Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Liberty
Sailing Date: October 22nd, 2006
Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Liberty Cruise Review
Grand Mediterranean - Transatlantic
As promised, here’s my review of the ship. If you want the full review/BLOG it’s here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=447527. This part of my review will be limited to the shipboard experience only.
For those of you that have not sailed on a Conquest class ship, they are BIG. Statistics from Carnival’s website are here: http://www.carnival.com/CMS/Onboard_Activities/Liberty-Onboard_Exp.aspx
I was attracted to the Grand Med and Transatlantic cruise for the itinerary. I’ve never sailed on a mega-ship. I had read a lot, good and bad, about the experience. As they say “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.” Well, I tried it. For those readers that only want to hear good things, or can’t stand anyone expressing a negative opinion of their beloved Carnival, stop reading now.
The outward appearance of Carnival Liberty is that of a soviet-era apartment building with a funnel and pointy bow stuck on. Absolutely no thought or effort went into making it a good-looking ship. None. Sadly, this is the current trend in ship design.
Embarkation was a breeze. I got to the ship around 3:00 PM and was onboard in five minutes.
Cabin 8209, inside cat 4E, was quite nice. I was traveling solo so there was adequate space. Nice sized bathroom, shower only, with lots of shelves around the vanity mirror. Everything was very clean and in working order. The beds were together, but there was a noticeable hump in the middle. There are nice, soft cotton linens on the bed. There is one chair for seating. There are 4 drawers in the desk/vanity area and a spot for the safe beneath the regular 17” TV. There are 4 closets, one of which has shelves that can be folded up for more hanging space.
My cabin steward, Randall, and his assistants, Darwin and Oscar, did an excellent job the entire 28 days. I was always greeted by name.
The servers on the Europe segment, Daniel and his assistant Sarmite, were excellent. On the transatlantic, our servers, Desislava and her assistant Francisco, were adequate. Both teams remembered I liked an espresso after dinner. Michelena, hostess in Golden Olympic dining room was the nicest person on the ship that I met. She really cares. I would hope that she is promoted to Maitre ‘d someday. She was far nicer and genuine than Lloyd Lewis, the current Maitre ‘d.
I found the pursers helpful and caring, especially Rowan and Chief Purser Laura. They do try.
Bar service was very poor throughout the ship. Generally, if you wanted a drink you had to get up and get it yourself. The exception to this was the Cabinet Bar where the service was very good.
Lido service was very poor. The tables would go for an hour or more without getting cleaned which made it difficult to find a table. Many times I had to call the purser’s desk and request they send someone to clean the place up. To their credit, they did. Silverware and condiments were almost never put on the tables around the main pool.
I’d read this ship wasn’t the typical “Joe Farcus” experience. It is. Most areas are over-the-top, overdone and garish. I watched Joe’s video explaining the design theory – a tribute to artisans. Overall, the public spaces seemed small for a ship this size. I’ve sailed on ship’s carrying less than half the passengers where the public rooms are roughly the same size. The halls are narrow and the ceilings are low. Traffic-flow is poor. This is especially noticeable entering or exiting the elevator lobbies. I’ve posted pictures of many of the public rooms so there is no need for a long description. The link to my photos is in my signature.
The food was the worst food ever on a cruise. I lost 4 pounds on this cruise. I was not expecting gourmet, but I thought it would be at least as good as the local buffet type restaurants (Old Country Buffet, Sizzler, Bonanza, etc.). A land-based restaurant serving the caliber of food on this ship would be out of business in short order.
Tough, flavorless meats and rubber poultry were the order of the day. I don’t eat seafood but judging by the way my tablemates had to saw at their lobster, it was overcooked as well. Many nights I would have to order 2 or 3 entrées to find something edible.
The grill and sushi bar served consistently the best food on the ship.
I can count on one hand the number of meals I thought were good throughout the 28 days. The chocolate melting cake was delicious.
The two production shows, Rocking Broadway and Around the World, were the best production shows at sea that I’ve seen. The costumes and staging were outstanding.
There is no excuse for having the guest lack-of-talent show as the featured entertainment on a cruise ship. Obviously the talent show was just another venue for the egomaniacal John Heald to be in the spotlight.
I did not go to any of the other entertainment. After dinner I went to the Cabinet where an excellent jazz group was featured.
The volume in almost all venues, especially around the pool, was very LOUD. It was impossible to have a conversation without shouting.
If you like beanbag tosses, trivia, bingo, shopping talks or heavy drinking this is the ship for you. Fortunately, I’m satisfied with a deck chair and a good book. The only quiet area you’ll find in on deck 3, beneath the lifeboats.
Random Gripes and Compliments
The ship did not sink or break down. We made it to all our ports on schedule.
Butter, butter, who’s got the butter? It was a challenge getting butter at the Lido buffet. Sometimes there would be the grease and chemical concoction known as margarine available. I did speak with the head Lido chef about this, and to his credit the situation did improve after that.
Dinning room “entertainment” – I remembered this after I booked and almost cancelled because of it. I resolved to just leave the dining room when it started. It got very tiresome being rushed through 4 courses in an hour and 15 minutes so service could be stopped for the ‘show’. Fortunately the practice of dancing on the food service areas stopped after the CDC boarded.
The ports were outstanding. You can check my BLOG/review for details.
The outbreak of the norovirus on the transatlantic was handled OK. The 3rd day of the outbreak, the largest ever reported on a cruise ship, John Heald started making daily announcements on the PA system that it wasn’t that bad. The crew did an excellent job of cleaning and I appreciate their efforts. I do not understand why the beverage and continental breakfast areas remained self-serve; it negated all the extra work of the servers in the buffet area.
Smoking areas were limited on this ship. The aft, quiet pool is entirely non-smoking. I didn’t use the casino, but it reeked of cigarette smoke from when passing by. Ashtrays are hard to come by; they are not put out on tables, even in smoking areas.
One morning at the Lido buffet fried egg station, Hong told me he would not make scrambled eggs for me, that I had to go to the other line and eat the pre-made scrambled eggs. I tried those eggs one morning, and they are made from powdered eggs. Horrible. I had him make me a plain omelet instead. I did go to the purser’s desk, which spoke with the Lido chef. The request was not denied again.
I’m not a ‘pool person’ but for those of you that are, the pools are very small. I’ve seen bathtubs on crib’s that were bigger.
We docked in Ft. Lauderdale at about 5:30 AM. Customs required that the entire crew be cleared before any passengers. That made me wonder what Carnival had done to anger the customs officials. I’ve never seen this before. They began letting passengers off about 9:15. My color was called at 11:30 AM. I made it through the herds and danced off the ship at 12:30 PM.
Overall, I loved the ports but hated the ship. That’s what I put on my comment cards. It’s highly unlikely I’ll recommend Carnival or sail with Carnival in the future. My vacation time is just too valuable to risk it.