifi. McDonalds is gone and Starbucks had a sign posted saying their internet wasn't working. We tried Carlos and Charlies, which worked reasonably well until they opened up at 10am and started blaring music. We eventually ended up at one of the restaurants on the strip overlooking the beach, and had a few beers and some chips while we used their internet. After that, we were tired of being harrassed every 5 feet by vendors and store owners, so we just caught a cab ($7 for 2) back to the ship. On the way back to the boat, you go through a large duty free mall. I stopped for a second to look at prices on some liquor and I suddenly had one of the clerks following me around the entire store until I left. Overall, Cozumel is a lot more run down than it used to be. There's not much high-end shopping left, and the rest is all the same ponchos and sombreros and tequila as you can find anywhere else in Mexico. Next time I'd skip downtown and book an excursion or go to the beach instead.
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It was very windy and the waters were rough, so we had to tender near Spotts Bay instead of Georgetown as planned. From there, it's a $5 USD/person shared cab ride to Georgetown and $7 USD/person shared cab ride to 7-mile Beach. We had originally planned to go to Calico Jacks on the advice of some folks on this site, but we just hopped in a cab to 7-Mile, figuring we'd go where ever it took us. It ended up dropping off right in front of Calico Jack's, which was perfect. We got there early enough that we were able to secure a picnic table on the beach. They used to have rows of chairs for rental. but hurricane Sandy had washed away most of their beach, so there wasn't any room. They do have showers, changing rooms, and bathrooms available for use, and some chair/umbrella rentals a little further up the beach. They also have free wifi, which was nice for sending Thanksgiving greetings to friends and family. We got a bucket of local beers ($20 CI) and some conch fritters ($8 CI) and just chilled out and got in the water a little bit. The undertoe was pretty bad, so we didn't want to go too far out, but it was still nice. After we were done with the beach, we hopped in a shared cab from there to Georgetown ($5 USD/person) to look around. There's a lot of higher-end shopping and the usual duty free liquor and goods, but nothing we were interested in, so we went back to the ship.

We didn't book an excursion here either and just decided to hit the Mahogany Beach for the day. It's a 5-10 minute walk from the ship to the shopping area, and then a nice 8-10 minute walk from there to the beach. Don't waste money on the chair lift... walking's just as fast and we saw the chairs stop running at least 3 times during the day. The beach is gorgeous, you can just grab any of the white chairs for free and lay out or go in the water. We had hoped to rent some snorkel masks, but the water was really cloudy from storms that had come through the night before, so we decided to just swim instead. Unfortunately, it started pouring while we were there and didn't let up for a while, so we sought cover. There is wifi down at the beach area; it requires a login/password which was posted in the dining area by the picnic / ping pong tables. I'd definitely love to come back here when it's not raining and we can spend more than a few minutes in the water.
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