By Jason Frye
Cruise Critic Contributor
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Entertainment

Carnival Liberty Entertainment & Activities

From the Venetian Palace Main Lounge to the outdoor movie screen to the comedy club to the karaoke bar, there's always something going on aboard Liberty. The big productions in the Venetian go on twice per night, but smaller games and gatherings keep the theater occupied at other times. Movies show every night on the Lido Deck, and comics take the stage nightly at the ship's comedy club. There's plenty of music too, from DJs playing all day to music trivia to dance parties, and then nighttime sees the opening of the Piano Bar and more live musicians setting up around the ship.

But the ship is entertainment unto itself. From the pools to the people watching, you won't get bored.

Theater

The Venetian theater is something of a wonder. Brightly and flamboyantly decorated with stained glass, jesters' motley and vivid patterns, it's a riot to the eyes, and once the big productions get started, the added light and sound make it all the more riotous. In short, it's a fun venue.

During the day and on some evenings, the theater hosts bingo, Seuss-A-Palooza activities and game show-style gatherings (think Newlywed Game); but the real stars here are the performers and stagehands that put on the big shows. When big production shows take the stage there are two shows nightly. Shows include Just Rock, a tribute to classic rock songs from the ’50s through the ’80s; Wonderful World, a revue of international song and dance (which allows the international cast to show off bits of their heritage); and the Welcome Aboard Show, a pull-out-all-the-stops production designed to wow the audience (it does).

Daily Fun

The cruise director and the Fun Squad have activities planned all day, from morning shows that interject humor with news and trivia about the ship and the day's destination to games of bingo, trivia, karaoke, dance classes (dancers were teaching the Thriller dance on our sailing), and the family-friendly Dr. Seuss parades, readings and photo ops. Additionally there are ice-carving demos, cocktail competitions pitting BlueIguana Tequila Bar against RedFrog Rum Bar, art lectures and auctions (often with free Champagne) and even paper airplane challenges (it's tougher than you think and it draws more than just the class clowns from Camp Ocean). Trivia is held in a few venues around the ship and is themed to different interests: movie quotes, name the song, general trivia, television, nostalgia, sports, you name it.

And there are the usual wacky cruise contests and games, as well. The Very Hairy Chest Contest was followed by the Give Me Lip Contest (a lip sync battle) and that was just the start of things.

Most of the daily activities are related purely to entertainment or to enticing passengers to buy art, bingo cards, clothing, jewelry or duty-free items rather than relating to the Bahamian experience. On our cruise, we saw no opportunities to learn about the culture, history, food or art of the cities or islands we called on other than what was offered through shore excursions.

At Night

Every night the Dive-In Movies opened. This punny take on outdoor movies takes place around the Coney Island pool on the Lido Deck where a massive movie screen -- it's around 270 square feet -- and premium sound system are used to create an outdoor movie theater. They showed second-run films on our sailing ranging from "Doctor Strange" and "Central Intelligence" to "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "Trolls" and "The Secret Life of Pets" -- nothing beyond a PG-13 rating. Popcorn and towels (to use as blankets) were available and many of the lounge chairs on the Lido Deck and terraced spaces above were filled with movie watchers.

Night also brings more live performances. Musicians and DJs played in the Atrium, and the cruise director combined music trivia with a dance party. A cover band played at the Casino stage by the Promenade Bar, acoustic musicians bounced between venues, the Piano Bar got busy with nightly shows and at The Stage it was time for karaoke. Comedians take the stage nightly at Punchlines, a comedy club inside Victoria Lounge. Comedy shows come in two brands -- PG and Explicit -- and the club was packed for every show (get there early to get a seat and get your drink order in).

In the casino, there are nightly games and tournaments; one evening it might be Texas Hold'em, another blackjack. The casino, a mix of slots, electronic gaming machines and table games, gets busy as soon as it opens and it stays that way. Some nights the tables are more crowded than others, or you'll find most of the slot machines are occupied, or both. You can't tell until you get there, but most nights we saw plenty of people gambling and cashing in chips.

Singles meet-ups at Alchemy, LGBT gatherings, Serenity Nights (a grown-up meet and greet in Serenity), Veterans group meetings, and late-night DJ parties are also on the schedule each sailing.


Carnival Liberty Bars and Lounges

You'll find a bar onboard Liberty that suits your taste buds. With 11 drink venues to choose from, there's no shortage of cocktails, mocktails, beer or wine to be had. On the Lido Deck, the "competition" between the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar keeps things lively, while at Alchemy Bar the bartenders take their cocktails very seriously. Or you can take it easy in the Piano bar, sing your heart out with some karaoke or dance the night away in more than a few lounges across the ship.

Flowers Lobby & Bar (Deck 3, midship): The ship's lobby bar serves up a mix of wine and spirits, with a nice selection of flavored martinis, Champagne and daiquiris as well as soft drinks. Most evenings there's music here, ranging from acoustic guitar performances to a surprising duo playing contemporary hits on violins. All around are comfortable tables, clusters of chairs and couches for your lounging pleasure.

SkyBox Sports Bar (Deck 5, midship): SkyBox is Liberty's designated sports bar, where several televisions run sports on a continual loop, and the beer flows like, well, beer. They stock a good selection of domestic and import brews as well as a handful of craft beers including Carnival Cruise Line's own ThirstyFrog Red. Cocktails also grace the menu, so if you want a drink on the rocks or a specialty cocktail, you can have it. And when you get hungry, they've got bar-appropriate snacks: hot soft pretzels and peanuts in the shell.

Promenade Bar (Deck 5, midship): This wraparound bar in the casino puts you steps away from all the gaming you could ask for and gives you a front row seat to one of the small stages where a pretty good cover band performs nightly. When it's crowded, it's crowded with folks angling to order a drink or trying to get to the next gaming machine. This one is best early in the evening or just before closing. It's also the only bar on the ship where smoking is permitted.

Alchemy Bar (Deck 5, midship): Alchemy Bar feels like you've stepped away from the ship and into a hip speakeasy for a drink. The bartenders wear lab coats and take their cocktail making seriously. The drinks themselves are also serious and allow a show of technique and flavor mixing that's a surprise to find on a cruise ship. Pull up a seat at the bar or at one of the high, curved bar tables flanking Alchemy and watch the bartenders do their magic.

Hot & Cool Nightclub (Deck 5, midship): A light-up dance floor, a DJ who knows how to get people moving and bartenders slinging drinks as fast as you can order them. That's what to expect in Hot & Cool. As with a couple of other bars on the ship, this one has the ability to transport you to another place with the pumping music and edgy (for the ship) decor, especially when the hour grows late and the dance floor is crowded.

Piano Man Bar Bar (Deck 5, aft): The ship's loungy piano bar is surprisingly fun, despite being ever-so-slightly corny. A piano occupies the central space and a round bar -- that looks like a curved set of piano keys -- surrounds it. In the evenings it gets crowded with groups around the piano and at tables (which also look like pianos) around the room. The pianist's got a good voice and plays well, and interjects stories between the songs, making for a throwback vibe you don't often find.

The Stage Bar (Deck 5, aft): Two words: karaoke and cocktails. Those are the essentials when it comes to The Stage Bar. It's a place to drink up, let your hair down and unchain your inner rock star. The drinks are good, the karaoke selection is better but best of all is the atmosphere. Everyone here is out for a good time and it shows in their enthusiasm on and off the stage.

BlueIguana Bar (Deck 9, midship): This Lido Deck bar is all about tequila, except for the beer. The BlueIguana Bar keeps 10 tequilas and eight beers hailing from Mexico on hand to quench your thirst. Drinks include a michelada (a beer cocktail, yes, a beer cocktail), frozen margaritas, as well as regular margaritas, pitchers of margaritas and spiked lemonade. Don't be afraid to try something new, like a margarita with chipotle simple syrup.

RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 9, midship): Rum rules at RedFrog, on the Lido Deck. Ten rums on their menu go into an array of tropical drinks and mojitos in cocktail and frozen form, as well as a few pitchers of spiked drinks. There's also a small selection of bottled and draft beer, including brews from the Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Versailles Bar (Deck 9, aft): One of the quieter bars on the ship, Versailles sits almost forgotten in the aft near the pool and Pizza Pirate, which makes it the perfect place for a quick drink, a bite and a dip to cool off, or, as many passengers call it: the perfect combination.

Diamonds Steakhouse Bar (Deck 10, midship): The bar in Diamonds Steakhouse may be the most underutilized bar on the Liberty. Here you'll find elusive drinks like the Negroni and top shelf liquors. It's quiet and swank in here, and the bartenders are friendly.


Carnival Liberty Outside Recreation

Pools

There are two main pools and three hot tub areas on Carnival Liberty. The Coney Island Pool, the largest, is located midship on Deck 9, while a smaller pool, Versailles, is located in the aft; hot tubs are located next to the Coney Island and Versailles pools, as well as in the Serenity adults-only retreat. Around each pool there is ample seating, most of it in the sun (the aft pool has some shaded areas, but the others are totally exposed). At Coney Island, the pool sits in the middle of a walkway, but there are seats adjacent, as well as at the RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar; additional seating, and the hot tubs, are arranged on tiers leading up to Deck 10 and on Deck 10 itself. The water slide starts on Deck 11 and terminates on Deck 10 near the hot tubs. At the back of the ship, the Versailles Pool is lined on two sides with rows of lounge chairs and twin hot tubs flank its back. Above, a seating area on an open deck looks down on the pool. The Versailles Pool can be covered, but the roof is retracted in all but the worst weather.

The Coney Island Pool and hot tubs were consistently crowded with adults and kids, but the Versailles Pool and hot tubs were not, and more couples were arranged around the aft pool, swimming and using the hot tubs there. That said, the hot tubs are a hot commodity and are almost always crowded.

Recreation

Outdoor recreation areas on Carnival Liberty are limited to the pools and water slide, and the sports deck. The water slide, a curling run of 214 feet, is open during regular pool hours and is quite popular with kids; on our sailing we saw a handful of adults using it, but the line -- and there was a line -- was almost exclusively kids and teens. There's no zipline or climbing wall, but no one seemed to miss them while we were onboard. There is a sports deck where basketball and volleyball courts sit nestled between two forecastles and are covered with a net to keep all the balls in play. Nearby are shuffleboard courts, a table tennis setup, a huge chess set and mini-golf. Balls, clubs and other game accouterment are available on the Lido Deck (Deck 9).

Sun Decks

Decks 9, 10, 11, 12 and 14 all have room for sunning yourself and enjoying the weather, but each deck and each space within each deck, has its own quirks.

On Deck 9, the Lido Deck, there's an area of lounge chairs and a dance floor available midship around the pool and BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar, as well as room for sunning and socializing around the pool and hot tubs in the aft. The midships area tends to get crowded, as areas around a pool and two bars will do, plus this spot is on the way to and from the buffet and staterooms. In the aft area, around the Versailles Pool and Bar, things are more laid back. Some of the loungers around the pool are shaded, so take that into account when considering your spot for napping, sunning or socializing.

Deck 10 midship is where you'll find the abundance of lounge chairs. Here, and on tiers rising up from Deck 9, there are hundreds of chairs and at certain times of the day, it seems they're all filled up. This is the main area where you have to concern yourself with chair hogging or parties sitting in odd configurations (i.e., leaving a single seat open between them and the next group). Again, around the aft pool you'll find more lounge chairs and less people, making it a prime spot for hanging out in the sun.

On Deck 11 there are limited seating areas primarily because you are getting higher on the ship and there's less space available. What space there is is taken up with the sports deck and jogging track, but there are areas where you can get comfortable and lounge a while.

Decks 12 and 14 are where the Serenity adults-only retreat is located. This area is filled with comfortable seats, double hammocks, semi-private cabana loungers, couches and lounge chairs. There is also a pair of hot tubs at the front of the ship, but on our sailing they were not in operation. We had no issues with kids or teens in the area other than near the elevators where they were coming and going from Camp Ocean; it truly was an adults-only retreat. While retreat might seem like hyperbole, it's not, especially when you consider the DJs, music, crowd noise and activity around the central pool and the less busy (but still busy) area aft; here it was quiet, easy and peaceful.

There are also chairs and lounge areas all along the outside of the ship on Decks 9, 10 and 11; most are one-row deep but some are two rows or one row of lounge chairs and a row of couches and chairs. Generally we had no difficulty finding a place for two of us to sit.

You can get a towel from the towel hut on Deck 9 near the pool. Simply sign up and show your Sail & Sign card and remember to bring your towel back and sign out when you're done or else you just bought a souvenir towel by accident.

Smokers will find designated areas for smoking on Deck 3 (not a sun area, but an outside area nonetheless) and Deck 10, both on the starboard side. This can be a drawback for nonsmokers, but there were enough seats available as to not be an issue on our sailing.


Carnival Liberty Services

When you board the ship, you'll enter on Deck 3 midship, where most of the ship's services are located. Here you'll find the Guest Services and Shore Excursions desks in addition to the Flowers Lobby & Bar, the Art Gallery and Persian Card Room, and access to the elevator banks and the Venetian Palace Main Lounge.

One deck up is home to the Pixels Gallery/Studio (where all the shots they take of passengers are on display and available for purchase), the Antiquarian Library (where there are books, games and tables to read, work or play at), Circle "C" tween club, the Internet Cafe and a conference room. Above that, on Deck 5, are the Fun Shops: Cherry on Top, a sweets shop; the duty-free shop; and tables with limited engagement sales and specials ranging from art to jewelry to clothing to duty-free spirits.

There are six launderettes and ironing rooms available onboard. They are located on Deck 1 across from stateroom 1359, Deck 2 across from stateroom 2357, Deck 6 across from stateroom 6387, Deck 7 across from stateroom 7339, Deck 8 across from stateroom 8351 and Deck 9 across from stateroom 9270. All laundry machines are coin-operated, and washing powder and other laundry supplies are available for purchase in the launderettes.

Internet service is available through Wi-Fi or the ship's Internet Cafe (Deck 4 midship) where you'll pay a fee according to your desired access plan: Social ($5), Value ($16) and Premium ($25), each of which offers various levels of speed and access for 24 hours. Otherwise you'll need to connect via one of the ship's satellite internet plans. You can purchase for the whole cruise at a slight discount. Many passengers find the Value Plan, which provides access to most sites and apps, including social media, email and the like, to be sufficient, though heavy users will want to spring for the Premium Plan. Be aware that it is a satellite service and there are areas where speeds are much faster than others.

Carnival Liberty Spa & Fitness

Spa

Spa Carnival is located forward on Deck 11, the Spa Deck. Some elements of the spa are complimentary -- like the sauna and steam room, as well as showers -- while treatments come at a price. Treatments range from massages to facials to acupuncture; prices are slightly higher than a landside spa, with massages in the $75 to $190 range for 60-minute services. Discount packages combining services are available throughout the cruise, but you can also save by receiving multiple treatments if you book them in advance.

The salon is located inside Spa Carnival and features both a salon and traditional barbershop. Salon treatments include manicures and pedicures, conditioning treatments and blow outs -- even teeth whitening. In the barbershop, the menu includes a hot shave and facial. Prices in the salon run from $35 to in excess of $100 depending on the treatment; blow outs and styling are on the lower end, color treatments on the higher end. There's even a menu of medi-spa services -- botox, dermal fillers -- available.

The spa is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fitness

Beyond the spa is the fitness center, as far forward on Deck 11 as you can go. It feels a little strange on the first visit, walking through the spa and locker room to get to the fitness center, but since there's no other access to the gym, it's your only choice.

The fitness center is surprisingly large and surprisingly well outfitted. Nearly two-dozen cardio machines -- stationary bikes, treadmills, elliptical machines -- and an equal number of weight machines are only part of what's on offer here, the rest is a small free-weight area (with dumbbells and a trio of adjustable benches) and a tiny room where yoga and spin classes are held during the cruise.

From any of the cardio machines you'll have a great view as most of the walls are actually windows looking out onto the ocean.

There are trainers on hand and a few classes offered, but aside from one early morning spin class, we never saw the class room used for anything other than stretching. We never saw anyone working out with a trainer either, though the trainers were on hand to give advice or a tutorial on the equipment.

It's clean and mostly quiet in the fitness center, with sporadic music (upbeat workout tunes when it was playing) and plenty of towels, cleaning products (for your machine) and water available.

The fitness center is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. to all passengers ages 18 and up.

Outside, on Decks 12 and 14 midship, there is a jogging track, basketball and volleyball court, table tennis set and giant chess set. Sports courts open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Nine laps around the wide, padded (for long-distance runs) jogging track make a mile.

Carnival Liberty For Kids

Carnival is a family-friendly line and on our sailing we saw many kids from infants to teens. Children can take part in a number of onboard programs, namely Camp Ocean, an enrichment center on Deck 12 forward; and Seuss at Sea, a series of Dr. Seuss-inspired activities held throughout the cruise. Teens and preteens have their own facilities, Circle C for ages 12 to 14, and Club O2 for ages 15 to 17.

In addition to these enrichment activities, some of the Dive-In Movies (movies shown every evening by the pool) are family-friendly or appropriate for teens. The extra-fee Video Arcade (Deck 5 midship) is open 24 hours and features a number of arcade games and machines to entertain kids of all ages.

Babysitting is available for children ages 6 months to 11 years old through a program called Night Owls. Night Owls is available in the evenings from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and costs $6.75 per hour per child, plus a 15 percent gratuity. There is care available for infants (under age 2) on port days and sea days (at this same rate); on port days times vary according to port arrival, though on sea days care is available from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Children do not have to be potty trained in order to take part in Night Owls. Note that this child care service takes place at Camp Ocean and Carnival does not offer in-stateroom services of this type.

Night Owls also offers themed activities on select nights during the sailing. Themes include a Beach Bash or Mardi Gras Party, each carries a cost of $15 per child plus a 15 percent gratuity. At these theme parties kids will enjoy snacks, music, games and crafts.

If you're traveling with a little one, you'll need to bring everything with you as Carnival carries no formula or baby food. The ship can supply distilled water, however. There are strollers, cribs, high chairs and booster seats available onboard for use or rent, and cellphones are available for parents of Camp Ocean participants under the age of 5 and for those with special needs and allergies.

Regarding potty training, infants and toddlers do not need to be potty trained to use Camp Ocean or Night Owls, but they do need to be potty trained in order to use any of the water facilities onboard including kiddie pools, swimming pools and the water slide.

Kids

Kid-centric activities aboard Liberty include Camp Ocean, Seuss at Sea and other one-off activities.

Camp Ocean includes an indoor and outdoor play area, organized games and activities like basketball or volleyball games, and arts and crafts. Camp Ocean is divided into three sections: the Penguins (ages 2 to 5), the Stingrays (ages 6 to 8) and the Sharks (ages 9 to 11). Penguins and Stingrays must be signed in and out by a parent or guardian, but while they're at Camp Ocean, there's no shortage of activities. Penguins can take part in sing-a-longs, costume parties, arts and crafts, face painting, movie nights, T-shirt decorating and dozens of other games. For Stingrays, there are arts and crafts, sports and video game tournaments, stars and planets nighttime activities, superhero-themed games and more. Sharks' activities include dance parties, video game tournaments, music trivia, spin art, ocean-themed activities (shark art, scavenger huts, ocean origami) as well as late-night Fun @ Sea activities (10 p.m. to 1 a.m., fees apply) like pizza outings, midnight sports and dance offs. Scheduled activities on sea days run from approximately 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.; on port days free play begins from port arrival to around 2 p.m. when scheduled activities continue until 10 p.m.

Camp Ocean provides Kids Only meals for all three groups (they're supervised, so don't worry about a food fight) every evening except the first evening from approximately 6 to 7 p.m., but times vary. Menus are kid-friendly. Note that this is for dinner only, parents will need to pick up their kids for lunch and other meals except on Port Days when Camp Ocean participants will be provided lunch (if their parents are ashore).

Seuss at Sea includes several activities, from a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast ($5 per person) held on the morning of the final day at sea, to the Seuss-A-Palooza Story Time and Seuss-A-Palooza Parade. At each Seuss-themed event, expect costumed characters, opportunities for photos and chances for parents to participate with the kids. The Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast is especially popular due in part to the fun names of the menu items and those costumed Seuss characters.

Teens

Circle C (Deck 4 midship) serves kids ages 12 to 14 with opportunities to socialize and take part in activities from basketball, volleyball and table tennis games; to movie viewings and video gaming; to karaoke, dance parties, trivia and scavenger hunts. Teens taking part in Circle "C" must be registered, but they don't need to sign in or out as Carnival aims to provide them with a space where structured activities are balanced with teen independence. Activities go on every day of the sailing, and times vary; check the Fun Times newsletter and the Circle "C" activity schedule for specifics on your sailing.

Club O2 (Deck 5 midship) is designed for teens ages 15 to 17. Each ship has a Club O2 director who develops its particular programming and on Liberty that programming was robust. For starters there's a teen-only lounge where both children and adults (other than crew) are not allowed. There's also a gaming area as well as a dance-club type area. But it's not all lounging around and hanging out idly, there are organized games on the sports deck (basketball free throw competitions, volleyball, table tennis), dance parties, pool parties, karaoke and even theme parties. Theme parties happen in the evening (times vary) but include things like glow-in-the-dark parties and wacky outfit get-togethers.

In addition to Circle C and Club O2 the ship's Dive-In Movies are often family friendly or appropriate for teens, as are the early comedy shows, though while they are rated PG are better suited for older teens.

On our sailing there were no teen-only shore excursions.

Additional Carnival Liberty Information

Carnival Liberty Details
  • Crew: 1,160
  • Launched: 2005
  • Decks: 13
  • Passengers: 2,974
  • Registry: Panama
  • CDC Score: 96

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