Occupation:Stay At Home Mom
Number of Cruises: 35
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Liberty
Sailing Date: February 18th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Liberty Cruise Review
After not having cruised on a week long cruise on Carnival in many years, the Liberty's interesting itinerary enticed us to give Carnival another try. Although the overall experience was acceptable, I do not think that we will be going back on Carnival anytime soon. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly:
The Good: Embarkation, pool area, friendliness of crew.
The Bad: Overcrowding, dinner service, beach/pool towels, dining room design.
The Ugly: Deck chair situation
Embarkation: We live in Florida, and drove down to the port, arriving at 1pm. We immediately were greeted by a porter to unload the luggage, parked the car and were ready to go. We always book a suite, and there was a VIP entrance for suite customers. We entered that area, and were called to the desk to check in within 30 seconds. We had filled out the Fun pass prior to arriving, and spent less than 1 minute at the check-in desk before we were on our way. It was amazing. We were in our cabin less than 15 minutes after arriving at the port. It took our friends, who did not book suites, about 30 minutes to check in. Our luggage arrived within 10 minutes of entering our cabin.
The the northeast schools, and the ship was loaded beyond capacity with families with children, who often ran wild in the corridors during all hours of the day and night. The dining room design as awful, with a narrow upper dining room that felt very crowded. The main pool area had a drive-in movie type screen that soared above the pool, and played movies, CNN, etc. all day and evening. The casino was large and very Smokey, but had enough tables and slots to satisfy everyone. The slots were the tightest I have ever seen on a cruise ship. I can count on one hand the number of big winners for the week. People became very frustrated with the slots and stopped playing mid-week. The decor was gaudy, to say the least. Elegance was definitely not a priority on this ship.
Cabin: We booked a Category 11 cabin on deck 7. The cabin was smaller than I expected, having spent our last 5 cruises on Holland America, whose suites are unbelievable. Our cabin had a wood floor entrance, marble bath with a Jacuzzi and double sinks, dressing area, balcony area with 2 windows and French door and ample balcony furniture. The cabin was decorated nicely with crown moldings, a leather sofa, one TV and a very comfortable bed. There was more than ample closet space for 2 passengers. The bathroom was well designed, with the usual bizarre Carnival samples in a tray upon arrival. The showers had shampoo and soap dispensers in the wall that were always full. The bath towels were plentiful and thick. On the negative side, there was only one phone in the room, and that was across the room from the bed on the desk. Bedside phones need to be added.
Food: The meals were so-so. Dinner in the dining room was OK, nothing great. The desserts were mostly bland. Our dining room service was horrendous, with most tables ordering dessert prior to us getting our salad. Our waiter disappeared half-way through the cruise, and no one would tell us what happened to him. We then had a hodge-podge of fill-ins, until the last evening, when he appeared again. Very strange. Each person at the table was given one dinner roll, and then the basket was taken away, never to return. We were encouraged NOT to order more than one entree or appetizer by our waiter. If we did, he told us that it would only be served IF we finished our first appetizer or entree. We felt like children. The breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet was average, but the grill with burgers, the Chinese food station and the deli station were very good and worth the wait (and sometimes the wait was 45 minutes.) The pizza was good, and available 24 hours a day. Room service was very limited, but promply delivered. We attemped to make reservations at the specialty restaurant on the second day, but it was already sold out for the week.
Towel/Deck Chair Situation: Horrible. Each stateroom was given two beach towels that were to be used daily. There were limited or no towels available on the deck. The deck chair situation was almost comical. IF YOU DID NOT GET A DECK CHAIR BY 7AM ON A SEA DAY, YOU DID NOT GET ONE. People were getting up a 5am to reserve chairs. There were near fights over deck chairs. In all my cruises, I never experienced anything like this in my life. People were lying HORIZONTALLY across chairs to save them. It was just ridiculous. With 4 full sea days on this cruise, chair saving got to be comical. It was awful.
Port 1 - Costa Maya. We were supposed to go the Cozumel, but because of hurricane damage, we went to Costa Maya. Have been there 3 times before, and you can walk the entire village in about 10 minutes. Neat and clean and safe. Best deals on jewelry at Diamonds International - better than Cozumel or St. Thomas. Did not do an excursion this time - just shopped and ate at one of the small cafes. Most of the excursions take you to a beach, but is usually about an hour bus ride to get there. We actually got to lay by the pool on the ship in peace while everyone else got off the ship. When everyone else started to come back on, we got off. It was perfect timing.
Costa Rica: White water rafting was FABULOUS. Had never done it before, and were nervous, but we loved it. River water was cold, but guides were great and we had a ball. Would highly recommend to anyone!
Panama: Very poor, and I did not feel safe there. If you are going off the ship, take a ship tour. Do not go off by yourself. We took the Grand Tour to the Panama Canal, and toured the locks, etc. It was interesting. The rest of the tour was a waste of time. It included being dropped off at a hotel gift shop for an hour, visiting an Indian tribe, who sold homemade trinkets (boxes under the table said Made in Taiwan) and a boat ride to look at monkeys. It was then back to the hotel gift shop for another 1/2 hour. I would have been happy to see the Canal and come back to the ship. No shopping to speak of, and pier front was full of kids begging and questionable characters. We saw the Canal, and probably will never go back.
Debarkation: Began at 6:30am for people will to carry off their own luggage. Started with the colored tags at about 8, and we went off prior to our color being called with no problem. Customs was a breeze. We were off the ship by 9:20am and back home by noon.
Conclusion: My husband and I go on a cruise with 3 other couples every Feb. and leave the kids home. We take a cruise with our 14 year old son every June. This cruise would have been perfect for him, but it was not for us. We have cruised NCL, RCCL, Princess, Holland America, etc., and this ship did not meet our expectations. It was too crowded (3300 plus passengers) and too impersonal. I expect certain amenities when booking a suite, and outside of the priority embarkation, none existed. I think this cruise would be OK for families with children, because it appears that all the kids and teenagers had a ball. Our weather was PERFECT, so I cannot complain about that. Overall, if asked to rate the ship, I would give it a B- or a C+. It was always clean and tidy, and the crew was helpful and friendly, but it is definitely geared towards families, and not couples. We are taking our son on RCCL Mariner in June, and I am expecting a better experence.