Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean: Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by steuerm

Carnival Liberty 5

Overall Member Rating

Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: February 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
This was an 8 day cruise, stopping at Costa Maya and Limon, Costa Rica and Colon, Panama. Although this new ship was packed with families on winter break in February, the crowd was handled rather well, in our opinion as experienced cruisers. For example, despite the long line at embarkation, stretching from room to room to room, it kept moving in an orderly fashion. Carnival recommends filling out all your information in advance to speed your registration, but there was no preferred line for that, as with other cruise companies. Still, it went smoothly.

Although we had requested an early-late dining room seating [8:00 pm rather than 8:30 pm], we were given the late-late seating. This turned out to be no problem at all, because the late-late seating is in the more convenient Golden Olympian Dining Room with easier access than the Silver Olympian, especially to the Venetian Lounge for the show. Entertainment was generally excellent. This was our third Carnival cruise and we More generally like the variety of shows. The two spectacle shows made ample use of the complex stagecraft on this new ship.

Our balcony cabin was very comfortable, and just like others wed experienced on the Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend. Service in the dining room was excellent, with us getting out in plenty of time for the show, except for one late night due to a kitchen mishap. The food was not spectacular, but it was certainly tasty, with always enough variety for our palates. We never opted for the supper club, although our table mates tried it once and enjoyed it immensely. The Lido buffet [Emiles] was laid out very well for the large crowd aboard, with several stations from which to choose. A word of advice: Look for the FishnChips on the mezzanine level of the buffet. My only complaint is that the buffet should be open longer for days in port, because many people came back hungry after 3 pm and then had to wait on the long line at the grill or the pizza or the deli. Unfortunately, this is a malady of most cruise ships.

As for the ports, Costa Maya was a substitute for the original stop in Cozumel, changed because of last summers hurricane damage. We were told by friends whod cruised earlier to opt for the ships Jungle Beach Break excursion. It was certainly nice, although the beach was not quite as clean as other Caribbean beaches wed been to. It was also a 40 minute bus ride each way to the beach. We spoke to other cruisers who merely jumped in a local van for a short ride to the nearby fishing village, which had its own small beach. The Mexicans do provide for a nice experience for those who wish to stay at the pier itself, with a shopping mall, local entertainment, and a large swimming pool with a swim up bar.

Wed previously been to Limon, Costa Rica, and the ship is correct in recommending shore excursions, since the town itself has just a few shops to offer. On this trip we took the Nature Walk, which was a nice experience, accompanied by a long but scenic bus ride. Based on our past experiences, Id recommend the Tortugero Canal boat ride, if youd like to see lots of animals. The aerial tram ride over the rain forest is a nice experience, but we saw few animals. People we spoke to on this cruise said the same.

As for Colon, Panama, although the ship does not pass through the canal, there are many ways to experience it via excursions, also highly recommended. Most people took the ferry ride through the canal itself. The Embera Indian tour is also an enlightening experience. This time, we opted for the bus trip to Panama City, with a stop to visit the locks of the canal. This was a very interesting trip across the isthmus to the Pacific Ocean in ninety minutes. Panama City is a city of contrasts with very old and very modern architecture. We were glad to be on the ships excursion, because we got back late and the ship waited, of course.

The only downside to our cruise was the apparent sloppiness of the crew in keeping the public areas clean at the beginning. Although the dining room staff and the buffet staff were quick to bus the tables, room service dishes were left in the hallways all day, and it seemed that dishes on deck were never picked up until sunset. My three calls to the Pursers Office just produced a were too busy response. On the third evening, at the past guests reception, I met with the Hotel Director, who listened very attentively. After that, the ship seemed to be much cleaner. So my advice is, if youre not satisfied, speak up. They do aim to please.

The outside decks were adequate to handle the crowd. If you dont want to sit near the noisy central swimming pool [we dont], youll have adequate sitting in other areas. Of all the ships Ive been on, I notice that Carnival stands out as the one that always has extra deck lounges available, despite the many people. By the way, the Jacuzzis in the aft of the ship are marked adults only, and usually have a security guard stationed there to enforce the rule.

The spa and gymnasium were attractive and new. Theres an indoor Jacuzzi that did not seem to get crowded. The saunas and steam rooms had glass windows so users could stare out at the sea, a nice idea.

All in all, this was a wonderful experience, even the outdoor movie screen over the swimming pool, which presented a variety of films and all sorts of concerts from rock to Broadway to classical, with excellent sound quality. The cruise director John was a panic, albeit corny. I missed him when he took ill on the last two days.

A new experience on this ship was being able to disembark early by carrying our own luggage. We had to get up at 6 am to do this, but it was only an hour before the others. It was easy enough to disembark, and we avoided most of the crowd on the pier and at the airport, a definite plus since we had an early plane to catch on this Sunday after a holiday week.

For those who like a mega ship with a large well managed crowd and an interesting itinerary, linked to four restful days at sea, we highly recommend the Carnival Liberty. Less

Published 03/31/06

Cabin review: 8C8232 Balcony

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