I flew into Rome the day prior to the cruise and stayed at the Sun Park Bay Hotel in Civitavecchia; I had also stayed there six months earlier. Itís a nice hotel -- nothing special, but a good place to stay for a few nights. The best thing about this hotel is the breathtaking view from your balcony to the Mediterranean sea. European breakfast is included. Itís only five minutes to the port by taxi.
I arrived at the cruise terminal at noon, and there were no lines at all. Check-in took a few minutes and than I had to wait until 12.30 p.m. to board. My group and I had our welcome aboard photo taken, and the Carnival photographer remembered me from my cruise last year, so we had a talk and a good laugh. Boarding the ship was very easy and pleasant.
I booked a balcony cabin 8301 (category 8C). I always book a mid-ship cabin because I think itís the most stable part of the ship. The cabin itself was great again. I never saw my room steward, but the room was always clean and the towel animals were a lust for the eye.
The first thing I did on the Liberty was to go to my cabin and look at the Capers newsletter. Thatís when I did another happy dance: I was thrilled to see that John Heald was the cruise director again. I had so much fun with him last year; he is the best cruise director of the entire fleet. I never noticed the CD in the past until I had John as a CD. You just know that you're going to laugh all through the cruise, and we did!
I looked forward to see the morning and afternoon shows with John, as well as all the other shows he did. On the first formal night (the Captainís cocktail party), the first sea day, I saw John and thought maybe he still remembers me from last year. And yes, he still remembered me. John introduced me to his Dutch wife Heidi and we had a nice talk in Dutch. Heidi lives in the Netherlands only a few minutes from my home address. What are the odds? I recommend to everybody to take a cruise with John Heald. He told me that he was leaving the ship after this cruise for vacation, but he will be back in a few months, and next year he will be the CD on the new Carnival Freedom.
The Carnival Liberty is new and is in excellent condition. Off course you have to like its interior. I thought it looked great. The lights in the Atrium and promenade change colors, but somehow it was not disturbing to me at all. The layout is not as good as on the Spirit Class ships (they are the best, with two unobstructed decks from front to aft), but if you have cruised Carnival before, you can easily find your way around the ship.
The food on board was just excellent, with plenty of choices. All the food was very tasty, fresh and warm. I cruised the Triumph two years ago and the food was not half this good, so I was pleased that they improved this. Harryís Supper Club was also of good quality. The only thing I didnít like that much was the desserts. Overall I think the food in the dining rooms and the supper club are the same. That says a lot about the excellent food in the dining rooms -- and you donít have to pay the extra $30. I was in the Silver dining room and the service there was even better than last year. Our table had fantastic waiters -- Roberto and Lady from the Philippines -- and they really worked very hard to serve us.
Ports of Call.
First we went to Naples. I didnít go ashore. I had only been onboard a few hours onboard and I went on deck to get a tan. It was nice and quiet, and even the slide was open in port so I enjoyed myself with that. The other members of my group went to Pompeii and they liked it very much. When other guests returned, I heard everybody speak of Capri, the island. It must be an amazing, beautiful place. But I'm from Europe and if I want to go there I can just drive to Naples.
This was the port that impressed me the most. What a beautiful country -- lots of mountains, and Dubrovnik is a very nice town. I took a taxi for one hour (40 euros) and did some sight-seeing. We went up in the mountains and had breathtaking views of the sea and Dubrovnik itself. Hard to believe that there was a war going on only 10 years ago. We could still see some damage but 99 percent was very nicely rebuilt. All the houses with orange roofs were damaged in the war and rebuilt. (Well, almost every house has an orange roof). Then the taxi took us to the city center and we walk around for a few hours, did some shopping, some drinking on the terraces and walked on the city wall. Then took a taxi back to the ship for 10 euros.
A great port of call. The ship arrived at the entrance of the Canal at noon, and then took a one hour ďdriveĒ through the canal to the docking area. It was just beautiful to see the ship go right through Venice and all its sights. You get an excellent idea of Venice before you get off the ship. The ship docked at 2 p.m. and we got off at 3 p.m. We took the shuttle bus (5 euros roundtrip) to get a Vaporetto (waterbus) -- public transportation in Venice because there are no cars in the city . You can take a water taxi but that will cost you lots of money. The waterbuses cost 5 euros per person one way. We went to see all of Venice and ended up in the famous St Markís square with all its pigeons. Then we went back to the ship for dinner in the Lido restaurant, and afterwards we went on the Gondola tour at night. Although it rained it was a fantastic experience, but expensive -- $100 per person -- to go through the narrow canals, with great live music. We ended again at St Markís square where we had 1.5 hours of free time before we were taken back to the ship. We were a little wet from the ride in the gondola so we decided to have a cappuccino. We ordered three cappuccinos and had to pay 32 euros, or about $40. We knew this in advance but the music was very nice, and lifeís worth it.
We went on the new Carnival tour -- the Etna 2,900 Meter Tour goes straight up the
mountain by cable car and 4x4 trucks, to 9000 feet. We walked around for about 30 minutes. The view is incredible but you have to be in good condition to do this tour. There the temperature was really cold, but they told us in advance, so I was prepared. I was wearing jeans, a sweater and a nice thick winter jacket. The temperature was at the freezing
level, because we had lots of wind. The tour guide told us that it was possible to rent coats at the cable car station in case somebody forget to bring warm clothes. The weather must be clear, otherwise it's a waste of money. There is really not much to do in Messina itself. You have to go on a tour in this place. I heard a lot of good things of Taormina, and you can also do both tours in one.
Barcelona is a great city. We went on our own tour. We took the Carnival shuttle to La Rambla and there we took a taxi. Taxis are very cheap. We visited the Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Gaudi. The church is 100 years old but still isnít finished. But you get a great impression of this immense place and you can go up the two towers (2 euros per person roundtrip) and see Barcelona from above. From there we took another taxi to the famous shopping street La Rambla with all its terraces and shops. We ate tapas and drank beer. What a great city.
Cannes is the only port where we had to tender. The Liberty canít dock there. We just walked around Cannes, did some shopping and relaxed at one of the many sidewalk cafes. We would have loved to go to Monaco, but the day before was the Grand Prix, and it was a mess in Monaco so we just stayed in Cannes.
We didnít go to Livorno. The weather was too bad and the ship couldnít dock safely. It's safety first, so the ship went farther south and we had an extra day at sea, which wasnít that bad. There are so many ports on this cruise that it was nice to have the extra day at sea and relax, because it was the last day of the cruise.
I had a blast from day one until the end. It was my eighth Carnival cruise and definitely not my last.
Feel free to ask me any questions or send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cruise History: 1990 Mardi Gras, 1993 Jubilee, 1998 Imagination, 2002 Fantasy, 2003 Carnival Spirit (panama canal), 2004 Carnival Triumph, 2005 Carnival Liberty (transatlantic) 2006 Carnival Liberty (Mediterranean)