Carnival Liberty - Eastern Caribbean: Carnival Liberty Cruise Review by BettyCruiser
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Liberty - Eastern Caribbean
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
We are in our early 40s, not married and have no kids. We have been on 13 previous cruises most of which were to the Caribbean; 4 RCCL, 4 NCL, 2 Princess, 2 Carnival and 1 Celebrity. After reading countless reviews that others have taken the time to contribute, this is my first cruise review. Please keep in mind this is my opinion based on my experience.
Our adventure began early Thursday February 2 at the airport. We flew American Airlines for the first time. Being from Minneapolis we normally fly Northwest Airlines, but they have been dealing with labor strikes and bankruptcy, so to avoid complications related to that we booked with American. We chose a cheap fare that required a stop in Dallas, which made for a long day; we have booked non-stops for our next cruise. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale at about 5PM. We prefer to fly in at least one day early since you never now what kind of delays might occur. We More would hate to miss the ship because of weather of mechanical delays.
In the past we have always stayed on 17th Street near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. This time we decided to try a place by the beach. I booked two nights at the Holiday Inn at the beach through Hotwire. Hotwire listed this hotel as a three star; it definitely isnt comparable to other three star hotels I have booked through Hotwire. This property is tired and worn, has no bell service and a slow and under staffed front desk. I do not recommend this hotel and will not stay there again. Another downside about the beach area was the higher cab fare. I think we were brought on a ride by the cab from the airport to the hotel which cost us $35 and took the highways to Sunrise and then over to the beach, it seems to me that it would have been quicker and cheaper to go down 17th and then along the beach. We will go back to 17th Street and forget about the beach for future cruises out of Fort Lauderdale.
Thursday evening we went to dinner with a couple we had previously cruised with. We ate at the Old Florida Seafood Restaurant. The food was very good and very plentiful. The bread basket was over flowing with several varieties. I ordered a seafood pasta dish. There was so much pasta that it could have fed four people. I ate all the seafood and some of the pasta. Other dishes ordered were fried oysters and a dish containing a variety of fried seafood. Everyone enjoyed their choice. This restaurant isnt near the port or the beach but is definitely worth the trip if you have a rental car.
Friday morning we went to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art to see the King Tut exhibit. We had purchased tickets in October, we chose an early time so that we would have plenty of time after for other Fort Lauderdale activities. At the King Tut exhibit we met up with some Cruise Critic friends that we will be cruising with this fall. We all went to the Hard Rock hotel and casino in Hollywood Florida where we found the drinks to be expensive and the gaming machines to be very confusing, something to do with bingo. We had lunch at the Mexican Restaurant there, very tasty burritos and margaritas! Our friends dropped us off at the River Walk area where we stopped at the Ugly Tuna Saloon and was disappointed to see that Hooters at the River Walk was closed. Next we hopped on the water taxi to go down to the Las Olas Blvd. stop where we stopped in at the Mangos for a couple drinks. We have eaten lunch here on a previous visit when I enjoyed a tasty mahi-mahi sandwich. We were surprised that the water taxi had raised the all day fare from $5 to $7. The water taxi is a much more enjoyable experience than the crazy taxis in this city, most of which feel like they are about ready to fall apart as you ride in them. We hopped back on the water taxi in time to make it to the Marriott for a pre-cruise meeting of the CC folks that were able to make it. We had a good group of about 5-6 couples that were able to make it, new friendships were started even before the cruise! We decided to skip the water taxi and took one of those scary taxi rides back to the hotel. Being several hours since lunch we set out to find dinner near our hotel. We found a great hole-in-the-wall kind of place right around the corner from the hotel. They served pizza and burgers; we opted for a pizza to go. We were pleasantly surprised as we ate some fantastic pizza the night before we were to board the ship.
Saturday morning we boarded the Carnival Liberty that would be our home for the next 8 days. Previous Carnival cruises were on Triumph and Carnival Spirit. I had wanted to try the Conquest class and the Liberty was practically brand new at the time. We arrived at the pier between 10:30 and 11:00; and were on the ship by noon with instructions not to go to our staterooms until 1:30. We chose an inside cabin with bunk beds, most of which were on deck one; we were able to book one on deck seven. The room was very spacious since the second bed came down from the ceiling. There were two hanging closets and a third closet that had four shelves that could be folded up if you preferred a third hanging closet. There were also four small drawers in the desk; the top one had a hard wired hair dryer. We had plenty of space to put all our clothes away. We had everything unpacked before the muster drill. The only complaint I have about my room is that the shower had extremely weak water pressure. To increase the pressure we turned the massage selector to the most restricted setting. We ate in the Silver dining room for dinner all but two nights, I enjoyed all meals there. My only complaint about the dining room food is that I dont care for the salad dressing served with the regulars salads, so after the first night I ordered the salad that came pre-tossed in a special dressing. I also enjoyed several of the featured pastas that are always available as a starter. Of course the desserts were fabulous and if you couldnt decide which one to have they would bring one of each! As with the other Carnival ships Ive been on there is a second dining room in the middle of the ship which make it impossible to get through on some decks. The casino was very smoky so I didnt spend much time there, but thanks to information provided by previous CC cruisers we were able to capitalize on their generous Wheel of Fortune slot machines.
Back to food, I ate breakfast and lunch from the buffet. There was a made to order omelet bar right next to the pool. I also had cheese burgers from the grill, pizza and sandwiches from the deli. I have no complaints about food on this ship, everything I tried was delicious. Most nights before dinner we stopped at the Paparazzi bar for a martini and enjoyed talking with the bartender Adrianna. We also became quick friends with Aleksander our favorite pool area bar server.
Our room attendant was scarce, but since our only issue was with the water pressure there wasnt any reason for much interaction. I found a nice place to sit and read in the shade that was on the level 3 outside promenade deck. The loungers were very comfy and had extra thick pads.
I love the decoration of the newer Carnival ships; they are more rich and traditional instead of the old neon style. The lights in the atrium and the indoor promenade were really cool, how they changed color. There was a formal portrait area that had these lights in the background and I think it always had the longest line. Another observation regarding this ship is that there arent very many public restrooms throughout the ship. And considering recent concerns regarding Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships I found it interesting that the public bathrooms did not have paper towels, only air dryers. They did however have little tissue dispensers on the door to use when opening the door. I would think that the absence of paper towels would increase the incidence of people not washing when using the public restroom and increasing the spread of bacteria causing Noroviruses. I did not hear of anyone suffering from a Norovirus while on this cruise so this point may be irrelevant, but I do prefer to have paper towels available for me in public restrooms in general. I didnt attend any of the shows so I cant comment of them.
Our first sea day started out cloudy and rainy, but by 3PM the weather was more pleasant. This would be the first formal night of the cruise, but several from our group had decided to forgo the dining room to watch the Superbowl. We secured several lounge chairs at the main pool so we had prime seats to watch the game on the big screen above the pool area. We had previously cruised on the Caribbean Princess so that we had experienced the big screen at the pool already. Each ship utilizes the big screen in different ways. The CP had played only previously recorded movies and concerts on the big screen, while the Liberty used pre-recorded and broadcast material. The Liberty also used the big screen for movie trivia games. Our first stop was San Juan, Puerto Rico we arrived Monday evening about 5PM. We didnt book any tours. We stopped at Hard Rock cafe to pick up a couple souvenirs then proceeded to Senior Frogs and met up with the rest of our group. Senior Frogs was the site of much drinking, dancing and shots! Since our next port was St. Thomas and I was planning on diving, we didnt stay in town too late, but we did miss dinner in the dining room for a second night. Upon returning to the ship we stopped at the deli for sandwiches and the pizzeria. As on the Spirit the Liberty has awesome pizza.
On Tuesday we stopped in St. Thomas, the Liberty docks at what is called Crown Bay, previously known as the sub station. Ships that dont require immigration dock here. This docking area is not as convenient as Havensight because currently there isnt any shopping near the pier. It does look like they are in the process of building some shopping at the pier; soon it should be similar to the shops at the pier in St. Maarten. First we took a cab downtown to buy our liquor, which will be sent directly to the ship for us, the cab fare was $6 per person. Then we took a cab from downtown to Coki Beach to meet up with most of our group. Some were snorkeling; some were doing the uncertified dive. I am a certified scuba diver. Another of our group was also certified, we had decided to dive together. The Coki Beach dive operation is very casual and affordable since its a beach dive and no boat is involved. For $30 we could rent all the necessary equipment and after a briefing of the area the two of us were able to dive together or we could have paid $10 more to dive with a group, we opted to dive on our own. We dove out and around Coral World, we didnt see anything particularly interesting and the visibility wasnt that great that day. But it was a good dive none the less. We hit a max depth of about 50 feet and had a good swim against a current on the way back to the beach. After the dive I was very thirsty. We found several different vendors at this beach competing with each other, so the beers were rather inexpensive and very cold. I was pretty tired after the dive so went straight back to the ship and didnt do anymore shopping while in St. Thomas.
Our next stop was Antigua. While we were in Antigua we went on a boat ride that went all the way around the island, it was a tour that we booked through Carnival called See Antigua by Sea. It was a catamaran style boat with diesel engines, not a sailboat which I tend to assume when I read catamaran. Along the way we stopped at a beach where we could swim and snorkel. While we were at the beach lunch was cooking on a grill at the back of the boat. We had a choice of fish or chicken, I picked fish and it was delicious. The east side of the island is the Atlantic Ocean which is very rough seas, Im glad I took my Bonine. The Infinity was at Antigua the same day as us, a friend from a previous cruise was on board. We were able to meet near the pier for a short visit, but our shore excursion took most of our time in port.
On Thursday we stopped at Tortola. We had been to Tortola once before on a cruise and really enjoyed it, this stop was one of the primary reasons for choosing this sailing. We went on another boat ride here, an excursion booked through Carnival called the Virgin Island Sailaway. This excursion was on a large catamaran sailboat. This time we stopped to snorkel at Norman Island, which was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevensons Treasure Island. The snorkeling here was the best, the water here was so clear you could see for at least 100 feet through the water. Then we stopped at a beach and enjoyed some rum punch.
Friday was our second sea day. Today the chair hogs were out in force. We normally get to the pool early to get a prime spot the difference with us is we actually sit in the lounger all day rather than leaving our towels to do the job. Today 7:30 was not early enough for a good chair; we ended up on the windy top deck off to the side. All the loungers on the tiered levels contained towels and I kept my eye on them. Several chairs remained unoccupied by people, holding only their towel for more than two hours! This is one of my pet peeves, use the chair or let someone else! When we were on the Caribbean Princess the pool attendants would mark empty chairs and if they were still unoccupied 30 minutes later, the stuff left on the chairs would be removed so that someone could actually use the chair.
Our last stop on the cruise before going back to Florida was Nassau in the Bahamas. We had been to this port on our previous cruise just a few months ago, so we didnt book any tours this time. We got off the ship and did a little shopping and had some nachos at Hard Rock Cafe. Last time at this port we had taken the Yellow Bird tour to Pearl Island. It was a nice boat ride but I wasnt very impressed by Pearl Island. Several years ago on a stop here we had done a tour that stop at Atlantis. Atlantis is a fun place to visit; it seems to me that it should be on the strip in Las Vegas rather than the Bahamas.
On Sunday we were back in Fort Lauderdale Florida. We were in for a shock; it was very cold and windy that day. We had to get our winter coats out of our luggage to stay warm. This was the easiest debarkation that I have ever experienced. I try to stay away from FLL airport during the weekend; it is such a small airport with so many cruisers going through it on the weekend. We had booked a room at the Hyatt Pier 66 for tonight. We were off the ship and at the hotel before 9AM. Since it was so early we couldnt get our room assignment right away. Normally I would sit out by the pool, but because of the weather we had to settle for a sofa in the lobby to read and wait. At 11AM I stopped back at the desk and they were able to find a clean room for us in the tower over looking the canal and ocean beyond. This hotel has been recently renovated and everything was brand new, very nice. I definitely recommend this property for pre or post cruise stays. After finding the warmest clothes in our suitcase we changed and proceeded to the Bahia Mar Cafe, next to the marina, to meet some friends from the cruise. We made the most of the chilly weather and had a fun lunch with some of our new cruise friends. After lunch we walked down to Beach Place and stop at Lulus Bait Shop, Hooters and Sloppy Joes, finding it hard to give up the habit of drinking all day. Had the weather cooperated these venues would be more enjoyable, but at least we know where they are now. Then finding it hard to let go just yet we had dinner at Bravo on 17th Street with our new cruise friends. The food was yummy, especially the garlic bread. Very early the next morning we were at the airport and on our way back home.
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and the ship. We also started many new and wonderful friendships. We are grateful that Cruise Critic provides this forum for information exchange and the opportunity to interact with follow passengers before and after cruising. We look forward to many future cruises and meeting more cruise enthusiasts like ourselves. Less
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