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

Carnival Liberty 5
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Carnival Liberty - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: March 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
My husband and I went to the Western Caribbean on the Liberty as first time cruisers, celebrating our 25th anniversary. We live in Maine and looked forward to warm temperatures and sunshine!

We flew from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale on day of embarkation. Having never done this before, we didnt consider the possibility that weather could impact the embarkation plans. In the future (yes, we WILL do this again!) we will fly in day before and stay overnight nearby. There were no travel complications, but I can certainly see how there could be! Also, had we been in port the day of embarking, we could have gotten on board much, much sooner and done some exploring that could have saved us getting lost a couple of times! I was apprehensive when the shuttle pulled up and the line went around the building into the parking lot, but it moved very quickly, and though it was a long line that snaked it's way around, we got through in about an hour.

Our stateroom was on the Panorama More Deck, which I absolutely loved! I could throw on my swimsuit, walk down the hall, and go right into the pool or hot tub, bypassing the elevators and stairs. Also, when disembarking, we were called first for the self-serve disembarkment, but more on that later. The balcony was worth it  didnt use it much, but loved going out there in the middle of the night during the full moon  lovely, peaceful, relaxing&.sigh! I dont have anything to compare to, though I have to say in the future, I would spend more to be in a suite. Room size wasnt the issue  I REALLY, REALLY wanted a bathtub after so much walking! And while the hot tub was near enough to me, it was almost always jam-packed with people.

The ship is amazing. I still dont see how something so big can float, but thats my hang up! Lovely dEcor, lots to see. Heard some people complaining about the dEcor, which is a tribute to art but frankly saw nothing worth complaining about here. The outdoor large screen is great, loved watching a movie (even though Id seen it before!) in the outdoors that way  and unlike the old drive-ins  never needed bug spray! Shopping was limited  had a heck of a time finding sunscreen that wasnt an 8 for example, but adequate. On the other hand, if you want to buy some tanzanite, do it on board  it is actually less expensive than on shore. Nice stuff in the jewelry store, and a great opportunity to get some duty-free deals.

Everyone said plan on gaining weight during the cruise. Guess what  came back at the same exact weight as when I left. Its all about choice on that I guess. The food was amazing  just dont eat everything to excess! Taste a lot, and move on. Didnt get into Harrys, as I didnt call soon enough, so word to the wise: When the cruise director informs you the first day to call that afternoon  DO IT! Wait until that evening, you just wont make it! We went on to a waiting list, and never heard anything, even though I called to check in. One thing did confuse me  I ran into people twice who had just eaten there, and both of them said the same thing  it was amazing! But both said that the restaurant was not full that evening and could have accommodated more. Not sure what to make of that. Lesson learned, I guess! The dining room menu was good. My husband did enjoy it more than I did, as I am not a big seafood fan, and once or twice had trouble finding something I really wanted. One thing I didnt know in advance which was cool..if you dont like something, exchange it! If you love something, get more. Awesome concept  wish we could do that in a real restaurant! The best part about it were the tablemates we had  we were all within the same 5 years of each other, and by the end of the cruise, we had collected emails and contact info and plan on doing another one all together! Dont know if some computer figures out whod mesh or if it was a fluke, but it was awesome! The midnight buffet was a sight to behold! A lot of work goes into the event, and you can tell! Ice carvings are captivating, presentation is stupendous, and the food was good. Did have a hard time though, as the midnight buffet was really a 12:30 buffet  once I got my plate of food, I was simply too tired to eat it!

My husband dined at the Fish N Chips restaurant (while I was enjoying the Spa!) and said the food there was very good. Had the Calamari and Shrimp both, had high praise.

Drinks were always in abundance  and I was surprised at the prices. Very reasonable unless you went really top-shelf. And they certainly werent stingy with the amount of alcohol they put into the drinks! I never drink to a buzz, but came pretty close after 2 daiquiris (I know  cheap date!)

Service was great  never had a complaint about any service we received. The waitstaff works incredibly hard, and the tips that are doled out by Carnival on our behalf is just not enough. If we left our room, when we came back, someone had come in and cleaned. If we needed a refill in the dining room, it was done as soon as our glass was half full. Occasionally, when on deck, had to look around for a person to take a drink order, but hey, the bar is right there, so no big deal to get it for yourself.

We had absolutely no idea on what to expect for entertainment. I have to say, the best entertainment was the spontaneous kind  the cruise director John did a super job of being quick in any given situation. I did wonder at times if things were set-ups, (just ask anyone from the cruise about Willy Banger or the Bedtime Story )but even if these were plants I didnt care  I laughed so hard I cried many evenings. The dancers are talented  not quite Broadway or Vegas, but still good. The comedian was good, but frankly John was funnier! (No offense to the comedian!) Walking around, we poked our heads into several lounges with singers and found them impressive, but didnt spend an evening in any one. Have to say, they spent a lot of time filling in with Bingo in between shows, got a little tired of that! Did worry a bit about being on board with spring-breakers, but they were only tiresome once. Others may have had a different experience, but ours was okay.

As far as excursions go, have to say the best one, quite frankly, was the one where we did nothing! Next time I cruise, I plan on doing less in terms of excursions. We did the Tranquility Beach break the first day in Freeport  very, very relaxing! Oh, and if the Banana Boat comes by, dont do it. It is not part of the planned activities there, and liability seemed to be an issue. And of course, someone did get hurt on that one. Food there was okay, but nothing to write home about. Water was great, though not a lot of people went in. I did, and spent a great deal of time just floating around. Others thought it was cold, me, I thought it was bath water (hey, I live in Maine! It WAS bath water to me!) The next stop was the Caymans. Our tour guide was great  the tour was so-so. Hell was a little lame. Expected much more than the not very large rock formation. The turtle farm was very interesting, but not something I care really to do again. Was a little mortified to learn that this was just like a cattle farm  thought they were breeding as the turtles were endangered  not the case. Still interesting, and they allow you to handle the turtles, which you may never get to do again! (Just make sure you bring some Purell or something  the turtles are kind of dirty) The stingrays were another story  an amazing experience! I never, ever thought I would hold a 4 foot wide stingray, but you can there. They feel kinda like a big blob of Jell-O in a baggie. Weird, and they are so docile! The drivers for the boat we were on were a hoot  we had to kill some time after we left the stingrays, so we sort of took a joyride around the reef. We parked the boat, and people started jumping into the water and getting back on  lots of fun and not planned for. We saw a sea turtle swimming around while we were there, and our guide decided to jump in and play with it  again, was fun to experience. If you get the chance to do that part of the excursion, try to sit on the front of the boat  and dont forget the sunscreen! Last stop was Costa Maya. I see this as a place that is on the brink of becoming way more touristy. If you can see it now before it does, it will be worth it. We did the Chacchoben Ruins  but not through Carnival. If you get the chance to do it, try doing it through The Native Choice. They offer a great tour, good price, and the guide, Davide Villagomez, is a terrific guide. He is a native, has trained under his grandmother as the medicine woman in traditional medicine. You will learn a lot, see something amazing, and be captivated listening to Davide, who once used the ruins as a playground. Their website is . It was a hot, hot day, so advise bringing plenty of water and dont forget a hat.

When it came time to disembark, it was a piece of cake, though I truly didnt expect it to be! Do the self serve option, and you are out of there in no time. I think we were among the first 15 off the ship  which was a pleasant surprise! In fact, we were so early in getting to the airport, we couldnt even check our bags yet! But Id rather do it that way than wait around worrying if wed get to the airport in time. Dont know if everyone had that same experience, but with planning, one can.

A couple of future notes  I wont ever bring as much stuff with me as I did this time  and bring more shorts  I brought 2 pair  couldve used a couple more. Formal night is formal but not as formal as I thought. There were men in just nice shirts and pants and few in tuxes. Women though, did take the opportunity to dress up  well of course we did! Another note  bring along a change of clothes in your carry-on  I felt all grubby from traveling, and it was casual. I brought a change, but it was more dressy than it needed to be that first night. Sunscreen  bring a lot  we went through a whole bottle, and when it came time to get more, they only had up to an 8 NOT enough for me  I am a fair-skinned blonde 25 is more my speed!

All in all, we had a great time. One complaint  I booked it as our 25th anniversary, and was surprised they dont do anything to acknowledge that unless you pay for it. In my eyes, if someone is celebrating a silver anniversary, a bottle of champagne or flowers NOT purchased by the couple would be a nice gesture. We spend plenty, I am sure something extra like that wouldnt break them! Even a single rose on the bed, something complimentary would make for a more memorable occasion. Oh, and the only other complaint  I thoroughly enjoyed the Spa treatment. BUT did not enjoy the really expensive sales pitch for the products  talk about guilting one into a purchase! I have a medical condition, and gotta tell you, she was good  very convincing in telling me I had to have these products to continue to feel good. Buy the stuff and you will break your budget!

Bottom line - Plan well, take problems in stride, and don't try to do EVERYTHING! Relax, kick back a little, and don't hesitate taking a cruise on the Liberty. Less

Published 04/10/06

Cabin review: 8C1031 Balcony

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