Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Liberty
by Michele
Eastern Caribbean
June 28, 2008

We just got back one week ago from our fabulous cruise. This was our third cruise; we previously sailed on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas and the Carnival Miracle. I sailed with my husband and our 9 year old son. We did not bring our one year old daughter with us this time; she spent a fun filled week with grandma.

We left out of NYC-JFK on June 28th. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and took Carnival's shuttle to the port of Miami. The cost is about $48.00 each roundtrip. We had a good flight, although I hate flying now post 9/11. However, once we arrived and proceeded down to baggage claim, we immediately saw several Carnival representatives, one of whom accompanied us to retrieve our luggage and then directed us to the next person who led us to the buses to take us to the port. Our driver was great and hilarious; however he cordially announced "please don't forget the driver." We were told the ride would be about 45 minutes; however we arrived within 30 minutes -- smooth. When we arrived at the port, with trying to retrieve all of our luggage and giving them to the porters, and seeing the horde of people, I thought Oh boy!! However, the line was long but moved very quickly. I do not think we were in that first line 15 minutes. Afterwards, we immediately went through the metal detectors, then on to the room where you line up to receive your sign and sail cards, etc. There were only 3 or 4 people ahead of us and then it was our turn. We showed our passports and credit cards, registered and then off we went to board. We were given a boarding number, and I thing we were in "group 14", and at this point they had just called group 12, so in less than 10 minutes we were going up the escalator to the where our embarkation photos were taken. Next was a small line up to actually get onto the ship, during which we had our cards dipped into the machine with our photos taken to validate. All in all, embarkation took about an hour, give or take. Definitely not bad, especially considering what I previously heard about leaving from Miami. I was expecting it to take much longer. Upon entering the Liberty on deck 3 we were so excited to see the main atrium and happy that we were finally onboard.

The Liberty is absolutely beautiful. Just a little side bar of information about me. I have a preference for the bigger, newer ships. Yes, it's true -- the first couple of days we had to get used to not being able to go all the way through from front to back on decks 3 and 4. However, the Liberty is not a hard ship to learn your way around after the second day.

I will now break thr rest of this review up into sections of interest.

Ship Decor and Public Areas

Again beautiful and big. Deck 5 goes all the way through from front to back and also has the casino which can be quite smoky. However, what I liked is that to walk through you did not have to go through the casino as there is the walkway on the side with windows and big comfortable seats for people watching or whatever you fancy. We had the Main (early) 2nd seating in the Golden Olympic Dining room (see Food section). The dining room is beautiful and our wait staff was Marcin (pronounced Mar-cini)?? and his assistant Yohanes. We were at table (booth) 137. If anyone has them on an upcoming cruise please tell them that "Miss Michele" and Sly said hello and we miss them. They were absolutely the best!! They were the best wait staff we've had on any cruise. They were very efficient and had great personalities. Plus, it may not mean much to most, but I was really happy that they were personable and remembered our names. Fernando was the Maitre 'D, and I have to say of all the cruises we've been on, he was the most personable and vocal. Normally, when it comes to the gratuities I do tip the Maitre 'D just because of the protocol, but afterwards I would kinda scratch my head and think we just tipped someone who we only saw from a distance maybe once. However, this time on several occasions Fernando made his rounds and stopped at each table to introduce himself and asked how things were going and telling us to let him know if there was anything that he could do. He was also in the dining room making announcements each evening. This time I absolutely had no regrets with tipping him and we actually went to find him on the last night to extend our well wishes and gratuities. However, he wasn't too hard to find as he was right near the entrance/exit. (hahaha).

Cabins

We were in cabin 1362 which is on the Riviera deck (deck 1) and it was perfect. The beds and the bedding were to die for, absolutely plush and very comfortable. There were plenty of drawers and closets for storage. Our suitcases fit with no problem under the beds. There were actually 3 closets. The bathroom was small (of course) but nice with body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower. There were also trial size samples of toothpaste, his and her razors, Pepcid, and some other stuff. Our cabin steward was great. I am so sorry that I never did catch his name though. However, he did a great job with cleaning the rooms twice a day and filling the ice buckets twice a day. My son loved coming back to the cabin at night and seeing the different towel animals along with chocolates on the pillow. I love the turn down service. The television worked fine, however I was curious as to why all "local" stations and news were for Denver, Colorado? Oh well, we definitely were not on a cruise to stay in our cabins to watch tv.

Food

Everyone's favorite subject (it is mine). Well how do I begin? Overall it was good with plenty of room for improvement. If you want a sit-down breakfast it was in the Silver dining room, which is even more gorgeous than the Golden. The service was hit or miss. Most mornings the service was great. Just the last 2 days did I notice a decline, starting with the host who does the seating arrangements. The two areas Carnival must improve upon for breakfast is the orange juice (way too watered down) and the coffee. I hate to say it, but except the day we were in San Juan, when we ate breakfast off the ship, I did not have a good cup of coffee the entire time. I should say I did not have a good cup of coffee that was included and free. On deck 5 there is a stand that sells better coffee and lattes, cappuccinos and things like that, along with some other cakes and cookies. I tried those the last time I was on the Miracle and didn't really care for them, so this time I did not buy anything. However, I should have at least bought a real cup of coffee from there, but good coffee should be served throughout the ship and be a part of the "all inclusive" cost.

Only one morning did we have breakfast on the Lido deck. Needless to say after that experience I did not have breakfast up there again. The food was good; however there is a long wait for the omelet station, then when things ran out, there was a wait for them to be replenished. Also, it was too chaotic with the other guests, some of whom were rude line jumpers. For lunch we only ate up at the Lido deck. One of the best kept secrets is the fish and chips station. Oh my goodness, those fried fish filets with fries were the absolute best, but due to my shellfish allergy that was all I could eat. However, my husband on the other hand, had a field day. He loved the bouibaisse (sp?), the fried oysters, octopus salad, etc.

There are 2 grill sections with the best cheeseburgers, along with hot crispy french fries, and hot dogs, onion rings, chicken tenders (were good) and nachos with melted cheese sauce. Each day I was great with the items at the grill for lunch, along with the fish and ice cream that's available 24 hours a day.

For dinner, we ate every night in the main dining room. We originally had reservations for Harry's (the supper club at an additional $30 charge) for my birthday. However, we made great friends at the booth next to us (Hi Annmarie and Mike and Mike Jr.) and we enjoyed talking to them each night, as well as enjoying our wait staff. The 2nd formal night was the night of my birthday also, and therefore we just didn't see a reason to go to Harry's after all. I will tell you some of the dishes that I liked, as well as the ones I did not. I loved the warm-chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. YUMMMYYY!!! I also liked the prime rib, the BBQ ribs, jerk pork, filet mignon, the grilled pork chops and some of the cold desserts. I did not like the salmon the one time I ordered it. I was disappointed with the desserts. Thank God for the warm-chocolate melting cake. For the most part the food was good, but it could definitely be improved upon. We only did a few late night buffets, such as on the night of the Mardi Gras deck party when we went to the Mexican buffet set up on the Lido deck afterwards. It was okay. We attempted to go to the Grand Gala Midnight buffet, however the line was just too long and I was so tired from the "colors hop" party, and the deck party. One thing that was delicious was the chocolate buffet on the last sea day. I think I gained 20 pounds from that one -- (hahaha). There were about 7 different kinds of chocolate cake, and a chocolate fondue machine for dipping fruits, and other things -- even freshly made donuts. That was the best. They had different flavored ice creams and milkshakes, chocolate cheesecake, different truffles, homemade fudge, candies, and some chocolate raisin pudding that I did not try. There were so many things that I cannot remember them all at the moment. However, I do remember enjoying myself and trying lots of things.

Ports of Call

We went to the Eastern Caribbean, so our ports were San Juan, Puerto Rico; Turks and Caicos (Grand Turk); Half Moon Cay; and St. Thomas.

In Puerto Rico I wanted to eat breakfast at a local joint called "La Bombonera" that I had heard a lot about. After getting off of the ship we walked to the next corner and caught a free trolley that went to El Morro and the shopping area. We saw the fort and it was an amazing view. We then got off near Calle San Francisco (a street) and went to La Bombonera. We had the famous mallorca pastries and they were GOOD!!! I wish I could get them fresh here in New York. Next we walked to Calle Cristo, which is a main block for shopping. I went to the Coach outlet and purchased several birthday gifts for me (smile). Later we tried some pina coladas at the famous Barrachina's and they were very good. We bought a few souvenirs, took some pictures and then went back to the ship.

Half Moon Cay was actually our first stop which was a beach day. We took the tender over, not too bad. The beach is beautiful with pretty sea-blue/green water that was the perfect temperature. However, because I do not know how to swim, I did not go too far in. Calf-length high water is about my limit. Here is where Carnival sets up the beach BBQ at the dining pavilions. The food consisted of chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salads, fruit, brownies, etc. The menu was limited, but the amount was plenty. However, what I ate did not agree with my stomach, and that -- along with the heat -- and I was ready to head back to the ship.

In St. Thomas (our second port) we took a shuttle into downtown Charlotte Amalie for $4.00 each. After that we walked around and looked in the shops, bought a few souvenirs and then went on a tour with one of the cab drivers. His name was Henry and he was great. I have his contact info if anyone needs it. He took us through different parts of the island and there were many sights to be seen. We stopped at the famous "Mountain Top" and had one of their famous banana daiquiris. It definitely lives up to its hype. It was great being so far up and the views were magnificent. The drive up to the top was a bit scary for me, but Mr. Henry was very efficient and very nice. We stopped to buy souvenirs and we went to Drake's Seat/Castle (??). All in all, it was a good day and it was nice. However, in the beginning it is a bit overwhelming in the shopping areas -- just way too many stores and way too many people, along with a lot of sun.

Our final stop was Grand Turk. We were docked so close to the new cruise terminal that after disembarking it was just a walk along the pier. We did not do any tours here. We just had lunch at Margaretville's. We went to the beach that's right there. I must add that the beach here looks beautiful, but once you're on the beach, you quickly realize that it is too rocky and there is too much seaweed. Also there were not many seats, if any, left and nothing in the shade. Therefore, hubby wanted to get sun and stay on the beach and I was hot and tired. So I left hubby to relax on the beach while I went souvenir shopping at the different stores at the terminal. Besides it was Thursday (my birthday) and I wanted to get back and get ready and dressed up for formal night. There are much prettier beaches in Turks and Caicos.

About my birthday, I will keep it short. My dear husband and son had our cabin decorated for me by Carnival (it was really nice) and he ordered a dozen long stemmed red roses. Also at dinner he surprised me and had the waiters bring out a delicious birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday. It was so nice, and I did get a little teary-eyed. Cool points for hubby!

Cruise Director and Activities

On Cruise Critic it said that Steve K was the cruise director. However, it was Karl with a K. And we were very pleased. Karl is the absolute best. I hope he is the CD on our next cruise. Carnival is definitely the fun ship. We love the different activities, especially on the sea days. We really loved most of the night shows: the tribute to Motown, the juggling act -- yes, it was very good and hilarious, and the comedians, especially Percy Crews. His family show act was funny, but the midnight adult show was on a whole other level. We laughed so hard the whole night.

With the teams, we were the blue team. I believe one day it was mentioned that we were in the lead, but I don't know what was to be the end result and what was at stake. I don't even believe they ever announced who "won"?

Camp Carnival

What can I say? If it gives any indication of how much fun our son had, he only had dinner with us two out of the seven nights. The first night he ate with us because it was orientation night, and he ate with us on Thursday since it was my birthday. The counselors do a great job, and keep the kids very entertained and very busy. They did everything from swimming, to scavenger hunts, ice sundae making, candy making, pizza making, cake decorating, Nintendo WII and other video games, tee shirt coloring, and some chocolate game. Thursday night was the "Ultimate Pajama Party" with at least 15 different things lined up for the night. It lasted until 3:00 AM!!! And on that night the counselors walk each child back to their cabins. Normally the parents pick them up unless you sign a form permitting a child from age 9+ to sign themselves out. Every night they have dinner for the kids to eat with the counselors and their new friends and to go to a show and then back to the many other scheduled activities. Also, each child receives little gifts like a Carnival CD holder, tee shirts, and other little things. It was great, and provided my husband and I with a lot of alone time to enjoy the adult activities.

Disembarkation

We had initially booked a 12:00 noon flight, but a month before the cruise the airline changed the departing time to 11:30. Therefore, the purser's desk gave us #2 luggage tags. We were called to disembark around 8:00 am, found our transfer bus and were back to Ft Lauderdale's airport by 9:40 with almost 2 hours before our flight. We had lunch at Chili's and just killed time. We also reflected on the great time we had and are planning our return cruise to the Western Caribbean next summer on the new Carnival Freedom.

This is all I can remember for now. I know this review is long, but I hope it was helpful. Please excuse any typos because I was typing a lot of info in a rush. Please feel free to contact me with any further questions. BON VOYAGE!!!