Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Liberty
by John GAwne
Eastern Caribbean
March 1, 2008

Carnival Liberty Eastern Caribbean March 1-9, 2008

We booked this cruise, our 12th on Carnival, for my wife's birthday. We couldn't find a flight getting into Fort Lauderdale early enough to be sure we could get checked in with the new earlier 90 minutes before sailing deadline, so we flew in the evening before the cruise. We stayed in the Candlewood Inn (owned by the same company as the Holiday Inn Express next door to it) on State Route 84 near the airport and not that far from Port Everglades. The room had a full kitchen, and they provided microwave popcorn and soap for dishes. They also had food available for purchase that you could microwave in the room. There is also a Winn Dixie supermarket across the street where we stopped in the morning to purchase 2 bottles of champagne to take aboard ship. The hotel provides a free shuttle from the airport, and a paid shuttle at 10:30, 11:30, and 12:30 to Port Everglades for $8 per person. We opted to call a taxi, knowing how close we were, and it was $12 including tip.

Check-in through the VIP line for Platinum members was quick and we were aboard by noon. The cabins weren't opened until 1:30pm, however. We had an 8E balcony on deck 7 and really enjoyed it.

General observations about Carnival Liberty, at this time the 2nd newest Carnival ship (until fall 2008). We checked with the maitre de' as we found we were assigned a larger table and he had no trouble blocking a table for 4 for the 2 of us for the whole cruise. Interestingly, I noted plenty of empty tables for 2 at the 8pm seating. We were in the Silver Olympic Dining Room, the aft one. Service and variety on the menu was excellent. We had frequent visits by the assistant maitre de's. Choices include beef wellington, chateaubriand, filet mignon, prime rib, large and tender lobster, seafood newburg, pike perch, mahi mahi, tilapia, and many other, including lamb. Desserts included cherries jubilee, crème brulee, and baked Alaska. The Carnival melting chocolate cake was available every night.

The Lido area for breakfast has three buffet areas, 2 of which have eggs to order. Lunch options include grill, deli, fish & chips (with boullabaise, fried oysters, calamari, tuna tartar, and fish and chips), Mexican selections, a Mongolian station, taste of nations buffet, and the regular buffet -- all in addition to the dining room service, which we never use for lunch. Pizza and Caesar salad, of course are available 24 hours in the rear pool area.

There are many dancing options, including in Harry's Supper Club. You can dance there to the combo and use the bar even if you aren't dining in the supper club -- a little known secret. There is dancing in the evening to a combo in the lobby bar area, in the Victoria Lounge to a 4 person band, and in the disco in the evening.

Wednesday they did have a Mardi Gras night around the pool at 10:30 pm and a Mexican buffet at midnight. On Friday night they had a chocolate buffet at midnight.

They held wine tastings twice in the Harry's Supper Club at 11:30am, with a knowledgeable sommelier who had worked in the Normandy restaurant on Celebrity Summit. The formal nights were on the 2nd and 7th nights of this 8 day cruise. The first was on the 2nd night, my wife's birthday, and she was thrilled as a result. I was able to purchase, and preorder for the second formal, rose corsages for her at the Formalities Shop. The Captain's welcome reception in the Venetian Theatre was held on the first formal night. The past guest reception was held on the 5th evening in Victoria Lounge, followed by a 7 pm show by the theatre cast featuring 50's and 60's music.

The shows included a Rock Down Broadway and It's a Wonderful World, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr by a male vocalist we had seen on a previous cruise, but is still very good, a comedian, and a tribute to Motown Music Grammy winners. The Carnival singers and dancers were among the best we have seen on Carnival.

Itinerary
The first day of the 8 day cruise was a sea day with wind and rain in the morning, but cleared in the afternoon. First formal night, Captain's Welcome and show.

Monday: Arrived in San Juan at 5 pm after, again, wind and rain in the morning, but clearing in the afternoon. We were there from 5 to midnight. We walked a bit in old town, but having been there many times, we wound up at Senor Frog's behind the Sheraton near the pier. Four ships in port, all arriving late in the day. Many people ate aboard early and went into town for the evening.

Tuesday: Arrived in St Thomas and docked at Crown Bay, the one outside of town. Ship was there from 7am to 6pm. We took a taxi to Red Hook, now up to $11 per person, and the ferry to St John's for $5 per person, and a taxi to Trunk Bay for $6 per person. Park admission is $4 per person. I enjoyed the snorkel trail at Trunk Bay park again and we stayed from 11:30 till 2pm. Then another taxi to Cruz Bay to enjoy local drinks near the ferry pier, and the 3pm ferry back to Red Hook, and the taxi back to Crown Bay. We paid $48 per person for 6 ½ hours, and the ship's excursion to St John is $71 and only 4 hours long. We enjoyed a late room service lunch. After dinner we enjoyed dancing to the lobby band in Harry's Supper Club instead of the comedy show.

Wednesday: Wednesday we were in Antigua from 7am to 6pm. I had arranged in advance for a day pass at Sandals Grande Antigua, and after a $12 taxi (for 2) we enjoyed the newest Sandals resort in the Caribbean, with its new 7 story addition. Food, beverages and service were great. It is right on Dickinson Beach, not 10 minutes from the pier. We returned, after too much sun, about 5pm.

Thursday: Thursday we were in Tortola BVI from 7am to 3:30pm. I booked an excursion to snorkel in the caves at Norman Island for $61 per person. After about a 25 minute boat ride we snorkeled in deep water and into the caves. Not much sea life in there, but there was in the deep water, including a resident large barracuda. After the boat ride back we shopped in Tortola and stopped for medication at Pusser's Bar for a Painkiller!

Friday: Friday was a sea day, great weather, wine tasting, 2nd formal night, and a broadway style show after dinner.

Saturday: Saturday we were in Nassau from 1-8pm. Having been to Nassau often, we chose to do an excursion on the party boat Yellowbird to Pirate Island. Open bar rum punch on the ride over, chairs and swimming under a cloudy sky, and then open bar rum punch and dancing on the way back. It was definitely a party boat, and was only $35 per person for the fun afternoon. Of course we stopped at Sr Frogs for a snack on the way back to the ship. Baggage was to be out in the halls by 10:30 pm, and we went to dance a little after that.

Sunday: On Sunday they allowed passengers to remain in cabins till 9am, if they chose. We chose to wait till the last people called as we had a late flight, and enjoyed the Lido area till 9:45 when we were called. After only a short wait for a taxi we were at the airport and into a long, long line for TSA checks, and a 2pm flight home.

My only real complaint was that 2 of the 4 aft elevators were out of commission the entire cruise, and these are the ones to the aft dining room and the aft pool and Lido. One of the midships elevators was also out often. But the service and food and general appearance of the ship were superb. Tommy, the singing bartender at the Paparazi Wine Bar is a gem. This was clearly the best of our 12 Carnival cruises, and a great 8 day cruise for my wife's birthday.